Saturday, August 6, 2011

Back in the wide brown land

Well of course to be able to blog you have to get onto the internet and I had forgotten that in this wide brown land - internet access is not at all universal and in fact vanishes as soon as you leave towns and cities.

But  - as we stayed this time in the very same house that we stayed in last year I should have remembered that it has no connection to the outside world.

Not that it is far from anywhere – indeed it is only about 3 kilometres from Bellingen – which by Australian standards is quite a large town – and which itself is only about 30 kilometres from Coffs Harbour - which is actually an Australian ‘city’.

But – by Australian standards – we may as well have been on the moon – and could not even get mobile (cell) telephone reception unless we went to the ‘communications room’ which was the patch of garden down by the garden shed – overlooking the creek in the distance. (The photo is of Cate in the Comms Room).

However – I am getting ahead of myself – and should start at the beginning.

It never ceases to amaze me that however many times I get caught – I never learn. The seat allocation was done for us by the people who did the booking and I did not check it.

Turns out it was the bulkhead seats behind the toilets – with the aisle seat the one that is half way into the aisle. It is designed this way so that everyone who goes to the toilet can bump into you on the way there and the way back.

Now bulkhead seats are great if you are in road kill class - as I usually am - but on the very rare occasion that I am in business class – I hate it. You have no storage space and you have those shitty fold out screens.

Things went from worse to worser. Cate’s seat did not work – and as the only reason we were flying Emirates was to get flat beds this was not good.

Cate’s cold stare prompted the flight attendant to remember from her training that the seat could be possibly manually adjusted to the flattish position.

This fairly lackluster response prompted Cate to move into her Death Stare mode – known throughout the airline industry – which can stun cabin attendants at a range of 50 metres.

This prompted a flurry of activity which had two cabin attendants sweating, grunting and heaving for 10 minutes to get the seat into a sort of flattish position.

Cate watched this performance much as a python would watch a mouse that it was contemplating eating for dinner.

There was much apologising and grovelling and offering of wine – which much to my surprise I accepted with some alacrity as I never ever drink on planes - but I was somewhat stressed by the entire incident and Cate’s Death Stare always has some collateral effects on me.

But – as things go – they went. The bed was not – as we expected it to be – flat. OK let’s be honest – we never expected it to be flat – but we were hoping for flat-ish.

It was sort of S shaped and rather short. Once again I should have checked the website that tells you about these sort of things but honestly my days are so full that it slipped my mind. Actually – that is not quite true – it is just that I am a fool.

So Cate scrunched up like a pretzel with her feet hanging over the end of her seat – next to the toilet door. She in fact took it rather well and insisted that I sit next to the window.

The male flight attendant who – with the female flight attendant – wrangled the seat into a semi-flat position – told Cate that he was going to write a long report about the problem.

I am not sure that was necessary ‘8J FUBAR’ should do the trick. I am sure they would not use language like that. Just jargon – like 8JF.

The female flight attendant was most attentive and kept bringing me wine. At one stage I proposed to her but she said she could not accept because it was obvious that I was married and that Cate would simply kill us both with a single withering  glance if she found out about our relationship.

We were in the same seats – on a different plane - on the next leg from Dubai to Sydney – which was 15 hours – but once again Cate let me have the window seat and I made a fine nest. This time the beds were in fact really flat so we slept most of the time.

Cate was able to reach the toilet door with her left foot so could kick it shut if people did not close it properly.

My video screen was on the bulkhead wall about three metres away so it was like being at the drive-in – although it was too far away for me to actually watch anything.

Cate does this sort of thing every week but for me it is quite exciting.

Next – back in the Australian bush. We saw Kookaburras.


  1. Hmmm. And I seem to remember a dvd player that didn't work...

  2. One would think that the airlines can expect that people who fly business class bring their own iBed!

    The moment I saw Cate's image I suspected it had to to with communication. ;-)

    Vienna's slowly getting mildewy and the food not hidden away in a dehumidifier moldy faster than one can eat it. The Tabak Trafik up the road with the walk-in humidor is in Chapter 11.

  3. P.S.:
    I clicked on the picture and it enlarged.
    Wow, it is really great! Love the coffee cup on the fence post.

  4. Haha! - we had a similar communications room in the middle of a paddock on a holiday in Mudgee. Although ours was a little fancier - we erected a sign and placed a chair next to it.

  5. Good thing it wasn't raining in the comms room.

  6. We just flew back to Shanghai in Economy Comfort, the row behind the bulkhead. This is where the aisle is exactly the width of the trolley and has a perfect view of the lav. It is truly amazing how many people do not close the door, including the FA's.

    My left arm is sure to be purple tomorrow.

  7. I went ahead and came to Wien to house-sit while you were gone to the other Austria, Austri-alia. I couldn't find the key to get in so I had to break a window, but don't worry, I have already fixed the window AND determined that your air conditioner problem is embedded cat hair in your evaporator coil. BUT I left my cat hair removing tool at home in Texas, so you'll need to hire a local HVAC guy or gal to fix that problem. You are right, you do ha ve a great view from your apartment. Your abstract paint job is fairly good, too. It reminds me of the time I did some broad stripes on a tiny wall in my first house in Phillips TX, now a ghost town by forced corporate evacuation decree. My son made it back to the USofA and so we can return to our respective homes soon as well. Looking forward to your next on the road report. Say, did you know you were outta milk?

  8. Ah yes, the joys of flying. Business class is but a dream for the likes of me. Pam and I had seats against the toilet bulkhead in cattle class once, along with a hundred American teenagers within hearing distance; but at least we didn't have inconsiderate people behind pulling themselves up on our chairs. What a flight that was. Hope you see some roos too, at least those not being eaten by our cats. I thought we were all getting Broadband, you've arrived too soon.

  9. Anna W: Thanks

    Annie: Yes we had one of those

    Merisi: iBed - now there's and idea! Thanks for the pic comp!

    freefalling: There was a rock but Liz was usually sitting on that with her laptop

  10. simon: Ta

    Merricks: They would have to drive the car up there.

    fmcgmcclic: Nice one. You have more fun on planes that I do.

    esbboston: I have been telling those guys for years it was cat hair! I have told Cate about the milk thing - she gets homes tonite. Thanks for the report - bill me.

    Sandy: Yeh good luck with that broadband thing.

  11. he he he - love this one. And know exactly what you mean. We travel frequently a lot and i'm like a magnet for broken seats - don't recline, screen doesn't work but audio does, audio doesn't work but screen does etc etc and so I've perfected the death stare as well. he he. sounds like a long but tolerable flight ;).

  12. Nice story. But as for me, I'd rather give up internet for a beautiful place to live.