Yesterday, my in-laws left Sydney and went on a half-world cruise. This is something they have been planning for two years. The family went to the city to see them off.
The boat – the Oriana – was enormous. In all honesty, I’ve never seen anything like it. The largest ferries in the harbour looked like toys beside the monster. After my in-laws had checked in and had been to see their cabin, the family (four generations) gathered together at a wharf garden bar and chatted.
Years ago, we would have been allowed onboard for a quick tour, but with the way the world has gone in recent years (ie terrorism), that’s no longer permitted. It’s a shame, because I would have loved to see the cabins, the dining rooms, the theatre, the swimming pool…heck, everything! I suppose I’ll just have to let my imagination run away with me by imagining what I’ve seen in movies. Yet, I guess, the movies exaggerate the grandness. I don’t suppose I’ll ever find out for real.
It was a hot, humid day in Sydney. The sun beat down on us in the beer garden (we all drank lemon squash, by the way). But it was nice to be together in these happy circumstances. Although, from what I’ve been told, the hours leading up to this time was stressful for nearly all of us.
My mother-in-law lost the photos she wanted to take with her to show the family in England. She stayed up to 2am looking for them, but to no avail. My father-in-law took a tumble in the morning. He has extremely bad hips and could not gain his feet again, without help. None of us know for sure if he hurt himself or not. He was pale, but I know he wouldn’t say a thing if he had hurt himself. Gary’s brother drove them to Sydney and could find nowhere to park after dropping them off. He ended up in a restricted area and felt stressed over that…and left early as a result. Gary’s children had the same trouble. Nothing was said, but the looks on their faces told us that words had been exchanged in the car over it. Gary and I decided to take the train, because I hate driving in the inner city and I know parking is a real hassle. However, the rail authority was doing trackwork. Those in Sydney know what this means, but for readers from interstate or overseas I’ll explain. This means we bought tickets for a train, which would take us all the way, but we had to catch two trains and coach to get to our destination. However, on this occasion, we got there ten minutes later than we would have by train all the way, so we were stress free.
After huddling together in a tiny square of shade that was available, gulping on our cold drinks and taking photos, it was time to say bon voyage. My in-laws looked a little startled. They were finally leaving…
Meanwhile, their family is worried. You see, my father-in-law isn’t well. He has leukemia. He has chemotherapy tablets for a month to six weeks, every two months. They make him feel sick and take his appetite away. He really isn’t strong enough to make this trip, but nothing we could say would change his mind. He was determined. His wife backed him, but we could see the worry on her face. Now, we just have to hope that nothing goes wrong while they are away.
Gary and I started our journey home. The morning trip had been a breeze, why wouldn’t the afternoon trip be the same? I’ll tell you why, because we’re talking about trackwork and CityRail. Normally, it takes an hour to get from where I live to Sydney. Yesterday, coming home, it took us almost three and a half hours. My ticket was swallowed by the machine before we even managed to get onto the station. We had to get security over and he went through the collected tickets looking for my valid ticket, which would be used to get me ALL the way home, not just through the first barrage of ticket machines. We caught the train to Central (where I was careful not to use the machines, I walked straight up to a staff member and was let through the wheelchair entrance) and then we had to wait, wait, wait…. Meanwhile, the people accumulating was growing, growing, growing…
When the coach finally arrived, it was a matter of survival of the fittest. No one has manners these days. There’s no “you were here first, so you should get on the coach first” niceties. Swarms of people all rush forward and literally push and shove their way onto the steps of the coach. Well, my name isn’t Karen Lee Field for nothing, I learned to push and shove from the greatest – my father. And when I am the second person to arrive at something like that, there’s no way I’m going to be the person who misses out and has to wait for the next coach. No way! Gary on the other hand is much to nice, so it’s a good job he was with me. 😀
The man who was there before us looked at me and said, “Are you ready to fight for your seat?”
I smiled and nodded. “You bet I am.”
When the doors squeaked open, the fight was on. Survival of the fittest, and I’m fit (when I want to be). The man beat his way to the steps and claimed his rightful place, and I beat my way behind him and took second place. Gary? Well he fell to the mob, and literally got pushed and shoved onto the bus. By the time he made it to the seat he was red faced and furious.
The coach trip was fine, but when we were delivered to the station where we would pick up the second train to take us the remainder of the way, all chaos broke loose. The train was grumbling at the platform, the driver told us to hurry. Battle stations!
To miss the train might have meant we’d have to wait another hour. We were NOT going to miss the train. I grabbed Gary’s hand and dragged him along behind me. We darted in and out of the crowd. I dragged him around corners and down steps. Avoiding the machines, because once your ticket is gobbled you know it will be gobbled again, I forced my way up to rail staff, flashed the ticket in front of them and kept running. Then we were running down the last set of steps. Gary was puffing behind me, but I knew we were almost there. We stepped onto the carriage and took our seat. Victorious again.
Three quarters of an hour later we were still sitting at the same station, at the same platform, waiting for more coaches to arrive. Grrr!!! Angry doesn’t begin to express what we felt. When the train finally pulled away from the station, the passengers actually gave a cheer of relief. We would actually get home that night.
At 7.30pm we staggered through the front door and collapsed. Exhausted, I didn’t bother with the internet, or with books, or with writing. I slouched on the lounge watching TV, waiting for a time that would be respectable for someone my age to go to bed.
I slept like a log. Perhaps I should travel to Sydney every day.