27 January 2019
As mentioned yesterday, Cornelia slept solidly for eleven and a half hours. Her waking coincided with me needing to go to the loo. I asked Ian to keep an eye on her while I nipped off, as I knew her “Mummy radar” would be strong! Sure enough, when I came back a few minutes later, Ian was in my seat and she was awake. Apparently she’d woken up the moment I’d left!! Anyway, she was in a thoroughly good mood, which only improved when she asked if she could now watch a movie, and I said yes! She started the Lion King again, cheerily telling me about all the different animals in the opening sequence. 🥰
She’d missed dinner last night (being fast asleep) so when breakfast was served, she munched her way through an omelette and baked beans, a mini muffin, a bread roll and a yoghurt, and sat quite happily watching the rest of the Lion King.
We were very excited to finally land back in England, and once we’d made it through passport control (where the officer told Cornelia that of all the thousands of people he’d seen through, she was his first Cornelia!) and collected our luggage, we headed through customs and into the arrivals hall. Our first stop was to M&S to pick up some essential snacks for the coach journey home, then we took our time ambling over to the main bus terminal to wait for our coach to arrive. We had landed at about 06:15, and I had allowed two hours for us to collect our bags, clear customs, and make it over to the central bus station, which turned out to be very pessimistic of me. We had well over an hour to kill, and it was very cold at the bus station! Although it is under cover, there are large automatic doors on all four sides, which were continuously opening and closing with people coming and going. Immediately, we were missing our 30+ degrees of the southern hemisphere!
There was a Cafe Nero inside the station, so Cornelia and I went and sat inside for a hot chocolate and a cup of tea, while Ian decided to sit at one of the tables “outside”, as he didn’t want to leave our luggage trolley unattended. Very noble of him, as I was bloody freezing and would happily have let it all be destroyed in return for a warm cuppa… Bugsy was good as gold, and received lots of compliments from other travellers who were impressed as she read out the various posters (“Oooh, Mummy, am I having BELGIAN hot chocolate?!”) and dashed outside to check on Daddy. She was in the most joyful of spirits – obviously long sleeps on the plane suit her!
Once we’d drained our cups, it was nearly time to leave, so we gathered ourselves together and went to check the departures board which would tell us which lane our bus would be in. Despite all of the other departures having numbers by them, ours simply stated “wait in departure lounge” (which feels like a total misnoma!). As the minutes crept by, we started to wonder if something was amiss. 08:20 rolled by, and the expected departure time immediately changed to 08:23. Then 08:25; 08:27; 08:35… and it finally disappeared from the board entirely! Argh!! There were no announcements, but I spied a man in an official-looking jacket surrounded by people, and guessed (correctly) that he was the one with the information. It turned out that the company which supplied coaches to National Express (Devon-bound) had gone into administration the day before, and so there was no vehicle. Double argh!! We couldn’t believe that we had travelled around the world really without any major dramas or delays and then the final stage of our journey had gone so wrong!
The official told us that they were trying to find a nearby company which may be able to take us, and while we waited, Cornelia did star jumps to keep warm. I was so glad that I had packed all our cold weather kit at the top of my suitcase, so we could pull it out easily. Amazingly, a local coach company were able to supply a bus, and by 09:00, we were all safely installed in our seats. But it was very cold again and the driver apologised and explained that it would take quite a long time for it to heat up. And he was quite right. Brrrrr.
I had bought Cornelia a “Frozen” magazine and a “Mr Men” magazine for the journey home, and she happily read through it, playing the games and chatting excitedly about them, which occupied her for pretty much the whole way to Exeter. We had a couple of stops en route, and a fifteen minute “comfort break” in Taunton, arriving at the Exeter drop off point on Honiton Road shortly after 12:30. Mum was there to meet us, which was lovely, and Cornelia raced through the car park to give her the biggest cuddle she possible could! I’m not sure who was happier! Ian’s shoulder was still giving him trouble, so I ferried the luggage over to Mum’s car and we just about all squeezed in! It was so lovely to see Mum, and Cornelia chatted non-stop all the way home.
We finally arrived home and it felt quite surreal coming back into our house, which had been occupied by someone else for the last nine months! Pete, our cleaner, had done a great job of preparing it for our return, and it smelt clean as we bundled ourselves in at last.
Mum had been kind enough to cook a lasagne for us, so it was just a matter of heating that up for supper, which we all devoured.
And as we clambered into our own bed again, that surreal feeling that it was all over hung in the air. But it was matched by the excitement of being home, and with Cornelia starting school in a month, the next adventure does not seem so far away!