When you get the dreaded phone call from the other side of the world.
The phone call that grabs your heart and sends your pulse racing.
You act fast.
Family first. Always. No question.
My Dad needed to see his baby girl in the flesh.
His prognosis is not good, but boy is he a fighter.
He has strength like no other. He never complains.
My Dad has always been my hero.
To be honest, when I was growing up he was tough and strict (but very easy going with me). But since my Mumma died in 1999, he has softened so much.
I am so proud of the way he has coped for the past 17 years without his love in his life. I actually don’t think he ever realised just how much he loved her, until he lost her.
Which is so sad.
He has been really poorly for quite a while. Besides a whole heap of medical dramas that keep hitting him hard, he has another (yes, he has already had one repaired) bulging aneurysm (this time in his neck), it could burst at any moment, and unfortunately he is too poorly to survive the much needed surgery, due to severe breathing difficulties. My poor Dad is constantly attached to oxygen.
Also, to add insult to injury, his bladder cancer has returned, which we found out last week, is now untreatable.
We talked a lot while I was there (sometimes he just drifted off into a gentle sleep while we were talking, which was so cute).
We talked about my Mum a lot too, which was so lovely for both of us.
We made some sweet memories that I will cherish forever.
We also laughed a lot (at 84 he is still as sharp as a razor, with an amazing sense of humour).
He had his little girl home, which made him happy and he was determined to make the most of our time.
That’s what I love most about him. No matter how dire his health situation is, he still smiles, cracks (very bad) jokes and continually fights to stay alive.
He is truly amazing.
The hardest thing I have ever done though, was saying goodbye to him on the day I was leaving.
We both knew this was the last time we would ever see each other in the flesh.
Trying to put that last goodbye into words when the tears are flowing, is indescribable.
When I turned and walked away, my heart was breaking.
I just let the tears flow as I thought about our wonderful week together.
It has taken me over a week to be able to speak about it. Even to Jonny.
Before I change topic, I must just tell you about my incredible Sister. She is the glue that holds our lives together. It is hard to describe how selfless she is. My Dad is her number one priority, she makes his life run so smoothly. Both myself and my brother are so lucky that she is my Dad’s rock.
Vonnie, thank you for everything that you do, I am so proud to call you my Sister.
Anyway, let me just rewind.
The 5 days before I dashed back to England were tough.
I was still working and I needed to sort my head out. I was emotional and in a complete tail spin. Packing was the last thing on my mind.
All I could think about was getting back to my Dad.
When it came to packing, I was like a robot (which on reflection worked like a dream – I wore almost everything I packed, except for one pair of white jeans and a short sleeved long tunic, a lightweight dress and a spare pair of ponte pants).
My top packing tips for flying long haul:
- Make a list of outfits (take the list with you) – complete with shoes and accessories. I even add in the colour of my undies at this stage.
- Always try on the outfits to make sure they work.
- Build the capsule based around the shoes/boots/handbag colour you are taking.
- Wear your heaviest coat/boots to travel in – I wore my leather jacket and my comfy CR ankle boots.
- Carry a lightweight cardigan or shrug and a scarf for during the flight – it gets super chilly at 40,000ft.
- Pack a pair of ‘Spa Slippers’ in your hand luggage (I also carry a snap lock plastic bag to store them between connecting flights). When I land at my destination I just leave them, and any rubbish I have accumalated on board. Never go to the bathroom on board the flight in just your socks – I’m sure you can imagine why 😉
- Pack an Aussie Electrical board in your suitcase (this top tip came from Nikki at Styling You, I believe she picked it up from Beth at Baby Mac).
- Carry disposable make-up wipes, moisturiser plus a travel sized toothpaste/brush in your hand luggage. Take your make-up off as soon as you’re settled on board, followed by lashings of moisturiser.
- Change of underwear and clothes if you have a long transit stop. For me a quick underwear change on the way there was all I could manage, on the way back I had a full change of clothes.
- Sleeping pills and earplugs for the flight plus any medication you may be taking. I use Restavit Sleeping tablets (available from Chemist Warehouse).
- Pack a USB lead for your phone in your hand luggage (most larger aircraft have a USB port in your seat and free WIFI – which I loved).
Making a list of outfits.
This is such a simply way to make sure you are not over packing. My suitcase was medium sized and weighed 22kg when full (I was so proud of myself – I did have to sit on it the case though 😉 ). A medium case for me is manageable especially when lifting of the luggage carousel. I also carry a handbag with my essential in, plus a wheely travel bag. Inside this, I pack my laptop plus a change of clothes. I also swapped my leather jacket for a long cardigan that I had in packed in there at the departure gate. I then pop this in the over head locker and forget about it, until I land.
I made sure the clothes I packed were all complimentary, not random items I just threw in without thought.
I also packed enough outfits to wear clean fresh clothes, everyday.
If you nail the bottoms – the tops and accessories are easy.
The pair of ponte pants I loved were these ones* from Blue Sage
I also threw in my denim jacket* at the last minute.
Once I new the bottoms, I decided on the tops:
I took two of these long sleeve v-neck* beauties from Betty Basics
My favourite stripey tee*.
2 neutral blouses for the evening plus my favourite leopard shooties.
And what suitcase would be complete without a white shirt.
Just before I left I received a fabulous parcel arrive from Read and Bell – it was a life saver.
All three pieces are simply divine and had to come with me.
Soft Australian merino wool at it’s finest. I’m still blown away with the quality of the beautiful pieces – they are also super stylish, a must for any fashionista’s wardrobe
This cardigan* from Lee Lou Anne was also a non-negotiable – I’m still a smitten kitten
Guess what? The lovely girls have just sent me the khaki* – so happy!
Spring in England can still be very chilly – there was snow hitting the on board camera, as my plane touched down in Birmingham.
It was a shock.
My suitcase was full of warm pieces that worked, but still looked stylish.
Things to do before you leave for the airport:
- Book you flight seats (choose wisely if travelling alone) If travelling on the A380 and the ‘upper deck’ is available book it (any spare seats will be upstairs). I moved on two of my flights and had the luxury of 3 seats to myself on one flight and 4 on another – it makes a big difference!
- Select a different in-flight meal. This means you are guaranteed your meal first before the full service is served. For the shorter flight DXB – BHX (7.5 hrs) I always order a fruit platter. For the longer flight BNE-DXB (14.5 hrs) I opted for gluten free (who wants to bloat when they are travelling).
- Check out the transit airport – for me this was Dubai. If you have a long stopover (I had 10 hrs on my return) is there a hotel? Somewhere to shower? A pool? Massage? Hair Salon? There is a transit hotel in Dubai but you can’t book by the hour so I chose the Snooze Cube option (located in T1 at Gate C22). I booked 5 hours. It worked so well. It did mean catching a train between terminals, but even travelling alone this didn’t phase me. Just follow the signs and leave plenty of time to eat, get changed and make your way back to the terminal you are leaving from.
- If you are ever at Changi Airport in Singapore I highly recommend the transit hotel – you can book by the hour, although make sure you book in advance.
Do you have a ritual when it comes to travelling? Any tips you would like to share?
All pieces marked * were gifted to me in accordance with my disclosure policy.