At the start line they did the standard Parkrun briefing, and asked if there were any tourists. Some slight appreciation for folk visiting from other parts of Australia, then I pipe up and say I’m from London. There are audible gasps and then a round of applause!
Unlike the previous week at Varsity Lakes, Kevin decided that today he really would run with me. In fact, he was also to act as my personal race photographer. This also meant he got to hear how loudly I breathe and wheeze and mutter obscenities at myself when I’m not going fast enough.
Remarkably, we set off at a pace that would bring us in under 30:00. Even more remarkably, I kept this pace going until 4km or so. In order to force myself not to slow down, I openly proclaimed that if I did not come in under 30 minutes, I would deny myself the afternoon’s scheduled brewery visit – or at least any beer while there.
Since I’m largely better motivated by stick than carrot, I smashed 30 minutes into the ground, coming in at 29:23. My personal best is 23:54 so this isn’t some incredible achievement, but I think it’s only my second time under 30 minutes this year so it felt like success. The previous week had been 31:13 or so, so it was almost two minutes quicker than that. Hurrah! Batch, a brewery in Sydney, beckoned.
The Qantas Club is immediately through security. According to what I’d read on the internet, I had no access to this with a shiny card, and I definitely didn’t have access with my economy ticket. So I’d paid, 40 AUD, a couple of days before when getting the offer in my email. I was muchly aggravated, then, to present myself and notice all the “oneworld elites welcome here” signage. Yes, my shiny card allowed me in after all. Bloody hell.
Still, at least I’m in the lounge, a haven of peace while the terminal is full of people loitering around for their delayed flights to everywhere... oh. No. What I meant is, at least I’m in the lounge which has an 80%/20% ratio of kids to adults.
Bleurgh. It’s a fucking crèche. But there was a seat near the bar, and the bar was open, so what the hell. I’ll have a beer and ... a plate full of salad, please. Not only do I genuinely enjoy eating this stuff, I delighted in sending a pic to my bro so that he could show my nieces how I was eschewing the free cookies and ice cream in lieu of delicious beetroot.
Also fizzy white wine and plate of nuts.
A walk across the tarmac from gate 1 to my plane, QF863 to Sydney. I was in row 4, which is the first row behind business class. Not just on this flight, but always - business class is its own thing on Qantas short haul planes, unlike the convertible nonsense BA have.
This turned out to be a massive rookie mistake. Because row 3 only has two seats on either side of the aisle, there’s nothing in their seat backs. No screens, no USB power, for the three seats in row 4. For the same reason there’s no table, meaning mine is in the armrests which make this row’s seats noticeably narrower than those behind. Literally the only benefit of being here is a bit more legroom – which was nice – and the ability to get off sooner, which I absolutely didn’t need at all.
Things are moving. All the delays had been due to bad weather in Sydney and Melbourne. In fact, word was that one of Sydney’s runways had closed, so bad was it. If true, it sounded like I was in for a bumpy landing.
But up here, in New South Wales’s northern rivers, things were still bloody lovely.
In the air, pie arrives. This is the free food on a short haul Qantas flight: a pie. I totally approve.
I asked for a beer to go with it, but was told it would cost 6AUD. I didn’t fancy paying for it, and anyway was a few drinks in from the airport and stuff, so it wouldn’t harm me to stay off. And besides, it was still lovely outside.
As we banked over Sydney, the city looked fantastic. It almost always does. Where’s this bad weather? All gone after a morning of chaos?
Once we were out over the ocean ready for final approach into Sydney, it did in fact get very bloody bumpy. Not Cessna-12-seater-through-a-storm bumpy, granted, but bumpy nonetheless. We landed at almost 4pm, over an hour later than scheduled. Kevin and the girls, however, had still not even left Gold Coast – their 1235 original, 1515 delay eventually got punted all the way to 1630. Christ.
Further compounding all the fail, this here is a picture of a very disappointing Rueben sandwich, and a lager called “lager”. I bought it at one of the landside food court concessions. There are a couple where one of the cards in my wallet would entitle me to 36 AUD off my bill, but only if I could also present a same day boarding pass – and the reason I need to wait for the Qatar Airways desks to open is because their fucking app refused to issue me with such a thing.
The time at least afforded me the opportunity to write up some of the stuff I’d done during the week, but it was a mistake to believe the airport WiFi was up to the job of uploading it.