Berlin’s been pretty grey through June. Looking at the figures, it has been warmer in Grafton, NSW, in the middle of the night than in Germany at midday. So our 2 July departure date to fly south seemed to have been well-chosen.
It was. The day after we left, Berlin got a heat wave …!
The day after we left? That was Thursday. And Monday has just dawned here at Grafton. Is it really four days only? One of which was spent in a plane! Well, two planes. Air Berlin to Abu Dhabi and then Etihad to Brisbane. It was a good flight, made better by the wonderfully efficient wheelchair staffs everywhere, who trundled me from (a) to (b) …
I think my airline dilemma is solved after this trip. It’ll be Etihad (etc) next time. The planes and lounges are less glamorous than those of Emirates, but the route and timetabling are so much better. And the icing on the coffebun? Air Berlin served us up what I reckon was the best airline food I’ve tasted in decades! A delicious shrimp in curry sauce and an amazing piece of stewed beef which seemed straight out of a restaurant kitchen. Air Berlin business-class chef, take a bow.
On the 13-hour haul from Abu Dhabi all went well. First dinner, then a film. I’ve never watched a film on a plane before, but there was Into the Woods. Well, I wouldn’t have bothered to GO to it, but since it had come to me … why not? I was interested to see the players too. One hears so much about Meryl Streep, for example, and I’d never seen her perform. So, what did I think? Not a huge amount. The story falls apart latterly in a welter of aphorisms, some of the amusing songs were fun (‘Agony’, ‘On the steps of the palace’) but the ensembles were strangely awkward …
It looked pretty, but I was disappointed in the cast. Only Emily Blunt, as the Baker’s Wife, was anything like a standout for me. Ms Streep, as the Witch, under the makeup and special effects, veered between vaudeville (‘don’t mess with my greens’) and domestic tragedy skilfully and sang her ‘Last Midnight’ in a voice I didn’t know she had, and of the rest … I liked Red Riding Hood, the Baker and Tracy Ullman’s Julie Walters impression as Jack’s Mum, but Cinderella’s edgy voice got on my nerves, the beefcake boys weren’t funny enough, and I could have happily strangled the pudding-basin haired Jack, who was simply a carbon copy of the frightful Gavroche from Les Misérables. Even worse was Johnny Depp as the Wolf. And the mixture of accents was Babelonic. I nearly switched off half-way through, but I stuck it out. And then pushed the button and made my bed. Paul was already asleep.
I still haven’t quite got these beds worked out (and I do wish they would supply a proper pillow) but I eventually got mechanism and arms and legs sorted out, and dozed off for a few hours. I don’t know how folk sleep all the way, as Paul did, those wretched tinkling call-buttons jerked my from my doze time and again. Surely there’s a more modern system they could use. But soon it was daytime, and we rolled into Brisbane on time, only to be told we were parked in the wrong place and no, one couldn’t use the toilets until … well, there’s always something on a world-crossing flight! But most of it was good, and we got to the end not feeling wrecked, to be met by Rod and Veronica, Paul’s parents, and whisked off South, via little sister Nat and family, to lovely Bilambil Heights, and the home of big sister, Michelle, husband Jason and daughter Abby for the night. Of course, jetlag rolled in and I was brightly awake at 4.15, but it is so good to arrive to ‘family’!
We lunched down at Coolangatta, on good old Aussie fish and chips, with the rest of the family, strolled along the foreshore in the nicely medium-heat sun … it was hard to comprehend that just a day and a bit before we had been among the Baustelle of Berlin!
And as the day turned to evening, and my biorhythms and Paul’s were starting to protest sleepily, we loaded up again and took off for Grafton. And damn him, he slept the whole way again, while I counted minutes, gazed at the abnormally bright Evening star, the burning cane stubble fields, and thought: I’m in Australia. Hooray!