“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing” – Helen Keller
At the very bottom of last week’s column I mentioned that Edgar had invited me to accompany him to the Bomber Command Memorial dedication in London. I had hesitated to add that last sentence because although I felt flattered to be asked I didn’t really expect to be going to the UK. I thought it was going to be one of those excellent ideas that would be discussed at length with great enthusiasm but never actually eventuate.
Then along came five o’clockish last Thursday afternoon and I received a phone call from Edgar and an email from Kirsten at Harvey World Travel Echuca. The flights were booked and the tickets were non-refundable: on the 19th June we will be taxiing down the runway at Tullamarine in a Qantas A380 bound for London via Singapore!!!!!! (I apologise for the excessive exclamation marks but I’m a little excited).
The excitement keeps building with Edgar now informing me he is looking for some striped pants, a morning coat and grey top hat so he can cheer Black Caviar to victory in her English debut in the 1200m Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot on Saturday 23rd June. I suspect Royal Ascot is quite a contrast to our annual Moulamein Races but no doubt just as entertaining.
Following on from the Bomber Command Memorial dedication at Green Park, London on the 28th June we then travel 286km north of the capital to North Killingholme for a couple of days to attend Edgar’s 550 Squadron reunion dinner, church service and Lancaster flyover. Edgar is very much looking forward to catching up with the few remaining old faces he flew with during the war and visiting some of his former watering holes for old times’ sake.
On the 1st July we will be driving down to Lincoln, located about an hour south of North Killingholme, to visit the Waddington International Air Show. The largest of all Royal Air Force (RAF) air shows, the RAF Waddington International Air Show attracts upwards of 140,000 visitors each year.
Also on the agenda is a trip to the historic Lincoln Cathedral (built between the years 1185 – 1311), which greatly impressed Edgar when he first saw it nearly seventy years ago. During the Second World War, Lincolnshire was home to many Bomber Command airfields and was nicknamed “Bomber County”. For the aircrews returning from raids over Germany and Occupied Europe, Lincoln Cathedral was an easily recognisable landmark and as such took on great importance to the men.
After this our itinerary becomes a bit vague for a week but I daresay we will enjoy tripping around the English countryside chatting with whomever we meet. On the 11th July we will be hopping onto the train in London and a couple of hours later, hopping off in Paris where we are spending a few days before boarding a plane home to Australia.
The magnitude of this impending trip still hasn’t sunk in for me and I don’t think it really will until we are on the plane. While I’m not looking forward to being away from Max, Sam and Henry for so long, I do appreciate what an incredible opportunity this trip is. Looking forward to being the international correspondent for The Bridge in London and typing the column to you from the other side of the world.