The Holiday Inn was a bit of luxury for us after the stress of the last few days. Packing up all your furniture and tying up all the loose ends before leaving the country had been rather hard work. Thank goodness we had the help of my parents. They are extremely good at cleaning cupboards, scouring cookers and entertaining kids - all at the same time.
I cant say I slept much that night - it was rather difficult saying goodbye to my Mum and Dad and I couldn't help but wonder whether we were doing the right thing tearing the kids away from their grandparents. However a hotel breakfast always cheers me up and the early morning wake up call of a two year old always make you forget any worries.
We caught a flight from Brussels to Heathrow at 10 o'clock and began to worry about what we had let ourselves in for. The 45 minutes flight had seemed endless as DD2 decided that she didn't want to sit in one place and had to be continually swapped between myself and DH.
We arrived in Heathrow about 10.30 and it was still to early to check in so had a coffee and sat and thought about all the things we where going to miss from the UK. Once we had got past the family, our dog and radio 2 it got a bit difficult. As we hadn't lived in the country for the past 16 months we had become a bit detached and no longer felt as British as we used to. It will be interesting to see what we miss after a year in Wellington.
We were flying to Wellington via Los Angeles with Air New Zealand. A good tip when travelling with young children is to check in early. DD2 was not quite 2 when we flew, so to save a bit of money we had not booked her a seat and she was due to sit on one of our laps. Now the kind chap who checked us in managed to get us an extra seat for DD2 at no extra charge as the flight wasn't fully booked. I think this act of kindness probably saved our sanity!
Once checked in we headed towards the security gate. If you have ever tried to go through a security check with two young children and lots of hand luggage you will know that getting through in one piece is a feat of ingenuity. First of all you have to separate all electronic gear and laptops and remove from their bags. Toddlers have to be removed from their buggy and said buggy has to be folded in order to be x-rayed. All your personal jewellery, belts and metal items have to be removed and if security it at a particularly heightened state you have to remove your shoes as well. All this has to be done whilst trying to prevent toddler from climbing onto the conveyor belt or running off into the distance. You will also find you annoy the business suited executives and other passengers as you take twice as long as everyone else to pass through. Gosh it was fun! One particularly difficult bit was extracting Fimble from DD2 as even cuddly toys need to pass through the x-ray machine. DD2 quite enjoyed watching Fimble pass through the machine in the end and by the end of our trip was so used to going through security that she was placing him on the conveyor belt without being asked.
Heathrow departures is very boring if you are 4 or 2 years old (actually its not that exciting for a 33 year old). Once you have done Hamleys and Boots for the second time it can get very difficult. My two found the seats made a very good climbing frame so I decided to leave them to it and ignored the disapproving glances from fellow passengers. We thought it best to let them work off some energy now before the long flight.
The first sight of our plane was quite exciting. I thought once we boarded that there was no going back. This thought was rather scary as I knew that we were unlikely to be able to afford to come back and visit for at least the first year. I suddenly felt very attached to my home country.
I have never been on a Trans-Atlantic flight before and was really impressed with the pillows and blankets that they give you. The little TV screens on the back of the seats are also rather good and the girls were very impressed with the choice of kids programmes. We had come armed with an enormous selection of colouring books, sticker books, aqua-draw games, cars, teddies etc.. None of these were touched for the first half of the journey as the girls amused themselves with the TV screens and the trays of food we were given periodically.