To inform entertain and excite my kids, Jamie, Patrick, Aaron & Sarah Middleburgh, our family and friends.

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Hong Kong

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I don't like flying.

When I lived in Bristol I used to fly to and from Europe so often that planes and airports feel like buses and bus terminals only less convenient.

I fear missing the flight (it happened twice); having it cancelled or diverted. on me. Once I was on a flight from Frankfurt which got diverted to Dublin due to fog - there was a rugby international the following day and I am convinced the pilot of the Aer Lingus hopper had a ticket and made straight for home rather than risk getting stranded in Bristol. (I don't blame him but try explaining to your Irish wife in Bristol that you were diverted to Dublin)

I get mild panic attacks until I am actually sitting in plane although on one memorable occasion in Bangkok , I was sitting in plane for a couple of hours because there was a problem with an engine; then one of the passengers had a heart attack and we were force to disembark with no prospect of a flight till the following day. To this day I avoid flights via Bangkok.

Long haul flights have special challenges like:

It was only on way back to HK that I truly realized what a good airport Hong Kong has. Terminal One Heathrow Departures is the absolute pits: cramped & scruffy with a naff duty free.

Thankfully I flew to Dublin from Gatwick although I was shocked at how busy the terminal was. Dublin airport by contrast was cozily “ramshackle” with tourist office staff who were on the case: Fixed us up with a hotel in centre of Dublin; armed us with family ticket for the bus/DART and sent us on our way like happy campers:

London Transport seems to have copied Hong Kong's Octopus cards and has introduced the Oyster card. The Octopus is so called; because in HK there were 4 MTR lines (ie 8 "legs") but I have no idea where the name Oyster come from (Transport bodies must have a pact to follow a seaside metaphor ?)

I noticed that

I used the privatized version “British Rail” to visit various places. Although it was a bit of a challenge to work out who served which destination I was pleasantly surprised that trains weren’t cancelled , appeared to run on time and for all practical purposes the network was same as when I left ie Clapham Junction is still the southern hub of the universe.

It was also comforting to see that the staff still actively support the performing arts aka street/platform theatre. A young woman did a brilliant sketch of a hapless passenger rushing for Gatwick with a heavy suitcase who was ambushed by evil automatic doors whilst in the act of getting on the train. She delivered her rich and evocative dialogue powerfully, if somewhat shrilly, whilst the platform staff masterfully maintained their studied passive response. Their non performance was underscored by the way they all nodded, beamed and winked at one another as the train left leaving them to decide who should fill out the incident report and whether they should ring ahead to stick her for the 7 pound/minute delay penalty.

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