The rumours are true, my twin brother Chris (two and a half years my junior) has lured me to take a trip overseas, to visit ThreshCon and Buxton. And see a lot of people and places we wouldn't see by staying home.
What's that you say, no rumours have been circulating? Well it's the thought that counts.
Before anyone asks - no, I haven't changed my basic opinion on travel, which is that I'll spend my time overseas when I've seen everything there is to see in Oz. And yes, I am still of the opinion that I live in the best bloody country in the world, it's just that we're not arrogant about it like the Frogs are.
No, I'm going overseas because there are some cases where what's nearly as good is actually impossible to achieve once you've done what's the very best. So for instance, you can't have an International Festival of Gilbert & Sullivan and a large collection of highly G&S-minded people when you have a culture that values blokiness alongside honesty, good looks, brains, mateship and toothbrushing. And you can't have a New York subway when you have the top ten suburban bus routes driven by people who will actually talk to you. Well maybe you can, but not on this planet and certainly not in this century.
So, to sum up: Chris and I are travelling to the USA and England. And we're calling (briefly - probably the airport only) at New Zealand and Ireland. We thought of doing the England-USA flight via Zurich but the timetable didn't work out. And the Chunnel trains aren't covered by the England Railpass so we don't get to drop in on France. Not even long enough to ask them in as Irwinesque an accent as I can muster "Hey you lot - why do you call it sham pain? There's nothing sham about it the morning after!" (Hmmm... I wonder if that question would bring on real pain if I asked it... highly likely.)
The timetable runs somewhat thus (sic):
14 July fly MEL-LAX by Air New Zealand. I'm told they're pretty good, although not quite Emirates standards like we had last time. They were the cheapest. ;) And as a bonus, we get to fly on a 747 for at least one leg. Queen of the Skies, I like.
Due to timezones we arrive about half an hour after we left Melbourne, so we get to gunzel around LA for a bit before grabbing the nearest Amtrak to Chicago. Twinette sleeper, should be Rather Good. And besides which, it allows us to crash after the flight, in full comfort, without paying extra for accommodation.
From Chicago we visit a few people (hi Devout, I know you're listening!) and then go to something called a "ThreshCon". From what I can tell, it's just a whole lot of people who play a computer game over the internet, getting together and drinking too much. I'm still trying to be the bus driver in that computer game, but nobody wants me. Or at least they don't want me urgently enough to write the code to run the bus.
After that we visit a few more people and maybe hit Disneyworld in Florida. Still working on that one though.
Then we make our way to New York, find out of the subway is everything it's cracked up to be by people who have a vested interest in running down Melbourne's train system, and then take a hop across the ditch.
We're flying Aer Lingus both ways, they were the cheapest (again). Hopefully they don't find out that I called myself the "wash dishing leprechaun" and said "where's my pot of gold?" on the whiteboard at work (after I spent my lunch break cleaning up after everyone else). I'm slightly too tall you see.
We have an England Railpass for the trip from Gatwick to Buxton. Worth EVERY PENNY - there's no limit to the fun you can have riding Pendolinos from Manchester to Stoke-on-Trent. Even if you happen to hit peak time (the light's funny in high lattitudes) and are required to sit in the luggage rack.
We're staying in Buxton at the university Halls of Residence, same as last time. They look after us there. It's very convenient to the shops, the station, the opera house, and in fact the whole town. And besides which, there's a Class 66 loco that goes past with a bulk freight train at 7am every morning. Forget "What time is it Eccles", forget Red Symons, this is the very best alarm clock ever dreamed up inside a human brain.
The G&S Festival itself is Something to See. The cream of the cream of G&S productions, all very reasonably priced, and with an audience of 900+ to help applaud. Hopefully we get to crew the Savoynet show - every time I hear "Come hither all ye people" or the intro to "As before you we defile" I start getting all excited about the prospect. BRING IT ON!
The festival finishes on the 23rd of August, we have a few more days in England then we fly out. Back to the USA, fly through Texas, out to LA and back on the jumbo home.
Traal will have an internet connection for a lot of the time we're over there, so photos may be posted as they happen. Otherwise, expect a spew of them at the end of August!
That's all folks. Anyone I haven't seen for ages, please make yourself known and we might drop in!