26/5, 8.30pm New Zealand
On tour.... so that currently consists of getting to Auckland airport early in fear that my 43 kilos (and that is not a typo) will not be accepted at check in. I must have read and reread my ticket at least 170,324 times. I gave it to every person that would look to see if I had misread my baggage details, and every person gave the same raised eyebrow, short inhalation of breath and momentary look of confusion, as the thoughts travelled from “Tori, you're a bit of a space cadet, every carrier has a 25 kilo weight limit” to “Wow, that's a lot of luggage!” But when you're taking a keyboard, guitar, 200 cd's and a change of underwear, you need 46 kilos. Well 43 to be precise. Thank you China Southern Air!!
27/5 5am China
I do love the airport. It's such an exciting place. Overall people are excited and happy, and everyone has purpose, which I think makes us walk a little taller, a little faster. A bit like that person at the pub who has just potted a ball on the pool table. The exhilaration makes them dash around the table as though they may now be world champion at pool. My fondness of the airport is only heightened when you get on board a plane and the seats are almost comfortable. I think at this point someone should start paying me for all the glowing words I have to say about China Southern Air, but so far (with 13 hours to go) it proves to be my favourite airline. Add to the seats being slightly off vertical in the upright position (by only perhaps one degree, but that one degree means a lot!), that there is a direct usb port to charge various items (along with a lot of checked in baggage, I also have an array of uselessly useful electronic items in my carry on, plus 150 cds, but ssshhhh, don't tell, I'm trying to make it look light....) which invariably need regular boosts. Then, add to that I was seated in 52a.
Now to most, being at the back of the aircraft signals lots of noise, lights, hustle and bustle as the crew do what they gotta do, all of which is true. However, because the plane tapers towards the back, seat 52a is a row of only two seats, window side, with space enough by the wall for me to lie down!! Oooohh yeah, I'm ok with light and noise if I can be horizontal! Hence I am feeling quite fresh and relaxed waiting the almost 4 hours for my next flight. Scratch that, not really fresh. It is 27 degrees celcius in Guanzhou, and if I could harbour a guess at the humidity levels, I would say in the 90's. It's really hot. Plus, I came bedecked from autumnal cool Auckland (aka lots of clothes), PLUS, the air con in the airport does not appear to be working....... I am, to put it mildly, slightly sticky.
The view out the Guangzhou airport window is perhaps not the most inspiring I have seen. It is very orderly, with lots of colourful lines covering the concrete runways and plane parks (do plane parks have an official name? Plane space? Plane lot?) All of the vehicles are neatly lined in a row, and you can't see the horizon. Think West Coast anti cyclonic gloom, (for the non west coasters, REALLY thick fog) multiply it by 26.3, dip it in rust coloured paint and hang it less than a kilometre in the distance. Then add a smell of, hmmmm, how to explain it. Shall we call it effluessence? There you go! Guangzhou, China!
28/5 3.20pm England
The plane was almost an hour late coming into Heathrow. This however, had not perturbed me as I had met the most lovely gentleman on the plane who kept me entertained for most of the 13 hours we had together. When we weren't discussing and solving the worlds problems, I was napping or watching one of the many movies available. Aaahhh, the joys of long haul travel. Inserting myself momentarily in to the world of visual media so that I can pretend I'm actually informed about the current blockbusters!
At this moment, I feel so incredibly fortunate. I am sitting in a big old mansion somewhere near Sussex, drinking really amazing tea (ok Sally, Mandy and Liz, I stand corrected, I can taste the difference between English and New Zealand tea) watching the grey day pass whilst I get to recount the way in which I got here. My incredible friend Gavin, met me at the train station (exclaiming over the amount of baggage I had bought with me. And rightly so, I'd had to lug it all the way from Heathrow into the centre! I had a LOT of stuff!). We left it all in baggage storage at the station and went off for a quick Indian feed and to a Beautiful South gig! This did result in us not getting home (did I mention home is a beautiful mansion in the Ashwood forest?) until well after 1.30am, but it was worth it, and I think potentially the best way to rid yourself of jet lag! If not the most efficient, it is undoubtably the most fun!
30/5 Mouldsworth, England
Despite it's dubious sounding name and the fact that I am currently accommodated in an old cow shed, Mouldsworth is really a rather charming place! It is neither mouldy nor smelly, and I have been welcomed into Chestershire life like family. I drove all the way from Sussex to Chestershire today (almost all the way south to most of the way north for the uninitiated) and I never want to see another motorway! Wow, traffic.... need I say any more.....
The lovely Oli (whom will be accompanying me on this tour) found himself in the most privileged position of being asked to be sound engineer for Hollands Nina June. If you haven't heard of her, she is someone to watch for (just quietly, I'm working on how to get her and her band out to NZ). It was nearly two hours of great music, with wistful story telling in between. As a trio, they are well rehearsed and very accomplished musicians. The performance was seamless and well done, the song writing, compelling and touching, and there is an inspiring honesty to Nina's demeanour which is down right endearing. Oli has three gigs sound engineering with them, of which I am pleased, as it means I will be able to listen again and again to Nina.
Tomorrow we climb!! (oh, practice first of course....)
I will endeavour to put some photos up. As soon as I find my camera charger.......