Firefighting Niece called in yesterday afternoon, arriving just before I returned from work at 4.30. She was on her way to see her Firefighting Nephew and his Jewish Betrothed. We hosted Firefighting Niece here many times over the time we have lived here. She would have been only about ten when we moved here.
Now she is a big grown up woman and off on her Euro Contiki Tour, and calls, texts, Face Book posts and emails have been going back and forth between us, her and R's oldest sister in England who she will visit for a few days. While Firefighting Niece is the loveliest and loving person, she is chaotic and always in a state of perpetual disorganisation that somehow she overcomes by her extraordinary ability to gabble nonsense and charm. Hmm, maybe she takes after her grandmother, my mother. But for the sake of R's sister's sanity, we need to pin her down on a date where she would arrive in northern England. R did Mother duty as per normal and Firefighting Niece came to join them for lunch, mainly to say good bye to her Nan. R laid down the law to her. Book your ticket from Amsterdam to Newcastle or else.
To her credit she did even better. She flies from Schiphol to Stanstead, where a friend of her brother's will pick her up and they will go to a music festival together and then she will catch the train to Newcastle.
She used to suffer from terrible allergies, constantly with cold like symptoms. She spent quite a bit on allergy specialists and medicines , to little avail. I can't remember how now, but she found out she suffers from coeliac disease, an intolerance to gluten, mostly or only found in wheat. It was hard to begin with but she deals with it quite well. She does at times break out and eat a product with wheat in it and then pays the price. As you would expect, there is an Australian website to help such people and today R printed out from the website cards in different languages to show people in European countries that she is coeliac (why is that word pronounced nothing like it is written?) The cards are a good thing, hey
Her mother, Ex Sis in Law offered to take her to the airport. Her father, Tradie Brother offered too, but she declined both as it would make the departure too emotional and a friend will take her to the airport instead.
I sat on the balcony with her for a few minutes. I started to give her wise old uncle advice, only to find R had already done so, with some effect.
A, the most important things are your passport and air tickets and phone. The rest can be fixed up once you are there. She piped in with, I have plenty of condoms of different sizes to take. Ohh, now I have done stuff that would make anyone's hair curl, except perhaps Fen's, but that was a wee bit confronting coming from what? A 23 year old who has sex. I am a stupid old man at times and good luck to her. I hope she have lots of good and safe sex with lots of people.
In one way she is organised. I mentioned about phone cards etc and that she would be in too many countries to to buy one, and she agreed. I said, use public wi-fi and turn your data roaming off on your phone. She said her sister would show her how to do that on her iPhone. Her tour is paid for, which includes most meals and she has saved $10,000 for spending, rather a lot in my opinion but she is shocker for just paying and not considering the cost.
Back to the practicalities of what we mentioned. Ummm, I think my passport is at dad's, somewhere. This was on Friday and she leaves on Sunday. Your airline tickets? Not sure. I have this (I write this for you for simplicity. Her answers are long and convoluted). That is your itinerary. Where are your airline tickets. Hahahaha, Uncle R. I better call my travel agent and ask. She will collect them the next day, the day before she is flying.
R, being the sensitive soul he is, picked up that she was a bit panicking about the trip (as you would be if your were disorganised as he is) and we both gave her great words of reassurance and told her that R's sister will look after her really well after her tour has ended, and with big hugs she departed.
I felt a bit teary. Bless the child.....except she isn't a child.