The last day of what was now feeling like a too-short English holiday was 31 May 2019, a Friday. We didn’t have to be at the airport until the evening, but we were required to vacate the flat by ten in the morning, so to save two trips to Heathrow, we packed our bags and left them with a drycleaner along the street. We spent the day at the National Gallery, the Natural History Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum.
The National Gallery was very very crowded, and it was sometimes quite difficult to get past other people to see the paintings. It was particularly annoying to have your view blocked by selfie-taking teenagers. A bit of social distancing would have been nice, but that idea was still a year off…
Peter and Charlotte went on to the Natural History Museum, in places also impossibly crowded. We had lunch there and then wandered around various collections. The minerals were especially interesting (to those who enjoy that sort of thing, I suppose).
A three-minute walk took us to the Victoria and Albert – also very crowded -for afternoon tea, where we were lucky enough to get a table in the Poynter Room and admire its tiled pictures. We revisited some of the exhibitions that we’d seen the day before, among them the jewellery display. With so much to look at, how odd it is that you find yourself gazing at what you’d rather not see. For me it was a small boy bouncing a basketball through the sculpture gallery, with his mother looking on admiringly. A clip over the ear would have been quite in order but I didn’t administer it, and I held my tongue.
We collected our bags from the drycleaner and took a minicab to Heathrow. We were early, but I’m glad we had a little time in hand, for Peter’s precious bottle of whisky, unopened, was discovered in my hand luggage. I was pulled to one side and given the option of forfeiting the bottle or going back out and checking it in as stowed luggage. We’ve been working our way through the Old Pultney since our return, so I’m pleased to say I went back out and came in again. What was first intended as a carry-on backpack was accepted as checked-in luggage by the airline and the bottle arrived safely back in Australia.
It was a long flight home. A few hours in Singapore was a rest of sorts, but it was night and raining and the airport butterfly house, one of its attractions – or distractions? – was closed. We ate some some Singapore food, I bought some perfume – not much cheaper than in Australia – and got on board again. Only Charlotte was able to sleep. Bed in Ballarat, dearly wished for, finally arrived.