A Country Escape

Carl and I, together with our ‘only’ child, have left the ‘big smoke’ for a few days on the farm in Mittagong.  For me it’s a much needed time of de-stress after taking Miss Arabella to the airport, first thing Saturday morning.

The long shadows of winter

The long shadows of winter

It was a few weeks before Christmas when Arabella came to me and said, ‘I’ve got something to tell you, mum’.

I said, ‘What now?’

‘I went on-line and bought myself a trip to New York’.  These are the dangers of the internet.

‘You can’t be serious’.

‘I am, mum.  I’m going in March and I’ll be gone for four weeks.’

‘Who are you going with?’

‘No one.  I just want to go by myself’.  That’s because she has never travelled by herself and has no idea what it’s all about.

‘And I’ll be going to China too’.


‘The cheapest flight I could get was with a Chinese airline so I’m flying to some random airport in China and then four and a half hours later I board the plane for LA’.

‘How many hours will it take you to get to LA?’

‘About 30’.

A very wintery landscape

A very wintery landscape

‘Thirty hours?  You know if you fly direct you can get there in 14?’  What a route-march.  Clearly, the March up-up-and-away plans never eventuated due to a series of events I’ll spare you.  As she didn’t go in March, she had to change her ‘cheap-flight’ to LA and with all the penalties she now had the most expensive economy flight to LA.

The day before she was due to fly, I had no less than one thousand things to do in all corners of Sydney.  As I ran from the house to my car at dawn’s breaking light I yelled a list of things she needed to do to prepare for her early departure the next morning.

The wood stack - we're making plenty of trips to the wood pile

The wood stack – we’re making plenty of trips to the wood pile

When I arrived home well after sunset, she was curled up on the carpet in the foetal position right in front of the heater with a doona wrapped around her.  ‘What are you doing?’

‘I can’t do anything, mum’.

‘Have you done those things you need to do to get ready for your flight?’

‘I’m too stressed.  I just haven’t been able to move away from the heater’.  That’s where she’d spent the day.  I poured myself a wine.  We then scooped her up off the floor and took her out for dinner where suddenly the stress left her and she was all excited about her pending adventure.

Two special friends enjoying their escape to the country

Two special friends enjoying their escape to the country

The next morning we were up before the sparrows and we drove her to the airport.  Her Chinese flight was at the furthest corner of the terminal and it had the lengthiest queue.  And the queue moved slowly.  By the time we made it to the counter almost every seat was taken except for those seats no one wants to sit in.  Apparently the travel agent was supposed to pre-book her a seat but this was over-looked.  She was now squeezed into a middle seat in the middle section at the rear of the plane.

After her bag was checked in I noticed she didn’t seem to have any hand luggage except for one small handbag.  ‘Where’s your hand luggage?’

‘I don’t have any’.  She also didn’t have a passport wallet and so all her documents and papers were roaming around in her handbag ready to fall out or be stolen or lost.  ‘When you get to LA buy yourself a passport wallet so you know where all your paperwork is.  And then go and buy a bag for all your carry-on stuff.  You can’t walk onto the plane carrying all your books and magazines; you need something to put them in’.

And then we realised we had been in the baggage queue for so long that her plane would be boarding in 10 minutes and she hadn’t even been through immigration.  ‘You have to go or you’ll miss your flight’.

That’s when the tears started and I managed one quick photo before after a prolonged hug, my daughter was off to LA via some remote city in China and then from there, to New York City all by herself.  A big thank you to Joanne from Eats Well With Others for being so kind to say Arabella can contact her at any time.  Let me know if she does, Joanne!

Miss Arabella about to head off on her big adventure

Miss Arabella about to head off on her big adventure.  Note the ‘hand luggage’.

Meanwhile, down on the farm it’s freezing.  It was 5C (41F) yesterday but with the 60km/hr winds, the ‘real’ temperature was -1C (30.2F).  I’ve been staying pretty close to the fireplace and venturing outside only when necessary.

Miss Arabella has been phoning me via Viber and all is well although there were a few situs with the Chinese-leg of her flight.  Seat allocation is apparently regarded as optional and when she boarded her flight there was a man in her seat who refused to move.  He wanted to be in that row with his wife, two children and a baby being bounced on a knee.  I’d say she got a lucky escape.  She was moved towards the back of the plane to sit in that man’s allocated seat but when she sat down the man beside her asked if she could move further to the back and swap with his wife so he and his wife could sit together.  So she moved again but then there was a problem with that seat so she was moved again to the back row of the plane next to the very noisy and constantly-in-use toilets.  By then she was beside herself and in tears.  She called for the steward and told him she had been moved three times and that she didn’t want to sit in such an awful part of the plane when it wasn’t even her allocated seat.  Fortunately he was a compassionate chap and she was moved further forward to an exit row with a spare seat next to her.

So while Arabella is whooping it up in youth hostels in dodgy parts of the USA, I’m down on the farm letting go of my stress – it will be a gradual process.

A very wintery landscape

Where the wombats like to roam

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  1. Yip I would be stressed to the max as well – hope all goes well for her and that you can start relaxing soon 🙂

  2. She’s a brave girl – and you will just have to be brave, I’m afraid. I went through all of this when my son went with a mate on a Contikii tour, thinking that his parents had no idea what went on during those tours. He had no idea it was our generation who invented them. He lost his phone, wallet & both cash cards in the first 5 days, but we all made it through.
    New York is a scary place to take on, on her own but I’ll bet she has a wow of a time.

  3. I hope she’s safe and has a great time. Will she have a chance to come up to Toronto?

  4. Good for her just getting on the plane on her own. Although not so great for your heart rate. I’m sure she will have a fab time and will find her way around NY no problem at all.

  5. WOW! That’s some journey to undertake as your first flight on your own. The Glam Parisian has the habit of picking those ‘cheap’ flights that actually land you nowhere near the city you’re actually flying to. I’m sure Arabella will have a wonderful time and love every minute. GG

  6. Hahaha,…de-stressing is right! You need it, girl! I hope your daughter Will have a fab time over in NY & in La too,…yes!

  7. Oh, Charlie, I know what you’re going through and am glad you have the diversion of time on the farm. My second daughter has traveled three times, alone, to Argentina. Worry, worry, worry. Her longest visit was for six months while studying abroad there. She was mugged once, fortunately not hurt and only cash, credit card, phone and camera stolen. I should not even be telling you this.

    Arabella will return an even stronger and confident young woman for her solo travel.

    Keep praying for her, though. That’s my advice.

    Isn’t your sister in LA? That should help ease the stress a tad.

  8. I hope all goes well though I’m sure she’ll manage to deal with events as they come up on her own and have lots of fun to regale you with when she comes home.

  9. My goodness she has some guts! I never could have done that at her age. Now…I’d be happy to of course. 😉 Well, if she gets stuck in Chicago on any part of her tour, she is welcome to contact us as well. We’d be happy to help or offer a place to stay. I hope she has a wonderful adventure. I’m sure she’ll have amazing stories to tell. Enjoy your country stay. Thank goodness for Viber. That will help the nerves. (That, and wine and a cozy fire.)

  10. She will definitely stay warm! Summer has surely arrived and it’s here to stay, humidity and all! Remember…. I told you we’d be complaining about the heat soon enough. LOL Hugs and prayers for safety for your girl…and your sanity! 😉 xo

  11. Poor you Charlie! When is she back?

  12. Oh my what an ordeal. Your poor shattered nerves Charlie!
    Pete and I wouldn’t survive without Viber – it is our only “reliable” source of communications when he is away, which is often.
    Enjoy your relaxing time away and here’s hoping the temperature improves.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  13. Charlie, I know how you feel but she will be fine. Once they are by themselves and they have to be independant without parents they have to think on their feet and do it on their own. A great learning experience. My boys who were very young had to travel independantly long distances from Hong Kong to the States with a change over in Japan. Yes as parents we worry to she will be fine. Pour yourself another glass of wine.

  14. What an adventure for Arabella, but a stressful time seeing her off for you (and perhaps for her too!). My younger sister is travelling Europe at the moment, and the first time she did that (a few years ago), my Mum ended up flying her across! This time she has flown with her boyfriend and no mother, so I am calling that progress. I hope Arabella has a great time and sorts out her hand luggage 😉

  15. She is on an adventure!! Wow! Listen, I live South of Boston, about 3-4 hrs worth of ride into New York. If she feels any need, please have her give me a ring. I hope she has a wonderful, wonderful time, and learns to be around New York and all the lovely stuff it has to offer. Good luck!

  16. I’m stressed with you! I’m sure she’ll be ok – don’t you have a sister over there who can look after her? (The one Archie stayed with on his gap year?) These kids, they’ll be the death of us. Enjoy the break in Mittagong – hope it’s restful xx

  17. Sweet Posy Dreams says:

    Oh my goodness. I can’t believe Arabella has taken off for New York on her own. She’ll have lots of stories to tell on her return, that’s for sure. We’ll all be on pins and needles until she gets home safely.

  18. This is SO exciting, oh my gosh! I understand the natural apprehension but she is going to go on an incredible adventure 😀

    Choc Chip Uru

  19. I love this farm every time you write about – the perfect place to chill out and relax. Arabella will be fine.

  20. OMy,
    I was stressed and exhausted just reading this.
    …but I LOVE how adventurous your daughter is.
    This will make her SO MUCH more interesting and rich as life moves forward.

    Xxxx kiss from USA.

  21. Oh dear, Charlie. You’d think it would get easier as they get older, wouldn’t you….
    I’m glad she stuck up for herself on the flight instead of just getting bullied around, that shows plenty of backbone. I think she’ll be fine, but I’ll join you in praying hard anyway! Xox

  22. Joining every one in wishing your daughter a safe and very happy journey! Hmm: she will be a lot wiser as far as the world goes ere her return! I remember as my older daughter + best girlfriend went to China for three weeks at age 16 way back in the Dark Ages. But that WAS with one of the very very early high school group tours . . . felt we could not stop her but were freaked out quite some time: that was the era before laptops and daily contact 🙂 !! One scared phone call but a huge amount of fun and growing up!!!!!

  23. I bet Arabella learns and grows a lot from this trip! It’s all very exciting and daunting I’m sure but travelling is such a pleasure. Is she by herself the whole time?

  24. OMG Arabella is so brave to book a trip all by herself but it’s going to be the most amazing thing she’s done for herself, because I’m sure she’s going to meet a lot of new friends and I love how the blogging world has helped connect from all over the world and i’m sure if Arabella needs anything someone will be able to help her 🙂

  25. I felt my anxiety rising as I got further through this post. It will definitely be an adventure! I hope she’s taking some photos for us. Enjoy your relaxing time Charlie x

  26. Wow, she’s really done it this time! You must be proud that she’s done this on her own but still worried because she IS young. My sister lives an hour north of NYC and would be happy to help if she gets overwhelmed. My nephew has an apartment in the city and Carole uses it a lot.

  27. Oh wow I’m kind of shocked. having said that i set off traveling at her age. a one way ticket to London. Funny enough I worked for contiki ….and yes Amanda we invented how to get into trouble. One thing I know Charlie is that she is very resourceful and she will surprise us all. isn’t she at Uni?

  28. You are the best of mothers. I hope she has a wonderful time. It will certainly teach her about life.
    The farm looks great even if it is cold.
    Caro x

  29. I cannot even begin to imagine what it will be like when my daughter leaves for the other side of the world on her own… I hope she has arrived well and that you are de-stressed, but I still have one post to catch up on, so I may find out ;o)

  30. New York is such a great place!! She will have a wonderful time. So many things to see and do and great great places to eat!! And she will see amazing fireworks on the 4th if she’s still there. Ah yes, the flights can be a bit of craziness! I’ve never flown a Chinese airline back but being in Perth I fly Emirates often from Perth to Dubai to New York (27 hours). They are quite a nice airline to fly. My partner’s sister (Aussie born) lives and works there and loves it.

  31. Wow! Arabella has courage to do this all on her own. I wouldn’t have it in me to travel those lengths unaccompanied. LOL! She’s something else. I hope she has a wonderful time for all of her efforts and that you won’t worry too much. 🙂

  32. Never a dull moment with Arabella! I can’t wait to hear all about her adventures in the USA. How brave she is to go by herself. Ahhhh….youth. At this age now, I would want to be surrounded by a gaggle of girlfriends.


  1. […] most of you are aware, my daughter, on a whim, went on-line and bought herself an airline ticket to the USA.  She had an idea in her head that traveling solo to the other side of the world would be a good […]

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