The third and final leg of our journey is on a slightly differently-configured aircraft. From Dubai to Manchester, we're spending seven hours on a plane that has power points in the seat backs (two between three in Economy, which is fine for us), and a rather unexplained ethernet port in the middle seat. I've plugged into this port and it's given me DHCP, but I cannot easily see where to go from here... it's quite undocumented. Still, seven hours on power? Don't mind if I do.
The ethernet port is quite a mystery. It's live, in that I can see a router and get a 172.16 address; but there does not appear to be anything else on it. I suppose it could potentially be used for seat-to-seat sharing, although not between us as we have only one port between us; perhaps it's a cool feature that isn't yet implemented. In any case, there's no internet available on this plane (no 3G either - it's active on a lot of flights but not this one), so no logging on from 10,000 meters up.
It's approaching pi time in Melbourne again, so we've been in transit for 24 hours. It doesn't feel like 3AM of course; in Manchester, it's now 6:12PM. By the look of things we'll be landing ahead of schedule, for a roughly 25 hour trip. Airport wifi at Manchester was a pay-for service last time we landed there (in 2007), so I'll be checking that out to see if it's changed. I still have the PDF receipt from last time's wifi purchase (5 GBP) sitting on my desktop, which is quite a feat considering that it isn't even the same laptop. Apparently desktops and laptops are completely independent things.
As we're now descending into Manchester, I'm making the timezone change; it's no longer 3:41AM Fri Melbourne time, it's now 6:42PM Thu UK time.
19:00. Touchdown! Bit bumpy but nothing to worry about. We plan out our disembarcation procedure during the taxi; it's quite pointless as the Business Class people will take far longer to get out than we will to get ready, but as an exercise in mathematics, it's fun. Sure enough, we're all ready to walk out well before the curtain opens to let us through... but hey, we were efficient! Side note. On our second leg, David had the window seat, I was in the middle, and Michael had the aisle. David had stepped out for a stroll when dinners were delivered, so we had to accept three dinners onto trays and then get David back into his seat without spilling anything. The result was a complex Tower of Hanoi manipulation in which people stood up, were passed trays, and moved around the cabin, with mathematical precision. Effective and efficient in both time and space!
19:30ish. We're all done with Customs and poking around for a bus. I've spent most of this time going through all the various unsecured wifi networks here, and have found one that permits 30 mins free (per MAC address) but "no VPN". Seems that "no VPN" actually means "no traffic on any port other than 80". So no trophying. :( Fortunately though, it's enough for me to retrieve one extremely crucial piece of information from my cloud. This is why I cloud things. It works.
The bus from the airport to Buxton runs once an hour at this time of night, so we're stuck waiting here for thirty minutes. The bus actually drops by here twice; it goes to Stockport, then back to the airport, then to Buxton, then back. I automatically suggest riding the bus out and back, only to be met with the scornful reminder that we're paying per trip here - no multimodal ticketing that makes extra trips free. Oops.
20:04. Not a lot to do here, it has the same feeling that we had at 8:30pm at home when we were to catch the bus at 9:15 - we're all ready, everything that needs to be done is done, but we can't proceed until the appropriate time. Since the wifi dropped me at the end of the 30 mins, I've been back to "isolation level 10,000 meters" (try that one, DBAs - it's great for safety), and am waiting until our arrival in Buxton before I can actually do anything useful. It's 5AM back home, so there won't be anyone there to talk to, but I would like to drop in on Minstrel Hall and see who's around.
21:45. The 199 bus made excellent time to Buxton, depositing us in the familiar stop at 21:33. As in previous years, the Derby HoR staff are helpful and prepared, and we're settled into our rooms with a minimum of fuss. The arrangements for the internet connection seem to have changed, but we can still get it for free (have to make a login, and it tries to up-sell us a faster link, but we can get a decent one for nothing). May cause some issues later on, but we'll sort that out. For now, Traal's the only device on the net. I'm going to try to sort that out... tomorrow.
Travelog's over now; we've arrived. Subsequent blog posts will hopefully have more real content to them.