Leaving on a jet plane

Don't know when I'll be back again

by Rick Johansen

I’m plane-spotting again. Not actual sitting at the end of a runway, watching the planes arriving and departing plane-spotting, but gazing wistfully at Flight Radar 24, the anorak’s anorak website, watching the progress of flight AC861 which will, later today, turn into AC860 and take us back to Old Blighty. All from the safety of my laptop in a lovely Vancouver house that has been our home for nearly a week. The Canadian adventure 2023 is almost over.

For once, I am not ‘ready to go home’. I often feel that way on the last few days of a break, say, in Europe, where I’d happily teleport myself back home and avoid all the airport hassle and everything that goes with it. Not this time because it’s different.

Canada has been about two things. Spending time with family and seeing as much of this vast country as possible. Mission accomplished, in that case. Apart from my partner and our children, I have no blood lines left in the UK or Europe. Everyone else is over here, in Vancouver and Ottawa, and being able to see much loved family members only very occasionally is far from ideal. I empathise with anyone whose family lives abroad for whatever reason. Zoom is a way of keeping in touch, for sure, but it doesn’t beat the real thing. On the rare occasions I considered emigrating, living abroad, I quickly stepped back from anywhere near the brink. I would miss my family and friends too much, as I miss my Canadian family for most of the time.

Rather than dreading the long journey home, I am relishing it. Nine hours or so, flying high above Canada, Greenland, Iceland, large chunks of the Atlantic Ocean and then the UK – what’s not to love? Even the connection, via Paddington Station, doesn’t bother me. And I am as much looking forward to going home as I am sad leaving here.

Sleepy Ottawa was a wonderful introduction to Canada, all beautiful architecture, sunny skies and friendly people. We loved it there, as we love vibrant, buzzing Vancouver where everything moves quickly, except the traffic. We were feeling satisfyingly smug with just how far we have travelled until we look at the map and in reality we have seen a pin prick of Canada. But we have made a conscious effort to travel as much as possible. It would be utterly insane not to, a bit like taking a ten hour flight to Mexico never to leave Cancun.

Hopefully, there will be a next time when we get a chance to see more tiny glimpses of this vast, mostly unpopulated country. But at least we done it, broken the norm, the European sunshine breaks, however temporarily and done something that will live in our hearts and souls forever.

Thanks for reading and I’ll be with you again sometime tomorrow, Air Canada willing.

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