I got my bike back from the bike shop yesterday. The service has fixed the brakes, and with the new chain and cassette it runs a lot smoother. I also managed to get a cardboard bike box from them, so I now have a choice of using my ‘soft bag', the cardboard box, or possibly both.
I took the bike out for a 30 mile spin today. The shop had readjusted the handlebars, and i had raised the seat a little, and the new riding position feels good. Basically, I am counting down the hours until I leave, and I can't wait to go!