Monday, 29 April 2013

If it's Monday it's.......

This has been my blurry view for much of this week. I spent
a lot of time sitting staring out of the window, whilst our
son drove us up and down the country. Hope he doesn't
need a week off to recover
What a week! We seem to have spent most of it on the road or eating. Of course we started off our journey by plane as we flew from Perth in Australia to the UK via Singapore. The planes had much better air conditioning this time and were nice and cool. On a 13 hour flight that is quite important I think. The outward journey was a little stuffy. What I do like about the Singapore flights are the friendly staff and the relatively good food. Even the tomatoes and prawns had taste, which can be a rare things these days. We did wonder if we were going to have an incident though as a couple of men got a little irate as they wanted a smoke. They didn't seem to comprehend that smoking is banned on the flights, even if they are that long. It was the one and only time I saw the staff not smiling and talking quite abruptly to any passengers. With voices raised I wondered if they were going to end up being restrained, but in the end they settled down and we didn't hear much else from them. Not sure if it was the alcohol that rendered them quiet or the staff had worked their magic.

Spring captured!
Our eldest son and his family picked us up from Heathrow. We were all dreading the journey, as the English road system is not noted for its free flowing traffic at the best of times and late afternoon is about the worse time to travel, or so we thought. It has been known for it to take us eight hours to drive from London to Sheffield a distance of 168 miles (270km) and an expected journey time of 3 hours, but this time the journey was relatively problem free. We of course had to stop, so the little one wasn't continually cooped up in his car seat and so all of us could stretch our legs. There was only one point in the journey when our hearts sank as we saw the cars stacking up, but we quickly realised it was purely due to cars slowing down to see a very recent accident of about five cars or vans, on the opposite carriageway, so recent the emergency services were still some distance away. Once passed the accident, the traffic speeded up and we were safely on our way, unlike the opposite side, which was already stacked up for several miles.

Pops and our grandson having a laugh
after a nappy (diaper) change
Our first stop was with some good friends of ours who we had planned to stay at a couple of years ago, but couldn't because it snowed so heavily. On the night we were due to stay we wouldn't have got to their place the snow was that bad, or if we had got there we would have been stuck for several days - a risk we couldn't take because we were heading to parents before heading to Australia for our first visit and our daughter's wedding. Thankfully, although the weather was cool and England has experienced a bad winter, we weren't hampered by the snow this time around. Sometimes when we meet friends we have known for a long time, we wonder if we will ever see them again - no not because we are that old or they are, but because our paths take us on such different trajectories. Even though we have shared many years together as our children have grown, our lives have taken us to different places and much as we would like to, we can't visit every one. Thank goodness for social networks then that help us to stay in touch.

Ian's mother and our little grandson
Next was our journey up North, to the Northern most shire in the land, Northumberland. Jokes were flying about the land that would gradually turn black and white, and then the appearance of the horse and carts. Well it didn't quite turn black and white, but browner as spring gradually lost its grip and we entered a world where winter had only just slipped away. There was much evidence of the effects of the hard winter with bare patches in fields or even some fields still waterlogged. It never ceases to amaze me how a few hundred miles can make such a difference in the climate. The weather may not have been warm, but as usual the welcome was. We managed to meet many of Ian's nearest relatives, his mother, his brothers and their wives, and even one of his nieces, who also has a little one we haven't seen before, born since our last visit. We did find out where Ian gets his baby whispering gift from though, his mother. Despite his mother being in her mid-80's and in poor health, she could still cuddle in our son's little one and get him off to sleep without much bother.
A family get together. Ian's niece is at the back on the left
and her daughter at the front. 

Great-grandma number 2 gets another cuddle
and it looks like our grandson is attempting
to sing a song
Next stop was to my parents house and a meal with my sister and her family. Although we are similar in age, I am almost two years older, my sister has a younger family than I do, she had one of 13 and one who is 2. The two year old is a little whirlwind and reminds me so much of our youngest. I have to say, I was grateful to have had my whirlwind when I was 25 and not now. Fortunately the little chap is a sweety with lovely curly locks, just rather active. It was really lovely to see his older sister, taking part in keeping him entertained too, that must be a great help for my sister for some of the time at least, but I can understand what she means when she is so tired at the end of the day.
A Lancashire view from my parent's house

Blue skies on our return to Southern shires
And so we wended our way back down South, gradually entering a greener and greener land, with more and more flowers. Our luck with the traffic also held out, even as we entered into Coventry to see my little whirlwind - only he is not such a little one or a whirlwind any more. He has grown up and is now in his last year at Uni, nearly ready to set off into the world of work. We could only spend a few hours with him, which for his part is probably just as well as he draws his work to a close and gets closer to his deadlines. He had promised his older brother and wife a Christmas present and somehow didn't manage to get one, so a bacon and brie baguette sandwich was on order as a belated present. We wished each other a Merry Christmas and bemoaned the lack of fairy lights, as you do on such occasions- yes we are all completely batty. At least it meant that my son finally got to meet his nephew for the first time and we got to see a bit more of his fiancé and her daughter.

Kite-surfers catching the waves
And now is the last day of our excursion. Ready for home after a month away and much travelling, but sad to be saying goodbye to our little grandson and his Mum and Dad. We have had a lovely time, with much laughter, much food - which all seems to have gone up in price since we left the UK ten years ago and probably an extra few inches of baggage around the middle (not sure the Banoffie pie today helped), as well as the extra baggage in our suitcases. So Latvia, here we come once again!


Mavis said...

Sounds like you'll need a holiday to get over all the travelling - it can be tiring. But glad you've enjoyed being with all the family and managing to see so many - not easy when there are a lot. Your grandson seems so alert and has really grown in a few months. Next, back to reality. Hope everything is OK when you get back after being away for a month.

ju-north said...

You seem to have had a great time! sorry not to have seen you this time! give us a shout next time you are passing!

Liz Eph said...

Glad all your traveling went well and lovely to see everyone. But nice to sleep in your own bed now. Hope your tooth settled down. lol - everyone used to be surprised that we came back from our "holidays" so tired :-)

Joanna said...

Thanks folks, it is nice to be back home and not have to be travelling so much, but now the fun starts as we get the preparations done for the year ahead.

We did think of giving you a ring Ju, but we didn't really have a lot of time and relatives were visiting too. If only time was expandable, we would be fine.

karen said...

Sounds like you had a brilliant trip. I just got back from my trip too. Wedding dress bought for Helen in London and carried safely back to Lancashire by me now hanging in my bedroom. I am too tired to go to the pc so am keeping my fingers crossed that I can sign in on this phone!

Joanna said...

Exciting times ahead for you Karen. Glad you enjoyed the journey with us. You managed to sign in fine on the phone, but managed to post twice :)

Pene said...

Sounds like you have been blessed with good weather & many happy memories. I look forward to seeing you next Monday. May God keep you safe until you arrive home.

Joanna said...

Thank you Pene. Looking forward to seeing you too, sometime soon