Friday, 29 June 2012

A month of friends, family and more than a few drops of rain....

Sorry for the delay in updating - that was hell of a month! After a busy and fun old time in New York, we got into England (via Frankfurt - god bless cheap flights eh?) at the end of May. We really appreciated the Harrison / Travers welcoming committee at Heathrow!

Andy headed North to Doncaster to see his mum, and I went back to Chippenham, Wiltshire with my mum, dad and brother, Al. Now as a Northerner this gives me little pleasure to say, but Wiltshire and the surrounding area is simply beautiful! The first few days I spent exploring with the family, and getting to know my nephew, Daniel, and it was wonderful!

I headed to London next for a few days with Catherine in Clapham, then Karen, Holly and Beckie, exploring the South Bank and the Moomin store in Covent Garden.... It was good to see London as a tourist, rather than an harassed retail manager on the 8am tube to Canary Wharf - everything seemed historic and the sun (mostly) shone.

I headed up to Doncaster next, to meet up with Andy and his mum. We had a few days here catching up with family and even found time to watch John Simm in a Pinter play in Sheffield.

That weekend I drove up to Crathorne, North Yorks to meet up with my college friends Sarah, Vicki and Catherine. We enjoyed a thoroughly British Village fete (i.e it was cold and wet) in honour of the Jubilee but it was a cracking day regardless. After a brief stop in Boro to take photos of the Transporter bridge and visit aunty Jean I headed back to Donny.

The next day was the start of our 10 day road trip. And of course the rain (which only disappeared on our final weekend in England!) Andy drove and I was navigator, which was necessary as I had broken our Tom-tom within 30 minutes of being in the car. We went first to Newbury to celebrate my sister's Suzy's birthday over a pub lunch. Then onto Stroud to visit Andy's brother Colin and his family. They live in a gorgeous part of England and were wonderful hosts. Special mention to nieces Olivia and Hannah, who we very much enjoyed searching for chickens online with!

The next stop was Bristol and the herd of Hirds. It was fantastic to spend time with Jen, Mark, Euan & Callum again, and to finally meet Lauren and Noah. We would like it on record we had nothing to do with Noah breaking his arm, but were glad to be there when it did happen to help Jen out. Hope you get better soon Noah!

Next up was Bernie & Rob Lanaway and their gorgeous daughter Abigail. We had our first British curry of the trip (though not the last!) and a really fun evening together. The next day we all headed over to Ticknall, on the Derbyshire / Leicestershire border and to the National Trust property we'd rented for the weekend to spend time with the Lanaways, the Greens and the Worleys. It was a fantastic weekend of Shithead, poker, Fifa and football and general catching up. Oh and some of the best home cooked meals ever! And...perhaps a bit of alcohol too :)

It was sad to say goodbye to all on Sunday, but we were staying with Flo, Beaks and Annabelle Worley that night in Leamington Spa, we got to spend more quality time colouring in and playing jigsaws, and that was just with Beaks.......The next day we drove down to Eastleigh in Southampton to spend a night with Matt & Lucy Green, watching the England match and eating curry - brilliant!

Our final night of the road trip was spent with Andy's brother Stu and his lovely fiancé Lou in Winchester. It's another gorgeous place in England we had never been to before, and we had a great evening with them. Finally, we drove the long way home to Doncaster, and went out for a nice meal with Tom & Sheila Hird and mum.

The next day we drove to Nottingham to get the third of our rabies jabs, and then popped over to see Jane Skelton and dad David, and had a fantastic lunch in the garden, whilst admiring all of David's good work! Next, we headed to Leeds to meet up with Bex. We had another gorgeous curry (god, we miss English curries!) then headed out to the local for the pub quiz with her neighbours, Ian & Beckie and Al & Laura. We didn't win but we had an hilarious evening nonetheless.

Finally the day we had booked in for ourselves to just stop - our spa day at Woodhall hotel in Wetherby. It was a super day of being rubbed, relaxing and spending time together. It sadly came to an end and we were back on the road again, this time to the Harrison/Travers/Smith holiday, in the Peak district. The cottage was gorgeous and had a big family sized table which we utilized for communal eating and card playing - the latter earning mum the nickname of bullets Brenda! It was very close to Matlock, so Andy & I got to re-visit the scene of our wedding which was a bit romantic :)

We also managed to find time for a walk around Carsington Water, a visit to some decent country pubs, local towns, a 5km run most mornings and playing games with the family. It was amazing to spend so much time with the family again-Daniel especially-and in such a gorgeous part of England. I was very happy too, to find some time to catch up with Jo in her swanky house on the hill and to meet her youngest Charlotte.

As Andy's birthday fell in the week of our sojourn to the Peak district, we took ourselves back to Doncaster for the day for a nice lunch with mum and then a meal at Carlos (world famous in Donny!) with the Donny friends; James, Sarah, Matt, Aimee, Mel, Bex and Jane. It was one of the best Italian meals ever, and with such a great crowd of friends too! I'm sure Andy would agree it was a brilliant birthday.

The week in the holiday house came too quickly to an end and it was emotional goodbye to all the family but Al - he came with us to Manchester to see the Boss! A great but expensive day in Manchester's finest vinyl shops then off to Manchester City Stadium to witness Mr Bruce Springsteen in action! It was an amazing show and it was wonderful to spend more time with Al. Another emotional goodbye in the morning, and we were back on the road to Doncaster, though for the last time on this trip. We had clocked up 1800 miles in 3 weeks....insane!

Final weekend in Doncaster, we finally got to see Phoebe, Lucy and Nig Precious for a cup of tea before a fantastic meal out at the Oriental Palace with mum, the family Lees (minus Dave and the kids, sorry Dave!), Nig and his girlfriend Michelle. A very fun evening indeed. The Sunday consisted of a quick trip to Leeds for me to have a few wines with Anna and then an afternoon of catching up with the Warnes family and Helen, Lyndon & David Walters too.

Somehow we found time to pack, and the next day we headed down to London after another emotional goodbye with mum at the station. I found time to meet up with Catherine and Liam in a pub in Soho which was a lot of fun, but then sad saying goodbye :(

The next day, tired and emotional, we did some last minute chores and finally boarded the plane to Singapore (via Frankfurt. Obviously.) And that is for the next blog post!

As you can see it was a busy month, so apologies if it sounds like a role call - we truly loved spending time with each and every one of you, so a massive thanks for putting us up and making us feel so at home - you made it very hard to leave! To those we didn't get chance to stay with or even see, you are top of our list for next time, promise. So Jo you have to stay in that house for a few more years at least and Bob and Chris we will make the trip to Wrexham next time!

Love you all and miss you. Keep in touch! X