I am now safe and sound back home in Spain, so here, as promised, is what happened in the second half of my UK break. But first, here is the photo of the 'Gathering of the clan' which I wrote about last time. We were in Eve and John's house, using the 'self-take' function on my camera. The quality isn't fantastic, but it's not bad. I will e-mail or post a copy to those who were there, as soon as I can.
I had a lovely weekend staying with Jim and Jo in Wolverhampton. They made me feel very welcome and it was good to spend time with all the 'children' who are growing up fast. The pantomime at the church was great fun. Jim was dressed as a gorilla which made one child cry! That was a bit unfortunate as he made a lot of appearances, but he managed to show a wide range of emotions with just body language and voice. Jo was a 'Granny' and she was very good! Hannah was a mouse being chased by Dick Whittington's cat, and Marcus was an official on the island of cheese! Amias stayed at home with me for Friday evening and Saturday afternoon, and then he came with me to watch on Saturday evening. It was all good fun, and raised a sizeable sum of money for the church fund. I went to the service at the church the next morning, and then we all went out for lunch.
Ben came over to collect me in the evening and I spent Sunday and Monday nights at his house. Again I was made very welcome. Monday was Ben's birthday and I gave him his scrapbook which he loves. He read all the little messages in it that night and was 'moved to tears' (his words), so I am glad I finished it in time. We spent the day wandering around Birmingham which was rather nice. I gather Dave isn't really up for shop browsing, and I hadn't been there before, and don't have malls of big shops to visit here, so we both enjoyed it. I took a couple of photos inside the Bullring and a security man came and told me I wasn't allowed to use a camera in the mall. I apologised and put it away, but I had got my picture by then! We went to see the big bull. He's quite impressive isn't he? Then we went into Selfridges food hall where there is a second huge bull, made entirely from jelly beans! We both did some shopping, and got back home in time for me to listen to Ben play the piano for a while, before the three of us went out for a birthday meal.
On Tuesday Ben drove me over to Oswestry, where I stayed with Mike at the Punchbowl for a couple of nights. We drove through quite a blizzard on the way and it snowed steadily all evening. Ben was keeping an eye on it as he was driving back home around midnight, to grab a few hours sleep before an early shift the next day. Fortunately it warmed up a little so although the paths stayed white, the roads were wet and slushy and they didn't freeze over, so he got back safely. Jonathan is also living at the Punchbowl for now, and Tom and Jessie came over. Emma drove Michael (jnr) to see me so Mike cooked a lovely dinner for us, as well as Pippa and the two boys, and we all took over the restaurant which doesn't open to the public on a Tuesday. The little ones went to bed and the youngsters went home, and I sat in the bar with the boys for a good catch-up session. It was lovely to see them all.
Tom was off on Wednesday so he drove me into Oswestry to do some shopping, and then took me to Ellesmere to visit the craft shop where I used to go for workshops. Hazel made us very welcome and had the kettle on before we were hardly through the door. She had just got back from the trade fair at NEC where she had been talking to Yvonne and Robin who own the craft shop I use here in Spain. Small world isn't it?!
My bags were full to overflowing and I had to leave a parcel of bits and pieces for Tom to post to me, so now I have to wait patiently for my 'goodies' to arrive. Tom also drove me to the airport yesterday morning and I had a fairly uneventful flight home. We were a bit delayed because the French air traffic controllers were on strike again, and all the planes going over France were affected. But it wasn't too bad. Originally, after we had all boarded, we were told we would be sitting on the runway for an hour and a half, but in the end we got an earlier slot and were only half an hour late landing. It was lovely to see Chris again, and the animals all gave me an exuberant welcome, though today we were back to normal and I think they've forgotten I was gone. I am pleased to say that today was hot and sunny and I sat out in just a light skirt and short-sleeved shirt, to eat lunch. It has been very wet while I was away, and more light rain is forecast for tomorrow, but at least it is warm. The flowers are starting to open in the garden and it feels like winter is over for us. I hope so anyway.
I will put a couple of photos on here, but there will be lots more, including various family ones, in my gallery, so feel free to browse (www.picassaweb.com/kayempea1947)