We arrived back in sunny Spain on Thursday evening, after what had been a very busy week. Arriving in Birmingham on the previous Thursday evening, we spent Friday with Ben who took us shopping for most of the day, and then we went out together for a meal.
Saturday was a big family day, when we joined Dave's family and lots of their friends to celebrate their civil partnership ceremony.
On Saturday morning, Mike, Tom and Jonathan and Ella, all joined us at Ben and Dave's house, as did several of Ben's friends from Oswestry, and we all shared a few taxis to the registery office for the afternoon ceremony, where we met up with Dave's two sons and their partners, and some of the local folk who Ben has met through his music. Dan, Ben's 'best man', wore his Navy uniform and looked very smart, and Dave was accompanied by his older son Russell who is ex-army and he wore his dress jacket. The ceremony was simple and meaningful, and afterwards we went into a garden at the rear of the building to take photos.
Then we walked through the Birmingham city centre to a Chinese restaurant called Ming Moon where 26 of us sat round a long table and had an excellent meal together. The friends then went off around the city and we went back to Dave's house for a rest and some family time. It was lovely to see everyone again, and it was nice that Jim and Jo were able to bring their children along with them.
We booked taxis again to take us to the evening venue which was in a big silky marquee, attached to a bar. Lots of friends from both Ben's and Dave's work came to join us, and it was a very pleasant evening. The bar put on a good buffet and one of the Oswestry friends brought a cake made by their Nan.
A lady from one of the bars where Ben sings karaoke, played disco music throughout the evening and later organised a karaoke session there. Ben kicked it off with a song which he sang with great confidence that surprised all the family. We are used to seeing him eaten up with nerves before any public performance. He also helped out Marcus who has a lovely voice but is also very nervous, and Mike who loves to sing but was struggling to find the tune for his chosen song. He then sang with his friends Charlotts and Bob, both of whom often meet up for music session with him. All the youngsters enjoyed the dancing, and it was a thoroughly enjoyable night.
The following day we drove over to Jim and Jo's house (They had gone home the night before), and spent a lovely day with them. Their children are so pleasant and friendly, and it is a joy to spend time with them. They had a visit from Severina, the cutest little rescued kitten, who was being fostered, but who was promised to them by the RSPCA. She had to go back to her foster home that day, but today she came to them to stay. Jo and I also visited a friend of her's who does paper-craft like me. I sometimes talk to her through our blogs, so it was nice to have a chat face-to-face. The next morning we got up in time to see the children off to school, then we joined Jim and Jo and Marcus (He's on study leave for his AS levels) for breakfast at the newly opened cafe attached to Jim's church.
Then it was time to drive over to Oswestry, where we were staying with Tom. We had lovely weather for the rest of our stay, and much of the warmer clothing we had brought with us, didn't leave the suitcase! We met Emma in the park with baby Isaac, who is a bonny little lad, and very friendly. It is hard to believe he is nine months already. He was more or less crawling, and didn't seem to mind in the least being passed like a parcel between people he didn't know.
We had actually arranged to go to Emma's house that evening, so we still did that so I could take a little family group photo for my frame when John got home from work. They seem very happy and are coping extremely well with running a home and caring for a little baby. Emma's brother Michael also came to see us there when he finished work. I hadn't seen him for almost five years. Like Marcus, he is now 17 and they are both proper young men, though their lives have taken them in very different directions.
The next day Chris drove me to Shrewsbury so I could browse the shops, and buy a few bits that it is difficult for us to get over here. I went home on the bus using my bus pass for the last time. It expires in October and won't be renewed. Chris went back to spend the afternoon with his friends John and Jenny. They have been out here for a couple of holidays with us, so it was good to catch up on all the news.
In the evening, Mike brought his two boys Oliver and Finlay to see us at Tom's. They have settled down a lot and we spent a very happy couple of hours with them. Oliver has a very active imagination and he plays games that tell a story all the time. He did that as soon as he could talk, and is still the same now he is eight. Finlay is a laid back happy-chappy just like his dad, so he allows Oliver to organise him, but they played well together. Finlay is five and is enjoying full time school now.
On our last day we had an appointment at the bank to sort out a few things and then I met Jessie for a coffee before tackling the job of trying to pack all our shopping into the cases. After hopping on and off the scales to weigh them, and packing and repacking a few times, we decided to leave Chris's suit hanging in Tom's wardrobe, and then we just managed to keep each piece of luggage on the maximum allowance! At teatime, Chris drove me over to Chester to meet another blog friend to deliver all the little jumpers and hats that I, and my friends, have been knitting for the fish and chip babies in Africa. The response I got was amazing and I had 80 sets ready to deliver. (If you are not sure what I am talking about, go to my other blog using the link in this side bar and you will find several posts about it). They, of course, are what I was leaving here, that made some space for me to take shopping back with me.
Then it was our final evening and we went to the Ironworks, a music venue in Oswestry, where every Wednesday, Tom takes his very hi-tech record decks, computer and other things, and with his friend Neil, he runs a vinyl club, where anyone can take any vinyl records and play a set. Mike always takes some along, and this week Dad did as well, as Tom has the care of our own vinyl collection from 'way back when..'. Tom has set up their own website, and a system whereby people can comment on what is playing on the internet, and it is projected onto the ironworks wall, and also the music is streamed straight onto live radio. All too technical for me, but it was quite impressive, and our friends John and Jenny joined us there for the evening as well.
On Thursday we were up bright and early as we had to return the hirecar, and then book our cases in at the airport. At passport control they were doing random checks for explosives on hand luggage and they chose to search mine. Unfortunately they chose the case I had used to bundle a week's worth of dirty washing in to. I warned him, but he still unpacked it and waved his wand over every single item, but he looked quite relieved when I offered to repack it for myself.!
So that was the week that was. I am sorry this is such a very long post, but I know if I don't write about it now, it probably won't get done. I am only going to put a couple of photos on here, just so you are not too discourage by a long page of writing with no pictures, but most of them can be found in two folders on my gallery.
For pictures of Ben and Dave's special day click here.
And for all the family photos please click here.
Ben and Dave then followed us out to Spain. We collected them from the airport this morning and they are spending a few days with us before moving on to Benidorm for a week. So I don't expect to be posting again, while they are here; hence the long one today. I hope you made a cup of tea before you started reading!