In the UK

23rd November 2010 - 1st February 2011

Moving day was finally upon us.    The moving men were due "first thing" on Monday to pick up our belongings, which would then be delivered to our new place in Wales the following day.     As "first thing" became 10 am, with no sign of the movers, we were becoming anxious.    After supervising all the loading, we still had to drive to Wales.    

Well, the movers finally arrived, swiftly and efficiently loaded all our furniture into their truck, locked it all up for security and promptly lost the keys!     The four of us searched through the whole house, numerous times, hoping they would turn up.   It wasn't difficult to check, with the house being completely empty.    After about an hour, we concluded that they must have fallen from Mr Moving-Man's pocket inside the truck, during loading, and probably lay buried under our stuff.     At this point, we decided to climb into our car and head for Wales, leaving them to come up with a solution.    This farce was, if nothing else, a welcome distraction from the thought of leaving the family home after 44 years........

It seemed that the movers managed to find a solution.   Only one hour later than promised, our furniture arrived in Crickhowell and was offloaded into our new abode.   The missing keys never were found.   Once we were left in peace, we began the fun part of moving, arranging everything in our new home.      Next day we rented a van, to rush around South Wales.    First we had to buy a fridge/freezer, although the weather was so cold, we could have probably managed without!      Next stop IKEA for some shelves, on which to place all those boxed books and knick-knacks.     Last stop on the Grand Tour was Mumbles, where we retrieved our bed which had been with friend Trish for safe-keeping ever since our move onto Anju in 1997.    Somehow we came back to our new home with a van full of furniture, having acquired a few additional, much-welcome pieces from Trish and Margaret.

After a few days in our new place, we decided to get rid of several large items we'd brought from Dad's house.    Naturally it would have been easier and cheaper to get rid of them before moving them all the way to Wales but in situ, they just didn't fit in.     We spent our remaining weeks in the UK improving and beautifying "The Fold", as we named our stationary home (well, both of our more mobile homes had names).     Our priority was to put some lagging on the water pipes in the attic, particularly in view of the weather.    How the pipes had lasted so long un-lagged, without bursting was a mystery.   Perhaps the puny amount of insulation in the roof had allowed enough heat to escape upwards from the house?    This too was resolved quickly. 

Music Room

Lounge

The previous owners of the house inspired us to keep the front room as a music room.   After all, who really needs a dining room!    We acquired a wonderful Yamaha electric piano to take pride of place.    Getting a full-sized electric piano into a Rover 416 saloon seemed impossible, despite our careful measurements beforehand.  It was already paid for and finally a well positioned nudge by the sales assistant got it inside the car!    Phil managed the drive back from Cardiff with zero visibility to the left of the vehicle by means of Christine in the rear passenger seat keeping a look-out.     It was a bit dodgy but we made it without mishap.
 

A couple of days after we took up residence, the ice age seemed to descend.    We were inundated with more snow than we'd seen in that part of the UK for decades.    It was beautiful and, provided you didn't actually need to get anywhere, great fun.    We bought sledges (for the grandchildren of course) and Phil enjoyed taking James sledging.     The smaller children preferred using Christine as a pack horse, to drag them around town on their sledges!   

Go faster Dodo!

The sheep don't look so happy!

Hiking was marvelous, provided you wrapped up warm.     Having arrived in August in summer clothes, we had to acquire some warm ones quickly.    On arriving back home, we always made the most of our cosy gas fire.

We were invited to "Uncle" Jack's 90th birthday party (we later worked out that he was actually a first-cousin- once-removed to Christine).     Our assigned task was to bring party sausages.    In preparation we bought two dozen of Cashell of Crickhowell's home-made sausages to cook and take along.    Flavours ranged from 'lamb and mint' to 'steak and horseradish', with many more in between.    

Unfortunately the snow came down again, making the end of our road, never mind Leamington Spa, totally inaccessible and ourselves faced with the daunting prospect of two dozen sausages to polish off.    Christmas 2010 will be remembered as the Great-Sausage-Fest.   We did finally come to the end of the sausage mountain!

Our pre-Christmas entertainment came in the form of the school nativity plays.   Proud grandparents watched Gareth (4) playing Joseph, complete with traditional tea-towel headwear.    Polly was a marvelous dancing mouse, a role that came naturally to one who never stops dancing.  James was cast as the lead in his play, Hansel and Gretel.   Hansel ate his parents out of house and home, it seemed well cast.     He made his Dodo and Christine proud with his word-perfect performances.

We hadn't planned on being in the UK for Christmas and our close family already had other plans.    We expected to be enjoying our Christmas dinner alone but sister Rae came along too and made things much more festive!

The Rees clan planned a get-together a couple of days after Christmas.    We were thrilled to be able to invite Jo and Daf to stay with us for a change.    Our house was filled to bursting with all those baby essentials for Iwan and Gruff.    We pondered whether the amount of stuff you needed to travel was inversely proportional to your body size, it certainly seemed to be the case!     Still, the house was also filled with more precious family and lots of fun too!

Christmas Dinner

Gruff enjoying his first family Christmas party!

New Year's Eve was spent in traditional Crickhowell fashion.    Drinks in the Bear Hotel were followed by midnight fireworks, normally fired from the Bear's balcony but this year more precariously from the roof!  Then there were more drinks in the Bear and Christine's now traditional, annual, drunken reunion with her ex-boss' boss, now a sailing convert.

The second of January brought another attempted reunion of Christine's family, in honour second-cousin Andrew's visit from Israel.    We gathered in Shrewsbury from far and wide.   Family members pored over the photo albums Christine had assembled from the three drawers of photos she had sorted through.    It's always wonderful to have a family get-together for something happy!

Siobhan, Rachel and Janet enjoying the photo album

I'll have to find room for this photo now, too!

The itchy feet were returning, it was time to start planning our trip back to the USA.    Harvey-the-RV was freezing, up in the mountains of North Carolina and we were keen to get him somewhere warmer.      Delta airlines had kindly held our flights open and we rebooked for the 1st of February, wondering how we would get to Manchester airport, now that we were no longer based only 20 minutes away.     As luck would have it, the flight would not be leaving until lunchtime, instead of the usual early morning start.    We were stunned to pick up one-way train tickets from Abergavenny to the airport for only 12 a head, seemed too good to be true!    Time for some more adventures!
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