Back in the UK

6th April - 22nd June 2011

We arrived in the UK excited to spend some more time in our lovely new home, particularly keen to get to work on the garden.

Manchester Airport was shrouded in cloud and drizzle when we arrived. However, half an hour into our train journey to Wales, we found ourselves in brilliant sunshine, which lasted the entire month of April! Our plan was to stay for five weeks, before heading back to the USA to continue our road trip. As so often seems to be the case lately, our plan was subject to extensive change!

About two weeks into our visit, Christine turned over in bed to feel something go ping as she twisted. It was time to see her new doctor, despite the fact that her policy of denial had worked remarkably well for around twenty years.

Christine and James getting to work on the garden.

Once the doctor had examined her and the look of horror on his face was partially removed by reassurance that Christine was definitely not 6 months pregnant, as the size of her swollen belly would indicate, it was decided that a hysterectomy was required to prevent any further problems due to the massive fibroids. This meant an extension of around seven weeks to our stay to allow for post operative recuperation. At least Christine was at least partially relieved to find that the rapidly swelling belly wasn't due, as she had previously suspected, to overindulgence in chocolate and Corona beer!

On the bright side, we would be able to enjoy several family birthdays and invite friends and family to visit. First to arrive was second cousin Richard and his wife Rose from Shrewsbury. They arrived just at the right stage in our garden makeover to help assemble and then enjoy the new garden furniture!

Get this table built ........

......and maybe we'll feed you!

Yachting buddies Pat and Liz of Catspaw, made the long drive to Wales from the South Coast to spend a couple of days. We visited Hay on Wye. Liz's driving and patience was much tested as we drove home over the perilous single track Hay Bluff road. Much manoeuvring was required when we encountered everything from a large dustcart, tractors with trailers and even a fleet of vintage cars. That evening we headed to the Bear Hotel for a couple of restorative beverages and a wonderful meal!

Their visit was closely followed by a visit from Richard's sister Jean and partner Alex, who bravely came from Shrewsbury by train with their bikes, prepared to cycle back. The only train available with bike space was scheduled to arrive in Abergavenny around 10.30 pm. After the train journey mysteriously became a bus journey from Hereford, where they somehow managed to get their bikes aboard the bus, they finally pedaled bravely to our front door around midnight! After a day of exploring our area, they set off on two wheels for the return journey.

Taking a break on Hay Bluff

Dodo are you sure these boat things are safe???

School holidays meant fun time with the grandchildren. We took Polly and Gareth on a day out to the big city of Cardiff. Here we rode across the bay on the water taxi, visited the lightship, rode on the carousel (a first for everybody!) and tried out every play park we passed. The kids wore us out and they were lucky, they could sleep all the way home!

James and his granddad went on a fishing adventure. James was introduced to the art of fly fishing and brought home dinner for the whole family!

Kids, are you sure these carousel things are safe??

Dinner for everyone!

We picked a great time for our visit. The garden was in full bloom and we got to enjoy a fabulous show of bluebells in nearby bluebell wood. We could get maximum enjoyment out of our garden, as it underwent its makeover during the wonderful sunny weather. The spring birds were also enjoying the garden and we acquired a new "pet", christened Fat Pigeon for obvious reasons. Fat Pigeon entertained us as he learned how to get seeds from the small bird feeder by flying into it kamikaze style, to knock the contents to the ground. Once he'd emptied the feeder he'd walk right up to the back door and glare at us in the kitchen. We had to keep feeding him just for the entertainment value, although we did wonder whether he'd be able to take off again!

Bluebell wood

Fat Pigeon at work.

Second cousin Richard invited us up to a family gathering in a remote spot called Corndon Hill in Welsh-English border country. They had an isolated cottage for the weekend without electricity. The water supply was from a spring and the sophisticated filtration system consisted of an old sock! A barbecue fed everybody in the evening and somehow Phil was nominated "Barbecue Meister", catering for 20 odd people. At times it was hard to see him through the smoke!

Corndon Cottage

Barbie Meister at work

Great job Phil!

Our friend Gwyn took us on a hike in search of some bronze age ruins he was researching near Crickhowell. We had exact GPS coordinates for the site but at the precise location all we could spot was a continuation of the mountain of quarried rock. We did, however, find a spot to pick up some home made farmhouse fudge to sweeten us up!

Finally, six weeks after the operation, Christine was given the all clear and we could get back to our adventures. Wonderful Delta Airlines had kindly changed our tickets at no extra charge due to the circumstances. So on 22nd June we finally set off from Abergavenny on the train at 05.18 am for our journey back to San Diego.

For the first time ever, our flight from Manchester was seriously delayed as the incoming aircraft had to stop in New York for repairs to the air conditioning system, so we spent a tedious 10 hours at the airport in Manchester, passing the time spending our free food vouchers on remarkably good meals. We got to spend an unplanned night in Atlanta and to be perfectly honest by the time we finally got there, we were glad to be headed to a motel bed, rather than getting on another aircraft. Early next morning, we (and a whole plane load of diabetes experts bound for a convention) finally completed our trip to San Diego........

Is this Bronze Age Fudge??

Return to homepage