Back in the UK for Christmas

4th November 2011 - 10th January 2012

We were back in the UK in time to remember the fallen on Remembrance Day and see grandson James taking part in the annual parade with his cub troop.

Even though it was still November, suddenly it seemed to be crazy Christmas season already. Our friends Dave and Silke visited us for a play date and whilst the big people played, the smaller people got to have fun too. We took Polly, Gareth, Ben and Max on a trip to town park and were taken by surprise by a herd, flock, posse (?) of red welsh dragons strolling by, playing drums and horns. Surreal as it was, a friendly dragon told us that they were heralding the arrival of Santa to switch on the town Christmas lights. Apparently the only transport available for such an important dignitary was the town's fire engine, delighting Ben and Gareth, who got to try out the driver's seat for size!

The cubs getting ready to parade.

Only in Crickhowell!

But Mum, Dad, it only says "No Horse Riding"! (Ben, Dave, Max, Silke and Gareth on the way home after the fun).

School nativity play season was close on Santa's heels. James was in fine voice in the chorus for his big kids' play, Gareth starred as a hail stone and Polly was a word perfect narrator.

Second cousin Richard and wife Rose stopped by. Before we could indulge them in a hearty brunch show-casing the wares of the local butcher, we dragged them up and down Table Mountain, to work up an appetite!

Our next social event was a reunion of former band members from Phil's dim and distant past. We were joined by Murray and Viv, Glyn and Helen and Geoff and Marylin for a wonderful day of reminiscences. Trolling through memories of their youth, the guys realised that the past was in fact pretty dim and distant but by combining what they could each remember, we got a good impression of the adventures of their misspent younger days!

Helen, Glyn, Murray, Marylin, Viv, Phil and Geoff

Richard and Rose descend Table Mountain.

Jo, Daf, Iwan and Gruff were with us over Christmas. Somehow we managed to get the whole family, 11 of us in total, into our small front room for a pre-Christmas Chilli lunch. A true Christmas miracle!

The boys were delighted when Santa showed up, leaving them a stack of presents, not so impressed with their traditional Christmas dinner! However Iwan did enjoy tasting the fresh sage he stole from the raw chicken, causing a minor salmonella scare. Luckily he's a tough fellow and never showed any ill effects!

Richard and Rose threw a family party in Shrewsbury, drawing family members from far and wide. After two such events at Christmas time it was decided that this is now a family Christmas tradition!

Dodo, Santa's been!

Family Fun in Shrewsbury......

...............courtesy of Richard and Rose.

Back at home we saw in the New Year with a curry fest at our house, with buddies Gwyn and Angie, Jeff and Jane. Later we wandered down to town to enjoy a couple of drinks in the Bear and the traditional midnight gathering around the town monument for the fireworks display.

Next day there were a few sore heads but we all gallantly hiked up to the top of table mountain to blow away the cobwebs. On the summit the wind was blowing so strongly that more than cobwebs were swept away, certainly a head-clearing walk!

Now the New Year was upon us, it was time to prepare to return to our beloved Anju in Florida. After nearly two years in storage she deserved some TLC!

Jane, Jeff, Angie, Gwyn and Phil at the summit!

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