Spring in the UK - 26th January - 17th July 2019

The first major project after our return from Vietnam was completion of the construction of the new Conservatory on the back of our house, built to make use of patio space we never used and to create Christine's dream 'jungle room'. The concrete floor was finished and then the fun part of decorating could begin. We planned to make the most of the limited sunlight in Wales in winter in our new room.

Conservatory Before

and after

The next highlight was a visit to Cardiff to see Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls perform. Frank even sang one of his songs in Welsh with a little help from a cheat sheet!

'Eulogy' in Welsh

Tickertape at the end of the show

We added a new skill to our repertoire, building new fences at son, Nathan's house, to stop his lively dog from performing Houdini acts.

Other landmarks of our spring were Christine publishing two more of her series of books, our traditional hike to the Bluebell Woods, and our trusty Toyota, Wolfie, completing his first 100,000 miles.

Measuring up for the fencing.

Books 2 and 3 of Christine's 'Resident Alien' series.

Bluebell Woods in Springtime

100,000 miles young

June was quickly with us and preparations were finished for our three month absence during our trip to Montana in the US.

We were packed and only half an hour away from being picked up to and taken to the station to catch the train to the airport when the phone rang. We learned that our grandson, Iwan and his father had been involved in a serious road accident and Iwan had been airlifted to Cardiff. While they waited at a roundabout at the back of a line of seven cars, their car had been rear-ended by a motor coach driven at high speed. As the back-seat passenger, Iwan only survived thanks to the strength of the child car seat in which he was travelling and the fast actions of the Wales Air Ambulance team. His father was lucky to escape with major bruising and being very shaken up.

All plans were forgotten. We raced to Brynamman to take care of his brothers, so his mother could be by his side. The whole family spent three terrifying weeks hoping Iwan would survive his serious head injury and broken femur. The Noah's Ark Centre at Cardiff's University hospital took excellent care of him and at the end of three long weeks he was stabilised enough to be released from ICU.

With one side of his brain badly damaged, poor Iwan in addition to dealing with severe autism, now had to relearn to co-ordinate basic actions such as walking and would spend the rest of the summer in hospital. His father was incredibly lucky to have use of a room at the Ronald McDonald house to stay near Iwan for the whole time he was hospitalised and his mother drove from near Swansea to see them each day.

Iwan in intensive care after the accident.

During her daily absences we took care of Iwan's brother, Eben, who is also severely autistic and hadn't yet had suitable accommodations made to allow him to attend school. School pickups of middle brother Gruff also often fell to us. Times were hectic with an hour and a half drive each way to help out with child minding responsibilities. Everybody was exhausted.

It was a relief when Iwan's condition was stabilised enough for rehabilitation to begin and additional child therapists could be arranged at the start of school holidays to take care of Eben. We could finally leave on our trip to Montana a month later than planned.

On the long road to rehabilitation

Learning to walk again.

Eben wearing out his Granddad.

Even the Guinea Pigs were exhausted!

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