Blighty part deux – 8th to 20th Sept

Tuesday 8th September

The evening at Carl’s is fab.  Great food, sangria and games.  We all play Brainiac together which is sooo entertaining – Trish manages to guess ‘platform shoe’ from a cleverly molded lump of plasticine by Carl which simply looks like a lump of plasticine.  But she fails to guess ‘sleeping bag’  from his molded slug!   After Brianiac we play Pointless, where I cheat repeatedly and still come last!   We finally meet Snoop their Beagle.  Only 3 weeks ago he ran out of the house and under a car.  Everyone thought he’d be dead, but he survived but with a broken spine and pelvis.  Amazingly after some major surgery he’s on the mend – thank God.  And he’s a lovely dog.

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Wednesday 9th September

Today, despite plans to walk and geocache we don’t actually manage to leave the house.   Instead I remember I’ve got a trial lesson on Skype with a new French teacher.  There’s no introduction in English and it’s French all the way.  After ten minutes I’m shattered and still waiting for him to switch to English but it just doesn’t happen.  Soooo different from my last lesson and Manon (workawayer from horse farm, Sweden) told me I wasn’t paying to talk English.  After 25 minutes I’m beginning to relax, it’ll be over in 5 but Jean overruns by 15 minutes.  And yes it’s been tough but I spoke a lot of French and Jean is positive about my abilities so we’ll see how it progresses.  After my lesson, I publish the blog – always a time consuming exercise.

Carl and Trish are taking us out for dinner tonight.  So when Carl comes home from work we get the train into Birmingham, meet Trish from work and start at the cocktail bar Botanist.  It’s supercool.  Then it’s on to Fumo, picking up Jamie (Daz’s nephew on the way).  After a couple of (very expensive) cocktails we move to a couple of fab pubs, which look like renovated banks, and all revert to beer.  Then we go out to dinner at a very nice restaurant.   Thanks Carl and Trish for looking after us!

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Thursday 10th September

It’s going to be a quiet day today.  We pack up and say our goodbyes to Bailey and Snoop.  It’s been a whistle stop tour but great fun.  Today we’re driving down south to Marlborough to stay with Vik and Gav. We do need to return the hire car but that’s about it.   Gav and Vik have been storing our bike and biking gear but our planned departure date of 21st September is looking unachievable.  Finally I’ve managed to see a doctor – it seems I’m probably anaemic and need a referral to a specialist and to ensure we’re not stuck here for months, we’re going to pay to go private and fingers crossed it’s quick.

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Friday 11th September

Gav and Vik are at work and we go into Andover (they’ve lent us one of their cars – ain’t that brill) to get my blood test done and Daz needs a haircut – he’s planning on growing his hair into a ‘manbun’ so he just needs the back and sides tidied up.  After that it’s a couch fest – very relaxing.

 

Saturday 12th September

Jane visits today.  She’s flying off to Boston on Wednesday to her eldest son’s, (Peter) wedding so she is so happy.  It’s great to see her, as always, and we all go out to the village fete and then later return home for some amazingly fabulous but extremely large fishcakes made by Vikki.

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Sunday 13th September

Today Jane has booked lunch for us all in Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s restaurant in Winchester.  Ang (Angela) also joins us.  It’s such a lovely treat for us all.  Thanks Jane.

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Monday/Tues/Wed/Thurs/Friday/Saturday

Monday it’s Gav’s birthday and we pop off to Swindon to visit the outlet village.  I get new Crocs and even Gav buys a pair.  A croc convert we hope.  Tuesday we do a treasure hunt in Bath and Wednesday we go to Salisbury for an escape room experience, which is great fun. Basically there are a set of interconnected rooms that we have to navigate through by solving puzzles and clues to open boxes, doors and find other clues to help us proceed, there’s even at one point an exercise bike linked to the lights that someone has to pedal so we can see what we are doing for part of the puzzle!  We have a great time trying to escape!!

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Thursday I have an appointment with a specialist.  This fast track experience is costing £150 and before my examination she’s explaining that the subsequent tests required will be a biopsy (£300), ultrasound (£300), operation (couple of thousand).  Oh dear.  But when she examines me she finds a prolapsed fibroid.  There is no need for any further tests and she is happy that the serious nature of the fibroid means I can go back on the NHS and hopefully treatment will be within a couple of weeks.  Result.  We are so relieved, Daz says we should celebrate and we go into Winchester for a nice meal and a glass of wine.  Then on our way home we gate crash at Jac and Trax.  They’ve moved into their new home in Tidworth and it’s absolutely fantastic.

Friday we visit Deborah and John and have a lovely meal and catch up and meet their beautiful new puppy Stanley.

Saturday, Alex and Mandy come to visit from Torquay.  Mandy used to live with me and Vikki in Andover when she was working at Twinnings, Andover.  It is so great to catch up with them and we go into Marlborough town to enjoy the evening scene, play Killer and then go out to Vik and Gav’s favourite Indian restaurant, which is fabulous.

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Sunday 20th September

Today Mandy and Alex leave and my mother, brother (Meirion) and his partner (Joanna) and their 2 dogs arrive.   Well what a bizarre visit.  My mum hates my hair which is absolutely fine. Everyone is entitled to their opinion.  However, what isn’t fine is that when I tell her I’ve had numerous compliments she tells me these people are just being polite.  Oh dear mum, such a shame you think your opinion is the only right opinion and you feel within your rights to insult my friends, whose hospitality I have relied on since my return to the UK.   And then the visit continues in much the same vein and is much like pulling teeth.  My brother has absolutely nothing to say to us after 8 months of travel and when we attempt to ask him about himself he is his usual monosyllabic, taciturn self.  I’m at a loss to understand why he even wanted to see us.  At least we have Joanna’s effusive manner to counterbalance my brother’s reticence and pedantry.  Finally the visit is over and even Daz’s usual exuberance has been beaten into retreat.  What a shame!

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