The week started bright and early Monday morning. I wanted to walk to the village and buy some flowers for Steph's grandma, as we were expected for lunch. My sister had asked me to pick her up at midday, as David had gone to Watford to watch the football, and had said he will come to mum's after the match, and take her home. The walk did not take long. The trip to my sister's did not take long, but by the time I had got myself organised, it was time to leave to go to Richard and Steph, who were going to drive me, together with Samantha and Ollie to the heart of Totteridge!
It was a lovely afternoon. Once a year, I see Nadine, a wonderful lady who has lived in England for fifteen years, emigrating from South Africa, and understands the 'language barrier' of an immigrant. I enjoyed myself immensely, but when we all bid farewell to each other for another year, I realised quite how tired I was. Steph drove us back to Bushey, and after 'bathtime' with Ollie, I took Samantha home. However, after a couple of days full of fun and merriment, it seemed a little insensitive to take her back to an empty house, as her father would not be home until the early hours, and seeing that she was not particularly relishing the idea, I bypassed her temporary home, and drove her back to my mother's house. By the time I had done the round trip, again, it was rather late, and I was really quite exhausted.
Jet lag was at its height Christmas night, and the night after, and whilst I was happy to fall into bed, I was not as sleepy as I had thought. Dana called me and I chatted for a while before he insisted that it was time for me to at least try and sleep.
Tuesday was meant to be a reasonably quiet day. However, when my son suggested that we take a trip to London, with Ollie, to go to the Lego shop at Leicester Square, I was not going to pass up the opportunity. He would be at my house around nine thirty. I was ready in plenty of time, having been up with the proverbial rooster, vacuumed, and dusted, and generally made sure 'my space' was clean and tidy! Richard drove part way into 'London town' and parked his car by his office. We then took the 'tube'. Ollie was not phased by the 'underground' and was quite happy to 'ride the escalator'. He sat on a seat, got up, sat down and got up several times during the journey, managing to keep his balance far better than the adults. We exited at Leicester Square and he, thankfully, sat in the buggy for a short while.
The Lego Shop, whilst not too large, was quite busy. The queue to get in was managed by a 'post office' rope, and it did not take us too long to get to the front. "It's ten quid an hour for the buggy", joked the security guard. "We only want thirty minutes, can I give you a fiver now", I quipped back. The merriment continued. Ollie was happy to watch the large television screen in the Nickelodean shop, and soon lost interest in all the toys that surrounded him. The Christmas market was of no interest to a two year old, but the pigeons that were roaming the pavement were obviously just there to be chased. Grandma did get 'a dance' as the music blarred through the loud speakers. The trip back was as much fun for Ollie as was the trip there. The fresh air, and presumably disco performance, wore the little boy out, and he fell asleep on the way back from the train station.
Samantha and I were invited out for dinner. The evening with Beverly, Jodi and Stanford was great fun. We reminisced and laughed, and laughed and reminisced. The girls looked like they were back in the first year of school, where they met, aged four! I looked at the clock, and it was ten. We did not have to get up too early the next morning, so I thought we could enjoy perhaps another hour. Beverly had offered a wide variety of eats, none of which my daughter had accepted. However, as it was 'Matnee', she could have whatever she wanted, and her surrogate mother spent time making her 'egg and soldiers'. I would have said, 'tough', but then I probably would have done the same for Jodi if she had not wanted anything on offer! After a reasonable time, I checked the clock again. It said ten! I wondered for how long it had not been ticking! Jodi was ready to leave, so we went at the same time. Midnight had come and gone when I dropped Samantha at her dad's flat, and I still had to drive home. It was a damp night, and the temperatures had dropped a couple of degrees below freezing.
The next morning, Richard asked if I would like to join him and Ollie at the park. It sounded like a lovely idea. After taking ten minutes to defrost the car, I took off along the winding road that leads to the roundabout, off which is the road that leads me almost to my son's house. We got to Aldenham County Park, and Ollie wanted to ride his bike rather than walk, or sit in the buggy. Of course, before long, he realised that he could not climb up anything if he was not on his own two feet, and discarded the bike, which was left for someone to pick up and carry! We climbed fallen trees, and fed animals, and then did it all over again. We ate lunch at a little restaurant in Bushey and then took Ollie home for a nap. I was thoroughly exhausted, having not slept but one night since I arrived, and started to doze on Richard's settee. However, once my grandson had resurfaced, Grandma needed to be up, and needed to be able to play. "Grandma! Wake up. You need to play with me!" I woke up, asked what he wanted to play, and everything I suggested received a "No"! I dozed, and the cycle repeated!
Wednesday night was almost a repeat of Tuesday, but with different friends. Laura and Matnee have been friends since they were eleven, and she came to visit us with her mum, Ethne, a few years ago. We laughed and reminisced, and reminisced and laughed. The girls giggled as they remembered their years at school, and at the age of 30 felt quite comfortable telling their mumssome of the antics some of the other girls got up to. I am glad they waited until they were both married and 30!
The trip back from Laura was foggy. The trip from Samantha's dad to mum's was foggier! It was so thick that I could barely see a few feet in front of me. I have not driven in such weather since I was here last, and it was quite unnerving.
We went to Willow's Farm on Thursday morning. After feeding the animals, playing in the adventure playground, and fighting off several young children to play the 'get the token in the middle' game, I joined Richard, Samantha and Ollie for lunch! Richard had been pushing his sister on a giant swing, and she was suffering from a modicum of motion sickness. The siblings were enjoying each other's company, and I was feeling rather happy!
The soft play area in Willow's Farm is quite the workout! Grandma, although able to fit through the small holes and scramble through the cargo net tunnels, is not quite as small and agile as the five year olds that it is meant to accommodate! Keeping up with the little rascal was not easy! Once again, he was ready for a nap when we returned home, and I was ready to sleep for a week!
I stayed in on Thursday night, but had to take Samantha home, after she had spent the evening with Emma. The cousins had not seen too much of each other this trip, and wanted to make the most of the last night. The fog was thicker, and the roads icier. I was more unnerved than the previous night.
Friday was not as hectic. I took mum shopping in the morning, and after lunch drove over to Richard, and spent some more quality time with my boys! It was nice to drive back to mum's and not go out again! Samantha messaged me during the night to let me know she had arrived back in Austin, safe and sound.
After spending most of the morning with the lads, again, and spending a little while with Richard, alone, as we did the 'usual' Saturday trip to Costco, I came home to spend a couple of hours with mum, before getting ready for my big night out! For the first time in many years, I was going to a New Year's Eve party! It was more of a friends' gathering, but as far as I was concerned, anything other than sitting in front of the television, or travelling back across the Atlantic, (which was the norm for a few years,) is for me, a party! My friend Judy had invited me to their gathering. Each year, apparently for nearly three decades, a few couples spend the evening together, at one home or another. There were two couples that I did not know, but one of the men had spent a year in Austin in the 1980's. I commented that the last time that Judy & David, Lesley and David (the very gracious hostess and host) Sally and Susie (minus their husbands, as they had not yet met them,) were all together for new years eve, was in 1978! It was amazing to be able to see the new year in, with old friends, all of us now grandparents! I felt very blessed! Everyone, except me, had brought a dish to share, (I usually ask, "Can I bring something", but did not think as I am not queen of my own kitchen here,) and we ate like kings.
I left the soiree, reluctantly, a little before one, and called Dana on the way home. Since I found my loud speaker on the phone, the world is my oyster, and I had company on the way home. Samantha and Edward arrived mid call, and my daughter asked me what day it was. "Why it is January 1st, 2017", I said, knowing what was coming. "Oh no! It is December, here, and we are in 2016". We both shouted, "Back to the future", and laughed loudly, to the semi-amusement of our husbands.
Mum was asleep when I got in, which was hardly surprising as it was about one fifteen!
Sunday was family day, again, and this time, although Samantha had flown to warmer climes, Jason, my nephew, and his family were here for lunch. Richard and Steph arrived, and Ollie was happy to sit with Grandma and chat for a while, before he spotted his cousin's toys! The kids all played well together, and they left mid afternoon. Elise and I had cleared away most of the mess, but mum and I finished off. I went for a walk in the rain, and then settled in for a night of doing nothing!
With another four full days in England, I plan to pack a lot in! Friday I shall be flying back to join my husband. Happy new year to one and all, and may it be healthy and prosperous for all. All that remains now, is for me to say, see you soon, in .............. another story!