Tis the season to be jolly
We hope everyone had a great festive season and avoided too many bugs, sneezes and lurgies!
We had a great season, though Susan did wake up on the morning of the Christmas Songs on the Pontoon with no voice to speak of, just the occasional high pitched sqeak every now and then......her rendition of Silent Night was brilliant. A great evening was had by our band of some 20 minsteral and our efforts were rewarded by a lovely spread provided by our friends at Oasis at the end. We were even more delighted to count up and find that we had collected 280 euros to be given to the Bombeiros (who did such sterling work in the summer when there were fires on the mountains) and the local children's home - it was a very worthwhile evening.
We then had a few days to get ready for our trip and for Susan to find her voice again and now back in sunny Lagos we can reflect on a busy and enjoyable festive time back in the UK with family and friends.
We had a relatively early start for the trip on the 22nd of December and the flight to Gatwick and transfer across to Heathrow was ok – a fair bit of M25 traffic, but no major delays. The flight to Aberdeen was delayed and very full. Despite having two large bags in the hold, we were persuaded to put one of the hand baggage pieces in as well – well we were sort of bribed – “if you put a piece of hand baggage in the hold you can board the aircraft first” – we didn’t take much persuasion. Although the flight was a little late Chris picked us up and we headed off to his flat – on the way he let slip that Tanya’s mother, Lillya, was also staying – ah, bit light on the pressie front now. Anyway a nice welcome and a nice warm bed awaited us. After Chris returned from work the following day we braved a trip to Costco to find some last minute bits and then a trip to M&S for the Xmas food bits – no slaving over peelings this Xmas! Lillya’s “fish pie” - a traditional Russian recipe - was a bit of a revelation and very yummy.
On Xmas Eve we met Alice and saac, and Liz and Harry, and Paul and Yokie, with Tanya and Lillya in Nando’s – a Portuguese based restaurant! Yup! Anyway a fair meal was followed by a trip to the Pantomime in Aberdeen (Dick Whittington of sorts) – Oh yes we did!!!! Susan and Alice and Isaac thoroughly enjoyed the show – Harry, at 10 months, less so. Us tall folks were very uncomfortable as the seats had a piece of Perspex installed – presumably for safety reasons – which meant our knees were always pressing against this impenetrable barrier for some 3 hours. However the show had its moments and was well received by the locals. After a quick one hour zoom around the shops for last minute pressies and we caught the bus back and were home in readiness for the big day.
Alice and Isaac spent Xmas morning with Liz, Harry, Yokie and Paul, so very quiet for us and no pressies opened in the morning - before they were picked up by Chris for their second Xmas – the paper didn’t stand a chance and several goodies were to be had, including Rock Band with a guitar and drum kit for Alice and Isaac, a Pandora bracelet and iPod Touch for Susan, a Bose speaker and ipad for Andrew, and much other stuff for everyone else – Lillya seemed very bemused – by the way the M&S Xmas dinner was pretty good.
Boxing Day saw a relaxed day with snow outside, naturally meaning snowballs and a tiny snowman – Isaac wasn’t 100% but he did manage a short venture outside to join Alice (who never feels the cold) and Susan, to play as only they can and Alice managed to lob a snowball right in the window...... Games – board and cards, Rock Band and other computer games kept folks amused for the rest of the day before Alice and Isaac went back to Liz. The day after saw a trip to Edinburgh for Lillya to see the castle, then another day in town to find some bargains before Lillya flew home to Russia, probably still somewhat bemused by the whole experience and in plenty of time to enjoy a Russian Christmas which didn’t start till January 6th. Another trip to Aberdeen followed for Alice and Isaac to spend tokens the next day with a great lunch in Cosmos and we started getting ready to head south – Chris and Tanya were off to Paris on New Year’s Day and we were off to Heathrow and Gatwick. New Year’s Eve itself was very quiet – after all the coming and going we were all bushed and we just about managed to see the new year in before retiring.
The flight on New Year’s Day to Heathrow was surprisingly full – what was everyone was doing in Aberdeen? Sue and Paull met us at Heathrow, a really generous thing to do and drove us round to Gatwick. We all stayed for the night in the Premier Inn(a great consequence of the car place we use not being open on January 1st) and so spent a New Year together for the first time after being friends for over 40 years. We had adjoining rooms, so we had the connecting door opened quickly followed by the portable bar they had brought with them and settled down! Great evening, a good craic, reasonable meal, very comfortable beds followed by a great breakfast the next morning and we were then ready for the second half of our trip.
Once checked out, our hire car arrived it was off to Havant to see Phil and Ruth and Ollie – only Ruth was not well! Ho hum. However when she was a little better we exchanged some pressies – Ollie was most happy once again! After a day mooching around Havant to get some needed bits and pieces it was off to Ferndown and Poole to see Andrew and Susan’s mums. Both looked very well and it was a pleasure to catch up and spend time with them both, the first occasion at this time of year for quite a few years (2008). Then it was off to Reading for some hard work! On the Friday we met Jenny, Shalya, Amaya and Mysha and Paul and gave them some pressies – the girls were delighted with the dolls and the clothes Susan had made for them, Mysha was even trying to feed hers.
We had been told before Xmas that all the garage roofs on the estate where the flat is were to be removed and that they were asbestos, so the garages had to be emptied, or at least pretty much so. We hadn’t been in the garage since we left the UK and Jenny and Paul had a put a few bits in, so it was time for some hard graft. On the Saturday Phil very helpfully and generously came with us in his new company car, an Accord estate, and Ruth took Ollie to Ikea, but did take a few bits with her later back to Havant. Phil and Andrew made 4 trips to the dump with Phil’s car well stuffed on each occasion. We had also arranged for the council to take some large items away – old beds, sofa’s and mattresses. The garage was mostly empty by the time we finished (a table, work surface and top box remained) but some 8 crates of stuff, later reduced to 5, made their way into Phil and Ruth’s loft, for which we are most grateful, and a wind surfer, Nick’s, untouched for many years, also made its way to Havant, which went into the shed to be sold later. The crates contain mostly photographs and paperwork we need to keep for a while, but the recycling bins at the dump did very well with old clothing, shoes and books. Jenny rediscovered a few things as well. We were pretty exhausted by the end of Saturday as were Jenny and Paul and Phil – the girls were brilliant throughout the day, and we did have time for a late lunch and quick catch up with Mary, Ruth's mum, as well. Loft access (the crates were pretty heavy) and packing took most of Sunday morning before we were off to Gatwick for the return to Lagos, where, even though we were a little late, Bev and Alan kindly fed us on our return. The kindness of folks is amazing.
Now back in Lagos and it’s really nice to be back, though there are lurgies and bugs around at the moment which seems to have affected many of those who remained over the festive period. The Dawn Patrol is going strong, though Oasis was closed for a while, so we were without the best tea in Lagos after the morning walks – ho hum. Events have re-started so we have busy and less busy days to occupy us between jobs and maintenance.
So now it’s looking ahead to the rest of 2017 – Phil, Ruth and Ollie want to come out at some stage, as do Chris, Tanya, Alice and Isaac, and Sue and Paull, so we have great deal of planning ahead, a fair bit of thinking and visits to look forward to. We also have some visits back to the UK to fit in as well – excellent. Another busy year it seems.
The sky is blue, the sea is calm, the sun is out, almost in shorts.........................we are back on Andromeda, we are home.
More in due course......................... (Oh, and we need some new batteries............. L )
Andrew and Susan
Andromeda of Plymouth