UK & Euro Trotting

We had arrive back in the UK and again fell on the hospitality of Bryan & Jen at their home in Raynes Park, London. The next couple of days in London helped us to catch up with Rob & Helen and Lisa our other good friends based in the capital.

Then it was a train tour of England, taking in Birmingham, Stoke-on-Trent and Nottingham. We caught up with Linz’s parents, Colin & Shirley, in Brum to see how they were both doing.  Especially her Dad, who had recently been in hospital for a few weeks, while Doctors tried to find the source of the illness that was afflicting him. Strong antibiotics had started to clear up the infection sufficiently for him to go home, but there was no clear diagnosis as to the cause. More tests were planned, but he appeared better than we had seen on the screen when we skyped them from South America. We helped them to choose a new computer and arranged for a better wifi system in their home before we set off to Stoke to see Colin’s family.

George, Colin’s Dad, met us at Stoke Station and It was good to see him looking better after a chest infection he had recently been suffering from. Liz & Richard (Colin’s Sister and her Fiancee), opened up their home to us again! We had a great family party which allowed us to see a lot of people we had not seen in a while. The it was off to Nottingham to see more friends, visit our Church (St Nics) and for us to take care of some travel arrangement issues. Chris & Julie Bignall, friends and fellow Christians from St Nics congregation very kindly made us at home with them for a few days, while we stayed in Nottingham. Friends seen and tasks done, it was off to Italy to reinject life into the house building project.

After arranging the start of work on the garden of the property and ordering the garage door, we chilled for a few days in Treiso. Then we arranged to fly back direct to Edinburgh, instead of two flights via London, to spend a couple of nights with Colin’s son Paul and his girlfriend  Christina.

Visiting Paul & Christina in Edinburgh

We always enjoy visiting Edinburgh, and they are really good fun to be with. After a walk through the city that afternoon we had a nice home cooked Thai meal of prawns and rice and saw some of the ‘LA Noir’  computer game that the company Paul works with (Rockstar), had released a few weeks earlier.

The next day, based on the forecast of potential rain, we all caught the bus to the small village of Roslyn to see the famous chapel. Most people will know the church from it’s inclusion in the film ‘the Da Vinci Code’, but it’s history is much more interesting than that portrayed in the film. The church didn’t seem to mind though, because in the year before the film was released they had 35,000 visitors. In the year after the release they had 110,000 visitors.

Roslyn Church....hope they got planning permission for the extension!!

As a direct result of the increased interest and the extra revenue generated, the trust managing the church was able to bring forward much needed restoration work. The chapel itself is a fabulously ornate building, and has the unusual feature of a carved stone ceiling. We would definitely recommend visitors to Edinburgh include Roslyn on their itinerary.

Back at their flat we changed and took a walk past the base of Arthur’s seat to the village of Duddingston. For a meal at the Sheep’s Heid Pub. The place is one of those real Pub’s that are slowly dying out in the UK, with a good restaurant section upstairs. Good meal, good company and a steady walk back to the flat…..great night.

Next morning brought an early alarm call, and we were soon saying goodbye to Paul & Christina, so we could take the taxi to Waverley Station for the train to London’s Kings Cross station. Four hours later and we’re dragging our tired selves around the corner to St Pancras station to connect with the express train to Ebbsfleet. It all seemed like a very smooth military operation, and six hours after leaving Edinburgh, we were at the house of Mike & Wendy Breton to meet up with friends to help celebrate their son Neil’s 30th and Wendy’s 60th Birthdays. Another good day in great company which finished all too soon. Then we were throwing ourselves back on the hospitality of Bryan and Jen at their flat in Raines Park. We made ourselves useful, cooking while they sorted the flat for a Landlord’s inspection. We headed out to see Lisa again, meeting up for lunch and a relaxing afternoon. Then we were off back to Raines Park to cook the Charter’s dinner and get ready for some ‘ultimate frisbee’, or ballet for Linz……yes ballet! (insert your own caption here).

Both fed and exercised, we had a final night with Bryan & Jen. Then next morning it was off to the British museum for a bit of culture and lunch with Rob Quail so we could return some of his DVD’s and ask him to deliver a gift from us to Julia, another of our friends we’d seen at Neil’s do but had not delivered her pressies. Lunch over, and Elgin’s marbles inspected fully we then set off for Norwich from Liverpool Street Station. We were on a mission to visit Colin’s eldest son Alun and his wife Tamara. They are both closing in on completing their PhD’s at the university of East Anglia. Unfortunately their and our  diaries had only allowed us one night together on this trip. We had a really great evening with them at a local restaurant. It was good to see them so upbeat about completing their studies later in the year, especially in the face of restricted funding brought on the university by the troubled economic times. We are proud of their commitment to seeing it through and to their research subjects.

All too soon we were leaving Norwich on our way to complete the journey back in Nottingham. Colin had arranged to meet up with his friend Calvin, who had been an usher at our wedding. He was in the middle of plans for his own wedding to Naomi, and Colin was able to see them both together, while Lindsey was wined and dined by her very good friend Karen, in lieu of her birthday which would happen while we away on the next stage of our travels. Next day Colin caught up with more friends at Ruddington Golf club, while Linz was off to Birmingham to help her parents with their new computer and it’s Internet connection. Noah was going to be really happy to get his gas powered computer back!!

Friday saw us packing up again and moving to Liz and Richard’s before we left on Saturday morning for a week of chilling in Somerset with Linz’s Mum & Dad.

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