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Esopus river and the Delaware/Hudson Canal

For those of you that are not based on the east coast of America you probably don’t realize we have been going through a heat wave here that has been breaking all records. We have had about three weeks of 90 to 100 degree weather with high humidity. Thank goodness for air conditioning !

Last Thursday they were predicting that the temperature would be in the 80”s so we set off for the Catskills and went tubing down the Esopus river. We started off in the town of Phoenicia, collected our equipment and then got a ride on the bus to a spot about 5 miles up the river.

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It was so much fun, the river temperature was perfect, cold when we first got in but then very refreshing. We had a hoot avoiding rocks, negotiating small rapids, seeing the local wild life and just enjoying the day. We got soaked but guessed we would so had taken a change of clothes.

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A quick walk into Phoenicia to get a giant ice cream and then head on back with a a stop at Emerson country store which is the home of the worlds largest kaleidoscope. It is 65 ft tall and we lay down on our backs in the middle of the room it is housed in and were treated to a 10 minute show complete with music. Very surreal.

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I have been trying to catch up on a lot of my sewing projects, 3 of my mystery blocks, only one left to do. 12 embroidered squares for my crazy compass, bow tie quilt for Sheena, Boogie monster quilt for Alana, cut a 1000 squares for another quilt and completed a few smaller projects 🙂

Today I had a quick lecture on finishing my compass quilt and then an early lunch before we packed up the dogs and headed over the ridge to the Delaware and Hudson canal. There is a project to first get a pathway extended so that you can walk the length of it on the the former rail path and then phase 2 is to get the canal itself dug back out so that it can be used as a waterway again. The weather was really hot but we had a lovely time and probably walked about 7miles. The dogs have slept since we got home.

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18 Miles north of Myrtle Beach

Up early last Thursday to drive a little over 400miles from Northern Georgia to a site just on the border of North and South Carolina. Here is a picture of the rig just before we set off

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The trip was a little challenging for the first and last 75 miles as we were hauling the RV on some pretty small roads. Plenty of time to knit though, I had already finished knitting the bunny she just needs to be assembled and stuffed. So my latest efforts are a shrug for me. Here is the first sleeve and the start of the back.

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Our campsite is right out in the countryside set in a small family run vineyard. They have a pond with a family of geese, who also seem to like walking around the vines and a frame with many gourds hanging of it and lots of baby birds housed in them.

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On the Friday we drove to the town of Calabash, famous for its seafood eateries and then on into sunset beach. Unfortunately dogs are not allowed on the sand between 8 and 6 during the summer months so we just had a quick look and then headed off down to North Myrtle Beach. We will have to come back here in the off season.

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The main road through the area is wall to wall food and shopping so we stopped at a local diner and i got my first taste of grits, I have to say I quite liked them much to Robs disgust. We had a quick walk on the Boardwalk at Myrtle Beach and then headed back to the campsite ahead of the crowds.

There is no cable connection at this campsite and so we had a nice evening listening to my ipod playing in shuffle mode.

Saturday we were up bright and breezy as usual and drove to a place called Murrel’s inlet, it is a small fishing harbor with a boardwalk and some nice pubs – so after a pleasant walk with the dogs we sat on the patio at the Dead Dog and got treated to some good food and a live band.  It was funny to see a small island opposite the pub that housed a family of goats.

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By the way Rob has not shaved for about a week – so he could have passed for one of the local fishermen – What do you think ?

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Saturday night was one of those times that you have to pinch yourself to believe your own eyes. When we checked in to this campsite they asked us if we would like to join them Saturday night as they were having live entertainment in the park. So there we were with about 24 other people being treated to a 2 hour performance of the local Elvis impersonator. He was actually very good and we had a really fun time – go figure!

 

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He also wrapped his silk scarf around me as a gift and it was still a little wet with his sweat – we are thinking of getting it DNA tested just in case he was the real deal

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Sunday we stayed around the campsite and just relaxed until about 5 then we drove back to Calabash to try the Seafood Hut which was listed in out travel guide. We had to queue outside in the sun for about 40minutes but everyone in the queue assured us it was worth the wait. It was a no frills place with about a dozen cafe style tables inside. The fried seafood was amazing sooo fresh and certainly worth the wait. We had flounder, scallops, oysters, shrimp and crab all deep fried and served with coleslaw, fries and something called hush puppies which are deep fried corn bread balls.

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We walked on down to the shore – watched the crabs dancing on the mud at the waters edge and people starting to go out on the boats to see the 4th July Fireworks

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There was a small public field just off the waters edge where a seven piece band was entertaining a large crowd of people for free. The Carolinas know how to celebrate  Independence Day in style

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Tomorrow we start the trek back to Pine Bush – we will stop in a town called Petersburg just south of Richmond Virginia Monday night roughly about 250 miles away.

Dillard – Georgia

The park here is really nice and it is nestled in amongst a mountain range with fantastic scenery. We decided to go out for a scenic drive in the early evening – First stop was the Popcorn Overlook

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Then a short stop at the edge of Lake Burton to admire some of the houses of the idle rich.

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One last stop, we read that Tate City had good views, the bit they left out was that we had to drive through the forest on a dirt track to get there which in the truck was a bit like being in a dinghy coming down a river. To cap it all this road was nearly ten miles long and the views in Tate City were not as “spectacular” as the write up said they were.

We got up early on the Tuesday to go and hike the Tallulah Gorge – they only let 100 people in per day so we wanted to make sure we could do it. We ended up being the first there. You have to go down over 150 steps cross a rope bridge across the gorge then down another 230 steps and then the adventure begins!

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The adventure begins with a trip back across the river by scrambling over boulders in the river ( which are very slippery when wet ).

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Did we make it across dry ?…….. no we both ended up with one wet foot, luckily the weather is still so warm it was hardly noticeable. We then had a scramble down alongside the river past 4 waterfalls. The last of which is called the bridal veil and people slide down it into the pool below.

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The way back was just as interesting with chances to stop and enjoy the views and also prepare ourselves for climbing back over the river.

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So did we fare better on our return trip over the river ? ……….. well the plan was for Rob to go first, deposit the backpack with the cameras in and then come back to help me a bit. He did quite well, just the one wet foot. Me, not so good, slid down one to the rocks and was wet from the waist down. Rob grabbed my sun glasses then 2 mins later slipped again and dropped my glasses into the river. Ever the gentleman he then went back and tried to retrieve them, without success.

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Now deep joy, we just have those 350 odd steps to climb ! on the way back we passed a shop called Goats on the Roof – and that’s exactly what they had. The roof was covered with grass and they had small goats wandering around up there.

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I also found perfect T-shirts for us in there but the old goat  Rob would not let me get them

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Wednesday started with a slightly overcast day and no internet or cell coverage to the site. So we changed our plans and went for a hike on Dicks Creek it was a gentle mile down to the Chattooga river. They must have had some severe weather last week as we could not join the river trail ( bridge was out ) or the Bartrum trail ( trees down ).

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On the way back to the camp we stopped at a great farmers market. We went swimming in the camp pool and then a nice BBQ outside before packing up as much as possible ahead of our next journey. Tomorrow we head for Tabor City NC, 20 miles from Myrtle Beach and a RV park within a working vineyard.

Allatoona Lake – Georgia

We got up early and were ready to leave the RV park in Virginia by 7 am. We had only got 2 miles down the road when we stopped at the traffic lights only to fine the brakes on the RV had locked on and we could not budge.

Luckily Rob was able to reboot the system ( see even in the world of RV – if you have a problem, reboot ) and we were on our way. This is the longest journey we have done together in one day in the RV. We stopped three times but still made very good time and pulled into the camp at Allatoona just after 5. Honey Bunny did not get a sister but she did get ears, arms, pants, bobtail and a dress. photo

We have been here for 10 days and have had a really great time – we are about 30 miles from Paul, Robyn and the girls. We were sorry not to miss Blake, who is currently cruising the Med. Lucky Boy!PICT8077 P1010959

We have had a great time relaxing at the camp walking the dogs around the lake interspersed with trips over to the Pinto household where we got to swim in the pool (yes dogs as well!) trips out for some retail therapy with Robyn, incredible food ( with care packages for the RV for the days we were not visiting ) even a trip to Church on Sunday. Needless to say we were made to feel like part of the family and had a great time.

There have been some strong thunderstorms here but they have been a welcome relief as the weather has hit the high 90’s on a few of the days.

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We are looking at maybe buying a piece of land on the brow of lookout mountain in NE Georgia – so we also went up there to have another look and see in in the summer months. Rob and Paul went up there on Sunday and took some great views which minus a few tree tops will be the view we would get out of the windows. There is a ledge about 100ft back from the brow so we would look to build the house on that and have it as a architectural feature of the basement.

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They also found the remnants of an old homestead on the land – it will be great to keep it and use the chimney as an outdoor fireplace. We should get a metal detector up there, I bet we would fine some interesting things.

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Today Monday 28th we are going to move the RV to a camp park near Dillard NE Georgia.

Below just a few of the animals we saw and also motor biking for dogs !

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Shenandoah Valley and Skyline Drive

Monday we packed up our RV and left Lancaster county to drive down to Waynesboro Virginia, Some 260miles. We stopped at a truck stop to get some lunch (They are the only places big enough to haul in our 55ft of body length) its really funny to see us in amongst all the Lorries and to realize we are the same length- Must take a picture next time. We arrived at the campsite running on diesel fumes as Rob had insisted we did not need to fill up at the truck stop, that made his heart race a bit 🙂

It meant I got to do a lot more of my knitting, here is Honey Bunny’s current status. That’s her legs body and head done P1010947

Last night we took a trip to the local Walmart – they had a RV section so we were able to stock up on a few things  then off to Mickey D’s to use the free wifi. Rob takes me to all the best places !

This morning the weather is hot humid and very cloudy but we are only here for one day so we took off for Skyline drive and the Shenandoah National Park. It was really beautiful and I can only imagine how much more spectacular it would have been if the weather had played nice for us.PICT8049 P1010944

On the way up to the Byrd information centre we spotted a hiker looking for a lift to the next highway. He had been walking the Appalachian trail since March and had arranged for a fresh lot of supplies to be delivered to Elkton before he continues on his way up to Maine (another 3 months of hiking). The trail is over 2100 miles long and runs from Georgia through to Maine. It has long been an ambition of Rob’s for us both to walk this at some point. Me, not so keen ! but we may do it some day. It is not the distance or the time, although they are not making me super enthusiastic. Its the fact that you have to sleep out overnight and carry your tent and food with you – there are stretches where you spend days not passing any form of civilization.  I took a picture of Rob on the trail just in case it was his only chance P1010940

Tomorrow we have to be up and out very early as we are planning to drive 550 miles down to Georgia. That is our longest trip to date and there is a strong chance honey bunny could end up with sister after probably 12 hours of driving !!

Lancaster County PA Saturday

After a nice leisurely breakfast we headed out to explore the local countryside. Everywhere we went we were passing horse drawn buggies as the Amish got on with their daily life. I must say the children all looked very happy with their lot in life. The “Men of the House” were busy working in the fields ahead of their Sunday day of rest PICT8002

We drove through the towns of Strasbourg, Paradise, Bird in Hand and Intercourse. PICT8033 Then arrived back at the campsite for a late lunch. Rob watched the US versus UK football match until the goal was let in by the British goalie and at that point he decided we were off out again. Saturday afternoon is really busy for the locals so the drive was a slow one. We headed up to one of the local farms, Lapps, where they milk their own cows, pasteurize it, then turn it into ice cream. I had chocolate and almond and Rob had raspberry. It was delicious and no of course he was not sharing it with the calf.P1010922

On the way back I stopped at a  house where they sell their own home made quilts, they also had a very nice cookbook that I bought. It contains all their family recipes mixed in with poems and information about the area, a very nice keepsake of the area. We also stopped at a farm that sells hand painted gourds – they are used as birdhouses in this area. PICT8029

That evening I felt inspired and finished the binding on my latest quilt. Toni, if you read this, the “T’s” are made from the reproduction fabric that we bought when we were out  wandering around the woods. We had spent the day looking for covered bridges in New England and we just stopped to check the map and found we were outside a quilt shop in the middle of nowhere!

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This morning it was very hot so we just took a run down to the town for a quick walk around and then drove around and spotted some covered bridges and old mills. It was also lovely to see the Amish gathered together at various houses – when we went past one house there must have been some 20 plus children all under 10 dressed in their Sunday best and having a great time playing in the garden.P1010934 P1010930 P1010932

Tomorrow we are going to drive on down to Waynesborough VA. which is in the Shenandoah Valley.

So much time – but where does it all go !

I thought not working would give me far more time to do “stuff” but in fact after working so many years the lack of structure to the day means I am actually doing less ( including writing my blog) . But… this is my new start. We decided on Tuesday to pack up the RV and hit the road.Late Thursday morning we started the first leg of our journey, down the 87 through New Jersey and into Pennsylvania. Our last 50 miles were on minor roads through local communities slow but very pretty. I spent most of the trip knitting a bunny for Alana, I worked out on our last trip that if I am focused on something other than the road and Robs driving it makes for less “discussion”. I managed the legs and the start of the bodyP1010912

Our Campsite is small and quiet and nestled right in the middle of the Amish farmland. Beautiful rolling fields with farm buildings sprinkled as far as the eye can see. In the farm right next to the campsite, the farmer spent all day on Friday turning the hay in the field, he was using a horse drawn plough to do it. What a great way of life, if it was not for all the many hours of praying, I am sure I would make a good addition to the community and Rob should be a shoe in given he wears the same clothes everyday already..When I was based in Latvia – the fields there were all tended by hand. I was imagining trying to explain to them that the Amish are doing it out of choice not because they are too poor to buy motorized ploughs. P1010894

Those of you that know I am an avid quilter these days will also understand that this is a fantastic place for us to visit. We drove through all the backfields yesterday to a barn right out in the middle of the countryside filled with quilting fabric — over 12,000 bolts YEAYYY. I was reasonably constrained, I bought about 30yards of fabric and 30 fat quarters. The fabric was about 2$ a yard cheaper than I normally pay and then they gave me an additional 20% off as it was my first visit. Rob took the girls for a long walk while I was in there. One of the local girls was sitting outside the store with a table of home cooked cakes. The double chocolate cup cakes were delicious. P1010924

We drove on down to a town called Lititz, famous for its chocolate factory ( Wilbur’s) there was a museum there so we had a quick look around but given how hot it was outside we resisted buying any. Then took the dogs for a walk in the local park. They were a little disappointed to not be allowed in the lake with the ducks.we rounded out the visit there with some home made ice cream. Further on down the road we came to the main town for this area, Lancaster, we parked up and I took a stroll through the central market. All of the stalls are owned by the local farms so we were able to buy some great aged goat cheese. Fresh lettuce, new potatoes peas and miniature peppers. i also treated myself to some almond butter and rhubarb and strawberry jam. As we were walking back to the car we saw a shop selling all things British so we took a quick look, I bought their last box of oat cakes and Rob reminisced with the owner who came from Lancaster England some 30 years ago. P1010904

Tomorrow we are going to Bird in Hand, Intercourse – where Witness was filmed ( movie with Harrison Ford and Kelly McGillis) and Strasbourg. 

3 Seasons in less than 5 weeks !!

It all started on Thursday 24Th February, it started to snow and snow…… and snow. By Friday morning we woke up to 18inches of snow and no electricity. Which in our house means no water, no heat, no flush in the bathroom, no phone, no Internet etc. We thought it was an adventure, well for the first 6 hours, it started to get boring after that.
Rob lit the fire and we were able to burn logs to keep warm and we had the generator from the RV to keep at least one light running and the freezer so that we did not lose all the food. We contacted the electric company and they had no idea when the power would come back on. To cut a long story short – it kept snowing till Sunday ( up to 4feet in some areas) the power came back on late Saturday night then the cable company service fell over on Sunday so even with power still no TV Internet or phone – oh the joys of country living.
The following weekend we had mild weather and 3 days of rain – floods everywhere except in our area. Thank goodness for a high plot. Then last week we had beautiful sunshine and blue skies for the whole week and the temperature went up to the low 70’s. As I said in the heading all 3 seasons already — all we are missing is Autumn. For those of you that don’t know already, I resigned from my job in February. I was really fed up with the politics and all that comes with a company that is running in cliques. At the moment I am considering freelancing – I have already worked a few days up in the city which was a lot of fun. I just need to see how it goes and consider my options. The upside of this is, I have at last finished a number of my sewing and quilting projects as you can see from the pictures. I have also been busy making cushion covers and other quick craft projects.

A week after the snow we drove up to the Bellayre ski resort, it only took us just over the hour and we were met with the most fabulous conditions perfect snow, very little wind and not too cold. We were able to ski every black diamond run they had. It was a great day that was only made better by the fact that the lift ticket was only 20$

On the 8th March we were going to go hiking in the reserves but they were still closed to hikers because of the volume of snow left ( they had about 4ft ) so we hiked the rail trail instead – the dogs enjoyed it as much as we did. We took a picnic and sat on the bench looking up to the mountains very nice.

19th March we went to see the Awosting falls – it was funny to be hiking in snow while wearing short sleeved t-shirts. The Falls were great — with all the snow and the rain the river was at full tilt and the falls were fast and furious. We carried on around the trails with a few missed turns ( hard to see the trails in the snow). We did about 4.5 miles and decided to go a bit further afield next time.

It was such a beautiful day over New York State. As you can see, the lake is only just begining to loose its crust of ice. In a few weeks all the white stuff will have dissapeared and the park will start to fill with people travelling out from the city to see it – if the govenor doesn’t close it as he has threatened.

On the Sunday we hiked Mount Taurus – It is over the other side of the Hudson from us, between Beacon (where the train comes in) and Cold Spring. It was a hard steep hike to the top with some great views up and down the river. We had a picnic at the top again and we also realised the dogs must be part mountain goat because they just bounded up and over all the rocks. By the time we got back to the car we had done about 6 miles

25th March over to Spring Farm at last the snow has melted although that did mean that the fields were quite soggy. We walked over to table rock mountains and then up to Bonticou Crag, our pet mountain goats did a great job although we all balked at the almost vertical drop from the top of the crag and elected for the longer path back down. Another 5.5 miles, the dogs really slept well after all that exercise and so did we. This was a good walk for spotting raptors. We surprised a gaggle of 6 or 7 Golden Eagles sunning themselves on the rocks. It surprised us as well and Rob didn’t have time to get the canera out before they were all gone. We did get to see a couple of Turkey Buzzards though – just not as pretty.

A new year, a new decade

So where did January go? Well it started by catching our breath from the Christmas trip. Work was a little busy but nothing major for the first week. The most important appointment was for Cagney and Lacey with the groomer. They spend most of the day there and come back looking like new. That’s not quite how the old boy describes it – but I’m sure the girls like it.
Rob’s sister Ruth and husband Charlie became our first visitors of the new year. At least she managed to get in at a reasonable hour this time even if it was just as cold. Still, the weather did stay clear and dry so we were able to show them a bit of the area. Mountain house is always a good place to see, although the path up to the skytop lookout was closed because of snow and ice. We were able to get a different view of the house beside the frozen lake. There was even somebody fishing through an ice hole. This was also the first time that we had been able to see the skating rink in action. It’s in a big open sided barn like structure with a giant fire at one end. It made a pleasant trip along with a lunch in our favorite bar in New Paltz.
We only had a short weekend as I had to Travel up to NYC for a conference on the Sunday. We did get to see the big HQ show room of Orange County Choppers. I think Charlie was impressed. My trip to the city did come in handy though. It meant that R&C could take a day in the city and stop over at my hotel for the night before continuing their trip to Jamaica. They both snore!! So while they were sunning themselves, I was flying around trying to sort a few things out. ten days later Rob picked them up from JFK, to stay a few more days with us before returning to the UK.
This year had already got off to a very interesting start and while R&C went east, I flew west to Oregon and California and then back home. Busy, busy, busy. All work and no fun.
To make up for it, I decided that we should take a trip back down to Atlanta to see our friends Robyn & Paul & the family. This time we left the girls with their friend Elizabeth so we knew they would be in good hands. We caught the same flight down as Paul (he’d been in Connecticut visiting family) so it was a straight forward trip at the Atlanta end. It’s always a warm and culinary welcome at the Pinto household. I swear it has the biggest and best stock fridge in the whole of America. There’s no chance of starving there! This was the first time we had visited outside a holiday time so it was interesting to see how the school routine affects the day. Basically its a very early start and a not very late bed time. The girls took us to see a great acrobatic basketball demonstration. Young men running around, bouncing in trampolines, shooting hoops, all athletic. Meanwhile the girls did their cheer leading stuff. Very cute.
P&R kindly loaned us a car for our visit and we got to travel out and see a little more of Georgia. We travelled north for a couple of hours, up to an area called Lookout Mountain. There had been freezing wet conditions the night before which left the trees all covered in ice. It looked spectacular against the bright blue sky of a new day. Not so much fun for some trees though as they collapsed under the weight.
It’s always lovely to see the Pinto family and we hope to go down again in the summer. Meanwhile it’s back to the frozen north and wait for the next big snow.

Xmas 2009 So many visits too little time

There was lots to do before flying back to the UK for Christmas. Presents to buy, cards to create and quilts to finish. I delegated the cards to Rob. That kept him quiet for hours on the computer and it left me to get on with the knitting, sewing and quilting. Nothing like a deadline to get things done!


Of course Cagney and Lacey did what they do best. They didn’t know that they were about to have an adventure of their own with their auntie Elizabeth who helped us with their training. She picked them up the night before we left. Rob was much more upset that they were.

It was a very early morning start for Newark with snow on the ground and very cold. All went well and we were soon through security and looking forward to our Virgin Atlantic flight. We had always been told how good they are. Oh boy, were we disappointed. OK, we were flying “cattle class” but there was so little leg room. My knees touched the seat in front and I’m a little person! The food was sub Micky D and to top it all we had the kids from hell sitting right behind us. Rob also complained that the Trolley Dollies must have been the original crew or even their mothers. I thought that was a little harsh.
By the time we had landed in a snow covered London, collected baggage and picked up the rental car, it was late in the evening. The roads had earlier been impassable and as we drove further into the countryside we passed lots of abandoned vehicles. We inched along the icy lanes and finally pulled into Sarah’s driveway a little before mid-night. She was waiting up for us but Alana was, of course, sound asleep. I had to wait all night for a cuddle.
Not that I had a lot of time for cuddles in the hectic time between getting up and getting the two of them down to Reading station to catch a train to Wales and the Celtic clan. I nearly got stuck on the train as I helped load all the “little person” paraphernalia. I finally waved goodbye from the platform. We would meet them again, in Wales, the next day.

Next Stop Basingstoke where we spent a restful afternoon catching up with Claire, Lee, Georgia and Indya. Goodness, how fast the girls are growing up. Michael had battled through the snow out from London to save us a drive. I’m sure he’s put on a little healthy weight and looking a little less like a starving student. Anyway, the usually Grumpy Grandad was very pleased to see them all. All too soon we had to load up and hit the road again and set off for South Wales.

There was lots of snow around and it was well below freezing but we had good clear roads all the way and arrived to a hot cup of tea and supper. That’s the great thing about going home to Wales ….. you know that you’ll never go hungry, no matter what time you arrive. There’s something special about catching up with your Mum over a cup of tea. She understands and appreciates my talk of Sarah and Alana in a way that no one else can. That’s being a Mum I suppose.

I slept in for a while the following morning but Rob was up early and was treated to a cooked breakfast with all the trimmings. I don’t know where he puts it all. I had a lovely day with Mum and other family members popping in. Later in the day, Bill dropped of Sarah and Alana and the whole place was transformed in a way that only a 2yr old can. She is such a happy little thing. Sarah is doing a good job and my heart fills with pride again. All to soon we have to hit the road again and head for Sarah’s place in the southern tip of Oxfordshire.

Another all too short a sleep before setting off for Southampton via my old hair dresser. She knows just how I like it. We arrived with Rob’s Mum & Dad just after lunch. They have both been ill in recent weeks so it was great to see them on the mend. It’s always relaxed in that house and there is a constant revolving door of brothers, sister, grand-kids and great grand kids. The teapot never empties and the pantry is always full. Rob had his usual in-dept discussion on some political scandal or other with his Mum while Me and Dad just prodded the fire if things were dimming. We sent Rob out to fetch Dads favorite fish and chips for supper before nipping out to the pub. Rob had arranged to meet up with friends Garry and Kim. We spent a pleasant evening rummaging through old stories of motorbikes, bands and the fact that it is nearly 25 years since Rob was the best man at their wedding. We were joined by Rob’s brother Dave and his wife (another Lynne). Also Charlie and daughter Jess.

We stayed with Dave and Lynne that night as Dave and Rob were off to the hospital the next day. Dave has been diagnosed with a pre-leukemia condition and the search has started for a bone marrow match. Lets hope things work out well. While they were away it gave me a chance to relax with another cup of tea (or two).

Next stop on the frenetic journey was, just on the other side of Southampton Water, Hythe and sister Sue, Malc and the dogs. There is a new puppy on the scene to keep the old boy active (Dap, not Malc). Things were pretty chilled and clearly ready for the Christmas festivities. Rob was acting as a mule on this trip and handed over the goods. He didn’t even have to hide them about his person (not a nice thought). Paracetamol are so much cheaper in the USA! After even more tea (can never have too much) we set of again for the snowy Oxforshire countryside.

There was more snow on the roads and yet more forecast. We made the decision to collect Sarah and Alana and set off for Scotland that evening or we might not be able to get there for Christmas. It’s around 350 miles from Sarah’s to sister Kat’s place in Edinburgh. We set off at around 5.30 in the evening with the hope arriving soon after mid-night. Once on the major roads, we had no weather problems and the general forecast had frightened everyone away. We made very good progress until the snow started coming down heavily in Scotland. With about 70 miles to go everything came to a grinding halt. There were trucks pulled over to the shoulder and others struggling to climb slippery junctions. We had been wondering if we were going to be stuck for the night but after about three quarters of an hour, at a stand still, the column slowly crawled away behind two snow ploughs. Fortunately, once over the high ground, the road was relatively clear again and we slid and slipped into Kat’s place at around 2.30 in the morning. Thanks to Kat and Iain for waiting up with a warm welcome.

For the first time we were able to relax and do nothing. No travel for three whole days. We were very well fed and watered. Amongst many delights, the bird inside a bird inside a bird …… was scrummy and Rob said that he really enjoyed the fruit. Christmas morning started early and we enjoyed our first Christmas Day with children for many years. There was Catlin, Calum, Abigail Sarah (still my little girl) and Alana. So much fun. With dogs to walk and books to read, even grumpy grandad enjoyed it. To top it off, the snow was falling outside. I think it’s the first really white Christmas I can remember.

With an eye on the weather and knowing that there would be more airport security, we decided to set off South on Boxing Day. As we drove away from Edinburgh, the sun was shining on the beautiful Pentland hills. The snow covered hills were dotted with cold sheep and crazy walkers. The long journey south was without incident and I’m glad to say that the temperatures were a lot milder at Sarah’s house that when we left. Having the extra day allowed me help Sarah get sorted and Rob to spend a few more hours with Mum and Dad.

That evening we (I) said an emotional goodbye to Sarah and Alana and headed off to the airport hotel in readiness for the unknown security adventure. It turned out that we all had to be searched at the gate. We eventually got away. I have to say that the Continental flight back was much better that the Virgin one on the way out. And so, back home to rural New York State.