Too much navel gazing in the week running up to the UK festive break caused a last minute decision to visit friends and family in the UK. Paul, a long time friend urged me to exdigitate and visit so on Saturday 24th I made a last minute booking, UKP 141, double the price had I booked the previous day! Ho Hum, plan ahead eh?
An early morning email to my Eldest brother Jonathan and his wife Dianna resulted in a fast reply, “of course” which was lovely to receive after my vacillation and singing along to the Clash Should I stay or Should I Go, track 3 on Combat Rock. The 3.5 hour drive to Calais was uneventful catching the 17:30 ferry. The document check at Calais (done by UK Border Force) was actually more thorough than I have seen in past crossings; chap with magnifying glass scrutinising passports and a number of vehicles being held up for I guess further inquiries.
Arriving at Jonathan’s on Christmas eve evening was a joy, his son Adam and Cecile, their daughter Lilley who must be six or seven and his daughter Heather. I was a little embarrassed by my paucity of presents and overwhelmed by the gifts I received. Heather was fantastic chef for the festivities and over the two nights we managed to catch up, exchange our stories and drink a toast to 2023.
A quick visit to catch up with Gary in Rye on Boxing day warmed the cockles of the Manx heart and thence, onward to Brighton to see Paul, Ashka, Jethro, Pauls mother and sister, a lovely Chinese meal and, I fear, too much to drink on Boxing day. I visited the Brighton house too and saw Bob and Angus.
Onwards towards Reading and seeing Lovely and stylish 100 YOA Irish personality of the year Sheila and her stalwart son Simon in the little cottage I love so much. (My camp bed and sleeping bag came in useful here). An overnight stay with Christmas treats before heading up to Norfolk to see Peter and Julie, my middle brother and his wonderful wife where I was treated to lovely food and bonhomie. I think I was too lazy here and was really looked after.
My last port of call Terry and Liz, just outside Wodbridge two nights in the super large caravan and the couple who have encouraged me in the idea of Caravanning and who have been my goto guru’s for advice on boats and in particular engines (thanks Terry, always the font of knowledge on the subject). I am delighted to know that they will be moving into a super new home in the next months, one that Terry took me to look at from the outside at least, a bungalow with a triple garage so that Terry will be able to consolidate his various workshops and storage and to some extent downsize them. We visited Sutton Hoo, a famous Anglo Saxon burial site in Suffolk.
And so back to Holland with Stena Line, a seven hour crossing to Hook of Holland, a very calm sea.