Again, a Christmas in Clearwell for the family but as usual we managed to factor in visits to relatives and friends as well as two concerts, a visit to Santa (for Harry’s benefit of course!) and the usual festivities.
Friday 19 December
Morning ferry to Heysham, very slow through Morecambe once we had docked – can’t wait for the new bypass to be built and opened. Stop off for refreshments at Elizabeth’s in Solihull and eventually reach Clearwell to unpack.
Saturday 20 December
Drive to Epsom Downs for an hours rest at the Holiday Inn Express before setting off for the O2.
Sat Nav somehow sends us right through South London so the planned hour’s drive turned into 2 hours. Valet parking very well worth it but signage to get to it not particularly great.
Evening meal in the O2 at Cabana, a Brazilian restaurant and whilst service and food good, the music from the speakers above our heads was exceptionally loud in such a confined space.
The Simply Red concert was amazing, it was the last one of the tour – two encores after a 90 minute concert.
Sunday 21 December
A drive to Flic & Gary in Reading and then a drive to Jose in Andover. Jose on good form as were Linda & Mick, David and his Daughter Emma who were also there.
Gave Emma pictures of the engine Gary is repairing for her.
An evening meal with Laura, Flic’s friend, who lives a couple of hundred yards from Jose, at the old Guildhall in Andover – Villagio Ristorante – a good evening.
Monday 22 December
Go to Chessington to see Sal’s cousin, Pam & Mike. Mike is 80 next year and they are showing their age a bit – it is a long time since we have seen them and then on to Guildford for a meal at Cau with Viv before an Only Men Aloud concert – they are still as good but it is a shame the hall was not full.
Some good Christmas lights in Guildford.
Tuesday 23 December
Pick up Mel from Gatwick and drive to Clearwell. Sarah, Ali and Harry were supposed to arrive at Portsmouth today at 6:30am but because of the poor weather, the ferry left Jersey at 4am instead of 9:30 the previous evening so have a long day ahead of them. They eventually arrive at about 6pm.
Asda due to deliver sometime between 8pm and 10pm but nothing materialises.
Wednesday 24 December
Sarah spends long time contacting ASDA only for them to say the driver the previous evening just went back to the depot as his shift had ended and left the delivery in the van – it was only found this morning.
Off to Perrygrove for Harry to meet Santa just as ASDA arrive with an added bottle of Prosecco and a bunch of flowers for the problems caused. Shame they substituted some Mexican food instead of Indian.
A good story told by Santa’s helpers, a ride on the train and a play on the playground at the top of the site for Harry, some mince pies and hot apple drink for adults.
Thursday 25 December
What more can you ay when you have a youngster in the house on Christmas Day other than he was very good and was able to wait for presents under the tree until after lunch.
8 people for Christmas dinner in a house that is normally suitable for 5 or 6 is a challenge but Sal admirably managed with help from Sarah.
With such appalling weather, a walk was not really on the cards and the rest of the day was just a normal Christmas day with little activity although Nick, Ute and the boys arrive for a night’s stay.
Stewart & Lyn had booked a house in nearby Coleford which, as events transpired, had two spare rooms so rather than Nick, Ute and the boys sleeping on the floor, they took themselves off to comfortable beds in Coleford.
A much better day weather wise and with Flic & Gary’s arrival for the day, we now had lunch for 14!
Thanks Sarah for the Vegetable curry!
Some little jobs around the house that Sarah & Ali looked at for us whilst I took some rubbish to the dump, witnessed a car crash on the way back and spoke to a local builder about our creaky floorboards.
Sarah leaves in the van to get down to catch Portsmouth ferry tomorrow morning.
Take Ali & Harry and Mel to Birmingham airport and stop off at Ross Labels for lunch. Not liking the overall effect of the new style shop there but at least all brands are in one place. Text received, our Isle of Man Steam Packet ferry tomorrow may be disrupted or cancelled – yes it is windy again.
Pack up car as we either have an early start tomorrow or another day in the UK, leaving a separate bag should we need to stay because the ferry was cancelled.
Plan on leaving at 8am for drive to Heysham but text received at 7am means ferry is going to leave an hour early so rush final tidying up and leave at about 7:45.
Fortunately, little traffic so we do have time to get to the ferry which we are told is going to cross into a force 8.
No more ferries sailed that day or the next day so we were lucky to get back.
Home again, but for how long?
Happy 2016 folks.