Three things have occupied most of our time in September: grandparenting duties, our Great Northern Tour, and trying to find further opportunities to live and work overseas, ideally in a developing country.
Claire had to cram a number of (working) flights into a short period, which meant going over weekends when Raf has to work. So the back-up team (us) had to leap into action and pick up the grandparenting duties we had neglected by sneaking off to the far side of the world. Charlie stayed with us for three successive weekends. We’re getting the hang of this grandparenting lark, and of course Charlie is the best grandson in the world. One of the joys is knowing that soon you will be giving him back, and also being able to say to his mother: “Oh, he never does that when he’s with us”.
When we were free from child-minding, we set off on the Great Northern Tour in Percy the Polo. This had expanded from the original plan to visit Ian’s Aunt Margie in Glasgow to include the following stages: Hatfield (to pick up a ruby wedding pendant); Milton Keynes (to pick up Sandie’s camera from the repairer); Newcastle (for Ian to discuss possible work with a professor there); and Birmingham (to discuss US EB5 visa investment issues with the president of a company who was visiting the UK). In addition to ‘business’ stops we managed to visit four sets of friends (getting a bed for the night from two of them) and look round some interesting towns and cities: Wetherby, Durham, Newcastle, Jedburgh and Banbury.
Ian’s aunt had broken her leg in May and had to have serious surgery and a lot of physiotherapy in order to walk again. She is doing well, given her age (90), but is not yet very mobile. We were able to take her out in the car north of Glasgow to the Trossachs, where we visited some nice tea rooms and viewed the exciting Scottish pastime of duck-herding at Aberfoyle.
At the end of the month we went up to London for an assessment day with VSO (Voluntary Services Overseas), to decide if we were suitable to work as volunteers for them overseas. Unfortunately they decided we were not, although they have not yet told us why. We were disappointed, but are researching other possible opportunities to use our expertise in the developing world.
Apart from these three major activities, September has been well filled with other events. Paul and Rosie came down from Manchester one weekend to see us, and bond with their nephew (who uncannily resembles Paul in his infancy). We also visited Andrew and his family in Faversham to celebrate Hope’s 6th birthday. She seems to be doing well at school and enjoying it.
Ian has joined a local art class, so it’s ‘business as usual’ on Thursday evenings. Sandie dug out her tap shoes and found an adult class, though she’s only managed to attend one session so far. We’ve both joined the Marlow Folk Dance Club, which meets on alternate Friday evenings – it’s well attended and good fun, especially when preceded by a visit to one of the many pubs in Marlow. Finally, Sandie has continued her writing and editing for the Ministry of Education in Wellington – her excuse for leaving the shopping and ironing to Ian, so it keeps us both busy!