On 23rd December 2011 we left our flat and set off on our trip to the UK for Christmas. Although our flight wasn’t till just before midnight, we got a taxi after lunch to a hotel quite close to Accra airport. We spent some time lazing by their enormous pool, and having the occasional dip. Then we moved to their open terrace, where we enjoyed a meal and some drinks while looking out on their attractive gardens and listening to a small band playing a variety of music, including Christmas carols with an African beat. Finally, at 9pm we took a shuttle to the airport. This was our cunning plan to avoid having to work out how much time to allow for direct transport to the airport, given the random traffic jams on the way.
We flew with Alitalia via Rome, and arrived at Heathrow late in the morning of Christmas Eve. Claire met us there, with Charlie and Oscar and our winter coats – we were glad to see them all! Ian was particularly glad to see Oscar for the very first time. From Heathrow we went back to High Wycombe, picked up a case full of our winter clothes, and checked into the Abbey Lodge Hotel, where we stayed for most of our visit. Later Paul arrived, by train from Manchester. He spent Christmas with us this year as he had recently split up with his partner Rosie.
We spent Christmas Day at Claire’s house, eating and drinking and watching Charlie open his presents. His main delight was a toy cooker, and he had great fun playing with this, assisted by his Uncle Paul. Oscar got a bouncing seat, which he also seemed to enjoy.
On Boxing Day Andrew and Ellie came over with Hope and Isobel, and we all had lunch in a pub in Marlow. It was great having the family together and everyone had a good time, especially blowing up and releasing the noisy balloons supplied with the meal.
We had heard just before leaving Ghana that Ian’s Aunt Margie (who is 91) had had a slight stroke and was in hospital. On 29th December we flew up to Glasgow and visited her there. Her mind and speech are fine, and she is having physio to get her mobile again. We stayed overnight in a hotel next to the hospital, and next morning went into Glasgow city centre to look round. We did some shopping and admired the Christmas decorations, and then visited Aunt Margie again in the afternoon before flying back in the evening.
We had planned a trip to Faversham for 3rd January, so set off that morning with Claire and the boys (Charlie was keen, as usual, to see his cousins). Unfortunately the weather on that day was particularly bad: heavy storms and strong winds made motorway driving dangerous, and we decided we would have to leave the M25. The next exit happened to be Watford, and we took refugee in the shopping centre there. In the afternoon the weather improved, but by then it was too late for a long journey, which was a pity.
A lot of our time in Wycombe was spent shopping, for lightweight clothes for Ghana as well as books and DVDs to keep us entertained on our return. We also raided the pound shops for cheap household goods and other supplies for the flat. We came from Ghana to England with one full case and two empty ones; we returned with three full cases. We flew back on 4th January, with the luxury of a direct BA flight from London to Accra.
We’re not totally sure where ‘home’ is at present. In one sense we went ‘home’ for Christmas, but we also felt like coming home when we returned to our flat in Ghana. At least this home is a lot warmer!