At the very end of February we went for an 11-day visit back to the UK, and spent most of the time in Norfolk. We had a night in High Wycombe at each end, but otherwise were staying in a house in Sheringham, on the north Norfolk coast, with Claire and her boys. The house belongs to a relative (Sandie’s cousin’s daughter), who is happy to have family using it when she’s not there herself.
One of the main reasons for coming back at that time, and going to Norfolk, was a ruby wedding invitation from two of our long-standing friends who live near Great Yarmouth. When we received the invitation we thought it was infeasible to make the trip back, but the more we thought it over, the more we liked the idea of an extra trip home which would enable us to see the family as well as taking part in the ruby wedding celebrations.
On March 1st we landed at Heathrow at 6 am, and spent the rest of the day in Wycombe, mostly buying stuff from the cheap shops to take back to Ghana. The next day we drove up to Sheringham, with Claire, our two grandsons and all the baby gear – fortunately Ian has plenty of experience at driving without being able to see out of the rear window! That evening we went to Filby, near Great Yarmouth, for the first part of the ruby wedding celebrations: a very pleasant meal for just six couples at the Filby Bridge restaurant. There was much reminiscing and catching up on 40 years of history.
The next day we went back to Filby, for the second stage of the celebrations. This was a lunch for over 80 guests, with a chance to study wedding photos (who could we still recognise?), meet old friends and indulge in further reminiscences. Sandie and Linda were at school together, and Sandie was a bridesmaid at Linda’s wedding.
During our stay in Sheringham we were able to visit Sandie’s cousin Mike and his wife Jane, who live in the town. We also visited some of the other towns in Norfolk: Norwich, Cromer and Great Yarmouth. The weather was very bad – cold, wet and windy – when we went to Norwich and Cromer, but our visit to Yarmouth (Sandie’s birthplace) was marked by bright sunshine and relative warmth. We walked along the seafront, and bought sticks of rock for colleagues in Ghana. Charlie enjoyed his day at the seaside even if the summer attractions were all shut.
We spent a lot of time exploring the charity shops in the different towns we visited, looking mainly for books and DVDs to take back to Ghana. Charlie just loves charity shops – he can spot the toy section as soon as he walks into one. He managed to acquire a massive heap of Bob the Builder videos for just 10p each. Charlie also much enjoyed playing with the vast selection of toys, lego, jigsaws and games in our ‘holiday home’. We sometimes had difficulty persuading him to go out!
On our last day in Sheringham the local North Norfolk railway line was having a steam festival, so we had a couple of trips on a train, and saw a variety of steam locomotives, as well as many middle-aged gents with beards and expensive cameras.
The next day we loaded up the car; by some miracle we were able to cram in all our purchases in addition to all the stuff we’d brought to Norfolk. We drove first down to Faversham, to take Andrew and family out for lunch to celebrate his birthday three days later. Again, it was a beautiful spring day, so after a leisurely pub meal we were able to go for a short walk along the Creek.
After that we drove back to Wycombe, did yet more shopping, and unpacked/repacked our luggage. All our winter clothes were returned to Claire’s shed, and our cases were filled with food and toiletry items as well as books, DVDs and painting equipment for Ian. The next day we flew back to Ghana.
Although it was only a short interlude, it was great to see friends and family, and we were really glad we decided to make the trip, although we were not sorry to return to the African sunshine!