We landed at Heathrow early on Sunday 23 December; Claire and Charlie were there to meet us. When we arrived back in High Wycombe we saw a big difference in Oscar; he started walking just after we set off for Vietnam in October, and now trots around everywhere.
As usual, we had a room in the Travelodge but spent most of our waking time at Claire’s house. On Christmas Day Raf cooked up a huge feast of Polish and English food, assisted by his brother Dominic, who has recently moved to the UK. It was great fun seeing the boys open their presents, including a ‘ride-on dino’ for Oscar.
On Boxing Day Andrew, Ellie, Hope and Bel came over from Burnham, where they’d been staying with Ellie’s mother. Nine of us went to the George and Dragon in Marlow for a leisurely and enjoyable lunch.
Paul came down from Manchester on December 30, and stayed two nights (at the Travelodge of course!). Andrew & co drove over next day, so we could all get together for a New Year’s Eve lunch (this time at the Crown in Hazlemere). They had to leave about 6.30 for the return journey to Faversham, but we were joined for the evening by Claire’s friends Terri and Andy (and their sons, who slept upstairs with Charlie and Oscar, while we saw in the new year).
On the first day of 2013 Paul returned to Manchester. The weather was beautifully bright and sunny, though cold, so we took the boys out for a walk. We drove to Bourn End, planning to cross the bridge and stroll along the Thames Path. But we discovered that this was impossible, as the path was completely flooded. We tried to find alternative paths, without much success. We have never seen the river so high. We finally went to Boulter’s Lock and managed to feed the ducks there, though Ray Mill Island was closed due to flooding.
Over the Christmas/New Year period we had dinner with friends, and did a pub lunch/walk with other friends in Wendover Woods. We also managed two visits to the cinema. We saw The Hobbit with Claire (she and Ian really enjoyed it, but Sandie was less keen) and Quartet, which was more Sandie’s cup of tea, although she found it rather disappointing. The rest of our time was taken up with babysitting, shopping, dealing with two months’ post, and medical/dental appointments.
Ian had three appointments in the first few days of 2013. The dentist repaired a cracked tooth, and drilled holes ready for a bridge to fill the gap created when a tooth was extracted in September. On the same day, Ian attended the skin cancer clinic at our local hospital, and a growth on his arm was diagnosed as another basal cell carcinoma: not dangerous, but needing to be removed. Two days later, he saw his GP, because he has recently suffered from chest pains and breathlessness. She thinks that the problem is gastric rather than cardiac, but has referred him for tests.