We landed back in the UK early on Tuesday 17th December. This meant that, after a few hours’ sleep, we were in time to go to Charlie’s school for the Reception Classes’ First Nativity. The children acted out the traditional story with some modern music. Charlie was one of the narrators; he said his piece but looked terrified throughout!
First week back
Our first week back was a busy one. Sandie went with Claire to see Oscar’s playgroup nativity, but he refused to take part! We did two overnight babysitting sessions, one while Claire was flying and one when she visited James in Dunstable. After the second one we took the boys round to our flat, and they helped us decorate our Christmas tree.
Ian went to the optician to choose some new glasses, to the hospital to have a mole removed, and to the GP to consult about this foot, which was still giving trouble. She still believed it was gout, but ‘jut in case’ sent him back to the hospital for an x-ray (which showed nothing).
Claire’s car had broken down completely just before we returned. So during our first week back we arranged to have it towed to a local garage and some essential repairs done to make it roadworthy. But it was clearly reaching the end of its life (it had served our family well for 11 years), so we had trips to Beaconsfield and Watford looking for a replacement.
On top of all this (and the inevitable Christmas shopping) we were involved at short notice in an online training session and a telephone conference relating to the work we had done in Florida. It transpired that the ‘Monitoring and Evaluation Framework’ we’d revised did still not meet the funder’s requirements, so further revision was needed – but that was postponed until after Christmas!
Sandie had an attack of flu which kept her in bed for most of the 23rd and 24th December.
Fortunately she felt better on Christmas Day; we walked round to Claire’s and enjoyed watching the boys open several enormous presents. Ian spent two hours assembling a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Playstation! Later we went to a pub in nearby Hazlemere for Christmas lunch.
On Boxing Day we had a bigger family gathering. We were joined at Gordon Road by Andrew, Ellie, Hope and Isobel; also by Ian’s sister Maggi, her son Chris and her dog Jack! There were more presents to open, and then all of us (except Jack) went to a pub in Marlow for a leisurely and enjoyable lunch. Finally, everyone came back to our flat, where we did a ‘lucky dip’ (mainly small gifts acquired on our travels) for the second year running.
Some people have to work, even over Christmas. Claire had to leave us after the lucky dip, to go home and get ready for another flight to Dubai. Later we took the boys back, put them to bed and looked after them until they were collected by friends the following afternoon.
After that it was back to work for us too. We spent most of the next two days working on the Framework for Omega schools. We had a break on the Saturday evening to see The Hobbit (Part 2) at the local cinema – Ian enjoyed it but Sandie was not overly keen.
Claire returned on Sunday, and on Monday Ian went with her to collect the new car, while Sandie looked after the children. She was feeling unwell again, and next day (New Year’s Eve) collapsed in bed. Ian was so concerned he called the doctor, who diagnosed a chest infection and prescribed antibiotics.
Sandie did not see the end of 2013, or the beginning of the new year – she was in bed, sleeping. Ian watched the London fireworks on TV. Not the most exciting new year we have ever had! Sandie spent the next few days in bed or reclining (propped up) on the sofa, mainly watching TV but able to take part in a meeting of our ERA consortium.
We had another family gathering on January 4th, when Paul came down from Manchester and brought Alexa to meet us for the first time. They are planning a September wedding. Andrew and Ellie came over too, and James was back from visiting family in Spain, so eight of us had dinner at our favourite local Indian restaurant. Next day, Claire did a buffet lunch for 12 (including grandchildren) before everyone went their separate ways again.
After that, it was time to take down the Christmas decorations, and get ready for our next trip…..