We left Sarasota on Monday 11th August. We had what proved to be a slow journey home, and a busy time when we were back. Apparently they’d had great weather in the UK until we got home, and then it turned back into the usual rubbish English summer.
Home again – eventually
We had to change planes in Washington, and were concerned that the gap between flights was only 40 minutes. So when we landed at Dulles we hurried to our next gate. Almost there, we heard an announcement that our gate had been changed to one at the opposite end of a very long concourse! We made it there in time, and boarded the plane, but did not take off.
We were told there was a problem with the aircon, but it would be fixed in 15 minutes. Then it was 30 minutes. Next we were told we could get off the plane while waiting. Finally we backed away from the gate – but after 30 minutes we returned, because another problem had emerged. We had a long wait before the flight was finally cancelled – then an even longer wait to be rebooked and given hotel vouchers. We ended up cooling our heels in a hotel which was nice, but miles from anywhere – we did not even have the opportunity to visit DC, which we would have enjoyed. The delights of air travel!
We landed at Heathrow on Wednesday 13th, exactly 24 hours later than scheduled. Claire and the boys came to meet us, and it was great to see them again. We were quite busy over the next couple of weeks. There were the usual medical/dental appointments, which seem to accumulate every time we return to the UK. There was also work. Ian did some analysis for Newcastle University, and was in discussion with NFER (involving a meeting in Slough) about work that had been done and further work that might be required in the future. We had a meeting with our ERA partners, during which we celebrated the first birthday of our consortium. Sandie prepared an EOI to register our interest in a possible future project (sadly, this was unsuccessful).
Time with our grandsons
A lot of our time was spent with the family. Claire was off to Dubai the weekend after our return, and again the Thursday after that. Both times Charlie and Oscar stayed with us. On the first Saturday we got the bus to Bourne End and then walked east along the Thames Path (continuing to encourage the boys to share our love of walking by the river). We planned to walk to Cookham – but we were there in no time, and remembered that there is a good playground near Boulter’s Lock, so decided to continue. On the way we had a picnic, and ice creams. The boys really loved the zipwire at the playground. We ended up walking into Maidenhead, and getting the bus back from there. We estimated that we walked six miles in total – not bad considering that Oscar is not yet three!
Another day we went to Windsor, and had a day out which included a picnic by the river, and a boat trip along the Thames. A lot of our time was spent playing football or cricket. Since the World Cup, Charlie has become a real football enthusiast. Early in the summer holidays he attended a week’s football school, and enjoyed it so much that he returned for another week at the end of August. Ian introduced him to cricket as well, and we are fortunate in having a suitable playing area just outside our flat, as well as a large park not far away.
While Ian was working, Sandie went with Claire and the boys swimming one morning, and to Legoland another day. The queues were horrendous, but the boys enjoyed the rides and especially the pirate stunt show, which Charlie insisted on watching twice.
On Monday 25th, all five of us drove through ghastly rain (typical Bank Holiday weather!) to visit Ian’s sister Maggi in Gloucestershire. After a lovely lunch we went for a walk in the woods with Jack the dog, but were soon back again because of the rain.
Two new Schagens!
Monday 18th August was an important day for the Schagen family. Andrew and Ellie celebrated their 13th wedding anniversary; Paul and Alexa got the keys to their new house. The High Wycombe contingent went to Slough, and Ian took Charlie and Oscar to Langley Park while Sandie accompanied Claire to the County Court, for the second hearing of her application to change the boys’ surname. This time there was no real argument, as Raf had signed papers agreeing to the change. The court order arrived a few days later, so Charlie and Oscar are now officially Schagens!