Although we have spent less than half of it here in our new house as we’ve been off gallivanting about.
To be fair if we had known in advance that we would be here then we may well have not had quite so many adventures during April as we’d have been happy to be settling in here, getting on with finding work and busy with the work we have found and probably had family to visit us for Easter rather than the other way round. But we had planned this trip way back last year and the travel and pet arrangements were such that it was easier to go with what we already had booked than try and rearrange things.
The first half of April saw us having another trip back to Rum. This time just a day trip and just Ady and I. We collected some more belongings, emptied our freezer, gathered up Mrs Turkey who has now come over to the mainland to take up residence with our landlords who had a lonely Mr Turkey so that was a happy matchmaking opportunity.
We had an overnight visit from a friend which was lovely and she bought her son who stayed for a longer visit. He and Davies have been friends since they were 4 and it was lovely to have him here with us for a few nights slotting back in as though he’d only been with us last week.
We’ve been busy doing new house admin type stuff like setting up direct debits, changing our address, registering with the doctor and so on, which all take up time in phone calls, emails and visits to the nurse to be weighed and measured. It is now official that Davies is the tallest and the lightest. I am the shortest and the heaviest…..
We have been getting out and about familiarising ourselves with the local area for walks and wildlife and discovered a lovely circular walk through some woodland which looks likely to be ever changing through the seasons. We spotted the first bluebell on our second trip 3 weeks ago and this week walked through a carpet of them. I’m looking forward to seeing how that landscape changes through the year.
We also enjoyed recreating an old picture from a bluebell walk of the past…
The second half of April had us heading south. First stop Sussex for a week with my family.
We happened to fluke being there at the same time as one of Ady’s oldest friends from school days so met up with him for a couple of hours which was both lovely and surreal.
We spent a lovely few hours lazing on a rug in a park that my sister in law and I used to take our children when they were tiny and was the backdrop for many long, lazy afternoons in the sunshine while the children played and had adventures, and semi-regular stressful half hours when two of the cousins (Scarlett I’m looking at you as one of them here….) used to get themselves lost too. Lovely to lounge about with the teens joining us for our surreal conversations and slightly hysterical nonsense, although now it is middle age rather than small children invoked sleep deprivation driving the nonsense!
Another memory lane trip was the local park with my brother and his son for an hour in the sunshine too. He and I would play there as children, I used to take Davies and Scarlett when they were small and now we stood and watched my small nephew. The play equipment has changed with the times but the open grass and feels of the park has not.
To add further to the retro feel Davies and Scarlett persuaded my brother and I to go head to head on a tetris game. Frazer beat me 2 games to 1 but we were pretty evenly matched, just as Davies and Scarlett are, albeit at a much higher level than my brother and I. We tried to tell them about how we were the first generation to play that game, when we were younger than them before they were even thought about let alone born but they ignored us and went back to beating our very best scores with barely one eye on the screen!
Not too old and jaded for an Easter egg hunt though. I’ll let you decide whether that is them or me who is not too old as I suspect I enjoyed writing the clues and hiding the eggs more than they enjoyed finding them. It’s good to be indulged!
Never too old for a cup full of 2p pieces at the amusement arcade on the pier though…
Scarlett, Bonnie and I had a lovely evening walk up the downs looking at the signs of spring on the way too.
Then to the second leg of our time away, which was leaving Bonnie the dog and Kira the cat in the loving care of my parents while we four headed over to Northern Ireland, which is rapidly achieving second home status for us. Despite the obvious downsides of air travel it was the cheapest option by far and I promise we do plenty to offset the carbon footprint.
Ady swapped seats with me so I could sit with Davies and Scarlett (the plane was split down the aisle with blocks of three seats either side) but then he ended up with nobody sat in either of the two seats in his block, so I moved over and we swapped mid flight for a go at the window seat.
We realised it was the very first time all four of us had travelled by plane together. Ady, Davies and I flew to Manchester for a weekend when Davies was very tiny, Davies and I had flown from Edinburgh to Gatwick to collect a car to drive back to Rum and Scarlett and I had flown to Northern Ireland two years ago but this was a first for all four of us. We did take part in the Heathrow Terminal 5 trial runs a few years ago as an educational day out which had us going through testing the security set up, boarding pretend flights and at one point even taxi-ing along the runway but never up in the air all at the same time. Our flight over was daytime and our flight back was night time so that was a nice contrast for amazing views.
Our time in NI was fabulous as always. This time we were not really doing any touristy stuff, just spending time with our friends. But with amazing weather like we enjoyed for the first few days, their gorgeous house and fantastic hospitality you don’t really want to leave the house anyway!
We were persuaded by the teens into Belfast city one afternoon…. we accompanied them on the bus, saw them to the main centre and then decided that as we didn’t need to drive anywhere or be anywhere and the price of two pints and a bowl of chips to share was pretty much the same as a fast food lunch we’d do that instead. It’s nice to see that there is definitely Life After Parenting!
We also persuaded our lovely friends into a pint or three on the Saturday afternoon at their local. When in Northern Ireland….
A highlight was being invited along to the monthly neighbourhood book group which happened to be while we were visiting so I had read the book and went along. I do envy my friend her local social life and it’s definitely something I am hoping to find some degree of here once we are settled in. Choir, book groups and other semi-regular social get togethers are all things they have in abundance where they live, I hope we can start to get some of that back in our lives now we are not quite so remote.
All too soon the time there had come to an end so it was back in the sky for us again. The flight back was busy and our hand luggage ended up having to go in the hold. This was both a pain as it meant having to hang around to collect it rather than walking straight off, we had also bought some crockery from a charity shop and had packed it carefully enough for our own handling of our hand luggage but not up to baggage handler lobbing stuff about standards so there was one casualty of glassware, thankfully contained in bubblewrap. The plus side was that Davies and Scarlett got to see baggage reclaim in action and pluck their cases off the moving conveyor belt!
Back to Sussex to be reunited with our pets, have a day of packing up, an oil change and new tyre for our car and goodbyes with my parents and brother before the long drive back north. We spent two whole days in April like this:
Both drives were uneventful from our perspectives although our drive back up to Scotland was lengthened by a rogue swan on the M6 near Birmingham for whom the road was closed as he was guided back off the carriageway. Swans eh? If they are not breaking your arm they are breaking your journey!
It was a lovely couple of weeks. Massive thanks to the family and friends who managed to spend time with us, host us, look after us and our animals, do our laundry, feed us and generally have lots of fun with us. It was lovely to be away, to see you all.
It’s also lovely to be back here. But that is taking me into May, which is definitely for another blog post.