England – October 2015

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Lavenham, Suffolk

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Thoroughly homesick for the first time in 16 years we took an emergency trip to our motherland in search of a cure ๐Ÿ˜‰

Geoff was rather hoping for 2 weeks of rain, grey skies and general freezing misery to finally dispel my romantic notions of rose-covered thatched cottages, cricket on the village green and puffy white clouds floating over emerald green fields. Luckily, (or perhaps not – for the homesickness!!) he was wrong and we were fortunate enough to arrive just in time for somewhat of an Indian summer with overtones of autumnal color.

It was absolutely lovely (discounting one day of rain in London which I am now choosing to ignore ๐Ÿ˜‰ ). Not only did the weather play ball allowing us to potter aimlessly in the sun – the fall leaves swirling at our feet – we also managed to spend quality time with family and friends – which is, of course, the real reason we were so homesick…

…that and missing the gastronomic delights of the British Isles ๐Ÿ˜‰ At the final tally we calculated that in 2 weeks we had consumed something in the region of 100 million calories comprising, amongst other meals, of 3 curries, 4 fish and chip suppers, and coffee and homemade cake at various tea shop stops around the country x 14 (or maybe more).

Our time was spent at break-neck speed as usual.

We visited my parents in Windsor, Berkshire and celebrated my mum’s 80th birthday. I hope I’ve inherited my mothers genes because (all bias aside) I don’t think she looks even close to 80 ๐Ÿ™‚

We passed an idyllic autumnal day pottering along the River Alde estuary at Snape Maltings with Geoff’s grandmother, his dad and step-mother.

We spent the weekend bonding with my new hairy nephew Asher (a huge Bull Mastiff, somewhat intimidating at first sight, but ultimately an affectionate, cuddly great lump – able to puncture a football kicked for him by his Uncle Geoff with one enormous clench of his jaw) and the other members of the chicken, duck and geese menagerie at my brother Paul and his wife Katie’s newly purchased small-holding in the beautiful Suffolk countryside.

There was the traditional Gardner family get together evening replete with a full contingent of very bouncy nieces and nephew – thanks again to beloved Auntie Val for baking the most delicious surprise early 50th birthday cake for Geoff.

London is always fun – despite the on and off rain. Whilst Geoff was warm and dry presenting something fascinating in the Red Hat London office, I kept myself dry in the Tate Modern Gallery but I soon tired of the piles of bricks and barbed wire oddities in preference for the far more interesting street life of the city.

We finally got to meet the rather cute future husband (Damion) of a very old friend of mine (Kate… also my former bridesmaid) from my days in the law … it seemed only right that we should thoroughly vet and approve him before booking the flights to the wedding in the Greek Islands next summer ๐Ÿ˜‰

After a couple of days of Geoff working in the Red Hat Farnborough office (whilst I gallivanted around the countryside with my parents), we caught a flight up to Cheshire to spend the weekend with our longtime best friend Gary, his wife Tracey and their drop-dead gorgeous Ragdoll kitty, Ollie. We were collected from Manchester airport in their newly acquired refurbished lime green 1979 T2 Bay VW Camper Van whistling Dixie at full volume at us by horn. I haven’t quite got over the embarrassment even yet ๐Ÿ˜‰ We kicked leaves in the Cheshire countryside, Geoff found some very fat cows to feed and a tree to climb… so he was happy… We wandered the streets of fabulous Chester where we tried to watch an (as advertised) “awe-inspiring” falconry display from the city walls – but after half an hour of giggling at the poor handler whistling at a distant tree and chucking a dead mouse up in the air to tempt the naughty escapee falcon down from its perch on high we gave up on the show and found a tea shop instead ๐Ÿ™‚ … we also had a bonus fun evening at the best gastropub in the entire world with Gary, Tracey and other mutual friends, Rob and Rainzley – which was a blast ๐Ÿ™‚

… by this time of course the homesickness was hardly wearing off… and was ultimately compounded by our final few days spent with one of my best friends, Caroline, Stephen and family ( I can’t imagine where the time has gone but we have known each other now for 30 years since we met in the first few days of University). Naturally all the stops were pulled out as we hiked our way from one delectable tea shop and pub to the next …over, around and through various of the Yorkshire Dales – one of our favorite places in England ๐Ÿ™‚

So… back home in the Sunshine State, we are no less homesick but it was nice to come home and shed a few layers of clothing to sunbathe by the pool and reminisce ๐Ÿ™‚

Thank you all for an absolutely wonderful vacation ๐Ÿ™‚ We miss y’all! xxx

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