A very tired Daniel, and a not so tired Jen, somehow managed to make it to Sheffield in a reasonable amount of time without any falling asleep at the wheel which was good! That also meant we had some time to have showers and clean up at Adam and Kate’s before heading out to dinner with them and some other friends. We were going to a Lebanese restaurant, which would be a new experience for me. I had already checked and there were dished I thought I’d like. We ended up doing a tapas style thing with a whole bunch of starters. It was quite nice. Not one of my favourite types of food and I don’t think I’ll ever be suggesting we go and get Lebanese but that said I’d happily go again if others wanted to.
In the morning we took Tammy, Adam and Kate’s dog, for not one but two walks before I headed off towards Manchester to catch up with more friends. I stopped briefly in Glossop for lunch and try to arrange overseas voting. Nothing much had changed seen my last visit. I saw Sarah and her two kids in the afternoon before heading up to Leeds to catch up with Julie and Andy. That evening we had take-away Indian food. I miss Indian food! I stayed the night there before heading back to Sheffield to catch up with Colin and Avril and their new child. Quite a bit of driving and I went round in a circle, but it was less than some previous years and it was great to catch up with people.
Having finished seeing people up north I drove back south and spent a highly exciting new years at my parents. OK, it wasn’t that exciting. I was tired after the previous few days and didn’t even start drinking to just before the New Year. Strangely though most of a bottle of wine was gone by the time I went to bed. Not sure how that happened.
Nothing of note happened New Year’s Day. On the second took more photos of birds in my parent’s garden before I went visited Manningtree with my parents. The most exciting thing about this was all the swans on the river side. They were very tame as swans, go obviously very used to being fed. Things only got a bit nasty when a dog was around. Taking photos of birds seemed to be a bit of a theme of this trip and photos of the swans are here, along with a few of some other things.
Saturday I drove to Hylands Park in Chelmsford to catch up with Caroline who also happened to be in the general area. I hadn’t been to the park in years and hadn’t been near Hylands House since they had done it all up. We got tea and cakes in the cafe and generally had a good catch up. Afterwards I went and drove past my old schools and the house I grew up in. Lots of very familiar things, although some stuff had changed. Perhaps the most noticeable was the removable of all the tree’s from the front garden / yard. I then stopped briefly in the retails parks at Lakeside before spending an enjoyable evening with Si and Claire.
Sunday lunchtime an old school friend, also Daniel, and his kid, Riley, visited. It was a pretty miserable day but we still walked into Clacton to get lunch and spend some time at the amusements. Riley seemed to have a good time and didn’t even seem to mind when he didn’t win at these claw machines that you almost never win at. That evening my parents and I went over my brother’s again to see them one last time before I left to go back to Canada.
Monday was spent packing and generally getting ready to leave. My parents had decided they wanted to drive to Heathrow that evening and were paying for a hotel for the night. There’s nothing much exciting to report until I got on the plane. I have to say, though, that I hate the new Terminal 2. You’d have thought with it all being shiney and new that it would be better than the old ones, but oh, no, most definitely not. I was one of the last on the plane only to find no room for my carry-on and being told it would have to be checked. Apparently this happens regularly on this flight, not surprising given the size and number of bins, but they still don’t think to tell you this when you’re booking or anything. The flight itself was also unreasonably hot. The whole experience was thankfully made a bit better be one member of the cabin crew who was very helpful and a good laugh. I’ve complained to United about the bag situation but also commended Derrick, the cabin crew member.
Newark was, once again, not a whole barrel of laughs. Still better than Heathrow Terminal 2 though. I ended up spending rather longer than Newark than planned on my flight to Halifax kept on getting delayed. Ended up getting to Halifax about 1:30 in the morning as opposed to the roughly 11pm that we’d been scheduled too. That was fun!