Three weeks in the UK

Father's day breakfast in the garden

Father’s day breakfast in the garden

 

and oh my goodness didn’t those three weeks go quickly but we managed to do quite a lot.  The party was a huge success and to see the look on the boys faces was worth the effort to get back on time. The next day was Father’s day and Bill hasn’t had Father’s day with the boys for years so we celebrated with a wonderful breakfast cooked by Thomas.  I even took my coat off for a few hours!

 

 

The new headquarters of the Thomas Cookie co

The new headquarters of the Thomas Cookie co

We hired a car Monday morning and drove to the other side of Maidstone to see Thomas’s new unit, the new headquarters of the Thomas Cookie co.  Bill and I had very proud of what Thomas has achieved in just over a year and with Sonal’s help. It turned out to be a good time to arrive because Thomas was grateful for Bill’s help with sorting out some shelving and other bits.  After making some plans the four of us drove into Maidstone for a coffee and a chat. It felt so strange walking around the town together after so long. Sadly James had to leave in the afternoon to fly back to Scotland.  Had he known we were coming he would have stayed longer but we planned to go to Scotland the following week.

Logan with Bill's shoe on

Logan with Bill’s shoe on

 

Tuesday we got onto the motorway to drive to Basingstoke to see my sister.  There’s so much traffic here and after travelling everywhere at 6kts it felt strange going so fast.  Angela looks after her grandson Logan, my great nephew 3 days a week and it was good to see him again.  When I was in the UK last May he was a babe in arms but now he’s walking around very cheekily including in Uncle Bill’s trainers!

We spent 2 days there but after we left I realised I didn’t get a photo of me with him but I love this one of Bill in training to be a Grandpa!

Great Uncle Bill in training to be a Grandpa

Great Uncle Bill in training to be a Grandpa

We had a lovely meal out with Angela and Terry on the Tuesday evening and a nice meal in on Wednesday with my niece Kirsty too.

Thursday was a busy day. After laying some flowers on my Mum’s grave we drove to Pitton to see Bill’s Auntie Hilary and Uncle John for a lovely chat and a delicious lunch. After leaving in the afternoon we drove to our sister-in-law Claire and Gordon for a light supper, more chatting and a comfy bed.

Friday we paid a quick visit to our lock-up to leave a few bits there (there really isn’t any more room).  I always feel sad when I see our ‘treasures’ stacked floor to ceiling – I wonder when they will all come out one day into a home? We continued onto Port Solent and the marine superstore to start buying the many items needed to take back. Another grave in the afternoon, Dad is buried in Littlehampton and doesn’t get visited very often so it needed a bit of TLC.

Finally we completed the loop and ended back in Maidstone in Thomas’s unit and I helped make some cookies. I was paid in cookies too, yum yum.

Saturday saw us visiting the chandleries of Gillingham and Chatham for more bits as well as some clothes shopping.

20+ sausage dogs going for a walk

20+ sausage dogs going for a walk

 

Sunday was market day but while Bill went to help Thomas on the stall I went with Sonal to walk my ‘grand-fur-baby’ Slinky with the other dogs of the ‘Sausage dog club’ at Cobtree park north of the town.  It brought back fond memories because I used to walk Nike there.  Slinky is only 4 months old so can’t walk far but he enjoyed meeting his buddies.  It was wonderful to spend time with Sonal and enjoyed our walk together.

Middle of summer and we all had coats on again.

Sonal with Slinky meeting his brother

Sonal with Slinky meeting his brother

 

This is Slinky’s brother and is the first time he’s seen him since leaving the litter, I wonder if he remembered him.

After our walk Sonal and I drove to West Malling to see Thomas on his market stall.  Also my other sister Amanda, my brother-in-law Alan and nephew and niece Tristan and Jasmine came to see us. After the stall was packed up we drove to the Kings Arms in Meopham and all enjoyed a delicious Sunday lunch together.  In the afternoon back at Thomas and Sonal’s house Jasmine was asked to be one of Sonal’s bridesmaids so the talk turned to weddings.

Sonal, Sue, Bill, Thomas, Alan, Tristan, Jasmine and Amanda

Sonal, Sue, Bill, Thomas, Alan, Tristan, Jasmine and Amanda

my selfie outside Sainsburys

my selfie outside Sainsburys

 

Monday 27th Bill and Thomas headed off to Ikea to get some shelving and other bits for the unit and I did something so normal for everyone but I was thrilled – I walked to Sainsburys! I took this selfie in the entrance and the other shoppers probably thought I was a bit daft but there you go. I had a great time buying all the stuff I can’t normally buy like nice decaff filter coffee, nescafe cappuccino sachets, t bags, stirfry sauces, best jam, oxo cubes, birthday number candles, as well as some strawberries and raspberries to just eat.

 

Tuesday was spent packing as much as possible in just 2 cabin bags for the Easyjet flight to Scotland. To take hold luggage on easyjet was £32 a piece each way! Thomas drove us to Gatwick for the flight to Inverness. Goodness it was cold when we landed. Another layer went on, Bill walked around with 4 layers including his jacket and I’ve had 3 with my coat. James was excited to have us in Scotland. We hadn’t been there for 2 1/2 years.

Coffee in the Walled garden cafe

Coffee in the Walled garden cafe

 

Wednesday morning we all went for a beautiful walk. It may be cold but at least it’s sunny. We walked to Gordon’s castle and had coffee in the tea rooms in the walled garden. It was a lovely start to our stay.  www.gordoncastlescotland.com

The area around the castle is stunning and it’s only a mile or so from James’s house.

Out walking

Out walking

Stunning scenery

Stunning scenery

 

 

In the afternoon we went into Elgin to get some shopping so I could make some of James’s favourite dinners.  That evening I started with a big lasagne and salad. James made the garlic bread.

 

 

 

Pretty foxgloves

Pretty foxgloves

 

Thursday was big excitement because James was offered a job in Saudi Arabia.  A great opportunity, we are very proud of him. So we went out for another walk to celebrate!

I love the wildflowers in Scotland, these foxgloves were every where, so rare in England.

 

The salmon staircase

The salmon staircase

 

 

 

We crossed a burn (a tributary of the river Spey) by the ford which also had a salmon staircase leading up the river.  Unfortunately it isn’t salmon season so there wasn’t any to catch.

 

 

The ford

The ford

The drone

The drone

 

 

Our destination was the cricket field so James and Bill could fly James’s drone, otherwise known as his pet!

Bill was given very strict instructions on how to fly it after James had launched it but he wasn’t allowed to land it. Now Bill wants one.

 

 

Bill in charge

Bill in charge

 

Beautiful countryside either side of the river Spey

Beautiful countryside either side of the river Spey

The old toll gate house

The old toll gate house

 

 

 

We continued our walk towards the Baxters coffee shop crossing the river Spey. This little cottage was once the tollgate for the old bridge, which is now a footpath and the new bridge lies alongside it and Baxters is the other side. Perfect.

 

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The new road lying alongside the old road

James wanted Bill to help him put some windows in his van so that afternoon was spent working out what was needed and shopping for tools.  I had a nice walk around Elgin instead. Made Chicken and chickpea curry for dinner

Beautiful countryside

Beautiful countryside

 

 

On Friday Bill and James were waiting for some parts to be delivered so James drove us all a bit further out to see more of the surrounding countryside. We were lucky with the weather.  It was normally sunny in the mornings for our walk or drive then clouded over later with the odd shower.  What we really enjoyed was the light evenings.  It didn’t get dark until 10.30 or even 11.00pm in Scotland.

 

Rolling hills

Rolling hills

James and the drone

James and the drone

 

 

and James took his drone.

 

Bill cutting out the window

Bill cutting out the window

 

 

 

In the afternoon the rubber seal arrived they had been waiting for and the installation of the van windows began. Bill started with the new reciprocating saw they had bought.  I could hear the noise from inside the house as Bill made a huge hole in the side of the van. James did the fileing and clipped on the rubber seal.

Working on the van

Working on the van

Cutting the other side

Cutting the other side

 

With Bill giving him the confidence he cut the other side himself.  It was quite brave of both of them cutting 2 big holes in the side of the van. Once the rubber edging was clipped in place on both sides it was left for the day.

I had my hair cut and Hailey arrived in the evening.

 

 

The windows in place.

The windows in place.

 

 

In the morning Hailey and I went to the garden centre for coffee while Bill and James put the windows in.  It was a two man job with one on the inside and one on the outside.  They looked really good when they were finished but I forgot to take a final photo.

Watching the seals

Watching the seals

 

 

 

 

In the afternoon we all went for a drive and saw these seals playing on the beach.

 

 

James and Hailey

James and Hailey

Findochty harbour

Findochty harbour

 

We continued onto Findochty to see the little harbour there. When we get back to the UK hopefully we’ll sail up to Scotland so it was good to look around first. The sea was really calm on that day. I wonder how often it’s like that. It was beautiful scenery.

Bill looking across the inside of the harbour.

 

 

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Cullen

Cullen

 

Further along the road we stopped at Cullen which had another small harbour but we wouldn’t have been able to get Camomile in there. The town was overlooked by this beautiful old railway viaduct.

All the little towns were very pretty.

 

 

 

Bow Fiddle rock

Bow Fiddle rock

Bow fiddle rock

Bow fiddle rock

 

 

The last place we stopped was Bow Fiddle rock. An amazing piece of sedimentary rock that had had a hole worn through it over millions of years. A very beautiful rock. We climbed down to get a closer look. It was covered in seabirds.

 

Gordon Arms hotel

Gordon Arms hotel

 

 

 

On the sunday we enjoyed another drive across to Lossiemouth that had a small marina that would be good for us but I left my camera behind.  For Sunday lunch we went to the Gordon Arms hotel for their delicious carvery.

 

James, Hailey, Bill and Nichola her mum.

James, Hailey, Bill and Nichola her mum.

 

 

Monday 4th July we packed our bags and left James’s house but the four of us continued together and drove for about 3 hours south to Broughty ferry near Dundee where Hailey lives. Hailey’s parents own a beautifully restored old mill. We were made very welcome and enjoyed a lovely dinner with all the family. It felt warmer now we were further south.

 

Broughty ferry castle

Broughty ferry castle

On Tuesday we went to explore the beautiful Broughty ferry castle built on the northern shore of the River Tay.  This 15th century coastal fort has faced many battles and sieges, and was rebuilt in the 19th century as part of the River Tay’s coastal defence system.

James and Hailey being big kids. Haha

James and Hailey being big kids. Haha

 

 

 

 

The new bridge

The new bridge

 

 

 

 

In the afternoon we continued further south to Edinburgh passing the new bridge being built over the Forth river.

 

 

The Grassmarket area

Victoria street

 

 

 

Wednesday 6th was Bill’s birthday. We had stayed the night in an AirB&B (we stayed in someone’s apartment) and James and Hailey had cooked Bill a wonderful steak dinner.  In the morning we all had eggy bread and bacon before exploring the city.  Edinburgh is a beautiful city.   In the centre all the old buildings have been wonderfully preserved.

 

The walls of Edinburgh castle

The walls of Edinburgh castle

This amazing structure has been erected up over the outer walls of Edinburgh castle for the military tattoo that would be taking place the following week. Once the festivities are over the whole thing is taken back down again.

We’ve been into the castle before so this time we went into St Giles cathedral.   There’s so much history in Edinburgh, it’s a wonderful place.

 

St Giles cathedral

St Giles cathedral

Bill in the VR headset

Bill in the VR headset

We walked down the hill into the shopping area to look around the shops.  James decided Bill needed to try a virtual reality headset.  To demonstrate it’s use it was showing some off piste skiing and a roller coaster.

All too soon it was time to drive to Edinburgh airport and say goodbye to James and Hailey.  We had enjoyed our holiday within our holiday.

We arrived at Gatwick and Thomas picked us up.  Most of Bill’s birthday was gone but the next day Thomas cooked him a delicious egg and bacon birthday breakfast.  I spent the day packing our bags which wasn’t easy with all the bits we had bought for the boat and ourselves but eventually it all fitted.  Bill spent one last day with Thomas in the unit. Thomas cooked our final meal which was a delicious roast pork dinner with crackling that melted in your mouth and scrummy roast potatoes. Sonal’s mum Meena joined us and we gave her a beautiful orchid for letting us stay with her (she lives 6 doors away from Thomas).

On Friday morning with a heavy heart it was time to say goodbye to Sonal, Meena and little Slinky. Thomas drove us to Heathrow after cooking us another wonderful breakfast.

We had so enjoyed the quality time we had spent with both the boys and Sonal and Hailey.

Thank you to everyone who we stayed with and apologies for those we didn’t get to see this time.

Islands of the Seychelles

Islands of the Seychelles

 

As we came into land at Mahe in the Seychelles I could see the islands from the window.

Our journey home continues.

 

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Posted on July 8, 2016, in Port posts, Redgrove, Thomas Cookie co, travel and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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