Home for Christmas

4 Jan

Thanks to BA, the British weather and the UK inability to cope with the slightest bit of snow,our homecoming was an extended affair. Rather than arriving in our rented accommodation on Friday night we finally touched down on Sunday afternoon, just in time to greet the NE half of the family arriving for Birthday celebrations for Jennie, our youngest daughter. Whatever, it was great to have the family for tea, we all chipped in and soon were enjoying the treat. The grandchildren played together quite beautifully Robert and I delighting in seeing how they had grown up in the time we had been away.

On the 22nd we travelled to Nuneaton to stay overnight with Mum and Dad Hill before another day on the road to Plymouth and the home of our eldest daughter Elizabeth her husband Alistair and our youngest granddaughter Melissa to enjoy the Christmas holiday at their home. Snow was still causing problems around the country and as we arrived a hail storm left a festive white carpet on the local roads and footpaths

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Christmas day was spent educating Melissa in the art of ripping paper off parcels and introducing her to the family Christmas traditions, including some new foods like Brussels Sprouts (she wrinkled her nose and refused). She rewarded us all by taking her first few independent steps marking another P1100524milestone in her young life. Again a joint effort on the kitchen front produced a meal for us all to enjoy, Alistair excelled with his Yorkshire pudding (being Yorkshire born and bred he should!) and Elizabeth cooked up some great roast potatoes!    

By Boxing Day we needed some exercise, a walk on the Hoe was prescribed and we popped Melissa in her car seat and headed for the sea. As soon as weP1100580 stepped foot out of the car the heavens opened, a plastic bubble on the push chair kept Melissa nice and cosy the adults however were cold and wet.  Somehow whenever we visit Plymouth the weather takes a turn for the worst. Our travels in the US have sharpened our senses to historical connections between our two countries and on the Barbican we found several plaques commemorating those linksP1100575, probably the most famous was the sailing of the Mayflower, however the first transatlantic flight and sailings to the colonies also received recognition.

All too soon it was time for us to make the return journey to Nuneaton and we sadly said our goodbyes to this section of the family for the time being.

The traffic north was heavy, the journey should have taken around 3 and a half hours but actually took around 5and half hours. Once again refreshed at our half way home in Nuneaton and having collected Mum and Dad Hill, Monday found us on the road again heading north.

P1000307We had arranged to rent a property in the small Northumbrian village of Corbridge for the new Year, we were surprised to find quite a covering of snow  there on our arrival.  After our hectic two days of driving a potter around the village on Tuesday and a fairly relaxed day were most enjoyable. Some retail therapy at Royal Quays on Wednesday, bargain hunting in the post Christmas sales and a visit from Christopher and Kai in the afternoon soon found us waking on New Years Eve. Jennie popped over for a visit and we discussed the P1100593forecast for snow which by tea time had begun to fall and settle.We had planned a family gathering on New Years Day for a second Christmas and exchanging of gifts but soon realised this may not be possible, overnight a thick blanket of snow had turned the stone buildings of the village into a Dickensian picture card.  Robert and I enjoyed a walk in the snowy streets, what a change from Arizona and the desert sunshine we had been basking in just over a week ago!P1000308

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Corbridge Village Church and the river bridge over the Tyne looking towards the hills south of the village

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The family had a very snowy journey on slippery roads but braved the conditions for our celebrations. Once again everyone contributing a little brought together a feast, the children opened Santa’s second bag P1000327of presents, not yet old enough to question why and how, we delighted in their pleasure.                                                                                     

                                                                 Kai and Ebony ‘reading ‘ behind the sofa!

More snow fell overnight fortunately the village of Corbridge has good amenities,  plenty of restaurants and pubs, lunch at the Black Bull left us with full tummies as we slithered on the slippery footpaths the short distance back to our little holiday homeP1000312. The temperature had risen slightly and the road had become quite slushy, we hoped by Sunday the roads would be suitable for us to get out in the car to visit the children in their own homes. A quick peek out of the window in the early hours revealed yet another snow fall, and it was still falling, by day break a further 3 to 4 inches had covered the previous days, now frozen, slush. We estimate overall we probably had around 9 inches of snow in the 3 days.

The countryside around Corbridge looked quite picturesque as we drove east towards Gateshead. The tree branches edged with an inch or more of white and the fir trees bowed low with the weight. Many people have been getting out to enjoy the ‘white stuff’, P1100634Christopher and Kai were on the nearby field with the sledge and building a snowman when we arrived. We do get this quantity of snow in the north east but it is unusual for it to linger so long, the first fall was on the 18th December with significant additional snowfalls since, it has thawed and frozen but we have never been without some snow for all that time. We have lived in this part of the country for 22 years now and cannot recall prolonged snow like this before.

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Freezing temperatures are forecast again for this evening and probably some more snow showers, tomorrow we hit the road again to take Mum and Dad home to Nuneaton. Presently there is little or no snow in that region, hopefully we won’t take it with us!

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