I flew back from the funeral via Manchester on Sunday night after a week full of 360° weather changes and very mixed emotions. Sadness, of course, for the loss of my brother, but full of laughter - as usually happens on these occasions when we allow ourselves to remember the silly things too. The funeral was nicely done and the celebrant spoke well, I thought. Turns out he knew my mom's family from when he was a child and he managed to bring quite a personal touch to it. After the funeral I actually commented to Phil's oldest son, Darren, that it was a shame we now only seemed to meet up at funerals since, for a large family, we (mostly) get along very well so did anyone have any thoughts on meeting up occasionally somewhere "neutral" - to which Darren replied "but who would we have to shoot"? He has my brother's sense of humour and just cracks me up!
We set off from Dorset on the Thursday morning before the funeral as on a "good" day it would be a 6-7 hour journey and on a "usual" day it could take any number of hours! For that reason, my brother-in-law decided to take the back roads as the last time he had driven up to North Wales on the motorway the traffic jams were horrendous. And honestly, it was a real pleasure to take that route and visit (or re-visit) places I hadn't seen in decades. On the way up we went through a lovely town called Bradford-on-Avon in Wiltshire - it was so, so pretty it would be hard to do it justice. It was also near here that we stopped to eat in an unassuming little place that ended up doing the most amazing food! Homemade venison or chicken pies, fabulous cakes, sticky toffee puddings, you name it!! It really was superb, although after last week I don't think I'll even set foot on a set of scales for at least a month!
Near Ledbury we passed a lovely looking pub that I had never seen before. Ledbury is only a few miles from where BIL grew up so he and my sister spent quite some time reminiscing about the different places they had been when dating/first married.
My youngest son and his fiancée were able to get a couple of days off in order to come to the funeral so afterwards, having shown them around Conwy and Llandudno, I thought they might enjoy "UK prices" and took them to that young person's shopping paradise - Primark! Well that was a hit! Basically Jordan followed Jen around like a sherpa carrying a shopping basket, with her going "oh my goodness look at these prices! How much is that in real money?" and so on. After her shopping spree it was Jordan's turn and we went upstairs to the men's department where he got to satisfy his urge to shout "oh my goodness …"! Anyway, they were both really happy with their purchases and, since they made sure not to bring too much stuff with them, we were able to get all their goodies back without having to pay any excess baggage! Which did trigger an interesting question (provoked by me, I have to admit) about whether they would be able to have such a "spend up" if a no deal Brexit meant import duties were re-imposed on goods coming into France from the UK! Which also gave way to a more interesting discussion with my family when we saw a similar sign to the one below on a door in Conwy!
On our final day in Wales we decided to visit Portmeirion since none of us had ever been there before and I/we were very pleasantly surprised. It was so pretty and the china in the gift shop was to die for! Expensive and fabulous so unfortunately I couldn't indulge but I was drooling, I have to admit!
I had forewarned my sister that on the way back I wanted to take the kids for a drive up through Betws-y-Coed so wouldn't be following them back to Llandudno via the normal route (through Llanrwst - where my grandfather used to have a cobbler's shop). Well! By the time we got there it was dark and starting to snow and as we were leaving Betws I was having a hard time seeing where I was going as there were no lights, no cats' eyes and walkers heading up the road in the dark, presumably to the Snowdonia hostel further up, It was really hard work, bearing in mind I was on the "wrong side of the road" too! At one point I had had to chose between going straight on (unsignposted) or taking a left turn but going that way would take me over Llanberis Pass, in the dark, in the snow, on the wrong side of the road and still not sure I was going the right way! Turns out I was right, but by golly that was hard work, although listening to Jen trying to pronounce Welsh names from the GPS on her telephone was hilarious!
When I got back to France I ended up coming down with the lurgy, which could have been due to stress in addition to the cold and howling wind that we had to put up with in Wales, but I have to say we were actually pretty lucky for the most part in that when the weather was doing its worst we were mainly in the car and actually managed to avoid the worst it could throw at us. Not completely, of course, or else I wouldn't have got sick but ….. Either way I'm starting to feel better already after a few lazy days and am already thinking it's time to get back to the old exercise malarky to compensate for the surfeit of calories I managed to cram into my poor body last week!
And finally, when I got home I realized that the bloody handle on my (relatively) new suitcase had come right off, either in Manchester or in Geneva upon arrival, so somewhere or other there is a suitcase handle with my name and phone number attached to it squeaking forlornly around a baggage carousel, somewhat like Rhod Gilbert describes below!