After our two nights in London we caught the express train to Peterborough – a 46 minute run and were collected from the station by Sue. We relaxed that evening with Davids family. The following morning we got up and headed into Peterborough city centre to catch up on some last minute shopping and presents – things we weren’t able to bring with us from Canada.
Walking into the shopping area from the parking took us past the Cathedral. Originally the site of a monastery since AD 655 Peterborough Cathedral was predominately built between 1118 and 1235 and is a beautiful example of Norman architecture and a rarity to have remained in such original condition after 900 years.
In the main city centre shopping area is the Town Hall.
The Guildhall constructed in the 1600’s and built on columns so that the open-air ground level could hold the butter and poultry market and remain shaded from the direct sunlight during the summer.
After a couple of days visiting in Peterborough we drove to Birmingham to visit Chris, a university friend of Davids. Sam, a mutual friend of theirs was also travelling down from Northumberland and meeting us in Birmingham. Having left Peterborough and no snow on the ground between Leicester and Birmingham there was snowfall and slick roads.
Chris was a great host, providing a tasty roast lamb dinner and here he makes custard for desert.
For the next few nights we stay with my parents who looked after us impeccably for our all-too-short stay.
We had intended to use some of the daytime of our visit to catch up with friends in Oxfordshire. However, the snowfall and poor condition of the roads in the county meant we were unable to make some of the lunchdates that were planned. Two of Davids ex-work colleagues lived nearby to my parents so we were still able to go and meet with them. We put on our brilliant Yaktrax as demonstrated by David here, and headed across Bure Park to meet them for lunch.
The following day there was still plenty of snow on the ground as temperatures never got above freezing. The snow here in Mum and Dads backgarden.
We decided to put the Yaktrax to good use once again and this time walk into Bicester Town Centre. We take a short detour on route and check out our old home where we lived before moving to Canada. Still looks much the same aside from a new front door.
Each day of our stay in Bicester the warmth of the house had melted a little of the snow in the gutters and on the roof, but the air temperature was still so low as it tried to drip off the gutters it was forming icicles. By the 22nd Dec the icicles on the guttering were huge.
While this plant was dealing with an icicle issue all of its own.
Bess patiently awaits the stick being thrown.
After a lovely few days at Mum and Dads with Karen & Andy we headed off early Christmas morning to re-join Davids family in Peterborough. At 9.30am the temperature was still only –11 degrees C.
We arrive at Sues and unload our luggage before crossing the road to Dennys house where they are hosting the Christmas festivities this year. Annabel, Davids niece is ready in front of the tree and a huge pile of presents, while wearing the antlers Mojo had donated to her.
Does Denny end up with the biggest pile of presents ?
Then it’s time for more present opening.
While Barbara tries to keep tabs of who gave Annabel what.
Annabel has a giant cracker to pull
Our hosts Denny and Jay
Annabel with the grandparents Barbara and Tony
The festive dinner was rounded off by Sue’s first ever home made Christmas pudding
Then it’s time for the Boxing Day dinner. Again a very traditional affair – cold meats, salad, mashed potatoes, pickles and chutneys.
All the presents and packaging means we need to squish down the recycling. This is a job better done sober. Or perhaps not.
After the meal we have some entertaining if not rather smoky indoor fireworks and then follow up with lighting a sky lantern in the garden. These sky lanterns seem to have appeared and taken off (excuse the pun) since we moved to Canada. Basically you light the wick underneath and then the heat from the flame lifts the lantern up and you can watch it get carried away into the nightsky.
Somehow we managed to successfully launch the sky lantern without igniting any of the neighbouring homes. Essentially living as we do in Canada in a huge forest I don’t think these sky lanterns will ever be a good idea in BC. However, they are a fun event for a more safe environment such as Cambridgeshire and they are certainly much less scary for neighbourhood dogs than traditional fireworks.
We return to the warm indoors and play with Annabel on some of her new gifts, including her ping-pong.
On the 27th December Sue held an ‘open-house’ – a great way to catch up with all the family friends while we were back visiting and before they all head back to work.
Rebecca is the sister of Craig (who we met up with in London). She is here with her baby daughter Emilia.
A short while later Finn, Georgia (David’s cousin) and Sandy arrive.
And then the house completely filled up with many more guests and we got lost talking and eating and didn’t take any more photos. At the end of the evening as the last of the guests depart, Denny, Annabel and David.
Flying out we had brought two suitcases. One for our clothes and one with presents (mostly presents for Annabel and many of them quite bulky such as that large coat she modelled). Once our presents were in this left us with about half an empty suitcase. Going home with a half-empty suitcase is just not acceptable so we visited Tescos and Sainsburys and two unorthodox shopping-cart-loads later………the second suitcase is full ! All the things we either can’t get or is really expensive at home – an eclectic mix of bouquet garni, soup mix, gravy granules and good chocolate.
Eventually 30th December arrived and it was time to head home. The two-and-a-bit weeks here seem to have passed in a flash. We had returned our rental car on 27th as Denny kindly offered to drive us to the airport.
This was our first time flying out of Heathrows new Terminal 5. We were impressed by how big, bright and airy it felt. The layout was good and signage excellent.
Once through security we await boarding our plane.
We had an excellent flight home, thanks to BA and a complimentary upgrade to Club World !
The day after our return we collected Mojo from the Dog Ranch who appeared to have also had a great time. He opens his presents from Mum and Dad and Karen & Andy.
We had a really lovely Christmas and to have spent time with family although this is always too short. Thanks in particular to Mum and Dad, Sue and Denny for their excellent hosting, wonderful meals and looking after us on our first Christmas back in Blighty !