Family and friends

On Friday the 9th Mark came to our hotel and we had breakfast together. I had a hearty meal knowing that we would not stop on our road trip back to London. Together we went to Denton Hall Turret.

This is part of Hadrian’s Wall and something I really wanted to see part of. As it was snowing we decided to go for a warming drink. We also needed to shop for some padkos and went to Morrisons. After we did our shopping we sat down in the café and had hot chocolate (£5.25). We dropped Mark off at home and left Newcastle at 10h30, driving past the Angel of the North. We had one pit stop at a Sainsbury’s for espressi (£3) and arrived in London at 15h45. We checked into our B&B and relaxed before changing for Shul. The service was quite different to the last Friday night service I went to. After that we went for a family meal at Jon’s parents. They had put on quite a spread and there were 23 of us there for dinner.

On Saturday morning I went to Shul and Dave went into London. He wanted to know more about his train and I could see no reason for him to sit through the morning Service. Joshua did fantastically well in reading his Torah portion. After his Bar Mitzvah service we had snacks at the Shul and then I went back to Talya for lunch. Dave fetched me and we relaxed before heading over to Bushey to see Adam, Cara, Noa and Jude. From there it was off to Joshua’s party. We were treated to an amazing evening of good food and wine, and fantatic company. How blessed Dave and I were to be a part of this simcha.

Sunday morning we popped in at Talya and Jon at 9h30. We had wanted to go shopping before leaving London but the shops only open at 11am on a Sunday! At 10h40 we made our way to Anne and Stuart. They put on a delicious feast for us. Roast lamb with all the trimmings and a crumble for dessert. We spent the entire afternoon talking and catching up and I got to spend more time with my Aunt. It is special to see Evie, my mom’s sister. We left for Heathrow at 16h30. For some reason the petrol gauge was on its own mission. We had put in £10 (7.94L) in the morning and when we left Abingdon the readout said we had 55 miles left in the tank. This was the exact distance to Europcar so Dave did not want to risk running out of fuel. We put in £6.01 (4.63L) and the readout went down to 35 miles! So, we stopped again and put in another £5 (3.29L) and the readout did not budge. Dave had a pitstop and when he got back into the car and restarted it the readout jumped from empty to 175 miles left in the tank! We wanted to give the car back as empty as possible as we pay for the full tank option where Europcar are responsible for putting in fuel. We arrived at their depot at 18h05 and caught the bus to terminal 2. There was no-one at the Premium check-in so that went smoothly. My LAGS were checked at security by the friendliest security official we have come across while travelling. After that we headed for the lounge and got sorted out before going to taste and buy some whisky. We then went back to the lounge and relaxed before our flight. This was the fourth flight in a row where our inflight entertainment system was not working. As we had paid for exit row seats we chose not to move but that of course did not leave Dave with anything to watch while I slept.

I managed 3 hours and 40 minutes of sleep which left me feeling exhausted when we landed. We breezed through passport control, collected and dropped off our luggage and went straight to the lounge. Dave started with breakfast and I went for a shower. Feeling clean and refreshed I sat down to catch up on emails. By the time we got into Cape Town at 15h00 I was ready for bed! We still had to come in to work, unpack and eat dinner. And by evening I was feeling sick. Which is why I have been remiss in writing about the last few days. We had an amazing holiday!


Getting to Brockwood Hall

Passport control was easy enough with a few questions repeated just to make sure we are actually leaving. We didn’t have to wait too long for our suitcases and as soon as they were collected we went to the premium lounge. There we had a shower and a second breakfast and checked emails. When we got to Europcar they gave Dave an upgrade which is fantastic. We have a Volvo V40 with seat warmers. Those will come in handy tomorrow when it snows. We were on the road by 9am and stopped an hour later for espressi at Costa (£4.38). We’ve travelled this part of the route before when we came back from Wales. The area around Stafford is very pretty and there is no sign of winter in the countryside. Two hours later we had another espresso break at Starbucks (£3.90). We crossed the Manchester Ship Canal which is narrow when compared to the Amstel! We drove on the motorway towards Morecambe and the traffic was hectic. We got off the main road and went into Morecambe where our first stop was Edmondsons for potted shrimp, Manx kipper, smoked mackerel and when whelks.

He recommended Atkinsons for fish and chips but they were closed. We got pork pies for lunch from Alan John Baker who is the local butcher. We also bought pork and leek sausages and English black pudding, both made on site. He also makes boerewors for a local customer! We drove along the beach front and as we turned off for Carnforth we saw snow on the distant hills. We did a big shop at Tesco and while driving to Brockwood Hall we saw a road gritter at work getting ready for the expected snow fall tomorrow morning. The high today was 10degC so not too bad. By 16h00 we were driving into the setting sun and at 16:45 we were sitting in Brockwood Hall with our complimentary drinks.

After completing the paperwork we drove to our lodge and unpacked. Dave started preparing supper and was ready to finish off at 18:30. Being far too early to eat even though at home we are two hours ahead, we pushed dinner till 19:00. We watched quiz shows till 21:00 and then went off to bed to read books.

Leaving for the UK

Our morning started fairly normally. Dave loaded the van with our very heavy bags while I got myself sorted out. However, he left his laptop at home so his work day did not start as planned. I chipped my tooth on Tuesday while flossing so the first thing I did after sorting out work was go to the dentist. An hour later my tooth was repaired, my teeth were cleaned and I went back to the office. Albeit with my left side of my face and tongue completely numb. Thankfully by the time we left for the airport all the feeling was back and there was no pain. We checked our luggage straight through to Heathrow and went to the lounge where I had something to eat. All I had eaten in the morning was one samosa. Our flight to Johannesburg left late but that was not a problem for us. We ambled through to international departures, stopping along the way to buy readers for Dave and lens cleaner for me.

We had an easy time getting through passport control. The gentleman from the department of home affairs right in front of us decided to let us through his gate, skipping half the queue. We stopped for a whisky taster before heading up to the lounge. After espressi I went for a massage. Not as good as last time but at least my neck clicked. I came back to the lounge and had a snack. There is a machine that makes pancakes so I had a few of those while getting a video of it working.

Boarding went smoothly and we have a friendly cabin crew member in the jump seat opposite us. We are in the emergency exit row which is super comfortable.

Supper choices were beef and white rice and hake and yellow rice. We had one each, and I had the fish. We both battled to fall asleep. I will ask for extra blankets on the return flight but at least the arrival temperature won’t be too much of a shock.

I eventually fell asleep at about 1am South African time and woke up a few times during the night. The lights were turned on at 6:45 SA time (4:45 UK time). We had omelettes for breakfast which were not too bad. The fruit was really good and by the time we were done we were flying over Paris.

After a serious cup of ‘fake’ coffee we completed our landing cards. As our entertainment screens were not working for the third flight in a row Mark gave me an email address to send a complaint to. Wonder what response if any I will get. We arrived in Heathrow airspace at 6am and got stacked up waiting to land.