We’re back home in dear old England, it’s about 10⁰C with a chilly wind and overcast skies with ‘April showers’, but the daffodils are out, the tree blossom is starting to grow, some of the trees are starting to sprout their new green leaves and Spring is definitely in the air! It’s nice to visit far off places, but it’s even nicer to come back home. The familiar British accent, the rolling green hills of the English countryside, village pubs, local shops… It’s like putting on a comfortable pair of slippers and putting your feet up in front of a roaring fire with a cup of tea and a slice of cake – it’s home!
|Our UK journey so far. Heathrow near London in bottom right hand corner, Birmingham top centre, then Solihull, Alvechurch and, middle left, our home for a month, Redmarley D'Abitot|
|Jackie cuddles Rory, our great nephew|
The journey was pretty much as we expected, uneventful with lots of waiting around in airports and bus stations. We left the hotel in Melaka at 11:45am on March 31st and got met by my sister and brother-in-law Denise and Paul at Birmingham Airport at 13:30 on April 1st which, with the 7 hour time loss through going west 6500 miles through 7 time zones, made it 32 hours 45 minutes of travel time, of which we were moving for about 21 hours and waiting around for about 12. Managed about 5 hours of sleep on the 14 hour Vietnam Airways flight from Saigon to Heathrow which is not bad in economy class seats, but we did have a block of 3 seats between 2 of us so we could kind of stretch out by lying across one another a bit, but it’s still not that comfortable. Met a guy while we were waiting in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh) airport that we’d last chatted to 2 months earlier in a bar in 4000 Islands in Laos, since then we travelled South through Cambodia and Sumatra and he went north to Japan and South Korea, but we ended upon the same flight home – it’s a small world!
|3 of Judith and Richards 4 dogs stretch out before their journey to Southern France|
|Jackie with Ginger on her lap. No pictures of Gingers brother Fred yet|
Great to catch up with Denise and Paul back at their house in Solihull, lunch, cups of tea, showers, clean clothes that we haven’t seen for 8 months, drinking water straight from the taps (what a novelty!), collected the bag of luggage we sent back from the USA that D&P collected from Andantex in Coventry for us (thank you both!). Then we were all off to Denise and Paul’s daughter and son-in-law (and my niece) Steph and Sam to meet their 8 day old son Rory and to see their new house in Dickens Heath and meet their cat Twinks. How things can change in 8 months! Rory is a lovely little lad and Steph and Sam are doting and very capable parents, he’s a lucky boy to have such a great start in life! Twinks was keeping well out of the way, occupying a whole double bed in one of the four bedrooms.
|Judith and Richards upstairs conservatory|
Got our car back after Steph and Sam had kindly looked after it while we were away and how weird to be able to drive again! We normally take driving for granted, but after 5 months in SE Asia of having to catch busses or walk everywhere it’s great just to be able to get in the car and drive where we want.
|And the views through the conservatory windows!|
Our next stop was at Pauline’s (Jackie’s mum) house to sort our clothes and all our stuff stored in her loft, have a great home cooked dinner, sausages, mashed potatoes, cauliflower cheese with onion gravy, followed by apple and blackberry crumble and custard, washed down with a bottle of red wine. I’m in heaven – thank you Pauline! We fought the tiredness, went to bed at 10:00pm and slept right through to 06:30 the next day, hardly feeling the ‘jet-lag’ of 7 hour out-of-synch body clock.
|Here's Molly cat|
After finishing sorting out, Jackie visiting the dentist for a check-up, repacking the car and lunch with Pauline we were off to Redmarley D’Abitot near Ledbury in Gloucestershire to meet Judith and Richard, their 5 cats and 4 dogs for the first of our 6 UK summer housesitting assignments.
Judith and Richard are a retired couple living in a fabulous ‘upside down’ house overlooking rolling English countryside with expansive views from their upstairs conservatory. They have a house in southern France and wanted to visit it for a month, right through April with 3 of their 4 dogs, with a view to selling it to an American couple and needed someone to look after their house and the 5 cats while they are away.
|Here's Lottie waving 'hello'|
They contacted us through the housesitting website we are members of and that became the major decision point for our return to the UK. Jackie had had a video call with Judith while we were in Cambodia and they have exchanged emails on a number of occasions, so it already felt as though we knew them. That simply carried on when we arrived and we all talked virtually non-stop and got on so well that we think we’ve found some new really nice friends. Judith cooked a fabulous leg of lamb with all the trimmings and a great dessert all washed down with a bottle of red wine, while sitting in their conservatory watching the last light of day (and the rain) disappear over the green fields and hills of Gloucestershire.
|The part of travelling that teddy doesn't like!|
This morning they were off into the Easter holiday traffic to drive to France, leaving us in this huge house and 5 great cats in the historic village of Redmarley D’Abitot for a month. There’s great rock climbing nearby, great walks over the Malvern Hills, scenic Symonds Yat and Ross on Wye nearby and numerous country walks, we couldn’t ask for anything better, we are SO looking forward to it. Jackie’s dozing on the sofa at the moment with fluffy ‘Charlie’ cat comfortable on her lap, Ginger asleep on a nearby chair and Molly also dozing nearby, so we’re happy and comfortable and looking forward to our English summer!
|A very fluffy Charlie cat|
|And here she is very comfortable on Jackies lap!|