We always knew we would need to go back to the UK for a couple of weeks at the beginning of November for Jo’s daughter’s wedding but were not prepared for the many obstacles that presented themselves during the two weeks.
We have always found it easier to do the overnight ferry when travelling between the UK and France but Storm Ciaran arrived the day before we were due to travel and our ferry was cancelled. Knowing that delaying our trip was not possible we booked The Shuttle and prepared to leave a few hours earlier. Then that evening our dog sitter had issues with his car so emergency action was taken, with the help of a few friends and we left Maisie in the safe hands of two Workaway girls.
Our trip was carefully planned with various nights at various locations to ensure that we made the most of it and caught up with everyone we wanted to see. Our first night, instead of being on the ferry crossing a rough sea was in a comfy bed at Jo’s mums in Kent, obviously with a quick stop at the pub on the way. From there we tackled the M25 and M40 up to Leamington Spa and enjoyed a night with Nigel’s son, Paul in his new house before heading to the Cotswolds to get wedding ready.
And what a wonderful wedding day it was with everyone looking fantastic and the 25 children under 10 behaving impeccably and dodging the silver service waiters and leading the dancing in the evening. We wish Sophie and Matt every happiness and can’t wait for them to come and visit us in March 2024. Matt is a very keen carp angler and Sophie tolerates his bucket obsession beautifully!
Recovering from intense hangovers on Sunday morning we made our way up to Liverpool where Jo’s other two daughters live. Emma has just moved into her first house and needed a few jobs doing. Jo also had a tour of Give Me Cosmetics where Isobel works as a content creator (when she is not helping us!). The garden was very overgrown so Jo made a start on that and Nigel had the task of putting new lights and curtain poles up. We were well looked after though and Eadie made up for missing Maisie (who seemed to be enjoying a new life of luxury).
From Liverpool we headed back towards the south with an overnight stay at Weston Hall near Uttoxeter to see Nigel’s brother and his family and have a lovely meal out with them. Then back to Irthlingborough to spend a couple of days where we used to live, a few drinks in the pub and another couple of meals out with old friends. We also managed to squeeze in a teatime visit to Nigel’s daughter, Janine and the grandchildren, Scarlett (who loves a selfie) and Mason.
By Saturday morning we were shattered and full of cold (who knows where we had picked that up from) but headed a few miles further north in Northamptonshire to spend the weekend with Jo’s three sisters and a couple of cousins before starting the journey back home on Monday. More good food and lots of wine and beer!
Monday arrived and we repacked the car and made sure that all of the things we had bought with us had been distributed accordingly and loaded the new crayfish traps and now serviced and repaired bait boat into the back of the car. One more stop in Oxfordshire to say goodbye to Sophie and the newest member of the family, Dotty and we would be on our way.
We left Witney in plenty of time to get to Portsmouth for our overnight ferry so stopped on the A34 for a quick coffee. When we got back to the car a lorry was blocking us in, there was a man with a bleeding arm and another man trying to explain what had happened. It took us a few minutes to take it all in and why the rear window was smashed in on the car. A MOD lorry with a trailer with a boat on the back had overshot the truck stop and tried to do a 3 point turn. The driver’s mate had been directing him and was stood against our car when the trailer squashed him against the boot. If it had not been for the witness who knows how bad his injuries would have been but luckily he escaped with a cut arm and a few bruises.
After 3 hours at the services with the traffic cops carrying out their measurements and the MOD bosses visiting to check their staff were ok we patched up the rear window with a McDonalds rubbish bag and some gaffer tape and we were on our way. We didn’t make the overnight ferry but did get to the bar next to the hotel just in time for last orders so all was not lost and we really appreciated the drink! Our ferry was rebooked for the morning and we got a good night sleep minutes away from the port.
Our ferry crossing back was just about plain sailing with a bit of a rough patch mid Channel and the drive down from Caen a breeze – French roads are just so much easier than those in the UK. We got back home at about 6pm with a very excited puppy leaping out of the door to see us.
Autumn had definitely arrived in south west France and there were leaves everywhere. It had rained solidly for the 2 weeks we were away and the lakes were so full they had overflowed. We had heard from other lake owners of the difficult time they were having with water so we had come home prepared. Kingfisher was inaccessible and there were several trees down, one blocking the path around Lac Lucie. Nothing we hadn’t dealt with before though and within a few days we (Nigel) had got the water levels back under control ready for the construction team to come and start the work, hopefully.