So here it is, merry Christmas, everybody’s having fun...... Well at least it’s getting colder; we never could get used to hot Christmases, nor hot North winds! With our first snow shower of the winter, we’re looking forward to big log fires, red-breasted robins and carols in the snow (poor Carol!).
After some ten months back in Blighty I suppose it’s time to look back and take stock. Our memories of Oz are beginning to fade and we’re very slowly and painfully getting acclimatised to life in England, but all of us keep wanting to go home to Australia! - we’ve had a pleasant holiday in Europe but can’t we go back now it’s cold, please! Peter is probably the best adjusted, his Oz schooling seems to have prepared him pretty well to fit back into his school, both academically and socially. Christine greatly misses her Australian ladies social circle; we all, of course, miss the lifestyle and in particular the easygoing friendliness of everyone we contacted, from doctor to dustman, or should I say ‘garbo’?
But it’s not all bad; we’re starting to take pleasure in things like autumn leaf colours, cold frosty mornings and snow showers to justify the 4WD, so there’s hope for us yet! With our new caravan we spent a whole month in our beloved France in July/August, taking a lazy tour of the Auvergne, the High Cévennes with the Ardèche Gorges, Hérault to dip a toe in the Mediterranean, then back home via the Tarn, Lot and Dordogne. On our return we had several pleasant weekends away with the ‘van, then joined the Elddis owner’s caravan club; we’ve now been on two autumn/winter rallies, one near Huntingdon and the other in the village of Ashwell in Hertfordshire, both of which have been very enjoyable; fortunately the ‘van has an efficient little heater so winter is no bar to travelling. It gets Ian away from decorating and repairing the depredations of over five years of foreign occupation. So far he’s completed the kitchen, laundry, morning room, hall and stairs. Next - the lounge! In the meantime, as a recreational job the poor neglected Bonneville bike has been resurrected, so Ian can go “Triumph.. umph... umph.. ing” about the Essex lanes! “Hell’s Grandad” rides again!
We’re looking forward to a short break in a French country hotel just north of Rouen over Christmas, from Christmas Eve to the 28th December. We’ve already made a similar trip, before our deportation to Oz, to Montreuil in Picardy, finding the more spiritual approach of the French to Christmas a refreshing change from the materialism of the English shopping malls (but with superb food and wine as well, so things didn’t get too ethereal!).