Well here we are some 34,000 feet above the Atlantic on our way back to Trinidad. It is surreal to think that this trip, that is due to take just over 9 hours, took us 13 months to complete in Island Kea.

We have had an action packed 5 weeks in the UK, and have traveled the length of the country catching up with family and friends and of course achieving the real purpose of the journey; laying Marcus’ father to rest next to his Mum in Blackfield Cemetery. The cemetery is over the cattle grid and right on the edge of the New Forest and their grave is in a beautiful sunlit corner of the cemetary. May they both rest in peace, forever together.

Once we had overcome the jet lag of travelling from west to east, we enjoyed a couple of days staying in Edenbridge with Paul and Tracy and caught up with old friends in The Bridge. We took a trip down in Brighton on bank holiday Monday and visited with Dawn and Ian, who travelled with us through the Caledonian Canal. It was good to catch up and, as with all good friends, we picked up from where we left off………as if we’d never been away.

John’s cremation was held down in Southampton and despite the sad occasion, it was good to see Dan and all the rest of the family. It really brings into focus the the important things in life and top of the list is family.

From the south coast we set off to Essex to see my marvellous 95 year young Mum, my sister Libby over from Ireland and my niece, Jess, who was visiting from Berlin. Quite a gathering of the clans!

This is where I grew up!

This is where I grew up!

While we were in Dunmow, we managed to meet up for dinner with Margaret Pratt . It was good to see her again and remember the good times we had together with Magnus and Sara on Mai Mai, Kate and Mike on Right Turn and of course Margaret and the much loved and missed Roger. We all travelled through Spain and Portugal together and thought we would always be able to meet ‘PLU’s, as Kate puts it ………People Like Us. We didn’t realise at the time how unique our little flotilla was.

On the Tuesday, we took my Mum to lunch with the ‘Essex Haywards’ in Thaxted.

Mike, Marcus, mummy and Tracy outside the restaurant.

Mike, Marcus, Mummy and Tracy outside the restaurant.

Essex gets a really bad press. When you see a place as quintisentially English as this, you have to admit that we live in a beautiful country.

Thaxted's guildhall and church. Picturesque Essex!

Thaxted’s guildhall and church. Picturesque Essex!

From Dunmow, we made our way north to spend the weekend with Tash, Chris and the grandchildren, Charlie and Freya.

Preparing for treasure hunting on the beach.

Preparing for treasure hunting on the beach.

A stroll along the harbour wall.

A stroll along the harbour wall.

As always, they made us very welcome and we spent a great Sunday afternoon strolling down memory lane in Aberdour……

Aberdour harbour.

Aberdour harbour.

a village directly opposite across the Firth of Forth from where they live near Leith. 24 years ago we took all four children up to Scotland for a summer holiday and stayed in Aberdour…….Happy memories.

I see no ships!

I see no ships!

Aberdour beach.

Aberdour beach.

Charlie and Freya. The Shell Seekers.

Charlie and Freya. The Shell Seekers.

Moving south again we called in on Marcus’ indomitable Aunty Peggy in Skipton.

The canal that runs through the centre of Skipton.

The canal that runs through the centre of Skipton.

Aunty Peggy and nephew. Lovely to see her again.

Aunty Peggy and nephew. Lovely to see her again.

We stayed a couple of nights with her, reminiscing and ended up visiting the shop where Marcus’ maternal grandfather, ‘Gentleman John’ had worked as a taylor.

The Taylor's shop......now Tattoo Parlour.

The Taylor’s shop……now Tattoo Parlour.

He apparently used to sit cross legged in the window whilst sewing. I don’t think the present encumbants could ply their trade in the window!

Back down to Dunmow and another visit with Mummy. She suggested a day trip to Southend, so off we went on a drizzly morning, only to find ourselves, a couple of hours later, at the end of South End pier

South End Pier. 1 mile out into the Thames estuary

South End Pier. 1 mile out into the Thames estuary

in brilliant sunshine.

At the end of the pier.

At the end of the pier.

We decided to take the train for the mile long journey, although Mummy felt like she could have walked it……….at least one way!

All aboard on the train.

All aboard on the train.

One of the Russian Tall Ships, that had travelled down from Greenwich Tall Ships Festival, had moored up at the end of the pier, so we spent a ‘sunny while’ looking over it.

The Russian Tall Ship.

The Russian Tall Ship.

After our ‘holiday’ it was back to work. There is so much to do as executor to a will, what with all the form filling, letter writing and applying for probate. Our time was taken up with journeys to the probate office in Winchester, trying to speed up the process by delivering forms and picking up documents in person, in order to circumvent the second class ‘snail mail’.
During this time we managed to catch up with friends in the Edenbridge area

Dinner chez Wilson's.

Dinner chez Wilson’s.

Lunch at the Persiva's.

Lunch at the Persiva’s.

The Boys together again!

The Boys together again!

……..and then spent a couple more nights with Russell and Vicky in Blackfield and a couple with Nigel and Bridget up in Farnborough. It was great for us to have time to catch up and for the brothers to remember their Dad.

On the 22nd was the internment of Dad’s ashes. As I said at the top, he was laid next to Moira and we all felt that he was where he really wanted to be; at her side.

Together forever.

Together forever.

We had a meal at one of the restaurants where Moira and John had celebrated various occasions over the years and all four brothers were able to share their memories of their childhood and the role John and Moira had had in shaping them as men…….. Another very special occasion.

With only a few days left, we set off back up to Edenbridge to clear the flat above the hairdressers of all Jenni’s and our stuff. Four carloads later and with the help of the young muscles of James Byron, we had deposited all Jenni’s worldly goods at the wonderful Gilbert’s barn and cleared the remainder of our stuff to the Hop store, where we stacked it high!
The reason for the emptying of the flat is that we have decided to put it on the market……..a small matter that I have not mentioned to date!!! Needless to say, Marcus has been extremely busy in that direction too. So whilst we’ve been back in Blighty, it really has felt like we’ve been keeping a lot of plates spinning in a whirlwind!

One more quick trip up to Dunmow with the car loaded with bags of rubbish for the tip, my cello to be delivered to my old school and my nephew Mahoro to be delivered to my Mum’s! I stayed overnight and once again came out winner at Scrabble! ……… It was the strangely apt seven letter word DELIVER that got me the 50 point bonus that swung it!

And so back to Edenbridge by public transport. Why is it that the British government is less enlightened than in Brazil?? How can we be encouraged to take the train instead of the car, when a trip that takes 50 minutes and costs £10 in fuel, turns into a two and a half hour marathon and costs three and a half times as much??!!
End of rant……the car is now safely delivered to Dunmow, where my sisters and Jenni will be able to use it to make things easier and more enriching for my Mum.
By the way…….any of you reading this who are thinking about putting another named driver on your insurance, BEWARE, you have to know the exact date they passed their test and all their driving details. They no longer take your word for it. Next they’ll be after their blood group and religion!!

It has been lovely to see everyone, but now we are looking forward to getting back to ‘our normality’ and taking a day or two off, before we start anti fouling and polishing the boat, ready to get it back in the water and continue our travels.