17 May 2008

Sawatdee Ka & home again


We enjoyed a one-night stopover on the way home in a gorgeous brand new Novotel resort hotel right next to the new Bangkok airport. It was so worth the stop and the chance to be pampered for 24 hours after being stuck on a plane was just bliss.

The Thai people are probably the friendliest race of people I've come across, and everyone we met had a very cheerful 'Sawatdee Ka' greeting with a slight bow with hands together. They all made such a fuss of Noah and his monkey George that I think he felt like a real star! The experience clearly made such an impact on Noah that before we left he was even emulating the greeting 'Sawatdee Ka', hands clasped together and all!

The flights home went fairly well, the Thai Airways flight was very empty on the last leg home from Bangkok so we were able to spread out across 2 rows of seats and were waited on hand and foot which was an absolute luxury.

We arrived home on Thursday and 3 hours later I was out at a group meeting to prepare for our group presentation at the 2nd PAS workshop held yesterday and today. Sleep was not very forthcoming that first night home so I was a little worried at how I would cope with 10 hours of intensive accounting work, but all in all I think it went OK, I didn't feel on top of my game for the individual assessment today but hopefully I did enough to pass, and I am just so pleased that Mark and Noah have been OK over the last couple of nights and days without me. Noah has woken up a few hours in a row both nights but Mark managed to get him back to sleep each time, and hopefully every night that passes we're getting more back into our normal routines.

We are all very much looking forward to a relaxing and lazy Sunday together tomorrow.

Final Few Days of Family & Friends

We enjoyed another visit to Lyme Regis with Grandma & Grandad on Thursday, playing in the sand, Noah did the cutest sandy dance on the breakwater, and then we sampled fish n chips from a fantastic local fish bar. We happened to be there on the day a major landslide had come down along the coast and every man and his dog was out to see it, including the fossil hunters who were getting so close to the landslide that it was apparent they were trying their luck at discovering treasures unearthed in the debris. Lyme Regis is on the Jurassic coast so they would have been feeling fairly optimistic about their chances, although we all agreed it was total madness since the landslide continued to send down more debris at regular intervals over the day.


The last few days in England passed in a bit of a blur of catching up with so many different people. James, Ann-Marie and Jack were back to stay for our last weekend, and on the Saturday we enjoyed catching up with a few of Mark's university friends who all made a lovely effort to come from far and wide to visit us for the afternoon. Then we were out to dinner at a local pub with a group of our Somerset friends that night.

Sunday morning we took a family walk up St. Michael's Mount to see if the dragon was in residence in the tower. We didn't find the dragon, he must have slipped out just before we got there, but he knew he had been there as he left Noah and Jack a chocolate teacake each. He had obviously been shopping at Marks and Spencers!


Then we enjoyed a family BBQ lunch in the garden, Mark & Mary-Ann came to visit for the afternoon as well as Mark's lovely parents Ann & Chris, then Jon & Sarah came with the kids for an hour or so too. We were so lucky with the weather over the weekend, it was stunning. Sunday was so balmy that it hit 26 degrees - a perfect end to a magical trip.

As it has been on other occasions, saying goodbye to everyone was very heart-wrenching as we don't know when we will next be able to return. It was lightened a little by the knowledge that Grandma & Grandad have already booked a trip to come and see us for six weeks next summer, and there is a good chance we may also have a visit from James, Ann-Marie and Jack in 2010.

We have so many special memories of the past four weeks that we will be able to live on these for many, many months to come. Noah learnt so many new words whilst we were away and the clarity of his vocab improved enormously. We also thoroughly enjoyed spending time with him as an individual, it was the longest and most concentrated time we have spent together the three of us as a family unit since he was born.

But above all, the most wonderful thing for us as parents was being able to share Noah with our extended family for the first time. Seeing him fall so completely in love with them all is our most treasured memory and our greatest joy.

08 May 2008

These Heavenly Hours


This afternoon we visited what can only be described as one of the most romantic and idyllic spots on Earth. The gardens at Stourhead House are described in the brochure as one of the most beautiful landscaped gardens in the world, and I have to admit I am always a little sceptical of such grand claims to fame. However, I can assure you that they completely lived up to this claim. Grandma was our expert tour guide for the afternoon, and Noah was kept happy with just enough birdlife along the way to keep his attention.

We also spotted a tree that looked just like the Whomping Willow from Harry Potter, don't you think!

Poor Noah took a bit of a tumble on the way round and has a decent graze to his elbow to show for it. He barely cried, although he did remind us from time to time for the rest of the day ‘Noah booboo ow’.

I must admit we went a little snap happy with the camera but it was hard not to when the setting was so magnificent, and I promise that these are only a small selection of the huge number we actually took!

Though we as mere humans cannot even begin to imagine how infinitely more brilliant and amazing heaven will be, there were times in the gardens today where I, for one, felt like we had caught just the slightest glimpse of what life could be like in that heavenly realm.

07 May 2008

Short trips and bluebell walks

Whilst we have had a fabulous time galivanting around the countryside, it is also lovely to be back amongst the peace and quiet of Grandma's garden after a few hectic days away catching up with dear family and friends.

On Friday we went up to Wales and the catch-cry of 'Ann-Mree' got more and more frequent the closer we got to their house. Whilst the big boys went out to the pub for a quick pint, the girls and the little boys enjoyed some bathtime fun. Then the adults enjoyed a tasty curry from the local curry house and then a spot of ten-pin bowling on the Wii. I was pleasantly surprised to beat Mark and Ann-Marie on my first ever go on it!


We had a lazy Saturday morning in anticipation of the big P.A.R.T.Y on Saturday afternoon. Jack went to his party dressed as one of the Power Rangers (don’t ask me which one!) complete with sword to boot. It was a chaotic but fun two hours with bouncy castles, kids galore and even a Dr. Who birthday cake complete with very blue icing (which made for some interesting nappy changes for Noah the next day!). By all accounts, a very successful and enjoyable party all round!
After a relaxing Saturday night in (which us adults needed), we hit the road early on Sunday to get back to Somerset to catch up with my dear friend Rachel and her partner Nev who had very kindly driven up from Southampton to catch up with us for lunch. It was about 8 years ago that I first met Rachel when we worked together at the infamous Archer McGrath recruitment company in London. So much time has passes since those days but it is lovely to know we can still get together and enjoy each other’s company after all this time!
Monday morning, we were off again, this time to Reading but with a short detour to Staines on the way (Ali G country) to see the gorgeous Claire, who cooked us a lovely brunch which was most needed after the 2-hour journey. After a brief but delightful hour or so, we then headed to Reading to see more dear friends, this time Mark and Mary-Ann who were both in our bridal party. We enjoyed a relaxed afternoon around their home, Noah had his first experience of being a policeman, and we took a quick trip to the nearest park, where Noah was determined to stick a daisy in his ear (not quite understanding the point the ‘over the ear’ look).


After eating like kings with Mary-Ann’s 3-course meal, we spent the evening catching up on all the news. What has been so wonderful this time as per other times is how easily we can pick up on the friendships even though two years has past since we last spent time together, which is of course a sign of true friendship, and just how friendships should be!

Tuesday morning, we headed back to Somerset but with a mini detour so that Noah could take his first ever real train journey (3 stops to Yeovil). He appeared to enjoy it, but seemed to be just as excited about seeing 2 goats near Yeovil station whilst we waited for Daddy to catch us up in the car! Later in the afternoon, we joined Grandma & Grandad in a scenic and stunning sojourn through ‘Ladies Walk’ complete with a sea of pretty purple bluebells, and more animals than we could throw Grandad’s stick at. We even saw 2 alpacas (or ‘makkas’ as Noah called them) just for you Nana and Poppa!

Later in the day (which was an extremely warm one) we let Noah have some nappy off time while helping Daddy wash Grandma’s car!


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