Saturday, January 21, 2012

Back exploring the US again

Well here we are - back on the road again after a very enjoyable Christmas break – a break from a 24 month odyssey?? In mid-December we flew to San Jose just in time for Adele to catch most of the Christmas parties and fun, and, yes…Tom did join in also. We stayed with Maky and Mark, had wonderful accommodations, hospitality and enjoyed a nice leisurely breakfast together every morning, including Christmas Day with their family, when we met their new daughters-in-law. As usual - what else - Adele’s days were full of lunches and dinners put on by her friends. Of course we enjoyed seeing our two little grandsons who we saw almost every day and we spent a lot of time in Vasona Park as the weather was exceptionally mild. We had a big family birthday get together on Saturday the 17th, Cearull (14th) who will stop counting his birthdays soon, Caleb was 3 on the 16th and Cian was 5 on the 20th.  It was good to see all the California family together, we do see one another on Skype/Facetime but it is nice to be able to hug those two little boys and; the big boys too!

Adele’s first day was taken up mostly by the Newcomers Christmas lunch where it was great for her to see so many friends and catch up on their news. The following night was her tennis party meeting up with some ladies she only sees once a year at the tennis party; it is one hilarious party that Adele enjoys very much. Her big disappointment was missing the Bridge Christmas party by a few hours; but Holly one of her bridge group ladies held a lunch for her, all those busy ladies took time out to see her and bring her up to date on their news. Our friend Judy got a group to play Mah Jong and have lunch, unfortunately, Adele didn’t win one round but enjoyed seeing everyone.   SaAn a friend from Adele’s very first Newcomer’s lunch bunch had a group over for a Chinese dinner while Valeria and David had a group over for an Italian dinner.  We had a lovely Christmas Eve with Carmel (Leslie’s mother) and Dave with whom we have celebrated Thanksgiving  since Cearull first met Leslie (16 years ago), we missed last year so it was great to get together, the food is always gourmet and we always go home with homemade chocolates and marmalade.
Once again we had our Christmas dinner at Stella’s Place in San Jose, which has a lovely big function room with lots of space; I think we had 21 sitting down to dinner. Stella and Tony had put a lot of time, money and work into making sure we had a nice party last year and we could see it was too much for the two of them. So this year we divided the work between us; Adele looked after the food and allocated dish tasks to Leslie and Melissa. Once again, Tony and Stella did all the rest. Cian had practiced singing his Christmas songs to us on Skype every week during December so he was all set to sing on Christmas day and Caleb entertained us with Batman and Diego music - we all got a kick out of that!  Christmas crackers were pulled, food eaten, plum puddings set on fire and presents opened – it’s so wonderful to see the little boy’s faces when the presents are being opened; wanting to help everyone open theirs and so happy with everything they get.

The following day we headed for the UK for our extended Christmas…including Christmas dinner with all the trimmings served up by our wonderful girls Jennifer, Hannah and Molly. Once again presents are exchanged, although this time we are responding to personal requests which we try very hard to fulfill. In return Adele gets a years’ worth of chocolates and chocolate biscuits (cookies); at least what a regular person would think was a years’ worth.  During the week we celebrated Glennis’s (the other granny) birthday - more presents, more candles and more fun. Tom was delighted with his present this year – Ciaran and Karl took him to see Leicester Tigers play Sale Sharks in a top class Rugby match. This was preceded and followed by almost daily rugby or soccer games between Ciaran and Tom; the smile on Toms face when playing with Ciaran is in the megawatt range.
New Year's Eve Jennifer and Karl hosted a New Year’s dinner for several friends and their children, it was a great success as both adults and children all managed to stay awake to welcome the New Year and watch a big 20 minutes fireworks display from London. Once again the weather was very mild which allowed us to take a long walks across the fields (with apples in our pockets for a goat who was a mile and a half away) the goat gave our walks a mission which meant that we did not have too many complaints on the way out the door. We had only come back from the UK in the middle of October so not too much of a change in the children since we saw them last

This year we managed to arrange our return travel to Miami via Amsterdam where we spent 4 days in a really great hotel - The Convent Hotel - right in the center of the city. Adele had never been there before and really enjoyed the city, spending a lot of her time avoiding cyclists and learning to cross the road and the cycling lane. The center of Amsterdam is a very cyclist and pedestrian friendly area, with relatively little car traffic; it’s as if there’s a protest against the cost of gas (petrol). The bicycles themselves were interesting in that they are modified to suit the person and personality of the owner. 
On our first day we took a “Hop on Hop Off” Bus Tour followed by an evening canal cruise to orient ourselves to the city. As it was a pleasure to walk we did a lot of walking; at night the city comes to life as so many young people live in the city center. In the evenings we headed out looking for restaurants to have dinner, walking along its many canals. One night we came across a big flock of swans, they were beautiful in the reflected light from the street lamps on the water.

Our routing back to the US was Amsterdam – Paris – Miami. Adele sat beside a Frenchman on the Paris to Miami flight back and had to dig real deep to have enough French to talk to him but managed. She enjoyed showing him some of her photos on her new iPad, telling him about our family.  He was going to Miami to visit his daughter who is a baker and spend 3 months with her. He had absolutely no English.
Before we left Miami in December Adele made two delicious chicken sandwiches which with 2 slices of fruit cake would sustain is on our flight. She wrapped them up, put them with the suitcases - we duly lifted the suitcases, the sandwiches fell off (in the RV) but we did not discover this until we were on our way. We wondered what the RV would be like when we returned - stinky or worse. Luckily, Adele had wrapped them so well we could just drop them in the bin and do a quick carpet shampoo job on the seat. The Luck of the Irish!

No comments:

Post a Comment