bairn blog: a tale of three henleys

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08:51pm Friday, 2nd June 2006

7 days, 970 miles, 19 relatives, 50 feeds and one burnt finger later the three henleys are back in scotland, home of the brave, land of the free and not a single st george flag in sight. a fantastic week was had by all three although wee gethin is a bit dis-oriented by the overload of family, friends and places he has been to in the past week – not to mention having spent most of it in transit.

on thursday peta and gethin set off from linlithgow to meet cole from work and reunite him with some shoes, having set off to work in his house shoes after an early, confused start to the day. once laden with petrol and husband we got about five miles outside of edinburgh before having to stop for the first of many roadside FPS. having got the scotland to leamington spa journey down to a fine art last year (six hours) we had no idea how much this would be affected by the baby factor. the answer was longer than we could have possibly imagined. we had to squeeze in another FPS before making our first relative stop, popping in to warrington to see gethin’s great grandparents ken and blanche. sadly we couldn’t stop long as it was already getting late so after a brief stop we set off on the final leg of the journey and after one more FPS we finally arrived, exhausted, in leamington spa: nine and a half hours after we had left edinburgh.

on friday we had a much earned slow start before gethin got to meet his cousin, wee samuel withers, for the first time. the difference between gethin and samuel was quite a surprise – like chalk and cheese – but they got on fabulously and had a rather cute conversation (and kicking contest) between them on the play gym we had taken down with us. peta, leiske, cole and the two cousins headed off into town for a leisurely stroll and coffee. cole overdosed on frappucino’s and spotted the mild, comedic irritant jimmy carr in the bucks of star before heading back home for food and relaxation before the next leg of our epic journey.

on saturday we set off further south to catch up with peta’s side of the family in sunny somerset. this time, what should have been a two-and-a-half hour journey took a whopping six hours! but arrive we did and peta’s dad was flying the saltire in honour of the arrival of his wee scottish guest. unpacking the car (an epic venture in itself; pram, bags, bairn and all), we were soon met with a grand family re-/union: grandparents moomin and gramps, uncle martin, great-aunt and great-uncle claire and bill, and great-grandparents bryan and marion. marion is quite the knitter and had made a lovely yellow hooded sleeping bag for gethin. we supped on a marvellous fish tagine followed by home made raspberry cheesecake, and having arrived in good time for gin o’clock (six pm) we were soon imbibing a variety of beverages. this being the first time peta had had a vodka since getting pregnant, she decided to take advantage of the opportunity. white russians at the gethin milk bar then!

on sunday peta’s parents had to go to a wedding in slough and martin had to get back to london so we had the house to ourselves for a lazy day, before meeting peta’s cousin alice who came over from exeter, bringing with her friend katherine and a fine toy zebra for gethin which has been named stanley. a fine name for a zebra! we went for a walk along the fosse way before heading back for a lazy afternoon in front of a dvd.

on monday we all headed out for a nice day at barrington court, a beautiful tudor mansion set in expansive designed gardens and grounds, and headed home for a large roast complete with fresh asparagus bought from a small farm on the way home. yummy!

on tuesday we headed back up north to leamington and made it in the two-and-a-half hours the journey should have been. we popped up to town for some supplies and made it back in time to deposit gethin with his grand-parents for a night out with leiske and will to play hood skittles. it was our first evening/time away from gethin since he was born and wasn’t at all as nervous as we thought it would be – we quaffed a few beers and had immense fun throwing some wooden ‘cheeses’ at some wooden pins.

on wednesday, the last day of our trip before heading back north, a busy day was had by all three. cole spent some time with his grand-dad in the morning before meeting gethin’s great-aunt nickie and cousins (the first once removed variety i think) anna and gabi, a pair of the tallest eight year old girls you are ever likely to see. it was great to see nickie and her twins, especially as nickie – being a midwife – has been a real help on the phone at some pretty tough times since gethin was born (and before). in the afternoon cole’s friends max and karen came round to meet young Henley before Gethin’s godparent Meli popped in on her way back home to south wales from a holiday in France (via birmingham airport). now gethin is eagerly awaiting the july visit of godparent jo to complete the set! meli brought with her a lovely gift for gethin of a peruvian knitted hoodie, and we all headed to the park to catch some rays and meet up with cole’s friends jake and karen, and their lovely daughter maggie.

on thursday we headed back north and made it in time to go to godparent ryan‘s fantastic photography exhibition at ocean terminal in edinburgh. the journey was long but swift, assisted by an audio-book of the da vinci code, possibly the worst piece of literature the three henley’s have ever encountered. even gethin – who has only limited experience of the printed word – thought the crunching, munching caterpillar – featured a less predictable, paint-by-numbers-plot than dan brown’s twaddle. the ‘allo ‘allo-esque french accents of the audio book didn’t help either.

so, we are now home and a lovely, well-earned lie-in was had by all three this morning. we had a great week and it was brilliant to see everybody. thanks to everyone for their lovely presents for gethin and hopefully it won’t be so long until we meet again. there are too many photos to post but will shortly put up a new ‘family tree’ section on the site so we can show off gethin and his multitude of lovely relatives.