bairn blog: a tale of three henleys

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11:00pm Sunday, 6th August 2006

the henley (1 of 3) is back in scotland after a whirlwind tour of the big smoke (londinium) and cambridge.

on thursday, somewhat out of character, cole got to the airport in good time to check-in, read a magazine and quaff a shandy to calm the pre-flight jitters. after a pretty easy flight (no jet lag) to luton, cole then spent what seemed an eternity on the thameslink service trans-london. what a big city.

eventually made it to epsom (where peta’s aunt lives) to be reunited with peta and gethin and meet up with her immediate family. a delightful meal was prepared and liberal amounts of wine drunk. unfortunately, cole hadn’t realised that his ears hadn’t yet popped from the flight which, lethally combined with a few too many drops of rose, meant he spent most of the evening shouting at peta’s relatives. one way of endearing yourself to the in-laws i suppose.

we headed back to spend the night at peta’s gran’s flat, a surreal experience. sadly this was compounded by a balmy night in london where the inability to open the windows, combined with the ambient temperature of sheltered housing for the elderly, lethally created the perfect conditions for a lethargic but relatively troubled nights sleep for gethin, and therefore also cole and peta.

on friday, after some reminiscing, cups of tea and several slices of crust-less jam on toast, all descended on the local church to give peta’s gran a moving send off. gethin seemed a bit bemused at first by everyone wearing black (even daddy) but was an absolute star during the service without even a murmur (‘a masterpiece of mothering’ one mourner observed).

it was nice for me and gethin to meet so many members of peta’s family we hadn’t before, although it was a shame it wasn’t under happier circumstances.

after the service, we all headed off for some lunch and commiseratory beverages before an evening of fish and chips and mushy peas back in epsom. what a treat! after an emotionally exhausting day we set back to sleep, safe in the knowledge that we had figured out how to get the windows open in peta’s gran’s flat.

on saturday, with peta and gethin heading back to the wild west with her family, cole set off to cambridge to stay with friends corrina and dave, both quite jaded after a frenzied evening at mutual friend chris’ wedding the night before.

we spent a lovely time in the shade of the apple trees at grantchester orchards, supping on fine cakes and dodging wasps in the toasty afternoon sun. we strolled back along the river, marvelling at the various states of undress amongst the locals and not-so’s, circumnavigating cows and cyclists, and trying not to laugh too loudly at the number of punts who fell in the river, collided with the bank/foliage, or both of the above.

we then managed to briefly rock on to the dulcit tones of an awful robbie williams tribute act taking place in the carpark of the local pub (the madness tribtue act had sadly pulled out at the last minute), before doing that most infrequent of pursuits for all parents new, a trip to the cinema.

a mightily fine time was had watching superman returns, a truly brilliant and nostalgic affair (for someone who had loved the original films as a child), although having not gone to the cinema for so long and having quaffed a rather large diet coke, i had clearly forgotten the bladder limits of cinema-going.

my popcorn consumption was also well below par!

before i knew it my trip down south was at an end and i was at stansted airport waiting to fly back up north. although a sad time, i had a really good time meeting peta’s family, paying my respects to her gran and catching up with some old friends. just one more night home alone before peta and gethin return tomorrow so had better go get myself to bed to get a good nights sleep before a last-minute tidying spree first thing in the morning in honour of their return…