As the title suggests I spent the festive period travelling around Britian to see family and catch up with old friends. I managed to avoid most of the travel chaos and the worst of the bad weather. There was however a strong tendency for the people that I was visiting to "take me for a walk" so now I know what it is like to be a labrador.
Flew in to Aberdeen on Friday (17th). The previous week involved lots of parties, Oli J leaving for Canada, Camilla getting her PhD, CIPR julebord and others. Got to Aberdeen with no delays Friday night and then spent the weekend there with Katharine. Lots of snow but we had no problems getting down to the farm on saturday to: 1) see it in the snow, its beautiful, and 2) to compare the house to the first set of architects plans. The snow was useful for sketching out building outlines and floor layouts and we came away with a good feeling. Sunday we met the architect and had a good two hour session with him. There are some people that are expensive but you feel like its money well spent. He is one of them.
Flew down to Southampton with Aid for BSRG. Lots of old friends and the standard cocktail of science and drinking. From there I scrounged a lift to Maccelsfield with the Liverpool crew and managed to earn my passage by fixing the wipers on their minibus. Wipers are useful when there is that much salt, crap and melting snow on the road and the windscreen. It was as simple as a blown fuse but the geniuses at Volkswagen do not provide a fuse map because, to quote "the fuse layouts changes so often it is not worth including one". Oh really? Well first don't change the fuse layout so often and second, it probably is worth including if someone is stuck on the motorway with no wipers randomly pulling out fuses to find the blown one and then trying to find one that doesn't matter to swap. Twats.
Spent Tuesday night and Wednesday in Macc and caught up with Dave, Rach, Mike and Clair. Also got to meet Rubon, who is a few months old. Went for a very nice snowy walk, had a pub lunch and hopped on a train to Leeds to collect a car.
At Leeds airport the Hertz man was a patronising twat (note to self stick with Avis) but I eventually got the car and headed over to the Peak. There I saw Chris C, Mark, Heather and Chris D, we had a few beers and I stayed at Farmer Clarks after extracting my revenge on Hertz by taking their car up his track, fast while drunk. Next day Margi headed off to work and Chris and I took a tour of their land, fed the sheep, checked out stone walls and the 1200 trees they have planted whilst discussing argiculture, the state of UK academia (its fucked) and the impending train wreck that is the UK economy. All good stuff and lovely to see Margi and Rio who is growning up to be a very sassy little girl.
After the Peak I headed east to Glossop and stayed with Jim and Emma. Havn't seen them for about 12 years so it was good to catch up. Their kids are now 12 and 15 - time flies! We chatted over wine and lemsip and before long it was like yesterday. Another long walk the next morning with Em and their dog before I drove back to Leeds and dropped off the car and meet up with Katharine.
Christmas at Mytholm is always a treat. Christmas day we walked 5 miles up to a pub on the moors for lunch. Despite being 7.5 months pregnant, Katharine is still whizzing around. The walk was beautiful, everywhere was frozen and snow covered. Yorkshire is definetly growing on me. Now I start to see why the people that live there consider it to be so special.
From Yorkshire we headed over to Wales to see my brother and Eli. Went for a walk around Llyn Geirionedd one day, headed to the Centre for Alternative Technology the second day and caught up with the older remenants of the family on the third. CAT was a bit of a disappointment, basically because despite being "open" there was tonnes of snow and ice and most of the displays were shut. Did however manage to talk to a few "experts" who's stock repsonse was "errr I am not sure, I am not really an expert on that", but at least they pointed us in the direction of the right literture, so I spent a king ransom in the book store. Also headed over to Anglsey to catch up with Gareth and Sue who were visiting from Aus. Had a very pleasant evening at a party at Gareth's sisters place.
From Wales we headed back to Aberdeen in time for New Year in Stonehaven, which by all accounts is entertaining - that's tonight so I will let you know.
Christmas UK Tour - 12 days of Christmas
1106 - Miles driven (1780km)
31 - number of sheep on Chris' farm
12 - Old friends caught up with (not including BSRG)
9 - Friends children I met, ranging in age from 3 months to 15 years
8 - Gallons of lemsip consumed in an attempt to shake my man flu
7 - Beds slept in
6.5 - weeks until our little girl is due to enter the world
6 - Walks in the snow (woof woof)
5 - Miles walked from Mytholm to the Dog and Gun on Christmas day
4 - Books for Christmas
3 - Modes of transport (plane, train and car/minbus)
Too Much alcohol, too many colds and just enough nice presents
And a partridge in a pear tree