I'm not sure whether I'll be able to finish my blog as my new computer has died and this old one keeps conking out too. Fingers crossed.
After about 4 hours sleep on Wednesday night, we set off at 4.15am for Shannon airport, arriving at Stansted at 8am ish as usual. Sam and Jack were waiting for us in the car and we headed off to Lakeside for Sam's shopping fest! The Christmas decorations there are just gorgeous and Santa's grotto was a real treat. Jim and I were both really tired, but managed to keep going for the day. Jack was thrilled to see us both and was so good, as he always is.
Sam and Jack amazed by Santa's Grotto. The figures all moved too.
If you look carefully at the photo on the left, you can see Jack between the lights going up the escalator with Sam behind him. What timing for that shot!
Another section of the Grotto. Look at all those huge sweets!
We 'did' Lakeside then went to Ikea for some curtains for Sam. Sadly none suited, but the meatballs were great! Jim was keeping going on will power by then, so we headed up the country and back to Sam and Jason's house. Jim and I both slept most of the way home. We played play doh with Jack and made a garden, which Jack enjoyed destroying!
Granddad Jim and Jack in Ikea car park
Jack in Ikea, his feet are sticking out of this rather splendid 'hiding' chair!
Jack came rushing up to us and told us that Granddad had fallen asleep in a chair in Ikea! He thought it was a huge joke!
Jack and Granddad also had fun doing the various puzzles placed around the store!
We had promised Jack a go on the little park outside Ikea. Here his is going down the 'pole', a bit blurred but that shows his speed!
I was rather pleased with this colourful photo of the bench beside the playground.
On Friday, Jack went to 'school' in the morning. Jim could hardly move as his back doesn't like Sam's spare bed much! Still, he got himself moving and it improved as the day wore on. Ivor and Maureen, dear friends, arrived about 11am with a shower for Rene's 'Grannie flat'. J and Sam are having their garage converted into a flat for Sam's Mum Rene, so she can move away from the dreadful estate she is living in in Thamesmead, London. Ivor and Maureen have just put in a new shower so the one they brought was a spare. The work starts Monday I gather, all being well. Next time I visit it should be almost complete.
We all piled into Sam's car and headed off to pick Jack up from school. He was highly entertained by the fact that we were all there at once (except Daddy, who was having to work). We went to Argos to return an item bought by Ivor and Mau and Jim did his best arrogant customer and they eventually gave them gift tokens as a replacement. Then it was off for lunch in our favourite cheapo cafe opposite the bus station.
l-r. Me, Jack, Ivor, Maureen, Sam, Jim
Jim caught a bus to London after the meal and I waved him off. He then went by train to Worthing and in the evening, was in the pub with his son Russell. Can you spot him?
We headed back to Sam and J's and played with Jack, chatted to Ivor and Maureen and generally put the world to rights. Ivor and Mau went home at tea time and then it was time to watch Children in Need! I did enjoy it but didn't think it was quite as good as some had been. The news readers did 'Abba' which mostly featured the women, the men only having a small part at the end.
I headed up to bed, as did J and Sam and watched until 12.15, when Will Young sang his latest single. Must put his CD on my Christmas list.
Saturday, 15th November
My books from Rima had arrived and I had fun browsing. Jack woke me up with a cup of tea and we poddled about. Sam had some shopping to do, so it was off to Sainsburys. Jack is such fun in the supermarkets, though like many small children, he never looks where he is going. We ended up in their cafe of course and enjoyed a quick snack.
The Christmas Fayre was next on the agenda. It was actually quite small and we didn't buy much, but went to the park in beside the hall afterwards. Sam and I had fun watching a local team from Wickhambrook play football and Jack enjoyed the park, playing with a group of children covering the play equipment with leaves.
Sam pushing Jack on the swing
Football on Wickhambrook Playing Field
Jack throwing leaves up in the air
He threw them so fast it was blurred
A rather plain bench in Wickhambrook Park
These 2 houses are opposite the park. I loved the display of Chinese lanterns on the grass verge
Jack and Sam made crispy cakes. They were gorgeous too
We watched Strictly Come Dancing in the evening which was excellent.
Sunday, 16th November
On our travels yesterday, we had spotted another Christmas Fayre that was on on Sunday, so we decided to meet Ivor and Maureen and go and see. This one was at a school and more like a craft fayre. They had some excellent stalls there and I bought a basket of goods all wrapped in cellophane for Jim's daughter Ali's new baby (when it comes). I also picked up one or two other presents and bought Jack a chocolate 'on a string' which he found hilarious! We also found the refreshments and partook of some. A tombola stall didn't bring any of us a prize except Jack and he won a bottle of rose scented bath salts. I can't tell you how thrilled he was with this wonderful prize and he carried it everywhere. 'I won because my ticket had the special number' he kept saying. Bless.
Back home and a full Sunday Roast was later served by Sam. It was gorgeous too. We were all so full we could hardly move! Come to think of it, we did an awful lot of eating all together!
Jack and I played with his cars. We made a huge 'traffic jam', a game my youngest son Ben used to love.
Jack also had a bath with his new bath salts floating about in it. He thought it was wonderful and it certainly had a powerful scent.
Monday, 17th November
Jack went to school on Monday morning and I had a bit of a lie in. It was a really cold, windy day. The workmen turned up to start the work. First they are building a detached garage to replace the garage being turned into a flat. They cleared the ground really fast and had a bonfire to burn the rubbish.
The garage which will be a flat! 'Before' photo
Jack on the lawn mower in the garage
Sam and I picked Jack up from school. As Sam walked in to his class, he said 'I love you Mummy' and everyone went 'Aaah'!! What timing.
We took Jack to one of those Play Barns and had our lunch there. We tried to be a bit healthy and had jacket potato. Jack had a great time and made friends with several children. We stayed for a couple of hours then headed home as I was catching my flight back later on.
I packed my things and then played with Jack, making another traffic jam! Here he is proudly showing it off:
All too soon it was time for Sam to run me to Stansted. Jim was getting his flight from Gatwick and we were meeting at Shannon. It all worked out rather well and there was Jim waiting for me! My flight was very bumpy as we had loads of turbulence. It was like riding a big dipper.
We drove home and Jim tried to light Stanley. As if to punish us, he belched black smoke everywhere so Jim poured a couple of cans of water on him to douse the fire. Then about half an hour later, he was burning away happily, no smoke either. Hmmm, work that one out. How to light Stanley. Put a firelighter in with some wood and peat blocks, allow to burn, throw water over the fire, leave for half an hour........
Phew, we were both pretty tired and fell into bed after much chatting and cups of tea. Jim had taken a photo of his lovely, pregnant daughter Ali: