UK Trip = March 21 – April 7, 2009

We’ve been back in Scottsdale a little over 2 weeks but we had an amazing trip to England.  We arrived on Saturday 21 March having left home late on Friday 20.  The flight with Kirsten was interesting, which was exactly what we had expected.  Thankfully Sigrid came prepared with baby wipes, changes of clothes etc.  In the 9.5 hours of the flight Kirsten slept a grand total of about 2.5 hours in 2 sessions and managed to throw up over herself just as the “seatbelts on” sign was turned on!!  Need we say more.

We spent the first part of our trip in Worthing with John’s parents, who bless their hearts, even moved out of their own room and into the guest room so that we could have a little more space.  Our first full day, Sunday, was Mother’s Day in England and John’s family had also arranged a gathering.  This included us meeting family members from John’s side that we’d not seen since our wedding reception at the end of May 2002.  There was even one family member, William, that Sigrid had never met.  During the course of the week we included:  a day trip to Brighton to visit the aquarium with Karen and Guy (John’s sister and husband); a walk to Conrad and Marie Claire to see their flat (Conrad is Sigrid’s youngest brother and they bought their own flat in Worthing almost 3 years ago); 2 visits to see John’s grandparents in their home; a visit from John’s Uncle John; and a trip one morning into Worthing itself with a short walk along the sea front.  As you can see almost no time to just sit back and relax but we do have plenty of memories.

Friday 27 March we headed across to Swindon to Sigrid’s parents.  We took a detour to East Grinstead where we had lunch with Sigrid’s Great Aunt Pam and Great Uncle Don.  Pam has recently been knitting some cardigans for Kirsten.  One thin one for use in Arizona and a thicker one for while we were in England.  We arrived in Highworth (just outside Swindon which is actually where the parents live) around 5pm that evening.  Saturday morning we went across to Cirencester where Sigrid’s mother sells home produce at the Farmers Market on the 2nd and 4th saturdays of the month.  http://thecotswoldgateway.co.uk/farm-markets.htm  In the afternoon we descended on Nora and Steve at their flat in “Old Town” Swindon and even walked Kirsten to the local park where Steve and John played with the cameras.  It was like Kirsten was being followed by the paparazzi.   Sunday included a morning visit to the Swindon Outlet Village where we met up with Nora and Steve and Conrad and Marie Claire (who had arrived late the night before and stayed with Nora and Steve).  The afternoon was spent in Highworth having a large family reunion/birthday party for Sigrid who’s birthday was the next day.  Aunty Jenny (Sigrid’s godmother) and her husband Charles came down by train from London for the night and booked into one of the local hotels http://www.jesmondhousehotel.com/.  Sigrid’s Aunty Flora (one of her father’s sisters) and her Uncle Gregory (well actually cousin of her father) also came for dinner together with Chloe (Sigrid’s niece); Magnus (the older of Sigrid’s 2 brothers) and his partner Kim.  In total there were 17 for dinner and it was a 3-course sit down meal.  Nora had prepared most of the desserts.  There were 5 in tota of which I had one – Dime Bar icecream cake (and I now have the recipe), but I discovered that John tried all 5.  Dinner was spectacular!  Thanks Ma and Nora.

On Monday the day started out meeting Jenny and Charles for tea at the local bakery in Highworth and then Sigrid’s birthday outing was to Cotswold Wildlife Park http://www.cotswoldwildlifepark.co.uk/.  There was a large group of us made up of:  Nora and Steve; John, Sigrid and Kirsten; and Conrad and Marie Claire.  It was a cold day but fun.  Tuesday we handed Kirsten over to Nanny Gregory and took a trip to Bicester Outlets  http://www.bicestervillage.com/bicester/home.asp.  We finished with lunch at a pub where we actually had a full english breakfast.  We went back to Highworth and collected Kirsten before heading across to Kim’s house and having dinner with Kim and her 3 children:  Jessie; Charley and Harry; and Magnus and his daughter Chloe.  Dinner was roast beef and yorkshire puddings with all the trimmings.  I have never seen so much food in my entire life.

On Wednesday John disappeared off to meet with some former work colleagues so Kirsten and I went with my Mum to Fairford WI Market and then in the afternoon I went to Tescos.  I can only compare it to Walmart – except it’s not.  The size is amazing and so is the selection of food.  I have to admit that it is a store I miss.  Thursday John and I explored the local area and managed to do some shopping!!  In the evening Aunty Anne (Sigrid’s mother’s best friend from Norway) and her daughter Margrethe arrived.  They flew in from Oslo for a long weekend and also stayed at the Jesmond.  At the same time Sigrid and John went out in the evening for a curry with Sigrid’s friend Kerry.  This is a tradition that we do every time we go back.  I think there were 10 of us this time.  Dinner was at the Biplob which is actually very close to Nora and Steve’s flat so this is where we parked.  http://www.biplob.co.uk/  Thank you Kerry for organizing this and thank you to:  Kerry, Mark, Nora, Steve, Emma, Gill, Jo, and Matthew for coming along and making it a very enjoyable evening.  Thank you to Emma’s partner Dean for staying at home and babysitting their 2 children so that Emma could come out and join us.  Unfortunately Friday was supposed to be a busy day meeting up with many of Sigrid’s friends, but Kirsten woke up with a full fever and cold which we later discovered was due to teething.  Sorry to Jenny, Annie, Jayne and Heather that we didn’t get a chance to see you.

Saturday we went out exploring.  John met up with Steve and they went off for some “boys time” whilst the women went to the Cotswold Woollen Weavers:  http://ds.dial.pipex.com/town/plaza/hk67/contents.htm which is about 10 miles from Highworth and then finished off in Lechlade at the River Thames feeding the ducks.  It was Chinese take out for dinner that evening.  Sunday was yet another family gathering this time including Aunty Julia and Uncle Tony.  Tony is Sigrid’s Father’s Uncle.  I think we had 13 for dinner that day.  As you can see many generations were seen in this trip.  This basically brings our visit to an exhausting close.  Monday was spent packing and hanging around at home (although Kirsten spent many hours in the garden playing).  It will probably be 18 months – 2 years before we make the trip again.  Thank you to everyone to helped to make it a memorable visit.

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