Wow — nearly Easter — and snowing here in Cardiff! What a crazy few months we’ve had…! We just got back from Florida yesterday and I am dying to post those pics but I want to make sure I’ve written about our adventures in January and February before I forget…!
So where was I? Oh yes, we had just returned from Norwich after xmas and then it was down to Cornwall to catch up with Ross and Eva from Sydney.
We met these guys in Ponsanooth, Cornwall, where Emmett, Jamie and their two boys live. Emmett and Eva are old friends of Aled’s from West Wales and it was just so cool to be able to catch up with them (and their families!) for New Years in a fantastic barn conversion only two minutes’ walk from Emmett and Jamie’s house. Emmett has since given birth to a baby girl Elizabeth — congrats guys (and good luck with 3 kids!)!
We were only down in Cornwall for a few days but managed to get out for a short tiki tour of the south coast of the peninsula. This is the view of St. Michael’s Mount from a little town called Marazion — rumour has it you can walk to the island at low tide.
Here’s a view of the boats in Penzance, a place I always wanted to see (because I was a pirate in another life!).
And then it was down to Land’s End, the western-most point of mainland England. (Out of interest I had to google that last statement to check the geography — it looks like bits of Scotland stick out further to the west than Cornwall.) Anyways it was blowing a gale that day so we only enjoyed the view for a few moments before heading to the over-priced gift shop to warm up. No ice cream required!
Nanna and Taidi came to visit the following weekend so we took a drive down to Cosmeston Lakes, a nice country park south of Cardiff. Here you can see my father-in-law up to his usual tricks, getting as close to pond life as possible!
Then we headed over to Sully Beach, which was a new spot for all of us. It was actually a very unusual beach in that many of the “stones” were actually weathered bits of brick and other man-made bits of concrete. Check out the giant “brick stone” in the foreground. Truly an interesting composition.
After Nanna and Taidi left us, we used up some frozen gingerbread to make a gingerbread house.
Doing this from scratch was more difficult than I’d anticipated but with help from Dadda we managed it in the end! I should write down my “lessons learned” now before I forget them — mostly so I don’t get frosting all over myself, my son and the kitchen. Next year’s attempt will be bigger, better and tidier!! (Apologies British folks, I am using more exclamation marks than usual because I’ve just been in America, the land of exclamation marks!)
In mid-January, our friend Simon from Wellington came to visit with his son Alistair. We decided to rendezvous at the Science Museum in London on a Saturday, where we saw lots of cool exhibits — here is Morgan by a very old locomotive which he most likely read about in Richard Scarry’s Hop Aboard book (a book which he loves but drove me crazy for a good few months in 2017).
Of course we headed to the pub afterwards — Simon this is the only picture I had of all of us — sorry your Dad looks a bit nuts! As always, great to catch up with Simon, one of my old friends from Inland Revenue. It makes me sad though to say goodbye and every time I see a friend from New Zealand it just makes me want to go back! I miss you guys!!
Anyways! The next day, Aled, Morgan and I headed to the Natural History Museum which was pretty awesome too!
It was my first trip to London since returning to the UK in 2014 and we all enjoyed the train journey — only two hours on the Great Western from Cardiff to Paddington.
In late January, I had my own work party to go to. The IB (International Baccalaureate) is in a busy time leading up to results issue on 5 January so they hold a big party in late January instead of just before Christmas. And because I put up a picture of Aled all dressed up for his Christmas party I thought I should add one of myself. Morgan looks a bit scary in this picture – he’s probably wondering where his mother has gone! Or he’s giving me the death stare because I am taking too long to put on his favourite show (Octonauts — it’s great cartoon about marine creatures by the way!).
The next day we put together the bunk bed for Morgan’s room, in preparation for some upcoming cousin visits. Probably not the best hangover cure but hey, we pushed through and Morgan loves it! I am so proud of him in his big boy bed.
In February, all six of Morgan’s UK cousins came to visit. First up were Hefin, Emma and Elis from Norwich. We went down the bay where I had hoped to go on a boat ride but somehow all the enclosed boats were not running. So we braved a 20 minute open-air ride — with blankets! Here’s Auntie Emma, Morgan and Elis (not facing the camera unfortunately!).
Here’s Uncle Hefin with the Pierhead Building in the background (which I have just learned was built in 1897 as the HQ for the Bute Dock Company).
The next visitors came from North Wales: Ceri, Angela, Kate and Rachel. This time the enclosed boats were running down the bay – yay – so we had a nice little tour in relative warmth.
And then the following day we took a short hike in the Brecon Beacons:
The kids loved jumping in the puddles however on this occasion, Rachel got a bit more than she bargained for! Notice outstretched adult hand on right — just out of reach so we could all get photos of this hilarious moment. Rachie was a good sport about it all — good on you Rachie — I would have been crying with that much mud in my boot!
And then Uncle William, Auntie Claire, Owen, Alex and Dylan arrived the next weekend from Wokingham. Everyone’s ready for the rugby!
Unfortunately not a good show for Wales that weekend but they’ve come second overall in the Six Nations which Aled is happy with. And then here we are the next day in front of Cardiff Castle (sorry I didn’t manage to get a pic of Auntie Claire — she is very camera shy!).
It was great to see everyone in Cardiff — although it did turn our house into a laundromat for a spell No matter — it was lovely to see everyone and to bond with the Evans clan. Thanks guys for coming over and for all the lovely wine, chocolates, etc!
Now before I move onto the “Beast from the East” section, I will mention a nice outing Morgy and I took with Becky, Fern, Hazel, Beth and Zeke to Caerleon, the site of an old Roman legionary fortress. We’ve been here before and I really enjoy this place. The kids love climbing in and around the old amphitheatre:
…and checking out the baths which used to have underfloor heating! Very advanced for 200 AD don’t you think? It’s a neat little town and there’s also nice cafes for lunch.
So that was January and February — it’s not my favourite time of year here and it’s been a tough couple of months at work. A trip to Florida was planned for the first two weeks of March though, which kept me going through the ups and downs… it was therefore very disconcerting to watch the weather report for the few days before we were meant to leave which was forecasting 8 inches of snow for Cardiff! All down to the “polar vortex” — or as they were calling it here in Britain — “the beast from the east” (just to help with mounting Russian tensions).
This is what our house looked like on Thursday, 28 February 2018, two days before we were supposed to fly out of Gatwick airport! Murphy’s Law!
As the south of the UK gets snow rather infrequently, the cities and towns aren’t equipped to deal with it. They salt the main roads in Cardiff but I haven’t yet seen a plough yet with my own eyes (Aled assures me that Cardiff has a few!). Even if there are ploughs, they wouldn’t fit down our narrow street.
So our office was shut on Thursday due to hazardous driving conditions and we were told to work from home. Morgy’s nursery was luckily open and only a few blocks away so I was able to drop him off and concentrate on work until the late afternoon. Most of the UK had come to a standstill, with most modes of transportation interrupted. The news definitely made it out to be “Snowmageddon”. Haha!
On Friday morning we made a decision to drive to Gatwick that day if we could, fearing that if more snow fell that day we could get stuck in Cardiff. Luckily we had moved our car out of our street on Thursday night just onto Waterloo Road so it didn’t get stuck in the drifts near our house.
So on Friday morning we went out for a quick sledding session with Morgy’s buddy from nursery Zeke:
Checked out the stream in the park:
And then packed our car using ancient Eskimo techniques:
The roads around our house were a disaster, and even Newport Road was pretty messy:
The roads were pretty bad until we got over the Severn Bridge (the bridge we have to go over to get to England) but we just took it as slow as required in the snowy sections. I think we got to Gatwick in about 4 hours, maybe an hour longer than it should have taken. All things considered, a pretty decent time given the conditions. And we were in one piece — hurrah!
The plane took off on time from Gatwick on Saturday so we were Orlando-bound as planned. I will do another post soon with the Florida pics — hope everyone is warm and safe (in the Northern Hemisphere — or enjoying the last days of summer in the Southern Hemisphere!) That’s right Kiwis/Aussies – your summer days are numbered mwah-haha!