I was up with the lark this morning. In fact, it was still dark when the alarm went off and I heard myself saying "oh, that's my alarm!"
I was on the tube before 8am, which meant I somehow managed to miss the rush hour. Come to think of it, I suspect not many Londoners were actually working today. Certainly not many of them seemed to be heading towards the City.
I managed to find a seat in the carriage and happily read my new book about the River Nene all the way to Moorgate, by which point I was so engrossed that I almost forgot to leave!
From Moorgate, I walked to Liverpool Street, wheeling a really heavy suitcase in my wake. When you're carrying something that unwieldy, you suddenly become aware of quite how many steps there are in London. In the tubes. In stations. I was going up and down like bicycle pump. I can't imagine how difficult life must be for those who use wheelchairs.
The train journey from Liverpool Street to Audley End in North Essex passed without incident. I read my book whilst listening to the man opposite's music which was spilling out of his headphones so successfully, that I could sing along to every song. And probably still be drowned out!
Audley End station by its name alone ought to be really quaint and quirky but it actually seems to be nothing but a giant concrete car park, designed to attract the commuters of that part of the world. My parents were waiting in their car for me when I arrived and we set off for Shropshire via the M11, the A14, the M6 and a shed-load of other roads whose names escape my mind.
We drove over the Nene at Thrapston. It felt very odd to be looking down at a field I'd walked through just a few weeks ago. I was there less than an hour after my accident and limping heavily. Bizarrely the area was entirely water-logged today which made me realise quite how lucky I was with the weather. Rain would have made my task utterly impossible.
We had an early lunch at Corley services, where I introduced my father to the concept of Subway sandwiches. He was utterly overwhelmed by the amount of choice. Bread? Salad? Cheese? Toasted? Sauces? Who knew a sandwich could have so many variables?!
My family are staying in an Air BnB house in a place called Myddle. I keep saying "middle for diddle" as a little joke, but I think that's a phrase only quizzers use! The owner of the house took great pains to tell us that she hadn't actually wanted to rent the house out over Christmas because she'd wanted to stay here herself, but that she hadn't had the heart to cancel our booking. At the rates she's being paid, my heart bleeds for her! In return we've been rewarded with a house which smells of dog and an oven which is so dirty that it set all the smoke alarms off when we tried to bake a Yuletide log!
Edward and Sascha arrived at about the same time as, us and Ted and I immediately went off to do an errand in Ellesmere - just as Storm Barbara tore through the area. I'm sure it was half the strength of the storm which is brutalising Scotland tonight, but it got a bit hairy driving through the sheets of rain in a car I'd never driven before. I couldn't find the back windscreen wipers and then the lights...
We had tea in a local gastro-pub which turned out to be a thoroughly charming experience. Great food. A lovely ambience. After eating, we came back to the house and lolled about in the very cosy sitting room, where I made a start on sticking pictures from the past year into one of my photo albums. I tired to do them chronologically and then suddenly found a packet full of random pictures which means the album now goes from January to June and then back to January!