Tuesday, 31 December 2013

New Year's Eve in Pucklechurch

A lovely evening hosted by Andrea and Steve - great to catch up with Pucklechurch friends over an excellent New Year's Eve dinner.

At midnight with charged glasses we watched the fireworks from London

And celebrated with some more modest indoor pyrotechnics..

Monday, 30 December 2013

Day 60 - Back to Bath

After an early start from Leamington this morning and a blustery and wet journey on the Fosseway, we were very pleased to arrive in Bath for lunch at Stonefield with Mum and Dad.

This afternoon it was great to be able to make a quick 'catch up' visit to see Claire and Jonathan at home and to receive an enthusiastic welcome from the lovely Jessie..

Shown above in 'butter wouldn't melt in my mouth mode', other modes ('whirling dervish'; 'can I sit right on top of you, right now?') are also available and are equally endearing but more difficult to capture in a photo!

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Day 59 - Puzzling

James has been working at a BBC wildlife jigsaw very patiently over several days and today it was completed... or almost...

It became evident that there are four pieces missing.  Most frustrating!

David, Lauren and I have been working on the rather less demanding 300 piece Dr Who puzzle..

Fortunately no pieces missing on this one..

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Day 58 - Happy Birthday Lauren!

Lauren's 26th birthday and an array of cards and gifts awaits the lucky birthday girl!

Later we celebrated with birthday cake and Lauren blew out an impressive collection of candles.

On our way home this evening from sale shopping in Leamington we stopped to visit Warwickshire's best decorated telephone box..

The parish church is also suitably decorated..

Friday, 27 December 2013

Day 57 - Stratford on Avon

Overnight the weather was very windy.  This morning the sky was clear but there was still enough wind to create 'waves' on the River Avon outside the hotel.

We drove to Stratford where the water level by the Royal Shakespeare Theatre was very high and equally choppy.

The swans and geese were all gathered around the marina.

This evening, back in Leamington, we went out for a celebration meal with Lauren and James in anticipation of her birthday tomorrow.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Day 56 - Boxing Day Surprises

Our surprise Christmas gift from Lauren and James was dinner, bed and breakfast at a country house hotel by the river near Stratford on Avon.

So we are very happily installed in a lovely room on the second floor at Walton Hall - the room is fourth from the left in the above photo.

On arrival we went for a walk down the drive and to the river, which is overspilling its banks.

There was a large flock of very noisy Canada Geese on the water as well as a family of swans.

Inside the hotel is decorated for Christmas with an enormous tree in the reception hall.

On arrival we were told that there is a Boxing Day champagne reception and six course gala dinner followed by live jazz and dancing and that we will be attending!  

(Pity we left the glad rags in the US!!)

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Day 55 - Christmas Day!

Wishing you a very Happy Christmas, with love from us both xx

We had a lovely day and many generous gifts.  It was great to talk to the Dando/ Patch family on Skype as well as James' family who were enjoying their large family celebration in Portugal.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Day 54 - Christmas Eve

A trip into town for last minute shopping and in the sunshine the Victorian red brick architecture of the Town Hall looked quite impressive!

At Carluccio's deli there was a brisk trade and a festive window.

Back at the house we have made the final preparations for tomorrow, watched some Christmas films and played games.  It was good to talk to James' family in Portugal on Skype.

Lauren and James' wall decoration sets the scene for tonight...

We have read the traditional version from the book that Lauren has had since she was very small, pictured below with her first reindeer..

..and also the Kiwi version that L and J bought on their honeymoon..

Monday, 23 December 2013

Day 53 - Preparing for Christmas in Leamington

After a wet and windy drive from Shillington we arrived in Leamington to find that our Christmas outfits had been laid out ready for our arrival!

The house is all ready for the big day and the cats are particularly enjoying the new fire..

Tomorrow some last minute shopping and preparations..

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Day 52 - Hills Family Christmas Celebrations

A lovely Christmas celebration with all the family in Shillington - eleven of us gathered around the table.

A variety of Christmas hats were worn, as beautifully modelled here by Lara..

and also by Lauren and James..

Janet looked particularly regal in hers when opening her gifts..

The White House 2013 Official Christmas Ornament looked good on the tree...

Thank you to everyone for a great day and generous gifts to take back to the US with us - we will look forward to testing out the recipes in the Horlicks cookbook together..

....but I am pretty sure that David will not be fighting me for a taste of the Marmite or Marmite flavoured chocolate!