We returned on Saturday from a very restful three weeks in the UK.
The first week we were spoilt rotten in Clydach by old friends who opened their comfortable home to us, cooked wonderful meals and sent us off exploring in their car. The weather was a bit lousy, but it's always wet in the Dan-yr-Ogof caves and we followed up our visit with Gwilym's dream "pub lunch".
Next came the UFM Family Conference which was a good time. Gwilym was in charge of the older Youth Stream, aided and abetted by Catrin. The conference was held in a de Vere conference centre which was in beautiful grounds in a lovely Surrey village, but the rooms were in dire need of redecorating. However the food was good and the conference encouraging.
We always come away feeling very daunted by what some of our colleagues have to deal with - we really do have a cushy number here in comparison - and I STILL got burnout!
Meanwhile my summer carbuncle - well, while at UFM I finished my eight day course of augmentin, to no great discernible effect, so on the Wednesday I traipsed through the village to the surgery and was seen by a very good doctor who prescribed a ten day course of flucloxacillin. I finished this on Saturday and as I write there has been a great improvement, but I still would like to see my doctor this week and get her opinion on it.
I may need to take up arms against the staph aureus that could be lurking in the more tropical parts of my body in order to avoid getting another of these things in the future. This would mean washing routinely with medicated soap. Anyway, we'll see.
After saying goodbye to Gwilym, who left to spend four weeks in musical mission in Belgium and Holland, the third week was spent in Cardiff in the gorgeous home of some old friends. We managed to see the ugly sisters and some nephews and had a quick trip to Cardiff Bay in glorious sunshine. Then Catrin went down with a sore throat and this curtailed our excursions, enforcing restful musical, literary and televisual pursuits. Catrin then went off to run amok with some friends in Hastings while we spent our last day in Cardiff catching up on the things we had not been able to do in the week. We had coffee in the renowned cafe of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, we explored the civic centre, we visited the Impressionists in the National Museum, as well as the excellent Quentin Blake exhibition, we had lunch in the old library, we explored the market and the arcades, we bumped into neighbours from Pessac and freaked everyone out by doing the bise by the fish stall, we had coffee in one fo the trendy new coffee bars and then returned to the house to clean and pack.
Saturday was a big day. For some reason that seemed sensible at the time I had booked a flight home from Liverpool, so we caught the 8am bus through persistent drizzle to the railway station, then had a lovely journey up through the borderlands to Chester, then to Liverpool. Lunch at Nando's was pretty exotic for us, then a quick wander through the centre of Liverpool before getting the bus to the airport. Our plane was delayed by heavy summer air traffic, so we arrived in Bordeaux at about 10:30 and by the time we'd travelled home on bus and tram we got in after midnight.
We were only away for two Sundays, the first was spent in Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Swansea, with the redoutable Steve Levy and then in Bethel Clydach where the world famous Mark Barnes was preaching. Then in Cardiff it's difficult. Which old friends do you aim to see? In the end it was Highfields and a friend in his early twenties sat by me during the service, then I could catch up with another friend in her late eighties after the service.
We're always amazed by the low price of food in the UK, and every time we visit now I'm weighing up the possibilities for retirement. We enjoy Cardiff very much, but I am not convinced by the prospect of retiring there. At least, not without a car.
Now we are not back in harness for a week or so, so yesterday before the service we again went out for lunch, this time street food - burritos - before taking a little trip on the BatCub, the Bordeaux water-bus, out to the Cité du Vin for a cup of tea. The service went well, James seems to have been a pair of safe hands this summer and it was good to see folk again, though lots are on holiday.