Journeys through the Shire

I’m slow getting round to writing this I know. Nonetheless just over a week ago I was enjoying a wonderful holiday with Man, showing him the delights of Herefordshire and a little beyond!

We started the adventure with my balloons at the airport. I won’t lie Man kind of wrecked the full impact by not texting me once he got his bags, which we had text confirmed he would do, repeatedly. As a result I wasn’t fully paying attention to deliver my delight at seeing him via the medium of dance when he walked into arrivals. A good old fashioned screech and flailing arms had to make do.

From there we went for a night in the Cotswolds, as I appreciate how tiring it can be after the long haul flights and you just want some peace and quiet. So we found that in the hotel hot tub and luckily so as driving up to Hereford the next day the windy roads got in the way of Man’s snoozing. Oops!

Whilst in Herefordshire Man met all my immediate, and a large proportion of my extended family, at my Uncle’s birthday party. A real baptism of fire, but one he excelled at – he was a hit! Not so popular was when he inadvertently ate one of my nephew’s fish fingers, a crime he was lucky to survive from unscathed. This left a lasting impression on my nephew who kept an eager eye on his food after that.

I also took him on a mid holiday holiday for some quiet time, laziness and snoozing. We went to a lovely Airbnb in Wales near Crickhowell. It was on this trip that Man discovered sheep are far smaller than he realized, not quite the size of a small pony. I also advised one definitely should not enquire about whether you can ride a sheep when near the borders – ones request can get quite misunderstood!

On the back roads of Wales thankfully the scariest thing was the size of the roads themselves, ‘this is a one way road, right?’ said Man. ‘Um no, no it is not’ I reply. From this point, having missed a turn, the GPS took us down an even more extreme country track to get back on track. I wish I could have had a camera in hand to capture the disbelief on Man’s face as we crossed an old bridge that only just allowed my Golf through with a couple of inches either side. These country roads and bridges are not a feature of Canada it seems!

The Airbnb however, was perfect in its compact coziness. A perfect Welsh cottage, stylishly decorated and a haven for nature and relaxation. Apart from when we went for a walk and found a dying sheep we had to report to the farmer. That disturbed my mind and broke from the tranquil birdsong and green fields to the harsher realities of nature. Not quite what I’d planned so it was important we headed back out and had a lovely walk along the canal. The walk was picturesque and informative about the old Canal network, primarily utilizing the old tow path as the route, although we did have a short period of walking on a country road. Allegedly walking on roads is also not a feature of life in Canada, so the stretch on which we had to do this was of concern to Man, who claims they have sidewalks (pavements. And if you haven’t seen the Michael McIntyre sketch about American words you should, this difference comes up and it’s funny). Man did grow up in the city though, so I’m not sure I believe sidewalks line all potential walking routes in Canada. Anyway, to ease ourselves after the panic of the road walking we popped in to a good old fashioned pub for a little drinky poo’s before heading back.

In Hereford Man got to meet some of my old school and college friends, where again he seemed to leave a good impression. He even became an exhibit in my friend’s daughter’s school assignment about North America. Having his picture taken to show how cool it is to hang out with a real Canadian!

The final leg of the trip came to fruition at the same dinner as the Canadian school project. Last minute we became the proud owners of two tickets to watch England v France at Twickenham in the 6 Nations and as a result it was confirmed that the last days of the visit were to be in London, well Windsor and London as it happens due to the absurdity of Sunday trains.

To get to Twickenham on Sunday in time for kick off we would have needed to leave Hereford on Saturday! As a result after some research we settled on driving to Windsor, which is on the direct line to Twickenham by train, to stay in Windsor and get to and from Twickenham by train for the match. It worked well as Man got to see Windsor too and it was less stressful from a travel perspective. My eating habits and the inability to find much food that is gluten, dairy, soy, egg, refined sugar and grain free whilst traveling did make for some hangry moments, so what we saved in train stress I probably added in hanger stress. Sorry Man! Steak and veg became a firm staple of the week.

Finally we got to Twickers and the match was phenomenal. North American sporting events just don’t get the same singing and atmosphere that you get on a major rugby international and I was so happy that Man got to experience it. Both of us had a fantastic time, again save for the minor bit of hanger that got in the way. Actually not so much hanger as nodanger (pronounce noh-dang-er – it’s important to be accurate), because the anger was induced by lack of non-dairy milk available at coffee stands! Anyway I digress from the important issues as ever.

The following day we did the London Dungeons which I haven’t done in years and is clearly quite different from what I remember – much more interactive now and with some theme park entertainment in there too alongside the suitably creepy actors and actresses. The old Brits really did have some disgustingly creative ways of inflicting pain on each other!

That night we stayed in a fabulous Airbnb right in the heart of Covent Garden that was supremely stylish. We hit some classic spots such as The Punch & Judy and the ice cream shop in Covent Garden that sold dairy free ice cream. Okay that may not be a classic but it did the trick for me. As did the Mae deli once the crowds dispersed and my crowd anxiety left me! As did the best Steak and Chips I’d eaten all week – and given I’d eaten it most days you could argue this was up against a variety of competition.

Last day we went up, up and away on the London Eye which I hadn’t done before. It was good views that allowed me to point out the few things that I could recognize before we headed back to my parents for our last night and before Man would cruelly leave me and go back to Canada. Next time he will come for longer, whether that’s by choice time will tell. Should his passport go missing whilst he’s over here and he’s unable to fly then what can one do? I shall not talk about his last day and the drive down because I can simply say I was sad and you will understand.

To brighten everything up the picture is a collage of our time in Engerland together!

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