Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Aylesbury (a long weekend in Wales)

We stayed in Reading on Thursday night after celebrating Sophie’s graduation with a Lebanese meal in the evening.  Matthew was flying over from Norway for Lauren’s wedding in South Wales and we had arranged to pick him up from Reading station after lunch on the Friday.

Lauren, my beautiful 28-year-old daughter
Unfortunately, following misunderstandings about the Heathrow/Reading shuttle coach, Matthew was an hour late, but we still made it down to South Wales before it was too dark.  We had been a bit concerned about finding our Airbnb as we knew it was in a remote location on an unlit private road where it wasn’t obvious which properties were which.

As most of the children were staying with us for the weekend, we had hired a manor house, so we could all be together.  At first, we turned up at a large stone building which actually turned out to be the gatehouse to the manor and not the manor house itself!  We found the right place in the end and were soon settled in with some good fires roaring away.

Our family weekend retreat
Lauren & Lewis had hired St Tewdrics in Chepstow for the weekend to hold their wedding and it was a brilliant choice.  The house is owned and run by Geraint Thomas and his wife and they have done a wonderful job converting the house to a wedding venue.  It overlooks the River Severn and we were reminded of our abortive attempt to get up the river on our boat from Bristol to Sharpness a few summers ago.

On Friday evening the girls from the family and the bridesmaids had dinner at St Tewdrics while we boys all went out for a few drinks and a meal at a pub in Chepstow.

The wedding went off without a hitch on the Saturday and it didn’t matter that it hardly stopped raining all day.  As it was a winter wedding, Sophie, Jo and Karen had knitted shawls for the bridesmaids. Sophie did a great job organising the yarn and the patterns and ensuring they were produced on time and with the same tension.

The shawls ready for the bridesmaids after the ceremony
One proud father

The happy couple
The siblings table - most of our children made it
It was great to meet up with lots of people we haven’t seen for a while and especially good to spend time with my oldest friends (as in friendship length), John and Miranda.

Not sure what we were doing but it was late in the evening – with John and Miranda
Karen and I stayed in St Tewdrics on the Saturday night and it was strange knowing our children were staying back at the Airbnb without us.  As Lauren & Lewis had exclusive access to the venue, we could let Buddy stay in our bedroom during the ceremony and we were able to take him out for the odd walk around the grounds every so often during the rest of the day.

Buddy dressed for the day
Lauren & Lewis hosted breakfast for the family on Sunday morning and most of the children left for their respective homes during the day.  Poor Matthew had a nightmare of a journey back to Norway as his flight from Cardiff to Amsterdam was delayed by three hours and he ended up missing the following connections.  He had to stay overnight in Amsterdam and then catch three more planes and a ferry before getting home 24 hours late   

On Sunday evening, Lauren & Lewis took us and Lewis’s parents, Richard and Kim, out for a lovely Italian meal on Cardiff Bay before we retired to an Airbnb nearby.  We were spending a couple of nights in Cardiff before heading home and had booked an Airbnb near the rugby stadium.

I had said that the wedding day went without a hitch, but I had forgotten that during the speeches I had received a message saying that the Airbnb host had cancelled our booking.  This was the first time in what is now almost 30 Airbnbs that we have stayed in that this has happened.  After the speeches I had managed to get on the internet and find an alternative house to stay in.  It turned out to be really nice and close to the city centre, so we were quite happy if slightly disgruntled that we were only offered £10 as compensation for the last-minute cancellation.

We were feeling shattered on Monday and I was really impressed Karen still went for a run around Bute Park and along part of the Taff Way.  I took it easier and just walked Buddy around the local area a few times during the day.

Crossing the Taff with the stadium in the background on one of our walks
Cardiff has a fair selection of Victorian post boxes still in use including this disused one that is being engulfed by a tree!

Sophie & Yanos had flown to Berlin early on Monday morning for a few days break from academia.  They couldn't get into their Airbnb until early afternoon so went for lunch in a local bar.  During lunch they got a message that their Airbnb had suddenly been cancelled too!  They were fortunate to find somewhere else in the same location for the same price so it worked out OK for them like it did for us.

We will probably meet up with Lauren & Lewis for a while on Tuesday morning before heading back home.

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