I flew home to England at the end of last month, unfortunately doctors orders "I was not to travel in the car to England " due to pain and inflammation in my spine. John & I enjoyed inviting all our neighbours from the port in Carcassonne for dinner or drinks before we left the port. We also enjoyed a very special Christmas dinner on board Barge Colibri and Bon Adventure.
John drove the 26 hours to Liverpool enjoying a new route through France and stopping over in Nevers to catch up with friends Erica & Knud on board Linquenda. I enjoyed a few extra days in Liverpool with my mum for Christmas shopping & wrapping of presents, now I was in less pain.
My sister Kathy arrived in Liverpool for our usual sisters Christmas dinner it was her turn this year to cook. Mum agreed she could do Christmas dinner in mum's, it saved us all traveling to South Wales, we had a wonderful day together.
We traveled many miles this month France, England & Canada. The weather we experienced went from 22 degree's to 30 below (Canada). We brought much luggage with us for this winter. We are having a sunshine holiday with John's school friend in the Cayman Islands what a dream. The thought of sunshine keeps us going in this cold weather, I have to say England was very mild indeed.
My mum had all her eight children (pictured) with partners, their children followed by many great grandchildren visiting at some point when I was home. Three new babies due next year add to our vast growing family. Nice when we all together.
Mum never complains having all the family over she loves spoiling us all when she can, though it is tiring when we all descend together.
Mum & sister Marie arranged for me to have an afternoon of pampering having my hair and nails done. I felt much better for my make over.
My sister in law Denise celebrated her 50th birthday inviting families & friends. We enjoyed this family night of celebrations. Denise and my brother Frank (their family above) worked very hard indeed. We enjoyed swapping our family Christmas presents on this night too. Nice to see Frank Denise & family have settled into their new home.
Following the party we were off on our travels again, leaving Liverpool for our early Christmas celebrations with eldest daughter Teresa & son Michael and their partners.
Teresa is the keeper of our car and our belongings this winter, turning their home into our home, when we are in Manchester this winter, bless them. Teresa hates her photograph being taken, so I have a hard job pinning her down, so I gave her the bubbles to open.
John enjoyed DIY work for Teresa and Louise during our stays with them. Working long hours in their jobs does not leave them much time. Mum's & Dad's are special when it comes to fixing things. For us its so nice to have the time.
We welcomed our children home from work for a change, enjoying this most simple pleasure of sharing & cooking meals together.
John and I have many trips planned for the next three months so we will be coming and going from Manchester a great deal.
We had a flying visit to Leeds, to drop off gifts and cards and see John's mum, we will be spending a week in Leeds when we get back from Canada. We are hoping to see friends & family in Yorkshire.
We slept in many different beds this month and visited many people not impossible to see all our friends or family. We felt like a real gypsy couple at times. Many people also traveled to see visit us. Even if it was just for a coffee.
I loved cooking a Sunday dinner for my mum, Aunt Pat & Terry when they turned up from Macclesfield to see us in Liverpool. I had not seen them in a few years but it was like we were together yesterday. Later that evening we were invited to sister Marie's for dessert, enjoying catching up with Marie's daughter Lisa and her children. Pat said to mum "Lily it's like coming home" mum & Pat had a wonderful time catching up.
One treat we really did enjoy was our glass apartment and the views from the 34th floor in Beetham Towers in the centre of Manchester. Enjoyed shopping in Manchester from here. Michael and partner John booked this apartment for us as a Christmas present the apartments was above the Hilton hotel. We enjoyed splendid clear views, the boys enjoying the views of the sunset and sunrise from this stunning mostly glass building.
Christmas dinner in the apartment was a thoughtful present. John, Mike Teresa Jo, John & myself thoroughly enjoyed all the treats we had for one another. Teresa & Michael took a few days off work to enjoy time with us. We enjoyed opening our presents in Teresa's the following night as we could not take our presents to Canada, we need a van for traveling back to France.
We all enjoyed food shopping in Marks and Spencer's. ( home made soup & special wine Michael brought with him from home). John & I set off for our three week trip ~ Christmas & New Year celebrations with daughter Louise who lives in Toronto.
We all enjoyed Christmas in France last year, we plan time all together next year. When we spoil them, we love being spoilt by our children.
A wonderful welcome when we arrived in Toronto, hugs galore. The Christmas tree was beaming out with love, all the added touches going into making this year end on a special note ~ what a welcome thought this was for us all.
Burr it was cold beyond this lovely warm apartment (when we figured how the heating worked). We enjoyed being spoilt by Louise her boyfriend Allan, and Karen. We in turn enjoyed spoiling them too. A lot of time, energy and effort from Louise, Allan, (both great cooks) also Louise's friends & John's family put a lot of effort into making this a magical holiday for us.
We enjoyed an evening with Louise's god daughter Sarah, a visit to the pottery work shop was a great success. Sarah choose a huge plate as a surprise Christmas gift for her mum & dad from Sarah & Louise. We had fun watching Sarah, she had set idea's of how she wanted to paint her plate> We watched as her art work unfolded. I think she thoroughly enjoyed this secret trip we were not sure if she did tell her mum where we had been that evening.
I later booked myself three afternoons for painting during our stay. I was thrilled with my four pieces of painted pottery, I left a little of the "Canal du Midi" in Louise's kitchen.
We enjoyed another night with Lisa & Mike in their down town apartment, wonderful dinner - then magic bed time stories. Sarah enjoyed a story from all us all. It was so nice catching up with these very good friends of Louise's. Sarah's plate was now fired and placed under their Christmas tree. The plate on opening brought tears to Mike & Lisa's their plate is used daily. budding artist in the making.
Canada experienced their worse snow fall this winter since 1939. We were very lucky during our visit only two days house bound due to the snow, lots more was to come we were told.
Allan was working out in Port Hope in The Capitol Theatre this December he was playing a Step-Sister in a traditional English Pantomime "Cinderella" we enjoyed meeting & spending time with Allan. His performance as one of the Step-Sister's was excellent, we enjoyed the fun & laughter Allan brought to this show, he certainly has put a glow into Louise's life. We enjoyed pub grub before Allan's second performance. We had to set off due to the weather.
Unfortunately the day of Allan's show was one of Toronto's worse snow storms in many years. Louise did very well driving us back from Port Hope, a good job we changed our show times to suit the weather. The show had to be cancelled for two days, sadly Allan & cast did not make it home that evening the director od the show booked everyone into a hotel.
Louise & John had to dig out our hire car which was buried under snow. The following morning we had to return it to the rental company, thankfully this was only down the road, but it took some time to get the car back.
I stayed at home making homemade soup for when the workers returned. I was banned from helping with shoveling snow, just in case I upset my back again. Louise & John had beaming smiles when they arrived back home they had enjoyed the fun and all the hard work. We settled in for a day & night around the Christmas tree in our PJ's with a nice meal & bottle of red wine and watched the snow fall & fall.
The Canadian Stage Company were Louise works invited us to their Christmas party. It was nice meeting Louise's boss Christina also Louise's work colleagues, We enjoy a tour of the building & Louise's office. After the party we enjoyed our special seats in a box at the theatre. The play "Little Shop of Horrors" was well performed indeed, we loved the huge tree centre stage. We followed the show with a Thai meal which is one of my favourite foods.
John & I are so privilege to be included so much in our children's and their friends lives. Richard Bach said " The bond that links your true family is... respect and the joy in each other's life". Nice to see joy back in Louise's life.
The restaurant below Louise apartment was open (yes Xmas Day), we thoroughly enjoyed starting our Christmas day with a difference, breakfast out. Our Christmas day cannot be explained in words since it was filled with love and magic and some special moments, how do you explain such a day I can't ~ I am totally lost for words ~ we hold this day close to our hearts ~ along with the good food, really nice wine & Moet Chandon, Champagne. It reminded me of family Christmas's at home in Leeds and Louise captured all of this for us.
We visited Doreen, her daughter Sheila and her boyfriend Roger. Our first visit to Canada was for three weeks back in 1988, when we stayed with John's Auntie. It was our first trip across the Atlantic and one holiday which holds dear in our hearts, great when we manage to see the family.
Aunt Doreen is getting ready to move in with Sheila her home has now been sold. Sheila is having her lovely home adapted ready for mum to move in. So they are undergoing lots of changes right now.
We enjoyed two wonderful nights with Sheila, her son's and their families, always enjoying the special evenings Sheila prepares for us when we visit.
We were invited to stay over in Hamilton for more Christmas celebrations with Judy & Paul. Enjoyed catching up with these good friends in Canada. We first met them in St Jean de Losne, France, we shared the winter of 2004/5 together on pontoon D, the weather was not much different, hence why our boat is now in the South of France.
Judy & Paul are busy planning retirement with their first year to be in France aboard their boat "Normaddie" they hope to bring the boat south at some point... We only came to France for one year ~ we are now heading into our fourth year... We are not always able to see them in France so this time was special we had a lot to catch up on.
When we had a spare few minutes John enjoyed computer lessons this was welcome news for us all! We had fun time together with the computer, oh what bliss having a fast permanent connection our's is so slow on the boat, we also have limited use. Louise & I so enjoyed cooking, lots of shopping together. We sampled some really superb new Indian, Italian, French. restaurants during our stay. Alan and Louise share a passion for cooking and kitchen gadgets was the theme for their present list this year. Oh our ever expanding waist line.
Karen treated John & I to a tour of the "Steam Whistle Brewery", she used to work for before making the big time in the theatre world. I don't usually drink beer but I thoroughly enjoyed a couple of pints during the tour (Hic). We later met up with Louise after she finished work, enjoying dinner out with Karen before her show.
Second City show "Face book of Revelations" written and performed by Karen and the cast. we thoroughly enjoyed the show also the half hour improvisation at the end, a stunning performance from Karen a Yorkshire lass herself, she has lived in Toronto since she was a little girl.
It was a good day when these two friends met on a training course at Second City Theatre. We enjoyed a New Years Eve party in their apartment ~ Party was to welcome in the New Year also meet the Big Plunks (mum & dad). PARTY TIME...