December 2008 Christmas in France Canada and England

Michael, Teresa (very hard to catch on film), John & Jo in Manchester

Before we left for Canada we enjoyed time with son Michael, partner John & daughter Teresa and her partner Jo. We had a busy time quickly getting our shopping done, so we could take their Christmas presents for Louise & Allan with us.

We booked our flights on the spur of the moment deciding to have time with Louise before we drove back to France. Life is short, we all needed a cuddle, Louise was home sick, and could not get home. We had some great meals together this month with our Eldest & youngest, before we left for Canada and France.

Canada & Louise, brought a sparkle to our hearts, here she is trying a fat suit on.

It was so nice to be with Louise again, we had planned one week with her, changing our minds on the day of our departure (we had not had enough time together). We stayed on for another week. The first week went far too quickly, Louise managed some time off work to be with us. It was one of her busiest weeks at work with new shows opening. The Canadian Stage Company Louise works for, were having an opening night for the magical production of "It's a wonderful Life" to which we were invited, (best seats too). We enjoyed the play very much and the party after & meeting Louise's work colleagues. Most of all we enjoyed helping her get ready for Christmas and shopping for her Christmas tree. Lots of shopping, concerts and plays during the two weeks we were in Canada.

Collecting the tree and Louise singing for charity in a carole concert.

We helped Louise & Allan choose their Christmas tree, gosh it was a very cold day indeed, it was nice to get back and enjoy the warmth of their apartment. We had fun putting up their tree, especially little memory boxes you unearth.

Louise rented a car for a few days to drive us to Stirling, we had another stage show to see.

Allan had I think 20 different costumes in his part as nurse Tickle.

Allan was working in Pantomime in Stirling theatre, he was playing Nurse Tickle, in stage version of Robin Hood. A very funny pantomime with a great bunch of actors on stage. It's always a pleasure to see live theatre especially when you are seeing some amazing talent Allan is so talented.

We enjoyed meeting Allan's family in Stirling for the first time, they were here for the afternoon performance and we the evening adult show. A birthday dinner for Allan was between shows. It was snowing outside really coming down, it was ok for our 2 hour drive back to Toronto this year.

Nice to see Louise happy and doing well. It was so nice to meet up with her friends Karen, Mike & Lisa and god daughter Sarah, what a difference you see in a child, one year on, they have been such good friends over the years.

Toronto offered a wonderful Christmas spirit, so nice to shop with Louise. We enjoyed the cinema, some wonderful nights out together. But all too soon we were on that flight back to England.

Teresa was waiting for us with a warm welcome when we arrived back in Manchester. Gypsy parents are back she shouted!

John & I enjoyed some time in Leeds, Manchester, Doncaster then back to Liverpool before our drive back to France. It was a wild week of Christmas gatherings.

Mike is in the band "Like That" and wowing their fans.

We were having dinner at my sister Marie's house when the phone rang, it was our son Mike saying "we are playing not too far away from Liverpool, in a hotel in Widnes, would you all like to come for a drink if you have finished dinner". We put our coats on and were out the door like a shot. It was around 30 minutes drive away, we took a few wrong turns but just made it in time. Pleased Mike had rang, my brother Stephen his wife Lynn were already at the hotel, also my cousin Shirley and her husband Steve. It was nice to catch up with them and we arranged to all meet up again in Feb when the band are playing in Knowsley, Liverpool, hopefully more of the family will join us.

Baby Blue - we hired this narrow boat 11 yrs ago. John & Tommy discussing boats & life on water.

Blue Pearl at Blue Water Marina, Thorne, South Yorkshire.

John & I stayed aboard Blue Pearl for one night with Sister Sharon & brother in-law Tommy. Their new boat is a credit to them, we had a wonderful time, and it was so nice to remember back to when we were moored here also for a short spell. Their boat is superb a really good fit out, with a lovely residential mooring just what they wanted. They spent their first Christmas aboard with their family enjoying every moment - perhaps one day both our boats will meet on the French waterways who knows!.

Rochdale Canal - centre of Manchester photographs captured with Mikes keen eye.

Mike & I had some fun with both our new camera's, I am looking forward to some lessons.

We enjoyed swapping Christmas presents with both of our families in Manchester. Our final stay in Liverpool with my mum. I found it so hard to say good bye to mum especially when she is not so well, we promised to be back soon in the New Year. We loaded up our car, and headed back to France. We drove 850km to St Omer we enjoyed a night here. Driving the last 1200km to Carcassonne, John & I shared the driving, we had planned to stop over, but could not face another different bed, we needed to be back home on the boat.

Carcassonne & the empty Canal du Midi - the canal re-opened in time for Christmas cruising.

Driving back through the city of Carcassonne, we were impressed to see the city ablaze with Christmas lights.

Carcassonne Port & our Christmas tree

We arrived back on the boat at midnight, the boat was so warm thanks to Alan & Beate, it was so good to be back in our own bed at last.

The following day we had eighteen visitors call on us welcoming us back it was so nice to see everyone. We finally unpacked and then fell into bed again, we were so very tired from all our travels.

Lets get ready for our Christmas I said to John, some time on our own too. The tree went up, the lights my mum bought us went on the side of the boat and then all the shopping was bought.

Ursula getting into the Christmas spirit before they left.

Ursula & Mike had bad news - daughter Natalie & David's planned wedding in Goa, India, the company which they booked the wedding through with have gone bust. Ursula & Mike quickly booked a ferry home, all our plans changed. John & I did our Christmas meal together before they left, wishing them well in all they had to do, it was a very stressful time indeed for them and the family. Good luck, we hope all gets sorted quickly.

We had many invites out during the Christmas period, many people came aboard the Moet for drinks nibbles & meals. Carcassonne was magic and Carcassonne was a good place to be a fun Christmas indeed.

Watching the fireworks on the old bridge, Jane & Mike booked a hotel room for our comfort.

Jane, Mike, Clive, Di, John & I enjoyed a wonderful Christmas eve together in the hotel, watching the fireworks from the hotel roof, opera singing side of the river added a special touch, as did much Champagne & wine helped the night flow. No one spent the night in the hotel all preferring to go back to our boats later.

Christmas Eve - lots of bubbles not just drunk, Di enjoyed a real good soak after the fireworks.!

Di loved warming up in the bath later, and some me time, till I said can I come in and capture your moment of bliss. We laughed all the way back to the port, it was such a great start to a very good Christmas indeed.

Sun was shinning during the day - drinking mulled wine, watching the skaters was wonderful

We enjoyed Christmas breakfast aboard Harvink with Clive & Di & Jane & Mike. A Christmas ham & fried eggs fresh bread (bread shops never close even Christmas day) & Champagne. John & I opted to have a Christmas dinner for two on board Moet, we enjoying a long walk after our breakfast, taking in the nice but cold weather. We spent a most enjoyable Christmas day with a superb Turkey dinner cooked just for our pleasure, followed by a lovely time opening our presents later in the evening.

Boxing day brought snow - The canal du Midi looked wonderful as was the Medieval cite.

Cité of Carcassonne in the snowCité of Carcassonne in the snow

Canal du Midi in the snowCanal du Midi in the snow

Boxing morning it was like Christmas all over again. It was snowing heavy I had much fun walking & driving taking in the atmosphere, all the shops were also open. The snow lasted less than 24 hours, and bright blue skies followed. We had a super week leading right up to New Year.

A fun filled New Years eve was spent with Earl & Fiona's families & friends in Malras

Fiona & Earl had a big family Christmas with all Earl's family and godparents staying on for New Year too. We had a wonderful time, the weather was kind and we were able to BQ outside. This year has been a time for family friends and exploring. Who knows what next year holds we know we have a busy year approaching us.

12 o'clock & making a wish from the cup - a few bottles of Champagne this party drank.

We would like to wish all our family & friends a happy Healthy 2009 - Happy Cruising too