I'm back, I'm home after an emotional and at times hard holiday, but one that I wouldn't have missed for the world. It gave me a glimpse into my lovely Mum and Dad's world. Introduced me to their many, many wonderful friends and helped me understand a bit of their lives I had never been a part of before.
We went out on coach trips on some of the days. Here is grey and drizzly Portsmouth, this is HMS Warrior in the dock a beautiful old ship. I saw bits of Lovely Hubby's past (he's ex Royal Navy) and took photos of his old stomping grounds where he shyly admitted to having one or two drinks with his friends.
We nipped over to Rome to see the Sistine Chapel ......
... well really we stopped in Goring on Sea to see the only known reproduction of the Sistine Chapel ceiling in the English Martyrs Church. The work of one dedicated man, Gary Bevans, who spent five and a half years painting his parish church with an exact replica. Absolutely wonderful.
On the days without planned coach trips me and Mum ventured off on our own. We went to Weald and Downland Open Air Museum to see the lovely old buildings and farm animals. The sun shone and we enjoyed coffee and cakes in the grounds. We called in at a Garden Centre for lunch and then the next day got caught in the rain over and over again in the centre of Bognor Regis and spent far too much time in the bookshop sheltering from the downpour.
Yes, the diet went to pot this week, what with coffees and cakes and the wonderful food at the hotel, and the alcohol in the bar each night, what did I honestly expect!!
Me and Mum shared a dining table all week with Mum and Dads good friends David and Ruth, what a lovely wicked dry sense of humour they both have, such a lovely couple. So we enjoyed fine dining and even finer company.
Lovely Hubby joined us on Friday, it was the anniversary of his lovely Mum's death and there was no way in the world we were going to be apart, so I skipped across the aisle to join him on his table in the dining room. He insisted on a photo and as I didn't have the customary cabbage to hand, the drinks menu came in very handy!!
So of course I had to get a snap of him propping up the bar!
As is customary on the last night all the men wore bow ties and posed for the obligatory photo. A fine selection of happy chappies. It took us girls a long time to get them to keep still for this photo!!
There's just one man missing from this photo, but he was there in so many ways. He was there in the dances that he had taught the group to do, in the words of the songs that the singers sang, he was there when Mum got changed each evening into her posh frocks, and I could imagine his smile and the twinkle in his eye as he filled with pride, walking down to dinner with his lady on his arm
He was there in everyones memories of holidays gone before.
On the last day we waved the coach off after breakfast, back to Manchester with it's precious load, and we set off for Arundel Castle. The weather was lovingly kind to a girl who had had such a tough week and we basked in the unusually warm October sunshine as we walked the beautiful grounds.
We marvelled at the wonderful old castle, chapel and home, it's beautifully laid out veggie patches, gardens and orangeries and we drank coffee and ate shortbread in it's lovely restaurant, and then we climbed the steep and winding stone staircases to the very top turrets, feeling the history in the worn treads and gazing at the fine old paintings of some of the folk that had also trod those very steps. And then all too soon it was time to head for home.
A wonderful week and lovely company. Thank you Mum for letting me step into yours and Dad's world, I wouldn't have missed this opportunity for anything. And thank you to all your friends for the warm welcome.
I have to go now .... Lovely Hubby is knocking at the door of our future.
We have new plans, plans that involve lots of saving and working towards our shared future, plans that take us closer to family and our roots. Because that's really what life is all about sharing ... sharing lives and time, building and sharing memories of past, present and future.
Without the folk we love around us the world would be a bleaker place.
We are so blessed.