I was back home in the North East recently to see my dad, who is recovering from a major heart attack. He is 89 and still living at home and doing a very good job of being independent. Since my last trip 6 months ago, he has become more frail and a tad forgetful, but he still insists he does not need help. I was only allowed in the kitchen to eat the food he prepared for me with loving precision. He wouldn't even let me wash up. I did get to take him out in his car for small trips to see relatives, or do the shopping at Aldi. You know time is hanging heavy when he insists on taking their catalog home to read. I couldn't get him to stay anywhere for more than 10 minutes before he wanted to be back home. I didn't understand this until my sister in law told me that home is where my Mom is in his mind, and he just wants to be back with her.
I did score one success on this trip. I found him a mobility scooter he can use to get to the local shops. He doesn't really need it yet, but it won't be long before that short trip will be out of his range. When we got home, he took it out on the pavement to try it out. As he was backing it into his garage, he looked at me and said, " Well, it isn't as exciting as my old Yamaha 250, but I will get used to it."
Apart from seeing my Dad, I had two very special surprises. A good friend of ours, Victoria and her daughter Kaitlyn, were in Greece as a present for Kaitlyn's graduation. They ended their trip by coming up to the North East to visit me. It was a very special few days, as I got to show friends from my new home, how special my old home is. I took them to see the castles and beaches, of which there are many in Northumbeland, and we hiked part of Hadrian's wall.
We stopped in for lunch at the Battlesteads Pub in Wark, a highly acclaimed Gastro Pub and had some wonderful cheese and potted ham. The home made piccalilli tasted wonderful, but it did look a bit like cat vomit. Too much sauce and not enough pickle.
I did notice a sign in the toilet that perhaps reflects the current anti immigrant feeling in the UK.
When I go back, I always have to go for dinner at the Rat Inn, one of the best pub restaurants in the country. Their Lamb is to die for, and their beer selection is sublime. The girls ended up their brief stay tucking into the best food this region has to offer.
They promised a return visit. I hope so.
I spent some time with Terry Docherty and Pete Scott in Newcastle the following week, catching up with the local music news and trying out all the new beers and watering holes down by the old quayside.
When in London, I always try and see my two lovely friends Jill and Sarah, both from school days. I usually stay with Jill and her husband Paul, and we save one night for a few drinkies in Soho.
Last, but certainly not least, I got to meet the Lovely Hestia (Alison Cross). Now to say this lady has considerable talent, is a bit like saying the Pope is a Catholic. I love her writing, her humor, and all the little ways she has helped and encouraged me to write over the last few years. She was in London at a Tarot conference where she was presenting, and had some free time for a lunch on Sunday. I met Ali and her husband and son at the Dickens Inn. We had tried to get Jo from "A Girl's guide to turning 50" fame to join us, but we failed to let her know where we were in time for her to be there:(
To use one of Ali's expressions, I luff her. We had a great lunch and a wee walk through the deserted streets of the city, before they went on their way and I headed back to Jill's for the night.
I am now back home on Vashon and straight back into the routine.
What a memorable trip