London, England (49 Theseus Walk)
I should have expected that traveling by train to Wales on the 23rd of December was going to be a challenge. When I arrived at Euston Station it was packed with people who were heading out of London. I had a bit of trouble getting my pre-purchased ticket from the ticket machine at the station so had to buy a new ticket before boarding the train.
When I boarded the train I found that it was packed with people. I sat on my suitcase (no vacant seats) until we reached Crewe two hours away. Fortunately I was with a group of people with a good sense of humor so the time passed quickly. Eventually I arrived at Abergavenny where I found a taxi to take me the rest of the way to the house that Prean and Viktor are leasing.
Joining us this year for Christmas was their friend Sabrina. We all got along very well and managed to put together an evening meal from items we brought with us. Tomorrow we will visit Waitrose and buy more food including what we need for our Christmas dinner. The fireplace was essential to warm up the living room (also referred to as the lounge) while we visited.
Sabrina and I each had our own rooms and Prean and Viktor slept at a neighbor’s home since they were away for the holiday. Fairly typical where neighbors become good friends and help each out throughout the year. In fact, three of their neighbors will be joining us for Christmas dinner.
On the 24th, Shopping at Waitrose was fun. Sabrina was very organized and brought with her a list that we put together so we have everything we needed. No quick trips to a nearby market. We were staying in a very remote part of Wales and it was important to plan ahead before leaving the house. Waitrose was crowded with holiday shoppers, but the friendly Waitrose staff was there to help us out and we were in and out in no time.
I fixed french toast for breakfast both on Christmas Day and the day after, by popular demand. Always an interesting exercise to cook something in an unknown kitchen, but I managed to complete the task with the tools available. Having access to the neighbor’s kitchen for cookware and odd and ends made our experience so much the better.
No TV in the house and we relied on conversation to pass the time. Also a few naps by all of us as time permitted. A neighbor took Prean, Viktor and Sabrina on a hike up in the hills one day (while I napped in the lounge) then took us on a tour of the town of Hey on the 26th. I forgot my phone so don’t have any pictures of our visit. He then took us on a tour of his home that is near to ours. The home was quite large and said that he employed two gardeners to maintain the gardens and fields.
Our Christmas dinner was a success. Peter and Ann, who live a short walk away, joined us as well as well as Howard who lived up the hill. Conversation was lively as well became acquainted as the day progressed. The dinner, with many courses prepared by Prean, filled us up. Then we had two desserts. Christmas pudding (with brandy sauce) and mince pies.
The kitchen sink backed up earlier in day but Peter, a retired plumber, got it working again. Now sure how we would wash all of the dishes with a plugged sink. Sabrina did most of the washing up since Prean and Viktor were exhausted from the day’s activities. Viktor had become ill on Christmas eve but improved dramatically by the time Christmas Day rolled around. Prean was up early to start on making our dinner.
Again, we enjoyed having a fireplace that we kept burning all day and into the night. The heating in the house, provided by a boiler and registers, kept the rest of house house somewhat warm, was not enough. The fireplace provided a central place of comfort as we enjoyed conversation and naps. Several times various people fell asleep while we visited in the evening.
We kept our Christmas simple and our only event was the Christmas dinner. No tree, decorations, presents, etc. to distract us while we rested, visited and relaxed in the Wales countryside. I enjoyed myself very much during this visit and look forward to returning later next year.
I discovered that there was no train service back to London until the 27th, so I stayed an extra day. This actually worked out well. To leave on the 26th wouldn’t really have given me the full experience of a holiday visit to Wales.
On the 27th, Sabrina drove us (since she was the only one with a car) to take Viktor and I to Abergavenny where we caught a train to London. Prean and Sabrina will stay longer and will return to London in a few days. Viktor has to work on the 27th and I needed to check into my flat in Islington, near King’s Cross station.
Our train ride back to London involved two transfers and we were able to make both transfers successfully. We parted at Paddington station and I headed to my flat for my check in.
When I arrived at my London flat I was going to take shower but discovered that I couldn’t fully adjust the temperature of the shower, so it was a very warm shower. Then discovered the heat in the flat was not working. But because of my time in the country home in Wales, I was used to being cold part of the time. I’m still waiting for both of these items to be fixed as I write this update on the 28th.
The bed seems comfortable and enjoyed a long nap after my shower. Not sure what I’ll do between now and the 8th of January when I leave for Cyprus, but I’ll find something to keep me busy. After all, I’m in London and there is always something to keep me entertained.