Sunday, January 19, 2014

Over The Pennines for a Family Christmas

December 22nd my brother came over from Barnsley He joined me at the care home to have a visit with my Mum and then take me with him to Elswick in Lancashire, where my sister lives. 
It is a beautiful drive through the Vale of York where the views go on for miles.
Then we headed over the Pennines. The Pennines are know as the backbone of England and separate Yorkshire from Lancashire.  Since the War of the Roses there has been a friendly rivalry between the two counties.  My Mother is from Yorkshire, and that is where we lived when we moved to England, when  I was seventeen.  My sister went to college in Lancashire and married and settled there.   The scenery is wonderful and the sky was especially dramatic on this day.  

The M62 is  busy highway that allows travel across England. 
Soon we saw signposts to familiar places and I was surprised to once again see Horwich mentioned.  My friend Carole's hometown just keeps popping up in my life. :-)
We were very lucky with the weather, especially as England had been experiencing freak storm and flooding.  We did get a little rain at one point and suddenly this huge factory loomed ahead, surrounded by mist.
Finally we left the main motorway and were on the country roads leading to Elswick.
We arrived just in time for tea. Geraldine had a completely stellar meal awaiting us. Roast pork and crackling, roast potatoes,veggies and for dessert, an incredibly light, sweet and sticky delight.  She had made us a home made treacle sponge and custard!
Memories of school dinners surfaced as we enjoyed  each mouthful.

Monday the power went out and we watched the workmen dig up the road across from their house. 
I went into Preston with Steven and managed to get my last few gifts for Christmas. I saw the market there, which is huge, and also visited the modern shopping mall.  It was nice to get to see this city.  My cousin lives here, and it is also where my friend Mik hails from, (he is married to Carole from Horwich lol)
Here is an impressive pub opposite the shopping centre. 
 Inside the mall was lovely and warm, and the decorations were quite impressive.  Christmas was in the air. 
Hardier shoppers wandered the outside market for bargains.
The market was very busy  
We got all our errands run, and even picked up the turkey from the farmer who raised it.  We met him in a pub car park on our way back home and the deal was done.
We arrived home and were surprised there was still no power. By tea-tiime we heard it was expected to be back on around 10:30 so we all walked around the corner to the pub.  The Ship is just minutes from Geraldine's door and by this time Steven's sister had arrived, as had my nephew Kevin.  So there were six of us for dinner and we had such a wonderful meal together.  We got home to a dark house and the power finally came on around 12:30.  It was a great excuse for a good night out.
Paul arrived on Christmas Eve and our company was complete
This was the first Christmas I had been with my sister and brother in England for many years.  It was truly a blessing and we had the most amazing time together, fine food, drink and so much love and laughter.
Christmas dinner was a feast. We started with Kathy, Steve's sister's piece de resistance, scallops and bacon.
It was so good.  Then we had a breather while the main course came together. It was a family affiar.
The table setting was lovely and we shared a toast to good times and family gatherings.
Len and I stayed with the Hargreaves until Sunday, December 29th.  My sister made sure I compiled a list of where I was going on my journey so she could keep track of me just in case I dropped off the face of the earth.  She really looks after me. I also used her printer to print off my train tickets and hostel reservations too.  It was so great to get those jobs done. 
I packed my bag and when it came time to say good bye we said what a special time we had had together and how lucky we are to all get along so well.
Back in Len's trusty car, we set off for Leeds, where I would stay for a few precious days with my college friend Jill. 
That is my next story.

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