Life out of Cyprus - July 2001

July 8th:

It feels like months since we've been back in the UK though it's only a week. We're staying with my parents in Birmingham at present, and have been getting in touch with lots of old friends - we've been out for a meal with three different families in the past five days already. We've bought about 50 books at charity shops etc, hoping for several more on our travels. We have a whole suitcase intended for books to take back with us!

For the first five days here, the weather almost rivalled Cyprus with 27-29 degrees C and high humidity, but now it's been grey and we've even seen some rain, the first we've seen since early May, so quite a novelty for us.

We're hoping to meet plenty of home educating families in the next few weeks, whom I had only previously 'met' via email lists. On Monday we're spending the day in Manchester as Richard has a meeting there. Then we plan to drive on to St Andrews in Scotland to stay with my grandmother who is 93 and lives in a warden-controlled flat.

Then we return via Leicestershire next Thursday where we're staying overnight with some old friends. Then back to Birmingham for a rest, I should think ! The following week we're off to Sussex to stay with Richard's mother, then back to Brum for nearly a week, during which time we're going to get to Milton Keynes one day, then finally we're going to Norfolk before finally seeing some old friends in Ipswich and then sailing from Harwich for our return trip. We'll be exhausted by the time we get back to Cyprus, I should think...

July 30th:

It's been a busy month but relaxing too. We've counted up twelve home educating families we've met for the first time, all of whom I 'knew' previously via internet mailing lists. What wonderful people they all were! All different in educational approaches and general family style, yet all friendly, welcoming and so interesting to talk to.

Tim by the ruins of St Andrews Cathedral in ScotlandThree of the families we met were in Scotland, not too far away from where my grandmother lives in St Andrews. She's quite frail now - she's in her mid-nineties - and is living in a very nice warden-controlled flat, but it was lovely to see her. It rained quite a bit, but we enjoyed browsing the shops, some of which I remember from my childhood. Tim and I even took a walk to see the ruined cathedral.

Daniel jugglingWhile in Birmingham we spent time with relatives, and Daniel had an instructive afternoon learning some basic juggling techniques from one of my brothers. He's been wanting to learn to juggle for some months now, using courses he's found online, but it was useful to have a real person demonstrating and giving him some tips about how to get started. For the rest of our time in the UK, Daniel patiently practised, and seemed to develop new skills every day.

We also managed to catch up with several friends from the past. It's so good to sit down with people we know well, and find that the years disappear as we talk - the only mild surprise being that their children are so much older and bigger!

We spent some time in Sussex with Richard's mother, and a day with his brother and his wife, about an hour's drive away. They have a rather nice electronic piano, so Tim spent most of his time playing that, although we did manage a walk around the local lake where we saw some ducks and swans.

Finally, with the car absolutely packed to the limit with books and clothes, and various pieces of equipment Richard had bought for work, we drove East to Norfolk where we had a couple of days looked after by yet another home educating family, and then had a brief visit with my godfather (now very frail with Parkinson's disease) and his wife, and their son and his family who lived nearby, and whom we had got to know in previous years when they were working in Cyprus.

And then on to the final stage of the journey: a ferry to Holland, so we can drive back to Cyprus by an entirely different route. The car has done brilliantly; nobody would guess it was eleven years old, and it's quite amazing how much luggage we have managed to pile into the back!

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