Back On The Road!

So.. apologies this is a little late… (week 7, soon to follow)

Ellie’s Week 6

Week 6 passed in a bit of a blur, thanks to Annie and Steve’s good-natured hospitality we had a warm bed to sleep in, a roof over our heads, delicious food and all the creature comforts we could need.

The evenings were passed in laughter and amusement with much banter and quite a bit of tele-watching thrown in.  Annie cooked some lovely meals and is now more up-to-date on Coeliac friendly food than me! Everyday she would arrive home from work with some new Gluten-Free goodies, which was a real treat.  We didn’t want to take the xxxx, so Matt whipped up a tasty shepherds pie for us one evening and the night before that I made my grand culinary contribution… a takeaway curry (a much safer option than my cooking!).  Both contributions went down well and Steve didn’t even mind when I had let the cat out of the bag that Matt’s shepherds pie was in fact made of quorn mince and not real mince (Annie had been hoping he wouldn’t be able to tell the difference!).  The fact he still happily tucked in may have had something to do with the fact that Matt (who doesn’t really believe that a meal can be counted as a meal if it doesn’t contain a bit of meat) had slipped in a couple of rashers of bacon to add to the flavour… sorry Annie!!! (luckily she is not a vegetarian).

The daytimes were rather less fun as Matt and I are not good at doing nothing, but couldn’t risk going out exploring in case we missed any calls critical to Heidi’s progress, so we milled around in a rather uncharacteristic way regularly checking the phones.  The only upside was that it gave me a chance to catch up on a bit of paperwork, do a bit of writing and wistfully reminisce about our adventures in Ireland.

By Thursday we were beginning to get stir crazy, so as early as patience would permit, Matt phoned Matt from the garage and after getting a quick up-date to satisfy ourselves that they had started on the work (replacing the cam belt and timing kit) we headed into the centre of Plymouth for a quick bit of exploration.  As Murphy’s Law would have it, we were spitting distance from our destination (Plymouth Museum) when we received the long awaited call… ‘Garage Matt’ had successfully fitted the cam and timing kit and to his own astonishment was happily able to report that by some miracle Heidi had managed to escape any damage to her engine… The only thing left to do now was to track down a replacement cam shaft pulley (something that could only be found by way of a breakers yard) and then we could be on our way.

Reluctant to head straight back we allowed ourselves a sneaky coffee at the aptly named ‘Caffeine Club’ (an obvious favourite with the local students as illustrated by the many sweet flavoured hyper caffeinated concoctions) and had a quick flick round the museum before missioning it back to track down the illusive pulley.

The museum was small but very intriguing with various art exhibitions and a couple rooms on the ground floor that could have happily been mistaken for Darwin’s study.  The later containing numerous cabinets filled with seemingly random, yet deceptively logical, assortments of pinned, pickled or stuffed critters from all over the world.  The highlight of these displays was a giant skull that I naively took for a dinosaurs skull but on closer inspection I found to be the skull of a hippopotamus (rookie mistake)!  This seemly colossal skull was apparently only a small one, as they can be double the size of this which was pretty mind boggling as one of the inside molars was already bigger than my hand and the tusk was 20cm long. As well as a Matt-sized human skeleton, neighbouring cabinets also contained an array of skulls and skeletons from dolphins to horses to armadillos.  In one I found a tigers skull along with a couple of other big cats all of which seemed insignificant against the gargantuan hippo…. suffice to say if push came to shove, I would most definitely take my chances with the tiger!

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After lingering as long as our desire to get Heidi back on the road would allow, we missioned it back to start phoning around breakers yards.  Once back at ‘Hotel Holder’ we managed to track down a breaker who had the right pulley… cog… thing… and miracle of miracles they were able to send it next day delivery.

The feeling the next morning was one of nervous anticipation (or in Matt’s case anxiety)… would they actually have posted the alleged pulley? If it arrived, would it actually be the right one?

Finally the parcel arrived and after Matt had opened it and examined its contents with an apprehensive eye, his look of anxiety turned to one of jubilation and before I could blink he had leapt on his bike ready to deliver the desired part to an eagerly awaiting  ‘Garage Matt’.  That afternoon after a second bike ride, Matt arrived back with Heidi, exactly a week after we have broken down.

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On Saturday morning we said goodbye to ‘Hotel Holder’, Annie, Steve and Tilly (their lovely dog) and headed for Sussex (needless to say, I decided to let Matt drive Heidi).

Heidi ran well and come 4pm we were in Sussex and about to drive past Connies Farm, the beloved home of our farm-loving friends Phil and Alicia, so I gave Ala a quick call and we were immediately invited for an impromptu evening of Rugby watching, alcohol and banter.  We were gutted to have missed Phil, who had headed off that morning on a fishing trip, but were warmly welcomed in customary style by my lovely friend Alicia (who is in my opinion the worlds best hostess… well known for her awesome hospitality, fab fry ups and incredible picnics!).  Since we had last visited there had been an addition to the family in the form of Jem, their three month old puppy…soooooo cute!  And whilst Alicia, Matt and Sally (a friend of Ala’s) enjoyed the rugby, I enjoyed the cider and playing with Midge and Jem, with a bit of Rugby thrown in.

The next morning we were treated to a delicious coffee whilst admiring Connie’s Farm other latest addition… two lovely new shepherd’s huts (soon to be available for those looking for the full glamping experience) and had a wander round the farm to say hello to the pigs, cows and chickens happily munching away on their breakfast.

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Though heavily tempted, we couldn’t linger as we were on our way to see Kenny (Matt’s brother) and his girlfriend Alice.  We didn’t want to arrive too late as Alice who works shifts was due to be sleeping in the afternoon and we wanted to see her before she went to bed (we also wanted to avoid the peril of waking her once asleep… a sleepy Alice is not a happy one!).  As she was only doing one night shift Alice decided to mission it through, which meant that we could all go out for a well deserved and seriously delicious Sunday roast before heading en masse to visit Mel and Andy (Matt’s sister and brother in-law) and our nephew and niece Tate and Lyra.

Once at Mel’s we headed straight to the park as Matt and Kenny were very excited by the prospect of an afternoon of Aerobi-ing with Tate… I just don’t get it … wheres the fun in trying to catch something that always flies away from you?  Football followed Aerobie, Basketball followed Football and at last we were all worn out. So we headed back to Mel’s for tea, recuperation and a rendition of Mr Sneeze (Lyra loving the Mr Men almost as much as me!).

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The next day Kenny and Alice headed out to the hospital to get the results of their three month scan.  They were both soooo excited about Alice being pregnant and we waited with bated breath to hear how it went.  Early in the afternoon sound of laughter on the stairs gave the game away and we were soon treated to pics of the new foetal addition to the family and hear how it already seems to have inherited its parents boundless energy keeping a delighted Kenny and Alice fully entertained throughout the scan!  After a celebratory pizza we decided to leave the proud parents to enjoy their myriad of messages, as they received countless congratulations through every possible media, and set off for our next stop…

Ellie x


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