Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Days 330-333 – England

August 31 – September 3, 2010 – London to Twyford to Milton Keynes, England

This afternoon Eric and I are heading to the town of Twyford to visit my cousin Maggie and her family.

Or at least I think she’s my cousin… maybe she’s my second cousin? Or is it my first cousin, once removed? I’m not sure – her mom and my mom are cousins, so we’re related somehow and that’s good enough for me.

I haven’t seen Maggie, her husband Tom and their two daughters Libby and Josie in about four years and am really looking forward to catching up.

But first, Eric wants oysters.

So before we leave London we’re having lunch at one of our favourite places – the Wright Brothers Oyster & Porter House in the Borough Market. We take a nice leisurely walk to get there because the weather this morning is beautiful – it’s hot & sunny – which is very un-London-like.

Our meal start offs with a glass of pinot grigio and a selection of rocks, aka. “oysters” – Maldons, Wild Colchesters & Speciale de Claires. Then we move on to some delicious mains. I have sardines on toast with shallots & capers and Eric has razor clams with chorizo & broad beans in a fish broth… or “deliciousness” as Eric refers to it.

We work off our lunch by taking the long way “home” where we do some last-minute prepping before beginning our next journey. It’s a super-easy one which is good – we just have a simple tube ride to Paddington station and from there a train bound for Twyford.

The hardest part is being sure we head to the correct Twyford… apparently there’s eight of them in England.

We arrive in the correct Twyford glitch-free and are greeted at the train station by Maggie, Josie and Libby. Five minutes later, we walk into their home where Maggie’s husband Tom, as well as her parents Ann & Tony, welcome us with open arms and a glass of “fizzy orange”. Tom has cooked up a feast and it would be rude of us to keep everyone waiting, so we sit down to a nice extended-family dinner.

For the next two days we are entertained by and enjoy the company of the “Twyford Gang”…

On Wednesday we take the girls to 4 different playgrounds over the course of the day, which is fun but exhausting – Libby & Josie seem to have unlimited energy, which makes Eric & I feel old and lazy. ;)

By the way, that's not a bald spot on the back of Eric's head - it's just the way the light's hitting his hair.

Thursday is the girl’s first day of school. In fact, it’s Josie’s first day of school EVER, so it’s a big day around the house. Maggie drops them off without any problems – we’ve had a sleep-in, so we miss out on the festivities – and then she takes us over to Ann & Tony’s caravan in the nearby town of Henley. We enjoy a fantastic picnic lunch and after Maggie heads back home to pick the girls up from school, the four of us visit Cliveden House, which is a massive estate on the Thames River.

Since the girls are now experts at going to school, the next morning I join them which is a lot of fun – oh the memories. We wrap up our visit with Maggie by going out for lunch at her favourite pub, before catching a train from Twyford to Milton Keynes.

Our time in Twyford is fantastic. It’s great to be able to catch up with family, eat amazing meals – including wines and cheeses from France – and lead a life resembling a bit of normalcy. Thank you “Twyford Gang” – Maggie, Tom, Libby, Josie, Ann & Tony – for your wonderful hospitality. We look forward to you visiting us in Canada sometime!!

The train rides from Twyford to Milton Keynes are generally uneventful, though we do run into a bit of confusion trying to catch the Tube from Paddington to Euston Underground… nothing worth really writing about though.

My friend Mary picks us up from Milton Keynes Central right on time and we head to her house for a light dinner, where we also help her clean out her wine cabinet. This seems like a good idea at the time, but at 11:45pm we suddenly remember we have to wake-up at 4:00am to catch the red-eye to Belfast.

Red-eye indeed, hmmmmm…

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