I was not looking forward to our flight back to the UK from Orlando international airport as I had heard that it could take us up to three hours to get through security, but we sailed through in under an hour.  Our friends Russ and Gail had kindly dropped us there in plenty of time, so we had lots of time to examine the rather limited facilities.  It was an overnight flight and we arrived back in Bognor well before lunchtime, both thoroughly exhausted due to jet-lag and hardly any sleep.  I can hardly ever sleep on a plane.  It’s not the best way to spend your anniversary, either.  (Thirty two years and we can still be together virtually 24/7 without killing each other.) (Medals all round, please.)

It was lovely to be home, seeing the family and our lovely granddaughter, who had turned two while we were away and is now a regular chatterbox.  It turns out we come as a pair called Granny-Granddad and she gets quite excited when we are around.  It’s great for the ego, even if I end up playing endless matching games with her.  (I always get the yellow card in any game, I wonder if she has worked out that granny is a bit of a wuss!  It’s not as if she knows I never drive anywhere in Camel , if I can help it, don’t ski anything harder than a blue and won’t go out on my own at night in bear country….) 

Tim and I only had a few shopping days before Christmas, so we had a lot to do in the first week home.  I also had to find a dress for my son’s wedding in early February, a scary problem which I was delighted to solve in the second shop I tried, after only trying on two dresses.  Yeh!!!  I didn’t dare buy one any earlier, as travelling in the USA does not do your waistline any good at all.   I managed to get everything wrapped just in time and we had a super time on Christmas day, eating our traditional beef wellington with all the family.  

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Our daughter kindly decorated the ‘meat pie’ and, when I said that it couldn’t possibly be as good as the ski scene that she did a couple of years ago, she produced this.  (It just goes to show what a Fine Art degree at Goldsmiths can do for you.)

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It took a while and granddaughter was going nuts because she wanted to open her presents and we all wanted to be there.  

Its great now that our granddaughter is old enough to appreciate Christmas and it was a privilege to be able to watch her open all her presents.

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Her latest thing is puzzles and can do quite hard ones (for a two year old, you understand), although one Peppa Pig puzzle (for three year olds) set a challenge that the whole family could enjoy….

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We only had a month after our flight home to get fit for our skiing holiday and had intended to do a lot of cycling and walking, as we were definitely not fit after our travels.  We managed the walking ok, about three or four miles a day,  enjoying the bracing air along Bognor seafront, but winds above thirty miles an hour are not conducive of the desire to get the bikes out.

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We had a lovely three weeks after Christmas, meeting up with friends, eating at our favourite restaurants, attending Pat and Dave’s wonderful annual Curry (how two people can get about twelve different curries hot to table for about thirty people is a continual source of wonder to me).  Our son, fiancé and granddaughter came to join us for round two the next day, where Hannah provided the entertainment by borrowing ‘Wizard Tim’s’ hat.  (Not MY Tim, honest, just a very nice young man who always dresses like a wizard)

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We spent a fabulous New Year with Pat and Dave and other friends, Jo and Justin and then went on to Rye to meet up with Tim’s sisters for the Dowle annual get together.  I loved the town and enjoyed looking around, despite the torrential rain. 

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The hotel was delightful and the meal delicious and it was great fun to get together, a chance we rarely get, at the moment.

Our ski trip was fast approaching and we were booked on the Eurostar ski train, leaving on my and Rachel’s joint birthday.  We went up to London a day early, as Tim was taking me to see Matilda, the musical written by Tim Minchin, which was fantastic.  It’s amazing how they get such a fabulous performance out of such young actors.  We also caught a glimpse of some of the ‘Lumiere’ sculptures that were scattered throughout central London.  By the time we got out of the theatre, they were just about over, which is a shame, as the bits we saw were beautiful.

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The next day we met Rachel by the Eurostar terminal in St Pancras station.  It’s a beautiful space, with bars and restaurants and posh shops.  We had heard from Rachel that you are allowed to take a bottle of wine each on the train and we had a couple of bottles with us to help us both celebrate our birthdays.  It turned out that they were not allowing any booze at all on the overnight ski trains, I suspect they had suffered from extreme rowdyism in previous years.  Rachel went off to find someone to give the wine to, although the bloke at the information desk said he wasn’t allowed to take gifts.  She just left it there and, surprise, surprise, it disappeared a few minutes later.  The journey wasn’t so bad; they gave us some wine with our surprisingly tasty meal.  Rachel managed to persuade the nice attendants to give us some extra and Rachel had brought come cake.  I found out that I don’t sleep much better on trains than planes, so I was pretty brain-dead by the time the train arrived in Moutiers at 6 30 in the morning.  Our bus to Les Menuires left an hour later and we were at the resort bus station by 8 30.  We hung around there until the sport centre opened so we could leave our baggage there and then off to hire skis and hit the slopes… Sigh!  We had been hearing tales of woe about the alps…. No snow and the runs all green.  It certainly wasn’t the case then.  A nice little blizzard and white out conditions meant that sitting around drinking vin chaude in the bar seemed a much better idea.  By the time the keys for our apartment were available, we were all half asleep. 

The next couple of days had very bad weather, but after that the sun came out, the sky was deepest blue and the snow was good enough even for wussy old me. 

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Neither Tim or I were fit enough to ski many hours a day, but it was great all the same.  Rachel had to resort to doing the odd red on her own, as the old folks could not keep up with her.

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We saw Rachel off on the bus after a week and the poor girl had to head back to work, while we spent a pretty restful time, doing the odd slope and watching the snow melt in the unseasonably warm weather.  I am not sure its a good sign that the guy who runs our local bar knows what we like to drink, but we do find the Reberty end of Menuires very friendly.  The flat is extremely convenient, with the ski locker opening right onto the slope and you can ski so easily to door that I nearly hit it once.  I suspect we shall try and book the same place next year.

Now that we have all returned home, more or less in one piece, apart from creaky backs caused by the ski train return journey.  As I write this, our return to the States is less than a week away, but first it’s son Jon’s wedding, which they kindly timed to fit in between our travels.  I only hope the dress still fits after all the lovely food in France…

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