Sunday morning we were up at 3:15 am and heading to Glasgow. Kate is such a star to be willing to drive us for a little over an hour, at that time of the morning. Millie was easy to rouse because it was her birthday. However, once we were on the plane she slept the entire journey.
We arrived at Gatwick around 8:15 am. The driver who was to pick us up the previous night was going to be late because he had a drop off before he could collect us. So we got a treat at Costa coffee and waited for him.
The drive back to St Leonard's was brutal, mainly because the kids had forgotten how to behave in a car with a total stranger. At one point I messaged Stuart who responded with a phone call to speak to each child. Whatever he said worked for a while, but when we were about 10 minutes from Grandma and Grandpa's they lost their minds yet again. The whole experience was exhausting.
I unpacked while the preparations for birthday party continued. We all met Hope and started to acquaint ourselves with her. She was a bit stand offish at first, but vwarmed up to the kids very quickly.
The birthday party was a big success. Millie's cousins; Bella, Sophia and Eliza, along with Daisy and Xinia, our friend Sam's daughters, were all there to help her celebrate. Grandma had many games planned and food for all of East Sussex. It was great and Millie loved every second of it. Once the party was over, we started the family BBQ. By the time everyone was gone, we were all ready for bed.
We were up on Monday morning and off to Ashford to go to the outlet stores. Both Jack and Stuart needed to get clothes for the family wedding we would attend on Saturday. We had great success and even bought some other things the kids needed, such as school shoes. Jack's foot measured a size and a half larger than the shoes he wore on the last day of school, which was June 23rd. So either his foot has grown that much since the last day or he was wearing shoes WAY too small for him for quite some time.
Once our shopping was finished we had lunch at Pizza Express. Stuart and I shared a gluten free pizza which was delightful. After lunch it was time to head back to Highwoods. Grandpa was there and ready for a trek in the woods. Once we were deep in the woods, wellies and all, we played ball in the school field and picked blackberries. We may have eaten every one we picked. It was a good time to have the kids out and have a run around. We went back to the house for dinner. Baths and bed followed shortly for all of us.
Tuesday morning we were up and out by 9 am. We went to look for a bike for Hope's birthday. Since Stuart wouldn't be here in October he decided he would help her pick it out and get it now. Jack and Millie got fussy and then I reminded them that their dad is with them all the time and they needed to let Hope have this time with her dad. They seemed to understand a bit. The dynamics of the three kids started to show through on Tuesday. They took their place in the birth order. It was a bit strange.
After the bike hunt we went to Eastbourne to collect Granny and have lunch. We stopped on the pier for a bit and played at the 2 pence machines. It was no different than going to any other fun zone and blowing a little bit of money, but the kids had a blast. We had lunch at a buffet called Cosmos. We sat right next to the buffet and now have determined we can never eat at a buffet again. It's appalling what people do to the food on a buffet. Ick! We ended our time with Granny up at Burling Gap. It's always a nice place for a coffee. This particular time the kids were able to walk down to the beach for a bit. It was windy, as usual.
Once we were home, the kids started in on crafts with Grandma.
Stuart and I got ready to have an evening out with Nathan, Sam and Craig. We headed back to Eastbourne for dinner, drinks and old times. We had a fantastic night. We are all a bit older, but maybe still not terribly wise. It was a good night as we didn't get home until after midnight.
On Wednesday we headed to Henfield for the day. Digby and Janie, friends of Grandma and Grandpa's, had a BBQ. Sadly it rained most of the day. But the food and company were good. Janie and Digby's granddaughters were there. Hope, Jack and Millie enjoyed playing with them.
Thursday morning we went to shop for clothes for Hope and then to see the Emoji Movie. We had lunch, then came home for Hope to get a hair cut. We just chilled around the house and prepared for Hope to go home. This was more difficult than I thought it would be. Sibling dynamics were in full force. The kids had such a wonderful time together. Jack may have had the most difficult time understanding it all. Hope adored Millie and carried her everywhere. Jack, on the other hand, was being a boy through and through. Therefore Hope wasn't as fussed with him. He kept saying to me that he thought she didn't like him and all he wanted was for her to like him. He's a bit sensitive. She did like him, but it didn't look the way he thought it should.
Friday morning we were all up early. Stuart, Hope and Jack headed to the west side of the country while the rest of us headed to Surrey for cousin Amie's wedding festivities. Stuart and Jack dropped Hope off at her house just after noon and then headed to Haslemere for Amie and Jon's wedding. Amie is Stuart's cousin. This wedding has been on the books for two years and it had finally arrived.
We all arrived just before 4 pm. We had picked up Granny and met Stuart and Jack at the hotel. It was a lovely old farm estate that looked as if it had been recently renovated. We were in a family room, where there was a pull out sofa for the kids. Stuart went down to the dining room to have a cup of tea with his mum and grandma, while I stayed in our room and let the kids watch Netflix.
We had dinner with Stuart's great aunties and the rest of Karen's family. It was a lovely meal and excellent conversation. The difficult part was sorting the bill at the end. The poor guy who was trying to separate our meals was flustered to say the least. He finally got it all squared around and we all retired for the evening.
Saturday morning we all met for breakfast at 8 am. Stuart, the kids and I decided we would have a swim for about an hour. It was an indoor pool so the weather didn't matter much, but it was a lovely day.
When we were heading to the pool we ran into Barry who let us know that Granny had taken a fall. She banged up her knee and hit her head. This hotel had way too many steps for the number of older people we had in our party, and the Steps were not marked very well. So unfortunately it was decided that Granny would go to the emergency room to get checked out. Stuart followed but she ended up not being seen. There would have been a two hour wait and Granny was having none of that, considering the wedding was due to start at 1 pm and when Stuart got to her it was 12 pm.
We were to leave for the church at noon in order to get there with time to spare. As you can guess, everyone was terribly frazzled. I felt so bad for Audrey (Granny). She had a good sense of humour about it all, but I know she hated it that people were worried about her.
We didn't leave at noon, and by the time we did leave Stuart had arrived back at the hotel with Granny. Karen stayed with them and helped Audrey get dressed. The ended up getting to the wedding at 1:07 pm. Stuart had to have driven like a bat out of hell. Soon after they were seated, the bride arrived and came down the aisle. It was a bit like a scene from Four Weddings and a Funeral. The wedding ceremony was beautiful.
We all exited the church and threw rose petals at Amie and Jon as they came out of the church. They then entered their wedding car and headed to The Barn, the reception hall. The thing that I love about an English wedding is that it lasts all day long. We had Pimms and Proseco, and stood in the lawn area until 4 pm, when they served our first meal. It was a set dinner and was wonderful. The kids had little gifts at their seat.
Once dinner was over our table was removed to make space for the dance floor. We danced until we could dance no more. Our hotel was about a 20 minute drive from the reception hall. Although taxis were booked to pick up many people from the family, Stuart ended up being the taxi service as the hired one never turned up. He made his last run at 1 am. Ugh!
It was a stupendous day, a perfect way to end an exciting week.