This last weekend we all got together as a family (apart from Andy's son Harry who lives in Guernsey). Despite some wet weather we managed countryside walks, Monopoly, river swim, barbecue and DVDs.
It doesn't happen often, but it's fun when it does!
Run a long now
My only other Park Run was two years ago when I last visited Hereford. That run was with Josh who dropped out halfway, injured. This time I was joined for the 5km by my brother Dave (and his dog Evie). It was great fun to run with him - running is a hobby we share but had never done together before today. We both made it round in under 30 minutes, though Dave was ahead of me by the end.
Here in Hereford
We're continuing to enjoy our time in Hereford. It's a lovely city with parks and a river within walking distance of my brother's house. Esme has taken JD swimming in the river, despite the weather becoming little cooler than of late. Hereford cathedral is also eye-catching and Jiajia loves exploring the local charity shops. Josh is a life-guard at a nearby swimming pool, so JD and I had a fun swim at the pool, which has a wave machine and water chute tubes.
Lights and heavy
We are now staying with my brother Dave and his family in Hereford. We had a nice day out today visiting Skenfrith Castle, swimming in the river there and enjoying a picnic. My nephew Josh used his police contacts to give JD a visit to police station including sitting in a police car and turning on the lights and siren. And Dave set up a visit to a forklift factory allowing JD to ride in one of his favourite vehicles.
We've also enjoyed some yummy food, both at his home and out at restaurants. I may be getting too fat to tackle Saturday's Park Run!
Tennis and table tennis
We really enjoyed our day with the Sams today.
Aled is a qualified tennis coach and gave JD a free lesson at his club in the morning, and then teamed up with him at table-tennis in their garden in the afternoon. JD loved it.
A walk through the woods followed by an ice-cream and a delicious barbecue rounded off a terrific day.
Today we drove with Krista to a nice pub "mid-way" to our new host Cat and our mutual friend Jo and her family. Cat's family are all away at the moment in various parts of the world, enabling her to open her house to us for a few days. From there we will visit our old friends, the Sams family. So far, JD has coped really well despite the ever-changing friends and beds.
Locks and quays
We are spending a lovely few days with my friends Krista and Stuart in their picturesque house in Chippenham. They have arranged some great little outings eg JD getting drenched in the water playground and a visit to a set of canal boat locks including a short barge ride.
Low prices, low ceiling
We are spending a few nights at this amazing 15th Century house in a small Wiltshire village called Bromham. It's our first time to stay at an Air BnB property and we have been impressed by the warm welcome and comfortable room (despite the original low ceilings and uneven floors). We are enjoying exploring nearby villages and towns.
Today we got to see my brother Andy's new house. He and his family have been looking for their dream house for about four years but have now finally found the right home in the right location. And while my sister-in-law Ali took JiaJia to Winchester's charity shops, Andy, Louie and Daisy took JD and I to Winchester's very interactive Science Museum and Planetarium for a fun visit.
You must be juking?
Eye swat horse fly
A terrific day in the capital today, starting at the London Eye and wandering down the Thames. As planes flew in formation overhead to celebrate 100 years of the RAF, JD was more interested in popping huge bubbles blown by a street artist while JiaJia was busy taking in a Picasso exhibit at the Tate Modern.
Later we explored the HMS Belfast before heading for my Aunt's house for a meal and sleep-over. Open-topped bus and river cruise tomorrow.
Jiajia is a huge fan of UK Charity shops, but found today's Car Boot Sale - her first - even more enticing. Items were even cheaper there, and the sellers were willing to bargain. We wandered around for over an hour and bought all sorts of "unnecessary" items to take back to China. We got a few bargains too - a couple of Chinese plates worth a few hundred pounds for £3 and a new Monopoly set for £2.
Ratching it up
We're spending a few days at my friend Ratch's. Ratch and I exchange emails once or twice a day while in China, which is more contact then I get from anyone else! It was great to visit her and husband Steve.
We booked a surprisingly cheap flight to the UK on a newly opened route to the UK via Changsha. The one downside though was a 10-hour layover in Changsha en route. However, the airline promised a hotel room for us to get some sleep and luckily that gave me the chance to watch a sensational England win in the World Cup at 3am!
We finally arrived in the UK yesterday to a really warm welcome from my parents - JD's grandparents - at Heathrow. We drove together to their home.
JD, JiaJia and I are traveling to the UK today on Hainan Airlines.
It's been two years since I was last home, so it's pretty exciting.
Meet a Nita
JD and I met up with my old friend "Nita" the other day, along with her husband and cute 1½ year old daughter. I first met Nita some 13 years ago and we've stayed in touch ever since. I've known her as a young student, a fresh-faced teacher, a wife and now a mother. They are such a lovely little family and it was so nice to catch up on their news and for JD to meet them again.
Paul Hider lives and works in Kunming (SW China) and regularly updates this blog about his life there.
Past blog entries