First of all, flying into Birmingham was not expensive and the fare included my checked bag and a reserved seat, so all in all it was cheaper than EasyJet's fare + luggage + premium boarding. The train station is in the airport. It costs just over £11 for Northampton and takes a little less than an hour. It looks like the trains are frequent. A quick call to Geoff to let him know when I'd be in and he picked me up at the station. But if he hadn't been working from home, I could have caught the 9 or 9A bus and gotten off almost in front of their house just a few minutes later.
It was great, however to be picked up and after a late lunch of stew and a cup of tea, I headed off to pick up Aurelia at the nursery. I had about an hour or so to play with her before Claire got home. The house is lovely; any left over boxes are out of the way and the carpet upstairs looks great. Geoff left after dinner to pick up Charlotte at the mid-way pick-up spot. That way no one has to drive very far. Charlotte and Aurelia are always excited to see each other so they were late to bed.
Aurelia is a real chatterbox. In French. In English. The only thing is she's not quite intelligible yet. You can catch a word here and there. Sentences. Verbs in English are almost always in the progressive form. She counts: Un, deux, three, sept, quatre, ....
Aurelia, though, was still early to rise in the morning and came into my room to cuddle.Saturday, we dodn't do much; it was a lazy day, except for Geoff, who managed to replace the shower pump in the main bathroom and put the cat flap on the kitchen door so that they can now close that door and keep the draft out. He, at least, was very productive. Charlotte converted a box into a car and drove Aurelia. THen Aurelia was allowed to drive Charlotte and they both decorated the car. Pizza dinner was capped with a wonderful fireworks display that we watched from the warmth of the kitchen. Don't know exactly where it was, but it was very long and pretty.
On Sunday, the car became a plane when they lifted the side flaps and redecorated. Later in the day, we went to Toys'R Us and they played in the cars there, but I think they had more fun in their own car.
Sunday, Geoff was again productive. He changed the lock on the main door. After lunch we headed down to Woking with a stop at Nigel and Valérie's place. It's coming along fine and Nigel is really doing all the work, so it's slow. But it's liveable and they are now working on the extra rooms. We all headed to the parents' for tea and then supper, which was excellent, as usual. All this time I got to observe, read to, and play with the girls.
Monday, after everyone left, I went into Northampton on my own, by bus. One way fare is expensive, but if you get a return ticket, it's not so bad. Nothing in town struck my fancy, so after picking up a bit of take-out lunch, I went back to the house, rested, and then picked up Aurelia from nursery. I had thought I'd be doing a lot of holiday shopping, but in the end, nothing. More playing. This time the box became a boat and we sang "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" and "Bateau sur l'eau" endlessly, well, until Geoff got home.
Tuesday was the day I had set aside to stay home and wait for the dishwasher delivery and then do a little housework. Well, the machine was delivered at 7 a.m.! Geoff was still home! So, I took my time doing the ironing, but there was a ton of it, so, with breaks, it took the better part of the day. With all the rerun stations and then the stations that run the same programs an hour later, I got my fill of CSI episodes while ironing.
Wednesday was the day I headed to Manchester. The reason I was going to Manchester was to see my high school friend, Beth Levin. She and I hadn't seen each other since graduation! We really didn't have much time to chat, but since Beth is very prolific on facebook, it was really like just picking up conversation where we left off. The program was not typically the kind of music I'll go after. It's what I might hear on France Musique, but not seek. I was pleasantly surprised at really enjoying it: Frank E Warren, David F Golightly and Kevin Malone (University of Manchester, The Cosmo Rodewald Concert Hall, Manchester UK. Beth Levin, Piano; Cheryl Law, Viola; Emily Howard, Mezzo Soprano) The Anthony Burgess selection by Kevin Malone is excellent.
On Wednesday afternoon I walked down to the Museum of Science and Industry and mae it in time for a demonstration of the machines used in the cotton industry. Heaven knows, Manchester was the textile capital of the world and most of the technological innovations of the 19th century were for those machines. Thursday, before the concert, I went to the art museum. After the concert I didn't have the time to go to the People's Museum, so that'll have to wait for the next time. Manchester was lovely, bustling, sunny, all the things I didn't expect.