We got home, yesterday, from a short week in England. It was C's birthday and we arrived just in time for the big family celebration with everyone. This time we took the Eurostar. For the two of us, managing to reserve enough time in advance, we managed to get reasonably priced tickets that made the journey less expensive than going by car. When we go by car, we have to take into consideration not only the tunnel fee, but also the toll on the French autoroute and the gas. When we go by Eurostar, we have to consider not only the Eurostar fare, but also the fare up to Northampton. All in all, the Eurostar is more comfortable. We took a big suitcase this time because there were birthday gifts on the TO route and an accessory for one of the knitting machines on the RETURN route. Next time, if we take the train, we'll do everything possible to fit into our "overhead" cases to share the lugging. In any case, we got to Duston in time for lunch.
For a first birthday, a kid has no idea of what's going on. For a second birthday, they start getting the idea, but the ideal birthday, I think, is the third. C was so, so, so happy it was her birthday and was so excited to be the star of the day she couldn't keep still. She had helped her Mommy make the cake and it was the "Best Ever Chocolate Cake" from the AAWE recipe book that we all swear is absolutely the best ever. It was decorated with Smarties and raspberries and blueberries. (As usual, I only share photos with family and if I forgot to add you to the sharing, then email or phone me and I will.) It was very, very good. So was the whole lunch, but really for a birthday, it's all about the cake.
Cake was followed by opening presents, which took a bit of time as the cousins' gifts were very small in size and each individually wrapped. C is a very meticulous girl and tries very hard to open gifts carefully so as not to tear the paper. The London family had to leave almost immediately after the gifts were all opened and so did Daddy, who was off to a conference.
Monday, once everyone had gone to school, day care, and work, we got on a bus and went to the city center. Building around Northampton is booming; Duston seems to have a new housing estate under construction each time we go. This does not seem to affect downtown Northampton. The empty shops are still mostly empty or turned into charity shops; there are several pound shops. Paul needed a new sweater, which we found at the Edinburgh Woolen Mill shop, and I found what I needed at M&S, but nothing else caught our eye, not even for lunch, so we picked up some sandwiches and headed back. We got on a bus that I knew would get us back home, but I had no idea it would take us on such a long route. We discovered how big Duston, at least New Duston, is.
The next day, we ventured down the Main Road to a coffee and lunch place that features lots of "homemade" items on the menu. I wish I knew where "home" was. It was all microwave-reheated. The next couple of days, we were happy getting lunch from the Co-op. I could have fished around in the fridge and freezer at home for lunch, but really didn't feel like it.
So, that's it. Home in Nogent, now.