So on Saturday we headed up north to Blanchland. Got to the station fine, and the first train was perfectly on time ... got to Peterborough and discovered that just about everything was running late. What a surprise. Not. We had about an hours wait anyway, and it was only 20 minutes late in the end, so that's not bad for GNER. Their announcements were up to their normal highly informative standards "We apologise for the late arrival of this train, this is due to a late inward-working".
Once up at Durham we were met by J's Dad and driven back to Blanchland - which was the cue to switch off our phones as there's no reception in the valley. It was a little odd when we got there, as the dog had died on Boxing Day so there was no furry crazy thing to meet us and get all over excited! We settled in, showed off J's trophy which was given pride of place on the dresser, and then did Xmas again :) Got nice presents from J's parents and from Jo and Chris, definite penguin theme too ... After dinner we assumed nothing much was happening, so sat and did the crossword and generally relaxed - then all of a sudden J's Dad said "Are we going for a drink then?" *grin* We used to have to bully him into leaving the house for anything social, but there he was hassling all of us ;) We didn't stay long in the pub though, just a couple of hours - there was a non-local bunch in, who were being loud and were swearing lots. I didn't much notice - and J agreed that they were just a bit like the louder sort of 'lad' one gets in town pubs round here - but it quite upset J's parents.
Sunday started with an incredible lack of hangover (thank goodness), and we headed off to visit J's Gran. We got in touch with Claire, so got to see her there as well :) After a couple of glasses of red wine and some more exchange of presents we came back for a roast beef dinner. I think J's parents feel we need feeding up or something - they always seem to provide food for about 20 ;) It had started to snow while we were over at Stanhope, so after lunch we watched the snow a bit and then just read and stuff. The TV had been off most of the day as there was a power cut up where the aerial is (Blanchland is in so deep a valley that they have a communal aerial with a booster and then wires to connect it to every house in the village, and anyway - they aren't allowed aerials or visible satellite dishes coz it'd spoil the 'picturesque' look of the village for the tourists and film companies). It came back on in time for J's mother to watch Monarch of the Glen (hmm, ick), then we all watched some program on Divas, followed by something about Pop Princesses (well, J's parents had gone to bed by that stage).
Monday started as another lazy day - not going anywhere in the snow. Just read, watched TV (yeah, I've watched more TV in the last few days than I watched in the last 4 months or so ;) ), and ate. Then in the evening we got all dressed up to go out to the pub again for New Year :) And we saw it in with pints and pints and pints of beer :) I think we got about 7 rounds in. But my memory is a trifle hazy ;) There was a fireworks display out the back of the pub just before midnight which was cool, but it was too damn cold to stand out and watch so I peered through the window (I hadn't put a coat on coz we were only going across the square so it seemed silly). The kids in the pub were a little annoying - but more so for J's parents who made constant comments about how they didn't understand why anyone would bring the kids. Not sure if the world's changed since their youth or just if they were more sensible ;)
Tuesday started the New Year off with one of my worst ever hangovers - certainly worse than any other New Year, though the Notts meet last year probably still has it beat ;) I managed to struggle politely through conversation with the random couple that J's parents had made friends with in the pub who popped in for a cup of tea in the morning. And I did eventually eat most of my turkey dinner .... but all in all it's a day that it's probably better to draw a veil over ;) (Oh and we watched more TV - some nature thing, something about the Queen and then I tried to watch Shakespeare in Love, but couldn't stand it (too soppy and too much farce) so I went to bed).
Got up really early yesterday (about 7:30am) and said goodbye to J's Mum as she was going back to work. Then after another couple of hours sleep we geared up for the journey home. We'd had to book seats on an earlier train than we'd intended coz the one we wanted was booked up, so we had scheduled an hour and 45 minutes wait at Peterborough. So no possiblity of missing the connection then? Even time to possibly explore Peterborough a little and have a nice pub meal for dinner? You'd think so, wouldn't you? But no, once more GNER proved that they can tailor the delay to fit any possible connection time ;) The 1418 that we should have been on, was finally so late that they cancelled it and said that we should all get on the 1507. Which they didn't quite have the guts to announce was also running 30 minutes late (it was on the boards though) until after they'd stopped announcing our cancellation. While we stood there we overheard a conversation someone else was having with the staff: "Will we be able to get seats on the next one, or would we be better waiting if we want to sit down?" "There'll be no problem getting seats, you'll all be able to sit down, don't worry" "Are you sure?" "Yes, yes, definitely" ... Needless to say, there were next to no seats on the train when it finally arrived. I stood up from York, and J stood up the whole way. As we wended slowly on our way down the country we gradually got later and later and later. When we eventually got to Peterborough we had just enough time to grab a sandwich and coffee from the station cafe before catching our train. Still I suppose I should just be thankful that we still managed to make our connection :/
But we got home OK :) And are now back at home, with next-to-no travelling planned for the forseeable future ... cept a trip to Manchester to deliver pressies to Jo and Chris (though unno when that'll be).