We left Spain and Portugal on the ferry bound for the UK. We were anxious to head back north, as it just didn’t seem like Christmas in sunny Portugal. Sure, it was warm and tropical, but nothing like we were used to. Where were the Christmas lights…the snow…the trees – not palm trees…Christmas trees? This was about as close to Christmas decorations as we got!
We waited on the pier for our ferry to England to arrive. It was five and a half hours late departing and this was the first sign that our journey would be a long and memorable pilgrimage. It was bad news when the ship started rocking and rolling five minutes after pulling out of port. There was a silver lining in all of the waiting though, as we met some people on the pier. Everyone was out of their cars socializing and Chris, Roger, Bernadette and John happened to stroll up to our GB (Great Britain) licence plate. They were part time residents in Spain and were headed back to England to spend the holidays with family. Chris and Roger had followed Meg’s pink Lug bag down the highway from Madrid, losing it as we pulled off for gas then spotting it again as they rejoined the highway after a coffee break. As our journey continued throughout the day we would pass one another and they found themselves noticing the pink Lug crammed in the back window of the CRV – yes we were that packed! Our trip to Africa is going to require some major adjustments to our luggage. Stay tuned for the packing mission part 3 installment, to appear shortly.
Bernadette and John were another couple we met while waiting to board. They were such a positive and happy couple and despite the long wait, there was not one complaint. They were such a pleasure to be around and it was nice to have the time to get to know one another. Thank goodness we had a good visit and exchanged contact information before getting on the ship, as we barely made it out of our cabin during the twenty-four hour crossing. The Bay of Biscay is known for its treacherous waves and despite praying for calm seas, we had anything but smooth sailing. The boat rocked and heaved through the swells the minute we left port. As long as we remained horizontal, we could keep OUR heaving in control. So much for the complimentary breakfast and lunch they had provided for our delay. Bread in bed was all we could manage, as we all turned a pale shade of green, every time we tried to get up.
By dinner time the next day we had made it to the English Chanel and the seas had calmed. Halleluiah. We finally got out of our cabin and made it down to the restaurant to enjoy our complimentary dinner. We must have looked like ravaged animals as we wolfed down our meals. We were sad to say goodbye to our new friends, but were anxious to get back on dry land.
|OK, so maybe it wasn't so dry…but this sleet will probably be the closest we get to snow!|
|The weather cleared and we stopped off at Stonehenge.|
It felt more like Christmas the minute we got off the ferry. The streets were decorated in lights, the store windows were filled with Christmas goodies, and Christmas songs were playing on the radio station. The skies were cloudy and the rain poured down, ahhh we were back in England. We made our way to Cardiff, Wales where we would add another wonderful travel friend to our list. Lisbeth was one of the most amazing women we have met. After suffering a stroke earlier this year, and spending months in hospital, she wasn’t going to let anything slow her down. You would think hosting four travelling nomads, she had never met before, would be a lot for someone, but not Lisbeth. Not only did she host us, she threw a Christmas soiree and invited all the neighbours over to enjoy some drinks, goodies, Highland dancing and bagpipe music. What a memorable evening, with food conversation and a lot of laughter. It was a party that we would have enjoyed this time of year at home, but never thought we would experience, half way around the world. The evening was great fun and we tucked in to bed that night with our hearts filled with joy. Lisbeth is an inspiration to us. She is headed to New Zealand in February and we hope our paths will cross again. Lisbeth, thank you does not convey our appreciation for your hospitality. You have touched our hearts and allowed us to experience the real meaning of Christmas.
|Lisbeth took us out to the Farm Shop where we purchased some goodies for Christmas dinner, I'm|
going to try to make Smoked Garlic Stuffing this year!
|We stopped in at the local church and saw a live production of the Christmas Story,|
the performers came out and met the audience afterwards. We became the celebrities as they added
us to their website as 'international' guests!
Our Christmas will be light on presents and material items this year, but there has been no shortage of early gifts. The people we have met along our journey have enriched our lives, and the memories will last longer than any gift-wrapped package imaginable.
|Manchester didn't know what hit them when we arrived in high fashion and full of festive spirit.|
We made lots of anxious shoppers and salesclerks smile, and that was exactly what we were after!
|This photo was taken in Morocco. We thought it could serve as our Christmas photo, certainly memorable|
if nothing else!