Thursday, December 28, 2006

Surprise Surprise

Our final part of our trip was spent in San Francisco and it was a very nice place to end our trip on too. Prior to arriving in San Fran we had spent a wet and pretty miserable few days unable and un- motivated to do what we had hoped (ie winery visits) because of the weather and sheer frustration of actually getting anywhere due to the roads and traffic.

The weather improved whilst we were in San Francisco though and it was a novelty not having to use the car to get anywhere. Instead we had a lovely few days actually walking and riding the ‘cable cars’ (trams) up and down the hilly streets. Our first ride on, we had to hang on the side and it was fun clinging on as we sped down the hills.

Our hotel was really nice and centrally located on Union Square which was handy for exploring the city. I found it to be a really pretty, picturesque city with lovely buildings and it felt quite festive too, although I wasn’t sure about the puppys in the window of Macy’s department store!

We decided to check out the modern art museum one day mainly because part of it was photography. As part of the modern art there was an installation that was worth going just for that. This consisted of a large video projection of Turkish people singing Karaoke of The Smiths! Some of them were really terrible and some of them were really good and sounded exactly like Morrissey (including a girl) and some were even crying as they sang. As is usual when I leave modern art galleries I left feeling bemused and slightly confused, but with the feeling that I had at least done something cultural!

I had been feeling very excited about our surprise return home and we had been concocting all sorts of lies about what we would be doing Christmas and new year eve which I began believing myself after a while. The day came for the final leg of the journey. The flight was very full and 10 hours and no sleep later we arrived in foggy U.K. We circled round Heathrow for a while because of the fog and I couldn’t wait to get off the plane. Coming through arrivals I felt a little sad as there were lots of people waiting for passengers but not us as only my Auntie Jean and my friend Nicola who booked our ticket home knew of our return. The rest of my family wouldn’t know for another few days either as we had stops in Slough, Durham and Nottingham to make before returning to Lowestoft.

Of all the places we’ve been, Slough was definitely the highlight of the trip. It was lovely; foggy, cold, wet and the hotel room was so large and good value (not).We fell asleep in the room straight away and then couldn’t sleep all night and it was a very long night. Finally it was time to pick up our hire car and I had to get used to gears again as we drove up to Tim’s mum’s near Durham. It wasn’t a bad drive considering the problems with the fog the U.K had been having and we arrived 7 hours later.

We spent a couple of days with Tim’s mum then drove to Nottingham and stayed with Jo and Andy for the night before leaving for the big surprise on Christmas Eve. We made good time and my excitement turned to nerves for some reason. I just hoped it would all work out OK. In the end it couldn’t have been better. We parked down the road so they wouldn’t hear us pull up, snuck down the road and rung the bell. We were waiting for a while because it turned out Mum and Roger thought we were Carol singers (oh yes, they were in the festive spirit!) but when they came to the door I couldn’t have wanted a better reaction which you can see on the video below.

With the shock still reeling through Mum she drove us (rather erratically) round to my sister’s. She was expecting my mum so didn’t come to the door as I walked in. I walked in to the kitchen where Joanne had her back to me and I said “hello”.She turned round and her face was the picture of shock for what seemed ages! Then she squealed and cried. I like to think that they were happy to see me and that all the tears were tears of joy!

Next I saw my nephew Max who has grown so much. Then we met my niece Lily. She is so gorgeous. She is looking so healthy and happy now and she never seems to stop smiling. It felt so good to be back with my family again. At times it was hard to be away especially when Lily was ill and it is such a relief to see her now doing so well.

It is good being back, but also a bit strange. When we first arrived it was very weird being back and everything so familiar seemed strange at the same time. I felt a bit spun out at first but maybe that was the jet lag. Everyone keeps saying, “oh you’re back to the real world now” I’m not sure I’m quite ready for it yet!

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