Wednesday, 31 July 2013

The Beautiful South

Ah, English holidays!  "It's raining.  Do you really think we should go to the beach?" I asked my sister-in-law delicately.  "We're going to the beach because it's the summer," she replied, less delicately.  "And we're taking a picnic."

We weren't alone when we arrived in the centre of lovely Weymouth after a misty walk through the muddy fields.  A Punch and Judy show was in full swing and there were some magnificent sand sculptures (inside tents, so they weren't damaged by the weather).  Sales of ice cream seemed reasonably brisk but we opted for hot drinks in a cafe - sitting outside, of course.

We walked home through the Diana, Princess of Wales gardens.  And how best to finish such a day?  A fish supper, of course.

Enjoying a picnic by the seaside.

Basking in beautiful Weymouth.

Polishing off with fish and chips.

Sunday, 28 July 2013


We finally get to the reason for this trip back to the motherland: Pete's Christening.  Family members came from far and wide, some from outside Somerset, with others flying in from as far afield as Wales!  Pete's Grandma masterminded the whole thing, with his Grandad taking the service, and his Mum spent a couple of days beforehand doing the baking.  All in all, a swell family party.

Pete meets his Granny and cousins for the first time.  An overwhelming experience.

The Hammonds believe that cheesy Wotsits count as a vegetable.

A boy in a dress!  It's a British tradition.

Representing his multi-national nature.

Hannah: she bakes, she serves, she produces children...

Lynne, my most favourite babysitter in the whole world when I was little, shows that she still has the touch with Davies babies.

Aunty Liz loads up (both plates are for her).

My Godson, Freddie, got creative with the colouring pens.  His father Mark looks on, before suggesting a season overseas might "straighten him out".

Luckily the pens were washable.  Anyway, here's Pete with his future Welsh rugby teammates.

Another day, another church.  This morning in Hannah's parents' church in Colehill.

The cousins.  Has Isobel overtaken our little one in weight again?  Time to up the solid calories.

Grandad and baby.

The six cousins together.  If the devil stuck his head up now...

Thursday, 25 July 2013

The sun sets in the west

Our travels/travails are over for the moment, and we come to rest in the soft mists of Somerset.  This "Country of the Summer" is by far the best county in all of Britain, and coincidentally is where I grew up (Hannah grew up in next-door Dorset, acceptably close for our marriage to go ahead).

We drove away from Wales with stops in Colwall (Worcestershire) and Bishops Cleeve (Gloucestershire) before descending from Bath into Frome (avoiding Trowbridge, Wiltshire) where our baby was snatched from us by his Grandmother.  I wrestled him back to walk him into town and show him all the places where I used to cause havoc and get arrested...if I'd been that interesting growing up.

I wondered briefly about dipping him into the stream running down Cheap Street - a Frome tradition of waterlogged shoes for all toddlers - but spared him.  We walked home via the adventure playground, now all health-and-safety but which used to house such deathtraps as an old diesel quarry train for kids to climb over, "the spider", a see-saw that my sister broke her collar bone falling off, and concrete tunnels, one of which was bricked up because someone had died in there.  That's what I heard in Vallis First School playground, anyway.

A final check of the livestock before we leave the farm.

A cuddle with Emonie in Colwall.

Braving the waters of Cheap Street.  There can't be that many shopping streets in Britain with a river down the middle.

Relaxing after taking in the wonders of the West Country.

We also decided, somewhat ambitiously, that it was time to start the baby on solids.  We gave Pete an apple to suck, appropriately, but then moved onto his Californian side by mashing up an avocado.

He was interested!

But not entirely impressed.

Hannah's still focused on breast feeding.

Helping Grandma with the chores (or adding to them).

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

New All Black/Black Cap

The future of New Zealand rugby/cricket is assured with the arrival of Dan and Fiona's new baby boy - born today, which might be tomorrow in NZ, a healthy 9lbs 12oz.  It was a very English-influenced birth: like us they opted for emergency C-section, and like Kate and Will they're taking their time to choose a name.  George is popular, I hear.

Kia ora beautiful boy!  Pete's looking forward to staring you down during the haka.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013


We're in the land of my fathers!  Or my mothers to be precise: Wales.  And my actual mother is here, looking after her mother, while my aunt is away at the Royal Welsh Show (where their texel sheep picked up some big prizes).  Yes, it's very rural around here, and we had a lovely drive from Manchester down through Snowdonia, stopping off at the small village of Aberaeron to meet up with Neil, the vicar who married us, all those years ago.  Some prayer was said at our wedding about us having children so it's nice to know that Neil's still in good standing with the Almighty.

In other news, every baby born yesterday gets a special silver penny to celebrate sharing the day with the royal heir!  I was born on the late Queen Mother's birthday and never got sent a single bottle of gin from her.

Pete with Father Neil.

Pete with his great-grandmother.

Four generations.

Pete with his grandma.

Pete with his great-aunt Liz (and a patriotic outfit).

Earning my keep.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Little Big Island

It's amazing how much you can fit into a Vauxhall Corsa.  Over many years of going to France and returning with close-to-illegal numbers of wine bottles, Hannah and I have perfected the art of packing one of these diminutive cars.  However, even we have been challenged to fit everything, a baby, and us, in.

But with a little re-jigging we set off from John and Laura's on Friday morning and took in Nottingham, Durham and rural Lancashire on our way to Manchester.  While the entire country swelters in sunshine, we seem to be followed around by our own bank of low cloud.  It's forecast to turn into apocalyptic rain and flooding in a few days, true to the British law that good weather has to be followed by equally bad.  Peter: this is your heritage.

See!  It was warm enough to eat ice cream!  Outside!

And cook food!

A quick photo shoot before we left.  Anne Geddes should look out.

Maisey (Meg's cousin/Ellen's niece) seems reasonably impressed with the baby.

Frances realises it might be payback time for all that babysitting we did.

Interviewing Goddaughter Charity for the Davies Au Pair Scholarship Programme.  Hmmm.

Showing his colours.

This is Harry.  I used to change his nappies.

Davies-Weeks conglomerated family.

Three men in a pub - Andy, me, and Stefan at The Feathers, British Pub of the Year 2011 no less!

George judges their fish and chips.

Grey towers of Durham.

Where Hannah and I met, back in the mists of time.  And Pete, the consequence.

If you turn out to be really clever, you might get to study here (could somebody clean the nameplate please?)

In the cathedral cloisters.

An evening drink outside, with Stuart.  They drink outside whatever the weather in the North East.

Next day, next pub, and a prawn cocktail: Britain's greatest gift to international cuisine.

Pete meets Auntie Rachel, his hundredth new person in four days.  But one of the most important, of course.