A whole decade in the making, our family returned to England once again. This time we used the handy excuse of it being the 50th wedding anniversary for Barbara & Don, Mum's great-aunt & -uncle whom we'd met and stayed with last time. Not as if we needed an excuse for such a holiday, but it was extemely convenient for being able to see all the rellies in one place at one time, and a fun party it was indeed.
Where last time we'd availed ourselves of the hop-on-hop-off tourist double-deckers, this time we spent a few days exploring London from more of a do-it-yourself perspective, getting travel cards allowing 3 days unlimited usage of the public transport system, and by a mixture of bus, train and tube, we managed to get around a fair extent of the central city.
Our time in London culminated in the aforementioned party, and then we teamed up with Mum's cousin Caroline, her husband Chris, and their kids Phil & Kathy, with whom we were sharing the rent of a farmhouse down in Dorset, on Ferndown Farm, Wynford Eagle, just out of Maiden Newton.
There we spent an excellent couple of weeks travelling about the county. Marty, my brother, sadly had to leave us halfway through this time due to work commitments back in NZ, and the second family also had to depart before the full fortnight extent, though we caught up with them in their hometown during the following week or so as we travelled the English Mid-West. We revisited favourite spots like Bath, and explored new ones such as Winchester. Eventually we travelled across to Dover via Canterbury, and from there over to France.
On French soil once again, but this time out time in to Northern reaches was limited - we had about 6 days to make the trek down the extent of the country. Hopping past such sights as Chateau Chenonceau and Mont St Michael, and cutting through the Massif Central by way of Rodez and Millau, we eventually reached our rental property in St Chinian, a small wine-based town near Bezier and Narbonne. Once there we nipped about the place as best we could, from the Massif Central gorges to the Canal du Midi; Narbonne-Plage down over the Spanish border (just); across to the Carmague salt marshes. Finally before we left we sought out the immensely spectacular Pont du Gard aqueduct/bridge.
The return blat up past Lyon and Dijon was only slightly less frantic than that which had been the journey down, but more direct - the only side trip being to Fontainebleau, near Paris. Then it was back across the ditch for a few more days to revisit Chris, Caroline, Phil & Kathy, before winging our way over the oceans back home, losing the day we'd picked up along the way.
Watch this space for an eventual re-return - perhaps in 2014? ;o)