30 April 2018

Visit by sister and her entire family

My sister had visited me in all my foreign homes. But she had always come alone! And then suddenly she phoned me to suggest she pop by with the entire family (husband Aernoud, and children David (15), Abe (13) and Nora (11)). She suggested just after my dad's birthday. It would be a bit weird to see her in Wales so soon after seeing her in the Netherlands, but the alternative was in autumn. I didn't fancy that! I tend to be swamped by teaching then. Now I would manage to do my rather mild end-of-term teaching load in between social engagements, and what would have to wait was my house. And it can! There's no deadline on that. And it is a bit awkward to have it featuring rooms that are complete tips for too long, but hey, I got to see my entire sister's family!

I flew home from my dad's birthday on Monday. Petra flew to Wales on Tuesday. It was not a very nice day! It rained a lot. But she got safely to Gerlan. When she got there she texted me so I walked up. They were in a very cute cottage!

That evening weather improved a bit, so Petra and I went for a small walk. It was nice! And the next day I had my first year tutorial talks, but nothing after that, so I was back at their cottage for lunch. Petra offered to go to my place with the whole family and help with the garden! But again, the weather was nice, so she figured we could walk there with a big loop, so we'd see more of the surroundings. And so we did. We walked over a nice path, but it wasn't leading us as the crow flies. Aernoud and the kids thought it was silly to follow it. Petra and I didn't! So we split. We scampered over the path to where we would meet again. From a distance I thought Aernoud's trousers looked a bit unusual. And they were! They had crossed a swamp. Nora had managed to keep her feet dry, but all the men were at least soaked to the ankles, and Aernoud had managed to sink in up to his thighs. Oh dear! They wanted to go home for clean clothes first. The dry women went on.

Family still with dry feet

Nora with Ysgolion Duon in the background

Nephews in a sheep fold

 I thought a cup of tea was in order but no; Petra immediately started pulling out weeds while Nora demanded my lawnmower. I had looked up the users' manual online, so now I had an idea of how to start it. It worked!

A while later the men appeared. They wanted me to wash their clothes, as their cottage didn't have a washing machine. And they wanted old newspapers to stuff their shoes with. They did some barefoot gardening! And David continued with my wallpaper stripping activities.

 Lots of relatives working in the garden

Digging a vegetable bed

Progress was amazing, but every two seconds someone came up to me to ask how I wanted something, where something was, if I had a this or that, and more such issues. You couldn't sort one out before another one hitting you. It was exhausting! I was really appreciative of the help; the garden really looks better now. But I was drained. I decided to not join them for dinner. I needed to be alone for a bit! And I needed to put the gardening equipment back, get rid of all the plant waste this had produced, clean up all the wallpaper shreds in the living room, etc etc. It was good to have a bit of time to calm down!

The next day I only had dinner and a cup of tea with them. They went mountain biking and I couldn't join as I had work until after lunch. On Friday we did a game of Carcassonne. They had visited Caernarfon Castle but I hadn't been able to join due to work.

On Saturday we would have the whole day together: we would go underground. I had rallied Phil and Jason to my side, and I had borrowed hats from David and Edwyn. Together we would get there! Petra's family fills up their car, so I shared one with Phil. Jason came from another direction. We gathered at the Lakeside Cafe at 9:15 for breakfast. That was nice! There Phil also asked if we had a key. Oops! No! I'm so used to hitchhiking along on Miles' key I had forgot all about it. But Jason had Mick's garden key with him so we were OK. Phew!

We tried to put everyone in boots, hats and gloves, and walked up. And in! The entrance is flooded these days and not all had wellies, so it was a bit of a faff for some to get in. But we did! And we had decided to do the reverse round trip. That keeps the wet bits (except the entrance) for the end! And there's enough fun to be had.

We did a small detour to the new bridge. Always fun! Not everyone enjoyed the old vein incline but all made it without incident. One of the big pulls of the place turned out to be the flooded chambers, that you can throw rocks into. And communication went fine. I sometimes had to do a bit of translation for Nora but otherwise all sorted itself!

In the compressor chamber we had a cup of tea and then we went on, through the manway. We had a look at the caban (from above and below) too. Not much later we were in the wet bit, and then the only thing we still had to do was climb back up to lake level.

Outside we did a group pic, and on the way back we saw Miles was in the MO, so we popped by to say hello. We then had another cup of tea in the cafe, and then we were off!

 Post-trip group pic

That afternoon I did yet another small walk with Petra. It was a beautiful day! And after that we all went for dinner in the Llangollen. That was nice too! And the next morning they popped by to drop off all supplies they hadn't managed to finish themselves. I don't think I will either, to be honest!

It was cool to finally show all of them where I live! Even though where I live is a bit of a building site. I'm sure my sister will be back; maybe even more of them! 

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