Catching up with loved ones
20.04.2013 - 21.04.2013 18 °C
Things have been a little less frenetic over the past couple of days but no less special despite this. I can't report on a huge number of tourist sites - although we had a special visit on Friday morning of which more later - but we've had a gentle couple of days getting our breath back and catching up with some loved ones.
We had breakfast at the hotel on Friday morning and moved in a leisurely fashion, enjoying a sleep in, before packing up again and moving down the road. We didn't move very far. About 10 minutes up the road was Bletchley Park the home of code breaking operations during the Second World War. Hugh has been reading an interesting book about the secrets of Bletchley and the men and women that worked there and the fact that we were so close meant that it would be ridiculously dismissive not to visit there. There is no doubt that the cracking of the German Enigma code was one of the greatest achievements of the war and succeeded in shortening it at best and possibly even the outcome. The workers were recruited from all over Britain - from Universities, out of school, from factories and debutantes. What is even more amazing than the work done itself was the fact that so little was known about it until the mid 1970s.
The visit included a look at an amazing museum which includes a working "Bombe" - which was the machine created to assist in code-breaking - as well as some of the messages decoded. There was then a tour conducted by a charming volunteer who provided so much context and insight into the human element of the life at the centre and the work that was done. He described, for example, the efforts of the despatch riders who brought the original messages from radio stations all over Britain - some of them in the north of Scotland. These riders, who were often women, could ride up to 400 miles on a trip on rudimentary motorbikes with little protective clothing - heroic in itself. It was a lovely visit - a classic case of British understatement but a great tribute to some of the largely unsung heroes of the war.
Leaving Bletchley, it was on to the motorway for the trip up to Pulford (between Wrexham and Chester) and our family reunion. Google Maps said that it would be a 2 hour 40 minute journey. Because of an accident on the M6 and the consequent delays meant that the trip took over 4 hours and it's reasonable to say that things got a little terse and tense in the car before we got to the hotel. We'd fondly assumed that we'd be in Wales by mid afternoon with lots of time to relax and get ready for the evening. As it was, we got in about 5 o'clock and had time to have a shower and get ready but not the way that we'd hoped. Never mind, the reunion with the relatives was wonderful! It was fantastic to see everyone in good spirits - except poor cousin Lyn who had her own motorway horror and ended up being "rescued" - the food and service were great and it was a top night with lots of laughs all around.
We were a little dusty yesterday morning but had a good breakfast and hit the road at a respectable hour. We had a teeny sidetrack to pay homage at Pulford Castle - ancestral home of Daryl's family - and we reclaimed it in Daryl's name.
Since yesterday morning we've been in and around Abergele and have spent most of the time with Lindsey and Glyn - our very dear friends. We've spent a lot of time talking and laughing - not least over dinner last night at the fabulous Kinmel Arms where we stayed and which turned on an incredibly good dinner. We also had brilliant accommodation in an unusual room at the back of the pub. Even slightly dustier this morning, we went back to the Thomas' and then had a lovely trip to Llandudno and a walk along the pier. We all watched the Grand Prix this afternoon before enjoying a late lunch and more laughs.
I suppose this isn't exciting to other people but it has been to Hugh and I. We're now in our last hotel of the trip - we hope - at the Premier Inn in Rhuddlan - have a room full of suitcases and a comfortable looking bed. We've spent time with the people that we love and discovered it never gets any easier to say goodbye but it's kind of the price you pay for love isn't it? We're hoping to have a little sleep in tomorrow and after sorting out the cases will go to Manchester so that I can pay homage at Old Trafford. 2100 tomorrow will see us on our way home.........see you on the other side!