“Pensioner Saves Starving Immigrant”

Daily Mail Headline Shocker. Ok, so it looks like I might have spent a little bit too much of our summer in the UK staring at the ridiculous headlines of the hyped-up and badly reported newspaper that is the Daily Mail.

She just couldn’t take it any more

The pensioner in question is my mother (although don’t tell anyone that she’s bus pass age). The starving immigrant: my 3mth old daughter. Alas, she is only a Texan, so she sneaked into the country in the arms of her British mother, her big blue eyes out staring the harsh immigration officer. (Actually the officer was the nicest in the world and we sailed through despite the Daily Mail reporting queues of 2hrs). On the day in question, my amazingly resilient mother got a phone call from a frantic daughter who had just got through security at DFW airport. Clearly, based on the fact that we had barely made it alive through airport security holding a baby, running after a toddler, wearing a huge backpack, a changing bag, a toy bag, with coats and shoes galore, we were not going to make it though the London tube and then on a 3 hr journey after a 10hr flight, on our own. My mother galvanised herself and immediately got a train ticket and was on a train in a matter of hours. She took the 3hr journey herself from Newcastle, met us in London, saved us from transport misery and tired-children-hell, returning  straight to Newcastle. It was her first of many jobs of trying to keep Wee Man occupied while we slept. I literally put my head on the hard train table and passed out.  This was the stand alone kindness of the trip that deserved an Olympic-medal, but there were a few others.

Our Top of the Pops-esc summer countdown is thus.

10 – The number of tennis balls lost in our garden on a daily basis. Toddlers, despite their enthusiasm, are not great tennis players.

9 – How many times Wee Man  shouts ‘PLAY’ every hour. The required action is for everyone to drop what they are doing and put cars and trains through a railroad crossing. Adults flock to his side and vie for this great honour.

Ready to take on Andy Murray

8 – The number of hours sat in front of the Olympic Games each day. And it was great! Who knew that archery, sailing and judo were interesting? Really amazing to see the Brits be as enthusiastic about their country as a typical American is in normal life. The uptempo mood, the flag waving, Andy Murray winning something, all brilliant.

7- Stops to try and settle Wee Flo on the trip to Scotland. She doesn’t travel well. Screams in fact, at all most everything whilst in the car or the pram. Not the best travel companion. Our gorgeous Auntie Jacki managed to save the day by sitting next to her with a mirror. My lovely, adorable, vain little girl…

6 – The number of beds Wee Man could chose from as he had his first adventure to a Youth Hostel. Ok, so he wasn’t allowed to sleep on the top bunk. He did try. We even managed to all sleep in the same room without us all going insane.

5 – Cups of tea a day. With a nice little piece of cake. Living up to every British stereotype. Living the dream.

4 – Trips to the seaside. Everything about it was classic British. It was cold. But everyone thought it was warm, so got their swimsuits on, windbreaks out and ran into the ICY sea. I was in there for 30mins and didn’t warm up once. I will never get used to it. But, like everyone else, the pure joy of jumping over waves is enough to keep you in there. We ate sandy sandwiches, couldn’t find the toilets, ate ice cream and fish n chips. I love that we are passing on our childhood to our children.

3  – The number of changes of trains we made on our journey south to see the rest of the family. With all the gear as before. But it turns out now, we’re pros at this. Breezed through it, with a little help from our fellow passengers.

2 – Weddings with brides called Lyanne. Both epic, both had women ministers. Both very moving and special. One was by a Scottish Loch.Nuf said.

Dancin’ with the ladies

1 – The number of flights cancelled 6hrs before we were meant to leave. Fortunately we got the message before we left for the airport at 3am. But what the? As we grumbled, what if we had been in a hotel? What if, what if, we were put on a much better flight, with the much better BA. Grumble grumble. We’re still writing a nasty letter.

The most overwhelming feeling to be left with? Just how good it is to be home, with family. People that had known me since I was in nappies myself, despite all my travels and adventures, just smile when they see you and say ‘Oh hi!’It’s quite reassuring that life still goes on.