Friday 25th February, 2011.
Emma, Alysha and I got to Watford Junction to catch the 14:01 train. The train was on time and we were on our way. A few stops later and we arrived at Queens Park where we crossed the platform and got straight onto a Bakerloo Line train headed for Paddington Station. We arrived at Paddington and had to wait for nearly 20 minutes for our third train. When it arrived we made our way to our reserved seats and relaxed. Alysha was over the moon that each seat had a TV, and after she sent a £1.50 text, she had full access to the content. So, she watched ‘Outnumbered’, ‘The Simpson’s’ and various other programmes, until we arrived at Bristol Parkway. Another 15 minute wait for our fourth and final train, which would take us to Torquay. We arrived at Torquay Station at 18:45 and only had to wait a few minutes before Uncle Barry and Auntie Francesca arrived to take us to the hotel. Barry and Francesca dropped us at the Toorak hotel and then drove off to see Nannie. So, the three of us went to reception and checked in. The receptionist issued us with a room key and gave us directions to our room. Our room was on the ground floor and was spacious and clean and it contained a double bed, two single beds, TV, kettle, safe, shower and plenty of storage. The view looked toward the sea, which you could just make out. Once Alysha had picked which of the single beds she was having and things were unpacked, we headed off to find my family. Francesca had told us that they were in the Aztec Bar, so we headed back towards reception where we were given more directions. It turns out that the hotel is actually four hotels, all linked together, so that no matter what hotel you stay in, you can use all the facilities of all the hotels. So we left followed the corridor and went into the Derwent hotel and then into the Carlton where we finally found them. My cousin Katherine was sitting at a table with her husband, as was Amanda’s husband Dan and Joshua and his partner Tanya. Sean and Amanda were at the bar, so the three of us queued behind them until I was recognised. It didn’t take long. Hugs and introductions were soon followed by drinks. My Auntie Maureen was also with us and she was charged with keeping us behaved and sober. She did this by drinking all the wine, as did Katherine, while Joshua and I drank some Guinness. We all stayed together until the early hours, before making our way back to our rooms.
Saturday 26th february, 2011.
Up nice and early so that we could get breakfast. A few green faces from some family members but, apart from that, a great start to the day. Since Maureen had made an itinerary of what was happening and when, it turned out that we had most of the day to do as we wanted. So, we asked Alysha what she wanted to do, to which she said she wanted to stay at the hotel and spend some time with all the new cousins and family. We agreed and left her some money for the machines and lunch, etc., and then Emma and I disappeared off into Torquay. Directly opposite our hotel is Torre Abbey, so we walked through the gardens and I took some photos, before we continued down to the beach. We then walked along the marina wall and all around the sea wall before deciding to go into ‘Living coasts’. It is kind of a Zoo that had penguins, seals, Inca terns, Fish, Rays and lots more. We must have spent a good hour-or-so going round, taking pictures before we sat down for a coffee. We then headed into Torquay itself, walking up the High Street and finally finding something to eat. We then headed back to the hotel. We found Alysha in the Kids Zone iwth Katherine and her kids and then Amanda, Dan and their kids arrived and they all had a game of ten-pin-bowling. I watched some of the rugby, before we headed to our room to get ready. Once we were ready, we made our way to the bar and awaited the arrival of Nannie. Considering her apartment overlooks the hotel complex, she had no idea that we were all here, apart from Maureen, Francesca, Barry and Diedre. Once she was seated in the Buckingham Room, Uncle Doug kept coming in to take different groups to see her. Daughters first followed by Katherine and her family, Sean and his, then Me and mine, then Amanda and hers followed by Joshua and Tanya. Then finally by Roisin and Aoife. Nannie seemed genuinely happy, but she also looked very old. We then made our way to the bar, where a professional photographer was on hand to take photographs of everyone. A group shot. One of Nannie with her children. Nannie with her grand and great grand children. Nannie with Francesca and her family. Etcetera, Etcetera. Then we had a photograph taken of the five cousins together. This was, after all, the first time all five of us had been together for nearly 28 years!!! So, the first shot was us sitting nicely, before the last shot of us all with a drink in our hands. Not entirely sure that some of the family were impressed with the last shot, but it had to be done! Then it was off to dinner. Not the best timing in the world, as John and myself wanted to watch the end of the England Rugby match. Thank God, for internet on the mobile! Dinner was a set starter followed by a selection of different main courses. Then dessert which I gave to Alysha. Katherine made a speech, in which I was singled out for a few jokes, in which she also thanked Auntie Maureen for organising the entire weekend, Nannie’s friend stood up to make a speech. She obviously knows my Nan very well and I was a little upset when my Dad was mentioned, as I think Nannie misses him, too. After the coffee was served we all made our way back to the bar. Barry, Sean, John and myself went out onto the patio and each had a Cuban cigar to celebrate. The beer continued to flow, until it dawned on us that Joshua and myself had drunk the hotel out of Guinness! So, we switched to lager. The bar eventually closed, but we managed to get the night porter to reopen it a little later.
Sunday 27th February, 2011.
Another early start so that we could catch breakfast and see some more green faces. After breakfast Alysha went swimming with the other kids for an hour or so, while Emma and I sat with Amanda and Dan and caught up. Then we went to see Katherine and caught up with her, before heading back to our room to pack our things. We checked out of our room at 11:00 and left our things with reception, before heading to the bar for brunch with Nannie and her friends. After a few drinks it was time for us to leave to catch a taxi to the station. Plenty of hugs, kisses and handshakes as we said our goodbyes to Nannie and my family. Then we were off. The train to Exeter arrived on time (13:56) and we were on our way. The ticket inspector checked our tickets and when he saw that we were headed to Watford, we had a nice little chat. (Turns out he is from St. Albans!) A slight delay in our connecting train to Clapham Junction but the driver made up time, so that we arrived in time for our connecting train to Watford. We finally made it home for 20:00. All in all a great weekend with family. Hopefully it won’t be too long until I see them all again!
Until next time…
May it be well with you!