Having basked in an unusual heatwave for the past 5 weeks, England chose the day that our friends arrived from the US, to welcome them, in true British style; torrential rain! I had told Michelle that her arrival would herald the heavens opening and (sadly) I was right!
After a bit of a fiasco that involved my brand new cardigan being left behind in the hotel room. Not discovering that until after we’d paid the parking ticket we then only had 10 minutes to exit. Running back in, I grabbed the key from the bemused lady at reception, hiked upstairs, snatched up the cardi and ran back down again – we just made it out in time! We arrived early at the airport anticipating the usual palaver at the car rental place, which in fact didn’t go too badly. It seemed that our friends flight was arriving in early, so we grabbed a quick coffee before heading to the arrivals gate. 
Heathrow Airport
Well apparently, arriving early doesn’t necessarily follow that you will get off early! Turns out that there was no gate for the plane to come into and so they were sitting out on the runway for nearly an hour, staring out at the rain lashed airport – “Welcome to England”!
I actually really enjoy being in airports and watching people come and go, saying good bye and hugging hello. I had two full hours to indulge in some people watching; during which time I cried no less than three times, maybe four if you count a little sniffle! There’s just something about watching a little old lady scoop up a baby, obviously for the first time and a couple of friends who’d been back packing arriving through to an unexpectedly huge welcome from their familes, (think cheers, balloons, banners and flowers) that just tugs at my heart – I’m tearing up again now just writing this!
Finally, looking a little travel worn and weary, Michelle and Ralph came through the gate and it was our turn to hug our arrivers.
Three hours later we were all laughing at Lily as we settled back in to Jackies’ garden with Prosecco and beer, ready to start this vacation as we meant to go on!
Fun in the sun
Old English town - Bourne
We spent a couple of days in Bourne with Jac & Jase, introducing Michelle & Ralph to the beauty of the English countryside, the quintessential English town and of course, the local pubs, before heading back down to Portland where we had another great AirBnB win with lovely views overlooking Chesil Beach.
Bourne, Lincs
Bourne, Lincs
English phone box
Portland, UK
Potland
Our friends Carol and Tony, who live on Portland, arrived soon after us, bearing gifts of dinner and beer – fabulous friends – and we had a good night just catching up, making plans for the week ahead and enjoying the picturesque sunset from our balcony.

A new vacay tradition was born as Ralph mixed Moscow Mule cocktails for us and then committed himself to being our 6 o’clock drinks mixer for the rest of the holiday!

Friends
AirBnB
The next day we went across to Weymouth where we indulged in the great tradition of fish and chips! A good British staple and an absolute must when visiting any seaside town. Of course, I have my favorite place to buy from and so we strolled down through town to the “Marlboro” and then round to the quay, to sit on the harbor side to enjoy it! The sun was back and Weymouth was putting on quite the show for our American visitors, even the town bridge went up as we sat there!
Fish 'n' Chips
Weymouth Harbour
Weymouth Harbour
Weymouth Harbour
Weymouth Harbour
Weymouth Harbour
After lunch, Michelle and I took a RIB (rigid inflatable boat) out into the bay for a hair raising 20 minute “screamer” ride with Weymouth Bay Rib Charters. The scaredy cat boys preferred to stay in a pub and miss all the fun. When the photos came back you can just see me at the back doing a great impression of Cousin It! That evening we took a stroll down to the beach to “The Cove”, a little pub, right on the sea. As we stood looking out over the ocean and enjoying a glass of wine, I noticed a familiar face from 30 odd years ago when I was working in the Admiralty Research Establishment. What a lovely little catch up we had!
Sea screamer
Chesil Beach
Chesil Beach
Chesil Beach
Chesil Beach
The next day we drove out to visit one of my favorite haunts when I was trying to escape the crowds growing up. However, with the promotion of the whole “Jurrassic Coast”, Lulworth Cove is no longer such a good place to avoid crowds, it was packed, but there was still the very much quieter, Stair Hole cove looking beautiful and inviting in the glorious sunshine but I’m far too old and creaky to have clambered down there now though!
Lulworth Cove
Lulworth Cove
Lulworth Cove
Lulworth Cove
Michelle took a little paddle with us and was startled to discover just how cold the water of the English Channel can be, deciding there and then that no swimming would be done this vacation! While the boys once more parked themselves in a pub, we girls took a climb up over the cliffs to enjoy some stunning views of the coves and the coast line
Lulworth Cove
Lulworth Cove
Lulworth Cove
Lulworth Cove
After a quiet evening in we got up the next day ready to walk the coast path along the top of Portland. Joined by Carol & Tony, we started from the Portland Heights Hotel and first took a wander through Tout Quarry, finding all the carvings and sculptures that are scattered around.
Tout Quarry
Tout Quarry
Tout Quarry
Tout Quarry
Tout Quarry
What with all the stops made to enjoy the view and to take pictures, it took a good couple of hours to walk the coast path all the way down to Portland Bill but eventually we arrived and enjoyed a cream tea before catching the bus (much to Ralphs relief!) back up to where we’d left the car.
Jurassic Coast
Portland Bill Lighthouse
Jurassic Coast
Jurassic Coast
Jurassic Coast
Jurassic Coast
Then we picked up supplies before
heading back down to the beach to grill up a delicious supper! Ralph and Carol were duty chefs, supplying us with some tasty food as we watched the sun go down on another wonderful day.
Chesil Beach
Chesil Beach
Chesil Beach
Chesil Beach
Chesil Beach
Chesil Beach
Chesil Beach
Iain and I were up and out early the following morning to drive back out to Portland Bill where I wanted to take some more pictures of the coast line, lighthouse and of Pulpit Rock.
Portland Bill
Portland Bill Lighthouse
Portland Bill Lighthouse
Portland Bill Lighthouse
Portland Bill
Portland Bill Lighthouse
Pulpit Rock
Pulpit Rock
Pulpit Rock
Portland Bill Lighthouse
Portland Bill
That afternoon we took Michelle and Ralph to experience another English tradition, the Sunday Carvery, at a lovely little village pub, The Springhead, where we met up with two of my aunts and enjoyed a delicious meal.

More big hugs were exchanged that evening when we met up with my cousins, Rob and Sonia, and the lovely surprise of my Aunty Lesley, who I hadn’t seen for probably 25 years!

Walking back down to the AirBnB I had to stop and capture this lovely view as we passed St Georges church just as the sun was going down.

The Springhead, Sutton Poyntz
St Georges Church
The Springhead, Sutton Poyntz
There was more catch up time the next day when Michelle and I met up for lunch with Katie who, as a student midwife, had come over to our Birth Center to visit a couple of years before. Now a fully-fledged midwife it was lovely to chat with her and see how well she’s doing now that she has graduated and finding her feet in a local hospital maternity unit.
The Fat Badger
Family
Church Ope Cove
After lunch, I took Michelle down to another favorite Portland spot, Church Ope Cove, and then we went for tea with another aunt and uncle before meeting up with the boys back at the house for a tasty Indian take away and an early night…far too much fun we’ve been having!
Church Ope Cove
Church Ope Cove
Church Ope Cove
Church Ope Cove
West Bay
West Bay was our destination the next day. The quiet little fishing town I was familiar with has become infinitely busier since the series Broadchurch was filmed here! We struggled to park as the crowds converge early here now! After a bit of a disappointing pub lunch, I guess they don’t have to try too hard any more, we ambled out along the stone pier taking in more wonderful views of the coast.
West Bay
West Bay
West Bay, Bridport
West Bay, Bridport

Our last day on Portland was Iains birthday. We drove up to the county town of Dorchester where we did a bit of shopping before Michelle and I went off to the hospital where I had done my midwifery training and had worked before we left for Florida. Not only did I train and work there but Marcus had been in the NICU there after transferring down from London and seven years later, I had had Bethany there, so lots of memories came flooding back as we took a tour of the maternity unit. It was so nice to see familiar faces still there and two of the midwives who had mentored me way back when!
Then we were back for our final night on Portland before moving on down to Cornwall…..(coming soon)

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Europe 2018

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Follow our posts as we prepare for our 13 week tour of Europe that starts in May 2018!

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