Family times

Pic. Out enjoying a hike on Keeper Hill for Kate’s birthday.
Sorry to those that have been following the blog for the interruption to my usual service but its been a busy few weeks since leaving Sweden. Too busy to fit in one post and make it readable so I’ll take two posts to get you up to speed. As always there are pictures and a summary down the end for group 1.
Pic. UK family times.
From Sweden we headed first to the UK. We took the train from Kalmar to Copenhagen airport. Kate’s parents ordeal on their Copenhagen to England flight was fresh in our minds (they overnighted in the airport and were treated terribly by Ryanair), so when we saw that our flight was delayed we crossed our fingers that we would not suffer the same fate. While it was late, it was due to a lack of staff at Stansted. The real delay came at Stansted at the passport checks (4 staff on and several plane loads of people coming in) and the baggage pick up. The staff that was there were run off their feet. Our guy at the passport check was great and despite being under a bit of pressure he got a chuckle out of us being ‘The Adams Family’. We’d hoped that in the almost two hours that we’d waited for the passports that our bags would’ve arrived but that was another half hour. It was great to see Ian and Barbara at arrivals and we appreciated the snacks in the car. A 13 hour trip from the time we left our house in Kalmar. Saoirse was a trooper. She probably appreciated the extra milk she got that day. Bribery will probably get more complicated and expensive as she gets older…


Pic. Two messers!
Matt, Zahra and Zeina were back from Qatar for the week, and Andrew and Laura stayed over a couple of days so it was a full house at the Tollidays. It was great to catch up with everyone and to see Saoirse and Zeina playing together. We just cannot compete with a little kid when it comes to getting Saoirse’s attention. It was hot so there was paddling pools, bubbles and plenty of laughter. On the Thursday we went to Birmingham to see the ‘In the night garden’ show. I hadn’t known about it but Zeina is into it in a big way. The characters came out on stage to what I can only describe as a rock star welcome. The kids went off! Saoirse was awestruck. More interested in watching the other kids at times but she watched the show intently.


Pic. In the night garden. What a show!
Another day we had a day cycling around Rutland water. Everything was going to plan until Matt got an irreparable puncture halfway around so Kate and I set off with Saoirse to the car. We were a reasonable distance down the road when Matt rang to say he still had the keys. I popped back while Kate continued on with Saoirse. Despite my best efforts I only caught Kate with a mile to go. She’d cycled some pretty steep hills with the trailer in tow. Awesome effort!
That feels like a bit of a quick summary of a 6 day trip but the in between times were also fun just hanging out, catching up and eating some great food. I was glad I was getting a daily run in as seconds were always tempting! For the first time I planned out some loops on the local rambling routes and really enjoyed running through the fields. Some very dry conditions though and there were big cracks on the dirt tracks that reminded me of some of the post earthquake roads in Christchurch.


Pic. Irish Family times. Unfortunately Hugh, Michelle were out for a walk when John and Aoife were leaving but we’ve a few photos of Michelle, Dylan and Saoirse hanging out. We’ll have to make a special effort to get us all in when we’re back later this year!
Pic. Hugh was on the other side of the camera that day but luckily Dylan drew a portrait of him.
We caught a plane from Birmingham to Dublin on the Saturday and met Frances at the airport. A much more straightforward journey this time. Frances may not want this to be public knowledge but we were in Ireland for a special occasion, her 60th. Our family friends, the Dorney’s, came up from Cork, Dymphna came from Longford, and Hugh, Michelle, Dylan, John and Aoife came down for a big catch up on the Sunday. Despite protests, Frances had done some prep for her own party but she was happy to relinquish control of the kitchen on the day. It was a great day and Saoirse had fun seeing all the older kids running about.
The following day was Kate’s birthday so we headed out for a walk up Keeper Hill. Unfortunately we went on a beautiful, but scenic, road there so we didn’t have the time to hike to the top and instead did a nice loop through the woods.


Pic. The view over Lough Derg.
The following day we met up with Paul for a hill walk and a lunch in Killaloe. Really great to have Lough Derg so close to Nenagh. Beautiful country.
If you’re ever in Nenagh and looking for a run/walk I can recommend the Slieve Eala that goes down by the river. Beats the road any day.
On the Wednesday, we set off for Dublin and a Thursday morning flight with Frances “Muddie” Flood in tow. We stopped into the Irish National stud as it was a good distance to go before breaking up the trip for lunch. I wasn’t expecting much but it was fascinating. An insight into a different world really. There is an incredible amount of money involved in the industry with one horse, Invincible spirit, costing nearly half a million per live birth. We had an excellent tour guide who got a few laughs out of the crowd every time we stopped. The funniest was about “Tommy the teaser”, the male horse they use to see if the mare is ready. If she is Tommy gets led out and Invincible Spirit or one of his mates gets led in. If not, Tommy gets a kick in his downstairs and faces the prospect of another the next time they check… Poor Tommy! He’ll never win.


Pic. Some highlights from the national stud. When I worked in the racecourse, Beef or Salmon was the big name at the time.
Hey group 1. There will be a couple of posts to get you up to speed coming this week as I’ve been busy with other things and the blog has fallen by the wayside. We had two great weeks with family following our first stint in Sweden and are on our way back to Kalmar via Copenhagen in this update.

One thought on “Family times”

  1. Hi Mark,

    loved reading your blog and seeing the photos !

    Glad to see you are all getting on well.

    Looking forward to the next blog, hoping to hear your holiday adventures with Muddie.

    Agnes 🌺


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