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England Part 4: The South

Or: Toby and Friends.

But that would spoil the pattern, and anyway, we were in the South. To be exact, Bristol, Reading and Wimbledon, which form a pretty straight line along latitude 51° 50' N or so. And after commenting in my previous post that I'd managed to take photos of all the important people, I realise now that I failed to take any of about half of the people Toby met. Including Jen, with whom we actually stayed in Bristol. In my defence, she's hard to pin down long enough to take a photo of - she is one unstoppable lady! As well as being manic at work and dashing around doing all the things she'd planned before we decided to turn up on her doorstep, she managed to invite a few friends round on Friday night and cook a delicious lunch for eight of us (plus puppy and baby) on Sunday. Phew! Makes me tired just thinking about it! Isn't that right, Toby?

We had a hectic time in Bristol ourselves, trying to fit in visits to everyone. As always, there were some we unfortunately had to miss - there's never quite enough time. We spent a nice afternoon with Andy, Ellie, Esther and Susannah, playing in the park and watching Wallace and Gromit (I know, it's a hard life being a mum). The girls really enjoyed seeing Toby.


From there it was on to Will and Lucy's, who cooked a scrumptious dinner for me and played music to Toby to get him to sleep. I missed out on a photo with them, so here's one of Toby looking smart.

Next day I returned to my old haunts at Cairns Cafe, to experience it for the first time as a mother. I got a few double-takes as people adjusted to the idea of me with a baby! We'll have to go back again when Toby is big enough to play on the toys.

We then paid a visit to Claire, and enjoyed a steep stroll around Long Ashton. I just about managed to hang on to the buggy going downhill! Just by way of variety, this is Claire holding a vase of flowers. I thought she looked very ornamental. She did hold Toby too, of course.


The evening was filled with great conversation with friends, ranging over topics as diverse as IVF, tsunamis and knitting. Knitting, it appears, is very trendy these days, although I never got the hang of it when Mum tried to teach me and I can't see myself starting now.


I was excited to see my friend Naomi and her new baby boy, born exactly 4 months after Toby. Luke made my little man look like a right chunk; I couldn't believe Toby had ever been that small!


Also hard to believe we're both sitting here with our babies on our knees - surely it wasn't so long ago that we were hosting wild parties at Linden Road?

Graham's friend Sheridan dropped in for a brief hello and cuddle with Toby, then Toby went off to bed and left me with a pile of root veg to peel for the aforementioned Sunday lunch. You'd think he might have given me a bit of help!

It was worth it, though, and really nice to have the chance to chat to some Cairns Road people for longer than five minutes after church. And talking of church - if you ever get bored during the sermon, the creche is where the party really is!

Back to Reading, and you've already seen most of the family photos from that part of the trip. We also met up with Beth, who I must have known for *cough*20*cough* years and who is now mum to three gorgeous girls. Sophia, the youngest, was excited to meet someone about her size.


As well as his first plane journey, Toby also managed his first bus trip (from Woodley to Reading) and his first train ride during our time in England. We caught the train to Wimbledon to see Claudia, who's studying and working at a church there. Lunch in a French cafe was followed by a stroll on Wimbledon Common. Sadly we saw no wombles.

So, with Toby suitably cuddled, smiled at, cooed over and generally spoilt rotten, we headed back to home and Dad. For more cuddling, smiling and spoiling. Isn't that what babies are here for?

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