The last few weeks have been a really good chance to catch up with friends and family. Often being away at weekends, working hard to save up for our travels and general busyness means that I don't get to spend as much time with my family as I would like. Given that we'll be away for a long time, we decided it was important to spend time with both friends and family before we left. First we hired an Edwardian farmhouse in the beautiful Wye Valley with my Mum and her side of the family. We got to feed lambs that were a few days old, see the ruined Tintern Abbey, explore King Arthur's Caves and make the most of the sunny weather by taking my family out in canoes and kayaks.
The weekend before last, we arranged a get together with my Dad's side of the family. Sharon came up with the idea of meeting in St. Albans, spending some time there, having a nice lunch and wandering around the city.
Following that, this weekend we got to see lots of our friends in Reading, with a leaving meal on Friday and a combined house party with a friend who, rather conveniently, was having a birthday. In between that, we've been able to stay at Sharon's sister's house, spending some time with her family, including a pretty good barbecue. Eating and cooking food outside is something I love doing, and it's how finished off our last UK paddle before we leave. After work on Tuesday we headed to the Barble Bar in Theale, met some friends there, and just as the sun was setting, we tucked into sausages and kebabs.
I've been fairly busy finishing things off with work this week and it's only really been when people have asked about the trip and sharing their excitement, experience and jealousy that it's started to sink in that we're actually leaving really soon. We've had so many helpful hints from people who have been places we're going that it's been difficult to remember them all. One thing I won't be forgetting is that it's good to spend time with friends and family. As the date approaches and goodbyes are said, I'm glad that I'm not heading off on my own, I'll miss everyone, but am glad that I'll be travelling with my best friend.