Trip Start Sep 30, 2005
88Trip End Jun 04, 2006
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In preparation I'd spent a hugely enjoyable and totally sober couple of days in the company of my cousins and half-cousins and people I'm related to but don't know how to describe. I get on well with almost all of them, so there must be something right in the genes, and there was also a fond echo of my time teaching in China and growing personal maturity that makes me so much more at ease around little kids. There were also the inevitable humorous moments of ladishness mixed with extreme lucidity and credible solutions to the World's problems in Uncle Kenny's "sport viewing room". As ever it's a hive of interesting conversation and great humour visiting Kenny and Irene. It didn't take me long to forget the agro of work and to relax which is, at the moment, the best barometer for the way I feel.
All this family oriented, sensible, good behaviour was an appropriate build up to the cider festival... Well, actually I'd been had. There was no cider festival as such, but when you've been psyching yourself up to drink the stuff there's nothing else to do except be brave and stand at least as much of it as Tasha and Doug. To be fair, I enjoy the odd pint of fizzy apple juice when I'm parched in mid-summer or after a bit of exercise, but that's usually as far as my West Country birthright goes. Give me a pint of Spitfire or London Pride any day. Nonetheless, I will fondly remember my visit to scenic Ledbury, it's choice of friendly pubs and the wonderful welcome and food I got from Tasha and her family. After what feels like aeons of city life, I'll also remember the shock at waking to the lush, green silence outside the bedroom window. I thought that things were strange for me in China where I met Tasha, but to come from this open space to the ceaseless hubbub of a dusty, grimy city must have been really weird.
It's fun to have come to this "3-man cider festival", but it's also added another dimension to my reflections on me, my perceptions of where I was and where we were and are now, and what it means to have friends that you meet in weird places. More than ever, I count myself fortunate to have found a friend with a totally different set of life experiences, but also to have been reminded by seeing the traits in another family of how much of my total freedom to explore and travel is based upon a supportive, trusting, positive and loving family. This base and set of values has equipped me with a mindset and the ability to do so many things that are viewed by the 2.3 kids and a Volvo estate crowd as unconventional. Seeing someone else with a similar opportunity made me understand my own situation all the better. It was a good, fun trip, but not much of a cider festival if truth be told. We'll hopefully save that for another day and another pint of the yellow, fizzy, sweet, appley stuff. Thank you!