Sunday, April 03, 2011

VoM2: Weekend With My Welsh Family

Last Wednesday, after our wonderful “mini-break” in Cornwall, Betty and I said our good-byes and headed our separate ways. My route took me northeast through Bristol then west across the river into Wales for a semi-surprise visit with my Welsh family in Groes-Faen, near Cardiff.

I say semi-surprise because I had been conspiring with the girls — Jess, Billie and Poppy — for several weeks to make my visit a surprise for their parents, Jan and Rhian. After some frantic texting to time my arrival at just the right moment, I met the girls outside their house and they led me in. They’d done a perfect job of keeping it a surprise, and were rewarded with a few moments of complete shock on the faces of their parents, followed by a riotous time for us all of jumping up and down, hugging all around and some very high-energy, high-volume enthusiasm. It was a very sweet experience for me, and I thank them for helping to make it so. Even sweeter — as only great friends can sometimes do — it took us just a few minutes to settle in and pick up where we left off from the last time we were together four years ago.

To try to put this in a little perspective, here is a photo of me with the girls when I met them on a ship down in Antarctica.

Here is a photo we took today, clear proof that while some things definitely change, some things don’t.

Our time together over the past few days has been simply wonderful for me. Among the highlights was attending two performances of a Peter Pan musical play that the girls were in, for which I presenting them with Tinkerbell-themed chocolates and tiaras.

We also visited the St. Fagan’s Welsh Heritage Museum — a fantastic outdoor historic village — and couldn’t resist taking an old-fashioned family photo together. (Jan and I let the girls select our outfits, as if we might have had any choice in the matter!)

We also “went up a hill but came down a mountain” which I’ll post something about later!

Even beyond all the fun activities together, though, it has been most special for me to be included in family meals, to hear all the latest about what’s going on in their lives and to refresh a set of very special friendships. I’m already looking forward to our next time together! Thank you Welsh!

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