Apologies for the radio silence, but it has been in a good cause.
We were supposed to embark on the next leg of our adventure – a cargo ship from London to Montevideo – last week, but while we were in Iceland we got news that the dates had shifted, and we would actually sail on the 18th December as opposed to the 12th.
This gave us options – hang out for another week in the UK, spend more time in Ireland, or pull off a big surprise to the folks back ‘home’ in Portugal.
With help from my brother, we managed to fly from Ireland to Portugal and surprise my parents, casually walking into a café where they thought they were meeting my brother for mid-morning coffee.
Lauren and I hid down on the beach until they arrived, which was no great hardship with December weather like this:
Finally we saw my Dad’s car pull up, and we raced ninja-style across to a spot where they wouldn’t be able to see us, then crept up the stairs behind them and into the cafe.
I wish I’d got a picture, as the realization slowly dawned that their much-loved granddaughter and daughter had just walked in, when they thought they weren’t going to see us for another 7 months. They were literally speechless – dad got out a ‘what the….?’ and mum not even that, and as Lauren loves telling people, their mouths ‘were actually hanging open’.
We spent a lovely 5 days at ‘home’ (as much as anywhere is home these days), including a trip to our favourite Indian restaurant, innumerable toast and coffees, a few walks along the beach or cliffs, some sunshine and some rain. We also put up the Christmas tree together.
Really it was just lovely to see everyone, including my nephew who is growing up into a lovely lad thanks a great deal to a devoted father. We will definitely miss every one of them over the next 7-8 months until we return to Portugal, despite the wonders of skype, whatsapp and email. Christmas will feel particularly strange, as we will be mid-atlantic and unable to even call. But an Ennis Christmas rarely deviates from a much-loved pattern so we will be able to imagine the champagne for breakfast, the charades, the complaints and eye-rolling from mum about the ridiculously big turkey the men bought, and the perfectly cooked result after she works her magic.
We got back to the UK yesterday, to a snow-covered country tearing itself apart over Brexit.
We will be glad to get away again next week, aboard the Grande Amburgo, or ‘great hamburger’ as we have re-christened it.