The Beast from the East and Missmas

Missmas Snow

Arriving back in England after three months away gave us a real mix of emotions. Excited to be seeing family and friends again but sad to be leaving our favourite country New Zealand. The change in temperature didn’t really help either. From a fabulous 25 degrees on Waiheke Island to a less fabulous 5 degrees in London was a bit of a surprise.

Auckland to London Recovery

That flight from Auckland took over 28 hours so we needed a couple of days at least to re-adjust and get back to normal. It plays havoc with your body clock travelling from the other side of the world! So after a couple of days with our youngest son Ryan and his lovely girlfriend Ella in Redhill, Surrey we squeezed in another couple up in Bromley, London with our middle son Sam and his wife Tabitha. Nothing much planned at either place just catching up and relaxing with them before Missmas.


Because we were away over the festive period we decided that a belated Christmas was in order so we booked an Airbnb house over in Epsom for all eight of us for a weekend. Jo christened the event ‘Missmas‘ which seemed perfect and we had all been planning and looking forward to it for a few weeks.






Two and a half days of over-eating and drinking, lots of silly games, and just being together with no distractions turned out to be absolutely fantastic. It is very rare that we all get together these days so it really was an extra-special event. The time flew by though and before we knew it we were heading off to Hitchin with our eldest son Shaun and his wife Katie to spend a couple of nights in their new flat.

Perhaps we should make Missmas an annual event.

So a couple of days with Shaun and Katie before heading down to our old home town of Maidstone and a few nights in the salubrious Travelodge on the edge of the river. It’s really strange but in all the 170 or so different beds that we’ve slept in over the past three years the most comfortable by a stretch are those in the Travelodge Maidstone. How weird is that? So we love staying there for a couple of nights.

Travelodge Maidstone

Maidstone proved to be a hectic few days with us seeing lots of friends for lunches and evening drinks etc. Lovely but tiring. Great to catch up with Leigh and Mandy, Wendy, the Pink Ladies, Mayo, Martyn and Angie. Probably had too many glasses of wine and beers but who’s counting?

JWalkers Split Up

Never thought I’d be saying this but Jo and I split up when we left Maidstone! Heartbreaking after all these years and all of these adventures. It’s probably not quite as dramatic as it sounds as she was heading out to her Mums in Toulouse for the week whilst I was back in Bromley at Sams. It did feel strange and uncomfortable as we aren’t used to being apart anymore and to be honest, and don’t tell Jo this, I am completely hopeless without her by my side.

France was all about Jo helping her Mum to decorate her new house and Bromley was all about me building a website for our daughter-in-law Tabitha so both good reasons. A little more socialising for me when I caught up with my oldest friend Trevor for a day and also managed to visit Keith and Nicola who we’ve known since our college days. Great to see them all but not quite right without my little blonde bombshell by my side.

Beast from the East

This was about the time the weather changed and a huge snowstorm hit the UK heading down from Siberia. I have never known temperatures as low as this in England, minus 7 and 8, or known it to snow for almost 4 days continually. The newspapers labelled the storm as the ‘Beast from the East‘ and it obviously played havoc with transport all over the country. We’re just not ready for these extreme weather conditions and the whole country almost comes to a halt. It’s because we don’t get them regularly so it’s pointless investing in preparing for them but it is a little daft sometimes. Anyway, we had some amazingly great walks in the snow all week and the world always looks cleaner and brighter doesn’t it?


Weekend Shenanigans

Although Jo has been painting and decorating in French France most of my week has been spent developing the new website and doing a few online tasks. All of this sitting around comes to an end on Sunday though when Jo flies back from Toulouse to London Stansted Airport and I get the train up to meet her. Hopefully the snow will have eased off a bit as I’m not looking forward to carrying two cases (she didn’t take her case to France) and a backpack. Then an early night at the Hampton by Hilton hotel and we are off very early on Monday morning to Italy.

Italy? Why are we off to Italy I hear you ask, on holiday again? Actually no we’re not. We are off on another Helpx assignment working for our food and lodging. No idea exactly what we’ll be doing or where we’ll be staying but it will be an adventure. Tell you all about it next time.

12/02 – 02/03/2018


  1. Got to love Missmas, What a brilliant idea.Good to have to see you Jon but enough is enough and we now need to hear about some new adventures. Buona fortuna nella bella Italia.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The snow in the UK is all over my news feed. For the most part, I have the impression most are enjoying it. Here in Northeast US, we are tired of snow and the winter in general. It’s snowing at this moment. It is predicted we will get up to 12 inches on the ground by early Saturday morning. Your Italy trip sounds exciting and mysterious. Good luck and have fun!

    Liked by 1 person

    • We have enjoyed the snow but just aren’t used to it at all so it causes a few problems. Can’t imagine what 12 inches of snow would be like though. Hopefully the airlines are all okay by Monday when we leave for Italy.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Though the Northeast is used to snow, our flight to Tel Aviv was cancelled last February 17th when a snowstorm hit. There was 7 inches of snow on the ground. It was a nightmare at the airport. My family missed the first day of our tour in Israel. I hope you won’t have any issues flying to Italy. Lots of luck!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautiful photos of you all together. Jonno, I love the way you miss Jo so much. Jo, you will need to upscale the tights and tennis ball game, at glamping we use wine bottles!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t really function very well when Jo’s not around and miss her dreadfully so looking forward to having her back. Wine bottles? Assume you have to empty them first somehow?


  4. As Lydia said, lovely to read how much you miss Jo, Jon x
    Love your account of Missmas too, looks like the most perfect way to get the whole family together.
    Looking forward to the next catch-up in May x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Missmas was brilliant Becca, hopefully it could be a regular thing now. I’m only really half a person when Jo’s not around so can;t wait for her to be back.


  5. Love the photo of what I assume is Big Ben in the snow. I’m getting jealous of all the snowy pictures I’ve seen from Scotland & wishing I was back there. Enjoy Italy and all the delicious food there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • London looked incredible in the snow but it’s all melted now. Back to normal. At the airport now and flying to Italy early in the morning so looking forward to a new adventure.


  6. Off, what a contrast weather-wise this trip must have been for you! However, your photos capture the stunning beauty left by the “Beast from the East” upon the landscape. Nothing beats finding a strange bed that is super comfortable, no matter where it may be. Happy reunion and Italy journey to you and Jo!

    Liked by 1 person

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