After our wonderful week visiting Jo’s Mum in Toulouse it was time to go and a straightforward early evening flight back to London Gatwick. What could be easier? Things don’t always turn out the way you plan them though do they?
Thunder over Toulouse
A leisurely drive to Toulouse airport from St Antoine where Jo’s Mum and Alan live and a brief, heartfelt goodbye before we breezed through customs and security and found a couple of comfy chairs to wait an hour or so for the Easyjet flight. As we waited the sky got darker and the pitter-patter of light rain developed into a torrential thunderstorm directly overhead.
A couple of messages from our son Ryan, who is a cabin manager for Easyjet, confirmed that the flight would be delayed by at least 2 hours due to the terrible weather. But the information from the French airport staff in Toulouse was non-existent and fairly soon there were several hundred passengers getting very irritated and fed-up. The horrific storm overhead appeared to be getting worse and we could feel the whole terminal shacking as loads thunderclaps echoed all around. One fella next to us who was tracking the flights above us started moaning about being stuck in the airport but Jo told him in no uncertain terms that she would “rather be here than up there in the middle of the thunderstorm circling around and around“.
Eventually the storm moved away and we got aboard but the take-off was a little hairy and the new crew requested that we were patient with them as they’d had a very rough day so far. Everyone seemed pleased to be on their way though and apart from masses of food and drink being bought it was a quick return.
Unfortunately we had missed our train connection at the airport and had to bite the bullet and get a taxi to our Travelodge in Redhill. We never get taxis anywhere, it’s just not our thing, but it was 1am and we were slightly shattered. Hopeless excuse eh?
Another Australian in Redhill
Normally we stay with Ryan when we’re flying but he had Ella’s mum Helen visiting from sunny Brisbane so we decided to give them some space as she was only for a week. Besides, we love Travelodge beds. The most comfortable we have ever slept in. Ever. Have I mentioned that before?
So a couple of nights stay which enabled us to have lunch out with Ryan and then go back to his flat to spend a few hours with Ella and Helen. We had met Helen previously when we were in Brisbane (Is Brisbane the best city in Australia?) so it was lovely to catch up again.
Our first housesit in Essex
All too soon we were on the train again on our way to another housesit, this time in the under-rated county of Essex. Now Essex gets a really bad deal from everyone and it’s reputation has been severely dented by the likes of ‘TOWIE – The Only Way is Essex‘ but it isn’t that bad. I’ll accept that a few of the towns to the south are not great but get past Chelmsford and Braintree and the countryside is just beautiful.
It might be our first Essex housesit but we knew exactly who we would be looking after. How? Well 18 months ago we had spent a fabulous 5 weeks on the Suffolk coast looking after Ed the German Pointer for Mary and Simon. That sit had been their holiday house but this time we were looking after Ed at home in White Colne, Essex.
Reunion with an Old Friend
Simon kindly collected us from Colchester station and we were soon unloading at their lovely period home in the middle of the Essex countryside when a familiar character came bounding up to meet us. Now I’m not sure if he remembered us but we sure remembered him and it was lovely to see him again. Ed is a such a friendly, loving, well-behaved dog and we were so looking after getting to know him again.
However, before we even had a chance to unpack Mary and Simon hit us with an invitation that went something like this …….
‘Do you fancy going to a local beer festival?‘
‘Sounds interesting, where is this so-called festival?’
‘It’s at the East Anglian Railway Museum at Chappel and Wakes Colne station‘
‘Wow. We’d love to go. When is it?’
‘Starts in around 15 minutes!‘
The Chappel Beer Festival
So a quarter of an hour later we were parked up and walking into the Chappel and Wakes Colne station for the 32nd Annual Chappel Beer Festival. What a wonderful way to start out housesit and what a great location for a beer festival.
All of the engine sheds and even carriages had been transformed into beer halls with over 400 different barrels of beer from all over the country. Wandering around from shed to shed we chose various half pints of weird and wonderfully named beer such as Black Buzzard, Wobbly Bob, Golden Cobbler and Billericay Blonde. Our agreed favourite after several pints was Pogonophobia from the local Colchester Brewery.
Pogonophobia , if you’re interested, is a fear of beards. Very apt for the festival as there were a whole crowd of bearded fellas supping anything and everything. It was a great way to start our stay in Essex and so nice to be able to get to have fun with both Simon and Mary again. A fabulous evening.
Housesitting with Ed
Mary and Simon headed out the following day and we settled in to start our couple of weeks with Ed and the glorious Essex countryside. Loads of walks and little towns to visit plus lots of lovely walks with Ed. Really looking forward to our stay here.
05/09 – 11/09/2018