The final day of our trip was dedicated to another family member. Someone who often gets forgotten because of his shy, mild-mannered nature but is the loveliest grandparent you could ask for. He never forgets a Christmas or birthday card – ever – and is always willing to open his home to his children and grandchildren. And that’s Grandad.
My favourite childhood photo is on Grandad’s garden bench where he has one arm wrapped around me, a cheeky smile on my face and blonde bunches visible on top of my head – yes that’s right, I made the pineapple-look fashionable – and of course I’m wearing some horrible 90s outfit. I think a bright pink reebok sweatshirt with some horribly patterned leggings. Back when I was all cute and innocent.
Unfortunately I don’t have that image to hand – something to do with it being in my purse when it was stolen. However, these are some pictures I have from that adorable era of my life…
We made the hour journey into Loughborough and I gradually got more excited as we got closer. It had been a while since I’d seen him, perhaps eight months? But before then, I don’t think I’d seen him two years.
We pulled up out the front and I bounced from the car, keen to get his present from the boot. We made our way up the path and knocked on the door. He opened it, having to tug at the bit where it gets stuck and gave me a hug. I introduced the Lover to him and we went all went to join Auntie S from the South in the living room.
I didn’t need to glance around to know that nothing had changed but I liked the memories it brought back. I looked over towards the empty fireplace where the singing Christmas pudding is put every year. Definitely the best decoration in the house.
Grandad doesn’t talk much. Like I said, he’s quite shy. So we made conversation and encouraged him to join in. He did and always surprises with his sense of humour when he admits being a football hooligan and regularly goes streaking across the pitch. I couldn’t help but laugh.
This is not true by the way.
I give him his gift, a photo frame containing a collage of photos from the past year of Me, CJ, Mum and Stepdad – I did also sneak one in of the Lover, but sssh. What do I need another picture of you for? He asks me. I laugh, look round the room and point out there aren’t any up, that’s why!
We then discover that he’s going out for the day with Auntie S from the South, Cousin A and Cousin M. He rolls his eyes at me in exaggerated annoyance as he knows this entails going into Primark – every man’s worse nightmare. It’s okay, I told him, you can get yourself a new dress and some heels. He smiles and nods, followed by another exaggerated roll of the eyes.
I ask him about work and how he’s been getting on, whether he still cycles everywhere and he nods. He’s got no other way to get around, he tells me. 74 and still going strong! He does admit his plans to retire, which is a surprise but a good one, we’ve been telling him to retire for years!
Cousin Ally rocks up at the door and it’s time for everyone to go.
We say our goodbyes and drive away as Granddad stands at the window, waving. We decide to head into the town of Loughborough for lunch and a wander round. It doesn’t’ take us long to realise that there’s not much there. Remembering the little muffin café in the corner near M&S, we wander up that way and grab a bite to eat. I order a brie and cranberry Panini and the Lover orders a mozzarella, tomato and pesto one.
Upon returning for the toilet, I discover that they’ve actually delivered me a brie and bacon Panini. No biggie, but sometimes the bacon gives me stomach aches – you know, the grease and all that. The Lover offers to swap, being the martyr he is but I settle for a half and half option. After finishing the brie and bacon half, I pick up the mozzarella and tomato half, take a bite and see the squirt of tomato juice that leaves my sandwich, splats onto the wooden panel to my right that acts as a divider and feel the warmth on the sleeve of my blue and white striped jumper.
The Lover bursts into laughter and I hang my head, wanting nothing more than to burst into tears. Why it’s had this effect on me, I don’t know, but I suspect it has something to do with the entertainment I’ve unknowingly provided the Lover.
I carefully wipe the tomato from my sleeve but there is no mistaking the red stain and I consciously try to hide it. After a not so successful lunch we wander back through the town, realise there’s nothing to do and decide to head to someplace new. Somewhere that was preferably indoors as it was starting to get a little chilly. We decide to stop at Mans field, about half way between here and our hotel. At least we could go there for a coffee on our way back.
We pass a sign for the Midlands Designer Outlet and in a split decision change course and head there. The car park was full and after a quick once round the shopping centre, we decided to visit Costa. The first drink they made me was terrible and tasted like warm milk – it was supposed to be a hot chocolate – so I asked them to make me another. This one wasn’t much better, and neither were the dirty looks that the woman in the queue gave me.
I then suffered from the rookie mistake of trying to hurry up a hot drink which meant that I scalded my tongue. It didn’t matter that this drink was just as flavourless, I couldn’t taste anything anyway! I hastily dumped it in the nearest bin and went in search of a designer handbag to cheer me up. I bought one from Fiorelli. Happy chappy!
We finished our browsing and headed back to the car. Soon we were on our way to Mama’s.
We spent the evening enjoying the company of Mama and Mama El. Ate some fish and chips, fussed over the two dogs which meant I was in my element and enjoyed a cup of tea. We watched a bit of the X Factor and let ourselves relax after such a hectic weekend.
One of the Twins turned up not too long after that for a quick ‘pop-in’ visit as she was staying with her boyfriend nearby. We took that as our queue to leave and said our goodbyes.
The remainder of the trip was uneventful. In fact all that was left, was the journey home the following day. It didn’t take us too long – about 4 hours – before we were snuggled on the sofa catching up on Eastenders.