The next morning we got up super-duper early (4am) and Reco, the nice guy that he is, drove us to the Kusadasi airport. We flew from there to Istanbul and then from Istanbul to Gatwick. Security at Turkish airports is intense, but pretty efficient and the airline was very helpful – even though our flights were in different terminals and through different airlines they checked our baggage straight through. Certainly made going through customs while exiting the country easier! Our first flight was easy, short and nothing to mention really, but the second flight was intense. Turned out we’d managed to get super cheap tickets on the inaugural flight from Istanbul to Gatwick flown by Turkish Airlines. And boy were they excited. They served champagne and chocolate and cake and then even tried to provide a not disgusting version of airplane food! All in all, not a bad way to fly!
We arrived in London and got to fight our bags all the way to the train to Nottingham (which cost a good pound of flesh at a peak time) but before we knew it we were back in Nottingham where Will’s lovely father picked us up. We met Will’s brother Michael and had dinner with the family before Will came home from his new(ish) job. We had a lovely few days with them before heading to East Leake to stay with Janice’s great aunt and uncle over Christmas.
Clive and Joan were lovely people with a truly British sense of humour and Joan always managed to feed us very well! Also visiting over Christmas was their daughter and her husband and son from Germany. It was nice to have more people around. On Christmas Eve we went into town with them and wandered around the Christmas market and shopping centre before having lunch. Janice’s grandmother had unfortunately passed away a few days before, so we had a relatively quiet time and spent lots of time talking to our loved ones back home. It was a real treat to be able to skype – not something that can be done on the road in a busy hostel or in a stranger’s home.
On Boxing Day Janice and I went for a lovely walk around East Leake and wandered through fields and past the old church. It’s a very pretty, if quiet, English village and the countryside is just beautiful. The weather was also unseasonably warm and the grass was still green and growing! The next day Janice and I went out with Clive for lunch at their local pub – very tasty and a nice end to our visit as the next day we headed off on the train to London.