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…And a partridge in a pear tree!

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We landed in Manchester and were greeted by my Mum and Dad, both relieved to see us, somehow my sister had convinced them our flight landed an hour earlier than it did AND I had told them I was flying with a different airline than we were actually flying with so amidst all the confusion was blind panic.

BUT, we were reunited and even the weather seemed to have cheered up for us arriving. We had been warned of freezing temperatures, treacherous roads and blizzards and arrived to a seasonably mild day. We gossiped all the way back to Alex’s Mum’s house and all had dinner together.

We had a little jet lag to deal with but there honestly was not enough time…we did so much while we were back. We saw all our families, including my new 16 month old nephew who I had only met briefly once on our quick flight back in September 2011, my new brother-in-law and our friends little girl who was born just after we left.

We caught up with all the ‘no longer babies’, our nieces, nephews and god daughter, we spent time with my Nanna and aunts and uncles and caught up with Alex’s Dad. We literally just hung out with our families and friends and it was a typical family Christmas!

Alex’s Mum had kindly offered to pay for me a hair cut for my Christmas gift with her favourite hairdresser Jimi Parkinson at Sessions in Beverley. I was desperate to get it cut and asked her to make me an appointment the next time she went. She told Jimi all about our adventures and booked me in, when she tried to pay for it Jimi offered to cut my hair free of charge. He was so thrilled with our story and excited by the fact that we were out there and spreading a little happiness that he wanted to help us out any way he could! I was so excited and completely entrusted my hair to Jimi the minute I arrived. He is a ‘proper’ hairdresser, he knew from my hair that I have a mild iron deficiency and explained how I could treat it, he washed my hair and dried it so he could see it in its natural state before he cut it.

He explained what he was going to do and why and asked if I was happy…I was a little doe eyed and completely sucked in by this handsome rugged man that he could have asked me if I wanted it shaving off and I might have nodded BUT he thankfully wasn’t, he cut it in a funky, easy to manage style and showed me a great product that would work with my hair but never once tried to sell me a thing (being sold to is one of my pet hates).

Alex asked him for advice on his hair and Jimmy happily offered to cut his too! We made another appointment and looked forward to seeing him again.

Of course Christmas with the family means too much food, wine, and too many presents, Christmas shopping mayhem and lots of driving around visiting people spread all over the country. Typically trying to arrange to see everyone we have missed and not being able to align our diaries at this stupidly busy time of the year and never, ever sitting still for 2 solid weeks!

I drank wine with my sisters, coffee with friends, played with my nephews and neices, ate chicken kebabs. We ate roast dinners till we looked like a roast beef, I pounded space invaders, butter, Branston Pickle, Warbutons bread, real cheese, marmite, Greggs sausage rolls (disgusting I know), Quality Street (it was Christmas), black pudding, Christmas pudding, and we were surprised when we had gained a few pounds when we left!

By the time New Year came around we were wiped out, we thought travelling the globe in a beat up old camper having a wedding every two weeks was tiring, we had forgotten the pace of the Christmas holidays!! It had been so lovely to see everyone and although we had been together the whole time we had started to miss each other! How ridiculous?

We just hadn’t had a minute to ourselves and after 18 months with JUST ourselves it was a little strange. We snuck away for New Year and enjoyed watching the snow fall out of the window of a family cottage in Whitby. We saw in the New Year with a bottle of wine and watched the fire works (for the first time ever) in London on the TV which were absolutely amazing! We had a lie in hangover free on New Years day, definitely a first!

We saw in the new year with excitement and anticipation of all that was yet to come. We had achieved so much in 2012 and could only hope for another incredible year. We were so thankful for all of the support from everyone we had met in 2011 and 2012, friends new and old and over a HUUUGE continent!

I look back at the hundreds of blogs I have written, thousands upon thousands of pictures we have taken and all the things we have done and I can’t really believe it was all us. We pinch ourselves on a regular basis and check that this isn’t all a wild dream. We have driven an entire continent in a 25 year old van. Incredulous is an understatement. We have faced language barriers, breakdowns both mechanical and emotional, more pressure than some couples EVER face and all in a 6 by 16 foot space.

The most incredible thing is that our relationship; our marriage, has only strengthened through it all, moulded harder and tighter by all of our experiences, by our new friends and the support of our friends and family back home…without them, none of this would be possible.

We were also looking forward to Peggy arriving with the New Year. We had been told she would arrive on Xmas day…and then on the 28th…and then that she hadn’t even set sail yet…and then that we could collect her on the 5th of January. We were so worried about collecting her but it turned out to be quite a doddle actually, we chatted and worked out how to get Peggy, quite possibly the first ever Canadian plated vehicle into the UK, with the Liverpool officials. All we can say on the matter is, ship into Liverpool! They were incredibly helpful and within an hour or so we were driving away from the docks in Peggy! We had our home on our home turf!

We were stopped at every traffic light by people asking if Peggy was really from Canada and if we had actually driven her all this way!! It was so nice to have our home back, even if we were going to leave her for a little bit longer before we hit the road again.

Our plans, as I’m sure you have noticed, have to adapt according to a number of things. Time, money and safety, and all of these things meant a change in the original plan. It had taken us more TIME to drive the Americas…double the time allotted to be precise. We had planned on taking 9 months and had taken 18.

Because that had taken longer than originally planned, we had to extend the trip from 2 years to 3 to make it all the way around the world…all on the same budget…so as the trip stretches, so do the funds. But while the trip stretched to encompass more, the budget stretches thinner and thinner.

This meant that we would have to change our plans for Africa. Africa, a huge continent, would take us the same time again to drive around as the Americas. Another 18 months that we couldn’t afford in time or money. Also the safety concerns for some of the northern countries were something to consider. The deteriorating stability in Algeria and Sudan were definitely worrying. So we decided to leave Peggy somewhere safe (with my nephews looking after her) and fly to Africa. BUT, before we could do that we had a few more people to see.

We popped to see Pete and Helen from Didsbury Life and Jonny and Emma Draper in Didsbury, back where it all began! We all laughed and joked and talked of how in all seriousness we couldn’t believe where our wild wedding adventure had taken us already! It was so great to see them even if only for an afternoon.

Next we jumped on the train to London to see a special person who had invited us on to her show…Lorraine Kelly! We went down to London the night before and even managed to arrange to meet up with some new friends for a glass of wine or two. We had been in touch with Bohemian weddings for a while over email and we had all gotten excited about them coming to shoot our wedding in Morrocco! We met with them and talked excitedly about weddings, photography and VW’s (one of Michaels passions) and they really took our minds off the early morning start the next day! We had a great time with them and can’t wait to see them again when we get to Morrocco!

The next morning we were so excited and stupidly nervous about the whole thing. A car came and collected us and we sat silently in the back all the way there. As we pulled up to the studio real life papparazzi were there ready to shoot celebrities as they arrived to be on the show! We are definitely not in THAT category and once they realised they didn’t recognised us they went back to their coffee’s in paper cups and waiting for someone exciting to arrive.

We walked into the studio and waited for our contact to come and collect us. As we waited I recognised the other people that were going to be on the show which made me even more nervous. We were shown to the green room and chatted with the other people waiting. Alex said to a young girl sat next to him ‘What are you in for?’ like he was in prison and asking his cell mate! and I just wanted the couch to eat me up! The little girl was only Isabelle Allen, who plays Cosette, the FACE on the HUGE bill boards all over the country advertising the new Les Miserables movie! She politely told Alex that she was in the Les Mis movie and showed him the large box on her knee and said ‘and this is my gift from Hugh Jackman’ and went on to show us a beautiful plaque engraved with her face and the lines from a song in the movie.

She was so sweet and luckily we then got called to hair and make up before Alex could say anything else embarrassing! Once we got on the couch next to Lorraine and as the adverts rolled Lorraine chatted away with us like we had met a hundred times before. She instantly put me at ease and calmly said ‘I have been following you on twitter, you are on quite some adventure!’ and then it was time. We were live!

A little back story about this whole thing is that while we had been telling our family and friends about going on to the show Alex (being the typical boy that he is) decided it would be fun to ask his friends for challenges to do whilst LIVE on national TV! So he had hand gestures, a table cloth from Jamie Olivers restaurant and all kinds of paraphernalia that he was challenged to show off on the show…. SO there we are, LIVE on national TV and chatting away quite relaxed to Lorraine and then she asked Alex a question…and he had clearly been too busy worrying about his challenges rather than listening to the host of the show! He stammered something like ‘let, me…erm…think about, erm…how, erm to answer that!’ while reddening and looking at me with blind panic in his eyes! I gave him the death look that said ‘CONCENTRATE’ and came to his rescue.

Of course everyone said how endearing it was that he was clearly a little awe struck at being sat with Lorraine Kelly, (click for the vid) but now you all know the truth…he was just being a little MONKEY!!! It was such a great experience and I still can’t really believe that we were on the show! We jumped back on the train and headed home to pack our things and get ready for our next adventure…in Africa!


  1. Jacquie says:

    Your Christmas/New Year visit back to home base will have been so welcome as you were able to reconnect with family and friends. Lorraine Kelly’s show was a great success; great to see you for an extended period of time and you all got on like a house on fire.

    A lovely blog once again. Happy trails 🙂

    1. Lisa & Alex says:

      Thanks Jacquie! It was great to catch up with everyone! x

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