Here I am again, but only just after trying to survive the Whittaker equivalent of ‘National Lampoons’ meets ‘Fawlty Towers’ or if you are of an age that saw the brilliant ‘The Plank’ then what I have to recount will be familiar to very many of you! But why it has to happen to us all at once is without explanation….so here goes!
After Roger’s TV Birthday special, and our own surprise party for him in London – London, because the kids with jobs and children couldn’t get over to Ireland. We have a special little Greek restaurant in London, where we celebrate traditionally and only seats around 28 people, and we have been going there for 41 years. It was a huge success with Roger’s sister Betty and her husband, one of my brothers and his wife and a lots of very special people Roger hasn’t seen for a couple of years.
An even bigger surprise was waiting for him immediately after that when we flew to Germany for the Fruhlingfest der Volkmusik’ with our friend Florian as host. Roger knew that they were planning something but had no idea that it was a mini ‘This is your Life’ with all the children and they even flew over our foster son Brett and his little boy, Dorian, from Canada. Due to the ‘watershed’ time slot, the grandchildren weren’t allowed on the set, but the film crew had spent the morning with them, trying to persuade them to go to ‘bedtime’ and tell Grandpa that they loved him etc., The older ones understood but Milo was totally bewildered at having to get back into his pyjamas and say goodnight while it was daylight outside!!! It took quite some persuasion by Emily to get him to act the part.
They gave a huge party after the show, but tired as they were our children, having not seen Brett for two years, stayed up talking until 3.0am. The next day we all took off to Dresden to show our offspring our favourite sights and for Alex, the artist, the wonderful art galleries in the rebuilt palaces. All in all it was the best 5 days of continual celebrations with the family.
We had a couple of peaceful months, showing the house etc., and then we dived off to France for a week, for yet more family celebrations (my sister in laws 60th) in Provence and then to visit very dear friends who moved just north of Toulouse 6 months earlier.
They live in a tiny hill town in the midst of the fruit growing area…and we fell in love with it! And guess what? …within three days we were house hunting there! And guess what again! ..found a delightful, but very rundown house right in the middle of the town, at a very low price (now we have stripped off the plasterboard walls, know why – it needs considerable work!).
We got back wondering if we had gone, finally, completely crazy! Yes and NO! I have been over twice since, in the middle of our ‘Fawlty Towers’ experiences to go over what needs basically doing to it, and pulling out my very dusty French from the long lost folders of my brain, to discuss technical building stuff !
By August we had decided we were probably not going to get a serious buyer for our ‘castle’ in Ireland and asked all the children for Christmas as Emily, her family and Guy and Mette hadn’t joined us for 3 years. No sooner had I settled to the fact that we were going to spend another 6 months at least in that house, than somebody who had seen it twice in the Spring made an offer…on the proviso that they could be in by the first week of October! Whoops! Our little town house 5 miles away that we were gradually thinking of doing up wasn’t even started!
So, it was tighten the belts, put on Military planning hats, gather the troops and try and be out in exactly 4 weeks after signing contracts. The movers for the house were absolutely brilliant, organised, friendly and took their time which stopped me from having a complete meltdown! BUT, we also had to move the studio (specialists need for that) my office and all the rubbish we have collected over 40 years…as well as Alexander’s 12 years of art work.
As the house wasn’t going to be ready till at least the week before Christmas, I had teams helping me clear our the outbuildings, that had once been old school gyms, and the damp and unused granny flat at the back, with two shower rooms. Luckily I had put in a cheap and cheerful little kitchen when we first bought the place. But when I tell you that the actual moving in day saw the carpets going down, whilly nilly, and beds being pushed into any space we could find, and Roger away in Germany, it was the first time that I seriously thought I was going to tear my hair out. At 7.0 that evening, when all the movers had gone, I tried to inveigle the dogs into the car to go to their new home. I had deliberately left it so there was no strangers around to freak them out (They hate cars)
Now when I tell you that Boris and Titch both weigh about 65lbs now, my arms were nearly breaking. and as soon as I got one in, turned to get the other, the first had hopped out again!!! After half an hour of very distressing time for both them and me, I used my mobile to gather assistance! I lifted one in, while somebody grabs the scruff and held, with the hatch back almost closed, then when I had grabbed the next, another helper quickly lifted the hatch while I flung in 65lbs of struggling bulldog!
The next challenge was to move our little cat,Winnie. Bringing her over was no problem, but where to house her to get her acclimatised and comfortable with her very different and new surroundings, was another matter. I kept her in my garden potting shed for two weeks, and then we held our breath and finally let her out. I was quite convinced that would be the last we saw of her, and that she would make her way back to the old house. But No! That very night there was a scrabble at the bedroom window followed by much complaining Miao’s , then huge purrs, and she settle on the bed, with a positive smile on her face!
So, at this point as I said we are living in the granny flat surrounded by our belongings in boxes, and what I haven’t told any of you before (because we didn’t want to court any bad Karma) we are going to be Grandparents again! Jessica and James are expecting a little baby girl the first week of March. So they found a small house in London, but James was assigned new documentary filming in ‘dangerous’ parts of the world for several weeks, so on top of moving here, dashing to France twice for a couple of days to see builders there, I also made two trips to the UK. The first for the experience of my life, that of being with Jessica, together with Emily (girls together) for her mid-term scan and to watch through the miracle of new technology, the first DVD of our granddaughter sucking her thumb, smiling and wiggling all ten toes. Talk about a lump in the throat! we were all nearly in tears with delight.
So I dashed back to Ireland, only to fly back again six days later to help Jessica move! Lets put it this way…I never want to see another packing case, or airport lounge (not to mention horrendous security everywhere) for a very long time!
In the midst of all this Roger was trying to write, supervising various workmen and choosing decorative material for the new house. As soon as I got back he shot off to Germany for final decisions on the concert contents with Michael Hagel.
Actually Roger seems to have thoroughly enjoyed the overwhelming chaos…and has learnt to cook all sorts of meals and proved in many ways that I am nearly redundant!
Apart from one new ceiling coming down (up came all the newly laid floorboards , due to a leak in the new plumbing) we are optimistic that we will be in the house by the 20th, if the multitude of electricians, carpenters, plasterers and painters stick to the schedule (one can but hope) albeit in the three bedrooms, bathrooms and Kitchen…all the rest will just have to be cleaned up, rugs scattered and sofas etc, in place, but not permanently until carpets can be laid in the new year. I have even ordered a tree which we will all decorate together on the 22nd. So wish us luck for our plaster dust covered Christmas. Actually I think it will be quite a ‘giggle’ as there is no way it can be formal in anyway whatsoever.
Up until that week Roger is quietly rehearsing, and Ian came over to sort out stage kit, and the enormous amounts of technical wizardry needed for the tour as January is rushing up to meet us. I do hope I will be able to get over to join him on occasion, if I can find ‘babysitters’ for Boris and Titch (and Winnie) all the while expecting a call from James for me to dash to the UK and assist in anyway I can with the new baby, and trying not to interfere - the bane of all grandmothers who are ‘know it alls’ from their experiences. I will be muttering to myself ‘don’t open your mouth Natalie’ many times I am sure!
Roger leaves the first week of January, and when he gets back for the first break in February, the house should finally be taking real shape, apart from the library which wont be ready until the end of March, and I will be trying to make something of the garden which is a complete mess…but I do have my greenhouse so I will potter in there during the horrible winter weather, and starting my seedlings for the Spring.
I have no news on new albums at the moment, but I will update you the moment we reach an agreement, in which case Roger will be recording after the German tour, so he is far from ‘retiring’ again, and will never say never again, though I honestly don’t think he could tour for so many dates in the future! We are hoping to celebrate his 71st Birthday in Germany and on that score, three more concerts have been scheduled at the very end. The details will be posted on the website "Concerts" page. The concerts are in Cottbus-March 20, Chemnitz-March 21 and Dresden-March 22.m
Again, huge thanks to Vicky, Rory and Jesse for all their hard work on the website and it just remains for me to wish you all a Happy, Healthy Christmas and New Year…or to be politically correct "HAPPY HOLIDAYS"
Love from Roger and myself
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