Hurray! I managed to get through the chest infection without becoming a resident of my friendly neighbourhood hospital :oD It was a very close thing at time, and I suspect that if I hadn't had the spur of the christenings at the weekend to help me then I would have given in and gone in. Sometimes my stubbornness pays off though, and this time I got lucky :oD I was pretty ill for several days, but was thankfully just well enough to make the drive to Combermere Abbey in Shropshire, where we were staying, on Friday, and by the time Sunday came around I was feeling a lot better. I've still got some of that post-infection fatigue, which probably isn't helped by having gone gallivanting off round the country at the weekend, but the weekend was soul-reviving, and it was wonderful to see Oliver and Daniel again (and the rest of the family of course!).
I had what you might call an 'interesting' journey down to Shropshire. The traffic was heavy from the outset and it got a heck of a lot worse very quickly, taking me almost three hours to get from just Newcastle to York - a journey that should take under two hours! However, I should have guessed that it wasn't going to be straight forward when I got as far as Washington and saw a man standing on the wrong side of the railings on a bridge over the motorway. He was perched precariously, and was in such a position that if he'd jumped off the bridge the driver of the vehicle that would hit him wouldn't see him until he was in mid-fall. There wasn't anywhere I could stop immediately as it was a motorway, but I knew I wasn't far from a service station, and I knew that I couldn't risk doing nothing, so I drove the short distance to the services and thought for a second what to do. Although Washington isn't far from Newcastle I really don't know my way around and I had no idea at all how to get up to the bridge where this man was. I decided that the only thing I could do was call the police and explain the situation, so I did, and they seemed a little perplexed at first as to why I wasn't with the man or hadn't spoken to him, but once they understood that I was just a passing motorist on a busy motorway who'd seen someone looking actively suicidal they quickly got into gear, and before long I was in the company of a couple of nice policemen. The told me that other officers were on scene and thanked me for contacting them ... and then I felt a bit useless because I couldn't do anything else, and I don't know the outcome, but I'm guessing that he was stopped from killing himself and possibly others on the motorway as I didn't hear anything on the news ... not that I would've done while away in Shropshire ... It was all a bit surreal, and completely unexpected. It also brought back a lot of bad memories of times in my past when I was actively suicidal, but it was probably because of those times that I knew I had to do something, even if I couldn't get to the man myself. Being so depressed that you can see no way through other than self-destruction and suicide is one of the worst chronic experiences I think there is (though I'm sure some will disagree and suggest other things). I sincerely hope that whoever the young man was he is getting the help he needs.
After all that it didn't seem to matter so much that I was stuck in traffic for hours on end - there were worse situations I could've been in - though it was tedious. The journey as a whole should've taken a little over three and a half hours, but it took almost six and it was pitch black when I stumbled across Combermere, and I'd have missed the turning if it hadn't been for my sat nav. Anyway, I eventually made it and met up with various aspects of my family :o)
The whole weekend was lovely, the children are wonderful, and the baptism was delightful, even if the vicar was a little odd. Regardless of his sexuality, he was incredibly camp, and I wasn't too sure about some of his theology. When we were gathered around the font at the back of the small, country church, he said, 'The font is like a big washing up bowl. God is the Fairy Liquid.' Er ... riiiiiight. He took hold of Daniel (6 months old) at arms length, failing to support his head in any way at all so Daniel looked most uncomfortable and was straining to keep his head up, and the priest then proceeded to pour the water not just over Daniel's head, but into his eyes ... twice. I can confirm that this combination of circumstances is recipe for a screaming child. Oliver (2 years old) was next, except the priest reached out not for Oliver, but for Ollie's cousin, Gemma (18 months old). My brother and sister-in-law steered him towards the right child and Oliver was almost dropped into the font head-first. This didn't bother Oliver though, and he spent the whole time giggling and thoroughly enjoying the experience of baptism :o) In fact he seemed to have an altogether lovely time ... except for when the priest accidentally kicked him over on his way back up the aisle at the end of the service.
On Monday morning, when Mum, J and I had packed and vacated the cottage we'd been staying in, we went over to where my brother and his family were staying so that we could help them pack and/or distract the children. Daniel was fast asleep and looking ever so scrumptious when we arrived so no job to be done there except keep an ear out for him waking. Oliver, on the other hand, needed a bit more occupying so we took it in turns to play games with him, or help pack things up. Ollie had clearly loved 'his party' the day before, and summed up his weekend when he ran between Mum and J on one sofa and me on an opposite sofa, throwing himself at us with his face covered in smiles, and calling out, 'Happy people! Happy people! Happy people!' Utterly delightful!