The last few weeks have been really busy – Nathan has been searching for work experience and volunteering opportunities and Cerys has been taking part in end of term activities.
In amongst all of this activity Andre and I have celebrated 25 years of married life! It has been a rollercoaster 25 years, and I can’t say it has always been easy – we have certainly had some challenges thrown our way – but we have meandered, pushed and sometimes stomped our way through, and here we are, 25 years later, still together, proud to be with each other and loving each other more than ever.
To celebrate we spent 4 days in Rome, ON OUR OWN, no kids! This was only possible because Andre’s sister Lisa and her husband Philip did a fantastic job of taking on the responsibility of caring for Nathan and Cerys, alongside our brilliant carers from Carewatch Redditch and Bromsgrove. (https://www.facebook.com/Carewatchredditch/) This meant we could relax and enjoy our time away.
It felt very different to be travelling alone, no wheelchairs, and to not have to constantly ensure everyone else’s needs are met as well as your own.
We chose to stop in a beautiful, old hotel in the heart of Rome, close to all the sights and surrounded by historic buildings and lovely restaurants. Our room at Albergo Casari (http://www.albergocesari.it/en/) overlooked the small square below, was a great base to explore Rome from and provided me with somewhere to rest (and sleep!) after a day out sightseeing, before we went out to eat at night. Breakfast was held on a roof top bar that offered great views.
On the Friday we had booked to visit the Vatican city via the Dark Rome tours. We both feel that this was the best way to visit the Vatican as it meant we ‘skipped the line’, essential as the Vatican was crowded and the queues to get in were enormous. Elizabeth, our Guide, was very knowledgable and really enhanced our experience of visiting the site. The Vatican is an amazing place, with its sculptures, paintings and mosaics. The opulence is incredible and, obviously, the Sistene chapel is somewhere that can only really be appreciated by visiting it. Our tour ended in St Peter’s Basilica, which, again, everywhere you look there are sculptures and works of art. Whilst we were there a group of German marching bands held a service there. As they played their instruments marching into and out of the Basilica, it created an amazing atmosphere. You can go up into the dome of St Peter’s – part of the way by lift, and the rest of the way by foot, climbing many narrow steps. Needless to say I went up as far as the lift took us and then let Andre do the rest on his own, whilst I had a rest out on an area overlooking St Peter’s Square. When we had finished our visit we took a slow walk back through the cobbled streets, stopping for an ice cream, back to our hotel so I could have a rest before we went out to eat. After our meal, we started exploring once more and turned a corner to find ourselves at the Trevi Fountain, somewhere I have always wanted to see and one I can now tick off my bucket list!
On the Saturday we decided to visit the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill. It was hot, so ensuring she took on plenty of water, this nearer to 50 than 49, single ventricle walked from the centre of Rome, around the Forum and up the hill to the top – and back again! I was actually rather proud of myself, although I must confess as soon as I got back to the hotel I was asleep! We found the area fascinating, imagining all the people that would have lived there in Roman times and filled the bustling streets and temples. It was quite romantic to sit and have lunch together half way up the hill, and, at times, as we wandered round, it felt like we had gone back in time to when we used to go away together before we had the kids!
On the Sunday, in the morning we went to view the Pantheon, which was situated right by our hotel. I’m still wondering where the many people that are waiting outside, go to once they get in, as once inside it opens out and suddenly it doesn’t feel as if that many people are in there! In the afternoon we visited the Colosseum, finding the museum interesting and informative of the history of the site. It is so large and when you look down into the area where the people and animals were kept before being brought up into the arena, you can only imagine how frightening that must have been to know that you were inevitably going to meet a violent death. The Colosseum is also the only place I have ever had to show my pacemaker card, to avoid going through the metal detector, on leaving as well as arriving!
As the Monday was our last morning we chose to take a gentle walk around a couple of Piazzas and found our way to the Spanish Steps.
It was an amazing holiday – we saw everything we wanted to see, and although we would have liked another day to just slowly explore a little more we were very happy with our trip.
Although we had a slight blip getting home, when we did eventually arrive at our door, we found it had been covered in banners to celebrate our 25th – a lovely welcome back.
A week later we went out for a meal with Nathan, Cerys, Lisa and Philip, which apparently Nathan had researched and planned. We also spent a pleasant afternoon at Charlcote Park.
Finally, we were invited back to the hotel where we held our wedding reception for an event they were holding to celebrate 80 years of the hotel.
It has been an exciting time, with what feels like celebrations galore!