Our last couple of weeks in the UK went by very quickly. We didn't manage to get to see many friends in Birmingham, although we very much enjoyed meals with a few families who we've been close to for many years now. All too quickly it was our final Sunday... and Tim was playing in the music group at Christ Church:
As well as interviewing Richard about his work, they prayed with Tim and said an official goodbye to him, since he's moving back to Cyprus for a year or two.
We had a new experience in our final week; the washing machine in my mother's house stopped working. It was quite old, and good timing in one sense... but we had only taken a week's worth of clothes with us. I tried doing some washing by hand but it wasn't very effective, and was decidedly messy. Then as there's no washing line, it was remarkably difficult to get things dry and I was worried about overloading the tumble drier.
So we found a launderette They're not all that common, apparently, but right by 'studentville' (the popular area for Birmingham University students) we discovered a small and friendly one, with a very helpful man who explained how the machines worked and estimated how many we would need. We had taken several carrier bags of dirty clothes, bedding, and so on... and ended up using three machines:
It wasn't particularly expensive, but suddenly we could quite see why students are renowned for taking piles of laundry home to their parents. I would have done too, if the only alternative was to use a launderette. Not that it was a problem once - it was quite an interesting experience. But it would work out quite pricy and time-consuming to go there every week.
It was while our clothes were churning away that we thought of a new problem: how we were going to transport the clean laundry back to the car? There was nowhere to park nearby, so we were probably a couple of hundred metres away. We could hardly walk through the streets carrying huge piles of wet washing... and we certainly didn't want to pile it back in the carriers we had used for the dirty stuff.
So while Richard waited, I wandered around the local shops in the hope of picking up some useful 'bags for life'.
I had no luck at all. There were only small 'express' style supermarkets nearby, and none of them seemed to sell strong bags.
Then finally I went into an art/craft shop. And I found them. Possibly the ugliest carrier bags I have ever seen, not something I would wish to be seen carrying... but sometimes, as it's said, 'needs must'. The bags were plastic, and looked pretty sturdy. I bought four of them....
They did make it easier to carry the wet laundry back. Since it had spun, we decided to use the tumble drier at my mother's house, rather than paying - and waiting longer - at the launderette. And we also decided that this was an experience we did not particularly wish to repeat.
We spent a lot of time in our last couple of weeks clearing more of my mother's house, sorting paperwork for her, and had a major blitz day on our final Saturday, when all my siblings and their spouses came for the day. It was good to be all together again, albeit briefly.
Happily the bags had another use on our final Saturday, enabling my siblings to transport various small items home with them.