Well Lisa and I are back from a weekend in Chelmsford, we haven't been burgled, and I've eaten enough home-made gingerbread to build a house for Hansel & Gretel. Hurrah! Our reason for visiting Essex (you wouldn't want to go there without one) was to spend some quality time with my Big Sis before she heads back to America to complete her quest to visit every US state before the end of June. She's starting in Texas, which is odd because I'm sure she's already been there.
Anyhoo, Saturday was spent in my parents' garden, catching up on the latest developments in my sister's love life. I'm not saying a lot's happened, but by the time she'd finished telling us, Lisa was sunburnt.
As if that wasn't enough, we were then forced to forego the chance to see the cast of 'Allo 'Allo reunited on BBC2, in favour of watching a video on Alaska. Big Sis flies into Anchorage in a month's time and, judging by the video, will be flying straight back out again shortly afterwards. Suffice it to say, she wasn't impressed. Much like the cast of 'Allo 'Allo, Alaska features a lot of decrepit animals being killed off one by one, most of which was depicted on the video. Which might explain why Big Sis walked out after half an hour. It was a shame though, because she missed the bear wrestling the caribou, which for me was the highlight. It was like Celebrity Deathmatch but with more blood. And less celebrities.
Anyhoo, Big Sis's trip may be ill-considered (I call it half-baked Alaska) (well ok, I don't), but it's not all bad. The politicians look quite cheery. Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin is apparently "married to the three-time champion of the world's longest snowmachine race". So I take it she's not Michael's wife then. She is, however, a lifetime member of the NRA, so I expect she helps to keep up the local death toll (animals only, obviously).
Personally I prefer Lieutenant Governor Sean Parnell. He's a fly-fishing volleyball player and, according to the government website, "One of Sean's greatest hopes is to empower Alaskans by unleashing their potential to build healthy families". I love meaningless political soundbites. If only Warren Morgan would come out with something like that.
But anyway, having learnt everything there is to know about the 49th state, we spent Sunday in the slightly less exotic Southend-on-Sea, where we enjoyed a meal at 'Strawberry Field', a restaurant on a dual carriageway next to a Travel Inn. Well, I say 'enjoyed'. My Dad's chicken was cold, they got my Mum's order wrong, and my niece was disappointed that you couldn't pick your own strawberries, but apart from that it was lovely.
We eventually made our way home yesterday evening, stopping only to buy Pains au Chocolat from a service station on the A23. Having slept on an inflatable mattress for two nights, those weren't the only pains I was experiencing last night either. The ones in my back just seem to have lasted longer.