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I recently spent a week at home visiting my parents. It was a bit different from my usual trips up North: my parents recently moved house, from the semi where I grew up in a large town to a new detached house in a much smaller village.

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New house

It was a tad strange going into a completely different house, but once I was there, I was ok – seeing my parents so much happier in their new home made a lot of difference. The new place is bigger than the old one, and one room is going to be a LIBRARY.

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The garden

I still keep the majority of my books at home, as I simply don’t have the room to have them in London. Therefore I spent much of the week visiting various friends and relatives, rescuing boxes of books that they had kindly offered to look after, and sorting them onto the shelves in the library and my own bedroom.

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My room

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Bookcase

I also found the time to sort out some old toys. Frankly, these deserve a blog post of their own, but here are a couple of pictures to be going on with.

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Ariel

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Swan Keyper

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GoGo My Walking Pup

I did find the time to get out of the house a few times. I spent a day in Durham with my mam: we visited an exhibition at Durham University and had the chance to see Bishop Cosin’s Library in Palace Green Library, which was a real treat. We had tea and cake at Vennel’s café and later went out to the pub quiz that my dad has been going to for years.

We visited my brother at one point, and the two of us had a great game of Blades of Steel, an amazing retro NES game that we loved as children. It has the most horrendous graphics, but it is really simple to pick up and loads of fun to play.

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For many years, when I was younger, my parents, my brother and I, along with my parents’ friends and their two children, would go to Ambleside in Cumbria each year during the Autumn half term in order to visit the garden centre there, which had an amazing collection of Christmas decorations. Although all of us children have now grown up and left home, our parents still make the trip every year, and this time I was able to accompany them for the first time in about a decade.

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Ambleside

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Car park

I’m not sure this was such a good idea, however. I have brilliant memories of the place, but it’s probably a mistake to try and recapture old feelings. The garden centre is pretty much the same, and the Christmas section is as impressive as ever, but the play area where us four children would spend hours is long gone. Obviously, I’m a bit old to be going on the swings myself, but I still feel sad about this!

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My final day out was to Newcastle, where I met up with a friend, had some hot chocolate and visited Fenwicks Window (another yearly tradition when I was small). It wasn’t as impressive as last year’s, which was Alice in Wonderland-themed, but I did like the Northumbria Police speeding ticket stuck to the side of the sleigh.

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One of the strangest things about my parents moving is that I now need to get the train from Durham, not Newcastle. Still, it was nice to be able to wait on the platform with Durham Cathedral looming impressively from a distance.

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At the station

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Durham Cathedral

So that was my week at home: I’ll be back at Christmas!

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