Of course one of the first points of order was a trip to visit a very special person indeed, M.r Claus himself!
|Off The Grid||
This post picks up as we journeyed back to the UK from Thailand for our first ever Xmas in the England with the kids. The excitement was tangible, and trying to manage the expectations of snow and the perfect Christmas was pretty difficult! The first smack of excitement was dealt as we landed in Heathrow and exited the building to find our cab. It was freezing cold, bleak and dark, not the most welcoming of scenarios, but the joy of being able to see your breath in front of your face gave everybody a sense of wonderment and joy. The kids thought it was the coolest and most magical thing in the world and loved pretending to be fire breathing dragons.
The cold was of course relative, to us it was freezing, but to the local Englishman, this was actually quite mild, and in fact it turned out to be the mildest winter ever recorded since records began in 1659. It was great for us that we were treated to a gentle winter, but a blatant and stark warning to all that climate change is a real threat to our planet and overall wellbeing.
Mild maybe, but we were bloody cold!
Our stay in England was an extended one and lasted 3.5 months, the longest we have stayed in any one country since the start of 2015; when we spent 3.5 months touring New Zealand. Again, we were home swapping our way around the country, interspersed by staying with the trusty Parents/Grandparents, always willing to accept our huge family and everything that comes with it!
Of course one of the first points of order was a trip to visit a very special person indeed, M.r Claus himself!
Santa was given strict instructions of where we would be this year, and yes, this year, there was a chimney!
This post picks up from where we left the amazing city of Rome and headed ‘home’ to England to spend time with family and celebrating many, many birthdays! Somehow September has a very concentrated Birthday count, including our very own Sophia’s!
The first celebration was that of our neice, baby Emily who turned 1 and celebrated in style of course!
Jack shows a healthy interest in Emily's birthday cake!
A full family gathering was enjoyed with friends and of course included bubbles and cake too!
We also managed to celebrate a 40th on the same day attending a classic 90’s night at the local casino. Tony the birthday boy was surprised by the whole event, and then were all surprised by the special appearance of East 17!!!
It was a great first day back, 2 birthdays, a full family gathering and a great night out with old friends we hadn't seen in many years. Plus we got to hit the dance floor and showcase our awesome 90's dancing skillz.
The 'famed' Car Wash dance routine held us in good stead, always start on the bonnet.
We continued our global office visit tour with a trip to London to meet with Debbie Wosskow, the founder and CEO of Lovehomeswap. We were so thrilled to meet the whole team and get inside the offices of the company who have made this 18 month world tour a possibility. Without the creation of the sharing economy and Lovehomeswap we would never have been able to afford to stay in some of the amazing places we have.
Meeting with Debbie.
The website has offered us infinite possibilities as to where to stay and in many different types of accommodation. Debbie was so happy to hear our story and touched that we had made the effort to come and meet her. Seeing how her company has completely changed, and is currently reshaping our lives must have been most gratifying indeed. We shared lunch with Debbie and asked her loads of questions about the future of the company, her past success in business, the sharing economy and her important role in carrying this sector through to it’s respected and deserved place in the UK and global economy. We found the experience to be truly inspiring and are so grateful to the whole team who gave up their time to spend time with us and even go so far as entertain the kids for us too!
Thank you Debbie and the whole Lovehomeswap gang, you have changed our lives for the better forever!
This post picks up where we left off, just returning to England from Italy and it's uber long! One must get better at keeping a log and updating this as we go, but as we seem to be always on the move and having fun and meeting family, old and new friends it gets left to build up!
Suffolk was our first stop, staying with Dan’s parents in the wonderful countryside and enjoying the most amazing English sunshine! We spent the first weekend celebrating Dan’s 38th birthday, we enjoyed an awesome lunch at 'The Dennington Queen' on the actual day and for the weekend Dan's brother Jared and his wife Keely visited for a BBQ which was great for the kids to catch up and play with their cousin Jack again.
There is always plenty to do here, mow the lawn, chop the wood, paint the shed and of course, our favourite chore, harvest the wonderful fresh fruit and vegetables for our dinner! The kids loved digging up ‘treasure’ and became quite partial to french beans and new potatoes, Sophia especially loved the figs, picking and eating them straight from the tree.
Always keen to make use of our National Trust membership we headed to Blickling Hall in Norfolk for the day. This house is widely believed to be the birth place of Anne Boleyn, although Hever Castle also make the same claim, so it remains an unsolved mystery as to where she was actually born, it was however definitely owned by the Boleyn family during the early 1500s. It’s an amazing Jacobean house and one of the oldest properties under the National Trust's ownership, it was inherited in 1940 after the owner passed away whilst in the USA working as a politician. The estate served as an RAF base during the second world war for the nearby airfield at Oulton.
This post picks up where we ended the last, still in England, exploring historical places with our Italy trip looming large!
Ightham Mote Kent England
Ightham Mote (pronounced "item moat") is a medieval moated manor house, the house is a Grade I listed building, and parts of it are a scheduled ancient monument. It has been described as "The most complete small medieval manor house in the country". It's an unbelievable house and we were lucky enough to meet up with our friends the Morleys from Singapore with their family and kids too! It was fantastic to see them and catch up. The kids had a great time finding all the hidden secrets of the house and following an interactive puzzle throughout the tour.
On show at the house was a Victoria Cross which had been won during battle at Ypres in world war 1 by one of the past inhabitants , a real treat to see and learn about! The VC was introduced on 29 January 1856 by Queen Victoria to honour acts of valour during the Crimean war. Since then, the medal has been awarded only 1,357 times to 1,354 individual recipients. Only 14 medals, ten to members of the British Army, and four to the Australian Army, have been awarded since the Second World War!
Sutton Hoo Suffolk England
In 1939, just days before the outbreak of the second world war, archeologist Basil Brown discovered an untouched ship burial ground in Woodbridge Suffolk. The 27 meter ship was the final resting place for an Anglo Saxon King, who was buried with the ship and many, many treasures! The ship-burial, probably dating from the early 7th century and excavated in 1939, is one of the most magnificent archaeological finds ever discovered in England.
The exhibition hall is great, there is lots to look at and learn about, obviously all of the 'real treasures' are elsewhere in the top museums, but they have some great stuff, the staff are brilliant with their knowledge and happy to share, and as always there is lots to do for the kids to help get them into the spirit of things!
Ossuccio Lake Como Italia!
What an amazing place!
After our Siem reap temple adventure we were back to Samui for a short 2 weeks before coming back to the UK via Singapore.
Being back in Essex after so long was great and we were treated to some unbelievable weather for the first couple of days. In the first weekend we managed to catch up with so many of our old friends and family, the jet lag didn't even get a chance to kick in. We also managed to squeeze in a trip to Hadleigh castle (built in the 1200's) and the Salvation army rare breeds farm where the kids got to feed the animals and play in the playground.
Sunday was party day at the Bakewell's house, pretty much everybody was there, except for Jackie, Jeff and Lea who were out of the country, but we will catch up with them separately on our travels, there's no escape! It was a great day to catch up with so many people at once and find out what everybody is up to these days, we look forward to there soon being one more added to the group!
Straight into Monday and our first trip into London, which was a whirlwind of sights, the least expected of all being the sight of the Kennaway family (friends from Singapore) waiting across the platform as our train pulled out of Sloane Square, a rare sight in deed! ;)
The day was jam packed, we saw the Tower of London, HMS Belfast, the Shard, Tower Bridge, visited the Natural history museum, had ice cream in Hyde park just outside of the Royal Albert Hall, walked by Kensington palace and played in the Princess of Wales memorial playground. Suffice to say, we were knackered after all of that!
Quick history interlude - The Albert memorial was commissioned by Queen Victoria in memory of her beloved husband Prince Albert who died of typhoid in 1861. The memorial is 54 metres high and took over 10 years to complete!
The next day we were off to Suffolk to catch up with the Prince Family and enjoy Jared's (Dan's brother) birthday celebrations. This was the first time in a few years that the whole family had been all together. Plenty of great food (nod to a mega paella) and drink was consumed, loads of fun was had by all and even an early Sunday morning surprise was delivered for the kids, courtesy of the birthday boy himself! The cousins had a blast, it was so nice for them to be all together and loved the bouncy castle, in just 2 months there will be another one for them to get to know!
The boys led the charge for the birthday bundle!
We were also treated to a special day out at Duxford Imperial War Museum, this place is absolutely huge and jam packed with awe inspiring airplanes. It's history of flight and the second world war is amazing and very interactive for the kids to enjoy and learn about at the same time. Dan's inner geek came out and he felt humbly honoured and privileged to see a Concorde, Lancaster, Flying Fortess, Vulcan, Spitfire, messersmicht, U2 (not the band), Blackbird (AMAZING), Harrier Jump Jet, B52 (unbelievably massive) and many many more.
Geek fix - The Blackbird SR71 Spy plane that replaced the U2, only 32 ever built, 12 lost in accidents none lost in operations, still holds the world height (85k feet) and speed record....... since 1976!!!!
After Suffolk came the trip that the kids were all eagerly awaiting, Disney! So it was time to load up the beast and head across the chunnel, 6 hours and 40 minutes door to door in our 17 year old landcruiser!
Does not hold any speed records.
All of us will at some stage enter our experiences and favourite stories.