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!
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!
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!
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!
What's more to say, what a city, what a place. We knackered the kids in return for the Disney madness we had to endure, but they lapped it up, especially the awesome breakfast, lunch and ice creams they enjoyed! We got to see so much and still felt cheated that we had only just scratched the surface, we were criss crossing the city on foot, boat, open-top bus and trains all day long for both the days we visited.
We started at the Arc De Triomphe, what a monument!
Quick facts - Beneath the arc is the tomb of the unknown soldier from world war I, it was placed here on armistice day in 1920 and an eternal flame burns in memory of the dead who were never identified (now in both world wars). Military parades used to always march under the arch, but since the tomb was placed all parades have marched around the arch in respect, even after capturing Paris in 1940 Hitler marched his German army around it. Top lad eh.
Quick facts - Named after Gustav Eiffel whose company built and erected the tower in 1889. The tower was supposed to be temporary and was chastised by France's leading artists and intellectuals at the time, it has since become the icon of France and is the most visited paid monument in the WORLD, close to 7 million people ascend the tower each year.
Quick facts - Translates to 'Our Lady of Paris' and construction started in 1160.
It took 185 years to complete!!!!
ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY FIVE YEARS!
Just unimaginable, what a pleasure to see.
Quick facts - The Seine is 776 KM long, the famous Pont Neuf bridge was built in 1607!
First we hit the Cutty Sark, the only intact tea clipper in the world, she also held the world speed record from Australia to England for over 10 years during her service.
Next to the Ship is the information centre, which doubles as a free museum, we were here for over an hour learning about Greenwich and the history of the Old Royal Navy College. The buildings were originally constructed to serve as a hospital for injured seaman and were designed by Christopher Wren, built between 1696 and 1712.
Onwards, and upwards we went, specifically up the hill in Greenwich park to the Meridian Timeline and arguably the best views of London.
Then a visit to the Naval Heritage Museum, which again was free! The kids had more fun, especially Kaitlyn who was over the moon to be supplied with an iPad for an interactive trail through the ages of British Naval History.