Back to England – part 2

The weather was beautiful, so we made the most of the local parks and my parents garden (which has a teeny freshwater crayfish in the brook that runs through it), playing with the kids and generally having fun.  We made good use of the village shop and bought all kinds of yummy treats – thats the one good thing about living in a village – the trusty shop, which sells all kinds of esoteric stuff, including some yummy Kentish beer 🙂 Read More

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Trip to the UK – Part 3

It was still freezing cold, but we refused to be couped up indoors – I only had a week and I wanted to get out and about with the kids as much as possible.

We went off to the duck ponds for a wander around – there was still a little bit of snow around and the lakes were still frozen several cm thick – probably more in the middle

Brrr! Read More

Trip to the UK – Part 1

And so the time has flown since last summer and it’s time for another trip to England.

No flight photos this time as a) I had a middle centre seat out from Perth and then b) it was dark all the way into London.

I went via Singapore which was cool – I like Changi airport, it’s big and clean and has lots of places to sit down and chill.  This time it was full of Japanese schoolgirls, which was really bizarre – it was just like a cliché – all with their knee high socks and giggling – very odd.  I would have taken a photo, but I didn’t want to seem like a pervert stalker, so you’ll just have google and imagine it all for yourselves. Read More

tripski – final part

We had some other nice days, went out for lunch – actually, there’s a story there all by itself

Never go to Pizza Express in Sevenoaks – they were terrible, forgot our order, lied to cover it up and told us it was ‘just in the oven’ but 1/2 hour later it still hadn’t arrived, stuffed up with the deserts and eventually, after nearly 2 hours (yeah, I know, I was ready to blow) we just walked out.  So, Pizza Express – you were terrible, beyond awful and I have no hesitation in not recommending that anyone go there ever, under any circumstances.

And I’m going to tag this post and tweet it too.  Customer service is sometimes about recovering from a stuff-up – and they just made it worse.

Anyways, before I get on my high horse too much, back to the week..

Lunch, days out, fun, etc.

Then we decided to go to Hastings Aquarium with my sister.

Having a 7 seater hire car has some benefits – we could fit them all in one car and go together.  So, after much palaver getting car seats in, we trotted off in gloomy but clearing conditions.

We arrived in Hastings and it was shrouded in the thick sea fog – couldn’t see the tops of the townhouses it was that thick.  There was no way to make out the horizon between ocean and sky.  The aquarium was a bit of a disappointment if truth be told, it was small and didn’t have that much in there, but still, the kids had a good time.  We had lunch (fish and chips, of course) and then went for a walk on the beach

Good times 🙂

Had a nice day the next day, but then I had to take them back home, which was sad as it had been such a lovely week.  I hate to leave them, its horrible.  But, time will fly and I’ll be back in the summer.

castles (part3)

So, the last castle we actually went to visit properly was Hever Castle, only 30 mins drive from my mum and dads house.

Hever Castle is another fairytale castle, complete with moat, drawbridge and portcullis, surrounded by sculpted parklands with a maze and a Tudor village too. Its a fabulously beautiful place. Similar to the others, it has its foundations in 13th Century, with the earliest parts dating from 1270, which is pretty freaking old. The Castle as you see it today dates from Tudor times (1500’s) when it was owned by the Bullen family, who had one famous member, Anne Boleyn, who grew up there as a child. The castle changed hands into Anne of Cleeve’s family after Henry VIII lopped off Anne’s head and eventually into the hands of famous American industrialist William Waldorf Astor in 1903, who completed expensive and probably vastly expensive restorations to leave it in trust in the condition you see today.

So, Ella, Henry and I had a wonderful day exploring – it was a gorgeous warm sunny spring day too, so we had lots of fun in the maze and gardens before wandering around the castle looking at Anne Boleyn’s bedroom, her bedhead from her childhood and even the book she had with her when she was imprisoned in the Tower of London. Ella had been studying Henry VIII last year so she was very impressed with seeing history face to face as it were.


The daffodils were out in force in their formal gardens, so you look across the river that feeds the moat and lake across a sea of yellow towards the castle and Tudor village that the Astor’s built.



All in all, an awesome day – the kids played in the adventure playground until it was starting to get late and were so tired by the end of it that they slept the whole way back in the car 🙂 Job done!

castles castles and more castles (part 1)

The thing about England (and the rest of the UK come to that) is that almost everybody lives in a castle.

There are simply millions of the things scattered about the country that if you don’t live in one, you live next door to one or a pile of stones that used to be one. I’m not even kidding – where I grew up in Kent, where my parents still live, there are probably 30 castles within 20 minutes drive of their house. There’s even a handful of Roman Villas, an old (now ruined) Palace (one of the biggest in the country in its day) and a bunch of pre-historic remains.

Kids love castles – they come with tales of knights, dragons, torture, kings, princesses, behead-ings, dungeons and, of course, garderobes (toilets that empty poos into the moat)

So we went to see some of the local ones.

First up – Leeds Castle. Not near Leeds, West Yorkshire, but Leeds in Kent. Its one of the prettiest best preserved castles anywhere, set in a large parkland with a fairytale moat and stories of King Henry VIII, plus it has a massive maze and lots of things for kids to do.

Sadly, it was frickin’ freezing and miserable on that day, but we kinda wrapped up (not enough though) and just went for it.



There were also (as is customary in these places) lots of peacocks.


tall tales from the motherland

So, as my one regular reader will know, I’m back in England for 10 days to see my beautiful children.

I’ve had a great week so far, starting with breakfast at Pat and Nicky’s straight out of Heathrow. They weren’t up when I got there, but Nicky and Anna (their cute very nearly 4 year old) soon answered the door and made me coffee and breakfast 🙂

Had the best day with them, taking photos and catching up on the last 18 months since I left for Oz. I really didn’t want to leave, but I still had to drive to my mum and dad’s place, go food shopping and get some rest before the long drive the next day.

Went to collect the kids the next day, also took Henry’s presents round so he could open them and play a little before we had to drive the 2 hours back to my parents place. Ella has grown loads (again) and Henry is cheekier than ever!

Drove back to Kent after a nasty road rage incident which I wont go into here, but I did notify the police for them to follow up. There are some advantages to being a photographer – I had the camera on the front seat and caught the guy raging away as he tried to run me off the motorway – he very was shocked to see a camera pointed at him – I suspect the penny was dropping that he was in deep shit. Arseholes that threaten the safety of my kids deserve everything the law has to offer. I still have no idea what his problem was either. Ah well.

Anyway..

Easter Sunday was spent at my youngest sister’s house with her kids and also my middle sister and her 3 kids. Mental doesn’t even cover it. Ella was very quiet as she was still very poorly from the virus she’d had for a week but we all had a good time. I ordered a mahooosive egg for everyone to tuck into

Had a great time, pics from Sunday and more tales tomorrow 🙂