Have you seen the meme that does the rounds on Facebook about only having 18 summers with your Things from the day they are born? It freaks me out and I know I’m not the only one! A friend asked me the other day: “What’s On Your Bucket List?” She told me that she and her husband recently sat down and wrote a bucket list of things they want to do with their Things. They realised that they won’t get all of them done before the eldest leaves home. Scary stuff. Read more
What’s a family to do when visiting the town they left for expat adventures? Its a funny experience taking your kids “home” when home for them is now the place you left. The place you are going on holiday is just that. A holiday destination! We used to find ourselves with a jam-packed schedule when we went home. As all the children are getting older, this time we found ourselves with only weekends and evenings booked (and they were still full to the brim!). The daytimes were pretty free leaving us able to show the kids around the city we used to call home. We weren’t there for long enough to do everything on our list but after some planning before we went, I came up with my top 9: Read more
There’s nothing like a bit of distance to make you look at your home country with rose-tinted spectacles! We are really enjoying this awesome holiday in our own country! Here are my top 10 reasons I remember I love the UK:
1. Public transport
Gosh we used to complain about public transport. And don’t get me wrong, I don’t miss the rush hour scrum or the delays when it breaks. But seriously the public transport system in this country is amazeballs.
2. Waitrose and M&S
We already can’t be bothered to cook tonight and I know we will end up getting one of those great meal deals with a main, a side, a dessert and a bottle of wine for £15 or whatever they charge these days. Super yummy, relatively healthy and cheaper than a takeaway / going out for dinner.
Not just that but going in and seeing the glorious selection of food, the rainbows of fruit and veg, the broad selection, the organic range, the organisation (everything is in the same place every week…it’s quite astonishing). It’s so relaxing and calming haha.
3. (Affordable) booze and pork in the supermarket
This is a bit depressing when you see a bottle of decent but not amazing wine and how cheap it is compared to at home. But I’ll enjoy it while we here.
Add to that the fact that you just can’t beat a nice crispy bacon sarnie or bangers and mash with proper British sausages and you have one happy camper over here.
You walk around the UK and you are walking on streets that people have been walking on for hundreds of years. You are constantly reminded of Vikings and Romans, of kings and queens, of fires and walls, battles and famines. I remember living in San Francisco and being told to go and look at some really old houses (the painted ladies if you’re wondering). I was told they were over a hundred years old (said in hushed voices). I was non-plussed – the flat I lived in in the UK at the time was in a house that was older than that!
Now this isn’t always a good thing – our house always had something going wrong with it, the public transport network is creaking and bursting at the seams, our history has a lot in it that we shouldn’t be proud of. But its still our history and our culture.. It makes us..well, us!
5. Online grocery delivery
Gosh this is so easy. And saves you so much time. There’s quite a lot of shopping related things here. What does that say about me?!
6. Green topography
Oh it’s nice to see some green around. Especially in Devon where it’s more 50 Shades of Green instead of 50 Shades of Beige. The fact that these are all on hills is just beyond inspiring . Who knew elevations could be so exciting?
Let’s be clear… I’m not knocking what we have! Living in the Middle East we are able to see some of the most iconic and groundbreaking architecture of modern times. But sometimes I miss the grandeur of seeing more historical icons like St Paul’s, Big Ben or the Tower of London or even the simple Edwardian and Victorian terraced houses that we take for granted when we live here.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the sort of person to sit snogging the face off my husband. But I am quite tactile. I do like to kiss him whenever I want and to walk along holding his hand. I really miss that at home and enjoy the freedom to do it when I can.
9. Friends and family
I always say its the people not the places and this could never be truer when we think of home. The last week and a half have been so awesome seeing the people who have known us for the longest time of anyone. We are lucky enough that we caught up with a lot of friends and family in Italy but it has still been fab to see most of them again. We have met new babies, seen old friends and done many of the same things we have always done together. It really is the people not the places.
You can travel the world and make your home wherever you are, as we do. You can be happy where you are while still missing your home country. But when push comes to shove there really is no place like home.
And there you have it…10 reasons I remember I love the UK.
What is it about the expat life and almost constant itchy feet? We crave stability and yet the second we get it we are off thinking about the next thing!
Its a funny time where we are at the moment, in the industry that Mr Wanderlust works in. There have been layoffs going on for over a year in various industries. We’ve seen friends leave as companies lose contracts. We’ve seen them leave as cutbacks are made and redundancies are announced. There’s a merger going on between 2 of the major oil and gas entities here and almost everyone we know in the industry could be impacted directly or indirectly. Some people just aren’t coming back from the summer break. Some moves are at such short notice that we don’t get to say goodbye. Read more
So after the success of my Facebook post asking for help with our 6 picky Things in Sicily, I wrote a post with my Top 5 Meals for Picky Eaters which also went down really well – yay! And then I thought I should really write a post with tips on how to travel with picky eaters, not just how to feed them food that you know they will eat (although obviously I hope that’s helpful too!).
DISCLAIMER – these are not fail safe methods. Every single one has worked for me at one point or another but they’ve all backfired on me too…Read more
7 sleeps till I take the Things back to the UK. This will be our first ever trip back as expats (including the Houston stint) that hasn’t had a reason other than we just want to go home and see everyone! We haven’t been home as a family in over a year and even the last 2 trips I took over were so whistle-stop that I didn’t have time to see anyone properly. To say we are excited is an understatement!
This isn’t your typical holiday
So what are we going to do? Will this be a holiday or just a jam packed 10 days of seeing people, drinking too much and not sleeping enough? Well, there will definitely be an element of that :-). But I am determined to make this a holiday as well. The last year has made me realise that the place I know as home really isn’t home for the Things. They know it is where we are from, that we have lots of friends and family there and that our old house is there. But Thing 1 has only some fading memories of this place and Thing 2 remembers literally nothing of our life before we moved. So this will be the perfect time to show them where we are from.
How do you visit the place you are already from?
I’ve taken a bit of inspiration this week from Bebe Voyage and Wanderlust Crew on how to be a tourist in your own town and in London (which for us are one and the same). My favourite tips from Bebe Voyage included checking local blogs, taking pictures as if we were real tourists (well I suppose we are really) and taking a guided tour. Wanderlust Crew’s recommendations of riding public transport (you just can’t beat a bus or a tube when you are a deprived expat kid who only gets to go on planes or in cars), doing the tourist stops like the London Eye, Big Ben, etc, going to parks and for afternoon tea have really inspired me too!
So what are we going to do?
Our time will be split in 2:
First off I am taking the Things to Tavistock, Devon which is where I am from. It’s been almost 2 years since we made it down so I’m excited to see the moors and to show them where mummy grew up (for the most part lol). Or activities will include:
Seeing family and friends
Walking on the moors
Jumping in muddy puddles (new welly boots at the ready)
Feeding the ducks
None of it will be particularly touristy but I love the idea that they are both now old enough to remember this holiday and that they will start to have proper memories of where I am from.
After 5 days Mr Wanderlust will head over to the UK where we will meet up with him in London. The only weekend we are in town will be jam packed seeing family and friends (at least 2 sets per day!). The evenings are set to be quite busy as well: Of course we might be on holiday but everyone we know will still be at work so we are trying to do everything outside of business hours! The upside of this is that the daytimes are going to be quite quiet so we can do some more family focussed things.
We are planning on doing some touristy things like going on the London Eye and taking a river cruise (this isn’t a Merlin Entertainment sponsored post, honest!). We will do a few day trips for example to Wimbledon (where our house is) and Kingston (one of my favourite places to shop!). Both will involve trains / tubes / trams so the Things will be Made Up. If we have time I really want to take them to the aquarium and I know Thing 1 is desperate to go to a soft play that he remembers. (Honestly, take them all the way to the UK and they want to go to soft play which we have done twice a week since we got back from Italy?!!)
The end of the summer
It is still 3 weeks away but I can’t believe we are finally looking at the end of the summer. What stretched out ahead of us is now within reach. The UK will be hard (first proper time I’ve been back since my dad passed away last year) but super fun meeting some new family members as well as some of our favourite people in the whole world. On our return we will be back to 7am departures for school runs and settling Thing 2 into big school (*simultaneous sob / fist pump lol).
And of course I am already looking into options for the October half term break and an amazing Christmas holiday! The planning never stops!
This year has been the year of life changing travel apps for me. Since the explosion of travel apps and websites started around the time of Expedia and TripAdvisor. These were pretty life changing at the time but have since been copied (think Kayak and Skyscanner although I would the latter is a hugely improved offering) or have fallen out of fashion (TripAdvisor seems to be discredited more often than it is credited these days!).
In the past year I have been introduced to 3 apps which are truly unique and…well, life changing: Read more
It is so so hard when you are living in the desert over the summer to think of enough things to do with the family to keep everyone entertained. We haven’t even been here all summer and I’m already slowly losing the will to live going to multiple soft plays every week! I mean thank goodness we have access to so many of them but still… it’s pretty mind numbing, not to mention expensive. To be honest, I don’t know why a staycation hadn’t occurred to me before! Read more
I asked a question recently on my Facebook page about what to do with picky eaters on holiday. Let me set the scene for you: We had 6 Things on this part of the vacation, all with their own little quirks and preferences. I’ll be honest with you, mine drive me bonkers at the best of times – one will eat scrambled eggs, the other won’t. One will eat baked beans, the other won’t. One will eat ravioli, the other won’t. One will eat salmon…. you get the picture. Read more
My Facebook feed has been flooded for the past 2 weeks. Memes and posts about the end of school, summer holidays and summer holiday blues. Posts showing the side by side, first / last day of school grins are followed by questions in mummy groups about What On Earth You Can Do with kids on summer holidays for £1.63 a day. Routines are disrupted, all the useful extra curricular activities and baby classes have stopped and friends (including me) selfishly disappear on holiday. Read more