#NINE things we learned in our first week in LONDON

with 21 Comments

Obligatory departure shot

We’ve just arrived at our first house sit in Oxfordshire (it’s amazing, but more on that later!), both kids are fast asleep in our current mansion, and we finally feel like we have the energy to reflect on our first week in England (meaning, it is past 7pm and we are still awake!). This week has been fairly eventful in some ways, and fairly uneventful in others. So we’ve decided to share with you all some lessons we’ve learned this week.

Getting excited for the plane


Babies and toddlers can fly (with minimal disruption to parents and other passengers). I can’t say I have viewed this trip with much apprehension at all (I have a general lack of foresight for pretty much any situation – seriously though, what could go wrong?), and the flight wasn’t much of an exception. But I have to admit, I did wonder if my happy optimism would betray me in this instance. My expectations were, that Kilian would be fairly straightforward, after all, all babies do is eat and sleep, right? And that Elena would be more demanding, being an active two year old. I am happy to report that the first 11 hour flight went way better than expected – Elena was super excited at being on the plane, the prospect of endless movies, and all the new “tivties” (activities) we had brought her. She had a decent sleep, and as for Kilian, he pretty much slept the entire flight, in his bassinet. Winning so far. The second flight was as expected, two tired children, two tired parents, more movies, more activities, more tantrums and more babes in arms. The success of the flights leads me to my next point…..

Pre-jetlagged babe


Babies and jet lag are NOT fun. We learned this the hard way – three solid nights of Kilian waking up literally every half an hour. I don’t think I need to say much more on this. By the third day, I felt like my eyes were wired open and I was actually struggling to shut them to sleep, that’s how tired I was.

Elena’s idea of a smile


Croydon, London, is not the nicest place to stay on a holiday. It was a bit out of the way – only 2 buses and 3 trains to get into central London! I’m not sure that we felt overly safe while we were staying there, and it was in general a bit dinghy. Maybe it was just the particular area we were in….. So the next important lesson is:



Don’t book an airbnb with no reviews! This one’s a no brainer – and to be fair, this one we knew already. But to be able to travel for a year, we have to be strict with sticking to our budget, and this flat fit into our budget. Our accommodation for the week was okay – it was warm, clean, and spacious. Unfortunately it didn’t quite live up to it’s claims, and was missing some amenities which would have made the stay a bit more comfortable. Possible the worst deception was the claim ‘30 minutes to central London’. I’d love to know which shortcut the host was taking, because we never achieved anything near that time. Lesson learned – sometimes, it’s okay to go over your budget a little (and make it up elsewhere).




Our new wheels


Buying a car as a foreigner is difficult. Part of our aim for the first few days in London was to get a car fairly quickly. We already knew that this would be tricky – we had only a surface understanding of how things like the registration and insurance works over here, let alone actually finding the car. Pete spent a couple of days traipsing back and forth over London on public transport until we found one. Then there was the issue of getting insurance when we don’t have a permanent address. It was a busy first couple of days, but we managed it and now have a great car to explore the country in.

Pete’s view from one of his many trains


Public transport is expensive. Pete spent a lot of time learning this as he looked at cars. The bus rides, overland train trips and underground trips all added up after a while, and then there was that fateful high speed train that Pete hopped on unknowingly, that each trip actually cost £20 (about $35 each way). We might incorporate more walking from now on 😛


Supermarkets in another country are great. We love checking out supermarkets overseas, seeing what fun and weird things British people like to eat. This afternoon we returned from the supermarket and realised we had bought four different types of cheese and three hummus dips – a testament to what Brits are into, because this was covering their shelves! We also bought three persimmons (whatever they are?) and Elena insisted we buy some whole beetroots, for dinner of course. Can’t wait to see how they go down!


Croup sucks. Especially on holidays when you already have one jetlagged baby with a cold. I guess the chilly weather has finally gotten to our cold-impervious toddler, because on Tuesday night (after going to bed perfectly fine), Elena woke up coughing and spluttering with croup. We are experts in croup now, because unfortunately for Elena, this has been a recurring illness since she was a baby. It still sucks. We advise against it. Don’t worry, she’s already on the mend.

Winter – pfft!


Winter is not so bad. Especially when we hear of the heatwave in Sydney right now, as we sit by our roaring fire in a cosy little sitting room. Before we left, most people made a point to mention the cold, and how would we cope? Even I thought that we would be house bound, because who would go outdoors when it’s only 1 degree outside? We’ve realised pretty quickly that the cold is not so bad, and it is pretty quickly made up for by the cosy warmth of every single building you enter.


We always thought of this first week as a ‘recovery week’, as we knew that taking small children on a journey across the world is not small feat. It might sound like there were more negatives than positives, but we have actually had a great week together. We’ve been able to catch up with Pete’s cousin Jo over a delicious pub meal, have a home cooked meal in a beautiful house in the country (we’ve just learned that Brits serve their cheese during/after the meal, and NEVER before), check out the British Museum (this was a smash hit with Elena – not) and bond together over plenty of Peppa Pig and microwave dinners. One week down, and can’t wait for the next 51!

Lot’s of fun meeting up with cousin Jo
This one’s for you, Aunty Bronwyn!
Checking out the British Museum

21 Responses

  1. Janette Richardson
    | Reply

    What a terrific read, Megan and I love your photos. What a week you have all had… Enjoy your first house sit and many new adventures. I look forward to reading your next blog. Hope beautiful Elena is over her croup soon. Love Janette xxx

    • Megan Richardson
      | Reply

      Thanks Janette!

  2. Barbara Winterbourne
    | Reply

    Hi Megan, I work with Peter at school. A great read. We took our 6 month old son to the Uk for a holiday to visit relatives. It was great fun. This brings back memories. He’s 25 now and just become a dad himself 🙂 I remember a 3week trip to Tasmania next with a 5mth old and a 3yr old. Understand completely when toddlers turn feral due to tiredness! Just roll with it and enjoy whatever the journey throws at you! The whole experience is priceless 🙂

    • Megan Richardson
      | Reply

      Thanks Barbara. Glad to hear this post is bringing back good memories for you. We haven’t been put off by our experience yet, just looking forward to the more fun part to begin 🙂 🙂

  3. Gabi
    | Reply

    Great blog Pete and Megan! Can’t wait to see your next one! Sounds like you are all having a great time. Hope Elana gets over her croup soon. Gabi. xx

    • Megan Richardson
      | Reply

      Thanks Gabi! Hope you are doing well 🙂

  4. Chamy
    | Reply

    hahaha when would you eat cheese anyway ??

    • Megan Richardson
      | Reply

      Ha ha! Before the meal of course 😉

  5. Donald Richardson
    | Reply

    A wonderful description of your first days in the United Kingdom.
    One of these days you should publish a book!
    I hope that Elena’s croup is soon completely better.
    My love to you all.

  6. Donald Richardson
    | Reply

    A wonderful read!
    Hope that the croup is better.
    Love, Grandpa.

  7. Donald Richardson
    | Reply

    What lovely photos!

  8. Donald Richardson
    | Reply

    A wonderful record of your first week in England.

  9. Jules Wilcox
    | Reply

    Can I give you birthday cards this year please?

    • Megan Richardson
      | Reply

      Hi Julia, you won’t be able to post them to us as we don’t have a permanent address. Maybe you can save them for us til we get back?

      • Jules
        | Reply

        Maybe I will do that. When do you come back?

        • Megan Richardson
          | Reply

          Next January 🙂

  10. Narelle Clark
    | Reply

    The start of a wonderful year. I enjoyed reading about your adventures!

  11. Justin
    | Reply

    Been waiting for my own journey and life to slow down a bit so I could catch up properly on your adventures!!

    Sounds like the first week was great :)! Lizz and I also fell for #6. It cost us like $100 for a one way trip to nottingham (like 1.5 hours on the train!). Always pre-book if youre going to do this and you can cut your cost down by half!!

    So proud of you guys going on such an adventure!! Go Richos Go!

  12. Anne Simpson
    | Reply

    Yey! I’ve found your blog! So glad you’re having a good time. You guys are amazing to do this with such young kids. I agree – the British Museum is so not great with small kids!
    I still haven’t got contact details for the folk we know in Alyth near Teen Ranch so I’m going to try another strategy and see if I can get hold of them
    another way. You could try and catch up with them while you’re at Teen Ranch. PS when you’re at a Teen Ranch take a wee drive through Longforgan – it was our home in 2014. Happy 2nd week!

  13. Karen Moss
    | Reply

    Hi Megan and Peter and Babes, Great Blog enjoying reading your wonderful adventures, journey and seeing your pictures, Are you going up to Scotland, my parents lived in Falkirk, near Stirling. Its a lovely area and had a great place called “Calendar House”. Well done to you both very challenging I’m sure with your babies…love Karen xx

    • Megan Richardson
      | Reply

      Thanks Karen! We are heading up to Scotland in mid-April, first to spend a few weeks at Teen Ranch, then we’ll head to Edinburgh and up from there. Really looking forward to that part of the trip! Hope you guys are all doing well.

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