We are currently six months into our travels, and I can hardly believe that we are halfway already! We have spent a lot of time in England, Scotland, and Wales, and have just crossed over into Europe, so I thought this would be a good point to share a little bit of a reflection on our time so far.
Days spent in England: 93 Scotland: 59 Wales: 20
Miles driven: 11 000
Housesits: 7 (81 nights)
Airbnbs: 12 (39 nights)
Teen Ranch Scotland: (34 nights)
Friend’s places: 2 (12 nights)
Narrow boat: (4 nights)
Hotels: 2 (2 nights)
Money spent: Ha ha, you can ask us this privately if you wish!
Money spent on car: way more than we wish.
On budget: Yes!
- Scottish Highlands – beautiful lochs, mountains and Scottish accents – what more can I say?
- Cornwall – this was our first trip to the coast since leaving Australia, and I loved the mysterious beaches, cliffs and caves.
- Sissinghurst, Kent. We house sat a 300 year old house with exposed beams, and had the nicest weather here. It was a really comfortable house with a great backyard and trampoline. We felt really at home and it was a happy time.
- Edinburgh & Bath will remain as some of my favourite cities in the world
- Teen Ranch Scotland is a place which is a bit special to us. We spent 5 weeks in total there and loved being part of the Christian community there.
- Scottish Highlands – mountain running… need I say more?
- Snowdia National Park – mountain running… need I say more? Well, Snowdonia like the highlands is completely unspoilt and full of mountains, rivers and vast slate mines. Check out the blog for one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.
- Cornwall – Beautiful beaches, castles, caves, cliff lines and more amazing running.
- Lake District – Hmmm, I’m sounding a bit repetitive here… breathtaking mountains and lakes. One of the most incredible runs with Mike up Scafell Pike.
- cream tea – scones with clotted cream.
- roast pork & yorkshire pudding- we found out quickly that pork is really affordable in the UK, so we got on the roasts pretty quickly. They are pretty amazing cooked in an AGA. Also how have I never liked yorkshire pudding before now? They are amazing, and a perfect cup for gravy.
Things we love
- It’s pretty awesome to be able to explore the world with your family, and see it through the eyes of children. I am pretty grateful for the opportunity, and I know that it might not happen again for a while, if ever. I love seeing Pete awestruck at looming mountains, rushing waterfalls, and deep caves; watching Elena absorb the sights and cultures we encounter (her favourite thing she’s ever seen is still a playground, but I am writing this from France and remembering her say a very shy ‘merci’ to a lolly-giving waitress. She also thinks castles are pretty cool and is always wondering who broke them and who lives in them); and showing Kilian new things like cool lights (he loves lights right now – he’s always gazing up at them in wonder) and different animals.
- We knew our kids were pretty young to be doing this trip, and it’s been really cool to see Elena remember things we’ve done from ages ago – some of the things she often says are: “I miss our white house and our white car” (our home in Australia), “remember when I fell off the swing with Daddy?”, “remember when I went on three horse rides with Ethan!”. She also makes up lots of memories – her cousin Asher features a lot in these – apparently they have gotten up to a lot of mischief at Asher’s house! I hope that she will have some lasting memories of this trip.
- Being able to share the parenting of Elena and Kilian is great. Having two kids is hard, and I’m really glad that I can share this load equally with Pete.
- Not getting home after work for an hour or so before the children go to bed, but rather being there for them 24/7. I love being able to see Elena and Kilian develop, grow and change before my eyes and sharing these incredible memories of travelling with them rather than missing out on them or hearing them through Megan.
- Spending more time with Megan. Constantly planning, booking and organising for travel is time consuming and difficult let alone with two young kids; but I couldn’t think of a better friend to share this adventure with.
- Exploring God’s creation. Without a doubt, my favourite places by far are those in nature. Whether it be swimming in the Fairy Pools in Scotland, running through the snow down Snowdon in Wales, exploring caves in Cornwall or climbing Scafell Pike in England; I am constantly awestruck by the greatness of God.
- House sitting – I have been pleasantly surprised by how well this has worked out. We have stayed at many lovely houses (far better than we are used to!) and had lots of great experiences looking after all sorts of pets.
- People – I have really enjoyed meeting people from all walks of life. The friends we made at Teen Ranch Scotland stand out in this regard, but I have also enjoyed meeting people from church, our house sitting families and sharing meals with them as well as our airbnb hosts from time to time.
- Uni – I have really enjoyed studying my Masters so far this year. I like learning and studying and know that this course will help me as I go back to teaching next year.
Things we find hard
- I have found it hard to always be together. I am learning more and more than I am a person that needs some space now and then, not just from the kids, but also from Pete. Time alone really refreshes me and we have found that I am a grumpy mean person if I don’t get this semi regularly. It has been hard sometimes making this a priority when we are busy, with lots of things we want to do and see, but we have learned that this is an important thing for me if we want to get along well.
- Food self control – this has been a fine balance between the mentality of ‘we are on holiday, let’s try delicious foods and treat ourselves’, and the reality that this is not a holiday, this is our life, and we have to be wise with our food choices, especially sweet things (my weakness).
Date nights – on this trip, there have been times where Pete and I have not gotten along. We have realised that a big reason for this is that we are always together, but not often making our relationship a priority. We don’t have any babysitters to call on to get a break, but we have initiated ‘date nights’. Every Saturday night, we get ourselves a special dessert or wine, we put our phones away for the night and do something together. Normally this is just a movie, but I have been known to agree to a board game once or twice! The things I do for our marriage… We have found this to be a really good way to reconnect no matter how the week has gone.
I’ve also missed connecting with friends, and other mums. Sometimes it’s nice to have someone else to talk to, with new conversation about familiar things. I really appreciate those friends who have made an effort to stay in contact. A year is not long enough to lose connections with people, but there is still so much that you miss out on when you’re not around. One friend in particular always sends me crazy long messages with a lot of detail. And I love it. So thank you!
- The kids – most of the time, Elena and Kilian are great and a joy to be around, but they sure can be difficult as well. For the first couple of months, Kili slept very poorly which resulted in restless nights and tired parents. I have had so much fun with Elena but she is incredibly temperamental and, at the moment is very attached to Megan which is quite tiring on Megan at times.
- Church – I’ve missed the fellowship of Figtree Anglican Church. We have visited many welcoming churches across U.K. but we have become increasingly aware of how fortunate we are back home with the quality of our Bible teaching. I also miss my Bible study mens group.
- Soccer – I miss playing soccer and training hard. I’ve tried to keep up a decent level of fitness by running, but certainly miss the competitive nature that soccer brings.
- Constantly planning – It is tiring having to book and plan a holiday, let alone one which lasts for a year. From sorting out accommodation to things to do, to places to eat to buying a car; there are always things to do.
- Unexpected expenses – I like to be organised and have budgeted every single expense this year (feel free to ask me about this if you want to know more), so I hate it when there are unexpected expenses. Most of these expenses relate to our car!
Our plans for the rest of the year:
We want to share with you our itinerary for the rest of the year – it is still pretty fluid, but we are slowly getting more of a plan happening. If you have any suggestions for great family things to do (on a budget), we would love to hear them!
July 11-18 – A week in Carcassonne with Pete’s parents and siblings
July 18 – 2 August – Italy – Carro (in the Cinque Terre area) and Gragnano (near the Amalfi Coast)
2 August – 14 August – House sitting in Villars-sur-Ollon, Switzerland (this is a village in the Alps)
14 August – 22 August – somewhere in Eastern France – Auvergne region maybe?
22 August – 3 September – Housesitting in Lubersac, France
3 September – 15 September – somewhere in the Netherlands…suggestions?
15 – 18 September – London to sell our car
18 – 24 September (roughly) – Norway with Stine’s family
24 September – Exciting announcement! We are returning (briefly) to Australia! Not exciting news for our Sydney friends – we are not coming to Sydney. Some dear friends of ours are getting married in Port Douglas at the end of September, and we are very excited to be able to go! We will return for about a week, before heading to…
South-east Asia! We weren’t sure what we would do for the last leg of our trip. Our original hope was to head to the US, but we soon realised that we probably don’t have enough cash to really do it justice. We are also not too keen on another Winter. So, since we don’t have a home til our tenants move out, we thought we might as well have a tropical end to our family gap year. It is also a lot closer to Australia than the US, so it made it more reasonable to go to our friends’ wedding. Any suggestions for SE Asia with young kids would be greatly appreciated.