Monday, 28 April 2014

... Remembering Benenden ...

Day 10 - Benenden

A 24 hour trip to Kent and East Sussex brought back fading memories (from 18 years ago)

- a very beautiful part of the world with castles, idyllic villages, oast houses and baby lambs

- a work place, Benenden Hospital ,
that no longer holds the grandeur that Alison, I, Susan and good friends Lesley and Ian remember. The wards we worked on, Plant East and Plant West are derelict, the social club boarded up and the swimming pool drained. Young Dave will be pleased that Peek Lodge looks unchanged. 

- a pub meal at The Red Lion in Biddenden brought back memories of a log fire, good  food, a pint of Guinness (no Biddenden cider YD) and bars surrounded by old wooden beams too low for Australians who are 6 foot 3 inches

- a short drive to Bodiam Castle for Lily , Grace, Jack and I (we dropped Alison at Sissinghurst Castle Gardens) reminded  me it had been a long 18 years  since we were here - no longer can you walk into and climb on castle for free.  In 2014 you have guided tours, characters in costume and you give them 18 quid for the privilege. 

- Tenterden, the home of our dentist, GP and  favourite Indian restaurant (interestingly my most vivid memory of this town is my sister Jenny falling over in the Main Street and bringing down 5 innocent people) 

Some memories don't fade ...


Sunday, 27 April 2014

~ in Jane Austen country ~

Day 8 and 9 - Bath 

Bath is incredibly uniform - in appearance and charm. Loads of gorgeous streetscapes, impressive gardens and impossibly quaint corners at every turn.  And a fabulous play area in the Queen Victoria Park - complete with squirrels.

We were lucky enough to stay on the Circus in our own little apartment under my aunt's house.  We were not lucky enough to avoid the very English damp and drizzle  - the moments of sunshine were few and far between.

I remember visiting the baths on a school trip in the 1970s (from my school in Bristol - not Tasmania!) and being super impressed  - and Lil, Grace and Jack were too.  They had their own audio tour and were fascinated by all the information (and all the buttons) - particularly that the whole complex is 10 times older than the day that white men first landed in Australia (and we thought the roofless church at Port Arthur was old!!)  Grace was the only one brave enough to try the waters (said to have healing properties)  - her verdict  - "disgusting!"

Onward now to Benenden (where we lived for a year in 1996) and London.

Pictures are 1.     The Circus - just near our apartment -  reading for a day of exploring
                    2,3.  Touring the baths
                    4.     The Royal Crescent
                    5,6.   In Vivienne's secret garden


Friday, 25 April 2014

... Legoland ...

Day 7 - Legoland

The Legoland hotel, themed to within an inch of its life and full of screaming children was not a good harbinger of the actual park (David states we were definitely taking one for the team)...and then I read the trip adviser reviews and was really worried but the park itself was great. 

The queues were small, the rides varied enough and perfect for our somewhat timid (when it comes to scary rides) family and the mini land Lego 
simply stunning. 

And in their words; 

Jack ... I liked mini land best. I saw the London Eye, the Eiffel Tower and a train station. I didn't know you could make all of that out of Lego. The best ride was the one at the end where you had to pull yourself up. At the traffic part I had to pretend to be 6 to drive the car...Grace drove on the wrong side of the road! I didn't like the little roller coaster, I shut my eyes the whole way. The train at the end was good too, you got to see Legoland from it. 

Grace ... My favourite ride was called the dragon.  It was a big roller coaster .  At first I didn't really want to go but at the end I really wanted to go again.  At the start when we went to the traffic part I was crossing the at the intersection then I started driving on the wrong side of the road...mummy said I was practicing for France. I loved mini land too, my favourite bits were the trains running on the tracks. 

Lily ... My favourite rides were the Jolly rocker and the Dragon. The jolly rocker was a big boat that was swinging quite high. Only me and daddy were brave enough to go on it. The Dragon was a big roller coaster that went down two steep hills. It was freaky but fun at the same time. 

David's only comment was that he's not teaching Grace how to drive. 

(All of us)

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

... and that was Helsinki ...

Day 6 Helsinki to London

3 days of clear blue skies, day temps in the high teens and glistening seas surrounding beautiful bays and tiny islands. I am assured Helsinki is not always like this. 

What I will remember about this city is how the cars and bicycles share the road respectfully, how great their trams are and, when Jack's legs allowed it, how easy it is to walk anywhere. The Finns amazed me with how quickly they could switch from Finnish to English without thinking almost and how they had no issue with a family of 5 with no no other language skills apart from English. 

The Finland wrap highlights:

Jack - sweet buns (at the Engel cafe this morning) and the Sibelius monument
Grace - cinnamon scrolls and the bus tour on the double decker bus
Lily - mango and passion fruit sorbet (from the plaster lady) and the bus tour
Al - the salmon from the harbour street stalls and wandering the old town design area
David - apple donuts and the food markets

Big thanks to Mark and Jacki for suggesting we start our adventure in Helsinki
Julia...please note that Al will have edited this first. 

Now for Heathrow and Legoland (who suggested that??)


Tuesday, 22 April 2014

... when we found skellington ...

Day 6 - Helsinki

Today we walked and walked for ages and we also went to five diffrent playgrounds. 
Lily, Jack and I played a following game. Later we found a skeleton on one of the playground fences.    We named him Skellington.  We are going to use him in some of our photos.

Jack cut his finger while opening a gate. We didn't have anything to put on it and we asked the lady at the ice cream stand if she had bandaid and she didn't know what that was - but she gave us what she called a plaster....same thing!  We all had ice cream I got a puffet but I swapped it with dad because I thought his tasted better.  On the way back mum kept sitting us on a wall to take photographs.  

In the last picture you can see that we had waffles, strawberries and cream for lunch. But dad had possumunki donut (minced meat in a donut) - none of us liked it much.


Monday, 21 April 2014

...Helsinki ...

Day 5 - Helsinki 

We arrived after 32 hours or so of travelling (consensus - not nearly as bad as we thought it would be)
Driving from the airport I felt like we were part of a Kurt Wallander novel (wrong country I know...but all those sleepless travel hours...)

Brilliant blue skies, bare branched trees, little sign (yet) of spring.
Easter Monday is never a good time to arrive anywhere (ref - David and I arriving in Bologna on the same day 17 years ago and just sitting in the sunshine in the square for hours because everything was shut) but Helsinki is way more open than Hobart.

We found the best cinnamon scrolls, good coffee and headed onwards.
Wandering around the boulevards, promenades and cobbled streets, round the harbour area, avoiding the reindeer meatballs but loving the salmon.  
We hopped on a bus tour as little legs started failing and marvelled at the crazy Russian woman who took 4000 or so phone photos from a moving bus and almost lost her head from the branches every time she stood up, the rock church (see Jack's previous post for a detailed description of this church carved from the rock face) and the Sibelius monument - which was not as musical as we'd hoped.

Our apartment is fabulous - all clean Scandi lines and minimal white furnishings - and loads of hot water and free wifi.  Today we're heading out in search of food, open shops and some playgrounds.
We'll see what happens.


....the rock church ...

Day 5 - Helsinki 

went on a double decker bus tour today.  One of the stops was the rock church.  Its made out of rock.  We went inside - there were loads of chairs.  And there were more chairs upstairs.  We went back outside and Lily, Grace and I climbed on top of the church for a photo.


... the longest day ...

Day 4 - Melb to Singapore and beyond

Today we got up sooo early to go to Melbourne airport to get on a plane to Singapore. The photo on the bottom is of a butterfly at the butterfly garden at the airport in Singapore.  Mummy took some great photos but we didn't stay for too long because it was soooo hot in there and what made it worse was that we had clothes on for Helsinki which is like 5 degrees so we were sweating like mad! 
After we left the butterfly garden Jack went crazy because he thought we were meant to go on the plane but actually it was hours away. The photo in the middle is of us waiting hours with endless trips to the bathroom. When we finally got on the plane and up in the air Jack took a photo of out the window. I cant wait for London but I'm not looking forward to the flight.


Saturday, 19 April 2014

...last day ....

Day 3 - Melbourne

In what can only be seen as an omen of things to come we got completely lost today trying to catch a bus and a tram to the South Melbourne markets.  Even though the maps and helpful strangers were speaking our language.  Happy ending though - we got there and found amazing canoli and got home without incident!

Tomorrow we fly to Singapore and then onto Helsinki.  I am, not so secretly, dreading it.  The children still think it will be fun.  I think David plans to sleep the whole way.

What we are looking forward to the most (today's version - it does tend to change daily) 

          Grace - climbing the Eiffel Tower and taking a selfie
           Lily - Harry Potter world
          Jack - Japan - but we're not going there so he settled for EuroDisney
          David - the small walled villages in France
          Me - it should be Spain because I've never been there but really I can't wait to wander round 
          Florence and Paris again.

We're leaving Autumn behind and heading for Spring.
We cannot wait!


Friday, 18 April 2014

....meeting Charlie for the very first time ...

Day 2 - Melbourne

Still in Australia - it's taking a long time to say goodbye

We stayed with some old friends last night and woke up to noisy children eating chocolate cake and Easter eggs for breakfast while they made (even more) loom bands.  Lots of gossip, cups of tea and dance video making (that taco song is stil going round in my head).

This afternoon we packed up all those red cases again and moved a couple of suburbs closer to town and finally the children had the chance to meet their new(ish) cousin.  Charlie was most obliging - he smiled at the right times and didn't object (much) to being treated like a living doll. There's something special about cousins.


Thursday, 17 April 2014

... the journey begins ...

Day 1 - Hobart to Melbourne

It was a beautiful, sparkly Hobart day as we set off.

Matchy-matchy suitcases crammed full, ipads fully charged, goodbyes done.

Adventuring here we come.