Well we are back in Australia, not convinced that spring has happened here yet but still, happy to be back. We had a fantastic time in our three weeks in Europe. Our kids are of the perfect age to travel now (7 and 8) and we really had very little issues with them at all, so if you are still at the 'holidays with pre-schoolers' stage, don't despair it gets easier and one day you WILL be able to travel in a civilised and stylish manner once more, honestly. Our time in both the UK and France was just so great, there are too many highlights to tell you all of them, but here are just a few. I haven't sorted through our hundreds of photos yet but I will pull some out and post them soon.
The best bits...
Remembering all the odd and quirky things about Britain that I like.
Marvelling at how instantly comfy the boys were with their nanna after not seeing her for fours years, and how easily they fell in with their cousins, isn't it funny how family just seems to override any shyness or awkwardness?
An evening with our old neighbours Polly, Simon, Jack and Shirley - Jacob and Shirley were best friends at kinder and the kids all had a riot together, what a hoot, plus thanks to Shirley my boys are now into the Beano and Dandy comics I used to read when I was little (hurrah).
Catching up with my dear friend Emma who kindly helped out with the boys while we did some Lark business things - Em has known my kids since they were bumps and she is a fantastic 'auntie', she took them to Cadbury World and to see the sights of London.
Paris - everything about it!
The Victoria & Albert museum in London, I always love this place, I took Jacob up to the 20th century room and we talked about typefaces and technology, wondering at what will be on show in 30 years when he is taking his own kids around the V&A (will the iPad seem as ridiculous as those brick-sized early mobile phones?). I oohed and aahed at the Grace Kelly exhibition too, her dresses are so beautiful.
Buying yummy food at Waitrose, M&S Simply Food and the many other amazing supermarkets and delis that you are never more than a few miles from and that are seriously so much better than our Aussie supermarkets.
Eurostar - it sure beats flying, you don't have all the hanging about at airport lounges and baggage carousels, you just hop on a train and 2 hours later you hop off in the centre of Paris, how civilised!
Two days at Legoland in Windsor, it is the best theme park we have ever been to, perfect for primary school kids and we all enjoyed it so much, I would seriously recommend this as an essential visit for 6-11 year olds. You can purchase something called a Q-Bot that enables you to book each ride as you are going around the park, thus avoiding lengthy queues - yay!
Shopping - I had basically two half days in London to get around the big stores (Anthropologie, Liberty, Urban Outfitters, Selfridges etc), bargain shopping at Primark, clothes shopping at White Stuff and perusing the indie shops around Notting Hill and I made the most of it. Favourite purchases were a knitted dress from Anthropologie for next Autumn, a huge pile of Liberty prints for my stash, a beautiful wallpaper for something I am working on (watch this space), lots of cute paper goods, and stacks of undies and tights from good old Marks and Spencers. Best bargains were a pair of very cute polka dot PJs for just £1 at Primark and lots of discounted Cath Kidston goodies from their Bicester clearance shop, including the vintage swimming cossie I have been coveting (down to £15 and only one left). And a pile of beautiful 1950s vintage British jigsaws in an op shop for 50p.
Being with my kids 24/7, sharing family in-jokes, making comic strips and stories together and singing silly songs.
Veggie food. Being a vegetarian family is nothing unusual in the UK and you can buy all kinds of yummy food, there's no assumption that because you don't like eating meat you're some kind of a health nut, which is what people seem to think in Australia (and we are most certainly more interested in being foodies than health freaks).
The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre in Great Missenden - one of the best children's museums I have been to, it really brings Roald Dahl's amazing books to life, very interactive for all ages, interesting for adults too, affectionate, quirky and really high quality exhibits. It is SO worth the trip to the little village of Great Missenden to see this museum. We had a nice pint of ale in the village pub afterwards to round off our visit.
A sunny day in Liverpool.
A visit to beautiful Stamford where we op shopped for books to read on the trip back (and I found a cute dotty blouse for £1), and we lunched nearby at the OK American diner, a vintage 1950s chrome diner that was shipped in from the US, and where we often used to eat when the kids were little, it is ace!!!
Watching the kids make friends with English and French kids at playgrounds.
Visiting the UK gift trade shows to find some amazing and beautiful things for the Lark shop, but also to catch up with the lovely people we work with: Belle & Boo, Lisa Jones, Rosie Flo etc... lots of laughs! We went out to dinner with the Belle & Boo gang and shared mucho gossip and ideas.
Not being the family on the plane with the naughtiest kids (those days are gone, my friend, and we now have two boys who will happily spend 12 hours snoozing, watching movies, reading, and quietly playing the inflight computer games).
Coming home... touching down on Australian soil (always makes me feel happy), seeing the sun come out as we drove out of the forest towards Daylesford, picking up Jim and Harry from the kennels, tipping the contents of our suitcase straight into the laundry basket and putting my feet up in my favourite armchair, looking out through the window over Daylesford. Ahhh! I hope you have been keeping well, I'm planning to catch up on my blog-reading to morrow to see what everyone's been up to while I've been away. xx