So Very Thankful!

I have had the most amazing year! It started with a trip to Palmerston North, New Zealand, for the birth of Robin’s and my fifth grand child Ella in February. Then in March came a trip to Sydney, Australia, for the birth of our sixth grand child Luke. And following that in April our seventh grand child Sophie was born in London. Yes that’s right! Three grand children in three months! How often does that happen?

In May I had another trip to Sydney to catch up with that lovely new grandson, as well as two sons, two daughter in laws and three grand children, including Luke.

In August five of us left New Zealand for Poland. We had a wedding to go to! Second son Daniel was getting married to Marysia and nine family members were travelling over for the celebration. That meant I was meeting up with Matthew and grand daughter Casey, and Ben and Chloe from Sydney, as well as travelling with Robin, Judy (my sister), Len and niece Teresa. And, we were meeting little Sophie for the first time!

We stayed in Poland in a Palace! It was a fabulous place. Somewhere buried deep in my blog (around August 2014) is a picture of the palace. The wedding was amazing!

From Poland we went to Czech Republic, Hungary, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria and Romania. This was all part of an ‘Insight Vacations’ tour called ‘The tour of the Balkans’. It was a marvelous experience and fully covered in previous blog posts as well!

After the tour I flew to London (alone) and arrived on the 15th of September. The rest of my family who did the tour flew back to New Zealand. I have had the most amazing three months here looking after my grand daughter Sophie while her Mum and Dad went to work. And I have made the most of that time! I have connected with a local Church and the super friendly people there by attending some Sundays, but also by taking Sophie to their playgroup most Friday mornings. It has been great! I also took Sophie to the local library most Wednesdays for music and movement in French! I loved it, and so did Sophie. That child just rocks to every beat of music with a huge smile on her face!

At every opportunity I went into London to ‘Hillsong London’ church and I would spend the whole day wandering around the popular tourist spots in the city. I spent a couple of Saturdays in the city as well so I could see everything! I have thousands of photos! I also took Sophie into London and met up with Dan and Marysia. After work we explored London by night. So completely different than during the day. The lights and sights are superb!

From the 4th of November until the 26th of November, my sister Judy came over from New Zealand to holiday with me. The second weekend she was here we flew to Switzerland for three days. We stayed in Zurich and discovered the city. We also did a tour of wonderful Lucerne and then went up Mount Pilatus by the cog railway. Oh my goodness those places are a must to visit! I have loaded heaps of photos here on my blog as well. Go have a look and be inspired to go there yourself! You won’t regret it!

Judy and I also went to two shows, ‘Les Miserables’ and ‘Billy Elliot’, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. We wandered through museums, shops, the winter wonderland and went on the London eye together. So many fun and memorable moments!

Dan and Marysia also took me to Oxford, and then Judy and I to Winchester to see the Christmas markets there! So many wonderful, amazing experiences! And it hasn’t ended yet! On the 19th, Dan, Marysia, Sophie and myself are flying to Sydney and meeting husband Robin, daughter Jessica and her boyfriend Conner who are flying the same day from New Zealand. We will all be staying with eldest son Matthew, Rebekah and grandchildren Leeara, Casey and Luke. And eldest daughter Joanna who is in Sydney already, waiting for us to arrive! We will be meeting up with youngest son Ben and Chloe before they fly to New Zealand to meet Chloe’s family for Christmas. We will be having a fabulous Christmas in Sydney together! It certainly will be a time of celebration.

When I think of all that I have experienced this year and of the wonderful provision from God to be able to do it all (and an understanding, loving husband), I feel amazingly blessed! I feel so full from all of the most wonderful experiences and relationships in my life, and feel so emotionally satisfied and happy. Sometimes I feel like my heart could burst withΒ  joy from all these experiences πŸ™‚

Now I am not sharing all this to show off, or to make you feel jealous of me, or to make you think that I am perfect, have an amazing personality, a great character, are better than others and somehow deserve this life. I am human, I make plenty of mistakes and I fail at times, my life hasn’t always been this wonderful in fact it has had many troubles. I am only in this place at this time because of my gracious and merciful God!

Here is the reality of my life, and a little of my past and the sadness I have experienced….

In 1989, when I was 33 years old, I was living in a half finished house and I was solely paying the weekly mortgage payments. I was a single mother of four young boys and I was supported by the New Zealand Domestic Purposes Benefit, which was barely enough to survive on. My ex-husband had left me and the boys and he wasn’t making life easy. I was continually under pressure to ‘hold it together’ for the sake of my children especially when their emotions were also in a mess. They couldn’t really understand the changes that had happened in their lives, and to be honest neither could I.

Emotionally I was a wreck! Not only was I suffering huge rejection from my ex-husband, but I also felt rejection from those who thought I was somehow not worthy of their friendship any longer as I was now a solo mother. I had lost the title of being a wife and had also lost status in society, as I was now officially on a benefit! Some women couldn’t associate with me any longer as somehow I became a threat to them. As a single lady, I was seen as available, I could maybe attract interest from their husbands (even though I had four children). From men, they felt it would ruin my reputation to be seen with me? Of course, having suffered the devastation of a broken marriage I wanted to go break another marriage and cause damage in their life as well! Really? And being a single women with four children, it actually hurt to be with couples and see their happy family, knowing our little family was broken and suffering.

My ex husband played the blame game often (of course it was all my fault), and I developed the habit of needing to defend myself both to him and to the many he had convinced of his innocence, and to our past friends. And I’m not saying that I was completely blameless, but I was completely faithful!

Divorce leaves behind broken lives! And it can take years for those lives to be restored. And even when you think you have it sorted, something happens and before you know it, you find yourself back in the middle of an emotional crisis again! And as a survivor, you do get yourself back on track eventually, but it is a process, believe me. And I have fallen many times over the years. I am a whole lot better than I was, but it is still very sad how deep rejection, or the feeling of being unappreciated, can wound the very soul of a person! It’s also very sad to suffer at the hands of those who have never experienced the hardships of divorce and all that goes with it, and they cast you aside when you show any degree of weakness in your emotional life. I take hurts very deep, and have reacted upon that hurt spirit, rather than see myself as God sees me… totally loved unconditionally, and totally understood. And, I have had prayer and ministry for the brokenness, and I believe that God has helped me incredibly. The upsets from the past come further and further apart now and are much less severe.

As you would know (if you have read ‘About me’ here on my blog) I am a Christian. I know the love, value, acceptance and belonging that comes from receiving Jesus as my Lord and Saviour.Β  I know peace and joy, and I live a very rich and fulfilled life. I’m not saying that if you become a christian, you will have problem free living. I haven’t had life easy as a Christian, but I have a God who says ‘Cast your cares on me for I care for you’. And He never fails to bring comfort and joy. Yes… it is well with my soul! That doesn’t mean that the echoes of the past don’t come back to haunt me, and that you forget the events of the past, but with God’s help you can forgive and the memories are much less painful.

Many years ago a lady came to me in church, and said that she felt she had a scripture for me. It was Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, β€œplans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Well I think God has blessed me with the reality of that scripture for a few years now but even more so in this year. Yes I am so very thankful for the wonderful year I have just had and I thank God daily for it! And I am so thankful for my wonderful family who I get to share this life with. And, I am also so very thankful for the friends I have, who have stood by me and loved me no matter what, and still encourage me to be the best me that I possibly can πŸ™‚

I love you all xoxoxo

I wonder what God has in His plans for us in 2015!

Isaiah 61:3 To bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of dispair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.

Pre-Christmas in London

I am amazed at just how much effort is put into making the Christmas season so very special here in London. I guess we are no different in New Zealand but the largeness of this place just seems to make it all the more extravagant!

Firstly there is the ‘Winter Wonderland Show’ at Hyde park. Judy and I walked through on a Monday night after it opened over the previous weekend. Fortunately Monday night wasn’t too popular, and it was an easy walk through and very enjoyable. By the next weekend when I went again, it was crowded. You could hardly move with all the people, but there was a great atmosphere. People were happy and having so much fun. I took heaps of photos but think this you tube clip will help show just how BIG the place is!

The streets are all lit up with amazing Christmas lights but the shop windows have become like a super competition to see who produces the most WOW factor. Let them fight it out I say while I wander through the crowded streets and admire their efforts!

There are plenty of you tube movies about each store as well, especially as they finally unveil their window displays to the public. Here is a Harrods video…

And another store that is very well known. It was voted the best department store in the world!

Here is a sample of their in store decorations! They really are amazing!

Another store with the big reveal is Fenwicks. This Fenwicks is in Newcastle but there is a huge store in Bond Street, London.

Walking home one night Daniel and Marysia took us into the store Fortnum and Mason. I’d never heard of the store before but I was certainly in for a treat. This store is for the RICH! I’ve attached a you tube clip of this store. Its by a chap who seems to make a living making You Tube videos about London.

John Lewis is another big department store and it’s Christmas lights are turned on with the Oxford Street light up, but they have an advert which is televised during the Christmas season. The little penguin named Monty has become very popular. Everyone wants a Monty Penguin and his little girlfriend Maude.

I frequently buy online from Debenhams Store for presents for London friends. Here is their Christmas advert and you can see some of their instore decorations as well.

Here is a link I found with a write up about each shop and their window display.

https://www.central-london-apartments.com/blog/londons-christmas-window-displays-2014/

And here is what Covent Garden got up to getting their 2014 Christmas decorations up! And believe me it all looks amazing!

We were lucky enough to wander through Covent Garden and see these wonderful decorations in person.

Another big thing is when the Christmas lights get officially turned on. The public come out in force to celebrate the event. It’s like a huge concert and goes on for hours.Β  Here is Regent Street lights switch on 2014

I could only find a longer video for Oxford Street but what a celebration it was!

This short video is a general shop window one…

Libertys of London had a real celebration for the window display reveal. Once again it’s quite a long video but shows the excitement involved in this Christmas season at Liberty. It’s a wonderful store but once again quite expensive!

And if you walk along Southbank, the River Thames walkway you will also see the Christmas Markets. Actually this guy has done heaps of video clips on You Tube about Christmas in London.

I have noticed that there is a huge lack of Nativity scenes in London’s Christmas Celebrations. How sad is that! We are definitely seeing Christ taken out of Christmas, and with the stores each competing for sales, I guess ‘Jesus is the reason for the season’ doesn’t help provide them with store purchases. The meaning of Christmas has become buy buy buy! Gift giving even when you can’t afford it. Well gift buying anyway!

The best gift of all and it doesn’t cost a cent is the gift that God gave 2014 years ago. It was in the form of a little baby, God’s son Jesus Christ. He died 33 years later as a sacrifice for our sins, and so that we could have eternal life. This gift of salvation is free, you only have to accept it! John 3;16. For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, so that he who believe in Him should not perish but have eternal life.

Having attended Hillsong London a few times while in London, I have been amazed at their influence in this city. The church is huge and is growing daily! Now they are having a Christmas celebration and it does include Jesus! It does has Father Christmas but would certainly share the true reason that Christmas is part of our lives today. Here is a video of last years production. It is 29 minutes long but a great look! If that sounds too long for you though, there is another link on my page for this years service, go to that one πŸ™‚

To find out more please open/download the link below and check out the provided information πŸ™‚

Hillsong Christmas Carols Press Release_CVH (1) (1)

So… it will be at Wembley Arena again and the cost is 5pound per person. The 7.30pm Carol service is full already but there is another service at 3pm. This will be a Christmas celebration that you won’t forget in a hurry. In fact it could be life changing for you πŸ™‚

Have a look…

I’m actually really sad that I can’t go to this Christmas service. I leave London on the 19th of December, but for those of you who live in London, don’t miss out!

Don't miss out! I'm sure it will be a Christmas Concert you will remember and be thankful for...  for eternity
Β Please share with me how the evening/afternoon went. I’d love to hear all about it πŸ™‚

Three Wonderful Weeks!

Last Wednesday I took my sister to Heathrow airport and said goodbye to her! It was a really sad time! And for a couple of days I missed her terribly. Having someone to share my everyday moments with had been so very special. Talking to a baby all day just isn’t quite the same. And because I am only here in London for three months, I haven’t the same friendship base that I have back home in New Zealand. I must drive Daniel and Marysia to despair when they get home from work. I chat about every little thing that Sophie and I got up to during the day, and believe me it’s not all that interesting. But still, I am loving my time here and I do try to make the most of every day. And, I am happy πŸ™‚

Judy had flown over from New Zealand to London to keep me company for three weeks, and we certainly made the most of our time together. Not only did we see some amazing places, but being together did something in my soul. I felt such joy at being able to share my ‘life in London’ with her and also seeing new places with her by my side to chat over details and laugh! Boy did we have some good laughs! I am so spoilt to have a sister that I get on so well with and we enjoy each others company…. lots!

Judy arrived on her birthday, the 4th of November, and that is the day our fun together started. Sophie and I got up early to catch a bus to the train station, and then the Piccadilly underground to Heathrow airport, terminal two. The trip takes approximately an hour and a half on the tube, and ten minutes on the bus. It was a good trip and we stood at arrivals and waited excitedly to greet Judy as soon as we could see her. And then it was back on the tube with baby in pram, and my sister and suitcase in tow! Then dragging that suitcase on and off the train, up the escalator, on the bus, off the bus, and then down the road to home πŸ™‚ All to be reversed the day Judy left hehe πŸ™‚

The next day Marysia stayed home with Sophie, so Judy and I could spend the day in London together. Our first stop was Harrods!

Me with my cup of tea :-)
Me with my cup of tea πŸ™‚
Judy with her scones and clotted cream
Judy with her scones and clotted cream

Our plan was to go and book in for the tour of Buckingham Palace. Both of us have been to London before and had the celebratory photo taken outside the palace gates, but we hadn’t been inside. We ventured off feeling very excited at the prospect only to be told once there that the palace was now closed to visitors until after Christmas!!! How disappointing! But we were told we could tour the Royal Mews instead. The stables with carriage houses? Why not? So off we went and if you have a look at the photos, you will see that we had plenty to look at. Actually it was really quite interesting.

Here I am with one of the first carriages we saw
Here I am with one of the first carriages we saw
And Judy with another
And Judy with another
The Gold carriage
The Gold carriage
The set up for the Gold Carriage
The set up for the Gold Carriage
One of the Royal cars
One of the Royal cars
And we did get another photo taken in front of Buckingham Palace :-)
And we did get another photo taken in front of Buckingham Palace πŸ™‚
Judy outside Buckingham Palace
Judy outside Buckingham Palace
A lovely view on the walk from Buckingham Palace
A lovely view on the walk from Buckingham Palace
Walking towards Trafalgar Square
Walking towards Trafalgar Square

And as we were going to Piccadilly Circus for tea and a show so we just had to have a look at M&M world!

A very English Red M&M
A very English Red M&M
Judy with Yellow!
Judy with Yellow!
And now with Green!
And now with Green!
What colour is your favourite????
What colour is your favourite????
All together now!
All together now!
Three stories of M&M produce for sale!
Three stories of M&M produce for sale!

Our next venture into London was to meet up with my friend Bessie. We decided that Westminster Abbey would be a great place to start. Unfortunately we didn’t realise that there was a huge ceremony going on in town to remember the soldiers from world wars one and two. The town was crowded and the two places we wanted to see were just packed with people.

Westminster Abbey on a very busy day in November. Celebrating and remembering 11/11/1945
Westminster Abbey on a very busy day in November. Celebrating and remembering 11/11/1945
'Lest we forget'
‘Lest we forget’
Little crosses in place in rememberance of the lives lost
Little crosses in place in rememberance of the lives lost

And a little video of my visit to Wesminster Abbey in October…

Big Ben and the Parliament Buildings
Big Ben and the Parliament Buildings
The Parliament Buildings and the Clock Tower, Big Ben!
The Parliament Buildings and the Clock Tower, Big Ben! View from the Westminster Bridge.
The courtyard of Parliament Buildings.
The courtyard of Parliament Buildings.
At Westminster beside the Thames is this artwork!
At Westminster beside the Thames is this artwork!
A closer look! 3D art!
A closer look! 3D art!
More on another wall :-)
More on another wall πŸ™‚
We walked to Covent Garden and saw the Christmas decorations there
We walked to Covent Garden and saw the Christmas decorations there
It was amazing at just how much effort had gone in to decorate the buildings
It was amazing at just how much effort had gone in to decorate the buildings
Walking through Covent Garden
Walking through Covent Garden

And then as it was getting late in the day we caught the bus to london Bridge and the Tower of London. the traffic was horrendous and the bus trip took way longer than it should have. We arrived as it was getting dark but we still managed to see all the wonderful ceramic poppies that were ‘planted’ in the Tower of London, also to help us to remember the lives lost in wars.

The Poppies explained.
The Poppies explained.
The poppies in the ground of the Tower of London with London Bridge in the distance
The poppies in the ground of the Tower of London with London Bridge in the distance
Thousands of ceramic poppies
Thousands of ceramic poppies
Another wall of the Tower with the poppies below
Another wall of the Tower with the poppies below
It was as if they were pouring from the wall!
It was as if they were pouring from the wall!
The poppies surrounded the whole Tower
The poppies surrounded the whole Tower

Now there is a train station by the Tower of London but it was packed with people. It also had steps and we had Sophie in the pram. So after a long walk Judy and I managed to get to another station that had a lift and us three very tired people managed to get home again. What fun!

On our next venture into London we visited the Sherlock Holmes Museum.

Waiting patiently outside for our turn to go into the house
Waiting patiently outside for our turn to go into the house
Judy  in Sherlocks Lounge :-)
Judy in Sherlocks Lounge πŸ™‚
Judy with Sherlocks hat and pipe :-)
Judy with Sherlocks hat and pipe πŸ™‚

We wandered down to Oxford Street and walked through Selfridges. Selfridges is voted the best department store in the world and has all the designer collections and must haves (toys and gifts) for the whole family.

This car was in a window display
This car was in a window display
Now who could buy me this for Christmas?
Now who could buy me this for Christmas?
Just a small portion of the Play-Doh display
Just a small portion of the Play-Doh display

 

Selfridges had the most amazing Christmas decorations!
Selfridges had the most amazing Christmas decorations!
I think I could make these amazing Christmas Stockings!
I think I could make these amazing Christmas Stockings!
A new bike seat maybe?
A new bike seat maybe?
Selfridges had a room that was just about Paddington Bear!
Selfridges had a room that was just about Paddington Bear!
Lots of them for sale!
Lots of them for sale!
And their window displays were a work of art inside and out! Fully decorated :-)
And their window displays were a work of art inside and out! Fully decorated πŸ™‚
And then we move on to John West Department Store and their Christmas toy is the Penguin named Monty. These sell out every day!
And then we move on to John Lewis Department Store and their Christmas toy is the Penguin named Monty. These sell out every day!

Here is a link to their very cute Christmas advert…

We finished off the day with a meal at Bubba Gumps Restaurant... Yum!
We finished off the day with a meal at Bubba Gumps Restaurant… Yum!
Our next venture into London was to see the British Museum
Our next venture into London was to see the British Museum
The most fabulous ceiling!
The most fabulous ceiling!
And then on to the Victoria and Albert Museum
And then on to the Victoria and Albert Museum
Here's Judy on the steps. The place is huge!
Here’s Judy on the steps. The place is huge!
A photo inside this amazing building!
A photo inside this amazing building!
Still the museum but the other side of the inner courtyard
Still the museum but the other side of the inner courtyard
And this is the cafe!!!
And this is the cafe!!!
Our first view of the Prince Albert Hall
Our first view of the Prince Albert Hall
And here it is! The Prince Albert Hall
And here it is! The Prince Albert Hall
The Prince Albert Memorial Statue!
The Prince Albert Memorial Statue!
Walking through Hyde Park
Walking through Hyde Park
On our way to the Zoo we stopped at Camden Town. Well known for the shop fronts, Goth clothes for sale, the markets and the Camden Lock.
Next day! On our way to the Zoo we stopped at Camden Town. Well known for the shop fronts, Goth clothes for sale, the markets and the Camden Lock.
more shop fronts!
more shop fronts!
The Camden Lock.
The Camden Lock.
And evidence of our very short trip to the London Zoo. Sophie was having an off day and cried the whole time.... so we left!
And evidence of our very short trip to the London Zoo. Sophie was having an off day and cried the whole time…. so we left!
London by night.. along bankside :-)
London by night.. along bankside πŸ™‚ The top of St Pauls in the middle!
Early on in our walk along the bank of the river Thames. Great views.
Early on in our walk along the bank of the river Thames. Great views.
A Carousel by night :-)
A Carousel by night πŸ™‚
Lovely photo of the eye at night.
Lovely photo of the eye at night.
The Aquarium :-)
The Aquarium πŸ™‚
The Parliament Buildings and Big Ben at night
The Parliament Buildings and Big Ben at night
Looking across the Thames at the London Eye :-)
Looking across the Thames at the London Eye πŸ™‚

On the last Friday that Judy was in London, we caught the train into London again, but this time we were to meet up with Dan and Marysia after work.

We went to Borough Market for lunch with Marysia and afterwards went for a walk to St Pauls to meet up with Daniel after work.
We went to Borough Market for lunch with Marysia and afterwards went for a walk to St Pauls to meet up with Daniel after work.
Outside The Shakespeare Globe Theater
Outside The Shakespeare Globe Theater. The ‘YOU+’ Sign was for a friend πŸ™‚
Crossing The Millenium Bridge with St Pauls Cathedral at the end.
Crossing The Millenium Bridge with St Pauls Cathedral at the end.

I crossed this bridge earlier in my time in London with Sophie after visiting the Tate Museum.

The wonderful view from the Tate Museum
The wonderful view from the Tate Museum
Pushing Sophie across the Millenium Bridge
Pushing Sophie across the Millenium Bridge
St Pauls Cathedral.
St Paul’s Cathedral.
We had time to spare so we went to the Museum Of London. And it was well worth the visit :-)
We had time to spare so we went to the Museum Of London. And it was well worth the visit πŸ™‚
The night Sky at St James Square. Walking to Piccadilly Circus for tea.
The night Sky at St James Square. Walking to Piccadilly Circus for tea.
After Dan and Marysia finished work we all went to The Rainforest cafe for tea. A great experience and Sophie loved the animals.
After Dan and Marysia finished work we all went to The Rainforest cafe for tea. A great experience and Sophie loved the animals.

Here’s a short film of Sophie with the gorillas at The rainforest Cafe…

We visited Fortnum and Mason on our way to the Train Station. A very extravagant shop! Here is one of the displays.
We visited Fortnum and Mason on our way to the Train Station. A very extravagant shop! Here is one of the displays.
Another shop display. Just one of the very many I could have taken photos of. They were all very special.
Another shop display. Just one of the very many I could have taken photos of. They were all very special.
Here's another example of the fabulous displays in this shop.
Here’s another example of the fabulous displays in this shop.
The wonderful shop decorations.
The wonderful shop decorations.
The Fortnum and Mason Christmas Display
The Fortnum and Mason Christmas Display
Just great for Christmas Cards?
Just great for Christmas Cards?
No! This one is definitely better :-) Sorry Judy :-)
No! This one is definitely better πŸ™‚ Sorry Judy πŸ™‚
A mall with it's christmas decorations... but it was closed this night.
A mall with it’s christmas decorations… but it was closed this night.

On Judy’s last Saturday we all went to Winchester to have a look at their Christmas markets. It is a two hour drive south of Barnet where Dan and Marysia live, but it was definitely worth the trip.

The Winchester Cathedral
The Winchester Cathedral
One of the many stalls selling food and Mulled wine.
One of the many stalls selling food and Mulled wine.
The brave people trying out the ice skating rink... in the rain and cold!
The brave people trying out the ice skating rink… in the rain and cold!
The stalls were all around the Cathedral and on the main streets
The stalls were all around the Cathedral and on the main streets
Judy in amongst the crowd!
Judy in amongst the crowd!
The main street with the old buildings and crowds of people
The main street with the old buildings and crowds of people

So on the Sunday, the last day Judy and I could venture out without Sophie we decided to do all the other things we had planned to do, but just hadn’t had time. We left nice and early and caught the tube to Baker Street station. The first place to go was Madame Tussards Wax Museum. What a lot of fun!

Yes that's me and Johnny Depp!
Yes that’s me and Johnny Depp!
Looks like Judy is trying to push Marilyn off the stage hehe
Looks like Judy is trying to push Marilyn off the stage hehe
Me and Shrek!
Me and Shrek!
Judy and Jonah :-)
Judy and Jonah πŸ™‚
Why oh why Robin??? You look so happy here, and were so successful and loved! Money and fame sure doesn't bring happiness!
Why oh why Robin??? You look so happy here, and were so successful and loved! Money and fame sure doesn’t bring happiness!

The wax museum was very interactive. You could pose with all the models and the 4D movie experience at the end was all laughs. Judy and I had so much fun and were so thrilled we went!

And from the wax museum it was onto the London Eye! What an amazing experience, even in the rain!
And from the wax museum it was onto the London Eye! What an amazing experience, even in the rain!
Here's Judy in the eye :-)
Here’s Judy in the eye πŸ™‚
At the top!
At the top!

The fantastic view, even through wet windows!
The fantastic view, even through wet windows!
Looking down!
Looking down!

And after that fabulous experience we went on the London Dungeon Tour. I have seen this advertise the last twice I was in London but thought it would just be all touristy and not really worth going to, but it was well worth it. It lasted an hour and a half and was entertaining the whole way through. Great actors and also great scene sets!

Lastly for the day we wandered through Hyde Park and the Winter Wonderland. Luckily this was the first weekend it had opened. We were able to wander around and enjoy the place. I went again the following Saturday night with Marysia and Sophie in her pram and it was a nightmare. The people were squashed in like sardines! And we had to find Daniel. Consequently we didn’t stay long!

The Entrance to Winter Wonderland
The Entrance to Winter Wonderland
The ferris wheel!
The ferris wheel!
One of the theme park attractions
One of the theme park attractions
The Haunted house. The only ride Judy and I went on! It was great!
The Haunted house. The only ride Judy and I went on! It was great!
On our ride. Like kids again :-)
On our ride. Like kids again πŸ™‚
Looking at the lights!
Looking at the lights!

Monday we relaxed, Tuesday we walked to Alexandra Palace and Wednesday was the trip to Heathrow Airport by the Piccadilly underground line!

It was uphill all the way to the Palace, but a great walk :-)
It was uphill all the way to the Palace, but a great walk πŸ™‚
Alexandra Palace. This isn't far from Dan and Marysias place. Judy and I walked to the Palace, had a super lunch,  and then back home again in the dark.
Alexandra Palace. This isn’t far from Dan and Marysias place. Judy and I walked to the Palace, had a super lunch, and then back home again in the dark.
Another view of Ally Pally :-)
Another view of Ally Pally πŸ™‚

Now in amongst all the above places and things we saw, Judy and I also went to two shows, both were wonderful! We went to Les Miserables after our first dinner at Rainforest Cafe. Both great experiences! And we also went to Billy Elliot. That was actually Judys Birthday present as she arrived in London on her birthday πŸ™‚

We also had the three day weekend in Switzerland. So all in all we definitely had three amazing weeks together. And can you see why I missed her so much when she left?

Less than a month!

Here I am sitting at my laptop when I have so many other things I should be doing! Time is running out and I am beginning to feel the panic! But I wanted to share all the happenings with you…. my reader πŸ™‚

On the 19th of August, Robin and I will be flying over to Wroclaw, Poland. My sister, her partner and her daughter are also coming with us. We are all going to my second son Daniel and Marysia’s wedding! Now isn’t that something to get excited about! Checkout their wedding plans…

www.danmarysia.com

And even more exciting news…. Eldest son Matthew and grand daughter Casey are coming to the wedding as well… from Sydney! Casey is going to be a little flower girl. And wait… there’s more… Youngest son Ben and daughter in law Chloe are also coming from Sydney. Nearly a family reunion! I can’t wait!

After the wedding we will be travelling to Prague for three days and then onto Budapest. We are going on another ‘Insight Vacations’ tour! Yay! I am sooooo spoilt…..and don’t I know it! This time it is the tour called Β ‘Treasures of the Balkans’. We travel from Budapest to Bucharest! I will be regularly putting posts on my blog and uploading photos when I can πŸ™‚ Here is the tour…

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Treasures of the Balkans

and the details a little clearer…

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The Map!

And the day to day travel and sights to see…

Days 1 to 9
Days 1 to 9
Days 10 to 17
Days 10 to 17

Sorry the printing isn’t that easy to read πŸ™ ButΒ do you think a wedding and a tour are enough to get excited about? Well there’s more!

At 10.52pm on the 21st of April little 3.3 kg Sophie Michelle Hill was born. Our third grand child to be born this year. Ella on the 4th of February, Luke on the 18th of March and then Sophie on the 21st of April. Look at this gorgeous little girl…

Brand new Baby Sophie
Brand new Baby Sophie
A very alert little baby girl :-)
A very alert little baby girl πŸ™‚
I love this photo of Sophie having a tub bath!
I love this photo of Sophie having a tub bath!
One of my favourite photos. Sophie and her Daddy asleep together <3
One of my favourite photos. Sophie and her Daddy asleep together <3

Now isn’t Sophie a wonderful addition to our family! We now have seven grand children. Four girls and three boys! I have had quite a few cuddles with Ella and Luke but have yet to cuddle Sophie. Roll on August the 19th!

Now after the wedding and the tour, Robin, Judy, Len and Teresa are flying back to New Zealand via Hong Kong. I will be doing something very different. I will be flying to London. Yes London. I am going to be Sophie’s Nanny until Christmas time, when Daniel, Marysia, Sophie and myself will be flying to Sydney to celebrate Christmas with family there. Robin and Jess will fly from New Zealand to join us (Joanna has to work).

So I am going to get plenty of Sophie cuddles. Will be missing the other grand children cuddles and my other children/adults/husband/friends, but what an opportunity! I feel like I am the luckiest person alive…. and I am very thankful.

Watch out people…Β this blog is going to have so many updates over the next six months.

The Final Day Of Our Holiday!!!

No!!!!! The holiday has come to an end…and we had to say goodbye to Daniel and Marysia early in the morning. They had to go to work in London, and we had to leave for the airport at 5pm. With our bags all packed and the beds stripped and towels in the wash, we venture off again in Marysia’s little car. Teresa is beginning to get quite the expert I must say.

We venture to the nearby town of Windsor. After the nerve wracking experience of finding a petrol station, we find a carpark and off we go and explore Windsor on foot. The Windsor Castle dominates the town so it is very easy to find your way around. The gates of Windsor are at the end of the Windsor Great Park. Last year when Judy, Len, Robin and I came over we walked the great walk with Dan, Marysia and Glenda. It was fantastic. The whole grounds are owned by the queen and yet the public can wander through, ride bikes, horses, or just have family picnics and outings there. The deer even roam around in the park. We didn’t have time to do the walk this time but it was great to be able to show Teresa what it was like. I have put a photo up of the gate with a rusty old padlock on it. The story behind it is that when king Albert died, his wife Victoria was so sad she had the gate padlocked and it hasn’t been opened since then. He used to go out that gate every morning on his horse for a ride and Victoria couldn’t bare to be reminded of it…she loved and missed him so much…Awwww Outside Windsor Castle, there is a rather enigmatic Royal Air Force blue post box standing side-by-side with a red pillar box. The blue post boxes were introduced to important sites in England (such as Windsor Castle) between 1930 and 1938 to receive air mail post for Europe. They only lasted eight years because of the rapid expansion of air travel in that period, and also the RAF in the build up to the Second World War, but a few of them can still be seen today. A much wider and longer-lasting legacy of the brief blue boxes can be seen on the airmail stickers used today by Royal Mail, which are still Air Force blue to match their old post boxes. And as you can see by the photos below..we found the blue post box!

Windsor Castle grounds - part of!
Windsor Castle grounds – part of!
Windsor Castle wall with Windsor shops on the left
Windsor Castle wall with Windsor shops on the left
a Sign in Windsor
a Sign in Windsor
Statue and Castle
Statue and Castle
The only blue post box in Windsor
The only blue post box in Windsor
The gates of Windsor Castle
The gates of Windsor Castle
Standing at the Windsor end of the great walk
Standing at the Windsor end of the great walk
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The locked gate with the rusted padlock
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In front of Windsor Castle and at the end of the long walk

Windsor Great Park sign
Windsor Great Park sign
The church at Windsor
The church at Windsor
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Another view of the Castle Buildings
Sign at Windsor
Sign at Windsor

While at Windsor, we did a little shopping, had a nice lunch and just explored the Windsor town. Very soon it was time to get back to Dan and Marysias and get ready for our taxi pick up.

Windsor Royal Shopping Center entrance
Windsor Royal Shopping Center entrance
Standing in front of the old train engine called The Queen
Standing in front of the old train engine called The Queen

All went smoothly and we were at Heathrow airport before we knew it. Our flight was leaving at 10pm. We had a meal shortly after take off and then we all slept until nearly at Singapore. The Singapore stopover was a little easier than on the way over as it wasn’t as long, but the flight from Singapore to Auckland was painfully long! Because we had slept on the first flight we were only able to manage a couple of hours sleep on the second flight. We arrived in Auckland at approximately eleven am. And we had an arrival party. Merv (Teresa’s husband) and the four children were there to meet us. Jessica arrived shortly afterwards and we all enjoyed a fabulous reunion lunch together. Judy and I then had a three hour wait for our flight to New Plymouth. And I couldn’t stay awake! I had to lie down on an available seat, most uncomfortably, and with my backpack as a pillow….and sleep.

For the next three days I was asleep at 7.30 and awake at 5am. I do not cope with jetlag at all. But, I would put up with it anytime to have another amazing holiday like the one I just had. I am happy to say that this time I am home and feeling settled. After my last holiday I just couldn’t settle in to normal life…I fought it every day! But, I have felt strongly about getting this holiday all posted on my blog, and then I can move on to my next venture…more about that in my next blog post. Until then….no more holiday posts for me. The holiday has ended…thanks for reading. I hope you feel encouraged to travel yourself. Insight Vacations do amazing tours to lots of different destinations. I would easily go on another tour….want to join me?

 

 

London!!!

Two days travelling around and exploring inner London…..perfect!

Yes two days in a row and we were up at 6am, ready to catch a ride into London city with Daniel and Marysia. They have to leave home at 7am to be at work in time. Phew…what a mission! Four of us getting ready for the day in one hour! It isn’t a quick trip back home if we forget anything. And our ride home would be after work at 5.30pm, then traffic willing we would get back home at around 7.30pm. What a long day for all the commuting workers of London!

So us three girls trotted off to the great unknown….no actually Judy and I had both been to London before. I nearly lead us all astray as Hyde Park was much bigger than I remembered. Apparently we had only walked a tiny wee bit last time, and to get to the place that I had walked was going to take about an hours walk to get there. And to Judy’s grace and willingness (haha) we walked Hyde Park. What an amazing park to have right in London itself. Actually London has lots of parks in the inner city. It is very well planned. So we joined all the cyclist and joggers and started our own walking group of three on a very pleasant Tuesday morning πŸ™‚

NZ war memorial
NZ war memorial
Representing NZ soldiers killed in the war. The NZ Memorial
Representing NZ soldiers killed in the war. The NZ Memorial
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Gates at the entrance of Hyde Park
An early morning walk to brighten up the day :-)
An early morning walk to brighten up the day πŸ™‚
Diana memorial walk
Diana memorial walk
The amazing Hyde Park
The amazing Hyde Park
Wellington Arch
Wellington Arch
Photo taking of the Wellington Arch
Photo taking of the Wellington Arch

We walked all the way to Buckingham Palace via the Wellington Arch…took some photos to prove we had been there and then caught the hop on/off bus to discover more of London. Passing such monumental places like Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, House of Parliament, The London eye, Tower bridge, Tower of London, Piccadilly circus, Victoria Street Shops and Harrods of London….to name a few! We decided to stay on the bus and go right around the whole route. That way we could decide on the places we wanted to stop at the most.

Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey
Big Ben
Big Ben
St Pauls Cathedral
St Pauls Cathedral
Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace
The gates of Buckingham Palace
The gates of Buckingham Palace
The palace behind us
The palace behind us
A smallish crowd outside the palace today
A smallish crowd outside the palace today
By the statue outside Buckingham Palace
By the statue outside Buckingham Palace
House of Parliament
House of Parliament
So many wonderful old buildings to see!
So many wonderful old buildings to see!

By the time we had finished going round the route we were starving. The decision to get off near Trafalgar square was unanimous and we found the first food place to eat at. Marysia had suggested two places that are great for fast food, yet healthy and relatively cheap. We were within a block away from a ‘pret a manger’ which was one of her suggestions, and we weren’t disappointed. Fabulous food! And apparently they are owned by McDonalds…who would’ve known! A shopping trip to Victoria Street was in order as we had a ‘need to shop’ urge come upon us (well actually Teresa more than Judy and I, but we were happy to go with it).

We joined the bus trip again and found our way to St Pauls Cathedral. Here we were meeting Daniel for our adventurous trip back home. Two very full train trips and a short walk to the car park and we were off. Three hours later we arrive home very tired and hungry. It was a very bad day for travelling on the motorways….apparently!

The next morning was a repeat of the previous day but Marysia was the driver. Our first stop was the Tower of London. We had tickets so headed straight for fast track entry. Luckily we arrived early and there wasn’t too much crowd. But we found this place amazing and ended up spending all morning and until 1.30 there. The Tower of London is a must see! We didn’t go there last time and I am so pleased we managed to fit it in this trip. So much history and a well preserved castle. The crown jewels are also kept there so we were able to do a walk through and see the amazing richness of them all.

This window caught my eye. I had to focus in the cross. Very significant I think!
This window caught my eye. I had to focus in the cross. Very significant I think!
The Tower bridge from the Tower of London
The Tower bridge from the Tower of London
The Tower of London
The Tower of London
Guard and guns
Guard and guns
Buildings inside the Tower of London
Buildings inside the Tower of London
The bridge view from the ferry
The bridge view from the ferry
On the ferry on the river Thames
On the ferry on the river Thames
Posing on the ferry
Posing on the ferry
We wanted to go on the Eye but just ran out of time. Maybe next time :-)
We wanted to go on the Eye but just ran out of time. Maybe next time πŸ™‚

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The Tower bridge
The Tower bridge
Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge
The Tower of London
The Tower of London
Looking at the Eye through the trees
Looking at the Eye through the trees
Another view of the Tower of London
Another view of the Tower of London
Tower bridge form the Tower of London
Tower bridge form the Tower of London

From The Tower of London we walked down to the fery terminal and caught the ferry up to The London Eye. Our plan was to have a ride in the eye. Sadly it was almost 2.30 before we got there and we still had so much to see. The queues looked very long and the trip around in the Eye is nearly an hour long….so it had to be by-passed this time round!

Our last place of interest that was a ‘Must see’ for us was Harrods. So after a lovely roast meal lunch in ‘Shakespears Pub’ combined with a shandy….we followed with a Harrods Beer (wine for Teresa), olives and almonds in a Harrods restaurant! Oh to live a life of luxury. Sadly we couldn’t afford many purchases at Harrods, just a memoir or two πŸ™‚

Us in one of Harrods many themed restaurants/dining areas :-)
Us in one of Harrods many themed restaurants/dining areas πŸ™‚

Now to cap the day off just nicely we hopped back on the bus and took a trip to Notting Hill. We wandered through the shops and markets of Portobello Road. What a amazing place to visit and meander through. A few purchases made here and we wandered around to find the little bookshop from the ‘Notting Hill’ film. I will include a photo, but need to mention the bookshop from the film is actually the little shop on the right of the now new copied Notting Hill Bookshop. Still….we went there!!! After our leisurely look around Portebello markets and shops we caught a taxi to the huge Westfield nearby. Marysia met us there and we picked up lovely chinese takeaways to eat as the day ended. Another perfect day…I am so blessed!

The Little white building is the actual shop in the movie Notting Hill
The Little white building is the actual shop in the movie Notting Hill
Plaque of Notting Hill
Plaque of Notting Hill
The Hummingbird Bakery :-)
The Hummingbird Bakery πŸ™‚
Walking along the markets
Walking along the markets
Portobello Street = beautiful!
Portobello Street = beautiful!
Portobello Street
Portobello Street
Notting Hill Bookshop...film one is the place next door on the right :-)
Notting Hill Bookshop…film one is the place next door on the right πŸ™‚

A Forever Friend

Nearly five years ago a very close friend of mine decided that she needed a change in her life. So she bravely decided to apply for a job in the UK, through an agency called Oxford Aunts. See my friend Glenda is a nurse and had been managing a rest home for the previous eight years (approx), and assistant manager for nearly six years before that. Oxford Aunts finds nurses employment in elderly peoples homes as a live in care giver/nurse/home helper position. Glenda was perfect for the job and has been living with and looking after some very nice elderly people ever since. The present lady she is looking after is in her 90’s and is an artist, who is still doing art and even has a studio on her top floor of her house. I have been to see Glenda the previous two trips to England and I couldn’t be here again and not get to see her! So the last full day in London and we arrange to meet and spend the day and evening together.

Teresa very bravely drove Marysia’s car to Henley on Thames where Glenda lives. We had a few giggles as the indicator is on the opposite side to most cars, and it was a manual…Teresa drives an automatic! We had the window wipers going a few times even though it was perfectly fine. Glenda was waiting outside for us, had a car park sorted for Marysias car, and once the greetings were over, we were off. Glenda had planned a little tiki tour of Henley on Thames and some of the surrounding villages. I always find it interesting to see what Glenda has discovered in her little ventures around England and am amazed at how knowledgeable she has become. She probably knows more about her area than many locals. Henley on Thames itself is an awesome little town. I would love to live there too!

George Harrisons Driveway
George Harrisons Driveway
The Thames at Henley
The Thames at Henley
Here is Glenda with Judy and Teresa
Here is Glenda with Judy and Teresa
Lovely houses and Henley on Thames
Lovely houses and Henley on Thames
This place is right at the end of the bridge into town
This place is right at the end of the bridge into town
The map of Henley on Thames
The map of Henley on Thames
Fabulous houses
Fabulous houses
We went into an old antique shop that is filled to the brim!!! so to speak. This was a sign at the door.
We went into an old antique shop that is filled to the brim!!! so to speak. This was a sign at the door.
The gatehouse at George Harrisons place at Henley on Thames
The gatehouse at George Harrisons place at Henley on Thames

The first little village we came to is the village that Glenda is going to be celebrating Christmas in with her new found friends in England…and there is quite a sum of them! Approximately 27, mostly from New Zealand or Australia, will get together and have Christmas lunch and festivities together.

A lovely back garden with a stream flowing through
A lovely back garden with a stream flowing through
A lovely village with Glenda and Judy
A lovely village with Glenda and Judy
Our drive through trees as tunnels to the first villsge
Our drive through trees as tunnels to the first villsge
Lovely buildings. Very English!
Lovely buildings. Very English!

The next place was an amazing little village where ‘The Vicar of Dibley’ is filmed. We were able to even go in the little church and have a look inside, and then wander through the church grounds. In this village there is also a windmill that you can see on a hill nearby. ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ was filmed there.

There you go...a letter box and phone box together....and Judy posing for the photo :-)
There you go…a letter box and phone box together….and Judy posing for the photo πŸ™‚
More lovely houses at Turville
More lovely houses at Turville
Can you see the windmill in the background. 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang' was filmed there
Can you see the windmill in the background. ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ was filmed there
And inside the cute little church
And inside the cute little church
Us at the church doorway
Us at the church doorway
The 'Vicar of Dibley' church. Dawn French must love being filmed in this lovely little church.
The ‘Vicar of Dibley’ church. Dawn French must love being filmed in this lovely little church.
Turville village
Turville village
A lovely home in Turville
A lovely home in Turville
The Parish of Turville. Home of the filming of the Vicar od Dibley
The Parish of Turville. Home of the filming of the Vicar od Dibley

We carry on driving through some other little villages and find a quaint little pub for our lunch. We also saw lots of thatched roof places..I love them!

Look at this thatched roof!
Look at this thatched roof!
Another lovely little village and the church
Another lovely little village and the church
A Thatched roof on a house
A Thatched roof on a house
This is where we had our lovely lunch
This is where we had our lovely lunch
Isn't that cute!
Isn’t that cute!

Now…Judy and I have seen the rivers with the locks on them to move the boats from one level to another, but Teresa hadn’t seen anything like that at all. So that was our next place to go. The little place was so scenic we sat and watched lots of boats go through the gates, both directions. It was just a lovely peaceful and very rewarding afternoon.

A narrow boat going through the lock
A narrow boat going through the lock
We were watching the boats go through the locks from the bridge
We were watching the boats go through the locks from the bridge
We decided to sit down and relax...a very pleasant afternoon
We decided to sit down and relax…a very pleasant afternoon
The lock gate starting to open
The lock gate open at the other end, letting a boat into the lock.

We ended the day with a lovely meal together at a little pub about an hours drive from Henley. We got back to Glenda’s place in the dark and then Teresa bravely drove us back to Daniel and Marysia’s place. What a fabulous catch up with Glenda and a most perfect way to do it. Thank you my friend Glenda. Love you always…..mwah

Windlesham here we come!

Our Eurotunnel booking from Calais to Folkestone was for 8pm. So, we had all day to travel from Paris to Calais and it is only a three hour trip. And…we woke up to a beautiful morning in Paris. A little sleep in was in order, a nice leisurely breakfast, and we eventually check out if the Hotel at 11am. It was kind of a sad feeling to be leaving Paris. There is still so much more to see and explore and there is also the thought that I may never get to visit Paris ever again. But I am much luckier than some people, I have now been to Paris twice. I need to be more thankful! So we get out on the highway after doing a couple of circles around the Arc De Triomphe. Daniel says that you can’t drive through Paris without experiencing this amazing piece of roadway. Ahhhhh it’s just crazy. People just changing lanes and pulling out in front of you. Fun! We laughed all the way around…twice. What a memory! The decision was to get off the big motorways and drive through some local villages. Our lunch stop was Amiens, a town that has a cathedral that looks just like the Notre Dame. Same design and artwork! But this place was worn out and crumbling. Such a sad sight as in its glory days it would have looked marvelous. I guess if it was in Paris, it would have been fully restored.

Marysia outside the old Cathedral
Marysia outside the old Cathedral
Inside the Cathedral...at the entrance
Inside the Cathedral…at the entrance
Looks a little worse for wear
Looks a little worse for wear
Cathedral
Cathedral
Still is an amazing building
Still is an amazing building
Very much like Notre Dame
Very much like Notre Dame

We walked the length of the Main Street admiring the town and found a nice restaurant for lunch…outside seating to enjoy the beautiful sunshine. An hour later and we were still waiting for our food. I guess the chef had packed up all the lunch menu ingredients as it was nearly three o’clock. And when the food finally came it really looked like it had been thrown together in a hurry. I think they had forgotten out order! Our first bad dining experience, not bad for a month away!

statue at town on our way to Calais
statue at town on our way to Calais
On our way to get a late lunch
On our way to get a late lunch

We headed for the coast and although we couldn’t see the sea it was great to know that England was just across the shore and that was where we were heading. Arriving at Calais was a great feeling and getting in the queue to board the Eurotrain was exciting. We had crossed to England like this last year but Teresa hadn’t ever, and it was great to share this new experience with her. It only takes 35 minutes, but to think you are in a tunnel under the sea…and still sitting in you car…on a train carriage…makes it quite an adventure. Another great memory!

The Eurotunnel train diagram
The Eurotunnel train diagram
Border control and customs
Border control and customs
ready for the cars
ready for the cars
Traffic at Calais for the tunnel
Traffic at Calais for the tunnel
lining up for the Eurotunnel
lining up for the Eurotunnel

So after driving on Europe’s roads for nearly a month, we drive off the train and onto England’s soil. It’s a funny feeling but somehow you feel like you are home. My ancestors do come from England but that was a very long time ago. Robin was born here and he didn’t go to New Zealand until he was three years old. He still has lots of aunts, uncles and cousins in the Bournemouth, Poole area. We visited them the last two trips over. Sadly I won’t have time this trip. I must look up Dad’s side of the family sometime. The roads here are really wavy and as Daniel speeds along you almost feel like you are in a boat…although its bumpy as well. Daniel thinks its because when the roads were built, they never planned for the amount of traffic that actually uses the roads now, and to repair them would cause major traffic delays. And lots of complaints…so everyone just puts up with the roads like they are. We arrive at Daniel and Marysia’s place at eleven pm and Marysia cooks tea…bless her! It’s so nice to be ‘home’.

Windlesham and Windsor – Our final day in England!

We had a fabulous evening with Daniel and Marysia and a really good nights sleep. The plans for todayΒ were to do the walk through Windsor Park starting off at Virginia Waters, and then walk the long mile and end up at the Castle. We woke to a beautiful sunny and hot day. So pleased as it would have been less fun to walk it in the rain. We had planned for Glenda to get to Dan and Marysias place and we go together, but she got stuck in traffic and was running late. So the plan was changed and we met Glenda at the park.

The walk was great and along with the views we had plenty of time to chat and enjoy each others company. We arrived at Windsor Castle just after lunch time so we found a cafe and had lunch together. After lunch we walked down to the river and looked at the swans and the boats. Lots of families were at the river and surrounding parks because of the beautiful sunny day.

We had to catch the 6pm bus back to the gates to Virginia Waters and the Windsor walk entrance so there was time to have a coffee at a cafe near the Castle. We arrived back at Daniels around 6.45pm. Glenda was able to stay for tea so we all went to the local Indian restaurant and enjoyed our last meal together.

What a fabulous time we have had in England! Tomorrow morning at 6am we are off to Heathrow airport to catch our plane to Singapore. This certainly has been a full holiday! It’s hard to remember the details of our whole time away. I will be reading this blog to help jog the memories. Onto the next chapter of the holiday….

Bournemouth to Daniel and Marysias place

After a reasonable nights sleep we were up bright and early to get started on our big trip to Windlesham. We had so much planned. Our first stop was a little pub in Bournemouth for breakfast. We found a park on the sea front and were blessed with amazing views over the ocean. The sky was a beautiful blue and hardly any clouds and the sea was calm. Bournemouth has an amazing beach, and Poole even better. They just don’t get a long hot summer!

Len has family in Tiptoe, which is just north of Bournemouth and in the New Forest. New Forest is very different from other parts of England as it has lots of wide open spaces and also forestry areas. It also has animals roaming free all over. You see horses, deer and cows often and they are very near the road. We travelled through New Forest after having a lovely morning tea with Lens cousin and his wife.

We drove on to Salisbury to have a look through the Salisbury Cathedral. It is a great Cathedral to visit as the grounds are well kept and picturesque, and the Cathedral itself is very tall, big and interesting both on the outside and the inside. We took heaps of photos and decided to have lunch in their cafe as well.

The next place was a place that Judy needed to see. Stonehenge! Len, Robin and I had already seen it, but it was still good to visit again. Once again we took plenty of photos and the added bonus was that we got in free! We brought tickets to the English Heritage when we first left on our tour of England and they have well and truely paid for themselves.

From Stonehenge we had the biggest part of the journey, and that was to get to Henley on Thames to meet up with Glenda for tea. We were so pleased to get there as we were stuck on the motorway for ages as there had been a car accident. Henley on Thames is a beautiful town filled with historic buildings. Glendas place was one of them. We wandered through the town and along the river than had a lovely meal together.

The final part of the trip was to get to Daniel and Marysias at Windlesham. They have such a neat little place and it was so good o finally be with them again. We had a big catch up, had Daniel blow a candle on his belated birthday cake that Marysia had made him, had supper then went to bed. What a very long day…but a very good day as well.

The photos for today were loaded in yesterdays blog by mistake so that is where they will stay until I have time to fix them up. I hope you enjoy looking at them. We have seen some amazing sights!