Monthly Archives: March 2018

London Travel Tips from a Non-Londoner

It can take a bit of adjustment, but the London public transport system is fantastic. (Okay, so I’m comparing it to some cities where we did not have positive impressions of their undergrounds, but still – it’s relatively clean, well organized, and you can find attendants!) 🙂

There are options for visitor passes (Travelcards), but we’ve always found the Oyster card to be a better deal for us. Here are some links to see all they have to offer: Continue reading

London for Kids by Emy – Museums

Disclaimer, E was asked what she wanted to share about London and she said LONDON FOR KIDS but she wants you to know that she’s a “strange child” (her words, not mine!) so take her advice with a grain of salt. 😀

Whenever I’m in London I like to go to museums. Some of my favorites are: the V&A (Victoria and Albert), the Natural History, the Science Museum, and the National Art Gallery.

The V&A has lots and lots of art to appeal to everyone. They have paintings from the medieval era, the renaissance, and Georgian miniatures. They also had lots of Roman and Greek statues. There was a hallway filled with ironwork, custom made banisters, window frames, and balconies.

The Natural History has lots of cool stuff, but if you have little kids who are a bit squeamish you shouldn’t take them. It’s full of stuffed animals, not the kind you can cuddle, it gave me nightmares.

The Science Museum has all kinds of hands on stuff for kids, sometimes they have new exhibit. In the basement they have a little kids play area.

(Heidi insert – the V&A, Natural History, and Science museums are all literally across the street from each other, but each one you could spend an entire day in separately. So good luck picking! Back to Emy…)

The National Art Gallery had some Van Gogh, that’s the most memorable part for me. Continue reading

London Day – Harry Potter Version

* Disclaimer, you need a second day in London to see the WB Studio Tour as it really is an all day thing. The studio is on the outskirts of London, you can take the underground out to Euston but then switch to the overground to get to Watford Junction (about 40 minutes from central London), then hop off and catch the shuttle bus (every 20 minutes, takes 15 minutes, does have a fee and I cannot remember if they take cards or you need cash.) Make a day for that if you’ve got any hardcore fans with you! They do have family tickets, which can save you a bit. The shop at the end of the tour is HUGE, and if you arrive early you can go in there to browse. You are given a set “tour” time that’s not flexible, but once you get past that initial bit then you are free to explore the rest, which is self guided, until they close. (They said they do have people stay for the entire day and they have to kick them out at closing.) Continue reading

Kids’ Activities in the UK

Because the kids aren’t in a traditional school, we can’t answer as to how most kids have extracurricular activities with school. C is starting at a new program and they told us that Tuesday is their extracurricular day… that kids can stay after for clubs for an hour to participate, which is not how it’s done stateside (with things like band or sports happening every day!) But there are community based activities like scouts, martial arts, dance, football clubs, park runs, etc. Within the home ed community there’s a TON happening – rock climbing, ice or roller skating, forest schools, National Trust hikes, cooking or art or science or robotics clubs – basically everything under the sun.

Some stuff our kids have done since we moved here, as typed by J:

– cooking club
– science fairs
– forest school
– ice skating
– National Trust meet ups
– drama for E
– roller skating for Mo
– D OF E FOR C
– park run
– boys brigade for J
– girl guides for MO AND E
– crochet club
– board game club
– ballet FOR O
– CLIMBING
– BORED FOR J

Okay, he quit now. 😀 O wants a turn

– windmill so fun funny…
– forest club
– scooter fun funny…

Mo says it’s the trips that she loves most as extracurricular activities – daytrips around the area to the abbeys, overnight trips to places like Dover, and the bigger trips to Paris or Athens.

Though admittedly, we’re an oddball bunch because we’re not attending a community public school. The kids are able to do activities during the standard school day (like field trips to watch them make pizza at a cafe in city centre, or touring the local fire station, or the chocolate factory up the road.) There are still weekly clubs and sports and such, but those are in the evenings or weekends.

Bavaria Trip(s)

Because I lived in Ansbach for four years as a kid we focused around that area when we made our visit in 2017, but there’s so much to explore every direction! We rented an AirBnB house in a tiny village that was central to most of the spots we wanted to visit – it was a lovely house and a sweet, friendly little town. There wasn’t a grocery store in town, but you’ll need to rent a car in this area and there are shops in the nearby towns. We spent a few days in three different spots (Heidelberg, Salzburg, Ansbach area) but Bavaria won their hearts so we plan to return there in spring 2019 for some more exploring.

By far the kids’ favorite part was the swimbads, we found one in each place we stayed. Second was the hauptstrasses in the various cities/towns, and stopping to get pretzels and treats at the bakeries. Third was the residences and castles. Here are some links of the various spots they’re saying they loved best:

Ansbach Residence & be sure to visit the Orangerie gardens, too.

Aquella – My local swimbad as a kid!

Nurnburg Castle – Despite living nearby for years, I’ve not actually visited this spot yet!

Wurzburg Residence (I’ve not taken the kids there yet, but I loved it and went several times as a kid and will take them next trip.)

Rothenburg ob der Tauber – Our kids could happily have spent all day long wandering this town! They loved walking through the walls and market square, and there’s a playground with a great view and good picnic spot just outside the walls.

Berchestgaden Salt Mines – Buy your tickets online in advance! And if you’re coming from Germany you’ll go through the edge of Austria – buy your road pass for the tolls at a gas station in advance or you’ll get a fine as soon as you cross onto the Austrian roads.

Salzburg if you’re already down that far south, it’s a lovely city for walking around and there are spots to picnic in the garden if you’re a Sound of Music Fan. 🙂

Herren Chiemsee Island & Residence – Between the ferry ride, horse drawn carriage ride up to the palace, gorgeous fountains & palace tour, this day was magical!

Best Foods Thus Far

* Heidi says the croissants from this bakery in Paris, which were like a toffee/nut/chocolate something? They were AMAZING, like I ate one and immediately walked back to the shop for a second one and we’re already planning to go there for breakfast every morning when we visit Paris again.

* And also H, curry. I’ve eaten some of the most fantastic, spicy, amazing, delicious curries here. I had curry before, but the variety here has me hooked. Continue reading

UK vs. US Questions Part One

I asked friends for questions about the UK for my kids to answer as part of their writing work. When they were shouting out responses in rapid fire I typed those, but then I had the kids take over writing for themselves. 🙂

* Popular dishes? Are the stereotypical British foods that we hear about here (in the US) actually popular?

The oldest two are on campus down in city centre and go out for lunch with friends most days. They say NOT fish and chips. It’s offered at places everywhere, but the teens don’t all like it. (Disclaimer – they love the chips! Not the fish so much.) Their friends often pick up convenience foods from the little shops and grocers, like ready made sandwiches. KFC & McDonalds are BIG here, as are Subway and Burger King. Jacket potatoes from the cafeteria or there are jacket potato food trucks. Sausage rolls from the bakeries are big – something like an american breakfast sausage but bigger, like a bratwurst, wrapped in puff pastry. Adult insert – curries are huge for take away. There are several “tortilla” restaurants down in the city, but they call them wraps instead of tortillas and are varying degrees of good. There are also Greek, Thai, ramen shops, Jamaican, Chinese but not as many as the curry places. Continue reading

SPRING!!

Okay… the sun is back, I walked around without a coat today, the flowers are blooming (though that started in January. I do love that the bulbs start popping up so early, this tantalizing reminder that spring is coming.) I can feel my brain recovering from the winter hibernation.

Over the winter I was gone four weeks, two in Nov/Dec and two in February, to help my sister with her newborn twins in Colorado. Having the back and forth, stateside to UK, made the contrast more apparent… that the US doesn’t feel like “home” in the same way. I think it made returning to England feel different, more settled, less like a guest in a foreign country. Continue reading

Family Photos 2018

Oh, the story behind trying to find a photographer here has been long and challenging… but worth it, because we found & fell in love with Magda’s work and love every photo she captured for us. Kit picked the spot (Newstead Abbey) as our family has spent many days happily exploring up there, and it’s gorgeous anytime of year. Here you go… my sweet people. (Click on thumbnails to see the larger images.) If you’re local here’s our delightful photographer, MagdaK.