Monthly Archives: June 2013

Have wheels, will travel…..

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Our new car!
Yes, the leg is healing and the north is calling us.  With borrowed tents and bedding we are off to wilder places.

Andy has been great searching, buying, collecting and fixing up our new Ford Fiesta.  He has worked for the Subaru World Rally team and even worked with Possum Bourne when they were in NZ.  I am so grateful to him for putting in so much time, it has made it all so easy for us.
Leaving here is hard and only possible knowing that we will return in August.

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It has been so lovely living with our cousins. They have just been so generous slotting us into their busy lives.  We have had evenings out walking, kicking a ball about, wandering around the village of NorthLeach.
Ollie visited the local Scout group too and had a ball.

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Ella  and Charlie share a love of animals….

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We so look forward to returning.  Thanks for everything.

Meanwhile, lakes and mountains will draw us up the M5 and M6 tomorrow as I get to realise a long held dream and we go to the Lake District…

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Friends, Romans, countrymen….

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Here he is….

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And again….

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Yes, Will Shakespeare himself.
I have spent a blissful day being a tourist, a real tourist in Stratford-upon-Avon. And I was alone.  (!!!)
(Did you know Avon just means River, and there are 9 “Avons”  in England?)

It reminded me of Bulls in NZ where the town has unashamedly used bad puns to cash on on the name, eg the police station is Consta-Bull, Church is Forgive-a-bull.

Similarities with Bulls end right there.
Stratford is a beautiful old market town, with the river running through it and the most gorgeous long boats drifting along passing through the many locks.

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See what I mean about many…?

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I can feel a canal boat holiday coming on…

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Obviously there are pubs, shop names, boat names like this making the most of the world most famous writer…. but the best  I heard was a sign in the window of a camping shop during a winter sale –
“This is the winter of our discounted tents….”

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I did a two hour walking tour of Stratford which was heavenly.  Being a tourist and just being told things and guided around while in such a historic place and in great company…perfect.   It made a change from being self guided and reading up in advance, just wallowing in someone elses knowledge, experience and humour…

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This is the curse on William Shkespears’ grave.  He was a wealthy man and paid to have an under floor plot right up the front of the church.

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Picturesque as ever…as our guide said this spot encapsulates all that is truly English…the river, the trees, the Church steeple and across the road….the pub!

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I visited the birthplace of WS.  Here a guide gives a witty commentary on life back then and details from daily life.

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Outside we were treated to perfomances of scenes from any of Shakespeare’s plays, as requested by anyone who cared to.  These three versatile actors chnaged characters and plays fluidly for our entertainment and they sang too.

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This, the birthplace, is one of 5 houses linked to the great Bard in the town. Plus three theatres and other properties nearby. Don’t forget all the pubs, shops, boat trips and many green and pleasant places to sprawl out in the sun along the river bank.

Who ever said holidaying was relaxing?

Those Romans

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They really got around those Romans…
Here we are in thick Cotswold countryside and what do you know… there is a Roman villa – think huge country house for the upper class – tucked away.
Chedworth Villa is a well visited Roman ruin very near to North Leach.
We really enjoyed the scale of it – just one large dwelling, which meant we could read and see everything without it all being too overwhelming.

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There were two main bathing rooms all with  cold plunge pools, hot pools steam rooms and even a hair plucking area…

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The floors in the best preserved rooms were all made from thousands of tiny square, coloured tiles.   Excavation was in progress.

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There were some very modern and very Pacific looking patterns on the floors too.

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It was a lovely warm day and very enjoyable to wander around the ruins.\

Vicki kindly took time off work to hang out with us and in return we gave her the travel bug…

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Charlie enjoyed  working out what each room had been used for and how they all connected together.  There was an extensive  heating system throughout.  Stoke holes outside the buildings linked into underfloor, wall and even ceiling vents that piped the hot air around as well as heating the water for the baths.

Why did the Roman way of bathing never catch on in England after they left I wonder…It reminded me of the Turkish Hamans.

What I find fascinating too is how when the empire crumbled, this villa was deserted and then left to fall into ruin until discovered by the Victorians….hundreds of years later!
It is just 3 miles from a major Roman road,(one still in use today – The Fosse Way – dead straight for miles and miles) yet no one discovered , or continued to use this place complete with gardens, baths and even glass windows!

Amazing.

Cotswolds and cousins

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Ahhh the gentle English countryside….

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Here we are in deepest rural Cotswolds.  It is bliss to to be surrounded by dry stone walls, cute stone cottagesand  narrow country lanes.

We are staying in North Leach with my lovely cousin and family.  Not only are they travellers themselves but “Kiwiphiles”.   It is comforting  to spot photos of us tramping in NZ on their walls and little momentos of NZ around the place.

The village they live in is adorable.  And when walking  there is another village every ten minutes.  It reminds me of home in that they can walk around to everything, know everyone and have a strong sense of community.
It is so very English though….

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Good old fashioned sweet shop in Bourton-on-the-water.

I love being a tourist so Bourton-on-the water is the classic Cotswold experience.  Gorgeous!

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Lower Slaughter….we wondered if there had been a mass murder here or just many butcher shops…

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Beautiful fields of Rapeseed ( I have heard they are changing the name).  The little walkways are everywhere and you can cut through fields.

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The landscape here is very gentle.  I could happily wander around for weeks on end.

One day I plan to.

Best foot forward

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After a ten day sabatical from the rigours of travelling my right foot is itching to be on the road again…and I think it will be  OK to be pushing an acelerator even.

We have been well looked after, cossetted, loved and tended to  while my infection slowly heals.  After being so far away from extended family for so long this was just the perfect excuse to have quality time with some of them.

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We chose this date to arrive in London because  the Trooping of the Colour was on, so in my pained state we made it up and were a part of all the pomp and excitement.

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We were too late to get front row view but Charlie got a lift on someones shoulders and took some great photos….

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We got a clear view of the whole family out on the balcony.   I hope they enjoyed the 21 gun salute and fly-over as much as the boys did!

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While in London the boys were well loooked after.  They were taken out walking, picking strawberries and  deer spotting in Richmond Park.

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Our lovely hostess, Ruth made us so welcome in Wimbledon and  looked after us so gently. Making pizzas with the boys here.

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Because of my leg we changed our plans and I was happy to be looked after by my wonderful Aunt and Uncle who swept us off down to Devon for a bonus few days of beachside recovery..

One of the biggest treats has been to spend extra time with my Grandmother.

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This involves bananagrams and always cups of tea and eating…Perfect convalescence activities.

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Plus being by the sea is a balm.  We had a gorgeous sunset and managed a walk to check out such classical English scenes as these beach huts.

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Charlie’s canine devotion has been transferred to Quiddy, Haze and Dave’s beautiful red labrador who will be our UK dog to walk and play with….

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This first week or so in the UK has been different to what I planned and also so lovely.  Having to stop, rest and heal has meant  spending bonus time with our family here…and for that I am truly grateful.

Blighty beckons

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It was so very exciting to fly in to England last week. To see the Thames snaking her way below, various landmarks appearing between the clouds.
I was surpirsed how wonderful it was to get on the tube and find an Evening Standard there.  I hadn’t realised how much I had missed reading…in English.

Apart from a wonderful day catching up with family, a visit to the theatre and a super quick trip to see The Trooping of the Colour, I have been enjoying an alternative experience to the regular tourist attractions.
St Georges Hospital (Tooting) has become my second home this last few days.
I feel as though I am in a TV drama although not sure why as I am very unfamiliar with both TV and hospitals.
Nothing life threatening, an infection which started as a blister on my leg  in Switzerland and turned into a boil.  An out-of-control, severly infected one at that.
Long story short (I am getting queasy just talking about it) walking is painful, wearing trousers is painful, standing is painful.
Lying in bed being fed strawberries, reading or watching movies…well that seems to be ok….
The extremely friendly and wonderful Doctors have given me three days of TLC and there is still more to come, hopefully just one day more.

It has been a strange sort of welcome to my country of birth, but no doubt my body was needing a well deserved rest after 6 weeks of ushering 3 offspring around Turkey. Holidays can be very tiring after all.

So I am feeling very spoiled and looked after by a small army of guardian angels here (and Guardian-reading angels….oh English newspapers!).
I am so lucky as this is exactly the right place to be.
And what a chance for me to practice patience (I am trying not to peek too much into the teetering pile of UK guidebooks by my bed and to start planning various trips….).
And flexibility.
And trust.

So much more than a boil really and for that I am truly grateful.

Impressions of Switzerland

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Impressions of Switzerland

All my time in Switzerland I have been humming tunes from a certain movie about mountains and nuns…. actually set in Austria, but I guess it is close enough to make one think of your favourite things….
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Like all the flags…

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Not sleigh bells but cow bells…and yes we had crisp apple strudel

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The neatly stacked wood piles everywhere, cut to regulation size would make Wayne swoon…

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Another one of my favourite things, those dinky fireplaces everywhere…

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High on a hill is a….

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Walensee, a picturesque Lake where we cruised, walked to  a spectacular water fall, ate cheese and chocolate.

 

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The rule of thimb is that Fondue is really a dish for cold wet weather, so a cooler day was welcomed and we were treated to this national dish.

 

 

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The wonderba family Wehrli!
Danke SO much for having us (excuse the Germ-ish). It was so amazing to be incorporated into your lives and we loved living with you in your gorgeous home.  Thanks for being family to all of us and continuing to be Hannah’s…
If you guys epitomise the Swiss…what’s not to like?

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So long, farewell auf wiedersehen, goodbye….