You may think we’ve not been to many places in 2014, after all, we’ve been exploring London in minute detail since May, but 2014 saw us visit 10 countries in total. We were pretty busy.
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We’ve loved what we’ve done and it’s amazing to see the changes in the boys, physically, educationally and in every which way. They’re growing up fast and I get prouder and prouder of them every minute.
I’m putting this post together for them, their memory jogger of this time in our lives. We do this thing because of them and for them, we want them to grow up with well-rounded world views, an amazing education, choices, confidence in themselves and freedom.
It seems to be working out OK so far.
We spent New Year’s Eve in Cowbridge, not far from Cardiff, Wales. I think we just treated it as any other day and went to bed early, but Cowbridge is a gorgeous little town, the sort of place I could happily live. We spent time with old friends and the boys loved getting friendly with their dogs and cats.
We spent time exploring Cardiff and gorgeous Cardiff Bay, a Mecca for Doctor Who fans, along with the museums and stunning coastline of South Wales. Fellow Whovians will recognise this beach, it’s Southerndown, Bad Wolf Bay, where we found fossils newly fallen from the cliffs.
We had a week or so to pass between Wales and the start of our cruise, so we headed down to Bournemouth on England’s South Coast. We found a bargain hotel, holed up and enjoyed blustery seaside walks, huge full English breakfasts and a heated indoor pool. We had a wonderful time down there while I stressed about our first ever cruise.
At Poole harbour we followed a train of bubbles to a traditional sweet shop selling home-made Marmite fudge.
Cruise 1 on Norwegian Getaway
Wow, what a ship! We were on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York, a fantastic experience. Not much beats being in the middle of the Atlantic, in January, watching the ocean from a hot tub. We made lovely new friends and we hope our paths will cross again one day.
The boys owned the ropes course and the climbing wall and demolished their own body weights in food at every opportunity.
D developed an interest in magic after making friends with a professional magician, he still wants to learn the trade.
Hello Polar Vortex! Yes, it was cold, but it was OK. We were lucky enough to see Central Park in the snow and visit the New York Natural History Museum, one of our must-see destinations after the Night at The Museum movies.
From there we went visiting with the Amish in Pennsylvania and then, on a whim, took a side trip to Canada, because that’s just how we roll.
Only 3 days here, but we loved it, Canadians are just so nice! A frozen Niagara Falls is something not many people have seen and to my boys, new to snow, it was quite an experience. Those little black squirrels were so cute too.
Canada, we’ll be back!
We had to drop off our hire car in Florida, so we headed south,stopping at many and diverse towns along the way. Highlights for me would be New Orleans for Mardi Gras and Orlando. We love Florida, this was D’s 3rd visit, Boo’s 2nd. The Disney parks get better every time, this year was amazing with us all able to ride the biggest and best roller coasters.
We went back to Kennedy Space Centre for a second visit and were in the right place at the right time to see a real rocket launch.
We had to be out of Florida and we needed a cheap flight. El Salvador was cheapest, so that’s where we went. It turned out to be a great experience visiting the smallest town in Central America, roadside pupusas, a stunning modern church and the museum of Salvadorean history were highlights while we stayed in a family home with two little girls.
The boys experienced their first ever earthquake as we lay in bed on our first night in San Salvador and together we found our way in Spanish.
A month in Antigua was our first stop, we rented a cute little villa and just chilled, swam and got on with some school work. A great experience, but Antigua wasn’t really for us although we loved those huge Guatemalan buffet breakfasts from the hotel on the hill while volcanoes smoked around us.When we reached Lake Atitlan and gorgeous San Pedro Laguna we finally “got” the appeal of Guatemala, love at first site!
Roaming through the sub tropical rainforest, climbing Mayan pyramids and spotting wild coatis and spider monkeys was pretty cool too. Squashed tarantulas on the street were fairly common although we didn’t bump into any live ones.
Our ship was sailing from Florida so we had time to hire a car and round off our USA road trip by driving all the way down to Key West.
Cruise Ship 2 Norwegian Epic
She wasn’t as incredible as Getaway, we’d seen the best first, but she was still a fine ship. Another great Atlantic crossing. We finally got to try the ice bar while we lost our newly independent children to kids club. D was a karaoke demon with his team of female backing singers.
Only for 1 day, a cruise ship stop off, but Madeira was pretty and seeing these huge ships in tiny ports is incredible.
This is where Chef left his clothes on the balcony to dry, not realising that the exterior of the ship gets a hose down on port days. Our cabin was just near Boo’s hat there.
Time for me to show the boys one of my favourite places in the world, the Dali Museum in Figueres, Catalonia. Another great week and a lovely part of the world.
Lots of calamari and langoustines for the boys.
We could drive freely between France and Spain and we were almost on the border, so we visited for some French food and a different experience.
We found an octopus in a rock pool. We love molluscs.
Home, London. What a fantastic few months it’s been. I’m not making any secret of how much I love London or how much I long to return. But we can’t, so on we go.
We’ll take with us memories of museums, the South Bank, Paddingtons, Granny, Hamleys, a real cold Christmas, ice skating, wild deer and forest school. Add to that revisiting the house they were born in, our gorgeous little flat and new best friends and it’s been a fantastic experience. Just a shame that dad was always working.
We were blessed with the gift of a week in Umbria, Italy, a fantastic experience and my first real blogging job. We loved Umbria and made new friends of all ages, from all over the world.
D was fabulous with the little ones, reading them stories and generally being their hero. I was very proud of him and very proud of how they both kept the homeschooling side up with their sparkyness and knowledge.
The truth is, we still don’t know.
We planned on heading to Sri Lanka again, then India and Nepal, but another opportunity has come up and things still aren’t decided.
I’ll let you know as soon as we hear.
Whatever we do it will be an exciting year. We won’t have much cash to leave with this time, saving in London has been incredibly tough, but we should have enough for another 6 months on the road.
D is keen to see India, Boo just wants to be somewhere with buffets. They’re both eating like famished teenagers already.
So watch this space, next year will be a surprise to all of us.
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