the rambles of a family of five in Australia


mr e’s adventures

‘This might look awkward, but it’s so much easier than holding the beaker, Mum.’

‘I like to cook my own breakfast – at least that way it’s done properly…’

‘Daddy and I have a lot of work to get through and if you keep taking photos I won’t be able to concentrate, Mum.’

‘No matter how early I leave in the mornings, there’s always traffic…’

‘People told me it might be easier on a bike. What were they thinking?’
‘Possibly a bodyguard/traffic cop could help with my commute?’
‘Where’s the NRMA when you need them?’
‘This replacement from the garage isn’t half bad – there’s even room for a passenger!’
‘Daddy and I have to work together to get through our list of chores.’

‘Hey, how’d I get stuck doing this all by myself?’

‘This screwdriver isn’t a Phillips head…’
‘They think they’re so funny. But I’m only a little kid.’

The comraderie of the open road.

‘Time to sort the garden out.’

‘If I don’t check them, anything might slip through. You’ve got to keep an eye on your staff, you know.’

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time for a fire

One of the most amazing things we experience, living where we do, is to be surrounded by unfamiliar birds, animals and plants.

Only this week we have watched water buffalo bathing in the lake; stags clashing antlers (as the breeding season gets underway); smaller deer pronking (jumping along on all four legs at the same time); 200-300 wild geese wheeling in an extended ‘V’ formation as they prepare for migration; squirrels scrambling up and down the beech trees as they prepare their hoards for winter; pheasants and partridges feeding on our driveway; a sparrowhawk dragging a pigeon off for lunch after a quick, neat kill; and dozens of different birds thronging our bird table.

We’ve also seen walnuts and chestnuts ripe for the harvesting on various trees on the estate; apples growing wild so bountifully that the ground around them was littered with windfalls; little red-yellow crab apples; huge cooking Bramleys and all sorts of plums ready to be picked by the score.

E harvests our raspberries as often as he can get away with it – and is receiving lessons in sharing as a result. This is a wonderful place for a child to spend time in, and we are enjoying ourselves enormously.

We won’t mention how cold it is already, and the frequent rain, which is creating opportunities to wash more often! We’ll just leave you with a picture of our first coal-fire and the assurance that we are spending as much time as possible in front of it!

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woburn abbey

Woburn Abbey – our first view

Once upon a gorgeous weekend, we decided to take in some history and culture at Woburn Abbey – the country home of the Duke of Bedford. We had our good friend K with us, a packed lunch of sandwiches, brownies (we ate far too many that weekend) and apples, as well as a mountain of clothing in case it turned chilly – it did.

Crossing a bridge on our way to the Abbey

Woburn Abbey is in Bedfordshire (or as the English write it, Beds.) about 20 minutes from where we are. We had been told that the wealth displayed would boggle our minds, and that the Safari Park was worth a look. Not having inexhaustible wealth ourselves, we chose to stick to the Abbey and Gardens, leaving the safari park (possibly) for another time.

The tranquil grounds – a deer park through which we drove

Despite the warnings about the wealth we would see, we initially mistook the stable block (which was very large) for the Abbey… duffers. Once the house itself hove into view, we realised our mistake. The drive from the entry gates through the grounds and up to the house is two miles long – with lots of rolling scenery to admire.

Another view of the Abbey as we head toward the parking area…

The house complex is enormous – big enough for the house to be open all year round (the state rooms etc) a separate part to be used for functions, and the main bulk given over to the family’s private residence.

R, E & K before entering the house – note the absent pram.

Yes, the wealth boggled our minds – a room full of Tintoretto paintings of Venice, enough silver to plate everything we own (here and in Aus) twice over, including both actual houses!; china – given by Kings and Princes etcetera. No photos were allowed, but truly they wouldn’t have done the house justice, so you should really go yourself.

E enjoying himself outside.

One of the interesting things we learnt was the the Earl of Bedford received a Duchy posthumously as an apology for being wrongly accused (and beheaded) for being a traitor. We think we’d rather just have the earldom, and our lives, thanks!

Part of the gardens – undergoing refurbishment  – we thought it looked pretty wonderful as is.

We ate lunch in the gardens with some very forward ducks; and took a stroll around – taking in the statuary and beautiful plants and flowers.

The ‘Bog’ Garden – it really looked more like a desert than a bog, but anyway.
The creepiest sculpture we saw all day.

Part of the lovely flower garden.

All in all – a lovely day.

H’s favourite sculpture.


magnificent cambridge, we adore you

One of the views of Kings’ College, from the main st.

We jaunted to Oxford, but we progressed toward Cambridge. This difference was borne out throughout our whole day there -and admittedly we’ve so far only had one – and led to us having quite a different experience than when in Oxford.

Kings’ College

Cambridge is on an altogether different scale to Oxford: taller towers, larger colleges and a bigger area around which to walk. The river Cam defines Cambridge in a way that the Cherwell and Thames do not (to our minds at least) define Oxford. We love Oxford, but were awed and delighted by Cambridge.

R & E inside Christ College

We managed to take walks inside some of the colleges on our stay – seeing rooms with nameplates and gardens for Fellows and grass that was not to be sullied by traipsing feet.

Punting on the Cam

 We had lunch in a field beside the river (next to some wild roaming cows) and watched students, tourists and even a bridal couple punting along – it was hilarious.

Our favourite riverside house – if you look closely you can see the reeds and water.

We are wild to get inside Kings’ College next time, as well as to wander around the covered market and up and down the streets we missed. This trip really was more of a reconnaissance than a proper tour.

Two of the Door Guardians of Christ College – facing each other across the open door.

E seemed to really enjoy himself by the river – ingratiating himself into another family with a little girl (who was disconcerted by his boldness) and generally creating a stir amongst the students. A lovely Swiss girl told us that he was beautiful, and who are we to argue with that?

Yes, they are very cute socks…