the rambles of a family of five in Australia


What we get up to when left to our own devices…

Here is a random collection of photos that illustrates our life at the moment.
Snuggles with Suzannah…we love that she is still small enough to fall asleep when she is tired, no matter where she is!

Playtime on ‘Suzy’s play mat’ – Ewan loves it just as much as Suzy does!

Our mischievous minx.

Storytime with Daddy

Suzannah’s nursery corner. Ewan had a whole room, Suzy has a corner… if we have a third, maybe we can whittle it down to a shoebox! (Or a Harry Potter cupboard under the stairs…?)

Of all H’s scarves, this is E’s favourite.

Dad and E on top of Bury Mount in Towcester – one of the old Roman sites.

Suzy, practicing a salute, while sleeping!

All of a sudden the house went very quiet, and there E was, reading! A win for Mummy!

Cousin Matt and E, sleeping on the way home from Blenheim Palace.

A new and exciting way to suck your fingers…
Asleep in the rocking swing and oh-so-lovely.


In her pretty summer dress during the Heatwave on Sunday (32C)!

All dressed up and ready to head out to Bible Study on Monday morning.

We nearly sprayed it with RoundUp…but we’re glad we didn’t!

There were more raspberries in this shot only moments before it was taken, but then E ate them!

A poppy growing up on our heap of grass clippings

Mr E is pleased to have Mummy’s lap to himself for once!
Suzy looking very swish in her outfit from Aunty G in Australia
Those eyes, that hair, who wouldn’t want to be her!

Pirate Ewan, off to his first fancy-dress party after preschool.

Beautiful Suze, reposing in the buggy.

E, playing on the swings while visiting friends in Whaddon.

E and H in Salcey Forest.

E, R and a hidden S in Salcey Forest. We were looking for the treetop walk.

Salcey Forest – on the lowest part of the treetop walk.

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Popping over to the Palace…a summer’s day jamboree

The North view of Blenheim Palace

 For those of you not living in the UK, last Friday (3 June) we experienced a heatwave. It was officially (on Radio 4!) 23C in Oxfordshire, but our car temperature in the shade showed 31C – so it gives you some idea of how warm we felt. Because we did. Feel warm, that is. In fact, we were so warm that R even took off his ever-present long-sleeves and basked in the sunshine. H & E managed to straddle the fine line between tanning and burning, and S wasn’t affected at all due to being encased in the trusty Phil & Ted’s cocoon all day.

The Palace and the Italian Garden

We took advantage of the glorious weather and went to Blenheim Palace for the day. It is the ancestral home of the Dukes of Marlborough and where Winston Churchill spent much of his childhood. So on this lovely Friday, in honour of Matt’s stay and (very) impending departure home to Aus, R took the day off work and we all traipsed off to Woodstock (which is the nearest town to the Palace.)

The fountains – E adored them.

I should explain that such an excursion would never have been contemplated when E was nearly 6 weeks old. H could barely leave the house before 11am then, and would’ve spent the whole of the proposed outine sitting in the nearest mother’s room, feeding E. But with two children and not much sleep we decided to dust off the camera and put ourselves out there, so to speak.

This is where we unpacked our Tesco lunch and feasted!

We were out the door by 9:15 (thanks to S’s early morning schedule) and having made a quick stop at Tesco to stock up on bottled water, elderflower cordial, pre-cut sandwiches and chocolate, we were off! (Matt later admitted that he thought we were nuts for attempting an English Country House with E and S, and to some extent we can see why!) But we have decided that the best way to approach life with two kids is with low expectations… assume the worst: parking will be impossible; it’ll rain whenever you attempt to spend time outdoors; nappies will be less-than-leakproof; toddlers (and their parents) will be cranky; there will be nowhere to nurse your baby discreetly; pram access will be horrendous; and the coffee will taste like dishwater. If you take the previous list as a given then it is usually not quite that bad, which means you actually have a better time than you thought!

E – on the wrong side of the fence, as usual.

In our defense (and with thanks to the goodness of God) our day at Blenheim was splendiferous!

  • We arrived early and parked reasonably close to the entrance.
  • The sun was shining (and continued to do so all day), birds were singing and we were upbeat.

    A view of the Lake. On the day following our visit the Blenheim Triathlon was held and we saw them punting about setting up the marker buoys.
  • We brought our own lunch – thereby avoiding queues for food. (Admittedly, the food looked far nicer than the equivalent fare on an Australian sightseeing day out, but this is probably because in the UK the food has to make up for the weather…!)
  • Blenheim Palace surpassed any expectations we had about grandeur, so it was amazing to wander around, being able to be overawed without feeling foolish.

    The scaffolding in the distance intrigued E and its siren call sounded all afternoon…
  • There was nowhere discreet to nurse Suzy, but H sat in the lee of some scaffolding on the South Staircase and watched the clouds roll past. All the workmen who had to come past (scaffolding should’ve been a clue, right?!) were very polite and not at all fazed. It’s not everyone who can look back in life and say that they breastfed their daughter on the steps of Blenheim Palace, after all…
  • The gardens were a delight.

    The Rose Garden
  • E was cheerful and ran around excitedly all day. (He particularly enjoyed upending the ‘Keep Off The Grass’ notices…)

    R & E overlooking the Cascades. Landscaped by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown.
  • Lunch was delicious as only open-air lunches can be, and the coffee, while not the best (this IS England) was hot and creamy, which is enough, when the rest of the day is sublime.

    A nice hill to race down with the pram…
  • Suzy slept the entire time we were out, except for two nursing sessions spaced evenly through the day, and some fussing in the car on the way home. So R & H managed to feel vaguely human and touristy, which was a great blessing.

    After puffing up the hill we reached the blessed shade. Our skins are adapting to English climes…
  • To top it all off, we converted our day passes into Annual Passes for no extra charge, which means we can return to the Palace, Park and Gardens any day we like for 12 months. Not bad, eh?

The one downside was that we didn’t get to do everything we wanted… we didn’t get to walk through the Palace, or the Marlborough Maze, or play in the Adventure playground; see the Butterfly House or play Giant Draughts or Chess. Never mind, we’ll be back, because in August there’s a Jousting Tournament AND a Classic Car Show. Yay! There are also lots of things to do around Christmastime, which is right around a projected family visit – so hopefully by then we will have lots of suggestions about what is best to do in a day at Blenheim Palace.

Our little gardener, and Daddy’s shadow.

Note: When walking through the Gift Shop on your way out, it is probably best not to execute racing turns with the Phil & Ted’s buggy, thus tipping your unsecured two-year-old into the counter, with a nice carpet-burn souvenir to remind him of a great day out…!