the rambles of a family of five in Australia


Nous arrivons a Paris!

We are in Paris, hurrah!

We caught the Eurostar from St. Pancras International last Thursday and it was quite painless compared to the pfaffing that seems to go along with flying anywhere these days. It helped that S seems to be an accomplished flirt and that all admin duties were being handled by men. Our apartement is in the 10th arrondissement, very close to Gare du Nord and Gare de l’Est and within 30 metres of the Canal St. Martin – a lovely place to amble slowly along.

Amble? You ask? Why amble? Well, because although so far this sounds like a lovely family bit of R&R, we have had a vomiting bug since last Monday (yes folks, we’re heading into the second week!) and ambling is about the fastest we feel we can manage. So no, we’ve not really done any sightseeing or taken any photos or anything you might recognise as quintessentially French. We have, however, spent a lot of time in our apartement resting; some time ambling along the waterside; sitting in one or another of the parks in this neighborhood, watching E burn off some of his slowly returning joie de vivre, and shopping for basic food supplies in the local franprix – where the staff kindly assure H that her French is excellent. It’s not, but flattery makes her return, so they are getting something for nothing!

Some blessings:
Le Pain (The bread)
R was astonished that although H had been talking it up for nearly 8 years, she hadn’t exaggerated about how good it was or how unlike every horrible “French stick” you’ve ever choked down in Australia it actually was.

Le cafe
Since being able to be out and about in public, it has been lovely to drop casually into any of the numerous cafes that line the streets near our apartment and have a coffee. Coffee here is uniformly excellent, if pricey. R concedes that if he lived in France he would drink coffee too! Our usual order is: Deux cafes; ou un cafe et une chocolate chaud, un jus d’orange (pour E) et une tartine avec confiture. It’s lovely to have a holiday ritual, and in the absence of sightseeing it is nice to be doing something social as a family.

Les Francais (The French)
Once again we are bemused by how those “arrogant French” rumours get started. We have experienced nothing but charm and courtesy, and H realised yet again how civility seems to be the defining characteristic of French life. One example. As we staggered home on Friday afternoon with the buggy and an unhappily walking E, four venerable Ladies emerged from an inner courtyard and sashayed very slowly – even more slowly than us! – along the footpath. One turned her head slightly, saw us, shooed the others to one side and exhorted us “Allez-y, ma belles!” It might surprise you to learn that we aren’t customarily addressed as “lovely ones” even by those who love us best, so it was a feel-good moment and an example of superb manners on the part of those who have certainly earned the right to keep younger generations waiting.

The weather. Blue skies, short showers, puffy white clouds, sunshine;heavy showers. 

Thank you to all who have prayed for us. Sorry there are no photos here but we thought the update was worth the lack of pretty pictures. And you don’t really want pictures of our trip so far.
Promise. 😉

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The Adventures of E and S in England and Wales

Happy New Year, everyone!

The first unwrapping. E is extremely proficient now!

Making cinnamon cookies and gingerbread with G & P. We were VERY tired at the end of this biscuit extravaganza.
Christmas morning – pre unwrapping. E is keen, S just wanted milk and a cuddle.

“Look at me with Mummy’s ceramic rolling pin!”

Our little musician.

A shepherd for the Nativity play.

“I love the smell of cereal in the morning.”

This photo will make sense when you see what she was looking at, below.

See, you’re making that face now too, right?
Eyeing a BIG puddle on one of our walks.

A bracing, but sunny walk, pre-festive season.

Suze, MUCH earlier in the year, not long after we arrived home from hospital.

Standing for a photo was much too tiring.
E at Blenheim in May, contemplating the water garden.

No one could tell he was Australian in this hat.

At Stowe, on a very grey day in June.

The wind was gusting, the gothic folly was behind us, and H officially LOVED Stowe.

R and the poppets on the clifftop at Rhossili.
A bit of sibling tenderness.

E giving the trim trail at Willen a workout.

This is Suzy’s way of signalling that it’s bedtime. We LOVE this system. And how cute she is.

Believe it or not, the mohawk is naturally occurring. We try to flatten it and it returns to this within half an hour.

Cliveden in the autumn with our Tuesday Expedition Leaders.

Suzy at Blenheim, chatting away in the back of the Phil & Ted’s.

Now that S can sit unaided, playtime is much more fun.

E + pretzel = walrus

S with Ellen the elephant – one of two indispensible sleep companions.


fun things to do on a Saturday when it’s fine

Enjoying some family time at Stoke Bruerne

Lately we have been enjoying getting out and about in the English countryside on a Saturday – trying to make the most of the glorious weather and the freedom that having a toddler (as opposed to a baby!) brings.

A view from the Blisworth Tunnel down toward Stoke Bruerne

We have been going for walks in our local area – discovering rivers, meadows, waterfowl and the famous MK redways. We have also returned to familiar haunts – one of our favourites of which is Stoke Bruerne – home to the Canal Museum and about nine locks inside a kilometre – so lots of activity to watch when the narrow boats make their way up the river.

Narrowboats moored at SB

One of the most frustrating things about winter weather here is the lack of opportunity to get outside and take some exercise – particularly for R as it gets dark at 4pm and is usually bitterly cold. H & E can generally get out – even to wander round Midsummer Place and get some indoor exercise – but R doesn’t have their moments of leisure. So spring weather and light have been a real blessing and given us all some time to be together outside in the fresh air – rather than cooped inside.

E wouldn’t get on this horse, but consented to ride in the cart!

E loves waterfowl of all kinds – particularly the interactive swans at SB…
One of our favourite places to take friends for lunch – The Boat Inn.
One of the rides on Wakefield
A country lane in spring – just past Stony Stratford
…when all at once I saw a crowd, a host of golden daffodils…
The Ouse River Walk (pronounced ‘ooze’)
H @ 36 weeks and 4 days…!

So rest assured, if you decide to come for a visit in fine weather there is plenty to occupy you and we will delight in taking you for all our favourite local walks. If you come in winter, you too can huddle under blankets, eat loads of starch and play boardgames – either way – we’d love to see you!

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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…

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northern road trip (part 2)

View of Keswick High Street
The lovely flowers – H was very taken with the red stems.

The real purpose of our Northern Road Trip was for R to oversee the bookshop component of the Keswick Convention 2010. The convention runs annually for three weeks each summer here and is a chance for Christians of all ages and stages to come away for one week or three, hear some great teaching and spend time together. However, we weren’t there to attend Convention – just to make sure R’s side of things was organised.

R & E reading up on all the things there were to do

This meant that H & E had quite a lot of free time to explore in the mornings, before meeting up with R in the afternoons for trips further afield. The first morning after our arrival was wet, wet, wet.

The Greta river, from the park, as E & H negotiated the walk into town

There’s a reason the Lake District has so many lakes, and that reason is the rain. It was fantastic. One of the things we find it difficult to get used to, living here, is the abundance of rain. It is a real blessing to have it fall so freely, and we are becoming accustomed to the English way of getting on with planned activities outdoors, regardless of showers or torrential rain-dumps. The rain was quite heavy, so attired in what we believed to be good wet-weather gear, H & E set forth to walk into Keswick and explore the town. Our first stop on reaching the town centre was one of the many Hiking and Camping Clothing stores with which the town abounds, to purchase a waterproof jacket with hood for H, and wellies for E (with pirates on them.) Thus arrayed, with the raincover on the pram, we were finally prepared for the weather!

Can you spot the pirate on E’s wellies?
E’s favourite piece of equipment at the park

We discovered three excellent parks within 5 minutes’ walk of our hotel, and E discovered that a mac is a real deterrent to sliding down a slide…whereas it was no deterrent when stealing another little boy’s football…sigh.

E engaged in non-theft-related park activities…

E, H and R discovered that the transformed train platform/conservatory was an excellent place to eat egg sandwiches and watch hapless cyclists in the wet. We tried Kendal Mint Cake and visited Cars of the Stars Motor Museum (which was an interesting but not essential part of our trip.)

It was definitely more impressive, size-wise, in the flesh.

No more words necessary, I think.

We bought second-hand books from street vendors in the market place and spent lots of time just wandering – awed by the mountains that rose up around the town and were alternately wreathed in grey cloud or dazzled by brief interludes of sunshine.

Ahh, the mountains.

We walked across croquet lawns and wiped egg sandwich off window panes. We tried black pudding and bread fried in lard (accidentally, and only the once) and E decided once and for all that grapefruit is just not his thing.

We discovered that we all have a thing for drystone walls

In the afternoons we drove through the fells (a local word for mountains) on narrow, steep winding tracks surrounded by slopes littered with fallen boulders and gazed down into gorgeous lakes -or glimpsed them afar off, glittering like mirrors – with familiar names: Windermere, Buttermere, Coniston Water, Derwent Water, Grasmere, Rydal Water, Thirlmere and Ullswater.

This isn’t a lake, but it is pretty.

All the drives we took were impossibly scenic – even on the grey days we were there and it is a testament to the beauty of the landscape that we have such lovely memories.

The path where H temporarily misplaced the only key to our hotel room.

We drove past Dove Cottage (William Wordsworth’s house in Grasmere) but E’s schedule prevented us from doing more than sighing hopelessly and quoting a few lines of I wandered lonely as a cloud (as you can imagine R of course knew all the words.)

View of Derwent Water

We would definitely return to Cumbria and the Lake District and would highly recommend it to anyone as a great place to visit.

In the great “Boat trip vs Afternoon tea’ debate, guess which activity won out?


northern road trip (part 1)

Our first view of York

Some weeks ago we packed the car full-to-bursting and set off on a road trip. First stop: York, 154 miles (247 kilometres) from home and some three hours in the car. Perhaps, like us when we arrived in the UK, you look at the distance and think – it couldn’t possibly take that long, surely? You’d be reckoning without the awesome inertia power of the motorway roadwork speed limit – 40mph for miles and miles, often without any work being visibly attempted. That said, we are getting used to allowing much more time for journeys than is commonly needed in Aus, and once you accept it, life becomes bearable again.

A view of the city wall from the road
We were travelling to (and via) York so that R could do a little work; H could browse a few bookshops and bag some bargains and E … well, he was just along for the ride. We have learned to take many and varied snacks, books and toys for amusement and occupation during car rides, and to pray that nap time will fall neatly into a car journey. In the case of our trip to York E was wide awake and chatty the entire time and very ready to get out and explore on foot to shake out the wriggles.
One of the York city gates. Note: The word ‘gate’ in York actually means ‘road’ and the word ‘bar’ actually means ‘gate’. So this is called a ‘bar’.

So while R worked, H and E took to the streets with the pram and wandered the length and breadth of the walled city of York. We walked through the Shambles – a tiny cobbled lane with overhanging first and second storeys that blocked out the sunlight. The street had a deep cobbled ditch running straight down the middle – obviously the mediaeval plumbing alternative.
A view looking down into the Shambles

We bought some sandwiches from a Polish deli for E’s lunch and set off to the gardens of Yorkminster beside the cathedral – an absolutely magnificent building which we would’ve explored had not a high-ranking military/government funeral been taking place within. One of the results of this were the policemen with a very excitable sniffer dog (off its leash) combing the cathedral’s surrounds. E had already been entertaining quite a few park-lunchers with his antics so combined with a bounding dog intent on scarfing his lunch to check it for drugs and/or explosives we were quite the focus.

Lunching in York Minster
Afterward we did some window-shopping and meandered around the city – marvelling at the architecture and community feel, before meeting up with R for a proper lunch and some more exploring.
After an abortive attempt to leave York (due to computer issues at work we had to turn back for) we finally drove out of the city around 3pm. Like many old cities in the UK, traffic is quite a problem in the narrow streets and winding lanes. The solution is often a ring road around the city – the only difficulty being actually getting onto it in the first place. Having to get onto it twice in two hours was frustrating, but the upside is we have quite a good sense of how York is laid out.

We thought York was wonderful and are plotting our return, maybe even for a weekend, in order to really get to grips with the history of the city and to finally get inside the cathedral!

Two views of York Cathedral: somewhere we are keen to return.

Next stop: Keswick-on-Derwentwater, Cumbria (150 miles from York and another three-ish hours in the car.) Our first problem on this leg of the trip turned out to be our SatNav, whom we have christened Sylvia. She was determined to take us an extra 70 miles out of our way – virtually across the Scottish border – before putting us on the right road. Our desire to thwart her planning was complicated by the fact that we hadn’t bothered to bring a UK-wide map with us to plot an alternate route. In the end, armed with only our sense of direction to guide us, we turned Sylvia onto ‘silent’ mode and forged a much shorter and more scenic path through the Yorkshire dales and fells of the Lake District along the ‘A’ roads.

A fabulous view with the added bonus of E’s favourite road sign, usually greeted by much pointing and yelling
“Tractor! Tractor!”

Blessedly, E fell asleep for much of the journey and we were free to marvel at the lofty heights and valley views as we snaked our way along the Dales’ roads.

Our arrival in Keswick coincided with steady drizzle, so it was a relief to get into our (very lovely) room, freshen up, and go straight down to dinner in the dining room. We stayed in a phenomenally scenic and historic old hotel that used to be the Station Hotel.

Our lovely hotel. You can’t see it clearly in the picture, but it is built of local green slate and was a thing of utter beauty.

 In fact, the train platform (no longer in use) has now been glassed in and is now in use as part of the conservatory. More on that later. Commensurate with the rest of the hotel was the dining room: silver service; starched white linen and hushed tones complemented everyone: the couples on romantic weekends away and travellers on expensive package tours. Everyone, that is, except we three. E did very well but small boys and silver service are not a natural combination so mealtimes were delicious but very quick! The staff were amazing with E and most of the other guests accepted E with good grace – the kindlier ones coming over and chatting to him. H’s favourite of all the other guests would come up at each meal and say “Now then young man, you’re breathing fresh air into the room, it’s good to see you!” We were thankful to God for these people who went out of their way to encourage us and put us at ease in what could’ve turned into a tense situation. The guests who were not thrilled to be dining with E after that first meal would wait until we’d made our meal reservations and then choose another time slot. So, in the end, everyone was happy…

Our wing of the hotel – actually used to be the entrance to the station. Still with the post-box – so handy for those late-night postcards!

Stay tuned for more on Keswick in the next part of our Northern Road Trip.

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jaunts to oxford

The title for this post is not intended to come across as smug. Admittedly, ‘jaunt’ is a tricky word to use without smugness, but we hope we’ve achieved a suitable lack of it. We feel very blessed to have travelling opportunities to so many interesting places, and hope that ‘jaunt’ conveys our perky sense of anticipation at the beginning of our adventures.

We’ve been to Oxford a couple of times now, separately and collectively, and have enjoyed ourselves enormously each time. It is a very attractive city, chock-full of wonderful old buildings; quaint shops; university students and their bicycles; and places that we recognise from books and films.

We’ve been past the Eagle and Child pub (known familiarly to C.S. Lewis and the Inklings as the Bird and Baby), through Jericho and other sites known to us through reading the Morse novels by Colin Dexter, as well as various locations for the Harry Potter films.

We’ve: had a family lunch from the Buttery, eaten outside a concert hall where the Philharmonic Orchestra was rehearsing for a concert that evening; wandered through Blackwells books and coveted everything we saw; walked past Balliol, Merton and Jesus Colleges – peeping through the gates and marvelling at the calm orderliness and seen all the students welcoming May Day by parading through the streets in costume, singing enthusiastically.

R has eaten at Regent College and experienced the efficiency of the Park and Ride system. H and E have had tandoori chicken doner kebabs (yes, a bizarre fusion of Indian and Lebanese cuisine) in the middle of a flea market and paid 12 pounds for parking in Gloucester Green.

R has been to Oxford for work as well as pleasure; H has enjoyed Oxford on a family outing as well as with her good friend S, who graced us with her presence for a visit in early June. E has run around the cobbles, narrowly missing being hit by the ubiquitous bicycles, and had his nappy changed in the open air on the High Street – tucked behind a pillar of the Concert Hall gates.

The Concert Hall gates

We have yet to eat lunch in a pub on the banks of the canal; or see inside one of the older colleges but we really enjoy being only an hour away from all that Oxford has to offer.

Note: All photos courtesy of SOS, 2010.

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pussycat, pussycat where have you been?

One of the many elephants we met on our day in London.

Earlier this week, E and H went to London for the day. Our primary reason was to catch up with I and M – friend’s of H’s from school. (It was 10 years since Year 12 last year – how mad is that?)
If you will remember back to previous posts, we are looking for somewhere to live. (Forgive this apparent digression, it reverts back to topic, we promise!)
It looks as though we may have found an unfurnished somewhere at last so R and H have been scouring the web; newspapers and all our slight acquaintance here for tips on finding enough furniture in a short space of time. As it just so happens, on Monday night (the night before our trip to London) H won an eBay auction for a patchwork quilt.

The quilt, home at last.

 The quilt price was reasonable, but the postage was quoted at 10 pounds (16AUD) which was nearly half the cost of the quilt. Lo and behold, the seller lived in Islington, and so was born H’s determination to save 10 pounds and pick the quilt up whilst in London catching up with I & M…
Yes, it all sounds mad, we know.

Tuesday morning dawned and after the usual morning bustle, H and E set off to Milton Keynes Central station; purchased a ticket to London (including all tube and bus travel in London for the day!) and jumped on a direct Virgin (thanks Richard) service to London. Well, jumped is perhaps not the right way of thinking about it. The Virgin trains, in terms of the floorplan, are a bit like the Sydney to Newcastle country trains in Aus – no real carriage or standing room when you get on the train – just a corridor into a carriage with groups of seats and overhead luggage racks. So, H & E & the pram & the food bag (for E) & the nappy bag & pram rug had to be folded up and carried onto the train, where we blocked the aisle (although we had tried to be the last ones on) until two very nice men helped us. Both were sitting in the Wi-Fi section: one gave up his seat, packed up his laptop and moved to another part of the carriage; while the other man put the pram up on the luggage racks for us. In hindsight, this gallantry was a waste of time, as E decided he DID NOT WANT to sit quietly on a seat in his first-ever train trip and look out the window. Oh no. He wanted to talk to everyone. Loudly.
So we spent the journey standing in the little bit between two carriages, talking and rocking. Thankfully the Virgin trains are swift and we arrived at Euston in 25 minutes.
The same man who had stowed the pram away then got it down, carried it off the train and set it up on the platform. H was beginning to see that the day would require many such kindnesses from strangers.

We then descended to the Underground section of Euston (getting help from another man to carry the front of the pram down three flights of stairs) and caught the tube to Highbury & Islington station (where a lovely lady carried the front of the pram up two flights.)
Thankfully, the eBay seller lived 3 mins from the tube station, so we fronted up to her terrace, paid our dosh and picked up our quilt – in a very large and unwieldy carrier bag. Hmmm, perhaps it would’ve been better to pick it up at the end of the day?
We then caught the tube back down the Victoria line to Victoria station; and changed to the Circle line for St. James’ Park. (Insert 5-10 flights of stairs here!)

St. James’ Park is lovely.

View of St. James’ Palace from the bridge over the lake.
The London Eye in all its glory.

St. James’ Park is set right in the middle of a very pleasant London suburb and practically next to Buckingham Palace, St. James’ Palace, the Horse Guards, Pall Mall and the Strand. It felt a bit like a real-life Monopoly board.

Ahhh, the deckchairs. Next time, this is definitely on our ‘to sit’ list.

We walked through the park to the Pall Mall side and rendezvoued with I & M for lunch in a lovely restaurant/cafe called Inn the Park. E, by this time, was asleep and slept until just before the food arrived, at which time he devoured anything and everything that lay within reach.

Sleeping Beauty

Afterwards we spent some time on the lawns outside and even managed to see a squirrel begging a passer-by for something to eat. No pictures of the squirrel, sorry!

E was very taken with M and developed a special hand signal with I. In two hours he had made firm friends.

I & M then left to continue their sightseeing, and H & E headed up the Mall to the Strand and thence to Charing Cross station.

H had a very Yes, Prime Minister moment on seeing the Whitehall sign.
I love the way history is celebrated in the UK. Seeing this artwork in commemoration of the work of so many people so long ago gave me a lovely warm glow inside!
We arrived home at 5:30, both very ready for a bit of a break! E had a bath and went straight to bed without any dinner (such was his mammoth food consumption throughout the day) sleeping until 7:30 the following morning.

All in all it was a lovely day, and wonderful to have been able to do it, pram and all. The kindness of complete strangers took H aback and was one of the standouts of the day. London is a very busy city, it hums like a hive full of bees, and yet busy people took pity and helped us. We were very thankful and it really added to our enjoyment of the day and our appreciation of our new capital city.

There has been quite a lot of comment in the media about the siege mentality of the security forces here in London in relation to the Prime Minister etc. It is true that there is a big police presence in certain parts of London. Most particularly I noticed lots of police in the vicinity of St. James’ Park: paddywagons; police on foot; cars and vans etc.
In contrast, we saw one lone officer on foot in Islington. I don’t really have a position on the whys and wherefores of the buildup of police presence, just that my initial impression was that there must have been some sort of incident occurring, as that level of police presence is not something I’m accustomed to seeing.

Anyhow, it was a great day and gave us motivation to return and do it again – once we’ve recovered from all those stairs!

A view from the path on the way to the restaurant.

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downtime in a green cardigan (all the cutest boys are wearing them)

H & E just come in from the cold on the balcony

After what felt like a very busy week – perhaps because of, rather than despite, the bank holiday 4 day work week – we were very pleased to reach the weekend.

E in motion & pushing his birthday gift
Chuckling over a ‘secret’ plan to get onto the balcony without Mummy noticing

We are in limbo here until Monday, when we might possibly hear back from a real estate agent or two, so we spent the weekend: looking for furniture – in case we end up renting something unfurnished; driving around and getting a feel for some more local areas; planning exotic weekend trips away (ok, so not actually planning, but we picked up some train timetables… 83 quid return to Paris via the Eurostar from a station not more than 1km from our front door!); going to church – in Wolverton, this time; and picking up a highchair from a successful ebay bid in Little Harrowden – 20 miles and around 40 minutes from MK.

First roadtest of highchair: with biscuit

We’ve been on some walks – all three of us – although the littlest member of the family was not required to walk the whole way… and H & E are planning a trip to the Willen Park Maze/Labyrinth once R comes back from a week-long session with the car. We also quite like the sound of a walk along the Grand Union Canal with a leisurely stop in one of the canal-side pubs for lunch. Alas, such treats will have to wait until we are settled somewhere, and don’t have to keep chasing all the thousand-and-one things required to start life anew.

A tree in spring… on our walk

H met a real-estate agent she’d quite like to be friends with, but is realistic about the chances of such a friendship actually occurring…she is too chicken to say anything i.e. “Would you like to be my friend?” due to the very real possibility of sounding desperate and/or stalkerish; as well as being frightened of having mistaken the signs and having to experience a flat-out (or pitying) rejection. It is also true that said potential friend is very cool (R’s opinion) and unlikely to be in need of more friends…

R & E posing patiently for H in the bitter breeze on our evening walk

So that is our news for the weekend. No post-election commentary, because frankly, we are puzzled by the whole process and all the candidates to boot.

This is the opposite of how E looks when he is told “It’s Bedtime!”