the rambles of a family of five in Australia

Leave a comment

Last vestiges of winter…

Mr E, brumming on his little red car, on the way to the Farm Shop. (One of his favourite activities.)

Molehills, photo especially for the lovely Samara.

The joy of the snow, and a digger, and some warm dry snow boots.

Little Red Riding Hood

H is aware that sometimes she mocks one of her sisters for having a nose that may or may not resemble a koala’s. This photo is intended to show contrite recognition that a koala nose is obviously a family trait. (Goofy hair is mine alone!)

Sibling motocross may or may not be on the cards…

A panoramic shot of our kitchen – H’s new camera has some unexpected functions.

Our long haired lout, stirring the custard for our icecream

Damson puree, destined to be united with custard in a luscious icecream…

…et voila! Glace a la prune de Damas

Miss Suze eating bread while we tinker about with ice cream.

E joyfully hoarding all the remaining snow.

Just about the last pile of snow on Wakefield.

Our rascal.

Learning to play together, a successful morning.

Heading to a park playdate in Stony Stratford, with the lovely Miss P.

Suze’s first go in a swing

Preparing for a haircut.

Newly shorn, and arranging the first spring flowers. Winter is officially over!


Once upon a winter time

Mummy & E, with tremendous taste in head-gear!

Rugged up for a walk around ‘our place’

This beautiful green view never fails to delight us – and what a contrast to the same time last year!

Bidding our family visitors ‘adieu’ in January. We had the BEST time with them.

It was too cold to sit on the ground, but too lovely not to be outside. Mistress Suze ‘taking the air’ in her highchair.

Fun with friends: E and Miss P racing down the path in our back garden.

The hand gestures while talking definitely don’t come from Daddy’s side of the family!

Our cheeky blossom, watching E and Miss P, wishing she could join in the fun.

Lovely P.

A beautiful winter day, with a bright blue sky and full of sunshine.

Our laughing son.

With ‘tangaroo’ tattoo to mark Australia Day. Suze had a ‘wala’ and Mummy had a badger (wombat)!

Dad & E next to the finished Snowman.

Proud as punch!

Leave a comment

Living in the light (of snow and other things)

Yesterday afternoon it began to snow. It began almost lazily, tiny little flakes spiralling from the sky in drifts and eddies, but it was constant, and soon the flakes began to get bigger.

In a surprisingly short time everything was blanketed in white, soft snow.

E was rapt.

This morning, he dug his little red car out of its drift and brummed it around the garden, removing his gloves to better enable him to fill the boot of the car with snow.

Later, he and R built a snowman.

It was a very joyful morning.

Later, on our return from church, we ate lunch, then introduced the poppets to their comfortable beds for a snow-time snooze.

Downstairs, the loungeroom was unusually bright, the effect of all the light being reflected off the blanket of snow surrounding the house, in through all the windows. It felt a bit like being on stage or the set of a film (not that I have ever been on the set of a film, mind you!)

It put me in mind of the passage we’d been looking at in church this morning 1 Peter 2:13. I was doing a little contextual reading and ended up on verses 18-21:

“…knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.”

In turn, this led me to Hebrews 1:1-4

“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.”

For me, the linking imagery in my day, the weather and these Bible passages has been the idea of brightness, specifically the brightness of the glory of Christ in God. If beautiful snow can cause us to stop and marvel, how much more the dazzling beauty of Christ Himself? This has been a comfort and reminder to look upwards with joy and thankfulness this week.

Leave a comment

Dashing through the snow with a very special visitor

In December 2010, H’s mum came to spend four weeks in the UK. We were thrilled. This is a collection of photographs to celebrate her visit.

E in his duffle coat (he pronounced it ‘dubble tote’)

Our first winter frost. (More was definitely to come.)

E’s long locks and cherubic smile. What a stunner…

Somehow, all of E’s food this night was in the yellow family…but he loved the corn!

Frost and sunlight – quite beautiful.

E in wellies and leggings with holes in, desperate to be outside.

Our first snow – we danced around after this photo was taken – clodhopping through the yard and dancing around the hedge. Snow doesn’t stay pristine and white for long under such duress!

Furred seats in Cologne – all the better to warm your bottom after a ‘hard’ day’s sight-seeing.

View of our balcony on the first morning in Cologne – minus 12 and all’s well.

A grandma and her long-haired, spectacle-stealing lout.

Delicious hand-made chocolates in Olney.

Speedy Gonzales on his trike.

Catching some zzzz’s after a morning in Olney

In Stratford-Upon-Avon in front of a very possibly significant building.

I could’ve spent hours in here. I think we had about 15 minutes.

Once he learned to share, he couldn’t stop. The waterfowl were grateful recipients. H, not so much.

Yup, that’s my boy, running fearlessly toward a herd of geese…

The River Avon.

In Nannie and Sydney’s back garden, showing Grandma all the nooks and crannies.

Stopping by woods on a snowy evening. English teachers, c’mon.

H’s mum and the buffalo. She was OBSESSED. Possibly more photos of the buffalo than of her only (at the time) grandchild.

Snow and a buffalo.

This is my favourite winter photo.

Going for a walk/skate. The pram was necessary as the road was like an icerink in places.

A good example of E’s ‘threatening’ look! (And his interest in all things techological.)

Mum/Grandma, we had an absolutely lovely time with you. We miss you lots and wonder whether winter could possibly be as good without you. Lots and lots and lots of love, R, H E and now little miss S.


a pre-christmas trip to koln (cologne), germany

The best little reindeer in the universe

In December, while H’s Mum was visiting, she and H had a fabulous opportunity. R had offered to look after E so that H and M could visit family in Köln, Germany.

Hot-smoked fish – yummo!

They had 5 days and 4 nights to soak up the sights, catch up with family and revel in some (very) rare mother-daughter time. The plan was to hit as many of the seven Christmas markets as possible during their stay, see the Dom (Cathedral) and spend some time talking, eating and laughing with M’s Uncle and Aunt.

Gingerbread hearts

We arrived in Koln at just after 8:30pm on the Thursday evening – an hour late due to delays out of Heathrow. Although a little nervous about the language barrier (we each had the same three words of German!) we made our way successfully from the airport to the central train station. After some difficulties locating our branch line we made it onto the platform with our bags and thence to Ehrenfeld where we were staying.

The first flight of stairs to our apartment

Our apartment was light, bright and clean. It was also sparsely furnished – which was perfect for all our needs and wants – except in the sleeping department.

 The beds were quite short, the quilts were slightly smaller than the Australian single bed size – so you had to stay curled up in order to be covered – and the single European-size pillow was made of marshmallow. As soon as your head touched the seemingly fluffy pillow contours it would hit the bed as the other side of the pillow inflated to epic proportions. Did we mention the mattresses were about 3cm thick? It sounds a bit grim, but we were on a holiday high and prepared to accept less-than-ideal sleeping conditions on our little jaunt.

Breakfast & coffee heaven

The next morning we were greeted an hour earlier than we had planned for by M’s Uncle and taken on the main street to be introduced to the delights of the Mezernich Bäckerie – a family-run chain of bakeries in Koln that was utterly delightful each morning.

Christmas decorations that dreams are made of…

Onward to Neumarkt station, above which was Engelmarkt (Angel Market) where we bought Christmas decorations, drank gluhwein and ate potato cakes. Heavenly!

Did you know that hot roast chestnuts will stain leather gloves? We didn’t either!

Uncle then took us on a whirlwind tour of the city – he and it were full of buzzing energy that was very exciting – having lunch at a buffet, eating hot roast chestnuts, exploring the Dom, glimpsing the Weinachtmarkt am Kolner Dom (Koln Cathedral Christmas Markets) and entering the Heimat der Heinzel (Home of the Gnomes) in Aldstadt (the Old City) which had its own special charm. Each of the booths was decorated with a variety of carved wooden gnomes grinning and working in various industrious poses.

Light display above the outdoor icerink at Heimat der Heinzel

Uncle left us there to go for his weekly swim (!) while we stuffed ourselves with waffles with kirsch cherries and nutella and explored yet more markets.

M having the first forkful of cherry bliss
A very inadequate rendering of the Dom on my little digital camera

The biggest, most elaborate gingerbread house we’ve ever seen

The following days were stuffed with fabulous food from Mezernich; Aunty C’s amazing lunch that stretched over 4 hours (with a break for a walk to the park to visit Uncle’s bird family!); a traditional Koln meat feast; and many returns to Engelmarkt which we decided was our favourite.

OK, so we disagree about what it was called, but we do agree that it was bigger than our heads.

Uncle with his lovely birds… ! They saw him (and his netto bag) from afar and came running. You’d swear they understood every word!

Breakfast on our last morning: hot Christmas frankfurt in a bun, with mustard and hot Kinderpunsch (fruit juice). Almost the best thing we ate for the whole of our time in Koln!

Monday rolled around far too quickly and we found ourselves at the airport preparing to settle into the lounge before our flight. Owing to a couple of language glitches it took H too long to realise that our flight had been cancelled (eek!) due to bad weather, and that we were being paged to go to the check-in desk. After much frantic scurrying from one official to another, we were loaded into a taxi-van with 4 other passengers and taken to Dusseldorf to try to get a connecting flight to London. This gave us a never-to-be-forgotten trip on the autobahn at speeds of up to 180kph. (And we weren’t even the fastest on the motorway!)

The most exciting thing at Dusseldorf airport!

After reaching Dusseldorf we had to wait another 7 hours to get a flight to Heathrow, getting to experience the wild rumour-mongering of disgruntled passengers; the joys of meal vouchers and having a plane snatched from under our noses by mechanics who couldn’t get the door to close (no joke!) However, we finally landed in London at 11pm and were home in bed by 1am-ish.

Going to Germany was a fabulous experience. Neither of us thought we’d ever get the chance to sit and talk with family in their home, be shown around their city and experience part of their lives. It was an enriching time of blessing and we were loved and spoilt thoroughly during our stay. We didn’t struggle with the language and communicating as much as we had feared. Although neither of us really managed to speak German well our understanding of what others were saying and what we were reading on signs improved enormously and helped us feel involved in things. We loved Koln and would return any time, and recommend it as a fabulous city to walk around (even at -8C!)

Our favourite public artwork in the world!

Our ‘let’s spread out all our goodies and gloat’ table


the end of winter

E at Dee Why, soaking up the sun

It’s just over a month since we touched down back in the UK. It feels like many months.
We had a wonderful time in Australia with our family and friends – it was a refreshing break from daily life that felt like a gift from God. Despite the fabulous time we had, we were looking forward to coming back to the UK and getting back into the swing of things.

E took awhile to find his rhythm after our trip. He spent the first two weeks sleeping for up to 5 hours during the day plus 12 hours at night – the jetlag was a big factor for him, despite his fabulous behaviour on our flight home and record-breaking 14 hours of sleep during our plane trip.

E climbing in the Koorong Cafe playground

He is now going very well – sleeping 2-3 hours during the day and 12ish at night, and motoring around at full speed during his waking hours. The longer days and slightly less intense weather have meant that he is out and about outside much more – digging in the garden (i.e. putting rocks down the drain or getting covered in mud); opening the side gate to step into the haven that is Nanny and Sidney’s kitchen; riding his little red car down the road and hitting every puddle on the way; or walking down to our regular Thursday coffee morning yelling “Good morning dogs/birds/buffalo/deer” at whatever wildlife crosses our path.

E in the middle of ‘helping’ Cousin I at Dee Why

We three have all had constant colds/chest infections/ear infections/ conjunctivitis (ergh) since arriving home – this weekend is the first one where we’ve all been healthy at the same time and happy to be so! We are hoping that once we hit the 12 month mark we will then have reasonable immunity to the ferocious English germs. We aren’t always thrilled by the rigmarole involved in getting to see our NHS doctor, but are learning not to take great healthcare for granted – and to be pathetically grateful if a) we can get an appointment within 2 days of calling and b) we are given a prescription for heavenly antibiotics – which are doled out here as though they are the elixir of life itself…

It is just over 8 weeks until our baby is due and we are nearly prepared. Setting up the nursery with E has been a real joy and he has been very interested in everything we’ve bought/set up/ washed and put away in drawers. He talks about the baby’s room and, when asked what the baby will do on arrival his answer was ‘Sleep. Cry. Drink juice. Eat biscuits.’ So at least we will know where the crumbs originate from! Our friend Z has offered to take E when we go to the hospital and judging by the trial run when he ran into her house, gave her a joyful hug, waved H out the door and enjoyed himself thoroughly for her 3 hour absence, God is preparing his little heart for the real thing. We are so thankful that Z is less than 100 yards away and good with E – it is really reassuring to know that E will be in capable and loving hands.

E ‘sharing’ Miss H’s scuttlebug during a park reunion

R has begun a vege patch in the middle of the back garden’s flower bed and we are hoping to have something left to eat from the ravages of the rabbits. Chicken wire is being explored as a protective measure. His long legs are eating up the miles around the estate as he walks at least once a day on the weekends. H and E usually get about halfway before either someone’s legs get tired, or there is a request to be carried. E is getting better but sometimes it is easy to forget how little he is and we are always reminding ourselves to make allowances.

The weather is gradually getting warmer although we are expecting a colder snap for the first week of spring. Today was odd – leaving for church it was 8C and glorious sunshine (the best and warmest we’d had since leaving Aus) but by the time we left church one and a half hours later it was teeming with rain and 6C. On reaching home (a 10 minute journey) it was 4C and the ‘Icy Road Conditions’ warning light was flashing on the dashboard. At 4.30pm the rain had stopped and it was about 6-7C so we all went for a walk. It was the best walk we’d had for months and we’re looking forward to many more as the weather improves and we learn to take a baby and a toddler out at the same time. We think it might take us only 90 minutes from the time we think of leaving to when we actually get out the door!!

E with Nan-Nan; Grandma, Natty, Lolly and Pappa.

Leave a comment

christmas 2010

Jesus is the reason for the season!

Rob getting suitably attired to sit in the kitchen and open presents…

E’s first gift – not really sure what to do with all the paper…

First gift unwrapped and sorted – think E is getting the hang of it all!

New crockery and cutlery from Gma and Gpa….

…yep – it’s a winner!

‘More tractor, Daddy, more tractor!’

E chose this himself on Christmas Eve and is still delighted by it!

Cooking Christmas Lunch – E loves to grind pepper.

E also volunteered to wash up. Water all over the floor = happy little boy.

E had his eye on dessert (apple pie) since he woke up. (So did his Dad!)

The wonders of Christmas snowfall!


snow, ice and sunshine

A view of our neighbours’ house after 8 inches of snow

 The sights, sounds and scents of Australia have come as a surprise to we three travellers. Eight months away has been longer than we realised.
It is around 40 degrees hotter here in Aus than it was in the UK a week before we left (minus 12C). We have spent the last month trundling around outside in snow and over ice so all this bright Australian sunshine feels like a movie set.

Our front garden – several inches closer to the windows than usual

Winter in England has been very wintry indeed – a great experience for our first Christmas away from Aus. We have been used to central heating, seven layers of clothing inside the house, putting hats, gloves, duffle coats and snow boots on in order to leave the house. We’ve had icicles more than a foot long hanging from the guttering (which was also full of ice!) and snow nearly 8 inches deep on the ground.

R’s car – on a good morning!

Arriving in Aus was like walking into a sauna – good, but strangely discomfiting at the same time. E has been able to wander around barefoot for the first time in 6 months or more, and is having a wee bit of trouble adjusting to the feel of grass on his feet (he’s not a fan!) We have discarded all our layers – something we didn’t do even in the English summer – and are all contemplating the purchase of shorts (never necessary in the UK, for us at least.)

A view from our driveway to the field and beech trees next door

We are all a bit bamboozled by the light here – which has a spectrum of colour and brightness here – unlike the UK where it is both muted and crystalline at the same time. The shades of green and all the flowers here are in contrast to the varied (and oddly beautiful) shades of brown, grey and white that are the English winter colour palette. We are loving the raucous bird songs and vibrant flashes of colour of all the birds and flowers here, as well as the assault of eucalyptus and lemon scents that waft through the air as we walk.

E exploring in gum boots – the boys didn’t get very far. This was obviously a warm day – no duffle coats!

We are not loving the jet-lag and the heat is a shock, but we are very blessed to have travelled so safely and swiftly with our bright and active little boy. He didn’t sleep much on the plane and is showing signs of jet-lag in his desired sleep times, but has been tantrum-free for the whole trip so far and accepted the space limitations on the plane with a good grace and composure.

E in snow-boots – life will never be the same! He can run down an icy road wearing these.

We look forward to seeing family and friends and catching up on each other’s lives over the next three weeks. Phone calls could prove tricky but email and facebook (and this blog) will be good contact points.

Making headway through a restorative babycino after a cold morning in Stony Stratford.