Sunday, 22 December 2013

Moscow and the transiberian train


This is the gorgeous  faberge egg of the Transiberian train given by the tsarina to the last tsar of Russia, found in The Armoury at the Kremlin.

We spent seven pleasant hours on the express train between St Petersburg and Moscow. and for 50 pounds we even got a meal, maybe we should mention that to midlands railway ! Before arriving we planned our route on the metro to our hotel. And what an underground metro, more like an art museum with paintings, mosaics, statues and high renaissance  / classicle style roofs that would have looked grand in a mansion. In our tour book they even suggested a tour of the ring line just to view the 
decoration ( though after moving around with heavy bags in rush hour i would say it still 
feels like London underground and you would't want to tour that :-) the locals were
really helpful,  going out of their way to direct us.

.......After leaving the train we followed the crowd out of the station to Kosmosolskaya metro station for 200 metres. Then after asking the way couple of times we found
the brown circular line and went one stop. Then walked to the dark blue metro line. on
the way an older woman insisted on helping us find our way and handed us over to a friend.  but we made a good show of finding our own way and after 3 stops got off and said goodbye to the friend..........

. Our giant hotel  was 28 floors high, gamma delta at Izmailovsky hotel complex one of 3 massive complexes  made up of shops, hotels, pubs, night bars, you name it it was there. Very handy if you didn't want to go back out into the cold air.  A standard communist era room, we had to share an extra large double bed,  very Cosy... The restaurants in this complex seemed to be of oriental / Turkish theme very strange and a lot of dark skinned men wondered around, as well as a lot if single pretty females ! Yet the hotel had a professional business feel ! 

Day  one in Moscow we did the essential centre The Kremlin and the armoury within. We were a little churched out and only looked at one inside the Kremlin and were told off by an earnest young soldier for crossing to look at the river were there was no road pedestrian crossing. We left the Kremlin and went through the gardens and round past the tomb of the unknown soldier to red square. Xmas was in red square in the form of a fair and decorations. We visited St Basil's which was very impressive  and dominated red square What was surprising was we didn't feel as in awe or as impressed as we expected with red square as we thought we would be ! maybe without the tanks and marching soldiers and with the Christmas fair stuff,  gave us this unexpected feeling, still good though. 
We had a quartet of male singers on the first floor singing religious songs beautifully in st basils After St Basil's and merry go round rides and we walked through the famous mall ? and noticed the army and police had a strong presence in the whole area. 

All around Moscow you can see that there are many people mostly older ladies doing small jobs from sitting in toilets, working in cloakrooms, helping guide people around, in churches ect.. I'm not sure if they are payed jobs or not?  you feel that there is a drive to get everyone working at something however small. 

The next day was a lazy day we walked round Izmailovo lake. Said to be a most beautiful area of Moscow mmmmmm! Theres a Disneyesque themed castle /area with a few winter craft stalls which in summer would be heaving with tourists, now near the hotel, and a waste dump that the tour books might have overlooked :-)  we headed for the lake And felt much better,  played on a frozen play park and fed the sparrows, had some snow fights and visited the Tsars of Russia winter home and estate which had a moat around it ..most properly  to keep out undesirables..  A beer a wine two beer two wines and two vodkas later we went to bed. Up early next morning and breakfast for 1200 roubles again we made our way via the metro to our station and four nights on the Trans-Siberian. 

Moscow to irkurst leg one of the transiberian journey 
Day one of the real Trans-Siberian. we left Moscow 1503,  as with all the trains here they are very punctual. It might be something to do with the fact that they allow  between 10 to 40'mins to  get off the train rather than virgins(  frantic ) 1 minute,  :-/ As we discovered the trains keep Moscow time. We went through 5 time zones in total over five days. This can be a little disconcerting when the sun is at high noon but the moscow train clock says eight in the morning. Our five paid for meals meals consist of four lunches and  One breakfast.  Lunch consists of choice of soup followed by either rice with chicken or pork with noodles or fish with potato. The first day we did not need to eat after lunch, we had enough nibbles from the hotel and from a kiosk to last us for breakfast. The next day we tried the restaurant but were not enamoured by the quality or the price 2300 rouble (40 pounds) for four of us, After that i (Tracey)  (very bravely ) foraged on station platforms for dinner. How worrying is it to leave the train even though you know it going to be here for at least twenty ... quite a nervous moment.  

We met a group of 3 men from Krasnayansk whom we shared vodka with for a couple of hours on the third day. When they left, a russian Buriat family  going home talked to us while our children played with their 4 year old son, volodya. 
They were returning to Ulan Ude after a year in Krasnayansk. The children had a little problem with the days being 23hours long but after 4days they have acclimatised just, if you say getting to sleep by 11/12 pm is acclimatised.  At 11 pm it felt like 8/9 pm .....They and we are handled  the confinement on the train very well, the kids did some jumping around on the seats and made the top bunks into the toy room. 

It wasn't as bad As i Maybe thought it would be, it was comfortable, warm almost to warm, the train was very slow in area but theres no rush.
We had our own couchette so seats by day, we made our beds at night which were comfortable we were given sheets and towels. the food was basic Eastern European, sustaining but  Seb didn't like much of it,  the staff were nice and worked long hours, 2 people took shift duty for the whole five days.
 we did have the hot water urn, so tea, chocolate kept us going and you must buy extra milk as you are given very little.  We had great views from dirty windows :-) which is why we mostly took  video not photos.
Comparing  my journey with  the stories I have been reading about travellers who first took the transiberian in the early 1900 this was a luxury :-). (story time ) ..did you know at one point before the train tracks were finished around the get people across lake baikal in the winter they froze line tracks into the ice and drove the train over the frozen lake.. The first time they did it the ice cracked and the train sank ...after that they dismantled the engine to make it lighter and passengers walked across! 
There seemed plenty to fill our days especially as the sun doesn't even come up till 10 am so we slept till sunrise, there were stops every one to two hour it varied a lot,  even through the night. This made for a very noisy train especially when at each stop they needed to take a long metal spike and bang the bogies to get the ice of!@x    sometimes the train rocked sidewards so badly I think they were changing them as well. 
Surprising it didn't bother the kids who slept through it all, 
All in all an epic trip, well worth doing and not as hard on the body as expected, though coming of the train was interesting,  as we all got to some degree what i called sickness from spending so long on the moving train and then stopping :-/ 
So after five days on the train we had made it to Irkutsk in Siberia, 
That's all for now 
From Russia and Siberia with love xx 

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

St Petersburg's wonders

Heres our latest blog on our trip to st  petersburg sorry its a little long  its not easy to condense this wonderful city  . We  left Vilnius in driving snow a Dr Zivago moment onthe 6th december
The train arrived about 10 minutes before departure. tickets and passport were checked by train attendants as usual before climbing on the train. Our couchette instead of six beds had only 4 this time so the bags went on one bed and the kids shared ( but we have realised that they are growing so fast they now needed a bed each, which makes storing our bags even more interesting from now on :-) The train left at 1949 according to the clock on the building opposite. On this trip we were going through the borders from Latvia into Russia. We only were given three entry forms for  four passports so with andy's  very minimal Russian and gestures the conductress offered to fill in our entry forms for us. This would be an eventful night, border crossings always are. Its easy to forget how anxious you can feel when they take your passport away while being confronted with a stern face of the border guards  (usually female nothing escapes them )  looking at you as if you have done wrong. Does it get easier with experience ..a little..  :-) we were woken at two am Checks took about 2 hrs to complete this included a lot of questions being asked, they were especially confused and needed dates  on when we were to return to uk ..We, confuse people!  :-) there was
checks around our cabin and lots of general noise..sleep was not an option.

I (Andy) woke up  around eight and enjoyed the scenery much the same as Poland andLithuania , flat, snowy landscape with mostly (in the country)  wooden houses each intheir own plot of land. In the city you generally find high rise buildings from manydifferent periods. You could see that there is on-going improvements of the buildingsthough in some  areas there's much to be done!

Tracey and kids woke much later we were just getting ready to eat our  breakfast of
bread cheese, and pastry and check out the latest town we had arrived in when the ladyguard  starts shouting at us, To our chargrin we forgot to forward our clocks we had lost an hour opps ..we were bundled off the train with lots of finger pointing and onto the platform at St Petersburg. Alisha had been asleep at that point,  lucky the rest us were dressed. so there we were standing amidst half packed bags and getting dressed in our coats hats etc, Alisha went to the hotel in her pjs plus outer clothes  :-) and to top it all the train became dormant just sitting there,  so much for the quickest train exit even before it leaves,
Not how i had espected to arrive in Russia :-)
   this is the bundled of the train before chaotic photo

          and here are the official getting off the train photos :-)

Russia ..we are in Russia wow !!! 

Country number 70 for Andy and my 65th, Alisha has 30 under her belt and seb is
on his 17th now .. not that we are counting of course :-)

After asking directions we walked  500 metres to the Metro , a slow hike with the kids. Then 3 metro stops for 12 roubles Nevsky prospect the main central street of St Petersburg... Phew our bags were heavy at the moment longest hike ever :-/ 

We spoilt ourselves with our hotel  and it was worth every penny, small and welcoming with big rooms, if a little noisy but then Nevsky prospect is one big noisy place. we dumped bags after a short break and we dived into St Petersburg.
We walked up Nevsky Prospect and visited the 3 story book shop in the beautiful singer building then saw the grand cathedral opposite with its semi circle imposing classical architecture. As if that wasn't enough we then walked around the outside of the The church of the resurrection of Christ, with its beautiful and dominant onion dome is i say the most stunning, the tiled splendor of the inside rivals even that of the architecture outside. Every corner has a surprise with the most beautiful building you can imagine
Stopping at last for tea we then made our way back to our hotel around 9pm we had been walking for about 7 hours around St Petersburg phew.

our view from hotel towards nevsky prospect main street

Next morning after a filling breakfast, we set of on what turned out to be another 7 hour walk. The best bit about staying on the central street of Nevsky prospect meant we could walk pretty much to all the main attractions, and did not need to take any metros.  we followed the famous canal to the field of mars (war memorial with eternal flame and the unassuming summer gardens which looked like a bare park ! and past Michaels Castle a  mix of dominant russian and  classical architecture and across  of the many bridges to the Peter and Paul Fortress  i (tracey) had tried to get some photos but we were walked in thick falling snow, wonderful to be in, the kids had a ball throwing snow balls and running around. I don't know where they got their energy from.

The fortress was mostly made up of some wonderful architectural building surrounded by a vast wall which sat on the edge of the Neva  river, now used for museum pieces and exhibitions,  we was able to walk around the outside of it and had some fantastic views of St Petersburg and the art museum 'The  Hermitage' where we planed to go next. The Peter and Paul  cathedral which had the burial crypts of the past tsars was impressive, Alisha especially felt for the last murdered tsar Nicholas 11  and his  5 children who were buried here  a good taste of history brought to life (or death ) ! .. 

I feel I am struggling to express in words what we are seeing we are running out of  superlatives after so much splendour :-) 

We then crossed a further 2 bridges with great views of ice floating down the river the temp was in the minus by now and snowing heavily. 
By this time we .. the kids had run out of energy and needed food .. and beer .. us.
so we made rush for the hermitage  hoping for a cafe. After a energy boost we set about looking at the arts such as the impressionists, french art, Russian art, you name we saw it. 

The building it's self is a work of art and was the home to the tsars, beautiful, wonderful and uplifting to the soul. 
the weather has been variable one moment bright blue sky's and the next white /grey sky' and the flurry of snow turning everthing white 
After  that we went to a traditional ( pivenice) bar and enjoyed grog and local beer 
Bottoms up 

All of my photos are on my facebook page if you fancy taking a look as i took so many :-) 
That all for now.. On the 10 th December we leave for Moscow  
from Russia with love xxx 

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Our travels through Brussels, warsaw, cologne, and Greetings from Vilnius, Lithuania

Andy's quick blog .......Well here we are  in Poland for one day. We have done the Eurostar to Brussels, A very kind manager got us on to an earlier train than the 1505. The 1258 arrived in Brussels with two hours to spare instead of twenty minutes, I had a beer to celebrate leaving England. Alisha was a little nervous about going under the water. We has left at 9:30 is from Milton Keynes after a little faffing , cutting children's hair and showering everyone. Tracey's sister drove us to the station and bid a fond farewell.
After the Eurostar we caught the ICE train to Koln 18:25 to 20:15. We has tea in a restaurant below the platform, there are many different ones , it is a shopping centre. Then we caught the 22:28 'Jan Kiepura to Warsaw, an overnight sleeper. We has breakfast on the train @ 8 euros 50 a head!,
In Warsaw we confirmed that the train to Vilnius was still not running as seen on the website 'the man at seat Which has given us some great advice on all our train travels so far.
We have done a minimal exploration of Warsaw and have bought bus tickets to Vilnius. for 17 euros each at the tourist information bureau computers. The bus leaves at 06:05.tomorrow morning, Everything so far has been swish and efficient. Tonight we are in the Oki Doki backpackers in a 3 bed romm. Taxi to bus stand 04  tomorrow morning near the train station. The kids are doing well apart from taking about an hour to do 800 metres from the train station to the hostel. Hope you are all well.

Hello from Tracey   3 rd december
With a sad but exciting farewell to friends and family we headed off on our great train odyssey  on the Europe, The transiberian trains and  east Asian trains.  ...a journey from London to Russia, China, Vietnam, Cambodia ,and beyond

One day into our journey and I woke up in a moving train and felt a sense of deep calm, I felt like I 
was doing what I love and felt most comfortable with .. Travelling ..following my wanderlust :-) a 
deep contentment made me smile and breath deeply as I stared out of the window.  the kids were still
 asleep it was about 8 am,  we were travelling through Poland towards Warsaw. It was a bright clear 
day with a strong sun and frost on the ground just enough hint to remind me that the further north we go the colder it will get. 

With the time change we had got to bed about 11pm the night before, I found sleeping on the train very comfortable despite being hard beds  and the kids hadn't stirred, Andy said he didn't sleep so well but then he was up High on the third  bunk, lucky he's good at climbing lol..

This is a lot better than the people sleeping next door on pull out chairs.  So far on day one we had taken 4 trains in total ..not bad.   The kids seem to be handling the journey as relaxed and confident as ever, and showed little upset at such a long day,  

4th December 
We arrived in Warsaw around 11 am and made our way to the OKI DOKI hostel
It had lovely warm and very clean rooms with a bar on site. Every room was individual,  ours was called the st. topez room ...very fitting :-) after spending the day wondering around the central city we tasted some local cuisine of potatoe cakes with beer soaked beef stew, verdict..  very nice ...Andy says especially with polish beer.  Kids had polish fish finger

5 th december 

From Warsaw we had to take a bus to Vilnius because of rail works on the lines. Up at 5 am we were on the bus at six ..phew arriving in Vilnius at 3.50 pm
The kids were kept Amused with on bus tv and movies. Once in Vilnius we booked into 'the center stay hostel' which again was a warm and comfortable, 4  bed room, with a little kitchen, as evening drew in we wondered about and had diner at the cancan and enjoyed this time meat and potatoe dumplings, more  local cuisine, I'm found  the food very nice but stodgy... there go's my diet ;-) 
Its around 4 lt to the £ 1 so a meal cost about 6 pounds each not bad. 

6th December 
We woke up to snow :-) the kids made paper snow flakes which we taped to the windows and after a lazy morning ventured out to see the old town. The snow had been coming down steady through the night so within a few hours we were in a wintery wonderland of beautiful old building and iconic churches with bright christmas lights adding to the atmosphere. alisha and seb went ice skating and and we drunk hot mulled wine.
At 6 pm we collected our bags and set of to mc donalds ( as promised ) before boarding  our night sleeper train to St Petersburg. we are on our way :-)

our room in the hostel

our room in the hostel ....     make paper snow flakes              .alisha and seb kitted out for winter :-)

lunch  at le crepe :-)

ice skating in the park 

Sunday, 3 November 2013

November update on our travels

November 2013 
We can't decide on our title ..what do you this ?? 
The great escape ...again 
Our  great train journey of 2013/14 
Doing Asia 
what to do with a pensioner and two children :-) (andy's idea) 
The Transiberian train odyssey and other countries( i think I go with this one ) 

Anyway where was i 
Not withstanding our  last few great train journeys such as our  3 week great Easter/n European train trip in march 2011 visiting Lithuania,  Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Romania,  serbia, Bosnia herts, and Croatia ( what a wonderful trip that was) when Alisha was 6 and Seb was 3 yrs old. or our 16 days train / bus travel through the Balkans (serbia, montenegro, Croatia, Albania  ) when Alisha was 1 and half yrs old. 

We think the kids are now ready the big,  big trip, I would say of a life time but ...there is always the Silk Road journeys though Asia arrhhhh... Or the Americas or west Africa ...or . ( as you can see there's so much to see) ... its called Wanderlust ....

So as I said with pride Alisha has 23 countries under her belt and seb has 13 so we think / hope their ready as anyone for this one.  God willing ...

I have to say they are great little travellers very relaxed, comfortable in new surroundings, and confident, willing to talk to anyone.  They settle quickly wether its on a train, bus or in hotels / hostels. In the past i loved how they would make themselves
comfortable, set up their toys and start playing without any stress. A chip of the old block :-) 

We have had an enjoyable year we have gone from gutting our house, to living in a caravan, to living out of a bag each ..Phew !! 

We have lived in stirling in Scotland, since April, we spent 7months  first living in our caravan in Alva and we now are staying the last few months in a small but perfectly formed cottage. 

But we are now In the ( payed up in full )  official count down,  4 weeks till we leave on the 3 rd December.  
Andy has 19 days work left ( not that he counting ;-)  

Yippee ..eek and all those scary thoughts... It's gonna be cold, (this week 1 november, Ulaanbaatar is already - 5 ) ....dam cold, poss minus 10 / 20 cold .... still, we are  good to go ....its only a matter of attitude and warm clothes...  keeping my kids safe and warm ( had a few panicky moments over this one, just after we booked our tickets for December :-) funny how you panic after the booking when we had spend months planning it ? 

we are of course still following the warm sun, we should hit it in Vietnam :-) its just the
long way round.  I plan to be scuba diving and sun bathing by February on the Vietnam

Our great train journey awaits :

Our  itinerary is as follow
The first part of our journey starts with an Epic 5 day rush to Russia :-) traveling
though the countries from England, to France,  Belgium, Germany,  Poland, Lithuania Latvia, we journey on the  EURO STAR to Brussels then the ICE train to cologne,
then the JAN KIEPURA sleeper train to Warsaw then Warsaw to St Petersburg. in

From there we travel on the TRANSIBERIAN/TRANSMONGOLIAN expresses
visiting St  Petersburg, Moscow,  irkurst, Ulan- Ude  in Siberia  then  Ulaanbaatar in
Mongolia where we will spend the three days including Christmas Day in a Mongolian
ger camp in the national park. It should be beautiful. I here they have big wooden
burning heaters in the centre of the tent!!!,.  ( a little travel  info..Ulaanbaatar is the
coldest capital in the world !)

We leave  ulaanbaatar on the 29 th December and arrive In china on the 30th 
December which is andy's birthday ( not a bad birthday present :-) 

As I write this now I feel more relaxed about the weather, im just teasing really, it gave
me a good excuse to shop :-).

 I did really want to see Russia,  with its onion towers and majestic building  and siberia and the urals in the snow. A real wintery wonderland, so heres hoping for snow. It's a good time to leave because as we travel south down from china it will only get warmer, and we also miss most of the rainy season throughout Asia, up to June at least. 

There is so many exciting things to look forward to I have wanted to go on the transiberian since I was 20 yrs old I even bought a book back then, which I'm using now. But also as I read about China  I find it offers  a wonderful culture, landscape and magical experience I am really looking forward to seeing. 

We wanted to do the whole trip from London  through asia by train as much as possible as we felt this was the real way to experience crossing so many countries and we do love train travel.

Itinerary plans 
We have organised the trip independently up to Vietnam so far with accommodations and  travel pre-booked, mainly  because of traveling on the transiberian route in winter which is in the low season and and also because the Chinese visa ask for our itinerary upfront.  The rest we plan to book as we travel around its much more flexible. 

We have so far sorted out 
>vaccinations... (Cost huge )
>Organisation of train trip to Russia ..3 day trains, 2 sleepers .

> The transiberian / Mongolian trains is a total of 23 days journey which we organised through ( real Russia ) this is organised independently with them and not though a cushy ( for the softies tour :-) .....far cheaper that way.

>Accommodation up till Vietnam , we have used '' and 'hostel' as we don't need to pay upfront giving us flexibility to change where needed. 

> Visas for Russia, Mongolia, and china for four of us. 
A total of 12 application forms have been filled in and send of. 
At this moment we have our Russian visa and am applying for Mongolian as we speak, this  week our passports go to the Chinese embassy.  We can breath a sign of relief when we get them back. 

> In the next few weeks 
I also plan to organise our travel insurance for the next year 

>Finnish Buying stuff and Packing our back packs ( we have bought Alisha her first junior backpack so she can carry her own clothes, its even better than mine, with built in hydration system, ...jealous ...

Well that's it for now, further updates to follow x  

Thursday, 26 September 2013

100 % committed to the Wintery Wonderland of Russia, Siberia and Mongolia

Well we are 100 % committed :-) We have just bitten the bullet and have booked our transiberian train tickets for our trip from russia, Mongolia, siberia to china. 
OMG ... I wanted to do this trip since I was 20 .!!..I still have my Siberian train travel book from back then :-) 

we leave London by train on the December 3rd traveling to cologne then warsaw and onto russia it should take 5 days. 
We should arrive in St Peterberg on the 7 th december where  we have 3 days visiting. From there we head to moscow for 3 days before starting the transiberian journey to Irkutsk, this will take 4 days on the train with out stops. 
We plan to stop for three days here before traveling to the winter wonderland of siberia and ulaan ude, our accomodation is on lake baikal, which is supposed to be beautiful, frozen, but beautiful. We might even do some ice skating on the lake or take a husky dog sled ride.
Our Next stop is Mongolia and ulann baatar the coldest capital in the world in winter ?? ( and we are going there eek ..I had some panicky thoughts on kids and cold after I book this  ?) here we will be spending 5 days including 3 days and Christmas day at a mongolian ger camp. 

If alls well and good We will arrive in Beijing on the 30 th December, Andy's birthday. 

From Beijing we hope to travel through Asia and the rest of the world, (God willing.) .. Only 13 weeks and counting :-) 
now the sleepless nights set in and panic as I plan packing for both minus 10/20 ? degrees temp and hot Asia weather. And how we are going to fit it into our bags. 

Any tips would be much appreciated in this department!! 

 We plan to travel light ( i dont want to be worrying about bags when all i want 
to do is concentrate on my kids in crowded places like manic train stations and crowed streets of  india or cambodia )both andy and i plan to carry a rucksack
each and share Seb's clothes, while i have just bought alisha whos soon 8 yr old  her first junior rucksack. ( which I hope she can carry ;-)  

( for anyone interested we have managed to cost the 23 day transiberian train stopping in 3 places for 3 plus days, plus accommodation and a 3 day ger stay in Siberia for £3,100 for Four people. This was with 'real Russia trains and booking .com) 

Friday, 6 September 2013

My Thought on the road of life

The above link has a great piece on the worries of parenting and Internet issues. 

>On the subject of the internet i feel 

The young are venturing into a new world and for some of us older people, running so fast we struggle to keep up :-)  Though I try, I am lucky I have young kids and plenty of time to learn before their teenagers!    
I do worry that the stuff kids say and do online now will effect them so much more now and also later on in life, when I was growing up the problems we had to face stayed with friends and family, it wasn't spread all over the web, and we wasn't judged by strangers which can be hurtful and scary for some. 
A prime example .....There was a article early  this year a young 16 yr old girl had got a very good job as first young commissioner for the British police, but lost it,  because people found out she had said some racist remarks to friends and other stuff, on line some two years age most properly just stuff talked about between friends but everyone could read it so this effected her later on... 
I try to teach that the Internet though wonderful is a whole new world full of dangers as well as wonders. where you have to be as carfull venturing as you do when you step out the front door. Giving as much help and guidance as I can. 

>Parenting For me its not just parenting that makes me query what we are doing but also the fact that I educate my kids at home this also raises lots of worries in me as to how I bring up my kids, and to top that the fact that I am also  planing long term travels with all those extra worries to contend with what joy lol.....lucky I'm. A relaxed person and don't let them effect me for long.
.my anxieties are just something I have to work through and hope as others we are doing ok, and my kids will benefit from the life and love we give them. 
An enjoyable article thankyou. 

Fun in Scotland, August

Such a clever boy 

 Seb is enjoying reading peter and jane books and his writing is coming along wonderfully, which make me feel so relieved as One of the things i was worried about when deciding to world school them was teaching him to read. 

 We had a visit from my brother shane and sampled the best of fine dining the BBQ way ..lovely
He must have been really excited at having to share a bed with seb in our caravan ;-)

 Practising archery and target practise with a sling shot, 

After two years apart Alisha seb and Ellie have finally met back up in Edinburgh what a  great day meeting up with friends 

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

One step closer to travel

Plans are afoot...... 

Andy has sorted out his passport and Seb's got his :-) 

For the princely sum of £ 1,600 we will be vaccinated for our trip around the world phew ! Lets hope we will get an extra couple of months work. There's nothing  frugal about that price!  We started having them last night  the first 3  we need about 9/10  In total ! 

Next ...visas and train plans ...oh and a date when to start ! 

23 rd August 
Great news Andy has just been given a three month extension on his contract so that means we will be in Scotland till the end of November, 
At last we can start planning dates,   we now hope to start on our travels early in December heading through Europe to Russia for Christmas  before getting on the transiberian train going through Mongolia to China and onwards. 
Siberia in winter,  a frosty winter land of  snow and ice and minus degrees temp... I can't wait to see Russia in the snow ( hopefully its snowing by then) sleeping in a traditional ger should be interesting ;-) 

We have decided to stay in our caravan till then and weather the scottish winds, ( it should make us a little harder for the forth coming Russia weather) Its also easier as its hard to get a 3 month rental here. And any way the kids and I plan to be down in Milton Keynes for a lot of September and a little of October catching up on friends and family as well as my honours degree ceremony to attention. Alisha will be 8 and alison my sister is a bit old ;-) er  too. Party time ...

Andy I think plans to  make the most of his free time  walking up some Scottish munros, because he's not complaining about us going down for so long ;-) 

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

The great trip to Scotland 

The first part of our adventures will now start with us going up to scotland, stirling for a minimum of three months for a work contract. We plan on living in our caravan in Alloa, lets not talk about the weather at the moment seems to be creeping up past 2 degrees and we have even had some sunny days I live in hope of not freezing....It has took us two weeks to gut, to take one house and try to fit it into a caravan's amazing how much stuff and crap one can hide away in a house. 

At last That's it all packed up and ready to go .. House gutted and bags either taken to the dump, or bagged for car booty when the weather is warmer, age concern will pick up larger furniture on Saturday. We have decided to get rid of every thing except for some toys and a couple of pieces of furniture. Storing worthless stuff is far to expensive these days. 

I started with the hardest bit first sorting out the kids toys, made all the more difficult by Alisha who hates getting rid of anything. .... Seb was good he wanted to sell stuff so he can have more money to buy other things. 

Namely Lego dinosaur or transformers. 

I took all our clothes halved them then dumped a load more. each has one small cupboard to put clothes in, I've got this feeling when I put the bags in the caravan they still won't fit in, more gutting to come. What joy...

Hello from Scotland, Alloa. 
April  10th wed 

We arrived here tuesday night about 11pm, after a couple of very long days driving and towing the caravan Phew.. Day 1 to manchester. After wondering where Birmingham has vanished to I realised I had missed the m6 turn off..opps don't tell anyone :-/ so i cut through the peak district from chesterfield to Stockport.. easy. ( a good choice I realised when I found out that the m6 had closed because of an accident). We stayed at a caravan club site and it was freezing. i travelled up with my mum and kids. Andy was already in Scotland at this time. 

Day 2 saw me starting of a little late from Manchester luckly again just missing closure on the ring road. after visiting my auntie margaret and uncle Brian. So left around 4.30 and arrived in Alloa 11pm ? don't ask me what happened to the extra extra hour detour to drop mum of in Carlisle doesn't seem to add up to what should have been a 4 hr drive never mind we have arrived and are now settled in our caravan nice and cosy. Weather at mo is good. Alloa is lovely we are right next to the ochills and camp site is very nice. ( Almost to nice for my little caravan, it seems it doesn't look the part and we have been asked to spruce it up..time to Get the scrubbing brushes out. Bet they were afraid the gypsies had turned up :-) though they would have at least had a car with them.....

Kids have spent the day playing in the park despite the cool weather. 

Day 4 Friday

I don't know where days are going they are flying past.. my little caravan got the thumbs up this morning from site manager he said and I quote she good she scrubs up well doesn't she ..phew ... So she should, we were out all morning scrubbing her clean.

Feeling settled now only one more bundle of clothes to squeeze into the caravan, mine of's amazing just how much you can actually fit in a caravan

Caravan basic 

caravan is a small 5 berth. Two double beds and 1 bunk bed, so Alisha sleeps on the bunkbed and seb is on the lower double. We sleep on the opposite bed. 

In our awning I have set up a table, and play area for the kids, with chairs for us. The awning keeps out most of the cold winds its quite cosy.
............ ..I've been checking out home ed website for area 

Home from home....Today we have sun yippee, clothes all washed and drying nicely, veg delivered, dinner on, and now relaxing.. And trying to egnore my inner voice that says I must Finnish of my soon to be overdue open uni TMA!!

After the physical and mental exertions of gutting the House, leaving family, and towing the caravan to Scotland. I was on a high, ready to go forth and conquer Scotland, clean caravan, fix home and get started in homeschooling again which I have to say has been a little lacking ( but then the experience of the move and relocation is an education in its self).

I was all set to go ... but instead i find us in the first week, back in the lowlands. ( figuratively speaking ) to day is Tuesday and andy's second day of work, it's 11am and alisha, seb and i are struggling to get out of bed, my little caravan is being beaten by the wind and rain which has been going on all night, and i have had the flu for the last three days. 

Which is why I'm still in bed for all you out there.. :-) 

I did manage to go swimming ( didn't help flu) yesterday with kids and book Alisha into her lessons. Which start today so at some point I need to get up. :-( make porridge, check my awning is still standing and Start moving.... 

Here's to the good life ....
Makes for an interesting read and they have some great travel info on their blog 

Family Travel Blog for Nomadic World Travel with Kids:

May 10 th 2013 May 10th 

Andy and i are celebrating our 10 year anniversary eek and Alisha has a new bike as she she is growing up fast. so we decide to celebrate by going on a small biking holiday. We biked to the train station in Alloa then took the train to Loch Lomond. We stayed in a lvely b& b in balloch. 

On saturday we visited the sealife aquarium, which I have to say is excellent... then on Sunday we biked 8 miles along the loch shore, Alisha did very well and loves her new bike with Gears. It was a shame it rained all the way around but still good fun and the loch and mountains were wreathed in mist and when we could see them, were beautiful.

 Seb got to play with the ipad as he was enclosed under the rain cover of the the bike trailer for most of the time and couldn't see much but he was happy. All in all a great trip and we are now happy to be back in our caravan vegging out, while warm and dry.

Well we have been living in our little caravan in Scotland for just over a month, and I think we have settled in well we moved after two weeks to another pitch as the first one was to open to the wind that blew across the valley. 

I feel very relaxed here in Scotland and do not tire of seeing the ochills even when it's grey and cloudy in fact they look just as good when the weather is rough, that's the joy of living near mountains/ hills. 

I like the fact that we are involved more with the outdoors now for instance we go out to the washing up area to wash our pots, or to fill up the aqua roll with water, or to walk up the shower blocks. we live constantly with the door open even if its cold, you just put on more layers, its surprising how used to lower temp you get living this way i could never tolerate this in a house my temp was set at 18 plus just to keep warm. The kids are in and out of the caravan all the time they are not limited and have the whole camp site to play in, not a bad size for a garden they even have a big tree to climb and a small play park, no more being closeted up in a house. 

In milton keynes i felt i was just running to the car and back again with out even looking up to see what's around me, I'm afraid the surrounding country side though beautiful did little for me, I love hills, mountains, and the sea, it makes me feel closer to the land, and lifts my spirits, I love the sublime, and the adventure of it all. 

Though if I must be honest I could do with more sun ..give me the french alps or near the sea, with sun and that would be wonderful, I would be complete. Arrh soon enough :-) 

We have packed quite a lot in this month already we have been to Loch Lomond with the bikes, we have had my sister, mum Sean and Luke up to stay.. That was fun 4 kids and 3 adults packed into the caravan, 

Andy disappeared up some Monros for the wekend just to get away :-) the crouachaderain and Ben tullechian monros.

We have also travelled by train to Cheltenham to visit andy's family and grand daughter Emily. 

It's not stopping there, in two weeks the kids and I are off back down to Milton Keynes to stay with my family, Andy is of to climb some more Monros. And then we are into July phew! 

I have now at last finished my open University art history honours degree after 7 years ...yippee .... Wow I have time to think about other things and not feel guilty about not doing my studies, this is going to take some getting used to ;-)....

The kids and I have had some fun home educating we are doing a project on frogs and tadpoles. We are reading lots of books and have completed a lap book about them, we have also found some tadpoles in a pond at the alva glen waterfalls and woodland. ( which are fantasic and so close to us ) so we are looking after tadpoles and observing them daily.

June 13 holidays down south Milton Keynes and beyond 

We had a lovely time in cromer last weekend, the sun came out every time we needed it to :-) at other times we just admired the sea view from our window, which sat on the cliff edge. we even managed to swim 3 time in our outside pool ( it was very warm water) and the kids loved playing in the sea on one particularly beautiful evening.

We had fish and chips by the pier and went on a 2 and half hour boat ride to see a large group of seals, you would have liked it, there was hundreds of different nesting birds all quarrelling for some space on the island . You couldn't miss the smell :-/. we managed to pack a lot into 4 days. It was also nice because i got to spend it with my dad, chris, sister and kids.