England USA

Prague to London to New York

We are on our way now. Backpackers for 7 months. Yup, very light packers. Well, I thought we would be. Actually we are only taking a few clothes. It is just all the other stuff – beddding for 5, a kitchen (stove, pots, bowls, cups and utensils), office, laundry (brush and tube of soap), toilet (shovel) and school. Lots to bring. So, actually not such light packers.

First flew from Prague to East Midlands Airport.

Jen picked us up from the airport and brought us to her house for a sleep. We also got a chance to rethink the backpack situation. Quite early I realized that TJs bag is too bulky. I think she can carry the weight but the size scares her. So, I put all her clothes into the stuff sack and she says it is much lighter. Andrew is carrying her sleeping bag and school notebooks. Abi is carrying her sleeping pad along with the laundry. Hannah is carrying all her own stuff except her sleeping pad (I get to carry that). As we were going through Prague I noticed that Hannah’s sleeping bag on top was too far forward at her neck and have made some adjustments. I also carry part of the kitchen and one laptop. Andrew also carries his laptop, the kitchen pots.

In the midst of the repacking and after a great night’s sleep we have enjoyed good english hospitality from Jen and Fran. All the kids british food desires are being catered to.
Fish and Chips, baked beans, Chicken Korma, Apple Crumble and Custard. Yummmmm.

Slept in the Sheffield bus station in order to catch our £3 bus to London/Victoria.

Notice how we are down to only essentials now. : )
Helped Shannon clean up a bit after her big Sweet Notions Grand Party.

Andrew escorted some “friends” from the party home in a taxi.

Spent day and evening with friends from 3 continents before spending the night and making our early morning start to Heathrow and here we are in the good ‘ol USA. It is always great to hear at least one “welcome home” from the officials at the airport.

We are now staying with our old friends from when me and Andrew were dating!  Yeah! REALLY old friends. Mauricio and Shauna LaBorde and their boys.

We are looking at old photos of all the kids together when they were really cute and little. Learning alot about football (soccer). Dressing like football stars and having a great, albeit silly, time.

Oh yeah, and we think we found a van to drive around the states. In about an hour we leave to go and look at it and maybe drive it back. Let you know later on.


Bike Tire Repair for Lizzy

While on our bike trip Elizabeths tire went suddenly flat. We think the culprit might have been the GIANT NAIL sticking out of her tire. So we left the nail in so we could figure out where the hole is and pulled out our pump and our handy dandy tire repair kit, laid it out next to us, looked at each other and realized we hadnt a clue what to do next. There were no instructions. This really nice family stopped moments later and dad came to our rescue. Dressed in his Sunday walk best white clothes he taught us how to fix a tire properly while fixing the multiple holes in Lizs tire. Arent random kind strangers wonderful.


Getting ready to leave “the Farm”

As we are getting ready to leave John and Sues farm we look back on the unexpected, amazing times of the last week. We had use of an amazing barn the whole week. FULL of sofas and overstuffed chairs. an oven and lots of dishes for lots of people.


Some of the young ladies that came to this nite said it was the best nite EVER for them


Food, food and food. That is what happens when everyone contributes to a feast.


John and Sue provided fresh fruit and ice cream. mmmmmm. the kids were at the front of the line.


Got some great photos of Greg. But not one of them with hands that were not moving around adding emphasis to really exciting things. pettam.jpg

Beautiful Tamsin. Our long time friend. Wow has it really been 9 years since our families first met.


Sue and Ian. New friends.


Lots of room in the barn for playing organizing games.


Lots of floorspace to get a whole team working on paperwork. Look at our bookeeping team at work. Abi working on an XL document, TJ setting up the scanner and Hannah converting Euros, GBP and CZK into USD.


I am not sure what actually happened here. I think the group of Jones and Carters kids drew the story of their friendship on Liz’s arms.pethand.jpg

and hand.


Andrew had some brief moments off the computer to just sit around and look Cool.


And sometimes….. uuuuh….. not quite so cool. He is making an attempt to look like a rapper here.


Kids at the farm

The Carter family turned up last night at the farm. Great for the kids to get together again.

kids at the farm
kids at the farm

Sunday Drive in a ROLLS

Our friend Peter took us for a Sunday drive in his 1963 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow III. Wicked cool car. Very retro.


Peter has had this car for over 20 years but is about to sell it.


Of course we had to dress up for the occasion.


The guys put on some hats but they still didn’t look as classy as I did.


We drove a few miles and Peter gave us a historical tour of the area. Then back to the farm. Great ride. Great memory. Thanks Peter!!!


Boys are Back

Sam and Donald came back, left for Edinburgh and came back again. They have just spent 24 days walking 500 km across the top of Spain on the “Camino de Santiago”. They have promised to put up some photos here of their adventures. Here they are in the barn in Petworth. Andrew is very happy. There is now a strong male contingent to make a definate stance away from the predominantly female element on important decisions of music, movies and activities.


Yes, grandparents, all of you, we hear you. His hair is rather long. Sam and Donald and some of their friends from Orkney are involved in a challenge. If you cut your hair before the others you must fork out the astronomical sum of 10 pounds. If you are the last to cut your hair you stand to gain the mind boggling amount of 100 pounds.

Nice view hey.

England Truck

Inside photos of Maggie

Did a good Saturday morning clean this morning and thought she looked so pretty I would take some photos of her.



England Food

Back in Britain

We decided to hang out in Britain for a while.

Andy and T let us stay at their place and made us “Andy’s Puddle Pudding” and showed us how to make it.


We found a great campground outside of Walton on the Thames. It is a membership only site for the “Camping and Caravanning Club”. Good thing we are members. We payed only GBP 12 a nite for the whole family. Plus a couple of extra pounds for electricity. They have electricity, WIFI, re-creation room, water and disposal of unwanted things. No toilets, no showers. Sam says, “now this place has its priorities straight.

The girls brought my camera out one evening to get pictures of a huge flock of parrots that came to visit the campground every night in the hundreds.lonparrots.jpg

The girls took the opportunity to take lots of silly pictures of themselves.


more silly pictures.


now they are animals


They remembered why they went out with the camera and took a few last photos as they took off for the night.




We just finished our 3rd festival of the summer. Greenbelt. We celebrated Abi’s birthday with lots of bubbles. Perfect for Abi. We just happened to have a polish bubble inventor with us (I am serious) Patricia (the bubologist) can be seen in the first picture on the right, with the pixie hat, and behind Abi’s bubble with the black trousers in the second photo. gbbubblekids.jpg


Does that girl ever stop playing the sax.

Andrew and Paul cooking for….


TJ and Finn find the best place to eat.


England France

Speaking French, Finally

I am writing a memory to backdate to where it belongs back in 2008 but I would put it here first.

For the last month, or so, we have been working on our french language tapes with Michael Thomas. We tell the kids that soon we will be in France. People don’t like to speak english in France so we will need to learn some french. Every time we stop the truck to get out in a new town TJ has been asking, “Do they speak french?” “No”, I say over and over again.

The kids fall asleep in their beds inside the truck at the ferry terminal in Dover. As TJ goes to sleep I tell her, “Tomorrow we go to France and we will meet people who don’t speak any english and we will need to speak to them in French”. After talking a bit more about these people who don’t speak english and are so clever that they can speak french even when they are babies TJ can’t fight sleep any more and finally closes her eyes.

We need to get out of the truck to sail across. The kids seem to be sleepwalking as they take their sleeping bags and pillows out of the truck and lay back down on the carpeted ferry floor while me and Andrew enjoy the trip with our traditional glass of wine, cheese and bread. Their sleepwalking takes a reverse journey as we make our way back to the truck and Andrew drives us off the ferry and back onto dry land.


In the morning I wake TJ up while everyone else is still asleep. “TJ we are in France now. Do you want to go and get dad a coffee? We’ll surprise him.” We open the door of the truck and find we are surrounded by fog. It is so thick we can’t see but a few steps in front of us. I wonder what TJ must be thinking. Does she think that french speaking people live on a cloud? As we can’t see we take a guess at which direction to find a coffee. We walk in the gas station and see beautiful baguettes and croissants. We look at each other and smile. We know we are definately no longer in England. We put some items on the counter in front of a solemn woman. I prompt TJ to make the order. “Bon jour, je voudrais une cafe, s’ilvous plait.” The woman mechanically makes up a coffee with no change in her stoic expression. I am beaming, busting with pride. TJ follows the lead of the woman behind the counter and keeps a very solemn expression. She wants the woman to think she speaks french all the time. She calmly gives the woman some strange coins, and says, “merci.” We walk out of the shop with her dads coffee, an orange juice for herself and 2 long baguettes. She is trying hard not to smile but it is difficult not to.