7 Coloured Earths

The 7 coloured earths is a place in Mauritius. As the name implies, it is a small area, made up of sand dunes, not any ordinary sand, but of 7 colours of sand.

It is a natural phenomenon and surprisingly it does not erode despite torrential rain.

As I mentioned before, I grew up in Mauritius and I remember hearing the rumour that there was some kind of treasure under the sand dunes, but if it was dug up, the beautiful place would be ruined.

Another fascinating fact is that if a bit of the earth is mixed together, they will settle into different layers eventually.

How fascinating? Now that I am older, I will make a note of looking more into this and find the science behind it all.

For now, enjoy the photos.

There is no official name for the 7 coloured earths. It’s known as Chamarel or 7 coloured earths or La Terre Des Sept Couleurs ( in French )

There is also a beautiful waterfall, Chamarel Waterfalls.

Holiday in Mauritius – first few days in a cyclone

Note – A tropical cyclone, also called a typhoon or hurricane, is an intense circular storm that originates over warm tropical oceans. They are all the same, only different distinctive terms for a storm are used in different parts of the world. Hurricane is used in the central and Northeast Pacific, Atlantic and the Caribean sea while Typhoons are what they call it in the Northwest Pacific.

A few months ago, I attended a big event in Mauritius, my brother’s long awaited wedding.

Note – Mauritius is an island in the Indian Ocean, 1200 miles off the South East coast of the African continent.

I brought back lots of good memories, mauritian tea, shells and with it some memorable but stressful memories too.

Before I go any further, I have to mention that I am a Mauritian Expat, now living in England, Uk. I left Mauritius 19 years ago, so I am like a tourist there, with the advantage of knowing the language and having friends and family there.

So, after a long process regarding setting a date for the wedding, then taking days off ( my work, the hubby’s work and the children’s school ) we set off to Mauritius for 14 days.

We started from London, stopped at Dubai for 4 hours, and finally reached the island after a total of 20 hours ( plane and airport transfer )

Being tired is an understatement. The whole mind and body have to reset themselves, due to the time difference too.

As soon as we landed, the stress started. The tropical cyclone that was making it’s way towards the tiny island was making progress and it was now a direct hit.

For the next few days, I relived my teenage years and this time I was very frightened as the last time I was in a cyclone was in 1994. Yep, that’s old I am, I was there in 1994.

The difference was that in 1994, there was a power cut during cyclones and for a few days, the whole family were huddled in the living room, with candles, a battery powered radio to receive weather updates and also to entertain ourselves with the music. Because that was the only entertain for the whole family, not including board games. These days, my children, maybe even me, would not last a power cut for a few days.

Fast forward to 2018, I was on my mobile, looking at weather maps, following the trajectory of the cyclone. There was no power cut at all. My children were watching cartoons in French, which they do not understand, but I guess cartoons are cartoons for them. Even whilst in Portugal they happily watched portuguese cartoons. My brother was actually finding it hilarious that I thought there was not going to be electricity. It is not 1994, he kept reminding me. I am sure some parts of the island had a power cut.

Nevertheless I was terrified. Terrified the wedding would not take place, and also terrified that the tiny island could disappear. Yes, that is the disadvantage of having internet and overseas news at your disposal. Back in 1994, all I had was the radio telling me where the cyclone was, hence no need to overthink. But then I was only a teenager back then, I am sure howling winds, torrential rain or even the possibility of the tiny island disappearing in the massive ocean was the least of my problems.

One of the interesting thing about the internet age was that I was able to keep in touch with friends and family from differents parts of the island as well as different parts of the world. A few friends from England were there for the wedding too and they witnessed the cyclone from a house near the beach. Trees were torn and scattered along the beach, boats were broken, the island was a mess.

I was also in touch via Instagram with tourists on the island and it was interesting to see their photos and posts about what their hotels were doing to make their stay enjoyable and safe.

While I was on the island, winds howling around me and rain lashing out, international newspapers were writing about how ‘the hotspot holiday destination for many, especially honeymooners is being threatened by a very strong cylone which is very likely to cause extensive damage ‘

Reading the news did not help. The whole family was beyond stress.

The metal poles for the wedding’s marquee were already up, at some point the marquee itself was up but had to be taken down due to the wind.

We stocked up on bottled water and food while the shops were still open, food and knick knacks to last us a few days. It was still very hot and being indoors, with all the windows and doors shut, made it even worse.

The price of the water bottles went up in a matter of a few hours as soon as the cyclone went from a Category 1 to a Category 3. I managed to buy a few only as the shops were out of stock.


Berguitta, the cyclone left after a few days.

I love this corn snack and I got to try South African wine.

Many people’s houses were destroyed, there was flooding in certain areas. The cyclone’s next target was Reunion Island.

On my brother’s side, a few things had to be postponed, a few non major changes, but everything fell into place and the wedding went ahead smoothly, only 2 days after it was all clear. It was such a relief. I have already suggested a name for their child when/if they have a girl. Berguitta will be a perfect name.

While I was in a cyclone in Mauritius, there was a storm as well in England, and I learnt that my garden fences broke. It never ends, does it?

Have you ever experienced something similar while on holiday?

Stay posted on what I did after the wedding, before I had to catch a plane back to Winter in England.

Coming up – A day at the beach, I visited a dormant volcano, Driving along the coast….

 

 

Two Traveling Texans

4 days in Porto, Portugal

Porto, I have now made such good memories with you. I absolutely loved the city and I came home, after 4 days, with wonderful memories and I can honestly say that it was one of my most memorable trips ever. Ok, maybe I say that about all my holidays but Porto, you hold a special place in my heart.

Check the links in red at the end of this to see the amazing street art.

To recap, I went to Porto for a friend’s 40th Birthday. Prior to that, I have to honestly say that I had never heard of Porto before. Now all I talk about is Porto. When choosing a destination, I was disappointed at the choice but the birthday girl chose it as it was a full of culture and history.

To my delight, I recently found a portuguese restaurant in Essex, family owned business and I even got to introduce port wine to my friend, who does not like wine, but now loves port wine.

I stayed at Crowne Plaza Hotel, which is about 20 mins by bus to the old town, which is the main area for the touristic places. I had a Porto travelcard, bought at the airport , which allowed me to use the bus and trains as much as I needed which was very convenient and a good value for money.

I got to the hotel by taking a train from the airport, and once I reached the destination I had to walk about 20 minutes to the hotel. That was why I took the bus for the next few days as the bus stop was just outside the hotel, therefore less to walk.

The people were generally very friendly and helpful. The ones that spoke English were the young ones mainly and they all helped with directions.

The hotel is not in a touristic part, therefore not many people spoke English. American tourists even came to us to ask for directions and help with the bus routes as they heard us speak English. We had communication trouble in a few restaurants, where they could not speak English or French, so we had to google translate everything we wanted to say. Very amusing situations. Now I know how to say butter, chicken, drink and so on in Portuguese.

At one point, we took a taxi, and the driver did not speak English, although he was eager to learn, and he learnt a few words from us. We ended up communicating with him via the concierge at the hotel.

Last holiday, I went to Algarve in Portugal and I did not struggle with communication there as 95% of the staff spoke French, so I was in my element.

What is special about Porto?

  • The River Douro

The river is one of the major ones of the Iberian Peninsula, starting near Soria Province,  flowing through Spain and Porto before it flows into the Atlantic Ocean. It has been said that it is one of Europe’s most photogenic river.
I could not agree more.
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  • The food

Bacalhau is a must. It is the portuguese word for codfish and there are so many ways to prepare it ( grilling, boiling and baking ) so there are a lot of different bacalhau dishes to try.
Francesinha – This is a twist on a classic french sandwich, filled with meats, covered in cheese and sauce.

Salted cod fish
Bacalhau Pasties
Grilled fish with potatoes
  • It’s street art

Every corner I turned, there was something to look at, be it a tiled building, or simply art on the walls.
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  • It’s downhill, uphill alleyways

  • Tiled buildings all over the place

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  • The port wine cellars

I learnt all about the making of port wine, visited the cellars and got to taste it too. IMG_0057IMG_0062

  • Bookstore – Lello Livraria

Harry Potter fans, this is where J.K Rowling got her inspiration for her book. The setting of the library is similar to the setting of Hogwarts. It is also often said that Lello Livrairie is one of the most beautiful libraries in the world.

It is the bridge I needed to cross, to go from the old town to the port wine cellars. It is a double deck metal bridge, similar style to Eiffel Tower, since it was designed by a student of Gustave Eiffel himself. I love bridges and this one is impressive as it is used for both pedestrians and the metro.

  • Porto’s Old Tram

Another way to see the town is by taking the tram which has 3 regular routes. Two pass through the town while one goes along the river Douro.

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Tram
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View from tram
  • Sao Bento Station

One beautiful station. I would happily wait there for my train everyday and gaze at the art work.

Cathedrals and churches

There a lot of churches and cathedrals in Porto, some free and some with an entrance fee. The ones I visited were Palacio da Bolsa, Igreja de San Francisco, Igreja dos Carmelitas and Church of Sao Pedro dos Clerigos.

I even got to see a wedding, well guests of the wedding and a blushing bride.

So these were a few things that I did. There was also free walking tours around the town, which had to be booked in advance. Everywhere I went, I saw walking tours and I did wish I had booked one.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who approach tourists and ask for money. Some of them would spin stories about their sick child, and that it would be really helpful if we could spare a few euros and then you would overhear them spinning a completely different story to another tourist about how they lost their wallet.
It did get uncomfortable at times, to be approached by such people who would follow you around.
Below are some links to places I visited and things I did, in more details or in photos.

Porto Portugal Guide

This post is proud to be part of the following linkups
#citytripping #farawayfiles #theweeklypostcard #followmefriday
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“Untold
Two Traveling Texans

Wine Cellars

I cannot recommend Port Wine Tasting enough. Having read all about the Douro Valley, and it’s magnificent landscape which I unfortunately did not get a chance to visit, I was at least happy that I got to taste Port wine, from grapes grown in the Douro Valley.

I was really surprised at how cheap it was. I have never been to a wine tasting over here in England, but I assumed it was pricey.

The wine cellars are found in Vila Da Gaia, on the other side of the town, and across the Luis Dom Bridge.

I feel proud and at the same time silly to say that throughout the trip, I used only traditional maps to get around, no mobile, no google map.

I managed fine on the bus and around the town, but when it came to crossing the bridge to go to the wine cellar, I got it all wrong.

I am sure my friends and I walked for more than 1 hour to reach our reserved winery, and the funny thing was that when we reached, there was a woman who had collapsed outside the winery.

She had either collapsed due to the journey, or to the fact that she just had the port wine. It could have been us, collapsed outside. It was mostly uphill, and we had no food and drink with us.

There was no shop on the way either where we could buy something to replenish our tired bodies. No taxi, no bus, not one vehicle and no other person either on the way there. We nearly gave up.

We kept walking and walking, and passing lots of wineries, but not the one we were supposed to go to.

Having reached the wine cellar Churchills, we were starved and glad to be able to sit, relax, enjoy a tour of the cellar with explanations on how port wine was made, and of course the sipping of the wine.

When we left, we were so tipsy due to an empty stomach, we had to request a taxi to be called for us, and we went for lunch at a restaurant. I have to say, the young woman was very friendly and she made the visit even more formidable. However we did ask for more biscuits, so as not to get drunk on the wine, but it was not that forthcoming.

So if you book a winery in Vila da Gaia, Porto, take a taxi, or if you fancy walking, wear comfortable shoes and clothes, carry food and drinks, and enjoy the port wine.

Are we nearly there? Where are we?

Shoeburyness, Essex – A Sand & Shingle Beach

I love the sea. I love the blue water, the splashing waves that come crashing against my toes, the sea breeze, and most of all, I love sea shells.

During a sunny weekend, I decided to go check out this beach, as it is about 1 hour away from my house.  Now to go to a beach which is only 1 hour away is a good thing. I am always on the quest to find a nice sandy beach near me. So far the best one I have found is over 3 hours away, in the South of England.

Shoeburyness Beach, also known as Shoebury Common is a sand and shingle beach near Southend, South East Essex.

It was packed with locals.  Southend is always busy, and it is worth going a few minutes away to Shoebury Common Beach. It has a BBQ area, activities including jet sking, kite and wind surfing.

I have always seen beach huts in magazines, photos, postcards and I so loved the look of them.

Imagine my happiness when I saw rows and rows of them at Shoebury Common and at Southend. They all have their own uniqueness, with a special touch from their owners.

Once I left the beach, I drove along the Southend beach/Promenade on the way home. That is another trip for another day, as it was quite late and the british weather stayed true to its nature. It has started pouring down. Typical British Weather.

I really wish I lived near the sea. It brings calmness and peace to my mind and body.

Suitcases and Sandcastles
TravelLatte

 

Stonehenge, World Heritage Site

There is far more to Stonehenge than meets the eye. It seems to be a mere ring of stones, however, it is more or less a ring of mysteries.

Thousand of years ago, an ancient civilisation, or was it aliens, raised a circle of huge rectangular stones in a field, which we now call, Stonehenge. It is one of the best known prehistoric monument in Europe and there are lots of theories surrounding its existence.

I visited the place without any research into it and once there, I was curious and fascinated as to their origin and wanted answers. Lots of questions but no answers.

Now I tremble slightly having read the latest scientific discovery; it seems I stood on an ancient burial ground, complete with mace heads and what not. Underground excavation and imagery have revealed that Stonehenge was once part of a complicated network comprising of burial mounds and unknown settlements.

The other theories include aliens and the wizard Merlin among others.

Once I got there, there was heavy traffic to get into the car park. I was thinking about the residents who live nearby and who had to face the traffic on a daily basis. There were lots of cars with European registrations which suggested that this was a very popular touristic attraction.

Unfortunately, the children and the hubby were not too excited. I was the only one not bored. Once we got out and walked the short distance to the Stone Circle, their excitement increased. From the parking lot, we had to take a visitor shuttle to the stone circle, but there is quite a lot to walk, especially for little feet.
Disappointment followed soon after as I realised that you could not actually go near the stones. You could only go round and stay on the path, away from the stones.

That is understandable as the stones have to be preserved and the only way to do that was to prevent people from touching them. Apparently people even try to cut a piece off while others carve their names on.

Things to do

Stone Circle
It is an amazing experience to be looking at the stone circle. Questions and questions, and lots of them without answers and more questions as I went round the circle.
The amazement of how it was built using bare hands and no machinery and the purpose of it only made me question more. But the why, the reason behind it will always be my first question.

This machine is to give you an idea of how heavy the stone is.
The stone

See the Neolithic houses

Stonehenge Exhibition
One of the highlights of the visit, especially for the children who are not partial to a bit of technology. Here is a few screenshots of what exactly is Stonehenge.

These photos speak a thousand words…

As I went round, these are how the stones looked.

The favourite part of the children’s day- the souvenir shop. As soon as we go to visit somewhere, be it a museum or a theme park, the first thing they want to do is go in the souvenir shop. Now I have this rule of buying only one magnet of each place we visit to avoid clutter at home.

The occasional bear has somehow made its way into my home.

The rest of the souvenir shop, with lots of cute things.

More information about Stonehenge

Click the link above for updated information on Stonehenge but here is a few pointers.

A family of 4-5, with up to 3 children cost around £45.

The place has a cafe, a world class exhibition centre and visitor centre.

It is open daily from 9.30am till 7pm, and it is found in Wiltshire, near Amesbury ( Postcode SP4 7DE )

Have you been to Stonehenge? What do you think of it, and why do you think it was built?

Suitcases and Sandcastles
Two Traveling Texans

Enjoying my garden in the mini heatwave

I always feel like winter is dragging on forever but things are finally looking up, dare a say a few days of sunshine too is on the horizon.

Well, England has seen yesterday it’s hottest April day in 70 years, the temperature being 29 deg. A mini heatwave this week to be followed by a rain and thunder next week.

Needless to say, I have been in the garden since morning, topping up my Vitamin D and putting my washing out.

I cannot sit still. I would sit for 5 minutes, enjoying the peace and sun and then I would run in to get my camera as I have seen something to photograph. There is no lack of inspiration outdoors.

This is my garden and a few others of the children biking around.

 

 

White Cliffs of Dover

Day 1 of my trip to France

Since I had to take the train from Dover, I thought why not go one day early to Dover to visit the cliffs and stay overnight in a hotel to be on time to catch the early train the next day. That way I did not have to leave the house at 4 in the morning, since I live about 4 hours drive from Dover.

I have always wanted to visit the cliffs of Dover which are the most famous symbol of the Chanel port in Kent. They form part of the English coastline facing the Straits of Dover and France. The cliffs face a symbol of home and war but also a stunning view as it’s made up of white chalk.

You can have a peaceful walk looking at the sea, or watch the busy port with their large ships making their way in or from France. On a clear day, you can see France but it was foggy when I was there.

I have a lot of friends’ photos and online ones of the cliffs but being there in person, just like with everything else, is even more exciting.

There is parking spaces on both sides as soon as you get in but if you keep going, it will take you to even more parking spaces, far from the madness near the entrance and less to walk to the cliffs.

I went on a bank holiday Monday and I did not think it would be that busy. I was obviously very wrong. Just like me, everyone travelling from Dover or into Dover were there to see the cliffs especially as it was warm and sunny.

We got a map from the Souvenir/cafe shop and discovered the long trail along the cliffs had 4 different routes.

  • Cliff Edge Route

  • Viewpoint walk (20 minutes)

  • Walking route to lighthouse (50 minutes)
  • Walking route to Fan Bay Shelter (40 minutes ) tickets have to be booked and bought for this one

We did a bit of the Cliff Edge route which joins the viewpoint walk at some point.

The cliff edge route is pretty risky for small children who like to run about. The husband who is scared of heights held on to my daughter. Who held on to who, I wonder. I tried to take some photos while making sure I was aware of where my son was. He is not a small child but he was into climbing the sides to get chalk. I had to keep saying that he can get chalks from the lower sides too.

The Busy Port

More about the Cliffs of Dover

Fifi and Hop
California Globetrotter

Road Trip to France

Trip to Disneyland Paris, France

It was my first road trip to Europe, driving from Port of Dover in Uk to Port of Calais in France, and then heading to Paris, Disneyland.

I now realise that it would have been maybe easier and less stressful to go by the Eurostar train from London to Paris and it stops right outside the Disney Village. Very convenient.

This is something I learnt when I researched and booked my trip to Disneyland. To be honest I was not aware of the train that transports vehicles. I thought there were only 3 ways of getting to France from Uk. One is flying there. The second one is taking the Eurostar train from london. And the third option is to take the  ferry from Dover Port to Calais. You can take your car/motorbike etc on the ferry.

Little did I know that I could take my car on the train, called Le Shuttle. This is at Dover Port, just at a different entrance to the ferry.

The cost would have ended up being slightly more expensive, but with less stress.

I ended up taking up car insurance to drive in Europe, breakdown cover in Europe, paid for the Eurotunnel train, fuel for the car and all those added up, slightly cheaper than the Eurostar tickets.

However, despite the stress of worrying about the car being ok ( I have been having problems with the wheel ) the road trip was worth it. Now the husband has a list of European countries he wants to drive to.

Driving to Disneyland gave us more flexiblity to manage our time, to get down wherever we wanted, to explore anything on the way and we love road trips anyway. We got to see the landscape of France. At times I would forget I was in France, the greenery is the same everywhere, but then I was reminded of where I was when I saw something like this.

This is the moment we get into France territory, while still on Uk land,  where they check the passports. It was pretty straightforward, and quick although there was a queue forming for one of the earliest Eurotunnel train to France.

This is me driving my car into the train itself.

Inside the train

We reached France in 30 minutes and once on land, the exit is onto the motorway, which is easy for me as I am used to driving on the right hand side of the road while in France it is on the left hand side.

No worries at this instant as being on the motorway is handy, not having to deal with oncoming traffic.

One thing to remember is to overtake on the left, and move back to the right lane. I was very impressed with the way people use the left lane only to overtake and straight away move back to the right hand side lane. The overtaking lane was empty except for the occasional overtaker. No one hogs the overtaking lane.

Imagine the excitement bubbling in the car. The excitement started once we got out of the tunnel and once we hit the motorway in France, it died down a bit until we started seeing directions to the park.

Are we there yet?

In England, when I go for road trips or long journeys, I always end up going thru Drive Thru at a Burger King, McDonalds and always stop at service stations.

In France I could not help noticing that there was no fast food outlet, and no service stops either. I noticed a stop by park, with trees and benches, very nice.

Halfway there, we stopped for some food and rest when we found somewhere.

This is Calais Port, where we had to try the French Burger King, especially after a 3-4 hours drive from Paris.

My stay at Disneyland Hotel

 

TravelLatte

Disneyland Hotel, Paris

Disneyland Paris’  25th Anniversary

The hotel I stayed in is right at the entrance of the park. One of the huge benefits of staying in the 5 star luxurious hotel was that after watching the fireworks at 11pm, I got to walk to the exit, and went up straight to my room. With two tired, slightly grumpy children, it was a huge bonus.

The hotel is everything you imagine it to be. It is beautiful, with Disney features all over the place. Everything screams Disney.

There is the huge staircase, where little girls in princess’ outfits were being photographed. Needless to say, I had one of those too, for myself and for my daughter; my daughter in her princess dress and one of me in my long summer dress, the nearest I got to a princess dress.

Our classic room had the same wardrobe as in Beauty and the Beast, well, according to the children. I would not have been surprised if it started singing and talking. That would have been the icing on the cake.

The staff are like everyone elsewhere, some are super nice, friendly and helpful and the rest are grumpy and behave like they really do not want to be there. Booking shows was complicated, well booking it was easy but what followed was complicated.

At the entrance, the valet staff bring all the luggage in and they were one of the happiest, friendliest people around. The excitement of entering the hotel starts with them, sharing their happiness with us.

There are a few restaurants and shops within the hotel. There is also characters meet and greet outside the restaurants in the morning and the evening.

We would spend a few hours in the park before heading back to the hotel for a rest and shower. I reserved two restaurants within the hotel, Inventions and California Grill to eat at in the evenings, as it was so convenient to just leave the room and walk 5 minutes to the restaurants.

In the morning, we ate at Inventions where there was a a character meet and greet everyday. Something to get the children excited.

It was warm and sunny on all the days, so we gave the indoor heated pool a miss.

Waffles with Hazelnut Chocolate spread and Strawberries

I love good food, especially those that can be prepared and cooked easily and quickly.

I have to say, this waffles dish is phenomenal. I wonder why I have never tried this desert before. So easy and quick.

At first I was not even sure if it was supposed to be a breakfast or desert but I decided on the latter. It was after dinner and I could not wait till morning to try the waffles. Morning is written on the box of waffles.

This is so simple to prepare, yet the combination of strawberries, the waffle itself and the hazelnut chocolate spread is phenomenal.

Did I mention this desert is phenomenal.

The waffles can be shop bought. I bought mine as frozen as they last longer and they taste as good as the fresh ones.

Pop them in the grill or toaster for a few minutes, spread the chocolate and enjoy with fresh strawberries.

Disneyland Paris – France

I did it. I went to France.

I have lived in England for over 18 years and yet this was the first time I was going to France. I have visited other countries but somehow, I kept flying over France and kept postponing my trip there.

Cote D’Azure, Nice, Paris and other pretty places are on my wish list, but this time, it was off to Disneyland first.

The children were old enough to remember this trip and young enough to still like Disney stuff. Well, we are never too old to go to Disneyland.

I get it now, why they all say that you become a child again at this magical place. I did indeed become a kid again, especially when you have never been to somewhere like Disneyland when you were a child.

Dare I say I was more excited than the children and I cannot forget the look on other diners’ face, wondering if I was ok, when Mickey came to meet us. I was literally jumping up and down with a huge grin. I never thought someone in a Mickey costume could bring out the kid in me.

Now that I have done this, I do not want to go to DisneyWorld in America just yet.

I came home with very good memories, but I also captured the good and the bad.

I remember looking at the options of visiting the park a few years ago, and I could not decide what was the best one.

Do I drive, fly or take a train to Paris? How long to stay for? Are 2 days enough, 3 days? Which hotel to stay in? How long does it take to get from the hotel to the park?

All these questions and no answers. I simply could not decide. The children were small at that time, so I was not sure if it would a great idea to stay in a hotel far from the park, but also staying near was more expensive.

In the end I went to a travel agent which came highly recommended. I had done my research online and decided which hotel to go for, one in the village which fitted in my budget.  To my surprise, for the same price I was offered a deal which did not go over my budget and which included the Disneyland Hotel.

I stayed for 3 nights and 4 days, which was all the time I needed there. I could not have done another day of Disneyland. I also ended up driving there, from England.  So it was a 2 in 1, a road trip to France, and a trip to Disneyland.

Read more about my little adventure –

 

So excited about Spring

The sun is out, it is not even that cold outside.
It’s colder indoors than outdoors. And it is my first time in the garden since last year, maybe since October/December.
Spring symbolises new life and here are a few of the photos I took of the plants in my garden, symbolising new life.


I am looking forward to longer days, days spent in the garden, in the sun, and of course good food ( already salivating thinking of grilled fish and vegetables with a cold fresh fruit juice…or a cold cider )  and good company.
Are you as excited as me about spring, good and warm weather?
Photos of My Garden

Oldhouseintheshires

 

Science Museum London, with the children

Science Museum, Kensington London
It’s the Easter Holidays.
And my first time travelling on my own with the children on the trains and the London underground. The London Underground, also known as the tubes, is always so packed that I have never felt confident to travel with the children on my own.
Now that they are older, it was much easier and also fun as they helped me navigate the London underground tube map.
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We had to change trains/tubes a few times to get to our destination, South Kensington, where the Science Museum is located.
We were all so very excited about the whole trip. The tubes were packed as expected, and had to miss a few as we all could not get in. It was an interesting experience. I made sure the children held my hand and I did not take my eyes off them at the stations.
I had packed some sandwiches, cereal bars, fruits and water, which turned out to be really handy as the children got hungry as soon as we reached the museum.
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The cafes/restaurants inside the museum were full, and I was glad I had my own sandwiches. On the way back, I had planned to try out a nearby restaurant.
The place is certainly very interesting. There is a lot to see, maybe too much. My 8 year old was tired whilst still on the groundfloor and there were another 3 floors to go.
The few things they both enjoyed were the galleries, the Who Am I, Exploring space, Making the Modern World.
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Energy Hall

By the time we got to Level 2, I was thinking of calling it a day and make our way back to Home Sweet Home, but the children got some rest here and quite enjoyed the interactive gallery of Atmosphere.
They loved having to think about things like ” Should we engineer the climate “.
Somehow we never made it to Level 3, as I did not know there was one until much later when I got the chance to look at the map ( the map that I had in my hands, and carried around with me ) I also just found out that there was a basement floor too.
I would love to see the things I have missed so maybe another trip is on the card.
On the way to the station, the underpass which had led us to the museum straight from the station was closed. So I was lost for about 30 minutes, trying to find a tube station.  It was a very nice day, with the sun shining, ( In UK, warm weather and the sun shining is a big deal for some, like me ) so walking around Kensington was a bonus. We got to watch a bubble show, a strange but interesting bubbles show.
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I write for my pleasure, to capture those simple moments and to share my photos. As much as I love reading travel journals like this, I hope mine too can bring some pleasure /help /provide some information to someone else.
My photos of the Science Museum
My Photos of London

TravelLatte

 

2 Days in London

Day 1
Aboard the Sightseeing Bus
I have been to London countless of times and I never tire of it, with its endless strings of attractions. There is something for everyone.
I have always walked from place to place, and use the bus or the tube. The tube is very convenient, with a tube station at every corner and so easy to use and get from one place to another quickly.  The map looks complicated for the first timers but once you try it, it is straighforward. This is coming from me, who has no sense of direction, but I can honestly say that I can use those tube and bus maps. Tube Map
This time, I gave the tour bus a go, or rather I was ropped into this, but I have no regrets. I fact I enjoyed it so much that I plan to take the children on the hop on hop off bus during the Summer holidays or when I get a chance.
My friend was on a solo trip to Europe and London being one of her destinations, she came to stay with me. I accompanied her to London, being one to never miss an opportunity to visit the famous city. She had her route mapped and had done all her research prior to her travels. And she was adamant in using a hop on hop off London bus tour. Personally, having walked around London so many times before, I found the bus tour. As much as I love being a tourist in London, I also live in a little countryside town not far from London and I found the ticket quite steep.
But I gave in, as I thought why not. She had been on hop on hop off buses throughout cities in Europe and quite enjoyed it.
Being in January, right in the middle of Winter, the bus tour company had deals on and we paid for the bus tour and received a complimentary hop on hop off River Thames Sightseeing Cruise.

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View from the river

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View from the river

                                                                                                                                                               The bonus was that the tickets were valid for two days.
I loved the guide bus, maybe because it was cold and it was so good not having to walk round the city. From the top deck, I also got a different view of London which I never saw before.


I liked all the architectural details on buildings and I got the chance to see them from a higher ground.
I would highly recommend taking the sightseeing bus tour.                                                      It was confusing at first, to know which company we had bought the tickets from and to only look for its bus and which stop we had to wait at. But once we got on and off a few times, we had worked it out.
We got in the bus in the late afternoon and half way during our ride, it got dark.  It was very nice to see London at night as well as during daylight.
The commentary, available in various languages was so informative and I learnt one thing or two about London’s history, buildings and statues.
Hahn/Cock is a sculpture of a giant blue cockerel by the German artist Katharina Fritsch.  It is found in Trafalgar Square.
London5
London Newspapers
London8
London – My Photo Gallery
This post is part of the following Link ups –
City Tripping by MummyTravels and Wander Mum
& The Weekly Postcard

MummyTravels

 

Two Traveling Texans

Spring

After bleak days, cold, grey and dark, it looks like the good weather is here, the sun is shining and soon I will forget all about those winter days. Spring, the season of Hope.
Unfortunately sunny weather means more washing for me, as I could spend all my days putting my washing up on the line outside. Which means I can wash clothes all day, my washing machine does not get a rest and my ironing pile never ends. But at least I always have clean clothes.
 


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Spinach and Thyme Bread – It smells good and taste good