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Category Archives: Living in Europe

We’ve just passed the one year mark of living in England. The summer is winding to a close with surprising warm summer days book-ended by chilly fall mornings, and the sounds of the birds in the morning is changing from enthusiastic to communicative.

As we settle into our second fall here in Great Britain, I am finally finding time to tell you about our summer. I was going to say that it was pretty quiet, which in a way it was, but as I started looking through all of our summer photos I realized we have had quiet an adventurous summer. We spent all of July and August in England – Kyle has been hard at work with long hours and lots of headaches, so I’ve been spending every minute with the kids. Watching Roux grow (far too fast), watching Lulu kick off the last bits of toddler-hood and become a full fledged kid, and watching Gigi learn to read, write in cursive, and ride laps around us on her bike. It’s been a couple months full of little things, which are the best things, really. But we’ve managed to spend nearly every weekend exploring this part of the country and it makes all those long hours and headaches worth it.

By far our favorite things to do here involve our new membership to the National Trust. We joined after being prompted by a few people to do so and for our whole family it cost just £114 for a whole year. It gets us into all kind of amazing gardens, homes, free parking… the benefits are endless and there are so many incredible places we can’t wait to explore. Even if you find yourself just traveling in England for a few weeks with a rental car, it would be worth joining! Next on my list is to join the English Heritage which covers more places! Anyway, as I was saying, our favorite thing to do is to pack up a little picnic and set off to explore some place close by – the pictures really give an abbreviated version of these places as I could talk and write about them forever.

We love skipping rocks on the lake and walking the paths in Tisbury. On this particular trip Kyle was about halfway through reading the first Harry Potter book to Gigi so we collected sticks and set off through the woods casting spells and getting stung by nettles…

expat living in englandPINexpat living in englandPINexpat living in englandPINexpat living in englandPINliving in englandPINliving in englandPINMy friend, Jo, brought her wonderfully silly boys over for a couple of summery picnics at the local church where we love to go for quick, easy, but still marvelously charming outings…

expat living in englandPINWe have passed quite a few lazy hours and days at the local u-pick gather vegetables, playing in the tire swing with paper towel telescopes, and picking/eating our weight in berries…

expat living in englandPINexpat living in englandPINexpat living in englandPINWe spend just about every weekend exploring the incredible curated gardens of England like this one at West Green House. And, even after getting caught in a really stupendous downpour on this trip, we still never remember to pack our raincoats…

west green house gardenPINwest green house garden englandPINwest green house gardenPINwest green house garden englandPIN

The kids and I visited Basildon Park and House which was used to “play” Netherfield Park in the 2005 Pride and Prejudice. The grounds were huge, with lots of places for the kids to explore, and the house was incredible…

basildon park house national trustPINbasildon park house national trustPINbasildon park house national trustPINWe made a trek out to Stourhead house and gardens and were seriously in awe. We didn’t allow ourselves nearly enough time to fully explore this spectacular place. Part of the grounds and the pantheon were also used in the 2005 Pride and Prejudice. We brought a picnic and ate it in the field behind the house, walked part of the trails, and headed back for a quick tour of the house before we had to leave. We will be back very soon…stourhead park garden national trustPINstourhead park garden national trustPINstourhead park garden national trustPINstourhead park garden national trustPIN

Other than that I’ve just been spending all my time loving these people…

expat living in englandPINexpat living in englandPINliving in englandPINexpat living in englandPINexpat living in englandPIN

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I never mean for so much time to pass before and between posting, but summer swoops by so fast, even when it feels like you have no plans at all. Our summer started off with big adventures to Austria, and then to Belgium and Amsterdam! Since returning from our big adventures we’ve spent the last month just puttering around England. Saving our pennies, or pence as it were, for more big adventures down the road. So here I am, finally sharing some photos, probably too many photos, from our trip to Belgium and Amsterdam.

We opted to drive to Amsterdam, where Kyle had work for a week, rather than flying or taking the train and I’m so glad we did. I’m a big fan of any road trip, and especially one that traverses three fantastic European countries. We set off from the ferry docks in Dover, waved goodbye to the White Cliffs, and watched the green sea water turn to deep blue as we headed for Calais, France. After disembarking from the ferry, we drove north into Belgium, stopping along the coast and making it to our final stop just outside of Bruges around bedtime.

traveling with kids belgium bruges ghentPINtraveling with kids belgium bruges ghentPINKyle and I first visited Bruges several years ago when we backpacked around Europe and we couldn’t wait to return. It is an incredibly charming, if slightly over-crowded little city. Our first stop was getting the Belgian waffles for breakfast, which had the girls declaring that it was “the best day, ever” before 10am. We spent the day wandering around before ending the day with cups full of gelato which, if the waffles hadn’t done it, fixed it as the best day ever in their books. They still compare our days to that day, as in, “Well, it’s still not as good as the waffle and gelato day….”. Fair enough.

traveling with kids belgium bruges ghentPINtraveling with kids belgium bruges ghentPINtraveling with kids belgium bruges ghentPINPINWe spent the following day exploring Ghent, which came highly recommended by a few friends, and I’m so glad we did because we absolutely loved it. It was similar to Bruges with it’s charming canals, waffles, and gelato, but it was much quieter and possibly even more lovely. We wandered the streets, toured the castle, ate sandwiches and sipped beer. So, if you were to ask me rather than the kids, I might call that the best day ever.

traveling with kids belgium bruges ghentPINAfter a long, hot, wonderful day in Ghent we climbed into the car and drove north past Antwerp, past Amsterdam, and into the northern part of Holland. We stopped and slept at an AirBnB (well, technically we stopped at the one we had booked and it was truly awful and somehow we managed to get another one at 9:30pm close by – which was a miracle as we were in the middle of nowhere). In the morning we got up early, had breakfast with our host, and headed to explore Kolhorn – a quiet, little town on the water. It was Fathers’ Day so we stopped and had the most delicious apple pie that was really more like apple-almond cake before driving slowly down to Amsterdam.

traveling with kids amsterdam netherlandsPINtraveling with kids amsterdam netherlandsPINtraveling with kids amsterdam netherlandsPINWe spent a whole week in Amsterdam staying with a friend from childhood and her family. They graciously invited our little tribe into their gorgeous home in the middle of the city and we got busy exploring in the big heat wave that took over Europe that week. We walked and walked and walked all over Amsterdam; we ate and ate and ate all over Amsterdam. The cities sidewalks were in full bloom with hollyhocks and roses, the parks were teaming with people to observe, and the café tables were begging to be filled with cold beer, rosé, and fries. Kyle spent most of the week working, so the kids and I found our own rhythm which mostly went: breakfast, park to people watch and paint, lunch, getlato, park to people watch and paint, bed.

traveling with kids amsterdam netherlandsPINtraveling with kids amsterdam netherlandsPINtraveling with kids amsterdam netherlandsPINtraveling with kids amsterdam netherlandsPINtraveling with kids amsterdam netherlandsPINtraveling with kids amsterdam netherlandsPINtraveling with kids amsterdam netherlandsPINtraveling with kids amsterdam netherlandsPINtraveling with kids amsterdam netherlandsPINtraveling with kids amsterdam netherlandsPINtraveling with kids amsterdam netherlandsPINAfter a wonderful week in Amsterdam we decided, somewhat at the last minute, to spend another day, and a night, in Ghent before ferrying back home to England. We spent the day taking a canal tour, getting lost, having lunch, and exploring before driving to Dunkirk, where we spent a short night before catching the ferry back to England. This trip, full of picnics and sunshine and hours in the car with the windows down felt longer than it’s ten days.

traveling with kids belgium bruges ghentPINtraveling with kids belgium bruges ghentPINtraveling with kids belgium bruges ghentPINtraveling with kids belgium bruges ghentPINtraveling with kids belgium bruges ghentPINtraveling with kids belgium bruges ghentPINtraveling with kids belgium bruges ghentPINtraveling with kids belgium bruges ghentPINtraveling with kids belgium bruges ghentPINWe were happy to get home, and it’s felt so much like fall ever since; so all of summer 2017 for me will be forever wrapped up in that one European road trip.

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We spent a week in Austria at the end of May, and now as we are packing up for a week in Belgium and the Netherlands, I thought I’d share a few photos from our trip to Salzburg. Our close friends from Oregon were camped out in Salzburg for over a month so it gave us the perfect excuse to hop on a short flight to visit them. It was wonderful to see “old” friends.

Kyle and I spent a few days in Salzburg in our early twenties, but I hardly remembered just how magical a city it is. It was a wonderful place to be with the kids. It’s a small enough city that you can cover it easily by foot and there were great park tucked all over the city… plus having kids gave me an excuse to belt out tunes from The Sound of Music all over town.

SALZBURG AUSTRIA TRAVELING WITH KIDSPINTRAVELING SALZBURG AUSTRIAPINSALZBURG AUSTRIA TRAVELING WITH KIDSPINTRAVELING SALZBURG AUSTRIAPINTRAVELING SALZBURG AUSTRIAPINTRAVELING WITH KIDS SALZBURG AUSTRIAPINTRAVELING SALZBURG AUSTRIAPINTRAVELING WITH KIDS SALZBURG AUSTRIAPINTRAVELING WITH KIDS SALZBURG AUSTRIAPINTRAVELING WITH KIDS SALZBURG AUSTRIAPINTRAVELING WITH KIDS SALZBURG AUSTRIAPINTRAVELING WITH KIDS SALZBURG AUSTRIAPINTRAVELING WITH KIDS SALZBURG AUSTRIAPINWe spent one big morning taking the cable car up to Untersberg and then hiking the last bit to the top of the mountaintop for a seriously spectacular panoramic view. The kids were all a bit grumpy by the time we made it to the top, but some gummy bear bribery helped. I didn’t take too many photos at the top since we were busy making sure no tiny people tried to ski down from the top.

TRAVELING WITH KIDS SALZBURG AUSTRIAPINTRAVELING WITH KIDS SALZBURG AUSTRIAPINTRAVELING WITH KIDS SALZBURG AUSTRIAPINTRAVELING WITH KIDS SALZBURG AUSTRIAPINWhile we were in Austria, Lulu turned four! We loaded up for her birthday day and took the train to Hallstatt. To get to Hallstatt from Salzburg involved taking a train to a boat to get across the lake to the beautiful little town of Hallstatt. It’s picturesque from the boat, but once you’re in the (adorable) little town you can barely move as their are so many tourists! Kyle and I both hate being in crowds like that, so we made our way out to the edge of town, called a cab, and escaped around the bend to Obertraun. Obertraun was quiet as can be, we had a whole cafe to ourselves with a view of a park. The girls played on the playground and came back for bites of birthday cake now and then. It was a long, lovely day.

TRAVELING WITH KIDS HALLSTATT AUSTRIAPINTRAVELING WITH KIDS Obertraun AUSTRIAPINTRAVELING WITH KIDS Obertraun AUSTRIAPINTRAVELING WITH KIDS Obertraun AUSTRIAPINTRAVELING WITH KIDS Obertraun AUSTRIAPINTRAVELING WITH KIDS Obertraun AUSTRIAPINWe had a few more days to explore Salzburg, including a visit to the Hohensalzburg Castle, and a couple visits to the Augustiner Bräu (brewery), and a few key Sound of Music tourism spots along the way. A week was the perfect amount of time for our trip, although I wouldn’t have argued about staying another week there.

TRAVELING WITH KIDS SALZBURG AUSTRIAPINTRAVELING WITH KIDS SALZBURG AUSTRIAPINTRAVELING WITH KIDS SALZBURG AUSTRIAPINTRAVELING WITH KIDS SALZBURG AUSTRIAPINTRAVELING WITH KIDS SALZBURG AUSTRIAPINTRAVELING WITH KIDS SALZBURG AUSTRIAPINTRAVELING WITH KIDS SALZBURG AUSTRIAPIN

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We have four pages filled with places we’d like to see in England alone. There is so much to do and so much to see. We are countryside people, and our adventures tend to take us further out away from London and into the lush green countryside. It’s so picturesque that I can hardly stop myself from gasping and grabbing for my camera; the soft rolling hills, the bleating sheep and lambs that speckle them, the yellow flowers that cover vast areas of farmland creating a bright ochre blanket that spans for miles. We always take backroads and find that adding ten minutes to our drive frequently results in magical views and “pull the car over!” moments.

Mostly we’ve been traveling close by where we are living in Berkshire. We spent one Saturday exploring Tisbury and Shaftesbury, including a wonderful countryside walk (my favorite thing about England), and an incredibly lunch at The Beckford Arms. Country walks on public footpaths take you through fields of sheep, into bright green woods, and across little bridges. Every place we go, I don’t want to leave. I find myself looking wistfully in the review mirror as we drive away, longing to go back.

trip to tisbury shaftesbury englandPINtrip to tisbury shaftesbury englandPINtrip to tisbury shaftesbury englandPINtrip to tisbury shaftesbury englandPINtrip to tisbury shaftesbury englandPINtrip to tisbury shaftesbury englandPINtrip to tisbury shaftesbury englandPINtrip to tisbury shaftesbury englandPINtrip to tisbury shaftesbury englandPINtrip to tisbury shaftesbury englandPINtrip to tisbury shaftesbury englandPINtrip to tisbury shaftesbury englandPINtrip to tisbury shaftesbury englandPINThe following weekend, after our trip to Tisbury and Shaftesbury, we loaded up for another day trip to the Cotswolds. This time we knew to call ahead to book a table at a popular pub called The Fox at Oddington, and we headed straight there to eat before we explored Upper and Lower Slaughter. The two small villages are connected by a walking path that was perfect for the kids.

THE COTSWOLDS TRAVELING ENGLANDPINTHE COTSWOLDS TRAVELING ENGLANDPINTHE COTSWOLDS TRAVELING ENGLANDPINTHE COTSWOLDS TRAVELING ENGLANDPINTHE COTSWOLDS TRAVELING ENGLANDPINTHE COTSWOLDS TRAVELING ENGLANDPINTHE COTSWOLDS TRAVELING ENGLANDPINTHE COTSWOLDS TRAVELING ENGLANDPINTHE COTSWOLDS TRAVELING ENGLANDPINTHE COTSWOLDS TRAVELING ENGLANDPIN

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Springtime in the English countryside has been absolutely spectacular. It feels reminiscent of our home in the Pacific Northwest weather-wise, and we’ve been taking full advantage of every “partly sunny” day. This week has settled in with a bit of rain and a biting breeze so we’re sipping tea, spring cleaning, and catching up on all sorts of things. You would think that, having moved away from all our stuff, we wouldn’t have anything to spring clean. But nine months into our time here and we have a garage filled with things for donation. We recently discovered that the local church where we go to nature journal, explore, and picnic is where three of the original Salvation Army founders are buried which makes me hopeful that I can find a Salvation Army soon to donate a lot of our accumulated stuff on to.

At the start of April we met our friends from Oxford for something called Lambing Weekend which seems to be a popular thing around here, and I can see why. It essentially involved spending a few hours wandering around a local farm petting and holding baby lambs, admiring piglets, buying some early spring vegetables from the farm shop, eating food and drinking coffee. I could do this every single weekend and never tire of it, which leads me to believe that my long harbored dream of having a little farm of my own is something I should seriously pursue.

SPRING LAMBING WEEKEND ENGLANDPINSPRING LAMBING WEEKEND ENGLANDPINSPRING LAMBING WEEKEND ENGLANDPINSPRING LAMBING WEEKEND ENGLANDPINSPRING LAMBING WEEKEND ENGLANDPINSPRING LAMBING WEEKEND ENGLANDPINSPRING LAMBING WEEKEND ENGLANDPINRight now things feel so good here; something I doubted would happen in the first months we spent trying to settle in. The list of frustrations and things we miss is slowly fading, and the list of things we love and are going to miss is growing steadily. The girls do ballet and gymnastics, we do our homeschool work, and we try to get out and adventure every weekend. We have started playing with watercolor painting, and we are quickly becoming avid nature journalers. In the midst of our activities Baby Roux keeps growing (far too quickly), Gigi keeps loosing teeth and slowly transforming into a proper kid, and Lulu keeps being Lulu – that is to say a feisty, magical, hilarious tot-kid.

ENGLAND SPRINGPINENGLAND SPRINGPINENGLAND SPRINGPINENGLAND SPRINGPINENGLAND SPRINGPINENGLAND SPRINGPINENGLAND SPRINGPINENGLAND SPRINGPINMy Mom and her boyfriend came to visit mid-April for a week and it was wonderful to have family around! We had a wonderful time inviting them into our home, hosting meals, and showing them around our favorite places. We spend most of our time here walking around lakes, wandering footpaths, checking in on the local cows, staring at Roux, and picnicking at our favorite little local church so we brought them along on all of those activities. My Mom is a wonderful watercolor painter and she brought the girls watercolor “crayons” and small watercolor journals which they love. When we’re out and about they draw in them, and then paint over their drawings with water when we get home. She did some watercolor lessons with the girls during the day, and some with me at night after the kids were in bed, and helped me pick out some quality watercolor supplies for my new hobby.

spring in englandPINspring in englandPINnature journalingPINnature journalingPINspring in englandPINspring in englandPINspring in englandPINspring in englandPINnature journaling spring in englandPINnature journaling spring in englandPINspring in englandPINspring in englandPINspring in englandPINThe month of May shows no signs of slowing down. Kyle is hard at work and we’re trying to form and keep a balance of everyone’s needs. We have a trip to Salzburg, Austria planned where we’ll get to spend some wonderful days in the company of good friends from back home. Lulu will turn four this month, Roux will be five months old, and I’ll be trying not to cry over how fast they’re growing up. With life flying by, I’m finding it hard to carve out time to write here, but you can follow along on Instagram too, where I keep things more up to date and in the moment.

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