Archive for the ‘Norah and Papa’ Category

We left 26 books in the lounge at Blarney Camping Ground and that was only about a third of what we’ve accumulated since we had the camper.  We have to swap campers again on Friday and it is very stressful swapping over, but I was quite impressed by how many books we actually get through on our travels! Bede did retrieve one he thought Emmett wasn’t quite done with, but mostly they’ve become resigned to being unable to carry all the best books they’ve read around with us.  They are very much looking forward to having a home base again in a few months and being able to have more than one book at a time and a few precious toys with them.

Athenry was the next stop after Blarney, where it was very special to meet my90year old Great-uncle Paddy for the first time and stay with his very friendly daughter Patricia and her family. The kids truly thought they’d found heaven, playing with the toys Liam and Catherine has stowed in the attic!  My mother took us to see the wonderful house my Pop grew up in, now an abandoned farmhouse,our boys felt we should stay there forever! We also saw the homes and birthplaces of generations of my family. Climbing over the stile my great, great grandmother used was pretty special, especially for us Pakeha Kiwis with a history only 150 years old in our own country.

We spent a day at the Corrandulla Fair seeing the cows that really do have those big behinds like in old paintings and entering “how many pages” competitions and the like.  We also shared a lovely meal with Noreen and John, whose daughter Sile (my second cousin) I was pen-pals with as a kid.

We headed into the Burren next, venturing into Ailwee caves and seeing 5000 year old Irish tombs that pre-date the pyramids.  The kids loved standing in a ruined ring fort and imagining living there.  The Cliffs of Moher were breathtaking even on a misty afternoon(although the 8 euro parking charge was nearly as breathtaking…).  Tonight we are camping by Newgrange and planning to explore this monument in the morning.  The boys are even managing to come out of their “over-templed” haze to appreciate that these monuments are our family history! 

We head to France on Saturday so we’ve got lots to fit into our last couple of days in Ireland and goodbyes to say to Norah and Papa till we see them again in New Zealand in 2.5 months!


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I’ve been so busy enjoying Ireland I haven’t been writing much for our watchers!  We spent our first few days here staying with my grandmother’s cousin Pat in Ashbourne.  We’d met some of his 11 kids during their NZ travels and it was nice to catch up with them again and meet some of the others and their kids.  Emmett and Airmid turned out to be the same age and had a fantastic time.

We explored the National Botanic Gardens in Dublin and had fish and chips on the beach at Skerries, where the kids even had a swim as we managed to arrive during a very hot week for Ireland.  It was special for us to enjoy Skerries which was somewhere my grandmother loved.

From Dublin we headed down the coast through Wicklow and Arklow to Wexford, where we’ve been camped on the seafront for three days now, only a short walk over the bridge to a lovely town with lots of interesting boutiques and a lovely walk along the water front.  Leah and Anna had a lovely evening out while the grandparents had the grandchildren last night.  (We heard this morning that figuring out the carseat straps and the fold down bed in the camper in our absence was somewhat problematic…) We had a swim in the newly opened pool today – compulsory swimming caps and all and Leah, Emmett and Florence have all got new shoes having worn their others out on this “seeing the world” trip.

Norah and Martin have headed away to have a couple of days break while we are planning to kiss the Blarney stone tomorrow and head towards Athenry to meet more of our Irish relatives.

Impressions of Ireland: we’ve very much enjoyed meeting family here, we are incredulous at the cost of living, 4 euros ($8) to wash a load of laundry! our supermarket shops here are costing about double what they did in London.  There’s lots of people who look remarkably like my brothers here!

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I saw Iron man 2 with Papa my mother’s would not have taken me!

It was cool.

We are in Ireland, it is green.  We are staying with Pat my great grandmother’s cousin outside Dublin.  He has 11 kids some of them came around today.  Florence has some new pyjamas.

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Norah and Papas GPS stinks, papa calls it Rachel and on a bad day he doesn’t listen to Norah or Rachel and we end up in the mountains not at the beach.  We are at a camping ground for 2 nights and it has a pretty cool playground and is right beside a rocky beach.  We went to a farm with lots of rabbits and it has a goat that I fed milk so it was a baby.

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Blanco the white VW is a hit with our family!  No more hitches in our travels.  Pity about the trebling in cost involved in hiring rather than buying our camper, but we are all agreed we still like the lifestyle.  We’ve had two night camping in Wales.  First in Bala, where we took a train ride in a steam train round Lake Bala and watched people braver than us swimming in the chilly water – we’ve been spoiled by Asian and African beaches with very warm water.  Emmett made friends with James and was off as soon as we arrived.

Last night we stayed at the gorgeous Valley of the Rocks campsite at Holyhead.  We were a little nervous about getting to the ferry on time having taken three hours to pack up the awning and camp beds yesterday, but we were a streamlined team this morning and had no trouble being at the ferry by 830am.  Emmett, Florence and I walked a couple of miles last night to find the beach, which we could see from the campsite but not reach by going through the fields.  So we wandered down a little country lane and found a lovely beach.  Emmett built castles and they played in rock pools till Florence fell in and got very cold!  She came home wearing Emmett’s hoodie while he bravely faced the wind in just a t-shirt.

I think we could spend the nest 8 weeks camping in Wales alone – the scenery was stunning.  T

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We visited one of the places on my pre-trip ambitions list today – the Eden project in Cornwall.  http://www.edenproject.com/index.php I wish this connection was good enough to upload photos of the absolutely stunning vegetable gardens.  I want to go home and resurrect mine now.  Norah and I had a lovely day wandering through the gardens.  Bede was impressed by the cashew tree, requiring restraining from picking the fruit – he missed the sign underneath saying that the fruit juice causes severe skin blistering on contact.  There was the most beautiful willow tunnel play area that I would love to have in my back yard, if it didn’t also come with willow roots everywhere!

It was interesting to hear both Bede and Florence (Emmett was not well so stayed home with Leah today) comparing the displays that represented places we’d been in Asia and Africa with the realities they saw there.  The water pump on display to give visitors a chance to try pumping their own water was harder to pump than the ones in Cambodia and Kenya.  The sugar cane truck was a small brightly decorated one, unlike the extremely frightening huge monstrosities that roared past toddlers on the roads in Kenya.  Bede was able to answer lots of the “kids’ trail” questions about staple foods from his experiences in Asia and Africa.

The purpose of the Eden project is to remind us of our dependence on and connection to the natural world.  I can see that our travels have given our children the opportunity to experience this connection very strongly.  It was a good reminder to me, because I often feel that they are missing out on watching the seasons change in our garden and eating food they’ve grown and seeing one community environment throughout the year.  While they are not having this experience for a couple of years they are having other, equally valuable ones that can help them gain similar and also vastly different knowledge about their world.

We have our camper now and will be heading away from our lovely cottage in Devon on Saturday, to explore Cornwall and Wales and then travel to Ireland to meet my extended family with Norah and Papa.  Tomorrow is the day of re-organising our (somewhat expanded by opp shops and car boot sales) gear to fit comfortably into a van for the next ten weeks…

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Today we’re in Devon, in a wee place called Berrynarbor.  Norah and Papa hired a lovely cottage here which is the biggest place we’ve stayed in in the last three months and the space is lovely!  It is also so nice to be in the company of devoted grandparents, Papa took the kids for an early walk this morning and I curled up on the couch with toast, tea and a book – wonderful!

Over the last ten days we have had much difficulty with our campervan plans.  We had arranged to buy a VW camper converted with our very specific instructions regarding seatbelts for the children.  We were only happy to travel in a camper if we felt they were safe (my friends will know how pedantic I am about carseats and seatbelts).  The organising and deposit had been done 6 months ago and we had emailed and phoned two weeks before arriving to check all was going to plan.  We arrived to pick up our camper in Derby by train from London.  The camper guy picked us up and casually mentioned while driving along that our camper was not ready and he would put us up in a hotel overnight.  Next day after multiple delays we eventually got to the caryard.  “Here’s your camper” he said.  Not a VW, not with safe seats and belts, 8 years older than we’d bought…

We have yet to get a straight story form the guy.  We eventually came to an arrangement where he organised us a rental car and we went to meet Norah and Papa in Kent.  On Friday with many assurances that our originally ordered van was now ready we drove back to Derby, thankfully Norah and Papa took our boys on to Devon so it was just Florence and Leah and I.  Again the camper was not ready on Friday night, then was not ready at 9am on Saturday.  We were extremely excited at 1pm when the camper guy finally rolled up in a VW that fitted our order.  Shortlived excitement as the next story was about the engine warning light on the dash that had suddenly appeared as he was driving to us.  So what do you know, we’re now in Devon, still with no camper, debating whether to allow the guy to get the engine fault fixed and bring the camper down to us – no more going to Derby for us! 

We did get a weekend in the unsafe camper in Derbyshire last weekend that convinced the camper lifestyle will be perfect for the next 10 weeks of our adventure.  Pancakes in Sherwood Forest, Bede finally got to have his penne, spinach, cream and pinenuts, we can make a cup of tea anywhere we fancy!  We could buy another camper online but we’d be back at the unsafe seats and belts issue… so we’ll likely give the guy one more chance, in frustration and desperation.  Not to mention the trouble we had with insuring the camper due to his tardiness with engineers reports etc.

In the meantime we truly did have a lovely time in Sherwood Forest, now owning far more wooden bows and arrows and swords than any family needs (especially one with no vehicle to put them in), breakfasting in lovely parks all around Nottingham and Derby, pulling the dodgy camper up on the side of the road for the night as there were no camping grounds with space over the bank holday weekend – the kids absolutely loved it, making us hope very much we can actually get a safe camper for the next few weeks.

In Kent we had a day at Hever Castle, meeting up with my grandmother’s cousin Mary and other family second cousins.  We stayed in a beautiful B+B rather than camping at the rellies place due to the lack of a camper – first B+B experience with the kids and a little terrifying taking our rowdy lot into an immaculate British country house.  They discovered BBC television though – having watched no TV for months, which kept the furniture safe!  I was impressed by the programming too.  Bede shared all our adventures with our hosts and we enjoyed the break.

Most of all it is just lovely to have Norah and Papa with us, the adult : child ratio is so pleasant!  We have missed them so much, Florence is so happy to see they are still with us each time she wakes up! 

We have a week here in Devon, then who knows?  Depending on the camper situation, we intend to head to Ireland next…

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