Round the World with My Family: We’re Off (sort of)

We’re Off

After many months of planning and lots of last minute packing, it feels strange to finally be on our way. We have decided to take a year away to travel round the world as a family, but at the moment the prospect of taking a whole year away hasn’t quite sunk in.

We kicked off our journey with a relatively short trip to see my parents in Devon. We managed to squeeze in a trip to the Donkey Sanctuary at Sidmouth, along with a couple of cakes from Nanny & Granddad’s bakery, before catching a train up to London.

Family Travel Blog - Donkey Sanctuary

This was the first real test of our packing, with all of our stuff needing to be squeezed into travel mode so that we could actually get onto the train without leaving a trail of clothes and soft toys.

A slightly stressful morning revealed that we had in fact packed marginally more than originally intended. This was a foreseen risk, but we’d planned a few gentle weeks at the beginning of our trip to iron out any teething issues. At least that’s how I’m seeing things, whereas I think the rest of my family think I’m simply being ludicrous in demanding that we fit everything for a year into a couple of medium suitcases.

London to Lanzarote

Due to finishing work slightly earlier than expected, we decided to spend a few days sight seeing in London followed by a week doing nothing on the beach in Lanzarote. We will then be making our way out to New Zealand during March, stopping off in Rome, Dubai and Kuala Lumpur on the way.

We are mainly using AirBnB accommodation for our trip, which is so far working out very well. We stayed in a perfectly located flat in central London, just a couple of tube stops from the Science Museum, and our place in Lanzarote was fine as soon as the kids spied the shared pool.

Family Travel Blog Lanzarote

Medical Storytime

However, as you know, life is never entirely straight forward. Our youngest daughter has developed a problem with one of her fingers, which has begun locking into place and not budging. She’s had “clicky fingers” in the past, but they’ve usually resolved themselves pretty quickly.

So, alongside having some fun, we’ve also been on a mini-tour of English hospitals, in a bid to find somebody who might be able to help. We started with a visit to our local hospital, who suggested doing nothing. Whilst beautifully simple, this option had a fairly major drawback, in that it didn’t actually help in any way whatsoever.

And so, with her finger still locked after six days, we decided to try the delights of Torbay hospital. The doctor we saw was very kind, but the only remedy he could offer was to straighten her finger using brute force, with some laughing gas to help numb the pain. The laughing gas was great and my daughter left with a straight finger.

Two days later and the finger locked again while we were in London. We decided to spend another few hours in St Thomas’ hospital to see if they had any more advanced solutions. We left after six hours, with input from several doctors, but all we really had to show for this was a temporarily straightened out finger and lots of sticking tape.

We are now following our daughter around with various bits of splint and extra sticking tape trying to avoid a repeat injury, while she tears around the swimming pool laughing. It’s good that she’s coping so well.

I am not coping quite so well, as all our well laid travel plans for the first couple of months on the road start to look a bit shaky before we’ve really got going. I was smugly confident a few weeks ago that all of my planning would help us ease into the travelling lifestyle, at which point we could become a bit more carefree on the advanced booking front. However, it now seems that we should have been more carefree from the start, and avoided the complication of having to consider how we fit medical treatment around our itinerary.

Before heading further afield, we decided to make a quick pit-stop back in Bristol to see a hand specialist, who I was hoping would tell us to stop worrying and that everything would sort itself out.

We’re Back Again…

This brings us fully up to date, as we arrived back into Bristol yesterday and saw our latest doctor today. He has recommended that Lexi will need surgery on her hands to properly fix the problem with her funny finger. This wasn’t what we necessarily wanted to hear, but at least we now have a clear diagnosis and course of treatment. Our next challenge is to see if we can get the surgery completed quickly while we’re back home, or organise for the procedure to take place when we reach New Zealand.

Next Time

I am hoping that our next update will be less medically focused and written while we are sat somewhere in either Dubai or Kuala Lumpur.

The Lull Before The Storm

Life feels relatively normal at the moment. On the surface there isn’t much to show that we are slowly approaching a major change.

We are still quietly planning our family gap-year, but our departure date of July 2016 feels an incredibly long way off. I suspect, however, that we will look back in nine months time from the runway of Heathrow airport and wonder where all the time went.

Anja has started to tell her friends at work about our plans, with lots of encouraging reactions and a few  very kind offers to look after our dog while we are away. We haven’t yet finalised any plans for Hugo, but it is encouraging that we at least have some potential homes for him when we go away.

The kids are loving school at the moment, with Alexandra settling really well in her first year and Kiera enjoying the step up to Junior school. It is clearly one of our biggest worries as parents that we are disrupting the kids’ schooling by taking them away from their normal routine. We sincerely believe that the kids will learn more from travelling the world than they would from one year in school, but we also know that it is going to be hard for them to leave everything that they know behind.

I am managing to keep busy as usual, with a combination of work and decorating our house so that it is ready to go on the market before Christmas. Selling our house will feel, to me at least, like the point of no return on this journey.

Despite my insistence on saving money for our trip, we have also squeezed in a few family days out to avoid cabin fever. We had a lovely weekend in Lincoln, visiting my brother and sister in-law, and we have just returned from a day trip to Legoland, Windsor.

We had not been to Lincoln before, but my brother moved up there a few months ago and it was past time that we invaded their peace and quiet with the kids in tow. Lincoln reminded me slightly of my old university city of Exeter, with an imposing central cathedral and castle combination that meant you really could be transported back in time by several hundred years and not lose your bearings.

My brother twisted my arm to join him for a day at the races at Market Rasen, where I just about managed to escape from the bookies at break even, and Kiera particularly enjoyed putting some new found maths skills into practical application by helping me calculate odds. Vegas here we come. (Don’t worry, we only gambled with my money, so no laws were broken).

Legoland was more of a spur of the moment trip as the weather was dry and the kids have just broken up for half-term. We have been once before and the rides are just about perfectly suited for a 7 and 4 year-old duo, albeit with fewer options in the 36 year-old bracket.

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First Day At School

We are settling back into home life after our summer holidays, but we have reached a major milestone this week, with Alexandra’s first day of school.

This has been an eagerly awaited day for Alexandra, involving several short visits to school earlier this year and many attempts at wearing her new school uniform around the house.

But yesterday was the big day and she made the most of it.

School uniform was on within seconds of her opening her eyes from sleep, and her big sister was in an extremely supportive mood, which was very sweet.

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Anja had the honour of taking Alexandra to school. There were a few tears, but those were from Anja. Alexandra is not lacking much in the way of confidence, so I fully expect her to settle quickly in her new surroundings.

I am not usually prone to writing poetry, but I did just want to share with you a few lines that were given to us by Alexandra’s new teacher, which I thought were a nice touch:

Dear Parents,

We understand that you are scared, to wave your child goodbye

and leave them in a teacher’s hands, don’t worry if you cry

We’re used to weeping parents, it’s hard to leave we know

But it’s time to share them (just a bit), to help them learn and grow

Let us reassure you, that we’ll give your child our best

We’ll wipe their tears, soothe their fears, and change their dirty vest

If your darling child is full of cold, we’ll blow their nose all day

Just like you, we’ll care for them in a special way

We’ll treat them like we would our own, we’ll catch them from a fall and

If there is any problem, we’ll be sure to tell you all

It’s true they’ll grow to love us, they’ll talk of school a lot

It doesn’t mean they hate you, and that you should lose the plot

We’ll tell you a secret, that when your child is here

They talk to us as much of you, of this please have no fear

You’ll always be their parent, whilst teachers come and go

To them you are their number one, this we truly know

Soon you’ll see some changes, in your little girl or boy

They’ll become more independent, and to see this, it’s a joy

We’ll teach them all we have to give, to share, climb and to write

But to you they safely will return, to tuck them in at night

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