Saturday, 27 August 2016

Building dens and getting mucky at Lyme Park

[15th Aug]

Despite just returning form our grand tour, and not even managing to unpack properly, there was no rest to be had as we had another playdate lined up, this time with one of my best mates, Lesley and her kids. We decided to meet at Lyme Park again as it's about half way for both of us and the kids really enjoyed it there last year.

My mom drove and Lesley bought her mom over too, so we left the moms people watching and drinking coffee in the courtyard whilst we went to the play area.

The boys got straight in there, no messing around and started building a den. It's a great set up, there are lots of branches around and a number of trees that are suitable for den building. There were a group of lads trashing other people dens but I put on best scary face to keep them away!

In the den!

Of course they had to try and cross the stream, which resulted in two mucky little boys! But they had fun...

I think I-chan was feeling a bit let out, maybe next time we need to find a little girl to come along with us. The moms had a good natter though and it was great to catch up with Lesley. Of course we keep up with the comings and goings on facebook but that's not the same as having a good chinwag.

The play area also has climbing equipment, not so much for the little ones, it is really suited for maybe 5 years and up.

It was a really hot day but much of it is under the trees, I think the moms got the worst of it, too busy nattering to notice the sun! Lesley's family are all very fair so everyone was looking a bit pink by the end of the day.

We had a great afternoon and the sat nav chose an interesting route to take us home, very scenic, driving through the Peak District does make me miss home, rice paddies are pretty but they have nothing on the rolling hills of home!.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Euro Tour 2016 - draws to an end

Well, today sees the final train ride on our epic journey, a rather uneventful affair into London then onto to Stoke where my mom picked us up from the station and then it was round to my uncle and Aunts for Sunday lunch.

My uncle Gra AKA Hairy Scary, does amazing sunday roasts with loads of veg and all the trimmings and pudding too! I was full to bursting by the time we had done!

My cousin came round too with her kids, we missed them last year due to a clash of holidays so it was good to catch up this time. The boys had fun playing swing ball and football. M is nearly as tall as Ebi-kun now!

Ebi-kun also got to sit on Tez's bike, he thought that was rather cool.

It's great to see how Ebi-kun has been getting on so well with all the kids along the way, and he always says afterwards that he really enjoyed playing with them and wants another play date the next day! There is often a few minutes of awkwardness when they first get together and then they are off! Makes my heart swell.

I think all three of them will be heart breakers when they are older, such cute kids!

Driving back to moms the sun was setting so we took a wee detour up to the moor where I grew up, it really is a beautiful place!

We also spotted some lamas which were looking quite odd since they had recently be shorn! This one was quite the looker!

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Euro Tour 2016 - Brighton BBQ with friends and family

[13th Aug]

Not only does my best mate live in Brighton, my uncle lives there too, he is just 4 years older than me, so he has always been more like a cousin or annoying older brother than an uncle. Di kindly offered to do a BBQ so we could invite uncle Si and the family around along with some other random friends.

But first the boys needed to burn off some energy so it was down the park for football training with Mark. This is the third year that Ebi-kun has joined, he really enjoys it, which baffles me because Mark is very old school in his coaching techniques. No pussy footing around, he bollocks the kids if they are getting it wrong and praises them when they get it right, his favourite phrase is ... you doughnut!

After training Ebi-kun came into the kitchen as said "Mark really likes his doughnuts doesn't he?" Mark is, shall we say, quite portly so Di was aghast and thought Ebi-kun was quite out of character being so rude! Ebi-kun was referring to Marks favourite phrase though, certainly made me laugh.

Annoyingly Ebi-kun has picked up the phrase and is now calling everyone a doughnut! gah!

Rob got his BBQ on, he did a great job, everything got demolished! I don't think there were any leftovers!

It was quite an eclectic mix of people, Rob's best mates, my uncle and family and the next door neighbours. The kids got on well and we didn't have any fights - which is always a good thing if you ask me! 

They were quite busy playing football, rugby sevens and shooting each other with nerf guns.

I think there was some team plotting going on here, Ebi-kun and my littlest cousin...

We had to get the family shot, this is actually the best one of the bunch, which doesn't say much for the rest really!

And Neil got the job of rescuing the balls that had gone over the fence, luckily Ry has about 15 footballs, so it takes them a while to run out of balls!

The drink flowed and the kids were still running around shooting each other quite late, it was a good job I had packed the bags before the madness began! Great day with old friends and new and lovely to catch up with family too!

Monday, 22 August 2016

Euro tour 2016 - Brighton i360

[12th Aug]

The 11th we had a pretty low key day, Ebi-kun had a bit of a dodgy tum so we hung around at home with a quick play in the park. And plenty of olympics watching, the boys really got into the rugby sevens!

The next day was a busy day which started with the boys making toblerone cheesecake...

And of course licking out the bowl/licking the spoons!

Then we headed down to the beach, we went along the coast a bit to find the "sandy!" beach. Next to the beach was a buttie shop, it made me laugh that the sandwiches were served on real plates with a side salad and crisps, which blew off due to the wind! People were also drinking cups of tea in proper cups on the beach too! How English.

This is our 3rd trip to Brighton and this was the first time it has been hot enough to venture into the sea, there were rock pools too which kept the boys busy.

And the water was lovely and clear too!

We arranged to meet Rob at the ice-crem shop but we ended up waiting over and hour for a bus so we had to skip the ice-cream shop we wanted to go to and just picked on up along the front, I paid a tenner for all our ice-creams and the Di spotted something on the floor - a ten pound note! Ice-creams paid for by the big U!

We met up with Di and Robs friend Merlin (yes, that's his real name) and waited for our turn for the Bright i360. It had only opened the week before, it's like a giant doughnut on a stick! 

It's actually a viewing platform, the ride takes about 30 minutes it rises slowly to the top of the stick and gives you time to wander around taking the view in from, you guessed it. 360 degrees! 

It was a beautifully clear day and we could se for miles. You do get a great view from the top but Brighton's landmarks can't really be seen from the top. I do think they could have done better by having info about the i360 and things that you can see from the top. There was a bar, we didn't venture to that though. I'm glad we went up but I doubt I'd go again.

After our viewing we headed into town, I had a couple of bits to pick up and Di and Rob wanted to get Ebi-kun a birthday present, Lego of course! Then we headed to Wahaca for dinner, which was delicious. We caught the bus back up to Di's, got the boys in the bath then Di and I headed out for the night.

It was, of course an occasion to get out.... I got this for Di years ago in Harajuku and it's still going strong!

We did a bit of a pub crawl, the prices for a round are not what they used to be, I used to have a bloody good night out and money left over for a curry - OK chicken omlette and a chapatti - don't judge it until you've tried it! From a tenner, not these days, small change from one round!

We went to a strange collection of pubs, one of Di's locals, a recommended pub which did have good music but only 2 people in it, including the barmaid, then a complete loonie came in and started ranting about Simon Cowell! So we moved onto the Revolator, not the best for a conversation, hardcore heavy metal was the name f the game! Our penultimate pub was a cozy little place, looked a bit like a cave, it wasn't until we were leaving that we realised it was a lesbian bar and then we found a place open until 2.00pm so we stayed there and caught up on the olympics - as you do on a night out!

Good night!

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Euro Tour 2016 - Back to Blighty via Paris

[10th Aug]

We had an early start for our trip back to the UK. On the train to Paris, we had chance to catch up on our diary/blog posts. Each year we have been to the UK for the last few years, Ebi-kun has kept a diary, it's so much fun reading back over them. Plus it's a great excuse to get him writing in English.

In Paris we had lunch near the station and did some people watching.

I'm not sure when Ebi-kun puts it all, he demolished a huge plate of chicken, chips and salad! After lunch we went to find a supermarket to buy Di some stinky cheese, we didn't go for names, just the smell - I bet the people on our train were really happy about that!

At the supermarket there was a mad man shouting and causing havoc and hitting the store manager with a big block of cheese!

Eventually we made our way to Brighton, some of the trains were on strike but we were not really affected luckily. And here we are back with our best mates sporting stylish Japanese bandanas!

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Euro Tour 2016 - two countries in one day

[9th Aug]

Normally I don't do organized tours, I much prefer to mooch and wander and discover things on my own but we only had one day in Zurich and I wanted to make the most of it. When I was researching what to do I came across a tour that went to both Heidiland and Liechtenstein - sold to the mama with pink hair!

The tour didn't start until 11am, we were up early so we had breakfast then headed out to the supermarket. We bought some sandwiches for lunch then went for a wander around the old town. This is my favourite thing to do, wander without an agenda, it's the best way to stumble upon hidden gems and special places.

Loved the crazy balconies....

Unfortunately the weather turned and the skies became dark and grey, we picked up a few souvenirs then made our way to the bus station. Switzerland uses Swiss francs, not Euros and when I asked around before we went, I got mixed answers about whether I could use Euros there or not.  I decided to just use my card, which worked well until we needed to toilet. You need to pay and of course in francs, that we didn't have! So we bought some chocolate, paid in euro then got the change in francs. By the time we had done all this is was getting close to the tour time and we hadn't actually made it to the bus station!

So we skipped the loo and went straight to the bus station, sorted out which bus we needed then the organizers told us the secret code to use in the Starbucks cafe toilet so we didn't need to change the money after all!! 

The first part of the tour was around the old town, we stopped at the Fraumunster church which is where there are 5 beautiful stained glassed windows created by Chargall. 

Then it was back on the coach and a quick drive around the city before heading to Rapperswil with it's famous rose garden. By this time the heavens had opened and Ebi-kuns expression says it all really....

We walked up the hill to see the old castle and church, it looked like a pretty little town but the weather wasn't helping the vibe!

Our guide advised that we went to a specific cafe to get their famous "cheesecake". It wasn't cheese cake as we know it, it had a crispy (somewhat like a thin crust pizza) base then the cheesy bit was a bit like Welsh Rarebit, a gooey, delicious cheesy yumminess. I'll be hunting out a recipe as soon as we get home!

After lunch we were off again, we should have been going to Liechtenstein first but the guide decided that due to the crappy weather it would be better to head to Heidiland first instead. On the way we passed through a town that has lots of storks nesting on the roofs of the houses, it looks like the locals build a special platform for the bird to roost on.

We finally made it to Heidiland, our guide kept us amused with daft jokes and stories, I think many of his jokes were wasted on the non native English speakers on the bus, Ebi-kun and I thought he was funny though.

I'm sure in the nice weather Heidiland would have ben beautiful, sadly much of it was shrouded in cloud.

There is a museum but we only had 30 minutes so we decided it was too expensive (9 euro each) for just 30 minutes, I would have paid to go in if we had longer there. Instead we got some food and fed the goats.

This is exactly what we thought of the miserable weather, it was the coldest day we had to date too!

We did have a poke around all the buildings, what's in here? You will have to go and check it out yourself to find out!

Then it was time to do the final leg of the tour, this was the real reason I signed up for the tour....Liechtenstein! Of course the rain was still pouring down when we arrived! We got our passports stamped, bought and wrote a postcard for Daddy the pottered around the town square.

It was raining quite hard so we actually spent most of our time n the gift shops, not my idea of fun but getting even wetter didn't seem like fun either.

From the town square you can see the castle...

That about wrapped it up, it was an hour or so back to Zurich, we arrived back to the hotel damp and cold! We hadn't eaten the sandwiches we had bought at the start of the day so we had those for tea and an early night!

If you are in the area and want to do the same tour - I hope you have better weather! We booked HERE

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