There’s always so much to catch up on when you get home from a trip. But me, Max and Kiara had out best trip ever to England so I wanted to share the highlights here.
That way you can see what we got up to and also maybe think about what you’d do on a trip to England.
First and foremost this trip was about spending time with Mum and celebrating her 80th birthday. We did a good job of that and spent an action-packed 10 days with her. I think we wore her out.
Mum treated me, my brother and sister and families to three nights at Centre Parcs in Longleat Forest where a good time was had by all. Especially Mum who loved having six out of her eight grandchildren together.
Sadly my oldest lad and niece weren’t able to join us as they are in their last year of school and need to study hard.
On the right in pink trousers is our old family friend Dot who took me on Great British holidays from the age of two! She looks as if she’s asleep in the photo but I think she’s just laughing along with everyone else about my selfie stick.
We also stayed with my brother Tom (the bearded one) and his family. Here’s my sister-in-law Catriona with their new puppy. A gigantic Golden Doodle (or something like that) called Archie who we got to take on lovely long walks through the countryside.
We had a lovely time visiting my godmother Helen, playing croquet and eating a three course lunch finished off with a traditional British summer pudding and a chocolate roulade. Yum!
Auntie Chrissie and Uncle Tim (on the right) came to visit us for lunch with my other godmother Rona and her husband Peter) on the left.
It’s so lovely to see them all again although I was sad not to be able to see my Auntie Prue who was ill.
When I go back to England it’s always to visit my Mum and brother. Then by the time I add in all the relatives I hardly have time to see my own friends. As a consequence some of my friendships have been sadly neglected and some friends haven’t been seen for 20 years.
But I keep reading that one of people’s biggest regrets as they age is losing touch with old friends. So I was determined to remedy the situation and at least catch up with a few old friends I haven’t seen for ages.
I caught up with my old school friend Anne-Marie (who requested no photos) and my old university friend Fiona who I always see and is pictured below.
But I also made an effort to visit my old Voluntary Services Overseas teacher friends from Zimbabwe, Jackie and Steve. Here we are in Zimbabwe in 1992:
And here we are in London in 2015 looking much more grown up but still fresh-faced and fun-loving:
I was also very excited to catch up with my old friend Teresa. We had so many mad adventures together in Costa Rica. I can’t believe that was seven years ago.
I got to meet her teeny tiny children and enjoy Waddeston Manor gardens in Teresa’s company which was very special. We almost floated away with excitement.
3. Ancient buildings and architecture
Apart from Waddeston Manor (where Teresa out-performed me with her elegant,extravagant jumping style) we also visited Rockingham Castle (because you have to see a castle when in England and we already visited my favourite Warwick Castle on our last trip) and Longleat Hall.
4. The countryside
I’m a country bumpkin and the British countryside is my home. I love it. This is a typical country scene in Leicestershire where I grew up. It’s just so green, rural and unspoilt. It still surprises me.
5. The canals
Canals are great for boat trips and walking. We visited Foxton Locks as we always do.
And I simply had to pose on Vagabond.
I enjoyed lots of lovely walks and runs along the Grand Union Canal which passes close to my mum’s house and goes for 137 miles (220 km) all the way from Birmingham to London. It’s an amazing feat of engineering and a peaceful place to be.
6. Outdoor entertainment
We went to see a musical (Singing in the Rain) at Kibworth Hall near my mum’s house. It was very fancy and lots of fun. My kids had never seen a professional musical performance before.
7. The Space Museum in Leicester
An easy outing with kids and a cool place to spend the day on a British summer heatwave.
8. Cute overload
We went to the petting farm to snuggle baby bunnies.
We had an owl encounter at Centre Parcs.
We drove through the monkey enclosure at Longleat Safari Park. The monkey roof surfing area was a lot of fun although the monkeys do trash your car.
But the lemur walkthrough area at Longleat was the best. Look at this precious lemur sitting cross-legged in the grass!
9. Road trip
We all packed ourselves in Mum’s car for the trip to Longleat. We got lost, mum shouted at all the lorry drivers and Dot had to squash in the back with me and Kiara because Max is bigger than all of us.
10. A day in London
My dear adventurous friend Fiona took us to London for the day. We took the kids on a cheap tour riding real red double decker London buses (not the tourist ones). Here we are eating our packed lunch on the bus.
We saw all the sights including Westminster Cathedral and Big Ben.
And we found the cheapest boat trip in London from The Tate to St Katherine’s Dock and back to Westminster.
We we super lucky that the Tower of London Bridge opened just as we were passing through. You can’t buy that experience!
11. Encounters with English Eccentrics
As well as friends, family and the countryside one of the things I love best about England is the delightfully eccentric people.
There was a festival at my mum’s village where all kinds of people showed off their offbeat hobbies and unusual treasures. The English eccentrics included a man with a hovercraft, a group of Swiss Bernese dog owners who harness their dogs to carts and the gentlemen pictured below playing with their radio controlled boats.
I have never come across such an extraordinary assortment of hobbies or people who were so passionate about them.
English eccentrics get right into anything and are totally unabashed about their offbeat interests. They’re barking mad in a good way.
So that’s the best of Britain in my book.
What would you enjoy on a trip to England?