Bonjour! … Merci… Oui, oui baguette?! That is the full extent of my French, I’m ashamed to say. But I thought I should try considering I’m writing this from our first European country in the van! That’s right, we’ve braved the borders and we’re on the continent! Let me fill you in on the week that’s led up to this moment …
Going back to what seems like a very long time ago, but was only last weekend, we were in London with my sister and brother-in-law. I had booked way back in April I think, when things were first starting to open, to go to the theatre … but, would you believe it, it got re-scheduled! My sister and brother-in-law’s anniversary was earlier in the summer too, so of course, they weren’t able to do anything for it really … so, with some kind donations from our parents, a London trip in September it was! I’m not one who likes to ‘waste time’, so I had packed the day full of activities, and thought much less about the travel time on the tube in between..! I had told everyone that they needed to sign up for the free trial of the Pret subscription (see the last blog for details on how awesome that is!), and I planned to make the most of 237 Pret a Mangers in London!
So, after a pretty early start, our first destination was Kew Gardens. I know that you really could spend the whole day just there, but, as we’ve never been, and don’t know when we’ll be back in London again, we wanted to check it out. There’s obviously PLENTY there to see, but some of my highlights were …
- The Treetop Walkway – at 18 metres high, you can walk among the tree tops, spotting birds and their nests up close … and for someone like me who loves that feeling of your stomach flipping, looking down is fun!
- The Cactus House – who of us doesn’t love a cactus or a succulent on the windowsill? This part of one of the conservatories is just full of ‘em. The round ones at the front look like perfect little beanbags! Probably not recommended though!
- Dahlias – these were just growing in the grounds, but I just love dahlias. I think it’s the unusual, almost cone-like petal shape? Maybe? I don’t know, I just think they’re gorgeous!
After Kew we were quick-marching it back to the train to make it back into the city in time for our 2:30pm matinee theatre show. I had wanted to take my husband to the theatre for a long time, as he’s never been, so I decided on my personal favourite – The Phantom of the Opera. I saw it I think about 6 or 7 years ago with a friend, and we had both agreed that it was just amazing – from the incredible singing, to the music that hits you right in the soul, to the crashing down of the chandelier … I think the reason Phantom works so well is that it’s not affected by being on stage in a theatre. It’s literally where it’s set. So they use the whole of the theatre, the having of an audience etc, to all add to the story, rather than you just sitting there feeling like you’re looking in on something completely separate. If you don’t know the story, then that might all make zero sense, but we would all 100% recommend going to see it either way!
Another thing I knew I just had to build into our trip was donuts! I really, really love donuts, and there’s a company that both me and my sister drool over on a regular basis, Donut Time, with several shops in London.
Our final destination was one I was really looking forward to. Everything had been a surprise for my sister and brother-in-law, but this was the only part that I was actually confident would be a ‘surprise’. I had stumbled across this activity somehow on the internet, and it just sounded like a nice fun way to end the night. Tejo is (apparently) a traditional Columbian game … whereby you basically through chunks of metal at other chunks of metal, and some of them have gunpowder in an explode! Super fun, and we all said way more fun that your traditional bowling!
For our final UK destination of 2021, we headed west to meet a bunch of our friends who had hired a big house in Woolacombe, Devon. The weather wasn’t really up to much, but throw on (if only it was that quick in reality!) a wetsuit, and the surf is just irresistible. It was a lovely few days, very chilled, just a nice way to say goodbye to our friends (and remind them to come visit us in Poland!) I say chilled … never is there a more heated debate than the age-old ‘jam-then-cream or cream-then-jam’ on a scone! I am definitely a jam-first gal myself, which happens to be the Cornish way, and, I’ve just found out as I Googled that, it’s the official Buckingham Palace way too! If it’s good enough for Her Majesty, then it’s good enough for me!
I actually pretty much failed to take any pictures there – mainly because of being in the water I guess! But it really is a beautiful part of the coast, and really great if you’re into your body boarding or surfing too.
With our last goodbyes hugged out, we headed towards Portsmouth to catch our ferry. Out. Of. The. COUNTRY!! A pretty surreal feeling to be honest. I know travel has been open for a few months now, but we had decided not to until it wouldn’t require expensive tests and quarantining etc. We actually found a really great spot to park for free for the night, literally around the corner from the port, so we were in no great hurry in the morning, which was lovely – not used to that kind of thing anymore!
The ferry was practically empty, which was nice! I had a nice quiet corner to sit and work and plug everything in. Internet was great … until of course the exact moment that we were meant to be having a team meeting! So typical, but the team were super understanding as always, and were happy to try again in another couple of hours when we would be nearer land and proper signal again!
And so we end the week heading to Paris for a day of being tourists before continuing East … tell you all about that next time!
Check out more of our travels here!