Back a year already?!?

I thought our 2 years of travels went quick but nothing like the last year. Life at home is endlessly busy, kids leave for school at 7.49 (another story) and are back at 6, weekends have other activities and holidays are week after week of something organised. I don’t know how Mo sorts it all, I hope my taxi driving services and cooking help?

We are both back working so food is on the table and no harm done there. Anyway to important matters. Did we ruin our kid’s futures with 2 years out of school (as feared by some friends), are they feral illiterate monsters unable to function in polite society or worse, travel bores?

Amusingly it is like they never left. Welcomed back at the same lovely school with many of the same friends may have helped but they settled quickly, perhaps even welcomed the routine, if not the homework. We primed them to expect a quick ’what was your favourite place question?’ before everyone goes back to their world, which is of course what happens (we know we can talk travel with other travellers and each other but we wouldn’t want to be that travel bore).

Academically they are fine, Mo can be proud of her ’World School’ efforts, teaching Lara to read and enforcing maths app time. Only Ben has had much catch up with essay writing, exam practice and the like. The younger they are the less it matters taking time out, as they get older it may impact on their options and getting back on track. Getting Ben back for Year 7 (age 11) was the right move. Anymore and we would have had to spend so much time schooling we wouldn’t have been able to enjoy the travelling properly. 

Travel has done their social skills and confidence no harm. They noticeably make friends quickly and easily outside their year group, stemming from so much time with each other and the limited options on the road of kids exactly the same age. Friendships at home are back on track.

Perhaps we are making the break of sending them alone on the bus slightly earlier than we might have but otherwise they are no different to their friends. 
With so many memories we do get the occasional ‘do you remember when …?’ often brought on by meeting other long term travelling families again. It will be so interesting to see how their experiences shape their future, will they become travel junkies or have ticked the box and bought the t shirt?

Me, I long for the simple life on the road. It took me 7 months to unpack, I needed my bag to go skiing otherwise it would be sitting there ready for the next adventure. Not that I’m not enjoying work at the moment, I definitely needed a proper break to recharge the batteries it’s just that future adventures will have to be shorter. 

We are so, so lucky to have spent this much time with Ben, Zoe and Lara. The travel, food tour and many new friends around the world are the icing on the cake. I really can’t think of a better way to spend 2 years of your life, if you can you should do it… 

Celebrating our Two Year Travel Birthday

11th July 2014. We’ve been two years on the road – 104 weeks, or 730 days – where has it gone?!!

Celebrating two years on the road this week with a 'cake' in the BArbie Cafe and a supper at Flavours restaurant, Taipei

Celebrating two years on the road with a ‘cake’ in the Barbie Cafe and a supper at Flavours restaurant, Taipei

And now we’re embarking on Year 3 …. But only for a month, then we’ll be home, which we all have mixed feelings about! Can’t wait to see all our friends and family, enjoy some home comforts and we’re pretty happy about enjoying (hopefully) a pleasant British summertime. More

Back to Bali – and more friends and festivities …

We fly back to Bali from Singapore because we loved it so much a month ago and decided it was worth looping back for Christmas and New Year and seeing more of the friends we enjoyed our time with on the last trip! We have a relaxed 3 weeks in the most glorious villa we’ve rented near Ubud. 

The beautiful villa and beautiful Balinese friends - Angel explains to Erika the offerings shes going to place  around our home, Lara helps Kadek clean the pond and Kadek helps Ben figure out how to design and build a kite:)

The beautiful villa and beautiful Balinese friends who look after it, and us.  Here is Angel explaining to Erika the offerings she’s placing around our home, Lara helps Kadek clean the pond with Angel’s little boy and Kadek helps Ben figure out how to design and build a kite:)

Tucked away down a small ‘gang’ or alley in the midst of rice paddies, in the village of Penestanan, with three wonderful staff looking after us – Angel, our housekeeper, Kadek our gardener and Wayan our security guy who is around the premises all night every night.


A week in Buenos Aires

26 February 2013. We arrive in Buenos Aires at 8.30am after being served breakfast on our VIP 20 hour bus trip from Iguazu Falls.

A walk and a run around the docklands area of Buenos Aires

A walk and a run around the docklands area of Buenos Aires

We’d hoped to go via Uruguay but scouring forums and blogs for information on this route suggested complicated stops and connections with people being stranded at quiet border towns for half the night and having to hitch. Didn’t really fancy this with three tired kids and all our bags! More

Cusco with kids

January  2013. We already had a week in Cusco over Christmas, then New Year in Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley. Then we spend another 10 days in Cusco. Partly to wait for a parcel to arrive from the UK but really because we are loving Cusco.

Aspects of Cusco

Aspects of Cusco

There’s plenty more to explore and it’s a great place to get to know and feel settled, for Martin to do some work, the kids catch up on little schoolwork and especially make some more friends…Not to mention having a few more super times dining at some of the best restaurants we’ve found in South America!

First we have the privilege of meeting and hanging out with 13 yr old Miro and Mum Lainie, who are three years into a slow travelling life of adventure, learning and volunteering. Their lives and journeys are inspirational and well documented in their blog and podcast at It’s great to make friends and share experiences with other travelling families!

With the lovely Lainie and  Miro.

With the lovely Lainie and Miro.


Galapagos Volunteering – Part Five. Accidents will happen…

Things seldom work out as planned!  Our first week of volunteering was full on as you can read in the previous volunteering blogs. I couldn’t say we knew what to expect, although we could only hope it would be the start of an amazing experience – and in many ways it was!

Our first weekend should be a real treat too! We’re excited to explore and armed with a long list of recommendations, it starts well! We spend Saturday in El Progresso in the Highlands enjoying El Ceibo Treehouse and Cafe. Martin has already told the treehouse story.  Then a glorious afternoon at La Loberia  beach, where the kids play with tiny crabs in the sand with Ben’s friend from school, we chat to a teacher from the high school, watch, listen to and dodge the many sea-lions and newborn pups, see hundreds of iguana trails in the sand.

Friends, Crabs, Sealions and Iguana trails at La Loberia

Friends, Crabs, Sea-Lions and Iguana trails at La Loberia

We try to brave swimming in the cold (yes, even on the equator!)  rocky, low tide water to look for turtles but are too wimpish and headed for an early supper! More

Galapagos Volunteering – Part Four. Five go to school!

You probably read about our arrival and first days in San Cristobal in Martin’s Galapagos Volunteering Part One, Part Two and Part Three. Following on, here’s my own tale of teaching in our first week!

After the frenzy of getting all five of us to school by 7.15am, Ben and Martin have headed off to their classes, whilst the headmistress takes me and the girls to our classes. We take Lara into Form 1, she goes in fairly happily – brave girl!

Zoe is next and is shown to 4a and I’m shown next door to 4b. I’m introduced to the expectant kids and it dawns on me that there is no teacher?!

‘Where is the teacher?’ I ask in my best Spanish!!

The Head shakes her head and says a lot in Spanish very fast – I can’t really follow but I pick up lots of Usted’s (a polite ‘you’) – I reply ‘solo yo??’ (Only me??) she replies ‘si!’ (Yes!) with a slightly sheepish grin!

I can’t think of a polite response in English, never mind Spanish, that will get me out of it so I simply give her my best look of horror and ask if she’ll help by explaining to me what to do?! She hands me four course books, and I think says ‘Just start with Unit 5 in all subjects’, points to the timetable on the wall, suggests something about getting the kids to show me around the school once we’ve done introductions? … She beams and wishes me luck and leaves….

Teacher Mo in Class 4b at Alejandro Alvear school, San Cristobal

Teacher Mo in Class 4b at Alejandro Alvear school, San Cristobal – I may look calmer than I really am!

Twenty five beaming faces are on me, about twenty three voices are shouting ‘teacher teacher teacher?’  More

My Galapagos Family and Other Animals

We have been living in the Galápagos for a month. We lived in the town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno in San Cristobal Island, which has a lovely harbour and promenade called the Malecon where we would see hundreds of sea-lions, pelicans, boobies, crabs and iguanas every day.

Spot the sealion, iguana and crab happy together at the harbour in San Cristobal

Spot the sea-lion, iguana and crab basking together  at the harbour in San Cristobal

Amazing creatures in San Crsitobal - a baby sealion, giant tortoise, blue footed boobie and iguana

Amazing creatures in San Cristobal – a baby sea-lion, giant tortoise, blue footed boobie and iguana

I went to the Alejandro Alvear school. I made some good friends there… More

Settled in Quito! Almost feels like home!

We rent a gorgeous apartment in Quito for the next two weeks in the city, situated in a pleasant suburb just up the slopes from the Mariscal New Town in a wide quiet street. From the street there are great views over the city, the apartment is tucked behind a secure wall and gate, loads of character and is attached to the owner, Sandra’s home. She’s always on hand to help us should we need it and even calls us when its raining to see if we’d like her to call a taxi for us. There is a huge lounge and dining room, good kitchen, separate TV area, three bedrooms, huge bathroom and even an ironing room which is a fleeting novelty for me!

quito apartment collage

Our lovely home for two weeks in Quito

Monday 22nd October 2012

Exhausted from our first day of filming and late night in our new career as movie stars (!) we have a lazy late start in our new apartment, eventually wandering out for great cake and coffee in a local bakery. Then an outing to the supermarket to stock up on provisions! You cannot imagine what a treat this is for everyone and we get terribly excited filling our trolley!!! More

Travellers In(n) Quito

We spent almost a month in Quito (a big chunk of our family gap year), busy attending Spanish school and enjoying just being in one place. Here’s the account of our arrival and  first two weeks staying at the lovely Travellers Inn…..

Monday 8th October 2012

We leave Coca and the Amazon rainforest on a bus that leaves at 12.30pm and is supposed to take around  7 hours, climbing up into  the high Andes, from little above sea level to nearly 3000 meters.  When I bought tickets two days ago, why, oh why didn’t I make sure this bus went via  Loreto, South West of Coca, and not Nueva Loja, North East of Coca and up near the Columbia border? (Martin reminds me that I went for the $9 bus fare rather than the $10 one!)

In the shiny new Coca bus station going from booth to booth, I clear forgot to check the route although I asked what time it arrived in Quito and was told 8pm which sounded pretty good to me!

We board to find no air con and no working toilet but the seats are comfy and there’s hardly anyone on board – excellent!

Not excellent.

The girls snooze on the long journey!

The bus pulls out of the terminal and immediately pulls over for half of the population of Coca province  to board. Then it proceeds to drop off and pick up passengers every hundred meters or so for approximately 2 hours. Often vendors get on and sell sweets, empanadas, fruit, pens and some get on and stand at the front and seem to be preaching to anyone who’ll listen, then they hand out sweets, no doubt to the converted! More

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