Tag Archives: Road Trip

Orcas: The First Encounter

I’m going to set the matter straight away before I go any further. This is NOT going to turn in to a debate of whether or not these beings should be in captivity. This is a memory, do not tarnish it. If you really feel the need to know my opinion, ask, in a nice manner, I may tell. I respect your opinion, but please do not go telling people what they should think. Research, experience, then make your own mind up. Thank you.

~~~

This week, my cousins are sunning it up in Tenerife the lucky devils, and yesterday they went to Loro Parque, and throughout the day on my request, I was sent photos and videos of the sealions, dolphins and Orcas. I couldn’t decide whether I was loving the updates, or just plain torturing myself as I wasn’t there but so dearly wanted to. Anyway, you probably all know that I love, love, love Orcas. Always have done, and I’m sure I always will. They are my favourite ever animals, for so many reasons. If you don’t know what I am talking about then please go and google. I’ve decided for todays throwback blog I am going to tell you all about the time my heart exploded as I saw Orcas in the flesh for the first time.

It was 2005. November to be exact. The Christmas before our parents had surprised us with the trip to Florida, we had a little envelope with photos of the places we’d be visiting, and of course I’m sure I was almost crying when I held the tiny piece with Sea World on it. It seemed like a lifetime to wait until the day we flew out. I’d never been long haul before, and am a nervous flier, but knowing what was waiting for me the other end helped so much. I remember it actually took me a few days to realise I wasn’t dreaming and that it was a reality. Everything is a bit fuzzy now, I can’t even remember how many days we spent at Sea World. I’d of happily spent the whole trip there. If you’ve never been to a theme park then you won’t quite understand the atmosphere of them. I was there for the animals, I don’t like roller coasters or most rides. I was there for the orcas. Shamu. I was giddy with excitement the first day we went. I couldn’t quite believe that I’d actually be seeing one.

At Sea World, you can either see the Orcas during a show, which was The Shamu Adventure at the time, in the underwater viewing area, or by doing Dine With Shamu. Naturally we did all of them.

Walking in to the stadium, it’s sheer immense size, you’re looking down on to the pool. We chose seats close but not too close. (Mum or Dad may remember how many rows back!) It was still in the “Splash Zone” but my parents did not believe we’d get wet so far away from the water. I did try to warn them but it fell on deaf ears. Then I heard the ‘pff’ of an orca surfacing. My head whipped round, and there just in front of us was this black and white creature, so smooth looking, gliding through the water. I’m sure I cried. It was everything and more to be in their presence. I’d studied this particular group of whales, and vaguely knew how to ID them, but that pretty much went out of my head with just a few facts stuck in my mind. I also only had a disposable camera at that stage in my life, but I took some photos, not very good mind. I can only find a few of them, but will share what I took, and shall update the post if I find the lost ones.

PicsArt_10-12-10.11.44Photo: Preshow, who was watching who?

The show was amazing, personally I think it was better than ‘Believe’ which it had changed to before my next trips in ’07 and ’09. I remember there being a kayak involved, and a lot of facts and waterworks. If you don’t know, waterworks are where the trainer performs in the water with the whales, a practice that now doesn’t exist due to health and safety.

PicsArt_10-12-10.10.05Photo: I used to remember what this was called, but it’s impressive to see nonetheless.

It got to the splashing part of the show, and the big guns came out. Tilikum. I’m sure many of you know of his name, he drew a lot of media attention before his death this year. My heart still aches that I won’t ever get to see him again. He was the king. 22.5 foot long, 12,500lb in weight. He was spectacular to see perform, pure muscle. So when he came, and you were suddenly faced with his flukes (tail) about to send a ton of water towards your way, you knew you had no escape. My parents faces. The look of realization, they were about to be drenched, I was right. I’ll never forget it, it was hilarious. Sadly, as I hid my camera I didn’t get any photos of him myself that year. Following years I did, although I did a lot of filming as well, but I shall share with you another time if you’re interested.
PicsArt_10-12-10.08.16Photo: Takara, Kohana and Skyla. Takara was pregnant with who turned out to be my favourite little (not so little now!) orca ever, Trua, who happened to be born the day before or after we flew home! Typical. (I can’t remember what day we flew home) It made meeting, and interacting with him, in 2007 even more special though.
PicsArt_10-12-10.06.29Photo: Kohana on the slide out. She is one of the orcas that my cousin is seeing in Tenerife!
PicsArt_10-12-10.20.57Photo: A few more of the snaps I got while I was there. They’re very special memories to me. I just wish I could go back with my DSLR now!

We also got treated to Dine With Shamu. I shall have to go and raid my Mums computer for some photos really, as you can see the pure joy and excitement in my face. I barely took my eyes of the whales. Basically you get delicious buffet food and then the trainers perform an up close little show. This does cost extra, but it is well worth it in my eyes! Or at least it used to be, don’t count me on that for now! It was definitely a cool experience, and the food was really yummy too! Afterwards, at the end the trainers come round and you can meet them, have your photos taken and have a chat.

From the same pool that they do Dine With Shamu in is where the underwater viewing is located. I would honestly love to sit in there all day. My cousin and I actually did spend a large proportion of one of our days in there in 2007. In 2005 however we didn’t see as many of the whales in their as we liked. Obviously they have freewill and have a choice of pools to go in. We did see Tilikum and Taima though. Taima was gorgeous. She was also pregnant at the time, and didn’t want to play at the glass, but to just watch her swim, for her to be gliding past just the other side of the glass was enough. When you are that close you can really respect them, they are huge, powerful. Again, I need to raid my mums computer for photos!

PicsArt_10-12-10.03.48Photo: Taima swimming past. Another whale I can’t believe is gone. She died giving birth, and I remember just after I gave birth to Logan I was thinking (and may have asked out loud) that I hoped Taima didn’t die in the pain that I just experienced.

So there you have it. It was probably all just a babble, I just love Orcas so much, particularly the ones who I have seen with my own two eyes. You just can’t describe their presence, or their true immense size and power to someone who hasn’t seen them. They’re so, so amazing. I’d love to see them in the wild. When I went whale watching in ’06 the trips before and after us saw them, but we weren’t so lucky! Maybe one day I will. I also hope to one day get back to Orlando, or at least see some in one of the closer locations.

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To drive or not to drive?

NOTE: The featured image of the speedometer was taken while we were in Germany on the autobahn where, if you don’t know, they have no speed limit. It is honestly kind of terrifying, and Kiba wanted to briefly see how fast he could go, this speed was not maintained. At one point we were cruising along at 90 odd and suddenly a police car came shooting past, with a (presumably) civilian car keeping up with them, and they were gone within moments! Germans love their speed! Kiba loves driving, and has had many cars in his driving history, his latest is this beauty:

PicsArt_09-05-04.21.18

I don’t drive. I can’t drive. I have reached the age of 25 without stepping behind the wheel of a car once. Growing up I never daydreamed about owning my own car, never really imagined myself driving. As a teenager when everyone around me started to learn and ultimately pass their tests the urge to do the same never occurred. It wasn’t until after Logan was born and Kiba learnt to drive that I ever really started to consider it. But I was terrified of the idea. I still am pretty scared. I just can’t imagine myself in control of a large metal box on wheels. Up until recently the idea of it made me feel physically nauseous. I can now imagine it, but still don’t think I am anywhere near ready to ever attempt it. Yet there seems to be a lot of pressure out there to drive. I’m regularly asked if I am going to, if I’ve considered taking the leap as it would enrich my own and my kids lives. Of course I have considered it. I’m a worrier, I worry about it a lot. (Just ask Kiba)

I’ve come to realize that a lot of people seem to think you should drive if you’ve got kids, yet I know a lot of people who don’t. I have even seen people claim that you can’t be a ‘good’ parent as you can’t take them places etc. This is utter nonsense. Yes, I may not be able to get the kids places myself, but I have some darn good friends and family who help me out as much as they can. They say it takes a village to raise a child and in my case my ‘village’ sure does help a lot. Which is particularly good as I do live in a small rural village, where the bus routes aren’t the best, but I can honestly say I’ve never taken the bus here, or even a taxi. I could, and I probably should at times, but my anxiety has often got the better of me. So should I learn to drive? It’s something I have thought about a lot. Kiba and I have had many conversations about it. I asked in the Babipur Hangout a facebook group filled with lots of friendly parents who love Babipur on their opinions and who could drive. Of the 103 people who replied, 63 could drive, 40 could not. There were some interesting comments and I was quite surprised at the number of families were both parents were non-drivers. Some of the comments cemented my fear of the kids missing out, and that they might begrudge that in future, but ultimately it gave me some reassurance on my decision so far of not driving.  I think it comes down to being a very personal choice, but I’ve decided to write some Pros/Cons for each situation in case anyone was in the same conundrum as I am. I’ll be adding some side notes of my own though.

To be able to drive;

PROS;
– To be able to do what you want, when you want. Not having to rely on others.
– Emergency situations. Self explanatory.
– Reliability. Unlike buses/trains etc that may get cancelled or delayed.
– Better job opportunities.

CONS;
– Expense. Cars or any other vehicle are expensive. The lessons and test to drive for starters. Then the actual vehicles, the insurance, the fuel and then the upkeep. It all adds up and can be quite costly.
– Parking. It can be a nightmare. Personally we can’t even park outside our house, it’s a short walk up the road, which is fine in the summer, but in Winter or if it’s peeing with rain, or if you’ve got lots to carry it is a bit of a nightmare.
– It’s a big responsibility. Cars are huge, potentially dangerous metal boxes, and when they mix with people in an accident the cars get the lighter deal. I’d be terrified of an accident, which would then mean I’m more of a danger as I am a nervous driver.
– Congestion. There are a lot of cars out there these days, which leads me to the next point
– Environmental Impact. We all know about this.

Not being able to drive:

PROS;
– It’s eco friendly. You’re not adding your own CO2 in to the atmosphere.
– Saving money by not having the cost of a car
– Less stressful. This is a personal one.

CONS;
– Having to rely on others for lifts for everything that can’t be reached by public transport.
– Moving car seats between cars, although if you only have one and go in others cars anyway you’d still probably be moving it about at some point.
– Public transport can be expensive
– Emergency situations (although if it truly is an emergency I would call 999, and any other I have a fabulous network who’d help me out)

All in all, I think that if I were to learn to drive I’d have to be so, so much more confident. Kiba has told me that I am not to learn until I have gotten over the fear of it, as a nervous driver can be a dangerous driver. I also think that if I do one day want to become a Doula then I am going to have to drive, as who would want to hire a doula that can’t get to you quickly? It’s a bit of an awkward situation though, to drive I need money, but to earn money I ultimately would need to drive. I shall have to cross that bridge when I get to it. Right now as a family we really can’t afford lessons and then a second car. I think for now I need to focus on my wedding (324 days from today!) as that in itself is a pricey and slightly stressful thing to think about. Afterwards I shall reassess our situation and how I feel and go from there. I know not being able to drive does not make me a bad parent. I know my kids have just as good as a life as kids with a mum who does drive. No one should feel forced in their decision, or guilty of their choice. I shall strive to be the best person I can, no matter what my circumstances.

I just want to take a quick moment to thank those, and they’ll know who they are, that have helped the kids and I get about the past few years. I really, really appreciate you guys. Thank you.

PS. I just found this photo, the closest to driving I have been, unless Mario Kart counts!

PicsArt_09-05-04.23.10

Aren’t holidays supposed to be relaxing?

I don’t think we really did any relaxing, in our sleep perhaps, but most of the our holiday was packed with family visits and trips. We didn’t get to do everything we wanted to do really, and next time we know for definite that we will do 2 weeks rather than just the 1. It flew past so quick, and after not seeing most of Kiba’s family for 3 whole years, 1 week really didn’t seem enough time. Despite all the visits I suppose you could say we did have some downtime, mainly while we were waiting for certain things, like people, transport for others etc. but compared to the complete full on craziness that is visiting family/kids/pets I don’t think it counts as relaxing. Even at the outdoor pool I don’t think I truly relaxed, who does with small kids and water?! However, despite all this I can definitively say that you do not need to relax to have a good time*. So, I’m going to give you all an overview of what we did in our week away, to give you a bit of perspective of our holiday and why we never got to relax, and how I managed to take 2,214 photos.

Day 1, travel day, 282 photos. Drive, ferry, drive. Read this post if you’d like more detail.

Day 2, 78 photos. The kids needed time to settle in to their new environment, so we took it pretty easy in the morning. We spent time with Kibas Dad and half sister. We met all their animals, dogs, cats, ponies, goats, geese, chickens and rabbits. Obviously Taya thought they were the best thing ever. In the early afternoon we went and said Hello to Kibas Mum, (and her husband, 3 of Kibas sister, 1 of his brother, and 1 of his nieces!) where I didn’t take any photos as it was all very over-whelming. I spent a majority of the time asking the kids to put a crying Taya down as she did not want to be picked up by people she didn’t particularly know. Again we met their animals, a large number of dogs, cats (including 13 tiny kittens!) and rabbits. Again, Taya thought this was the best thing ever. Logan not so much, he isn’t the biggest fan of dogs, but he surprised me by how he jumped right into playing with the kids. The language barrier really didn’t bother him. He did later tell me that he enjoyed himself as they treated him like a King, he didn’t even have to take his own shoes off! We then headed off back to Kibas Dads for a BBQ, and a short stroll up the road.

Day 3, 317 photos. We had a late morning after spending some time with Kibas Dad, but then headed off to Kibas brothers. From his we walked the 20-30 minutes in to the city. We had a good look around, and got some postcards, and then ice creams, as it was a lovely hot day! We then walked back to near his brothers to grab a kebab and play in one of the local parks. I’m surprised but Logan walked the whole entire time, he did moan, but he still had loads of energy left. Early afternoon we headed off to Kibas Aunts, to see her, his uncle and his two cousins. Taya was again ecstatic that they had kittens (She is a breeder!) and we had cake in the garden. We then walked to the local school to use their play area, football and basketball facilities. Logan definitely got rid of all remaining energy there! He was pretty exhausted that night understandably.

Day 4, 263 photos. It was a bit more of a dreary morning, but we decided to head up to Burg Plesse, or Plesse Castle, as despite always looking at it as we drove past, we’d never visited. Taya quite rightly kept calling it ‘Tangled’ as it has one tall tower, and is pretty impressive as well as being pretty old,  and the views were absolutely stunning! I wish we’d have visited it sooner, and we’ll definitely go again. There is a restaurant inside now, so you can only really explore the outside, but that was cool enough on it’s own. It soon started raining and we left to go back to Kibas mums for the afternoon, with lots of playing outside with the kids and dogs.

Day 5, 381 photos. In the morning we had a bit of a wait for Kibas Dads transport to arrive, but then we moved our cases to his Mums house for the remainder of the stay. After a quick play outside we decided to go to one of the many outdoor pools in the area. We took one of Kibas sisters with us and had a great time. I honestly have no idea why I have never been to one before, and can only hope that we can go back soon! Kiba and his sister loved jumping off the diving boards so I got some photos of them, albeit from a good distance away. Mr Skinny Logan was having a blast (although I forgot his goggles, bad Mummy) but he got cold very, very quickly. He needs some fat on him bless him! May invest in a wetsuit/drysuit to help him enjoy water play longer, as he loves it! So I ended up on the blanket on the hill, feeding Taya who soon fell asleep, with a wrapped up cold Logan next to me, watching the rain clouds roll in. Later we headed back to our new “home” for more outside play, where all 3 of Logan & Tayas cousins joined us, along with Kibas Sister and BIL, it got very noisy then, but was also a lot of fun.

Day 6, 325 photos. In the morning we let Taya have a play in the kitten room. I never said no to this, they were so, so cute! Later on we went in search of another castle, the castle ruins at Hardenberg. It was pretty impressive from the road, and it did take us a while to find out where to park, we ended up asking for directions. Obviously this wasn’t the most visited castle ever as the path around it was a bit difficult to navigate and was up on a cliff! I was very glad that Taya stayed in her Connecta! After a walk round, looking at the ruins and watching the lizards running we soon concluded that you couldn’t actually get in to the castle, unless on a tour, or for the registry office. Which was a shame, but we had a good wander nonetheless. Afterwards we went and picked up Kibas brother and headed off to his sisters (the one with the kids cousins, am I confusing you yet with siblings?!) for a BBQ. The kids had the most fantastic time playing with each other, they have a huge garden, where Taya fell in love with the trampoline (but only when she was the sole occupier!) and the food was delicious, with yummy ice cream afterwards! It was a thoroughly lovely evening, and probably the most relaxed I ever got.

Day 7, 97 photos. We visited Kibas Dad in the morning for a bit. I think we may have then been to ToyRUs possibly, I am not sure, I haven’t got the best memory and am admittedly using the photos to work out what we did when! We went back to base for a bit, before heading off to Kibas Aunts for a big family get together & meal. A very yummy meal at that. We also met Kibas grandfather, his Opa, who I have to say is a bit of a character! He’s one of these very typical older generation, with a bit of craziness mixed in, and the ever intense being that I feel I’m particularly sensitive too due to anxiety. Plus you know, the language barrier and the fact that Kiba used every opportunity to not spend with him, even if it left me with him! However, he did give us some money. We also headed back to the local school for more football, before finding a new play area which was lovely, and Taya had a good old swing while the big kids played basketball.

Day 8, 310 photos. Mainly a day of goodbyes and mixed emotions. Firstly was Kibas Dad. I think this was the toughest one, with him being terminally ill it was never going to be easy. Then it was back to his Mums for more playing in the garden, and the final sister had turned up too. We took a trip to their local playing field for football with Kibas siblings, Logan took an impressive tumble on the way and ended up with a mighty cut to the knee, which did bleed a lot. If you’ve seen us in person since we’ve been home I’m sure you know all about this. He’s worn shorts to show it off and is often accompanied with some oohs and aahs. It didn’t stop him joining in with the football though! After a good runaround we headed back, where the cousins and co turned up for a play and then their Goodbyes. I made a faux pas by spoiling a surprise, Kiba told me they’d be hopefully visiting us at Christmas. What he didn’t say was that it was a surprise. So I mentioned it to the eldest child. Oops. I feel terrible that I ruined her surprise, but I was genuinely excited too! (It was so Kibas fault!) Despite the people living in the house saying they’d be getting up in the morning with us to say goodbye there was still a lot of pre-bedtime tears too, and last minute gift giving.

Day 9, 161 photos. Drive, ferry, drive. Again, if you want to read about it in more detail then read this post.

So, a grand total of 2,214 photos later, and 9 days, we are home, and I think just about recovered from our adventures. I can’t wait for our next grand adventure as a family!

* I should really point out that growing up, we have never been a sit by the pool kind of family. We go somewhere new to explore and visit places. So maybe I don’t know what it’s like to truly relax?

The long road home.

So, we’re home! To be precise we got home at 22:40 on Sunday night, and since then it’s been a tiring blur of washing, tidying, shopping and play group this morning. Figured I’d give you a run down of our journey home today, and then shall do a rough overview of our holiday in another post. So, Sunday…

We’d set our alarms for 4am, with the aim of leaving the house by 5. The ferry wasn’t due to leave till 2pm, with boarding from 12:30, but with a 5 hour drive ahead of us we wanted to give ourselves an extra 2 hours for stops or traffic, and in the end it was a good decision. The family we were currently staying with, Kibas mum, her husband, 3 of Kibas sisters and one of his brothers, had all decided to get up to say goodbye so we attempted an earlyish night, which probably did not end up as early as we’d have hoped. 

I was rudely awoken at around 2am by a breeze coming from the previously closed window above my head. As I awoke I realised Kiba was standing there and as I asked what was up he replied with the short answer “I need to pee.” Ah. At his Mums to go to the loo at night meant going downstairs and getting through a room full of dogs that didn’t particularly like our night wandering, as we’d previously found out with many growls and barking, so I could see his predicament. I heard him attempt to get down only to retreat with the growls following him. After a bit more muttering and pacing he decided to pee out of the window, much to my amusement. It still makes me want to giggle thinking about it. 

4am came, and the final preparations were sorted. The goodbyes were hard and came with a lot of tears from Kibas mum and sisters, the hugs were long, no one wanting to let go. But 5am soon turned up and we set off, not long before the sun began to rise. I’ll admit that this time on the 5hr leg of our journey my tiredness got the better of me and I drifted in and out of sleep in between admiring the views, hoping it wouldn’t be too long before we were back. We took two stops along the way, first so Kiba could pee, and I could give Taya some milk, and the second as Taya was crying as she wanted to breastfeed again, and was getting quite upset. Luckily we’d allowed for extra time. 

We got close to the Hook of Holland before Kiba needed the toilet again, and we decided to get some food, so used my Google maps to find the closest McDonald’s. Now, if you haven’t driven over in Holland let me tell you now, the roads can be quite confusing! On a roundabout in most places you can go round and exit, in your lane, but if really need be you can change when safe to do so. In Holland you have one chance at choosing the right lane, as they are all separate, so we did go wrong a couple of times admittedly. Eventually we got to McDonald’s for around 11am, so we decided on an early lunch and quick play in their play area for the kids. By 12 we decided to head to the ferry. 

After checking in we surprisingly were allowed on straight away, no waiting about whatsoever. We were right near the front and this time remembered to take a photo of deck and coloured stairs so we wouldn’t forget. The only bad thing of boarding early meant we had a fair wait until setting sail, although even that was slightly early. We settled on the sun deck at first, after Taya had walked in to a post on the way there, (she has a tendency to not look where she is going) and Logan was thrilled that there was a ball available to play in the basketball/football cage. Taya was thrilled that she could open and shut the door of said cage. Taya then fell off the bench getting down off my lap, so wasn’t in the happiest of moods. We set sail and she wanted to breastfeed, so I ended up missing one of times I think is most exciting to watch overboard, leaving the port. It soon got quite windy and chilly, so we decided to venture inside and made our way to the playroom. I’m pretty sure Kiba had a good nap on the floor in there, Logan either played on his DS or watched the Curious George cartoons that they had on. Taya happily played. I chatted briefly on messenger and played with Taya. We stayed a good while before going for another wander, only to head back shortly for the children’s entertainment. 

This time it was an older gentleman called Adrian. He did a mix of magic, Punch & Judy (and the Dutch equivalent) and balloon modelling. He was a very interesting character who spoke his mind, knew his facts, and was very engaging with his audience. Logan once again managed to get picked, and came away with a pretty awesome balloon t-rex hat! Taya slept through the whole thing, she only fell asleep as she was hiding from Adrian, so it was worth going to see for both kids! 

We spent the rest of the trip in a space next to the stairs, as there were yet again no inside seats available. The kids thought this was great though as they could crawl under the stairs! They had fun chasing each other, looking through their books/magazines and playing with the playdoh grab bag I had bought them, and I also finally got Logan to write his postcards, better late than never! As we started to come in to port I took the kids for a walk on the sundeck, and let Logan have a quick kick about before heading to the play area, while waiting near the top of our stairs. Soon we were allowed down and we packed up in the car. It took forever to get off the ferry, for being nearly the first on we were left nearly till last to get off. And that’s where we began our wait. 45 minutes. It took 45 minutes to get through UK border control. Taya was miserable for most of it, and Logan fell asleep in that time! We were within the last 10 vehicles to leave the port. It was slightly ridiculous. 

Finally we were on the final stretch, less than 2 hours till home. We did stop off to grab a baguette and drink for Kiba and I. The kids had eaten all our snacks On-board the ferry, and we weren’t going to pay €5 for a sandwich! So we’d waited, and even though they weren’t the best, it was food and it was good. It gave us the final energy boost for the drive, before then I’d been struggling to stay awake again, but now I could keep Kiba company in the drive in to recognisable known territory. The light quickly faded, and we arrived home in the dark, just as we had left it. We got everything inside and it really didn’t take long before we all collapsed in to bed, deep sleeps all round.

Two days later and I still feel tired, and unorganised, but we’re slowly getting there, hopefully regular posts will also be back to normal soon. If you’ve got this far in yet another long post then thank you. 

A quick snap, I took a lot of photos, shall share some another time, so keep an eye out!

Road Trip to Germany 

So on Saturday we made the 15 plus hour trip to Germany, and I can say that it was pretty tiring, but very exciting all the same, and the destination was worth it. I’m glad we chose the route we did as it allowed the kids maximum time out of the car, and wasn’t as boring as sitting in your seat for all that time. Before I forget all the small details I wanted to share the day with you, although I know I’ve forgotten some already, but simply haven’t had time to write up sooner. Sorry it’s a long one, but it was a long day! 

Our alarm was set for 4:15am, we wanted to leave the house at 5:45 at the very, very latest, so were aiming to leave at 5:30. I’d had (another) unsettled night with Taya, but woke before the alarm along with Kiba. We both got up and sorted ourselves out and finish packing as much as possible before waking Logan. I’d made a list of what I needed to pack and do the night before so just worked on autopilot mainly. I also made myself a Klean Kanteen full of tea, an essential for such an early morning start. Once Logan was up and dressed he started to get quite excited, which helped us get a bit excited, although I think anxiety ruled the emotions of the day ahead. The last job once the car was packed was to get Taya up and in the car. She awoke, but didn’t take too long to drop back off, so, then began our 2 hour drive down to Harwich. It went smoothly, and we made good time. My tea helped a lot. As usual my guts played up a bit as they “woke up” but this time luckily it was just a bit of uncomfortable rumbling, darn IBS, could of been worse though. As we made it with time to spare we stopped off at Morrisons which was next to the International Docks. Taya had woken up and was eager to get out of her seat. There’s something very cute about a 2yr old wandering across a car park in her bees and ladybugs sleepsuit! We did a nappy change and toilet stop before Kiba grabbed some breakfast for the kids and himself. I really didn’t fancy anything, and if I did we had a coolbag full of snacks. Afterwards we headed to the ferry.

The ferry was huge, Logan was so excited, and I think even Kiba hadn’t realised it was going to be so big. We joined the queue to check in, of course we chose the slowest moving one, and Taya does not like being in a carseat and not moving. Thankfully it didn’t take too long, and after a quick check that everyone was who they said they were on the passports (honestly, Taya has grown so, so much since hers was done I’m not sure how they can say it’s valid!) we got given our boarding passes, and sent to lane number 5. We pulled up among the many, many cars, behind a car from Hannover, which if you don’t know, isn’t too far from our destination! (If you didn’t know, German cars all have an identification letter/s so you know where they’re from, for example H is Hannover, GÖ is Göttingen) Again we had a bit of a wait, so this time we let the kids come out to stand in front of the car. Taya kept shouting “cars!” as if she’d never seen any before. A pretty cool vehicle came in soon after us, I can only say it must have been some cross between a campervan/army reinforced vehicle, it was very big and loud! Soon the first queues started to move, so we popped the kids back in the car, or in Tayas case fighted to get a protesting small person restrained in her seat, which is not an easy task. It didn’t take us long to move though and the boys got very excited about entering the ferry. We followed the car in front and got directed in to a side space. I took a photo of the number area we were in to remind us, then started to unpack everything we’d need. My rucksack, bag each for the kids, and a coolbag. With those in hand and the kids, we followed the crowd and made our way up from deck 4, to deck 9, which would be our home for the next 7 or so hours. 

If we do it again, I think we’d try and get a cabin. Mainly so we didn’t have to carry everything with us, and also so Kiba could nap in a bed with no distractions, ready for the drive ahead. But this time we didn’t. And it wasn’t too bad, a bit annoying carrying everything, and Kiba didn’t get to sleep, but it was a very enjoyable trip. First thing we did was find a baby change room to get Taya dressed and ready for the day, in her Maxomorra mermaids no less. Then we had a quick wander to orientate ourselves with where everything was, restaurant, children’s play area, lounge, cinema, shop, and sun deck. We stopped on the sun deck for a bit, which is where we spent most of our time. Fact, there was not enough indoor seating for the amount of people they had sailing with them. We never got to sit inside other than in the play area. People claimed their seats and never left, or left their belongings, so we never once got the comfort of a nice chair! But now we know what to expect next time. So most of the trip was spent on the sundeck, mainly as I wanted to look out for porpoises, and there was a large space for kids to run around in, which they certainly did! We wanted to keep them active as possible so that they’d hopefully sleep for the last leg of the journey. I’m not going to lie, there were moments of boredom, tiredness and generally grumpiness, but overall I think we managed to keep the kids happy. I’d planned it by seeing it as a day out, they both had a bag of goodies (magazines, activity and reading books, toys etc) but these were actually barely touched. Food went down well, and I’m glad we took our own as the ferry was very expensive. A couple of times Kiba tried to lay down and have a bit of a nap, but it didn’t really work out. We also ventured in to the play area a few times, a very small room with a couple of interactive screens, bead mazes, wall puzzle/toys, seesaw and a couple of soft play squishy things. Nothing special, and far too small for the amount of small children On-board. However they did have two large round windows, where you could sit in, and the lighting was just perfect for some gorgeous photos. 

Taya did enjoy the playroom, especially the beads. In the afternoon we happened to be in there when a magic show started! The man, Abraca-David, was one of these really over the top (slightly embarrassing) people, but also very good. He kept all the children engaged, remember plenty of them weren’t English, and got plenty of kids to help him, one of them being Logan! He didn’t get a choice, he just got asked to pop a ball in a box, which he was very pleased about! Whereas Taya was terrified, she did not like David, and she did not like his possum puppet that he got out! We sat and boobed in the back corner instead, where it got very hot from stuffing so many people in such a small space. A tin of sardines comes to mind. I had worries beforehand if they had sealegs, I 2as the only one of us 4 that’d been on a ferry before. It did get quite choppy, and Logan did say he felt seasick at times but it never really bothered him. Kiba did feel quite unwell at one point too, so it was a shame he didn’t have a nice comfy seat to relax in. There were times on board that time felt so, so slow, but other times it seemed to go quite quick, but eventually Holland came in to sight. As we came in to port, we stayed on deck as long as possible before the rain started and we wanted to be ready to go back to the car. We had a bit of an oops moment as we couldn’t remember which stairs we came up, but after a bit of walking between them we settled on the right one and were soon back at the car. 

Taya fell asleep before we’d even left the ferry, which took a while so we were thankful we’d worn her out. As we exited the ferry it was peeing it down! We joined a queue, again, the slowest moving one, to head towards passport control. We spotted a car from Göttingen and wondered if we could follow them, or if we’d even see them again (we didn’t, but I’m keeping an eye out!). We finally made it to passport control where they needed to open the windows to check we had the right children. Unfortunately it was Tayas window, and we weren’t under a cover, so the rain woke her up! We were soon on our way, it was Kibas first time driving in Europe so we took it slowly. Hollands roads are confusing! We had the sat nav (not updated in 6yrs though…) and Google maps on Kibas phone going and yet we still had to work it out ourselves! It also smells a lot. I’m guessing from all their waterways, which may look very pretty, but I couldn’t put up with that stink! As we hit the motorway the heaven’s decided we needed more rain and it was like a tsunami, haven’t seen that much rain in a long while. As we went round Rotterdam it slowly stopped, and as we journeyed on it cleared up and got warmer. By the time we were in Germany the temperature peaked at 26 degrees. It was a 5 hour journey from Holland to Göttingen and it seemed to take forever. The kids mainly slept, Logan did ask a few times if we were nearly there and was most disheartened when I’d say it was a couple more hours. Bums, legs and backs became rather sore, but we kept pressing on. As the light started to fade the sat nav took us the wrong way and Kiba made the executive decision to go with the directions his Dad had told him. I’d printed a map for Logan to show him the route, and we ended up using that as a rough idea of where we were headed! I started to struggle to keep awake as the hours dragged on, but was determined to stay awake for Kiba. I normally fall asleep quite quickly, my tablets I take for my Fibromyalgia make me dozy, so it was a surprise and a big achievement that I stayed awake! We neared Göttingen at close to 11pm, and we reached familiar territory, although Kiba had never driven here before, and a fair bit has changed in the 3 years since we’ve been here. Taya woke and was quite upset, but a quick head rub and she was off again, so we found an open kebab shop in one of the villages Kiba used to live in. Since he moved to the UK, Kiba has always yearned for a proper German kebab, and he most definitely deserved one! He grabbed 3, one for himself, myself and his Dad, then we headed towards his Dad’s house. Unfortunately in the dark on a hill, we were met with a closed road. A quick call later and confirmation of the route Kiba thought he should take we were off, and eventually, after midnight we arrived. After saying hello to everyone, and Taya getting quite excited by the horse in the yard, and the dogs, we sat down to eat our kebabs and have a good catch up. I say we, but my German is basically very simple, I can understand a fair bit, and can speak some, but am most definitely not very confident in my ability. Being tired my brain couldn’t even process their chatting especially at the speed they were talking! We then had to sort beds out before collapsing in to them, one camp bed (for Logan) and two mattresses for the rest of us with sleeping bags as quilts. It was half 1 by the time we all fell in to bed, a whole 21 hours after Kiba and I woke up. To say I was shattered would be an understatement. To say that I was so incredibly achey and sore would be an understatement. Bed was very, very welcoming, I was happy to stay there forever. Sleep was good. Until the kids woke at 7:30am. And that’s when the real fun and adventures began. 

So yea, we’re here, and better prepared for the trip home on Sunday. But for now we’re having a great time. I hope to do a post for each day, perhaps a couple days, we shall see. I’m taking a ton of photos, and shall add some to this post when I get them on my laptop. If anyone is put off by roadtripping with small children, don’t be, it is a great adventure! 😀 

T-minus 1 week until 15hr+ roadtrip!

So, yea, you read that right. In one week, on Saturday, we’ll be setting off to visit family over in Germany for a week. We’ve decided to drive, for different reasons, but that does include a 15 hour plus trip. 2 hours driving, 8 hours on the ferry from Harwich to the Hook of Holland, and then another 5 hours in Europe, but that doesn’t include breaks, or leaving extra time so we won’t be late for the ferry! So next Saturday could end up being very interesting. Wish us luck. 

We’ll be spending the first part of the week with Kibas Dad and his family, then move on to Kibas Mums. They live pretty close anyway, but we wanted to spend some time at each. We haven’t been over there in 3 years. They’ve not met Taya, and we’ve not met their youngest member, the kids cousin, who is half a year older than Taya. Kibas Dad has visited us in this time, but he unfortunately is now terminally ill, and we’re not sure how much longer he has, so it shall be a bittersweet visit, especially as Logan doesn’t know, he only knows he is very, very poorly. This enough upsets him greatly. This does make me quite nervous on how Logan will react, as he is such a sensitive little soul, but, I’m glad there will be many distractions and exciting times and experiences while we’re over there. If they leave my side that is. You know kids with people they don’t really know that well, they’re like little limpets. I’m hopeful that my two will have their shy moments, but then warm up quickly, I mean, there is lots of kids and animals to be around, what’s not to love? They’ll be the centre of attention though I’m sure. They’ll probably love it. 

This trip has really snuck up on me, I suddenly feel that it’s upon us before I’m ready, and I like to be prepared for things. Although I don’t think we’ll have to worry as much as I need to, with visiting family I don’t need to take towels, all our toiletries (shampoo etc), and we’ll have access to a washing machine if need be. With going in our own car I don’t have to worry about weight limits, car seats etc. So I’m lucky in those respects, but with the summer holidays started I’m going to be fitting getting ready around activities with the kids and their friends, and also have to have the heads up on clothes washing. I’ll have to put aside the clothes I want to take, to stop Logan wearing them, or putting Taya in them! When this comes to me we may have a problem. I have such a small selection of clothes I actually like to wear and think I look decent in that I may struggle on using the same technique. Luckily I’ll be seeing my mum the two days before we depart so some emergency last minute washing/tumble drying may occur! 
Now, how do you go keeping two children happy for 15 hours? Well, you tell me as I have no idea really! Personally I hope they sleep as much as possible when in the car. However I have started to get things together to help ease any boredom. First off there will be snacks, plenty of snacks, although I’m not a fan of them in the car due to the choking risk they’ll be a back up solution (and eaten on the ferry where I’m sure food will be expensive!). For Logan I’ve got a few activity and sticker books. I’ve also printed out loads of free printables and colouring pages that I found off pinterest. We have an I spy bingo game, and he’ll have a couple of books. Taya is slightly more difficult to cater for, she’ll be happy drawing or colouring on paper, and I’ve got to find a cheap sticker book that’ll be ruined (I’m a bit OCD about things like that!) and we’ll also be taking her magnetic drawing boards. Again, I’m hoping she’ll sleep mostly in the car. The ferry will be easier, as although we’re on there for 8 hours (eek!!) there is lots to do. On-board they have a cinema and play areas, shops, and lots of places to wander round and tire them out. Logan is looking forward to looking out for dolphins and basking sharks (let’s see how quickly he’ll get bored of that!). We’re not constrained to a seat so this is our biggest trump card, and the one reason we chose this route. Fingers crossed it’s a smooth crossing and they’re not sea sick, I’m the only one who’s been on a ferry before, so I’m sure they’ll all be very excited! 

However, and this is a big however, everything is all down to Kibas car. We’ve discovered this week that there is a problem with the clutch. A problem which could put our whole trip down the pan. A problem we can’t afford to fix, so we’re just hoping that it gets us to Germany, and back. So please keep your fingers crossed, and everything else I think, that his car survives! I shall keep you updated, I’m hoping to do a couple of blog posts while we’re there, and shall be sharing photos/updates on both Instagram and Facebook, so make sure you’re following us!

Photo shows Logan and one of his cousins on a walk in 2014.