Snapshots of New Zealand

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As I mentioned in my Snapshots of Wellington my main purpose for visiting New Zealand last month was to reunite with friends not to tour the country and although I left with most of the country left unseen the part of the country that I did see I feel I got to know really well.

I spent the majority of my trip with my friends and their 3 daughters down on the idyllic Pauatahanui Inlet, about 10 minutes from Porirua City and after five and a half years apart it was so special to see what life in New Zealand is like for them.

I got to go on the school run and collect groceries, to potter in the garden, visit their family and attend church with them. All very simply things, but very special things when done with friends.

I also got to stroll past many familiar sights that I had only seen in photographs; the beautiful beach huts of Paremata, the sweet church of St. Albans at Pauatahanui and the sea shell shore of Bottle Creek.

I even managed to squeeze in an exhibition at the Pataka Museum in Porirua, a movie at the most gorgeous art house cinema in Petone, as well as a drive up the coast to the Nga Manu Nature Reserve where I was delighted to get up close with a beautiful New Zealand parrot called the Kaka and see the famous nocturnal kiwi bird.

It feels somewhat unreal that I went all the way to the other side of the world – on my own! – to be with them. This trip was not something I had planned it was something that just kind of happened unexpectedly and I’m so grateful for it. The solo travel was good for me and I left New Zealand full of inspiration and conversations that will carry me through until we meet again.

Have you ever traveled abroad alone? Where did you go?

Snapshots of Wellington

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Last month I embarked on my first ever solo trip – all the way to New Zealand! Now this visit to New Zealand wasn’t your typical visit to New Zealand. Most people who go all the way to New Zealand have the common sense to take at least 3-4 weeks to properly explore the country, but I on the other hand went only for 9 nights!

You see the purpose of my trip was not to tour the country but to reunite with friends so I spent the majority of my trip with them down on the Pauatahanui Inlet (about 20 minutes from the capital city) but added on 2 nights in Wellington at the start of my trip so as to adjust to the timezone and do some sight seeing.

I only had 48 hours in Wellington but I managed to cram a lot into my visit, including:

In Wellington I stayed at the Travel Lodge by Plimmer Steps for a bargain price which provided me with a comfortable room and great location for exploring the city. It was just a 2 minute walk from Lambton Quay in the central business district (which provided me with ample souvenir shops and a Starbucks) and was only a 5 minute walk from the cable car and just a little more to the waterfront.

Wellington turned out to be a really walkable and friendly city and as a lone female traveler I felt incredibly self. Locals stopped to give me directions and help me read maps, taxi drives told me their family migration stories and bus drivers took the effort to make sure I got off at the right stop.

It’s also a really clean and arty city with quirky monuments and statues not only along the waterfront but throughout the city as well and it’s all framed by those rolling green hills.

I can see why it was voted the most liveable city in the world in 2018.  There are not many cities I visit that I feel I could happily live in but Wellington now makes it onto that list, along with Edinburgh.

Where was your last travel destination?

Snapshots of Saint Malo

Snapshots of Saint Malo | The Open HomeSnapshots of Saint Malo | The Open Home

Snapshots of Saint Malo | The Open Home

Snapshots of Saint Malo | The Open Home

Snapshots of Saint Malo | The Open Home

Snapshots of Saint Malo | The Open Home

Snapshots of Saint Malo | The Open Home

Snapshots of Saint Malo | The Open Home

Snapshots of Saint Malo | The Open Home

Snapshots of Saint Malo | The Open Home

Snapshots of Saint Malo | The Open Home

Snapshots of Saint Malo | The Open Home

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This trip to Saint Malo was our first family holiday since our visit to Edinburgh and the Scottish Highlands in summer 2014 and the first time off island for little Bubbles.

We found a fabulous airbnb just a short walk from the harbour and walled city and there was even a supermarket and park within a few minutes walk, it really was the perfect base.

We only had 3 full days in France, but in that time managed to explore the walled city of Saint Malo, spot sharks at the Grand Aquarium and stroke giant tortoises at Alligator Bay near Mont Saint Michel.

We also ate lots of croissants, madeleines, galettes and crepes and even squeezed in some ice-cream too.

It was a really chilled family holiday and a great introduction to France for us, we’ll most definitely be returning.

What’s your favourite city in France?

 

 

My Top Ten European Destinations (so far)

This is not a travel blog and I am by no means a travel guru, but a little while ago a friend requested that I share the favourite places I have visited in Europe and I thought I would oblige her request, because perhaps my other readers may be interested too.

The Husby and I have travelled far less in recent years since becoming parents, simply because we now live on one income and have little ones to factor in our travel plans. However, we still enjoy traveling when we can and my ultimate travel goal would be to visit every country in Europe. Ambitious I know, I’ve made it to 20 European countries so far, but admit I have only visited some of these countries very briefly.

Before revealing my list let me state that I’m pretty sure that cities like Rome and Barcelona would be on my list if only I had actually visited them. Most of my European travels have been in the Central and Northern European countries and I have yet to tick off a lot of Eastern Europe. But for now my top 10 places in Europe, in the order in which we visited them are;

Continue reading “My Top Ten European Destinations (so far)”

Snapshots of Riga

 

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For our 10th wedding anniversary we decided to go on a short city break to Riga in Latvia. Having visited many European cities we wanted to go somewhere new to us, not too hot and preferably somewhere with an old town and Riga fit the bill perfectly.

I was both nervous and excited about this trip. Nervous because it was the first time we were leaving the girls with their grandparents for the weekend and excited because I hadn’t been off the island in 2 years, not since our trip to Edinburgh and the Scottish Highlands in 2014.

Well the girls were practically angels for their grandparents and Riga did not disappoint! It turned out to be the perfect choice for a charming weekend getaway filled with cobbled streets, medieval buildings and pretty autumnal gardens. My favourite city moment was strolling hand in hand through the many central parks that Riga has to offer, it’s a wonderfully chilled city and incredibly family friendly.

Latvian culture really intrigues me and I definitely want to return and explore this country more fully, next time with my kiddies.

Have you visited any of the Baltic States?

Malawi Flashbacks

I can hardly believe that today marks ten years since we first visited the country of Malawi in southern Africa. Malawi was such a huge part of our lives and dreams for so many years that I can’t help but take this opportunity to look back and reflect on our time in the country and what we learnt from our experiences.

2006:

Flashbacks and reflections of our trips to Malawi | The Open Home
Lilongwe Market a burst of vibrant colour.
Flashbacks and reflections of our trips to Malawi | The Open Home
A very obliging model in Dedza with his load of sugar cane.
Flashbacks and reflections of our trips to Malawi | The Open Home
Picture perfect Salima on Lake Malawi.
Flashbacks and reflections of our trips to Malawi | The Open Home
The older baby room at The Crisis Nursery in capital city, Lilongwe.
Flashbacks and reflections of our trips to Malawi | The Open Home
The moment Malawi captured my heart.

Heading out to southern Africa at 19 years old with my then fiance, just four months before we got married was thought to be crazy to most people. However, it turned out to be one of the best decisions we ever made as it was during this trip that we confirmed our call to serve in some form of full-time ministry. We had a heart for mission (both at home and overseas) and Malawi definitely tugged on our heart strings.

2007:

Flashbacks and reflections of our trips to Malawi | The Open Home
Fresh water.
Flashbacks and reflections of our trips to Malawi | The Open Home
Full tummies at the feeding centre in Mgona.
Flashbacks and reflections of our trips to Malawi | The Open Home
Learning through play.
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Joining in the fun.
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It’s at moments like these that I loved being an OT Assistant!

Our first visit left us wanting to learn more so a year later we returned to stay with a missionary family who had been living and working in the country for many years. We learnt so much about life in Malawi and the benefits of living simply so that others can simply live. I loved putting my occupational therapy assistant skills to use and we could really picture our futures being here.

2009: 

Flashbacks and reflections of our trips to Malawi | The Open Home
With smiles like this you can see why we kept returning!
Flashbacks and reflections of our trips to Malawi | The Open Home
Bathtime Malawi style!
Flashbacks and reflections of our trips to Malawi | The Open Home
Quite possibly the happiest little girl in the world!
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Cafe culture in Malawi is pretty sweet!
Flashbacks and reflections of our trips to Malawi | The Open Home
A sweet face I’ll never forget.

This third visit challenged me in many ways and saw me stepping outside of my comfort zone on quite a few occasions. Ultimately I learnt that serving God would at times break my heart and that I would need resilience to work in the areas I felt most called.

2011:

Flashbacks and reflections of our trips to Malawi | The Open Home
Beautiful chitenje fabric in the market of Bvumbwe.
Flashbacks and reflections of our trips to Malawi | The Open Home
Football camps are popular in Malawi.
Flashbacks and reflections of our trips to Malawi | The Open Home
Malawian made footballs.
Flashbacks and reflections of our trips to Malawi | The Open Home
Playing OT Assistant again at COBT.
Flashbacks and reflections of our trips to Malawi | The Open Home
This mother kindly let us take a family photo of her with her daughter and newborn twin boys, Crispin and Christopher, on the maternity ward in Bvumbwe.

This was to be our final visit to the country as we hoped to move out to serve full-time the following year. After this trip we left the country feeling confident about where we felt we could best serve – The Husby with the local church and me, amongst orphans and street kids.

Five years on from that final visit and no, we are not living in Malawi, but we are working with the local church here in Guernsey and continue to have a vision and a passion for orphans and children in care.

Life is sometimes unexpected and in time we learnt that our calling to serve God was not restricted to the context of Malawi.

Malawi will always hold a very dear place in our hearts as we wouldn’t be who we are or where we are today without the country being part of our story. I now look forward to the day that I can return to Malawi, this time introducing my girls to the country that captured my heart.

Is there a country that has captured your heart?

Snapshots of the Scottish Highlands

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We tagged a few days in Fort William on to our time in Edinburgh so that we could enjoy the beauty of the Scottish Highlands, a place The Husby

The highlights for me were the road trips to Fort William via Loch Lomond, the quality time spent with our friends, exploring Fort William with our sleeping babe and finally getting up close with the infamous “heelun coo!”

The Scottish Highlands are a wonderful choice for a rejuvenating family holiday.

Where have you travelled to recently?