Tag Archives: UK travel

What an English spring means

What an English spring means

The days are getting longer and lighter, which is lovely. The weather is still thoroughly English though.

Here’s Cambridge, on the bank holiday, at 18:51. Rowers turn in the sunshine and it’s all pretty idyllic.
Rowers on the Cam in bright sun

And then a few minutes later, at 19:20, the people we’re waiting for turn up and we can all go for a picnic a nice stroll a quick dash to a soggy dinner in the pub.
A narrowboat docks in pouring rain

Still a lovely weekend though, as I’m sure all present will agree.

A new year, a new(ish) adventure

A new year, a new(ish) adventure
A new year, a new(ish) adventure

Red kite (bird of prey) in a blue sky

I completely dropped this blog in the last quarter of the year, so thank you for waiting out the drought.

As usual, in the last three months my life has shifted course. We got back to the UK on 2 November, but didn’t stop travelling until mid-December. We spent the first month shooting around the country, trying to see people we missed, make it to important events and pull the threads of a settled life together.

We’re making our home in Oxfordshire again. I DID NOT see that coming at all, but we’ve had a couple of lucky breaks so hopefully this winter will be a good one. Although I love the caravan to bits, last winter was very wet, which made getting out harder and it did get lonely. A lack of both public and private transport made it hard to get to events and meet new people (or just buy groceries). Distance kept us from the people we already know and like, so it was an isolating experience.

Trees and boats reflected in the River Thames at sunset in winter

This winter looks to be very different. It’s already drier, we have a working car, a regular bus service and good train connections. we’re based in a pretty village, instead of on an isolated farm, and have WALLS. Yep – one of our pieces of luck means we have a lovely house to live in. K has work in an office, and I’ve got plenty of freelance work.

We’re close to the Thames and are enjoying walks by the river, visiting local pubs (there are 5 within a 15-minute walk!) and spotting local wildlife. There is a lot of bird life here – I’m not going to say I’ve seen a flock of cockatoos, but I’ve seen hundreds of water birds, gulls, pigeons, a few song birds (they’re harder to spot) and up to 8 red kites in one go.

Red kites (birds of prey) swirl against a blue sky

 

The kites are absolutely beautiful birds, and the way they fly is amazing. They have such elegant control over their trajectories. Watching them makes me cross about the mechanistic descriptions of flight in Jonathan Livingston Seagull all over again… I love that I can sit at my desk and see them out the window. It’s even better on a sunny, blue-sky day, but those are in somewhat short supply during an English winter.

We’re settling in nicely, and even bought some furniture. I don’t know how long this phase will last – I’ll let you know what new adventures turn up, in Oxfordshire and beyond!

Notes from an Essex island

Notes from an Essex island

Just a reminder that the UK can be beautiful…

Sea at Mersea Island

… and sunny.

From left to right, the sea, beach and footpath on Mersea Island

We’re on Mersea Island, in Essex, spending a few days with my mum before we leave on our Grand Adventure. It’s really pretty here. We’re staying in a 3-bedroom static caravan, which is as neat and carefully designed as our own van (it’s even made by the same people: Swift). I rather like it – I think there’s plenty of space for a permanent home, and easier to keep clean and tidy than a flat or house. The park is lovely and green, too, and very close to the sea.

I’ve also been trying out my new camera, and am really impressed by how much I got for my money. I bought a Panasonic Lumix TZ35 for about £120 (we had a voucher) and took this standing in the sea, pointing downwards. The snail was about the size of my thumbnail.

Sea snail at Mersea Island