Brown and blue

Monday, October 29, 2012

Happy Halloween

This past weekend we did all things American when it came to Halloween. First off we got to go to a Halloween/Birthday party and then trick or treat right after that.  Last year I think I said there was no Halloween in the Netherlands but I was wrong!  There is just not Halloween everywhere in the Netherlands. 

Here is the odd part.  Only certain neighborhoods do have trick or treating.  You have to sign up in order to hand out candy.  The kids have to pay a fee to go around to the houses.  You are given a map to know which houses to go to. The houses go all out decorating and scaring people.  You are expected to sing a song for your candy. The candy is not individually wrapped and still considered safe!  Well lets just say it was all a little odd but sort of felt like home and was fun for Jackson to experience.  He was ok with walking up to the house but not ok with taking anything from a stranger. Good boy!!

Jackson and his friend Liam
Ready to trick or treat
The first house
Sunday was a great day too!  We were going to go to Germany to a little town that has a Halloween celebration but after a really long week we decided to take it easy at home. It was my favorite kind of day.  Josh and Jackson carved a pumpkin, while I roasted up the pumpkin seeds.  I made some homemade pumpkin puree (since you can't really find it in a can here), we went to the park and played in the leaves and tried to take some pictures of Jackson.  Such a relaxing yet kind of busy day spent at home. :) Ah, I can't wait for next weekend!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Part 3: Traveling the countryside

Friday morning we were off again.  We were planning to leave around 9 am, but you know plans don't always go how you would like!  We woke up to having a flat tire, so Josh had to take it in to town to be repaired. Gotta love having nails on the road!

After a couple of hours we were off. Our first stop was to Stonehenge.  This really is an incredible site. I have no idea how it was possible to get all those rocks in one place thousands of years ago but it was a great site to see. There wasn't much else in the area so it was a quick stop and we were back on the road.

Jackson had just woken up so he was not too happy
We we're planning to stop in Bath along the way to see the Roman Baths but our delay made us change our minds.  We still had a long way to go to get to Cardiff, Wales. In the end, I'm not exactly sure why we decided to go here other than we wanted to get another country on our belt. We walked around for a little while saw the city center and had a quick dinner at TGI Friday's.  Funny thing the only time we eat at american restaurants is when we're traveling around Europe.

Cardiff Castle in the middle of the city
Sunday we were back on the road and we had a 4 hour journey ahead of us. We went from coast to coast of England. We broke it up by stopping at Windsor Castle.  If you didn't know, this is where the queen stays when she is not at Buckingham Palace in London.  The castle was awesome and so was the little city.  What great little shops! It was a great place to visit and if we would have had more time we would definitely have toured the castle.

Windsor Castle
On the road again.... Our next and final stop was in Dover.  We decided to spend the night in Dover so it would be easy to get back on the ferry in the morning.  Luckily for us our not so great hotel was full and they didn't have a room for us. They asked if we minded being sent to their 4 star sister hotel right down on the pier. Of course no we didn't mind at all!  We got to stay right on the water played on the "beach" of rocks and had an amazing dinner looking out into the ocean.  It was a great way to end our trip.

The white cliffs of Dover

Playing in the rocks

A great family vacation

It seems it was a good time to end the trip, because since we have been home we have now all caught the flu.  It seems maybe traveling took it out of us! 

Part 2 of the UK: London

Monday morning we were off to London, we took a train into the city which was great!  It was so easy!  We got on at the first stop of the line and got off at the last stop, or maybe because they were speaking English and we knew just what to do...

When we arrived we had a quick stop at the hotel to drop off our things and went straight out for some lunch.  Our hotel was right across the street from the London Eye and about a 3 minute walk to Big Ben and the Parliament. Lucky us! 
Jackson by the London Eye  

The Parliament
Big Ben

We had lunch next to the London Eye and then decided to walk around for a while since the line was huge to go up in it.  After our walk we stopped back in and guess what no line!  We got to go right up in the Eye and see the amazing view of the city! 
View from the London Eye
Family pic in the Eye

Afterwards we had a great dinner at a place called Giraffe, it was advertised as a kid friendly place so we thought why not. It was just like an american restaurant!  We loved it and Jackson loved it (maybe that's why we loved it)  we had fish and chips!  Yummy! Afterwards we decided to call it a day so Jackson could get down and run around in the hotel for a while before bed.

So happy at dinner

Our dinner at the Giraffe
Even in the heart of London, Jackson finds tractors

The London Eye at night

Tuesday morning the sun was shining :) and we were taking a bus tour around the city, the bus tour here seemed silly almost.  All things are really close together and traffic is so bad, it's almost faster to walk places. So that's pretty much what we ended up doing.  We got off at Buckingham Palace and continued on foot from there. We walked through Hyde Park, and Kensington Gardens. This was quite a haul, but it was so neat. Jackson got to play at the Princess Diana Memorial Park and then we had tasty lunch of McDonalds!

Buckingham Palace
The guards were changing
Playing at the park

Princess Diana Memorial Fountain

Playing at the memorial park
That afternoon we went down Oxford Street, a mile and a half of all the best shopping. Our highlight being Hamley's toystore.  It is 5 floors of toys.  It was so fun even for us!! Jackson loved it. I wish we still had more toy stores around!

Insdie the Hamley's Store
Afterwards we just kept on walking back to our hotel and saw some of the sites along the way. Like Picadilly Circus, the world's tallest man, some theaters, the list really can go on and on.  After a long day out we decided to have dinner in our room and rest our tired feet!

Picadilly Circus
Josh by the world's tallest man
Wednesday, our final day in London, we took the bus tour out to the Tower of London and the London bridge.  Another amazing sight.  We played around here for a while and then headed back to our room for nap time.  While Jackson slept I got to go out on my own SHOPPING!  For a solid three hours. It was so nice, believe it or not, I didn't really end up buying much.  It was all just a little overwhelming.

London Bridge in the background

Playing by the bridge

We had a great dinner out at a pub Wednesday night. I got bangers and mash (sausage and mash potatoes) and we had guiness.  A great way to end our day!

Thursday morning we were headed back out to our friends house. What a perfect trip, something just had to go wrong.  As we were coming up in the elevator from breakfast, Jackson must have grabbed the door to the elevator.  It sucked in his pointer finger and it was STUCK between the door and the door frame. It was awful, he was screaming and we couldn't get it out. Luckily, there was another man in the elevator with us and he helped me push the door to one side and his finger came out.  The door to the elevator closed with a huge chunk of Jackson's skin on it. It was immediately swollen and bleeding but after much review we decided it just needed a band-aid or plaster as they called it.

Jackson cried for about an hour and then was so worn out he fell asleep.  After his nap, you couldn't even tell anything happened to him.  He was so happy and moving his finger around just like normal. It is still a little swollen and has a small scab but that's it.  It scared us to death, I was certain we were going to pull him hand out and he was going to be missing a finger.  Poor baby!

Other than that we had the best time in London.  What an amazing city with so much to see!  We loved it and I hope I get to go back there again some day!

Our Trip to the UK: part 1

 Our trip to the UK was so long and we did so much I thought I would break it up a little bit! Otherwise you might be reading a novel!

Lucky me I was only home about 10 days between my trip to Barcelona and we were off on another adventure.  The joys of living abroad :)

Instead of flying we decided to take the ferry across the English Channel to get to England. What this means is we drive 3 hours, through the Netherlands, Belgium and France to hop on a boat for 2 hours and then we drove another hour an a half in England to the place we were staying. It was a long day in the car but who can say they have been to 4 countries in just one day? We can!
Playing on the ferry

The ferry was really neat, we just drove our car right on board, hopped out, had some lunch while Jackson played in the play place and before we knew it, it was time to get back in our car and drive off the boat. Only this time we were to be driving on the "wrong" side of the road! I was really nervous about this, but it turned out to be fine.  Josh did great and I only got a little excited a couple of times.

So much excitement he couldn't stay awake
We were lucky enough to be able to stay with some friends while we were there which made the experience even better. I think it's always  nice to see the country as not just a tourist and how a local sees it.  Did I mention they live on a farm? Jackson was in heaven.  There were tractors, combines and tons of open space to just run.  He didn't even know what to do with himself.  He said tractor on repeat the whole time we were there. Making me swear I would never buy him a tractor again!!
The Combine!

We spent the remainder of the day just playing with Jackson outside and then Saturday we went off on our first adventure to Warwick's Castle.  This was about a two hour drive for us and to be honest wasn't quite worth it.  It was a neat place for a 5-7 year old boy but Jackson didn't care, he would have rather just played outside in the mud with the tractors. Actually he did find a tractor there and fell in the mud to get to it!  (He has a good eye)

Inside at Warwick's Castle
The Queen was there :)
Jackson sharing his lunch with dad
The tractor
They had a bird show and we got get really close to the eagle
Woah! Playing on the playground
Sunday we got to go to our friends' daughter's Christening.  It was in an amazing old church, and was really neat to be apart of it all.  The party to follow was even better.  We got to meet lots of new people and had a great time, even when Jackson had us locked up in the toy room playing with cars.

The house they live in is about 300 years old. Can you believe it? It was unbelievable, an old farm house with a good 6+ bedrooms. It goes on and on, so much character. It felt like we were living in the movies. We loved it.
The house we stayed in from the back

Playing outside, so happy!

We had such a good time staying with them and it made us even more homesick to be around such a great family!  We can't thank them enough for letting us stay and making us feel right at home!