We have arrived in Europe
Christened “Sunny” by the kids, Sunny is a 17 year old, 7 metre Knaus Sun Traveller motorhome. Sunny has been well loved and seen a lot of Europe, with 161,000 km on the clock. He has a set of bunk beds at the rear for the kids, who are very excited to have their own beds again. Our bed is over the front cabin. There is a teeny tiny bathroom, 2 tables and a little kitchen with gas hobs and fridge.
A welcome change of pace
The motorhome is a welcome change of pace for us after 3 months travelling through Japan, India and Africa. While overall we are definitely enjoying the trip, there is no denying it is tough at times. Small hotel rooms, frequent travel days and lack of open space for the kids to play started to wear us down. In Botswana the kids were constantly afraid they were going to be eaten by a lion or a hippo and consequently never left our side! South Africa offered plenty of open space but we were on the move every two days or so and homesickness started to kick in, particularly for the kids.
Needless to say it was very, very exciting to unpack the backpacks when we purchased Sunny. We won’t need to unpack them for 5 months or so as we explore Europe! Now we are hoping to slow down, resist the urge to see everything and enjoy the time away from our regular life.
Arriving in London
We flew to London from South Africa on Easter Monday. We had a lovely time visiting my Uncle John, his partner Julian and their two chocolate labradors Delilah and Matilda. The kids had so much fun playing with the dogs, feeding the chickens, collecting eggs and cuddling the guinea pigs.
While we were in Yoxford I attended a naturalisation ceremony to become a British citizen. I was planning to submit my UK passport application straight away. However I was told I would need to surrender my Australian passport. Which may not be returned for up to 6 weeks. I baulked, quickly packed up my application and left the post office clutching my passport! I spent a few days agonising over whether to apply. After calling the passport office and agonising some more I decided to apply. It may come in handy as we travel through Europe and it has been such a long process to obtain the UK passport I couldn’t stumble at the last hurdle!
A change of plan
Needless to say this has changed our plans quite dramatically. Our initial plan was to spend a few days in London then fly to Amsterdam to pick up the motor home. We were then going to drive as fast as possible to Portugal and Spain until the rest of Europe warmed up a tad. However with no passport for at least a couple of weeks, Matt and the kids flew across to the Netherlands to pick up the motor home. They came back over via the ferry and we will explore England and Wales while we wait.
Before Matt and the kids ventured off to Amsterdam to pick up Sunny, we spent 4 days exploring the amazing sights (and shops) of London from our base at Streatham, where we stayed with friends. London is such a great city – it has been more than 15 years since I visited but there is just so much to do and see.
It isn’t possible to pack as much in to a day of sightseeing as we used to pre-kids, but we still managed to squeeze in a lot of sights. Tower of London, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Hamley’s toy store, St James Park, the British Museum and the Natural History Museum to name a few. We also made sure we caught a few rides on the iconic double decker red buses which the kids absolutely loved.
Amelie and I went to see the stage production of Matilda while Matt and Harvey went to see Chelsea vs Southampton at Stamford Bridge. The great thing about London is that while it is a very expensive city, there are heaps of amazing free museums and galleries to visit. Plus the kids travelled for free on all public transport.
Exploring England and Wales
We are a little under prepared for the chilly english weather (it got to a MAXIMUM of 9 degrees in London last week), but we are still enjoying our impromptu tour of the South and the Midlands. We had considered visiting Scotland but it has been SO COLD here in the past few weeks we opted not to drive too far north! So far we have visited Eastbourne, Battle and the surrounding South Downs National Park, Stonehenge, and Bibury in The Cotswolds.
Our thoughts are to continue west to Northern Wales before weaving back to Dover and head to France and Spain. Any suggestions for must visit places while we are here are welcome!