Preparing to Leave

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In the run up to leaving the UK, Rob and I had a month apart while we stayed with our parents and spent some quality time weeeeeewith family and friends. For Rob, this also meant longer to work, as well as some fun days out with his mum (there is an awesome photo of them on segways in the North Yorkshire countryside near Whitby, which I will aim to stick on here when he’s not watching (edit: found it!).

 

For me it was more relaxing (sorry Rob!). School was out for summer and so I got a chance to relax properly for the first time in a long time (don’t get me started on the myth of teachers and their oh-so frequent holidays; we are expected to work at home or in school through many of those). I have already mentioned an amazing week in the West Country with my two oldest friends. I also got to spend lots of time with my family, who I have been living in the opposite end of the country to. My hilarious parents, home cooked meals and John Lewis o’clock for cake made the transition back to living a home a breeze.

 
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For my birthday my parents had also bought me a trip to Paris with my mum. I am going to miss a lot about living in the UK, and right below proximity to family and friends is the proximity to Europe, European cities and all of their history and culture.
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I have totally taken for granted the luxury that is Eurostar. I will miss that speedy little train that takes me from my parents’ house to the centre of Paris in a few minutes over two hours. That is quite a treat.

So I soaked up the Parisienne atmosphere; walking the Jardin de Luxembourg, hot chocolat at Angelina’s, petit dejeuner at Carette in Places des Vosges, braving the chaos that is Montmartre for the views from the steps of the Sacre Coeur.
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On returning to Kent it was time for packing and Rob’s arrival from Yorkshire, before we began the mission of getting to Kathmandu… crazy crazy Kathmandu, where our welcoming words were the pilot telling us we were going to have to loop around for a bit, while they did some maintenance on the runway. More on that next time because we are here and about to be served momos!

Nic & Rob x

Girls go to Devon and Somerset

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The last of my girls’ holidays (before our big move) was possibly my favourite. My two best friends and I from school (not to make us feel old, but that’s 25 years of being best friends!) 10351319_10101562542131819_8629043504908197652_nhave been long-distance friends since we were 18, and try to meet up together at least once a year. As we’ve grown up, these meet-ups have evolved from daytrips to London, to week long girly retreats. We are hoping that once I’m settled down under we can start making them an international tradition and pick places in the middle.

This time was special though. It began with a surprise, because Laura did not know that Liz and I would be crashing arriving for her engagement party. Tears, Indian food and shots made for a brilliant evening. We then got to start our holiday a few days earlier, exploring the seaside towns of Devon with her and her fiance.

Devon is just beautiful. If NZ does not work out, I think I would be very happy to settle in the West Country.
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Then the original plan for our holiday – glamping on a farm near Bath. I had to work a little to convince the other two that this would be a good idea. We are brilliant friends perhaps because of our differences, and these lovely ladies do not seem to share my love of the outdoors (and all the creepy crawlies that come with it). I think that they were actually just humouring me because I am leaving the country, but I’m really glad they did.

I have never stayed in such a posh campsite! At the Farm Camp, we had a wood burner, beds and a candle chandelier. After a minor spider freak-out, the others grew to love it too and we spent a brilliant three days in our own little wilderness. I cooked my best camp food and reckon I might have converted them towards outdoor holidays! All the wine helped too.

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We finished our break with a bit of pampering. Unfortunately, because I will be in Nepal, I will miss Laura’s hen do and wedding later this year (making me a bridesmaid over Skype!). To get a little bit of that hen-do feeling, we decided that a spa day was needed. Luckily we were near one of the original spa towns, Bath, where we spend a glorious morning in the Thermae Spa, enjoying the rooftop pool, before undoing all that good work with cake, Thai food and wine. The perfect end to our girls’ escape.

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We’re Moving to New Zealand!

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Now that all of our notifications to our employers have been officially made, we can finally start to talk about our next adventure on here. Yes – there is a good reason why we suddenly started updating this website after a few years of down time. Earlier this year we began looking (seriously looking that is, after a long time of hypothesising!) into moving to one of our favourite places from our travels.

Our flights are booked, visas are approved and we are in the midst of a hundred boxes as we pack our lives up yet again.

Next month we will fly to Kathmandu (a close second on our list of favourite places) where we will meet with friends and family for a few weeks. Then we are heading to the mountains to go back and do the complete Annapurna Circuit.Picton

Finally, at the end of October we will be heading to New Zealand. Taking advantage of the end of our twenties, we are going out on Working Holiday Visas, which will allow us to live and work in NZ for the next 12-23 months while we test out life over there. Although the WHV process was a breeze, I’ve been jumping through many hoops to register as a teacher, something which I’ll go into more detail later for anyone in a similar position.

Hopefully it will all pay off, and we will love it there as much as we did when we were just flying through in 2010.

Belgium, Battlefields Trip

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One of the perks of being a teacher is the school trips. Well, it’s a perk for me anyway; I know plenty of teachers that would struggle to think of something they’d like to do less. For me though, any excuse to travel is fantastic, even if it is just up the motorway, or a quick hop across the Channel.
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As it is the 100th year since the start of World War One, my school had planned a remembrance trip to the Belgian town of Ypres. We took just over fifty students for three days to explore the towns, cemeteries and trenches of the region.

For many of my students it was the first time they had left our county, let alone country; one adorably intrepid traveller even had to check with us which currency to use at the Stansted services.

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It was such a valuable trip for all of us though, and was a great reminder for me of why travel is such an important part of my life. It enables us to see into others people’s lives, both those living now or a hundred years ago, and learn from them. I am not a historian and knew very little of WW1 apart from the poetry, so it was fascinating to learn about the lives and deaths of the men who fought in the region, and about the Belgian people who returned to rebuild their lives afterwards.

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The exposure to a life, so devastatingly different to their own, had a profound effect on many of our students, and I was so proud to see them acting so thoughtfully. Getting a teenager to explore their empathy is no easy task.

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Camping in the Lake District

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Last May Rob and I went camping for my birthday weekend at the Skyeside campsite near Brothers Water in the Lake District. It is one of my favourite parts of the country – hills and lakes, walking and whisky. I can’t think of a better way to spend my birthday. We were joined by two of our good friends, Matt and Katie, who Rob went to school with.  It was such a brilliant weekend, we decided to go again this year.Brothers Water refletion

The campsite is basic but has a shop and a really good pub, ideal as rainy days are inevitable in the late spring.

We are planning to do some more hiking this year(more on that in a few weeks), so thought that the six hour trek up to Hart and Dove Crag would be a great way to warm up for the summer, and give me a chance to use my new walking poles (thanks Nim!).
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The route was steep, gaining elevation quickly until we were walking right along the ridge opposite the campsite, looking down onto Brothers Water and the tiny dots of tents. The ancient looking wall drew a clear path along the top for us until we reached the bases of Hart and Dove Crags where we stopped for a very windswept picnic.
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The trip also gave me a chance to try out my new camera, the lomography Konstruktor which I built myself. It was a birthday present from Rob and I love shooting on film again after a break of years. It was so much fun that we’ve just purchased a pair of old Pentax SLRs so that we can get out and have even more film fun. (Konstruktor photos below)
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