The journey northwards 

Like Santa, I keep a list of family and friends I want to see more of on our trips over, especially as we can break our journey from London to Edinburgh. Now I’m not going on the record to say that I have a naughty and a nice list like Santa but if you enjoy listening to Hamilton the Musical daily or have a park with a zip line then there’s a good chance we’ll be at your door in 2017. 

On this trip a friend from university hosted us overnight and  some of our uni friends and their families. A most excellent time was had. I could never have had such a great catch up without my friends hospitality. Zoey and Nomi had a blast – lots of kids, different toys, Dolphins Tale, sandwiches without crusts and a zip line in the park *cough cough*. 

The next day we headed off on our epic train journeys to go stay with one of my aunts. We had to change trains THREE times. THREE TIMES. Three changes was a pain in the ass with the luggage. Thankfully I got help. People were very helpful when they saw me traveling solo with luggage and two Pingus. I was also VERY vocal to Z & N about my plan to get us on and off trains. “I’ll get you two off first and then I’ll get the luggage. This is the trains last stop so we have time. Don’t worry.” When you’ve repeated that loudly three or four times to your kids everyone in the carriage knows your plan and someone steps up to help. 

We survived the train trips and got to my aunt’s before her (as ironically she too was coming up from the south). We had a chance to settle in and the girls went a bit wild in Tescos. I don’t think anyone had seen two kids more excited about toothbrushes with suckers on them! The cashier let them scan their own items which just added to their levels of excitement. 

We had a great stay at my aunt’s. It gave us a chance to recover from the trains and rally for our final leg in Edinburgh. 

Here’s more out of order photos 🙂 

Red squirrel! 

On the train Nomi invented a game “Flush or super flush”. If a woman walked by it was a one arm rest flush and if a man a double arm rest super flush. 

There is a fantastic nature park near by aunt’s with a streams, hides and paths. Well worth a visit if you are in the area. 

When we arrived off the train Nomi and Zoey clocked the statue and shouted “pirate fairy angel!” 

And then we trotted off to Edinburgh for the final leg. 



We spent three weeks in London with my dad and step-mum in February. My dad has advanced cancer and can’t travel so the primary purpose of our trip over was to see him and give a morale boost as he flamed out of chemo in January.

I didn’t realize how stressed and worried I was about him until I came home and physically felt lighter. When we got there he was recovering very slowly but us all just being there and hanging out fast tracked things. He went from laying on the sofa like a bald Bond villain to pottering in the kitchen and managed a few days out.

We didn’t do as much in London as I thought we might but we did a lot. It was a really good trip and much needed. (And it only took two weeks for Z & N to relax enough to let my dad cook for them!)

So, these photos are out of order and I’m doing this on my phone so I think we can all live with that.

We had a few solo days out in London mainly to the London aquarium with my little Octonauts. We got to feed rays and watch sharks. It was pretty good but no cafe.

 We live in a typical suburban neighborhood which means you need a car to get anywhere. Sure you could walk 20 mins to get to the strip mall but do you really want to.

My dad lives a short block away from a high street with cafes and shops. It was fun being able to walk to lunch or run errands. Some people like to vacation near the beach we like to be steps away from really good jam donuts.

We took advantage of all the south London highlights. We checked out local parks trying to find a really fast slide (found one), fed the ducks and did trolley drifting around IKEA.


Told you we went back to the Rays. Fantastic to watch.

And the sharks.

And the ducks.

We ate cake in lots of cafes. We like a nice cafe.

My dad indulged the girls and got them electric quad bikes. They did not go very fast.

One night we hauled our collective asses to the Chiswick house light festival. Which was magical and exhausting for all of us.


They wouldn’t stand still for a photo. This one eating sandwiches was the best I could get. It was really late for them – we got there after 5pm and walked for over an hour. It was magical though.


My dad betting away one morning. Well enough to sit at the table and getting his mobility back.

Another cafe! This was at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. We did a day trip to see one of my cousins and this museum is fab. It was practically empty on Saturday morning. The girls practiced their map reading to get us around and a fantastic shop and cafe in the basement.

Burying my dad with cushions.

My dad wakes early and is at his best at 6am like us. So the mornings were loud and fun.

Flash forward to teenage Nomi here. Totally get it we all missed our car and living in a bungalow (having to climb stairs to pee got old quick).

Lots of family came to visit us. Aunts and cousins spread over many days. It was all good. Nomi and Zoey got lots of LOUD rowdy aunt time which is what we all need!

Testimont to my dad accepting help he went around Kew Gardens in a wheel chair.

Girls decorating a fancy birthday cake for one of my cousins.

Took the great aunts to meet the ducks.

And then three weeks were gone and we were off on our next adventure leaving behind fridge magnets and stickers everywhere.

Trains & Pingus! 

A little behind on our exciting adventures… 

Saturday saw us hauling ourselves out of bed at the usual weekday time to get to the station to take the 8:10am train into NYC to go to the zoo. That morning penguin feeding time had us hustling! 

We got out fairly smoothly barring Zoey laying down and bursting into tears after she had to add more layers to her outfit (a fleece and cord pants). 

“I can’t move. Too many clothes!”

I hear you Zoey! None of us wanted to layer up but it was a sunny but blustery day. 

We had a good day out, the train journey was very exciting (especially the double decker train on the way back but NJ transit is still not fast enough for our little ones who want to break the sound barrier) and the zoo was much more interesting to them this year. Our supersmeller (Nomi) managed to tolerate the penguin enclosure. Love of penguins trumps smells and semi-darkness! Though she turned on her heels at the tropic zone because that was “too smelly” and obviously no penguins. 


They loved the map. It had pictures of the animals on them so they could tell us what they wanted see. Big win. 



The penguins,  sea lions, bears and birds were the big hits of the zoo. We had a good day, exhausting but good. Saturday also acted as a tester our trip to the UK, a long day out without the car. I learnt many good lessons: 

  • Normal snack protocol is off. Traveling all day means hourly snacks and a proper lunch out. It’s hungry work. 
  • Must have an emergency snack for the last journey of the day just in case it needs to be deployed. 
  • Nomi will touch everything. Particularly everything shiny in the subway so wipes for everyone. 
  • Zoey and Nomi talked non-stop about everything so I think they will be fine flying and traveling.

Elevated railway 

We’ve watched a few Thomas fan videos of home built tracks on YouTube. It’s been giving Nomi and Zoey ideas about roller coaster tracks as they call them and it’s cultivated their interest in crashes. 

A lot of tape and blocks are involved, and small pieces of furniture. It’s all good stuff, and needless to say the trains keep up a narrative as they face these new dangers. 

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