In early July Grandma and Grandpa came for a visit. We took a trip South to Cornwall!

We stayed in Lelant, near St. Ives. While we weren’t right on the water, we were just a short drive away from a beautiful beach.

St. Ives is very pretty. It has lots of cute shops and restaurants. We ate dinner looking out at the water.

Land’s End is the most Westerly point on mainland Britain. The day we visited was bright and sunny. We took a hike along the coastal cliffs.

Amongst the tourist attractions at Land’s End is a model village. Giant baby!

We had lunch in Penzance (as in “Pirates of…”). The local crab was very tasty. There were palm trees growing all over the place!

There are standing stones and ancient things all over Britain. We found this neolithic dolmen, Lanyon Quoit, along the side of a road.

We then continued on to the Levant Mine, an old tin mine. A working steam beam engine is located on site and run by a group of mechanically inclined volunteers. The mine is situated in a beautiful location on the coast, but looks like industrial ruins. In 1919, thirty-one men were killed at Levant mine when the main rod of the man engine snapped. The lowest levels were then abandoned and the mine completely shut down in the 1930s.

After having Sunday lunch in the beer garden we had a picnic dinner on the beach.

The following day we drove up to Exmouth to see the Jurassic coast. The accessible path was perfect for strollers. The geoneedle at the top was unveiled by Prince Charles and is made from the different types of stone found along the coast. Neil liked the stones.

We stopped in a park on the way home to let Neil run around in the shade.

All in all it was a fabulous trip with amazing weather!

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Continuing our Belgian adventures, we left Brugge and headed towards Ghent. Ghent was much cooler than we were expecting, and we were disappointed that we didn’t have more time to spend exploring it.

The historic center of Ghent has another Belfry, part of the Belfries of Belgium and France World Heritage site. It is in a cluster of historic buildings in the city center and adjacent to the rather unusual Market Hall.

Feeling a bit pecking, we stopped at a cute little cafe for some coffee and waffles.

We then walked to the begijnhof/beguinage of Our-Lady Ter Hooyen just outside the city center. It was a very peaceful place, with a large central square surrounded by charming row houses. Neil practiced his walking on the paths.

After walking back to the town center we tracked down the most amazing frites (fries) of our entire trip.

Unfortunately at this point we had to hit the road and continue on so that we could make it to Brussels before bed time.

The next morning we made our way into the city center and headed towards La Grand-Place (number 49). There was a jazz festival set up in the square that blocked some of our views.

Near La Grand-Place is the famous peeing statue, Manneken Pis. He was so little! Neil wasn’t impressed.

Manneken Pis is often dressed in costumes, and there is a museum in La Grand-Place with many of the costumes on display. There were ethnic costumes from many countries, a hockey uniform, and even a cosmonaut suit. All of them specially tailored to allow Manneken Pis to keep…pissing.

Later in the day we paid a visit to the Belgian Comic Strip Center. It had a good bit of Tintin stuff, but a large portion of the museum featured Belgian comics we weren’t familiar with. We still had a good time. Doesn’t Tintin look like Neil?

The next day we left Brussels and headed south to the Four Lifts on the Canal du Centre. We had perfect weather for a short hike along the canal.

We stopped for lunch in the beautiful square in Tournai. There we feasted on ice cream and baguettes. We tried two types of baguette – one with cured ham, brie, and honey. The other was tuna and…peaches. Sounds strange but it was delicious!

After lunch we stopped by the Cathedral. It was undergoing extensive renovations and you couldn’t really see the inside.

Since it was Memorial Day, we felt that a visit to the Flanders Fields American Cemetery would be a fitting end to our trip. The cemetery was very peaceful with beautiful flowers. We missed the Memorial Day ceremony that was held that morning, but the wreaths were still on display and each grave was decorated with a Belgian and an American flag.

After our last stop we drove back to the ferry. We spent the last night on the ferry before returning home. To top off the trip, we saw all of this on just one tank of gas. Go Aygo!

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We recently took a waffle-fueled trip to Belgium!

We left on a Wednesday afternoon and drove down to Hull where we took the overnight ferry to Zeebrugge. Our cabin was nothing fancy, but it was fine. Neil liked cruising along the lower bunks.

We arrived in Zeebrugge early on Thursday morning and made the short drive to Brugge/Bruges. We checked in at our hotel and then quickly made our way the Markt (market square) in search of waffles!

There are two main types of waffles in Belgium – the Brussels waffle and the Liege waffle. Brussels waffles are lighter and somewhat crispy. Liege waffles are denser and the sugar in them carmelizes on the outside. Neil liked both kinds.

Fueled with waffles, we then climbed up the 366 steps to the top of Belfry. On the way up we got to see the carillon and the giant drum used to program the bells.

After descending from the tower we wandered the streets and admired how pretty Brugge is.

At this point we were hungry again and decided to sample some of Belgium’s famous beers over lunch. They are tasty, and when in Belgium they are much more affordable (more on this later).

We continued on to visit the Church of Our Lady, where Michelangelo’s Madonna of Bruges lives. Like every cathedral in Europe, this one was undergoing renovations. Neil liked walking (with help) around the choir.

We continued our wandering towards the Béguinage, part of our 3rd World Heritage site of the trip! Béguinages, or begijnhof in Dutch, were clusters of houses around a central courtyard where unmarried women who weren’t nuns but still wanted to serve God could live.

The area around the begijnhof was very pretty. Next to the canal was a small park full of swans and ducks. Neil walked all around the square in his little yellow rain jacket.

During a sunny spell we took a boat tour of the canals. We got to see a different perspective from down on the water. Neil was not that excited by the boat. He just wanted to play with the umbrella.

Despite the rain we had fun in beautiful Brugge!

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A few weeks ago we took a long weekend to do some further exploring in Wales. We started in the North and worked our way down to Cardiff before returning home.

Our first night was spent in Llangolen, chosen for its proximity to the Pontcysyllte aqueduct (Our 44th World Heritage Site!)

After a hearty Welsh breakfast, we got some tea to take-away and walked across the aqueduct. There is a sturdy railing on the footpath side, but boat passengers can look straight down!

We spent some time walking around near the river enjoying the sunshine and spring flowers.

We then ducked back into England to visit Ironbridge Gorge (number 45!). The bridge built in 1779 was the first cast-iron arch bridge in the world. We walked across it. The guy we asked to take our picture didn’t seem to understand we wanted us AND the bridge in the picture. We didn’t need to drive across the country if we just wanted a family portrait.

We could have spent a lot longer here exploring all of the museums, but we had to press on to reach our evening’s accommodations.

The next morning we crossed back over the Severn into Wales on our way to Cardiff. We had tickets to visit the Doctor Who Experience!

The road signs were very clear which direction to go if you didn’t want to be exterminated.

We didn’t see Capt. Jack Harkness or Gwen Cooper, but there were a lot of bikers. And some people in chicken costumes.

The Experience was fun with lots of props and costumes from the 50 years the series has been on television. We saw the TARDIS and many incarnations of Cybermen and Daleks.

That night we stayed on a farm. There were lambs and piglets. Neil kept pointing at the animals. For dinner we ate at the oldest pub in Wales.

Unfortunately we didn’t get to the last World Heritage Site we had hoped to visit, but that just means we will have to go again!

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After three and a half years we finally made it to Deutschland!

Day 1

On our first full day we headed out to see our 43rd World Heritage Site, the Maulbronn Monastery Complex. It was about an hour drive away. It was snowing pretty heavily so we couldn’t drive too fast on the autobahn, but it was still a very easy drive.

Once there, we got our tickets to the monastery and walked around the complex. The snow was very pretty.

The monastery is a world heritage site because it is considered “the most complete and best-preserved medieval monastic complex north of the Alps.”

Compared to all of the monasteries that we have been to, this was one in pretty good shape.

We spent about an hour in the monastery then we headed to lunch at a bakery that served sandwiches. It had a nice atmosphere and a baby changing station. We also got to use the German-style high chairs which Neil really liked.

During lunch we also wrote Neil his second postcard. We were excited when we found a World Heritage stamp.

After lunch we went back to the monastery complex. At this point it has stopped snowing and was starting to warm up a little.

That night Neil got to play with the other babies at our friends house. Neil’s favorite toy was the bus.

Day 2

The next day we went to the Bebenhausen Schloss und Kloster (Palace and Monastery). The palace was used by the monarchy in the 19th century. It was a relatively new palace but they imported a lot of old things to give it palace cred.

They also liked to hunt a lot so there were a lot of dead animal bits.

Next we had a quick lunch then toured the monastery. Since this was our second monastery in two days we were becoming experts (not really). This monastery was unique because it’s the first monastery that we’ve been to where you get to see the dormitory.

At that point we were exhausted and called it a night.

Day 3

For our final full day we drove to Heidelberg. The touristy parts of Heidelberg consists of a castle on top of the hill and an old town at the bottom.

We parked at the top, near the castle, got our tickets and then took the funicular to the old town for lunch.

Walking around it was a bit chilly, but overall it was a very nice sunny day. The old town has some cool old architecture and nice views of the castle.

We stopped at two places to eat. The first place was for a snack and to give Neil a break from being in the carrier. The second place was to get a traditional German lunch of sausage, schnitzel and beer 🙂
First meal:

Second meal:

After lunch we headed back up the hill to see the castle. Our first stop in the castle was in the wine cellar. They had the largest wine barrel that we’ve ever seen. It was so large they build a dance floor on the top.

After leaving the wine cellar we went to the pharmacy museum. There was a pretty lengthy collection of old pharmaceuticals. Pretty much anything exotic was considered medicinal.

We decided not to tour the inside of the castle (we’ve seen enough castles), so we walked around the grounds for a while.

That was the end of the touristy part of our trip. We had a great time and wonderful hosts. We hope to be back!

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We extended Presidents’ Day weekend by a few days in a location that was supposed to be a nice sunny break from Yorkshire.  We chose Spain to see the Alhambra (our 42nd world heritage site!).

We arrived in Granada after a decent amount of traveling via bus, plane, bus, bus and taxi. We stayed in the old part of Granada called the Albayzín. It’s the oldest part of the city and has a great view of the Alhambra. Neil was absolutely fantastic during the entire journey there, smiling at everyone 🙂 By the time we got there it was already past Neil’s bedtime, so we got some groceries and called it a night.

Day 1

The next morning we set off to see some of the historic sites in the city. It was a bit rainy, but nothing we’re not used to in Yorkshire.

Like most of our trips we plan our schedule around eating local food. Keeping with this plan, we had a second breakfast of chocolate churros. During this meal Neil discovered that spoons are fun. He also realized that the Spanish love babies and he loved to smile and get reactions from the locals.

After the chocolate churros we went to the Granada Cathedral. It was primarily built in the 15th and 16th century and has a majestic atmosphere. The architecture is very different from the British cathedrals, which is most noticeable in the very large nave and multiple small chapels.

The Cathedral also had many relics. This was our favorite. Based on the head on a platter (not real) we assume the containers on the side contain something from John the Baptist.

After the Cathedral we adventured on to our next meal. We decided on tapas. Neil had a good time there because the waiters kept smiling at him. We also discovered Alhambra and Alhambra Sin on tap. This is a local beer and they make an excellent non-alcoholic version (Sin), which is probably due to the large Muslim population.

Next we went to the Royal Chapel of Granada. The mausoleum contain the remains of several monarchs including Queen Isabella I and King Ferdinand II (the monarchs who sponsored Christopher Columbus). We couldn’t take pictures inside, so you’ll have to imagine it.

The rain was letting-up, so we decided to walk to the scenic overlook at the top of the Albayzín. It was a strenuous walk, but well worth it. At the top we had a great view of the Alhambra. There was also a guitar player and several other people enjoying the view and music.

Neil also enjoyed dancing to the music 🙂

Day 2 – The Alhambra

The Alhambra is an extensive complex consisting of a palace, garden, fort and bunch of other buildings. It has been built in pieces for over a thousand years. We figured that this would be a full day activity, so we headed out early.

The walk to the entrance is on the far side of the complex, so it was about a 45 minute walk to get there. Along the way we stopped to show Neil his first waterfall. He was very intrigued by it. We also saw Bonsai.

Once inside, we went to the Nasrid Palaces first. These palaces are the most popular part of the Alhambra, so you need to have a reserved time to get in. We got there a few minutes early, so we spent a little time wandering around the newer Christian built Palace of Charles V first.

Upon entering the Nasrid Palaces, it was obvious why it was so popular. The details in the architecture and decorations are extensive. We have a ton of pictures of tiles. Here are a few:

This Courtyard of the Lions is probably the most famous part.

After the palaces we were a bit wet and needed a break so we stopped by a restaurant and got coffee and cake. Neil had a great time chatting with the wait staff.

The Alhambra is large, so we had to continue on to see it all. The next part we saw was the The Alcazaba, aka The Fortress. It was a relatively large fortress, not that much different from the military style castles in England.

The final part of our visit was in The Generalife. This was the recreational palace. The gardens were nice and probably would have been fantastic if everything was in bloom. We were also finally getting some sun.

We were absolutely exhausted at this point. We took a nice walk around town and then headed in for the night.

Day 3 and the Trip Home

We finally had a day of no rain!

Our plan was to spend the day walking to the San Jeronimo Monastery and then the Basilica San Juan Dios.

On our way to the monastery, we stopped again for some more chocolate churros. These were even tastier than the last time! We got to take some pictures outside because the rain finally stopped.

Neil had a great time smiling at everyone.

We then continued walking to the monastery. When we got there there was a sign out front with a description. Unfortunately, the English translation was on the back which was about six inches from the wall.

It was bigger and more ornate than we expected. We were a bit shocked when we walked in to the chapel.

It was a rather nice day so we continued to walk around town enjoying the nice weather.

When we got to the Basilica they were in the middle of mass so we just stuck our heads in for a minute.

At this point, it was about 2:30, so places were starting to open for lunch. We decided to get tapas again, but this time we did it Granada style. In Granada if you go to a tapas section of town you can order drinks and they bring you complimentary tapas. Again, Neil had a great time smiling at everyone at the restaurants and bars.

After the tapas, we walked around a bit more eventually taking another walk to the observation area at the top of the Albayzín. This time we did the entire walk with no map. It felt like a big accomplishment since the Albayzín roads are laid out like a plate of spaghetti.

That night we got sushi take-away and ate in.

The next day was spent traveling home. It was relatively uneventful except that our plane was supposed to leave at 3pm, but we were delayed until 8:30pm. This means we got to end out trip spending a decent amount of time at the airport play gym.

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Back in October we had a weekend adventure in the Lake District. This was our first time staying away from home with the baby. He did great!

When we arrived it was after dark. But when we woke up we saw that the apartment we rented had great views!

We spent the first day hiking near Keswick. Neil didn’t know what to think. The sun kept peeking through the clouds and we stayed (mostly) dry.

After the hike we had lunch and explored the cute town centre of Keswick. There was a market going on.

We started another hike from the town that took us to Derwentwater lake. The scenery was just stunning! Neil slept through most of it.

The next morning we had a hearty English breakfast and went to explore the Castlerigg Stone Circle. There were some new age hippy types there banging drums and burning incense and communicating with the spirits. We took some pictures and tried not to get too muddy.

We then piled back into the car for the journey home and enjoyed the beautiful scenery, enhanced by a sleeping baby in the back seat.

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