25 November 2013

Tenby, Freshwater West & Irish Ferries

November 25, 2013 0
While in the gift shop at Pembroke Castle to buy some souvenirs, I asked the very kind and friendly worker if there was anything else to do in Pembroke.  She told me "absolutely nothing."  Ha!  However, she mentioned Freshwater West, a beach near town that was the backdrop for Shell Cottage in Harry Potter and where the 2010 version of Robin Hood was filmed.

Then, she asked if we liked quaint little fishing villages.  Who doesn't?!

She told us about the nearby town of Tenby.  We decided to go there first.

Tenby, Wales, expat, travels,

We wandered through town, grabbed a bite to eat and headed to the beach.
We had no idea that this would greet us!!

Tenby, Wales, expat, travel, beach

The sun was going down which only increased the beauty of it all!

Tenby, Wales, expat, travel, beach

Tenby, Wales, expat, travels, beach

Oh, to wake up to this view every day!

Tenby, Wales, expat, travel, beach

Tenby, Wales, expat, travel,

Tenby, Wales, expat, travel, beach

Tenby, Wales, expat, travel, beach

Tenby, Wales, expat, travel, beach

We had a little mishap while wandering around the beach.  My father-in-law got ahead of us and found himself a bit lost.  Luckily, we found him before it got too dark but we didn't get many more photos after that.

I was able to snap this last one before it got completely dark.

Tenby, Wales, expat, travel, village, quaint

One day I'd love to go back and explore more of this quaint little village.

The next morning before getting on the ferry to Ireland we drove to Freshwater West beach.  Amazing!!!  Beach and grass covered sand dunes!  It was beautiful!!

Freshwater West, expat, travel, beach, Pembroke, Wales

Freshwater West, expat, travel, beach, Pembroke, Wales

Freshwater West, expat, travel, beach, Pembroke, Wales

Freshwater West, expat, travel, beach, Pembroke, Wales

Freshwater West, expat, travel, beach, Pembroke, Wales
It's understandable why this beach has been in several films.

Freshwater West, expat, travel, beach, Pembroke, Wales

Freshwater West, expat, travel, beach, Pembroke, Wales

Freshwater West, expat, travel, beach

Mid-afternoon we headed to the ferry port to head to Ireland.  The ferry was comfortable.  Sleeping cabins, play area for kids, restaurant, cafe serving Costa Coffee with wi-fi and a football game playing in one area on a medium-sized screen.

Wales, ferry, Pembroke, expat, travel

We had a good experience with Irish Ferries.  If it just weren't for the fact that Karis gets motion sick.  It's a bit of rough sea between Wales & Ireland this time of year and the medicine I gave her didn't help!  I gave her a stronger med coming back and it was much better!  We probably won't take the ferry again, unless it's from the northern port, which is much shorter.

Next up I'll be sharing our various outings in Ireland, but we were off to a good start after our time in Wales.

Have you been to Wales?  I look forward to exploring more in the future.

I'm linking up with Bonnie again for Travel Tuesday.
A Compass Rose

21 November 2013

A Season of Thanks

November 21, 2013 0
Thanks everybody for your kind words on my post yesterday.
I got the papers back and the head teacher has given us an approved absence to celebrate Thanksgiving!  I knew I liked her!!
It just shows I need to have patience before I get myself worked up.  I still believe this rule needs to be given more thought though.
Thinking back on past Thanksgivings abroad and at home just reminds me of how much I love this season.  

I know so many people that get upset about Christmas overtaking Thanksgiving in America. I get that, but I like to look at it from a different perspective.  Yes, I'm already listening to Christmas music and watching sappy Christmas movies (LOVE them!).  I'm not decorating yet, but I have in the past when time did not allow to do it the day after Thanksgiving (that's my Christmas decorating day!).

For me, it is one long celebration that compliments one another.  I might be listening to Christmas music and watching my sappy Christmas movies, but Thanksgiving isn't forgotten.  It's just kicking off the season!!

So how about you?  Do you celebrate Thanksgiving as an expat?
If you're in America, in what ways are you celebrating this year?

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20 November 2013

There'll Be Days Like This

November 20, 2013 0

Normally, I'm fairly positive on my blog.  I don't want to use this space to gripe, whine and complain, but sometimes writing it out helps sooth my soul a bit.  I also think it's important to share the sides of expat life that aren't always so fun and rosy.

The holidays are upon us and I'm getting a teensy weensy bit homesick.  Sigh!  It happens!  Have I been at this so long that it shouldn't phase me?  Maybe, but it does.  I've just learned that I might be in a funk for a few weeks days and then I'm fine.  Add to the fact that we were home just last year and enjoyed being among friends and family and the many church activities that go on this time of year!
I've just had another element added that isn't helping the situation.  At the end of the school year last year, the parents were informed that the UK has established a rule that taking your children out of school, that did not fall into a certain category, will be marked with an unauthorized absence.  It's to prevent parents from taking there kids out of school to go on vacation.  American Thanksgiving is not something that falls into an authorized category.  I could even possibly be fined! 
Now, I'm all for being a part of the culture we're in but I am not going to give up on traditions and holidays that we hold dear.  It's important to me for my kids to participate in American holidays.  
It's true that we could celebrate on the following weekend or some such thing.  But it is not the same!  And it bothers me that the powers that be are being so strong on this point and not giving much leniency at all.  It's MY children, but their written rules even say that we have no rights about this, even if they are my children. What?!
I'm not whisking them off on vacation to Spain.  I'm simply asking for one day off where they can celebrate a holiday that is very near and dear to my heart and part of teaching my kids about being American.
Some of you may think I'm making a big deal out of nothing.  Maybe so.  But it's something I'm willing to fight for.  Don't we all have things worth fighting for?
I'm waiting for approval (or not) from the head teacher (principal). We'll see what happens.
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19 November 2013

Pembroke Castle, Wales

November 19, 2013 0
I'm linking up again with Bonnie for Travel Tuesday.  I always enjoy this link up so much!!
Jerry's parents came for a visit in October and planned their trip with the kid's half-term break in mind.  It was decided we would go to Ireland.  
Based on some colleagues' experience and recommendation, we decided to drive our car and take the ferry across to Ireland.
It worked out that the kids also had an inset day (inservice in the USA) on Friday giving us some extra time to spend in Wales before our week long stay in Ireland.
I did some research on the area and found out about the Pembroke castle. 
Pembroke, castle, expat, travel, Wales, TCK
At just £16 for a family of 4, we thought the value was good.
Pembroke, castle, expat, travel, Wales
Pembroke Castle was built in 1093.  The castle has quite a rich history.  Far more than I can write here.  Sieges, war and plundering are included.
The grounds are just amazing and for older children it is an exceptional place for exploring.  My 7 year old twins were not as keen to walk the many steep and uneven stairwells, but we found ways to avoid them and still see a lot of the inside.  
Pembroke, castle, expat, travel, Wales, TCK
My more independent 8 year old loved going from top to bottom, exploring right along with her mom and dad!  The photo below looks a bit scary than it really was.  She was safe, I promise!
Pembroke, castle, expat, travel, Wales
This place is massive with so many towers with amazing views.
Pembroke, castle, expat, travel, Wales

Pembroke, castle, expat, travel, Wales
Pembroke, castle, expat, travel, Wales

Pembroke, castle, expat, travel, Wales

The inside has so many interesting corridors, stairwells, nooks and crannies.  It was fun to see what was around the next corner.  And because it was off season, we just about had the place to ourselves to really explore.
Pembroke, castle, expat, travel, Wales

Pembroke, castle, expat, travel, Wales

A few rooms were set up giving you a feel for the day and age.

Pembroke, castle, expat, travel, Wales

Below, Wogan Cavern.  A cavern created under the castle by natural water erosion.

Pembroke, castle, expat, travel, Wales

Pembroke, castle, expat, travel, Wales

Pembroke, castle, expat, travel, Wales

Pembroke, castle, expat, travel, Wales

If you ever find yourself in the Pembroke area, I highly recommend the Pembroke Castle.

Have you ever been to this area, been to the castle or want to come for a visit?

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14 November 2013

Confessions of a Blogger

November 14, 2013 0
I've been tagged by the lovely, Bonnie at A Compass Rose and Gina at Sweet Serenity to share my confessions of blogging.

The questions and my answers are as follows.
1. When did you first start blogging and why?
My husband actually started us on blogging after our twins were born in 2006.  Being far away from family, it was an easy way to let everyone know how we were doing after my emergency c-section and keep everyone updated on us.  It wasn't consistent at first and I was using a blogging program through Apple that has now disappeared.  It wasn't until about 2007 that I got more into it.
2. Have you had any past online presence?
My online presence began in 2005 when I joined Hannah's Prayer, an online Christian ministry for women who struggle with infertility and loss.  It is what began my openness to online friendships and have met many dear women through this incredible ministry.  From there I start blogging, then joined MySpace. Then jumped over to Facebook, included Instagram and Twitter and Pinterest.  You just can't stop me in the social media arena!
3.  When did you become serious about your blog?
I've always had a desire to keep my blog going even if I haven't written consistently.  It was about 4 years ago when I started joining link ups in an effort to meet bloggers and make my blog more public.
4. What was your first blog post?
It's long gone now as Apple did away with their blogging program, but that first post was to announce that our twins had been born.  The first post on blogger was our visit from Flat Stanley.
5. What have been your biggest challenges blogging?
Once I decided to put my blog out there on a more public platform I found it difficult to find a niche.  I was trying to get in with other mom bloggers and I have kept in contact with a few, but I didn't feel I had a niche in that group.  It's only been since moving to England that I've found a great group of travel/expat bloggers to share in the journey.
6.  What is the most rewarding thing about blogging?
Having a record of our growing family and life overseas is something I will cherish.  Along with that are the friendships made through blogging.  I'm not a great writer or a great photographer. For me it's about our experiences and sharing them with others as well as connecting with people in this great wide space.  It's so rewarding to get a comment or email that our journey through infertility, adoption or even as an expat has helped someone in their own journey.
7.  What is the most discouraging thing about blogging?
When I put myself out there to people and I get no response.  That might be when I've written on a particular subject on my blog or when I comment on someone's blog about a similar experience or journey.  I eventually get over it, but it can be disheartening to reach out to someone with no reciprocation or response.
8.  What is your lasting inspiration or motivation?
My motivation is that we'll have years of blog posts to look back on to remember this time in our family's life.  With that is connecting with bloggers in similar stages of life or similar expat journeys.  I'm inspired to improve my photography of shooting in manual, although I don't seem inspired enough to put the hours in to make that happen.  We'll see if that changes! ;)
9.  What is your blogging dirty little secret?
I'm an over editor, as in I read my stuff over and over and OVER before hitting publish.  Bad little habit I have.
10.  What is your current goal as a blogger? (Bonnie's question)
I just want to keep doing what I'm doing and sharing our lives as we live it out wherever we may be.
And maybe to work on my over editing habit!

I'm suppose to tag some people, so tag, you're it!!
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12 November 2013

London Blogger Afternoon Tea

November 12, 2013 1
Sitting among 19 other bloggers, chatting away was a Saturday afternoon well spent!

There was food involved too.  Can't have a proper girly get together without food!

Before I went I kept thinking how I wanted to chat with different ones about a certain topic or their transition to London.  I think I got a bit star struck and all those questions went out the window!
I did have some great conversation, met some new people I'd not "met" online before and generally had a wonderful time.

I wish I'd had a chance to chat with everyone, but we plan to do this again!!

Here are the lovely ladies in attendance.  
Selena from Oh, the Places We Will Go!
Gina from Sweet Serenity
Mandy from Emm in London  
Erin from Erin Out and About   
Sarah from The Experience Collection Project   
Sarah from The Wanderblogger
Bonnie from A Compass Rose
Tina from Girl Meets Globe
Jacintha from Urban Pixxels
Anna from Eat, See, Do
Emma from Adventures of a London Kiwi
Janelle from The Halfpenny Diaries
Jaklien from Passport and Toothbrush
Kara from Pen Plus Passport
Sarah from The Secret Life of an Unknown Housewife
Shobha from NYLon Living
Annie at Sew Graceful
Kelly from Around the World in 80 Pairs of Shoes
Melanie from Melanie Fontaine
Samantha from To the Days Like This

Have you met up with other bloggers individually or as a group?  I highly recommend it!
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11 November 2013

The Red Poppy

November 11, 2013 0
One of the aspects of expat life that I love is learning and joining in some of the customs and celebrations of the country we are in.

Whether it's buying a pomlázka at Easter in Czech Republic, dressing up for Saint Isidro celebrations in Spain or joining in a Kurbisfest in Austria.  We enjoy learning about these traditions.

Last week we started seeing these cute little red poppies on lapels.  I learned that Remembrance Day was established to remember the end of hostilities of World War I in 1918.  George V initiated two minutes of silence on the eleventh day of the eleventh month at the eleventh hour in remembrance of the armed forces who were killed.
The red poppy has become the emblem of Remembrance Day.  "In Flanders Field" is a war poem written by a Canadian physicians and lieutenant colonel.  Red poppies were seen growing over the graves of fallen soldiers.

The Poppy Appeal is the British Royal Legion's biggest fundraising campaign.  The money raised helps former service men, women and their families.

The original lapel poppy was designed so that workers with a disability could easily assemble it and this principle remains today.
Remembrance Parade I stumbled upon while in London this weekend.
In the UK, ceremonies at local war memorials are normally held on the second Sunday of November and at 11 am our church observed a time of prayer at the 11th hour.

We proudly wear our poppies and remember all those service men who gave their lives.
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