So Here we are, Our Very 1st Workaway.

We’ve arrived!

So here we are, our 1st workaway.

This is where you work in exchange for board, lodging, learning new things and experiencing the local way of life.

Yes, we may be older than the usual gap year kids but midlife gap year people do have a lot to give. We have a lot more wealth of skills and experiences and we seem to have a lot more stamina than the young ones.

We turn up earlier than our estimated time and are greeted by a couple who appear really happy to see us.. Colin and Nicki. Another workaway had also just arrived, he was called Alan from Hamburg, he was staying a couple of weeks to help too. We quickly get settled into our room in a static mobile house situated on the 3 hectare vineyard and before you know it we are drinking wine to celebrate our arrival with another couple of friends of Colin and Nicki’s.

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It’s so quiet and peaceful, apart from all of us chatting and laughing, then off to bed as it’s a 07:00 start to start the picking.

Suddenly the alarm goes off and it’s time to start our 1st day. Think you call that a good nights sleep!

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Off we go down to meet the team, we find ourselves meeting another workaway called Kelcie, a sommelier from Canada, she is with the owner from a different vineyard up in the mountains who comes to help us. Grape picking is a community affair, everyone mucks in, the guests from last night arrive to help too.

Next day, once we have finished down in our vineyard, it’s off up in the hills in a 4×4 to go and help the vineyard who helped us. The 2nd day turned out to be a long hot one but we were rewarded with beer, wine and a huge lunch.

Deb just had to do it again, she loses her designer prescription glasses somewhere in the vineyard. Luckily she remembers when she could see and when she couldn’t. After a quick look we couldn’t find them. The locals are really kind and mark the line of vines with a stone and we continue the picking as you don’t want the grapes to get too hot. Once we are all finished and before lunch, everyone walks up the vineyard in search of my lunettes, (Deb learns a new French word for glasses) Deb is super lucky and Kelcie gets the biggest hug for finding them.

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Lesson learnt. When you are picking grapes, don’t wear your best glasses and take your jewellery off! You can’t all be as lucky as Debs was. AND always remember your hat in case you are out in the sun longer than you plan to be…
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At the end of the day Debs and Steve are flagging. Deb ends up in bed fighting off a migraine, too much sun and no hat! Meanwhile, Steve tucks into and over fills his belly with Nicki’s homemade meatballs and pasta to the point that he is going to burst and some of Colins wine from the vineyard.

Debs is much better the next day and up early for the usual coffee and croissant before the pick starts. Sometimes we have some of the customers from the vineyard come to help, amazing that their ages varied so much. Oldest was a lady of 83, men in their 70’s and a lovely couple who were 69¾. So inspirational, they are so fit and healthy and do so much, must be all that good living in the South of France.

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Each day after the morning pick was complete and the equipment washed down we would all join on the terrace for nibbles and wine. It’s traditional you know! We even got to taste someones homemade Pastis.

Some days a man comes and tests the juice in the back of his car so the vineyard knows the alcohol content and other levels required to make good quality wine.

We could write away forever on what we are learning but time to have a shower and clean up so we can go off and start exploring this area.

In our next installment we will tell you all about the wines produced at the vineyard Le Baou d’Enfer.

Live Happy

Debs and Steve

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It’s Been a While… We are Still Alive

It’s been a while since we updated our blog due to the wonders of modern technology.

We have been struggling with the internet and WiFi connections in France and have been unable to upload our blog and photos on a secure connection, so we will send out a few updates in close succession so we catch back up with ourselves.

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Although it feels so long ago we were in Troyes it is in fact only 5 weeks ago. We stopped here for lunch and a walk around before our onward journey to Beaujolais.It’s a very nice medieval town with some lovely houses, with narrow, cobbled streets and colourful half-timbered houses, dating from the 16th century.

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We turn up at our next stop and have the most amazing view. Our bed and breakfast is in a vineyard owned by a single lady who does an amazing job of running the vineyard, museum and the Auberge Les Hauts de Chénas, whilst also looking after her young daughter, Séléné, who is a very lucky girl who even has a wine named after her!

She produces 5 different wines in total.

  • Chénas – Cuvée Tradition
  • Chénas – Cuvée Prestige
  • Chénas – Cuvée Coccinelle
  • Chénas – Cuvée Séléné
  • Macon Villages Vieilles Vignes

The vineyard had been passed down from her Grandfather and has an amazing museum next to the Cave with many of the items coming from the families past generations, more tastevins than Deb had ever seen and they even had an old Hail Cannon. We had never heard of one of these but now we have and so have you now 😉 It creates a shock wave that is used to disrupt the formation of hailstones in their growing phase and protects the flowers and grapes from damage.

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After our one night stop, cheese and bread bedroom picnic and of course not forgetting our wine tasting, off we head to our additional stops due to the harvest being delayed. This means we get to stop off in 2 extra areas to have a look around, Pont-en-Royans and Gordes.

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Pont-en-Royans is a medieval village from around the sixteenth century and is famous for its colorful houses that sit on the edge of the rocks and is situated in a gorge near to the Parc Naturel Regional du Vercors. There is a water museum and a water bar containing over 900 bottles of water. This was our base for a couple of nights. The hotel we stayed in was in a great location for exploring although we can’t say much more than it was “ok” , as for the water bar, the staff really need to have lessons in customer service. Deb did try her best French but as soon as the staff realised Deb was English, (which was quite soon after she said her 1st words!) The women said “I’m French END OF!” waved her hands and walked off. So this was the end of our water bar experience… Knew there was a reason why we like wine more 🙂 Next day we went on a paddle boat up the Isère river. The scenery is beautiful in this area.

So where were we today?

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No, we are still in France! A crazy postman from 19th century , Dinand Cheval, he spent thirty-three years of his life building Le Palais ideal in Hauterives, he collected stones whilst on his post round and built an amazing building based on all the postcards he had seen. Definitely worth a visit if you are in the area.

Next day and a few hours later we were at our final stop before the grape picking work away.

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This time we found ourselves in Gordes which is listed as one of  “Les Plus Beaux Villages de France” (The Most Beautiful Villages in France) we didn’t realise this when we booked as Deb just did a “Google it” of the area we were going through to find a nice place to stay and indeed she did! The B&B was called Au Alenti du Lierre and was lovely, just opposite was a super little local restaurant too called La Fleur De Sel. The hosts were really nice and rarely got people from the UK, we found the same in Pont en Royan. Seems people from the UK really aren’t great explorers. Just happened that in talking to our hosts they once owned a vineyard in Sancerre.

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Now it’s time to head off to the vineyard to meet our hosts and start our workaway as Vendangeurs ( Grape Pickers)

Speak to you again soon to tell you what it’s like to be a grape picker in the South of France.

Live Happy!

Debs and Steve

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And so we’re off with our One Way Ticket to France….

And we’re off.

So this is when the real journey starts.

Luckily we are going across the channel from Dover to Dunkirk as the Calais lorry drivers at the port are doing a blockade, (Again!) Luckily our ferry was still on time, which was a bonus as the bed and breakfast in Champagne was already paid for in advance to get the best price and had a no refund cancellation policy.

The journey is so easy as it’s just a series of toll roads. Worth a check though to see if you lose much time by not using them as the cost to get to the South of France is currently about €88.00. Some sections mean it only adds about an extra 10mins to your journey, whilst others are 2.5 hour detours!

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We arrive in Epernay just after 16:00 and drive around and around the one way system with our Nissan satellite navigation. So pleased we had a friend who told us about downloading Google maps offline for the area you will be travelling in, which proved so much more accurate as it’s always updated and will talk you through the journey. Why didn’t Deb know about this already? 🤔

Here’s how to do it. 🌏

  • Load Google Maps App on your phone, if you don’t already have it.
  • Click the Google Maps App
  • Click on the Menu on the top, left hand side
  • Click on the Offline areas
  • Click Custom Area
  • This takes you to a screen that will let you choose an area of the map to download. It will need to take some of your phone memory but your map will expire in a month unless you choose to extend it. The screen will tell you if you have enough memory and how much memory you will use.
  • Click Download

We are staying at Domaine Sacret in Ay which is a lovely champagne house with a courtyard to park the car.

We have a great room and a lovely bathroom, what you imagine French style to be and our travel treat, complete with complimentary Clarins toiletries. (Mini Spa evening for Debs)

  • Travel Treat – When you know you are on a budget but sometimes you need to treat yourselves for a day

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So in the evening we head to our 1st tasting of the week, set in a lovely bar area. It was a VERY generous tasting and we met a group of lovely people, including a Belgium couple on their honeymoon, Lynne & Rob and Catherine & Neil who had just come back from watching their daughter Maddie Hinch win a gold medal at the Olympics in Rio. We all got on so well that we were invited to join for dinner at this lovely traditional restaurant in town called Rôtisserie Henri IV and had some great food, wine and company.

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Next morning after a lovely breakfast we were off to our next stop over, this time in Chablis.

We were not going to do a crazy long drive down to work on the vineyard, instead we thought we would take it easy and enjoy the journey whilst learning a bit about wine on route. The harvest had been delayed at our final destination so our kind hosts gave us a few extra days to go and explore a bit more of France than we had planned.

We are in Chablis early and have a wander around the town. This town is lovely and has a few restaurants and bars plus loads of wine shops and Domaines. We felt one evening was not going to be enough here and we were right!

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We stayed on a vineyard, Domaine Gueguen, in a beautiful room, much better than we expected and our hosts Celine and Frederic greeted us in what they say was poor English? If it was poor then Steve and Debs English is pretty poor too! Must learn more French whilst away, we need to be able to say more than “Je voudrais un verre de vin” and “Je voudrais un jambon et fromage baguette” Chablis has had a pretty tough year, 80% of vines have no grapes due to a huge storm that destroyed the flowers on the vines.

So if you’re a Chablis fan you need to stock up now as next year supplies are going to be limited and very pricey.   So off we go again, driving down to Beaujolais and staying in another vineyard with a museum attached.

Live Happy

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So Much to do, so Little Time!

It’s been a super busy time here.

More fixing of the broken tooth! Catching up with friends and family, sneaking in a few days of work in the South of France.

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Meanwhile, a friend of our sister in law, Andrew Rees, has just become the 1st deaf man to swim the channel. Raising money that will go towards helping deaf athletes to compete in the Deaflympics in 2017. Steve had heard of this event but Debs had to admit she was embarrassed to say had never heard of this until now. This guy really is inspirational and puts most of us to shame. Words cannot describe just how amazing this guy must be!

Deb spent the bank holiday doing her bit for the Bursledon regatta, making a costume out of a sheet and some feathers, volunteering and selling raffle tickets for the gallon of wine and whisky draw to ensure that the 150 year old regatta can continue. This is part of her family history, having a dad who was an apprentice in the boat yard over 60 years ago make her a true local to the area. She has spent many an hour covered in mud as a kid looking for hidden treasure from a bygone age of old sailing ships.

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This week saw Steve and Debs rushing around, Regatta one day, Isle of Wight the next day for Steve’s family gathering, then driving up for a stay over night at Gatwick to catch an early flight out to Marseille the next day. (We stayed in the bloc hotel, gets a thumbs up from us 👍)

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Fly back 4 days later for Steve’s Mum and Dads 50th wedding anniversary and the Milley famous garden marble run, with a drop of lovely English rain,Vodka and Gin jelly shots, garage bars and stuffing ourselves with cheese and pineapple sticks and sausage rolls made by our nieces and nephew.

Sunday was lunch with our friends Frankie and Jon the next day and of course not forgeting Clover the dog too..🐕

Then only 2hrs to pack for France and back on the road to Dover and on to the M25 car park!
Off to bed in a great little B&B minutes from the port with the loveliest of hosts and the best breakfast. (Ever need a quintessentially English B&B to stay whilst in Dover check these guys out. 299 London Rd Dover. Great price and so close to coming or going from the port! 🛏🛋🛀)

So here we are sitting on the ferry, prescription sunglasses for Deb, no… Debs Ralph Lauren glasses are still sat in the door pocket of the hire car in Marseille!!! And yes, there are words for this but not ones we shall type here!

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So off to call the car hire firm, hope someone realises that the designer glasses they pocketed from the valet of the hire car are prescription and that they can’t see through them, returns them, is Deb that lucky??? We shall see, no pun intended!
So off we go to get an email of Debs prescription from opticians and try to get a pair sent to the vineyard in France? Here’s hoping!

1st off the ferry and on route to our next stop in Champagne. 🍾🍾🍾🍾

Live Happy

Debs and Steve

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Foraging in the Forest of Dean.

And the time finally arrives for Steve to get his 2015 birthday present. Yes it’s a bit late!

Off we go for another week of exploring bits of the UK.

Starting the week with an afternoon cream tea in Amberley Castle in Sussex as promised to Steve along time ago, better late than never! We arrived in the beautiful little typical old English village surprisingly called Amberley.

We find the castle signs and drive into a long sweeping drive that takes you up to the entrance while Deb ponders on how and who would have arrived back in the time it was built and occupied.

Tea was lovely but we have had better although having the setting on a fine summers day sat in the grounds of a castle more than makes up for it.

Next stop is the Forest of Dean just by the border of Wales. We have never been to this part of the UK although we have been close as we got married in a castle in Gloucestershire called Thornbury Castle in 2004, it’s one of the only English Tudor castle hotels you can stay in and yes we have had cream tea there before too… 🍰🍩🏰🍰 but nothing beats cream tea at the Montagu Arms in The New Forest.

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We find ourselves going off the beaten track to stay in a Traditional Gypsy Caravan with an off grid experience, no WiFi, phone signal, electricity and cold water. A queenie stove to heat our water and kettle and a fire pit to cook on. Our luxury was a flushing toilet in a separate block.

Our host Mary greeted us with a basket of provisions including freshly baked brownies, local Severn Cider and Blakeney Red Perry and provided all we needed to be very well fed for breakfast. Just look at our full english breakfast cooked by the fire with all the local produce provided by our host. We had a great time being little gypsies and made ourselves a fluffy friend “Ol’Butt” the pet collie dog 🐕, whos name was local dilect for “old friend” and very persistent stick catcher.

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Next was off to the National Diving and Activities Center just on the edge of the forest. A huge quarry that has been filled with all sorts of things from helicopters to double decker buse, a gnome garden/castle and more! Plenty to keep many a diver happy.

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Although Deb had dived before its not really her thing, bobbing around like a well fed seal! We stayed in a wooden hut overlooking the quarry and the biggest zip wire in the UK.. You just never know what you will see at a place like this, we saw a bride in her full wedding dress and then a couple of bridesmaids zip over??? They just happening to be filming an episode of don’t tell the bride!!

The cafe also had a great view and was really reasonably priced, from here you could watch the guys on the water jet packs, not sure how we would fair if we had a go, especially when neither of us like messing around in the water but great to watch.

Then there was the swing over the quarry, people seemed to like being shot over the edge of the cliff. This place is a great base for exploring the area or having an activities based holiday with a group, everything was clean, view was great and the prices good.

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Plans are now coming along for December, flight out and back booked. Phillipines for Christmas, excited!!!

Off to finish planning our journey to the South of France to help harvest grapes in a vineyard 😊🍷😊

Live Happy
Debs and Steve

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Hobbit Festival Family Fun, Rain didn’t stop play!!

Land, wash, pack and off again.

Time to have the family reunion! Stuff the car full of duvets and linen, a host of food and drinks. Small snacks for the journey and off we go.

Sign post to the pub

It’s been a long time since we’ve all been together and we have all lived different lives around various places. Looking forward to a good get together and time to chat and huddle around a good old campfire with everyone hoping Deb doesn’t try and break out into a song. She must be the only one who’s claim to fame is that she once got beaten by a dog and a drunk man at a singalong game!

Well
● Mum has got plumper. 🤔
● Steve has less hair. 👀
● Sam is still far browner than the rest of us and still has no money. 💳
● Matt still has the biggest bushy beard. 🙄
● Nikki is adjusting to a new life as she says goodbye to teaching in the UK to fly to Myanmar in Asia to teach for the next 2 years. 🛫
● Ollie is missing as new job on the go! 😓

Where did we go?

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Glamping in Davidstow, near the coast of North Cornwall and one of the places where the Great British cheddar cheese is made.

On route we came across the sign, Guinness World record attempt for the most sheep sheared in 9 hrs. So plans changed and off we go in search of the farm. In true English fashion the rain starts and we find ourselves at the farm. Vote for the most inappropriate dressed people in a farm in the rain goes to the Millies, flip flops and summer dress!!!

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The farmers were really friendly and the place was packed, luckily we were rescued by a man with a ladder so we could see, only to later realise that it was being live streamed in the other barn.. So we take our seats in the Barn Bar, with cornish pride real ale and cider on the go and watch the world record get broken. Matt Smith, 32, sheared 731 ewes in nine hours beating the previous record of 721.

The event even made headlines around the world and was live streamed to audiences in New Zealand, Australia, the United States, Iceland and Ireland.

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Finally we arrive at Belle Tents Camping and settle in. We have everything we need to have our own private English Hobbit Festival.
● RAIN
● Tents
● Camp Fire
● Undercover BBQ
● Bar tent
● Music
● Hot showers and flushing toilets

And a box of fancy dress items!

We have a great time in the rain, intermittent sun and more rain. Building fires and toasting marshmallows and having a boogie to Sam’s music selection, didn’t know we liked Bossa Nova? Chat to our hosts Laura and Dave and their current workaway volunteers from Spain and hear tales of their travels and lives.

Steve, Matt and Deb have a go at log chopping and fire making (no elf and safety here) while Sam and Nikki have a catch up on Sams travels to Bali, Australia, New Zealand and Nikki chats about her new job in Myanmar.

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During the days we drive to little villages on the coast stopping off to wander around eating chips and hide in cafes out of the rain and fighting off seagulls. Plus side of this was Nikki being a coeliac managed to fill up on gluten free Cornwall scones and cornish pasties.

During the nights we have a Christmas day, Easter and birthdays to make up for all those we have missed as we are never together at the right time of the year. If you ever need a gluten free birthday cake in the UK, we can thoroughly recommend the one in Sainsburys, lovely and bouncy and not all crumbly. Yes, Deb really has been saving, chocolate bunnies and penguins and bought christmas socks, crackers, tinsel and mulled wine!

A great time was had by us all, everyone is wanting to make this an annual event so time to put the thinking cap on to make it bigger and better next time!

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Back home and Steve’s finally decided it’s time to shave off the festival beard as its afternoon cream tea at a castle tomorrow, let’s hope the dentist can repair Debs broken tooth in the morning too! Then off to the Forest of Dean for more glamping…. Really must start some travel planning for December.

Live Happy
The Millies

 

Treehouses and Viking Ships

Time to move on again to the Treehouse Hotel. Was it going to be as good as it looked on the TV, magazines and web sites?
After a slow drive in search of a big moose that we never found. There are only 400,000 moose in Sweden for us to find, should be easy they said? All we managed was a couple of juveniles and a bottle or two of beer!

We finally find ourselves at the Treehouse Hotel and walk into reception which turns out to be the cutest 1950s retro house filled with objects from a bygone era.

We check in and wander through a field of wildflowers into the woods and over to our home for the 1st night… Our super duper space ship! Much to Steve’s delight, the button is pressed, the lights come on and slowly down comes the ladder just like a sci-fi movie. Click here to view.

UFO’s have changed since Deb used to watch them as a kid, they now come with nespresso machines, comfy beds, mini bar and the most modern of campervan toilets.. The Cinderella! Incinerating all that comes near it, not sure how it works but it works very well!!

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Like a kid in a candy shop, Deb blows up the alien she remembered to pack, unlike the time in Area 51 when she completely forgot to take it after having made the effort to go buy one to take, then drives 3 hrs to realise she had left it in her suitcase in Vegas! She’s one crazy lady… Poor kids and hubby..
Then it’s time for dinner, back through the woods and then into mosquito land… Very handy, we left the mosquito repellent in the car! They seem to find Deb super tasty.. So off she went into the meadow doing the windmill action with her arms until she got to the restaurant..Well at least she gets a free shot or two of Swedish botox in the face, an eyelid and a couple of less wrinkles on her face until the bites go down.

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Dinner is a lovely home cooked meal of cheese pie, arctic char, brown bear and a raspberry tart all prepared by our host Britta, whilst there we meet Amy from New York who’s escaping the bustle of the New York life, shutting down the phone and Facebook to come get away from it all as Sweden is just the place to come chill!

1.Sami Flag

Day two at the tree house hotel and off we go! Time to go get lost again or should we say explore and we do! Finally after a 1hr journey turning in to 2hrs and a few reindeer traffic jams later, we reach Storforsen, a stretch of rapids over 5 km and one of the biggest in Europe. A beautiful place with a huge amount of water tumbling down from the Arctic circle, (average flow of 250 m3 per second) As it spills over the edges and runs into separate pools it creates a lovely picnic area for the locals. People are having barbecues and swimming in the pools amongst nature at its best and the sunshine.

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Next day we are off to the airport to fly down to Stockholm for a couple of days. Amy turns out to be on the same flight, so we share a supersaver ticket for 3 on the  Arlanda express straight in to the city.

2. Viking Ship Vasa Museum

Next morning we get up and go to visit the Vasa museum before the queues, Deb has wanted to do this since before she met Steve, so a big tick on the bucket list of life! Did we beat the queues, no not quite, is it worth it, Yes!

You really cannot believe that hundreds of years ago these guys built such a beast of a boat. What we did find out was just how small the vikings were, average of 5ft 5 inches. Yes Steve could have been a viking! So how did the Swedish men end up so tall?

So what have we learnt.

  • Midnight Sun
    Something you really need to see.
  • True Silence
    Something you need to experience.
  • Stockholm is pricey!
    Everything is so expensive, wine and beer are about double what you pay in London. You need to find yourselves the Systembolaget. These shops are government run and you can buy a host of wines and loads of Swedish beers at prices more like you would expect.
  • Must see in Stockholm.
    Vasa museum.
  • People.
    No one rushes over here, they have a nice pace and politely queue.
    To Steve and Debs disappointment Sweden was not full of perfect beautifully blonde people, we had a vision that it was a land full of them but it was just a country full of lots of normal people, give or take some seriously long legs.
  • Natural and Organic.
    It was so nice to see so much good quality produce, people living as they should, caring about the world around them and using eco friendly body washes etc.. Really wondered when in the wine shop (Systembolaget) how come they have loads of organic beers and wines at similar prices to what we pay in the UK for the same brand of non organic??? About 50% of there store was organically grown.
  • Satellite Navigation.
    As many roads are gravel tracks don’t expect satellite navigation to necessarily find your local villages. Download an offline map from Google!

Live Happy

Steve and Debs

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Lost in the BIG Forest

Here we are, in Lapland for the midnight sun.
So yes we over packed! Torch, why on earth did we pack this when in the midnight sun? Answers on a post card please as WiFi is not very avaliable here.

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When did we become so reliant on technology? Imagine a world without being able to Google everything from where you are going, to what you are going to do when you get there. Where’s the local shop, the petrol station?

Sweden has the answer! Talk to the people and get the best places to go or help when you’re lost!

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After an overnight stop in Lulea, night at a festival and our 1st experience of it being so light at 23:30, we head off in our hire car. (Which, we must say was a totally different experience to Greece) We went for the cheap one and ended up with a brand new Volvo V40, so off we go… Deb singing random ABBA tunes along the way and Steve doing impressions of the Swedish chef off the muppets.  OK, we know what you are thinking and we agree, what a pair of muppets they are!!!

We drive around and get closer to our floating shed, Huuva Hideaway watching for moose and reindeer but instead seeing hundreds of dark tree stumps with roots sticking out.. Then we see them, mummy and baby reindeer but we were so unprepared as we had pretty much given up! Snapping away, we manage a white fluffy reindeer bum as they move so fast..

So off the beaten track we go, up and up a gravel track until we have no idea where we are going, then it’s time to give in and ring our host and ask for help, we were so close but they came to meet us in their car and take us the last couple of kilometres. So we arrive at a cool little shed bobbing on a lake, so cozy and full of everything we need. In true Swedish style we have a log burning sauna/shower and a compost toilet.

20160717_084029Steve gets to do man things, fishing, building fires and Debs spends too much time photographing the same thing over and over again.

Out hosts have a restaurant up on a hill over looking the river and valley and Finland called Utblick. We decide to book a table and pop up the road to dinner, slight problem.. We get lost.. VERY LOST.. 1 hour later we find a man and ask the way to be told we are about 10 km out! What a sense of humor, he says , “You are in the big forest now, only restaurant around here is the one where you are the meal for the mosquitos” Kindly the guy says “follow me I’m going part of the way” and off we go.

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The meal was amazing and setting was just perfect. Henry is an amazing self taught chef who produces food up to the standard of some of the top chefs back in the UK. Sorry vegetarians, but out here Reindeer is on all the menus and is very yummy and we also had another local speciality, Kalix roe, which we shared as we weren’t so sure on what we were getting but turned out to be rather good too.

The people out in the North Sweden wilderness really understand how to live off the land and what is around them, we hear all about moose flower lemonade and sit sipping Lapland liqueur.
We spend some time with Pia and Henry and had a look around their lovely homestead, learning about life in North Sweden and Steve has a chat about food, hunting, fishing and chainsaws.

DSC03058Then off we head to Sorbyn to stay in a wooden hut near a lake. You can’t believe just how quiet it is. There is no white noise, no planes flying over your head, total peace! You can hear your own heart beat. Think this has been the best nights sleep ever had! Then you get to go exploring for animals, moose, reindeer, bears, beavers plus you can do so much fishing, hiking and canoing there too. The midnight sun will give you so many different displays and each day gives you a different show of hues, accents and cloud formations making you see nature in a new way. It’s a great place in the summer although so many people seem to only go for the winter for the aurora borealis and snow activities.

20160717_192132Off now to hop across to Finland and then go find the Arctic circle to jump over 😉

You will hear from us again next week, space ships and all!

Live Happy

Debs and Steve

One to Many Man Hugs!

So we have finally detached from work, like a tooth that the dentist can’t seem to pull out but got there in the end.

Steve has been finding it so hard to leave and Deb will finally stop popping up all around work. If you worked with Deb you will know exactly what this means. 🙄

How did people act?

  • So many cuddles and man hugs, many more than we ever expected!
  • Most are really pleased for us and came up with 101 ways to climb in the rucksack and suitcase or become our sherpas along the journey.
  • Then there were a few stragglers who just cut you off…

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McLaren Automotive has been an amazing journey for the both of us and may not be the end as you never know where life may take you. In the words of Bruce McLaren, “Life is Measured in Achievement Not in Years Alone”

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By the end of the last day we were settling just nicely to the new life, sat in a old english country manor house over looking beautiful landscaped gardens, sipping champagne and munching our way through an afternoon tea. Could get used to this!

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Time to reflect on our journey through life so far and realise that we are two very lucky people to be able to have this adventure. We may have been through some very tough times in the past, but as the saying goes “What Doesn’t Kill you Makes you Stronger”

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Day one of our new adventure, we are sat in the airport waiting to fly to Sweden, then an interconnecting flight up to the Arctic circle for the midnight sun. Only a 4 hour wait plus 2 hrs delay between flights. So glad I packed some snacks, even though we knew it was going to be expensive, we didn’t expect it to be that expensive…. Nearly £10 for one sandwich and £5.00 for one coffee. So the action plan, fill empty water bottles from the taps and after much wandering around we found the cheapest items, 2 burgers and a slice of cheese, £4.00, strangely the queue here was rather long?

Swedish people are so calm, the 1st one I spoke to, just in a shop said, “Welcome to Sweden Have a Great Time” Think we are going to like it here 😊

Mean while, back in the UK our nephew Jake was busy winning medals and cups for cricket. 1st Junior Hampshire County Champions then going on to become Southern Counties Winners. Well done Jake!!

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One of our daughters is also now on countdown to the final days as a teacher in the UK as she soon jets off to teach in Myanmar for the next 2 years and settle into a new way of life.

Time for us to sit back and watch the never ending sunset of the midnight sun completely lost as to what time it is, very strange feeling.

Live Happy
Debs and Steve

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Nearly There……

So, Steve is just hitting his last week at work and it’s going to be a lonely one as his team all head off to their next event in Belgium.

Meanwhile Deb has been doing a bit here and there to earn a few extra pennies to help towards Sweden as we are starting expensive 1st… We have been looking at couch surfing although hit the problem that everyone is on holiday so spaces are limited especially when you go to places like the Arctic Circle, so it’s off to a hotel in Lulea we go!

Steve’s last day is the same day we head off to the airport so perhaps we shall have a treat on route rather than come home? Maybe an English afternoon cream tea is calling!

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Straight after this is time for the family hobbit festival down in Cornwall. Let us explain. Our daughters are both traveller types too.. One is just back from 18 months travelling Bali, Australia, New Zealand, back to Bali and then back home to sunny Newquay UK, working freelance as a surf instructor. The other is just about to fly out to Myanmar in Asia for 2 years to teach so very rare we meet up all together, so July is the time!  We have found us a glamping camp, with fire pit, barbecue and bar and as we are all short, it is being named hobbit festival for a few days! Really looking forward to it 🙂

Surf photo courtesy of Surf Sistas

Planning has started for our French and Austrian trip in Sept.. So let’s make it all about wine.
Currently looking to head through the wine regions on the way to working in a vineyard in the south of France.
The list is growing,
Champagne
Chablis
Burgundy
Beaujolais
Rhone Valley
and then down to the final destination in Saint Tropez..

Thoughts are already moving towards what we do in Nov? We have had a few offers that sound interesting so who knows? No more English breakfast or roast dinners!

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It’s amazing how many things change when you do something like this? We have started to re-engage with our neighbours, meeting people who we have only ever seen drive in and out of drivewways and Deb has been given the opportunity to help at the local regatta down on the Hamble river. Theme for this year is Rio Carnival, so sure at some time Deb will have a feathery head piece on 😉

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The scariness of no income is starting to also kick in now. Spreadsheets are in progress and super analysing all we spend underway. Steve is already getting bored with Deb saying, do we need it or just want it! Negotiations have already started with Steve on the cancellation of the full sky TV package. It’s also amazing what you can make out of a 5kg bag of onions that only cost £2. It’s so difficult not to worry about getting a job when we complete our travels. You can’t help but peek at job adverts and talk to people about future roles.

YES!  
It takes courage and self belief to do this and not something everyone can do but looking forward to all the learning, challenges and problem solving ahead! Our current favourite quote from a friend is “you will be fine, cream always settles at the top”

So what have we have learnt so far.
WORK
It’s hard to give up a job and go to nothing and hard to talk to each other about it as you don’t want to cause your other half to go into a wobble as you both feel you have to support each other.
FLIGHTS
Think about the cheap early morning flights. They may not be as cheap as you think. As we live 1-2 hours away from the London airports the trains don’t run that early, you miss the bargain off peak train tickets, you can’t put people out by asking for a lift, so your choices become, go up on the train the night before and sleep at an airport hotel or on the floor, if you pick a hotel suddenly it’s the same cost as hotel and parking. Taxi’s are just too expensive. Must get better at this as airport parking kills the budget!
IMAGINATION
Imagine yourself during and after your travels, what does it look like. Set yourself goals to ensure you are always going in the right direction and never be afraid to re-evaluate them from time to time as your life evolves.

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BE REAL
It’s not always going to be a dream life and things will not go to plan and the plan will always be changing. Challenge yourself to be more resilient.

Time to go pack again. What do you take to the Arctic Circle for the midnight sun?

Live Happy

Debs and Steve

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Roaming Around Rhodes.

So week 2 in Greece and the weather is still super hot and the sea, so blue and clear. Can’t imagine what it’s like in August?

In fact it’s been so hot that Rhodes has had a forest fire. We heard about it from the locals but it wasn’t until we were driving around exploring and trying to avoid crazy kids on scooters and quad bikes that we really saw first hand the damage it had caused. It had torn through kilometers of forest, a village and the surrounding land and affected people’s lively hoods. The fire engine service were still patrolling.

So who have we met along the way?

Old Greek People.
They’re amazing, they have so much stamina and perseverance. In Symi old town and Chorio (pronounced Horio) where the real locals live, there are so many steps everywhere, no cars just oodles of steps and some very old buildings waiting to be rebuilt.
All day you see little old people wandering around the streets having visited the local shop, laden-ed with carrier bags of shopping struggling their way up the steps in 40◦+ heat. You stop to help them and they really appreciate the fact you offered to help but are so stubborn they won’t let you, they hold your hand and say óchi óchi (no,no) Crazy People! But this lovely little guy did let us help, not surprising really as we were struggling ourselves too.

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Lovely Little Ladies.

In the wine village of Emponas, next to the hotel were a couple of lovely old women who watched us walk back and forward to the village whilst sat outside their homes on little stools, they taught us our second set of Greek words, we have to say the 1st word we learnt was Yamas, Cheer!!

  • Good Morning – Kalimera
  • Good Afternoon – Kalispera
  • Good Night – Kalinihxta

Every day we waved and smiled at them saying the right phrase and they would chunter away speaking back to us in Greek and we would be left with no clue as to what they said but they liked the reply and we left them happy.

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A Guy Who’s Name We Don’t Remember.

This guy made the best homemade lemonade and work at a beautiful cafe hidden away from the hustle and bustle of Lindos call Rainbird. He also had the best sense of humour and was a great wasp batter! Orange or Lemon homemade cake anyone?

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Stergos Manolakas.

We have spoken about this guy before, we have met his parents, family friends from Austria and his little girl and even popped back to see him on our way back to the airport. We learnt a lot about the solar system and also spent some time asking him about the Greek economy. One of the kindest people we met on the island.

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The One Eyed Brothers.

Never judge a sign by its look! So we are in the middle of nowhere going somewhere and we come across a cafe sign, do we, don’t we.. Boys being boys they need feeding.. Lets go in we said. Cutest rustic cafe run by two brothers in their 70s . One only had one eye and was wearing a handkerchief on his head and the other was being followed by a group of over hungry cats. Man, this place had a lovely view over bright blue sea, was cheap, full of friendly locals and had hand cooked chips, the biggest plate full. Everyone was full of smiles and pleased to see us, more embarrassing these guys also spoke English to a degree.

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People You Don’t Want to Meet Again.

Rhodes Rogue Restaurant Men.

Then you get the opposite end of the scale, the horrific greedy guys trying to rip the tourists off and giving a bad name to others. Please people, watch yourselves in Rhodes Old Town main square, restaurants pitch their lovely roof top terraces and when you get up there you realise that the people you saw there have vanished and the drinks are still on the tables and then you ask to look at the menu before you order anything to find that they want to charge €5 for a coke!! Be brave and just tell them it’s too expensive, walk away and don’t feel guilty as hard as they try to push you back in! Go to the restaurants sitting just inside the city wall.

Dodgy Donkey Men of Lindos.

Title says it all! Poor little donkeys, not something we would do but we did see way too many tourists hand over €5 to be sat on a donkey and rushed and we REALLY DO MEAN rushed up a hill to the Lindos Acropolis by a load of very abusive men hitting the donkeys to go faster and even if the tourists were scared they wouldn’t slow down, then shouting something in Greek to any pedestrians in the way, don’t even want to think what this was!

Donkey

 

Off to make homemade pita breads 🙂

Live Happy

Debs and Steve

 

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