England, Europe, UK, Wanderlust

Take 12 trips 2016: 9 months down

How things change in just a few months. At the start of the year, when I began the Take 12 Trips challenge for the third time, I knew that this year would be different. This year marked the end of preschool days.

Starting the Take 12 Trips challenge for the third year - 2016's trips so far

And after a busy first half of the year, with trips to Burma and California, I ended June with an empty diary. Well. That didn’t last long!

The last three months have been such a whirl, I feel like I have a hundred posts still to write (I just finished my last one from the California trip this week, on Monterey Aquarium), video to edit and I’m busier than ever planning new trips. How did I ever think school would slow us down?

One of the reasons I love the challenge, dreamed up by Clare at Need Another Holiday, isn’t because I need motivating to book another trip, it’s because the days and weeks seem to fly by and it’s easy to discover a month has inexplicably passed without arranging a getaway.

July was all about the seaside – I got to try out some of my favourite beach activities with kids as we booked a last-minute short break in Whitstable to satisfy my craving for the seaside. Then found ourselves back on the same stretch of coast almost immediately, with a trip to Herne Bay with friends.

All perfect for inspiring my love letter to the Great British seaside.

It wasn’t just coast though. We had a helping of castle – sleeping in the very grounds at Warwick Castle’s new glamping lodges, which was fabulous. Not only did we have almost two days to experience the castle (and having visited before, I don’t know how you can fit it all into one day) as well as special medieval entertainment in the evening once all the other guests had left.

Watching my tiny bloodthirsty daughter wave a wooden sword around and show off an unexpected talent for archery was huge fun.

August started with more UK trips, making the most of the summer weather (mostly). The challenge is designed to inspire you to explore your local area as well as travelling further afield, so that’s just what we did by heading to one of the London National Trust properties I’d not previously visited – Morden Hall Park for a performance of The Jungle Book, and some sunshine in the grounds.

Then heading north to my childhood home in Trentham, to meet the inhabitants of the Trentham Monkey Forest once more. With impressive skill we’d managed to pick another cold drizzly August weekend again but Minnie wasn’t deterred from trying the barefoot walk (and I reckon the gigantic dandelion sculptures look even more impressive against a cloudy sky).

And on to the spiritual home of the Take 12 Trips challenge – Liverpool, Clare’s own home town, to discover Albert Dock. From wondering if there’d be enough to keep us entertained for our flying 24 hour break there, I discovered we needed longer, even without venturing into Liverpool itself.

As our passports started to gather dust, it was time for an overseas trip with a short break to Portugal. Staying just outside Lisbon in an AirBNB windmill, we hit the coast at Cascais (meeting Maria from One Tiny Leap who knows the best beach bars and places to get ice cream), explored the fairytale palaces of Sintra and hit the beaches on the Atlantic coast.

I was working so much as I would have loved to spend longer and head in to Lisbon itself, one of my all-time favourite cities, we had to wave farewell and fly back home, bottles of white port and vinho verde in my suitcase. Now the work project is finished, I’m hoping to post more.

And suddenly it was September. The final weeks before school. The final days, in fact. I was determined we’d fit one last trip in, so off we went to Rye in East Sussex for a chilled out break, just me and Minnie doing some of our favourite things.

Making sandcastles on the beach at Camber Sands. Meeting a pufferfish at the aquarium in Hastings. Discovering what medieval life might really have been like at Bodiam Castle.

Then the preschool days were officially over. I think we ended them in style. To put paid to any wistfulness at the fact those days are firmly behind us, I promptly headed off on another trip to the Costa Barcelona with four other bloggers, starting our packed four days with a trip to a vineyard, ending with an attempt at cableskiing, and discovering a hugely family-friendly part of Spain in between. More (inevitably) to come there too.

With just three months left of the challenge, I already have a couple of plans for October including a half-term break and hopefully something rather exciting for November. Perhaps school isn’t going to change things that much after all…



Starting the Take 12 Trips challenge for the third year - 2016's trips so far

Images copyright MummyTravels