Tag Archives: travelling

Excited? Just slightly!


We collected our passports complete with visa’s for 6 months in America today. We had to pick them up from a DX depot in Plymouth. The woman who returned our passports to us happened to have travelled extensively across America doing exactly the sorts of things we plan to do! She was so enthusiastic in her passion for the States and painted such an incredible picture of all the amazing experiences we will have that we were stood at her little window for quite some time. We listened to stories of up close encounters with killer whales on the West Coast and of bears in Yellow Stone, about how incredible witnessing Old Faithful will be for our children and how New York in winter is simply perfect. “Golden eagles are like starling there… simply everywhere!”. We left beaming and chattering excitedly about all she had said.

Plymouth beaconed for a bit of Christmas shopping which couldn’t be done online (and a trip to Yo Sushi without the kids of course). Our main ports of call were the various outdoor shops because, lets face it, our kids are getting travel related practical items almost exclusively this Christmas. Well the whole experience of buying head torches and base layers got us even more excited so to meet yet another America enthusiast was pushing us over the edge!

A sales chap in Cotswold Outdoor store happened to be from California and had a fairly full on passion for travel and adventure… he was soon describing the routes we should take to transverse the States to see all the things we want and must see. He was giving us tips on the local foods to try in various small towns we mustn’t miss and how much money we need to be allowing for entry to the various national parks. He went on with tips for crossing the Canadian border and making sure we have our itinerary planned well. He got out maps from books on sale in the store and showed us various options for fitting everything in… it was amazing!

On returning home in time for the school run we had it confirmed that we have a private buyer for our sheep – thus avoiding the horrific experience of a brutal livestock market again. And with Rob’s parents coming this weekend we can get some serious packing done.

It’s just 8 weeks until we leave Cornwall and boy are we excited!

In Dublin Fair City


Molly Malone

Five years ago I took my four month old baby to Dublin to visit my father. At that time the most child friendly aspect of the whole trip had been the flight. Air South West were a a great company who bent over backwards to accommodate families and young children – perhaps it was their desire to be nice which finished them off – they have since closed down and we had little choice but to use Ryan Air. There are other options such as Air Lingus and Flybe but cost, flight times and being fully booked ruled them out. Cheap, and definitely not cheerful Ryan Air got us and our hand luggage there and back in one piece and didn’t break the bank.

Dublin at the time was not overly welcoming of a new mum travelling with an infant. There were no Parent and Child spaces at the shopping centre we visited and no nursing room in any store. So I was rather intrigued as to how I would find Dublin now, arriving with my three children and a lot more parenting confidence.

Dublin excelled! We arrived early on Saturday morning and deposited our baggage at my fathers house where we were staying. Then we headed on into the city to explore the Leprechaun Museum. Unfortunate weather is par for the course and didn’t dampen our spirits as sights of a real life bird man, (a male version of the bird lady in Mary Poppins), a horse and cart and a host of street performers delighted and excited them.


Feed the birds, tuppence a bag, tuppence, tuppence, tuppence a bag!

Halloween happens to be an ideal time to visit Ireland – They are mad for it! A combination of their pagan past combined with American links and a lack of the UK’s bonfire night means they really put the effort into Halloween and they do it really well. Ghosts, ghouls and vampires were out in abundance and spotting games were made easy. Considering everywhere is walk-able in Dublin this is great for keeping them going.


The friendliness towards the children was clear and natural everywhere we went, whether or not they were intended for families. On Sunday night we ate at Dillinger’s in Ranelagh. They make no pretences that it is a family restaurant because it isn’t, they don’t have high chairs or a children’s menu. But that’s not to say families aren’t welcome – they literally bent over backwards, forwards and sideways (mainly clearing up after us) to make us and our three young children welcome.

Despite no children’s menu they rustled up impressive cocktails for the boys and split an adult meal three ways. They are possibly the first restaurant I’ve ever been to that actually managed to split the meal onto three plates for us in the kitchen, rather than the usual experience of the meal served on one plate and a couple of smaller plates chucked at us to sort out ourselves. This little detail may seem minor but when hunger frays tempers and you’re paying for a nice meal out it is quite infuriating to have to start sorting all the kids food out on a cramped table before you can try your own meal and deters from the meaningful experience of eating out at a nice restaurant. The waiter engaged with the kids and admired Patrick’s fox jumper and there was no awkwardness about the noise or mess that comes with the kids no matter how well behaved they are.


Specially made cocktails for the kids in Dillnger’s

And this fun and welcoming attitude wasn’t limited to Dillenger’s, we had the same welcome at every café and pub we went to. Breakfast was enjoyed with amazing mango smoothies they knocked up for the boys in a little café. And in the pub we nipped into for a porter, a tee-shirt was provided after Alfie slipped off the bench and was drenched by his orange juice, which had thoughtfully been served in a plastic pint glass. The Barman could not have been more helpful and kind in relieving Alfie’s embarrassment and the beers and home brewed porters at the aptly named Porterhouse went down helpfully too.


Alfie was delighted with his tee shirt from The Porterhouse – worth pouring his drink all over himself for!

We did of course go to the Dublinia Museum, which documents the Viking and Medieval history of Dublin. Patrick’s highlight of the entire weekend was experienced here where they have a model of a Viking man on the toilet, complete with sound effects! This interactive museum also allows kids a variety of hands on fun playing medieval games, trying on chain-male amour and learning about archaeology. Here is Alfie throwing a ball at a man in the stocks (fear not – the Viking on the loo is further down).


The Museum is next door to the Cathedral which you can pay to visit also.

So, to sum up what Dublin has going for it for a family with young kids…

  • Cheap and quick flights (about 45 mins from Bristol)

  • Everywhere is easy walking

  • Fantastic restaurants, even the “non-family” ones welcoming

  • Great attractions for all the family

  • A rich culture and heritage which is difficult to rival in the UK

  • Great beer! A lot of which is brewed in the Cities various micro-breweries

We highly recommend a visit to this wonderful city, but do remember to take some wet weather gear!

Here are some more pictures to whet your appetite for Dublin:


Incredible selection of Ireland’s finest beverages at The Porterhouse.


The Viking on the toilet was a popular feature of the Dublinia Museum – there were sound effects too!



The Cathedral in Dublin, next door to the Dublinia Museum


Street entertainment on Grafton Street


Mango Juice – interesting drinks were provided for the kids almost everywhere we went.


Our drinks were pretty interesting too 🙂 by the way, that’s a genuine axe wound on his face, a friend dropped it on him!

Reality hitting!


Well the cows passed their TB test and early tomorrow morning will be loaded in a lorry and taken to Exeter market to be sold. Suddenly it all feels a bit more real! Yesterday I read a blog by a woman, Kate Hand, who has recently relocated her family from Ireland to Spain and although on the whole it’s amazing, but the kids are struggling at times – naturally. Since reading her post, A Heavy Heart I’ve been pondering just how I will cope with all the “I hate travelling, I want to go home” ‘s I’m going to hear. And I’m sure I will hear a lot of them.

Alfie came in a few mornings ago from playing outside, kicking his feet about and looking sad. “What’s up Alf?” I asked with concern. “When we go travelling I won’t see Rosa for a whole year” and with that he burst into tears. Rosa is his best friend who lives with her mum in a caravan on our farm. Alfie adores her and she him.

And so a conversation was had about all the things we will miss when we are away and about the friends old and new that we will be seeing around the world. I’m going to miss Ethel our dog… BIG TIME! She’s old now and the reality is that there is a chance she may not be around when we get back. I’ll miss our house too as I love it here. Alfie wished we could take Ethel and Rosa with us and I explained over his sobs that we couldn’t. Missing things isn’t a good reason not to go. Over coming the fear of missing things is a great skill which can set them up for a lifetime of adventure.

And so with the sale of our cows, some of which we love like pets, the reality, both the good and bad is setting in. Their sale equals freedom to travel but I will miss them.

Bovine TB, badgers and me…


If you are not a farmer but love wildlife it’s easy to be pro badgers and anti seeing the situation from any other perspective. But what if you are a wildlife loving farmer? Where do you stand on this controversial issue?

It’s going to be a stressful week for us here. We have our annual bovine tuberculosis (bTB) test and if they are all clear then almost our entire herd will be going to Exeter market on Friday to be sold so that we can go travelling next year. If we have a reactor – we can’t sell anything – we can’t go travelling! It is nerve wracking.

TB is rife down here in the South West and it’s a big problem for farmers as well as the tax payers. But what has it got to do with poor lovely badgers? Well unfortunately they spread it if they have it. Other animals carry it too, such as deer, but badgers come into close contact with cattle as they go into barns and eat the cows food, share water troughs and mark everywhere with their urine. That’s one of the ways it spreads though cattle to cattle is also a problem.

To understand the issues and why we need this stressful test we have to look at the history. Back in the 1930’s over 40% of the cattle population had bTB and bTB in humans was also a major problem with over 50,000 new cases every year. Luckily, thanks to milk pasteurisation bTB in humans is pretty rare these days and on the whole bTB doesn’t pose a significant risk to human health.

When people realised that badgers where spreading bTB they killed them… a lot! Lobbying from wildlife protection groups resulted in badgers receiving a protected status with legislation preventing the harming or killing of them. This was reinforced in 1992 with the Protection of Badgers Act. It’s been very successful and badger number are now thriving, as you can tell if you happen to drive along any road in the British countryside, there are dead ones everywhere! But of course farmers don’t like being told they can’t control the populations of wild animals on their farms which are spreading disease… indeed rats and mice absolutely must be controlled! Rabbits, pigeons and deer too!

I love badgers, they are beautiful, intriguing animals and I adore seeing them in the wild. I love the mythology that surrounds them and I love seeing their tracks and signs. However, I also love to see wild deer, foxes, hedgehogs, voles, moles, rabbits, birds and all the rest of our native British wildlife. I actively go out looking for it as a hobby, I read about it and watch programmes about it. I’ve also shot rabbits on our land and I’ve eaten plenty of rabbit, deer, pigeon and even squirrel, which has been shot – It’s a darn sight more natural and healthy then even the meat that we farm!

What I don’t understand is the ongoing need for badgers to be set above the rest of the wildlife in terms of legislation when their numbers are so strong now. Times have changed and reversing the extra protection isn’t going to result in farmers going out and gassing setts. Give them some credit… most farmers enjoy the wildlife on their farms. They do a fine job of controlling the populations of rabbits, deer and pigeons without making them extinct and there isn’t a farmer I’ve met yet who would go and kill a healthy population of badgers on their land – it would just open the set up for unhealthy ones to move in.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not pro the cull either. I don’t think the science adds up and I think it’s a rather drastic and dramatic attempt at sorting a problem, which the Rethink Bovine TB campaign argues isn’t in fact a problem at all. It’s an interesting campaign which challenges both sides of the current arguments.

Vaccination isn’t as entirely straight forward as the anti-cull people would have you believe. If only the solution was that simple! Progress with vaccine is being made though and offers hope for the future. The issues around vaccination are easily explained with a quick google search and basic understanding of the current testing system but are far too tedious to explain here.

Like all farms we have badgers on ours, but the fact that our cattle are outdoors year round significantly reduces the chances of them coming into significant contact with badgers. If we housed our cattle in winter there would be far greater opportunity for infection if badgers came into the cattle house for food, water and shelter. We are small scale enough to avoid winter housing and we stock a hardy breed but most farms have to house their cattle over winter… That’s the reality.

So another option for the government would be to make grants available for better bio-security on farms. The reason badgers come into contact with cattle is due to badly designed yards and barns and with a relatively small grant farmers could put flaps on the bottom of gates, rollers at drinking troughs and a few other minor measures which prevent badgers from coming into contact with cattle. This excellent YouTube video about an experiment on three farms in Wales is pretty impressive viewing and shows yet another alternative to the current arguments of culling or vaccination.

I’d love to know how much the various wildlife protection organisations spend each year on campaigns to prevent the cull and attempts to back up bad science. Instead of denying that there is a problem with badgers and bTB why not embrace a relationship with farmers – help them with the bio-security on farms, make grants available, send volunteers to help farmers implement the anti badger measures – stop this “them and us” attitude which isn’t getting the badgers anywhere!

So… my view on bTB? None of the current options are ideal but farmers need to be empowered to manage bTB for themselves. Grants to increase bio-security and the ability to manage their own farms TB policy, the choice of vaccination or testing and the ability to manage the wildlife on their own farms. I would like to see a public display of confidence in farmers by the government on this matter. I would like wildlife protection groups to recognise that it’s on farmers land the badgers are living and befriend the farmers that can make the difference, work with us and help us instead of seeing farmers as the enemies.

But to be honest, right now, I just want my cattle to pass their test…

Make hay while the sun shines!


We are being asked a lot about our motivation for heading off around the world with three such small children and although I gave a brief explanation in my initial post I though I would take the time to give a bit more detail.

Rob and I didn’t really travel much in our youth. Although I had been on some amazing family holidays, the idea of back packing never really appealed. I didn’t have specific interests enough to have gone to particular places, it would have been aimless and wasted in hindsight. Our early twenties were spend studying for our degrees – Rob’s in Environmental Conservation and Countryside Management and mine in Nursing. After that we got married and had kids. Due to a pregnancy related condition I suffered with, the 6 years it took to have our 3 children resulted in a total of 27 months of bed bound misery for me and a housebound prison for Rob, my nursemaid and in pregnancies #2 and #3 a single dad.

Now that our youngest is walking and nearly talking and we certainly aren’t having any more, the world seems our oyster! Getting out and going places with three kids is positively easy when you’ve had 27 months of barely getting down the stairs or out of the front door.

As is the natural way of getting older and growing up, the last few years has seen us honing our interests and hobbies. Luckily for our marriage our interests have grown and developed together and so our aims for what we want to get out of our travelling experience are mutual.

Although we have long been into bird and nature watching we have both become fascinated by geology and natural history in just the last couple of years, along with a developing passion for science and astronomy. Britain is lucky enough to be host to an incredible array of birds and wildlife but lets get real… to really experience the natural world we need to pack up and move on.

But what about the children? Why don’t you wait until they are older and can remember it?

Well, what if we wait a few years until Orla is old enough to remember it and something happens and we can’t do it? Not wanting to sound morbid but who knows what is around the corner – from cancer to car crashes, childhood illnesses and mental breakdowns. Right now we have our health, we can afford to do it so why wait! Yes I know Orla won’t remember much of it, but it will help to shape who she is and you know what… when she is my age and has a family of her own she could take off and see the world with them and learn about the things that interest her.

The kids are young enough for me to home school them – it’s just a bit of reading and writing and their maths will soon sharpen up with a bit of pocket money. They aren’t overly fussed about friendships, their own space, fashionable clothes and so on. They eat what they’re given and don’t require vast amounts… They’re pretty portable really!

And so there you have it. That, in a nutshell, is it. When asked why? my answer is why not? The sun is shining right now… so lets make out hay now and it will feed us for the winters ahead.