A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about family

The Fens

Fens

semi-overcast 22 °C
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It had been a long time since we had had a relaxing getaway, and so we booked ourselves a lodge with a hot tub in Norfolk, and went up with my brother and sister.

We travelled up after work on Friday, getting dinner en route, before dropping our bits off at the lodge, located in the Fens in Norfolk. The Fens were historically marshy underwater land that was drained in the 1600s. Very much like the Netherlands they are incredibly flat, and contain lots of straight roads and drains, and arable crops.

After popping to the supermarket in Downham Market, we headed back to the lodge and made our first use of the hot tub, enjoying drinks and music in the soothing tub.

The following day we made use of being in this part of the world, by visiting the city of Ely. Ely was historically an island within the Fens, and although home to just 20,000 people is only of the most important places in the area.

After eventually finding a space to park we headed into the centre, walking down the High Street, before turning into the churchyard. Here the huge Ely Cathedral came into view. The cathedral has an iconic Octagonal tower, and dominates the skyline of the whole city.

Ely Cathedral

Ely Cathedral

Admission was £8, and so for the four of us this would have been £32 - but as the pay point was just inside the church we went inside took a quick look across the barrier, went inside the gift shop and then left.

We then headed across the Green, past the canon captured from the Crimean War, before arriving outside the family home of Oliver Cromwell, the leader of England during the Republic after the civil war. Inside, the building also functions as the Tourist Information Centre, where we bought some souvenirs, before heading along the circular walk around town.

Oliver Cromwell's House

Oliver Cromwell's House

This walk heads to the south of the cathedral through gardens dedicated to the Queen's Golden Jubilee, before arriving along the banks of the River Great Ouse.

After making it back round to the car, we headed to the lodge, where after a bit of lunch we spent the rest of the day in and out of the hot tub, mixing it up with games and chats.

Hot Tub Fun

Hot Tub Fun

The following day was our last. We had a pretty lazy day, in and out of the hot tub, and only leaving it to go for a wander around the edge of the campsite. At late afternoon we then packed up our stuff and headed back home, once again getting dinner en route.

It was a lovely weekend, just being able to relax in a nice environment and have fun and games with my siblings.

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 17:22 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged history city cathedral family lodge Comments (0)

"Though you don't have this in England..."

Holy Land - Tel Aviv

sunny 25 °C
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After leaving the south coast, I then arrived in Tel Aviv just before the sunset, now just entering the Shabbat. Having checked in at the hostel I then headed off to Old Jaffa - the oldest part of Tel Aviv, where the Old Port was illuminated.

Old Jaffa

Old Jaffa

Old Jaffa was a pleasant surprise, being much nicer than I had imagined - Whilst Jerusalem is the Old City with all the history, Tel Aviv for the most part is a modern secular city, so to find some historic pretty buildings that looked so pretty was rather surprising, and gave me something to enjoy on my final night.

Jaffa Clock Tower

Jaffa Clock Tower


Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv

I then headed up the promenade walking towards Tel Aviv proper, before heading back towards the hostel via McDonalds and the most amazing McFlurry I've ever witnessed (tonnes of M&Ms AND Mango Sauce, scattered throughout the ice cream).

Family Reunion

Family Reunion

The following day was my family reunion, as I was picked up outside of my hostel and taken to my aunty's house, by her husband and spent the day with her and her family. Having only met her once since I was little, it was also time for me to have a catch up and ask lots of questions about her life since she moved to Israel. I was taken on a tour of their village, where the wall separating the Palestinians from the Israelis is visible, as well as a tour of their house. "It's very much the same as you have in England...well, except this room" I was told as I was led behind the kitchen..."oh it might be a pantry or something" I was thinking, before I saw the thick walls and solid iron door that is clearly used as a shelter in the event of rocket fire. "We only used it four times during the summer" I was told...

Enjoying a lovely barbeque and catch up I was taken back to the airport after a week's long travel. Once again I was subjected to many questions, and ranked 5/7 on the security risk scale, but after few real problems I headed through into the departure lounge, where after a proper Granny wave I met up with Tim and Wendy from my Petra tour again, telling them all about my day with my aunty, and them telling me all about the rest of Petra after we left and they stayed an extra day. They then asked me what I thought of Eilat, or "Benidorm on the Red Sea" as they called it - not that they'd been to Benidorm - I agreed with them on that, and I hadn't been there either! We then made our way to the plane for a particularly boring 5 hour flight in the dark, with no newspaper, Internet, entertainment or view to look at. But eventually we landed back at Luton, and after saying goodbye to my new 'besties' I headed home to rest!

Despite being a little nervous about going after everyone repeated the same line - "oh, is that safe?", I'm glad I went as I saw so much, and it really did feel safe. Had I not seen the news and heard there was all the trouble going on, I wouldn't have even known. And anyway, I lived to tell the tale!

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Israel Tagged city family holyland Comments (0)

Quake City & The Springs

RTW - New Zealand, South Island

all seasons in one day 13 °C
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The two weeks I had planned in New Zealand were almost exactly as that of Australia - arriving in the coldest part, staying for about 10 days with relatives, followed by a few days in a warmer part.

Having left Sydney for New Zealand, I was met at the airport by my Aunty and her family, spending a week and a half taking a break from hectic sightseeing again and giving me time to catch up on sleep (and washing), which was just as well, as the weather in Christchurch was very much as it was in Mount Gambier - being generally cold but mostly fine.

Beginning by taking a rest day, on the second full day I went into Christchurch to explore what remains following the earthquake damage two years previously. Although it meant that much of the centre had been destroyed, being a Geography student, the aftermath was still very interesting.

Re:START Mall

Re:START Mall

I took a visit to the recently opened Quake City exhibition, with many relics from the quake. There were also fascinating videos of CCTV footage, and interviews with locals.

Christchurch Cathedral

Christchurch Cathedral

Luckily a few weeks previously, the city centre had finally been reopened, and I was therefore able to get up close to the damaged cathedral. Witnessing the half damaged shell of the historic building, I then walked towards the temporary Cardboard Cathedral, before going back towards the city centre and the portacabins that were being used as shops.

Cardboard Cathedral

Cardboard Cathedral

One of the most enjoyable parts of my trip was the visit up to Hanmer Springs, which the eight of us in this extended family took for three days.

Despite the miserable weather on the first day - being around 7 days and foggy with light rain, we spent the day in the Spa, where there were a variety of thermal pools reaching up as high as 42˚C.

Family photo in the Thermal Pools

Family photo in the Thermal Pools

Amazingly, on the second day of the trip the weather had completely cleared up and we were treated to spectacular views of the surrounding mountains in the blazing sun, which we later climbed as a group.

NZ Mountains

NZ Mountains

Being able to spend the trip with a youthful group also meant there were a lot of laughs that would simply not have happened had I gone alone.

These included beating the cousins at Uno whilst laughing at some of the misfortunate confusions in conversation that come with the New Zealand accents ("Yes, I had someone sitting on my deck" for instance); and going on "Pussy Patrol" looking for cats after finding free WiFi outside the village library.

After much relaxation, I then spent the last days with my cousins, who by now were on school holidays, and visited the beach at Sumner, marking my furthest journey south yet, before enjoying a last family meal, where I discovered I could in fact enjoy Pizza!

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in New Zealand Tagged hills city family relax rtw Comments (0)

"The Nine Apostles"

RTW - Southern Australia

overcast 12 °C
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Having flown in from Hong Kong overnight I arrived on a fresh Monday morning in Melbourne to meet up with my Australian relatives who I hadn't seen for over 10 years!

As they lived in Mount Gambier, we then left Melbourne (which I would return to explore 10 days later) and drove towards South Australia.

This meant that we could see some of the sights of Victoria too, including the Great Ocean Road, with some Geographical Landscapes that are reminiscent of the Jurrasic Coast in Dorset. The highlight of this area being the Twelve Apostles - eight stacks standing just off the coast caused by erosion.

Twelve Apostles

Twelve Apostles

After taking lunch in Port Campbell, and heading off to Warrnambool for the night my exhaustion finally caught up with me and I ended up being too tired to eat!

After staying overnight in Warrnambool, we finally arrived back in Mount Gambier the following afternoon. On the following day I took my first rest day of the trip, having a long lie in followed by catching up with all the bits and bobs I was unable to do before, such as registering for graduation.

Family Day Out

Family Day Out

After this rest, the following day I went off the visit more relatives who I hadn't seen for 13 years, and was given a tour around the town centre. After another day of resting we had reached the weekend, and we had a day out to the seaside, before a family meal and a barbeque inside the volcano, where I got to meet almost all my Australian relations.

Blue Lake

Blue Lake

The following week was very similar. I went and joined my aunty at work in the morning, before going out with my cousins to some caves just over the border back in Victoria, as well as saying my goodbyes to my family before leaving back for Melbourne.

Kangaroo

Kangaroo

Having said goodbye to most of my relatives, and accidentally killing a kangaroo en route, we headed off towards Sovereign Hill, an 1850s Gold Mine open air museum, giving me some insight into colonial culture.

Sovereign Hill

Sovereign Hill

Heading off nice and early, we eventually arrived in Melbourne on the following day. After dropping my stuff off at the hostel in the very centre of the city, we headed off to the markets where I bought some cheap souvenirs and spent the last few hours with my relatives.

Neighbours

Neighbours

I then headed off towards the eastern suburbs of the city to find the street where Neighbours is filmed before heading back into the centre.

Flinders Street

Flinders Street

Taking the free city tour bus I saw all the sights in the city, including Flinders Street Station and the South Bank, as well as using the free tram around the centre.

Melbourne CBD

Melbourne CBD

Whilst the weather itself was not actually that cold, having acclimatised to 30 degrees for two weeks it did come as a bit of a shock, but the area was very nice and I managed to see wild Kangaroos as well as a Koala and emus. It was bizarre to think I was now the furthest I had ever been from home, and yet in many ways it was the most similar! Though the internal quarantine, varying time zones and different dialects did show some differences!

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Australia Tagged animals coast city rural family rtw Comments (0)

The Balaton

Central Europe - Balaton

semi-overcast 22 °C
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Lake Balaton

Lake Balaton

The second part of the trip involved visiting Lake Balaton in the west of Hungary. We stayed in the resort town of Keszthely, where there was a lovely beach into the shallow lake which was rather refreshing after the hot weather of recent. This was also the first place I had ever been where my German was actually required to get around - despite having lived in Germany for a year!

On the following day we took the trip to Sümeg, the village where my grandad lived until he escaped Hungary in 1956, and where the majority of the rest of his family still live.

Family Reunion

Family Reunion

Despite speaking no Hungarian, and most of them speaking no English, we were warmly welcomed and had a thoroughly enjoyable day getting to know them and visiting Sümeg Castle.

Sümeg Castle

Sümeg Castle


Lake Hévíz

Lake Hévíz

The following day we visited the spa town of Hévíz just up the road from Keszthely where the thermal lake had waters of 30˚C+, something I had yet to experience. The sun also left its mark on me that day, allowing me to sport a lovely sunburn for the next week. On our final day we relaxed a little as our next day involved a 5-leg travel into Austria and spent the day at the market hunting for Noodle scrapers!

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Hungary Tagged beach history family castle homeland Comments (0)

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