adventure

24 hours in England

We touched down at London Heathrow early afternoon on Saturday. Our flight from Los Angeles went smoothly enough – after a delay boarding the plane due to a fatality on the incoming plane from New Zealand. Thankfully, we had access to the Air New Zealand lounge, which was so much more pleasant and peaceful than the alternative. It was a lovely touch of ‘home ‘ for our three New Zealand born daughters. They walked in to a greeting of ‘Kia Ora’ and a big cuddly Kiwi bird. New Zealand wine and beer was available, cheese from the homeland, carrot cake and pictures of red Pohutakawa trees bordering a pristine New Zealand beach.

We enjoyed grazing on snacks, chatting to the cabin crew, watching the World Cup football and the airplanes coming and going.

The cabin crew on the Air New Zealand flight to London Heathrow were so friendly and welcoming; a blend of nationalities from Welsh to Spanish. We settled in for the ten hour flight, with a great assortment of inflight entertainment. The children were all impeccably well behaved on the flight. They didn’t sleep much (probably three hours at tops!), but were quietly happy with the movies and games. The man of the house was delighted to enjoy a ‘Speights’, so he was ‘good as gold… mate’!

When we landed in London, early afternoon, it was morning in Santa Barbara, California. They’d been on the go for 24 hours and were extremely sleep deprived, but still held themselves together for the nearly one mile walk from the airplane to customs!

It was incredibly humid in the airport. By the time with reached the lines of people at customs we were all dripping with perspiration. After a relatively short wait, of around twenty minutes it was our turn to hand over our passports for inspection. Unfortunately our middle daughter was feeling very queasy at this point and shortly after declaring, ‘I feel like I’m going to vomit’, she spewed on the floor at the customs desk. My heart went out to her, whilst my stomach churned. It was all too much for our eldest daughter, who withdrew as far back as possible. Our youngest was sweetly comforting and sympathetic. The staff at customs were so good, offering up water, a cloth for our daughter and a bag for anything else to follow. Poor love.

Half an hour or so later, we finally emerged with our bags at arrivals to be greeted by my dear parents.

Whilst Dan headed off with our eldest daughter to pick up a hire car, I headed off with our two youngest in Grandma & Granddad’s car to their home in Hampshire. We skipped an awful traffic jam on the M25, by driving via Windsor – pointing out the castle on the way.

We spent the rest of Saturday resting. The man of the house enjoyed watching some more World Cup football, having a couple of pints in an English pub with his father-in-law and picking up a primo English curry (the Gulshan in Fleet is such a good’un!).

Our youngest daughter was the liveliest. She was so excited to be at her Grandparents house.

The next day, Sunday, started incredibly early. Miss 4 and Miss 8 awoke before 5am. By 7am Miss 4 was ready for some exercise out and about (she’d already circled the garden, said ‘Good morning’ to the wood pigeons, and eaten a pancake). I headed out to the local swimming pool with Miss 4 and Granddad  – at 7am! We had a really fun time and returned back to the house. Miss 4 was still bursting with energy. Meanwhile Miss 11 awoke and headed up to the local town centre with her Daddy and Grandparents for a full cooked English breakfast, before walking up to the local Calthorpe Park to check out the annual carnival festivities with young Miss 4 in tow.

They all returned about midday, with Miss 4 asleep in the buggy. I’d stopped at the house to keep Miss 8 company – still in recovery mode from the being sick on arrival at Heathrow.

We had a few good hours left to rest before having to head off on another journey – this time to Copenhagen in Denmark. All the girls fell fast asleep and we had to wake them up at 4pm when it was time to leave for Heathrow Airport, Terminal 5.

Terminal 5, London , Heathrow

Terminal 5, London , Heathrow

So, a flying visit to England indeed! Managed to get a quick fix of an English curry, pub and full cooked breakfast though. I managed a nearly 4 mile jog too (on the day we landed – definitely had a touch of cabin fever to expel!). It’s always a great feeling to arrive in England, the birth place of hubby and I. There’s a feeling of completeness, for me in particular, when I’m at my folks home. We bid farewell, knowing we’d be back on British shores again in a fortnight, after a two week business trip for the man of the house in Copenhagen. Phew! Busy times, but precious too.

Fun at the Fair in the sunshine of Santa Cruz

“It’s ‘Blackpool Pleasure Beach’ in the sun!” we both said in unison as the children ran around us in excited circles waiting for their tickets.

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

Old-fashioned rides blended with fair-ground games, candy floss and hot dog stalls were on every corner and the sound of screams, mixed with shrill laughter, filled the air. The only thing missing were trams and donkeys. On the expansive beach there were people in a lot less clothing than on your average day at Blackpool too, but then this was Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Amusement Park in sunny California.

Swings

The symphony swings flew out in an arc over the beach, as the sun beat down on the beach below. Our seven year old daughter rode on the swings over and over again, whilst her oldest sister rode on the boardwalk’s landmark ride – ‘The Giant Dipper‘ – with her Daddy.

The Giant Dipper

Whilst the screams of excitement, intermingled with music and laughter, rang out from every direction of the boardwalk, our youngest, Miss 3, took a nap in her buggy. Her dreams filled with riding a friendly dragon, as her Mummy and Daddy smiled on with delight; as she pulled back on a lever to fly her dragon into a cloudless, blue sky.

Alice on the dragon ride

And whilst she continued to dream, I watched the smile on the face of one of my daughters. She was having the time of her life, riding on a car waltzer, making me reminisce on days when the fun-fair would visit the town where I grew up, in Hampshire, England.

Miss 7 having a blast!

There were some rides that filled my husband and I with less than pleasant memories from our younger years, but filled our two older girls with rapturous glee, calling out to go, ‘Again! Again!’.

Let's get dizzy!

The first time they rode the spinning machine of stomach churning madness I thought they’d come off green, with tears streaming down their faces! But their stomachs are obviously made of something stronger (that perhaps age makes worse!).

Happy to be spinning around and around!

They delighted in getting their Mummy and Daddy to go on the ‘scary’ rides with them – taking huge pleasure in seeing us cope less ably than them.

Crazy Surf

Thankfully we had the excuse of young Miss 3 to ‘cop’ out of too much stomach churning. As much as we still love a good thrill, we got equal pleasure from watching our youngest child’s face light up riding independently on boats, whales and ‘Pepsi’ delivery vehicles!

Alice on the whale

She rode a little boat with such concentration, truly believing her actions on the steering wheel would make a difference as to how the boat moved.

Boat riding concentrationAll the while the sun continued to beat down on the beach and fun on the boardwalk.

Santa Cruz beach

Whilst cuddly toys called out to be won…

Catching a prize

And ghosts were preparing to meet with their demise as our older two ‘ghost busters’ powered up for action.

Ghost busting

This was definitely one family adventure not to be forgotten. We’ll be talking about this for a very long time!

Country Kids in California

Driving up the West Coast of California, north from Santa Barbara, we made a pit stop at a place in the country called Avila Valley Barn for a ‘Fall’ experience Californian style.

fun on the farm

The youngest of our family was the most enthralled. She tore into her roasted sweetcorn with the appetite of a cowgirl that had been working hard on the ranch all day (well she had ridden a pony for the first time in her life, as well as tackling some hale bales).

image

She’d had a go at being a scarecrow, along with one of her older sisters too. They did a pretty good job!

image

The array of fresh fruit and bright, natural colours from all the lush foods of the farm was a feast for the eyes. If time had allowed we would have taken a ride on a tractor trailer to see more of the farm, but one of our group wasn’t keen to stay for long (let’s just say hay, farms, flies, animals and smelly doo doos are not our eldest child’s favourite things!).

Pony rides, pumpkins and flowers

I couldn’t leave without snapping a pumpkin pic (Miss 3 tried to lift the largest she could find too – insisting we take one along on our road trip up to San Francisco – but we managed to escape without an orange friend!).

Pumpkins California sunshine style

A perfect stop to celebrate the season of Fall here in California (though it felt like a hot summer’s day to me!). I live in hope that our eldest child will one day not be so disabled by her ‘super senses’ and be able to enjoy the beauty of life on the farm (I too recall finding the overpowering smells too much for me as a child). Thankfully, she understood how happy the visit made her younger sisters and was quite content to wait in the comfort of the air-conditioned car with her Daddy for a spell.

We drove on up to Monterey (our stop for tonight) with a happy family in the car, enjoying the scenic drive and admiring the farm workers in the heat of Californian sun.

_______________________________

Joining in with….

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall