summer

A family reunion in North Wales

‘Pack the wet weather gear!’ everyone warned – and, as we drove from Lancashire to Pwhelli, on the coast of Northern Wales, the brooding clouds suggested we’d need them. Hills and castles appeared and disappeared as we drove the winding roads to our destination, Hafan Y Mor Caravan Holiday Park. But we need not have worried. It was as though Merlin had waved his wand, sending the dark clouds scurrying away. Blue sky opened up above us and the forecast looked heaven sent.

In fact, we were incredibly blessed – with a week of glorious sunshine and temperatures on a par to California. Jelly fish on the beach signalled sea temperatures warmer than average (even warmer than California!) and we welcomed the cooling spray of water guns, fired by our cheeky daughters.

We booked two, six-berth, caravans to accommodate our family, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles. It was quite the reunion for my husband with his side of the family (my sister & her man did manage a quick visit too)!

We spent an amazing week together, making memories to last till the next time (which sadly isn’t as often as we’d like – flights from New Zealand to the UK are hard work and time consuming – not to mention costly!). We celebrated a Birthday; played endless games of badminton, tag and football; ran around the camp and down to the beautiful coastline with sweeping views over the Snowdonia National Park.

The cousins, a mixture of ages, came together like old friends and spent hours trying their hand at various activities like archery, go-karting and aqua jets in the swimming pool.

Our only wish was that we could have stayed longer – and maybe booked a few more caravans for my side of the family too!

Linking up with…

A place to play in central Copenhagen

We stumbled across a lovely playground in the centre of Copenhagen on a hot summer’s day. A paddling pool invited the children to splash around and cool down. Ride-on bikes lay about for children to freely play on.

ride-on fun

A welcoming hut had toys outside, akin to a pre-school, but all the toys were for passing children to enjoy, share and play with.

The spirit of community was strong and as visitors to Copenhagen we were greeted with welcoming smiles.

Playground and community hub in Copenhagen

It was a beautiful play-area and a lovely way to spend a couple of hours. A couple of children’s tennis racquets sat invitingly on a bench next to a swing-set . Miss 4 had a great time knocking the ball back and forth with me, whilst Miss 8 had fun nearby on the swings.

A beautiful imaginary play area, including carved wooden horses, totem poles and canoes, was surrounded by trees with bird boxes. As the children played I could hear baby chicks chirping from within the bird-boxes.

What’s more, there was a cafe that served a superb latte for the adults and ice-lollies for the children. Perfection!

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We visited this playground, Skydebanehaven, a few times over the 12 nights we stayed in Copenhagen (earlier blog post here). It was only a ten-minute stroll from the apartment where we stayed and just the place for children to be happy, nestled in a natural retreat within the city.

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Linking up with Country Kids at Coombe Mill

 

Scenes from the bus in Copenhagen

I took my three daughters on the ‘Hop-On Hop-Off Copenhagen‘ bus tour (though we didn’t do much hopping; as the children were very happy on the open air top-deck of the double decker bus).

If I wasn’t managing three children of different interests, ages and sensitivities, I would have spent all day hopping on and off, exploring the beautiful streets and historic landmarks, but I was aware of my own limitations (and my children), so I simply took the easy option – sat back, enjoyed the views and took just one ‘hop off’ at the half way point of the tour – by the ‘Little Mermaid‘.

We didn’t bother with the crowds of tourists lining up to get their photo with the ‘Little Mermaid’, but did enjoy the beautiful vistas.

As the ‘World Travel Guide‘ writes in its guide to Copenhagen travel;

‘Water is ever-present in Copenhagen, a reminder of the city’s heritage as a major Baltic port, and the harbour is the best place to observe the capital’s great contrasts. Nyhavn has retained a deceptively provincial atmosphere, with colourful gabled buildings and cobbled lanes, recalling the fairytale capital that inspired Hans Christian Andersen.’

Water is never more than a short stroll away in Copenhagen. Its city streets, broad and friendly to pedestrians, are pleasant to walk (or cycle) – free from the pollution that plagues so many other European cities. If it’s not water you seek, then inner city green spaces are also plentiful, from parks like the Botanical Gardens and the grounds surrounding the Rosenborg Castle to ‘Pocket Parks‘; drops of urban green on a small scale.

The streets in summer are lined with cafes spilling out on to pavements. Music from buskers filled the air as we drove past, intermingled with the sound of people happily whiling away time over a leisurely lunch.

As we finished our bus tour, riding on the lower level for the second half – taking shade from the sun, we plugged in our headphones, provided as part of the tour. The commentary came in a selection of languages, informing us of the sights as they came into view. I was surprised at how much my youngest daughter enjoyed this (even out trumping the choice of using her iPad and the free Wifi!).

The bus tour lasted a little over an hour and was definitely a great way to get an overview of Copenhagen. I could happily have spent all day hopping on and off. A beautiful city to see, especially in the summer.

The Photo Gallery | The Longest Day

It’s normally at this time of year, in New Zealand, that I’m rugged up with a Pinot Noir, glaring at a flickering candle and wishing I was somewhere warmer. There’s a certain romanticism of tucking up and hunkering down for winter – but it wears off pretty quickly (unless of course there’s a ton of fresh powder snow on a mountain nearby!).

This year, I am in the northern hemisphere, seeing in the longest day, and feeling very appreciative of the sunshine, warmth and long daylight hours. I looked at my Facebook feed of updates from family and friends in the northern hemisphere with shared appreciation and not a shred of envy. Meanwhile, I looked at my southern hemisphere pals in New Zealand with admiration – as some were running marathons and half-marathons, others throwing themselves in the water at Lyall Bay for a mid-winter swim and some hitting the snowy slopes.

I suppose I could have thrown myself in the Pacific ocean for a swim, but went for a run instead. I finished up with a beautiful walk along the beach, at high-tide, getting splashed by the break waves hitting the rocks as I carefully made my way from Santa Barbara beach to Butterfly Beach.

Santa Barbara beach to Butterfly Beach at high tide

I wasn’t alone on my walk. This beautiful pair of white heron were never more than ten yards from me. They kept a wary eye on me, not entirely pleased to be sharing their spot with a bumbling, bare-footed, human. I did try to channel my inner mountain goat spirit whilst scrambling over the rocks, but really didn’t look very graceful – although I managed to complete my walk without a twisted ankle, so that’s a result.

White Heron

I feel very fortunate to be here at the moment, knowing that when the daylight hours start to decrease toward winter, I shall be back in Wellington, New Zealand, just as summer approaches. I shall take the memories of this year in southern California with me, where the sky has almost always been blue and outdoor celebrations have rarely needed a ‘Plan B’. There were two summer-solstice weddings set up on the beach, with typical Californian confidence of the weather being good.

I love the light. I can cope with cold, wind and rain, but natural light is like water to my body and soul. It’s been great to have such a good dose of it this year! Definitely good for my health. 

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Joining in with ‘The Photo Gallery’ at Sticky Fingers, with this week’s theme of ‘The Longest Day‘.