Well just 4 weeks after we moved into our new home, I took the kids back to the UK for a month long trip travelling around the UK and Europe.
We started at Granny and Papa's, catching up with jet lag and visiting Brunel's SS Great Britain and Clifton suspension bridge. The boat was fab and I'm glad I walked over the bridge and back. I don't need to do it again though - I do not have a head (or stomach) for heights!
We then took a train to London for my cousin's wedding and to meet up with Daddy. He arrived early Saturday morning and surprised the kids in the hotel room! Granny and Papa came with us to help with the kids and I stole Granny away for the evening to see Phantom of the Opera in the West End.
Pretty much my whole family were at the Wedding including my other cousin and his girlfriend, who live in Minnesota.
We had a beautiful sunny weekend and it was so nice to spend time with everyone. We even got to spend a few hours on the Sunday doing the tourist sights like Buckingham Palace and Big Ben!
We then took a train to Kent to hang out with the Dean family. We try to see them every time we go back on leave but haven't been to their house for years. The boys all bonded and so did the girls. Their boys were so sweet - they set up camp on the floor with Toby instead of sleeping in heir bunk beds. Toby had nothing but admiration for them. It was a tough goodbye :(
My university friend moved to Annecy in France a few years ago and we managed to arrange a visit to coincide with another friend who was camping nearby with her family. So we flew over to Switzerland for a day (spot of sightseeing!) and then drove to France to meet up with them for the weekend.
France was lush - so much good food, wine (from a box!!!) and laughs. Oh how we laugh at ourselves... which is good job as no-one else does!! :) Bonuses were swimming in the lake and hiking up a mountain in flip-flops.
Then it was back to Bristol to see the Harpers and Pikes. Our newest nieces were babies last time we saw them and now they are toddlers! We spent as much time as we could cuddling them and trying to get to know them. Hardest part of living abroad :(
Before too long we were saying goodbye to everyone, including Daddy, and driving up to Manchester for 10 days. Our kids get 3 months off school in the summer so we decided that the kids and I would spend a month in the UK even though he could only go back for a week or so.
Manchester was a lot of fun. I got to see friends, hang out in Manchester and the Trafford Centre and the kids had a sleep-over at Grandma and Grandad's. We even drove over to Wales for the day to visit friends. When you only get to see people once a year, you make the most of every minute.
The final part of the journey was to drive back to Bristol to fly home from Heathrow the next day.
Whilst we were away, Charlotte lost her first 2 teeth! The first one fell out into the grass at Granny and Papa's - I can't believe she managed to find it! And the second whilst she was eating a 'crunchie biscuit' in Manchester. The British tooth fairy brought her a shiny gold pound coin each time which she decided to keep until we go back to the UK! She didn't even want to give the third one away that she pulled out when we got back to Michigan. Funny girl! :)
So all in all it was an epic journey! Thank you to everyone who had us to stay, fed us, travelled to see us and made the trip so much fun.
It was an amazing trip but we were completely exhausted when we got home. Definitely a once a year trip!
SS Great Britain in Bristol
Paddington Bear in London
Dean family in Kent
Geneva in Switzerland!
Harpers and Pikes in Bristol
Uncle Simon came to visit
Summer fun at the Trafford Centre
My big girl with less teeth than she arrived with!
Wales to visit the Langs (longest town name in Europe)
Grandma and Grandad time!