Monthly Archives: October 2017

Autumn 2017

Since returning from America in mid-September, we’ve been out and about like crazy, visiting friends and relatives all over southern Britain. It feels like we’ve barely been in Cardiff!

A week after returning to Wales, we headed back east to England. We spent an afternoon and evening with William, Claire, Owen, Alex and Dylan in Wokingham. Owen and Alex were at a scouts day so Morgy and Dylan hung out together at a cool park called the Lookout, which also had an indoor play area similar to that at Techniquest here in Cardiff.

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Back at the house, Morg enjoyed dinner and the trampoline with all his cousins.

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The next day we headed south to meet Estelle at good old Stonehenge, which I last visited when I traveled to the UK with my family in 1991. Morgy was in a real grump unfortunately but we persevered…

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As far as I can tell, they’ve made very little progress on completing this building since I last visited ;) (No doubt Brexit related!)  As always, it was great to catch up with Estelle and see another historically significant site.

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The following weekend, Hefin, Emma and Elis visited en route to Pembrokeshire.  The weather wasn’t too fab so we went up to the Brecon Mountain Railway.  Here’s Auntie Emma and Elis — all aboard!

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Aled and Uncle Hefin:

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And a very cute photo of Morgan and Elis — these two will be (even more) trouble when they grow up!

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Afterwards we headed over to Aberdulais Falls, the National Trust property I wrote about in a post two months ago.  I thought the falls were impressive when we first visited but in even heavier rain they were incredible (albeit an uglier colour).

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Two arduous weeks of work later, we took another holiday.  We hardly needed one so soon after returning from America, both Aled and I were in a “use it or lose it” situation with our annual leave.  We decided to chance the weather and find a holiday let in Tenby, a seaside town in south Pembrokeshire which we’ve both been keen to spend some time in.

Weather was hit or miss but we did get out to some great spots on the sunnier days.  First up was Freshwater East:

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Recent Atlantic hurricanes had washed up a lot of gelatinous creatures:

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Including the very scary Portuguese man of war — yikes!

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After Freshwater East we headed over to Manorbier beach, which can be a really good surf beach.  Sadly for Aled, the beaches in south Pembs were relatively flat throughout the holiday — sob!

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The next day we went to explore Barafundle Beach, purportedly one of the best beaches in Pembrokeshire (and sometimes ranked amongst the best in the world!).  It was a very nice beach indeed… but one of the best in the world?  I don’t know.  I guess it depends what you’re looking for in a beach!  I prefer tropical beaches — and preferably ones with toilets nearby :)

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The beach is a fifteen minute walk from a National Trust parking lot and then down a rather long set of steps.  Pretty stonework though!

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We were joined by Ann and Steve that day, and Morgy had fun exploring rock pools with Taidi.

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That day was warm enough for a dip in the sea.  Of course racing Dadda up and down the beach also kept the hypothermia at bay…

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Look at this amazing coastal scenery!  Have you ever seen such beautiful rock colours so close to the ocean?  I’m not sure I have.  So vibrant!

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Our next outing came two days later to Bosherston Lake.  We walked along (and  across) the lake…

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And then down a path towards the sea to another really fantastic beach named Broadhaven South.  The broad expanse of sand and the rock formation reminded me a lot of a beach we visited several years ago in Golden Bay, New Zealand (I think it’s called Wharariki Beach) — and I really loved it.  I think this walk is my new favourite “hidden gem” here in Wales so would highly recommend this outing if you are ever in south Pembrokeshire.

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Finish your day with dinner at Plantagenets, my favourite restaurant in all of Wales.  The food is superb and Morgan has behaved like an angel both times we have eaten here which has made it even more of a treat.  Perhaps it’s the promise of creme brulee?  I can’t be sure.

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Ann and Steve joined us again for a chilled out day in Tenby itself.  We puttered around town, visited the National Trust Merchant House, and then did some kite flying on South Beach.

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Morgy was a great kite flyer actually — and I was delighted that he didn’t let the kite go..!  Bonus.

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Cute photo of Nanna and Morgy enjoying an afternoon coffee/juice.

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Our last day in Tenby we had pretty terrible weather so we went to Folly Farm, a zoo and fun park north of town.  I’m not always a huge fan of zoos but I think this is one of the best ones I’ve been to in terms of space for the animals.  I mean this lion and his pride had about 100 times the space that the lion at Bristol Zoo has…

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Morgy’s favourites were the penguins:

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Just two more pics — we really packed it in on this holiday…!  En route home, we stopped at the National Botanic Garden of Wales near Carmarthen — a place Aled has been meaning to stop at for years now!  We finally made it and would recommend it if you’re driving by. On a sunny day it would be gorgeous, and a great place to have lunch and stretch your legs.  It has a number of interesting points, but I’ll just show you one pic of this dome-like building which housed various plants (and the cafe!):

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I will leave you with one last pic – since becoming a Dad Aled has turned into a punster… it’s driving me nuts but this photo opp just seemed so fitting…

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If anyone has a cure for excessive pun usage, PLEASE GET IN TOUCH WITH ME URGENTLY.

 

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USA 2017

Well finally I have found some time to post some pics from our trip to New Jersey in September… wow already a month ago…! Time is just flying.

So when we arrived in New Jersey, it looked like they were preparing for imminent nuclear war… just kidding, that’s my Mom cooking us bacon and ensuring no fat got anywhere on the stove top. She cooked us so much delicious food and it was such a nice break for me from thinking about and preparing meals at home in Cardiff. (Thanks Mom!!)

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The visit home was very much about spending time with family and friends, which is exactly what we did.  Here we are with the Vetrano and Krilov families, long time family friends.  Thanks guys for coming up to see us — great to catch up and thanks Hannah for that amazing salted caramel ice cream!

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Then it was over to Western NJ to visit one of my Wellesley friends Hilary — she just gave birth to her second daughter!  Congrats and thanks for having us at this special time!

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Then it was down the shore to visit my Gramma and Uncle Doug — Mom and Dad also joined us down at Seaside Park beach.  I love the beach and I love visiting Gramma and Uncle Doug.

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Aled continues to induct Morgan in the waves…

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In the afternoon we headed down to Island Beach State park which has some really beautiful sand beaches.  It was a bit too windy to enjoy at the point but it was still pretty sand!  There’s Gramma holding down the fort.

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Back at home in Wyckoff, Morgan bonded with his cousins Joey (4.5 years old) and Jack (2.5 years old).   Here they are picking ornamental grapes off the grape vine — a great activity my Dad has invented to keep little hands busy for a good 15 min!

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Annoyingly, the weather for the first week was a little bit cool for the pool but they spent a good few hours by the water table.  Over the two weeks there were a few minor skirmishes between the boys but overall I thought they played really nicely together.

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The boys have completely taken over my old bedroom…!  Hardly recognisable.

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My parents have some kayaks which we put to good use up at Shepherd’s Lake.

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Everyone had a go — Jack and Joey are both really avid paddlers.  Jack was so enthusiastic he was actually tiring my arms out!

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There’s Aunt Karen with Grampa and the boys.

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Hey look, a nice heron:

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More family gatherings followed in NJ — here I am with my sister Karen, cousin-in-laws Rachel and Sonia and Sonia’s daughter Viviana.  (Sorry Chris and Josh, no good pics of the men I’m afraid!!).  Great to see you all!!

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My Mom was taking every chance for a photo opp with all the grand kids.  Here she is with her sister, my Aunt Carolyn and all their grand kids:

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We also managed to get up to my sister’s house – here I am with my brother-in-law Anthony who’s just been promoted to lieutenant in the NY Police Department — congrats and well done!

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In the last few days we saw some touristy sites… Dad, Aled, Morgy and I took the ferry to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.  I loved visiting Ellis Island.  Like many Americans, my background is a mixture of a wide range of nationalities including Danish, Italian, French, Polish, Hungarian and … English!  Apparently some of our earliest ancestors were on one of the first boats out of England in the 1630s.  (Insert sarcastic comment here regarding my love for the UK which is sure to infuriate my husband!)

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So that’s Ellis Island — interesting also because I have immigrated to a few countries by now so can identify with the immigrant experience.  It’s not always easy but it’s been a fascinating adventure…!  Hard to say where my favourites to live were… possibly New Zealand or the Netherlands.  I really did love living in Weesp (a small town near Amsterdam).

Anyways… and then we were off to see good old Lady Liberty.  Hard to believe she was shipped over in pieces from France in 1885 –how incredible!

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And a close up:

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Of course it provided a good opportunity to reflect on the meaning of “liberty” — a phrase I was having a hard time defining other than as a synonym for freedom.  Dictionary definition is: the freedom to live your life the way you want, without interference from the authorities.

Interesting when you consider the implications of the US tax code for American expats… let’s not go there!

Gratuitous photo of Lower Manhattan — I am always amazed at the sheer size of these buildings and the quantity of humans living in such a small space!

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And just before I sign off — a little gem of a place to visit — the Aviation Hall of Fame of New Jersey in Teterboro!  I was surprised to hear of so many people (mostly men I’m afraid!) from New Jersey who were pivotal in aviation history.  It made me proud to be from New Jersey.  And the boys loved climbing in various old aircraft:

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Oh wait!  Aled went to a Yankees game with Anthony, Mom, Jack and Joey.  It was the night before we flew so I stayed home with Morgy to get a good night’s sleep.

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So that’s all folks!  With many thanks to my parents and wider family for such a nice visit.  We miss you and hope to see you over in Wales one of these days!