Monthly Archives: September 2018

New Jersey 2018

We spent the first three weeks of August visiting family and friends in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.  As always, it was great to see everyone, and thanks to my Mom and Dad for having us and for organizing so many nice get-togethers!

First up was dinner with the Krilov family — pictured here are Louis, Zara and Andrea, long time friends of the family.  We missed Hannah who was off in Europe studying wine-making as part of her culinary degree — it sounds awesome!


We also celebrated Uncle Charlie’s 85th birthday:


Here are the boys with Grampa, Uncle Charlie and Uncle Doug:


Morgy and I traveled down to Toms River with Uncle Doug and “Gramma Arizona” for a few days at the beach.  We were pretty lucky with the weather so enjoyed 4 full days of sun at Seaside Park, Island Beach State park and the boardwalk.


Mom, Dad, Jack and Joey joined us for a couple of those days which was really fun.  Morgy loves hanging out with his cousins!  Here are the boys in the water with Dad and Uncle Doug.


The waves were actually quite rough at times as the slope of the beach was quite steep in places.  I should also mention that we spotted two sting rays coming in very close to shore one day which is something I’ve never seen at the Jersey Shore before.  I love rays so was delighted but wasn’t sure if it was a good or a bad sign for the sting rays!

Here’s Gramma Arizona – still going strong at 87!


And here is Uncle Doug who was a keen helper in the quest to make volcano after volcano after volcano:


Later in the afternoons, we headed over to the boardwalk for some games and rides:


Temperatures were hovering just under 90 F plus humidity most days while we were down the shore.   I absolutely love the heat (especially when there’s an ocean or pool nearby) but Aled would have melted instantly!  Morgy was definitely slowing down a little in the heat but we kept them all hydrated and they had plenty of fun as you can see:


Here are Joey, Morgy and Jack in one of their favourite rides:



My cousin Kim came over for a visit one night and we had a good catch up over a game of Phase 10.


Back up in Wyckoff we got organized for the cousins get together.  Aunt Carolyn and my Mom did a super job cooking and preparing for this event.  Morgy loves to bake and we learned lots of great recipes and tricks from Aunt Carolyn, a baker extraordinaire:


It was fab to see so many cousins all at once.  Pictured here are Rachel, me, Morgy, Jack, Anthony, Karen Joey, Eric, Viviana, Chris, Alejandro and Sonia!


No cousins gathering is complete without a game of foosball in the basement.  Here’s Josh training up the next generation!


Then it was off to Mystic Seaport with Mom and Dad.  Here we are in front of the whaling ship Charles W. Morgan:


I’ve been dying to get Morgan on a tall ship to expose him to some maritime history and give him a taste of my previous life as a tall ship sailor.  Hopefully we can go sailing on one soon.  Here we are raising a yard on the Joseph Conrad:


One of my favourite activities at Mystic was building this model boat with Morgan which we managed to bring home to Cardiff in one piece!


I also managed to catch up with an old sailing buddy who lives in New London.  Her name is Krista and she owns a guesthouse in the area (pictured behind her in the photo below).  She works on a research vessel in Antarctica for part of the year too and has been on some incredible adventures.  She’s just gotten married to a nice guy named Phil who I met while I was there — congrats guys and thanks again for having us!


While we were in New London, we visited the USS Nautilus at the submarine museum which we were able to board and tour.  It was the first nuclear submarine ever built.


Back in New Jersey, we practiced our swimming lots in Gramma and Grampa’s pool.   Here is Morgy with Gramma:

gramma and morgy in pool

And with Grampa swimming to “the island”:


During our last week, we went on some great day trips to various attractions in the area including Liberty Science Center:


… which had some fantastic activities for the kids:


…including this crazy climbing frame suspended 30 feet above the ground:


Here we are at Field Station Dinosaurs on another very warm day:


Morgy also loved the budgies at Van Saun park and zoo:


Morgy and I went up to visit Aunt Karen and Uncle Anthony in New York for a movie at the Palisades Park Mall:

movie with jack and joey

And a ride in Jack and Joey’s mustang:


As ever, it was an action-packed trip!  In between the family visits, I managed to catch up with a few old friends from high school and college but there’s never enough to time to see all of them and they’re all getting really busy with their jobs, kids, etc.  Many of them are spread out all over the country by now too.  Here I am with one of my oldest friends from Wyckoff, Avrum Joffe who I got to see for 15 whole minutes (he is a doctor after all!):


Here I am at Hilary Stevens’ house in central New Jersey for a quick visit with her two daughters and husband (as you can see not easy to get all the kids in this photo!):


I also managed to see Lisa Todisco, Laura Tillsley and the Vetrano family but I didn’t manage to get any good pictures of them 🙁  Maybe next time 🙂

Let us not of course forget that Aled was slaving away at work in Cardiff while we were off gallivanting overseas!  Here he is at Bute Park on his cycle ride home sending pics of the dinosaur exhibit over to Morgy via Whatsapp:

aled in bute park

He took full advantage of his freedom and took a trip or two to Pembrokeshire.  Here he is camping at Abermawr beach with his good friend Nic:

nic abermaw

This is Aled’s favourite surf beach which looks beautiful on a sunny day:

aber maw

Aled also managed to surprise Nanna and Taidi at Glan y Mor where honey extraction was in full swing!  I hope we get to help with this process next year.  Here is Taidi with one of Morgy’s cousins from Wokingham, Dylan:

dylan and taidi

So that was August folks!  Actually not completely… for the bank holiday we headed up to North Wales but I will leave that for the next post.  Thanks again to my parents for such a nice trip home!



Welsh summer 2018

Long time no post! Yes it’s been a very busy summer for us and I am only now just getting a chance to catch up on the happenings from June. The summer in Wales has been record-breaking hot and dry — wahoo! I’ve mostly loved it except that the British houses don’t have air conditioning so sleeping at night is actually not that comfortable. But hey, I love the sun and warmth so we bought a fan.  Finally — a real summer!  Hurrah!

So back to early June — I was determined that we would all hike up Pen y fan, the highest peak in the Brecon Beacons (the national park just north of Cardiff).  This was the first time Morgan walked up the mountain all by himself.  It was slow going at times but we got there in the end and there was a celebratory ice cream at the bottom.  Well done Morgy!


Here are Dadda and Morgy at the top – nice view right?


Our next excursion was out to see Nic and Liz just over the border in England.   We met them at a beautiful National Trust property called Tyntesfield.


Here are Nic, Liz and Aled in a very pretty orangerie-type building:


The gardens were absolutely gorgeous:


As always it’s great to catch up with Nic and Liz — hope to do it again soon!

The next day we had planned to meet up with an old friend of mine from Wellesley so we found a hotel in the Cotswolds to spend the night rather than drive back and forth.  Here we are in front of Dumbleton Hall — photo taken by a budding young photographer!


The grounds of the hotel were super idyllic:


And then it was off to Bourton-on-the-Water to see Katherine, her husband and her new son Jacob.  First we headed to the famous Motoring Museum:


And then to my favourite attraction in Bourton, the model village.  It’s a stone replica of Bourton-on-the-Water — such a quirky and creative place!  Love it.


Back in Cardiff, we celebrated Morgan’s graduation from his fabulous nursery, Acorns on Oakfield Street.  Morgan has been here since he was about 2.5 years old and I only have high praise for the nursery.


As always, the staff put on an amazing event, complete with a short play, diplomas, and refreshments for parents and children.  Here is Morgan playing a cow in “What the Ladybird Heard”:


I had scoured Amazon for the simplest cow costume I could find — I felt sorry for the children who were in head-to-toe outfits in the height of the Cardiff heat wave!

And here’s Morgy in his cap and gown.  After the ceremony he confided that he “didn’t like that black dress”.  But that he “did like throwing my hat in the air”.  Seeing my son in a graduation outfit brought tears to my eyes.  Now that I’m a mum it seems I cry at any possible emotional moment.  I can’t imagine what I’ll be like when he graduates university!  (A mess that’s what!)


Closer to home, here is Morgan with our good friend Anurag who is kind enough to let our son help close the roof of his green Mini.  I love this pic XOXO

anurag and morgy

In the middle of the month, we had visitors from California: Jesse and family.  Jesse is an old friend of mine from MIT who I haven’t seen since Aled and I drove across the US in 2007.  Jesse manages a team in London remotely but was able to work from the London office for a couple of months this summer.  It was absolutely fantastic to re-connect with these guys and we had fun visiting Cardiff Castle and Southerndown beach.  To finish off their short Welsh experience, we drove down the lanes to Maen Llwyd, our favourite country pub.  For an American driving a manual on the left and down a single-car lane Jesse did a superb job following us!

jesse davis and fam

A week or so later we were off to Pembrokeshire to visit Nanna and Taidi.  It was black currant time at Glan y Mor, which is my favourite time to help with the fruit processing.  Naturally I am improving the production line every year.  As you can see here I have already replaced older members of staff with quicker, younger models.

currants with taidi

It was a nice day on Saturday so we were up in the field with the Land Rover.

taidi landrover

in the field

Look how happy my husband is in Pembrokeshire!  He is practically jumping for joy to be back near the coast.

aled in field

However by afternoon tea…

nanna tea

…we concluded that Morgan had the chickenpox 🙁


At this point, I was heading into my last 1.5 weeks of work and Morgan and I were 12 days from boarding a plane to America.  Aled was also in the middle of a critical project at work.  Needless to say, I was freaking out a little bit — and I was feeling very, very mad.  If you have been keeping up with our past six months of activity, our last 3 holidays have been sabotaged by various viruses so I was really, REALLY fed up with the travel gods.

Thank goodness for Nanna who came with us to Cardiff to look after Morgan while Aled and I were at work that week.  (A million thanks to Ann for her help at this stressful time!)  And poor old Morgy — I had always intended to get him vaccinated because he’s had sensitive skin and I thought the chickenpox would be bad for him as you can see in this picture below.  I think it looks even worse with his super pale skin 🙁  Thank goodness for that Aveeno oatmeal bath stuff — and we also got our hands on some “chickenpox mousse”.  (Things have moved on since the 80s I think!)


The first two days were pretty terrible but on Tuesday the fever broke and he was in better spirits (thank god!!).  As soon as the volcano drawings started up we knew he was on the mend!


Then it was just a matter of resting up to get well enough to fly while I frantically finished up my last tasks at work.  Here I am on my last day in front of my famous session calendar.  That proved to be a super tool to initiate weekly management reporting and key metrics across the division.  (Not to mention the fun rainbow colours.)  Yay!

dianes last day

Although most of the public health sites said Morgan shouldn’t be contagious, I went to the doctor’s the day before we were supposed to fly to get a letter just in case anyone at Heathrow or Newark stopped us.  Turns out I never needed the letter but hey, better safe than sorry!  Here is Morgy on the plane to New Jersey – phew!


I will post about our trip to the USA soon.  Northern Hemisphere people — I hope you all had a nice summer!  And Southern Hemisphere people, you must be welcoming spring.  The days are definitely getting shorter and colder here.  We’ll need to get a pile of wood soon no doubt!  XOXOXO