Well what can I say! It’s an absolutely surreal time! We are at the end of our third week in “lockdown” due to Coronavirus, or Covid-19 as they officially refer to it. Lockdown in the UK means that we are only allowed out of our houses for essentials (food, medicine) and for 30 minutes of exercise each day. Morgy has also been off school during that time while I have been working from home. By miracle, it’s been absolutely beautiful weather so we’ve been able to potter around in the garden and go for our daily walk/cycle ride in the nearby parks.
I will save my thoughts on “life in lockdown” for another post, preferring to use this post as a way to reminisce about “the good old days”, when we could leave our homes and travel by airplane! It’s mind-boggling to think how much life has changed in a matter of a month, and how much I took my own freedoms for granted!
Anyways back to January 2020 — typically one of my least favourite months of the British year. As I had committed to starting my new job on the 20th, I spent a lot of time at the gym, taking countless classes, swimming and using the empty studios to do some ballet. Let me tell you — David Lloyd was regretting letting me in the door — and it was great to have the time to get fit again.
In late Jan, we got out on a sunny weekend for a walk with Sarah, Ed and their boys up by Castle Coch — I think this is called Caerphilly Mountain. Here’s Oliver and Morgy near the top where you can see Ollie doing a great mountain climbing pose!
On 31 Jan 2020, Britain left the European Union, after nearly 4 years of frustrating and tedious negotiations. We voted to remain back in 2016, so this wasn’t a particularly happy moment in our household, but it’s a historical moment so I felt like I should put it on the blog. This was the countdown projected onto the front of 10 Downing Street, where the Prime Minister lives.
A couple of weeks later we made a quick trip out to Pembrokeshire to visit my in-laws who had recently returned from a six week trip to New Zealand to see Gwyn and Nicole and kids in Northland. Here we are down at Porthgain after a lovely Sunday lunch at the Sloop Inn.
A few days later, Morgy and I were on a plane to Florida, whilst Aled remained at home to work on his software development project and look for a contract in Cardiff. My parents had rented a house in Naples for three months and we were joined by my sister and family too. Here’s a pic of the house in a very nice resort/house complex:
There’s always so many pictures to share from our trips to America — I will do my best to post just the highlights! …starting with lizard catching! The boys never tired of catching these little creatures out by the pool:
We spent one afternoon on a pirate ship cruise, which was absolutely hilarious and very well-run.
After all my years on tall ships I was expecting quite a rickety boat, with crappy brown paint peeling off the deck planking…. oh no! This was a fully re-furbished, state of the art pirate ship, equipped with salt water cannons and a comfortable poop deck to keep parents dry. Not to mention a drinks and snack bar for parents too. These are truly twenty-first century pirates!
Once out at sea, the dingy was launched and the kids were taunted by this pirate — who subsequently got drenched by the cannons.
It was funny to watch and the boys absolutely loved it!
Back ashore, we had a nice lunch and got the only picture from the whole trip of allof us together. Getting all three boys to look simultaneously is just about impossible!
Another day, there was a trip to the beautiful Tiger Tail beach, which was covered in millions and millions of shells. This beach can only really be accessed by wading across a river, which was a bit of an adventure with small kids and lots of beach gear. Luckily the tide wasn’t too high so we easily managed it — and because it was in the 80s (my favourite!), we dried off in no time. Here’s Grampa and Jack returning from a shell finding mission.
And a crazy flock of white birds called ibises poking in the sand.
Another highlight of the trip was the fan boat ride down in the Everglades. We did this when we were in Florida last time and it was so awesome we decided to do it again. Here’s Karen, Anthony, Jack and Joey on their fan boat.
And Gramma and Morgy on our fan boat.
It is amazing how quickly these boats fly around these narrow waterways! You’ve got to admire the skills of the drivers, both from a vessel handling and a navigation perspective as all the mangrove passage ways look the same (to the untrained eye)!
In one of the breaks in the open spaces, we spotted this raccoon family out for a morning stroll — so cute!
Afterwards, we went through Everglades National Park to spot some other wildife. What’s a trip to Florida without seeing a crocodile? These creatures look so sinister!
And an anhinga spearing his lunch:
The rest of the trip was spent down at Lowdermilk beach, where lots of digging, swimming and relaxing was done. It’s amazing how long the boys could spend amusing themselves — they loved it and we loved it!
Gramma, Morgy and me
Me and Dad
Karen and Anthony posing in front of an $18 million house in the background – crazy!
There was also a fantastic pool in the complex which we loved:
…where Morgy’s swimming improved a lot despite an ear infection which kept him out of the water for about 3 days near the beginning of the trip.
And then it was off to Orlando for a trip to Sea World. Here’s Gramma and the boys at the penguins (whilst Mommy and Uncle Anthony were on the Manta Ray rollercoaster — LOVED IT!)
And later at the dolphin enclosure:
Here we are at a fantastic dolphin encounter, where we got to pet and feed a dolphin. The temperature had plummetted overnight from 80F to 50F, so we had to put on all the layers we had!
What an amazing experience for the boys — thank you Gramma and Grampa!
I’m sorry if some of you feel it’s immoral or unethical to keep these animals in captivity. I personally come to terms with it by thinking that the number of dolphins at Sea World is a tiny portion of the global dolphin population (several million), and that many dolphins in captivity live longer than their peers in the wild. I also know that getting close to dolphins at Sea World when I was young was a life-changing experience, and believe that educating people about wildlife is the best way to raise awareness of human impact on the wider ecosystems they inhabit. However perhaps after enduring our own Coronavirus captivity, you may see me demonstrating outside Sea World once we’re finally released!
So that takes me up to the end of February 2020. I will leave you with one last photo of the boys at the beach. I think it’s important to expose Morgy to all things American when we are there — irrespective of the nutritional value.
Stay safe everyone! Lots of love from Cardiff in these crazy times.