UK Summer 2019

So…where has the summer gone…?!  Is it really the first of September?!

Back to June… on the way back from the Lake District we called into Ceri and Angela’s in North Wales for a short visit on the way back down to Cardiff. We took the kids on a hike and I think these photos sum up what it’s like taking 4, 5 and 6 year olds on a hike:

“Come on guys, we’re almost to the top!”


“Don’t bother those sheep!”


“We want a snack!”


“Wait for us!” [Nervous laugh, they’re so far away I couldn’t catch them if I tried!]


Back at the ranch the parents enjoyed some beers with a classic Ceri BBQ of course!  And then back to Cardiff the next morning.

Not long after returning from the Lake District, we welcomed Hefin, Emma and Elis in Cardiff on their way back from Pembrokeshire.  We had a great day out at the Dan yr Ogof National Show Caves up in the Brecon Beacons:


After exploring the caves we headed down to the farm animal play area where we also played some mini golf which was a riot with Morgy and Elis!


Nice view of the gang with the mountains in the background:


As always it was great to see everyone — just wish we all lived closer so we could hang out a bit more! 🙂

Two weekends later, our good friends Eva and Ross were over from Sydney and we combined their visit with some other good friends, Charlotte, Pete, Sophie and Jack who were over from Arizona.  Aled, Charlotte and Eva are childhood friends from Pembrokeshire.

It was a bit rainy which the visitors from Arizona actually loved — it turns out that the summers in Arizona are so unbearably hot that Charlotte and Pete (who work at the University of Arizona) spend nearly every summer away.  For me it was an interesting perspective to see how delighted the British expats were to be in the rain — Sophie and Jack were really fascinated by puddles and rain drops on cars.  Of course Morgy loves jumping in puddles too but I realised that for kids growing up in a desert, a puddle would be a true novelty!  The things I take for granted 😉

Here I am with Eva in the playground by the Penylan library, where we went to keep the kids occupied so the adults could actually have a conversation.


Here’s Ross and Pete:


And Charlotte, Aled, Morgy and Jack… Sophie not in view I’m afraid!


Eva and Ross are embarking on a really exciting adventure — they’ve given up their law jobs and have bought a vineyard in Martinborough, New Zealand!  I am so excited for them and can’t wait to taste the wine they produce.  I also hope to go down for harvest one year and help.  Good luck guys!!  It was so lovely to see you all — thanks for taking the time on the trips back to see us 🙂

There were a couple of odd occurrences in Westville Road this summer which must go in this post.  First was a really crazy storm in late June — the sky turned a very dark purpley gray and then the torrential downpour started.  The water from Kimberley Road comes straight down the alley where our blue car is parked and almost turns into a small river in the back lanes.


Then it started to hail!


As if that wasn’t crazy enough, a week or two later, the boys sent me this picture via Whatsapp:


One of the neighbours had accidentally driven his car up onto the brick wall!  This caused a lot of commotion that evening, including the arrival of a fire engine which was completely unsuccessful in resolving the situation.

…The weather improved as June turned to July and we started to enjoy some very warm and beautiful days in the garden.


In July, the kids were counting down for the end of school.  The British school year goes until about the 3rd week of July and boy were they ready to go on school holidays!  They had one last big project which was to create an underwater scene in a shoe box.  Morgan and I had started this task in early July but when Aled saw some of the examples coming into school he took over the project and made some vast improvements.


Yes that is an anglerfish which has also been wired with a small LED light via a switch at the top.  Aled purports that, in addition to getting a lesson on deep sea creatures, he has also imparted some knowledge on basic circuitry.

In other fun news… Aled and I went out one evening with Paul and Anurag to see Shakespeare’s Midsummer’s Night Dream at Cardiff Castle.

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It was a super fun evening and Paul and Anurag made some amazingly delicious picnic food — fig and goats cheese tart were my fav!  Thanks guys — it was a fab evening!


I realise that much of what I post on this blog are the highlights of what we get up to in our spare time.  I should also note that Aled and I have been working really hard in the weekdays and that we have settled into our neighbourhood more and more.  We’ve made some really good friends with some other parents at Morgan’s school, most notably Sarah and Ed down the road (Oliver’s parents) and Mat and Beth (Zeke’s parents) a few blocks over.  It’s infrequent that we photograph the day to day I’m afraid! (I also realise as I’m writing that we had a lovely visit from Nic and Liz who live over in Wiltshire this summer — but I don’t have any pictures of this…!)

Aled continues to work non-stop on his software idea whilst Morgy is at school (and also late into the evenings once Morgy is in bed).  I am still on contract at the QAA in Gloucester.  I can’t remember the last time I’ve worked so hard as I did in July 2019 — the organisation has been through a massive change and with a very small project team we were working incredibly hard to get all the work done.

Although I was brought in as a business process analyst in January, as the months progressed I was asked to take on the business change lead role too.  My contract has since been extended until late October and my title is now “Programme Manager Membership Services”.  I am splitting the director role with the outgoing director until a new one is appointed.  Despite the challenging circumstances, I am (for the most part) really enjoying the work and the varied nature of my responsibilities.  I have found everyone at the QAA so supportive.  It’s been wonderful to have such nice colleagues and it spurs me on to do as much as I can for the organisation.  Can you believe they even thank me for my work?!  A novelty 🙂

I will take this opportunity to post a picture of the Gloucester Cathedral which I walk past on my way to work (when I take the train).  Although the tiny “city” of Gloucester seems to have fallen on hard times, with a suprising number of homeless in the city centre, the cathedral itself is an endless source of inspiration for me.  I am literally awestruck by the craftsmanship — it’s nearly 1000 years old!  How did they do it?!  I was further delighted to hear that it’s the oldest building in the world with solar panels, installed in 2016.  Fantastic!


In the bigger picture, the British political insanity carries on…


…with Boris Johnson being chosen by Conservative Party members to become our new Prime Minister just as school holidays began.  The fun continues as he’s just suspended Parliament for September ahead of the new Brexit deadline of 31 October 2019.  By now I think everyone is so sick of hearing about this that no one cares anymore what happens.  We just want to hear about something else on the news — like, I don’t know… a real problem?


Anyways, as soon as the school hols began, we headed out to Pembrokeshire to visit Nanna and Taidi.  The weather was a bit cold that first weekend but warmed up for the boys when I went to back to work.  The time was filled with outings to beaches such as Aber Bach:


…where Morgy, Aled and Taidi went hunting for “creepy crawlies”:


… and slippery creatures such as this blenny:


A visit to good old Pentre Ifan, an ancient burial ground just outside of Newport:


There was body-boarding with Dadda down at Newport Sands:


And more beach time with Charlotte and Pete and kids — here are Morgy and Sophie getting buried in the sand!


With such nice weather, there were trips in the Wolseley:


And hikes up Dinas Mountain:


And finally, in our attempts to help clear out the barn, the boys helped put together this swing:


As you can see, it was a great start to Morgy’s summer holidays, and lovely to see Nanna and Taidi.  Look at this boys… so lucky to have all this time together!


….Sometimes I fear we are not preparing Morgy for real life 😉