Christmas 2013 we went to the North Pole via Sydney!
Well not exactly - we had been planning a UK trip with the children since L was born over 3 years ago. Finally we had an opportunity with money in the bank and the potential for P to get paid time off work over Christmas and New Year to buy the tickets. We almost didn't get to go but that's another story about the stresses of finding the next contract.
We opted for a day and night in Sydney for flight times, prices and convenience staying at the Rydges in the airport opposite the International Departures and making good use of the hotels luggage storage facility.
We wanted to see what Thailand was like so we went to the UK via Chiang Mai getting a super cheap deal with Air Asia (who incidentally we shall not be flying with again any time soon!) 4 nights in Chiang Mai then flights down to Bangkok and direct to Heathrow. Took a while to find the B&B in the dark and rain without the map I forgot to print out - do not rely on your memory for a 4km journey in London nor the hire cars inbuilt GPS!
Drove to Newcastle-Upon-Tyne to stay with Father-in-Law and catch up with the cousins and an old friend in Durham. Quick trip on a local steam train to a mock up North Pole Station complete with Santa, presents, mince pies and sherry! Added a lego brick each to the Durham Cathedral reconstruction in Lego currently underway and took in a quick overpriced robot exhibition. Trip to Edinburgh Castle and Edinburgh Royal Childrens Hospital Accident and Emergency. Christmas dinner with P's brother, partner and their son. Boxing Day we headed to Nottingham to have a buffet lunch with my brother (who I hadn't seen for nearly 5 years) his wife and 3 children. Next day back up to near Manchester (stopping of at Decathlon in Manchester for thermals) to stay with a good friend I hadn't seen for 6 years since they visited us in New Zealand when I was still pregnant with T.
Whirlwind tour at this point as we headed for Cardiff to catch up with Alyson and family of World Travel Family currently travelling the world (only previously met through facebook homeschool groups). We had a loud and exuberant dinner at a local curry house (we had the place to ourselves after another couple left quickly) the children and us parents were excited to meet each other - what can I say!
After Cardiff we headed for Cornwall to see my gran - all the time listening to the wild weather reports which we fortunately seemed to avoid the whole trip. My gran is 86 and still lives on her own in a rented council flat in a sleepy little village near Falmouth in Cornwall. I was born in Truro nearly 40 years ago and I always feel comfortable in this picturesque county of England. New Year at the local bowls club is a tradition for my gran and one we joined in with the children lasting until almost 11pm!
New Year's Day saw us heading for London once more and the same B&B (this time still rich with the smell of fresh paint which I think was worse than the stench of years and years of cigarette smoke). Next stop Singapore, then a 1 hour taxi ride across the border and into Malaysia to stay at the Legoland Hotel next to the Lego Theme Parks. This was the highlight of our holiday and something we had managed to keep secret from the children for months (how I don't know, I nearly let slip a couple of times during the holiday) we just told them we had an awesome surprise that would be better than all the Lego Christmas presents they weren't getting this year!
We had booked a family pirate room and I have to say the hotel is just pure Lego heaven! Whilst you're checking in the kids run around the Lego castle and pirate ship where the moat and ocean are Lego and you can add your bricks to the pillar or build anything you want. The rooms were fabulous, the carpet, the pictures, the lifts were all Lego themed and there is just so much Lego everywhere I cannot guess how many bricks???
The attention to detail was amazing and we can't wait to go back some day and really do the park justice. More on Legoland and the hotel to come in separate posts - too much to cram in this one.
After two nights in Malaysia we crossed the border back into Singapore and waited for our flight with a quick afternoon taxi trip to the Singapore Flyer for a dramatic scenic experience. Returned to Gladstone, Australia (just missing the heatwave) and ready for our next adventure once we kick this cold and jetlag - urrgghhh!!!