Norfolk Botanical Gardens

We all had so much fun last Saturday at the annual Monarch Butterfly Tag and Release Day!! After listening to an outdoor presentation from the experts, the kids got to tag the butteries with a sticker and then release them, with the hopes of tracking them on their journey south, around 2500 miles! The Monarch butterflies at this time of year migrate to Mexico, traveling 100 miles per day. Each butterfly and tag came with a certificate to track their special friend. It was such a fun and unique way for kids to learn about butterflies and in such a beautiful setting. We decided to become members of the gardens as I know we will be coming back again and again over the coming years! There is also a wonderful kids area with gardens, education areas and water play park. So much fun on these humid and hot days in Norfolk!



Burg Eltz

Last fall we visited the lovely medieval Eltz Castle in Gemany about a 1.5 hour drive away from us. It is still owned by a branch of the same family that lived there in the 12th century, 33 generations ago and one of the few castles that has not been destroyed in in Rhineland.

There are two different walking options after parking in the designated area. We walked through the forest path going and up the main road which is much shorter on the way back. The castle is open in the warmer months from March - November and have paid guided tours inside. We actually got asked to leave the tour about 5 minutes after it started as Seba made a few sounds... so for sure don't even attempt it with a child under 2!! We did however finish off with some sekt from the mosel region from a local supplier. A nice end to the afternoon!



Weekend in London

In November we headed to London for the US Marine Corps Ball visiting our friends who are stationed at the US Embassy there. We timed it perfectly as we managed to visit the amazing Poppy Memorial at the Tower or London just before it finished. It was especially moving as one of the poppies represents my Great Uncle Leonard Deadman, who was killed during the end of WWII in Italy in 1944. 

Here are some of my favourite shots from the amazing weekend, it really made me fall in love with this AMAZING city all over again!! A special thank you to our wonderful friends Annette and Alan who really spoilt us during our stay. It was truly a wonderful weekend away and so great for our kiddos to meet, play, and eat so well together! :)


Chateau Neercanne

While my amazing friend from the UK was visiting this past week we headed to the gorgeous Chateau Neercanne just south of Maastricht on the boarder of Belgium. It is around a 20 minute drive and there are lovely walks around this area with great views across the country side. You can actually walk to the chateau from Maastricht if you are feeling super energetic. It was a super cold and windy day so we stuck to the closer hikes and sampled the amazing hot chocolates with cream in one of the cafe's in the chateau. It actually has a rather posh restaurant and a smaller more casual but very beautiful cafe for hikers. Dogs as always are welcome too and they will bring water and treats for them. We also got to sample some delicious cookies and nougat slices! It was a great day out and (except for the weather) it felt like we were back in the Louire Valley in France!


Snowy day trip to Durbuy, Belgium

Known as the Smallest town on earth, Durbuy is also one of the prettiest. The old town dates mainly from the 17th century. Its pedestrian streets, winding between the ancient houses, are narrow and cobbled.



Battle of the Bludge 

The Belgian town of Bastogne holds its annual commemoration of World War II’s Battle of the Bulge, with walks and other activities honoring the American soldiers who defended the town from German forces.

American forces defending the town were surrounded by German troops and outnumbered 5-to-1, but they refused to surrender. The town was besieged from Dec. 20 to Dec. 27, 1944, when elements of the U.S. Third Army arrived.

To commemorate the battle, the town each year flashes back to its 1944 self, complete with period vehicles, uniforms and re-enactments include a parade.


Visiting the Dutch cheese markets!


Famous town of Edam!



Aurora, our sweet rescue doggie!



Biking around Limburg, NL


Photography Class in Thorn, The Netherlands

I had such a fun Photography Adventure trip to the white town of Thorn, famous for their delicious pancakes! The picturesque cobble stoned streets with flower boxes, flags and whitewashed houses makes it a photographer's dream.

The history of Thorn dates back to the late 10th century. In times past Thorn was a miniature principality with its own jurisprudence and currency. In 1794, the aristocrats fled with the arrival of the French. The French claimed a tax based on the size of the windows, which the poor population, often living in large houses formerly belonging to wealthy people, could not afford. So they bricked up many windows and tried to cover up their poverty by whitewashing their houses.

Here are some of my favourites from the morning... of course we finsihed with some delicios pancakes, we ate them all up so quickly we ALL forgot to get a photograph!! It just means we will have to go back again.... :)



Photography Class in Stolberg, Germany

My super fun intermediate Photography Adventures Class visited the historic and ancient town of Stolberg. The city has mining routes that date back to the year 794 and the impressive castle dates back to the 12th Century. It was lovely to walk around the narrow streets with the half timbered Renaissance style 15th century houses to the old market place, Finkenberg Church and Stolberg Castle.

We were luckly enough to have a dusting of snow dotted along the tiled roof tops which was perfect for photographing this quaint town. Here are some my favourite from our morning class. I can't wait to see what all the students captured too!

Walking along Burgstrasse to the alter markt and castle.

Faith finding the perfect door... how cute?!!

The river Vichtbach running through the town.

View of Stolberg Castle from the cobbled back streets.

Move views of the majestic castle from Finkenberg Church.

Us girls enjoying our photography time!

Entrance to the castle and museum.

Views below of the medieval timber framed dwellings from the castle walls.

Within the castle entrance...

.. the winding path leading from the castle and along the tall castle walls.

A view of the castle walls and steps up to the castle entrance. 


Antwerpen, Belgium

Antwerpen is a hidden gem of day trips only an hour and a half away! I highly recommend driving there and then jumping onto your bikes to see all the sites, sounds and tastes this Flemish city has to offer. It has medieval streets, Renaissance monuments, bustling coffee shops, stylish shops, it is THE center of the diamond trade and has the world's fifth-largest port.

We arrived in the rain but pushed on through on the bikes and enjoyed a pleasant and sunny day, great food, chocolate & of course yummy waffles with lashings of warm Belgium chocolate!

Daddy & Maricela setting off on their bike & piccolo with Aurora.

What a great idea... with a side of Belgium chocolate too please!

Biking into the beautiful Handschoen Market Square.

Antwerp's "Great Market" square is a popular attraction in the heart of the old city.

The kids taking a bike break!

One of the boat yards were we stopped for our picnic lunch...

The tower of Cathedral of Our Lady and another local church in the heart of the city.

Biking past the bustling cafes & boutiques down one of the many side streets.

Passing the National Bank biking along the tram lines.

Bustling cross walks at the edge of the shopping district.

I loved seeing all the old fasioned trams, it was like stepping back in time.

Seba and I biking around after a rain shower!

The impressive and majestic Cathedral of our Lady towering over the medieval part of the town.

The many flags flying on the townhall in the Grote Markt.

Flemish architecture in the Grote Markt.

The main square bustling with tourists and locals enjoy one of the many one of many outdoor "terrasjes".

Everyone is smile... why? Because we are about to eat Belgium waffles with fresh whipped cream and hot drippings of local chocolate! YUM... a perfect end to a great day out!


Father's Day at Schloss Burg

We had a wonderful day trip to a German castle in the VW campervan to celebrate Daddy's Day!! Schloss Burg dates back to the 12th Century, built within a mighty fortress. Full of history and battles this wonderful rebuilt castle is like travelling back in time to the Middle Ages.

You can experience first hand how life used to be within the awe-inspiring castle walls especially when the castle holds tournaments and medieval festivals. We were lucky enough to visit during one of these events for Father's Day weekend! Here is a link to the castle's home page where you can check out yearly events and activites:

Arriving at the bustling entrance to Schloss Burg

Various food stalls outside the castle but within the fortifications

Maricela and Daddy enjoying some archery

Maricela enjoying all the fun kid's activities

Found these trouble markers in a cage.... nothing much changes here!!

Seba enjoying some German snacks

A great family day out and even Aurora was welcome everywhere! You have to love Germany!


Ghent and Lier, Belgium

A few weeks ago we visited the beautiful towns of Ghent and Lier in Belgium for a fun packed weekend. We spent two nights in a cabin just outside Ghent and biked into the town to see all the sites! We just loved the city of Ghent, a real gem of Flanders, which has managed to preserve its medieval power while keeping up with the times. In the middle ages it became one of the largest and richest cities of northern Europe and much of the city's medieval architecture remains intact and is remarkably well preserved and restored.

One of the highlights of the city is the 12th Century Gravensteen Castle. The beautifully restored castle is still partly surrounded by a moat and is now a museum with various torture devices that were historically used in Ghent. You can also walk up to the look out tower and have great views of the city below.

The main square of the town was bustling with locals of all ages enjoying the glorious weather along the river banks of the Leie. We joined right along with them devouring delicious local ice-cream while we rested our tired legs before heading back to the campground.

On our way back home on the Sunday we stopped off for a few hours to bike around the small but lovely town of Lier. The market place is surrounded by several beautiful old guild houses and in the center of the square stands the rococo town hall with the belfry tower from 1369. The Cornelius tower, a keep of Lier's fourteenth century city fortifications, shows astronomer and clock maker Louis Zimmer famous Jubileey Clock, which is displayed on the front of the tower. It consists of 12 clocks encircling a central one with 57 dials. These clocks show the times on all continents, phases of the moons, times of tides, seasons, calendar dates, months, globe, weeks, solar cycle, zodiac, equation of time and metonic cycle.

Biking outside of the city center we visited one of the most beautiful and largest 13th century beguinages of Belgium. Beguinages were founded in most medieval cities of the low countries at the time of the crusades. A lot of women had lost their husbands and wanted to live in protected communities. In the beguinages, the ladies could live like nuns or sisters, without having to make vows. Like most other beguinages we have visited in Belgium, the beguinage of Lier is a quiet and peaceful place, with narrow cobblestone streets that take you back to old times past.

First night cooking in the rented cabin just outside Ghent. 

Graslei canal houses in historical Ghent.

The bustling high streets of Ghent.

Biking along street after street of stunning town houses.

Yummy Belgian beers for sale.

Andres and Maricela biking past the Belfry, the proudest symbol of the city's independence.

he Belfry is the proudest symbol of the city’s independence. - See more at:

The Belfry is the proudest symbol of the city’s independence.
The Cloth Hall was built onto the side of the Belfry.

- See more at:

Outside the 12th Century Gravensteen Castle.

Andres taking a photo into the castle entranceway.

Walking around the walls of the castle.

Fantastic views from the lookout tower.

One of the torture chambers in the castle.

Views from the arrow slits.

Peaceful view of the castle from the moat.

Biking around the castle making sure to avoid the many trams.

Watching the boats cruising the riverways and admiring the beautiful view.

Carriage rides of the town.

A nice gent sharing a beer with a lady canoeing along the canal.

Biking to the Belfry of Ghent and the Saint Nicholas' Church.

Biking over one of the city's many romantic canals bridges.

The main market square of Lier.

Biking with Seba around the beautiful and peaceful Beguinage.

Daddy, Maricela and Seba enjoying the biking.

Gorgeous cobblestone streets of the Beguinage.

The 17th century Beguinage of Lier and church.

Biking back from the beguinage towards the park to the main part of the town.

The beautiful Cornelius clock tower with its 12 dials.


The Long Way Up - Part II

The second part of our Spain to the Netherlands road trip took us across the wine region of France and into Belgium. Our first destination in France was outside of Bordeaux where we stopped off for the day at the idyllic World Heritage town of Saint-Émilion. The Romans planted vineyards here in the 2nd century and today Saint-Émilion is one of the principal red wine areas of Bordeaux. With it's fascinating Romanesque churches, cobbled steets with wine tasting rooms and ancient ruins stretching all along steep and narrow streets, this charming village is a slice of heaven.

Arriving in the beautiful historic town of Saint-Émilion.

One of the many delicious coffee shops in Saint-Émilion.

Maricela and Seba enjoying the beautiful cobble stoned streets.

Views looking over the town... thanks to Andres for balancing up on a high wall to get this shot!

The ruins of a Dominican convent surrounded by vineyards greet you at one of the main entrances. This huge wall with the remains of three vaults was abandoned after the 100 Years War around 1,200.

Ancient ruins, church and homes near one of the entrances to the town.

Restaurants, coffee shops and wine tasting rooms on the way down to the King's Tower.

The stunning Collegiate Cloisters of Saint-Émilion were built shortly after Saint Emilion died in 767 and in the 14th century it was rebuild and expanded. Here you can see the beautiful and peaceful inner courtyard with its arcades.

A panoramic view of the plaza and the beautifully intact 13th century Castel Daou Rey (King's Tower), used like a stronghold community until the end of the 16th, then the town hall until the 17th century.

Winding back streets and shuttered windows leading out of the town.

Views of Castel Daou Rey through the steep cobbled back streets.

View of the Monolith Church steeple from a coffee shop we stopped at before heading on to the campsite.

Cooking dinner for the night at one of the many campgrounds we stayed at during the trip.

Later in the day we also stopped off at Château d'Azay-le-Rideau, located in the tiny town of Azay-le-Rideau in the Loire valley. The 16th century picturesque château is set on an island in the middle of the Indre river and considered one of the foremost examples of early French renaissance architecture.

The gorgeous quaint town of Azay-le-Rideau leading to the gates of the château.

Views of the stunning 16th century Château d'Azay-le-Rideau and moat.

Our next port of call was the city of Auxerre which has a fascinating history dating back to the 1st century AD when it was a Gallo-Roman centre, later becoming the seat of a bishop and a provincial capital of the Roman Empire. Up until recently, Auxerre was one of the most prosperous cities in the country, I wish we could have spent a little more time exploring this gem of a town.

The Clock Tower, located in the Old Town.

Cathedral of St. Étienne (11th–16th centuries) built in Gothic style, renowned for its three doorways with remarkable bas-reliefs.

View of the old town and cathedral on the Yonne River.

Another quick stop off took us to the quaint village of Chablis which gives its name to one of the most famous French white wines.

The local church and views of the world famous Chardonnay grape fields.

Driving the VW campervan through the village of Chablis.

Andres timed the day of our road trip perfectly visiting amazing Epernay, the heart of the Champagne region, for Mother's Day (in this part of Europe). Located in the centre of the vast Champagne wine-region, the town of Epernay is considered to be Champagne's Capital. We stopped off to see the large Classical and Renaissance-style private mansions by walking along the Avenue de Champagne which today house prestigious Champagne Houses. Beneath these houses are over 100km of underground passages, reserved solely for storing Champagne!

The Champagne house of the world renowned Dom Perignon.

Walking along the Avenue de Champagne on Mother's Day.

Walking past the spectacular gated houses of Moët & Chandon Champagne.

The famous Avenue de Champagne.

A view of the vineyards from the campervan driving out of Epernay.

Our last stop before driving home was to the famous French city of Reims. Reims played a prominent ceremonial role in French monarchical history as the traditional site of the crowning of the kings of France in the Cathedral of Reims.

The fascinating history of Reims Cathedral.

Words can't express the unbelievable feeling of incredible history as you walk the aisles of this Cathedral. Goose bumps were an understatement...

Visible shrapnel damage from the First World War.

The Royal Palace of Reims and Louis XV statue.


The Long Way Up - Part 1

My husband had the crazy but fun idea of driving the VW Campervan from our home in the Netherlands to our new property in Spain and back again! The kids and I just joined the hubby for the way back part as we flew to Portugal for a few days and enjoyed some much needed beach time! Here are the places we stopped off at during the Spain portion of our "The Long Way Up"!

The road map of our long five day driving route through Spain, France, Belgium and finally the Netherlands.

Our first stop was driving into the heart of the beautiful city of Caceres where the walled old town contain the medieval part of the city which showed absolutely no signs of modernity. The origins of Cáceres date back to prehistoric times, around 25,000 BC. Beautifully preserved buildings, churches and castle remains from the medieval times, the Roman occupation, Moorish occupation and the Golden age of Jewish culture in Spain. The old town (Ciudad Monumental) still has its ancient walls; this part of town is also well known for its multitude of storks' nests which Maricela loved pointing out to us.

Maricela and Daddy walking through the old cobbled streets of Caceres.

Maricela and Seba taking a break from lots of walking!

Maricela was so excited to see her family name written everywhere!

Walking along the many beautiful back streets of the old town.

Making our way back to the campervan to head to the campsite for the first night.

Our next stop on day two was the ancient University town of Salamanca (one of the oldest Universities in Europe). The stunning city's historic centre has impressive Romanesque, Gothic, Moorish, Renaissance and Baroque monuments. The Cathedral towers over the city and the Plaza Mayor, with its galleries and arcades, is wonderfully impressive!

Seba happy to set off on day two of our road trip adventures...

Driving towards to gorgeous city of Salamanca.

The impressive Plaza Mayor, unfortunately they were just setting up for an event so I only managed to capture a small part of this gorgeous plaza.

The stunning 16th Century Salamanca Cathedral.

On day three we drove on to the small and cozy costal city of San Sebastián in northern Basque country. San Sebastián boasts one of the best in-city beaches in Europe, you can literally sunbathe, swim and even surf right next to major historical buildings and churches. Renowned for its Basque cuisine it boasts two of the world's top ten restaurant and the city has the most Michelin stars per square foot. We all sampled and loved the delicious cooking highlights of the city, tasty snacks similar to tapas called pintxos, in the Old Quarter.

The town hall on the edge of the promenade.

La Concha Beach, on the edge of the historic old town.

Sebastián enjoying San Sebastián!

Many famous pintxos bars along the back streets of the old town.

Seba choosing his pintxos... delicious!

Maricela and Seba enjoying the sites and attractions..

Saying farewell to this beautiful city as the sun went down... and onto our next part of the trip through France!


Windmills of Kinderdijk

Kinderdijk is truly a Dutch icon and a perfect location, on a nice sunny day, for a walk along the river banks or leisurely bike ride to the largest collection of nineteen authentic windmills built in the 1700's. Kinderdijk is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and also has a great living museum where you can personally experience how a windmill works, meet a real-life miller, and explore the mill. It was a great picnic stop off for a few hours on the way back from southern Holland.... only two hours from our home.


Keukenhof, Holland

Keukenhof, also known as the Garden of Europe, is the world's largest flower garden, open from mid-March to mid-May. It is around a 3 our drive to southern Holland and well worth the trip for a day or weekend.

The park features a windmill, a variety of different styles including an English landscape garden with winding paths and unexpected see-through points and even a non-traditional Japanese country garden. Of course the park is most famous for the 7 million flower bulbs which cover an area of 79 acres, and that is a LOT of tulips!

What you wont find in the park are the picture perfect rows upon rows of endless tulips fields, these can be seen driving around the area though on local farmer's lands. This for us was the highlight of the area and especially for Maricela, running up and down the fields amongst the flowers... and of course more importantly no tourists. That is one of the great advantages of driving in the camper van, we stopped off along our travels to enjoy places we passed along the way. The tea, coffee and biscuit stops made the trip well worth the drive and a perfect family weekend away!


Jerez de la Frontera, Spain

About an hour drive from Vejer de la Frontera is another Frontera called Jerez. It is known as the world capital of sherry wine and a center of horsemanship and flamenco dancing. We lucky enough to meet up with my Mum and Robert for the day and enjoy adventuring around the city. My Mum bought Marciela an adorable local flameco dress which she insisted on wearing the entire day!

Our first stop was walking to the enchanting Cathedral of San Salvador, built in the 17th century. It is a mix of Gothic, Baroque and Neo classicist style and overlooked some restaurant and cafes. Next we walked to the Alcazar of Jerez which dates back to the 11th Century. It has not only lots to explore inside but also great views of the city.

With the discovery of America and the conquest of Granada, in 1492, Jerez became one of the most prosperous cities of Andalusia through trade and its close location to the ports of Seville and Cádiz. The old town of the city shows what were once elegant buildings of times past, now delapitated, many fallen into ruins. It was so much fun to wander the narrow streets imagining what it was like hundreds of years ago.

Here are some favouites from this super fun day trip....