Now back in the tropics after what felt in some ways like a pretty hostile Europe, I know an update is loooong overdue!
Going back to the end of March when we arrived in London from NZ, full of enthusiasm because it was pretty darn cold and reminded us of Christmas time (we really missed having a white Christmas). Hmm…that lasted less than 24hrs especially when I realised that unlike Michael who stocked up in NZ, I didn’t have nearly enough layers to keep me warm in the unseasonal Siberian like climate of the UK. As well, it seemed our blood had thinned quite a bit over our 15months of travel.
Saving the day were our delightful hosts – ex neighbours of ours, Antony and Rosemary – who couldn’t have been more helpful and welcoming. Rosemary, who is a child of the war and can’t bring herself to throwing anything away, went through her many drawers of ‘kept just in case’ items and we managed to work out a wardrobe that with the addition of some purchased items, kept me relatively warm – though far from the height of fashion.
Now these lovely old English houses, as Antony and Rosemary’s is, can unfortunately leave a little to be desired on the insulation front. The strong and freezing winds from Siberia headed straight for the rattling windows of our bedroom where it took a lot of convincing ourselves to get out from under the duvet for the first few days, only to go down to the kitchen which faced the same direction. Putting food in the cupboard was just as good as the fridge and we had to warm our cutlery up so we could actually hold it to eat, as well as warm the plates so the food didn’t immediately get cold – not even at the crazy heights we got to in Nepal did we come across a scenario like this.
Our first stint in London was filled with friend catch ups, as well as revisiting ‘favourite London places and things to do.’ Added to the mix for me was also ‘favourite people to teach.’ 😉
Next on the itinerary was a much anticipated visit to Holland for the fields of tulips but more specifically to go to the Keukenhof Gardens which we had visited a couple years before and felt was worth a second go. To fill you in, these are huge, world renowned gardens. A disneyland of every imaginable tulip and are only open for 2 months of the year with the rest of the year dedicated to preparing the grounds.
We were feeling slightly nervous because basically Spring hadn’t yet sprung in Europe. Sadly our fears were true and as lovely as the gardens were, they didn’t even come close to comparing with the extravaganza we knew it could be.
We left the Keukenhof feeling very deflated and didn’t visit them again so….what to do with the remaining 4 days in Holland?
The hyacinths and daffodils had however bloomed and once we got over the absence of tulips the truth is that fields of these growing in the same way they do the tulips – huge blocks of dense colour- were as equally spectacular and had the added bonus of fragrance.
We had the use of bicycles and on the windiest, albeit sunny, day of our entire stay we thought we should cycle through some of the hyacinth and daffodil fields and then make our way to the nearby coast to cycle through the sand dunes. I know, I know, windy and sand dunes are in no way a match made in heaven – what were we thinking?!
Trying a different angle on things, we then did a day trip into Amsterdam. it was a fun filled day with a visit to the newly reopened Rijksmuseum, Dutch fries and mayonnaise, lots of cheese tasting and what would a trip to Amsterdam be without the obligatory wander around their red light district.
Departing Holland our next destination was Switzerland for 3 weeks to stay with my sister and brother-in-law, just outside of Zurich. Not having seen my sister for 1.5years it was a wonderful stay but the weather ensured it was very low key.
We did get out once to go climb a mountain which turned into a bit of an adventure!
After losing our way and finding ourselves in a big farmhouse, with a lovely elderly farmer lady having to direct us. The first problem we encountered was our route being blocked off with an activated electric fence. Neither of us felt confident enough to unhook it so we tried another route and ran into the same problem only this one was on a much larger scale so it was back to number one and Michael was the hero, unhooking it safely.
Marvellous! So now we were in a huge green and muddy, steep hillside field full of dairy cows which felt very authentically Swiss until we saw they were rapidly approaching. Neither of us had a clue what to do in this situation so just started walking in the direction we needed to go and the cows continued their rather daunting ‘stampede’ in our direction. The big bells around their necks donging away, made the experience feel even more Swiss and even more intimidating. It wasn’t long before we had a problem! They had surrounded us, about 8 cows up real close and personal and the rest of the herd circled around from every angle.
My dear husband then had a moment of inspiration deciding to put his arms up, roaring like ‘a scary monster.’ Sounds ridiculous but boy it worked as they backed away enough for us to proceed walking and as long as we kept up with the ‘scary monster’ reenactments, we were able to get up the steep hillside and through the field.
Our destination, after the 2.5hr climb, was supposed to be a gorgeous vista of the Zurich lake with mountains and then the Swiss alps in the background but we had another disappointment due to the hazy weather. We couldn’t see anything.
Returning back to London for another month there was a bit more of the same and even a few days of sunshine. It must be said that getting back to the Western world was a little light relief – no communication issues, no roosters, being able to walk two abreast on the footpath and not worry about falling down an enormous hole into the sewer, no bartering over pricing (I think I like that part though), able to clean our teeth with the tap water, no mosquitoes and other creepy crawlies, no gekko poop everywhere. Yet here we are, back in Bali and loving it as Asia has definitely captured a part of our hearts.
So where in the world should we live…..?! Believe me you’ll know when we do but for a good while yet it seems we will remain nomadic.