27 April-2 May: Our final family time this spring in Sussex

Author: Mr A

Location: Brighton, Hastings and Newhaven Ferry Port, East Sussex, UK

Saturday-Sunday: Before heading to Continental Europe, we spent our final weekend in Brighton with Catherine’s sister Helen and her family. London-on-Sea, as it is jokingly known locally, served up its usual eclectic way with everything from fine dining to a wonderful greasy spoon cafe for brunch.

Feeling a little neater after some haircuts
Catherine, Helen and Isabel – just the girls
Just a small brunch to start Sunday!
Miss Isabel ready to party – Catherine bravely accompanied her to a 5th birthday celebration, despite the promise of party balloons ?

Then it was time to head along the coast to Hastings and Catherine’s mum, Jenny.

Monday: Catherine and Jenny visited her nearly 97 year old grandma, good genes on that side of the family at least!

Jenny looking radiant
96 years young, Jean enjoying the sunshine
Jean will be 97 in a few weeks’ time – this may be her first selfie!

A few more lovely home cooked meals from Jenny, and a chance to get some last minute tasks ticked off before we head over the English Channel on Thursday.

Young Marmalade enjoyed the mouse on a stick we bought for him

Tuesday: Jenny took us over to Hastings Country Park for a short walk and some fresh air, another place of great memories for Catherine.

Views over the gorse flowers across the country
Jenny heading through the kissing gate…

The sun breaks through the cloud…team photo
A lovely woodland walk on our return circuit
More bluebells adorn the woodland here

A mother-daughter shot to complete the walk

Later in the day, Catherine took me on her and her sister’s favourite after school activity, a ride down to the beach and along the coast. It was a cold day, but the sun shone and Hastings showed us her good side.

Warming up in a sheltered spot on Hastings Pier
Yes, there is sand (at low tide) in Hastings!
Matching bikes and huts
Mingling with the local wildlife on the pier…odd….
Riding the bike path along to Bexhill-On-Sea

It’s an interesting mix here of demographics, with everyone from a scattering of celebrities, and working class housing estates. If feels an authentic town, with the largest beach based fishing fleet in Europe still bringing in the delicious fish and cockles that we just had to sample.

So many memories from Catherine, shared with me, and it does draw you even closer together understanding someone’s childhood, as I had shown her mine in Kettering.

Wednesday: Now it’s our last day in the UK, with a ferry across to France early tomorrow. I few nerves on my part as I keep running through all the things we need to have sorted. Catherine as ever the calm one, thank goodness.

We are parked up at Newhaven Ferry Port for the night. Little Truffy is dwarfed next to his bigger HGV cousins all waiting for the 9am ride across the Channel to Dieppe. What adventures await us in France?

6-11 April: Our UK meanderings continue

Author: Mr A

Location: Brighton, Portsmouth, Milton Keynes & Kettering, UK (phew!)

Friday-Sunday: Brighton is one of our favourite UK towns to visit, and not only because that’s where Catherine’s sister and family live. We love the quirky shops, the pubs, the long cycle paths along the seafront. It just feels vibrant and eclectic. It was also where we were going to spend our first night in Truffy the Truck, our new home on wheels. We had pre-booked a site and turned up with some trepidation for our first experience of “camping” in the UK. Wow…what a find. This place was great with huge sites, spotless facilities that even were centrally heated! Luxury…

Spot our little home 😉
Cycling past Brighton pier

We got a few things wrong though and found our feet higher than our heads when settling down in the drop down bed. No air suspension to adjust on this baby. We did however get the hot water and heating working, apparently more than some folk manage on their first encounter with a Hymer motorhome.

The weekend sped past with wonderful times hanging out with Helen and Stu and their oh so energetic kids. How these guys juggle jobs and raising these two little bundles of joy I have no idea. I was exhausted just watching breakfast unfold!

We cycled, we ran for buses, we ate our way though fabulous dinners, we laughed and we talked. As an only child these guys are the nearest I have to experiencing the joy that a good relationship with a brother or sister can bring.

Curry night with Stu and Helen
Drinks down the local pub
Cycling along the seafront – Helen and Catherine with Miss Izzy
Wild Isabel
Pensive Elliot looking for sharks
Happy days!
Adorable Miss 5
Our first artwork – courtesy of Miss Isabel, an artist’s impression of Truffy – L-R Stuart (top left), Helen, Mr A (with cap on), Elliot looking out of the window, Mrs A and Isabel. Complete with rabbit and sunshine.

Monday: All too soon we were off along the south coast to Portsmouth and a flying visit to Catherine’s half sister Elinor and her family.

Young Nelson clambering for cuddles
Miss Vivienne who simply demands cuddles
William showing Auntie C his toys
Edward munching on breakfast
Catherine and Elle

Tuesday-Wednesday: Portsmouth gets put on the list for “must come back and explore”, as we literally stopped by for dinner before pointing Truffy north and heading up to see my daughters and grandkids in Milton Keynes. We congregated in the local pub and had a lovely catch up before retiring to the car park for an overnight stay.

Just a small meal for Mr A!
Grandson Luke enjoyed his burger dinner too

There are certainly benefits to being in a fairly stubby little 6m motorhome. We also used the opportunity of being close to the huge retail centres in Milton Keynes to do some power shopping in our bid to get Truffy fully functioning as our second home on wheels. IKEA bless you for all those good value products!

We had a quick visit to the local lake, which to Catherine and I felt like we had been teleported to Siberia, with a cruel wind blowing across the water.

Cousins – will nobody look at the camera? L-R James, Lilly, Jacob and Luke

Grandson James doesn’t seem to feel the cold as he plays on the slide

We retired to behind the somewhat expansive glass of Truffy and dashed off to our next stop in this whistle-stop tour. My home town of Kettering, and the ever warm welcome of my long term friends Stuart and Karen. These guys have chosen to stay in the town they also grew up in, and increasingly unusual phenomena, but their extended family has mostly done the same, so its a strong and supportive community they are enjoying.

Thursday: A lunch had been organised to bring together my family still living in the town as well, cousins and their families. It was great to see them, and not for a funeral.

Family gathering. L-R: Derek, Diane, Derry, Lisa, Diane, Robert, Mr A

My last few visits have always been tinged by the sadness of my parents passing, Finally, a short trip to see Stuart and Karen’s daughter Laura, who had stayed with us in Australia. To see her so happy as a mum of 10 months, and getting married to the guy she met on when travelling, this was a joy for us.

Gorgeous baby Oliver – 10 months old today
Karen and Catherine
The boys: Mark, Oliver and Stuart
Stuart, Laura and Mrs A

All of our lives go through ups and downs, and to catch so many people on the up was just brilliant. It’s been a hectic 10 days since we landed, but already we have so many memories tucked away of seeing friends and family, and getting to know our new home that is going to take us on so many new adventures.

Our time in Kettering concluded with a curry in town…our third in a week!

Day 115-117: 21-23 September – (UK) Quality time in East Sussex with family

Author: Mrs A

Thursday 21 September

Location: Hastings

Distance walked: 3 km

I joined mum and her husband Barry in a couple of games of ten pin bowling – the first time I have been in over 20 years! Unsurprisingly I was slightly out of practice in the first game, coming second place to mum, but somehow found my mojo in the second game, with four spares and a strike taking me to the lead!

The rain closed in for the afternoon, so mum and I disappeared into the loft to try to sort through some of the many things from my childhood still left up there. Hours disappeared as I read my way through many letters received from friends in our teenage years, laughing lots at the things we said to each other about our trials and tribulations. I found lots of old photos and other goodies too, and much left to look at in future visits.

Friday 22 September

Location: Brighton

Distance walked: 10 km

After packing up my bags, mum and I drove over to Brighton to meet my sister Helen and niece Isabel after their dancing class. It was a stunning day, a crisp autumnal 17 degrees with blue skies.

We headed down to the seafront so Isabel could have a play at the park down there.

I had to buy an ice cream in Izzy’s shop – she assured me it was vegan:

We had a delicious lunch at Jamie Oliver’s Italian restaurant, before returning to collect Elliot from school and celebrate Mum’s birthday with cake and presents.

Saturday 23 September

Location: Brighton

Distance walked: 9 km

A morning of playing with Elliot and Isabel was followed by some sister time. Stu kindly looked after the children for the afternoon, freeing Helen and I to head into Brighton for some shopping. Its great how something so simple as shopping with your sister can be so special when you have at least 12 months between shops. I’m not sure we had the opportunity when I was here last. We even found a shop with our initials, so had to take a photo!

We had a successful trip, picking up a couple of things each, before returning home via the Royal Pavillion gardens in the late afternoon sun.

Stu is out tonight with a couple of friends, so Helen and I will be responsible for bed time and story reading, before my last opportunity for proper fish and chips for dinner. Final morning in Brighton tomorrow before I head off to Gatwick Airport, flying to Dubai and eventually Perth….Mr A, I’m nearly on my way! ❤️

Days 111-113 : 17-19 September – (UK) Down to Sussex by the sea

Author: Mrs A

From: London to Brighton and then Hastings

Sunday 17 September

Distance walked: Measly 3km!

Sunday morning in London saw Helen and I enjoying another cooked breakfast to see us on our way, as we washed the sheets and towels, took out the rubbish and generally turned Owen’s apartment back into a pre Slater-Sister residence. We decided to head back down to the pool for a final dip, sauna and steam before heading off to Victoria Station and catching the train down to Brighton.

Helen’s fiancé Stu met us at the train station, along with my nephew and niece, Elliot and Isabel, and took us back to their home. Elliot wasted no time advising me that I was staying in his bedroom, while Isabel was busy ensuring I became well acquainted with all her princesses and toys in her room.

Soon it was bedtime for the kids, and time for me to head out to meet Claire, a friend since uni days – around 25 years – gee we are getting old! We tried for a pub dinner but nobody was serving, so opted for a local Italian and a bottle of Chianti. A great catch up and laughs had as always. It may be a long while between drinks, but it sure never feels like it!

Monday 18 September

Distance walked: 4.5km

I was woken bright and early by an excited nephew and niece, getting ready to head off to pre-school and school. I observed Helen and Stu whirlwind around and get themselves ready for work and the kids fed and dressed and out of the front door. I have no idea how they manage it every day – it is organised chaos, but seems to work. I had to go back to bed for a nap after they’d gone!

I caught the train along the coast to Hastings, met by post-art class mum at the station around midday. I was pleased I brought along my winter clothes, as it was no warmer than about 14 degrees centigrade, with looming black clouds in the sky. Mum and I went for toasted panninis for lunch, only emerging once the hail and rain was easing.

We did a little shopping and then headed back home for a relaxing rest of the day.

Tuesday 19 September

Distance walked: 5.5km

A bright sunny day greeted us, so mum and I decided a walk was in order. We drove into Hastings and strolled along to Hastings Old Town.

George Street was still full of flowers, despite the autumnal day, and as always the pubs brought back good memories of days gone by. It was a bit too early for a pint in the Pump House!


We strolled up through All Saints Street before turning and walking along the seafront to the pier for a cup of tea.

After a bite for lunch we decided to head over to Tusker House, the home where my 95 year old grandma resides. It was great to surprise her sitting in her chair, and see her face light up and say “Ooh, it’s Catherine from Orstralia!” in her terrible Australian accent. So pleased she still knows who I am. The conversation was a little repetitive, but I think she enjoyed our visit…probably long forgotten now. Lots of the other dementia patients all seemed to think I was one of their relatives too – at one point it was like day of the zombies with several shuffling oldies trying to hold my hand or stroke my hair! Arghhh!

Mum and I needed a vodka on our return home to recover.

A relaxing evening ahead with pork ribs for dinner.