Europe road trip week 4: Italy and France

As we began week 4 of our month travelling in Europe, there was no denying that we were on our way home. We were heading north through Italy having driven in a big (slightly wonky) horseshoe through the continent.

We had mixed feelings. We were looking forward to getting our baby son home to his own house and bed (and not having to share a room with him!): we hoped being home would help him sleep as some nights while we were away he woke up almost every hour. (He finally started sleeping through a couple of nights after we got back, at almost six months old *air punch*).

But I felt quite overwhelmed with how good the experience of us travelling together as a family had been. It had been good, as in fun, and we’d seen fascinating places, and it had been good for all of our relationships with each other.

It had made us look at things, and plan changes for the better and I didn’t want us to forget these resolutions as we returned to normal life. So I was sad about our month away coming to an end, because I didn’t want the memory-making to stop and I didn’t want us to go back to old habits when all the distractions of home life were to hand.

Lanzo d’Intelvi, northern Italy

We used AirBnB again to book our accommodation in this mountain town just at the Swiss border, between Lake Lugano and Lake Como.

The drive to it was hair-raising: the sharpest and steepest hairpin turns either of us had ever experienced and streets so narrow we had to tuck in our car’s wing mirrors to get through.

But the views were remarkable. We had the top floor of a large family home, with a balcony looking onto layers of mountains. Our host hardly spoke any English, and us hardly any Italian, but we got by using gestures, an iPhone and ready smiles.

AirBnB apartment, Lanzo d'Intelvi, near Lake Como, Italy | Angel In The North

We needed to go to the shop for a few essentials (= wine) but had found the drive there so stressful we were reluctant to get back in the car again. After a few deep breaths we plucked up the courage, and when we knew what to expect it didn’t seem quite as bad. By the end of our three nights there we’d actually grown quite used to the roads and very fond of our temporary home.

Lake Como, Italy

One of our two days in Lanzo d’Intelvi was taken up with trying to buy a new car tyre (don’t ask why it took a full day…). But on the second day we drove down the mountainside to the iconic Lake Como.

As we’d found elsewhere in Europe, lakes don’t seem as accessible as they usually are in Britain. At Lake Como, we found parking sparse and the lakeside road mostly terrifying. There were few points you could just walk along the side of the lake and where you could it was usually on the road without a pavement. No one else seemed to be walking and it certainly wasn’t something we were prepared to do with a baby.

We eventually found a place to park at Lenno, and despite there being no signposts for the billions of tourists who must come to these shores (this seemed par for the course in Italy) found the port from which you could catch a boat to Lake Como’s main sights.

Most people at least want to see Villa del Balbianello, Villa Carlotta and Bellagio. We didn’t have much time so just took a return trip to Bellagio. It was quite disappointing, though I don’t know why I didn’t expect it to be like it was: some remarkable architecture but busy and commercial. We enjoyed the boat ride though :)

Travelling with a baby: Lake Como, Italy | Angel In The North Travelling with a baby: Lake Como, Italy | Angel In The North Bellagio, Lake Como, Italy | Angel In The North

The next day we left Italy and passed through more incredible scenery, crossing the Alps again and even driving through the famous tunnel under Mont Blanc (which they charge you €44 to do, by the way).

Travelling for a month in Europe with a baby: crossing the Alps | Angel In The North Travelling for a month in Europe with a baby: crossing the Alps and Mont Blanc tunnel | Angel In The North

Annecy, France

For a while now we’ve harboured a dream of living in France, probably when we’re a few years older.

It’s a country we love and feel very comfortable in; we’re not sure why, though my being able to speak at least some of the language helps. We were interested to see whether any of the other countries we visited on our month in Europe made us feel the same. They didn’t.

As we neared France we were excited to get back. When we crossed the border, it felt like we’d come home.

I didn’t know too much about Annecy, but I’d read this post on World of Wanderlust that described it as the “cutest” town in France.

Honestly, Annecy was probably my favourite place of the whole trip, and if you think about all the places we’ve been that’s quite an achievement. Strasbourg in France, Salzburg in Austria, Ljubljana in Slovenia, Croatia’s national parks, Rome and Florence in Italy. I loved them all but Annecy beat them, for me.

Why? There’s its stunning glacier-green lake, just on the edge of the town centre but with a dramatic mountainous backdrop. Its centre is extremely pretty, with the Thiou River running through and a medieval castle. It was alive with an antiques, vintage and flea market on the first day we were there, and stalls selling local food and fresh-from-the-field produce on the second day. It has good shops and plenty of nice-looking places to eat. It’s a hub for artists and has a slightly bohemian vibe.

It was also about how the city felt and how it made me feel. There is a big expanse of grass by the lake, where families and friends sat in the sun with picnics. Snaking between the grass, wide paths were used by cyclists, rollerbladers and people out for a stroll. On the water, people dived from hired boats and went swimming. A man paddled along the Canal du Vassé, and out onto Lake Annecy, on his surfboard. The city is cool. It may be that most people were on holiday, but it looked like a city that makes people happy, free and fulfilled.

I want to live there.

Travelling for a month in Europe with a baby: Annecy, France | Angel In The North Travelling for a month in Europe with a baby: Annecy, France | Angel In The North Travelling for a month in Europe with a baby: Annecy, France | Angel In The North Travelling for a month in Europe with a baby: Annecy, France | Angel In The North Travelling for a month in Europe with a baby: Annecy, France | Angel In The North Travelling for a month in Europe with a baby: Annecy, France | Angel In The North Travelling for a month in Europe with a baby: Annecy, France | Angel In The North

Do you?

Let me know what you think to our trip!

Europe road trip week 3: Italy

At the beginning of the third week of our month travelling in Europe, and after a week in Croatia, we took the overnight ferry from Split to Ancona on the east coast of Italy.

We were itching to get to Italy – for the food, mostly – but also to soak up the country’s rich history and culture.

As if put there to get us into the mood, there was a large group of nuns and monks on the boat and we were already witnessing Italians’ famous love for family and babies. Men and women talked to us and cooed at our little one in their language, undeterred by our blank faces and total lack of understanding.

We arrived in port at around 7am and set off towards our first destination, driving over immense viaducts and through countless tunnels.

Serramonacesca, Abruzzo region, Italy

It was our sixth wedding anniversary on the day we arrived in Italy, and I had this romantic notion that sleeping in a bell tent in the countryside would be the perfect way to spend it.

Full of positivity and with prosecco at the ready, we arrived at Kokopelli Camping, a small campsite run by a British couple who moved to Italy to embrace their love of the outdoors. They were incredibly generous with their time and have brought some brilliant ideas to their campsite, to help visitors help them live a self-sufficient, minimal impact lifestyle. They keep chickens so there are often fresh eggs for breakfast and grow tomatoes and herbs which you can help yourself to – perfect for cooking that traditional Italian pasta sauce.

It was so quiet here people talked in hushed tones – refreshing after the ‘f**k you all I’m on holiday’ attitude we’d found at the last campsite. The only sounds were those of nature, the church bells and a couple of wild dogs howling in the nearby town.

Bell tent camping, Kokopelli Camping, Serramonacesca, Italy | Angel In The North Bell tent camping, Kokopelli Camping, Serramonacesca, Italy | Angel In The North

Unfortunately at night it felt a little like we were enduring a ‘bushtucker trial’ in the celebrity jungle. Our wedding anniversary night was always going to be more crowded than usual with our baby there – but we hadn’t counted on lizards and cockroaches and quite so many crawling and buzzing insects joining the party.

Sleep wasn’t easy, because we became suspicious of every rustle and patch of black. I questioned whether we’d make it to our seventh wedding anniversary when my husband woke up to a lizard on his arm.

Also our baby suddenly seemed inclined to cry frequently, spit out his dummy and refuse to sleep. It was hot and humid and while we had fine weather, it had rained for days before our arrival and the mosquitos were out in force, making up for lost time.

We’d been told we could get everything we wanted in the local town – and we really wanted to shop there to experience real Italian life and support the local economy. Optimistically we set off, but emerged some time later with only a citronella candle, mosquito repellent, a couple of nectarines, two courgettes and a bunch of grapes. We gave in and used Google maps to locate the nearest supermarket.

I decided we weren’t really cut out for this. After our two planned nights there we made an early getaway.

Rome, Italy

As we drove away from the campsite, we took a wrong turn and witnessed a touching scene of typical Italian family life: four generations of family turned out to see a tiny girl get on a yellow bus to take her first journey to school.

This was an example of how the unexpected and time taken going between destinations, getting from A to B, often felt the most real, impressive and memorable.

The drive across country to Rome took us through breathtaking scenery that is just part of the everyday fabric of the country in Italy, not anywhere particularly noteworthy. The mountains were vast and towns clung to hillsides.

In Rome we were at a campsite again but here we’d booked a mobile home, a bit like a small, basic static caravan, and we were thankful of having four walls instead of canvas. We stayed at Camping Village Fabulous, a lovely site with two swimming pools, a supermarket, restaurant and bar. It’s near a bus stop and is about a 20 minute bus ride to Rome’s Metro.

We spent two days in the centre of Rome, seeing the main sights like the Colloseum, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain and Vatican City. Expect crowds and queues everywhere, but you can book tickets in advance which I would advise doing. You can skip the line at the Vatican though if you have a baby!

Although the first day we went into Rome we took the buggy, we found it a bit of a pain when inside places and very difficult on busy public transport. The second day we used the baby carrier instead, which was much easier.

Colloseum, Rome, Italy | Angel In The North Colloseum, Rome, Italy | Angel In The North Colloseum, Rome, Italy | Angel In The North Colloseum, Rome, Italy | Angel In The North Trevi Fountain, Rome, Italy | Angel In The North

Sam was quite happy being carted around places, but we stopped every so often for a break, to feed him, or just to play. Whenever we did we always found bar and café staff taking time to interact with our baby, eliciting his gummy grin.

This happened all over, from people you might least expect: the shaven headed man on the subway, the teenage girl previously engrossed in her phone, even people in cars pulled faces as we sat in traffic alongside them on the bus. We were really touched that they took time out to help us keep him happy.

Travelling Europe with a baby: Rome, Italy | Angel In The North

Florence, Italy

Our stay in Rome was the last part of the trip we’d booked from home, and for the rest of our holiday we’d decided to book accommodation using AirBnB.

It was our first time and we couldn’t have got off to a better start: our self-contained apartment in Florence was one of several in a small block that housed four generations of the same family. They left us a bottle of red wine from their vineyard, which was very good. The house was surrounded by fields but only a couple of kilometres from the centre of Florence.

AirBnb apartment, Florence | Angel In The North

The next day we wandered through the characterful streets of Florence; full of beauty and history but far less frenetic than Rome had been. We took a look at the Cattedrale de Santa Maria del Fiore and the Ponte Vecchio before walking through the peaceful Boboli gardens and stopping for an ice cream at Florence’s best gelateria: La Carraia.

Florence cathedral, Italy | Angel In The North Florence cathedral, Italy | Angel In The North Florence cathedral, Italy | Angel In The North Florence cathedral, Italy | Angel In The North Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy | Angel In The North Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy | Angel In The North

Next we headed to northern Italy before making our way home through France.

European road trip week 2: Croatia

In the first week of our month-long road trip round Europe, we had driven through five countries: England, France, Germany, Austria and Slovenia. It had been busy, but brilliant, and tiring at times.

At the beginning of the second week, we were about to hit our sixth country – Croatia – where we were due to stay for a week. We were looking forward to settling into a place and parking the car up for a few days.

Trogir, Croatia

We’d booked a chalet tent at Camping Belvedere near Trogir on Croatia’s southern Dalmatian coast. Up to now we’d stayed in hotels or guest houses, but being away for a month we had to find cheaper accommodation for the bulk of the stay.

Camping like this cost about £20-30 a night, and we also saved on the cost of meals because we now had cooking facilities. The previous week we’d been spending £100-200 a day on an overnight stay and meal out.

The tent comes with beds and cooking facilities so it also meant we didn’t have to cart our camping gear across Europe. We did take some of our own things in case of emergencies: our gas stove and a kettle so we could always make milk for Sam, even on the road; a sheet and a duvet; torches; and some basic crockery and cutlery.

Our first impression was that the campsite had great facilites – the usual washrooms plus bar, restaurant, swimming pools and a supermarket – and a stunning coastal location with great views of Trogir and nearby islands. We had a couple of days’ sunbathing and swimming in the sea, and even a cocktail or two at the bar which overlooked the Adriatic.

Unfortunately our stay here was spoilt by other campers – some making a lot of noise outside until the early hours of the morning. As Brits we tend to talk ourselves down, but I think you can tell a lot about a country by its campers and I’ve never stayed at a British campsite where people don’t respect the curfew!

It was German campers causing the problems for us; when we asked them after midnight to be quiet because we had a baby we got “We’re on holiday!” in reply. From talking to others I understand Italian and Spanish campers can be worse. Lesson learned!

Nonetheless, there’s no doubt Croatia has a lot to offer tourists. We’d loved Dubrovnik when we visited for a day on a cruise last year.

We found nearby Trogir a very pleasant city. It’s a world heritage site and set on a small island that is linked to the mainland by a bridge.

Trogir, Croatia | Angel In The North Trogir, Croatia | Angel In The North Trogir, Croatia | Angel In The North Trogir, Croatia | Angel In The North

Split, Croatia

Split we were less impressed with, though I’d expected to like it. Maybe it’s because we were driving: it’s a busy and chaotic city. Coming in by car past the high-rise apartment blocks that represent real life is no doubt a very different experience to that of most tourists who fly or arrive by boat.

Nonetheless, part of Split’s harbour is pretty and the Diocletian’s Palace is interesting. It’s also a world heritage site, and Roman monument with restaurants, bars and shops inside; an atmospheric area giving a flashback to Split life thousands of years ago.

Diocletian's Palace, Split, Croatia | Angel In The North Split, Croatia | Angel In The North

Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

Croatia’s national parks have beauty that is on another level.

Plitvice Lakes is Croatia’s most popular tourist attraction, and it’s easy to see why. It’s been on my ‘must visit’ list for a while; the photos I’d seen of its 16 lakes linked by waterfalls made it look like a natural fantasy land.

Plitvice is very busy and quite developed. It is stunning, but don’t expect a watery wilderness: when we went in mid-September there were hoardes of people pretty much everywhere which made progress quite slow, the lakes are surrounded by wooden walkways and buses and boats ferry tourists around. Your entry ticket (€14.50 for each of us, but prices vary according to season) includes bus and boat rides.

On the plus side, the development of the park and well-signposted walking routes make it very easy to get around and see the main sights. We followed route B which took about 4 hours.

Expect to queue to get in: I think we waited for about 40 minutes. Sam decided to produce an enormous poo while we were in line so I ducked out to change him on the grass (there were long queues for the toilets too). I’m not sure it was the natural phenomenon visitors were expecting to see :)

Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia | Angel In The North Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia | Angel In The North Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia | Angel In The North Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia | Angel In The North Wearing a Connecta Solar baby carrier at Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia | Angel In The North

While we were away I carried Sam in a Connecta Solar which I’d borrowed from a local sling library. We both found it really comfortable and the buckles and padded straps made me feel confident he was safe even when we were climbing and walking on rougher terrain in the national parks. It also has a hood which can go over his head if its sunny or he’s having a nap.

Krka National Park, Croatia

On our last day in Croatia we had a few hours to kill after leaving the campsite and boarding the overnight ferry to Italy. On a bit of a whim – believe it or not, I thought we might have seen enough waterfalls after Plitvice – we decided to go to Krka National Park.

I’m so glad we did. It’s still developed and touristy but Krka is smaller and although they’re busy, the walkways feel less like a conveyor belt. Here you can swim in one of the lakes below Roški slap waterfall.

Krka National Park, Croatia | Angel In The North Krka National Park, Croatia | Angel In The North Krka National Park, Croatia | Angel In The North Krka National Park, Croatia | Angel In The North

What do you think to Croatia? Have you been, or would you like to?

Next stop, country number seven: Italy!

European road trip: week 1

After we crossed the Channel Tunnel from England to France (so much easier than the ferry, by the way) we began our month-long road trip through Europe by driving south east through northern France.

Reims, France

Our first overnight stop was in Reims, the capital of the champagne region – because of its location on the way to our next destination more than any desire to visit.

We’d booked a chambre d’hôtes at a working farm about 15 minutes outside the city, where the owner Joy made a fuss of Sam and his “beautiful blue eyes.”

Reims cathedral, France | Angel In The North

Like many French cities, Reims has an impressive cathedral and – unknown to most people, I think – is actually the place where the Germans capitulated, ending WW2. (The definitive text was signed in Berlin the next day).

The former schoolhouse where the surrender took place is now a modest museum; we couldn’t help but feel history on our shoulders as we stood in the room where peace was agreed.

Here, another stranger took time out to bring a smile from our baby (he gives them out pretty willingly, as it happens). The Frenchwoman behind the museum counter looked on first sight like a battleaxe, but seconds after our arrival she was bending over wiggling her ample bosom and wobbly chin into Sam’s buggy. She was quickly rewarded with his gummy grin.

This warmth we felt from strangers all over Europe – many of whom looked most unlikely to coo and smile at a baby – was one of the most endearing and enduring things about the trip.

That evening, after Sam had gone to sleep, we sat in the courtyard of the chambre d’hôtes drinking a good bottle of French red wine we’d picked up for a couple of Euros. The local church was lit up and the night was silent.

Our first major day of travel had gone smoothly, and we’d had enough time to explore a new place. It was then that I knew we had made the right decision to do this trip, and it was going to be great.

Strasbourg, France

After breakfast, Joy waved us off and from Reims we headed for Germany. Strasbourg was more or less on the way, so we stopped for a couple of hours over lunch.

(When working out our route we decided to do no more than around 4 or 5 hours of driving a day, and on travelling days we planned in a lunchtime stop somewhere interesting of 2 or 3 hours. This rough schedule seemed to work well for Sam, who usually napped while in the car, and it gave us a break too).

Strasbourg was just lovely, distinctively French but with a German flavour. Its historic city centre, the Grande Île, is a world heritage site. It was somewhere I instantly felt I could call home.

Strasbourg, France | Angel In The North Strasbourg, France | Angel In The North Strasbourg, France | Angel In The North


Dragging ourselves away from Strasbourg, we crossed the border and continued into southern Germany, where we stayed with friends for two nights. We had a lot of ground to cover in the first week, and it was good to have a day’s break from travelling.

Salzburg, Austria

I was itching to get into Austria though, and it didn’t disappoint.

In Salzburg we stayed at the Meininger hotel, which was fairly affordable (about £100 – hotels in Salzburg seemed expensive but we had left booking quite late), clean and good enough. It has parking and is about a 20 minute walk along a straight road to the main sights.

As in most places where we had one-night stops, we got to Salzburg mid-afternoon which gave us a few hours before Sam’s bedtime to explore the city.

Having not had lunch our first stop was for a bite to eat and after a glance at Trip Advisor we decided on S’Kloane Brauhaus which, handily, was on our way from the hotel to the centre. We lucked out with this place and managed to coincide our meal with Sam choosing to take a nap (*double thumbs up*). This pub has a lovely little beer garden and serves traditional Austrian dishes straight from the grill with great service. The prices are reasonable, probably because it’s a little further away from the main tourist hot spots.

Moving on, into the historic centre of beautiful Salzburg, we went to look at Mozart’s birthplace and home and after a little walk round headed back to the hotel, via a stop for coffee and ice cream. We decided to return the next morning to visit the castle.

Salzburg, Austria | Angel In The North Salzburg, Austria | Angel In The North Salzburg, Austria | Angel In The North Salzburg, Austria | Angel In The North Salzburg, Austria | Angel In The North Salzburg, Austria | Angel In The North Salzburg, Austria | Angel In The North

Wörthersee, Austria

The scenery as we drove through Austria was breathtaking. There was so much to see all the time it was impossible to take everything in. Alpine perfection was around every corner and the huge, craggy mountains had me awestruck.

We took a short break from the road to walk up to see Gollinger Wasserfall.

Gollinger Wasserfall / Golling Falls, Austria | Angel In The North

Unfortunately, we were a little disappointed with our destination for that night, Wörthersee, a large lake in southern Austria that is popular for swimming in – its water temperature can be 25ºC in summer.

We were hoping for a nice lakeside stroll, but instead there was a busy main road between our accommodation and the lake. Reluctantly, we got back in the car and drove to the nearest town, Velden. Here it became clear that Wörthersee is for the well-heeled and well-off. It was very pleasant but well-developed and in order to sit somewhere with a lake view you invariably had to pay for it by ordering an expensive meal.

Luckily for us – away for a month, on a bit of a budget – there was a street food festival going on so we could have €5 pulled pork burgers instead.

Early the next morning, I went for a solitary swim in our hotel’s outdoor pool. Like it had on that first night in Reims, my skin prickled with the excitement of what we were doing and what was to come.

Outdoor pool at Worthersee, Austria | Angel In The North

It was day 6, and later that morning we reached country number four.

Ljubljana, Slovenia

A few years earlier, we spent quite a magical weekend in Lake Bled, a stunning destination in Slovenia. The country’s capital, Ljubljana, does not tend to top many city break bucket lists but I’m starting to see it mentioned more and more on travel blogs.

For good reason. It’s a really charming, surprising city. It has everything I’ve grown to love about European cities while we were away: its size makes it easy to explore in a day, there’s a castle on a hill, it has colourful buildings, a river running through the old town, a cathedral, a big and bustling market and plenty of riverside cafés and restaurants for eating, coffee-drinking and people-watching behind sunglasses. (We had a really good lunch at Most, just next to the lock bridge, but indulged and spent rather more than we expected for a meal in Slovenia – €99!)

Top Ljubljana sights include the Triple Bridge and the Pink Church (I’m guessing they like literal descriptions). We walked up to the castle, which was hard going with a buggy!

We stayed at Slovenian House Vida, which opened in 2015 and is about 5km out of the city centre. We received a really warm and helpful welcome from the young owners, obviously very proud of their country and what it has to offer. Breakfast is served downstairs in the cellar of the old house, which has exposed brick walls and a vaulted ceiling.

Ljubljana, Slovenia | Angel In The North Ljubljana, Slovenia | Angel In The North Ljubljana, Slovenia | Angel In The North Ljubljana, Slovenia | Angel In The North Ljubljana, Slovenia | Angel In The North Ljubljana, Slovenia | Angel In The North

Still to come, our travels in Croatia and Italy… :)

What happened when we took our baby travelling for a month

It’s been a few weeks since I last blogged but there are times in your life when you just have to take a screen break. This has definitely been one of those times.

As you’ll know if you’re a regular reader, my husband qualified for a two-month sabbatical from work (he’s just gone back – boo!) and we decided to take ourselves and our now six-month-old baby on a month-long road trip around Europe.

So, now we’re back, what was the verdict?

Honestly, it was perhaps the best month of my life.

I really didn’t expect to say that. Though it was me, really, pushing the idea, at least in the beginning, we both had doubts about whether taking a baby on such a long journey was the right thing to do and our excitement was tinged with apprehension even when we set off.

Would he be happy and settled while we were travelling? Would he be safe?

Would we enjoy it? Would it be stressful? Would our relationship thrive or struggle?

Should we spend our time and money finishing the house and garden instead?

In the end, we decided that if we never tried taking the trip, we’d never know. And that we were lucky to have this opportunity that might never come again until retirement :( – so we should grab it with both hands.

What we found out when travelling with a baby | Angel In The North

What we found out when we went travelling with a baby

Taking a road trip around Europe with a baby wasn’t like any holiday I’d had before – there was little sunbathing and only a couple of dips in a swimming pool – but that’s not what we wanted or expected.

Because we were away for a month, aside from the usual travel-related problems, like finding your way around each new place, there were everyday life tasks to face too – like dealing with a baby poo explosion in a national park, and getting a new car tyre in a small Italian town when we didn’t speak the language.

Overcoming them as they cropped up became part of the challenge, part of the fun and, afterwards, part of the sense of achievement.

Travelling with a baby: Lake Como, Italy | Angel In The North

It sounds clichéd, but in this case it’s true: the memories we made will last our whole lives. And I believe the trip was life-changing, in small but significant ways.

I realised that the world I look at much of the time is so small – my phone screen, my house, my desk at work, the streets of my city. There’s a whole world out there full of people living all kinds of lives.

Though I’m happy with my life, it could be better and we want to do more. I don’t want to live it all in the same place, with us doing the same jobs.

I’ve been a bit scared of change up to now but the trip laid out, right in front of me, ways of life that I’d prefer to my own. It made me realise that if we’re not 100% happy with the life we’re living, we have the power to change it and we should have the courage to do that.

This trip made us clearer about our hopes and dreams, and made us come up with a plan that could actually see them come true.

Travelling with a baby: Annecy, France | Angel In The North

There were other things that made us want to make changes to our lives back home. We had no TV for the first three weeks we were away. Our baby Sam loved having our undivided attention and, once he was in bed, my husband and I talked like we did in the early days.

I feel like we reconnected. Since we had a baby – wonderful as our son is – life can be somewhat perfunctory. We’ve stayed close, but have had a tendency to talk about what Sam did that day, what he might do next and what he needs from the supermarket. We pass the baby between each other, take it in turns to do chores, collapse on the sofa at the end of a day and are often guilty of staring for too long at our phones.

There are days it needs to be like that, but there are also days we could make more effort to spend time talking and doing things together.

(Disclosure: I confess that when we did get to accommodation with wi-fi we binge-watched films for a few nights – and it was lovely).

The best bit?

People have asked me to name my favourite place, and I’ve been unable to single out a winner. There were stand-out destinations, of course: Croatia’s national parks, cities full of character like Strasbourg, Salzburg and Florence and places I could imagine myself living like Annecy in the French Alps, with its food and flea markets.

But the moments I was happiest – when I felt that pinch-me-I’m-so-lucky-to-be-doing-this feeling – most often came at unexpected times.

Like in rural Italy, when we took a wrong turn and saw four generations of an emotional and effusive family watching a tiny girl get on a yellow bus for her first day of school.

Or in Austria, when just getting from A to B the scenery was breathtaking. We opened the car windows and sunroof and took in the huge mountains and Alpine air on all sides.

Despite our best efforts and intentions, some memories are already fading as normal life resumes. I plan to get them down on the blog so I can come back to it if I need help remembering how special it was, and what I was determined to take from it as I returned to England.

So more details about where we went and what we did to come in the next few posts!

Have you taken a trip that changed your life, even in a small way?

Three days in Leeds

When rail ticket retailer The Trainline asked me to write a blog about what to do in Leeds, it was harder to decide what to leave out than what to put in.

So much new, good stuff has arrived in the city in the last few years, and though I included genuine favourites of mine I wanted my tips to have wide appeal.

I suggested places to eat, drink and shop and talked about Leeds’ lively arts scene.

Hop on over to The Trainline’s blog to read my guide to how to spend three days in Leeds.

How to spend 3 days in Leeds: visit the Corn Exchange

Let me know if you think there’s something I’ve left out!

What is your favourite place to go or thing to do in Leeds?

Review: Lifft baby sling

Since Sam was a newborn, I’ve taken to wearing him in a sling. Babywearing suits me because I’m quite active and don’t like being restricted about where I go, and it has seemed to suit Sam who usually spends most of his time in his sling asleep.

I’ve had a jersey wrap sling which has served us well once I got the hang of tying it right (basically it’s a long piece of fabric that you wrap around yourself and over your shoulders three times), but he’s now getting older  – nearly five months – and nosier, and I’ve been looking for an alternative that gives him a little more freedom to look around.

So I was pleased to be invited to review a Lifft sling and when I browsed the website I was struck by how simple they looked to use.

Review of the Lifft baby sling | Angel In The North

Continue reading “Review: Lifft baby sling”

What I wore: festival wedding outfit

We went to a fabulous wedding a few days ago.

This family do was always going to be special – because it would be our son Sam’s first wedding – but when the veil was lifted on the couple’s carefully laid plans it was so personal, so fitting and so full of love that it is destined to be a day to remember.

I felt rather nice I have to say in this folky white and blue embroidered dress from Monsoon that had been hanging in my wardrobe – all teasing and enticing – for a few weeks. (You might have noticed I featured it in my picks of the best embroidered dresses around. It’s now in the sale at less than a third of the price I paid – only a few sizes left). Continue reading “What I wore: festival wedding outfit”

A late summer wish list

Late summer fashion and home wish list

  1. Black hexagonal wire wine bottle holder, £25, Holly’s House
  2. Wire and wood industrial shelves, £50, Cox and Cox
  3. Black and white striped laundry bag, £16, Future and Found
  4. Bar drop back rose gold earrings, £19.95, Howkapow
  5. Pom pom sandals, £9, New Look
  6. Embroidered blouse, £35.99, Mango
  7. Rose Muuto elevated vase, £79,*
  8. Swedish green task lamp, £69.95, Howkapow
  9. Mama bangle, £70, Southwood Stores
  10. Pink round sunglasses, £15, Marks and Spencer

Six embroidered dresses for summer

Six summer embroidered dresses from the UK high street

// clockwise from top left / embroidered Tropez dress, Oasis, £58 / embroidery shirt dress, £79, & Other Stories / embroidered dress, £39, JD Williams* / loose fit indigo embroidered dress, £35, Marks and Spencer / Carmen embroidered dress, £79 reduced to £23.70, Monsoon / long sleeve embroidered dress, £49.99, Zara //

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...