Showing posts from October, 2009

Trick or treat!

Today is Halloween in the UK. To celebrate the boys and I donned our fancy costumes, leaving Matt at home to hand out treats, and hit the streets to try our luck at trick-or-treating. After our not-so-successful attempt last year back in Oz we weren't sure what to expect. We were in for quite a surprise.

Many of the houses in our neighbourhood have been decorated with Halloween decorations. We decided to only knock on the doors of the houses which were done up for the festivities. As we wandered around, slowly filling our pumpkin sweets holders to over-flowing, we heard fireworks being let off by the locals.... fireworks are legal in backyards here. It reminds me of fire cracker night back home when I was just a little girl. It's so nice to see the boys getting these experiences in their lives too!

We had so much fun parading around like a scary-looking bunch. The boys are tickled-pink that they had so much success this year.

Happy Halloween!

Halloween Fireworks!

This weekend is Halloween. To celebrate Portsmouth puts on an annual Fireworks Celebration.... so off we went for a look-see. The main display was to be at Gunwharf Quays, next to Spinnaker Tower. To avoid the usual bottle-neck of traffic that happens everytime there is a major event down in Portsmouth we decided to watch the fireworks from Portsdown Hill... which looks directly over the entire Portsmouth area.

Matt and I snuggled on a blanket on the grass while the boys sat on the park bench playing the DS's while we waited for the show. Just before it started Matt bought us all a hot chocolate from the fast food van that is usually parked up at this popular lookout. It was the most delicious hot chocolate ever... so creamy and chocolatey......mmmm. Very much enjoyed by all!

From the lookout we could see all the smaller firework displays being put on in Portsmouth. Finally the real show started. We could see all the big fireworks from where we sat - would have looked nicer up close…

Time to Hit the Ice ... or avoid it if you manage to stay on your feet

Today we decided to try a little Winter Sports. One of the things we want to do around Christmas is Ice Skating in London at Hyde Park. With this in mind we decided we needed to learn how... so off to Planet Ice at Gosport we went.

We got there nice and early so that we wouldn't have to condend with too many other bodies on the ice. It cost us just over £20 for the four of us to skate for up to 6 hours, including skate hire. Awesome! Once we got our skates on it was time to hit the ice.... quite literally for the boys in the beginning.

Matt was an absolute natural...even thought it's 16 years since he and I last skated. I needed to hug the wall most of the time. Zane took only 4 laps around (and minimal stacking) before he managed to let go. He seems to be a natural and just loved the feeling of the ice under his skates. Awkwardness seemed to go out the window as he grew more and more confident. Darian took a little more convincing. After one lap he left the rink and we honestly…

Climbing Mountains..... of paperwork

Well, where to start? Tonight we started the arduous task of filling in the next lot of paperwork to extend our visas to stay here in the UK. Ironically, had we been given the full 4 year visa we originally applied and paid for (ouch) we wouldn't have to do this next stage. As Matt's original contract at his school was only until the end of January 2010 the government decided our visas would finish at that date. We still paid the full fee of £600 each but only got visas for 12 months. So now we have to pay an additional £600 for Matt and £50 each for the boys and I to extend it for the remaining 3 years we will be entitled to..... oh, the joy! So, a little advice for those wishing to follow their dreams of working overseas - get a 4 year contract so you can get a 4 year visa (and save yourselves a tonne of money).

The paperwork is crazy. 56 pages for Matt's application and 50 pages each for the remaining applications.... over 200 pages of almost complete and utter rubbish…

'Hurst Castle'.... another piece of Henry VIII

Today we set off by car in the direction of 'The New Forest' area. Having been there twice already and seeing what is on offer we decided this was a great day out for the half-term break. Our main agenda today was to see the historic 'Hurst Castle'as it will be closed for the winter months after this week... no time like the present!

Hurst Castle was one of the many artillery fortresses built in the time of King Henry VIII in the 1500's. It was completed in 1544 and is located at the entrance to the Solent... at the very end of a shingle-spit, which starts at Milford-on-Sea...a 1.5 mile walk away. It has spectacular views out onto the Isle of Wight... including the three huge rocks there known as the Needles and Needle Lighthouse.

The castle has seen it's fair share of history.... including the imprisonment of Charles I in the 1648. It was one of the major battle stations along the English coastline in WWII and houses many massive guns.

To get to the Castle you ca…

The Pumpkin Experience

It would appear that Halloween is a rather large event here in the UK. Apparently it has only been so large in the last few years... boy, has it taken off then! Having come from the land of Oz, where Halloween is still trying to take off, seeing the festivities that are available here is really amazing. So, being the adventurous family we are, we decided to throw ourselves into the festivities, starting with a visit to the nearby '40 Acre Farm'for their yearly celebrations. The Pumkin Experience was exactly that!After picking up Darian's friend Emily we headed of with the Navman in charge. Not sure how we could possibly see so many things without our little techno friend. How did we ever survive without this? As it turns out, the farm is less than 10 minutes drive from where we are living.Once in we bought the kids all glow-in-the-dark neckbands for the Haunted House experience (even thought it was broad daylight and only 11am). Darian and Emily went for a walk inside the …

1066 - 'The Battle of Hastings'

Today we stepped back in time to October 14, 1066 with a second trip to Battle (not far from Hastings), where the famous 'Battle of Hastings' actually took place. This was not an ordinary visit though: this week marks the anniversary of the bloody battle that took place on the fields 943 years ago. With the anniversary comes a massive celebration at Battle, including a huge reenactment, with actors dressed in battle clothing from the era, wielding weapons from the same.

Imagine stand on the hillside of Selnac Ridge just outside Battle in East Sussex (6 miles from Hastings) as the Norman Army, consisting of over 8000 men (including cavalry, archers, infantry and crossbow men) approach from the nearby Pevensy Castle. They are passionate as they drive themselves onward for attack in what they claim is a Holy War: they believe that their leader, Duke William of Normandy, has been wrongfully deprived of the throne of England after being promised it by Harold during the…