Situated just south of the town of Guildford, Surrey, we had the amazing privilege to call a Tudor cottage home, even if it was just for a short time. The catch? Well they were privileges too. Caring for a gorgeous Black Lab named Teazle, two cats, Pepa & George and spending a few afternoons with the mower (and a cold cider).
Birmingham Coat of Arms
Even the coat of arms says it, Birmingham is forward thinking. It’s a city world renowned for it’s contribution to industry and the arts and the second largest city in the United Kingdom. It’s hard to believe that Birmingham started out life as a medium-sized market town in the medieval period. Later in the 18th century, the Midlands Enlightenment and subsequent Industrial Revolution, helped Birmingham grab the attention of the world. Birmingham became a city at the forefront of advances in science, technology and economic development, including the invention of the world’s first steam engine (which we saw and the Black Country Living Museum).
The Black Country Living Museum – Getting to the Heart of Britain’s Industrial Revolution.
When we learned that we would be spending our first three months in the UK in the West Midlands, I must admit that we didn’t really have any expectations because we didn’t know a lot about the area. Sometimes though, that’s the best way to travel. We can honestly say though that this is an area that we have really grown an attachment to. This can definitely be attributed to the many kind, friendly locals that we encountered, the beautiful country scenery, pretty towns, and most of all a firm sense of identity based on a period in time that changed the world forever. In the Midlands, getting to the heart of Britain’s Industrial Revolution is easy, and nowhere more so, than at the Black Country Living Museum.
Our Global Adventure to Stratford upon Avon
Thanks to the fabulously entertaining and education BBC children’s program Horrible Histories, our children have long had an interest in William Shakespeare. A highlight of our year housesitting in England was always going to be a visit to the bard’s home town of Stratford upon Avon. However, despite an enthusiasm for visiting Stratford, and a keen interest in Shakespeare, I must admit that none of us were particularly interested in spending a lot of money to slowly shuffle through crowded houses to look at rooms done up to look as they might of in Shakespeare’s time. Call us spoiled, but after over 18 months of travel and numerous historical houses, it does become a little tiresome to be herded like sheep through rooms packed to the gills with other tourists. We needed a solution, and once again, our trusty Lonely Planet guide provided us with a great plan… Stratford Town Walk.
Our Global Adventure began with just one destination in mind over two years ago, The United Kingdom. We knew that we wanted a change of lifestyle and a change of scenery, to be able to spend more time together as a family. After particularly bad days at work we’d come home and joke “Let’s just sell it all and move to Scotland”.
When we set out on Our Global Adventure, it was with a plan. We would spend 6-9 months in Ireland (to take care of the requirements for a visa into the UK) and then head on to England. When Gina said to me this time last year… “Do you want to go to France”, I was quite flabbergasted that she would even suggest such a spanner in the works of our carefully planned schedule. After all, she wasn’t even looking for housesitting opportunities at that stage.
But as I read the advertisement on trusted housesitters, I must admit that I felt something special was being placed in front of us.
Château de la Barbelinière
Our favourite village, Angles-sur-l’Anglin.
For the past four months Our Global Adventure has taken us housesitting and exploring in the Poitou-Charente region of central Western France. A short drive in any direction off of the motorway will take visitors through lots and lots of pretty towns and villages (in fact we advise you to stay off the motorway, it’s so boring!). So, here is our pick of the best for postcard photos, picnics and meandering. Continue reading
Château Chenonceau radiates feminine beauty. It’s not a foreboding stronghold built to keep out invaders. Nor is high over a town, like a warning, to keep everyone below in their place. Chenonceau is graceful, even soft on the eye, it’s built over a river at the end of tree lined path. It is all these things because throughout its 503 year history it has been a series of women who have influenced the design and fate of this Château the most.
It’s hard to believe that we have been living in France for six weeks now. I know that we have been a bit quiet on the blog as we’ve settled in, so it’s time for an update on what we’ve been up to, and how things are going on Our Global Adventure. After all, it’s not every day that you find an Aussie family in France.
The Royal Fortress of Chinon
Recently we had a day out exploring some of the towns nearby to Chatellerault where we are currently based in France. We were excited to discover beautiful towns and villages all within easy reach. Highlight of the day was the medieval town of Chinon which is located in the heart of the Loire Valley, strategically built by the banks of the Vienne River. It is a town steeped in history and rich with culture. The imposing castle that sits high above the town was the preferred residence of Henry II, one of the English Plantagenet kings, and his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine. Henry II died in 1189 and their son, Richard the Lionheart was born here. Continue reading