Yes I’ve been quiet for some time – in fact I didn’t blog at all in Glasgow.

Good reason for it really. I’ve been picking up the slack on paid work which has  meant exhaustion, meltdowns and changes! Working on the road is a team sport that’s for sure. Some days or weeks Nat’s doing more than his fair share, other times it’s been me.

But that’s life, constant change.

Now we’ve arrived in Edinburgh and staying in a little place I’ve dubbed the ‘Beige Submarine (with high ceilings)’. We arrived Wednesday and are quickly trying to find the essentials (for us) as well as work and school. We’re quickly trying to find the following:

  • Library
  • Playground
  • Supermarket (a full one, not a large dairy)
  • After ‘school’ activities for kids
  • Workout space or local gym
  • Space in the house to work
  • Space in the house where we can have our own space! (Ha! Even the bathroom – my go to – has a frosted glass door, so locking myself in the bathroom and hiding isn’t so easy)
  • Our new normal, whatever that is, for the next few weeks.

Packing was a bit easier this move for some reason. Every move we try and take less with us – dumping used school books, ditching clothes that have been grown out of or falling to bits, books that have been read to death that kind of thing. This move though the kids started getting the hang of what I mean by “rolling” their clothes and what needs to go in what bag.

Packing is an art!

I know that Lennox’s lego goes in the ‘VW Bag’ that goes zip facing forward at the back left of this suitcase, his ‘man bag’ on the back right and the orange bag in the middle.  His clothes go at the front in their zipped bags, plastic blocks/ art supplies get smashed between and school books and collapsible basket goes on top. (The basket is super handy as all their school and art stuff gets dumped in there.)

The trick is zip placement. Why? Because sure as eggs I’ll find random bits of lego, a peg, a toy, a pair of grundies or SOMETHING that needs to go in the bag after I’ve finished packing and declared “NO! You can’t get in your suitcase.” Which is followed by, “Oh man, couldn’t you have told me that BEFORE I finished.” So, having zips easily accessible means I can poke things in bags without opening the whole thing. This is usually done ‘blind’ with me digging around under the books and basket.

What I wouldn’t give for a rolling bag! I love the kids ones and covet them every time we move. Because even though we don’t really take a lot, it it sure feels like it when we lug stuff around.

Lennox’s bag is always heaviest (lego/toys) at around 17kg, Nat’s is lightest around 15kg. Alpha and I are usually around 16kg. Nat carries the cords, adapters and gadgets, I carry medical and random bits like extra shampoo. But there’s more than just our suitcases.

Best money we’ve ever spent

We learned a valuable lesson on this move. A taxi to and from train station is 100% WORTH IT!!  Even though we have our suitcases (as above) we also have a backpack each which is filled with computers and important stuff. Plus at the moment, we’re taking advantage of ground transport and travelling with an extra ‘all purpose’ bag, which is filled with scooters and food we can bring with us. I don’t want to buy cumin and coriander AGAIN  so that’s coming with us (you don’t know what you’re going to get at each place), along with left over clothes washing ‘pods’, GF food and scotch – this time the scotch travelled in an IRN BRU bottle. IRN BRU is oddly addictive even though it tastes gross at first, like bubblegum flavour/creaming soda.  So that extra bag and being a tired and over the moving thing, means a taxi although a bit pricey (around 10 pounds), is the difference between a hissy fit (me) and a fairly smooth reentry. I think we will stick with that, unless it’s like Oslo when it was 30 minutes on the fast train into town, so that would be way too expensive.

The Routine

The first thing we do when we arrive at a new place, is unpack, move furniture around (tables, couches, chairs and sometimes beds) and go for a walk to fill the fridge. Then we’re exhausted and pass out early so that we get stuck into work the next day (school is usually computer based on that first day). For some reason, work levels increase dramatically just as we’re transitioning to a new location, doubling the stress levels.

Nat and I have been working hard the past couple of weeks nailing a daily routine. Our lives are so changeable, that we need routine badly! It seems crazy to say it, that you’d think the whole point of travel is to be free and go with the flow and do what you want when you want. That maybe the case if you’re in your 20’s with no kids, don’t have a daily job to deal with and kids that need to be educated. So routines are our friends. We’re all much more relaxed when we know what’s expected of us. We’re got alarms set for everything  (up time, school start, morning tea, lunch, end of school, bed time…..) It sounds unappealing but we need some kind of consistency. For us adults its getting up an hour before the kids so we can workout, shower, plan the day and have 5 minutes without noise. It means Alpha cooks dinner for us (no help from us!) once a week, and she’s also helping teach Lennox too. Alpha’s speciality is ‘witches hats’ (Lennox calls them ‘chicken pyramids’) which is roasted chicken thighs with a ton of oregano. Oregano is her ‘secret ingredient’ and she puts it in everything she cooks. The other thing she likes to make is mince. She’s like her mum and phones it in on veggies, mainly cutting up raw veggies, but since we all like raw veggies (Lennox especially likes the raw stalks of broccoli) we’re happy with that.


Can’t wait to really see Edinburgh and out neighbourhood. The local park is a bit dodgy – drug packets, used condoms, beer cans, wine bottles, rubbish everywhere. Nat and I did a clean up this morning on our morning walk – then came home and washed our hands VERY thoroughly. But the location is perfect for the kids to go to the park by themselves, so the clean up is worth the effort.

You realise how clean NZ is when a lot of countries have rubbish everywhere. The Baltics were the cleanest though (cleaner than NZ, sorry).

We do miss the Baltics and want to go back, we need to do Lithuania to finish the trifecta. But I wouldn’t be surprised if we go back to Riga or Tallinn for another visit. Mind you there’s ALL the other countries we want to get to -Croatia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Egypt etc etc. That’s in addition to Spain and Italy. Yes, we will go to Italy even with earthquakes (it’s what started this whole travel thins after all. My 8 year old self WILL see the Lamborghini factory!)  We’re figuring out what we’ll do with Turkey and Egypt though, I REALLY want to go, but we’ll assess how the unrest is going before committing to that.

I realised yesterday on the train to Edinburgh that we need to get our exit from Spain sorted, I guess we’ll head to Italy after Spain, but that puts me right in my uncomfortable zone. Visa rules are so confusing and I don’t want to screw it up, but technically because of the Bilateral Agreement with the NZ govt we can do 3 months in Spain followed by 3 months in Italy without leaving the Schengen region (as long as we don’t go anywhere else). It’s a bit nerve wrecking though. Mind you, that’s what this travel thing is all about, doing stuff that scares you.

Right, my bedtime alarm has gone off… Woah, living it up here in Edinburgh.

(The advantage of it getting dark earlier (5-6pm is full dark), is we can see what it’s like at night time. With kids we don’t go out at night, so we maybe see each location at night once. Rock and roll!)

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Alice Rae-Flick

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