So, how have things changed now that we are over half way into our trip? Well, I am no longer stressed and my worry factor is practically zero (there is always something to worry about but this usually takes place last thing at night while I am trying to get to sleep e.g. is the place we are staying in going to burn down/fall down/wash away…etc)
This laid back attitude has unfortunately resulted in myself gaining several pounds which is mainly due to eating too much, drinking too many delicious flat white coffees and not getting enough exercise (if only I had packed my sports bra and trainers….) Not to worry, a barefoot, bouncy jog on the beach in the morning might help.
The kids are still getting on remarkably well, with the slight exception of the occasional long journey where a change of seating has been required i.e. me in the back of the car and one of the kids in the front to avoid continuous bickering and winding each other up. Also, Morgan has been trying out his swearing abilities and recently came out with the classic phrases: “Does the film Forest Gump have facial sex in it?” And – out of the blue – “Am I a Dick head?”
Despite these minor misdemeanours, I am so glad that we chose to take them at this age as we have spotted a few sullen teenagers along the way, with their ageing parents walking several yards behind them. I am sure that relations would not have been so good had we travelled in a few years time! It constantly amazes me that they have the ability to amuse themselves for hours on end, armed with just a few found objects and a HUGE imagination!! Long may it continue.
We have also discovered that the kids…
- will eat anything if they are hungry enough and there is nothing else on offer
- will walk for at least two hours as long as there is a snack and some water and that they do not have to carry anything
- can go for days (probably weeks) without even thinking about washing, cleaning their teeth or changing their underpants
- can sleep pretty much anywhere (apart from on an overnight plane journey because they would rather watch all the movies)
- their favourite chocolate (and ours) is Cadburys Dairy Milk Black Forest (can you buy it in the UK?)
- only nag when there is something to nag about i.e. if there are no sweet shops they do not nag for sweets (same goes for toys, magazines, fish and chips etcetera)
- love to be in water as much as possible (apart from the bath or shower)
- miss school (it’s true!!)
- are great travellers and great company.
The school work has been a little more challenging (sorry Mrs Mead!) As all teachers know, it is much, much harder to teach your own little offspring than any other child on the planet! We have done our best so far, learning on the go and when we finally have more than a couple of nights in one location, we grab a teaching day (much to the kids delight…NOT).
Luckily they are learning so much every day and usually are completely oblivious to this. For example, where we are staying at the moment, in Punakaiki, Western New Zealand, they have the most amazing ‘pancake rocks’ and blowholes. Perfect for learning about coastal erosion. (Humanities, tick.)
As a family we have encountered numerous challenges along our way:
unbearably long car journeys, sweltering heat, death-defying tuk-tuk and rickshaw rides, dodgy cockroach ridden hotels, pesky sandfly bites, bone-chilling winds on top of a mountain, monsoon rain, finding a good flat white coffee for me…… (I NEED my caffeine!!)
Some of these challenges could have caused marital break up (and those involving long car journeys and lack of caffeine nearly did). On the whole, we have pulled together and come out smiling (through gritted teeth at times or clenched buttocks during those really scary rides).
There have been times when we have missed our friends and family, (eMail and Skype have helped with this) as well as Milly the cat (please give her a cutch from us if you see her). Also, sometimes you just NEED YOUR OWN SPACE!! This is when you find time to go for a wander on your own, preferably to the nearest pub or café. Or take a long bath with a large glass of wine (this has only just happened, for the first time in 50 days, as we discovered our first glorious bathtub installed in the house at Punakaiki…. bliss!)
Mr B and myself have had the added frustration of having to share our bedroom most nights with either one or both of the kids. Needless to say, this has not been the most romantic of trips but we have found a way, quietly, on the odd child free night!! Mr B has taken to running in the morning and taking a long shower afterwards……(He gets very dirty kids!)
All in all, the trip has brought us closer together as a family (so far!) and we have been lucky enough to encounter some of the most incredible sights, sounds, flavours, experiences and wonders of our amazing world.