When finding maps to plan my 2 years travelling I came across a fabulous resource for travellers, anyone home educating or for anyone at all really: Please take a look at ‘On the World Map’ for incredibly detailed, very large, printable maps of any country in the world. You can also view train line maps, political maps, time-zone maps, and many more. I’ve just printed some really large scale maps of China and Japan with rail line maps of each country too. I can now plot my routes in great detail. Resolutions are about 4000 x 5000 so if you have the printer you can get some very large maps printed.
Magna Science Adventure Centre, Rotherham
I had a day in Sheffield last week visiting my mum and whilst we were there we discovered Magna. It’s a science centre set in an old steelworks and it also has a fantastic outdoor play and water park. You can buy a day ticket for both areas which you can turn into a free annual pass on the day, or alternatively it is possible to buy tickets for the outdoor park area only – these are pretty affordable. Prices are around £10.95 for an adult ticket and about £6.95 for a child’s but the outdoor area only is considerably less.
I’ll be very honest and say that the actual indoor area was not exactly the greatest science museum I’ve ever been to. It doesn’t use the enormous space to its full advantage for starters. Secondly, it looks as though it received a lot of funding a few years ago and not had much since. This results in a tired look about the place with a lot of the best exhibits not working (the tornado machine for example). But the premise is good: the museum is split into 4 areas named ‘air’, ‘earth’, ‘fire’, and ‘water’; the best was definitely water and had the most children in it. You could use wave power to light the light house, see how a canal lock works 1st hand (in miniature form) and fire water guns amongst other things.
I really think some money needs to be spent to be able call this a great science museum. However that said, the outdoor area is incredible. There is a fab water area with taps and buckets and all kinds of fountains that children (or grown ups) can run through. This was next to a huge play area with something for all age groups. You could easily just come to the outdoor area and have a fab day out on a budget. Or you can experience the whole thing for about £35 for a family of 4 and then come back for a year for free. Bring a picnic and this is great value on a sunny day.
I’ve finally managed to sneak in some travelling around the UK in amongst the chaos that is currently reigning whilst I try and prepare for myself and my wee girl to embark on our 2 year backpacking adventure. Fingers crossed you will be hearing a lot more from me now as I share my experiences of planning, booking, and organising our trip away which will be starting in August 2017!
However, before then I will share with you a wee trip to London which we took last weekend. I lived in London for about 6 or 7 years from when I was 19 and I’ve been dying to take my daughter Aria to see the sights and catch up with old friends. Aria is completely obsessed with dinosaurs and space so a trip to The Natural History Museum was definitely on the cards. These pictures are from the beautiful ‘Sensational Butterflies’ exhibition on at the museum. I will do a much more comprehensive post about our experience in London in the next few days once I’ve had a chance to edit all the pictures and sort through the best of them; I just felt these gorgeous butterflies deserved a separate post all of their own! If you’re in the UK it is well worth a visit if you’ve not been already; with so many exhibits on at the museum there must be something for everyone!
I most genuinely have no idea where 2016 has scurried away to in such a hurry. I haven’t written for so long I’m starting to have that nagging guilt in some dusty corner of my mind, which seems to just make me look away even more I fear. I think after finishing my degree I had to step away from writing another single word just until I transitioned safely back to normal life after the rigors of academia.
However, there’s no need for alarm (if there was any), as all of our plans to travel remain the same and are moving forward significantly these days. What follows is a quick and haphazard catch up of all my racing thoughts and plans that have formed slowly in my head over the last year or so:
We will be getting our backpacks and babygrows (well, more likely Star Wars pyjamas these days) out in July 2017 and embarking on a long and magnificent trip around anything eastward bound from the UK. The plan at the moment is to get over to Amsterdam and then take trains through Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and on to Russia where we will catch the Trans-Siberian to go to Beijing via Mongolia. With plenty of stops on the way this should be one of the most exciting and educating ways to get to China that we could possibly experience; so much more immersive than catching a plane. My 3 year old is incredibly excited to be catching a train to China, regardless of the fact she doesn’t fully understand the reality of that yet. I’m introducing her slowly but surely to the concept, process and all the places we will visit (she’ll be nearly 5 at the point we leave though). Being the wee sponge that she is she’s learning an incredible amount before we’ve even set off on our home schooling travels.
After we arrive in China we’re to spend 3 months seeing China via train (and the odd plane no doubt) before we move off to Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Bali to meet friends. We’ll then head to Australia to spend Christmas and New Year with the many family and friends we have over there. We’ll be exploring Oz and New Zealand for the next 3 months and if all goes to plan we’ll be heading out to Japan for 3 months at the start of March so we can experience sakura season. Afterwards I cannot wait to visit South Korea and experience with my own eyes the rich culture I see in my much loved K-Drama.
Beyond this I’m I’m undecided. We will possibly go to Croatia or to Malta where I am musing about settling down or at least making a base in a place with a climate better suited to our needs and personalities. Croatia looks to be too unstable as they’re quite restrictive to UK migrants at the moment. In Malta however, home schooling is illegal and they start schooling at 5 years (although my monkey will 6 when we’ve finished travelling). I’m still researching the system but I may have found a very good Montessori-type school on Gozo and they appear to get 12 weeks summer holidays both of which could persuade me to try schooling to give us an opportunity to settle a bit where family and friends can visit and from where we would still be able to travel 3 months of the year. I’ll post about the relocation in more detail very soon, it’s been an interesting thought/research process for me.
So, as you can see the plans have been busily forging on despite me being woefully neglective of my blog and my followers. I promise to try and post more regularly now, especially as I’m making daily decisions for our future travel plans. I’m currently choosing a hybrid backpack (one that also rolls, if like me you had no idea what that means) and researching accommodation, visas and all that stuff. I’ve now been saving for this for about 5 years very slowly, however much I’m able. Last year I even made a couple of thousand pounds selling off some of our possessions on eBay. I do actually intend to sell most of what we own before we go, keeping only the 20% or so of belongings we truly need or desire. This is a big thing for me as I want to learn to appreciate other things in life besides the things I own. Up until now I’ve placed much emphasis on my belongings; however, I want something different for my daughter. I want her to value something other than ‘stuff’ and I promised myself I would never say ‘do as I say not as I do’ to her. I think I should show her how to behave not tell her how to. So in 18 months we will hopefully undergo some vast geographical changes alongside some moral and spiritual ones too (for want of a better cliché), as we unburden ourselves, live in the moment and appreciate everything else the world has to offer.
At the beginning of this passage I posted one of my favourite pictures I took on our trip to the Outer Hebrides. I chose this image as it was here that I felt the most calm and at one with myself, once I managed to become comfortable with the almost deafening silence that accompanies the night sky. I remember having a clarity of thought that I haven’t experienced very often and I want to try and chase that experience for a while and see what I discover about myself whilst doing it. I think my daughter will grow more in these moments than she ever could dumped into the unforgiving rat race of school in the UK. I want her to find an inner peace that I was never able to locate in amongst all the stress and trauma of growing up. So before I launch her into the world of State education and all that goes with that, I’d like her to know peace, silence and meditation. I believe these are skills essential to us if we are to survive in the modern world.
Please stay in touch to see what comes next in our adventures. As always any suggestions on anything in regards to our travel plans is much appreciated. Luggage choices, accommodation suggestions or even ways in which I could earn a living whilst travelling are all appreciated. I’m currently developing an international toolbox of skills that will help me to turn my hand to anything whilst travelling the world and step out from that normalcy that has up until now made me feel trapped in my day to day life…. More on that another day though!
My daughter has a lovely wee friend and whenever they’re together I get these great photos of them, that in my opinion really encapsulate what childhood should be about…. lots of giggles, dancing, jumping and whispered secrets.