What have been some highlights so far?
In a nutshell, revisiting some very special places and sharing them with our children. Discovering even more – exploring and playing right alongside them – making brand new memories that are ours to share together for a long, long time.
Beyond the “nutshell”:
* Hawai’i – An Indian Banyan Tree – planted in April 1873 – standing over 15m tall, its 12 major trunks in addition to a huge core, sprawling and tangled beneath a canopy spanning over 70m in length with a circumference of 400m!!!; buying banana bread from a roadside stall on the Road to Hana, still warm from the oven; finishing that entire loaf of banana bread before getting anywhere near Hana; playing on the beaches in the moonlight; crazy strong shower water pressure; a haphazard and abundantly stocked labyrinth of an organic supermarket; incredibly comfortable beds; stickybeaking in rockpools with Ari near P’aia long after we were meant to be somewhere else.
* Los Angeles – a 1930s SodaJerks Hilltop Lunch Counter; a 1922 carousel all of five metres from the SodaJerks Hilltop Lunch Counter; eating a simple picnic lunch on the grass right next to a section of the original Berlin Wall (a part of the Wende Museum’s public art initiative that commemorated the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 2009. There is even some original graffiti remaining from Cold War era Berlin!!!); using the Sprinkles Cupcakes ATM (check out the free iPhone app.!!!); la-de-dah room service.
* New York – Tess making a concentrated effort to walk; Central Park and its incredible 1960s concrete playgrounds; The High Line – a park built on an elevated 1930s freight rail structure on Manhattan’s West Side – just magic; avenues and avenues of trees.
* Montréal – following the changing path of water, via natural and constructed means, making its way down from the top of Le mont Royal as we made our way up; innovative displays of both preserved and living specimens at the Insectarium; fantastic contemporary playgrounds offering physical, mental, creative and imaginative challenges; the honeycomb-inspired architecture (Moshe Safdie, 1967) of the residential complex Habitat 67.
* Quebec – the grandeur of Fairmont Le Château Frontenac; sharing the warm sun and the same mood together on the Dufferin Terrace; a 17th century Saint-Louis fort; “Machines – The Shapes of Movement” exhibition, in particular the work of Arthur Ganson, Rube Goldberg, Joseph Herscher and Marla Hlady.
* London – Tess’s and Ari’s absorption and awe in the contents of the Natural History Museum; Kew Royal Botanic Gardens and Kensington Gardens; Hyde Park; sheltering from the rain beneath the weeping canopy of an incredibly old tree; Whole Foods Market (look, I am who I am, things like this quite simply float my boat); the giant fluffy bathroom towels longer in length than I am so when wrapped around oneself, are so fantastically wide there is absolutely no need for the familiar, “Oh, I’ll have to do something about that!” that lesser towels seem to encourage; every bit of luscious greenery; surfacing from the Underground at the foot of Big Ben just as it was chiming 12 o’clock midday; Tate Modern – the journey there and the journey within; more amazing playgrounds; St. Mary Abbots Neo Gothic-style Church in Kensington and its surrounds; heated bathroom floor tiles.
* Hedon – a home away from home; spending time in the company of Scott’s extended family; climbing the spiral steps to the bell tower of the town church; a drizzly day at the beach at Filey.
* Brugge – sharing secrets with the weeping willows; daily sampling of superb chocolates and coffee; a morning canal boat ride; walking contemplatively with Ari around the grounds of the Beguinage Convent; watching molten sugar being transformed by hand into lollies; a lamp – oh what a lamp – for sale in a little shop of oddities!!!
* Paris – the opulence of the Opera National de Paris; watching the falling rain through our apartment window; sipping upon cafe noisettes at numerous atmospheric bars; Jardin du Luxembourg; the little ice creamery that serves cornets of ice cream shaped as flowers; Cité Enfants and Parc de la Vilette – a reclaimed industrial landscape turned into a futuristic park; ’baguette watching’ – it’s amazing how many have had their ends nibbled en route.
What is one item you wished you had of packed?
* Sard Wonder Soap.
What is the first thing you do when you arrive in a new hotel room?
* Unplug the telephones, relocate any bins to a height of at least 1.5m and check the cleanliness of the bathroom, turn on all of the lamps.
Apart from the obvious, what is one thing that you have not been able to do without daily?
* Hand wipes
Do you have any advice for fellow travellers?
* Pace yourself … sadly, there is such a thing as too much crusty, just-warmed-through-in-the-wood-fired-oven bread rolls with plenty of I-wonder-if-anyone-is-watching-just-how-much-I’m-actually-spreading salted butter!