Our 3 week England trip began 16th December 2018. We were travelling back to the UK to renew our current immigration visas. The kids schools longest break is the summer and by then the visas would have expired, so the Christmas break was the next best time to go, even though we were fully expecting to freeze! Happily we didn’t aside from a few frosty days at the end.

The kids had been on countdown for weeks beforehand, excitedly counting down the days each morning at breakfast. Talking about who they were going to see and where they’d be going.

The last few flights to the UK we’ve flown with Thomas Cook. As a budget airline they’re about all we can afford with a family of 5! Our flight out was full and we did see other expats heading back to blighty for the Christmas holidays. Flight was good, kids behaved great. All happily stared at various screens, ate some rubbish airplane food/ snacks then even squeezed a quick nap in!

( I do have a blog about travelling with a special needs child – https://brummiemummystateside.com/2018/08/29/travelling-with-a-special-needs-child/ )

Landing time was 6am so around 90 minutes later we were stood in the car park at Manchester airport. It was pitch black, cold and drizzling. Izzys first comment about the UK was “Does it ever get light here?”!

The first of many random comments and questions about England from the kids. Leo in particular struggled to remember much about England since he was so young when we left. He had a lot of opinions about where Rob and I grew up! It’s a strange feeling when your kids don’t see the place you grew up in the same way as you do. As ex Pat’s I suppose it’s to be expected, the same with our American friends who change state.

Arriving at our first stay the kids did remember exactly where the toy room was and took around 4 minutes to empty cupboards and cover the floor in legos! This was the state of play for the next 5 days.

It was rainy for a few days but the kids still went out playing in the woods and the playground. They watched films and baked with nana and spent hours playing with cousins round the house.

Whilst with Robs parents in Leeds we got to do 2 Christmas days and present exchanges. Food wise there was the traditional roast Christmas dinner and also a buffet style feast! Yummy.

We also took the kids to a panto as a Christmas present – Rock & roll Cinderella. Leo adored Cinderella and Poppy was a bit in love with Dandini. Izzy loved all the singing and dancing. They all got into the shouting and foolery of a pantomine!

Next was Birmingham, my hometown. First up elf the musical. Kids got to go on a train which was really way more exciting for the Florida kids than it should have been! Passenger trains aren’t around in our beach town though so was a kind of novelty for them.

We took the kids for a traditional English meal on Christmas eve – curry. They shared a huge naan with chicken curry and rice, all happily dug in.

Christmas day was spent at my parents with family. Lots of presents to open and food to eat. I actually took myself of for a jog around the woods to get some fresh air before dinner. The kids walked with nanny and explored in the trees and bushes without the fear of snakes or gators!

During our time in Birmingham the kids got to go to soft play – they only waited 18 months to go back to Funky Monkeys 😃, enjoyed the Lego discovery centre, the cinema and toured the old police lock up. They also rung in the new year at midnight for the first time – we paid for that the next day with a hangover and 3 grumpy kids. Back to fake 8pm new year for 2020!

Lots of English treats were ate – party rings were a favourite along with frazzles! Food was definitely a hit with the kids especially sausages and Heinz baked beans!

Whilst we were with family Rob and I took advantage of free babysitters. We got to visit London after the Visa interview, Bristol and Liverpool plus obviously a night out in Birmingham with friends. It was great to have some adult time and not worry about finding family friendly places or bedtime. We walked for miles exploring the cities (not looking for primark each time, honest), ate at posh restaurants, visited museums and lazed around hotels and cafes. We even had pretty good weather so didn’t freeze while out and about.

Overall we had a great trip. The kids are still talking about the fun they had with family. It’s funny to be going on our ‘big’ yearly holiday to our old houses but we need that dose of home every now and then.

Showing our kids there is a world outside of nocatee where sometimes houses are “stuck together” as leo says, not everyone has a garage or palm trees in their garden and there isn’t a gang of kids waiting to play in a cul de sac. We live in a bubble which we are extremely grateful for and happy but we don’t want it to spoil our kids.

Till next time England……

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