The End of the Summer….

As September begins there is a definitely an end to the summer as the children go back to school and a routine emerges once again for all parents. There are packed lunches to be made, children to get up and out within a certain time and bags to be packed. There are no more PJ days when we all hang out until 11am watching TV just because we can. There are no more going to the beach on a whim, days. However, there is comfort in routine and I don’t mind the getting back to three meals a day instead of eating brunch or the definite bed time. I know that many parents will agree with me.

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Teachers do this every year. It’s a strange existence in a way. After doing this for 20 years, I still get the same nerves, the same worry about “have I packed my school bag.” It’s the buying of the school shoes (yes, I have shoes that I wear to school!) or the making sure I’ve been to the dentist/hairdresser/optician. It’s like a start of the new year but in September with “this year I will resist puddings at school,” type mantras!

I often make plans in the summer to get fit or to lose weight but it never happens! I enjoy the summer like a teenager (apart from all the cleaning and dog walking!) and make the most of the long sunshine filled days and lazy time with my family. I am lucky in so many ways and I feel blessed. This year was no exception and we have enjoyed a fun-filled summer holiday. This will be my last year as a parent to two school children as my daughter is in her last year.My last year of watching hockey matches in the cold or enjoying a sneaky hot chocolate whilst we wait for her brother to finish rugby training. I will miss that.

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My funny kids cooling their feet in the 42 degree heat in Seville!

I wonder how I will feel this time next year?

So to all of you making new beginnings, whether it be starting a new job or watching your child go off to their first day at school, I wish you luck and happiness. I also hope that you have made strong and fun memories of your summer to look back on with a smile. Have a lovely September. x

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Our Awesome Adventures series: The myths and sad tales of breath-taking Bavaria.

Leaving Lake Garda and Malcesine we drove through the Great Saint Bernard tunnel and Austria to get to our next stop in Bavaria. We all love history and we like to learn new things about the places we go. I had read about Neuschwanstein castle being the inspiration for the Disney castle and that it had been built by the mad Ludwig II of Bavaria. So, we decided that Bavaria would be a good place to stop for a few days. We stayed in a lovely apartment hotel in Fussen, the nearest town.

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Our apartment hotel in Fussen

Fussen is a typical Bavaria town with the older generation still walking around in traditional Bavarian costume. It is a great place to wander and stop for fabulous Bavaria food such as warm, red cabbage, pretzels, snowball cakes, sausages and Schnitzel. Yum! The weather was varied whilst we were there in July so you definitely need a coat and good walking shoes. It’s very pretty with different coloured houses and tall clock towers of the churches.

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Wandering in Fussen, Germany.
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Coloured houses and cobbled streets in Fussen, Bavaria.

There are two castles in the area built by the royal family of Bavaria. The first is called  Schloss Hohenschwangau which was the childhood home of Ludwig II and the summer residence of his father, Maximilian II and his mother, Queen Marie of Prussia. It is a mock medieval castle with yellow walls and spectacular views of the surrounding mountains.

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Schloss Hohenschwangau

However, the main reason to visit has to be to see the castle that Ludwig never finished called Neuschwanstein. He was obsessed with building it and personally bankrupted his family, although sadly he never completed it. It is absolutely stunning, perched on the cliff top surrounded by forest. I can see how the Disney castle took inspiration from this breath-taking place. We walked up to it and it took us about 45 minutes but there are horse drawn carriages if you prefer.

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Horse drawn carriages take you to the castle.

The inside of the castle is unfinished in places but you can have a tour around the different rooms. It is a very interesting place. Learning more about Ludwig, it was clear he was not comfortable in social situations and was obsessed by the works of Wagner, a musician famous by his operas of the period. King Ludwig became king at the age of 18 in a very turbulent and changing time. He died in mysterious circumstances having been declared insane. Reading more about him, I wonder whether he was autistic, a condition that wouldn’t have been understood in the nineteenth century. Whatever the truth, his life and death are all part of the mystery that adds to the magic of this place.

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Castle Neuschwanstein
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Summer toboggan ride
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Bavarian beer

As well as visiting the castles, there are many other things to do. Nearby, there is the Tegelberg cable car and nearby toboggan ride (summer slide) and playground which are worth a visit. We enjoyed a really fun day here and all loved the slide! There is a restaurant near the playground and we enjoyed a Bavarian beer.

The children also swam in the Forggensee which is the lake near Fussen.

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Beautiful sky over the Forggensee, Fussen.

We would definitely go back to Bavaria in Germany. We had such a great time. It had everything we wanted; great food, historical sites, beautiful surroundings and outdoor fun.

Our Awesome Adventures series.

 

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Our Awesome Adventures series: Malcesine and Lake Garda, Italy in July.

When one child wants to climb a mountain and the other wants to swim in the sea yet hubbie wants to relax and I want to see something beautiful, you know that your holiday plans are going to be tricky at best! This is what happened a few years ago and I decided to use the magic of the internet to organise an awesome road trip.

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Malcesine

I knew that we could stop off with some friends near Lake Geneva and that we wanted to drive so I could look towards Italy as this is probably the furthest we could travel in 2/3 weeks. I came across a town called Malcesine on Lake Garda and bingo! It was at the foot of a mountain called Mount Baldo (tick child one!)

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View of Malcesine from the cable car

Malcesine is a town in the North East shore of Lake Garda, Italy at the foot of Mount Baldo. It is a stunningly beautiful place with cobbled streets and Scaliger castle to explore. Imagine narrow cobbled streets with little shops and houses with orange tiled roofs clinging to the lake shore in the shadow of a mountain. That’s Malcesine!

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Hotel Castello private lake beach

I found a perfect looking hotel called Hotel Castello which was small and right on the shore (ok so it’s not the sea but tick for child two!) so I booked it for a week. This gave us a few days to get there and then a further week to make the round trip through Bavaria and France to home. This is a lovely family run hotel with amazing service and in my opinion, good value for money. We booked 2 rooms with breakfast included.

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View of Lake Garda from our bedroom

The weather was varied during our week but we don’t mind that. It was typical mountain weather with a storm one day and 30 degree heat the next. The children loved swimming and snorkelling in the Lake although they said it became deep very quickly and so was very dark in places. I liked lying on a lounger with a good book!

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Ten paces to the water’s edge!
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Snorkelling in Lake Garda
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Swimming in the Lake during a storm!

The town itself is great for exploring and we ate out at different places most evenings although the hotel also served delicious food. There were some good shops selling vintage items, clothes and local produce such as Olive oil, Limoncello and huge fruit and vegetables.

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Exploring the cobbled streets
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One of the shops in Malcesine

There is a castle to explore and the views from the castle were glorious. Then there is Mount Baldo itself. This was a great day out after lounging at the hotel. My advice though is to go early during the summer months, as the queues for the cable car are awful after about 10am.

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View over Lake Garda from Mount Baldo
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Spectacular views over the Dolomites

The views at the top were worth the effort. There are a few places to eat and drink here so we grabbed a beer in the sunshine. In the Winter you can ski so if you visit at another time, you will definately need a coat. There are many treks from the top; a walkers paradise!

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On another day we hired a speedboat for a spin around the Lake. This was the teens choice and quite an expensive one! This gave us better views of the castle and also allowed us to see a little of the coast. Lake Garda is huge so we also took a day trip to Limone on the other side of the lake. To be honest, we didn’t enjoy Limone as it was full to the brim of tourists and a battle to find anywhere to eat so Malcesine was perfect for us.

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Enjoying the speedboat

Malcesine. A pretty little town on Lake Garda. What is there not to love!

Our next Awesome Adventure was in Bavaria……

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