The day that everything happened

So firstly I feel like Drew is the queen, being that he’s having multiple birthdays at the moment! We decided this to make up for ‘missed time.’ His actual one was spent on the road, next try we ended up driving up a mountain to take him to an animal sanctuary planning to find food en route, turns out there was sod all up that mountain other than RAIN. No sanctuary and no food, sorry little man. You know those situations where you feel like you’ve been driving ages to find food yet for some reason you CANT.FIND.ANYWHERE and the longer you look the harder it gets, everyone gets a bit hangry and no one really knows what they fancy and it ends up being the most unproductive outing ever?! It’s almost like you know an hour into your mission that it’s prob destined to be an epic fail yet you carry on anyway! Kind of reminds me of Harold and Kumars journey to White Castle minus the weed. In the end we found a supermarket, came back to the caravan made roast pork, cubed potatoes and ratatouille (when in France and all that…)

Even though it rained on Drew’s birthday (his second, second one 😆) we still saw some beautiful sights!

So back to today, headed for soft play, it’s raining again so this seems a good choice. Except the car loses all power on the way there and we have to pull onto the hard shoulder which randomly feels scarier on the other side of the road! After just a few profanities Ben puts on his hi-vis and sets out the warning triangle!! In the meantime I’m ushering the kids up a STEEP grassy bank to safety. (By the way they think this is awesome and carry on eating their snack boxes whilst mummy absolutely freaks out.) Then darling husband pipes up “engines gone bang and we’ve got no breakdown cover” …how bloody fantastic. So I begin wondering how long I can entertain the kids whilst next to a motorway for. Luckily after a call to the mechanic (in the UK) he starts playing around and gets it to work! (Engine hasn’t gone thankfully.)

At least the triangle came in handy

– Annnnd back on our way to soft play – hang on – MAJOR screaming meltdowns because the kids are telling us we’ve gone to the wrong one.. (I know what a problem to have eh?) Also..  hang on a minute we’re in France how do they know where an earth we are.. apparently as we had given them the choice at home of two soft plays of course they had chosen the opposite one to where we were. Ironically we get the kids to make a lot of our decisions for us because it can makes things easier, but it’s hard to police these things with three of them to be honest. 

Like the absolute mugs that we are, we get back in the car and go to the other soft play, (cue more crying because we’re leaving current soft play.) WTF. Turns out soft play was pretty decent and the kids did have a lot of fun, they played with a really cute French boy as they made a house from play bricks laughing with him and saying ‘Merci” every time they passed things to each other without a clue what it meant. Still it was very sweet and despite me saying (probably badly) that I can’t speak French the little boy just kept talking to me. I had no idea. My response was just ’oh how lovely’ or ‘yes that’s good isn’t it.’ I took it as a GCSE but like many other things in life that information is just never there when you ACTUALLY NEED IT.

Our block house at soft play!

We decided to go from here to the Cathedrale Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption such a beautiful cathedral built from volcanic rock, so dark that in the distance it stands out in the city and looks just like a silhouette. We went inside and it was magical. I’m not a religious person but this place really had feeling and it’s truly stunning! The stained glass windows, the chandeliers, candles, the silence just beautiful. It’s one of those things that words or pictures just don’t do justice.

noticed a heavy police presence in the city and a helicopter circling above, then further on saw the riot police. Wondering what was happening we instantly saw a mob of people charging towards us chanting and shouting. (They may have been peace protesting for all we knew but when you don’t understand the language it always feels threatening especially when you have the kids with you!) Heading to the car there’s another mass of people right by us, cars, shouting, beeping horns, women and men sitting on and hanging out of cars while casually driving around, we realised it was the aftermath of a wedding! Maybe that’s the norm here, but when you’re from a small village that was enough excitement for one day lol. I love cities and find them intriguing but have always said I really don’t think I could live in one. As we’re driving out we get stuck in traffic and see clouds of black smoke everywhere, turns out the protestors had set several bins on fire. Obviously not protesting about climate change then! As it turns out we chose to go to the city on the day of the anti Brexit protests!!

It’s left me thinking that times like this it actually kind of make you feel alive! Yes the kids have been hard work and we are all still adjusting but how grateful we are. Despite a few set backs it has been a lovely day. As I always think, regardless of wether some of the memories aren’t positive, the majority of the time we’re grateful for the experience itself and the opportunity to actually make these memories. I do today feel pretty grateful.

Hope you’re all having a great weekend, lots of love xx

A few of our fails in France & keeping the kids entertained on the road

Now I’d like to be coming on here to say what an absolute blast we’re having but we are apparently still finding our feet. 

For one Ben was surprised to learn that in some small French towns and villages it’s common for bars and restaurants to be open for random and limited hours. He found out the hard way after cycling uphill to a bar at 8pm last night. Still it got him out of my hair! You win some, you lose some. 

A swimming pool that wasn’t a swimming pool. Maybe some sites need to update their amenities or map as it turns out our first site din’t even have a pool. River yes, pool, nope.

Was this the pool maybe?

Having allergies in France isn’t really the one, especially when you can’t eat two foods that are staple diet here – MILK AND EGGS. Man do I miss crepes too, lucky for our youngest he doesn’t know what he’s missing! I love the sweet ones with chocolate and the savoury with cheese, egg and tomato yummmm! Though an awesome tip we were given today by an English couple was to get the Google Translate app which you can use to scan ingredients menus and everything really – ABSOLUTE GAME CHANGER. You may already know about this, I have mentioned I’m a bit of a technophobe so I’m prob slow to learn this! Yesterday we stopped at a supermarket and the boys had a ready made baguette whilst for me and Drew I bought one French stick, a pack of ham and made it up separate without butter. We will have to get some margarine… shouldn’t be to hard to find, it’s French invention right? 

Speaking of my lack of local knowledge we were in the Loire Valley yesterday without realising (only seeing signs as we drove out) we didn’t visit one vineyard or chateaux. That was a dick move as we don’t plan on going back, still it’s early days, lesson learned! Any tips of beautiful places to visit in the south please let us know as that’s where we’re headed next!

I also seriously wish that I’d bought the kids toilet seat with me because everywhere we’ve been (and we’re talking quite a few toilets so far) none of them have a seat? Might be worth knowing, I wish someone told me! Soap and hand dryers/towels also seem to be some kind of luxury here.

Of course there’s the toll roads, when driving though the middle of France we were weighing up going through the tolls or adding time to the journey therefore costing more fuel and we decided to go the more direct route with tolls and get there quicker. Unless you’ve got a decent coastal track and nice scenery then we guessed we might as well? Unless of course you enjoy monotonous motorways with kids in the car for HOURS. The endless requests for ‘mighty king song’ (lion king) on repeat. In the end the tolls for the four hour drive (longer with caravan) from Durtal to Clermont-Ferrand costed around 60euros in tolls vs the 1hour 30mins added drive it would’ve been without!

Murol near Clermont-Ferrand

This beautiful but bizarre country we are still getting to grips with. We also understand what people meant when they said the best way to see it is by motorhome as travelling place to place restricts you with a caravan as you can’t just pull up and a lot of the roads are quite tight. We can venture out once we’re at a campsite and set up which is great just not en route. 

Here’s some things we’ve done in the car to break up the journey;

As Drew spent his birthday on the road we still wanted to try and make it enjoyable so we stopped for lunch in a services to have our picnic we’d already made before setting off. We also bought a dairy free cake from the UK before we came out lit the candles and sung happy birthday from the roadside 🙂

Birthdays are pretty modest when on the road with limited space but we would rather spend on days out so this suits us!

Musical car statues – Pretty self explanatory, music on then everyone dances until the music is stopped anyone still dancing is out! The winner gets a sweet so this game lasted pretty well. We had to strategically let people win to avoid arguments, obviously.

Spotting colour/types of vehicle – everyone has a colour or vehicle to look out for. For the two year old this is mad easier by getting him to spot lorries! For older children you could look for makes and models, I remember doing this when I was a kid, who could name the car first!

The kindle/tablet – pre downloading educational games and some films. Once someone wins they pass it on, some games you can change the level so that it’s suitable for each child. For the youngest he just wants to be involved so randomly pushing buttons keeps him pretty happy!

Leaflet collecting. So our eldest loves looking through catalogues, leaflets etc. I mean the toy magazines keep him entertained for HOURS so when we’ve stopped at services or any local areas we have picked up all the tourist brochures. Even if they can’t read them they love looking at the pictures. Let us know what you do on the road to pass the time!

What it really feels like to sell everything for family travel

Chaos descended on us, 1 breakdown with a side of crazy please 🙈

What it really feels like to sell everything you own to travel

Now obviously we can only give our own personal account from our perspective, based on our opinions and experiences. We feel that its important to show the bigger picture of how it all came together (or not) for us! After all it’s our journey and personally we would much rather document something that we remember to be real rather than a heavily glossed over edited version of our lives. Also I’m a bit of a technophobe and not great at making it look super nice and pretty anyway, sorry not sorry!

Initially we weren’t sure which one of us came up with the idea or how we even decided to do it but around four weeks into it when our house had gone on the market I asked my husband “How did we end up doing this?” – “I don’t know.” Even though we were both on the same page and feeling driven to do it I felt like I should’ve remembered maybe a profound conversation we had amounting to us both being sold on it and agreeing to move forward.. Like the kind you might imagine having if you were to plan on selling everything and risking your kids inheritance on a spontaneous idea. Well I can’t remember so it seemed that nope, here we were really just going for it!

Strangely enough you may imagine that we would sit down and methodically plan and budget our route. (Note: This is what you probably should do!!) Except we didn’t. I think our notion to do it was so strong we felt that we wanted the lifestyle change that much we would just aim to sell the house and work on the trip after, as there’s enough to focus on with three young children alone to be honest. More so, we didn’t actually know WHAT we wanted, so how can you begin to plan when you don’t know what you want! Also because we stayed in Australia for six months before having children and actually ended up being too overcautious, at the time we were so worried about finding work and somewhere to live that we almost instantly settled with a rental contract and setting up work that even though we had the security we desired we actually cut ourselves off from travelling and finding out where we wanted to be. So drawing from previous experience we knew that over-planning could close us off to new opportunities.

Around eight weeks after going on the market our house has sold and we’re wrapping up for completion. We had both said hopefully it will go fast and we won’t have time to change our minds!! Well it did! Anyone who’s ever moved can probably relate to this, MOST.STRESSFUL.THING.EVER I mean where does all the stuff come from you never knew you had and yet it decides to unwelcomely present itself, what’s worse is you didn’t know you had it but now you do it’s kinda cute and you wanna keep it. I’m thinking seriously, we need to downsize massively. Get rid. So we scale down the belongings of a family of five into what we assume is a car and caravans worth of stuff, along with ALL the things you didn’t have time to decide their fate so you sling them in the car at the final hour of departure for good measure. It’s also funny what you get sentimental about, I mean we’ve sold our most expensive and treasured items yet here we are saying “maybe we should put the bag full of coat hangers in storage, because, you know, they’re useful” I think if ever you’ve had to do it I’m sure you’ll agree, sorting through personal belongings is really hard work. For days I remember wandering around looking at so many things, piles of random, but somewhat necessary things and not knowing WHERE TO START. Now I don’t think I’m really one to be giving advice on this as I feel like we spectacularly cocked up the process of moving, but in hindsight what I would say is this;

  1. Start now. Even if you haven’t thought about moving yet you should probably already start packing your things.. Or maybe at least begin downscaling your possessions.
  2. Clear storage boxes are like little saviours that will help restore some of your sanity when it’s drifting out the window.
  3. Plan meals accordingly, you never know if you have to take your oven to the skip and you’ve just sold your fridge freezer poor planning could leave you eating unhealthy takeaways for a week. APPARENTLY.
  4. Take breaks. Seriously, schedule in some time for a walk or meet up with a friend to take your mind off of the enormity of it all.

So we’re out of our house, and it’s emotional, we asked the kids to say bye and it was like they were popping to the supermarket “bye house” with barely a second glance. Where as I was labouring many thoughts and emotions, the first place we bought two of our children home to, the house they all spent their first birthdays in, first steps had been taken here, the first house we owned, a place we had shared many memories some of which with people who are no longer with us, the significance of closing the door on those times was actually pretty heart wrenching. Though I felt we had to be strong or we never would have left, and as the saying goes ‘keep doing what you’ve always done, and you’ll keep getting what you always got’ which is great if you’re content with what you’ve got. Though I have to say we were – with the exceptions of the niggling feeling of wanting to experience something different, a life that would afford us to spend more time with our children and allow us, just for a while to slightly slow time down. We couldn’t wait to be free of the financial burdens and responsibility that come with home ownership and the hours we were putting in just to sustain this lifestyle. Interestingly many people said we were so brave (stupid, maybe but not brave) to be doing what we’re doing but I wouldn’t say that’s how we felt as I think when you’re doing something you feel is right and something you want to do I’m not sure that bravery comes into it.

So we embark on our new journey and begin living in the caravan and initially, it’s not pretty – there’s stuff EVERYWHERE, no really you can’t move for the stuff. I’s like de ja vu we have all these items to sort out again yet this time we have to cram it into a CARAVAN, our worldly belongings. As one of my friends said it would be quite cleansing to scale back and really cut down on all the unnecessary items, I’m still hanging onto that as I feel we’re gradually making it out the other side and I’m starting to feel that she was right, we are beginning to see the wood from the trees! There’s generally not been much we’ve missed (space aside of course – remember we’ve got kids) I don’t think I could tell you probably half the stuff I got rid of and can also say I haven’t needed it either, so that’s a win. It’s a real period of adjustment still, we’re swinging between feeling liberated and free yet still hanging onto wanting the stability and routine of our old life. The children have been pretty positive about the whole thing though and whilst I think we need to get used to being in each others company constantly they have actually settled in pretty well and seem happy – as parents their happiness is priority so that at least feels like we’re doing the right thing for now. xx

Who are we?

I guess I’d describe us a ‘normal’ family. We’re a mum and dad to three young boys, we have just sold our two bed terrace that we’d outgrown to begin life on the road in our caravan.. wait we had outgrown our house so why move into a caravan?! Good question, we’re still looking for the answer to that to be honest and we’re hoping we find it along the way!

For us there’s no planned start or end or major things that we want to do or see we literally just needed a change of lifestyle. Do you know what I mean? We just wanted to break free for a bit. It wasn’t even that we didn’t like what we had already but more we wanted to discover, explore and to have an experience. Most of all it would give us the opportunity to spend more time with our boys as we realised how all too fast the time goes when our eldest started school.

You know the saying life gets in the way? It really does sometimes. At the cost of it causing stress from working long hours or opposite hours from your partner. Running from school runs, clubs, trying to maintain healthy dinners social lives, juggling the endless tasks us parents have to on a daily basis. It’s tough. It puts strain on the best of us. It got to the point where this inevitably took its toll and personal family circumstances combined led us to making this change. People have said it’s brave, I guess throwing your kids inheritance into a questionable future IS worrying but we don’t feel brave, we feel like we’re doing the right thing. In that respect it’s felt an easy decision to make. Like the universe had this in store for us, the stars aligned. I said to my husband one day, I guess at times it will be scary but I’m more scared of the thought of doing the same thing we’ve been doing. Trying to keep your head above water affording a UK property in the south east, paying your bills, having children and being able to maintain this is TOUGH. Hats off to the people doing it. Modern day life has become so expensive.

OUR FAMILY

Dad

Ben is my husband, he’s a scaffolder and hgv driver by trade. Now turned chief clothes washer and expert paella cooker! He’s a great dad and is so keen for the boys to experience more of an outdoor lifestyle! He enjoys car racing, fishing, bike riding and most things with an engine. Not to forget getting on my bloody nerves is his absolute specialty.

❤️

Mum

I’m Yasmin, mum to three wild boys! I have previously been a hairstylist for 14 years and educator in the later part of my career. Unsurprisingly I love to travel and I worship sunshine, it’s my fuel. In my spare time Im trying to learn Spanish and come up with new home education resources! I have this cool presenting style which has two sides – laid back motherly nurturer to crazed woman absolutely losing my shit. Not in a pretty way.

Me hanging out in my wardrobe

BOYS

We have three young boys Koa, Jax & Drew, ages 5, 3 & almost 2. Haha rhymes. They love getting up to mischief. They’re a great mixture of boys being boys yet very caring and sensitive. They love playing with sticks, cars, mud, puddles… they’re boys what more can I say?! They’re also the most feral beasts you’ve ever come across, not even joking.

How do we afford to do this??

There’s no magic formula for us, neither of us have one of those cushy jobs where we can work remotely and earn well – trust me I’ve looked!! Still if you find something please let me know guys! 😉

We owned our first house for 5years in which time it never really felt like home. Though we were fortunate to make money and have equity enabling us to sell and fund our trip. It won’t last forever and we will have to get real jobs eventually, no it wasn’t feasible for us to rent our house out though that would’ve been ideal! So here we are with a little time on our hands and a desire to see what we can and maybe find a new place to call home.

Stick around, we hope to be a friend, (hopefully) make you laugh and amuse you with our misadventures ❤️ xx