Neuschwanstein Castle

I freely admit that sometimes our “research” into places that we want to go & see & how to get there can be a bit half assed at times, but our trip to Neuschwanstein was especially memorable.

We looked into getting a hire car, but it was going to be a min of €250 just to hire a small car for the day, plus petrol etc, so we returned to the idea of catching public transport, neither one of us wanted to join a tour group by bus. Not that we have anything against busses, but tour groups in general are not our thing, they normally require a lot of rushing around to be at certain places at certain times & you feel like you are being herded the whole time. I looked up tickets to get us to Neuschwanstein by train & bus & thought that we were all set, but alas it was not to be.

We left our accomodation just before 6, so that we could catch our train at 6.30am & also pick up a few things to eat for the day. Whilst we were ready to go at the time that our train was expected to depart, it was not. This delay meant that when we reached the next train station, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, to switch over, we ended up arriving 10 minutes later than it’s departure time, so had to wait for an hour for the following train. This slight delay meant that now the journey would be almost 4 hours (with wait times), instead of 2.5 for the train section alone. We looked into a bus briefly, but decided not to, possibly a good thing, given what happened later. We even looked into an Uber, but unsurprisingly there are no Ubers in that area.

The next train departed just after 9am. There was a lovely woman on the train checking tickets who gave us a tip to get off a couple of stations before ours, but then as the train was running late, she came back to tell us to proceed as planned & go to the Musau station in the middle of no-where, as we wouldn’t miss the bus from there. Well, it turns out there are no buses at that time, something we discovered after we had disembarked from the train & walked to the bus station. Another great example of what you read online not matching reality. 🤣
We had a few options either;
1. catch the train back (on it’s way past again) to some other random place,
2. wait at Musau for a few hours for a bus that may or may not come, or
3. walk from there to Neuschwanstein. We decided on the later. I get the feeling not that many people walk from Musau, Austria, to Neuschwanstein though.

The walk wasn’t too bad, about 10km, not as hilly as I expected, but it still took us a couple of hours. We stopped at a supermarket on the way, to grab some food, including some amazing Hazelnut schnapps/ schnaps, which was quite enjoyable. The walk was quiet lovely. Google maps does not recognise the bike tracks & instead instructs you to walk on the road, but it was fairly easy to work out where to go & then we managed to find a lovely walking trail (thanks to a local in one of the villages we walked through). All of us really enjoyed that the walk enabled us to enjoy seeing the Neuschwanstein & Hohenschwangau Castle’s in a different way than you would if you approached it via bus. To have the castles appear as you go down into a valley & then see them peeking out behind some tree’s, was really quite beautiful. It was quite lovely to be able to walk from Austria to Germany to be honest too.

Neuschwanstein & Hohenschwangau Castles
An awesome sight at both castles come into view

In the end we arrived at Neuschwanstein at 2pm, which meant that we were too late to go to both Neuschwanstein & Hohenschwangau Castle. If we had gotten there earlier it would have been ok, but alas, we did not & that’s just the way of it.

The kids were really excited to see the castle, it was one of a few MUST see’s on this trip, so we were both really happy that they got to see the castle. It’s quite an impressive castle to see in terms of size too. You have to do a tour to go into the castle, to wander the grounds outside the castle wall of either castle is fine without a ticket though.

With your ticket purchase (at the bottom of the hill, just follow the signs) you get an audio guide allocated within the cost (that you pick-up within the castle walls) & are assigned a time slot to go through with a bunch of other people, this way they can get a heap of people through at the same time who all speak different languages. You can either catch a horse drawn carriage or bus up to a certain point then walk the rest of the way or just walk up. Walking seems to be faster than bus or carriage, at least in the off season. When you get up towards Neuschwanstein, there is an area with a heap of lockers to put your backpack or any bag that is above a certain size (to be safe we left our backpack in the lockers) it’s a few Euro’s to use the locker, so make sure that you bring a few euro coins to use it. You get your money back when you return to get your belongings, which is nice.

The tour itself is only about 30 minutes or so & you are not allowed to take any pictures or video during your visit. You are basically herded as a group, through a small section of the castle, so don’t expect to see it all, because it isn’t possible, but what you do see is pretty special. I highly recommend being towards the front or middle of the group, because the “guide” who escorts you through & starts the guide at different sections may start it before you have even reached the room that is being talked about. You will only get to see the courtyard before your tour, so make sure that you go in early to have a look around, because you go out an entirely different exit & cannot go back to have more of a look around later. There are free toilets, just inside the castle gates where you show your tickets (or at least they are free in the off season).

There are a number of souvenir shops both at the bottom of the hill (you even have to walk through one, after you get your ticket) & there are a couple at the top that are still open in the offseason like when we were there, so there are lots of options for postcards or other small gifts if you so desire. We ended up buying a book about the castle from the first big one that they herd you through at the end of the tour, to make up for the fact that we couldn’t take any pictures, plus a couple of postcards.

I highly recommend taking a wander around the grounds & out to the lookout whilst you are there, where you can grab this classic scene of the castle.

Neuschwanstein Castle from lookout area
Neuschwanstein Castle from lookout area

Just as there are 3 options to get up to the castle, there are the same 3 to get down to the ticket area. If you decide to take bus or horse drawn carriage, down, it’s actually cheaper than the trip up. The timing of said rides didn’t follow any regular schedule when we were there, so if you are trying to catch other transport as we were, I highly recommend not relying on it. We unfortunately waited for the bus for over half an hour (it was supposed to run every 20) and then had to RUN down the hill, just missing our bus into town to catch our train. 😆

A lovely guy who worked at one of the hotels there, helped us out though & called a taxi for us, so that we could make our train. Our adventure didn’t finish there though, apparently there is a Füssen in Germany & another in Austria & the ticket I booked was from Ulrichsbrücke- Füssen, so after a taxi ride that cost a little more than the ticket back, we ended up back at Musau train station, as our taxi driver couldn’t find the right way to approach Ulrichsbrücke- Füssen station. Both of the trains back ran on time, which was a nice change & meant that after a quick stop on the way back to grab a few things to eat, we got back our accommodation & in bed around 10pm. A very long day, but glad that we still managed to get to Neuschwanstein.

Perhaps, if we go back that way, we will stay nearby for a couple of days to allow for our long transportation times? 😝

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Livin’ Life

This trip has been amazing so far!

Whilst there is some juggling with working, travelling, and worldschooling the kids at the same time, and general day to day living that comes with this life, it has been such an amazing experience so far. We have always had trouble staying still for any length of time & having to sit still with covid was hard (first world problems). I am so glad that we can release some the FOMO that had been building up over that time.

Even though we are only a month and a half in, we are already thinking about how to make this lifestyle more of a longterm experience. This style of living doesn’t suit everyone & I am sure that when we head back home I will enjoy some down time too, but for now, we are having a lovely time.

Do what you want to, opportunities in life come & go. What we do in life might not suit everyone, but it does us. Enjoy life, don’t endure it!

You are You
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Auschwitz – Birkenau


So, after much debate we decided to take the kids to visit Auschwitz – Birkenau. I have been preparing them in earnest for a few weeks, for the likelihood that we would take the kids to see the camps, but even as we got to the ticket window, we knew that there was a chance that we were going to back out, after all, the content is pretty heavy. The youngest is 9, whilst the oldest is 11. They have very different personalties, we thought that the oldest, who reads a lot of literature well above his suggested age group & is very logical, was likely to manage it not too badly. Whilst the youngest is an empath & feels she needs to right all the wrongs somehow. It is actually suggested that those 14 years of age or older go to Auschwitz – Birkenau, but we were clearly not the only ones with kids under that age.

Part of my preparation for the kids, involved readings of a few books, that I felt were reasonably age appropriate;
Maus I & Maus II by Art Spiegelman, both of his parents who went to Auschwitz. These books in particular raised a lot of questions. The use of imagery to tell the story seemed to resonate well. The images could be seen as being graphic, like the piles of dead mice which were understood to be people. The use of different animals to represent the different groups of people that were important to the story, was something that the kids appreciated. Nice to see my uni studies coming in handy years later with my own kids. 🙂
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak this one was difficult for the youngest to read, but the oldest once he got into the weird narrative style, seemed to enjoy it.
When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr, this one, the youngest read with ease & really enjoyed as the narrative was smooth & easy to understand.

I had thought of having them read the Diary of Anne Frank/ Diary of a Young Girl for a while, but it is suggested to read it at a slightly older age, given some of the topics discussed (including sexuality & I didn’t quite get to reading it all again to reacquaint myself with her diary). I feel that the oldest might be ok to read it, but the youngest, I will likely have read the graphic novel first, something that will make some cringe, as it is encouraged to read the book in full first before reading the graphic novel, but I am not much of one for rules.

IG Post from our visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau



Some info about the museum:

The museum grounds are open from 7.30am & up until 10am you can get tickets without a guide & do a self guided tour, which is what we were thinking of doing. There is a guidebook that you can buy from the bookstores (there are at least 3 bookstores that we saw, where you can purchase it from in various languages). It is the suggested resource to use for a self guided tour OR in our case I picked up a copy to refer back to for the kids school work.

If you join a tour, which you have to do if you get tickets from 10am onwards (the tour is 3 hours long) & have kids under 14 years of age with you, do not get a headset to easily hear the guide as they take you around Auschwitz. The Birkenau camp is without a headset, so everyone is milling around to hear everything. The kids mostly stayed at the front of the group in Auschwitz, so that they could hear what the guide was saying & for us that was fine.

We had spent some time discussing what we might see at the camps before we came. The kids remembered a lot from our discussions and also referred to what they knew from Maus (mostly), when were were there. Both G & I commented on how we appreciated the tour style, which is one of presenting facts. It is important to remember that this is a memorial & there is a level of respect you are expected to show as a visitor, not just in behaviour but attire too. As we were bringing the kids, we did our best to prepare them & made it very clear what the expectations were whilst we were there.

At the end I thanked our guide for the style of the tour & for not minding us having the kids there. He commented that it is recommended not to have kids under 14 there, but he appreciated that they were attentive (even if they couldn’t quite hear all the time) & that he really appreciated their good behaviour throughout the tour. Apparently, many bring their kids here without preparing them at all & kids misbehaving in any way here, is not tolerated well, at all. I strongly suggest if you are a parent reading this to do your research & make time to properly prepare your kids.

Whilst we were all hit by the enormity of the camps, especially Birkenau, it was a little different to the visits that G & I have made to The Killing Fields in Cambodia & the Hiroshima museum in Japan, which I would definitely not take the kids to, until they are much older. I can totally understand the idea of not encouraging kids under the age of 14 to attend, as a general rule. The age that the kids are does mean that they are not fully able to understand the enormity of it all. As adults we can process that a little more though.

The displays were tastefully done. There were a few pictures that showed some of those who arrived & who very shortly after were sent to the gas chambers. In fact most were sent to the gas chambers. Birkenau was basically built to facilitate their death camp needs where they could gas 2000 people at once, in just one of the chambers alone. They had several there.

There were some displays in Auschwitz of some of the personal items that people brought with them that were found when the camps were liberated, with the few that remained. Suitcases with names on them, because those sent to the gas chambers were lied to, and told they needed to leave their things for a little bit, so they labelled them to make it easier for them to find them when they returned. The displays of cooking & eating utensils, shoes, glasses & many braces, crutches & other prothesis on display, as well as some of the hair that they would cut off the women & use to weave into material. Many of the items deemed to be of value (and there was a lot, as many thought that they would be living in the camps, so brought their prized possessions) were taken from them on arrival (they were told to leave them on the ramps & they would be able to retrieve their items later).

Part of the tour of Auschwitz involved walking through one of the gas chambers there, as just before the Birkenau camp was liberated, they exploded the larger gas chambers in an effort to try to hide the enormity of what they were doing. The one we walked through in Auschwitz had been repurposed into storage, which is why it was not destroyed. However, they did still use other gas chambers at Birkenau right up to the time that the camp was liberated.

For more information about Auschwitz, I highly recommend visiting the museum website, which we personally found highly informative & helped us in our decision to visit & pay our respects.

“Auschwitz stands as a tragic reminder of the terrible potential man has for violence and inhumanity.” ~ Billy Graham

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Musings on settling in, in Wrocław

It didn’t take long for us to settle in, I figured it would be about a week or so & I was pretty much right. This doesn’t mean that we don’t still stick out, but I am ok with sticking out, I am not one of those people that seems to blend in much, in life & not knowing very much Polish does mean that you can’t blend in long here.

Knowing how & where to get food is a big thing, especially as we like to cook a lot, rather than eat out all the time.

We still go to various different shops to get things that work for us, mostly me, as the rest of the family can eat anything, but I worked out pretty fast that I can buy my bread at any of the local Žabko corner shops & not at the local Biedronka. The Schar bread here is nicer than the Schar bread that we get in Canada too, something that I remember from when I was last in Germany in 2019 too. Don’t get me wrong the Schar bread in Canada is still better than any other option I have found so far, but North American bread is so plain

Fresh produce is easily procured at most shops, but there is way more variety at Biedronka or another decently sized shop or at the plethora of fruit & veggie markets that pop up almost as often as the Žabko’s. There are plastic bags that you can use to bag your produce, but you can also bring your own reusable bags (which they also sell at grocery stores) or just not bag your produce. I do highly recommend not forgetting to bring your bags if you wish to buy the unwashed potatoes on special though, they create such a mess & even if you avoid direct eye contact, body language says it’s not something that they generally like people to do (the cashier today, cleaned the counter at least 6 times as she did my groceries).😕

Fresh baked goods are everywhere bakeries, corner stores/ Žabko’s, and grocery stores. Some items are pre-bagged, most others you pick out yourself & pop into wax coated or 100% paper bags. The kids love it & say that it tastes much better than anything they have ever had (except for Upper Canada Village bread). It probably has to do with the fact that even though Canada has less additives in their food than the USA, Europe has even less.

Cereal isn’t generally in a plastic bag inside a box, they just bag it & call it done. Unlike cereal in North America which is made by Kelloggs predominantly, over here it’s made by Nestle. I know that Nestle is a bit of a nasty company, but their cereal certainly isn’t as nasty as the stuff they call cereal in North America. Corn flakes are actually nice, which is a shocking reality. The GF ones are available most places too, even corner stores.

I really like the fact that food is generally in smaller more manageable sizes. Here in the city, everyone walks everywhere (or bikes, there are bike lanes on the sidewalks), parking isn’t easy either if you do have a car, so you walk to the grocery store etc & clearly having large items doesn’t work for that reality.

There is a simplicity to this life that is quite enjoyable.


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Dwarfs of Wrocław

Since G had his trip to Wrocław last September, we have been looking forward to seeing the Dwarfs of Wrocław, which are also called Gnomes by some, so excuse me if I confuse you by calling them both Dwarfs & Gnomes, as they are called both by people here (more often gnomes to be fair).

Wrocław is pronounced vrohtz-wahv (or in my poor phonetic spelling, which captures the way that I pronounce it, which is probably wrong to be fair, rawtz-love).

The dwarfs are more than just cute, they are a symbol of the anti-Soviet resistance movement (Orange Alternative) that helped to topple the Soviet regime in the 80’s. At that time they painted dwarves on walls. The brass statues started popping up in the early 2000’s & are created by an artist called Tomasz Moczek who is on facebook & has a website too. Each dwarf captures a part of the history & life in Wrocław, as well as commemorating the Revolution of the Dwarves.

There are over 1000 of the little dwarfs around the city & whilst there are maps that you can pay for, they only capture a few. They have cute little maps for kids, where they can collect stamps too from a few places, which is pretty fun. However if you are a little hardcore like us, the best way to find them is via an app, called Wrocław Dwarfs that you can download. I was told that it was only in Polish & that I would need to translate, but when I started using it, it was all in English, so I assume it is in both Polish & English.

I have been using our time out in hunt of the gnomes/ dwarfs not only to improve the kids observation skills, but also navigation & they are a cute way of teaching them the history of the area as well.

You should note that not all the dwarfs can be seen by the public easily, with some located inside or even at the tops of some buildings. Some of those areas you need to pay to gain access to & others you would need special permission to see (so you have little to nil chance of seeing, except in pictures).

Solidariusz Walczący
Solidariusz Walczący – Fighting Solidarity

The picture above is one of the many dwarf’s we found yesterday. He wasoutside one of the many Zabka’s around Market Square & is simply titled Solidariusz Walczący, which is part of the Fighting Solidarity series of Dwarfs. This one is depicted secretly broadcasting radio messages, there’s also a plaque nearby that mentions that he is there to commemorate the opposition broadcasters.

I love these little guys & have quite the collection of images already, so if you want to see more, feel free to follow our IG for more pics of these little guys & keep track of the rest of our travel adventures.

***

Further reading about dwarves can be found in the following links;
BBC – The cheeky gnomes taking over Wrocław
Orange Alternative Museum
Travel Breathe Repeat – The gnomes of Wroclaw, Poland
Journey Wonders – The Dwarfs of Wroclaw: Gotta Catch Them All!

They are also mentioned on the official visit Wrocław page, along with other suggestions of things to do & see here.

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Picking up keys

Here’s a funny story that I shared on IG. I am backdating this one to Sunday, because that’s when it happened & the blog posts I have to upload are already so many.


If you haven’t noticed, we as a family, like to embrace our faults & poke fun at ourselves. You can’t take life too seriously. I think it would be rather boring if you did.

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European Tour has begun

We didn’t tell many people that we were headed off to the Europe. So many still think it’s crazy to travel with Covid about & I get it to an extent, but covid isn’t going away & it’s time to move on. We are fully vaccinated, plus boosters & we appear to have dodged getting it thus far, even with us doing more & more this year, at some point I am sure that we will get it, but it’s really nice to be living.

We left Canada on Friday, flying from Ottawa to Toronto, then Toronto to Heathrow. Both flights were Canadian, so you had to wear a mask for the duration (except if you were eating). The Ottawa to Toronto flight was slightly delayed, but so was the leg from Toronto to Heathrow, nothing that caused a lot of stress, I think it’s likely more the norm.

We only brought carry on sized bags with us, I will explain more about that later, for those that are curious what we brought, but I have to say it’s really nice to have so little with us. I have been trimming down what we have at home, but there is still much to do. I think that by the time we get home & have had some time away from things for a while, it will be a little easier to let some more things go. Less is more!

The trip from Heathrow to Stansted was fairly long (only as we were so tired I think), but I am so happy that we got an Uber. The train would have been an ordeal & more expensive, I love that we managed to get an electric car for the trip. Dinner that night was a mish-mash of items from a M&S next to the Premier Inn that we stayed at, for simplicity, which we brought back to our room & ate whilst watching the BBC coverage of the Queen Elizabeth II’s passing. They were showing William, Kate, Harry & Meghan who had turned up rather unexpectedly & were meeting & greeting several in the crowd there. We had thought of schlepping it into Buckingham Palace (the gates at least) to pay our respects but I am glad that we just went to our hotel, had chicken legs, olives, potato chips (crisps in UK) and some juice for our dinner, with a side of Percy Pigs, to watch the telly. Grabbing something from M&S also meant less stress in terms of getting food at the hotel. We could make a booking for a few hours later, BUT there wasn’t any way to check to see if I could actually eat anything

We crashed around 7.30ish I think, with the kids sleeping all night & G & I waking up every few hours, before having to get up around 5am to get to the airport for our RyanAir flight to Wrocław at just after 8am (although it too ended up being delayed). We had attempted to do a check in online, which I thought had failed, when I received a message that we would be paying another $120 for boarding passes. Turns out we can’t get a digital ticket or even a print out because our passports have to be verified every flight we take as we do not hold UK or EU passports. I cannot express how relieved I felt knowing that even though it appeared to fail, it hadn’t, so next time I need to do the same, check in via the app, then show up & get them to verify us & all will be well with things.

The flight from Stansted was fairly unremarkable. I appreciated that the guy next to me mysteriously got up before we took off to sit closer to the front, allowing me to “man spread”, it was awesome. The universe made up for it though, when our Uber driver in Wrocław arrived, he was over 6 feet tall & I sat in the seat behind him, in the tiniest space for my legs.

Getting into Poland was a breeze, a couple of pictures for Geoff & I (none for the kids) & a scan of our passports & some stamps & that was it. No extra forms or anything else, unlike the links that RyanAir pointed towards & no questions even as to how long we were planning to be there for or how we intended to support ourselves (ie funds in accounts).

Our Airbnb is just outside the city centre area, but everything here is within walking distance, including the city centre. It’s a nice area, lots of churches/ cathedrals. The streets in this area are all cobblestone which adds to the charm.

After we got ourselves in & stuff somewhat set-up & unpacked, we went for a walk to explore the area/ for G to show us around, as he was here last year, such a shame that we can’t get to Ukraine though as well. There are so many little corner stores to get things at. Every block seems to have at least one, maybe more. The corner stores are either chains (Zabka is very popular) or independent. We found a larger Zabka near an atm eventually, so after cashing up (you can only get 1,000zl (złoty) at a time (in CAD that’s just shy of $279 CAD, currently) we headed in.

A couple of hours later with the help of google lens to translate labels & we had a few little bags of things (I brought reusable grocery bags with us), the cost of groceries in general is much cheaper than Canada. We bought bread that I could eat, some fruit & veg, breakfast cereals, milk & soy milk, jars of preserves, meat etc & it all came to 150zl which was about $42.00, which we were pretty happy with, especially for a corner store & for food that I can eat as well. The bread I can eat works out to a couple of dollars vs $8 in Canada.

Years ago when we travelled it was much harder. The first task was always to find someone who could translate my anaphylactic allergies for me. Then, armed with my allergies translated into the local language, a trip to the shops would take even longer, as I tried to decipher ingredients. Google Lens isn’t 100% failsafe, but so much less stress than our 6 months travel through Asia in 2010.

Google lens does have some awesome fails, like this one, which is now my favourite washing cycle (top left);

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Devilled Sausages

As we look to do more travel again, having a copy of favourite recipes online is much easier to refer back to, than carrying around my recipe book. All measurements are guides. As previously mentioned, I rarely measure anything when I cook.

This is a great recipe to use cooked sausages if you have left overs too

500g beef or pork sausages (I typically do about 6 for our family of 4)
1 large onion sliced
2 apples peeled, cored & cut up
A decent handful of raisins (1/4C?)
1/2C water
2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 heaped Tbsp Mustard (Dijon)
1 heaped Tbsp Tomato paste
1 Tbsp Brown sugar
Cayene pepper to taste

Brown the sausages until mostly cooked through, set aside & chop up
Use the oil in the pan (if too much drain some) to cook the onion
Once Onion is cooked, pop the cooked & cut up sausages back into the pan (with the onion), add the apple, raisins & sauce.
Bring it all to a boil, then simmer for about 10 minutes or so

We serve ours with mashed potato & some veggies

Devilled Sausages
Devilled Sausages
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End of the season

What an amazing year we have had on the boat this season, with things opening up as they have, it allowed us the opportunity to really enjoy the boat & try a few things.

Last year, we installed solar panels, lithium batteries and a new inverter. It all comes off at the end of the season, but during the season we love that we can go off the grid with our set-up. This year, whilst we were in NYC, Starlink sent out an email letting people know that you could order an RV version, which we did & it was a game changer. Between the solar panel set-up & our Starlink dish, we took remote work to a whole new level. In fact, the connection we have on the boat is better than what we get at home with our local ISP. This just justifies the need to live & work remotely on a boat, which is supported by those that we work with (which is nice, not that we really need that stamp of approval, but it makes life easier). Once word was out that we had Starlink, a few people that we know then went out to get one too. The great thing about the RV one is that you can switch it on & off as needed (a little more expensive, but when you aren’t going to use it for several months it helps, plus it’s supposed to move around, which it clearly does).

The boat that we have at the moment is a little cozy for 4 as a live-aboard, being a Catalina 30 MkII, but it’s not bad & didn’t stop us from making memories & taking a few longer trips this year than last year on it.

This year we joined our club in going on a couple of cruises, one was to Alexandria Bay & the other one was to Henderson Harbour. Alex Bay was a lot of fun, we almost gave up in going when we had some issues with the CBP ROAM app, but it was user error in the end, as we had lodged our application to come over the border a little too early for it to be approved (you need to be fairly close to US waters to have them approve). For both trips they did a little zoom chat with us on the boat, making sure that we were indeed on a boat & that there were 4 of us.

Coming back from both trips, one had to wish that Canada would have the same option in terms of an app, as you have to call Customs 1 888 226 7277 (1888CANPASS) & wait in a queue, often for an hour for someone to talk to you. You still have to do the ArriveCan app, but that isn’t something used to declare “officially” that you are back in the country. You are required to contact CanPass & give them all the details of the boat that you are on (registration, make & model) as well as passenger details (passports & DOB’s) & give them the code for your ArriveCan declaration. As much as it takes a little bit of time to get through to someone here in Canada (shortest wait for us was 40 minutes), at least you can use that time to tidy & sort out the boat & run off to the toilet (although, I pass the phone over to G to look after, because the last thing I want is to be on the phone on the toilet, especially with customs & immigration).

Alex Bay was quite a lovely town to pull up into, the town is a little tired in places, but quite the happening place (at least it seemed that way to us). The mayor & deputy mayor come out to see us all at the marina & make sure we knew that we were welcome & to please come back. People from town also came down to see all the sailboats, with many remarking on how they hadn’t seen so many sailboats in one place before. It was quite a surreal experience. The kids loved the scavenger hunt that Kelly, who is social director for the club, organised, which also encouraged everyone to spend a little money & support the local economy. I loved the art shop & of course got something small to support a local artisan. The kids on the other hand loved the popcorn shop.

The Henderson Harbour trip was a little different. HH Yacht Club is similar to the current club that we members of, although HH isn’t quite so far away from the town as our current club is. We had a lovely welcome from members of the club & enjoyed chilling out in the clubhouse with everyone else who came from Trident. The Christmas in July celebrations (a happy coincidence), in the area were a particular favourite, with fireworks that went on 20-30 minutes (just as you thought they were done, you realised they were just ramping it up another level). On Sunday night a taco dinner was organised for everyone, which was lovely & they were so good at catering to all my food allergies.

Besides those cruises, there has been time out to the islands to anchor out on weekend’s with other friends from the club, and to take a few friends out on the boat for a day trip here & there, as well as staying at the club on the boat whilst the kids did a sailing class in Kingston for a couple of weeks & attending a few other social events at the club.

It’s been a really lovely summer. I’m sad to see the season ending a little earlier for us than originally planned. Given issues with water levels dropping as they have & our personal circumstances, I am also glad that we aren’t pushing the season as long as we normally do. Extremely grateful for all the memories and fun that we had this season on our boat, Can Knot Agree. Rest well little boat & we look forward to seeing you back in the water again very soon.


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Homeschooling

Figured it was time that I wrote about homeschooling. There are a lot of sterotypes about homeschoolers, some of which certainly apply to some, but as with sterotypes, they do not apply to all.

We are the “Covid homeschoolers”, the ones who started our homeschooling journey in part, because of Covid. Homeschooling, quite frankly seemed like the best path to take as the shitshow unfolded & schools shut down in March 2020 & didn’t open until later in September. I decided over the summer of 2020, that I wanted to give homeschooling a go. It wasn’t a decision that I took lightly, but I am so glad I did, as we were able to maintain a fairly stable learning environment, unlike their peers.

The 2020/2021 school year was a rollercoaster, one day schools were open, the next they were closed, guidelines changed constantly. I don’t really fault the policy makers for the rollercoaster ride that it was, I mean no-one really had experience in dealing with a global pandemic before, but I was glad I could sit out the ride that I saw friends go through.

Those who find out that we homeschool & are still doing so in 2022, have mixed reactions, some think it’s really cool & others have a noticable change in demeanor, as they try to assess what level of crazy we are.

For the record, we believe in science (we vaccine including for Covid & mask), actually believe that Covid exists & are not religious fundamentalists. Homeschooling is something that we have stuck with because for the most part it works for us & the lifestyle that we like to live. Even before Covid we had a reputation at the school for being travellers, just because the kids were in school it didn’t mean that you couldn’t do anything. We joke that they probably have more stability now than they did at school (at least now, I actually make sure they do school work when we are travelling). It’s easier in some ways, whilst harder in others.

Easier, in that you don’t have to deal with other parents, or beaucratic school “stuff”. Towards the end of the kids stint in the public system there were issues with bullying & a “prank” by another student, resulted in months of recovery, which I admit had a role to play, but mostly it was Covid. I get it, the education system is massively underfunded & honestly I don’t have any issues with the educational instruction that the kids were getting, but sometimes change is good, especially when you realise that, that change is working for you.

Homeschooling is hard though. You are responsible for what your kids learn in the end, which can be a daunting reality. At first, I looked after all of it, but now we (G & I) share more of the responsibilites, which helps. Whilst the responsibility to teach the kids is sobering (it can be really stressful sometimes), it’s also incredibly rewarding to see growth & know that you were a part of that, more than you would have been if you had just sent them off to school like their peers. I feel way more involved in their education than I ever was when they were in school, because I am “in the classroom” every day. The classroom varies too, it can be done pretty much anywhere & we take excursions with more focus than we did before.

Society really needs to get past the idea that kids must be sent out of the house in order to receive an education with 20-30 other peers. That type of learning doesn’t work well for everyone, infact it works for less kids than people might realise. I get it though, it’s hard to take on that responsibility as a parent & it doesn’t work for a lot of families. Just don’t vilify those that chose to do it & equally so, homeschoolers need to back off with their judgement towards those that have their kids in the school system. We are all doing the best that we can.

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