Cathedrals and bells

Rock of Cashel in Ireland

We have seen many cathedrals and churches on our tour. Every city, big town and small town has a church or cathedral. I will miss the chiming of church bells all over Europe, you get so used to it, it becomes part of your life. When I looked at all these amazing churches I thought of how, in Humanity’s effort to give God their best and trying so hard to show their devotion and building bigger and higher and more gilded, to honour Him, they didn’t always remembered about God’s grace, his unconditional, unearned, love for us. We don’t have to do anything to earn his love. Not even our best effort is good enough to please Him, only the blood of Jesus is enough. If you believe and confess that Jesus died for your sin, it pleases God and He will build his church with believers, people’s hearts and devotion, not buildings of stone. Matthew 16:18 in the bible says Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.

It was a Privilege and a Blessing to do this tour, we have truly experienced God’s grace and favour and blessing. We have been healthy and strong throughout with no major mishaps other than a few small upsets. Most times we were just at the right place at the right time to receive His best for us. So I give God honour and thanks for this amazing holiday and his provision for it.

Tintern Abbey in Wales

Cologne Cathedral. The Kolner Dom, Cologne, Germany

Triberg, Blackforest Germany


Church in Murren, Swiss alps.


Frauenkirche (church of our Lady) in Munich

Karlskirche in Vienna

St Marks Basilica, Venice

The Duomo, Florence

The leaning tower of Pisa is the bell tower of the cathedral of Pisa.

Church in Bonnieux, France.

La Sagrada familia in Barcelona, Spain

Church in Madrid

Saint Chapelle in Paris

The Notre Dame in Paris

Mont Saint Michel in France

The Belfry and church of our Lady in Bruges Belgium.

The Grote Church in Haarlem, Netherlands

Westminster Abbey, London

A Church in Bridge of Allen, Scottland

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Warwick castle

This is a wonderful family friendly castle with much to do and buy! Especially for younger kids. We loved all their shows. The display rooms in the castle was amazing with the life-like wax figures.

Our accomodation for the night: tents in the knights-village at the Warwick castle. It was lots of fun with fantastic food and amazing beds.

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Lakes district- England

If you’ve ever been to the Lakes district in England you’ll know what Psalm 23 in the bible means. This last destination was like the cherry on top of a cupcake. It is stunningly beautiful for kilometres on end. We were blessed to have one day of sunshine and these photos are the true reflection of the scenery. The nature and colours are so bright and beautiful. It is with sadness that we say goodbye to this place and reach the end of our holiday. Just one more quick stop at Warwick castle before we fly back from London. We rented a car in Kendal and drove around the area of Windermere and Ambleside as well as Hilltop house(Beatrix Potter’s house) before settling in our accomodation with a view.

We even got a spectacular full moon to end off with! I wanted to visit Miss Beatrix Potter’s house and we were very blessed to get a parking spot and a ticket to visit immediately. That was in the afternoon on a long weekend! I think everyone else was at the lake as it was a lovely warm day. We thoroughly enjoyed seeing the house and environment that features in her story books. Her life story is very inspiring. The long tailed sheep was quite a surprise to me as I have never seen this before. Almost thought it was a very large dog! : )

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.

He makes me lie down in green pastures,

he leads me beside quiet waters,

he refreshes my soul.

He guides me along the right paths

for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk

through the darkest valley,[a]

I will fear no evil,

for you are with me;

your rod and your staff,

they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me

in the presence of my enemies.

You anoint my head with oil;

my cup overflows.

Surely your goodness and love will follow me

all the days of my life,

and I will dwell in the house of the Lord


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Wow! Awesome. In love with Scotland, it is stunning. We stayed in a tiny place called Bridge of Allen just outside of Stirling, which is an hour by train from Edinburgh. We went to the Birnam wood forest in Dunkeld and as you can see it is picture perfect. We found by accident a Miss Potter memorial garden in the little town of Birnam. We had the most delicious scones and tea there (some had hot chocolate). Just look at the size of the Begonia flowers, they all grow gigantic here. As you can see in some of the photos it is cold and rainy. Once again our capsule wardrobe worked perfectly with thermals, long sleeve and warm fleece. Feels SO good after the heat we had on a big part of our travels. The forest walk was in perfect weather! Cool but the rain went and sun came out for the day. On our way there and back we went past Perth, but we didn’t recognise anything there! : ) We planned to stop and explore but our prime goal was nature so we missed out on seeing the other Perth (in Scotland.)

We went to the William Wallace Monument and looked a bit at the history of the Scottish people and the Battle of Stirling. Ryan was so happy to see the Wallace sword. It was a very enjoyable outing with a lot of climbing and walking.. We will miss Scotland and the beautiful nature, we will come back one day! I can’t believe that it is almost time to go home. It feels funny after such a long time on the road, won’t know what a “normal” day is like anymore. But I know we will soon fall back into the normal routine.

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London: part 2

Pussy cat, Pussy cat where have you been? I’ve been up to London to visit the Queen…

To be honest London was a bit overwhelming to me – public transport is good, but a lot of times so packed with people, that you have to wait for the next train and we found it expensive. It is an effort to get anywhere and it is far to walk to see all the sights. The noise and the people makes for a stressful time. But in saying this, we have seen wonderful things and had a great time. Not all the busses and public parks were overrun with people. Sometimes the bus is better even though it takes longer because you can sit and see more of the city. We took more time and didn’t rush and saw far less than we hoped, but it was good. We went to Doxa Deo church, located a bit out of the city-rush in beautiful Surbiton. We loved the service and the people greeted us warmly and made us feel welcome. Afterwards we went to a pub, around the corner, for a Sunday lunch. (Poor chef had a lunch crises so we ordered fish and chips, ribs and pizza,)

It was so great to see all through Europe and England these bee and bug homes, some very creative. When I think about something like this in Australia all I see are spiders making nests in there!!

We decided to visited the Victoria and Albert museum because of the variety of things they have in the museum. It is also free. It was a lovely museum but we will have to come back one day as we couldn’t see everything, it is very big. There was a nice display of the history of fashion. We also went to the Diana Princess of Wales memorial fountain. It is a lovely big circular river that flows in 2 directions over different landscaped surfaces, all made from Cornish granite.

I loved the changing of the guard ceremony- at Buckingham palace. We stood along The Mall and looked as the Guards on horses trotted up the road and then the marching guard came along with a band and all. It was very flash and a huge crowd of people were looking.We enjoyed the squirrels in the park, they are gorgeous- some people fed them peanuts.

While in London Amelia did a couple of ballet classes at the Pineapple dance studios, they are very accomodating and friendly towards visitors and have professional teachers. The Advanced ballet class times were conveniently over lunch time and afternoon so we didn’t have to try and travel at night! I enjoyed watching through the window.

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London: part 1

What wonderful coolness and rain after all the heat in Europe- We were a bit upset because we were not well prepared for the rain and were very wet after the London tower visit and city walking. Everything inside my back-pack was wet! Our feet and socks were wet..We started early with our booked tickets at London Tower and got to see the Crown Jewels without waiting in a queue. It was a wonderful experience to see it.

Our journey to London was once again eventful. After leaving early we got to Amsterdam to board our train that connects with the Eurostar to London, 20min from Brussels we stopped on the tracks and we knew…waiting for the announcement, this time in 4 languages: There was a train/person accident at the next station and we are not allowed to go on. We waited for an hour on the tracks, this time in cool weather thankfully. But did not get permission to continue. The train went back to the previous big station where there was chaos due to no trains getting through. They connected another train on to a train due for Brussels on a different line. And about 200 of us squeezed in to all the empty seats. By Miracle we got 4 seats together and off to Brussels slowly. So we missed our Eurostar train (this is booking only trains.) They were very nice and started to rebook about 200 people in all the empty spots of the Eurostar trains due for the rest of the night. We again got into the very next train all sitting together, and arrived in London at 8pm. We were so tired from the long day of travel going wrong, but thankful that we were so blessed in all of it.

Palace of Westminster/ Parliament house and the tower in scaffolding.

Is this the face of a sad or happy clock?- it doesn’t chime and is full of scaffolding, but at least it is being renovated. We will have to come again one day just to see and hear it when restored. They expect it to be finished and chiming again in 2021…

Below is Westminster abbey where we attended the Evensong church service. It was beautiful!

We also went to Kew gardens and loved every minute of it. I won’t put too many plant photos on!

Amelia did a few more ballet photos. We battled to find a telephone booth that was clean and undamaged and on our route.

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Netherlands: Haarlem

We decided to stay in Haarlem as a base and are so happy about our choice. Haarlem is a beautiful, quiet town with lots of beautiful canals and Amsterdam is only a 15-20min train ride from here. It was so lovely and quiet we decided to brave it on bicycles to explore the town- Happy!! It is easy, flat, no effort and safe to cycle here. There are dedicated cycle roads as in all of the Netherlands and bicycles has same status as cars. That also meant we had to cycle in the direction of traffic on the right hand side of the road. Luckily we have been walking and driving in Europe for a while now and were used to it. Because of the holiday season there were not a lot of bicycles on the road when we went out early, so we didn’t cause any near-accidents. The cyclists here are going very fast, it is scary! We loved our cycling trip through town and got to see so much more than what we would have been able to do on foot.

We didn’t get to go to any of the touristy Windmill towns, because of time, but this windmill in Haarlem is just beautiful, it’s name is Adriaan. Amelia also loved the ballet shoot here.

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Netherlands: Amsterdam

We thoroughly enjoyed our short visit to Amsterdam. We decided to visit the Rijks museum and loved so many of the paintings that I might have to make a seperate little photo book just of all the photos we took there. This was one of the best art museums in my opinion. And ps. they have a “hall” of loos….it made us ladies so happy. Read my Louvre post if you don’t know what this is about. The Central station is lovely and has a weather vane clock that moves as the wind changes. We also visited the Museum of handbags but weren’t allowed to take photos- it is very small and a bit expensive but to us it was very interesting and worth it, I can see why some people would complain.

This garden is at the back of the Rijks museum and are so beautiful despite the heatwave they’ve had this summer. Lucky for us it was overcast and rainy, I loved the cool wind in my face!! So here are only a “few”of our favourite paintings.

And more- I want the delft birdcage!

So after our long time in the Rijks we ventured outside to admire the canals, and you can’t not get a stunning shot, it is just so beautiful. We were famished by then and went to the smallest little hamburger shop with the best hamburgers in town- it was amazing – just as good as the ones we had in Bonnieux or better? We were extremely careful of all the bicycle traffic and add to it trams, cars and motorbikes it makes for a constant awareness of your surroundings. It is amazing how bicycles are so well catered for in the Netherlands. We loved using the trams, it is modern, orderly and people are very helpful. We bought tickets but no tickets came out of the machine- within minutes an official saw that we were confused and didn’t know what to do, he came to help us and we were issued with new tickets at the office. No Worries mate.

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Belgium: Brugges

I think this is possibly my favourite town of our tour but I will update my thoughts at the end of it. The canals and the old buildings are stunning. I loved walking through this old town. The weather was perfect- nice and cool but not too cold so you can wear a light jumper if you want to.

We went for a canal boat ride, it was not too expensive and it was the best money I’ve spent. We loved seeing the town from a different angle and the boat experience is always nice. There was a modern art exhibition in town. The big whale was made from old broken things. The thing I love most about the European cities are the church bells that ring so often, it becomes part of your life.We’ve heard it now for weeks everyday. In Brugge it is extra special as there is a carillon and the tunes it plays at certain times are amazing. I will so miss the bells when I’m back in Perth!

We loved the shops in Bruges there are a lot of creativity and nice-to-look-at arty things and of cause the lace are exquisite. My family had to drag me away from the antique markets. I’ll have this teapot please! The next photo is a toolbox barbecue/braai.

This road bridge lifts up to let the boats through. A little bit like the rail crossings in Perth. Ernest liked this beer, the Bruges’ fool, I mean the beer not Ernest. Two things we really enjoyed was the Cote D’or chocolate slabs that you can buy at the supermarket very cheap and a spread called Speculoos- looks like peanut-butter but is a spicy biscuit flavoured spread-no nuts. I will ask my IGA if they will be so kind as to bring it in. With all these sweet things it’s no wonder I have gained a bit of weight!

The men keep seeing all these amazing cars. There are some wealthy people out there.

The Belgian people has a good sense of humour, as we found with the Germans as well. Their adverts are so funny and sharp. You will understand this advert if you are Afrikaans- speaking. It’s about borrowing money for a new hobby, before it’s too late. Om geld te leen vir n stokperdjie voor dit te laat is.

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Belgium: Brussels

Finally we got some cool weather and rain as well, it is so much better now! We only got a “taste” of Brussels as we stayed overnight and had the afternoon to explore. So naturally we started with the most important stuff, the market square and the chocolate shops. I think this town square is in a quarto with Prague, Rothenburg ob der Tauber and Bruges. Hard to choose the prettiest, all different and unique.

I read about the chocolate tours in Brussels but thought it too expensive, then I came across this website/blog that describes a self guided chocolate tour for much cheaper. We followed their ideas and after the first shop which in fact was the best one, we had to stop eating as it was so rich and sweet we could do no more. We had 3 each and it was really very nice. We decided to buy 2 each at the next shop on the list which was a shop or 2 down and kept it for later. That was a very lovely shop too with different packaging and very pretty boxes, their chocs was just as wonderful. I tried an Earl grey and a violet one, the hazelnut pralines, speculoos and caramel and chock mousses all got good feedback from the family. We didn’t go to any other of the chocolate shops they mention, but we did see them as we explored Brussels. I think if you stay longer you can do a shop a day! Here is the link to the Earth Trekkers’ Self guided Chocolate tour and other things to see in Brussels.

The next important thing on my list to see in Brussels was the Music instrument museum(MIM) and we were not disappointed, It must be the biggest selection of instruments in the world. Most of it was behind glass so the photos didn’t come out well, only a few to show. But if you love music you should not miss this place. It was not expensive, as kids go free. This is also the one place you definitely have to take the audio guide as it plays music of the instruments. We went very late and only had an hour and a half and didn’t take one! Didn’t know they would play music. Some kids had theirs on quite loud so we heard a bit of it second hand. We rushed through 4 levels so we could see it all. I wished I had more time but glad I saw it all.

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