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Category: England

Glamping in Snowdonia National Park

Camping was initially on the cards when we planned our stopover at Snowdonia National Park, but quickly realised that most camp sites only rented out tents and sleeping bags – but…

Camping was initially on the cards when we planned our stopover at Snowdonia National Park, but quickly realised that most camp sites only rented out tents and sleeping bags – but we needed other camping essentials for a comfortable experience. With a four year-old and a one year-old with us, we decided not to rough it out in the chilly weather. Snowdonia is known to be cold with super strong winds. We needed to stay warm while having the thrill of being close to nature.

Without searching far, we found the perfect spot at Pant Hwfa Farm in one of their glamping bell tents. In case you haven’t already heard, “glamping” is the fabulous reincarnation of the classic camping experience without the need to pitch your own tent or set up your own rickety camp bed. It’s an ideal choice for those looking for a bit of a rugged experience without compromising on comfort.

We arrived at the farm passing through narrow countryside roads and up a hill slope overlooking acres of farm land. We found some sheep happily grazing and unperturbed at our arrival. Our bell tent opened into a spacious and well-designed space for our family. It had a queen size mattress and two single mattresses all fitted and complete with fluffy duvets, a drawer cupboard filled with proper cutlery, Dutch ovens, a portable stove, a kettle, picnic mats – practically, all the essentials you will need for a cosy stay.There was even an icebox to keep our groceries fresh, a big dispenser of drinking water, hot water bottles, throw blankets and leather cushions for seating. Just outside the tent is a fire drum for cooking and a table and bench with fairy lights for a meal out in the open.

On the evening of our arrival, the winds were so strong that we couldn’t start a fire outside, so we had to cook a quick meal of pasta and meatballs in the tent. Unlike dome or A-frame tents, the bell tent is massive and we did not need to bend over to walk or cook. The space was just right for our small family. We huddled together and slurped up the warm meal in minutes!

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That night, we filled up our hot water bottles and tucked into bed for an early night. The children snored off very quickly making a soft symphony in the quiet of the night. At 5am, I woke up and decided to take a peek at the night sky and was duly rewarded with star studded skies. The soft gentle wind in the stillness of the night was incredibly special, so special that I didn’t go back to sleep. Not long after Terence woke up and started a fire and we sat by the fire and waited for the morning sun to peak.

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By 6am, the birds broke out in singing, the crisp morning dew set in and the sheep started grazing again.

Then the children clambered out from their warm hiding and sat by the fire while roasting marshmallows as we cooked up some eggs and sausages for breakfast. Seth wandered off looking for branches and twigs to pick up while we cleaned up after brekkie, camping style – bucket and water system.
Then we settled back in the tent for some card games and slowly crept back into bed for a late morning snooze. What piggies! It’s rare to find holidays with no agenda but enjoy each other’s company and rest.

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We did some exploring around the national park that afternoon and in the evening we were back at our tent. We cooked a hearty stew in the Dutch oven and for supper, we sipped hot chocolate with our legs tucked into the duvet as we told stories to the little ones. It was cold and windy outside but we were warm and toasty – bliss!

Camping is awesome, but consider glamping if: 

  • It’s your first time sleeping out in the great outdoors 
  • If you’re traveling with young children  and you want a bit of comfort and convenience for your little ones. Camping is a wonderful way to spend time with the family. You can teach them about nature, how to start fire and make smores and how to cook a simple meal over the fire. 
  • The weather is not great and you need a snug shelter for the night but still be able to start a fire and do all things associated with camping. 
  • You’re traveling for a long period of time and don’t have all your camping equipment with you. Sometimes renting equipment can be expensive or you may not find everything you need. 
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Dream Come True

(Guest Post by Terence Ooi)  As a boy growing up, soccer pretty much consumed my life. I had many dreams and a visit to Old Trafford was on top of…

(Guest Post by Terence Ooi) 

As a boy growing up, soccer pretty much consumed my life. I had many dreams and a visit to Old Trafford was on top of the list. Those of you who know me, I’m a huge MU fan, though my enthusiasm today, cannot be compared to what it was years ago. I was probably a real fanatic then.

I even once contemplated and said aloud – “I just want to be the gardener at Old Trafford”. How silly and impetuous!
This dream once died, revived, died and…revived. It did seemed too faraway, or probably not possible. Well, just a couple days short of the New Year – I walked, toured and visited the Theater of Dreams. It was beyond a dream come true. It was my Disneyland. What I’ve seen only on magazines and pictures, was now reality right in front of me. Our tour guide mentioned countless of facts about United, and I nod to most of them in agreement to what I’ve read or known. Stretford End, the players dugout, their changing room, their friendly banter and the treble – were all sung and “glorified”. We even had a mock walking out from the dug out to the pitch, with cheers and singing (all recorded) from the fans. It’s still pretty vivid in my memory – never imagined my wife would have tagged along too. But she did say – “she enjoyed it!”

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White Christmas At Huddersfield

BBC reports that in 4 years, this is the first time it has snowed just before Christmas making it a white Christmas this year in Hudderfield, England. All that chime…

BBC reports that in 4 years, this is the first time it has snowed just before Christmas making it a white Christmas this year in Hudderfield, England. All that chime about global warming, I can be sure it’s not only global warming but it’s a prayer answered! We woke up to a white cold wintery day with the sun shining every so brightly on the coat of white fluff. After wishing Terence a Blessed Christmas, I scrambled down to find Aunty Kim sitting on her leather chair sipping tea.

We had come all the way from London to spend Christmas with Aunty Kim, Uncle Philip and Antony at their home in Huddersfield, approximately 4 hours from London. Their home is set in the countryside overlooking rolling hills and acres of green pastures. A cozy fireplace welcomes us in the living room with a typical Christmas tree with a shining star set on top of it. The home is decorated very Victorian like with pretty floral designed carpets, bell shaped lamps and leather chairs with big arm rests.

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Since arriving, it has been a bliss – feeling all homey and warm and a serve of the ever tasty curry fish and chips. Terence has been raving and craving over the battered fried fish and the delicious thick and hot curry sauce. I must say – I was not disappointed at his rave, it was mouthwatering to say the least.

We made some hot toasts and suited up for a walk in the woods since the sun was out. We trudged pass small streams, walked on ridges and came up to a reservoir which was practically frozen from the cold. We made snowballs, tossed and swung them at each other and smashed them into the frozen waters to make pretty smashing designs. Met a couple of neighbours along the way, played with their dogs and carried on. We slipped and slide on the melting snow and finally crashed on the white fluff to make silly snow angles. Laughed, snickered and took loads of pictures to remember our walk in the woods on Christmas morning.

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And in keeping to tradition, Christmas and all its festivities would not be complete without a turkey, Aunty Kim roasted turkey with sausage stuffing and made ‘pigs in blankets’ and stuffed tomatoes and mushrooms with the rest of the stuffing. We had a table laden with a huge bird, roasted veggies and potatoes. We had so much to eat, yet that wasn’t the end. We had flaming Christmas pudding and apple pie for desserts which left us dizzy not from the brandy but from the plateful of food we had. Thankfully dinner had nothing on the menu. We fasted the next 15 hours before our next meal!

Thank you Jesus for a amazing Christmas treat, above all for giving us life and life abundantly…!

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Exploring London

Our day started with a hunt for winter boots as the first signs of snow herald our arrival. Being on budget travel does not permit us to splurge – so…

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Our day started with a hunt for winter boots as the first signs of snow herald our arrival. Being on budget travel does not permit us to splurge – so our hunt excluded shopping on the West End of London. Instead Chern recommended a place called Primark where she got her boots for only 7 pounds. Much to my delight shopping, everything was a steal and hard to resists. I finally found a pair for 5 pounds! Ah joys of great bargains.

Next, we hoped to catch the Queen at the Buckingham Palace for a cuppa tea but was quite unfortunate. Even the guards didn’t come out to play today – it was apparently too harsh a weather for them. Ah well – so we thought we could feed some pigeons at Trafalgar Square, again much to our dismay not a pigeon was found fluttering in sight. Wonder what they did to get rid of them! Sights were pretty nonetheless. European architecture is something I’m trying to appreciate and understand – especially since I’d be roaming in more than a couple of castles in the next few weeks!

The Big Ben and Westminster Abbey pretty to behold. It still startles me how old London buildings are and how well they are taken care of. Each building had a story to tell and each echoes a different line of history. This we found true as we were walking down the street on the West London and stumbled on a town house that Benjamin Franklin used to live in – how surreal indeed.

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Around London

Did I tell you that Chern is a great host?! Well she is! She gave up her room for us, made sure we had hearty breakfast before heading out and…

Did I tell you that Chern is a great host?! Well she is! She gave up her room for us, made sure we had hearty breakfast before heading out and made us packed lunch so that we didn’t grow hungry walking the streets of London! If you don’t already know, London is an expensive city to holiday in – so we try to save where we can. And packed lunch is awesome! Today we had tuna and corn sandwich overlooking the river Thames & the London Eye. Whilst feasting on the sandwiches, the cold had a bite at our fingers too… we quickly scurried for something warm at the Christmas Markets.

Little make shift shops lined the walkway along the Thames, each with its own design and flavor. Family come in throngs all bundled in warm coats, scarves and beanies as they hopped from one shop to another. The market was laden with Christmas goodies like German sausages, mulled wine, hot chocolate, Christmas candies, pretty trinkets and even Spanish churros. The buzz of Christmas cheer filled the air…

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We spent the late afternoon watching the sun set over the Thames and stopping off to watch buskers do some silly stunts. We were purely entertained by the showmanship of these street entertainers and our ability to brace the cold – laugh and cheer with glove fitted hands (clearly our claps didn’t make much noise!)

Our great host had another surprise for us – she had earlier bought Lion King tickets as Christmas presents for us. I was ecstatic as I remembered watching ‘The making of Lion King the Musical’ on TV when I was much younger and was in total wonderment at the stage play and props. It was my chance to watch it live now! As surreal as the thought of actually being in London, Lion King was a major dream-come-true for me.

Staged in Lyceum Theatre in West End, London, the 2 ½ hours show left us awe-struck and enthralled. The props were incredibly amazing and intricate Set against the majestic plains of the Serengeti and to the evocative rhythms of Africa (especially by Rafiki the baboon), this Disney’s multi-award winning musical raised my expectations of theatre. The show was a spectacular visual feast of dazzling animal characters, bursting colours, stunning effects and enchanting music. Everything in the theatre was electrified; the audience stuck to their seats throughout the show and burst in applauds as the actors came out for a bow. Bravo without a doubt!

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London With Friends

London is famous for its museums, fortunately the Natural History Museum is free for entry. We spent a good 3 hours exploring the different halls from mammals to dinosaurs to…

London is famous for its museums, fortunately the Natural History Museum is free for entry. We spent a good 3 hours exploring the different halls from mammals to dinosaurs to planets and the earth beyond. Massive re-constructed bone structures and life-size replicas filled the museum, knowledge oozed from every corner and inquisitive minds got their feed of chunky info.

Next stop – Hyde Park. Winter wonderland at Hyde Park exudes the very flavor of how Christmas is portrayed on telly. Carnival games, trails of food stalls, Christmas goodies and yummy hot drinks. Everyone is out to celebrate. There was even an ice rink with graceful skaters and those just fooling around. We walked the entire carnival hunting for cheap hot choc to warm our bodies. Cold pasta for lunch merely filled our tummies. Finally we found a shop at the end of the carnival selling a cuppa for 2.50 pounds.

We took a leisurely stroll to the other end of Hyde Park passing by a half frozen lake with ducks wadding at the ridge. The other side of the park looked pretty deserted especially when the entire extravaganza was happening on the other end.

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Dinner was treat at Michelle’s place. I just realized we didn’t take much pictures with her – but dinner was a bliss. She cooked up a storm of Asian delights in her quaint lil home just after Ealing Braodway station. It was a cozy get together with her in-laws and a couple of other friends to join us. Clement has grown since the last time I saw him as a baby – now he’s running, chuckling and speaking a lot of French. Edgar the new member to the family is a bundle of joy. He coos and bobs his head when you talk to him and fits perfectly into my arms – making it really easy to carry him. Michelle and Vincent are doing well and it’s a joy to see her come this far with a very nice place she calls home.

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KL To London – 2 Month Adventure Begins!

So we have left on our 2 month adventure and I haven’t had the slightest free time to blog before I left our home country – good ol’ Malaysia. Lots…

So we have left on our 2 month adventure and I haven’t had the slightest free time to blog before I left our home country – good ol’ Malaysia. Lots of spring cleaning, washing, packing and meeting up with family and friends – by golly it seems as if we are migrating but we will be only gone for 2 months!

A snapshot of our journey – “Our Europe trail starts from London where we will celebrate our first white Christmas and experience the irresistible Boxing Day madness to Edinburgh for the countdown into 2010, then moving west to Germany, Austria, Hungary and finally to gorgeous Greece. The next half of our adventure takes us to South Africa traveling from Johannesburg to Cape Town in hope to steal a peek and be in the company of the magnificent Big 5’s and (possibly) camp in the open plains – (that’ll be our ultimate camping adventure!)”

Saying goodbye was the hardest, but an irresistible itinerary awaits us. With lots of hugs and (uncontrollable) tears, Terence and I bid farewell to my family and headed to the boarding room at LCCT. We had looming thoughts of how we would survive the 14 hour flight on Air Asia X. Picked up a few nasty comments about seats being too small and not able to recline fully – we braced ourselves for the worst. Our backpacks were filled with books, Scrabble and a journal to scribble on in case we ran out of things to do.

Much to our surprise – 14 hours flew by quickly with 2 serves of meals, 1 hour of Scrabble, 4 hours of reading and the rest of the time snoozing. The seats were very comfortable and nothing dreadful to complain about. As walked out of the plane and into Stansted Airport, our eyes sparkled at the first sights of snow on the walkway. I bet the workers were cursing and grumbling having to work in nasty weather conditions but there were these 2 Malaysians leaping with joy and tugging at each other for mere excitement at white fluff!

Chern picked us up at the airport and hurried us to catch our bus into London. It wasn’t another hour before we arrived at her home in East London. We retired the night not long after…

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