We’re well into 2017 now, in fact we’re almost at the end of January, and I’ve had a busy start to the year so far… to the point that I have only now managed to post this 2016 recap of our adventures and travels. It’s very late, I know, but I didn’t want to leave it out completely and miss a look back at a year of memorable family holidays and fun days out.
We went on two city breaks to new cities for us: Prague and Granada; four trips to visit family in Fano, Italy; a summer vacation in Bali with an overnight stay in Singapore; and an autumn trip to San Diego, CA. Around London, we made the most of my annual memberships to the National Trust, ZSL London Zoo and Kew Gardens, while also visiting nearby farms, museums and other attractions, and taking a late summer day trip to the British seaside at Camber Sands.
It was an eventful year and overall we clocked up 51 days out and 9 overseas trips! Here’s what we were up to in 2016;
We rang in the New Year in Fano and kicked it off with a walk along the beach on New Year’s Day which has become an annual tradition.
Back home in London, I joined the National Trust with the goal of exploring more of the countryside and heritage sites around London. I started off with Osterley Park & House in Isleworth, West London, which is the closest countryside estate to us and it’s become a favorite place for some outdoor fun ever since.
We also visited two of our favorite places in Kensington: Diana Memorial Playground and Holland Park.
In February, I started writing a monthly roundup of our days out in and around London to also share some inspiration for family-friendly places to visit in the area. The highlights of this month were visiting the Orchids Festival at Kew Gardens, visiting two National Trust sites – Claremont Landscape Garden and Cliveden, wandering around the Tower of London and enjoying the beautiful giant lanterns at the Magical Lantern Festival at Chiswick House.
We started March with our first city break of the year to Prague, such a stunning city to explore by foot and perfect for a long weekend. We stayed at the Four Seasons Prague, located within walking distance of Old Town Square and Charles Bridge.
Back in London, we mostly stuck to exploring local spots including Dukes Meadows and Holland Park before heading to Fano, Italy, for Easter break. After the Easter break, we had one more day out in London at the WWT London Wetland Centre in Barnes. More on our days out in the March 2016 Around London post.
London was beautiful in the springtime and we had some gloriously sunny days to enjoy the outdoors. We visited the Battersea Park Children’s Zoo, Osterley Park & House, ZSL London Zoo, Kensington Gardens, and Kew Gardens. More on those days out in the April 2016 Around London post.
We also went to Odds Farm Park, which is in High Wycombe, Buckinhamshire, which was a fun day out seeing the animals in the barn and fields and playing at the adventure playground.
Little T and I headed back to Fano for the first week of May. We lucked out with mostly sunny skies and mild weather to enjoy mornings at the beach or exploring the city centre. I’ve shared more photos from that trip in the Snapshots from Fano #2 and Corte Malatestiana posts.
We were also away the last week of May to visit Granada, Spain, and although it was a busy month for travel, we managed to squeeze in some days out while we were in London. We visited Regent’s Park, the ZSL London Zoo, Birdworld in Surrey, the Natural History Museum and Osterley House. More on our days out in the May 2016 Around London post.
I still have a few posts to write up about our trip to Granada in late May. We stayed in a lovely family owned apartment in the hillside neighborhood of El Albayzín, the old Moorish quarter of the city, which was a pleasure to wander around with winding, narrow street and characteristic buildings.
We visited the stunning Alhambra (with its beautiful view of the city below) and Granada Cathedral, had a dinner overlooking the Alhambra at sunset, went on an olive oil tasting tour in the countryside, watched a flamenco performance in the Sacramonte caves and brought Little T to a city fair in a nearby square. We loved charming, vibrant Granada and it was great fun for a family city break. More to come in a separate post.
In June, Mr. G and I went to Bray for lunch at Heston Blumenthal’s Hinds Head gastropub, followed by a river cruise to Windsor where we watched a few races at the Royal Windsor Racecourse.
Days out this month included visits to the very family-friendly National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, Hobbledown Farm Park in Surrey, Crockford Bridge Farm for strawberry picking and the ZSL London Zoo. More in the June 2016 Around London post.
We kicked off July with a nearly two week long trip to Bali, Indonesia. It felt great to be back in Southeast Asia (last time was in the Philippines in 2014 when Little T was 9 months old) and we loved being by the sea, exploring the island and checking out Bali’s fantastic restaurant scene. I’ve covered the trip in the following posts: Snapshots from Bali, Day Trip to Nusa Lembongan, Turtle Release with the Bali Sea Turtle Society, Activities in Bali with Kids and Resort Review: Padma Resort Legian, is coming up.
On the way back to London, we stayed overnight in Singapore. It was a brief stop – and my first time back in Singapore in nearly 20 years! – and we had drinks at Marina Bay Sands with this beautiful view overlooking the city before dinner.
The highlight of our days out was a visit to the beautiful Mayfield Lavender fields in Banstead, Surrey. It’s become an annual tradition to take some photos there – I’m forward to heading back again this summer! More on our days outs in the July 2016 Around London post.
We spent the first half of August in Fano, with mostly beach perfect weather that we definitely made the most of during our trip!
The rest of August was pretty busy around London, with a day trip to the Cotswolds, days out at Kew Gardens and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, a walk through Westminster along the BFG Dream Trail and a visit (on my own) to the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Hindu temple in Neasden. More on those days out in the August 2016 Around London post.
We started off September with a day trip to the British seaside: beautiful Camber Sands in Sussex on a warm, sunny day. We loved being by the water and running up and down the sand dunes and enjoying the last days of summer.
This was our first full month in London since February and we spent our days out at Holland Park, the Science Museum, Legoland in Windsor (for Little T’s birthday) and Garsons Pick Your Own Farm in Esher, Surrey. I also did a photography workshop around Shoreditch which was a great experience! More on those days out in the September 2016 Around London post.
We had a some beautiful crisp, sunny autumn days in October and our days out included visits to a few National Trust sites: Ham House in Richmond, Osterley House, Cliveden in Maidenhead, the Winkworth Arboretum and the stunning Scotney Castle in Tunbridge Wells.
We also went pumpkin picking at Garsons Pick Your Own Farm, Surrey, and enjoyed some beautiful walks through the autumn foliage in Holland Park and Kew Gardens. I also visited the British Museum for the Sunken Cities: Egypt’s Lost Worlds exhibition. More photos in the October 2016 Around London post.
Little T and I visited my hometown of San Diego, CA, for about 10 days in the beginning of November. I’ll be writing up a post about that trip next. Some of my favorite moments were from the first couple of days when we’d be up pretty early due to jet lag, with plenty of time to get out and enjoy the sunrise.
There’s loads to see and do around San Diego and I always try to bring Little T to some new places each trip. This time around we went to the Cabrillo National Monument, the U.S.S. Midway Museum and the New Children’s Museum. We also explored La Jolla, Balboa Park, Old Town, Pacific Beach and Mission Beach.
It was a shock to the system coming back to much cooler temperatures in London! Festive lights and activities were starting up in mid-November and we kicked off the season with visits to Harrods Grotto and the Hogwarts in the Snow event at the WB Bros. Studio Tour and ice skating at the Natural History Museum Ice Rink.
We also had a couple of days out, at the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden and a wander through central London, from St. Paul’s Cathedral, to the South Bank to St. James’s Park. More photos on the November 2016 Around London post.
With a hectic first half of December in the run up to Christmas, we only had one day out to Hyde Park and Diana Memorial Playground. In the December 2016 Around London recap, I’ve instead shared some photos of the beautiful Christmas lights and decorations spotted while we were out and about.
We spent the Christmas holidays in Fano, two weeks altogether including the first few days of January. It was surprisingly warm in Fano, during the day at least, and almost always sunny until a couple of days before we left. Little T and I visited the beach often and also met other expats and made new friends, from the US and London. We also regularly visited the city center, where the cardboard Christmas tree with colorful nativity scenes stands in the main square, Piazza XX Settembre.
On the evening of Christmas Day, we went to the neighboring town of Pesaro, which was beautifully decorated for the festive season, complete with an ice rink in the main square, where I brought Little T ice skating.
One evening, Mr. G and I went to the quaint hilltop village of Gradara, where we were also married 11 years ago, for dinner at Mastin Vecchio. Dinner was fantastic and we also took the chance to tour the Gradara Castle, one of the best preserved medieval structures in Italy.
And that is how we spent 2016! I’m looking forward to what adventures 2017 will bring for us all. Thanks for reading!