I’m afraid tumbleweeds have been blowing through this blog recently. A broken laptop and dodgy wifi in the English countryside have rendered me digitally absent.

The good news is, I’m back. And lots of lovely things have been happening.

We arrived in the UK early December by ferry from Zebrugge – a closely-guarded secret from family and friends who believed we were temple-hopping in Cambodia.

First glimpse of the UK travelling undercover on the Zebrugge – Hull ferry

Elf yourself

We’ve had a marvellous time turning up on doorsteps unexpected, giving family members the shock of their lives.

My absolute favourite was crashing an elf-themed party in the lovely Surrey countryside.

Here, we surprised Jim’s sister who nearly keeled over when she saw us. Once she had recovered – aided by some fortifying white wine – we made merry with dozens of strangers, all dressed as elves. It was the best.

A special Sydney visitor for Christmas

In other good news, our beloved pug, Winston, joined us from Sydney for Christmas. Quite the international jet-setter!

I talked a couple of blog posts back about the challenges of bringing your dog overseas, and here when our plans fell through last minute. So, as you can imagine, we’re delighted he’s safely here and enjoying bolting around English fields.

 

Jim’s sister got a second surprise on Christmas Eve to find him sitting in front of the fire wrapped in a large, red silk bow. You can watch the video here.

We’ve spend a lovely Christmas and New Year with family across the UK from London to the north, exploring beautiful countryside along the way.

Beautiful (and noisy!) geese at dusk over Rutland Water 🌅

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Quintessentially English villages

For years Jim and I have dreamt, discussed and deliberated a village we have never visited. A picture perfect village with honey-coloured cottages nestled in the heart of the English countryside.

The village is Castle Combe, arguably England’s prettiest village. For the past five years, it’s been the much-loved desktop background on Jim’s laptop.

We’d spend many a Sydney evening, ‘driving’ up and down the main street on google earth – exploring cobbled backstreets and zooming in on particularly lovely cottages.

Shortly after our arrival in England, we headed for the Cotswolds to finally see it for ourselves.

Cotswolds country

The Cotswolds in southwest England boasts beautiful countryside and timeless villages built from golden Cotswold stone.

Quintessentially English, Castle Combe is a step back in time, sitting peacefully in the heart of rural Wiltshire.

The day we visited was chilly and plumes of grey smoke rose from the chimneys of houses dating back hundreds of years.

An ethereal mist hung low across the surrounding fields and stream at the foot of the village.

We could hardly believe our luck when two otters appeared, their sleek heads bobbing along before ducking under the icy water and out of sight.

 

Hunting for the perfect village

Castle Combe is one of the many charming villages we explored in December in search of the perfect place to live when we relocate permanently later this year.

Counting 🐑🐑🐑. Brisk winter walks in the English countryside. 🌿

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Rutland is a small but beautiful county in mainland England that also captured our hearts.

Even in winter, rolling fields spread out like soft green pillows, dotted with quaint villages and chocolate box cottages.

This adorable cottage reminds me of the one from my favourite Christmas rom-com. Any guesses? 🏡🎄

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See you in spring, Blighty

Christmas is over and the road is calling us once again. January is a great time to escape England – a couple of particularly grim and grey months now loom. We’ll be back by spring when the realities of house and job hunting will begin.

We’re headed for India and I’m looking forward to lots of new adventures over the next few months.

Hope you’ve all had a great start to 2017 – here’s to a fantastic year for all of us!

Fireside Christmas gin with cinnamon and cloves.

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