It always feels like the end of an era when we come back to New Zealand, though this time we’ve only been away for seven months — and we didn’t visit any new countries at all this year!

We’ve really noticed that our travel style has changed over the last couple of years; we’ve slowed down a lot. We visit fewer places and spend more time in each location; we tend to work business hours wherever we happen to be and travel at the weekend. It’s not as intrepid as our old lifestyle, that’s for sure.

This year’s adventure started with walking the Milford Track over Easter, followed by a few days in Queenstown with friends. We flew to Melbourne next, to spend a week with my sister, brother-in-law and two nephews — well, with the kids, anyway! Anna had a couple of conferences to go to, and she was delighted to realize that our visit coincided with one of them. So she left Henry and Leo with us and skipped the country. Apparently our surrogate-parent skills were up to scratch — at least for three days. 🙂

Portugal and Spain

We’d found great prices on return flights to London, so we ended up flying straight to Europe, instead of breaking our journey with a few days in Asia as we usually do. We didn’t spend too much time in London though — just a few days with our friends Dylan and Sara — instead, we headed to Portugal.

Porto town hall
Porto continues to be gorgeous.

We were nominally there to attend a WordPress conference, but we also got to spend time with Ricardo, one of the team from Performance Foundry (our web development and hosting company). He and his girlfriend really looked after us during our time in Porto, which is one of our favourite cities already!

Next, we continued the journey north, to A Coruña (another of our favourite places) where we hung out with old friends and ate a lot of delicious tapas.

UK housesit

This year’s travel plans were centred around a three-month housesit we’d agreed to almost a year previously, in rural England. We weren’t too sure how it would go, since small towns aren’t always our preference, but we had an amazing time! Our temporary pets (two dogs and three tortoises) were very affectionate; the neighbours were friendly and helpful; and there was a surprising range of things to do.

Henry Leo and tortoises
The tortoises were a big attraction.

We went to a strawberry cream tea, an open gardens event, the garden club barbecue, a beer festival, and a pub quiz (we came last). I signed up for a yoga class in the village hall, and we supported the local pub so much that the proprietor asked us not to leave! Plus, we had lots of visitors: my mum was with us for a week, as was our best friend Ange. Our French friend Clothilde stopped by for a night, and Anna, Mat, Henry and Leo spent a long weekend with us — the boys loved blackberry picking and hanging out with the tortoises.

Plus, we each headed off on mini-adventures during the summer — Craig went to London for a conference; I went to France with my mother, brother Simon, and sister-in-law Katie. It felt like the summer sped by, and we weren’t quite ready to leave when the homeowner returned!

Epernay roundabout with tower Champagne France
A quick trip to France was on the cards…

Scotland and Spain again

We’d planned a trip to Scotland to visit Craig’s gran, but sadly she died the week before we were due to arrive. The family kindy scheduled the funeral so that we and Craig’s dad Norrie and stepmother Anne would be able to attend; it was great to be able to be present and spend some time sharing our memories of Craig’s gran’s life.

After several days in Aberdeen, we set off on a road trip with Norrie and Anne to explore the north of Scotland. I particularly enjoyed visiting Culloden moor and also seeing some ancient standing stones. Spectacular.

Family time at John O'Groats.
Family time at John O’Groats.

Scotland was cold, though, and we needed warming up — so we headed to Spain for a few days. We’d been eyeing up Girona, but the Catalan independence vote made that region a little unstable, so we went to Alicante instead. It was deliciously warm, and we enjoyed visiting the castle and eating tortilla española, but my heart is still in the north.

More housesits and back to London

Our next two housesits, in Cambridge and Ware, both went well, and soon we were back in London for the World Travel Market conference. We stayed at Simon and Katie’s place and spent our evenings with them — the highlight was certainly our visit to Dans le Noir for a meal in the dark. It was awesome.

Cambridge was pretty.
Cambridge was pretty.

And south again

After another long series of flights, we found ourselves back in Melbourne with Anna, Mat and the boys — it’s been a good year for family! As well as spending time on the farm, we also did an overnight trip to Echuca in northern Victoria for a women’s pilots’ association lunch (and a paddle-steamer trip) and to Brisbane on a flight operated by both Mat and Anna — it was the first time their company let them fly together.

It was "bring your kids to work" day.
It was “bring your kids to work” day.

Now, it’s on to the next adventure: a week with Norrie and Anne in Christchurch, followed by a roadtrip north, taking in a visit to my dad in Gisborne enroute to our home city of Auckland. Should be good!

Apart from travel…

Apart from travel, we’ve been busy with work! Performance Foundry continues to grow (if you have a WordPress website and want a fantastic host, let us know!) and we’ve been continuing to publish podcasts here on ITP. Plus, we’ve been happy to be included in a bunch of articles around the web, including this list of the top 50 travel bloggers in New Zealand, this round-up of top travel blogs, and this digital nomad post by our friend Nora.

How has your year gone so far? What are your plans for 2018? Leave a comment below!

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Your thoughts on "Travel diary: A year of housesits and family time"

  • Very nice information...Nice pics too...

    on December 7, 2017 at 11:48 pm Reply

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