SURPRISE! We went to Europe…and the kids had no idea!

“Of all the books in the world, the best stories are found between the pages of a passport.”

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We did something completely unique, something we normally do together as a whole family but felt would lack the wonder and amazement if we shared this secret with our children. We surprised our children with a family adventure to Europe…again. Only this time we stretched whatever truth we had and led them to believe they were going to visit family in New Zealand, when in fact they would be visiting family in England instead. We talked about all the adventures we would have in NZ, explored cost and locations, looked at pictures and vloggers, and we weren’t being entirely untruthful. After all, we were going to do these things – but not for a few more months when we actually did go to NZ – so really we weren’t lying at all…maybe only by omission.

It was a tough prank to pull, particularly when the climate difference is so enormous, and I had to leave room in my suitcase (and wallet) for the extra clothing they both may need. My travel agent was in on the surprise, as were my family, friends, and colleagues…only a few of whom needed a gentle nudge in the ribs to remind them to prevent their foot from entering their mouths. It almost killed me keeping this quiet and I was close to internal combustion I am sure. Never the less, we arrived at the morning of our departure with complete composure and not one hint of what was about to occur.

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Arriving at the airport we got ourselves a bite to eat and my much-loved peppermint tea, and gave the girls their surprise packages. Included were some metro maps, Eurostar confirmations, Paris accommodation confirmation, euros and pounds, and an oyster card for travel. Whilst my little one took a long time to figure it out, my teenager burst into long sobs of gratefulness and genuine surprise lasting a good 5 minutes, and not without many puzzled onlookers. “Are we really?….I cant believe this!….Oh my goodness…I DIDN’T PACK MY MAKEUP!!!” were just some of the comments that escaped her. It really was a priceless go-pro moment (that’s if I actually owned a go pro).

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The flight was much more uneventful that the last and oh…my sister in law actually didn’t know we were coming! We had kept that as a surprise too with the help of her best friend. That surprise was amazing – walking into the restaurant and being greeted with looks of shock was amazing! My poor sister in law had mostly one thought “how am I going to say goodbye when they leave” bless her soul.

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We had an amazing 3 weeks exploring England: Stonehenge, Pluckly (Darling Buds of May), Chatham Dockyards (Call The Midwife – including seeing some of the shooting of the series and meeting cast), and many other places. We did a couple of days in Paris again, because of course that is my favourite place, and stayed near the Sacre Couer. Did I mention we love Paris? And on our way home to Australia after a very sad goodbye with our family, we spent our 24hr layover in Abu Dhabi in a very lovely hotel. I must say that all in all, my stay in the AUE was eye opening and reminded us of the scare tactics media use to try to breed hate and fear. Our time there was lovely and customer service far exceeded anything I have ever experienced here in Australia, and we were treated with complete respect and care – I have decided that we don’t spend time watching, the news anymore and any website, company, or program that has an outcome of fear and hate, will no longer be watched, read, or supported by our family anymore. Life is too short for that rot!!!

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So, I know that I haven’t gone into great detail about our trip and I have much more to share, so head over to Intrepid Nurse on Facebook and Instagram, where you can see live video, photos, and more – like and share so we can grow our life and adventure stories, and so I can connect with yours. Intrepid Nurse will soon grow to be my main travel and nursing hub and this will remain my more personal family things. Intrepid Nurse will soon follow up with a fully functional website with reviews, videos, and more.

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Big question if you will – what have you learnt by travelling to new places?

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TO EUROPE, WITH LOVE

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I can feel the tears of longing welling up inside as we think about where we have been and what we experienced. It’s not that I’m unhappy in where I’m at right now but I didn’t think catching this bug would change my whole life the way it has. People warned us that there was a risk of contracting this even if you thought yourself immune. Truthfully, I didn’t even really feel it coming on until we were fully infected and we knew we would never recover. Moments in every day reminded us of that time, and it takes every ounce of strength to stop ourselves from getting swept back into it all.

We really understand so much now after this experience, and understand the addiction to the cure of this bug. We understand the need to feed it, and why every spare dollar can be spent on it. It’s okay though, it’s not a horrible contagion, but it’s certainly a costly one. However I wouldn’t change it for the world and really I feel somewhat blessed and lucky for being able to experience it.

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Okay so I’m talking about the travel bug, but I guess thats not really surprising considering the last lot of posts I have written. We really do have the travel bug now and really its all we seem to be able to think about – not just the travel aspect of it, but having a life filled with more adventure, more wonder, new connections – I guess its the spirit of adventure we are craving more. I know I have been a little behind in my posts, I havent even touched on our last stops of Capri & Sorrento, Santorini, Athens, and Sydney. I suppose it is easy to become caught up again in work, study, and family life to even think about setting aside some writing time to finish off our story…but finish is the wrong word for it and I will tell you why before I tell you about our adventures in Santorini.

I’ve decided to write this now at last because I am home from work sick and talking hurts my throat…the nurofen seems to have dulled the headache pounding in my head for days, and honestly…lying in bed exhausted all day makes me feel a little unfulfilled. So what does a writer do when these moments arise…she writes of course – its highly therapuetic!

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To break it bluntly but beautifully…we are moving to England!!! Okay so not straight away…but in a few years time when our teenager has finished school, and our youngest has finished primary school – our intention is to spend a year or two in England with me working as a nurse, and spending time getting to know my neices and nephews and sister in laws more. Of course we will be doing some European travel whilst we are there too. But first, we are heading for another UK VACAY in December to spend Christmas with my family, and check out schools and hospitals. We did initially consider doing one year in England and one year in France but after looking at the average nurses wage and cost of living we decided we might need to rethink that one.

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So tell me…have you lived and worked abroad before? Have you lived in a country with a different language and how did you cope with that, particularly if you have children? We are currently learning French however to ensure that if something changes we can fit right in with our language skills, and besides that we love the French language and plan on spending more time there whenever our lives and budgets warrant it. Enough about that…stay tuned for my next article on Sorrento and our little adventure on the Isle of Capri…