Traveling With Baby: What To Pack and What To Leave At Home

While we were in Europe there were definitely some things we learned about packing for a big trip with a baby! Give this list a look over and see what you think.

What To Pack

Don’t leave home without these things!

1. Travel-size Stain Remover

This really saved us! I purchased a small baby stain remover bottle as I walked by it in the checkout line one day before we left, but once that’s gone I think I’ll just fill a small empty spray bottle from Target with the stain remover we use at home. There were a few times that I think we would have had to toss his clothes if we hadn’t had this little gem with us!

2. Travel-size Squeezer Bottle Of Dish Soap

This. Has. Saved us! Unfortunately it didn’t last for the length of our trip, I should have filled the bottle more, but it’s been immensely helpful to have been able to wash bottles in the airport, a city lunch spot or two, and our hotel room! I’m going to be keeping it in the diaper bag from now on so I can wash bottles while we’re gone for a day out. (Turns out, they make little bottles of dish soap just for this purpose! I just got an itty bottle from Target, which worked great for us.)

3. Sick Baby Kit

You never know when baby’s going to wake up with a runny nose or a little fever, so be prepared! Our Sick Baby Kit has our nose sucker, thermometer, baby tylenol, baby ibuprofen, gas drops, medicine syringes, homeopathics, homeopathic teething tablets, baby saline drops, baby vapor rub, and instant pedialyte (not recommended for babies under one year, but our boy doesn’t seem to mind as long as we water it down a bit more than the instructions direct…if he drinks it at all, which is not usually).

4. Small Travel Mug

To be honest, we’ve only used this a handful of times, but when we’ve needed it we’ve *really* needed it! In our 8 oz. mug, hot water has stayed hot (or hot enough) for about two hours, and all but one time that’s been exactly what we’ve needed. We made bottles on a ferry boat in Portsmouth, on the tube, and several times in the car.

5. Two Diaper Changing Pads

This has been hugely helpful. At home, of course, we have the changing table and keep the changing pad in the diaper bag. Hotel rooms, unfortunately, don’t come equipped with changing tables, so instead we’ve been putting our second changing pad on our bed then folding and taking it off when we’re done. We don’t have to remember to put it back in the diaper bag before we go anywhere, and Nolan knows what’s going down once we pull out the changing pad. Best thing: and extra pad takes up basically zero extra space!


What To Leave At Home

Real talk: this is going to be hard. Being away from the comfort and predictability of your own home can be daunting when you’re traveling with baby! It’s totally natural to want to be as prepared as possible for whatever comes your way, but your trip is going to be much better if you aren’t lugging about a bunch of things you don’t actually need or won’t even use. Here are our tips.

1. Toys

We brought way too many toys with us to England! The thing about kids is that, while they do like toys, they actually like everything and don’t really have any innate metric to determine whether a particular object is a “toy” or not. For example, Nolan’s favorite playthings here have been the closed toilet (which he likes to drum on), empty two-liter water bottles (which he likes to bop everything with, including mama and daddy), and empty food containers that we’ve washed out (great for keeping him occupied after he’s done eating but we aren’t yet, as well as for using as bath toys). He’s also a fan of curtains and shoes. Yes, he’s played with the toys we’ve brought, but he certainly doesn’t need the truckload that I insisted on packing! Bring a few easily portable favorites that fit in the diaper bag, and leave the rest at home.

2. Crib Sheets

Everybody says that if you’re going to be staying in a hotel with the hotel’s crib, bring your own baby sheets. Let’s be real here, if the hotel sheets are good enough for you, they’re good enough for your baby. The way they wash hotel sheets, they absolutely kill all of the nasties that get tied up in sheets (these people are experts), and who wants to unmake the crib every time you anticipate that housekeeping might pop in so that they don’t take your crib sheet out with all the other dirty laundry? Just don’t sweat it and leave that space in your suitcase for something useful.

3. Baby Monitor 

Unless you’re staying in an apartment, house, or a large hotel suite where the baby has his own space, you might as well leave this at home. We used it maybe three times, and we honestly really didn’t need it the times we used it.

What are your best packing for baby tips?

Traveling With Baby: Top Ten Day-To-Day Tips

Over the past few weeks, I’ve done some things well and done some things poorly as far as being away with baby goes. Here are some things I’ve learned!

1. Overpack the baby clothes.

This is against every traveling tip I’ve ever seen, but our kid’s gone through a solid growth spurt here and we’ve been bargain hunting, man! We’ve used every single bit of clothing we’ve brought for him, and we’ve had to purchase more. If your baby’s on the cusp of a growth spurt go ahead and pack those clothes in the larger size!

2. Befriend the hotel staff.

If you’re staying in a hotel, this is huge! Babies are killers. Seriously, people would take one look at our kid and they’d turn to putty. He’s won over all but 2.5 members of the staff here at the hotel, and I think it’s because they had some sort of childhood trauma. I’m not just bragging on my kid, this is literally what happens. And honestly, it’s helped us out so much! I don’t mean that in a manipulative way, just that people do nice things for other people when they like those other people. So be nice! Be profusely apologetic when your kid does anything disruptively kid-like, even when you think you shouldn’t have to or whatnot. Most human beings that have experience with other human beings understand that kids, and especially babies, take a little extra everything. If they like your baby, they’ll be more likely to readily help give those extra everythings.

3. Develop some semblance of a routine.

This may or may not be possible given your activities while you’re gone, but it’s well documented that routines for babies/kids/humans are a good thing. At the very least you can strive to give meals at the same time and encourage bedtime at the same time. This will make your life infinitely easier! You’ll know what to expect, and that will make your day better when baby’s fussy and nothing seems to help, but then you realize it’s 4pm! Time for baby’s snack! Problem solved  🙂

4. Go to dinner early. 

Now trust me: I’m proponent numbero uno of taking your children to restaurants, both casual and formal, and teaching them to behave so exceptionally well that they leave other patrons utterly shocked. However, at ten-months-old, my kid is still working on attaining that capacity. Once we have all of our kids and they’re a little older, I anticipate we’ll go to restaurants a bit later, but while we’ve been gone with Nolan at the age he is currently, we’ve found it better to go to dinner a little earlier. In suburban England, that meant before 7pm. We got better attention because the restaurant wasn’t busy (so the waitstaff doesn’t feel like they have more than usual to do for us, even with our little extra requests for Nolan), and if he gets excited or fussy and his volume goes up, we’re not usually bothering anybody.

5. Call ahead to restaurants to see if they have a highchair.

If you follow this traveling with baby series I’m working on, you’ll read this a few times! Did we do this every time? No. Did we end up wishing we had? Usually! We didn’t have much of an issue in England, but Belgium was much more of a challenge. If a restaurant doesn’t have a high chair, you’ll likely have a less than relaxing meal. If you’re going for lunch (or it’s a summertime dinner) and your child sits in a stroller (which I’ll pretend to not be jealous about), you could sit outside at a cafe and just pull the stroller up alongside the table and use that as your high chair, no problem. Otherwise, bring your own travel booster seat or find a different restaurant.

6. Locate playgrounds and/or play areas.

Holy smokes, I wish I’d learned this one earlier than I did. A couple weeks into our trip (because Nolan was sick at first) I looked up some local playgroups that I could walk to with him while Kyle was at work. We ended up making it to only one of the groups, but we went to that one twice and met several lovely mamas there, exchanged info with two them, and now we’re all connected on Facebook! So Nolan made some baby friends and got some great playtime, and I made some mama friends (let’s just take a minute to appreciate how brave I was, going out and meeting brand new people in a different country…okay, thanks). Then a couple days before we left England, one of the mamas and I met up at an indoor play area and had a great hour and a half with our playing babes. Both the play group and the indoor play area charged a nominal fee (one or two quid) and it was totally worth it! We should have more of those in the Seattle area!

7. Find the old people or other families and hang out with them.

Old people LOVE BABIES. Not even old people necessarily, but just older people. If it seems like there’s possibility they could be grandparents, they will likely love your baby and not mind at all if he gets fussy or sad or anything because they actually legitimately think it’s adorable. Partly because they don’t have to take your baby home, but know exactly what you’ll be dealing with once you do, so they’ll be nice to you. Also, other families. Same deal. So find the other families at restaurants and sit near them if you can manage it, or pop in across from an older person sitting alone on the train and make some new friends!

8. Clean up after yourselves.

This should go without saying, but I’ve seen too many families out somewhere who leave their table or space looking like it got hit by a small bomb of childness. Yes, it’s somebody’s job to clean it up. No, that’s not a good reason to not contribute to that yourself. Pick up some of those cheerios off the floor before they get crunched into powdery un-clean-up-able-ness. Use your napkin to wipe your baby’s drool off the table he’s been teething on. Put the safety info card and all its accoutrement back into the airplane seat pocket before you disembark. These aren’t terribly difficult things to do, and the people coming along behind you to do the real work will appreciate it!

9. Let your baby roam.

Developing babies need playtime! When you’re out and about trying to sightsee all day, baby is usually in a stroller or baby carrier, cooped up and not getting in any discovery time. Find places to take a break for half an hour or so where your baby can just crawl/walk/cruise around for a bit on his own. Otherwise you might have an angry baby on your hands by the end of the day!

10. Just go with it.

This is MOST important, dear friend. You’re traveling with a baby…after you get over jet lag and you’ve developed some sort of day-to-day normal, don’t expect anything to go differently than you’d expect it to go at home. Give yourself all of the grace! If baby is struggling with sleep and seems more adept to co-sleeping, then co-sleep. If baby completely bucks his “schedule” as much as you try to keep him on it, let him buck his schedule. If baby is super sick, it’s the end of the week, and no GP can fit him in that day, take him to the ER. If baby has messes through two outfits with with antibiotic-induced diarrhea while you’re exploring a new town for a day, find the nearest local Target equivalent and pick up a couple new outfits. All or none of these are things I may or may not have learned from experience…
Traveling with your baby definitely won’t be the easiest travel you’ve ever enjoyed, but there’s no saying it has to be the most uncomfortable! Chill out and make those awesome memories  🙂

Traveling With Baby: Our Favorite Baby Travel Gear

There were a couple of things as we were traveling around that proved to be absolutely brilliant. These are our favorites!

1. Ergo 360

I decided that we needed one of these about two weeks before we left. Kyle wasn’t quite so convinced until two days before we left, and I had to agree to sell our stroller if we got the 360, but we had a deal! Only problem: everybody else wanted a 360 as well, and we had the hardest time finding one! Yes, it’s pricy. Yes, it was a splurge. Yes, it was necessary for our highly curious, snuggly boy who refuses to ride in a stroller. Even in a “pram-dominated country” where we’ve gotten some weird looks with our baby carrier, we’ve done everything with him in this and we’ve had a much easier time navigating uneven castle floors, staircases of public transport stations, cobblestone streets, battleships, tiny town shops, and big London crowds with him in the Ergo instead of in a stroller. Great buy, and I’d do it again! I will say, when he’s been facing outward he’s had a tendency to drool and chew on the carrier, and we’ve kinda been wishing we had the teething pad that is available for it. We’ll see how it goes, we might be ordering that next!

2. Formula Dispenser

This isn’t travel-specific, we actually use it daily at home, but it’s been invaluable when we’ve been out and about and need to mix up a quick bottle. This thing is awesome! Just measure out the formula, drop it from the dispenser into the bottle, shake shake shake, and you’re good to go. If I could go back, it would be easier to get out the door in the morning if we had two of these dispensers that we could just prep ahead of time, so that might be something to consider.

3. Travel Bottle Drying Rack

When we ordered this we thought it was a bit of a splurge, probably not necessary, but a good idea. We were so wrong! This is absolutely a necessity for bottle feeders staying away from home! I love how it folds up so neatly and holds bottles as well as a good amount of other things at the same time. We do wash bottles a couple times a day, and we discovered pretty quickly that our bottles don’t like to stay upright when they’re drying on this rack, so we put the mouth of the bottle upside-down between four of the post thingys which makes it quite secure. We’ve kept it rinsed out and dried off as much as we can to keep it from getting grimy, and it’s looking pretty good so far!

4. Diaper Caddy

Definitely not travel-specific, and strictly speaking it’s not terribly travel-friendly since it doesn’t collapse or anything of the sort, this $3 Target find from their dollar section (meaning: they’re probably gone forever, never to be offered again, as is usually the case with Target’s enigmatic dollar section) has been so great for our long trip. We’ve been able to keep our many packages of disposable diapers in the closet while keeping enough diapers for the day at the ready in the caddy, along with wipes and baby creams. It’s been fantastic to have it all in one easily accessible, portable bin. So glad I insisted on packing this! You could easily use some similar handled, compartment-ed caddy for the same purpose.

5. Backpack-style Diaper Bag

I could go on and on about how I feel about diaper bags right now, but I’m not going to because I’ll give all my secrets away. In short, I’m not happy with them. However, using this little backpack of Nolan’s instead of using our regular diaper bag was definitely a good move. Maneuvering up and down narrow castle staircases with a giant diaper bag would have been a pitifully bad idea. I like that we’ve been able to keep things in predictable places and small things haven’t gotten lost in a cavernous pit. I’m still working on an alternative because it was far from perfect, but much better than what we’d been doing!

6. Silicone Pocket Bib

We got this on our last day in England actually…I’d wanted one for Nolan for a long time, but I thought Kyle would freak out about how much they cost (I could see it going down in my mind: “It cost $9?! Are you kidding me? For a bib? Shouldn’t bibs cost like $1.50? You know it costs them $0.67 to make it, they’re ripping us off! Somebody is getting rich off of this!” I was just not up for that.) Turns out, if we’d just gotten this in the first place, we’d have saved ourselves a lot of clean up, as well as the need to pack a million bibs. It took some getting used to for Nolan to be okay with it, just because it’s so different from his fabric bibs, but between the pocket catching his dribbles, how well it folds up to pack away in the diaper bag, and how easy it is to clean it, this thing is a travel winner. (The link takes you to a Tommee Tippee bib, and I think that’s the one we have…ours is green and we got it at a grocery store.)

7. Portable Booster Seat

Honestly, we didn’t use this much, but when we needed it it was invaluable. England is an incredibly baby-friendly country so I don’t think we ran into a single instance when a restaurant didn’t have a highchair. Belgium is a beautiful country but less baby-friendly. We went through a couple meals of switching off which parent was holding him so the other could scarf down a few bites then switch again before we finally got smart and just called ahead to the restaurants we were visiting to see if they had a highchair. Also, as will be covered in another post, this was a godsend on the train! We strapped his little booster onto the seat, popped him in it, and boom! Happy independent baby! In an ideal world this would fit into the diaper bag or have some sort of strap attachment thingy that made it easier to carry, but we can work on that, right?

8. Toy leashes

Nolan doesn’t like these much, but we love them! He just doesn’t like that when he throws something on the ground, it doesn’t actually hit the ground. These are great for attaching toys to high chairs during meals and even to the ergo when we were out and about. We’ve had them since he was born and use them at home to attach things to his carseat, the baby carriers, the diaper bag…just about everything. Great tool!

Something we don’t have but wish we did:

Tommee Tippee Travel Bottle and Food Warmer

We met so many helpful service people during our trip, but one restaurant that really blew us away in Cardiff had this fantastic little gizmo. We were so impressed by the product itself, and especially impressed that the restaurant kept it in the kitchen specifically for their smallest customers! This is something we’ll definitely be looking into for future travel. It would have been incredibly easy to just pass this to the waitstaff and just ask them to fill it halfway up with hot water, rather than having them find something in the kitchen that they didn’t need for a time so we could heat Nolan’s food or bottle.

Hopefully there’s some help here! What are some of your favorite baby travel gear items?

A Weekend In Wales

We had such a lovely castle-hunting weekend! Kyle got off of work early on Friday and we drove to Cardiff, just an hour or so into Wales from the English border. We didn’t get out of town in time to check out a castle on the way there, so we spent a nice evening settling in and had a wonderful Italian dinner near the waterfront. Our waiter was fantastic and so friendly, seriously wonderful service. Nolan developed an instant and rather intense crush on a girl at the table next to us, so he was pretty much occupied the whole time. This restaurant was great, and they even had a contraption specifically intended for heating up baby food. We’re talking Tommy Tippee brand, people, not just some reasonably suitable vessel.

Unfortunately that’s where the baby-hospitality of Wales kinda came to an end. There were baby changes everywhere, just like in England, and other folks were also happy to get us a pitcher/bowl/something of hot water to heat Nolan’s food in, just like in England, but the experience was just different than it’d been thus far. It may have been because we were staying so close to the city center and the universities, so there were a lot of young (read: selfish), commercially-minded people in that area, but generally it seemed that Nolan was more of an annoyance to people than simply another human, albeit smaller, who needs respect and kindness just as much as anybody else. Wales is a truly beautiful country, but Kyle and I agree that the culture is a little more rough-around-the-edges than we’ve found in England.

Saturday we took a twenty minute drive to Castell Coch (meaning Red Castle in Welsh), which is a medieval castle that fell into disrepair and was built back up in the late 1800s by a man who had entirely too much money at his disposal. He hired famed architect and designer William Burges to turn it into an “occasional summer house for parties,” and proceeded to pretty much never use it because it wasn’t actually conducive to having guests due to the fact that there were no guest bedrooms. Fortunately, his wife fully partook of the building after her husband’s death when she retired there to grieve for several years in a gorgeous domed bedchamber with 270 degree views of the valley. It was so beautiful! Because it’s such a small castle, we easily went through it and thoroughly saw all there was to see in about an hour and a half. If you go, definitely get the audioguide. Super informative!

After Castell Coch east of Cardiff, we headed a bit north of Cardiff to Caerphilly Castle. When we got into Caerphilly we stopped at a little restaurant and got take away (which we ate in their completely empty storage area on the second floor, with a killer view of the castle on the other side of the moat right across the street, while we talked about how poorly they’re using that space and how much better we could do it because we don’t have pride issues at all), then went up to a pub on another side of the castle so Kyle could have a pint and we could feed Nolan. Again, fantastic view of the castle. Again, incredibly poorly managed. Shame  😦  There’s actually a famous Caerphilly Cheese that we didn’t get a chance to taste, but it’s clearly a big deal. They have a statue of it. A cheese statue. A statue of cheese. This statue sits in a roundabout so you can see it from all sides. The cheese is a big deal. If you go to Caerphilly, apparently you should try the cheese.

Caerphilly Castle is the largest castle in all of Wales and took us about three hours to get through. The plaques around the property are interesting, and there are great resources all about geared specifically towards children. It was constructed by the de Clare family in the thirteenth century, and is so well fortified. That place would have been nearly impenetrable! As most did, it fell into disrepair and was restored only in the past hundred years or so by the same family that took care of Castell Coch. It was a great stop!

That night we headed out for dinner around 8 and went to a great restaurant in the city center called Spiceberry. It’s a little second-floor restaurant featuring food from a narrow coastal area of southwestern India called Kerala. When you walk into a random Indian restaurant and at three of the five occupied tables sit old women in saris, you’ve done something right. Dinner was fantastic, and fantastically spicy. Nolan was less impressed than Kyle and I were, so we scooted out of there pretty quickly.

Nolan fell asleep on the walk back to the hotel, which was a great thing because, while we’d noticed quite a few rambunctious teenagers about on our walk to dinner, may have noticed/avoided a bit of vomit here and there on the sidewalks, everyone was utterly plastered by 9:30pm. There was the troupe of Spartan soldiers walking around. There was the group of girls walking like they were holding their pee in because their skirts were so short and tight and their heels were too high and platformy. There was the bachelorette party that descended upon a Burger King. Then there was the party bus that let an entire hen party of notably loud girls off on a sidewalk so they could “relieve” themselves…on a church. A CHURCH. Here’s how that one went down:

Kyle: Wow, they’re loud. They’re so drunk!
Emma: Oi, that’s gonna hurt in the morning.
Kyle: Why are they going into the church? Isn’t it closed? That’s not even a door.
Emma: Because even in their current state, they feel a need to cleanse their souls.
Kyle: Oh they’re not going in…holy s*%#! She’s peeing! They’re all peeing!
Both of us: [aghast, laughing in disbelief, because one must process these things somehow]

It was bad, kids. Bad.

After peacefully waking up Sunday morning sans-hangover, we walked down to Cardiff Castle, right in town, on the other side of city center from our hotel. This was another huge castle! We took a good long time, I think two and a half hours, going through it. And they offered my favorite…audioguides! There was also a guided tour of the private Victorian apartments designed by William Burges to replace a medieval manor house that stood on that corner of the property. The eleventh century castle was built on the site of a third century Roman fort, was then highly altered during the middle ages, and ultimately became an occasional family home for the same Lord Moneybags who took care of the other two castles we visited. Our guide of the apartments was so knowledgeable! It was a great tour.

The walls of the castle were more recently used as air raid shelters for the people of Cardiff during WWII. They’ve restored the interiors of the walls to reflect that time as an exhibition, and I think that was probably Kyle’s favorite part of the whole tour! I married a WWII junkie. We ended up climbing to the top of the keep for a gorgeous view of the whole city before heading off to a quick take away lunch before we checked out of the hotel.

On our way back, about an hour outside of Cardiff, we stopped at Chepstow Castle. It’s a little off the beaten path in the midst of a quiet, idyllic little Welsh town. We arrived with juuuuuuust enough time to quickly change a diaper before heading into the castle and running around like mad to see it all before they closed! We could have used another fifteen minutes or so, but we saw it all pretty sufficiently in half an hour. It was absolutely gorgeous, definitely my favorite stop of the weekend! All ruiny and mysterious…just my speed. Seeing it near sunset didn’t hurt, I suppose.

A delicious stop at the Gamekeepers rounded out the weekend, and now we’re wrapping up our last week in England before going to Belgium for the weekend. I expected to be ready to be done with this trip and anxious to get home, but I’m really not! I don’t feel like we’re finished yet! Crazy to think that we’ll be home a week from tomorrow.

Thanks for reading!

Updates

It’s been a bit since I’ve had time to quickly post anything, let alone put thought into it! Nolan’s taking up all my waking hours by being cute as a button and growing way too much. Kyle and I think we might be creating a bit of a monster…he’s getting pretty attached to both of us. It’s encouraging that he’s still interested in being held by the sweet girls at the front desk and in the restaurant. He loves them SO much!

As mobile as our kiddo is between the crawling and the pulling up/trying to cruise, he’d never managed to master rolling over…until last week. Now all hope is lost. His new favorite game is roll-over-as-quickly-as-possible-and-as-many-times-as-possible-while-mama-is-changing-my-diaper. I’m not a fan of this game, but I’m given no choice but to play along. Le sigh.

He’s also been eating a TON. Oh my goodness, this kid can literally put away more food than I can. Last night he had seven ounces of milk (a full bottle), a full pouch of baby dinner food (chicken casserole with rice…filling by any standards, amiright?), four or five mini rice cakes, about a dozen french fries (because they’re seriously his favorite thing in the whole wide world, and whenever he looks at them he gets this maniacal look in his eye), and four more ounces of milk. SO MUCH FOOD.

Along with lots of eating has come lots of sleeping, so we’re not complaining! We’ve been getting a solid ten hours of sleep out of him every night, with no waking up to eat. When we got to England I looked at the age recommendations for the different stages of formula offered by the brand we use, and we kinda should have bumped him up a stage a couple months ago. I wonder if that’s why I’ve been getting up in the middle of the night for months with a ravenous baby on my hands. The package says that most babies will need between 500 and 600ml of milk per day. My kid’s eating about 750ml. But hey, if he’s sleeping through the night, who cares?! We’re bringing a suitcase full of formula home. Don’t tell Customs.

Just kidding…we’ll tell Customs. Get off my back, NSA!

Also (drum roll, please), my son is now proudly sporting not one, but TWO teeth! The one directly above his existing tooth finally popped through! Although not evident to the untrained eye, it’s definitely there. In theory, he could bite something now!

Last weekend we went to a semi-professional rugby game between a local team and a neighboring town, and it was really fun! There’s a local man that Kyle works with while he’s here, and that man is a member of The Club (which costs like twenty pounds a year) and as a member of The Club you can bring as many guests as you want to bring to games, and give them access to The Clubhouse, where there is a bar with whiskey shots for #2.35. They have other stuff too, but who cares? So everyone is standing around this muddy, ripped up rugby pitch, wearing as many layers as they own north of their wellies, holding full pints of cask ale. The old farts had cigars, too.

Ladies and gentlemen, this age old British pastime is literally illegal in the states. You just think about that for one minute.

Saturday night we had the pleasure of having dinner with Steve again, and I was incredibly happy to cook again! We had steak with a mushroom cream sauce, roasted potatoes, sautéed kale, and salad. I can’t wait to get back to my kitchen! I have a serious need to cook regularly!

Sunday we went to Portsmouth, which is about an hour south of where we are. We spent a lot of time visiting the Historic Dockyard there, where we learned about the Georgian and Victorian navies (not an appealing life) and toured a submarine. Kyle was in heaven! We didn’t get as much time there as we would have liked because there’s just so much to see, but our passes are good for a year so we’re hoping to go back. Portsmouth is also known as the Home of Great Writing (Charles Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle were born there, and there are walking tours offered to explain some of their inspirations and settings from around the city), as well as an entire mall of outlet stores. Which we didn’t go to. Because we were on freaking battleships.

I love my husband.

Our dinner that night was amazing. We found a little pub right on the water in Portsmouth that ended up being a big pub with a glass roof over the waterfront part of the second story. It was gorgeous! Typically I wouldn’t go through every restaurant we visit, but we’ve eaten at some ringers the past few days. That night I went out on a limb and had the fish curry bowl. (Yes, for me it’s a limb.) It was amazing!! I get the feeling I’m going to be talking about that one for a while! The flavors were just perfect, and I’d been needing something kinda soupy, so it totally hit the spot. Brits know how to do curry.

Kyle’s working first shift from here on out, so this week he’s been getting to work by 6 and getting back around 3. It’s so nice to have the evenings with him! We definitely miss him in the mornings though. While he was off to work on Monday morning, Nolan and I visited a “mum and baby” group that meets at a sweet Baptist church up the street and around the corner from us. The moms were so kind and friendly and inviting! I spent most of the time with a couple of sweet girls and their kiddos, and we exchanged numbers and are going to try to hang out sometime this week. It’s hard for me to get out there and meet new people because I generally just don’t like people, so that was really nice! And they’re both married to engineers, so THEY GET ME.

One of them is actually originally from South Africa, so she and I had a good talk about her country and what it’s like to move here from somewhere else.

Monday night’s dinner (because you’re intensely interested in each of our meals) was truly remarkable. We went with a group of people Kyle works with to a place called The Gamekeeper, and for some reason I thought it was a good idea to order fish rather than venison. The fish was great, but let’s be honest, more logical decisions have been made. Next time, red meat. Anyway, there were no paper menus, whatever they decide to make that day gets put up on the chalkboard, and wherever you’re sitting in the restaurant, you’d best go find that chalkboard. It was all so fresh and so English! Loved it, we’ll definitely be back.

[g chji n –from Nolan]

We’re looking forward to going to Cardiff this weekend. The weekend of castles! I may or may not have a detailed map of *most* of the castles in southern Wales. There may or may not be approximately eighty on my map. We can likely visit a maximum of four. *annoyed emoticon*

Till next time! Check Instagram for photos!