2014 – the year that was

It was a fun old year at our place. As always there seemed to be a lot happening but when I look back at the photos we’ve taken, our trip in August and those puppies – well Bella mainly – seem to dominate.

A cure for jetlag


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After 32 hours of travel, and a 12 hour time difference the perfect cure for jet lag was a dinner with friends, a decent sleep and, the following day, a walk through the English countryside. So that’s what we did … Continue reading

Today we turn 300


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Since April 2011 there have been 299 posts to this blog so this one is officially number 300. Over the last 2 and a bit years we’ve covered our trip to Europe – which was the reason for starting this … Continue reading

The year that was


This gallery contains 41 photos.

Everywhere I look the last 12 months are being reviewed – news, sports, politics – the best of, the worst of – clearly this is the time of year for reflection. Never being one to miss a trend, here’s our … Continue reading

The book of the blog

I started writing this post as an endorsement of a fantastic service for turning your blog posts into a book – Feedfabrik.com. But I’ve just learnt that, due to problems between the partners, they have stopped taking orders, their website is offline, and it is unlikely to return anytime soon.

I first used Feedfabrik last year to produce a simple black and white book of the first 100 toscanakiwi posts which we had delivered to our cottage in Tuscany. We carefully carried it around Europe on our travels and it’s sitting, slightly battered and beaten up, in the bookcase next to me.

A month ago I ordered two volumes of blog posts (about 200 posts in all) hard bound on high quality paper and in full colour because they produce the pictures that go with blog posts as well as the writing. The books arrived last week and they look absolutely stunning.

It is a real shame that others won’t be able to make use of this excellent service in the foreseeable future.

Our thanks to the team at Feedfabrik.com. We love your work and hope that you’ll be back soon.

The big freeze – a kiwi perspective


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We were warned for the best part of a week, it was from Russia and it was going to hit Saturday night. Road gritters started gritting the roads mid week and Heathrow cancelled one third of their flights in advance. … Continue reading

On the move

The last week has seen the team from Aspley Guise pack up and move to Bromham. That’s a distance of about 30 kilometres but the move involved serious logistics and planning as well as a decent dollop of muscle over the weekend just past.

Adding interest to the move was the impending “big freeze” that was due to hit the UK on Saturday. Thankfully it held off until the move was finished – just. The lads were enjoying a couple of beers just as the first snow started to drift down.

Next morning our new neighbourhood was under 3 inches of snow – what a lovely welcome to Bromham.

Welcome to Woburn


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There are two villages close to Aspley Guise. One is Woburn Sands which boasts a population of around 2,000 people. The other is the much smaller village of Woburn which has, as its close neigbour, the Duke of Bedford’s estate … Continue reading

A weekend in Ipswich

Last weekend we went to Ipswich. It meant a drive of about an hour and a half across England to the eastern coast – well almost the coast as Ipswich is located on the estuary of the River Orwell.

Friends Sue and Ali are kiwis living and working in Ipswich. They came and stayed at Aspley Guise over Christmas and invited all the Aspley Guisers over for dinner and to stay the night.

They have a penthouse apartment on the Ipswich waterfront. Like many towns located on the water, the area around the port has undergone a rebirth in the last few years with new apartment blocks being built and the original waterfront buildings being renovated. There is a feeling of Auckland when you walk along the Ipswich waterfront. Leisure craft are moored alongside and a plethora of cafes and bars exist near the water.

On Saturday night Sue cooked a fine meal which, accompanied by a couple, a few, some, quite a lot of wine and beer, meant Sunday morning was a slow start. A walk along the waterfront was the ideal way to blow away the lingering hangovers.

It’s been a week of birthdays

The past week has seen two celebrations at Aspley Guise. Gill had a birthday and, quite rightly, became queen for a day, and dear old Daisy the dog had a birthday – her 15th.

Gill’s birthday involved champagne, a fantastic meal out at The Birch restaurant, presents from all over the world and a good old-fashioned hangover the next day.

Daisy’s birthday involved a cake with candles, doggie treats, presents from all the doggie shops we know of and a hangover the next day due to a late night when the whole team were visiting friends in Ispwich.

Daisy received a new winter coat from Jean and I which, unlike her current one, doesn’t need to removed by it pulling over her head (she bites anyone who tries to take off her current coat) and a new basket for her to sleep in from Gill, Andre, Josh and Jordan.

In dog years Daisy is, depending on the formula used, either 90 and 105. Not a bad effort for an old lady and she continues to battle on despite  her heart condition, poor vision and lack of hearing. The heart specialist in Italy described her as “il cane di miracolo” and she continues to defy the odds and lead a happy and relatively healthy life. The difference between now and a couple of years ago is that her pace of life is much slower.

And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.