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Finding my British Roots, eh?

a travel blog by valnyhout

I'm off to England with my Canadian and British passports to see Angela and Ollie! Then I will go backpacking with my sisters to Italy and France. Then back to England for some more visiting/sightseeing and then finally to Iceland.
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Arriving in England and nightclubbing with Ang

Sheffield, United Kingdom

We boarded the plane in Toronto with my dad wondering how the Knights game would end. He was listening in the airport but only until the end of the 2nd period. It was a long flight but good thing I had lots of stuff to do because my awesome teachers and class sent lots of fun actitivities for me. Finally we landed in London, England. I got to use my British passport! It was rainy and chilly when we arrived. We rented a car and had to get used to driving on the other side of the road. It's not that scarey. In England, Spring has already arrived. The leaves are on the trees, the grass is green and flowers are up. Maybe it will look like that at home by the time we get back. We drove up to Sheffield (a long drive) and Angela and Ollie were so happy to see me. We're happy to see them too. I like where Ang and Ollie live. It isn't like anything an apartment at home.

In the evening Angela took me to a special nightclub that welcomes people with all different abilities. I met lots of her work friends there and we danced to a live band. There was another room with a DJ. There was an open mike and I was going to sing but I was a little bit too nervous. I was knackered - that is a new British word I learned. We stayed out to 11:30 and then we had to wait for Ollie to pick us up. It felt like we waited for Ollie for hours. Finally after a long, long day, off to bed.Today we are going to Shropshire, Ollie's Mom and Dad live there, right on the Welsh border.

permalink written by  valnyhout on April 17, 2009 from Sheffield, United Kingdom
from the travel blog: Finding my British Roots, eh?
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Visiting Where Ollie Grew Up and Meeting New Family

Shrewsbury, United Kingdom

Yesterday afternoon I went out for lunch in Sheffield with Mom, Dad, Ang, and Ollie. We had Italian. Then Ang went to work and Mom, Dad, and I drove to see Rick and Sue, Ollie's parents. It was like driving in a twisty-straw. The roads were really curvy. We drove through the Peak District and we saw sheep, cows, and horses. Dad was driving too slow and he was holding up the traffic! He was not used to the windy roads. Then we got to Rick and Sue's place. It's in a tiny village. Their house is really nice and big. Rick made a sign that said 'Welcome to Our Place, Val, Kris, and Dave.' My name went first--haha! Sue made us a nice dinner, then I got to see pictures of Ollie when he was little. Everybody went to bed, but I stayed up to wait for Ang and Ollie. They didn't get here until midnight, but I wasn't tired! Ang had to work late so that's why they got here late.

This morning we went to Shrewsbury, it's a really nice old town, it's where Ollie grew up. It's where Charles Darwin grew up too. Rick told us it's a medieval town. First we went to the castle. We climbed up to the castle wall and we could see the whole town and all the buildings. Rick and Sue took us on a nice walk through the town. We saw some buildings with little doors. People must have been a lot shorter back then.

We also saw the house of Bob Cratchett from the last A Christmas Carol movie. Well, not his real house, but his house in the movie. There was a beautiful secret garden with flowers and waterfalls. We took pictures of the British duck in a pond.

We picked up Ollie's brother Tom and we drove to a pub half way between Rick and Sue's and Ben and Ellie's. It was in Worcestershire. We had lunch there. AND we met baby Freddie and his parents, Ben and Ellie! Ben is Ollie's other brother. Baby Freddie stole my glasses 3 times. It was really funny. He has a cute, smiley face. I gave him a teddy bear from Canada. Everybody snuggled with baby Freddie. He is always happy.

Freddie just learned how to clap and it's really cute. After lunch we went to the park and went for a walk. Everyone was there-- me, Mom, Dad, Ang, Ollie, Rick, Sue, Tom, Ben, Ellie, and of course Freddie.

British words of the day:
bap= bun or roll

permalink written by  valnyhout on April 18, 2009 from Shrewsbury, United Kingdom
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Baths and Babies

Bath, United Kingdom

On Sunday Sue made us a nice turkey lunch. Ollie’s grandpa Jack and the rest of his family came for lunch. We played a game called Articulate and we all laughed a lot. We went for a walk to a mere – kind of like a pond. In the evening we went to a pub quiz at the pub in Cockshutt. My team was me, Ollie and Mom and Dad. We didn’t win. Angela was on a team with Rick and Sue and Jack. They didn’t win either.

Yesterday we went to a city called Bath. We saw the Roman baths ruins – they were interesting and a little bit boring. It's sort of like a museum. They gave us phones that were audio guides so we could get information about what we were looking at. It was a place the Romans went to to swim and get exercise and go to the spa. There's one spa that is really warm and they used it for healing people who were hurt or sick. It is heated by the Earth! We saw where the ancient Romans had built a temple to the goddess Minerva. Beside the baths is the Abbey. This is a big, beautiful church that we went through. Me, Mom, and Dad went through. Ang and Ollie didn't go in. There were lots of plaques to read but most of them were in Latin. We walked around the city of Bath. It is very pretty.
We saw where lots of rich people live and the Royal Cresent, where they filmed some different movies. We had fish and chips for lunch and I tried a tostado for dinner.

We stayed in Bristol overnight. We checked into a nice hotel – they gave us wine while we lined up to register.

Today we went to see baby Alfie. He’s really cute and really small. He's only 2 weeks old. He had teeny, tiny hands. He didn’t steal my glasses like Freddie. I got to hold baby Alfie. And the others took pictures of us. Zoe and baby Alfie and me got our picture together. Dad has a cold so he didn’t get to hold baby Alfie. Alfie said to me that I am his Auntie. He calls me Auntie Val.

Now we are heading back to Sheffield. I miss you all at school!

British words of the day:

nappy= diaper
lorry= transport truck

permalink written by  valnyhout on April 21, 2009 from Bath, United Kingdom
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Knights of the Double Black Diamond

Castleton, United Kingdom

Last night I went to a social club at Gateway Mencap in Sheffield. There was a coffee house room and a music room for dancing and a games room with snooker tables. I got to see Angela’s office because she works there. I met some new friends. Simon was looking out for me for Angela. I danced with a guy named Michael. I watched some soccer, or as they call it, football. It was a really fun night.

Today we went to a castle. It is called Peveril Castle and is in a town called Castleton. It was a really, really long walk up to the castle. If they had snow, and if you could ski there, it would be like skiing down a double black diamond. The castle is over 1000 years old. When you get to the top, it is a beautiful view.
When the castle was built, there would have been knights in armour and the king would sometimes come to visit the castle. This was medieval times.
After we looked at the castle, we had lunch in the pretty little town of Castleton. We saw a school that looked like something from Harry Potter.

In the farms all around the town, there were lots and lots of sheep and lots of cute baby lambs, chasing after their moms. (In England, they spell mom different. They spell it mum.)

There are lots of mountains all around and as we were driving out of Castleton, we drove through a tiny valley between the mountains. It felt like the mountains were hugging us. The roads were really narrow and again, they were twisty. My dad is getting more used to driving on the other side of the road but he still drives slower than the other drivers.

British word of the day: cuppa = cup of tea

p.s. So sad to hear the real Knights - the London Knights - are done for the year but it sounds like they played well.

permalink written by  valnyhout on April 22, 2009 from Castleton, United Kingdom
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Jackie Arrives!

Sheffield, United Kingdom

For the last few days we have been exploring Sheffield. At the end of our street, there is a restaurant called ‘Scotts’ – just like my boyfriend. We took a walk to the downtown, (they call it the city centre) which is only about a ten minute walk from Angela and Ollie’s apartment. Every few minutes a tram went by – we call them streetcars at home. There are also double-decker buses. The downtown is very busy with people and in one part there are no cars allowed. There are lots of stores, or as they call them, shops. There are pretty fountains and old churches and old buildings right in the downtown.

Later we drove to a huge shopping mall, called Meadowhall. I bought some new clothes that are really fashionable in Britain. I made my dad carry all my bags for me.
Then finally Jackie arrived! Now I have both my sisters with me to bug. Jackie flew into London and then took a train to Sheffield. She was very tired but she stayed up and visited with us. I dressed up in my new clothes to show Jackie.
The next day, we went for a walk through the botanical gardens. There were lots of flowers in bloom and it smelled really pretty. I made Ollie hold my purse. We had lunch at an Italian restaurant called ‘Nonnas’. Ollie read in the newspaper that it is the best Italian food in England. I had one of my favourites, mussels.

In the evening I volunteered at Angela’s work. We helped the little kids make Dirt Pie for Earth Day and we helped them do other Earth Day crafts.
Today I am packing my backpack because vey early tomorrow morning I fly to Rome with my sisters. I’ll try to blog when I can while we are backpacking.
British words of the day:
Dustbin = trashcan
Biscuit = cookie

permalink written by  valnyhout on April 25, 2009 from Sheffield, United Kingdom
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When in Rome... Do as the tanned sisters do!

Rome, Italy

We had to get up really early this morning (around 4) to get our flight to Rome. Our flight was pretty good but I wasn't feeling well. We got to Rome and I started to feel better. We walked to our hostel from the train station. It's called Pink Floyd and we walk through a nice garden to get there. We have to unlock a gate to get in.

After we checked into the hostel, we bought tickets for the bus. It's a double decker bus with an open top and it takes us to all the cool sites in Rome. First we went to ANCIENT ROME! We saw the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatino. Our tickets were free too!

Then we took the bus to Trevi Fountain. We had supper at a nice Italian place. We each ate a whole pizza! I payed for supper for my sisters. Then we had Gelato. I got mixed Berry Gelato. It was really good! Tomorrow we will have another fun day in Rome before we go to Paris.

Italian words of the day: por favore: please
grazie: thank you

permalink written by  valnyhout on April 26, 2009 from Rome, Italy
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Arrividerci Rome, Bonjour Paris!

Rome, Italy

My sisters got us messed up with the time-- they forgot to put the clock ahead and we thought it was an hour earlier than it was. It was still ok though. We got on our tour bus. We took more pictures of a place with a bunch of statues, the steps of Plazza Venizia, the tomb of the unknown soldier.

We went back to Ancient Rome and took pictures of the Roman Forum. We took the bus to the Spanish Steps. The sisters got us lost again on the way there. We finally got there and took pictures. They were really nice and big and they had statues and flowers on them. It was really busy there-- lots of people. We walked up lots of stairs all the way to the top. Then we headed back to the train station, but Jackie got us there way too early. I thought it looked like Harry Potter but my sisters said it was filmed in Scotland and England. We had a nice train and our room had three bunk beds. We chatted and had some snacks on the train. When we woke up the next morning, we were in Paris. We went through Switzerland, but we were sleeping.

On our first day in Paris, it took us a while to find our hostel because the subway in Paris isn't as good as the underground in London, England. We went on the Bateaux Mouche, a boat tour on the Seine River in Paris. From the boat we saw Notre Dame church, the Eiffel Tower, other pretty churches and houses, some buses, and I think that's all. I'll take more pictures tomorrow and try to add them to my blog. We haven't been able to find a place where I can upload my pictures yet.

Tomorrow I think we'll go up the Eiffel Tower. It will be fun. We want to have a picnic by the Eiffel Tower if it's nice. And I want to go shopping too. And that's all.

permalink written by  valnyhout on April 28, 2009 from Rome, Italy
from the travel blog: Finding my British Roots, eh?
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The Pigeon Whisperer Tours Paris

Paris, France

This morning we got up early and went to a big white church called Sacre Coeur. It was just a short walk from our hostel. It was really nice and pretty. We had to climb lots of steps to get up there. We went in but we didn't stay for long because you're not allowed to take pictures and that's my favourite part.

I bought myself a Paris top from a souvenir shop. Then, we took the metro to the Arc de Triomphe.

We got in FREE for being members of the European Community. We used our British passports, but if we used our Canadian it wouldn't be free! We got up to the top by climbing lots of loopy loop stairs. Ang said it was 106m high so that's how high I climbed!
Then we walked down the Champs Elyseés. It's a famous shopping street.

Then we had a picnic outside the Eiffel Tower! We had a baguette, strawberries, peaches, bananas, and pain au chocolat. Some birds wanted to eat our picnic. The sparrows were cute but the crows were really gross and they almost pooped on us. It had been rainy so eveything was wet, but we used a blanket from Mom and Dad that was waterproof on one side. We went up the Eiffel Tower.

It was nice and we got a really great view. There were shops up there. We only went to the second floor, because my sisters were too scared but I wasn't scared.

We went to the hunchback of Notre Dame church.
It was really nice and there were lots of statues. The funniest part of the day was that a lady helped me hold some pigeons by giving me some food for them. I was holding three pigeons. I think Angela and Jackie were really terrified but I wasn't. The pigeons were pecking at my hand for the food. Angela called me the pigeon whisperer, or PW. I liked that name.

French words of the day:

pain au chocolat= chocolate bread
sacre coeur= sacred heart
notre dame= our lady
oiseaux= birds

permalink written by  valnyhout on April 29, 2009 from Paris, France
from the travel blog: Finding my British Roots, eh?
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Au Revoir Paris

Paris, France

Our last day in Paris was really fun. I love looking at statues so we went exploring and looking for some. While we were exploring we passed the Moulin Rouge – there is a movie about that. For a snack we got crepes – I had strawberry. It was tasty and really good. A crepe is kind of like a thin pancake.

We had to change hostels because we were staying in another one for the last night. I met some new friends at the new hostel. Their names are Sam and Sword. Sam was from Australia and Sword was American. I am going to add them to Facebook.
I like staying in hostels. There are always lots of people to talk to. At the hostel in Rome there was a little elevator to our room. Angela and Jackie thought they were too big for it so I took it and they walked up. The elevator was glass so they could see me and they tried to take a picture of me. The hostel in Rome was called Pink Floyd so I listed to Pink Floyd on my iPod. I liked the hostels in Paris better because I met new people.
In the afternoon of the last day in Paris, we met up with Angela’s friend Alexia. We had drinks and peanuts. When Angela was in Grade 8, she stayed with Alexia and her family in Paris and then Alexia came and stayed with us. I remember when she stayed with us and she is very nice. Alexia speaks French and we speak English. Angela said we all spoke Franglais – which is a little bit French and a little bit English. Sometimes Alexia had to use her French/English dictionary. Sometimes we used our hands to explain things. Alexia had to make a sound like a siren to tell us her boyfriend is a firefighter. It was really fun trying to talk to Alexia.
The next morning we had to get ready to fly back to England. I like backpacking but I don’t like getting up early every morning and you do that when you are backpacking. Next time I go backpacking I am going to go with Ollie and Brian and it will be called the ‘daredevil champ backpacking’. Angela and Jackie cannot go because they are not daredevils. I will go with Angela and Jackie again another time.
Back in Sheffield, today we are going to an International Food Fair – maybe I will have food from Italy or France. Tomorrow we head to Blackburn to visit some relatives and soon we head to Iceland. I told Jackie I am going to eat Puffins because it bugs her. We read that they really do eat Puffins there.
French words of the day: Au Revoir = Goodbye
Ecole = School
English word of the day: Chuffed = Happy

permalink written by  valnyhout on May 2, 2009 from Paris, France
from the travel blog: Finding my British Roots, eh?
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It's Brilliant....eh?

Blackburn, United Kingdom

On Sunday I met Dad’s relatives and saw some relatives I had met last time we were here. We drove to Blackburn where my Dad’s cousin Janet and her family live. I finally met Miriam, she is really nice. She had just got out of the hospital so we brought her some flowers. Later Elliot, Phil and Diane arrived. Philip is Dad’s cousin. Elliot is my buddy; we met last time I was in England. We laugh a lot. Elliot brought me a nice gift.

Later we all went out for dinner for Indian supper. I had really nice salmon with a good sauce and mushroom rice. I really like Indian food. We were talking and then when we finished supper we put warm wash clothes on our faces. Elliot and Miriam were saying ‘ahhh lemony’ from a commercial in England. It was really funny so I was doing it too. We were laughing a lot.

Then we went back to my cousin Nadia's house. She is really nice and let us stay at her house overnight.
In the morning, we went back to Janet’s and talked some more. Janet’s husband, Mohammed is from Libya so we got to try some really good Arabic cookies he brought from Libya. Then Dad’s cousin Eddie, his daughter Julie and her kids James and Lucy came over. James and Lucy are really cute. Janet made us lots of nice food while we were there too. I really liked visiting with all my relatives and I really hope I can see them soon. Maybe they will come to visit us in Canada.
Tomorrow morning we are going to go to Iceland. We are going to eat some puffins, Jackie’s favourite. Maybe I will try and make Jackie eat some puffins. I hope everyone in my class is having a great time at school. See you all very soon.

British word of the day:
butty= sandwich

permalink written by  valnyhout on May 5, 2009 from Blackburn, United Kingdom
from the travel blog: Finding my British Roots, eh?
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