We started early on a Saturday morning and drove to Dover to catch the ferry to Dunkirk, France. The kids were very good on the 2.5 hour drive, but they did alternate between wanting to listen to the Glee CD (Maxwell) and their Monkey Music CD (Darian). It's a cliché that kids want to listen to and watch the same things over and over, but they really do, and it's cute at first and then annoying shortly after. We got on the boat without incident and the kids proceeded straight to the play area where they stayed the entire time. They played with a couple of French kids for a while and it was cute to watch them 'talking' to each other.
|Do you see her all the way in the back?|
|'I'm on a boat!'|
5 hours and 2 countries into the trip and I still had 2 kids with 10 finger and toes each.
The first stop was at a monastery/brewery less than an hour from Dunkirk. It has just snowed the day before so we carefully drove through Belgian farmland, dodging tractors on small back roads until we arrived at our destination. Along the way we passed a few bread vending machines that were in farm towns too small for a shop. I guess the bakery fills the machine every morning so the townsfolk don't have to make the long drive to the next town. At the monastery we had a beer (me) and ice cream (the kids-although the ice cream was made with some of the beer), before playing in the snow.
|The brewing facility.|
|Maxwell and Darian|
|Playgrounds are great even when covered in snow.|
After the kids were sufficiently frozen from playing in the snow (Jennifer almost was right, we barely survived frostbite) we were off to our next destination....The Hotel! We were staying in a town called Ieper/Ypres, a town destroyed during WW1, but was rebuilt immediately after. After a pizza dinner we messed around the hotel room.
|Nice face Darian.|
|Shower cap monster!!!|
(guess who took this picture)
In the morning we had a great breakfast (Darian ate the frosting on top of an eclair and Maxwell had a pain au chocolat) before going to the supermarket for our shopping trip. I always like doing normal stuff in a different country. It's one thing to go to tourist locations where you just see other tourists, but a grocery store is a different experience. Also, here I was not in a tourist area and away from major cities, so English was not very prevalent. But a grocery story is a grocery store, so even though I didn't know what the lady was saying I just imagined she was asking me for my club card and if I had any of my own bags, normal stuff. In the end my chip and pin card worked so I left with my beer (case and a half) and speculoo spread (12 jars).
We then made our way to the final stop, a small beer distributor on the French/Belgian border to get a few more cases. Darian slept through this part and Maxwell liked the owners dog that was roaming the aisles.
|Hop Farm near the store.|
After a quick lunch we drove back to Dunkirk and boarded that boat back to England. Maxwell and Darian played the entire time again, and wore themselves out. However, we did have a significant loss, Maxwell's stuffed airplane 'guy' was left on the boat to forever travel the English Channel. On our final approach to Oxford we again switched between the Glee and Monkey CDs, and came home to Mommy waiting patiently for us...happy we were gone, but ecstatic to see us! She didn't count their fingers and toes, but believe me, they were all still there.