Brace yourself for lots of photos. We had a brilliant time in France: Evie learnt to crawl and say "mamma" and we enjoyed spending time at the coast and then inland visiting chateaux in the Loire valley. Isla wasn't entirely sure what 'France' was. Most days when we were going out in the car she would ask "are we still in France?" or "are we going to France today?". She started saying "bonjour" and "merci cuckoo" a bit though, and thought that saying "oui" was hilariously funny. A highlight for her was probably the huge amounts of salami, ice cream and lollies that she got to eat.
On the overnight ferry to St Malo. Isla had been looking forward to sleeping on the ferry for a very long time, especially because of the bunk beds. When we found our cabin, she immediately started undressing for bed and got a bit upset when we said we wanted to go and have a look at the shop first. She didn't realise that the ferry actually had a shop on it and that we weren't going to leave the ferry until we got to France. She was excited to see the rest of the ship when she had figured it out! Asleep at last:
Chilling at our gite and on the beaches near Jard sur Mer in the Vendee:
The ponds near our gite where we heard frogs croaking, cuckoos and moorhen chicks. I saw a hoopoe bird around the gite a couple of times. It was a very relaxing and peaceful place to stay, with the only drama being when a HUGE hornet persistently wanted to investigate out kitchen. We saw coypu in the ponds in the mornings and evenings:
Isla flying her kite:
A park with a view - on Ile de Re:
Visiting the amazing gardens at Villandry:
Our gite in the Loire valley in a village called Monteaux near Amboise with resident dog Banjo:
We visited the Chateau at Chenonceau:
We had a rainy day at Amboise castle and had a delicious meal out nearby:
Andrew and Isla on their way to visit the dungeons at the medieval town of Loches, spookily similar to Azkaban:
At Beauval zoo, where we had a fantastic day looking at pandas, gorillas, orangutans and lots more. Perhaps the best zoo we've visited:
Evie planning our next day out by looking through ALL the leaflets at the gite:
Chaumont-sur-Loire: we visited the castle and international garden festival.
A garden inspired by the Tongariro crossing:
Spooky steam at the garden festival where Isla thought she was inside a cloud:
Another coypu sighting:
At Monet's house with beautiful gardens in Giverny:
Recreating Monet's poppy field painting:
We stayed at an unusual manor house the night before catching our ferry back home. Evie finally had lots of space to practice moving about with her special one-legged crawling technique!
Back home, Isla pretending to be a fiddler crab:
Both Isla and Evie were pleased to be home after our adventures. They both suddenly had all of their toys to play with again, and their cats to cuddle. Isla has a new playmobil camper van which she is loving and which Evie is very intrigued by, but not allowed to touch! Evie is gradually perfecting her crawling technique and investigates new bits of the living room and other rooms that she hasn't looked at before. Today she kept crawling back under Isla's little table. She learnt to clap her hands yesterday, much to Isla's delight.