A Dirty Secret... and Other Confessions of 2 Weeks Alone at Home

A few weeks ago, after our great trip to Italy, Tyler promptly packed up and had to leave for over two weeks in Iceland. I was at home with the kids and feeling a bit daunted by the idea. But you know what, after a few days, it didn’t feel so overwhelming and we were all kind of in a little routine. And, I can’t believe it, but we were actually having fun! (Is that what it feels like to be moving out of the trenches of small children? If so, it’s all I hoped it could be!)

So here’s the point where I let you in on a private little nuance of our marriage: I don’t do laundry. It’s not because “I DO NOT DO LAUNDRY,” but it just kind of ended up being a division of labour we did when we were just married and have kept to it. We both have things we routinely tackle, and laundry is not on my radar. At all. Well, at least the cleaning of it. I’m very good at making things dirty. 

While he was away, the culmination of a month’s worth of summer clothes from holiday and the start of school collided. Laundry had to be done. And I was in that groove of being alone with the kids, so I decided to start my first load of laundry in our washing machine.

It was actually super simple. In fact, it was so simple, I went a little crazy. I did load after load- kinda feeling awesome as I got through another batch and put all the pieces away…. Except I wasn’t love the quality of the laundry.

Now laundry here in England is just different. We have one small machine that does both washing and drying. We don’t enjoy the luxurious fluff cycle that makes clothes super warm and wrinkle-free. We, more or less, have to hang every item on a giant old Victorian rack that hangs above our bathtub for at least half a day to get it fully dry. So I’m used to a bit of wrinkles, crunchiness to our clothes. It’s just the difference between what clothes feel like when I wash them in the US and when I wash them here.

IMG_1611.jpeg

But these clothes just seemed dingy. They smelled amazing but they didn’t seem to get washed better.

I spot treated some. I opted to put the detergent straight on the clothes. I kept washing and resigned the situation to just a small tariff to life in London.

Well, Tyler got home and life returned to normal, but I was still keen to keep the laundry moving through the house at a rate that would impress the Swiss military. 

One day as I sat perched on the little stairs leading down into the laundry room/tiny cupboard that is built out from the house- I moaned to Tyler that Viola’s school socks were still so gross looking and so dingy. He just shrugged it off and kept hanging up the recently washed items.

Then I asked him if he had a trick for keeping the detergent from building up in the dispenser. He replied, well it won’t ever do that because it’s the pods.

The pods? No, I was using the liquid detergent and I held up the bottle.

He looked at me with confusion. Then he explained to me that I was holding fabric softener. 

And then I explained to him that I had been washing every single load with fabric softener for the past two weeks because that was what I thought was detergent… along with an extra cup of the other brand of fabric softener. And in that moment, all the lovely smelly, dingy clothes that I had been folding and smugly putting away suddenly made so much more sense. (In my defence, Tyler agrees that it is really poorly marked on the outside and is pretty confusing. It says very small on the back that it is fabric softener, but you have to be looking for it.)

I tossed everything back in the wash, tucked a pod at the bottom and restarted the load and haven’t stopped rolling my eyes at myself since. But hopefully, it makes you laugh and realise that each and every one of you is probably better at laundry than I am.. and to let you know that the reason I haven’t posted in a while is because I’ve been so busy doing domestic skills at low-caliber.

IMG_1612.jpeg

Anyone else have a great story of totally missing the mark like this? I’m really hoping to get some other votes of over-confidence here, so I’m gonna make this a competition. The winner of the funniest story gets a $10 Starbucks gift card. (I’ll award it on Friday.) 

Don’t leave me out to dry (pun intended) on this one….



*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Pack Your Bags | Honfleur, France

AfterlightImage-2.jpg

You know those faded posters that would hang in your high school classrooms of far away places that seemed to be from a different world? Distant locations like Mont St. Michel or Machu Picchu that felt as if they were in a world that you’d never actually see, but the picture just seemed… well, exotic. Or maybe just exotic in comparison to the topic you were learning about as a fourteen-year-old student who had just returned from their lunch period. I remember staring at those places every day and just noting all the tiny details of them.

Well, Honfleur is definitely one of those places that seems like it was made just for posters and impressionist paintings… but it actually is very much a real place you can visit in France. In fact, I’ll add that you really should go there. It makes for a perfect spot to see when you’re on your way to Normandy from Paris. In fact, can I just be a bit bossy and tell you exactly how I’d play out the day if I was planning a trip from Paris? Okay, then, I will... if you insist.

First, depart Paris in the morning. Give yourself enough time to get a rental car and hit the road. Drive to Giverny for an early morning visit- right when it opens, if you can time it. Then leave in time to Honfleur for a late lunch. You’ll arrive into town, park in the main lot by the famous harbour (you can easily do hourly parking there), and walk into for food. Don’t dawdle on the front side of your trip around the photographic harbour- all the restaurants stop serving lunch at 2pm, so you’ll want to be seated before then to avoid disappointment. (And by “disappointment,” I, of course, mean having to eat at some yucky spot selling stale sandwiches and fried chicken. 

My recommendation for a great spot for lunch is l’Atelier. It looks pretty standard from the front, but the interiors and the terrace is the perfect spot to spend a lunch. (Or an afternoon over tea/coffee & homemade baked goods.) The menu is really short for lunch- maybe 7-8 items to choose from- so it won’t be a great spot for the pickiest of eaters. However, if you’re an easy eater and want to eat amongst actual Honfleurais, this is the spot for you. The menu, while brief, is perfect. Think daily specials like a courgette (zucchini) and goat cheese tatin, a vegetable pasta with parmesan cream sauce, or vegetable soup served with goat cheese, honey & walnut tartines alongside it. And if you can, don’t skip dessert and coffee. It’s definitely worth the extra 30 minutes. 

AfterlightImage-6.jpg
AfterlightImage-7.jpg

This spot is also great for kids, as it has a big space alongside the restaurant for tired kids to wander around while the food is cooked. Plus, an adorable vintage high chair for your baby to sit in while you eat.

AfterlightImage.jpg

After you’ve finished lunch, head to the harbour for a photographic walk around the coloured buildings. If you’re with kids, take a few spins on the gorgeous Belle Epoque carousel sitting on the edge of the water. (We love to get a seat in one of the cool vintage airplanes up on the top level!)

IMG_1517.JPG
IMG_1516.JPG

Walk off the water into the main square in town. There you’ll see the famous Saint Catherine’s church that was built by ship-builders and has a distinct look from it. The inside of the church looks as if you’re standing underneath upside down boat as you walk inside. Admission is free and definitely worth a stop.

From there, well, the choice is yours, but I’d recommend doing a little bit of souvenir shopping in the form of salted-butter caramel hunting. (Normandy is the king of salted caramel. It’s the home of the famous salt from Isigny-sur-Mer and great cream from the cows, making it the perfect place for such a treat to be made.) There are several shops near the cathedral that sell it, but I’ll recommend the smaller the shop- the better their seemed to be. Look for shops that have homemade little wrappers and women working inside that actually made them. Those are the ones you’ll want to spend your money on and will haunt you until your next trip to the tiny town.

And at that point, well, you’ve probably seen it. It’s a beautiful town, but a small one. After you’ve done that, I’d hit the road and keep driving on deeper into Normandy. We’ve stayed in the town a couple of times and I’m not sure it’s worth the extra time there in comparison to some of the other nearby places you can get go. (Though I do dream of staying and eating at Ferme Saint Simeon someday…) If you’re staying in the famous town of Bayeaux, you’re about an hour away, or you could keep going another hour and stay at our very favourite stop, Chateau de Servigny

Have you been to Honfleur before? What was the best part of your day there? Or, more importantly, the best thing covered in salted-caramel you ate?


FIND MORE OF MY FAVOURITE THINGS IN NORMANDY HERE OR IN MY FRANCE GUIDE.



*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on October 29, 2018 and filed under normandy, france, travel.

To A Tea | The Dorchester Hotel

I remember when I was three, my mom came into the living room one afternoon and asked if any of us wanted to go boating with her. While my other siblings mumbled out “nah,” I looked around with horror and jumped at the opportunity. About ten minutes later, I was soon confused as to why we were standing under the yellow lamps of the nearby high school in a long line to reach a table of old women with highlighters and paperwork. When I asked her when we would actually be getting to get to the boats, she laughed and said, “No, we are going VOTING. Not boating.” I was, as you can imagine, let down at the miscommunication. However, I remember feeling really special that I got to go on this special trip out with my mom in the early evening hours. Just me and her- which, as the middle child, rarely happened. I saw her transcend her normal role as “mom” into a normal, everyday human doing something that was totally outside my normal realm of her duties. It’s funny that I remember that, but it was just the first time I remember her in a different role other than “mom."

IMG_1135.JPG

This week, Viola & I were invited for a special date at The Dorchester Hotel to have afternoon tea. Now, I love afternoon tea and I love the Dorchester, so I was really excited, but what made me even more excited was the chance to do it during their special half-term afternoon tea for little girls. The tea features all the wonderful goodness of their classic afternoon teas, but with the added bonus of REAL ballerinas from the English National Ballet coming to dance and perform a modified version of Sleeping Beauty for them. As if getting to socialise and swan around with real dancers wasn’t enough, they also had a pianist playing all the best songs (A Million Dreams, Disney classics and the like) and face painting. It was both a five-year-old’s dream…. and her mother’s.

IMG_1134.JPG
IMG_1133.JPG
IMG_1514.JPG

But the best part for moms? The amazing staff didn’t bat an eye at the overcharged excitement of the junior guests. Instead, they were being totally kind and welcoming to them. (Which is not always the case in fine hotels, if you know what I mean.) It felt so indulgent and, yet, so unstuffy. 

IMG_1132.JPG
IMG_1130.JPG
IMG_1129.JPG
IMG_1127.JPG

I’ve always loved the themed teas that the Dorchester offers- their Wimbledon tea in the summer is especially cute- but this was definitely a special treat. I mean, let’s be honest, it doesn’t have to be a fancy day out in London to make your children feel special. It could honestly just be a coffee date or a walk through the park with a sandwich on a bench... but this definitely is a great memory to be saved for a later day. One I know I’ll cherish, and I hope she will, too.

IMG_1515.JPG

Find more about the Dorchester’s Afternoon Teas here or browse my favourite spots for Afternoon Tea here.



*image original to Aspiring Kennedy

*this afternoon tea was gifted to us by the Dorchester

An American's Survival Guide to Autumn in London

There are a few things that I deeply understand as an American living in England. First, we give smiles and need to receive smiles from people in a way they don’t here. (Especially in London!) Second, their relationship with sweetcorn and inclination to add it to an endless amount of food dishes still shocks me. I’m looking at you, pizza with corn on top. Finally, an American’s love for fall festivities will never be matched here with the same enthusiasm as in the States. I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it is the sad truth.

However, I have to say that there are a few things I’ve navigated to make the season a bit more, well, American, if I’m honest. If I want my kids to experience the joys of picking out pumpkins from patch, trick or treating & pumpkin pie, it took a bit of a learning curve. Here are the major pointers I’d give to anyone about what they do here in London (or don’t do), and how we make the experience feel a bit more like home.

IMG_0646.JPG


HALLOWEEN | When we first arrive to the UK, this holiday was nearly non-existent except for a depressing section of disgusting face paint and sexy costumes in the back of Clinton Cards. It seemed only to be celebrated by university students who wanted to get super drunk and be obnoxious that evening in public places. However, its slowly grown and, with the encouragement of American expats and the internet, become a bit more normal. However, not all neighbourhoods are created equal in trick or treating. Just like you knew the good neighbourhoods as a kid where they gave the best candy, it’s helpful to know where the concentrated areas are in London. We like Notting Hill and Holland Park. Both seem to have the best concentration of decorated houses with good traffic and fun costumes. Be warned: the kids costumes are a bit darker here, but that too is getting better each year. We have been a painter, a teddy bear, Paw Patrol and the like and the reactions been met with great response. It seems that more people are ditching the creepy mutilated faces and letting the kids choose fun costumes- which feels more like the US to me.

Screen Shot 2018-10-23 at 7.09.30 PM.png
Screen Shot 2018-10-23 at 7.00.48 PM.png

If you don’t have kids, help out and decorate a bit for Halloween so people know you’re giving out candy to kids! It’s a fun and easy way to grow this fun night of the year, and give it a less creepy reputation. 

PUMPKIN PATCHES | While groceries stores like Waitrose and Tesco will set out a small box of pumpkins, it’s hard to find a good one to really carve in the local stores. If you’ve got a car, I’d really recommend heading out of London to a pumpkin patch. We love the one we go to: Crockford Bridge Farm. It’s about 45 minutes from West London.

IMG_0872.JPG
IMG_0871.JPG
IMG_0873.JPG
IMG_0867.JPG

It’s got all the essentials: loads of pumpkins to choose from, a great play area for the kids complete with a fort, tree swing and rope swing/zipline. You can visit the tea shack serving up snacks, a field you can wander (on select weekends) to choose your own pumpkin, a farm shop next door with great produce and a Lidgate butcher shop. It’s such a great day out!

IMG_0869.JPG
IMG_0868.JPG
IMG_0866.JPG

We always follow it up with dinner at The Cricketers pub nearby. It’s a few minutes drive, it’s not fancy, but it has a little playground for kids to play on while you sit at picnic benches beside it. 

THANKSGIVING | You’ll need to prepare yourself for this one a bit and realise that to the UK, this beloved holiday, is literally just another Thursday smooshed in the middle of a work week in the dark and dreary months. Plan in advance for a Thanksgiving dinner on the evening, or opt for a weekend lunch celebration in the days before/after. (You’re basically forcing it to happen out of nowhere, so you might as well pick a time that works best for you.) Luckily, the UK holiday season will have already been pushed off and you’ll have the benefit of shopping for ingredients from the available Christmas dinner shopping supplies. Turkeys, stuffing, cranberries, gravy, potatoes are all in his stock at this time. However, for the more American items (canned pumpkin, green beans, French’s fried onions, etc.), you’ll need to get a bit creative. Online shops though Ocado and Tesco can yield good results. I always make a run to Whole Foods for filling out the items I still lack or have little motivation to track down. There you can either order an entire pre-made dinner (that’s really good, but a bit pricy), or individual containers of items like turkey gravy, cornbread stuffing, cranberry sauce, roasted veggies, and ready made pies. 

If you opt for the ordered dinner, make sure to submit your order with a good lead time so you don’t miss out. They’re a popular option amongst expats!

You can get turkeys from any major store at that time. I prefer Waitrose for a full bird and Marks and Spencer for their boneless turkey crowns- less pretty on a table but such an easier cut to cook and eat! Also, a word of warning if you go with The Ginger Pig (also popular) for one of their organic turkeys: expect loads of quills to still be in the skin (gag) and most of the legs to still be attached. My dad had the horrible job of amputating our £75(!!!) turkey from them a few years ago and the screams from me and my mom as we opened the box still make my stomach lurch. Gross.

GUY FAWKES | Now this isn’t an American holiday (obviously), but for newcomers, it’s on a big celebration on the 5th of November where Guy Fawkes’ famous plot to blow up parliament with barrels of gunpowder was foiled. Look up options in TimeOut to see what local fireworks displays are on. Hopefully, it won’t be a soggy night out, but if not, expect a little bit of a State Fair atmosphere (food trucks, some rides, etc) at the bigger fireworks shows. Many will have two timings- one for families that is a bit earlier and a later one, too. It’s a fun celebration, so book in advance (required at most of the good shows, as they sell out!) and get into the holidays here, too. After all, we are Americans and never need a good excuse to enjoy a celebration.

*    *.   *

I guess the good news for all of us- no matter if we live in the US or the UK- is that there are still Snickers bars, toffee apples & hot chocolate in both countries. Phew.



Find out more about of what’s different about our expat life in the UK here.



*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on October 24, 2018 and filed under holiday, life as an expat.

Tuscany Day Trip | Bonassola on the Italian Riviera

When I was 19, I was introduced to the Cinque Terre. After traveling to Italy several times before, something felt unique and untouched about this place. It was charming with tiny streets, dramatic beaches smashed on the Mediterranean, and the pesto… oh, baby. It was lush. Tyler and I would sit on the rocks in Vernazza with picnics at sunset and jump off the rocks of Manorola and feel like this was as good as cheap thrills can get.

Since that first time, I have to say (as many other would agree), it’s not really the same. It’s been blown up by tourism in a way that is both like winning the lottery for some locals and devastates a place of its natural charm. We visited Vernazza this summer and, literally, waddled along the main road trying to walk with so many other tourists alongside us. (To be fair, it was July and it was the day a cruise ship docked.) 

A few weeks later, we were at dinner with our friends, Grant, Georgette & Nico in Florence. I asked them where they went for a day out to the beach. Without skipping a beat, Georgette & Nico (who are married) said: "Bonassola!”

They explained that it was just beyond the top town of the Cinque Terre, just beyond Levanto. They said you could drive, you could rent chairs on the beach, that it was stuffed with Italians and, of course, pesto-covered focaccia. We were sold.

A few days later, we loaded up the kids for the 2+ hour drive there. We got takeaway cappuccinos (“a porta via”) and pastries from the best little spot, Laquale, near where we stay.

IMG_5682.JPG

We packed up the kids and a million other things (floaties, clean clothes,  water bottles, snacks, sun cream, laptop for Tyler, and, seemingly, every other random other thing we have ever owned.) As we started our mountainous decent from Levanto to Bonassola, we realised how special this place was. It’s a little bay where Italians come to spend August. You can tell that the people there are families that have come back to the same little apartments and beach clubs for years. There are friendships there that are so obvious and so charming. Yet, we still felt the perfect balance of being unnoticed outsiders and friendly experiences. 

IMG_7443.JPG
IMG_5855.JPG
IMG_7445.JPG

You can rent a beach chair for the day for about €15 per chair. I rented chairs for 6 of us, but it was honestly, a bit of a waste of money. I think for the 7 of us, I could have only rented 3, as for the most part, we were coming and going to the water. 

IMG_5848.JPG
IMG_5847.JPG

We grabbed pizzas from a tiny local spot that had a giant line snaking out of, which obviously meant I wanted to try it, too. We had a sandy little lunch eating pizzas and peaches from the local market what spills right out from the beach front. I met men from Burkino Faso selling gorgeous blankets and grabbed one as a souvenir from the day.

IMG_5844.JPG
IMG_5854.JPG
IMG_5852.JPG
IMG_5846.JPG

The water was clear and pretty- as you would expect the Italian Riviera to be. A dead jellyfish floated up and some kids pulled it ashore and played with it for hours. When Viola told me she had been playing with a jellyfish, I definitely didn’t believe her, but our au pair, Camino, laughed and said it was true. I wandered down to see it in person and found about ten kids squatting around it, playing with its tentacles. 

IMG_7442.JPG

As the sun started to set and the beach chairs started to gradually become empty, we packed up and wandered into town to find a place for dinner. The tables of the cafes were all filled with families and friends sipping aperitivos, eating pizzas and watching as their kids ran around the fountains by them.

IMG_5853.JPG

And as they say, when in Rome, do as the Romans. So we sat down and ordered as our kids ran free. They climbed up on the steps, the climbed down, they made friends with the family playing by them and ended up eating the kids crackers, at their mom’s kind offering. It was nearly dream-like.

IMG_5845.JPG

I kinda love to keep places like this a secret, because it makes me nervous to think that one day, Bonassola will be just like the Cinque Terre. Overexposed and haggard, but I kinda think that maybe if we spread out a bit, took a chance on other places and tried something that wasn’t just listed in every single tour book//blog, maybe we’d just disperse the chaos a bit better than we currently are doing. Well, that’s my hope at least. Maybe there is actually enough of great spaces for all of us to enjoy, if we don’t feel the pressure to fight for a space in the well-known ones. Because let me tell you, this was not settling for a consolation prize. This day trip to Bonassola was the jewel in the crown of our time staying in Florence.

And if you go, look for me. I’ll be the one on a beach chair- buried under kid’s floaties and empty boxes of pizzas- with a very content look on my face.


Find more of my favourite easy day trips from Tuscany or browse my Italy travel guide to help plan your trip.



*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

My Paris | Aux Merveilleux de Fred

unnamed.jpg

I can’t go to Paris and not stop by for a loaf of warm brioche at Fred’s, or, as it’s officially called “Aux Merveilleux de Fred.” Now, what made me initially fall in love with this place was it’s incredible delicate- and remarkably inexpensive- “merveilleux.” Imagine if you will, meringue cookies, topped with the lightest flavoured fillings, and rolled in chocolate shavings and toasted nuts. Oh baby, they are so good.

unnamed-11.jpg
unnamed-12.jpg

BUT… their brioche is actually better.

There, I said it. But it’s true. One day, I turned my gaze in the shop from the jewellery-box like display of tiny cakes and watched the bakers pulling warm loaves of brioche out of the oven. Then I noticed smart French women waiting, not for the pastries, but requesting “les cramiques,” or the loaves of brioche. I quickly swapped lines- because you ALWAYS follow the lead of smartly dressed French women- and bought a loaf.

unnamed-2.jpg
unnamed-8.jpg
unnamed-9.jpg

I brought it out to the street and sat down by Tyler. I looked at him and said something along the lines of, “I think this is about to blow us away. I just have a feeling about it.”

And the next thing you know, we took a bite of the warm bread and crunched down on the tiny sugar pearls that were candied over… and we blacked out with happiness. We ate the entire loaf in under thirty seconds- it was like a warm Krispy Kreme donut. Then we went in and bought a second loaf. I can’t remember if we ate the entire loaf then and there, too, but I’m not saying we didn’t.

unnamed-13.jpg
unnamed-14.jpg

This little chain is from Lille, but now there are a few locations in and around France, with a handful in Paris. Which makes it the absolute must-bring-back souvenir for us whenever one of us goes. Its always the last stop we make before the Eurostar- because the fresher the loaf, the happier the spouse.

Definitely don’t miss the chance to go. We like the location in the Marais- near the river, just a few minutes from the Saint Paul Metro station. Not only can you get a great treat, but you can also walk down to Peloton Coffee (about 50 yards away) and get a great coffee to drink with it. This is one of my very favourite place to go when I’m in Paris- whether I’m stopping to grab one for a snack on a quick day trip or lucky enough to pick up a loaf in the morning for breakfast during one of our longer stays.

unnamed-7.jpg

Oh! And a very important note: I know the chocolate loaf looks like it would be better. But it’s really not. Time and time again, we have strayed- but those crunchy, perfect sugar pearls always win. Don’t be fooled to step up, when your true love is waiting right in front of you.

AUX MERVEILLEUX DE FRED | 24 Rue du Pont Louis-Philippe, Paris 75004 


Find more of my favourite places in Paris here or look at my travel guide.



*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on October 3, 2018 and filed under my paris, paris, eat.

Pack Your Bags | Glendalough & Wicklow National Park

The very first day of my very first semester working with students overseas involved me picking up a new group from the Dublin airport and taking them via private coach to visit the Celtic monastery, Glendalough, set in the gorgeous Wicklow National Park. Well, at the time, I didn’t know it was gorgeous. I had never been. I spent the entire semester guiding the group to places that were new to them.. and me. But there was something about it that gave me such an excitement- just like they had- to experience the place. It’s hard to replicate the first time you experience a place- and the joy/eagerness Tyler & I both felt wandering those ruins was pretty huge. (I think we were both marvelling at the thought that “this” was actually a job.)

Years passed and for some reason, we moved that day off the Ireland itinerary because it just felt a bit soggy during the dark days of November when we were going. We freshened things up a bit… and it got removed. But this spring, it felt right to add it back in during a trip that would bring us through in late spring. When we got there, it was all blue skies and bright yellow flowers lining the trails. 

IMG_6080.JPG
IMG_6048.JPG

We got to see the incredible ruins and walk out to both of the lakes (about a 25 minute walk each way). Edie even took a killer nap- despite the struggle it was to push her stroller along the gravel path. Admittedly, I looked pretty pathetic- opting for a carrier or heavy-duty stroller the next time around! 

IMG_6047.JPG
IMG_6084.JPG
IMG_6083.JPG

This is such an easy day-out from Dublin. Be adventurous and rent a car to make the most of the day. If it were me, I’d recommend heading out in the morning and go there first. (You don’t need a reservation to visit the ruins, but the visitors centre can be crowded. If so, don’t worry- you’re not missing much. Unless it’s pouring rain, and then its a nice shelter.

Walk out to the two lakes, if the weather is nice. The views are gorgeous and will check off any boxes you have of cliche Irish scenery. It’s all you’d want- green, rolling hills  and serene lakes. Ah. Stunning! You’ll more of less feel like Hillary Swank in P.S. I Love You. (I make my students watch this movie on the bus ride the day before. And I still cry every single time, in case you were wondering.)

IMG_6085.JPG
IMG_5894.jpeg
IMG_6046.JPG

After you’ve seen it all, you can either drive to the Wicklow Heather nearby for a pub lunch surrounding by relics of Ireland’s great writers or you can opt to drive a bit further on to eat in the cafe at Powerscourt Estate. The food is killer, the shops have so many great Irish brands and treats to take home, and the views of the gardens from the outdoor terrace are stunning on a pretty day. It definitely is my favourite option, in case you were curious.

If you’re looking for more of my favourite places in Ireland, look in my travel guide to Ireland for ideas and places we love!



*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on October 1, 2018 and filed under ireland, travel.

Swiss Wedding Wows

Sometimes you sneak away for a little getaway, and sometimes you splash it all over Instagram like it’s the 4th of July. For those of you not following on Instagram (come on, though, you should, we have fun on there) you may not know that this weekend, Tyler & I left town for a crisp 48 hours away. We went to Switzerland for my dear friend Annie’s wedding to her Swiss mister, Alex. (You may remember the incredible day out on Mount Rigi we had together in June.)

With how crazy the last week was for us and how hard it is to leave the kids, it took us some time to get into the groove of getting away. The flight was delayed, the weather in London was meh… but once we finally got on the train in from Zurich’s airport into Lucerne- I starting getting really giddy to get out and show him all the best spots. (The Lion Statue! The Chapel Bridge! The boat ride out to Mount Rigi! Mill’Feuille for breakfast! Max Chocolate Shop!)

IMG_7437.JPG

We made the most of our time there: site-seeing, eating really well, spending Saturday at the most gorgeous wedding in the history of all time (this is a fact, sorry, not open for discussion), and staying out way too late for people in their 30’s with kids, and waking up to do our monthly budget on Sunday because we are people in their 30’s with kids. 

IMG_7413.JPG
IMG_7398.JPG

I know, I know, that getting away with little kids is really hard. It was our first time to just make something with the two of us happen since we went to Hawaii in 2017, so I can’t really pretend that we get to practice this very often. But, it is really good and such a treat. It’s worth the hustle, pushing aside the extra money to cover childcare, and the endless-schedule arranging to make that time together actually happen. I can only tell you: it does wonder for your relationship to discover something new together away from the ordinary of the everyday. 

IMG_7438.JPG

Ooh! And as I write that, I realise that this is a perfect time to announce something new here. If you’re starved for time together and want to get away- Tyler & I are actually hosting a couples trip this May! I’ve only announced it on Instagram stories at this point, but want to share it here, too. We’ll be headed to Normandy from May 18-23rd. We are renting a giant chateau, seeing all the great D-Day and Norman sites, kinda acting like we are B-List celebs with a private chef, and splitting up the cost so we can all recharge and hang out together. There are a few rooms left, so if you’re interested, hopefully, you can join us. Hang out with us. Have a great time somewhere special that guys and girls seem to equally like. Enjoy getting away together with just the two of you. And make some new couple friends, too. (Who couldn’t use a few new friends at this stage of their life? I could!) The rooms are given away on a first-come, first-served. All are welcome. (Just be nice and normal, please. Ha!)

*Sorry, no kids on this trip! It’s for time-starved couples that need to reconnect… like us. Ha! (Italics)

For more information, email lauren@aspiringkennedy.com.

IMG_7396.JPG

Read more posts from our travels in Switzerland or look in my travel guide to Switzerland here.



*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on September 27, 2018 and filed under switzerland, travel, marriage.

My Florence | Breakfast at Villa Cora

As our schedule seems to typically fall, we are often traveling over my birthday. Because of an early August birthday, I’ve been able to celebrate birthdays in some pretty lush places. Being the good man that he is, Tyler knows that the thing I love to do most when ushering in a new year of life is to find the prettiest breakfast possible to celebrate. It just feels like the biggest treat to me. 

While there may have been many fine hotel beds and bathtubs that made me swoon, what really seems to stand out to me in thinking back on great hotels is the breakfast. There’s just nothing more indulgent than waking up in a pretty room and wandering down to a pretty table and pretty, homemade food and hot delicious coffee. Its in those moment that I feel my brain get the warm fuzzies of complete travel bliss. 

For my 34th birthday (34!!!), we headed to Villa Cora below Piazzale Michaelangelo in Florence. We passed it a few nights earlier driving with a friend: it glowed on the hillside with pretty lighting and had an ambiance that made me wish I had a slinky ballgown to go dance on the terrace in. When I asked her what it was, she replied that it was called Villa Cora and was a gorgeous hotel. Call it fate, call it destiny.... but I knew then and there that was the place we needed to try this year.

IMG_5863.JPG

And I can’t say that it disappointed in anyway. The service was incredible, the setting was Florentine posh in all the best ways, the food was a mix between the Italian finest and made-to-order requests. (I mean, goodness, they serve their fruit on columns of ice.) The terrace to eat on overlooks the fountain and gardens and it just feels.... decadent.

IMG_5856.JPG
IMG_5858.JPG

We for a couple of hours- no kids, no problem- enjoying every bite and sipping coffee and fresh cold press juices and any other item we had a whim to try. The staff was so sweet and didn’t rush us one bit.

IMG_5857.JPG
IMG_5859.JPG
IMG_5861.JPG

Afterwards, we were invited to explore the villa and gardens, enjoy a takeaway coffee and felt like we were actual hotel guests. 

We wandered down into the garden and sat on a white couch and Tyler obliged me by spending the next hour doing one of my other most beloved activities: financial planning. Ha! How fun of a date am I? But seriously, I love having time to chat through big picture ideas and after a a nice, relaxed morning- it was the perfect time to go through it.

IMG_5860.JPG

Would I recommend going to Villa Cora for breakfast in Florence? Yes! It’s €35 per person and a great option for a celebration or girly morning out. I’d recommend calling before you go to get a table reserved on the terrace, as that really is the best seat in the house and seating is quite limited.


VILLA CORA | Viale Machiavelli, 18, 50125 Firenze FI | +39 055 228790


Find more of my favourite places in Florence in my travel guide.



*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on September 25, 2018 and filed under florence, italy, marriage, my florence.

Tuscany Day Trip | Collodi + Pinnochio Park

Today, we were leaving for Lucca when a friend mentioned that we should stop by Collodi and show the kids the town that is famous for it’s connection to the famous Italian story, Pinocchio. (Apparently, the author’s pen name was “Carlo Collodi,’ which he chose as a tie to his mother’s native village.) 

After a great day biking around Lucca and eating small mountains of gelato, we hit the road for Collodi. When we pulled up on a late August afternoon, it felt as if this town had been long-forgotten, but with several shops overflowing with Pinocchio toys and a giant statue of him welcoming us into town, we parked and wandered around to see what awaited us.

We soon stumbled upon the Pinocchio Park, which seemed like the best option. After all, we had already paid for parking, got the kids out of their car seats and strapped them in. As we stood in the empty ticket area with faded murals on the walls around us, we forked over €44 for the 5 of us to enter with the feeling that we were overpaying for what we were about to experience. 

We walked in and looked around. None of the rides were currently running, as there was a puppet show in progress. One single employee ducked behind an old stage and performed (in Italian) the story of Pinocchio for the small crowd sitting out in the audience. 

IMG_5870.jpeg
IMG_5608.jpeg

We cringed and continued on taking note that we had just paid a chunk of change to to enter a park that is completely in a timewarp. The park consists of, literally, three tiny, vintage rides- each kid can ride each one twice, a small playground, a little trail to follow with a zipline, a few dusty caravans to walk through, a little craft hut and a snack bar. There are some bronze sculptures dotted around and a giant shark/whale feature. 

IMG_5869.jpeg

BUT- we spent two and half hours there and our kids loved it. It was simple fun. They rode a little Venetian-themed boat carousel of gondolas. They tinkered inside the music garden on little coloured pipes. They coloured hats in the craft shed with a kind worker who assembled and decorated little accessories to complete their efforts. Edie, meanwhile, happily got filthy playing the dirt during their fun.

IMG_5873.jpeg
IMG_5867.jpeg
IMG_5866.jpeg
IMG_5586.jpeg
IMG_5868.jpeg

It wasn’t what we had expected, and I wouldn’t recommend this stop for anyone who is crunched for time in Tuscany. However, if you’re in the area for a while, I would say- go for it. Make a day in a tiny town that has lived beyond its prime- but you’ll love the sweet reminder of your own childhood as you watch your kids play there. (I mean, I didn’t have a childhood in Italy, but Tyler & I both commented on how much the experience felt like our own memories.) It’s not fancy, but it’s a sweet way to let them explore and have fun- and when they’re little, that’s kind of the goal, right?

If you’re need help finding Collodi by public transport, you can either take a train to nearby Pescia and bus in, or train to Lucca and take a bus directly from there to Collodi.


 

Find more of my Tuscany Day Trips here or check out my Travel Guide to Italy.
 



*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on September 4, 2018 and filed under italy, traveling with kids.

Tuscany Day Trip | The Leaning Tower of Pisa

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is something that we both saw years ago and- while we liked it- had removed from our list of “must see’s” upon returning to Tuscany in the summers.

However, with kids, it’s an easy and fun option to do out for Florence. Plus, it was just under an hour door-to-Tower for us, so it makes for a great option for spending half the day out and half the day being lazy/doing something else.

You can take a train from Florence to Pisa really easily- they run often from Florence’s main station, Santa Maria Novella and are cheap. (Maybe €6 the last time I took it?) Once you arrive to the station, you can either trek across town following the signs or hop in a local bus or taxi. But we had a car, so we opted for driving right on up, parking in a paid lot about 300 yards from the tower and cruising in.

IMG_4326.JPG

What’s great about the tower is that you can visit it for free! Take all the classic “holding it up with one finger” pics that your heart desires for not a single penny. However, to climb the famous tower- you’ll need to reserve a time slot and pay €18. I’ve been there probably 8 times and never climbed up... and to be honest, I don’t feel like I’m missing out at all. (Do chime in below if you have climbed up and think I’m wrong!)

IMG_4321.JPG
IMG_4324.JPG

We took loads of pictures- most mainly bad and hilarious. Then wandered down a side street stuffed with tourist shops and cafes in search of something along the frozen-dairy category for a great. We got popsicles at a little cafe and scooted back to the tower to enjoy them on the curb. (Fine dining with a view, of course.)

IMG_4318.JPG

After about an hour all in- we decided we had enough of the Pisa experience and headed out to the car park. A million men selling random trinkets will, of course, try to intercept you. We ended up with a hot pink fan for €1 for a certain 5 year old, and hit the road.

This is a really fun, cheap and easy day trip when you’re staying in Florence. With a gaggle of little kids, having a car made it really easy on us- but if you had a small baby or older kids, a train would be a fabulously simple route to the iconic tower, too!

IMG_4328.JPG

Find more of my favorite day trips in Tuscany here.



*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on August 22, 2018 and filed under italy, travel.

My Barcelona | El Nacionel

IMG_2265.JPG

Before I dive in to this incredible spot in Barcelona, can I just say: I LOVE SPAIN. It’s got so much of what I love about France... just cheaper, it has incredible architecture, the food scene is top notch and *cough* it has friendlier natives. (Sorry, Paris, you’re beautiful but can kinda be aggressive and emotional.) It just feels like how I remember what Europe once felt like... a bit less run over, a bit less homogenised. The Spanish culture still feels so incredibly in tact. (Or should I say Catalonian, since we have been in Barcelona?)

But enough about how incredible Spain is... let’s talk about a good place for lunch or dinner when you find yourself in Barcelona.

IMG_2279.JPG

My parents actually lead us to this place- “a market to eat in.” I had something like La Boqueria in mind, but when we turned off the main thoroughfare of Passeig de Gràcia  towards the tiny passageway to El Nacionel, I realised we were in for a total treat.

IMG_2276.JPG

While this is a bit like a market, it’s not the standard hodge podge of farmers and artisans selling food. It’s more like a posh food court with various places to eat in it.

IMG_2260.JPG
IMG_2261.JPG
IMG_2262.JPG

Get some delicious Italian, fresh seafood, French brasserie food or grab some Spanish tapas at their various little restaurants. Whatever you’re up for, there seems to be a pretty option for you there.

IMG_2267.JPG
IMG_2263.JPG

The interior are perfect and the whole atmosphere is just airy and relaxed. The clientele is a nice mix of locals and tourists who look like they know what they are doing. Overall, I’d say that El Nacionel is a great spot for lunch in Barcelona after you’ve been wandering along and shopping along Las Ramblas. 

IMG_2269.JPG
IMG_2268.JPG

When you’re done, don’t forget to grab an ice cone before you hit the road. The coconut is pretty delicious, if I do say so myself.

IMG_2280.JPG

Find all of my favourite places in Spain here in my travel guide.



*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on August 17, 2018 and filed under spain, travel.

My Barcelona | Hole

While we were in Barcelona, Tyler & I passed a cute little breakfast spot with people spilling out the front door and chatting over tiny tables sitting on cushions along the windowsill and wooden crates. Sunlight was pouring inside the cafe and the sound of espresso being made wafted out the open door. The scene seemed so pleasant and happy... and we wished we had time to stop and be a part of what was going on.

IMG_2397.JPG
IMG_2396.JPG
IMG_2405.JPG

But we had our kids with us and were marching along with our family to La Sagrada Familia, so on we went.

The next day, we waited (and waited) for our driver to arrive to take us to the port for our cruise. The driver called and was not going to be there for another forty minutes, so Tyler grabbed me and asked me on a lightening speed coffee date/run back to the place from yesterday.

My mom kept Harrison, we put the two girls in a stroller each. (Viola loves not having to walk when she has the luxury of a stroller at her disposal- ha!) And off we popped! As it always is the case, it ended up being about twice as far away as we remembered but we got there, ordered, got to hang out for a bit- enjoying the fact that we had actually pulled off making it back and trying the place that had looked so good to us both when we had past. I love that Tyler and I still have those moments after all the years and places we have been together. 

IMG_2398.JPG
IMG_2402.JPG

And I think, maybe all those places and moments have fine tuned us a bit because Hole (the name of the cafe, as it turned out) was one of those really good spots that you’re glad to discover. The owner was nice, the coffee was good, they made incredible fresh squeezed juices that glowed bright happy colours, pancakes sat fluffily on top of each other with Nutella plopped on top and people chatted happily amongst themselves- just as we had thought the day before. 

IMG_2400.JPG
IMG_2399.JPG
IMG_2403.JPG
IMG_2404.JPG
IMG_2401.JPG

And then hoofed it back to the hotel in time to load up our bags.

IMG_2395.JPG

It was a nice little spot to discover and next time, I’m hoping to stay for a bit longer!

HOLE | Carrer de València, 352, 08009 Barcelona


Find more of my favourite places in Barcelona in my Spain guide.



*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on August 15, 2018 and filed under eat, spain, travel.

Country BBQ (English Style)

IMG_1571.JPG

School is out! At last, Viola is finished with her school year. I can’t believe she is through Reception. (Our version of “kindergarten” that they start at 4.)

She finished school last Friday and then Saturday we got to celebrate the summer kick-off with a day at a barbecue at our friend’s lovely house in Oxfordshire.

Now first things first: a “BBQ” can be confusing. When we first moved to England, we got invited to a barbecue and I was like like: “OH BABY! YES! Finally!” I showed up to the barbecue salivating over the idea of brisket, spicy polish sausages, ribs, and was completely shocked to find burgers. I soon realised that when someone barbecues here, it simply means “grill out.” So if you’re a new expat, you’ve been warned and you can adjust your expectations accordingly. 

IMG_3088.JPG

But luckily, my expectations were in line for this party... and I knew that a day our in Oxfordshire at our friends house would be nothing short of lovely.

IMG_3087.JPG

And it was! Especially with seven black lab puppies to cuddle. My kids were smitten, and so was I as I watched them lug the sleepy little puppies around. It was so cute!

IMG_3082.JPG
IMG_3083.JPG
IMG_3084.JPG

Also, Edie decided it was her day to start really walking- so she got her first real steps in that day and it was hilariously cute watching her big thighs waddle around and plop in the grass. 

IMG_3086.JPG

The day was so fun. We left around 5:30, stopped at McDonalds on the highway and let the kids get Happy Meals... which, to our dismay and relief, they really only wanted for the toy.  

I’m not really sure what my kids will remember of days like this, but I’m hopeful they stack up as a hazy collection of imperfect days made up of lots of happy memories. Because as crazy as they may feel at times in the moment, I know that’s what they actually are!

IMG_3085.JPG


*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

My Paris | A Private Tour of Versailles

 

You know that feeling you have when you're traveling and you stumble across some place new... there's a sense of excitement that pulses through you and, if you're like me, you feel like you need to start running, or finding the best restaurant or peeking into real estate offices to begin your new life here.

I love that feeling, and it wasn't until I found myself wandering through the city of Versailles last week that I felt it again for the first time in a long time. To my surprise, the feeling came back and I realised how long it had been since I felt this incredible feeling of the unknown. Most of the places we go to are familiar... like the feeling of seeing an old friend. It's a happy feeling, but a very comfortable feeling.

Anyway, I was in Versailles and we ended up walking 10 minutes past the Chateau and into the heart of town. There was a huge daily market and gorgeous cafes and streets. I couldn't believe I had been to this town so many times and, yet, actually had never seen the cute town here.

But I didn't realise the new view of Versailles had only just begun...

IMG_9472.JPG

VISITE PRESTIGE | VERSAILLE'S PRIVATE TOUR OF THE KING & QUEENS APARTMENTS

Okay, so there's a visit to Versailles and then there is THIS VISIT. I was traveling with a private group of clients and they jumped at the opportunity to splurge when I suggested this private tour of the king and queen's private apartments inside Versailles. I had never been on it before, but knew that a guided tour was a must- as the standard lines are just horrific; however, I had my socks officially knocked off by this incredible experience.

IMG_9468.JPG

The tour consisted of a private tour through the closed doors of Versailles. We had a docent walk through with us and a second person who carried the ancient keys to unlock the doors and open the shutters inside these dark, closed-off rooms.

You're walked into Marie Antoinette's bedroom where she would hang out with her friends during the day getting dressed and relaxing in between court appearances, you see the bathroom of Louis XIV and the spot where he took his baths and had his face shaved every morning. You see the fluffy bed inside Madame du Barry's apartments... whee the king would come down to visit his beloved mistress. 

You sit in the private opera house to discuss details with the guide, you wander around hidden stair cases and dawdle through empty corridors. 

You are lead and given access to places that you can only imagine. Away from the hustle and formality of the state rooms where events were held, you get to wander through the quiet spaces where they actually lived the meaningful moments of their lives.

IMG_9471.JPG
IMG_9467.JPG

Meanwhile, we never saw another human during the entire two hour tour. We almost began to see the palace as our own... until it ended and found ourselves in the middle of the hoards of tourists. We quickly felt ruined by our incredibly posh beginning so rushed through to the gardens.

Oh man, what an experience. Definitely not the cheapest way to visit Versailles (the tour is €1000 and can include up to 20 guests); however, for a special occasion or a larger group it is an incredible opportunity to see Versailles in such a special way.

IMG_9469.JPG

And if you don't get that butterfly-travel-excitment from this day out in Versailles, well, I don't know what to tell you. 

 


Looking for help on a day-trip to Versailles from Paris? I've made it easy in my Daytrip to Versailles post here. Find more of my Paris favourites in my travel guide to Paris.

 



 

*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

 

My Notting Hill | Chucs Westbourne Grove

If you're looking for a great lunch spot in London, I have a little secret spot that is too good to miss tucked away in plain site in Notting Hill's Westbourne Grove.

I met my friend Amber at Chucs in the tiny pristine garden one day for lunch, and it was the perfect little spot to spend a couple of hours catching up over yummy food with zero pressure to move fast. (To be honest, the same can be said for the wait staff at times. We'll just chalk it up to Italian charm.)

IMG_6820.JPG
IMG_6826.JPG

The restaurant inside is sweet, but for a pretty day- it's hard to beat cacio e pepe, paper-thin chicken paillard and fried zucchini with a pal.

I think this spot could be a total winner for a brunch to celebrate a soon-to-arrive baby, sneak away to on a weeknight date, or just do what we did... meet up with an old friend and enjoy the day/food/pretty setting.

IMG_6825.JPG
IMG_6828.JPG

 

CHUCS  |   226 WESTBOURNE GROVE  +44 020 7243 9136

 

IMG_6827.JPG

FIND MORE OF THE BEST PLACES TO EAT IN NOTTING HILL                                                         IN MY TRAVEL GUIDE TO NOTTING HILL.



 

*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Little London | 5 Places to Splash & Cool Off Around London

I grew up in Texas with a pool. I could swim from one end to the other by the time I was three. 

However, my children live in London. The closest thing they have to a pool is a bathtub, and they still love their floaties very, very much. (And so do I.)

Another thing that is different than my Texas upbringing is the lack of air conditioning. When it gets hot, it gets HOT like its so gloriously been the last stretch of weeks here in Britain. While we don't have access to a pool, there are some great spots around London... most come with a view and even better- most don't cost a dime.

IMG_6836.JPG

And if you're going to get familiar with this scene, you'll need to adopt the term "lido" into your vocabulary. Swap out "swimmin' hole" or whatever you called it back home and opt for this posh and very English term ("LIE-DOH"). It means an open-air swimming pool or bathing beach.

(Go on and drop that term to a local and feel very cool.)


DIANA MEMORIAL FOUNTAIN | This fabulous memorial is a giant water feature near the Serpentine. Kids can wander the circular water feature and play in the rapids. It can be a bit treacherous for tiny ones in spots, so plan to wear shots to escort them through those spots. 

*I just checked the website and it says that it asks people not to walk on the memorial... but I assure you that hundreds do this daily anyway and they have staff to supervise?

IMG_6834.JPG

 

THE V&A MUSEUM | In between the museum and the cafe of the V&A, there's a little pond/pool area. It's a bit deeper than your ankles and has a few fountains dotted around the side. In the hot days, you'll find kids splashing and playing in their diapers and underwear here. It's a great spot, as the cafe is just to your side to make it an easy spot to spend a few hours in... and with water so shallow you don't have to continuously fret about drowning. I would say that, as this is primarily a museum, make sure your children are changed and dry before re-entering the museum to avoid making a mess! It would be very uncool of you. 

 

RAVENSCOURT PARK LIDO | This is a neighbourhood gem in Shepherds Bush. Set in the back of a grand Victorian park, this lido is perfect for little kids (not too deep!) and is sandwiched between a playground and a sand pit. Just outside the lido gates, you'll find the massive park to enjoy and explore. 

 

KENSINGTON MEMORIAL | If you're looking for a splash pad, this is a great place to go. It's tucked back in Notting Hill in the neighbourhood that was devastated by the Grenfell Tower tragedy. It's very local and feels like a little trip back through time when you enter by it's tiny snack shack. When the kids are tired, they can play on the playgrounds just outside the gate with areas perfecter big kids (zipline and giant climbing frame) and a for littles  (smaller climbing frame and sand).

IMG_6835.JPG

 

DESIGN MUSEUM | Just off Kensington High Street, the new Design Museum is a very cool (free!) museum. Just outside that very cool museum, there are some fun fountains that they allow kids to play in. It's not very crowded and makes for an easy stopping point near Holland Park or running errands on Kensington High Street.

 


 

Though I've never tried them myself,

my very normal & cool friends like these places, too:

SERPENTINE LIDO (HYDE PARK )

LONDON FIELDS LIDO (EAST LONDON)

 PARLIAMENT HILL LIDO (HAMPSTEAD HEATH)

 


 

FIND MORE FUN THINGS TO DO WITH KIDS IN LONDON HERE.

 



 

*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

 

Little London | Thames Path in Richmond

 

I often get parents of small kids over for a visit, and they gush about how they wish they could have their kids grow up here. YES. It has some amazing advantages: culture, history, cool accents. I love the childhood my children have most every day of the week, but I also feel like I always need to be honest. (Because trust me, I glazed over city living with kids for a long time... before I actually lived with kids in a city.) The fact of the matter is that living in a major city with a young family comes with some huge downfalls: no space (seriously, like ever), long journeys of schlepping in bad weather or on crowded transport, somewhat difficult social boundaries to break through. 

We have been really lucky and are so grateful for our little life here. We have all our needs met... and beyond! 

But last summer, we were feeling a bit claustrophobic. Tyler finally broke down, jumped through the hoops to get his UK license and we added a (very used! very cheap!) car to our family after 7 years of living without it. We hardly use it still walk and scoot most places during the week. But on the weekend, we get a little crazy and get the itch to get out of town with the kids and give them room to explore.


THAMES PATH RICHMOND

For Edie's birthday, we wanted to do something simple. Since those first few birthdays are really for the parents, these parents decided that the best thing for us was to go easy on ourselves. So, when an extravagant party isn't an option, hanging out in a pretty place is the next best thing because it still feel really special.

We headed to Richmond, parked the car, unloaded the kids and went down towards the river. Along the Thames there is the cutest little river walk- which is just a small part of the the Thames Path National trail that stretches 180 miles from Greenwich to north of Oxford.

09E77EC3-5828-4060-9AC1-06789292701D.jpeg
ACE431E4-04A5-40B7-930C-12BFBD95A209.jpeg

The place we went to stretches between Richmond and Hampton Court and comes complete with boat & bike rentals, cafes with people dotted around the tables, grassy areas with people napping or lounging together, and cute little bunting to guide you along the way. We LOVED it!

1CED4285-E5F9-4E53-A66B-C8FD664D99D8.jpeg
29618775-6321-457E-B764-D690C89107FE.jpeg

 

We found a little spot, tossed down our picnic blanket, lit a candle on a cupcake and sang happy birthday to sweet Edie.

After they gobbled down the icing and abandoned the cake part of the cupcakes, we watched Harrison scoot up and down a long ramp until we could no longer stand the heat.

 

347C1795-7938-45F5-8083-2E408EB6E88B.jpeg
990D0C27-0050-44D5-B039-D924406DE474.jpeg
F87E2811-6E58-480F-9172-BB385752937C.jpeg

 

It was a perfect little escape from the crammed city routine we often do, and I can't wait to go back and do more picnics... and, when Tyler's feeling up for some arm work, going in one of the row boats. 

 

AB919FFD-D71C-47D7-B0FA-1F4B2D15749C.jpeg
320E1C10-E8DD-40FC-8F6E-EFC52218D89D.jpeg
5E4CCFE8-6DA3-4C5A-B073-A077A594EEE0.jpeg

 

You can easily reach Richmond by car or public transport (trains from Waterloo into Richmond or the district line to Richmond). There was some nice detailed instructions on this site. But basically, just get to the High Street in Richmond, and you're just a street or two away.

 

B214ABA3-4CBF-4B74-8BE3-FA4C31AB91F9.jpeg
C0D88937-5140-4564-A356-B5E0B7339EEB.jpeg

 

This is a great day out and makes those tough stretches of being in London with kids feel less stressful and so, so lovely!

 

LOOKING FOR MORE ABOUT LONDON WITH LITTLE KIDS? CHECK HERE.

 



 

*images original to aspiring kennedy