Since the moment we decided to move overseas, I’ve read a lot about the subject. I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting people who are far more experienced in expat-life than we are – families who have moved to different countries every 2-3 years for 10 years or more. (Yes, people do that.) All expats will tell you, just because you move abroad does not mean you are on a constant vacation. Life is still very real. You still have a house to clean, bills to pay, dinner to cook, children to discipline…you get the picture. But… I do believe that life abroad can have plenty of moments, snuck in between the mundane ones, that can easily feel like mini vacations. I suppose we can all find ways to create mini vacations in our life, but undeniably, there is something about living in a new country that adds a bit of extra enthusiasm and adrenaline. It all begins by pulling out a map and seeing never-ending options of unexplored (by us) terrain. After a long week of work, school and other obligations, it isn’t always easy to get out the door on a Saturday morning, but we’ve started making it a priority. We’ve realized that our weekends go much smoother when we do. For the most part, we all reconnect better when we are outdoors, exploring a new place together. However, we aren’t very good at planning ahead, so early on Saturday morning we have been scouring crinkled maps over cups of coffee as we plan a route. On a recent day-out, we visited the Claremont Landscape Gardens. Almost immediately upon arrival to the UK, we became members of the National Trust – a UK conservation charity that protects historical places, gardens, coastline, forest, farmland, islands, castles, villages…the list goes on. In other words, they do wonderful work to look after the many places that make this country so special. Once a Duke’s retreat, these 18th century gardens are the ideal spot for a weekend wander…even in the middle of the winter. Free, open space for games of hide and seek, rolling hills of green grass to roll down, a thatched cottage full of dress up clothes and of course, a cafe for the perfect cup of tea and scones (pretty reliable at most National Trust locations). We’ve discovered that winter wooly hats work well to keep the tea pots warm! Play grounds are better when they are shaped as castles. My local friends tell me, that in the 8 months we’ve lived here, we’ve probably seen more of the surrounding area than they have. Funny how that works, isn’t it? When a place seems familiar, you tend to get in a routine, rarely venturing out to explore because you think you’ve seen it all. Yet, when I tell them about the places we go, 9/10 times they have never been there. There will always be the familiar favorites, but don’t forget to get out and explore somewhere NEW!