I never considered myself a country girl, but rather always thought of myself as a city dweller. My style and interests are mostly suited to urban living and growing up in a small seaside town I liked the idea of living in a place that was happening! I guess I always wanted to be somewhere rich in opportunity, culture and things to see and do day and night. I love to explore museums, shop, see cool architecture and eat out, and I couldn’t wait to break out into life and live in the big city.

I think Nathan found that all attractive too, and it was great that years down the line, what started as housemates and friends between 2 small town people, turned into dating, marriage and us creating a lovely life together in Leeds.

For possibly about 9 mostly great years (more for him), I lived in Leeds and found it to be a brilliant life in a fab Yorkshire city that I love. But then our kids started to grow up, and a fog of grief and tear stained memories hung over our home and the city we once loved and thrived in, held to much pain and bad memories. We felt trapped in someways and we both realized that the dream shifted. We fell out of love with city living and I suddenly found myself craving a slower pace of life surrounded by nature. We discussed at length where we might like to live next, and some days we felt drawn to the coast, on others it was smaller towns around Leeds… but in the end, and after several months of viewing houses all over Yorkshire, we both decided (and felt right about) a village location in East Yorkshire. The wolds are beautiful, the little market towns charming, and the coast and family are close by – it seemed the most appealing choice for what we wanted in this stage of life and so we headed home.

Last Summer we packed up and headed over here to start our new “Village Life” Chapter!

I of course then feared I might not like it. It was such a vast change, and whilst the idea sounded fabulous, I couldn’t help but wonder what life might be like going from such a bustling town on the edge of a City, into living in a small village surrounded by fields! Would we feel cut off? Would it be cliquey? Would we fit in and would it fit us? How would we get to the shops? What about emergency’s? Would a new school be good for the kids? Would we be bored?!

But now I see that all of that was minor because our neighbours are great and the village has a train line which means I can get to local towns in anything from 5 to 10 mins. I can get to the coast in about 25 minutes, and the City of Hull in about 40 minutes. I am surrounded by lovely people, there are local toddler groups, a farm shop and SPAR, and I do not feel cut off at all. Surprisingly I have actually found that since being here I enjoy not having shops nearby me or busy things. I like to be able to just wander – be that wandering home… wandering around the village green… wandering up to the farm shop or wandering over fields. I like that I have the option to stay in our village bubble enjoying the beauty and chilled pace, or venture out and be busy. I love the freedom to step out into fields within a couple of minutes and see little old churches, tractors and farm animals. I love to see the kids en mass riding their bikes to school and horses passing by our window on occasion. I love how everyone smiles and greets you, and how many birds we can hear 24 hours!

Yes it is lovely, and nothing to fear! In fact when we first drove into this village and onto this street I simply felt at peace – I knew this was where I wanted to live and that we could be happy here. Now after a whole year since leaving Leeds to start this new life in the country, I have to say it has been such a great and wonderful adventure, and we are happy here!

We have seen the village in all seasons now, and each one has brought with it excitement, beauty and joy. I love the traditions the village have and I love that because we are out in nature more we really get a feel for the season and can embrace it in its fullness! I have loved this huge change to our lives, and how we appreciate and find beauty in the smallest things around us now.

With 3 young nutty children and grief in our hearts, we desperately wanted somewhere that felt healing and peaceful to us. We wanted a place we could explore and enjoy in all seasons, and we wanted an adventure. We imagined a slower pace, less traffic and stress, and whilst some of that is still present (stress and busy lives), and we have a few things still to sort to fully live our dream here, overall life is just what we wanted and needed – slower, more peaceful and that wonderful feeling of being free in the outdoors!

Here’s what we love most about Village life in the 12 months we’ve being here

Peace – Despite the normal stress and craziness of being parents and having a busy family life, the first and biggest thing we noticed from living here was peace and quiet! We love the peace of village life – the sounds of nature and children playing, and we love the peace in our hearts that we have found somewhere to raise our family that feels so right!

Community – The community spirit and incredible friendliness of the people here caught me off guard initially – people in cities just aren’t so chatty and I found it odd that so many people wanted to know about us! Immediately we had lots of smiles, chats, welcome cards and invites to local events and it was lovely. People would talk to us at the park, in the street and at school and still even now this is the norm. It was so weird and a huge change to let our guard down, but now I love taking interest in others too and we love belonging to a community and living in a place where people genuinely care for one another and look out for each other and their kids. All the kids play out all together like we did when we were kids, and the village has so many lovely traditions each season and holiday to bring everyone together.

Our favourite has been seeing the little lit up nativity scene on the island of the village pond at Christmas, the daffodils that fill the green in Springtime, and the village show and music festivals that all sound great too.

I love how everyone smiles and greets you each day – I love how trusting and kind everyone is, and that we have discovered that village life means living in a place with great community spirit. It restores faith in the goodness of people and makes life very joyful indeed!

Wide open spaces – I think this was the most obvious change and thing that we wanted from village life and it hasn’t disappointed. Whatever the weather we love the wide open spaces all around us – it is so pretty and we thoroughly enjoy our wanderings, hikes, adventures, and the opportunity to rejuvenate and heal via all that await us in nature!

A Little school – Thankfully when we lived in Leeds we were able to have our kids in a little faith school, but I would say this one is definitely a little smaller.  I love that too about living here – and we have found the school and parents are lovely, and they run some fantastic free clubs too (gardening being a fave). The kids have settled well, and especially love ice cream fridays, parents being able to go for school lunch, and stepping out of school on to the green and playing with friends.

I never considered myself country girl, and elements of my style and interests still aren’t particularly country girl, but I do love an adventure and being outdoors and this move has helped me discover new things I love to do. I now own a pair of joules wellies and am mostly rocking life in the country!!!

Overall I would say that village life is wonderful though and is far less about style and more a new lifestyle with a young family. Life generally could do with a couple of improvements here and there, but that is life isn’t it?! And I often say to Nath that I would prefer to deal with life’s challenges here in such a beautiful chilled place, than in a busy city with some bad memories, because when it comes to where we live, I couldn’t have imagined how blessed we would feel to live here!

I didn’t realise how much my soul needed to live in such close proximity to nature and the coast and how it would help me discover more about myself. We each love the peace, the sound of the birds, the people we live around and are getting to know, and we love how right it feels to live here. The kids often say we live in the best place (they love it), and I suppose for us right now it is.

I feel so grateful everytime I take a stroll around the fields, up to the farm shop, or across to the neighbouring village that this is our new home. I love to see the joy of the kids playing out with friends and having independence, and having a childhood chasing nature. Even the school run is pretty, and I am thankful in all of these little moments that this is our life now. I love how close we are to the beach…the ocean, seaside and family – it really is so fulfilling and I love that we all feel settled and happy with this move. We have slotted in seamlessly, and are enjoying our new village life in the country – it is pretty, and just what we needed!

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We only planned one day in Vegas, partly because people said it wasn’t that great to take kids to, but mainly because we saw it as a good stop over on our way home to LAX. We planned for half a day and one night and thought with that arrangement we could see enough to say we had been and get a feel for it, and if it wasn’t so great, we were only there for a few hours before heading out to Cali for our flight home!

It turns out however that Vegas is mint, and not did we love it but Ethan still says now that he wants to live there! We actually wish we had scheduled in a couple of days there, and had been able to do more because we all totally loved it. Yes it was rather sketchy in places, very busy, and smelt like weed in most places, but mainly it was absolutely fabulous. We were all amazed by the strip, and we really hope that we can return again in the not too distant future!

We stayed in the Hotel Rio which is located off the strip, but still in walking distance. This hotel is MASSIVE! And even had a zipwire you can pay to go on across the two buildings. The rooms were also massive (considered more as “suites”), and ours had twin queen beds, a corner sofa, dressing area, bathroom and lovely views! It was £76 for the night for all 5 of us, and we also had to pay a resort fee of £35 upon arrival which is normal to all Vegas hotels! It wasn’t the cheapest, but was value for money!

Vegas with kids 

I get that to some people seeing Vegas with kids is not doing it right! But we have always been of the opinion that our kids will not stop us from seeing the wonders of the world, and having kids along for the adventure just means you get to see it from a different angle! So here is what Vegas looked like for us with our 3 kids!

Pool – Most hotels have pools in Vegas, but for us this was a must to feel like “a proper holiday”! The pool at hotel Rio was great for all of the kids as it gradually got deeper, and the waterfall feature added a little extra fun! Once we had checked in, it was getting on to 5pm so I took the kids down to the pool whilst Nathan did online check in in preparation for the next day. It was cooler than we hoped, but warm enough for a good hour or so in the pool to play and chill after the long drive down from Utah.

Strip by night – after we had bought some budget pizzas from little caesars for dinner (we were skint by this point and this was where we saw the shady Vegas), we drove down the whole strip to show the kids what Vegas was all about! They were going nuts and absolutely loved it as we passed by each enchanting theme and part of the world!

Driving down the strip at night was busy, but nowhere near as busy as if we had walked it. It worked well driving because it meant we could cover it all in a shorter space of time, and also meant that all 3 kids were tucked safely in the car and we could see everything without worrying about where they were in the crowds. Vegas is so cool by night with all of its fancy lights and night life and even seeing by car is a fun experience!

Walking the strip in the morning – Before we set off to Los Angeles the next morning, we decided that we wanted to get closer to some of the famous spots on the Las Vegas Strip that we had seen the previous night. Nathan wasn’t as bothered as Ethan and I were (he was keen to get to LA), and so he waited in the car with Alice down near the Luxor and we (Ethan, Megan and I) hopped out at New York, New York and walked a little bit of it!

It was about 7.30am and whilst there were a few people around (some rather questionable), it was a really good time of day to explore with the kids, because it was so quiet and not too hot! We saw New York, New York, Hershey, Excalibur (apparently where we are staying next time?!) and Luxor (which I loved)!

It’s like a giant toy town, and was quite the little adventure and a great goodbye to our flying Vegas stay!

Shows – We planned on taking the kids to see the light show at The Mirage, but due to time restraints, tired kids, and us choosing to drive the strip instead of walking it, this didn’t pan out! This and others are on our bucket list for next time!

M&M’s – We love M&Ms and hoped we would have time to see the huge shop too, but as we were late getting into Vegas with the traffic (there was an accident), we were sad to not do this either, but from what we heard before we went, and saw from a distance, I think it would be great for kids!

On to LA…

From Vegas to L.A we had just a 4 hour drive. Our flight wasn’t until 5pm, and so we had planned on an early start with hopes of getting there by lunch, and thus giving us enough time to see a few things before making our way to the airport home to London! It was the last leg of what had been an epic road trip, and so was quite easy going, and as we hadn’t had chance to see much on our very first day due to rain, we hoped to squeeze in a couple of famous sights when we made it to Los Angeles. It was this excitement that kept our feet heavy to the pedal and helped us make good time!

The journey was fine, and after we made it to L.A. we of course got stuck in so much traffic! Apparently traffic in Hollywood is bad at the best of times, but it was also Spring break and so we were going nowhere fast! In the end, we only managed a quick cruise through Hollywood, some snaps of the sign, and that was all!

It was Ethan that noticed the sign first and we are all super excited to see it in real life – such an iconic place and we were there! It was brilliant!

The flight home was fine (minus a meltdown on take off from Alice), and jet lag hit us hard, but Air New Zealand were fab and this holiday completely wonderful!

We hoped to see the Ocean and famous beaches of LA, the Hollywood Boulevard and more friends in Utah. And whilst this was a little disappointing, we look back on all of the things we saw and experienced; all of the beauty of dessert, canyons and mountains, and all of the people we hugged and spent time with. We look back on all of the sunshine we had, the snow storms and the yummy treats we enjoyed, during our 2 weeks in the states and wonder how on earth we could ever be disappointed? It was an incredible adventure, filled with memories to last a lifetime.

From California to Arizona, through the Grand Canyon and on to Utah, and back Via Vegas, we drove over 2,000 miles, listened to “The Greatest Showman” Soundtrack 100’s of times and had an epic road trip together! Of course we want to return and do more of what we loved, and see all of the things we didn’t get a chance to see (and more), but for now we are still loving talking about our adventures in America, and are all so grateful to have enjoyed such a wonderful family holiday Stateside!

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Here we are at the end of April and what a month it has been – super busy and filled with adventures, a 10.5 hour flight, Jet lag, madness with 2 cousins sleepovers, and a week of glorious sunshine (remember that?!). We started this month off in the USA and our pictures this month are of us on the Vegas Strip – it was a brilliant day and feels like so long ago now!

When April began we were in Utah enjoying the Spring sunshine, and a lovely Easter Sunday with family. 2 days later we went on to Vegas, before heading to LA and home again to the UK! It was such an epic adventure to share together (that you can read more about in part 1 of our USA holiday ) and Vegas was such a fun place to visit, that we wish we had scheduled in more time to be there and see more things! It was a great place for kids and an excellent way to end our 2 weeks in the USA. We all miss the root beer, hanging with friends and family, the heat and just our general adventures. I love these pictures though because they reflect how much fun we were having, and how relaxed we all were chilling in the states together.

Once we had returned and taken a good week to recover from jetlag, life resumed as normal and we welcomed some routine and less fast food in our diet. Id say that the kids struggled that first week back after Easter with a lot of tiredness but it didn’t do them any harm in the long run as Megan had star pupil 2 weeks ago, and Ethan has gone up another reading level. He is doing really well with school his work, and after a now resolved incident with another kid last week, he is a lot happier too which is great.

We loved that heatwave week we had – the sunshine just puts everyone in a good mood and I always feel so much more motivated. Alice and I especially had some wonderful adventures to the seaside to make the most of the sun and had plenty of ice cream and walks with friends! She is doing great at the moment and is so much more interactive with us all. Instead of pointing and grunting to get her own way, she is talking more and loves being in the midst of mayhem with Ethan and megan. They seem to find her more and more entertaining as her speech and character develop’s and it’s lovely as parents to see her fun and loving side coming out (as well as their growing love and fondness for her).

Megan is doing really good at the moment with her gymnastics, and wowed everyone with her awesome moves on Friday night at the churches talent show…she makes us laugh so much and she loves to perform for us and make up crazy dances. Both her and Ethan were keen to perform in the Church talent show, and with Megan’s (improv) dance, and Ethan’s singing, it was both hilarious and a very proud moment!

Both Ethan and Megan very much into the “Match attax” trend, and doing odd jobs for cash so as to build up their collection’s. It’s funny how things do full circle as I remember the same from our childhood and it’s funny how into them they are! Once home from school I rarely see either of them as the lighter nights have meant they have enjoyed a lot of playing out with their pals (one of the things I really love about living here). Myself and the other mum’s have a “what’s app group” so as to keep tabs on them all, and I always think what a vast difference it is to their Spring/Summer evenings when we lived in Leeds!

A couple of weeks ago we cleared out our garden and garage, decluttered a few other things and had a massive tip run in hopeful preparation to start putting our stamp on this house (it’s only taken a year), but the less cluttered garden has meant a lot of friends end up playing here too, and that’s also lovely!

This month has also been good for Mr Smith and I, as we managed to squeeze in a date out as oppose to a take out and Netflix… and I have been doing a lot more in raising awareness for Stillbirth and baby loss with Channel 5, as well as getting on with my course in preparation to finish in June!

It’s been such a random and extraordinary month, and in addition to our holiday over Easter we have also managed to squeeze in a trip to the circus, explore historic houses and churches in this area, and then just this weekend…have a rather eventful Saturday in Hull city centre visiting a couple of cool museums with our 3 nephews in tow!

Next month will be a whole year since we moved, then its into June with Megan turning 6 and lots of family birthdays. We are excited for May… with a couple of bank holidays in there, half term, and hopefully lots more adventures and joyful times!

This Month we are grateful for

Our Epic America trip
Returning home safely and drama free
A tip run and tidier garage/garden
Enthusiastic kids
An opportunity to share Poppy and our story
Family (for helping us out with childcare)
A week of glorious sunshine
MInt chocolate Ben & Jerry’s
A trip to the circus
Living close to the seaside
A village in full bloom for Spring!
The Me + Mine Project - Dear Beautiful
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The second leg of our road trip took us from Arizona to Utah. The last time I wrote of our holiday in the USA I was up to the part where we had had an epic day at the Grand Canyon prior to setting off up to St George for the night – you can read about that all here.

So yes – We left The Grand Canyon and made our way to St George, where we had a hotel booked for a nights stay, before driving up to the Salt Lake area to spend a week with Family and Friends. This particular night of driving, which took us through the Canyon, was long and felt the hardest part of our Journey. We were pretty tired, there were not a lot of places to stop and get food, and the Reservation/Dessert at night-time is more than a little scary.

We finally made it to our Hotel around midnight and flopped into bed. I was pretty sick that night with something I had eaten for lunch (Wendy’s Chilli) and it was all a bit of a rough/long night! Thankfully by early afternoon the next day, and lots of water, I felt mostly myself again!

The hotel was a bargain at £60 for the night (inc a buffet breakfast) and was such a lovely room we had. We all rested well after the adventures of the previous day, and after said yummy breakfast, we had a lovely little wander around the LDS Temple and Visitors centre in St George.

After our brief visit, we hit the road again and made the almost 5 hour journey from St George to Provo (pit stop) and then onto Herriman where we had our base for the week with Nathan’s cousin. We saw a friend on the way, loved the snow capped mountains and bough a huge pizza for lunch from a tiny place owned by an Amish family!

Once in Utah it felt like home from home. It was so lovely to see everyone, catch up and chat, and whilst we were obviously on holiday, staying with family and seeing friends at parks and out for dinner, all just felt so very natural and normal. Both Nathan and I have been to Utah before, and so we were both comfortable in our surroundings and knew of all of the places we wanted to take the kids to. Looking back, our week in Utah was a good balance of days out/Touristy things, and chilling and reunions with our lovely family and friends!

Temple Square

Our first day there we felt pretty well rested and were very keen to take the kids up to Temple Square in Salt Lake City (and they were pretty keen to go). It is a special place in our religion, and an impressive place generally for people to walk around and see. We knew that there would be plenty to see and do to fill the day! We met some cousins/2nd cousins, and whilst it was a little nuts navigating the kids in a busy place, it turned out to be such a lovely time together.

We took them first to The Lion House – an historic house where one of our early Prophets lived, and then onto the Churches office building where you can take a tour to the top and look over the city from the roof! Both were super exciting and interesting places, and the views from the Church Administration building were stunning!

From here we walked around the outside of the Salt Lake temple, and then across the road to the conference centre (and then back again to the Visitors centre). It obviously took way longer than we anticipated with all of kids in tow, but they loved it and we had a really lovely and memorable family day out!

If you are ever in Salt Lake it’s a good tour to take and place to visit – you don’t have to be Mormon to look around it, and all of it is super interesting about our Church History and beliefs.

Wheeler Historic Farm

Wheeler Historic Farm was such a lovely day out that we did, again with cousins and extended family. It was a hot day, and started off with a big family picnic at the park next to it – It ended with us getting shakes and root beer floats!

Wheeler farm is a FREE farm, which was such a novelty, and it felt very much like an American TV set for an old farm movie! I loved it all, and as we wandered around looking at old machinery and the few animals that they have there, it was so pretty and fun for all. I was excited to see you could have a milking cows experience for just a few dollars, but unfortunately for me and my bucket list, it was later than we planned on staying until! The kids however enjoyed a wagon ride behind the tractor for just $2 each… another great day out filled with fun, adventures, family and fresh air.

Conference and Easter Weekend

After a few days out and gallivanting around places of interest (half of which we never actually went to) it was Easter weekend, and for us as members of the LDS church – our semi annual conference weekend too. This felt such a novelty to be in Utah for this, as we were able to get tickets to go to a live session of it, as opposed to our usual watching of it at home online!

We did watch most of it with his Cousin on their TV, but then on the Sunday morning Nathan and I had the opportunity to go back up to Salt Lake City and go to the morning session of conference. It was a beautiful sunny Easter Sunday, and we began by seeing “Music and The Spoken word” by the Mormon Tabernacle choir. This was breathtakingly beautiful and made me feel so happy to be there with my love!

The session itself was as inspiring and uplifting as we imagined it would be, and it was a real highlight for us both on this part of our holiday.

It felt a little strange to be away from home during Easter – mainly because I missed scoffing down a big chocolate egg whilst in my PJs! But Naths cousin did a lovely egg hunt in the garden for the kids, where they had little sweeties in plastic eggs. And then on Easter Sunday evening, when we got back from Conference, we gathered with his cousins for a lovely Easter dinner and plenty of laughs!

Reunions

I have a lot of friends in Utah that I lived with when I was over there and who mean a lot to me. We keep in touch on social media, and now other apps too, and it is such a blessing to remain a part of each others lives even though we live so many miles apart.

I was so excited to see them all (and relieved that it felt “just like yesterday”) when we met up on various occasions. We had so much to talk about, so many laughs to have, and we shared many delicious meals from “Chick-Fil-A” (which we got “on the house” because we were British!!) to fake cafe rio at a gathering in our honour. We had park days with the kids, chilling at houses and I felt so happy being with such treasured friends, individuals and family.

Reunions both with my friends, and with Nath’s family are what made our visit to Utah so wonderful and special. We wish we could see those faces and hang out with them far more than we are able, but we love living in England and their homes and hearts are in the states. But we will always treasure the time we get to hang out when they visit us or we can visit them – We hope that this is more frequent than it has been, as we treasure these experiences and memories!

Thanks Utah – for cheapo Root beers, More Costco Pizza, Chick-fil-a, Thai food, Five Guys, fake Cafe Rio, delish home cooked meals, and lots of love and laughs! It was a fabulous week and Easter Weekend, and we loved seeing everyone!

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