Wells and Cheddar Gorge (and Covid-19)

We decided to go on a wee adventure today; before we’re entirely stuck in the house for who-knows-how-long.

No doubt about it, Covid-19 is going to mess up our spring plans; just how much remains to be seen. We had a busy spring planned ahead of us — a weekend trip to London for the Harry Potter show, a trip to Canada for Easter, a weekend trip to Isle of Wight, grandparents visiting, diabetes camp, the Queen’s Garden Party, a trip to Ireland, and Sophie’s school residential trip the first week of June. We know some of these will be cancelled. Maybe even all of them, if the current predictions and timelines are right. That will suck, but what can you do. We are among billions of people being inconvenienced and it’s no one’s fault that this happened. All we can do is follow precautions, hope, and wait.

That being said, we’re currently in a country that has effectively kept business as usual… Just stay home if you’re sick. Kids are still in school and people still going to work. Yet the Canadian Forces has essentially been told to stand down, if you can. Go home, stay there, and stay healthy. So… There’s a lot of confusion still and a lot left to be seen. However we do know that we’re not allowed to travel/leave the country that we’re currently in (for now, for the next 3 weeks).

So with all the uncertainty and knowing there is a lot more coming (anticipating UK closures in the next few days or week) we decided to get out just one last time- choosing a place that is not crowded, open air, practice social distancing, lots of hand hygiene, and no restaurants (I personally believe restaurants to be one of the biggest vectors for airborne/droplet disease in this world and I won’t go near them right now).

So off to Wells we went. Wells is the smallest city in England.

That moniker comes about because any location with a cathedral is a city and Wells has a truly spectacular cathedral; however, the city is quite small. There are villages around that are larger than Wells, but they don’t have a cathedral so don’t get to call themselves a city. It’s all so specific!

The Wells Cathedral is a stunner. Dating back to the twelfth century, with a large choral wing, Bishop’s palace, and more.

You can see the scissor arch in the middle, that was added afterwards to help support the sinking spire.
The Wells Cathedral clock is an astronomical clock from about 1325.
Cathedral cat hanging out at the heaters. Clearly at home here.

After touring the cathedral, we took a walk around the small, historic city. There was a Saturday market going on, too.

At the Bishop’s palace
Vicar’s Close — claimed to be the oldest purely residential street with original buildings in Europe. Dating to the 14th century.
A sweet market in the Wells town square.

After a toodle around Wells, seeing the cathedral, Bishop’s palace, market, and all, we drove off again. Cheddar Gorge isn’t far so we went there next. We had packed a picnic lunch in order to not have to go to a restaurant and practice social distancing. This also turned out to be super helpful because Sophie started going very low on the drive to Cheddar. It was nice that we were able to eat right away vs. waiting in a restaurant while she is feeling miserable.

Cheddar Gorge is England’s largest gorge. It has caves deep within the rock that they’ve been making cheddar cheese and aging it in for centuries. You can buy tickets to do things like climb stairs up the edge of this gorge, absail down, or tour the caves, but we wanted to do none of those.

We walked the main street of the gorge, popped into a few stores, sampled and purchased some cheddar, and then left.

Cave-aged cheddar. Yum!

And that was our day – our morning, really. Just a little nip out to see some historic and beautiful sites and home by 2pm. No interacting with anybody in the public, kept to our personal bubbles, and hopefully didn’t inadvertently bring Covid-19 home. But if we did, we’re ready to quarantine.

I hope everyone is ready and prepared but more so I hope everyone stays healthy and safe. Please stop the thinking that ‘if you’re healthy and young, it will be okay’ because some of us aren’t healthy and might not be okay through this. Every time you say that, it feels like you invalidate the life of the sick and elderly who are most at risk.

Take care, all. Xx

Christmas Markets!

The Christmas market is an outdoor market of stalls selling goods and food, often at nighttime, during the weeks of Advent, and originating in Germany. Their popularity has spread all over Europe and even into North America in recent years (heck, even Ottawa started a wee one this year!)

While we certainly plan to make it to a German Christmas market at some point in our 3 years here, we knew it wouldn’t be this year. However, there are many Christmas markets happening not far from us that we thought we’d check out this season.

First off, we did a big one – Bath Christmas Market. The Bath Christmas Market is one of the biggest in the UK, and consistently awarded one of the best in the country (this year being no exception).



Bath is only about 15 miles from Bristol, but as things are in England, it’s a 45 minute car ride or a 45-60 minute train ride. We opted for the train because it’s cheap (£13 round trip for all 3 of us) and then we wouldn’t need to search for parking.

However, we were warned – – – being the most popular market in the country means it’s busy! We originally thought we’d go in the evening, but were told we’d hardly be able to move then, and there’s too many drunk people around. So we changed our plans and decided to go at opening. Good thing, too, because when we left 3 hours later at 1pm, we could hardly move!
(We heard that brawls broke out on later trains because they were so packed and busy… so we’ll stick with going early!)

Our favourite stall – we had to circle back around and return to.

So, we may have missed the ambience of the evening market and the lights, but as none of us like a crowd, we were very happy with our choice. We spent a whack-load of money at the stalls buying gifts and treats for others and ourselves. We enjoyed sampling cheeses, charcuteries, and spreads at many stalls, and drinking thick hot cocoa and mulled wine as we ambled around.

We got freshly made sugar doughnuts that will haunt my dreams until next year – they melted in your mouth…
Grabbed a pizza from a mobile pizza oven along with a cider for lunch. I love that the UK doesn’t limit you to staying in beergardens if you want to buy a drink.
Our pile of shopping on the train ride home.

Overall we just loved the Bath Market. It was easy to get to, a fun morning out shopping, and a feast for the senses.



The next market we went to was a few days later and a bit more local. Okay, a lot more local. The Henleaze Christmas Festival is a one-night affair a few blocks away from us. We live right on the edge of Henleaze neighbourhood in Bristol, and we really love the Henleaze high street to do our shopping and errands.

Nighttime, people moving, etc… and I think I had a sausage in my other hand. Sorry, this is the best photo I got.


Apparently this was the 12th year this festival has been running, and it’s a market of about 30 stalls and 3 blocks long. It was a Wednesday night, so we had to pick Sophie up from gymnastics class at school (2 blocks away) and scuttle over there where it was already fully underway.

Sophie said she saw every kid in her class except 2. We enjoyed the stalls and the music, there were school choirs and children’s entertainers. We didn’t buy much at all because we had just spent so much in Bath, and there really wasn’t anything new. I was a little disappointed, as I would have waited for this festival and bought more locally had I known. Well, next year.

But we enjoyed sampling the cheeses!

We were able to grab dinner at a BBQ stall, get give-aways at local traders (Sophie got a big box of 6 full-sized Cadbury bars at a law office!), and enjoy the whole festival with local cheer. Every time we move, we love being able to find these great things to be proud of in our new home town/ neighbourhood area.


The third market we went to wasn’t much- it was the smallest yet. We stopped in at the Christmas Festival at Sophie’s school on Saturday afternoon. I don’t have photos to show due to privacy for all the children present. But I was very impressed with the school’s ability to put on a festival with crafts, games, music, food, stalls, raffles, and prizes. Most importantly– and this is something so important I think we need to bring it to all Canadian school festivals and parties — there was mulled wine.
Yes… to get through a couple hours at a junior school function with children running amok everywhere, I was able to purchase a warm cuppa mulled wine.
This. Is. Just. Civilised.
Every school Christmas concert really needs to have a cash bar – they’d make a mint for the school!!!! And before you get your panties in a knot, NO, I’m not suggesting anyone get drunk around children. Hell, even put a one-glass maximum if you want. But that one glass really helps a parent get through the screaming children/the children singing off key/the waiting for the 400 children that aren’t yours to finish their part so you can watch your own kid for 2 minutes/the putting up with overzealous parents.
Sure, maybe I’m a curmudgeon, but I’m okay with that. School events need wine. This was the best school event I’ve ever been to.

I’m sorry, I wouldn’t have mentioned the last market, because I didn’t have photos, and it was so small, but it really needed a shout out, just for the wine.

Our tree this year in our new home. (With a few new ornaments this year from our travels and the Bath Christmas Market, too!) – I just wanted to share with you! xx



Well we can’t wait until next year or heck- maybe even the following year, when we can make it to Germany for a Christmas market. Now that we know how fun they are and have had a small taste, we will definitely be putting this on our short list and be aiming to get there!

We’re officially expats!

Well we’re here! We’ve made it! We got through immigration without an issue and now we’re officially expats- Canadians living in the UK for the next 3 years!

Our flights were pretty good, the only hiccup being delays in Victoria, about 2.5 hours. Luckily, we originally planned for a long layover in Vancouver so we had time to spare. Turns out we ended up with only an hour or so in Vancouver and because it’s such a large airport, by the time we got to our gate, they were just starting boarding. Perfect!

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Looking fresh at the beginning of our long flight!

The flight from Vancouver to London is about 9 hours and is an 8-hour time difference – so no matter what, it leaves you messed up. There’s not much you can do to prepare for that and it takes time to get over that.

Wine helps.

This was the longest flight Sophie has ever taken and the furthest she’s ever travelled to date in one-go, so she had endorphins and excitement to keep her going. She’s never been on an intercontinental flight, so she’s never got to experience a real airplane meal (not including the fairly nice ones you can buy on Air Canada domestic flights).

Air plane dinner

We knew that dinner would be served right before we needed to try and sleep, and the only sugar-free drink options for her would be water or caffeinated diet Coke, so we picked up a sugar-free drink in the airport before we boarded (she had the choice of iced tea or diet Sprite). Thinking ahead is usually how to I try to avoid diabetic upset!!
But then dinner came and how to guess how many carbs in this meal? Pasta, a bun, a brownie, and a corn and edamame salad? We just completely guessed. We didn’t guess enough, and had to do a correction later on. We figured it was better to be conservative on that side than to risk lows on the airplane.

Then it came time to land!

Eric showing Sophie the landmarks of London as we fly over
Sophie couldn’t take her eyes off London below us as we descended

And as you know when you approach a new city with new time zone as you land, the pilot lets you know the local time and everyone adjusts their watch (okay, not as much anymore because everyone has cell phones…). We took this time to pull out Sophie’s insulin pump control and adjust the time settings in that.
The timings in an insulin pump are very specific to each individual for every hour in the day. As I’ve explained in the past, she gets a constant drip of insulin throughout the day, as well as doses with each thing she eats. This constant drip dose throughout the day changes up and down based on her body’s insulin needs (as we’ve determined them, with the help of nurses and glucose monitoring). Same with her meal doses- She gets a different dose of insulin with breakfast carbs than she dose at lunch or dinner. This is all because of a lot of trial and error and countless dose adjustment and changes we’ve made over the past 6-9 months. We are always watching her glucose levels and determining her insulin needs and adjusting her insulin pump settings and daily timings, if necessary.

So, we were very nervous about making a drastic 8-hour time change to her insulin pump. We did a lot of reading about how best to do this – we read about changing it an hour a day, eating meals on the origin’s time for a few days, etc. But we found most of these suggestions lent themselves best to the idea of only a 2-4-hour time-change, not a huge 8-hour time-difference.

In the end, we decided to go for the rip-off-the-bandage approach and just change the time in the pump and deal with some wonky blood glucoses for a few days as we all try to get used to the time.

Pushing through!!! Changing those time settings!

We definitely noticed wonky BGs for the first 24 hours, her body didn’t know if it was breakfast or nighttime or what…. but we’re approaching the 48-hour mark and the BGs are already starting to make more sense (as much sense as T1D can ever make in a pubescent girl!)

So now here we are in Bristol!! We pushed through our jet-lag and had a busy first full day, picking up our rental car, picking up the keys to our new house, visiting our new house, and registering at the local doctor’s office. Sophie loves our new ‘local’ (the closest pub to our house) where we went for lunch and we do too.

Sophie can’t take her eyes off the windows while driving around, there’s so much to take in!

We topped off the day by celebrating Sophie’s first diaversary! Yes, one year ago, on 13 August 2018, she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. And now here we are! She got to choose dinner (fish & chips with mushy peas) and pick out English chocolate for dessert. It wasn’t a big huge celebration, but we are in a new country and getting to do an awful lot of awesome fun things!

Sophie is enjoying her diaversary chocolate

We still have so much to do- meet the doctor, get referral to the Diabetes Clinic, buy stuff for the house, go get school uniforms for Sophie, set up our mobiles…. the list seems endless.
We’ve received word that our furniture and effects have arrived in England and we’re currently trying to arrange a date for delivery and unpacking- they don’t seem to be in a super hurry to get to us!

So there’s still so much to do to officially make this our home, but we will and we are! The adventure has only begun!