July 26th, 2013 by Matthew

Martha Planchant born July 22nd 2013, at 9:56am, 3200g.

Mother and baby both doing well.

It’s taken us a few days to agree on a name. Nine months just not long enough.

Her big brother is smitten.

Exactly two years since my last post…

August 3rd, 2012 by Matthew
Birthday boy

…and what better way to blow away the cobwebs than with a post to say Happy 2nd Birthday Gruff. Thank you for two of the most tiring yet rewarding years of my life.

We’ve both come a long way.

Little Gruff

August 3rd, 2010 by Matthew

Gruffydd “Gruff” Planchant born this morning, August 3rd 2010, at 2:19am, 3300g.

Mother and baby both doing well except for Gruff’s sore head and Rhian’s lack of sleep.

For those wondering how “Gruff” is pronounced, it’s just the same as Griff.

Dorset and River Cottage

September 18th, 2009 by Matthew
River Cottage Autumn Fair

We were very lucky that our camping trip to Dorset coincided with a beautiful later summer’s weekend.

As well as visiting the River Cottage Autumn Fair for the birthday of Hugh’s biggest fan. We also enjoyed walking, a spot of mackerel fishing off Lyme Regis (and cooking the spoils), eating too much and sampling some of the local ales and rather too much of the local cider.

355 days in numbers

May 12th, 2009 by Matthew

Over the last 12 months we have:

  • Visited 21 countries.
  • Got through 6 pairs of flip flops.
  • Lost 4 items of clothing in the laundry.
  • Got through 6 watches.
  • Consumed 2 unhatched ducklings.
  • Had a maximum of 21 consecutive dry days.
  • Used 3 animals for transport (elephant, horse and camel.)
  • Been invited to 2 weddings.
  • Been on 2 flights.
  • Been involved in 1 cycle rickshaw accident.
  • Visited 20 capital cities.
  • Visited the mausoleums of 3 dead communists.
  • Made it to 2 continents.
  • Crossed 15 land borders.
  • Inadvertently walked through 2 political demonstrations.
  • Spent 3 nights on a boat.

Now to count the number of nights spent onboard a train, number of languages attempted, number of currencies used and number of guide books read.


May 10th, 2009 by Matthew

We arrived in Paris by TGV from Basel. A comfortable journey made all the more entertaining by the conductors attempts to seamlessly switch between German, French and English.

We spent the afternoon wandering around the 5th and 6th arrondissements and reading a collection of posters outside the Jardin du Luxembourg. The final night of our trip was spent enjoying a delicious meal with Dominique and Christian.


May 9th, 2009 by Matthew

We enjoyed a great two days in Basel with Nicole and Christian. While we were there we explored the old town, took in the views from Bölchenflue, visited the Roman amphitheatre at Augusta Raurica, cheekily enjoyed a free beer at the Feldschlösschen brewery, took in a spot on the Rhein where France, Germany and Switzerland meet and crossed the Rhein by means of an ingenious ferry which used the power of the river to take us from one side to the other.

Nicole and Christian were determined that we sample a wide range of edible Swiss delights during our visit. These included the classic fondue, waldfest (forest party), Alpen macaroni, white asparagus plus a huge selection of Swiss cheeses and beers.


May 7th, 2009 by Matthew

Our lightning stop in Munich began with an early arrival at Hauptbahnhof. We took the U-Bahn to our hotel but we were too early to check into our room so we headed straight out to explore. The city map we were given at our hotel had a short walking tour so after an excellent breakfast at a city centre cafe we strolled around the city taking in the sights. For lunch we visited the wonderful Viktualienmarkt where everyone was tucking into substantial pieces of pork. We tried the wurst and traditional Munich meat loaf. Both were very good. We also had a very simple but delicious sandwich of herring and raw onion in a crusty roll.

Pinakothek der Moderne

We spent the afternoon at the Pinakothek der Moderne. We spent a few hours admiring the four sections and we discovered that the IKEA BILLY bookcase is a design icon. For dinner we had no option but to visit one of Munich’s excellent beer halls. We enjoyed great food and very good beer at Augustiner am Dom (we also managed to squeeze in a visit to the Löwenbräu Keller.)

Istanbul to Munich

May 6th, 2009 by Matthew

Our mammoth overland journey from the edge of Europe to Munich began at Istanbul’s Sirkeci station with the Bosfor Ekspresi. We decided to splash out on a compartment in the sleeping car for the Istanbul to Bucharest leg of the journey. However, on arriving at the platform, we discovered that the train only comprised of two carriages, neither of which was the sleeping car. It turned out that the sleeping car wasn’t running. Instead we were allocated couchettes and refunded the fifty-odd euros difference.


Sharing our six-berth compartment with us was Sven a Danish gentleman also on his way home from Iran. Sven was pretty miffed about the non-appearance of the sleeping-car though he proved to be very good company and he soon got over having to share a compartment with us. The Turkish/Bulgarian border at Kapıkule is unusual in that instead of the immigration officers boarding the train, shining their torches into the compartment and demanding ‘passportz’ the passengers are required to leave the train and queue to have their passports stamped. At around 3am we were summoned from our beds and after an hour or so we were entering Bulgaria. The next morning we woke as the train was passing through picturesque Bulgarian countryside.


As there was no restaurant car we tucked into the provisions we had brought from Istanbul (bread, cheese, apples, crisps and lokum!) Late afternoon we crossed the mighty Danube and entered Romania. A few hours later, after successfully acquiring a reservation for the train to Budapest, we were sipping beer at Bucharest’s Gara de Nord.

Our carriage for the journey to Budapest was new and very comfortable. We shared our six berth compartment with a young man on his way to Budapest to work on a Danube passenger ship. We shared a beer with him as the sun set over the Romanian countryside.

Istanbul to Munich

Arriving in Budapest we secured a reservation on that nights train to Munich. After leaving our bags at left luggage and having a spot of brunch, we headed to the Széchenyi baths. We had visited the baths nine years ago on our Interrailing trip and it was pretty much as we had remembered it – a maze!

We spent five hours steaming, sweating and washing away two days worth of grime before heading back towards the city centre and enjoying an excellent meal (we’d given up on budgeting by this point) before boarding the train to Munich.

Istanbul (Not Constantinople)

May 5th, 2009 by Rhian

Istanbul is definitely a city which we will visit again. We had just four days there but, during this time, did manage to visit many of the major sights such as Hagia Sophia, Topkapı palace, Sultan Ahmed mosque and the archaeological museum. We also spent an enjoyable day travelling along the Bosporus to the Black sea.

One of the cheapest hotels we could find in the city was across the Golden Horn, in Beyoğlu. The area turned out to be a great place to stay with wealth of characterful local bars and restaurants.


Istanbul is a great place for food lovers. We spent a large proportion of our time sampling the local cuisine. We decided to splash out one evening and have a ‘proper meal’ at a meyhane on Nevizade Sokak. Instead of using a menu the mezes were brought around on a large tray. Amongst all the usual suspects of taramasalata and aubergine salad there was the option of whole lambs brain which, of course, we had to opt for.

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