Category Archives: Europe

What to Wear on a Country Walk – Winter 13/14

Country Walk EnglandWe have nine more weeks of Winter and that has not stopped us from going on country walks around our area of Bath, England.  However the shorts, sleeveless shirts, and trainers of our summer attire have had to be replaced by our winter wardrobe. When you are in England I always recommend double checking the weather right before you head out.  Check the temperature, the wind, and if rain or snow might be a factor.  Next, it is always good to plan your route before hand to give yourself a good time reference for how long you will be out.  With your information gathered you can than gauge how to dress appropriately for your country walk.  Remember just because you are going for a country walk, does not mean you have to dress frumpy. There are so many fashionable looks from Peter Hahn you can put together for your country walks from practical footwear to appropriate coats.


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Expat to Expat Q&A: Weather

Today I have a bit of a treat for you.  I am linking up with Belinda for a Expat to Expat: Q&A Session.  Today it is mainly focused on the weather. Which for living in England is perfect because we are always talking about the weather here.

My life as an Expat:
Technically I am a dual citizen with England due to being born here to my American parents.  My sons and I both have dual nationality with America.  My husband is the full expat while I am a technically expat as a person who is always caught between worlds.  I am Third Culture Kid (TCK) feel free to read more about my life as a TCK here.  We have been living the expat life in England since the end of May 2011.  We have always wanted to move to Europe since I grew up and lived in Europe until the age of seventeen.  We lived in Brighton, England first and now we are living in Bath in the Somerset area.  We do not ever plan to return ‘home’ to the USA.  We are open to moving to other places in Europe, Asia, and elsewhere but for now are content with our life in the UK.

1. What was your favourite season back home and is it the same now; why or why not?
Technically I have never had a home and there is not one place I can compare to another from everywhere I have lived. I used to live in Hawaii while my husband was stationed on Oahu and it was pretty much Summer year round with a monsoon period.  It was really lovely always being able to be outside due to the climate.  I used to fantasize what it would be like to be able to layer when choosing outfits.  Now that I am living the expat life in England I have many chances to layer.  Leggings are pretty much a staple under anything I wear, including trousers.  I still love Summer, however what I may have taken for granted with island life is now a special treat in England for when the sun breaks through the clouds.

2. Is there a place you would like to move to base solely on the weather?
There are two places that come to my mind. First Hawaii because I remember what it was like to have a free afternoon, drive out to North Shore, and just lie on the beach in the sun.  I do think of the possibility of moving back there if we had to move to the USA. However based on weather I could also move to any place in Austria, Switzerland, and southern Germany.  I have fond memories in all three places from my childhood in both the Summer and Winter months.  Seasonal activities like hiking and camping or skiing and snowboarding in the Alps is a good enough reason for me to move there.

3. What is a piece or an article of clothing that you had to buy for your new home due to the weather? 
As stated above, leggings. Also tights and thick nylons. Basically anything that I can layer with that can help keep my legs from freezing.  It is also the first article of clothing that I picked up on for fashion in the UK during our first week as expats in England.  Girls wear leggings with everything. Under dresses, under skirts, under high waisted and really short denim shorts (that show you bum cheeks), and under trousers.  Especially in the cold months you can look around and 85% of the female population will be wearing black on their legs since most leggings come in that colour.  Wellies (rainboots) are also a staple item for our expat life in England.  I just had to purchase new pairs for my sons.  Not just for the rainy season but for our weekly country walks.  You do not wear trainers (sneakers, tennis shoes) to go roaming the countryside. Thats a sure fire way to stand out as an outsider.  Of course coats and scarves in multiple varieties or staples of the UK wardrobe.

4. Have you found the weather stereotypes of your home to be true? 
I have lived here as a younger girl, but yes the stereotypes of weather are true.  Its cold a lot due to the usual white cloud cover across the sky and definitely if the wind is blowing.  It does rain frequently.  If it s not raining its cold enough to be snowing.  Sometimes it rains but its not enough to even open up your brolly (umbrella). We went through quite a number of umbrellas during our first year in England due their short life expectancy and over use. When the clouds do disappear, the sun comes out, and the temperature rises you can bet that every able person will be outside enjoying every moment of the good weather.

5. Is there somewhere you would never live based solely on weather? 
I do love the snow especially if I am on a vacation to make the most enjoyment out of the winter weather.  However I do not think I would really want to live say in Alaska maybe or somewhere where the sun might disappear for quite a long time because I already deal with vitamin D deficiency with living in England compared to living in Hawaii.  However I realize that would include say Sweden and I really want to live there sometime after traveling there. So who knows, I probably could be open to anything. Every pro has a con anyways including weather. 

6. What are you looking forward to most this Spring? 
I am most looking forward to wearing my shorter and sleeveless dresses. Even if that means I am also pairing them with leggings, leg warmers  cardigans, and jumpers (sweaters).  Just being able to wear more seasonal outfits for Spring and Summer can trick the mind into thinking it is warmer than it is, even under a coat. 

7. Where you live what is your go to outfit for Spring?  
I really try to not wear denim in England if I can help it. To me denmin screams ‘America’ and I already have my accent as a fashion accesorsy. No need to overkill it.  I really like the feminity of wearing dresses and skirts. So my go to outfit for spring is usually a dress or skirt, leggings if the weather permits it, a cardigan or jumper (sweater) and a scarf.  It really depends on the weather because if we get our rare warm days than I could easily ditch the leggings and the cardigan. I pretty much wear my sunnies (sunglasses) year round.

8. What is one event or thing that happens at this time back home that you miss at this time of the year? 
Again I do not have a home to compare this too.  However when it is a colder or rainy spring day I will envision wearing less clothing and being on the beach in Hawaii.  I try not to do that as it is easy to always see the grass as greener.  I was missing Europe while living in Hawaii. I would rather just be content because I am happy where we are living in Bath, England. If I do have my down moment I can always head into Hollister, look at the summery beach clothing and pretend in the darkness of the store that I am somewhere sunny. 😉

9. What type of flower bouquet would you love to have as a surprise?  
I do love roses especially since rose is my middle name.  However I have always wanted to be surprised with a beautiful pink bouquet of peonies because they are another of my favourite flower.  However I also love red poppies because they remind me of my dad who passed away.  He served 30 plus years in the USAF as an officer and is a veteren and I cannot help but pass a field of poppies and have him on the forefront of my mind.

10. What does your perfect Saturday look like?  
Our perfect Saturday is blue skies with our without clouds and little to no rain.  My family usually is outside on a country walk in the beautiful English countryside every weekend.  We really love being outside in our wellies and being outside for hours.  It is something I used to do with my dad when we were living in England back in the 80s and 90s. There is nothing like being in the middle of the country surrounded by nature’s beauty to let the stress of the week just melt off.  It helps us remember how much we love and feel blessed to be living as expats in England.  I honestly get a high off of it. 

11. Are there any special holidays in the month of May in your new country?
Yes there is a bank holiday in May. British bank holidays are public holidays, recognized since 1871.  It comes form the time when banks were shut so no trading could take place.  There are eight of them through out the year and two of them are in May.  May Day or Early May bank holiday is the first monday in May and Spring Bank Holiday is the last Monday in May. 

I am linking up with Belinda for the Expat to Expat Q&A Session.  

Found Love.  Now What?

Want to play along? Here are the questions for April, feel free to answer them and link up below! {The link will be open until Sunday April 28th} Once you submit your post, feel free to share it on Twitter (#ExpatQandA) or Facebook. If you are not an expat, hop around the links below to view the other submissions!

*photography belongs to Bonnie Rose Photography © 2013 All rights Reserved
For more information on Third Culture Kids, TCKs, and ATCKS

Travel: Athens, Greece

Travel Tuesday and I am taking you back to Athens, Greece with me.  This was one of my favourite trips when I was growing up because it was my first time in a different without my parents.  We were currently living in Stuttgart Germany where I attended Patch American high school for seventh and eight grade.  One summer while we were there I joined the teen group to Athens, Greece.  What made it really special was I got to go with my best friend Hamishe.  Her family is Greek and her mother was leading our group.
Traveling to Athens, Greece was almost as fun as the time we spent in the city itself.  We drove from where we lived in southern Germany into Italy and took a ferry across the Adriatic sea to Greece. Nothing like sunbathing on the ferry to get ready for the amazing adventure  that awaits.  In lieu of staying in a hotel we camped on the the beach which to this day is one of my favourite camping trips.  The views were beautiful and the water was so clear that you could see and count the ripples of the sand on the ocean floor below.  Of course we tried a lot of new foods and ate quite a lot of gyros.  There were the occasional things you do not plan on when traveling into another country.  We had to get off the trolleybus when a cable snapped free and stopped working.  One of the girls with us got really sick and we had to take a detour to the hospital.  Then there was the shopoholic (me) who spent all her money and had nothing to eat but peanut butter and crackers (that my mum packed me) by the time we got the greek ferry back to Italy.  
I have shoe boxes filled of photographs and in times of nostalgia go through them over and over again. They are much different from the photographs I take today with a DSLR and years of professional photograpy experience under my belt. They may not clearly show the food we ate or acurately show of the sites to see when traveling.  But these photographs below are memories of my childhood. A childhood I spend living and traveling abraod as a third culture kid.  Enjoy. 

Would love to hear your thoughts!  
Make sure to also check out the other travel posts for 
Travel Tuesday with this link below:

Helene in Between
I am linking up with ‘Travel Tuesdays’ and you should too!

* Scanned prints belong to Bonnie Rose Photography © 2013 All Rights Reserved 

Thoughts: I am my Father’s Daughter

A beholder of a US passport and an American accent it was not easily understood by some why I would seek ‘home’ in a a seemingly far off land.  I had been called selfish for for wanting to move my family across the ocean when jobs, schools, and homes could be found closer to my husband’s family.  Without jobs or a place to live my husband and I took the leap across the pond.  It can be quite scary and we managed it through support of many kinds, the biggest coming from the big man upstairs. I also find comfort in knowing that my father, though no longer with us since 2008, was keeping us safe.  He is the one reason after all that I would need to move back home to Europe.  
My father left home to join the USAF Academy at the age of seventeen and served 30+ years as an US Air Force officer and a veteran of the Gulf War in the ’90s.  He did six tours in Europe: three in England, two in Italy, and one in Germany.  That is roughly seventeen years living abroad and he got to see much more of the world through his work and free travel.  They say a girl’s father is one of the most influential people in her life, and this is the man who shaped my life, my worldview and my love for travel. I am my father’s daughter.  Returning home to Europe and living in England has been bittersweet at times. Let me clarify that statement.  It has been completely sweet like Cadbury’s milk chocolate, life itself will always have challenges and stress points.  The bitter part has been that my father is now no longer here to experience this part of my life with us and his grandsons.  
It has been four years and half years since he was taken from  this life, and that loss is still felt.  When the photographs below were taken at his funeral at the USAF Academy I was crying daily.  I may not cry daily today but I find little things will trigger tears over my father not being here.  I was looking at photographs from a friend’s trip to Austria and Switzerland, places from which I have fond memories with my dad.  In one sentence I went from the excitement of hoping to go there on our next trip, to sadness that my dad could not meet us there.  I will forever have him in my heart and every trip I take will be that more meaningful for it.  I just wish I could do more for my dad’s  presence in my sons’ lives.  So I do the best I can here in England.  I have photographs of him up, trinkets from his life and we share stories about him.  Some of my favourite stories are the ones my husband shares about my dad.  They only knew each other for a few years through trips and rare holidays, but he became the son my dad never had.  They would talk on the phone longer than my conversations with my dad. I admit I became envious of their relationship but in retrospect I am so glad that they were able to get close. I would not have wanted it any other way.  To know my dad and my mum love and appreciate my husband for who he is means so much to me.  
I do not have a whole lot of photographs with my dad and the last ones taken at his funeral. We had a lot of friends of my dad write, call, and visit at his memorial in Tucson, Arizona.  But at his funeral we had long time friends from my dad’s time with the military in England.  It meant so much to have them there for my dad and for us.  Though we were all hurting inside over the sudden loss, it is nice to see the smiles in the photos because my dad was always smiling.  He could find the best in everything. He could make friends with people from all backgrounds.  It is that part of him I hope I can channel into my sons to carry on the ‘Nystrom’ way of life.  The life of accepting others, the life of loving to travel, and to live every moment to its fullest.  
Live Aloha. 
Remember Charles. 
*Photographs belong to Bonnie Rose Photography © 2013 All Rights Reserved
** For more information on photographic services contact bonnie[at]bonnie-rose[dot]co[uk]

Travel Thursday: Moving Abroad

Travel Thursday.  I love to travel.  I also love to move. By ‘move’, I do not mean down the street or across town.  I love moving to another country and better yet another continent.  It is the norm for me and this nomadic lifestyle has been a major part of my life since I was born in England to my American parents.  With the weekend right around the corner, I find Thursdays are the perfect day to start talking ‘travel’. I hope to share to you all my love and passion for being a Wanderlust Third Culture Kid.

“Honestly I feel more at home in an airport and on airplane.” – Bonnie Rose

My Childhood. I grew up on military bases up and down Europe until I was seventeen years old. Unfortunately that meant I would spend my senior year graduating in the USA as well as adopting to the (new to me) USA culture.  Every cloud has a silver lining and for me it was getting to spend the summer after graduation in Italy to see my classmates get their diplomas.  For the next decade I would spend my life living through out the mainland USA and on the island of Oahu, Hawaii.  My  nomadic needs were catered to with time spent in Australia, Thailand, and Cambodia between the years of 2002 and 2011.  Though I carry an American passport and have an American accent, my goal had always been to use my UK passport and return ‘home’ to Europe.

My friends and I at the Naples American high school graduation – 2011 in Naples, Italy

Moving Abroad.  Since Ryan and and I started dating 11 years ago, he has been aware that I would want to live in Europe.  Straight out of University we went ahead to achieve that goal through following a path to be missionaries.  When that door closed the door to the USAF opened and through it the next six years.  While my husband worked as a linguist our dream of being stationed in Europe was not in the military’s goals for us.  I will say that the 3ish years in Hawaii living an island wife was not half bad. 😉  In the Summer of 2011 with my husband fresh out of the military, we took the leap and moved to England.

If you have a goal to move to another country, make it a goal and do it! Take your dreams and your wishes and pair it with action.  I have talked to a lot of people since the summer of 2011 about why we made such a big move.  In response back I have heard frequently the statements of ‘oh I wish I could do that’ or ‘wow, I couldn’t imagine just moving to another country like that’.   I will be straight with you. Moving abroad will not be easy, but if you want to do it then figure out a way so it does not become a future regret. I love the mantra that ‘Life is Short, Live every Moment’.

This was our last photograph taken with our sons before we left.  They would join us once we were settled.
This was the last photograph taken of us together before our plane left for England. 

How We Did It. Moving abroad is not an easy feat. While I thought we were both prepared for our move we did learn a lot along the way.  We chose to move to England without either of us having a job lined up, nor a place to stay.  That is not the whole story, so please do not go by that strategy to move abroad.  You definitely need to do your research and figure out how you can get a visa.  A simple tourist visa will not allow you to live and work inside a country and every place has its own rules.  Know the restrictions and what you will need before you hop on a plane.  The easiest way to move to another country would be with a job that you already have, that will send you to work there.  While we tried that with the military, this way did not pan out for us.

Another way to get a visa to live and work is to look at getting a student Visa and attending school.  My husband decided to use his GI Bill from the USAF and get his masters in England.  We moved abroad with my husband accepted to University of Sussex in Brighton, England and I was traveling under my British passport.  OOPS! That is right, we made mistakes along the way. So in a ‘do as I say, not as I do’ fashion, I will repeat that you know the guidelines for acquiring the correct Visa.  You will want to confirm with several sources or you will end up like we did.  Though we read online that Ryan could apply for his student visa in the country, that ended up being a misprint of bad information on the website.  My husband had to leave the country, apply for his visa in the USA, pay to have it expedited  and then return to join me.  The paperwork and dealing with people can end up in costly mistakes if you are not careful.

At Heathrow airport my husband looks for wifi as we wait for our train.

Navigating our way to Victoria Station with the Underground.

First Arriving into England
Though we did not have any personal contacts in Brighton, we did plan out our journey down to Brighton and reserve a place at a hostel.  We did not know at this point how long it would take to find jobs, so living in a hotel would be far out of our means.  Hostels however are perfect if you are traveling sans kids and was one of the reasons we chose to leave our kids with family while we figure everything out. Staying in a hostel for us was smart. However traveling with the amount of luggage we brought proved to be a bit challenging and did result in a little heart ache.  Anything I knew we needed needed to be in our suitcases I packed.  On vacations we pack like pros, but moving to another country changes the game plan a bit.  If you do come to Europe, know that there may not be lifts (elevators) like there are back in the USA.  We had to take several trips many times up and down different flights of stairs across the train stations all the way to Brighton.  Which was not as terrible, as it was that I broke my camera lens trying to shuffle bags.

Another tip of advice.  There will be plenty of time for photos.  When maneuvering your luggage, keep your camera where it will be safe. 😉 

I was so excited to be home in Europe after so many years.
Everyone we met was so polite and helpful and we were smiling the whole way to Brighton. 

Outside the Brighton rail station on the coast of England.  

Ryan eventually got his marriage visa, went to school, and worked part time. I began work for the next year at a salon and our kids joined us in September to start the school year in England.  After all was said and done I am so glad that we decided to just do it.  Our family has only come closer together living here and being married to my expat in England is everything for which I had hoped.  We have since moved to Bath, as of the end of December 2012 and we currently have no further plans of moving.

Where would you move to if you could go anywhere in the world?  Have you or do you currently live abroad from your ‘home’ country?  I love to meet other expats and future expats! 

* Photographs belong to Bonnie Rose and cannot be used without written consent.

Our first Christmas in Bath

We moved just a couple of days before Christmas to Bath, England and we able to celebrate the holidays with Nonna (my mum +Teresa Nystrom ) and Zia Zoë (my younger sister +Zoe Nystrom ) at our new place.  It had been a little stressful, but nothing could make our Christmas better than having our family here for the Holidays.  I have not spent a holiday back in Europe with my mum and sister yet, and it was an amazing sense of ‘home’ to break in our life in Bath.  Although my dad could not be here with us in person, he was definitely felt here with us in spirit.  What great memories +Ryan Aherin and I to share to end our 2012.

My family (from L to R): Bonnie, Ryan, Zoë
, Teresa, Ronan, and Maddox)
Making snowflakes on Christmas Eve with roasted chestnuts and mulled cider prepared by my husband. 
After getting their new Arsenal christmas pyjamas, the boys opened the stockings on Christmas morning that Nonna brought for us from the USA.
Maddox asked Father Christmas for a spy kit and looks like he listened!
Nonna brought the boys full Science kits including lab coats!
Ronan ‘trying’ to look sad because it was not a metal detector. But really he was and is still very excited about his Meccano kit.

My husband and I brought back these Roman gladiator sets from our trip to Italy for Father Christmas to bring on Christmas day.  Looks like they can both play ‘Rory’ now. 
We took my mum and sister, Zoë, to the Abbey in Bath on December 27th.
Zia Zoë and my sons lit a candle for my dad on his birthday, who would have been 59 on December 27th.
The view of Bath at night time is equally as beautiful and I loved seeing the water lit up by the lights and bridge under the moonlight.  There were a group of swans that you cannot see in the photo but that added to the ambience of the moment. 
Instagram: thebonnierose

Park Time

The boys have the week off from school do to half term.  I took a holiday from work today to watch the boys so we headed to the park.  They had fun playing and then we headed back through the trail for lunch at home.

Maddox loved the yellow gold on the tree; his favourite colour!
Ready to play tag?  
Hes got a very strong faith.  He’s praying for a baby sister at this moment. :)
With my boys at the park.