Letters from the Larmours » Stories from the travels of the Larmour Family

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  • Hello and Welcome!

    Come on in... here you’ll find bits and bobs about us, The Larmours, our life, where we live, what we do, and most of all, about our biggest shared family passion – our travels. This is a record for us, a place for us to share pictures and ramblings on what we’ve done and where we’ve been, but you’ll find occasional blethering about other things too.

    We met in Hong Kong, and since then have lived and worked all over Asia before settling in China, where our Saffy arrived and now being based in the UAE where Indy joined us. Since we met we’ve travelled – since we married we’ve been on an adventure – since we had kids it hasn’t stopped… ultimatey, all our small travels are preparation for the big one – that one day we hope to take – a gap year, a sabbatical, a break from the daily grind – who knows where or when it’ll happen, but in the meantime we’re enjoying practicing with lots of smaller adventures…

    Grab a cup of tea and come exploring with us,
    Kirsty, Tommy, Saffy and Indy xxxx

A Letter from 2014 | Part 3, the epic road trip

Part three of our 2014 travels is the big part – the scary into the unknown part – the OMG have we lost the plot part!!! It’s time for the EPIC ROAD TRIP!!!!!!

(NOTE: if you didn’t have a cup of tea or glass of wine handy for the last 2 blog posts you’ll need one now – it’s long (although I swear this is the brief version!!) Or alternatively just scroll through quickly and see the pretty pictures!)

So, we flew back from Cuba and had just over a week in AD during which time Kirsty ran round like a crazy loony seeing clients. The girls went into school for a week – seriously, their school is just the best to let them come in and do that! And Tommy fitted out the car!! Yup, in the mad 2 months of summer we bought a new car just for this road trip. You may have seen our old jeep, Jessie which we love and has served us well on many a previous road trip… well she was just too small for a trip of this size, so after many discussions of various requirements and budget constraints (which meant tossing out Kirsty’s dream car of a Land Rover Defender!!) we bought something new… when I say new I only mean new to us – Nellie, our beloved Nissan Patrol is actually so old she still has a tape deck!!!! But I sit here 18,000km later typing this and know that age is nothing but a number and she’s served us pretty well… so, back to the story – Tommy sorted out all our gear – camping, cooking, healthwise, clothing, car gear, paperwork, oh the paperwork…. and all the rest of it… And then off we set… to Sharjah….. where it took us many hours to export our car from the UAE before we boarded a 16 hour ferry to Bandar Abbas in Iran. 01-Letter-from-a-road-trip-Sharjah-to-IranAt the other end it took us a mere (!!) 7 hours to get our car into Iran before we could really feel we were off and on our way!! After a night in the port town we headed to Meymand, a cave village, where we were looked after by the most lovely old lady to break ourselves into travels through Iran gently.02-Letter-from-a-road-trip-Maymand-caves-IranOne of the most wonderful things about Iran as how healthily we ate – fresh fruit was on sale by the roadsides everywhere and we snacked on it all day long!

Iran is a huge country so it took us some time to travel through – next stop, was Shiraz with it’s historical mosques and souks – fresh juices and a morning at the vast ancient site of Persepolis completed our stay.03-Letter-from-a-road-trip-Shiraz-Iran.04-Letter-from-a-road-trip-Shiraz-Iran05-Letter-from-a-road-trip-Shiraz-Iran06-Letter-from-a-road-trip-Persopolis-IranWe picniced in stunning countryside on fresh bread and cheese – plus the wonderful fruits and veggies we’d picked up from the roadside stalls, plus nuts and dried fruits we bargained for in the souks – and many people have asked, but yes, I was allowed to drive – Iran was refreshingly accepting – the only thing I was required to do was cover my head – and believe me, the Iranian girls push their luck with showing a lot more hair than this!!! 07-Letter-from-a-road-trip-Yazd-Iran08-Letter-from-a-road-trip-Yazd-IranYazd (above) was one of our favourite towns – a laid back desert town with houses made of sand and mud – we met several other travelling families there which was reasuring too  :)09-Letter-from-a-road-trip-chak-chak-IranEshfahan was another favourite stop off – so rich in history and culture and so open – we found groups of men and women socialising freely there – one group that we chatted to were a mix of Iraqis and Iranians – the Iranians surprised us time and again with their openness and wonderful hospitality10-Letter-from-a-road-trip-Eshfahan-Iran11-Letter-from-a-road-trip-Eshfahan-IranWe not only visted mosques but also ventured into several churches during our time in Iran – some of which had truly exquisite interiors 11-Letter-from-a-road-trip-Abanyeh-IranLet it also be said that Iran has some of the best coconut macaroons ever!!!!!!! We tried a lot of different local foods!13-Letter-from-a-road-trip-Kashan-IranAs we travelled north it started to rain and get chillier, and we saw snow on the mountains – next time we visit we hope to ski in Iran!! 14-Letter-from-a-road-trip-Rasht-Iran15-Letter-from-a-road-trip-Masuleh-IranThe Caspian sea on a very grey day!!16-Letter-from-a-road-trip-Caspian-sea-IranI LOVED the souks – I wish we’d bought a carpet, but Iran being our first road trip country we just felt we couldn’t… but next time… I’ll head back to Tabriz, or maybe Eshfahan… the souk in Tabriz was certainly one of the prettiest17-Letter-from-a-road-trip-Tabriz-IranAnd so we left Iran… there’s a whole story to be told about our leaving which still leaves my heart racing, but in the end it’s all good – it involves a broken down car, a remote mountainside, no phone signals, the incredibly heartwarming generosity of the Iranian people, and a frantic race to the border where we left 15 minutes before our visas were due to expire… eeek!!!

Originally we were going to head to Turkey (and that’s what I told people when they asked where we were going because, honestly, I didn’t want to deal with questions about the why’s on whether we should be going to Iran – we did our planning and knew what we were in for) but as we passed through Iran things in Turkey weren’t looking great down in the SE region so we changed plans and crossed into Armenia instead, Well what an amazingly beautiful surprise that country was! Full of glorious and dramatic scenery – churches perched high on cliff tops and snow capped mountains – it was wonderful.21-Letter-from-a-road-trip-Tatev-Armenia20a-Letter-from-a-road-trip-Tatev-ArmeniaIt was also the place where “Armenia’s Silk Road” roads put paid to the quick fix botch job we’d done on the car in Iran – seriously Armenia, beautiful country, but worst roads, EVER!!! So off Nellie went to get fixed by Nissan Yerevan and the week long wait to get the parts meant we had to hang out and enjoy the country some more – no bad thing to take a rest after our mad dash through Iran!!
22-Letter-from-a-road-trip-Silk-road-Armenia22-Letter-from-a-road-trip-Yerevan-Armenia23-Letter-from-a-road-trip-Yerevan-ArmeniaThe apartment we rented for the week had amazing views of Mount Ararat (yep, the one where Noah’s ark got stuck!) – and no driving meant we were free to sample the delights of Yerevan’s famous Brandy factory!!!

We also got to visit Geghardt Monastery where we experienced our first real snow of the trip!!! In the first week of November – eeek, this could be a long, long winter!!!24-Letter-from-a-road-trip-Geghard-Monastery-Armenia24-Letter-from-a-road-trip-Yerevan-ArmeniaHanging out and renting an apartment meant we could concentrate on some school work for the girls, and also some extra subjects they wanted to learn, like knitting! The girls also hand made all their Christmas presents this year – what a beautiful thing free time is for kids – I loved seeing the effort and thought they put in to what they made for everyone…. 25-Letter-from-a-road-trip-ArmeniaAbove, more amazing churches, and the Monument to the Armenian alphabet!

Following Armenia we motored on to Georgia – where we really didn’t have enough time because of our extended stay in Yerevan – but it’s on the list for a future trip because it was also stunning.
27-Letter-from-a-road-trip-Georgia-TurkeyNext up was Turkey, where we visited a monastery on a cliff, hung out and painted stones from the Black Sea, treated the girls to their first real proper hammam, ate Turkish pizza, bought more evil eye charms to add to our collection, looked at more carpets, stayed in a town named after the Saffron flower (to Saffy’s delight and Indy’s disgust!), drove on roads that felt like kittens fur after those former Soviet states, took Tommy for his first trip to Istanbul (we three girls have been before!) and ate curry – which was a pure delight after all the aubergine we’d consumed in the previous three countries!!!!  27-Letter-from-a-road-trip-istanbul-turkeyNext up we stopped off in Sofia for a few days and then headed to stay with old AD friends in Bucharest. I will say here that much as we are lucky enough to truly love each others company, spending a night in a real home and with some different people and talking about some different things after all that time was just lovely!!!! Thank you lovely friends – and for replenishing our marmite supplies!! Important stuff!! 28-Letter-from-a-road-trip-sofia-bulgariaIn Romania we got to experience our first of the European Christmas markets – which was just wonderful – but very cold, and we were glad for hot chocolate and mulled wine!!29-Letter-from-a-road-trip-christmas-markets-RomaniaWe then sped our way across Europe – we never intended spending time in the more expensive parts (I’ll try and post about our budgeting in a future post) and some we’ve been to before in any case so we passed quickly though Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic (where we saw the bone church below!!) spending only one night in each before reaching Berlin.26-Letter-from-a-road-trip-bone-church-Czech-RepublicIn Berlin we had the sweetest experience when a couple stopped and asked us about he car and it turned out they were from Abu Dhabi too! The world is very small!! Though the weather was dull we loved Berlin and it’s imposing buildings and dramatic history – some of it was hard to explain to the girls but despite some of the sadness that brings we soaked it’s hopeful atmosphere up before heading on to see clients of Kirsty’s in western Germany.31-Letter-from-a-road-trip-Berlin-germany32-Letter-from-a-road-trip-reichstag-building-germanyIf you ask the girls which their favourite place was I can guarantee they’ll say Brussels – for the very reason they had a 3 day sleepover/playdate there with Indy’s bestie from Abu Dhabi who moved there last year – up till now we’ve had to make do with skype playdates for the girls so they were in heaven!! I’ve gotta admit, the Mummies loved catching up too <3 33-Letter-from-a-road-trip-friends-belgium35-Letter-from-a-road-trip-friends-belgiumNext stop Tommy’s sister in England – we took the Eurotunnel which was an extremely pleasant experience! And spent a day down in London meeting Paddington and seeing just how pretty London is at Christmas time. The girls and Tommy have been reading the Harry Potter books as we travel (those three and their bedtime stories make my heart sing) so we had to stop off at platform 9 3/4!!!!35-Letter-from-a-road-trip-London-UKThe girls loved helping Auntie Jo in the garden too – and made soup and bread daily for us – something I hope they’ll continue to help out with when we have a home again!!!36-Letter-from-a-road-trip-UKOur travels on from there took us to Yorkshire and then up to Edinburgh, where we stopped off to see the Angel of the North for the first time – wow!!!!!! It’s fabulous!!! 37-Letter-from-a-road-trip-Angel-of-the-north-UKWe then hung out at Granny and Granda’s home in Ireland – which meant lots of time for dog walking, geocaching, catching up with family and friends and sleeping!!!! 38-Letter-from-a-road-trip-Ireland-beaches-ChristmasOur last stop before heading back was Cork where we saw an old friend of Kirsty’s who’d just had a baby – one of the wonderful things about the trip is that it’s given us that extra bit of time to see people that often we can’t quite manage to coordinate with, and that’s been a fabulous bonus….

And so, then we were off back across the Irish sea from Dublin, to our last new country (for the girls anyway) Wales, before arriving in Yorkshire to spend Christmas there….. 39-Letter-from-a-road-trip-UK-ChristmasWe did it – we drove 15,000km, though 19 countries – from Abu Dhabi to the UK for Christmas. The end of a year of travel – and the start of new adventures for 2015… for they will continue… we have to get the car back to the UAE somehow!!!!! Bring it on!!!!

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about our travels and our epic road trip – we hope to post more pretty pictures and more stories as we go, but don’t hold your breath because, honestly, we’re just enjoying this time together as a family too much!! (and also the kids need schooling, and laundry still needs doing, and dinners need cooking, and we need to earn a living as we go and all that mundane regular stuff  – because seriously, you didn’t honestly think we were doing this is 5 star luxury with a private tutor and housekeeper hidden in the back of the car did you?????;)) If you want to follow along you can check the FB page – link over on the side somewhere – or Kirsty’s instagram, cos lets face it, Instagram’s where all the cool kids are these days!!!

lots of love, Kirsty, Tommy, Saffy and Indy xxxx

Jay Davies

Wow! Totally amazing. Mia and I are following you all on Insta but to read it is FANTASTIC! We miss you and look forward to the next installment! Love you long time xxxxxx

Steph

I’m going to start a Kirsty Lamour fan club and become the president because you just amaze me every day. Love you and thanks for sharing!!

Amanda

Love, love, love these!! What a fabulous adventure♥

Karen

Amazing trip and am glad you all had an amazing time :)

Camilla

finally read all three parts! Amazing is not the word! I really enjoyed following you guys and looking forward already to more of your future trips!
You are very inspirational Kirsty)
P.S. If you are ever planning to visit my hometown Samarkand,it’s truly is a beauty, let me know) x

A Letter from 2014 | Part 2, the Americas

And so, as all their friends went back to school, our girls took a plane and we headed to the USA…. To be fair, the USA wasn’t really on our travel radar – whenever we’d discussed how we’d spend this sabatical year we’d always thought we’d hang out in India and hike in the Himalayas, or maybe go to language school in South America and then backpack our way through that continent, or perhaps take some intrepid wanderings along the silk route… but the USA became our first stop because Kirsty was invited to teach some workshops at a photography conference there – not only that, but on kids travel photography, and given how passionate she is on that subject it was an opportunity she couldn’t turn down…. so off we flew, first stop NYC!!!

01-Letters-from-the-Larmours-New-YorkNYC was amazing! Not only did we get to hang out with a whole load of friends and family (including Kirsty’s besties from school) but it’s like being in a real live film set – every corner has a different iconic sight!! 02-Letters-from-the-Larmours-New-York03-Letters-from-the-Larmours-Ace-Hotel-New-YorkFrom NYC we took the overnight train to Chicago – where we hung out with yet more friends – yippeeeee!! 04-Letters-from-the-Larmours-Chicago05-Letters-from-the-Larmours-Amtrack-across-America-ChicagoWe then took a 2 day 2 night train to Salt Lake City – yup, everyone thought we were crazy, but it was the ideal amount of downtime for Kirsty to finalise her class notes and for us to chill after the long flights and busy days at the start of our trip – perfect!!06-Letters-from-the-Larmours-Amtrack-across-AmericaSalt Lake City deserves another post all of it’s own (well so do most of these places but this is a brief run down of the year after all!!) I, Kirsty, was taking 4 small group sessions at the Click Away conference – the ladies there were just wonderful – from people I’d admired when I was starting out, to people I’d met online who took me under their wings, to the amazing participants who filled classes and asked questions and indulged me rambling on about my passions – I found a love for teaching that I never actually realised was there!!

And out of 8,000 entries I won the “Street” category of the Voice photo contest with this picture of our trip to Paris a few years ago – when we have a home again this will be going on the wall!!! 07-Letters-from-the-Larmours-Salt-Lake-CityWe visited the Utah state fair – a veritable culinary and livestock experience the like of which I’ve never seen before!!!

And we hung out with friends at the Great Salt Lake – wow – what a place!!08-Letters-from-the-Larmours-Salt-Lake-City09-Letters-from-the-Larmours-Salt-Lake-CityFollowing SLC we took a road trip through Utah and Colorado – my gosh, what amazingly beautiful states they are… they’re well on the list for places we must go back to one day!!10-Letters-from-the-Larmours-Colorado-road-trip11-Letters-from-the-Larmours-Colorado-road-trip12-Letters-from-the-Larmours-Colorado-road-tripWe then headed to Mexico, for a brief rest and a few margaritas and nachos! 13-Letters-from-the-Larmours-Mexico-Tulum14-Letters-from-the-Larmours-Mexico15-Letters-from-the-Larmours-MexicoAnd then we flew to Cuba. We had figured while we were that side of the world we should visit somewhere else and had been trying to decide between Mexico and Cuba. On the advice of a Mexican friend who suggested that Cuba would change more in the next few years than Mexico we headed to Havana and it looks like that was a good choice!16-Letters-from-the-Larmours-Havana-Cuba17-Letters-from-the-Larmours-Havana-CubaWe started in Havana and the headed to the tobacco growing region of Vinales – aaah, it was wonderful – just like a painting, full of limestone scenery and caves18-Letters-from-the-Larmours-Vinales-CubaAnd mojitos!!!!19-Letters-from-the-Larmours-Vinales-CubaAnd vintage cars – everywhere, just as people imagine!!20-Letters-from-the-Larmours-Vinales-Cuba21-Letters-from-the-Larmours-Vinales-Cuba22-Letters-from-the-Larmours-Vinales-CubaFrom there we headed south to the gorgeous colonial town of Trinidad – where we took salsa lessons!!23-Letters-from-the-Larmours-Trinidad-Cuba24-Letters-from-the-Larmours-Trinidad-Cuba25-Letters-from-the-Larmours-Trinidad-Cuba26-Letters-from-the-Larmours-Trinidad-CubaFrom Trinidad we headed back to Santa Clara and Havana again – we travelled slowly and soaked Cuba up instead of trying to rush it all – it’s much bigger, and takes much longer to get around than you’d think!!! I guess we think of it as a little Caribbean island, but actually it’s probably larger than the UK!27-Letters-from-the-Larmours-Santa-Clara-Cuba28-Letters-from-the-Larmours-Havana-Cuba

And so, we left Cuba, a place so vastly different from the technologically developed west, or the land of no wifi as Indy called it, and flew back to Abu Dhabi to commence the next chapter of our travels…..

steph

❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

Karen

Stunning photos as usual :x

A Letter from 2014 | Part 1, the start of the year

Aaaaah, 2014… the year of travel – the year of upheaval, the year of chaos and yet also the year of realising a dream…. I totally intended to have these posts ready and up on the blog before Christmas – before I sent out Christmas cards to friends far and wide so they could come and read (if they so wanted) when they got that tiny update – but alas, we were actually so busy enjoying our travels and catching up with family and friends that it never happened… so here we go, the first of three instalments.. I’ll try to keep it brief, but really, it’d take me another year to cover all we did in this remarkable year!!!

The year started off with us in Finland – We’d been to see the real Father Christmas, who was nothing short of magical, and to ski, and yes, skiing in Finland is actually really good… 01-Letters-from-the-Larmours---Lapland02-Letters-from-the-Larmours---LaplandThe year continued in Abu Dhabi – us hanging out, doing our usual stuff, y’know, going to the camel races and stuff like that!!!;)
And of course lots of desert trips….03-Letters-from-the-Larmours-Abu-Dhabi-desertThe girls both celebrated their birthdays and had a joint Hip-hop party at their dancing class04-Letters-from-the-Larmours-Abu-Dhabi-desert05-Letters-from-the-Larmours-birthdays-Abu-Dhabi-desert06-Letters-from-the-Larmours-birthdays-Abu-Dhabi-desert07-Letters-from-the-Larmours--Abu-Dhabi-desertThe end of March saw us head to Hong Kong for a few days of catching up with wonderful friends, lots of reminiscing and lots of wondering if we could ever live there again… the 2014 travel seed was well and truly planted by this time… at the end of 2013 we’d had the news that an international move we’d been hoping/waiting for had been called off – in light of that we were weighing up options on what we might do instead to see more of the world and spend more time with the girls without the pressures of life/work/activities which tend to pull us all in different directions….08-Letters-from-the-Larmours--Hong-KongFrom Hong Kong we headed to Bali. Those of you who know Kirsty well will understand that this was a really tough time – both in the run up, and whilst there, a lot of tears were shed, but we were able to laugh through the tears and tell the girls some great stories, and leave with a little more peace… well Kirsty anyway, Tommy left Bali with 10 stitches in his head – ouch! 09-Letters-from-the-Larmours-Bali10-Letters-from-the-Larmours-Bali11-Letters-from-the-Larmours-BaliThe girls had their first try on a motorbike and their first try at surfing too! And they made firm friends with Audrey, daughter of Kirsty’s friend Rowe who we were lucky enough to stay with.12-Letters-from-the-Larmours-Bali13-Letters-from-the-Larmours-Bali14-Letters-from-the-Larmours-BaliAnd so we headed back to Abu Dhabi, via HK again!

15-Letters-from-the-Larmours-Hong Kong Abu DhabiBack in Abu Dhabi school and dancing classes took over and the travel ideas ticked away in our minds – knowing that maybe this was our time to take off and see the world with the girls, but not quite knowing when or how or where to do it….16-Letters-from-the-Larmours-Abu DhabiBy the end of the school year we knew we had a chance, maybe a once in a lifetime chance and we had to take it. We’d always said we’d take some time out to travel, possibly a year, but maybe more or less, before the girls got to High School and suddenly the travel gods started smiling upon us… things started coming together that meant a natural break was coming… it left us with under 2 months to plan, to sell/store/organise our stuff and hit the road!! Eeeeeek!!
17-Letters-from-the-Larmours-Abu DhabiAnd with those plans in mind we hung out in Abu Dhabi for the summer – which meant plenty of pool time… the odd night in a hotel to break up the school holidays and the quietness of Ramadan and a huge clearout!!!! 17-Letters-from-the-Larmours-Abu-Dhabi18-Letters-from-the-Larmours-Abu DhabiThat stripey inflatable ring above ^ best AED20 I’ve ever spent!!!!18-Letters-from-the-Larmours-Abu-Dhabi19-Letters-from-the-Larmours-Abu-Dhabi20-Letters-from-the-Larmours-Abu-Dhabi

By the time August came, and our 10th wedding anniversary (celebrated at Jumeirah 360) we were giddy with excitement and filled with trepidation – were we doing the right thing? What about school? What about all our stuff? What about Kirsty’s business? Tommy’s work gave him 6 months, and off we went…..

To be continued in Part 2!

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Steph

Anxiously awaiting part II. Love love love all the photos and seeing the world thru your eyes Kirsty!

Katie Corner

What a stunning diary. One you will all treasure in times to come. Utterly inspired by your adventures and hope opportunities arise in the same way for us. Thinking of you often and sending love always. K x

Amanda

What a fantastic journey you have begun! Just love these beautiful images, they help to transport us there!! xo

Isabel

Love it Kirsty! Can´t wait for part 2!

Louise Zabriskie

You have done such a beautiful job of documenting your travels! Each shot is so unique and lovely! Thanks for sharing your journeys.

Karen Williams

Can’t wait for the next installment and no wonder so many tears were shed in Bali. But you will be glad to have remembered (I am sure) some very very good memories of a truly dear and funny friend.

Debbie Wibowo

I really enjoy following your adventure…Beautiful and made my heart stopped!

Leigh

I wish we where more like you guys . What a fab experience and I am only on part 1 . Keep us posted . Hope everyone is well.