The Thorleys are a family of 4 who have left the UK behind to embark on a motorhome adventure around Europe...
Whilst the idea of leaving it all behind and embarking on a learning trip around Europe may seem to some extraordinary but I can safely say we are anything other than extraordinary. Just a stereotypical average 2:2 family in our trusty Adria Matrix motorhome. Both teachers (Catherine - Maths, Richard - PE) with two wonderfully energetic and entertaining young daughters (Lottie & Libby).
That said, a life lived in Suffolk and Yorkshire will never be the same again. As we’ve decided to spend time educating our own children, but in the most practical way possible, as we tour around Europe in our new motorhome for the year ahead. Actively learning by experiencing things at first hand.
Although relative newcomers to the lifestyle, we can safely say the people we have met along the way have enriched our experience and offered help at every turn… whether it be running out of gas in Spain or teaching us semaphore signing to aid squeezing into spaces at sites. A thriving community existed and all we had to do was take the plunge into motorhome ownership!
So with that thought in mind, we decided to pick a country and see how broad we could make the learning experience for our girls. A Sicilian learning adventure seemed to have a nice ring to it, and with that it was decided. Sicily, in mid March just as the spring flowers filled the meadows, a perfect place to both learn and have fun as a family! Fresh Air, Fun and Freedom!
So with 14 days to find and experience an adventure where better to start than by looking at the cultural crossroads that Sicily has been over the past 3,000 years… a hybrid Greek/Roman history that is amply shown by its choice of cuisine.. Both girls have their own blog and so bakery vlogs were the order of the day - a make your own Sicilian Pizza with only Sicilian ingredients harvested from the island or a Torta di Mela (apple cake!) drizzled with Sicilian lemon juice!
With stomachs full, our attentions turned to the geography of this island. The largest of the islands in the Mediterranean, it positively bristles with volcanic intent. Yet this in turn provides stunning valleys, fertile soil that was responsible for some amazing flora/fauna. But our intended target was Mt Etna and a chance to climb to the 3,000m summit! Perhaps taking home some lava as a souvenir and grab a PE lesson whilst we surveyed and discussed the geography needed to make this uniquely black environment.
Needing a vehicle to write down these experiences, both girls have been busy writing diaries, postcards home and playing on their ‘Word Chums’ app to ensure their English is kept up to date, whilst their Maths comes courtesy of Catherine’s daily morning lesson before being topped up by the superb ‘Doodle Maths’ app. What would we do without technology!
But this trip is more about life outside the motorhome, yet the ease with which we can pick a new site and move easily between the country is an amazing freedom in itself. Yet understanding the culture of other countries has certainly broadened our girl’s horizons, so we couldn’t pass up a trip to Syracuse to see where Archimedes / Plato gained their notoriety (even the shout of Eureka occurred in this beautiful walled town!) alongside it’s prominence as a politically equivalent city to Athens.
History is never far away from view in Sicily, whether it be Carthargian, Phoenician or Greek. Perhaps never better shown than in the Valley of the Temples at Agrigento, where numerous fully preserved temples provide a clue to how different generations lived and worshipped. So Religious Education can be ticked off the home schooling curriculum map too!
Cultural appreciation was found in the hillside town of Erice, with it’s numerous art museums whilst the Easter parade at Enna/Erice is something to behold with over 2,000 friars processing down the narrow cobbled streets.
So with only languages to add to the curriculum, it fell to the fantastic ‘Duolingo’ app to provide hours of educational entertainment as we enjoyed our nightly lesson in preparation of new phrases to test on unsuspecting shop owners.
Perhaps the best aspect of all to Sicily lay in their responses to our efforts at communication. The warm welcomes, ready smiles and hospitality of this island folk made this a very special educational adventure for us all. So it really is possible to map out a journey and enjoy time together as a family whilst offering educational opportunities. All at a cost that hasn’t been prohibitive as we traipse across Europe spending £71 a day!
Seefor more information on our adventure in our daily blogs