We can sense your bewilderment building up while you’re looking at our website, thinking ‘How the heck did these two weirdos end up together’? We do wonder how this happened ourselves sometimes because our story is as hard to believe as a cheesy Hollywood movie …
A real ‘Norn Iron’ Boy
On a sunny Northern Irish August afternoon, little baby Nigel was born in Belfast. He grew into a happy, if slightly awkward child who enjoyed his summer holidays caravaning in Donegal (Ireland’s northernmost and wildest county). He would go with his parents, sometimes his two older sisters but always with Minto, his beloved cuddly polar bear. As this young boy blossomed into a sensitive teenager, life in Belfast became increasingly challenging.
‘The Troubles’ had hit Northern Ireland. Empty city streets after 6pm except for the police and army patrols became the norm just as much as seemingly constant searches of his parents’ car on the way to Donegal and personal searches going into shops. Nigel also got used to regular bomb scares and occasional news reports of the real thing. He first became a dad in 1993 to daughter Rachel. When sons Christopher and Richard followed in 1995 and 1997, things finally began to change and peace eventually returned to his beautiful country.
Top two: The young man with the winning smile is Nigel (ca 1968). Baby Martha, a trendsetter in headwear, on her first ever holiday at the Baltic Sea (ca 1987). Bottom two: Our favourite childhood spots. Left: Nigel in County Donegal, sporting his finest short shorts and socks in sandals combo and a munchkin Martha in Prerow at the German Baltic
‘Jetsetter’ in the Making
As Nigel was shaking off the final traces of puberty, a baby girl with big brown eyes and very little blond hair was born somewhere in the middle of rural Germany. Martha had a small but tight knit family who ensured she had a sheltered, happy childhood. The first years of her life were spent in the country, surrounded by fields and animals, before moving to the nearby town.
This animal lover enjoyed holidays at the German Baltic Sea every year without fail. Though very much a home bird, Martha soon developed a curiosity for other countries and languages and left the nest at 18 to learn Spanish as an au pair on Gran Canaria. She studied international business and languages and at 21, she went to Sweden for 5 months for a summer job that would help her learn the language.
Martha graduating from High School (2004) at approximately the same age as a shy Nigel meeting Miss World in Belfast in 1981
Odd Couple in the Making
Nigel had meanwhile acquired a love for Sweden and spent many summer holidays travelling the country. And so it happened that when Nigel booked his Swedish accommodation that year, Martha was the one who processed his payment – yes, this is actually how we ‘met’! Due to Martha’s excellent customer service and Nigel’s winning sense of humour, we remained in touch and over the following years our relationship deepened. We met in person a few times in Leipzig, Germany and in London. And in 2009, Nigel finally lured Martha to Northern Ireland. He was a man on a mission, put her in his car and took her to places like beautiful Newcastle, County Down and the north coast of the island. By the time we arrived in the incredible neighbouring County Donegal, Nigel had closed the deal and Martha moved to Northern Ireland permanently in 2010.
On our first and second US roadtrip and at magical lake Sognsvann near Oslo
First Comes Love, then comes Marriage …
Rachel, Christopher and Richard made it easy to transition into this new life. We would go away every year with the two boys and also try to sneak away on our own occasionally. It soon became obvious that we were pretty good at being on holiday. Initially, we went to Portugal and Sweden, where we got engaged on a jetty in the Stockholm archipelago in 2014. There was one thing we had always wanted to do together before having children of our own: a good old American road trip. In 2013, we finally made it happen and travelled the Southwest of the US extensively in three weeks. By the time we returned home, one thing was crystal clear: beach holidays would no longer do. We had caught the road trip bug and somehow managed to return twice within a year.
Engagement Day on a jetty in Stockholm Archipelago and our Wedding on Central Beach, Coronado Island
A Honeymood Road Trip
We even got married on a beach in San Diego in 2015, just to have an excuse to come back 😉 Needless to say, our honeymoon was a road trip, too. As newlyweds, we now branched out into winter travel and fell in love with Norway on our trip to Oslo and the Norwegian Arctic.
We have now welcomed a new traveller to our team: Our son Jonas was born in January 2017 and by three months old he had already been on his first flight when he went to meet his German relations! He will no doubt change the way we travel, but we are lucky enough to have the beauty of Northern Ireland right on our doorstep.
Boarding completed: Jonas, our littlest traveller, joined us in January 2017