Saying goodbye to London…

Brazillian headdress

History of Surfing book

Reception room corner 2

We had many hopes for our year of world travel. We hoped for a slower pace of life. We hoped for more time with our kids. We hoped to learn more about our world and to return as changed people.

This week we arrived back in London. For thirteen years we have called this city home and have enjoyed living in a world capital that only seems to get better with each passing year. City life was demanding for sure, but it was also incredibly rewarding.

Rather than getting back into the swing of things and returning to routines, this week we will say goodbye to our home of thirteen years. Our year away has indeed changed us and pointed us in new directions. As much as we love London, we are eager for new adventures and new challenges. We can’t just slot back in where we left off. We couldn’t bring ourselves to re-enter the busy working world in London or to take back on the high expenses and demands that come with life in this big city. Most importantly though, the kids and Michael have fallen in love with surfing and have decided we need to live near the waves – a decision I very happily support. : )

Kitchen shelves

kitchen corner

dreamcatcher on wall

So we’ve spent the past few days organising our belongings, making plans for things left in storage and saying goodbye to dear friends. Though we are excited for what lies ahead, it hasn’t been easy to say goodbye to the city where all of our children were born and so many happy years were spent. We are leaving London for now, but we want it to remain part of our lives forever. To keep that connection we bought a small flat — not a home for six, but a small physical and emotional tie to a city we love. We hope to return to it each year and we imagine our kids living in it someday – maybe during university or for their careers. Michael and I even imagine time spent in retirement here. In between now and then, we will have a little place to call home, to visit old friends, to relive old times and to experience a dynamic city that will always captivate us. Just knowing we have somewhere here has enabled us to move on. In our minds, we are not leaving it all behind — a part of us, a part of our family history and future, will remain here and welcome us back each time we return.


kids' room

We’ve decorated the flat with treasures and trinkets collected during our travels — a dream catcher and feather headdress found in Brazil, handmade pottery from Chile, the ‘Birds of New Zealand’ poster we toted around in our camper van for 5 weeks, and the beautiful quilts and baskets we bought in Sri Lanka. It’s been so fun to unwrap packages sent from little post offices around the world and so nice to have reminders of a special year all in one place.

I’ve shared a few photos of our flat here. I thought it would be fun to show you some of the fun things we picked up during our travels. These special items are forever connected to a special time and place for all six of us. (You’ll also see the occasional basket or accessory I recently ordered from Indego Africa, a company I wrote about earlier this week.)

Very soon we will be off to the US to visit our families for the first time since last year. From there we will begin to lay the groundwork for our future home and future adventures. It’s too early to talk about now, but I can’t wait to fill you in soon. Until then, I wanted to say thanks for all of your support and encouragement over the past year!

Courtney x


Comments (65)

August 18, 2016

Wonderful choices for you and the children! Enjoy your continuing adventures! I for one am so excited to follow you and be inspired daily by your free spirits x

August 18, 2016

Such a beautiful post. I can’t imagine it is easy to leave but the future looks very exciting indeed 🙂 Congrats, Courtney! 🙂

August 18, 2016

How exciting! I have loved watching your family explore the world and very grateful you have shared these moments and ideas with so many people. A true inspiration. Good luck with the new venture x

August 18, 2016

we too are just about to move away from London – where I’ve lived for 11 years and my husband for 17. We are moving to California so while we’re not surfers now maybe we will be someday… it’s so bittersweet to leave, I love this city so much and have learned and grown and had our 2 children here and it just feels impossible not to commute home across Waterloo bridge at sunset ever again (maybe? who knows). But things move on, so do we, and I am really excited for this next chapter in our family’s life. but sad too. what a great adventure this city has been. Let us know if you’re listing your flat for short term rentals as we’ll definitely be coming back for visits and will be looking for places to stay!

Petra Lea
August 18, 2016

A beautifully written post – as always. I adore how you articulate yourself, Courtney. I would love to read that you will settle in Byron Bay – your photos were magical from there. Best wishes and enjoy the journey xx

Kate Prinsloo
August 18, 2016

Courtney, such a beautifully written post. Your sweet little flat looks absolutely perfect with all your travels to remind you of your year. I’m so over the moon for you and your new journeys ahead. Have fun at home, I can’t wait to see all your gorgeous pictures. Bon voyage!

August 18, 2016

Having just resettled across the world in our hometown after 10 years we overseas I can imagine your anticipation and excitement! Best wishes with this move! I don’t suppose your gorgeous apartment will be on Airbnb?!

August 18, 2016

Yes, it looks as though you can: https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/9736691

Beautifully decorated Courtney (as always)! Though I’m wondering, don’t you want to take these treasures with you to your new home?

August 19, 2016

It looks as though the flat has been rented out since 2015? Maybe you always knew you wanted to move from London? Looks great by the way!

August 19, 2016

@Vivienne: Thats’s awesome, thanks for the link! The flat is decorated beautifully! I’ll definitely put it on my wish list for future London holidays 😉

I do wonder though – and please don’t take it the wrong way, I don’t doubt at all that the flat is as well maintained and looks as great as it seems – but are the airbnb reviews legit? I used to trust them but seeing that the flat has reviews from 2015 when Courtney just bought it recently seems a bit … sketchy.

August 19, 2016

I do love Courtney’s Instagram but I feel that the whole “fly by the seat of our pants” vibe is slightly disingenuous. They’re a wealthy family who, I think, have their moves carefully planned. It’s a very wise financial move to purchase property in London. That said, the flat is beautiful and I wish them health and happiness wherever they’ve decided to settle.

August 25, 2016

I agree, everything is so very carefully planned and choreographed including the move to Australia. And good for them to be able to do all this! However, I do think that when Courtney espouses the virtues of year long travel and that everyone should, in her words, ‘just do it’ she is missing a very large point and that is the financial aspect of it all. Clearly selling her house was less about funding her year abroad and more about the fact she were moving abroad. She’s been able to have a year travelling with a family of six, buy a central London apartment and now presumably buy a new home overseas with no decline in standard of lifestyle. That is not to say it isn’t great and fun to watch but I do think a bit more honesty wouldn’t go amiss Courtney!

September 5, 2016

Never fear Cathi, I noticed the flat online sometime last year (with older photos) so the reviews are genuine!
Also, to everyone who is annoyed at Courtney for not telling us her whole life plan, give her a break. Sure, they may have bought this flat right after selling their house and never actually planned on living back in London but maybe they weren’t 100% sure on their future or hadn’t told family friends their plans so didn’t want to break the news til they knew what they were doing. Whatever their reasons, we should just be appreciative we’re able to follow along on the journey, Courtney doesn’t owe us anything and I just love being able to catch glimpses here and there of what Courtney is willing to share!

Kate Austin
August 18, 2016

What an amazing adventure you continue to have. We left London a few years ago. Reading your of your emotions and attachment to the busy grubby lovely London made me miss it even more. I admire your courage and energy to lead such an independent life for your family, the very best of luck.

Emma stanley
August 19, 2016

I agree, this reads like they bought a flat upon their return to London last week!! Looks like they bought it before they went or early days whilst travelling!! It’s been on airb&b for months!
Possibly they downsized to a flat when they originally sold up to ‘fund’ their travels, who knows!
I agree though, it was optimistic to slot back in the rat race & they are one LUCKY family to have the means for such opportunities; so grab it with both hands & run, I know I would!!

Shanze Ahmad
August 25, 2016

I think that is right- remember they sold a lot of their stuff and moved into a smaller space if i am not misremembering. Its not quite responsible or advisable to be ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ with 4 kids. I think its lovely how they haven’t got trapped by the desire to live a ‘go go go’ acquire more and more stuff mindset. its very easy to get sucked into- this isn’t a ‘jet setting’ family who’s off to monoco with 3 nannies minding the kiddies. there is a very large population of families just like this, it’s really inspiring. I know it has woken my husband and I up to the possibility of a gap year where we’d never have thought of even planning for one before because it seemed so impractical.

August 18, 2016

Love your beautiful flat! And so exciting to read about your adventures! I ordered a hat and basket from indego can’t wait to get them. I long to do the same, to pack up and pick up and go. One day. Ok the meantime I will just live vicariously through your family!! X

August 18, 2016

Must say, not a surprise though. Being practical, I wonder how early you knew you would be leaving London?! Before or during your year away. And husband’s job? Wishing we had the financial means and freedom to do the same sometimes! 🙂 We go were my husband’s job is…

August 18, 2016

Thank you for sharing about your family’s adventures! I very much look forward to following your future travels. And if you are looking for a lovely, live-able small-ish city by the sea (with surfing!), how about my fair city of Portland, Maine, USA? 🙂 Best wishes!!

August 18, 2016

Just reading this makes me tear up! I am so sure it is hard to leave such a wonderful city, I just cannot imagine the emotions you are all feeling. Onward and upward for more exciting adventures – can’t wait to see where you go next! Thank you so much for letting us all follow along – what a fun ride it has been!! Cheers to you all and safe travels!!

August 18, 2016

Australia I’m thinking!

August 18, 2016

All the best for the future to whole Adamo family!

August 18, 2016

Dear Courtney and your lovely family .. from the NL I followed your journey and it was a true joy to read your stories and all the beautiful photo’s. Wishing you the best of times ahead and please keep us posted … it’s a small gift for the ones living in ‘the routined life’ and therefore a great inspriration to think about the future. Groetjes Judith 😉

August 18, 2016

What an amazing adventure!!! I love your piano and wondered where it is from? X

August 18, 2016

Oh Courtney, how bittersweet it’s been reading this post! I’ve just closed one chapter in Paris and all those farewell feelings have emerged again with your words.

I follow your steps on IG and the blog since you were pregnant with Marlow – and I was 19 years old! – so I am really looking forward to seeing what’s next for you and your family.

Best wishes!! Maria, x

August 18, 2016

Best of luck to all of you! Your travels were so inspiring and I loved following along! Really looking forward to hearing about your next adventure.

August 18, 2016

Leaving a city is it’s own special kind of heartbreak. Thanks for sharing the pictures of your new flat with us. I can’t wait to hear where the Adamos land next. xx Jennifer

Catherine Bailly Dunne
August 18, 2016

Thank you for sharing your journey. I have loved hearing all about it. I hope you continue to write, as I am going to be a grandmother soon and Love reading all about your beautiful family. Living at the beach in Southern California, I understand the pull to these areas. All my best!

August 18, 2016

We have loved following your travels and from a family who also lives for the waves this is a favourite book of ours we we all love http://shop.jonasclaesson.com/collections/featured/products/the-surfing-animals-alphabet. I think your children would love it too xx

August 18, 2016

Best wishes from Spain!!

Emily in Texas
August 18, 2016

What a wonderful, wonderful way y’all have found to honor all that London and this past year have meant to your family! Can’t wait to hear more about the amazing adventures that lie ahead!!! So many good wishes for your sweet crew! Adventure on! Xx from TX

Dushinka daniel
August 18, 2016

How exciting!!!!! Good luck with the next chapter … Xxx

August 18, 2016

Hi Courtney, congratulations. I am always impressed how you and your family create new plans and organise so quickly. You have been out for 1 year, then you came but went out again and in just a couple of weeks you bought and fully decorate an apartment. Amazing! And congrats because the decoration is very nice and warm. I believe it will be difficult but I am going to keep my fingers crossed so you move to Portugal on your next life chapter. It’s my country so I am suspicious but if you are looking for great waves to surfing plus (as extra) good weather, nice people, tasty food and a safety place to rase your kids in the EC, Portugal is a fantastic choice. I look forward to hearing more news and follow you on your new adventure.

August 24, 2016

I was thinking the same!!! 🙂 Hopefully they will move to our beautiful country – Portugal – lots of good waves and sunshine, slow paced but modern, frequent flights to the US, London, Europe…. Anyway, beautiful post and the new move sounds exciting!

August 27, 2016

They bought the apartment before they left, for sure….. they were staying in it earlier in the year when they returned to London.

August 18, 2016

I have felt apart of your whole journey along the way and got emotional reading this post. Wish you all the best for the future and look forward to seeing where you land.

P.s will you been renting your flat out maybe through Kid and Coe?

August 18, 2016

Congratulations Courtney and the rest of the Adamo’s! Wishing you all the best as you take this leap. Can’t wait to read about it. From a mom of three in Seattle

August 18, 2016

My dream is to travel with my young family. We too have a lovely life in London however it does come with limitations a daddy that works long hours and a mummy that juggles it all. Did you read any books or would you contemplate writing a travel guide about your year away. I need to set achievable goals rather than just dreaming x

August 18, 2016

Bon vent à votre merveilleuse famille!

Hannah de la Grense
August 18, 2016

I so rarely comment on blogs or IGs but reading this has got me holding back tears; tears of sadness for the end to all the wonderful memories you made here in London and for the beautiful photos and posts you created that helped me to fall in love with my city all over again. But also tears of envy at your family’s total commitment to following your dreams and taking such unwavering leaps towards achieving what you know will make you happy; it is something I long to do for myself and my family but fear and risk aversion and, let’s be honest, finances, always seem to get in my way. Finally though, I have shed tears of absolute joy for you and Michael and the kids because quite clearly, after this year of travels and adventures and unrivalled landscapes, you were never going to be able to fit back fully into this chaotic, frenzied city. Good luck Courtney and Bon voyage! X

August 18, 2016

I have followed you on Instagram since I read about the beginning of your adventures in Red magazine! (We were on the opposite page in the article about different families) I have adored reading each post and seeing the pictures of your beautiful family! I hope your next stage of life is as exciting and forfilling

August 18, 2016

Wow, that must be bittersweet! Love to follow your adventures, thanks so much for sharing! All the best for you and your family!

Geraldine Young
August 18, 2016

Thank you Courtney & family for sharing your amazing lives with us! We are super excited to hear all about your new & exciting journey ahead.

London is truly a special place but home is where the heat ❤️ is and you will undoubtedly create an equally beautiful home for your family wherever you go. Safe & fun traveling.

August 18, 2016

London will miss you but we know your next chapter will be an amazing one! Good luck with the last of the goodbyes. It’s so inspiring that you and your whole family have made this decision to be bold & brave and do something new. Good things favour the bold! xx

August 18, 2016

What an amazing year you have had – and I had wondered as you have all loved the surf so much how you’d settle back into London – such a gorgeous city – but lacking the essential ingredients of sand, sun and surf!!!! Is Byron Bay calling you at all?!

August 18, 2016

You’re my favourite on my feeds ….on Instagram, all the best Courtney xx

Sandra robinson
August 18, 2016

We did much the same adventure as yourselves with our kids then aged 6,7,8 .. We planned to stay away for 1 year but eventually came home again after 9years. We had the most amazing time. We have our own chalet business in beautiful Austria. The kids all learnt the language & went to the local school… Best experience of our lives. Unfortunatly my father took I’ll and my mother needed help at home so we moved back to not so sunny Ireland . We thought we could run the business from Ireland but have now decided to sell. It really was the dream job between skiing in the winter & the beautiful lake of Zell am see in the summer. ( best job in the world)…When I read about your mini adventures it reminds me of my family. The best of luck to you all in the future. Sandra …Dorfchalets kaprun Austtia.

Sara Rocha
August 18, 2016

What a nice way to leave London! I still live here with my family but always say, when we leave, we need to buy a studio and come back every year for a ‘wash of culture’. Wish you all the best and of course I will be following you & lovely family. 👍🏻

Emilie in Paris
August 18, 2016

We sure are going to miss you!!! But cannot wait to come visit wherever you land 😉 xxx

Andrea Ramalhosa
August 18, 2016

Wishing all the best to your family! I hope you come to Portugal, would be a great choice

August 18, 2016

Dear Courtney, I have loved following your travels and wish you all a wonderful and exciting next chapter. Looking forward to more of your beautiful photos and seeing where in our world your next adventure will be. X

Paula from Uruguay
August 19, 2016

I loved all your post and Photos in instagram. I admire your courage in taking desicion. I wish you the best!

August 19, 2016

Travel safely, rest well and all the best on your new adventures…

August 19, 2016

Best of luck to you and your family on the next chapter – only move forward …..well thanks for sharing your life in London and making it look so beautiful . I look forward to hearing about the next chapter….well done for living bravely

Lara in Paris
August 19, 2016

How exciting! Best of luck in this new chapter of your lives! xx

August 19, 2016

Hi Courtney, the flat is beautiful and despite you and your husband’s quaint hippy vibes, this is a shrewd move snapping up property! I can’t wait to see your new home xx

August 20, 2016

Watching you follow your dreams has been a total inspiration to me. We all the ability to live the life we want, we just have to find the way. I wish all the very best for the next chapter of your adventure and shall very much enjoy watching/reading about it.

August 20, 2016

Hi Courtney
A very heartwarming post, which totally resignates with me too. It’s been wonderful following your journey of discovery..seeing the children thrive and grow during your year away. What a brave and bold decision you’ve all made. So courageous of you..utterly inspiring. Both my husband and I have grown up in London, and are now bringing up our two sons in the city we call home. However we often long to make changes and its other people’s stories that bring us ever closer to making it a reality. I’m very much looking forward to following your adventures further and who knows, maybe our paths will cross another day…somewhere by the sea, while our boys surf to their hearts content.
Wishing you and your little tribe safe travels and lots of calmness and peace in your hearts for further big decisions you make.
Laura xxx (Instagram: @that_laura_smile)

August 20, 2016

Where did you get that beautiful kettle?

August 21, 2016

Everything you’re doing is incredibly inspiring and brave. Continue to cherish your family and your lives and don’t ever give in to doubt or judgement from others. This is your life for the taking and you’ve done just that. As a teacher with two young daughters all way in New Hampshire, I’m so proud of you and grateful for your perspective. btw, get the girls on boards as well, as a female surfer there is quite a sense of power that comes from channeling the ocean’s strength.

August 23, 2016

Beautiful Courtney and beautiful family. I have been following you from Spain the past two years and all I can say is thank you! Thank you for sharing your amazing lives and travels with us. All the best for the future and good luck with your new adventures!!

Vicky in Amsterdam
September 3, 2016

What a beautiful home you will have awaiting you each time you return to London! Much love to you all as you create your next special place to call home xx

September 9, 2016

Do you mean you leased the flat? You can’t really buy flats in London – very rarely are flats available for freehold purchase. If it is a freehold, how did you find it? Very curious as I’ve been looking into investing in property in the UK and have pretty much excluded the possibility of buying in London because I’m not interested in leaseholds… any info appreciated!

January 30, 2017

Hi Vivien – I think you may have been misinformed as it’s not that hard to buy flats in London (buying a freehold flat versus the leasehold on one). I guess my suggestion would be to talk to an agent who could help you find one – but it’s not very difficult or unusual so don’t be put off!

December 2, 2016

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