Another awesome Expat Catch Down Under!!

Catch logo

Shopping has been known to drive me nutty, especially when I can’t find what I want! It’s always hard when you move to a new country and you aren’t sure of the best places to buy the things you like and the brands you’re used to. Not knowing where to look for baby products and kid’s clothes, or your favourite beauty item that you just can’t seem to get your hands on anywhere, can be frustrating to say the least.

I had this exact problem, until fairly recently. A friend of mine emailed me to tell me she had been online shopping and had got her hands on a stash of new bedding for a huge saving!! I logged on immediately… I’d discovered Catch.com and let me tell you, it has almost changed my life. I’m not sure the Mr is as pleased as me, although he will be when he sees his Christmas prezzies!

 

Catch.com is one of those websites that you could absolutely lose yourself in, because it literally is a one stop shop for everything from Tech to Toys and Baby to Beauty. Be careful!! It has so many things that will catch your eye, and plenty of things you probably don’t need right this minute but must buy because you won’t get a deal this good again!

I am currently keeping my eyes open and lap top on, waiting to catch some bargains for Christmas. I love online shopping this time of year, it saves me having to find the time to go without the children, it saves me money as I’m not dashing about in a mad panic, and it certainly saves my stress levels from bubbling over! I’m especially in love with the entire section on gifts under $20… Perfect for stocking fillers!! Happy mum right here!

Catch.com has everything we could need for Christmas, and our Expat life Down Under. I’ve just found an awesome Kayak which I know we’ll all love using over the summer. **I warned you that you’d be purchasing things you didn’t think you needed!!!

Pretty sure this is the only place that Santa shops, so check out Catch.com, search the deals, get the Christmas shopping out of the way and treat yourself to a bargain for being so damn organised!! You can thank me later!!

Olivia xx

 

 

Sweet Expo – Good things come to those who bake….

 

Sweet Expo was in Melbourne this weekend, and we hit the Showgrounds to see just what sweetness they had in store for everyone. I am a terrible baker, I would love to be good, but no matter how hard I try I seem to fail! I have a real passion for buying the tools, the colours, the glitters; I want it all…. sadly they’re wasted on me….  Poppy our sweet as sugar girl was straight in the gate and ready to taste anything she could get her hands on, whilst I was more about the 6Ft6 Prosecco slushies, and the demonstrations. Mad About Colour had some spectacular glittery delights that caught my eye as we began to wander!!

 

 

Sweet Expo was filled with small local businesses who set up stalls with everything from cake decorating tools, kitchen gadgets, specialty ingredients, party and celebration products and everything in-between! For all you party people this is a show that you don’t want to miss when it returns next year.

The Wilsons Top Stalls

Oregano Bakery

To turn the corner and spot our much loved Oregano Bakery that we miss so dearly from our Sydney days, made my heart skip a beat. Originally creating Lebanese Pizza they are now insanely famous for the Scroll!!! These aren’t just any Scroll, they are top notch Scrolls, with all sorts of delicious fillings, made with love.*Think OMG most delicious dough with even more delicious toppings.. Say Whaaaat???

Rhyley Design

Natalie’s stall was a joy to look at! I was instantly drawn to her shiny dangly earrings, and couldn’t help throwing my money at her! She cleverly creates gifts that she hopes will make a difference to someone’s day and put a smile on their face. Check her out!!!

Two Little Tarts

Popcorn!!! By that I mean Caramel & Sea Salt Popcorn that you want to grab handfuls of and rub all over your face…. You have never eaten anything like this, or their unbelievable Honeycomb and as if that isn’t good enough, it’s all made with locally sourced ingredients… Don’t take my word for it… Order some…

LyndalT

Beautifully designed Fine China Tea Cups made in an XL size for tea lovers who just can’t get enough tea. There were so many beautiful colours, and prints. Lyndal also sells side plates, teapots, glassware and pretty cake stands too!

Make A Wish

Cake decorating for the kids was really fun. $5 to decorate your own little cupcake and all the money goes toward this wonderful charity.

Love Lombard

These people know how to party… And they know how to create a party! They were showing off their fabulous confetti filled balloons which we loved. Huge balloons make such a statement!! Lombard claim to have the largest range of party supplies in the Universe, how awesome is that!


 

We loved watching the demonstrations, seeing how fondant roses were created in seconds, and adored all the tasters. We didn’t have time for High Tea but it looked amazing; there were masterclasses for the experts amongst us and plenty of savoury delights for those who were less sweet toothed.

‘Strong willpower is essential at the Sweet Expo!!’

By the time we left we had full tummies, and bags of great tips for creating our own masterpieces at home… Not sure you’ll see my own personal creations on Instagram but hey, I have definitely been inspired to try a little harder at the next birthday party!!! Here’s to becoming a great home baker!!!!

Look out for Sweet Expo next year, and wear something stretchy!!!


The Wilson’s Reviews…..

★★★★★ “OH MY GOODNESS MUM, WHAT IS THIS PLACE? CAN WE LIVE HERE??” POPPY- SWEETIE PIE, WILSONS OF OZ

★★★★ “WHAT A SWEET START TO MY HOLIDAY IN MELBOURNE?” – GRANNY- WILSONS OF OZ

★★★★ “PLEASE GOD LET ME REMEMBER THESE TIPS FOR THE NEXT KIDS PARTY…” – MRS W – WORST MUM BAKER EVER – WILSONS OF OZ

 

It’s my home, it’s my city & I love it!!

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Tulip Coffee – Degraves Street

I’m currently sitting in a beautiful coffee shop in the lanes of Melbourne, sipping a Long Black and wondering what I used to do on Friday afternoons before we ended up here.. Melbourne is the most magical city. Just meandering through the laneways is enough to make me grateful for being alive. It’s that kind of place! It really does make my heart skip a beat! People everywhere; sightseers, office workers, artists, musicians, shop owners, even bloggers like me, immersed in their surroundings and getting all sorts of inspiration from the bustle around them. It’s hard not to be inspired here. There is just so much to love about this city; my city!

We’re fast approaching the end of another year ‘Down Under’ and there don’t seem to be any signs that we may be adventuring off to pastures new just yet.. Thank goodness. I am amazed at all the things we’ve squeezed in to our first year in Melbourne, and there’s still so much to explore.  I’m so full of love for how this city has become home to us so quickly!  I never would have imagined a few years ago that we would be here, doing this, and absolutely loving every minute!!

It seems like a lifetime ago we hopped off that plane in Sydney, to see what Australia had to offer. To dip our toes in the clear blue waters of the world famous Bondi Beach. The memories feel like a scene from a black and white movie.. Mr W, whisking us off to explore a warm and distant land. If it had been on the silver screen,  I’d have been played by Olivia De Havilland (Obvs), and Mr.W played by Humphrey Bogart! We’d arrive in the Southern Hemisphere, embrace each other at the bottom of the plane steps, and get chauffeured off to our glamorous new abode in Sydney Harbour.

In reality it was nothing like that!

Monty had spent the first 12 hours of the journey vomiting into supermarket carrier bags that I had cleverly stashed in my hand-luggage. Poppy spent 24 hours watching re runs of Peppa Pig, and I sobbed most of the way! By the time we landed in Sydney, we looked more like the Aadams Family than glamorous 1940’s movie stars. Hello Australia, we’ve arrived, and NO we’re not staying for long, I left my besties crying at Heathrow!!!

Now almost three years on from the landing, and…. wait for it… (*Mum grab a hankie)… I’m not sure I could….. go back……

I know, I know, it sounds a little ‘out there’! *All my friends are currently deleting my blog from their newsfeed, muttering “I told her she’d not be back”… Mum is sobbing into her cup of tea, and for some reason, I don’t feel too terrible… In fact, I feel relieved to have finally put it out there.

That’s not to say I don’t yearn for my girl crew, and I don’t miss lots of things about the UK; it’s just that Australia, well Melbourne.. oh gosh I’m so sorry…is home now….

It had to happen eventually. There had to come a time when we all started to think of Australia as “home”.  Expat’s all over the world; since being an expat was even a thing, have always struggled with knowing where home really is. I’m sure people stop themselves calling their host country ‘home’, so as not to upset Aunty Brenda, or to keep hold of friends who have promised to disown them if they don’t return!!! The pressure to have just one home, and not love anywhere else as much.. or dare I say it.. MORE, is too much to handle. It’s a strange feeling, as if I’m letting the whole of the UK down, by saying “thanks anyway, but I think we’ll stay put”. I’m sure that’s what makes my stomach churn and mimic homesickness. It’s possibly not that I’m missing the chips and gravy with mushy peas, or the local pub with the log fire, it’s the terror that I’ll be cast aside and never welcomed home with open arms again! I’m a traitor, fair and square!!

We never came here with the intention of staying forever, but you can’t help but build a life for yourselves, and your children. You can’t help but make friends; close friends. You can’t help but join clubs, get jobs, volunteer, join the school committee, find a local pub, join sports teams, become part of a community… You can’t help but make a new life, and somehow that’s what we’ve done. (And no, I still don’t resemble Olivia de Havilland)

We came here for four years, and now with only 14 months left on our visa, I am truly panicking about what will become of us all if we do have to leave our…. ‘home’??

The UK isn’t our home any more. Is it?? We left a life behind, and have created something different, something new, something exciting, something we’re certainly not ready to let go of.

I think what I’m trying to say is, no matter what we do, or where we go, we will always be in a position where we’re living without something or someone. And without doubt, in this crazy ‘expat’ life, we just have to go with the flow; think about what we really, really want, and as selfish as it sounds not give anyone else a second thought! We have one life, one chance at getting it right and only we know ‘where‘ we’re happy! For The Wilson’s, now… dare I say it….? I think we’re home.

“The most beautiful things in life are not things. They’re people, and places, and memories, and pictures. They’re feelings and moments and smiles and laughter” – Unknown

Olivia xx

 

 

Lantern Ghost Tours – Melbourne

lantern GT

The chance of getting Mr W to join me on a ghost tour was pretty remote. Not only is he a huge sceptic but he tends to poo poo all things ‘spooktastic’. I left it to the last minute and then told him where we were going!! I got him to Federation Square for 8:30 and it turns out he really enjoyed our night… and he felt a few chills too…Shhhhh!

We met our guide Chloe at the ‘Information Point’ opposite the iconic Flinders Street Station, there was a huge group of us but we were on our way, dead on time.. (no pun intended!)

The tour was a 2km walking tour of the city of Melbourne, the weather was perfect and the trams and party goers were out in force! They absolutely did not distract us from Chloe’s magical way of story telling, we were all hanging on her every word.

Melbourne’s history is fascinating, the Gold Rush brought so much good, and with it, so much evil to Melbourne.  The Lantern Ghost Tour was as much a history lesson as it was an insight into the gruesome goings on in times gone by. We learnt of people like Baron Swanson also known as Frederik Deeming (possibly Jack the Ripper) , Frederick Federici and the Prima Donna Nellie Melba. We heard the tragic tale of a little Alma, who was found murdered in the old “Gun Alley”, and her suspected murderer Colin Campbell Ross who after 86 years has been pardoned thanks to modern DNA investigations.

‘Journey back to old Melbourne, a time when the spices of China Town masked the smoke of  the opium dens, poor houses supplied bodies in the name of advancing medical science and famous opera singer Federici gave his most dramatic performance, plummeting to death in front of his audience.’

Chloe let us know when we were heading for a particular place that has attracted lots of ‘spiritual energy’ on previous tours.  People have been known to faint, feel pain in their heads and the incredibly bright lights in Gun Alley (now known as Pink Alley) have flickered with little Alma’s ghostly presence. We all watched on as Chloe used divining rods to try and contact Alma, and ask her a few questions. Sadly the group didn’t seem too keen on coming forward and having a go themselves; maybe we were all a little too worried, as there was definitely a strange atmosphere at that point in the tour.

We wound our way through the many streets, listening to tales in mysterious alley ways, and alongside the famous Melbourne Club, the Hotel Windsor, Princess Theatre and Parliament House. It seemed like we had left no spooky stone unturned.

Chloe ended our tour in Cohen Place in the centre of China Town where we all stood as a group under the circle of lights to purify ourselves and rid ourselves of any spirits who may have latched on to us whilst we were treading their paths.

The stories were enthralling, the city was magnificent and the goosebumps were real.

A Lantern Ghost Tour is a great way to learn about a city, to see parts of it you would not ordinarily see and to get a real feel for a time long gone.

I must say, I was glad to be hopping on a tram, with the bright city lights guiding our way, knowing we weren’t going to be crossing paths with any grave robbing, body snatchers.

Gosh, thank goodness for our relatively safe and somewhat boring existence in 2017!


All the info 

Whatever you’re looking for, even if you haven’t decided the list of incredible tours is here!!  Choose a stroll around the city, or for the ‘super brave’ a night in one of Australia’s most haunted prisons!

Cost – Prices start at $29 and go up to $184 for overnight paranormal investigations.

Age – 12+

Location – Sites are located across Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland! 

ContactTelephone – 1300 390 119 Message Lantern Ghost ToursHere

You can find Lantern Ghost Tours on FacebookInstagram – YouTubePinterest – and Twitter Hurry along and Check them out!

 

 

X-Pat Files – The Millers- Saltburn to Perth

Natalie, a mum of 2 boys (aged 10 & 6), originally from the North of England moved to Perth in 2015. They are truly living the “Aussie Dream”… This is an example of how to live the “Expat Life” to the max”

Our Australian dream began in 2004. My whole family had travelled to and fallen in love with Perth after each of them visited my Aunt. At first I was against emigrating, but once I’d finished my adult nursing diploma, Dave and I visited and fell in love with the place. We quickly applied for our working visa and AHPRA.

Even once we were married and had children, our Aussie dream never left us. Every few months we’d hold an ‘Aus meeting’ in my kitchen in the U.K with my sister and brother in law to discuss pros and cons. We were often persuaded to stay.

In 2010 whilst pregnant with Seth, my brother died. It shook the family to the core and from then any mention of Australia was quickly pushed aside. Over the years I had gained other nursing qualifications and in 2012 I joined the Health Visiting team and went on to do my HV degree. Throughout my training I kept saying to Dave ‘once this is done we are going for it’.

Time was passing, and I was aware we were getting older and soon our Perth dreams would not even be an option due to age. I started researching jobs and sending my CV out. My Aunt in Perth took my CV to the local child health clinics and soon I was offered a job. I reactivated my AHPRA and booked my IELTS.

I sat my IELTS in Feb 2014 and lodged our 189 visa. We said this time we were getting PR for the boys security. We joined various ‘poms’ pages and started to make connections. Every waking minute I thought or talked about the move, it became an obsession. The only fear I had was that it was not going to happen. We moved into my parents to save.

All the paperwork was ready in August 2014. We lodged the visa on the 15th August, medicals 23rd August and the visa was granted 18th November 2014.

The morning we got the emails I actually thought I was going to explode. I put a ‘We Are Moving’ post on Facebook and everyone was in disbelief. I was desperate to get to Perth and I booked our flights 5 days before we were granted as a cheap flight came up. The move cube was booked for new year’s eve.

The goodbyes were emotionally draining; I couldn’t cry as I was so excited to leave, however the guilt was soul destroying.  I used to think we weren’t brave,  but on reflection we really were. You can’t be brave without fear, and the emigration process holds lots of fears. The kids took it in their stride and for this I’m grateful. Our family threw us a surprise leaving party which was one of the best nights of my life.

‘I kept telling myself that night that by saying our goodbyes we were opening up the opportunity for many hellos.’

We left the snowy North East of England for a 40 degree Perth summer.  I started work 5 days after landing which was hard, but we had no choice. Our family here gave us an awesome welcome and I feel so grateful to have my Aunt, Uncle and cousins here.

We’re building in the North of Perth at the moment but love it down South too so will be saving for a holiday home! Haha!

‘Explore all areas, and keep an open mind. The same applies to job hunting too’

My sister, and her family arrived in July 2015 followed by my Mum and Dad 2 weeks later. Having the whole family together is amazing, especially for the boys. My sister is building her home next door but 1, and Mum and Dad bought their home after being here a couple of weeks.

When we first moved I struggled with anxiety as I felt I lost my identity. The time difference was hard for speaking to people at home, but over time you make new connections and social networks.

‘Try not to force new friendships, let it happen naturally’

Nearly 3 years in and life is a dream come true. We have had our fair share of drama, but we work hard and play even harder. We travel a lot and cross off everywhere we go on a map; petrol is cheap and if you’re willing to get out there then Perth is an explorer’s paradise with the most amazing beaches and sunsets you will find.  We love our patch of paradise.

‘Our only regret is not making the move to Australia sooner, don’t wish it, do it’.

We miss our friends and family but have no plans to go back on holiday as there’s too much to do over here. Our next trips will be in Australia, NZ, and Asia. We love road trips and getting out and about, and we’re in the perfect place to make the most of that!

I hope this blog helps some of you who may be new to ‘expat life’, or about to make the decision to move away from home!!  We had so much help from blogs, I can’t believe I’ve written one myself!!

Millers 3

Thank you so much Natalie.. What a great story of encouragement for all those looking to make the big move!  Olivia xxx

 

If you think you have a great “Expat” story to tell, contact me olivia@thewilsonsofoz.com and you may see yourself on here too!!!

I like Big Trucks And I Cannot Lie!! Monster Jam 2017 – Australia

Having never been to anything even remotely “Monster Truck” we investigated what we could expect by trawling through YouTube videos. What a spectacle this promised to be.. We were pretty excited to be heading to AAMI Park to see the transformation of the soccer pitch and really see what all the hype was about!!!

MJ Logo

The stadium was filled with “super fans”… They all looked and sounded like they knew exactly what was going on, who was who, and what was what! The atmosphere was electric, our hearts were bursting…

‘The 3.5 meter tall, 5 ton machines will bring you to your feet, racing and ripping up a custom-designed track full of obstacles to soar over or smash through! Monster Jam provides quality entertainment tailored perfectly for your family’s budget, and these colourful, larger-than-life beasts are sure to capture the hearts of both young and old’

The trucks stormed out onto the dirt track, to pumping music, and fireworks. People were on their feet, waving flags, and screaming!! Time trials began and created mayhem in the seats, the kids were going nuts!   “Who’s gonna win mum?” was shrieked many times over the incredible sound of the revving engines. The noise was unbelievable… You could feel it right inside your chest!

The trucks were as enormous as the sound coming out of them, and to see them gliding through the air and flipping upside down was like nothing we have ever experienced. Honestly, who knew the Wilson’s would become Monster Truck super fans?

Monster Jam 2
Photo Courtesy of KidTown Melbourne 

The whole show is electrifying; the trucks, the motorbike stunts, the commentary, the crashes, the flips, the fireworks; they all made Saturday a night to remember!

The tour is heading to Sydney next, so all you Sydney siders look out. Arrive early for some photos with the trucks, and to get some autographs! Grab your ear defenders, a wallet full of cash, research your trucks and charge up your phone so you can score your favourite trucks online right there in your seat! (info at the stadium)

Kidtown melboure MJ
The KidTown Melbourne Crew enjoying the truck display! Megalodon was pretty awesome!!

Another awesome Expat Adventure Down Under!!

Olivia x

 


The Wilson’s Reviews…..

★★★★★ “I LOOOOOOVED IT, ESPECIALLY WONDER WOMAN AND THE MOTORBIKES!” POPPY- HEAD NOISE MAKER, WILSONS OF OZ

★★★★★ “CAN WE GO AGAIN, AND BUY A T-SHIRT, AND A SLUSHIE?” MONTY – DIRECTOR OF ENTERTAINMENT, WILSONS OF OZ

★★★★ “THE MOST EXHILARATING SHOW I HAVE BEEN TO IN A LONG TIME” – MRS W – NEWEST MONSTER TRUCK FAN – WILSONS OF OZ

★★★★★ “WOW, I WANT ONE” – MR W – POTENTIAL MONSTER TRUCK PURCHASER, WILSONS OF OZ


All the info

Next stop Sydney – Saturday 21st October Tickets here

“All the access and fun begins with the world famous Monster Jam Party in the Pits where fans can get up close to the superstars of the show, take pictures with the Monster Jam Trucks, get autographs with the drivers & more!”

The truck and driver details so you’re ready for action!

Featuring: Australia’s very first Monster Jam University® trained female Monster Jam® driver – Rhianna Buchanan in Wonder Woman, Grave Digger (Adam Anderson), Max-D (Neil Elliott), Dragon (Jon Zimmer), Blue Thunder (Randy Brown in Melbourne and Sydney and Chad Fortune in Brisbane), El Toro Loco (Marc McDonald), Monster Mutt Dalmatian (Candice Jolly), Monster Energy (Todd LeDuc), Megalodon (Alex Blackwell), EarthShaker (Bari Mussawir). Truck/driver lineup subject to change.

 

“Holidaying” in Melbourne with Kids

For anyone looking to come to Melbourne on holiday with the kids, this is the article for you! Amanda from Entertain My Tribe has listed her top “sees” whilst visiting the most liveable city in the world!


Melbourne has always been one of our favourite places to visit. The restaurants, the trendy cafes, the laneways with street art, the shopping – we love Melbourne. But taking the kids for a family holiday to Melbourne was certainly a different experience. The kids loved Melbourne just as much as their folks do! If you’re thinking of a trip to Melbourne – here’s the highlights from our visit.

Royal Melbourne Show

If you’re thinking of visiting Melbourne – the spring school holidays are a fab time to go with events like the Royal Melbourne Show taking place. We’ve been to our fair share of shows and showgrounds and we have to say this show was absolutely excellent! We went to Flinders St Station and bought a Myki pass which got us around on the trains and trams the whole week. We were able to board a train that went straight to Showground Station and the absolutely amazing part was we didn’t have to walk far to find the entrance to the show – it was right there on the platform!

We quickly made our way to the Entertainment Precinct where we watched Hi-5 perform and then had a meet and greet with them after the show. In this area we found rides, the Family Fun Pavilion and the Woolworths Fresh Food Pavilion. We ventured down to the farmyard area and played some side shows along the way. The kids loved patting the baby goats and lambs wandering around the farmyard nursery.

Of course we had to grab some showbags and then we caught a live motorbike show in the main arena before heading back to the train.

Brighton Beach and St Kilda Esplanade

We really wanted to visit the iconic Brighton Beach bathing boxes and loved spending some time walking along the beach, collecting shells and posing for photos in front of our favourite boxes. The bathing boxes are all painted and decorated in different colours and themes which the kids found delightful.

We caught a train to Middle Brighton station and walked a few blocks down to the beach to check them out. We walked back to Brighton Beach station and hopped off at Balaclava where we navigated our way to a tram that dropped us off at St Kilda esplanade.

St Kilda has markets all along the esplanade on a Sunday so this trip could be best done on a Sunday. If you pack a towel and swimmers it’s a great spot for a dig in the sand. We grabbed lunch on the esplanade at Republica which had a delicious menu and a great kids menu too.

We finished off with a couple of rides at Luna Park and then jumped on a tram that took us straight back to Flinders Street.

Werribee Open Range Zoo

This was high on our list of places to visit with the tribe and it didn’t disappoint! As soon as we arrived at the zoo we found the Safari Station and jumped on board the safari bus to see the animals out roaming around the grounds. We saw so many animals from hippopotamus’, to rhinoceros, zebras, giraffes, camels, buffalo and antelope. We got to get up close to the animals and watch them from the safety of the open air bus which was a fantastic experience.

We enjoyed wandering around the rest of the zoo to see all of the animals, but what made it really great was every area had interactive areas for the kids to stop and play. At the cheetah enclosure they got to draw cheetahs on the chalkboard and see how fast a cheetah can run. At the monkey enclosure they got to be monkeys themselves and swing on the ropes. There was a great playground and some huts to either sit and eat lunch or just play right outside the Australian animals section of the zoo. The best part about visiting Werribee Open Range Zoo was in the school holidays – kids are free making it a really affordable day out for the tribe.

Mornington Peninsula and Royal Botanic Gardens

We decided to hire a car and go somewhere a little further out of Melbourne and for us it was an easy choice – a day trip to the Mornington Peninsula. We drove into Mornington and came across Mornington Park right on the foreshore and much to our tribe’s delight – it was a pirate ship park. This lovely park was a great place to stretch our legs and get some fresh air before a walk along the beach where we discovered some more cute bathing boxes.

We had a delish brunch at Boyz 4 Breakie which was tribe friendly with colouring booklets ready for us as soon as we found a table.

After we’d explored Mornington we decided to head to the Royal Botanic Gardens in Cranbourne which was about half way between Melbourne and Mornington. We walked to the Woodlands Picnic area which has a great kids park. You could have easily enjoyed a longer day at the Botanic Gardens with lots of interesting walks and exhibits happening.

We had a fantastic time in Melbourne with the kids and loved navigating our way around on the trams to see more of the city.


This article was originally posted on Entertain My Tribe, and has been reposted with permission. 

 

Expat life when ‘The Parents’ arrive!!!

When your parents announce excitedly that they’re coming to stay, your heart obviously skips a beat! We miss my parents dearly, and really look forward to them visiting. The children are so excited and we’re all looking forward to sharing our new life in Melbourne with them. We get to show them around, send them off on their own adventures, book experiences for them, and show them how best to see what Australia has to offer.

Mum and Dad are coming for ten weeks… Yup, ten weeks….  Ten weeks of 6 people in the house!! My skipping heart turns into a racing heart, racing dangerously fast, so fast in fact that I think it may have turned into palpitations. Where’s the gin?

We’re on countdown… we have a little less than 6 weeks until the folks arrive in Melbourne!! The countdown is a happy one, but I feel like I have so much to do in preparation…. The children’s table manners being the main priority!!!

 

 

My parents live a very serene existence on the coast in sleepy South Wales. Typical retirees, they do whatever they want, whenever they want. They eat what they want, snooze when they want and sit in relative silence most of the day reading newspapers and watching tennis, interspersed perhaps with a trip to M&S for a coffee and a mooch. (Well, that’s what I imagine they do..) So, coming here, throwing themselves into the Wilson’s chaotic life, is bound to be a shock to the system. I am however, determined to make it as serene and “holiday” like for them both… for us all…..

The best thing us ‘expats’ can do before guests arrive is plan how it’s going to work; how we’re all going to get along, being thrown together under one roof for an extended period of time.. (I’m sweating again).  I’ve created space for Mum and Dad to use to get some peace and quiet when they need it. They will have their own lounge upstairs, the main bedroom with an en-suite and a dressing room; thinking about it, they could have all their meals served up there too! *Kidding, can’t wait to see you guys!!! 

We’ll share boring tasks like grocery shopping and chores; but most importantly we will share time, and we’ll share the children. The children will love having someone else to watch their dancing, and to read them stories over and over again. They’ll be thrilled to have someone to play board games with, and give them their undivided attention. To have their grandparents drop them off at school and be there to pick them up when the bell rings will be such a treat. They’ll all enjoy those special play times, bath times, and days out that we miss out on being so far apart. It’s not often we get to share family meals, make memories, and be together on Christmas day, but are just a few of the things that make this expat life so worth while; and what goes toward making “expat family” time that little bit more special.

Zoo trip
Taronga Zoo Trip last visit

Life is short, we live squillions of miles apart, and we long for the free babysitters to arrive… I mean…… to have this quality time together; it just needs to be planned properly so as we can all make the most of it…. I am determined to make this summer as harmonious as possible for everyone; I’m also determined never to utter the words “when you’re under my roof!!!”

As long as the kids bloody behave we’ll be ok!!! Wish me luck!!

Olivia xx

What children need most are the essentials that grandparents provide in abundance. They give unconditional love, kindness, patience, humour, comfort, lessons in life. And, most importantly…. cookies!! – Rudy Giuliani


What have we planned so far? 

Bay Fish N Trips – We have booked a Casual Charter for ‘Grandad,’ departing from the Mornington Peninsula.

Weekday – TRIP TIME 10:00 AM TO 3:00 PM (5 HRS) – BBQ included. Adult $85 Senior/Student $80 Child $75 (14 years & under)

Trip to Tasmania – The folks will grab fairly cheap flights over to Hobart with Jetstar (around $350 total).

The famous Melbourne Star  is always on the list for visitors, as is the incredible Eureka Sky Deck  where you get the most wonderful view of the whole of Melbourne!

After reading Miss Morni Penni’s blog post about the Red Gum BBQ we will definitely be heading over there for a feast at some point.

High Tea at the Westin looks amazing and something I am desperate to treat mum to!

I may use the “free babysitters” and head out alone on the Chocolate, Queen Victoria Market, Donuts and Coffee Walking Tour, Unless M+D are really well behaved and then I might let them come…

Anyone with more ideas or tips on places to take the folks, let me know!! We have a good few weeks to fill…

 

 

 

 

X-Pat Files – The moment you realise your kids are Australian now…

It was always going to happen, but it was much quicker than I expected; after only a few short months in Melbourne, I started to notice that my eldest son (then aged 3) was starting to sound different. His cute little cockney accent (he was born in London) was starting to sound distinctly Aussie. It was a sure sign that he was adapting to his new home. Which is great! But I wasn’t ready for it just yet. We were still new here, we might not even stay!

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Collingwood’s newest fan!!

It’s one of the questions family and friends often ask on the phone; “have the kids got an Aussie accent yet?” And me, in denial, I would say no; but I knew I was lying. Then a few weeks ago, I couldn’t lie anymore. I was on the phone to one of my oldest friends. She has known my son since he was born, so when he asked to say hello I thought nothing of handing him the phone for a quick chat. But when he returned the phone to me she came right out with it: “Oh my God, he’s Australian” she said. “He sounds so different”. And just like that, the game was up.

I was struck by the surprise, almost sadness, in her voice. She didn’t recognize him. And right there and then it dawned on me that my kids are Australian now. Of course, it’s not just the sound of their voices that will make them Australian, but it will be one of the first things that identifies them as such. If any proof were needed that kids are adaptable, moving to another country shows just how quickly they learn and adjust to their surroundings.

Coming to Australia it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of thinking that it will be just like home, with better weather. But, of course, it’s not; it’s a foreign country with its own culture, customs, and language. And if any proof of that were needed, pay attention to your kids. Within a few weeks of getting off the plane, they’ll most likely be walking the walk and talking the talk Australian style.

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Beach Life

I’m not complaining. It’s great. It tells me that they’re settling in, and they’re happy. But I would be kidding myself if I didn’t admit to feeling slightly sad that they won’t grow up with my Scottish culture (a tiny wee bit of tartan!) in their veins. Classic “grass is greener” syndrome! Really, I think what I miss for them is the connection to my roots. When my dad was alive we all rolled our eyes when he started reminiscing (most memorably over Christmas dinner), recounting the old times, and my mum would groan at the prospect of yet another “history lesson”. Ironically, I would give anything to hear those stories again. And for my sons to experience them, but more importantly to understand them. I’m determined that they will know Scotland, but in reality they will see its customs and culture through visitors’ eyes.

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One of many beautiful parks surrounding us!

But for any sadness I feel, I’m excited for the life they will live here. Yes, they’ll barrack for a footy team, the Glasgow Patter will be like a foreign language to them, they’ll eat lollies not sweets, Christmas will be in summer, and I will forever nag them to wear their shoes despite their preference for going barefoot with their peers. They will probably even cheer for Australia in the Olympics – not sure if I’m ready for that just yet! The truth is Australia is a great place for kids to grow up. Every time I see them running around on the beach without a care in the world I know that we are lucky to be here. They will grow up with experiences that I would have dreamed of as a child. It’ll be up to me to keep a wee Scottish flame alive within them, but ultimately I know that they’re in the right place – accent or no accent.


 

Thank you so much to this weeks X-Pat Files guest blogger Samantha Norman.

All of Us

Samantha Norman is a mum of 2 boys (ages 2 & 4), originally from Glasgow. Her boys were born in London and  last year Samantha’s family packed up their London life and moved to Melbourne where her husband originates from. They are making the most of  life Down Under.

Thinking of holidaying in Canberra with the Tribe??

For anyone looking to head to Canberra with the ‘Tribe’, Amanda from Entertain My Tribe has given us her list of family friendly activities to keep you all busy, and to truly make the most of visiting Australia’s Capital City!!


Canberra is packed with fun activities and attractions that will keep the whole tribe entertained. We only had a very short stay in the capital city but we managed to tick a few of the cities best offerings for families. Here’s what we got up to.

Questacon

We had an awesome time exploring the many different levels in Questacon. We were given tickets to try out their Mini Q room which is especially for kids aged 0-6 years. We made sure we went on the earliest session possible and the only disappointment was when our time was up and we had to leave. The kids had fun with the water play area, role playing in the petrol station, bakery and vet areas and climbing and crawling through the multi-level play area in the centre. We also whipped through the planet room for a quick look when we got the five minute warning that our session was about to finish.

Other highlights for the tribe were the ‘Make It’ craft area where we learned about windmills and then used the objects available to make our own creations. We also had a lot of fun building towers with blocks and then seeing how they would go in an earthquake.

On the bottom level, there was a dark room full of fun experiments including a moving light tunnel and our favourite – a vacuum pipe contraption where the kids inserted neon coloured cloths, they got sucked through the pipe and went on a winding journey and then came flying out for them to catch. Questacon is an absolute must when visiting Canberra with kids.

Floriade

There was so much going on at Floriade, it’s no wonder people flock from all over Australia just for this event. Of course there were beautiful, colourful flowers everywhere we turned, but that is just the tip of the iceberg that is Floriade.

We were lucky enough to be standing right near the ‘Adopt a Worm’ station where we were offered worms to name and adopt and re-home into a nearby vegetable patch. This may have caused some tears for my youngest resulting in me taking over the re-homing process but I can happily report, Daddy Worm made it safely to the veggie patch.

The food choices were quite good but if you have a fussy eater like I do – you might want to pack some basic food options. Lots of tribes packed a picnic and grabbed a shady spot on the lawn in front of the Floriade stage where performances were scheduled throughout the festival.

We also enjoyed playing with some of the circus toys in the Circus Tent and wandering through the art installation in the gardens. There were markets to look at, carnival rides and a train that can transport you from one side of the event to the other.

We of course finished our visit off with a Ferris Wheel ride where we could take in the views of Floriade and Canberra.

Floriade also turns into a night time delight with Night Fest where the fun of the day continues on, but with lights and lanterns to wow the crowds.

National Arboretum Pod Playground

There’s lots happening in the school holidays at the National Arboretum including Forests in Bloom guided walks, story telling and bonsai making workshops, but on our visit we dropped by specifically to check out one thing – the amazing Pod Playground.

There was so much to do in the playground and it was geared from tiny tots up to older kids. The pod playground is fully fenced in so it’s safe for the kids to run and explore the huge space without fear that they’ll end up in the car park.

There are smaller pods at the entry way which act as cubby houses. Some of the pods are in sandpits for digging and soft play, and others are just outside of the sand with things like musical drums and pipes to play with. There are a few swings and lots of seating around for parents to sit and watch as the tribe plays.

Then the main attraction – the pods. The pods are higher up with ladders to climb up into the cubby spaces and explore. Some of them are linked by rope bridges and there is a mega curling slide coming out of one of the bigger pods. Inside one of the pods there are insects encased in resin for the kids to get a closer look at.

Other attractions in the playground included a musical bridge with little bells to jump on and a climbing net area. There are toilet facilities inside the playground too for extra convenience.

Cockington Green

Cockington Green Gardens are still just as charming today as I remember them being all those years ago when I visited as a child. This garden is full of miniature houses with miniature people and animals. There were a few that had miniature trains running around them that the kids can control with the push of a button making them interactive and fun for the tribe. We wandered through looking at all of the different villages, climbed to a viewing tower to see a miniature garden maze from above, and then we entered the international gardens with castles, buildings and homes from all over the world.

When we finished wandering through the gardens on foot, we made our way to the steam train ride where we got to take two laps of the garden on the train and see it all again. Cockington Green Gardens is well worth checking out when you’re in Canberra with the kids. It’s also good to know that if you are planning on visiting Questacon, Cockington Green and the Australian Institute of Sport – you can get a 3 attractions 1 ticket and a 25% discount on entry price.

Check out Entertain My Tribe’s top 10 Canberra attractions here.


 

Holidaying in Canberra with the Tribe was originally posted on Entertain My Tribe and has been reposted with permission.