The Wilsons do Sovereign Hill

 

This weekend started so well.  Mr W left work early after much harassment from me and the children. We wanted him to come to the “new family BBQ” at school on Friday afternoon, so we weren’t on our own for yet another school event. Usually the children and I stand there, looking on as the dads take over the playground, and the mums gush at how “hands on” their husbands are. Tim has to work what he calls, ‘pretty normal hours’, and what I call “single mother hours”. Not here for breakfast, and rarely here for dinner. Oh, but he pays for it with evening teeth brushing duty, which has to be the most painful ten minutes of any parent’s day!

On Friday I twisted his arm viciously enough that he left work a couple of hours early. In typical Tim style he turned up just as the bbq was being packed away, so he missed out on the snags, and ended up having to join me in a fifteen-minute hunt for Monty who was found hiding up a tree. Barefoot, grubby, and giving me even more grey hairs, Monty thought this was hysterical. I have no idea what it is, but he gets so much joy from “freaking” people out.

We decided this weekend we would adventure off to Ballarat to visit Sovereign Hill. I showed the children the videos on the website and they were really excited to get there. Monty kept telling people we were off to get some gold; I think he thought we were going to be coming home with a huge nugget. Oh god, please let us come home with a nugget!

Sovereign Hill is just under 2 hours from us, so we did the usual pep talk as we strapped in the kids, praying that they would survive the journey without being smacked on the knee by my arm bent around my back of my seat. As per usual they didn’t want any of the snacks I had lovingly thrown into a carrier bag, so Tim stopped to put air in the tyres and bought them an enormous bag of mints. *sigh I gave him ‘the look.’ Sugar is never a good decision.

Eye spy was well under way 10 minutes after leaving the house. Poppy started with “eye spy with my little eye, something beginning with F” …. Monty shrieked “POPPPPPPPYYYY!  You can’t say an F word it’s rude… Muuuuum!! Poppy said it’s the F word!” The next forty-five minutes consisted of every other clue beginning with F, Poppy grinning, and Monty shrieking with horror.  “It’s Forest… Ffffforest….” Thank you Poppy…

The journey seemed to take forever, surprise, surprise.  I’m pretty sure this was down to the eye spy hell I was trapped in, and my secret consumption of beer at the school bbq the night before. I must remember in future a banana just doesn’t cut it as decent hangover food.

We arrived at Sovereign Hill about 11, opened the car doors and promptly slammed them shut again. It was bloody freezing. Monty was in shorts and neither of the kids had a coat. Spot the Sydney Siders.  I longed for a woolly scarf. We dressed ourselves in the random articles of clothing that had been abandoned in the car from previous days out. Monty found a pair of dirty socks with popcorn crumbs stuck to them; which he put over the ones he already had on to keep his feet extra warm. He had a hoodie that was two sizes too big with strange looking stains on, and Poppy was wearing her netball uniform jacket, on top of her particularly summery outfit. Tim and I had remembered to pack our own warm coats of course, but I still felt the icy wind rushing straight through my body and was tempted to wear Poppy’s netball knickers as a hat. I encouraged the children to star jump their way into the ticket office to save them from hypothermia. This resulted in two shuddering oddballs, wearing the most remarkable outfits falling through the sliding doors into an enormous crowd of Japanese tourists. Once they had managed to stand up, and escape the grasps of some elderly lady grabbing at their cheeks and frantically snapping photos of them, we made it to the counter.

Tickets purchased, we walked into 1850’s Ballarat. Honestly this place is awesome. An enormous outdoor museum presenting the history of Australia’s gold rush. There were people panning for gold in the stream; desperately trying to find specs of gold, surrounded by tents and little wooden shacks that made up the Chinese camp. It was like we had stepped back in time. There were people in costume, playing very convincing characters. We walked up through the high street; the shops full of beautiful handmade trinkets, delicious freshly baked pies and cakes, handmade lollies, candles, lace, beautiful dresses. There was music being played by four men outside the post office which completed the scene and totally transported you back to the gold rush days. It was a magical walk through a bustling mining town, even with Monty hopping and tripping over every little stone, and Poppy walking forwards and looking backwards. Some of the buildings at Sovereign Hill are the original ones, others had been loving restored from pictures left behind. It really is a spectacular place.

Poppy looked at me and said “Mummy this is amazing, I love this kind of thing” as we headed into the theatre. We watched the actors play their characters with enthusiasm as they took us back in time, and showed us just what was thought of the Chinese coming to find gold in Ballarat. It was a real insight into life during the gold rush. The children’s eyes fixed like glue.

The children were desperate to go on a horse and cart ride, they hopped on the front with the driver. She was completely in charge for the four huge beasts pulling our carriage through the dusty streets, past the shops. Monty spent most of the journey talking about and pointing out horse poo, and exaggerating how dreadful the smell was. I’m pretty sure that poor horse is still feeling embarrassed.  Once we had hopped off, and patted the horses, Monty had got over the smell, so we headed to the candle shop where the children could colour their own candle. We watched gold being poured, lollies being made, Red Coat soldiers marching, saw muskets being shot, peeked into the houses of the miners, got excited about the bed pans outdoor ‘Dunny’s’, and even had a go at bowling. The best part of the day for me, had to be the trip down into the mine.

I have been in a mine before in Wales, and I am pretty sure it was a trick. You get in a lift, the lights go out, it shudders a bit and yay, you’re deep underground in the mine (or not). So, getting on the little train to take us underground in Ballarat, I was pretty calm, thinking it would be the same trick. There was no reason to feel at all claustrophobic or concerned about the lack of air, and not need to worry that I didn’t have a canary with me! Poppy was already crying! The lights go out, it’s pitch black and the little train gets moving. I could feel Poppy’s nails digging into my skin, as the guide made a joke about hoping all 32 of us come back out at the end.  Monty is screeching that this is “Awwwwesome”, and 60 seconds later we’ve arrived. I was winking at Tim; he was looking at me as if I was mental. “You know we are underground don’t you?”

Oh good god, I looked back up the train track and he was right, we were underground. Actually in a mine…. Are those strategically placed bits of wood really able to stop the roof from caving in on us all? How much air have we got left? What if the power cuts out? Now do you see where my daughter gets it from?

Peter Kennedy was our guide underground. He wore a huge hat, was the most wonderful, enthusiastic man, who straight away made this tour feel exciting. He is what I imagined every Aussie to be like before we arrived Down Under. A mix between Crocodile Dundee and Indiana Jones. We all listened intently as he explained about how the mines worked, and how much effort went into finding gold.  It was truly one of the best tours we have been on, even though Poppy was heavy breathing, in between laughing at Peter’s jokes and weeping a little. The train ride inside the mine really showed us what little space the miners had, we saw the nooks and crannies, the holes where they had their tea breaks, and the pick axes they used. To be able to go underground and see exactly where these people spent hours and hours of their lives digging away in the dark is a real eye-opener. The train tracks they used to get the rock to the surface are still visible, and you can almost hear the miners at work if you listen hard enough.

We had the most wonderful day, we took hundreds of photos, played games, panned for gold, the children spent time at the school house learning to use proper pens and ink. The staff were amazing; they knew all the answers to our questions, and seemed to be so thrilled to answer them.

We ended up exiting through the entrance in typical Wilson fashion. I looked up and saw some writing on the wall which I had missed on the way in. It really touched a nerve. It made me think of what a journey it has been for us moving to Australia, to leave everyone we love behind, and really, we are a tiny dot in the huge numbers of people that have done this before us, and with none of the luxuries we have today.

“It was a ‘bright vision’ of prosperity that lured them – an exodus of gold seekers from the farthest reaches of the world. In the earliest years of the 1850’s, half a million men, women and children turned their backs on everything they knew and set sail to find it. Their destination was Australia – half a world away across a vast and perilous sea. “

Family days out always seem to have some sort of drama for us. The kids get bored, we end up telling them how spoilt they are…. You know what it’s like. You spend all that money for a day out, and you end up going home feeling exhausted and a little ripped off with the ungrateful brats in the back of the car with fist fulls of treats. Well, this weekend, we had the brats in the back, but in no way did we feel ripped off. Sovereign Hill is a fabulous, educational and fun day out for the whole family. If only we could have taken advantage of the second day pass.

Here’s to more fun and adventures….

To hit or to be hit? A parenting nightmare!

 

I love a kid with spirit, a kid with guts, one who isn’t afraid to step up and be counted, not afraid to stand up for what’s right. The reason I love spunky kids is, I have a child just like this. My son is gutsy, knows what’s right and wrong, but very often pushes me a little too far with his strength of character. He is loud, brave, a little punchy, energetic beyond belief, and will always, without fail, step in if he thinks someone is being wronged. He can often be seen pushing his big sister out of the way, so as he can confront the big kid who’s being mean to her. He always runs to the aid of his friends. He has been delivered, straight from my side of the family, in every way possible. This is all good and well but sometimes, his protective nature gets the better of him and he takes it too far. Honestly, he has been known to make much bigger kids cry and run to their mums when he has been standing up for someone. He is small but fiery, strong but gentle, tough but loving, the guy you just have to be friends with, because he will always have your back, no matter what. He is loyal, very loyal, almost too loyal, and this unfortunately has landed him in trouble in many a play park.kissing-kids

Every parent has been in that nightmare situation at least once, where you turn up to school or day care and you’re told that today your child has hit someone, or bitten someone or pushed someone over. Your heart sinks. You’re shocked that your little darling would ever do such a thing; even though you know as well as everyone else, they’re all capable of a little nibble, slap or shove. I remember picking up Monty when he was only 2 and being told he had pinched someone.  I couldn’t make out whether my heart was breaking because I was upset that my child would hurt someone else on purpose, or whether I was sad for the other mother who was now being told her precious child was going home with an injury. Thankfully, I have not been on either side too often, and now that both my children are getting older these sorts of things happen less and less. However, last Friday proved to me that although rare, hitting can occur at any age.

My sweet daughter, who is quite the opposite of Monty in feistiness, came home from school last week with a bruise the size and shape of a ten-year-old boys fist. Shocked, flabbergasted, upset, concerned, angry; no livid, enraged, outraged, beside myself, sweaty, dizzy, pacing up and down the kitchen…. How could anyone do this? These kids should know better at this age. I spent the whole of Friday night, drinking wine, getting more and more cross. Saturday morning arrived, I was regretting the wine, and also regretting how horribly I had handled my emotions.

Thinking about a boy hitting a girl was pretty shocking to me, as sexist as that sounds, especially in Australia; a country so hell bent on cutting out domestic violence and a country that insists on teaching children about the seriousness of violence after so many “one punch” deaths… From my quaint English countryside point of view it can be a little too much detail for young children, however, domestic violence campaigners are currently calling for young Australians to be better educated about the dangers of violent relationships, though the new national curriculum. This only goes to prove how seriously they take it here. In 2015 New South Wales became the first state to introduce school lessons specifically on domestic violence.

In no way am I accusing Australia of being any worse than anywhere else in the world, but it is definitely a huge issue here and a fairly big talking point.

So, Poppy comes home injured, upset, frightened, and I somehow feel the same. How could this happen? Why was she not safe at school? Who was watching them? Why didn’t this get stopped before it escalated? Why would a boy attack a girl? I had so many questions, and just like Monty, I was ready to explode, I was like a lioness protecting her cubs.fist

Then, I got to thinking about how I would have felt if this was the other way around? What if Monty had hurt someone at school? How would I feel if I’d had a phone call to say he had punched someone so hard they had to go and have an x-ray? Honestly…. I think that feeling would far outweigh my frenzied lioness feelings. To learn that your child has shown such aggression toward another student has to be heartbreaking to say the least.

When we send our children out into the big wide world, we hope that we have taught them enough to cope in certain situations, how to stand up for themselves in the right way, how to use their manners ALL OF THE TIME! What we don’t really consider as parents is, sometimes they will forget these rules, accidentally let loose and lash out, forget to wash their hands or say please may I. This in no way is a reflection on the school or the teachers, nor is it a reflection on how we have parented our children. Sometimes kids just get it wrong, very wrong. I know I have done my best to teach my children the difference between right and wrong, yet still they lash out at each other, answer me back, shout, and throw tantrums. I couldn’t tell you I’m 100% sure my son would never lash out and hit a girl. Just in the way you couldn’t either.  I am in no way condoning violent behaviour, but I am willing to stand up for all those mothers who have done nothing but try their best, and are still made to feel like they haven’t done enough by the way their children mistakenly react to situations. The mothers who have tried and tried to teach their children to stand up for themselves in a pretty frightening world, but not so much so that they end up being the bad kid. How on earth can we be expected to get that balance right? We don’t want to see them hit, just as much as we don’t want them to be the hitter.

Primary school is where we send them to hone the life skills that we have implemented. We send them to be taught in a structured environment that they have never really experienced before. We send them there, into a room, with many different personalities, lots of little voices, all competing for one teacher’s attention. And yes, by the age of 10 they should have mastered lots of life skills, but still, 10 is so young, and a 10 year old still has so much more time to learn, and grow, and be taught.

So whether your child is the hitter, or has been hit is irrelevant. What’s most important is that they have learnt a valuable lesson. We must remember that school is there to help us teach them that life isn’t perfect and that people aren’t perfect. It’s there to teach them that some people forget themselves in situations, there are consequences for that, and that’s how they learn. As long as we all support our children, teach them how they should behave, and what is expected of them, then fingers crossed we can send them off into the even wider world of adulthood, where they will succeed as well rounded individuals. Let’s not make everything so black and white, let’s not blame each other, let’s just show our children that we can look at things from many different angles, and maybe just maybe, this will help them grow up to be even more compassionate, more understanding and more respectful adults.

Olivia xx

Teaching a child not to step on a caterpillar, is as valuable to the child as it is the caterpillar – Bradley Millar

 

 

‘Spare a Thought’ – Expat life through the eyes of those left behind #1

 

One of the most asked questions we get here at The Wilsons of Oz HQ is, how did we feel leaving our friends and family behind, when we made the big trip to the lucky country. Well, the answer is always “pretty terrible”. Of course you’re going to miss people when you move away, and I often think about the people we left behind.  I am pretty sure this is the one thing (apart from the evil visa process) that stops most people taking the huge step toward a life overseas. It goes without saying, it’s tough, but at the same time, I know deep down in my thumping, aching heart, it was too good an opportunity to miss out on. I’ve come round to thinking that maybe it is harder for the people you leave behind, the ones who still walk past your old house every week, the ones who you had regular coffees with, the ones who have reminders of you in their everyday life. Surely it’s got to be harder for them.

Well, all this has encouraged me to get on to those people left behind, and have them guest blog for me in a series called “Spare a thought”. One person in particular, who jumped at the chance to make me feel guilty, was my mother. My dear, rather ‘emotional at the best of times’ mother. I asked mum to write about how she felt, and still feels about our move Down Under.


 

Your wings already exist; all you have to do is fly!

When my husband retired from the Army we decided to sell our house in Lincolnshire and like two homing pigeons we returned to Wales. It all made perfect sense, we were both from the area and after 25 moves and friends scattered all over the world it was time to be with family and renew friendships long neglected. What happened next was totally unexpected. My elderly father-in-law decided he would move to Hong Kong to be with his daughter, and our son went to take on a new job in Malta. Thankfully our daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren were settled in Somerset, and not too far away for frequent visits.

During one such visit the bombshell was dropped; “Tim has a new job, but it means moving” Olivia announced one Sunday.  I replied “you won’t find that a problem, you are used to moving, it will be an adventure”. Her reply hit me like a thunderbolt, “yes, but we’re moving to Sydney”. That’s when I burst into tears whilst asking the ridiculous question “Sydney Australia?” I suddenly recalled a time many years ago when my husband told me we had been posted and I suggested he could commute from Lincolnshire so as not to disrupt the family.  He’d said Abu Dhabi in fact, not welsh Aberdovey. Not such an easy commute from Lincolnshire after all.

Once Olivia’s news had sunk in, I started blaming myself for how I was feeling. Was it our fault that both children have the urge to travel and live abroad? Or perhaps it’s a wonderful legacy we bless them with. Our lovely daughter has transverse myelitis, a debilitating illness which she has struggled with and has now come to terms with in a way that makes us feel so very proud. I couldn’t help but feel worried how she would cope being so far away from home; and selfishly I thought, how would we cope?

My first mistake after the bombshell had been dropped was to start watching “Wanted down under” on British television. It shows couples who have taken the plunge, sitting on a sofa in Oz talking to loved ones back home via video link up. Usually the whole family get together in the UK and spend most of the time crying, not knowing what to say, and being typical Poms, just repeatedly ask about the time and the weather. All this does for me is emphasise how far away Australia is. Our morning is their evening, our winter is their summer, and this only exaggerates the constant reminder of the magnitude of their decision. However, finally with the help of my husband, I started to think positively. Our daughter has a wonderful, supportive husband and two great children who are going to make friends, travel, and enjoy all that Australia has to offer; and it has a lot to offer. They will enjoy the outdoor life, the sports, and of course the food. My later predictions have proved to be right. They have immersed themselves in everything that has been palced at their feet.

We have already enjoyed a wonderful holiday in Sydney, and now that they have moved to Melbourne we hope to go there. Thank goodness for Skype! It has made such a difference to be able to see them all and to see their home. The one disadvantage is that I am sure they think Granny lives in a dressing gown as they always call early morning our time; but rest assured I have, unlike those on the television programme, not been too emotional on screen.

I meet people here who are upset because their offspring have moved 10 miles away, but I also meet people whose children are unhappy and can’t find work, so we regularly count our blessings.

Our son, daughter in law and granddaughter have announced they are now moving to Las Vegas; did we do something to upset them all? Maybe I won’t dwell on that. I will concentrate on arranging a few more holidays instead. Thank you Australia for taking care of our loved ones! (Now I am shedding a tear, but don’t tell them!)

Susan Thomas

family-selfie

 

Family; like branches on a tree we may all grow in different directions, yet our roots remain as one.


 

If you think you would like to write about your experience of being ‘left behind’, or let us know about how you’re planning to stay connected with family and friends when you move away, please get in touch. Are you about to turn down the opportunity to move away because of a loved one? Did you follow your loved ones abroad to be close to them?  Just one email to us, and you could be sharing your story with thousands of followers all over the world and helping others make that life changing decision.

Embrace the playground!

 

I have done it! I have survived the first week of a new school. Who cares about the kids? Those first few days as the ‘new mum’ have to be harder than anything the kids go through.

 

All summer I have been catching my breath, imagining going through the gates for the first time. All the other mums who have known each other since ‘mums and bubs’ in their little huddles, cooing over each others newest arrivals, turning to look at me, wondering who I am, where I’ve escaped from, why I have really greasy hair and vegemite all over my t-shirt. It’s never a pleasant time of the day for us, I am usually wiping snot and tears from Poppy’s face as she sobs her way into school with Monty following behind shouting something offensive to her. Throughout the holidays I had moments where I could almost feel the eyes on me, even though I was at home and still had weeks until the dreaded day arrived.

 

I received , read and re-read all the introduction letters, the ‘preparing your child for school’ information, but had nothing to help prepare me!  Not one checklist on how to prepare myself for the playground onslaught. Nothing to advise me on where to stand or how best to behave on that first day, or teach me the “best one liners for playground mums”. No one waiting by the gate to take a photo of me on my first day! How on earth are we expected to do everything we do, turn up to school and be prepared for this every morning? Entering the playground for the first time as a mum is worse than any job interview. It’s worse than giving birth, it’s worse than that dodgy tummy you get after a curry… My god it’s worse than stubbing your big toe. There are a million things I would rather do than be the new mum. Yet everyone focusses on the children, and how they’re coping in the run up to school. Well, this selfish mum was more worried about her eyebrows being plucked to within an inch of their life, and making sure she didn’t wear those trousers that give her a serious camel toe (please don’t google that mum!).

 

I have done the playground thing for a few years; I have been the new mum a few times now, and trust me it doesn’t get any easier. No matter where you are in the world, the playground is always the same. The cool mums, the sexy mums, the bloody all round perfect mums. The baking mums, the super tanned mums, the working mums, the stylish mums, the immaculate mums, the loving mums, the classy mums, the sassy mums, the funky mums, the arty mums, the ‘totally in love mums’ who are always there with dad! …… Then me! Standing out like a sore thumb, as I am nothing in particular, just a little nervous, very clammy and usually stood on my own hoping that my children come out of school without an escort from the principle!

 

On Friday’s here a coffee van turns up to school and the parents get some time to meet the teachers, chat, make new friends etc. Yay! Even more playground time!!  I decided, as it’s the first week I should be brave, take some deep breaths and use this opportunity to meet some more people; so we left the house early, free coffee voucher clasped in my hand and headed into the school playground. To be honest with you, I dread things like this. Will anyone talk to me? Will I recognise anyone from the kid’s classes? Will I just be sat on my own wishing it was a G&T in my hand instead of a long black?  In typical Wilson fashion, I turned up, drank my coffee, and didn’t really manage to chat with anyone  properly as Monty was on at me to play cricket, and Poppy was emotional! I told the one mum I managed to chat to that I was planning on going to the P & C meeting after coffee; she looked at me as if I had said I was thinking about joining ISIS! I decided then that I would leave the parent volunteering to someone else and I went straight home. Maybe it’s for the best!

 

Well go me!!!  The first week of school is done, I have survived the beginning of the school year, and I will now, (fingers crossed) not be the newest mum again for a long while. (By no means does that imply that I am having any more children, I just mean, I don’t think we’ll be relocating any time soon.)

 

The ‘new mum’ playground thing is getting a little easier. The children have friends; I have friends (I know… Yay me! Again!) and I am absolutely loving being home alone all day! I try my hardest to look a little forlorn when I drop the children off, giving them a few blinks as if I’m a tad emotional. “Mummy’s going to miss you today”, and “Aaah I can’t wait to see you this avo my little champ” and then boom; as soon as I’m out of sight I skip out of the school gates, and burst into Cream’s “I feel free” as I fly past the school crossing supervisor, racing home to dive into Hello! magazine and smother Nutella all over my face!  Oh it’s absolute bliss.

 

I would love to tell you that I miss them like crazy, or the house feels empty without them, or it’s made me feel super homesick, but I’d be lying. I don’t feel any of those things. I just feel pure, unadulterated joy! I have been filling my time with writing, tidying, cleaning, sitting on my backside, drinking copious amounts of coffee, online shopping (don’t tell Mr W), walking on the beach, laundry, and by then it’s 3:20! My mood drops a little, Cream stop singing in my ear about freedom, I grab my bag, a spray of rescue remedy, and I head miserably past the school crossing supervisor, dragging my feet, into the playground for round two. Here’s to the next 12 years of playground encounters! Wish me luck!!

 

Keep calm and just say “no”

I freely admit, I am one of those awful mothers who finds it almost impossible to say no to my children. Yes, one of those mothers that all other mothers snarl at. I just really struggle. I try my best to put my foot down, and then crumble under the mass of whiny voices and fluttery eyelashes… Partly because I drown in guilt, partly because I am just too bloody exhausted to argue! I know, I know, I can hear my mother saying “you’re making a rod for your own back!!” And damn it she’s right! The summer holidays have just about broken me, yet I am already missing the little darlings, two hours into term 1!

we've got this.png
You’ve got this!

 

I just dropped Poppy off for her first day at another new school, and Monty for his first day of school ever! Such a huge day for us all! It kind of makes everything else seem insignificant right now! I’ve almost forgotten that they had gummy sweets for breakfast to make the upcoming trauma taste a little sweeter! How am I supposed to tell you all about what we have been up to when my heart is thumping, my eyes seem to be full of this awful salty water, and my mind is still in school where I left Monty doing puzzles and Poppy crying!

Here goes!!!

Australia day seems like an age ago. This time last year we were surrounded by friends in Sydney, we had friends from the UK here to party with us too! This year, having just moved, we were a little light on the friends to hang with, so it fell to yet another ‘family day out’. We have learnt over the years that taking the children out for the day is far easier than staying in with them; surprisingly they behave like little angels when we’re doing the things they want to do. Go figure! So, instead of kicking back on a sun lounger in the garden, sipping beers, waving flags, and covered in Australia day tattoos, we packed a bag, threw in some old bananas and off we went.

We drove out to the edge of the Mornington Peninsula to The Enchanted Adventure Gardens. The drive there was spectacular! The route took us to the top of Arthurs Seat State Park, the ocean views were magnificent; a scene we just hadn’t banked on, having not looked at the route we were taking. Thanks Sat Nav! It was such a treat to see this unexpected view! We spent the day playing games, walking the canopy walkways (because you’re not allowed to run! Tell that to the bloody tourists!) We did the ‘Bush Adventure Scramble’ which was a fab obstacle course for the kids nestled in amongst the giant trees of the Arthurs Seat Forest. I spent most of the time doubled up, laughing hysterically as the children got stuck on various rope nets, tangled up in the stretchy strings or plopped off the wobble board into the mud! I really am going to hell. Screams of “heeeeelp Muuuum” were met with silent laugher as I crossed my legs, terrified I may have my own little accident. There really is no end to the fun to be had at the Enchanted Gardens! We made our way down the ‘sculpture walk’ past the beautifully carved life like figures, to the Tube Slides and settled there for what seemed like hours. The rings are huge inflatable tyres, which need to be dragged up the hill before you can slide all the way back down again, whilst being sprayed with water! The children insisted I had a go;  the delightful chap at the top pushed me full pelt off the ledge! It was then, as I was careering backwards downhill I decided that this wasn’t really my thing! I like to be able to see where I’m going especially at speeds of about 40kms an hour. Not only that but when I’m sent hurtling backwards downhill, being hosed with a fine spray, my hair takes a turn for the worse. I arrived at the bottom to gasps from small children, clutching onto their parents as Chewbacca’s wife prized herself out of a tiny tyre. Not a pretty sight I can assure you!

Once I regained the use of my legs, and the children had become tired of dragging their tyres up the hill, we headed for the 10ft tall conifers that make up the main Maze! Oh yes there’s more than 1! Tim took the children in. I waited at the entrance, a hairy mess in amongst the most beautiful flowers; partly because I am terribly claustrophobic, and partly to steal a little “me time”, still getting over the tyres. I was hoping they would get lost for a few hours, but no sooner had I patted my mane down, and got my phone out of my pocket to check Facebook, they were back by my side begging to go to the Lolly Shop! I punched the air, and whimpered a little “Yay!!” We filled them full of sugar, then hopped back into the car to head to our next destination!

Having seen such beautiful photos of Sorrento, Tim and I decided we would go and have a look seeing as we were already pretty close.  Sorrento is a beautiful seaside resort that describes itself as “a largely upper class area”, so right up our street! The beach is truly beautiful, however today being a public holiday, you could have mistaken it for Alicante in July! The children were sweaty, grubby, I had bird poo on my t shirt, and Tim had hat hair! We didn’t stay too long with the cool cats of Sorrento! We sat at the Continental Hotel (also known as the Conti! Of course) and glugged our beers whilst the kids sipped lemonade. (I know, more sugar! Shoot me now!) We had a picnic, ate ice-creams, even had hot chips on the beach. Worn out, sandy, sweaty and full of E numbers and processed sugar, we got back in the car to start our short journey home. Five minutes on the road, and Tim and I spot an enormous funfair. Please God I pray the Barbie movie keeps their eyes fixed on the screen, and the traffic lights stay green…… Dash it! A red light and a yelp from the back “wow, awesome, can we go, can we go??” You’ll be proud to hear that I stuck to my guns on this occasion, and refused to stop at the fair. There are a few things in this world that I will always, every time say no to. Funfairs being the main one. I hate them, I loathe them, in fact I detest them. I dislike everything about them. I don’t like the rides; they look like they’re going to collapse and hurl 50 screaming children in to the stratosphere. I can’t stand the lollies, the crap prizes and the grubby people. I detest funfairs because no matter how much of a good time the kids have, I always, without fail, leave feeling utterly ripped off and the children are inevitably sick on the way home. The vomiting being totally my fault for allowing them to eat the burgers made from dog meat, and the candy floss made by the lady with E-coli all over her being.

I tried to reason with the children about why we weren’t going to the fair; I started well. Not only had we been out all day, it was getting late, and we were all tired. “I’m not tired, are you tired Poppy”, “ok… well we’ve run out of coins and funfairs are really expensive”, “we haven’t spent our pocket money yet mum, look we have 20 dollars” …. “Oh for Christ sake, we’re not going to the bloody fair because they’re shit, and the gaggle of teenage girls drinking vodka by the bumper cars look like they’re ready to ruin everyone’s evening. Let’s just stop at the nearest sodding bin and chuck your money in if you’re happy to throw it away” Stunned silence… Then a little whisper behind me… “did Mummy say a swear word?’

My children are utterly spoilt, again this is purely my fault. I completely spoil them because since moving away from home I have felt a torrent of guilt. Guilt for moving them so far from their grandparents, guilt for allowing them to get sunburnt last summer, guilt for making them move all the time, guilt for changing their schools so frequently, guilt for not allowing them to drink cordial every day, guilt for forcing them to do Nippers even when its freezing cold, guilt for only reading two bedtime stories, guilt for not being as strict on letter writing as I should be; honestly guilt runs deep in this mumma!

This is the reason I over compensate and give in to them all the time. This is why I find it almost impossible to say no! Tim thinks I am ridiculous. He is well aware of how I treat them, and as we were sitting at the traffic lights, next to the god awful un..fun..fair, I could see his hand hovering over the indicator, ready to pull in, knowing I was about to collapse under the pressure of pester power! Then thankfully the lights turned green, Tim put his foot down and we sped off. I put my hand on his leg, looked lovingly at him, so proud of what awesome parents we are, and how bloody brilliant we are for showing the kids that no means no!!

So this Australia day, when we should have been reflecting on Australian history, learning about the arrival of the first fleet, and raising a glass to the wonder of this beautiful country, we were actually laughing at the children hurting themselves, teaching them that mummy thinks funfairs are “shit”, and showing them who’s boss… And it ‘aint daddy!!

Here’s hoping for a more relaxing Australia Day next year!

Olivia xx

‘One way to get the most out of life, is to look upon it as an adventure’ – William Feather

 

Why the Wilson’s adore Australia!!

As a very ‘British’ person living in Australia, there are a great many things that I will never be able to get used to, find a little bizarre, and confuse me a tad. For me, these are the things I love the most about our life here in the Southern Hemisphere.

Being in Australia, means we’ve had a great many things to get used to. The bugs, the heat, the spiders, the sausages; the enormity of a road trip. Christmas in the summer, ten-week school terms, and my favourite one of all; the drive through bottle shop.

  • The Drive Thru Bottle shop– Every time we drive into a bottle shop I feel a wave of naughty excitement. We zoom in and pull up to the cashier, and it always feels like we have ram raided the joint. I half hide in the foot well, and half cover my face in case there’s cctv. I truly expect the guy behind the till to press the alarm, or at least look a little terrified. No, he just stands there, beeps through our slabs of beers and waves us on our merry way! Did he not see us DRIVE IN….? In the CAR!!! Weird!!
  • Laundry – Hanging out the laundry is like dicing with death in Australia. If the sun bleached, stiff as a board washing doesn’t break you the spiders will. All of my pegs are stuck together with one big, giant, sticky spider web, so I have to pick very carefully and shake every peg. If anything even remotely tickles me, it’s blatantly going to be a deadly spider, so I jump, shriek, holler for assistance, and every time it’s my own hair blowing against my back.
  • Singlet Sun tans – I will never be able to look at men with “singlet sun tans’ without guffawing like a crazy woman. It’s the pasty white skin, the brown neck, and the dark brown arms. It’s as if they’re wearing a beige coloured vest with nipples printed on it. Wouldn’t you work on that tan a little more appropriately?
  • Sausages – I know this is probably a sore subject, a Pom criticising Aussie snags. I’m sorry, but this Pom likes pork sausages, not beef, not chicken, not lamb… Just pork! I don’t even mind if they’re jazzed up with a bit of apple, or hell, let’s go crazy and do a pork and fennel, beef is just wrong. Having said that, on a Sunday at Bunnings, I have been known to gobble down a sausage sizzle, drenched in bbq sauce.
  • Fairy bread– Now my dedicated followers, who’ve been here since the start, know how shocked I was to discover ‘Fairy Bread!’ It terrifies, and delights me at the same time. I cringe when I see it, yet I wish I was 5 again so I could gorge on it.fairy-bread
  • “Hey how you going?’ – I am proud to inform you that I have tried to use this greeting on a few occasions, but it turns out I still just confuse myself, and anyone else hearing this in an English accent. Going? Going where? What?
  • The distance between places – Oh lord, the distances we travel, for a little weekend away are phenomenal. Australia is even more mammoth than I had ever imagined. Thank goodness we bought a car that had been ‘pimped’. We have three dvd screens, wireless headphones, snack holders, and cables to plug in just about any device from an iPhone to the tumble drier. This has made the distances a little easier to cope with, but I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to being told “it’s only 600km till the first stop!”
  • Smiggle – Now I know these stores are in UK, but until we came to Australia I had no idea they existed, how much money we would end up spending in them, or how much I would want to buy for myself. I adore everything about Smiggle; apart from the prices.
  • Frozen Coke- Shoot me now!
  • Slang- Oh the slang is another favourite of mine, and I use it at home as much as I can. Ah that’s a ripper, chuck a u’ey, macca’s, garbo, metho, servo, rego, righto. There’s even a Facebook group dedicated to ‘Aussie slang that only Aussies understand’. I’ve ‘liked’ their page!
  • My children’s accents – Almost as soon as we landed at Sydney International Airport, the children’s accents started a wonky route, to a bizarre town called “craziness”. I will never ever get used to Monty saying “warder”, “scooder” and “Hainds”.
  • Christmas in the summer – No, no no! No matter how lovely the carol services are, or how wonderful Santa looks in his giant throne in Westfield; no matter how awesome I am at creating an Aussie pavlova masterpiece, or how my Christmas ham is a delight. Christmas in 40 degrees of heat is unacceptable! Blinds closed, air con to max, a pile of M&S mince pies your aunty had shipped for you, and bed socks on; it’s the only way to do an Aussie Christmas. (After a little jaunt to the beach to get burnt obvs!)
  • Sharks – Sharks really do deserve to be able to swim around freely in the ocean, and yes we’re invading their space, but jeez they give me the willies, and I just can’t bear it. I’m desperate to learn to surf, but I know I’ll get eaten. I’d love to dive, but I know I’d have my arm bitten off…  If only we could politely ask them to allow us to have a little paddle before they need their lunch! I spend every Sunday morning, standing on the beach, watching my two taking part in Nippers, hoping that there are no hungry Great Whites out there about to pounce on my babies! Why oh why did I agree to get updates from ‘Dorsal Shark Reports’?

It’s become blatantly obvious to me, I was wrong, we are not the same. In no way at all are Brits the same or even similar to Australians. We do everything differently, from pouring beers, to the language we speak. That is in no way a criticism, it’s a fact!! We’re very, very different.

I adore Australia, I love the beaches, I love the weather, I love the lifestyle, I love the road trips. I love the trees, I love the birds, I love the wombats (and their cube shaped poos! I know right!), I love the bbq’s. I love the opportunities here, I love their pride, I love the children singing the national anthem at school. I truly love the blatant honesty of the Aussies. I love the way they don’t take any s**t from anyone. I love the way they fight to the bitter end. I even secretly love the way they have a tendency to bollock other people’s kids.(Could you imagine that happening in Tesco’s?) I love the dreadful TV shows, I love the endless sport on TV, I love the passion they have for their teams.  They are honest, fair, incredibly, no… insanely, competitive, and much bigger drinkers than us (even though they wouldn’t admit it). All the things that make us so different are the reasons why I love it here, why the whole family love it here, and why I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else right now.flag_australia_004Olivia xx

How can we help?

Firstly, can I say thank you for checking us out, and finding out a bit more about what we do!

We have been overwhelmed by the number of people who have been following our journey.  It’s been heart-warming to have so many people get in touch to say they have loved our blogs, and then looked to us for advice on making their move abroad a reality .

We are delighted that you have come here to get some of your questions answered!

What can we offer you?

We offer honest, down to earth advice on what moving abroad is all about! We are not migration agents; we are not a removal company, and we can’t get you a visa. We can however tell you how we managed to start our adventure, the good, the bad, and the downright ugly parts of getting away and being far from home! Let’s face it, just getting around a supermarket with the children is like negotiating a minefield, so moving abroad is a big step!

Why talk to us?

That’s a great question! We are an ordinary family, who have made the leap and moved abroad. We have travelled a lot together, and we know just how manic but seriously rewarding it can be.  I was lucky enough to grow up in a mixture of countries including Germany, the UK and Abu Dhabi, and then I married a man in the Navy! This means we know what it’s like to pack up, we know what your heart is doing, and we also know you will not regret it! We’ve done it enough times.

We have had a ball, and would love to advise, encourage, and assist in your decision making; or even comfort you when you’re feeling a little overwrought.

We want your emails, your questions and even your stories if you’d like to share them.

We promise that you will get a brutally honest answer to whatever questions may be playing on your mind! It doesn’t make a difference where in the world you are moving to; the issues we advise on are usually the same issues we stumbled across, only we had no one to ask!! So whether it’s schools, supermarkets, cost of living, or even just asking where the best beaches for kids are, we can help!

I’m not moving to Australia so how can you help me?

Don’t panic, if we really can’t answer your question, we have advisers based in 10 different countries including Hong Kong, the UAE, the UK, and parts of Europe.

So, don’t be shy, all questions are welcome; no matter how random you think they are, we’ve probably been asked it before!!

Email us now ( olivia@thewilsonsofoz.com ) or send us a message through our Facebook page and let ‘The Wilsons of Oz’ guide you through the bedlam to a new, exciting life abroad!

I really look forward to hearing from you,

Olivia xx 


Where Troubles melt like Lemon Drops! (A mum’s guide to moving)

As a mother of two children who have been moved around a lot in the past few years, I know first-hand how challenging it can be for them, and for us. (Believe me, Tim has come home from work to a semi drunk, angry, warthog wife on many occasions.)  What seems like a huge adventure to us adults, can be daunting when you’re small. Monty had only just turned three when we left the UK. He wasn’t fully aware of what we were doing; he was more interested in getting on the plane, his headphones on, the movie started and gorging on a cheese board, than where we were going. Poppy was 6. She had no front teeth, a sweet little bob haircut, a beautiful English accent, and was as pure as the driven snow. She was the one who understood she had to say goodbye to her first friends. She waved farewell to the only school she had known, the teachers, her grandparents, her home. This is colossal when you’re six, not only saying goodbye to everyone and everything but also comprehending that. It’s a big deal. We all think the kids just adapt, and yes they do to a certain extent, but who knows what they’re really thinking? We tried our hardest to prepare them, showed them maps and pictures; told them what we would be seeing, talked in comedy Aussie accents, researched the schools. We watched countless YouTube clips of boxing kangaroos, and even bought vegemite for a pre Australia feast! Monty was an enormous Marmite monster and was horrified by the whole Vegemite catastrophe. Oh how the tables have turned!

You can try to prepare your children until the cows come home, but sometimes it’s the feeling in their hearts that you don’t anticipate and just can’t coach them for.

Poppy has always been our ‘home bird’. She knows what she likes and she likes what she knows. Moving to Australia was pushing it for Poppy, but we knew it would be the best thing for her in the long run. We knew we had to go with the flow, weather the storm and pray! Thankfully, she took to it like a duck to water, and two years in, a serious tan, an awkward obsession with boys, and a handful of meltdowns, it’s as if she’s been here forever. I thought it may be a good opportunity now we’re ‘settled’ in Melbourne, to ask Poppy her opinion on moving, being the new girl, and the challenges she has faced on the other side of the world. I’m doing this interview for my sake really, but also to show other parents who may be about to move their kids away from the lives they know and love, just what an adventure it’ll turn out to be. (Fingers crossed for an upbeat positive interview!)  Hold on I’ll just cut the power to the tv and rip her iPod from her claws so I have her full attention!

An interview with Poppy

 

How did you feel when we told you we were moving to Australia?

I felt really shocked and sad, because I’d never moved before and I didn’t know what it was going to be like. Actually it was really fun. We never did go to that waterpark you told us about mum!! (oops)

What did you imagine it would be like?

I didn’t really know. I thought I wasn’t going to make any friends, and I was scared, but actually it’s been really good.

What has been the best thing about living in Australia?

Everybody is so nice and friendly, and we have a really big house. The weather is nicer, and we can go to the beach. I go outside to play all the time, and I like all the sporty things here. Also, we go on better holidays now, and mum likes camping. (Ey? Did she say I like camping?)

Is there anything you wish we had done differently?

I wish I had gone to a smaller school in Sydney. It was too big, that was scary. I like small schools because it’s easier to make friends and you know everybody.

What do you miss from home, if anything?

I miss my friends and family the most. I miss everything about them. I don’t miss anything else. Oh no… hold on… What’s that coffee shop called…. Café Nero! I miss the hot chocolate.

What advice would you give to a child who’s been told they’re moving abroad?

Don’t be afraid, because you’ll have a great time, you’ll make lots of new friends. Also, you always have someone to talk to, your mum and dad, or even your friends back home. Sometimes you get treats from the teachers when you’re new.

How do you keep in touch with your friends? Is it easy?

I keep in touch with my friends on Skype and Messenger. I got an iPod for Christmas so now I can text and email whenever I like. It’s so easy and it makes me feel like I’m still at home sometimes. I don’t like writing letters though. I sometimes play games with my friends whilst we’re on skype, even though its morning there and night time here. That’s weird!

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

I would go back to England to see everyone.  After that I’d come back here of course.

Phew, there wasn’t a dramatic revelation about how darn unhappy she is. I think it’s a breakthrough for the Wilson’s. Just giving myself a pat on the back (fat).

It is a huge adventure, being away from home, travelling to new places, meeting new people and drinking lots of beer (it’s very hot you know, you get thirsty!). Your children may hate you for making them move, they may act like little bastards just to spite you, but don’t worry, you’re doing the right thing, just breathe, and try not to strangle them too often. It gets easier…. they tell me.

As we all move around more than we probably should, we need to be aware that initially the journey might seem a little overwhelming to a small one. Hell, it’s overwhelming to us, the exhausted plate spinners, trying to keep everyone and everything together, as our husbands go off to their new jobs and we finally realise the horror of not having a babysitter on hand!! My advice to all parents looking to up sticks and move with their little nippers would be:

  1. Go to the library and seek out picture books about adventures, travel and anything even remotely related, enjoy them as a family, not just alone, with a glass of wine once the kids are tucked up.
  2. Buy an atlas, show them the maps, buy a globe, really teach them about the destination. The good bits only, they don’t need to know crime rates, murder statistics or the rising problem of homelessness in your chosen city.
  3.   If your children are old enough, get them an address book and ask their friends to fill in their details in pencil. You can rub out the ones you aren’t keen for them to ‘keep in touch with’. High five for that little tip!
  4. Ask relatives to chat to your children about how they are feeling. Sometimes they don’t like to worry us parents, and let’s face it, moving is hard enough without constantly having to sit down and go through it all AGAIN!
  5. Arrange a party for your children to say farewell to their buddies. Hopefully your clever friends will bring handy gifts for them to play with en route, and it’s a good chance to let your hair down with people you really know. It won’t be long before you’re the ‘new mum’ getting smashed for a bit of confidence and totally over doing it, as everyone looks on horrified. Making ‘mum friends’ is tough; if the kids don’t let you down, your manic “I don’t get out much” drinking and foul language soon will. I know; your friends at home think its hysterical when you nickname them “ball sack” and “saggy knockers”. Trust me, strangers don’t find it funny… at all!
  6. Throw away all gifts of lollies, sweeties, noisy or glowing toys and DO NOT under any circumstances take them on board a long haul flight! (Trust me!)
  7. Plan some day trips to look forward to when you arrive. Believe me, you’ll need to get out; let the children kick the living daylights out of each other in the fresh air, and find the local dog poo to trudge through…in flip flops/thongs. If all else fails, at least you might find your local pub!
  8. Join some social media groups to meet people, ask questions and chat to a few weeks prior to departure. I know, it seems corny, but it’s easily the best way to get an insight into your new life, or how you’re not going to live it. Either way it can be a great way to make emergency friends for you and your children; believe me you’ll need them, and beggars can’t be choosers.

 

I guess the best advice from one mother to another is: Do anything you can to make the ride as smooth as possible for you, for the kids, and also for the people you are leaving behind. And when you’re sat on your new veranda, sipping chardonnay, the kids bickering in the background, at least you’ll know you tried your flippin’ best! What more can anyone ask for?

Olivia xxx

Someday, everything will make perfect sense. So for now, laugh at the confusion, smile through the tears, and keep reminding yourself that everything happens for a reason!

My own home chef revolution!

Out of curiosity this afternoon after the children had yet another ‘fish finger sandwich’ lunch, I looked into childhood obesity. I was stunned to read that 1 in 4 Australian children (25%) are overweight or obese (aihw.gov.au), and in the UK today nearly a third of children aged 2 to 15 are overweight or obese (gov.uk). Yes, I double checked, and looked again! It’s remarkable that in a world so set on slamming parents for feeding their children something that wasn’t sugar free, or god forbid non organic, that we have come to this. Our children are getting fatter by the minute, and their teeth are rotting faster than a corpse in the Sahara desert.

Excuse me for thinking that this is possibly down to the plethora of “advice” coming at us from every which way. As soon as you pop out your first born, you are bombarded with horrifying stories of allergies, and incidents. Tales of someone’s uncle’s, cousins, wife who weaned her baby too early and now has an elephant for a kid who has thirty-seven allergies and an epi pen sticky taped to his forehead.

You can’t eat this if you’re breast feeding, you shouldn’t buy that when you’re weaning, you must NEVER EVER let your toddler drink apple juice! It goes on and on and on. Even when your children start school and you’re miserably making packed lunches, you pray that Justin’s mum isn’t on lunch duty; what if she sees that your carrots aren’t organic and you’ve not made your own hummus, (shop bought is a no no these days), oh and you’ve slipped in a KitKat because you’d run out of bread.
We’re bombarded with messages that ring in our heads like Big Ben at midnight; ‘a healthy outside starts on the inside’; ‘Be smart, Eat smart.’ We’re forced to watch grown men, dressed like broccoli shouting slogans at us from the TV, like “I’m always in the mood to eat healthy food”. Oh get lost Broccoli Ben and pass me granny’s homemade death by chocolate. 

Why oh why are we constantly ambushed with all these highly patronising bits of ‘advice’ from companies who are blatantly poisoning us from behind their “eat healthy” message?

As an easily persuaded mum of two, I have become a dab hand at creating so called ‘healthy’ meals that the dustbin enjoys, whilst the children gorge on three-day old banana custard and toast with lashings of butter. After a twenty-minute battle with my 4-year-old to finish his rainbow chard with smashed chickpeas, I promised myself I would stop insisting on following the trends, do my best and that’s it.

I watched on as Monty urged and gagged over the loo, and thought, that’s it, I’m not going to give in to the demands of “super mum” or “green granny” or even the yummy mummy’s at the school gate. I’m making a stand. I’m not prepared to spend endless hours blending, chopping and mashing a daily rainbow of vegetables, making animal faces out of grains or turning meals into murals, so as they can be thrown in the bin or regurgitated down the loo. I’m going back to the old me, pre kids, where I cooked and ate what I really enjoyed, the meals I remember from my childhood. I was healthy and had a varied diet, full of the nutrients I needed. Unlike now, 8 years’ post-partum where I am seriously lacking vitamin D, my iron levels are beyond a joke, I’ve got acne and my stress levels are through the roof. I blame all of this on one thing. The ‘Critical Crew’, the “Quinoa Queens” and the “Soya Sisters”.  The mums who positively shudder when you say the kids had egg on toast for dinner. “What? Gluten? Excuse me? No greens?’

I’m not sorry that my children don’t like parsnip and harissa fritters with a sprout and avocado dressing. They don’t like spaghetti hoops from a tin for goodness sake. There is no way I could get either of my children to gobble up a salmon fillet with a smile on their face, even if it had been submerged in Nutella first.  I’m fed up of creating names for meals that omit the “yukky” ingredient; I’m not calling Calamari ‘Spanish chips’ anymore!

This year I will be making lasagne as I love it, with pasta (full of gluten), rich red wine infused beef, and a mountain of crispy cheese of the dairy variety on top! I’ll be making stir-fry’s, bangers and mash with veggies and lashings of gravy,  chicken pies, homemade curry with rice, cakes, stews, Sunday roasts, cooked breakfasts, bubble and squeak!! I won’t be cutting out this, substituting that, or limiting anything. I won’t need to.  I’ll be cooking like my mum and dad did, and their parents did before that. I’ll be cooking healthy family meals, with no one sitting on my shoulder ‘advising’ me on how to add lentils to my already brilliant shepherd’s pie or make my morning porridge using Quinoa because oats are from the devil. The statistics speak for themselves; parents just don’t need so much input when it comes to feeding their children. It’s overwhelming, confusing, and mostly downright unhelpful; resulting in our bins getting full and our kids get fat.


Family chefs, be true to yourself, you know what’s right, you know what’s good, you know your children. Don’t let our little ones become confused about food and health and therefore miss out on the enchantment of sitting at the table with loved ones. If we don’t teach them that wherever we are in our lives, the family dinner table is the most wonderful place to share time, no one else will.

Don’t let anyone tell you anything different. Here’s to the true home cook’s revolution.

Join me in using the #homecooksrevolution

 

All great changes are preceded by chaos!

Six weeks!! We’ve survived the first six weeks in Melbourne. I may sound surprised by this, that’s because I am! The summer holidays was never going to be an ideal time to move, especially as Christmas falls slap bang in the middle, but we have survived…pretty much alone!

We arrived in Melbourne, in a rain storm, the skies were grey and to be honest I was dreading it. I spent about a day thinking “oh shit, we’ve done the wrong thing” and “everyone was right about the weather’, then the clouds cleared and the angels started to sing! We love it!  We really, really love it! We picked a great location to settle. We can walk to the beach, walk to school, walk to the train, it’s brill. It’s almost surreal how friendly and downright bloody wonderful the people are.

We have learnt that Christmas on our own at home is probably not going to be repeated. Christmas is just the wrong time to be away from everything Christmassy you have ever known. Christmas is not Christmas without a dark, cold morning, a thick dressing gown, that Christmas smell ( you know the one.. the cinnamony, pine tree one), and that nervous excitement that your drunk old aunt might say something really outrageous at lunch. It’s family time, it’s getting everyone together, playing games, laughing, eating too much and drinking even more. This Christmas was not like that at all. The first few hours of opening gifts, eating lashings of Nutella on toast and downing prosecco was fine; even a few ‘odd’ hours on the beach surrounded by lots of families (granny and all) laughing and hugging, and well… just being bloody family like, wasn’t too dreadful. It was when 3 o’clock hit, and I brought a feast to the table, in the style of my idol Nigella, (minus the heaving breasts) enough to feed about 18 people, that’s when the crapness crept in. Monty had passed out on the sofa clutching his remote control car, so it was just the three of us at the table. No sooner had I plated up, Poppy had cracked her cracker, practically poured her lunch off her plate straight into her mouth and asked if she could leave the table and go out to play with her friends. So Christmas lunch, enough for a small army, was left for Tim and I to tackle alone, whilst listening to Monty snoring on the sofa, like someones very drunk uncle Bob.

Table for 1!

Thank god I had worn my ultra stretchy trousers, the pavlova for 12 went down beautifully, even after 45 roast potato’s (well they were super crunchy) and almost a whole Christmas ham! I had completely forgotten the neighbours had invited us over for a drink later in the day! I had to Vaseline my whole body so as I could slide into something that blatantly didn’t fit, and pop next door to meet more new faces and drink more beer. I honestly resembled a sweaty pink toad, you know when they puff out their bubble chin!

This wouldn’t have been so bad if this wasn’t the same neighbour who had rescued me when I managed to lock myself and the kids out of the house on day two of being in the street….. in my smallest pyjamas… When I say pyjamas, what I really mean is a teeeeeeeeny pair of shorts (only legal in the dark), and a baggy vest top with no bra. Nothing like making a good first impression. And second…..

So thankfully Christmas is over, and the summer holidays are coming to an end. The pressure to entertain the children, feed them real food, not just gummy worms, and keep the house tidy is becoming too much. We have crammed so much in to the last 6 weeks, I am almost spinning in my shoes. We had an awesome day at the Big Bash, the first cricket game we had taken the kids to and they had a ball… (sorry!) We had a fab day at The Melbourne Museum, Monty was in his element! We raced into the city to Slide the Square. We went to Philip Island to see the penguins and the koalas, what an unbelievable day! I was thrilled we got home without a penguin hiding in Montys backpack! 

We have even popped our cherry when it comes to Aussie camping. I know, I know, you feel like you want to cheer for me, pat my back and shake my hand. I was proud of myself too. Two nights in a tent, in 35 degrees of heat, spiders, mosquitoes and no power was never going to be easy for me. The rest of the Wilson’s absolutely loved it, they didn’t mind the dried mud between their toes, grass in their beds and their hair all furry. I would have rather shaved my eyebrows off and had my nipples pierced. There’s still time! Tim is threatening to buy even more camping equipment and make me go again. I have suggested it would be great bonding time for him and the kids, so maybe I should stay home and make time to really scrub the bathrooms. Here’s hoping.

So, we made it, we’ve settled, and we’re ready for school! We’re ready to make more friends, join some clubs, and maybe just maybe some adult time for me and Mr W if we ever find a babysitter.

We never dreamt another move would be easy for any of us, but dare I say it, this feels like the best move yet!! Fingers crossed for some more adventures, lots more exploring, and heaps more happy times ahead! A new chapter begins!

And suddenly you just know it’s time to start something new & trust the magic of beginnings.