Jingle all the way to Sovereign Hill’s Winter Wonderlights!!

WW27

Christmas in July is a crazy one! It feels like Christmas, it looks like Christmas, but it’s not actually Christmas. We of course embrace any opportunity to celebrate Christmas twice a year, so we whizzed out to Sovereign Hill to experience the famous Winter Wonderlights.

You all know we love Sovereign Hill. The authentic streets, the horse and cart rides, the trips deep into the mines, panning for gold; it all goes toward making their Gold Rush experience second to none. Monty of course mostly loves the horse poo scattered about the road, and especially on Monday as it had been raining, making it far more sludgy and spectacular.

The Winter Wonderlights was by far one of our top experiences in Oz so far. We arrived early so as the children could have another search for some gold, take part in the craft activities and watch a couple of shows in the Victoria Theatre. We bought hot chocolates with fudge and freshly baked sausage rolls to munch on, we kept warm by the crackling fires along the streets, and mummy drank mulled wine! (I wasn’t planning on driving home). It was completely Christmassy with the snow falling around us, and then the Carol singers started. Well, I was catapulted back to my childhood, I could almost smell the mince pies and pine needles.

We waited eagerly in the cold (and I mean brrrrrr cold) for the lights to be switched on, gobbling the most wonderful gingerbread men. I was so glad I’d ignored the “why on earth are you taking hats and scarves to Australia?” when we packed our lives up in 2015. I’d forced the kids into their jumpers and insisted on them wearing coats. Even though I carried Monty’s most of the day, he was pleased to have it by 5pm as his body was going blue.

The carol singers came to an end at about 5:45, and the huge chimney lit up with the tale of the “Gingerbread Man”.  The magic had begun! The street came alive with music and lights and there was a loud “ooooooooh”… This was definitely worth the chilly wait. It was spectacular. All the building’s on the main street were glowing perfectly with Christmas themed lights projected onto their facades. It was really beautiful. The children were thrilled to be chasing the gingerbread man who kept popping up all over the place. The music, the lights, the children’s laughter, the entire atmosphere, all went toward making this a truly unforgettable evening for our family, and all the others around us. If only we had known about the overnight 4 star accomodation we could have avoided a tantrum, two overtired kids in the back of the car and a tense diversion through the McDonalds drive through!! The Wilson’s need in on the 2 days for 1 next year!!!

Sovereign Hill does it again!!!! Awesome in every way!


 Opening hours

Sovereign Hill- 1st July – 30th July 10am-7pm

Gold Museum– 9:30-5:30

Sovereign Hill Entry, including Gold Museum and Wonderlights

Sovereign Hill recommend visitors spend at least 4-5 hours to get the most out of their visit.

Adult  $59.50
Concession  $47.60
Child (5-15)  $27.00
Family (2 adults & up to 4 children)  $150.00
Single Parent Family (1 adult & up to 3 children) $107.00
Children under 5 admitted free. Red Hill Mine Tours are free.

Book Now!!

Christmas in July Packages! (yes you can stay overnight!)

Getting there is easy!!!

2 days for 1


STARS OF THE DAY: All the staff at Sovereign Hill are pretty awesome!!

★★★★★ “It is soooooo Christmassy, it reminds me of Granny’s house” Poppy- Head of the Fun Department- Wilson’s of Oz

★★★★★ “I’m so glad we waited in the cold cold cold” Monty- Director of Entertainment- Wilson’s of Oz

★★★★★ “By far one of the best family days out” Tim- Office Dogsbody – The Wilson’s of Oz

★★★★★ “Literally cant wait for next year! Loved loved loved the Wonderlights” Olivia – Captain of the ship – The Wilson’s of Oz

 

Free Family Sundays at ACMI – You’ll be kicking yourself if you miss out!

Another massive weekend for the Wilson gang! Definitely a cracker though!!

On Sunday we headed into town to have a peek at what ACMI had in store for this month’s ‘Free Family Sunday’. The Wallace & Gromit and Friends Exhibition has just opened so we knew we were in for some fun Aardman attractions.

My two nippers love all things Aardman so it was best behaviour all morning in anticipation. (That’s unheard of BTW).

acmi14

Free Family Sundays at ACMI (first Sunday of every month) let everyone and anyone dive into the museum free of charge. How awesome is that!! Due to the take-over by Aardman at the moment there was plenty of Stop! Motion Animation fun to be had.

First stop was Studio 1 where the children were able to immerse themselves in a world of ‘Claymation’, and have a heap of fun playing about with the green screen. The staff were really hands on and Tania made sure Poppy was in exactly the right position for the perfect shot. Monty was a little mystified by the whole thing and stood to one side, allowing his sister to go solo. She loved it!!!

Next we headed into ACMI’s cinema to watch Chicken Run. I’m ashamed to admit I had no idea there was a cinema here, and was pleasantly surprised at how brilliant it was. It felt really special to be in the Australian Centre for the Moving Image actually watching a film. I will be taking the children back for sure… in fact….. I may even go alone!! Shhhhh.


There was no holding the kids back once the movie was over; they had spotted the Stop! Motion Animation station and were desperate to have a go. Thank goodness Ryan was on hand to explain what they had to do. The children were carefully placing the jungle animals, taking a picture, moving them a little, taking another picture. Who knew they possessed such patience?!??! I’m not sure who got more out of this, the children or Mr.W. He was frantically downloading an app onto his phone so as they could do more of this over the holidays. The next big movie is currently being made…

There were craft activities, lots of Aardman classics to see, and in the museum (which is free entry all the time), a whole host of movie memorabilia and so much to learn about the history of moving image.   The children absolutely loved the old school video games, and Minecraft of course!!! They were flabbergasted at what the movies used to be like in the “olden days” and we even managed to spot “The Bg Dish” from our trip to The Parkes Observatory!!

Sadly time whizzed by and we missed out on a trip to the cafe! Shame as the food looked yum!!!

Safe to say we had a ball. ACMI is full to bursting with everything ‘motion picture’ you could possibly want. It’s wonderful for all ages, and a great chance to show the children just how far technology has come, and what really goes in to making the movies that we all enjoy!! A return visit is absolutely on the cards.

Oh, I know I say it all the time but…Melbourne, you never, ever let us down!! Another huge tick in the book for the “most liveable city in the world“.

Acmi5
Time to go!!

Free Family Sunday

Location: ACMI, Federation Square, Flinders St, Melbourne
Date: First Sunday of every month
Cost: FREE Age: 5-12
Web: acmi.net.au 


School holiday workshops 3-15 Jul

A range of animation, film making and coding workshops for your little darlings!

Next free Family Sunday- 6th August: Winter Fantasy & Fables

Shake off the winter chill at the next fun filled family Sunday, exploring fantasy and fables through games, performance and song!


What ACMI says:

“From wielding a lightsaber to perfecting YouTube videos, our Family Sundays program is a unique interactive experience you can’t get anywhere else.

Perfect for kids of all ages, we’ll take families on a journey through the moving image with themed days exploring everything from superheroes and Star Wars to fantasy, fables and gaming.

Get the frames focused, buttons mashing and clay animated as we get hands-on with filmmaking and animation, live video game competitions, crafty projects and more.”

 

I’ve lost my mind and I’m pretty sure the kids took it!

This is my 6 months in Melbourne update…. At 7 months in. (It’s getting a bit like that… )

kids5

I have been trying to get back on the “blog” but I don’t seem to be able to get time. It all boils down to being knee deep in a gazillion things, tied in with being a terrible forward planner. Well, that and the fact that the more settled we get, the more ordinary the days become. Wake up, pack lunches, school drop off, clean the house, do the laundry, go for a walk, school pick up, argument, tantrum, dinner in the dog, sofa, chocolate, bed. Repeat! (No dad we haven’t bought a dog!)

7 months after leaving Sydney and I have more grey hair than ever! I have gained about 10kg in weight (damn the cheese and wine parties) and I have also completely lost the ounce of control I had over my children.  It’s been one hell of a ride!

What sort of nutter family, move to the other side of the world, settle, love their new life… then up sticks and move another 876km to a city they don’t know? Well, we did, and 7 months in, we’re just about re-settled. We have made friends, had some great nights out, we know where things are, we have a lovely family doctor, we have finally bought enough furniture to fill the house…  Must be time for another move surely?

It’s not been plain sailing. Oh no! The children have really been pushing my buttons recently! They’re making the most of Tim being away during the week, ignoring the bedtime routines, throwing tantrums in public places, and eating more junk food than ever before. They are practically wild animals… They have no idea about give and take, which just results in them taking every last bit of my being, every single minute of every single day. This ensures Tim returns to a house of hell and three demented trolls on the sofa cringing when someone even dares so much as take a breath. There’s a marriage goal right there.

I have been home alone with the kids this week, so I have packed things in after school so as when we get home, I can rush dinner and we can all just go to bed. The sooner we’re all tucked up the better!

I took the little darlings to the local library on Wednesday as Poppy loves it there and I am desperately trying to get Monty reading.  He had other ideas. The trip to the story corner with Mummy turned into me chasing him up and down the Parenting and Self- Help aisles, smacking his bottom at every available opportunity. He was frantically pulling books off the shelves and I was trying to whisper/shout (which is really difficult BTW) but just growling “get awayyyy from the books….” like a drunk wicked witch. It ended abruptly when I stubbed my toe on the Harry Potter display table.  “Mum, you just said SHHH….. ITT… That’s shit!!” “Great sounding out buddy!!” Nailed parenting in a single moment! When we finally got home there was no wine in the house!!  I proceeded to ram chocolate down my throat quicker than a chubby kid with a hot dog, to calm my nerves… You see what the kids are doing to me!?

kids1
As if butter wouldn’t melt

I then went on to have a sleepless night, worrying that it was all caught on CCTV and I would be hauled in front of the millions of “sunrise” viewers and hailed as some sort of psychotic wildebeest who has no right to be a mother. Yes, it was one of my finer moments.

So, apart from a few of those special moments, I think I am nailing ‘Motherhood in Melbourne’. Parenting far from home is not easy, in fact it’s pretty hellish at times. The most hellish being when you have had a gut full of it, and you need a break but you don’t know anyone well enough to a) see you in this state or b) hand your savage kids to.

Usually it’s the times when you’re nearly broken, you take the kids to the park for a bit of peace and quiet you see all the grandparents on duty! I sit there, almost demolished, sipping on my G&T disguised as a coffee in a keep cup, thinking about investing in some kind of teleporting device. That way I can get the old folk here at the click of a button, and then be able to send them back before they get too comfy! (Just kidding mum, really looking forward to your visit!!!)

Even though the kids are driving me round the bend, and Tim is working away every now and again, all is dandy really! We’ve been exploring Melbourne, visiting as many wonderful places as we can nail over the weekends, and planning some exciting trips in and around Australia for the not too distant future. If my nerves can cope! (Keep it here!!)

We’ve just hit day 795 of our Aussie experience, and have 669 left until our visa expires and we’re sent packing. Sounds like ages, but if the last two years are anything to go by, we need to get organised!  Even though it felt like we left the UK in a bit of a rush, these things take a lot of planning… And a lot of chatting about. My favourite bit about any move, I love a chat!! “Shall weeeeee?? Um… No! Shall weeeee? Um no maybe not!! Do weeee? Um… not sure… What about ….? Um… Yeah…. Maybe!!”

That’s sums up our conversations; in between 90 minute bulk saved episodes of Australian Masterchef. I’m not sure it’s healthy to be living precariously on the edge of the sofa, waiting for a decision to be made about our future, but there’s something to be said for the adventure. Not knowing what’s in store over the next few years is just as exciting as it is unnerving. So here’s to the next 669 days, and all we can cram into them…I think I will be spending the rest of the day Googling “life on the other side of the expat bubble”; just in case…  Life after Oz…. if indeed there is such a thing for The Wilson’s, and if the children survive the next 669 days of course!!!

Parenting is saying the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Oddly enough that’s the definition of insanity! Coincidence? I think not! – Unknown

parenting

Olivia xx

Circus Oz- Model Citizens

 The Wilson’s battled through the Thursday night traffic, with much moaning and groaning from the back seat, to make it to the Big Top at Birrarung Marr in time to see Circus Oz performing ‘Model Citizens’. We were bursting with eagerness to get through the doors. I’m thrilled to report it was absolutely worth the road rage and the 3 little arguments. This was the first Circus Oz performance we have seen, and the first show under it’s new artistic director Rob Tannion. 2017’s spectacle focussed on how to be a ‘Model Citizen’ down under. The show gives us all a glimpse into ‘run of the mill’ life in Australia and what it really takes to be a true model citizen.

circus oz

The set was every shade of blue you could picture. The entire cast were on stage, dressed in remarkable costumes, like a troop of pre-programmed ‘conformity’ dolls. The show had started and there was no going back. We were hit with acrobatics, aerial swings, front flips, back flips, stunning movements on the silks, sheep running about the stage being chased by a sheep dog. At times it was madness, but we were hooked.

 

For me, the most fascinating and mind boggling parts of the show had to be both Jarred Dewey’s trapeze act and his ‘contortion irons’. His strength and flexibility were unreal up in the air and when he was creeping around the stage with large steaming irons attached his feet, bending his body like nothing I have ever seen.

Olivia Porters eerie juggling act gave the children the creeps, but was clever and moving. Poppy was mesmerised by the hula hooping goddess that is Freyja Edney, I was just incredibly jealous, and was adamant I was going to get myself a hoop or five. (Still haven’t BTW.)

Luke Ha’s balancing act on top of a tower of credit cards was brave. He stands high above the stage, taking terrifying selfies before tumbling to the ground in a ‘mountain of debt’.

Monty’s favourite performer, Mitch Jones (or the pink man with the tattoo arm… as he is now known) performs a daring mid-air pyjama straitjacket escape, after his nightmare of being trapped in suburbia counting sheep. I could see the children’s eyes like dinner plates, watching as Mitch swung precariously above the audience, desperately wriggling his way to freedom.

Jeremy Hopkins’ “Weber song” (in the tune of Waltzing Matilda), made us laugh and cringe at the same time. His ‘missus’ drinks wine straight from the box wearing nothing but an apron; as he sings “And he sang as he washed off the grease and lit the mozzie coil: who’ll come and worship my Weber with me?” Genius!!!

 

The kids loved the oversize scissor hoop jumping, the bouncy giant peg, and the matchbox boat which is rowed out of the sky and on to land, by Mitch using two giant matchsticks.

 Alex Weibel Weibel is the legend who manages to stay out of trouble whilst spinning madly in a web of tangled ropes, only to hop up on top and play his violin whilst tightrope walking. Mind blown right there.

For the adults, Model Citizens is a mix of incredible strength, clever circus skills, politics, humour and a true show of coming together to make life work. For the children it was more about the fire eating, the trapeze, the high kicks, the juggling, the knife throwing, balancing, handstands, the tattoos, the pink hair, hula hooping, and umpteen people flying through the air at break neck speed in a pair of giant undies. I could hear the children gasping, their eyes shining bright like little light bulbs, mouths wide open like goldfish. Is there anything better than that?

As an expat in Australia, living life precariously on a visa, it was interesting to see the circus take on the idea that in order to become a citizen in the lucky country, you must conform to a certain standard.  ‘Shape up or ship out’. Model Citizens is a little political, a little moving, a little terrifying at times, but definitely a whole heap of wonderful.

Both acts are staggering and Model Citizens is definitely ‘edge of your seat’ kind of entertainment. Grab the kids and get over to the Big Top…. Now…..

“Be the ringmaster, it’s your life”- Life is a circus

 


Our Stars of the show:

Jarred Dewey & Olivia Porter

★★★★★+★ “The best show EVEEEERRRR” Poppy- Head Talent Spotter, The Wilsons of Oz

★★★★★ “I love the pink man, the sheep and the big undies?” Monty – Director of Entertainment, The Wilsons of Oz 


All the info:

Model Citizens – Circus Oz 
Dates: 20 June – 16 July 2017
Duration: 2 hours (including 20 minute interval)
Venue: Circus Oz Big Top
Location: Birrarung Marr, Melbourne (between Federation Square and Batman Avenue)
Tickets $30 – $95 (plus booking fees)
Bookings: ticketek.com.au

Show the circus some love:

Credited with revitalising a traditional art form in a uniquely Australian way, Circus Oz is a rock ‘n’ roll, animal-free circus that has influenced the development of circus arts around the world since its foundation in 1978. Circus Oz undertook its first and critically praised international tour in 1980 and has continued touring to over 100 cities and regions in 27 countries – playing to over 4 million people.
Twitter @circusoz 
Instagram @circusoz

A Good Time For All.

Circus Oz’s flagship program shares the joy of circus, making a meaningful difference to the lives of many in our community who are facing financial, cultural or societal barriers.

A donation of $120 provides tickets for an entire family to experience Circus Oz under the Big Top.
$45 gives one person the opportunity;
$1,200, a whole community;
and $40,000 will provide free tickets for an entire Big Top audience.

Please, please donate today!! 

Photo credit Rob Blackburn

The Wilson’s took flight on The Melbourne Star Observation Wheel!!

There’s no doubt about it, the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel stands proud in the Melbourne skyline, and so it should. It’s a beauty, and only one of four giant observation wheels in the world, hence why The Wilson’s were desperate to get on board.

We hopped on a tram to Docklands, which to be frank is the rear end of Melbourne (in my humble opinion).  You go to Docklands is to visit the wheel, or to go to Artvo; then you get back on the tram. (Melbourne is one of the world’s most beautiful and vibrant cities, and when there is soooooo much better on your doorstep it hard not to be a spoilt brat…!)

Once we’d herded the kids past the ice creams and through the rather grand gates, we were shuffled in to have the obligatory photo. You know, the ones where they superimpose fireworks behind you and make it look like you’re having a smashing time, before you’ve even experienced the attraction. The photos that I always love and Mr W always refuses to purchase!! So, after a quick “Cheeeese” we were sent on our merry way to queue for the “flight”. We chose a good day as we didn’t have to queue long at all; I was surprised as the weather was magnificent, and it seemed like an ideal afternoon to be up in the sky. The staff were all great and we even managed to get a few cheesy jokes from the man checking our tickets. The kids were rolling with laughter as we headed into our shiny cabin!

The view from the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel is pretty much what you’d expect from a 40-storey observation wheel parked “behind” Melbourne and right next to the docks. The first ten minutes don’t really give you anything apart from a view of lunchtime in Costco. However, if you can ignore the shopping centre roof tops, the car parks, and all the air conditioning units glistening on top of the buildings below, then you will enjoy this 30 minute flight.

Once you gain some height the views across the water of Port Philip Bay, toward the Mornington Peninsular are stunning.  Although the docks aren’t very pretty, they managed to bring back fond memories of our arrival in Australia and the much anticipated wait for our own container. The breathtaking sight of the Dandenong Ranges and the You Yangs Regional Park, is a huge plus to the flight.  The children enjoyed using the map alongside the compass in the roof of the cabin, and we all found the facts about Melbourne and the wheel interesting. The panoramic views from our bench made it easy for us all to see, and there was plenty of space for Monty to roll around on the floor having a little meltdown 23 minutes in.

The commentary throughout, tells you of all the beautiful sights that Melbourne has on offer. You are almost taunted with tales of elegant Victorian buildings, which are out of sight,  the wondrous MCG, which you can’t see, and the laneways, which are hidden in amongst a maze of towering buildings. In fact, you can’t see many of the famous sights that Melburnians hold dear.  Is that a let down? A little. The Observation Wheel definitely isn’t in the right location to highlight Melbourne, but it does do it’s absolute best to highlight everything you can see. What the Melbourne Star gives you is a tranquil trip, together with your loved ones, above the waterfront precinct, and the buildings of this utterly wondrous, awe inspiring city;  and I bet, if you went at night, with the buildings below in darkness, and all the twinkly lights of the city guiding you through the sky, it would be an incredibly romantic, and truly unforgettable experience!

Melbourne Star at night

‘Once you have tasted the taste of sky, you will forever look up’ – Leonardo Da Vinci


All the info

Opening times: 365 Days a Year!!

May to August 11am – 7pm daily
September to April 11am – 10pm daily

Christmas Day and ANZAC Day 1pm – 10pm

Location: 101 Waterfront Way, Docklands, Melbourne

Ticket Pricing: Information on ticketing is all here, There are so many different options to choose from, so check them out!

Whats On??

Skate & Fly these school holidays.

Free game of Glow Golf  *on landing.

starwheel9
Pretty happy to see the Lego wheel in the gift shop, made by the incredible Ryan McNaught AKA The Brickman ! 

 

 

Holey Moley the hangover was worth it!!!

” THEY’VE SET THE PAR HIGH WITH THIS ONE. GET READY FOR THE CRAZIEST ROUND OF MINI GOLF YOU’VE EVER PLAYED.”

Wow, Sunday completely disappeared whilst I lay in bed nursing an whopping Gin/Mini Golf hangover. What a night we had at Holey Moley!

For those of you that don’t know about the awesomeness that is Holey Moley, let me tell you; you haven’t lived until you’ve picked up a putter here! Yes, it’s true, you can mix an insane game of mini golf, (or putt putt putt putt putt if it’s me playing), with incredible cocktails and pumping tunes. Imagine the fun we had.

As expat parents, it can be tricky for us to get out of the house without the kids in tow. Thankfully this weekend we had them chained to the kitchen sink so as we could enjoy some free time without the wretched little beasts. (Don’t worry, we organised a babysitter).

We walked through the doors of Holey Moley with hoards of keen ‘par-tee’ people, the DJ was blasting out some rad tunes, there was a great vibe, and we were ready to hit the course, and the bar.

All the holes are cleverly thought out, well named, and heaps of fun. I started badly, not managing to get my ball in Hole 1 without kicking it, and after more and more trips to the bar, I got worse and worse. This absolutely didn’t ruin the fun, if anything I was entertaining the group. We spent a lot of the time doubled up laughing, trying to get our balls around all sorts of crazy obstacles including piles of croquet mallets, nana’s mobility walker, and a group of gophers. There was a Pac-Man hole, a Wizard of Oz hole (personal favourite), even “Blaaaarghbie’s Scream House” which was littered with beheaded barbies and dolly prams. Spooky!!

Saturday night was really busy, there were parties and large groups, couples enjoying date night, and small groups of friends like us. I noticed a real mix of ages too which is pretty cool! No matter how busy it was, we never felt like we were waiting long for our turn, and the game ran smoothly, even with trips to and from the packed bar. The only annoyance of the evening was that my team mates were doing really well, getting plenty of holes in one, and smashing the course as I was struggling to get my bright pink ball anywhere near the flags.. “How many shots was that Olivia?” Thank god for the Caddy Shack Bar  and their delicious refreshments. (You can check the bar menu here.)

Holey Moley claims to be Australia’s best mini golf course. Par none!! I reckon they may be right!  This place a must visit, in my humble opinion!

We ended the night, visors on, score card filled, drinking Espresso Martinis and gobbling pizza. Come on… Life doesn’t get better than that, surely!!


logo

Location: 590 Little Bourke St, Melbourne VIC 3000

Tel: 1300 727 833

Opening Hours: Monday to Friday 12pm – late, Saturday & Sunday 10am – late

Prices start at $16.50 per person for 9 holes

Party info is all here!

Holey Moley are open in Brisbane and Melbourne, coming soon to Adelaide and opening on the 6th July in Sydney so get booked in!!!

Expat parenting when anxiety joins the party!

So the big questions on this expat mum’s mind today are: Do our children suffer from being moved around? Can mental health issues become exaggerated with life abroad? How do we, as expats deal with our emotions when we’re far from home?

Initially I thought we were giving the children a great opportunity to be immersed in a different culture; a different way of life, to experience another country; however, it is slowly becoming clear to me the longer we are away, we may have done the wrong thing. Not just because of the upheaval, or because of the country we’re in, but because parenting in difficult, emotional situations when you are far from help and home, is almost too much to bear! (Yes, it’s been a big week in the Wilson household). Sometimes you just need the familiarity of home to help you in times of need.

Frustration

You all know we love Australia, we are head over heels in love with Melbourne and we have beautiful friends here. No matter what though, expat life is not easy, and adding an anxious child into the mix means I worry that we’ve made a mistake taking her away from a stable, familiar life.

I love the Aussie competitive nature, the ballsy personalities, the ‘no holds barred’ attitude, the “if you don’t like it…TOUGH” way of dealing with things, but not when it comes to people’s emotions and especially those of my children. I can’t help but think that those personality traits that I love, become ones that I find loathsome when dealing with children struggling with anxiety.

Would I have moved abroad knowing that my child would be made to feel like a baby for being nervous or anxious?  Would I have left home only to feel alone and overly sensitive when dealing with such a fragile child? The answer is, I’m not sure I would have taken the risk.

Before we moved I hadn’t given our emotional well being much thought. I had assumed (naively) that the way emotions were treated would be fairly similar everywhere. I assumed that whatever happened we could deal with it together as a family. I guess I hadn’t recognised just how much my family and friends did for us; emotionally…

What I really have trouble with is the lack of compassion in everyday life. Is compassion disappearing across the world? Will our children slowly lose the ability to be compassionate if they are not receiving compassion at the time when they most need it.

My main bugbear with the lack of compassion today, is how anxiety is dealt with, and how as an expat family we are struggling to deal with it; mostly alone. Anxiety is very, very real. A lot of people assume the kid hiding in the back of the classroom is just being a baby, not pulling their weight and should be trying harder. They’re making the mornings awkward by crying at the door; not getting involved in classroom discussions because they’re lazy; they’re being difficult by not grasping what they’re being taught straight away. I’m not sure that the severity of how anxiety affects a child’s whole being, and how it can damage their health as well as their education is fully understood. It seems impossible for some to comprehend that the confident, popular child in the playground finds the thought of separating from their mother, so distressing it makes them physically sick! Like I say, it’s very, very real.

I vividly remember the headmaster at Poppy’s first primary school, coming out of the door as soon as he saw her in the morning, grabbing her tightly by the hand, a kind, warm smile on his face, leading her in to school. The tears and upset leaving me, turned into happy waves as Mr Miller took her straight to her friends. He took a small step to take a huge weight off her shoulders and eased her happily into her day, which from then on started with a smile. A small gesture with a huge impact.

All it takes is a pat on the back to say “I understand and I’m here”, a smile, a wink, or a little note in their book asking if they need more help with something, rather than a scribbled message saying they’re just not good enough. Small changes, gentle persuasion and a warm hand would make the most incredible difference to an anxious child, far from home, and it’s so easy to do.

No matter the age of an anxious person, they should never be told they are “too old” to be behaving the way they are, or to “get on with it” like everyone else. The daily struggle, battling with their demons and their insecurities would be enough to stop a grown man go to work let alone a small child face school. The fact that some children even get to school is a huge achievement. If only we could create more compassion and a deeper understanding of what so many children and adults are going through, we could go a long way to helping sufferers of anxiety realise their potential, and believe in what they can achieve.

So for us, as an expat family, maybe the experience of mixing raised emotions with expatriate life will turn out to be a great big learning curve for us all, but one thing is for sure, we will be approaching every day with compassion, together, one step at a time, wherever we are in the world.

“Living with anxiety is like being followed by a voice. It knows all your insecurities and uses them against you. It gets to the point where it’s the loudest voice in the room. The only one you can hear”- Unknown

Anxiety


 

The truth about anxiety (taken from Kids Helpline)

High levels of chronic anxiety can reduce your child’s capacity to respond appropriately or effectively to stressful situations, or even normal routine activities. A highly anxious person for example may experience constant physical feelings of panic and may seek to avoid anything that might trigger their anxiety such as:

  • being alone
  • going to school
  • talking in front of a group

Anxiety symptoms may be overlooked especially if a child is quiet and compliant. As a result, they may not receive the help and support they need, which may lead to problems with anxiety in adolescence and adulthood. Anxiety commonly co-occurs with other disorders such as depression, eating disorders, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).


The Statistics (Taken from Youth Beyond Blue)

  • Around one in 35 young Australians aged 4-17 experience a depressive disorder.
    Breakdown: 2.8% of Australians aged 4-17 have experienced an affective disorder.  This is equivalent to 112,000 young people.
  • One in 20 (5%) of young people aged 12-17 years had experienced a major depressive disorder between 2013-14.  
  • One in fourteen young Australians (6.9%) aged 4-17 experienced an anxiety disorder in 2015. This is equivalent to approximately 278,000 young people.
    Breakdown: 6.9% of Australians aged 4-17 experienced an anxiety disorder in 2015. This is equivalent to 278,000 young people.
  • One in four young Australians currently has a mental health condition.
    Breakdown: 26.4% of Australians aged 16 to 24 currently have experienced a mental health disorder in the last 12 months.5This figure includes young people with a substance use disorder. This is equivalent to 750,000 young people today.
  • Suicide is the biggest killer of young Australians and accounts for the deaths of more young people than car accidents.
    Breakdown: 324 Australians (10.5 per 100,000) aged 15-24 dying by suicide in 2012. This compares to 198 (6.4 per 100,000) who died in car accidents (the second highest killer).
  • Evidence suggests three in four adult mental health conditions emerge by age 24 and half by age 14
    Breakdown: Half of all lifetime cases of mental health disorders start by age 14 years and three fourths by age 24 years.

Where to go for help 

**Your GP should always be your first point of call…

UK

No Panic: 0844 9674848 Youth Helpline 0330 606 1174 (for 13 to 20 year olds open Mon to Thurs 4pm-6pm)
Helpline for anxiety disorders, panic attacks etc. Provides advice, counselling, listening, befriending and can make referrals. Local self help groups and produces leaflets, audio and video cassettes.

OCD Action: 0845 390 6232.  Information and support for Obsessive Compulsive Disorders (OCDs) and related disorders including Body Dismorphic Disorder (BDD), Skin Picking (CSP), Trichotillomania (TTM) – compulsive hair pulling.

TOP UK (Triumph Over Phobia)The OCD and Phobia Charity: 01225 571740
UK registered charity which aims to help sufferers of phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder and other related anxiety to overcome their fears and become ex sufferers, run a network of self help therapy groups.

Australia

Headspace : 1800 650 890

Free online and telephone service that supports young people aged between 12 and 25 and their families going through a tough time.

Kids Helpline :1800 55 1800

A free, private and confidential, telephone and online counselling service specifically for young people aged between 5 and 25.

Useful Websites

  • www.calmclinic.com – information relating to anxiety, panic disorder, stress and depression
  • www.dailystrength.org – Online community support for anxiety, mental health, and health related conditions.
  • www.haveigotaproblem.com – free resource for mental health and addiction issues created and run by the Tasha Foundation.
  • www.healthyplace.com – Information and support for those suffering from anxiety (American site).
  • www.menheal.org.uk
    A website for all men who suffer from depression or anxiety from all round the world.
  • www.nomorepanic.co.uk – Information for sufferers of panic, anxiety, phobias and ocds. Includes chat room and message boards. Also information relating to insomnia.
  • www.patient.info – Self help guides under Mental Health leaflets on panic attacks, phobias,anxiety,stress, obsessional compulsive disorders, relaxation exercises.
  • www.stressbubbles.com – struggling with depression, anxiety, mental health, some great healing tips from someone who has suffered with these issues herself.

We went WIIIILD at Wild Buggy!!

WB2

Saturday was looking like it was going to be stressful! Poppy’s team lost their netball game, Monty was in a foul mood and trying his best to ruin everyones day, and I was thinking we had probably chosen completely the wrong weekend to go on an adventure. Turns out no body wants to go “ANYWHERE”.

We were in the car, on our way to Heatherton and no one was talking to each other! The kids didn’t know where we were going, I’d kept it a secret, however I was ready to have my own little tantrum and leave them strapped into the car to go ‘buggying’ by myself.

We pulled into the car park, and in front of us was Wild Buggy, Melbourne’s driving adventure park, and it’s terrific track. There were hills, obstacles, huge splashy puddles, logs, stairs… The children gawped out of the window, eyes like two little owls; a buggy went flying past, and in chorus they said “I’m so sorry mum, can we go? Can we go?” It took all my might to stop myself telling them to stick it and make them sit there and watch Tim and I rocket through the course…

Once we were in, the kids had their safety briefing, both listening intently I may add; I filled out the forms, they were hair netted up, helmets on and eager to get into the bright blue buggys!! I was secretly wishing I was having a go too!

Each of the kids had an instructor sat next to them, guiding them round the course, and helpfully tapping the brake to stop them careering off into the grass. Thank goodness!!

The track has been upgraded recently, and looks amazing! There are tight twists and turns, a sheer faced wall, and plenty of lumps and bumps to get through. However, with the awesome instruction the children were able to get around it easily, pick up some speed and get airborne too. Can you imagine their faces?!

Monty is only 5 and Poppy 8, and they nailed it. I thought they may struggle to control the vehicle, or not be able to reach the pedals, but it was all good. The seats were adjustable, the seat belts held them tight, and they were soon dashing past us, over the rocks, up and down the stairs, and splashing through the puddles, madly cheering as they went.

Once they had run out of time, Tim and I got a treat and hopped in to have a test run! Now I really got to see what all the screaming is about. I am blatantly the better driver out of the both of us, so I took it steady to start with, just to get an idea of what I needed to do! My instructor Veronica guided me through, yelling “foot down, foot down” just at the right time, so as I could make the most of the track. Tim just smashed it in true ‘boy’ fashion! I didn’t tell him he was good of course!

Driving through this kind of terrain, through the water, and along the wall, is not something you get to do every day, and it’s not usually something that small kids get to try at all. Wild Buggy really is a fab experience for all ages and abilities, and I promise, you will be at “Gold Parent” status, for at least a few hours afterwards!!


Stars of the day: Aaron, Indrek, Rauno & Veronica!!

★★★★★ “The best thing I have ever done” Poppy- Head of The Fun & Games Department, Wilsons of Oz

★★★★★ “Can we go again, again and again a bazillion times?” Monty – Director of Entertainment, Wilsons of Oz 


All the information you need!!

Location: 433-453 Boundary Road, Heatherton, 3202, VIC

Tel: 1300 945 328

You can go on your own, as a group, or even have a birthday party at Wild Buggy!

Click here for pricing  details.


Say “YES” to new adventures 

The Big Freeze – Snow is coming to Melbourne!

the big freeze

Winter in Australia is the time of year when I get all miserable and terribly homesick! I’m pretty sure it’s because the weather isn’t as glorious as it is the rest of the year, and the leaves dropping from the trees transports me momentarily to the English countryside.

Winter 2017 down under is well and truly on it’s way. We have just over a week until it officially hits, but I’m already wearing fluffy bed socks and trackies to bed and the electric blanket is getting wayyyyy more use than the sexy undies…(I know, I know, Mr W is a lucky man!)

This winter in Melbourne we have so many wonderful things to celebrate, and get out into the cold for. The main attraction for The Wilson’s being The Big Freeze Festival. It’s a great way to experience the snow without actually forking out on a skiing trip!

The school holidays for me are always a mix of trying to keep the brats occupied, finding well priced entertainment, and juggling all sorts of different epic adventures to out wit other mothers. Lucky for me, and for Melbourne, The Big Freeze Winter Festival is returning! *I’m fist pumping and almost perfecting a twerk!

 


 All the info you need if you are joining us on this snow filled, icy, adventure:

This year the festival will be divided into two areas –

The Winter Precinct (ticketed)

This section will include snow play, snowball toss, snowfall forest, winter village, snow globe photo booth, polar bear slide, kids’ active challenge, circus skills workshop, construction play, art’n’craft activities and the brand new snow slides which will be two different heights to allow more children to enjoy the thrill of the ride.

The Community Precinct

This section will be free for the general public and will be hosting daily stage shows, an activity zone with Phillip Island Nature Parks, sports with Milo, food vendors and more.

Tickets are on sale NOW!!!!!

Great discounts apply for larger bookings, so organise your mother’s group or school friends to all attend together and enjoy the savings.

  • When: Saturday, July 1 – Sunday, July 9
  • Where: under the Big Top (and protected from the weather) at Fountain Gate Shopping (Cnr Princes Hwy & Brechin Drive)
  • Time: Winter Festival sessions run three times each day. Community Precinct open from 9am – 5:30pm daily
  • Cost: Free entry into Community Precinct. Winter Festival has a number of ticketing options available including a Child Superpass $29.50 (that includes a 4 Park Pass to Phillip Island Nature Parks valued at $28.50), Adults $19, Family $92 and extra savings for some afternoon sessions.

Check out the website for more info or just go right ahead and book your tickets here!!!!

Watch a video of all the action that’ll be hitting Melbourne

Find The Big Freeze on Facebook and give them a follow to keep yourself updated!

The Big Freeze Instagram is a great place to see all the fun that’s coming!!

If you would like to win a family pass to The Big Freeze Festival follow us on Instagram! The competition will be running from the 1st June!  

We are like a snowflake, all different in our own beautiful way- unknown

Sorry mum, the judges made me do it!!!

We get asked lots of questions about our decision to move to Australia. Why did we move all this way? Had we been here before? Did we know anyone when we came? Do we have family here? The truth is we’d never visited, and we didn’t know a soul! There’s only one real reason we chose Australia as our ultimate destination, and I’m pretty sure we’re not the only ones to have done this!

It all came down to a good few years of wintery nights, snuggled under a blanket on the sofa, chomping on Quality Street, listening to the rain outside; watching Australian Masterchef! Yup, it’s true, we chose to move to Australia because we were reeled in by Matt Preston, George Calombaris and Gary Mehigan. They pretty much personally invited us! From that fateful day when Julie Goodwin walked away with the title we were ready to up sticks and move to Oz!

logomasterchef

Tim and I sat and watched series after series, we’d store them up and have Masterchef marathons, almost wishing we could hop into the TV for a taste of that life they were all living. We longed for a supermarket like Coles, with it’s abundance of shiny, almost pretend looking fruit and veg, and immaculate stores. We wanted fish markets with people practically throwing oysters at us. We wanted markets like South Melbourne and stunning wineries where we could sit and relax after a day in the office; because that’s what Aussies do!! We wanted the beaches, the weather, the coffee shops, the restaurants, the food, the wine, the house, the glam friends, and the neckerchief… All that, and I was desperate to meet Maggie Beer. (Still hasn’t happened by the way!) Tim managed to get to series 6 before giving in and job searching in the Southern Hemisphere.

We can’t be the only ones?

There must be other people who have chosen their ultimate destination after being lured by a tv show? Surely we’re not the only family to have upped sticks and flown across the world because Channel 10 forced us to. There must be others who have been tempted somewhere by the ‘Masterchef lifestyle’?  For us Masterchef was like a high end immigration advert for Australia; to be honest they should jolly well stop showing it in the UK if they don’t want mass migration!

When Dallas was first aired in 1978 I wonder if people were madly hopping into their beaten up old Robin Reliant’s and heading to the travel agent in search of a bit of JR Ewing’s lifestyle. The Stetson’s, the shoulder pads, and the hairspray! What about Eldorado on TV in the UK  in the 90’s? Come on!!! I bet people flocked to the Costa Del Sol in search of Los Barcos in the hope of a new expat life, of tanning, twin sets and sundowners.

 

Sat on our sofa in Somerset, we were sure that the ‘Masterchef life’ was real; it was everyday Australia, and we wanted in on the action?

Well, it turns out Coles isn’t as shiny as it looks on the telly; and I can NEVER find what I want! Matt Preston isn’t readily available to hang out with me on a Saturday foodie session in town as I had so hoped he would be, and no one has whisked me off for a behind the scenes tour of the Cobram Estate Grove because my dinner last night was incredible and my plating was spectacular! Unfair right!!!!

I haven’t managed to fly in a hot air balloon over the Yarra Valley yet, or take my stove down to the Melbourne Rowing Club and cook a roast dinner in the blazing heat! But, (and it’s a big but….) 2 years into leaving our loved ones, we can see that the ‘Masterchef life’ that we were yearning for is here, it’s what we’re living, right now; only there’s no out of the blue appearances from Nigella!! (More’s the pity.)

We shop at beautiful markets, we have wonderful seafood at our fingertips, great restaurants, coffee shops to die for, and wineries dotted all around us. We can go on foodie tours, hot air balloon rides, visit distilleries, and even go to The Press Club and be cooked for by George after all..

Whether it’s crazy or not, we got hooked, almost like someone somewhere was putting Adriano Zumbo in front of us, week in week out, just pushing us toward this sweet life we are embracing!  I have no doubt that falling in love with a TV show is a great way to find your perfect destination.

So put your custard creams down, pause the telly, jump onto google and start investigating. You never know how far the next series will take you!

 

As soon as you start to follow your dreams, the sun shines brighter, the flowers smell sweeter and everything has more meaning – Olivia xxx