The Expat ‘Mumcation’!

Are you dreaming of a childfree vacay with your gal pals?

Are you desperate to say goodbye to the laundry and school run, and lay by a pool, sipping Manhattan’s like an extra out of Sex in the City with your long lost mates from back home? Isn’t it about time you took a break and spent some quality time with your friends, minus the hubster and the kids? A relaxing break, being all classy and beautiful? This could be the chance to really be you again, to rekindle old friendships long left behind?

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Well, it turns out when the media were telling us ‘Mums’ that we all deserved.. no… needed a ‘Mumcation’ they were thinking of classy trips to the local winery, or Yummy Mummies sipping Chardonnay in hot tubs chatting about Florence’s ballet lessons. They weren’t thinking about the millions of Expat mums who would be rushing to the airport, gagging for a bag of pickled onion monster munch, clutching their passports, heading home for a week in the pub with the girls.. I’m here to fill you in on the reality of  The ‘Expat Mumcation’…

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The reality of an Expat ‘Mumcation’

I’m currently ‘drying out’ in Hong Kong airport after my very own Expat ‘Mumcation’, and let me tell you, it’s not pretty. I’m sweating, my stomach is churning, I’ve got the shakes and the bags under my eyes are way more impressive than even the best Louis Vuitton cases.. My fake tan has almost completely disappeared, my perfectly shaped eyebrows have started sprouting, and I have just broken a nail. My hair is greasy, my jeans are way too tight and I have a broken tooth. I feel (and look) like the guys out of ‘The Hangover’

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Just over two weeks ago I gleefully waved farewell to my two little darlings in Melbourne and headed off on a ‘Mumcation’ to the UK to celebrate the wedding of a dear friend. I had just under three weeks of freedom ahead of me and was pumped, preened, waxed, and feeling tip top. Having planned this trip for months, I’d had time to give myself a good talking to about my behaviour on my upcoming trip.

“You’re an adult Olivia, there’s no need to go crazy”

“It’s important that you’re sensible Olivia, you have two small children who need you”…. 

Well. It turns out that when you go on a ‘Mumcation’, whether it’s in Barbados, Benidorm or Bognor, you just can’t help yourself. I joked about behaving like a 14 year old, but totally lived up to it. I was child free, I had a wad of cash in my pocket and the barman was gonna get it… “double G&T’s all round”…. oh dear god…. Even typing that is making me queasy.

I had landed at Heathrow after a 26hr trek from Melbourne, squeezed my ‘besite’ and headed to Windsor for a “quiet night” before Saturdays Hen Do… After a very civilised dinner, lots of giggles and catching up, we decided to have a walk before bed. Turns out the local pub did 2-4-1 cocktails, so we had 18.  At 3:45am we found ourselves down some back alley with a bunch of 17 year olds, smoking and begging the bouncers to let us in an already closed nightclub. It wasn’t pretty. I was free as a bird, for the first time in ages and my behaviour was, quite frankly, unacceptable.

The outcome

19 days later and it turns out my liver isn’t thanking me for the 2 whole bottles of gin, 27 tonics, 4 bottles of prosecco, 6 bottles of Sav, 102 Sambucca shots, 34 tequila shots, an entire tube of Mango flavoured Berocca and one whole box of Alka Seltzer. My heart is barely pumping due to the 29 pork pies, 18,000 Cadbury chocolate buttons, 22 Menthol cigarettes (I don’t even smoke) and about 72 packets of Salt & Vinegar Squares.

I lost count of the cans of coke I guzzled (wtf) just to get over the hangovers.. My dentist is going to poke me in the eye. I ate scampi and chips about 8 times.. because my daughter misses it?? Do you see what I’m getting at? Most mums will get together with their local friends, pop to a hotel in the city, have a few too many, totter back to their room, and get up for a leisurely brekkie, before making their way home to their little darlings. When your best friends are 10,000 miles away, there is no “weekend break” it has to be at least two weeks, involve binge drinking and excessive calorie consumption. You basically have to make up for the 3 and a half years you’ve missed out on, when it comes to food, drink and shopping. *whoops.

The truth

The truth is, we all need to see our friends, spend time with them, and make the bloody most of it while we’re there, because it doesn’t happen very often. If that means almost dying in the process, well, hey, it is what it is… You know what though.. No matter how useless my body is, lying here in my tiny bed at the airport, no matter how many wrinkles I have added to my forehead, no matter how wrecked my organs are, I would do it all over again… No matter how much my heart ached for my babies, no matter how much I missed my husband, no matter what I may have missed out on, I wouldn’t change a thing.

We laughed, really, really laughed. We laughed so hard it hurt. We sat round the table and shared meals together after years apart. We talked for hours about our children, our lives, about everything. And, we laughed a bit more. We had time to be us. We spent time doing things we wanted to do, without time restrictions, play dates or bedtime routines. I watched my friend marry her love, and we all ugly cried to Oasis’ Wonderwall at the disco…

I guess what I am trying to tell you is that when you take your ‘Expat Mumcation’, do it in style, because it’s over in the blink of an eye, and you’ll be back on the other side of the world, reading “The Tiger Who Came To Tea” thanking your lucky stars you did it…. and survived… 

Make a Wish come true this Father’s Day

Father’s day is fast approaching, and if you’re anything like me you’ll be fed up with the racks and racks of crap mugs, horrid ‘Best Dad’ underpants and depressing plastic crap that will inevitably be in landfill two weeks today.

Do you want a better way to show dad you love him whilst doing your bit for an incredible charity? Well look no further.

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Introducing a fantastic Father’s Day gift idea that supports Make-A-Wish , in granting the wishes of critically sick kids.

Father’s Day is a perfect time to celebrate all the wonderful dads out there and thank them for everything they do. Make-A-Wish Australia and Tarocash have joined forces to launch a Father’s Day pack filled with custom made essentials to make your dad feel super special.

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The new range is only on sale for the month of August (** you have a week left) with a portion of the proceeds made going towards Make-A-Wish. Come on Australia, get on board, walk straight past the obvious Father’s Day rubbish, and buy a gift that Dad will love and will really make a difference.

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#WishForce #WishesfromTarocash

When ‘big things’ happen – An Expat Dilemma

Living far from home

I often use the phrase ‘living far from home,’ in fact it’s one of my favourite hashtags! However, it confuses even me. I also tend to bang on about ‘home’ being where we are together, where the children and the Mr are. Home for me is where we live, work, play.. so therefore ‘home’ is Melbourne… isn’t it? Ah the Expat existence! Today I’m mulling things over so I thought I’d reach out for your advice.

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Does it matter where we consider home to be?

Probably not. Is it possible to have more than one home? Yes, I think it is. Why am I homesick when I am at home then? Can you see I’m battling with myself?

So many expats are ‘living the dream’ down under, living their “best lives” all tanned and throwing Aussie slang into their convo’s; yet lots of expats live this Australian life of sea, sun, snags, and surfing with…. regret, homesickness and longing.. Guess what! I’m one of them.

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No matter how long we’ve been here, it hasn’t got better.

I don’t pine for the UK, I don’t miss ‘Britain’, I’m not craving monster much crisps, or proper gravy. I don’t miss the rain or the M25..  I pine for my friends. Those life long friends, those college friends, the friends I made when I first became a mother. The friends who know me inside and out, the friends I can be my real self with.. The friends I call when things get tough. I’m craving the time spent with cousins, the children really knowing their relatives, their godparents and their long lost friends they left behind.

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Grandad

You may or may not have heard I lost my beloved Grandfather this weekend. He was a  my absolute favourite human.. *sorry kids.  Losing him has sparked a weird sense of unease about our expat life. Losing this dear, dear man has made us question what we are doing so far away from our loved ones.

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This loss to our family has made our house eerily quiet, our hearts truly heavy and our minds dance all over the place. How long do we sacrifice our ‘connections’ to live under sunnier skies? How many years do we want our children living 24hrs away from the people who love them most? How much longer do we miss out on time with our friends? How many more Christmases do we want overseas and not sitting around the fire with a mulled wine and loved ones? Does Aussie life bring us enough to sacrifice so much?

Living on the other side of the world has its perks don’t get me wrong, it’s just every time I try and justify this beautiful life, I find myself saying “yeah but we have that at home” and “yeah but if we were doing that at home we’d be with X, Y and Z.”

I’m forever second guessing… everything!

I’m not second guessing because we are unhappy in Australia, I am second guessing as I can’t help but feel that we have been away long enough, and now we need to be closer to our village. When things go wrong, or sad things happen, I feel a pull toward home. I immediately make overseas phone calls, I send emails and messages across the pond, and right now, it’s making me feel like that’s where we should be. Permanently.

Living as an Expat in Australia, comes with so much adventure, and being in Melbourne, the most liveable city in the world is such a blessing. We have so much more at our fingertips here down under, but is that enough to be giving up all we had at home? Shouldn’t life’s adventures be enjoyed with the people we love, the people who know us best, the people who miss us too?

So, where does this all end up? Who knows. Can we really do the big pack up? Could we really repatriate back to Blighty? Would we even be happy or have I got my rose tinted specs on? Have you done it? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Beach bums

Olivia xx

 

Asda are”Smashing” packed lunches for the UK!!

ASDA_BTS-UK18Since Smash Enterprises smashed their way into the UK, they are making shopping for lucnch gear a whole lot easier for frazzled parents to cope with.  The Wilson’s are huge fans of the collections, and every year we crush on them a little more than the last! *How do they do that??

UK friends, hold your breath!

You are about to get their newest range, hitting ASDA stores from today!!!

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This skate look is pretty cool for all ages!!

Asda are stocking brand new Smash products right now…..

…which your kids are not only going to love, they are going to be begging you for! Every base is covered, from unicorn lovers to dinosaur fans, to your more grown up “style conscious” kids. I know first hand how hard it can be “it has to be a BLUE DINOSAUR WITH GREEN LEGS MUMMMM” Yes, more awesome stuff for on the go eating, for even the fussiest kids around!

Stop the press…… **The sequins!!!!!

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Smash are experts in Back to School! We know what kids need at different stages of their school life, and we know what parents expect from the products they buy. Parents love the reliability of Smash.’  – Smash Enterprises

Summer is well and truly here for the UK (how hot has it been??) and it’s the perfect time to get some of that Back2School stuff done before the kids are on holidays and whinging in your ears. Buying all the ‘lunch gear’ as soon as it hits Asda means that not only have you ticked one chore off the list of many, the kids can spend the summer holidays outside exploring nature, and eating on the go with one of the funkiest lunch collections on the market! Come on, we all love the kids going outside to play…..all day!

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Have a lovely day son!!! *locks door behind him

When the kids and I saw this new Asda collection from Smash, we knew that it would be a hit. There’s a design for every child, the drinks bottles have great new matt colours which are really funky, and Smash have come up with even better ways to keep your kids food fresher than ever before. We love the gel packs for keeping food at the right temperature, and the magic lining that makes sure the germs are kept at bay! Happy mum right here!

If your job title this summer is ‘person in charge of lunches’ this is where you can get ahead of the game, and nail a Back2School job too. Let’s be honest we all have a love/hate relationship with the constant holiday food consumption, so why not grab an awesome new lunch box and serve up ‘packed lunches’ every day this summer. *Lunch that they make THEMSELVES!!! What’s in the box is what they get, FULL STOP!

 

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Asda will be stocking this brand new range of awesome Smash products from 10th July.. That’s today!! Like… NOW!! There’s no excuse to miss out!

Throw the kids at Granny and head to Asda before they sell out. Stock is limited so don’t wait until tomorrow! This Aussie born lunch style is not going to be around long enough for you to leave purchasing until the last minute.

Show your kids your “Smash Attitude” and be one of the first parents in line for this new range.

Olivia xx

Coles sell out of scones as Expats stockpile for their Royal Wedding parties!! *Kidding (can you even buy scones in Coles?)

Before we go any further… Coles have definitely not sold out of scones, or cucumbers.. So your party will go ahead as long as you don’t wear out your flag waving, butter spreading hand before Saturday!

Are you one of millions of Expats across Australia going nuts for the upcoming nuptials of possibly the most bizarre (but gorgeous) couple on the planet? I feel like we’ve only just got over Eurovision and we’re straight back on it with the flag waving and frantic public displays of patriotism!

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Kevin Cruise going all out for Eurovision!!

I would love to say I am all over this wedding, but I feel very disorganised. I’m almost beginning to panic.. As if I’ve got a real invite. *Trust me, I would have been on a massive diet if I had!

I feel like maybe I should have made as much effort as my expat friends, but…. I just haven’t. I don’t have cupcakes waiting to be baked, I am not planning on whipping up cucumber ‘sarnies’ and a cream tea and I probably won’t be attending any parties, although I think at last count I had been invited to 6. Yes 6! Not because I’m popular just because all 6 of my friends are having parties!

Watching the world (and Australia) in particular going all out for this wedding makes me wonder whether Expats become more patriotic and possibly more Royalist once we’ve left the country?

Us expats are marking our territory, and making sure you all know Meghan is going to be “OUR PRINCESS”! We want to make it bloody clear that (although she’s American, and we’re in Australia) she belongs to us Brits now and we’re gonna throw the biggest bloody party in our garage (because that’s where the big telly and the beer fridge is) with beef snags, (because that’s all we can get) and loads of our expat mates, because like I said, we’re BRITISH and we own this bloody wedding!

I wonder if we would all be frantically covering our houses in bunting, buying new outfits and getting Meghan loves Harry tattoos if we were living in Berkshire? Would we be charging into our local Tesco’s in Guildford demanding the highest quality cucumber for our “Royal Wedding Party”? Would we be buying job lots of these ‘Hazza and Meggie’ cozzies for all our girlfriends if we were back in Blighty?? Brrrrr just the thought of it… Is Britain going as nutty about this as us lot overseas?

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Here, in the land down under, Brits in their thousands are gearing up for a mammoth ‘sesh’ in front of the telly on Saturday night! Please don’t forget though we will not be listening to the legendary Huw Edwards charming us through every step of the wedding, we will be watching Aussie coverage of the Royal Wedding! This has enormous potential to turn out to be an infuriating 6 hours of drunken Aussie students being interviewed on Pall Mall holding inflatable Kangaroos! Yes, it may leave much to be desired if their current coverage from Tower Bridge is anything to go by! *Please prove me wrong Channel 7!

When Kate and Wills got married in 2011, I had a party at my house and wore a shirt made out of a Kate Middleton tea towel,” – Edwina Bartholomew from Sunrise

I totally love the magic of a royal wedding.  The costume, the carriages, the surprise attendees.. “Whaaaat, Elton isn’t invited”… (I’m sure he is btw). I love the precision timings, the tabloid gossip and the ‘sheer class’ that only the British can bring to a Royal Wedding. In the UK it will feel very different to here. The ceremony doesn’t get going until 9pm Down Under, so we’ll have waited a lot longer than the UK, and the anticipation will have been building..aaaaaallllll day!!

At 8:59pm we will finally see the bride and at 9:00pm on the dot we will be glued to our screens as she walks down the aisle at the wedding of the Century (sorry Kate)! Union jack flags covering the house (and the ute), and G&T (*make that beer)  fuelled women in ballgowns and tiaras, passing out in their living rooms before Meghan utters the words “I do”…

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So Harry may be funking (yes that says FUNKING as in FUNKY!) up the Royal Household by marrying a super hot American ACTRESS who has been divorced… **GASP, and the Royal family may be curling their toes in their brogues as they walk into St Georges Chapel on Saturday, but I think it’s wonderful, and it seems like a bazillion other expats do too! If only Clarence House could arrange an overnight wedding next time so as we can watch it with our breakfast…in bed!!

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Hi Honey, I’m home- Forever

I opened Google this morning and it told me that there are 258 days remaining until the end of the year. Thanks Google, you’ve reminded me that all those things I have promised myself that I would get done in 2018 aren’t moving as fast as I’d like, and it’s woken me up to just how blinking fast this year is going!

So, just over 100 days into 2018 and The Wilson’s are ten months off the end of our visa! Yes ten months!! I know!! I can almost see it sitting on the horizon, sarcastically beckoning me toward it.. Bastard!! It’s insane. Ten months left until we need to vacate the country. Well… we get 12 weeks after that date to officially get out before we become illegal immigrants, but yeah, we’re on a tick, tock, tick, tock,  countdown right now.

I guess like most families who came to Australia on a 457 visa, (before Mr Turnball abolished it.. Thanks Malc!) we kind of assumed four years away from home would be enough, and we’d be ready to go home. Or, if we weren’t ready to go, we would have at least put some plans in place to stay for a while longer…. Um…. *insert tumbleweed! We have no plans as yet; we have no contingency plan if we don’t get extended and I literally have no idea what we will do or where we will go…. (I can hear some of you muttering “this woman is insane”) Truthfully, this really only came up in conversation in the car this morning with just ten months to go.. ‘What the actual @£$%’ I hear you say!

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I know! It seems a little irresponsible not to plan or prepare everyone for the possible big life change ahead, however I’m still in the ‘live for the moment’ stage, ‘running around in my underwear because I’m so excited to be here’ stage; and I can’t for the life of me snap out of it. I’m telling myself “hey, it may never happen, let’s just go to the beach and not think about it” and “ah well, if it’s gonna happen we may as well make the most of life in Oz and go out for dinner… and NOT talk about it”…   therefore allowing the thought to slip to the back of my mind for a while longer; because if you don’t talk about something it doesn’t happen right?

Potentially however, we have ten months left until we need to go! Ten months until our practically native Australian kids have to move again. *Truth: Every time we stay in a hotel Monty asks “how long are we living in this house Mum?” In ten months time, we may have our passports in hand, and be heading off to pastures new.. or old, back to our friends, my girl gang, who knows?

I just took a sip of water and glanced up at my friends faces smiling down on me from the last postcard they sent from the UK! A sudden gulp! Honestly, just over three years ago, whilst we were hugging, and wailing as they were waving us off on our adventure, I remember distinctly telling everyone (myself included) “it’s not forever, it’s only four years… If that!!”

However now, sitting here, the kids at school, friends round the corner, things planned, work life thriving… it’s hard to imagine leaving Australia. It’s hard to imagine going through all those goodbyes again, only this time with our new found friends.

The uncertainty of living on a visa and not being secure in the knowledge we can stay is a huge thing. Even though I push it to the back of my mind, it’s a big deal for any expat family.

Living life as an expat is such a treat. We get to explore,  see new things, and experience new adventures; but part of me wonders whether the time has come for us to be thinking about a ‘forever home’ for our family. A place that the children can say they’re “from”… A place that we can settle, properly settle in, put pictures up on the walls without worrying about the landlords reaction, plant what we like in the garden, paint the walls whatever colour we like, and design a space for our growing family. Somewhere we can stay and know that we’ll not be moving again. Part of me thinks that maybe the children need to be more settled. Maybe we all need it, but I don’t think any of us really want it!

Having said all that, the thought of having a ‘forever home‘ terrifies me. The thought of buying a house, moving in, and thinking “right that’s it, we’re here!” makes me come over all cold. I hear people saying “oh we’ve just bought our “forever home” and before I congratulate them, all I can think is ‘you poor, poor thing”. Forever stuck in one place seems so final..

Maybe I’m frightened to settle somewhere because it’s not in my nature. Maybe our family is supposed to keep moving. Maybe that’s what’s written in our stars! Maybe I’m scared to make life so static because it means long distance friendships are definitely a forever thing. It means guaranteed travelling to visit loved ones, rather than the comforting possibility of one day relocating to be closer. If we decide on a forever home, it means one way or another, we’re closing one door, and locking it tight and I don’t want to do that! I like the idea of being able to move when we want, go where we want, experience life somewhere else if we want to. I like the romantic idea that ‘one day’ we’ll go ‘home‘, but not just yet!!!

I suppose what I’m trying to say is that for this expat family and all the others out there, who maybe haven’t completely settled on a place to stay put, or signed their life away on a house because it’s in the right catchment for high school, or who don’t seem to have any life plans that include a particular location; we actually do have our forever home. We’re already living in it. Our forever home is right here, right now, and wherever we are together in the future. Our family is our forever home! It doesn’t have to be bricks and mortar, it doesn’t have to be staying in the same place for the rest of our days, we are in our forever home all the time, no matter where on the map that may be this year!! Our forever homes are dotted all over the world, wherever we want them to be, as long as we’re together.

You are my home

 

Olivia xxx

‘A ship is safe in harbour, but that’s not what ships are built for” – Unknown