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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Bells Beach

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

 

Jewish Museum of Australia – Celebrating the life of such an extraordinary musician and artist

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Photo by Mark Okoh

Last week, I went to the Jewish Museum of Australia with a girlfriend, we were desperate to get in to see the current exhibition Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait before it ends on the 25th March.

The Jewish Museum is located in St Kilda, and easy to find. We headed in and straight up the stairs to the sound of Amy Winehouse’s beautiful voice in the distance.

“This isn’t an attempt to tell people what my sister was like, or what kind of people my grandparents were, or to force my opinions on you. This is a snapshot of a girl who was, to her deepest core, simply a little Jewish kid from North London with a big talent who, more than anything, just wanted to be true to her heritage.”
Alex Winehouse

Like millions of people I’m a huge Amy Winehouse fan so this exhibition was a must see for me. She was such an intriguing character and absolutely someone who got to me. I loved her music, her voice, the sound as if from another era. In my eyes she was a true talent.

Amy Winehouse (1983 – 2011) was an incredible singer and songwriter but far beyond that and evident throughout the exhibition, she was all about ‘family’;  hugely proud of her home (London) and her Jewish roots. The exhibition feels so personal. As if you’ve walked into her bedroom and you’re thumbing through her things.

The memorabilia on show feels too ‘young’ to be that of someone who has passed. The iconic outfits, giving a real sense of just how tiny Amy was. Amy’s belongings sit in a vast white space; her school uniforms, photographs of her with her friends, her records, and her guitar, all a stark reminder of a life well and truly cut short. A life filled with so much drama, yet essentially she was a proud Jewish girl with a strong sense of family and traditional values.

Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait is a personal and intimate exhibition which explores Amy Winehouse’s inner world, and the influences that shaped her career and personal life – Jewish Museum

Through this exhibition Alex Winehouse celebrates his sisters life and heritage, and allows us to explore her world and everything that influenced it. There are lovely family trees, old photos, and stories of her family who left Belarus in the late nineteenth century, and headed to London, where Amy was to grow up and fall deeply in love with her city.

Amy won five Grammy Awards and had numerous hit songs including Rehab, Back to Black, and Valerie before dying tragically at the age of 27 in 2011.

Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait honours Amy’s memory and achievements, and provides a personal portrait of her family life and Jewish heritage; things that were not always visible in her public life.

“The Jewish Museum is perhaps an unexpected venue for an exhibition about Amy Winehouse, but Amy’s brother, Alex, was adamant that this was the best place to tell her story, because being Jewish was so much a part of who she was.” Jewish Museum of Australia Director Rebecca Forgasz

Since launching in London in 2013, the exhibition has toured internationally from San Francisco to Vienna, Tel Aviv and Amsterdam, with huge success. The Jewish Museum is the only place in Australia to host the Amy Winehouse exhibition and they are very excited to share this fantastic show with us lucky Amy Winehouse fans.

Grab your tickets before it’s gone!!!


Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait

Adults: $12 (18+)
Children: Free (5 and under)
Children: $6 (6+)
Concession: $6 (students, pension card holders, Health Care card)
Family: $27 (2 adults, 2 children or 1 adult, 3 children)
Member: Free

Book Here

Opening Hours: Tues – Thurs 10am-4pm Fri 10M-3PM Sun 10-5pm

Phone: (03) 8534 3600
Email: info@jewishmuseum.com.au

Location: 26 Alma Rd, St Kilda Victoria 3182. A two-minute walk from tram stop 32 on St Kilda Rd (Routes 3 or 67).


THIS RARE AMY WINEHOUSE DEMO PROVES SHE WAS WAY AHEAD OF HER TIME: LISTEN

Ancient Oceans – Sealife Melbourne

Sealife Melbourne has a new ‘Must See’ holiday experience and we’re so excited!!

Kit Haselden Photography - www.kithaselden.com

Say a big “Hello” to this new interactive experience which allows you and the family to journey back in time, dive into Ancient Oceans and meet the pre-historic giants of the ocean. You will be taken on an adventure to discover more about the magnificent ancient creatures of the sea and get up close to some remarkable animals that have lived for millions of years. How awesome does that sound!!

You and the gang will come face-to-face with the living history of the oceans, including mysterious Mudskippers and phenomenal Pig-nosed Turtles. Seen one of those before?? No, me neither!!

Kit Haselden Photography - www.kithaselden.com‘Visit the Sealife Centre Melbourne and enter the magnificent underwater caves of these incredible creatures and be submerged into the ancient seas’

This exciting new display features immersive lighting projections creating animal silhouettes teamed with sub-aquatic animal sounds, engaging digital games and an awe-inspiring display featuring jaws of the pre-historic Megladon, the largest predator to have ever existed. Wow!!

Your little junior explorers will receive a map to guide them through the exhibit which encourages them to hunt for clues and collect stamps whilst learning fascinating facts about the ancient oceans. What a wonderful keepsake for them!

Kit Haselden Photography - www.kithaselden.com

After all that fun, you can put your feet up and watch the brand new 4D movie – Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs – an epic and thrilling sensory cinematic adventure in the pre-historic era of the mammoth ancient creatures.

I know where we’re headed this week!!! Happy holidays!


Experience: Ancient Oceans at Sea Life Melbourne – NEW EXHIBIT

Location: Sea Life Melbourne Corner of King Street and Flinders Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000

When: Now showing

Opening hours: Daily from 9.30am-6.00pm

Cost: Adults – from $33.60, Children – from $22.40 (Book online and save)

To find out more about Sea Life Melbourne’s new Ancient Oceans experience visit the website.

 

#sealifemelbourne #daysoutwithkids #schoolholidays #expatadventures #history #prehistoricseacreatures #teachthemwell #parentingfarfromhome #expatfamily

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

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Tulip Coffee – Degraves Street

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

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

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

In reality it was nothing like that!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Olivia xx

 

 

Lantern Ghost Tours – Melbourne

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


All the info 

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

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

Age – 12+

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

ContactTelephone – 1300 390 119 Message Lantern Ghost ToursHere

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

 

 

The “Bloomin Great” Ocean Road!!!!

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We finally made a trip along the Great Ocean Road a few weekends ago. We packed everyone into the car, and as per usual we prayed to every possible god that the kids would be good!

From Melbourne to Torquay, where we were basing ourselves, is about 145km so not too far on a cold Friday night. We were staying in a property in the centre of Torquay, close to shops and restaurants, which was great. It meant we had everything on hand, should we need it. The house had all sorts of wonderful things to keep us all occupied; from ping pong, to basketball, board games, skateboards and a playstation! I was especially happy as there were plenty of lovely magazines, a beautiful deep bath, and a Nespresso machine.. Me time!! Bliss! Our first night was super comfy, warm and cosy!

We woke on Saturday to glorious sunshine, we headed out, grabbed coffee and milkshakes and hit the road! Driving out of Torquay and toward the Twelve Apostles, we passed all the iconic surf beaches that surround Torquay, and promised ourselves that we weren’t going home without dipping our toes in the water at Bells Beach!

The drive was spectacular. Travelling along the Great Ocean Road is such a magical experience. That iconic Aussie road trip; the ocean almost lapping at the road side as you twist and turn your way toward to the Twelve Apostles. Even with the bickering in the back it was bliss. We broke the 150km drive with a few stops in lovely little beachside towns. We saw Koalas in the wild, peeking at us through the tourist information window (Lorne), the children played on the beaches, and we had the best pork sandwich you could EVER IMAGINE (Apollo Bay)!!!! Pretty much could have stopped right there, the trip was already a cracker!

We made it to the Twelve Apostles at about 2pm, it was incredibly busy! Obviously! You can’t come to Victoria and miss this!

We joined the other gazillion visitors and walked the path (well, Monty hopped and Poppy tripped most of the way) across the road and down toward the ocean. The wind was howling, but thankfully it wasn’t cold. When we turned the corner and caught sight of the enormous sea stack sculptures, rising majestically out of the Southern Ocean, it truly took our breath away. The pictures do not do it justice! It is jaw droppingly beautiful. The hours of endless eye spy, and arguing, was definitely worth it.

Australia has some incredible landscapes, and it’s coastline is second to none. I now completely understand why this road is called the Great Ocean Road. It just has to be on the list for one of the greatest coastal drives of all time.


Highlights of the trip

 The Australian National Surfing Museum– Torquay

You can read about our trip to the museum here

Cost: Adult $12  Student/Pensioner Concession $8  Child (aged 16 and under) $8  Family $25

Location: 77 Beach Road Torquay Victoria 3228
Tel: 03 5261 4606 |
Email: ansm@surfcoast.vic.gov.au
Opening hours: 9am – 5pm 7 days a week 364 days a year

Bells Beach

Bells Beach is the beach you think of when someone mentions the movie Point Break… Although, it turns out, the movie wasn’t actually filmed there. Why? I have no idea, as this is possibly the greatest surf beach we have visited on our travels so far. I am not a surfer by any stretch of the imagination but this beach was amazing, and judging by the number of people slipping in and out of wetsuits in the car park, this is the place to surf! We could see the ocean was flecked with surfers waiting for a wave, the waves catching them, dropping them off,  and then hurtling up onto the beach. We made our way down the wooden staircase on to the sand. The waves were crashing up right in front of us, almost wiping us out a few times. To think we were treading the sand that so many world famous surfers have walked on, is pretty special, and I just kept telling myself that Patrick Swayze probably stood here with Keanu Reeves at some point too… Well, I can dream, can’t I? Bells beach has a wonderful feel to it, and we’re definitely going to get back there some time. Probably not for a surfing lesson, I think I need somewhere a little more placid!


Top Eats:

As we were self catering and the house was so beautiful, we didn’t eat out too much; however when we did, it was ace, so here are the details…. Our top eats were:

Apollo Bay Bakery

 Apollo Bay Bakery was where we had a delicious, quick lunch, whilst being serenaded by a travelling ukulele band! How awesome does that sound? Well wait until you’ve tried the roast pork roll with crispy crackling, gravy, stuffing… Oh god I have to stop typing… I mean… The love we have for that pork roll….. Get in the car and go now!

Location: 125 Great Ocean Road, Apollo Bay VIC 3233, Australia Phone: 5237 6440

Open 7 days a week

Bomboras

Before hitting the road back to Melbourne we had a feast at Bomboras  in Torquay. Local beer and plates of yumminess! Can’t go wrong with that! I had Brisket on Rye Bruschetta with Coleslaw, Mustard & Pickles.. Need I say more.. Tim had the mussels and said they were great! Check the menu and see for yourself..

Address: 37 The Esplanade, Torquay VIC 3228 Phone: (03) 5264 7881

Opening Hours

M: 5pm-Late T: Closed W:11am-Late T:11am-Late F:11am-Late S&S: 8am-Late

 

‘Embrace the detours, enjoy the journey, explore the open road’- unknown

Olivia xx

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.

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

 

What feels like the end is often the beginning! 

Monty came downstairs three times this evening after I’d put him to bed, he never does that. It wouldn’t have been so annoying had we still been living in our single storey house in Sydney! The stairs kill me… Twice is bad enough but 3 times up and down, after a long day, with a tummy full of curry and rice! I was not a happy mumma that’s for certain! As I tucked him in AGAIN, furiously patting the covers down, almost burying him alive in the duvet, he looked up at my cross face and sweetly asked if I would lay with him! “I just want to lie next to you mummy” he said very softly, making a space for me. An enormous pang of guilt hit me; the “I don’t hug you enough,” the “oh my god he’s going to school in 3 weeks,” then the “oh my god I’m a dreadful mother”, then I had the “I just don’t play with you as much as I should”…. So I snuggled down and lay with him. I lay there looking at his face, he’s still so little, yet I expect so much of him. As I lay there beside my boy, listening to his breaths getting deeper as he was nodding off, completely contented, I began to think about how our lives are about to change. Not just a small change, we don’t do small changes!! In three weeks time he starts school. I feel a huge wave of anxiety come across me. A selfish kind of anxiety, a real worry; not for him but for me.


In three weeks time, we’ll both be taking on new roles again. (As if emigrating, three house moves, and now an interstate move aren’t enough for one 4 year old!!) Monty will be a school boy, and I’ll be…. Gosh, who will I be??? For the past 9 years I’ve been the ‘stay at home mum’, looking after who ever’s at home; apart from myself of course. Playing games, washing up, reading stories, ironing, going to toddler groups, hoovering glitter out of every possible nook and cranny. In 9 short years I’ve become an expert in creating meals that no one wants to eat, I’ve mastered the art of avoiding tantrums and meltdowns with clever negotiating. I’ve become highly trained in wiping faces & bottoms, clearing up spills and even worse. I’m a dab hand with a train set, a warrior with a nerf gun and I can completely dismantle and rebuild most if not ALL transformers. I know the name of every ninja turtle, all of Peppa Pig’s mates and the paw patrol pups. My god I sing the theme tune to Barbie’s  ‘Life in the dream house’ while I’m ironing. So you see my dilemma.

 

 


What’s going to become of me when the bell rings and both my children are in school?

Who will I be? What will I do? It may sound dramatic but I think I may have lost my identity a little, maybe even morphed into some kind of freaky adult child.

I’ve always been happy being at home with the children, and we were lucky that I could be. I’d always dreamt about being at home full time with my babies, and I would do it all again in a heartbeat. (Not literally of course!)

It’s just now, 9 years down the road, in another new city, I am being forced to think about me! Just me! What do I want to do? Where do I want to go? It may sound crazy, but it’s not something I’ve really thought about in a very long time. And to be honest it’s terrifying!

Don’t get me wrong, there are so many things I could easily fill my time with! Reading magazines, having coffee with friends, more coffee, then lunch before pick up. I could go to Pilates, yoga, painting classes, bike riding, horse riding, surfing lessons, scuba diving…. The list is endless, but maybe I need a “job”.  A job that I get paid for, and I get a lunch break with. A job that stops at 5pm sharp. A job that’s just mine, that I don’t have to share, something just for me. That’s where the problem lies. I haven’t set foot in an office for years, my brain is like a soggy egg; and that mixed with admin would be a disaster. I’m not sure I’d be very good at dealing with customers so maybe working in a shop wouldn’t be ideal. I can’t cut hair, or paint nails.. I’d love to be a nurse but I’m too old, I’d love to run a florist but I know nothing about flowers! I can’t take x-rays, I can’t fix cars, I’m not too good at knitting, sewing or fixing things in general.

So, where’s my local “stay at home mum self help group?” Who looks out for us as we head off into the big wide world with a very light handbag and not a snotty tissue in sight? Who’s going to point me in the direction of a coffee shop with no play area? Who’s going to advise me that my face is “too red” or my bum looks “too wobbly in that skirt!?”

As the start of term draws near, the realisation that I’m going to be all alone for most of the week is quite overwhelming. I know they annoy the heck out of me, but jeez they keep me busy, they make me laugh, and they always manage to show me what’s really important in life. They are literally my everything, and that’s all about to become very different for me.

So tomorrow night when the kids are playing up at bedtime, I won’t swear, instead, I’ll take a deep breath, tuck them in again and remind myself that this is all about to change. I will linger a little longer, as I know, in a few weeks time I will be tucking them in, ready to rest before a day of school. They’ll be off together, in their matching uniforms, brother and sister out in the wild alone, without me, and I will be watching them, knowing that it’s the end of an era in the lives of “The Wilson’s”.  One thing I know for sure, whatever becomes of me,  is that when that bell goes at the end of the day, I will be there waiting for them. I’ll be waiting for them to run out to Mumma; at least for a little while longer.
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Some changes look negative on the surface, but you’ll soon realise that space is being created in your life for something new to emerge – Eckhart Tolle