Find joy in the journey!

A weekend at JoyBell Cottage

IMG_1712

It seems like an age ago that we left the rush of the city behind us and headed out into the Victorian countryside. A weekend of heavenly fresh air, family time and glorious Aussie bush exploring lay ahead of us, and let me tell you, the Friday night traffic wasn’t going to get me down.

We were heading to JoyBell Cottage, a much adored, family owned hideaway near Elaine, 117km from Melbourne. Elaine is small town located on the Midland Highway between Ballarat and Geelong. At the 2016 census, Elaine and the surrounding area had a population of 228, so we knew it was going to be blissfully serene. Hurrah!

Leaving the cities in Australia is a real eye opener to just how barren parts of this country are. I love that you can drive huge distances down under and see very little sign of life, just the odd kangaroo or lonely farm house. It seems to make every journey an adventure!

The arrival

We arrived at our secluded little retreat in the bush at about 8pm, exhausted, but thrilled at the promise of total peace for the entire weekend! 

6537FBA8-531D-4DDD-BAFD-CAF341914758We were so thankful to Sam, the owner, who had left a box of treats for us, and a beautiful welcome note from her children. This sort of personal touch is what JoyBell is all about! It really is like coming home. This was a beautiful start to what was going to be a really special weekend.

The story behind JoyBell Cottage

Every wonderful house has a story doesn’t it! JoyBell is no different! You can feel the warmth as soon as you walk in, and I’m certain it’s because of the love that has been poured into this house since it was bought by Sam and her husband.

Sam and her husband both grew up in the Aussie bush and wanted to give their children experiences that mirrored their own childhoods as often as they could. It took a year of searching for the right place but they finally found their little piece of paradise and purchased this beautiful cottage. They named it JoyBell after Sam’s mother in law Joy, who sadly passed away in 2017 from leukaemia. Joy was a passionate quilter, nature lover and raised her boys as a single mum. She was amazing, and her incredible quilting talents are in pride of place throughout the cottage!

JoyBell Cottage has 5 acres, so there is plenty of room to wear the children out, or go for a peaceful walk! There is a dam where we caught yabbies (tick off the bucket list)  and plenty of room to ride bikes, explore the Australian bush and make the most of the beautiful outdoors on the doorstep!

Sam and her family have filled their lovely country cottage with Joy’s treasures, quilts and furniture, which have made it not only incredibly comfortable to stay in, but beautiful and welcoming. You can almost smell the freshly baked cookies as you walk into the kitchen.  It is a true testament to the life of Sam’s mother in law, and knowing the story, and visiting the cottage, I think the name is absolutely perfect.

If you are looking to connect with nature and each other, this is the perfect weekend getaway. If you’re looking to get the children away from the tv and their iPads, this is the place for you. If you want to explore the Aussie bush, and have breakfast on the deck whilst listening to nothing but native birds, this is the place for you. If you want to see Australia at its most wonderful, this is the place for you.

JoyBell Cottage

JoyBell cottage is a rustic Australian bush home with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a laundry room, a large family room, a games room and a kitchen diner. The decking is perfect for mealtimes, snoozing, reading, watching kangaroos hop past, and enjoying the outdoors!  It is welcoming, relaxed and ready for anyone to enjoy. Why not treat yourself to a weekend in the bush! It doesn’t get any more relaxed or more Aussie than this!

IMG_1729

‘Joy is the most magnetic force in the universe’ – Unknown

You can learn more about JoyBell and book your stay by contacting Sam via Instagram 


What’s nearby? 

For those of you who love to have something to do, when you’re done relaxing, here are a few ideas for your weekend at JoyBell.

Ballarat

Ballarat is 35-40 mins away and a hive of activity for couples and families. Check out the Visit Ballarat website for what’s on right now!

Our faves:

Buninyong – Local town

Buninyong is about a 20 minute drive from Joybell Cottage. The first thing that you’ll notice is the beautiful Town Hall and the incredible number of coffee shops! Oh and the peace too!

Our faves:

Buninyong Town Hall – If you are there at the weekend, you must pop in and talk to the members of the Historical Society. They will tell you some fascinating tales of Buninyong’s past! One of my favourite facts was that ‘Buninyong’ is the aboriginal for ‘Man laying down with his knees up’ which is exactly what Mount Buninyong looks like!!

Book Cottage – Search out this wonderful little cottage bursting at the seams with $1 books. It is run by the local Lions Club, who make you feel like a long lost friend when you are joyfully flicking through all the books you have ever wanted!

In Buninyong there are more coffee shops than you could ever use in a weekend and a well stocked supermarket. You’ll find a play park, a skate park & a parkour park! Yes kids, it’s true!! Ace street art dons the walls and the botanical gardens are worth taking a stroll through. Buninyong also has a small art gallery and an outdoor pool, although we didn’t check these out.

Mount Buninyong Winery is a whole afternoon of adventure! So many games for the whole family to enjoy, and plenty of space for the kids to get outdoors whilst you sip some local wine and eat the most delicious pizza you ever tasted! Go smoked salmon, its AMAZING!!!

 

Have a beautiful time!

xxxx Liv xxxx

Melbourne International Comedy Festival – Top 5 for the adults

Everyone loves a good night out, especially when it’s to enjoy some A class comedy sans kids, with a wine in hand! Melbourne is once again host to the worlds best comedians and I for one, will absolutely be making the most of the comedy festival this year! *My babysitter will be bathing in $50 notes by the end of April!
Here are my top picks for this years Melbourne International Comedy Festival.
Top 5 is pretty hard, and there are a stack of shows that are also on my (other) list , and absolutely should be on yours too….(including the insanely funny 50 Shades, The Musical Parody)
However, here are 5 shows that you mustn’t miss, in no particular order… Although, I do have a huge girl crush on all of the Fringe Wives so….

 

hero.jpg

Glittergrass incorporates storytelling, slapstick comedy, Dolly-dazzling outfits and a killer soundtrack played entirely LIVE by the wives themselves on banjo, accordion, uke, mandolin, washboard, lagerphone, musical saw, kazoos, the spoons (and anything else they can rustle up) with the support of a junk band rhythm section.

This timely and uncompromising feminist call-to-arms is created and performed by physical comedy queen Tessa Waters (Winner: Best Comedy Weekly Award, Adelaide Fringe 2017, Womanz/Over Promises/Fully Sik), musical comedy powerhouse Victoria Falconer (Winner: London Cabaret Award 2015, EastEnd Cabaret/Yeti’s Demon Dive Bar) and acclaimed comedian and storyteller Rowena Hutson (Winner: Most Outstanding Comedy Melbourne Fringe 2015, Strong Female Character) and this year will also feature Laura Frew (Double Denim / Director’s Choice Award MICF 2018) and Sharnema Nougar (Two Little Dickheads).

Date:  Thur 28th March – Sun 21st April (no show Mondays)

Time: Tues-Sat 9:45pm, Sunday 8:45pm

Venue:  Beckett Theatre, The Coopers Malthouse, 113 Sturt St

Tickets: $23- $32

Bookings: 03 9685 5111 or online at www.malthousetheatre.com.au and www.comedyfestival.com.au

Duration:  60 mins duration 


Marina Margarita presents Odette! Baby Daddy

Odette Hero Image.jpg

Fun, feisty and incredibly fertile Odetteis the larger-than-life cleaning lady everybody loves to love. Meet her in this award-nominated debut solo show, fresh from successful runs in Australia and the UK.
On a quest for the passionate romance that can only come from an immaculately coiffed superstar of daytime TV, Odette! dreams of shacking up with heart-throb Ridge Forrester from The Bold and The Beautiful.
After her shock elimination from the 2019 annual B&B super fan championship competition by a trick question in the first round, Odette! has broken into the final and pushed her way to the head of the queue, determined to be the first to catch Ridge’s eye.  With an arsenal of ideas to win him over, indomitable optimism and an ever expanding baby bump, her dreams seem within reach.  Until Brian, her jilted ex-lover, appears.
A hilarious new song-fuelled character comedy about dreaming big and falling hard, Odettewas nominated for the FRINGE WORLD Best Comedy Award 2018. 
Dates: 25 March – 4 April
Time: 10pm
Venue: The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Place off Lt Collins Street
Tickets: $27-$34
Duration: 60 Minutes

Tanya Losanno The Good, The Bad and the Elderly

unnamed (1).jpg

2019 Moosehead Receipt Tanya Lossano returns to the stage with a show about the reality and the chaos that ensues when you find yourself thrust from generation X, slap bang into the sandwich generation.

Tanya Losanno is a first generation Australian to post World War 2 immigrant Italian parents and has recently moved back to where she grew up, with her family in tow and is now looking down the barrel of being a carer to her elderly parents.

From feeling like she grew up on the set of the Godfather, where the weapon of choice was guilt, to feeling like she is in a spaghetti western, where belligerence is the weapon of choice, The Good, The Bad and the Elderly is about a modern day cowboy trying to look after two old school ones.

Dates: 28th March – 21st April
Time: 6pm, 7pm
Venue: The Coopers Malt House, Shell Room, 113 Sturt St
Tickets: $20-$28
Duration: 60 Minutes

Two Little Dickheads Present 

What Would Bill Murray Do?

By David Tieck

Want to have more fun in your life? Start asking yourself- What Would Bill Murray Do?

Bill Murray Do?.jpg

David Tieck is a big-fat absurdist, idiotic, stupid faced, teddy bear type person. In this new hour of silliness, Tieck is officially promising to show off at least 37 totally weird, reckless and flippantly foolish ideas, as well as possibly up to as many as profound ideas.

Taking a note from Bill Murray’s beautiful approach to life and comedy, this visceral show weaves together mischievous characters and sublime silliness with poems, songs and ridiculous joy.  Tieck and Murray have a lot in common; they both studied at The Second City Chicago, they both have brothers, they’re both survivors of horrific cystic acne and they both love to leave audiences with a new life philosophy on how to have the most fun ever.

Dates: 27th March – 8th April (no show Wed 3rd April)

Time: 18:30

Venue: Imperial Hotel, 2-8 Bourke St

Tickets: $18-$22

Duration: 50 mins

Bookings: comedyfestival.com.au

Facebook  Instagram Website


 

GARRY STARR CONQUERS TROY

Garry Starr Conquers Troy Poster.jpg

Acting was invented by the ancient Greeks. Before that people were just pretending. With the release of his ground-breaking new book ‘An Actor Pretends’, disgraced actor Garry Starr enlightens us all with the ancient art of ‘not-for-realism’, thus (once again) saving the performing arts from inevitable extinction.

Following his multi-award-winning debut in 2018 (Garry Starr Performs Everything), comic wunderkind Damien Warren-Smith delivers another anarchic drama masterclass to remember.

Damien Warren-Smith grew up in the sleepy snowy mountain town of Cooma before studying at Actors Centre Australia. Upon graduating, he moved to London where he spent more than a decade working as an actor and deviser with companies such as Tall Stories, Hull Truck and Nottingham Playhouse. In 2013, he studied at Ecole Philippe Gaulier in Paris before creating internationally renowned clown collective A Plague of iDiOTS.

Date:  Thu 28 March – Sun 21 April (no show Mondays)

Time: Tues-Sat 9:15pm, Sun 8:15pm

Venue: Tower Theatre, The Coopers Malthouse, 113 Sturt St

Tickets: $32-$24

Duration:  60 mins duration – Rating: 18+

Bookings: 03 9685 5111 or online at www.malthousetheatre.com.au and www.comedyfestival.com.au

Facebook Instagram Website


 

Have a wonderful time, and make sure you let us know about all the awesome shows you have seen so we don’t miss out!

Liv xx

I just like to smile, smiling’s my favourite – Buddy (Elf)

Jump into another world at Gravity Zone Seaford!

Last day of the school holidays and we’ve had a massive treat! We were invited to check out the new Hologate virtual reality experience at Gravity Zone Seaford.

For those of you with kids who constantly beg to be taken to Gravity Zone (yes, we’ve all been through it..) please note, the begging is only going to get more persistent with the arrival of Hologate!

Just when you think Gravity Zone cant get any better, they go and install the best new VR games they could have possibly found. Now, I’m one of those people who gets dizzy just watching kids on rides, even swings make we ill, so anything VR and I shy away. Not today! I just had to get a go on this, and it was more than exhilarating.

img-0641 (1)
The kids and I donned our goggles, and jumped straight into another world!! 

 


What is Hologate?

Hologate is a VR experience like no other. It is insanely realistic. We were all hiding from enemies, shooting snowballs like there was no tomorrow and jumping up and down like crazy folk! It’s hard not to get immersed in this other dimension! Using high-end headsets and exhilarating graphics, Hologate transported all three of us to another world where every motion felt real. You can fight dragons, have a snowball fight or problem solve your escape from a sinking submarine, so there really is something for everyone. Gravity Zone provides everything you need-just bring your sense of fun and they will do the rest!

img-0652

‘Hologate is active and physically engaging. Get ready to duck, reach, grab and spin as Gravity Zone delivers the latest in VR technology.’- Gravity Zone

Play in teams or challenge each other  

A wonderful advantage of this experience is that you can create a team of up to four players and battle it out or work together as a group towards a common goal. It’s such a wonderful treat to team up with your kids and work together to get as many points as you can, or defeat a bad dude. The kids loved this team work just as much as I did! There aren’t many games where you can all have as much fun as each other!

How long does each game last?

Optimal play time for Hologate, like many virtual reality experiences, is 10 minutes per game. Trust me, it goes so quickly!! There is no denying that the premium content will leave you wanting more so The Wilsons absolutely suggest purchasing 3 games per visit. **Super mum!

Are there age restrictions?

Hologate is recommended for ages 5+. Some of the games are pretty full on, so Gravity Zone staff are there to guide you as to which games are appropriate for which ages. My two are easily scared so we went for the less confronting games.  Shooting snow balls and chasing coins had us all enthralled, trust me!!

img-0651
Great fun for all ages!

Hologate really has brought Gravity Zone up a notch. Not only can the kids jump their little hearts out on the trampolines and have a go at Laser Tag, there is now a whole new world for them (and you) to explore. Three cheers for Gravity Zone!!!!!!


 

The summer holidays may be over but why let that stop you having fun with your kids!

BOOK NOW and have something awesome to look forward to at the weekend! 


 

With anything we are invited to, I always give you my honest opinion. This is absolutely worth the money!

THE ULTIMATE CHASE IS ON AT LEGOLAND DISCOVERY CENTRE

Well done Mama’s you’ve got through Christmas and there are only a few weeks left of the school holidays down under! The post Christmas slump makes it hard to find any motivation to get up and take the kids out. Plus… they really should still be playing with their Christmas gifts right??? Are there any children out there still enjoying their gifts?

slump.jpeg

Well, be thankful because Legoland Discovery Centre  has the most exciting school holiday programme full of awesome fun for the kids and you!

This summer it’s all about Cops vs Robbers and hey, who doesn’t love a game of that!

The kids can embark on the ultimate Cops vs Robbers chase through a world of creativity, colour and adventure. Whether they’re an officer or a bandit, kids can let their imaginations run wild through LEGOLAND Discovery Centre’s 13 fun-filled zones. Heaven right there, for LEGO© fans!

All mini cops and robbers will receive a mask and be tasked to:

  • Spot the stolen jewels in Miniland
  • Build a police car or getaway vehicle in the Creative Workshop
  • Race to see  which car is fastest at the Build & Test site
  • Explore the jail in the new LEGO City build area
  • Watch the new Officer in Pursuit! 4D movie (showing from 15 January)

lego 3.jpeg

After an exhilarating chase through the indoor LEGO playground, you can grab a (much earned) coffee and the kids can tuck into delicious Cops vs Robbers Cookies and Crown Jewel Cupcakes from the café.

Hurrah, happy faces all round!! Have a great time!!

Liv xx


logo-photo.jpg

We are heading to Legoland Discovery Centre on Wednesday so make sure you’re hooked up to our socials for all the fun!! Instagram Facebook 

The kids also have their own Instagram now, so you can catch a child’s eye view over there too!


legoland logo.png

Running from Thursday 29th December to Friday 28th January, LEGOLAND Discovery Centre’s school holiday activities are sure to keep kids entertained this summer.

Tickets are here

Opening times are here

How to get to Legoland Discovery Centre is here

Head to www.LEGOLANDDiscoveryCentre.com.au for more info!

lego1.jpeg

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.

Mums Grapevine
MumsGrapevine.com.au

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’…

mum9

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’

Hangover

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 ‘bestie’ 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… 

DINOSAURS WILL BE TAKING OVER MELBOURNE!

 

Did you hear a roar? A stomp? The Dinosaurs are coming!

Have you got dino obsessed little ones in your house? If so, we have just the thing for your school holiday diary!! The Wilsons are so excited to tell you that Jurassic Creatures is set to open in Melbourne this September. These amazing creatures will be taking over St Kilda and we’re pretty sure you won’t want to miss out.

“>Image 2

Jurassic Creatures is an exhibition with over 30 + dinosaurs that will captivate young and old alike. Explore a prehistoric world full of life like moving dinosaurs and be amazed and thrilled as the greatest creatures ever to walk the earth return before your eyes and come alive.

You and the family will get chance to learn all about the dinosaurs 165 million year domination of life on earth. You will watch them move, hear them roar, and from the ripple of their skin to the glint in their eye, you will begin to think that the dinosaurs really are back!

Apart from this amazing animatronics show, you will be able to become a Paleontologist for the day. Children will be provided with their expert digger outfit, and chip away at their very own fossil. Plus there will be many more dinosaur activities to take part in including dinosaur sand painting, dinosaur 3D Jig-saw Land, fossil displays, dinosaur inflatable activity lands, dinosaur eggs to have photos in, walking dinosaurs and so much more.

Image 3

School Holidays are coming and this looks like it may be one of those awesome holiday experiences for the whole family. Hey, it may even stop the tricky bath time questions like “Mum, why did the T Rex have such small arms?” …. “Ask Siri darling”

Jurassic Creatures is set to bring all the wonder and excitement of the prehistoric world of dinosaurs back. Get ready to be thrilled as you see Triassic period comes to life!


ENTER OUR COMPETITION TO BE IN WITH THE CHANCE OF WINNING 1xFAMILY PASS

Image 4


All the Information

Open from 15 September -14 October – Jurassic Creatures will deliver a realistic animatronics show like no other that will capture the imagination of children & parents everywhere.

The event includes:

  • A spectacular dinosaur exhibition with realistic animatronics
  • An Interactive Fossil digging area
  • Dinosaur Sand painting
  • 3D Jigsaw Land
  • Dinosaur Inflatable Activity Lands
  • Plus so many other dinosaur activities for the whole family

Melbourne get ready to feel the Dino-Roar!

JUST THE FACTS

What Jurassic Creatures

When Saturday 15 September 2018 – Sunday 14 October 2018

Where St Kilda Triangle, adjacent to Palais Theatre

Cost

General Admission $31.56. Family Ticket $99.44 (2 adults, 2 children). Under 2 year old are free – Sessions are 3 hrs each

Website www.jurassiccreatures.com.au Tickets Ticketmaster

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.

IMG_1792

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.

tarocash.png

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.

IMG_1798

#WishForce #WishesfromTarocash

“Tesco is ‘Smashing’ back to school!”

Smash Enterprises have only gone and created EVEN MORE bloomin’ awesome stuff for on the go eating in the UK!!!  We have been so thrilled with the products we’ve had from Smash so we were absolutely going to jump at the chance to tell all our UK friends about their newest range! Smash Enterprises are about to launch some super new products in Tesco, which you may like to check out.. ASAP…… Like NOW! Grab your bag, keys, water bottle (make it a Smash one), and hit Tesco’s please…

Wait till you see this…… **The caaaaat!!!! OMG!

Tesco_BTS-UK18

The end of the school year is a massive deal in the life of a kid and in the life of a parent too. That summer term is a killer! The most exhausting (and hot) term of the year, then they throw sports day in to the mix! Hellooooo! The children are tired, ready for a huge break, and in my case, I’m absolutely ready to throw all evidence of the school year in the bin, including the grumpy kids. The smelly lunch boxes and the disgusting pencil case *usually graffitied and full of pencil sharpening’s mixed with blu tac or slime. The little bits of rubbish, the scrunched up homework from week 7 and the reminder that for three weeks of the summer term your child lived on marmite sandwiches alone as the fruit is rotting in the bottom of the backpack. I have been known to open the bin and kiss goodbye to a whole heap of school paraphernalia only to regret not simply washing it come the new school year!

IMG_1174
This one comes with the lot!!

In all honestly, when it comes to my ‘back to school prep” I tend to leave it to the VERY last minute. Mostly because the summer holidays run away with me and I forget when term begins, but also because we all relax way too much and that relaxation turns our brains to jelly!

IMG_1183
Summer adventures…

However,  when I saw this new collection making it’s way into Tesco, I knew that it would definitely give me, and other UK Mums, the kick up the behind to get in early and sort out the lunch boxes for the new school year. If you’re the person in charge of school supplies in your home, this is where you can gain brownie points from your little darlings and take away the stress of “back to school”. Let’s be honest we all have a love/hate relationship with Back2School.

 

Not only have the clever Smash designers come up with some great new “only available in Tesco” designs, but they have kept those awesome features that us mums love about Smash products. The germ resistant liners, the nude food tubs to save us from the single use plastic and for those of us with older kids, the more funky styles that are so hard to come by. Anyone else have a fussy 10 yr old…? What a bizarre age that is! “I love glitter… I hate it, it’s so cool… it’s so uncool… oooh flowers…..!!”

IMG_1182
Holiday snacks

Tesco will be stocking a brand new range of awesome Smash products from Wednesday 25th July.. Yes, that was yesterday!!!! That means you need to grab your diary, NOW, cross out this afternoon’s play date, save swimming for another day, push the movies to tonight, and get to Tesco before they sell out. There truly is limited stock, it’s not a joke!

This Aussie style ‘lunch luggage’ is going to bounce out of the supermarket like a kangaroo chasing a wallaby, and you don’t want to be the only parent who forgot about the most ‘Smashing’ lunch boxes in town do you?

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

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.

Untitled design (4).png

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.

IMG_0904

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.

friends copy

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.

grandad.jpg

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

 

National Lamington Day – How many can you eat?

Raspberry Lamingtons copy

You don’t think your tastes would change that much when you move abroad. I honestly never thought my kids would be taking Vegemite sarnies to school, or eating meat pies like they’re going out of fashion. I also never thought we’d ever get used to Lamingtons after trying my first one three years ago! Hey, the Brits are renowned cake bakers, we know our shizzle when it comes to baking, and the Lamington was like no cake I’d ever tasted before….. However…..

Tomorrow, July 21st, Australians and a few of us expats too,  will be taking time to savour and celebrate the coming of age of an Australian classic, the humble Lamington.

It’s National Lamington Day and I know what I’ll be tucking into frequently tomorrow! 

lamington
Adriano Zumbo’s Tiramisu Lamington

The sweet treat has been tantalising Aussie tastebuds for more than 100 years, and the list of flavours is endless. The Wilson’s are ready and willing to try as many as we can before the visa runs out!! 

Lamington Lowdown

The first ever Lamington cake was made in 1900, most likely for the wife of Queensland’s eighth governor, Lady May Lamington. Made by either the Lamingtons’ French patisserie chef, Armand Galland, or well-known Brisbane cookery teacher Amy Schauer, regarded as ‘the Nigella Lawson of her time’.  We all love a Nigella!! The sponge cake was dipped in chocolate and liberally sprinkled with shredded coconut. Lord and Lady Lamington were said to be so impressed by the cake, that it was regularly requested at Lamington House. If only we all had our own baker… 

taste lam

THE LOWDOWN ON LAMINGTONS

  • National Lamington Day is celebrated on July 21.
  • The Lamington cake was first made in 1900.
  • The exact story of the invention of the Lamington is disputed. Some people think it may have been an accidental recipe after being dropped in a chocolate mixture.
  • The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade lists the lamington as an Australian icon (along with the meat pie and Vegemite HURRAH), and former Queensland premier Anna Bligh has declared this special cake a Queensland icon.
  • Toowoomba in Queensland is the home of the 2011 Guinness World Record for the Largest Lamington, weighing over 2,361 kilos.
  • A Lamington recipe first appeared in the Queensland Country Life publication in 1900. A recipe then appeared in a Sydney newspaper in 1901, and a New Zealand newspaper in 1902.
  • The world record for the longest line of Lamingtons was set in Adelaide in 2015, with 20,000 (yes that says 20 thousand) pieces of Lamington snaking over 1,073 metres long. The former record was held in England with a Lamington line that measured 885 metres. Who knew the Brits loved Lamington so much?
  • Susan Day makes so many Lamingtons each year that if you laid them end to end, you’d make it from Melbourne to Sydney – hands up who’s coming on that road trip? 

If you’re a Lamington lover, then tomorrow is your lucky day!

If you’re in Australia you can cheat and head to Coles to get yours, however if you’re enjoying the sunshine in the UK, get your BAKE on and enjoy Lamington Day with this recipe for homemade Lamingtons!!

Let me know what you’re doing to celebrate!

Olivia xx

Donna Hay
Donna Hay’s Lamington’s (Recipe link above)