National Lamington Day – How many can you eat?

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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! 

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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… 

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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)

Stationary that’s light years ahead of the rest!!

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Ever since I was a child I’ve had this almost obsessive craving for brand new stationary. Not sure if it was the newness, the smell, the thought that maybe with a brand new pad I could create a masterpiece. I would convince my parents to spend shed loads of money on new pens, notepads and all sorts of wonderful files and folders, under the premise of lots of hard work that term! Um… I would start off well.. I’d immaculately write my name on said items, then spend the rest of the year scribbling boys names and enormous love hearts all over them. Pretty sure “I love East17” was in amongst it. My kids are no different, however the stationary today is much cooler.

What’s new?

Nothing’s really changed in my love of stationary, I buy a lot, and I manage to keep it tidy for a few days…. However, Big W have just got a brand new range of stationary which I’m certain will save me from scrawled memos and lost invoices forever!!! Yes, the clever peeps at ‘Smash’ have been at it again. This time they’re making the whole family fall in love with endless supplies of dreamy desk delights.

‘This new range is out of this world! ‘Imagine, Explore and Inspire’ your next ‘Master Plan’ (and your ‘Plan B’!) with our new Neo Galaxy Stationery Range.’- Smash

What do we love about this stationary in particular?

Apart from my inner magpie loving the “shinyness” of the Neo Galaxy range, I also love that they have thought of everything. The quality is great (there’s no way those folders are tearing under the pressure of NAPLAN, or the binders will buckle under the weight of all my endless paperwork) and the designs are suitable for all ages. The kids really loved the space designs, the colours and the stapler…. of course…. The sticky notes don’t curl up like other brands, ***HURRAH, and excuse me whilst we tear up over the incredibly cute little paper clips…..

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Yes, the Wilson’s have been checking out the new Neo Galaxy range of stationary, available from the 15th July in Big W… just in time for back to school, or even for you mamas out there whose home/work life needs some pimping.

Best things about this particular range?

It’s unisex! Yes, it’s purple, but in our house and many across the land, purple is super cool for one and all!

It’s funky no matter your age! The whole family like this range, which makes sharing a little tricky, but means we all have matchy, matchy coordinated workspaces.. Pretty sure I’m still the only one actually working here though!

I have styled the kids desks to show you why it’s definitely good for all…

So, bottom line is….. head down to your local Big W and get your hands on some of this Neo Galaxy stationary before it disappears in to a ‘black hole’ (or other people’s homes). You’ll be thrilled with it, and the kids will love you to infinity and beyond, I promise xx

Tell them you love them “to the moon and back” with a desk full of Neo Galaxy stationary!

Available in store at Big W from 15th July 2018

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Everyone LOVES a sticky note!!

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!!!!!

Smash boxes

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

Disney on Ice is here- Get your skates on before it sells out!

We went to ‘Disney on Ice Celebrates 100 Years of Magic’ last night at Hisense Arena in Melbourne and we’re pretty sure your little Disney fans will love you forever if you book tickets!! This is promising to be one of the top winter holiday activities.

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The show starts with a bang as always; everyone loves an opener, however, there’s not much getting away from Disney’s tried and tested formula, even for this celebration of ‘100 years of Magic!’  (Expect lots of Frozen!) Do not despair though, you’ll be relieved to see a couple of new faces, such as Genie from Aladdin and Mulan. This is where the talent of the skaters really comes out. An enormous Chinese Dragon, flying across the ice, not a paw out of rhythm.  *Our favourite part of the show!

The audience was a sea of Elsa dresses and Mickey ears, glowing swords and sparkly wands. My kids are “too old to dress up” apparently, and they were definitely in the minority, so don’t be afraid to let loose and dig out your Cinderella ballgown!!

The show was like all Disney on Ice shows before it; no expense spared (maybe that’s why it’s a pricey night out). A full snow storm, exciting pyrotechnics, top-quality costumes, and an insanely talented cast of ice dancers.

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Full of energy, full of Disney magic and full of all your favourite Disney characters…. (**Apart from Moana….Sad face!) Disney on Ice 2018 should absolutely be on your holiday to-do list.  With a whopping 14 stories told, 30 classic Disney songs belted out, and wonderful props, including a sweet little boat which takes some very excited audience members out onto the ice and an enormous turtle; who’d want to miss that??

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Disney On Ice celebrates 100 Years of Magic 

 Tickets are on sale now at www.Ticketek.com.au/DisneyOnIce.

2018 National Tour Dates

Melbourne – Hisense Arena, Melbourne                                5 – 10 July          (Thurs – Tues)

Newcastle – Newcastle Entertainment Centre                    13-15 July               (Fri – Sun)

Sydney – Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney Olympic Park          18- 23 July             (Wed – Mon)

Feld Entertainment encourage patrons to source tickets through the authorised ticketing agents appointed by our Disney On Ice venues. The authorised ticketing agent for all cities is Ticketek (www.Ticketek.com.au/DisneyOnIce)There are significant risks in buying from other sources. 

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

lantern GT

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!