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

 

Easter Fun at Boneo Maze – Mornington Peninsula

Easter Weekend is throwing up some serious fun in and around Melbourne. We are so lucky! If you are living in Melbourne or travelling here for the Easter weekend, you’re in for a treat! One of the many wonderful things going on over the weekend is the Autumn Fest at Boneo Maze! (30th March – 1st April 2018)

Autumn Fest is a 3 day event celebrating all the wonderful seasonal changes Autumn brings combined with mindful and sustainable family fun. It’s by far my most favourite time of year! The grounds at Boneo Maze are extra beautiful this time of year! We have visited a few times, you can read about our Father’s day adventure at Boneo here!

Autumn Fest will be three enticing days jam packed with different attractions, activities, music, light displays, art and food and more. You can check out each days events below, with a fire show, circus performers, Easter Bunny, workshops, wildlife displays and so much more, you absolutely want to get down to the Peninsula for this. The mini golf, mazes and adventure zone will be available everyday for you and the family to enjoy, which is awesome! My kids just love the mini golf!

Each day of the Easter weekend has it’s own theme and attraction, so it will be easy to spend the entire weekend enjoying the fun!!

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Tickets:

If the entire weekend sounds amazing to you, then a 3-day pass might be your best choice! Alternatively you can pick the day you simply can’t miss.

1 Day Pass (Choose any 1 day) Adult $25 Child/senior $20 Family (2A2C) $80 (SAVE $10)

2Day Pass (Choose any 2 days) Adult $35 Child/Senior $30 Family (2A2C) $120 (SAVE $10)

3 Day Pass (Enjoy the entire 3 day festival) Adult $45 Child/Senior $40 Family (2A2C) $160 (SAVE $10).


 

I hope you have an amazing Easter weekend, whatever you decide to do! Let us know how you get on at Boneo Maze if you do decide to visit!!

‘Easter egg hunts; proof that your kids can find things when they really want to!’ -Unknown

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Awesome Easter Adventures – Melbourne

Easter holidays are fast approaching and if you’re anything like me, you are totally unprepared and have already eaten the kids easter eggs. (Shopping trip round two coming up!) I’m here to give you some awesome ideas to make up for the gobbled chocolates, and earn you some serious Mama points! Melbourne has a plethora of awesome activities, as always, this school holidays, and I’m going to be sharing my favourites with you over the next few days! Good luck to all of you!! The school holidays are a struggle, and finding just the right balance of IPads, playdates, and days out is mind boggling. Here’s the first instalment to help ease your pain!!  *love the kids really, just… two whole weeks…..

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LEGOLAND DISCOVERY CENTRE

 Have you got space mad kids? This school holidays at Legoland Discovery centre, your budding astronauts can embark on a Space Mission! Yup, they can rocket in to outer space, and embark on a galactic adventure.  How awesome does that sound??? I know my two would LOOOOVE this! 

 Upon entry each child will be able to dress the part, with a super cool space mask! They will then head off to take part in a scavenger hunt in MINILAND Melbourne, and help a fellow cadet find the missing pieces to his spaceship!

Your little LEGO© lovers can then build their very own LEGO© spaceship in a creative workshop before defying gravity by learning how to fly on the popular Merlin’s Apprentice ride! The mission will then continue in a place out of this world – the Space Training Centre –  where cosmic travellers will be tested on their knowledge of the solar system’s planets.

Hurrah for awesome school holiday fun, awarding us mums with some SERIOUS brownie points!

What are you waiting for? Accept your space mission here: https://melbourne.legolanddiscoverycentre.com.au

All the info….

Where: LEGOLAND Discovery Centre, Chadstone Shopping Centre VIC 3148

When: Thursday 29 March – Tuesday 17 April 2018

Cost: Book online now – $45 per person for the Melbourne Big Ticket. Ticket includes entry to both LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Melbourne and Sea Life Melbourne


SEA LIFE MELBOURNE

 Paw Patrol at Sea Life Melbourne

Oh my goodness, not only can the kids see some awesome sealife this holidays, but the PAW Patrol pups are on SEA Patrol at Sea Life Melbourne! Have you got little pups at home who are crazy for Chase and his friends?

 This school holidays, the PAW Patrol SEA Patrol pups are going to be making a splash when they swim into Sea Life Melbourne for an all new adventure in Melbourne.

The interactive experience will take families on a ‘pawsome’ underwater quest throughout the aquarium to help find the missing PAW Patrol pups and save the day. No job is too big, no pup is too small! Yes, it’s going to be great!

As soon as you arrive, the children will receive a PAW Patrol pup pack including wearable puppy ears, a treasure hunt map and a PAW Patrol sticker sheet.

 The race is then on to follow the map (and the paw prints!) to find all of the PAW Patrol SEA Patrol pups who are hiding throughout Sea Life Melbourne. Everyone loves a treasure hunt!!

As honorary members of the rescue squad, children can also pose with the PAW Patrol pups at the photo wall to capture a memento of the school holiday escapade.

 Make sure you’ve signed up to join the PAW Patrol SEA Patrol rescue squad now! For more information or to purchase tickets for Sea Life Melbourne’s new school holiday experience, please visit:https://www.melbourneaquarium.com.au/

All the info

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

When: Friday 30 March –  Monday 30 April 2018

Cost: Book online now – $45 per person for the Melbourne Big Ticket. Ticket includes entry to both Sea Life Melbourne and LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Melbourne

Why the Wilson’s have fallen for ‘The Staycation!’

Just to add some immediate irritation to your reading, I want to let you know I am writing this poolside, overlooking Melbourne at Crown. I’d like to say I was lying here in a bikini, all tanned, sipping on a large cocktail, but I’d be lying. After a few too many amazing Melbourne burgers, too much wine, and over the top stress chocolate eating, I am actually lying here, fully clothed, bollocking the kids for jumping in the pool every so often! Believe me, it’s bliss compared to being at home and bollocking them for putting their dirty hands on the walls or stealing spoonfuls of Nutella out of the pantry! *Only mum is allowed to do that….

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Mr W booked a staycation for this weekend. Oh I can’t tell you how much I was looking forward to this. Just getting away from the laundry is good enough for me to be honest. Staying in your own city means you can really switch off, put your feet up and relax. No stress to get up early and sightsee, no fast paced trips round the local museums, no dragging your kids out of the pool because you have four more “must see” spots to visit before check out.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love going away, exploring new places, trawling the kids round ancient monuments, and making them try obscure foods that make their faces scrunch. This though, is just so good.

The Wilson’s were “staycation” virgins until now. As you know, we love travelling, and we’re usually quick to save our cash to go somewhere new… I’m now thinking staycations could be a regular thing for us. How many amazing hotels can we try in Melbourne I wonder?

We checked in to Crown yesterday, all ready for a snooze filled weekend. Poppy had played a game of netball, Monty had been to a birthday party at Extreme Air  and the Mr and I have been working full on for weeks. We were all exhausted. We got to the room and leapt into bed. Aren’t those black out curtains in hotels AMAZING?! You can convince the kids it’s actually bed time even though it’s blatantly 5:45pm. The snooze sesh didn’t last long. Living in Melbourne means the kids know exactly what is downstairs and they were absolutely fighting the zz’s and hyper for the movies, and the roulette and blackjack tables… Kidding! We only gamble responsibly, usually a Friday night, after lots of wine, and a boogie!

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Image – Crown Resorts

 

Mr W and I reluctantly dragged ourselves out of bed… Of course the first thing we had to do was eat, because we actually can’t go anywhere without eating… We went to Guillaume. For those of you who don’t know this restaurant, it’s introduction on the website says:

Inspired by the popular neighbourhood bistros of Paris, Bistro Guillaume offers a menu rich with French classics in a stylish setting on the Crown Riverwalk.  
 
The service style is relaxed and diners are encouraged to sit back and enjoy good French food and wine in an unpretentious atmosphere. 

The food is amazing, the service was beautiful…. If only the customers were as unpretentious as the restaurant promises it is. One of my pet hates about eating out is that if you have children, people seem to think you have to eat in shit restaurants. As soon as we walked in you could feel the eyes. Couples in the ‘Autumn of their lives’, turning to look. To be fair Monty looked like he’d been dragged through a hedge backwards and Poppy hadn’t even sat down before she was spreading butter on the bread, and herself, however….

The food and wine was divine. We ate, the kids made the most of the wifi, and we left. Oh I love French food and free internet connection.

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Image – Bestmenus.com.au

Yesterday was a warm day in Melbourne. 32 degrees and super windy. We didn’t need to be out and about so we made the most of the pool on the 27th floor. What a view! The kids quickly made some friends so Mr W and I chilled on the loungers whilst the other parents were on pool duty.. (remember that awesome tip right there)… Got to love a hotel pool.

Room service was a must on our staycation. There is nothing more satisfying than siting in your undies, air con blasting, nice and warm under the sheets, watching trashy tv and eating a huge club sandwich! Total bliss right there. As soon as I had taken my last mouthful and was ready to lie down, the kids were up, dressed again and begging to go for a walk… Arghhhh I must try harder to teach them the art of hotel relaxation! *someone have my kids for the weekend!!

Off we went back down in the elevator, two VERY tired kids, one sleepy dad and a very full, rather swollen mum.

Gradi are holding a pizza festival this weekend. Poppy is a Gradi superfan so she was thrilled, although way too full of schnitzel and hot chips from the room to be eating any pizzas. Monty begged and begged for a $50.00 toy car off the Ferrari stand (Formula 1 is coming to Melbs) and threw a huge ‘tanty’ when I said no!

Turned out to be a beautiful evening stroll in this wonderful city! Mr W ended up carrying a sobbing Monty through the hotel, Poppy and I waddling behind begging him to slow down. This race to the lift was made so much worse by the fact that the Crown on a Saturday night is filled with romantic couples, laughing at each others jokes, super slinky show gals and plenty of bars bursting into life… * exactly where Mr W and I would rather be at this precise moment… In to the elevator…. Bed time!!

 

Sunday morning, after a great sleep, and hurrah no hangover, it’s time for the hotel brekkie! *insert dancing mama emoji right here! This is a big one for us. The Wilson’s love a hotel breakfast! Poppy always heads straight for the sweet pastries and the hash browns, Monty just gets a huge pile of bacon and a pain au chocolate, Mr W and I do the strategic breakfast buffet eating. Start one end and make sure you’ve tried at least one of everything before going back to the start again! We’ve mastered the art I can assure you!

So sadly we’re just one more swim before we go; before we head back to normality, back to the laundry and back to preparing the school bags for another week. You know what though, I wouldn’t have it any other way; despite the bags under my eyes, and the little tears on my cheek as we hand back the room key…..  Staycations are absolutely my new fave thing. Enjoying hotels in your own city, not even leaving the building if you don’t want to, has to be one of the best breaks ever!!

Thank you Melbourne, thank you Crown, thank you Mr W… Here’s to another staycation really REAAALLLLY soon! Pretty please!

Olivia xxx

‘Sometimes a break from your routine is all you need’ – Unknown


 

We booked our stay direct with Crown, you can use this link , although there are many other sites you can use.

We collect Crown rewards which allow us to get points on all our purchases in the Crown, and give us free parking. You can join here for free! Worth doing if you visit Crown here in Melbourne or Perth!

If you’re thinking of travelling to Melbourne anytime soon, make sure you check out Crown; not just for your accomodation but for entertainment, family fun, restaurants, bars and the world famous casino. A must see in Melbourne.

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

Handhorf – A little bit of Germany in the Adelaide Hills

Located just 25 minutes from Adelaide, Handhorf is Australia’s oldest surviving German settlement and celebrated 175 years in 2014. It still has a strong German flavour most evident in the small goods outlets, bakeries, pubs, restaurants and cafes that line the bustling main street’ – Adelaide Hills.org  

Handhorf is a truly picturesque little town founded by Prussian Lutherans in 1839. It is so close to Adelaide, you really don’t need to leave it out of your trip. We visited in January, and the weather was lovely. We have been told that Autumn is spectacular too because of the wonderful colour of the leaves on the trees.


 

Driving in to Handhorf, it hits you how German this little town really is.  The bakeries are pumping out freshly baked pretzels, there are sausages hanging in the windows of the butchers, German flags proudly swaying in the breeze, and souvenir shops selling all kinds of Germanic keepsakes including huge beer steins. We particularly liked the aprons which made the children look like they were wearing traditional German costume…Monty liked playing the accordion… The shop assistant didn’t enjoy it quite as much!

I always find it fascinating to think that people came to Australia, seeking a safe place to rebuild their lives, and they ended up somewhere like this. The journey must have been daunting, such a huge trip. Then, to build a town so much like home, a community and a brand new life, it’s incredibly brave.

We visited The Handhorf Academy which is the regional centre for art and heritage. Originally a boarding school, and later a maternity hospital, this 19th Century Heritage building could tell some phenomenal stories of courage, excitement and fear as early settlers built their new lives.

There are four galleries, a migration museum and a shop selling locally handcrafted products.  This is also the home of the tourist information office, otherwise known as the place where Monty left his shoes.

A visit is a must. Go in and be captivated by objects and stories relating to the lives of Hahndorf’s pioneering families. We particularly liked the outfits worn by the Lutheran children, the ladies ornate lace dresses, and the children were amazed by the furniture and an old pram.

After a bit of a walk and the purchase of some salami type sausages that nearly blew our heads off, it was time for a trip to the play park! We like to use Monkey Bars all over the world. No Monkey Bars are ever left out!

Once we were too hot to swing, we headed into the Seasonal Garden Cafe which was heavenly. Fresh produce from their own garden, and juices squeezed right there for you to enjoy! We lazed in the sunshine sipping on green juice, until Mr W’s phone ran out of battery, Monty squealed and Poppy insisted we head off to our next destination! Bliss ruined…

Top Handhorf hints

  • Take a walking tour of Handhorf if you have the time. They take about 90 minutes, but you get to visit places that the general public can’t. We love a guided tour, as you learn so much more about a place, and the children have to be quiet too! Win win!!
  • The Handhorf Leathersmith is a great shop! And if you walk right to the back, they have the biggest bunnies you ever did see! The kids will be asking you to buy them one all the way home!
  • There are plenty of cellar doors in Handhorf, and a craft brewery there too. Gulf Brewery are a micro brewery, who offer tastings at the cellar door, or for those who have a little more time, they pair food with beer for another truly Handhorf experience.
  • Handhorf is a shoppers heaven. The high street is filled with local craftspeople making wonderful wares. You can find anything from hand crafted leather wares to cuckoo clocks to toys, books and candlemakers. We just bought food, (surprise surprise) but were tempted by so much more! 

     Close by: 

  • One of Australia’s most famous artists, Sir Hans Heysen’s home is nearby on Heysen Road. Visit The Cedars, explore his garden, home and studio.
  • The Prancing Pony craft brewery is about five minutes away in Totness. If you didn’t get chance to sample the beers in Handhorf this is definitely worth a visit.
  • Beerenberg Family Farm has ‘pick your own strawberries’ from November to April. There’s also a wonderful shop selling a huge range of jams, sauces and relishes. Their website if full of lovely recipes too! (drool)
  • Wineries surround Handhorf, so there is no possible way you could miss out on sampling some of the Adelaide Hills local wines.
  • The children will love the Hahndorf Farm Barn. It’s a farm/wildlife park and a great place to spend a few hours. They have picnic areas, tractor rides and the children get to try their hand at milking a cow or even holding a python!! Family tickets for 2 adults + 2 children is $47

 

The Adelaide Hills are like a treasure chest, full of wonderful food, wine, beer, and adventure. It’s a fabulous place to spend time together exploring. Head to Handhorf and wind your way through the surrounding area slowly, taking it all in as you drive! You won’t be disappointed!

Flights – We flew direct to Adelaide from Melbourne with Tiger Air. For all four of us the cost was approximate cost $450

Car Hire – We hired a car through Avis at Adelaide airport – approximate cost $179 for three days.

Hotels – Adelaide and the surrounding areas have so much variety when it comes to hotels. Whatever your budget, it wont be hard to find somewhere that fits!

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This photo caused a major tantrum “I’m not a girl and you made me the girl”….. Oh how we laughed… (not)

A chapter from my “real life story” – Dedicated to Joanne…

I’m bloody frustrated today!! The reason for my irritation is that I’m sitting here having a huge battle with an impending cold!!! I’m sniffing every 6 seconds, (I know… get a bloody tissue), thinking to myself, for god’s sake, just do one!! I will not put up with getting a darn cold, especially as the kids are back at school tomorrow and I have some free time on my hands… (*think dancing mum emoji next to sad looking kids emoji)

I have spent a long time now keeping relatively quiet about what essentially is a big part of me, and it’s the reason I kick myself when my immune system gives in to a simple cold. Moving to Australia and becoming an expat was a good chance for me to close the door on a chunk of my life and pretend that it never happened. Why do I rarely talk about it? Probably because I am generally very well, and I don’t want to be drowning again in that vat of “illness”.

Recently however,  I have had a lot of questions about my health, after I uploaded photos of myself in hospital.

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Instagram @the_wilsons_of_oz 12/01/2018

So, my little secret??

I have Transverse Myelitis. Whaaat?? Yeah I said the same thing when I was told. In a nutshell it’s a neurological condition in which the spinal cord is inflamed. The inflammation damages nerve fibres, and causes them to lose their myelin coating leading to decreased electrical conductivity in the central nervous system. (That’s about as ‘nutshell” as I could manage).

 

One day, I realised the pins and needles I had over the weekend weren’t going away. The next, I had numb legs. The next, my hands were tingling and the feeling in them was disappearing.

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The next…. I couldn’t get out of bed!! I was a human jelly! Not paralysed thank God, but no feeling from my neck down which made it incredibly difficult to move. You know the feeling you get when you have an anaesthetic? This led to an anxious trip to my GP who sent me straight to the emergency department. Phew, I was ok, I was told I probably had Guillain Barre syndrome and you ALWAYS recover from that. Off I went to the hospital for the doctors to do all sort of disgusting tests on me, only to be told three days later it was actually Transverse Myelitis! And no, you probably won’t ever walk again!

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A buggy was always a better option than sticks for me…

 

Ten days in a hospital room, a kind nurse by my side cutting up my food, lumbar punctures, MRI scans, neurological tests, intravenous steroids, lots of cards, hundreds of student doctors excited to meet me, weepy well wishers carrying flowers, and then I was sent home! That’s the start of the story! Now I’m almost 12 years down the road, the hardest road I’ve had to travel, I am like a walking pin cushion, have a dodgy thyroid but I’m actually ok!

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I was told I may never walk again, let alone ride around Tasmania on a bike!

The October before we moved to Australia, I was in a dark place. I was in a constant state of severe pain and fatigue, and forever left lying in bed with no energy! I felt useless and needed to escape! Don’t get me wrong, I had good days, where I felt almost “normal,” but they came at a high price. I would go out with my friends, knowing that the next day and the day after would be a complete write off. I would desperately want to take the kids for a walk on the beach, but end up in tears, lying in bed, listening to Mr W and the kids getting their shoes on. The reality of any neurological and auto immune condition is it’s debilitating in so many ways. For me, on the outside I looked perfectly normal, and on a good day, you’d probably have no idea there was anything wrong with me. On a bad day…. no words can describe that horror story to you!

TM blog1

Enough was enough!

I felt I had missed out on 8 years of my life already, and I longed with every bit of me for just one more chance! I did heaps of research into diet, exercise, completely natural versions of medicines. I spoke to all sorts of experts in healing!  I totally overhauled every bit of food I put in my mouth, and we made the decision to move abroad if I could at least ditch the fatigue. Introduce the Whole 30; and an incredible three months of each day feeling a little bit more human. I began sleeping really well, I was walking a little further, I was staying awake a little longer. I got rid of the wrist supports I’d worn for years, and the stick I was using to walk with.  I eventually stopped taking medicine altogether!!

It sounds like a miracle I know. Maybe it was.  All I can say is after nearly 8 years of hell, 8 years of being unable to fully enjoy my children or my life; my dreaded fatigue, and my pain were dramatically reduced, so we made the decision to go on an adventure, quickly, before it all came crumbling down again. Mr W searched for jobs all over the world, we desperately wanted to go somewhere, do something exciting, and make up for the past 8 years!! A job offer in Australia came up,  we applied for visa’s, and we were off!!! From job offer to Heathrow was about 12 weeks. Expat life here we come!!

The Wilson’s of Oz was born!

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As soon as the trip began I decided not to write about surviving Transverse Myelitis, and I started to write about our Expat adventures. I wrote about our days out and all the wonderful things we were seeing Down Under. The more I wrote, the less I thought about my ‘old life’! I forgot about all those people who I had wanted to encourage, the TM warriors who I had wanted to give a huge shout out to. The ones surviving even though they felt terrible! I forgot about the message I wanted to send to everyone that it can get easier. I was having the most amazing time and I hadn’t once reassured anyone that it can get better.

I had once imagined I would become a “Recovery Role Model” for patients at the start of their journey, but in reality I was too frightened to even bring it up in public.  I was still running away from all those horrid feelings I had left behind me. I thought that if I was to say aloud how good I was feeling, I may jinx myself and end up back in a hospital bed, only this time I would be 10,000 miles from home. So, I haven’t really mentioned it.

Writing my blog, experiencing ‘living’ again, and ‘Turning life into an Adventure’ was exactly what I needed to do and I desperately wanted other sufferers of TM to see that feeling better tomorrow is possible no matter how far down the road you are.

‘You can look to the future, you can hope for something better, you can plan ahead.  People do come out the other side, albeit a little bruised and battered!’ 

Why bring it up now?

I guess now that more people are checking out The Wilsons of Oz, not just Grandma, I have more of a voice?!? (Does it work like that?)  I guess I’m in a better position to let people with a health condition to know that there is hope, and I’m no longer too scared to talk about it here. There is light at the end of the tunnel and sometimes we just need to keep holding on to that glimmer, and keep our minds open. Know your limits, set your goals, and you’ll amaze yourself. I promise!

Welcome to Vic

 

Just because something isn’t happening for you right now, doesn’t mean it will never happen – Unknown

Olivia xx

I’d like to dedicate this post to a true warrior! Joanne Lokwiya is a friend of mine who also suffers from Transverse Myelitis. She is brave, she is beautiful inside and out, and she is a true fighter! I want her to know that anything is possible! xxx 


Transverse Myelitis Society (UK)

The 9th June marks TM Awareness Day 2017. It would be awesome if you could support the Transverse Myelitis Society with just one click here!!!

You can read my Whole30 story here

 

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

This Mumma is ‘Smash’ing ‘Back to School’

I know, it’s what, week three of the school holidays and we’re already thinking about getting our little darlings prepped and ready for another year! Another mammoth amount of time sitting in the classroom, reciting Haiku poetry and picking their noses. It seems as if no sooner have the holidays started we’re willing them to end.. Or is that just me?

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Bags are already packed… (kidding, it’d be rotten by February!)
  • School shoes purchased – CHECK
  • Name labels are on their way – CHECK
  • The stationary order has been delivered, opened and scattered around the house – CHECK
  • Mummy’s almost ready for a mini breakdown – CHECK

It can only mean one thing… It’s time to think about packed lunch paraphernalia!!

If you’re anything like me, you’ll be heading off soon to purchase new lunch boxes and drinks bottles before terms starts; I mean the kids couldn’t possibly start a new school year with an old lunchbox! Actually mine can’t because I made the rookie mistake (AGAIN) of buying ridiculously rubbish lunch boxes which are now disgusting inside and have broken zips so they definitely need replacing! That and we no longer think ‘Dinosaurs’ are cool! When will I learn?

Much to Mr W’s joy, that will be the last time I make that mistake! The clever clogs at Smash Enterprises have not only created some seriously eye catching designs (even I want in on these), but they’ve also come up with Blue IQ, a mould resistant lining which means when we “wipe” the insulated lunch boxes clean, they’re giving us a helping hand…. ***Cue angels singing a chorus of Hallelujah’s to all us mumma’s!….

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“Can I go back to school now mum?” – “Um, YESSS!’

The Wilson’s have been road testing some of these awesome products and I’m certain you will struggle to find anyone else making school lunch this funky, rubbish free, practical and totally kid proof!!  If that doesn’t excite you enough, the fact that they’re spill proof may just do it for you! (No more soggy sandwiches coming home uneaten! **does a little dance)

Rubbish Free Lunchbox

The Wilsons love anything that promotes “nude” (yes we do!) and we adore products that allow us to cut down on our waste! The kids are already loving packed lunches with their new lunch boxes, and I’m singing all the way to the dishwasher. Hurrah! Roll on 1st February when I’m really packing up and packing them off!

‘C’mon, say no to plastic wraps and foils and make every day a nude food day!’


 

The Wilson’s Reviews…..

★★★★★ “OH MUM, A LUNCHBOX I CAN DECORATE? IT’S THE BEST!!” POPPY- STICKER QUEEN – WILSONS OF OZ

★★★★ “I’M JUST LIKE A REAL ARMY MAN WITH THIS LUNCH” – MONTY- PACKED LUNCH AND PICNIC LOVER – WILSONS OF OZ

★★★★ “THIS YEAR IS GOING TO INCLUDE MY BEST LUNCHBOX CREATIONS YET ” – MRS W – WORST LUNCH CREATOR EVER – WILSONS OF OZ

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Yes, she’s kissing her lunch box! The Stick It Slimline is a hit in this house…

 Featured

Smash Lunch Box – Funky designs, detachable insulation, large capacity and the famous Sandwich Seatbelt. Available at selected Coles Supermarkets whilst stocks last – RRP $15

Nude Movers Rubbish Free Lunchbox – Eliminates the need for packaging. Three separate compartments, removable snack pods and dividers, and a ‘Sandwich Seatbelt’. Available at selected Coles supermarkets whilst stocks last RRP $12

Smash Stick it Slimline – Comes with stickers so the kids can personalise their lunch! Lined with Smash’s trademark ‘Blue IQ’ antimicrobial lining which inhibits the growth of uncontrolled bacteria, mould, and mildew. A strong durable zipper,(YAYYYY) and a soft handle for comfortable carrying. 100% free of BPA, phthalate and lead. Available at selected Coles supermarkets whilst stocks last RRP $12.50

You can find so many more Smash products at selected Coles stores whilst stocks last.

Check out the catalogue

Smash products can be purchased in these stores.

*Not all products are available at every store, so please check beforehand 

*Smash products sell out very quickly therefore some may not be available

*Not all Smash products are dishwasher recommended


 

We only review products that we love, we think are genuinely good quality and that we are comfortable recommending to our readers. All words are our own.

We hope you will love these products as much as us. 

#lunchbox #backtoschool #kids #parenting #expatmum #nudefood #reduce #reuse #smashenterprises #spillproof #school

Immigration Museum – British Migrants, instant Australians?

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A new exhibition has opened it’s doors at Melbourne’s Immigration Museum  and I can say with all my heart, it’s one of the most moving exhibitions I have had the pleasure of visiting.

‘Between 1947 and 1981 nearly 1.5 million Brits arrived in an Australia that was predominantly white and British – it had worked hard to be so’ 

A few weeks ago I went along to a preview of the new exhibition ‘British Migrants, Instant Australians?‘.  We were treated to Devonshire Tea, a cup of Earl Grey, and some magnificent guest speakers, before heading in. It felt quintessentially British, although there was no driving rain or fog to be seen!

Paul Jennings, best known for his writing of many children’s books, got up to speak about his migration from the UK at the age of six. He told us of the distress he felt leaving behind his beloved Grandmother. Sitting there listening to his heartfelt words, I felt as if I was listening to my own children speaking in 30 years time. I could totally relate to his feelings of homesickness, longing, and upset at leaving the only home he’d known; I had a lump in my throat!

‘When I was six I left England, with my parents and my little sister Ruth, to come and live in Australia. That was in 1949. In those days, people came to Australia by boat. The one we came on was called the Ranchi. We sailed for five weeks before arriving in Melbourne’- Paul Jennings

His story was compelling, and a real tear jerker. It’s so easy to overlook what migration was to families back in the 40’s. It’s especially hard to consider what that journey must have been like whilst living in todays modern world of round the globe flights, and Skype calls! British Migrants in the 1940’s left home simply thinking it was ‘for the best!’  Expats still take this risk when they move far from home, although being more aware of the world possibly makes it less of a “culture shock”.

Red Symons also spoke about his migration from the UK.  He told us of his everlasting memory of stepping into a land with an immense amount of sky. The single storey houses, the flat landscapes, and the endless blue skies. His words made me wonder what my children will remember from our early days Down Under? That moment we arrived in the dead of night, the sights, the sounds, the smells, the accents. So different to home!

‘Newcomers from Britain had all  the advantages of a shared language, culture and history.  So fitting in should be easy. But reality is never that simple’

The thing that struck me most about all the speakers at the grand unveiling of the latest exhibition was how their hearts broke at leaving family and friends behind; yet they recognised the opportunity they had been given. They all got stuck in, pushed their homesickness and worries to one side and made the best of their new lives. They went over and above to “fit in”, they changed their accents and worked hard to build friendships. The chance to leave behind post WW2 Britain, the grey skies and limited job opportunities, for a land which had everything they could wish for in abundance was too good to ignore.

The exhibition holds some wonderful, heartfelt stories of lives well lived, cherished friendships, and of the “migrant” feeling of being ‘too foreign for home, too foreign for here, and never enough for both’.

Whilst wandering through the exhibition, I couldn’t help but go back to those nagging thoughts in my mind… “Will my children grow up feeling like this?” “Will they look back with sadness at what they missed when we moved?” “Will my children grow up with a constant longing in their hearts?” Honestly, I’m not sure. Today’s “migrant” is so incredibly different from those who arrived in Australia all those years ago. The world is so much smaller and the internet bigger than ever. We can keep in touch without lifting a pen, or licking a stamp, and we can see distant loved ones at the touch of a button.

I’m not sure my children feel any different to their peers. No one comments on their accents (anymore), no one really even asks them where they’re from. We’re learning we’re not that different after all. This is an indication of just how migration has changed. My children are not really seen as ‘migrants’ in the classroom! I’m not sure any of us are! Is an expat a migrant anymore?

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Not only is this new exhibition a fantastic insight into the lives of thousands of migrants and their voyage to Australia, but it’s a real showcase of bravery, courage, and human kindness which will teach all visitors a lesson in the need to show compassion to people migrating to this wonderful country!

The Immigration Museum has beautifully showcased artefacts from treasured family collections, with words spoken by those families themselves. They have taken time to cleverly and sympathetically tell people’s stories of migration, with a mixture of mediums including handwritten letters, memorabilia and old posters promising a life rich in work and sun.

As an expat myself, who has brought my British children to Australia, I found the exhibition moving to say the least. I cannot begin to imagine what the 1940’s migrant must have thought arriving in this warm, far away land, with nothing but the bare essentials; some of them not knowing what to expect. To think that they came here and managed to build new lives, away from everything they had ever known, with no modern technology to contact home is just mind blowing to me. Honestly, their courage astounds me, and I highly recommend this exhibition.


 

‘British Migrants, Instant Australians?’ is open now and runs until 15th April 2018 at Melbourne’s Immigration Museum.

Tickets are included with Museum Entry

Adults – $14
Child to 16 years – FREE
Concession – FREE