Australia in Winter

This is what I expected it to be like in Australia in winter. We had one day with fog in the morning, our last one. By around 9am it was sunshine without a cloud in the sky. I think we planned the perfect time to head there without actually realising. There was rain, there was fog, but there was sun and plenty of it.

foggy drive

We’re so lucky Shaun’s mum and dad live where they do. They’re outside Toodyay in the bush, so often there is peace and quiet and you can hear nothing. The night is so dark you can’t see anything without a torch – there are no streetlights to help you here. If you’re out walking, get back home by 6pm when it’s sunset as there are no lights to help drivers see you. The walk around the block of theirs is about 1.5km, and something we all did from time to time to get some exercise.

The downside is being so cut off from anything, but I didn’t need to do anything (we had one night out seeing The Dandy Warhols, and two nights staying at his Nanna’s in Coogee over near Fremantle) and being an hour or more from Perth, but it means you have to stop and relax at the end of the day – it’s not like there are things you need to do and find.

H discovered a new side as well. The climbing one. She’s always been okay but I’m terrible at letting go. This time the two times she had other children to play with, they were older and more confident and it rubbed off on her – she was climbing and joining in, trying to do what the other children were doing, but also asking for help when she knew she couldn’t. I need to take a step back and let her do things as I know she can. Almost a year ago we were sent some Adidas trainers from Sports Shoes to review (over on Mum Friendly), and they still fit. I ordered in a bigger size, but these shoes have been brilliant and we’ll definitely get more when she grows out of them. She also turned five when we were out there – probably her first birthday without other children her own age, but she was fine with that. We did so many trips to places it was like one continuous birthday treat.

Frozen theme Ice Cream cake

We took the easy option with her birthday cake. I’d bought some Frozen characters before we left (although Hans fell off his base so had to be on the cake over Kristoff – I’m going to remove all the bases before H’s very small birthday party next month), Shaun’s mum Lyn bought an ice cream cake, we bought more vanilla ice cream and some blue food colouring and added some silver balls to the top, then sticking candles and Frozen characters on there. So easy and perfect for H who loves Frozen. This idea was completely stolen from Rosie’s friend – Rosie posted the cake on FB a few months ago and I knew it would be perfect for travelling.

Every day I checked the temperature and compared it to London. Every day we were warmer, and every night we were a couple of degrees colder. I’m really missing it. Back to work tomorrow. Big sigh.

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From Quiet to Loud Again

Three weeks ago we went to Australia. We’d have been at Heathrow around this time, and there are many many things to write about. We arrived in Australia at midnight the following day, and back to Toodyay around 1am on the Thursday.

The things I don’t want to forget:

The quiet. Space and time to think about things. Clear skies where you can see the milky way and billions of stars. The sound of frogs, kookaburras and more as night falls and the house moves into darkness. There is no light pollution where the in-laws live so you can see everything. Even if my camera isn’t great, it picked up this:

Milky way from Toodyay

It’s also quite cut off, so you don’t have much of a social life. I don’t anyway so it was no big deal. I was more than happy to sit around playing Scrabble and drinking wine. It was all about family.

Family. While they’re my family through marriage, they’re H’s family by birth. I think she was amazed at how many Aunties and Uncles she has, as well as cousins and other relations – we ran out of time to meet my dad’s cousin (my only Aussie relative in Perth) – but we have lots of family out there. H has never really experienced having a big family and I know she loved it. She had lots of people who really cared for her – as well as two grandparents.

We were busy every day doing something. It was tiring but good. Once the jetlag had gone we’d sleep for ten hours a night which is unheard of as we live in London where you have to have as little sleep as possible to get things done in a day. Which is another eye opener as Shaun finally said “I could live here again”. While we don’t have plans, we both want to move, so it will happen one day. I don’t know when, but to get to that stage is a huge step. I’m thinking in 2-3 years maybe. Not sooner.

The smell of the bush. It smells so good. I want my toilet to smell of that fresh eucalyptus smell with a bit of outdoors thrown in. I wish they could bottle it up and send it to me – it was fresh air and I crave it. Especially now we’re back in London. The asthma inhaler has come out again.

Australia was so bright and colourful and sunny and warm – and they’re having winter. We got back to London and it was dull and grey – and we’re having summer. It felt depressing to be back – though I’ll put that down to holiday blues for now.

We brought an entire suitcase back of things we’d bought – and still stayed well below our allowance. Singapore Airlines have a very generous 30kg allowance. Maybe next time we’ll actually take presents… on the way out we didn’t even have half.

Kangaroos. I will forever be fascinated by them. The way they hop around anywhere they bloody well want – like in front of our car (this is the second time this has happened and why I’m nervous about driving in Australia). More often than not they’re just hanging out in a paddock on the drive back to Toodyay.

Sunsets. You cannot beat a WA sunset. Shaun and I would often drive around Wandoo Hills to get to the other side to catch the sunset, a mixture of darks and reds.

The beach. There’s nothing like fresh sea air to clear the mind.

Drive through bottle shops. Buying beer without getting out of your car? Great!

Drive through coffee shops. Buying coffee without getting out of your car? Oh yes!

Target selling acceptably brilliant clothes? Oh yes. I spent around £60 there.

Jetlag only taking two days to clear. Really. But poor little H waking up at 2am (I did too) and sitting reading a book as she thought it was the morning. I stayed up with her until she fell asleep again, so didn’t get a lot of sleep that night.



The smells. The sounds.

I’m really missing it this time. We could have done another two weeks out there and still not done everything we’d planned. I would decorate this post with photos, but I’m too tired. Maybe another No Words Picture or two instead. It’s currently half past midnight there so I’m expecting to crash any time now.


No Words Picture

No Words Picture 2


The Past is in the Past

Last week I popped into Debenhams on the way home from work, mainly to see if they do child neck pillows (although right now we’ve lost our adult ones, so we’re in need of three, sigh!), where I happened to come across their latest sale.

Bargains galore were to be found, including a pair of One Direction headphones which plug nicely into H’s iPod – Shaun’s very old one.

This was possibly the best purchase EVER.

I recharged her iPod, and added some albums she’d requested (The Wizard of Oz, Annie, Magic Belles) and copied them across.

For the last 48 hours it has been Let It Go on repeat. Forever. And Ever.


She has headphones on. It is bliss. After a solid weekend of her singing along she’s hitting the notes now, gracefully dancing on the floor to the song, almost getting the words right. Add to that ‘Everything is Awesome’ by Tegan & Sara (she can’t do the rap bit though) and it has actually been quite fun hearing my almost-five-year-old sing along to her favourite songs.

It could be so much worse, now she’ll just sit with headphones on, zoned out with a book in her own little world where she can play the songs she loves.

I still have the earworms mind. I can hear Let It Go going on upstairs right now while she’s having bath time. It just never goes, does it? The only thing that will eventually go is my sanity… good job we’ve bought her the movie for her birthday, right?

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How Does The Baby Get Out?

I’ve been blessed up to now with H that she’s known she was cut out of my tummy when she was born, which has made the issue of explaining childbirth to her relatively simple.

That was until she brought home a book from school about Humpback Whales.

There is a section about a pregnant whale, and how they lie in the water when they’re about to give birth.

“so how does the baby get out?” asked H.

I didn’t know how to answer – bearing in mind she’s only four, I needed to answer sensitively. So I did what every parent does when they’re stumped like this and asked my friends on Facebook.

Some parents told their children straight. Some parents were lucky enough to have had further children so the kids kind of knew. Some parents suggested books. Another suggested finding video of lambing season (Shaun winced at that one but I think it’s a good idea).

Karen next door has lent me a Miriam Stoppard book, Questions Children Ask so I was planning to read what would be age-appropriate for a four year old without grossing her out. Except of course I left it out on the side, so H came over and read it.

“Questions Children Ask?” she queried. “Why have you got this?”

So I told her the truth (I’m a bad liar so I generally tell the truth about everything). I reminded her about the Humpback Whales book. I explained the book would help me tell the truth in a way which isn’t scary or weird and that it would be very helpful for me.

Then I just kind of told her. About the special place a female bottom has that babies come out of. She looked at me oddly.

“are you okay?” I checked. She got off my knee and had a good think.


I let her know we could talk about it when she wants, and that it’s completely normal and nothing to worry about. I made some joke about her coming out of the sun roof (which must have been confusing as our car doesn’t have one, so she probably just thought I was a bit mad), and that was that.

It wasn’t so bad really. I fully expect to have a proper conversation about it in a couple of weeks. That’ll give me enough time to get over my Miriam Stoppard fear. (one of her baby books made me cry when I was pregnant)

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Eye Tests

H was meant to have had her annual check-up yesterday to update her glasses prescription, an appointment we’d made six months ago. Alas, a week beforehand the hospital cancelled it for reasons I can’t remember.

Fortunately they were able to fit us in with a shorter check up at short notice, but annoyingly it was in the middle of the day. H did the test – with letters now she’s a proper reader. She has done them before, but was only able to identify the letters using phonics. Now school is switching to using the correct names for the letters (as she moves into Y1) and she managed brilliantly.

She’s been switched to the words test now too – which in turn has moved her eye tests to the Opticians rather than to the three-hour long ones which she used to have with a Consultatn. It’s one of those little things I hadn’t realised – now she can read, her eye tests will be far more accurate.

How weird. How good!

The other bonus is having an eye test with the Optician means we don’t have to book six months in advance – we got an appointment for early next week. She may still need eye drops but chances are she won’t. This makes everything so much easier, eye tests can fit around school and that’s a great thing.

She’s also controlling the squint in her eye quite well which is interesting – it’ll be good to find out how her eyes are doing on Monday too and what change her prescription will be. We know she won’t need eye patches again which is always my biggest concern, but I do know she needs new glasses.

But still! Reading and changing eye tests – how brilliant?

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The Other Man’s Grass is Always Greener

Ah the Summer Holidays from School. Facebook filled full of pictures of families doing stuff together, having fun.

I look on and feel a bit envious. Just a teeny bit. Our time is coming.

I wish we could go to the seaside and have an ice cream melt all over our hands as it’s so warm and sunny. To breathe in the clean air and feel refreshed, revitalised again. Chips on the pier and candyfloss on the beach. Sand and pebbles in buckets, more spades than you realised you owned.

I wish we could go to the park and relax and sit about, catching up with groups of friends while the kids play.

R E C H A R G E.

I wish we had some grass (well, maybe astroturf then we don’t have to mow it) so the paddling pool had a nicer base (I also wish we had a cover for it, it’s got yucky bits in it, but that’s our problem). Or that we could put up a tent and have camping adventures.

I wish I was off work. I wish I could just lie around with H and take some time out to get into the summer break. Do nothing. In our imaginary tent in our imaginary astroturfed back yard with our paddling pool full of sparkling clear warm water we can sit in.

I’m not very good at doing nothing – or at least, if I’m going to do nothing the surroundings could be improved.

When it all comes to it though, it’s just not the beach. But our time will come. Not quite yet.

H is desperate for a rest. She has her first mouth ulcer. I think her little body has just given up for the holidays, she’s no longer fighting, desperate to do well at school, she’s exhausted. As long as she can do each day at holiday club then I’m happy. As long as she has enough energy to pick lavender this weekend, I’m happy. As long as we’re all sleeping well at night I’m even happier.

I’ll post pictures of us picking lavender, and I’m hoping all those seaside going friends of mine will wish they were there too.

So it isn’t all bad.

No Words Picture

Wimbledon Windmill