Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Letter to the world: Ten.


I am ten years old. Today.

In keeping with the tradition of my life, I am writing my letter to the world, to sum up my year and share my tips and advice.

Out in the big world of 2018 a lot of things have happened.

But for me, being nine, living in Australia, things were pretty good. I learnt my times tables, but what is it with the sevens? They nearly get me every time! But not the nines. For nines times tables there are lots of tricks to know you've got it right.

I started the year off doing singing lessons and soon decided that wasn't for me and took to guitar. It's much more fun. My team won the grade four Mandarin competition held in Melbourne by singing a song in Mandarin about recycling and my acro team won gold for our team performance in the Victorian Fusion competition. I am still learning tennis, but it seems that fuzzy little ball takes quite a bit of effort to get it where you want it to go.

I found some great new books called Kensy and Max, and highly recommend them to anyone aged 8-12, the third book is due out in a few months so I'll be getting that one ASAP. As for movies, I've continued to watch a lot of them. I really really love movies. The best two of 2018 are both equally worth your time, first was The Greatest Showman and then Mamma Mia 2. Great songs, funny, and really good.

After books and movies, if you need to really be entertained I have two words for you. STRANGER THINGS. I am kind of addicted to it. Mum says it's really not suitable for kids as many of them would be scared, but not me, it's clearly not real, there are too many made up things. But you really really should watch it.

There are things I think should be noted that I DONT have, because, in future, people will be shocked that even though I am now 10 years old my parents have still not let me have the following 1) My own phone 2) My own Instagram account 3) a YouTube channel  4) A horse or even horse riding lessons, and lastly, Fortnite. I am about the only person left on earth without these things. I certainly hope some of the items are amended very very soon.

I'd also like to make it publicly known that going to Disneyland is on my list of things that I'd really like to do.

Other cool things that happened this year: I was in my first TV advert. Officially, best day ever.  If you live in Sydney you might have seen it on the telly. I watched so much Youtube, but it didn't come up on my stuff. You can see me here at the 19 second mark! 

Around the world, there were some boys who were stuck in a cave for 9 days and they survived. Doubt you'll ever see me in a cave. We got another new Prime Minister, don't know who and Prince Harry married Meghan and they came to Melbourne, both my Mum and Dad saw them but again didn't let me miss school for something this fun.

I make good scones. From scatch, if you'd like to come over for the afternoon I can whip up a batch, but I like the jam my granny buys from the old people shop. mmmmmm so good.

When it comes to milkshakes - make mine strawberry. Every time.

If I don't see you for scones, maybe you'll hear from me again next year.


Friday, May 4, 2018

I've been to Bali, too.

If I'd written a places to see before I die when I was 21, Bali would have been very low on the list, maybe not even there at all.

But some requests just can't be declined. It was time my travel partner, Miss Meg,  and I set off on another adventure.

It's been 17 years since we last boarded a plane, landed in Ireland and explored the rest of Europe. Back then we spent our cash on youth hostels, bread and cheese at every meal and whatever cheap drinks we could get our hands on.

A lot has happened since then.

We travelled more. We found husbands. We've had five kids between us. There have been fearful tumours and smashed up ankles. There's been funerals and many celebrations.

It was time we teamed up and took another trip.

With time limits and commitments restraining us, we needed somewhere close by. We needed good weather. We needed something new and exciting for both of us.

There needed to be good food, because we are no longer on a bread only diet.

And that's how we ended up in Bali, a first for us both.

First stop - Kayon Resort in Ubud.

It was a little bit beautiful. Set in the mountains at a waterfall, wherever you roam the calming sounds of the waterfall surround you. When you eat, you benefit from the relaxing views of the natural area around you. The service is constantly impressive. There are no children at the Kayon Resort, we decided this was a very good thing. It's designed for grown ups to sit down, refocus, rewind, relax.

And so we did.

There's plenty to explore if you want to leave the spa facilities, but personally, it's so good at the resort, you might not need much more.

Miss Meg went running. She ran and ran in that crazy humidity, she overheated so much that I've never seen a fit healthy lady sweat so many buckets while sitting in a massage waiting room. She borrowed a towel. And another. And a cold face washer. I laughed my butt off. The staff pretended nothing was happening.

On a walk through the local village you can see a wood carver creating intricate wood work. Of course it's all for sale. Some of it may not meet the rules of political correctness, but it's all tapped out by the one person.

After Ubud.

Is Seminyak.

And Hotel Indigo.

This place is LOVE at first site. LOVE at the welcome drink. LOVE at the architecture.

and at the pools

and the rooms

the food that's served up

the beach front

the service

the drivers who are available as you need them

and for the runners you can take a guided neighbourhood run, for the non-runners, ask to do a morning stretching/meditation class, it's probably the best way to start your day.

There is a lot to explore in Seminyak. But we based our decisions on one vital thing.


On your next trip to Seminyak, you won't regret a trip to Teatro. It's another spot that is not for kids.

Teatro is what happens when the most creative and artistic minds mix food and tastes together, pop in a glamorous dining room and well-informed staff then deliver a special night. Book in before you go if you want to confirm your table.

Everyone told us to add Potato Head and Ku De Ta and The W to our list of must-see. But every time we drove past we just didn't feel the vibe was ours. We kept deciding to try something else. When we did land at Potato Head it confirmed what we expected. It's a great looking place. It's fun. It's filled with very very beautiful people. It's kind of boring.

So, hello La Laguna.

It's a little out of the way. Your driver is best to confirm directions before you take off.

But it's lovely. If you're seeking pretentious, this is not the place for you. If you want linen table clothes, go somewhere else. But it you want to walk on the beach without hundreds of other people or you want to sit down and laze about, you'll love this place. Enter along the road filled with real gypsy vintage caravans and soak up a relaxed night. Kids will enjoy the space, parents will enjoy the excellent food offering and a cocktail or three.

Next, we took a chance on Nook. Highly recommended it was.

Miss Meg really loved it. I ordered for us and went for the traditional Balinese food banquet. I can't really tell you what we ate as the waiter was pretty abrupt when we asked. That's soup. Eat it with rice. What kind of soup, we'll never actually know.

Miss Meg is a lover of dogs. I am not. I did not like the large number of dogs walking around my table, under my table, under my chair and so close to my food. It might be a Bali thing, but homeless dogs at my dinner table just made me uncomfortable. Nook wasn't a favourite of mine becuase of this, but Miss Meg really liked it. The food was ok, possibly better than ok, but as I didn't really know what I was eating, it again took me that extra step too far from my comfort zone. There are many dishes to choose from that are more westernised which I could have chosen, but both of us chose local dishes when we could.

We swapped shopping time for reading by the pool time. It was too addictive and we couldn't get out of our bathers when the pool was beckoning.

We listened to Spotify songs about drinking pina coladas and we drank champagne on the beach.

We've told our kids enough times that they must eat breakfast so we knew it was beneficial to eat everything possible from the breakfast buffet.

And then we packed up.

Ordered our cars.

Returned to real life.

To lunch boxes and uniform washing. To early alarms and homework battles. To hundreds of work emails and ideas of new things to do, to build, to create and be.

You can't travel the world with just anyone. You need a very special person to do this with.

Miss Meg and I live over 2000 kms apart. We go months before she replies to a message. MONTHS. But when we travel, it's always good.

Now, we've both been to Bali too.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Remember Summer 2018

Some years, the weeks fly by and they are just good weeks even though the days are not significant.

The moments are fleeting, yet they are jigsaw pieced together to form a picture that represents an image of good times.

In future years we might not remember exactly what happened this past summer that made it something so remarkable for being so casual.

But the magic of internet sites and the oft considered a gift from the devil - the digital footprint - allows us to place the things we did, right here, right now. A catalogue to refer to and remember, when we need it.

It was a long summer, that started when school finished in the first week of December. It was also the first time since they were born that I spent a full 6 weeks away from the office and with the girls, which is something to treasure just by itself. Removing the need to find a solution for summer holiday care provided space for so much.

We had a 9th birthday to kick us off and spent it sliding around and down the most massive slides in all the lands at Funfields. There was ice cream and cake and singing and smiles.

We had Christmas on the farm, which included horse riding - well kind of horse riding, there was also the 'hang on tight to the runaway horse moment' that we will all remember for a long time.

When you have no NYE plans and the mister is working there is only one thing to do. Get on the internet and find the last minute deals. Which is how us girls found ourselves in a vintage caravan on the coast. It was perfect and even better when we realised how many people we knew down there at the time.

And then we celebrated turning 12 with a day at the nail salon and a night at the drive-in and having a turn in the virtual reality egg!

With the weather still fabulous, we headed north for a week to Yarrawonga. We had blue skies and a billion degrees so it was straight to the water of the lake or the pool in your backyard.
Hiring out boats for barbecues and ski biscuits, climbing through the water park and enjoying Australia Day fireworks. We had the best of company with good friends the whole time we were away and ate delicious local foods as we went.

Throughout the summer, our theme songs played,  each and every one a tune from the movie The Greatest Showman.

We made the decision to give this acting/modelling/photography thing a go too and Immy now has her very own agent. The first photo shoot was a bit nervy, but she was totally calm by the end.

Then school went back, the office beckoned and some minor surgery was required to keep Mr H intip-topp form.

Each weekend we squeezed in more trips to the ocean, which was splendid - until that one time when we had 'attack of the jelly fish' occur at Williamstown beach.

This photo was about 30 seconds before we raced home to the bottle of vinegar - which we will never leave home without again.

We've played games of Speak Out, taken lots of family walks, swam every week, started a new school year and had lovely friends to hang out with.

Thanks summer 2018, you've been a gem. 

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Letter to the World: Now I am 9 years old

I have been 8 years old for an entire year, which means I have quite a lot of advice for you, World.

Firstly, in every letter I've written to you over the last five or so years, I have requested a puppy. I've not been afraid to beg for a puppy. If there is something that you really truly need to make you happy, don't ever give up.  Because this year I got my own puppy. He is the best. He has done a few things like dig up the backyard and chew massive holes in our security screens, but it's totally worth it. His favourite time of the day is to sit on my lap and watch movies with me.

Puppy and a girl laying on the grass

There was a really big issue in Australia this year. All the grown-ups had to send letters to say that all grown-ups can get married if they want to, no matter who you want to marry. It made me a bit sad that some grown-ups wanted to say no. That sounded really mean and not very friendly. I don't really understand why lots of grown-ups didn't like this. I would like to go to some weddings. They sound like a lot of fun. I'd probably even wear a dress if I could be a flower girl, I've never done that before.

Marty the sheep

One of my favourite places in the whole world is my Granny's house. It is VERY old. It's so old that there are lots of fireplaces and we sleep in an attic with a spiral staircase. The garden is huge and there is a mulberry tree that we sit in and play games and eat berries and then you can go down a slide to get out. There is Marty the sheep in the paddock next door and there is a real cellar with scary stairs to go down (I never go down there). There is a creek that you can play in and a pond with frogs. There are fairies that play in the flower gardens. After my Poppy died, Granny said she had to sell the house, but no one wanted to buy it, which made me very happy.

Until now.

Tomorrow another family is moving in. I don't want to talk about that anymore.

I do want to talk about being a voice artist. That's when I get to record stories or words and people use my voice for their videos or for voice recognition projects. I did three of those kinds of projects this year and I really loved it. I got to go in this cool recording studio and read with all different levels of enthusiasm. Sometimes they ask to 'smile with your voice' or 'sound a bit worried' it's like reading a really good book with all the right voices. I would REALLY like to do some acting or some photography work, but my Mum says maybe when I am older. Unless of course she needs me to work for a project she is working on, then I just have to do it. Which is actually fine by me!

8 year old girl voice recording artist

This year I made a lot of slime. It's a good thing to do and highly recommended.

At my school in grade 3 you get a chance to prepare a speech and present it to the whole year level and teachers and that's about ONE HUNDRED PEOPLE. I was so shaky and nervous but I really wanted to give it a go. That's how the teachers decide who will be the captains of our school next year. Last week I got a letter to say I did a good job and I am vice-captain of my house. Hashtag HAPPY.

I did lots of drawings this year. Mum likes to take photos of them before she cleans the chalkboard. She then always says, one day, I am painting over this chalk board. But she never does.

If you're looking for advice here are my five tips for 2019.

  1. Wear your seatbelt. Even when you are on the bus.
  2. Always add honey to your banana smoothie. And cinnamon, don't forget the cinnamon.
  3. Watch movies and read books, they are good for you. Or, listen to them - a voice artist might read the whole thing for you.
  4. Get a puppy.
  5. Don't call people names. It's nasty.

That's all I got this year.
Be good to each other.


Friday, November 10, 2017

What the cool kids wear to the best parks

If you played your cards right in Melbourne this week then you'll be one of the lucky people to be having an extra long weekend.

Thank you Melbourne Cup. 

And long weekends are perfect for checking out the new parks around town, so that is exactly what we did.

First stop was the new Aeroplane Park in Braybrook. This is an old park that was closed a couple of years ago when it was ruined by a fire. The latest version has just reopened and it's an excellent mix of things for kids of all ages. With things to climb on, paths to scoot on, whizzy things, swingy things and space to lounge about on the grass.

The gardens are still being planted so this park is just going to get better and better over the next few months.

The next day we headed to a new housing estate on the edge of town.

These areas seem to have clued on to the concept that people will pay more to live near great play areas. Which means that they seem to be competing to have the best playgrounds and facilities and the parks are the first things built.


We headed out to take a look at the Woodlea playground.

I found a wonderful big log and played "Lay Like a Lizard in the Sun". In this game, you must lay very still, just like a lizard that hopes no one will you see you. I am very very good at this game.

Miss 11, spent a lot of time climbing. On ropes, logs, stairs to the top of the cubby thingo.

She was also pretty happy to be decked out in the new Harry Potter t-shirt that was gifted to us last week. It's a never-ending struggle to find clothes for girls that are not 8 years old. The options go from toddler clothes to nightclub with very little in between, making the Harry Potter fashion line one of the best choices for us.

Mr H is not one to miss out on any chance of having a bit of fun, so he was first up the stairs to climb through the rope tunnel - yep, it holds grown-ups.

When it comes to Harry Potter fashions there is no chance Miss 8 is missing out. When our parcel arrived she grabbed this t-shirt with both hands, put it on and has barely taken it off since. She needs her clothes to be the right fabric, the right fit, the right feel. If there's anything with an itchy seam, a wonky tag, sequins sown's not going to get out of the drawer.

This slogan was also pretty spot on. She'll be waiting for that letter and off to Hogwarts in the new year.

Have to say I really like this new spinny whizzy thing at this park. You just can't fall off it. If you do get in to such a state that you are rolling off, it will be a gentle roll on the rubbery soft floor. It's also something kids of all abilities can get on to.

Woodlea Park has a space for waterplay too - if you take small kids, you better take spare clothes as they are not going to be able to resist playing in the sand and water and fountains.

As all good weekends should, we finished up with a night out at a new restaurant and ate as much as we could squish in - which was quite a lot because hanging at the park all afternoon made for many hungry tummies - even that of the lizard.

Harry Potter t-shirts were gifted to us, but they are available at Big W, along with a range of other items for the tween ager in or HP fan in your life.

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Good Luck Ghost

I don't believe in ghosts.

Except for those ones that haunt old lunatic asylums and prisons and places of great historical significance.

I don't believe in spirits of those that have died. Other than the ones that I sometimes talk to.

I don't believe there is a God for you to pray to who is going to have magical powers and change what is going to happen anyway, but I am not going to miss the chance to try and barter my way for a better result if I can - just in case.

A couple of weeks ago I saw a Facebook competition. That is not a big deal, you see them all the time. But as a social media manager who hangs on Facebook more than you ever should, I also know that it is against FB policy to ask people to TAG OR SHARE your post and when I see that day after day I have to eat cheezels to make myself chill out about it. So I have been eating hundreds of cheezels and this is not really a good thing, anyway, I am not writing about cheezels. But I do have some if you want one.

Anyway, back to the competition I saw. It was offering 200 bucks to spend on some Yarra Trail clothes and it did NOT breach the Facebook rules. So I did what I do whenever I see these competitions, I entered to win.

I entered to win because my Mum loves herself a few Yarra Trail clothes and she is not shy of an iron, which is important because most of the stuff is made from beautiful linen. Beautiful linen that requires a commitment to being ironed.

This is also not a huge thing, I often enter competitions like this, I love them. They are free to enter, make me think about what to write, introduce me to a new product and then I scroll on and carry on with my day. Haven't seen a prize for a couple of years and the last one I won was a high chair, but I don't have a baby.

Did you know it's been five years today since my Dad died? I am not sure if he is a ghost or a spirit or if he is looking down on us shouting to stop moping around and bloody do something. Perhaps he's hanging out in heaven waiting for us, or maybe he's just dead, the end.

But last night, I got an email. I won the Styling You competition and Mum now has 200 smackers to spend on herself. I think it's my Dad still looking out for my Mum. And the rest of us. Telling us that he's still around. He's trying to tell me he's like my good luck ghost and when the good things are happening, that's when he's here, I just need to look about more. But then, I don't believe in ghosts. Do I? 

Friday, September 29, 2017

Big 4 Apollo Bay

When there's an invitation for a weekend away, we're the first people to say yes.

Which is why we found ourselves having a long visit to We've headed that way ourselves but always stopped a few towns before Apollo Bay.
Apollo Bay last weekend. It's three hours drive from Melbourne along the Great Ocean Road. But it's three hours that most people find that bit too far.

If you don't make that extra effort, you're really missing out on some beautiful scenery. The ocean, the trees. So fabulous.

We booked into the Big 4 Holiday Park because we are kind of groupies to the Big 4 park. Our cabin was looking straight at the beach, we could walk from our door to the beach in seconds.

The cabin was spacious, with plenty of room for friends and family to join us for meals, for all the kids to lay out and watch a DVD or a movie on Foxtel. We had three bedrooms and the cabin could sleep 7 very comfortably. The spa bath was a very welcome addition and the perfect place to sit and relax and read my book while the kids were out playing in the park area.

The weather was freezing. It was cold and wet and not so spring-like conditions. But the kids still made it into the heated pool. It was heated well, but it is an outdoor pool so be prepared for warm showers straight afterwards if the weather is arctic, like we had.

We did manage a small amount of time walking along the beach, but the wind was working hard to discourage us. Instead, we headed out in the car and found the beautiful Otways to walk through. With trees hundreds of years old sheltering us we had a break from the wind and enjoyed the lush green ferns. There is nothing bad to say about spending time in the trees.

Apollo Bay has plenty of places to eat, parks to run around in and we tried out two of the local pubs. My favourite was the Apollo Bay Hotel - because I had the Pumpkin and Blue Cheese Pizza, and let's be honest, I've never met a blue cheese I didn't love.

This is not a sponsored post. We visited, paid, checked things out and researched what to do all by ourselves.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

A sneaky snow day - Lake Mountain

It's no secret I never cope with winter.

Around the corner from us is a street that we have renamed Blossom Street. Each spring time, the trees in the street blossom a few weeks before every other. They are the indication that I have nearly got through winter. But this is Melbourne. So Blossom Street has already turned to leaves but the snow fall is also continuing. 

Mr H loves the snow. LOVES IT. In this, we are not a match. I find very little about snow lifts, bulky clothing, wet socks and frost bite to be fun. He sees nothing but happiness. 

Last week when the snow was just too good to resist, Mr H got up early and told the girls he was cancelling school and they were going to the snow. 

They were dressed in minutes and on the road to Lake Mountain. 

If you're in Melbourne, Lake Mountain is a very easy trip to take. Leave at 7.30 am and you'll be on the mountain for morning tea. 

They made one quick stop for some snow boots for the girls and grabbed some extra ski goggles.

Lake Mountain did not disappoint. They spent six hours playing in the snow, tobogganing, making a snowman and exploring the bush. 

They had snowflakes that stayed on their nose and eyelashes. 

For lunch, Mr H had packed a thermos with hot dogs and thrown a bag of bread rolls in the car, that's his version of packing a picnic. 

We had some toboggans they took with them, but because Mr H can't share, he also hired an extra one for himself. You can get whatever you need on the mountain, but we've always found the best service is in the towns before the mountain - like Marysville. These are usually small businesses with excellent service and information, on the mountain customer service doesn't seem to be a KPI for most job descriptions - they'd probably prefer to be out in the snow rather than serving you. Don't let this stop you from getting your kids up to the land of the white fluffy stuff. They are going to really love it. 

 HOT TIP - Teach your kids to stop before they take their first trip down the slope.