We had a lazy morning today (seems to be frequent, but that’s what holiday is for, right). We set off for a walk just after a quick lunch. Busselton has a jetty that juts out nearly 2km into the sea. It is the longest wooden jetty (pier) in the southern hemisphere. You can walk or take a little train down to the end where there is an underwater observatory. The jetty is a good 55 minute walk from our house so we set off in that direction. About 1/3 of the way there Tom and Alex turned around to get the car. Sofia, Serafina and I kept going until the boys picked us up. It was a good choice as the sky was getting darker. We parked up near the jetty and had a bite to eat at and some coffee at The Goose which is situated right on the water near the jetty. We decided against paying to walk or ride to the end of the jetty because we had done it last time we were here and because the rain clouds were getting darker and closer. The observatory was also closed today. The kids wanted to play at the park further down the beach so we headed in that direction while Tom backtracked to move the car in case of rain. It all turned out to be pretty good timing as it began to rain pretty hard. We all piled into the car and headed out to find something else to do.
I checked a few websites and the Margaret River Chocolate Factory was mentioned so off we went. Tourist Trap. There was a window where you could watch what was being made and there were hundreds of different chocolates to buy but it all seemed a bit too much and it was full of people so we bailed without getting anything. On our way out we did stop for a quick sample of white, milk, and dark chocolate.
On our way back towards Busselton we picked up Subway for dinner. The kids inhaled a Kids Meal each and Tom and I split a salad bowl. After showers the kids tried to teach themselves how to play charades much to our humour. With only a couple more days until we leave for Singapore we have a few more things to do. The kids want to go to a reptile park and Tom wants to take them to a lighthouse on Thursday.
This day is a bit of a blur. After packing up everything and loading up the car we hit the road headed for the Margaret River area of Western Australia. Today’s drive took us through the majestic karri trees, some of the tallest in the world. They grown in the southwest of Western Australia. They are also known as Eucalyptus Diversicolour. They are reminiscent of the California Redwoods. Of course along with these stops we have to feed Sarafina and change her nappy. She was a great traveller today only waking for food and nappy changes. Now it is the older kids who were doing our heads in about the iPads. We have been limiting iPad time in the car for many reasons, but mostly because of car sickness which is very real with these two.
Our Airbnb is in Busselton for the next few nights. When we pulled up to the house it was dark and looked older than we thought. Inside was a bit surreal. It is totally 70s (think Brady Bunch) but immaculate. It is very well taken care of. The layout is interesting and allows the kids to run circles over and over and over again. There is no main bathroom; the only full one is located off of a bedroom. The one in the hallway has no toilet; that toilet is down the hallway at the end of the laundry, but with no sink. Anyway, it has turned out to be a great house for us so far. Tom and Sofia went out to IGA to find some dinner for us and later Tom and Alex went back over there because they forgot the tomato sauce (Alex finds it difficult to eat a meal without tomato or bbq sauce).
The kids settled in working on some puzzles after they ate their dinner. I think they would love some other children to play with as they have been volatile. They have been very good with Serafina as well. They will check on her if she is crying or sit with her when I need to get other jobs done.
Like I said a few posts ago, I haven’t done much with this blog for nearly a year. In August of last year I found out I was pregnant. Those of you that followed me over here from Vox may recall me needing assistance to get pregnant with Sofia (born in 2007) and the same with Alex born in 2010. This time I fell pregnant naturally at 40! I had started trying to lose weight so I had done six weeks of no sugar when I went off to my first mammogram appointment. The tech asked if I was or could be pregnant. My response, “Nooooo, not possible at all. But my breasts are a bit tender from PMS.” I went home and thought about it. Does PMS last two weeks? Hmmm, most likely not. Off to buy a five-pack of pregnancy tests. Needless to say, it was positive, and so were the subsequent tests I did and confirmed by blood testing with my gp. To say I as shocked was an understatement. Sofia would be 8 and Alex 5 when baby is born. It took me months to truly process that I was having a baby.
So, here she is at seven weeks, after her first ever airplane flight. So far she is a good little traveller in the car as well. Her name is Serafina Violet and she is a little darling. We love her 🙂
I’m going to do a brief recount of these two days for the sake of getting caught up. We stayed at Middleton Beach in a place booked via Airbnb (Albany B adhesive Apartment). It turned out to be a brilliant accommodation for us. There were three bedrooms with ensuite in all of the rooms. The owners lived across the hall in the adjoining house.
The first morning we got up and had our breakfast and readied ourselves for the day. On our way out the door we ran into the owners who recommended a couple of parks for us. We first walked over to a small park with beach access (Middleton Beach) and had a walk on the beach down to the larger park and cafe (Three Anchors). Tom got us coffees and a snack while the kids played. Once we finished up our coffees we took the kids over to the newly renovated EyrePark. The kids had heaps of things to choose from. I left them there with Tom and took Serafina back to the house to eat and change her nappy.
Once they all came back from the park we had some lunch and packed up to go on a drive. As we started driving out of Albany I started getting a very familiar migraine aura, flashing lights on the right side of my vision. I hadn’t had this in years. Worried about getting a terrible migraine, Tom dropped me, Sofia and Serafina back at the apartment and took Alex out for a while. They visited the TV tower on top of the hill and then ran some errands before coming back. I never did get a migraine, only a slight headache and I felt very tired from taking a Valium. Sofia watched a movie quietly in the bedroom.
We had a quiet evening, the kids watched another movie together, Tom made dinner and I looked after Serafina. The kids got to bed fairly late. We have been pretty lax with bedtimes as they will be jet lagged often on this trip.
The next morning we got up and got ourselves ready for the day and took a drive over to the town of Denmark. We had some lunch at Mrs Jones Cafe. Alex had a cheese toastie and chips, Sofia chicken skewers, salad and chips and Tom and I shared Kashmiri chicken (mediocre). We returned home midday and started to get ourselves organised for departure the next day. Tom and I did some laundry, the kids played imaginary games, etc. we made sure everything as organised to make things easier to pack up in the morning. The kids were ready for bed much earlier tonight because they were tired. Off to the Margaret River area on Tuesday.
The family woke quite early considering our bodies are two hours ahead on Sydney time. For some reason it took us hours to get out of the house. All four of us showered which took some time. Everything takes twice as long for me with a newborn, even with family help with her. We had no breakfast so after packing up the car we stopped off for Egg McMuffins at Maccas. Today we drive from the outskirts of Perth down to Albany on the south coast of Western Australia.
We got a long stretch of driving done first thing after eating. The kids begged to watch shows on the iPads so after their loud talking and asking a million question drove us to insanity we caved. They ended up doing who knows what on them. Games most likely. Sofia has a propensity to have motion sickness so she had a motion sickness pill. Out of the blue Alex mentioned that he didn’t feel great. He often says this when he wants to stay home from school. We didn’t know if he really meant it (The boy who cried wolf) or not. He did. He vomited all over the floor mat, his booster seat, the seat in front of him and his jeans and jacket. This happened not long after I changed Serafina’s nappy and managed to mess that up s badly that he clothes were covered in wee. Back to the car. It smelled BAD. Tom did the best he could to clean up in the middle of nowhere while I got Alex into some clean clothes. Back on the road with no iPads.
It was 1pm when we got to Katanning to find some lunch. After doing a quick scan of the town we settled on a corner cafe. As we all piled out of the car I watched the last two staff members walk out and lock the door. On to something else. Luckily in the distance I could see another cafe sign so we walked down to see what we could find. We ended up at The Daily Grind for lunch. Tom and I shared a Caesar salad with chicken and beef rashers (it was Halal) and the kids had fish fingers (fish don’t have fingers) and chips. We passed through Katanning a few years back and had a destination in mind. There is a place called the All Ages Playground with oversized structures for playing. The kids had a blast last time so we were off to revisit. Last time Alex was scaring me to death with his climbing. He was so little and had no qualms about climbing the highest structures so I had to follow him to help. Luckily the highest one was partially disassembled this time, but the kids went crazy for the rest of it. It looks like it belongs in a deserted Soviet town.
After burning some energy we hit the road again as we still had a while to go to get to Albany. It was an uneventful drive into the town. We did stop for groceries on the way to our Airbnb apartment. Tom and Alex dragged all of our bags into the house and I unpacked us so we could settle in for three nights. Tom cooked some dinner while I dealt with little miss fussy Serafina. The kids worked on their journals and watched the iPad before bed. Tom did a load of very smelly laundry (from Alex’s mishap earlier in the day). The weather outlook for the next few days looks grim!
17 June 2016
The family was up early with the nervous anticipation of starting this long holiday. The kids will be out of school for two weeks before school holidays and two weeks after school holidays so they are thrilled with our decision to pull them out of school. We spent a few hours finalising packing, refereeing the big kids, keeping baby Serafina happy, fed, and feeling loved as well as attempting to get everyone ready for the day.
We attempted to pack light. With five of us travelling it isn’t easy, especially since we have a week in Australian winter. Our winters are mild in comparison to some, but we still needed warmish clothes as wind and rain was forecast. We also had to worry about Scotland; who ever knows what sort of weather you are going to get up in the Highlands, even in summer. Most of the other places we will visit need warm weather clothing. Our main luggage consisted of two medium-sized roll-aboards. Along with our luggage we have Serafina’s car seat with base and pram as well as a booster for Alex. Three backpacks and a carry on for spare clothes, nappies, etc rounds out our haul.
Our taxi van arrived to pick us up around 11. After the standard drive to the airport with two very talkative and loud children and very quiet baby we unloaded at Qantas domestic and checked in for our Business Class flight to Perth. Once the rest of our luggage was offloaded in oversized luggage we were off to the Business lounge for some lunch and drinks before taking off.
All in all our flight was uneventful. We were downgraded to an older plane instead of the nice business class seats we had expected. It was all good, though. There was a bassinet for Serafina (she spent very little time in there). Alex and Tom sat together by the window and Sofia and I sat together in the middle section. All three kids were very good on the flight. The big kids glued themselves to iPads and Serafina did her part to catnap and be cute. Several flight attendants had a cuddle with her so I could have a break. She only made a little bit of noise when she was hungry. She had a very successful first ever flight.
Out flight was slightly delayed on departure but that time was made up in the air. We landed in Perth, collected our luggage and then picked up our Nissan Pathfinder. Arguments happened because both kids wanted the third row of seats. Ultimately Sofia won out because there were no Isofix points for his booster seat. Poor Alex was not happy. It took ages to get everything arranged in the car, car seats installed, etc. Our accommodation for the night was a 3-bedroom Big4 cabin in the Swan Valley. It worked out to be a decent place to stay. We were all pretty exhausted and soon got off to sleep trying to adjust ourselves to the two hour time change from Sydney.
It’s been quite some time since I have written anything here. Time for a quick catch up.
It was 14 years ago, the weekend of 1 June 2002, I boarded a flight to London to start, unbeknownst to us, our expat adventures. Tom was already in England covering a maternity leave for 4-6 months. After 3.5 years there, we went on to Hamburg, Germany for a short stint and then back to the north of England from 2005-2010. It was late in 2009 we got the call that landed us in Sydney, Australia. It was a quick, but rough transition with me being pregnant, Sofia being 2, and Tom whisked away to work in December/January. Tom has been with his company since 1999. We were lucky to travel and move around as we did with the company as they also went through several transitions.
In December 2015 we found ourselves in an interesting position. Tom was told his job in Sydney would be done at the end of March (which eventually got pushed to end of June). Sydney had been our home for six years and we needed to decide if we wanted to make it our home for a while longer. In the end we decided going back to the US to live in Chicago wasn’t what we wanted to do and the job Tom was offered there wasn’t exactly what he wanted to be doing. Tom resigned from his company and finished up 31 May. We are staying in Sydney as locals. No more expat benefits (sniff, sniff). We’ve had a good run of being expats with his company but now we are planning to become Permanent Residents and eventually get our citizenship. Our children will be able to decide where they want to live and go to school with two passports–American and Australian.
So, what to do with some time off? Travel, of course. Tom busied himself with booking us around the world tickets. We will be spending the next six weeks travelling. I will attempt to update every day with our adventures. We are travelling with our daughter who is 8, our son who turns 6 a week into our holiday, and the newest addition to our family who is coming up on 2 months old.
Itinerary: Sydney-Western Australia (Perth, Albany/Denmark, Margaret River)-Singapore-England (East Yorkshire, Northumberland), Scotland-Denmark (Copenhagen, Island of Fyn), Germany (Munich), USA (Charlotte NC, Wake Forest, Hampton VA, Minneapolis MN, Grand Forks ND, Minneapolis)-Sydney.
On our final morning in Vancouver, we stored at Prospect Point, one of my favourite viewpoints in Vancouver. The weather had cleared and it was a glorious day. However, as we were taking in the view, I realised that our flight time was fast approaching and we needed to high tail it to the airport to catch our flights to San Francisco and Anchorage.
It was raining cats and dogs when we arrived in Squamish. Plus, Tracey and Alex were dead tired. So Sófia and Tom visited the railway heritage park while Tracey and Alex had a nap. Great collection of old locomotives and carriages, and an active workshop restoring old rolling stock. Sófia absolutely loved it!