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Kian and Kaira are 4!

I never know where to begin when it comes to wishing a happy birthday to any of our tiny trio! The days feel so long sometimes but the years are starting to feel shorter than ever as we say goodbye to the toddler years and hello to our FOUR YEAR OLD preschoolers (I know, how did that happen?!) We heard Kian wake up with “Kaira we are 4!!” last Saturday morning and we knew that marked the start of a very special (and very, very, very busy) day!

It feels like only yesterday Ariana was the same age as the twins (the pictures are here) and we noticed a massive transition from baby to big girl. Time is flying by but not a day goes by when I don’t wonder what I did to get so lucky to have 3 beautiful constant companions!

The twins teach us more about their special bond every day with Kian asserting himself into the role of protector telling Kaira things like “remember I’m here if you need me in the night” and letting her win the games they play (because it’s a lot easier than dealing with Kaira when she’s angry, which is good practice for his married life one day) and Kaira reminding Kian how to tidy away his toys, put his shoes on before he goes outside and to “be quiet Kian!” to give her a chance to speak now and again (he honestly never stops talking). They’re both such different characters but one thing they do the same is to ensure they are always by each other’s side whether that’s while they’re sitting on a plane or simply on the sofa.

We really are so proud of all of our kids and even though we complain about the cost of their parties, we still seem to keep throwing them every time their birthdays come around! These are the pictures from Kian and Kaira’s special day, if you’d like to see.

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Ariana insisted on buying her sister this little lipgloss compact in the shape of a mobile phone. I’m not sure if it was for Kaira’s benefit or her own because of course she had to have one too!

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The kids were so lucky to get presents and cards from our friends and family back home before we came back to Melbourne and they opened each with excitement as we read them the messages from our loved ones.

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Although the twins have worked out weird and wonderful ways to antagonise each other and make my blood pressure soar whenever they feel like it, the friendship between them is extraordinary. They play together for 12 hours every day and we still have to tell them it’s time to stop playing and go to sleep at night. They are so close and we hope they always will be.

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We held the party at Steeples in Mornington as we were in England right up until a week before the big day. It was a great location to let the kids run riot while we sipped necked bubbles with our friends and someone else took care of the cooking and cleaning (WINNING!)

The twins chose a PJ Masks themed cake as it’s their favourite cartoon and it’s also our go-to show when mummy needs ‘a little sit down in peace for 5 minutes’ (or 45 minutes if we play them back to back). A cake maker from My Cake Craze (on Facebook) came up with this design for us. I would have voted for a little less food colouring if given the choice but hey, I didn’t have to make it and the fact that the kids had toxic looking toilet trips for a few days later is far less important than that.

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Face painting and a playcentre, what more could the kids want on their birthday!

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The staff at Steeples provided pass the parcel for the kids to enjoy, although the rest of the customers probably didn’t enjoy the noise they all made while the game was taking place. I don’t think they’ll be putting whistles in the parcels anymore, put it that way!

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We loved sharing the special day with the friends we’ve made here on the Mornington Peninsula and although we missed lots of people back in the UK, we are so, so blessed to have such beautiful people in our lives right here and now. The twins were so happy when we got home, opening the amazing gifts they’d been given and we were so happy to not have the aftermath of a kids party to clean up after! Everyone was a winner!

It really was a wonderful day and I really can’t believe our kids are now 6 and 4 years old. Where is the time going?!

Thank you for being there!

Love from Leyla

Settling in the sunshine

It’s safe to say we are fickle! As much as I hesitated and procrastinated getting on that flight back from the UK, the sun has put on such a wonderful display over the past few days that I’m feeling happy to be back in Melbourne!

We flew Emirates to Dubai then Quantas to Melbourne on Tuesday afternoon. I’m not going to lie, those final farewells were awful but the flights themselves were more manageable than we expected. Despite getting lost and being the last to board our connecting flight at Dubai airport due to the enormous size of the place, the kids were exceptionally good (sleeping for 10 hours!) and even though the food was AWFUL, the snacks we packed kept us going.

The jetlag has been much harder travelling against the sun and we’ve had some very disrupted nights (even starting our day at 3am on Thursday) and as much as I love the kids, reliving the exhaustion of when the twins were newborn is a phobia I can’t revisit. Thankfully last night, we all slept right through and we met the beautiful day with renewed enthusiasm for our Australian adventure.

My lovely friend Kristie invited us to join her at The Briars today as it is host to a Family Funday on the last Sunday of every month. What a lovely surpise it was to find live music, hot chips and cold beer in the grounds of the historical homestead with stunning surrounding views of the Peninsula.

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As soon as the kids got out of the car, off they ran and played in the 25 degree sunshine. I don’t know if it’s the return from England or the fact that Spring has just arrived in Melbourne but we couldn’t get over the colour of the sky today – just look at that bright blue!IMG_4420 (Large)-1

I am pretty lucky to be thrust every flower the kids see (even if some do ‘accidentally’ get blown away by the wind ;)) I know it’s a passing phase so I’m treasuring their little gifts! IMG_4470 (Large)-3

The atmosphere was so lively, we thoroughly enjoyed feeling part of the buzzing local community.

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The food trucks at all the outdoor events we go to are so good! They can be a bit pricey ($7 for a very small glass of wine and $6 for the potato twists today) but access to the Briars is completely free and we decided the next time we go, we’ll take our own refreshments! Thank you Kristie for recommending the event and for rescuing my kids from sunburn with sunscreen! I really need to get used to packing that everywhere we go again!

While the girls made their way to the craft tent to make Halloween bats from paper plates (another free activity), Kian made the most of the frisbees, balls and skittles available on the lawn. They were all happily entertained so Ste and I kicked off our shoes with a glass of cold beer and contemplated the contrast between the Sunday afternoons we spend here and the ones spent back in Manchester. It really is a more outdoors lifestyle here in Australia and there’s no doubt that the kids absolutely revel in it.

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After a couple of hours, we made our way back down the hill to the Visitors Centre. The kids love learning about the different types of animals roaming around the enclosure and even though we missed the Emu’s, they were happy looking out for ducks and other various types of birds.

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If you haven’t guessed, the twins have had new bikes for their upcoming 4th birthday presents. We bought them yesterday and they haven’t been off them since, waking us up early shouting “we want to ride our bikes!”

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We had a lovely afternoon at The Briars then came home and after a Persian dinner, the kids were right back outside again running around with water guns in the garden while new freckles appeared on their cheeks and our worries about returning to Melbourne melted in the heat. It feels good to be back, whether that’s fickle or not!

Love from Leyla

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So far but so good

I can’t even describe how I’m feeling right now. Saying goodbye to our family and friends from home is as hard 18 months after our move to Melbourne as it was the first time around. If you’ve been following our adventure here or on our Instagram stories, you’ll know we’ve done so many things since we landed back in Manchester for our holiday from dancing to Disney, sightseeing and snow-play but nothing is as important to me as the time we’ve spent just being with the people we love.

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I hope you’ve seen the film of us surprising my grandparents when we arrived 3 weeks ago (but if you haven’t, it’s here) and we’ve visited them again as much as possible since. It’s been wonderful to spend time them and with my cousins and their kids too. The kids have come alive being with their family even though the twins haven’t seen them since they were 2, but I honestly believe they know when they’re with people that love them because their laughter has been relentless and their personalities have been shining like the little stars they are.

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It’s been so lovely to visit Ste’s nanna too during this trip. The cards we get every Christmas and birthday from relatives like Betty mean the absolute world to us when we’re in Australia and we’ve found a packet of Tim Tams is a great way to say thank you!

img_0499 img_0500 img_0501 img_0498We are so grateful to my mum for letting us borrow her house for our holiday and to my sister Ciana and her husband Stuart for putting her up (or putting up with her!) They run the nicest bed and breakfast called Oak House Hotel so if you’re ever looking for a place to stay within easy reach of Manchester City Centre, check it out!IMG_0588 IMG_0593 IMG_0594 IMG_0592

^^^A cuddle with grandma can heal any hurt! I am going to miss you more than I can bare mum!^^^IMG_9132 img_0533 img_0532 img_0531 img_0530

^^^Making pizzas with grandpa was a lot of fun! I love spending time with my dad, he has been such an inspiration to me to be the best version of myself all of my life and I am so proud to call him my hero. We were happy the kids got some veggies on their dinner too – winner winner, I didn’t have to cook dinner!^^^img_0534img_0487

^^^My gorgeous sisters. I am going to miss them so much!^^^

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There is so much love in these pictures,  I can’t even put it into words how happy they make me! We have enjoyed so many lovely Persian dinners, traditional pub lunches, picnics in the sunshine (yes, even in the Autumn weather!) and soul warming cuddles with our parents and siblings. Every single one of the memories we’ve made has restored my faith in who we are and where we’ve come from and it’s been worth every pound we’ve spent and put on (from all the curries and fish and chips!)

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Having your makeup done by your best friend could go one of 2 ways and we have made an absolute mess of each others faces since we were 11 year old amateurs, but thankfully she now is a wonderfully talented artist who spoiled me with a makeover before a night out we had with our closest friends and if you would like to be pampered (and pick up a few tips too!) you can find Carolyne on Facebook – Makeup by Carolyne

IMG_0537 IMG_0510 IMG_0542 IMG_0474 IMG_0475 IMG_0476 FullSizeRenderMoving overseas has made me so grateful for the friends have kept in touch with me every single day even though I was hundreds of miles away. I remember someone telling me when we first moved to Melbourne that my friends would soon move on and I felt heartbroken at the thought especially about Carolyne, Jane and Dionne who have been my besties since we met at highschool 27 years ago. The shared history we have from knowing each other for most of our lives, makes me so proud that for almost 3 decades we’ve been there for each other through thick and thin. All of our friends made so much effort to spend time with us during the past few weeks, I’ll never forget the fun we’ve had and I think I’ve laughed more in these last few days than I have in the past 2 years!

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I can’t write this post without telling you about  my beautiful friend of 20 years, Laura and The Woodland Spa that she booked for us last week. Together we have graduated at university, travelled the world and have 7 children including a set of twins each so we feel connected on a level that has to be as close to soul mates as you can get. It really was a wonderful way to spend the day catching up with each other and even though we speak at least once a week when I’m in Melbourne, being back together was a breath of fresh air I will treasure forever.

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I always felt really lucky that the mum’s of Ariana’s best friends were my best friends here too and being back together again has been absolutely amazing. The kids are all a little bit taller but that literally is the only thing that’s changed when we are back together! We went back to Ariana’s old school to see everyone that means so much to us and it was like we’ve never been away as the kids came running across the playground shouting “Ariana!” much to her delight! She even had sleepovers with her best friend Isla who has been writing to her constantly since we left England and her mum Lexi and I are so proud of the relationship they’ve maintained since they were 2 years old. We love them all so much and miss them every single day.

Last night, we said goodbye again to all the friends and family that we love (I’ll share those pictures with you ASAP!) and I can honestly say, it was heartbreaking so much so that I felt my knees give way more than once. This trip has been a really important reminder of who we are and where we’re from, I just wish it had given us a clue about where we are meant to be because this journey has been as metaphorical as it has been literal. Tomorrow we leave for Melbourne again and I am hoping I can shake this sadness in the sunshine with the lovely friends we have made there too. I guess home is wherever we are together and I’m so grateful for that.

I’ll keep you posted.

Love from Leyla

 

 

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We ❤️ Manchester

It was a hugely humbling experience being back at the MEN Arena last week, not only because we were back at the heart of the city we love but because of the terrible tragedy that we witnessed unfold only a few months ago.

The Manchester bomb shook me to my very core when we watched the news from our home in Melbourne and we felt a pull back to our homeland stronger than ever before and despite the half empty Arena, we were very proud to support our city and indulge the kids in a whole lot of Disney on Ice!

The kids sat through the whole two hour production and we were all amazed by the stunts the performers did on the ice! The choreography and light show was pretty amazing and and we all agreed it’s something we’re glad we did during our visit!

Another favourite activity we’ve managed to squeeze in during our holiday at home was a visit to the Chill FactorE. One of the things the kids have told us that they miss about England is the snow (they’re on their own there!) so when Ste’s parents offered to take them, we jumped at the chance not only to watch them all have fun together but to stay warm indoors while they sledged and spun in the minus four temperature!

They came spinning down the slopes in doughnuts, sledges and burrowed through tunnels in the ice until their little noses turned red and their craving for snow play was satisfied!

We had a little look around the Trafford Centre on our way home and despite my longing to accumulate some summer sale bargains, I was dragged to the water fountain, Pizza Hut and strangely enough into Lush so the kids could play with the bath bombs! I suppose I can wait for our next visit to England to grab some bargains!

Manchester has been a lot of fun for us and the kids during this break, it hasn’t helped my missing home at all!

Will share more very soon.

Love from Leyla

Well, the past two weeks has been an absolute whirlwind of energy and emotions! I’d say it feels like we haven’t stopped but that’s because we literally haven’t as we attempted to pack in 18 months worth of quality time into 21 days with our nearest and dearest. It has been so wonderful to be back in the place we called home for so long and seeing the kids with their grandparents again has made this experience absolutely worth both the dollar and distance and not just because we’ve had babysitters again!!!

Ste’s parents still live in the beautiful 18th century cottage where he grew up and its been wonderful to watch the kids run around the stone bricked gardens and create havoc amongst the original features that Brenda and Steve have so lovingly restored. As the house is now for sale, we made a film to remind the kids of the house and the fun they had during our visit and it’s here if you’d like to see it….

I haven’t heard the kids laugh so much in a long time. Seeing them being loved and admired by people other than us has done wonders for their confidence and for our peace of mind as now we know even though we have moved to the other side of the world, reunions like these aren’t as impossible as they felt at one point. I have so much to tell you about the past few weeks, I will work through these hundreds of pictures and share them with you ASAP!

Love from Leyla

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We got them good!

Well, last night was the first we all slept through until 7am so it’s safe to say our jetlag has finally subsided! Those 4am starts were not great for our energy or morale and I think I’ve been in even more of a daze than usual as we’ve darted around from house to house visiting our family and friends. What a whirlwind our first few days in England have been!

It is the most wonderful feeling being in Manchester again and the love that we’ve felt in every tight squeeze we’ve been given has been recharging our batteries after running on empty for the past few months. We have been having the most amazing time in Melbourne and the kids are already talking about their plans for when we return to the beautiful Spring sunshine we left behind but the need to see our loved ones became all consuming for me so we booked our flights and here we are!

One of the highlights of the past few days has been surprising my grandparents with our visit. We hadn’t told them we were coming so the looks on their faces was priceless! My childhood would not have been the same without their love and affection and most of my happiest memories of growing up involve being in their home surrounded by my cousins, aunties, uncles and parents. I don’t think I’ll ever forget how good it felt to be back in their arms and here’s a film if you’d like to see…

I hope they’ve forgiven me for the shock! We have such a busy time ahead of us with so many people we want to see before our holiday at home is over. I am going to cherish every moment.

Can’t wait to share more with you soon!

Love from Leyla

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A film of our flight!

After a very long journey that we had to keep quiet as we wanted to surprise some people with our visit, we can safely say WE ARE HOME! I’m so happy to be here and the kids are being lavished with all the love and affection that only family can bring. I made a film of our 24 hour flight, mostly taken from my Instagram stories if you’d like to see:

These next few weeks are going to be super special for us and I can’t wait to share them with you (when the jetlag subsides!)

Love from Leyla

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Back to Manchester we go!

I can’t actually believe that I’m writing this blog post from my mum’s house, a place that I’ve seen in my dreams practically every night since we moved to Melbourne and it feels completely surreal! The decision to visit home took us a long time to reach as we catapulted between the pros (seeing our family and friends) and cons (the journey and cost) until we came to the conclusion that eighteen months into our Australian adventure, ours hearts and souls needed a recharge.

It’s been an amazing opportunity to start a new life down under and I feel really proud of the home we’ve created and the network of wonderful people who have quickly  become our very close friends but it has been challenging and I can honestly tell you it feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders since we touched down in Manchester city! If you’ve ever felt anxiety you’ll know the knot in the pit of your stomach or the tension in your shoulders that is with you everywhere you go and it’s not something I’d ever experienced until we were effectively on our own at the other side of the world and to be honest with you, I do think it’s taken it’s toll. Just having people around that love you and that you can rely on in times of need (what I wouldn’t have given to have my mum help with the school run while I was struggling with bronchitis last month) is just one example of the stuff you really take forgranted until you don’t have it anymore. Australian sunshine is wonderful, but it won’t give you a cuddle when you need one!

So here we are and I’ve got so much to tell you about our journey back to England! The kids packed their on board backpacks about two months before we left, then unpacked and repacked them as their taste in toys fluctuated faster than you can say “PJ Masks”. They opted for a couple of their favourites, some books, activity kits from Target and iPads that we painstakingly revamped with new all-singing and dancing apps to keep them entertained during our 24 hour journey (whoever the gods are at Toca, we salute you!). I also packed a 6 litre freezer bag with lots of smaller ones filled with snacks such as almonds, carrot sticks, raisins, crackers, blueberries, protein pancakes we’d made that morning and sugar free lollies for them to suck on on take off and landing.

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The weather was 23 degrees and sunny as we set off to Melbourne airport on Tuesday evening and we laughed about the weather we were heading to as we passed the beautiful beaches !

IMG_8870^^^Look at these gorgeous faces you guys! Our trio have such a close friendship, they were at each others side the whole way. I took this picture inside the airport carparking reception, we used Easy Airport Parking and really recommend them if you’re heading on holiday from Melbourne.^^^

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Melbourne International airport must be getting some renovations done because there really wasn’t much to do while we waited to board, apart from have a picture taken with a stuffed kangaroo and appease the kids with Kinder eggs of course!

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^^^ Big, Little Lies kept me going for hours! A fantastic dramatisation of the book I enjoyed just as much.^^^

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The food aboard our emirates A380 flight was good enough and it kept coming, which broke up the journey. We didn’t realise we were supposed to preorder kids meals (you would think they knew how many kids were flying by seeing the bookings wouldn’t you?!) so they were subjected to food such as curry and rice, which I was told “is not as nice as your rice mummy”, so at least something good came of it!

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We flew from Melbourne at 10pm, which was great timing for the kids as they were exhausted and slept most of the way to Dubai. Just in case they had any sort of allergic reaction to the plane, I did the right thing that any mum should do and gave them a helping hand in the form of Vallergan. I won’t elaborate here but I will just whisper really quietly – BUY SOME if you’re going long haul with kids 😉

We landed in Dubai after 14 hours in the air and after the worlds longest transfer from the plane to the airport, we had an hour to hit the Duty Free and get onto the next plane, which again was a fantastic flight with great staff who handed out teddies and bags full of activity kits to the kids that made the journey very pleasant. As I looked out into the grey sky as we descended in Manchester, I felt a huge wave of relief wash over me that not even the horizontal rain could dampen.

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What a welcome sight our families were waiting to surprise us at the airport and no matter how exhausted we all were, it was soon forgotten about when we were back in the arms of our loved ones.

We have been waking up at 4 am every day since we landed and can’t wait for the jetlag to subside. We have so much we want to do during our three week holiday and I have so much to share with you soon. I’m really grateful to have you here.

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram (Love from Leyla) for more of our updates!

Love from Leyla

Health and happiness

I can only assume excitement got the better of our logic when we were planning moving to Australia, particularly when we imagined improvements to our health and you know the phrase, ‘ASSUME makes an ASS out of U and ME’ well I think it’s pretty fitting right now. I’m sitting here with my nose streaming and feeling really weak while a winter virus gets the better of me as it has the kids over the past few weeks (seriously, we just can’t seem to shake this thing!!!) and going back to my first statement, we thought colds like this would be less common when we moved over here but this being our second winter, I can safely say – we were wrong!

One thing I’ve learned is that virus’s are the same the world over and I can only dream of the kids ever picking up their toys as quickly as they pick up bugs and sharing their toys as easily as they share their bugs too for that matter! Flu season in Melbourne is very much exactly how it was back in Manchester with the receptionist at the doctors surgery recognising my voice on the phone because I ring for appointments that often and Nurofen for Kids still costing me more than wine.

Just before we took our turn for the worst, we did take a trip out last weekend to a place the kids were excited about reopening it’s doors since New Year – Santa’s Place in Moorooduc. It’s a really cute Christmas shop that’s open from July through to the end of the year and if you can embrace sparkly fairy lights and festive songs in August, you will feel like you’re winning at life while the kids run around in a safely enclosed play area and you enjoy a well stocked cafe. Here are some pictures from our visit if you’d like to see.

^^^Luckily Ariana believed that the Christmas stock wasn’t for sale just yet, so we dodged a few hundred dollar bullets!^^^

^^^As you can see, I’m no face painter but if your kids ever want to turn into a pussy cat like our beautiful Kaira does regularly, eyeliner could be all you need!^^^

^^^No, Kian didn’t manage to convince us to bring this home, despite how hard he tried being so cute about it!^^^

The kids were literally in awe as they walked around the well stocked rooms gazing at the pretty features and discussing their ever expanding Christmas lists (*INSERT eye roll emoticon) but we managed to encourage them outside into the play area so we could get some fresh air and a hot drink.

^^^Hearing squeals of happiness while we sat and enjoyed tea and scones, what more could we want on a Sunday afternoon?^^^

^^^Our beautiful Ariana, adamant mummy no longer has any say whatsoever in what she wears and always so full of life, laughter and energy! She loved seeing the 10 acres of ‘baby’ Christmas trees growing in the beautiful winter sunshine, already picking out the one she wanted us to buy in December!^^^

^^^Kian, always full of mischief, curiosity and imagination. The world is one big adventure for our gorgeous young man and I’ve got a feeling we will spend our lives trying to keep up with his exploration of it!^^^

^^^The twins are getting far too big for me to hold like this but I still have to be ready when they both want ‘mummy huggles’ at the same time. Despite how challenging it was to get everyone to stay still for the full 5 seconds while Ste took the picture, it makes me feel very lucky when I see our 3 precious babies together!^^^

^^^The food menu was great for a little lunch and the kids enjoyed a really fresh salad box for just $7.50 each (actually eating their vegetables and asking for more, I know – AMAZING!)^^^

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As the sun was shining, we decided to drive to Mornington where the atmosphere always makes us feel like we’re on holiday and not in our local town. We sat outside Vespas and let the kids enjoy some traditional Italian gelato while the wind blew the girls hair all over it and we wished we’d seen the Peroni on the menu before they finished eating it.

Don’t forget you can subscribe to notifications of new blog posts by email on the home page and I’m really hoping our virus’s leave us quickly so we can share some more fun on the Peninsula with you soon. Have a happy and healthy weekend!

Love from Leyla

Considering a move down under?

It’s easy to forget that we’ve moved to the opposite end of the earth now our lives here have settled into a routine so similar to the one we had back in the UK that I’m often startled when I hear an Aussie accent! If I stay in the present moment, life is good and the new home we’ve created here in Melbourne is nothing short of wonderful with a lovely village and great schools, fantastic friends that we love and can rely on and a beautiful beach right on our doorstep. Yes, all of the boxes we drew up when we dreamed of our new lives down under have (hypothetically) been ticked!

So why is it that sometimes I feel like I’ve hit a wall? Why do I spend some days counting the hours until my British friends and family wake up so I can contact them (nine hours feels like a really long time when you’ve got something important you want to share!) and why does everything (even the good stuff) just feel a little bit empty?

It’s safe to say we weren’t prepared for the emotional burden a move overseas would bring, particularly as we compared it to when we lived here previously (without children was a whole lot different!) As we’ve raised the kids in two countries, we can’t help but compare life over here with what we had back in England and there's a good chance I might be driving myself a bit mad in the process!

I know your time is precious and I am always very grateful for your visit so I mostly try to share the good vibes through this blog but as so many people have been asking about what life is really like here as they are considering making a similar move, I feel I have to share both the ups and downs too or it will be disingenuous. I've spoken to lots of people who are here from the UK and I think it would be useful for me to share our common complaints with those who haven’t made the move yet but are considering it. Don’t get me wrong, we are so grateful for the opportunity to be here but it has to be said that there are things that have come as a big surprise! They are:

The distance! When we first envisaged our lives in Australia, we thought we’d be able to make a trip back to England every year but flights are so expensive we’ve worked out we would need to save about $600 every month just to afford it. When you also add in the cost of family flying out here to visit us, the total sum of spending a few weeks together every year is astronomical and completely unattainable if we want to a) live and b) eat. The journey is also incredibly grueling, not only for children but for adults too. Our parents are in their sixties and 24 hours in the air plus stop-over time and journeys to and from the airport mean a few days is needed either side of the journey just to recover from the jet-lag. There is also a new friend that comes with every visitor in the form of an elephant in the room – that dreaded thought that even the wonderful time you are spending together will soon come to an end and (even though no-one wants to mention it), the fact is that you will soon be saying some heart wrenching goodbyes.

The location! It’s so hard to choose a place you want to spend the rest of your lives if you’ve never visited the country before and yet the majority of people that get in touch with me have never set foot on Australian soil. I think the media do a good job of selling the Australian dream to us Brits and the pictures posted with beach backdrops only further seduce us into making the move with the hopes of attaining the big house with the big pool by the beautiful beach. However, even visiting for a holiday would only make you fall in love with the place even more so it’s difficult to gauge a true indication of how you’ll feel when ‘real life’ sets in. I’d say doing research and talking to people who have moved to those areas is a great idea. There are heaps of Facebook pages dedicated to Poms Down Under and websites such as Bob In Oz are really helpful too.

Family support! I didn't realise how much I relied on my family for support (physically and emotionally) until we were alone at the other side of the other side of the world. It came as a huge shock to not be able to call round to see someone after a bad day or ask for help when I was too ill to manage the school run or just to watch the kids be loved and listened to by people other than ourselves. Regardless of how close you are to your parents, it's important to bear in mind that the time you get to spend with your loved ones is not infinite and watching them grow older on video calls and during bi-annual visits could make you question if you've made the right decision every single day. Also, can we just take a minute to appreciate babysitters! There's a lot to be said for spending quality time together as a family but there's also a lot to be said for having time alone as a couple while the kids are with their grandparents too (*sob!)

The climate! If ever you've wished for sunshine all year round, the thought of life in Australia really appeals. Even here in Melbourne with its seasons, the winter is short lived and after a few months of cooler weather convincing the kids to wear coats rather than layers of sun screen and hats, the prospect of swimming in the sea after school or spending the weekend camping at the beach is never far away. One thing to consider however is that us Brits take access to Europe incredibly forgranted and even though the rain really gets us down particularly in the North, the ability to fly overseas and experience new countries and cultures is very different to living here in the southern hemisphere. Also mosquitoes – can I just say YUK! I'm dreading them and their bites keeping us awake at night as soon as the weather warms up again! The only little menaces I will put up with losing sleep over is the kids!

Work permits and Visas! Australia only allows entry to people who have a skilled occupation and are between the ages of 18 and 50. The list of occupations in demand changes every year and it was slashed by 200 in 2017, however there are still around 400 on there. We found employing a Migration Expert invaluable and checking websites that do online eligibility tests really useful too. The Australian Immigration Office is a great place to start.

Finding work! If you are open to moving to any part of Australia, it may be worth doing a quick job hunt to see where your vocation is in the highest demand and then heading there! Seek is a great website to start from and you may be able to get in touch with prospective employers who could be willing to offer sponsorship to the right candidate, saving you heaps of time and money. We found salaries around a third higher than what is typically on offer in the UK, but it's important to note that the cost of living is higher too. Although petrol is a lot cheaper, food definitely isn't and mortgage/rent could be excessively more (our rent is 4 times the cost of our mortgage payments per month back in the UK). Because the weather is milder there's a lot more fantastic activities you can do outdoors with the kids that cost next to nothing, but if you want them to have hobbies be prepared to factor in those costs too (those ballet and football classes suddenly seems less important when they're costing hundreds of dollars every month!)

Finding property! Now we have the internet at hand, searching for a place to live before heading over here is easier than ever. We found Real Estate a great help in gauging house prices in different areas both for sale and to rent but if you don’t want to commit to a property until you get over here and drive around the areas working out the neighborhoods and transport links (highly recommended) renting a short term stay through Air bnb is a safe place to start. We rented a house for the first four weeks of our adventure, which was a great way to base ourselves while we searched for somewhere more permanent. I have to say it’s important to be aware of the property market over here though. As we were homeowners in the UK, we didn’t necessarily have the references the estate agents wanted from previous landlords and Ste didn’t even have a job when we first arrived to put down on our application but we persevered. The rental market here is SO FIERCE we’ve even heard of houses going up for auction and rented to the highest bidder and people have to be willing to put up six months rent in advance just to secure a home. It’s brutal to say the least and was probably the scariest aspect of our move over here. As for buying a house, property prices in Melbourne have sky rocketed in the past few years due to a combination of high demand and limited stock pricing many families completely out of the buyers market. A median priced house is now over 7 times the average households annual earning capacity.

IMG_3350-1 (Medium)Covering costs! The price of visas, flights and the cost of living until you find work (if you haven’t come over here with a job already lined up) will go into the tens of thousands. Even if you pay the hundreds in fees to ship your belongings over here, it’s worth noting that your furniture will take around 3 months to arrive so it’s not necessarily feasible that you’ll be able to wait for beds to sleep in and a sofa to sit on. The chances are that you’ll need to scrap your belongings and start again – exciting at best but expensive at worst! Ikea and Gumtree will very likely become your best friends but take it from us and be prepared to buy your cars from a dealership – the laws over here are not the same as they are in the UK with ‘Buyer Beware’ being a motto we’ve had to learn the hard way!

Health care! This is something we didn’t spend much time looking into, I’ll be honest. So used to the good old NHS and the comfort having free health care for you and your family brings, it’s not something that was in the forefront of our minds. However, a few weeks into our lives over here and the kids needed to see a doctor so $80 later, we had only paid for the consultation then had the prescription to pay for on top of it too (fill your suitcase with Calpol before you leave!) 'Bulk Billing' is a phrase to look out for if you need a doctor as care at these practices is free and you can visit any surgery unlike in the UK where you are tied to the one closest to home. The vaccinations program is also more intense than what kids are expected to have in the UK too, with schools and childcare providers apparently reserving the right to deny access to your child until proof of a completed schedule is provided and any family support (if you're entitled to it) can also be reduced/denied. Private health insurance is costly as is ambulance cover, which is an absolute essential. If you’re lucky you may qualify for Medicare, which is government funded help with medical costs dependent on your household income.

Banking! To open a bank account in Australia you need identification such a passport, drivers license and an Australian residency address. You’ll need to build up credit ratings before you can apply for credit cards or overdrafts and you will incur foreign exchange transaction costs when moving money from the UK to Australia.

IMG_3361-1 (Medium)Education! Australia does not have a national curriculum like in the UK and the education each school provides is set by the individual state. The quality of schools really varies so it’s really important to get to know the area and speak to locals to work out which one will be the best fit for your child. Public schools are free for those on a Permanent Residency Visa though be prepared to pay for books, excursion fees and school dinners. It’s also worth noting that school doesn’t start for children until the year they turn 5 with the option of ‘holding them back’ until the following year if their birthday falls between December and April. Until then, the only compulsory education is 4 year old kindergarten, which runs for 15 hours per week and is chargable. The terms are super long here too, with no half-term break as we were accustomed to back in the UK with the longest summer holidays falling during the Christmas period (which we loved as it meant daddy was off work to spend time with the kids too).

Having said all of that (as negative as some of it sounds!) we would never trade the opportunity that we've been given to experience living in another country as a family even if that's for a short time or for the rest of our lives. The winter is upon us now here in Melbourne and although the temperature has dropped to below 10 degrees some days, the rain is rare and the kids are still enjoying the outdoors lifestyle we made the move over here for in the first place. Every day here feels like a new adventure and there is so much to see and do, I feel like we could spend our whole lives exploring and never get bored. There is so much beauty in this part of Australia that we're now lucky enough to call 'home' and the overall positivity in everyone we meet is contagious. What I can promise you is that you'll never know unless you give it a go so if you are considering a move down under this has to be one of the most wonderful places in the world you could ever end up.

What are you considering before making a move to Australia or what do you wish you'd thought of before you left? As always, we would love to hear your thoughts.

Love from Leyla