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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday at the Pig and Whistle

If you’re planning a move to Australia and have visions of frolicking freely in the sunshine all year round, don’t come to Melbourne! It has been absolutely freezing this week! Let’s just say, all the practice Ste had scraping the ice off his car in the dark before work back in Manchester has come in very useful! And when he’s gone  –  he’s gone! The distance Ste has to travel to the city for work from the Mornington Peninsula equates to around 15 hours a week, which is about 3 times the amount we were used to back in the UK. It’s not exactly the enhancement to family life we were hoping for when we moved over here but at least it makes the weekends all the more special because we are all together.

I have to admit, I have been pretty homesick over the past few weeks and it’s really rattled my nerves. I don’t know why it’s hit me so hard 16 months since we arrived here. Maybe it’s the weather reminding me of home and emphasising the fact that here we don’t have the option of visiting family during the week and feeling the enormous sense of relief when someone that loves the kids as much as we do gives them heaps of attention that they revel in while we sit back and enjoy it. Doing it alone is challenging and exhausting me in ways I couldn’t possibly have forseen until we made this move and though I am so very grateful for the amazing friends we have made here, I do worry that it’s never going to feel the same as it did when we were lucky enough to have all the unconditional love and solid support we could ever need from our families. The phrase ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ is never far from my mind. 

So I try to keep my mind present and stop it wandering so far into the future it probably needs its own Visa and enjoy what’s happening right now, which is happy kids who are loving our new adventures in a beautiful part of the world that we are lucky enough to call ‘home’. To enjoy some family time together on Sunday we went out for dinner to a place that describes itself as a ‘cosy British Tavern’ – nostalgia was on the menu!

We love the drive up to Arthur’s Seat where the panoramic views of the Mornington Peninsula are nothing short of breathtaking. When we got out of the car at Murray’s Lookout to take it all in, the kids complained that they were ‘too cold’ and we wondered how they ever managed British Winters!

There was a real rustic feel to the Pig and Whistle with timber beams and an open fireplace though the ‘English pub’ vibe was lacking a bit for me. I guess it’s just something that can’t be recreated! The kids sat so nicely waiting for our food, there’s a lot to be said for remembering to pack pencils and paper for once and Snapchat filters on demand!

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We ordered a vegetarian basket of spring rolls and risotto balls, fish of the day that came with roast potatoes and salad and fish and chips for the kids. It was pretty good, though we were hoping to have finally found a venue that made hand-cut chips like back home so it was pretty disappointing to get the frozen variety. There were no roast dinners on the menu either, which I thought would be a staple of a British style restaurant.

The kids loved the ice-cream (don’t they always!) and the date pudding was pretty tasty. The service was great and it’s definitely somewhere we are adding to our list of to-do’s when we have visitors!

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There are so many wonderful places to visit here, I think we could spend our whole lives exploring and still have things to find! I think the climate will force our pursuits indoors over the next few months, so we will be sure to share the places we love to visit in winter with you!

Love from Leyla

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A chill in the air

Well, Australia is in for a real treat as I can honestly say that I’ve never had as many people get in touch with me about moving over here ever before! Is there something in the air over there, England? I’m really flattered whenever anyone comes to me for advice about anything as I am seriously winging it over here (if you hadn’t already guessed) and all I can be is honest! I have to confess that the bright smiles and beach backdrops of our pictures are only the tip of the iceberg in our daily lives – there’s no self-timer taking pictures of us while we’re stuck indoors because it’s raining, watching Paw Patrol for the seventeenth time that day or counting the hours until Ste gets home from work because there are no family visitors calling round breaking our days up anymore. It’s safe to say, I have moments when I love that each day is our own to make of it whatever we like with no-one to consider other than ourselves and moments when I would gladly swim home if I could just to have a cup of tea at my mums house or get a cuddle from my dad, to see my sisters or to catch up with my best mates over prosecco and laugh until our sides hurt. You can’t do any of that on Skype.

I’m not sure what happened to our luck recently either. The car we bought in a rush when we arrived here broke down for the second time just a couple of months ago and on exchanging it for a newer one, the garage told us it had ‘hail damage’ and would have to be written off (apparently if a car has been dented in a hail storm, the Victorian government render it useless – so always check the roof if you’re buying a car over here!) so that was a fair few thousand dollars down the drain – sad times. Kian in his over excitable way broke the TV last week too. He hurled a ceramic star over his shoulder that went straight into it and cracked the LCD screen, meaning we now have to replace it, which is not easy to do over here either. Gone are the days we could walk into the supermarkets back in the UK and walk out with anything from food to clothes and electricals *sigh.  The supermarkets sell nothing but food over here (not even alcohol!) and the shops seem to have an autonomy over the consumer allowing them to charge whatever they feel like, for example the TV we bought 16 months ago now costs a whopping $300 more – WHY???? There’s no price wars, no online bargains (take a look at Australian Amazon if you don’t believe me) so we are forced out onto the highstreet to have the money painfully prised from our pockets.

But despite the challenges, we only ever have to step outside and look up into the (usually) bright blue sky to remind ourselves why we made this move in the first place. It is now the equivalent of December in England and the sun has been with us most of the time in Melbourne. The kids are still out riding their bikes and scooters in nothing but hoodies every day without a care in the world and to think we would usually have to wrap them in snowsuits and boots before opening the door back in Manchester in Winter, this definitely feels easier in many respects.

IMG_2545-10 (Medium)IMG_2480-4 (Medium)IMG_2475-3 (Medium)IMG_2474-2 (Medium)Heading to the beach is still our favourite thing to do. We are so lucky to have a beautiful coastline filled with unique and wonderful beaches right on our doorstep here on the Mornington Peninsula, it feels different every time we go. Some days we pack a picnic, some days we stop for fish and chips on the way, some days we’re running back to the car to grab extra layers because there’s a chill in the air and others we’re paddling in the sea with the warm winter sun adding freckles to our faces.
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^^^It’s a good job he’s so cute so he could get away with breaking our TV^^^ Love Island is not the same when you can only see the bottom two thirds of the show! Also if you ever see a picture of Kian without food smeared on his face, you’d be shocked by now wouldn’t you? I give up!
IMG_2536-9 (Medium)^^^Taking pictures with kids, got me like…^^^
IMG_2517-7 (Medium) IMG_2513-6 (Medium)^^^All the world is a stage^^^ Kaira our little performer! Gone are the days we’d be forced into playcentres at this time of year to blow a load of cash on catching colds. The kids love running around in the open air and we love watching them burn their energy while they do it!

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And if we ever want to grab a burger then watch the sunset on the way home, we can do that too because life definitely feels like more of an adventure these days – just the five of us.

I feel honored to have visitors from around the world to this blog and during the past two years since I started writing it, I’ve met some wonderful people who have become firm friends whether that’s through bonding over raising twins, helping each other with our babies reflux issues or now sharing  a very weird but wonderful journey to the other side of the world,  I am so very grateful to have the ability to connect with you all through this platform.

I hope you’re having a lovely weekend!

Love from Leyla

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Southland cinema

I don’t usually write a blog post when we go out to watch a movie but as it’s the winter holidays here in Melbourne, I thought I should share a fun activity that will allow you to sit down for a couple of hours if you’re in the area! Our kids had worked so hard to achieve all of the stickers on their reward charts over the past month, so we took them out to watch Despicable Me 3 at Southland Shopping Centre’s Village Cinema and what an experience it was!

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^^^The kids are rewarded for staying in bed until the sun is on their Gro Clock, feeding the cat and playing nicely amongst other things!^^^

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The cinema is unlike one we’ve never been to before! On entrance, there’s a foyer with activities such as the Mega Blocks Wall, Hot Wheels race car tracks and pictures they could draw then scan into a computer and watch them come alive on a huge projection wall.


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For half an hour before the film and ten minutes during the interval, the kids could literally run wild. We got to sit in the super comfy chairs and watch them hurl themselves down the huge slide and dance on an interactive mat getting their wriggles out before they had to sit down! As soon as the movie started, the lights were dimmed and we were thrilled that there were no adverts to endure!

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^^^The kids were pretty excited with their new light-up shoes when the cinema went dark!^^^IMG_2909 (Medium) Image

As part of the package, the kids were treated to food of their choice (we went for pizza!) a milkshake and a box of popcorn. There was even a coffee cart for parents so we didn’t have to drag the kids with us for refreshments.

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^^^Just because the slide was closed, doesn’t mean someone didn’t find a way to get down the steps faster than us!^^^

The film was great, we all laughed all the way through it. The package was $27 per child including their food so it wasn’t cheap but if you can get past that and concentrate on the fact that you’re actually sitting down it’s well worth it! It’s a great ‘carrot to dangle’ if you’re looking for good behavior during your winter holidays too.

Hope you have a good one, good luck from us!

Love from Leyla

City trip

So, I know it’s been about a million years since I shared our adventures with you but life has been running away with me recently (how can it be June already?!) and since so many of you have taken the time to get in touch and check we haven’t fallen off the face of this side of the earth, I wanted to let you know we are still here!

But, I can’t write this post without saying how heartbroken I was to hear about the Manchester bomb. I watched the terror unfold throughout the day on 22nd May and like so many other ex-pats no doubt, all we could do was wait for England to wake up to the horror and make sure those that we love were OK. To see our home town so damaged and bruised felt really personal and despite being miles away, our hearts were right back there on the streets that we still call ‘home’. Our thoughts are with anyone who has been affected by the tragedy.

I would say life in the second year of our move is a complete antithesis of that during our first. When I look back on last year, I can’t believe what we went through and still came out smiling! It’s been a lot of hard work, a lot of ups and downs, successes and failures, moments we’ve wondered if we’ve made the biggest mistake of our lives while searching Right Move for places to rent back home then the very next day looking at new houses to buy around here! So much to navigate and work out while getting used to being alone for the first time in our lives and not having the security your family being around you brings to pick you up when you’re down or pick the kids up when you need a break (taking three kids to an emergency dental appointment to fix my broken tooth is an experience I never want to repeat!) The kind of stuff that makes you feel all vulnerable when it hits yet pretty invincible when you manage to figure it out.

Since Ste works in the city, the destination was at the top of the kids ‘to-do’ list (along with going out for ice-cream any time, any place, anywhere) so a couple of weeks ago we decided to make the most of the beautiful winter sunshine and take them on a day out! Melbourne is one of my most favourite city’s in the world but living on the Mornington Peninsula we have about an hour’s drive up so it’s not somewhere I can get to often (in fact only three times since we arrived!) Most of you will probably know it’s where Ste and I spent a lot of time when we lived here back in 2007, so to return now married with our three kids made us feel pretty lucky (and a little bit old if I’m honest too!)

Our first stop was a demonstration at the fire station.The kids listened intently while fire fighters told them the number to dial in an emergency (000 – yeah that was news to me too, I was still on 999!) and they even got to spray a poor guy dressed as a clown stuck in a make shift house on fire with a hose pipe, which we had to drag the kids away from to let others have a turn!

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Even though, we had a fair bit of walking to do to reach our next stop – Melbourne Museum – the kids did great on the day stomping the bustling city streets, happily distracted by the height of the buildings as they towered above us up into the sky.

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The museum is free for kids, which we think is fabulous! Kaira absolutely loved the human body exhibition (though she looked ever so slightly terrified at times) and Kian couldn’t get enough of the dinosaur relics that he gazed at for ages before asking if they were held together by blue-tac (the way kids minds works is just the best isn’t it?) and Ariana spun and danced in the children’s play area for so long, we seriously considered installing the equipment at home just so we could sit down for a decent enough length of time without being interrupted. I could have taken hundreds of pictures in there but only being in the city for the day, we had to keep moving!

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With the Eureka Tower providing the perfect backdrop as it’s the place that Ste proposed to me ten years ago (“yeah mummy, you’ve already told us!” thanks to Ariana for making me feel like a typical mum!) we stopped for a little lunch at Federation Square. I honestly thought I took some pictures of the two police officers that were stood next to us kicking footballs around with some young lads beside the restaurant but I can’t find them (damn iphone storage making me delete my pictures every other day!) I just wanted to let you know despite the worry I’m sure all parents have about being in very busy public spaces at the moment (if you watch too much of the news that is) the whole vibe was so chilled and as the sun shone, we shed our coats and relaxed wondering how on earth this could be the middle of winter – we would have been happy with the heat during summer back in Manchester!

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One thing we learned during our trip was that the kids are NOT afraid of heights! As the lift reached the eighty eighth floor of the Eureka Tower, they all went running toward the glass to witness the view that made my head spin for a few seconds! The beautiful city that we can now call ‘home’ was even more breathtaking with the family we are so lucky to have created. If you’d have told me we would be back here in ten years with three children when these pictures were taken, I don’t think we’d ever have believed it…

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What an adventure it’s been. Thanks for being with us, I promise I won’t leave it so long next time!

Love from Leyla

Spring in our steps

One of the presents we got for Ariana at Christmas was a 2017 calendar. This was mainly to help her understand the passage of time but it was also to free me from constant questions such as “how many days until my birthday/Easter/next Christmas?” [insert eye roll emoticon]. So as soon as Christmas day was over, the date of my mum’s arrival in Melbourne was the next big deal that we all had to count down to and the day that grandma arrived was as exciting for us as the whole festive season itself.

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If someone would have told me that I’d ever go a whole year without a cuddle from my mum, I’d never have believed it! It felt so good to be back in the arms of the first person that I ever loved and I can’t put it into words without getting all emotional! 

My mum spent a lot of time with the kids when we lived back in England and leaving her was the hardest part of our decision to move Australia for me. Making Whatssap video calls whenever we get chance has helped keep the bond strong over the past year and the kids didn’t even wait for her to get out of the car when she arrived from the airport, they went running and dived onto the passenger seat! It was as though we’ve never been apart – AMAZING!

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My poor mum had a terrible time at Manchester airport after packing her suitcase with heaps of new toys and dress-up costumes for the kids taking her baggage allowance over the threshold. We booked the tickets with Etihad assuming the weight was the same as last year (over 30kg) but on checking in, she was told it had been reduced to 23kg :(  Being the wonderful grandma that she is, my mum emptied the clothes and shoes she’d packed for herself and had to pay for it all to be destroyed to preserve the gifts for the kids that they were so happy to see. Thanks mum!

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Ever since Ariana could talk, she’s been pointing at the TV and asking when she could be on it so we got her signed with an agency last year. We were over the moon when our little super star was asked to be part of a new show for Channel 7 called ‘Behave Yourself’ recently and after a morning of filming in the city, we took the opportunity to visit the Museum while grandma was watching the twins. I love spending time with our biggest girl on a one-on-one basis whenever I can, she’s such a good girl with a thirst for knowledge I can’t satisfy without regular help from Google so we had a wonderful visit that I would highly recommend if you are ever in the city!

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One thing we remember from arriving in Melbourne in March last year, is that the weather is wonderful! Regular highs of 25 plus degrees, blue skies and rain only around once a week, it’s the perfect time of year for exploring the beautiful Mornington Peninsula that we now call home. I’ve been so excited to take my mum to my favourite vineyard so on a sunny Sunday afternoon, we happily left Ste to enjoy some quality time with the kids while we enjoyed quality time together sampling some of the finest wines of the region at T’Gallant. Being Prosecco fans, my mum and I had a wonderful time with our beautiful friend Dayna drinking bubbles and eating pizza while enjoying the live music in the breathtaking surroundings. It’s such a wonderful place to live and having my mum here has made it all the more magical again.

I’ve got a lot more pictures of our explorations to share with you too!

Hope you’re having a wonderful weekend!

Love from Leyla

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Make way for Moana!

Please tell me I’m not the only one who can’t believe Ariana has just turned 6??! It seems like only yesterday I was writing about her fourth and fifth birthday parties and now from out of nowhere, our baby girl seems oh so grown up! I feel like the past few months since Christmas have raced past me in a haze of school runs and new schedules, I’m even the proud owner of a 2017 calander filled with ‘important’ dates of raffles and teddy bears tea parties (I never thought I’d see the day!) I’m almost getting organised in my old age. Almost 😉

We are also oh so incredibly lucky at the moment to have my mum over from the UK visiting us. You might already know from my post last year, saying goodbye to my mum was the hardest part of emigrating for me and I’ve counted the days over the past 12 months until she came back to visit. I’ve got so much to tell you about the wonderful few weeks we’ve had together (and a million photos – OBVS) but this post is about our biggest beauty and her big day.

This birthday has been particularly special for her because it’s her first in a new country and as her guest list grew faster than the new freckles on her nose, so too did my sense of pride in her ability to forge new friendships in a whole new world than any she’d ever known. Ariana decided on a Moana theme this year and thankfully the weather was with us to create the perfect backdrop to transform our garden into a water park, equipped with a huge inflatable slide and home to our first proper Aussie barbecue – meaning Ste did the cooking, which I’m sure you’ll agree is a mum win of epic proportions!img_2810img_2780 img_2789 img_2812 img_2809

We started the day with pancakes (our kids favourite recipe is here) then present unwrapping for all three and Ariana was absolutely delighted by the gifts my mum had brought over from friends and family back home (lucky, lucky girl!) She has shown a real interest in journalling since her writing has come along so well, so we got her a lovely book to write in along with a scrapbook, some stationary, her first handbag and purse (unicorn themed!) along with a new money box to start saving the pocket money we’ve promised she can now have and her favourite present of all – a keyboard with weighted keys to practice piano at home.

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Everybody loved decorating the garden, wrapping streamers around the trees and hanging fairy lights. Baking is not my bag so we found a fantastic cake maker locally who created Ariana’s Moana cake and accompanying cupcakes. In keeping with the theme, we made tropical fruit skewers, a fruity punch (with just a dash of gin for the mums!) and decorated the house with Lei’s, wall art made by the kids and brightly coloured balloons.

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Besides the birthday girl, there was another star of the show, which was this water slide and the amazement on the kids faces when they saw it made the investment worth every penny (or cent!) They ran around in the 30 degree sunshine, blasting each other with water canons and racing down the slides, stopping only briefly for fistfuls of popcorn and sausage sandwiches and it was so nice not to care about any mess they made because we were in the great outdoors!

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Ariana was jumping up and down with excitement as her friends arrived, I will never forget the happiness on her face the whole day. And I’ve got to say the Aussies have the right idea by barbecuing at parties -it is SO much easier cooking while the guests are already there and the drinks are flowing. I could get used to not cooking in advance!

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While Kian fell and  flung himself straight into the water, Kaira was her usual reserved little self and held back from the commotion. She is such a sweet and gentle soul, I find it fascinating how different all three of our kids are and Ste and I talk a lot about their individual idiosyncrasies (their charm and whit obviously being from me and their stubbornness and attitudes from their dad, of course 😉 )

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Another tradition I love here is cutting the cake and eating it at the party as appose to sending slices home in the kids party bags as we did back in England, which means the parents get to enjoy it too – winner!  By five o’clock, the kids were shivering in their towels, which signified the party coming to an end so Ariana handed out the Moana themed party bags (including superhero masks the kids had made during the week) and dived headfirst into all the presents opening everything before I had chance to figure out what they had kindly brought (and thank them!)

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After a full scale cleaning operation the next day, we took the kids to the beach to celebrate in the sunshine in true Australian style. Eating cupcakes in the warmth of the sun while watching the kids run carefree and splash in the sea is a memory I think we’ll all treasure forever. After a swim, we ate at Sophia’s in Frankston and toasted to Ariana turning 6 with ice cream.

The party felt like such a celebration. Not only of Ariana’s big day but of the sunshine, our new home, our new friends and of the one year anniversary of us arriving in Australia. It has been one of the fastest and intense years of my life with ups and downs I can only compare to the first year the twins were born – exhausting, exciting and intense!

It breaks my heart that our family and friends back home couldn’t celebrate with us too, but I am so grateful to the friends that joined us on the day and for the technology that allowed Ariana to chat with her grandparents online so they could reinforce how loved she is all around the world. I’m also grateful for this blog that allows me to share our special moments with you.

As always, thanks for being with us.

Love from Leyla

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Happy birthday Ariana

Ever since the day she was born, Ariana has made me love more than I ever thought possible and now our princess has turned six and we couldn’t be more proud of the kind-hearted, clever and talented girl she has become.

Last week we threw a Moana themed party for her and her friends to celebrate and I’ve got heaps of pictures to share with you as soon as I’ve filtered through the 3,000 or so I captured! Here is a film of some of our favourite clips of our girl over the past six years, it made us smile. Hope it does the same for you too.

Love from Leyla

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It’s been a year to the day…

…since we celebrated Ariana’s fifth birthday with most of our family and friends back home in Manchester. It’s also a year to the day since we said goodbye to everyone we knew and loved before travelling to live in Australia a few days later. You read a blog post about the amazing time we spent celebrating with our favourite people here and the love that filled the room on that day still warms my soul when I’m missing home to this day – a year to the day.

So here it is! I finally got around to uploading a montage of the goodbye messages that some people left for us at the party and we are so very grateful our loved ones took the time. This really put a smile on our faces today, hope it will for you too.

I know I haven’t been in touch much, life is getting in the way and I feel busier than ever but I promise I have heaps to share with you about our adventures in emigrating again really soon. Thank you for being there!

Love from Leyla