Monday, 9 December 2013

Can something become too precious?

Christmas 1982 I was given a special gift. 
It was a silver welsh lovespoon on a chain that my grandmother gave to me.

I have worn this lovespoon for the last thirty one years...

I have just had a moment there - a moment where I doubted my maths! Thirty one years? Surely not?

Anyhow, as I said,  this lovespoon has been with me all this time. Throughout my school years tucked under my pale blue regulation blouse; through Uni days; moving away from home; moving back home; getting married; becoming a mother and eventually moving across the ocean to Australia.

I don't wear it everyday, but it is my default piece of jewellery.  As the years go by I love it more and more, and this is where the problem lies. My little silver lovespoon is becoming too precious that I am beginning to get a little wary of wearing it.

The other week I just had a feeling that I hadn't seen it for a while. I checked the couple of places where it should have been. Not there.

I searched high and low. I turned drawers inside out even though it was highly unlikely that the spoon was anywhere near there. I could feel a bubble of panic, maybe even fear that I dared to think that I had lost it.

I left it a few days and searched again. Nothing....

I re-lived the previous few weeks. Tried to remember the clothes that I had worn. I recalled how I almost lost it once when I was olive picking a few years ago when the chain broke but the lovespoon stayed safe and tucked itself into my clothing.

Still nothing.

I even scrolled through some photos and tried to piece together when I wore it. Major panic when I saw a recent one of Sibs and I in Auckland with the lovespoon around my neck....!

I tried to convince myself that it would just show up. (I do denial pretty well)

Last week I was packing to go away for a few days and as I was throwing some toiletries into a bag I spotted a small black velvet drawstring pouch. I tentatively peered inside and there was my little silver lovespoon. It had made it back from Auckland.

So I wore it when I went away again last week and then the same thing happened. I couldn't find it a few days later. Not in the little black pouch, not in the other obvious places.

I rang the hotel - nothing.

Maybe my luck was running out?

This morning I found it tucked in the corner of the jewellery roll that I took away with me. The same jewellery  roll that I looked through - twice.
I actually whooped out loud!

Is this just a sign of a busy life? Of having a brain that it crammed too full of end of year lists and chores that I can't think straight?

Or have these near misses been a sign that I should place this necklace away in a drawer, lock it and hide the key??

I have thought a bit about it this evening. I have thought about how much I love my silver lovespoon necklace and how it often makes me think of my grandmother.

I thought about how devastated I would be if I did ever lose it.
But the strongest feeling came when I really considered not wearing it again.
It felt like I was about to lock a bit of me away.

So I'm going to continue to take great pleasure in wearing it and in enjoying the link it gives me to my past. It's a bit like deciding to live the moments. There's no point wondering too much about the 'what ifs' in life - just make the most of it whilst you have it.

Wish me luck in keeping it safe for the next thirty years and beyond!

Monday, 11 November 2013

Friday, 1 November 2013

ahhh Kevin.... "The Man. The Dreams. The Journey" His show in Brisbane.

Funny, flirty, intelligent, slightly random - that was my evening with Kevin Mc Cloud on Wednesday.

Ok, so I had to share him with about two thousand others, but that didn't stop me from telling anyone who would listen that I was spending an evening with Kevin!

In a highly anticipated 'one night only' show I joined his legions of fans and secured my seat at the Lyric Theatre Brisbane for two hours of entertainment. 

All the car parks were full so after a slight panic that I was going to miss the start of the show I just about managed to fit the car into a tight spot wedged next to a post. This necessitated me clambering into the passenger seat to get out, inadvertently opening the boot in the process and almost losing a heel. Not quite the sophisticated entrance I was hoping for!

Anyhow, I followed the crowd to the theatre and took my seat and I sneaked a really quick photo of the stage  (I know from experience how vigilant the Lyric Theatre staff can be with photograph taking.) Then the familiar theme music came on and Kevin appeared to the delight of the crowd.

So there was no 'One Direction' screaming this week (see last post for all the screaming!) but the applause was generous and warm. Kevin wasted no time in telling us that he hated that theme music, really hated it....who knew? He also shared that Grand Designs is more popular here in Australia than back in the UK.

I immediately got a sense that this was going to be a chatty kind of night. Just Kevin pacing the stage and chatting. Now this is no mean feat as it was a one way chat. He got the occasional clap or chuckle but he carried on with his chatting regardless. It was a mixture of a stand up comic and an academic lecture.

He shared tales about some of the builds that he has covered and we were shown a few clips on the large screen to remind us. He used the screen to show us some architectural designs and influences and gave us a little quiz on our design type. I admit to feeling a bit homesick at times, especially when he showed the 14th Century castle from Series 7. I use to live close by to that.

There was some audience participation in the form of an invite on stage if your 'dream home' was read out so that Kevin could draw it out for you. The closest I came to that is that I work with one such lucky audience member and she's originally from Wales - Go Suzi!

Then there was the (pre-arranged?) cute child who was invited up to help with an experiment. I loved the lady in row 3 who caught his eye and demanded to be chosen to help as well....and he obliged. In his words "she has dressed up and made a real effort" . So did I did I!
I thought that security would have to come and get her off the stage as she was slightly reluctant to leave...

He did make me laugh when he said that he had lots of beautiful young ladies approach him and then proceed to tell him that their mother liked him! There are a number of people that admit to having a bit of a soft spot for Mr McCloud.

During the interval we were encouraged to go mingle and have a drink and I may be wrong here, but I have a sneaky suspicion that Kevin may have indulged in a shandy or two. He was a bit more buoyant in the second half and the pacing increased. There were random references to toilets and a rather awkward dual act with the chappie that does the Australian version of Grand Designs who just happened to be sitting in the front row...

The evening concluded with a rather bizarre encore in the form of a poem/song. To be fair, it was actually quite clever and brought together lots of the information that we had been listening to for the previous couple of hours. One way of providing a summary I suppose.

Thank you for coming to Australia Kevin, you have lots of fans.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

One Direction, Brisbane

I'm either mad, indulgent or just best mamma this week. I can't quite decide myself...

In my last post I wrote about taking my girl away for the weekend and going to see the One Direction concert in Auckland. We had a blast, an absolute blast! Stuff that I hope will stay in the memory bank for ever.

A few days after we returned, I had one of those 'right place, right time' moments....and some Brisbane tickets!

My brain flickered between - "How fantastic, she'll be thrilled" to "I really shouldn't as I don't want to over indulge..."

I mentioned it to Neil, fully expecting him to do the sensible father speech, but uncharacteristically he just said "go for it!"

...So we did!

ear plugs at the ready!

I thought the Auckland fans were loud - but the Brisbane crowd was something else. Boy, those girls can scream!

They jumped, danced and sang their hearts outs. They hung on every word that their idols spoke. (Well, those words that they could actually hear over the screams!)

I spent some time people watching.

*There were a few bored parents. One mother in the row behind me sat all night with her arms crossed, she didn't see a thing apart from the back of the girl in front of her!
*There were groups of girls clutching each other who just uttered "Oh my God" over and over again.
*There were so many people watching the concert through the screen of their phones or iPods trying to capture any images they could. What a waste! Come on girls, enjoy the moment.
*There were some tiny tots trying to sleep...
*There were many many parents loitering outside just waiting. I saw lots of novel reading mums and dads and even a few knitters. Brisbane Entertainment Centre is a little bit in the middle of no-where so I guess it was just easier to hang around.
*There were some 1D mums living their youth again through their children - matching their t-shirts and various band merchandise with their daughters. Some cute, others not so...
*There were tears, happy tears.

Overwhelmingly though there were smiles. Lots and lots of happy people having a great time.
That was a joy to see.

Here's a few of my shots of the Sunday night performance.
One Direction Brisbane Oct 2013

Almost anyone can sound good blasting from the CD in the car, but to their credit these boys can really sing. Yes there were a few forgivable hoarse notes - they had been belting out those songs through 125 shows by the time they got to Brisbane. They didn't give you slick choreography but they made sure that they covered every part of that stage.  Add some fancy laser lighting, crowd interaction, lots of colourful graphics and a few video clips to give the boys a few minutes to change. Well all apart from Harry who appeared to have the same clothes on throughout. On the subject of clothes...what was it with the ultra tight trousers Mr Styles?! 
They looked a lot edgier and a bit more rock and roll than I expected. I'm sure the images on the water bottle/pencil case/backpack etc etc  at home has them looking quite different!
The show was safely predictable with songs about summer romance, unrequited love, fancying the person you can't have, secret love, jealousy...all the stuff that the teenage population of the audience lapped up.

Everyone under the age of about 25 seem to know every word to every song and happily shared this knowledge. It created an interesting sound....

I was warned asked by my 11 year old not to dance or sing....which I duly obliged, but I did find myself toe tapping and the odd line from an often heard track would sometimes escape my lips. (I don't think she noticed.) I have to say that I can't get the "I can't compete with your boyfriend - he's got 27 tattoos" line out of my head. 
I actually think that a couple of them have taken that one to heart and would give any boyfriend with 27 tattoos a good challenge!

One Direction Brisbane Oct 2013

Although mostly rehearsed and scripted (yes I can say say that, having heard it twice), the banter between the band members and the crowd was fun. They seemed to enjoy themselves, and they made many female swoon with the occasional wave or thumbs up or a special blow kiss....cue extra loud screams - one right in my left ear!

They were gracious in their thanks to each and every person in the venue and acknowledged that without their loyal fans they would not be enjoying this phenomenal success. There was quite a bit of charm going on here with praise to the parents for bringing their kids and "thanks for deciding to spend your money evening with us" speeches.

Before you knew it we were into the encore and every parent was beginning to think about the inevitable queue out of the car park....well everyone apart from the cross armed mother behind me who had made an early hasty exit with her daughter.

Shame, because she missed the chest booming loud "Best song ever" and the chance to sing along to "That's what makes you beautiful"....

Well...and....truly living those moments!

Friday, 18 October 2013

Treasured moments - from Swan Lake to One Direction.

Back in 2009 I took my girl to the city to watch the ballet Swan Lake. I remember at the time that I felt like it was a lot of money to spend on taking a just turned seven year old to the theatre and to expect her to sit still through three and a half hours of ballet.

I needn't have been concerned as she sat completely mesmerised, mouth slightly open, eyes transfixed.  I watched her almost as much as I watched the ballet! I think at one point I considered checking that she was still breathing.

That was the start of our regular mother daughter theatre outings.

Since then we have been lucky enough to catch some pretty amazing productions in Brisbane, but to date nothing had ever really come close to the enjoyment experienced watching Swan Lake. There have been quite a few musicals like Mary Poppins, Annie, Grease and Mama Mia. Then the Nutcracker ballet and more recently The Bright Stream performed by The Bolshoi Ballet. Some of these theatre visits have been large scale international productions but we also love to support the smaller amateur performances too.

Last week the dance studio that Sibs is part of had their annual dance concert at Queensland Performing Arts Centre. This performance is one of the highlights of her year. She loves the routine of rehearsals and back stage antics. Behind allowed inside the theatre is a real thrill.  Imagine having to tell her that she wasn't going to experience it this year?

When I first found out the dates for her dance concert, I knew that it clashed with something else. I also knew that the 'something else' was huge. Something that Sibs had been looking forward to for the whole of 2013.

It was time to break the news about the clash.

There were a few silent tears and a wobbly bottom lip. Then a big hug and a promise that we would go and watch the first night of the dance concert.

She still wanted  to attend the rehearsals and her lovely dance teachers who knew how disappointed she was and not being able to perform always made sure that she helped out in some way.

So what prevented her from being part of the show......?

We were having a long planned girls weekend watch One Direction!

My eleven year old is a beautiful mix of interests. She adores her ballet, looks forward to rugby season, loves to listen to a real mix of music and over the last year or so like millions of other tweenage girls has discovered 'One Direction'. (Thank you for the introduction goes to cool Aunty T!)

So last Friday, I picked her up from her afternoon school rugby game and instead of the usual ballet lesson it was a quick shower and change and off we went  to the airport. We shopped a little, bought a book each and arrived in New Zealand on a cold and wet Friday night.

We were originally booked into the same hotel as the band but in my wisdom(?) I changed this to be closer to the city.
At the risk of sounding fuddy duddy - One Direction fans can be a little crazy....
There were hoards of young girls camped out at 1am in front of the hotel screaming. They screamed for almost three days! The groupie mentality was almost a little disturbing and whilst I have no problem with Sibs being a fan of the band, I think that I have a parental responsibility to ensure her safety and to allow her to be eleven...

So we enjoyed a slightly quieter time. We walked, chatted, shopped, giggled and did the tourist things like the museums and the Sky Tower. We lazed over hotel breakfasts - such a treat. We ordered room service in our bath robes and watched TV whilst painting our toenails. It was pure luxury having that time away from home with my girl.

Of course the absolute highlight of the weekend was the One Direction concert.

"I think this is a dream"

I once again watched my girl completely awe struck at the spectacle in front of her eyes.

It was the Swan Lake experience four years later (but with screaming!)

Five minutes after arriving in our seats she turned to me - "I think this is a dream!"

Her quiet contemplation lasted about 10 seconds and then she jumped, sang and screamed with the best of them. Oh my goodness the screaming again.....the ear plugs came in very handy!

One Direction - Auckland 2013

One Direction - Auckland 2013

Sibs beamed all the way through the concert, then all the way back to the hotel and then all the next day and more!
This was loving and living the moment big time!

from Swan Lake 2009 to One Direction 2013
We made a pact last weekend that we would find the time to get away together maybe once a year. 
Just a night or two, just the two of us.
...Already planning the next trip!

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

snippets of the school holiday

Back to normal pace today - school is back after a two week break. I'm just home from my Tuesday morning yoga lesson and I've spent far too long downloading and browsing through photos. Before I dash back out to do the grocery shopping then school pick up and then netball,  I thought I would take a moment to capture a bit of the last week.

father, daughter moment

* We headed to the beach when Neil squeezed a couple of days away from work. The sea breezes were just what we needed to cool us down from the 30 plus Spring! I think it's going to be a scorcher of a Summer.

...almost Paris

* We breakfasted around the corner at a little French coffee shop one morning and pretended to be in Paris. Then on the way home I held us up by taking photos of the Jacaranda trees every few metres.

Springtime means purple trees!

* We had our own wildlife zoo in the garden and watched a cockatoo munch his way through supper and drop his scraps on our heads!

yellow crested cockatoo

Then a possum did some acrobatics in the trees at the front of the house.

bush tailed possum

* We took a trip to the hinterland and almost believed that we were in the English Lake District...except it was a little flatter and 35 degrees!

lake Baroon

Sunshine Coast hinterland

* We wandered around the little towns and dreamt a little of all the properties that we loved.

Of course, one must support local businesses...

We packed our fortnight with lots of activities. I know I keep saying it but the climate here is just so perfect for getting out and about.

Right, the cupboards are almost bare and I will have a hungry child home from school before I know it with the "I'm starving" cry. Yes, we are definitely back to the real world today.

Monday, 30 September 2013

School holiday baking - raspberry yogurt cake

It's Spring school holidays here in Brisbane. Two glorious weeks of freedom. I just love the change of pace and the chance to slow down. I'm very fortunate in the fact that I can buy extra holiday days from my employer and it means that I can plan to take school holidays off with my girl. It's a great extra benefit to my job that I'm extremely grateful for.

catching up with her cousin

Living in such a glorious part of the world we often don't feel the real urge to go away anywhere on holiday. Often the two week blocks away from school are spent pottering, catching up with people and generally taking life one day at a time. We seem to be able to fill the couple of weeks with trips to the cinema, picnics, swimming, play dates, baking and not too much clock watching. It's a time to refresh and recharge.

So we are half way through the holidays and Sibs has just left to go for a swim and play with a friend  and I thought that I would take this rare 10 minutes to write a quick blog post. Of course nothing ever takes 10 minutes and in my ipad and instagram world I had forgotten just how long it takes to fire up the laptop and download some photos from the camera....!

Anyhow, now that I've got going I want to share a recipe that I tried out last week. I love baking and creating in the kitchen and most of the time I will find myself reverting to making the same things over and over again. When it's holiday time, Sibs and I will trawl through books, magazines and more recently online to pick out dishes and goodies to try. One of the things on the list last week was a raspberry yogurt cake.

I found this through one of my favourite blogs - 'Tea for Six'. (link HERE) I often source meals and dishes from Natalie's blog and she is a constant source of inspiration for me.  This cake sounded just the thing for a morning tea treat to go with a coffee and berry smoothie. Her children had declared it the best cake ever and those were the exact words used in this house too. 

raspberry yogurt cake

Raspberry Yoghurt Cake

1 cup of vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups of caster sugar
2 eggs
1 cup of full fat Greek yoghurt
2 cups self-raising flour
1 cup frozen raspberries

raspberry yogurt cake

 cream cheese icing

(I halved the quantities below as I didn't quite have enough ingredients and in my opinion it was probably just the right amount)

100g unsalted butter
250g cream cheese, softened
500g icing sugar, sifted
Preheat oven to 170 degrees C.  Grease and line a 23cm springform cake tin.
Whisk together the vegetable oil and caster sugar.  Add the eggs one at a time and whisk. Then mix in the yoghurt.  Fold through the flour like you would with a muffin mix – a little lumpy is OK so don’t over mix.  Fold through the raspberries then pour into the prepared cake tin.
Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until cooked through (if it is browning too quickly and taking longer to cook then just cover the cake with some aluminium foil and continue to cook until cooked through – test with a skewer) .  Leave to cool in the tin. Once completely cooled ice with cream cheese icing.
For the icing, cream the butter and cream cheese together until pale and smooth.  Mix in the sifted icing sugar

(This cake recipe is from ‘Nourish’ from Bardon State School via 'Tea for Six' blog)

raspberry yoghurt cake
It's a very simple cake to make and the yoghurt makes it very light and moist. I think next time I will probably add a few extra raspberries and possibly omit the cream cheese icing and just dust it with icing sugar. All in all a big hit of a cake to add to the repertoire.

Happy holidays

glorious Queensland sunset September 2013

Thursday, 5 September 2013

A simple surprise birthday

My little Sibs had a birthday recently.

I actually think that someone tampered with the calendar as there is no way that a year has gone by since the last one!

Anyhow, as the date drew closer and the crosses on the wall calendar increased, we began to think about how to celebrate.

Each year she has had a party. We have had the small family gathering in the back garden type of party, we've had a whole class in the park rainbow party, a disco in the living room, a girly tea party, even a Jane Austen inspired dinner party. Usually Sibs has an idea and we work with it.

This year however there was some big undecisiveness (is that a word?). Sibs wasn't even sure if she wanted a party and if she did, it was all a bit much coming up with the guest list.

We knew that we would mark the occasion in some way but somehow there was no clear idea about how...

All of a sudden it was the week before her birthday and in a break with tradition I decided to just get on with organising something for her.

It was not particularly thought out, but I decided to get together some of her friends and their families and plan a surprise party.

The night before her birthday we went out for a meal with Nana and Papa and Sibs invited a friend who had a sleep over. She thought that this was her birthday celebration.

The next morning her friend left and we pottered around and made it sound that an afternoon picnic in the park was just an impromptu idea.

(Sibs must have been in fairy land as she never questioned why I was loading the car with a huge box of food...!)

Anyhow, we arrived at the park and she spotted  a couple of friends which she was rather pleased about.

Then another friend, then another...

It suddenly twigged - these people were all there for her.

No words, just a huge hug from my grinning girl told me that she was happy.

The best part of the afternoon was that instead of just the children being dropped off, whole families came and stayed.

It was lovely to be able to celebrate a special day with friends. Friends who have made our move to Australia easy. People who I am pleased to have in our lives.

There were no party games, no organised activities, no planned entertainment  and do you know what? It worked.
Adults sat and caught up with each other and the kids ran around, climbed trees and  kicked a ball.

Neil cooked sausages on the bbq (so Australian - I love it!), there were of bowls of fruit, rice crackers and dips and Birthday cake - easy peasy!

A few hours later the box was re-packed with a few leftovers, the children were gathered up and that was that.

Another year; another party ticked off.

 Penblwydd Hapus Sibsy girl.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

A few nights in Paris - Hotel Saint James

After my last post about camping, my friends have had a bit of a chuckle and still can't quite believe that I was there. Just for the record, it's definitely my hand that's holding that floral beaker in the first photo!

In direct contrast to that night under canvas I am going to take us to a hotel in Paris for this post.

First glimpse of the Tour Eiffel
Magical, even on a cold and wet December morning.

Last December we were fortunate enough to go on a trip back home to the UK to spend a cold Christmas with family and friends. I didn't really write much about it as I was too busy enjoying myself...but I have often thought that I should have recorded a bit more about the holiday.

When we were planning the trip we knew that our priority was to visit people, but we also wanted to try and fit in a couple of mini holidays away just  for the three of us. One place that was on the 'must do' list was Paris.

I had some lovely memories of the city but had not been there for many years so I was keen to return.

For the whole holiday I was more or less in charge of the itinerary (for that read most of the organising!) and Neil was tasked with finding accommodation. Now for most of the time we were lucky enough to stay with family and close friends so his job wasn't particularly onerous.
For the Paris trip he was just asked to "find somewhere that feels French"  So he did!

pretty impressive from the outside

You know that a place is going to be interesting when you are greeted at the front steps with a guest leaving with a flurry of small white fluffy dogs. They weren't poodles, but the scene was set anyhow!

Then in the entrance foyer there were zebra heads, a cascade of chandeliers and leopard print carpet...

Entrance foyer to Hotel Saint James.
You can just make out the zebra heads either side of the mirror in the bottom right photo. 

It was a glorious mixture of the starkness of black and white mixed with an eclectic feast of warm colours and texture and crazy hanging chandeliers.

The hotel is built on the site of the first hot air balloon launch in 1783 and there are a few quirky nods to this connection.

 hot air balloon inspired wallpaper and lights

 Each one of the 48 rooms and suites has its own story and hidden behind a bold red door is a uniquely decorated haven.

We booked a junior suite and were upgraded to a suite upon arrival  - I was already impressed...

colourful, elegant and at times a  little eccentric...

It certainly felt very French with the soaring high ceilings, luxurious fabrics and marble bathrooms. Oh, and did I mention that there was French champagne in an ice bucket? Merci Beaucoup.

The hotel is the only chateaux hotel in the city of Paris and is located in its own private courtyard and gardens. It was December when we visited so we didn't see the glory of the gardens, instead we were treated to log fires and enormous scented Christmas trees so I definitely wasn't complaining.

As you can imagine, the restaurant was another wonder of decor where the young female Head Chef creates typically French masterpieces. We mainly dined in the Library and I could have happily spent hours just soaking up the atmosphere in there with the 12,000 leather bound book and Pilou the hotel cat. Yes, Pilou the black cat lounges around the place in his/her red diamante collar just waiting for attention from adoring guests. Sibs was suitably thrilled.

from top left - the restaurant,  lots of heavy tweed curtains and leather,
 exploring the library and planning the day over morning coffee

After a day exploring the sights of Paris and walking many kilometres in the cold it was a treat to return to the splendour of this place.

I swear that I have never had such a good night of sleep -  anywhere, ever.
In fact, we missed breakfast on the first morning! The shutters did their job and plunged the room into total darkness and the opulent fabrics and furnishings muted any noise. I had no idea what time it was!

Sibs looks tiny 

Paris, you were magnificent....

 Hotel Saint James, you made it even more so.

Happy, happy memories,

Hotel website link HERE - well worth a look just to see the photos.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Bush camping

I've been camping!

Yes, that's right - I did it. This self confessed 'sometimes princess' has weathered the great outdoors and voluntarily slept under canvas.

at least I had a pretty cup

Last week there was a Wednesday public holiday for the EKKA show day. This is an agricultural show in Brisbane. We have been to the EKKA a couple of times but as Sibs was already spending a day there as part of a school excursion it was agreed that we would do something different this year.

view from the tent in the morning

Some friends were camping a few hours away and invited us to join them for the day on Wednesday. In a very weak moment (was there wine?) I may have whispered to myself that we could think about a stay over on the Tuesday night.... What was I thinking? It's Winter!

Ok, so Winter daytime temperatures are in the 20's but night time is a different story. Couple this with inland and a mountain and it's cold - really cold!

I don't do camping, so as a result the tent and equipment is all Neil's domain. He uses his camping trips as an excuse to be a boy scout again. In other words, he just makes do.

 I'm not very good at 'just making do...'

Our tent was a glorified portaloo tent.

my home for the night

Sleeps 4??  
 I don't think so...

Our sleeping bags (2 between 3!?) were very  lightweight Queensland summer ones... it was freezing! It plummeted from 23 degrees to 0 overnight. I wore all possible items of clothing to bed and pulled the hood on my jacket tight, so tight it almost cut off circulation! I seriously considered getting into the car to try and sleep, but I was afraid that I would drive home!

toasting marshmallows

My task was packing food. I made a nutritious chicken and vegetable soup for the Tuesday night meal and Neil produced some dodgy plastic bowls that looked suspiciously like dog bowls. After a quick wipe I searched for a spoon and was given a plastic fork... See what I mean about making do? Apparently it's part of the camping experience! At least I packed a bottle of bubbly. Then a thought....bathroom facilities? They would be a kilometre away...

Despite these 'challenges' I did have a good time and Sibs had an absolute ball. She helped to feed the farm animals, collected eggs, and even had a go at milking.

early morning egg collection

She went on a horse ride, learnt how to throw a boomerang and crack a whip and generally had some freedom and fun.

afternoon horse ride

I relished the time to sit and catch up with friends. Just chatting, strolling, drinking tea, doing a bit of crochet, watching the kids, nothing extraordinary, but all good.

happiness is a skip to explore...

Would I do it again?
 Maybe....big maybe.

I would have to stock up on a few essentials though, 
and I think my definition of 'essential' and Neil's definition  is quite different!

We stayed at Bestbrook Mountain Resort ( website HERE)