Life. Lately.

My oh my. Where do I begin?

I feel as if we hit the ground running in 2017 and haven’t really stopped since. We knew it was always going to be a busy start to the year, but I probably underestimated just how busy. Work is hectic. Home life is busy. Our social calendar is quite full. And then there is the whole ‘growing a baby’ thing…

I’ve just come off the back of a couple particularly full-on weeks, with a few more ahead of me. I’m certainly juggling the work / life balance, and probably dropping a few, no a lot of, balls along the way. Life is feeling full, and too often – frantic, but I’d be lying if I said there haven’t been lots of fun times too. For in amongst the chaos we wedged in a family holiday and have even booked in a few more short  family trips away for next month too!

So while I’ve found myself with a spare 20 minutes until my flight boards, let’s focus on some recent happenings that have made us smile…

The girls and I headed down the Hume just before Easter to spend the week in Melbourne. After a big school term for Miss C (and a term of daycare for Little J), it was truly rewarding to spend some one-on-one time with both the girls outside of their normal daily routine, and for them to also spend some time together.  Sure, there were moments of bickering (sisters..), but for the most part they seemed to really enjoy each other’s company, while collectively, and collaboratively,  keeping me on my toes!

Ps. Number of games of Uno played? Approximately 1000…

The car trip itself went pretty smoothly – although having done it quite a few times now with the girls they are becoming quite the seasoned car travellers. A bucketload of snacks helped, as did having the Moana soundtrack on repeat (both girls are obsessed!!)

But the main reason for our trip? Celebrating my little brother getting married!!!! Both girls were flowergirls and Charlotte, in particular, took her role very seriously. Josie on the other hand….yeah not so much (aka we had to wrestle her into her dress lol). They both barely left the dancefloor once the reception started though – so needless to say a lot of fun was had by all!

Yes. Shoes were optional by this time….

(You might notice that I don’t have a lot of photos from the day. I was also honoured to be a bridesmaid and my camera was, as expected, swapped for a bouquet!)

The next big excitement on the agenda? Easter! Which after an Easter-Thursday wedding snuck up on us in no time. It was wonderful to spend the morning with my family (before hitting the road for home), and watching the kiddies run around collecting eggs and generally getting up to mischief.

And in no way related to chocolate consumption (I swear!), we celebrated another milestone with Miss C losing her first tooth while we were away. It was wobbly for about a week (so so gross), and finally fell out the day before the wedding.  A visit from the tooth fairy and the Easter Bunny was, as you would imagine, pretty exciting for a certain 5 year old!

But it wasn’t all about the kids, for us ‘oldies’ got to have a bit of fun too. Namely ticking an item off our bucket list and watching our beloved Brumbies play in Melbourne. Starting with sunset nibbles on the Yarra, it was a fun night for sure – we just won’t mention the result…

Overall, this little break was just what I needed. Time with our girls and with my family, and trying to switch off from work before the next two crazy weeks begin.

Until next time!!!

 

 

Family time in Fiji

IMG_9117If you follow me on Instagram, you might have noticed that recently my feed was filled with all things sunshine, palm trees and beaches. For our family fled the cold Canberra winter, and took a holiday to Fiji. Our first time to this amazing country, and one that we will no doubt return to again.IMG_9088 I managed to fill a whole memory card with photos, but here’s my best attempt at keeping our story ‘condensed’.
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The girls travelled really well – even when we discovered that the Virgin flight over offered no in-flight entertainment (?!) and the hostess would not even give me a pillow when Little J fell asleep on my lap (and therefore and so did my arm!). Thankfully the flight back with Fiji Airways was far more pleasant – with lots of entertainment to keep us occupied during the 4 hours flight.

After arriving in Fiji, we took a private transfer to what would become our home away from home – The Warwick Resort. Located on the Coral Coast, and a 2 hour drive from the Nadi airport.

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We were given a warm welcome, and the generous and kind hospitality only grew from there. I’d heard that the Fijians love kids, and this proved so true. Every staff member we passed greeted us with an energetic ‘Bula’, but the real warmth came when they interacted with the kids. For most often they scooped Charlotte and Josie up for cuddles or gave them a high five as we passed. Needless to say, the girls loved the attention!

IMG_9375 IMG_9156 IMG_8962It didn’t take us long to settle into a holiday routine. Generally I would get up before the kids, and take a walk along the beach. Most mornings I had company in the form of a dog (or dogs) from a nearby village, who were quite happy to trot along beside me as I explored the area.

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From there – we headed off to breakfast at the Buffet. A decent selection of all the usual breakfast items – with hot and cold selections on offer. Perfect energy for the morning ahead, which usually consisted of swimming and exploring.

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The Resort also offered a Kids program (for ages 2 and up) – which Charlotte LOVED. Filled with lots of activities – including fish feeding, arts and crafts, cooking classes, games, face painting and the like.

IMG_9085 IMG_9090 We usually ate lunch by the pool, where a Bar and Grill offered a variety of meal options. From burgers, to salads, or heartier meals for bigger appetites – there seemed to be something for everyone.  Washed down with a cocktail, or two.

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The Grill also had ‘kids meals’ – a lunch box including a hot treat (toasted sandwich, fish, chicken etc), plus fruit, vegetables, crackers and cheese.

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IMG_8992As Josie still has a lunch nap, we used the middle part of the day to rest and relax. Most days Charlotte fell asleep too, and we savoured the quiet time.

After lunch, however, the adventures continued.  We spent time at the beach, paddling in the water and building sand castles.

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Although Josie was too young to go to the Kids Club, the Resort has a Nanny service (for a modest fee) which we took advantage of most afternoons for a few hours. During this time Mr BBB and I headed off for a game of tennis or squash,  or out kayaking, and indulged in another cocktail in the lounges overlooking the beach.
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And while we certainly loved the resort-life, I couldn’t help but book a few extra things for us to do during our stay. The first was a horseride with Charlotte – something I had been promising her since her last birthday. A hut next to the resort had beach rides on offer, so one morning we did just that. An hour spent riding along the beach together, chatting with our local guide about all things Fiji. (ps. he was horrified to learn that we live 2 hours from the beach!)

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Another nearby business also offered a ‘Waterfall tour’ and a visit to the nearby Biausevu village. We booked this for our final day – and it turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip. We were collected from the Resort in the morning, and driven to the village, where we were met with big smiles, participated in a kava ceremony and language lesson.

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From there, we hiked up to the Waterfall (about a 30-40 minute walk), making 9 shallow river crossings along the way. Realising that the walk was probably a little far for Charlotte, we accepted the offer of a horse ride, and she rode the entire way up and back with a young villager – smiling the whole time!

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The waterfall was gorgeous, as promised, and we wasted no time in cooling off with a swim. We also feasted on freshly picked wild grapefruit and coconut.

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After our afternoon adventures, we usually freshened up and headed to the pool-side for a pre-dinner drink and to watch the beating of the ‘Lali’ as well as the torch lighting. This was definitely a highlight for the girls, who got to have a go at beating the drum.

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Then it was off to dinner. Some evenings we dined at the Buffet – which usually had a theme (Fijian, Tex Mex, Indian etc). One night we went to the on-site pizza restaurant, which was rather delicious, while another night we indulged in an enormous seafood platter at another restaurant on site – the Wicked Walu.

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Most evenings had some sort of entertainment on offer too. Be it dance and song demonstrations, or games on the beach, lots to fill in our time before we fell into bed to get some rest before doing it all again the next day.

Some other highlights from our trip?

* Watching the Fiji Sevens take Gold at the Olympics – particularly as many of the players were from a nearby village.

* Being disconnected from the pressures of work and home life, and spending some great quality time together as a family…
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* Managing to somehow miss the heavy rain from the week before, and be blessed with gorgeous sunsets over the water every evening.

IMG_9261 IMG_9217 IMG_9089 But as they say, all good things must come to an end. And it was definitely with a touch of sadness that we said goodbye to this beautiful country and made our way back home. Bringing with us, though, so many memories and a yearning for more overseas travel.

I’d certainly say that Fiji is a “family friendly” holiday destination, with lots on offer for all ages.

But a few tips we picked up along the way:

* Fiji time is definitely a thing. There is no sense of urgency, so be prepared to wait a while for meals and drinks etc.

* Reef shoes were really handy – as the beach was quite studded with rocks and dried coral.

* Snacks and drinks are available were available for purchase at the Resort – however they were quite expensive. Next time we would probably stock up with water, snacks, beer etc from a supermarket on the way.

Ten tips for cruising with kids

I have to start this post by clarifying a few things.

First, I am in no way an expert when it comes to cruising with kids. I simply picked up a few tips along the way, that I thought would be nice to share (particularly for those who are thinking of taking a cruise with kids in the near future!)

Second – I am sure that some of these tips may not work for you.  This is simply a collection of what things worked for us (and what things didn’t!). I am acutely aware that every family is unique, with different needs and routines.

Third – This was our first big holiday with two kids, with C being almost 4, and J having just turned 1. I am certain that our experience would have been completely different if the kids were older.

But now, let’s get to it!

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1. Establish a Holiday Routine

“What?” I hear you say. Routine, with kids, on a holiday??

Yes this routine-loving gal made sure to try and keep both kids on a pretty regular routine (albeit a holiday-relaxed routine) even though we were in a new environment. I felt as if it provided some structure to our day, and the girls knew what to expect next.

J still required two naps per day, and although they were not taken in their usual cot, we made sure to give her plenty of opportunity to get the rest she needed. Most of the time she took a nap in the pram, and sometimes in the Ergo, but we kept her nap times pretty much to schedule.

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Generally our days went something like this: Up, breakfast, nap for Josie, gym, kids club & play (or Island adventure), lunch, nap for Josie, pool & play (or Island adventure), baths, dinner, bed for the kids.

We took the early dinner time-slot (5.45pm), meaning that both girls could be tucked up in bed not long after 7pm each night.

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On that note – don’t forget to pack your little one’s favourite teddy! I think having “Scout” and “Teddy” along with us assisted with the change in environment, and also made for smoother bedtimes as both girls had their bed buddies.

IMG_67982. Take enough nappies to cover the whole cruise

J is obviously still in nappies, and we made sure to take enough nappies and wipes  to cover the whole holiday. Yes, it took up a tonne of room in our suitcase – but it meant that we didn’t have to go searching for spares (and pay, what I expect, would have been top dollar) if we ran out.

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We also took a tonne of swim nappies, however once on board we realised that that non-toilet trained kids were not allowed in the pool (even with a swim nappy on). So we probably could have saved some suitcase space by leaving those at home.

3. Don’t forget the other ‘regular’ items

For us, a few things spring to mind as having been invaluable.

I made sure to pack a muslin cloth that we could cover the pram with to help J fall asleep. Without it she would fight her nap, but with it, she would generally fall asleep within minutes.

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Ahem, well most of the time…..

We also packed our baby monitor which worked a treat in the evenings. We would put the girls to bed in our room, then hang out in our family’s adjoining room – with the monitor easily reaching between the two.

And, if your kids are anything like mine, one (or both) of them will inevitably get sick. We didn’t face anything too major whilst away, but J did have a never-ending runny nose and spiked a couple fevers. Thankfully we had brought an ’emergency medical kit’ with us – including panadol, baby nurofen, bandaids, stingose and the thermometer.

4. Food, food and more food

I don’t know about you, but our kids love to snack.

On board, there was a lot of food available at the scheduled meal times – but in between the offerings were quite slim (and mainly consisted of hot chips, ice-cream and pizza).

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So I brought some ziplock bags with me – and at breakfast each morning I made a couple extra sandwiches to ‘take away’. I also grabbed some fruit and yoghurt to keep in the fridge in our room. That way, the girls could snack on some healthier options throughout their day (although they did still have their fair share of hot chips and ice-cream too!).

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5. Pack the pram and carrier

We took a small pram on the ship, that folded up easily and was not heavy at all. Not only was it great for moving a non-walker from place to place throughout the day, it was a useful ‘nap’ option as mentioned above.

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I also took the Ergo carrier which was perfect for our shore excursions – and when the pram was not going to be convenient.

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On that note, it pays to properly understand the shore excursions beforehand. We did have one incident where we thought we could take the pram – however we realised at the last minute that the ‘train’ was too small and we had to wake up a sleeping J and dash back to the ship to swap the pram for the carrier.

6. Call ahead for a cot

I was advised that the ship only has a limited number of cots, so I made sure to call well in advance to secure one. In truth, I was fretting about the logistics of getting two kids, two massive suitcases, two backpacks and the pram from the train to the ship (and then on-board!) so not having to worry about finding an extra arm to carry a portacot too was a relief!

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7. Take your bottle to dinner and have the waiters fill it with warm milk

J has a bottle of warm cows milk each evening before bed. The only problem was – how to get heated milk?

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Our dinner waiters were more than happy to oblige our request to fill the bottle with warm milk each evening after we finished our meal, which I then took back to our cabin. Brilliant!

8. Use the laundry service

I was on holiday and therefore had no desire to spend a day washing, drying and ironing clothes. The laundry service was a perfect alternative – with a 24 hour turnaround and reasonable fees.

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And, as you know, adventurous kids go through a lot of clothes!

9. Split the kids up at dinner

Ok this was possible as we were cruising with 6 other people, so I appreciate that it might not work for everyone.

Basically, our kids are pretty ‘new’ to formal dining environments (probably because we don’t, in all reality, go out to restaurants all that often).

Well, the first dinner was rather horrible. J didn’t want to sit still and kept throwing things on the floor and trying to get out of the high-chair. C, being her usual energetic self, didn’t want to sit still long enough to eat her dinner (she is pretty picky these days).

The combination of the two kids together + 2 nagging parents alongside = not a fun night at all.

So, the next night we decided to change tactics. We positioned the kids at opposite ends of the table – with Mr BBB and I alternating which child we sat next to each evening (and the our other family members playing musical chairs in between).

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We found this really improved the situation, and let us both have some one on one time with the girls. Add in the understanding waiters (and their dance and origami skills) and well dinner times became a lot more fun!

Tips for new cruisers – In addition to the regular dinner menu, there was also special kids menu which included all the usual suspects  – burgers, fish, pasta etc. We would usually order one meal for the girls to share, with a plate of vegetables on the side, and C generally ordered jelly for dessert. 

10. Make use of the Kids Club

Where do I begin?

C absolutely LOVED kids club – particularly as it meant she could escape from the adults and hang out with kids her own age for a few hours.

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Similar to the brochure outlining all the on-board activities, there was a full schedule of kids activities for the various age-groups on board.

We registered both girls for Kids Club on the day we boarded, and they were given a wrist band to wear for the remainder of the cruise. We were also allocated a mobile phone that the Club staff could call us on if they needed too.

C was in the 2 to 5 years program, which had activities running from 10am to 1am on sea days (yes you read that right, 1am?!), and 7:45am to 1am on Island days. The club closed for a couple hours before dinner, and did not supply lunch.

There were far more limited hours that J, being under 2, could use the Club. A few hours in the morning before the older kids arrived, and some hours later in the day (again when the bigger kids were away). We therefore didn’t use it a lot for her, just a few times while we were at the gym.  Actually, the whole cruise was probably the most frustrating for J as she is not yet walking – and couldn’t just roam free like she would around the house. But we made use of our balcony and the quieter parts of the upper decks that were a little quieter so that she could crawl around and burn off some energy!

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Tips for new cruisers: We expected that there might be a nanny or baby sitting service on board, however that was not the case. Kids Club stayed open quite late, but there was no option to have a baby-sitter watch the kids in your room or separately. 

So there you have it…..cruising with kids, in a nutshell.  We found it challenging at times, but mostly rewarding, and I felt like our little family adapted really well to our time on the sea.

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It was a great opportunity to spend some quality time together, with the added bonus of having to only unpack once!

I hope you enjoyed this little series about our cruising adventure. I’ll be back to regular food and fitness blogging soon, but in case you missed the other posts in the series, here are the links:

What about you? Do you have any tips for cruising with kids?

 

Our Carnival Legend Cruise – The Details

If you follow me on Instagram, you would have noticed that my feed has recently been filled with all things sunshine, seas and sailing.

IMG_6834 For our family took a long overdue holiday – a 9 night cruise around New Caledonia. It was our first cruise, and our first holiday with two kids, and we didn’t have a great idea beforehand of what exactly we were getting ourselves into.

But we returned home relaxed and happy, a little sun-kissed and otherwise filled with fond memories of our time on “the sea”.

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A few of you have enquired about our cruise experience generally. While I could regale you with endless pictures of tropical islands and my assessment of the best to worst cocktails on board (which I may or may not do at a later time…) perhaps a run-down of the finer details would be of more benefit to any of the cruise-newbies out there?

I’ll break it down into a few parts though – mainly to keep it from becoming an epic-novel:

  • Part 1 – The Details
  • Part 2 – The Islands
  • Part 3 – The Highlights
  • Part 4 – 10 tips for cruising with Kids

So grab a cocktail and let’s do this!

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PART 1 – THE DETAILS

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The Planning

Running a small business means that we cannot just step away and take ‘leave’ in the way that you do in a regular employment environment. Rather, we had to plan well in advance – so much so that we found ourselves researching possible cruises back January 2015 – i.e. over a year ago. The idea of only having to unpack once, and having catering and the like all taken care of, was definitely the appeal of taking a cruise rather than another form of holiday. And as for destinations – well we are all lovers of warmer weather – so an Island getaway sounded just perfect.

Searching through Cruise Republic – we came across a cruise that fitted in with our  schedules and we booked it pretty much straight away. We also asked Mr BBB’s family if they would like to join us – and they jumped at the chance – so we soon had ourselves quite the family adventure planned!

The Cruise

We chose a 9-night New Caledonia cruise on the Carnival Legend, an impressive 2000+ capacity ship that seemed to have fun for all ages on board.

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We departed from Sydney – spending a couple days at sea before visiting Isle of Pines, Lifou and Noumea. We were supposed to visit another Island (Mare) however the cyclone in Fiji prevented that, so we had an extra sea day on the return trip home instead.

The Booking

We booked through an online agent – Cruise Republic – which was a relatively simple process from start to finish. I placed a call with the agent to confirm which room he thought would suit our needs, and he recommended a suite. He also helpfully suggested that we book rooms on the left side of the ship as this was the side that normally faced the islands when the ship docked (ie they usually gave a better view).

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I loved that the online booking system let us view the rooms, and reserve a particular cabin –  not just a cabin type. As such, we  were able to secure 3 balcony suites next door to each other – with a deposit being payable at the time of the booking (and the balance a few months before departure).

We were also able to finalise our booking online, adding passport numbers and dinner seating preferences before we set sail. An itinerary with boarding passes, luggage tags etc was emailed to us – which we could print off and take along.

In fact, the only time I needed to speak with someone regarding our booking (aside from the initial query regarding room type) was when I requested a cot be placed in our room for Josephine.  The rest of the process was completed online / by email.

*Tip for new cruisers: some cruises have policies in relation to minimum sail ages / pregnancy etc. For ours, Josie had to be at least one year old. 

Our room

We booked an Ocean suite – with the other family members grabbing similar suites either side of us.

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It was not the cheapest option, but certainly a comfortable one – with a king bed and a single bed (converted from a sofa) for Charlotte and a cot alongside our bed for Josie. There was also a pull-down bunk above the sofa had we needed an extra bed. I was surprised to see how much storage / cupboard / hanging space there was, and the bathroom was rather spacious too.

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As a bonus, once we were on board, the staff were able to open the doors connecting our family’s respective balconies to make one long balcony between the rooms. Great for passing between rooms, and giving the girls some extra room to play.

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Another nice touch was that you had the same housekeepers throughout the cruise, who would make up your room each morning and turn down the room each night. Anjana and Katrina (our housekeepers) would always greet us and the kids with a big smile, and were more than happy to help us in any way they could (be it getting some ice, or a power board etc).

Tip for new cruisers: there is only 1 or 2 power points in your room and they wont let you bring any double adaptors etc on board. They will, however, supply you with a power board on request when you embark.

On board

A big plus of this cruise was that I didn’t need to worry about carting my wallet around everywhere. Rather, at check-in, we were given a Sign & Sail card, which not only was our room key but basically our on-board EFTPOS card!

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Be it booking tours, ordering cocktails, buying photographs or even playing a few bingo games, everything was charged to the Sign & Sail card – with the balance being deducted from our bank account at the end of the cruise. There were machines around the ship that would allow us to check the running balance (cocktails can add up!) and I think you could also make cash deposits onto the card if you wanted to.

I appreciate that it could be a little dangerous if you didn’t keep track of your spending, but I really enjoyed being able to leave my room without lugging a purse around.

IMG_6749*Tip for new cruisers – The card did not come with the lanyard you see in the above photo – we purchased these from the gift shop soon after we boarded. It was much more handy ‘wearing’ the card, and the lanyard had a clip to remove the card when handing it over to make payment etc

Food

There was rarely a moment that I felt hungry on this cruise – not due to any lack of appetite but because as soon as one meal was over, we would generally be gearing up for the next.

We usually had breakfast early – around 7.30am – which was served Buffet Style on the Lido deck. There were both hot and cold breakfast options, tea, coffee, yoghurt, fruit and a tonne of pastries. Most mornings we kept it simple – eggs, toast and yoghurt  (and I’d often take some yoghurt, fruit and a few sandwiches back to our room in case the kids got hungry mid morning).

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For lunch on sea days, we would again generally hit the buffet, then eat it at one of the tables pool side. There were lots of hot lunch options (pasta, curry, soup, pies, sandwiches etc), and a well stocked salad bar. And dessert bar.

Many cocktails were consumed, generally by the pool while we swam and munched on hot chips from the outdoor all-day burger cafe (and snuck in a few ice-creams from the 24-hour soft serve machines too).

IMG_6751 Then there was dinner.

And what a wonderful part of our cruise that was.

Given the girls are still quite young, we chose the early dinner sitting at 5.30pm (I think the later one was at 7.45pm?). We were allocated the same table in the dining room each evening, and the same 3 friendly waiters – who made the whole dining experience fantastic.

IMG_5184 IMG_7259 Dinner was served ala-carte – with a range of options being available for entrée, main and dessert (half of the menu changed each evening). My girls aren’t the greatest when it comes to formal dining (more on that in my Cruising with Kids post), but the waiters didn’t seem to mind and always went out of their way to talk to them, dance and generally make them laugh.

*Tip for new cruisers – Most cruises have a couple ‘theme’ nights and ‘cruise elegant’ nights – which you may want to take into account when packing. Our cruise had two formal nights- where cocktail dresses / suits were recommended (and jeans / tshirts were discouraged). Our theme nights were Caribbean and Mexican – with menus and music to match! We didn’t dress in theme, but I did see some people in Hawaiian shirts and sombreros. 

Activities

I had an expectation before this holiday that cruising would allow you to be as active, or as idle, as you would like.

And that expectation was pretty much spot on.

Each evening our housekeeper would deliver a newsletter outlining the various activities on offer for the following day. From trivia, to scavenger hunts, to dance competitions and karaoke – there really was something for everyone. Most were free, although some had a small fee (such as bingo).

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Or, if you wanted to take it easy, there were a tonne of lounge chairs by the pool and on the upper decks – perfect for lazing and reading (not that we did much of either with two kids!).

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Speaking of the kids, Kids Club started from age 2 – and was  jam-packed with kid-friendly activities. Charlotte had a ball visiting for a couple hours most days and making lots of friends along the way. Although Josie was too young to attend the formal program, we could still take her to the play room at certain times of the day so that she could crawl around and play with the toys (again, more on that later).

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After dinner, there was also a full program of music, shows, comedy acts and pub trivia. We saw a few shows throughout the cruise, and also had some ‘down nights’ – convening in one of our family member’s rooms (after the girls had been put to bed next door) to play various games or just catch up on the days happenings.

Obviously our days on the Islands were a little different, but I’ll talk about those separately.

Exercise

I’d read that there was a jogging track on the ship, so I had grand plans of taking a daily run. Alas, it was on the very top deck, extremely windy, wet and only 100m long?!

Instead, if Josie woke early, I would take her for a walk around the ship (either on the lower outdoor deck which was 400m long, or even around the indoor corridors to get some steps in). Then, after breakfast, I hit up the gym for 30-45 minutes on the elliptical.

The gym itself was well equipped – with lots of cardio and weights equipment, and a spa. I found that working out on the moving ship could be a little nauseating on sea days, but not too bad when we were docked. Mr BBB and I made a pact that we would try to fit in a workout everyday and clock up 10,000 steps (as a way to (hopefully) counterbalance the abundance of good food and drinks) – and I am pleased to report that we were successful in our cruise-fitness mission!

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Other than the gym – you could also take the stairs between decks – which made for a nice little bit of incidental exercise too!

Getting there / getting away

As we live in Canberra, we had to travel to Sydney to board the ship. We weren’t all that keen on flying there, and parking would have cost us a fortune if we drove, so we all took the train up! It took approximately 4 hours to get to Central Station. From there we took a short train ride to Circular Quay where the ship was located.

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Once we arrived at the ship, the whole boarding process was amazingly smooth. We dropped our luggage off, headed through immigration, collected our room cards, went through security and voila.

We were on board.

We were then ushered to the dining room for lunch, snuck in a sneaky first cocktail by the pool, and then a few hours later we were advised that our rooms were ready – our luggage having been delivered straight there.

As for disembarkation, it was similarly seamless. We chose the ‘self help’ option, which allowed us to carry our own luggage off. The process started at 7.00am on our final day, and I think we were off the ship by 7.20am. Points for efficiency right there!

So there you have it, a little of the logistics of cruising in general. I’ll touch more on cruising with kids shortly, but if you have any questions in the meantime, please feel free to ask!

Otherwise – stay tuned for Part 2 – The Islands!

 

A little farm break

I feel as if we are treading water right now. The in-tray is growing, and the number of posts I have in draft is rather embarrassing. I suspect it is partly the usual ‘end of year’ rush, but mostly just a case of not seemingly having enough hours in the day. IMG_5097 But there have been moments of fun. Of family.  And we cling on to these pockets of sanity when the crazier moments strike. This last weekend being one such example. A whirlwind trip down the Coast – to the family farm (and for the Batemans Bay Half Marathon – race recap to follow). .We piled into the car Saturday morning, and were home by Sunday afternoon. A short break – yes. But a rewarding one also. IMG_5104 The girls loved the change in scenery, as did we. For it is all too easy to stay in work mode when you are at home. But when you are away? Well the in-box doesn’t seem too pressing. At least for that moment. We played, we patted horses, we went to the beach. We read stories, we camped out in front of the TV and watched cartoons. IMG_5106 Yes it was just the little break that we needed. IMG_5121

A family weekend

IMG_4793 There is something rather lovely about a long weekend. Particularly when Mr BBB has a whole 4 days off in a row (!!!) and a trip away is planned. IMG_4663  IMG_4665 And so we found ourselves on the road to Bundanoon last Friday. The car and camper trailer laden with all the bits and bobs that a 3 year old and 7 month old require. And then some more. IMG_4661 A few hours later, the rest of Mr BBB’s extended family arrived, and the reunion celebrations kicked into gear. For a Golden Wedding Anniversary for his Aunty and Uncle, and 70th Birthday for his Aunty, were the perfect reason to get the family together. Aunties, Uncles, Cousins….the whole clan had an absolute ball.  We chatted, we caught up, and we ate. Oh how we ate! The littlest cousins – ranging from 7 months to 7 years – did not stop from the moment they arrived. It didn’t seem to matter that they don’t get to see each other that often, for they wasted no time in making up grand adventures and generally just having a ball! IMG_4681IMG_3343[4] And while the youngest member of the family could not yet join in with the bigger kids, she lapped up the endless cuddles and attention that were on offer! IMG_4783IMG_4775 And as for us, well we opted to stay an extra day – and what a day it turned out to be! The rain finally stopped, the sun came out, and we jumped at the chance to explore a nearby National Park. IMG_2115IMG_2131IMG_2141   IMG_2146 You can’t help but feel a little lighter and happier after weekends like these. Even with the over-tired kids and multiple mounds of laundry! What about you? What did you get up to this weekend?

A birthday weekend in Beechworth

IMG_3952 There are some weekends which will linger in your memory for quite some time. And this last weekend, spent with my Mum, brother and his fiancé in Beechworth, ticked all the boxes. Great location, great accommodation, great food and, of course, great company. Not to mention being able to spend my birthday with my family! As the girls get older, too quickly for my liking, I find myself feeling the downside of the distance between my family (who live in Melbourne) more and more. For the distance means we can’t catch up for coffee, or have regular get togethers.  But, with a little planning,  we are hoping to take little trips like these perhaps once or twice a year. IMG_2316 I suggested Beechworth after hearing so many great things about this historical town over the years. The bonus being that it was *about* halfway between Canberra and Melbourne, and we could all make our way there after work on the Friday. We woke both mornings to heavy frosts on the ground outside, but the sunshine soon made an appearance, and gave us beautiful clear, crisp Autumn days in which to go adventuring. IMG_3942 I took an early run on the Saturday, a little birthday present to myself, and the views were simply wonderful. So much so that I could have easily kept running. IMG_5765 As for the remainder of the weekend, well it felt like we only touched the surface! We started with a trip to Woolshed Falls (about 10 minutes north of the town), where C had a great time splashing in puddles and exploring amongst the rocks. IMG_3886IMG_3890IMG_3906 We took a tour of the Old Gaol, and quickly realised that the freezing temperatures inside should have been enough motivation to stay out of trouble and avoid a stay!! IMG_3934 We discovered Lake Samball, and I think I’ve earmarked a future camping spot! And we wandered the town, taking in all the historical buildings on display. IMG_2360 IMG_3953 But along with the ‘adventures’, there was also plenty of downtime to just sit, and chat, and catch up on the little things. The girls had an absolute blast spending time with their Nanny, Aunty and Uncle (as did I!!). What we ate… Well no trip to Beechworth would be complete without a visit to the famous Beechworth Bakery. Lunch featured a selection of warm goodies, along with a box of sweet treats to share. IMG_3908 For dinner  we found ourselves at the Bridge Road Brewers  – where we dined on tasty pizzas, washed down with locally brewed beers (I swear mine had a mango aroma?!). All while the littlest member of our party slept. cottage2 Where we stayed… We rented a four bedroom cottage (which was part of the Beechworth Cottages property), which worked out just beautifully for the 5 adults and 2 kids we had in our party.  IMG_2322 The cottage was well equipped and had everything we could ask for. The kitchen was put to good use, and we could have stayed here for a week or more quite comfortably. Charlotte loved the games room, as did the adults (who had a hotly contested game of scrabble one evening).  cottage The gift basket of local apples and apple juice on arrival was a nice touch too… IMG_3859 Overall, it was a beautiful birthday weekend with my little family, and hopefully the first of many trips away with my ‘Melbourne” family in the years to come. IMG_2325 Beechworth itself turned out to be a wonderful town, and I’d love to come back and spent some more time here….I certainly see a camping trip, and a ride down the old rail trail, in our future! What about you? Have you been to Beechworth?

Weekend

This past weekend, we took a little trip. A family adventure, if you will. With our new camper trailer on the back, we headed ‘over the Clyde’, to spend the weekend with family down the Coast. For life has been a little hectic, of late, and we were all craving some time away. Even if it was only for a few days. IMG_2278IMG_1778 And I am pleased to report, it was just what we needed. Sure, we returned home a little sun-kissed, with fatigued muscles and farm-dirtied clothes, but we also returned home with many fond memories of time spent together. IMG_1795IMG_1784 There were bakery lunches, and flaky sausage rolls eaten roadside (and vanilla slices, well just because). IMG_2285 IMG_2358   IMG_2359 There were tractor rides with grandfather, and even a horse ride too! IMG_1806IMG_1828IMG_1854  IMG_1860  We were kept well fed and well entertained… IMG_1874IMG_1914 – particularly by our adventurous toddler who quite clearly loves the outdoors! IMG_1889IMG_1951 And we are now officially counting down to our next camping trip! IMG_2345 What about you? How was your weekend?

Long weekend

Happy Monday lovely people! And it is not just any Monday here in the Capital – no my friends, its a public holiday! IMG_8824 It has been simply bliss having Mr BBB home for 3 whole days. We didn’t have too much planned, but also rarely found ourselves with a dull moment. I must confess that I did find time to fit in about 5 hours of work (early starts!) but, for the most part, our weekend was all about family! IMG_7623 We had the opportunity to head out on a 20k ride together – which was simply a perfect start to the long weekend. IMG_8740 IMG_8737 It wasn’t the longest ride, but it was awesome to be back in the saddle -  riding alongside my favourite riding buddy nonetheless! We conquered a big shopping list, with a view to being organised for Charlotte’s party next weekend. IMG_8744 IMG_8748 IMG_8749 With a big work week ahead of us, and guests arriving later in the week, I’m determined to stay on top of things. We “educated” ourselves with a little outing to Questacon, where C ran around like a madwoman. Touching this,  pushing that…aka generally having a ball! IMG_8760 IMG_8759IMG_8774 We dined with family, creating a rather scrummy red duck curry for the main – and indulging in a delightful crumble for dessert (thanks to my sister in law!) IMG_8789 IMG_8790 And we finished the weekend with a trip to “Canberra in the Park”, an event to celebrate Canberra’s birthday. IMG_8823 A couple of hours in the sunshine, listening to music. And with C, as per usual, running amok and having a grand ol’ time! IMG_7652 IMG_8819IMG_7665 (Don’t be fooled, she has no interest in eating ice-cream – just playing with it. It is moments like these when I query whether she is, in fact, this ice-cream lover’s child?!) Actually – the event timed just beautifully when I realised that it was on this exact public holiday, 2 years ago, that we welcomed Charlotte into our world. IMG_7656 A thought that captured my attention during my morning run, and saw me positively energised with nostalgia for the entire day! IMG_8797 IMG_8791 Outings aside, I’m pleased to mention that there were also the quiet moments. To sit and read, to create with playdoh, to cook up a big pancake breakfast and have morning cuddles while dawn started to break outside.  IMG_7638 IMG_7643IMG_8734IMG_8730 IMG_8733 Oh and to make a mess… IMG_8807 Because that is half the fun right!? What about you? What did you get up to this past weekend?

Life in the country

IMG_1464 This past weekend, Charlotte and I took a little trip to Melbourne. To catch up with family in Melbourne, in the first instance, then head to the country to spend some time with my Dad. IMG_1609IMG_1521IMG_1463IMG_1607IMG_1526 I cannot express how wonderful it was to see my little girl embrace the outdoors. She ran everywhere collecting rocks, and sticks, and playing ‘hide the flower’. IMG_1623IMG_1582IMG_1549IMG_1644 We walked, we collected fruit, we played in the mud. IMG_1587IMG_1492IMG_1542 We visited a wildlife park, and her love of animals was ever present. Patting kangaroos, chasing birds and trying to kiss dingoes! IMG_1749IMG_1781IMG_1817IMG_1795IMG_1712 As for her Jonpa, well these two were immediately the best of friends. And it melted my heart to see the love and adoration that passed between them. IMG_1486IMG_1596IMG_1615IMG_1619 We picnicked. We enjoyed sherry at lunchtime. And in the evenings, Dad and I sat by the fire looking at old family photos and drinking red wine. IMG_3211IMG_3147IMG_3174 Yes country life sure is lovely… IMG_1728 We miss it already! What about you? Are you a fan of the country?