McDonald’s from around the world! πŸ˜Ž

The one thing that’s guaranteed to stop any argument in its track: Who Wants McDonald’s? πŸ˜‚

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Look at those happy little faces… you’d never guess that they’d been close to fisticuffs a few minutes earlier. One thing I’ve learned: food diffuses most arguments.. and McDonald’s trumps the entire fast food range (in our house) πŸ˜πŸ˜†

So we made it to Auckland! Beautiful, beautiful Auckland 😍

Yesterday we opened a bank account, got a local sim card (hello Wi-Fi!) and explored Queen Street.. we had BurgerfuelΒ  (yeeeehah!) with an old friend and met one of her offspring for the first time. I can’t believe it’s been 13 years since we were last here!

Today was fun.. we nearly got stuck on a drawbridge on the Viaduct 😝

While the kids were busy losing a McDonald’s toy in the water (Yoshi doesn’t swim well, in case anyone was wondering) and I was attempting a scenic selfie, none of us noticed the entry/exit gates to the bridge had shut and the lights were flashing. We finally realised what was happening when the woo-woo alarm went off. Cue a very fast scuttle off the drawbridge and some very embarrassed English tourist faces πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

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πŸ˜†πŸ˜†πŸ˜†

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It’s a little early for a wine so I’m opting for a little slice of heaven… look! My two most favourite puddingy-type things moshed in to one! 😎

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Auckland: you’re lush.

And tomorrow we pick up Big Bertha the Bus… eeeeek! 😎

 

 

I’m being stalked by the budgie smuggler (and other tales) πŸ˜‚

So we went to the beach, gorgeous Maroochydore beach, and I attemptedΒ  another selfie for the blog. Look behind me! Beach selfies are just not safe any more πŸ˜‚

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It was gorgeous. Not busy, perfect rolling waves and 4 excited kids. I think I found a slice of heaven and I definitely want to come back for longer next time.

We’ve crammed so much in to these 4 days… it has been nice to stay a bit longer to be honestΒ  (and to have a washing machine!) (Oh god, when did I get so old!) And although jetlag has been a nightmare I think we’re nearly there. (I say that, just before we have to get up at 3.30am to catch the final flight to Auckland πŸ™ˆ )

So we’ve kayaked, conquered a water assault course, we’ve eaten crayfish and pizza, we’ve mooched in the pool til 7pm, we’ve body surfed the huge waves, and we’ve also been to the amazing Australia Zoo and cuddled a wallaby. Not to mention that for two nights we’ve met up with my gorgeous cousin Jayne and her partner Paul (and I’m happy to say that the kids were so well behaved that we have a new baby sitter all teed up across the pond 😊😊).

Australia Zoo was out of this world.. there were lizards everywhere and everything was so tame! We stroked a koala (they’re a bit smelly and sleep for about 18 hours a day.. next life I know what I’m putting a request to come back as πŸ˜‚ ), we tickled a wallaby (my fave) and we saw loads of huge ass crocodiles 🀀  Seriously I had no idea of the size of those beasts. They are massive.

After the crocodiles, Sid spotted some binoculars that he wanted to buy. For an hour, all he would say is, “I want bincoolers, I need bincoolers…” Repeat. For an hour. He’s lucky he didn’t get left behind with the lemurs! I admit I’m not at my most patient in 29 degree humid heat. 😝

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The alarm is set. The final leg of our flights is looming and I have to be up in 4 hours… Our affair with the beautiful Sunshine Coast is over, and we’re ready to begin our New Zealand adventure ❀

Bring it 🌝

Explain these to the kids πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

So we came across this sticker in our cab to the airport in Bangkok…. and the kids were taking some very wild guesses on what they mean πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

Luckily the first one caused enough hilarity that I didn’t have to explain that the final one meant no-pretending-to-be-a-horse 😝

Seriously: What the? Any ideas? No trumping, no whipping, no boob hootering?? πŸ˜‚πŸ˜† and so on…

So we made it through the trauma of Australian visas. We made it through the overnight flight to Sydney. Funny thing was that everyone around us was asleep… just not us. Our bloody kids were way too excited to sleep. 3 of them finally crumbled at 4am and passed out, but it was game over at 6am as the coffee and muffins came round for breakfast on the flight.

You can only imagine the joy that 4 grumbly sleep-deprived kids brought to 2 zombie parents as we ushered them on to the connecting flight to Brisbane at midday.

Fred didn’t sleep at all (damn me for losing his melatonin tablets!!) So when we got in our rental van and drove an hour and a half to the Sunshine Coast, Fred pretty much passed out on arrival. 4pm and he was out for the count after 29 hours without sleep.

But look 😍

I think I’ve found heaven. What a gorgeous place! All the water sports are included: mini catamaran sailing, kayaking, paddle boarding, swimming pools, and trampolines on the lakeside.. there’s also surfing and body boarding on the beach… I’m so glad we have a few days here to explore and get over our jetlag 😊

The downside to Fred falling asleep at 4pm is that he got up at 11pm for the duration πŸ™ˆ

I was a close second passing out at 6pm and waking randomly with Fred throughout the night. Jetlag sucks πŸ˜ͺ

But today has been great. A lazy pool day, eating whatever and whenever. This is what holidays are all about πŸ’™πŸ’šβ€

Sunshine Coast we love you ❀

When travelling to Australia, make sure you have the right visa πŸ™ˆ

You’d think I’d know better, I’ve been around a bit, but did I make sure I had the right visa requirements to enter Australia? Did I bollocks.

The first clue we had was when we rushed through the departure at Dubai, the chap made me promise that I had done my ETA subclass 601. Of course I agreed, we had 13 minutes to board the plane πŸ˜‚

So when we arrived in Bangkok I thought I’d Google it and see what I needed. Well the hotel didn’t have Wi-Fi and it was midnight and we had to have room service and get some sleep… so I left it til the morning.

Went to the Wi-Fi hotspot in the hotel lobby, and found out that we need the ETA in order to be accepted on our flight in 9 hours. Wtf. I quickly put the 6 applications in and was told it takes 24 hours to be approved 🀀😱

My head (and Mark) was telling me that we’re screwed but what could we do? So we wandered in to downtown Bangkok for some street food. Why not? 😁 (while growing a fair few grey hairs and worry lines).

We had a ball. We crammed all of us in to a Tuk-Tuk (“yeah, no problem Leicester!” Was the response all day to my 7 year old Tombo, who was sporting his Leicester city top 😍) and it sure was an experience.

We had bbq pork on a stick and visited a local loo (😨) and had a boat tour and walked thru Chinatown and it was definitely an experience. Whistle stop Bangkok.

Got to the airport with my heart in my mouth.. checked in… And of the 6 of us, Fred and Joe’s visa had not yet been approved πŸ™ˆπŸ™Š and we were asked to wait to one side while they contacted Sydney visa office 🀀

Literally in the same couple of minutes, I got an email (thank God for free airport wifi) to tell me all 6 visas had been approved. I have earned this wine πŸ₯‚

The moral of this tale is to ALWAYS CHECK WHAT VISAS YOU NEED! Don’t fly by the seat of your pants cos the chances are you’ll leave skiddies πŸ˜‚πŸ˜

Sydney, I’m not sure you’re ready for us πŸ˜‚ xx

Just when you think it’s safe to selfie.. πŸ˜†

Just when you think it’s safe to selfie…

…you notice the bloke behind you in budgie smugglers pulling the seat out of his arse πŸ˜‚

I was blown away by Dubai. It’s soooo beautiful! And hot, and clean, and polite, and full of the nicest people and foods. The beach was mind-blowingly lovely although kids and sand together are like my worst nightmare. Sid must have spent an hour washing his hands in the sea and then burying them in sand again, and then washing them in the sea and burying them in sand again… and so on and so on, you get the idea. And still we crunched on sand while scoffing fish and chips on the beach (which was bloody lovely by the way).

The sea was really salty, which stung the eyes quite a bit but made you really floaty. Kids loved it! They must have been tired out because they were all asleep by 9.

The next day we did Wild Wadi Water Park, I was a bit worried in case there were lots of queues (Fred struggles to queue politely 😌) but there are so many things to try that it wasn’t too bad at all (and he was a star). All the boys were like my little shoal of fishes.. we spent most of the day with crinkly fingers 😊

So this morning we stuffed our faces with Hilton Hotel breakfast and got ready to board for Bangkok. I did manage to get the timings wrong and we arrived at the airport a smidgen late and ended up running to the boarding gate πŸ™ˆ I got stopped in the beeping machine because of my belt and had to strip it off, but we made it just in time πŸ˜…

And I’m sat here now on the plane, just remembering that I’ve left Fred’s melatonin in the cupboard of our hotel room πŸ™ˆπŸ™Š oh shit. Wish us luck sleeping for the next 2 weeks 🀀😱

So, Thailand are you ready for us? 😎

Well hello Dubai πŸ˜

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Its ridiculously early (I’m still working on UK time here) but in the words of Anna, “The sky’s awake, so I’m awake” and while the kids sleep, I’m on the apartment balcony looking at this gorgeous view. I’m in pyjamas with birds nest hair, and I don’t care, and its 29 degrees 🌞

We made it to Dubai. 7 hours on a plane with the 4 boys was……. surprisingly pleasant! I won’t lie, I had a wine at one point.. but I also cat napped andΒ  drooled on Sid for an hour while watching Wonder Woman, and felt much better after some sleep.

I also discovered a bonus to having 4 kids (hear that? There are perks! πŸ˜‚) – on checking in and checking out and going through passport controls and stuff, the airport staff would look at us in amusement with our mountain of baggage (that’s luggage, not kids πŸ˜‰) and would usher us to an empty check in desk or manager, and get us through quicker than the average queuer. Bonus! πŸ˜€ and trust me, with an awesome aspergers child, anything that can help avoid a queue is a plus 😊

So, the plane. No-one was travel sick 🀘 and no one had a melt down πŸ€™ and no one punched anyone else’s lights out πŸ’ͺ – it’s a win.

We did struggle to get a 7 seater taxi when we left the airport and I thought that the 31 degree heat was going to cause 4 child-shaped melted puddles on the pavement, but the airport attendants are so super organised here! They radioed us one that came within 20 minutes. (I’ll know to book one in advance next time!)

The hotel is amazing, the people are amazing, and although the kids drove me slightly nuts last night arguing about beds, they were all finally asleep by 10.30, and I can happily forgive the fact that a 375ml bottle of wine costs Β£15. I don’t care. I still drank that sucker at 11pm before bed 😎

There were a few night time shenanigans, the 2 bed apartment only has a huge double bed in one bedroom, and 2 single beds in the other, so we had another single bed wheeled in by a porter, and I foolishly though we’d be fine with just the 5 bed spaces. But apparently 3 in a king-size bed doesn’t cut the mustard and this morning I am most definitely ringing down for another bed to be made up for tonight πŸ˜‚

So hello Dubai! You’re looking gorgeous this morning at 7am (that’s 4am I think in UK time) and I cant wait for my immense Hilton Breakfast. Get In My Belly.

Holiday, day 2!

 

 

 

 

 

I’m so tired. Where’s the gin πŸ˜†

Well this is it. It’s 4am and only 1 kid has been up since 2, I’ve had to raise the rest who looked slightly like zombies. Apt for this time of year πŸ˜‚

 

On that note, this time of night shoud be illegal. I’m knackered. We were packing til midnight, and the alarm (aka Fred 😝) went off at 2. The real one went off at 3.30 and we’re currently heading down the M1 to Heathrow. It took literally 10 minutes before one child needed the sick bag πŸ™ˆ

I repeat.Β  This time of night shoud be illegal.

Someone bring me a hash brown.Β  Or a gin.

0 days to go!

 

Oh we do like to be beside the seaside πŸŽΆπŸŽ€

Today has made me realise why we are doing this trip… We’re currently doing a whistle stop tour of England over half term to see family (and return their stuff πŸ˜‚) and we’ve spent the day at Hornsea Beach chasing waves and eating bacon butties.

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The sea and the beach.. they’re just bloody beautiful. The kids are so feral and gorgeous out there getting wet and windswept, I want this every day. And that’s why we’ve spent the last few years working so hard and saving up, and why we’ve spent the last 6 months planning and selling stuff, and working out where to go and what to see, and buying home educating supplies and light suitcases and all the sleepless nights and tough stuff: it’s all so worth it when I see them on the beach 😍

A big part of the ‘tough stuff’ came to light this past weekend. I am really going to miss good friends. I have purposely tried not to think about this bit because it makes me cry.

On Saturday, some of my amazing friends arranged a surprise bash up at the Cricket Club as a farewell kinda do, which included the very secretive arrival of one of my oldest friends from Liverpool. I was truly surprised, and totally blown away by the entire crew of sneaky buggers who all managed to keep quiet about it since bloody August! It made my heart happy and sad all at once.. I’m really going to miss the Kibworth Girls and their families ❀

So if it’s possible to be completely happy about going away, and completely sad about leaving, then that’s where I am at right now. πŸ™ƒ

10 days to go!

 

Bye bye Pooh

We’re getting there. We have (hopefully!) let the house, we’ve arranged insurance, booked the chimney sweep, got our international driving licences, bought suitcases, booked the painter, cancelled Sky and Netflix, and cracked on with selling lots of stuff. Not to mention countless tip trips and clothing bank visits. Jesus, where did all this stuff come from?! Who knew we had so much shite? πŸ™ˆ

And a sad occurrence… this week we said goodbye to Pooh, our Giant African Land Snail.. he’s gone to find a new home (thank you Laura and Family!) and some new dandelions to chew on. We’ve had him for nearly 4 years! Not the most exciting of pets (he’s not *that* cuddly) but he’s really low maintenance and cheap. That’s my kinda pet πŸ˜†πŸ˜ he’s grown from the size of my little fingernail to the size of my hand. Good work Pooh.

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Graham the Leopard Gecko will be going to his holiday home soonΒ  (thank you Alison and Family!) And the house is looking scarily bare.

This week, the kids have kindly shared their germs too so I’m feeling a little less perky than normal. So if I’m a little pricklier than you expect, blame my kids 🀣  Β I do. Regularly. For most things πŸ˜‚

17 days to go! 😱

The Home is To Let πŸ˜¨

Well this week, the old homestead went live on the world wide web as available to let 😱

It’s a weird feeling! But it also means we’re on target to get everything sorted before we leave 😊

AND I have to keep it bloody tidy in case we have viewings soon. This is no easy mission with 4 boys aged 4-10 whose idea of tidying is throwing their daily socks in the corner of the lounge 😐

And look! Our house looks enormous!Β  And at least tidy on the outside πŸ˜†

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On a lighter note, this past weekend I completed my 5th Shine Night Marathon Walk. It was a beautiful night, and I had some awesome people walking with me.. we completed it between 9.32pm and 7.55am and I came away remarkably unscathed. No blisters, no missing toe nails, no remaining sanity… πŸ˜‚

Seriously, the entire crowd raised about 4million for Cancer Research UK, we really kicked ass.

Just before the marathon, I was sat in St Pancras station, watching the world go by (and playing candy crush) and a random West Ham supporter approached me to ask me if I was doing the Shine Walk. Bear in mind I’m wearing some lovely sweary ‘Fuck Cancer’ arm warmers at this point, so I’m aware that I may appear slightly offensive to some.

So I tell him that indeed I’m walking the streets, and for my 5th and final time. He went on to tell me what a fantastic job we do as volunteers, raising funds for the cause, and he’s a little teary as he tells me he has just had his 10-year all clear after beating it so long ago. I love this guy already.

He then whips out his wallet and asks if he can donate via me, and at this point I have a little cry too. He doesn’t know me from Adam, and his heart is so big and his story so heartfelt, and he’s donating money to me. (My arm warmers are obvs bloody awesome 😁) He gives meΒ  Β£100 and thanks me and everyone like me, who raise the funds to keep people like him alive.

I’m blown away. The world is amazing.

And I echo my attire.

Fuck cancer.

We WILL win.

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30 days to go!