Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Divine Chocolate

I regularly receive requests to review all sort of items on my blog, usually children's clothes or toys, but recently I got a request that was a little different. Would I be interested in reviewing some of the natural products made in Carmelite Monasteries? I was curious.

After taking a look around the site, and googling Carmelites (sorry about my ignorance), I decided that we could indeed try some of the products. I was free to choose two of them, so we went for the Dark Chocolate Cream and the Lemon and Citron Marmalade.

I have to say that the Dark Chocolate Cream is by far the best Chocolate Spread I have ever tasted. We had some of a well known brand in the cupboard and there really is no comparison. Smooth, dark and delicious - it didn't last many days in our house.

The Marmalade was also very tasty. It has a serious bite to it which you can smell as soon as you open the jar, and is perfect for breakfast. I was not so keen on the texture though - a bit runny for my liking - but I guess that's just a personal preference, the taste is great.

If you are interested to know more about the products please check out the HolyArt website

Disclaimer - these products were sent to us free of charge for the purpose of this review. I was not paid to write this post, and the views and opinions are my own 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Plan B, and C, and D...

Life is quite exciting in our house as we begin to think about going to Australia. I have planned several different routes around the country, including some that take us to every state and territory, considered the pros and cons of different cars, thought about toys and games that are good for travel etc etc.

The first route was in the last post, to head north after our first stop on the Sunshine Coast, but then I thought about going south - so many more friends we can visit on that route, including BB's grandparents. But then we would have to drive up and back to Alice. do I want to do that? Also driving around the Eastern states would be fun. Lots of things to see and do, places to stop and friends every 200km or so which is very convenient of them. But then the drive up to Alice, then back again cross the Nullarbor and down to Albany is not so appealing. BB asks if we are nearly there yet way too often for that to be pleasant. And then what if we got to Albany and decided that the Sunshine Coast was a better place for us to live - then we'd have to drive all the way back!

So perhaps we should just fly.

The thing is I like to have my own wheels. And if we do end up living in Albany or even coming back to the UK (I think unlikely but I'm not ruling it out) then we really should make the most of the opportunity to do a tour of the south east and say hello to all our friends.

Then of course there is the fact that every time I have ever been to Brisbane or the Sunshine Coast I have felt like I should live there. It does have a lot going for it.  I could well get there and suddenly find 6 years have passed and we didn't go to the next place yet!

I was talking about this with a friend yesterday and mentioned that I might just get arrive and not move. She looked horrified and said I should make a plan and book something so I don't get stuck. I thought about it for a moment, but I wont do that. Perhaps we should actually stay a while and see. One of my concerns is that I wont like the humidity of the summer, but I have never actually been there in summer so I don't really know - its only sub tropical, not like the top end... it might be OK! Maybe we could rent a little place for summer and really check it out.

I am actually loving the idea of having that freedom again, of having no commitments as to where we need to be tomorrow, or the next day, or next week, or even in a month or three. I am happy to just wait and see what happens. And in my head there is a plan for every eventuality.

I think we have at least decided we are going coastal...

Friday, April 10, 2015

When I was in the stars...

I can't remember when, but soon after he could talk, BB was asking me questions and the answers revealed to him that there was a time before he was born. It was a hard concept for him to grasp. How could time possibly exist before him! I'm not sure if I would have used these words if I had really had time to think about it, but like lots of parenting issues, I thought on my feet and finally managed to come up with an answer that satisfied him. "You were in the stars!"

Was I thinking I metaphorically, spiritually, astrologically...? I don't really know. Did I do the right thing by explaining it this way? I'm still not sure. It is however a concept that he has taken and evolved in his own way, which I am finding fascinating.

He thinks of it physically I think, as in that he was in the stars, up there in the sky. It worked well for me when Nana started to get sick and he began to understand "what means died?". As well as talking about the physical aspects of death, and talking about where the body goes when we collected conkers in a graveyard one time, I also found myself saying that your spirit goes back to the stars.

Image from

Some of the things that he has said about this recently I thought might be worth recording. A few  weeks ago we were driving in the car and out of nowhere he said something like "Mummy, when I was in the stars I could see you in your house and I thought you were my favourite Mummy so I choosed you!" He went on to describe our small house with the red bricks and said that he could see me and that I looked kind and cuddly and he thought I would be the best Mummy. Since then he has referred to the fact that he "choosed" me several times, and  his pet name for me has become "my cuddly one", which is so very cute.

He also says thinks like "When I was in the starts I thought..." and "When I was in the stars I saw..."

He recently participated in a developmental psychology study at Cambridge University. Part of the study was to participate in a vocabulary test, and he came out very high on the scale for his age. I have thought this was the case for a while and several people have commented on it, but it was talked about a lot during the study, as were lots of other things about the way he perceives things. I am not sure if this influenced him or not, but the other day he gave me some really detailed instructions about the food he wanted to eat and how he wanted it prepared. I commented that his instructions were very specific and he replied that he thought this was because he was in the starts for longer than most children so he got to watch a lot of things before he was born. He then continued with a marvellous tale about watching a spaceship (which sounded very much like the one Wallace and Grommit made) go to the moon, which was perhaps off topic slightly, but the fact that he referred back to this in the stars theory, and was in a way using this to account for the reasons he is ahead in some areas, interested me greatly.

I guess he was in my stars longer than the average baby too - I was nearly 40 when he was born.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Feeling the fear, and doing it anyway

Finally I took action!

As most regular readers will know I have been wanting to go back to Australia pretty much since I got back to the UK. Actually, that could even be before I got back as I was never really convinced I wanted to come. I wanted to spend time with my family, help my mum out with her parents, let my child get to know his extended family etc, but I really didn't want to live here ever again.

Then for the last couple of years I have been saying I am going back, but worrying about it. Taking my son away from his family, being on our own, just him and me, what if one of my parents got sick, he will miss people, I will miss people. So I tried to find a better life here, and for a moment I thought maybe moving house would help, but then I realised it wouldn't. Incidentally the last time I went to Australia I also nearly moved house instead, and I was interested in a house on the opposite side of the very same lake to where the one I nearly bought this time was. So history repeats itself.

I have been contemplating whether we should go for a visit or just take the plunge and do a one way flight. Finally I realised that the one way flight is a tried and tested method - it has worked for me twice before, and there are always flights home if we need. If we do a test run and then decide to go back thats three flights instead of one, which is not only three times as  much money, but also three times as long for a 4 year old to sit on a plane!

I have been watching flight prices and they have been going up and up - at a rate of about £50 a week. I also reached a point where not going and then regretting it for a lifetime has actually become more scary than going. So last night I booked us one way tickets to Brisbane.

I'm not really sure what will happen next. I might buy a car in Brisbane. It is supposed to be one of the cheapest places in Australia to buy a car. Our first port of call will be to see one of my best friends who is also a SMC, who lives on the  Sunshine Coast. Then if we have a car, I am thinking we will take a drive up the Queensland coast for a little way (fun) before heading west 2500km +  to Alice  (insane). From there it would be another 3500km + to Albany (totally stark raving bonkers!). It would be easier to fly, but seeing places along the way would be fun. I also feel that part of the journey is about getting a sense of how massive a country it is once again - I did used to drive 1200km to work sometimes but I have forgotten just how far that is. In a way, Albany is even more isolated than Alice as many of our friends are in the Eastern States - I fell like i really need to understand where we are before we settle. Plus if we have a car we can haul all our stuff around, get to places more easily, be less of a burden on our hosts, and I am thinking that perhaps the car will offer some form of comfort and familiarity to our journey, in the absence of having a home, and that might be good for BB.

Here's the route!

We could possibly take a shortcut along an unsealed road through the desert, missing out Adelaide, and knock almost 1000km off the journey. I would love to travel the Great Central Road at some stage in my life, but in the summer, alone with a 4 year old might not be the best time to do that. Still, if we met some people that wanted to share the journey with us, and if we had an AWD, and the weather was not too crazily hot, and there hadn't recently been any rain, I guess we could...

Or we could fly. Which would be far more sensible...

Anyway - it feels good to have taken the plunge and purchased our tickets. The rest of the plan will unfold from here. It's the right choice I think. BB is excited. He wants to live somewhere sunny and he is happy for it to be the desert or the sea, but he wants to see his friend Gracie and says he will miss her if we don't live near her. I have tried to explain that we wont see people from here (his dad aunties, grandparents) and he just says we can send them messages and Skype them. I hope he takes to that as well he thinks he will!

Meanwhile we have a lot to do, and a lot of stuff to get rid of, and stuff to store and stuff to pack, and a business to wind down, and a house to rent out... I'm liking it so far... Good to have a direction again.

Our flight is on 17th September. That's 169 days and counting!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The where to live question

Still we are on the where to live question.

As you may have expected there has been a few comments about the idea of us living in Australia. I didn't say that we had decided that, I said we were going to go and spend some quality time with friends there and see what happens. If I do really feel happier in Australia or if thats just a myth in my mind, and if we will miss family too much.

I do really like being closer to my family. It is great for BB to have them around too. I would love to love living here. So, in addition to going to Australia I have also decided that we should scour this country for suitable places to live too. When I first came back I decided to look at Devon and Derbyshire as places to live. I actually ruled Devon out completely after I went and spent a couple of months there and I didn't like it. The narrow lanes and high hedges felt claustrophobic after a lifetime in the desert and fens, and I felt like I wouldn't ever feel part of the community. Derbyshire could still be possible though.

On visits back to the UK when I was living in Australia I stayed with friends in Wilsthire, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire etc and decided that the part of the UK west of London and south of Birmingham could be a nice place to live. I have a sister in Hereford too, and BB adores her. So we checked out a couple of places in that area of the weekend. The first was Leominster, which had some nice features, but reminded me a bit of Wisbech, which has some negative connotations for me so I think that might be a no. The second was Ludlow, which so far we both love. Even though it was a dull, cold, rainy day at the end of winter, the place had a nice feel. Beautiful buildings, nice landscape around the town, fabulous river running through, a railway station, some nice coffee shops and galleries, a busy market square, even on a Monday in the rain in the low season. BB's first word to describe it was "it's awesome", and he loved the castle. It's only half an hour or so from my sister too. The only negative is that it is not so accessible to other parts of the country, being an hour from any major roads, but actually that is probably what makes it affordable for us in terms of property prices. So we now have a place on the list for further exploration in this country too.

I also recently went to Dudley for a training course. I lived in Birmingham for 4 years when I was studying and I did note as I was driving home that day that it felt good, even as I passed spaghetti junction and the hideous power station - I have lots of positive associations with that area. Birmingham is a good city, though I wouldn't want to live in it as I am so far from being a city person, it would be nice to have that close by.

So we do have options worth exploring in the UK too and I am looking forward to a summer here really checking some places out.

Photos are of our weekend away. BB found a nice pace to sit under a tree in Queenswood, loved playing with Doris the cat, and enjoyed climbing to the top of the tallest turret at Ludlow Castle, where he announced that we were "higher than the world". He then wanted to go into the church we he lit a candle for Nana, and then when we saw some similar candles in another area of the church he decided we should light one for other Nanna too - "the one who died before I was in your tummy".


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