Easter and beyond!

May 12, 2011

I have just realized Charlotte’s birthday was the last post, so will now have to test my memory as to what we have been up to recently!

The school held its first annual spring ball on Good Friday, raising money for Cancer reasearch. It was a great night and fun to get all dressed up and go dancing. Being only a week out from Ironman Clint was not drinking and thus did well to stay awake till the early hours of the morning!

Spring Ball

The morning after the ball we took the kids on a much promised trip to Ferrari World. It was a fun day out but to be honest not something I would go back to, nice to tick it off the list though. The kids enjoyed themselves although Charlotte was a little short for some of the rides. Ferrari World

Lachs loved all the race cars

Kids amusing themselves while I lined up for tickets!

La's favorite thing- having balloon butterfly wings made for her 🙂

3D glasses for a 4D ride

Cheeky driver

They may have the world's fastest roller-coaster but this has got to be the world's slowest ride!!

Lachs on the starting grid

Lachs driving round the track

Drivers ed training- probably more intense than they give you to go on the actual roads here

La

Lachie driving like a local- turning from the wrong lane causing an accident

Easter was a bit of a non event here. Of course the Easter bunny paid a visit but after a quick egg hunt it was off to school and Clint also flew out to Australia that morning. The Easter bunny cleverly decided to bring the kids only big eggs which stops me eating one every time I open the fridge!

La still half asleep, Lachs already on the hunt

Yum

Clint flew back to Australia for 2 weeks to race the Ironman in Port Macquarie with a group of mates from his old tri club. he had a great race and despite the crazy winds on the bike managed to cut 20mins off his personal best time coming in at 10hrs 48mins. It was very weird to watch him on-line rather than be there, I got up at midnight for the start of the swim and dozed off during part of the bike. Checked on him as the kids got ready for school and then they put it on for me at the gym so I could keep up with his progress. Times it perfectly to be home watching the live stream as he crossed the finishing line… the only question now is where will the next race be!

Each term the school holds an open morning where you can go in and see the school in action. It’s nice to be able to wander through the classrooms and see them in action. the technology and the way it is used at the school constantly amazes me.

Waiting for the day to start

Lachie- writing on whiteboards playing a literacy game against the interactive board.

La- swimming lesson

Hmm my daughter and friends amusing themselves totally ignoring the swimming teacher.

And again distracting others

my busy little man

apparently it is still Spring, however I beg to differ, yesterday when I went to pick Charlotte up from school the car temperature was reading 50 degrees. The kids are in the pool every afternoon which tires them out quite nicely. We took advantage of the weather and headed with all our neighbors to a beach bbq at one of the local hotels.

Kailey and La

The 'big' compound kids

the 3 ratbag five year olds, who cause more trouble then the other 13 kids put together

Claire and Charlotte

Reminds me of a scene from Lord of the Flies. Ethan (10) leading the soon to be 7 years olds

Tanya, Sue, Haley and I

The boys amusing themselves

Lachie has loved playing rugby union this year and was devastated to find out that not only was the season was nearly over, but that Clint would miss the last training session and the end of year gathering due to his trip to Oz. Lachs has grown so much playing this season and it has been great watching his skills develop. he didn’t win the award but was one of the 4 nominated for most improved. He is already looking forward to the next season.

Under 7's

Clint arrived home in the early hours of mother’s day. The kids were both very excited to see him, it has been a long time since he has traveled for that long without us! although I think half of Charlotte’s excitement came from knowing Mama and Papa had sent presents back with him. It was also the day of Charlotte’s school play, so after a lovely morning of brunch at the Shangri-La hotel with lots of other Aussie/American and Kiwi Mums I met Clint at school for FS2 performance of Goldilocks and the 3 bears. It was very cute- quite an effort to have 125 five years olds performing at the one time.

My little star

Mid performance

Claire and Charlotte

Fingers crossed there will be a new post soon with lots of exciting news!!

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Cyprus

April 14, 2011

We have just returned from 5 nights in Cyprus, it was the first time Clint and I had been and we had a fabulous time together with the kids. We stayed in an apartment in the little village of Peiga overlooking Coral Bay and not far from Phaphos.

View from the balcony

We spent a morning exploring the Tombs of the Kings. No actual royalty was ever buried there, the name comes from the grandeur of the tombs, it is amazing to me that you can wander around and climb through all the tombs with little restrictions (also amazing to have them bordered by a main road, hotel, ocean and a KFC). It seems there is little being done to save them for future generations, I think they figure they have been around for thousands of years so they are not going anywhere. That said, they are absolutely amazing and were the highlight of the holiday for both Lachie and Charlotte.

The area was covered in wild flowers and hidden tombs that are yet to be excavated

Kids loved climbing and exploring

Down into another tomb

The kids and me

Lots of tunnels in all directions

La in a burial chamber

The kids were unstoppable up and down all the stairs

This was my favourite tomb, its amazing to think they built these without all the modern-day gadgets and can get perfectly even walls

This is the latest tomb to be restored

Off they go again

Bordered by the sea on one side- amazing scenery

Lach and La again

Hanging out in a burial chamber

There are so many archeological sites around Cyprus, we only explored a couple and although the tombs were the definite favourite; Kourin archeological reserve was great as well. In recent years they have built shelters and viewing platforms around the site so you can not walk all over them anymore. The kids were disappointed not being able to run through the columns and buildings but I was glad they are being looked after! They were able to climb through the amphitheatre though!

At the amphitheatre

While lots of British seem to retire and holiday in Cyprus for the weather and the beaches, I have to say the beaches did nothing for me. Lachie and Charlotte enjoyed throwing rocks in the water and it was too cold to swim anyway.

We are far too spoilt in Australia to call this a beach!!!

According to the guide books the ‘Baths of Aphrodite” are a must see, while the walk through the botanic garden to see them was scenic, the baths themselves was fairly uninspiring in my humble opinion. Legend has it that if you dip your hand in the water, the next person of the opposite sex to do so will fall madly in lust with you forever, not sure who was after me but judging by the tour group heading in as we left I don’t think I’ll be abandoning Clint anytime soon!

At the baths

The cave on the side was more interesting for the kids

Lachie is still loving the Rugby, he would carry his ball everywhere if I let him! Every spare moment he wants Clint to take him to the park to play, he even scored his first try’s the week before our trip.

Rugby with Dad at Latchi beach

In the middle of Cyprus is the Trodus mountains, we had been told of the scenic drive and cute little villages so we headed up one day. Unless you were there to hike the town of Trodus itself was disappointing but some of the other towns more then made up for it.

At the top (well as close as I was going to let them get)

Homus for lunch! Charlotte was in heaven with the food- homus, olives and feta being 3 of her favourite things

Wandering the markets of Omodos

Lachie loves his sport and was very excited to discover a mini-golf course in Coral Bay, it is actually one thing they don’t have in the U.A.E.

My little garden gnome waiting her turn

A hole in one on this hole- very pleased with himself 🙂

We had seen pictures of this area but actually came across them by accident while driving through Phaphos looking for something else.

Built in the 13th century, the church in the background is still used. The rest of the site is now cordoned off, there are plans to excavate the site.

Another angle

Lachs having a quiet moment

We also took the kids to the city of Nicosia, or Lefkosia as it is called by the locals. It is the only capital city in the world still divided with Greek Cyprus (where we were) on one side and the Turkish occupied Cyprus (since the war in 1974) on the other. as it is still a ‘functioning wall’ with crossings patrolled by the UN you can not take photos. You are able to cross over to the other side but we didn’t have time so just walked to the crossing and looked.

Lunchtime

It was a great holiday despite a few hic-ups; they turned the villages water off for 24 hours and we managed to lock ourselves out- hopefully the first and the last time we do that on holidays! As with every holiday, Lachie didn’t want to come home and is now going to live in Cyprus when he is an adult (until now it has been Germany). Charlotte also didn’t want to leave till we reminded her it was her birthday party the day after we got home- which was today, photos soon!!


Japan part 2

January 17, 2011

After skiing we left the picturous Hakuba on the 22nd and trained it to Jacqueline’s house. The trains in Japan are amazing; so clean and run to precision timing, there is a wonderful website that you key in where you want to go etc and it tells you what trains to catch and times all the connections perfectly, luckily Jacqueline knew about that or we may never have made it back! We had to catch 4 different trains to Shioya, a trip which took about 6 hours and took the kids on their first Shinkansen (bullet train).

Here comes the Shinkansen

unfortunately one of the rains moved a little like the tilt train and poor Lachs got travel sick, but apart from that they both had fun on the trains… there are no trains in Abu Dhabi so it really is a novelty. My parents flew in the same night for Xmas as well.

Jacqueline’s house is just lovely with a large yard for the kids to play in; mine loved being outside (even at 10 degrees) climbing trees, chasing each other and having a wonderful time. It makes me realize how much time they have to spend inside in Abu Dhabi!

trees to climb!

With Christmas only a couple of sleeps away (the count down was on) they had fun decorating gingerbread houses with their cousins.

La's, Joshua and Lucy's creation

Lachie and Sam's masterpiece

5 days in Japan and Lachie already has the fingers mastered

Dedicated sake barrels at a shrine in Sannomiya

My angels

Mum and Dad and the grandkids.

Christmas Day –

It was the night before Xmas... stockings hung, Santa's treats waiting and 2 excited children.

Xmas morning bribery smile nicely and you can open your presents.

La's

Cheers

Joshua and La's playing off the Xmas sugar!

perfect way to spend an hour after Xmas lunch

warming their hands after playing outside

Clint and I left the kids (thanks J and Mum) and went to Hiroshima and Miyajima Island for the day.  Hiroshima is a fascinating city they have a town beautification project that encompasses a large part of the city, within it there is no smoking and huge fines for littering (although no place in Japan we went to had any litter anywhere).

Atomic bomb dome

The dome is a world heritage site, the atomic bomb (having slightly missed its target) detonated almost directly above the dome and is now the main symbol of Hiroshima and the atrocity of nuclear weapons. The peace museum was also amazing with lots of artifacts damaged by the bomb, displays about nuclear weapons, the nuclear age and why Hiroshima was chosen, recounts of witnesses, terrible stories of suffering and how the city rebuilt itself etc.

The inscription reads "Let all the souls here rest in peace for we shall not repeat the evil".

Hiroshima castle (rebuilt after the bombing)

Miyajima Island is officially called Itsukushima, Miyajima is just a nickname meaning shrine island. The island is considered a holy place ever since 806 AD, when a monk established the mountain as a site for the Shingon sect of Buddhism. Women were once not allowed at all and there are still no hospitals etc on the island as it is believed death would ruin the island purity. While there are lots of hotels, most of the island is still national parks with deer wandering the streets, amazing places to eat, the famous Itsukushima shrine and the O-torrii gate (probably one of the most photographed images of Japan). Clint and I had a lovely afternoon wandering the alleyways and people watching!

O-torrii gate at Miyajima

Hanging about…

The cousins got a basketball hoop for Xmas, Lachie loved it and was constantly outside playing with frozen hands.

Hmm a whole yard to play in and look where the 4 year olds end up!

Icing cookies... oh the concentration!

Clint and I took the 3 boys on the shinkansen. Lachs didn't get the big deal but if you live in Japan it is an expensive way to travel (tourists can buy a travel pass). Joshua had never been on and Sam not since he was 2. They were both very excited! We got the bullet train a couple of stops, had morning tea and caught it back again.

Fiona and Steve flew in from London a couple of days after Christmas, it was lovely to see them both again and for the whole family to be together for Mums birthday. We had a lovely couple of days, hopefully we will make it to London in April and see more of them.

Aunty Fi and Mama play dress ups

scary wizards

Sam, Lachie and Joshua

Year of the rabbit (it's my year)

Family shot at Osaka castle

Just us 🙂

Me and my girl

Osaka castle

the Japanese love the cartoon characters

Blessings

Wedding day

lanterns (incase you couldn't work that out yourself)

Teppanyaki restaurant kids loved it, even Charlotte although the poor thing was unwell.

No cartoons but crazy hats

Happy birthday Mama

Mum and Dad kindly volunteered to look after the 5 kids so we (my sisters and partners) could enjoy a day out. Our plan was to go up Mt Roko to a traditional Japanese village.  The cable car up went according to plan,

On the way up... NO snow!

then we caught the bus around Mt Roko to the rope-way (to go to the spa/ hot springs village), which is about when the blizzard started!

Thank goodness for hot chocolate in a can!

The operators told us we could go out on the ropeway but we couldn’t get back due to the high winds. Not wanting to be stuck on top of the mountain we declined that offer and decided to walk (not sure who’s smart idea that was!) back through Mt Roko to get a bus to go back to the cable car. We were not expecting snow that day and as a result were not really dressed for the weather!

It was as cold as it looks!

Clint taking the easy option under an umbrella... the rest of us are tough 🙂

O-torii gate, Mt Roko

Japan has the most crazy kit-kat flavours out! Jacqueline collected some of the weirder ones and we had a kit-kat taste off once the kids were in bed (I don’t share chocolate)!

range of flavours and colours!

Some of the bizarre flavours we had were blueberry, mixed fruit, green tea, milk coffee, strawberry, cherry blossom/green tea, caramel pudding and CHEESE!!!! Ok, I would happily share the cheese ones with the kids, they were disgusting!

As well as vending machines every 100m, Japanese love their cartoons. Even the road signs are cutesy!

frogs- we also saw rabbits, dinosaurs, elephants and giraffes

New Years day, 2011

lining up to ring the bell at the temple (for good luck)

prayers for 2011

according to Lachie- these look like Snow White's dwarfs

Last family shot (we flew out later that day)

The kids had the train queueing down

Remember the comment about the trains running to precision time? Well they all did… except the one to the airport! We left Jacqueline’s house just after 1pm for our 9pm train and had the connections timed perfectly to get us to the airport at 7pm. All went according to plan until the airport train from Tokyo which takes about an hour, was close to 20 mins late and then the information screens on the train showed that our plane was 20 mins early! We were a little worried (although at worse it would have meant a night in a hotel) especially when the flight leaving 5 mins before ours started to flash “go to gate” and we were still on the train. We ran from the train to the check in area (a distance of close to 1km) and of course the Ethiad desk was the furthest away… but we made it. We were the last to check in, didn’t even have to give our name they knew who we were! The 12 hour flight back was fine, even though the plane was nearly full we somehow got given 2 seats each so both the kids slept for 10 hours and Lachs nearly made it the whole way without being sick (was sick after landing in Abu Dhabi), so hopefully he maybe getting better!

Kids went back to school the following day and straight back into routine, luckily we got some cold weather in Japan as winter here seems to be non-existent again this year!


Let it snow!

December 29, 2010

The day after the kids finished school for the term and Clint and I joined mates at the ‘Guns and Roses’ concert (therefore having little sleep)  we flew out to Japan. The plane was delayed an hour but apart from that the 10 hour flight was uneventful. We scored a few extra seats allowing the kids to lie down for the night although poor Lachie got his usual bout of travel sickness. After arriving in Tokyo we caught a taxi to Hakuba which took about 5 hours. Just as the kids were both starting to be over the travel, they started to see snow and the frustration was quickly replaced with pure excitement.

We had rented 2 chalets in Hakuba which is an alpine village, positioned in the center of the Japan Alps, surrounded by 6 ski fields, it has also hosted the alpine events for the winter olympics. My sister and her family drove from Shioya to join us for 4 days of snow fun.

Playing in snow for the first time

Lachie's first day on the ski's

La's up

and now she has had enough!

Kids made a snowman outside our chalet

Clint "carving it up" (yes- his words)

Cousins- Lachie and Sam

Charlotte and Josh

La's and Lucy

Confident enough to head up the chair lift

End of the run

Our snow princess

While there wasn’t a huge amount of snow (2 days after we left they got 18 inches in 6 hours and it kept going) there was enough for the kids to start learning and more up the top of the mountains for Clint and Paul (my brother-in-law). I managed a few runs on the ski’s each day before La’s had enough of the skiing and wanted to play in the snow. The kids also got to see a blizzard and experience snow falling…. their faces seeing this and snow for the first time was completely priceless.


November update

November 23, 2010

It’s hard to believe it is only 4 weeks until Christmas! The lead up here is just starting with decorations going up in the last few days (now that Eid is over), I am not sure where this year has gone! The weather at the moment is glorious, cool in the morning, no need for a jumper yet, still mid 30’s during the day but then the afternoons and nights are just lovely for sitting outside.

I started the month off accompanying Lala’s class to the kid’s zoo as part of her ‘pets’ topic this term. It was a fun day, full on… I forgot how much energy you need for excursions! The kids got to see, feed and pat all sorts of animals, La’s surprised me by happily feeding them and touching some (all the really slow-moving ones) but there was no way she was going to touch the 4 month old lion club or the snake!

We can safely rule out vet as a future occupation!

My 'little monkey's ' for the day.

Of course (like all places here) it had to have a ride area!

Last week the kids had the whole week off school (conveniently coinciding with Denny and Linda’s visit) for the second Eid. After Ramadan (the holy month of fasting) they have the first Eid, then a month later is the second Eid which celebrates the people who have done the pilgrimage (Hajj) to Mecca. It is like the Muslim Christmas. This year Lachie’s class were all invited to a Hajj party at the Sheika’s palace. It was a great experience for them, lots of fun, way to much sugar and a little bit of culture.

Charlotte would only wear traditional dress if it was pink!

My little pilgrims

Sunset at the palace

Now ready for national day!

All the best parties have their own ice-cream truck!

Clint’s Dad Denny and Linda arrived for a 10 day visit on the Thursday before Eid so there was no school for the 10 days they were here. Linda arrived laden with treats, a very special one sent over by Clint’s grandmother who baked fudge for us. I am not sure how they got it through customs though!

Does this look like fudge to you?

Charlotte managed to wake up the first day of holidays with a mild case of the chicken pox which put a hold on our camping plans, but luckily after 4 days she was able to get out and about again. It wa such a mild case, 13 spots in all, I am concerned she may get it again! But it was well timed, Clint and Denny spent the weekend at the Grand Prix and Linda and I left the kids at hoe and hit the shops! She was however still contagious so we had to skip the camping but, we still joined out friends for a day on Lulu Island. It was beautiful and really is one of Abu Dhabi’s best kept secrets; probably because you need a boat to get there! The kids spent the day swimming, playing in the sand, snorkeling, fishing and being towed on the donut.

Sand always provides hours of fun

Lala and Gabby

Lachstar

Hanging on the boat with Poppy

All the boys went fishing, the girls stayed to swim and play in the sand. The ladies had drinks!

We headed to Dubai a few times to show Denny and Linda the sights. We spent a day, wandering, shopping, lunching and enjoying a dow cruise at the Madinat Jumeriah.

On the dhow

Traditional boat, traditional dress and a mobile phone!

Burj Al Arab

We also ventured up the Burj Khalifa- the tallest building in the world, it was a clear day and the view was fantastic. Fortunately we did it 2 days after Tom Cruise was hanging off it filming for ‘Missions Impossible’, so we could actually see the view and not just the helicopters!

Lachie's tough guy look

We can be silly at any height

Daddy's girl

Cheeky again

Family shot

Enthralled with the view

Denny and Clint

Last weekend Clint and I attended the 235th birthday of the United States marine Corp ball at Emirates palace, the kids behaved for nanny and Poppy and Clint and I got to dress up.

Denny and Linda left late Sunday night, Clint then flew to Kuwait for work on Monday and is in Dubai tonight for a function. But all is good, next week is National day so another public holiday and now less than 4 weeks till we fly out for Christmas in Japan!


Muscat

October 25, 2010

Got to love the British system, having only been back at school a few weeks it was half term last weekend! For some reason, British schools here have similar holidays to those in the UK but forget the minor details like the kids started school 2 weeks later here due to Eid… but that’s the way it is so we made the most of it and headed to Muscat in Oman for 4 days.

Although it is ‘next door’ it really seems a world away, everything is so much more efficient, the locals are so friendly and it really is a beautiful country. We all really enjoyed our time there.

View from our room

 

Water park with a view

 

The resort has a tube ride that goes for about 500m and links the resort pools. Kids loved it.

 

REAL GREEN GRASS!!!!!!!!

 

Checking out the crabs with Clint

 

Heading out on the kayak... while I got to read 🙂

We also explored the old muscat town- amazing buildings, forts, palaces etc and went to the souk. Unlike here where they demolished all the old souks and replaced them with new buildings and tenants like Starbuck’s; Muscat still has an amazing old style souk. With long thin aisles packed with shops and stuff, the souk was so bright with colours, noises and lots of locals doing their daily shop.

Kids thought it was like a huge treasure chest

 

Souk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The highlight of the trip for the kids was going out on a boat to see the dolphins. We were a bit worried for a while that there were not going to be any but eventually found a pod of round 40 to follow and watch. Charlotte was in awe.

 

Watching the dolphins

 

My little Marilyn

 

Mr cool

 

Looking back at the resort from the boat

 

 

 

 

 


Kota Kinabalu

September 15, 2010

After KL we flew to Kota Kinabalu which is still part of Malaysia but on the island of Borneo and oh how I wish we were still there! We had seven glorious (ok I only had 6 but more about that later) nights there. We stayed at the Shangri La Rasa Ria resort and it was heaven.

Joining the welcoming committee

Pick-a-boo

Of course our holiday couldn’t be complete without some sort of stuff up, we arrived to find they had given us 2 adjoining rooms (as requested) but the 3rd room was on a different level… while the adults fought over who would stay away from all the children, management managed to swap our rooms after the first night (gotta love an upgrade).

We fell into a fantastic routine of lazy breakfasts then mornings spent lazing by the pool watching the kids play on the slides or heading to the beach for the boys to take the kids out on the catamarans and kayaks.

Ready to ride

Lachie in action

and again

After lunch by the pool, the kids headed to kids club where they spent their afternoons having pony rides, doing batik paintings, games and having lots of fun. Kids club meant the adults had the afternoons to ourselves… golf for the boys, day spa for the girls and just sitting enjoying a cocktail in the sun or watching the afternoon sun showers/ storms.

Face painting and pony ride

Much better then the rides in Kl

We managed to crawl out of the sun-lounges to play tourist once or twice. The resort is on 400 acres and has an orangutan rehabilitation sanctuary within it. We were so lucky on the morning we visited to have 2 of the 4 current orangutans come to the feeding platform for us. They got so unbelievable close and the kids (as were the adults) were awestruck to be able to watch them swinging through the trees.

Our own little monkeys

to show how close they got

We also went into the town one afternoon (a decision I would come to regret) we had dinner on the waterfront and visited the night markets which were terrible. I managed to get food poisoning and thus spent the night and following morning doing my own detox! Luckily no-one else got sick.

and yet he avoids food poisoning!

sunset view from dinner

We did a cultural village tour as well. It was fantastic and the kids all enjoyed it to. Not surprisingly Lachie thought the best part was about the headhunters!

Group shot

Blow pipe (traditional weapon)

White man can jump!

Each evening the kids from kids club got to take part in the lighting ceremony. A prince and princess are chosen and then the other children are warriors. Our kids did it a couple of times so they could each have a turn of being Prince or Princess.

The warriors... scary aren't they!

Royalty... Prince and Princess for the night

Unfortunately the holiday ended all too soon and it was time to head back to the desert and reality. We landed at midnight, Clint flew out again at midday for work and then Brett and family arrived in the evening for a week to see the Emirates and plan our next holiday together for 2012.