I’m interrupting the broadcast that is my overview of our European vacation for an awesomely epic announcement! (Okay it isn’t so much an announcement, but something rare for a family that doesn’t have a money tree in their front – or back – yard, so I just had to document and write about it).

Best intentions. Yes we all have the best of intentions when we are preparing for something big. Like preparing for a long haul flight in economy. Of course like everyone else hubby and I had the best of intentions in preparing for our two part, long haul flight home to Australia. Our intention was to have an nice early-ish night giving us a good sleep for the first time on our trip, and head out after an early breakfast to do some shopping before heading to board our plane. I know I know – at least our intention was good right? So instead we did a late night Greek theatre show, a convo with the director after at her request, late night to bed, dragged ourselves out of bed for breakfast before going for a walk to pick up a new top and some *ahem* chocolate before going to the airport.

To say that we were all tired was an understatement…really, I’m surprised the airport security didn’t mistake our entry to the airport with the Zombie Apocalypse. So we were keen as to get on the plane and just get the whole flying thing over and done with very quickly so we could enjoy our four nights in to attend IGNITE Tour, and get rested after our six week holiday in Europe. So we lined up with everyone else to check in for our flight when the check in lady asks us if we want to upgrade to business class for a quite reasonable amount of money. We did consider it may have been way too expensive for us and seeing that we were thinking of saying no they offered one of the ticket upgrades for free, however it was still beyond what we were prepared to pay, another hostess walked up and offered to give us two for free. A little ‘eeek’ are we really going to pay that much to fly business class later and both hubby and I said yes! We have very little occasion to fly business class especially with two children on hand with us – its normally quite expensive for just one person let alone a family. But hell yeah…we were all trying very hard to stop ourselves from squealing with delight.




Firstly…executive lounge – thank you very much! Yummm…lovely little snacky lunch and a lovely drink and a relax before boarding our flight. Bypass the line to board? Why yes please. I must say that I needed to give myself a bit of a mental bitch slap for having that thought of “sucked in!!!” when the economy passengers began walking past looking longingly at our spacious accommodations – after all, we would have to be those economy people once again so remember to be grateful gosh darn it!



Secondly…the plane. So we boarded our plane and the set up is amazing. For example it appears that my seat has multiple functions. It is a chair, a recliner, A BED!, A MASSAGER!!, A CUBICLE!!! (Can you tell I have never flown Business Class). My little cubicle had storage area for my bag, a foot rest, a spacious table, a tv, a little area for bits, bottled water waiting for us, A DOONA! When I needed to visit the little girls room I found it to be only for Business Class, way more spacious, and complete with aromatherapy spritz, moisturiser, and eternally immaculate in cleanliness.




We also had coloured mood lighting throughout the trip…wow! Talk about spoilt. It was a little odd being frequently called ma’am and constantly being offered alcohol (yeah right like I’m going to experience this under a haze of booze….nah!). But I soaked it up when brought our A la carte menu with the most amazing food on it – and yes they suggested a different type of wine with each course lol…nah!


So all in all we really enjoyed the high life even if it was only for five hours, and I really loved that I could let my kids experience it too – and they really appreciated it for sure. So now we are to disembark and head to our FIFTEEN. HOUR. ECONOMY. FLIGHT. TO. AUSTRALIA. ICK!

See you on the other side!



When in Rome…one does not leave ones purse complete with credit cards, passports and other valuables like 400 Euro on the seat next to one, for one may lose ones valuables to a broad daylight thief. Phew! Thanks heavens that wasn’t us! Unfortunately, like many of the major cities and tourist spots throughout Europe, Rome too has very brazen pickpockets that are extremely skilled at taking what is not theirs. Its also comes with many many MANY people selling bits and bobs illegally on the streets, shoving them in your face whether you politely say no thank you or ignore them…that is until the Police come near at which time they scatter and run, taking off their over shirts to appear a different person. The people I speak of were an older American couple and as they sat eating their lunch a man sat near them and began watching very intently before taking the womans purse almost undetected, although they did not get it back or catch the man when we saw them. There is definitely a dark and sad side to Rome that is very out there and in your face.

What I’m talking about is the significant homelessness and poverty in Rome but unlike the homelessness we have back in Australia, it is on every street and alleyway we went down, it is in your face, and you wouldn’t be human if you didn’t see and feel something. No matter how many people tried to tell us that we should ignore these people begging day after day after day, it has had a profound impact on me and our entire family really and I know we will be having more conversations on being a blessing to others. After all if I am true to my faith there is a scripture that tells me how to deal with this “…whatsoever you do to the least of my brother; that you do unto me” – Matthew 25:40. So despite people telling us not to, we still gave some money to some of the people we came across and made eye contact so they knew we saw them as a real person, and I feel that it showed my children that we can help someone else even in such a small way. There is still a question however, as to how to live it in a world that is so defined by stuff and with many that are so consumed by building up their fortunes and adorning their homes with the newest and biggest television that they really only watch and hour a day because they have to work to pay off their debt. Which brings us to look at ourselves in this moment. How do you talk to your children about this stuff and have them take you seriously when you have spent thousands of dollars to travel overseas. I honestly don’t have any answer for that, I really don’t. The only thing I do is continue to behave in a charitable manner, continue to live more simply so we put more value and time into experiencing the life we have, and to be truly grateful for what we have…every meal, every good nights sleep, the roof over our head, the ability to get an education, every thing really.

We did manage to see quite a few things in Rome whilst we were there, it is a city that is full of history so it was great that my girls (and us of course) could see in real life the places they had only read about. I guess all this history throughout Europe is quite fascinating for us because we come from such a newly developed country, and personally I feel that my children have really not been exposed to nearly enough of our own richly indigenous culture back home as I would like them to. Yet another thing that will change at home – there is a list of things we will be embracing in a new way.



The food in this part of Italy is much nicer than what we experienced in Northern Italy…even when we visited the non-touristy places in the outer alleyways – at least that is how we feel. We had our very first great coffee since we had left Australia which was so good we had two and the girls both had one too. The waiter was jovial, fun, waltzed with Mackenzie in the street – it was alot of fun at the end of a really long day. Our BIG beef for this stop however was our choice in Big Bus Tour. All I can say is that if your choose the “I Love Rome” hop on hop off bus, you will want to leave Rome by the end of it. We waited for forever through the mass amounts of the other buses only to get a bus that had no seats left, was dirty, and the operators lighting up cigarettes and blowing the smoke right near the children. Seriously if you are going to Rome and want a tour bus go with City Sightseeing hop on hop off bus – they are more professional, clean, and come regular with adequate seating…we just looked longingly as Mackenzie pronounced “THIS ISNT OUR BUS YET??? ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!!” – clearly she was well and truly over it.


Wow this place is HUGE!!! It was amazing to see a structure that is still so wonderfully preserved. I would love to have been a fly on the wall (instead of a poor slave turned gladiator that had to be in the arena), when this place was alive and bustling. We hired a couple of audio guides to share to help us around and I am really glad we did. Particularly when it was a great tool for getting Mackenzie involved and interested in her own experience of this place, and it served dual purposes to keep her from being impacted by the crowds and noises which really decreased the sensory impact on her. On the one part it was great wandering around the Colosseums inside learning about what all the different structures were and what the process was for what they did here. Many people think that the gladiators were a fight to the death thing, but actually the audience often gave them reprieve out of pity thus many less ended in death than is widely thought of.



Apart from the Colosseum, you can go to the ruins across the road on the same ticket and it is well worth starting your day early (advice I should have taken myself), so that you can do the Colosseum, have lunch, then explore the ruins afterwards. The ruins were so interesting and we far from got round it all, and by this time it was getting late and we really needed to get our tired little munchkins back to the hotel for some dinner and a rest.








Most of our days on this trip have been starting quite late due to the fact my children are both in a state of constant jet lag – aka laziness – and have been horrific to get up and moving in the morning. Miss Rebel Teen has become very disconnected from the early part of every day, and Miss Moo has struggled with the tiredness that over exposure to sensory input causes. That in mind we made it to the Vatican City (not inside because I’m not sure that is possible???), and visited St Peters Basilica, the museum, and the underground area where all the tombs of the popes are. What a sight the Basilica was!





So beautiful and although the pictures in the walls seem like paintings, they were actually intricate mosaics, and would have been quite the project to undertake back in the day and Michelangelo was quite the artist.



The tombs underneath the Basilica are really nothing special apart from the fact that you know there are dead popes down there somewhere and that it is so quite its a little eerie. The museum was quite interesting too with so many of these gold trophy looking things that housed a piece of bone or tooth of someone of stature in the Catholic world who died in it. Quite odd really. We did miss the Sistine Chapel and the Trevi Fountain unfortunately due to time constraints and late-waking children, but really I think the fact we got to go to the Disney Store for Mackenzie and H&M for Lauren more than makes up for it.


We did manage to go to the Spanish Steps whilst we were there, but to be blatantly honest, they were steps…with lots of people sitting on them. Pretty sure I might have missed the importance of these steps, however I did get some really kick-ass tea from the cute tea rooms next to the steps, and I did talk my husband out of buying a rather expensive bag from one of the stores nearby like Prada (only kidding…they were WAY WAY WAY more than either of us would be happy to pay for a handbag!


There is something I have failed to talk about in all my posts about Europe, and that is in regards to food. In all the European places we have been on this trip there really has been only one or two places where allergens are mentioned. We really noticed quite quickly that our vegetarian, wheat and dairy free, organic lifestyle to which we are accustomed to was in no way understood by any of these countries. The thought of us not having meat as part of our meal, and asking for just vegetables, or asking for things without cheese, were met with looks that immediately conveyed the thoughts “holy shit, these people are nuts!”. Seriously…there is not a whole lot of allergy stuff here either and when we were looking for phenergan tablets the pharmacist said to me that there really wasnt a whole lot of need for that in Italy. This makes me really wonder what we are doing wrong in Australia and some of the other highly westernised countries for us to have such a huge industry related to wheat allergies, nut allergies, dairy allergies and the like. Some of it I am sure is because they seem to eat very seasonally, and very local. There are not massive supermarkets here, and the old fashioned green grocer is still very much alive and well, however that didn’t stop us from enjoying the local fare in Europe…like Nutella the size of Mackenzies head, and chocolate, chocolate, chocolate!



Well I best be off and sort out my recap of my favourite place – Sorrento and the Isle of Capri. Although I might just veg out and get through this flight to Greece that has become significantly turbulent. Its likely that I am more miffed about the people who recline their seats back all the way on a cramped short flight, those behind me that may or may not have forgotten to brush their teeth sometime in the last century, and…okay I am not always the best flier but I think I am doing better that I have in previousl\ times. I know I have a big thank you to my hypnotherapist for helping with that…thanks a million Ange x

See you in our next installment…photos will be spectacular!!!


We were so excited to head to Florence – the place Florence Nightingale was born and named after, close to the Leaning Tower of Pisa and in the region of Tuscany (aka wine region). Being the Aussies that we were we decided to just walk the short 900 metre distance to the hotel, after all…’she’ll be right!’ Of course this is Italy and the streets are not a simple pathway like in Australia. I dug my heels in (literally), and we bobbed over the cobbled streets and tiny footpaths all the way to the hotel, in fact I think there is a definite gap in the market for 4WD suitcases for European vacationers, and I will be the first in line to buy them – just take my money lol.

We arrived at our hotel and were warmly greeted once we lugged our suitcases up the stairs to reception. I was already concerned by the clearly dodgy area the hotel appeared to be in and already felt unsafe, when another alarm bell rang for us in that we were required to leave our room key in the pigeon hole when we are out despite the fact that there was no available safe and the pigeon holes were open and within reach of anyone walking through there. The deal breaker for us though was getting into the room – which was quite nice and modern – and greeting the overwhelming smell of bleach. It was so strong and although we tried airing the room out with the one available window and the door to the hallway, nothing was making the smell go away and mummy ended up having an asthma attack and feeling like vomiting. We had to leave immediately, although we were still stuck with the three days of city tax and our already paid for bed and breakfast for three days – they were quite annoyed but meh…our well being comes first.

…and so our Tuscan Timeout Began…..


Lucky we managed to track down a lovely resort in the hills of Tuscany that could take us for the three days, and we jumped in a taxi to get there. Cost was really not a factor by this stage, after all mummy was at the end of her tether with an attitude filled teen and an overwhelmed sensory kid in tow. Hubby and I agreed that a time out away from the hustle and bustle of any city centre was just what we needed to recharge for the rest of our trip.


We arrived at The Florence Hills Luxury Resort amongst grapevines and olive trees, in a very small town called Pelago. The hotel was modern, tastefully decorated, and spacious, which added to us feeling pampered with a breakfast of eggs, (meats…which we don’t eat being vego), fruits, pastrys, and fresh breads….oh and of course nutella! We had our dinner customised to our needs each night and it was mostly quite delicious, with Mackenzie even trying some new things. Our only gripe really was not enough seats and no table on our balcony, very firm mattresses and pillows, not enough bin space for rubbish, and lack of communication about no dinner service for our last night when we had already discussed this on our arrival. To their defence however, they did order in pizza for us and they covered the cost of this to make up for the miscommunication.



The hotel staff organised for us a tour of a local winery and castle which was over 1000 years old. We had a guided tour followed by a wine and cheese tasting accompanied by another couple from Denver USA that were just delightful to spend time with.




The vineyards were beautiful and were also surrounded by olive trees ready for harvest, and the grapes were actually in the middle of being harvested when we arrived, so it was cool for both us and the girls to see this process.


I do believe the Europeans have got something right in how they introduce alcohol to their children, alcohol is not taboo in Italy and children can legally drink at 16 with their parents but are often allowed a taste younger when not out in public. I felt this was the perfect situation to allow my children a controlled taste of alcohol in an appropriate setting with food and family, so Lauren was allowed a proper tasting and Mackenzie was allowed a sip of mine.


Let me say straight up that my kids so far HATE alcohol. They both think wine is the most disgusting thing in the world, so although they appreciated the opportunity to participate with the adults, I don’t think they will be guzzling down the booze anytime soon. Hubby and I both enjoyed it though and although we were not drunk at the end, we were certainly happy so to speak and grateful we had a driver (phew…thought we wouldn’t since there was a taxi strike that afternoon.



The hotel also organised a masseuse to attend for Lauren and I to have a massage on our second day there which was total bliss, and the last day we were there we did absolutely nothing and just watched movies on the laptops all day…again – bliss. We did have a bit of a wander around the town of Pelago on our first day though and found it to be very small, quaint, and the fold certain did not speak english…so we had to wing it to get lunch and buy anything there. It was an old town complete with washing on retractable lines out the windows, a tiny little church, and a very old bell that rang each day. Honestly I’m not a bit disappointed at not getting to the Leaning Tower of Pisa.




Now that we are rested up, its time for us to head off to Rome. Being that it is only a hour and a half train trip I am feeling the sheer speed it is travelling at as we speak – so fast our ears pop the whole way. I must say this whole homeschooling gig with Mackenzie is doing my head in and she only has to do a diary each day and some reading and maths. It is painful and I really do think her teachers deserve a medal for doing so well with her. I do wonder whether it is just worse because of all the sensory input she is having, so I am trying to choose my battles, but I do think the girls are going to be grateful for the everyday routines, mummys vegetable filled food, and early nights again when we get home.



NB…we are told that 2015 is going to be a great year for wine too so keep your taste buds at the ready. (Please note we are always an advocate for the responsible use of alcohol – although it is a legal substance, it can also be a source for addiction, alcoholism, and may impact wellbeing both physically and emotionally – seek help if this impacts you)

Stay tuned – Rome is up next….


(Thanks MAB Adventure Wear for the comfy outfit…best pre holiday buy yet).


Venice…the city of love. Venice…the city of art. Venice…the city of glass. Venice…the city of water. Venice…the city of – – – – – – smells. After a lovely train ride (yes first class again thank you very much – worth it for the comfort and drinks/snack service along the way…especially with kids), we finally arrived in Venezia Island aka Venice. We knew from lots of friends who had visited before, that the city could be a little smelly from time to time depending on the weather, so we were prepared for this to a point. The point we had failed to factor in was how close were were to St Marks Basilica and the square, and what happened when the sewerage backed up and started bubbling up the drainage holes, coupled with some rain. For interests sake, what happened was the square and some of the cobbled walk ways/alleys became somewhat lapping with liquid causing a stench that was spew-worthy. We had originally wondered about the trestle tables stacked up throughout the outer area of the square and had imagined they were for some market they had, however the morning that everything bubbled to the surface we found they were actually walking platforms so people could get across the square and into the church without stepping into the *ahem* water and smelling for the rest of the day. The kids found this kind of cool to see the city *s(t)inking* but Mackenzie was notably overwhelmed by the smells as any sensory kiddo would be.


When initially arrived we took up the offer of a porter to take our bags over all the stairs – it was lovely but we soon realised that he took us the long way around with his special cart and that we could have gotten there with less crowds and little stairs at all…at 35 Euros it was a costly lesson. Our hotel was an old refurbished one right off the Basilica so it was perfectly close, and the decorations were older and quaint making us feel like we were a little more old world. The only down side I guess in being so close to a major tourist site, was the scores of peddlers selling their wares illegally throughout the area…until the Polizia were in sight at which time they scattered. We knew that there may be a bit of rain throughout our three days in the city so the first day we decided to do all the big stuff we wanted to do like Murano and Burano Islands, the Gondolas, and a general wander around.





So we headed off to Murano Island on the boat, excited to see glass making and explore this exciting little island. We stepped off the boat only to be ushered toward a glass making factory by a salesman, but we wised up quickly and broke away to experience our own adventure. We quickly realised which were authentic and which were mass produced items, and stumbled across a cool little shop with onsite produced glass products that we could actually see being made by father and by son. We bought a few lovely little items (Lauren wanted to buy the entire store) and Mackenzie was in awe of the process and outcome. We did find the island a little smell though and couldn’t bear to eat there.




After much walking and searching and different bridges, we finally found the boat to Burano and jumped on board. I’m glad we took the advice of a friend and went to this island to because it was far better than Murano with a definite charm, (less smell), and the most exquisitely coloured buildings you’ve ever seen. All the buildings were painted different vibrant colours that made the entire island come alive. We had a delicious lunch and began to explore the surrounds.







I’m glad I researched the island and found that Burano is known for its lace if you go to the right stores. We went into two stores (one was Emilia and very famous), and we saw the Nannas making the lace right in the store by hand. The laces were exquisite and if only we had more disposable income we could have bought up more. We left Burano and headed back to Venice just in time to do the Gondola experience.




We jumped on a Gondola with all four of us in the one and even though I am still terrified of deep water and the gondolas were rocking violently in the water, I still plucked up the courage to get in with the family. I held my breath right up until e got out of the main waterway and into the little canals. It was simply magical and worthwhile doing, with us being able to see some famous bridges, and the previous homes of Cassanova, Vivaldi, and a famous painter. We went under so many bridges, it is an experience you just have to see to get a feel for.





We didn’t forget to experience art whilst we were there, with Lauren buying a piece of original art and Mackenzie buying a handcrafted mask. We did also manage to see the Rialto Bridge but being that it is currently under renovations, there was not much to see.




Our last day was super wet so we chilled out inside, and the girls chilled and watched a movie so hubby and I could go in search of a laundromat and give the girls and us some much desired clean clothes. This did give us the time to sneak a little lunch and gelato on our own as a couple – laundry and lunch…so romantic lol. We were ready to leave by the time our stay was up, and caught a speedy taxi to the train station to head to Firenze aka Florence – and once we arrived all our plans changed….

…..tune in again for that one!



The town of zermatt


Have you ever wondered why Swiss chocolate taste so darn good? Well after three countries…England, France, and Spain (four if you include our blip two hour stopover in Abu Dhabi on the way), we have arrived in Switzerland and I finally think I have found the answer. My theory as to how the Swiss get their chocolate to taste so good is that oxidisation occurs when oxygen gets to stuff, and Switzerland (at least the parts we went) have much lower oxygen therefore lower oxidisation of their chocolate, right??? Okay so my theory isn’t exactly scientifically proven but I can tell you that the chocolate is amazing – if you come to visit bring lots of money for chocolate.




You should probably bring lots of money for everything really, not just chocolate, if you go to one of the small towns like Zermatt. You wont be able to just wing it in regards to cost here if you want to eat well – there is a McDonalds much to my disgust, but that wasn’t even an option so one of the evenings we bought some stuff and cooked it in our apartment. We were lucky to be upgraded to a larger apartment due to overbooking and the fact we were a family, and all at no extra cost. It was lovely because from our bed we had views of the mountains and from the wrap around balcony we had views of the Matterhorn.





Everything is super expensive here in Zermatt and rightly so since it isn’t exactly the easiest place to transport goods to, particularly with the fact that there are absolutely no cars in Zermatt. The only form of transport in Zermatt is via electric bus or electric taxi, and let me tell you the electric taxi will cost you your pension plan. It does make it quite quaint and quiet (hello…that’s alot of Q’s ha!), with no noisy traffic and everyone walking everywhere….really really slowly. If you live at zero altitude by the ocean you soon realise how thing the air is (lower oxygen concentration) when you begin to exert yourself up hills dragging your luggage, hence why everyone walks slowly. I managed to wrap a scarf around my face though so that the air I breathed in was warmer and thus reduces the effects of the low oxygen. I feel grateful that we only really had to buy one pair of gloves in Zermatt though, because most gloves began at the tidy price of 99 Swiss Francs which is quite expensive in Aussie dollars! It felt quite cold there and we were told by locals that it is worse when it is high humidity because of the moisture in the air, and that during winter when temperatures reach a scary -14 degrees Celsius it is nicer and you don’t have to rug up quite so much.

We had a lovely vegetarian burger for dinner at one of the pubs there on the first night and shared our table with an South African couple that needed somewhere to sit…love hearing other peoples travel stories, and the next morning we planned to go up Klein Matterhorn (which is some ridiculously high altitude compared to the 1600+ metres of Zermatt). When we woke the next morning we were tired, a couple of us had headaches, and I was struggling to breathe, which were sure indicators of altitude sickness. This made our mind up that we should only go to one of the lower mountains and we decided on Gornergrat which is over 3000m high. The trip up was spectacular and we coped with the ascent quite well. It amazed me how many hikers we saw on the way up although they all were walking very slowly and with hiking poles and way more appropriate clothing than us.





At the top both hubby and I were brought to tears in our eyes with gratitude that we were fortunate to experience this amazing thing, and more than that – we were able to bring our girls to experience it too. There was snow everywhere and the Matterhorn stood boldly in front of us as our eyes tried to take in all the breathtaking scenery before us. We did brave a walk down the track a reasonable way and headstrong me thought that would be a great idea. Poor Mackenzie burst into tears and eventually told us it was because there was no snow within reach (much was a walk away to get to), but luckily after a little further we got to some little patches of snow – enough to throw some snow balls at each other! The joy on my kids faces was priceless, and the joy on my husbands face to be able to experience the Swiss Alps warmed my heart. Neither my husband or I have ever travelled overseas before so this trip has been amazing with the things we have seen and done.

We started our walk back up (toilet breaks were in need), and it was then that we realised how hard it was to breathe in this altitude with less that 12 hours conditioning. I in particular really struggled with it, and hubby said he really felt it every time he tried to exert energy (not surprising since he has a low Hb anyway and gets dizzy just standing up sometimes). So it was a very very slow walk back up to the top, enough that I had to stop for a moment and chill out on a rock (which by the way all kind of sparkle in the sunlight like glittering silver, gold, blue and bronze). We eventually got back up and decided we needed to replenish….



Lunch was at Vis a Vis – the restaurant at the top of Gornergrat and we had a delish lunch and dessert with exceptional views of the mountains and snow. We climbed the last little bit to the lookout at the top and spent some time up there just taking in the scenery. Whilst up there Mackenzie turned and said to me “mum, when I grow up I want to be a Rock Artist” – although I thought she was talking about a Rock Music Artist I soon realised that she was in fact talking about art made with rocks when I saw the hand full of little rocks she was carrying. So adorable she created her very own little cave that she was so proud of, and the girls both added to the rock piles that were created by other people, with their own. Laurens was quite impressive until she made one last addition that toppled the whole thing.





We really enjoyed our time in Switzerland and will definitely make a point of spending Christmas there in what will be like a winter wonderland worthy of a Frozen movie set. Although we loved it, Venice was waiting for us and we had to board the train for our five hour trip to get there (thank heavens for first class).

Snow or sand? What do you prefer?


The Rain In Spain Falls Mainly On The – hearts of all the long distance bus drivers!

Okay so this really wasn’t the highlight of our trip that we thought it would be – in fact it was kind of horrific really. In my head I had envisaged this whole awakened feeling of joy seeing the places that people visit on the Camino de Santiago…really got to stop building expectations before the actual event I think. We caught a high speed train from Montparnasse to Irun on the border of France and Spain, and from there we caught a taxi (after much difficulty trying to find one) to the hotel in San Sebastian. Now if we had just stayed in the hotel we would have been absolutely fine because it was super comfortable, beautiful breakfasts, wonderful attentive service…but we decided to explore San Sebastian instead.


San Sebastian is a beautiful backdrop of old buildings and cobble-type streets, mixed with churches, hillsides, beaches and old boating docks. Its very picturesque and worthy of the postcards you by at the touristy stops along the way.


Along the beaches is like a concrete walkway that was under the higher walkway kind of like a tunnel, that had archways along the front – bit hard to explain really. Although the day started out as rainy and miserable, it became quite sunny and warm and it wouldn’t be strange to think it was a bit like Melbourne weather. We enjoyed a lovely walk along the beach and thought it might be nice to go for a swim seeing all the English folk enjoying the water so we went to the waters edge and enjoyed the moment of frostbite as our toes felt the icy waves coming in. No I don’t think we will swim thankyou…





We did love the idea of tapas they have there and after seeing the beautiful church there, we went off in search of a lovely tapas bar to eat at – the spreads put on were beautiful and the social vibes were funky. Sadly though we did not get to enjoy this with most of it being all local seafood and cured meats, so we opted for a lovely little restaurant or two for our meals in San Sebastian. Did I mention that breakfast often was sweets here? The girls thought this was completely awesome! I was craving my raw spinach and vegetables.

After two nights we boarded the bus for Santiago de Compostela. That is when our real nightmare began. The trip we had thought was going to be a nine hour bus trip and we were well planned for that with snacks, water, and activities. It wasn’t til about four hours in that we realised that there may be no stops for meals, and we also found out that it was going to be a twelve hour trip. We tried to ask if we could duck out to a vending machine at one of the stops whilst they loaded up the suitcases but the bus driver stood in the walkway with hands in our face saying no very loudly and rudely. Despite us trying to explain (in Spanish we had translated by a friend) that we had no food for our children because the ticket did not state there would be no stops, the bus drivers still refused to let us off to get food for our kids. It was at this stage that I lost the plot and began crying…the feeling as a mother of not being able to provide food for your child when they are already distressed is a terribly helpless feeling and although it is definitely not the same, I now have a renewed empathy for mothers struggling to feed their children in refugee camps and third world countries. Finally an Aussie (at one of the stops and not even on our bus), saw our distressed and told us to get off now and the bus will come back for us. I cried with sheer relief, and let me tell you I could have kissed the ground when we finally arrived in Santiago.



The accommodation in Santiago was basic, but modern, comfortable, and the service was exceptional. We visited the church and enjoyed the energy of all the pilgrims that had arrived to end their long journey. We met lots of Aussies that had just finished it and they gave tips for our teenager who now wants to do the Camino – that would be the only reason for returning to Spain at this point. The church was beautiful and I wondered for just a moment how a simple building could bring up so many emotions for me when I realised it wasn’t the grandeur of the building, but the grandeur of the millions of tears and prayers that had taken place over many years in this place.



We left Spain much to our excitement and flew to Switzerland – by far my favourite place so far for its beauty….but as always thats for another time…


Have you got a horror story from one of your holidays? Share with me your story.


We all held our breath the way we’ve always done, and as we entered the long tunnel and darkness overcame us like night….we realised that the English Channel was probably a bit long to play that game! I’m not sure what I was expecting going on the Eurostar under the water to Paris, maybe that it would seem like a long time going all that way. In reality though, it was only about half an hour and you barely noticed apart from a few pops of the ears. What a surreal thought to go so far so quickly under a major body water, and it must have been an odd thought because it certainly confused the hell out of Little Miss Macca – who at 8 years old thought it was going to be kind of like an aquarium where you could see through a plexiglass kind of roof to the under water magic kingdom. How sad that I had to dash those dreams when we quickly surfaced from the murky depths with no hello to anyone least a mermaid.

Leaving Australia everyone told me “oh the French are horrible people, they just HATE foreigners!” and “if you don’t speak the language they won’t serve you” and “Paris is a disgusting dirty place with rubbish everywhere”. Clearly many of these people have either never been to Paris or haven’t been there recently, or were so rude themselves that the French just served it back at them, because Paris was lovely. Sure every country has its thing and Paris was no different to the rest of the world, we even came across a few arrogant people particularly in Versailles, but for the most part the French were lovely to us. If I could change one thing it would be the copious amounts of cigarettes people are smoking – seriously it would be interesting to see what there rates of emphysema and lung cancer is – I’m going to need to be hooked up with a long supply of nicotine patches when I get home…as are my husband and tobacco chewing kids lol.

This is Mackenzie dealing with the overwhelm of Paris with too many noises, smells and sensory input…SPD and APD at its finest…


Side note: I’m also going to need to hit the veges hard when I get home – seems the diet here is bread, cheese, bread, chocolate, pastry, bread, cheese, bread, oh and did I mention chocolate? Lets just say that our insides were not very happy with us when we ate out. That’s not to say the food wasn’t amazing because by goodness the baguettes with beautiful fresh French cheeses in it were really worth it.

The day we arrived we did get very, very lost trying to find our AirBNB apartment in Montparnasse but eventually we figured out the metro system and felt quite safe at any time of the day all over Paris. I must say that our first ever AirBNB experience was amazing with a cute 4th floor 2 bedroom apartment with wrap around terrace that opened up over some of the area (as opposed to another building), was amazing and our host made sure our stay was great and kept in contact with us whenever we needed it. We arrived to find yummy little local foods, a bottle of wine, cheese, and cool local details. We would do Air BNB again for sure and we will certainly be staying at this one again, and again, and again!

Side note: We visited a place called Flams just near the bottom of our apartment and had a Flam…. They were delicious and had vegetarian options, which was welcomed after a long day out exploring. They are a little like pizza but made on a type of flat bread kind of thing.

The metro system was sensational at getting us to all the sights we wanted to see and there were lots of them. The only downside was the immense noise and speed at which these old trains (although some have tyres!!!) run at, only because of the distress it causes my little sensory kiddo. We saw so many touristy sights but also just wandered around the little alley way streets too…which is the best way to find the more authentic restaurants.

NOTRE DAME – Oh my goodness this place is amazing, with its stained glass windows, gigantic splendour, and indescribable beauty, I was brought to tears when I walked inside. We arrived at just the right time to sit and take in an afternoon service with angelic singing and the opportunities along the outer area for the children to light a candle and say a prayer. Although we had arrived too late in the day to climb the towers we were not disappointed with our experience. We had also gone under into the crypt to see the understones, and dug up remains of another time…simply amazing.

THE LOUVRE – Another tear jerker for me since I have been dreaming about visiting the Louvre for quite some time. It was late in the day also for this place but we do have two children that have forgotten how amazing it is to get up in the morning and utilise the whole day (that and they have been so tired with the sun going down so late in the evening – around 830 or later). As we enter we realise how huge this place is (and yes it does remind you of the Da Vinci Code with the glass pyramid), and its exciting to be able to experience this. Lucky for us that we did come late because it was significantly easy to see all the greats we wanted to see without having to have a smack down with the crowds to get through. We saw the Mona Lisa and Mackenzie was shocked at the whole moving eyes thing, along with Aphrodite, and the Kiss of Love. We did have a few giggles whilst we were there, with Macca grossly disgusted at all the “boys bits” on show on the statues, Lauren and Hubby posing like some of the statues, and us losing Kevin somewhere leading up to the Egyptian section right on closing time. This left Mackenzie, Lauren and I running through the Louvre like a pack of frantic tourists screaming out “Kevin” and me madly snapping pictures as I’m running, of cool things along the way. Seriously – Griswalds eat your heart out!



MONTPARNASSE TOWER – What is called the Tour Montparnasse, this massive building is spectacular at night time from the top. With glass surrounds, you can have a 360 degree view of all of Paris. Although it gets a little windy at times you can warm up with a nice glass of red and take in the twinkling lights of all the major places in Paris and everything in between.

ARC DE TRIOMPHE – This was a lovely place to visit and impressed even the kids, despite the six million stairs to get to the top! We could see most of Paris from up here and to see the traffic around this centre was hilarious…like watching ants scattered by water – they all have somewhere to go but its every one for themselves. Hence there is ALOT of beeping horns and yelling.

The stairs inside the Arc deTriomphe…by this stage stairs were met with a groan!


PALACE VERSAILLES – To be honest, someone needs to sprinkle some joy glitter all over some of the people in Versailles. Although the palace has some exquisite pieces of art, exquisite beauty in the palace, and extensive manicured gardens, nothing can gloss over the sheer rudeness and unwillingness to help. Mackenzie by this stage was an emotional mess and being such a warm day we needed to catch a taxi back to the train station and despite her being in tears and us begging the taxi driver, they refused in the most rude way saying they will only take people back to central Paris. I did get quite shirty however and the driver at the very back of the line agreed at double the regular fare for that distance much to the disgruntled reaction from the other drivers. Honestly I have no kind words to say about those people (there were more), so I will leave it at that.


MOULIN ROUGE – Oh wow! This is certainly worth the cost of going and it is worth having the meal and show, although I do recommend that you do the first show of the night as there will be less waiting. They do pack you in like sardines but it is worth going. I’m fairly sure that Mackenzie was the only young child there and they do allow children over 7 years old to go. Mackenzie is a bit prudish and gets very embarrassed at bums and boobs, so I was shocked that she coped so well and only had one significant reaction covering her eyes at the start of the show…after that the glam, the bling, and the artistic talent distracted you from the boobs and butts when they were showing. The dancers are so athletic and skilled, with a definite grace…I was in awe! I was disappointed at their parading of little miniature ponies across the stage though as were my girls – they are talented enough without the need for animals, and its an issue that the girls and I will address in positive way. All in all though – spectacular!


THE EIFFEL TOWER – This made all of us have a tear form in our eyes (or in the case of Lauren and I – rivers of sobbing) at the sheer beauty of this place, despite the fact it is a tower of metal. Every hour at night time it is covered with a display of sparkling lights that impress even in the presence of people selling stuff (that is until the police come and they scatter). I was blessed to have my sister in law and her children come to visit us for the weekend in Paris and we all went up…even brought nerves to me and Macca. Some went to the second level, and some of us went to the very top. It was spectacular seeing Paris from the top of this massive structure, but even though I am getting pretty good with heights even I had a few butterflies heading up not to mention my poor sister in law Emma who hates heights (she got all the way to the second level). It is definitely a sight to see.




This is quite a magical place, particularly for kids. For me, I wasn’t that excited when I walked through the gate, but the reaction of my kids were worth it and certainly made my day. Lots of different lands to explore, okay so the massive adult sized Robinson Crusoes Treehouse was kind of cool, along with the Mad Hatters Tea Cup ride – that thing was awesome. The kids really enjoyed it and you definitely need more than one day for it too. My big suggestion is that you should arrive significantly early to get a spot for the parade and for the light show in order to see it – when you spend thousands of dollars to go to see it and end up seeing only a slither of either you can feel a little disappointed. The girls really missed out on the parade because we underestimated how busy the roadside would be (way worse than Movieworld), and I had to put my “don’t mess with this mamma because my kids aren’t going to miss out because you want to push in front” face on and even had to give another parent a serve for trying at the Dreams Show at the end of the night (be warned there are ALOT of horrible adults that will physically shove your kid out of the way and not give a second thought to any injuries they may cause to yours or anyone elses child – sad but true). It was worth staking our claim early and digging in til the show. I had tears as I watched the Disney Castle come to life and the reaction of the girls was equally amazing. If you do want some quiet crowd free time though ensure you stay at one of the Disney hotels as this gets you early entry into both the park and lots of areas, before the general public and you wont have to worry about getting transport back to Paris late at night.





One of the saddest things I had to do in Paris was say goodbye to my family…my beautiful sister in law had brought the children over for the weekend to see us and I have to say I’m not entirely sure how I will go another long span without seeing them. We love them so dearly and I should say we are now planning to move to England to work for a year…as a nurse this shouldn’t be too difficult to do.



So after a long day at Disney we woke early the next day to set off for our next adventure in Spain…and thats a tale in itself so I will leave it for another post.

Have you been to Paris? What about Disney Paris? Favourite ride?


Sooo…I guess you think my trip must have been cancelled since I haven’t done a post since I had spoken about our overseas adventure. I promised that I would write and share all my family’s adventures throughout England, France, Spain, Switzerland, Italy, and Greece. I promised I would share photos, and stories, and anecdotes about this entire journey. Yet here I am already two weeks into our trip and almost in our third country – Spain – with not one hint of sharing this amazing journey. That is until now.

There are a few reasons I have been slacking off sharing this with you all until now, and although one reason could very well be that there has been little time – at least in Paris – that there hasn’t been at least a pastry, a baguette, some chocolate, or some wine gracing one of the hands I use to type with, or I’ve been climbing up and down the five billion stairs both England and Paris seem to have to prevent their decadent, rich foods from making them all obese diabetics.

So I think I should catch you all up on the story so far. We flew out of the Sunshine Coast (Australia) on Monday September 1st to Melbourne, where we were meant to all fly to London via Abu Dhabi, notice the word ‘meant’ thrown in there. This was Little Miss 8 Mackenzie’s first ever flight anywhere and although we planned well with chewing gum, water, the usual mechanisms to help ears – we began descending whilst Macca began screaming and crying. Nobody could console my poor little munchkin – not even the experienced flight attendants could do anything for her – and although we thought it would pass, we were quickly told by the airport doctor that Mackenzie did not have clearance to fly and was being grounded for a minimum of three days. When we realised that Lauren and I would have to go ahead (because I was already a nervous wreck about getting in the plane – so building up again for three days would have been the end of me), my heart ended up in my throat and all I could do was cry at the terminal saying goodbye to my husband and my baby as Miss Teen Rebel Lauren and I boarded the plane.

I didn’t think my claustrophobia was quite that bad until we get seated for a long haul (14hr) flight and realise that our domestic seats where roomier. We flew Etihad and although I felt trapped with swollen legs the entire time having to excuse myself to walk the aisles and stretch when the feeling became unbearable, the service was impeccable and they kept us sedated with lovely meals and snacks frequently, with on demand television and movies, and a flight tracker (so you know your plane is going where its meant to I guess). Lauren and I changed planes at Abu Dhabi and boy was it a culture shock with so many different cultures in the one place and things being done so differently, it was a little daunting. The one thing we thought was awesome (being the clean freaks we are), was that the toilets were constantly staffed and being cleaned after every use! AFTER EVERY USE! The flight from Abu Dhabi however was just exceptional seeing us get seats that were near the exit and no one in front of us so leg room – hello! On top of that they buggered up my lunch order so I ended up with eggs and spinach made especially by the first class chef….mmmmmm.



My sister in law Emma (aka – my new best friend as dubbed by my tosser brother cranky we wouldn’t be coming to see his sorry butt – okay rant over), picked us up at Heathrow and even though we had only been skyping and messaging between us for the past 10+ years, it was like we had known each other forever. Although sad the rest of us were not there, we had a great time having dinner with friends out (oh my they don’t know what a lemon lime and bitters is!), and having a beautiful day in London. I did manage to drive in England and I now know how people drive in Europe – the idea is ‘pretend there is no one else on the roads, and drive where ever and however the hell you like’ – CONGRATULATIONS…YOU ARE NOW A EUROPEAN DRIVER!!! Yes, I too have learnt how to be a crazy European driver!


It was great with hubby arriving with our baby girl, and we went straight to Harry Potter Studios. Oh wow that place is amazing with all the original stage sets and some of the actual set designers there when we went. The kids all had a go at wand lessons and we all went on the Hogwarts Train. Yes we all got our very own wand with the Aunties buying the nieces and nephew their own wand of choice. During our time in England we managed to see the beautiful Stonehenge, Dover Castle complete with the creepily cold underground tunnels and LOTS OF STAIRS in the castle, Changing of The Guards, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Florence Nightingale Museum, Westminster Abbey, and…..DISNEY SHOP ON OXFORD STREET – busy busy shopping district and definitely a place Lauren wanted to spend days at. We experienced the very noisy and fast paced underground, and got to travel in both a black London Cab and a red double decker bus. The most rewarding thing about England though was the time we got with my beautiful sister in law and my nieces and nephew (unfortunately I missed meeting my other sister in law and nephew but that will be for next time when we are there longer). I got to do the Aunty thing and spoil them, annoy them, read them a book, take them to school, take a million photos, and be super super distressed when we had to say goodbye last week when we boarded the Eurostar to head to Paris for a week. But that is for another post….


What was your experience of England?


“Leaving On A Jet Plane” – I bet you are singing that song now aren’t you? You’re welcome! Lots to catch up on and lots happening so read through and find out what our next adventure is!!!

Tolkien has a few pretty great quotes that resonate with me but one that currently stands out with me is “not all who wander are lost“. I have been somewhat lost over the past few months (about 5 to be pedantic, since I last wrote), and I have felt every second of it, my soul longing to write but unable to drag the words needed to the surface and out onto the keyboard. You may remember that I had resigned from aged care nursing and jumped ever so boldly back into acute nursing in the hospital system, and it was from that point that my writing took a bit of a vacation. Despite me feeling a little lost at the time, I know now that it was merely a case of me wandering from writing, and writing wandering from me – nothing is ever truly lost.

My wandering from everything I knew previously has taken me on such an adventure that seems almost too amazing to be real. Lets be honest though, it’s not all been sweet dreams, some of it has been really tough. As a family we have faced some difficult decisions. My husband and I went through a really rocky time and had some time apart so to speak (although in the same house we slept in separate rooms to get some space and clarity). Mostly it was related to unresolved issues with family members that has been simmering and bubbling for quite some time, but the time each doing our own thing allowed us the space to grow individually and allowed my husband to find the man he is without trying to be everything for everyone else. I do believe everyone deserves the right to be heard and not shot down for having feelings. He had finally found his voice, and although it was great for him to finally stand his own ground, I certain there were a few shocked people at the receiving end. Now our relationship is far stronger than ever and I love my husband even more for having his own voice. He has even decided to do a reiki course!

My new job has been fantastic and I’ve really grown there both personally and professionally, the transition has been far less scary than I had thought and I have now begun my Renal Nursing Training and loving it. I never thought that renal nursing could teach me so much about every other area of nursing! I’ve also faced and over come some bullying – one of my biggest emotional issues over the past little while too which has empowered me to continue breaking through and facing those yucky emotional hurdles that rear their ugly little heads in our lives. I’ve really been looking after my own emotional and spiritual wellbeing so my physical wellbeing has taken a backseat due to sheer overwhelm, but I do believe that if you don’t deal with the internal stuff, the external stuff suffers. I’m taking one step at a time.

The two girls are doing pretty well despite the few challenges we’ve had with them. Miss Teen Rebel is a champion at managing her cardiac stuff , and Little Miss Macca has started the program to help with her CAPD. We are enjoying living near the beach after moving into a house just one street away. We do have a bit of exciting news though.

In a mere 26 days, the Pluck family are off on a European Vay-Cay!!! Hubby has retired (still works one day a week as allowed), and we are taking the opportunity to travel and make memories whilst we have the time and hubby’s health is still okay. We only have today, no one is guaranteed a tomorrow so live now.

So stay tuned for our European travel blogs…lots of interesting stuff. Videos. Photos. Wellness. And my attempt at homeschooling two very different kids whilst we are away!

Tell me…where are you in the world and if you could go anywhere where would it be and why?


Wouldn’t life be easy if we could just say ‘fuck it’, and do shit anyway? After all, doesn’t the greatest happenings in life occur when we throw caution to the wind, give fear the bird, and step courageously into the infinite possibilities that are before us? What can you see when you look at the could haves, the could bes, and the could dos in life, if only you had grappled and taken hold of the mere 30 seconds of guts it takes to say ‘fuck it’?


I guess I’m asking these questions mostly of myself recently for so many reasons. Like so many of us women heading over to the latter side of their 30’s, we are for the first time really able to define exactly who we are and what we want out of life (although in saying that I can remember back in my 20’s thinking I had all it all figured out too so I might be eating my own words in my next decade here!). One thing I do know is that since becoming a mother, my life is not just about me anymore but about the two beautiful daughters I have been honoured with and as such this means that I must be that guiding light for them to follow. Woah! Big job, big shoes – size 11 in fact!
Asking these questions of myself has prompted me to get jiggy with the realities of life, and has made me challenge every belief, every value, and every action I have taken and will take in the future. I’m cool with that though because “if it doesn’t challenge you it doesn’t change you” – and deep down we all really want life to change and be exciting (could you imagine watching the same episode of a show over and over again? Think that song at the start of the movie Groundhog Day…annoying right?).

So I am learning a lot about Que Sera, and learning a lot about saying what will be, will be. I am learning the value of being guided by creating life rather than being fearful of it, including learning from situations that previously have all but paralysed me emotionally resulting in some significant collateral damage that could have been avoided with using a different tact. Understand that I don’t regret even one of my decisions along the way because they were right for me at those times in those situations.

Que Sera is not about frivolity for me though, I won’t be doing a vegas trip, joining a commune, or jumping out of a plane with no parachute. Que Sera for me has come with a healthy dose of self reflection. Talk about mirror mirror – but that’s for another time. How about some self disclosure of exactly how I have been practising the art of Que Sera lately.




For the past four years since moving to the Sunshine Coast we have lived in a 2.5 bedroom unit. Sounds alright except it wasn’t until after we had moved in that we found out that in fact it was designed mostly for over 50’s – wonder if the other younger families also didn’t realise that until it was too late! We accepted however that the situation was right for us for a short time and made the most of it, next you know four years has flown by and our kids are outgrowing such a small place. So we put in our notice and put all our belongings into storage whilst we house sat for 4 weeks for a friend and colleague of mine (again that whole adventure is for another time), on over 9 acres of beautiful land.


That part of the adventure is up now and we are winging it in a holiday unit 20 seconds walk from Sunshine Coasts Moololaba Beach – tough life huh – but we are now without a permanent home until the right one is presented to us.


Admittedly it has taught us how to live without excessive amounts of ‘stuff’, and the girls and us have coped quite well.


After 4 years in aged care nursing I knew that my time was up when I felt like crying every shift, which was insane because I loved what I did, worked for an amazing company, achieved great things, and had beautiful colleagues and clients. However the masses of government budget cuts and policy changes meant we were doing more work in an already stretched day and it took its toll on myself and my family…and when my then 7 year old daughter said mummy we miss you because you are always working (even at home), I knew that it was time to leave and go back into acute nursing. Im loving it really and was blessed to get a position in an amazing hospital – I am supported, appreciated, cherished, and encouraged to pursue my dreams. Im happy and loving the challenges.



I haven’t always wanted to be a nurse. When I was young I wanted to be an author, and I was so good at writing that I got to go to specialist camps and won awards at school…then life happened. I am back on track with it though and am now in the process of writing a book…a nursing book along the lines of 50 shades of poop (kidding). I have had this vision for this book for nurses for quite some time and was given a voucher from my beautiful husband and children, for a 1 on 1 session with an author coach Alex Mitchell. I have had it (it was more enlightening and wonderful than I had expected), and am so excited for what comes next – stay tuned!


So now I am getting what I look for (read E2 and you will understand), and I am determined to see my life fulfilling, real and raw, connected, and worthy of a legacy I want to leave my children. I can guarantee it wont be all bunny rabbits and chocolate fondue but I do know this to be true –