London · Out and About · The Kidlets · United Kingdom

This is what happens…

…when a naughty food blogger decides to go to the free wine tasting BEFORE taking photos of all the yummy gourmet food samples at the Foodies Festival!  Double oops!

It’s entirely possible that sticking around after the wine tasting to listen to the Hendrick’s Gin guy taking us through the history of Gin and then consuming a number of free cocktails (they were delish! I’m definitely going to try Gin next time we’re making cocktails at home) contributed to my memory card being chocka block with blurry photos of feet and trees.

Anywho!  The Foodies Festival at Battersea Park was a pretty awesome day out with loads of food to try (and buy) and free cooking and drinks demonstrations throughout the day.  I’m not going to lie, there aren’t a lot of photos of the actual food here but this fascinating display of me having a jolly good time eating and drinking whilst my children laugh both with me and at me is almost as good, right?

Our adventure began with a sunny walk along the Thames Path headed towards Battersea Park.

We tried a LOT of food today.  Almost all of it was yummy.  These infused Olive Oil’s were no exception and they had gorgeous humus dips spread out to Master 11’s right.  Naturally there are no photos of it.  We did buy a jar of their Harissa to pour over humus at home, it was that good…nom nom nom…

The stand out food of the day was hands down the Cornish Oysters.  I love Oysters so it wasn’t a huge leap for me but Mitch has never been a huge fan (he’ll eat them if he’s at a Seafood Buffet but would never order them) and he was blown away by these oysters too.  There weren’t any free samples (for obvious reasons) but we were more than happy to part with £1.50 a pop for these babies.

Continue reading “This is what happens…”

London · To Move · United Kingdom

Watching Greco Roman Wrestling: It Requires a Level of Maturity I Don’t Posess

Greco-Roman Wrestling was my favourite event we watched at the London Excel Centre.  We saw Fencing a few days earlier which was a great experience especially with it being a sport Master 11 and Master 8 both do and have an interest in.  Watching Fencing was great but I’m not a classy kinda gal so the Wrestling won me over.  Give me sweaty, muscle-bound men wrestling each other to determine who’s the buffest over delicate, lean (and very talented) fencers any day!

Before watching this at the Olympics I had never seen Greco-Roman Wrestling live or on t.v so it was a whole new experience for me.  We worked the rules out as we went along and by the end of the afternoon I think we had most of the rules down.

Each match was quick and action packed and with all three weight ranges competing at the same time there was something for every one to see no matter how nose-bleed worthy your seats were (hello me!  we got cheap kids tickets to this event, paying a pound for every year old they were (£11, £8 and £6) so we were the third row from the back).

Greco Roman Wrestling Olympics London 2012

Greco Roman Wrestling Olympics London 2012 Continue reading “Watching Greco Roman Wrestling: It Requires a Level of Maturity I Don’t Posess”

London · Move Over · United Kingdom

Death Stares From Your Children…

…happen when you lump them in a large crowd beside the Thames and then break the news to them that we’ll be waiting 2 hours.  A tedious 2 hour wait for the chance to see the Queen and the Royal Family heading down the Thames in the flotilla celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee!

The boats in front of us were filled with lucky people (slightly richer people?) who had paid for a much better view.  We were happy with our free view amongst the crowd.  Sure I hate crowds almost as much as seeing the number on the scale go up instead of down but the atmosphere was kinda fun.  Crazy peeps dressed in Red, White and Blue donning flags and funny masks of the royal family whilst boozing it up in the rain.  How much more British can you get?

All in all it was a great experience.  Yes we would have seen more in front of our t.v screen but it felt like we were part of something standing out in the rain with thousands of other eager onlookers!

There was however one down side and it came in the form of a middle-aged woman.  Skip this next bit if you like, it’s purely a bit of after-the-fact venting!

First, take note of the woman behind Master 11 with her feet shoved right in between his feet (brown shoes, grey and pink striped pants) and her raised knee (I didn’t notice this at the time).

…now take a look at how much space she had behind her to “take a step back”.  The only thing behind her is an older gentlemen’s camera case (minus his camera).

…and let me tell you, in the crowds along the river bank yesterday she was one of the few who could move in any direction other than with the ebb and flow of the crowd.

This middle-aged woman continued to berate out kids for “leaning on her”.  On and on she went every 15 minutes making another snide remark at Master 11 and Master 8 telling them to, “stand on their own two feet” or “stop putting all your weight on me” or “stand up straight will you!”.

At first I gave her the benefit of the doubt and told them to stand up straight and lean on the wall.  I know my kids are used to leaning on me so it might have just been force of habit leaning on an adult behind them.

…as time wore on (we waited 2 hours) I started to notice that the kids space was getting smaller and smaller and the space between myself and her and Mitch and her (we switched places about an hour in so I was in front of him) was growing larger and larger…

I did mention loudly that the kids space was getting smaller and smaller to Mitch during one of her requests for them to, “stand up straight”.  I did however once again gently remind the kids to lean forward on the wall and not lean backwards.

When the flotilla had reached our part of the river and she had her camera out she had begun inching forward even further.  Then she made a big error in judgement and she complained to me, as though I would be on board ready to give my kids an earful right along with her.

As you can imagine after standing on my feet for 2 hours, trying to keep 3 kids from moaning too loudly, poking each other with their flags or wriggling terribly much my patience was hanging by a thread.

I took a deep breath not wanting to make a scene whilst trapped beside this woman with a large crowd all around us.  I gave her a stern talking to about her being welcome to take a step back instead of crowding my kids in further and further by the minute, Mitch jumped in with a few helpful tips, “we’re all squashed” and “if it’s not your cup of tea maybe watch on the telly next time?”.  I don’t think she got the response she was hoping for.

When faced with the likes of two grown adults she was too cowardly to continue and became all of a sudden very, very quiet.

We watched for a little while longer and then made our way out of the crowd for a pretty wet and sludgy, but gloriously un-crowded walk home.

I began to have a laugh with Master 11 about how unlucky he was to have had such a moaner behind him, and then he began to fill us in on the whole story.

Not only had this woman been nudging up closer and closer to the front but she had actually put her feet between his and begun kneeing him in the back and poking him with her knuckles.

Yes, you read that correctly!  A grown woman kneeing, poking and using her greater height and strength up against an 11-year old boy who was trying not to squash his 8-year-old brother.

I wish he had told me whilst it was happening or had cried out telling her to stop hurting him.  I saw him holding his ground and complaining he had to put his knee up on the wall in front of him to stop himself being shoved against the wall but I had no idea this vicious woman was childishly trying to over power him to make him move out the way.  Master 11 had just tried to stand his ground and protect his brother.

Master 8 and Master 11 then went on to explain how the whole drama had begun, not long after we arrived.  A different woman had been up against the wall at the front of the crowd and had decided to leave once the rain started to fall (can’t blame her).  She had seen our children (clearly at a disadvantage being too short to see) and had told them they could take her spot.  As this lovely woman moved out of her spot the horrid woman moved forward to take the empty spot.  Our kids got there first, after being told by the lovely woman that they could stand there they didn’t hesitate (they didn’t shove mind you, they were nearest to the spot and didn’t even consider that it was a race between them and another woman).  Clearly this horrid woman had felt herself robbed of a better viewpoint and from that moment on decided to try and muscle the kids out through silently using force.

I think perhaps she thought that if she demonized our kids for “leaning on her” that I would move my kids out of the way and let her take the spot she felt was rightfully her’s.  Or perhaps she thought they might cry and feel bad and leave of their own accord.  Maybe she’s so childish she didn’t know what her own motives were other than being steaming mad and needing to lash out at some one.

I was so disgusted once I heard this and was tempted to walk back and speak with her, if only to make it clear that I knew what she’d been doing and to tell her to grow the heck up. Unfortunately I don’t think it would have done any good and the crowd was pretty thick behind us.  I guess if you can make it to your 50’s without growing-up then a peeved mother giving you a piece of her mind probably isn’t going to make any difference.

I can’t believe I was so blind to what was actually happening to my kiddo’s.  If Mitch and I hadn’t been behind this woman holding off the rest of the crowd then she would have quite happily allowed our kids to be squashed right up against that wall.  All for a better view and a few photos?    You can see from our photos that I could barely see a thing (being quite short and with a man taller than I in front of me) but there’s no point being so vicious, especially when it’s directed at children.

…Vent Over!

There wasn’t a hope of us being able to see the Queen from this distance without some heavy duty binoculars but just knowing she was just over there and we were all cheering and celebrating together was enough for me.

Happy Snaps Diamond Jubilee Flotilla Tower Bridge

How have you celebrated the Diamond Jubilee long weekend (even with the frequent down-pours and slightly muddy surroundings)?

Australia · Move Over · The Kidlets · United Kingdom

So When Will You Move Back to Australia?

We used to get this question a lot when we lived further North.  Most people in our little English village couldn’t comprehend why we would choose their damp (and gorgeously lush and green) little village over living an hour away from a beautiful sandy beach in Australia.

In London we don’t get this question very often.  London is after all crawling with expat’s.  Here in our building alone we have an Aussie living in the flat above us, a Russian couple below us, a French woman across the hall, a Japanese family in the building next to ours and a variety of accents I can’t always pick can be heard climbing the stairs each morning.  I have to giggle at Brisbane spouting it’s “Multiculturalism” now that I know better.  During Black History Month last year each of the boys classes at school got the children to share where their family hails from.  Master 5’s class alone has children from France, Australia, South Africa, Hungary, Hong Kong and Jamaica.  Walk the streets of London for a day and then try and tell me sleepy Brisbane is really Multicultural.

Back to the point of this post.  Recently I’ve started to question my lack of loyalty to my home country.  Is there’s something a little off about me that I have zero desire to move back to Australia?  Have I got a few screws loose?  Where’s my national pride, feelings of nostalgia and any sense of loyalty to my homeland?

Yes I’m the kind of person who pictures climate change as impending doom.  My desire to get a British Passport is greatly influenced by how it opens up all of the U.K and Europe to our family so that if the crazy weather in Australia continues to worsen in years to come we will always have somewhere to live that is hopefully safe.  I don’t think that’s the reason.  Concerns about climate change are only a part of my disloyalty to Australia.

When I moved to the U.K my eyes were opened to how repressed I was living in Australia.  When you move away from family influences (as awesome as your family may be) , from the sights and sounds of your entire life from childhood to now, something changes.  When you get away from facts of life that were so integral to daily life that you didn’t even notice they existed you start to reassess yourself and your environment.  You can’t get perspective when all your friends, colleagues and family share the same kinds of views.  When conversations are always along similar lines and skewed by a shared history and belief system.

True perspective is hard to achieve without travelling and experiencing a whole new environment.

Despite how much easier life would be with family around to support us in raising our children I would not consider moving back to Australia.  The bottom line for me is that with my new found perspective I will not willingly raise my kids in a nation that is so driven by religion and prejudice.  I will not raise my children in a fascist country where our government believes its people need to be coddled and have their freedom stripped away under the guise of protecting the children and maintaining society’s moral compass.  A country that will stand by whilst the government makes plans to censor our Internet.  A nation where we sit back and occasionally having a grumble in the privacy of our own homes but do nothing to stand up for our rights.  A nation that allows homophobic ad campaigns such as these…

Click the above image for the back story.

The last three images are from a Christian activist running a Queensland Election Prayer Rally Tour.

All this homophobic propaganda distributed under the guise of protecting children and maintaining what religion deems a family should be.  There are intolerant people everywhere but when your political parties are bullied by these people there is something oh so very wrong.

I once sat in a church congregation and had a member of Family’s First (a christian political party) briefly speak in front of us during a church service.  I’ve heard on another occasion the pastor of the church during a sermon mention that god had spoken to him about the coming election.  He spoke of an impending fork in the road,  “If this political party wins then great things will happen in Jesus’s name, if the other is elected then dark times lie ahead for us all“.  I was 18 years old at the time having grown up in a christian family and was attending  Brisbane’s version of a Mega Church (a Hillsong wannabe).  Even as part of that church something about the pastor feeling compelled to share this revelation that huge church full of eagerly listening Christian voters felt a little off.  Wasn’t this church?  What’s with this political crap?

How can I conscience free raise my children in a country where their freedom only exists if a 2000 year old book deems it okay?  Where does the church’s interference in our lives begin and end?  The stereotype of Aussie’s being “laid-back” is spot on.  Unfortunately that laid back nature applies to laying down and letting the churches trample all over our freedom.  For the most part unless you are the minority being oppressed OR someone charismatic at church has compelled you to act then Aussie’s just sit back and relax.  “She’ll be right, mate!”.

Indifferent and lazy, that’s what we are.  I’m as guilty as the next Australian.  Nothing bad has ever happened so it never will, right?  The same goes for climate change.  Floods? Tropical Cyclone’s that wipe out towns and crops?  pfft…the big ones were over a year ago and nothing bad is happening right now so clearly we’re in the clear.  Pollute away my friends.

The U.K is not perfect but at least their politicians are expected to keep religion out of the equation when making decisions.  I also surprisingly found in the move here that despite the stereotype that the English are prudes, compared to Australians they are actually far more liberated when it comes to sex and their bodies.  They are far less ashamed about nudity and discussing sex.

Just watch a bit of telly over here and it becomes blatantly obvious how repressed Australians are by comparison.  Here in the U.K contextual nudity (i.e medical programs) on free to air channels are a regular thing.  Check out in particular the Embarrassing Bodies series.  People willingly having their bits examined by a doctor whilst being filmed is just normal and deemed educational.  Watching a middle-aged man having his haemaroids examined was a little off-putting but he wasn’t ashamed of his body.  As a woman who has had three kids I’ve been there, done that and can completely sympathise with the man.  Our bodies aren’t always pretty but they are still ours and nothing to be ashamed of.  We all have embarrassing medical conditions at some point in our lives and dropping our pants and being examined by a doctor is sometimes part of life.  Educating the general public without hang ups about nudity being outright inappropriate is a wonderful thing.  I know embarrassing bodies is aired late at night in Australia but I dare say making an Australian version of it would never be on the cards.  The Christian Lobby Groups would probably be up in arms at how inappropriate Australians being filmed uncensored whilst being examined is.  They’d particularly object to the ones where the doctor’s examine teen’s who think they may have an STD or have questions about sex.  Sure teens are having sex but the churches stance is that it is wrong, let’s not encourage pre-marital sex by actually talking to teens openly about their bodies, sex, contraception and getting tested for STD’s openly on television.

From personal experience, I think of all those hours wasted being told over and over not to have pre-marital sex and it makes me a little angry but mostly amused.  What a wasted opportunity for those teachers to talk honestly and openly to a room full of teens who were clearly either already having or soon to be having sex.  Yes, it was a christian school so a lone few did wait until they were married but they were the minority not the norm even in a closed community like my high school.  Why were there never any discussions about self respect and self esteem during those sex talks?  You really want to stop a teenage girl sleeping around?  Give her an alternative view point, build up her self-esteem and tell her that sex isn’t the only way to make yourself feel wanted and beautiful.  Teach teens that sex can be a wonderful thing if you are doing it for the right reasons and an ugly thing that will haunt you if not.  You would think these Christian teachers and youth leaders had never been teens themselves and hadn’t had a good lay in years (probably hit the nail on the head there).

That brings me to another hang up I have with my upbringing in Australia.  The shame about our bodies.  It turns out Aussies are prude’s about nudity and sex and I think it comes mainly down to religion.

Generations of Australians teaching their children to be ashamed of their bodies, teaching them that sex is a dirty little secret and to repress their needs and urges or else they’ll be judged and found evil and wrong.  Most importantly generations of Australians have been teaching their kids that homosexuality is wrong and unnatural.  I know there are wonderful parents out there that teach their kids about the real world but I feel like mainstream media in Australia shelters our kids and sweeps uncomfortable topics under the rug.  Why is sharing information and knowledge with our children considered so wrong by religion?  You are perfectly comfortable telling a child that homosexuality is an abomination but having homosexuality taught as a factual part of sex-ed offends you?

Programs about sex are on a bit later at night here but are still ever present and completely open and honest.  Boobs, bottoms, vagina’s and penis’ openly on display but lo and behold it’s NOT PORN.  I honestly think religion has skewed our views of nudity to the point where nakedness automatically must equal sex.  These programs have normal (i.e non porn star) people and professional’s talking openly about their sex lives.  It’s refreshing and liberating to see people so unashamed of their bodies and sex lives.  These people aren’t perfectly proportioned porn stars, they are real people with wobbly bits, stretch marks and average sized penises.

This obviously isn’t just a few television programs it is part of the culture.  At the gym in the U.K people strip out of their gym clothes, shower and get dressed out in the open (not everyone but the majority).  It’s no big deal.  Again, Aussie culture has this weird skew where nudity is shameful because it must and always does equal sex.  Even as a child in Australia I always got changed in a private changing room because being naked in front of other people was rude and shameful.  I remember going to a public bath in Japan as a teenager and being shocked that everyone was just okay with stripping nude in front of each other.  I ended up refusing to go in, too ashamed of my body to be seen by anyone.

The body-image and sexual repression thing has been a big eye opener but ultimately the censoring of the Internet and the strong and purposeful efforts by the church to stop same-sex marriage in Australia have been the final straws for me.

Yes I am an atheist but honestly if religion was just religion and not something being forced on those that don’t share their faith then I couldn’t give a rats arse.  Believe what you want to believe but please don’t force it on me and my children.  Even when I was a Christian I couldn’t comprehend why we as Christians were trying to force our “rules” on outsiders.  I questioned it constantly.  Don’t get me wrong I was as brainwashed as the rest of them and believed so many things just because “the bible told me so”.  Actually no, scrap that…”because that guy speaking up on the podium says the bible tells me so”!

I was ashamed of being one of the sheep for years but now I’ve started to appreciate the background it has given me.  I  understand why Christian’s are so adamant about the truth of their beliefs.  I get why they think they need to save everyone they meet.  Understanding something doesn’t mean I agree with it but I think it gives me a well-rounded view.

You can often tell a previously religious Atheist apart from the rest (be it that they themselves were religious or even if they had it crammed down their throat at school or by their parents).  Just compare Tim Minchin to Richard Dawkins.  Yes, obviously their medium’s of expression are different but there’s also a slightly bitter edge to Minchin’s work.  I’m not on the purely logical end of the scale I still hold a lot of bitterness towards the religion of my youth.  The lies I was told, the group manipulation, the facts (science, anyone?) I was never exposed to, the false emotions they manipulated me into feeling.

The world is so much bigger than religion leads us to believe.  The world is so rich and full of wonder and religion wasted so much of my potential at a young age.  The guilt, the shame, the feelings of unworthiness, the lack of belief in your own abilities, logic and brain power.

The answers were always in that one book or books written by people that believe in the “Good Book”.  We were taught not to look around us with open minds, question, experiment and learn for ourselves.  The message about how we were born imperfect and sinful and the constant hammering home that we are worthless and nothing without god.  How is that any way to raise the future generation?  In a wealthy western nation the possibilities for a child should be almost endless but instead we were told we should be good, kind, godly, humble and oh by the way you shouldn’t aim to be too wealthy because that’s evil and wrong (naturally feel free to donate any wealth you do accumulate to the chuch, god likes that A LOT).  Don’t get me started on “Science”.

Am I being a little too dramatic here?  Maybe, but ultimately I have a responsibility to raise my children the best way I know how.  Yes there are wonderful parents in Australia who raise wonderful open-minded children.  I’m not saying there aren’t positive aspects of my homeland.  The warm weather can be glorious, I miss all that sunshine whilst suffering through the endlessly dull winters here.  Sometimes the red tape and bureaucracy here starts to do my head in and I long for a bit of laid back Australia.  For my children though I choose something different to my upbringing.  The U.K I believe gives them a more well-rounded education and the media here encourages freedom of thought, religion and sexuality.  I can’t say the same for Australia so for us it will be a holiday destination as we raise our children, not Home.

Here’s Wikipedia Article on Internet Censorship by Country, (note Australia has been classed as a Country Under Surveillance by Reporter’s Without Borders).

The main article on Internet Censorship in Australia.

The Australian Marriage Equality website for all current news stories.

This is where I get my angry on when I hear about the latest nutty homophobic adverts – the Gay Marriage Rights in Australia Facebook Page.

London · Out and About · United Kingdom


Hampton Court Palace isn’t exactly a kids dream destination.  You won’t get squeals of delight at the sight of the architecture, the history, the rose gardens or from the fact that it’s one of the Royal Palace’s.  In fact, if not for the café with scrummy scones and cakes and the kick arse (and world’s oldest) hedge maze then the whole day would have been a complete bust.

You can see how thrilled Master 7 was with the rose gardens…

Hampton Court Palace Gardens

blue moon rose at Hampton Court Palace GardensMummy stopping to take photos of random roses she deemed pretty went down really well too.  The purple one was called “Blue Moon” and the orangey-pink one didn’t have a name (I know, I know…you’re as excited as the kids right now)

Rose at Hampton Court Palace GardensWe took pity on them and headed for the maze… Continue reading “A-maze-ing”