Welcome Mike Harling!

A big thanks this week goes out to everyone who has been in contact with me about my latest article in the Sunshine Coast Daily (Sunday 19th July ‘YOU’ feature)…. I am just awaiting the PDF from the (very busy) editor, so those of you who aren’t lucky enough to live in Queensland can read it too.

Great news this week, while I answer the influx of emails, I have a fantastic (and pretty damn hilarious) guest to write the weekly blog…

… Over to you – my good mate, Mike Harling!

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Australia & New Zealand magazine article…

Hi… again,
I forgot to mention about my new article that has just been published in the fabulous Australia & New Zealand magazine



Click below to read ‘A home to roost’ on PDF…


Also, you can check out the magazines website www.getmedownunder.com 

…and now have a good week!

Off the beaten track…

This week I have had to resort to using a post which I have written for Australia & New Zealand magazine

I’m not simply slacking off, it’s just that I have two of my three children at home with various school-related ailments, so I could write a post on ‘how to apply anti-fungal ointment to the scaly epiderm of a female impetigo sufferer without the need for restraint?’

But I have decided it would be best all round to write the other post – as it is probably more relevant for a website about moving to Australia.


Off the Beaten Track…


The Sunshine Coast is renowned for its fantastic beaches and its simple laid-back way of life – but that’s not all it has to offer.  So taking the time to find some other hidden jewels really is worth the one hour drive north of Brisbane.

Along the Bruce Highway, swing a left at the Glasshouse Mountains Tourist Drive (#24) – known also as the Steve Irwin Way – not only is the Crocodile Hunter’s Zoo along this road, but the most jaw-dropping collection of volcanic mountains you could possibly imagine.

But the best position to view these mountains at their full glory lies a little further ahead at the quaint township of Maleny.

At Landsborough turn left again at Tourist drive #23 and up the hill to Maleny on the Landsborough to Maleny Road. Turn left onto Mountain View Road at Cairncross Corner, just before Maleny.

Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve is just along on the right.

Plenty of parking is available and once you’ve got out and stretched your legs – go and behold the beauty of the Glasshouse Mountains… utterly spectacular.

This isn’t the only reason why I have hiked you up here – there is also a reserve set in 52 hectares of sub-tropical rainforest where you can meet the wildlife and explore a small remnance that once covered the southern end of the Blackhall Range.

Just make sure you are wearing covered in shoes (not sandalls or thongs) as both times I have visited I have had the pleasure of transporting a shiny black leech around between my toes.  They don’t particularly hurt – its just that I could do without the pricking sensation that they like to administer – plus when you eventually prise them off, they suddenly extend to approximately six times their original size and lunge at your face.  Very unnerving.

Still, once you have finished your walk and breathed in the oxygen-rich air – you can stop for a bite to eat at the adjoining cafe.  They offer fabulous morning and afternoon teas and also light meals while you relax and enjoy the magnificent vantage point.

All in all, Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve is an educational day out with a difference.

And if that wasn’t enough excitement for you, you could always all in on Terri, Bob and Bindi on the way back – but that’s another story….

For more information on Mary Cairncross Park visit:



……. and next week I’ll coach you on how to stay focused on writing blogs, while sickly children dangle from your mouse-wire and sneeze a gentle haze of swine flu particles on your computer screen.

Have a good week. x

Walk… don’t run!

Sorry for my leave of absence last week, I was in the recovery position for most of it….


I was roped into doing a charity walk for Breast Cancer – which is fine, I’m fit enough to walk 20 kilometres – and several of my friends were doing it – ‘so why not!’ I thought.


Now you may have read in one of my past blog entries (What’s the story – mornin’ glory, April 2) I’m no athlete, in fact my fifteen minute hike up and down our ridiculous incline of a road can barely be counted as an exercise routine – but I am getting slightly fitter and at least I feel like I’m doing something.


What I hadn’t banked on was that the friends I chose to ‘walk’ with were actually capable of running the 20k’s without breaking out in a sweat… and they were extremely competitive and took the ‘leisurely walk on the boardwalk along the coastal fringes’ as an excuse to elbow past the 600 other participants in a bid to get to the finish line first.


The first kilometre wasn’t too bad, I managed to jog behind them in their slipstream – apologising to the normal people who were walking at a sensible pace. But when the crowd was out of sight and we had made some headway… and we were still running, I started to seriously doubt why I had agreed to this madness.


10 kilometres later I finally sucked up enough oxygen into my poor withered lungs to shout ‘OK, have we got enough of a lead to slow down a little now??’

By the look on their faces, this wasn’t an option – and I was too weak to try and convince them otherwise. So I saw a golden opportunity to loose them – a toilet block was up ahead.


‘I’ll catch you up’ I shouted as I veered into one of the cubicles….. and there I stayed for at least 10 minutes while the blisters on my heels had a chance to fill with synovial fluid.


I cautiously crept out, and to my joy they were nowhere in sight. Instead what greeted me in the mirror was someone who had had their head amputed and had it  replaced by an oversized radish.


I took this as a warning – that I may have overdone it somewhat and carried on the next couple of kilometres at the speed of a three legged tortoise.  It was only when I found I couldn’t hold my water bottle anymore as my hands had swollen up the size of those comedy Mickey Mouse gloves, that I thought maybe I wasn’t feeling quite the full ticket.


I lay down and took a moment to recover, while the people who I had overtaken hours before walked casually past me, uttering tortoise and hare scenarios… then one lady crouched down over me and said ‘you better go and get those hands checked out – the paramedics are over there’


Paramedics??… I thought this was meant to be a fun way of raising some money for charity… not life-threatening!


Anyway, I dragged myself over to them and they informed me that I was dangerously dehydrated and hyperventilating – and to stop the walk immediately.  They then offered me a lift to the finish line… you can see where this is going? 


Yes, there I was – all re-hydrated and bandaged up when my friends arrived at the end of the race.  It was quite obvious that I hadn’t beaten them – but it made for a great laugh when they saw me.


We all sat and drank icy cold lemonade and they decided that they would dress up in fancy dress for the walk next year.





Mother’s Day in MAY!

This weeks blog is dedicated to all the mothers of children who are living over here in Oz….

Please don’t feel rejected by your heartless children on Mothers Day back in March, when your gift or card didn’t arrive… it’s simply because the UK and Australia celebrate this occasion on different days.

So we are sorry that you sat gazing at the letterbox, awaiting the gentle landing of your Mothering Sunday card onto the hall mat…

… or if you watched eagerly as the Inter-flora vans floored it past your house – with no intention of delivering even a wilted gladioli.

It’s not that we didn’t care enough to send you flowers or cards.

Its just that we totally forgot!!

Mother’s Day is celebrated in May in Australia – and it is hyped up to maximum proportions with TV commercials egging everyone to ‘treat mum to a brekkie at McDonalds’ , ‘take mum to KFC for lunch’ and ‘Don’t let mum cook dinner – go and get her a Whopper at Hungry Jacks’

….is it just me, or on Mother’s Day, sitting in a fast food joint with my elbows nestled in the last customers tomato sauce spillage with my feet glued to the floor by various sticky solutions, isn’t my idea of relaxation.

But after being woken excitedly at 5.45am to open three homemade cards with green dried pasta sellotaped furiously into heart shapes; a baked bean tin with a small shrub growing in it and a Dustbuster…

…How could I be so selfish??

So a compromise was met, brekkie at McDonald’s then later in the afternoon, a picnic up in the hills – to watch the sunset over the Glasshouse Mountains.

Beauty on Mother's Day

Beauty on Mother's Day

How romantic…

…it could have been, if  I hadn’t been wiping tomato sauce of my children’s elbows and standing in sticky puddles of our own spilt lemonade.

Never mind – it’s more than my own mum got back in March…. OOPS!


I’ll leave you with this newsflash which has just been released in the USA;  you are about to find out who is officially the best Mum in the world!..


(One more thing, don’t forget – Father’s Day is in September!!)

Have a great week.

Australia’s Frequent Festivals

Australia is host to many different festivals and carnivals – probably the most famous being Sydney’s flamboyant Mardi Gras and Melbourne’s International Comedy Festival, to name just a few.

But this week, we attended Australia’s leading regional Food and Wine Festival in Noosa.

Although I love great food, and I have definitely be known to partake in the odd bottle of wine or three, the reason why we decided to check this festival out was for the live entertainment.

Topping the bill on the opening night was Bjorn Again – the world-class ABBA tribute band… and they were fantastic!

No amount of driving rain could stop us from gyrating like lunatics at the back of the outdoor concert to all the ABBA classics like Waterloo, Mama Mia, Fernando, Living on a Prayer….


……yeah, I think they just threw that one in to prove they aren’t just a one-trick pony.

Anyway, while we danced about soaked through to our undies, waitresses carted about delicious gourmet treats on silver platters for us to sample…. the wine flowed and the food kept coming – could it get any better?

Well, we didn’t get thrown out for sneaking in tuna mayonnaise sandwiches and Cheezels for the kids – but then what would they want with ‘delicate degustations of oak-smoked salmon inuendos’ or whatever they were.

A great night was had by all. Just another example of Australia’s wonderful festivals – even though we looked like we had joined an all-in mud-wrestling competition by the time we left to go home. Who needs Glastonbury?





For more information on the festivals of Oz, check out:


Have a great week.

Lest we forget.

Yeah? Well I did forget.

Not about all the Australian and New Zealand men and women who died or suffered in the tragedy of war….

Not about the families of the men and women who mourned these honourable souls who were victims of armed conflict….

….what I did forget was to set my alarm to wake up early enough to get my kids down to the starting point for the ANZAC Day march.

OK so ANZAC Day, being the 25th April – maybe ‘so last weeks news’  but I thought this weeks blog should be dedicated to it, purely because when I was in the UK…. I thought an ANZAC was a type of biscuit.

My first ANZAC Day came as a little surprising to me. I had lived in Australia for nearly a year, so I had learnt that ANZAC Day is very similar to our Remembrance Sunday – we honour the servicemen and women who fought in the Great war – the battle of Gallipoli being the one that first marked the tradition in Oz.

But the startling difference between ANZAC Day and Remembrance Sunday, is the fact that nearly all the shops are shut to mark the event…. just bear that in mind – and perhaps buy and extra pint of milk and loaf of bread on the 24th.

Vicky & the Vets.

Vicky & the Vets.

I arrived at the memorial service just in time to hear the band finish playing , so keeping as much of a low profile as possible – I pushed through the heaving crowd dragging two thirds of my children in freshly pressed uniforms to where the rest of the school had congregated after the march. I would have got away without anyone realising our lateness, if in my panic to get away I hadn’t trodden on my toddlers foot – who then shrieked in agony just as the two minutes silence was being observed.

No amount of drinks/muesli bars/dummies or mobile phone offers could console his shrill cry and it was only disguised by a chorus of Abide with me – giving me time to find a suitable distraction by way of the nearby play park.

The rest of the service went by without trauma, and soon we were all standing to attention as the bugle sounded and we watched the release of the ceremonial white doves.

So there's more to it than a biccie?

So there's more to it than a biccie?

After the service, we all gorged on complimentary ANZAC biscuits, baked by the local RSL Club and drank scorching hot tea out of polystyrene cups, while the children ran wild after having to sit still for so long.

We then headed home and soon realised that I had in fact only bought milk and bread… and we had no other food in the cupboard – so I made a stodgy yet sumptuous bread and butter pudding and we ate it for our dinner.

 How jolly British.

Flying over to Oz….

Reading back over my entries, I see I am in danger of swaying off the subject of what this site is trying to achieve. So this week I am going to start right back at the very beginning of everybody’s  journey… and give you some information on that first step….

Your flight over to Oz….

There are many routes that can be taken to Australia, but no matter which way you go, you will require a refuelling stop.  This can either be a painfully boring experience, or one filled with fun!

Only the other week, I was waiting for my connecting flight in Dubai, where I had to wait several hours…. with my toddler who had a miserable cold and no pushchair.  Yes, no pushchair… because even though you are promised to get yours back when you check in at your first departure airport, you will not see it again in Dubai… it will go straight to your final destination.  They do, however, provide complimentary pushchairs for your convenience.

But it wasn’t convenient… it was downright inconvenient.  There were none available for me to use in the whole airport and I was forced to lumber a 22lb child and two compact but heavy carry-on bags approximately a mile and a half to our departure gate.

When I arrived at the gate, rather sweaty and limp, I had just plonked down my load when an eerie wailing sound came over the tannoy.  Looking around, I found the bustling airport to have transformed into a place of desolation…. as a huge proportion of the travellers had disappeared into the prayer rooms.  If I had needed a pushchair now, this would have been the time to get one…. but as I had little energy left after my hike, I sat down with my son and ate tarnies (sultanas) until we were able to board our plane.

So, if you are like me and would prefer to make  the journey as much fun as possible, then you might want to opt for an overnight stopover, perhaps at Singapore airport?


The airport hotel is situated, as you may expect, in the airport.  But to be more precise, in the ‘arrivals’ area, so there is actually no need to trundle through the rigmarole of customs and the like.  The reception is found after a small escalator ride to the next floor, where you are greeted by huge glass windows and swivel doors which open out onto an inviting outdoor pool and bar.

When we relocated a few years ago, this is were we headed once we had checked in at reception. I remember changing into our swimwear and parading our translucant English bodies out towards the pool area.


It is a strange feeling to walk out from the comfortable air-conditioned capsule of the airport, to the sudden weighty, moisture-filled air of humidity that Singapore is renown for. But after the initial gasping of breath and frantic flapping of hands in front of our faces – like a make-shift fan, we timidly entered the pool.


Well, what a wonderful experience! The pool was delightfully warm – due to the fact that Singapore’s temperature barely drops below 25 degrees at night, there was not another soul around apart from us and the happy chap at the bar who was busily cleaning glasses and generally clattering about. 

Floating on my back and looking up at the night sky with it’s clusters of unfamiliar stars, I knew this was something everyone who does long-haul flights (especially after sitting in cattle-class with kids) simply must experience…


Although having said that, the occasional screaming jet noise as the planes took off and the smell of aviation fuel was a trite noxious, but then for heavens sake, we were in the departure lounge!



Choosing somewhere to stop on your journey may not be something that really crosses your mind when you are  booking your flight. And to be honest, most of the time all you want to do is ‘get there’ – but having a proper rest on your long-haul, may help you arrive just a little more refreshed, and that can only be a good thing when you’ve travelled all that way.