Thursday, 15 October 2015

Flying the nest

I have just welcomed back Miss 12 and Miss 14 from a trip to Queensland.

The main reason for their visit to Queensland was to attend a Girl Guide Jamboree. However since they were in the state, they stayed on for an extra few days after the Jamboree to spend time with my extended family.

The girls flew to Queensland with the rest of the WA Girl Guide contingent, but coming home they traveled by themselves. I wouldn't say they were experienced travelers, but Miss 14 has been on a previous Girl Guide jamboree and also to Singapore on a soccer tour (I never did get her to write that blog post!). And they have both flown a couple of times with me.

So I was a little nervous but not too worried. Turns out the mistakes were mostly mine.

The things I should have done .......

Make sure they take their ID. Double check. Then check again. Miss 12 did not take her student ID despite my many reminders. Luckily I had sent the medicare card with Miss 14.

Make sure you order any special meals. My mistake. Fortunately the airline attendants took pity on my vegetarian child and fed her lots of crackers and an apple. She didn't like the vegetarian meal on the trip there so she was happy.

Check the details for pick up carefully. Very carefully. I had the times and everything correct for the girls' midnight pickup, but then their flight came in early. I was running late but should have been there on time, except I had the wrong terminal. Luckily the two are right next door within walking distance. Definitely a(nother) rookie mistake.

I was also very impressed that somehow Qantas gave me an update on the flight times. I haven't exactly worked out how they did it as it wasn't an email or a text, but rather some sort of internet update. It was pretty awesome.

The girls had a great time and are busily planning their next trip and how they are going to pay for it. The travel bug has bitten!

Save travels and happy adventuring.

Cath xx

Wednesday, 22 July 2015


We leave for Bali in 3.5 sleeps. 

Miss 12 and I are firmly of the opinion that as we will be too excited to sleep much on Saturday night, and because we will be getting up at 4am, that Saturday night only counts as half a sleep. Therefore, it is 3.5 sleeps and not 4 sleeps.

I was about to make a final check of things to do before I leave, so I thought I may as well write a blog post. This will save me from writing it on post-it note and promptly losing it, plus I thought some of you might have useful tips?

This week
  • Locate passports. (Do NOT leave this until the last minute. Seriously. Trust me on this one).
  • Copy passport (2 copies to be left with responsible people, 1 copy to be in bag away from actual passport).
  • Pack bags.
  • Argue with children about what is actually necessary and what is not.
  • Weigh bags.
  • Make sure you have appropriate weight for your checked in baggage.
  • Take out travel insurance (I have actually already done this, but it is so important).
  • Double check immunisations (Even thought that should really be done a few months beforehand. I did this soon after we booked the trip).
  • Confirm hotel bookings.
  • Print tickets/insurance/bookings.
  • Email copies of tickets/insurance/books to responsible and contactable people.
  • Make arrangements for pets/house/mail.
  • Leave instructions and key for pet-sitters.
  • Buy appropriate food etc for pets.
  • Assure anxious children that the pets will not get totally overweight with pet-sitters. 
  • Let bank know that account will be accessed overseas.
  • Get $US for entry visa.
  • Exchange enough money for the first few days.
  • Pack a Bali First Aid Kit (the girls' Dad made me promise to do this one).
  • Advise people that I won't be contactable on phone (or get global roaming, but I am planning on the first option).
  • Mentally deal with the fact that work goals will not be as finished as will like, and move on.
  • Effect good handover to colleagues.
  • Put on "out of office" and put work out of my mind, guilt free.

The day before
  • Do the dishes and make sure there is no wet laundry.
  • Book taxi.
  • Check in.
  • Write list of things to do last minute as we leave the house.
  • Set alarm.

Ok so the list looks pretty massive, but it's not really. It has been a good brainstorming exercise, and I am feeling a lot more organised than I usually do when I am throwing things in a suitcase the day I leave to go somewhere. 

The girls have been well brought up in Girl Guides. They don't go anywhere without a kit list; if one is not provided, or if the quality is not good enough, they write their own. I haven't seen their lists for this trip, but I will see if they will let me share. 

In the meantime, can you think of anything I have forgotten to do? What is your last minute routine before you go away?

Happy adventuring,

Cath xx

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Winter Wanderings

4 July 2015 saw us celebrating. No, not the independence of the American colonies from the British Empire, but the beginning of the Bridgetown in the Winter Festival. The night saw "snow" (complete with snowfights, snowangels, and snowmen), a hawkers' lane filled with lots of yummy food, the Bridgetown Town Hall turned into a Winter Wonderland, and the official turning on of Bridgetown's Blue Lights.

That was simply a teaser. The Bridgetown in the Winter Festival is Lela's project so I will let her tell you all about it. All I am going to say is that there are some great activities on offer, lasting all the way through the winter months, and that the myth that Western Australia's South West is purely for summer has been well and truly debunked.

The girls and I are trying to make it one of our missions to see something a bit different each time we go down South. This trip we took a drive down the scenic Blackwood River Tourist Drive.

It was a truly beautiful drive. Miss 16 put herself in charge of taking photos (which was useful as I was driving), and these were the only four she deemed blogworthy.

Are you spotting a flaw with the pictures? Did you notice there was no river?

I can confirm that there were several sightings of the Blackwood River along the drive, however the route we were on did not follow the river. It was fun playing spot the river though!

Enough about recent trips. There are still exciting things to come! Currently I am looking forward to a planning meeting with Lela for our big NZ trip on Friday ... and my trip to Bali with the girls next week.

Stay tuned for more posts, and happy adventuring.

Cath xx

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Alphabet Adventures

I took the girls to Boddington over the weekend to have dinner with their dad for the Little One's birthday. If anyone else is in the position of doing the same longish drive (it takes us just over an hour) on a regular basis, you will know that sometimes it can be fun to do something a bit different on the way.

We decided to do our own scavenger hunt, taking a picture which represented each letter of the alphabet. Total success! The girls all joined in and their dad got into the spirit too when we go to him (see if you can guess which ones his contributions were!). Not only did they have fun, the girls want to do the same thing when we are in Bali. That was something I hadn't been expecting.

Pictures below are in alphabetical order, but if you check out #alphabetadventures you will see the pictures in chronological order on Instagram or Twitter, or use #krisangels if you want to see our other travel or adventuring type pictures.

A is for art
B is for Boddington
C is for centrepiece
D is for Daddy and daughters
E is for engine
F is for food
G is for grub (as in "pub grub")
H is for horse
I is for icecream
J is for Jack Daniel's
K is for kangaroo
L is for lollies
M is for minesite
N is for nachos
O is for orange
P is for playground
Q is for Quindanning
R is for rum
S is for Sprite
T is for truck of trees
U is for unicorn (our car mascot, so totally counts)
V is for vague
W is for windmill
X is for best ex ever

Y is for Yaris

Z is for zig-zag

Sunday, 21 June 2015

The road to happiness

Road trip 1 of 4 has happened. (In case you were worried after my last post, I have called the other people I am planning on visiting over the next few weekends. Our planned trips have the last official green light!)

This trip was just me. I drove out to Dalwallinu: a tiny town in the wheat belt of Western Australia.

I have a confession to make. I actually don't like driving particularly, although I do like going places, I don't love the actual part where I have to be behind the wheel. If I have the choice I am happy to be the passenger.

This weekend just gone was just what I needed though. It was a 6 hour 'round trip. The scenery was beautiful. The traffic conditions were perfect (by perfect I mean virtually no traffic, just enough random cars to reassure you that if something does go wrong that you will be found).

I watched the growing rain clouds.

Rain on the horizon: very important in farming land.

I took photos of random things (check out @philosophy_minors on Instagram or @PhilosophyMinor on Twitter or #krisangels).

Dragon? Dinosaur? Lizard?

I stopped for so-bad-its-good roadhouse food.

Chicken cheese sausage, and a crab still. 

I enjoyed my accidental detours to Northam on the way there and Toodyay on the way back.

Northam Town Hall

I listed to an audiobook.

The picture just doesn't do the colour justice.

I recharged my soul.

I also thought of some tips to share with you (ok they pretty obvious ones, but worth thinking about):
  • Fill up on fuel before you leave. 
  • Keep an eye on the fuel gauge; nothing spoils the serenity of driving a country road like anxiously watching the fuel gauge and hoping you'll make it to the next stop.
  • You may not get mobile reception.
  • Stop. Stretch. 
  • Make sure you have water with you.
  • Let people know your ETA. 
I learned new lessons this weekend:

  • Multi-tasking is great, but buying a mirror at the beginning of a road trip may not be the best idea. 
  • If you listen to an audio book with Scottish accents for over six hours, you may begin to hear Scottish accents in your dreams.
The next two trips will be with the girls. I am not expecting the same level of serenity, but I am expecting them to be fun! I actually have a photo challenge for the girls to try next weekend on the way to Boddington, I will let you know how that goes.

Happy adventuring!

Cath xx

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Ticking the boxes

Just a note to touch base with you all!

Life has been plodding along the last few weeks, but some significant steps have been taken. And in case you are wondering what "plodding along" means in our universe it is really code for everyday chaos and being insanely busy. You know, the normal lives of busy women.

But as there have been achievements in terms of travel plans, I thought I would share them with you:

  • The second last payment for my girls' trip to the Girl Guide Jamboree in Queensland has been paid.
  • Accommodation for my family trip to Bali has been booked.
  • Paris the Yaris has new tyres all set for four country adventures I have planned over the next month.
I am so excited about it all. There are a few things left that I need to do quite quickly though. One of these being actually letting some of my country friends know that I am planning on visiting them. Three out of the five people know, the others I will call this week.

I also need to book return trips home for the girls from Queensland. I have been trying to work out if I can afford for DD1 (aka Buglet if you read my personal blog) to join the little two in Queensland to visit my extended family after the Jamboree. I really don't think I can, but it really feels like too good an opportunity to miss. I will let you know how this all goes. 

My car mascot; meet Hilton.

Perhaps the most exciting thing is that Lela and I have decided where we will be heading on our next adventure after New Zealand. I am not telling you then though. I will add "talk to Lela about a big reveal" to the list of things to do this week ... so stay tuned. 

Happy adventuring!

Cath xxx

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Rookie mistake

On the ANZAC long weekend we went on Girl Guide camp to York.

In case you are not from Western Australia, I should say that York is a town in WA as well as being a place in the UK (and possibly other places? Anyone know of any other places called York?)

Kris all ready to go to her first Guide camp.

I totally meant to take pictures of tourist stuff.

I totally meant to get some brochures and do some research for this blog.

I was having so much fun I totally forgot.

Notwithstanding my total lack of organisation and the fact I don't have anything to tell you, I love going to York. It is very pretty.

The view from the porch at 'Our Barn'
'Our Barn' is a Girl Guide property right in the middle of York.

You can click here if you would like to find your own information, otherwise you will just have to wait until we go back.

Happy adventuring!

Cath xx

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Frolic in Fremantle

We spent a beautiful Good Friday just chilling in Fremantle.

We had three missions. To visit the Elizabeth's Bookshop e, fish'n'chips for lunch, and to buy the girls' dad a belt for Easter (long story, we don't usually give belts for Easter, we usually give pyjamas).

Mission one was perfect. You could easily walk to Elizabeth's Bookshops' Fremantle warehouse from the main cafe strip area, but we drove. We drove for the simple reason that they were having a carboot sale and I did not want to walk carrying a box of books.

Look Mama! A selfie with Books.

We were a little proud of ourselves. We all stuck to our budget.

Mission two was easily accomplished ... hello Fremantle Markets, and a beautifully handmade leather belt that had holes punched while we were waiting so the holes are in the exact right spot for the person buying it.

Waiting for the girls to reappear

Tips of the day: Find an agreed meeting place for you to aim for if you lose the other members of your traveling party. I did lose the girls for a while. Which is fine at their age, and because we weren't in a rush, but there are lots of people and lots of little alleys and stalls. Picking an exit as a back up meeting place would have helped.

Also have some cash on you. Not all places accept EFTPOS. Or if you are trying to save money, don't take cash. Then if you will know if you really want something because you will have to go find an ATM to get it. This actually might be a better tip because there are so many beautiful products, it would be very easy to spend a fortune.

Three of our favourite food items at the Fremantle Markets would have to be potato-on-a-stick (this is mine by a long shot), fruit kebabs, and giant pretzels. There are lots of other foods though, including people handing out samples. Samples are always awesome.

Mission three was also easily accomplished. If you wander from the cafe strip ...

The Middling One playing tour guide

.... across the Esplanade (Which also is a fabulous place to stop for a while. Awesome playground. And on Good Friday it was great to see so many people picnicking and playing football)  ...

Perfect view

..... you will come to the Fishing Boat Harbour which has four or five places that specialise in fish'n'chips. Even on Good Friday and without a booking we only had a 20 minute wait for food. The perfect amount of time for me to enjoy a glass of wine and the live music that was playing, and for the girls to take lots of photos.

Taking photos while Mummy is enjoying a glass of wine.

For us a trip to Fremantle is not complete without a quick trip to The Pickled Fairy and a sprinkle of magic fairy dust. I still find it such a magical place to visit.

Wishing garden

These are just a couple of our favourite Freo places. Stay tuned for more a different time. There is too much to do in a day!

What are you favourite places to visit in Fremantle? Where are your favourite markets?

Happy Adventuring!

Cath xx

Monday, 30 March 2015

Will you stay or will you go?

The count down to the Easter long weekend is well and truly on. One work day down, three work days to go!

I have to confess that I tend to stay at home for long weekends. While the rest of Perth seems to go away, I love being at home for a long weekend. The extra day at home just feels like luxury. I have a few theories as to why I like being at home on long weekends, but I will save those for a different post.

Just because we are planning on being at home, this is not to say that we are not going to do things.

Good Friday, after church, we are planning a trip to Fremantle for fish'n'chips. I am not sure where yet, there are a few good options in Fremantle!

We are also planning on going to the Fremantle Markets. It is always nice to wander around Fremantle. In addition to the markets, there are always street performers in the cafĂ© strip, there is a massive park, and the atmosphere in Fremantle is always cruisey.

I have to admit though, part of the attraction for Fremantle this weekend is a Elizabeth's Bookshops carpark sale. I may have a slight book addiction.

Hoping to come home with several bags of books on Friday.
If there is one thing I love more than chocolate, it is books.

Saturday the plan is to attend Perth's last remaining drive in movies at Galaxy Drive In Theatre. I will blog about drive in tips a different time. For now I will just note that it is a fun night out and a very cheap way to see movies.

Easter Sunday we will spend with my family, church and lunch, but in the afternoon I am hoping to take the girls to do some bushwalking on the way to visiting their dad in Boddington.

So as you can see, it doesn't take much to find a lot of stuff to do even if you chose to stay home. And this is even before you think about all the jobs that you could be doing around the house.

What about you? Are you are long weekend traveller? Or do you stay at home?

Happy adventuring!

Cath xx

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Girl Guides go places

In my very first Kris' Angels blog post, I mentioned that my first experience of Asia was going to Cambodia. What I didn't mention in that post, was that the reason I was in Cambodia to representing Girl Guides Australia at an Asia Pacific Region Strategic Leadership conference. 

At some point I will write about my memories of Cambodia, but the point of today's post is that I was thinking about some of the trips I am beginning to plan for the next 5 years. 

Lela wrote about our $5 a week being our starting point, but of the very early topics of conversation also included was one day visiting the four World Centres belonging to the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS). (I should say here that this was a number of years ago, Lela's recollection may differ!)

One of my plans is to take a group of girls to Sangam which is the World Centre in India. 

Part of my long service leave plans is spend some time in Our Cabana, the World Centre in Mexico. 

When I make it to London, a visit to Pax Lodge is a non-negotiable. 

But the real reason I thought to do this post at this moment in time, is that one of my friends has just got back from spending three months at Our Chalet, the World Centre in Switzerland. I loved living vicariously through her blog, until I can make it there myself one day. I was discussing with my girls (and my Guides) that travelling with Guides, including the opportunity to volunteer overseas, was something they could do one day. 

Meanwhile four of my Guides (including two of my daughters) are fundraising to attend a Jamboree in Queensland, and currently my Guide unit is planning a unit camp to Our Barn, a Guide property in York, Western Australia.

I am grateful that I have had a chance to be part of an such an amazing organisation that, on top of all the other benefits it provides to girls and women, gives us a family all over the world that we can visit. 

I will let you know how all these plans shape up as I go along.

Cath xx

PS in case anyone check out the World Centre link, yes, they are building a Fifth World Centre in Africa, and yes that is on the travel plan list too. 

Friday, 20 March 2015

It's not for the faint hearted

Over the last few months I have embarked on the challenge of obtaining Miss 14 a passport. I think I have mentioned before that she went to Singapore (note to self, I must get her to do a blog post!), so we finally bit the bullet and approached her biological father to change her surname legally and sign her passport forms. Believe it or not, this was the easy bit. Potentially because I delegated that bit to my parents.

Actually correctly completing the passport form correctly and obtaining all the documents, was much, much harder than I imagined.

Me to the Post Office staff (after my third or fourth trip in there): "I have three degrees and this may literally the hardest thing I have ever done". They told me that have words to this effect on a regular basis when it comes to people getting children's passports.

So to make your life a little easier, please find below some of the ways I stuffed up. Hopefully I can help someone else from making the same mistakes.
  • My first adult passport was issued after Miss 14 was born so I needed a copy of my full birth certificate.
  • I didn't have (ok, I couldn't find) a copy of my birth certificate, so I had to order one interstate.
  • My surname has changed since Miss 14 was born, so needed my divorce certificate.
  • I somehow got pen on the passport photo.
  • The guarantor dated and wrote on the photos but forgot to sign them.
  • The date below one of the signatures was not in the correct DD/MM/YYYY format*.
*this was not me, so I took the risk and they ended up accepting it. I am very grateful to Australia Post for pointing it out though. In my case it made more sense to see if they would accept it rather then trying to get the form completed again by Miss 14's biological father.

These things all sound little, but it made the process quite long.

It is also important to note that there is a expiration date of the validity of a signature. Check with Australia Post when picking up the form if you are like me and for whatever reason you know there may be a delay in lodging it once signed.

Most importantly, don't take my word for it. Check out the official website,  read the instructions carefully, and listen to the lovely staff at Australia Post. Despite my dramas, all the staff I dealt with where helpful, professional, and really patient.

I am happy to report I also now have Miss 15's passport, and only have Miss 11's to go! See I can do this!

Cath xx

Monday, 16 March 2015

Perth v International Arts

I realised after typing the title that normal people read 'v' as 'against', while as a lawyer I read 'v' as 'and'. I thought about changing the title, but I decided to leave it. Mostly because there is a perception that Perth is boring. I disagree.

Recently Perth has been on the international arts map recently when the City of Perth hosted the Giants (puppets from the Royal de Luxe street theatre company).

From my office window. I had an amazing view.
5th floor office if you would like some perspective.
There has been lots more to the Perth Festival. I also saw dragons for Chinese New Year. I didn't get a picture because I am slow and didn't get my phone out in time, and I hadn't been intending on watching any. They just appeared! The have been food markets. And all this follows on from the Fringe Festival.

While the official festival is over, there are still lots of interesting events in Perth. Check out the Perth Festival website for more information. There is a convenient calendar which shows what is on each day.

So whichever way you read Perth v International Arts, I am pretty sure it is a win for Perth!

Have you attended any of the events? If so, let us know what you thought!

Cath xx

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Eyes, and ears, and mouth, and tummy

Road tripping to a few of the country towns within a couple of hours of Perth is something I do on a regular basis, thanks to being lucky enough to have three of my closest friends in country destinations.

Road trips, even short ones, require some thought though.

For me the essentials are ....

Water is always a good idea. For starters it really annoys me when I forget water and I then have to buy it. Caffeine is a must for me. Driving makes me sleepy, even though I am very conscious about taking regular wake-up stops.

When the girls are with me they like to listen to music. However for me road trips mean a good chance to listen to an audio book, or a radio dramatisation. My family has done this since we were tiny. When we were little audio versions of "Faulty Towers" was a family favourite.

A friend
You don't need to have someone with you, but good bush sense says let someone know when you are leaving, when you expect to arrive, and the route you are planning on taking. Some of the country roads can be pretty isolated, and there are lots of spots without mobile reception. I suggest a telling friend who can talk rather than of the stuffed toy variety (sorry Kris!).

Finally, don't forget to check that you have enough petrol to get to your planned destination, and that you monitor your fuel on the way. One of my favourite parts of road trips is getting totally un-nutritious but oh-so-yummy fried food from a roadhouse. However the food does not taste as good when you've been anxiously watching the fuel gauge and desperately hoping that you make it to an open petrol station. 

What are your best road tripping tips?

Cath xx