Sunday, May 17, 2015

Everybody Loves Lucy ... and why Johnny Depp and I could be mates

I knew Johnny Depp and I were like 'that'.
He and I have so much in common.
Yes, there's more to the Deppster than looks, loins, and his knack with a pirate hat. (Okay and awesome acting skills).
As Australia, America, and the rest of the world pretty much found out recently, Johnny and his wife Amber Heard love a pampered pooch as much as I do. In fact, they love two of them, Pistol and Boo.
So much so, they tried to 'Do a Depp' (I coined that term, You're welcome).
Yes, the celebs tried to smuggle the pair into Australia, in defiance of our strict quarantine laws, via a handbag.
And they would have been successful too, if it hadn't been for those meddling kids some proud pet groomers. (Who had permission to share the news about their famous doggie clients, so you can't blame them.)

Poor doggies. Poor Johnny. 

Anyway, what I found interesting was, while all this was going on, my own pampered pooch Lucy was doing a little smuggling trick of her own.
You see, Lucy is a lap dog in every sense of the word. If she's not on my lap, she's beside it, snuggled in as close as can be. If she's not on my lap or in my bed, she's cuddling with somebody else. With my permission, of course!
Now the kids aren't here full-time, she's with me all the time.
I could be posh and call Lucy a designer dog. If I google her, I'm entitled to call her a Pomchi or Chiranian. But really, that sounds wanky.
In non-wanky terms, she is a chihuahua-pomeranian cross. Mini-sized. That means she's about the size of a small guinea pig, but a hell of a lot smarter. And she doesn't leave lots of tiny poos everywhere. Well, most of the time. (Apologies to guinea pig owners.).
She's always travelled with us wherever possible, and that has become even more important now it's just the two of us.
And because Lucy has a delightful personality, she seems to win fans wherever she goes. She is a welcome guest when we visit friends and family, and unlike many small dogs, she is not snappy or yappy. The worst she will do is lick you, or snuggle with you within an inch of your life.
So the last time I went to Brisbane for an appointment with one of my specialists, Lucy gave me one of her impossible-to-resist looks, and I decided to take her with me at the last minute. She doesn't mind a road trip, my Lucy.
Usually my neighbour or a friend looks after her, but I was staying with a friend whose daughters had begged me to bring Lucy on my next visit to the city so I knew it would be okay.

We had time for a walk along the river to blow off the stress of the drive before my appointment ... 

Having become accustomed to country life and unused to city traffic, I didn't have enough time to drop Lucy at my friend's house before my appointment.
So I decided to do a social experiment and see if anyone actually noticed if I took her with me.
Luckily, Lucy fits perfectly into a handbag, and like I said, she's a well-behaved, clean little girl.

Dog in a handbag

My doctor's rooms are at a private hospital, and not one person noticed a small furry face peeking out of my handbag.
Not at the reception at the hospital, not at the doctor's rooms. No one noticed, from the cleaner vacuuming noisily near us, nor the other patients, as we all waited. No one noticed as I went to the bathroom, refilled my water bottle, took a photo (now that was difficult - if only dogs could take selfie) and fiddled with my phone.
Of course the doctor was running late, so that posed an even great challenge. What if Lucy needed to poo or wee, and did something horrid in my favourite handbag?
Eventually, my doctor called me in.
We were about halfway through my appointment, and I'd even shed a few tears, when my phone, also in my handbag, started vibrating. Lucy didn't like that, so she started moving a bit and showed herself.
Finally, my doctor saw Lucy, and started laughing.
"Oh my God," he said. "What is that?" (I know. How rude!)
Luckily, it was all good. (I had seen people bringing puppies into the hospital before so I had a feeling it would be okay if I was sprung. And to be fair, he's paid to observe me, not my handbag. I was more weirded out that the hospital has all kinds of security measures in place, but no one noticed I was carrying a concealed weapon in my bag. Kinda.)
My doctor is a psychiatrist and he said if it was the difference between seeing me and not seeing me, he was fine with me bringing my dog. But perhaps, not to make a habit of it. Or if I did, to do the handbag trick again. And he enjoyed meeting part of my 'treatment plan'. After all, Lucy help keeps me happy and gives me a reason to get up in the morning. Even on the darkest of days.
Later, Lucy spent a pleasant night being fussed over by my friend's daughters and playing with their cat. She loves kids and desperately misses mine/ours, so surrogate kids are always a hit.
We were talked into staying another night so Lucy could help collect the girls from school the next day, including meeting their friends and teachers, and going for a walk on the waterfront at sunset.

Lucy's first visit to the waterfront, with surrogate kids

She even went to the local pizza takeaway shop and was made a huge fuss of by all the patrons.

Lucy was treated like a rock star when she helped fetch this spinach and fetta wood-fired pizza

"Does Lucy get treated like a star wherever she goes?" one of my friend's daughters said.
Yes. Yes she does.
I can't go out with Lucy without people fussing over her, asking questions, and wondering where they can get a dog like her. Then there are the jokes. "My dog could eat your dog for lunch," owners of big dogs will say. "Oh how cute! How old?' Others will ask. And be amazed that she is fully grown. And I could have sold her puppies a hundred times.
(Sadly - or perhaps sensibly - we decided to get Lucy desexed. We felt it would be cruel to put such a tiny dog through a pregnancy).
Lucy has so many adventures, I've decided to set up her own Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Lucy knows how to smell out good coffee for me. She was disappointed there weren't any yowies though. At Kilcoy, #sqcountry #roadtrip

Not barking at ducks at the Yowie Pond at Kilcoy, #sqcountry #roadtrip

Meanwhile, Johnny and Amber, if you'd like to borrow Lucy for a cuddle while you're in Australia, she's available for very reasonable rates. (That is free. If you don't mind trading a cuddle with her for a photo opp. with me. And I'd just be as thrilled with a cuddle from Amber as from Johnny. Something tells me we'd have a lot in common).

I'll even supply the handbag.

Postscript: I love animals, and I love Australia. I don't condone celebrities or anyone breaking our strict quarantine laws, which are there for a reason. I do wonder why the famous pooches couldn't have been put into quarantine, as horrid as that is, to allow them to stay? Although by the time quarantine was over, perhaps filming would have ended. I have friends who paid a small fortune to bring their pets to Australia when they moved here (whether temporarily or permanently). And there are those who have house and/or petsitters, paid or otherwise, to look after their furry kids at home when they travel. If you live in Australia, Aussie House Sitters is a great website to start looking.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

No Shit Charlie ...

Originally, I'd planned this post to be part of a Wordless Wednesday link-up. 
Wordless Wednesday is a blogger thing, where you can keep blogging without putting in loads of effort, but still make a point with a photo or something that has meant something to you.
But me? Well I always find it difficult to keep my Wordless Wednesdays non-wordy. And I just needed to explain more about this one. 
So, I've been feeling down, as you know, especially as, in the aftermath of Mother's Day, my daughter split her head open at school.
She's okay, and her Dad looked after her. But it's the first time she's been injured and in serious pain that I've not been at her side. 
I hate this. I hate not being able to be by my childrens' side when they need me.
It's not like I can even jump on a plane, even if I could afford to. The nearest airport - which has planes which fly to Darwin - is a three hour drive away, but you need to allow at least four hours for traffic and parking. Plus getting there early for check-in. Then there are odd flight times. Transport when you get to the NT. Accommodation costs. 
So I have to suck it up and hope she is okay. And I've talked to her, and she is being very brave.
I'm not sure about me.
But when I'm down, some of the things that cheer me up are being grateful, being mindful, and thinking back to times when I was happy. 
Travel always makes me happy, and when a school friend and I visited our friend Ian in Bangkok some time ago, he showed us one of his favourite places to relax after work - the Charlie Bar. (No, not Charlie's Bar. Charlie Bar).
It's a typical Bangkok street bar, popular with expats, partly because of the very cheap prices, and partly because of the friendly owner. 

Sorry for the photo quality - I only had an iphone 3 at the time. #FirstWorldProblems right?

Charlie Bar is always very busy ... 

But there are a lot of rules ...

Including this one - in the loos. In case you can't see, because it's a well, erm used, the sign says:
 'Do Not Shit. Only Pee.' 
Okay then. 
I don't know what patrons do if they are suddenly caught short ... and I don't want to know! 

I came across the actual Charlie from Charlie Bar. He posed for a photo, but this was the only one which turned out because he was so busy working, which involved carrying bits of metal around and talking to interested strangers like me. He confirmed he didn't like people pooing in his toilets because it clogged them up and then no one else wanted to use them. And then he laughed, because he said people came to photograph the sign. People like me! Strange westerners.

It's always highs and lows in Bangkok (as in life). After that, Ian and his friends took us to one of the most famous bars in the city, the Sky Bar. Known as the bar in the Hangover 2 movie, the bar at The Dome is suspended on the 63rd floor of lebua.
It's expensive for Bangkok, but there are people to help you negotiate the magnificent stairs in your heels. Great for those of us who are unsteady in their 'going out' shoes. And, unlike most 'high towers with a view', there is no entry fee. 

The cocktails were about $AUD 15 which is steep for Bangkok. But when you take into account there are no fees, it's worth it for the view - and the experience. 

There were rules here too ... (Dammit, and I was going to wear my ripped clothing too. And who decides if the men are gentlemen? Rules seemed to be relaxed for women ...)

The view ... 

What gets you up when you feel down? And have you paid extra for a view? 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

The loneliest mothers ...

Tomorrow morning, mothers around Australia will awake to the sound of clattering plates and the smell of burnt toast.
There will squishy cuddles and vegemite kisses in bed, and if they are lucky, lunches or picnics out. Hand-made presents to photograph, and gifts chosen with love at the school mother’s day school.
Perhaps a sleep in or afternoon nap, and loads of spoiling all around.
Not for me.
I’ll wake alone to an empty house.
No package of gifts, handmade or otherwise, arrived in yesterday’s post. Not even a handmade card.
Seriously. It was like Christmas had been cancelled.
If I’m lucky, I’ll get to talk to my kids by phone or skype, but I’ll have to make sure it’s during the allotted time frame decided by Family Court solicitors earlier this year. If I miss that timeframe, I'll miss out completely.
It's not fair, but it's legal, and it's happening to women (and men) around Australia every single day.
I’m one of the many casualties of divorce, separation and the Family Court farce, which means my children now live interstate.
It’s a situation which means that although I would have been entitled to see my children for a few hours on Mother’s Day, I cannot afford to drive to the nearest airport, fly interstate, hire a car, and pay for accommodation to visit them.
I really thought I had a visit nailed for last weekend. Ironically, I would have been able to see the children longer then, because that was a long weekend in the state where they live, and I would have been legally entitled to spend more time with the kids. But I just couldn’t pull the dollars together.
It’s tough.
I miss my children desperately, and phone calls and skype just don’t cut it.
As any parent separated from their kids know, the special days are the hardest.
Earlier this year, my Facebook feed was full photos of beaming faces and tiny bodies in impossibly large uniforms, as children around Australia started their first days at school.
I didn’t even get a photo of my kids on the day they started school, let alone the chance to share in their big day.
It’s been the same for their birthdays. There was no baking of birthday cakes, just presents sent in the mail and talked about on the phone.
No blowing out of candles or kissing of the closest boy or girl (or even a video of them doing the same).
I didn't even get a photo of them on their birthdays, even though I begged to be sent a few.
I spent a lonely Easter at home, although I'm lucky, I do have family and friends to lean on and I'm grateful for them. They help me through the tough days, but as anyone who suffers depression knows, sometimes you can feel loneliest in a crowd. And sometimes you miss your kids the most when you are surrounded by other children. So family events can be hard.
For once, I didn’t leave a carrot for the Easter bunny and hide eggs for a hunt the next morning. There was no traditional baking of Hot Cross Buns, and ensuing laughter as they turned out either rock hard or flat. (I’m not known for my domestic goddess skills, but I try …)
And this week, in the lead up to Mother’s Day, reading social media posts about school stall present buying, mother’s day morning teas, and plans for the big day have been pretty much heart-breaking.
I’ll admit to being jealous of my friends. Yes, Jealous! 
Envious of photos of smiling mothers next to happy children at school morning teas. Jealous of chat about the hiding of well-chosen presents, and plans for lunches out and high teas. And bereft knowing that there will be no morning cuddles or toast crumbs in bed for me. Only emptiness, heartbreak and guilt.
Guilt that, perhaps if I’d been a better mother, I’d have been able to keep our family together. Perhaps if I’d not been sick so often, I’d be able to afford to see them this weekend. Perhaps if I’d been stronger, I could have fought longer to get them back. Had I even made the right decision in allowing them to live where they are now, even though I was told it was in their best interests at the time?  Even though I believed it was better for everyone to step off the court merry-go-round; for us to all move forward?
I hate that I no longer get to be with my children during the school term. That I'm missing so many milestones of their lives. Hell, I'm even missing the little things. The loose teeth. The freshly-washed smell after showers and before bed. Helping sort out problems with friends or school. Jokes about stinky feet, bums, and farts. 
The fact that my son is now tall enough and thoughtful enough to help around the house and garden. Changing lightbulbs, mowing the lawn. That my daughter loves tidying the bathroom and bedrooms and making them look lovely. That they both love to help with the shopping and preparation of meals.
I'm missing out on so much and on the eve of Mother's Day that loss seems so much keener.
Until recently, it had always been the kids, the pets, and I. A team, a small family unit.  But we made it work, I thought.
Every special day, every milestone, brings back memories of happier times, and previous events.  Every day without them is like a kick in the stomach. Every day is lived feeling like a part of my heart is missing.
Even so, I know I’m one of the lucky ones.
I’m lucky to have my kids in my life,  however that time is allocated.
There are mothers who have lost their children, and will never get to hug them again. Ever. I can’t imagine how parents get through days like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, birthdays and all the special occasions.
There are those whose children are ill or injured, and who would give anything for their Mother’s Day gift to be a doctor to say: ‘They’re going to be okay.’
There are women who are sick themselves, who would give the world to be told they have been cured.
And there are children - young and old - who will be missing their own mums tomorrow. 
There are women too, who want desperately to have children. And who are trying, via every means, even if they are expensive and invasive methods. And who have suffered many losses whilst trying. And I know that Mother's Day is a day that breaks their hearts. 
I am so aware of all that.
Despite my own grief, I’m blessed to have shared so much time with my kids, and to have a special bond with them.
So although tomorrow is going to suck Big Time for me, there are always going to be special occasions, and in any case, I miss my kids every day. Not just on Mother’s Day.
So, just like on every other day, I just have to get on with it.
I have to make the best of every day, pull on my Big Girl Panties, and make my kids proud of me.
So I’m focusing on the next time I’ll see them, which will be during the June-July holidays.
We will have a lot to celebrate then.
After all, when you’re a parent, every day can be Mother’s (or Father's) Day. 
For the lucky mums, when you're drinking that milky cup of tea or lukewarm coffee tomorrow, think of the lonely mothers like me. We'll be sitting at home alone, waiting for the time-frame when we can make a phone or skype call. Squeeze your child or children just a little bit harder for a little bit longer. Then put on that handmade pasta necklace or those nana slippers, and wear them with pride for us. Okay? 
Happy Mother's Day x

The last time I saw these two - putting them back onto a plane to the Northern Territory in early January. A mother will do anything for her children  ...

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The crying game

We all get a little sad sometimes ...
But a Japanese hotel is cashing in on the trend by offering special deals for women who need to shed a few tears.
In the lead-up to Mother's Day, when I will spend yet another first milestone event without my not-so-big babies by my side, I seriously need one of those rooms.
They are called Crying Rooms.
I Shit You Not.
The idea is that women need to cry.
(I've got news for the marketing team behind this idea: Men do too. But that's another story).
And that it's good to cry.
And they are right.
Crying releases endorphins.
Crying is getting in touch with our feelings and emotions.
And that's all positive stuff.
Having done a bazillions hours of therapy over the years, I also know that it's really important to have those tears witnessed and acknowledged. Not to mention the fact that if someone is truly depressed, they may need somewhere to go or someone to call during or after their crying experience.
But I believe the designers of this deal have their hearts in the right places.
You see, Tokyo's Mitsui Garden Yotsuya Hotel management believes that crying helps relieve stress, and that women are especially vulnerable.
Each 'crying room' contains a selection of movies, including Forrest Gump and the South Korean heart-tugger, A Moment To Remember. There are manga comics, tipped to make women cry, plus tissues, make-up remover, and steam eye masks.
All this for the bargain price of 10,000 Japanese yen per night (about AUD $106), and available until 31.
I think they better book me in for Mother's Day.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Flip Mum out for Mother's Day

What do you dream of receiving for Mother's Day?

A lazy breakfast in bed? A weekend away with the family (or maybe without)? A snuggly bathrobe?

Chance are it wouldn't be a CD of Elton John or The Seekers, which my friend, writer and Facebook Queen Kerri Sackville found being marketed as Mother's Day presents the other day.

"Coles thinks these are fine Mother's Day gifts," Kerri asked on her Facey page. Are they right?"

The responses were hilarious.

'Only if you live under a rock,' said one woman.
'Dear Coles, get well and truly Fxxd,' wrote another. 
'Oh for the love of God, NO,' said someone else. (Okay, that last one was me.)

One respondent likened the suggested gifts as the equivalent of a Bunnings voucher on her wish list, while another pondered the offerings might be more suitable for the 'other' nana. Snort.

To be fair, a few women did think CDs, even Elton John and The Seekers, would be perfectly acceptable fare to wake up to on Mother's Day. And after all, it's the thought that counts.

This year, I'll be on my own for the big day and would do anything to get the traditional breakfast in bed.

My kids are actually great cooks, so I wouldn't even have to suffer burnt toast and milky coffee. And they are usually pretty good as sussing out the kind of things I like as well.

But for those who are struggling for gift ideas, be wary of dodgy marketing. (Unless Mum really does like Elton John or The Seekers. My friends and I are more Planet Funk, Sia, Ladyhawke, Lady Gaga, and LMFAO kind of girls).

So instead of slippers, bath robes, and CDs, here are a few ideas that won't cost the earth ...

Cuddle time
Sure she used to read to you, but when was the last time you read to Mum? Find a favourite story book, kick back and read to your mother for a change.
Or if you're too grown up to read the woman who gave you life a story, how about organising a doona day, where after breakfast in bed, you spend a lazy day reading the papers or your favourite novels, watching DVDs (or Netflix), and hanging out together. (And if you're cooking breakfast, don't forget to clean up afterwards ...)

 Last year, I got a sleep-in, breakfast in bed, and lots of cuddle time 

Let's not mention that the kitchen looked like this afterwards ... 

Pack a picnic
Mums love high tea, brunch and bubbles, but if finances are tight there's nothing wrong with organising a DIY version. Pack a hot chicken and bread rolls, get an adult to buy some of her favourite wine, and go on a picnic. You don't have to go far. A nearby park, beach or waterfall is ideal, but we've even had some fun outdoor lunches in our own backyard.

Picnics don't have to be fancy. We met up with some friends at our local park for this one, and the furry babies came too. Perfect

Think outside the square
It's not that Mums don't love slippers and fluffy robes, it's just that, well - we still feel young on the inside. Most of the women I know, including those who have produced small humans, still love to feel alive. That means we like to go ice-skating, swimming, dancing, rock-climbing, and to look as hot as we possibly can, as much as you do. (Sorry if it's TMI or embarrassing, but there it is).

Mumma gets snakey in the Northern Territory ...

So discount sites that offer vouchers for makeovers or even better, experiences that we can enjoy with you, are at the top of our list.

If money is an object, don't worry. One of my favourite Mother's Day gifts was a book of coupons my son made one year. It included vouchers for things like: 'One night of doing homework without complaining', and 'one cooked breakfast in bed on a weekend'. It was awesome.

And one of my favourite gifts from my daughter was last year, when she held a 'spa day' for me after breakfast. She ran a bath, containing her own mix of relaxing potions and bubbles. There was a glass of juice on the side, and I was given the latest book I was reading to enjoy. Candles were lit and the door was closed while I was allowed to relax for as long as I liked. A pedicure followed, (complete with foot massage), then a manicure and facial. Perfection.

And finally, along the theme of gifts that Mums will treasure, here comes a giveaway...

Help Mum Flip Out On Mother's Day
Trampolining isn't just for kids - at least not if you head out to one of Australia's leading indoor trampolining centres, a Flip Out arena. With centres in 36 locations and counting, Flip Out arenas have no height or weight restrictions. So that means everyone in the family can bounce, jump and flip to their hearts' content.
What I love is that trampolining is actually good for us, especially women. The stability required helps build bone density, reducing the risk of osteoporosis (important for Mums as we age), and it's great for building neural synapses and pathways too (slowing down the effects of ageing). Not to mention, exercise releases endorphins and bouncing is fun. So it makes us happy. (Great for kicking depression to the footpath).
If Mum really gets into it, there are classes for adults. Why should kids have all the fun?
I'm disappointed there aren't any arenas in Queensland or the Northern Territory yet, but I'm told, it's only a matter of time.

If you'd like to treat Mum and the family to an outing at a Flip Out centre, check that there is a location near you, then leave a comment below sharing the funniest thing your Mum has ever flipped out about.
I have two lots of four one-hour passes to give away. Entry is only open to Australian residents and close at 5 pm on May 3.

If all else fails, a nice cup of tea always goes down well. Happy Mother's Day everyone.

The competition has closed and the winners are Fabulousandfunlife and MitchVee. Congratulations! Please contact me so we can send out your prizes. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Darwin Military Museum: Lest We Forget

As we approach Anzac Day, I thought it would be a good time to post about a poignant experience I had when I visited Darwin last year.

As a guest of Tigerair and NT Australia, I was part of a handful of bloggers and travel writers taken on a whistlestop tour of the Top End to celebrate Tigerair's inaugural flight from Brisbane to Darwin.

Now to be honest, a visit to a war museum wouldn't have been on the top of my holiday list. In fact, if I hadn't been part of a tour group, I probably wouldn't have even known there was a war museum in Darwin. (Don't judge me. I was expecting crocodiles and waterfalls. Not that there is anything wrong with that.) 

But there is. It's the Darwin Military Museum. And in fact, it was a very moving highlight of my trip.

Now, I know Anzac Day is traditionally known as the day when we remember those brave souls who served during the Gallipoli campaign - particularly those who lost their lives. However, it has come to represent those Australians who have served and/or been killed during World War 2 and other military activity, and the museum highlights this very well. 

One of the reason's I think that the Darwin Military Museum is so compelling is that, like so many good ideas, it was never actually a government initiative.

Instead, local Lieutenant Colonel Jack Haydon decided to do something about preserving the city's wartime history and with the help of members of the NT branch of the Royal Australian Artillery Association, began collecting memorabilia from within Australia and the world.

Partly housed in the original command past used by the army to control massive 9.2 inch guns nearby, the museum sprawls across tropical grounds, with inside and outside displays of memorabilia from Australian military activity, including Vietnam and the Boer wars.

The mix of military hardware and virtual reality means there is something for all ages, even youngsters. Or those, like me, who may initially have thought the subject of war was a bit serious for a tourism itinerary. I quickly changed my mind. 

Of course, the focus is on World War 2 and the bombing of Darwin, which was never taught in schools when I was a child. (I know this is not just due to my poor memory. I've asked other people of my age group and they say they same. We were told the closest Australia ever came to war was the Japanese approaching the harbour).

Australia's equivalent of Pearl Harbour occured in Darwin on February 1942, but was just the first of many raids on the city and the Top End.

At the museum, video, oral recordings, photographs, maps and actual equipment are used to show how many casualties there were during WW2 - civilians included. (Numbers are still being debated). I don't mind admitting it brought tears to my eyes to think of innocent lives being lost, of women and children being evacuated while males, some in their teens. were left to fight and deal with the carnage. 

We're told that Japanese submarines were in Darwin Harbour long before the rest of Australia were aware of it, and there were many similarities between the bombing of Pearl Harbour and Darwin. Although, Darwin was attacked strategically, and less civilian lives were of course, lost. But the population was less to start with, and the geography was different as well. Anyway, there's more on all of that if you visit the museum, or even their website

The highlight of my visit was the Defence of Darwin Experience, which recreates the bombing of Darwin and how ineffectual our response was. To see how much suffering and destruction was caused, and how close Australia came to a full-on invasion, was just eye-opening.

Since my visit, the museum has even more artefacts and memorabilia, including a WW1 display, where visitors can dress up a digger and have their photo taken behind a WW1 machine gun.

In the centenary year of Gallipoli, the Darwin Military Museum is something every Australian should see. 

And at the same time, it reminds us of the importance of honouring those brave Aussies who are still involved in military activity. The sacrifices they make are inconceivable. 

Lest We Forget 

Maid In Australia was a guest of Tigerair and NT Tourism on a familiarisation tour of Darwin and surrounds, which included a visit to the Darwin Military Museum. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Are we bored yet? (And a beastly giveaway...)

It’s that time of the school holidays where tempers start getting frazzled and humans start bouncing off the walls. 

There are never-ending cries of: ‘I’m bored’ and complaints that there is never anything fun to do around here. Ever.

And I’m just talking about the adults.

This is where Maid In Australia comes to the rescue.

I’ve come up with a few tricks to try at home and beyond, and there should be something here for kids of all ages. Yes, even the fussiest.

And if you look carefully, there are a few freebies and giveaways as well.

Tinker with it
Firstly, the movies. There are loads to choose from during the school holidays, but what small child (or inner child) would not be thrilled by the latest instalment of Disney’s much-loved Tinker Bell classic?

“Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast” explores the  ancient myth of a fabled creature whose distant roar sparks the curiosity of Tinker Bell’s good friend Fawn (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin).
Anyone who loves Tinker Bell, will know Fawn is an animal fairy who’s not afraid to break the rules to help an animal in need.
But this animal—massive and strange with glowing green eyes—is not really welcome in Pixie Hollow, and the scout fairies are determined to capture the mysterious beast before it destroys their home.
Fawn, who sees a tender heart beneath his gruff exterior, must convince Tink (voiced by Mae Whitman) and the girls to risk everything to rescue the NeverBeast before time runs out. 

Thanks to the lovely people at Disney we have five family passes to “Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast” to giveaway. (It’s rated G). To enter, leave a comment below, and answer the question: Would you break the rules for a beast in need?
Oh and you can watch the trailer here:

Face up to it
This next one is just for Queenslanders aged 12-25 years, aged 12 to 25 years. To celebrate National Youth Week, any Queenslander in that age group with a story to share about volunteering can score a sweet phone case with their face on it.
Fill in the form, hit "share my story" and the peeps at National Youth Week will send you your phone case and share your story in their Volunteer Gallery.  You might even see yourself on the National Youth Week home page or on their social media accounts!
If you are aged under 18 years, get your parent or guardian's permission to enter.
Thinking about volunteering? Visit the Volunteering Queensland website for more information and to search for opportunities.

Game on

My kids are gamers, and if yours are too, great news: The Pokémon Video Game Championship Series is back!

That means the search for Australia and New Zealand's best Pokémon Trainers is on!
If you enjoy Pokémon Video Games and want to meet other Pokémon fans, then come along and join in the fun at one of the events taking place in Australia and New Zealand.
In previous years in Australia and New Zealand, players competed at regional championship events and top finishers were awarded travel awards to the national competition, where they could compete for qualification and travel awards to the world championships. (I know: Who knew there were world championships in these things?)

In the 2015 season, players will be able to compete in more events than ever as the series expands with the introduction of Premier Challenge Tournaments and championship points that build toward coveted world championships invitations and travel awards to the Pokémon Video Game World Championships held in Boston, in August! All expenses paid.
That's right parents, your child's obsession with all things Pokemon could pay off.
Games days are being held around Australia and New Zealand, starting in Brisbane on Saturday, April 11. Yep, this weekend. 
All the details are here! Entry is free, but terms and conditions apply, and kids under the age of 15 need a parents' consent and an adult to accompany them on the day.
All the games day are really kid and teen-friendly, and there are helpers if kids get lost or overwhelmed – and plenty of prizes throughout the event.  All competitors get a special lanyard and card just for being there. 

Go For Broke
Lastly, don't forget to check out your community for local festivals and events, like A Little Bit Of Italy In Broke. (Don't forget I have a giveaway running for a $120 hamper of giveaways if you can't get to Broke in the Hunter Valley for that one!).

Or Bollywood Baby

Close to home, in Kingaroy, Queensland, an Indian couple are putting on the region's first Bollywood evening.
The innovative pair, who took over the town's Singh's Royal Cuisine restaurant seven months ago, decided to give the South Burnett region a taste of Bollywood on Sunday, April 12. Restaurant co-manager Sandy says, there will be traditional Indian street or stall food on offer, as well as the usual menu. 
Bollywood movies, with English subtitles, will be screened during the evening. A traditional Indian beauty therapist, Meena, will be travelling from Brisbane for the evening to attend to the beauty needs of women of the South Burnett.
Eyebrow and facial threading will be on offer, as well as creative henna designs, at a small additional charge.
How about that? A taste of Bollywood in the South Burnett.

Enjoy your holidays - and watch this space for more ideas and more giveaways. And if you like Tinker Bell - or Beasts - don't forget to enter the Disney competition.

Entries close at 5 pm AEST on April 16, 2015, and is open to Australian residents only. 

The competition has ended and the winners are: Mitchvee, Kelly, Lorraine, Tegan, and Stephanie Prendergast. Please get in touch with your addresses via my Facebook page so we can send out your passes.