THIS IS A PERSONAL POST AND MOST OF THE PHOTOS WERE TAKEN USING MY IPHONE 5S.
We hadn’t originally made any plans to visit Singapore last year, but when Scoot airlines (Singapore Airlines’ low-cost subsidiary) announced their launch into Perth and their super cheap introductory airfares we knew we’d have to act fast to snap up the super-bargains. Kids seats were being offered at $33 each way and adults at $89 each way. We have wonderful friends living there with a couple of spare rooms so within 15 mins of the airline’s announcement on Facebook, we were booked!
Stu and I visited our friends Dirk & Marilyn in Singapore a couple of years back and had the time of our lives. We knew this time going with three kids and with our hosts now having two littlies of their own, would be a slightly different experience but we wanted to do it all!
It was WONDERFUL! Our boys seem to have reached an age where all of a sudden it’s so much easier to travel with them.
We departed at 7:30 pm and since we had cheap tickets, there was no food, drink or entertainment provided. We took iPads with pre-loaded movies, snacks, and our own snuggle blankets and bottles of water. Our youngest, Lucas (6) has always been a great sleeper and was exhausted and happy to go to sleep. He struggled at first, but happily donned his blow up neck pillow and sleep mask, got cosy cuddled up to his trusty gigantic bear Oscar and within 10 minutes nodded off. Middle guy, Oliver (9) had little naps but was frequently woken up by passengers inadvertently pressing the call buttons on their armrests that continued to “ding dong” loudly non-stop throughout a large chunk of the flight. SUPER annoying! (This didn’t happen on the way back, thankfully). Jacques (12) didn’t sleep a wink and watched movies and played cricket games on his iPad the whole time.
We arrived at our friends’ home at 2am, which was about an hour later than we anticipated thanks to long lines to get through immigration and then again at the taxi queue. Stu & I both recently both upgraded to iPhone 5s and although I continued with the same Telstra account number and phone number, apparently you need to activate GLOBAL ROAMING for the actual phone. Poor Marilyn was up worrying and we couldn’t text or call to say we were in the cab! Lesson learned. Luckily Telstra activated it pretty quickly after an online chat via wifi.
Happily the kids slipped straight into bed and nodded off to sleep, as did we. Felt SO good to lay flat.
When everyone was up a few hours later, Jacques suggested we visit Bugis markets (recommended by a friend of his) so he could get some sunnies and we could find lunch. The $1 cups of fruit juice (I loved the lime) were a hit and the kids discovered “crispy crepes”, which are exactly what you think. It was as if someone had made a crepe but left it on the plate a bit too long and it got crispy. It’s then smeared with toppings of choice (chocolate & any other thing imaginable. Chocolate & cheese stuck out) and folded up ready to eat. When I asked Oli if there was anything in particular he would like to look for, he melted my heart by saying “All I want is to find a souvenir to take home for Oma”. We looked at quite a few vendors and he found the perfect thing. A solar-powered chinese waving cat for good luck!
With Chinese New Year about 2 weeks away, the markets were brimming with brightly coloured good luck decorations – fluorescent giant orange paper fold-out pineapples lanterns my favourite.
In the afternoon, we were a bit “thirsty” and The British Club was the perfect spot to quench. It seems taxis and road transportation laws in Singapore are a little different to what we’re used to. The front of the car is sacred. Definitely only a driver and a single passenger and seat-belts are essential. In the back of the car, pretty much anything goes. If you can physically shut the door hard enough that it clicks shut, any amount of pressure against the doors from that point on, from say, a whole lot of squished together sweaty bodies, doesn’t really raise an eyebrow. Getting a taxi to come on short notice was nearly impossible some days so we decided to just all get in one car. I remember Dirk laughing to himself at how much money we wasted at home on a 7 seater Volvo, when no less than 8 of us got out of their Mitsubishi Lancer on arrival at The British Club. Even funnier was how Dirk’s loose estimate of it being a 5 minute car ride to our destination was more like 35.
Anyhow, we really felt like our holiday kicked off when we ordered Margaritas (including my first try of Mango flavour – OK, but will stick to traditional) delivered poolside as we swam and the kids feasted on Club sandwiches and French Fries. Hours of fun, chatting and watching the kids swimming and water sliding. 100% Relax guaranteed.
Since it was double birthday boy’s Pirate party eve, there was still a lot of preparation for the next day to be done. Marilyn spent hours painstakingly icing a stunning chocolate cake she’d cleverly whipped up from scratch earlier in the day. She’s French and when it comes to anything sweet, nothing less than perfection will do. She amazed me with her patience and attention to detail, particularly as 5 boys were blowing up balloons and volley balling them all around her. I needed a drink to steady my nerves just watching her.
Furniture was moved to make way for delivery of a bouncy castle coming in the morning, balloons (what were thought to be black and red when blown up, much to Marilyn’s amusement turned out to be purple & pink). And just like that the party had a new theme – Gay Pride Pirate party.
D&M’s boys’ birthdays are quite close together and they decided a combined party would be perfect since they were overseas for one of the boy’s birthdays. They boys were 5 & 2 so the excitement was fever pitch.
The bouncy castle arrived perfectly on time at 9am and fifteen minutes later was filled boys “testing” it out. Dirk & Stu had collected what seemed like hundreds of Pain au Chocolate from Singapore’s well known Boulangerie and Patisserie Paul and a plethora of other tasty morsels were spread out over tables ready to be demolished by the hungry sprockets. The kids came, they partied hard and most of them left. A few quality grown ups hung out for the whole day just chillin`. D&M really know how to host kids parties. At 10am when boring people offer tea or coffee to the parents, Dirk brought out the first bottle of a total of 8 litres of Rum punch (cleverly disguised as Berri Pink Guava) he’d masterfully prepared the day before. If there’s one way to cope with a bunch of rowdy kids, sipping on 30% Rum punch is certainly up there with my fave so far. They say you should always make sure you drink in-between alcoholic beverages, so Dirk made sure we had some refreshing jello-Vodka shots to cleane the palette in between plastic cups of punch. Little tip for next time, might be not a bad idea to serve the rum in cups that a different colour to the kid’s REAL fruit juice! All kids were breathalysed prior to being allowed to drive their parents home, so no harm done.
A visit to Singapore isn’t complete without an indulgent Sunday brunch. On our sans kid visit previously we went to the Raffles and it was one of the most memorable meals of my life. The food was out of this world and we ate and drank to the point of almost having to be stretchered out of the place. The bonus is there’s a gorgeous Leica store right next door!
This time after much research (thanks Marilyn!), we decided on The W. It was a little cheaper for the kids (we could not justify close to $100 for a breadstick and 2 forkfuls of pasta). And the added benefit was the pool. Where they typically charge $50 per person for non-hotel guests, if two adults purchased the French Champagne breakfast (mad if you don’t), we were allowed free use of the pool. What a marvellous way to digest and relax. There were waterfalls and different depths in the gigantic pool with a swim up bar at one end. Lots of comfy banana lounges to relax on and while away the hours.
Another tough morning spent with M at the British Club swimming and relaxing and a tasty lunch to fuel up for a busy afternoon. In the late afternoon we opted for a bit of touristy action and took the boys on the Duck Boat tour which is an amphibious vehicle. Quite bizarre hogging out some of the main streets then going down a little ramp straight into the river. The kids LOVED it. The tour guide was super friendly and happy to share lots of interesting facts about the various buildings and sites of Singapore for about an hour. We then took the free shuttle bus to the Singapore Flier. It’s most economical to purchase combined tickets for various activities at once. It takes half an hour to do a full circle. We were blown away by the view. I highly recommend taking it at around dusk. It was stunning to see the changing colour of the sky and see the pretty city lights. After the kids were in bed we ended the day with a stroll around China Town (buzzing!) and a scrumptious dinner at one of our friends’ faves Italian place Lateria Mozzarella I had the truffle & smoked mozzarella risotto which was to die for!
We wanted to show the boys the Miranda Bay Sands hotel. Although even with a map and a compass it’s difficult to negotiate your way around the inside of the place, it is just one of the most amazing pieces of architecture I’ve ever seen. I can’t stop staring at it in awe and wishing I could have been there at the table supping cognac with the genius who came up with the concept of it’s design. To think what what must have been going through their head (s). Awe inspiring.
Anyhow, it’s now much harder to sneak into the pool area since they restricted the infinity pool use to guests only. So we did the next best thing and had brunch on the top (57th) floor. Enjoying the view with all you can eat bacon made the boys extremely pleased! With tummies full and all coffeed out, we went on our journey to explore the Gardens by the Bay. It was a lovely little stroll from the hotel. We walked through the weird fake tree things and spent some relaxing time wondering around the two domes. They were both beautifully cool one with it’s own spectacular waterfall. When our legs were a little tired, we had a little sit by the water play area. We didn’t know about it as I think it only just opened the day before we got there so even with no appropriate bathers, the boys had a quick run around the sprinklers to cool off.
Not long after we got home, Marilyn was having one of those one chance in a million sneaky naps upstairs when we were contacted on iPad chat by Cynthia, another special friend in Singapore that she needed to speak with Marilyn urgently. I could tell that something was seriously wrong. A horrendously unbelievable thing had happened. The father of their 5 year old’s son’s best friend, and their close friend Tom had died suddenly of a heart-attack. He was just 37 years old. It was shocking and there were a lot of tears and the painful task of having to give the news to a sweet five year old.
We had lots of talk about the ensuring we continue to value the important things in life and we never know what lies ahead in our life journey. With the situation feeling very surreal and everyone in a bit of a daze, we decided to end the day with the lot of us going to dinner at PS Cafe where the food was delectable and the place overflowing with ambience. The kids were a little tired (as we all were) so we grabbed dessert to go. It was impossible to not order it. I’ve never seen such temptations and talk about HUGE servings! By the time everyone got home, everybody was too full to eat it and just too emotionally drained. Tomorrow would be a new day and cake and coffee would be the perfect breakfast.
We’d saved what we believed would be a trip highlight for the kids `til last. I knew it was there but didn’t have any personal desire to visit, but Universal Studios turned out to be super fun for all of us! It opens at 10am and we aimed to be there for that but were a little late due to a long wait for a taxi. I was really surprised how much fun Stuart & I had (I knew the kids would). Tip: what MADE the day were the express unlimited tickets we purchased. It added another $50 per person to the price but it meant that we could all go on any of the rides as many times as we wanted going straight to the front of the queue. Some rides had queues of approximately an hour and there is no way we would have had nearly as much fun if most of the day was spent waiting in line with kids. Seems a little elitist, but I would seriously say for this type of thing, it’s all or nothing.
Tip: We had heard that the “The Mummy” ride is quite lame and perfect for little kids. What we didn’t know was there was a second “The Mummy” ride which we happily let our scaredy-cat super-sensitive hyper-sensory overload-effected child go on. It was hidden inside a giant tomb from view. I’m pretty sure with another 12 months of therapy, he will have recovered from the super-fast cork-screwing backwards IN THE FREAKIN` DARK roller coaster ride. Oopsie.
Overall though: “BEST DAY EVER” was the unanimous verdict. I won’t go into details of the rest of the rides as most of the fun is in the element of surprise. Unlike other fun parks where the rides are TOO scary or TOO lame, I just loved these all as they were more “experiences” than just rides designed to shake & spin the living beejuzus out of you.
To say when we got back to the ranch we were shattered is an understatement. Lucas loves fried rice and had got Marilyn to promise him some on his last night, so we all happily stayed in and enjoyed some French champagne and each other’s company for the last time in……..who knows?
A normal work / school day for our Singaporean friends, we bid them adieu packed up our stuff and crammed into a taxi home bound. God bless my parents who picked us all up from the airport, drove us home and cooked us a good old fashioned Aussie BBQ and let us eat and run home to bed.
Dirk & Marilyn, we really really really enjoyed our time with you. We were a little apprehensive about staying with our three boys and if you would survive our invasion of your home for a whole week but I think overall we did OK! Your hospitality, your chauffeuring us all about and the trouble you went to with making us all so comfortable as well as buying enough gluten free goodies to feed me for a year blew me away. We thank you ever so much for allowing us all to stay. To us it was a super-big deal and we loved every moment. It was so special getting to know your boys a little bit better and having our kids play together like cousins and getting to be a part of their birthday celebrations, well the bits that I remember
We love spending time with you, laughing at your stories and being energised by your zest and passion for living life to the full, no matter what. When I look at these pictures of our week, your Joie de Vivre comes through my screen and it’s as if we’ve just popped another bottle. Miss you and can’t wait to see you again, wherever that may be. xxxx
Finally getting around to posting pics from our holiday in August last year (2012), which was 10 nights in stunning Queenstown.
Stu, the boys, my folks, my brother and I decided to go skiing. We booked about eight months in advance, at which time two of the boys immediately packed their bags with all their “necessities” for the holiday. Things like Beyblades, inflatable rockets, fifteen keyrings, nine old mobile phones and a rock collection.
From what I had seen and heard, I had high expectations of a great time and a gorgeous location, but it was above and beyond beautiful and exceeded all expectations.
I’m usually a tropical island, read a magazine around the pool, have an afternoon massage and a siesta kind of girl on holidays, but with three sons, their idea of fun has to be foremost in the vacation decision making process. We wanted to visit a destination with lots to do, snow to play with (not something available in Perth!), not too far away and not too expensive (perfect timing thanks to our NZ $1.30 to the Aus $1) and Queenstown ticked all the boxes.
Our accommodation was fantastic in every way. We stayed in a 4 bedroom penthouse at The Glebe Apartments, which was very central to everything we needed. We could walk to the centre of town, the local supermarket, a pub right across the road, panoramic views to die for, fire place, under-floor heating, big comfy beds, loads of space, huge gourmet kitchen, spa bath , drying room for wet ski gear etc etc.
Highlights were: the luge, a flight to and cruise around Milford Sound, K-Jet boat ride around Lake Wakatipu, Shotover Jetboat ride, Skiing at Cardrona, Coronet Peak & The Remarkables. Cardrona was by far our favourite place. We’ll never forget how much fun we had there – and I feel it was the most friendly place for small children.
Anyhow, a lot of people commented on a few pics I placed on facebook, hence I have a tonne of photos below for anyone interested.
If you’re thinking of visiting Queenstown for a family holiday, I highly recommend it.
PLEASE NOTE: A bunch of these photos were taken by my husband and sons using point & shoot cameras! Some are by me with my Canon 5dii and Fujifilm x100 – you will probably be able to tell which are which!
The flight went really well and the boys handled it beautifully. They each had ipad or ipods, although we managed to lose one before even leaving Perth airport! Five year olds aren’t meant to have ipods!!! Anyhow, that was the only thing that went wrong so we’re stoked. There are 2 routes to Queenstown from Perth, either via Melbourne to Queenstown or from Perth to Auckland and then on to Queenstown. We opted via Auckland as I was hoping the boys would get a decent sleep on that longer run. It was OK, but the 4 hour wait in Auckland wasn’t pleasant after a night with no sleep, for me anyhow. I’d still probably go that way again if given the choice.
This first image was taken at the top of the luge and was my first attempt at using the stitching feature on my Fujifilm x100. Not brilliant, but you can see how beautiful it is. Not really much snow to be seen though!
When we arrived at our accommodation, we were delighted! It was just as beautiful as the pictures we saw online. We were all over the moon. The cold fresh air was immediately revitalising and gave us an energy boost to find a good pub for lunch, (the perfect one was just over the road!). We were able to walk to all facilities, apart from ski fields which required a bus ride of between 30 – 90 mins depending on which destination. Just below Lucas is standing on our balcony pointing to the hill with the gondala and Luge at the top, which we also walked to a couple of times. The temperature was cold, but not as cold as I’d imagined. I’d say approx 10 degrees on average in the township. There were fabulous restaurants and great coffee too.
Jacques is such a bookworm and sat on the comfy lounge in front of the fire chillaxing. You can see below the stunning view from the apartment and also the sweet cupcakes, that were a gift from our hotel! How extraordinary! Such a nice touch we really appreciated looking at them….for 5 seconds before we wolfed em down! Hence a photo.
The pic below of the boys in the cafe is such a funny memory. They quickly coloured in their placemats and held them up against the glass window indicating to passers by they needed to vote whose was the best. So many obliging people pointed to one or the other which resulted in a raucous applause or boooooing inside at our booth. Great way to kill time whilst waiting to fuel up for another big day.
I adore this moment below when my Dad got Lucas to pose for a photo in front of The Remarkables so he could get an “awesome” Blackberry shot!. This comes days after him refusing to be in any photos I wanted to take! A couple of rows down you can see the boys walking with their gloves dangling. My Mum kindly made a string that is attached to both gloves and threads through the jacket sleeves, so that when they take them off, they just dangle and don’t end up getting lost! GENIUS! She grew up in Holland, so I think it was the done thing back in the day. Note also the little Orange Caravan. You can get crepes & coffee there. The most spectacular views!
We did the KJet and also Shotover Jet. I think the KJet was better value – you got a much longer ride, but the Shotover experience was well worth it, for the excitement of riding so fast and so close to the ravine. Thrilling and all the boys loved both rides very much. The driver (or is it a pilot?) several times will lift his hand and with pointed finger, swivel it around indicating it’s time for a full-speed 360 degree turn. You gotta hold on tight and check that your five year old hasn’t flown out! That was freaking cold and I’d highly recommend wearing gloves if you’re in the winter season. The bar to hold onto is heated, I think but still. At the end of the Kjet ride you can spend a few minutes looking at the fish underwater in a custom built viewing room (where you can also purchase photos taken by the KJet staff if desired).
You will notice my mum in the pink jacket in the middle above. She blew us all away by skiing like a crazy woman, and I mean it when I say that as on our first day she lost control on an icy run and went crazy. Apart from that, she did all of this the week before a total hip replacement. When she was in pain, she’d say “I’ll just pop a couple of Advils and do another run!” I suppose if anything went wrong, the logic was she was getting a new hip anyhow? Total legend! Much to Lucas’ disappointment though, the dodgy hip did prevent her riding the toboggan with him. And when visiting his Oma in hospital in recovery straight after surgery, before the sleepy meds had worn off totally, he asked her if she was now fit to go toboganning!
About a year ago, by accident, I came across a facebook page Isla’s Fight with High Risk ALL I read the “about” section written by Isla’s mum and with tears in my eyes, went to my kids’ beds as they slept and hugged them extra tight. Blessed with three healthy children, I am reminded by the plight of parents like Sharon, Isla’s mum, to count my blessings. So many children are dealt horrible blows like this and brave their way through such dramatic, physically draining and emotionally exhausting treatments in an attempt to be well again. My heart goes out to them all and to their families. I prey for a cure for cancer and for extra strength to those children and families doing it tough.
I feel so happy that triumphant Isla enjoyed her special birthday party with great gusto, enveloped by a huge bunch of family and friends who showered her with love…..and gifts! The fabulous services of Candy Couture and Parties Wishes Kids Parties Perth were kindly donated and added that extra touch to make her day even more special, enhancing her chosen theme of Angelina Ballerina.
Unlike the photos of Isla suffering through her treatment, it was so delightful to see her smile like every child deserves on their birthday.
Happy Birthday to you, brave Isla!
Here are a few photos of her special day.
Just a little note that I don’t offer birthday party photography as a service at the moment. I documented her party as my gift to Isla’s family.
If you are here, you are awesome! Thank you for hanging in there, even with this dog’s breakfast of a blogsite I have under construction. I love this colour scheme / style and will do my best to fix all the links and update my galleries as fast as I can.
I couldn’t wait to finish it properly and then relaunch it as having a half baked bloggie, was better than then woefully drab blog I had previously.
I have deliberately booked my shooting calendar to be light the last few weeks, for a few reasons. Firstly, I wanted to dedicate a bit more time to get my children settled into school, I did some more training, I held another DSLR Beginners workshop and VERY importantly, I needed a breather to work on the boring business side of things after a ridiculously crazy end to my year, in which I really didn’t have time to enjoy Christmas at all!.
I’ve spent the last two years, working on improving my photography, lighting, posing, location scouting and editing and am so pleased to be where I want to be in that area, but my paperwork / selling side of things has been in need of improvement! I’ve been shooting my heart out, finding my style, and polishing my editing, receiving mentoring and I mean REALLY learning a lot. Perfecting (if there is ever such a thing – probably not!) editing alone is something I’ve invested 3-4 hours a night in for the best chunk of two years. I’ve officially registered with the Australian Institute of Professional Photographers as an emerging member, and am working on becoming fully accredited within the next few months.
I’ve had a little print price list I’ve been plugging away with, but I know I’d much better service my clients by having Print Collection suggestions, and I’m pleased to say, I’m almost there now! After a drawn out agonising thought process, it’s feeling good and feeling right! I’m in the process of testing software to make selections easier for my clients and am preparing my home studio to make it a special place to visit and feel welcome.
I’ll write another post soon and explain exactly what I do as a photographer and why it’s important to me that client’s understand and have realistic expectations of professional photographers. I love photographing children and families more than doing anything else (the fact I cherish my role as mummy to my children, of course is a given!). I plan to be doing this for the long haul and I am so excited that so many people want me to photograph them and their families. Seriously, I always get all giddy each and every time someone new makes contact with me!
I now need to finalise my print collections so my clients are thrilled and I also make enough to justify me working as hard and with the dedication I have now. If my hourly rate was to be less than the school kids on the checkouts at the local grocery store (and you may be surprised for how many photographers this is sadly the case) I just know I wouldn’t be able to keep doing this. It wouldn’t be fair to my family or me. This would just be an expensive hobby!
So, with all that said, I’m off to catch up on a bit of beauty sleep and let my sub-conscious finish off some more of my pondering.
I am just underwhelmed with this site and have spent WAY TOO many hours of my life researching how to best create a new one. The site I want and totally love desperately and that best represents me and my style and taste is to cost me $4500 with a few months wait if I”m lucky!! I just can’t justify it. It’s money I’d rather invest in more gear / products / continued training!
So bare with me, while I try and organise a happy compromise and I’ll just have to let my photos and client feedback do the talking!
In the meantime to see more recent work, click on the facebook icon on this page.