Holiday o’clock

The family Young are on the road again! Alex and Olivia have driven all the way to Austria arriving in our villa last night. They've unpacked, sorted out the sleeping arrangements and filled the fridge with Reisling, German beer and maybe some food.

Me and Georgia decided that we didn't really need the 13 hour drive, the map reading or the overnight stop along the way. We left the 30 hour play list to the driving buddies and opted to take a very short flight from Stansted to Munich!

Jess and Greg similarly declined travelling by car and took the flight option too. They are taking a flight from Cardiff airport to Munich where we will all meet this afternoon. The driving duo will be there to meet us and take us to our villa. I'm kinda hoping they'll have a sign. I'm sure Alex will be wearing his holiday hat 😜.

Our luggage has gone in the car so we really are travelling very light this morning. I've done all the things on the list the very helpfully Alex left for me. Almost all the things. I'm still working on eating the chocolate biscuits and getting Georgia out of bed.

Looking forward to getting away, chilling out and kicking back a bit. Updates to follow! Apparently there's no wifi in the villa. That'll be interesting.


The long way round 

Our drive from Melbourne to Sydney continues with many great views along the way. The contrast between sheletered, calm beaches and the rugged, craggy coastline was incredible. Most of the beaches were very quiet and unspoilt; it’s easy to see why this is called the Sapphire Coast.

The rocks on the coastline seemed to have changed colour now to an earthy brown. We were treated to spectacular scenes round almost every corner. 

Traditional fishing towns are dotted along the coast. People were fishing with rods and nets at almost every river. We’ve eaten lots of delicious seafood on this holiday especially oysters. 

What struck me as we drove up many winding hill roads through high trees was how green and almost like a rain forest this part of Australia is. You can see from the charred trees and bushes the impact of forest fires over the years. There’s a sense of space in the vast countryside; space to take in and appreciate the views, plants and animals along the way. We’ve spotted kangaroos, black swans and pelicans. Best we don’t mention the flies, mosquitos and creepy crawlies. 

We are very lucky to have had the time to drive this route to Sydney. We could have gone directly in a day but we would have missed so much of this beautiful, immense countryside. Tomorrow will be the last stage of our drive and we will end up in Sydney. We’ll have a bit of time to explore before the merriment of the wedding preparations begin. 

Tall trees and gin tasting 

We left Melbourne to begin our drive to Sydney. We started driving through the Yarra Valley which is renowned as a wine growing region. We stop a few times along the way to stretch our legs and take in the views. 

Spectacular views as we climbed higher through twisty roads which often became dirt tracks. The trees were incredibly high and ancient. Hopefully you can get an idea of the scale from Georgia in the photo. The smell of the forest was glorious and helped by the rain fall. 

We stopped at a chocolate place {disappointing as it was just a glorified shop}, a cheese place, a local winery and a gin place. Thd drive after this was much quieter 🤣. 

After a bit of a long drive, we were all glad to drive at Lakes Enterance. It was late and raining so we didn’t do much. This is the view of Lakes Entrance from our hotel room before we left. 

Melbourne Christmas 

We’ve spent a lovely few days with my sister and her family in Melbourne. We spent some time exploring Melbourne which is a beautiful and interesting city full of parks, museums and good restaurants. Plenty to keep us amused for a while.

We took my niece to see the annual spectacle that is Myers Christmas window. We didn’t mind standing in the queue for us all to see a Christmas story by a local author come to life behind the windows. The sun was shining and a jazz band was playing so it really wasn’t too difficult 😎.

One of my favourite trips so far as been a visit to a penguin conservation centre in Philip Island. It was quite an adventure getting there as we took a ferry then a bit of a drive. Every night in summer as the sun sets a group of up to a few thousand penguins come out of the water and onto the beach at Philip Island. They then waddle up the path to their burrows on the island. It was a spectacular sight watching the little groups huddle together and almost comically run up the path back to their homes. The staff were incredibly knowledgable and more than happy to chat. We were not able to take photos so as not to distrub the penguins and to persevere their  natural habitat.

Christmas Day started early with my 9 year old niece most excited about Santa’s arrival. We then went to St Kilda’s beach for a few hours and had a fantastic time kicking around in the sand. A bit different from our usual Christmas Day with temperatures soaring to 39 degrees. We simply had to stop for ice cream on the drive home. The shop assistant was very patient with us as we struggled to pick our flavours. 

The rest of the day was a pretty typical occasion with much food and merriment. The games of uno and monopoly definately brought out the competitive streak in some family members. No names to protect the innocent 😉.

The next few days were spent visiting Melbourne and basically chilling out. We particularly enjoyed the Botanical gardens and the Shrine of Rememberance. 

We are now driving from Melbourne to Sydney. We’ll take a few days with some over night stops along the way. The scenic route is usually the best!

We are family 

    The main reason for this trip is to travel to Sydney for my nephew’s wedding. We are now off to Melbourne to spend Christmas with my sister and her family. It’s the first time we’ve visited Australia and we are all very excited to see everyone, especially my niece Zoe. 

    This got me thinking about family time and the special bond that I have with those that I spent my formative years. My earliest relationships taught me how to be a daughter, a sister and a friend. Doubtless these experiences developed my character, personality and made me appreciate the qualities that make for long lasting friendships. 

    I have many precious family memories of good times, bad times, funny times and even the most mundane of times. Over the years this has made a strong connection between me, my sister and brother with many shared behaviours and traits. I love that we can share a single word and before we know it, we are transported to a different time laughing as we rush to fill in the details and relive the silliness. I love that we each know the exact narrative of the story complete with added embellishments from many tellings for comic effect. 

    Families are organic, ever changing and growing. Inevitably, some of the original family members are sadly no longer with us. I am extremely blessed to have my own precious family now. At the last count I have one husband, three beautiful daughters, three brother in laws (and their gorgeous wives) and countless nieces and nephews. The latest addition will be Sophie when her and Jack get married in a few weeks time. Greg, Jessica’s boyfriend, has officially passed phase one of the Young’s initiation test by putting up with us all for a week.

    Then there’s my surrogate family of friends that I spend most of my daily life with. These are the people who see me at my most authentic self. Some of you I don’t get to see all that often any more. Some of you are on-line friends. At times, it can be easier to share things with people that aren’t directly part of my life.  Chances are if you are reading this, you fall into one of the above categories and are important, cherished and loved by me. 

    No matter how you found yourself  in my life, my friends have become my extended family and are treasured and loved for their friendship, loyalty and support. You are the ones that I share my every day stuff with, the regular highs and lows. You are the family that I have chosen for myself. 

    I am extremely glad that you are all part of my family; of the memories that we already have and the ones we will continue to make together.  

    We are family. 

    Island days 

    We’ve had an action packed few days in Hong Kong. No trip would have been complete without a trip (or two!) on the star ferry to Hong Kong island and the tram to The Peak. 

    We had an amazing time looking at the views of the harbour from very high above in the skyline. Photos to follow. Having opted for the easy way up,  it would have been rude not to investigate the footpath down complete with close up views of the landmarks we’d been looking at from the other side of the harbour.  The incline was steep in places although well worth the glimpse we had of the ridiculously high rised buildings. We were ready for our well earned drink in the bar at the bottom and glad to sit down. I’m not sure if any of us sampled the monkey nuts that were on the table. There were plenty of discarded shells on the floor so I suppose they were popular with the previous customers.

    Me and Alex spent today on Lamma Island, a quaint little fishing village just a short ferry trip away from our hotel.  Peaceful hilltop walks, ancient temples and stunning beaches made a welcome change from the hussle of Hong Kong itself. 

    The end of our walk was a village with many seafood restaurants all serving the catch of the day. After hearing the story for years, I finally got to see prawns as big as Alex’s hands. Think we may have had a few for lunch 😋.

    The girls and Greg decided to go to a theme park for the day. They had a fabulous time enjoying the thrills and excitement of the rides. Georgia got to make friends with a crocodile or two in the animal park. They safely found their way back to the hotel feeling tired and hungry. We’ve yet to find out what took so long to get back – I detect they have have got a little lost. 

    Hong Kong is a city full of buzz, activity and interesting things to see. Evening time is a great time to explore the markets and wander through the busy streets. 

    Tomorrow is our last day here before we head back to the airport to get our night flight to Melbourne for the next stage of our adventure. 

    Sunday Sunday 

    As predicted, our Sunday morning began around 4 am when I awoke from about 3 hours sleep. Think I may have written a half asleep blog around then 😝. 

    Even though it was still dark and cold, I sat outside on our balcony for a while. I quickly gave up that idea and went back to bed. I did manage to sleep a bit more before I was rudely awoken by our hotel phone ringing. It gave me such a shock that I barely knew how to answer it. *Insert here first time my office phone rang, T101 gang. Imagine my excitement 🤗

    So off we all trotted for a walking tour of Hong Kong. I suppose I knew it was going to be a mixture of high rise and modern buildings like most cities. And I expect most cities aren’t exactly at their best on a Sunday morning. Modern architecture isn’t my favourite I’ll admit. And much of the living accommodation isn’t exactly desirable. But somehow in the midst of all this suburbia, we stumbled upon the oasis that is Koowlan Park. Fitness trails, tai chi, warriors with swords all exercising in the glorious leafy park. Trees with incredible roots stood  so very tall against the high rised landscape. 

    There were tortoises (my favourites) all standing in a line. My heart leapt with joy. 

    The park was full of people being at one with nature. I love yoga and well being and to see so many people tuning their bodies with the rhythm of the park was incredible.

    Next we found the aviary with beautiful colourful birds all filling the air with their singing and squawking as it their way. Obviously we simply had to go and see the flamingoes 🙂.  

    The highlight for me here was all the families obviously on some sort of Christmas treasure hunt with clues etc singing along to London Bridge is falling down and the little boy who liked to say hello 😍. 

    After all that walking, we had worked up an appetite for Sunday brunch at our hotel. Wherever the Young family is, food is usually a major part of the proceedings. The food didn’t disappoint – lobster, sushi, crab, oysters ….. the list was endless. Complete with free flowing 🍾. 

    I am always immensely proud of the way our girls will try almost any food. Of course we had the usual ‘try this mummy, it’s really lovely.’ Reply to amazingly angelic daughter  ‘Looks like watermelon to me’. Probably the only food I can’t eat! And yes I fell into the trap. Once again 😝. 

    I am embarrassed to admit that I didn’t sample the cheeses. What a lightweight! 

    Now as we sit here on our balcony in the warm glow of the afternoon sun, I am reminded of how utterly privledged I am to have such an amazing family who appecriate not only beautiful places but the amazing moments that we share. These will be treasured by me and I sincerely hope them, for a long time.