Well what a month it’s been! Many of you will already know about my exciting new venture but if you don’t and you’ve been wondering why I’ve been M.I.A, then let me share some very exciting news! I’ve opened a travelling homewares store, and online boutique called Scouted Design and it’s based out of my renovated vintage caravan.
It’s an absolute dream come true which began bubbling away last September. There’s been lots of bumps in the road and whole lot of hard work but I would do it all again in a second because I’m so happy with how it has all turned out.
Since you last saw my little vintage caravan she’s been adorned with my logo and filled to the brim with a gorgeous collection of homewares, home decor and lifestyle products from my favourite Australian and international designers. From Cushions and scented candles to kitchen ware, table decor, wall art, rugs, throws and garlands, I have a beautiful range of contemporary Australian and Scandinavian inspired wares.
The weather is warming up really quickly here in Queensland with spring temperatures well into the 30’s. So yesterday, for the last sunday of the holidays, we headed to the sunshine coast, and hit the beach. It’s wasn’t quite hot enough for me to swim, but the boys loved it. I was content wadding in the shore and getting a little snap happy.
Did you go away these holidays? Where are your favourite destinations with kids?
Last week we took a road trip down to Grafton to spend some time with family and refresh our souls. I love stopping off at little towns along the way and enjoying the slower pace that country life brings. Our first stop was at Bangalow. We stretched our legs along the railway line and took a peak inside the derelict train station.
Admittedly I always have an ulterior motive for making Bangalow our rest stop as I can’t resist the allure of the cafes and boutiques in the village. Our Corner store is a favourite of mine. Contained in this 100 year old timber store you’ll find gorgeous homewares, lighting, clothing and more.
River Emporium at Woodburn was our next brief stop. I popped in alone as everyone else was keen to not prolong my antiqueing any longer than necessary. River emporium has a little something for everyone, from homewares and furniture, to retro clothing and unusual curiosities.
As everyones elses travelling patience waned I almost didn’t visit Contrarys on Clarence at Ulmarra. Promising to be quick I ventured in alone. Jam packed with delightful vintage and antique wares, I wish I could have spent more time meandering through this treasure trove and sorting through their stash of vintage fabrics. The peacock chair was what initially grabbed my attention and if the Remington typewriter had have been in working order, I would have found a space in our already overfilled car.
As a child we did a lot of road trips and each time I would plead to my Dad to stop at various places so I could explore, climb a hill or buy fruit from a roadside stall. My Dad would say’on the way back’ but ‘on the way back’ never quite happened. Now I’m making up for it and loving all those little stops along the way.
I wonder will my kids be as nostalgic about the townships when they’re grown, or will it be all about the destination.
I love school holidays and revel in a break from routine and extra curricular activities. My favourite school holidays are a mix of jammy days and new experiences. We packed quite a lot in these holidays with Zavier’s ninth birthday, an inline hockey tournament, easter celebrations and a Melbourne Getaway, (for just Dean and I). Our getaway was long overdue as it’s been more than five years since we were without the kids for more than one night.
Whilst we were desperate for time out as a couple, I also felt a little anticipation at actually making the trip happen. The boys had been unwell and it seemed to be just another thing to plan and organise. My Mum generously offered to take care of the boys and once Zav’s birthday was over and the five day hockey tournament finished, I had a little more clarity and realised it would be months before this opportunity might be possible again so I booked it. So glad I did, two days of respite in Melbourne was both refreshing and rejuvenating individually and as a couple.
Despite being crammed into cattle class our flight was quite peaceful,especially since it was my first flight in 12 years without kids. Only having myself to worry about felt was so relaxing. We stayed at the Ovolo Hotel in Little Bourke Street. It was contemporary and surprisingly spacious offering a free mini bar, happy hour and grab and go breaky, who wouldn’t love that. No dry old continental breakfast here, we enjoyed freshly brewed coffee, delicious pastries, fresh fruit and croissants. Located in the Theatre district it was a short stroll to Bars, Restaurants, and the allure of Collins Street.
Two days seemed like four as we strolled the streets, perused the shops, and enjoyed late dinners and long lunches. The stand out restaurants for us were The European on Spring St and Donovans at St Kilda. It was just a stones throw from Lunar park and the dessert cafes of Acland Street. It was quite surreal to stay at a Restaurant as long as we liked and so fun to make spare of the moment plans.
We were completely unaware the Comedy Festival was in full swing until we arrived in Melbourne so we were lucky to see Dave Hughes on our first night. I haven’t laughed so much since I can’t remember when. I laughed so hard I cried and then then the sound just stopped coming out. Thanks Hughsey.
We immersed ourselves in the cafe culture and explored laneways and street art to no end. Exploring the CBD, Fitroy, Lygon Steet, Chapel Street and St Kilda. I finally got to admire Mark Tuckey’s designs up close and we gushed over tired and run down terrace homes we could only dream of renovating. I think we may have lived it up almost a little too much – a good reason to not let it be so long between getaways again.
Paris with kids? Absolutely! Eighteen months ago we took our three boys to Paris and it was amazing! My husband Dean gave me a whole two weeks notice to pack, plan and organise passports for our family of five. At the time the boys were nine, six and two and it was to be their first international experience.
Paris is a 24 hour flight from Australia, so we broke it up with a night stopover in Singapore (an 8 hour flight) and a visit to the Singapore Zoo. We boarded our plane to Paris at midnight which I had been dreading but it actually worked out well. We got the kids settled and asleep straight away and they slept solidly for the next 6 hours. When they were awake we kept them busy with movies, sticker books, puzzles, stories and activity books.
Paris was everything I’d dreamt of and more! Rightly named the city of love! I was in love with it all, the architecture, fashion, culture, food and language. We stayed in apartments, (As hotels only accept four guests per room), initially in the second arrondissements then the fourth. I booked both of our paris apartments through Local Nomad online from home. They were very helpful and genuine.
We did a few of the main attractions, the Louvre, Eifel tower and Arc de Triumphe, but feeling immeresed in the Parisian way of life was my highlight. Well that and visiting Chanel’s first Boutique which was first opened in 1910 at 31 Rue Cambon.
The highlights for the kids were nutella crepes, the Jardin des Tuileries, the playground at the Luxembourg Gardens, and Disneyland of course.
Travelling internationally with kids initially seemed a bit daunting but it was character building and created lifetime memories. Sure my two year old probably won’t remember it by the time he reaches adulthood. But I’ll have the memories of him riding the carousels, his first pony ride at the Luxemboug Gardens and his little facial expressions as he looked in awe at the Eiffel tower.
Paris with kids can be amazing, even without extensive planning. Here’s what I learnt from our trip to Paris.
My Top ten tips for surviving Paris with Kids
1. Take your stroller. We took our bugaboo bee and packed it into the bugaboo travel bag. The travel bags are quite roomy and have heaps of extra room for other belongings. Having your own pram means you can do so much more on foot and it gives your toddler a place to nap so you don’t have to adhere to napping times and retreat to your apartment or carry them.
2. Purchase tickets to main attractions like the Louvre and Eiffel tower before you depart. The ques are enormous. Unfortunately this wasn’t an option for us due to a lack of planning time, so we actually waited in line for three and a half hours to go up the top of the Eiffel tower whist the prepurchasers breezed straight through.
4. Find your local Monoprix supermarket as soon as you can and stock up on breakfast products tea, coffee and snacks as the cafes, Boulangeries and shops don’t open till 9am. Not so fun when your kids are Jet lagged and hungry at 5am in the morning.
5. Use the metro. It’s really affordable and convienient. But don’t expect anyone to stand up and offer you a seat (even if your holding a child). Try to avoid rush hour and look for the emptier carriages before boarding. Having a lightweight pram was a a lifesaver when it came to going up and down the stairs to access various platforms. Also buy your tickets in bulk as it’s cheaper and easier when you need to access multiple trains with a family.
6. Teach you kids a little french. It’s polite and respected. Start with greetings and manners. There’s even some great Apps now to assist you.
7. Cook at home sometimes. Whilst there’s an abundance of food to be enjoyed your kids will appreciate a familiar home cooked meal every now and then.
8. If you plan on catching taxi’s or organise private transport have a good supply of sick bags on hand, some french drivers can be quite erratic.
9.Encourage them to keep a journal. Collect postcards, ticket stubs and various memorabilia to glue into a scrap book to remember their french experience. This is also a great chill out activity.
10. Plan for down time. There’s an abundance of activities and sites for kids in paris but sometimes they just need to run around and play. Our favourite playgrounds were the Jardin des Tuileries, and the Luxembourg Gardens.
We often talk about our experiences in Paris around the dinner table and what my kids always want to know is “when can we go back?”.