Monthly Archives: September 2013

Karaoke, Cupcakes, Movies and Sleepover

As Isabelle’s birthday falls in the middle of the long summer holiday, she always misses out on a birthday party as everyone is away.  When we came back from the long break we promised Isabelle a party with her friends.

Her choice was to celebrate with a karaoke party and sleepover so we said that she could invite 10 of her closest friends over to enjoy singing to the latest pop songs and have 6 of them to stay for the night.

All the girls!

All the girls! Sarah, Ava, Saskia, Maddie, Sophie, Isabelle, Vivien, Lia, Emma and Weezy (Isabel!)

All the girls making silly faces.

All the girls making silly faces.

We had bought some wine glasses with jewels for the girls to bedazzle them.  They also painted t-shirts and made bracelets.  The lovely Phoebe came to do all the girls nails.  So, while all the karaoke was going on in the living room, the girls  rotated around all the other activities and managed to fill 2 hours very quickly!

More friends had lent us a box full of wigs and glasses which the girls absolutely loved!  Made for great photo opportunities and all the girls really hammed it up for their friends and the camera.

Ava and Isabelle!

Ava and Isabelle!

Maddie in the middle of a Katy Perry rendition!

Maddie in the middle of a Katy Perry rendition!

Emma and Lia in the Karaoke sing off!

Emma and Lia in the Karaoke sing off!

Sarah and Isabelle performing a duet!

Sarah and Isabelle performing a duet!

The girls had fun getting Tetley involved!

The girls had fun getting Tetley in on the act!  Luckily she is very easy going and put up with it all!

The girls had fun getting Tetley in on the act! Luckily she is very easy going and put up with it all!

Oliver was the judge of the Karaoke Sing Off and thanks to some side deals going on, Emma and Lia won!  It was amazing when Owen announced the competition, how the girls started wheeling and dealing amongst themselves (best duets!) and also with Oliver!

Isabelle's cupcake tower birthday "cake"!

Isabelle’s cupcake tower birthday “cake”!

The cupcakes were a hit!!

The cupcakes were a hit!!  Decorated with lipstick and nail polish!

Isabelle really enjoyed her party.  Lots of girly stuff and I definitely got a sneak peak into teen years!  After all the fun, it was time to wind down with a movie before lights out.  “Princess Diaries” was the chosen movie which the girls watched while in bed.

Almost time for lights out!  Movie time in PJ's

Almost time for lights out! Movie time in PJ’s

All the girls were asleep by 11:00pm.  They were all up early and then it was time for me to be a short order cook for breakfast requests before they all left.

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Welcome back to Shanghai and Birthday Brunch

Right before school started, it was time for yet another Sunday Brunch!  Everybody was back to Shanghai after the long summer break so it was time to catch up with everyone and also celebrate my birthday!

The Emerald gang headed off to an old favorite – The Intercontinental.  I absolutely love their chocolate lollipops!

Chocolate lollipops filled with delicious yumminess!  I think I ate at least 10 of these......

Chocolate lollipops filled with delicious yumminess! I think I ate at least 10 of these……

I also love their free flow champagne!  It was a leisurely 3-4 hours of eating, drinking, laughing, talking, and then eating some more and drinking some more.  It was just a shame that there was not enough time to really get caught up with everyone’s busy summer.

The food here is all good – cuisine from around the world so plenty of choice to suit every palate.  So many different buffet stations, you definitely need 3 hours to get around to each one!

Owen, Sara & Earoel in between Champagne courses!

Owen, Sara & Earoel – in between Champagne courses!

Jane, Sara, Jen and Emma

Jane, Sara, Jen and Emma

Scott & Jo

Scott & Jo

The boys were totally hooked on all their electronic devices!  We rationed their time on these as there is an awesome kids club at the Intercontinental on Sunday.  All the kids got to do loads of different activities, run around outside and get arty  crafty.  Great for the adults to extend their "adult time".

The boys were totally hooked on all their electronic devices! We rationed their time on these as there is an awesome kids club at the Intercontinental on Sunday. All the kids got to do loads of different activities, run around outside and get arty crafty. Great for the adults to extend their “adult time”.

Oliver and Isabelle love Miss Earoel!

Oliver and Isabelle love Miss Earoel!

The Prestons, Steeles, Davis, Jones, Bartons, and Kennedy!

The Prestons, Steeles, Davis, Jones, Bartons, Rhinds and Kennedy!  Plus Kids!

 

No. 3 and No. 4 – more Tooth Fairy visits

This week, Oliver lost 2 more teeth.  The top 2 front teeth make 3 and 4 to fall out.  I say fall out, but he actually pulled both of these out himself!

He woke me up this morning with a sharp prod; “Guess what Mum, I pulled my tooth out!!!!”  Through bleary eyes I glimpse a gappy grin and a hand holding his pulled tooth.  He is not going to be gappy for long!  He already had his adult teeth growing in quite fast:

Top 2 front baby teeth have gone!

Top 2 front baby teeth have gone!

He is very excited about another Tooth Fairy visit 🙂

Snorkeling, Surfing and Swimming

While in Beautiful Bali we packed so many activities in to our week there.  Another first for the children was snorkeling.

Kadek drove us to a great beach where there were many water sports available.  We decided to start with snorkeling and then see what else the kids would be up for!  We got suited up with life jackets, masks and snorkels.  My first time snorkeling is a very vivid memory of quick, panic short breaths breathing through the tube.  I found it difficult to remember that I could actually keep my face in the water (something I was not keen on when I was younger) and still breathe.  The ability to see so many wonderful fish is what kept me going back then and now I love it!  Even considering getting dive qualified once the kids are old enough to do it with me and Owen.

So, out onto the boat – just the 4 of us with the captain.  We had to go very slowly over the shallow water which was filled with fishermen!  Once we past them, we sped up and 5 minutes later we arrived at a lovely spot, attached to the buoy and then over the side we went.

We are not that far from land, despite the view from here!  Isabelle and Oliver loved it!

We are not that far from land, despite the view from here! Isabelle and Oliver loved it!

Following a little apprehension about jumping off the side of the boat into the ocean, the kids were soon bobbing about on the ocean.  It took a little more persuasion to mask up and look down, but once they got the hang of it, they both loved it!  We saw a couple of fish that looked like fish from “Finding Nemo” and both children took great delight in pointing these out to us!  They loved the fish that swam slightly higher, the optical illusion of light in the water made it seem like we could touch them.  It was not the best snorkeling that Owen and I have done, but it was a good first for Isabelle and Oliver.

Chilling on the boat after the ocean swim and snorkel!

Chilling on the boat after the ocean swim and snorkel!

Lovely shot of Owen and Isabelle xx

Lovely shot of Owen and Isabelle xx

It was a lovely few hours trying something new again!  Once back at the beach we enjoyed a leisurely time watching the fishermen and other water sport activity.

The kids loved the surf at the beach by our villa.  They spent many hours wave jumping and getting knocked over by the huge waves!

Pure joy on these faces!

Pure joy on these faces!

 

Beautiful Bali

Owen and the kids returned from UK on August 9th (just in time to celebrate Isabelle’s birthday!), then on August 13th we all flew from Shanghai to Bali for a week of family relaxation before the new school year starts.

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Owen had found us a beautiful villa on the beach with its own pool and it was paradise.  Because of the flight times, we decided to fly in 1 day early and stay at a hotel near the airport.  We checked into Baliwood Property to find a lovely 2 bedroom hotel room.  It had a great pool that the kids enjoyed for the morning before it was time to pack up and wait for our driver to take us to Villa Nova at Seminyak.

Kadek arrived on time and was a very entertaining driver.  He is very proud of his Country, heritage, traditions and culture and was very eager to share all of that with us.  It was fascinating listening to him – a wonderful story telling style with lots of facts and view points.  1 hour later we arrived at the villa =  paradise.

Welcome to Villa Nova, Seminyak, Bali

Welcome to Villa Nova, Seminyak, Bali

This is the view of our beautiful villa from the pool.

This is the view of our beautiful villa from the pool.

The villa had 4 koi fish ponds, a lovely outdoor dining and sitting area, a pool and a private walkway to the beach.  It had an open-plan layout, 3 en-suite bedrooms and a very modern kitchen.  Best of all, it came with Kadek (our driver) and a wonderful married couple called Ketut and Nyoman who looked after the property and cooked for us.  It was truly a treat to be looked after so well.

Isabelle and Oliver enjoying the pool.

Isabelle and Oliver enjoying the pool.

How lovely to laze in the cabana, hear the ocean waves crashing on the beach, read a book or play on iPads!!

How lovely to laze in the cabana, hear the ocean waves crashing on the beach, read a book or play on iPads!!

It was so relaxing to fall asleep listening to the waves rolling in every night.  Our beach was a surfers paradise so the ocean was loud enough!  It was therapeutic to laze on the cabana, read, watch the kids play in the pool and just let the day float by.

Deserted beach at sunset.  Spectacular colours - the photo does not do it justice!

Deserted beach at sunset. Spectacular colours – the photo does not do it justice!

Playing in the waves.

Playing in the waves.

How our garden was lit up at night.

How our garden was lit up at night.

The sunsets in Bali were wonderful

The sunsets in Bali were wonderful

Just one of the stone carvings by one of the fish ponds.  The children enjoyed feeding them every day.

Just one of the stone
carvings by one of the fish ponds. The children enjoyed feeding them every day.  Check out the lizard on the cheek!

Me and my gorgeous girl with local flowers in our hair.

Me and my gorgeous girl with local flowers in our hair.

We decided to alternate days at the pool/beach with full activity days.  I have already written about our White Water Rafting and Elephant Safari (Bucket List Day) and the Tree Top Adventures.  Another day was to Ubud to the many villages that specialise in wood carving, silver work, stone work and painting.  These traditions get handed down through generations.  One gallery we visited had 15 family members all doing amazing art work in many different mediums.  We were so fortunate to have Kadek, such a knowledgeable local, giving us a running commentary as we were driving through this beautiful, amazing Island.  They are a very spiritual culture, there are shrines and temples everywhere.  Every day, offerings are made to the spirits and Gods in the form of flowers that are specially grown along side rice and other crops.  These are presented in woven baskets.

One of the hundreds of offerings that we saw around Bali.

One of the hundreds of offerings that we saw around Bali.

Our visit coincided with Bali Independence festival and there were many flags along the roadside displaying the red and white of Bali colours.  There are many festivals in Bali – in fact, Kadek joked that business and schools were shut more than they were open because of all the festivals!  Bali is the largest and most popular Island in Indonesia and tourism is the main form of economy.  It is classed as a third world environment and in talking with Kadek, this came through in many discussions.  For example, Kadek’s wife has to shop every day because not only do they not have a refrigerator, but there is not one in their village.  Cock fighting is a popular form of passing the time and a social event for whole villages.  Many times we were diverted because roads were closed due to cremation events.  These are expensive for Balinese families, but follow a very traditional process.  Carved animals and elaborate structures are lovingly created by family members and the entire village.  There is a long and loud procession through the streets before the final ceremonial burning.  If a family cannot afford to perform this ceremony, they will bury their loved ones, but dig them up later when they can afford to do it.

The Balinese believe that special spirits associated with the Earth live in some of the larger trees on the Island.  They will protect these spirits by wrapping the trees in a black and white cloth.  We saw these cloths wrapped around some of the shrines too.

This large tree is wrapped in the black and white cloth to protect the Gods and Spirits that live within.

This large tree is wrapped in the black and white cloth to protect the Gods and Spirits that live within.

This local lady is bringing an offering to this shrine.  You can see that this is also protected with the black and white cloth.

This local lady is bringing an offering to this shrine. You can see that this is also protected with the black and white cloth.

Colourful flags to keep the birds away from the rice fields.

Colourful flags to keep the birds away from the rice fields.

Locals harvesting the rice.

Locals harvesting the rice.

As the climate is so temperate there is no set time for planting or reaping.  The rice fields are a wonderful site throughout the Island.

A wonderful view of the rice fields.

A wonderful view of the rice fields.

More rice fields

More rice fields

This gallery has 15 family members working in it.  We bought some artwork here!  Wonderful, talented family.

This gallery has 15 family members working in it. We bought some artwork here! Wonderful, talented family.

Our day to Ubud included a visit to a Jewellery gallery.  They make all the silver (and a little gold) on the premises.

This exquisite piece is made from silver by the talented artists in this village.

This exquisite piece is made from silver by the talented artists in this village.

Oliver and Isabelle at the Silver shop.  The gallery is surrounded by fish ponds and they had great fun looking at all the different fish.

Oliver and Isabelle at the Silver shop. The gallery is surrounded by fish ponds and they had great fun looking at all the different fish.

Kadek took us to a lovely restaurant on this day trip out.  One of the highlights was a pizza oven shaped like a turtle.

The turtle pizza oven.

The turtle pizza oven.

Oliver posing by some artwork in the restaurant.

Oliver posing by some artwork in the restaurant.

Me and my little chicks at lunch.  We ate on the upper level and had a fantastic view across the fields.

Me and my little chicks at lunch. We ate on the upper level and had a fantastic view across the fields.

Our last stop on this day was to a wood carving gallery.  This place had a bird that was a perfect mimic.  He was “chatting” away to the kids and even copied Owen’s laugh!

Looking down from the upper level of the restaurant to a pool.

Looking down from the upper level of the restaurant to a pool.

After we completed the Tree Top Adventure we went to the Floating Temple.  The lake that the Temple floats on is in the belly of a Volcanic mountain.  This made for some great photos as we were so high in the mountains and the clouds were so low.

The lake that the Floating Temple is on.

The lake that the Floating Temple is on.  The clouds are so low here and it is much cooler than everywhere else we visited on the Island.

The Floating Temple

The Floating Temple

This photo shows a mosque in the middle of the Temple towers.

This photo shows a mosque in the middle of the Temple towers.

The top of the driveway into the Botanical Gardens where we did the Tree Top Adventure.  The mountains behind this statue are a fabulous back drop.

The top of the driveway into the Botanical Gardens where we did the Tree Top Adventure. The mountains behind this statue are a fabulous back drop.

The bottom of the driveway to the Botanical Gardens.  Look at the flags to celebrate Independence Day.

The bottom of the driveway to the Botanical Gardens. Look at the flags to celebrate Independence Day.

Isabelle by one of the displays floating by the Temple.

Isabelle by one of the displays floating by the Temple.

The roof of the temple is made from palm tree husks/silks.  There are very few on each palm tree so it takes a long time and huge effort to make this.

The roof of the temple is made from palm tree husks/silks. There are very few on each palm tree so it takes a long time and huge effort to make this.

Amazing structure

Amazing structure

A huge tree on the walk down to the Temple.  Again, it is covered in the black and white cloth to keep spirits in.

A huge tree on the walk down to the Temple. Again, it is covered in the black and white cloth to keep spirits in.

Most of the Temples in Bali have an inner and outer area.  We could walk around the outer area, but were not allowed inside.  Here we are on the steps.

Most of the Temples in Bali have an inner and outer area. We could walk around the outer area, but were not allowed inside. Here we are on the steps.

Isabelle and Oliver posing on the steps.

Isabelle and Oliver posing on the steps.

There are lovely gardens surrounding the Temple with many animal statues.  Isabelle and Oliver loved posing with all these:

Riding the giant goldfish!

Riding the giant goldfish!

Roaring with the Tiger

Roaring with the Tiger

Getting eaten by the bear

Getting eaten by the bear

Flying with the Eagle

Flying with the Eagle

With Dad on the lizard

With Dad on the lizard

By the deer

By the deer

Owen and I have always said that the world is too large and that there is so much to see, that we would not go back to anywhere that we have previously visited.  However, we loved Bali so much, that we have had to revise our thoughts!  The people are so friendly and welcoming – always smiling.  The land is a mix of mountains, fields, rivers, jungle, beaches, villages and tourist cities.  This was a fantastic week away and we will be returning soon.

Beautiful Temples all over the Island.

Beautiful Temples all over the Island.