A “Drink the Bar Dry” Leaving Party

A downside of Ex-pat living is the goodbye’s that have to be made, to friends that have been quickly made in our environment.  Rob & Jen are off to Bangkok, Thailand at the end of February and as they cannot pack any alcohol, they decided to hold a “Drink the Bar Dry” party to try and get rid of it all in a fun way.  It was a little unusual to get an invite that said, “PLEASE do not bring a bottle!”  Instead we were asked to bring a plate of finger food to share.  Owen and I had fun with this and made mini jacket potatoes stuffed with different cheeses and Thyme Gougere’s (which were delicious).  It was lovely to taste the wonderful selection of food that everyone had brought!

The evening was a fun mix of people from Emerald living, as well as colleagues and work friends of Rob & Jen’s.  It quickly moved into Karaoke and several of our friends surprised us with their strong singing voices!  I managed one duet with JC before Owen said he would disown me if I sang any more!!

Squeezing as many party goers as possible onto the staircase for a goodbye photo opportunity.

Squeezing as many party goers as possible onto the staircase for a goodbye photo opportuni

Some of the girls towards the end of the evening.
Jane, Marie, Lin, Jen, Jane among this fun loving group!

Rob & Jen love Karaoke, so they have many props  – wigs, fake tattoo sleeves, glasses and instruments.   They were kind enough to let us borrow some of these for Isabelle’s party last September, and they really make a difference to the fun.  It is amazing to see the personas people portray when they can hide behind the props!!!

It was another fun night out.  Owen and I are sorry to see them leave – lovely people, lovely family.

Happy New Year 2014 Brunch

With Christmas behind us and the New Year just starting, all our friends who had been away for Christmas were returning.  The new School term was about to start and we decided to get a few families together to celebrate all that.

We settled on returning to the Le Meridien because they not only have a delicious brunch selection, but they also have a good children’s area.  They have a mix of different Asian foods, fabulous seafood selection, traditional carvery station and the most yummiest desserts (salted caramel mousse is THE BEST!)

Jo and Scott with their 2 girls, Saskia and Georgia; Rob & Jen with their 2 boys, Freddie and Theo; Mike and Jane with their 2 girls, Ciara and Caitlyn; and Paul and Tracy with their 2 girls, Bethan and Imogen – it was quite the area in the restaurant!

The Le Meridien also has entertainment throughout the long, leisurely brunch.  The kids end of our sitting area was entertained by a rather good magician.

The magician making a rose for Saskia.

The magician making a rose for Saskia.

Saskia was special assistant and had to help with some of the card tricks!

Saskia was special assistant and had to help with some of the card tricks!

He even made his wallet light up in flames when he opened it to check for the missing card.

He even made his wallet light up in flames when he opened it to check for the missing card.

Saskia, Isabelle and Caitlyn

Saskia, Isabelle and Caitlyn showing off their artwork from kids club

The “nurses” were on call again for the margarita shots – all the males partook.  It was also Rob’s birthday so it was a double celebration.  We all sang to him to embarrass him!

Happy Birthday Rob! Cuddling with his boys - Freddie and Theo.

Happy Birthday Rob!
Cuddling with his boys – Freddie and Theo.

Owen getting "treated" from the nurse.

Owen getting “treated” from the nurse.

Mike's turn.  Scott is laughing at this, but he was next to go!!

Mike’s turn. Scott is laughing at this, but he was next to go!!

Scott finishes up this nurses round.

Scott finishes up this nurses round.

Paul, Imogen, Tracy and Bethan

Paul, Imogen, Tracy and Bethan

Scott, Saskia, Georgia and Jo

Scott, Saskia, Georgia and Jo

The girls: Caitlyn, Georgia, Saskia, Ciara and Isabelle

The girls: Caitlyn, Georgia, Saskia, Ciara and Isabelle

Freddie, Jen, Rob and Theo

Freddie, Jen, Rob and Theo

Ciara, Mike, Jane and Caitlyn

Ciara, Mike, Jane and Caitlyn

Family Jones

Family Jones

Shanghai Christmas 2013

I am amazed at how fast this year has flown by.  All of a sudden, (it seems!) it is Christmas once again.  Owen did most of our Christmas Shopping this year and I am very grateful for that.  Work has been so very busy that I have had little free time to juggle anything else with.

I rushed home from work on Christmas Eve so that we could all go over to Tim & Marie’s house for a few hours.  We were home by 7:30 so it was a lovely way to excite the kids enough without anyone getting over-whelmed!  For the first time, I forgot to take my camera (I am never without that usually!) so I have no photos from Christmas Eve.  However, it was the same group of Ex-pats staying in Shanghai over Christmas so we saw quite a bit of them!!  And, I remembered to take the camera to the rest of the events.

Once we got home, of course the children were excited.  We got mince pie cookies and brandy ready for Father Christmas and a carrot for Rudolph.  They had had such a busy day that they actually went off to sleep relatively well.  Disaster struck at 12:30 though as Owen could hear voices coming from Isabelle’s bedroom.  I was already in bed, but Owen was downstairs.  Sure enough, Isabelle had woken up and then woken Oliver up and they both decided to start opening stocking presents that had already been delivered!  Oh no!  It was time for Daddy to have some stern words and send everyone off to sleep again until a decent time in the morning.  Goodness knows how Santa managed to sneak past Owen to deliver presents AND eat the cookie, drink the brandy.  It was quite the discussion in our house in the morning.

It was a leisurely morning opening presents, playing with toys and eating breakfast.  I absolutely enjoyed every minute of this precious morning.  Watching the kids excitement and pleasure at everything they opened and received was delightful.  They were also just as excited to watch Owen and I open our presents. They had managed to keep the presents for Daddy a surprise and he certainly was surprised this year!  He also totally surprised me and made me cry with his thoughtfulness – a perfect gift for me!  Tetley was also treated to a stocking full of treats:

I know I can get my head in there - I can smell goodies!

I know I can get my head in there – I can smell goodies!

I knew it!!

I knew it!! Yummy treats for a special girl.

Christmas Tree and kids  2013

Christmas Tree and kids 2013

Family including Tetley Christmas 2013

Family including Tetley Christmas 2013

We e-biked/biked around to Rob & Jen’s house at 12:30.  Our 2nd Shanghai Christmas and a repeat of our experience from last year.  This year, Rob and Jen hosted us in their beautiful home.  They had welcomed the Intercontinental Catering team into their kitchen and they had provided all the food for our Christmas dinner.  We were totally spoiled!  Again!!

Champagne ready on ice!

Champagne ready on ice!

Turkey ready for carving (and ham, beef and sausages)

Turkey ready for carving (and ham, beef and sausages)

Salads for starters.

Salads for starters.

Pasta, seafood, vegetables, potatoes - yummy!

Pasta, seafood, vegetables, potatoes – yummy!

Desserts - mini Christmas Puddings, fruit tarts, stollen, chocolate mousse log and fruit.  YUMMY!

Desserts – mini Christmas Puddings, fruit tarts, stollen, chocolate mousse log and fruit. YUMMY!

We were thrilled to share Christmas day Dinner with Rob and Jen, with their 2 children, Freddie and Theo, plus Kevin and Jane and their 2 children, Amelie and Joseph.  It was a huge feast and the set up was perfect.  1 table for the 6 children right next to the adult table!  Crackers and chocolates were extra treats on the tables for all of us:

The kids are all ready to eat!

The kids are all ready to eat!

Our Christmas Day "Emerald Family" Jane, Rob, Jen, Kevin, Sara & Owen Isabelle, Amelie, Theo, Joseph, Freddie & Oliver

Our Christmas Day “Emerald Family”
Jane, Rob, Jen, Kevin, Sara & Owen
Isabelle, Amelie, Theo, Joseph, Freddie & Oliver

It was a long, relaxing, fun dinner.  We all made multiple visits to the buffet for plate refills!  Good conversation, good company and flowing fizz.  The kids wanted to swim after their food, so they were all in the pool for a dip and a splash.

Oliver and Joseph firing off the water pistols!

Oliver and Joseph firing off the water pistols!

Meanwhile, the adults were having fun too!

Jane, Jen and Sara

Jane, Jen and Sara

Rob, Kevin & Owen

Rob, Kevin & Owen

Oh, how we laughed through most of the day!

Oh, how we laughed through most of the day!

After the adults had finished eating and the kids had finished swimming, it was time to play Charades.  Lots of fun with all participating and some very funny gestures.

Owen, Jane, Jen and Freddie

Owen, Jane, Jen and Freddie

Freddie, Amelie and Isabelle (with her new mini Furby who talks non-stop!)

Freddie, Amelie and Isabelle (with her new mini Furby who talks non-stop!)

We all totally enjoyed our Christmas day with Rob, Jen, Jane and Kevin.  All too soon it was past 6:00 and time for us to get home to get ready for the evening get together.  We raced home, got changed and then arrived at Suzanne and Brien’s house to find the party already in full force.

Suzanne, Jane, Marie and Mike

Suzanne, Jane, Marie and Mike

Jane and Mike have just arrived in Shanghai to start their new assignment.  They were both relieved to be welcomed into the Emerald Ex-pat family!  The wonderful thing about living like this is that everyone is in exactly the same boat and are super supportive, friendly and welcoming.

Brien with some of the boys!

Brien with some of the boys!

More friends to play with! Isabelle, Siobhan, Seren, Oliver, Ciara and Caitlyn.

More friends to play with!
Lia, Isabelle, Siobhan, Seren, Oliver, Ciara and Caitlyn.

Rob, Tim, Marie, Jen, Owen and Sara

Rob, Tim, Marie, Jen, Owen and Sara

It was a wonderful Christmas Day celebration.  If you cannot celebrate with your family, then an Ex-Pat “family” get together is a great choice.

I am very grateful for our friends in Shanghai that make this whole experience so much fun and who are so supportive.

After a few too many glasses of fizz on Christmas evening, I invited a few friends over to our house for Boxing Day!!  So, we woke up late and then had a whirlwind around the house getting ready for people to arrive.  As the Chinese do not celebrate Christmas, all the shops were open and it was just another working day for all the locals!  This worked in our favor because I could run to the shop to buy a few snacks for our impromptu gathering.  It worked out well, with Marie and kids, Kevin & Jane plus kids and Rob & Jen plus kids stopping in for a few relaxing hours.  It was a nice way to close out Christmas 2013.

My Philanthropist Daughter!

Isabelle has quite the big, giving heart.  Earlier this year she (and Ava) held a very successful bake sale and donated a big amount of money to a local orphanage.  Last weekend, Isabelle and her friend Sarah held a Toy Sale.  For 2 hours on Sunday afternoon, they sold as many of their gently used toys and books as they could to raise some money for the survivors of the Philippines Typhoon Haiyan.

Isabelle and Sarah had been planning this for weeks, sorting through toys, books and dress up clothes that they no longer wanted, had outgrown or just did not want any more.  We had quite the collection of items to sell:

A driveway full of toys and books!

A driveway full of toys and books!

Following a neighborhood wide email communication and then a reminder flyer in each mailbox (Isabelle was determined to make this as successful as the Bake Sale!) we had a few good customers and the girls made some good sales.

Open for business!

Isabelle and Sarah.  Open for business!

I was so proud of both of them as they managed to sell 660RMB worth of items and decided to give 350RMB to the Typhoon Relief effort, and then divide the rest between them as pocket money.  There is quite a lot left over, so we will be repeating the sale in January hoping to target all the new people who will arrive over the Christmas break!!  🙂

Isabelle and Sarah gave their donation to Mr King at BISS (Head of Juniors) who then wrote me an email to say he was going to recognize them during the assembly for the week.  Luckily, I was off on Wednesday and so it was a privilege to see my lovely daughter and her friend called up and spoken about in front of all the Junior School.

The backdrop to Mr King's comments.

The backdrop to Mr King’s comments.

Sarah, Mr King and Isabelle.

Sarah, Mr King and Isabelle.

Isabelle comes up with ideas on how to help others all by herself and is very focused on the underdog.  I am so proud of this spirit in her and wish for that to grow deeper over time.  She is so caring and so empathetic.  Mr King was also proud of them both – they both represented values that the school are trying to nurture.

This video clip is 2.19 long – the assembly highlight of Isabelle and Sarah and their philanthropic event:

A bittersweet Christmas celebration…….

It is time for another Emerald Christmas celebration!  Kevin & Jane were hosting their annual open house this afternoon/evening and it was wonderful to celebrate with our neighbors.  However, this was also the last time for me to hang out with our good friends Matt & Emma, so was a little bittersweet.  They are off to their next Ex-Pat adventure in Bangkok, Thailand.  Isabelle and Oliver will really miss their best buddies:

These 2 are old souls.  They play together so well and really love each other.  Neither of them really realize that this is it…. :-(

These 2 are old souls. They play together so well and really love each other. Neither of them really realize that this is it…. 😦

Best buddies for last 2 years.  Thank goodness for technology - time will tell if these 2 stay in touch with email and Face Time.

Best buddies for last 2 years. Thank goodness for technology – time will tell if these 2 stay in touch with email and Face Time.

It was a wonderful afternoon/evening with excellent hosts – Kevin and Jane.  Everybody bought something to share (Isabelle had made cupcakes earlier in the day for us to take – and they were delicious!).  There was also plenty of fizz for the adults to enjoy!  The kids were in their element with loads of arts and crafts to do, plus movie time.  It was time for me to catch up with old friends before the mass departure for the Christmas break.

The Emerald (and Tiziano!) crew.  Celebrating Christmas a little early!

The Emerald (and Tiziano!) crew. Celebrating Christmas a little early!

I actually managed to get in one photo!!

I actually managed to get in one photo!!

These 4 have been as thick as thieves for the last 18 months/2 years.  Isabelle is very upset that Ava is leaving, but it has not hit Oliver yet.

These 4 have been as thick as thieves for the last 18 months/2 years. Isabelle is very upset that Ava is leaving, but it has not hit Oliver yet.

I will also miss Matt & Emma…..

Vacation in Thailand, part 2 - here we come!!!!!

Vacation in Thailand, part 2 – here we come!!!!!

What a wonderful time, catching up with old friends and new friends.  Many are about to leave for an extended Christmas break so this was perfect timing to wish everyone the best of the season.

Sara, Marie, Jane, Emma and Jo - good times!

Sara, Marie, Jane, Emma and Jo – good times!

The kids thought that it was a fun time too!

A great group of kids!

A great group of kids!

Merry Christmas to all my Shanghai friends!

Blue Frog, Bouncy Castle and Sports – Birthday boy celebrations

My lovely little boy celebrated his birthday this week.  He has been talking about “turning 6” for several weeks and has been very excited about his party.  I have been so busy at work,  I am totally amazed that his party went as smoothly as it did, as everything  was last minute this year!

On the day of his birthday he had a school trip to the Wild Animal Kingdom.  His topic this term is all about the “Carnival of Animals” so this was an added bonus on his special day!  After breakfast, he  had time to open a couple of presents.  He had been asking for months for a skateboard, so guess what he got from Mum and Dad!!

Yeah - I got the skateboard!!  It is wicked.

Yeah – I got the skateboard!! It is wicked.

At the end of the day, we took Oliver out to Blue Frog restaurant at the Kerry Parkside (his choice for his birthday dinner).  We stopped at Baker & Spice on the way back to get some yummy cakes.  We stuck Oliver’s candle in his and sang Happy Birthday back at home!  Owen was messing around with the plate and kept pulling it away from Oliver!  He eventually blew it out and made a wish!

I WILL blow that candle out!

I WILL blow that candle out!

A few days later it was party time!  Oliver had requested a party of sports and games and wanted to invite all his class.  We hired the Function Room at The Emerald, ordered a Pirate bouncy castle and hired a couple of coaches from Sports World to help run the sports and games.  We had the party on Friday evening and invited as many parents who wanted to enjoy a glass of fizz at the end of the week too.

Happy Birthday, my sweet boy.

Happy Birthday, my sweet boy.

Once all the children arrived, they started on the Bouncy Castle.  It was a beautiful day, blue skies, sunshine and 23 degree heat.  All the kids were running around outside and having fun on the Bouncy Castle before the Lego tower challenge.  4 teams building the tallest possible towers in a 10 minute period.  This was the perfect lead up to pizza!!

Scrambling for the Lego to build the towers!

Scrambling for the Lego to build the towers!

Oliver holding his tower up!

Oliver holding his tower up!

Pizza time!

Pizza time!

After pizza had been wolfed down, the coaches from Sports World arrived and it was over to them to manage the chaos and mayhem!  They did a fantastic job of keeping 18 boys and girls active, competitive and paying attention.  There was just under an hour of running around playing lots of different chasing games, tagging games and ball games.

Ready, set, go!  It is time for Zombie Tagging.

Ready, set, go! It is time for Zombie Tagging.

They were attentive to the coaches and generally played by the rules!

They were attentive to the coaches and generally played by the rules!

The last 15 minutes of the party (only 2 hours, but felt like 6!!) was wind down time and birthday cake time.  We have had great success with Sweet Ever After cupcakes for the last couple of birthday parties, so we ordered from them again.  We had a flock of Angry Birds for all the children!

Angry Birds!

Angry Birds!

Another birthday candle to blow out too……

2 Cakes this time…...

2 Cakes this time……

Oliver really enjoyed his party and I hope that all his friends had fun – it was certainly lovely to watch them all playing.  We were all back home by 7.30pm and ready to put our feet up!  Relieved that the celebrations are over now!!

Happy Halloween 2013

I love the Halloween time of year!  The crisp evenings, the beautiful leaf colors, the spooky decorations and, of course, Trick or Treat!

This year, Oliver wanted to be Dracula and Isabelle wanted to be Wonder Girl.  However, when Isabelle’s costume arrived it was far too big, so she was back to a witch for school dress up day, and then bride of Dracula for the party.

The weekend before Halloween, we all decorated our house:

Ready for Halloween.  Check out the skeletons pulling each other up to the balcony!

Ready for Halloween. Check out the skeletons pulling each other up to the balcony!

Owen put the ultraviolet light back into the porch light and it made a great effect on the white spiders web!  We spent ages getting the skeletons just right.  They are supposed to look like they are helping each other up to the balcony and they are supposed to glow in the dark.  They did not glow like we hoped, so a little of the effect was lost!  Owen had also made some scary potions (glitter and glow sticks) which lasted most of Trick or Treat night.

Scary potions that glowed all night!

Scary potions that glowed all night!

We were also 1 of the most popular houses on the Trick or Treat route as we were giving away glow bangles!  These were hugely popular with all the children.  Like last year, the whole neighborhood was out and about by 5.15pm!  Oliver and I managed to cover all the streets within 90 minutes and he had an overflowing sack of loot!  Owen and Isabelle were giving out the glow bangles and candy.

Glow bangles ready to go!

Glow bangles ready to go!

The following night, The Emerald had its annual Halloween Party at our Club House.  Everyone dressed up:

Count Dracula and Bride of Dracula.

Count Dracula and Bride of Dracula.

Isabelle's make up looked good!!

Isabelle’s make up looked good!!

Oliver did not like the teeth too much!

Oliver did not like the teeth too much!

Wonder Woman, Bride of Dracula, Count Dracula and Batman.

Wonder Woman, Bride of Dracula, Count Dracula and Batman.

The kids loved the party.  There are always plenty of activities for them, like skeleton tossing, pumpkin carving and zombie chasing!  The party ends at 9.30pm so it is not too late for the little ones.  All of their friends were there and dressed up in different costumes.

Amelie, Oliver, Isabelle, Ava, Sarah and Emma

Amelie, Oliver, Isabelle, Ava, Sarah and Emma

Another Chinese Halloween celebrated in style!

More…. good food + fizz = more of me

Last year I had 2 beautiful suits tailored just for me.  I feel like a million dollars when I am wearing them and they (used to) fit me like a glove.  Starting in Spring of this year, I noticed that they felt a little tight around the middle, but put it down to the winter layer of fat reserves that would naturally fall off with the arrival of warmer weather.  🙂

However, once I returned from our summer trip back home to the UK (and Germany), I could not even pull the zip up on both suits.  Now, 1 suit I could convince myself that the dry cleaner had shrunk, but BOTH suits……  One solution would have been to take the suits back and had them altered to fit me now but I immediately dismissed that as NOT an option!

It was time for drastic action!  I love my food and I love a glass or 2 of fizz/wine so I obviously needed to introduce something else into the mix.  My friend Earoel had been talking about joining the Gym across the road from our office as she wanted to get fitter.  She was looking for some additional motivation and had been trying to convince me to go with her.  3 weeks ago, we decide to check it out and give it a try.  Thanks to her great negotiating skills, we got a 3 month membership at a good price and so started the regime.

In looking at the rest of my life and priorities, I decided that I would have to squeeze the work outs into my day very early in the morning.  This works on multiple levels because Owen is primarily in charge of the kids in the morning (getting them up, fed, dressed ready for school and off to the school bus).  If I could get an hour in at the Gym before work, then I would not have to cut any more precious family time out or compromise my work calendar and commitments.

3 weeks on and it is working!!  It is such a struggle to get out of bed so early on the mornings that I exercise, but once I am there I feel great.  Also, I feel better during the whole day: my mind is clearer and I have more energy.  I am mixing cardio with weights and set myself goals to improve just a little bit from the previous day.  In just 3 short weeks, I can see a little more definition on my arms and although I still cannot get my suits on, I know that I will be able to by Christmas.

I am writing about this because I believe that if I make this a public commitment, then I will have additional motivation to keep going.  I am determined to have toned arms, belly and legs by Christmas.  8 more weeks of regular exercise and I should be there.  I even took my exercise stuff on holiday to Thailand and used it!!!!

The Gym we go to is brand new and as they are still building their membership, it is always empty (especially so early in the morning!)  They have the latest and greatest equipment, wonderful locker rooms/shower facilities and it is spacious, clean and modern.  I am actually enjoying the exercise and I like that Earoel and I support one another and push each other to meet on our exercise days.

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.

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!