Warrnambool or bust

When the winter school holidays come to Ballarat, you have the choice to embrace the cold or to escape. We did a bit of both, doing the obligatory Sovereign Hill trek to see the winter night lights and to sample mulled wine. It was busier than last year, with lots of day trippers and weekending visitors from out of town.


Friends and neighbours took the escape option and headed up north to Port Douglas, Rome and Paris (they are lovely people, and totally deserved their holidays- I lived vicariously through their Instagram pics #jealousnotjealous). Our escape took us south west to…Warrnambool.

Okay, not the most tropical option, but we had sun, the sea, sand, ice cream, no rain and the temperatures were in DOUBLE FIGURES. For mere mortals accustomed to days with the top temperature of 8 or 9 degrees, it felt positively balmy.

We stayed in a little cottage not far from the Lake Pertobe precinct which we found through AirBnB, which suited us perfectly.

Warrnambool has a kids festival in the first week of the winter holidays which we missed out on visiting- but we didn’t have any problems filling in our time.

Tower Hill just outside of Koroit was a great place to stretch the legs, check out the views of the surrounding countryside and meet some local wildlife.

We met a few emus and wallabies, and even spotted a koala up a tree!

Nearby was the little town of Korout whereI had holidayed with my family there over 30 years ago. It hadn’t really changed much since then.
The countryside around Koroit and Warrnambool feels so familiar, and its not just from holidays or school excursions. It’s very reminiscent of Ireland and I can understand why so many Irish settled and stayed in the area. Names like Noonan and Bourke abound in Koroit, and several of Mr BGs ancestors the Murnanes hailed from Warrnambool way.

Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum, which was the maritime equivalent of Sovereign Hill. It was a great way to explore the history of the shiwreck coast, and even nicer when the sun came out. The kids were given a checklist of things to look for which they loved to do. There were also school holiday  activities which involved them making vanilla slices to take home 🙂


We visited Logan’s Beach a few times in an effort to catch a site of whales in the bay. The second time we visited we were lucky to catch a glimpse of some black dots in the ocean which weren’t surfers :). There is a Facebook page for people to check if there are any whales in the nursery.

The highlight for me was the flying fox at the adventure playground. It was something I wanted to introduce the kids to, having been on it years ago. They loved zooming down the line, hooting as they sped along, though pulling it back up wasn’t so fun. I managed to have a go on the last day we were there and loved the sensation of flying through the air, carefree and without a worry in the world.

I think we’ll be back ☺

Tassie 14- Back on the Chain Gang

Mr BG and I visited Tasmania in the year 2000, and stayed the night at Port Arthur, to go on my first ghost tour. I barely slept that night and have been hooked on ghost tours ever since. Sadly we didn’t really spend much of the daylight hours actually exploring the site the following day, so this was a chance to see Port Arthur and hopefully expose some learning upon the kids. Trying to explain Port Arthur as an historic site rather than an historic theme park like Sovereign Hill, Master BG suddenly realised that Sovereign Hill was fake, or as he described it “a rip off”.

We arrived at Port Arthur just before 9.30,one of the first 50 people to arrive. Collecting our tickets (we opted for the Bronze pass) we headed out to a 40 minute guided tour, with the guide giving a quick history of the European settlement of Port Arthur as a timber mill, penitentiary and town. You are struck as you go down the hill at the size and its beauty.
attempting to photobomb
A harbour cruise was also included as part of the ticket which stopped at the Isle of the Dead and went past Point Puer which was the site of the boys penitentiary. Mr BG relished telling his son that some boys as young as 9 were transported to this location.

Exploring the site with the kids in tow took longer, but we managed to see quite a bit. We stopped while Miss BG did an activity in making convict bricks, and the men of the house took to playing a spot of croquet and quoits. At the penitentiary, we saw a play depicting the life of a bushranger who had started out as a boy transportee.

We spent around 5 hours on the site – the kids did remarkably well, as did we :).

On the way back, we took a detour to a little beach covered in shells. Miss BG had a ball collecting as many shells as possible, all of which were going to be part of her extensive collection of Nature.

2014-01-19 15.13.57

PS Apologies for the lack of photos. Our internet reception is patchy and can be quite slow. It has been hard to upload photos, but if you wish to see some of them I am on Instagram as bookgrrl71.

Tripping to Toora

It’s good to have some time on the school holidays to relax. One of the easiest places to do this is Toora, in South Gippsland. It’s only 2 hours from Melbourne, but it’s quiet and peaceful and utterly beautiful.

The shed

The house is located right next to a heritage pear orchard, which we would cut through to walk down the street.

View from the Gate

Mr BG’s big sister Kerry lives there with her husband Terry, in a house with a garden in which you could get lost, with Layla the horse and Jessie the dog. There was also Kestrel, a guest horse, who was staying while her owner was away. This was really exciting for the kids, as Kestrel is a very easy-going horse who the kids love to ride.

Let's ride!

Master BG has really grown to love riding. Before, he would have nothing to do with the horse, preferring to leave his younger sister to be the dare devil. Now, he’s quite enthusiastic, saying it makes him feel content.

The kids love going to Aunty Kerry’s. They spent it outside, playing with Jessie, helping feed Jessie and the horses, brush down Kestrel, plant a tree with Terry, collect eggs from the school chook shed with Kerry. They chilled inside, reading books or playing with a cool farm set. Apart from a visit to Port Welshpool to walk along the beach and playground there were no outings or excursions.

Having a paddle

Port Welshpool was sunny and warm, with the kids paddling and afterwards having chips and dim sims from the General Store. Miss BG started being mindful of her clothes, and ten minutes later, was drenched from top to bottom and ended up being attired in her hoodie and gumboots :).

Beachside promenade

It was wonderful, just hanging out and spending time with family.

Woof woof holiday

“Mum, I forgot to pack Woof-Woof”, announced Master BG on Sunday night. The discovery that a favourite toy has not been packed can strike fear into the heart of any parent, but my big 8 year old son took the news surprisingly well.

Woof-Woof has been the mainstay of Master BG’s childhood and  has travelled everywhere with Master BG- when he was at creche, Woof-Woof (and his other friend monkey) were in his bag just in case he  needed a bit of comfort, and when we travelled overseas woof woof accompanied us. He even had his own passport!

Once Woof-Woof had a brief holiday on Lewis and flew back to London to meet us last year, when we left him sleeping under the covers of our hotel room (he does like to snuggle down under the covers).

While Master BG is slowly growing independent of Woof Woof, we have been giving him updates as to Woof-Woof’s time away from him. Word from the grandparents is that both of the kids have enjoyed the updates.

He has been snoozing on the bed

View this post on Instagram

Woof woof on holiday #2013pad #happy365 #nosean

A post shared by Steph (@stephmcg71) on

Has accompanied me to work

View this post on Instagram

Woof woof at work #happy365 #2013pad

A post shared by Steph (@stephmcg71) on

Helped out in the garden

View this post on Instagram

Woof woof helps out in the garden

A post shared by Steph (@stephmcg71) on

Helped with playing computer games with Mr BG

View this post on Instagram

Woof woof helps Bart with his computer game

A post shared by Steph (@stephmcg71) on

Woof Woof also got a bath and was smelling lovely and clean when Master BG entered the house and asked immediately “Where’s Woof Woof?”

Holiday happenings

The little BGs are currently en vacances with their Nana and Papa in Geelong, while Mr BG and I are at work. The kids get to be spoiled and spend a bit of time with their cousins, and Mr BG and I get  to do fun stuff, like work, tidy up kid’s rooms and their toys and clothes, and do a bit of gardening. We may also have a chance to visit a wine bar and perhaps enjoy a meal out at a venue which does not feature a kid’s menu too :).

Before they left, we spent a bit of one on one time with the kids. Saturday saw Miss BG and myself make a quick dash down the highway to the Meredith Harvest Farmers’ and Craft Market. I put the CD on instead of the usual DVD and we listened to 80s tracks on the way down. She was quite into Planet Earth and Blue Monday- I feel I am doing something right for a change!

It was the first time we had been to this market and it was lovely. the money raised goes to support the Meredith Kindergarten and there was a great mix of entertainment, food, crafty stuff and vegies- something for everyone in fact! My favourite bag maker Missy Mao Mao was there with a stall, and it is very hard not to buy something from her  :). Miss BG got her face painted for free, I bought some vegies from the market stall and some plants (selected by both of us) and best of all, we enjoyed each other’s company.

View this post on Instagram

Rainbow butterfly #meredithmarket

A post shared by Steph (@stephmcg71) on

Mr BG took Master BG to the movies where they saw Oz the Great and Powerful, as part of his 8th birthday extravaganza. I’m noticing that Master BG wants to spend more time with his dad, which is lovely to see. This time is currently spent discussing computer games, playing computer games and watching DVDs and Doctor Who together. At the same time I feel a bit redundant, though I know it’s all part of him growing up and becoming more independent. I still feel very glad when I do return home from work and hear him say,’Oh good, mum’s home!’

Counting Down

passports and guidebooks

Counting Down

We’re heading off in 22 days to see my brothers in London, my grandparents in Ireland and a weekend in Berlin for a music festival. I spoke to my grandad this morning to wish him a happy 93rd birthday. He’s getting excited about seeing his only great grandchildren, and so are we!

I had a great conversation with my grandad about his experiences with my dad and my auntie Dee when they were young. Apparently taking it in turns to be unsettled in the middle of the night is a family trait :).

The itinerary includes a week in London, staying in Islington and catching up with my brothers, 2 weeks in Ireland which will be spent in the North in Belfast and Enniskillen, and a weekend in Berlin sans kids. My parents will be over at the same time and they have (courageously) volunteered to spoil look after the little BGs with the assistance of aunts, uncles and cousins.

Of course, we have to get there, and the prospect of flying with two children under 6 leaves me with dread and a few sleepless nights. Any suggestions will be gratefully received…

holiday! celebrate!

With the hullaballoo of uni and work, plus the fact I have excess leave has decided my hand- I am taking a couple of weeks off work. Mind you, a couple of weeks mean FOUR DAYS, four glorious days or doing bookgrrl stuff. Four wonderful days of learning how to crochet (thank you CAE), going for a spa treatment,  and op-shopping in Ballarat, Daylesford and Melbourne. I may veg out and watch a bookgrrl DVD (in my brother’s words- SUBTITLES), and given the time of year, a day of pruning the roses.

If that sounds jam-packed, it probably is. It is a rare treat to be truly alone. Grocery shopping, or going for a haircut is generally rushed, because I know big and little people are at home waiting for me. The same also applies for the gym, as I know Mr BG has to get to work so I can’t stay too long.

I like my own company. I love catching up with friends, for coffee, lunch, dinner, or simply just to hang out, but there are times when the need for solitude takes over.

So while I have these treats in store for myself, I am celebrating a year of my blog with you. For the mad month of June, I will post EVERY DAY. It’s there in black and white and I will make sure I won’t renege- despite my break and also despite the fact I’ll be in South Gippsland this weekend and access to a PC will be somewhat limited…

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas…

Christmas decorations have taken over work- including the 3rd floor of our building, where there has been a competition as to which area has the best decorations. The People’s Choice went to an individual who had his office decoration with a fake crackling fire- with sound effects…

I still enjoy Christmas- for catching up with friends and family and enjoying a drink or two (or three, or four). While the gloss wore off after having worked 7 Christmases in retail (you measure time by Christmases:)), Christmas Eve was my favourite time. Back then, it would mean the store closing at 6pm then setting up for the post-Christmas sales. After a couple of hours we would head to the Scottish Chiefs for a few drinks before I got home in time for midnight mass.

Going out with Mr BG, Christmas Eve was the last time I would see him before we went our separate ways to our families- so presents were exchanged and dinner was eaten.

Now, Christmas Eve is the quiet time spent at home, getting ready for Santa and the onslaught of travelling to one family then another. The mantra, Christmas is really about the kids definitely rings true. The joy that the holiday brings to Master and Miss BG certainly outweighs the planning and negotiating that goes on between myself and Santa.

I have the week off between Christmas and New Year and may spend my time watching the 10 best Geek Movies– but having watched most of them, I may be inclined to do something un-Bookgrrl-like like…I dunno. Suggestions are welcome!