26 May

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Our World School: An End of Year Report

30 Dec

A living room with chequered tiles set up on the ceiling, at Scienceworks, Melbourne

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For anyone planning longterm travel with kids, anyone who would like to travel and is delaying having kids to do so, or any parents who would love to travel but feel they can’t because of the kids, probably the single biggest concern is what sort of education a child will get on the road.

This is also a major source of anxiety for other family members, particularly grandparents.

Honestly? Education, once you get the hang of it, is one of the easiest things about travelling as a family. I’ve posted before about the wonders of unschooling, a child-led approach to learning. I’ve also posted about the sheer hell of imposing a school-y structure on travelling, AKA death by long division.

Most of Z’s learning is hands-on, supplemented by almost entirely self-directed reading. We spend very little time on more formal learning, though I’ve had to learn a lot myself to keep up with his questions on the places we visit.

Here’s the end of year report card on my now-ten-year-old son’s roadschooling. I’m hoping travelling parents, prospective travelling parents and, for that matter, others considering alternatives to the school system, will find it useful. Continue reading

My Love-Hate Relationship with Australia

26 Dec stormclouds incoming over sydney, australia

[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]THINGS I LOVE ABOUT AUSTRALIA

1: The Landscapes
After Namibia and Mongolia, Australia is the third least densely populated country in the world. And given almost everyone lives in cities and the nation has the money to build roads, it has the most easily accessible big, empty landscapes on this earth.

Zac and his grandfather on the longest jetty in the southern hemisphere

The horizons are huge… Continue reading

Solo in Sydney* or: Getting My Groove Back

17 Dec

candle-lit mantlepiece with shiny silver backdrop.

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It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single woman in possession of a pulse will not be in want of attention in a cocktail bar. I have no idea how I’d forgotten this. But I had…

Over the course of a “career” not so much chequered as positively gingham, but dominated by language and creative stuff, one of few constants has been writing about bars, cocktails, bartenders and combinations thereof.

So as the witching hour when economics moves me from travelling mama to digital nomad mama approaches (accelerated by the prices in Oz), I’ve dipped a tentative toe back into the world of paid writing.

More specifically, an old, old friend and quondam employer who has asked me to identify, write up and take the odd shot of the top bars in Sydney and Melbourne. Z? He’s frolicking in saltwater pools outside Cairns with his dad.

So here I am, in Sydney. Solo. Bouncing around cocktail bars and landmarks with a notebook and a camera as I did rather a lot from age 24 until Z arrived on the scene two years later.

And how does it feel? Continue reading

The Barmy Army Explain the Rules of Cricket

6 Dec

Today in Adelaide saw the fifth and final day of the second English-Australian Test cricket match, to the outsider one of the most bewildering sporting events on the planet, after cheese-rolling, bog-snorkelling, synchronised skating and that thing that Afghans do with dead goats on horseback.

I went down to the English end of the ground to chat to members of the touring supporters’ group, proudly branded the Barmy Army, to see if anyone could spare the time from chanting songs about convicts* to explain the rules in a bit more detail… Continue reading

Travel Photo: Umbrellas, Bo Sang, Thailand

6 Dec

Painted silk umbrellas in Bo Sang, outside Chiang Mai, Thailand

Bo Sang, a village outside Chiang Mai, is the umbrella-making capital of Thailand.

Seeing Stars in the Outback

4 Dec

The curving edges of Wilpena Pound, a gigantic geological depression.
Weather doesn’t get more biblical than droughts, floods and plagues of locusts. And that precise trifecta has hit the South Australian outback this summer.

The great salt lakes, which sit dry for decades on end as brilliant mirrors of pinkish white, oscillate between aggressive blue and muted brown. The impossibly ancient mountains have turned from the iconic outback red to green.

In fact, looking out from the ridgetops of the Flinders Ranges, it’s easy to see how the ridiculed explorer turned prescient surveyor, George Goyder, decided the mountains were ringed by an enormous inland sea.

It’s easier still to pity the poor sods who slogged in his wake through almost a thousand kilometres of spiky acacia, spiny wattle and savage spinifex, amid flies so persistent that the diagonal motion of the hand in front of the face to clear them away for a second or two is known as “the Aussie salute”, carrying (yes, carrying) a wooden boat to traverse the imaginary sea… Continue reading

Oof! We’re in Australia…

2 Dec

Sign in the Australian outback, indicating that roads to and from Mount Hopeless are closed.

[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]Like a lot of Londoners, I’ve always taken a sort of lugubrious, self-hating pride in coming from one of the world’s most expensive cities (third in 2008, seventeenth this year).

Prices, in fact, along with national sporting failures, weather — the UK is currently in the annual winter paralysis induced by the kind of snow the average Canadian wouldn’t put on socks for — and the state of the Tube (still crowded!) are things we can dwell on with an enthusiasm so incomprehensible to outsiders that we are globally decried as a nation of whingers.

This does, however, have advantages. Notably, the rest of the world (excluding Japan, Scandinavia, parts of Switzerland and the odd Stan) seems pretty damn cheap once you’re out there.

In fact, it does until you reach Australia. A country still, bizarrely, listed as a budget travel destination. Travel destination? Sure.

Budget travel? Oof!

Because that audible, gut-punch, WTF “oof!” has been a soundtrack to our Australian experience. Most naturally experienced when bouncing off the seatbelt in a Toyota HiLux, assailed by swarms of giant locusts Continue reading

A Little Adrenaline

24 Nov

[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]From terrifying, world class surf breaks at Ulu Watu to the beginner-friendly swells on Kuta Beach, from one of the world’s easiest and most satisfying wreck dives at Tulamben to high-adrenaline drift dives amid lethal currents off Gili Selang, Bali packs a lot of adrenaline into a very compact island…

I’ll be posting a lot, lot more about Bali (including some great dive sites) once we return there in January. After almost three months in Indonesia, we’d barely scratched the surface, so rather than heading for Latin America we’re going back to the archipelago, thence to China, Nepal and India by way of Laos… But more on that later.

Still, if you like a little adrenaline, without the ocean channel risk to life and limb, read on for probably the best waterpark in South-East Asia, rafting down 12km of almost constant white water, and a chance to leap through the trees, zipwire, balance and Tarzan swing up to 30m above the ground. Oh, yeah, and a gorgeous double waterfall with enticing rope swing too. Continue reading

Heaven and Hell on Wheels…

6 Nov

Bali. One of the most consistently beautiful places on the planet. With (outside the timelessly international package hell of Kuta) a culture that is beyond unique. Landscapes of misty mountains, stepped rice terraces, river gorges fringed with palms and broad banana leaves, stone-carved temples everywhere you look, and pavements littered with offerings lovingly hand-crafted from palm leaves, flowers and coloured rice.

Snacks for the angels, demons, gods and goddesses that are everywhere, even today.

This is a place where you can stop for petrol and find yourself overlooking an ancient royal palace built in brick and stone with views across to dark forest and crater lakes and down a staircase of young rice to a river gorge. So, for the driver, it’s almost exactly equidistant between heaven and hell. Continue reading