Saturday, 11 January 2014


Has anyone seen the kids?
We have just returned home from a ten day holiday at Port Douglas (Far North Queensland) where we hired a small private villa for the four of us, plus another family with a two year old. It was one of those trips that could either be a very, very good idea... or a seriously fatal mistake.

Braving the elements at bath time 
Thankfully, due to the amazing friends we have, it was a brilliant trip. Although, it wasn't without several adventures and dare I say it, a handful more incredibly helpful tricks of the trade gained along the way.

This was officially our first "group holiday". In some ways travelling with another family (including the flights) was a fantastic experiment. The kids kept each other entertained. Between four parents we were able to tag team for a couple of nice dinners out. And eight hands were definitely better than four when it came to getting all the routine kid things done in a foreign environment, like bath time!

The inflight creche!
In other ways however, it was tricky at times. The kids wanted to do the same stuff at the same time, such as sitting together on the plane (Steven drew the short straw for the outbound flight and created something of a creche!) And as you can imagine, tantrums broke out if parents attempted different rules for different kids, like who was allowed to eat a meal in front of the TV or who was allowed to go swimming or not etc.

But, I guess that's the thing about being away from home - you break some rules, you allow certain habits to slide and you compromise with what's a priority to you in order to get through the holiday in one piece. And in my experience, breaking the rules on a trip hasn't made it at all difficult for us to re-instate our usual rules the second we get back through the door at home.

Frenchie's first stinger suit experience!
But speaking of 'surviving' the trip... it has to be said that this trip was one of the most challenging for us with kids, for several very real, very scary reasons. The first was the fact you couldn't swim at the beach. At all. If you're not familiar with The Great Barrier Reef, then you'll be amazed to know that a particular breed of jelly fish contaminate the oceans of Far North Queensland in the summer months and a sting can be fatal, especially for kids. We did do a day trip out on the reef to an island called Low Isles and there they allow you to swim, but only if clad in a 'stinger suit' that thankfully is no longer a bright blue smurf-colour, but now more of a James Bond black. And they make them for kids - although as you can see below, they aren't exactly a great fit on infants!

The second hazard, and it's a significant one, was that our villa was located directly next door to a crocodile infested creek. Seriously. In fact, almost every water-way was crocodile infested. And there were signs up everywhere telling you so. It was only after I had been pushing my two-year-old Isabella on the local playground swing that i noticed a sign in front of the equipment saying "Achtung! Crocodiles inhabit this area. An attack could be fatal".

Crocodiles inhabit this area. Seriously, that's the sign!
And to think I am usually dealing with such concerns as applying enough sunscreen and did I remember the favourite pink drink bottle? In a strange way, it helped put my usual dilemmas in their place.

But the mother of all dangerous elements came when the two large birds we had seen nesting in our backyard all week began behaving very strangely and we discovered the reason why. A large, brown, aggressive snake had been casing the yard in search of the bird's egg. And he won. We googled the snake after having got a close look at it through the window (I HATE snakes!!!) and after consulting the local reptile park experts, we are almost certain it was a coastal Taipan, common to the region. No big deal - just the world's third most dangerous snake. In our back yard. A long haul flight with a screaming child is never going to be so scary again.

And so, we passed the week in one piece, just. The kids are still bests. The parents are all still laughing (and breathing). And a few new lessons were learned in terms of breaking the rules, compromising with other families, teaching our kids about the genuine dangers of the world and I even managed to almost finish a magazine after ten days!! Can't wait for our next group holiday!
We survived the trip!

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