Travelling with my Dad

“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me”

Jim Valvano

 

This year, I was blessed to have the opportunity to travel with my Dad and even more so that I was able to get a month off work to do so! I have always been close to my parents and since we lost Mum suddenly last year, it is even more important that we all look out for each other. Dad has always wanted to go to Australia but Mum wasn’t such a good traveller. This year, I had a conference in Singapore and thought this would be a great opportunity to visit my best friend who has been living in Melbourne for the last four years. And of course, I invited Dad along too…

sydney harbour

As I do shift work, I was able to travel between sets of nights which helped maximise my leave and with study leave built in too, I was able to get the most leave I’ve ever had in one go, since I graduated. Obviously there were constraints on dates with regard to the conference and shifts. Overall we had just two weeks in Australia, then a few days in Singapore for the conference and a week after that.

GOR light

I’ve been to Australia three times before but still have loads of places that I’ve yet to go. My Dad is so laid back that it was really difficult to get him to tell me what he wanted to do. My original plan had been Melbourne, Sydney, Uluru and the Great Barrier Reef i.e. to see the things most people probably thing of when they think of Australia. Dad said he was really keen to see Sydney but wasn’t that fussed about Uluru and as the flights were expensive, that then got dropped. The Great Ocean Road is my personal favourite thing in Australia – I’ve now been three times! And with my friend being based in Melbourne, that was an easy decision. I did my PADI in Cairns 9 years ago but a bit of google research told me that Port Douglas or Palm Cove was a much better option to stay in to access the Great Barrier Reef, so we stayed in both! One of my cousins spent a year travelling around Australia and recommended Noosa and Brisbane so they were our final destinations, and new to me too.

As Singapore is not that big (and I’ve been before), I planned to see things in the evening after my conference and to pop out in the hour long lunch breaks too, so we flew out the day after it finished.

singapore skyline

For the final week, I figured we’d go somewhere that was at least in the vague direction of home. We debated between Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Jordan etc before finally settling on Vietnam. As we wanted to be home in time for Easter with the family, that only gave us five days in Vietnam and thus we had to decide whether we’d prefer to see the North or South. As direct flights back to the UK are only on alternate days, that made our decision for us so we were off to Hanoi and Halong Bay!

halong bay boats

Travelling with Dad was fantastic – I can now appreciate my parents for the people they are themselves. It also meant I gained a better insight into how he’s coping. It was nice to not need to be quite so budget conscious too! Dad is a perfect travelling companion – easy going, willing to try most things and always willing to stop for a beer or two! Thanks Dad x

Brisbane skyline

Roast rating : OXBO Bankside

“Nothing prosecco can’t fix”

Anon

 

oxbo roast

Last week, to celebrate a couple of family birthdays, we went to OXBO Bankside (http://www.oxbobankside.co.uk). Of course we went for the bottomless prosecco option – it would be rude not to when it’s only an additional £12 each… I’d definitely recommend booking as it was fairly busy when we went, with lots of big groups and is definitely a good location for a celebration.

With a bottomless booking, you have two hours to help yourself to unlimited starters and desserts and then a choice of mains. Your main is served to you. Last Sunday, we had a choice of roasted sirloin of beef, grilled corn fed chicken, roasted stone bass or thanet cauliflower, broccoli lentil dahl. Unsurprisingly, I opted for the beef and was rather pleased that this came with a Yorkshire pudding (the chicken didn’t). We had a choice of well done or rare but our larger group size meant that I could swap to one which was more to my tastes (medium rare). The vegetables were broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and green beams. Even though we only got one roast potato, it was large and delicious. High points also go to the meat with both the beef and chicken rating highly. The only downside was that we could have done with a little more gravy between us.

oxbo start

The bottomless roast is £42 per head with unlimited prosecco (£30 for just the food). This is an absolute bargain for the amount of food on offer. The highlight is of course the tables full of starters and desserts. To start, there was a variety of salads, seafood, meat etc. My favourites were the smoked duck breast, coated salmon and beef. I have to confess that we all went up for seconds and could easily have had thirds if we hadn’t been saving ourselves some rooms for the mains!

Dessert wise, there was everything ranging from sweets, cakes, trifles and meringues, with a cheese board as well. I had spotted the prosecco jelly early on so made sure to grab one of those and a couple of the mini fruit meringues. Sadly, there wasn’t much cheese left by the time we got there as we had gone for one of the last sittings. I’m not sure I could have fitted much more in anyway!

We had a great meal and definitely got our moneys worth on the prosecco front! The staff were friendly and attentive. There was live music, which was excellent but a little loud if you were sitting close by. But of course, the best thing was spending time with my lovely family.

oxbo flowers

Family fun

“The love of our family flows strong and deep,

leaving us memories to treasure and keep”

Anon

 

I’ve just spent a lovely weekend up North, with my Mum’s side of the family, as it was my aunt’s 60th birthday. Oh and how she loves to celebrate! My sister and I travelled up on her birthday and arrived to a full house with champagne flowing and piles of wonderful presents scattered in every free space! One of my cousins had made a personalised scrap book filled with fantastic photos through the years and little quotes – the changing hairstyles had us all tickled!

 

60 balloon

 

On Friday, my aunt treated all the nieces to a spa day- blissful! All nine of us had two treatments and we were able to hire out the whole spa just for us. As an added bonus, we were allowed to bring in our own bubbly. I opted for a back message which was AMAZING and an eye remedy, which was like a mini facial and then cool stones around the eyes. I can’t say my bags are any smaller but it was very relaxing! The time absolutely flew by – I had planned to go for a swim but before I knew it, we’d been there for 7 hours and it was time to go… At least we were all able to make full use of the Jacuzzi, sauna and steam room. Girly time is the best and we think this may well have been the first time it was just the girl cousins, without brothers, partners etc

 

spa fun

 

We were absolutely exhausted so it was an early night after a day of relaxation so it was an early night all around! On Saturday, I went over to see my cousins gorgeous new flat and he cooked us a fantastic dinner of sirloin beef and dauphinoise potatoes with vegetables. The spoiling continued!

I stayed with my 92 year old Nan on Saturday night – she is one of the most incredible women you could ever meet, with some fantastic stories including her attempt to run away back home after she was evacuated during the war. I’m trying to treasure every moment I spend with her and ask her to tell me all the stories I’ve heard many times before in the hope that i’ll remember them in the way she tells them.

All in all, I had a fabulous weekend with a few of my nearest and dearest. I come from a big family and loved having so many cousins when I was growing up but we live quite a distance from the majority so don’t get to spend as much time with them as I would like. Perhaps I should add prioritising family to my list of new year resolutions?