Friday, September 25, 2009

Kidaddling to Gosford

We go to visit Granny, and mobility issues mean we don't get out much ... and there's plenty of crocheting ... but we would note two particular points of interest to people going there with kids:

What great places for kids do you know about in and around Gosford?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Kidaddle to New Caledonia

A family holiday to New Caledonia could be a great option if you're looking for a combination of French and Melanesian experiences in a warmer climate ... but be warned the cost of living is extreme, and exorbitant medical costs make travel insurance a must.

That out of the way, what are the highlights of a visit to New Caledonia with kids? Well, in no particular order ...
  • More playgrounds per head of population in Noumea than in any other town we've ever visited.

  • The amazing Tjibaou Centre - the architecture and grounds very nice to look at, but the story to discover, and the events hosted, make it a must.
  • Place des Cocotiers - particularly on a Jeudi Soir from about 5pm.

  • The Markets - for bowls of coffee while the kids sit up on stools and eat croques monsieurs (my goodness, I hope that's the plural) and drop coins in the Polynesian musicians' bucket, and meanwhile Mum and Dad buy fresh fruit and veggies and Vietnamese smallgoods for later, and check out the art and craft ... and don't leave without buying some homemade chocolates by the second or third generation Belgian chocolatier.

  • The zoological gardens ... where you can see the cagou ... and enjoy a child-friendly BBQ, cooked for you.
  • The South - camping at Netcha - in Parc de la Riviere Bleue.

  • Casa Italia - where the pizzas are the best, particularly the prosciutto e carcioffi (!) and where the kids are always welcome and, if you get the right seat, they can press their noses to the glass and watch pizzas being made ...
  • Dinner at Lycee Escoffier or lunch at the Airport Motel - where the staff are hardworking trainees and the food is delicious.

  • The funny little place next to the tennis courts and behind the soccer fields in Vallee des Colons where kids are so very very welcome, the food is good and the afternoon can be very pleasantly spent.
  • L'eau vive - known as the Nuns' restaurant - where the nuns sing between entree and main.

  • The Rhumerie at Dumbea.

  • Canoeing on the Dumbea River.

  • Phare Amedee - for a decent beach experience out of Noumea for fussy Australians ... well worth the boat/lunch/entertainment total charge required.

  • The Loyalties - and we should have stayed in a case.

  • Isle des Pins - if you stay here, you will find very comfortable accommodation (highly priced) with a lovely beach, but a restaurant that may be unwilling to serve your kids quickly. We found the restaurant formal and were surprised after stating our aim to get the kids fed early and out, that on successive nights, after an hour, mother retreated with beside-themselves-toddlers to the room with husband following up the rear with the plates. Oh, and there was also the complete incapacity to honour a request for a hire car. And while I'm at it - if you go to the piscine naturel - take your own shade (ie pop up tent/umbrellas) or you will be easily burnt to a crisp.

  • The Vietnamese restaurant (La perle oceane) on the corner facing the police station where the porc croustillant is to die for and the service is sweet.
Give me your suggestions and I promise to update and add tips!

Kidaddle to the Northern Beaches

My Mum reminded me tonight what a great place the Salvation Army's Collaroy Centre is to stay - very comfortable accommodation, great food (including cooked breakfasts), a hop skip and a jump from Collaroy Beach ... may be worth checking out if you wanted a reasonably priced but nice place to stay on the Northern Beaches 35 minutes from Sydney CBD ...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Kidaddle to Murramarang

Reading this
about Murramarang reminded me of a weekend we spent there with the kids when they were aged, respectively six and eighteen months ... I was determined we would enjoy a long weekend at the coast. It's another classic lesson in not rushing into "experiences" when the kids are very very little.

The "resort" is actually a cabin and caravan park. Lovely nature all around. Lovely beach. Lovely kangaroos.

Not mentioned in this item, however, are the sand flies ... which bit both kids all over their faces while they slept ... resulting in infections and - ultimately - antibiotics.

So far as the excitement of exposing your toddler to the beach goes ... well the old rule about not having high expectations applies: Jack screamed from the moment we set him down on the sand and refused to move (he was inexplicably scared of it). Father then decided to take him into the surf, at which point he went rigid with shock. I collected him with a big warm towel and he went to sleep in my arms.

Here's the good bit: he didn't wake up for six hours!

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Kidaddle to India

A Kidaddle friend has shared this interesting blog item about travelling in India with kids ...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Kidaddle to the Dogs' Day Out

Well the pups won out. Dogs' Day Out is apparently a twice yearly event - once every spring and autumn - and boy did the pups have spring in their step. Lake Gininderra foreshore was the venue and the gundogs made the most of the water. We enjoyed flyball, sled dogs, races and a competition for the best trick.

We took a picnic and gave the six year old the opportunity to pat as many dogs as she could in two hours - great when we are not in a position to have one of our own. It also gave us the opportunity to check out heaps of breeds for the day when we do decide to commit ... have to say the black labs left a tear in my eye, reminding me of my favourite boy Blue from my teenage years.

A nice simple outing with lots of nice simple fun to be had: check it out next Autumn.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Kidaddle Outings This Weekend in Canberra

Hard to choose ...

What do you think?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Kidaddle off to the snow

Do you remember your first visit to the snow? I do. I had the cutest little pair of yellow gumboots. We drove up to Smiggin Holes in the EH Holden and Dad lifted me out of car and put me on a mound of the stuff on the side of the road ... whereupon I promptly sank up to my knees and the slush rose up and into my boots. I recall little else beyond the cold and a lot of crying.

Last weekend I observed a lot of that going on - babies, toddlers and kindies standing on the snow, crying. And beside them stood frustrated, stressed out and thoroughly disappointed parents trying every trick in the arsenal to get the kids to do what they wanted them to do: enjoy it.

The key, friends, is to manage and, dare I say, limit our own expectations of how much our child is going to love the experience.
Kids get tired. Very very quickly, and it doesn't take a genius to work out that throwing cold, the unfamiliar environment and getting overexcited into the mix results in kids getting tired even quicker than usual. Here's what we worked out:

  • Don't rush into it - what point is there in taking a baby to the snow? Will they remember it? Not likely! So all that's involved in this enterprise is a lot of hard work for Mum and Dad, for little gain in the child's development.

  • Make a conscious effort to underestimate their stamina: with a toddler, assume half an hour is all they'll be able to take; with primary school kids, maybe work it up to about half a day. Better to leave while you're all still having fun, than hang on for the inevitable meltdown.

  • Take your own food - food they like. Nothing is worse than fighting five million people at the Perisher Centre for two stools at a bar table and watching your kids reject the horsemeat pie that you yourself can't stomach, even after you have grappled with those annoying plastic tubes to pour tomato sauce all over them. And don't get on your high horse about them eating a little of all five food groups, or insist that today's the day he/she tries spinach. We kept it simple - ham and cheese sandwiches (with pickles for the adults), iced tea (the favourite drink), chips, chocolate biscuits and apples. Everyone was happy and it was a relatively balanced meal.

  • The ski tube might be novel, convenient and fun, but consider taking your own car. It gives you a time out option when things get a bit much. Get there early so that you can park neatly between the snowplay area and the toilets. You don't want to have to hike through the snow with a small child when they are, reportedly, "busting".

  • Hire your own toboggans before you leave home - that way you don't miss out if they run out at the resort or decide to stop hiring them for some bizarre safety reason (eg a patch of ice on the toboggan run).

  • Hire the right clothes: jacket, pants, gloves and boots. Hiring kit for one adult and two kids for four days cost us less than the marked price on a child's parka. Take and make them wear beanies and sunglasses. Proper gear makes all the difference to stamina on the day.

  • Let the kids tell you what they want to do. The skitubing might look like fun to you, but careering around on a tyre may not be your child's idea of a good time - so don't force it. If they want to toboggan or build a snowman all day, why not let them?

Kidaddle recommendations for the best snow holiday with kids:

Perisher: NB - the only place you can toboggan is Perisher itself - not Smiggin Holes, not Blue Cow, none of the others.
Thredbo: Not as high up as Perisher, so the snow down below may not be in as good condition late in the season ... at least that was our experience in early September.
Crackenback Cottage: The dinner served up to us was the best we'd had in years - and we've eaten everywhere from Paris to Papeete. But the best bit? Kids are welcome, the atmosphere is not so fine dining as to be alienating, and the kids menu is very very nice.
Wild Brumby Distillery: We happened to be passing the gate every afternoon about 4pm and were very pleased to discover a place where we could enjoy beautiful schnapps while the kids gawped at the sheep, the dogs and the fabulous outdoor art.

And, finally, we loved on the Alpine Way. But don't go there if you don't like the bush, meeting interesting people and their dogs, wandering around a bush garden and admiring unusual objects. It's a great place that attracts nice people and is kid and dog friendly.