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Review – Qantas London to Auckland

So as some of you know we recently took a huge journey to visit family on the other side of the world in New Zealand. After much exploring we decided to take a non stop flight from London to Melbourne with Qantas, then another flight from Melbourne to Auckland (also with Qantas).

The flights with Qantas were £2,355 plus another £150 for seat booking -needless to say this was more than we’d ever spent out for flights for us all before and based on our research we had high hopes for our journey.

Now travelling for 35+ hours with a three year old is a daunting prospect at the best of times but being that I don’t much like flying it was always going to be a challenge.

Our booking process was really easy and Qantas were easy to reach by phone for our additional queries as well. We had some confusion about the flights as they were advertised as non stop but the receipt said that it had a stopover in Dubai – after a quick call we were reassured this would be a brief refuel stop and we’d hardly notice. This put my mind at ease as I didn’t relish the thought of 4 separate flights each way.

Once we’d booked we started to get excited – this was helped by the the Joey Playbox app which is designed for kids but if I’m honest we all enjoyed playing with. You can design your own airport, sticker up luggage with cool tags, design paper airplanes and play a game based on the old Nokia snake game where you collect baggage which my husband and I became quite competitive on! We were also promised a kids activity pack on the flight for the little one and we added this to the things for her to do mental tick list.

Before we knew it the few months between us booking and travelling had passed and it was time to go. We’d been able to print off our boarding passes quickly and easily and checking in with our luggage was great. We had a luggage allowance each of 30kg so 90kg between us which was plenty for our 10 days in NZ. The hand baggage allowance was slightly harder at 7kg per person and we found this a challenge – most bags weigh around 1kg or 2kg so this really cut the allowance down and when you are flying with a 3 year old the hand baggage is hugely important. On top of this hand baggage allowance you are also allowed to take on a small personal piece of luggage such as a handbag, laptop computer, overcoat, small camera, a reasonable amount of reading material or a small amount of duty free goods where permitted though. We made use of this extra bag but really a couple of extra kgs in hand luggage would have made all the difference.

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We were flying economy in an Airbus A380 and we weren’t overwhelmed by the legroom available – as with so many flights it was fine until someone reclined their seat and then we became very short on space. Even the smallest of our group struggled once the seats in front were reclined and as we were primarily on a night flight this was most of the time.

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The plus side to the flights are the staff – the Cabin Crew on Qantas were superb. They were constantly racing around answering calls and helping people out. We watched them help out a family with an unhappy child and a woman who was feeling very claustrophobic and they did this with a smile and without an ounce of panic or short temper. The service was friendly and felt as personal as it can be with hundreds of people for the team to try and please.

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Sadly the downsides did outweigh the good points for us though. Qantas have recently relaunched their menu and while none of us are fussy eaters but I have to say we did struggle. Particularly with the children’s menu – on all flights both outbound and inbound our daughter didn’t find one thing she enjoyed. It was all very bland and nondescript and we found the limited options quite challenging which is tough when you are on a long flight. The other thing was they never stopped feeding us! We said no to crisps, wraps and rolls many times as it was just a constant bombardment of meals and snacks. When you are already cramped on a plane the last thing you want is to be feeling all heavy and full as well.

The fact that 70% of the flight was at night is tough as well – I know this can’t really be helped but it meant we couldn’t walk around as much as we’d like and our daughter didn’t get an opportunity to play quietly and chat to us as much as we would have like. This created a difficulty later down the line as it’s impossible to ask a 3 year old to stay still and quiet for 13 hours!

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The other thing was the non stop element of the flight – the ‘brief fuel stop’ in Dubai turned out to be over 2 hours each time. This, to us, isn’t what we expected from a ‘brief fuel stop’ – it was a struggle to get everything off the plane for two hours to then come back to your seat afterwards. It might not sound like that much of a deal but with an overtired 3 year old at 10:30pm it really is hard work. We’d hoped for a route that would avoid lots of getting on and off of planes but this particular route couldn’t do that for us.

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So the crux of it is – would I fly Qantas again? The answer is yes but not back to New Zealand. The flight times make a long flight with a child even more hard work, there isn’t enough space in economy, the food isn’t good, the hand luggage allowance is restrictive when you are travelling as a family and the fuel stop is too long for the flight to ever be considered non stop.

Would I fly Qantas again anywhere else? Yes I would but only because of the staff – we’ve flown with many of the big airlines over the years and the thing that makes Qantas a success must be the friendly, approachable and incredibly professional staff.

So all in all – 2/5 for the flight but 5/5 for the crew.

If you have a flight with Qantas coming up and I can answer any questions or queries for you then get in touch using the comments or email me on muminpractice@gmail.com

 

The Referendum

I’m so bored of being shouted at. I’m so bored of the tantrums. I’m so bored of getting advice from all sides on how to deal with it.

Funny thing is I’m not talking about raising a four year old. I’m talking about grown bloody adults doing nothing but confusing people who are being forced to vote on something we shouldn’t even be voting on in the first place.

Let’s all go out tomorrow, get our votes cast and then wake up on Friday and hope the decision goes the way we wanted it to.

Maybe then we can get back to normal Facebook feeds featuring pictures of cats and babies. Maybe then we can go back to actually liking each other and being kind to each other rather than slinging hateful words and comments towards other people.

Maybe then the people who run this country can try and regain our respect or gain it in the first place. Maybe they can remember that we pay them to keep us safe and make decisions on things that the average joe public doesn’t understand like import and export, immigration and trade agreements between nations.

I cannot wait for this whole process to be over.

Lemon Sherbet Prosecco Cocktails

Fancy something sweet and marvellous on a Friday evening? Well if you are a fan of prosecco (who isn’t) then try this out.

Lemon Sherbet Prosecco Cocktail

First you need a bottle of prosecco – that one you’ve had chilling in the fridge will do just fine.

You’ll also need lemon sorbet and lime cordial, I’m posting this early enough so you’ll have time to pop to the shop and get some.

Parenting – we’re doing it right.

These only take a couple of seconds to make and they are delicious.

Pop one heaped teaspoon of lemon sorbet into the bottom of a tall flute glass. A wine glass is fine. So is a sippy cup or mug depending on what kind of day you’ve had.

Dash a couple of drops of the lime cordial over the sorbet and then stir quickly but gently. You want to mix TBD flavours a bit – not make it flat.

If you want to you can garnish it with a lemon slice but let’s be honest – who really has the time or inclination for a garnish on your drink when you’ve survived dinner and bedtime.

That’s it. Drink up and enjoy your tangy frothy refreshing beverage.

Enjoy!

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Run Report -10th June 2016

First run in two weeks this morning – all was going well until about 1.8km when I fell over a tree root and scraped my leg up. Tried to carry on but my leg, ankle, elbow and hands were hurting from the tumble and I just couldn’t find my pace again.

Very annoying as I’d run the 1.8km without any stops which was new for me as I’ve never made it over 1km without stopping before.

Trying to shake it off and find the positive though – had a nice time, the weather was good and the people were all nice and friendly today. Particularly the two incredibly fit chaps bouncing round the lake at 100mph while having a chat like it was no big deal! They smiled every time they passed me and that little bit of encouragement really helped keep me going.

Never underestimate how much a nod, a smile or a thumbs up can really pick you up when you are struggling. To have the encouragement and positivity from a total stranger is a lovely thing.

I’ll try to get out again on Sunday – but this time look where I’m going a bit more carefully!

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Butser

101 Ideas to Kick Your Summer Off in Style

With the glorious bank holiday sunshine sparking barbecues across the country, the kids half terms holidays acting as some serious inspiration and those big, long 6 week summer holidays just on the horizon you will no doubt be thinking about starting to plan your big summer adventure.

If, like me, your bank account starts to have a panic attack at the mere suggestion of  all things Legoland then you need to take a look at this excellent new free ebook.  Put together with help of 101 of the best of British bloggers, the ebook is full to the brim with budget activities, fun destinations and just general fun for both you and children to enjoy this summer.

As part of helping put the book together my suggestion was Butser Hill in Hampshire. I wrote;

“It’s a huge space where we can all run around, play games, have picnics and fly kites without having to worry about anything else. Butser Hill on a windy day blows all the cobwebs and worries away – we always come home smiling and feeling like we’ve enjoyed time together.”

Another of the ideas I really enjoyed was White Water Teamwork by Emma at emmaand3.com. She wrote

“I enjoy giving the children challenging experiences where we work together as a team and have family fun. A recent example included white water rafting. Such a fun activity to do when you have older children. You could also try go ape.”

White water rafting does sound like super fun and a great way to bond with the family, but I may have to wait a few years just yet!

Let me know your favourite activity or destination from the ebook!

The Cincinnati Zoo shot and killed a western lowland gorilla on Saturday after a 4-year-old boy slipped into the animal's enclosure, a zoo official said at a news conference.

Parents aren’t perfect

I’m annoyed again this week and once again it’s the fault of perfect bloody parents.

I am an avid conservationist and I was hugely saddened to hear the news about Haracombe the 17 year old silver back gorilla who was shot in Cincinnati this week. I was sad that this glorious animal had lost his life in a tragic accident and I felt for the keepers who would have had to make that awful decision.

I use the word accident on purpose because that is exactly what it was. An accident. Some could say it was an accident waiting to happen as the fences were too low, some could say it was an accident because the child ran off, some could say it was an accident because the parents weren’t watching but you can safely say it was an accident.

We won’t know exactly what happened that enabled that child to be unsupervised for the time it would have taken him to get through that barrier but it could just as easily have happened to me.

I love my daughter. She is the light of my life and one of the best things to ever happen to me but that doesn’t make me blind to her faults. She’s a runner, she doesn’t listen and she is constantly pushing the boundaries we set her. This weekend she opened the front door and walked round the side of the house – if she’d walked forward instead of turning she could have ended up in the road and if she’d gone the other way she could have ended up in the fast flowing stream by the house. We usually have the front door locked but I took my eye off the ball for a split second while I was loading the washing machine and the next thing I knew my husband was walking her back in the front room.

I’m not a negligent mum – I know she is a runner and I constantly keep an eye out for her and have become an expert in likely outcomes and seeing disasters that could happen but I made a mistake. I took my eye off the ball for a few seconds and I was lucky she didn’t get hurt.

The internet is now full of parents shouting words like neglect, abuse, child endangerment and prosecution – people who are obviously perfect parents and have never had a child just disappear before their very eyes. I’m not saying the parents aren’t at fault here – of course they are but I think to start screaming child endangerment and saying the accident is obviously a reflection on the family’s home situation is a little presumptive.

A magnificent animal tragically lost its life this week, a young child was very lucky and the parents will never ever ever stop living with that guilt or get away from the ‘what if’ factor.

To all those perfect parents shouting that the adults should be looking at the children every single second I ask them – have you never ever taken your eyes off your children? If you have more than one child how do you pick which one to stare at and which one to leave to the dangers of the world? Have you never had that heart stopping moment where you realise your child has stepped out of your sight? Have you never had your child not listen to you when you ask them to stay close and not run off?

Parents aren’t perfect and children are mischievous, clever, sneaky and have no idea why we set the rules they do. They have no idea why we don’t want them to run off so they do it anyway.

Parents aren’t perfect, children aren’t perfect and accidents happen.

 

Autism

Different is our normal

A while ago I wrote a post on Facebook about a lady staring at my autistic daughter in a supermarket.

She was really staring, with a look of confusion, and fear. This got me thinking about why people might stare, and why an autistic person may appear ‘different’, or even, ‘odd’. It got me thinking about why we need to educate and inform others about autism, and make them realise that it is part of everyday life, and not something to be feared. It got me thinking about the need for others to be more understanding and kind.

I used the word, “normal” in my post when referring to my daughter’s behaviours. This is because they are, “normal” to us. But not to others.

It’s not all about not being able to communicate.

Or not being able to socialise.

It’s about having a routine, that cannot be broken.

It’s about fearing change and spontaneity

It’s about sensory processing difficulties

It’s about auditory processing difficulties

It’s about poor fine and gross motor skills

It’s about crippling anxiety

It’s about so much more than what the outside world sees.

It’s about having amazing resilience

It’s about having bravery beyond belief

It’s about having an amazing memory

It’s about making huge steps, which may be tiny milestones to others

It’s about having the best sense of humour

It’s about being happy amidst it all

It’s about being yourself

 

I would not change my daughter.

But I would change the stares.

I would change the sniggers.

I would change the thoughtless comments.

I would change why life has to be so bloody hard for my daughter.

I would change ‘the system’.

I would change the constant battle of fighting for support and help for my daughter.

But I would never change you, Orla, my special girl.

 

This was kindly written for me by my friend Zoe as a guest post for my http://www.muminpractice.com blog. If you’d like to find out more about Autism then please visit the Autism UK website 

Shoes

I’m a runner

To the people on Petersfield Heath this evening who thought it was funny to call me names.

Firstly – of course I can hear you, they are cheap headphones not ear defenders so please don’t look so surprised when the person you’ve just called a “fat sweaty bitch” turns around and glares at you.

Secondly – you are right in some ways. I am fat and sweaty but I’m not a bitch. I’m generally a kind person but that I’m aware of my weight doesn’t make a difference to my personality. I‘m trying to loose weight and better myself for both my own health and to set a good example to my daughter. You however will always be a bitch if you don’t clear up that attitude and start to support people trying to walk a positive path.

I may not always be fat but you will always be the person who tried to make me feel crap about it.

Didn’t work though – I ran my route (slowly and not swimming across the lake as my app seems to think) and finished up with a smile on my face.

My first run since the 9th March wasn’t pleasant, was slow and was hard hard work but I’m still proud of myself for going in the first place.

Screw you haters – I’m might be slow, I might be fat but I’m a bloody runner.

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N.B – this is a post originally from Facebook, if you aren’t following me there why not come over and join in the fun? http://www.facebook.com/muminpractice 

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I’m not ready

School announcements came out this week and I’m not ready.

I’m not ready for my tiny human who has only existed on this planet for just under 4 years to go to school. I’m not ready for her to have to wear a uniform every day. I’m not ready to give up my afternoons playing with her. I’m not ready for her to need someone else when she wants a cuddle. I’m not ready for her to spend 5 days a week away from me. I’m not ready for her to want to walk to school with her friends and not with me. I’m not ready to give up our afternoons cuddled up on the sofa with a duvet and a movie or enjoying a sunny picnic in the park. I’m not ready for her to stop wanting to hold my hand. I’m not ready for her to have to worry about tests and exams. I’m not ready for her not to be around for me to tickle and cuddle whenever I want.

I’m not ready for her to grow up.

I’m just not ready.

 

 

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Things I don’t need now I’m a parent…..

Three and a half years into this parenting lark and I’ve come to realise there are somethings I just don’t need in my life anymore.

Bathroom doors

Apparently I’m never using the loo or having a shower without an audience ever again so we might as well just get rid of the means to give me any privacy at all.

Sleeping tablets

Remember those times when you got to choose when you went to sleep and how restful that sleep was? You’d have a tough and stressful few days at work so you could just pop a Nytol and enjoy a restful night sleep. Nope. Not anymore. You are no longer in charge of when you sleep, how much you sleep or how good the quality of that sleep it. You are going to save a fortune in Nytol tablets though……

A watch

Just chuck that little timepiece in the drawer – you don’t need it. From the moment you become a parent you are going to be late for everything so why even bother? Your arrangements will go from meeting at 9:00 at the cafe to arriving sometime between 9:00 and 10:00 depending on nappies, tantrums and the total *need* to take both of Cinderellas dolly shoes.

An alarm clock 

You can throw that snazzy little gadget that syncs up with your phone away. You don’t get to choose what time you wake up anymore. No more being woken up by the sounds of birdsong, the radio or a pleasant beeping noise – your wake up call will be a tiny human shouting “I done a big poo” at you.

White clothes

Unless you want your lovely white top to become a canvas for food and paint I’d suggest putting it away. For the next couple of years you are going to live in dark colours and cotton t-shirts.

Small handbags

Useless. Totally useless. In fact if we are honest with ourselves they were pretty useless in the first place right? I mean, who wants a bag where you have to choose between a hairbrush or your phone anyway? So this is good news really – you get to put your entire life in a huge bag and while that bag will only get bigger as your little one gets older you’ll pretty much be able to carry everything you might ever need. I’ve given up on handbags altogether and now just cart around a small rucksack, not the prettiest bag I’ve ever had but it can hold all the crayons and wipes I choose to carry

It’s not all bad news though – you’ll save a bucket of money on bags, clothes and when you remove your bathroom door you can live with the ultimate open plan space.