~Our First Post~

G’day, How’s it going?

No you haven’t accidently clicked on some wacky Aussie Fan Page. You have however stumbled to the right place for a good yarn and adventure. WELCOME!! This isn’t your everyday, run-of-the-mill lifestyle blog, it is a real and passionate expression of how to not take life too seriously….Come with us on our mad journey and I can guarantee you, you will not regret it. From travel stories and experiences, handy life hacks and tips, reviews from books and products and quirky day-to-day tales of our very average life. If I had my way we would be traveling more and working less but alas we can only dream.

Wilwood originates creatively from a dream that I had that involves conjoining my partner’s and my own last name and ain’t it catchy. Together we are a deadly team and try everyday to get the most out of life. In just a short time we have had some rad adventures with surely more to come our way. I started this blog as a way to share our adventures with our friends and family in a way that was more in detail than Facebook but to also expand on all the elements to help others have an enjoyable adventure of their own. I have always liked to share my stories and the good and bad experiences that come with traveling; now as Wilwood many more memories and stories will be made to share with everyone. To get to know us better how about you stick around a little longer, read our individual bio’s and follow us on Facebook and Instagram for all the latest updates of the Wilwood Adventures.

With a mix of two worlds from city to country, bush bashing and pig chasing to lazing on the beach, wrangling fish to chilling on the couch catching up on missed episodes on Netflix. We are all about trying new things and perfecting old habits, so come along with us on our adventure!

Because there will always be fish to catch….

#wilwoodadventures

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~MOTHER’S DAY~

What day is it, it’s Mother’s Day – well it is in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States (perhaps other places also but my research time was limited). Twenty-three years ago a beautiful woman brought me into this world and to this day she is my best friend and soulmate. She is my rock as I am hers and til the end of time I will always love her……..Happy Mother’s Day!

Mother’s day is a time to reflect, remember and celebrate those in our lives that have taken up the roll of motherhood, be it your mum, aunty, foster carer, grandmother or other mother figure and thank them for helping shape our path in life. In today’s society this centuries long celebration is causing controversy in the form of diversity. I have read news articles about schools cancelling gift stalls and introducing the concept of ‘Family Day’ to acknowledge everyone equally. I understand the concept of this idea especially if you are from a single parent household or in foster care, live with another relative or from a same-sex relationship, it spreads the love but why must we change to please everyone. According to History.com a form of Mother’s Day can be recorded as far back as ancient Greece and Rome how ever in more Western cultures did not rise until the 19th Century after the efforts of women caring for other children and their own during the wars.

I maybe standing on my soapbox protesting against a brick wall but I say leave this day alone, leave it for the mother’s. The women in our lives that sacrifice their body for life, that sacrifice their own wellbeing for that of another, that would tireless and effortlessly SACRIFICE their happiness and soul for your entire existence. Some women can not bear their own child but become awesome aunties or fantastic foster carers, this does not make them any less a mother figure. This day is about celebrating and embracing women and the nurturing and caring elements that are given to us. I could only image what it would feel like for a person without a mother to be surrounded by the secular commercialisation that occurs around Mother’s Day with cards and candles spewing pink roses, screaming out I love you chants but why must it change to please everyone?

As you read this you may disagree and strongly at that, but I do not think you are wrong you are entitled to your opinion as I am to mine. So on that note, I would like to say a big thank you and love to all; to my aunties, my grandmothers, my friends with children, the beautiful women in my extended family and most of all my own mother.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY

#wilwoodadventures xx

~Travel Tour Toubles~

Recently while reading the Queensland’s Sunday Mail I came across the welcome blurb of the ‘ESCAPE’ section of the newspaper written by Jana Frawley about her experiences with group travel and tours. This prompted me to think about my own participation of tours which have all been the complete opposite. Don’t get me wrong, the idea of stress-free holiday organisation can be handy but when you spend so much money on a holiday you want to get the most out of it; because you never know if you will get the opportunity to do anything like it again. These days there are an abundance of resources to plan out both short or long, solo or family trips and ~hello~ there are paid professionals that can plan and book it all for you.

‘ESCAPE’ also covered a full story on ‘tour travelling’, and yes being in a group is safer (like they say safety in numbers), and yes having a local guide or leader to show you around can be rewarding, and YES it makes language and transport issues and boundaries a lot less of a hassle but really….is it all worth it? I am not saying to stay away from group travel, even after all my experiences with touring I would probably give them the benefit of the doubt that the next one will be better than the last and book again but I am more conscientious towards my decisions to do so. Personally at the end of the day I would much rather spend my time researching and planning my own holiday than leaving in the hands of others. I have already been disappointed and missed out on potentially once in a life time encounters because of a tour or travelling in a group.

London Underground Tube

My troubles all started when I went on a well-known tour company’s 16-day-Great Britain Explorer. Contiki is seen as a rite of passage for young Australians looking at having a gap year and seeing the world, especially to meet new people and immerse yourself in wonderful cultural elements. What they do not tell you in the brochure is that you’ll be sitting on a bus with 20 hung over people (that are best part Australian) that take the pleasure in boasting about their travel adventures because they just finished a 40-day Europe Express (which also happened to be their first overseas holiday) and now they think they know everything there is to know about backpacking and travelling abroad – please give these guys a reality check! So after months of saving I rallied a friend to come with me and we set off to London. I learnt a lot about travelling (the cool clothesline in the shower) and even more about myself (especially my lack of patience with some people), and that self was not designed to take tours because I like to experience culture, history and food without the detail of partying and drinking to excess. I may sound like a prude but seriously you are in another country and you are going to waste yourself, there is this thing called social-drinking to a limit. Oh and to top it all off you will most likely get some strand of influenza, labelled the “contiki cough”, fun times.

The whole trip was not a complete failure, my first time to the United Kingdom was amazing and was possibly the reason I returned two more times after, but by the end of the tour I had enough. The structure the tour provides is awesome but thinking I was going to be around like minded people I got wrong, maybe travelling in a group is just not my thing. I vouched that I would never go on another tour yet have been disappointed another three times – On the Go, Topdeck and an independent company called Golden Tours in London.

The year is 2015, after missing out on the ballot for the ANZAC Day ceremony in Turkey my aunty and I found what we thought was the perfect tour to attend the 100 year Anniversary of the Battle of Lone Pine – August Offensive with On the Go tours. It was meant to be an all-inclusive tour with transfers from the airport to hotel (which we or our travel agent did not even get given the name of until we met a representative at the airport). We also changed the option to get a flight return to Istanbul at the end location rather than taking the night bus. Neither of these events played out like they should have and left us $200US out of pocket because our names were not on the transfer list and we were shoved into a taxi and apparently there was a head office misunderstanding that thought we had booked the longer tour and would be returning with the rest of the group and our flights were not booked as per organised and confirmed. Just to add more fun to the adventure what was described in the printed brochure differed from their website and they failed to mention in both the included activities that we were completely unprepared for. At the end of the day our tour guide was absolutely wonderful, we got to attend the ceremony and experience Gallipoli without the extended crowds (we only had 4 people on the tour because at the time the fear of terrorism deterred a lot of people) and seen some magnificent places in an even more beautiful country. But alas this experience has crossed On the Go off my loyalty list.

Fast forward a couple of months when I travelled to England for my now third time and an old school friend has tagged along for the ride. Right at the end of the trip we had a day to spare and I wanted to share with her my love for the little town of Bath and do the touristy thing of walking around Stonehenge. Being last minute we were not as organised to work out train schedules to make our way out of the city, so we went with this tour company that was just down the street from our hotel, Golden Tours. For a $130AU (EACH) you got return transport in an air-conditioned coach, walking tour in Bath and entry to Stonehenge (a little over priced for me but oh well, lesson learnt). Other than a little motion sickness from the English roads you can not complain about the transport, the issue we did have was our departure time from Bath to get to Stonehenge. We were all told a time to meet back at the bus but one can not get on the bus if the bus is not there. The group waited over an hour from our original departure time for the driver to come back – with no explanation he then proceeded to speed to catch up for lost time because they knew that by the time we got to Stonehenge it would be closed for the day. When we arrived what did we discover (oh look its closed), we were given the option to peruse the free information centre or wait on the heated bus (because by this time it was getting rather chilly). Frustrated and disappointed we just stayed on the bus as we were not interested in facts, after another 45 minutes everyone (minus the 6 that stayed on the bus) returned quite happy with themselves – THEY HAD ORGANISED ONE LAST BUS TO VISIT THE FORMATION!!! So frustration has now escalated to rage, in defence they offered to take the high way behind the stones so those that missed out could see them, ppfftt sorry not sorry and give us a refund from what our entry ticket would have been. Yet another tour company crossed off the loyalty list.

IMG_9318

You would think I would have learnt by now but most recently two of my girlfriends and I sent off to Japan. A wonderful week in Tokyo with Disneyland as a bonus (all self-planned and booked by travel agent) followed by a 7-day Ski tour with Topdeck. Unaware that it was a very new tour let’s just say it had its kinks. The inclusions and exclusions were not clear prior to booking and had to have multiple funds at the time to participate. Was pretty much a self-managed week other than a few pre-organsied activities but at the end of the day the cost would have been a lot cheaper, with a lot better quality without the tour and like Contiki the drinking culture was dominant and being in a group it got clique. Sorry Topdeck but I will pass on round two.

Fool me once – shame on you, fool me twice – shame on me; I think it was my own personal experiences on these tours that made up my mind but clearly I did not learn. I have had missed opportunities in Turkey, disappointment in England and isolation in Japan which could have all been avoided by better planning on my part to create a trip that did not require a tour. So my advice (unless you are strongly after group travel and it is everything you want and need) do some research and construct your own holiday to dodge over-priced disappointing tours.

Have you had any tour mishaps, let us know! #wilwoodadventures

Images: Grand Theater of Ephesus (Turkey), London Underground Tube Sign (United Kingdom), Snow Park Imori Hakuba (Japan)

 

~Easter Kitchen Fun~

I grew up in a non-religious family, so Easter for me is more about making nesting baskets out of shredded newspaper to put all my chocolate eggs in after a treasure hunt. Rather than the Last Supper or Stations of the Cross. Nothing against century long tradition but in my family we have a recipe that surfaces once a year like Cadbury Cream Eggs and Hot Cross Buns and that is for making MARSHMALLOW BUNNIES!!

End product of Bunnies
This is what I believe our Easter tradition is, family coming together and sharing time and taking a break from eating chocolate and making marshmallow with grandma.
They aren’t very hard to make its just the setting time that takes the most. You can make them any colour and to finish them roll in roasted or plain coconut or set in chocolate. Follow below for a step-by-step guide to make your own MARSHMALLOW EASTER BUNNIES!!

Ingredients:

  • 2 Dessert Spoons Gelatine
  • 1 Cup Boiling Water
  • 2 Cups Caster Sugar
  • Vanilla
  • Coconut

Ingredients for making Marshmellow

Method:

  1. Dissolve gelatine in water
  2. When dissolved, add sugar gradually – beating until sticky
  3. Add Vanilla and Mix
  4. Pour into greased pan or moulds and let cool
  • Cook Coconut until Brown
  • Slice marshmallow and roll in coconut

These are a great school fair item as well and also very easy to make in bulk. Marshmallow is nut, dairy and gluten free but still has the sugary goodness of all good treats.

Get to it!! Show me your results. #wilwoodadventures