Taking extended family holidays

A big extended family holiday is a fantastic chance to spend some quality time together. Does the thought bring a smile to your heart or does it terrifies you? If you can't even agree on what television show to watch, how are you going to survive a week together?
A family outing to a animal sanctuary bridges all ages
A family jaunt to the seaside with everyone from Grandpa Joe down to little baby Annie seemed to belong to a quaint bygone era. Yet it is making a comeback today, if it ever went away in the first place. It is a great way to bond with the family and especially in today's era where families are living further away, it is a great chance to reconnect with extended family members all at once!

Riding high

Keep it simple

Extended family Holidays with Kids and the grand parents including aunts and uncles is a wonderful way to celebrate all that is great about families. Actually it is not hard to find to find a holiday that suits all of you. The golden rule is to keep it simple (KISS).

Even a trip to the shops can be fun

Ideal Accommodation

Look for a good central base. First set a budget. You can pick a free camping spot where everyone just bring their own tents or caravans. If you have a little bit more money, you can find many caravan parks where are more accommodation choices, and facilities as well as activities to do.

Freshwater Resort, the scene of our most recent family holiday

It would be ideal to have a bedroom for each age group. A communal area, such as a tent, lounge room or kitchen is great where all can come together to share meals and/or activity events. Even a communal camp kitchen can work wonders here!

If you can manage it at all, find a place with water, whether it be a creek, a beach or a pool. Even people who don't swim, will most often enjoy watching others go swimming or wading at the edge of the water.

Maybe a camping trip is your ideal


Don't try to jam pack a holiday where you plan something for everyone, where grandparents have to wait for hours whilst the older grandkids queue up for exciting rides at a theme park or where little kids walk for hours looking at museums and artwork! If you try for this sort of holiday then most likely no one is going to enjoy their holiday least of you if you are the organizer!

It is perfectly fine to have the various groups break away and 'do their own thing'! Some people might want a full on active holiday, whereas some might just love the opportunity to bury their nose in a book. The main thing is a place to gather at the end of each day for a meal whether it be home cooked, dine out or delivered. The eating and sharing of the day's activities is a big part of being together.

Don't forget to let the young at heart have some fun too!

Maybe a cruise ship might tick most of your boxes, this solves most of the transport, accommodation and activities problems in one deal.

Real life example

In my own family, we have a son, daughter in law and his 2 little toddlers who live in the Northern Territory, well over 3,000 km or nearly 2,000 miles, one daughter lives in north Sydney, the other is in Vancouver, Canada for a year and the youngest son is still at home, but how long for?
Due to the distance and everyone's schedule, what we do is we arrange and pay for the resort like accommodation at a chosen destination and everyone makes and pays their way to the destination. We mostly tend to self cater though we do go out for dinner occasionally.
So far we've had holidays in Christchurch New Zealand,  a ski trip to Mt Buller Victoria, the Gold Coast, Palm Beach, Queensland.

Taking a swimming break whilst camping at Fruit Bat Falls, Qld

As the extended family becomes bigger, this may change to accommodate everyone's needs and finances. I love the idea of a houseboat. We are considering a trip to Bali for the next holiday, before it gets too expensive as a group. I can see camping trips being the norm in the future!

Do you holiday with the family? I would love to read about your travels, jot me a note in the comment box below. If you have any questions, I will be only too glad to answer them!

Ode to special mums

I came across this story by Erma Bombeck and have been inspired by it many times over the years .

Most women become mothers by accident, some by choice, a few by social pressures and a couple by habit. This year, nearly 100,000 women will become mothers of handicapped children. Did you ever wonder how mothers of handicapped children are chosen?

Somehow I visualize God hovering over Earth selecting his instruments for propagation with great care and deliberation. As he observes, he instructs his angels to make notes in a giant ledger.
"Armstrong, Beth, son, patron saint, Matthew."
 "Forrest, Marjorie, daughter, patron saint, Cecilia."
"Rudledge, Carrie, twins, patron saint, give her Gerard. He’s used to profanity."

Finally, he passes a name to an angel and smiles, “Give her a handicapped child.”
The angel is curious. “Why this one, God? She’s so happy.”
“Exactly,” says God. “Could I give a handicapped child to a mother who does not know laughter? That would be cruel.”
“But has she patience?” asks the angel.
“I don’t want her to have too much patience or she will drown in a sea of self-pity and despair. Once the shock and resentment wear off, she’ll handle it. I watched her today. She has that feeling of self and independence that is so rare and so necessary in a mother. You see, the child I’m going to give her has his own world. She has to make it live in her world, and that’s not going to be easy.”
“But, Lord, I don’t think she even believes in you.” God smiles. “That doesn't matter. I can fix that. This one is perfect. She has just enough selfishness.”

The angel gasps, “Selfishness? Is that a virtue?”
God nods. “If she can’t separate herself from the child occasionally, she’ll never survive. Yes, here is a woman whom I will bless with a child less than perfect.
She doesn’t realize it yet, but she is to be envied.
She will never take for granted a ’spoken word.’
She will never consider a ’step’ ordinary.
When her child says ‘Mummy’ for the first time, she will be present at a miracle and know it!
When she describes a tree or a sunset to her child, she will see it as few people ever see my creations.
“I will permit her to see clearly the things I see…ignorance, cruelty, prejudice…and allow her to rise above them.
She will never be alone. I will be at her side every minute of every day of her life, because she is doing my work as surely as she is here by my side.”

“And what about her patron saint?” asks the angel, pen poised midair.

God smiles. “A mirror will suffice.”

My husband and I had the privilege of working with 'special' people, for close on 15 years. These people have such a great capacity for love, compassion and loyalty that put us 'normal' people to shame. 
I hope this story has inspired you too!

Waving goodbye!

This just cracked me up. I just had to share!

I hope you have a lovely weekend - hopefully camping somewhere.

Bus conversion: Making the door

Standard bi fold door
Now that the outside panels are up, the next job was obviously the door. In Australia, the federal government has recently changed the regulations relating to bi-fold doors on motorhomes and caravans.

"ADR44.8.1 Every motor vehicle (motorhome) or trailer (‘Caravan’) equipped with fuel burning (cooking) facilities or living or sleeping accommodation shall have only outward-opening or sliding doors. At least one such door shall be located on the left-hand side or at the rear."

So the original bi fold door had to be replaced entirely. Whilst we were at changing the door, we decided to change the height of the door too so Rob and other tall people don't have to duck their head entering or exiting the bus.

Rob changed the height of the door at the same time as when he lifted the roof.
Changing the door would, of course, change the look and character of the bus. As the door is at the front, the change to a solid door will also reduce visibility.

To purchase a custom made hinged door was going to cost a small fortune and so Rob set himself the challenge of making his own door. We had already decided to keep the doorway at the front but that meant the door has the 'angular' shaping since it is not straight edged due to the nose and windscreen of the front of the bus! Rarely is anything just plain simple and easy, is it?

Designing the door

At first Rob played around with the idea of making a 2 part door, with a fly screen inner door and the main security door. That was much more difficult than expected to design and almost impossible to do with that shaping for the 'nose' of the bus.

Door frame work goes up
After lots of designing, fiddling and frustrations, Rob scrapped that idea and had to stay with a regular solid door. Even so, the angle still caused some angst especially with the top hinge being only half way down the door, which puts a lot of weight stress on that hinge. Another frustrating part is the the side of the bus is understandably not straight up and down, it curves in at the top and starts to curve towards the window, which meant we had to do likewise with the door. The framework was hard enough. It is relatively easy in comparison to cut, bend and twist the steel to shape, you can hide that. However to one can't exactly do that to the aluminum panel on the door.

Door windows:

He also wanted to address the lack of visibility a solid door would present by adding some windows including one low for seeing the kerb side for parking.

Main door window
Bottom peephole window

Dead lock:

The main consideration for us was that this type of lock is stronger and safer. It has a stronger locking mechanism than a standard RV lock and it does not matter how thick the door is. It is not connected with cables or rods therefore it cculd be installed wherever we wanted. There were cheaper models but we liked the look of this better and fitted with the square-ish stainless steel look else where on the bus.

Installing the door lock

The door

The door closes off the side

The Three Trees

Once upon a time up on a mountain top, three little trees stood and dreamed of what they wanted to become when they grew up. The first little tree looked up at the stars and said: "I want to hold treasure. I want to be covered with gold and filled with precious stones. I'll be the most beautiful treasure chest in the world!"

The second little tree looked out at the small stream trickling by on it's way to the ocean. "I want to be traveling mighty waters and carrying powerful kings. I'll be the strongest ship in the world!"

The third little tree looked down into the valley below where busy men and women worked in a busy town. "I don't want to leave the mountain top at all. I want to grow so tall that when people stop to look at me, they'll raise their eyes to heaven and think of God. I will be the tallest tree in the world." Years passed. The rain came, the sun shone, and the little trees grew tall. One day three woodcutters climbed the mountain. The first woodcutter looked at the first tree and said, "This tree is beautiful. It is perfect for me." With a swoop of his shining ax, the first tree fell. "Now I shall be made into a beautiful chest, I shall hold wonderful treasure!" The first tree said.

The second woodcutter looked at the second tree and said, "This tree is strong. It is perfect for me." With a swoop of his shining ax, the second tree fell. "Now I shall sail mighty waters!" thought the second tree. "I shall be a strong ship for mighty kings!"

The third tree felt her heart sink when the last woodcutter looked her way. She stood straight and tall and pointed bravely to heaven. But the woodcutter looked up. "Any kind of tree will do for me." He muttered. With a swoop of his shining ax the third tree fell.

The first tree rejoiced when the woodcutter brought her to a carpenter's shop. But the carpenter fashioned the tree into a feed box for animals. The once beautiful tree was not covered with gold, nor with treasure. She was coated with saw dust and filled with hay for hungry farm animals.

The second tree smiled when the woodcutter took her to a shipyard, but no mighty sailing ship was made that day. Instead the once strong tree was hammered and sawed into a simple fishing boat. She was too small and too weak to sail to an ocean, or even river; instead she was taken to a little lake.

The third tree was confused when the woodcutter cut her into strong beams and left her in a lumberyard. "What happened?" The once tall tree wondered. "All I ever wanted was to stay on the mountain top and point to God...

"Many days and nights passed. The three trees nearly forgot their dreams. But one night, golden starlight poured over the first tree as a young woman placed her newborn baby in the feed box. "I wish I could make a cradle for him." Her husband whispered. The mother squeezed his hand and smiled as the starlight shone on the smooth and the sturdy wood. "This manger is beautiful." She said. And suddenly the first tree knew he was holding the greatest treasure in the world.

One evening a tired traveler and his friends crowded into the old fishing boat. The traveler fell asleep as the second tree quietly sailed out into the lake. Soon a thundering and thrashing storm arose. The little tree shuddered. She knew she did not have the strength to carry so many passengers safely through with the wind and the rain. The tired man awakened. He stood up, stretched out his hand, and said, "Peace." The storm stopped as quickly as it had begun. And suddenly the second tree knew he was carrying the king of heaven and earth.

One Friday morning, the third tree was startled when her beam was Yanked from the forgotten woodpile. She flinched as she was carried through an angry jeering crowd. She shuddered when soldiers nailed a man's hands to her. She felt ugly and harsh and cruel. But on Sunday morning, when the sun rose and the earth trembled with joy beneath her, the third tree knew that God's love had changed everything. It had made the third tree strong. And Every time people thought of the third tree, they would think of God. That was better than being the tallest tree in the world.

So next time you feel down because you didn't get what you want, just sit tight and be happy because God is thinking of something better to give you.

Hungarian Goulash

I just love soups and casseroles cooked in my Dream Pot.

Here is the Hungarian Goulash recipe as handed down from my French grandfather. Pop introduced me to a lot of his European foods. I am sure we all have foods that invoke certain memories. This is one where I can remember my grandparents working together in the kitchen making this dish. I guess my Nana did most of the cooking, I just remember them both being there and the yummy meal afterwards.

Hungarian Goulash

2 tablespoon oil
2 tablespoon margarine
1 kg steak cubed
½ plain flour
2 large onions
1 tablespoon paprika
2 carrots cut chunky
2 potatoes peeled and cut chunky
1 beef cube
2 tin tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 bay leaf
Salt & pepper
½ cup sour cream



Heat oil and margarine in a frying pan.
Toss beef in seasoned flour then
Add meat to the frying pan & brown well.
Stir in onions and brown lightly.
Place all ingredients into smaller pot.
Add paprika with the water, stock cube and remaining ingredients except the sour cream. Ensure there is just enough water to go about ¾ the way up the side of the meat.
Bring to boil stirring frequently to ensure it doesn't burn on the bottom and then lower heat to simmer gently for 15 minutes with the lid on again stirring frequently.
Boil up enough water to fill the large pot at least ¾ the way.
Transfer pot into insulating chamber for minimum 3 hours, preferably 6-8 hours.

If you want, you can cook the rice or fettuccine in the large pot.
Depending upon whether you want rice or fettuccine with your meal, you will need different times.

For the rice: For the absorption method: About an 1 hour before serving you start by re-boiling 3 cups of the water and then adding 2 cups of rice and reboil hard for 1 minute before returning to chamber with the goulash placed back on top.
For the fettuccine: You can cook this for 15 minutes in the Dream Pot, but I just go ahead and cook this on the stove top to keep a good eye on the noodles just 15 minutes before  serving.

Season the meat as desired.

Stir the sour cream into the meat just before serving.
Serve with drained fettuccine or rice.


Did you know Paprika can go bitter if heated without water.

What meals invoke fond memories for you?

Mother's Day

Today is Mother's Day in Australia when many of us reflect on the mother we have or had. The bond between a mother and her children is something so special that it can never be truly broken. There is always a hope that underlines everything.

I also want to pay tribute to our mothers in law. They are often derided in comedy but they are special too if for no other reason than they gave us their son. They too have their special place in our hearts.

As in all things some mother's are better than others and some kids treat their mothers better than others. Some ladies so desperately would love to hold a child of their own in their arms and others have that joy snatched from them far too soon.
“No man is poor who has a godly mother,” Abraham Lincoln said. If mothers everywhere were godly ones, there will be no poverty in the world.

A mother can be the best friend we have. When trials heavy and when adversity strikes; when friends desert us and trouble surrounds us, yet she cling to us and believe in us. She will counsel us and help peace to return to our hearts.

God knew what he was doing.

God had a special plan for women especially for mothers and hold them in high regard and so should we. Mothers continue to impact their families in their own way. It is often said that values are caught, not taught. Mothers should show by example how lives should be lived meaningfully.

MOTHERS are truly amazing.

They have strengths that amaze men.
They carry children, they carry hardships, and they carry burdens.
However they can hold happiness, love and joy.
They smile when they want to scream.
They sing when they want to cry.
They cry when they are happy and laugh when they are nervous.
They fight for what they believe in. They stand up for injustice.
They don't take "no" for an answer when they believe there is a better solution
They go without new shoes so their children can have them.
They go to the doctor with a frightened friend.
They love unconditionally.
They cry when their children excel and cheer when their loved ones get awards.
They are happy when they hear about a birth or a new marriage.
They are strong when they think there is no strength left.
They know that a hug and a kiss can heal a broken heart.

Mothers come in all sizes, in all colors and shapes.
They'll drive, fly, walk, run or e-mail you to show how much they care about you.
The heart of a mother is what makes the world spin!
Mothers do more than just give birth. They bring joy and hope. They give compassion and ideals. They give moral support to their family and friends. Mothers have a lot to say and a lot to give.

A wise investment

A a relationship can only be special if we have invested time and effort into the nurturing of relationships with our mothers and our children. There are all kinds of Mothers in this world. Some mothers are 'grown' from cherished relationships rather than by blood.

May you all be blessed.

Hearty Vegetable Soup

There's no better time than winter for hearty soups and casseroles and this is where the DreamPot comes into its own.

I am so loving my DreamPot. It suits me in many ways. I am definitely a morning person and I can prepare and start cooking in the mornings when I am more energetic. I love soups and casseroles but I  resent having to utilize a lot of power for the long slow cooking. I especially don't want to have to be tied to the RV for hours while it is cooking, when I could be out exploring or whatever. I love having a hot meal all ready for me at the end of a day's driving or sight seeing. Now don't get me wrong, I still want a fire going and  fireside cooked meal is totally wonderful too. Variety is the spice of life and that includes cooking too! 

Now lets get into the recipe for

Hearty Vegetable Soup!

2 cans diced tomatoes
4 Tablespoon Chicken stock powder
1 Tablespoon Vegetable dry soup powder
1 onion
½ bunch of celery
300g green French beans (can be frozen)
2 capsicum
500g carrots
Any left over vegetables including broccoli & cauliflower stems
Chop and dice all veggies into small pieces.
Place all ingredients together with salt and pepper to taste and stir well in the large inner pot, fill to within 5cm (2 .5 inches) of the top of the pot with hot water. (Reduce liquid to stop 9cm (3 inches) from the top if you want to use the smaller pot at the same time.)Boil rapidly for 10 minutes.
Transfer pot into insulating chamber for minimum 3 hours, preferably 6-8 hours.


For variety try blending all until smooth.
Add water if necessary or to make a thinner soup.
As is frequent with soup and casseroles, this soup tastes better the next day when the flavours have had time to develop.

This lot was ear-marked for the freezer!
As an extra hint: Masking tape makes an excellent temporary label for the freezer. As long as you stick the tape on a room temperature container, it will stay on whilst in the freezer and it comes off OK when you want it to! It wont adhere once the lid or container is frozen!

I haven't even started on any breads, desserts and other wonderful recipes for the Dream Pot yet! Come back and see what else I can cook up.

An authentic Hungarian Goulash as handed down from my French grandfather is next on my list!

What is your favourite recipe for in your RV?

Bus Conversion: the outside panels

Gosh, I didn't realize that it has been so long since my last bus conversion update. Life has gotten in the way and I might be just a tad lazy! (hanging my head in shame). But never fear, though Rob injured his back some 8 weeks ago, it is slowly improving all the time and though there was about 3 weeks when he couldn't do anything, he has since kept working on it even if slowly at first!

So I will stop yabbering and get on with telling you what he has done!

The first aluminum side panel went up about 3 weeks ago and what a huge thrill that was. By now all the aluminum side panels are up and it just looks terrific and the bus is really starting to look more like a motorhome rather than a passenger bus. We are not keeping all those windows as I would much rather put the area to other use, though of course we do need some windows.

The first panel goes up on the drivers' side
The passenger side panels are up and still being braced.
Next comes the windows on the passenger side.

So that's it for this week.
Now this as a reminder of what the bus looked liked when we first got it.

A relaxing week at the Gold Coast

Every two years, Rob and I arrange the accommodation at some resort for a weeks holiday with the family. It is definitely a multi-generational week, with a little one as young as 18 month and the eldest person and touch and bit over 60. This year we chose Broadbeach at the Gold Coast, in Sunny Queensland, Australia.

Surfing at Broadbeach's Kurrawa Beach

This year it encompasses 5 adults  and our 2 darling little grand -daughters. Sadly Allan's wife had to continue to work through this week and our eldest daughter, Benita was away on a 12 month working holiday in Vancouver, Canada.

Kurrawa Beach

Broadbeach is located almost centrally on the Gold Coast and is an hour and a bit south of Brisbane. However it has it's own small international airport and we all flew in from our various locations. There is so much in the Gold Coast now days and it booms with all sorts of entertainment and such as Jupiters Casino, theme parks, clubs, bars, cafes, restaurants and gigantic shopping centres. Yet through it all the main attraction is the 70 kilometres of pristine, golden white beaches with weather almost perfect for swimming or surfing almost year round. This is what we came for, some time to reconnect and relax with each other!

We chose to stay at Freshwater Point Resort in 2 apartments. One apartment overlooked the 'creek' and the other overlooked the resort's swimming pool.

Fun in the wading pool

Finding a place that will satisfy both the youngest and oldest and those in between is not that hard. We tend to remember the golden rule of keeping things simple and in perspective. We are not in the habit of gallivanting around the town visiting every tourist trap and theme park there is. It seems pointless to go to many of the more expensive ones especially with someone having to watch the kids all the time. Instead we opted for quieter pursuits such as spending time at the beach, in the pool, relaxing indoors with the kids, in the spa, some shopping at nearby Pacific Fair. Dean and Allan took advantage of the Gym, Sauna and Steam rooms at the resort. And game times at night when the girls are tucked away in bed!
Together at Currumbin
On our last day, we spent the day at the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. This was an excellent time filler for us as we had to leave the resort by 10am yet our flights were not until 6pm or later. The various animals are interesting for all ages. We saw koalas, kangaroos, numerous birds, crocodiles, dragons, etc. We took the mini train a couple of times to save some walking.

Angle headed Dragon

Will the Kangaroo bite me Dad?
We saw the Free Flight Show where we see birds in flight such as the Wedge-tailed Eagle, falcons,owls and other birds that come in for some food.

wedge tail eagle
Later in the day you can hang around and have all the colourful parrots etc feeding off your hand, head etc but we had a flight to catch so we left Allan, Camille and the little girls to enjoy that part of the show!

I would love to hear in the comments,
what do you do to make time for multi-generational family holidays?