Last weekend was Labour Day weekend here in Victoria, which meant we had the Monday off work. We had been trying to play a little trip away with our friends Charlotte, Adam, Chris and Ness (and their baby Noah) for ages. However two babies and everyone being expats, (meaning many trips abroad for all of us), meant that this was our first chance to all get together since we spent Melbourne Cup in Lakes Entrance over a year ago. Back then, Ella was four months old, Andy and I were totally sleep deprived, and I was still in that new mother state where you feel like your baby is literally attached to you and you wonder if you will ever get the chance to be alone again. This time around was totally different - Ella is now 20 months old, walking and talking and just getting more fun by the day. She also had a little playmate in Noah, who is 11 months old.
|Noah and Ella|
We headed down the Mornington Peninsula to a house we rented in Rye on Friday after work. Traffic getting out of the city was predictably horrible, so it took us nearly two hours to get there. We stopped at a rest station about 40 minutes from Rye to break up the journey and get some dinner for Ella. Normally, I hate eating at rest stations like this, where your choices are mainly KFC and McDonald's. However at this particular rest station we discovered Oliver's, an organic, real food/fast food chain. It was awesome! Their extensive menu was full of healthy choices, such as pita pockets with veggies, rice and quality meat instead of burgers, smoothies and fresh juices instead of soda, steamed green or edamame beans instead of fries. We saw a sign advertising Oliver's IPO that is planned for 2017, and I've registered for a prospectus, as I'd love to invest in a company like this.
This rest station also had a quality play area for kids, so we let Ella run around for a while in there, which she loved. That is, until she fell over and slammed her forehead into some steel bars (the yellow ones pictured below). Until then we'd been having a pretty good trip! Poor Ella now has a huge bump and bruise in the middle of her forehead, added to the many bruises and scrapes she already has. She actually seems to fall down a lot lately - tripping frequently when she runs and basically just not looking where she is going at all. I'm starting to wonder how normal this is, or if there is something wrong that is causing this clumsiness.
Anyway, Ella was not happy about getting back into the car and we had a pretty painful remainder of the drive, fixed only by streaming The Wiggles on my phone. Thank goodness for The Wiggles! We arrived in Rye to our amazing house around 7pm and instantly felt happy and relaxed, ready for a nice break from work and the city. Ella was super excited to get to be in a new place, so we didn't end up getting her to bed until around 9pm! One would think that maybe she would then sleep in later, but we learnt a long time ago that babies don't work that way... she was of course up and ready to play by 7am the next morning.
|Ella with her new best friend, Adam|
We had a lazy Saturday morning and then headed to the beach in Rye for the afternoon. The weather was cooler than we've been having lately which was a bit of a relief. There was rain predicted but luckily that didn't happen until the night, well after we had all gone to bed. Ella loved the beach and had to be dragged away from the water more than once! She also had fun knocking down sandcastles that Charlotte made.
We had a chilled out evening (once the kids finally went to bed), enjoying a BBQ outside by the pool and playing board games. Charlotte killed us all at the game of Life. On her life journey she won the lottery and found a buried treasure, so I'm not sure how life-like the game is? Seems like you just need luck to win at life... hmmmm.... maybe it is very life-like! Every evening Andy, Ness and I headed off to bed by 11pm (which feels SO late to me. I love a 9pm bedtime), leaving our party animal friends up to do whatever it is people do late at night. Drink? Talk? Watch TV? I don't even know.
Prior to our trip Ness, Charlotte and I planned to have a girls' morning at a spa somewhere. The obvious choice was to go to the Peninsula Hot Springs, which we have all visited multiple times. The hot springs are great, and I highly recommend going if you are in that area, but we decided to look for something different this time. After some extensive Internet research, Charlotte stumbled across The Wellness Manor, located in Mornington. The website was beautiful and totally sucked us all in, so we booked massages complete with pre-treatment bathing session for Sunday morning. What a find this place was! We arrived an hour before our treatments to soak in the "experience pools": spa baths set at different temperatures surrounded by beautiful gardens. We were served herbal teas and ice cold waters by the spa, and for the most part were the only people there enjoying them at that time. After that it was time for our massage, which started with a foot bath while the therapist discussed the type of massage you would like. My massage was therapeutic, with fairly firm pressure, but also SO relaxing at the same time. I felt like I was melting into the massage table. It was probably the first time that I've had a massage where I nearly fell asleep. After the massage we all met again in the relaxation area, and all agreed that it was one of the top massages we've ever had. We were served a choice of drink (of course, we all went for the champagne, even though there were some very tasty sounding juices on offer) and some nibbles while we blissed out on the lounge chairs, listening to the babble of water from a fountain and enjoying the beautiful weather and gardens. I must say, a spa day is my idea of perfect luxury!
|Ness and I outside The Wellness Manor|
|Relaxing after our massages|
We spent a bit longer at The Wellness Manor than expected, so sent a text to the boys to see how they were getting on, and to see what they wanted for lunch. The reply back was that they were fine, had already sorted out lunch for them and the babies, and we should just go for lunch and enjoy ourselves. Nice! Across from the spa was a D.O.C., an Italian place that has a few locations in Melbourne and is one of Charlotte's favourites. There we continued to relax and enjoy the sunshine, sipping wine and eating authentic Italian pizza, prosciutto, and salad. On the way back we made sure to pick up some beers and ice cream for the boys!
|Yummy Italian at D.O.C.|
That afternoon and evening we spent a lot of time in the pool, the boys playing volleyball and Ella laughing and jumping in over and over. It was hard to get her out of there! Once the kids went to bed we got some take-away fish and chips for dinner, played a round of Articulate, and then had an early night as everyone was feeling pretty shattered.
Monday morning was check-out day, so we had a lazy brunch followed by packing up - it always takes much longer than I expect to pack up a house after a weekend away! Chris and Ness headed straight back to Melbourne with Noah, while we planned to meet Charlotte and Adam at a nearby beach, St. Andrew's, for a walk. Unfortunately on the way there Ella fell asleep in the car, so rather than wake her, Andy and I headed off to Flinders, about half an hour away (on the way back to Melbourne) and drove around while Ella slept. Charlotte and Adam met us there a bit later, and we headed to a park for a play and then to Flinders Bakehouse Café for lunch. Flinders is a cute village, along the ocean side of the Mornington Peninsula. There was a pretty epic golf course along the coast that I think Andy would have loved to play at.
|Ice cream at St. Andrew's Beach|
After lunch we headed back to Melbourne, feeling tired but happy from our long weekend. Ella was great the whole time, and I was glad that I had the next day off work to spend with her again. Little did Andy and I know, our poor girl had contracted Hand, Foot and Mouth disease from daycare (we think), which is a virus that results in mouth and throat ulcers, along with little blisters around ones hands, feet and mouth (hence the name). Tuesday evening we ended up taking her to the Royal Children's Hospital and were there until 3am. This is the worst illness Ella has had to date, I think the ulcers are really painful for her and at times she just screams uncontrollably for up to an hour at a time. It has been horrible to see her going through this, as there is little we can do to help her. Needless to say, we've had a very sleep deprived week, and a lot of time off work. She is on the mend now though, so I think the worst of it is over. Luckily we have Andy's parents arriving on Tuesday so we are looking forward to the extra two pairs of hands in the house and of course having Ella spend some quality time with her grandparents.