Friday, 21 June 2013

Winter Solstice

So it's the shortest day of the year; the start of winter.

Aptly, our clear, warm days have abruptly turned into BloodyHellit'sFreezing cold and pouring rain.

Yes, oh scoffing northerners, we do have winter here. Today only got up to 18 degrees Celsius! That's only 64F!!

Thankfully we have a roaring fire to snuggle up in front of.

2013 - 1


Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Home Sweet Home

The journey was long and arduous – not so bad, as far as international travel goes, but still about 14 hours all up, with two flights and a 3 1/2 hour stopover in Darwin, all overnight.

So it was a rough night. Littletree slept through the meal, and then wouldn’t eat it later when she was hungry because it was cold, and then wanted to save it for later, but it was seized by customs in Darwin (because a vegetarian pasta airline meal poses a threat to national security). So she was hungry and she whinged a lot. But she still managed to sleep for most of both the flights and the stopover.

In Bali, they wouldn’t let me take my mandolin as a carry-on and I was terrified that it would be damaged if I checked it in, but it did arrive safely, as did all our luggage, and us.

Lady Demelza and Uncle CJ were waiting to pick us up at the airport (so lovely to be met at the airport!) and whisk us home to our beds.

We got home totally exhausted, but happy to see that in our absence, Lady Demelza had spent a lot of time decorating our house and preparing it for winter.

Winter-weight curtains up in the living room

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pictures up on all the walls

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Littletree’s crafting and studying nook all organised and prettified

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Books sorted into the bookshelf

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And the whole place spic and span and scrubbed spotless.

So glad to be home again, and sleeping in our own beds. Though we do miss our “second home” on Gili Air.

I finally got all the photos uploaded, you can see the whole album HERE

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Last fling in Bali

So after our last night in Gili Air, which we enjoyed under a full moon

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And a fascinating breakfast alongside the cutest tiny little ants ever which were kind enough to clean up the drips of honey Littletree spilled from her pancake

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And Littletree had said her billionth goodbye to the Indonesian kids in the family who ran our villas

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We got on the boat to Bali…

It was not the best boat ride ever; of course, they were overbooked and we couldn’t get seats – I managed to make enough hullabaloo for the guy to let us sit up on the roof so we could at least sit down, and lo! There were seats up on the roof anyway; no idea why they just wanted to keep the rooftop vacant.

We landed on Bali to find it pouring with rain and many of the streets flooding

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(So glad we were in a minibus and not on a moped!)

And happy to arrive to our hotel to relax after the journey. The next morning, it cleared up a bit and we spent the day wandering around, ingressing and sightseeing a little, marvelling at what counts as a petrol station on Bali

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– I even found a bar that was made just for me

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And having hacked all the portals we could, and gotten more massages than should be humanly possible, we set out for the evening to find the awesome night market we ate at last year, only last year, we’d gone there with some people who knew the way, and I only vaguely knew the rough area we needed to go to. I tried googling, but ended up somewhere very, very not where we thought we were going.

A surprise adventure!

By sheer chance we found ourselves wandering after dark around a random neighbourhood; thanks to googlemaps on my phone I vaguely knew where we were, but no idea how to get to where we wanted to go. At the point that Littletree was fed up with walking and just wanted to eat, we walked into the first place we came to, but Littletree got a bad vibe from it and wouldn’t even walk though the door.

Next door to that place we tried again, and it turned out to be a duck restaurant and we got the most delectable dinner ever! Duck fried rice, duck fried noodles and a spicy green curry duck. Oh, it was divine!

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And finally, after even more massages; time to get on the plane back to Australia…

Monday, 27 May 2013

Leaving Gili Air

The last days, sad to leave, but happy to be heading home, and saying goodbyes amid promises to be back next year.

Littletree did her daily Bahasa Indonesia work over breakfast…

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And we got to meet the freshly born twins, Nadiya and Nadira – the newest additions to the family we stay with on Gili Air (pictured being held by their grandmother and great grandmother.)

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Littletree spent our last morning playing with Naiela, the little three-year-old girl who lives next door to us; Naiela absolutely adores Littletree, and taught her a bunch of nursery songs in Indonesian.

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As a parting gift, Littletree decided to give her soccer ball to Naiela, seeing as proper soccer balls are at such a premium on Gili Air. A very valuable gift indeed!

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Naiela was so happy, and Littletree too. Until finally, it was time for us to get on the boat back to Bali. The whole family came out to hug us goodbye, we shall miss them so much!

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Last supper

To celebrate our time on Gili Air and say goodbye to all the families leaving, we had a big dinner at the Organic restaurant on the beach – even though about half the families had already left, we still had to book a table for 19!

It was an awesome night

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And I got a surprise… everyone chipped in to buy me a dress; the most gorgeous dress ever!

27 dress

It was totally unexpected to get a properly wrapped present, and to feel the gratitude of all the families who came for the Unschooling Adventure. Of course, the dress is one I’d seen in a shop already, and I’d said that I thought it to be stunning, but they didn’t have it in green; only maroon, dark blue or grey.

But it turned out that the shopkeeper, a lovely woman named Annti, heard that I am a midwife, and she needed some advice about her newborn daughter, so I went to her place to help her out. Then somehow a bunch of the other unschooling mums conspired with Annti to have me a dress made specially in green. It’s the most stunning shade of turquoise, and I love it.

And it was great to spend some time with my friends

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We’re so sad to be leaving Gili Air, but the buzz is already building for the 2014 Indonesian Unschool Advennture.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

The Life of Littletree

Littletree started her own blog, called The Life of Littletree

It seems that she plans to write about all manner of things; her adventures, science, kittens, and ALL the things!

You can check it out here:

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Thursday, 23 May 2013

Learning all the time

The kids are learning so much here; Littletree has her own budget to work out, which means doing her own haggling and calculating foreign exchange rates, as well as budgeting for her meals, bicycle rental and expenses.

Each day, Littletree gets a budget of 100,000 Rupiah, which is about $10. Her room at the homestay and breakfast are provided, but other than that, she has to budget all of her other expenses, including meals, drinks, snacks, bicycle rental, scuba lessons, tours, snorkelling trips, excursions, souvenirs, trinkets, coconuts…

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The life lesson in budgeting and calculating money has been invaluable; she’s not only learning very well her 10,000 times tables, she learned very early on that if she splurges all her money on buying pearls from the hawkers on the beach, then she wont have enough left over to rent her bike the next day – or buy dinner! She’s also learned that she can eat a good meal of local food at local Warungs for only a dollar, and save up for when she wants something special, like a glass-bottom boat tour on the reef.

The kids are learning so much; not just arithmetic and accounting!

They’re climbing trees, and snorkelling and scuba diving; learning about the reef and marine life. Littletree even attended a lecture about conservation on the reef and joined in with a local clean-up project to collect rubbish from the beach and reef.

Learning to speak Bahasa Indonesia, and practising with the locals, making friends with local children and learning about their culture and customs, as well as all the social interactions… I couldn’t possibly imagine a richer learning experience.

And despite all the exciting world out there, I can still hardly keep Littletree’s nose out of her book!

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And the girls are all keeping journals and spending a lot of time writing and illustrating their adventures on the island – somehow rather a lot of the daily budget seems to get spent on stationery.

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Monday, 20 May 2013

Scuba for the planet

While Littletree has been having an awesome time snorkelling on the reef almost every day, the kids have also been drawn to go scuba diving. At first, I thought Littletree was too… well… little. But it turns out the PADI dive centre offers “fun dive” courses for children starting at ten years old, so I said she could do the training session in the pool, and see how she goes.

Several of the kids here for the home school adventure did the course together

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Watched the training video and listened to all the instructions from the dive master

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Got kitted up with wetsuits and masks – they even had a small sized tank and scuba equipment to fit Littletree

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Then they went through the training, learning how to use the apparatus, respirators, equalise ear pressure, underwater sign language, and so on.

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And finally, practiced diving!

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By the end, Littletree was quite proficient, and given the go-ahead from the dive master to join the group out on the reef… but finally, she decided instead to go to a lecture about the delicate ecology of the reef. She then joined in with a clean-up effort organised by the dive school to collect rubbish from the beach and reef, and protect the dune areas where turtles are laying their eggs.

Littletree came home very excited, happy to have done her bit for the day as a “wildlife warrior”.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Another Solar Return

It was my 34th birthday on Friday! I had a lovely day; spent some quiet time with Littletree, enjoyed my delicious Indonesian breakfast, and then went to lie on the beach and watch the storms rolling over Lombok in the distance while sipping iced drinks.

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One of the best things about Gili Air is that while the volcano on Lombok draws in lots of clouds and storms – we can often hear the thunder and see the lightning from here, but right where we are, it’s sunny and gorgeous, and we get the cool breezes pushed out by the storms. Makes for very pretty sunsets too!

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In the afternoon I sat with my friends and had birthday cake – it was a delicious rich chocolate brownie with ice cream and whipped cream. Yum! and not at all like the “cake” I had last year.

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Then we all ambled over to a beachside bar for dinner and cocktails, and lots of laughs…

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And, of course, I was treated to a gorgeous birthday sunset

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Thursday, 16 May 2013

Feasting part two

Selamat Makan!

So, since I didn’t manage to make all the food-related drool-worthiness fit into one post, here’s a snapshot of our standard dinner: the fish barbecue!

We start by choosing a fish (or prawns, crab, lobster…) and tell them how we want it grilled (rare, medium or well-done).

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We can choose if we want the fish served with rice, chips or baked potato, with salad and veggies.

It comes, perfectly done, with dipping bowls of garlic and sambal (chilli paste). So delicious!

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Apparently, this is terribly dangerous, because I inevitably overeat.

Then, there’s the treats – the organic restaurant on the beach serves a criminally-delectable warm chocolate brownie with ice cream.

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Oh, it’s a hard life! And of course, there’s all the local warungs serving fried rice and curries. Yum!

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Feasting – Selamat Makan

One of the best parts of being in Indonesia is the food.

Every morning we sit with the family at our homestay and have a traditional breakfast (well, Littletree usually gets a banana pancake, but I have the Indonesian food)!

It starts out with a really good, locally grown coffee from Lombok, and a carefully-folded paper cone (traditionally, the food is wrapped up in a banana leaf, sadly, those are a thing of the past in most places, as waxed paper has taken over).

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We unfurl the paper to reveal a surprise…

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Rice with a few different things; spicy fish or chicken curry, sauteed vegetables, peanut sauce, fried tempeh or tofu, shredded coconut, sambal… all manner of local dishes, every day something else.

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And every day, delicious!

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Eaten with three fingers on the right hand, of course, though using a spoon and fork is also acceptable.

For dinners we often get a fish barbecue, but since the internet here is shaky at best, I’ll have to save that for another post.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Happy Mothers’ Day

Apparently, it was Mothers’ Day (these things always catch me by surprise), and Littletree took it upon herself to get me a present – a gorgeous new sarong; perfect, because I needed a new one. And it’s even green! How did she know that’s my favourite colour?

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Then about half the families here for the unschooling camp went to the organic restaurant for a fancy feast, and a bunch of the bigger kids got together to put on an after-dinner show for all the mums!

It was pretty awesome, and hilarious!

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Saturday, 11 May 2013

Arriving to Gili Air

Once we’d spent our one day in Bali and got every thing organised, it was up at 6am to meet up with the other home schooling families to get on the boat for Gili Air!

Ironically, the kids who felt carsick in the mini bus to the harbour were fine on the boat, and vice versa; the kids who were fine in the bus felt seasick on the boat. But it was a fairly quick and smooth journey. Naturally, we let FlatTyler have the window seat on the boat.

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After a quick stop on Lombok, we were away to Gili Air – here’s our first view of the island (yep, it’s very small!)

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One of the other home schooling families was already there to greet us at the dock, as well as Abas, from the homestay we stayed at last year. It felt like arriving home!

We dropped our bags off in our room and went straight for the beach, to hang out at Zipp Bar; our favourite spot, so we could show Flat Tyler the beach

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And spend the heat of the afternoon sipping icy fruit juices while the kids got settled and swam.

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We ended the day with a walk up to the north end of the island to watch the sunset, happy to be here at last.

Thursday, 9 May 2013


Before we left Bali, I made a visit to the music man.

This guy is amazing. He's just a sweet, quiet guy, sitting in the back of a tiny little hole-in-the-wall shop - about half the size of a one-car garage, making guitars, ukuleles and mandolins.


Unlike most stall holders on Bali, he's not standing out the front, hawking his wares or hassling people to come in his shop. He doesn't quote inflated prices that you then have to haggle over. He just loves his instruments, and they are truly incredible works of art - guitars with Balinese filigree carving, ukuleles clearly made with love and care...

He sits, works, and plays music. If you go into his shop, he'll have a friendly chat, jam with you, show you the latest masterpiece he's built (with a gentle, humble manner), and not try to sell you anything.

I love this guy so much, I stop by his shop every time I'm on Bali... I play a little music, I drool over his craftsmanship...

And this time, I bought myself a mandolin! just a simple, cheap mandolin, but I love it! It was $60, with a hand made, very high quality case. I used to play mandolin years ago, but I haven't had one in years... I've been vaguely planning to get a new mandolin for a while, but unable to afford it.

I'm so stoked to not only get a mandolin, but to support a local craftsman. Honestly, I also support this particular guy because he's so quiet and humble. I suspect he makes just as good a living as anyone else selling stuff in the area, but without the intense hassling and overcharging and bargaining. I think everyone should support this guy, and artisans like him.

Most of all, I love my new mandolin, and I’m so happy to have it!