Category Archives: Travel

Day 9 – La Roque Gageac

We woke to a room that was fairly dark , as the chateau was shrouded in a heavy fog. A fog that was to be there every morning of our stay.

Opening the beautiful, big windows, I was greeted with a sight that merely alluded to the view that was to be revealed later in the day.

And as the fog started to lift, it was just so amazingly beautiful. Oh, how much I love this place!!! It is certainly a most stunning location. The village itself is nestled in front of enormous rock faces, facing the river Dordogne. Across the river, rolling green hills dotted with vineyards.

Our home for the week, the Chateau de la Malatrie sits in a commanding position on the village outskirts. During our stay there was a constant stream of tourists down on the road below the castle taking photos. We began to feel like quasi-royalty under the ever present eye of the paparazzi!

Chris took Erin and Miranda for an ealy morning walk to the Boulangerie where they bought croissants and pain au chocolat for us all. Yum 🙂 Here are Holly, Elissa, Miranda & Erin scoffing in to their breakfast at the big kitchen table.

And here is Declan back from a walk exploring the vegetable gardens with Shane.

And Holly, the fair maiden in the castle….

Following breakfast we all drove in convoy to the local town of Sarlat. Unfortunately we were a little late for the Sunday markets, but still enjoyed wandering around the narrow streets of this pictureque little town.

So many shops offering local delicacies, souvenirs and the like. Lots selling Pate de Foies Gras, something I was looking forward to having a taste of (without thinking of its origins). I loved the narrow cobblestone streets, quaint little houses, all the Frenchness really!

I was even lucky enough to stumble acroos a small gallery featuring an exhibition of works from the local Photographic Club.

We lunched on a long table at this outdoors restaurant, soaking up the atmosphere with some food and a glass or two of wine.

Little Miss Elissa, enjoying her book…

Declan tucks into a very French choice….Hamburger… and frites of course!

Miranda, looking oh so very Madeleine with her hair all specially cut for the trip!

Walking off our meal we came across this lady singing a tune. I must find the little video I took of this.

Elissa doing a spot of window shopping…

We returned to the Chateau, where the kids were quite keen to try out the pool. Icy cold by all accounts, though it didn’t seem to stop them. Or Kellie!

Miller proved herself to be quite the water baby! And how cute is she in the little spotty outfit????

And just to prove once again how beautiful this location is, here is a shot of the view upstream from the pool.

Mum and Dad offered to watch all of the children so us “big kids” could head in to the village. We found ourselves a table at the outdoor cafe and had a few quiet drinks. The Pina Coladas were horrible. Holly, Kellie and I have vowed to travel the world in search of the best Pina Colada. La Roque Gageac does not get our vote! If was a fun afternoon, but of course we had to head back to get the kids dinner and bed routine set in motion. Luckily it’s a 2 minute walk from the centre of the village to our chateau.

Here are two fairly terrible pics taken with the P&S on our walk back home. The first in particular shows the location of the chateau in relation to the village.

We all headed down into the kitchen garden with Jacques to collect eggs and vegetable for our meals. Once again excuse the quality of these shots, this little camera does not deal with tricky situations at all well (and has NO manual controls at all……why oh why was I such a cheapskate??)

The kids fed and into bed we headed into the dining room for another fine meal prepared for us by our hosts. This time it was fish in butter sauce followed by Creme Brulee. Magnifique! Dad gave us a little presentation of their trip prior to arriving here at the chateau which was very interesting. Poor dears spent a bit of time up in the Champagne area. Too bad. Luckily they brought lots of samples with them for us to taste 🙂

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Day 8 – London to France

Today was all about travelling. We caught the tube to Victoria Station dragging along our masses of luggage and excited children, and boarded a train to Gatwick for our flight to Bordeaux. Gatwick was a little odd. We waited for what seemed like forever in the main shopping area, before receiving a gate number about 5 minutes before the flight was ready to depart. Crazy. My diligent planning had us there WAY early, so the kids were going a little nuts by that time… (warning, P&S shots coming up)…..

Erin took this one (great panning Erin!):

The flight was quick. It wasn’t long before we had crossed the English Channel and were over France. The plane was really old, not exactly great. The onboard snack was birdseed (I kid you not, a wee little bag of nuts and seeds), not all that great when we were all completely ravenous. Considering it cost under $500 for the 5 of us though, I won’t complain!

Landing in France was so exciting for me. I was seriously teary and emotional. Last time I was in France was in the school holidays between years 11 and 12. So, some 20 years ago (eek). I have ALWAYS wanted to return, and to be able to bring the kids was just so wonderful and amazing, and well, great. Couldn’t wait to get off the plane.

Bordeaux was larger than I had expected, a real city where I guess I had imagined a regional town. We quickly got ourselves set up in the hire car, and set out to La Roque Gageac, where everyone else had already arrived and was waiting for us. Speaking to Mum along the way we were told it was “even better than we could have imagined”. Talk about building us up for some excitement!! Let me tell you now, totally warranted.

Let me just warn you at this point that this blog is about to become even more “image-heavy” than before. I was in serious photographers heaven!!

Unfotunately because we had flown in late and everyone was waiting for us for a special dinner we had to stick with the motorways instead of taking the backroads. Still, the scenery on the drive was just beautiful. And once we got off the autoroutes and onto the back roads it was nothing short of stunning.

With the sun low in the sky, we passed through lots of beautiful little towns:

We did make a few wrong turns on the drive too, the directions we’d downloaded from Via Michelin were less than fantastic.

By the time we were getting close to our destination the light was failing, revealing the most beautiful colours.

We arrived to the Chateau de la Malatrie at La Roque Gageac in complete darkness. The castle was perched above the river, and promised to provide us with majestic views come morning. Approaching it by car I was overwhelmed by it’s size, impressed by it’s beauty. One word – magnificent! It was a pity we couldn’t get much of an idea of the location.

The family were all waiting for us, having arrived earlier in the day.

Stepping through the big, heavy entrance doors we found ourselves in a large foyer, stone walls, a stone staircase curling upward to the floors above. Beautiful. A fabulous meal had been prepared for us by our hosts Jaques and Marys (sp?, and was about to be served in the beautiful dining room.

Miller and the kids perched around Miller’s DVD player

After dinner was over Erin decided to put together a quiz for everyone. Fun, but I think we were all pretty much exhausted and ready for sleep by then. Why do the kids have so much more energy than us adults??

It certainly was a relief to head to bed after such a long day. We were on the the third floor of the chateau (about a gazillion steps up). The girls in the end room, Declan in his own little room in the middle, then Shane & I in a huge room with ensuite. Our room we lovingly nicknamed the “flower vomit room”. It had seriously hideous green & orange flower wallpaper all over the walls & ceilings. Not pretty flowers either. They were pretty damn ugly. I wonder if I took a photo of that?

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Day 5 – London

We flew through the night from Singapore to London, to arrive in London just before 5am. Due to troubles on the ground we sat on the tarmac till closer to 6am. The kids were brilliant during the flight, but by that time they were starting to get a bit antsy to get off the plane. Don’t blame them.

We wasted time over coffee at Heathrow before catching the Airport Express to Paddington. From there it was supposed to be an easy walk to our hotel. Supposed to be. Factor in three tired children, 5 suitcases and 5 carry on bags, along with really lousy directions and it wasn’t quite as easy as expected. In the end we got completely lost. I pulled over a lady to help me, and in the most outstanding coincidence she was the owner of the hotel we were standing in front of AND the owner of our hotel! Fabulous!! She arranged for a porter to come & take care of some of our bags and show us the way. We were incredibly grateful.

We left the luggage at the hotel, and being very close to Hyde Park decided to take a bit of a walk to kill time before we could officially check in.

With many rests along the way we walked down to the Diana, Princess of Wales, Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens. Everyone was starving so we ordered a pizza. Actually, two pizzas.  Was absolutely delicious. Mind you, in our ravenous state we may have thought that about anything they served up to us!

The playground itself was quite amazing. A huge pirate ship (a big hit with Declan), lots of paths leading to interesting little areas. Lots of musical toys, swinging things, things to climb and hide in. Kids paradise!

We must have spent quite a few hours at the park before we decided everyone was too tired to go much further. We stopped at Queensway for a few groceries so we didn’t have to eat out.

We were in the hotel, eaten dinner and all asleep by, well, about 4pm!

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Day 3 – Singapore

The children were up bright & early again. No surprises there. They would have been up earlier if Harry had his way, he was sitting on the doorstep waiting to play with the kids at the crack of dawn!

Here is a quick pick of the main house where we stayed in Singapore. A lovely, tropical oasis surrounded by the most amazing vegetation. Inside was quite beautiful too, Suzie is an amazing decorator!

We stayed just off the side of the main house to the right of this picture. Here is Erin scooting along outside our room:

And one of the girls in their new PJ’s we picked up on our shopping expedition the day before:

The weather was a bit cooler (still hot, just a little less sticky, and more overcast). We caught a cable car to Sentosa Island for the day. Now, our hosts didn’t seem all that willing to recommend Sentosa, and from a few more honest tour guide books I had read, I was a little unsure what to expect. I’d heard tacky. And I guess in some ways it was. Highly commercialised. Absolutely manufactured and artificial. But I’ll get to that a bit later.

The kids loved the glass-bottomed cable car ride. To be honest, I think the glass-bottomed bit was a bit of a gimmick. Don’t be expecting a big glass base to look through. Do expect a few little windows of glass you can peer through and see, well, grass. Then water, then trees. Certainly not worth the extra money in my opinion. And I don’t know if it was just the gloomy day, but this was the first time we’d had any outlook on Singapore, and I found it, well, a bit uninteresting. Perhaps the fact the cable car travels over docklands and construction works has something to do with it.

Transport on Sentosa Island is very well organised. Once you’ve paid to get there, all buses are free, and run on a number of regular circuits. All very easy.

First stop for us was the Aquarium. Shane & Miranda were brave enough to touch the stingrays in the touch pool. I was more hesitant, as was Erin. And Declan wasn’t going anywhere near them! I did have a quick touch when I plucked up the courage. Eeeeew. Slimy.

There were also a number of tropical tanks set up for touching. Great idea 🙂

I think I went a little crazy on photographing things. It was all just so vivid with colour, and really quite beautiful.

They had the undersea walkway like we have at Sydney Aquarium. Love these.

A quick bus ride with our friendly tour guide and we were at the Cinebuzz – a 3D log ride. This was a real blast, and the kids were all begging to have another go. Not likely when we calculated it would cost $60 for all 5 of us to have a repeat go!

We again hopped on the bus and headed for Siloso Beach. It was nice to just sit for a while with a bit of lunch while the kids played in the sand and climbed on the palms.

As I mentioned before, Sentosa is a somewhat “manufactured” environment. Nowhere more evident than here at Siloso Beach. The sand had all been shipped in, the rock walls forming the harbour concreted in place, the trees planted. Nevertheless it was quite pretty (though glance beyond the mouth of the small inlet and you see the massive container ships and industrialism of the Straight of Singapore).

The kids had a bit of a swim, but Miranda was quickly crying about the water stinging her, with Declan not far behind. Erin, always the trooper stayed in quite a while longer than the others with no ill effect. Declan made friends with a quite odd asian woman and her daughter. They couldn’t stop looking at him and calling him “handsome boy”.

Last step of our Sentosa Mega Adventure Day was the Dolphin Show. Pink dolphins, which I had never seen before. They are much bigger than our dolphins, and as Declan said “They’re ugly”! There were only 3 dolphins. They did a few tricks, but certainly nothing to rival the Seaworld dolphins on the Gold Coast. Not having seen those yet though, our kids were more than impressed with these ones.

We finished the day off with kids to early bed, and a quiet dinner at home with Suzie & Tim.

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We’re Back – the story begins – Day 1

What a fabulous time we’ve had!!! I have so much to share, so much to tell. It’s going to be a huge task to blog our travels, but I’m determined to do it, so will start now. I’ll try & tackle each day of our holiday day by day, sharing our photos, and excerpts from my travel diary.

Day 1 – Sydney to Singapore

Getting ready for this holiday has been a fairly momentous task, so it was great to be finally under way. Sydney was having it’s first really warm spring day. We drove the car to Windsor station to catch the train to the airport. In itself it was quite a journey!


The flight went very well. The children were kept amused by a combination of in flight videos, activity books and Nintendo DS. And eating. All praise to British Airways for their excellent kids meals.

We stepped out of Singapore Airport into all-enveloping humidity. We were an instant sweat bath!

To be honest I was a little worried at that stage about the heat. After all, it was about 10pm at night, imagine what it would be like by day!

We caught a maxi-taxi out to the home of Suzie & Tim, our hosts for this leg of our journey.

Having never been to Singapore before I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. My first impression by night was a sense of orderliness. So many appartment buildings, row upon row. Clean streets. And if our driver was any example, friendly people 🙂

We were welcomed by Suzie’s husband Tim to their home, a tropical oasis of sorts! We had two lovely rooms in a separate building from the main house. What a lovely place to live this appears (especially the help on site!) . Suzie arrived a little later, having been at the local golf club at a function. It had been more than 10 years since I last saw her, and she’s still the bubbly, vivacious person I remembered. It was fabulous to catch up with her after all that time.

I must say that bed was a relief!

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