The Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden

The Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden Entry

With the weather heating up The Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden at the Royal Botanical Gardens Melbourne is open and ready to be explored.

We took a trip to the gardens the other week and spent a few hours being inspired by the gardens, ponds and sculptures.

What’s really great about The Children’s Garden is that everything is easily accessible to the kids, with signs and sculptures at their height.

The Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden

There are spots to sit and relax…

Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden Pond

And spots to climb and explore…

Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden Climbing

The Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden Exploring

The Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden Climbing
A highlight is the vegetable garden, where you can learn about how to sustainably grow your own food and also have a dig while you’re there.

The Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden Veggie Garden

Take a look at this video that takes you on a tour of the Children’s Garden:

This was the first of many trips to the Children’s Garden this season as it’s always such a fun, memorable adventure.

The Children’s Garden is only a small section of the immense Royal Botanic Gardens and you could easily spend a day (or more) exploring all that the gardens have to offer.

We parked near the gardens, but it’s also a short walk from trams which run along St Kilda Road:

For more gardens with kids check out my post about The St Kilda Botanical Gardens.

Black Rock Playground and Beach

Black Rock Playground and Beach

Now the weather is heating up we’re venturing out to explore playgrounds located all over Melbourne. Our latest adventure took us to Black Rock Playground and Beach, about half an hour drive south of the Melbourne CBD.

Black Rock is a seaside suburb with something for everybody – an extensive playground, beach, shops, restaurants and cafes.

The boys were mainly interested in playing in the playground, so we spent a few hours watching them explore while enjoying the adjacent beach air and views. The playground boasts a ship for the kids to navigate as well as all the regular playground favourites.

Black Rock Playground Ship

Black Rock Playground Swings

Black Rock Playground Melbourne

It was too cold for swimming on the day we visited, instead beach-goers were enjoying dipping their toes into the water and enjoying the beachy vibes!

Black Rock Beach Melbourne

Black Rock Beach Melbourne
Once the boys were done playing we headed to Davey Mac’s for a delicious gelato. After all, what visit to a beachside park would be complete without gelato?!

Not exactly sure HOW, but my youngest ninja ended up biting a hole into his ice cream cone at a most precarious position. Thankfully there were no ice cream incidents as a result and we all enjoyed our sweet treats.

Davey Macs Black Rock Gelato Ice Cream

Whenever we visit Black Rock we park at the public car park a few doors up from Davey Mac’s, where there is plenty of FREE parking. Just make sure you read the time limit restrictions and set an alarm on your phone to return to your car, so you don’t get a ticket! The car park is located at 588 Balcombe Road, Black Rock and is a short walk from the beach and playground:

We always enjoy a visit to the Black Rock Playground and Beach!

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How Velocity Family Pooling Fast Tracked Us To Gold Status With Virgin Australia

How Velocity Family Pooling Fast Tracked Us To Gold Status With Virgin Australia

How Velocity Family Pooling Fast Tracked Us To Gold Status With Virgin Australia

Virgin Australia offers one of the coolest benefits to Velocity members when flying with your family – family pooling.

What is family pooling?

Let me briefly explain how it works:

Whenever you book and fly a paid trip you earn points and status credits. Points can be used to book flights, upgrades and other rewards. Status credits are what you need to accumulate to climb the frequent flyer ladder to achieve perks such as priority check-in/boarding and airline lounge access.

To accumulate enough status credits to achieve gold status would take a LOT of flying.

That’s where family pooling comes in. You can pool together the status credits from the family into one account.

How to set up your family pool:

Your family pool can include yourself and one other adult (your partner) and up to four children under 18, all must be living at the same home address.

Decide who you will pool all the points and status too. If you always fly together then it doesn’t really matter which adult receives the status. If, however, one of you travels alone for business or other purposes then it’s best to pool the status to them so that they can take advantage of the status benefits when you achieve them.

Once you’ve decided, you need to log into each family member’s velocity frequent flyer account to set up the direction of the pool. Here’s how:

  1. On the “My Account” Page, select “Family Pooling” from the left hand menu or under “My Benefits” click the “Family Pooling” option.
  2. You can then choose whether you want to pool only your points or your status credits and points. To accumulate status credits towards a higher status level, select to credit both points and status credits.
  3. Enter the name and velocity membership number that you want to pool the status credits and points to.
  4. Read the confirmation and proceed.
  5. Read and accept the terms and conditions then confirm.
  6. Repeat the process to pool all eligible family members to the status and points recipient to complete the family pool.

Important note: Make sure your family pool is set up before you travel to receive all the points and credits.

How to achieve Gold Status:

Let me show you how it works in a real life example – how we pooled our status credits to achieve the 500 Status Credits required for GOLD Status:

For our England Trip last year we flew discount economy Sinagpore Airlines (a Virgin Australia partner) from Melbourne to London earning the following status credits per person:

  • Melbourne to Singapore – 30 Status Credits
  • Singapore to London – 40 Status Credits
  • London to Singapore – 40 Status Credits
  • Singapore to Melbourne – 30 Status Credits
  • Total per person = 140 Status Credits

As there are 4 members in our family, the total per person is multiplied by 4 to get the total amount pooled to one family member – 560 Status Credits.

In our case we had sufficient status credits but needed something called a sector. 4 Sectors are needed to achieve gold status.

A sector is any flight from point A to point B with a Virgin Australia flight number – not one of their partners. Sectors cannot be pooled so need to be flown by the person receiving the status credits. We achieved that by enjoying a family weekend in Sydney (earning 2 sectors) and I attended a conference which earned the remaining 2 sectors.

Now we are GOLD!!!

To maintain gold we need 400 status credits, which we will easily achieve during our end of year European holiday. As some sectors will be in business class, we should even accumulate enough for Platinum! (More on that in upcoming posts… make sure you subscribe to the weekly newsletter to receive all the details!)

Needless to say, I’m a huge fan of Virgin Australia and Family Pooling. If you regularly fly with your family on Virgin Australia and their partners and aren’t already signed up for family pooling, then I hope this post inspires you to set up your pool!

Budget Travelers Sandbox

How To Save Spending Money For A Family Holiday

How To Save Spending Money For A Family Holiday

How To Save Spending Money For A Family Holiday

In the post “Top Tips For Setting A Family Travel Budget” I discussed factors you need to consider when setting a travel budget for your family.

So, how do you actually get hold of or SAVE enough for spending money for your budget? In this post I’ll show you how to save spending money for a family holiday.

Here are a couple of ways, baring in mind I am NOT a financial expert in any way, shape or form, I’m just a Mum who manages her family’s finances and regularly saves for holidays and holiday spending money using a combination of the following methods:

Separate Savings Account

Open a separate holiday savings bank account and deposit a set amount each week straight into the account. This account should be purely for holidays and not dipped into for other expenses.

You won’t even have to think about it, the account will accumulate funds over time and it should be easy to pay for airfares and hotels when needed.

Cash Envelope

I wouldn’t recommend squirreling away thousands of dollars, but you could pick a “lower” denomination, such as $5, $10 or $20, and whenever one of those notes enters your wallet you empty it into the cash envelope.

Your cash envelope could quickly grow to top up your Savings Account or be used for holiday extras such as souvenirs or fancy/luxury nights out.

Sacrificing Luxuries

In order to save the necessary budget amount each week, either you need to earn more money (wouldn’t that be wonderful!) or sacrifice luxuries through the year so that you can have the ultimate family holiday. Luxuries can include regularly buying expensive coffee while out and about, eating meals at restaurants or going out to the movies. Choose to eat more meals at home and skip the movies!

Sacrificing luxuries each week is a quick way to find the funds you need for your separate savings account or cash envelope.

Sell Unwanted Items

In addition to sacrificing luxuries, you may also want to consider selling items such as clothing or toys which are no longer needed (but in good condition) on websites such as eBay.

The profits made from selling your unwanted items can go straight to your holiday savings account.

You can do it!

Following these steps should help your holiday savings grow and make it really easy to afford regular family holidays without breaking the bank!

Got any tips to add? I’d love to hear them in the comments.

Image Sourced & Adapted from Flickr.

Queen Victoria Market Melbourne

Queen Victoria Market Melbourne

Over the weekend we visited the Queen Victoria Market Melbourne – known simply to locals as the “Vic Market”.

At the Vic Market you’ll find fresh produce, souvenirs, clothing, technology and more! (Here’s a list of all the shops and stalls.)

Market Organics at the Vic Market

Vic Market Melbourne

The atmosphere on a Sunday is relaxed, yet busy with locals and tourists enjoying what the market has to offer. This weekend we enjoyed a particularly glorious Spring day. Here’s a look at the lunch time buzz:

My favourite spot at the Vic Market is the Deli Hall. It’s a foodie’s paradise! With a delicious variety of cuisines and delicacies on offer, there’s something for every taste.

Vic Market Food Hall Melbourne

We indulged in treats from the Deli Hall. There’s just so much to choose from but we were after a sweet treat (or two) so went with chocolate croissants and a chocolate chip brioche. (To share!) Both were fresh and delicious. My oldest was particularly pleased with the sweets…

Queen Victoria Market Melbourne Food

Here’s a short video I took inside the expansive Deli Hall, with it’s mouth watering array of delicacies:

At the moment there are “Yarn Bombing” installations by Yarn Corner scattered around the market. They are bright and colourful and we found them to be a delightful addition to the diverse market.

Yarn Bombing at Vic Market Yarn Bombing Installation Queen Victoria Market Melbourne

It was a fun family outing and we look forward to visiting again soon.

The Queen Victoria Market Melbourne is open Tuesdays and Thursday to Sundays and is not to be missed when you’re visiting Melbourne.

Sharing at: Travel Tuesday. Wednesday Wanderlust.

Natural History Museum at Tring

Natural History Museum at Tring

Natural History Museum at Tring

During our England Trip last year we visited the Natural History Museum at Tring. We’d heard great things about this unusual museum and were eager to check it out.

The history of the museum is fascinating – eccentric animal lover Lionel Walter Rothschild amassed a collection of thousands of animals from around the world which became the foundation of the today’s museum.

Once you get over the fact that this museum hosts a vast array of “stuffed” animals it’s actually an interesting museum to explore with kids as many of the animals are now extinct.

Kids at Natural History Museum Tring

Natural History Museum at Tring Natural History Museum Tring Display

Natural History Museum Hertfordshire

Aside from room after room and display after display of exotic animals, there are plenty of hands on and interactive activities for the kids to learn animal facts.

Natural History Museum at Tring Activity Natural History Museum at Tring Interactive Display

Once you’ve explored the museum, there’s a small garden area at the back for fresh air and to admire the beautiful building.

Natural History Museum at Tring Gardens

Overall our visit to the Natural History Museum at Tring was fascinating. It’s an amazing opportunity to safely get up close with animals that you wouldn’t usually have a chance to see, because they are either extinct or too dangerous to investigate close up.

The Natural History Museum at Tring is open 7 days and is free.

Click here for more information.

Sharing at: Travel Tuesday. Wednesday Wanderlust. Travel Photo Thursday.

Tesselaar Tulip Festival Review

Tesselaar Tulip Festival Review

Tesselaar Tulip Festival Review

Over the weekend we were lucky enough to tiptoe through the tulips at Tesselaar Tulip Festival located a short drive from Melbourne in the picturesque Dandenongs. So here’s my Tesselaar Tulip Festival Review.

The tulip festival showcases over half a million vibrant tulips across 25 acres of colourful hillsides. The 120 varieties means that there is something for everybody.

If I had to pick a favourite variety then I’d go with the striking red tulips, appearing to glow a luminous red hue in the glorious sunshine.

That’s enough from me… here’s a look at some of the rainbow of tulips you’ll see at Tesselaar Tulip Festival:

Welcome to the Tulip Festival Windmill At The Tulip Festival

Tesselaar Tulip Festival Review Exploring the tulips

Tulip Festival Tulip Festival

Children at Tulip Festival

Tesselaar Tulip Festival Review

Field of tulips Pretty Tulips Tulips Hillside

Tesselaar Tulip Festivsl

As you can see, amongst the beautiful tulips were attractions for the kids – from a windmill to kangaroos, there’s heaps to keep the kids entertained while you admire the scenery together.

While visiting I couldn’t help but marvel at the phenomenal planning effort that must have gone on to orchestrate field after field of blooming tulips. It’s just mind blowing!

The Tesselaar Tulip Festival really was a feast for the senses and an inspiring outing for the whole family.

The festival is on from 10th September to 6th October 2015.

Click here for all the details.

Sharing at: The Weekly Postcard. The Ultimate Rabbit Hole.

Flying Singapore Airlines With Kids

Singapore Airlines With Children

Flying Singapore Airlines With Kids

Recently we flew from Melbourne to London with Singapore Airlines. We had our 4 and 6 year old boys along for the journey.

There’s a huge choice of airlines when flying from Melbourne to London. We came to the decision to fly Singapore Airlines for a number of reasons. We flew with them a few years prior when I was pregnant with my 4 year old and my 6 year old was 16 months old. It was a real challenge to fly with a just walking, barely talking toddler who DID NOT WANT TO BE ON THE PLANE!

The crew were fantastic and left a lasting impression of doing all they could to make the journey as pleasant as possible. From spacing out the meals for my Husband and I so we each had a chance to eat or look after our then toddler to being incredibly helpful, offering my Husband a pair of First Class Pyjamas when our darling 16 month old vomited on him.

Aside from our previous experience Singapore Airlines does have a reputation for being fantastic with children so it was really a no brainer to fly with them.

OK, so on to THIS particular flight experience.

Singapore Airlines With Kids

We flew from Melbourne to Singapore then on to London and did the same in reverse. Rather than share four reviews, I’m going to share the overall experience of all four flights.

Singapore Airlines to London

On boarding the flight crew were incredibly friendly. Once seated we were asked for the boys names and then through the flight the boys were addressed by name, which I found to be really thoughtful.

We chose to sit four across for the first flight and the boys enjoyed sitting next to each other and found the seats to be really roomy.

Family Travel On Singapore Airlines

There was an extensive selection of movies and TV shows for kids. They watched the Lego Movie umpteen times and I may or may not have listened to the Frozen soundtrack (by choice!) a couple of times! (I have two boys who mildly enjoyed Frozen and didn’t get into the music so I have not been overwhelmed by Frozen fever so can enjoy the music at my own free will… if I had kids that listened to it around the clock I’m guessing I’d feel differently about it?!?!) Anyway….

We took kids sized headphones for the boys which made it really easy to hook straight onto the entertainment system and listen comfortably.

Singapore Airlines Great With Kids

The remaining flights we did not have the option of four across due to the seating configuration. Luckily we had my Mum with us so she sat next to our oldest just across the aisle from my Husband and I with our youngest. We found our youngest slept really well seated next to the window, as he could spread out and lean against it to sleep.

On that note – as we were taking off from Singapore on route to London, my youngest REALLY wanted to play a game of UNO. Unfortunately we couldn’t because the seatbelt sign was on and so we couldn’t put the tray table down. We promised him that as soon as the sign was off we would play.

While waiting he fell asleep thanks to the darkened cabin during taxi and take off. A few hours later he woke crying, remembering the promise and demanding to play right away! My wonderful Husband played a game with him and then he went straight back to sleep for a couple of hours!

UNO was a real lifesaver through our trip. The boys happily played game after game throughout the trip and it took up very little space in our carry on luggage.

Flying Singapore Airlines With Kids

The food was really good, which is surprising for airline food. My favourite meal was breakfast shortly before landing in London. It was all fresh, tasty and full of delicious breakfast options – fruit, yoghurt, orange juice, eggs and cooked vegetables.

Singapore Airlines Food

As you can see in the cup holder below, our kids were given their drinks in plastic cups with lids and bendy straws which was just fantastic. It took away the spillage worry, yet my youngest still insisted on drinking from a cup as well!

Singapore Airlines Kids Food

It took a little coercing but both boys had good sleeps along the journey. They were so well behaved throughout which made the whole journey incredibly pleasant.

Each trip included a brief couple of hours stopover in Singapore Changi Airport. There’s just so much to explore in this kid friendly airport that each stopover was incredibly rushed and full of fun.

Changi Airport Singapore With Kids

The Overall Experience was incredibly pleasant considering we were travelling with two young children. The plane was comfortable, there was plenty of appropriate kid friendly entertainment and the flight attendants were lovely too.

I’d confidently recommend them to parents with children. Have you flown Singapore Airlines? What has your experience been like?

Sharing at: Wednesday Wanderlust. Travel Photo Thursday. Weekend Wanderlust.

Disclosure – this post contains affiliate links.

Star Wars ANA Plane

Star Wars ANA Plane

Star Wars ANA Plane

Exciting news for Star Wars fans, in a dream come true ANA Airlines has recently launched a Star Wars themed plane – ANA Star Wars Project R2-D2 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. 

The Star Wars ANA Plane is being flown by Japan’s largest airline – All Nippon Airways (ANA) and is scheduled to commence flights between Tokyo Haneda and Vancouver on the 18th of October 2015.

Star Wars ANA Plane

The plane is decked out with a Star Wars themed interior too.

ANA has a dedicated website with all the Star Wars plane info you need.

Here’s a quick promo video from ANA Airlines showing every angle of the unique Dreamliner:

This video was taken just a few days ago when ANA Airlines officially launched the Star Wars Plane:

My Star Wars crazy boys have watched these videos over and over again and would be thrilled with a ride on the Star Wars ANA Plane!

Image Sources.

Wendover Woods including Adventure Playground & Cafe In The Woods

Wendover Woods The Chilterns

The Chilterns have a reputation for outstanding natural beauty, peaceful woodlands and rolling hillsides.

For our England trip last year, we opted to stay in the serenity of a country town near the Chilterns over a bustling London holiday apartment. It meant driving in one direction or another to visit family but it also meant we got to make the most of the countryside by exploring nearby woodlands and peaceful settings.

We were lucky enough to stay close to the Wendover Woods and were eager to explore the woodlands with the kids.

I’d found the Cafe In The Woods while researching where to go in the Chilterns area and the fact that there’s a playground nearby sealed the deal.

We visited the woods twice during our stay, once when it was dry and sunny and the other visit following a rainy spell when there were plenty of muddy puddles that the kids just couldn’t resist jumping in. (Make sure you take boots just in case!)

The adventure playground is just fantastic. There’s plenty for the kids to climb, swing and explore.

Wendover Woods Adventure Playground Wendover Woods Adventure Playground Wendover Woods Adventure Playground

My youngest wasn’t a huge fan of getting his hands covered in mud…

Wendover Woods Adventure Playground

For the grown ups, it’s wonderful to be in such a peaceful, serene environment where you can just be at one with nature and breathe in fresh air while the kids play and explore for hours.

Wendover Woods The Chilterns

After exploring the playground we indulged in hot chocolates at the Cafe In The Woods.

Cafe in the Woods Wendover Woods

There are also nature walks through the woods and the popular Go Ape Adventures for older children.

Wendover Woods was everything we expected and more… the peaceful woodlands are just wonderful and the kids had such fun exploring the adventure playground. I highly recommend a visit if you’re lucky enough to find yourself in the serene Chilterns.

For more information visit:

Wendover Woods Website

Cafe In The Woods

Forest Adventures With Go Ape

Sharing at: Travel Tuesday. Monday Escapes.