There were also movies and comedy shows. Guests can spend time at the gym or swimming. The kids braved the swimming pool construction after breakfast one morning but ended up playing around as the water was not heated and too cold for them. There was also massage spa and salon for a fee.
What we love about the cruise -
*having everything organised and all we had to do was dress up and show up
*having time everyday to catch up and chat by ourselves and not having to worry about the kids
*lots of friendly Filipino crews - when i answered the post cruise survey, I noticed that hospitality was a priority. i think without bias that they picked the right people for the job
*kids and young families have plenty of things to do
*island day was very organised
*quality food served at every meal
What we learned -
*bring some cash and open an account for on board expenses
*booking onshore activities are great,but with young kids, we had to play by ear. Best to see how you go and not plan too many activities
*shops and services have sales towards the end of the cruise so you may want to look out for those
*we got asked to stop for photo ops and for the most part we were happy to oblige. It was then sold to us at a steep price.Because we did not spend much,we may have gotten a little carried away and splurge.
We did catch the "cruise bug" and have since been on the lookout for our next trip.
I had a somebody moment and I didn't even realise it.
I recently listened to a podcast from church about an "everybody" to a "somebody" message, one that moves from a generic message for everyone to one that is spoken directly to you ( as our pastor so eloquently explained).
Well, it happened one Sunday during the afternoon service of missions giving.
The whole month of March was missions month and we got to hear stories from our church missionaries. Along with that came the challenge to prayerfully give towards missions. So my husband and I prayed separately, and as missions Sunday came, I asked him how much he felt we should give, to which he quoted double the amount that I felt we should. I kept quiet. I wish I can say I quietly prayed but I didn't. I was silently calculating in my head where the money will come from.
I think for as long as I can remember, when we pray about how much to give and we get different amounts, we have decided to go with whichever is higher. I don't really remember why, we just did.
That Sunday when the missions giving was about to be collected, I picked up the form and began filling it out, leaving the amount empty. I negotiated with God in my head. I did not want to verbally complain and nullify whatever "return" that giving means but I sure complained nonetheless, I even had a scripture to back me up. I was asking God questions. In the end we did not let the bucket pass us by without putting in beyond what we could.
That evening we came back and it felt like God was personally talking to me during the whole preaching. The speaker used the scripture that I was thinking about that morning. And when he said that the only way he and his wife gives is all in, that was exactly one of the thoughts I had, except I was asking why we always had to give " all in" even when we didn't have anything.
I felt a God moment that night, with every single reason I raised in my head gently reassured. I felt a sense of relief that we released the finances anyway even if it was not easy and completely beyond our ability.
A week later, we went away for a few days, had the best fun, and paid everything in cash. Sure our car battery died and had to make an emergency expense, but we did not break the bank.
The next week I got paid, and to my surprise, I received more, a little bit over the amount that I struggled to release that Missions Sunday.
I thought it was a reminder that God is looking after us, that every single thought we have is important to Him, even the ones that remain unspoken.
I know that I would still have received extra if we didn't give because it actually came from penalty rates for working during the holiday, but it wouldn't have meant as much as it did when we found out. And the timing of the amount we released and the extra pay is nothing short of amazing. I'm glad we obeyed anyway, even if I grumbled, albeit in silence. Good thing it did not disqualify us from experiencing the joy that came with it.
If I learned any lesson from this experience, it is that God is NOT intimidated with my questions. And even if my circumstances says I can't afford it but I clearly heard what I needed to do, I should release and obey anyway.
|Some of the views on the way to the camping site|
Picking a Campsite
Since it was our first trip, I thought we should take it easy and stay close to home so Bonnie Vale Campground was the obvious choice because it is powered, it has hot shower and has mobile coverage. And my darling husband being on the job most of the time, making sure a resource facility is running smoothly without hitches, it was an easy choice. But at the time I was looking, it was fully booked til close to school opening.
|taken from the website here|
We arrived at the campsite at 4pm, after almost cancelling because of a little argument about storage. That did lead to lots of ideas on decluttering, forcing me to book for council clean up, which was good.
We forgot our lighter so on our first night, we had fruits, sandwiches thinking we couldn't cook. We found out the funny way that the advice to try equipment before going makes sense. Sure we knew our tent could endure some rain and we can stay dry but we ran out of time and left getting the butane gas last minute and did not care to read the instructions. Good thing we did not starve that night!!
|Testing the Waters|
|Chasing Wombi the Wombat|
We had brunch at the visitors cafe, after a massive breakfast at the campsite. We were probably bracing ourselves for a little trek, that even the kids enjoyed themselves!
|This made us want to jump in!|
|Jersey Lane with this two|
|At the Cafe where I was trying to make a point about not being scared but....|
Tallowa Dam/Lake Yarrunga
We were ready to turn around but after driving for a bit, thought it would be silly to turn. So we kept driving til we can see the water. It was a beautiful lake, with a picnic site and kangaroo running around. There were a number of guests going for a canoe ride.The lake was a much better spot for swimming as it wasn't as muddy and the toilets were clean.
|Love the look of the police station|
|Kangaroo Valley Town Hall|
|This is a private play area so we had to order some kids meal after lunch so we can stay|
|This was the pie place we went to whose name escaped us|
|shop at the main street|
Pioneer Museum Park
My most vivid memory of the museum was a sign that cars parked by illegally will be towed and turned into beer cans! It has lots of history in one venue,with every cottage a story of its own.
|One Vehicle at a time|
|The Kids were getting bored but they lightened up when I told them there is a Tardis outside. |
It is a telephone booth of course
|The Telephone Switchboard|
|The Hanging Bridge (I'm sure it was called something but forgot)|
We spent some time practicing letters and numbers with the kids. Mr D was oozing with confidence while his sister, eleven months his junior skips a few things and asks us for clues. We specifically grilled her with her numbers because we noticed that she goes ....14..16...17..18.One time after repeatedly asking her, one of us went, okay - can you count 1 to 20 for me, to which she would reply - 1..2..20 :p Other times she would burst into tunes that she made up herself,one of which was a variation of a song from one of her favourite games with lyrics that says - i'm so fabulous..i'm so fabulous!!! Not to be outdone, the little mister would then pose in one of his superhero characters then scream: I AM the INCREDIBLE Daniel!
The most hilarious was probably when I gave them a bath using water from the tap - they both screamed like little girls -MUMMYYYYYYYYY it's too cold!!Mind you it was a very hot day so the water was not so bad.
Naturally we stopped for ice cream in Kiama on our drive back! The kids also went to see the blowhole and a bit of trampoline fun.
|All photos taken through Google Nexus and the really sharp and vivid ones via OnePlus One|
Because I read that we should go early, by the time we got there,we sort of panicked and picked the first available spot we liked. The spot was fine but the ground was not flat in the middle, which was okay when kids slept on that side. It became a problem when two adults slept on it, causing back pains. So we learned that we should have driven around to see the whole area, which we did on our last day and saw lots of empty spots that would have been perfect.
We also realized that we needed to account for the proximity to toilets, tap and showers.
We clearly did a research of the area but probably not well enough to organize our movement and be more efficient and effective with our time.
I suppose in the end, for a first time, it went really well. The fact is we had great fun, the kids were gadget free and we went out and enjoyed the beauty of nature. What kept running in my head as I sat and look at our view was the magnificence of the surroundings and how surely it did not just pop out without a Creator behind it!
Our little family is truly grateful for such a beautiful experience! I think we are in for a great adventure ahead!
But it did. And I shouldn't be surprised. But I am. I really only have myself to blame. I should be able to recognise these characters by now. But I like looking at the good in them that I overlook my better judgement.
Not anymore. Especially with this kind.The bullies who stir trouble and blame others in the end. The ones who throw accusations and make them sound as truth. And are they believable!!! At some point it is best to give up. And in some cases it is best to let go. And let things be.
For the sake of peace.
Because there are more important things in life. And being proven RIGHT is not on top of my list.