Our top 10 reno FAQs

In no particular order, here are some of the questions we are frequently being asked about our reno project. 

1. How’s the renovation going?

So far, so good!

2. How did you find your architect?

Google search: <Suburb name> + architect 

3. How did you find your builder?

Google search: <Suburb name> + builder 

4. Are you managing the build yourself?

No. Our builder’s running the show. 

5. Can you live in your house while you’re renovating?

Nope! Only two bedrooms were left standing after the demo, and they are both being fully renovated as well. 

6. How long will it take?

The contract says seven months, so maybe a little longer than that taking into account the usual delays.

7. Are you going up?

No, just back, and wide. 

8. Was it hard to get your planning permit?

Not as bad as we thought. It took about six months, but we didn’t even have to hang a yellow sign on our fence, and the council only asked for three minor amendments. 

9. Did TG get his wine cellar?

Yes. But it’s more like a wine cupboard. 

10. Did you get your library?

Yes! 

And … a few recent photos below. 




First weeks: demolitionĀ 

It’s begun! Two years and three months after we chose our architect, the much anticipated renovation works are underway. 

The works actually started during our final week of living in the house, when our back shed and pergola were demolished. 

And since we moved out of the house just over a week ago, the demo team has been working hard on the house itself. 

Below are a few obligatory before and after shots. 

Here’s the shed:

Et voila, no shed!

Here’s the rear of our little house, before the demo: 

And after demo:

It’s all super exciting! 
Next steps: site clearing, then excavation. 

Adelaide baby: road trippingĀ 


A few weeks ago while chatting to a friend at a Christmas party, I mentioned we were driving to Adelaide for the break. 

“Driving?” he said. “You have heard of these things called aeroplanes, right?”

I confess, I was a bit nervous about the 700km-plus trip with a 13-month-old in the back seat, especially as our longest drive till then had been just three hours each way on our recent trip to Corowa.

But having just returned home to Melbourne from Adelaide yesterday, I’m pleased to report it all went a lot better than I expected.

We were lucky the baby girl behaved very well (and by that, I mean she slept a lot, see photo exhibit above). This meant we didn’t have to take too many stops, and were able to keep the total travel time to 9.5 hours each way (8 hours driving, 1.5 hours of stoppage time).

The other thing that worked really well for us was getting started early. On the way to Adelaide we were on the road by 4am, which meant that by our first coffee stop at 630am, we were already in Ararat. 

In terms of family friendly stopping points, on the Melbourne-Adelaide leg our girl enjoyed the sprawling lawns and playground at Horsham’s May Park. She also had a ball wandering around the lounge area at Keith’s Morning Loaf bakery, which I’m happy to report does a pretty good caramel slice. 

On the way home to Melbourne, the baby girl had her first McDonald’s playground experience at Horsham Maccas while we refuelled on coffees and hash browns. Then in Beaufort, after an OK lunch at Angels Cafe (with high chair provided) we stumbled across the Beaufort Community Resource Centre and Library.

What a wonderful find this was. There was an excellent kids book section with a couch, toys, and a tin of colouring pencils. The woman who worked there was friendly and helpful, and even opened up a meeting room for us when we asked about baby change facilities. A highly recommended pit stop for families. 

(Also, for anyone who wants some inspiration about taking on the Melbourne-Adelaide drive, I found this article really helpful.)

I hope I haven’t jinxed our future road trips too much by writing about how good this one was. But who knows? Maybe Melbourne-Byron Bay next Christmas? 

Corowa baby: road tripping

Last weekend we took the baby girl on her first cross-border road trip. The occasion was a family Christmas party, and the destination was the New South Wales town of Corowa on the banks of the Murray.

We left Melbourne on Saturday morning, with Granny joining us for the ride, and after a couple of hours driving it was time for lunch and a stretch. We stopped in Avenel and stumbled across Bank Street Wood Fired Pizza and Garden. This was a wonderful find. The pizzas were tasty, high chairs were aplenty, and the gorgeous garden setting even had a little pond. The crowd was a mix of ladies luncheons and families. Our girl had a blast crawling around the grass and playing with leaves, which thankfully managed to tire her out for a snooze on the second leg of our drive. 

After another couple of hours on the road, we departed Victorian soil, crossed the Murray, and found ourselves in Corowa. We checked into the Corowa Caravan Park, which had only just reopened after recent spring flooding.  Our cabin wasn’t flash, but for about $100 we had two queen bedrooms (with enough space for a portacot), a clean and modern bathroom, and a separate toilet. We didn’t try the on-site pool, but we did have a look at one of the park’s two playgrounds. (Verdict: not much on offer for pre-walkers.)

Lazy, late afternoon drinks followed at the sprawling lawns of All Saints Estate on the Victorian side of the river, where we sipped pinot grigio from plastic glasses while a nearby wedding party provided people watching distraction. In between stuffing her face with banana, the baby girl enjoyed cruising around the grass and watching ducks splashing in the pond (pictured above). 

Dinner was at the enormous Corowa RSL club, where I rolled my eyes a little at the vegetarian main (the good old roast vegetable and rosti stack) but it was actually pretty tasty. The kids menu was all meat and chips, but the kitchen was happy to do an extra side of steamed veggies and potatoes for the baby, which she loved. In other kids stuff, there were at least three high chairs, and a large fenced-in playground. 

The following morning we tried to find a nice place for breakfast but discovered that most cafes didn’t open till 9am on a Sunday. We ended up at the Corowa Bakery, along with everyone else in town. The place was jumping! We joined the queue and ordered coffee, pies and white bread sandwiches, which were all quite satisfying, but the staff were a little grumpy for my liking. 

It was then off to the family Christmas party, which was a lovely catch up that included a barbecue lunch. After the party, we were back in the car for the drive back to Melbourne. The baby slept almost the entire three hours home, which has got to be one of the best ways to finish up a weekend road trip. 

Sydney baby: high chairs and the last hurrah


In the weeks leading up to my return to work from mat leave, TG came up with the brilliant idea of having one last family holiday before I became a working mum. 

This last hurrah ended up being a three-night mini-break in Sydney, which was a wonderful distraction that stopped me thinking too much about the transition back to work.

Instead of spending my last few days of mat leave worrying about morning drop-offs and wondering how I was going to field early phone calls while feeding the baby, we were cruising around a sunny Sydney Harbour eating Messina ice-cream and catching up with old friends. 

We also enjoyed some excellent meals on this trip. Following on from my previous posts about baby friendly eateries in Seminyak and Ubud, below is a list of the cafes and restaurants we went to in Sydney that provided high chairs. 

Circular Quay

Four Frogs Creperie (bonus points for providing crayons and a colouring-in kids menu)

The Rocks

The Fine Food Store

CBD

Indu

Nook 

Manly

Fika Swedish Kitchen

Hemingway’s Manly

Bondi

Bondi Trattoria (bonus points for providing a change table, although it was a bit grotty in the bathroom)

Ps. We stayed at the Shangri-La, which did have nice, big rooms and a gorgeous view. But if you’ve got a baby in a pram, the steep roads and footpaths in The Rocks are hard work! 

Ubud baby: high chairs and footpaths

Following on from my recent post about high chairs in Seminyak, here are a few thoughts about travelling with a baby in Ubud. 

As we were holidaying in peak season, the road and foot traffic on the main roads (eg. Jalan Monkey Forest and Jalan Raya Ubud) was pretty crazy. Pushing a stroller on the footpaths was hard work.

A local recommended getting out and about before 11am to avoid the daytripping crowds. It was a good tip and we had a couple of nice, quiet morning walks with the stroller followed by coffees at Folk and Casa Luna. 

Because of the crowds, we ended up eating a lot of meals at our hotel, Bisma Eight. The food there was delicious, if a little pricey. 

In terms of high chairs, we didn’t get out as much as in Seminyak, but the places we dined at with high chairs were:

All these places had timber high chairs which looked great, but I’m not sure how clean they were…

We did also try to get into Spice by Chris Salans, but it didn’t take bookings and also didn’t have high chairs. 

Seminyak baby: high chairs

While every eatery we went to during our 10 days in Seminyak had plenty of kid-loving waiters wanting to play with baby R, we found a lot of them didn’t have high chairs (also known as baby chairs). 

We’d invested in an upright stroller before our trip, so we fed the baby in that when we needed to. But it wasn’t ideal. R does like to sit up at the table with us and be part of the fun – and we like that too!

(I also don’t think it was a coincidence that her two grumpiest nights out were at dinners where she didn’t have a high chair and was stuck in the stroller.)

If I were to travel again to Seminyak while the baby was still using a high chair, I would definitely pack a lightweight, portable high chair, booster seat or harness.

For reference, here’s a list of the places we went to (or tried to get in to) according to high chair availability. 

Seminyak eateries with high chairs

  • Petitenget
  • Saigon Street
  • Biku 
  • Sea Circus
  • Alila Resort restaurant 
  • Movida
  • Mexicola
  • Cocoon

Seminyak eateries without high chairs

  • Tiger Palm
  • Sarong
  • La Lucciola
  • Bambu
  • Merah Putih
  • Cafe Organic
  • Waroeng Bonita 

Seminyak baby: nappies part two


In part one of this post, I wrote about sourcing disposable nappies in Seminyak. 

Part two is my review of the two brands of nappies we bought: Pampers and MamyPoko.

The Pampers were almost double the price of the MamyPoko nappies (about AUD0.36 per nappy vs AUD0.22 per nappy).

Both nappies were the pull-up pants style, which were easy to use, and we had no absorbency or leakage issues with either brand. 

I found the main differences between the nappies were: 

  • Pampers had the blue wet indicator line, while MamyPoko did not
  • Pampers nappies tore apart cleanly at the sides, whereas MamyPoko nappies were more difficult to pull apart 
  • Pampers had a nifty piece of sticky tape attached to the back of the nappy which could be pulled out to neatly secure a rolled up dirty nappy

I’d be happy to use either brand of nappy again, but given the choice – and even though they are more expensive – I would buy the Pampers nappies over the MamyPoko. 

(Pictured below are the front and back of both nappies, Pampers on the left, MamyPoko on the right)

Seminyak baby: nappies part one


Last time we came to Bali, when the baby was three months old, we used up a fair bit of our suitcase carting over enough disposable nappies to last us the trip. 

This time we decided to bring just enough for about a week, and to buy the rest in Bali. Nappies are easy to buy everywhere, according to my pre-holiday online research. 

But it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. During our stay in Seminyak, we tried to buy nappies at two Guardian pharmacies (Jalan Petitenget and Seminyak Square) but they were both sold out. 

We also tried several Mini-Marts and other local convenience stores which either didn’t stock nappies, or only had limited sizes available. 

In the end, we bought some Pampers nappies at the Coco Supermarket on Jalan Kayu Aya (about AUD11 for 30), and some MamyPoko nappies at the Mega Mart at Seminyak Square (about AUD2 for nine).

I’m sure nappies are easy to buy from any of the bigger supermarkets in Seminyak, but none of these were in easy walking distance of our hotel.

And yes we could have taken a taxi to do a nappy shop, but in the Seminyak traffic that would have been a minimum 30-minute round trip. That’s 30 minutes we’d rather spend at the pool/getting a massage/drinking a Bintang.

So if we come again to Seminyak while the baby is still in nappies – and we aren’t within strolling distance of a large supermarket – I’d definitely try to bring enough nappies from home for the entire trip. It just means we avoid spending time on something that’s a chore.