Welcome to our blog!


Hi there, thanks for stopping by…

This is our blog and our first blog post! We hope you enjoy reading it.

We have decided to create this blog for our family and friends because in a few days we will be packing our rucksacks and embarking on a family adventure to Malaysia and Indonesia. Some people think we are brave, others think we are bonkers. Either way, by checking in on our posts you will get to see a little sneak peak at the madness and mayhem of travelling to the Far East with an overactive infant!

We’ll try to keep this space regularly updated with photos and notes about what we’ve all been getting up to.

Love to all,

Tom, Laura & Iris





The weather was awful, we were late to the airport and waaayyyy over on our luggage allowance! After jettisoning some hair products, adding extra layers to our outfits, and shoving our beach towels into Iris’ travel cot (thank goodness infants get those extra items!) we made it to the flight on time and the little one had fun playing on the iPad and napping in mama’s arms.

Neither of us have been to Greece before (we’re not counting Laura’s uni trip to Zante with 11 other girls as no culture was consumed other than too much Ouzo or cocktails laced with anti-freeze) First impressions were good (no need for a coat like at home with the never ending winter so that was the first plus). Once we embarked on the back streets of old town Chania we were awed by it’s beauty and charm, minus the excessive graffiti, that Iris keeps pointing to and saying ‘draw…’ Just hoping she doesn’t glean any inspiration for her own creations once we are back home and adorn the walls (that we don’t even own) with her own tags!


It’s mostly pedestrian only so safe enough for iris to trot around, which she thoroughly enjoys. She likes finding door steps to perch on or jump off.

Tom managed to find the football museum and he had a great time chatting to the passionate owner whilst I tried to stop Iris from kicking all the footballs off their display rings and only narrowly avoided knocking over a few framed tickets. All good fun!

Truth be known- we can’t be arsed to do much on this holiday – haven’t even gotten around to hiring a car yet so not ventured very far. We’ve pretty much just mooched around the shops (nothing purchased as we physically don’t have the luggage space or weight allowance!) and eaten our way through the days and around the establishments. It has been fascinating watching the town wake up and come alive ready for the beginning of another season of tourists.

We stayed at a place called ‘Royal Sun’ hotel which is just on the outskirts of Chania town but it benefits from spectacular views due to it’s out of town location. Free parking available and a regular shuttle bus into town. Good food, great house keeping, big pool and very friendly staff. A great few days spent there but now we’ve moved on and are in Rethymnon.




Tom was ‘stoked’ that he found a bar to watch the McGregor v Mayweather fight before takeoff. AirAsia kept up their tradition of being late. Only 45 minutes this time! 

On arrival in Singapore we were impressed by the clear signage for the public transport and it was very easy to follow. Clean and efficient,we arrived at the MRT stop by our hotel and a short 5 minute walk and we were in our last hotel of the trip. Hotel Yan. One of the only hotels we could afford in Singapore, the only slight hitch, and we knew this before we booked, was the size of our room. A cosy few days in Singapore it is.

Orchard Street & Fort Canning Park

Shopping street. All the designer shops and malls were dotted along this street. One thing we noticed from our initial walk around Singapore was the cleanliness, we even saw several guys abseiling the side of a shopping mall to polish it…yes polish, not only washing it but polishing it too! The other thing was that you don’t get that South East Asian smell that typically hits you as you walk along the streets. We walked around Fort Canning park which was used as a base by the British and Japanese during WWII. We went into the former bunker but were too early for the guided tour and according to Iris we were unable to hang around and wait for it.

Gardens by the Bay

We visited the Gardens by the Bay. An immaculate (common theme in Singapore) garden area which has two large domes, Flower dome and a Cloud Forest. Only the Flower dome was open so we went in. It is similar to the Eden Project. The flowers and plants were arranged in continent specific sections. Excellently laid out and presented. Both Nannys would have liked it here. We went back to Gardens in the evening to see the spectacular Supertree Grove. Large tree like structures with plants growing up inside. During the evening they perform two shows with lights to music, which Iris went a bit crazy to- jumping and head banging all over the place and clapping her hands in glee.

Raffles & Marina Bay Sands

A trip to Singapore is not complete without sipping a Singapore Sling at Raffles. Thanks to Julie and Al for Laura’s birthday drink. In this white and black colonial building we sipped our drinks and took in our surroundings. A bag of monkey nuts soon accompanied our drinks and Iris took a keen fancy to them. Not quite understanding (or having the patience!) of opening the shell first. The nuts are an old traditional where the shells would be tossed on the wooden floorboards to keep the dust down. Free for customers now as they’ve always been. We managed half a bag between us! 

We were rather indulgent on the cocktails today. When the opportunity presented itself for another cocktail at the Marina Bay Sands hotel (the hotel looks like a boat on top of three columns), we couldn’t resist. The views from the bar at the top of the hotel were super. Sentosa island, the Formula 1 track, sea and city either side of us. Shame the hotel wasn’t quite in our budget! 

China Town

A wander through China Town to look for nic-nacs at the market stalls and to visit a temple. Lots to look at! We decided to have lunch in China Town as Iris was getting hungry and our legs were feeling it after lots of walking the day before. Proper Chinese dim-sum, spring rolls and sates. We also found the TinTin shop which is a must for TinTin lovers.


In the afternoon we took the monorail over to Sentosa island. The monorail cost about £80 million to build. So I thought our $4 tickets were pretty worth it! In Sentosa there is an overwhelming amount to do, all at a cost. There are cable cars, SEA aquarium, Merlion, Universal Studios and much much more. An array of places to eat and drink. We managed to find some parrots to get a photo with. Iris was unsure, especially when they squawked but did like their colourful feathers. Back across on the monorail and time to get our bags for our long haul back to the UK. 


Bali Part 2 – Ubud

Getting back from the Gili Islands proved challenging. Iris wasn’t up for all the travelling on this particular day, and being in the carrier was not her idea of fun. She just wanted to be walking around. When you are journeying on two boats and in the front of a minibus… it’s not really ideal. We endured a few tantrums, and she expressed herself fully. Although, she did sleep for an hour during the bumpiest part of our boat ride, where Laura was concentrating on keeping herself composed. Difficult when you’re faced with a crowded boat, no air circulation, waves pouring in and the roughest crossing ever. It was that bad Laura announced, “I would rather give birth than have to go through that again!” (I quote!)


When we arrived in Ubud, instantly we knew we would love it here. The coffee shops, markets, restaurants mixed with the traditional Balinese temples, surrounded by rice paddies and green ravines gives the town a great feel.

The Sacred Monkey Forest was our first stop. A forest with temples, green ravines and waterfalls inside full of monkeys. Monkey see, monkey do. The monkeys were out in force, big and small. Monkeys were climbing on people’s heads, stealing out of bags, play fighting with each other and swinging from tree to tree. Iris found them hilarious! She was a little bit disappointed when we told he not to touch, she soon got the idea after being snarled at!

Campuhan ridge walk next. Timings didn’t quite work out so we ended up doing this in midday heat. Luckily we had taken an umbrella with us for shade. A 2km paved walk from near the centre of Ubud out to rice paddies. On the way we passed many walkers out to get views of the greenery. Ended up at Karsa cafe, great lunchtime spot with stunning views.

We hired a driver for the day to get to Green School and decided to incorporate a couple of landmarks into our trip. We were aiming just to see the south of Ubud but ended up visiting the region to the north as well. After our Green School tour (see previous post) we visited Tengenungan waterfall – a site of natural beauty. Next was a stop off at Satria coffee as Tom wanted to try the ‘Worlds most expensive coffee’ retailing at £250 for 125grams in Harrods. This coffee is called ‘Kopi Luwak’ referring to the ‘Luwak’ cat which part-digests the coffee beans before pooping them out. They then get cleaned, twice, before being roasted and made into coffee. “Very earthy and smoky” were Tom’s descriptions, he said it smelt better than it tasted. Following on from cat-poo, we visited the Holy waters where tourists were taking a blessed dip. We considered it, deciding just to splash some over our face rather than get fully in, as it involved a bit of faffing around in our opinion. Next onto Gunung Kawi temple, which looked like a backdrop to an Indiana Jones movie. Iris made friends with a local boy whose Dad was selling magnets, Iris received a freebie. Good girl, putting on your charm! Finally, we drove by the Tegalalang rice fields. Great views but after walking up and down what seemed like a thousand steps and Iris was sound asleep we soaked in the views from our air-conditioned SUV.

On our last day in Ubud we visited the market because Laura had been itching to do some shoppingsince we first set foot in the place! Then we went for a tour around more rice paddies where we had a light lunch before heading back to Pajar House for an afternoon tea and swim.

Pajar House

Since we booked our trip we’ve been looking forward to our stay at Pajar House and it has lived up to expectations and beyond. The service is one thing that truly stands out for us. When we arrived in Ubud we had a free pick-up service. The hotel and villas are a little way out of the centre, nestled in a local village, surrounded by rice paddies. Free pick-ups and drop-offs daily into Ubud has been so handy. Breakfast is served to your room at your chosen time. Free afternoon tea! Use of a variety of pools, two that are basically in the middle of rice paddies only accessible by scooter rides. Iris couldn’t stop laughing from the back of the scooter! Sorry Nanna. Our villa has its own private garden. Bathrooms are amazing!


Final destination: Singapore.

Green School, Bali

Today, amongst other things, we paid a visit to Green School. It was our first destination as part of a busy day of sight seeing along the tourist trail but we thought we would save those things for another post. 

We were pretty interested to go and see this place as visiting other schools is always insightful anyway but we knew that this school was quite unusual, as you might gather from the name; it centres it’s philosophy around environmental studies. It has a strong community vibe, with it’s local scholarship program (essentially this is a fee-paying international school, but one that wants to give back to the community) and on-site recycling depot where local children can be rewarded with clubs and extra curricular activities for every kg of waste they collect and sort. 

The school itself is renowned for being the biggest bamboo structure when it was built. The main part of the school (called the heart) is three tall floors of open bamboo space used for learning zones, dining areas, places like libraries and office areas. There are names carved into the bamboo of people who have made donations to the foundation. There is a large gong that gets sounded for times of mass gatherings, meal times and mindfulness/meditation moments. It is brightly decorated by the children with important messages and reminders about how to look after our planet. One of my favourite ones was a painting on the floor of a turtle surrounded by yellow blobs. The message said, ‘for every 1000 turtle eggs laid, only 1 will survive to become an adult turtle, able to produce another set of eggs.’ 🐢

We saw small groups of children playing musical instruments with their teachers amongst the trees, kids playing football, staff and teachers sitting chatting under the cabanas, older children researching an art topic on their laptops and little-ies playing in the outdoor kindergarten. It was quite relaxed! There is an almost paperless agenda which seemed very strange to us. Paper is treated as a finite resource and rarely used. So we can only assume the children do a lot less physical writing than your average British student. Instead, a bigger focus is on ‘experiential’ learning (hands on/physical) and wider use of digital technology for recording work completed by the children.

In every area of the school there are water filling stations because plastic bottles of water are not allowed. There is a large water filtration and purifying system on site and the school was also granted solar panels to power their electricity. The toilets are compost toilets which goes towards the school’s compost system to support the farming of the fruit and vegetables grown and cooked on site to provide food in the cafeteria. Everyone eats lunch together at the same time (all ages of children, academic and non-academic plus visitors- everyone mingles). Each class is responsible for a different part of the garden and is expected to contribute to the school’s produce. The academic side of things is split into three categories; thematic (project based), proficiency (core subjects and learning support or language learning), and experiential (practical, skills based, art/music). After school there are lots of extra curricular clubs and all children need to sign up to some sort of sport activity. Every Wednesday all children have access to ‘Jalan Jalan’ which is a day out of their choice. The busses are bio busses and run on used cooking oil. There are animals to be looked after and there are recycling bins everywhere. The bamboo bridge (which was washed away the day after it was first built because the initial design failed) connects the school to ‘the village’ (accommodation for staff, boarders and more farming space). There is a Green Camp where School groups, families and summer camps for children can stay on residential trips, accommodated in bamboo yurts and participate in eco and sustainable activities. There is a shop selling sustainable and environmentally friendly alternatives to many common products, some created by the students and ex-students and there is a student bank and on-site ATM. The whiteboards and greenhouse roofs are made from recycled car windscreens. We also saw the Giant auditorium – like mud pit that all members of the school community are invited to get into as part of their welcome to the school. It is a place for mud wrestling, playing, bathing and is believed to help people feel connected to the earth by having it squished under their feet, beneath their toes and smeared all over their bodies. 

This post might not be exciting to you unless you have an interest in schools or the environment but it was a very interesting experience for us and one we wanted to share! If you are at all intrigued you must check out the school’s website https://www.greenschool.org and YouTube videos to see it for yourselves.

Gili Iris

We have decided to title this post ‘Gili Iris’ (thanks Jess!) because it will mostly be about her! As well as our journey here and time on the Islands, we wanted to share how much she is changing and developing whilst we have been away.

It seems to us that she is learning at a phenomenal rate right now and every day it feels like she is taking on something new. This stage of life really is truly fascinating and we feel so lucky to be witness to it. Backpacking with an infant comes with it’s challenges and sacrifices and of course would be a lot more straight forward, and possibly considerably cheaper, had we been on our own but being able to expose Iris to this varied culture and environment has given her opportunities that we hope will stay with her as she grows up.

Firstly, the beach! Obviously being an island there are lots of beaches around. Gili Meno (known as the quieter, more honeymoon orientated of the three Gili Islands) is great for snorkelling and whilst Jess was with us, Tom and I took advantage and were able to share the experience together a few times instead of going out into the ocean on our own whilst one stayed back with Iris. There is lots of washed up coral on the beach which make great treasures for Iris to collect and bring back to show us. Having both worked in Early Years, we know the importance of sand and water play and Iris is getting those opportunities every day at the moment! She LOVES the beach! She loves covering herself in sand, rubbing her hands and feet in it, giving sandy cuddles and back massages (literally, she scrubs the tan off our backs!)

Iris points out to sea and says ‘boh’ which we think is boat and even though the ride here was choppy, and an hour longer than we were told it would be, she had lots of fun hanging her head out of the window and feeling the sea spray splash her face. At one point she closed her eyes and made an ‘ mmm’ sound. After one speedboat to Gili T (the party island- not really our scene) and one private taxi-boat with a glass bottom shared with some Italian cyclists to Gili Meno, we were dropped off right on the beach and made our way to the hotel along the sandy paths. There are no vehicles on the island which is a welcome relief after the traffic we faced in Kuta. Every time Iris hears the approach of a cidomo (horse and cart) she ‘clip clops’ with her tongue. We chose not to use one of these out of principle but Iris likes to see them go by.

We have also seen lots of other animals, and at our bungalow there is a resident cockrell who kindly wakes Iris up for her morning milk. She squealed with delight one day at lunch when it hopped onto the fence and crowed. She tries to say Cockrell (coh-co) and cock-a-doodle-do (coh-doo-doo). There are goats and calves that we have to contend with when we walk the pathways but by far her favourites are the chickens and their chicks. She stops to watch them and tries to follow along. We went to visit the turtle sanctuary and she pointed and gasped at them, leaning ever closer to practically climb into the tanks.


Her physical development is really coming along. She walks a lot. Sometimes she holds our hands, sometimes she goes in the opposite direction  but we get wherever we’re going eventually. The joy of being on holiday! She is getting pretty confident and tries trotting along at a faster pace. She can climb off the bed backwards and sits on a chair at the table for dinner. She copies us and stabs her food with a fork and often manages to get it in her mouth. She tells us when she wants more food (num-a-num-a-num), no food or a drink (meeeeeeeee) and if you hand her a napkin once she has finished she will wipe her face.

Once the day is done, we gaze at the stars together and Iris points and wiggles her fingers as we sing ‘twinkle twinkle’. They seem so bright and almost closer here. We have been lucky enough to see sunrise and sunset on Gili Meno too.

Snorkelling was great fun for us! Shame Iris wasn’t able to see what we could under the sea but we saw lots of beautiful fish, underwater sculptures and Tom finally managed to swim with a turtle too. It was on his tick-list!

Bali Part 1 – AirAsia, Berry Glee, Kuta and the beaches 

Getting  to Bali proved to be a challenge thanks to AirAsia! 

Our flight from Penang to Kuala Lumpur was delayed by two hours, not so bad as some Aussies had been waiting at the airport for 10 hours and were a little unhappy with AirAsia to say the least. This two hour delay meant that our transfer time from arriving into Kuala Lumpur and departing was about 10 minutes. So Laura and I ran through KL airport, through two security checkpoints to get to our gate only to see our flight was delayed from 9.30 pm departure until 4am!!! This is going to be fun with Iris. By the time we passed back through the security checkpoints and got to the transfer desk time was kicking on and Iris needed a bed. We were offered accommodation but it was now nearly 11pm and we had to get back to the airport for 2.30am. The accommodation was 30 minutes away and the reviews on TripAdvisor were appalling. We made the decision to sleep in the airport so we could get Iris down, and Tom haggled for more food vouchers. Equivalent to £30 worth, that will get us a decent meal. We set up Iris a make-shift bed under the escalators as it was the only dark space, with carpet. She was straight down and then we took it in turns to get food. Unfortunately no sleep was had by either of us!

Berry Glee 

On arrival at Berry Glee, where we had missed our first nights accommodation, we went straight into breakfast before sleeping for the rest of the morning. We chose Berry Glee because we thought it would be part of the trip that would be great to spend some time doing things for Iris. It has a swimming pool, themed rooms, children’s play area, a playroom and karaoke fun pods. Also Tom liked it because it is 17 out 252 hotels in Kuta, not bad for a kiddie hotel. Although it soon became apparent that you don’t need kids to stay here. You can ‘get your glee on’ without children. We really like the hotel and it has many benefits (pool, breakfast buffet, family friendly). There are a few things that we found a bit strange: not having maps of the local area, only 1 highchair in the restaurant (when it’s a children’s hotel) and slippery decking leading to the pool. It’s been an excellent base for us to explore the local area and staff are friendly.


Imagine saying ‘Kuta’ in an Aussie accent. That’s what Laura has been saying for the past few days. To be fair this is Aussie central, as you walk down the street in Kuta it’s full of bars with Aussie footy on and Aussies young and old soaking up the atmosphere. Not really our scene with Iris. We managed to find a couple of lovely eateries hidden away, Poppies and Un’s, both restaurants in the top 30 of course. Some incredible dishes at both. The main attraction was that they were quiet hideaways to escape the chaos of scooters, sellers and noise. The beach in Kuta is just as busy and is a surfers paradise. Great for watching surfers ride the waves whilst soaking up the sun, or take a surfing lesson if that’s your thing. We also visited the memorial to commemorate the victims of the 2002 bombing at two popular nightclubs. On a walk back to our hotel after dinner Tom was pleased to find a local bakery. This didn’t look like any old bakery, from the outside it looked like a temple and from the inside it was a cake lovers dream. Back at the hotel it was a cuppa a cake before bed whilst listening to the karaoke, very entertaining!!!

Hidden Beaches

Tom did his research and saw some hidden beaches to the south of Kuta. So we thought we would try a few of them. How to get there? Buses looked risky (getting from place to place), hiring a car seemed to be effort so we went with an Uber. We have been using Uber because they are a third of taxi prices. So our first Uber was to PadangPadang beach. We didn’t take into consideration the traffic on the roads – it was so busy. No wonder most people opt for hiring scooters. Anyway, we arrived at PadangPadang which is a stunning beach with clear waters. Good for swimming as the surfers are further out. The beach was crowded with tourists, all trying to get the perfect shot on their DSLRS, GoPros, selfie sticks and even a couple of drones buzzing around! We managed to both have a tag-team swim with Iris. She found some rocks and wouldn’t let them go! She loves searching for hidden treasures on the beach and creates quite a collection. On from PadangPadang we walked to Bingin Beach with a stop off for lunch a Bukit Cafe. Laura especially liked the vegetarian options and I enjoyed the BBQ tacos. Best of all Iris was asleep whilst we ordered drinks, so we managed to have our mocktail and fruit smoothie in peace.

We continued our walk to Bingin beach, along quiet and windy roads and then finally a lot of steep steps and through cool and laid back beach bars to the to get to the small, narrow sandy beach with rock pools and some lovely buildings on the front.. This was very quaint, quiet and beautiful. Some stunning places to stay with sea views. We were lucky to get an Uber though as it was pretty limited, but then onto Jimbaran beach. I had read lots about fish markets and eating on the beach at Jimbaran (Rough Guide). It was mentioned as one of the highlights whilst in SouthEast Asia. Due to traffic, once again, we saw the sunset on our way, pretty early here at 5.30. When we arrived there were hundreds of people sat out having candlelit dinners on the beach. You can choose the amount of fish and pay per KG or go for a set menu. We had a great fish supper. Very romantic! We found some more rocks on the beach which kept Iris entertained throughout the meal. More traffic on the way back to Berry Glee, a late night for Iris but well worth it. Our day travelling by Uber worked out at £13. Three journeys covering 45km.

We might have missed the sunset on Jimbaran beach but we caught it the night after on Kuta beach, with a local Bintang beer to celebrate. Sunset is early here, at 6.15pm.

The Gili Islands await us next, where we are meeting up with cousin Jess. After, we will return back to Bali and staying in Ubud.


The Guppy’s made it to Langkawi and Laura survived the journey without feeling travel sick. The one hour boat journey across from Kuala Perlis, which we were recommended was a breeze in comparison to the choppy three hour boat ride crammed with hundreds of tourists doing the same route. Research paid off.

Our first challenge on the island was figuring out how we were going to get around. As there is no public transport on the island we had two choices: to rent a car (or moped, which was ruled out due to Iris) or getting taxis/uber. We decided that because we were hoping to spend a lot of time at the beach that we would get a taxi to our guesthouse ‘Soluna’. Our taxi was one of the coolest taxis I’ve ever been in. Every part of the cab was covered in bank notes and coins from all over the world. We had a job trying to distract Iris from taking the coins off!

Soluna Guesthouse was our accommodation for the next six nights, with outstanding reviews on TripAdvisor (Tom!) we could see why. A quiet, idyllic location surrounded by fields and coconut groves. We stepped out of the cab and felt relaxed immediately. A five minute walk through a coconut grove with some water buffalo and we were on the beach. Ideal! Although we soon came to realise, taking a one year old to the beach wasn’t going to be as relaxing as we thought. Books down, covered in sand and in the sea we go!

A few beach days and we were ready to explore what the rest of the island had to offer… more beaches! We hired a car for the day and off we went. Our first mission was to go to ‘Langkawi Sky Bridge’. To get up to the bridge you go to ‘Panorama’ (small theme park) where you can catch a cable car up to the top station. The bridge is the ‘Longest free span and curved bridge in the world’, suspended on Manchinchang mountain. What an epic piece of architectural engineering! Safe to say we were a bit cautious and didn’t go too far to the edge… Iris stayed fully in the carrier, much to her displeasure. Part of the package included extras, so we visited the 3D gallery which was a good opportunity for photos and a run around for the little one. Back in the car and we stopped off for lunch at ‘Scarborough Fish n Chips’, a beach front café so we could have some fish and chips on the beach. Another couple of beaches later and we had driven the whole way around the island.

Other than our big day out, we have mostly been relaxing. We spend our days pottering between the beach, the high street and various dining establishments to replenish ourselves with iced coffees and fresh fruit juices. We naïvely thought that Iris would be happy drinking from her water bottle, however after a couple of very vocal demonstrations of her displeasure we eventually succumbed to ordering her own chilled beverage to enable us to drink ours peacefully and without having to hide our glasses from her. So there we go- we are giving into our one year old daughter already. Not as tough as we thought we would be!


Considering it is the rainy season here, the weather has been good to us and we have been able to get out and about. We are putting this blog post together whilst listening to the sound of the tropical rainstorm that is going on outside  right now and it is actually quite nice! It breaks the temperature to give some relief from the heat and whilst Iris sleeps it is calming and relaxing hearing the raindrops on the roof.

We have a couple more days here to soak it all up before leaving for Indonesia.

The Guppys