My Big Gourmet Garden Aussie Adventure Day 1

Back in January I won the Gourmet Garden UK Blog Off Cook Off. Part of the prize was a 6 day trip to Noosa, Australia, for the Gourmet Garden Blogger Conference.

I just got back. It was brilliant.

Allow me to tell you all about it....

So... I arrived at Maroochydore airport mid-morning on Tuesday 14th May local time. I'd been on three aeroplanes for over 24 hours since I left home on Sunday night and I felt weird.

Fresh faced at Heathrow on Sunday night about to spend a day in the sky

I thought I would be immune to jet lag being a sleep deprived mum of two young kids. I could not have been more wrong. Long haul flights and crossing time zones messes with your head. You eat meals at weird times on the plane, breakfast at dinner, lunch followed by dinner in the middle of the night, and your body gets confused. You feel sleepy in the day and wide, wide, wide awake at night, but the weirdest thing is that when you're still, you feel like you're moving, almost like you're on a boat. However, the great excitement of being down under for the first time outweighed the tiredness and the funny 'moving' feeling.

Coffee at Sydney Airport. Look as grey as my cup. Anyone got the time?

The sun was shining and it was a glorious day. The scenery and coast line made stunning viewing on the way to Bella Casa apartments on Hastings Street, Noosa, which would be my home for the next 6 days. All. By. Myself.

By myself?

I'm never by myself. I have at least one of my own children with me and often a few belonging to someone else. I'm at the beck and call of two small boys day and night. I plan my life around school runs and bedtimes. I'm used to travelling as a family of four, and taking two bags and a buggy wherever I go. Packing and unpacking seemed to take all of 30 seconds. And it was oh so very quiet in that apartment.

I was told the best way to overcome jet lag is to stay awake until bedtime, so I headed out to explore the town and the beach, which I could see from my balcony. Sea view from my balcony? MY balcony?! I had to stop and pinch myself.

Well hello Noosa beach

Noosa is a *very* cool place. Hastings Street is lined with trendy restaurants, cafes and shops which sell all sorts of *cool* things including vintage paraphernalia, surf boards and proper designer clothes. It's expensive. Very. It's expensive by Aussie standards, so the British pound to Aussie dollar conversion rate (currently rubbish) makes it super expensive for Brits.

Nutella Ice Cream. Words fail me.

The first thing that happened to me as I walked along the street was spectacular. I was handed a sample of Nutealla ice cream with a 'buy one scoop get another scoop free' coupon! If you know me you'll know I have a slight problem with Nutella. Up until that moment I didn't think there was anything more delicious than two Nutella Cookies sandwiched together with Nutella. No sooner had I scoffed the sample I was outside Gelatissimo queuing for another.

Nutella and pear, ricotta & walnut ice cream. Perfect combo for a first-day-in-Noosa lunch.

The girl who served me explained that I would probably be very sick if I ate two scoops of the super-rich Nutella ice cream and convinced me to have another flavour. Pear, ricotta & walnut sounded pretty special, and surely it would count as one of my five-a-day wouldn't it? It was an excellent friend for Nutella and made a very good first day lunch.

After an ice-cream and a wander I headed to the beach. It was beautiful. I walked along the golden-white shore and dipped my feet in the warm clear sea. It was a moment when I just stopped and thought wow, how did I get here? I'm just a little mum from a little town with a little blog... How did this happen to me?! 

Strolling on Noosa Beach. Pinch myself moment.

In my little Noosa paradise of Nutella ice-cream, beach and sunshine one thing was missing. I thought of my little family, so far away on exactly the otherwise of the world. I bought gifts for the boys on the first day, number plates with their names on. I tried not to think about it too much as I knew Mr Kay would be doing a great job, even if they were dressed a little funny.

When they learn to drive they'll love me for this.

In the run up to the trip, I'd been chatting to some of the Aussie bloggers on twitter who were also coming to the conference. That evening I had dinner with Tam from Somewhere Around Here and Jay from The Moodie Foodie (she not moody at all, the blog is to do with food for any mood). We had pizza, wine and good chats. They are both great ladies and talented cooks and bloggers. Now I'm proud they are my buddies as well.

Good quality 'selfie' shot with my new buddies, Tam (left) and Jay (middle)

We were very sensible and hit the sack early as the start of the conference was the following day. I was really tired but the moment I was in bed I was wide awake. Jet lag. Grr.

Here's a little video I made about my first day. Please excuse how rough I look. 

Disclaimer: Gourmet Garden paid for my trip as part of a competition prize. Words and opinions about the exchange rate and nutella ice cream are my own.