Auckland

After Hobbiton, we drove for a couple of hours to reach our final destination of Auckland. We were here primarily to catch up with a good friend who lives here but also we were keen to see and experience what this city has to offer. I will highlight the places we managed to visit while in Auckland for three days.

1 – Cheltenham Beach

2 – Maungauika/North Head Historic Reserve

3 – Takapuna Beach Path.

4 – Wine tasting at The Hunting Lodge.

5 – Sunset at Muriwai Beach.

6 – Auckland Museum.

7 – Ponsonby.

There you have it! Our New Zealand trip has come to an end. What an amazing trip and so fortunate to have finally been able to visit after being in lockdown on and off for two years. I hope you enjoyed the journey and photographs from this truly epic country with the absolute friendliest of people. It’s a trip I will not forget in a hurry. Thank you all for showing an interest in my posts over the past couple of weeks, it really means a lot.

All the best,

Wayne ✌🏽

Rotorua 🌋

This was the perfect spot for us to stop and rest during our drive from Wellington to Auckland. As well as being a great location to stop, we had really wanted to visit here for a couple of reasons.

This area was created thousands of years ago by volcanic activity and sits at the southern end of Lake Rotorua, also formed from a volcanic explosion. Although the volcano hasn’t erupted since, there remains a lot of geothermal occurrences daily, which in turn creates geysers, hot springs and hot mud pools.

We really wanted to try the hot springs as well as seeing and learning about the traditional Māori people. In Rotorua you can find a living Māori village, there the people have been living for more than 700 years. You can have a tour of the village and witness how the people live.

Rotorua itself is a quaint little town with plenty of restaurants, cafes and bars. You will see many Māori people here which is really lovely to see. Another thing to note with this place is that it has a strong sulphur smell (think eggs) from the geysers which can be quite overwhelming if you’re not used to it but I’m so glad we were able to experience it.

Such an amazing place and we thanked the tour guide for an awesome opportunity to see how the Māori people continue to live to this day and aim to keep their traditions alive in the 21st century.

I hope you enjoyed a little insight to Rotorua. This is a definite pit stop if ever travelling from Wellington to Auckland. We made one more stop on our way to Auckland, can any of you guess where it was? I am really excited to show you all later this week.

Take care and thanks for your continued support.

Wayne ✌🏽

Wellington highlights!

We had flown to Wellington from Christchurch and thank goodness we were able to. The weather had been bad for weeks with heavy downpours. Many flights had been cancelled but fortunately for us, our flight made it across the water to the North Island. It was exciting to depart the South Island and have new experiences of the north. We also really wanted to see Wellington as it is the capital of New Zealand. We stayed here only for one night and would then hire a car and drive up the island to our final destination of Auckland.

As we were only here for one day, I will show you my highlights of the city and what we were able to squeeze in. We really enjoyed Wellington and we were extremely blessed to have good weather (mostly).

1 – Staying in the QT Wellington. This hotel chain is one of my favourites. We have stayed in three others before so we kind of knew what to expect. They’re a little more pricey but we thought if we’re only here for one day, why not treat ourselves to a nice hotel. This one in Wellington I think has been the best QT so far. Extremely quirky and we loved the art throughout the building. I would totally recommend staying here if you visit Wellington.

2 – Take a walk along Lambton Harbour. This is situated just beside the museum and it’s beautiful just to walk along the water front. This eventually leads onto Wellington Harbour.

3 – Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. This museum was on our doorstep so we had to check it out. Such a great place to learn about NZ and for us the highlight was the Gallipoli: The Scale of our War exhibition. You can find more information here. This unique exhibition tells the story of the Gallipoli campaign in World War I through the eyes and words of eight ordinary New Zealanders who found themselves in extraordinary circumstances. The people are recreated as larger than life models, really bringing it home what these people went through. An extraordinary exhibition and extremely moving.

4 – Wellington Cable Car. You can find this in the city centre and takes you to a great height up a mountain to see great panoramic views of Wellington. You can also see the Botanical Gardens there too that are really worth a visit.

5 – Take a walk through the city centre. There’s lots of character in this city, funky shops and great pieces of street art.

6 – Dinner at Mr Go’s. This Asian fusion restaurant is really quirky and serves delicious small plates perfect for sharing. There is such a good vibe here.

Thanks for taking a look at my Wellington blog and I hope you are inspired to maybe visit or even just enjoyed looking at some photographs of this amazing city. We would then head towards Auckland and make a couple of stops on the way. Next stop where we were staying is Rotorua, blog coming very soon 😊.

Take care,

Wayne ✌🏽

MILFORD SOUND

We took a day trip here from Queenstown. It is the one place everyone asked about whether we would be visiting or not when in Queenstown. I’m really glad that we did take the trip here, even if it was a long day. We booked a coach trip (you can do this at the tourist information office in town) and it lasted the whole day. It’s more than 12 hours to drive there, take a boat tour through Milford Sound and then the drive back. It’s a big day but really worth seeing, especially if you may never return here again.

Miford Sound is a fiord, carved by glaciers during the ice ages. It really is captivating and I don’t think I have ever seen anywhere quite like it. The scenery is out of this world, no matter what the weather and if you’re lucky you may be able to spot some dolphins, seals and penguins that call this place home. We were fortunate to have seen seals sunbathing and dolphins that followed our boat back into the dock.

Even the journey to Milford Sound is spectacular and we were able to make a few pit stops to take some photographs. I will show you a couple of our stops and then show you some snaps of the magnificent Milford Sound.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog post and I hope it inspired you to maybe visit for yourself one day.

Take care,

Wayne ✌🏽

ARROWTOWN

This place was a no brainer for me. It’s in close proximity to Queenstown and I had heard that this town was extremely quaint and full of character. Winner winner chicken dinner! We took the number 2 bus and were there 45 minutes later, however, if you travel by car it’s only about 20 minutes.

This church was the first building we had seen on arrival to Arrowtown. I love its craftsmanship.

I didn’t know much about the history of the town but that’s ok as they have a museum to provide you with some interesting information. I was already aware that Arrowtown was a good mining town and home to many European and Chinese immigrants who had settled to make their fortune.

Many of the architecture remains intact and the buildings are beautiful to look at. The whole street is very photogenic and there is a stunning river and walkway alongside, which is where the gold had been found many years ago.

Our last stop was for lunch at The Fork & Tap.

Thanks for reading guys and I hope I have been able to show you the beauty of Arrowtown. Please let me know if anyone has ever been there.

Wayne ✌🏽

QUEENSTOWN

When you say to people you are travelling to New Zealand, they will pretty much always ask “Are you going to Queenstown?”. I didn’t really understand why but now that I have travelled there, I totally get it. This place was the highlight of NZ for us. The scenery is just out of this world and made even more special as we were here in winter. The snow peaked mountains were absolutely stunning and you just can’t quite take it all in.

The flight into Queenstown is breathtaking and you won’t be able to peel your eyes away from the window.
As soon as you arrive at the airport you will be blown away by the epic scenery and become lost in the magic of Queenstown.

We caught the number one bus from the airport into Queenstown which takes about 10 – 15 minutes. It’s a very easy ride and luckily for us it stopped just before the town at our hotel, The Ramada. We loved our stay here, great proximity to the town, beautiful scenery all around, very friendly staff, lovely hotel and the breakfast was open until 11.30 and you simply pay for what you order (this was a real novelty for us as you usually pay a hefty amount for a buffet breakfast and they often close early in other places I have been).

For us, Queenstown was all about the scenery and using it as a base to see other places close by. We took the number two bus to the quaint little Arrowtown. We also took a coach trip to Milford Sound. I will post a little blog about these two places after this but these were the two places we most wanted to see. The scenery itself in Queenstown is beautiful and it’s really lovely just taking a stroll through the town and having a look at all the shops, restaurants and bars. There is a lovely walkway that passed the back of our hotel to the town that takes you along the side of Lake Wakatipu. It was beautiful and can also take you to the town via Queenstown Gardens.

Views from the back of the Ramada. We took the walk into the town. It takes about 30 minutes and the views are out of this world.
Lake Wakatipu
The town is very picturesque.

A few people have been asking about food recommendations so I thought I would run through a quick list for you :

Joe’s Garage – perfect for breakfast

Stratosfare – this is the restaurant on top of the huge mountain. Take the gondola up to the top for spectacular views of Queenstown. It’s a buffet dinner with plenty to choose from.

Surreal Bar & Restaurant – nice pub grub and home cooking. All the staff appeared to be Irish too 😊.

Flame (need to book) – we actually couldn’t go here as it was fully booked. My advice would be to book ahead ( for most restaurants actually, as they get pretty busy and there are very few staff here at the moment due to the pandemic).

Bombay Palace – perfect little spot for some Indian food. We loved it.

Boardwalk – PIER Restaurant – this is just at the pier (funny enough). Beautiful views to watch the world go by and they have heat lamps for dining al fresco.

Seafood chowder and a glass of rosé 😋

Paddy Gaddy – Southeast Asian – the food here was stunning. It’s an Asian fusion type restaurant with a real vibe.

Margos Mexican – another one you would need to book. This looked awesome but there was no space the night that we tried. Definitely looks worth a visit if you like Mexican food.

The Pig and Whistle – we loved this place for drinks, either sitting inside or out.

The Speight’s Ale House – lovely quaint little pub with the best toasty fire.

That’s my lot for Queenstown. Such an amazing place that you have to see for yourself. We only had 4 days here but that was actually perfect for us as we weren’t skiing or participating in any winter sports (not our cup of tea). Should that be your thing, you will love this place even more!

Thanks for reading and I will have a couple of blog posts for Arrowtown and Milford Sound coming.

Wayne ✌🏽

Doors of WordPress – V18

Happy Thursday everyone and welcome to yet another weekly post featuring some more of my favourite doors. This week’s edition comes from New Zealand. I’m still on my travels but I want to show case some doors from my travels that I have seen so far. Let me know if you have a favourite 😊.

1 – Christchurch
2 – Queenstown
3 – Arrowtown
4 – Christchurch
5 – Queenstown

I have seen some lovely doors here in NZ, although sadly not many residential doors. Let me know if you have a favourite and I will be sure to keep an eye for more doors on my travels.

I hope you’re all having a great week.

Wayne ✌🏽

Sunday Sunset – Queenstown

Tonight’s sunset from Stratosfare, the skyline gondola restaurant in Queenstown 🌅. You can see the colour change on the mountain tops and the reflecting water.

I hope you’re all having a lovely weekend.

Take care and peace out from New Zealand.

Wayne ✌🏽

CHRISTCHURCH

First stop on our New Zealand trip was Christchurch. We stayed here for two nights before moving on to Queenstown.

I hadn’t heard too many positive things about Christchurch sadly, therefore I had no expectations. I know it had been hit by a pretty big earthquake a few years ago and there had been a couple of mass shooting incidents a couple of years ago that were pretty bad. However, we wanted to see this city for ourselves and it’s a good gateway to the south of the South Island.

Christchurch is situated in the South Island. You can disregard all those flags, these were some of my points of interest for our trip.

I am really glad we decided to stay in Christchurch as it is an amazing city with lots of culture, art, has a vibrant hospitality scene and the warmest and friendliest people. It does have a sense of still recovering from its recent troubles and it was pretty quiet here, perhaps as it’s winter also but we really enjoyed our short time here. There was plenty to see and discover and I’m sure we only managed to scratch the surface.

Of course we managed to find a great Irish pub, The Little Fiddle ☘️

If you have the chance to travel to New Zealand, be sure to check out Christchurch too. It’s a beautiful city with lots of heart and character.

Thanks for taking a look at my post. Next post will be from Queenstown 🙌🏼.

Wayne ✌🏽

Travelling with Air New Zealand

I thought I would write a little blog post about our experience with Air NZ, flying from Sydney to Christchurch. The flight itself was delayed by half an hour but the pilot managed to make up the time in the air, meaning the flight was only approximately 2.5 hours and we arrived ahead of schedule.

I had never flown with this airline before so I had no expectations. I have flown with many different airlines over the years and have had both good and bad experiences, which makes me think that could also be a good blog post to write about. I’m sure we all have some amazing or terrifying stories to tell from flying.

Anyway, I am pleased to report that Air NZ was pretty amazing. How and why was this?

1 – Customer service. This was exceptional with the cabin crew being all from NZ. They were extremely friendly and I had the impression that they were being very genuine and sincere. I think that’s the NZ way, everyone I have met here so far in Christchurch has been super friendly.

2 – Complimentary tea or coffee. Being a short flight, I wasn’t expecting anything free. I knew we could purchase food and drinks but it was a nice touch to have been offered something with compliments.

3 – Free WiFi. Amazing to have this free and it was for the whole trip. Also good to note that they offered unlimited data. I have never seen this before. Normally you might have free data that is just enough to send one email so this was a novelty. The WiFi was also really good quality.

4 – USB port. This is really handy to charge your phone, especially if using the WiFi. I love that we can do this. I hate using my phone (even for games to pass the time) and having little to no battery on arrival.

5 – Free Rapid Antigen Tests. I wasn’t aware that we had to carry out a RAT on arrival but the process was made very easy. They provide you with four RATs for you to take with you. At your hotel you can conduct the test yourself and upload the results to a website they provide. I suppose they are really relying on you to be honest with this and report being positive of covid if you are unfortunate to be so. You carry out a test on Day 0 and again on Day 5. Thankfully we were negative!

Ps. Just a little reminder. It’s always good to carry a pen with you onboard. I normally do but forgot this time and had to borrow one. You will need this for completing your arrival card.

All in all, a very smooth and enjoyable flight, made all the better with the friendly cabin crew. A great service from Air NZ.

Wayne ✌🏽

Tuesday thoughts 💭 – Travel time

Today is the day! We head on our travels before heading home. I will finally have some travel experiences to share again. As a travel blogger primarily, this makes me very happy.

We will be heading to New Zealand today all being well, first stop Christchurch. I say all being well as you just don’t know what is around the corner, especially in these covid times. Even before entering NZ there is so much documentation needed, for example, obtaining a travel pass, an electronic travel authority, your covid vaccination dates and proof of the vaccines. Thankfully, no covid swabs or rapid antigen tests are needed.

I hope to keep you updated throughout the trip and I will be keen to read other blogs when in the air or on the road.

Have a great day everyone and see you in New Zealand.

Wayne ✌🏽

Australia VS Northern Ireland

As I plan to move back home to Northern Ireland (at least for a few months) I thought it would be a good idea to reflect on both countries and delve into the pros and cons of living in each country. I had been thinking of these a lot over the past few months when trying to make a decision about where to live. As an expat, these are things we think about, pretty much on a daily basis, as sad as that sounds. In this post I will look at the pros and cons of Australia and in my next blog post I will look at Northern Ireland.

Australia Pros :

The weather. It’s pretty much warm for most of the year. Winter here can be cold enough but only lasts for about three months give or take.

The lifestyle. It’s very chilled out here in Australia, especially in Sydney where I live by the water. The sunshine makes people happy, the coastal walks, dining outdoors, exercising etc. I think just being outdoors is so good for our mental health and well-being.

The opportunities. Australia is the land of opportunity. There is plenty of work available here and you can process quickly. Even the fact I have been teaching here has been a huge opportunity that I wouldn’t have been given back home.

The money. The fact is, I earn a lot more as a nurse here than I ever will back home. That can be said for many jobs here. Yes the expense of living is much higher here but you can still manage to save money here and live a really fulfilling life.

The health system. It is amazing here, with a mixture of public and private, it works really well. I feel so fortunate to be in a country with such a fantastic health system, unlike America where it costs a fortune and many people can’t afford or the NHS that is really struggling and has been for many years now.

The activities. There is always something to do, especially in Sydney. There are an abundance of bars and restaurants, plenty of bush, beach and ocean walks, lots of experiences, seeing the sights and famous landmarks etc etc, I could go on forever here.

The sheer size of Australia. There is also so much to see and do all over Australia, therefore, you don’t really ever need to leave Australia if you want to see somewhere new. I don’t think I realised how big Australia actually is until I lived here for some time. It is unbelievably huge with each state completely different from the next and offering so much that really is a feast for anyone living here.

Australia Cons :

The weather. As much as I love the weather here, it can also be a negative for Australia, especially the past three years. The bush fires are becoming more aggressive, wiping out so much land and killing millions of animal species. 2019 was horrific, so I dread to think how the next bush fires will be. Then we have the other extreme, flooding. The last two years we have had the La Niña weather event, bringing catastrophic amounts of rainfall. This is also predicted to last well into next year. The only silver lining with the rain is that it prevents the bush fires. I feel also with global warming, that the weather here, sadly, will be seeing more and more extremes of weather disasters.

The distance. Personally, this is my biggest issue. It never used to bother me before covid. I always felt that if I needed to be home, I could always hop on a flight and be home within 24 hours. However, since being in lockdown, we haven’t been home in over three years. We suddenly feel very far from home. We are literally at the other side of the word. With lockdowns, it appeared to the outside world that Australia was very much cut off from everywhere else in the world. Family and friends are very important to me and if I can’t see them, that’s a big problem.

In conclusion, you can see I have many more pros than cons. I absolutely love Australia and its people. It is a magnificent country with lots to do and great opportunities but I don’t have my family here. I feel extremely far away and for that reason, I will be going home for a few months to see how it goes.

Keep an eye on my next blog post where I will write about the pros and cons of Northern Ireland. Thanks for reading everyone and have a pleasant day.

Wayne ✌🏽

WordPress Monthly Word Prompt – PLAY

July’s monthly word prompt seems pretty apt for me this month. I have just wrapped up work in both of my jobs and moved out of my apartment. From today, I am work free and no more moving furniture. Hallelujah and time to play.

Today we listened to a little jazz band with lunch in Homestead at Centennial Park. I had never been here before in the whole five years I have been coming to this park. Isn’t it amazing to discover new things right on your doorstep.
Mulled wine, the perfect winter warmer 🤗
Rounded off with some peppermint tea. Loved it.

Have a great weekend folks.

Wayne ✌🏽

Five years of blogging!

Wow! Another milestone hit this week for me. I have been blogging for five years now and I really feel like I have come full circle.

I started blogging when I arrived in Australia five years ago. I wanted to document my travels and the plan was initially to share my travels with those from home in Ireland. However, I soon found that when I was blogging about places in Sydney, local Sydney people were taking an interest and learning from my travel experiences. This was fantastic and really gave me a boost to keep sharing the places I had been visiting.

Now after five years, I will be heading back home to Ireland. My blog has come full circle and I now really look forward to taking my blog back home and sharing travel experiences from Ireland and Europe. We have a lot to offer in Ireland and Northern Ireland, where I will be living. I hope you continue to follow my journey and see what the other side of the world has to offer.

It hasn’t been an easy decision to move back home after five years but again I have covid to thank for that. Suddenly we feel so far away from home here in Australia. Previously I always thought I could be home within a couple of days, however, it has now been over three years since I have been home. I miss my family and friends and feel I have to take this opportunity to return home and see what the future has in store for me there. That’s not to say I will never be back to Australia. It’s not a good bye but rather a “See you later”.

I will be doing a little travelling soon before I reach home with my partner so stay tuned and hopefully I will have some really interesting places to show you on my blog.

Thank you everyone again for following my journey and I hope to keep you further entertained in the next chapter of my life.

Wayne ✌🏽

Friday Flowers

My Friday Flowers are back again this week! Sometimes I will post a flower of the day on a Friday but if I have a few to share, I will call the post Friday Flowers 🤗. I think it’s a nice way to end the working week, splash a bit of colour through WordPress and it’s a good opportunity to appreciate the little things in life that we can often take for granted. We are still having A LOT of rain here in Sydney and through NSW. I can’t even complain about it as some people have it much, much worse then me. There are severe floods here, people losing their homes, their livelihoods and sometimes even their lives. Plus we still have the war in Ukraine that is in my thoughts every single day. When will it all end? 🙏🏼 .

Please feel free to check out my Friday Flowers below and hopefully they can make you smile and add a little colour to your day ☺️. I will tell you their name and where I have seen them 👇🏼

Scarlet Star – Bellagio Resort, Las Vegas
Flame Vine – Vaucluse, Sydney
Angel’s Trumpet – Wendy’s Secret Garden, Sydney
Pride of Madeira – Vaucluse, Sydney
Chinese Hibiscus – Kogarah, NSW

I have to say, I am in no way a botanist but I have an amazing app on my phone that can tell me about a flower species by simply uploading a photo. I cannot believe how amazing it is that we can learn so much from a photo. The app is called Picture This if you want to have a look for yourself.

It also gives you the botanical names, where they originated and other common names.
It can also identify weeds, birds, insects etc. – simply amazing 🤩

Ps. This is not an advert for this app. I just want to share as I think it’s fantastic if you want to know more about the flowers you are photographing. You can check them out here at https://www.picturethisai.com/

I hope you enjoyed my Friday Flowers post. Have a great weekend everyone and if you’re in Sydney, good luck staying dry 😬.

Wayne ✌🏽

Sunday Sunsets – Phuket

Happy Sunday everyone. I have been thinking about this for some time now. As well as my love for travelling, doors, flowers, architecture and anything quaint, I am also obsessed with sunrises and sunsets. Preferably sunsets as I don’t like to wake up too early to see the sun rising. I want to share with you every Sunday some of my favourite sunsets (and a few sunrises) over the years and where I have seen them. Hopefully the colours will also brighten our spirits with all the sadness in the world today.

This week I will show you a sunset I watched in Kata Noi on the island of Phuket, Thailand. I met my parents here for a few days as they were holidaying from Ireland and I flew over from Australia. It was amazing to be able to catch the sunset with my parents and spend some quality time with them on my own. A time I will forever cherish.

Kata Noi Beach
With my Dad

Thank you for taking a look.

Wayne ✌🏽

Uluru – Sunrise tour

This tour was part of our Field of Light tour. After the lights, we headed upwards to the vantage point. There we were offered some tea/coffee and biscuits to watch the sunrise (this was needed due to being so early 😉). Needless to say, the sunrise was unreal. Even though we had witnessed a sunset, seen Uluru up close and from afar, this sunrise still managed to massively impress us. Take a look for yourself below.

Sun is rising
Waiting for the sun to rise 🌅
The colours 🤩
Sunrise with Uluru to the right. The way the sun hits is just stunning.

So we have now come to the end of my Uluru blog mini series. I hope you all enjoyed the pictures and are maybe now inspired to visit Uluru for yourselves. As I mentioned previously, we travelled here for a weekend break and didn’t quite get to see everything on our list, although I am overjoyed with what we did manage to see. If you plan to visit for yourself, there are a couple of other excursions you could try. Dining under the Stars is supposed to be amazing and was on my list big time. I’m sure it’s beautiful to eat in the middle of the desert with a clear sky above. Can you imagine how bright the stars must be? Also a camel tour around Uluru would be pretty epic, riding through the desert. Although part of me is slightly wary of this, could this be considered cruel to camels?

Anyway, hopefully you can do all the things you would like when and if you travel there. Not every excursion suits everyone. I for one am extremely happy with what we have seen and done and we have absolutely made memories to last a lifetime.

Thanks for reading,

Wayne ✌🏽

Uluru – By air

This was the first excursion we did when arriving to Yulara. This was a surprise for me as it had not even been on my radar to see Uluru from an airplane. I was told five minutes prior to being collected by the pilot. My remarkable partner had it all secretly planned.

We travelled with Ayers Rock Scenic Flights and yes you read that correct, we were collected by the pilot. This was certainly a first for us. We were taken by minibus to the airport where we boarded a very small airplane, a four seater Piston-powered aircraft (that’s as much as I know) and we had a safety talk with our amazing pilot.

I have been in a few different aircraft that holds up to ten people but never one that has just four seats. This was very exciting. You have to wear a headset that enables you to talk and listen to the pilot, whilst also listening to her communicate with the local air traffic control team. Then up, up and away.

The views even taking off were out of this world. I have never seen the ground so red and dusty. It’s amazing to be in the desert with not much at all around you. There were some green plants however, as there had been much needed rain just days before. We could see the town of Yulara, the hotels, the workers’ accommodation and an even fancier hotel away from everywhere else, where William and Kate had stayed. Our pilot was a great tour guide, giving us a run down of the area and history.

Then when you see Uluru, it’s just magnifique. Such a feast for the eyes. From the air it doesn’t look as big as on land but it fairly stands out in the middle of the desert. You can also see Kata Tjuta, another rock formation about 25km away from Uluru, which is just as formidable but somehow understated.

Honestly this is such an experience to see from the air. Whether you choose a plane or a helicopter, it will be worth your while booking a trip in the air. You won’t regret it. it’s not as scary as you might think and the turbulence was very minimal. The pilot talks to you throughout and you’re busy taking in the scenery to be anxious or worried about the height you are at.

Some advice for you that I learned after. You can only take and post pictures of Uluru from one side. On the back of Uluru are some culturally sensitive sites that you cannot take pictures of or post on social media. I had learned this when doing the tour on foot, however, I had never considered that fact when I was snapping away from the air. Granted I had this experience before the tour on foot so I was ignorant to this information. I have so many photos and videos but unfortunately cannot show them here from this angle. I will show more in the next blog post when we carried out the tours on foot.

Let me know what you think about seeing sites from the sky?

Thanks for reading all,

Wayne ✌🏽

Bloganuary Day 13

I feel very lucky that I have the opportunity to live my ideal day many times a week or month living here in Australia, mainly due to the weather and lifestyle. Even if I am working, I will take the opportunity to carry out activities that I enjoy before or after work.

I will break down an ideal day for me if I am on my day off, that is, not working.

• Wake up after a good sleep about 6am. Make myself a coffee and walk/run to the gym for a strength workout at 7am. An hour later I will come home to shower.

• I then love to have a good breakfast. Sometimes I will head out with my partner or I will meet friends for a catch-up over breakfast.

• After this, I love to go for a walk. Either along the coast, taking in the beaches of the eastern suburbs or around Centennial Park or even more so, a new place to walk. I love finding new spots to explore and taking many, many photographs. Maybe even go for a swim.

• Try to stop for lunch somewhere quaint or perhaps take a packed lunch. I am happy with either ☺️.

• Come home for a lovely home cooked meal and have a couple of glasses of wine or if I’m free in the evening, head out to meet friends for a few sociable drinks after having eaten.

• Finally, I would round the night off with a big cup of tea at home and have a reasonably early night, say 10 or 11pm. I am all about a good nights sleep.

This is my ideal day. Plain and simple.

Wayne ✌🏽

12 months and 12 photos (2021)

January

A new year and we started it with a trip to Hunter Valley! This place was amazing for their cheese & wine matching experience at Two Fat Blokes
February

Weekending in the Southern Highlands with friends. We were introduced to this venue Mount Ashby Estate and it was love at first sight. The Southern Highlands has become a firm favourite of ours to visit.
March

Trip to the Gold Coast, returning after 11 years. We stayed at the Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort. Stunning hotel and it was awesome to be back and see how the Gold Coast has changed over time.
April

Another great holiday in Queensland. This time was in Noosa for a special birthday ( 1 year later due to Covid) and a long overdue catch up with friends. What a fantastic town with so much to see and do.
May

Celebrating with my good friends for finally finishing our course that would enable us to teach nursing. I’m so glad I completed this and it was a highlight of the year to help me land a teaching job in nursing.
June

The Art Gallery of NSW. We loved this place and little did we know that another (much longer) lockdown was just around the corner.
July

Who was to know that this lockdown would last 4 months! We were limited to a 5km radius from where we lived. Thankfully we could go for daily walks in Centennial Park.
August

My first lockdown birthday and hopefully the last. My one wish was to see the sunrise at Bronte. It was really special 🌅. I’ve seen it many times but it never gets old.
September

Continuing with my daily workouts at home, maintaining my fitness and keeping my sanity.
October – After 107 days lockdown is over (for now). It was so nice to be able to leave our 5km radius and see Sydney come back to life. You always remember you live in Sydney when sitting at the Opera Bar ☺️
November

Getting out and about again. We’re still appreciating what Sydney has to offer. Here we attended the musical Come From Away at the Capitol Theatre. We love being in the theatre so this was a real treat.
December

Cheers to surviving 2021. A great day trip to Hunter Valley and a great wine tasting at Vinden Wines. It’s funny, I started the year in the Hunter and now seems fitting to complete the year here. The wine and many lockdown cocktails have certainly helped 😉

Thanks everyone for having a read. When you look back at the year, it actually wasn’t too bad. We still have our health and the hope that 2022 will be better. Stay safe and sane everyone.

Wayne ☺️

Hunter Valley – in a day 🍷

Hunter Valley, NSW, an amazing place to taste some fine wines. Stunning scenery, boutique wineries, friendly people, what more could you wish for. I have been here quite a few times now and have always stayed at least two nights. I guess because it’s quite far away and it’s the ideal place to have a mini vacation. So when I was asked by my friends and work colleagues to join them for a day trip, I was excited to see what we could experience in a day. At least with the 2.5 hour drive each way, we could chat and catch up with each other 😊.

We had booked a day trip with Teds Tours. A company that specialises in wine tours and has a very friendly mentos. You can click https://www.tedstours.com.au/hunter-valley-tours/tour-packages for more information. Our driver Kris was amazing. He was a great laugh and very accommodating, picking us up from Wolli Creek and taking us there and back, whilst driving us also around three different vineyards and also to the pub for lunch. Nothing was a bother for him and he managed to keep us all within the time limits, no easy feat when everyone has had a few wines 🤪.

The gang ready to head off with Teds Tours

The three vineyards we had the pleasure of visiting were: Saltire 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿, Vinden Wines and Tatler. All three were good on there own merit, however, Saltire really stuck out for us. The scenery was unreal. Delicious wines, fantastic setting, a Scottish heritage and the service was extremely warm and inviting. All in all, this vineyard set the bar high and the staff had a really good knowledge and appreciation of their products 🍷.

Saltire 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿
Vinden Wines

Lunch at The Mighty – this was delicious and I really love this pub!

All in all, this was a great day out. We loved the company, the vineyards and the wines. Would I travel 2.5 hours each way again for a day trip, probably not. However, I would definitely use Teds Tours again, especially if staying in the Hunter in the future. I hope it inspires you to visit Hunter Valley, for a day or a longer stay. You won’t be disappointed.

Thanks for reading guys, take care and stay safe.

Wayne ☺️

Jacaranda season 💜

For this post I want to simply show case these amazing trees here in Sydney. I have been a huge fan of Jacarandas since arriving in Australia over 4 years ago. I think it’s the colour of the trees that make them so special and the fact that I had never seen them before. The season starts around mid October until mid November and it really provides that sense of spring being in the air and a gentle reminder that it is almost summer here.

Although it’s easy to think of these trees being native to Australia, they are interestingly a tree originally from South America, predominantly Argentina. If you want some more info on this tree you can find more info here.

These trees, presumably because of their attractive purple/blueish colour have become increasingly popular with social media people, all vying for that perfect snap or selfie. This is great to see people taking such an interest (me included), however, it can prove difficult at times to take some pictures without any other people photo bombing 🙈.

I will show you some of my Jacarandas snaps over the last few years and where they were taken. The good thing is, there are lots of places that Jacarandas can be found 🙌🏼.

If you’re looking for a grove of Jacaranda trees, McDougall Street in Kirribilli is a popular spot for bloggers and social media people.

McDougall Street, Kirribilli
McDougall Street, Kirribilli

I think the trees found near Como Hotel in Como, NSW, are pretty special, as are those found at Hogben Park in Kogerah. If you’re simply looking for a random tree or two, you can see these in many different streets in and around Sydney. I see a lot of them where I live in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney.

Como


Croydon

You can find them in lots of other Sydney suburbs, for example, Croydon.

I hope you all have the chance to see a Jacaranda this season and if not, at least you can see them here 🤗. Thanks for taking an interest in my love for the Jacaranda tree!!

Take care & stay safe,

Wayne ✌🏽

1 night in Manly ☺️

When you need a break but can’t have more than a weekend off, 1 night will have to suffice. We just wanted to get away for a couple of days for a change of scenery. So we decided on Manly. Although Manly is still within Sydney and easy to travel to, we have never stayed overnight here. You see, you normally would catch the ferry here from Circular Quay and have a day trip in Manly, normally catching a ferry back home at around sunset. There are a few lovely bars and restaurants at the harbour and we would often have a couple of drinks here while waiting on the ferry to come in and take us home. However, when the craic is great and the drinks are flowing, you seem to just watch the ferries arrive and then they depart, without you on them. There’s always time to catch the next ferry 😉. This could go on for about 3 or 4 ferries until we have decided, enough is enough and head back home.

Drinks at the harbour waiting for the ferry ☺️

So this in itself would be a novelty for us to stay here and not have to worry about catching the ferry home. There’s lots to do at Manly and we still hadn’t seen all that is on offer. You have the harbour, bush walks, beaches and rock pools, as well as, amazing bars and restaurants. We decided to stay at Hotel Steyne. It’s a hotel but more so, it is a restaurant and pub, with outdoor areas, a glasshouse bar, whiskey bar and a rooftop with stunning views of Manly beach. It has charm, character and is right in the heart of everything Manly has to offer. We loved this place.

I could not recommend Manly enough for a short stay (more than 1 night would have been amazing) or a longer holiday. It honestly has everything and really feels like a holiday destination. I am seriously looking forward to a longer break but for now, 1 night will have to do 🙏🏼

We caught up with friends from home at The Ivanhoe Hotel.

The beaches and walks are stunning. We didn’t do any bush walks this time but they’re really worth checking out.

Is anyone else planning a night away? Where’s your favourite place to travel for a weekend break?

Thanks everyone for reading!

Keep safe,

Wayne ☺️

Halloween anyone? 🎃

Is Halloween a big deal where you live? I feel like it’s pretty big here in Sydney. Parents go to great lengths to make it fun for the children. They really decorate their houses well and also outside their houses. I once seen hoards of children and their parents travelling the streets en mass here to go trick or treating. I had never seen this before.

Where I’m from in Northern Ireland, the kids would get dressed up and parade the streets to find sweets and candy from the neighbouring houses (you were devastated if someone gave you fruit or nuts!). I had never seen parents also getting dressed up and travelling with their children. Maybe that’s a sign of the times.

I used to love Halloween as a student. It was a great chance to be dressed up in anything really and head to a party with other like minded souls. The outfits didn’t have to be particularly scary. I never really understood that part. As I grow older, Halloween means less and less to me sadly. What about you? Does anyone else look forward to Halloween and it’s festivities?

Wayne 🧙‍♂️

E.G. Waterhouse National Camellia Gardens

I happened to stumble across these gardens when working in Caringbah, within the Sutherland Shire recently. I was trying to walk somewhere pleasant and increase my step count when these gardens appeared like an oasis in a desert. It was such a awesome surprise to find. I just wanted to share some pictures of the gardens and the nearby Kareena Park Reserve. Here you can find an abundance of camellias and other flowers, a quaint tea house, numerous bird species and many sleepy flying foxes. This is the perfect spot for a picnic or simply getting lost in nature. If you want to read about the history of the gardens you can click here.

This is somewhere you should check out if looking for a day trip out of Sydney to see something a little different. It honestly made my day to spend some time here and I felt I should share with others who may not have heard of this spot.

Take care and thanks for reading 🙏🏼

Wayne 😊

Sydney Lockdown: My 5km radius

Bronte Rock Pool

This week we enter our 15th week of lockdown and hopefully the last, as restrictions will ease here next week. As you may or may not be aware, we have been restricted to moving within 5km of where we live or our local government area. I can honestly say, I have exhausted my 5km radius, having walked almost every area possible 🤣. I want to display a few photos to show you my 5km radius from when lockdown here began and you will see for yourself how diverse a small area in Sydney can be 🙌🏼.

1 – Coastal walks – Bondi to Coogee (or anywhere in between)

Bondi Beach

2 – Centennial Park

3 – Double Bay

4 – Rose Bay

5 – Hermitage Foreshore Walk

This encompasses many of Sydney’s intimate beaches along the harbour with great views of the Sydney city skyline. Includes Milk Beach, Parsley Bay & Nielsen Park.

6 – Paddington

That’s it folks. Thanks for taking a look around my 5km radius. It has been great to be able to show some photos again as it has been a while.

Take care and stay safe everyone.

Wayne ☺️

Travel bloggers question time 🤗

A really cool blogger Theredphoneboxtravels that I follow and always inspires me suggested these questions to be answered by her followers. I thought it was a great idea to share travel experiences ✌🏽. Feel free to have a read below ⬇️

Why did you start blogging?

I started blogging in 2017 when I moved to Australia from Ireland. I initially wanted to share my new experiences here in Sydney and keep people updated with my goings on. However, I soon started to blog about places of interest to travel and explore. I wanted to share trips locally to promote them and show others interesting places to check out. Lots of people ask me about places I have travelled so I thought it would be fun and beneficial to create blog posts about them ✌🏽

What souvenirs do you buy on your travels?

I like to buy items that remind me of a place I have been. I especially like items with the place name on them, for example, T-shirts or vests that state the name. I also like fridge magnets that remind me of a certain place.

Name your top 5 cities that you’ve visited.

This is hard as I feel I have seen so many amazing cities from living in Europe most of my life.

Number 1 – I suppose this ought to be Sydney. I lived here in 2009 and fell in love with this city. I had to come back and explore it more. Hence, why I have lived here for the past 4 years. I love the scenery, the weather, the culture and the fact that there is always something new to discover. You have the city life, beach life and bush walks all in one place.

Number 2 – Amalfi. This is more a town than a city but it is my most favourite place I have ever visited. The area is absolutely stunning. The quaint little streets are beautiful and the Amalfi Cathedral is breathtaking. The view of the cathedral and the steps leading to it from the Piazza del Duomo are really a sight to behold. The food, the people, the culture, scenery and infamous coastline make this area simply out of this world.

Number 3 – Paris. The best city to get lost in. Beautiful city, oozing with culture, history and diversity. The famous landmarks do not disappoint.

Number 4 – Berlin. The city that keeps on giving. Steeped in history and offers so many things to see and do. Constantly evolving and so so friendly. To be honest I love any city in Germany!

Number 5 – Barcelona. Never a dull moment in this city. Love the architecture and culture. The food and eateries are stunning. You could walk around the streets of this city all day and night.

What’s the best dessert you’ve ever had on your travels?

Limencello. Also not really a desert but this always stands out in my mind and it’s something I would have after a main course so it feels like a desert to me. The first time I experienced this liqueur was in Amalfi. Obviously it was going to be unreal here and it was constantly being offered to you. My love for limencello had begun 🍋.

Have you ever travelled somewhere by boat? (ferries, cruise ships, river boats etc.)

Too many places to mention. Taking the boat from Nadi, Fiji to Musket Cove was an unreal experience and definitely worth doing if you’re over this side of the world.

I once took a small boat trip to Tory Island, just off the coast of Donegal, Ireland. Take the boat from Magheroarty in Donegal and head over to Tory. Not best if you suffer from travel sickness as the waters can be very choppy but it is an amazing island to visit and explore some of the fine art available.

Do you have a favourite travel movie/book?

Life of Pi is one of my favourite books and the story is set in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The movie is pretty epic too with the special effects. I was also fortunate enough to see the stage show at the Grand Opera House Belfast and it was fantastic.

What are you looking forward to when the lockdown/covid-19 restrictions in your country finish?

Travelling home to Ireland to see my family and friends. It’s been 2 years this week since I have been home and the home sickness is well and truly setting in.

For those of you who are up for participating, here are the rules: provide a link to the creator’s original award post; answer the questions provided; create 7 unique questions; nominate up to 10 bloggers; ensure that they are aware of their nomination.

My questions:

1 – Why did you start blogging?

2 – Where has been your favourite place to visit on your travels?

3 – What has been your favourite food on your travels?

4 – What is your favourite thing about the country you are from?

5 – Who do you love to travel with?

6 – What is your favourite type of accommodation to stay in whilst travelling and has there been a stand out accommodation experience?

7 – What is your favourite thing to do whilst travelling?

I have nominated 5 bloggers. Please feel free to answer my questions and there is no pressure if you choose not too ☺️

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