What irritates you about the home you live in?

Bloganuary day 21

This prompt made me chuckle today. I could write pages and pages on this but I am going to refrain. I am still living with my parents since arriving back to Ireland so all I will say is that the most irritating thing is that it’s not my own home. I have lived away from my parents for over twenty years now so you can imagine how difficult it is to be living with them again.

Don’t get me wrong, I am extremely grateful for their hospitality and thankfully we do have a great relationship and have good times together. However, it’s not my own space and I can’t do things how I would normally do them. I also really enjoy my own space and even company at times.

Roll on me finding my own place which will hopefully be in the next few weeks. Send all your positive vibes my way please 😉.

Many thanks in advance,

Wayne ✌🏽

Welcome back Bloganuary!

Bloganuary! I am so glad to see you back. Today’s question is a good one for the first day of 2023.

What is something you want to achieve this year?

What is something you want to achieve this year?

One word springs to mind for me, FOUNDATION. I have just returned from Australia back home to Northern Ireland and my goal is to build my foundation for the next chapter in my life. I want to buy a house, settle in a new job and decide what is in store for my future. I am really looking forward and thinking of positive things for the days, weeks, months and even years ahead. I hope you will all follow me on my journey and very good luck to all those participating in this years Bloganuary. I look forward to reading everyone’s responses and making some new friends here in the blogosphere.

Happy New Year everyone and here’s hoping 2023 brings us everything we hope for.

Wayne ✌🏽

FOTD – Greater Periwinkle

Happy Friday everyone and welcome to my last flower of the day for this year. I can’t believe it’s the 30th of December 2022, however, I will be glad to have this year behind me and focus on 2023. It’s been a tough few months to say the least but I feel like this image below signifies it perfectly. This beautiful lavender periwinkle flower was covered in snow and now it’s slowly thawing out, ready to shine once again.

I want to wish you all a very happy new year and take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you very, very much for all your support with my blog. I honestly appreciate it so much, every like, every comment, every emoji and ALL the positivity shown here in this extraordinary space known as the blogosphere.

Greater periwinkle (fabulous name) – spotted at one of my new favourite places, Hillsborough Castle.

Take care everyone and I hope to see you all back here in 2023! I will be participating in this year’s Bloganuary as I loved it so much last year. Will anyone else be participating?

Wayne ✌🏽

12 months and 12 photos (2022)

I love choosing 12 photos to highlight what I have experienced throughout the year and it’s a great little recap. This has been a big year with lots of changes, some good and some bad, however, I am grateful to have had a good year overall and ending 2022 on a positive note. Please feel free to have a look at my 2022 highlights below and feel free to share your highlights from the past 12 months.

JANUARY – starting the year off with a little trip to Mudgee, NSW. We had always wanted to visit here and this was the perfect place for us to celebrate 15 years together.

FEBRUARY – This was one of our most epic destinations and a huge bucket list ticked off. Our trip to Uluru was one that we will cherish for years to come.

MARCH – Rain, rain, rain. Two years of rain in Sydney thanks to La Niña. We had many days out in the rain, we wouldn’t let it deter us, it was certainly better than having bush fires.

APRIL – a lovely little trip seeing the bestie in Melbourne. So good to catch-up after so long apart and seeing these Brighton boxes was another item ticked off the bucket list.

MAY – Seeing Dermot Kennedy in concert was pretty special, especially with my Irish friends.

JUNE – BBQ with the boys. Some of my favourite people, fantastic Lebanese food and this was the beginning of my many leaving parties as I leave Sydney for the time being.

JULY – the beginning of our travels. Queenstown in New Zealand was an absolute highlight. We loved it here.

AUGUST – Next on our travels was Bali, Indonesia. Stunning place to visit and we welcomed the sunshine after being in NZ at winter time.

SEPTEMBER – a big reason for me coming home was to see my sisters become married. A beautiful day and I love this photos with my sisters. I’m a lucky guy to have not one but three amazing sisters 🤍

OCTOBER – the main reason for me to come home, my family. Precious time with my niece and nephew, priceless!

NOVEMBER – my baby sister has her wedding. A lovely day and feeling very proud here 🤍

DECEMBER – Home with my number one person. Grateful to be here together and look forward to 2023, side by side ❤️

10 things I have learned/remembered since being home in Northern Ireland

1 – People in Northern Ireland are EXTREMELY friendly.

2 – The cost of EVERYTHING has increased drastically since I lived here five years ago, from food, to rent, to energy bills (this one is worldwide at the moment). Everything has increased, except for wages, shocking really.

3 – It is BALTIC here in the winter. I had forgotten how cold it can be here. It is minus five degrees this morning!

4 – The pubs and restaurants here are very cosy and quaint. I have missed this. Pints of Guinness by a warm fire.

5 – Everything is so festive here at Christmas. I know it’s what you’re used to but I have really missed the cold, dark evenings, the smell of warm spices, mulled wine, hearing Christmas songs etc etc. For me it was never the same wearing shorts and T-shirts.

6 – The importance of family.

7 – The quality of television shows is pretty high here and I love the Christmas shows/movies that are available in the lead up to Christmas.

8 – We walk a lot less here. I miss doing my 15,000 steps a day in Sydney. My step count has dropped significantly since being home and that’s sad. I guess it’s the cold weather and lack of somewhere good to walk nearby.

9 – It’s dark for most of the day. I love the dark evenings but I forgot how much daylight you miss. You travel to work in the dark and drive home from work in the dark. That can be hard and we have this for the next few months.

10 – People in Northern Ireland say ‘Wee’ ALL THE TIME! Everything can be described as ‘wee’. A ‘wee’ cup of tea, put your ‘wee’ card in the ‘wee’ machine, would you like a ‘wee’ bag? I had totally forgotten how often we use that word and it’s not simply used for small items! It’s actually insane how much we use that word but lovely at the same time. You instantly know you’re home when your hear ‘wee’ being used.

Share your World 15/11/22

Thank you PENSITIVITY101 for this weeks Share your World questions, I like these a lot.

1. Does the weather affect your mood?

I think the weather really does affect my mood, even subconsciously. If there are blue skies and the sun is shining, I will definitely have a spring in my step.

2. If a stranger smiles at you or says ‘good morning’ when they pass you in the street, do you return it?

I absolutely return it. I love when people are friendly and smile. Quite often I will be the person to initiate a smile or say hello.

3. If you had a choice of just one of these things to eat, what would it be and why?
Chocolate, a sweet pastry, a plate of chips/fries (this is not a forever choice, just one instance).

A sweet pastry would be lovely with a cup of tea.

4. If you could go back to when you were a specific age, what would that be? Why?

Twenty three when I first met my partner. That was a lovely age.

What would your answers be?

Wayne ✌🏽

FOTD – Common Borage

Happy Friday everyone. I spotted this flower in the Botanic Gardens Belfast and I loved its uniqueness. I have never seen this particular species before. I love the colour and find it a very uplifting flower. Have you ever seen a common borage?

Also known as beeplant or starflower. The edible leaves of common borage, said to have the fragrance and taste of cucumbers, are often used to make salads, soup, and sauces. Its blue, star-like flowers can also be used as an attractive drink garnish and as an ingredient in some gins (Picture This, 2022).

Wayne ✌🏽

Doors of WordPress V25 🎃

Happy Thursday everyone. As it was Halloween this week and we are still in Autumn/Fall, I thought I would try to share my most autumnal and spooky doors. Let me know what you think and if you have a favourite.

1 – The Gatekeeper’s Inn

2 – Banbridge

3 – Hillsborough Castle

4 – Elmwood Avenue

5 – Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park

I hope you all had a lovely Halloween if you celebrate at all. I was driving in the evening so I missed it all. I did manage to see a few fireworks in the sky though which was nice.

Wayne ✌🏽

Fandango’s Provocative Question #188

Welcome once again to Fandango’s Provocative Question. Each week I will pose what I think is a provocative question for your consideration. By …

Fandango’s Provocative Question #188

I love this week’s edition as it’s simple and fun, thanks Fandango! Also I have just realised that you also used simple and fun to describe your question! Or maybe I subconsciously repeated them, who knows?!

Let’s have some fun this week. Or what I hope you’ll think is fun. My question is simple. It’s all about favorites. If you were asked to name your absolute favorite in each of the following categories, what would they be:

  • Song – Bitter Sweet Symphony by The Verve
  • Musical artist or group – Mumford & Sons
  • Book – Life of Pi
  • Author – RL Stine
  • Movie – Big Fish
  • Television show – Friends (Series 1-5)
  • Movie or TV actor (male & female) – Luke Evans and Julia Roberts
  • Stage play or musical – Chicago
  • Live concert – Eminem, surprisingly one of my favourite concerts I have been to.

Can you name any of your favourites too??

Wayne ✌🏽

Monday Musings – dark and gloomy

Oh what a dreary, dreary day. Window wipers wiping frantically and rain smashing to the ground.

Everything grey and melancholy.

Halloween today and eerie essences are encircling us. Not so much spooky, more Thérèse Desqueyroux. Dark and wet, I sip my coffee by the coffee shop window looking out to the puddles and grimaces on people’s faces.

Darkness begins to fall, autumn is laughing. It knows that winter is around the corner. The darkness is coming for a long, long stay, weeks that will lead into months.

Soon this will be a cosy period of time but for now, it’s pretty grim.

Are you a fan of cold, dark and wet evenings? I normally am but not today 😕.

Stay dry and warm my friends.

Wayne ✌🏽

Sunday Sunset – Bondi

The sunset I am sharing today is from 12 weeks ago in Bondi, Sydney. You don’t actually see the sunset but the colours that were on show were absolutely stunning. I haven’t seen anything quite like the colour changes here of the sky anywhere else, from yellow to orange and then pink to lilac. I was just standing in the middle of the road, outside our friend’s apartment, in complete awe, as were many other locals.

Beautiful Bondi

I hope you enjoy the colours and have had a lovely relaxing weekend.

Wayne ✌🏽

FOTD – Pot Marigold

Happy Friday everyone. It is another wet and wild day here in Northern Ireland. I may get used to this! Lucky we have some flowers in our garden that are pretty bright and cheery.

Pot Marigold – found in my parents garden. I love the bright orange colour and it’s perfect looking petals.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Wayne ✌🏽

Doors of WordPress V24

Hi everyone and a very happy Thursday to you all. The sun is shining here in Northern Ireland after some horrendous stormy weather yesterday. I have been pretty quiet here in the blogging realm for a few weeks due to some family circumstances but I thought today would be as good a day as any to make a return, plus I love creating doors posts on a Thursday so it’s perfect timing.

I hope you have all been keeping well and adjusting to these seasonal changes wherever in the world you might be. I have been trying to keep an eye on other people’s blogs, as a means to stay in tune with what’s happening here but also for some light reading as a welcome distraction.

I hope you enjoy my selection of local doors from around Northern Ireland and please let me know if you have a favourite.

1 – Finaghy

2 – Carnlough

3 – Glenann

4 – Malone Road, South Belfast

5 – Banbridge

My personal favourite is number five. I love the colour of the door, the glass panels on either side, the arch around the door, the wreath on the door, I could go on and on and on. I just love this one. How about you?

Thanks so much for reading and taking a look.

All the best,

Wayne ✌🏽

Share your World – 05/09/22

Happy Monday everyone. It’s been a little while since I have answered questions from Melanie’s Share your World. I see Di has taken over for now and thought the questions this week were right up my street. You can check out the link here https://pensitivity101.wordpress.com/2022/09/05/share-your-world-5th-september/ and I have the questions for this week below.

1. Do you prefer tea, coffee or juice first thing in the morning?

I always have a coffee first thing in the morning. It’s not that I need to have it as there’s been a few times I couldn’t obtain one before work and was totally fine without it (much to my surprise) but I do love a coffee in the morning. For the rest of the day I can drink tea until it comes out of my ears!

2. When it comes to food, what is your favourite smell?

Always the smell of freshly baked bread, especially German bread.

3. Do you prefer a take-out or to dine in a restaurant?

Dine in a restaurant. I love to eat out and try different places. I find take-out is often disappointing and I could probably do better myself.

4. If you are hosting a party, do you prepare the food yourself, get caterers in or ask everyone to bring something for the table?

I normally prepare food myself for others as we don’t often have large parties, just a couple of people. I do like the idea of everyone bringing a plate to share and this is very popular in Australia where I first learned of this.

Gratitude: What has been the highlight of your week this week?

As it’s only Monday morning here, I would say my highlight so far was the gym this morning and just completing my working from home for the week 😊

Thank you Di for the questions and I look forward to reading other people’s replies.

Wayne ✌🏽

Doors of WordPress V23

Happy Thursday everyone and welcome to another Doors of WordPress. This week I thought I would show case some more doors from Sydney, as it has now been two weeks since we left and it is never far from my mind.

1 – Woollahra
2 – Woollahra
3 – Paddington
4 – Bondi Junction
5 – Paddington

I think my favourite is number five. I love the colours, the panelling and the design on the windows. Do you have a favourite this week?

Ps. I have started compressing my photos and have seen a huge difference in my storage already. Thank you everyone for your help and advice.

Wayne ✌🏽

WordPress Storage?!

Happy Monday everyone! The start of a new week and I’m just having a look at my blog memory. I have noticed that I have used 80% of my storage, presumably on images as I do tend to upload a lot of these. Does anyone here in the blogosphere know what happens when you run out of storage? Do you have to pay for more or is it best to delete some of my older images?

I already pay quite a bit for a yearly subscription for a personal plan and I have 6G of storage, so I don’t really want to pay any more. However, I am worried about deleting images as that may affect my previous blog posts. If you remove the images from the media library, does that remove them also from your blog posts?

There are quite a few questions there but if anyone has any advice, it would be greatly appreciated. Otherwise, I can contact the engineers and see what solutions they can offer.

Many thanks and have a great week.

Wayne ✌🏽

Bali 🍃

After our New Zealand holiday, we had another trip up our sleeves before heading home to Northern Ireland. Initially we were planning on Tasmania, however, New Zealand was freezing and Tasmania would be freezing too at this time of year. So we decided to cancel Tasmania and head somewhere hot. Bali had never really been on my agenda but it’s pretty close to Australia and a popular tourist destination. After some research online and speaking with friends, we settled on two locations to try, simply to break up the trip and have two different experiences. We opted for Ubud for the scenery and peacefulness, contrasting with Seminyak for the beaches and tourist vibe.

This was to be a relaxing holiday, lying by the pool and absorbing some much needed vitamin D. Normally I really dislike these types of holidays but I was fine on this occasion as we had just travelled quite a bit and packed up our whole life. Rest and relaxation was most definitely welcomed.

Arriving into Bali was a lengthy process with four different queues needing to be passed. Covid screening, obtaining and paying for your visa ($100 AU), immigration and declarations. I’m not going to lie, this was tough going after a long flight from Australia and we arrived late at night. By the time we passed immigration etc it was 12pm. Luckily we had pre booked a taxi and he was very kind to wait for us as we had another one hour drive to our hotel in Ubud. I felt so bad for the driver but he reassured me that this is the norm.

UBUD

Element Bali Ubud – this was our hotel in Ubud for 4 nights and to be honest, it was the highlight of the holiday. We are absolutely amazed by this hotel and how fantastic it was. The staff were unbelievably friendly and accommodating, everything was so clean, the food drinks were delicious, the location to town was pretty good and we loved the amenities. We used the spa, the gym and the pool and were so pleased with them all. I would definitely recommend staying here if you ever come to Ubud. You can check it out here for yourselves.

Things to see in Ubud : We hired a taxi to take us around the key sites of interest that we had been researching. The Monkey Temple is a huge tourist attraction but we don’t really have a love for monkeys so we avoided that one.

1 – Seeing the rice fields. This was great to see how the farmers work the fields and grow their best prized crop.

2 – Tirta Empul Temple. A very busy temple for locals and tourists alike. This was built around a bubbling spring and is a fascinating place to see Hindu devotees purifying themselves by ways of ritual bathing.

3 – Sampling the Luwak coffee. This coffee is famous for its unusual methods of creation. The Luwak animal is a cat like creature that feeds on Luwak coffee beans (among other things). When they excrete the beans, the outer shell is removed to expose the inner bean, which in turn is used to make coffee. Seen as a delicacy, this was an honour to taste, alongside some really different and unusual tea and coffee varieties, such as avocado coffee and lemongrass tea.

4 – Saraswati Temple. This just looked amazing online so we really wanted to visit. It can be found in the heart of Ubud centre and was built to honour Saraswati, the Goddess of knowledge, music, art, wisdom and learning.

5 – Dinner at Chora. I found this restaurant on Instagram (the benefits of social media) and thought it looked interesting. It was fab! Great healthy food with a Mediterranean influence, fantastic service and a truly serene experience.

SEMINYAK

Aloft Bali Seminyak – We loved this hotel and it had such a great location. It’s a good distance from the town but you are in a quieter location and very close to the beaches. We would walk 5 minutes to the beach and then walk along for about 30 minutes to reach Seminyak town. The rooftop pool and bar was lovely with stunning ocean views, the hotel served up some great food and drinks, plus the staff again were so, so friendly here.

To be honest we didn’t do many tourist things here in Seminyak and we were happy just to relax. Also, I did have a case of Bali belly during the trip (a common occurrence here for Westerners with sensitive stomachs), I think from the water, so I was out of action for a couple of days with pretty bad stomach cramps. However, I can show you a few places that we enjoyed eating in when I felt better, asides from the hotel where the food was really delicious.

1 – Shelter Restaurant. Shelter is a contemporary Middle Eastern and Mediterranean restaurant located in the central part of beautiful Pererenan. The food was absolutely stunning and the service was exceptional. There was a great tropical vibe and the musical really set the scene, even the bathrooms were impressive. This was our favourite place to eat from the whole trip (maybe as it was also my birthday).

2 – Da Maria. This was a fantastic Italian restaurant actually on the same street as our hotel. It’s great when you can walk to the venue and we had heard great things about this place. Food was lovely and there is a real buzz in this place.

3 – Potato Head Bali Beach Club. This is a really cool place if you want to come and chill out for the day. We loved the food here also and it was just a short walk from our hotel via the beach before you get to Seminyak Village.

One thing you do have to do in Seminyak is watch the sunset from the beach. You can be anywhere on the beach but we found the sunset to be popular near our hotel. The actual beach is called Pantai Batu Belig. People come to just sit on the beach and take it all in, it actually reminded me of Ibiza sunsets.

That’s a wrap on my Bali trip. It’s a beautiful place with the most gorgeous people. This was a great trip for rest and relaxation before heading home to Northern Ireland. Follow my journey home and I aim to highlight the numerous places NI has to offer.

Thanks for taking a look at this Bali blog post and have a great week everyone.

Wayne ✌🏽

Doors of WordPress V21

Happy Thursday everyone and welcome to my latest edition of Doors of WordPress. This week I want to show you some doors that I discovered last week on my holiday in Bali. I will also be completing my Bali blog and hopefully have that up in a few days. I arrived in Northern Ireland three days ago and am enjoying catching up with family and becoming acquainted to the local area but I will continue to blog whenever I have free time.

1 – Element Hotel Ubud
2 – Ubud city centre
3 – Taman Ayun Temple
4 – Saraswati Temple Ubud
5 – Kerobokan Kelod

You may or may not know but Bali is a Hindu island that is part of Indonesia which is predominantly Muslim. Therefore, you can see many, many temples in Bali where the people can practice Hinduism. I really admire the temples and their architecture, some of them are absolutely stunning with such intrinsic detail. Do you have a favourite door this week?

I hope you are all keeping well.

Wayne ✌🏽

WordPress Monthly Word Prompt – TRANSITION

Two things spring to mind when I see this prompt. Firstly, the image says Week of August 8 which makes me think the monthly word prompt is now weekly!? I asked WordPress about this and they stated that they are trialling more frequent word prompts. Fair enough and I think it’s a good idea, especially if you are maybe struggling to think of a blog topic.

Secondly the word prompt featured is transition which jumps out at me as I feel this is personally very appropriate at this time. I am making a huge life transition in the coming days. As many of you know already, I have been travelling a lot over the past few weeks and next week I will be heading to Northern Ireland after three years of not being able to visit home. I have packed up all my belongings and moving across the world to finally reunite with my family and friends. Whether I stay there or return to Australia remains to be seen but for now I will be concentrating on catching up with loved ones and reacquainting myself with life in Northern Ireland.

I will be keeping you all updated and sharing plenty more on my blog as the next chapter of my life commences, hopefully showcasing the best places see in Northern Ireland, Ireland and even Europe. I would like to say thank you all for your continued support and for creating such an amazing blogging environment here on WordPress.

Take care and enjoy your weekend.

Wayne ✌🏽

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 ✌🏽

Sunday Sunset – Ubud

Watching the sunset from our hotel in Ubud during the week. The glass walkway was stunning and really adds to the image. We couldn’t really see below as it was dark but the sunset was truly magical. This hotel Element Bali Ubud was out of this world and I will write more about that in my future Bali blog 🍃.

I hope you’re all having a lovely weekend.

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 ✌🏽

Doors of WordPress V19

Happy Thursday everyone and welcome to yet another weekly post featuring some more of my favourite doors. This week’s edition follows on from last week’s doors in New Zealand. I have some more to show case from this amazing country and next week I have some extra special doors to show you as it will be my twentieth edition of Doors of WordPress! Let me know if you have a favourite door this week 😊.

1 – Arrowtown
2 – Arrowtown
3 – Rotorua
4 – Auckland
5 – Christchurch

Thanks for taking a look and stay tuned for next week’s special edition!!

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 ✌🏽

Sunday Sunset – Muriwai Beach

Stunning sunset on the black sand beach at Muriwai, Auckland 🌅

I hope you’re all having the best weekend. My blog posts will be up for NZ over the next few days all being well 😊.

Wayne ✌🏽

FOTD – Silk Tassel

Silk Tassel Bush is a flowering evergreen shrub and its flowers look like long silk tassels (hence the name). Seen here in Queenstown, New Zealand.

Have a great Friday everyone. We’re loving Queenstown and can’t wait to share some blog posts soon.

Take care,

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 ✌🏽

Northern Ireland VS Australia

Having looked at the pros and cons for Australia in my previous post, let me take you through my pros and cons for living in Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland Pros :

Family & friends. My absolute number one reason for moving home is seeing my family and friends and making more memories. Covid has given me a new appreciation for spending time with loved ones, especially as we haven’t seen them in person for over three years.

The Scenery. Northern Ireland is very green and scenic. It has lots to offer in terms of sightseeing, for example, the north coast. Also I plan to visit more of Ireland as a whole and explore what is on my own doorstep.

Europe. Northern Ireland may have left Europe (unwillingly) but we are still situated in the European continent. This means we can travel pretty much anywhere in Europe quickly and relatively cheaply, as opposed to when living in Australia. It really is amazing to have Europe in your back yard and I plan to take advantage and make the most of travelling to places in Europe in the future.

No natural disasters. Yes the weather in Northern Ireland can be horrendous, being wet and cold almost all of the year but at least we don’t suffer the extremities such as fires, floods, earthquakes and volcanoes etc.

The NHS. Yes the National Health Service has its fair share of problems but it is still a free health service (I know we pay through our taxes) and a pretty good one, most of the time, especially in Northern Ireland. To receive free health care for everyone is fantastic and I actually really loved working for the NHS.

The Craic. In our country, this term means fun and good times. It can also mean sense of humour. People in Northern Ireland are great fun and have the best craic. They are also very friendly and hospitable people.

The bright nights. In Northern Ireland it can stay bright until 11pm at night in the summer months. I took this for granted until I moved to Australia, where it never stays light past 6 or 7pm.

Northern Ireland Cons :

The Weather. Unfortunately this has to be top of my list. The weather is pretty horrendous in Northern Ireland for a really long part of the year. From end of September until about April, it will be really cold with good chances of rain, sleet, snow and hail. They even had snow in June this year! We do have the odd good day now and again. Unfortunately we do have the most beautiful scenery but it is all weather dependent.

Spides & Millbags. Yes most of the people in Northern Ireland are extremely friendly but we do have a minority of people known as spides and millbags. These are people who can be described as being small minded, brash, loud, still argue about religion, never leave Northern Ireland and have the worst dress sense. I, for one, do not miss these people. I’m sure every country has their fair share of people like this but in Northern Ireland, they’re a breed of their own. Most of the time you can avoid them but now and again they will leave their homes and make an appearance into your safe little world.

Religion. Northern Ireland, sadly is still stuck in the past with regards to religion. You have Protestants and Catholics (both a Christian religion 🤷🏼‍♂️) still arguing about Northern Ireland and whether it should belong to Ireland or belong to the United Kingdom. I actually think it’s not even about religion anymore but more about territory. Thankfully, these people are in the minority and I don’t personally know many people who still think like this but they do still exist in Northern Ireland. Thanks to immigration these people are being diluted and the country is moving forward, albeit at a snails pace.

The dark mornings and nights. Just like the cold and wet weather, Northern Ireland is also pretty dark for a lot of the year. You will go to work in the dark and return home in the dark. This is pretty grim to be honest. Due to this, many things do not open early, for example, it’s nearly impossible to obtain a coffee before 9am. I think I will struggle with this since living in Bondi where you can grab a coffee as early as 5.30 am.

The Government. I don’t like talking about politics so I will just say that our government is pretty basic. They argue with each other and when one party can’t agree with another party, they just stop working altogether. They actually still get paid even though the government stops working. They take whatever rules they want from the UK and if they don’t like them, they will change them to suit their own religious agenda and beliefs.

Even writing about religion and the government in Northern Ireland makes me cranky. On the whole, Northern Ireland is a great country with lots of character and interesting people. I love being from Northern Ireland as I can have dual nationality, meaning we can carry an Irish and British passport. Northern Ireland is a unique country with lots of potential. We are really upping our game in terms of attractions, bars, restaurants, hotels and even media (think Game of Thrones). I honestly hope you all have the opportunity to visit Northern Ireland one day.

Thanks for reading my part two blog post on the pros and cons of both Australia and Northern Ireland. Do you agree or disagree with any of my points? Have you ever been to these countries or want to visit in the future?

Take care,

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 ✌🏽

Gym Junkie…who me?!

Never in a million years did I think I would become a lover of the gym. Yes I have been many times in my life but never on a regular basis. I always thought, maybe if I can stick it out with the gym for a few months, I will somehow get the gym bug…and guess what… I certainly did. It actually works. I had heard if you do something every day for 30 days, you can become devoted to that something. When I joined my gym Signature Fitness here in Bondi Junction, it was for a 30 day challenge. There were lots of us that joined together and we were participating in small group classes, working out in a combination of strength training and conditioning/sweat/high intensity training classes. I loved the classes from day 1 and I think when I started to see results, that became my drive to keep going. Always being a skinny guy, I was delighted to see results, even after a few weeks. Not huge results to anyone else but for me, it was impeccable.

Why did I love this gym so much? I think the fact that there is a coach telling us what to do in every single class. This was unbelievably beneficial for me as I almost didn’t have to think, just do what I was being shown. You didn’t have to worry about being bored either and thinking “what will I do today?”.

The coach would go through the programme with us and show us how to perform each exercise. If we weren’t doing the manoeuvre correctly, the coach would teach us the correct method so that we were getting the most out of the exercise and also not injuring ourselves. Furthermore, the fact that we had to book in online for every class, almost meant that we HAD to attend, so missing a class was not an option for me. I liked that accountability factor and that feeling of “you can’t back out now!”.

I loved and still love the small group training classes. There are just the right amount of people in the class so as not to intimidate but also the right amount to be able to converse and make friends. Every class could differ. You could have 10 people in the busiest class or just 2 people in a quieter class. If you were lucky/unlucky you could even end up with a PT session (lucky as you have the sole attention of the PT but also unlucky as you would have nowhere to hide!).

This gym is a safe space for learning and growing. There are no intimidating characters i.e. “muscle marys” taking over the weights section and there are no mirrors so there is no time for posing and hogging of the equipment. Everyone is extremely friendly, supportive and encouraging, constantly pushing each other to be the best versions of themselves. There is also some friendly competition, especially when we have the conditioning/sweat/high intensity classes 😅.

You meet the best characters, in this gym especially. I have made some amazing life long friends, who not only enriched my gym experiences but also had a huge impact on my social life and employment opportunities. I would say most of us love to come to the gym to train obviously but also to see our friends, catch up with each other and have a laugh whilst being in a “relaxed” environment, albeit extremely sweaty and red faced 🥵.

Other benefits of joining this gym are:

– weekly body fat scans

– monthly programme changes (great for changing things up and challenging your body)

– nutritional advice

– health education and training

– weekly check-ins with your own assigned coach

– challenges that can include the whole gym and help keep you motivated and accountable

– social events (great to see other members NOT in their gym gear and just fun to catch up outside of the gym setting and let your hair down.

I loved the gym for all these reasons. I can’t even put into words how much this gym has changed my life for the better. Not only do I feel better physically but also mentally, socially and psychologically. Sometimes I look at my progress pictures and can’t always see a big difference but the confidence in myself has grown tenfold. I wouldn’t have taken my top off easily in the past without fear and worry of judgement but now I really couldn’t care and I am much more confident in myself and proud of my achievements.

2018 VS 2022 – not sure if there’s a huge difference but I think my face says it all. I definitely feel more confident.

Don’t be afraid to join a gym, we all have to start somewhere and you honestly will feel so much better for it. You never regret a workout!! If you live in Bondi or nearby, be sure to check out Signature Fitness. I have tried many gyms in the past and have never found one as good as this one 😊.

Thanks for taking the time to read. I just wanted to share my gym experience with you all.

Wayne ✌🏽

#gymjunkie #tuesdaythoughts

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 ✌🏽

Two Hundredth Post!

This week I hit a HUGE milestone for me. I cannot believe I have made it to 200 posts. I have to admit, my blogging journey was a slow burner but it has really ramped up in the past year. I actually have covid to thank for that.

Initially I was blogging about my travels, so I was only blogging once a month or every few months. When covid hit, we could no longer travel and I suddenly realised I had nothing to blog about. I had to have a think and revamp my ideology of what blogging means to me.

Covid opened my eyes in terms of blogging. Although I wasn’t travelling any more, I realised there was so much more that I could blog about. I have a lot to say and I really wanted to make an effort connecting with other bloggers. I started to blog about things that were happening in my life and also began participating in blogging prompts. When I took part in Bloganuary, my desire to blog and connect with others grew tenfold. I loved having something to write about and share more of my personality. I met so many other bloggers and loved the connection you could make with complete strangers. I soon started to participate in other blogging prompts and still do to this day. I have many bloggers here to thank for that.

I would like to share with you a few bloggers that continue to inspire and encourage my blogging journey 😊 –

https://renardsworld.wordpress.com

https://ceenphotography.com

https://hughsviewsandnews.com

https://sparksfromacombustiblemind.wordpress.com

https://nofacilities.com

https://fivedotoh.com

https://lifesfinewhine.ca

https://beetleypete.com

The people you meet here in the blogosphere are amazing. You realise you share many of the same experiences and beliefs and appreciate so much that there IS a space for you in the blogging world. You also have the opportunity to meet others from different backgrounds and cultures and can learn a huge amount, therefore, growing as a person of the world.

I just want to say thank you to my followers and to those I follow and inspire me every day. This honestly is such a great space and I really look forward to growing, learning and sharing more of what life has in store for me.

All the best wishes,

Wayne ✌🏽

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