FOTD – Crimson Bottlebrush

What an amazing looking flower. My partner and I thought this looked like one of those bottle brushes you see mothers having to clean their babies’ bottles with. When we found out their name, we thought it was very amusing. The crimson bottlebrush is native to Australia and is very popular with birds for its nectar, specifically lorikeets, which we see here in Sydney all the time.

Thanks for taking a look at my flower of the day and I hope you all have a very happy Friday!

Wayne ✌🏽

Sunday Sunset – Sydney airport

An epic sunset at Sydney airport at the beginning of the year. We just arrived back from our trip to Uluru. I have a feeling I will be seeing this airport a lot in the coming months as my travel plans ramp up! 😉

I hope you are all having a lovely weekend. Enjoy your Sunday everyone.

Wayne ✌🏽

Doors of WordPress V8

As it’s Thursday Doors today, courtesy of No Facilities, here are my latest offerings of doors from my neighbourhood and beyond. Please let me know which ones are your favourites. Check out my doors below 👇🏼

1 – Darlinghurst, Sydney
St Kilda, Melbourne
3 – Hunter Valley, NSW
4 – Portrush, Northern Ireland
5 – Paddington, Sydney

I find it hard to choose a favourite as I like them all for different reasons. I am watching the tv series Cheers from start to finish at the moment, so for that reason, I will say the door from Northern Ireland as it has the Cheers logo 😉.

Thanks again for checking out my doors this Thursday.

Wayne ✌🏽

Doors of WordPress V4

My fourth instalment is here, featuring doors found in and around Sydney. These posts are creating a door monster within me! Now every time I see a door that I like, I have to photograph it. I just hope the person behind the door doesn’t mind. If ever questioned, I will explain my love for doors and inform them that they are part of my blog post. That is quite the achievement to be featured 🤣 (jokes). I hope you enjoy my selection of doors this week 👇🏼

The Butler Restaurant- Potts Point
Dry Cleaners – Bondi Junction
The Flower House – Surry Hills
Graffiti Door – Surry Hills
Double Doors – Randwick

Thanks for taking a look!

Enjoy your Thursday everyone,

Wayne ✌🏽

Sir Joseph Banks Park

If you’re looking to check out somewhere different near Sydney, then this could be your next stop. Situated near Botany, this park has it all, including a walking trail, a sports oval, themed gardens and ornamental animals, a maze, shaded walkways and picnic benches dotted around the park.

If you’re intrigued to know who Sir Joseph Banks was click here.
The tiger pen…you wouldn’t get this close if they were real 😝
Beautiful sculptures
Stunning scenery along the water

This park is a lovely way to spend a couple of hours on a sunny morning/afternoon. It’s always a blessing to find a new spot to discover and explore.

Thanks for taking a look with me,

Wayne ✌🏽

FLOWER(S) OF THE DAY CHALLENGE (FOTD)

Cee from Cee’s Photo Challenges has a Flower of the Day challenge. You can check it out here. I thought this would be a fun post to show some of my flowers as I have quite a lot on my camera roll. They just aren’t popular on my Instagram feed for some reason, therefore, they are rarely seen. I’m delighted to show them off here on my blog. A big thank you to Cee for creating this challenge 🙏🏼.

Tulips from the Walled Garden at Glenarm Castle, Northern Ireland
Orange Coneflower, Swords Village, Ireland
Montbretia, Cremorne Reserve, Sydney
Guarianthe skinneri, Fiji
Fire-star Orchid, Fiji
Bird of Paradise, Sydney
Daffodils from Queen’s University Belfast

Thanks for having a look. All photos taken by me. I have so many more if this post becomes popular enough 🤣.

Wayne ✌🏽

Doors of WordPress V1

I have wanted to create this post for some time as I have a real love for doors, as strange as that may sound. I really like anything quaint, so if I see a door remotely quaint, I cannot help but admire it. I thought I would do a blog series showcasing doors in and around Sydney, just a few at a time. Whenever I see a door worth showcasing, I will add it to my list of Doors of WordPress. I may even display doors from other parts of the country or even other countries too. Please let me know what you think ☺️. I have numbered them and added their general location.

Ps. I have realised that it may not even be the door that I love but it could also be the entrance or even the building.

1 – Hunter Valley
2 – Surry Hills
3 – North Bondi
4 – Paddington
5 – Taylor Square (open door 😉)

Thanks for checking out my doors and please let me know which was your favourite?!

Wayne ✌🏽

Pps. I have just been informed by other amazing bloggers that there are others writing posts about doors and buildings. I am so excited to see these and join the doors community ☺️. Join me in checking out the below sites.

https://nofacilities.com/2022/02/17/buckingham-square-district/

https://ceenphotography.com/2022/02/15/cffc-buildings/

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 – Field of Light

This light show, created by Bruce Munro is a feast for the eyes!!! I had heard about this from my barber who had said how amazing this is. I looked it up online and knew that I had to see it for myself. It is a light show, made up of 50,000 glass lights, that lights up a massive area the size of more than seven football fields. With Uluru in the distance and as the sun rises, the lights create a real spectacle that is something truly out of this world. It has to be seen in the dark for obvious reasons but it is absolutely worth the 4.30 am wake up call. We booked this as a tour that also included a sun rise tour that will be featured in my next blog post. Please enjoy my photos below taken from this truly magnificent experience.

Photo taken before we entered the Field of Light

Please let me know what you think?

Wayne ✌🏽

Uluru – Sacred Sites & Sunset Tour

We had already booked a sunset tour but we really wanted to get up close and personal to Uluru. We had initially booked to have a BBQ after the sunset with some interesting bush tucker but sadly for us the weather had been pretty wet the week before (great for the National Park as rain doesn’t happen too often). Therefore, the BBQ had to be cancelled as they could not have it due to the area being saturated. This actually worked out well as we could then swap our BBQ for a day tour of the scared sites at Uluru. This enabled us to see Uluru up close and learn about its history. It’s one thing to see Uluru from afar but when you have the chance to touch the sacred rock formation, it was a welcome addition.

We booked our tour with AAT Kings and it offered a walking tour guide of Uluru and a sunset experience with drinks and nibbles. I have to say the tour was really good but for us, having the chance to simply see and touch Uluru from up close was the main event. You really do feel how majestic Uluru is and you can’t help but become engrossed in your surroundings.

We were delighted to able to touch Uluru
Mutitjulu Waterhole – this is a really special location and is one of the few permanent water sources around Uluru. This is a beautiful spot to sit and appreciate the peace and tranquillity.
We stopped here to see where tourists used to start the climb of Uluru. It’s hard to believe this was only stopped three years ago. Now we know how insensitive it was to climb this sacred site.

After seeing Uluru up close, it was time to head out and see the views from afar. This way you can really see how the light changes when it hits Uluru as the sun sets.

Sunset here is pretty special ☺️
Cheers to life 🧡
Every second spent here changes when the sun starts to set. The colour changes are impeccable. This was lovely to watch, whilst having some wine, cheese, dips and crackers.

As the sun was setting, local Indigenous people sit nearby displaying their incredible art work, hoping to sell a piece. They were all outstanding creations of art and we had to buy one. Such an amazing location to buy local art and support the local community.

This was honestly such an unbelievable experience seeing Uluru up close and at sunset. It’s difficult to even put into words. I hope you all have this opportunity to visit Uluru but until then, I really hope you can enjoy the photos ☺️. 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 ✌🏽

Uluru – An introduction 🧡

Hey guys! I cannot wait to share this blog post with you about our very recent trip to Uluru. I have so many amazing pictures to share so I think I will create a short blog series, featuring this introduction and a post for each excursion that we managed to fit into our weekend. This is my first time creating a blog series for a place I have visited, so I think that speaks for itself how amazing I found this place ☺️.

I’m sure most of you have heard of Uluru, previously known as Ayers Rock, located in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. If not, you can find some really interesting information here. For me personally, I know it as one of the wonders of the world and appears as a huge rock in the middle of Australia. Situated in the desert, it is known to me for its amazing colour, stage presence, it’s spirituality and is one of the first things that comes to mind when I think of Australia. It can also be referred to as the spiritual heart of Australia 🧡. For me, this is a bucket list trip that I am so grateful for now being able to tick off my list. Previously people could walk on top of Uluru until people were informed that this is actually very disrespectful to the Aboriginal people. This is an immensely culturally significant place for them and has to be treated as such. Therefore, walking on Uluru was ceased, albeit only from 2019 surprisingly.

For some people, they simply think of Uluru as a giant rock formation in the desert, which it is. However, there is so much more to this feature. When you see it for yourself, you just cannot help but be in awe. It is absolutely mesmerising. You can feel a sense of spirit and connection to the land and the history of Uluru. The way in which the light can alter the appearance of Uluru from sunrise to sunset is astonishing and photographs simply do not even do it justice. It is fascinating to learn about the geography of Uluru and it’s connection to the Aboriginal people dating back to about 30,000 years ago!

It had been advised to me that three days would be enough time to see Uluru. I agree that you can carry out many activities in three days, however, I believe I could have easily stayed for another couple of days if time permitted. Just a heads up if you’re ever planning to visit. There were some other activities that I simply didn’t have time for or they were booked out as this was a very spontaneous trip for us. I will write about the activities that we were able to carry out, whilst also mentioning the couple that we didn’t have the chance to do, in case you have the opportunity to see them for yourselves.

Ok so I will begin with how we travelled to Uluru, where we stayed and a little information regarding the area. As Uluru is in the National Park, the town neighbouring the park is actually known as Yulara. Travelling to Yulara from Sydney is a 3.5 hour flight approximately.

View on arriving into Yulara. Sitting on the left side of the plane gives you an amazing first glimpse of Uluru.

Thankfully Yulara is a small enough place and everything is very close by. When arriving at the airport it is less than a ten minute drive to the main inhabited area with the accommodation and town. All transfers to your accommodation are free and there is a free shuttle bus driving around Yulara every 20 minutes which is pretty awesome. We stayed in Sails in the Desert simply because I had seen it on Instagram and it looked really beautiful. This was a great hotel, lovely room, great food and extremely friendly staff. We couldn’t have asked for more. Although the pool was closed for renovations, we could use the neighbouring hotel pool which was perfect. All of the hotels are running at a reduced capacity due to covid and people not travelling. Personally, I loved this as we had more space to roam around, we didn’t not have to queue for anything and there was great social distancing.

Sails in the Desert hotel
Hotel restaurant where we had an amazing buffet breakfast and the best fried eggs I have ever eaten!

The town has an amazing art gallery displaying all the local aboriginal art (seriously out of this world!) known as GOCA – Gallery of Central Australia and there are also talks from local Aboriginal people, discussing their history and ways of life. Yulara has a cafe, a supermarket and a couple of shops selling some amazing Aboriginal artwork and gifts. There is a local pub known as the Outback Pioneer. This is for visitors and the locals and is most definitely worth checking out. Just hop on the coach and you will be there in 15 minutes or so. The town of Yulara, albeit small, has a lot of character and is extremely welcoming.

Hello, thank you, goodbye and welcome – Palya ☺️
Gallery of Central Australia
Neighbouring pool
Town centre
Outback Pioneer

Stay tuned for my next post where we look at the different activities we managed to undertake, the first one – seeing Uluru by air.

Thanks for reading,

Wayne ✌🏽

Mudgee – a photo blog

I am excited to show you all a snippet of this wonderful place in NSW, Australia known as Mudgee. First of all, what a great name. It is an Aboriginal name meaning ‘nest in the hills’ which is very apt as it is geographically located within the Cudgegong River Valley.

The reason I have always wanted to visit Mudgee as I have heard that it’s the place to visit for wine tasting. I know we have Hunter Valley nearby (I have so many posts on this) but I was excited to try somewhere new and visit a more rural location. Mudgee, being further inland of NSW and a 3.5 hour drive from Sydney is the perfect getaway. I had heard that Mudgee has a lot of character and is extremely rustic and quaint. These traits are right up my street and boy did Mudgee deliver.

We were only there for a weekend so we didn’t have the chance to explore everything on offer. However, that just means we will have to return one day! I will show you where we stayed and the places we managed to check out, including 3 wineries. Also the people here! The people are amazing here and so, so friendly.

This is where we stayed. This is Perry Street Hotel, part of the Peppertree Hill Group. Gorgeous place to stay and very central location.
The kimonos were a lovely touch 👘

The architecture in Mudgee was fantastic. I love seeing the old style buildings and churches. It adds a bit of character to the place and showcases the history of the area.

Mudgee Town Hall
Mudgee memorial clock tower
⛪️
Regent Theatre 🎭
Even the solicitors office looks impressive

We booked a wine tour with Mudgee Wine Tours and we planned the half day tour. This offered three vineyards to visit and to be honest this was just the right amount. We have done a full day wine tour in the past and it’s a long day of drinking wine 🤪. Others on our tour were carrying out the full day and they were exhausted by the end. Our tour guide was with the most fabulous woman we could have met. Lindy was professional, personable, extremely friendly and honestly made the tour very memorable for all the right reasons. She would interact with the different vineyard staff also which was really lovely to see and to be honest this was a first for us. Most tour guides will simply wait outside and operate mostly as a driver for the day.

1 – Our first vineyard was Walter Wines. A lovely place to visit and we also had the most amazing pies here for lunch.
2 – Pieter Van Gent Winery – really delicious fortified wines with an exquisite interior featuring some awesome old church furnishings.
3 – Bunnamagoo Estate – beautiful area to sit outside
Too good not to purchase 😜

A couple of places where we had drinks and dinner. These are all popular spots in Mudgee and worth checking out.

Kelly’s Irish Pub (why do Irish people always have to find the Irish pubs?!)
Beers at Mudgee Brewing Co – the food was amazing here too
Delicious food at Cade Kitchen and Bar
Breakfast at Alby and Esthers – amazing outdoor space, feels like you’re eating in a secret garden.
Paragon Hotel – Our favourite pub just beside our hotel. Perfect for a wee night cap 😉

We loved walking around the town and even managed to stumble upon a pretty park just by the river.

Quaint stores
A lovely walk along the Cudgegong River.

We also took a ten minute drive outside Mudgee to visit Windamere Dam. It is really stunning and you can also visit on your way home from Mudgee as it’s on the route back to Sydney.

Thanks for checking out my Mudgee blog. I hope you liked the photos and maybe feel inspired to visit yourself one day. It is a truly wonderful place that I would happily visit again.

Wayne ✌🏽

Where do you see yourself five years from now? #FPQ

It’s funny but I used to really hate being asked this question in job interviews. How the heck would you know where you were going to be in five years?! Especially as a young person, as the idea of being in the same place five years later would literally terrify me.

Now this question has been posed by fellow blogger Fandango as his provocative question. You can see his post Here.

I feel like I have two realities that could be equally possible. Almost like a Sliding Doors scenario if anyone has seen that movie.

1 – I will still be living in Australia, working as a nurse and teacher but living further afield. I will move out of the big smoke to somewhere more rural, purchase an amazing property, have my own car and have a couple of dogs. I will be able to travel home to Northern Ireland once or twice a year as covid will no longer be an issue.

2 – I will be living at home in Northern Ireland. Covid is still an issue and we cannot travel to Australia as freely as before. I will have a similar life, working as a nurse, buying my own property, purchase my first car and have two dogs. I may be considering a career change as nursing travels deeper and deeper into the depths of despair with the NHS sinking (hopefully not). I will have lots of great times with family and friends, seeing them whenever I please. I will travel all around Ireland (albeit with my raincoat and umbrella) and will travel all over Europe (covid restrictions permitting if still exists).

To be honest, any one of these scenarios would be fine as long as I remain healthy and my loved ones stay safe and well 😊.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Thanks for reading,

Wayne ✌🏽

Australia Day thoughts?!

Australia celebrates its history today on 26 January yearly. I used to celebrate this day and loved it, mainly because it was a public holiday but also to celebrate this great country that is Australia.

2010 – celebrating Australia Day, not really knowing much about it’s past

However, the longer I am here in Australia, the more I learn about the history of this date and Australia’s tumultuous past.

The indigenous people of Australia know this date today as invasion day. The day that white people from England came and invaded Australia and so began the daily struggles for the indigenous people. It’s a really sad and disturbing past to be honest. So it kind of feels weird to be celebrating Australia on this day 😔.

Would it be better to change the date to one that everyone can celebrate Australia together? I know the past cannot be rewritten but maybe a date change would be less of a smack in the face for Australia’s first people. What’s your thoughts?

2020 – preferring to look at the history of Australia, this is one of the vintage bus rides from the 1940s, rather than celebrating

Wayne 🖤💛❤️

Bloganuary Day 20

I love this question. I love taking photographs with scenery, architecture or anything quaint. I love looking at photographs, I love taking photographs and I think I have a good eye for what subject would make a good photo, however, I’m not that clued into photography. I would love to be but it just flies over my head. I have a “proper” camera but quite often end up using my mobile phone as the IPhone 13 is pretty good at taking decent pictures.

This photograph is one of my favourites. I am a sucker for a good sunset and I like how this image showcases the sunset with a pelican just sitting in the foreground. I love the colour of the sky, the wispy clouds and the ocean at the bottom. This picture was taken in Ballina, NSW in 2020.

I can’t wait to see everyone’s favourite photo ever taken!

Cheers,

Wayne ✌🏽

Bloganuary Day 19

Where do I even start??? There are lots of things that are mysterious to me, that make me ponder. I would love to be able to write something fictional as this post screams fiction to me, however, in the real world there so many mysterious happenings that I do think about.

One that always baffles me and is extremely curious to me is the fact that I have never seen a cockroach in Ireland. Here in Australia we have millions upon millions. Even in the cleanest of homes, you will still be able to spot one. We have had more than our fair share over the years in our home, regularly having to place cockroach killer in spots around the house, mainly the kitchen. In a previous shared house we were inundated with cockroaches. In the middle of the night, the floor would move in the kitchen. You open the cutlery drawer and they can be seen scuttling everywhere. They even lived in the microwave timer screen so we could see them as the minutes on the clock descended. You dare not leave food on the table and turn your back, even for a second or they would be having a field day in your next meal.

Yet, I have never seen them at home in Northern Ireland. I would tell people here in Australia that we don’t have cockroaches as the weather is too cold. No one can believe it here. They are gobsmacked, “you must have cockroaches” they say. Well I don’t think we do, I have never seen them. Carrying out some quick internet googling, apparently we do have some but where are they? Maybe they never come out of the woodwork to see us humans. Other websites say you will never find them in Ireland or the UK 🤷🏼‍♂️.

So this folks is a real mystery to me. Have you ever seen a cockroach in Northern Ireland, Ireland or the UK?? What about even colder countries again like in Scandinavia or warmer countries in Europe? Are there any cockroaches where you live?

I would be intrigued to hear your answer.

Many thanks,

Wayne ✌🏽

Bloganuary Day 16

It’s funny that this is today’s topic as I was just thinking about the cause that I am passionate about this morning.

I was asked three years ago by a company here in Australia to help promote checking your skin for moles and showcasing the importance of monitoring for any changes in your moles.

This hit home for me as I have a few prominent moles on my back and had a couple removed a few years ago due to always becoming caught on things and causing discomfort.

I have my skin checked every couple of years just to be sure all is ok. I learned that it’s even the small moles that you have to worry about, the ones that you can barely even see. I learned to check my skin regularly, protect your skin with sun cream (I use factor 50 here in Australia) and try avoid the sun at peak times.

The company that I help to promote (in a small way) is called Game on Mole. They do amazing work for skin awareness and offer a lot of useful tips for monitoring your moles. They have many influential people to help promote their ideology and spread their message here in Australia, with many telling their own stories about personal battles with melanoma. You can check out Game on Mole here and also some information from the Cancer Council here that offers some really useful information.

I feel that this is such a worthy cause, not just here in Australia but worldwide. I have people I know that have had minor surgeries to remove cancerous skin cells, not just here but also from back home in the UK.

A family member just messaged me this morning to say they just had their skin checked due to seeing my post on social media. I love how we can spread awareness in even the smallest of ways.

Thanks for reading everyone and remember to wear sunscreen 😉

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 ✌🏽

Bloganuary Day 10

I love today’s topic. It’s good to reflect and remember to be grateful for things happening in our lives. Too often we become caught up in our busy daily lives and forget to be thankful for the positive things around us that we often take for granted.

1 – As corny as it sounds, I am firstly grateful to waken up, alive and healthy. Not everyone has this luxury.

2 – Being away this weekend in Mudgee with my amazing partner as we celebrate 15 years together.

3 – I’m grateful that I had a great sleep last night, 8.5 hours to be exact. If I have 7 hours sleep at night, I am doing really well. So to wake up and check my Fitbit that read 8.5 hours sleep, I was delighted.

4 – Grateful to have no rain this morning. It is supposed to be stormy all week, so to waken with no rain and blue skies on the horizon, that makes me really happy.

5 – Thankful for a lovely breakfast this morning and having a walk around Mudgee. It’s a really quaint little town with lots of character. I will be creating a blog of this town very soon.

Mudgee, NSW

I cannot wait to hear what everyone else is grateful for today 🙏🏼.

Take care and stay safe,

Wayne ☺️

Merry Christmas everyone 🎅🏽

I hope all my blogger and WordPress friends are having a lovely festive holiday period. Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, it’s a nice time to meet up with friends and family and have a well deserved break.

Enjoy your time off, wherever you are in the world. Hopefully everyone stays safe and can avoid covid. It’s a challenge these days to avoid coronavirus and escape having to get a covid swab, having to isolate and missing the festivities 🙈. I know a few people who have tested positive and unfortunately have to isolate over Christmas 🥲.

It’s still a little strange for us in Australia as it’s summer time here. As much as I really love the heat and being poolside, you can’t help but miss the cold back home, games with the family, cosy by a roaring fire and a pint of Guinness or cup of mulled wine.

Stay safe everyone and I hope you have a lovely time 🤗.

I can’t complain. The weather has been much better than anticipated. Staying at Peppers Estate in Kingscliff.

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 🍷.

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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.

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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 ✌🏽

Happy Sunday 🌺

The most epic tree I ever did see 😜 or is it a plant? Does anyone know what we call this fine specimen? I was honestly so delighted to have seen this today. It’s a really stunning tree (or plant). I think it also really stands out due to the white wall behind it. It’s the little things in life, am I right?! ☺️

Have a lovely Sunday everyone, wherever you are in the world.

Wayne ✌🏽

Ps. Post update: apparently this tree is in fact Bougainvillea. Confirmed by my WordPress and Instagram friends. Thanks everyone ☺️

NSW on a vaccine high ☺️

90% of people here in New South Wales are double vaccinated. I am so thrilled for everyone here for pulling together, listening to the health professionals and getting their shots. I know it hasn’t been easy with some people divided over having the vaccine. However, the fact that it has been made almost compulsory to have the vaccine has enabled us to be safer in our daily lives and get back to some sort of new normal.

I’m hoping things continue to improve for us here in Australia and for everyone around the world 😷.

Stay safe and sane everyone ✌🏽

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 🧙‍♂️

Sydney lockdown is officially over 🙏🏼

We made it guys! After 106 days we are now officially out of lockdown. Boy it feels good…but also a bit nerve wrecking. It’s so nice to have our freedom again, seeing people out and about, hustle and bustle everywhere. However, you can’t help but think, the virus is still out there. I’m still in favour of social distancing and trying to be as safe as possible. Although I’m double vaccinated, I’m still keen to avoid contracting coronavirus 😬.

People of Sydney, or anywhere in the world that has lived through a lockdown (I’m sure everyone has), what was the first thing you did when the lockdown was lifted???

For me, it was work as usual. Being a nurse, we didn’t have any time off during lockdown. Yes I am forever grateful to have been in employment and have some sort of normality. At least we could see our work colleagues and chat about the ever changing pandemic days whilst still earning an income. However, I’m sure I speak for many nurses, it would have been lovely to have a couple of weeks off at home. Not annual leave or being off sick but just days at home to chill out and reset. Alas it wasn’t meant to be and that’s ok.

Finishing work, it was really amazing to see people out on the streets, seeing people sitting through cafe windows enjoying their soy caps and shopping malls with shop doors finally opened again. There was a real buzz around Sydney today and it felt good, albeit a bit strange. The first thing I did was go to the gym. As much as I was slightly nervous, I couldn’t wait to get back to training and seeing friends. Finally I could lift a heavy weight again 🏋️‍♂️ and maybe feel the burn the next day 😅.

I hope you all enjoy the next few days/weeks of having no lockdown. What are you excited to do/see? I personally can not wait to be able to travel again ✈️.

Thanks for reading guys and stay safe 🙏🏼

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 ☺️

Lockdown 2.0

Hey everyone! I thought I would write a quick blog post without any photographs and just let the writing do the talking (so to speak). Seeing as we cannot travel yet again, this won’t be too difficult. I actually have no photos to showcase interesting places recently. We can’t even travel locally now as we have been in lockdown since Monday. I think everyone here, in Sydney at least, knew this day would come again.

With the vaccination rate being one of the lowest in the world, this was bound to happen. Covid cases have jumped dramatically from 1 known case. The only way to curb the increase is to go into another lockdown, maintain strict social distancing and wear a mask. Other essential things to practice include hand washing, coughing and sneezing into your elbow and wearing your mask correctly 🤦🏼‍♂️.

The number one thing people can do here in Australia is to become vaccinated. It hasn’t helped that the media has continually reported on the negative aspects of the vaccines, for example, the blood clot incidents from AstraZeneca. Scare mongering people and creating a fear of the vaccine. Every medicine/vaccine will have some side effects. The odds of receiving life threatening side effects are minimal (yes of course there is a risk with anything). If a person was not vaccinated, would said person have worse outcomes with receiving the virus itself? Who knows 🤷🏼‍♂️.

The lack of travel is understandable and of course we can live without it for a short time. The main thing is for everyone to be safe and healthy. My only concern is when will be return to some sort of normality? There are so many questions that cannot be answered as yet unfortunately. When we will be able to travel internationally to see our families? Will the Australian border be closed forever? Are the states in Australia more divided than ever before? Will we all be vaccinated this year?

Anyway. That’s my little rant 🤣. I hope everyone will abide by the rules, become vaccinated, stay safe and look after each other. This may get worse before it gets better. I am still forever grateful to be in the position we are in here in Australia and feel thankful to have a premier who has done good by NSW #gladys 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼

12 months and 12 photos (2020)

What a year it has been. I think most of us will be glad to see the back of 2020. Coronavirus has a lot to answer for…but it hasn’t been all bad. For me personally, it hasn’t been the worst year. It was sad not to be able to go home this year to see family and friends but thank goodness for the internet and learning to socialize online with video calls etc. Here is a look at my year with 12 photos for each month of 2020.

JANUARY

I was starting the new year on a high. We had just completed a cruise holiday for Christmas and I was feeling my best with my weight gain. I was at my heaviest here at 77kg. This was such an accomplishment for me and I was excited to see my progress continue with the gym and eating well.

FEBRUARY

It was AMAZING to have family here from Ireland. When friends and family come to Australia and love it like you do, it’s priceless 🥰

MARCH

The pandemic reached Australia and everyone went crazy for toilet roll. (I think this was world wide). We were in an 8 week lockdown and people were panic buying. It was insane, however, this was just the beginning.

APRIL

Celebrating the main man’s big birthday. We were in lockdown so all holiday plans were cancelled. However, we had a lovely party at home Mexican style 🇲🇽 🌵

MAY

All gyms are closed. Home workouts ensued. They were fun enough but I lost a lot of muscle mass. Sad times after all the work put in but at least I maintained my fitness and you ALWAYS feel better after a workout 🏋🏼‍♀️ 🤗

JUNE

Hooray! Our 8 week lockdown was over and restrictions started to ease. Pubs opened and we went for our 1st schooner in what seemed like an eternity.

JULY

Visiting Madame Tussauds was awesome. Healthcare workers were given free entry to some venues in Sydney and this was one of them. This was a nice touch! Hiya Oprah!

AUGUST

A little local holiday to Hunter Valley for my birthday. We feel really fortunate to have so many great places to travel to within our state.

SEPTEMBER

We’re still travelling local but Sydney never gets old. I love living in this city. To be confined here is not too shabby.

OCTOBER

Trying to see as much of NSW as possible, as that’s all where we can go. This is Ballina. Make sure to stop here before heading on to Byron Bay (see previous blog post).

NOVEMBER

And after being back to the gym for a few months, I am finally getting back to the shape I was in pre Covid. I honestly never thought it would take so long but hey ho, thankful to be in a position to even visit a gym these days.

DECEMBER

Back to Byron Bay for a 2nd time. Our Queensland trip was cancelled again (3rd time now, sooooo over it) but this was the best place to spend Christmas with close friends. Grateful for small mercies and staying healthy.

Happy New Year everyone! May 2021 be better for you than 2020.

Keep safe everyone,

Wayne ☺️

Malabar Headland National Park

If you are looking for an awesome way to spend your day off in Sydney then this is the place to visit. Many people have done the Bondi to Coogee walk but have you done the Coogee to Malabar walk via Maroubra? If that’s too long, you can catch the bus to Maroubra and walk from there to Malabar. The beginning of the National Park is only a 10 minute walk from Maroubra beach.

Maroubra Beach
Entering the Malabar Headland National Park

Malabar Headland National Park boasts dramatic coastal views and walks between Maroubra and Malabar beaches, in the east of Sydney. Follow the path within the National Park. There are many steps, areas of bushland and at times rocky terrain so my advice is to wear comfortable footwear. It takes about 20 minutes to reach Malabar Beach along the western section of the walk. The views on the route are incredible. The beach itself is quite small but has lots of character and is a really beautiful spot. From the beach you then follow the path along the eastern section of the park. This can be closed at times so be sure to check the opening times at https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/visit-a-park/parks/malabar-headland-national-park. The views on the return leg to Maroubra are stunning and you can often see whales here migrating from May to November on their annual migration route.

Honestly, this is one park you will want to check out. I had no idea it was there, a real hidden gem in the eastern suburbs that’s right on your Sydney doorstep.

All the best,

W 🙂

Travel during Covid

As you may or may not be aware, I havent written a blog post in quite some time. I mainly write about my travels and positive experiences in Australia, however, 2020 has been a very strange year so far. Australia had a rough ride at the end of 2019 and entering 2020 with the insane bush fires that were reported all over the world. This coupled with drought was very catastrophic for most of the country. Even here in Sydney the amount of smoke was crazy and pretty scary as you worry about your physical health with regards to breathing and being outdoors ( it was, at one stage, the worst air pollution in the world). You could feel it with every breath, even sitting in your home and sleeping at night. So dear help those who were living in the middle of it all and the poor animals who lost their lives.

This was then followed by severe flooding, which crazily enough, initially made putting the fires out even harder. So when the fires, finally, after many months began to be contained and controlled, people here believed the worst to be over. Enter the coronovirus.

This needs no explaining, as every country in the world and every person is being affected in some way or another. Thankfully, Australia has been doing really well up to this point and long may it continue. I have just been grateful to still have a job and maintain some sort of normality. I think the fact that we can’t travel is the least of anyone’s worries. Everyone just wants to be healthy, both physically and mentally, ensure safety of our loved ones and come out of this covid situation being able to have a new way of normal life.

As we begin to ease out of lockdown here, we begin to live our lives in a new era of social distancing and strict infection control measures. We may not be able to travel internationally here, however, I am extremely grateful that we are now in a situation where we can travel locally and soon to be inter state. For us, it provides the opportunity to see more of Australia, as will be for most people here and in turn will help the economy and the tourist industry. Therefore, I will be continuing to write about day trips to make in and around Sydney for now, with the hope to expand to places more further afield in Australia. We were meant to be travelling home to Ireland this month but that will have to be placed on hold for the time being unfortunately.

Stay tuned and keep safe everyone.

W 🙂

10 reasons to have a cruise vacation.

Hey guys and gals and welcome to 2020. This is my 3rd year of blogging about travel and lifestyle and what better way to start the year than with a cruise blog. I really want to share with you all my 1st time experience of a cruise holiday that we just completed there last month and show you all why it is the most perfect holiday. A cruise holiday is something I have always wanted to try but was always slightly unsure and skeptical of. Hopefully I can eliminate any of the doubts that you yourself may also have and maybe consider a cruise in the future (if you haven’t already done so). We chose the Royal Caribbean: Voyager of the Seas. It has an amazing reputation, was within our budget, was travelling over Christmas (the time period that we wanted) and it was sailing to the South Pacific!!!! The islands that the cruise would be stopping at were on our bucket list. We were very fortunate that we could hop on the cruise at Circular Quay, just down the road from where we live.

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1 – Not too pricey

By today’s standards, a cruise holiday can be super afforable. I used to think you had to be rich to travel by cruise ship but thankfully there are many different options that cater to everyones budget.  Tip – if you enjoy a beverage, take out the drinks package, you won’t regret it. It’s so nice not to worry about money when you are onboard and it’s really reasonably priced.

2 – Amazing food

People often worry about the food. Will you have enough to eat? Will you be tired of eating at the same places every night? I can honestly say the food was fantastic. You can either eat in the restaurant with table service for your 3 main meals or you can head to the buffet style cantina. You can mix and match these, breakfast at the buffet and dinner in the restaurant. We loved both but definitely preferred the restaurant for dinner. The menu was extensive and was changed daily so you were always able to try something different. There are of course other restaurants on board but you would pay extra for those.

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3 – You are NEVER bored!

There is never a dull moment on board when travelling at sea. The entertainment staff do an amazing job at creating fun things for everyone to partake in. You can choose to attend as many things as you want or you can choose not to and lay by the pool. The entertainments staff are crazily good at what they do and how they entertain you. There are quizzes all the time, karaoke, the hugely popular bingo and there’s even an ice rink, complete with an ice show spectecular.

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Cocktails by the pool. We were there on school holidays, so lots of kids. Fortunately they do have an adults only pool too.

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There is a theatre onboard. They have different shows: comedy nights, musicals, game shows etc and there are 2 sittings. A great way to spend a couple of hours in the evening.

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The staff will leave you an itinerary every evening for the next days activities. The ship also provides an app for your phone that gives you every activity as it’s happening, the perfect way to plan your day and night.

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Napkin folding classes – surprisingly fun and popular.

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The promenade of the ship was home to many activities. You can shop here in the many boutique shops and there is a cool wee traditional style pub. You can grab a coffee along here and there are always snacks on the go for that in between meals period. Perfect if you need a slice of pizza after a night out! From the bridge the entertainments crew will provide entertainment aslo including the very popular zumba. Music is also played here on certain nights if you fancy a dance, it feels like you’re at a really cool street party!!

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Christmas carols in the promenade.

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One of our many strolls around the ship.

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Ocean views at the gym.

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Representing my gym onboard.

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Drinks with a view.

4 – Day trips

We stopped at 4 different islands within Vanauatu and New Caledonia. All 4 of them were stunning. I loved the fact that I was able to brush up on my French language as this is widely spoken here, especially in New Cal and it really goes a long way when you make the effort to speak it.

Noumea

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Mystery Island

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Maré

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Lifou

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5 – People you meet

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Perfect holiday with my partner in crime.

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Beautiful people.

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Such a pleasure meeting the big man.

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Great memories with even greater people.

6 – The Staff

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The stunning cruise director! Loved Michelle, amazing at what she does.

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Loved these guys, amazing staff.

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Big love for Wilbert.

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Our housekeepers were fab! They knew how to make us laugh.

7 – The bars

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The Viking – perfect viewing spot.

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Views (nice to see the pool being cleaned).

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Drinks were unreal at The Tavern.

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Our new fave, brandy and baileys.

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Our most favourite bar – Schooner Bar.

8 – Sunsets

These were just stunning.

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9 – An easy holiday

Everything about this holiday was seamless. Boarding the ship was extremely easy and we were in our room within half an hour.

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Ready for sail away from Sydney, took no time at all to board, see our room, get a drink and head to the party!

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Hopping on and off the cruise to the islands was very straightforward and quick. The tender boats would take you over to the islands when the cruise couldn’t get closer for docking.

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There’s plenty of quiet spots around the cruise if you want some down time.

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I LOVED that you could always get hold of a cup of tea after a night out, perfect before bed. Your room is only a small walk away from any of the bars, making it super easy to get home.

10 – The atmosphere/ambiance

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We really wanted that Christmas vibe and boy did we get it. This cruise was super Christmassy.

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We loved that you could dress casually but also have the opportunity to dress smart on occasion.

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Such a chilled out vibe, being in the middle of the ocean is really special.

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Christmas vibes.

 To conclude, that is my 10 reasons you may want to consider a cruise holiday. As it was my first cruise, I don’t have much experience. However, we found Royal Caribbean to be amazing in every way possible and would absolutely holiday with them again in the future.

Thanks everyone for reading.

W 🙂

 

12 months and 12 photos (2019)

Hi everybody!!! It has been a while. I haven’t written a blog in about 4 months, sorry for that. To be honest, I haven’t had much to say or write about as there has been no travelling for the past few months (except Melbourne twice but does that even count?!). I have been attempting to lay low and save my pennies/cents for the big year that is to come in 2020. A fellow blogger has been carrying out 12 months and 12 photos and I loved this idea. It’s a great way for me to create a blog and keep me in the game. It’s the first time I saw another blog post and thought, yes, I want to do that. So thanks to Tanja from @theredphoneboxtravels for the inspo. I have picked my 12 photos (not an easy task by the way, if you have a few things going on each month) and added a little caption to each one. I hope you find them of interest 🙂

January – Taveuni

Taveuni
The holiday of all holidays. We won a trip back to Fiji and we decided to visit the garden island of Fiji that is Taveuni. An absolutely amazing place with the best people. We made memories there that will last a lifetime.

February – Belfast comes to Melbourne

Belfast comes to Melbs
2 of our really good friends Brian and Rachael came to Melbourne. I didn’t want to miss them so I flew over to spend the weekend with them and had the best craic!

March – Meet my parents in Thailand

Thailand
I had the oppotunity to visit my parents when they were in Thailand celebrating their anniversary. I couldn’t miss this, maybe my only ever chance to have a holiday with just the 2 of them all to myself. A really chilled out holiday with memories I will always cherish.

April – 10 years later

10 years later
We love our Sydney walks and for me, my photo opportunities! We sat here to have a photo taken and realised we had sat here 10 years ago also. We have lived in Sydney in 2009 for 1 year and had made it our dream and mission to return. I like this photo as it highlights how far we have came and what is achievable if you want something bad enough.

May – Home

Home
We love our trips back to Northern Ireland. This was our 2nd trip home since leaving for Australia. We had an amazing time as always, plus we attended 2 very special weddings. The landscape in Northern Ireland is stunning, it definitely needs to be seen if visiting Ireland.

June – A time of reflection

Reflection
This is the Chinese Garden of Friendship. The perfect spot for reflection and gathering your thoughts. I was really happy to have been shown this place.

July – Quality time

Quality time
July was a month of spending time with the other half and taking in the beauty of Sydney. Lots of nice walks and this day we were whale watching, a really unbelievable experience!

August – Leura

Leura
This is my birthday month!! I really wanted to head away for a couple of days. We decided on Leura, in the Blue Mountains. I would highly recommend this to everyone. It is a really quaint little town with a lot of character. The Leura Cascades are impressive and amazing walks in the heart of the Blue Mountains.

September – A personal journey

Personal journey
I have been going to the gym for about 2 years now. I am loving it and acheiving results that I am super happy with. This was the month I hit a personal milestone as I had hit the 10kg mark. Thats a 10kg increase in weight (muscle mass). I was delighted. May the journey continue.

October – Wedding dress shopping

Wedding dress
Never thought in a million years I would be doing this but it was an incredible experience. To be there for my best friend on such a huge occassion in her life was a true honour. We had the best weekend and not a bridezilla in sight!!

Novemeber – My cousin

My cousin
My cousin has been in Sydney for a year and we have loved it. To have a family member here is amazing, to share old memories and make new ones is incredible. We were sad to say goodbye as she heads off on her travels and then home but we have had the best year and again made the best memories.

December – Christmas time

Christmas
One of my favourite months of the year. This year we are spending it together, just the 2 of us. We are heading away on what will be our only holiday as a couple since 2014. Keep an eye on my socials for photos to follow. Merry Christmas everyone!!! See you all next year 🙂

L E U R A

Leura is a small town situated in the Blue Mountains. We wanted to see somewhere different within the mountains as we have been a good few times now and luckily there is still always something new to see. Blackheath, Katoomba and Leura are the 3 main towns and so we had already visited the other 2 towns. It was my birthday at the start of the month, so we thought it would be fun to have a weekend away, a mini vacation. We wanted somewhere that we could travel to by train, so we could save the hassle of hiring a car like we normally would do. Leura has its own train station and is less than 2 hours to get to from Sydney. Perfect spot because you are within the Blue Mountain region, great for stunning scenery and long walks ☺️. I had heard Leura has lovely cascades with picnic areas, so for me, that’s what I really wanted to see. I also wanted to simply see the mountains and feel a million miles away from the normal daily routine.

We used booking.com to book a lovely cottage in Leura, a 5 minute walk from the train station. The cottage was The Priest’s Cottage at St Raphael (no priests were spotted) and it was really special. Extremely cosy with its own little electric fire and it even had electric blankets that was a really nice touch. It was freezing at night when we were there but luckily you wouldn’t have known staying in this cottage. It was very easy to find and so close to the town. A really quaint little place that was pretty spacious and had all the amenities you would hope to find. Outdoor seating area too that would be great in the summer.

First thing you do on a holiday/mini break, check in and check out your surroundings. We took a walk to the town and had a look around. The main street is really quaint with lots of cafes and really cool shops. Our favourite findings were the vintage shops (particularly The Leura Emporium Vintage Collectables) and the really cool Teddy Sinclair’s Man Cave. This shop was awesome, you could spend all day in it. It smells amazing as you walk in with all the leather wallets, bags, coats, jackets etc and it has lots of men’s accessories from shaving utensils to travel bags, jewellery, watches and gifts.

Flemish Flavours

This is the best spot, in my opinion, for a beer and some food. This bar/restaurant is situated in a heritage listed mansion overlooking Leura. The outdoor space and gardens are stunning. This is a really cool spot to try out some Belgian beers and gourmet food. The beers were delicious and the atmosphere here is quirky and cosy. Be sure to check this place out this month as the restaurant/bar will be leaving the premises here for new pastures.

Bygone Beautys Treasured Teapot Museum

If you love tea as much as I do then this is the place for you. You can pay $5.50 in to see the museum or you can be admitted for free in the condition that you purchase a cup of tea after. The museum has the largest collection of private tea ware in the world and boasts more than 5,500 teapots from all over the world and from different eras. The staff here are super friendly and helpful and the atmosphere and surroundings create the perfect place to have a cup of tea, where you can choose from an array of different varieties.

Leura Cascades

I was super excited to see these!! I was just looking forward to heading out for a walk into unknown territory and seeing something a little different. We walked to the cascades, it takes about 30 minutes from Leura itself. We brought a picnic as we’d heard there are lovely spots to sit and have lunch, plus there are no cafes or shops nearby so best be prepared. The cascades themselves are stunning. Not overly big but tucked away amongst the trees and rocks to create a special ambiance. The walking trail is pretty easy to navigate with some steep stairways if you want to head upwards and see the views overlooking the Blue Mountains. Definitely worth the trek up as the views are spectacular. As soon as you see the mountains it’s a truly breathtaking moment. You really feel the vastness of the area and at one with mother nature. There are lots of areas worthy of having a picnic, with some picnic benches also provided. You can walk as far as Katoomba from here but we decided against it. All in all the walk takes about an hour and a half.

We did, however, head to Katoomba later that day as it’s only 5 minutes from Leura on the train. We always feel we have to see the infamous 3 sisters. Although we’ve now seen them multiple times, they still manage to make us feel in awe.

Two places to check out for dinner:

1- Miss Lilian Tea House

This is authentic Asian casual dining. If you want something tasty but not overly fancy or overpriced, this place is the ticket. Food was delicious and the decor is pretty funky with a stress on birdcages. It’s in Katoomba but a bit of a walk to so we travelled by taxi here. Definitely worth the fare 😉

2- Leura Garage

This award winning restaurant and bar has been on my list for a while as I have always heard good things about it. Using all local ingredients and wines, it was really amazing and didn’t disappoint. It is really handy, basically across the road from the train station. It is always busy so be sure to book ahead.

So that’s my mini weekend guide to Leura. Hopefully some of you find it helpful. This little town is most definitely worth seeing and is often a looked over little gem of a find. Next time your in the Blue Mountains be sure to check it out.

Thanks for reading,

W 😊

Autumn in Sydney 🍂🍁

Hi there! Welcome to my latest blog post. I have been laying low for the past couple of months as I have been travelling a lot and need to build the funds back up again. In addition, we are going home at the end of this week!!! Exciting and definitely worth it, being sensible for the last couple of months 😆. Nevertheless, laying low in Sydney as autumn arrives is not too shabby at all. It has been really enjoyable to take it easy, have lots of home cooking, working out in the gym, early nights and wearing some warmer clothes. Therefore, I thought it might be the perfect time to write about activities to carry out when in the autumn season. Things to do that do not require a lot of money or effort. Appropriate for when trying to save for the next holiday 😉.

1 – Spice Alley

I had always heard of this place and people always had a good word to say about it. I had assumed this was a restaurant. I had no idea that it is in fact what the name suggests, an alley way!! It is an alley tucked away in Sydney’s CBD (very close to Central Station) that offers an array of Asian cuisine. There are numerous kitchens in the style of street food stalls and you could be forgiven for thinking that you are entering a street taken right out of the Asian continent. It is a fantastic place, full of life and the smells of tasty Asian cuisine. This is definitely a place to check out for some authentic street food and something a little different and quirky. A very ‘Instagrammable’ place too (this is a thing now). 💁🏼‍♂️ You can see the types of food available here.

2 – Gin Lane

If you want to try an array of different gin concoctions then this is the place for you. As part of Spice Alley this place is also a feast for the eyes. Set in an old historic house, the atmosphere is perfect for treating yourself to something a little fancy. The taste, presentation and uniqueness of these gins/gin cocktails is exquisite. The outdoor sitting is pretty cool and provides the sense of sitting in an old backstreet of 18th century London. The happy hours are daily and at different times depending on the day of the week. Find out more at the Spice Alley website above. Unfortunately I don’t have a decent photo to show you as it was quite dark inside and I didn’t want the flash on my phone to illuminate the whole room 🙈.

3 – Vaucluse House

I have always had a love/fascination with old stately homes. Back home in Ireland we have heaps but it was cool to be able to find some here (albeit not as old 🙊). Living in Bondi, I wanted to check out Vaucluse House as it’s pretty close being in the Eastern suburbs too. We took a tour of the home and thoroughly enjoyed the inside, informative knowledge. It was interesting to learn the history of the home and gardens that had once been owned and lived in by the Wentworth family. I won’t go into the details but it is worth checking out here. The gardens surrounding the mansion are really impressive and the tea rooms are extremely quaint if you are in the mood for a scone or something more substantial 😋.

4 – Seven Shillings Beach

After visiting Vaucluse House we took a short bus ride to a beach in the Eastern suburbs that we had not seen before. It’s called Seven Shillings Beach and can be found by walking through Blackburn Gardens at Double Bay (so many names!!). The gardens aren’t that big but are quite pretty and lead to this spectacular beach. I couldn’t believe that I had never heard of this place, let alone see it. It’s a really cool beach as it offers an enclosure for swimming in the sea called Murray Rose Pool. A walkway takes you out to the sea, almost like a jetty but in the form of a walkway and back again to the beach. A really amazing spot to relax with city views in the near distance. There is also a cafe situated here for food with a view. called Red Leaf Cafe. Perfect if you forget your picnic! We cannot wait to return here 😁.

5 – Angel Place

This street is very much a hidden gem of Sydney’s CBD with many locals having never even been. It is home to a piece of art called ‘Forgotten Songs’ by Michael Thomas Hill and features many, many empty birdcages hanging from a great height. It represents all the birds that were once present and even has all of their sounds playing, changing throughout different parts of the day. It’s a real feast for the eyes and is usually pretty quiet if you are looking to take photos without any other people popping up in the picture (a rare find these days unfortunately). We were able to find this with help from Google maps.

6 – Lavender Bay

This place was a find by chance for me. I was strolling around Milsons Point over in North Sydney when I came across this beautiful bay and gardens. Here you can find Wendy’s Secret Garden, apparently Sydney’s worst kept secret 🙊🤣. Here you can find many native flower species, stunning flowers and impressive views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It is a simple garden but I found myself strolling around here for ages, it’s so tranquil and feels like a safe haven from the busy every day life in Sydney. You can read more about this garden here and find out why it was created by Wendy.

Thanks a lot for taking the time out to read my blog. Sydney remains an amazing city with so much to see and do, not only in summer but also heading into Autumn 🍂.

Ps. I have just returned from Seven Shillings Beach for the 2nd time and I honestly think it is even better again. My new favourite beach area in Sydney!!!

Take care all,

W 😊

Cremorne Reserve 💦🌸

I had to write a blog post about this place as it is truly magical and has all the elements required for a great day out. Every Sunday we have free, we like to do a new walk around Sydney and see new places. I use this link that gives you a run down of good walks to do around Sydney. It is my aim to complete them all soon. We picked Cremorne Reserve as it is close to us and pretty short at only 3km roundtrip. We had no expectations of this walk although I was looking forward to seeing the lighthouse that was mentioned.

You can get to this reserve by taking the ferry from Circular Quay to Cremorne, it’s the 1st stop. Once there, grab a coffee from the little coffee shop and head up the steps. You have then entered the reserve. Take a left to start the walk. You can also head right to see the Robertsons Point Lighthouse. We did this at the end of the walk so I will mention it again later.

Heading on our walk the first thing you will come to is a path veering off to the left. We were eager to see what was down there and to our surprise we found an outdoor swimming pool. It’s called MacCallum swimming pool. Honestly the walk to the pool through lots of greenery is amazing and to reach a pool at the end makes you feel truly blessed. The pool is really cool with absolutely amazing front row seat views of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge.

After a swim, head back onto the track. The walk along this is class. You have views of the water to your left with pretty houses and many, many boats. To your right are beautiful gardens and really impressive houses (like million dollar homes), how the other half live. If you like architecture, design and all things quaint then you will enjoy seeing these. There are lots of places to stop and sit, appreciate the tranquility here or pack a picnic.

Along the track we stumbled across the most stunning little hand made garden, made by 2 volunteers Lex and Ruby in 1959. The garden has many different plant and flower species and has steps that take you through and down to the waters edge. Such a delight to see and you really feel like you are entering the secret garden.

Having finished the walk and returned to the wharf, we took the path to the lighthouse. I am honestly so glad we were able to see this. I have to say, I think this is my favourite lighthouse that I have seen to date and I have seen a lot. It’s the sheer slightness of it, it’s surroundings and the quaintness that makes it stand out for me. It is like something taken from a movie. Maybe I’m a bit over the top but I really thought it was magnificent 🙈🤣.

Anyhow, if you ever get the chance to visit here, you really ought to. It’s a unique location in Sydney and one that isn’t laden with tourists.

Thanks for reading!

W 😊

The Entrance

We wanted to escape the city for a long weekend and were thinking where could we go that doesn’t involve too much time to travel. We decided on The Entrance on the central coast of NSW. It is only about an hour and a half drive from Sydney and it was very cheap to rent a car for the weekend.

This is a lovely seaside spot with water all around you. You have Tuggerah Lake to the left of the Entrance and the Pacific Ocean to the right. We stayed in a motel along the Blue Bay where you have a spectacular beach and ocean view. The motel itself was amazing and the staff were extremely friendly, offering advice on what to do and where to eat in the area. You can check it out here.

Just behind the motel lie 2 ocean baths if you fancy a swim. Unfortunately for us it was a little cold but I’m sure they would be pretty popular in summer time.

The motel also boasts it’s own award winning seafood restaurant, aptly named The Ocean Restaurant. We really wanted to try here, not only because it was on our doorstep but we had heard this place was amazing. The food was delicious and the views were pretty special, even good at night time as we had a few thunderstorms to keep us entertained. The girls working there could not have been more friendly or helpful for advising us which beaches to check out the next day. Definitely worth trying in its own right, if you don’t stay at the motel.

The Entrance town itself has that seaside vibe down to a tee. Lots of quirky shops and cafes and a couple of nice places to grab a scooner or two. We really enjoyed The Entrance Hotel, even for some pub food. The atmosphere was great and seemed to be a popular place to hang out. The thing I wanted to check out the most in the town is the infamous daily pelican feed. The pelicans flock here every day at 3:30pm for a feed of fish provided by a couple of local gents. I had never seen a pelican before so this was a great opportunity not only see one but to be up close and personal to a pod of pelicans. Although they were only interested in the fish, they were magnificent looking birds with different characters shining through. There was interesting commentary and it was very family friendly, children seemed to love it.

While we were at The Entrance, we were fortunate enough to be there when The Entrance Food and Wine Festival was happening. This was held at The Entrance Lake House and was a really enjoyable experience. To be honest we didn’t have any food as we arrived after we had eaten dinner but it was great to try a few different wines from different regions, even some as far as Italy. The location was perfect, great ambiance inside and outdoors with live music playing under the stars. We loved this place so much that we returned the next morning for brunch. It was equally as good and it was cool to see the lake house in the daylight.

Other places to visit near The Entrance:

1 – Norah Head Lighthouse

A really lovely spot and with my love for lighthouses, I was very keen to see it. There are lots of activities you can do here too if you plan to stay such as rainforest walks and whale watching and you can even reside in the lighthouse keepers quarters. For more information click here.

2 – Long Jetty

This little town beside The Entrance is a must see for its many jetties (small piers). There is a cycle path that can take there from The Entrance, approximately 12km. The jetties were previously used for holiday makers arriving by boats. They are impressive to see and have become very popular for budding photographers. The town itself is pretty quaint with trendy coffee shops and vintage shops.

3 – Bateau Bay – Crackneck Lookout

This is a really cool spot if you fancy a bit of a bush walk. Beautiful ocean views can be seen from a height and you can see right across The Entrance shoreline. This is a prefect location for a picnic with a few picnic areas and even a quirky little coffee dock. This was probably my favourite place we visited, it’s really quite special.

4 – Avoca Beach

This is another lovely beach with an amazing seaside town in walking distance. We found this on the drive home from The Entrance and we were glad we made a final pit stop. A very popular place for holiday makers and close to other towns and beaches. Perfect place for a milkshake 😝.

I hope you enjoyed reading a little snippet of the central coast. It is definitely a place I would love to see again and would advise others to see for yourselves.

Thanks for reading!

W 😊

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