Doors of WordPress – Game Of Thrones

I was inspired by Suzette B’s Blog some time ago when she showcased one of the Game Of Thrones doors in her blog post. It was a fascinating read and it made me think back to when I had also seen one of these doors. So as part of Dan’s Thursday Doors, I thought I would show case the Game of Thrones door that I have seen.

First of all, a recap of what these doors are all about. If you have watched Game of Thrones and were an avid fan, you might be aware of some of the filming locations. Many scenes were filmed in Northern Ireland, much to my delight and the delight of most people living there. A prominent scene was filmed at a location called The Dark Hedges in Co. Antrim and has since become a huge tourist attraction. It is basically a road lined with beech trees but the trees are magnificent in their stature and appearance, creating a very moody and suspenseful location to wander through.

The Dark Hedges – 2015
We came back the next day to see the trees with blue skies

Over the years, sadly many of the trees have fallen. They have been subject to storms and the ever increasing presence of tourists coming to the site. Tourism Northern Ireland and HBO found a way to keep the fallen trees alive (in spirit at least) and make good use of them. They were upcycled to create ten wooden doors, with each one depicting a scene from the Game of Thrones series and scattered throughout different locations in Northern Ireland. If you want to see their locations, you can find information here. This is where I found out that mine was number six in the Game of Thrones doors series.

I had heard about these doors when I was last in Northern Ireland, three years ago. My parents had known that there was one nearby in Ballintoy, in a pub called the Fullerton Arms. We headed there for a pint and a nosey and we were delighted to spot the Game of Thrones door, created with such finesse from the fallen beech trees. The pub also had a shrine to Game of Thrones with other memorabilia, a themed dining room and even its very own throne!

Game of Thrones Door #6 at Fullerton Arms
Amazing carvings and such intricate detail. This one show cases House Targaryen 🐉

I absolutely cannot wait to see all of these doors when I head back to Northern Ireland soon. Once I have seen them all, I will create a new post to show case them all.

Thanks so much for reading.

Take care,

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 ✌🏽

Tuesday thoughts 💭 – Anniversary

Today my husband and I celebrate five years of marriage. After ten years together, it was time to put a ring on it and make it official. We had a civil partnership in Northern Ireland as it was still illegal for people of the same sex to be married then. Thankfully, it was made legal in 2020.

For us, marriage was about strengthening our commitment to each other, showing our love for each other to the world, providing security for each other and having that certainty that we would be seen as a couple in the eyes of the law. As we were moving to Australia, we wanted that security, for example, heaven forbid, if something happened to one of us. We also wanted to have a time of celebration with our families and friends, before we would leave Northern Ireland for a new chapter Down Under.

The best day with our nearest and dearest.

When we arrived in Australia the following month, we were surprised to discover that gay marriage was also not legal here. This was astounding as we know how gay friendly Australia is and Sydney hosts one of the biggest Mardi Gras festivals in the world.

On 9 December 2017, the right to marry in Australia was no longer based on sex or gender. This was amazing news and enabled us to be married officially. We had a small wedding service on our one year anniversary (four years ago today), just for us. We felt that we were married before but now it was official. We had a ceremony at one of our favourite beaches with an intimate collection of family and friends.

❤️

#loveislove

Wayne ✌🏽

Sunday Sunsets – Portrush

Happy Sunday everyone. I’m up early here in Sydney, bright eyed this morning but without the bushy tail 🤣. Four hours sleep is just not enough for me (I’m a 7 hour man!) and I’m away today for some wine tastings. So I thought I would create my Sunday Sunset post before I head out for the day.

These were taken in 2016 at a place called Portrush. It’s a little seaside town along the north coast of Northern Ireland. This is the small harbour known as Portrush Harbour (funnily enough). It’s a really beautiful place and it’s a town that many people from Northern Ireland visit for a mini vacation. At the harbour you can find a variety of restaurants, quaint and cosy pubs, a yacht club and you’re in very close proximity to the beaches and town.

I am extremely fortunate that my parents moved here a few years ago so it means I always get to come here. I used to frequent as a child, like most kids did then, as most people couldn’t afford foreign holidays. People would have travelled locally for the weekend or a week away. However, we always had the best times and treasure those memories into our adulthood.

Have you ever visited Northern Ireland’s stunning yet underrated coastline? I feel like it often gets forgotten about when people visit Ireland 🤷🏼‍♂️.

Be sure to let me know.

Take care everyone,

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 ✌🏽

Bloganuary Day 31 – we made it!

Last day of the blogging challenge!!! Cannot believe we made it to the end. 31 days of blogging in a row. For the most part I have really enjoyed it, however, I do feel the prompts have went downhill since the beginning. I can appreciate it must be difficult to think of new topics every day that will keep people enthralled. I was really hoping for an amazing prompt today, seeing as it’s the last one but it fell a bit flat for me. What do you think of today’s topic? On a positive note, it does make you think outside the box.

I don’t often see many stars living in the city. So when I do have the chance to see them, I know for sure that I am out of the city and a little more rural. This in itself is a good feeling as I must be on holidays.

There is something very special about looking at the stars and it always makes me feel contented. It provides a feeling that the world is not that big, as everyone on the planet can look at the same stars (not all at the same time). It brings us together as human beings and with me living so far away from home, I take comfort in knowing we are all under the same stars ☺️.

I also often think about who else can see the stars out there. Are there other planets or galaxies with living beings that can also see the the same stars? Or maybe they have their own stars.

I feel calm and at ease when looking at stars too and almost become lost in their beauty in the night sky. How does everyone else feel?

On a final note, I would like to add a huge well done to everyone for making it this far with Bloganuary. It has been an amazing month of blogging, making new friends and reading other people’s perspectives. It’s funny how we all interpret the blog prompts differently and we form our own methods and ideas to tackle the questions. I have thoroughly enjoyed the process and look forward to interacting more with my fellow bloggers.

Thanks so much for the support and all your amazing comments. I love reading what you have to say and learning more about people from all over the globe.

Take care, stay safe and keep blogging!

Wayne 💛

Bloganuary Day 28

I have so many different artists on my playlist at the moment. I like to have a good variety, mostly upbeat songs as I listen a lot when I’m walking. I do have some slower and meaningful songs on my playlist too for when I’m commuting on the train to and from work. Sometimes at 6am you just need some easy listening tunes to help you wake up gently.

At the moment I’m listening to a lot of Mumford and Sons. The Delta album is the most listened too album at the moment on my playlist. I’m also listening to Neil Diamond. I always loved his songs since my early twenties. It’s refreshing to have his songs back on my playlist, they’re feel good songs and remind me of fun times. I have just picked a few of my favourite songs by Neil to add to my playlist. These include Crackling Rosie, Shilo, Stones, Cherry Cherry and Soolaimon.

I have the Paul Simon Graceland album on my playlist too. It’s one my all time favourite albums, I love the African inspiration and sound.

I also have some random pop songs to make me walk faster or lift my spirits after a day at work. At present I have a lot of Dua Lipa, Guy Sebastian, Ed Sheeran and UB40. I also have some really random songs on my playlist from Blondie to the Communards to Pink to Girls Aloud. I like any kind of music really with the exception of heavy mental or trance. I love pop, rock’n’roll, country, jazz, r’n’b or anything I might just hear from the tv or radio. I have the Shazam app on my mobile phone that is amazing for discovering new music. Any time I hear a song I like, I will Shazam it to see who sings it and then I will add to my playlist, it’s super easy 😊

What’s on your playlist?

Wayne ✌🏽

Bloganuary Day 26

Oh what a pompous question 😆. A favourite part of myself…is that physically, mentally, intellectually or morally.

I would maybe say I am happy with my mental self i.e. I have a good sense of my own being. I feel I have a good-natured personality that is kind and caring. I try to be the best version of myself and I am aware that we are not perfect as human beings. I would consider myself friendly and outgoing and I really enjoy meeting new and interesting people. I hope I am a person my friends can come to with a problem or just need someone to listen to, free from judgement and criticism.

There you have it, simple and to the point. My personality is my favourite part of me ☺️

Wayne ✌🏽

Bloganuary Day 25

I feel I have many things that make me feel strong. My family, my friends, my partner, my environment and my values in life make me feel strong on a daily basis. I feel, with their support, I can take on most things life has to throw at me.

On a more personal level, I think my fitness journey over the past five years makes me feel very strong, both literally and figuratively.

Literally, I am the strongest I have ever been. That’s not to say that I’m super strong by any means but I was seriously weak and unfit before I found my love for the gym. Physically I feel good and my fitness is a constant work in progress. I love feeling fit, strong and healthy and that takes me onto feeling strong also figuratively.

My fitness journey has helped my confidence to grow from a geeky little skinny kid to a less skinnier looking man 😆. By looking after my body and pushing myself I am becoming a better version of me and one that I am proud of. I am not hoping for a quick fix with my fitness and body goals. I am on this journey for the long haul and I absolutely love it. I never thought in a million years I would become a gym lover but once you commit for a few weeks and see results, it grabs a hold of you and you start to really love it, to the point where you miss the gym when you cannot go. Plus, even though I have never struggled with my mental health, I can really see how fitness can play such a positive role in helping to maintain your mental well-being.

Thanks to my fitness journey I feel strong literally 💪🏼 and figuratively 💁🏼‍♂️.

What make you feel strong? Please let me know.

Thanks for reading,

Wayne ✌🏽

Bloganuary Day 24

Every day at 11am here in Sydney I can see the new Bloganuary prompts and every day at that time I secretly hope for a really fun topic. Some days are pretty good…however, today I am pretty much at a loss for what to write.

The problem is, I never really remember my dreams. There is the odd time that I wake up due to my alarm going off and I was woken up from a really good dream. If you were to ask me then, I can remember all the details but after a few hours it will have all evaporated from my mind. I have often thought about writing the dreams down quickly so that I don’t forget but just have never gotten around to it or maybe the dream just was not that interesting to warrant me documenting it 🤷🏼‍♂️.

I do love when you have a great dream but waken up to use the bathroom. You were really enjoying the dream so you try to re-enter the dream when you return to bed. Sometimes this has happened to me and I actually can go back into the dream. This is amazing when it occurs but I will still forget about it when I waken up 🙈

Nevertheless, I have recently had the same dream twice, although it was more of a nightmare to be honest, whereby, I am back living in Belfast and carrying out the same job I had been doing previously. I was walking through the workplace wondering why I was there as it didn’t make any sense to me. This could be due to the fact that I’m thinking of home a lot and trying to plan my future. I do find dreams very interesting, it’s like your subconscious mind is working overtime, processing all of your conscious thoughts while you are having a much needed rest.

Do you believe that dreams can mean things? For instance, if you dream of your teeth falling out, there are big changes going to happen in your life?

What are your thoughts?

Wayne ✌🏽

Bloganuary Day 22

I have 3 favourite quotes. Let me know if you agree with any of them ☺️.

We are all replaceable so don’t stress too much about work. It’s all about that work/life balance 🙌🏼
I always dreamed to live in Australia, so I like to reflect on this when I become engrossed in my daily living.
I love this one as we have no idea who is watching our progress. This relates to me with my daily fitness and strength growth, trying to escape my skinny boy past 🤣.

Thanks for checking out this post everyone!!!

Wayne ✌🏽

Bloganuary Day 21

This is a tough one today as it’s not something I have ever thought of or desired to do. I guess it would be fun to head back in time to my parents era, kind of like Back to the Future, just to see how they lived and what life was like.

It would be cool to travel to the sixties – the Beatles, flower power and revolutions. Before the Troubles would start in Northern Ireland. I would love to see Ireland as a country when everyone would get along, no matter what religion, before British invasion. This was probably about 500 years ago?!

It would also be nice to maybe spend one day in the future, maybe in 100 years when I know I will no longer be here. What is the world like? Are cars flying yet? Or maybe global warming has had a catastrophic effect and most of the world is under water?!

For now, I will time travel back to my early twenties and relive one my many fun nights out in Belfast with the best group of friends, back to a time when we were allowed to dance and you could go for a night out with £20 and still come back with change. Take me back to 2003 please 😉.

What year would you time travel to?

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 18

I hate to say this but I actually don’t have a book to read next. To be honest, I haven’t read a book in quite some time, except for academic purposes. It’s a little embarrassing but I guess I have other ways to relax. I think coming to Australia I am definitely outdoors a lot more. I walk every day and I frequent the gym 5 or 6 times a week. I love exercise and I have really gained access to a whole new fitness world that was previously unimaginable to me. Also I study often for my employment, so I just haven’t recaptured my love for reading for pleasure as yet.

I used to be an avid reader, smashing a couple of books in a week. I loved the escapism it would offer and it definitely helped with my English writing skills at school.

I really would love to become lost in a good book again. One of those books that you can’t put down as you’re so gripped to turn the page and see what will happen next. I am open to suggestions if anyone is keen to share any. I like fiction that is crime, mystery, fantasy or thriller. I do also enjoy autobiographies and the older classics 📖.

Many thanks,

Wayne 🤓

Bloganuary Day 17 🦸🏼‍♂️

I would love to have the ability to teleport. That would enable me to see my family and friends in Ireland any time I want. I would also be able to travel the world and save so much time and money on travelling.

The only drawback would be that you miss out on the joy of travelling. However, you would always arrive at your destination refreshed and with money on your account 🤣.

I could always settle for the ability to fly. That way I could still travel wherever I want by air for free. However, I feel that if I had that ability, there would be public interest and I could be taken hostage as a science project. Plus I think I would be fearful to fly over oceans in case I lost the ability to fly and fell into the vast depths of the open waters.

There are just too many superpowers to think of. I could settle for any but I always seem to think of the other side of the coin, the drawbacks. Maybe it’s better not to have a superpower 🤔.

What’s your thoughts?

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 15

A good lesson in life is to be kind to others. I know it sounds simple but many people fail to be able to do this unfortunately. I always have the mentality of treating others how I would want to be treated. So often people are quick to judge someone else, without actually knowing what is going on in their lives. Try living in the other person’s shoes.

I would say every single human being has their own personal issues. May that be family, employment, financial, relationship, psychological, physical, emotional etc etc, we all have something that isn’t perfect in our lives. Therefore it is so important to bear that in mind before we judge or criticise others. Just be kind to others, it shouldn’t be that hard to do ☺️. Life is tough enough without being treated unkindly. I feel like everyone can benefit by treating people with kindness. The giver and the receiver of kindness.

Cheers,

Wayne ✌🏽

Bloganuary Day 14

This one is easy for me. My biggest challenge to date is gaining the skills to be able to move to Australia. I have travelled here many years ago on a working holiday visa and always wanted to come back and live as a resident. This is no easy thing to do. Australia has very strict immigration rules. If you want to live here in Australia, you have to be of value to them, which is fair enough really.

You can live here if you have a skill that is in demand. I had a good look at their skilled visa occupation list and picked something that I thought I could maybe learn to do and enjoy as a new career path.

Some of you will know the career path that I chose was a nursing one. Everywhere in the world is in need of nurses so I thought this would be a great career move and I had always thought of nursing in the back of my mind as I really enjoy working with people and feel like I have a caring and patient nature. Also my mum was a nurse too so I think that definitely helped with making the decision to study nursing.

Before I could study nursing I had to gain some experience in the caring profession in order to discover these two crucial points:

1 – Would I enjoy nursing?

2 – Would I be capable?

Fortunately, I applied and received my first caring role in a residential home looking after older people. To my delight, I thoroughly enjoyed the work. It was something completely different from what I had ever done before and even though it was really hard work, both physically and mentally, I found that loved it. I loved making people smile, brightening their day and I had the opportunity to work with some amazing other care workers. The experience I gained here was immeasurable.

The next question I would have to ask is, would I be eligible to apply for the course? Although nurses are highly sought after, many people also want to be nurses, making it very competitive to enrol in a nursing degree. I was gaining experience as a care assistant but I also needed the relevant qualifications. Thankfully, I had already carried out a degree beforehand and had the adequate A level results so I was able to meet the eligibility criteria.

I applied to university whilst working as a care assistant and to my horror I didn’t receive an offer of acceptance first time round. I was saddened but I had initially applied for mental health nursing and I knew already that it was highly competitive. Maybe this was a blessing in disguise.

I spent another year in the residential home and reapplied to university a year later, this time for general nursing. I became a supervisor in the residential home and continued to really enjoy the work. This gave me the confidence to apply for a nursing assistant job in a hospital, as part of the NHS. Two years after having joined the residential home, I was now working as a nursing assistant in theatres. This was an amazing job opportunity and extremely different from working in a care home.

A few months later, I received a letter to say I had been successful to study general nursing!!! This was SUCH an amazing feeling to finally be another step closer to my Australian dream.

I enrolled in university the following year and continued to work both as a care assistant in the home and as a nursing assistant in the hospital. I was able to work across four different hospitals in numerous wards throughout my journey as a nursing assistant. I will never forget the things I learned here and the amount of amazing nursing assistants and nurses that I met along the way. It showed me the many different varieties of nursing and also allowed me to discover where I enjoyed working and where I maybe wanted to avoid in the future. I would say all nurses have certain tasks that they love performing and others not so much. The joy of nursing is that there is so much choice with regards to different nursing fields. If you don’t like one aspect of nursing, you can choose another that is more suited to you and you can also work in different settings, for example, hospital, community, GP surgery, telehealth etc.

So I studied nursing for three years. A full time degree whilst working part time. Hard, hard work, long hours and very little money but I loved it again. I had the best experiences, both in placements and in the classroom. Every six weeks we would change from being on placement to being back at uni and so on, whilst every placement you were on was in a different setting.

After completing my nursing degree, I became a registered nurse and luckily was able to obtain my first job pretty quickly. There was a huge demand for nurses then in Northern Ireland so all students were able to obtain their first choice of nursing profession. I worked in my first post for two years whist trying to plan my move to Australia. It all paid off in the end. I completed all my paper work and became an Australian resident before emigrating. This was another whole process and that is for another blog down the line. I do have a previous blog post on the nursing application to be a nurse in Australia here but be aware this may have changed since then.

There you have it. My journey to become a nurse and make the move to becoming an Australia resident. The whole process took about seven years. This was my biggest challenge to date and it was a lengthy process to say the least. I am glad I faced it and overcame the process. I could have let my dream pass and stayed living at home. However, I felt that I owed myself to take on the challenge and see what living on the other side of the world would be like for a lengthy period.

Thanks for reading guys. It’s slightly longer than my previous Bloganuary posts.

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 12

This is an interesting post as I have recently been questioning whether emojis are accepted in the blogging world.

I love to use emojis. I feel like one little image can convey a word or feeling so well. I use these a lot in my daily life, in text messages, social media and now blogging. I think because they’re everywhere now, they have almost become integrated into our written language.

They’re useful, especially when you don’t speak or write the same language as others. They are universal and break down language barriers.

I don’t even realise I’m using emojis half of the time. Maybe it’s a bad habit to use emojis in blogging. I feel like they are looked down and frowned on in the blogging world. I did have another blogger once comment on one of my posts about my use of emojis and to be honest, I felt silly for using them and slightly belittled.

I think emojis are here to stay and are a sign of moving with the times. I personally like them and I will continue to use them. I will try to refrain from using too many in my blog posts as perhaps it does take away from the art of writing. However, I do believe in the saying “you do you and I will do me”, so if you want to use emojis, go for it, it is your blog after all.

These are my most used emojis at the moment. They do change frequently, however, there are a few that always stay at the top. I think you can tell a lot from someone’s most used emojis 😊

I love the hug 🤗 emoji. It’s very positive and shows that you care about someone, especially as we cannot really hug people at the moment due to covid. I also love the face palm 🤦🏼‍♂️ emoji and the shrug 🤷🏼‍♂️ one, which I obviously haven’t used for a while 😉. The grapes, leaves and sunflower are there simply there because I have just been to a few vineyards recently.

What are your thoughts on emojis? I am generally very interested to hear your opinions, especially when blogging.

Thanks for reading and take care,

Wayne ✌🏽

Bloganuary Day 11

For me, this means grabbing life by the horns and living it to the fullest. It means taking chances, leaving your comfort zone and not being afraid to try new things.

I try to do this as much as I can with travelling, meeting new people, sampling different cuisines and changing my roles of employment. I think these things are so important for character building and broadening our horizons.

I think I still can do more for living boldly and it remains a work in progress, for example, trying not to let other people’s opinions bother me and coming to grips that not everyone thinks the same. I am a person that generally follows rules and try my best to do the right thing. So in this regard I don’t live too boldly but I’m ok with that. I’m not a massive risk taker, I like to play it safe in life. That being said, I do love to be spontaneous at times with a last minute trip away or conversing with random strangers.

So I would probably say that I live life semi – boldly if that makes sense. Every now and again it’s good to live boldly but I still have my limitations. I’m a middle of the road kind of guy ☺️

What about everyone else?

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 ☺️

Bloganuary Day 9

Working hard or hardly working?? 🤔

Many of my friends and followers on social media think that I don’t work 😆. I guess this could be for two reasons.

1 – I post frequently on social media, especially Instagram and I do go out a lot. I love walking and try to do this every day, so even if I’m posting pictures of my walk or by the beaches, it’s normally as I’m out and about before or after work. We work 8 hour shifts here as nurses in Australia. Therefore, we can actually do things before or after work. Unlike back home in Northern Ireland where I would have worked 11 or 12 hour shifts. On my days off, I love to go out and see places. I enjoy eating out, be it breakfast, lunch or dinner (never all three in one day 😉). So I think this could give a false impression that I don’t work when I actually do work full time.

2 – I don’t have children. This absolutely gives me freedom to do my own thing, go out when and where I please and I have no ties to be home at a certain time. Also I have no pets as yet. This is something I am really interested in, maybe a couple of dogs in the near future. So having no commitments enables me to carry out my life how I please ☺️. If people on social media compare my social life to theirs, they really shouldn’t. If they have decided to have a family of their own. That’s amazing and it’s their prerogative. They will have many amazing things in their life through experiences with their children (something I do not).

I do work hard in my career but I have a good work/life balance. It may simply appear that I do not work as I often post about the fun things I’m doing. I wouldn’t necessarily be posing about my times in work. To be honest I am more than happy if people assume I don’t work much or work at all. It’s rather amusing. When people say, “Do you ever eat at home?”, it makes me chuckle. I eat at home 5 or 6 days a week. There are worse things to complain about in life than people thinking I don’t work.

Cheers for reading,

Wayne ✌🏽

Bloganuary Day 8

To be honest I have never really thought about my writing or style of writing. I don’t write fiction. I simply write about my experiences, more so, my travel experiences. If I was to think about my writing and what I like about it, it would maybe be the following two points:

• I don’t take my writing too seriously, it’s not a chore for me and I like it that way. That’s not to say that blogging can’t be serious. I write how I speak generally. Therefore, I feel I have a light hearted style of writing. Hopefully people can relate to my writing and see that it comes from a good place.

• I find writing in my blog to be very personal and a good tool for self expression. There’s just something about writing that allows you to put all your thoughts on paper (so to speak) and you instantly feel good about it. Maybe it’s also the fact that I don’t have a huge following and I don’t know many bloggers in person here so it makes it easier to be open and frank. To be honest, this challenge is really the first time I have had the courage or motivation to be more open on my blog. My previous posts have been about travel and so I have not needed to show my more vulnerable side.

There you have it. Short and sweet. I like my writing as it’s light hearted, personal and a great way to express myself.

Any one else have the same thoughts? Please let me know.

Many thanks guys,

Wayne ✍🏼

Bloganuary Day 7 – 1 week ✔️

First of all, can I just say, congratulations to everyone who has it made it through the first week of the blogging daily challenge 🙌🏼. Is anyone else really enjoying it? This blogging daily thing is really good actually. Luckily I have some distance to travel to and from work and fortunately I travel by train. This gives me plenty of time to get my thinking cap on, switch off from the world and write a simple blog.

What makes me laugh? Anything really. I laugh a lot. I love when you laugh for no reason. It could be something silly someone said or you said, or an action or a memory. When you laugh so hard that you cannot stop. Even if you want to stop. For me it often happens at the most inappropriate times. When I really shouldn’t be laughing. It’s never ending, tears are tripping me and my stomach hurts, sides splitting 😆. Even then I cannot stop.

My friends normally end up joining in, even if they don’t necessarily want to. Laughter is so infectious. I used to get into trouble at school for laughing so much, especially in the library when we were supposed to be super silent. I can’t count the amount of times that I was told to leave the library or class room for laughing so much and distracting others. Even through my university days and studying nursing, I would have many outbursts of laughter. I have one friend that just makes me laugh so much and vice versa. When we are together, it’s just a laugh fest. Not very good when you’re trying to learn or be productive.

I also think I laugh when I’m nervous or stressed about something. It’s almost like a coping mechanism. Have you ever heard the saying, “if you didn’t laugh, you would cry”.

However, I believe laughter is good for you. Good for your health, good for the soul. We need laughter. Especially when times are tough. Laughter is a good outlet to let negative things go and enables you to reset. It’s the best medicine. Unless of course you have just had abdominal surgery. Then I would suggest not to laugh too hard 🙈🤣.

What about you? What makes you laugh?

Wayne 😁

Bloganuary Day 6

Good morning folks. This one was tricky. I’m thinking who inspires me? I couldn’t think straight away. The more I thought about being inspired, the more I was confusing myself with what it meant.

So I did the old fashioned thing and looked up the word in the dictionary. According to Cambridge University Press (2022) to inspire someone is “to fill someone with confidence and desire to do something”.

I would say my family, especially my Dad would definitely fill this criteria. He is always filling me with confidence and telling me to do whatever makes me happy in life. I am really grateful for this mentality. Not to take life so seriously. Life is short and we need to make the most of it. I have always been instilled with the importance of having a good work/life balance. My Dad inspires me to be a good person, have morals, work hard but to enjoy life at the same time. Making my Dad proud is definitely something that inspires me through life and he is always letting me know that he is proud ☺️, that’s a great feeling. I’m lucky to have such an open minded, generous and caring Dad 🙏🏼.

Thanks for reading,

Wayne ✌🏽

Bloganuary Day 5

This is a good question to get you thinking. It took me a good few minutes to think what is something I wish I knew how to do. I feel like if it was something you really, really wanted to do, then you would make it your goal to do so, no matter how much time or effort it would take. In saying that, life often gets in the way of these goals. Other factors, like finding the time, finances, family and friends, employment and just generally having a life will all play a key role in whether you have the opportunity to learn something new.

I would love to speak multiple languages. It was always my dream, right through my school years, to university to now living and working in Australia. Seeing how multicultural it is living in Sydney, you can see the advantages of speaking more than one language. Especially being a nurse. I would love to be able to converse to my worldly patients in their own language, more so when they cannot speak English.

Growing up I would speak German with family and learned the language at school. I then picked up French at school too and absolutely loved being able to speak in two different languages (not perfectly by any means). The ability to communicate in German and French whilst visiting those countries was the dream.

However, as I grew older and left the studies behind (for reasons still unknown now) I slowly forgot what I had learned and taken for granted previously. Now I lack the confidence to communicate in these two languages, especially German. I would love to gain the courage to practice this language, especially as I have family from Germany. The last time I visited Germany, I was speaking at a market stall to order some food and the teller answered me in English 😆. I think he was happy that I had simply attempted to speak in his language.

I think I will get back to revisiting these languages, especially German in the future. I might enrol in some classes to revise the language. It’s just making the time is the issue for me but if I really want to do it, I can make it happen. As for other languages, I’m sure I would have the resources. I’m just not sure how difficult I would find them. Also I guess my priorities are not there yet. At the moment I’m focusing on my career, fitness and travelling.

Therefore, this is something that I wish I knew how to do. How to make the time to learn multiple languages, even just one or two. Also, what is the key to knowing multiple languages?

Let me know your thoughts or what you wish you knew how to do.

Thanks for reading,

Wayne ☺️

Bloganuary Day 4

I’m not sure I had a favourite toy. I was obsessed with 80s cartoons, “funnies” as they were known then to me.

As a child it was Thomas the tank engine, which is still going to this day. If I was placed in front of Thomas on the television screen, I would have sat there for hours, not a peep from me, so I’m told. Apparently my nephew is now the same also ☺️

Then growing up in the 80s, I became mad for Thundercats, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Gummi Bears etc etc, any 80s cartoons really. They really captured my imagination. I used to love going to my Grandads house as he had cable tv. Therefore, offering a lot more funnies all throughout the day and not just in the morning. I used to get up super early in the mornings, just to race to the living room to watch the funnies.

So basically, any toy, figurine, comic, annual, video or video game, I was hooked if it featured any of my favourite 80s cartoon characters. As I grew older, I became infatuated with my first games console, the Sega mega drive. Playing Sonic the Hedgehog, Street Fighter or Streets of Rage were my favourite games to play. Anything also that you could play with more than 1 player. Micro machines too come to think of it.

Can anyone else relate to this? An infatuation with 80s cartoons or games consoles? Please let me know.

Many thanks,

Wayne ✌🏽

Bloganuary Day 3

This question I had to think a little about. These days, just leaving our home is leaving our comfort zone, with the omicron virus everywhere. Nobody wants to become the next victim to corona, especially as we have to isolate. However, I feel like this is not a true challenge for me when leaving my comfort zone.

I like to think of the emotions you experience when leaving your comfort zone. For me, it’s feelings of dread, fear, embarrassment, nervousness, anxiety, stomach doing summersaults etc. Even though you know these feelings will not last and you will get through it, you cannot help but shed these emotions.

I last had these feelings when I had my first day of teaching this year. As I’m sure many of you are aware, I am a nurse. Therefore, I am used to teaching others, new staff, colleagues, student nurses etc. However, this is normally on a 1 to 1 basis. Recently, I became a teacher of nursing. It’s a completely different kettle of fish. Standing in front of a large number of students is daunting. Especially on your first day. Luckily for me (and the students) I got through it ok. I was nervous on the inside but hopefully managed to hide that. The more I got into it, I actually really enjoyed it, being able to share my knowledge and experiences. When the students seem to enjoy the class, it makes all the nerves worthwhile and you’re happy they you’re having a positive impact of their future nursing careers.

So my advice for others leaving your comfort soon is to know that it will be short term. The dread won’t last forever. Everyone experiences these feelings when leaving their comfort zone. Furthermore, we grow as people when we leave our comfort zones. It makes us stronger, braver and more confident in ourselves. It is a good thing to challenge ourselves, push ourselves out of our comfort zones and grow as human beings.

Thanks for reading guys,

Wayne ☺️

Bloganuary Day 2

The Indian Pacific – Sydney to Perth. You can read all about it here. It is a railway journey travelling across Australia and it takes a few days. Maybe not the most conventional road trip but I still consider it a road trip, albeit by rail.

You sleep here, wine and dine, meet other travellers and stop off at a few different locations along the way, all whilst taking in the magnificent views of the Australian outback. It kind of reminds me of Australia’s version of the Orient Express.

This trip is on my wish list big time. Unfortunately, it’s so hard to plan anything like this due to the ongoing pandemic and restrictions constantly changing here. Hopefully, one day, I will be able to experience this amazing road trip by rail.

If I were to travel by car. I would love to drive from Perth to Broome, driving up the west coast of Australia. The only thing is I would like to drive with a few other people. Safety in numbers. Have you ever seen Wolf Creek? 🙈

Thanks for reading guys. I cannot wait to hear what your favourite road trips would be.

Take care and stay safe,

Wayne ☺️

1 night in Manly ☺️

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

Drinks at the harbour waiting for the ferry ☺️

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks everyone for reading!

Keep safe,

Wayne ☺️

Halloween anyone? 🎃

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

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

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

Wayne 🧙‍♂️

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 😜

Lockdown week 10 🤦🏼‍♂️

How are you all keeping out there??? What’s happening with covid where you are? We remain in lockdown here in Sydney, Australia. This is week 10, with another few weeks to go. Lockdown will start to ease here when we reach 80% vaccination rates. Currently we are at 70% which is amazing in such a short space of time (we were slow to begin vaccinations).

I’m getting on with everyday life. Working, walking, exercising, eating, drinking, sleeping and repeat. I’m still grateful for the little things, fresh air, good company, nice scenery, the ability to still work etc etc. When you look at how Afghanistan is doing, how can we not be grateful for what we have. I honestly think about Afghanistan on a daily basis. Heartbreaking. It’s even sadder that people around the world (myself included) will get on with life and Afghanistan will slip from our minds on a regular basis, unless we see some fresh news via the media. I hope the people will get some freedom/relief from the current struggles. I don’t know how that will happen 🤷🏼‍♂️.

Anyway, I just want to remain connected to those in the blogging community. Stay safe for those that are dealing with lockdowns/covid and try to see the good things we have in our lives. Others are not so fortunate.

Wayne ☺️

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 🙂

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 🙂

Northern Ireland: An alternative guide – part 2 ✌🏽

Hi everyone! As most of you are aware, we have just been home again for a few weeks to see family and friends and of course to attend 2 amazing weddings. Fortunately for us, we were also able to see some new venues and features in Northern Ireland and increase our appreciation for our home country. Keep reading to see if you have visited any of these places and if not, maybe they can be on your bucket list 😉.

Grand Central Hotel Belfast – The Observatory

This is a new hotel recently erected in Belfast and is the second tallest building in the whole of Ireland (second to the Obel Tower, also in Belfast). However, it does boast to have the tallest bar in Ireland. The observatory is on the 23rd floor and has the most amazing view of Belfast. It really is spectacular. You will be taken in the elevator by a concierge and taken to a seating area available. Luckily, we had arrived before most others so we could choose where to sit. You can also take a walk around to see the city from every view possible. The seating areas are stunning and very comfortable. The service is lovely, friendly and welcoming staff. The drinks are pricey, for example £15 for a cocktail and £8 for a pint but to be honest, you get what you pay for. The view is outstanding and I suppose it’s not something you would do every day. It’s a really amazing experience for a special occasion and definitely worth a trip if you are visiting Belfast.

Glass of Thrones

I was fortunate enough to be at home at the same time as the Game of Thrones final season. As many of you know, the majority of filming for this amazing show, is in Belfast!!! To celebrate this milestone of the 8th and final season, 6 stained glass windows were erected around the city centre, 1 for each episode. You can walk from Belfast City Hall to Titanic Studios to witness these Glass of Thrones installations, displaying scenes from seasons one to eight of the show. Each window represents the trials and tribulations of a different house, and at the final window you can take a picture on the Iron Throne. For a map of where to find these, click here. I personally loved seeing a new window being unveiled each week. They are exceptional and if you’re a fan of the show, this is a must see. It’s also a good way to explore Titanic Quarter.

Belfast street art

This was completely accidental but it is amazing to walk through the streets of Belfast and see new street art popping up everywhere. It shows that we are a city to be reckoned with in the culture stakes and we are ever progressing. I did want to find the infamous Belfast mural as I had seen this all over Instagram. Having lived in Belfast for over a decade, I had to see it. You should definitely take a walk through the city to find these art pieces. You can find these mostly in the Gaeltacht Quarter and Cathedral Quarter. Bear in mind these are nothing to do with the peace murals. These would be representative of a more forward thinking and inclusive Belfast IMO.

Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort

Now this is a place that I have been dying to try. So when my sister said she wanted us to go, I was delighted 😁. The spa treatment here is unreal, even better than I had imagined. It had a huuuuge area with lots of facilities. Leave your clothes in a locker (changing facilities are even impressive) and don a Galgorm dressing gown/robe/house coat (whatever you call it in NI). When I entered the spa area I was overwhelmed. It’s like what you would see in a movie. People walking around in the robes, pools, hot tubs, saunas and steam rooms everywhere, indoor and outdoor. There are chill out areas with relaxing chairs and loungers and even an ice room. I was honestly so impressed. We even had the chance to have a Celtic sauna treatment that was fantastic. It was unbelievably hot in the nicest possible way and you receive a nice cold mocktail afterwards. We had lunch here too and you are invited to eat in your robes. A very surreal experience but you will really feel like it’s a special occasion. I cannot recommend this enough peeps. We even went on a cold and wet day but it didn’t faze us at all. Ps. The photos do not so this justice at all.

City of Derry Jazz Festival

The biggest jazz festival in Northern Ireland is held in the amazing Derry ~ Londonderry City. If you don’t know Derry that well, a bit like myself, then this is the perfect chance to explore the city and see it in all its cultural glory. The festival has been happening yearly since 2001 and it is 1 of the leading Irish music events of the year. There are street performers, food stalls and live music performing in all the bars in the city. As the bars are all in close proximity, you can easily hop from 1 bar to another to experience as many live acts as possible. The lineup is HUGE, far too many artists to mention but you can check out the website here. Details are already up for next years event in 2020 🎷 🎶 . Oh and while you’re in Derry, you have to check out the Derry Girls mural, I’m sure you’ve seen the show on Netflix! Hilarious…and the paining of the girls is outstanding.

Portballintrae Causeway Loop

Ok so in my opinion I have saved the best until last. This walk was one of my highlights at home, especially because I was able to do this with my parents. Everybody knows about the Giant’s Causeway but instead of heading straight there and spending a fortune on parking, you can complete a small enough walk from Portballintrae to the causeway and see the breathtaking views the north coast of Ireland has to offer, the best coastline in Ireland IMO, yet often overlooked when people think of the Irish coast. Not only will you see coastline but you also see beaches, rock formations, cliffs, sand dunes, a really old railway line and the most quaint little railway station you have ever seen, bridges, rivers and countryside. It has to be every walkers dream to see all these things!! The walk over the 3 quarter mile bridge is short but it is pretty stunning to walk over the Bush River – apparently so dark as the river runs through Bushmills where they make the whiskey 😋 🤷🏼‍♂️. I’m not very good at directions but you can find them here. This is a walk you will want to experience and you will finish at the Giants Causeway. I still love coming here even though I’ve seen it many times but when Northern Ireland has a blue sky, this part of the world is fantastic.

Thanks everyone for reading. It’s lovely to showcase Northern Ireland. It has a lot to offer and every time I return home, there is something new to discover. Be sure to check it out if ever visiting Ireland or the UK.

W 😊

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