Doors of WordPress V51
Happy Thursday everyone and welcome to another week of wonderful doors. It’s been a warm week here in Northern Ireland and I am certainly not complaining. We love to see the sunshine here as it doesn’t happen too often.
I took a walk along the Lisburn Road, Belfast a few days ago to get some fresh air and enjoy the sunshine. This road is famous for being a student area and having lots of rented accommodation for those studying nearby, myself included. As you head up the Lisburn Road, it becomes a more affluent area with trendy cafes, bars and boutique stores. I lived on this road for over a decade before moving to Australia, so it was a real delight to be walking along here again. On my stroll I came across a row of stunning terrace houses with fantastic doors and I wanted to share them with you. There was a few but I only managed to take pictures of my favourite three. Please let me know your thoughts on them.
I LOVE the brick work of the houses, the bright colours of the doors, the arch frame and just their general quaintness. Absolutely stunning doors!
Have a great weekend everyone.
Wordless Wednesday – Ancient
Doors of WordPress V49
Happy Thursday everyone and welcome to another week of fantastic doors. This week I took a look in my archive from doors taken in Northern Ireland a few years ago, just before I left for Australia. It’s funny to look back at my old photos and realise I have loved doors for many years now without even realising it. Please let me know if you have a favourite this week.
My favourite this week is number four. It’s extremely quaint and I do appreciate a red door! Can you believe next week will be my 50th post showcasing my favourite weekly doors? I need to create something special for next week 😅, so stay tuned!
Wordless Wednesday – Countryside
The Balmoral Show is a four day extravaganza that happens every year in Northern Ireland (with a break during covid times). It is the official agricultural event in the country and also the oldest, with the first show having been held in 1872. It offers the chance for people all over the country to come together and be involved in farming exhibitions, competitions, championships , sample local cuisine and check out the farming fashion.
As a child and teenager, I had been to this show many times. As part of the school curriculum, our classes of pupils were taken here yearly for a day out. We all loved it, the chance to roam free (from teachers) through all the stalls on offer, see the variety of animals on show, marvel at the sheer amount of tractors, see what it is like to a part of the farming world, try the different food stalls and collect as many freebies as we could, mostly pens!! (we would see who could obtain the most).
I had always wanted to return as an adult and see if the magic was still alive and to my delight, it really was! The event was previously held in the King’s Hall but is now held outside Lisburn at the Eikon Exhibition Centre at Balmoral Park. Luckily for us we could walk to the venue and I was super grateful as the traffic was pretty busy and you had to pay for parking (crazy considering the ticket prices were £25 each). On display were numerous stalls with local food, gifts, clothing etc. We were able to watch some sheep competitions, dressage, horse jumping and quad bike jumping. There was so much more on offer and with your map (given on entry), you can plan your day with what you want to see and do.
Have a look at my highlights below from spending the day at the Balmoral Show and please let me know if you have anything like this where you are from or would something like this be of interest to you. I would love to know!
Thank you all for taking the time to read my post, I was delighted to be able to attend the show this year and thrilled to share a little of my day with you all. Have a great week everyone.
Doors of WordPress V48
Happy Thursday everyone and welcome to another week of local doors. My entries for this week are from a town called Newry in Co.Down, Northern Ireland, close to the border with Ireland. I have been here a lot over the past few weeks and have enjoyed coming across some new and beautiful doors. I hope you like them as much as I do and let me know if you have a favourite this week.
For me this week, I kept the best for last. I love number 6 for its colour and regal appearance. The archway, pillars on either side and transom window really make the door pop! What do you think?
Sunday sunset – Hillsborough Lake
Happy Sunday everyone! I hope you all had a lovely weekend and enjoyed the coronation if you watched it. Tonight’s sunset was taken a few evenings ago at Hillsborough Lake. I am obsessed with this place and walk around this lake almost every day. The sunsets here are just fantastic.
Murlough National Nature Reserve
As most you already know, on my days off work, I like to get out and about to see some scenery, explore new places and appreciate the nature around us. I have actually been to this reserve before and really loved it, however, it was a cloudy day (surprise surprise) so I really wanted to return one day when the weather was better. Fortunately, we had a couple of days last month where the sun was splitting the trees and we took the opportunity to return to the Murlough National Nature Reserve. This place is really something else and I cannot wait to share it with you all.
Murlough National Nature Reserve is a delicate and impressive 6000 year old sand dune structure owned by the National Trust and has been cared for as Ireland’s first Nature Reserve since 1967. It is an outstanding area for walking, bird watching and taking in the sights due to its sensational location at the edge of Dundrum Bay and the Mourne Mountains (Tourism Northern Ireland, 2023). This is an extremely special location where you can enjoy breathtaking ocean views, with beaches, sand dunes and mountains all in one place.
Before we headed out for a walk, we had to eat. I was pretty hungry as we arrived around lunch time. We parked the car and headed towards Murlough House, just situated five minutes away. Thanks to Google, I discovered there was a cafe there and even better, they had outside dining. Luckily for us, the weather was beautiful so it was the perfect spot to sit out and enjoy the sunshine.
From here we ended up back to the carpark just before Murlough House. All in all, this was a three hour round trip journey with a half hour pit stop for lunch. I highly recommend you check this place out if in Northern Ireland and have some time to see some stunning scenery.
Thanks for taking a look.
Wordless Wednesday – Captivating
FOTD – Spring Spectacular
Happy Friday everyone and it’s Good Friday today for those celebrating Easter this weekend. Today we took a walk around Hillsborough Castle as they currently have their Spring Spectacular event on display. Here they show case many new spring flowers in bloom, with particular emphasis on rare Northern Ireland daffodils.
Therefore, my flower of the day has to be the daffodil today. I never tire of seeing these brightly coloured flowers as they are a reminder that winter is over and spring is finally here. I always associate daffodils with Easter too, as I’m sure many people do.
I hope they manage to brighten your day as they did mine today. Happy Easter to you all and I hope you enjoy some time to unwind and spend time with those nearest and dearest. Best wishes.
Doors of WordPress V43
Happy Thursday everyone and welcome to another week of doors, all of which are from nearby places in Northern Ireland.
The weather is starting to improve here as we enter spring and the nights are stretching longer. Pure joy! Hopefully, I will be able to frequent outdoors more often and find some more doors across the country over the coming months.
Please let me know if you have a favourite this week 😊
My favourite this week is number three from Carlingford. I love the colour of the door and it’s position in this very quirky looking house.
Doors of WordPress V41
Happy Thursday everyone and welcome to another week of doors from around Northern Ireland. I am sticking with my north coast theme this week and showing you some doors from the Causeway Coastal Route that I posted about yesterday. Please let me know if you have a favourite this week.
I think my favourite has to be number three, even if it is a black door. I think it has an elegant appearance, with its transom window and archway. I also really admire the stone work of the building. This was once a school house dating back to the 1850s and is now a very popular cafe for tourists. It’s very quaint inside however it can be pretty pricey. We paid £7.50 for two teas!
Thanks for taking a look and enjoy the rest of your week.
Causeway Coastal Route
The north coast of Northern Ireland / Ireland is undeniably beautiful and severely underrated. If you are from Northern Ireland, you will have travelled here many, many times as a child for your holidays. When people couldn’t afford foreign holidays, families would travel here to the coast, no matter if there was rain, hail or shine. Sadly, as many of you will know, our weather is notoriously wet and cold, however, when you do have good weather, the north coast is absolutely breathtaking and has a lot to offer.
You can travel along the north coast, also known as the Causeway Coast and there are numerous locations along the coastal route that are very much worth seeing. I have been to the north coast a lot but I haven’t often travelled along the Causeway Coastal route. It is well sign posted along the whole route and I will highlight the top sites to stop and see, at least those that we were able to tick off our bucket list.
We stayed in one of the popular towns in the north of the country, Portrush. I know this town pretty well as my parents lived here for a few years. It’s a really stunning coastal town and an extremely popular holiday destination. There are gorgeous walks along it’s two beaches, the West and East Strand. Portrush is well known for its theme park for the kids, surfing and paddle boarding and of course its abundance of fantastic restaurants and bars along the coast, in the town itself and by the harbour. For us, this is where we started our journey along the Causeway Coastal Route.
I hope you have enjoyed the journey along Northern Ireland’s spectacular coastline and hopefully one day you may be able to see it for yourself, if you haven’t done so already. I know I am biased but it is honestly extremely beautiful!
Driving in the snow!
I had never driven in snow before, believe it or not. Today was my first time and the snow fall was plentiful. It has been snowing all night so I was not looking forward to my 5.40 am wake up call.
So what did I learn before arriving to work?
I learned the importance of giving yourself plenty of time to clear the snow from your car.
I learned to use a higher gear when driving from your driveway so the wheels do not spin.
I learned not to break when driving down a very steep hill, instead steering my way down and hoping not to meet any other cars.
And if at first you don’t succeed (almost sliding into a wall), try, try again.
Thankfully I made it so work successfully and survived my first snow day in my car 😅😅.
Did anyone else experience snow today?
Sunday Sunset – Back yard
Tonight’s Sunday sunset taken from our own very back garden at 5.30pm. The nights here are getting longer and by next week I believe the sun will set at 6pm. This is the best thing about summer in the UK and Ireland, the longer nights, where it can be daylight until about 11pm at night, meaning your days will be super long. Bring it on I say!
FOTD – Dutch Crocus
Happy Friday to you all. It’s been a while since I have showcased a Friday flower / flower of the day but I thought today was very appropriate. These are Dutch crocuses and bloom in spring time, hallelujah it’s a sign that winter is coming to an end. I love the colour of these and you can’t help but smile when you see them. I am currently on day two of having covid and my only trip outside is for a walk where there are no people. I’m feeling ok, just tired with a runny nose. These flowers cheered me up, as did the walk and fresh air.
Enjoy your weekend everyone.
So I have just transitioned to the Jetpack app (I wonder will I miss seeing the WordPress app on my phone?!) and now I appear to have prompts for writing. That’s pretty cool, especially on days that you’re maybe struggling to think of material. I maybe won’t always respond to these but this prompt I found interesting.
My favourite pair of shoes were a pair of Vans that my cousin recommended. They were black with brown laces and I found them to be stylish, yet extremely comfortable. I love a shoe that you can wear with chinos or jeans and appear smart but also look casual with a pair of shorts. The downside was that they didn’t last too long but I guess I wore them to death! They took me all over Sydney on many, many walks and also around Northern Ireland when I wore them home in 2019 when touring the north coast.
Local walks in Northern Ireland to kick off the new year
Last month we managed to squeeze in a few different walks here in Northern Ireland. Some of these, you can spend maybe an hour walking around and others you can spend longer as it will take more time to walk around or you may find yourself snapping away at the beautiful scenery. They are great walks for getting out of the house and taking in some beautiful views and fresh country air. I have provided the websites for each location so you can check them out for yourselves also. These are perfect if you are looking for somewhere different to walk or if you ever plan to visit Northern Ireland in the future. There are many other walks that I have taken or plan to take but these are just the last few that I have walked recently.
Castlewellan Forest Park
Silent Valley Reservoir
Gosford Forest Park
Hillsborough Forest Park
I hope you enjoy seeing the walks that I have taken over the last few weeks. They are all unique in their own way and offer a place that’s perfect for clearing your mind and taking in some fresh country Northern Irish air.
Take care and keep walking!
Doors of WordPress V35
Happy Thursday everyone and welcome to another week of doors. I have a selection from three different places in Northern Ireland. Please let me know if you have a favourite. I love the last two doors, especially with the beautiful wreaths attached and I believe the home was lived in by the popular artist Colin Middleton ( a Northern Ireland landscape artist).
We have just returned from Carlingford in Ireland for a mini break and I have thee most amazing doors to show you all in the coming weeks so be sure to stay tuned. I will also write a blog showcasing Carlingford, highlighting the best things to do and see. It’s a special little town just over the border from Northern Ireland.
Enjoy the rest of your week everyone.
Doors of WordPress V32
Happy Thursday everyone and welcome to 2023. These are the first doors to be shown here on my blog this year and I thought I would showcase some doors all found in one street! It’s not often that you find a street where you appreciate every single door. I had seen this once in Sydney in Darlinghurst and now once here in Northern Ireland. As many of you will know by now, there is a quaint little town here in Northern Ireland that I absolutely adore, known as Royal Hillsborough. I thought I had seen most of the doors here, however, after having walked off the beaten track, I stumbled across a tiny street with the quaintest doors I have seen for some time. Please let me know what you think of these or if you have ever discovered a street where all the doors are as fantastic as each other.
Merry Christmas 2022
I was catching up with a good friend from Sydney at the weekend past and wanted to meet in a place that suited us both for travelling. My friend was coming from Dublin and I would be travelling from Belfast. We settled on the Ballymascanlan Hotel, just outside Dundalk. This was a one hour drive away for both us, making it a perfect spot for a lunch date.
This hotel was very easy to find from Belfast. Straight down the motorway, onto the dual carriageway towards Dundalk and then just off the roundabout towards Carlingford. I was aided with google maps but just be mindful that the mobile data may switch off, as did in my case, due to travelling from Northern Ireland to Ireland.
The hotel is very quaint, an old Victorian house in the middle of a stunning parkland. Inside was beautifully decorated, ready for Christmas. We had a three course Christmas lunch that was very tasty and really made us feel those Christmas vibes. We loved it and I will definitely be keen to return in the future. Be sure to check this place out.
Have you a favourite spot for a Christmas lunch? What do you do to feel Christmassy? Tis’ the season!
12 months and 12 photos (2022)
I love choosing 12 photos to highlight what I have experienced throughout the year and it’s a great little recap. This has been a big year with lots of changes, some good and some bad, however, I am grateful to have had a good year overall and ending 2022 on a positive note. Please feel free to have a look at my 2022 highlights below and feel free to share your highlights from the past 12 months.
Wordless Wednesday – Frosty!
10 things I have learned/remembered since being home in Northern Ireland
1 – People in Northern Ireland are EXTREMELY friendly.
2 – The cost of EVERYTHING has increased drastically since I lived here five years ago, from food, to rent, to energy bills (this one is worldwide at the moment). Everything has increased, except for wages, shocking really.
3 – It is BALTIC here in the winter. I had forgotten how cold it can be here. It is minus five degrees this morning!
4 – The pubs and restaurants here are very cosy and quaint. I have missed this. Pints of Guinness by a warm fire.
5 – Everything is so festive here at Christmas. I know it’s what you’re used to but I have really missed the cold, dark evenings, the smell of warm spices, mulled wine, hearing Christmas songs etc etc. For me it was never the same wearing shorts and T-shirts.
6 – The importance of family.
7 – The quality of television shows is pretty high here and I love the Christmas shows/movies that are available in the lead up to Christmas.
8 – We walk a lot less here. I miss doing my 15,000 steps a day in Sydney. My step count has dropped significantly since being home and that’s sad. I guess it’s the cold weather and lack of somewhere good to walk nearby.
9 – It’s dark for most of the day. I love the dark evenings but I forgot how much daylight you miss. You travel to work in the dark and drive home from work in the dark. That can be hard and we have this for the next few months.
10 – People in Northern Ireland say ‘Wee’ ALL THE TIME! Everything can be described as ‘wee’. A ‘wee’ cup of tea, put your ‘wee’ card in the ‘wee’ machine, would you like a ‘wee’ bag? I had totally forgotten how often we use that word and it’s not simply used for small items! It’s actually insane how much we use that word but lovely at the same time. You instantly know you’re home when your hear ‘wee’ being used.
Sunday Strolls : Hillsborough Castle and Gardens
Many of you here will have heard of Hillsborough from my doors posts, as there are many fantastic doors found in this quaint little village.
Hillsborough is well renowned for its character and charm but more so for its historic castle and gardens. This is the place of residence for when members of the Royal family come to stay in Northern Ireland and only very recently has Hillsborough been renamed Royal Hillsborough for that reason.
This was the first time I had visited the gardens and I was extremely excited as I had always heard how amazing they are and I have always wanted to visit here. We didn’t visit the castle today but that will be for another time. We just wanted to have a good stroll today and get some fresh air. It was made even more special as there was snow on the ground and gave the gardens a really festive and Christmassy feel.
The admission fee is £11 which is expensive enough (in my opinion) to go for a walk, however, the gardens are absolutely stunning and the castle is a true spectacle. There is also a light show featuring in the gardens at present that can be seen at night time, running until the beginning of January. It’s pretty pricey at £22 a visit so we’ll have to wait and see if we decide to return for that or not. From what I witnessed during the day today, it would be quite the display.
If you would like to read more about this wonderful place, you can take a look at the official website here. Thanks for taking a look and I hope you are all enjoying your Sunday.
Doors of WordPress V30 🎄
Happy Thursday everyone and welcome to my 30th edition of Doors of WordPress!!! This week we’re showcasing some festive inspired doors, mine are all red as that’s the colour I think of when I envisage the Christmas season. I haven’t seen too many festive doors this week but I suppose it’s still early days. I love seeing all the Christmas wreaths on the doors too, a tradition that still makes me smile when I see it, so if I see any wreaths over the next couple of weeks, I will be sure to share them.
I hope you’re all enjoying the festive season thus far. I’m just working away and enjoying the build up, the Christmas songs and mince pies. I haven’t even started Christmas shopping yet, what about you?
Doors of WordPress V25 🎃
Happy Thursday everyone. As it was Halloween this week and we are still in Autumn/Fall, I thought I would try to share my most autumnal and spooky doors. Let me know what you think and if you have a favourite.
I hope you all had a lovely Halloween if you celebrate at all. I was driving in the evening so I missed it all. I did manage to see a few fireworks in the sky though which was nice.
FOTD – Pot Marigold
Happy Friday everyone. It is another wet and wild day here in Northern Ireland. I may get used to this! Lucky we have some flowers in our garden that are pretty bright and cheery.
Have a great weekend everyone.
Doors of WordPress V24
Hi everyone and a very happy Thursday to you all. The sun is shining here in Northern Ireland after some horrendous stormy weather yesterday. I have been pretty quiet here in the blogging realm for a few weeks due to some family circumstances but I thought today would be as good a day as any to make a return, plus I love creating doors posts on a Thursday so it’s perfect timing.
I hope you have all been keeping well and adjusting to these seasonal changes wherever in the world you might be. I have been trying to keep an eye on other people’s blogs, as a means to stay in tune with what’s happening here but also for some light reading as a welcome distraction.
I hope you enjoy my selection of local doors from around Northern Ireland and please let me know if you have a favourite.
My personal favourite is number five. I love the colour of the door, the glass panels on either side, the arch around the door, the wreath on the door, I could go on and on and on. I just love this one. How about you?
Thanks so much for reading and taking a look.
All the best,
Sunday sunset – Banbridge
This sunset was taken last week at my parents home in Banbridge, Northern Ireland. Although we didn’t see the sun actually set, I loved the colours of the sky as it was setting. I especially like the way the buildings become a silhouette against the skyline.
I hope you have all had a lovely weekend. This is now almost three weeks for us being home in Northern Ireland. Where does the time go??
FOTD – Black eyed susan part 2
Happy Friday everyone! Today’s flower of the day was spotted at Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park when I was there last week. This flower really jumped out at me and I couldn’t believe it was another black eyed susan. You might remember I showed this flower last Friday but I feel that this flower looks very different from last weeks. Therefore, I thought it would be good to showcase this flower again. What do you think of this flower today? Does it look similar or different to my previous black eyed susan? I have placed the link to last week’s flower below my image.
Enjoy your weekend everyone.
WordPress Monthly Word Prompt – TRANSITION
Two things spring to mind when I see this prompt. Firstly, the image says Week of August 8 which makes me think the monthly word prompt is now weekly!? I asked WordPress about this and they stated that they are trialling more frequent word prompts. Fair enough and I think it’s a good idea, especially if you are maybe struggling to think of a blog topic.
Secondly the word prompt featured is transition which jumps out at me as I feel this is personally very appropriate at this time. I am making a huge life transition in the coming days. As many of you know already, I have been travelling a lot over the past few weeks and next week I will be heading to Northern Ireland after three years of not being able to visit home. I have packed up all my belongings and moving across the world to finally reunite with my family and friends. Whether I stay there or return to Australia remains to be seen but for now I will be concentrating on catching up with loved ones and reacquainting myself with life in Northern Ireland.
I will be keeping you all updated and sharing plenty more on my blog as the next chapter of my life commences, hopefully showcasing the best places see in Northern Ireland, Ireland and even Europe. I would like to say thank you all for your continued support and for creating such an amazing blogging environment here on WordPress.
Take care and enjoy your weekend.
Northern Ireland VS Australia
Having looked at the pros and cons for Australia in my previous post, let me take you through my pros and cons for living in Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland Pros :
– Family & friends. My absolute number one reason for moving home is seeing my family and friends and making more memories. Covid has given me a new appreciation for spending time with loved ones, especially as we haven’t seen them in person for over three years.
– The Scenery. Northern Ireland is very green and scenic. It has lots to offer in terms of sightseeing, for example, the north coast. Also I plan to visit more of Ireland as a whole and explore what is on my own doorstep.
– Europe. Northern Ireland may have left Europe (unwillingly) but we are still situated in the European continent. This means we can travel pretty much anywhere in Europe quickly and relatively cheaply, as opposed to when living in Australia. It really is amazing to have Europe in your back yard and I plan to take advantage and make the most of travelling to places in Europe in the future.
– No natural disasters. Yes the weather in Northern Ireland can be horrendous, being wet and cold almost all of the year but at least we don’t suffer the extremities such as fires, floods, earthquakes and volcanoes etc.
– The NHS. Yes the National Health Service has its fair share of problems but it is still a free health service (I know we pay through our taxes) and a pretty good one, most of the time, especially in Northern Ireland. To receive free health care for everyone is fantastic and I actually really loved working for the NHS.
– The Craic. In our country, this term means fun and good times. It can also mean sense of humour. People in Northern Ireland are great fun and have the best craic. They are also very friendly and hospitable people.
– The bright nights. In Northern Ireland it can stay bright until 11pm at night in the summer months. I took this for granted until I moved to Australia, where it never stays light past 6 or 7pm.
Northern Ireland Cons :
– The Weather. Unfortunately this has to be top of my list. The weather is pretty horrendous in Northern Ireland for a really long part of the year. From end of September until about April, it will be really cold with good chances of rain, sleet, snow and hail. They even had snow in June this year! We do have the odd good day now and again. Unfortunately we do have the most beautiful scenery but it is all weather dependent.
– Spides & Millbags. Yes most of the people in Northern Ireland are extremely friendly but we do have a minority of people known as spides and millbags. These are people who can be described as being small minded, brash, loud, still argue about religion, never leave Northern Ireland and have the worst dress sense. I, for one, do not miss these people. I’m sure every country has their fair share of people like this but in Northern Ireland, they’re a breed of their own. Most of the time you can avoid them but now and again they will leave their homes and make an appearance into your safe little world.
– Religion. Northern Ireland, sadly is still stuck in the past with regards to religion. You have Protestants and Catholics (both a Christian religion 🤷🏼♂️) still arguing about Northern Ireland and whether it should belong to Ireland or belong to the United Kingdom. I actually think it’s not even about religion anymore but more about territory. Thankfully, these people are in the minority and I don’t personally know many people who still think like this but they do still exist in Northern Ireland. Thanks to immigration these people are being diluted and the country is moving forward, albeit at a snails pace.
– The dark mornings and nights. Just like the cold and wet weather, Northern Ireland is also pretty dark for a lot of the year. You will go to work in the dark and return home in the dark. This is pretty grim to be honest. Due to this, many things do not open early, for example, it’s nearly impossible to obtain a coffee before 9am. I think I will struggle with this since living in Bondi where you can grab a coffee as early as 5.30 am.
– The Government. I don’t like talking about politics so I will just say that our government is pretty basic. They argue with each other and when one party can’t agree with another party, they just stop working altogether. They actually still get paid even though the government stops working. They take whatever rules they want from the UK and if they don’t like them, they will change them to suit their own religious agenda and beliefs.
Even writing about religion and the government in Northern Ireland makes me cranky. On the whole, Northern Ireland is a great country with lots of character and interesting people. I love being from Northern Ireland as I can have dual nationality, meaning we can carry an Irish and British passport. Northern Ireland is a unique country with lots of potential. We are really upping our game in terms of attractions, bars, restaurants, hotels and even media (think Game of Thrones). I honestly hope you all have the opportunity to visit Northern Ireland one day.
Thanks for reading my part two blog post on the pros and cons of both Australia and Northern Ireland. Do you agree or disagree with any of my points? Have you ever been to these countries or want to visit in the future?
Australia VS Northern Ireland
As I plan to move back home to Northern Ireland (at least for a few months) I thought it would be a good idea to reflect on both countries and delve into the pros and cons of living in each country. I had been thinking of these a lot over the past few months when trying to make a decision about where to live. As an expat, these are things we think about, pretty much on a daily basis, as sad as that sounds. In this post I will look at the pros and cons of Australia and in my next blog post I will look at Northern Ireland.
Australia Pros :
– The weather. It’s pretty much warm for most of the year. Winter here can be cold enough but only lasts for about three months give or take.
– The lifestyle. It’s very chilled out here in Australia, especially in Sydney where I live by the water. The sunshine makes people happy, the coastal walks, dining outdoors, exercising etc. I think just being outdoors is so good for our mental health and well-being.
– The opportunities. Australia is the land of opportunity. There is plenty of work available here and you can process quickly. Even the fact I have been teaching here has been a huge opportunity that I wouldn’t have been given back home.
– The money. The fact is, I earn a lot more as a nurse here than I ever will back home. That can be said for many jobs here. Yes the expense of living is much higher here but you can still manage to save money here and live a really fulfilling life.
– The health system. It is amazing here, with a mixture of public and private, it works really well. I feel so fortunate to be in a country with such a fantastic health system, unlike America where it costs a fortune and many people can’t afford or the NHS that is really struggling and has been for many years now.
– The activities. There is always something to do, especially in Sydney. There are an abundance of bars and restaurants, plenty of bush, beach and ocean walks, lots of experiences, seeing the sights and famous landmarks etc etc, I could go on forever here.
– The sheer size of Australia. There is also so much to see and do all over Australia, therefore, you don’t really ever need to leave Australia if you want to see somewhere new. I don’t think I realised how big Australia actually is until I lived here for some time. It is unbelievably huge with each state completely different from the next and offering so much that really is a feast for anyone living here.
Australia Cons :
– The weather. As much as I love the weather here, it can also be a negative for Australia, especially the past three years. The bush fires are becoming more aggressive, wiping out so much land and killing millions of animal species. 2019 was horrific, so I dread to think how the next bush fires will be. Then we have the other extreme, flooding. The last two years we have had the La Niña weather event, bringing catastrophic amounts of rainfall. This is also predicted to last well into next year. The only silver lining with the rain is that it prevents the bush fires. I feel also with global warming, that the weather here, sadly, will be seeing more and more extremes of weather disasters.
– The distance. Personally, this is my biggest issue. It never used to bother me before covid. I always felt that if I needed to be home, I could always hop on a flight and be home within 24 hours. However, since being in lockdown, we haven’t been home in over three years. We suddenly feel very far from home. We are literally at the other side of the word. With lockdowns, it appeared to the outside world that Australia was very much cut off from everywhere else in the world. Family and friends are very important to me and if I can’t see them, that’s a big problem.
In conclusion, you can see I have many more pros than cons. I absolutely love Australia and its people. It is a magnificent country with lots to do and great opportunities but I don’t have my family here. I feel extremely far away and for that reason, I will be going home for a few months to see how it goes.
Keep an eye on my next blog post where I will write about the pros and cons of Northern Ireland. Thanks for reading everyone and have a pleasant day.
Five years of blogging!
Wow! Another milestone hit this week for me. I have been blogging for five years now and I really feel like I have come full circle.
I started blogging when I arrived in Australia five years ago. I wanted to document my travels and the plan was initially to share my travels with those from home in Ireland. However, I soon found that when I was blogging about places in Sydney, local Sydney people were taking an interest and learning from my travel experiences. This was fantastic and really gave me a boost to keep sharing the places I had been visiting.
Now after five years, I will be heading back home to Ireland. My blog has come full circle and I now really look forward to taking my blog back home and sharing travel experiences from Ireland and Europe. We have a lot to offer in Ireland and Northern Ireland, where I will be living. I hope you continue to follow my journey and see what the other side of the world has to offer.
It hasn’t been an easy decision to move back home after five years but again I have covid to thank for that. Suddenly we feel so far away from home here in Australia. Previously I always thought I could be home within a couple of days, however, it has now been over three years since I have been home. I miss my family and friends and feel I have to take this opportunity to return home and see what the future has in store for me there. That’s not to say I will never be back to Australia. It’s not a good bye but rather a “See you later”.
I will be doing a little travelling soon before I reach home with my partner so stay tuned and hopefully I will have some really interesting places to show you on my blog.
Thank you everyone again for following my journey and I hope to keep you further entertained in the next chapter of my life.
Sunday Sunset – North Coast
Happy Sunday everyone. This sunset was taken at Portrush, along the north coast of Northern Ireland.
Hope you have all had a lovely weekend. It’s currently lashing in Sydney, a months rain in the last couple of days. Hoping it stops soon.
Doors of WordPress – Game Of Thrones Edition
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.
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!
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.
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,
St Patrick’s Day ☘️
Happy St Patrick’s Day everyone. 17th March is a day the Irish love to celebrate. We celebrate St. Patrick as he drove the snakes out of Ireland, although he also brought Christianity to the island too apparently, saving the Irish from their pagan ways 😝.
For most of us, it’s a time to celebrate being Irish or to be from the country of Ireland, including Northern Ireland. It’s a time to gather with our friends, drink lots of Guinness, wear our finest green attire and listen to traditional Irish music. It is an excuse for many to have a big breakfast and start the celebrations early. If you manage to stay out celebrating past 7pm, you have done extremely well.
This is also a day where everybody wants to be Irish. Everyone will tell you that they are Irish. “My grandmother’s aunt came from Ireland or my Dad’s great grandfather’s wife was Irish, so I must be part Irish too. We hear that a lot and in most cases I’m sure it will be true. The Irish tend to be everywhere. Years ago, Irish people had big families and many emigrated to seek a better future for their families, especially to America, Canada and Australia.
Being in Australia is a bit different from home and the traditions are a little different. I was working today but will be heading out for dinner tonight. I will be wearing green and I will be drinking Guinness. Even though it doesn’t taste as good here (they say Guinness doesn’t travel well, it’s best to drink in a country pub in Ireland, preferably Donegal 😉).
Will you be celebrating St Patrick’s Day today? Do you have a connection to Ireland? Do you have an Irish heritage? Please do let me know.
Have a great day everyone.
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,
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.
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.
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?
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
February – Belfast comes to Melbourne
March – Meet my parents in Thailand
April – 10 years later
May – Home
June – A time of reflection
July – Quality time
August – Leura
September – A personal journey
October – Wedding dress shopping
Novemeber – My cousin
December – Christmas time
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.