Sunday Sunset – Fiji

The sunset I am showing today was taken at Musket Cove in Fiji, 2018.

We were sitting in the little hut at the end of the pier for a special occasion. Such a stunning setting.

Hope you all have had a lovely Sunday!

Wayne โœŒ๐Ÿฝ

Sunday Sunsets – South Pacific

Happy Sunday everyone. If youโ€™re in Australia, I hope youโ€™re all feeling fresh as our clocks went back last night and we had that extra hour sleep โ˜บ๏ธ.

The sunsets I want to show you this week are from the Coral Sea when we travelled on a South Pacific cruise. This was a Christmas cruise and our very first time holidaying on one. It was magnificent and the sunsets we seen were unreal. We also really appreciated the clean open air as Australia was in the middle of a really horrific bush fire season and the air was so smokey that it was difficult to breathe for a few days and nights. This was December 2019. It was bad enough we were experiencing the fires but little did we know that the coronavirus pandemic was just around the corner.

Have you seen many sunsets from the middle of the ocean? It really is something spectacular and this holiday will be forever etched in my memory.

Take care everyone and enjoy your Sunday.

Wayne โœŒ๐Ÿฝ

Uluru – By air

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

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

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

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

Then when you see Uluru, itโ€™s just magnifique. Such a feast for the eyes. From the air it doesnโ€™t look as big as on land but it fairly stands out in the middle of the desert. You can also see Kata Tjuta, another rock formation about 25km away from Uluru, which is just as formidable but somehow understated.

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

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

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

Thanks for reading all,

Wayne โœŒ๐Ÿฝ

Bloganuary Day 10

I love todayโ€™s topic. Itโ€™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 – Iโ€™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. Itโ€™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 ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿผ.

Take care and stay safe,

Wayne โ˜บ๏ธ

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, itโ€™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 Iโ€™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. Itโ€™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 youโ€™re happy they youโ€™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 wonโ€™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 โ˜บ๏ธ

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 Australiaโ€™s version of the Orient Express.

This trip is on my wish list big time. Unfortunately, itโ€™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? ๐Ÿ™ˆ

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

Take care and stay safe,

Wayne โ˜บ๏ธ

12 months and 12 photos (2021)

January

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My first lockdown birthday and hopefully the last. My one wish was to see the sunrise at Bronte. It was really special ๐ŸŒ…. Iโ€™ve seen it many times but it never gets old.
September

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

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

Cheers to surviving 2021. A great day trip to Hunter Valley and a great wine tasting at Vinden Wines. Itโ€™s funny, I started the year in the Hunter and now seems fitting to complete the year here. The wine and many lockdown cocktails have certainly helped ๐Ÿ˜‰

Thanks everyone for having a read. When you look back at the year, it actually wasnโ€™t too bad. We still have our health and the hope that 2022 will be better. Stay safe and sane everyone.

Wayne โ˜บ๏ธ

Hunter Valley – in a day ๐Ÿท

Hunter Valley, NSW, an amazing place to taste some fine wines. Stunning scenery, boutique wineries, friendly people, what more could you wish for. I have been here quite a few times now and have always stayed at least two nights. I guess because itโ€™s quite far away and itโ€™s the ideal place to have a mini vacation. So when I was asked by my friends and work colleagues to join them for a day trip, I was excited to see what we could experience in a day. At least with the 2.5 hour drive each way, we could chat and catch up with each other ๐Ÿ˜Š.

We had booked a day trip with Teds Tours. A company that specialises in wine tours and has a very friendly mentos. You can click https://www.tedstours.com.au/hunter-valley-tours/tour-packages for more information. Our driver Kris was amazing. He was a great laugh and very accommodating, picking us up from Wolli Creek and taking us there and back, whilst driving us also around three different vineyards and also to the pub for lunch. Nothing was a bother for him and he managed to keep us all within the time limits, no easy feat when everyone has had a few wines ๐Ÿคช.

The gang ready to head off with Teds Tours

The three vineyards we had the pleasure of visiting were: Saltire ๐Ÿด๓ ง๓ ข๓ ณ๓ ฃ๓ ด๓ ฟ, Vinden Wines and Tatler. All three were good on there own merit, however, Saltire really stuck out for us. The scenery was unreal. Delicious wines, fantastic setting, a Scottish heritage and the service was extremely warm and inviting. All in all, this vineyard set the bar high and the staff had a really good knowledge and appreciation of their products ๐Ÿท.

Saltire ๐Ÿด๓ ง๓ ข๓ ณ๓ ฃ๓ ด๓ ฟ
Vinden Wines

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

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

Thanks for reading guys, take care and stay safe.

Wayne โ˜บ๏ธ

Jacaranda season ๐Ÿ’œ

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

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

These trees, presumably because of their attractive purple/blueish colour have become increasingly popular with social media people, all vying for that perfect snap or selfie. This is great to see people taking such an interest (me included), however, it can prove difficult at times to take some pictures without any other people photo bombing ๐Ÿ™ˆ.

I will show you some of my Jacarandas snaps over the last few years and where they were taken. The good thing is, there are lots of places that Jacarandas can be found ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿผ.

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

McDougall Street, Kirribilli
McDougall Street, Kirribilli

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

Como


Croydon

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

I hope you all have the chance to see a Jacaranda this season and if not, at least you can see them here ๐Ÿค—. Thanks for taking an interest in my love for the Jacaranda tree!!

Take care & stay safe,

Wayne โœŒ๐Ÿฝ

1 night in Manly โ˜บ๏ธ

When you need a break but canโ€™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. Thereโ€™s always time to catch the next ferry ๐Ÿ˜‰. 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 โ˜บ๏ธ

So this in itself would be a novelty for us to stay here and not have to worry about catching the ferry home. Thereโ€™s lots to do at Manly and we still hadnโ€™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. Itโ€™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 ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿผ

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

The beaches and walks are stunning. We didnโ€™t do any bush walks this time but theyโ€™re really worth checking out.

Is anyone else planning a night away? Whereโ€™s your favourite place to travel for a weekend break?

Thanks everyone for reading!

Keep safe,

Wayne โ˜บ๏ธ

E.G. Waterhouse National Camellia Gardens

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

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

Take care and thanks for reading ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿผ

Wayne ๐Ÿ˜Š

Sydney lockdown is officially over ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿผ

We made it guys! After 106 days we are now officially out of lockdown. Boy it feels goodโ€ฆbut also a bit nerve wrecking. Itโ€™s so nice to have our freedom again, seeing people out and about, hustle and bustle everywhere. However, you canโ€™t help but think, the virus is still out there. Iโ€™m still in favour of social distancing and trying to be as safe as possible. Although Iโ€™m double vaccinated, Iโ€™m still keen to avoid contracting coronavirus ๐Ÿ˜ฌ.

People of Sydney, or anywhere in the world that has lived through a lockdown (Iโ€™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 didnโ€™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, Iโ€™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 wasnโ€™t meant to be and thatโ€™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 couldnโ€™t wait to get back to training and seeing friends. Finally I could lift a heavy weight again ๐Ÿ‹๏ธโ€โ™‚๏ธ and maybe feel the burn the next day ๐Ÿ˜….

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 โœˆ๏ธ.

Thanks for reading guys and stay safe ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿผ

Wayne ๐Ÿ˜œ

Last weekend of lockdown!

As much as I love my lockdown 5km radiusโ€ฆI cannot wait to spread my wings a little further ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿผ. Sydney siders we are almost there after 15 weeks of lockdown ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿผ

Sydney Lockdown: My 5km radius

Bronte Rock Pool

This week we enter our 15th week of lockdown and hopefully the last, as restrictions will ease here next week. As you may or may not be aware, we have been restricted to moving within 5km of where we live or our local government area. I can honestly say, I have exhausted my 5km radius, having walked almost every area possible ๐Ÿคฃ. I want to display a few photos to show you my 5km radius from when lockdown here began and you will see for yourself how diverse a small area in Sydney can be ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿผ.

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

Bondi Beach

2 – Centennial Park

3 – Double Bay

4 – Rose Bay

5 – Hermitage Foreshore Walk

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

6 – Paddington

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

Take care and stay safe everyone.

Wayne โ˜บ๏ธ

Lockdown 2.0

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

With the vaccination rate being one of the lowest in the world, this was bound to happen. Covid cases have jumped dramatically from 1 known case. The only way to curb the increase is to go into another lockdown, maintain strict social distancing and wear a mask. Other essential things to practice include hand washing, coughing and sneezing into your elbow and wearing your mask correctly ๐Ÿคฆ๐Ÿผโ€โ™‚๏ธ.

The number one thing people can do here in Australia is to become vaccinated. It hasnโ€™t helped that the media has continually reported on the negative aspects of the vaccines, for example, the blood clot incidents from AstraZeneca. Scare mongering people and creating a fear of the vaccine. Every medicine/vaccine will have some side effects. The odds of receiving life threatening side effects are minimal (yes of course there is a risk with anything). If a person was not vaccinated, would said person have worse outcomes with receiving the virus itself? Who knows ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿผโ€โ™‚๏ธ.

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

Anyway. Thatโ€™s my little rant ๐Ÿคฃ. I hope everyone will abide by the rules, become vaccinated, stay safe and look after each other. This may get worse before it gets better. I am still forever grateful to be in the position we are in here in Australia and feel thankful to have a premier who has done good by NSW #gladys ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ

12 months and 12 photos (2020)

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

JANUARY

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

FEBRUARY

It was AMAZING to have family here from Ireland. When friends and family come to Australia and love it like you do, it’s priceless ๐Ÿฅฐ

MARCH

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

APRIL

Celebrating the main man’s big birthday. We were in lockdown so all holiday plans were cancelled. However, we had a lovely party at home Mexican style ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฝ ๐ŸŒต

MAY

All gyms are closed. Home workouts ensued. They were fun enough but I lost a lot of muscle mass. Sad times after all the work put in but at least I maintained my fitness and you ALWAYS feel better after a workout ๐Ÿ‹๐Ÿผโ€โ™€๏ธ ๐Ÿค—

JUNE

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

JULY

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

AUGUST

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

SEPTEMBER

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

OCTOBER

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

NOVEMBER

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

DECEMBER

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

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

Keep safe everyone,

Wayne โ˜บ๏ธ

Malabar Headland National Park

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

Maroubra Beach
Entering the Malabar Headland National Park

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

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

All the best,

W ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

10 reasons to have a cruise vacation.

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

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

1 – Not too pricey

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

2 – Amazing food

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

img_6321

img_6353

img_6108

3 – You are NEVER bored!

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

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset
Cocktails by the pool. We were there on school holidays, so lots of kids. Fortunately they do have an adults only pool too.

img_5823
There is a theatre onboard. They have different shows: comedy nights, musicals, game shows etc and there are 2 sittings. A great way to spend a couple of hours in the evening.

img_5871
The staff will leave you an itinerary every evening for the next days activities. The ship also provides an app for your phone that gives you every activity as it’s happening, the perfect way to plan your day and night.

img_5888
Napkin folding classes – surprisingly fun and popular.

img_5889
The promenade of the ship was home to many activities. You can shop here in the many boutique shops and there is a cool wee traditional style pub. You can grab a coffee along here and there are always snacks on the go for that in between meals period. Perfect if you need a slice of pizza after a night out! From the bridge the entertainments crew will provide entertainment aslo including the very popular zumba. Music is also played here on certain nights if you fancy a dance, it feels like you’re at a really cool street party!!

img_6114
Christmas carols in the promenade.

img_5875
One of our many strolls around the ship.

img_5896
Ocean views at the gym.

img_5967
Representing my gym onboard.

img_6279
Drinks with a view.

4 – Day trips

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

Noumea

img_5935

img_5939

img_5949

img_5965

Mystery Island

img_6024

img_6026

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

img_6065

Marรฉ

img_6163

img_6166

img_6182

img_6192

Lifou

img_6251

img_6248

DCIM100GOPROG0030729.JPG Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

 

5 – People you meet

img_6287
Perfect holiday with my partner in crime.

img_6326
Beautiful people.

img_6382
Such a pleasure meeting the big man.

img_6390
Great memories with even greater people.

6 – The Staff

img_5992
The stunning cruise director! Loved Michelle, amazing at what she does.

img_6357
Loved these guys, amazing staff.

img_6385
Big love for Wilbert.

img_5999
Our housekeepers were fab! They knew how to make us laugh.

7 – The bars

img_6275
The Viking – perfect viewing spot.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset
Views (nice to see the pool being cleaned).

img_6316
Drinks were unreal at The Tavern.

img_6284
Our new fave, brandy and baileys.

img_6361

Our most favourite bar – Schooner Bar.

8 – Sunsets

These were just stunning.

img_5814

img_6378

img_6379

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

 

9 – An easy holiday

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

img_5796
Ready for sail away from Sydney, took no time at all to board, see our room, get a drink and head to the party!

img_6077
Hopping on and off the cruise to the islands was very straightforward and quick. The tender boats would take you over to the islands when the cruise couldn’t get closer for docking.

img_6081
There’s plenty of quiet spots around the cruise if you want some down time.

img_6309

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

10 – The atmosphere/ambiance

img_5860
We really wanted that Christmas vibe and boy did we get it. This cruise was super Christmassy.

img_5858
We loved that you could dress casually but also have the opportunity to dress smart on occasion.

img_5880
Such a chilled out vibe, being in the middle of the ocean is really special.

img_5972

img_6146

img_6283
Christmas vibes.

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

Thanks everyone for reading.

W ๐Ÿ™‚

 

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

L E U R A

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

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

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

Flemish Flavours

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

Bygone Beautys Treasured Teapot Museum

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

Leura Cascades

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

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

Two places to check out for dinner:

1- Miss Lilian Tea House

This is authentic Asian casual dining. If you want something tasty but not overly fancy or overpriced, this place is the ticket. Food was delicious and the decor is pretty funky with a stress on birdcages. It’s in Katoomba but a bit of a walk to so we travelled by taxi here. Definitely worth the fare ๐Ÿ˜‰

2- Leura Garage

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

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

Thanks for reading,

W ๐Ÿ˜Š

Northern Ireland: An alternative guide – part 2 โœŒ๐Ÿฝ

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 ๐Ÿ˜‰.

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 ยฃ15 for a cocktail and ยฃ8 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 ๐Ÿ˜. 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 ๐ŸŽท ๐ŸŽถ . 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 ๐Ÿ˜‹ ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿผโ€โ™‚๏ธ. 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 ๐Ÿ˜Š

Autumn in Sydney ๐Ÿ‚๐Ÿ

Hi there! Welcome to my latest blog post. I have been laying low for the past couple of months as I have been travelling a lot and need to build the funds back up again. In addition, we are going home at the end of this week!!! Exciting and definitely worth it, being sensible for the last couple of months ๐Ÿ˜†. Nevertheless, laying low in Sydney as autumn arrives is not too shabby at all. It has been really enjoyable to take it easy, have lots of home cooking, working out in the gym, early nights and wearing some warmer clothes. Therefore, I thought it might be the perfect time to write about activities to carry out when in the autumn season. Things to do that do not require a lot of money or effort. Appropriate for when trying to save for the next holiday ๐Ÿ˜‰.

1 – Spice Alley

I had always heard of this place and people always had a good word to say about it. I had assumed this was a restaurant. I had no idea that it is in fact what the name suggests, an alley way!! It is an alley tucked away in Sydney’s CBD (very close to Central Station) that offers an array of Asian cuisine. There are numerous kitchens in the style of street food stalls and you could be forgiven for thinking that you are entering a street taken right out of the Asian continent. It is a fantastic place, full of life and the smells of tasty Asian cuisine. This is definitely a place to check out for some authentic street food and something a little different and quirky. A very ‘Instagrammable’ place too (this is a thing now). ๐Ÿ’๐Ÿผโ€โ™‚๏ธ You can see the types of food available here.

2 – Gin Lane

If you want to try an array of different gin concoctions then this is the place for you. As part of Spice Alley this place is also a feast for the eyes. Set in an old historic house, the atmosphere is perfect for treating yourself to something a little fancy. The taste, presentation and uniqueness of these gins/gin cocktails is exquisite. The outdoor sitting is pretty cool and provides the sense of sitting in an old backstreet of 18th century London. The happy hours are daily and at different times depending on the day of the week. Find out more at the Spice Alley website above. Unfortunately I don’t have a decent photo to show you as it was quite dark inside and I didn’t want the flash on my phone to illuminate the whole room ๐Ÿ™ˆ.

3 – Vaucluse House

I have always had a love/fascination with old stately homes. Back home in Ireland we have heaps but it was cool to be able to find some here (albeit not as old ๐Ÿ™Š). Living in Bondi, I wanted to check out Vaucluse House as it’s pretty close being in the Eastern suburbs too. We took a tour of the home and thoroughly enjoyed the inside, informative knowledge. It was interesting to learn the history of the home and gardens that had once been owned and lived in by the Wentworth family. I won’t go into the details but it is worth checking out here. The gardens surrounding the mansion are really impressive and the tea rooms are extremely quaint if you are in the mood for a scone or something more substantial ๐Ÿ˜‹.

4 – Seven Shillings Beach

After visiting Vaucluse House we took a short bus ride to a beach in the Eastern suburbs that we had not seen before. It’s called Seven Shillings Beach and can be found by walking through Blackburn Gardens at Double Bay (so many names!!). The gardens aren’t that big but are quite pretty and lead to this spectacular beach. I couldn’t believe that I had never heard of this place, let alone see it. It’s a really cool beach as it offers an enclosure for swimming in the sea called Murray Rose Pool. A walkway takes you out to the sea, almost like a jetty but in the form of a walkway and back again to the beach. A really amazing spot to relax with city views in the near distance. There is also a cafe situated here for food with a view. called Red Leaf Cafe. Perfect if you forget your picnic! We cannot wait to return here ๐Ÿ˜.

5 – Angel Place

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

6 – Lavender Bay

This place was a find by chance for me. I was strolling around Milsons Point over in North Sydney when I came across this beautiful bay and gardens. Here you can find Wendy’s Secret Garden, apparently Sydney’s worst kept secret ๐Ÿ™Š๐Ÿคฃ. Here you can find many native flower species, stunning flowers and impressive views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It is a simple garden but I found myself strolling around here for ages, it’s so tranquil and feels like a safe haven from the busy every day life in Sydney. You can read more about this garden here and find out why it was created by Wendy.

Thanks a lot for taking the time out to read my blog. Sydney remains an amazing city with so much to see and do, not only in summer but also heading into Autumn ๐Ÿ‚.

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

Take care all,

W ๐Ÿ˜Š

Taveuni ๐ŸŒบ

Taveuni – The garden island of Fiji. Home to the famous Tagimoucia flower and the international date line. How lucky are we, to have been able to spend time on this wonderful island. Some of you may remember I won a trip to Fiji last year with the help of Fiji Airways. It just so happened that we were also already in Fiji when we heard the news. We were delighted to be able to return to Fiji and use this trip to visit Taveuni. This has been a dream of ours for a while as we have heard many, many great things from our good friend who is from the island.

I want to provide an insight to Taveuni and highlight a couple of the main sights that need to be seen and experienced. You travel to Taveuni by plane or boat, although the boat will take a long time, around 14-16 hours. By plane it takes about an 1 hour 25 minutes. The views from the plane are spectacular and the size of the plane is pretty small, making it a very unique and exhilarating ride, though you feel completely at ease.

When you arrive in Taveuni you will first be amazed at how small the airport is, yet full of character and friendly locals waiting to greet you. This is when you first witness the beauty of the island, the trees, the colours and its warmth.

We were able to chill out for the first day and gather our bearings of the island. We explored the shops, villages, took in the scenery and landscape as well as relaxing at the beach. We called into Tramonto restaurant for supplies (this would become our favourite place to hang out in the evenings) and check out the amazing ocean views. The staff here are the friendliest people that you will ever meet, the food is exceptional (especially the chilli sauce) and the live music at the weekend is pretty special. You will be dancing for sure.

Food stalls with roti parcels (a must buy, we bought them all ๐Ÿ˜)

Fiji Gold – best beer ever ๐Ÿ˜Š

View from Tramonto restaurant

1 – Waitavala Natural Rock Waterslide

This natural waterslide is a must see and do when in Taveuni. The locals have been sliding down this for years. Try sitting down or even standing up if you’re brave enough, many of the kids can be seen doing this. It can be tricky to find the slide, about 20 minutes from Waiyevo. You can hire a guide if you don’t know the area, luckily for us we had our friends to guide us. It can be slippy enough to reach the slide, especially if it rains. It was lashing when we went. It certainly adds to the sense of adventure if nothing else.

At the end of the slide is a rock pool, perfect for swimming and cooling down in.

On our way to the waterslide

2 – Tavoro Waterfalls

Taveuni is famous for its waterfalls. This island receives a lot of rainfall annually and creates some of the most scenic and luscious landscapes. Tavoro – part of Bouma National Heritage Park consists of 3 waterfalls, the 1st of which is the biggest and easiest to reach. There is a small fee to visit the waterfalls, slightly more if you’re not a local. The walk to the waterfalls is stunning, passing through what seems like a never ending secret garden. Lots of green, beautiful flowers and many palm trees. It is really something else and when you come across the 1st waterfall you will be gobsmacked. It is out of this world. I honestly have never seen anything quite like it. A definite movie moment. We stayed here for a couple of hours and decided against visiting the other 2 waterfalls today. We swam in the water and jumped off rocks behind the waterfall (make sure you make a big jump as there are rocks close to the edge!). This place has to be seen to be believed.

3 – Korolevu Island

This small island lies off the coast of Taveuni in the Somosomo Strait. There is absolutely nothing on it and most importantly, no other people!! We hired a small motor boat and driver to take us there. The journey was exciting and pretty quick. We packed a BBQ, food and drinks for the trip. When you reach the island you will be blown away by its sheer natural beauty. We were ecstatic to realise we had the island to ourselves (when does that ever happen these days?!). The water is a beautiful clear shade of blue. The sand is white and clean and the green colours of the trees makes this island a true paradise. We were so fortunate to be here alone and have some quality time together, swimming, cooking, chatting, relaxing and really just appreciating the day we were having. You just cannot take these kind of experiences for granted. Once in a lifetime moments that will never be forgotten. Ps. Just be sure to take your rubbish home with you to ensure this island remains unspoiled.

You can swim and walk around the whole island with ease

Our very own cookery class

Quality time ๐Ÿ’›

4 – Lavena Coastal Walk

This also forms part of the Bouma National Heritage Park. This is another route to reach the 2 other waterfalls that I previously mentioned. This trail takes you along the Taveuni coastline through villages and rainforest. This walk is usually relatively straight forward. However, for us the rain was very heavy and we managed to get lost on more than 1 occasion. lucky for us some of the locals loaned us a couple of umbrellas. Failing that you can use banana leaves for cover.

My advice would be to hire a guide if you don’t know the area. You pay and sign in before starting, however, the office had closed by the time of our return. Therefore, no one would know if we would make it back or not. I did find this a bit daunting as the walk was tricky enough. If you managed to get lost like we did, the walk can become scary and uncertain. What should be a 1.5 hour walk each way, became a 3 hour trek one way for us ๐Ÿ™ˆ. You will also have to cross a river with a rope across to try help you. I’m not sure if the rope actually helped but it did provide a sense of security, be it a false one ๐Ÿคฃ. The river has big boulders so just be careful not to over on your ankle! To avoid this, you can take a boat. We were trying to be adventurous. On a positive note, you really do get a sense of adventure and you feel great after completion as you feel you have really overcome something pretty big.

Reaching the waterfall is pretty spectacular. It’s really refreshing to submerge yourself into the water after the long trek. The water is beautiful. Swim up to the waterfall and you will be able to see the other one just out of plain sight to the left hand side. Unfortunately we didn’t stay too long as we had to make the return journey before it became too dark.

This trip is definitely worth a try, maybe just on a drier day and with the aid of a guide. Suitable footwear would be advantageous as our flip flops/thongs ended up lost and we had to walk barefoot (although very liberating). Seeing the locals, their way of life, the livestock and their homes is really special and the people here are extremely friendly. Even helping us across the river at one point ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿผ.

Feeling fresh before the trek starts ๐Ÿ˜…

Even the streams could be difficult to cross ๐Ÿ™Š

Gorgeous coastline

This river was not as easy as it looks to cross

We were delighted to have survived ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿผ

These were the few excursions we managed to fit into a few days in Taveuni. There is still much more we want to do in the future so I guess we will be returning at some point. The highlight of the trip for me was the warmth and love of the people living here, that really made us feel so welcomed. The bonds you make with people on these kind of trips is extraordinary and the best craic is had at every opportunity. Taveuni, we love you ๐Ÿ˜˜.

Be sure to check out this amazing island, it is one for the bucket list.

Thanks for reading!

W ๐Ÿ’›

Cremorne Reserve ๐Ÿ’ฆ๐ŸŒธ

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

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

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

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

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

Having finished the walk and returned to the wharf, we took the path to the lighthouse. I am honestly so glad we were able to see this. I have to say, I think this is my favourite lighthouse that I have seen to date and I have seen a lot. It’s the sheer slightness of it, it’s surroundings and the quaintness that makes it stand out for me. It is like something taken from a movie. Maybe I’m a bit over the top but I really thought it was magnificent ๐Ÿ™ˆ๐Ÿคฃ.

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

Thanks for reading!

W ๐Ÿ˜Š

9 things to do when visiting Melbourne ๐ŸŒƒ๐Ÿฅ‚๐Ÿพ๐Ÿ‡

Hi there everyone and Happy New Year. I thought I would use my 1st blog of 2019 to provide a run down of things to do in Melbourne when you have more than a few days. This was my 3rd trip to Melbourne and I have yet to blog about this amazing city. Previously I have visited some amazing bars/restaurants, seen some incredible art and frequented some mighty fine vine yards nearby. However, it was great to be able to spend a good amount of time here, especially in summer and experience new things that Melbourne has to offer. Lucky for us our friends made pretty good tour guides, having packed in a lot for us to see and do within 10 days (not to mention celebrating the holiday season).

Sometimes too much information included in lists of things to see and do can become tiresome, so I will just keep things brief so as not to bore you. I will show you through pictures, the trips that we made and give a short overview, so that if you happen to visit or live in Melbourne, you may wish to check them out also ๐Ÿ˜Š.

1 – Holey Moley Golf Club โ›ณ๏ธ

This is a mini golf club with a lot of fun. Think crazy golf but indoors and with bar service. Each hole is designed with a crazy theme that brings humour and life to it whilst drawing you in with your camera for a snap or 2. The fact that you can bring your drinks around the course with you is pretty cool and you end up at the Caddyshack Bar. Definitely a must do, especially if it rains. You can read all about it here.

2 – Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria

These gardens are stunning for a walk around, providing great views of the city and numerous areas where you can sit for a picnic. It’s pretty cool to be in the city but be surrounded by greenery. We were extremely lucky to have taken part in the “punting on the lake”, a surprise from our friends. You are taken on a tranquil cruise around the lake with a guided tour, seeing the islands surrounding the lake and all the gardens wildlife and plants. It’s a really stunning way of seeing the gardens and we were lucky enough to have brought on our own champagne for the occasion ๐Ÿฅ‚๐Ÿพ. I can’t recommend this enough and the staff are extremely friendly and knowledgeable of the gardens.

3 – Entrecรดte

This is a Parisian steakhouse and cafรฉ in South Yarra and is totally worth a visit. The thing that really pulled us here was the jazz band…and they sing in French! Our favourite. Plus we had heard they offer some killer rosรฉ wines ๐Ÿ˜‰. The jazz band, La Nuit Blanche was fantastic. We thoroughly enjoyed listening to the music. The food was delicious and the ambiance was just on point. Sitting in the little terrace/garden, listening to jazz and sipping on rosรฉ wine in the sunshine = blissful Sundays โ˜บ๏ธ.

4 – Albert Park

This is a great park only 3km from the city. It surrounds a large lake and is a great spot for walking (with or without a dog), cycling, sailing and rowing. It provides a really stunning view of the city behind the lake. The walking track is 5km in distance and there are spots where you can stop for a picnic or BBQ. You can also see a good amount of black swans and plenty of ducks.

5 – Mornington Peninsula

If you leave Melbourne and drive south east for an hour through the state of Victoria, you will enter the Mornington Peninsula. This is a very beautiful coastal spot with Port Phillip to the left. There is lots to see and do with many little holiday towns and beaches that are both sheltered and open-sea.

We stopped at Cape Schanck which is the most southern part of Mornington Peninsula. Apparently here is where you can breathe in the freshest air, blown straight in from the Antarctic! To get here it is a quare walk through the Mornington Peninsula National Park. A really stunning walk but we wary of the many, many steps. Cape Schanck is beautiful, with some rock pools located there too but it is quite rocky terrain to go and have a good look. It is definitely worth the effort. There is also a lighthouse here that is infamous to Cape Schanck and has been here since 1859, as well as a lighthouse museum.

There are numerous vineyards situated in Mornington Peninsula that are worth a visit if you love wine tasting. We visited 3 different vineyards and each of them were sensational in their own ways:

โ€ข Montalto Vineyard and Olive Grove – delicious Chardonnay (and I usually hate Chardonnay).

โ€ข Even Keel/Polperro – great to sit outside with a glass of wine by the vines

โ€ข Rare Hare – great spot for lunch

6 – Ferry from Sorrento to Queenscliff โ›ด

This is the car and ferry service that crosses Port Phillip Bay from Sorrento to Queenscliff. We crossed here in order to continue our journey towards the Great Ocean Road. It’s impressive being able to drive your car onto the ferry. Once aboard you can exit your car and walk around freely. There is a shop and bar onboard with comfortable seating. However, it’s pretty special to stand outside as the ferry sails, often you can see dolphins swimming alongside too!

7 – The Great Ocean Road

For me, this is the trip I have always associated with Melbourne and have always wanted to do it. I have seen many pictures over the years and to be honest, it doesn’t disappoint. The Great Ocean Road was built to commemorate the sailors and soldiers of the 1st world war. The drive along this road is spectacular with beautiful ocean views and many places where you can stop and take photos. We happened to drive on a cloudy day and the views were still spectacular. The main aim of the drive for us was to see the 12 apostles at the Port Campbell National Park. To read all about the apostles you can click here. When you reach the apostles you will not be disappointed. There are a few different locations to view the apostles so make sure you check them all out. There is a map printed at the visitors centre to help you out. Words can’t even describe how amazing this landscape is, so sure to visit soon, as the apostles are subject to some severe weather erosion.

8 – Easey’s Diner

So back into the city of Melbourne and you will find a really cool and trendy diner. You have grab a burger in a tram on a rooftop! Only in Melbourne! Staff are super friendly, food is amazing and you can see great views of the city. The hotdog topped with macaroni cheese is the business.

9 – Melbourne Museum

If you happen to have a rainy day in the city, where better to go than check out the local museum. Melbourne Museum was even better than we had anticipated and we spent a good few hours there. It has everything from dinosaurs to an Australian wildlife exhibition to the history of Melbourne (extremely interesting) to the displays of the Myers Christmas windows. Really worth checking out.

Ok readers so that’s my 9 things to check out in and around Melbourne. Hopefully it will be of interest and you can check them out sometime. There is still so much more to learn about this amazing city!!!

Thanks so much for reading.

W ๐Ÿ˜Š

Sculpture by the Sea

Hey everyone. This blog post will be short and sweet but I just really want to highlight such an amazing event. Thisย is one of Sydneyโ€™s most popular events, Sculpture by the Sea. It is a free annual event and is situated along the coastal walk from Bondi to Tamarama. The area showcases 100 sculptures by artists from all around the world.ย The event is on for 3 weeks in Spring, this year finishing on the 4th November. It is the biggest yearly sculpture exhibition in the world and although a free event, people are encouraged to donate some money at the end of the walk to help with costs.

It attracts around 500,000 visitors so expect it to be crazy busy. It is best not to go at the weekends. We tried to go on a Sunday afternoon and it was disastrous . It is hard enough to see the sculptures with so many people, let alone take a good photograph. We returned on a Sunday morning at 6am and it was much better. I’d say on a weekday would also be not as busy.

The event has taken place since 1997 and really encapsulates the imagination of Sydney and its visitors. It is a really unique event and 100% worth a visit if you are in Sydney at that time of year. We thoroughly enjoyed it and appreciate the amount of work people put into this incredible event. You can see a few of my favourite sculptures below.

Cheers,

W ๐Ÿ˜Š

Fiji baby ๐Ÿ’›

I don’t even know where to start with this holiday to Fiji. It was one of those really epic trips away that you just wish didn’t have to end. I have had so many people commenting on the photos about how amazing Fiji looks and it is true, it is absolutely stunning (the photographs don’t even do it justice!!). Lots of people are also wanting to know where we stayed and can I offer any recommendations. I hope I can share some insight into this amazing country and encourage others to go and visit. Fiji, unbeknownst to me, is made up of around 300 islands, therefore, I can only speak of the areas that I have experienced.

We had traveled to Fiji many years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it as a couple. However, this time was much more different, as we were heading to Fiji with our native Fijian friends and had already met a few others before arriving to Fiji. I cannot stress how amazing it is to know people from the area, whereby, doors will be opened that you never even knew existed.

HILTON FIJI BEACH RESORT & SPA

Having left Nadi (pronounced Nandi) airport, our first port of call was to the Hilton Hotel, located on 2.5 km of beach on Denarau Island. It is only a short taxi ride from the airport. This luxurious hotel offers floor to ceiling windows, and your own balcony, from which you will see spectacular ocean and beach views. There are 9 swimming pools including 2 adults only pools. The resort itself is stunning, rooms are comfortable and offer that tropical holiday vibe. Staff are extremely friendly and helpful. It is a HUGE complex so a shuttle service runs continuously to take you from your room to any other location within the complex. The pool areas and views are really extraordinary, especially when he weather is good (unfortunately not for us on this occasion ๐Ÿ™ˆ).

Following our stay here, we made our way (through the thunderstorm!) to the next location.

MUSKET COVE ISLAND RESORT

To get to Musket Cove we took a ferry service from Nadi to the island, just beside Plantation Island. The trip takes about 45 mins to an hour and provides stunning scenery of ocean and landscape. On arrival to the island, be that Musket Cove or Plantation Island, you will receive a welcome like nothing you have seen before. It is the warmest, friendliest and most heartfelt welcome I have ever experienced. The staff from the hotels will greet you as the boat draws near the pier. They sing and give the biggest smiles. You feel very privileged to be in their company and be welcomed to their island. You cannot help but smile and get that warm fuzzy feeling ๐Ÿ˜Š.

Plantation Island

Musket Cove Island Resort

Stepping off the boat you will normally be given a shell necklace as a welcome gift and we also received fresh coconut juice and hot face cloths. These little touches really go a long way ๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿผ. Here we stayed in our own villas. These are designed beautifully, are extremely quaint and provide that welcoming island vibe. From the furniture to the decor and pictures, to the views and the little extra touches, these villas feel like being in paradise. The villas are situated along the lagoon or the white sandy beach. The lagoon views are stunning and you can even jump in and swim here if you so wish! Not that you need to as there are 2 swimming pools in close proximity, with 1 being a stones throw from our villa ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป. All accommodation offers traditional and rustic Fijian decor and a separate living area, with some offering a private pool, hot tub, or fully equipped kitchen. There are 2 bars, a restaurant and a day spa.

The 2 bars are quite different, 1 is a bar and bistro, offering ร  la Carte Fijian cuisine and the other is a more informal bar – Ratu Nemani Island Bar is situated more outdoors and provides spectacular lagoon and beach views.

Ratu Nemani Island Bar ๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿผ

This spot was truly magnificent! Not only because we had many new and old friends to enjoy our time with but also because the location is truly breathtaking, with super friendly and accommodating staff. This place will hold special memories for not only me but my friends also and we would whole heartedly NOT hesitate to return to this fabulous location in the future!!

Furthermore, we took a day trip to the infamous Cloud 9 – a pontoon in the middle of the ocean. This is Fiji’s only 2 level floating platform with a cool little bar and pizzeria, surrounded by turquoise blue water and picturesque views. I honestly have never seen water quite like it. This place is magical ๐Ÿ’ซ. Good music, vibes, staff and the option to dive/jump/belly flop into the water to cool off, swim around or snorkel until your heart’s content ๐Ÿ . This is well worth the trip if staying close by. The boat trip to the pontoon is great craic too…expect lots of sprays of water and your bum to be smacking off theseat ๐Ÿคฃ!!

THE FIJI ORCHID

Our last stop was a short stay close to Nadi Airport, however, this isn’t your typical nearby airport hotel. This place can be described as a sanctuary ๐Ÿ˜‡ – where you can relax and refresh before or after a trip to the Fijian islands. For me, I felt like I had entered a tropical garden/rainforest. It is surrounded by luscious greenery and numerous plant species (namely Orchids), which were all new to me. It is simply beautiful. You really experience that sense of calm and serenity, a place where you can unwind and reflect as soon as you enter the vicinity.

The Fiji Orchid was once the home to Hollywood actor Raymond Burr. It has since been converted to a stunning lounge, bar and restaurant. The accommodation is in the form of bures. A bure is the Fijian word for a wood and straw hut, something quite similar to a cabin. However, these are luxurious, completely out of this world. If you are seeking an extravagant stay within a tropical garden environment, then this is the setting for you! It also boasts a really stunning swimming pool and lounge area in a serene backdrop – a complete contrast from the usual beach hotel spots.

Also, nearby, is the town of Lautoka. Here you experience and witness Fiji in its every day traditional life. It provides an amazing market, boasting various foodstuffs, fresh fruit and vegetables and even hand crafted gifts to take home and help you remember the wonderful memories you will have made. For any traveller, this is a real gem – the opportunity to escape from all the other tourists and bask in the hustle and bustle of real Fiji life.

The Fiji Orchid is most definitely another place I will have to frequent again. If you want time out, privacy and exclusiveness, this little haven is right up your Fiji Orchid street.

To conclude, I have simply detailed where we stayed – in 3 very different locations in Fiji. This country has so much to offer and I have only begun to scratch the surface. If you have ever thought, “I wonder what Fiji is like?” – go and experience it. You will not be disappointed. I look forward to my next trip here soon. My only difficulty is the emptiness you feel when you depart Fiji and return to your everyday life ๐Ÿ™ˆ๐Ÿคฃ.

Thanks for reading, Bula Vinaka! ๐ŸŒธ

W ๐Ÿ˜Š

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑