This is another tough cookie. I have had so many amazing days that I have lived throughout my life thus far. From my wedding, to receiving my permanent residency in Australia, to becoming a nurse, to passing my driving licence etc etc. However, the one day that sticks out in my mind, where I was so happy all day long and bursting with joy, was way back in 2017. I had just returned from an around the world trip in six days!!!
I had planned a world trip that would last for a year. I was going backpacking with my good friend and three months prior to departing, I had just fallen in love with my partner, my first real relationship.
My friend decided against travelling and I thought ‘I can do this on my own’. Off I headed after a very emotional goodbye with my partner and many epic leaving parties from my friends, family and my two jobs.
I traveled to New York for a couple of days and stayed with my friend there, before heading to my next stop in Boston. I was so sad every day being away from my partner. I was calling him every day and wishing we could be together. After six days I called my parents for advice and they advised to come home immediately. That was all I needed to hear. I stormed straight to the airport to book the next flight home. I was on standby and luckily for me there was one flight left and it was in business class but they would just charge me economy! I was over the moon!
Eight hours later I arrived back home to Ireland. My partner collected me and it was the BEST feeling ever, walking towards each other in the airport arrivals, smiling from ear to ear, a very ‘Love Actually’ moment, if you have ever seen the movie! This was definitely one of my best and most memorable days 😊.
Bloganuary day 15 – one of my biggest fears was moving home to Northern Ireland from Sydney, Australia. It is extremely scary leaving a good life in a country you love, with a good job and lots of friends. I conquered my fear by reminding myself why I moved home in the first place, for family. Furthermore, there are lots of positives to living in Northern Ireland, one of them being the ability to travel locally and travel more of Europe. Also, it doesn’t have to be definitive that I live at home. If I want to return to Australia, I can do so and for this I am very grateful.
Has anyone else had this fear with moving to our from another country?
Bloganuary day 14! This is a really tricky question today as I really enjoy pretty much all modes of travel. I really do love walking and if I can go anywhere on foot, I would prefer to always do that.
However, I love flying, be it long or short haul. I love the flights to Australia for the food, drinks, movies and generally being well looked after. I also love the smaller flights where there’s maybe only a few people on a propeller plane.
Travelling by boat is also pretty special. I used to love the ferry in Sydney from Circular Quay to anywhere else that you could travel nearby. I particularly enjoyed the ferry to Manly and I used to travel by ferry there for work. I used to love taking the ferry from Belfast over to Scotland many years ago but sadly I haven’t done that for some time now. Travelling on a cruise liner was special a couple of years ago, although, I would also appreciate a little speed boat taking you to an island somewhere. However, I’m aware these are not common modes of transport!
Cycling is a lot of fun and something that I used to do all the time as a teenager. We were able to cycle when we stayed in Fiji a few years ago to travel around the hotel complex. Apart from that, cycling has been neglected in my life for some time but is something I would love to embrace again in the future.
Driving by car is a great mode of travel and one that I am using quite a lot at the moment as we are living more rural these days. It is very practical and you can visit anywhere without having to worry about the weather or what time the next bus or train is coming. I used to travel everywhere in Sydney by bus or train and now it is such a novelty to have a car.
Nonetheless, I did used to love travelling by train as you had lots of free time to catch up on your emails, write a quick blog post, listen to your music or even have a wee snooze. The only downside was when the trains would be cancelled and you somehow had to find another mode of transport home.
In conclusion, I think walking would have to be my favourite mode of travel as it was the first one that I thought of and it’s something that I thoroughly enjoy doing. I miss walking everywhere in Sydney, it’s a great form of exercise and you can just get in the zone with your favourite tunes and take in the beautiful scenery. It’s a bit harder at the moment here in Northern Ireland as the weather is so wet and cold. Bring on spring!
One word springs to mind for me, FOUNDATION. I have just returned from Australia back home to Northern Ireland and my goal is to build my foundation for the next chapter in my life. I want to buy a house, settle in a new job and decide what is in store for my future. I am really looking forward and thinking of positive things for the days, weeks, months and even years ahead. I hope you will all follow me on my journey and very good luck to all those participating in this years Bloganuary. I look forward to reading everyone’s responses and making some new friends here in the blogosphere.
Happy New Year everyone and here’s hoping 2023 brings us everything we hope for.
After our New Zealand holiday, we had another trip up our sleeves before heading home to Northern Ireland. Initially we were planning on Tasmania, however, New Zealand was freezing and Tasmania would be freezing too at this time of year. So we decided to cancel Tasmania and head somewhere hot. Bali had never really been on my agenda but it’s pretty close to Australia and a popular tourist destination. After some research online and speaking with friends, we settled on two locations to try, simply to break up the trip and have two different experiences. We opted for Ubud for the scenery and peacefulness, contrasting with Seminyak for the beaches and tourist vibe.
This was to be a relaxing holiday, lying by the pool and absorbing some much needed vitamin D. Normally I really dislike these types of holidays but I was fine on this occasion as we had just travelled quite a bit and packed up our whole life. Rest and relaxation was most definitely welcomed.
Arriving into Bali was a lengthy process with four different queues needing to be passed. Covid screening, obtaining and paying for your visa ($100 AU), immigration and declarations. I’m not going to lie, this was tough going after a long flight from Australia and we arrived late at night. By the time we passed immigration etc it was 12pm. Luckily we had pre booked a taxi and he was very kind to wait for us as we had another one hour drive to our hotel in Ubud. I felt so bad for the driver but he reassured me that this is the norm.
Element Bali Ubud – this was our hotel in Ubud for 4 nights and to be honest, it was the highlight of the holiday. We are absolutely amazed by this hotel and how fantastic it was. The staff were unbelievably friendly and accommodating, everything was so clean, the food drinks were delicious, the location to town was pretty good and we loved the amenities. We used the spa, the gym and the pool and were so pleased with them all. I would definitely recommend staying here if you ever come to Ubud. You can check it out here for yourselves.
Things to see in Ubud : We hired a taxi to take us around the key sites of interest that we had been researching. The Monkey Temple is a huge tourist attraction but we don’t really have a love for monkeys so we avoided that one.
1 – Seeing the rice fields. This was great to see how the farmers work the fields and grow their best prized crop.
2 – Tirta Empul Temple. A very busy temple for locals and tourists alike. This was built around a bubbling spring and is a fascinating place to see Hindu devotees purifying themselves by ways of ritual bathing.
3 – Sampling the Luwak coffee. This coffee is famous for its unusual methods of creation. The Luwak animal is a cat like creature that feeds on Luwak coffee beans (among other things). When they excrete the beans, the outer shell is removed to expose the inner bean, which in turn is used to make coffee. Seen as a delicacy, this was an honour to taste, alongside some really different and unusual tea and coffee varieties, such as avocado coffee and lemongrass tea.
4 – Saraswati Temple. This just looked amazing online so we really wanted to visit. It can be found in the heart of Ubud centre and was built to honour Saraswati, the Goddess of knowledge, music, art, wisdom and learning.
5 – Dinner at Chora. I found this restaurant on Instagram (the benefits of social media) and thought it looked interesting. It was fab! Great healthy food with a Mediterranean influence, fantastic service and a truly serene experience.
Aloft Bali Seminyak – We loved this hotel and it had such a great location. It’s a good distance from the town but you are in a quieter location and very close to the beaches. We would walk 5 minutes to the beach and then walk along for about 30 minutes to reach Seminyak town. The rooftop pool and bar was lovely with stunning ocean views, the hotel served up some great food and drinks, plus the staff again were so, so friendly here.
To be honest we didn’t do many tourist things here in Seminyak and we were happy just to relax. Also, I did have a case of Bali belly during the trip (a common occurrence here for Westerners with sensitive stomachs), I think from the water, so I was out of action for a couple of days with pretty bad stomach cramps. However, I can show you a few places that we enjoyed eating in when I felt better, asides from the hotel where the food was really delicious.
1 – Shelter Restaurant. Shelter is a contemporary Middle Eastern and Mediterranean restaurant located in the central part of beautiful Pererenan. The food was absolutely stunning and the service was exceptional. There was a great tropical vibe and the musical really set the scene, even the bathrooms were impressive. This was our favourite place to eat from the whole trip (maybe as it was also my birthday).
2 – Da Maria. This was a fantastic Italian restaurant actually on the same street as our hotel. It’s great when you can walk to the venue and we had heard great things about this place. Food was lovely and there is a real buzz in this place.
3 – Potato Head Bali Beach Club. This is a really cool place if you want to come and chill out for the day. We loved the food here also and it was just a short walk from our hotel via the beach before you get to Seminyak Village.
One thing you do have to do in Seminyak is watch the sunset from the beach. You can be anywhere on the beach but we found the sunset to be popular near our hotel. The actual beach is called Pantai Batu Belig. People come to just sit on the beach and take it all in, it actually reminded me of Ibiza sunsets.
That’s a wrap on my Bali trip. It’s a beautiful place with the most gorgeous people. This was a great trip for rest and relaxation before heading home to Northern Ireland. Follow my journey home and I aim to highlight the numerous places NI has to offer.
Thanks for taking a look at this Bali blog post and have a great week everyone.
Happy Sunday everyone. I hope you’re all having a good weekend whatever you’re doing. We are adjusting to life at home and catching up with family and friends. Today’s sunset picture was taken last week on our last evening in Bali. We were sitting at the rooftop bar at our hotel and we were fortunate to be able to witness this sunset. I love the colour of the sky and the way it contrasts with the dark and moody looking cloud coverage.
Happy Thursday everyone and welcome to my latest edition of Doors of WordPress. This week I want to show you some doors that I discovered last week on my holiday in Bali. I will also be completing my Bali blog and hopefully have that up in a few days. I arrived in Northern Ireland three days ago and am enjoying catching up with family and becoming acquainted to the local area but I will continue to blog whenever I have free time.
You may or may not know but Bali is a Hindu island that is part of Indonesia which is predominantly Muslim. Therefore, you can see many, many temples in Bali where the people can practice Hinduism. I really admire the temples and their architecture, some of them are absolutely stunning with such intrinsic detail. Do you have a favourite door this week?
After Hobbiton, we drove for a couple of hours to reach our final destination of Auckland. We were here primarily to catch up with a good friend who lives here but also we were keen to see and experience what this city has to offer. I will highlight the places we managed to visit while in Auckland for three days.
1 – Cheltenham Beach
2 – Maungauika/North Head Historic Reserve
3 – Takapuna Beach Path.
4 – Wine tasting at The Hunting Lodge.
5 – Sunset at Muriwai Beach.
6 – Auckland Museum.
7 – Ponsonby.
There you have it! Our New Zealand trip has come to an end. What an amazing trip and so fortunate to have finally been able to visit after being in lockdown on and off for two years. I hope you enjoyed the journey and photographs from this truly epic country with the absolute friendliest of people. It’s a trip I will not forget in a hurry. Thank you all for showing an interest in my posts over the past couple of weeks, it really means a lot.
This was the perfect spot for us to stop and rest during our drive from Wellington to Auckland. As well as being a great location to stop, we had really wanted to visit here for a couple of reasons.
This area was created thousands of years ago by volcanic activity and sits at the southern end of Lake Rotorua, also formed from a volcanic explosion. Although the volcano hasn’t erupted since, there remains a lot of geothermal occurrences daily, which in turn creates geysers, hot springs and hot mud pools.
We really wanted to try the hot springs as well as seeing and learning about the traditional Māori people. In Rotorua you can find a living Māori village, there the people have been living for more than 700 years. You can have a tour of the village and witness how the people live.
Rotorua itself is a quaint little town with plenty of restaurants, cafes and bars. You will see many Māori people here which is really lovely to see. Another thing to note with this place is that it has a strong sulphur smell (think eggs) from the geysers which can be quite overwhelming if you’re not used to it but I’m so glad we were able to experience it.
Such an amazing place and we thanked the tour guide for an awesome opportunity to see how the Māori people continue to live to this day and aim to keep their traditions alive in the 21st century.
I hope you enjoyed a little insight to Rotorua. This is a definite pit stop if ever travelling from Wellington to Auckland. We made one more stop on our way to Auckland, can any of you guess where it was? I am really excited to show you all later this week.
We had flown to Wellington from Christchurch and thank goodness we were able to. The weather had been bad for weeks with heavy downpours. Many flights had been cancelled but fortunately for us, our flight made it across the water to the North Island. It was exciting to depart the South Island and have new experiences of the north. We also really wanted to see Wellington as it is the capital of New Zealand. We stayed here only for one night and would then hire a car and drive up the island to our final destination of Auckland.
As we were only here for one day, I will show you my highlights of the city and what we were able to squeeze in. We really enjoyed Wellington and we were extremely blessed to have good weather (mostly).
1 – Staying in the QT Wellington. This hotel chain is one of my favourites. We have stayed in three others before so we kind of knew what to expect. They’re a little more pricey but we thought if we’re only here for one day, why not treat ourselves to a nice hotel. This one in Wellington I think has been the best QT so far. Extremely quirky and we loved the art throughout the building. I would totally recommend staying here if you visit Wellington.
2 – Take a walk along Lambton Harbour. This is situated just beside the museum and it’s beautiful just to walk along the water front. This eventually leads onto Wellington Harbour.
3 – Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. This museum was on our doorstep so we had to check it out. Such a great place to learn about NZ and for us the highlight was the Gallipoli: The Scale of our War exhibition. You can find more information here. This unique exhibition tells the story of the Gallipoli campaign in World War I through the eyes and words of eight ordinary New Zealanders who found themselves in extraordinary circumstances. The people are recreated as larger than life models, really bringing it home what these people went through. An extraordinary exhibition and extremely moving.
4 – Wellington Cable Car. You can find this in the city centre and takes you to a great height up a mountain to see great panoramic views of Wellington. You can also see the Botanical Gardens there too that are really worth a visit.
5 – Take a walk through the city centre. There’s lots of character in this city, funky shops and great pieces of street art.
6 – Dinner at Mr Go’s. This Asian fusion restaurant is really quirky and serves delicious small plates perfect for sharing. There is such a good vibe here.
Thanks for taking a look at my Wellington blog and I hope you are inspired to maybe visit or even just enjoyed looking at some photographs of this amazing city. We would then head towards Auckland and make a couple of stops on the way. Next stop where we were staying is Rotorua, blog coming very soon 😊.
We took a day trip here from Queenstown. It is the one place everyone asked about whether we would be visiting or not when in Queenstown. I’m really glad that we did take the trip here, even if it was a long day. We booked a coach trip (you can do this at the tourist information office in town) and it lasted the whole day. It’s more than 12 hours to drive there, take a boat tour through Milford Sound and then the drive back. It’s a big day but really worth seeing, especially if you may never return here again.
Miford Sound is a fiord, carved by glaciers during the ice ages. It really is captivating and I don’t think I have ever seen anywhere quite like it. The scenery is out of this world, no matter what the weather and if you’re lucky you may be able to spot some dolphins, seals and penguins that call this place home. We were fortunate to have seen seals sunbathing and dolphins that followed our boat back into the dock.
Even the journey to Milford Sound is spectacular and we were able to make a few pit stops to take some photographs. I will show you a couple of our stops and then show you some snaps of the magnificent Milford Sound.
Thanks for taking the time to read my blog post and I hope it inspired you to maybe visit for yourself one day.
When you say to people you are travelling to New Zealand, they will pretty much always ask “Are you going to Queenstown?”. I didn’t really understand why but now that I have travelled there, I totally get it. This place was the highlight of NZ for us. The scenery is just out of this world and made even more special as we were here in winter. The snow peaked mountains were absolutely stunning and you just can’t quite take it all in.
We caught the number one bus from the airport into Queenstown which takes about 10 – 15 minutes. It’s a very easy ride and luckily for us it stopped just before the town at our hotel, The Ramada. We loved our stay here, great proximity to the town, beautiful scenery all around, very friendly staff, lovely hotel and the breakfast was open until 11.30 and you simply pay for what you order (this was a real novelty for us as you usually pay a hefty amount for a buffet breakfast and they often close early in other places I have been).
For us, Queenstown was all about the scenery and using it as a base to see other places close by. We took the number two bus to the quaint little Arrowtown. We also took a coach trip to Milford Sound. I will post a little blog about these two places after this but these were the two places we most wanted to see. The scenery itself in Queenstown is beautiful and it’s really lovely just taking a stroll through the town and having a look at all the shops, restaurants and bars. There is a lovely walkway that passed the back of our hotel to the town that takes you along the side of Lake Wakatipu. It was beautiful and can also take you to the town via Queenstown Gardens.
A few people have been asking about food recommendations so I thought I would run through a quick list for you :
⁃ Joe’s Garage – perfect for breakfast
⁃ Stratosfare – this is the restaurant on top of the huge mountain. Take the gondola up to the top for spectacular views of Queenstown. It’s a buffet dinner with plenty to choose from.
⁃ Surreal Bar & Restaurant – nice pub grub and home cooking. All the staff appeared to be Irish too 😊.
⁃ Flame (need to book) – we actually couldn’t go here as it was fully booked. My advice would be to book ahead ( for most restaurants actually, as they get pretty busy and there are very few staff here at the moment due to the pandemic).
⁃ Bombay Palace – perfect little spot for some Indian food. We loved it.
⁃ Boardwalk – PIER Restaurant – this is just at the pier (funny enough). Beautiful views to watch the world go by and they have heat lamps for dining al fresco.
⁃ Paddy Gaddy – Southeast Asian – the food here was stunning. It’s an Asian fusion type restaurant with a real vibe.
⁃ Margos Mexican – another one you would need to book. This looked awesome but there was no space the night that we tried. Definitely looks worth a visit if you like Mexican food.
– The Pig and Whistle – we loved this place for drinks, either sitting inside or out.
– The Speight’s Ale House – lovely quaint little pub with the best toasty fire.
That’s my lot for Queenstown. Such an amazing place that you have to see for yourself. We only had 4 days here but that was actually perfect for us as we weren’t skiing or participating in any winter sports (not our cup of tea). Should that be your thing, you will love this place even more!
Thanks for reading and I will have a couple of blog posts for Arrowtown and Milford Sound coming.
First stop on our New Zealand trip was Christchurch. We stayed here for two nights before moving on to Queenstown.
I hadn’t heard too many positive things about Christchurch sadly, therefore I had no expectations. I know it had been hit by a pretty big earthquake a few years ago and there had been a couple of mass shooting incidents a couple of years ago that were pretty bad. However, we wanted to see this city for ourselves and it’s a good gateway to the south of the South Island.
I am really glad we decided to stay in Christchurch as it is an amazing city with lots of culture, art, has a vibrant hospitality scene and the warmest and friendliest people. It does have a sense of still recovering from its recent troubles and it was pretty quiet here, perhaps as it’s winter also but we really enjoyed our short time here. There was plenty to see and discover and I’m sure we only managed to scratch the surface.
If you have the chance to travel to New Zealand, be sure to check out Christchurch too. It’s a beautiful city with lots of heart and character.
Thanks for taking a look at my post. Next post will be from Queenstown 🙌🏼.
I thought I would write a little blog post about our experience with Air NZ, flying from Sydney to Christchurch. The flight itself was delayed by half an hour but the pilot managed to make up the time in the air, meaning the flight was only approximately 2.5 hours and we arrived ahead of schedule.
I had never flown with this airline before so I had no expectations. I have flown with many different airlines over the years and have had both good and bad experiences, which makes me think that could also be a good blog post to write about. I’m sure we all have some amazing or terrifying stories to tell from flying.
Anyway, I am pleased to report that Air NZ was pretty amazing. How and why was this?
1 – Customer service. This was exceptional with the cabin crew being all from NZ. They were extremely friendly and I had the impression that they were being very genuine and sincere. I think that’s the NZ way, everyone I have met here so far in Christchurch has been super friendly.
2 – Complimentary tea or coffee. Being a short flight, I wasn’t expecting anything free. I knew we could purchase food and drinks but it was a nice touch to have been offered something with compliments.
3 – Free WiFi. Amazing to have this free and it was for the whole trip. Also good to note that they offered unlimited data. I have never seen this before. Normally you might have free data that is just enough to send one email so this was a novelty. The WiFi was also really good quality.
4 – USB port. This is really handy to charge your phone, especially if using the WiFi. I love that we can do this. I hate using my phone (even for games to pass the time) and having little to no battery on arrival.
5 – Free Rapid Antigen Tests. I wasn’t aware that we had to carry out a RAT on arrival but the process was made very easy. They provide you with four RATs for you to take with you. At your hotel you can conduct the test yourself and upload the results to a website they provide. I suppose they are really relying on you to be honest with this and report being positive of covid if you are unfortunate to be so. You carry out a test on Day 0 and again on Day 5. Thankfully we were negative!
Ps. Just a little reminder. It’s always good to carry a pen with you onboard. I normally do but forgot this time and had to borrow one. You will need this for completing your arrival card.
All in all, a very smooth and enjoyable flight, made all the better with the friendly cabin crew. A great service from Air NZ.
Today is the day! We head on our travels before heading home. I will finally have some travel experiences to share again. As a travel blogger primarily, this makes me very happy.
We will be heading to New Zealand today all being well, first stop Christchurch. I say all being well as you just don’t know what is around the corner, especially in these covid times. Even before entering NZ there is so much documentation needed, for example, obtaining a travel pass, an electronic travel authority, your covid vaccination dates and proof of the vaccines. Thankfully, no covid swabs or rapid antigen tests are needed.
I hope to keep you updated throughout the trip and I will be keen to read other blogs when in the air or on the road.
Have a great day everyone and see you in New Zealand.
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?
This week I hit a HUGE milestone for me. I cannot believe I have made it to 200 posts. I have to admit, my blogging journey was a slow burner but it has really ramped up in the past year. I actually have covid to thank for that.
Initially I was blogging about my travels, so I was only blogging once a month or every few months. When covid hit, we could no longer travel and I suddenly realised I had nothing to blog about. I had to have a think and revamp my ideology of what blogging means to me.
Covid opened my eyes in terms of blogging. Although I wasn’t travelling any more, I realised there was so much more that I could blog about. I have a lot to say and I really wanted to make an effort connecting with other bloggers. I started to blog about things that were happening in my life and also began participating in blogging prompts. When I took part in Bloganuary, my desire to blog and connect with others grew tenfold. I loved having something to write about and share more of my personality. I met so many other bloggers and loved the connection you could make with complete strangers. I soon started to participate in other blogging prompts and still do to this day. I have many bloggers here to thank for that.
I would like to share with you a few bloggers that continue to inspire and encourage my blogging journey 😊 –
The people you meet here in the blogosphere are amazing. You realise you share many of the same experiences and beliefs and appreciate so much that there IS a space for you in the blogging world. You also have the opportunity to meet others from different backgrounds and cultures and can learn a huge amount, therefore, growing as a person of the world.
I just want to say thank you to my followers and to those I follow and inspire me every day. This honestly is such a great space and I really look forward to growing, learning and sharing more of what life has in store for me.
Happy Sunday everyone. If you’re in Australia, I hope you’re all feeling fresh as our clocks went back last night and we had that extra hour sleep ☺️.
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.
This was the first excursion we did when arriving to Yulara. This was a surprise for me as it had not even been on my radar to see Uluru from an airplane. I was told five minutes prior to being collected by the pilot. My remarkable partner had it all secretly planned.
We travelled with Ayers Rock Scenic Flights and yes you read that correct, we were collected by the pilot. This was certainly a first for us. We were taken by minibus to the airport where we boarded a very small airplane, a four seater Piston-powered aircraft (that’s as much as I know) and we had a safety talk with our amazing pilot.
I have been in a few different aircraft that holds up to ten people but never one that has just four seats. This was very exciting. You have to wear a headset that enables you to talk and listen to the pilot, whilst also listening to her communicate with the local air traffic control team. Then up, up and away.
The views even taking off were out of this world. I have never seen the ground so red and dusty. It’s amazing to be in the desert with not much at all around you. There were some green plants however, as there had been much needed rain just days before. We could see the town of Yulara, the hotels, the workers’ accommodation and an even fancier hotel away from everywhere else, where William and Kate had stayed. Our pilot was a great tour guide, giving us a run down of the area and history.
Then when you see Uluru, it’s just magnifique. Such a feast for the eyes. From the air it doesn’t look as big as on land but it fairly stands out in the middle of the desert. You can also see Kata Tjuta, another rock formation about 25km away from Uluru, which is just as formidable but somehow understated.
Honestly this is such an experience to see from the air. Whether you choose a plane or a helicopter, it will be worth your while booking a trip in the air. You won’t regret it. it’s not as scary as you might think and the turbulence was very minimal. The pilot talks to you throughout and you’re busy taking in the scenery to be anxious or worried about the height you are at.
Some advice for you that I learned after. You can only take and post pictures of Uluru from one side. On the back of Uluru are some culturally sensitive sites that you cannot take pictures of or post on social media. I had learned this when doing the tour on foot, however, I had never considered that fact when I was snapping away from the air. Granted I had this experience before the tour on foot so I was ignorant to this information. I have so many photos and videos but unfortunately cannot show them here from this angle. I will show more in the next blog post when we carried out the tours on foot.
Let me know what you think about seeing sites from the sky?
I love today’s topic. It’s good to reflect and remember to be grateful for things happening in our lives. Too often we become caught up in our busy daily lives and forget to be thankful for the positive things around us that we often take for granted.
1 – As corny as it sounds, I am firstly grateful to waken up, alive and healthy. Not everyone has this luxury.
2 – Being away this weekend in Mudgee with my amazing partner as we celebrate 15 years together.
3 – I’m grateful that I had a great sleep last night, 8.5 hours to be exact. If I have 7 hours sleep at night, I am doing really well. So to wake up and check my Fitbit that read 8.5 hours sleep, I was delighted.
4 – Grateful to have no rain this morning. It is supposed to be stormy all week, so to waken with no rain and blue skies on the horizon, that makes me really happy.
5 – Thankful for a lovely breakfast this morning and having a walk around Mudgee. It’s a really quaint little town with lots of character. I will be creating a blog of this town very soon.
I cannot wait to hear what everyone else is grateful for today 🙏🏼.
This question I had to think a little about. These days, just leaving our home is leaving our comfort zone, with the omicron virus everywhere. Nobody wants to become the next victim to corona, especially as we have to isolate. However, I feel like this is not a true challenge for me when leaving my comfort zone.
I like to think of the emotions you experience when leaving your comfort zone. For me, it’s feelings of dread, fear, embarrassment, nervousness, anxiety, stomach doing summersaults etc. Even though you know these feelings will not last and you will get through it, you cannot help but shed these emotions.
I last had these feelings when I had my first day of teaching this year. As I’m sure many of you are aware, I am a nurse. Therefore, I am used to teaching others, new staff, colleagues, student nurses etc. However, this is normally on a 1 to 1 basis. Recently, I became a teacher of nursing. It’s a completely different kettle of fish. Standing in front of a large number of students is daunting. Especially on your first day. Luckily for me (and the students) I got through it ok. I was nervous on the inside but hopefully managed to hide that. The more I got into it, I actually really enjoyed it, being able to share my knowledge and experiences. When the students seem to enjoy the class, it makes all the nerves worthwhile and you’re happy they you’re having a positive impact of their future nursing careers.
So my advice for others leaving your comfort soon is to know that it will be short term. The dread won’t last forever. Everyone experiences these feelings when leaving their comfort zone. Furthermore, we grow as people when we leave our comfort zones. It makes us stronger, braver and more confident in ourselves. It is a good thing to challenge ourselves, push ourselves out of our comfort zones and grow as human beings.
The Indian Pacific – Sydney to Perth. You can read all about it here. It is a railway journey travelling across Australia and it takes a few days. Maybe not the most conventional road trip but I still consider it a road trip, albeit by rail.
You sleep here, wine and dine, meet other travellers and stop off at a few different locations along the way, all whilst taking in the magnificent views of the Australian outback. It kind of reminds me of Australia’s version of the Orient Express.
This trip is on my wish list big time. Unfortunately, it’s so hard to plan anything like this due to the ongoing pandemic and restrictions constantly changing here. Hopefully, one day, I will be able to experience this amazing road trip by rail.
If I were to travel by car. I would love to drive from Perth to Broome, driving up the west coast of Australia. The only thing is I would like to drive with a few other people. Safety in numbers. Have you ever seen Wolf Creek? 🙈
Thanks for reading guys. I cannot wait to hear what your favourite road trips would be.
Hunter Valley, NSW, an amazing place to taste some fine wines. Stunning scenery, boutique wineries, friendly people, what more could you wish for. I have been here quite a few times now and have always stayed at least two nights. I guess because it’s quite far away and it’s the ideal place to have a mini vacation. So when I was asked by my friends and work colleagues to join them for a day trip, I was excited to see what we could experience in a day. At least with the 2.5 hour drive each way, we could chat and catch up with each other 😊.
We had booked a day trip with Teds Tours. A company that specialises in wine tours and has a very friendly mentos. You can click https://www.tedstours.com.au/hunter-valley-tours/tour-packages for more information. Our driver Kris was amazing. He was a great laugh and very accommodating, picking us up from Wolli Creek and taking us there and back, whilst driving us also around three different vineyards and also to the pub for lunch. Nothing was a bother for him and he managed to keep us all within the time limits, no easy feat when everyone has had a few wines 🤪.
The three vineyards we had the pleasure of visiting were: Saltire 🏴, Vinden Wines and Tatler. All three were good on there own merit, however, Saltire really stuck out for us. The scenery was unreal. Delicious wines, fantastic setting, a Scottish heritage and the service was extremely warm and inviting. All in all, this vineyard set the bar high and the staff had a really good knowledge and appreciation of their products 🍷.
All in all, this was a great day out. We loved the company, the vineyards and the wines. Would I travel 2.5 hours each way again for a day trip, probably not. However, I would definitely use Teds Tours again, especially if staying in the Hunter in the future. I hope it inspires you to visit Hunter Valley, for a day or a longer stay. You won’t be disappointed.
For this post I want to simply show case these amazing trees here in Sydney. I have been a huge fan of Jacarandas since arriving in Australia over 4 years ago. I think it’s the colour of the trees that make them so special and the fact that I had never seen them before. The season starts around mid October until mid November and it really provides that sense of spring being in the air and a gentle reminder that it is almost summer here.
Although it’s easy to think of these trees being native to Australia, they are interestingly a tree originally from South America, predominantly Argentina. If you want some more info on this tree you can find more info here.
These trees, presumably because of their attractive purple/blueish colour have become increasingly popular with social media people, all vying for that perfect snap or selfie. This is great to see people taking such an interest (me included), however, it can prove difficult at times to take some pictures without any other people photo bombing 🙈.
I will show you some of my Jacarandas snaps over the last few years and where they were taken. The good thing is, there are lots of places that Jacarandas can be found 🙌🏼.
If you’re looking for a grove of Jacaranda trees, McDougall Street in Kirribilli is a popular spot for bloggers and social media people.
I think the trees found near Como Hotel in Como, NSW, are pretty special, as are those found at Hogben Park in Kogerah. If you’re simply looking for a random tree or two, you can see these in many different streets in and around Sydney. I see a lot of them where I live in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney.
You can find them in lots of other Sydney suburbs, for example, Croydon.
I hope you all have the chance to see a Jacaranda this season and if not, at least you can see them here 🤗. Thanks for taking an interest in my love for the Jacaranda tree!!
When you need a break but can’t have more than a weekend off, 1 night will have to suffice. We just wanted to get away for a couple of days for a change of scenery. So we decided on Manly. Although Manly is still within Sydney and easy to travel to, we have never stayed overnight here. You see, you normally would catch the ferry here from Circular Quay and have a day trip in Manly, normally catching a ferry back home at around sunset. There are a few lovely bars and restaurants at the harbour and we would often have a couple of drinks here while waiting on the ferry to come in and take us home. However, when the craic is great and the drinks are flowing, you seem to just watch the ferries arrive and then they depart, without you on them. There’s always time to catch the next ferry 😉. This could go on for about 3 or 4 ferries until we have decided, enough is enough and head back home.
So this in itself would be a novelty for us to stay here and not have to worry about catching the ferry home. There’s lots to do at Manly and we still hadn’t seen all that is on offer. You have the harbour, bush walks, beaches and rock pools, as well as, amazing bars and restaurants. We decided to stay at Hotel Steyne. It’s a hotel but more so, it is a restaurant and pub, with outdoor areas, a glasshouse bar, whiskey bar and a rooftop with stunning views of Manly beach. It has charm, character and is right in the heart of everything Manly has to offer. We loved this place.
I could not recommend Manly enough for a short stay (more than 1 night would have been amazing) or a longer holiday. It honestly has everything and really feels like a holiday destination. I am seriously looking forward to a longer break but for now, 1 night will have to do 🙏🏼
The beaches and walks are stunning. We didn’t do any bush walks this time but they’re really worth checking out.
Is anyone else planning a night away? Where’s your favourite place to travel for a weekend break?
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.
We made it guys! After 106 days we are now officially out of lockdown. Boy it feels good…but also a bit nerve wrecking. It’s so nice to have our freedom again, seeing people out and about, hustle and bustle everywhere. However, you can’t help but think, the virus is still out there. I’m still in favour of social distancing and trying to be as safe as possible. Although I’m double vaccinated, I’m still keen to avoid contracting coronavirus 😬.
People of Sydney, or anywhere in the world that has lived through a lockdown (I’m sure everyone has), what was the first thing you did when the lockdown was lifted???
For me, it was work as usual. Being a nurse, we didn’t have any time off during lockdown. Yes I am forever grateful to have been in employment and have some sort of normality. At least we could see our work colleagues and chat about the ever changing pandemic days whilst still earning an income. However, I’m sure I speak for many nurses, it would have been lovely to have a couple of weeks off at home. Not annual leave or being off sick but just days at home to chill out and reset. Alas it wasn’t meant to be and that’s ok.
Finishing work, it was really amazing to see people out on the streets, seeing people sitting through cafe windows enjoying their soy caps and shopping malls with shop doors finally opened again. There was a real buzz around Sydney today and it felt good, albeit a bit strange. The first thing I did was go to the gym. As much as I was slightly nervous, I couldn’t wait to get back to training and seeing friends. Finally I could lift a heavy weight again 🏋️♂️ and maybe feel the burn the next day 😅.
I hope you all enjoy the next few days/weeks of having no lockdown. What are you excited to do/see? I personally can not wait to be able to travel again ✈️.
This week we enter our 15th week of lockdown and hopefully the last, as restrictions will ease here next week. As you may or may not be aware, we have been restricted to moving within 5km of where we live or our local government area. I can honestly say, I have exhausted my 5km radius, having walked almost every area possible 🤣. I want to display a few photos to show you my 5km radius from when lockdown here began and you will see for yourself how diverse a small area in Sydney can be 🙌🏼.
1 – Coastal walks – Bondi to Coogee (or anywhere in between)
2 – Centennial Park
3 – Double Bay
4 – Rose Bay
5 – Hermitage Foreshore Walk
This encompasses many of Sydney’s intimate beaches along the harbour with great views of the Sydney city skyline. Includes Milk Beach, Parsley Bay & Nielsen Park.
6 – Paddington
That’s it folks. Thanks for taking a look around my 5km radius. It has been great to be able to show some photos again as it has been a while.
Hey everyone! I thought I would write a quick blog post without any photographs and just let the writing do the talking (so to speak). Seeing as we cannot travel yet again, this won’t be too difficult. I actually have no photos to showcase interesting places recently. We can’t even travel locally now as we have been in lockdown since Monday. I think everyone here, in Sydney at least, knew this day would come again.
With the vaccination rate being one of the lowest in the world, this was bound to happen. Covid cases have jumped dramatically from 1 known case. The only way to curb the increase is to go into another lockdown, maintain strict social distancing and wear a mask. Other essential things to practice include hand washing, coughing and sneezing into your elbow and wearing your mask correctly 🤦🏼♂️.
The number one thing people can do here in Australia is to become vaccinated. It hasn’t helped that the media has continually reported on the negative aspects of the vaccines, for example, the blood clot incidents from AstraZeneca. Scare mongering people and creating a fear of the vaccine. Every medicine/vaccine will have some side effects. The odds of receiving life threatening side effects are minimal (yes of course there is a risk with anything). If a person was not vaccinated, would said person have worse outcomes with receiving the virus itself? Who knows 🤷🏼♂️.
The lack of travel is understandable and of course we can live without it for a short time. The main thing is for everyone to be safe and healthy. My only concern is when will be return to some sort of normality? There are so many questions that cannot be answered as yet unfortunately. When we will be able to travel internationally to see our families? Will the Australian border be closed forever? Are the states in Australia more divided than ever before? Will we all be vaccinated this year?
Anyway. That’s my little rant 🤣. I hope everyone will abide by the rules, become vaccinated, stay safe and look after each other. This may get worse before it gets better. I am still forever grateful to be in the position we are in here in Australia and feel thankful to have a premier who has done good by NSW #gladys 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼
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.
Happy New Year everyone! May 2021 be better for you than 2020.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
5 – People you meet
6 – The Staff
7 – The bars
Our most favourite bar – Schooner Bar.
8 – Sunsets
These were just stunning.
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.
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
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 absolutelyholiday with them again in the future.
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 🙂
Leura is a small town situated in the Blue Mountains. We wanted to see somewhere different within the mountains as we have been a good few times now and luckily there is still always something new to see. Blackheath, Katoomba and Leura are the 3 main towns and so we had already visited the other 2 towns. It was my birthday at the start of the month, so we thought it would be fun to have a weekend away, a mini vacation. We wanted somewhere that we could travel to by train, so we could save the hassle of hiring a car like we normally would do. Leura has its own train station and is less than 2 hours to get to from Sydney. Perfect spot because you are within the Blue Mountain region, great for stunning scenery and long walks ☺️. I had heard Leura has lovely cascades with picnic areas, so for me, that’s what I really wanted to see. I also wanted to simply see the mountains and feel a million miles away from the normal daily routine.
We used booking.com to book a lovely cottage in Leura, a 5 minute walk from the train station. The cottage was The Priest’s Cottage at St Raphael (no priests were spotted) and it was really special. Extremely cosy with its own little electric fire and it even had electric blankets that was a really nice touch. It was freezing at night when we were there but luckily you wouldn’t have known staying in this cottage. It was very easy to find and so close to the town. A really quaint little place that was pretty spacious and had all the amenities you would hope to find. Outdoor seating area too that would be great in the summer.
First thing you do on a holiday/mini break, check in and check out your surroundings. We took a walk to the town and had a look around. The main street is really quaint with lots of cafes and really cool shops. Our favourite findings were the vintage shops (particularly The Leura Emporium Vintage Collectables) and the really cool Teddy Sinclair’s Man Cave. This shop was awesome, you could spend all day in it. It smells amazing as you walk in with all the leather wallets, bags, coats, jackets etc and it has lots of men’s accessories from shaving utensils to travel bags, jewellery, watches and gifts.
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.
I was super excited to see these!! I was just looking forward to heading out for a walk into unknown territory and seeing something a little different. We walked to the cascades, it takes about 30 minutes from Leura itself. We brought a picnic as we’d heard there are lovely spots to sit and have lunch, plus there are no cafes or shops nearby so best be prepared. The cascades themselves are stunning. Not overly big but tucked away amongst the trees and rocks to create a special ambiance. The walking trail is pretty easy to navigate with some steep stairways if you want to head upwards and see the views overlooking the Blue Mountains. Definitely worth the trek up as the views are spectacular. As soon as you see the mountains it’s a truly breathtaking moment. You really feel the vastness of the area and at one with mother nature. There are lots of areas worthy of having a picnic, with some picnic benches also provided. You can walk as far as Katoomba from here but we decided against it. All in all the walk takes about an hour and a half.
We did, however, head to Katoomba later that day as it’s only 5 minutes from Leura on the train. We always feel we have to see the infamous 3 sisters. Although we’ve now seen them multiple times, they still manage to make us feel in awe.
Two places to check out for dinner:
1- Miss Lilian Tea House
This is authentic Asian casual dining. If you want something tasty but not overly fancy or overpriced, this place is the ticket. Food was delicious and the decor is pretty funky with a stress on birdcages. It’s in Katoomba but a bit of a walk to so we travelled by taxi here. Definitely worth the fare 😉
2- Leura Garage
This award winning restaurant and bar has been on my list for a while as I have always heard good things about it. Using all local ingredients and wines, it was really amazing and didn’t disappoint. It is really handy, basically across the road from the train station. It is always busy so be sure to book ahead.
So that’s my mini weekend guide to Leura. Hopefully some of you find it helpful. This little town is most definitely worth seeing and is often a looked over little gem of a find. Next time your in the Blue Mountains be sure to check it out.
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.
Hi there! Welcome to my latest blog post. I have been laying low for the past couple of months as I have been travelling a lot and need to build the funds back up again. In addition, we are going home at the end of this week!!! Exciting and definitely worth it, being sensible for the last couple of months 😆. Nevertheless, laying low in Sydney as autumn arrives is not too shabby at all. It has been really enjoyable to take it easy, have lots of home cooking, working out in the gym, early nights and wearing some warmer clothes. Therefore, I thought it might be the perfect time to write about activities to carry out when in the autumn season. Things to do that do not require a lot of money or effort. Appropriate for when trying to save for the next holiday 😉.
1 – Spice Alley
I had always heard of this place and people always had a good word to say about it. I had assumed this was a restaurant. I had no idea that it is in fact what the name suggests, an alley way!! It is an alley tucked away in Sydney’s CBD (very close to Central Station) that offers an array of Asian cuisine. There are numerous kitchens in the style of street food stalls and you could be forgiven for thinking that you are entering a street taken right out of the Asian continent. It is a fantastic place, full of life and the smells of tasty Asian cuisine. This is definitely a place to check out for some authentic street food and something a little different and quirky. A very ‘Instagrammable’ place too (this is a thing now). 💁🏼♂️ You can see the types of food available here.
2 – Gin Lane
If you want to try an array of different gin concoctions then this is the place for you. As part of Spice Alley this place is also a feast for the eyes. Set in an old historic house, the atmosphere is perfect for treating yourself to something a little fancy. The taste, presentation and uniqueness of these gins/gin cocktails is exquisite. The outdoor sitting is pretty cool and provides the sense of sitting in an old backstreet of 18th century London. The happy hours are daily and at different times depending on the day of the week. Find out more at the Spice Alley website above. Unfortunately I don’t have a decent photo to show you as it was quite dark inside and I didn’t want the flash on my phone to illuminate the whole room 🙈.
3 – Vaucluse House
I have always had a love/fascination with old stately homes. Back home in Ireland we have heaps but it was cool to be able to find some here (albeit not as old 🙊). Living in Bondi, I wanted to check out Vaucluse House as it’s pretty close being in the Eastern suburbs too. We took a tour of the home and thoroughly enjoyed the inside, informative knowledge. It was interesting to learn the history of the home and gardens that had once been owned and lived in by the Wentworth family. I won’t go into the details but it is worth checking out here. The gardens surrounding the mansion are really impressive and the tea rooms are extremely quaint if you are in the mood for a scone or something more substantial 😋.
4 – Seven Shillings Beach
After visiting Vaucluse House we took a short bus ride to a beach in the Eastern suburbs that we had not seen before. It’s called Seven Shillings Beach and can be found by walking through Blackburn Gardens at Double Bay (so many names!!). The gardens aren’t that big but are quite pretty and lead to this spectacular beach. I couldn’t believe that I had never heard of this place, let alone see it. It’s a really cool beach as it offers an enclosure for swimming in the sea called Murray Rose Pool. A walkway takes you out to the sea, almost like a jetty but in the form of a walkway and back again to the beach. A really amazing spot to relax with city views in the near distance. There is also a cafe situated here for food with a view. called Red Leaf Cafe. Perfect if you forget your picnic! We cannot wait to return here 😁.
5 – Angel Place
This street is very much a hidden gem of Sydney’s CBD with many locals having never even been. It is home to a piece of art called ‘Forgotten Songs’ by Michael Thomas Hill and features many, many empty birdcages hanging from a great height. It represents all the birds that were once present and even has all of their sounds playing, changing throughout different parts of the day. It’s a real feast for the eyes and is usually pretty quiet if you are looking to take photos without any other people popping up in the picture (a rare find these days unfortunately). We were able to find this with help from Google maps.
6 – Lavender Bay
This place was a find by chance for me. I was strolling around Milsons Point over in North Sydney when I came across this beautiful bay and gardens. Here you can find Wendy’s Secret Garden, apparently Sydney’s worst kept secret 🙊🤣. Here you can find many native flower species, stunning flowers and impressive views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It is a simple garden but I found myself strolling around here for ages, it’s so tranquil and feels like a safe haven from the busy every day life in Sydney. You can read more about this garden here and find out why it was created by Wendy.
Thanks a lot for taking the time out to read my blog. Sydney remains an amazing city with so much to see and do, not only in summer but also heading into Autumn 🍂.
Ps. I have just returned from Seven Shillings Beach for the 2nd time and I honestly think it is even better again. My new favourite beach area in Sydney!!!
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 😁)
Fiji Gold – best beer ever 😊
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 💛
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 🙈. 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 🤣. 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 🙏🏼.
Feeling fresh before the trek starts 😅
Even the streams could be difficult to cross 🙊
This river was not as easy as it looks to cross
We were delighted to have survived 🙌🏼🙌🏼
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 😘.
Be sure to check out this amazing island, it is one for the bucket list.
I had to write a blog post about this place as it is truly magical and has all the elements required for a great day out. Every Sunday we have free, we like to do a new walk around Sydney and see new places. I use this link that gives you a run down of good walks to do around Sydney. It is my aim to complete them all soon. We picked Cremorne Reserve as it is close to us and pretty short at only 3km roundtrip. We had no expectations of this walk although I was looking forward to seeing the lighthouse that was mentioned.
You can get to this reserve by taking the ferry from Circular Quay to Cremorne, it’s the 1st stop. Once there, grab a coffee from the little coffee shop and head up the steps. You have then entered the reserve. Take a left to start the walk. You can also head right to see the Robertsons Point Lighthouse. We did this at the end of the walk so I will mention it again later.
Heading on our walk the first thing you will come to is a path veering off to the left. We were eager to see what was down there and to our surprise we found an outdoor swimming pool. It’s called MacCallum swimming pool. Honestly the walk to the pool through lots of greenery is amazing and to reach a pool at the end makes you feel truly blessed. The pool is really cool with absolutely amazing front row seat views of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge.
After a swim, head back onto the track. The walk along this is class. You have views of the water to your left with pretty houses and many, many boats. To your right are beautiful gardens and really impressive houses (like million dollar homes), how the other half live. If you like architecture, design and all things quaint then you will enjoy seeing these. There are lots of places to stop and sit, appreciate the tranquility here or pack a picnic.
Along the track we stumbled across the most stunning little hand made garden, made by 2 volunteers Lex and Ruby in 1959. The garden has many different plant and flower species and has steps that take you through and down to the waters edge. Such a delight to see and you really feel like you are entering the secret garden.
Having finished the walk and returned to the wharf, we took the path to the lighthouse. I am honestly so glad we were able to see this. I have to say, I think this is my favourite lighthouse that I have seen to date and I have seen a lot. It’s the sheer slightness of it, it’s surroundings and the quaintness that makes it stand out for me. It is like something taken from a movie. Maybe I’m a bit over the top but I really thought it was magnificent 🙈🤣.
Anyhow, if you ever get the chance to visit here, you really ought to. It’s a unique location in Sydney and one that isn’t laden with tourists.
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 😊.
1 – Holey Moley Golf Club ⛳️
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.