Sunday Sunset – Sydney airport

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

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

Wayne ✌🏽

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 ✌🏽

Sunday Sunsets – South Pacific

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.

Take care everyone and enjoy your Sunday.

Wayne ✌🏽

Uluru – Sunrise tour

This tour was part of our Field of Light tour. After the lights, we headed upwards to the vantage point. There we were offered some tea/coffee and biscuits to watch the sunrise (this was needed due to being so early 😉). Needless to say, the sunrise was unreal. Even though we had witnessed a sunset, seen Uluru up close and from afar, this sunrise still managed to massively impress us. Take a look for yourself below.

Sun is rising
Waiting for the sun to rise 🌅
The colours 🤩
Sunrise with Uluru to the right. The way the sun hits is just stunning.

So we have now come to the end of my Uluru blog mini series. I hope you all enjoyed the pictures and are maybe now inspired to visit Uluru for yourselves. As I mentioned previously, we travelled here for a weekend break and didn’t quite get to see everything on our list, although I am overjoyed with what we did manage to see. If you plan to visit for yourself, there are a couple of other excursions you could try. Dining under the Stars is supposed to be amazing and was on my list big time. I’m sure it’s beautiful to eat in the middle of the desert with a clear sky above. Can you imagine how bright the stars must be? Also a camel tour around Uluru would be pretty epic, riding through the desert. Although part of me is slightly wary of this, could this be considered cruel to camels?

Anyway, hopefully you can do all the things you would like when and if you travel there. Not every excursion suits everyone. I for one am extremely happy with what we have seen and done and we have absolutely made memories to last a lifetime.

Thanks for reading,

Wayne ✌🏽

Uluru – Sacred Sites & Sunset Tour

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wayne ✌🏽

Uluru – By air

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

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

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

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

Then when you see Uluru, it’s just magnifique. Such a feast for the eyes. From the air it doesn’t look as big as on land but it fairly stands out in the middle of the desert. You can also see Kata Tjuta, another rock formation about 25km away from Uluru, which is just as formidable but somehow understated.

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

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

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

Thanks for reading all,

Wayne ✌🏽

Uluru – An introduction 🧡

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading,

Wayne ✌🏽

Mudgee – a photo blog

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quaint stores
A lovely walk along the Cudgegong River.

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

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

Wayne ✌🏽

Bloganuary Day 20

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

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

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

Cheers,

Wayne ✌🏽

Bloganuary Day 15

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

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

Cheers,

Wayne ✌🏽

Bloganuary Day 13

I feel very lucky that I have the opportunity to live my ideal day many times a week or month living here in Australia, mainly due to the weather and lifestyle. Even if I am working, I will take the opportunity to carry out activities that I enjoy before or after work.

I will break down an ideal day for me if I am on my day off, that is, not working.

• Wake up after a good sleep about 6am. Make myself a coffee and walk/run to the gym for a strength workout at 7am. An hour later I will come home to shower.

• I then love to have a good breakfast. Sometimes I will head out with my partner or I will meet friends for a catch-up over breakfast.

• After this, I love to go for a walk. Either along the coast, taking in the beaches of the eastern suburbs or around Centennial Park or even more so, a new place to walk. I love finding new spots to explore and taking many, many photographs. Maybe even go for a swim.

• Try to stop for lunch somewhere quaint or perhaps take a packed lunch. I am happy with either ☺️.

• Come home for a lovely home cooked meal and have a couple of glasses of wine or if I’m free in the evening, head out to meet friends for a few sociable drinks after having eaten.

• Finally, I would round the night off with a big cup of tea at home and have a reasonably early night, say 10 or 11pm. I am all about a good nights sleep.

This is my ideal day. Plain and simple.

Wayne ✌🏽

Bloganuary Day 10

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mudgee, NSW

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

Take care and stay safe,

Wayne ☺️

Bloganuary Day 9

Working hard or hardly working?? 🤔

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

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

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

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

Cheers for reading,

Wayne ✌🏽

Bloganuary Day 2

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

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

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

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

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

Take care and stay safe,

Wayne ☺️

Merry Christmas everyone 🎅🏽

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

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

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

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

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

12 months and 12 photos (2021)

January

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My first lockdown birthday and hopefully the last. My one wish was to see the sunrise at Bronte. It was really special 🌅. I’ve seen it many times but it never gets old.
September

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

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

Cheers to surviving 2021. A great day trip to Hunter Valley and a great wine tasting at Vinden Wines. It’s funny, I started the year in the Hunter and now seems fitting to complete the year here. The wine and many lockdown cocktails have certainly helped 😉

Thanks everyone for having a read. When you look back at the year, it actually wasn’t too bad. We still have our health and the hope that 2022 will be better. Stay safe and sane everyone.

Wayne ☺️

Hunter Valley – in a day 🍷

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

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

The gang ready to head off with Teds Tours

The three vineyards we had the pleasure of visiting were: Saltire 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿, Vinden Wines and Tatler. All three were good on there own merit, however, Saltire really stuck out for us. The scenery was unreal. Delicious wines, fantastic setting, a Scottish heritage and the service was extremely warm and inviting. All in all, this vineyard set the bar high and the staff had a really good knowledge and appreciation of their products 🍷.

Saltire 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿
Vinden Wines

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

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

Thanks for reading guys, take care and stay safe.

Wayne ☺️

Jacaranda season 💜

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

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

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

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

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

McDougall Street, Kirribilli
McDougall Street, Kirribilli

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

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 🤗. Thanks for taking an interest in my love for the Jacaranda tree!!

Take care & stay safe,

Wayne ✌🏽

1 night in Manly ☺️

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

Drinks at the harbour waiting for the ferry ☺️

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks everyone for reading!

Keep safe,

Wayne ☺️

Halloween anyone? 🎃

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

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

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

Wayne 🧙‍♂️

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 🙏🏼

Wayne 😊

Sydney lockdown is officially over 🙏🏼

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading guys and stay safe 🙏🏼

Wayne 😜

Sydney Lockdown: My 5km radius

Bronte Rock Pool

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

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

Bondi Beach

2 – Centennial Park

3 – Double Bay

4 – Rose Bay

5 – Hermitage Foreshore Walk

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

6 – Paddington

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

Take care and stay safe everyone.

Wayne ☺️

Blogger Interview With Wayne

I had the honour of being interviewed by a fellow blogger that I really admire. Thank you Pooja of Lifesfinewhine! This is my 4 year blog anniversary and it feels fitting that this should appear as my 40th blog post. I am delighted to have made it this far and I am still thoroughly enjoying being a small part of the blogging community and connecting with other like minded people. Have a read of my interview with Pooja below 👇🏼

I would like to thank Wayne for stopping by lifesfinewhine- he has one of the best travel blogs I’ve had the pleasure of reading so be sure to stop …

Blogger Interview With Wayne

Lockdown 2.0

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

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

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

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

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

The Southern Highlands

Hey guys and gals. I have wanted to write a blog for so so long regarding the Southern Highlands. Having been there three times now, it’s safe to say we have fallen in love with this area. For those of you who may not know where this is, it’s an area of NSW about 110km south west of Sydney. By car it’s an hour and a half away or you can catch a train to a number of towns within the highlands and takes about three hours. The highlands is a district that is centered on the commercial towns of Mittagong, Bowral, Moss Vale, Burrawang, Bundanoon and Robertson, as well as the historic town of Berrima. There are also some smaller villages that include Burradoo, Sutton Forest, Colo Vale, Avoca, Yerrinbool, Exeter and Welby. As you can see, there are quite a number of towns and villages that make up the highlands. I will showcase the ones that I have been fortunate enough to see and highlight some key places that I enjoyed that you may want to check out for yourself. When I talk about the highlands to friends here in Sydney, they all have heard of Bowral as it is the largest town there, however, there is so much more to see and do in the other smaller towns and villages. Please check out my highlights below. Any towns or villages that I have not mentioned are simply due to the fact that I haven’t explored them as yet but they will definitely be on my to do list.

1- BERRIMA

Leafy, historic and full of character, this is a town not to be missed. The main street of Berrima is extremely quaint and has a lovely rustic feel. Lots of quirky shops with hand made goods. If in Berrima be sure to check out Gallery Whitewall Arts Projects. Lots of amazing art on display, some of which is really well known all over NSW.

2 – BUNDANOON (BUNDY)

The village of Bundanoon is located on the edge of Morton National Park. It’s a really lovely and welcoming village, steeped in history and offering character in abundance. The local pub, The Bundanoon Hotel is a great spot for a drink and pub lunch/dinner. As the name suggests, you can also stay there. We have stayed before and loved it. Staff are also extremely friendly. There are many walks and trails, small or larger if you prefer within the national park. This park is massive. We took a short walk to Echo Point where the views were outstanding. Fitzroy Falls is a very popular feature of Morton Park so be sure to check that out too. I feel like Bundanoon is New South Wales’ best kept secret. I can’t even put into words the love I have for this town. It is also home to the famous Brigadoon Festival where you can see plenty of pipe bands, heavy weight championships and all things Scottish. It aims to bring tourists to the area and raise funds for local charities. This is an event that I cannot wait to experience when it comes back next year.

3 – MITTAGONG

This town is known as the gateway to the Highlands and is a good place to begin exploring the area. It has some funky stores and nice places to eat, with Hendriks being a highlight for us. This is a really cool place, Hendriks cognac and wine is a warm and cosy bar that also serves delicious food. Be sure to try the jaffles (see below). For those that have never heard of these (myself included prior to this), a jaffle is a toasted sandwich traditionally made in a jaffle iron (like a toastie maker). This did not disappoint. The fillings you can have are stunning and very filling.

The largest town of the Highlands and is considered the entertainment and business hub. I liked it because it had a lot to offer, yet managed to maintain its character and charm. Dirty Janes was a highlight. This antique store in is home to over 50 different dealers who sell vintage and eclectic items that you may not find anywhere else. This store is huge and you will simply enjoy becoming immersed and meandering around the many, many stalls. Next door is Plantation Café. This café just has a right feel about it. It’s bright and warm, sells amazing coffee and is situated on Green Lane (which lives up to its name, plants everywhere). Next thing to check out is The Mill. It’s basically a really funky outdoor community hub that has vendors in their own spaces, doing their thing and doing it well. The large area has been transformed from an old timber and hardware supplier from the 1850s. You can find cafes, restaurants, an amazing ice cream store and a few unique stores where you can buy some perfect gifts. You can also hire out spaces if you have an event happening. This space is pretty awesome!

A charming town with lots of stunning scenery. Also known for being the setting for the movie Babe! First place to stop and see for us was The Cool Room Emporium…and who doesn’t love a good emporium!? This is a really cool place if you’re looking for a gift, perhaps something a bit more unusual. There is a real mix of old and new items, from clothing to books, home wares to toys. The building and grounds are pretty spectacular and provide that country Aussie, rustic feel. Next door to the emporium is the Robertson Cheese Factory. If you’re a lover of cheese, this is totally worth checking out. Here they specialize in local and imported ”off the farm” cheeses, as well as providing more sweet items such as fudges or homemade jams. 7km from Robertson you can find Budderoo National Park, home to the well known Carrington Falls. This waterfall is really impressive at any time of the year and has become a very popular tourist attraction.

6 – MOSS VALE

Known as the agricultural hub of the Highlands, this town has grown a lot and has some really cool places to check out, including cafes, restaurants etc. This is one town that I am eager to see more of. We were only able to check out this one place but boy it did not disappoint. I don’t even know where to start with this place. It was absolutely stunning. It is called Mount Ashby Estate and it brings a taste of France to the Australian countryside. Enjoy a glass of wine sitting around the French Farmhouse tables, sample some delicious cuisine and have a stroll around the vineyard for some epic insta worthy photos. There is also a furniture store on site known as Sally Beresford Antiques Shop. This shop show cases restored antique furniture items from Europe. These items are very stylish and definitely worth checking out.

I hope you have enjoyed seeing a little more of the Southern Highlands. It really is such a special place in NSW and deserves to be visited. If you want some local insights to the Highlands, check out The Fold Southern Highlands here Home Page | The Fold Southern Highlands. It also has a really helpful App that you can download for free from your App store. Also have a look at Visit NSW, it’s a really good place to have a look for anywhere in NSW and it’s my go to site for new places to visit. New South Wales, Australia | Official NSW Tourism Website (visitnsw.com). You can also check both of these out on Facebook or Instagram too.

I will be 100% heading back to the Highlands as soon as I can too, to see what else there is to be discovered in this amazing region.

Take care and thanks everyone for reading,

Wayne 🙂

12 months and 12 photos (2020)

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

JANUARY

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

FEBRUARY

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

MARCH

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

APRIL

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

MAY

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

JUNE

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

JULY

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

AUGUST

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

SEPTEMBER

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

OCTOBER

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

NOVEMBER

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

DECEMBER

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

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

Keep safe everyone,

Wayne ☺️

Travel during Covid

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

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

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

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

Stay tuned and keep safe everyone.

W 🙂

10 reasons to have a cruise vacation.

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

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1 – Not too pricey

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

2 – Amazing food

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

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3 – You are NEVER bored!

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

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

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

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

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Napkin folding classes – surprisingly fun and popular.

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

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Christmas carols in the promenade.

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One of our many strolls around the ship.

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Ocean views at the gym.

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Representing my gym onboard.

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Drinks with a view.

4 – Day trips

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

Noumea

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Mystery Island

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Maré

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Lifou

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5 – People you meet

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Perfect holiday with my partner in crime.

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Beautiful people.

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Such a pleasure meeting the big man.

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Great memories with even greater people.

6 – The Staff

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

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Loved these guys, amazing staff.

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Big love for Wilbert.

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

7 – The bars

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The Viking – perfect viewing spot.

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Views (nice to see the pool being cleaned).

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Drinks were unreal at The Tavern.

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Our new fave, brandy and baileys.

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Our most favourite bar – Schooner Bar.

8 – Sunsets

These were just stunning.

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9 – An easy holiday

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

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

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

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

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

10 – The atmosphere/ambiance

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

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

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

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Christmas vibes.

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

Thanks everyone for reading.

W 🙂

 

12 months and 12 photos (2019)

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

January – Taveuni

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

February – Belfast comes to Melbourne

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

March – Meet my parents in Thailand

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

April – 10 years later

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

May – Home

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

June – A time of reflection

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

July – Quality time

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

August – Leura

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

September – A personal journey

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

October – Wedding dress shopping

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

Novemeber – My cousin

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

December – Christmas time

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

Northern Ireland: An alternative guide – part 2 ✌🏽

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

Grand Central Hotel Belfast – The Observatory

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

Glass of Thrones

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

Belfast street art

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

Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort

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

City of Derry Jazz Festival

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

Portballintrae Causeway Loop

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

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

W 😊

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