They called it Paradise!


And paradise it is,  even today!

Norfolk Island 127

Norfolk island map

Norfolk Island is about a 2hr flight from either Brisbane or Sydney  and no matter where you are coming from, it is well worth the journey.

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Famous for it’s Norfolk Pine trees, this tiny sub-tropical island is the idyllic place for a holiday.  A peaceful haven to get away to, leaving the hustle and bustle behind.  We spent 2 weeks there and both agreed it wasn’t long enough.  One day we will return to do all the things we didn’t have time for the first time.                   Find accommodation on Norfolk Island

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Original Ford truck still running tours for Pioneer Village

So why is it called paradise?  Well that came from the first settlers and when you go there you can see why.  I think it’s paradise for everything it DOESN’T have!

It’s an island, but doesn’t have any pesky seagulls to steal your food on the beach!  It doesn’t have any poisonous plants or insects.  It doesn’t have any (or at least so little it’s not mentioned) crime – after all where would a criminal run to? And most of all it doesn’t have any flies to annoy you when you’re dining alfresco.

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Country lane where cows have right of way!

What it does offer is picturesque scenery,  fantastic fishing (my husband calls it ‘catching’ not fishing!)  great local produce, safe swimming beaches and the most friendly locals ever!  Getting used to doing the “Norfolk Wave” was quite fun, it’s a subtle one finger raise from the steering wheel as you pass another car!

And talking of cars,  a hire car usually comes included with your accommodation!  That’s because even though it is a small island, only 8kms x 5kms,  it is full of hills and winding roads, a car is really essential.  Just drive slowly to avoid the many roosters and cows that roam free everywhere. (oh yeah, and the pot-holes in the roads!)

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Emily Bay safe swimming inside the reef

Norfolk Island is an external territory of Australia, and was self-governed up until 2016.  It has one pub, mainly for the younger crowd, but has a golf club, a Leagues Club and an RSL club. You’ll find you won’t be allowed to drink alone, the locals like to make everyone feel at home and are really welcoming.  The capital – yes an 8x5km island has a capital,  Kingston,  is quite cosmopolitan with some great restaurants, cafes and bistros with alfresco dining.  Off the beaten track you can also find some nice homely rustic restaurants, little hidden gems.

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The history of Norfolk Island goes right back to the Mutiny on the Bounty which is what brought us there in the first place – read more about that on my other post here.

There is plenty to do on Norfolk Island, like I said,  we left there after two weeks wishing we had more time. Between museums, art gallery, pioneer village, historic buildings, national park walk trails, beautiful swimming beaches, wineries, and oh so much more!

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I could really go on forever raving about Norfolk,  but I’m not going to, you really need to go see and enjoy it for yourself.

 

 

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Why Norfolk Island?


When we said we were going to Norfolk Island people either asked “where’s that?”  or “why there?”

Well apart from the fact we like going to places little known and especially small islands (Norfolk is about 8x5kms) I had found out I actually had a connection there.  I’m not sure if it still holds true, but when we went there the rule was that to be able to live on Norfolk you had to have ancestry there.mutiny on the bounty

Fletcher Christian led the mutiny on the “Bounty” and ejected  Captain Bligh and those loyal to him from the ship. Christian and eight mutineers, one being John Adams, along with 18 Tahitians lived on Pitcairn Island and made it their home for almost 20 years.

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I have ancestry there.  A distant (very distant) maternal uncle was John Adams.

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John Adams

A Cockney orphan, had been brought up in the poorhouse, and joined the Bounty under the name of Alexander Smith.   In Pitcairn, Adams filled his days with Bible reading and drinking spirits distilled from the juices of the ti-tree root.   He turned religious and took upon himself the task of educating children.

By the 1850’s Pitcairn had out grown their tiny island and Queen Victoria agreed to relocate the islanders to Norfolk Island. 193 men, woman and children arrived to Norfolk on 8 June 1856. The settling of the Pitcairners on Norfolk Island marked a complete break from the island’s convict past, establishing new patterns of life.

So there you have it – my reason for wanting to visit Norfolk Island!

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John Adams Grave on Pitcairn Island

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Banana and Pomegranate Sponge


Check out this girls blog – her recipes are amazing!

GreenCooking

Hi all! So sorry about the delay since my last blog post – I’ve had a lot to do, and let’s just say a recipe I was planning to share didn’t quite go to plan…

Today I’ve made a Banana and Pomegranate Sponge, with a lemon icing – the addition of pomegranate makes this sponge beautifully moist, whilst also contributing a delicious flavour.I hope you like it!

Ingredients:

  • 2 bananas, mashed
  • pomegranate seeds from one pomegranate (around 100g)
  • 100g butter
  • 100g sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1tbsp milk
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 150g self-raising flour
  • Icing sugar (to decorate)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan
  2. In a bowl, cream together the butter and sugar dsc_0006.jpg Creaming the butter and sugar
  3. Add the eggs and bananas, and mix well until combined
  4. Add the milk, baking powder and vanilla extract dsc_0007.jpg Doesn’t look very appetising at this stage!

  5. Slowly combine the flour with…

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My Top 2 Places to Eat in Mandurah


Mandurah has a bevy of great cafes, restaurants and the like, in fact so many that sometimes we sit and debate for hours where to go to eat!  Luckily for us, all are within walking distance so a few wines or beers with dinner is never a problem.  There are western A’ La Carte places,  Chinese,  Malaysian,  Thai,  Indonesian,  Vietnamese,  Mexican,  Rib & Steak houses,  Italian,  and probably more that I can’t think of right this moment!

So to pick my 2 favourite places was really, really hard! But, here they are:

Murphy’s Irish Pub

Oh where do I start, the food, the service, the entertainment?  Because all of that is good, I mean REALLY good!  Owned and operated by Edward Janiec,  AKA “The Man Who Can’t Say NO”  the staff are  friendly and extremely helpful, with wait-time at the bar and tables pretty much non-existent.

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Murphy’s Irish Pub, Mandurah Terrace

We have been dining here fairly regularly  since it opened in 2007 and it has become our “go-to” place if we decide to eat out at the last minute because we know we will NEVER be turned away.  Which is why I nicknamed Edward “The Man Who Can’t Say NO”.Edward

“Sorry we are full”  is a phrase that just isn’t in Edwards’ vocabulary, and if you were to ask any of his staff if they are fully booked, they just look at you like you’re mad!  There is always another table and some chairs to be found somewhere!

Murphy’s has some kind of entertainment on every night of the week, be it a quiz, karaoke or music, there is never a dull evening, and on weekends, the afternoons are also filled with music and sport on the many tv screens.

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Entertainment on a Sunday night

Murphy’s isn’t a place I’d recommend for a romantic dinner, but I say save the romance for when you get home and enjoy a meal at Murphy’s first!

Oh, and the food, of course I haven’t said anything about the food yet!  Well guess what,  I’m not going to, I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves, and honestly, would I be raving about a place if the food was no good? You just have to go and try it for yourself.

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Thai on the Terrace

If you like authentic Thai food in equally authentic setting, then Thai on the Terrace is the place to go.  menu

You can choose to have your dishes any stage of spiciness from none at all (woosy) or,  like my husband,  over the top Thai hot (masochist).  The menu is extensive and the staff are lovely Thai girls,  as is the owner/chef.  Thai on the Terrace is a no-fuss kind of place, where the importance is put into the food.

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Small and intimate dining room

We have never been disappointed here, whether we have dined in or had take-away.  I like small owner/operator type places, and Thai on the Terrace is the sort of restaurant you’d expect to find in a back street in Thailand, run by a family. I you find yourself visiting Mandurah  and like Thai food, do yourself a favour and give this place a try.

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Nice is Nice…


The recent happenings in Manchester and London reminded me of the horrible night in Nice,  when so many people were killed or injured on the Promenade Des Anglais.  Such a sad night for the whole world, something we will never forget,  and it would be remiss of me to do this post without a mention or a thought to all those that suffered that night.

Hearts

Exactly one week before that night, we had been in Nice, and on our last night had been celebrating with thousands of people on the soccer win over Germany.  The streets were alive with locals, tourists, soccer fans, adults and children everywhere.  There were car horns blaring,  fire-crackers,  singing and dancing in the streets.  It was amazing!   We had such a wonderful time because NICE is NICE!

The Promenade Des Anglais is awesome,  running along the beach it’s the perfect place to wander along or sit and people watch,  and as it is covered, there is plenty of shade from the hot south of France sunshine.   We spent every evening doing just that and of course, chatting with the street vendors and performers.

castle hill view nice

Nice has much, much more to offer than just the Promenade, and in our few days there we managed to explore a some of these places.

We were lucky enough to stay at the Mercure Hotel, which is on a corner off the Promenade and so we were able to walk everywhere.  And walk we did!  Right after a wonderful breakfast in the hotel, we would set off each morning in a different direction to see what we could find.            Search Flights to Nice

Our first day was spent wandering around the old town of Nice, with narrow streets, loads of shops,  cafes,  bars and restaurants.  There isn’t much you can’t get in the old town!  It is a really pretty part of Nice and most of the  shops are decorated with hanging baskets outside.  There are numerous artisan bakers, and little places selling all sorts of delicacies like olives, cheeses, pickles, cured meats and local sauces and wines.  It made us a little sorry we weren’t in a self-catering apartment!  Nice Old Town covers quite a large area,  and it’s easy to spend a whole day wandering around, stopping now and then for “une verre de vin” (or two) and of course some lunch!

Flowers Old Town Nice
Flowers for sale, Old Town Nice

My favourite part of the old town was Cours Saleya , known as Marche aux Fleurs  which is a flower and fruit and vegetable market, held every morning.  I have never seen so many flower displays in one place before.

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Vegetable stalls Cours Saleya

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Day 2 sent us past the Old Town and around to the port where the ferries come in from Corsica,  this walk along the waterfront offers some great views back into Nice.  From there we found ourselves looking up to the cliffs and seeing people walking around, we wondered how to get up there without a car.  (It was a long way up and I certainly wasn’t keen on climbing the hill!).  While standing at the bottom looking at the steps debating shall we/shan’t we? I noticed a little sign and barely visible arrow pointing to “Elevator” Yes! There is a God!  I was going to get to the top and still be able to breath!  And so glad I was,  it would have been such a shame to miss what awaited us at the top.

View over Port in Nice
View over Port in Nice
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Waterfall at Castle Hill, Nice France

The Castle Park (Parc du Chateau) is apparently one of Nice’s top tourist attractions and I can see why, it is beautiful and gives amazing  360 views of Nice. I’m a bit ashamed to say I had never heard of it before we went there!  It isn’t just the views though, it is the gardens, statues, remains of the original chateau and the history that is really interesting. Having been there it is a place I would advise all visitors to Nice to make sure they don’t miss.

Day 3 – Just wandering.  As our second day was so full-on we decided to just wander the nearby streets and so glad we did!  Only a block away in the opposite direction to the Old Town we found a shopping mecca!  All the brand names you could think of,  but with a price tag to match I might add!  There were clothes, shoes, electronics, everything and anything,  and all the genuine article!              Find Hotels in Nice

Of course, once again we managed to find some great little drinking and eating venues, and a place to go back to that evening for dinner.

Seafood Chowder Nice
Seafood Chowder Nice, France

On a narrow side street, a bit away from the crowds, we found a small family run Italian restaurant where Rick had a seafood chowder served in a crusty cob!

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I’ll leave you with this delightful video of the water park….

 

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Book review: Scandinavian Comfort Food by Trine Hahnemann


The new Hygge Scandinavian trend just hitting Australia!

Hello Hygge

If you’re a regular on this blog, I’m sure you’ll be familiar with Trine Hahnemann, the author of Scandinavian Christmas, which is the book that first introduced me to the concept of hygge (I talk about it a bit more in this post). But inexplicably, I’ve seen hardly anyone talking about Scandinavian Comfort Food. Is it because the H-word is relegated to the subtitle (‘Embracing the art of hygge’) and nobody realised it was bang on trend? Who knows. But I’ve had my copy since the end of last year (when Britain reached peak hygge), so I think it’s high time I shared my thoughts!

Scandinavian Comfort Food by Trine Hahnemann

Much like Nigella, Trine gives a lot of context and anecdotes to punctuate her recipes, and I love that. As you may know, I really enjoy reading recipe books as a form of escapism in bed before I go to sleep, so reading…

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Pea and Ham Soup


Winter’s arrived,  so here’s a nice hearty “belly-filling” soup to keep you warm!

Pea and Ham Soup
Pea and Ham Soup

 Pea and Ham Soup.

Ingredients: 

1 Smoked ham hock.

1 medium onion, diced.

2 garlic cloves, sliced or diced.

2 sticks celery, with leaves, diced small.

2 small carrots, diced.

2 cups yellow split peas.

2  Chicken stock cubes.

1 tablespoon olive oil.

Method:

Soak the split peas in a bowl of warm water.

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and sauté the diced onion, celery and garlic until soft,  then remove,  let cool and puree until smooth.

Meanwhile, put the ham hock into a saucepan and cover with with water,  bring to the boil and then simmer for about an hour.  It is ready when the meat starts to fall off the bone.  Remove from saucepan and while it cools,  strain the cooking water into the large saucepan.  Add the pureed mixture of onion, garlic and celery,  chicken stock cubes and diced carrots.

Drain and rinse the split peas and add to the stock and bring to the boil, then simmer for a couple of hours until the peas are soft and the soup has thickened.  (If too thick, just add extra water or chicken stock).

Remove all the meat from the ham hock bone and chop into bite size pieces.  (Not always possible, it usually just falls apart!),  add to the soup.  Season with pepper to taste.

Serve with a crusty loaf or roll.

This soup will keep for a few days  (although not in our house –  it’s always gone by the next day!) it just might need diluting a bit when reheating as it tends to thicken quite a lot.

Enjoy!

 

 

Getting out of Perth


A great piece on Western Australia by Mel & Suan

Traveling Matters to us

No, we are suggesting that you don’t go to Perth. It is a nice city. Perhaps it has grown a lot bigger, busier, more crowded since we last set foot there. We like to think about it as – taking a break that includes being outside of Perth.

Why?

Because there are simply so many things to see and do outside of the city. You know that already. But a word of warning. Being situated on the western coast of West Australia state, the distances will be long and the journeys could be a little stifling especially in the summer heat. So choose the time of your visit carefully…

This post is a link to a reminisce of our journey taken many years back. And in some ways we think it is still relevant to share. Because it was made in the early innings of our travel “career” together. Hmm…travel…

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A Haunting in Chagford


It was by chance that we happened on the little town of Chagford one cold and rainy evening………

Sounds like the beginning of a scary story eh?  It wasn’t exactly scary, but it was interesting, and my husband did say he wasn’t keen to stay another night!

We stayed at The Three Crowns, which was once an old manor house belonging to Sir John Whyddon,   before the hotel had it’s refurbishment,  and it was, for us, the quintessential piece of English history.  Built in the thirteenth century,  with big open fireplaces, oak beams and narrow winding stone steps to the bedrooms, The Three Crowns had a real sense of history.

three crowns inn
Three Crowns Inn

Travelling through Dartmoor can be pretty but can also be pretty spooky!

If you’ve ever been to this part of England, you’ll know that you don’t really want to be driving at night on the moors.

Even though it was mid-summer, the moors are cold and wet and often covered in mist.

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Dartmoor, Devon, England

After checking in we dumped our bags in our room, (The Sidney Godolphin Room) and took a few photos admiring the four poster bed and beautiful portrait of the cavalier behind a comfy winged-back chair.  Then we went downstairs to the bar for dinner, a few drinks, and a chat with the locals. That’s when it started to get interesting………

bed chagford inn
Four poster bed Three Crowns Inn

A woman who used to work there but had since moved away,  was planning to come and celebrate her next birthday there and asked the manager to book her a room.  He winked at the other barman and said  “Yes you can have the Godolphin Room”   To which the woman quickly snapped back and said  “No thanks – that’s haunted!”

I looked at my husband in horror and he laughed, saying they were just winding us up and it was fine. He was a non-believer in things that go bump in the night.  I said was…..

So after a few drinks and laughs we decided to call it a night and head up to our room. We said goodnight to the bar staff, who both said goodnight back, with the added phrase “take care”.  Is it normal in England to remind people to take care when retiring for the night?  How much trouble can you get into when going to sleep?

Not really being a pair of scardy-cats and relaxed by the drinks, we both fell asleep quite quickly.

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I woke in the night because I had that sensation that some-one was watching me, c’mon, you all know what that feels like!   I just lay there unable to go back to sleep for ages,  I thought I had heard creaking footsteps walking around the bed.  There was of course no-one else in the room except my husband sound asleep next to me.  Or so I thought….

Well, he was next to me, but he too was awake, having had the same “somebody watching me”  feeling and also hearing the creaky floorboards!

Fireplace Chagford
Fireplace in the bar at Three Crowns Inn, Chagford

Before going down for breakfast the next morning, I noticed the painting of Sidney Godolphin on the wall  was hanging a bit wonky,  but neither of us could remember if it was like that all the time, was it our imaginations just getting the better of us?

We told the staff about our night visitor, real or imagined, and they casually remarked, “Oh, again?”

We later found out that it was in the stone porch entrance that young Sidney Godolphin, aged 32, Cavalier and poet, and described as ‘one of the four wheels of Charles 1sts wain,’ was killed during a skirmish with the Roundheads in 1642.  He died on one of the stone seats in the sides of the porch.

When we returned to Australia and had our photos developed,  there was the one of Rick in the winged armchair with the painting behind him, and yes, you guessed it – it was straight!

Believe what you will!!!   Would I stay there again?  Most certainly!!

Would you?   If you don’t believe me, maybe you should try for yourself!

Portrait chagford
You can just see the painting, and yes it is straight!

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Chagford itself is a beautiful market town, they used to have wild pony sales, and neighbouring village Tavistock still hosts the annual Goose Fair!

pepperpot
Pepperpot building, market square, Chagford

Sitting opposite The Three Crowns is the church St Michael of Archangel, built in the 15th Century,  with some parts dating back as early as the 13th Century.  This church was also the place where Mary Wydden was about to marry when she was murdered by a jilted admirer.

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St Michael of Archangel, Chagford

So maybe The Three Crowns has two nightly visitors?   I dare you to visit and stay in the Sidney Godolphin Room !!

 

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The moors, beautiful by day

Chagford isn’t the least bit touristy I couldn’t find any little tacky something to bring home, so all we have is photos and memories.

Ahhh  but what memories!!

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Have a Recipe you’d like to Share?


Everyone loves a new but tried and tested recipe, so I’m going to post a new one each week.

Baby Octopus Salad

If you have an all time favourite that you’d like to share with others, please send it to me by email and I will feature it on my site.  Feel free to add a link to your own site too, as I’m sure others would love to read more of your offerings.

I’m looking forward to trying out many new recipes from you, and also interested in getting feedback from any of mine you have tried.

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