Category Archives: Destinations

They called it Paradise!


And paradise it is,  even today!

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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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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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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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.

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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………

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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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Oldest Pub in Britain?


This post by Stephen Liddell is well worth a read!  Click the link and enjoy his blog – you won’t regret it!

This time last week I was giving a lovely guided tour to a charming couple to the old Roman city of St Albans which as it happens is just 5 miles from my house and an hour out of central London. We visited some of the sights which I might post on next time but […]

via Ye Olde Fighting Cock – The Oldest Pub in Britain? — Stephen Liddell

So, Exactly Where is Mandurah?


It just occurred to me that in my previous post about my town,  I never actually said where “my town, Mandurah” is on the map!

Well Mandurah is a beautiful low-rise city about an hours drive south along the coast from Perth, Western Australia.

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I have lived in Mandurah since 2009, and love every little part of it. From the beautiful grassy foreshore, with its walkways, shady trees and barbecues, to the white sandy beaches ideal for swimming and fishing.

Mandurah is a fantastic holiday destination for families and couples, it has so much to offer, especially with the wonderful sunshine this part of the country enjoys.  One thing I really enjoy is taking friends out on our boat at Christmas, through the canals to see the lights displayed at many of the houses.  The Mandurah Christmas Lights in the canals has gained world recognition and rightly so!  IMG_1461

I’m afraid my photos don’t do the lights justice, they are truly magical and to watch children’s  (and adults too I might add)  faces when they see them is priceless….

Mandurah has always been a holiday town,  and I remember coming here for a “day out” with my sister and her family when I first came to Australia. There has been so many changes over the last 40-odd years, Mandurah has really kept up with the times.  Some may say its progress, others may not!  One good thing is that through all the changes, (I won’t say “improvements”)  Mandurah has managed to keep quite a few heritage sites and has not forgotten it’s days of yore!  Many streets are named after founders of the town and the museum houses some great memorabilia. mandurah-traffic-bridge-boardwalk-east-rcn-d162355689.png Even as I write this, more changes are being made, the new traffic bridge is almost finished, as the old one just cannot cope with the amount of traffic that passes each day. There will be walkways and cycle paths underneath and platforms at either side for fishing.

water  sport

Mandurah  also plays host to many festivites throughout the year,  in March there is the Crabfest where locals and visitors can enjoy loads of activities on the foreshore, watch watersports and shows, partake in cooking classes and demonstrations,  and of course plenty of food and  beer on offer! There is always a well-known band playing in the open air stage and when the sun goes down, the fireworks start!

Many Sunday afternoons throughout summer,  parks play host to outdoor concerts sundownerwhere people come deckchair under arm and picnic basket in hand to sit, relax or get up and dance to live music.  My town – Mandurah I just love it!!

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My Town – Mandurah


There are numerous travel bloggers to be found on the net, but very few write about their home town. And it occurred to me recently just how beautiful my home town is.  Well Mandurah is officially a city but that brings visions of lots of skyscrapers and a busy CBD, which Mandurah doesn’t have, so I like to call it a Town.

 

I am extremely fortunate to live here, 1.5kms from the town centre, an easy stroll along the water’s edge. Whilst on my (I’d like to say daily but that would be a lie!) walk I had the privilege of witnessing a mother dolphin and her calf playing in the Estuary.  This is not uncommon, as there are a couple of dolphin families living in our Estuary, along with pelicans and many other birds. It’s not unusual to sit in our front garden and watch the colourful parrots bathing and feeding, right there in front of us.

Mandurah is a town right on the ocean’s doorstep with magnificent beaches and huge Estuary for boating, crabbing and fishing enthusiasts.   Before we came to live here, we would spend weekends in the marina on our boat.  I always thought it would spoil the “holiday” feeling if we moved here permanently.  How wrong I was!  Mandurah is a holiday town, no two ways about it, and whether you live here or are just visiting, it always has that “holiday” feeling.   It’s just that kind of place.

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So what else can I say about Mandurah?  I never realised how much I take for granted until I started writing this post.  I live and breathe here, yet I have had to stop and really think about what to write – I thought it would just flow out!  But then maybe that’s because there is so much going on here, which bits do I include?  The restaurant scene? The arts scene?  The festivals? The watersports?  The spectacular sunsets?

Have you visited Mandurah as a tourist?  What did you like most about it?  Were we a friendly lot?  Would love to get your feedback on my town.  Do you want to know more about Mandurah – you ask and I’ll post it!

Perhaps just some images in this post and more details in more posts…………….. stay tuned!!

 

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