Category Archives: Destinations

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.

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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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Gray or Grey??


Like “To Be or not To Be” then Gray or Grey? …….that is the question……

Is gray a colour or lack of colour?  Is gray an adjective, noun or verb?

Gray to Americans and Grey to English. Either way, to me gray or grey is miserable!

The word conjures up views of english grey skies, full of rain, but yet cloudless, just a vast grey sky.   An intermediate between black and white – a “nothing” colour.

Grey is a fence-sitter, neither one nor the other,  detached, neutral, indecisive, does not stimulate, energise, or excite.

Grey is boring and sad, depressing. greynsky

Grey – a colour without colour.

Imagine a world without Grey………..

L’ile Rousse


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We based ourselves in this little coastal town on the North-western side of Corsica for three fabulous weeks.  After much research I decided on L’Ile Rousse because it looked to have everything we craved; beach, daily markets for fresh produce, a town square for events and people-watching, a magnitude of restaurants and of course, glorious weather!

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Marche L'Ile Rousse
Daily fresh produce market

We looked forward to our morning trips to the market, wandering through and tasting all the fresh produce!  Never needed breakfast! The sellers liked to try out their English and to correct our badly pronounced French, all the while offering us a little taste of this and that!  There was all different kinds of honey, cheeses,  olives, seasonal fruit and vegetables, bread and pastries and of course, our favourite – charcuterie!   Charcuterie is king!!!!

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L’ile Rousse beach

Set in a bay, the town beach was always busy, very popular with families and people would be there until sunset in the evening. There are a lot of other accessible beaches just outside of L’Ile Rousse which are not so busy, but you need to take your own shade, the sun can be relentless. Our favourite go-to beach was close to some large rocks that divided the sandy beach.  It made like a small lagoon style area that was perfect for me –  being a non-swimmer!  (Yes, I know, I live in Australia and I can’t swim!!).

The town was alive morning, day and night, luckily not too busy, June is just before the holiday season but it was busy enough to be interesting. Always something to see, the local men playing petanque was particularly fun and Rick did try to have a go one night!

They take their game very seriously, even playing in carparks if necessary!  petanqueIn 2016 L’Ile Rousse held the 6th International Petanque Pascal-Paoli

In the evenings the hardest thing was where to eat – should we eat in (with all that fresh food we had bought in the morning) or go out?  Then the next decision was if we go out where to eat?  So many choices, so many restaurants – and ALL GOOD!!

I think we only ate at the same place 3 times in the 3 weeks we were there, we aimed to try somewhere different each night, but there was a few restaurants that deserved a come-back!

L’Ile Rousse is not all about food, wine and beaches though. It has a great history.   It was founded in 1758 by Pasquale Paoli to create a port that would not be in the hands of the Genoese like Calvi, and there are restaurants, schools and hotels named after him.

 

 

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Our Daily (Corsican) Bread…..


Remember I said we like food and wine?  Well Corsica is THE place for both! The wonderful charcuterie that comes from the wild boar is amazing!  I must say that it is the best we have ever had from anywhere on the planet. affinageAlmost all cafes, restaurants and bistros serve charcuterie platters for sharing and they usually come with olives, cornichons and the best-ever french bread!

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A fresh baguette cost around a dollar, so we bought one every morning!  It doesn’t need any butter, just slice and eat!  plattterAlong with some wine and maybe olives, pate and cornichons what else does one need??

Of Course, Corsica isn’t just good for charcuterie and bread, it also has the best Gelato I have tasted!  And it’s eaten anytime of the day, no guilt – just whenever you fancy!   Are you starting to see why I loved Corsica so much?? IMG_1892

Where else can you have a glass of wine in one hand and a huge gelato in the other at  ten o’clock in the morning?   That’s my idea of morning tea!!

I found Corsican wines to be not so “full-bodied” (if that’s the right terminology!), almost weak in a way, but that’s what made them so drinkable!  It’s easy to see why the locals sit and chat with a glass or two any time of the day, starting as early as breakfast sometimes.  Yet, saying that,  even though people seemed to drink early and maybe throughout the day, not once did we see any bad behaviour.

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Corsican food is mostly organic, with  local produce available direct from growers and at farmers’ markets.  Products include; cheeses, olives, vegetables and fruits, honey, herbs and spices, nuts and of course, charcuterie. The sellers encourage sampling before buying so it’s a great way to spend a morning!

500_____LIQUEUR DE MYRTE_136Apart from their wines, Corsican’s like their home-made  Liqueur de Myrte.  Made from the berries and leaves of the red myrtle tree, it is usually drunk after a meal, like a port. It is so popular that in most restaurants they just give you the bottle and leave you to help yourself after your meal at no charge!

Surprisingly enough, although Corsica is an island, it is not renowned for seafood. This is perhaps due to the Corsicans moving more inland and up in the mountains many years ago. You can still get seafood in some restaurants, but you will pay for it.

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Where’s Corsica?


Oops!  This has become more like a “London Blog” – not my original intention!  But as you probably guessed it is my love!

So how about a bit of Corsica for a diversion?  Corsica mapWhen we first told our friends we were going to Corsica for a holiday, most of them said “where’s that?” The next question was “What made you choose Corsica?”

Corsica or Corse to the locals, is a small island above Sardinia, between France and Italy. Although it is closer to Italy it actually belongs to France, and is French speaking.

Well, what makes us choose any place?

FOOD, WINE and PEOPLE of course!        Or should I say of Corse!!!

Before we went I thought it would be a mixture of the two cultures, but in reality, Corsica has a culture all of it’s own.

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Isula Rossa (Ile Rousse) Corse

We spent three fabulous weeks on this beautiful island, basing ourselves in Ile Rousse with a hire car to do day trips and once an overnight stay in Bonifacio.

Although the distance between Ile Rousse and Bonifacio is just about 185kms, the mountainous terrain means it takes about 3.5hrs! It was worth the drive, and the sights on the way were awesome!

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Bonifacio Harbour

I must admit, the first day we drove around the mountains (on the wrong side of the road  – well for us it was!)  I had my heart in my mouth at every bend!  From a sheer drop on one side to an overhanging cliff on the other, cyclists, wild pigs, goats and a few cows to contend with, I was so glad to see our first stop and lunch! A couple of Corsican wines and some food soon relaxed me and a stern word or two from my husband Rick kept me quiet for the rest of the trip!

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Then it was back to our apartment and a dip in the pool before venturing into the town for dinner.

thumb_IMG_1916_1024       Ile Rousse is a picturesque coastal town at the bottom of the mountains. With Place Pascal Paoli home to daily fresh food markets, local butchers, bakers, and bistros, it was the perfect place for us.

Each morning we would wander around the markets and artisan shops sampling (and sometimes buying) fresh local produce.

A mid morning stop was mandatory for a glass or two of Corsican vino, accompanied by the obligatory bowl of corsican olives. Just to sit and people watch was magic and of course the weather was great!

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I think I have to dedicate some more posts to this awesome island – Corsica has so much to offer, and one day we would love to go back!

If you have been there I would love to hear your thoughts and comments, so stay tuned for more of this beautiful place.

corse map

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