Wordless Wednesday – duck

While I’m away in Australia where I’ll be taking thousands of photos – yes, really – I’m going to keep Wordless Wednesday going. I generally try and feature a photograph from my archive but one taken at a similar time of year.

I’ll also continue to let the picture speak for itself, otherwise it’s no longer Wordless Wednesday!

(Note for Carole Ann: this photo is from our stay last year in Pornichet and features a giant duck on the grass overlooking the hotel pool.)


Chillin’ in Byron Bay

Back in 2016 I bought a fabulous cookery book from Dymocks in Melbourne called Three Blue Ducks, the writers of which had just opened their second restaurant in Byron Bay. The location lodged in my subconscious and when I started to plan our trip it resurfaced.

Hence we spent a few days in Byron Bay, located 800 km (500 miles) north of Sydney and 173 km ( 109 miles) south of Brisbane. The town has the distinction of being one of the places along the east coast of Australia which was named for the poet Byron’s great-uncle, by his friend and fellow navigator, one Captain James Cook.

There can be few towns in Australia with a more contradictory identity than Byron Bay. On the one hand it has, historically, been associated with the alternative lifestyle movement of the 1970s and seen as a kind of interesting hippie retreat in northern NSW which now attracts backpackers.

On another level it is a very upmarket get-away-from-it-all retreat for wealthy baby boomers and Australian celebrities who respectively inhabit the various resorts and the serious property porn overlooking the Bay. In that respect, it’s more like the Californian coastal towns of Carmel and Monterey in its evolution moving from surfers to artists, tourists and celebrities.

We found Byron Bay to be a quiet, charming seaside town which has experienced a population boom because it boasts excellent surfing and plenty of good land. Without the publicity few people would drive off the Pacific Highway to visit and only holiday makers would decide to stay awhile.

The overwhelming impression is that of a town hiding behind Cape Byron, nestled in between the rocky headland and the hills which rise to the west. I understand that in the past five years it has grown dramatically and it now spreads in every direction – both up and down the coast and well into the hinterland.

Public pressure has halted both Club Med and McDonald’s from moving in; the green-dominated Byron Shire Council has banned drive-in takeaway food outlets from the town centre; buildings have been restricted to three storeys in height; and a moratorium has been placed on high-density development. In those actions lie the heart of contemporary Byron Bay.

We stayed at a well-known eco-resort, just outside of town with 92 suites backing onto windswept Tallow Beach and engulfed by 45 acres of lush sub-tropical rainforest inhabited by shy wallabies, some very entertaining bird life and a species of endangered large snails. We never saw any snails but we saw (and heard) the bush turkeys and wallabies.

Timber boardwalks connect the various resort buildings which radiate out from a decked central hub of an infinity pool, day spa, wellness centre and restaurant. We much enjoyed walking around the resort gazing at the Bangalow Palms and Paperbarks as we meandered back to our suite from long walks along the beach. In the mornings, it’s the first place in Australia to see the sun, its noisy whipbirds act as nature’s alarm clock.

We also pottered around the town which has an amazing mix of shops and eateries, plenty of festivals plus regular food and craft markets. But, again, the beach was a big draw with many coming down to watch the spectacular sunsets each evening.

Of course, I had to visit The Farm and its Three Blue Ducks restaurant which more than lived up to my expectations. We ate lunch there on Monday – fully-booked over the weekend – and the place was really buzzing. Aside from the spectacular organic food, The Farm’s main attractions are its wildlife: cute cuddly Highland cattle, free-range chickens, black  pigs and their oh-so-cute piglets, plus the bee hives.

Byron Bay more than lived up to the hype and we’d be happy to return but, for now, it was back to the Pacific Highway and on to Brisbane.

Sunshine’s Macro Monday #5

I missed the first two weeks of this challenge so it’s only my third attempt at taking close ups. I wasn’t sure my mini iPad would be up to the job but I think it is, I just need more practice!

Here’s a few photos from our lunchtime visit to an award winning restaurant called The Farm. The visiting children loved chasing the chicken around the gardens and petting this Highland calf. The latter seemed to enjoy the attention more than the long-suffering former!



Liebster Award II

Two Liebster Awards in a week! Woman of mystery and newbie blogger Dragon Warrior 07987 who posts on the wonderfully named Den of Dreams kindly made the award. According to her site, she’s a day-dreamer who loves to read, write, draw and dwell in her magical world called Cygnet. I can certainly attest to her skill at drawing as her posts are illustrated with her charming pictures. She also weaves a mean tale. Do check out her blog and give her a follow.

The Rules:

1. Thank the Blogger who nominated you.

2. Share 11 facts about yourself.

3. Answer the questions the blogger asked you.

4. Nominate 11 lucky bloggers and make them happy.

5. Ask your nominees 11 further questions.

6. Notify your 11 nominees.

11 Facts about myself:

1. I’m a keen cyclist, easily the toughest sport I’ve tried, and a keen fan of cycling. Many of my travels are worked around the season’s major races, particularly the three Grand Tours.

2. In theory I have retired but I could well be the busiest retiree you’ve ever met.

4. I do not act my age, ever!

5. I love cooking and my friends, particularly the French ones, joke that I have a Michelin star – if only!

6. I am useless at handicrafts but one of these days…………….

7. I love animals but don’t have any pets.

8. I like children but (from choice) don’t have any of my own. Instead I borrow those of friends.

9. I love planning our trips almost as much as the trip itself.

10. I’m married to a man who my family call “The Man who just Turns Up!”

11. I cannot dance.

Dragon Warrior’s Questions:

1. How can you describe creativity?

Creativity is the capability or act of conceiving something original or unusual.

2. What brings you most smiles?


3. What is your favourite type of blog post?

I don’t have a favourite. I like lots of different ones.

4. If you could get into any fictional place, where would it be?

There’s too many places I still want to visit without worrying about fictional ones. However I’d love to visit The Barefoot Contessa’s house and garden in The Hamptons.

5. Favourite fictional character?

I don’t have one.

6. The story you always wanted to write?

I don’t write fiction. If I were to write a book it would be a cookery one.

7. Something you wish people knew about you?

After two Liebster awards I must now be an open book.

8. Do you keep notebooks? Or journal or diary?

No, though I do jot stuff down on my iPad: shopping lists, packing lists, “to do” lists, ideas for blog posts…..

9. Favourite holiday destination?

The Basque Country which spans the Atlantic coasts of both northern Spain and SW France. You’ll find loads of posts on my blog about our trips there.

10. Types of creativity you prefer? Origami? Arts? Writing?

I would never describe myself as a “creative” type. I channel any creativity I possess into writing, photography, interior decorating and cooking.

11. Do you watch cricket? If yes, favourite player?

Yes, I do enjoy watching cricket. I’m a great admirer of Indian player Virat Kohli, plus West Indian Chris Gayle.

My Nominees:

If you’ve managed to read this far, consider yourself nominated and please answer the questions below.

Questions for my nominees:

1. If you had the ability to solve one of the world’s many issues (eg climate change, inequality, corruption, poverty,…..) which one would you choose and why?

2. You can invite five people to dinner (fictional, dead or living) who would you choose and why?

3. What are you going to serve to eat and drink at this dinner?

4. You’ve been gifted a plot of land on which you can grow vegetables and herbs. What would you grow and why?

5. Have you ever visited a place just because someone wrote about it on their blog. If so, where was that place?

6. You have the chance to live someone else’s life for a year. Who would you like to be and why?

Yeah, I know that’s only 6 questions, not 11, but what can I say, I’m a bit of a rebel!

Thank you for reading my post and celebrating this award with me.

Have a great day


The Musette: frozen Eton mess

I like to keep a few desserts in my freezer which I can bring out when required, particularly when friends call round at the last moment. This has got to be one of the world’s easiest but most delicious desserts and, better still, is a no-churn affair. You mix everything together, fold it into a loaf tin, freeze and, voilà you’re done until you whip it out to impress. Being dairy, I can’t eat it but everyone assures me it’s divine and it’s so easy to customise.

Ingredients (serves 6 hungry cyclists)

For the ice cream cake

  • 300ml (1 1/4 cups) double (heavy) cream
  • 1 tbsp finely grated organic orange zest
  • 1 tbsp orange flavoured liqueur, I used Cointreau
  • 100g (4oz) good quality, shop-bought meringue nests

For the strawberry sauce

  • 10-15 ripest strawberries from the punnet
  • 1 tbsp finely grated organic orange zest
  • 2 tbsp orange flavoured liqueur, I used Cointreau

To serve

500g (1lb) fresh strawberries, hulled and macerated in another  – why not? – tbsp Cointreau


1. Line a 450g (1lb) loaf tin with clingfilm, making sure you have enough overhang to cover the top later.

2. Whip the cream until thick but still soft. Gently fold the liqueur and orange zest into the cream.

3. Crumble the meringue nests – you want a mix of sand and rubble – and fold these in, too.

4. Pack this mixture into the prepared loaf tin, pressing it down with a spatula as you go, and bring the clingfilm up and over to seal the top, then get out more clingfilm to wrap around the whole tin. Freeze until solid, which should take around 8 hours, or overnight. It’ll happily sit in the freezer for a month.

5. To serve, unwrap the outer layer of plastic wrap, then unpeel the top and use these bits of long overhanging wrap to lift out the ice-cream brick. Unwrap and unmould it onto a board and cut the frozen meringue cake into slabs to serve.

6. Just whiz up the sauce ingredients in your liquidiser or food processor.

7. I like to zig-zag a little strawberry sauce over each slice, and sprinkle the strawberries alongside on each plate.

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1. Swap out the orange zest for lemon, the strawberries for raspberries and the Cointreau for Limoncello and you’ve a completely different dessert. Don’t forget to sieve the raspberry sauce to eliminate the pips and you may also need 1-2 tsp sugar to sweeten it.

2. Exchange the orange zest for 30g (1oz) dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids), finely chopped into splinters and the Cointreau for coffee liqueur or dark rum and serve with a chocolate sauce made from:-

  • 250ml (1 cup) double (heavy)cream
  • 125g (4 oz) dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids), finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp coffee liqueur or dark rum

Heat the cream and chocolate over a gently heat, whisking as the chocolate melts, taking the pan off the heat once the chocolate is almost all melted. If the mixture gets too hot, the chocolate will seize, whereas it will happily continue melting in the warm cream off the heat. Add the liqueur, still off the heat, and whisk again to amalgamate the sauce completely. Pour into a jug, whisking every now and again until it cools to just subtly warm.

3. If chocolatesauce isn’t your thing, serve with a good quality caramel one!

Thursday doors #31

Here’s Part 1 of a  selection of doors from my recent trip to the medieval town of Konstanz, on Lake Konstanz. Quite a few of the doors have the dates the building was completed above them.

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments’ on Norm’s site, anytime between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American Eastern Time).


Wordless Wednesday – vista

While I’m away in Australia where I’ll be taking thousands of photos – yes, really – I’m going to keep Wordless Wednesday going. I generally try and feature a photograph from my archive but one taken at a similar time of year.

I’ll also continue to let the picture speak for itself, otherwise it’s no longer Wordless Wednesday!

(Note for Carole Ann: a photo from the Old Town in San Sebastian looking towards its port.)


Overnight in Port Macquarie

Our first port of call after Wolgan Valley was Port Macquarie, a popular seaside resort, with a temperate climate, on the NSW mid-north coast, about 390 km (242 miles) north of Sydney, and 570 km (354 miles) south of Brisbane. The town sits on the mouth of the Hastings river and it boasts many gorgeous beaches, a lush hinterland plus a surprisingly diverse range of attractions.

Rich in history, vibrant with art and alive with culture, Port Macquarie is a treasure trove of impressive convict built buildings to ancient Aboriginal land, from expressive public art to exotic exhibitions, and with an abundance of festivals and cultural events.

The town which is named after a former Governor of NSW was a penal colony for around 20 years from 1820. Its thick bush, tough terrain and indigenous folks (the Birpai) keen to return escaping prisoners in return for tobacco and blankets, provided large amounts of both isolation and hard labour to keep the criminals under control. These criminals would have been persistent offenders from the Sydney penal colony.

I’d picked it for an overnight stop as it was roughly midway between the Blue Mountains and Byron Bay. After almost returning to Sydney, we drove along the Pacific Highway, marvelling at the lush green pastures and rain forest either side of the road. The occasional burst of yellow blossoms looked just like mimosa, reminding me of home.

We arrived in time for a stroll around town before dinner in a great fish restaurant opposite our hotel. After a good night’s sleep, we enjoyed a longer walk around town taking photographs before eating breakfast in an organic cafe.

The town had been a great spot for an overnighter, let’s hope my other picks are as successful. All too soon we were back on the Pacific Highway heading for a few days in Byron Bay.