Spring has sprung in the Fitzroy Gardens Conservatory.

I’m not exactly sure where time disappears to. If anyone can help me out here, please do – is there a securely fastened container somewhere that holds all our time gone by? Once we’ve used up each minute does it slide into an abyss, never to be seen again? Or maybe it hops onto a fast moving conveyor belt to be whisked away for someone else’s use. Wherever it goes, it goes quickly. This was really brought home to me while I was in Melbourne recently and visited the Fitzroy Gardens, where I had a wander through the Conservatory with it’s sparkling spring display. I’ve been to Melbourne several times over the last few years, but the last time I was in the Fitzroy Gardens Conservatory was when I was on my honeymoon. That’s more years ago than I care to remember (1972 if you really have to know, but please, keep it to yourself). But it doesn’t seem that long ago, it really doesn’t, and I must admit there was a bit of nostalgia going on when I walked in there. How did all that time come and go so quickly? I’ve just fished out the photo album from those days in Melbourne and it shows a very young me, posing on the steps of the conservatory wearing a very short dress (it was the days of the mini so it was perfectly acceptable – the legs weren’t bad either, even if I do say so myself!). I would have included it here but it’s in one of those albums that had the sticky pages and it’s stuck there for ever now. There’s no way it’ll... read more

Captain Cook’s Cottage – Stepping back in time.

I’m a history buff. Take me anywhere and the historical landmarks, the museums and the landscapes where history was made are what draw me. I’ve walked up the ramparts of the Iron Age hill-forts at Hod Hill and Maiden Castle in the south of England, I’ve taken part in an excavation at the Fishbourne Roman Palace near Chichester, I’ve wandered the remains of the Mycenaean Palaces at Knossos and Malia and marvelled at the survival of the wall frescoes and I’ve visited all of the castles along the coast of Wales built by Edward 1. The more ancient the history, the more interested I am. Now I’m in Melbourne, where the history isn’t ancient but I do enjoy it’s historic buildings and landmarks, so I just had to make time to visit the oldest building in Melbourne. Not that it’s actually been here as long as some buildings have. What? You ask. Captain Cook’s Cottage Well, Captain Cook’s cottage was actually built in 1755 but has only been in Melbourne for 80 years. So how on earth did a tiny 18th century English cottage come to find itself in the middle of Melbourne? Good question, I knew you’d ask, so I found out for you. It seems that a philanthropic Melbourne businessman, by the name of Sir Russell Grimwade , was responsible. He learnt that Cook’s cottage (or at least his parents’ cottage, as the story goes) was for sale in England, and he arranged for it to be brought to Australia to celebrate Melbourne’s centenary of European settlement in 1934. The building was taken apart brick by brick and individually numbered. It was then packed into barrels and... read more

A day in the Dandenong Ranges

Last Saturday there was SUNSHINE IN MELBOURNE. I shouted that simply because when I visit it’s a rare and very welcome occurrence, it’s usually wet & windy – which is exactly what happened two days later. But, yes, the weather was glorious on the weekend and I made the most of it by spending the day with my daughter and granddaughter in the Dandenong Ranges, about an hour’s drive east of the city of Melbourne. We headed off just after 9.00am and, after negotiating the Saturday morning shopping mob on the roads, we were soon wending our way up through the foothills and the scenery was changing, from the drab grey of the suburbs to the lush green of the Dandenong National Park. There is absolutely no way you can do more than scratch the surface of this beautiful area in just one day, the ideal would be to spend a few nights in one of the B&Bs, guesthouses or luxury resorts that are scattered throughout the ranges, set amongst this fairytale like forest. But we only had a few hours to enjoy the landscape that was lit up by this sunshine. First stop needed to be morning tea in one of the hundreds of cafes that cater to the squillions of tourists that navigate up the scenic twisting road every day. Olinda We turned up past the entrance to the Dandenong National Park near Belgrave and wound our way up the twisting and turning road that took us through the middle of the forest, with the trees that seemed to reach up into the stratosphere providing a canopy for the ferns... read more

Top 5 Destinations that I just have to go back to.

Do you think you could narrow down all the places you’ve travelled to and give me your top 5 all time favourite destinations? A few years ago I was invited to do just that. To write this post on my top 5 destinations, the ones I would love to go back to – and I found it incredibly difficult. But, after a few hours of serious thinking back over a lot of years of travel, both international and local, these are the five that I came up with. They’re in no particular order – if I was given a choice I really couldn’t choose between them. I need a disclaimer here: I’m likely to change my mind about this list, probably several times (my prerogative). 1. The Himalayas – Nepal I couldn’t not put this on my list. Up until a couple of years ago I wouldn’t even have considered stepping out of my comfort zone and travelling to a culture so far removed from my own. When I decided to trek to Everest Base Camp though to celebrate my 60th birthday, it was a decision that was to have huge consequences and change my mindset completely. The people and their culture, the chaos of Kathmandu, the incredibly inspiring landscape, all combined to make this one of the most memorable trips I’ve ever been on. The mountains and the incredible calm that descends as you go higher is something that will live with me for ever. What more can I say? I’m was back there again early in 2015 and that was a story in itself, complete with an earthquake. 2. Paris... read more
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