Dream Beach – Lembongan

22nd-29th March 2018

This being the penultimate stop on our 6 month world discovery voyage, we’re doing a little less of the sightseeing trips/Bali attractions and lots more of blending into local life and just chilling really. A fairly major reason for that is that we’ve not been the best budgeters and we need to eek out what’s left in the pot!! But not a bad spot to chill in, there’s no complaints – a beautifully peaceful hotel, fabulous local beach, great walks, super-friendly people, endless bars and restaurants to choose from – we have to pinch ourselves sometimes and make sure we appreciate every last minute of this amazing trip.

Some pictures from our boutique hotel and spa – a small complex with nine villas. We are looked after by the most charming staff – they all have that beautiful Bali smile.


The main alleyway leading to the villas, with flowering orchids


The hotel reception area


The main entrance to the hotel


Our wonderful receptionist – Bagus


My daily view from the sun lounger!


My daily view when floating in the pool


I will miss these beautiful orchid flowers that drop into the pool as I swim


Steve spends a fair chunk of the day like this!!! He will however have run for 5-6 miles in the heat beforehand though!

And it’s not just chilling at the poolside – every day we fit in some exercise – running, walking, swimming (all to justify the food and wine that is invariably enjoyed later in the day)! I’ve enjoyed the spa treatments – with massage and facial at less than £10 a go, it would be rude not to!! We love walking the local streets and seeing real life – sometimes disturbing to see the poverty – women and children begging, men fishing in ditches and polluted rivers, shopkeepers desperate to make a sell (but they’re not pushy like some other countries) – they practically do the bartering for you!! There are some fabulous shops in Seminyak which is the area we are staying in – high fashion at reasonable prices – stunning shop layouts – in stark contrast to the streets outside. Generally fit in a couple of hours on the beach most days too – always invigorating being by the sea, watching the waves and the surfers, diving into the waves ourselves and lots of people watching.

Sadly, Bali beaches are suffering so much with litter – it’s apparently being washed down the rivers from the villages into the sea, and then it all washes up onto the shore. We were at the beach at 6.00am this morning and you walk along what is a beautiful shoreline only to tread your way through heaps of disposal – light bulbs, medicine bottles, aerosols, varying lengths of bamboo, coconuts and plastic cups and bottles in their thousands. It is incredibly sad. There are amazing workers out there at this time, particularly in front of the hotels, cleaning up the best they can …. but it is an ongoing problem. The Government are doing their best to educate the local people in safe waste disposal and recycling – you just hope this makes some difference before tourism is affected, as this is Bali’s sole industry.

Other than that, the beaches are great – we’ve spent many hours swimming, lounging and walking along the many stretches.


Double Six Beach entrance


This part of the beach is used by the locals in the evening


I took this photo when we arrived at the beach at 6.00am this morning


A touch of romance x


We did dip into our resources and went on a trip on Monday 26th March – we took the Fast Boat to Lembongan … and boy was it fast.  It was like being on a speed boat except there were about 200 people on board, in very tightly packed seats.  There was no elegant embarking either – we had to wade through the water and clamber up some very dubious steps right next to the outboard motors, and them some further climbing to get to the seating area – I had various crew members yanking me up each step of the way – so ladylike!!  On the way out we were completely outnumbered by Chinese tourists, I would say it was 196 – 4.  They are truly excitable people, looking and commenting on everything, photographing everything, standing up, sitting down, and screaming as the boat bumpily flew through the waves – a volume button would have been excellent on this occasion.


Waiting to board the Fast Boat to Lembongan


Sanur, waiting for the Fast Boat. Mount Agung in the distance, a currently active volcano


The Fast Boat to Lembongan

When we arrived in Lembongan, we had a few offers of trips offering “good price” but nothing too persistent.  We took some time at the port area to have a think and a drink (fresh pineapple juice – delicious) then we bartered well with a chappie who drove us to his recommended spot – Dream Beach.  As it turned out, very appropriately named – we had a dream day at the beach and, for very little money, got the use of sun loungers and use of the resort’s stunning infinity pool too.  With the high tide, the waves got bigger and stronger – fabulous sea to swim in though (and no litter)!!


Dream Beach, Lembongan, Indonesia



The waves got up in the afternoon


Dream Beach Huts – fabulous resort


A spot of lunch on Dream Beach


Fresh lime juice – nothing alcoholic!


Fresh pineapples growing


The resort’s infinity pool


This is back at the harbour area, waiting for our return trip on the Fast Boat

So tonight is our last night in Bali – we’re heading off soon to have a final drink on the beach and watch the sunset.  Then walking on to our favourite restaurant – Mozeralla-by-the- sea …. great food, great staff, great atmosphere.  We will be so sad to say goodbye to Bali and we so hope to come back – we’ve also enjoyed being millionaires here too – one million IDR (Indonesian Rupiah) = £50


IDR 1,000,000 = £50


And had to include a photo of our funny local purchase – made us giggle anyway


So it’s goodbye from Bali … and hello to Sri Lanka tomorrow, our very last stop before home xx

Oh so Beautiful Bali 🌺

We arrived in Bali during the afternoon of Sunday 18th March – it was more than a little sticky on arrival.  There seemed to be hundreds of drivers holding up name plaques … but we managed to spot ours in the crowd … he had the biggest smile.  His name was Suka and he was very proud to announce himself as our tour guide and welcome Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Rose (with a great roll on the R).  Lots of chatting on the way to the car and we soon discovered that Suka had the same “Waaah” sound that our tour guide in Bangkok had, every time he said something funny, whilst showing us the largest set of teeth you could ever imagine fitting into one mouth!  We were handed over to the driver who had the address of our hotel but had clearly never been there before – we drove through some heavy traffic to start then onto more country lanes until we found a little obscure spot which was our hotel – Alam Bidadari Boutique Culture Villas and Spa, Seminyak.

Well, once again we have found ourselves in a little piece of paradise – away from all the hustle and bustle of Seminyak main town – just 9 villas in a perfect setting – our own individual swimming pool, all meals served to our outdoor eating area, a four poster bed with mosquito net which makes it look dead romantic (haven’t seen any mosquitos yet!), stunning bathroom set up, spa treatments provided in your villa – it’s like a honeymoon suite!  Even robes and slippers (simple things make me happy) and for a fraction of the cost you would pay for this elsewhere. We love it.



So for the first couple of days we just enjoyed the luxury and privateness of our villa, loads of lounging on sunbeds, loads of reading, regular pool dips, eating, drinking etc. etc.  We did also exercise daily with runs and walks (Steve trying desperately to build up for his marathon …. but struggling with the heat and humidity) and always a visit to the beach at some point. Seminyak Beach is pretty spectacular – large expanse of golden sand, big waves … and it certainly comes alive at night … great selection of bars and restaurants. And absolutely stunning sunsets – the sky is ablaze with colour.

Wednesday 21st March 2018

So today we had arranged for Suka to pick us up from the hotel at 8.00am, to take us on a whole day sightseeing tour of Bali. He was punctual and as smiley as ever, and off we set. The plan was to discover the more rural areas and mountains as well as learn a little more about regional crafts along the way. Whilst driving first through the town/city areas, Suka gave us an overview of Bali and Indonesian history, as well as informing us of various aspects of religion. Although Indonesia is predominantly Muslim, Bali is in fact predominantly Hindu … Suka seems to be a very religious man and was so eloquent in explaining their Hindu beliefs and practices. Today in fact was the feast of Pagerwesi so we saw many ladies bringing their colourful offerings to the temples.

The roads are just a little crazy with traffic, but not too fast luckily. It’s mostly the scooter riders that would appear to have a death wish … and there are thousands of them. Suka explained that Bali has a population of 4 million … and that there are probably 3 million scooters, as all families have at least one or two.

Our first stop was to see a traditional Balinese house … really interesting with its outside living aspect, one outside room kept for ceremony only and of course each house has its own temple. We met the lady of the house as she was leaving the only indoor space – the bedroom! She was very humble and welcoming.

We were moved swiftly along next door to where they were demonstrating batik crafting – a row of lovely ladies handcrafting and a young man to explain the art … and then swiftly on again to a huge shop area, selling everything batik. Which would have been fine but the young chap did not leave our side and made for an extremely pressurised shopping experience.

From there we drove on to another region and another craft – silverware. Again the craft was demonstrated and then we were guided into the largest jewellery outlet I have ever seen. Once again, whichever cabinet we peered into, the lady was hovering with information and suggestions. It became a bit of a dodging game but she won out every time!

Suka had planned to take us on to other ‘regional crafts’ but we suggested we’d prefer less shopping opportunities and more countryside practices. And that was fine, he didn’t pressurise us in any way. So we moved on to see some traditional Bali dancing – a little unusual but skilled all the same – beautiful dancing and costumes, some acting and comedy, accompanied by an orchestra of Balinese musicians.

Our trip then took us further out into the country area where we first visited a coffee plantation. As we walked through the plantation area, Suka was very knowledgeable in pointing out the various plants – coffee, cocoa, various tea plants (lemongrass, ginger, rosella etc. ) … there was tumeric, garlic, aloe Vera, vanilla, coconut, papaya, durian, avocado, banana plants etc. …. so not just coffee, an amazing variety. When we got further in we were then whisked off by a young man who was to deliver a tasting session – all pretty commercialised but interesting … and tasty. And then, naturally there was the shop!!

Whilst there we were also introduced to their collection of wild civets, most in cages (due to their viciousness) and a couple who are clearly tamed. These cats are bizarrely used to eat and defecate coffee cherries – the part digested bean is literally picked out of the animal’s poo and goes on to produce the world’s most expensive coffee – Luwak coffee. This apparently brings much controversy due to force feeding. They jokingly refer to it as Cat Poo Chino.

From there we drove on into the rainforest area where we saw plenty of oranges growing together with all kinds of vegetables. By this time the roads were getting steeper and steeper as we headed for the mountain area – we stopped for lunch with a stunning view over Mount Agung which a currently active volcano (but 17km from where we were) and surrounding mountains.

After lunch we drove on further to see some terraced rice fields – Suka told us that he used to work in the rice fields when he was younger and explained the back-breaking process. Bali youngsters are not so inclined to this occupation now so the Government has been offering initiatives. Amazing to see the terraces and learn all about the irrigation and farming of these family owned fields. We met a couple of enterprising old chaps – one of them dropped something out of his basket and asked me to hold his baskets while he picked it up … and so it became a photo opportunity that of course required payment – £1 well spent however!!

And we finished our tour off with a visit to Suka’s own community temple which was so beautiful. They only visit the temple of two occasions a year as each family home has its own temple, except when they go to collect holy water. All other ceremonies such as weddings, funerals etc take place in a dedicated room at the family home. Suka proudly showed us all around the temple and we all washed ourselves in the holy water.

After all this we had a two hour drive home and there were a few sleepy bobbing heads, including Suka, but luckily not the driver!

So lovely to get out and see some of Bali … now it’s back to relaxing 😎

Perth – a week with Caitlin

Sunday 11th March 2018

Today we flew to Perth from Melbourne, returning to the part of Australia we first discovered on 1st December last year!!  This time we’re staying south of the city.  We flew on a roomy and comfortable Qantas flight – it flew by (pardon the pun!)  I was talking to the stewardess when we landed and she explained that this particular aircraft is going to be used for the 16 hour non-stop Perth-London flight, as of 24th March … and in fact all the staff are currently in training for this, including the pilots … not sure I wanted to hear that last bit!!

We are staying in a great Airbnb in Ardross, a separate apartment attached to the gorgeous family home of Rachel and Paul – a fabulous couple with 3 young children (+ Rachel’s Mum is visiting from UK) – we feel so at home here.

We arranged to meet Caitlin (our niece) in the evening at a wine bar local to us – Bad Apples (Caitlin is studying for 2 terms here at Murdoch University).  It was very special catching up with her … and lovely to get some hugs for Mothers Day.  She did so well to get to us as she had been on a private yacht trip to Rottnest Island during the day which had apparently involved large quantities of Moet!


Monday 12th March

Early to bed and early to rise!  The 3 hour time difference between Melbourne and Perth meant that our body clocks were playing us up a little.  We were mega tired by 10.00pm on the Sunday so headed for bed … and then we were wide awake by 6.00am on Monday morning.  Decided to get up immediately and explore our local area while fitting in a run and walk at the same time.  It took us 10 minutes to walk from our house down to the Swan River where there are nice flat paths for exercise of all kinds, complete with stunning views and the ever present wildlife.  Ardross appears to be a pretty affluent area but the mansions along this stretch are particularly spectacular – oh the envy!!


Haven’t spotted any ‘beware of snakes’ signs just yet, but came across these two signs that I thought were worth a spot in the blog.

Saw hundreds of cockatoos who make an almighty racket when en masse, as do the lorikeets   The most deafening of bird calls though has to be the Australian crow – sitting solitary in the tree, with hooded head and piercing yellow eyes – you have to love them.  Also an abundance of black swans and pelicans on the Swan River too – looking so serene.


In the evening we met up with Caitlin in Fremantle.  While we were waiting (Caitlin was just about 2 hours late as she had taken the wrong bus!!) we got chatting to a lively aboriginal lady who told us all about her life and her ancestry … and all about her drunken husband – she was keen to show us around Fremantle but we explained that we had plans.  Had a few beers and dinner sitting outside at the National Hotel – inside there was a musician playing to just one customer – he was really good too!

Tuesday 13th March

Felt a little woolly this morning – obviously it must have been more than a few beers last night.  Headed off after breakfast to South Beach in Fremantle – temperatures were approaching 30 degrees so hoping for shade.  Beautiful beach, white (extremely hot) sand and clear blue water.  Spent a short time on the beach – had several dips (until Steve spotted a rather large jellyfish) then headed for some shade on the nearby grass area.



In the evening we travelled by good old Uber to the family house where Caitlin is staying for these two terms – met Ali and Brian and spent a lovely evening chatting and getting to know them.  It was one of the hottest nights we had experienced and we were sat outside, just hope we didn’t appear too sweaty!!

Wednesday 14th March 2018

After morning exercise completed we had a chilled day and then headed into the city later to meet Caitlin.  Met up at Elizabeth Quay and from there took a ferry to South Perth – beautiful walk.  Came back on the ferry and had dinner at an Italian Restaurant overlooking the harbour.



And everything closes up at 8.00pm – life in Perth city comes to a standstill.  So deciding that an early night would be just the ticket, started proceedings by booking an Uber – didn’t arrive … lost internet service … walked to the station … no trains … bus replacements … had to wait half an hour for the bus we had been advised to take … bus didn’t go to our road so got off somewhere in the middle of nowhere … booked another Uber … finally got home about 11.00pm!!

Thursday 15th March 2018

Caitlin has no Uni on Thursdays and Fridays so she agreed to join us today on a 9km walk we had planned.  All checked for sunscreen, hats and sensible shoes – still a little warm.  Another beautiful riverside walk, with a lunch stop (of course) at the Raffles Hotel – lots to see and admire.




Back home for a swim in the pool, pizza dinner and card games – a fun evening.

Friday 16th March 2018

Today we all headed out to Cottesloe Beach – Caitlin had been there a few times and wanted to show us a visiting Sculpture Exhibition – it was fabulous.  So a bit of culture followed by a swim and sunbathing … then bus & train to Fremantle so we could show Caitlin around Fremantle and South Beach … then another bus home.  We’re beginning to acclimatise to this life of ‘public transport’ – who needs a car!!?

And of course, Friday night is steak night!  Enjoyed a few glasses of wine with dinner and somehow managed to talk Caitlin into doing her very first Parkrun tomorrow!


Sculptures by the Sea – Cottesloe Beach, Perth



A Damien Hirst exhibit



Caitlin and I bobbing about in the waves – Cottesloe Beach

Saturday 17th March 2018

Up at 6.45am in order to get ourselves to the Parkrun in time.  I am certainly not ‘match fit’ and Caitlin said she hadn’t run since she was about 15 – but we were game to give it a go.  Steve ever-keen as always!!  It was a bit of a hike to get there but beautiful walk all the same.  And we did it … we actually did it!!!  Might have walked a bit here and there but we completed it – and we weren’t last!  Met some really lovely people, some new contacts for Caitlin.  Another young family member dragged into the world of running.


Showers and breakfast completed (oh, and I had my nails done!) we headed out to the city again – this time to visit Kings Park.  What a stunning place, well recommended by Caitlin (and previously by Andy) – had a beautiful walk around the gardens with fabulous views over the city.  Some really unusual plants and trees … and we saw a kookaburra.  Caitlin is great company and so knowledgeable about nature and wildlife … and she laughs at Uncle Steve’s jokes (Lookout!! – a particular favourite!)






A boab tree

And then, being St. Patrick’s Day, we naturally had to find an Irish pub for a pint or two of guinness – plenty of places to choose from – even the non-Irish pubs had green-filled celebrations going on.  I’ve never seen so many people wearing green clothes, shamrock patterns and silly big hats during daylight hours – clearly a massive occasion here (or a great excuse for daytime drinking!)  As Caitlin said, everyone falls back on their 1-5% of Irish heritage on 17th March!!



We dragged ourselves away from the city after a couple of pints and made our way back to Applecross to end the week where we had started at Bad Apples Wine Bar.  Good food, good wine, good company … then home to bed.

Sunday 18th March

Farewells all round – big hugs for Caitlin and wishing her an amazing time in Perth (lucky thing).  Farewells to Rachel and Paul – it’s been such a lovely home to stay in.


And of course, farewell to Australia – it’s been an extraordinary 3 and a half months and we will miss it beyond words.  Hope we can come back to your blue skies and happy lifestyle some day.



Just love the outdoor Australian way of life xx

Following Ben Waters – back in Melbourne … and fond farewells

11th March 2018

So today we’ve had to say goodbye to Melbourne – such tearful farewells with our super gorgeous friends Kaye and Greg, who have put us up (and put up with us) for SO long … since 16th January to be precise.  We had almost 3 weeks back in their lovely home in Highett since returning from our New Zealand trip and it flew by.  Between the unpacking, washing, ironing and re-packing we’ve had many happy days and nights and this blog is a catch up on all our recent Melbourne activities.

A definite highlight was catching up on a few more of Ben Waters’ gigs – in various bars around Melbourne as well as in Geelong.  Enjoyed every performance and boogied along … its impossible to sit down while Ben plays!  We even got to go along to ABC studios to watch Ben and his band record a CD – very exciting!  And of course caught up with Ben for a few beers along the way!!

FullSizeRender 5



Great venue in AC/DC Lane, Melbourne city – The Cherry Bar


The ultimate showman!


Ben sharing his keyboard with Reg and Derek



Pistol Pete’s in Geelong


Post performance drinks in Geelong – Ben and Reg 


Have made so many new friends in Melbourne too – spending such a long time here has made it feel like we live in Aussie, rather than just passing through.  Will miss the many new friends made and hope to see them again one day.


Had a great night out in the City with Kaye, Greg, Shirley and Mark. Us ladies had been to the theatre in the afternoon to see ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time’ – absolutely sensational. Met up with our menfolk afterwards for drinks and dinner. Then caught the train back from Flinders Street.


Fabulous meal at Fat Bob’s before the Man Cave party.  It was a great party with a live band, lots of dancing, drinking (of course) and pizza!!  Met even more of Kaye and Greg’s lovely friends.


Discovered lots of new beaches – Chelsea, Mordialloc, Parkdale etc. Some walking days, some lounging and swimming days.


Lovely to see pelicans on this stretch of beach


Came across this chap, sunbathing on Aspendale beach – he wasn’t at all bothered about us walking by … just looked up momentarily and then carried on with his relaxation!!



Incredibly clear water, warmish too. Perfect for swimming. Were joined by a stingray one day – he just glided past us – so we were pleased that it was clear enough to look out for anymore!


This was a weekend day so pretty packed for an Australian beach!


Took the train out to Williamstown one day, love this place. Many Irish settlers came in the 1800s due to the potato famine devastation – Hobson’s Bay.



Caught the ferry back from Williamstown into the city


Visited Geelong – had lunch down on the waterfront


Geelong waterfront has lots of these wooden characters dotted around


And, in terms of keeping up our fitness – Steve has been MUCH better at this than me, running most days and getting to a Parkrun every Saturday.  I have been going to zumba and personal training sessions occasionally I might add!!




Steve talked neighbour Chris into joining him at this Parkrun – Chris’ first time – they enjoyed running together


Kaye and Greg organised a lovely fish and chips supper overlooking Sandringham Beach



Stayed to watch the magnificent sunset


And so much more …

A fond farewell for now, we hope so much to return one day xx


Whanganui … or is it Wanganui?… the debate continues …

Monday 19th February 2018

After a ‘marvellous’ sleep due to hot tub relaxation, and despite the soaring temperatures in this house with no air-conditioning, we were up and out sharpish to line up for the ferry trip back to the North Island. Decided to skip breakfast on board this time and tucked into yesterday’s leftover sandwiches and snacks instead. The 3 and a half hours passed easily, filled with admiring scenery, dolphin spotting, blogging, reading … and naturally some snoozing!!

Our destination for the next 3 nights was Whanganui (Wh is pronounced with an F sound) … but there seems to be some local debate over the city’s name … some signs indicate Wanganui and some locals insist on pronouncing it this way. Who knows!! Great drive there, back to more moderate green bumpy hillside – flat in comparison to the South Island … still stunning. Lots and lots of sheep and some really interesting cows with big white girdles – googled and think they’re probably Belted Galloway cows – beef cattle.

We arrived in the lovely city of Whanganui in good time – we would probably call it a town but it is known as a city … built along the Whanganui River. We checked into our historical villa, met by our very friendly host Lynn who showed us around the spacious rooms we were to use, it was like stepping back in time … but very luxurious.

We knew nothing about Whanganui so decided to make our first stop the i-site (local information centre) – we all decided that this was the best one we had been to – the lady was so helpful and informative … we left with loads to see and do … she even offered to give us a lift at any time if we were stuck! So off we trotted to get stuck into things straightaway. We crossed the river by bridge and walked along to the Durie Hill Tunnel – this is a 213 metre pedestrian tunnel that leads to an underground elevator (all my fears wrapped up in one … but I faced the challenge!). The elevator was built in 1919 to provide the wealthy residents of the garden suburb easier access to the city. So, as well as everything else, it was a pretty antiquated elevator – yikes!! 😟. So along the long tunnel we trudged, echoing as we went, and stepped into the old rickety wooden elevator, which for 2 dollars inched you up the 66 metres to the top. We stopped with a worrying shudder …. and I was out of that as soon as the cage doors were released!! Lovey lady operator – couldn’t think of any worse ways to spend my working day!

At the top we were able to walk up a little higher to a viewing point, via a wrought iron spiral staircase …. reminded me of the spiral staircase we had at my convent school – we used to scare each other with stories of how a nun had committed suicide by throwing herself down them – rumour had it that she haunted those very stairs!!! Anyway, I digress, the view over Whanganui River and city was fab – a little cloudy still but it gave us a glimpse of what the next few days had in store.

To make it even more impressive …. and to physically challenge ourselves even more, we decided to climb the Durie Hill War Memorial tower – all 176 winding steps … and we viewed Whanganui from an even higher point.

We crossed back over the river into the busy little town area – lots of vintage style shops and op shops (as they call charity shops in this part of the world) … but we headed mostly for the pub … The Rutland Arms … delicious drinks and delicious food – pleasant service, overall a great pub. Stopped off on the way home to our ‘historical villa’ at nearby Virginia Lake – fascinated by the mix of birdlife at the viewing spot we chose. Particularly fascinated by some blue sleeping ducks who didn’t budge, must have been sound!

Tuesday 20th February 2018

We fancied starting the day with a walk so we returned to Virginia Lake and immediately solved the mystery of the blue sleeping ducks – they were in fact decoy ducks …. and there were several of them dotted around the lake (seems obvious when you see real ducks perched on top of them!). We have absolutely no idea why they have them … there are plenty of birds there … and they follow you everywhere!

We enjoyed the lake walk and then visited the aviary and the Winter Gardens before heading to the Funky Duck cafe for lunch.

Now, there was lots of talk about a cyclone possibly hitting the area, so we ventured around the streets with caution, respecting the increasingly forceful winds – I had read somewhere that if you’re caught unawares in a cyclone you should lie flat out on the ground … so I was fully prepared!! We visited some local places of interest including the glassworks, a ceramics gallery and local museum (mostly focusing on the old paddle steamer that was recovered from the bottom of the river after 40 years and restored to full working use).

Despite the high winds we continued with our exploration of the area, continuing on by car to the botanical gardens – funnily enough we were the only ones in the gardens!! Huge gusts by this time, felt like the trees might uproot at any minute (think I’ve watched too many films!). Some particularly interesting varieties of fir trees – some to support the hair growth!!

… and on we continued … and on the winds blew … but we headed to the beach for a quick look. An interesting amount of driftwood – obviously not many wood carvers in the area!

While Kaye and I walked and admired the beach, the boys discovered the ‘children’s’ park and proceeded to hog the zip line!!

We were close to being blown off our feet by this time … so we thought it best to get back in the car and drive back to safety … as we were leaving the car park we spotted this sign …

A quick freshen up and out again for the evening … the taxi driver thought we were very brave going out in these conditions – she said everyone else had boarded up for the night … in case Cyclone Rita hit town!! We live life on the edge!! Another of my beautiful sisters’ namesakes tonight – we ate in a restaurant called Carolines – lovely meal but unfortunately we were plagued by flies – the waitress had an interesting response to Steve’s mention of it … “Oh, I know ….”

Wednesday 21st February 2018

We ‘survived the storm’ – Cyclone Rita hit the South Island and some of the east coast of the North Island … but missed our little city. So this morning’s plan was a cruise aboard the Waimarie Paddle Steamer which was built in 1899 and had an incredible history. In 1952 she sunk to the bottom of the river and was salvaged some 40 years later, using local skills, knowledge and dedication – a real community project. She is beautiful. On 1st January 2000 she was relaunched and spent the whole day taking the local community in batches up and down the Whanganui River in true party style. She is run now mostly by volunteers and the pride shines through them.

So, up and down the river we went in ‘old style’ – listening to the Captain’s old-fashioned instructions to his crew, watching the poor chap in the engine room, feeding the coal into the furnace and listening to the friendly tones of ‘Norm’ as he provided commentary.

Dodged around town the rest of the day – lunching, walking, war memorials, sports grounds, a bit of shopping …. dodging rain storms ☔️ .

So, this was our last stop in New Zealand, back to Auckland airport tomorrow and flying back to Melbourne. It has been an amazing country to visit – I would HIGHLY recommend it. Happy to offer any advice on where to go and how long to go for … what to miss and what not to miss … please everybody add it to your list!! 😊