Montepozzo

We have finally settled back into life in Tasmania after four wonderful weeks in Italy. I would normally write about our travels from the beginning of the trip but we were so enamoured with the gorgeous farmhouse we stayed in for our last ten days, I couldn’t wait to share it. I could just give you the link to the website because there are so many beautiful photos of the property. Chances are, just like me, you would be thinking, “there is no way this place can be this good.” It was. We received directions and information weeks before we left from host, Jacque, and had no trouble finding the gate. Although close to a town, the rural setting is very private and peaceful.

1.sign

Arriving at the property,

2.driveway arriving

we followed the instructions and drove around to the back of the house where we tooted the horn loudly.

3.exterior front4.exterior side5.exterior back6.exterior back7.exterior back

We were greeted by Molly the dog and host, John, who kindly helped us with our bags.

8.loggia arriving

After an introductory tour, we were left to unpack and wonder at the magnificent surroundings we were to enjoy for the next ten days. The living area was light and spacious, capturing the sun at every angle throughout the day.

9.sitting room

Just off the dining area, the well equipped kitchen was a pleasure to work in.

10.kitchen

The bedrooms were inviting, the main has an ensuite

11.main bedroom

and down the hallway

14.hallway

are two further bedrooms and a bathroom.

Once we had settled in, Jacque welcomed us with fresh flowers and a bottle of Prosecco, we wasted no time opening it to share. We really felt at home, surrounded by family treasures and beautiful furnishings.

The afternoon sun filled the loggia, the perfect venue to partake of aperitivo.

30.view from loggia

Come for a walk around the garden.

31.loggia steps

There was so much to explore, a cave with spectacular phosphorescent lichen, I admired from the outside.

44.cave

The shed was a work in progress, a fabulous project for the future perhaps,

45.shed

to complement the finishing touches on the exterior of the house.

46.exterior side

We didn’t get the opportunity to dine under the vines, perhaps next time?

55.vines

Let me introduce you to Molly, a delightful bundle of energy who was a very welcome addition to the package.

Thank you Jacque, John, Alex & Molly for the very special memories, we hope to meet again…..Salute!

59.wine time

http://montepozzo.it/

Belfast

We had a lot of ground to cover after leaving Newcastle, and so spent only a brief time in Belfast. The inclement weather didn’t encourage us to explore too far but what we did see was extraordinary. Founded in 1868, this fabulous wedge-shaped building was originally called the Shakespeare, the clientele mostly from the theatre. We should have ventured inside Bittles Bar but it was a bit early for a pint, even for us. The traditional Victorian Bar is apparently adorned with interesting artwork and portraits of Ireland’s literary and sporting heroes.

1.Bittles Bar

Adjacent to Bittles Bar was a rather ornate bright yellow drinking fountain. The Jaffe Memorial fountain was erected in 1874 by Otto Jaffe, Belfast’s first and only Jewish Lord Mayor, to commemorate his father. Daniel Joseph Jaffe was a merchant from Hamburg who came to Belfast in 1850 and set up a linen export business. He was quite the philanthropist, funding the building of Belfast’s first synagogue and Otto followed in his footsteps, giving much to the community. This is without doubt the most spectacular drinking fountain I have ever seen.

2.Jaffe Memorial fountain

I did not expect to see a giant Ferris wheel in the centre of the city. Belfast’s answer to the London Eye, the Belfast Wheel opened in 2007. There was much controversy over the location of the wheel, it had been built around and on top of the Titanic Memorial on the grounds of Belfast City Hall. Following objections from the Belfast Titanic Society and the Environmental Agency, the Belfast Wheel closed for business in April 2010.

3.The Belfast Wheel

The criticism was based on the location, not the wheel itself, it had proved to be a great tourist attraction. It did seem out of place next to the majestic City Hall for which planning began in 1888 after Belfast was awarded city status by Queen Victoria and construction was completed in 1906. Built mainly from Portland stone, it covers an area of one and a half acres. The four copper-coated corner towers and central dome are the distinctive green seen on other Victorian buildings.

4.Belfast City Hall

The 53 metre lantern-crowned central dome dominates the city skyline.

5.Belfast City Hall

There was so much more to see in Belfast, we may have to return one day.

Bali Elephant Camp

Although there is some controversy about the keeping of elephants for the entertainment of tourists, it was something I wanted to see for myself. Bali Elephant Camp is home to a herd of Sumatran elephants, brought to Bali as part of a government program in 2004. The aim was to establish a protected remote population, to care for the elephants and promote the plight of these beautiful creatures. A declining natural habitat and the sickening actions of poachers has seen the Sumatran elephant population decrease by 70 percent in the past two decades. I was surprised by the distance from ground to back of elephant and the rocking gait took a while to get used to.

2.starting out

Our pachyderm was named Ari. He gently swayed his way along the path

3.down the path

guided by his personal mahout with the twitch of the rope and a whispered word.

4.nice hat

We stopped briefly, very glad we weren’t following behind.

5.when you've gotta go...

With a lighter load, we continued through gardens

before the landscape became a verdant, tropical jungle.

10.jungle

13.jungle

The nerves were jangling as the path neared the edge of the precipitous valley, hoping our mount was as surefooted as he appeared.

14.jungle15.jungle

At the end of the thirty minute trek, Ari cooled off in the wading pool while we remained high and dry.

16.cooling down

Returning to home base, Ari posed for a couple of photos

before enjoying some delicious fresh fruit and vegetables.

It was time for us to do the same, lunch at the restaurant didn’t disappoint.

23.restaurant

An afternoon downpour was very welcome and alleviated some of the heat.

24.afternoon shower

These elephants are well fed and well cared for and the funds raised from riding these magnificent creatures help protect their wild cousins in their native habitat in Sumatra. I know there are two sides to every story and this may not be the life an elephant should be living but it is far better than this.

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/environment/erin-the-elephants-plight-casts-spotlight-on-conservation-in-indonesia

 

Southern Swan

Strolling around The Rocks in Sydney one morning, we noticed a magnificent tall ship sailing in the harbour.

1.James Craig

The James Craig, a 19th century barque, was rescued in 1972 from Recherche Bay in Tasmania where she had been purposely sunk in 1932. Restoration began in Hobart before she was towed to Sydney in 1981 where the work was completed and she returned to the sea in 2001.

2.James Craig

Watching her gracefully glide across the water, we knew we wanted the experience and promptly signed up for a twilight dinner cruise on the Southern Swan, berthed at Campbell’s Cove, The Rocks.

3.Southern Swan

Originally named Our Svanen, the three-masted barquentine was built in Denmark in 1922 and traded as a grain carrier through the cold waters of the North Atlantic. She then sailed Baltic trade routes as a cargo vessel for Tuborg brewery until she was purchased as a private vessel in 1969. Since then, she has served as a training ship with the Canadian Sea Cadets, travelled to Vancouver for the 1986 World Expo, sailed to England for the First Fleet Re-enactment and returned to Australia for the Bicentennial First Fleet Re-enactment. She now has a lovely home with stunning harbour views.

4.Southern Swan

For two hours, we sipped champagne and enjoyed a delicious three course meal surrounded by the most beautiful harbour in the world (in my humble opinion). I was fascinated by the ropes and pulleys, works of art with a purpose.

As we neared the magnificent Sydney Heads, Bradleys Head lighthouse, built in 1905, warned of treacherous waters. The mast mounted on the point is from HMAS Sydney, renowned for her battle with the German cruiser Emden in 1914.

15.toward the heads

The tall ships cruise offers the chance of a mast climb challenge. There were no takers this time, possibly because alcohol is not to be consumed prior to a climb and, after all, it was a dinner cruise. Looking up at the mast was enough of a thrill for me.

16.mast17.mast

Our time on the water went by too soon and, as the sun sank in the west, we returned to Campbell’s Cove, another wonderful experience tucked away as memories.

18.mast

Newcastle, Eire

We left Edenderry early morning and headed for the east coast to embark on our counter-clockwise crusade of Eire. We had no accommodation booked, no firm destination. November in Ireland is not a popular time for tourists. We arrived at Warrenpoint around Guinness time and related our previous days escapades to the very friendly barman. He advised us to stick to the coast as, “there is nothing in the middle worth seeing.” Warrenpoint is in Northern Ireland, separated from the Republic by the Newry River. It was the scene of the deadliest attack on the British Army during the 30 year conflict between north and south. Eighteen British soldiers were killed and six seriously injured by two roadside bombs, aimed at their army convoy. The Warrenpoint ambush occurred on the same day, 27 August 1979, that Lord Louis Mountbatten was killed by an IRA bomb aboard his boat at Mullaghmore. The pervasive tranquility belies the violent history, the views across Carlingford Lough were stunning.

1.Warrenpoint looking west2.Warrenpoint Beach looking east

I wouldn’t mind living in one of these apartments.

3.Warrenpoint

The barman suggested staying the night at Newcastle, only twenty miles further up the coast. We called in at the tourist information office for some advice on accommodation. Most of it was quite pricey but there was one hotel that was awaiting star status so, for now, could only be considered one star. We were happy to have a look and found the Avoca Hotel, though not terribly attractive from the outside, was clean and comfortable and they served an amazing breakfast the next morning.

4.The Avoca Hotel

Overlooking Dundrum Bay and the Irish Sea, there were no complaints about the scenery, either.

5.Dundrum Bay

Newcastle became a popular seaside resort in the Victorian era following the arrival of the railway in 1869. The gorgeous buildings along Central Promenade are testament to that time.

6.Central Promenade

They all seemed well cared for, apart from one ‘renovators delight’ in the middle of the row.

7.Central Promenade

The Mourne mountain range, home to Northern Ireland’s highest mountain, Slieve Donard, lends an impressive backdrop to the town.

8.Newcastle, Eire9.Newcastle, Eire10.Newcastle, Eire

As the sun was descending in the western sky,

11.Dundrum Bay

our thoughts turned to refreshments. We had passed a place on the promenade and returned to ponder the menu. O’Hares had a welcoming, rustic atmosphere

and after a Guinness, we advanced upstairs to enjoy a superb meal. On second thought, there may have been more than one Guinness.

15.O'Hare's Guinness