Monks Barn Farm

We left Marple after a leisurely breakfast, our southward journey taking us through the spectacular Peak District National Park.

1.Peak District National Park

Peak District became the first national park in the U.K. in 1951. Even on an overcast day, the scenery was breathtaking.

2.Peak District National Park

We had worked up an appetite by the time we left the park and stopped for lunch in Ashbourne at the quaint Bowling Green Inn.

3.The Bowling Green Inn, Ashbourne

We were heading for Stratford-upon-Avon to spend some time exploring Shakespeare country. Our accommodation was 2 miles from Stratford at Monks Barn Farm, a 16th century working farm on the banks of the River Stour. The farmhouse B&B was gorgeous,

4.Monks Barn Farm

for some reason we were given the luxury of our own cottage.

5.Monks Barn Farm

The Grade II listed thatched barn is believed to have monastic connections, hence the name of the farm.

6.Monks Barn Farm

There were stunning views across the 100 acre farm, dotted with contented sheep quietly grazing the lush pasture.

7.Monks Barn Farm

The Greyface Dartmoor sheep were very cute and always happy to smile, “good morning”.

8.Monks Barn Farm

Meelup Trail

Our last day in the Margaret River region dawned clear and sunny, perfect for a morning walk. The Meelup Trail starts at Old Dunsborough beach

1.Old Dunsborough Beach

and follows the coastline for 11.5 kilometres to Eagle Bay. We fortified ourselves with coffee from the Silver Bullet Espresso van, a gorgeous Airstream caravan parked at the boat ramp.

2.Silver Bullet Espresso

The detail in this lovely sculpture doesn’t really show in silhouette. Sculpture by the Bay is an exhibition of works held on the foreshore each March as part of the Dunsborough Arts Festival. This was the winning piece from 2015, installed near the boat ramp.

3.Dunsborough boat ramp

We walked past some beautiful homes with stunning views

4.Geographe Bay

before the trail narrowed and we were embraced by dense coastal vegetation.

5.trail

It was a bit early for most of the wildflowers,

but the magnificent Barrens Clawflower was putting on a wonderful display. Endemic to the south-west of Western Australia, the name is from the location where it was found in 1920, West Mount Barren.

Further on, the trail opened up and the coastal views were spectacular.

13.trail14.Geographe Bay15.Geographe Bay16.shags on a rock

Strategically placed seating invited a chance to rest and take in the view and perhaps spy a passing whale.

17.whale watching18.Geographe Bay19.Geographe Bay20.Geographe Bay

Granite rock formations lay scattered throughout the landscape

and along the sheltered beaches.

26.beach27.beach28.beach29.Geographe Bay

Lunch time was approaching and there were more wineries awaiting us. We returned along the same path,

30.forest

encountering this Shingleback lizard basking in the dappled sunlight.

31.Shingleback lizard

Isn’t he handsome?

32.Shingleback lizard

GWK

On a balmy Balinese morning, we journeyed south from our villa at Seseh to experience Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park. GWK, as it is known, is a 60 hectare park devoted to the Hindu God, Wisnu and his mythical half-man, half-bird companion, Garuda. There are different areas used for various art & cultural performances. We first encountered Kura Kura Plaza, or Turtle Plaza. The turtle sculptures are believed to guard the earth from natural disasters.

1.Kura Kura Plaza

The views were spectacular from the elevated position of the park, looking over the ocean and Denpasar.

2.view-Denpasar on right

There is an ongoing project at GWK, the creation of one of the largest statues in the world. The finished copper and brass monument, portraying Wisnu riding on the back of Garuda, will apparently be 120 metres tall and Garuda will have 65 metre long wings.

3.Garuda Wishnu Kencana

Started in 1997 by Balinese sculptor Nyoman Nuarta, some parts of the statue have been completed. The first sight of the 20 metre high Wisnu was absolutely breathtaking.

4.Wisnu

Wisnu Plaza is on the highest part of GWK and is the setting for traditional Balinese art performances.

5.Wisnu Plaza

It must be awe inspiring to present a show under the watchful eye of Wisnu.

6.Wisnu

We passed this Hindu shrine

7.shrine

on the way to Garuda Plaza.

8.Garuda Plaza

This part of the statue was not as tall, but equally as impressive as Wisnu.

9.Garuda Plaza

The largest outdoor venue in the park is called Lotus Pond. It isn’t actually a pond but the massive limestone pillars around the perimeter make it a fascinating venue for big events such as music concerts.

10.Lotus Pond

It is also the perfect setting for a Segway ride. Michael soon mastered the balancing act and there was no stopping him.

With the beautiful limestone columns as a backdrop, Nyoman Nuarta has weaved his magic again. The magnificent Peace Memorial is dedicated to all the Bali bombing victims in the hope of uniting the world into a peaceful, harmonious community.

14.Peace Memorial

Acacia abounds

Through the cold, damp haze of August, the first promise of spring starts to appear across the landscape. The expanse of green in the forest turns a lovely shade of yellow as the wattle trees flower. With over 1,000 species of Acacia worldwide, around 950 are native to Australia. We mainly have two species on our property, both are endemic to eastern Australia. Acacia melanoxylon grows to 40 metres in Tasmania, twice the height if its mainland siblings, and can live over 100 years. The Tasmanian blackwood is a beautiful tree and we are surrounded by them.

1.Tasmanian blackwood

The timber, with its variable colours and grains, is sought after for furniture making. The Aborigines used a hot infusion of roasted bark to bathe rheumatic joints. The same potion was used to stun fish to make them easier to catch. The creamy yellow flowers have a fluffy appearance and grow in clusters.

2.Tasmanian blackwood flowers

Our morning walks with Poppy look quite different when the wattles are flowering.

3.forest walk

Acacia verticillata is my favourite. Prickly Moses doesn’t actually have thorns but the small, flattened leaf stalks are prickly.

4.Prickly Moses

The flowers are quite different to the blackwood, a brighter yellow and cylindrical in shape.

5.Prickly Moses

The dense, prickly foliage offers a safe home for little critters like bandicoots and birds.

6.Prickly Moses

I have seen Acacia mucronata, or Narrow-leaved wattle, in the conservation area adjoining our property. It has creamy yellow cylindrical flowers and, not surprisingly, narrow leaves.

7.Narrow-leaved Wattle

I’ve often wondered why Acacias are called wattles. Apparently, it comes from the term, “wattle & daub”, a technique used by the early British settlers for building their huts. The branches were used to make the framework which were then daubed with mud (and perhaps a few cow pats). The Acacias were used mostly and so, they became known as wattles.

Marple Locks

On our way through Cheshire, we stayed overnight with my Uncle Jim who lived in the small town of Marple. We enjoyed an afternoon stroll along the Peak Forest Canal where a series of 16 locks raise the canal by 64 metres over the course of 1.6km. We began our walk at Marple Memorial Park where this fabulous chainsaw wood sculpture was commissioned after the demise of a large Copper Beech tree.

1.tree sculpture Memorial Prk

Local school children submitted ideas on the theme of nature and knowledge featuring animals and books. They also chose the name, Midnight, for the central owl character.

2.tree sculpture, Marple Memorial Park

Other animals carved in the wood include a fox, badger, mole, squirrel and hedgehog.

We started at Lock 9, by Oldknow’s Warehouse.

8.Oldknow's Warehouse

Samuel Oldknow was an English cotton manufacturer who promoted the construction of the canal, which opened in 1804. When commercial carrying ended, the locks became dilapidated and were impassable by the early 1960s. The Peak Forest Canal Society were instrumental in the restoration and re-opening of the Marple Locks in 1974.

9.Lock 9

Oldknow’s Warehouse has since been converted to offices. I can think of worse places to work.

10.Oldknow's Warehouse

We continued our walk past Lock 10

11.Lock 10

and Lock 11.

After Lock 12, we approached Posset Bridge, completed in 1804. The bridge has three arches, the left hand one has been filled in

14.Posset Bridge

and the right hand one is a narrow oval tunnel built to allow the horses to pass under the bridge after being untied from the boats.

15.Posset Bridge horse tunnel

The canal continues through the middle arch to Lock 13 and more beautiful buildings, now office space.

16.Lock 13

Between the locks, the canal is tranquil.

17.Peak Forest Canal

The Macclesfield Canal joins in just beyond Top Lock Bridge.

18.Top Lock Bridge19.Top Lock Bridge

This magnificent home has prime position

20.Macclesfield Canal

with the marina just around the corner.

21.Top Lock Marina

I think a canal boat holiday would be a great way to relax and see some stunning scenery. Maybe one day……

22.Macclesfield Canal