Jane Austen step back in time

The Jane Austen Centre in Bath, England is an exhibition showcasing the life and times of Jane Austen. It is situated in a cream coloured Georgian house in Bath that was set up to mimic a place Jane lived in, in the same street but not the exact house. I have to admit I was a little disappointed it was not the house that Jane herself had lived in, walking through the hallways as she dreamed up her next novel.

The house was very informative, with period costumes, a great introductory talk by staff and bits of historical information about Jane Austen. There was a desk set up to show what Jane may have written at, her imagination running wild as she brought Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy’s love to reality in Pride and Prejudice. It didn’t take long to get through the whole centre though we didn’t stop at the tea rooms as we needed to be on our way. Worth a stop if you are in the area.

One thing that fascinated me was being told that Jane’s name did not appear in print until after her death. And I loved that she was one of eight children, six boys and two girls. The two girls Jane and Cassandra never married and they were each other’s closest confidant. When Jane passed away she had been living with her sister, and left most of her money to her sister. Nice to think of them growing up together, always by each other’s side.

Jane Austen centre

Koala spotting – can you see her?

Last month we visited Port Stephens, a lovely sea side town in New South Wales, Australia. One of the reasons I was interested in going there was to see koalas in the wild, something I have never seen before.

There is a koala feeding and resting habitat there called Tilligerry Habitat. We arrived at the habitat’s souvenir shop to pick up our free map of the reserve, then headed out on the 45 minute walk. The map had two red spots marking the locations of the most recent koala sightings.

Tilligerry nature reserve

The walk was stunning, with pretty wooden paths winding through huge trees however we didn’t see any koalas. We walked back to the souvenir shop and they told us of a koala living near the local police station, so we headed that way.

We arrived at the police station and parked under a gorgeous big gum tree. I started following a path towards a mini forest. It was a lovely green area, a setting where I thought for sure our mystery koala would be living. My husband and our daughter stayed behind at the big gum tree, certain that there was a reason a bucket of water sat at the base of the tree.

As I walked the windy path observing the lovely big trees with my two sons, they decided they would race back to where their Dad was, unmoved at the large gum tree. My daughter caught up to me and spotted eight or more rainbow lorikeets that she had to photograph, and as she started my youngest son was motioning excitedly at me to return, to the original big gum tree.

Photo courtesy of flickr.com
Photo courtesy of flickr.com
There are lorikeets in this photo taken by my wonderful daughter
There are lorikeets in this photo taken by my wonderful daughter

High up in the tree was a beautiful, soft and cuddly looking, sleeping koala .

Right above our original parking spot!

The beautiful koala in her own habitat. Can you see her?
The beautiful koala in her own habitat. Can you see her?

I know we just met but how ‘bout a kiss Mr Blarney?

There is a magical stone in Ireland where legend says if you kiss it you will be bestowed with the gift of eloquence. I had to have that gift (it would sure make life easier, right?), so we drove from Dublin down to Cork to be near the Blarney Castle, home of the Blarney Stone.

There are many tales on how the stone came to be, my favourite is that the Irish Lord of Blarney needed to address the Queen of England to keep his land. The Lord was set to fail as he wasn’t eloquent, however he was told that Blarney Castle had a stone in a place so high it was said no one would ever be able to touch it. If he managed to kiss the stone he would be bestowed with the gift of eloquence. Of course he did it, and the rest is history (or is that folklore?).

The Castle was beautiful, there were lots of stairs to get to the top, going round and round, up some uneven grounds and funny slopes through stunning stone work. There were thin walkways in some parts and low heights so maybe leave the high heels at home.

When we got to the top we could kiss the stone. It was a little bit scary but exhilarating at the same time. You have to lean backwards on the floor but there are wonderful people right there to help you and before you know it you have kissed the stone, just like I did. So now I have the gift of the gab! Yay!

Oh, and for my American friends – I was waiting to get a coffee (yes, even at the Blarney Stone) and there were three American ladies in front of me. One was reading the menu and she said “what is a flat white, I don’t even know what that is”. I didn’t say anything as she wasn’t addressing me, but I was surprised! It was my favourite coffee at the time, and I’ve since looked it up – it originated in Australia – let me know if you enjoy them in America, I’m curious.

The above was from my personal archives September 2011.

Ryanair please don’t crash

We flew over from Manchester, England to Dublin, Ireland today. It was a really quick flight, less than an hour. It was with a budget airline called Ryanair and the funny thing about them is when we landed they played a horn, as if to celebrate.

horn
Image courtesy of flickr

To be honest it was the scariest landing I have ever experienced, I will never forget the look of fright and surprise on my youngest son’s face when we landed. My eldest son asked me if we just crashed.

Other than the landing the flight was great, the entry on and off the plane was great (I had been told that since they do not allocate seats there is a mad crushing rush to get a spot on the plane, that was not true at all). The flight staff were friendly and the flight was on time. Oh, and they will allocate seats for a small fee, which I had to do since we had three children I didn’t want to risk not sitting next to each other.

The big attraction was the really cheap price. It was cheaper than catching a ferry across the Irish Sea and a lot quicker. Now onto our Irish travels, my next post will feature me kissing, and not with my husband!

The above post was from my personal archives, dated September 2011.

Bremen homecoming

Stadtplatz…German word meaning town square

Bremen Stadtplatz! Love it! The Bremen town square in Germany is beautiful, we visited one September and it didn’t disappoint. The buildings are just so lovely. They say a lot were built in medieval times and you can see it, wow! I found the green on top of some the buildings so stunning, I think it may be oxidised copper. Whatever it was speaks of things built long ago when towns were built with pride.

And the food, amazing. We had crepes for breakfast and there was one with marzipan in it…I couldn’t believe that was on the menu and of course had to try it. It was delicious. There is pork everywhere you go (even at McDonalds)! The fries or chips (Pommes frites – sounded like Pom Frits) are seasoned in some sort of spice, it reminded me of apples and tasted yummy! The Currywurst…mmmm! And there is curry sauce for everything, it is great, the place was perfect for my palate!

We spent the day wandering around the Stadtplatz and enjoying the sites and the food, the history (Bremen is a port city with over 1,200 years of history – click on the link to the official tourism site if you are interested in more), the friendly people and for me in particular the ‘feel’ of the place. A piece of me felt like I had returned home.