Straddling between breakfast and lunch time, brunch has become the hottest trend these days… our favorite leisure break! It’s story was framed in the late 1800s by English and its’ fame was escalated after 130 years in the U.S. However, the word itself was first appeared in Hunter’s Weekly content when Guy Beringer asked the public to have only light meals before going to church on Sunday afternoon. He said that brunch gives you a more jaunty temper and you are instantly like an upbeat ‘’looney kid’’. He even suggested the local restaurants and pubs serving beer with a nice plate of delicacies instead of the typical English tea or coffee. However, there was a short mention on the Punch magazine in 1876 saying that when you eat at times which are a bit closer to breakfast, this is brunch… Read More
If visiting a real Jurassic Park is high on your bucket list, then listen up? Ok we wouldn’t exactly call Palmersaurus a real Jurassic Park, but it’s the next best thing.
Image via @ PalmercoolumResort
Newly opened, the Australian dinosaur theme park is home to 160 life size robot prehistoric delights, ranging from 22 metres long, to 10 metres tall. There are velociraptors, T-rexs and lots of other ancient carnivores come to life.
The dino theme park is the work of a billionaire mining boss, who’s recently been elected an MP. Clive Palmer is also responsible for an exact replica of the Titanic, aimed at tourists from China. The park rubs shoulders with a luxury golf resort and spa next door, so it really is a culture clash!
Image via @ PalmercoolumResort
Scary or not? Take a look for yourself.
Every week, we keep an eye out for the most weird and wonderful hotels on earth. From caves to igloo styled hotels, expect the unexpected and a night less ordinary. This week, the Majestic Minima Hotel in Adelaide, South Australia.
Image via @ www.majestichotels.com.au
What’s the gimmick? Art buffs, visiting Adelaide in South Australia can now enjoy a unique artistic experience in a hotel, whose rooms have been turned into true paintings. Opened in 2008, the Majestic Minima Hotel has won a place among the city’s most alternative and special accommodation. The Majestic Minima Hotel made an avant-garde renovation, turning its rooms into exceptional works of art.
Why stay? Guests can spend a night in an art room, which they will choose from the hotel’s online gallery. Options are ample and extremely interesting, as room themes vary, from romantic patterns to colourful designs.
The WOW Factor? Many South Australian artists were called to visually represent their take on the theme of ‘creativity and creation’ in each one of the 46 rooms. The walls and ceiling in every room have been adorned with reliefs or wall paintings similar to the art of graffiti.
Stays at this one of a kind hotel start from £65 per night.
Great Barrier Reef, Australia
A living, breathing seafood soup, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia is the largest structure on the planet made entirely by living organisms. Expect a plethora of odd-looking, colourful and often endangered animals swimming at you from all angles. The reef is a UNESCO World Heritage site, containing some 1500 species of fish. It is without rival, the world’s largest coral reef system, even able to be seen from space. Make sure you get certified before you go though – you’re not Kate Bosworth ok.
Barrier Reef, Belize
Charles Darwin once called this reef “the most remarkable in the West Indies.” Its bubbling, warm waters are home to the world’s largest population of West Indian manatee, and manta ray and spotted eagle ray are fairly common sights. Even hammerhead sharks, Caribbean reef sharks and the oceanic white tip sharks can be spotted by luckier divers (or extremely unlucky, as the case may be). Cuddle with the friendly sea cows (not with the sharks), explore the mangrove-covered islands or swim over to the Big Blue Hole – allegedly the largest sinkhole on Earth. Jacques Cousteau named it his favourite diving spot – no surprise considering this 185-mile-long gigantic wall of unspoilt beauty packs more ecodiversity than any other on the planet.
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
You’ll be hard-pressed to find water clearer than the Caribbean waves of Grand Cayman. The island is actually the peak of a mountain, and most of the surrounding former peaks are now underwater, offering sheer drops so you don’t have to go far from the coast to get deep. This also provides shelter from perilous conditions, providing calm and unspoilt beauty for divers. Make sure you check out Stingray City, a series of shallow sandbars, where stingrays have been tamed for years feeding on fisherman’s scraps.
Koh Tao, Thailand
Koh Tao is perfect for the low-budget traveller, as it is a relatively inexpensive place to learn to scuba dive. Thailand’s large Andaman coast offers hundreds of islands, many of which are uninhabited and fringed with spectacular coral reefs. Whale sharks inhabit the waters along with a kaleidoscope of brightly-coloured fish. However, the best bit about choosing Koh Tao is that it has as many nightclubs and bars on the island as there are fish in its sea, so if you’re not a serious diver, and you like your liquid as much in a cocktail glass as you like it enveloping your scuba suit, then this is the place for you.
Straits of Gubal, Egypt
Although primarily famous for those big hunks of pyramid-shaped mystery erupting from the sand, Egypt is also famous for its incredible diving spots. If you love history and you love diving, this is your spot. An affordable alternative to beaches in Europe or the Caribbean, Egyptian beaches along the Red Sea offer sun-filled holidays and unparalleled waters. The Straits of Gubal are a particularly interesting choice, having claimed dozens of ships over history; shipwrecks, pirate treasure and dead sailors are as much a part of the Sea as the water is and warm, bubbly, tropical coral reefs make the Red Sea feel like one big bathtub.
You should read: Purple Hearts… Sharm el Sheikh
Although you may have to deal with the teenage shrieks of ‘Spring Break whoooooooo!’, Cozumel is not just a paradise for meathead jocks and bottle blonde cheerleaders. The warm, clear waters of this Atlantic superhighway make it a diver’s dream. The Gulf Stream in particular is a prime scuba spot – the experience lending itself to something on the long the lines of being Superman, only with more fish. But with nineteen distinct reefs to choose from and a host of deep dives that go down as far as 3,000 feet, Cozumel is a scuba diver’s playground. For awesome tunnels, caves and caverns, there are few better locations.
Part four of the series from our guest blogger, Liz Bethell on her decision to live in Australia. This week, she talks about visiting the Blue Mountains.
The Blue Mountains
On one April morning, we headed off a place called Leura to meet our friends, Shane and Janette. We rented a three-storey house, with beautiful views across the Blue Mountains. I kept watching to see if any wallabies appeared but no joy! We headed out to the Jenolan Caves and went into the Lucas Cave on an hour and half tour. The caves were breathtakingly beautiful and the guide was excellent. Then we headed out to Katoomba (meaning place of shiny water) where we went on a skyride across the mountains and the floor cleared so you could see right below. We saw the Three Sisters and went down in the world’s steepest cog train down the mountain – although we had done that last time we were here in 2007, it was great to do it again.
The sunsets and sunrises are beautiful in the Blue Mountains, but it was pretty nippy- much more like a brisk spring morning in the UK. After a week, we headed back up north to the warmer climate (thankfully!). We picked Rachel up in the morning at Sydney airport- another exchange teacher who is working at Broken Hill, which is pretty isolated so we are going to show her around Byronshire and Ballina area for a week.
We did a road trip – you have to do at least one when you are in Oz – from the Blue Mountains and through Sydney back up home, which took a whopping ten hours. The next day we got up early and went to Shelley’s Beach cafe again. This was in East Ballina and was just a beautiful spot on the beach with water dragons around in the courtyards. Then we went out for the day with Dave and Tiffany, friends from school. They took us around the local area and we really explored. We met Dave’s parents who live on a beautiful 30 acre farm and there were two gorgeous owls in the tree in the garden. We had stopped in Bangalow for a lovely lunch and then headed back home early evening after a wonderful day. A nice way to finish off the last day, my husband Ralph was with us before we had to drop him off at Brisbane airport.
It was Anzac Day on 25th April 2012 I went to the very moving Anzac Dawn Service at 5:30am. There were a lot of people there, including four soldiers and a bugle player, and the service was lovely. At the end everyone sang the Australian National Anthem, which started with God Save the Queen.
Lest We Forget
They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
… They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
Then we had a quiet couple of weeks. I was busy at school and Autumn was coming in. The temperature dropped to 23 degrees which seemed fresh and cool and had everyone reaching for their jumpers! Funny as in England we would be taking the jumpers off, guess we really acclimatised.
It’s also funny how everything we take for granted after being here for five months. The rainforest trees that we had awed at when we first arrived now just seemed normal and everyday. And the views across the hills as I drive to work with the low mist each morning are still beautiful, but it feels like we have always been here so are just used to them.
We went to Beef Week at Casino on 26th May with two of the girls from work. Jan said I needed to experience Beef Week as Casino is the capital of Beef for Australia and was a week long festival. We met Deb George there and her husband Thomas George, the Lismore Councillor. He was presenting a lot of the day. The cattle were amazing – gleaming and so healthy looking. It was a bit sad when they got auctioned off for meat, but it didn’t stop us tucking into steak sandwiches… Afterwards I was going to stay for the rodeo but decided to wait until Ralph comes out, especially as the other thing on offer was a trip to the Thomas’s brother’s local pub Hotel Cecil with Deb, Thomas and their friends.
It’s a totally cool pub. We met some more very friendly Australians, especially one very friendly Aussie man. He said I reminded him of his second wife, but that he has only been married once…. He also said I have a great Pommie accent, which was nice of him.
Actually, if you include the stranger outside the pub who hugged Deb and I and then came back for another hug before vanishing down the street, two very friendly Aussie men!! Could definitely get used to this life.
Read more from Liz Bethell on her personal blog.
Part Three of the series from our guest blogger, Liz Bethell on her decision to live in Australia. This week, she talks about summer down under.
January had passed and then we were into February, which is the hottest month. It seemed so strange to have seasons at the opposite ends of the year! I started at my new school and the first week passed quite quickly. I have 22 children in my class and they are certainly a lively bunch! They gave me a good trying out in the beginning but as the weeks went on, I found I was loving them more and more. They have such characters and personalities and the staff are lovely and so friendly. It is a lot more relaxed teaching in Australia than England, in terms of planning and work load, so far anyway, and the curriculum is totally different which takes a bit of getting your head around, but such a fantastic place to be.
After school we have kept up swimming 20 laps, 4 times a week at the Olympic Pool in Alstonville and then on Friday we went for a meal at our local, The Pioneer Tavern, Wollongbar, with Janette and Shane, two lovely friends we have made. On Sunday we had been invited to the welcome party BBQ for the new exchange teachers up at
Brunswick Heads, about 40mins up the coast from us. We all met by the Australian Flag at the Torcini River at noon and then spent the afternoon meeting other teachers who have exchanged from the UK or Canada and also Australian teachers coming back from the UK.
We spent a day up at Sea World too – Fantastic Day. We saw whales, dolphins and sting rays as well as many more sea creatures. What an amazing day! Jack and Shane really enjoyed soaking people in the boat ride and we all ended up pretty wet! Absolutely gorgeous day too! Soo much to do out here, a lifetime is not long enough!
Then in February I had to go to Sydney for the Exchangees Conference. We listened to talks on living in Australia for the year and the police came in and explained that we shouldn’t speed unless we wanted a $280 fine – about 200GBP!! Then went for a meal in a pub where you buy the raw steak and then cook it yourself on a barbi! Following that, we walked around Sydney Harbour – absolutely amazing by night and then equally beautiful this morning. Opera house was impressive as ever. The Aussie’s seem to use planes like we use trains and buses in the UK, just hop on one and get about!!! Did The Rocks market this morning too, was lovely! Sydney is an amazing place and we will head down there for a couple of days before going home. One thing we plan on doing is the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb- up and over the top!
When I got on the plane, as I walked through to board one of the ground crew asked me if I was prepared to assist them in the event of an emergency! Thought I must have looked ultra efficient until I got on the plane and realised I was on the front row next to the emergency exit, which basically means you have to open it if things go wrong……. Wonder if they knew what they were doing giving me that kind of responsibility…….
February was pretty hot although there had been a lot of rain. It seemed to stick around 30 degrees. Then there would probably be a storm later to break it up and go a bit cooler. We often think about how lucky we are to be living here. We walk Boomer to the magnificent scenery of hills and stunning rainforest trees around Wollongbar and then I drive to work through beautiful surroundings of rolling hills and lush green scenery. So beautiful, no stress, everything is totally chilled. Australia is certainly the lucky country.
We went and spent a weekend in Yamba, further down the coast. Yamba is supposed to be the most beautiful place in Australia apparently so should be good to see. Although it rained a lot we still had a good time and met some friends. In March we went to the Channon Market at Lismore. The markets are a big thing in the country life
with stalls set out in a very pictoresque fashion. There are clothes stalls, jewellery, massage cubicles, live bands playing, foods from all over the world and so on. So cool. Met a strange man who was dressed in a white wedding dress. Apparently he usually dresses up as a fairy or a baby. He told us he’s the most normal one there and there are some strange ones!! We had a nice coffee and mooch about with friends, Kathleen, Mark and Terese. The market was really lovely.
My birthday approached and we all descended on Fish Heads Restaurant at Byron Bay. Awesome seafood! I had bugs, mussels, prawns and spaghetti. The seafood is really good out here. Janette and Shane said we had to watch a movie called Castle which apparently is almost an initiation to Australia! It was very funny!
The next morning we were off to Lennox Head for breakfast with more friends- Deb and her
husband Thomas. The clock went back in the morning but nobody told the kookaburras, who sing beautifully and very distinctively so instead of waking up at 6am I woke up at 5am! Don’t mind though as the mornings are beautiful.
Read more from Liz Bethell on her personal Blog.
Part One of our new weekly series from guest blogger, Liz Bethell about going to live in Australia.
Everyday in life we are offered opportunities. Whether we choose to recognise or act upon those opportunities or just ignore them, is up to us as individuals. I believe that when an opportunity presents itself, we must not ignore it – if it is possible to take it, we should. It’s like learning to dance in the rain instead of waiting for the rain to stop. And God forbid those opportunities we could have done end up on the bucket list, and we later think “Why didn’t I try that?”, but it’s suddenly too late.
This happened to me in 2006. We came to Australia on a 4 month extended holiday with the idea of seeing if we liked it and possibly moving out here at a later date. We met some amazing people back then who have stayed quality, genuine friends as the years have gone by. One friend was an American girl, Kristen, over in Australia doing a teaching placement and through her we met a Canadian teacher doing a Teacher Exchange- actually swapping lives with an Australian counterpart for a year- house, job, car- only keeping the same partner and children! When I heard that I thought how awesome it was- what an amazing experience.
I went home to life as I knew it. I asked about the Exchange at work, but as I was then working in the Reception class and the exchange to Australia started mid-year for the British participants, it was felt that there would be too much upheaval for the little ones and would be better when I had an older class. So a few years later, when I had been teaching in Year 3 for a few years, I approached my head teacher and put forward an application through the Commonwealth Scheme to swap and move Down Under for a year.
It wasn’t as straight forward as usual. The tough year with the government meant that they withdrew a lot of funding for the organisation and there was doubt as to whether it would continue running- a shame as this has run now for 100 years. Then finally CYEC Commonwealth Youth Exchange Committee took it over and everything started moving fast in the last few months. My Australian Exchange Teacher, Fiona had her application sent to my school where it was considered by the head and the governing body and likewise mine was being done by the Principal in Australia. Fiona and I spoke a lot on the phone and got to know each other and emailed and set up networks of people to help us both settle in on either side of the world! We researched the area and I couldn’t believe it- if I could have chosen the area I would have loved to go to it would have been Byron Bay- the place where we met Kristen- our American friend and through her, Bob and Chris and other friends. People who now live 15 minutes from where we are living this year. Pretty amazing when you consider that you can’t choose where you want to go- and the size of Australia! I knew it was meant to be. Visas had to be sorted and police checks and housing had to be sorted out. People usually swap the houses they are living in but as my partner, Ralph works offshore in the diving industry I knew he wouldn’t be able to give up his job for the year and so would need to go home for some of the time. So I decided to rent a house for Fee, Eric and her girls, Ellen and Adi. This worked out well as it was near school for them.
Finally the end of December came. I hung back so I could actually meet the Aussies as we had got on so well on the phone. They arrived Christmas Day. We had a big Welcome/Leaving Party on December 28th in Liverpool and then on 29th December my son Jack and I hopped on a plane bound for Sydney, Australia. We would be met by Nicolette and Ross, some more fantastic friends we had made back in 2006 and were going to spend New Year with them before heading up to our new home and life up on the East Coast of Australia. I didn’t know it then but this was going to be the start of an experience that was more awesome than even I could have imagined! And I haven’t finished it yet!
Read more from Liz Bethell on her personal Blog.
Read part two of Going to live in Australia here.
In this weekly series, we scour the world in search of the most weird and wonderful hotels. From cave hotels to converted prisons, capsule pods to underwater guestrooms, you can expect only the unexpected. This week, enjoy a Night Less Ordinary Roar and Snore in Sydney, where you sleep in a zoo.
What’s the gimmick? Fancy waking up next to a lion? At Roar and Snore in Sydney’s Taronga Zoo, guests can do just that. Find yourself sleeping in one of the architecturally designed tents, with views of the Sydney harbour to one side and lions, snow leopards and meerkats on the other.
You should read… Top weird ways to travel on holiday
Why stay? For animal enthusiasts, it doesn’t get much better than waking up to the roar of a lion or an elephant trumpeting as you prepare to experience the Zoo before the crowds. Feed a giraffe or pat a seal as you go behind the scenes to learn the secrets of this famous and fascinating Zoo. And if that wasn’t enough, experience sunrise at one of the world’s most famous views from one of the best possible positions to see it.
The Wow Factor: Your incredible overnight Zoo experience begins with refreshments on arrival, followed by an opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the Zoo’s most friendly creatures. After a buffet dinner you hike through the zoo on a night zoo safari led by a zoo educator, where you can see the animals relax after their daylight duties. Then settle in for the night in a cosy, fully-furnished tent.
You should read… A Night Less Ordinary: Dog Park Park Inn
Price includes guided night Zoo Safari, tent accommodation, dinner, refreshments, breakfast, two back of house tours and admission to the zoo the following day. Prices start from $436.50AUD for one adult and one child. Click here for details.
Winter in the UK is cold, grey and wet. Definitely a good excuse to stay in the office. If you have the luxury to be able to leave, though, these are definitely the best and most popular places to hibernate and escape the winter blues..
An all-time British favorite, Spain offers amazing value for long-term getaways in an environment that caters distinctively to the British. It’s like home away from home – with better weather and cheaper food. Mainland Spain and the Balearics, such as Majorca and Ibiza, have much milder temperatures in the off-season months than the UK and you can even end up spending less than you would if you stayed home! The best part about it is that you’re no further than a 3-hour flight from the British cold – in case you ever want to go back, that is.
Take advantage of the almighty Pound compared to the US Dollar and spend a month or more in the USA’s favorite laid-back state. Florida has something for everyone, whether you’re retired, have a family, or want to party all night…and they speak English! Prices on flights out of the UK are quite moderate (you are crossing the ocean) and once you get there, accommodation is very cheap! You can have a villa or apartment to yourself for peanuts. If you feel adventurous, internal flights are cheap as well – go to New York, Las Vegas, or Los Angeles just for the weekend.
Australians go backpacking through Europe. Europeans go backpacking through Australia. It’s just the thing to do…and they speak English! The Pound will go far in Australia also, although the flights can be quite pricey. If you haven’t been to visit your second-cousins half way around the world, you definitely should. Australia is blessed with warm climate, beautiful beaches, and very friendly people. Australians celebrate their Christmas and New Year on the beach, since the seasons are opposite from the UK. No wonder it’s such a great place for you to hibernate the winter away.
4. Thailand. Indonesia (Bali). India.
Exotic, hot, and CHEAP. Sorry, they don’t speak much English. Spend a month or more immersing yourself in an amazing cultural experience surrounded by breathtaking natural surroundings. Better yet, choose one a year or, even better, one a month! These are developing countries that have a lot to offer. Pleasant and luxurious hospitality is available at prices you would have to see to believe. Jump on the “eat-pray-love” trend and go on a Yoga retreat. So many options, so little time…
Yes, Spain fits in here also, but we reserved this space for all the other wonderful destinations you can take advantage of in the winter months that are just around the corner. Europe has many popular, and cheap, places to get away on a long-term holiday. Among the favorites are Portugal, Malta, Greece, Cyprus, Bulgaria and Croatia. Each of these countries has a distinct character and personality to offer – along with an unforgettable experience.