The Joy Of Families…

September 22, 2011

The main purpose of coming to the UK was for work purposes but as we were travelling so far we decided to add 2 weeks of personal holiday time to the beginning of the trip so we could see a few sights and meet up with relatives on both sides of our family. Some we had met before and some we hadn’t.

Ian’s father was born in Harlow Essex and I was born in Beverley, Yorkshire. I’m unsure where my mother and father were born but it was in England.

Ian’s father was about 16 I think when he got a ’10 pound trip’ to Australia and I emigrated with my family (mum, dad and 3 sisters) when I was a toddler…I turned 2 years old 2 1/2 months after we landed.

There hasn’t been a lot of contact with family over the years, but the reconnections over the past 12 years or so have been wonderful.

On this visit we had a lovely catch up with Uncle Bill and Aunty Maureen, their son John and his wife Elly and their children Isobella and Oliver, and their daughter Lisa. We met at a beautiful hotel looking right at Tower Bridge on the Thames before heading over the river to a gorgeous restaurant where Ian and I had a very delicious meal of traditional roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. We finished the afternoon with a very pleasant walk around the water front and said our goodbyes right beside the Tower of London.

It was a beautiful afternoon.



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A Bonny Time In Scotland

September 21, 2011

We have been very fortunate to have had a few days in which to drive to Scotland to visit family again. I can remember the first time I had learned that my uncle Colin was wanting to do a family tree and wanted to make contact with the family members who had immigrated to Australia over 40 years ago…me being the youngest member of that family. With a little trepidation I sent him an email and promptly got an email back and that was the beginning of a wonderful ‘relationship’ long-distance style.

I had always hoped that one day I might get to visit them, and low and behold I’ve just had my third visit to Scotland; I can hardly believe it. Sadly, we lost uncle Colin before we made our first visit but I’ve loved meeting my relatives on each visit…there are still some I haven’t met so I guess we’re just going to have to go back again one day. :-)

I vaguely remember my Aunty Isobel telling me that her house was over 100 years old but it seems my memory is a little unreliable…it is in fact over 200 years old! It was built between 1773 and 1776…I can’t remember the exact year…but what has stunned me about this is that Australia was settled in 1788…which means my aunties house is older than Australia’s birthday. Extraordinary.

The weather for our first day was glorious, a very unexpected blessing to be sure. We visited Culzean Castle…pronounced ‘Kullane’ and it doesn’t have a royal history, it’s more of a residential castle that was owned by various earls and was passed down from generation to generation.

It has a fascinating history, it was added to and adapted over the years and like so many big homes and castles on privately owned estates that covered multiple generations and centuries, there were some very responsible earls who maintained and extended the family fortunes and land and there were the scoundrels who squandered the family wealth through gambling and increased debts which following generations had to deal with. Finally, death duties brought and end to the family ownership and the property is now maintained by the national trust.

So here are some of the photos we took on the day…unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take any inside the castle, but the gardens and the outside of the castle are very beautiful.

The Scottish countryside has a rugged beauty all it’s own as is the case with Scottish castles, they have a rugged elegance about them and most were built during the time when the clans ruled the land and there were a great many family feuds between them; the castles were really fortifications for protection and defence from feuding families and clans. It’s a fascinating history.



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Warwick Castle

September 19, 2011

What a lovely day we had a Warwick Castle. It was so different to what I had expected really, the other castles we’ve visited were more serious in that they were really like preserved ‘museum-ish’ where you walked through the grounds and the buildings, observing the rooms and decor and learning about the history. Some you can take photos in and some you can’t.

Warwick Castle however is quite different in that it’s far more interactive and is really catering to families and is a lot more commercial. They had a demonstration of the trebuchet (catapult), a fabulous falconry demonstration with the most magnificent birds and the grounds are maintained beautifully. Inside you can walk through the various sections of the buildings to see the armour, the bedrooms and what the living quarters were like during various eras in the castles history.

Also, there is an enormous amount of life-like wax figures of different people throughout the centuries who lived or stayed there and there are recordings in each of the rooms that give you the history of those people and what took place there. It was really very fascinating and informative.

They also had jousting presentations and archery and there is a rampart walk that begins at the bottom of one tower and it takes you through three towers in total…once you start you can’t stop…you have to keep going. The towers themselves are very narrow and there’s about 200 stairs in total. The views are well worth the effort but by the time you’ve finished, your legs are a little jelly-ish. :-)

I think my favourite part of the day was the falconry display…but then I’m a bit of a birdy person. Here are some of my photos from my day at Warwick Castle.



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Stoke On Trent

September 19, 2011

I really want to share what UCB UK is like, at least the outside and surrounding countryside. They are situated at Stoke On Trent which historically is known for all the pottery that has been made here. Stoke On Trent is the home of Wedgewood, Royal Doulton and others. Stoke is in the Staffordshire region which also had considerable coal mining and that meant the the skies over this region were particularly black…the potteries and coal combined to make Stoke a rather unpleasant place to live. Some of the potteries are still here, others have left and the coal mines are all closed and the skies over England in general are much cleaner now since the clean air bill was passed in Parliament years ago and coal is no longer burned in fireplaces and stoves, everything is gas and electric these days. So living in Stoke On Trent isn’t as gloomy as it used to be.

It’s true that there isn’t a huge amount of things to do in Stoke, but it’s a nicer place to visit these days nonetheless and this is the home base for UCB UK. They have a fabulous facility, an amazing testimony to what God can do with willing people without any money…it is without a doubt a miracle.

So here are a few photos of the grounds around the UCB facility (the broadcasting facility that is) and the immediate countryside that they’re in the middle of.



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Oh The Sites We Saw!

September 18, 2011

I thought it might be nice to just share a few images of some of the sites we’ve managed to take in whilst in the UK so far. We’ve managed to do quite a lot in a relatively short space of time in between visiting family, travel and work. Here are just some of the places we’ve been fortunate to see.

Trafalga Sqaure



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Pretty As A Picture

September 16, 2011

The Brit’s really do know how to make beautiful gardens and I’ve really enjoyed photographing the flowers that are in bloom right now at the tail end of the summer. After we trekked to Trafalga Square we walked under the 3 arches that lead up to Buckingham Palace but we took a left turn and walked through the stunning parklands instead and walked the longer way around and I’m so glad we did. The parklands were really beautiful with lovely duck ponds and beautifully tended gardens and we even met a few squirrels along the way as well. That was a real treat because squirrels are not something you see in Oz.



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It’s All In The Details

September 16, 2011

I think I’ve mentioned in previous posts that so many of the buildings in the UK are really quite spectacular and that’s very true, it’s also true that there is considerable British influence in many of the older buildings and homes in Sydney and many capital cities in Australia. It’s easy to see where our heritage lies simply by driving around some of the older areas of Sydney.

What has really impressed me however about so many of the buildings we’ve seen in England, London in particular, has been the detail and intricate and ornate nature of the buildings. it’s also impressive to see such a large influence from ancient Rome as well, something I had not realised before.

Rather than go on with telling you about it all, I’ll post photos instead.



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Time in the UK

September 13, 2011


When we flew from Singapore for London, we knew we had a long 13 hour flight ahead of us so I decided to take a sleeping pill and pass the majority of it in sleep which meant I slept 11.5 of the 13 hr flight which was fabulous. I also needed the rest so that my back didn’t cause me grief for the entire flight.

We arrived at Heathrow airport at about 5am and we had to catch the underground train – ‘The Tube’ – to High St Kensington which is where our hotel was and we only had to make a short walk from the station to the hotel, thank goodness…it’s always a pain dragging luggage around. We were able to store our luggage at the hotel but we couldn’t check in until about 2pm…we arrived at the hotel a little before 8am and we didn’t want to waste the day by sitting around in the lobby, so we got a bus to Victoria St Station which is where all the buses and trains are centred and it’s where all the tour companies have their bases. We thought the best thing to do with our day was spend it looking around as our time was limited and already pretty much booked out.

We got a 48hr hop on/ hop off bus ticket that gave us a commentaried tour around all the main sites of London and we could get on and off wherever we wanted to and see any site that appealed Continued…

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Singapore Stats

September 7, 2011


We’ve had a great time here in Singapore, we always enjoy this place – it’s clean and  safe and highly efficient and it’s beautiful to behold. We’ve learned bits and pieces about  Singapore over the years but we had such a great tour guide this morning that I thought  I’d share some incredible information about this gorgeous though tiny island nation.

Where to start…

Singapore used to be part of Malaysia but has only had it’s independence for about 46  years; apparently 46 years ago during a particularly feisty cabinet meeting of the  Malaysian parliament, the Singapore representatives were told they were no longer  wanted in the Malaysian government and they were kicked out of Malaysia and  Singapore gained it’s independence overnight.

The problem for the Singaporean people is that this tiny dot of an island was at the time  only about 500 square miles big…on a world map we’re talking less than the preverbal  dot! So the man who took charge (I can’t remember his name at the moment) decided  that the only way Singapore could survive independence was to attract foreign  investment and to work hard at a high standard Continued…

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More Animals

September 6, 2011

Okay, we went on the Night Safari which is a tour you can take to the Singapore Zoo at night time to see the nocturnal animals, we had dinner included in the tour and it was quite a pleasant night but to say we were somewhat underwhelmed by the experience is a bit of an understatement. It was ‘bad’ it just wasn’t ‘great’.

For a couple who LOVE to take photos, the fact that we couldn’t get any decent photos because everything was dark was quite frustrating. We saw lions, leopards, bats, hippos and a host of other gorgeous animals, but still, without being able to take a photo of the experience was a bit disappointing. Still, it was pleasant begin driven around the park in a train-like vehicle with the cool breeze in our faces.

However, the next morning we did a morning trip to the zoo to see it in daylight and that was quite a different story altogether, we were able to get a load more photos and some turned out quite well. The problem with photographing wildlife is that they constantly move and getting decent shots can take quite a while.

Here are a few to show you a little of what we saw.



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