Cruising Down the Bosphorus, Istanbul

Rumeli Hisari, the fortress built by Mehmet II, between 1451 and 1452, 
from where he launched his attack on Constantinople.

One of the delights of being in Istanbul in the summer is to join with a group of friends and cruise down the Bosphorus. This year was no exception. We hired a boat, brought our own contribution for the pot luck lunch, and sailed away.

Enjoying the top deck

No matter how many times I cruise down the Bosphorus, I never tire of the  scenery - the old mixed with the new - history and modernity - all jumbled together on the banks of this ancient strait, separating Europe from Asia.

I so enjoy gazing at the beautiful mansions strewn along the
banks of this amazing strait...

...and the tall houses, jostling for space on the very edge of the water

Our boat moored by the new bridge being built at the
end of the Bosphorus, near the entrance to the Black Sea

Once there, it was time for a swim in the Bosphorus...

...followed by a buffet lunch

Some of the mansions, or 'yali', are painted in this colour, called 'Ottoman Rose'.
This is the traditional colour, dating from earlier times

Peeping out from behind the houses, is Anadoluhisari (the Anatolian Castle), 
which was built between 1393 and 1394 by the Ottoman Sultan Bayezid I.

Küçüksu Summer Palace on the Asian shore of the Bosphorus. 
This was used for short stays by the Ottoman Sultans during the summer months

What a glorious day we had! Here's to next year's cruising!

by Elizabeth Coughlan


Australian Countryside, Upper Hunter, NSW

The Australian Countryside

It is easy to love the Australian countryside, especially that of the Upper Hunter Valley. The view from my daughter Suzi's house is quite stunning, as you can see from the image above.

Of course, one disadvantage could be that this is the road out from their house, 
and it's quite a while before they hit a tarred road.

My Granddaughter, Katelyn, is a true country girl, who loves the outdoors. 
Here, Grandpa is helping her collect some sticks, so she can show him how to make a campfire.

And here she is beginning to build her fire, as Grandpa and her faithful dog look on.

Katelyn's dog, Tinker

Here is the beginnings of the campfire that Katelyn built by herself. 
Very good, for a five-year-old! 
(Of course, she is still too young to be allowed to light it herself!)

Part of country living is the ability to see a wide selection of wildlife. Every night we saw thousands of flying foxes. But they fly so fast in the dying rays of light, that I was unable to get a shot of them.

Fortunately, I was able to get an image of these Rainbow Lorikeets...

...and the ubiquitous kangaroo.

And here is the end to another perfect day in Australia.

by Elizabeth Coughlan


Hawks Nest & Tea Gardens, NSW, Australia

With only a singing bridge between them, Hawks Nest and Tea Gardens offer beautiful views and vast expanses of sandy beaches. We are so lucky that they are easily accessible for a day's outing from Suzi and Neil's home. The singing bridge is so-called because its railings act like a harp, when the heavy south-westerly winds blow.

We spent a glorious day on the beach, followed by lunch at tea gardens, where we watched the pelicans on the jetty. All in all a wonderful day, and I think the above video tells it all!

by Elizabeth Coughlan


Hunter Regions Botanical Gardens, NSW, Australia

Hunter Regions Botanical Gardens

Just imagine the joy of walking through a natural bush setting, and seeing more than 3,000 plant species. That is the Hunter Regions Botanical Gardens. Created and maintained by volunteers, these gardens are world class, and feature more than 30 hectares of landscaped gardens, displaying the beauty and diversity of Australian native flora.

Katelyn and her Grandpa, following animal tracks through the grounds

Beautiful water features are everywhere

Suzi and Katelyn emerge through a tunnel of foliage.

Tree Goanna or Lace Monitor Varanus varius

We suddenly came across this enormous lizard, as we rounded a bend in the path. Fortunately, it wasn't named the Tree Goanna for nothing, as it shot up the nearest high tree, at an amazing speed!

Katelyn, and her reflection in a pond

 Look up here!

...and look over there!

We also saw lots of kangaroos, like this one...

...and this one!

Australian White Gardenia

It was winter in Australia, so there were not too many flowers in evidence. But we did see a bush of white gardenias.

Reflections in a lily pond

Although the weather was less than perfect, we spent a wonderful day at the Hunter Regions Botanical Gardens, and I, for one, would certainly like to go there again.

by Elizabeth Coughlan

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I couldn't resist this one!