Amber Ridge, KZN, South Africa

Amber Ridge, nestled in the mountains, near Howick, KZN

Although I will still be visiting other family in South Africa in the future, this was my last visit there to my daughter Jane and family; as they are relocating to Australia. Even though Jane was busy winding up her affairs, we still had time to have fun.

Our first visit was to our long-time friends the Clulows. They have moved from their farm in Boston to a retirement village called Amber Ridge, near Howick in KZN.

Impala roam freely around the property

You might think the words "retirement village" indicate something quiet and boring, but nothing is further from the truth! Although there is a large frail care unit, and assisted living units, it is more of a recreational village. There are two heated swimming pools; a library; a communal dining room; a snooker room; a gymnasium; a pub; an Astroturf bowling green; two tennis courts; bass and trout fishing dams; a substantial wilderness area for walks, including picnic spots, which allow for large game, like zebra, to roam freely among the houses; plus a 350 seater auditorium with a separate bar area, and an 80 seater functions room. So, as you can see, retirement doesn't necessarily mean boring!

We spotted these warthogs heading for someone's garden!

Our friends produced a wonderful lunch

The grandchildren; mine and theirs.

I do so love catching up with old friends, although it becomes difficult when they are spread around the world! I guess I just have to keep travelling on!

Elizabeth Coughlan


Christine and Hanna's Visit to Istanbul

Yerebatan Cistern. This extraordinary feat of Roman engineering, enlarged to its present 
dimensions by the Emperor Justinian I in 532, was used to store water for the Great Palace.

No matter how many times I take visitors around Istanbul, I always try to find new angles to showcase this city in my photography. Even the exact same shot, taken on a different day in different circumstances, can become unique - well in my eyes anyway. I never tire of photographing this amazing city!

So when Christine and Hanna came to stay, I happily grabbed my camera, and took them on a lightning tour of Istanbul's most iconic sights.

Photographs create memories, and here is a snapshot of some of the most memorable moments I captured, of their time in Istanbul.

We began in the tour in the Yerebatan Cistern (also known as the Basilica Cistern). This is a challenge for any photographer, as it is quite dark down there underground, and the lighting is more for the effect. Also, tripods are forbidden, unless one is prepared to pay a fee, which, the last time I asked, was 250TL.

Of course, food featured large on our trip, as who can ignore the many delightful culinary delights on offer in Istanbul?

This is Kunefe, a delicious dessert made with shredded pastry, cheese, and sugar, 
served with ground pistachio nuts sprinkled over the top.

We visited the Rustem Pasa Mosque...

...famous for its beautiful Iznik tiles

Turkish delight

While we were in the area, we couldn't fail to visit the Spice Bazaar, and try some Turkish delight!

While Christine explored this shop...

...Hanna and I photographed the exquisite plates in the room above

Part of the colourful tiled wall display in the underground station of the Marmaray

 The Marmaray is the underground train tunnel that runs under the Bosphorus, linking the European side with Asia. We used this as an alternative to the usual ferry. 

Hanna (with the camera) and Christine in the courtyard of the favourites,
in the Topkapi Palace

Enjoying the day at the Topkapi Palace

We watched these ladies making gözleme (a sort of filled pancake)

...and then couldn't resist trying some

Christine in the Blue Mosque

Hanna in the Blue Mosque too!

...and we couldn't miss the Suleymaniye Mosque

We packed so much into such a short time, but it was fun! I hope Christine and Hanna enjoyed it too, and come back to visit again some time

by Elizabeth Coughlan


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

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I couldn't resist this one!