Snapshot on Nelson – NZ South Island

In Queensland, you do not have the pleasure of going out for breakfast with a view of snow capped mountains peaking over the shopping centre roof. With beautiful days, I enjoyed this short break to the Tasman area, top of the South Island.

A short 1.5 hour flight from Auckland, the area has so much to offer and well worth the visit. Nelson sprawls across a huge area at the top of the Island, hugged closely by mountains and sea. From here you can easily access New Zealand’s rugged West Coast or the inviting Marlborough region.

My first night arriving, was a quick pickup at the airport, before being whisked off for dinner at Harbour Light Bistro. Overlooking the sea, this beautiful old home has been transformed into a restaurant on Wakefield Quay. Here you can sit near the enveloping picture framing windows and watch the harbour activity.

Staff were friendly and we were seated upstairs, not near the windows on this occasion, however you could still see the scenery framed beautifully through the expansive windows.

This homemade bread entree was a great way to start the meal, whilst nibbling away and catching up. I chose the incredibly soft, flavoursome beef fillet with roasted carrots as my main. For this weary traveller, the meal was a massive hit. Also pictured is the lamb rack, which I did consider, and Im told was most enjoyable. You need to follow a meal like this with a delectable dessert. Plus one for a special occasion, hence the choice of an enticing Creme Brûlée with turmeric and citrus salad.

Quite happy with the dessert choice. It was devine!

Be warned, food in New Zealand is an experience in itself. Fresh, with tastes most likely stronger than what you are used to, this omelette at Columbus Coffee, Richmond, provided an awesome kickstart to the day. Packed full of fresh produce, the colours lit up the table. This is also the venue providing the snow capped backdrop from earlier.

After brekky, it was off to check out the markets. Nelson city has markets which have operated for years. There’s a lot to choose from, even clothing made from possum fur.

How beautifully warm and snuggly this looked, now if I didnt come from Queensland…

When you’re on a short break, why cook? Well, on this particular trip, we were booked into one of Nelsons best restaurants, The Tides, located at the Trailways. For some this was a surprise, me, I was along for the ride, and to enjoy the look of surprise!

Bar staff were above and beyond, in fact I had a couple of wonderful conversations with the bar staff here, which was much appreciated.

Food, yes that was definitely good. Our set menu gave many choices, quite impressive given most venues with a set menu have only 2-3 mains. This one, 6 mains to choose from. Well done. I for one am tiring of the alternate drops and limited menus when you have a large group and loved this venue for many reasons, but this one was a definite plus.

Colourful bread selection started the meal, followed by mains and dessert. My choice for mains, was the salmon.

Fabulously soft, the salmon was one of the most flavoursome dishes I have enjoyed recently. Now for dessert! Again, an impressive four choices. Where are these menus when we have functions? Moving on, I chose the Salted Carmel Cheesecake. This would be the best cheesecake I have ever tasted. Soft, more akin to a mousse than a cheesecake, this was a delightful dessert to finish the meal.

Highly recommend a visit to The Tides if you are in Nelson. Their expansive restaurant caters for everything. Even impressed by the bathrooms with separate clean washrooms.

For this visit, I was lucky to be staying on a local farm. Relaxing scenery all round. Even the night sky was mesmerising, with a moon clearer and enticing, peeking through the cloud.Consider Nelson when travelling to NZ, this area has a lot to offer. There are many areas to choose from within the Tasman region, and the next blog, will cover Mapua. In the meantime, Ill leave you with another delectable meal from Columbus Coffee. Enjoy your visit to Nelson!

The Square Restaurant- Novotel Auckland Airport

Sometimes transit times can be dull. But, should you be on flights which transit through Auckland, then take some time to dine or stay, at Novotel Auckland Airport. The Square Restaurant will not disappoint. Here there are comfy booths or stand alone dining settings, all situated under the massively high ceiling with a living wall sprouting from the bar..Delightful melt in the mouth fish made for a fantastically filling, yet light on the stomach meal, for this late evening traveller.

Room service is 24 hours, if you are looking for some peace and quiet. Or stop on in the restaurant, the friendly, professional staff will do all they can to make your meal enjoyable.Mind you the view from your room at night might be quite enticing!

Lunch was also an enjoyable meal, again with fantastic staff.

I really enjoyed this Calamari. Tender enough to chew, with a crispy exterior.

However, check out the brilliant colour on this NZ salmon bagel! The eye catching pop of colour gave a hint of how tasty this fish was.

Or, continuing on the fish theme, how about a hearty fish and chop meal? Impressively large this lunch was another tasty dish.Even the children’s meals are enticing..On a couple of occasions now we have stopped by this restaurant. Never yet have been disappointed. Stop by, the staff will look after you!

Blockhouse Coffee & Eats

Tucked away in the Northside suburb of Nundah is a really cool collection of specialty shops, which include the sleek, clean, Blockhouse Bar.Seating is a mix of tables, bar stools, indoor & outdoor settings, there’s plenty to choose from here. We dropped by early in the week for a brunch and were not disappointed.

If you’re seated inside, the big floor to ceilings windows add a feeling of spaciousness, beautifully blending the line between indoors and out.

The menu choice on this particular day was the Mothers Day brunch menu, which boasted some very interesting, mouthwatering meals.

We took our time to choose, after all, it’s not easy when the selection is so inviting, and different to the normal brekky / brunch choices.

Eventually though, after careful consideration, whilst sipping on refreshing wine and mimosa, the choice was made. I chose the gnocchi.

Certainly not disappointing, in any way, shape or form. This dish was simply delicious. Soft, melt in the mouth gnocchi, blended fabulously with the goat cheese, pumpkin and all ingredients. Not only a filling dish, this one was very tasty. Overall, very happy with my choice!

The other dish chosen today was an interesting chilli scrambled egg. The chilli was not overpowering, and the maple bacon, simply delicious! Oh yes I did have just a little taste, luckily!

As I mentioned there’s plenty of seating choices and we enjoyed the outdoor view, wiling away some time, watching the world pass by.

Stop by, spend some time and browse the interesting specialty shops, before you indulge in a bite to eat or refreshing beverage.

Keep this one in mind, it’s certainly worth a visit!

Sofitel Brisbane Central & Queensland Ballet Mothers Day Performance

Sofitel Brisbane Central hosted High Tea with a performance by Queensland Ballet pe professionals for Mothers Day 2018. I was one of the lucky mothers to be treated to this experience.

High tea was superb with a mouth watering selection of finger sandwiches, scones and pastries. Table were set to impressively high standards, with crisp white linen and every little detail covered.

In the background beautiful music gently flowed across the tables of families spoiling their mums, daugthers and sons treating treating their mothers, as well as groups of friends.

The premium package gave us stage side seating with free flowing French Champagne. Ooh La lah!! Clever lighting added to the ambiance of the entire ballroom, with wonderful lavender hues flooding across the tables.

Even the lights above looked superb!. We were treated to a most spectacular performance from Queensland Ballet pre professional students.

Raw emotion was etched on the faces of these superb dancers as their fluid movements told a nurturing story, ending with true love.

The strength, agility and impressive expression of these highly talent dancers, drew you into feeling the emotion behind the performance. Choreography, direction and execution of this heart wrenching story was simply superb.To experience this, whilst sipping on French champagne and indulging in a painstakingly put together high tea was quite special. The high tea included a sense a humour from the chef…

We were also treated to a short heartwarming speech from the very special Li Cunxin. Author of the autobiography, depicting his life as he fought to rise from poverty. Number six of seven brothers, Li started from humble beginnings to progress and become a hugely talented director. To be a mere few metres from such a respected being, was humbling, to say the least.

There was a Q & A with the director and choreographer of todays performance. To be honest I think the audience was awestruck with the day and unable to ask questions, however the host had questions which were answered by Queensland Ballet. Wonderful to hear the young dancers explain that to reach their level takes hard work and commitment. Traits which humanity loses on occasions. And to the direction and choreographer, the emotion you put into this performance was incredible. For these students to portray this emotionally drawn performance was a huge credit to their respect of you, to say the very least,

Thank you to all involved in hosting this day, the hard work and effort was appreciated by all. Look forward to seeing these pre-professionals as they make their mark in ballet history.

And for the Sofitel, never do you disappoint. Drop by sometime, and enjoy the friendly ‘bonjour’ ! Merci !

Cryptic Artt -Rice Cooking Event

We enjoy going anywhere and experiencing what life has to offer. Hence, upon receiving an invitation to attend a rice cooking event, to aid a good friend with their art project, we were happy to accept. I will note here too, we weren’t invited for me to take photos or write, this was simply something I chose to do as the photo opportunities presented on this day were, I felt, really cool, and different.

The idea behind the event, was to complete a uni project studying “relationship”, “human interaction” and the idea of “sharing within a multicultural environment”.

After rounding up a number of friends and their families, Jodesa from Cryptic Artt, had everything set up with cooking equipment and food preparation, ready to go.Watching the process, participating as well as interaction, really was a lot of fun. The rice dishes included some delicious recipes from China, Korea, Carribean, and the Philippines.

Those couple of hours spent, chatting, tasting new dishes and ingredients, plus learning new processes, really was quite enjoyable and I would be interested to see the results of this event.

Everyone was more than happy to offer information on the types of food and ingredients. Me, well I came away that day with a bit more knowledge than I had prior to the event. That to me, makes it worthwhile. Learning new things not only expands the mind, you open doors to other things you may have never considered before.This Korean rice dish above, sported a symphony of colours and textures, added to which it was superb! What was the key behaviour everyone took away from this? I believe it would be the completely relaxed, non judgemental and friendly attitude of everyone involved, no matter what background or culture. A reminder that you do not have to step too far from your comfort zone to be surprised by what is out there.

For something quite different, and being a person who believes artists should be supported in their endeavours, not only was this a pleasant afternoon, but to have the pleasure of tasting and devouring the end results- unbeatable!

Check out @cryptic_artt on instagram, Jodesa’s ideas are offer an interesting look at how she views the world. Love how everyone’s mind has that different perspective!

FV By Peppers – Fortitude Valley Brisbane

Thank you to Travel Massive and FV By Peppers for an interesting, informative evening last week. To attend a meeting at this newly opened complex was a privilege to say the least.The view from the restaurant and bar located on level 6, was certainly stunning as the sun set. Huge, inviting lounges, invite you to rest your feet and enjoy the location. The bar and restaurant area has massive doors opening to this secluded location.

To give some background FV by Peppers is still under construction. In saying that, its only the third accomodation tower which is yet to be finished. Tower One & Two are open for business. Offering both hotel and apartment accommodation, FV by Peppers gives you plenty of choice. Oh yes and you can live here too! Short stay, long stay, corporate, everything is on offer.

Based on skyscraper architecture, New York style, the building is impressive, including the u shaped swimming pool which offers a breathtaking area to both swim and chill- and includes a swim up bar, looking towards Brisbane city.

We were incredibly lucky to be treated to a private tour. So many hidden surprises here, and I would have to say, we were impressed. In fact so much so, that already we have a few groups of people we know making plans to stay. Word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool.

Hotel rooms, one bedroom and two bedroom apartments, there’s plenty of choice. And when I say apartments, I’m talking full kitchens. These apartments are built to live in, not just stay.

The two bedroomed apartment we viewed, had a gorgeous view of the story bridge at night, as you entered the second bedroom. Muted colours throughout enhanced the beautiful lights outside.

Comfortable lounge setting, leads onto the enclosed glass balcony. Everything you need for a chilled out stay has been included.

There are some impressive extras here you can enjoy with a group of friends or family. For a mere $30, hire one of the four large, beautifully appointed spa rooms and enjoy 4 hours of fun and relaxation.

Relax in the bubbling spa, letting your stress disappear and muscles relax, whilst you either enjoy the city view or watch the TV. There’s plenty of comfortable seating and even your own private bar where staff will provide you with food and drinks (not included in the hire fee), during the course of your four hours.

Should you maybe wish to continue your fun, there is also the moonlight theatre for hire. Again you and your friends relax, enjoy, whilst staff tend to your tends using the private bar (not included in hire fee), contained within the theatre. Bean bags or comfortable lounges make for a sprawling good time!

Even the gym is impressive, roomy plenty of new equipment to keep everyone happy, a wonderful city view, and the cherry on top, will be a new yoga area due to open soon.

Mantra Group have done well to ensure not only do you have the comforts of home, but that extra added luxury at a very reasonable price. For those of us who are Accor Plus members, be sure to keep on checking on how the Mantra Group bid is progressing. To have the Peppers and Mantra complex’s added to Accor portfolio options will be quite the feather in their cap!

And, should you be looking for something special, keep these hire rooms in mind. They aren’t available unless you are staying on site, but what a wonderful treat this could be!

Finally, as with most venues, weekends are busier and it might be that bit harder to secure a private spa or the theatre, so if you are able to stay during the week, chances are you will have most opportunities open to you. Enjoy, we are looking forward to visiting again, perhaps we will even see you there!

Anzac Day 25 April

On the eve of Anzac Day 2018, the setting sun provided a fitting commemorative backdrop to the day which was next to dawn.Pink skies morphed into fiery orange. A sunset befitting to the memory of so many lives lost.

This year, our choice was to attend the Pinnaroo Service, held amongst the War Graves at dawn, A heart wrenching location at the best of times.

To see so many gathered to keep the memories of those incredible souls alive, including many from the younger generations, is heartwarming.

Pink tinged the grey clouds as the sun rose over the cemetery. Tall palms standing proudly in their specific spots, set off by the carpet of neatly mowed lawns surrounding the graves. Wafts of rosemary scent drift through the air.

Medals are worn on the left if you’ve served, on the right if wearing on behalf of your family family or others who served.

The speeches, the Ode & the wreath laying, are the foundation for the haunting bugle, breaking the silence with the eerie sounds of The Last Post, playing either side of the minutes silence.

As the tears slide down, the National anthems of New Zealand and Australia are played, sending a massive wave of pride and patriotism across the assembled crowd.

All over Australia, New Zealand and in many parts of the world, commemorative services and parades take place. It is a time for the generations of the future to honour and remember those who made sacrifices for our freedom, and those who continue to bear the burden of wounds from the far too many wars our troops and support crews, have fought.

The Ode of Remembrance – Laurence Binyon (Extract from his poem For The Fallen)

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 and in the morning,

We will remember them.

Lest we forget❤️

Site Cafe – Banyo

A relaxing start to Sunday morning with SereniTea at Site Cafe Banyo. Located next to the Banyo Train Station, this cafe makes up for size with what it has to offer. Enjoy a meal, partake of cake and coffee, or if you cannot spare the time to visit yourself, Uber Eats will deliver to you.

With an interesting choice of meals, the dilemma of what to choose, was no easy task. Site’s menu descriptions have you starting to salivate whilst deciding on the choice. Eventually, after narrowing it down to 4, I chose the Site Fritters, adding salmon instead of bacon.

Now the photo is somewhat deceiving as these fritters were huge, and try as I might, the last one, just could not fit it in my packed belly. A mix of pumpkin, zucchini and corn, the fritters are a solid filler to start your day. My favourite part, was the labna on top. This really is a delightful velvety sauce, originating from Middle Eastern culture which paired extremely well with the fritters. Best part, there was plenty of it!

Spicy Chorizo surrounded the towering vegetable stack. Resting in a superb truffled hollandaise sauce, the stack was made up of crunchy croquette hash, bacon, egg and wilted spinach. I’m told the dish was delicious, maybe needing just a little more of the beautifully spicy chorizo, with the truffled sauce certainly helping the meal hit the right spot.

For those sporting a hearty appetite, the Breakfast Tapas might be the right choice for you. A full plate with cauliflower and Parmesan fritter, bacon, eggs, mushrooms, croquettes hash, the list goes on! There is a vegetable Tapas meal choice too, should you wish to go meatless.

Or perhaps you would like to try the Arabian Eggs? Cooked then presented in the same pan, this mix of baked eggs, bean and chorizo, haloumi , savoury mince with a side of Turkish bread, also makes for a belly full of food.

Whatever your choice to start the day, you will definitely find something on this menu to satisfy your hunger. Staff are friendly and helpful, willing to go just that little bit extra to enhance your overall experience.

Pull up one of those seats next to the large opening window, and wile away some time whilst you indulge in a meal or coffee. With the corner site, there is plenty to see. If you’re really wanting that sweet finish, choose from the cake cabinet, or, how about trying the sweet waffles. And on that light, sweet note, I shall leave you for now….

Dolphin Waters Holiday Apartments – Tin Can Bay

Managers Greg & Karen run a wonderfully clean complex. Apartments are spacious with the location being ideal. Relax in the sparkling pool or enjoy the view from an upstairs balcony.

Fully furnished with kitchen and laundry facilities allowing the opportunity to stay in comfort and enjoy your home away from home.

Should you prefer someone else to cook, the apartments are located directly across the road from the beach, with the takeaway Snack Shack within a few metres of the complex or a very short walk to the marina where the Marina Bar & Grill provides a relaxing atmosphere for enjoying a delicious meal or drinks.

You too could enjoy a wonderful mix of fresh seafood at the Marina. Certainly a filling meal, with good food down and to earth service delivered at a great price.

The view directly across from the apartments is beautifully serene. Occasionally punctuated with a windsurfer whipping over the water, providing the extra splash of colour, there is always something to see on this constantly changing canvas.

Low tide provides an opportunity to stroll out across the vast area of sand. Blue crabs traverse the flats, scurrying in their small armies to stay out of your way.

An easy walk or couple of minutes drive early in the morning, will bring you to the wild dolphin feeding at Barnacles Cafe. Such a wonderful experience for a mere few do.lars.

We enjoy the wonderfully chilled atmosphere at this resort, and Tin Can Bay itself. If you should be planning a visit, choose this complex to stay, Greg & Karen will do everything to make your stay as comfortable as possible.

Check in, unpack then sit back and relax. Enjoy your stay!

Silky Oak Tea Gardens ~ Kia Ora Qld

Driving along the Tin Can Bay Road, after leaving Gympie, you will see this sign. If you are an adventurous spirit, don’t pass by, stop in. Should you choose to drive in, you are going to blown away with what you find, the name really doesn’t give away what wonderful secrets lie within.

Firstly, yes tea and cake if you wish, or perhaps a craft beer? Or, if you really do have an adventurous spirit, why not visit for one of the famous pig on the spit nights, which are bound to be filled with music and and a fantastic party atmosphere of some sort.

Your hosts, Helen & Daryl, have built this incredibly diverse country hotel business, over the past twenty years. And yet, this place seems to be one of the best kept secrets in Queensland. Take some time to have a chat to Daryl & Helen, they are the secret behind the success of this business. Plus the stories and down to earth chatter will have you in stitches.

The area is huge, with tall shady trees and interesting gardens opening into a number of different areas. Plenty of seating, starting with the plastic chairs, tables, and umbrellas for extra shade. Follow through though, as you will not be expecting what you find at the end. I’m not going to give all the secrets away, you need to satisfy your curiosity with a visit. It will be worth it!

Every pocket hides a new surprise, the mish mash of ideas here, really works well, blending to morph into one of the most iconic and interesting places we have visited. So many photo opportunities here, but I showed huge restraint, only because you need to go yourself.

Try a pub meal, test that cold beer, savour tea and cake, purchase some lemonade fruit, or country preserves. Oh and we highly recommend the pig on the spit! Unfortunately though when you are enjoying yourself so much, you forget to take photos 🤗. Whatever you do here, one thing is certain the stress of life will be forgotten whilst you linger beneath the canopy of shade.

This best kept secret needs to be unveiled, be sure to include Silky Oak Tea Garden on your next exploration journey. We are already planning the next visit!