A little trip to East Lothian...Yellowcraig and Fidra Island

Apparently summer's here!
Okay, well maybe not right here as I'm sitting in my thermal vest, long-sleeved t-shirt, and fleece, so something's obviously gone wrong.
I'm aware that the rest of the UK is basking in sun and high temperatures, because my sister for one, is happy to give me a running commentary each day on what her current temperature is. 
Oh yes and how her hostas have burnt leaves now! 
You can go off people... (that's just in case she's reading this)... I say share nice pleeeeese.
We have had some nice days, but surely we should have more at this time of the year. 
We've only got until the 21st of this month and then we're on the back route to winter. 

Well let's no dwell on that for now... I always try to keep positive and I've lots to natter about. 
I posted a Sunday Photo last week from a quick weekend break and mentioned that I'd hopefully write a post soon. I can't believe how much has happened since we had that break. 
But more about that later or in forthcoming posts...
Here's some photo's to set the scene.
(Space and more space... beautiful walks for miles, or perhaps cycling is your thing?)

We headed down to East Lothian, because one of the things we wanted to tie into the weekend was to visit to the Gardening Scotland Show. 
More about that in a future post. Phew...
See I told you there's a lot to come.
East Lothian with over 40 miles of stunning coastline, golden beaches where you can play spot the person for hours if you were so inclined, It also has 22 golf courses, but thankfully my hubby hasn't embraced golf yet, although there's talk that once he retires it'll be on his wish list. 
There's fantastic walks, cycling or pony trekking... whatever... there's something for everyone.
Hey, but thinking about it maybe I shouldn't be telling you all this?
I should perhaps keep it a secret. 

We stayed in the quaint little sea-side town of North Berwick, which is less than an hour from Edinburgh. 
The coastal scenery is stunning in both directions, such as Yellowcraigs beach where after walking through stunning countryside suddenly greets you. 
We sat for a while to appreciate the space, weather and beauty of the beach, sea and amazing views. 
Not to mention rest a wee while having an ice-cream.
Here's a photo where, if you follow the path, you may be able to see the light-house in the centre of the photo. It's a fair way off into the distance so I'm not sure you'll be able to see it... but it's there.
Here's a closer shot...
The island in the distance is Fidra Island.

Like other islands near North Berwick, Fidra is the result of volcanic activity around 335 million years ago! 
It's also a RSPB reserve now.
Wildlife images from cameras on Fidra can be viewed at the local Seabird Centre.
The lighthouse, which was built in 1885 and automated in 1970, can be accessed via a primitive jetty on the east of the island.
Now here's a fact for you...
Robert Louis Stevenson often visited the beaches at the area known today as Yellowcraigs (shown above) and it is said that he based his map of Treasure Island on the shape of Fidra.

If you'd like to see more of the area and further afield, then click here to revisit a post I wrote back in March of this year. 
We didn't manage a boat trip around the islands this time, to check out the puffin's and other seabirds but I think it's always good to leave wanting... it's certainly a place we'll return to soon.
Well I'll nip off now and hopefully be back soon.
I've got one surprise I can't wait to tell you about.
Toodleloo for now 
Enjoy your weekend.

Happy Blue Monday...London weekend break

Morning! (Oops it's not anymore)
I'm a little late today, but what can you expect when you've had a hectic weekend away in London. 
I must admit taking a break from all the renovations, mess and army of workmen coming in and out of the house was a brilliant and much appreciated idea. It must have been mine!
We only had a limited time for a short break, but never the less, we sure packed in a lot of things...so much so that I was limping at the end of the weekend (contrary to my hubby's constant comments about inappropriate shoes, my shoes were fine Emoji
In order to get around the city we used the underground rail system. It is the oldest and one of the busiest underground railway networks in the world!
I didn't really realise what was in store...travelling to Covent Gardens on a Saturday night was madness as far as I'm concerned! 
I don't like crowds and people in my personal space, but let's just say I didn't have much choice. I've never been pushed and poked so much in all of my life. I'm sure at one stage my feet lifted off the ground, as I was swept along with the tide. 
I'm sure my physical examination wasn't as up close and personal.
 I thought it was just me...but I did hear a young girl frantically telling her boyfriend that she didn't like it...NOT ONE BIT! She looked like a bunny caught in the headlights! 
It was quite reassuring that I wasn't the only one feeling like I was a piece of meat off packed off to market! 
I could have taken a photo to show you the madness, but there again I had no idea where my arms where, never mind my camera! 
If you prefer the era of the steam trains then you might like to take a peek at one of my earlier post ~ click here 
I like this photo because I think it gives the impression of London, it's exactly what was happening...everything whooshing past at incredible speed and you just have to hang on and go with the flow. 
(I know...don't I sound an old fuddy duddy?)
Unfortunately, I didn't take many photos over the weekend...namely because I forgot to take my camera out with me! Not only an old fuddy duddy...a forgetful one too Emoji
I felt like I'd lost a limb and there was no way I could return to the Hotel to collect it because we had dinner and a show to see.

However, I did manage to capture these cool Bowler Hat light shades in the Hotel lobby.
(The first bowler hat was originaly created for Edward Coke, the younger brother of the 2nd Earl of Leicester in 1849. It was designed by London hatmakers Thomas and William Bowlers for hatters Lock & Co of St. James's. The brief was to create a piece of headgear that could be worn by gamekeepers when they were out riding to protect their heads from low-hanging branches. It is thought that before accepting the hat Coke arrived at the shop in London and stamped on the crown twice to check its robustness. He paid 12 shillings for it. The Bowler went on to be associated with businessmen in the City of London. During the 1950's and 60s men wore the Bowler as part of the City uniform but the practice died out during the seventies...
...info courtesy of Laura Roberts, The Telegraph)

 I think they're really cool...what do you think?
If you ask anyone to name a London icon along with the Bowler Hat there's a good chance that they will say......the London Red Bus! 
I quite like the fact that this red bus now has my blog advertised on its side (hehe) 
This particular bus is a vintage model and used for weddings. 

And so on to Convent Gardens. 
Now this was a treat. 
What a fantastic place and as you can see incredibly popular. 
Street acts, fantastic restaurants, beautiful architecture and so much more.  
There's definitely a buzz about the area too. 
We actually had difficulty finding a restaurant that didn't have at least an hours waiting time for a table. This was a little stressful because we had tickets for a show.
I needed to eat otherwise my stomach may have out rumbled and roared Mufasa 
(we were going to see The Lion King hence the reference) 
But finally we did manage to eat and arrived at the theatre by the skin of our teeth...running up the stairs and virtually crowd surfing to our seat as the opening bars of the show resonated and reverberated throughout the theatre. 
From those opening bars we were spellbound. 
The costumes, music, choreography and incredible voices cast their spell. 

Here's a brief clip and each time I hear it...I get goose bumps! 
What an amazing spectacle and that voice!!!!

I think if you are able to see this show then you should because you will not be disappointed. 
It would be a fantastic Christmas treat for the children because it keeps very true to the Disney film. UK booking and various venue details here
(By the way, just to clarify I'm not receiving any form of payment for this promotion...this is just my view)

I'm not sure when it happened but I'm beginning to think that I'm now an old country bumpkin. The frenetic pace of the big city was a little much at times and I must admit I gave a sigh as we left. London is fantastic to visit and stay for a brief time but for me personally, I like to get back to open spaces with room to breath!   

I know that there is a fair amount of red in my post today, but there's also flashes of blue. 
I'm hoping that Sally who hosts Blue Monday will forgive me and allow me to link up today. 
If you look at the video clip you will see Rafiki has fantastic blue makeup Emoji

I'll wish you all a Happy Blue Monday.
Don't forget to pop across to see more of the Blue Monday posts at Smiling Sally's blog.

Weekend trip to the Yarra Valley...be warned it's a long post!

I always find it difficult to write a post after I've had a break. Maybe it's because everything moves so fast these days, that before I know it I've collected so much information and photographs that I'd like to share, that it seems too big a task. Plus then I'm also aware that I'll probably take up too much of your time, but I would like to take you on a wine tasting trip to the Yarra Valley, which is about an hours' drive out of Melbourne.

As the sun rose on our first morning...this was the sight that greeted us.

Are where located right in the centre of the vineyard... D'vine vineyard studio accomodation

(photo courtesy of D'vine Escape)

On that first morning we had a good wander around the vineyard and came across a very tranquil spot.

This particular vineyard accommodates wedding ceremonies.
This water feature must be a favourite with the wedding photographers....

There's even a bandstand or should that be a pavilion?
I love the refection in the water photo below...it's something I'd like to learn how to paint one day...

We were so lucky with the weather (yet again) considering we've moved into autumn now.

As we wondered around the grounds I did not expect to see this...I haven't a clue what tram stop this is, but what a cool idea to be used as additional accommodation for guests.
I can imagine it would be perfect for children.
Here's the internal view...bunk beds one end and a double bed at the other with a living area in the centre.

All aboard!

And here's the wedding chapel located within the vineyard...adorned with red roses too.

We did see a wedding party the next day, so I was glad I'd had chance to snoop without hindrance. See the lengths that I go for you...nothing is too much trouble ;D

I snook inside and took a few photos too...I'm always unsure whether this is the right thing to do, but I did it anyway on this occasion.
Once I saw that bell that was it...(I have a thing about church bells)
I couldn't resist...I had to ring it! Numerous times...lol
It sounded really good too!

So on to the vineyards and lots of wine tasting! After all that's what this weekend was all about.
 I've attached a map so you can see just how many wineries and vineyard are available in quite a small area.

 As you drive through the sweeping vineyards and rolling hills of the Yarra Valley you can't help but be impressed and diversions call to you from the usual wine tour route. You can discover the hidden secrets and pure delight of the smaller wineries. 
Family owned and run, these unassuming wineries offer a very different experience and it's not uncommon for the smile who greets you at the door to be that of the winemaker or vigneron whose creation you are about to savour. It really adds to the whole experience.
 Over recent years the popularity and reputation of the Yarra Valley has grown. Determined not to be overshadowed, a group of smaller wineries banded together to create the Yarra Valley Smaller Wineries Association...a group whose combined range extends to a number of different styles from the handcrafted Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet and Shiraz for which the Yarra Valley is celebrated, to other styles such as Sparkling, Rose and Fortified wines.

I mean look at the views...and to think it's all so near to Melbourne. 
We actually went on a guided wine tasting tour because let's face it...wine tasting!
Yes please....but that doesn't mix with driving obviously.
So it's such a great idea to have the driving done for you because lets face it, it would have just got ugly to have to work out who was to be the designated driver!

We don't usually do organised tours...more wanting to do our own thing...to our own timetable, but I have to say the tour we took was exceptional and considering we are not the type of wine tasters who spit out samples...(I mean what's that about?)...being chauffeured from vineyard to vineyard worked brilliantly.

Here's our tour guide..The lovely 'Elaine' from Wild Wombat Winery Tours who really did organise our day perfectly. Upon collecting us after breakfast from our room, she checked with everyone on the tour just what they expected or wanted out of their tour and then she delivered....so that everyone got the most out of the day. We even were presented with a little gift at the end of the day.

Let me just state here and now that we all behaved impeccably and there were no mishaps or embarrasing episodes throughout the whole proceedings!
Okay...glad that's clear.
 Our first port of call was to the Allinda Winery which was a lovely little place with fantastic views. Well I suppose all of the vineyards have brilliant views because most are set on a hillside and spread over acres of land. It was really quaint and the rustic cellar door was constructed of recycled 1883 wool store timbers. 
This chap below...whoops forgot his name...I hope he will forgive me...was so knowledgeable and his enthusiasm was infections.
Oh by the way, if you're wondering if we actually bought any wine then my answer would be...is the pope a catholic?....Do bears..in the woods?....you get my drift...of course we bought samples...it would be rude not to wouldn't it?

Next stop was to Graeme Miller.
Graeme Miller is a pioneer of the rebirth of the region and a Jimmy Watson trophy winner. 
(FYI...The Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy is the most prestigious and sought after wine award in Australia. The trophy is a memorial to the late Jimmy Watson (died 1962), who established the iconic Jimmy Watson's Wine Bar in Lygon Street, Carlton, a suburb of Melbourne. The trophy is awarded annually at the Royal Melbourne Wine Show to the producer of the best one or two year old, dry, red wine).

This winery was fantastic to actually see the process in operation. I'd only just remarked that it's such a shame that you don't get to see how it all works when visiting the cellar doors...they normally just have a sampling bar set away from where the action takes place. I like to see how it all comes about I have to admit.

Don't you just love those huge barrels...well I do anyway! Someone on our tour actually bought an empty one and arranged to collect it the next day to take home for an al fresco bar table. Cool!

And here's the expert...answering all our questions. Mr Graeme Miller himself!
Winemaker & Viticulturist Graeme Miller is one of the pioneers of the 1960s/70s rebirth of the Yarra Valley as a wine region. In 1971 he established Chateau Yarrinya at Dixons Creek, which he sold to the De Bortoli family in 1987. He began planting  Dixons Creek Estate in 1988, a kilometre from his original site. Winner of the 1978 Jimmy Watson trophy, Graeme made a return to winemaking at Dixons Creek Estate because of his belief in regional difference and the Yarra Valley as an excellent wine producing area.
Graeme built the winery on the new site and finally opened cellar door there in 2005. He is working to produce long lived wines, not dominated by alcohol, and which reflect the subtle depth and complexity that the Yarra Valley , as a cool climate region, can produce.
Note the aboriginal artwork behind. We've actually got a similar painting in our store room. It's never actually been hung on our wall because my hubby chose it himself (first mistake) and it was bush tucker...which basically depicts grubs! (second mistake)
Now don't get me wrong I love aboriginal artwork and in fact sometimes I think my ink drawings have a slight resemblance especially with all of those dots...but our painting is mainly brown and has grubs all over it! 
Not my cup of tea I'm afraid, but I did tell my hubby not to buy but he just went away and did it anyway (third mistake)...so it'll stay where it is for now.
Sorry I digress...

So back to the wine tasting...

...or should I say a quick tasting this time...in order to make our choice of wine to accompany our gourmet lunch at Mandala Wines.

 (Photo courtesy of Manadal wines...I must have been too busy eating and drinking because I now realise I never took a photo)

Mandala is one of the newer cellar doors and the Yarra Valley.
They are a two family-owned vineyard.
The 20-year old vines at Dixon's Creek contrast with the cooler higher-altitude vineyards at Yarra Junction, which is exclusively planted to pinot noir.
We enjoyed a sumptuous lunch in the restaurant that has 180 degree views through the glass walled spaces before moving on to our next venue.

Now don't laugh but I can't remember the name of the next winery!
It's true and I feel so bad about that. I've searched extensively and can't find it!
I'll try to find out and come back to add it in...I know this was our fourth stop, but even so I should have noted the name at least.
Ahh ha....see as promised I have returned with the name of the winery...
thanks to Yvette from Wild Wombat tours...yet again saving the day!
It's Yering Station of course!
Set in the historical winery building (circa 1859), the Cellar Door encapsulates the synergy between wine, food, knowledge and sensory experience.
The Tasting Bar allows you to experience wines with the support and skill of knowledgeable and passionate young team. Yering Station produces fifteen styles of wine under six distinctive wine labels.

This was to a larger commercial organisation with lots of products on sale other than wine. They had a gallery for displaying artwork too...as well as a huge range of shop products from soap to seeds with everything including chocolate and coffee in-between!
Maybe that's why I never actually took in the name...I was too busy tasting and making sure I didn't miss anything. 

As you can see it is a very popular way to spend the day...and who would believe that there are so many experts about ;D
This huge space used to house the barrels back in the day and the cellar is below which is no longer used unfortunately due to flooding.

Note: I didn't see one person on the whole weekend trip spit into the receptacles provided...I'm just saying!

I loved this display and no they are not all of our empties!
I wish the label was on show and then I could have seen the name. 

After seeing all of the lovely chocolate products on offer here...
and I have to confess I have to have a good portion of chocolate when drinking red wine 
(I have no idea why I just do...any excuse but then I know I have a problem...okay I'm a chocoholic!) 
Anyway 'Elaine' heard the females' plea for chocolate and commented that there just happened to be a Chocolaterie nearby!!!! 
She then made a very quick detour realising that our need for a chocolate fix was a serious issue! 
Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery here we come...I could have died and gone to heaven...

I love these peek through window places that show the whole process and I could watch for hours...but the bus was on a schedule and this stop wasn't on it...so with record speed I whipped thorough the whole building, filling my basket like a champion supermarket sweeper
(does anyone other than me remember that TV programme or have I just really confused everyone?)
I'm not sure I'd want to kiss this chocolate frog...but I'd certainly eat him!

Imagine finding this on your Easter egg hunt...how fantastic would that be?

And guess what? There's free samples just sitting there for everyone to try....okay I was spotted at this particular counter three times, but in my defence I wasn't as bad as the woman who poured the buttons into her pockets!!! I KID YOU NOT! Now she had a problem!
(she wasn't on our tour by the way)

Oh would you believe it...now I want some chocolate! 
Once again I need to clarify I did purchase and not just devoured the free samples.
Our last stop was at the Yarrawood Winery (phew...I remember the name) which is perched on the crest of a hill overlooking the picturesque vineyard and the Yarra Valley below.

We bought a beautiful bottle of Tall Tales Botrytis Riesling.
I could write all the attributes written on the back of the label but suffice to say...I liked it!
And so finally feeling my tastebuds were shot we headed back to our accommodation....for a well earned rest.
Okay...a good snooze! But we had worked so hard surely we deserved it!

Here's the keeper of the vineyard...keeping a close eye on everything.
And so the day came to a close...but not before putting on a stunning display.

I hope you enjoyed your trip to the Yarra Valley...
I'm still working my way through all of my photographs from our South Island trip to New Zealand but hope to post them soon.
In the meantime, have a great week...maybe even participating in a little drop of red or wine along the way.
Chat again soon https://secure.quebles.com/content/hotmail/emoticons/1508618.gif

Creative Memories.....

Wow, so that was the weekend then? Where did it go? Well I know...but it sure moves fast.
Its incredible that those two days can zip by quicker than the whole week put together.

On Saturday it was an exceptionally wet day and so I was pleased that I'd arranged to go with a friend to a creative memories workshop.

It turned out to be a little more than a workshop ~  more like a Christmas party really, with lots of like minded arty ladies all together to enjoy a few hours being creative.
I hadn't met anyone before {other than my friend of course} but all the girls made me feel so welcome, especially the organiser Diane.

The tables were set out full of paper, photographs, folders, files, stickers, cutters, and albums. Also a table full of raffle prizes too... whoohoo....although I wasn't lucky unfortunately with my tickets but then there were freebies.

We had a lovely lunch with drinks plus tea and coffee throughout the workshop, whenever anyone needed refreshments. That's always a winner in my book. You can't beat having a cuppa whenever there's a need and sometimes even when there's not.
Everyone was so busy working on their individual projects ~ which were all so varied and interesting to see.

I kept my poor little battered antique camera hidden in my bag especially when some of the girls produced their new cameras. But I did snap quickly these two shots to show what busy bee's we all were.

I worked on an old album that I'd made for my OH for our 25th Anniversary ~ "The Story so far....."
I did enclose an IOU at the time promising to finish it one day when I ran out of time before the anniversary date. Well, 25 years is a long time to document....that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.
I had so much encouragement and help to get me started again. Trust me I needed it but I completed another four pages by the time I came away. Yay!

You could say my album is vintage too...and also the designs I used. I had to keep it similar to the earlier work which I completed about 8 years ago. I couldn't use the modern trendy designs because they just wouldn't match the earlier work.
Creative memories have such beautiful products its really easy to be swept away. Its a good job that my daughter didn't come with me ~ she would have been hyperventilating.

There's also the modern way of creating using the digital method which quite a few of the girls were doing.

As I mentioned they were a very friendly and supportive group especially having a new recruit in the camp. I heard all about a recent trip they had taken for a creative crafting weekend. They stayed at a seaside town location called Rye. Its about 83km south of Melbourne on the Mornington Peninsula.
The peninsula is extremely popular for getaways for swimmers, fisherman, yacthsmen and kite surfers, walkers, beachcombers, and artists or just anyone wanting a change of scenery out of the city. Its so perfect for a quick getaway. Certainly an inspiring location for getting the artistic juices flowing.

It seems to have everything....from high flying to solitary walks.....
with beautiful scenery too

By all accounts the group had a very productive fun stay especially visiting the local spa....well when a group of girls get together its a must isn't it? What better way to spend a few hours.
Here's a link of the house that the girls stayed in which by the feedback certainly ticked all their boxes.

Enjoy your Monday because before you know it ~ it'll be next Monday! ; D