TripADeal: 2 for 1 trip to China – a great deal?

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One small section of the Great Wall! Not many made it this far on a very hot day!

Have you ever wondered what those amazing internet travel deals are really like?

Are they merely the ‘Fawlty Towers‘ of travel or are they genuine value for money?

Well  a  few weeks ago, Kenn and I took the plunge and decided to put one to the test. We traveled to China for the first time on a 10 day tour with TripADeal. It seemed too good to be true! The basic tour price was $1999 for two people which included accommodation, breakfasts, tours and direct flights with Qantas and not an airline we had never heard of and which might drop us into the the South China Sea at any moment!  An extension to see the Terracotta Warriors which has always been on my bucket list  was also available for an additional $1000.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained as the saying goes, so Kenn and I contacted our wonderful niece, Amanda Sullivan at Dynamic Travel  who organised everything,  including our visas for us.  And just like that, together with my sister Jenny, her good friend Pauline and about 30 others, Kenn and I found ourselves flying off to the forbidden kingdom.

The  itinerary took us from Beijing down to Xian (to see the warriors) and across to Hangzhou, Suzhou and Shanghai and gave us a taste of some of the wonders of  Imperial China as well as some of the new China’s technological marvels while inviting us to appreciate some of China’s natural beauty and culture.

Beijing

We arrived in Beijing in the evening and were met by our super friendly and helpful guide Frank. Soon our luggage was stowed on our coach and we were on our way to the Schonbrunn Hotel which was a considerable distance from the city centre.

This was an older hotel and I was a little disappointed in our room which had a very smokey smell, something you don’t encounter in Australia. Frank told me later that I could have asked for a room change but at the time I didn’t want to be that ‘difficult person’.  In retrospect, I should have as we spent 3 nights here.

Nevertheless, the bed was reasonably comfortable, the linen nicely pressed and the hot water plentiful.   If space is something that you value when travelling then I would opt for a twin room as I noticed that the rooms Jenny and Pauline shared were much larger than our doubles. Breakfast was included and while western options were a little limited, it was more than satisfactory. Kenn and I enjoyed our morning omelette, resuming our tussle with toaster and exploring the  buffet each day.

Our first day in Beijing saw us visit a pearl factory,  explore Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City,  enjoy dinner in Beijing’s theatre precinct and marvel at  the special effects of a theatrical performance entitled, The Golden Mask Dynasty.

While the pearl factory was interesting, the visit to Tiananmen Square and the forbidden City was the highlight of the day. Despite it being school holidays, (which we didn’t know when we booked) and very hot (high 30s), the square is so huge that the crowds weren’t a problem and the communication headsets enabled us to enjoy Frank’s commentary.

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Jenny, Pauline and myself in Tiananmen  Square.  Behind us is Chairman’s Mao’s tomb.

The forbidden city too was vast. While the pavilions and the emperor’s throne room remain intact, most of the furnishings have been removed so it is difficult to gain a sense of how people lived here when the emperors ruled.

And it is very barren which surprised me. The city is built upon metres of paving bricks to prevent the possibility of underground attacks, surrounded by walls, guard towers and a moat, so there are no gardens. Consequently, the whole area radiates heat! There was however an icecream vendor with a delicious selection of gelati which was very welcome as was our air conditioned coach at the conclusion of our tour.

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Red and gold predominate as these were imperial colours and the decorative features were intricate.  Interestingly, the pavilions are wooden and built in such a way that they withstand earthquakes

This was followed by dinner and the theatrical performance, The Golden Mask Dynasty which was an optional tour but well worth it.

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This show was visually spectacular. They even unleashed a waterfall on stage!

The following day dawned hot and sunny but proved to be one of the highlights of the trip, the visit to the Great Wall.

On the way there, we visited a jade factory.

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Watching the artisans at work was a treat. So many variations of Jade, so many beautiful objects.

Then we drove through the countryside until we reached the Juyong Pass section of the Great Wall.

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The view is  spectacular with the wall  snaking across the hills

This part of the wall dates from the Ming dynasty and if we wanted to, we could climb to Watchtower number 4 from the headquarters below.

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Jenny on the ramparts of the garrison headquarters. Behind her is the first of four watchtowers that we were allowed to climb to.

All I can say is that the Ming soldiers had to be incredibly fit to fulfill their duties. The steps are incredibly steep and quite uneven. The Ming obviously hadn’t heard of  workplace health and safety regulations!

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This is the easiest section to climb!
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Once you reach the first watchtower, the path narrows and becomes even more uneven. Every little bit of shade was like manna from heaven. I’m sure that it exceeded 40 degrees on the wall itself! I only made it to the second guardhouse! The call of an iced tea and an ice cream consumed in air conditioned comfort was too tantalising too resist and I may have been just … just a tad knackered!

But Kenn was not so easily daunted and the final guardhouse and the most spectacular view was waiting for him.

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Imagine how hard this would be in ice and snow … not a job for the fainthearted.
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In the end, it didn’t matter how high or far you climbed, just taking a few steps on a monument so awe inspiring was magical.  And there were little surprises like the temple on the ridge line to savour.

That evening we joined an optional tour to see Bejing’s 700 year old Hutong area by pedicab as well as visiting the three lakes area of the city.

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The Hutong tour was great. We were treated to a performance by one of Bejing’s cricket men  (as in insects not the sport), enjoyed a meal prepared in a traditional way as well as travelling in style in a pedicab. The lake area was lovely and  popular with locals who were enjoying boat rides or just promenading  along the shore.

Our final day in Beijing was also full of fun and exciting experiences.  We visited the Bejing Zoo to see the giant pandas. And we learnt about traditional Chinese medicine at Tongrentang in the city centre, where we had the opportunity to be assessed by a traditional practitioner.  The talk was very persuasive, but I couldn’t get stories of wild animals being hunted to extinction to become products for Chinese medicine out of my mind so couldn’t make myself try some of their products. I was in the minority though! A fantastic lunch at one of Bejing’s best dumpling restaurants followed and then it was time to catch the very fast bullet train to Xian, a journey of about five hours.

Xian

A fabulous experience, the train proved to be very fast, smooth and comfortable even when reaching speeds of 300 kms an hour and it was a real pleasure to travel through such a vast swathe of the countryside.  But there was one little hiccup. We thought that the train would have a great dining car and planned to enjoy dining a la the Orient Express. But alas, the dining car was more like a truck stop with a very limited menu which sold out of food very quickly. Then we noticed that most of the Chinese passengers on board had packed their own obviously aware of the dining car’s limitations.  We wished that we had done the same.

Nevertheless, we arrived safely in Xian. Driving along lamplit, tree lined boulevards I  could have imagined that I was in Paris except for the Chinese signage. Our hotel, the Grand Nobel Hotel was lovely. We were sorry that we didn’t get to spend more time there, but on the following day the Terracotta warriors awaited.

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There was a chance to become a warrior!

And the chance to wallow in the marvels of one of the world’s great archaeological sites.

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The scale of the museum is mind boggling. Only the Chinese would have built a museum over an archaeological site. You can view the warriors in their ranks as they would originally have been placed there, see them in pieces still stuck in the mud and see them in various phases of restoration.
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Every face is unique. For a sum you can even have your own face put on a warrior and shipped home. Makes a change from your everyday buddha or garden gnome.
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The horses too were fascinating. The museum is set in beautiful grounds that would be spectacular in Spring or Autumn.

We also enjoyed a lunch featuring local dishes of Xian before heading to the airport for our evening flight to Hangzhou.

Hangzhou/ Suzhou

Our flight was very pleasant and a couple of hours later we landed in Hangzhou. Can you imagine our consternation when our guide, Thomas told us how happy he was to see us as we had flown directly into the path of a typhoon! However, despite some wet weather, we were soon comfortably settled in another very comfortable hotel.

The next morning saw us exploring a tea plantation for Hangzhou is considered the tea capital of China. It was stunningly beautiful.

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Confucius ushered us into the tea house
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The tea house is surrounded by beautiful gardens. Maybe that’s why the green tea tasted so amazing?
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Even the  goldfish seemed happy

From the tea plantation, we made our way to West Lake an UNESCO world heritage site and was easy to see why.

We walked to the lake through woods fringed by lotus ponds and tea pavilions

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Our cruise boat was charming
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while the lake vistas were stunning.

There were lots of choices for lunch and soon we were on our way to Suzhou.  It took about two hours by bus. Our hotel in Suzhou, the Snowy Sea Hotel was in my opinion the best we experienced on the tour.

The following day, we visited a silk factory and took a tour along one of the many canals in Suzhou.

But the highlight for me was the visit to the famous Lingering Garden, another UNESCO heritage site.

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The house is built around a series of ponds and views of the garden are gained from both within and outside the house

Needless to say I would have loved to have included many more photos but this post is already too long. What is interesting is that this garden is only one of many you can visit in Suzhou. Late that afternoon, we were on the bus again, this time for Shanghai, our last port of call on the tour.

Shanghai

Shanghai is a fabulous city. We enjoyed every moment of our time there. But there was one drawback. Our hotel was pleasant but situated a long way out of the city. This meant that if you wanted to immerse yourself in the city, you needed to take the optional tours as getting to and from the hotel under your own steam might have been a little difficult and expensive.

Consequently, we took the optional tour to see the acrobatic show ‘ERA’ and enjoy dinner in the centre of the city. This show was enjoyable but I really was expecting something better. And to make matters worse, our bus had been delayed by a couple of tardy passengers, something that I imagine happens quite often on tours. But it meant that the dinner I had been looking forward to had to be rushed. Half an hour is not sufficient to savour one’s food in an exotic, expensive restaurant!

The following morning, Kenn and I parted company with Jenny and Pauline and decided to take an optional tour to travel on the fastest train in the world: the Maglev train. I couldn’t believe my eyes when it reached  430kms an hour! It was thrilling. Then we rejoined the tour at the bund. This riverfront promenade is delightful and the heritage buildings built by the Europeans in the 19th century impressive.  Our trip back in time continued at the Shanghai museum. There were so many treasures to see. I loved the pottery including a variety of Tang horses as well as the beautiful Ming furniture in particular.

As for fabulous places to eat, our tour guide, Thomas took us to the French Quarter for lunch where Kenn and I stumbled on a very trendy warehouse eatery. Oh the dilemma of what to choose!

And then it was onto the Yu Garden, a haven of peace in a bustling metropolis.

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Back in the day, they had a thing for limestone creations.  And we noticed the Chinese have a thing for willow trees … not just a pretty china motif.

But the best was yet to come: the Night Cruise on the Huangpu River. If you do only one optional tour, this is the one to choose. The light show rivals that of Singapore and that’s saying something. These shots taken with my phone hopefully give you a taste of what you will see on the cruise.

And then we woke up and it was our last day.  We were free to explore on our own, but TripAdeal organised a fun day for us a very little extra cost. We visited a Buddhist temple,

and an outlet mall which was super fun among other things.

Then it was time to bid China farewell as we caught our night flight home.

Final Thoughts

This tour was good value for money. If I had my time over, I would choose to travel either in Spring or Autumn as August was way too hot and I’m used to heat! Of course the hotels in the two major cities of Beijing and Shanghai were the most basic of those offered on the tour but not unexpected given the price point of the tour. You are on the go all the time on this tour which was a good thing for us but some might like to travel at a gentler pace. The tour guides were really excellent and nothing seemed too much trouble.  Yes I did have a ‘fawlty towers’ moment in Beijing but overall I would have to say, TripADeal is a great deal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Condo Reunion: a blast from the past.

Not so long ago, while enjoying breakfast at the Surf Club in Ballina , Kenn and I finalised the route for a week long trip to the Central West of NSW.

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The cafe at the Surf Club is excellent, very reasonable and as you can see has a fabulous view.

We traveled from Byron Bay to Condobolin via Sydney, Leura, Orange, Cowra and Forbes to help celebrate 150 years of Public Education. While it was a very scenic trip (who doesn’t love the country in springtime),  spending time with family and friends who live over 1000 kms away from us, was the highlight. Catching up and reminiscing  about the good times we’ve  shared, the adventures we’ve  had, the things that have made us happy or sad was great. There was also a special bonus: Kenn was invited to launch his second novel, Snow Chains as part of the celebrations.

And so, a few days before the Long weekend, we set off. The Byron to Sydney leg was a little frustrating. Too much traffic and too many roadworks especially between Ballina and Coffs Harbour. Still, we reached Christian and Kelly’s home in Balgowlah Heights with enough time to play with our adorable grand daughters before bed-time and lend a hand the next morning.  Kelly and Christian were getting ready to take the girls on their first camping trip.  While we would have loved to be able to join them, Christian’s pic of Baby Francesca in their tent filled us in on the fun had by all.

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Just love the simple life: just give me my tent and my keys and I’m happy.

While Kelly and Christian headed off to the South Coast, we headed west to the Blue Mountains, stopping in Leura for lunch. The village was awash with blossoms and that almost spearminty green of new leaves on deciduous trees.

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There seemed to lots and lots of tourists trying to capture that perfect shot.
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The banks of Azaleas were lovely as well. Would have loved to have had the time to visit the Everglades. Maybe next time …

A lovely lunch and we were off to Orange where we caught up with my sister Maryanne. We really enjoyed taking her dogs for a walk through the outskirts of Orange but I will admit to some sisterly pangs of jealousy as I admired the lovely collection of spring bulbs in her garden. Tulips! Need I say more?

All too soon, it was time to head for Woodstock via Canowindra along the Cargo road. Travelling this road as the sun set was beautiful: enough clouds  for the sun to watercolour with shades of pink and mauve while the rolling green hills and vineyards seemed to stretch away forever on either side of the road. Magical!

The next day was full of surprises. Firstly, Jenny and I played 9 holes of golf at Cowra Golf Course. It was less of a game and more of a Jenny Dresser masterclass but such fun. Secondly, I ended up enjoying a long lunch with two of my oldest and dearest friends who just happened to be in Cowra that weekend! Serendipity indeed!

Time to head for Condo. We  stopped off briefly in Forbes to meet the latest addition to Kenn’s side of the family, gurgling, cuddly baby Ava before making our way along the South Forbes road to where Kenn’s great grandfather is buried overlooking the river.

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He was killed in a terrible horse accident in 1892
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James is recorded on the side of the grave marker

This little cemetery is very poignant because it’s also where the Fitzgerald children are buried. It reminds us of how difficult life was in those early pioneering days.

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Those poor parents!

Shaking off the past, we arrived at the Condobolin Library to prepare for the book launch.

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The town looks lovely with all the landscaping! 

The Librarian, Theresa and her team had ensured a great afternoon.  So many familiar faces showered us with  country warmth that we were quite overwhelmed and very touched. Some had already read his first novel, Sugarcane Lane and endorsed the general consensus that it’s a very enjoyable read. It was very affirming for Kenn to hear how enthusiastically they were looking forward to Snow Chains and Castles Perilous.

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All the reviews have been great! So proud of Kenn.
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All proved to be very popular. Thanks Condo for all the love and support.

A lively discussion about writing and publishing ensued followed by a delicious afternoon tea. Nothing beats home made scones, jam and cream! I might have had two …or three…  Alas, Kenn was so popular that he missed out on his favourite treat!  I’ve included a snippet from  the Library’s facebook page, which sums up the event.

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Thank you so much Theresa and Bonnie. This wouldn’t have happened without you.

Book launch finished it was time to put on our dancing shoes. We were attending a dinner to celebrate 50 years since the opening of the High School in Condobolin. Again it was wonderful to reconnect with former colleagues and students. Then the music started.  As soon as I heard Steve Still’s ‘Love the one you’re with’, I was back in the past. A first year out teacher dancing the night away at the Golfie.

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And Kenn was in his element singing along with the band!

The organising committee did an amazing job of the whole weekend. We attended the breakfast at the High School the following morning and it was delicious. I wanted to explore the school where I taught for so many years and which my children attended. It was fun to search through the photos in the various historical displays for our children and their friends. They haven’t changed much! The school has grown since I left, a new wing has been added as well as the largest cola I’ve seen. Some respite from the heat for kids in the playground at last. There’s more landscaping and there’s even a learner car!    It’s evident that kids  get a quality education here. There’s much to be said for a country upbringing and education.

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Looking towards the library in the top quad
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My classroom used to be on the right hand side.

Later on, we visited Eryn and Simon Carey’s place on Melrose Hill. They have established a beautiful, very unique garden featuring a breathtaking view of the western plains, so  immortalised by Banjo Paterson in ‘Clancy of the Overflow’. Like Clancy, we saw ‘ the vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended’ and could readily imagine ‘at night the wond’rous glory of the everlasting stars.’

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This garden features fascinating art sculptures and whimsical retro features like a vintage bathtub and caravan
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How fitting is this for an Outback garden?  Eryn is an accomplished artist who paints and exhibits as Eryn Mullins.  Well worth checking out. 
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Fell in love with the lions. 

Even though, the garden features natives like ironbark and black wattle, there is a beautiful pond area, a little reminiscent of an English garden.

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the goldfish are flourishing
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Lovely formal entrance to the main part of the garden

There are fascinating rock walls and even a boules court.

 

 

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Such a lot of work

Closer to the house, there is a delightful courtyard area which is full of detail and Eryn’s artistic flair.

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So much to enjoy! 
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There was something about the chook that I loved!

 

We could have lingered for ages. All too soon, it was time for the long trek home. Looking forward to returning!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Garden

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I love how Google Photos randomly chooses a pic to enhance. Which version do you prefer? 

‘Mum, you’ll love the camera! It even has a beauty tool!’

‘ A beauty tool?’

‘It makes your selfies look great!’

I’ve never taken a selfie, but now that I have a beauty tool at my disposal, you never know … maybe I’ll be able to master the knack … It’s a temptation, isn’t it – a new and improved you for all the world to see!  Maybe when it’s not so hot and sticky and I feel inclined to use a hair dryer … and put some make-up on … and wear something not resembling a tent! To put the phone’s camera to the test however, I decided to experiment on the garden instead. Before it wilts  horribly under the onslaught of the heatwave affecting most of Eastern Australia.

Up till now, the garden has survived the summer really well. It’s rained at just the right time so everything has grown madly as usual. Late spring saw the front yard come alive when the flame tree and white Jacaranda flowered. But these soon gave way to a beautiful leafy canopy, wafting around in the afternoon sea breeze.

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What a change!

For the first time, our hydrangeas looked lovely. Even though it rains a lot in Byron Bay, where we live is very sandy. No amount of soil improvement has been enough to sustain hydrangeas in open garden beds, so last autumn,  I transferred all of them to self watering pots, gave them a specialised fertilizer and they have bloomed all summer, in shades of blue, pink and white.

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The white one has been my favourite but they’re all pretty, I think.

The creepers and the butterfly bush have flowered all summer too and are still punching out flowers giving us something to admire as we have our morning  tea on the back patio.

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Unlike some butterfly bushes, this is a prolific orange variety
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Deep red, pink and while mandevilias  just flower and flower

And for the first time, the varieagated ginger flowered. Together with the bromeliads, they have brightened up the under story of the Frangipani tree.

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How amazing is that flower! Hope I have the name right… the plant was a gift from a friend so hopefully I’ve remembered correctly

Everywhere I look, plants need pruning but they will have to wait until its cooler. Meanwhile, we just have to duck our heads as we wander around.

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The veggie garden is looking a bit sad. The tomatoes are nearly finished, the rhuburb has turned up its toes and died as has the greek basil and our espaliered lemon tree. On a positive note, the passionfruit are ripening nicely and the herbs are hanging on.

The summer garden continues to surprise us. We spotted the pink and red frangipani  just beginning to flower, yesterday. It’s very late but I planted them in a very shady spot when they prefer full sun.

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from little cuttings, big things grow

 So I’ve experimented! Still lots to learn including the beauty and panorama features but my phone has given me a snapshot of the summer garden with. the tap of a finger. Ah technology, you’ve got to love it! I hope your garden is surviving as well.

Carting it up at Cowra Golf Club

 

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While Golf presents many challenges to the newcomer, it opens up many new ‘fun’ experiences. Last week, I crossed the Blue Mountains and tackled a ‘real’ country course, playing  a social game with my sister, Jenny on her home course in Cowra.

To make the most of the short time available to us, Jenny suggested that ‘carting’  was the only way to go. This was a first for me but I soon learnt that golf carts can add another dimension to your enjoyment of the game and as a bonus, mastered the basics of  ‘golf buggy driving for dummies’.  On a lovely Spring morning,  I  found myself a passenger, with Jenny in Formula I mode, zipping here and there, up and down in this little red rocket.

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Prepared for any  eventuality

All I had to do was sit tight and enjoy the view until …  our balls landed on opposite sides of the fairway. Jenny  parked, grabbed a wood and hopped across the fairway where she  hit an imposing second shot. It soared and soared some more.  Meanwhile, I managed to dribble my  ball  a reasonable distance down the fairway. Not a bad outcome, I thought.

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Yay! No trees for me on this hole!

But then Jenny asked me to drive the cart over and pick her up. “But I can’t drive a cart” I replied.

‘It’s easy, all you do is put your foot down.”  Gingerly, I pressed my foot on the pedal (motorised vehicles and I, have not had a mutually rewarding relationship) and the cart inched its way across the fairway. The red rocket had become a red slug! “Harder” yelled Jenny. I pressed harder and the cart responded. It likes me, I thought as we zoomed over to Jenny. I could get used to this mode of transport, especially on hot, humid summer days!

It was so enjoyable playing with someone who knows the course well. When the greens are fast and the bunkers are lurking,  such knowledge is invaluable.

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Loved that there was no water to negotiate, only the odd bunker or two or three.

 Alas, they haven’t invented a personal golfing drone which can fly around you, assess your game and make suggestions for improvement as you are playing, but I think my sister,  Jenny is the next best thing.  For  weeks, I had been having trouble with teeing off and hitting on the fairway and I didn’t know what was wrong.  In practice, all seemed well, but as soon as I was on the course … disaster! What Jenny picked up was that I had taken some of the coaching tips too literally. I practiced my chipping, being mindful to put my weight on the front foot. Then, when I was instructed to tee off the front foot, I thought that meant that my weight had to be on the front foot when I did that too. I didn’t realise that I was trying to hit balls like a one legged stork!  Once I was playing on an even keel, everything was better. I was even able to hit out of the rough in front of Jenny’s friends, Robert and Warwick. Even though I felt like a murderer, beheading innocent daisies in the process.

Golf finished and some bargains found at the Pro shop, where the new golf Pro, Nathan Stubbs was having a sale, it was time to return home for a leisurely lunch.

Spring has sprung at Cowra and Jenny’s garden was bursting with colour.

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The first roses are out as is the wisteria.
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The may bushes and daisies overlook Cowra in the distance

I loved looking out through the rose arbour, over the paddocks and seeing them dotted with sheep and lambs.

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I know they’re small, but the lambs are there!

And of course I had to say hello to Marjorie, Jenny’s pet lamb who is now a very large sheep. It was time for her annual haircut and it was funny to see how her friends in the paddock didn’t recognise her after Paul had  shorn her!

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This is Marjorie looking sheepish and trying to hide in the grass now her fleece has gone.

All too soon, our visit to Cowra came to an end but I’m looking forward to my next visit when perhaps I’ll tackle the whole 18 holes. Country golf courses are so worth exploring!

Autumn Garden Surprises

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After a big pruning session, rediscovered this fern going gangbusters at the back of the garden. 

My garden had morphed into a jungle.  It’s been a long, hot and sometimes very wet summer in Byron Bay and everything in the garden has followed the example of  Jack’s beanstalk: growing…growing…and growing some more. It was a situation made worse by high humidity. As you may have gathered from previous posts,  Kenn and I could best be described as  enthusiastic rather than erudite gardeners. Unfortunately, our enthusiasm wilted like spinach in a stirfry as the humidity climbed,  ensuring  that efforts in the garden  were confined to the occasional lawn mowing effort to provide a line of sight for spotting visiting snakes and assorted reptiles.

But Autumn has arrived. The nights are cooler and the humidity has dropped. Kenn, armed with his pruning shears has attacked the  overgrown shrubbery with a zeal reminiscent of the Texas chainsaw massacre. When he reduced the pink hibiscus by two thirds, we saw that the red frangipani cutting that we had been given two years ago  was flowering  and that the baby stag horn fern was a baby no longer.

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What a gorgeous shade of red! Worth waiting for. 
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Kenn has a new nickname: the fern whisperer!

The veggie garden was full of weeds that were fence high and a large blue tongued lizard had decided to call this patch, home. Kenn took pity on me, weeding and relocating ‘Bluey’. ( I just don’t seem to have a rapport with anything scaly.) Soon, herbs, snow peas, an espaliered lime tree and silverbeet were able to see the sun, always a good thing for plants! We could see that the passionfruit vine had fruit and lots of flowers.

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Just a little riper please.
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I’ve since added some bok choy and some Greek basil. 

As we mowed, trimmed and weeded, we noticed little spots of colour in the garden. To my surprise, the white Jacaranda was spot flowering.

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The flowers leave a white carpet on the front lawn

Bird of Paradise made a statement in the front garden, the  Tahitian hibiscus finally had a flower and the pink mandevilla trailing over the side garden arch revealed that it was  indeed, a flowering plant.

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Such a cool flower.
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Every flower is a bonus!
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It’s only been two years since planting!

But tragedy also hit. We had a lovely  standard daisy bush that didn’t survive the heat and our absences over the summer. A new azalea, chosen from the great range at our local nursery, Eden at Byron,  now takes its place.

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Here’s hoping that I don’t kill this one too!

So the garden is somewhat tamed … for a while. Have you, like us been busy in the garden?