Been back for a couple of weeks now. Just love Australia. Had a drive to Armidale and Glen Innes and have to share some pictures of our beautiful countryside.

on Thunderbolt's Way


Deer in Armidale


Wonderful artwork by my friend Greville Wilton at the Maitland Art Gallery
and by his muse, Tanya Robertson Cuninghame


Near Morpeth





Along Bucketts Way



A little touched up, but that is how it looked through my slightly red tinted sunnies.


Trying out my new wide angle lens on the iphone.


Glen Innes


Standing Stones at Glen Innes



New England Highway leaving Glen Innes


New England Highway in the morning


Why leave home when you have it all?

I am planning to learn how to do wrap around text for my next post.



Istanbul! What an incredible place. Really buzzing in the here and now, with such an interesting history.

At the Topkapi Palace, just inside the gates to the Sultan's harem. Don is checking out the mounting block where the sultan used to get astride or demount from his horse.

The many eunuchs who guarded the harem were powerful people who managed the life of the palace. They were chosen from young Ethiopian lads and trained for their work.


One of the sumptuous rooms of the harem.

This is the controversial Taksim Square. Rioting back in June of this year almost made us change our minds about coming to Istanbul but it is quiet and peaceful here now. It seems that everyone has a theory about the riots and who put the protestors up to it. There is a bit of greenery here but it could do with a bit of a tidy up, not really a park to take the kids to. We didn't see any protestors but one night going home through the square we saw a very big police presence there, about a dozen buses had emptied themselves of 'polis' with rifles, who were hanging about looking bored,

We saw a lot of these shoe shine stands. This one was in pristine condition in the Carlton Ritz Hotel lobby. A lot of Turkish men have nice shiny leather shoes on their feet.

A little fun fair attraction all by itself in a little park.


We went for a ferry cruise on the Bosphorus on our first afternoon in Istanbul. Unfortunately it was a blustery day but I did get this nice “fingers of God” shot.


It was dark by the time the ferry got back in and the mosques were lit up. We are very used to the sound of the recorded call to prayer that goes out 5 times daily from the top of minarets all over Istanbul, and before that, wherever we were in Morocco.

Great street art!

You really can't imagine the run down condition of some parts of town. There is a huge new building project in Beyoglu near Taksim Square and a lot of houses there are vacant and derelict. These two were next door to our apartment.

As you can see our apartment block has been beautifully done up. The owner is a lovely lady who is very optimistic about the neighbourhood's prospects. She told us to come back in only 2 or 3 years from now to see how lovely it all will be.

Don was often addressed as Ali Baba in Morocco and Turkey because of his beard.

The Istanbul Modern Art Museum is right on the edge of the Bosphorus and has a great collection.

The Hagia Sophia is no longer a mosque but a museum. It was a mosque for 500 years and before that it was a Christian Church for 900 years.

Looking out from a rooftop restaurant in the Sultanahmet area we could see the old jail, which is now The Four Seasons Hotel. Very nice! We went in for afternoon tea.

I can't believe it! I took a photo of the Blue Mosque that looks just like the picture postcards they sell here.

Home to our apartment once more. The view from the kitchen window.

Stray cats everywhere. We saw a lot of people taking time out to feed them. These cats have their own bowls and a big ball of wool to play with. Kitty kindy!

This mosaic picture is inside the Hagia Sophia. When the Moslems took over the church they had to cover all the faces in the pictures. They did not deface the pictures but covered them with plaster which they painted over with designs. Now that it is a museum restoration work iis uncovering these beautiful gold mosaic pictures. This one is particularly interesting as it depicts the emperor bowing to Christ. Turkey had been a Christian stronghold or hideout in the days of Roman persecution.

Below: Believe it or not this is the belly button of the world! Rather lovely in its simplicity.

There were some beautiful photos of some of the restored parts of the museum. I am posing in front of one.

The bejewelled dagger, available in the gift shop. We saw the real thing in the Topkapi Palace. Made famous in the movie Topkapi.

Other things available in the gift shop.

Continuing the lion theme of my blog. This one is being admired by his little relative, who is survivng better than him in the modern world.

The Grand Bazaar really was amazing. If I hadn't been sick on my last day I would have gone back and bought a carpet bag (really made of carpet) and filled it up with goodies to bring home.

I really regret not buying a pair of these boots.

And so we make our travel weary way home. Check the next blog to see how my garden has been doing while I've been away.



I took so many photos here. The landscape is huge and extraordinary. Geologically and historically it is an incredible place. Mostly made of tufa, volcanic sediment which is quite soft. There is a similarity to the Grand Canyon but that is sandstone, which is harder. Going back thousands of years people have dug into the cone shaped protuberances to make cave houses. Higher in the cliffs they have cut out pigeon holes for the pigeons to nest in. Whereas in Morocco pigeon poo was valuable for softening leather, here it is used for many things but the eggs were most valuable, for binding building materials and for mixing with natural rock colours for painting.

It looks as though roofs have been put onto these dwellings but it is a natural rock formation. The mostly basalt that was laid on top of the tufa has weathered more slowly to give this roof top appearance.

We were able to clamber about on many of the cave formations.

This is a good example of the fresco paintings that were done in the many churches that were built into the caves and underground. A layer of plaster covers the rock for painting, rather than painting directly onto the rock walls.

Walking along beside a river bed, these cliffs rose all around us, and all full of little cave houses.

There were restaurants actually in the river!

You can see the pigeon holes in this rock.




This was from inside a church. The caves were used by Christians we were told in the days of Roman persecution. Also the underground cities. We went down into one. It was big enough to take a couple of thousand people but then by some accounts up to 30,000 people. There were tunnels between one city and another and there are 36 such cities. Whether most are closed, or whether only some have been excavated I couldn't find out. Whilst it is known that they were used by the Christians it seems that they were built before that. Used by the Hittites who lived here?


The evil eye is sold around here for good luck. Here is an evil eye tree. One Turk told me that I don't need it as I have blue eyes. Another told me that i am unlucky myself for having blue eyes.

The camels here are well equipped for the freezing desert nights.





I was busy snapping sunset photos in this weird and wonderful landscape when a couple came along to have photos taken for their wedding album. What a setting!

Don and I out on that rock.

We ended our day with dinner at Dibek, a very smart restaurant with a great wine collection. We sat on cushions with big rug bolsters behind us and our feet out under the table. It was very relaxing, and great Turkish wine!