Singapore – The Gorgeous Green City – Where the happiest people in Asia live!

trees keep the whole place healthy and balanced

Singapore – The Gorgeous Green City – Where the happiest people in Asia live!Singapore - Raffles fountain

I’ve always wanted to visit Singapore to see the iconic locations for myself.

Singapore - Raffles

It’s a total joy, everywhere you look is greenery alongside stunning modern architecture.



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Doha, Qatar – Through My Eyes

Next time you have a stop over, make it a few days and explore this jewel in the Middle East.

Doha, Qatar – Through My Eyes

It’s a city packed with surprise architecture…

Here are just a few of my favourite images of this beautiful, bustling, breath-taking city.

Doha, Qatar is a joy and a real hidden treasure and it hosts one of my favourite museums.

The souq ranks as one of the best in the world.

Next time you have a stop over, make it a few days and make the most of this jewel in the Middle East.

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I am no bird…

‘I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will.’

Charlotte Bronte

i-am-no-bird-and-no-net-ensnares-me-i-am-a-free-human-being-with-an-independent-will-charlotte-bronte

 

Inspirational Quote

‘I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will.’

Charlotte Bronte

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5 Reasons You Should Visit Christchurch, New Zealand, Aotearoa

People who had been said there wasn’t much to see. I think they went to the wrong place, because I found it inspirational.

5 Reasons You Should Visit Christchurch, New Zealand, Aotearoa5 Reasons You Should Visit Christchurch, New Zealand, Aotearoa

Christchurch, New Zealand wasn’t particularly high up on the priority list for this trip. People who had been said there wasn’t much to see. I think they went to the wrong place, because I found Christchurch truly inspirational. 

1. It is rebuilding and needs tourists to bring in much needed income

Throughout its history it has suffered earthquakes, and just within the past 5 years suffered a big one, and aftershocks. People died. Enquiries into building construction still continue, however all that is for another time, I’d rather post an optimistic tale of resurrection and rebuilding of a community.

185 Empty White ChairsChristchurch needs visitors, if you do get there ensure you fit in a hour or so to visit the small earthquake museum, and the 185 empty chairs both very moving tributes to those lost.

2. Its history and small ‘English town’ atmosphere

They have gorgeous old street trams with informative and witty drivers who will give you a really informative dialogue as you travel around the sights of the small city. The mountains in the distance solid and sure, reassuring in some sense.

Christchurch river A river with small punts being manoeuvred thorough the winding waters, reminiscent of Oxford and Cambridge in England. It is a very ‘English’ city.


3. Churches and Cathedrals

Cardboard CathedralFor those who love churches (It is Christchurch after all) you will see the only cardboard cathedral in the world (I think) Even for those not religious you can’t question the beauty, ingenuity and fighting spirit of the people who had this inspired plan.

The half destroyed cathedral stands nearby, still awaiting politicians and committees to decide its fate. A sobering sight.

4. Street Art

Christchurch street art

The street art is stunning, bright, amusing, optimistic and everywhere. It adorns wrecked high-rises and new builder’s hoardings.

Christchurch street art and sheepThe city encourage artists and it has helped paint (Excuse the pun) the city in a new optimistic light. Note the amusing sheep shaped bollards.

Iconic 'Face' street art, Christchurch

The use of the humble metal shipping container comes into its own at ‘restart’ as well as around the city to protect old architecture etc. Just one request there ‘restart’ it would have been nice to be able to get a coffee after 4pm, even if it was a quiet day.

5. For inspiration

Everywhere you look there is evidence of destruction, it must be a daily reminder, as if they need one, to those who lie and work there. It brings home just how powerful our planet is when it chooses to fight back. It is also showed the resilience and determination of the people to live in a place so in touch with nature and its forces. Most people still live where they used to, maybe with defiance. Many seem to accept the risk and remember those who have gone with affection and accepting sadness. I hope the powers that be soon move forwards with further rebuilding / demolition etc.

I personally hope they will build anew, not look back and try to replicate things that are gone. Some iconic frontages may need saving however that can be done in sympathy with new design, not always in its original form. Enhance the old, embrace the new.

Yet again, I found a small plaque of inspiration beneath my feet. “All animals, except man, know that the principle business of life is to enjoy it”  The Way of All Flesh, Samuel Butler 1835 – 1902

Christie Adams feet on quote plaque at Christchurch

Thanks Christchurch I wish you well.

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5 Reasons to Travel on the Tranzalpine Railroad, Aotearoa, New Zealand – Christchurch to Greymouth

If you live at the top of a mountain, where it rains, a lot, I guess you need a sense of humour.

Tranzalpine Railroad, Aotearoa, New Zealand Christchurch to Greymouth5 Reasons to Travel on the Tranzalpine Railroad, Aotearoa, New Zealand – Christchurch to Greymouth

1. The Tranzalpine train link between Christchurch and Greymouth, Aotearoa, New Zealand, is one of the world’s most iconic rail journeys

I know why. It’s a cliche but the scenic route is truly visually stunning. It is hard to capture the number of oohs, aaahs and wows that you hear. Both your own and fellow traveller’s as you watch the highs and lows of the terrain through the huge picture windows. The train has an plug in audio commentary for travellers to learn as they go along, I’d recommend tuning in to it. Embrace your inner tourist and listen to the experts, you really should learn something about the area.

2. You can relax and look at the amazing scenery without distraction

The route goes up to the infamous Arthur’s Pass high in the mountains. A windy place occupied by a tiny community. Some people go there for a day or three, no doubt to go hiking or mountaineering. I salute you. The terrain didn’t look hospitable, even on a sunny day. It is hard to imagine how bleak it would have been for ‘Arthur’ and any other pioneers. As we learnt on the train commentary the original terrain would have been basically dry grasses, most of the greenery we now see has been imported over the decades / centuries. Bleak indeed.

Land of the long white cloudThe ‘land of the long white cloud’ is illustrated quite clearly, although the weather change dramatically through the day and from one side of a very long tunnel and the other.  The palm trees in such a desolate place was a surprise, especially when I’m told my garden in Sunny Donny isn’t warm enough for one.



3. The train has an open sided carriage to allow for clear photography

The very breezy and chilly open cabin is fantastic. Take your coat it is more than a bit nippy! Put your camera around your neck or on a wrist strap. You let go of it up here you sure as heck ain’t going to get it back! Don’t stick your head or hands out in a tragic selfie fashion either as unexpected bridges and tunnels pop up unannounced. Tranzalpine viewsI laughed at the thought of having something similar in a fairly mild UK climate, maybe across the Pennines. Our UK system is so totally dominated by Health & Safety it wouldn’t get past the drawing board. Well done to the brave souls allowing a truly immersive travelling experience in the open air.

I chatted with one guy who lives nearby and travels regularly in the open carriage just to get back in touch with his local area and its beauty. What a great idea. How often do you do that where you live?

4. It’s an education

Braided River in New Zealand

Do you know what a braided river is? No, me neither until I discovered it’s one ‘braided’ by the debris and gravel brought down by the waters from the hills. They are dramatic, beautiful and a little intimidating. I can imagine the powerful waters just rushing down one day, taking everything in its path on its torrential journey.

If you live at the top of a mountain, where it rains, a lot, I guess you need a sense of humour. I hadn’t expected to see such imaginative art in a garden at the rail track, so who ever you are – WELL DONE!

Corrugated Iron ArtworkCorrugated metal art in a ‘thing’ in Aotearoa (NZ), no idea why but you see it in the most unexpected places. It’s a personal choice I guess but local art adds character so is always a bonus.

5. It gets you from A to B, what more do you need

Oh yes, and the day I travelled was the day I discovered a strange jelly type sweet (I’m reserving judgment on that one, excuse the almost cannibalistic joining of the two dissected bodies) and Peanut slab! Peanut Slab & CoffeeDEEP JOY!!! Anyone travelling in Aotearoa you HAVE to try it (peanut allergy excepted of course)

You may also like:

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Why are the Blue Mountains blue?

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Kaikoura, Aotearoa, New Zealand – Where I Saw My Very Own Blue Whale!

Kaikoura isn’t just about whales though, the land dwelling locals have a fun sense of humour with street artwork…

Kaikoura, Aotearoa, New ZealandWhere I Saw My Very Own Blue Whale!Kaikoura, Aotearoa, New Zealand – Where I Saw My Very Own Blue Whale!

If you follow me on Facebook, you may have already seen a couple of photos taken on the beach at Kaikoura, the venue for my very first ever ever helicopter ride. Mountains, sea, whale, dolphins all from a clear blue sky.

Christie Adams on Kaikoura Beach

A Maze Ing!!! Kaikoura isn’t just about whales though, the land dwelling locals have a fun sense of humour with street artwork…

Toilet Humour

And seagulls I’m not familiar with, any one know why this one is ‘cuffed’? Love his red eye lid to match the feet and bill!

Red eyed bird

Like my little shell collection?

Years ago I started collecting a shell or pebble from places I’ve visited. Some as gifts, especially heart shaped. Others to join a huge jar full at home. Memories in a jar, each one unique and tactile. It’s only one tiny pebble and only ever taken from places that aren’t too delicate or protected. Think municipal beach not wildlife preserve. All these shells are still where I placed them, near a deserted run down beach house if you want to go looking. I wonder if anyone else has added to my artwork.

 

Pebbles

We noticed there weren’t many places to eat in Kaikoura, maybe because we were a little early in the season. It didn’t matter as we were in our hired camper van which served us well, bless her.

My most awesome memory, ever.

How privileged were we to see this, an adolescent Blue Whale? Don’t worry about the whale watching boat, they followed him for a very short time, at a polite distance and he seemed happy as they turned away to leave him to his wet world and expanse of pristine waters. He swam away, dipping, diving, surfacing and spouting to his heart’s content as they, and we, left.  I wanted to include this image just to give you a true idea of this teenager’s size IMMENSE! 

Whale watching Boat

“…Blue whales are the largest animals ever known to have lived on Earth. These magnificent marine mammals rule the oceans at up to 100 feet (30 meters) long and upwards of 200 tons (181 metric tons). Their tongues alone can weigh as much as an elephant. Their hearts, as much as an automobile.

Blue whales reach these mind-boggling dimensions on a diet composed nearly exclusively of tiny shrimplike animals called krill. During certain times of the year, a single adult blue whale consumes about 4 tons (3.6 metric tons) of krill a day…”

Blue Whale

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5 Reasons to Visit Wellington in Aotearoa, New Zealand

If you have any recommendations for people who wish to stay longer please let me know, I can only comment on the things I saw in my very few hours in this harbour of culture which sits at the feet of a tall and thriving metropolis.

5 Reasons to Visit Wellington in Aotearoa, New Zealand5 Reasons to Visit Wellington in Aotearoa, New Zealand

After driving for many hours with this view or ones very similar, we arrived in Wellington on the North Island of Aotearoa (aka New Zealand) I can think of a dozen reasons to do the same again, but here’s my first 5.

Aotearoa Mountain Landscape

1. People focussed city centre

I keep emphasising you should be making your own schedules, don’t always go with the guide books however…I’m my own worst enemy.

I listened when people said, don’t spend much time in Wellington. It was a mistake but I don’t do regret so all’s good. This mistake meant we only had a few hours whilst waiting for the ferry (to the South Island) to fully explore and enjoy Wellington.

Please try to stay longer as from my short visit it proved to be a place to enjoy at leisure, cafe culture and history well balanced for people to enjoy. A melting pot of cafe dwellers. Office workers in their precious downtime chilling out on huge water front floor cushions.  Children kayaking in the safe haven harbour. Trend setters lounging with the ever present phones in hand, selfie heaven.

OK, so it was warm and sunny and we found a gorgeous organic cafe with amazing take away food to eat at the harbour, oh and a craft market full of retro fabrics, crafts and local art, so maybe my view is biased.

2. Art and sculpture

Yes Wellington you do the ‘expensive’ or ‘mainstream’ pieces better than Melbourne (no one can beat Melbourne for street art)

Solace in the Wind

I love works by Andrew Gormley and this one reminds me of his work. Its also very ‘Prometheus’ don’t you think?

Solace in the Wind

‘Solace in the Wind’, the naked man leaning over the edge of the harbour as if being held up by a gust of wind, is the work of Max Patte – an Englishman who came to Wellington to work at Weta Studios (the effects company behind movies like Avatar and the Lord of the Rings trilogy). Patte was inspired to create the sculpture in response to his own feelings about the Wellington waterfront, a place that he found comforting during difficult times. While the wind might not feel solacing to everyone, it is an inspiring statement on the emotional ties we develop with places….”

3. Maori history and art as the norm not an added extra

The harbour area was the place we spent our time. The ‘powers that be’ have incorporated maori style artwork within the buildings and bridge structures so they are part of the built environment. They stand out for tourists but also become part of every day for locals. I love that idea and wish more local areas would embrace their histories with such enthusiasm. Until we accept that we are all products of multi-culturalism we will never Wellington Sculpturereally be at peace together. Art and architecture has a huge part to play in that (sorry just had to get that out of my system)

Make sure you don’t miss all the small plaques along the dock area, tributes to sailors, soldiers and citizens lost at sea or at war. Take the time to read them, they are both moving and informative. 

4. Ferry that ran on time

This small but often ignored fact is one which, to a traveller, can mean the difference between getting to a safe accommodation on time or not arriving at all. It can not be underestimated.



5. A comfortable, cosmopolitan, credible (and apparently safe) waterside dock

Wellington HarbourThe planners have incorporated old and new and in what looks like a fairly recently renovated harbour area succeeded in making a place for people. Young, old, local, traveller, all mingled in. A group of guys placing soccer on the faux grass pitch, maori art used as architectural pieces of value.

Brilliant, one up for town planners, credit where it’s due.

If you have any recommendations for people who wish to stay longer please let me know, I can only comment on the things I saw in my very few hours in this harbour of culture which sits at the feet of a tall and thriving metropolis.

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When does photography become art?

If you take photographs, are you an artist?

Art or Photography?At what point does a photograph become a piece of art?

If you take a photograph and edit anything other than the size of the image, is it still a photograph or is it art?

Is all photography art? Purely by existing as a facsimile of the real thing, is that an artistic impression and therefore reasonably identified as art?

Photography can be defined as the art or practice of taking and processing photographs, therefore it is still a photograph no matter how much processing you carry out?

I take a photograph of a painting in the Tate Modern or Louvre. I then edit it into a different size, crop it and change the colours to monochrome from its original colours. Can I then claim it as mine and sell it as art?

Art can be defined as the expression or application of creative skill and imagination, in a visual form, a production of works to be appreciated for their beauty or emotional power.

Is the modern day photographer therefore accepted as an artist. Is their skill now in using software rather than their camera and lighting to produce the perfect shot?

I’d love to have your feedback on  this…

If you take photographs, are you an artist?

If you make art, of any type, would you be happy for someone else to photograph it, edit and retouch the image and claim it as a photograph?

5 Reasons I Became A Backpacker, Yes Me, A 50 Year Old Woman!

I get asked this so often, so I thought I’d explain the 5 main reasons I became a backpacker as a 50 year old woman

5 Reasons I Became A Backpacker, Yes Me, A 50 Year Old Woman!I am constantly surprised by how many women, young and old, say to me ‘Aren’t you scared?’ or ‘Wow, I could never do that’ or even ‘You must be mad, it’s dangerous!’

What prompts friends to worry so much about me, am I going bungee jumping off the grand canyon or maybe walking barefoot across hot coals? No, just going on a holiday with a back pack instead of a suitcase. I know! Crazy right?

I get asked this so often, so I thought I’d explain the 5 main reasons I became a backpacker as a 50 year old woman:

1. I couldn’t afford to visit the places I wanted to see any other way

My independent nature has led me to always pay my way. I’ve never been answerable to anyone for my bills and as a single parent money was always tight. My redundancy payment meant I finally had the cash if I managed it right. My bucket list, now called my ‘f**k it’ list, included seeing Uluru in Australia’s Red Centre. I investigated tours OMG not an option! So I looked at flight prices. Hmm, not too bad. I’d used YHA in the UK, so investigated hostels in Australia…looking more accessible now…I planned and planned and planned and guess what I did it! Un- be – lee – va – bull!!

2. I wanted to challenge myself

Why now? I never had a gap year in my youth, they were something hairy university students did. It was the era when only the children of the rich could afford university let alone gap years. So I never got to travel very far afield then. Then came the mortgage, solo, so I had to stay employed or lose my home. This was before career breaks were even thought of let alone suggested. Next I had my daughter. Whilst I did take her camping and occasionally overseas, I had strict timetables of holidays dates from the 9-5 and nurseries etc. Travelling with a pack just didn’t seem possible. Excuses, excuses. I have often chosen the safe option, I did a 9 – 5 office job for years. I worked in a risk environment so often chose the path less bumpy. I don’t regret anything, you do what you have to do to get by, to put on food on the table etc. However life is short, you have to take some risks, I still battle my inner risk manager.

3. I want to be a positive female role model

So move on a few years. I’m married. I’m a grandmother. I’ve been made redundant from my career three times. I know! Who saw any of that coming! My daughter needed to see a woman can do anything if she puts her mind to it. She should get that inspiration from me. She’s a parent herself now. My grand children need to know that granny went to that place on the globe that’s all the way around the other side. They need to see someone standing on top of a volcano. If they don’t see me pushing myself what will motivate them to do the same?

4. I now have the luxury of time

I was determined to make a third redundancy a positive thing. I went through the stages of grief you go through when you lose something so fundamental in your life, it wasn’t easy. I’m a stubborn independent person who refuses to be browbeaten by people. I’m no longer restricted by only being able to take a maximum two week break from work. I’m no longer tied by that ridiculous rule in the UK of being fined if you take your kids out of school to travel (oh, don’t get me started!) I have time to plan. I can spend time checking out the flight prices, reading the travel guides, learning from bloggers who’ve been there, done that. Importantly if you are able to be flexible in your plans you can access much cheaper flights etc.

5. I wanted to be like my Dad

My Dad never went back packing, as far as I know. However on his death bed he told me “I’ve seen everything I want to see. I’ve done everything I want to do” Wow! Awesome, how cool was that. Now there’s a certain point in your life, that sneaks up on you, a voice that says “Blooming heck! I have to do this now before I’m too old to do it, or dead!” That may be when you lose a parent or a friend who’s younger than you. When you lose your job. It can happen when you notice one too many hairs in the wrong place or wrinkles that seem to have appeared in your sleep.When I lost my Dad I had so much to do, so much I wanted to see. I knew I had to start, and start soon. I did not want to get to the pearly gates, or what ever else we see at the end, and think ‘if only’. Anyway, whatever the reason I hope you reach that point sooner rather than later and get out of any rut you’re in. Whilst I miss my family like crazy when I travel Skype and FaceTime mean I can chat with the grand babies at the click of a button from anywhere with wifi (Thank you McDonalds)

So, what possessed me to become a backpacker as a 50 year old woman? Christie Adams with a backpackWell, the question for me was why wouldn’t I. I love a list, so I sat down and wrote a list of places and things I wanted to see. I’m ticking them off, one by one. I won’t get to them all, that’s the point, it’s an evolving list however I’ve only been backpacking a few years and already have seen more than I ever imagined.

Backpacking is such an obvious choice once you sit down and think about it. If you are in any doubt if you should try it, YES YES and YES you should. Bit scared? Just go for a weekend away, in a hostel with a day pack. Try it! You won’t regret it.

If you want to just go for it full on, my Australia trip may give you some pointers.

Good female travel blogs to check out for more inspiration:

http://theblondeabroad.com/

http://floratheexplorer.com/

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Top 5 reasons to attend a Maori Hangi

haka and women doing the poi, if you think it looks easy have a go. I have my own poi and can even whack myself on the back of my head if I lose concentration!

Maori drummers at a Maori Hangi - night timeWhen in Aotearoa (New Zealand) you must try to attend a hangi. It is based around food, ceremony and the traditional cooking in a pit with hot stones.It can feel a bit touristy but get over that and enjoy it.

We went to our hangi (pronounced hungi) in Rotorua with an independent maori managed company, who had gone into the industry to take ownership of their history back from the big hotel chains, Tamaki Maori Village. You can stay overnight however we only had time for the evening event. Transport etc all included.

It’s worth looking for one similar rather than pay to go on a really falsely profiting and manufactured one. We had a full evening, including demonstrations of a village with maori arts, history etc. A show with haka and women doing the poi, if you think it looks easy have a go. I have my own poi and can even whack myself on the back of my head if I lose concentration! Not for me the flaming poi of hippies at Glastonbury then.

Maori woodcarver

We learnt about how the facial tattoos are designed, symbolism and sadly ongoing prejudice. We spoke to a few maori who knew they couldn’t get their facial tattoos permanently etched until they retired as ‘society’ would not employ them. Oh don’t get me started, when will we learn to look to the inside of a person not the shell that holds them.

Maori wood carving of a manIt was a great evening, the only slight criticism, which was acknowledged by the organisers before I mentioned it. I couldn’t see how chocolate cake, custard, meringue and peaches fit in to the culture, but I guess needs must and folk wanted a pudding so that’s what was easy to serve the masses. It was tasty at the end of a long day.

 

Top 5:

The haka (I can never get enough)

Encouragement to take photos to ‘spread the word about maori history’

Education

Culture

Art