I really enjoyed this book. Real, honest, relatable female lead. Beautifully and descriptively written. Pictures painted with finesse, informative and fun to read.
This is the debut novel by my cousin and I am so excited for her to be a ‘published author’. Go get yourself a copy of this book and enjoy!
Vote on goodreads too if you want to. Categories – Debut Novel, Mystery & Thriller and Fiction. Scroll to the bottom of the voting pages and add Direct Action JD Svenson in the box and vote! Only 5 days to go!
Click on the green Direct Action to read the publisher’s blurb.
Monday 7th October – My dad’s 90th Birthday-We are travelling to Ballybraid Co, Wicklow – 2 days in a cottage with no traffic, or cold and no wifi, – we didn’t know we had to pay until after we got there and then could not contact the owner so left it at that .
We had a great time driving from Doolin to Limerick, and Tipperary to our final stay in Ireland at Ballybraid.
The day was planned to be a 4-5 hour drive across the country from the west to the east. So goodbye to Storyteller’s Cottage.
We left the Burren , in County Clare and headed across the island to the ‘garden’ of Ireland, County Wicklow.
First we went to Limerick and then Tipperary.
So Limerick was a lovely stop on the drive, where we had morning tea and a wander.
Our journey was unhurried and full of new villages and fields and sights for me to photograph.
The lunch was terrific, vegetable soup and brown bread. The bread is heavy and wholesome and so tasty with a nuttiness I wasn’t expecting. It is the norm, with soup here, it appears.
At one stage we passed a dairy farm and the road was closed with a gate opposite us and a procession of black and white cows were meandering across the road from the milking shed to their night accommodation. It was lovely watching the young woman in charge move around her charges and a young boy employed to move cones and ropes off the road once they had passed. Just lovely to see.
We drove from Doolin to Glenmalure – to a lovely cottage called Ballybraid in the Wicklow mountains near to the Wicklow Mountains National Park. The trees and undergrowth are thick and constant in this area. We found the drive in once off the motorway to be long, winding and narrow. We stayed on the N76 as it zig-zagged across the country. The last hour was on narrow winding roads and we were very pleased to arrive at our accommodation.
We had an ‘air code’ to put into google maps to find the cottage. We arrive and started reversing out of a very narrow lane, and our hostess arrived just in the nick of time and lead the way up a very potholed steep driveway to our little cottage. It is a lovely spot on top of a hill looking down into the valley across dark glossy green fields dotted with white sheep with blue markings, who eat incessantly and move around all over the incline outside our door.
The cottage is two-story with a steep wooden staircase at the back of the house. There are three bedrooms upstairs with an en-suite in the master. It is centrally heated and it is so warm and cosy. Each of the windows has shutters inside to close over the 18 inch window sills. It’s very effective at shutting out the light, sound of the wind and cold.
The interior is clean and there is wood panelling on the ground floor ceiling, on open fire with exposed brick to the roof on the wall where where the fireplace is located.
There is a washer and drier so we caught up with our laundry. We have been self-catering for about 5 days now so have all the food we need to stay ensconced in this lovely place and get some rest.
The only flaw in this plan is that we will have to drive back along the long and windy road – maybe not as far because we are going in a different direction – towards Dublin for our 8:40 flight during the dead of night. We have found that Google’s estimates of how long routes will take to drive is not accurate and usually only half the time it will take. So, we plan to allow four hours for our journey so that we are well on time for our flight.
8th October 2019
The cottage is part of a working farm and this morning the sheep were taken to be drenched. The farmer arrived with two black and white border collies enthusiastically rounding up the flock. It took about two minutes for all the sheep to be in a group and moving forward towards the drenching area.
One of the sheep stayed sitting down in the grass and one of the dogs went back to get it. It stood and staggered forward as if its front legs were damaged. It then sat down. The farmer instructed the dog to leave the animal where it was, and he then went and looked more closely, again it struggled to its feet and then collapsed and the farmer left it there and went towards the job to be done.
Afterwards, the dogs came just inside the driveway gate with the farmer and milled while another man in a van appeared with a brown and white border collie on the edge of the driveway. The brown dog was herding his flock down the driveway with the man in the van close behind. The farmer signalled to his two, now filthy dogs, to stay with him while the sheep were processing down the race.
Soon they were gone, and the farmer’s mob were back grazing where they had been this morning.
Such a great show to observe from the kitchen window in our cosy cottage at Ballybraid, Glenmalure.
The hostess of the cottage has written a history book about the area called Glenmalure: The Wild Heart of the Mountains. A valley and its People by Carmel O’Toole, Glenmalure, County Wicklow, Ireland. It took her 5 years and it is magnificent.
It is a fascinating read and I am hoping to get a copy in due course.
Printed in Ireland by Colourworld Print Ltd, Kilkenny. Edited by Richard Beeler.
We went to Monsterella Pizza tonight and had to book at 5:30pm. One of the reasons was that they open at 4:30 and its flat out from then on. We needed to be out by 7:00pm. No drama on that front, due to the fast service and yummy pizzas. We had two pizzas between three of us and it was enough. There is water, glasses, napkins and cutlery to be collected before you sit down.
The atmosphere is almost beachy, with clean black tables and a cushioned bench along one wall, which helps with the acoustics. In spite of the polystyrene panels stuck to the ceiling which may or may not help. It’s noisy, in a good way, but you can still have conversations across your table without too much drama.
The staff are efficient and the food is great. We had a Capri and a Milliano Pizza.
The pizzas are woodfired. Menu was very pizza oriented but there were alternatives such as pasta, salad and entrees. There are wonderful sweets and its very busy. Bookings are essential.
Pizzas were around $22/$24, for a large dinner plate size. Corkage for wine $5 beer $1.
There seemed to be a lot of staff in the kitchen, but it worked!
Went to Adelaide for a few days R & R. Caught up with some family and friends and stayed at #QuestPortAdelaide. I spoke to a woman from Adelaide when I got back and told her where I had stayed and she looked at me enquiringly – why? Seems the area has a dodgy reputation, but we found it to be family friendly and full of small eateries and old buildings and pubs.
There were some amazingly old – for Australian standards – buildings which have been looked after or restored. They are just fabulous. The whole area may have been less desirable, however it is becoming quite trendy and there are new apartments being built to prove it.
Adelaide has a similar feeling to Perth in Western Australia, that old country town friendliness. The population in Adelaide is 1.3 million. This is the fifth largest city in Australia.
Perth has an estimated population of over 2.14 million people, 4th Largest city of Australia.
We had a beautiful breakfast on our first morning at #TheDrummerBoyCafe at 132 St Vincent Street Port Adelaide.
We walked along St Vincent Street and found Port Mall. It looks like it hasn’t changed for a long time but the shops there are a sensible collection ranging from Newsagents, Cafes other eateries and Hairdressers.
We had a lovely time wandering around and shopping for nothing we needed. I bought an Organic Gardening book and some soft ‘lounge pants’ made of furry microfleece. There had been some very cold weather sweeping across Adelaide – an arctic blast – while we were there and we knew before we arrived, so brought appropriate clothing and beanie for my head.
There was rain and cold winds and a chill factor around 5 degrees celsius, but when the wind dropped, the sun shone. The temperature didn’t get above about 15C while we were there, but we didn’t care.
We had dinner at Crusoe’s at The Lakes Resort in West Lakes, with some very special friends from Adelaide. The food was lovely and service was terrific.
All wonderful and very much enjoyed.
Saturday was a day free from any commitments so we had a sleep in and I went down to the wharf for some photos.
Came upon the vessel called the YELTA a steam tugboat. Very Cool.
Also the Port Adelaide Lighthouse.
This lovely pub is Adelaide’s oldest building. We had dinner here on our last night. THE most beautiful steak I have ever had in my LIFE!
It was a sirloin cooked medium on a wood fire with garlic and chilli green beans and crinkle cut chips and mushroom sauce. OMG to die for!
The next morning we drove to Christie’s Beach to see some very low maintenance mates who had moved from Queensland. Doesn’t matter how often we see them, it is always the same, a warm and generous welcome.
We met them not far from their home in O’Sullivan’s Beach at a lovely cafe called Flava Food and Coffee Cafe at Christie’s Beach.
After our lovely catchup, which was way too short – note to self – plan for more time, next time.
We headed east through magnificent scenery including hills of green and farmland. Our ears were constantly popping as we rose and descended over the hills and valleys to see my nephew, his wife and their daughter, my grand niece. Also, way too short, but at least we got to see them. I really miss that little part of my family, so far away.
Its really only 2.5 hours away by plane but sometimes its just too far.
Then we drove back to the airport and handed back our very interesting, but adequate hire car, the little white Skoda and caught the Jetstar plane home.
A nice little break from our normal, but comfortable routine. Until next time.
On our way to our stop in the south west for a party, we stopped for lunch at The Rose Hotel. A lovely old building with Art Deco touches and wrought iron lace around the outside of the well maintained structure.
We had lovely, generous serves of food.
Vegetarian and vegan options were on a separate menu as opposed to the usual way of just one or two options on the bottom of the menu. Good to see.
The interior of the hotel is Art Deco and charming. The staff are quick and strong and wear really short black mini skirts. The food is delicious and very filling.
Up relatively early today. Went outside and took some black and white pictures of the wonderful cottages which epitomise the accommodation which has been on the island for decades.
They are not flash but have everything you need. It is a very relaxing and an easy place to stay.
Before I headed out to the salt lakes I went north to see the lovely lighthouse. It’s not particularly special, it just looks nice. It looks well built and solid. The white walls contrast beautifully against the blue, blue sky. It never gets old for me, this classic shot.
Later in the morning, I ventured out, on the chariot, towards the salt lakes to photograph birds and habitats around there.
I found a small group of Pied Oystercatchers,
There are Bridled Terns and Welcome Swallows, zooming around so fast, I can’t photograph them. Some Welcome Swallows roost in our eaves in our accomodation here on Rottnest Island.
I also saw a Rock Parrot near the settlement.
There are also Ravens and Seagulls throughout the settled areas.
They are great scavengers and the seagulls, are ruthless. They ‘take no prisoners’.
A family of Mountain Ducks, and Fairy Terns.
For lunch we decided to go to Geordie’s. Cycled to the settlement and parked my bike in a rack near the general store. We caught the bus to the north side of the island to Geordie Bay. We ate lunch at Geordie Bay Cafe and Gallery. I shared fish and chips, and marinated Fremantle octopus.
Very yummy and the other dish was a sweet potato salad with grilled chicken – there were three eating!
Well here is a quirky, interesting and warm and friendly venue for eats, nostalgia, sculptures, prints, and art both new and old. The yard is filled with relics of the past and objects of great importance once – like a typesetting machine, an old till, a sculpture full of plastic from the sea. There is machinery so big, it makes one wonder how it was put where it was.
We usually book, in the winter, near the very efficient and comforting pot belly style firebox.
The whole place is interesting to look at and the staff are friendly, polite and well trained.
The food is reliable and tasty. We had the ‘carnivore’ this time and shared it for $23.90 Good value for two – plus a lovely pot of tea for two.
Once I was there when there was an Ella Fitzgerald fan, playing some of her music which was a wonderful sound to listen to during our meal.
Taylor’s has been there awhile and its owner and namesake Jude Taylor is renowned for her artwork depicting Western Australian wildflowers.
There are pictures, cards, clothes and other nick knacks laid out around the old house.
There are some wonderfully quirky things at Taylors, like the water tank around one of the tables, and the lovely door handle on the outside door where the toilets are.
Worth a visit if you are in the Swan Valley, and there is Whistler’s Chocolates next door. Also, the wineries for which the Swan Valley is famous, in Western Australia.
The life here is slow and peaceful. There are plenty of places to eat and a day trip really doesn’t cut it. You should stay for a few days and really enjoy the peace and quiet. You cannot drive cars or other vehicles here. The only vehicles here are those used for work or the bus transport – The Explorer – around the island. You can get a hop on and hop off bus pass which does a continual loop all day from 8:30am until the last route @ 3:00pm returning at 4:00pm. There is a Shuttle that goes to and from accommodation on the other side of the island and to the Airport, and Kingston Barracks. You can drive ‘gophers’ and segways on tours. However, most enjoy the bicycles available for hire. Or if you’re a local you can bring your own bike to the island. Bikes for hire come in a range of styles. Electric. Manual. All are solid well made bikes which can handle the use they get. It’s a very slick and easy system to hire your bike from #pedal&flipper.
There is a plethora of birdlife on the island and due to the 15,000 visitors who come each year, they are not flighty and can be observed or photographed easily.
Life on the island is wonderful, mostly. During the day when the ‘day trippers ‘ arrive there is a growth in the population and it is not all good. Some of the population is uneducated when it comes to a Class A Reserve. The animals here need to be left alone and observed. There is an on the spot fine of $150 fine for feeding the quokka. I would love to see that enforced.
There are a lot of different species of birds here and I will add some photos when I have taken them.
There is a ‘settlement’ with a bakery, pizza shop, subway and clothing. There are historic buildings, some built by prisoners held here and a museum housing the historic records of the island.
The #Rottnest_Bakery is renowned and is often the first place people go on arrival.
There are several eateries, like Dome, and the Rottnest Hotel or pub is affectionately called the #Quokka’s_Arms.
We ate at Rottnest Hotel yesterday and I had a pumpkin and beetroot salad with goat curd and pepitas. It really was lovely. There was a lot of spinach and rocket but the rest with quinoa on the pumpkin was very nice. Also a Lime and Soda – very refreshing.
One word of warning for those eating outside at the pub, Seagulls! They will go for your food at the most unexpected moments. It seems they love it when you look at your phone – they swoop and steal any food they can. Chips are a favourite. Also its a good idea to tell the wait staff when you are leaving, because the birds attack as you leave. We covered our leftovers with napkins and put a couple of glasses down on top – so they weren’t knocked over. Oops, left a glass standing up and it crashed to the ground when the birds arrived – we kept walking. There was nothing we could do.
My suggestion to management are buttons, blue tooth, battery operated – whatever – on the tables with corresponding numbered lights on a display board, where the staff are, and when you are leaving you push the button – light comes on – staff come to your table and collect plates etc to avoid bird breakages.
The local Pizza joint is Frankie’s on Rotto. Haven’t been there but it is well presented and looks spacious and inviting.
There are all sorts of choices, vegan, vegetarian and gluten free options at The Lane Cafe.
Another is Geordies Cafe and Art Gallery, I’m hoping we can go there for breakfast tomorrow. It is rated 3rd on Trip Advisor for restaurants on Rotto.
The weather has been great so far. Predicted rain today, it came and went very quickly. Yesterday was 21C and sunny. Gorgeous.
The Ferry ride over was with Rottnest Express – excellent – no dramas – 30mins. Amazing.
They deliver your luggage to your door too. We arrived before the cottages were available so went straight to the pub for lunch. I collected a very cool electric bike and rode down to the accommodation centre to collect the keys.
Once we had moved into our accommodation – we realised we were short two towels. So I jumped on my bike and rode back to get some. It is so quick with the ‘assisted’ control.
As I was about to return with towels in a bag, I moved the gear lever on my bike and the chain dropped off – it may have been on the way down but the pedal just went round and it had come adrift. So I slowly backed it back to release the chain. That did not happen so I parked, and fiddled and eventually released the stuck chain and refitted it onto the large front sprocket from whence it had come. But, as a result of my being so capable, my hands and fingers were covered in grease. So I returned to the accommodation centre (Rottnest Island Accommodation) and as I walked into the reception area I raised my hands, asking for tissues or something to use to wipe off the excess oil.
Out came the paper towels and later some hand sanitiser which cleans quite efficiently. The lovely staff at the RIA were brilliant. None thought it was strange that a woman my age would be replacing a chain on a bike.They must meet a lot of very capable women on this island.
Went for a few walks yesterday with camera in hand and found some amazing scenes of tranquility and feverish foraging.
Today was a ‘wild and woolly’ day. The sea was rough and the wind strong, blustery and constant. It made standing on the beach hard for taking photographs.
The breakfast was great. The outside section of the restaurant was closed today, and it looked like a terrible move financially. The manager/owner turned away about 8 potential tables while we were there, due to the space not being available.
The food was good, the service could have been a little better but on the whole all our needs were met. We chose this particular restaurant because it was in our Entertainment Book – which is a book of discounts. The choice was a good one.
The prices were good, and the food tasty. The triangular toastwas fun and a novelty. The hash browns were soft mashed almost potato inside long triangular wedges. Now, I love potato any way you want to cook it, but those hash browns were nice, but not what I call a hash brown or a potato rösti.
This is the hash brown. We shared between two THE Swell breakfast, below. Plenty each.
The venue was new, clean and attractive.
I ordered a black tea and this time, that’s what I got. I would say 80% of the time I get milk too. Now, I’m ok with drinking milk, on its own, but I don’t have it in my tea. It would be good if all places could ‘hear’ the order and bring what has been asked for the way Swell did today.
Took a drive to Umina Beach and Woy Woy and back today. The motorways are fast and efficient when not crowded, but the trucks can be very intimidating! And the engineering involved in creating the motorways, is awe inspiring.
Once I arrived in Umina Beach I went to visit my 93 year old Aunt, who is astounded that I bother to see her. As I assured her, a trip to Sydney must have a visit to her, or it would not be a trip to Sydney. I have a cousin of my mother’s who also turned 93 this year who lives in Sydney who will have a visit on Friday. So looking forward to seeing him too.
Today I have driven east to the coast and will meet up with my cousins for lunch. It is a beautiful day at the moment but by 1pm there are forecasts for thunderstorms- I hope they are wrong – make it 4pm – I’ll be safe at my digs by then.
I was early, as usual, so proceeded to the beach to see the surf at Freshwater Beach.
It really does look inviting. Lots of grommets out and about and older surfers. It is a moving tide of black rubber covered humans with long wet hair – in some cases -and a board under their arms. Not a bad way to spend your time.
Today we visited one of the first farming properties in Australia. In 1799 Joseph Foveaux was granted 980 acres which, in addition to other purchases, he sold to John Macarthur in 1801. John Macarthur enlarged this through additional purchases until it comprised around 2,000 acres. John and Elizabeth Macarthur farmed sheep on this property in addition to their properties at Camden and Parramatta. For much of the time that the Macarthur’s owned this farm John was overseas and it fell to Elizabeth to manage the various Macarthur properties and flocks.
The farm is being restored and maintained and it is used for a range of activities and community happenings.
We left our first home of three days and drove east towards the north shore.
Well now we are on the north shore of the city in a leafy suburb called Chatswood. It has huge numbers of retail outlets in the streets and in the malls. Westfield, Chatswood Chase and stores all around them. Eateries are everywhere. Very Asian influence around here with heavy emphasis on Korean. This morning we wandered down to #Crazy_Uncle_Frankie’s where we had a lovely breakfast between us with the addition of an orange juice, tea and coffee.
It was a birthday breakfast – did you see the candle?? We ate at Crazy Uncle Frankie’s 1/405-419 Victoria Ave, Chatswood. Terrific service and food. We were welcomed warmly and we ate at an outdoor table.
After breakfast we watched children chase bubbles on the expanse of green outside the Chatswood Library under the only tree in the vicinity, but a good one.
We then ventured off into retail land through the doors of the Westfield shopping complex.There are some great stores and some great décor.
After the walk through and a couple of useful purchases, we returned to our apartment and readied ourselves for a 20 min drive to see one of my cousins who is 93 and thoroughly warm and amazing man, who continues to live life to the full, working 3 days a week at the office of the firm, established by his father Edward (Ted) way back 1929 with his brother Hector (Bob). My cousin joined the Law firm with his brother in the 1950s.