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I’ve been looking back at some of my photos of the trip around Northern Ireland and have selected a few to share with you all.      J

Rowallane Garden near Downpatrick, County Down

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The kitchen garden area of Rowallane Walled Garden.

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The delicacy of a peony in a shower of rain.

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The rain may have bowed this Nepalese Poppy but it could not spoil its beauty.

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In the damp parklands at Rowallane there were plenty of fungi.

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This little robin was totally unafraid of us – a special treat.

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Mount Stewart Gardens – lake and park area with family mausoleum on hill side.

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Swans and cygnets by the lake at Mount Stewart.

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Abstract of raindrops on water and green algae at lakes edge.

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A lovely iris by the water’s edge.

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Even in a park of large trees, the delicate hand of nature can still be found.

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Formal gardens at Mount Stewart House.

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There are many small boat harbours – this one at Carnlough

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Views across green farms on our narrow country road explorations.

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Hedges of fuchsias line many small country roads.

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Coastal views of farm country from the very narrow, twisting, winding, steep hilly road to Torr Head. It was an experience!

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Views from B&Bs like this one by the sea at Glenariff.

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Bumblebees in geraniums – they were everywhere – a delight.

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Wildflowers on cliff paths by the ocean.

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Looking down on rocky cliffs along the north coast.

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Old ruins of castles like Deluce Castle.

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Small sailing craft lay at anchor in quiet bays – this one called Isobel.

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Families enjoyed the quiet places along the coast despite the weather – here at Portballintrae.

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Beautiful hedge roses grow alongside many small country roads.

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Tiny villages are tucked into safe bays along the north coast.

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Very occasionally, a sandy beach is protected by a rocky outcrop – this one at Ballintoy.

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A tiny pied wagtail chases insects at Ballintoy beach.

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Small cottage cafes abound like The Red Door on a farm at Ballintoy.W

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White Park Bay

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All rugged up against wind, rain and cold (in summer) at Giant’s Causeway.

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We watched from a safe vantage point as others cross the infamous rope bridge.

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Small fishing boats seem far too fragile to take on the seas out from these northern bays.

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Interesting skies always hailed the end of each day.

And that ends this small roundup of photos from our wonderful time in Northern Ireland.

J and A

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Our second stop over was in Zurich, Switzerland. It was a nostalgic return to a city I had enjoyed when I lived in Switzerland in 1969/1970.  Not a lot has changed in the old part of the city and we enjoyed a wander through the winding cobbled streets, albeit in the drizzle. After a long night’s flight from Bangkok it was good to stretch the legs for a few hours before we fell into bed to sleep.

Typical of the old streets in Zurich

Cobbled streets, boutique shops, flags on old buildings and not a lot of traffic – these are the old streets I like so much.

One of Zurich’s famous cake and chocolate ‘tea rooms’

Yes, I have to confess, we did stop here for a cuppa and cherry tart.  It had to be cherry for Switzerland – it’s Kirsch capital.

Swiss flags flying from a house

So typical of the Swiss to fly their county’s flag on their buildings – and grow red geraniums on the window sills.

And yes, there was plenty of step practice for ‘the knee’!

Paintings on house walls

A beautiful painting on the wall of a house – another typical Swiss style of house decoration.

The Clock Tower of St Peters Church

As we stood beneath this clock, the bells peeled out – another sound I remember so well from my life in switzerland.

Beautiful simplicity of the interior of St Peters Church

This is the venue for many a music concert we attended when living in Switzerland.

The organ at St Peters Church

When I walked into the church, I was thrilled to hear once more the sounds of that organ. Someone was practicing and the sound really filled the building with life.

A cobblestone and lichen abstract

I quite possibly walked on theses very cobblestones many times while we lived here and on the many occasions we revisited Switzerland over the years. For something like 30 years it was our ‘second home’ – a place of work but also a place of familiarity.

The cobblestoned courtyard of houses near St Peters.

I love these courtyards in the old part of Zurich – places of serenity in a big city.

Petals in the rain

Even in the rain, these lace cap hydrangeas look resplendent.

Limmat River

On the banks of the Limmat River are the old guild halls of yesteryear, some now restaurants where I have eaten many a good meal.

Rising up behind are the twin towers of the Gross Munster – another place of many musical concert memories.

Serene swan

I think I probably fed this swan’s umpteen times x great great grandparents!

Ferry on the Lake

Such a shame it was raining – I had been looking forward to a cruise on the lake – but that was not to be this time.

Zurich Tram

There was only one thing for it – take a tram and then a train back to our hotel at the airport – and have a really good sleep before we go on to Ireland and the real focus of this travel adventure.

More anon   J and A

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Just south of Ulladulla on the south coast of NSW is Burrill Lake, a small shallow lake where flocks of Australian black swans often stop by to feed on sea grasses and to rest.

An inlet joins the lake to the sea.  Storms and high seas have scoured out a rock platform and it was this rock platform that was to be my challenge  – camera in hand of course.

After months of slow and painful rehabilitation from having my knee changed over from my ageing, crumbling, arthritic original to a new state of the art piece of  technology, I finally felt that I could tackle such a walk.  It was a glorious autumn day but nothing was sunnier or warmer than my feeling of joy and freedom as I carefully made my way across the rocks, checking out life in the pools and enjoying the smell and sound of the sea.

Very soon I was joined by one of my favourite birds, the Australian Pelican. Not exactly a winner in the beauty class but this is a bird with character – and an extraordinary bill.

And rock hopping with me was a very cheeky seagull.

In dry rock pools, a seaweed commonly called ‘Neptune’s Necklace’, ‘sea grapes’ or ‘bubble weed’, ( Hormosira banksii),  added a 3D dimension to nature’s abstract art.

The habitat of this Australian and New Zealand seaweed is between tide-marks, so that for one part of the day the plants are submerged, for another they are floating, and for the third, and generally longest portion, they are stranded high and dry, as they are here.

In rock pools where they were still afloat, it was easy to see that these strings of almost hollow ‘beads’ are coated with a slimy layer that conserves moisture during low tide. The beads also contain a gas that helps them to float higher as the tide rises allowing them to flow with any current and still receive sunlight at high tide.  Sea urchins, crustaceans and some fish eat this seaweed.  And because it stays moist, the plant also provides protection for small rock pool creatures during hot, low tide periods.

In the shallow pools, tiny sea snails rested, each in its own uniquely decorated shell.

These shores had recently been pounded by huge storm waves but now a gentle sea left glistening rocks in its wake.

At the end of the rock shelf, the sea made more of a splash on barnacle encrusted rocks.

Many thousands of barnacles are stuck onto the rocks in densely packed ‘communities’.

These tiny creatures are related to prawns, lobsters and yabbies. They are protected by calcareous plates which form a dome like a volcano. The top entrance is covered by another two plates. When the tide turns and the barnacles are once more covered by water, the two top plates open and feather like limbs, called cirri, beat through the water filtering the plankton on which they feed and directing the food into their mouths.

While the sea was relatively calm, a fisherman tried his luck from the rocks…

… and my sister and I worked out how to use our new cameras. (photo DY)

From the rock ledge, I noticed a path leading around the headland to the next bay… maybe another time… the tide was on the turn and it was time to go home.

But even in the car park there were plants to photograph like this Mesembryanthemum,  (Carpobrotus acinaciforme), a native plant of South Africa widely seen in coastal areas of Australia.  The long name means “midday flowering” and that refers to the fact that the flower head closes at night when there are no helpful pollinators around.  By closing, the flower can protect its ‘gametes’, or reproductive cells, from night-time dews, frost, wind and predators.  They are a drought tolerant ground cover with a tendency to form thick mats and thus stabilise soil or sand. They are invasive and can choke out native plants.

Sometimes it’s the leaves of a plant that are the most photogenic, like this Melianthus, another native of South Africa.  This evergreen perennial shrub of about 3m (10′) has the common name of “touch-me-not”because it has an unpleasant smell when touched.  In spring and summer it produces reddish-brown tubular flowers above the leaves which are  followed by pale green pods containing black seeds.  It’s a good bird attracting plant.

 Behind the dunes there were several Australian native Coastal Banksia trees, (Banksia integrifolia), with their yellow flower spikes, or inflorescence. Each spike is made up of several hundred flowers densely packed in a spiral around a cylindrical woody axis. One common name for this tree is Honeysuckle and birds certainly find the banksia’s nectar very tasty.  After flowering, old flower parts wither and fall away over a period of several months, revealing the seed “cone”.  The seeds are black with a feathery black ‘wing’ that helps them to ‘fly’ to the ground.  The tree has a twisted gnarled trunk with rough grey bark and whirls of dark green leaves that are paler underneath.

The young banksia flower spikes are also very attractive.

And when the sun is lower in the sky, and if you are prepared to lie in the grass to get the very best shot, then even the humble dandelion makes a very photogenic subject!

Photography    ©   JT  of ‘jtdytravels’

(Mesembryanthemum, Melianthus and Dandelion photos ©  DY of ‘jtdytravels’)

(NB: to enlarge a photo, click on it – then click the back arrow to return to the blog.)

More of our travel photos on   flickr.com/photos/jtdytravels

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