Hobbiton – Our walk through the Shire in New Zealand

Hobbiton – Our walk through the Shire in New Zealand

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Way before Bob and I decided to go to New Zealand, I held close to my heart the idea of one day visiting Hobbiton.  When we viewed the movie, The Hobbit, I fell in love with the whimsical Hobbit Holes that Bilbo Baggins and Frodo called home.  The dome-shaped dwellings captured the imagination of my inner child, and the seemingly utopian bucolic lifestyle struck a chord with me. Read more

The miracle of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and we give a hand!

The miracle of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and we give a hand!

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Despite our intentions of arriving at the Leaning Tower of Pisa early in the day, we found ourselves landing at the popular tourist destination alongside hundreds of fellow sightseers.  This world-famous freestanding bell tower is considered one of the most remarkable architectural structures from medieval Europe and possibly the tallest bell tower in Europe. Read more

Our visit to the Stonehenge Ruins on Salisbury Plain

Our visit to the Stonehenge Ruins on Salisbury Plain

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After spending a few days in London, England, taking in several of the well known sights, Bob and I, with our teenaged son, escaped to the peaceful countryside just outside of Salisbury.  On a misty morning befitting a visit to the spiritually significant standing stones, we arrived to find Stonehenge hauntingly empty of anyone but ourselves. Read more

Our visit to Nkumbe Lookout above the savannah in Kruger National Park

Our visit to Nkumbe Lookout above the savannah in Kruger National Park

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nkumbe lookout, kruger national park, south africa

Our drive north from Lower Sabie Rest Camp brought us to one of the most popular lookouts in Kruger National Park, Nkumbe Viewpoint.  There, a simple thatched structure is constructed on a high ridge giving an unparalleled view of the striking lowveld savanna that spreads to the horizon. Read more

A Tri-colored Heron in the mangrove swamp at San Blas

A Tri-colored Heron in the mangrove swamp at San Blas

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It is safe to say that Bob and I probably failed to get an exact count of all the different birds that we managed to see in San Blas, Mexico, but at least we were able to make positive identification of those species that crossed our paths, birds such as this Tri-coloured Heron. Read more

A Yellow-crowned Night Heron deep in the San Blas swamp

A Yellow-crowned Night Heron deep in the San Blas swamp
Yellow-crowned Night Heron, mangrove swamp, san blas, nayarit, mexico, pic 19

When Bob and I visited San Blas on the Pacific coast of Mexico, our objective was to see some of the endemic bird species as well as others that winter in that southern locale.  We had seen a juvenile Yellow-crowned Night Heron in our hometown of Toronto a couple of years earlier.  As we cruised through the mangrove jungle on our guided tour, closeup views of these rather elegant birds were fairly frequent. Read more

Australasian Gannets at the Muriwai Gannet Colony

Australasian Gannets at the Muriwai Gannet Colony

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Bob and I had a long list of sights to see in New Zealand and first up was the gannet colony at Muriwai Regional Park just outside of Auckland.  About an hour’s drive north of Lone Kauri Lodge where we were staying on the North Island, it made for the perfect day trip.  Over 2,000 Australasian Gannets make up the colony at Muriwai, which is one of only three mainland gannet colonies in New Zealand. Read more

Our self-guided Safari to Sunset Dam in Kruger National Park

Our self-guided Safari to Sunset Dam in Kruger National Park

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Setting off mid-morning from Skukuza Rest Camp in Kruger National Park on a self-guided safari had Bob and me filled with anticipation.  Our destination for the afternoon was Sunset Dam near Lower Sabie Rest Camp, a mere 36 kilometres southeast of Skukuza.  The generous waterhole at Sunset Dam rewarded us with prime wildlife viewing that included this family of Hippopotamuses. Read more

All dressed up for Christmas, bring on the snow!

All dressed up for Christmas, bring on the snow!

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With the recent substantial snowfalls, our home and property is ready to celebrate a White Christmas.  And when I awoke this morning, I found that yesterday’s wind and warm temperatures had sculpted the snow into an artful scalloped edge that neatly framed each Christmas bulb. Read more

Our grape escape, helping with the grape harvest in Tuscany

Our grape escape, helping with the grape harvest in Tuscany

jean holds grapes at il colombaio di cencio vineyard, gaiole in chianti, itay

During our several night stay at Il Colombaio di Cencio Vineyard near Gaiole in Chianti, Italy, Bob and I enjoyed a leisurely pace where we set our own schedule.  The morning after a day trip to the Leaning Tower of Pisa and Cinque Terre, we awoke to a subtle clangor emanating from the sleepy, sun-drenched vineyard.  Soon after, we found ourselves helping with the grape harvest in Tuscany. Read more

An African Jacana at Sunset Dam in Kruger National Park

An African Jacana at Sunset Dam in Kruger National Park

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Bob and I were obliged to remain inside our car at Sunset Dam as is the case almost everywhere you go in Kruger National Park.  Allowance is made for parking along one section of the shore, and it was from there that we had fantastic views of this African Jacana. Read more

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