Glenbawn Lake, NSW, Australia

Glenbawn Lake, NSW, Australia

This beautiful lake, and surrounding area, is a result of damming the Hunter River in the Upper Hunter Valley, NSW. The dam wall was originally built between 1948 and 1958, with a later raising of the wall in 1987. It is very near to where our daughter, Jane, and family live, so they are able to visit here regularly.

These sunken trees reminded us of lake Kariba in Zimbabwe

It is now a state park, with amenities for fishing, many forms of water sport, picnic areas with BBQs, children's playgrounds, and even tennis. There are also camping sites with fire pits, and numerous cabins and bungalows, so it is a perfect place to stay. It is also a nature-lover's paradise, with over 100 species of birds, and extensive woodlands with numerous kangaroo, and other Australian wildlife.

Waiting to greet new arrivals!

Sean looking for fish

Peaceful views across the lake

A perfect camping site. You can see the fire pit on the grass

A peaceful little backwater

When we visited, it was winter, so there were few other visitors; even though the sun was shining and it wasn't particularly cold.

A walk beside the lake

There is something wonderful about walking in the countryside, with only the sounds of nature surrounding you. It always makes me feel happy.

Even the road out was picturesque

I think this park needs to be on our itinerary, every time we visit Jane, Sean, Shannon, and Jordan, in their new home in Australia.

Elizabeth Coughlan


Abu Dhabi, Capital of the United Arab Emirates

Night falls over Abu Dhabi

It's hard to believe, that only 50 years ago, Abu Dhabi was little more than a fishing village, surrounded by desert sands. Now, although still surrounded by sand, Abu Dhabi is an attractive, modern city, with parks, beaches, and gleaming skyscrapers, all paid for by the massive deposits of oil beneath it.  But, the amazing progress of this area isn't solely dependent on the oil (which is expected to run out around 2100), great strides are being made to attract tourism, and present investment opportunities.

Unfortunately, the only time we could visit our daughter, Clare and family, was during Ramadan, in almost unbearable heat (47°C or 116°F). As a result, we didn't go out much! One thing we did manage, apart from shopping in some of the many shopping malls, was to take the air-conditioned hop-on hop-off bus on a tour of the city. We actually decided not to hop-off at all, as it was far too hot, but we managed an overview of the city, and promised ourselves a more comprehensive tour when we visit again later this year.

The first landmark we saw from the bus, was the 7 star Emirates Palace Hotel. 
Where, they say, even the cakes are made of gold!

Our next stop was at the stunning, jaw-dropping, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.

Said to be the world's most expensive mosque, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, with its glistening white marble dome, is absolutely beautiful! I'm looking forward to seeing the interior on our next visit to Abu Dhabi. The mosque is said to contain the largest carpet in the world, hand made by 1,200 Persian carpet weavers; plus 7 gold chandeliers, dripping with Swarovski crystals!

UAE Pavilion

This, the UAE Pavilion, was moved piece by piece to Abu Dhabi from Shanghai, where it welcomed almost two million visitors to the UAE’s national exhibition during the World Expo 2010. This unusual dune-shaped structure, was designed by London architects Foster + Partners, and stands close to the Manarat al Saadiyat exhibition centre, on Saadiyat island.

We also passed the site of the Abu Dhabi Louvre, still under construction. 

This project was conceived in partnership with the Louvre, Paris, and promises to be a "world-class destination, bridging global cultures."

Al Hosn Fort

We managed to glimpse the Al Hosn Fort over the billboards surrounding it, as it is undergoing a conservation project. But, it looks very interesting, and worthy of a visit in the future.

The Al Hosn Fort was constructed in 1761 as a conical watchtower to defend the only freshwater well in Abu Dhabi island. The tower was later expanded into a small fort in 1793 by the then ruler, Shakhbut bin Dhiyab Al Nahyan, and became the permanent residence of the ruling Sheikh. It remained the emir's palace (hence the name Qasr al-Hosn, meaning Palace fort) and seat of government until 1966.

Our tour ended, where it began, at the Marina Mall, 
with the prominent Ikea Tower, and a ferris wheel nearby.

I really look forward to exploring Abu Dhabi later this year, but hopefully in more clement weather! This time we were just happy to stay out of the heat, and gaze out at the amazing view of the city from the 43rd floor of Clare and Reg's apartment.

The view from our bedroom. The haze over the city is a sand storm coming in!

Elizabeth Coughlan


Wrinkles of the City, Istanbul

"Wrinkles of the City" portrait in Galata, overlooking the Golden Horn

A friend, Juliana, and I decided to go in search of the "Wrinkles of the city, Istanbul". This is a series of images by the French artist, JR. They are part of a project begun in 2008 in an effort to portray urbanisation in different cities of the world. "Wrinkles" refers to the faces of the elderly affected by the changes and upheavals they have experienced in city life. The portraits are huge, each covering the whole side of a building, forcing the locals to experience JR's massive images.

The Galata Tower looms over one of JR's portraits in Istanbul

An elderly couple cling together, on the side of a warehouse beside the Golden Horn

Many of the images are already damaged by the weather...

...and others have been vandalised

This one in Balat is still in good condition.

Although JR installed 15 images throughout Istanbul, we only managed to find a handful of them. We had a fun day, however, walking in interesting parts of the city, and riding up the Golden Horn in one of the smaller ferry boats. There is always something fun to do in Istanbul.

Elizabeth Coughlan 


Photography Trek to Kadirga, Istanbul

Sokullu Mehmet Pasa Mosque

Although it was pouring with rain, the intrepid members of our photography club, braved the elements and travelled to Kadirga, an area of Istanbul. Our first stop was the Sokullu Mehmet Pasa Mosque, which was unfortunately closed, although we did have access to the courtyard.

This mosque, designed by Sinan the Architect, was built in 1571 in the name of the Sokullu Mehmed Pasa, a prominent Grand Vizier in the Ottoman period. It was built on the site of the Aya Anastasia Church dating from the Byzantine period.

The beautiful calligraphy over the entrance to the mosque

Intricate carvings in the wall of the mosque

One of our members decided to photograph the carvings from a different angle

We carried on walking through the wet, rainy streets running with water

We found some interesting graffiti...

...very artistic!

Many of the buildings in this area retain their original form...

...and the streets are quite charming...

...as are some of its inhabitants.

Despite the weather, we had a really interesting day. Thanks to everyone who braved the weather.

Elizabeth Coughlan

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I couldn't resist this one!