Goodbye Istanbul

  • Our last full day here we decided just to mooch around and do some shopping, Trev is getting quite good at it!! Went back to the spice bazaar and got some beautiful (very expensive) rose oil and some Turkish delight, would love to have bought some spices home but customs would love that.

Walked and walked and walked today.

This evening we went to a seafood restaurant on the bridge (where all the guys were fishing) it was recommended by the guy on reception at the hotel. Fabulous food and outstanding service.

Some observations on Istanbul:
No men wear shorts, and you don’t see them for sale in the shops.
THe shops in the bazaar and on the street are run by men. In the department stores you see women and in womens wear shops you see women, but other than that its all men.
I have been asked a couple of times whether I am Russian!!! Weird
The people are very friendly, you don’t feel, at any time unsafe.
Some of the waiters we talked to don’t like the current government and they say a lot of people are leaving Turkey.

Goodbye Istanbul, its been awesome.

Istanbul Day 3

This morning we went to the Grand Bazaar, we were there at 9am and it was very quiet, so was a great chance to have a look around. Tasted some Turkish delight, rather reluctantly because any that I have tasted in NZ is terrible, Oh my gosh was I wrong the real, fresh stuff is awesome.

There is acres of stuff, at times it is very over whelming especially when you are being hassled to buy. Some hassle you and others let you look.

This afternoon we went on a Bosphorus cruise, lovely day here and the atmosphere was clear which gave us great views. After the cruise we were taken up a hill where we could see a lot of the city – it is absolutely massive.

Tonight I went to a Turkish bath.

Was a fabulous experience, would recommend it if you are coming to Turkey.

The view from our breakfast deck of the hotel


Had a good look around, here is a picture of Trevor trying on some jeans lol.

Istanbul – Day 2

Big day exploring today. Woke up early after big sleep to catch up. Had breakfast on the rooftop of our hotel with amazing views (will put some photos up tomorrow of that).

Went down to the historic part of Sultanahmet (the area we are staying in) went to go to the Blue Mosque and read the information at the gate – no bare shoulders/knees and not shorts. Hmmm so off we went back to the hotel I put a longer dress on and got my scarf, Trevor put his jeans on.

Trev thought we should take a ‘short cut’ back to the Blue Mosque, so we ended up walking past a small ceramics shop, the guy dragged us in and we were there for ages, made a couple of purchases (probably ripped off) but he was a nice guy compared to the hassle that some give you. Then after all that, walked back to the Mosque, turns out they loan you the stuff if you don’t arrive with it haha, anyway my dress wasn’t long enough and I had to put one of their skirts on. Trev could have put one on too over his shorts (look at the guy in the photo behind me lol.

We have noticed in some of the gardens around Istanbul that there are these bushes which they must weave and prune to make them grow like this, pretty cool.

After the Blue Mosque we went to Hagia Sophia, this was amazing just for the shear wearing of millions of feet on the marble floors, incredible.

We wondered around and came accross a local artisan group who were in a courtyard with small classrooms around the edge where they taught the Turkish handcrafts of pottery, painting, marbling, ceramics, paper cutting etc you could take a day class there, great idea.

Then we wondered off to the underground cisterns, these were built by the romans to hold water for the nearby palace and are huge with big columns and some water still in them.

Had some lunch and got talking with the waiter it is now day 15 of Ramadan (which lasts for 30 days) they can’t eat before 8.30 at night and a lot of the restaurants and cafes are finding it tough on business. BUT at 6 o’clock at night they all come out and congregate around the blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia to socialise and then eat after 8.30. There are thousands of people. We wandered around this area this morning and it was very quiet, tonight was packed.

Everywhere you go there are cats, the only dogs you see are big ones like German shepherds or similiar.

After the cisterns we wondered down towards the waterfront. Came across the spice bazaar. The area around our hotel was quite quiet, but thousands of people were down at the spice market and waterfront. There was a bridge with traffic and people fishing on the top of it and underneath were lovely restaurants, they were catching quite small fish.

THe internet at the hotel is woeful and sometimes it won’t load photos, so fingers crossed this all comes out okay.



We have finally arrived after what feels like days of travel, getting good at catching bits of sleep sitting up though.

It was reasonably cool in Istanbul today 21 degrees when we arrived so very pleasant, could even have put a jersey on tonight.

The city is very green with heaps of parks and trees around, the amount of threes on the waterfront in the new part of the city is astounding.

Our hotel is lovely and is within a 5 minute walk from the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and the Grand Bazzar is only a 2 minute walk!! Although, sadly it is closed tomorrow.

Had a walk around this evening and came across a local artisan market, amazing stuff all hand made and several of them were doing demonstrations of marbling, wood carving, calligraphy, embroidery, wool felt, jewellery.

We were hounded a bit to eat at several different places, had a lovely dinner of a Meze platter, yum.

We tucked up in bed early tonight, try to keep ahead of the jet lag.


COOTS Challenge

Our COOTS (Central Otago Outside the Square) challenge for this year was ‘Inpsired by ….’. We had to choose a favourite artist and create a piece of work that was inspired by the chosen artist, not a copy of their work but showing their influence in our work. The completed piece was to measure 40cm wide and 1 metre long.

Amanda’s pieces inspired by Van Gogh

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Alison inspired by Picasso


Anne inspired by Pat Hodson, this piece is made from three layers of ‘tea-bag’ paper and is very ethereal, looks great with light coming from behind it.

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Angela inspired by Sandra Meech based her felted piece on photos from time spent in Orkney.

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Jeanette was inspired by Hundertwasser

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Jenny Greer by Fritz Busse

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Jenny Tayler by David Hockney (we can all see why, they share a passion for vibrant colours)

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Pamela inspired by Julia Watkins flowing shapes

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And my piece inspired by the paintings of Lyonel Feininger, the buildings that form the basis of this piece are from a photograph I took in Bath, England last year. I used Feininger’s chimney pot shapes for the ‘people’ in the foreground, using my graffiti fabric – with a nod to my mark making body of work.

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Today we were up early once again and driving to Squamish. It is about 40 mins out of Vancouver. An old mining town, because the sightseeing gondola was closed we decided to go to the Mining Museum. We had a guided tour into the mine (our own private one as it is the off-season) it was fascinating to learn about the huge copper mine, it had over 200 kms of tunnels, most closed off now and filled with water.

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The picture below is called ‘The Chief’ it is a huge granite mountain, seriously the photos do not do it justice it is massive and pretty much straight up. There is a track you can climb it and some people base jump off it.



We met up with Jordy and Kim (Pat works with Jordy) and they live in Squamish. They showed us around a little bit, took us to the water’s edge, its like a fiord, beautiful place, surrounded by tree-covered mountains that rise straight out of the water. They also took us to a kind-of dam we stood on it and then walked down a track and looked at it from below, the photos don’t show how high it was.


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They then told us how to get to Shannon Falls as it was on our way back to Vancouver. The falls were massive and really loud, once again the photos don’t do it justice.


Once again Pat’s expert driving got us back to the city, Hayley and Pat reluctantly dropped off the rental car and Hayley and I had a wander around in the city, they are just starting to set up for Christmas, it will be a beautiful show once all the shops etc are all decorated.

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We then headed down to Canada Place, on the waterfront and had bubbles outside at the Bellagio mmmmm yum. They have Italian Prosecco at every restaurant you go to, I could totally get used to this.

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For dinner we went back to the Granville Island where the markets are and had a beautiful seafood dinner at the Sandbar, we had the best seats right in the window overlooking the water.

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Here’s Hayley and I with the required gumboots and umbrellas – dining out at a beautiful restaurant…… only in Vancouver!! Hayley with her ‘Tea’ advent calendar getting ready for 1 December.


Have had a fantastic whirlwind time with these two, need to go home for a rest ha! Will miss them and it was a pleasure spending time with them both, showing me around their beautiful city. xox

Nanaimo, Vancouver Island

This is our cabin at Nanoose Bay.


This morning we got up and Pat and Hayley went for a bush walk, it involved ropes, so I opted to stay at the cabin and clean up etc!! Then we drove into Nanaimo.

Oh an observation on this part of the world, everyone drives around in massive pick-up trucks or SUV’s, they are huge, they make our Toyota Hiluxes and similar vehicles look like toys, seriously there are thousands of massive trucks here and they are normal!!

Anyway, look what we saw! Cabelas, oh my goodness this is Hunting and Fishing on mega steroids. We were talking to one of the salesmen and he said the shops in the USA are huge, they have casting tanks so you can try out your lures in the water, rifle ranges etc. had a great look around it was an ‘activity’, not shopping, could have spent ages there, like a kid in a candy shop. Here’s some pictures for Dad and Pat Paulin, ha!!

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Then back on the ferry, this time we took a different ferry and it docked at Horseshoe Bay, just on dark, thank goodness Pat knew where we were going as it was peak hour traffic, he did a great job to get us home. And just to prove that the sun does come out in Vancouver, some pictures from the ferry.




Vancouver Island

Got up at 6am this morning and headed to the Ferry, took the car on, it was a 7 level ferry and a lot nicer than the old Cook Straight ones. It rained hard all day today. Got off the Ferry at Victoria and had lunch. Pat had a Ceasar (a bit like a bloody Mary), a national drink here he also had Pontine (also a national dish here, made from hand cut potatoes, with cheese and miso gravy)


We then went to one of the top 10 book shops in the world, it was really cool and had quilts hanging on the walls yay!

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Then we went to the bug zoo. So funny, the ant colony was amazing. Pat got to hold Aurora the pink tarantula. Hayley held a Stick thing.


We then headed to Nanaimo a couple of hours away. Had dinner there and the maitre d was a kiwi. it was raining hard and the road was really covered with water and visibility was dodgy, Pat did a great job driving. We are staying at a cute little cabin the woods through Air BnB.

Wow an action packed day

Yesterday Hayley and I bused and trained out to a suburb to a large shopping mall and had a good look around in the relatively calm surroundings of a shopping mall. Good to have a look around without the hassle of traffic and lots of people. Went back into town to a hotel liquidation place to look at bed linen etc.

Last night we went to Kooza the Cirque du Soleil show. It was incredible. The show was action-packed and edge-of-your-seat acrobatics. Some times I wasn’t sure I could watch.

This is the outside of the tent and foyer area.

When we emerged from the show, in typical Vancouver fashion it was HOSING down, so much rain. Of course we didn’t take an umbrella and the puffer jacket was not waterproof!!. Couldn’t do much but laugh about it. We ran a couple of blocks to some shelter and ordered a taxi, it took a while, but we eventually got home wet and dishevelled.

Today we hired a car, Pat was so excited to be driving. Together with Hayley and Pat’s flatmate, a lovely little Irish girl called Fiona, we heading up into the mountains. First stop was the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park a totally amazing park that has treetop walks and a huge suspension bridge, and catilevered cliff walk. We were really blown away by the whole way it was constructed, very sturdy, done tastefully and was totally beautiful.


  After that we headed up to Grouse Mountain.  It is a ski-field, but has lots going on during the summer as well. The gondola made ours look like dinky toys. We had lunch there and wandered around, it was -1 degrees as they obviously had snow at the time last night when we were getting the torrential rain! We saw one of the two bears there and the wolf. The bear came out especially to see us and headed straight back in, we were so lucky that he chose that time to come out for a look. It looks like a fun winter mountain and so close to the city is pretty cool, they have night skiing here till around 11pm. Hayley and Pat can’t wait to get started with the season.


 We then drove to deep cove, this little village reminded us especially of Akaroa and little bit like Picton.   
Headed home to go out to dinner to the ‘Dine in the Dark’ restaurant. A restaurant where you arrive, sit outside, choose your meal options and drinks. I chose ‘surprise me’ for entree, main and dessert.  To get into the restaurant you stepped inside the door to a very small foyer that had a dull red light, your blind waiter asked you to form a train and he guided us to our tables. Oh my goodness!! it was a surreal experience, um it was totally dark, I mean you could not see a thing. I could totally understand if someone had a panic attack in there, we found it hilariously funny (nervous hysteria) it was a fun experience and made us very appreciation of having our sight. I don’t totally know what my meal was but I think it was some kind of mediterranean entree, like brushetta, the main was a rissotto with a meaty kind of fish and some veges and the dessert was a kind of cheesecake tart.

An action packed day. Packing my bag now for a couple of days on Vancouver Island.

Great day to be out and about

The sun was shining it was a beautiful day and I got to see the mountains around Vancouver.

We started off today by having our morning coffee at Pat’s favourite cafe. 
In Hayley’s neighbourhood we have seen two of these, both different, they have books in them that you can take books from and put books into for anyone to use.

We went to Michaels which is an upmarket craft supply store it’s huge, then we went to Indigo which is a large book store. Came back to Hayley’s neighbourhood and had a beautiful fresh salad lunch, looked around some shops, got supplies in to cook her flat mates dinner yum. A great night.

 This was a block of cheese!! It was huge just the right size to fit on crackers.

Vancouver is a beautiful city, very clean and lots of trees. Walked through a lovely community garden today.