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Hexham Abbey

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Every year, my family goes to the Queen’s Hall theatre in Hexham to watch a performance by the travelling theatre company Oddsocks. Usually we go in the evening, but this year my dad bought tickets for the afternoon matinee – presumably because of my brother (who is now 7). Before the performance, we met up with family friends who also always go to the performance for Sunday lunch. It was the first time Jan had actually seen Hexham in the light! Between the meal and the theatre, there was a little time to spare, so my grandparents suggested taking a walk to Hexham Abbey. There has been a church on the site of Hexham Abbey since approximately the year 674, but the current building dates from Norman times (1170-1250). Since the dissolution of the monastries in 1537, the Abbey has been the parish church of Hexham. The Eastern part of…

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As busy as…

draw and shoot

a beaver.BusyBeaver8


BusyBeaver4Where there is open water there is sure to be wildlife, but today is the first time I have seen a beaver in this part of the creek. It has obviously been busy in the area for a while, downing small trees and stripping off the bark for food. I’m not sure where its lodge might be located but I didn’t want to stick around for too long and be overly disruptive. Even with snowshoes on it is difficult to move quietly as the top layer of deep snow has a thick crunchy crust. Even so, some creatures are amazingly tolerant of the human activity on the periphery.

BusyBeaver3© Karen McRae, 2013

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Close Encounters in the Australian Reptile Park


Close encounters with various animals like snakes, lizards and alligators are a creepy idea. Definitely, an idea that will give goose bumps at the least to the faint hearted like me. However, one who’s keen for a close encounter as well as a personal touch of these sleeky and scaly creatures will give the thumbs up for it.

Encounters with living, ferocious and wild creatures can be done in a forestry enclave west of city of Gosford. This park, known as the Australian Reptile Park is situated in the suburb of Somersby, a few kilometres away from the CBD of Gosford and about 75 kilometres north of Sydney.

Getting in to this park will bring you to lush forestry and mountainous ranges as one passes through the Pacific Motorway. This view provides a glimpse of the secluded ‘jungle’ of the reptilian park.

Once inside…

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Where to Visit in 2014

Travel with Intent

Are you planning your 2014 travels yet? If so, the Lonely Planet has some suggestions for you.

Top 10 Countries for 2014

  1. Brazil
  2. Antarctica
  3. Scotland
  4. Sweden
  5. Malawi
  6. Mexico
  7. Seychelles
  8. Belgium
  9. Macedonia
  10. Malaysia
SOURCE: Lonely Planet Best of Travel Countries 2014

Top 10 Cities for 2014

  1. Paris, France
  2. Trinidad, Cuba
  3. Cape Town, South Africa
  4. Riga, Latvia
  5. Zurich, Switzerland
  6. Shanghai, China
  7. Vancouver, Canada
  8. Chicago, USA
  9. Adelaide, Australia
  10. Auckland, New Zealand
SOURCE: Lonely Planet Best of Travel Cities 2014

I am lucky to have the 3rd top country on my doorstep and it is definitely on my list to be visited again in 2014.  The Edinburgh Festival is still languishing on my bucket list and with the Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup taking place in Scotland this summer, there are plenty of excuses to visit.

For any of you with a tinge of Scottish blood, 2014 has also been declared Scotland’s Year of…

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Agahoza-Shalom Village



Bus rides across Rwanda have been filled with a chorus of ooh’s, ahh’s and camera shutters as we pass the rolling green hills covered in small cottages, idyllic village life and waving children, teenagers and adults. Essentially, any person within viewing distance would light up with a smile, and wave to us curiously, which is something that fills me with a very particular joy that comes with being an oddity in a foreign land – a mix between feeling like a celebrity and an alien.

This beautiful side of Rwanda is at odds with the purpose of our study tour, to learn more about the 1994 genocide. Its difficult to reconcile the Land of a Thousand Hills and Land of Eternal Spring with the horrifying footage of Interhamwe road blocks, anti-Tutsi chants and the constant refrain to stamp out the cockroaches that dominate the studies of ethnicity and genocide. To…

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