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Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Clarke Quay, Singapore

Singapore's nightlife area

Clarke Quay was the busy commercial hub of Singapore, once the cargo services were relocated to a modern facility away from the centre of Singapore, the area was redeveloped. Its historic buildings were preserved and new buildings had to blend in with the old. The Clarke Quay area isn't anything special during the day time but at night it's popular with tourists and locals for its nightlife. There are restaurants, bars and nightclubs with live music in easy walking distance of each other.

Tourist boats on the Singapore river at Clarke Quay. The tall white poles on the right is the reverse bungy jump. The warehouses along the river have been redeveloped as restaurants.

The pedestrian mall that houses the bars and nightclubs in Clarke Quay. The huge canopy down the centre I think does detract from the colourful heritage buildings. The canopy provides protection from the weather, mainly rain!

Walking away from the quay, I got a good view of the Marina Bay Sands hotel, with the boat (cruise ship) shaped pool and garden area at the top. I like how the clock tower, one time it would have been the tallest building in Singapore is now dwarfed by modern buildings. Old and new Singapore.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Mortlock wing, State Library of South Australia

A gorgeous old library in Adelaide

This building was the first purpose built library in Adelaide, opening in 1884, the original colonial library shared The Institute building with the museum and art gallery. I love this building and enjoy taking visitors into it, most people are a bit dubious "a library?" but are amazed once they enter. My favourite comment was one that came out of the mouth of a child, who exclaimed "Hogwarts!" upon seeing the library.

The Mortlock wing from the outside, the modern glass facade is the new (2003) redevelopment of the library and a glass overpass leads into the Mortlock wing. Prior to the redevelopment, it was just called the Mortlock Library, named for a wealthy benefactor who left part of his fortune to the libraries board in the 1950s.

In the entrance plaza to the library is a statue to Robert Burns, a Scottish poet, well the most famous Scottish poet! The Caledonian society raised money for the statue to placed in a prominent position, in the early 20th century.

View as you enter into the library, the alcoves all have historic displays of different aspects of South Australian cultural history.

Looking back to the entrance from the glass overpass. There's no longer an option for the public to enter from the street level.

Heritage toy display in one of the alcoves.

The British coat of arms above the stairs.

The first floor has tables set among the shelves that are used as study areas. They're very popular with university students. I've never seen an empty table! It's incredibly quiet so a great study area.

The top area is closed to the public, I love the ladders that are on wheels so people can access the upper shelves.

The Mortlock wing as seen from the 'back' the side facing the S.A. Museum. The building was built in French Renaissance style, the interior besides being used by students, can also be booked for functions. Corporate events, dinners, wedding receptions all are held in the library. If it's booked for a function the Mortlock wing is closed to the general public so if planning on visiting, check the library website which lists the Mortlock wing closures.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Mt. Lofty Summit, South Australia

As high as you can go in the Adelaide Hills!

The Mount Lofty Ranges are the hills ( to call them mountains would be an exaggeration!) that run along the coast and are the boundary to the Adelaide suburban spread on the east of the city.

The highest peak in the Mt. Lofty Ranges is called M. Lofty (original name!) It was named by Matthew Flinders, who South Australian school children all learn about, as he's the explorer who circumnavigated Australia and mapped the coastline of South Australia. And named the things that he saw, including the highest peak in a mountain (well hill) range.

The Mt. Lofty summit is a viewing area to gaze upon the landscape below, it's also a very popular destination for the hardy hikers who do the walk up the hill. 

The obelisk was placed on the summit in 1885, before it was built a cairn was placed on the summit as it was used as a trig point for the surveyors when Adelaide (a planned city) was laid out. The obelisk was built in 1885 to do the same job. (More research!) Then in 1902 it was dedicated to Matthew Flinders who on the 23rd of March 1802 named Mt. Lofty. (I read the plaque!) During World War II access to the summit for the public was blocked as the obelisk was considered an important navigation device. Nowadays children climb up and down its base!

Looking across the Adelaide plain, the green area by the sea on the left is the open space that is Adelaide airport, unusual for a city airport in that it's in the suburbs rather than out in the open countryside.

The Summit cafe, on the left and the gift shop and tourist information on the right. The original cafe on the summit was destroyed in the Ash Wednesday bushfires in 1983, and eventually a much better facility for visitors was built. The cafe makes a very nice hot chocolate for those cold winter's days!

The fire lookout tour as seen from the carpark. The tower is manned during the fire season to spot fires in the surrounding hills and send out the alarm.

This sign really made me laugh. Someone stole the parking meter machines, there were 2 of them! So parking was free!

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Chiangi Airport, Singapore

Currently rated the world's best airport.

By whom? Skytrax, a consultancy that rates airlines and airports around the world. This is the fourth year in a row that Chiangi has been rated as the best.

Chiangi has 3 terminals and this year I've passed through different terminals twice. (There's a new Terminal 4 due to open next year) Thankfully the layovers were really short, just over an hour, so I didn't really make use of the facilities that Chiangi offers but took a few pictures none the less.

Many airports around the world have bright shiny terminals, Milan's Malpensa used to have horrible terminals, but last year I left from their new terminal and it was lovely. Architecturally Beijing's airport is the most interesting in my opinion. Kansai Airport in Osaka, to me was always the most efficient, I would time it. Twenty minutes, each time from the plane touching down, to clearing immigration, getting your luggage and clearing customs! The thing that makes Chiangi stand out is that it accommodates the long layover passenger, Singapore Airlines has Chiangi as their hub, so flights to Europe in particular have layovers that can be over 8 hours. 

The designers of Chiangi have incorporated things to do, Terminal 1 has a pool, you can go for a swim. There's a butterfly garden, various gardens to wander around in, cinemas with showing films that are free, if your layover is 5.5 hours or longer you can go on an organised tour of Singapore. There's a transit hotel in the terminal(which I love since I've used it!) for particularly long layovers you can have a nap, shower or just a rest before continuing on your next leg.

Like most major airports, Chiangi has a large shopping area for those who like to spend time shopping between flights!

Immigration in Terminal 3, the main part of the terminals are on the upper level so you go down to street level to enter the country (and exit the airport) Singapore being in the tropics, I like how the arrivals hall is bright, cool as it uses floor tiles and spacious, and breezy (with air-conditioning!)

These orchid displays were just in the passageways as you walked to the gates. 

The Skytrain shuttle which goes between the terminals, you can walk between Terminals 1 and 2 as they're not that far apart. After spending a multitude of hours sitting in a plane, just walking around feels good!

Chiangi has seasonal displays in the terminals, these ones are from Chinese New Years, hence the cute monkeys! They were advertising places to travel to, so London and the cherry blossoms and peaches are for Japan.

During day time flights, when taking off and landing, you can look down to the sea below and see crowds of cargo ships. They are parked waiting for a pilot ship to take them through the Straits of Singapore, there's quite a complex queueing system going on. How many you see depends on what direction you are approaching or leaving the airport.

These weren't a lot, when you fly closer to the southern tip of Singapore island where the strait is at its narrowest, there are many more cargo ships.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016


An incredibly simple dessert to make!

Time for a 'lifestyle' post! My most common 'go to' dessert recipe is tiramisu, it's very simple to make and delicious every time. There are also variations that can be included to make it even more delicious! Tiramisu isn't something you cook or bake, but rather assemble.

Tiramisu means 'pick me up' in Italian and the original recipe uses Mascapone cheese (a cream cheese). I've always just used cream.

Basic ingredients

Savoiardi biscuits (also known as sponge finger biscuits)
500ml of thickened cream (double cream)
instant coffee to taste
sugar to taste
sprinkles, chocolate powder, cake decorations

  • Boil water in kettle, pour into a medium bowl and add instant coffee, around 2 level tablespoons is enough. Less or more depending on amount of water and how much you like the taste of coffee!

Allow your coffee mixture to cool. If you put the Savoiardi biscuits into the hot coffee they disintegrate rapidly! You need cold coffee.

  • While the coffee is cooling, whip the cream, add a level tablespoon of sugar to the cream and whip.

  • Once the coffee mixture is cool, it's time to assemble the tiramisu. Dip the biscuits into the coffee mixture, don't leave them in too long or they disintegrate! (timing is everything in the making of tiramisu!) A quick dip in and out, enough to soak the bottom of the biscuit but not right through.

  • Lay the biscuits next to each other on the plate you plan to serve the tiramisu on. However many biscuits you use will depend on the size of the plate.

  • When you have all the biscuits lined up, put on a layer of cream.

  • Dip and soak the biscuits in the coffee mixture again and layer on top of cream. 

  • Add another layer of cream.

  • Another layer of biscuits and finish off with layer of cream.

  • After you finish layering, you can decorate with sprinkles, cake decorations. You can leave the sides exposed so you can see the layers or if there's enough left over cream, cover the sides with the cream so it looks like a solid cake.

The finished product.


instead of coffee, dip the biscuits in orange juice, and place slices of canned peaches in the cream layers. This variation is spectacularly delicious! Although a bit fiddly as the peaches slide everywhere!

Add chocolate or cocoa powder to the cream to make the cake more chocolatey.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Havana, Cuba


Sadly not a place that I've actually visited but it's on the list! A friend of mine was there recently, and I found that pictures that they shared so interesting I asked for permission to share them on this blog as well. 

The National Theatre

Tourists have been going to Cuba for years, as far back as the 1930s, the early Castro years saw the tourism industry die, but since the 1980s it's slowly taken off again. Cuba is very popular with European tourists and there are numerous daily flights from different cities in Europe, the Canadians as well have been holidaying in Cuba for many years. There are purpose built resorts for the tourists to stay in, but I love the pictures of Old Havana. That's what I would love to see, should I ever visit.

The buildings reflect the wealth that was around in the Old Havana days, some of the buildings, such as this one have been restored, others are in need of restoration.

Museum of the Revolution, beautiful building. I guessed it was a revolution museum as it had an old tank infront of it. Checked and I was right!

Cuba is also famous for its beautiful old cars, these 1950s cars were preserved for a practical reason as no new ones could be imported with the US embargo. They're a tourist attraction in themselves and used as taxis as well.

This view interested me as well, Soviet era housing, the apartment block on the left. The Soviet Union subsidised Cuba, and it seems that included their architecture, similar apartment blocks can be seen in eastern Europe.