Retirement gap year

Retired from teaching 2016, Paul retired from being at the university of newcastle in 2017, we have started Flaire Consulting and travel round the world.
  • Day2

    Sri lanka

    November 2, 2017 in Sri Lanka ⋅ 🌙 79 °F

    First day here. Spent at Hundira villa. Lovely hotel owned by a Swedish motorcyclist called Rolf. Very beautifully designed villa with lovely views over the lagoon. Our planned boat trip was scuppered by a torrential thunderstorm. However this did not stop us enjoying the birds and curry for breakfast was a highlight.Read more

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  • Day33

    Portugal 22 sept - 2 oct.

    October 1, 2017 in Portugal ⋅ ☀️ 64 °F

    We flew into and out of Lisbon, stayed in alcochete, coimbra and Lisbon.
    We had a lovely time in alcochete staying in an apartment owned by a guy called Riz. It was lovely weather and we went birding with a South African girl called Betty. Had some lovely days out along the estuary and some relaxing evenings around alcochete.
    Coimbra is a lovely hilly city in the north and has a huge university. It was freshers time and this meant that gangs of black tied and cloaked men and women wandered the streets night and day, chanting and singing. Paul was working so we were booked into a hotel just up near the university and walked up and down to get into the city. I did some exploring on my own and enjoyed the city, it felt very safe.
    Finally we spent three nights in an apartment in Lisbon. We absolutely love Lisbon and will come back in a heartbeat.
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  • Day1

    Port townsend

    August 30, 2017 in the United States ⋅ ☁️ 63 °F

    We arrived at the ravenscroft bed and breakfast at around 3 and booked into our lovely room. We had lunch at Quench and then went for a walk around the nearby port. We were really excited to find a barred owl perched on a tree.
    We ate a disappointing meal in the Alchemy wine bar and bistro.
    The following day after the best breakfast,(Friday) we booked to go whale watching. Had a fantastic time on the puget sound express and saw a hump back and a pod of transient orcas also saw loads of birds. We had lunch in San Juan Island supper at silver water cafe.
    On Saturday we wandered round port Townsend and did some shopping. We had a quiet afternoon processing our pictures. Sunday we went to Dungeness spit for a walk out to the lighthouse there. It was just beautiful, about four miles each way and really quiet with lots of wild life to see.
    Monday we took the ferry to Whidney island and did some lovely walking in another Fort and saw pelicans.
    Tuesday we got up early and drove to Seattle airport having breakfast by a long lake on the way. We travelled back with an elvis convention.
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  • Day1

    Seattle 19-29august.

    August 30, 2017 in the United States ⋅ ☁️ 63 °F

    We went to Seattle for five days, stayed at the vintage park hotel in a lovely quiet room on the tenth floor.we had fun exploring Seattle on the Sunday, tasting some hideous breakfast that got sent back at the space pinnacle, and wandering down to near pike market for a much better version of events at a little French place that did a fab brunch. Then supper at macmillans.
    On Monday paul was working and after watching the underwhelming eclipse he went to the conference and I met up with Carole's friend Patty, who took me to show me the Seattle skyline, the docks and her house plus a little Swedish dock area where I bought a board for cooking fish.
    On Tuesday we had a wander around again and paul had to work in the afternoon and I did a bit of light shopping.
    Wednesday we had a cruise around Seattle harbour and later ate in the Brooklyn.
    We had another wander round pike market and enjoyed a local brewery.
    On Thursday picked up our car and headed off to port Townsend.
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  • Day11

    14:06:17- 16:06:17

    June 16, 2017 in Slovenia ⋅ ⛅ 72 °F

    At five on 15 th June we went looking for bears. We were well wrapped up as Marcus had suggested and clutching cameras and binoculars we journeyed deep to the forest. Marcus explained that his family had owned the farm they run with the Na megi accommodation through several generations and the last four generations had all been born a different nationality. His grandfather was Austrian, his father Italian, he is YUgoslavian and his son is Slovenian. He showed us a disappearing lake which had bomb blasts in it as the area is military training country. Eventually we talked to the huntsmen. The bears are at the top of the food chain so they need to be culled, the meat is used and the skin, the same huntsmen also help find the bears for people such as ourselves who just want to see them in the wild. It is a job for them with many salaries so helps them subsist. They shoot for the government, sell the meat for themselves and find the bears for the tourists.
    We sat for two hours in an open hide, which was stilts of wood hammered together at a height of about fifteen feet, with a rough hewn bench and just enough room to put your feet. It swayed rather alarmingly in the wind and that and the fact that we were here to see real wild animals that can do humans damage was the subject of a few nervous thoughts as we teetered above the feeding station. The feeding station is actually for the wild boar who without encouragement to feed in the forest would do so down on the nearby farms. However, the bears have also discovered its food benefits especially the young bears and cubs.
    Two hours came and went with no sign of our bears and dusk was descending when the second hunter returned to say that at another open hide was a mother and two cubs. We climbed down and bombed through the forest and crept as silently as possible to the hide. This one was a good 25 feet above the floor and was much more sturdily made than the last. The mother and cubs were still there so we slowly climbed the ladder and sure enough the mother was in plain sight. Very moving for me as I promptly burst into tears, she was huge and very busy feeding. There was no sign of the cubs but later we spotted them playing on the periphery of the feeding area and she went to get them to feed themselves so we had wonderful views.
    On the way back it was dark and those in the front of the vehicle saw a fox cub and a badger.
    The next morning we drove to some wetlands near to Ljubljana and did some birding some of it off road which was very amusing and then drove on into the city and checked into the hotel. Typical conference hotel, quiet and well run but features less. We then wandered into the city and had a look round, it has been through many incarnations since roman times so is an eclectic mix of young and old architecture..after an evening at a restaurant called most (bridge) we went back to the hotel. Paul was then working in the morning so I went back into the town and did some light shopping, we met for lunch and after lunch was a great cloud breaking thunderstorm. It stotted down and we huddled under a market stall to get dry. Tonight we are due to eat at a restaurant called Manna. Hopefully tomorrow will go smoothly and we will be back home by the end of it, traffic and British airways permitting.
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  • Day9

    14:06:17

    June 14, 2017 in Slovenia ⋅ ⛅ 68 °F

    Today we went to the skocjan caves park.
    It was just amazing. It deserves a really great big mention with lots of descriptions of its vast scale but really nothing would do it justice. Only photographs.
    However it is worth mentioning the immense task the early explorers had, cutting out their steps from sheer rock and their paths looked most precarious.
    Their cafe too is worth a mention as they did fantastic and reasonably priced gnocchi.
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  • Day8

    13:06:17

    June 13, 2017 in Slovenia ⋅ ☀️ 77 °F

    We set off after breakfast to the next part of the adventure. Slovenia..it was hard to say goodbye to Willi and Marie and Angela and her family as we felt that they had made us so welcome we had become friends by the end of the four days.
    We knew it was going to be a long drive to Trnje which is where we are now. We had planned to stop somewhere for lunch and a journey break e traffic was awful with many bits of road under reconstruction. We came off to find somewhere to eat but ended up in a not so bad service station and shared a sandwich. having set off again we put Trnje into the Apple car play sat nav. Basically maps. We skirted round Lubjana and arrived at what was supposed to be Trnje only to find it wasn't and the real place was still one hour away. By this time we had been driving for five hours and were pretty fed up with the situation. However, there was nothing for it and we continued on our way.
    Worth the drive when we got here Na Meji as it surpassed our expectations. We had stopped for some provisions. Got the meal on to marinade and then had a lovely walk along the lanes before supper.
    After supper we partook of the home made brandies with our cherries. Not a great idea!
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  • Day7

    12:06:17

    June 12, 2017 in Austria ⋅ ⛅ 86 °F

    We went off after breakfast to see if we could find some hoopoes. We went down some lanes near the town and eventually found where we thought they might be. We parked up and were scanning the area when we were hailed by a park ranger who was quick to point out that we were not allowed to be in the park at that point as it was just for cyclists.. there was a fine of five hundred euros. We quickly turned round and headed out and instead went to look for bee eaters which were on the way to a place called wallern (spelled from memory).
    This was much more successful as we not only found their nesting cliffs but they shared them with some jackdaws who were most entertaining to watch. We took lots of pictures and then set off to go to Hungary along the iron curtain trail. We got a bit lost but eventually took a cycle path (no wardens around, nor cyclists) to the river separating the two at a bridge. We saw some cuckoos. It was so peaceful there. After that we went back to civilisation for lunch and had deep fried breadcrumbed cheese! It was particularly unpleasant and gave us indigestion. It was made even worse as it was masquerading as salad on the menu and it was mainly hefty calories.
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  • Day6

    11.06.17

    June 11, 2017 in Austria ⋅ ⛅ 75 °F

    We got up early despite the vastly indulgent evening and set off to do some birdwatching around the marina and the area nearby. We parked our car and wandered about. It was lovely and quiet and we had some good sightings of the usual suspects round a lake. There were many birds a long way away, and some nice sightings of ducks and ducklings and geese and goslings. We then went to St martins spa to meet up with the seewinkel guide to be given a private bird watching tour. We had a very acceptable lunch and relaxed until two when our tour began. Our guide was called Ronald and he took us in a brand new discovery jeep to various points to see the birds. Highlights were a male great bustard still with breeding plumage strutting his stuff around a meadow whilst the female played hard to get, both to him and our binoculars.
    We saw grey partridge and pheasants.
    The Pygmy cormorant was a first for us as well
    The inevitable stork and western marsh harriers were in evidence everywhere. Also buzzards and kestrel were plentiful. We spotted a pied avocet on the wing and many northern lapwing.
    There were Eurasian curlew in the field where the bustards were and we also saw the common cuckoo.
    Another highlight was the long eared owl chick.
    The Eurasian sky lark was everywhere and we more unusual western yellow wagtail as well as the common white wagtail. We saw some other common birds, stonechat, great reed warbler, common chiffchaff, red backed shrike, carrion crow, Eurasian tree sparrow,common chaffinch, corn bunting, yellow hammer, and icterine warbler.
    We had supper at the summer kitchen and then joined the dinner guests having the special meal at the hotel. It ended with a discussion about politics.
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