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Singapore gardens: Cloud Forest

Our next stop is the Cloud Forest, a moisture and temperature controlled environment, again enclosed with a glass and metal dome.

35 metre man-made waterfall and mountain

35 metre man-made waterfall and mountain

From seven stories above us, water falls down, splashing the paving and giving us a cooling shower as we try to take photos of each other posing in front of it.

Following the crowd, we walk in a clockwise

Plants growing on the side of the 'mountain'

Plants growing on the side of the ‘mountain’

direction, taking photo after photo in an effort to record the myriad colours and shapes that sprout from and cling to the sides of the ‘mountain.’



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Singapore gardens: Flower Dome


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Delicious fruit

Gardens by the Bay in Singapore is a truly amazing display of plants from most parts of the world (except the coldest) all cultivated on reclaimed land and all growing lush and healthy, despite the tropical climate. We took a guided tour around the outside of the two vast, glass(?) covered domes and past gardens set up to display edible plants, a children’s area, and those devoted to India, Malaysia, Colonial Singapore and many others. Cameras pointed in opposite directions from the open-sided minibus, between the two of us we managed to capture enough photos for a passable impression of the place.

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super trees

The Supertrees are not yet fully covered, but these metal structures have been planted with creepers and hanging shrubs that will ultimately reach the tops. All the work must be P1030701 (480x640)done from inside the cones, presumably using pots secured to the external metal walls. Already they look amazing.






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BOOK REVIEW in Saturday’s West Australian


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In his review on Page Turners (West Weekend magazine in the West Australian newspaper Saturday 25 April) William Yeoman said that my novel, The Green Velvet Dress, is ‘Perfect for book club’ and is ‘intelligent rural romance.’

I am very excited to have such a positive review and invite you to please read it all here if you missed Saturday’s edition.


Victoria Mizen Library Presentations


Last Tuesday, 14th April, the Library at Albany in Western Australia invited me to speak about my novel, ‘The Green Velvet Dress’ to an audience of twenty three interested and responsive guests. Wine and tasty nibbles put everyone in the right mood, and my presentation went well.

I talked about my writing life, starting with stories my grandmother created and the imaginary friend who was my first character in stories I told myself from the age of three or four.Continue reading


After our trip to Honfleur we ate dinner then walked around the town where our ship was moored at Caudebec-en-Caux.P1020350 (640x480)

The church was the largest building; DSC02506 (640x425)stone carvings, many of them minus heads and  crumbling, filled every niche in the external walls.



Most P1020357 (640x480) of the houses though, were elegant and well maintained. Water ran along a channel which was actually a drain, but, in true French style had been turned into a thing of beauty, with baskets of flowers and branches of weeping trees, decorating the stone walls.


On the way back to our ship we stopped to admire and photograph the cute garden figures in the window of the Corner Flower Shop.

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On Saturday, 7th June, we arrived at Caudebec en Caux, another quaint town which we explored that evening, but first there was a bus trip to Honfleur. Along the way the style of architecture changed to that typical of Normandy—

P1020239 (640x408)steep slate roofs with small dormer windows and timber slats on walls.

The countryside was lush and cattle, no doubt producing the milk for Normandy’s famous cheeses—Camembert and Pont L’Eveque being two of my favourites—looked very contented.


Arriving in Honfleur, we could see that this was a working fishing port, as well as a pretty tourist town. DSC02467 (425x640)Fishing nets hanging over timber rails were not just decorative, although they did provide some interesting photos. On one side of the harbor, where we left the buses, fishing boats were lined up and men wearing work clothes attended to their nets, engines and whatever else fishermen need to do. P1020285 (640x480)Hundreds of pleasure boats were also moored here and all around the harbor.

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Monet’s Garden


Monet’s Garden

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 The highlight for June 6th, and one of the ‘must sees’ for our cruise, was the visit to Monet’s house and garden at Giverny. Excitement was palpable as our group walked through the tunnel, the only way to get from parking areas to the other side of the road, where we began our tour.

On previous visits as soon as I entered the garden I was impressed by the carefully tended rows upon rows of spring annuals in every shade of pink, mauve, blue and yellow; the masses of roses climbing up and over large metal archways, covering walls, and filling several acres with their shapes, colours and perfume. Then, the garden was tended by volunteers.

On this occasion paid staff failed to keep up with the maintenance; weeds, up to sixty centimetres high, flourished amongst unkempt beds of annuals and the roses, many of them wilting, were in need of a few tons of TLC. To those who were visiting for the first time, and the non-gardeners, it still appeared a riot of texture and colour, but lacked the WOW quality that we expected.Continue reading

Paris to Normandy – River Cruise Begins

Arriving on board the Amalegro soon after midday, we left our luggage, already tagged with our names and cabin number, in the care of a charming young man who assured us that it would be taken to our cabin. Once the registrations were dealt with, we were invited to help ourselves to soup and sandwiches in the lounge.

????????????????????????????????????????????A quick stroll around the deck after lunch and we were summoned to follow our pretty young attendant to cabin 229. As this was my third cruise with Ama Waterways, I knew what to expect, but Sue’s smile was so wide I thought she might burst with happiness and excitement.

Exploring every cupboard and deciding where to put our belongings seemed to occupy most of the next few hours, although we also took loads of photos, big grins in evidence in all of them.

victoria mizen australian authorOne of the many occasions when we double bunked with another ship while docked.Continue reading

Last Day in Paris

We were up early, eager to make the most of our last full day in Paris. We had only a short walk to the Metro, but got side-tracked when we realised that many of the tiny shops along the street behind our hotel sold fur and leather goods. No customers were in evidence but it was too early for French shoppers. I couldn’t resist closer inspection, so we pushed open a few doors and wandered around, but soon discovered that they were all wholesale distributors. Nothing was marked, of course, and when I asked for the price of a divinely way-out feathered hat (a couple of hat wholesalers there too) we nearly choked and made a quick exit.

Consequently, our arrival at the Musee Marmottan, a longer journey on the underground than I anticipated, meant that we had a long wait in the queue. Standing in the rain for two hours was not part of my plan–on a previous visit this museum was still a hidden treasure and I’d gone straight in. When we eventually reached the ticket office we were confronted by a grumpy woman who refused to smile, or to excuse my poor attempts at French.

Despite the less than delightful start, we wandered around, entranced by Monet’s superb paintings. I had difficulty locating the gallery with the large waterlilly scenes, which I remembered as making me feel that I could walk right into the lake and pick the flowers. As this is a privately owned gallery, the staff did not feel obliged to attempt to understand or respond to my request for English directions, but with lots of smiles. ‘S’il vous plaits’ and attempts at describing the gallery I wanted, we retraced our steps and eventually stumbled on the right room. No photos permitted, of course.Continue reading

Paris in Two Days

Paris in Two Days

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It’s time for me to get back into writing, so I’m starting with tales of my travels last year with my sister.

Arriving on the Eurostar from London with heavy cases and hand luggage, we were tired, but eagerly looking forward to three nights and two full days in Paris before our river cruise to Normandy and back. After a long wait in the taxi queue we were directed to an old station wagon. I greeted the driver in French and showed him the confirmation for our hotel, with the address clearly printed at the top. It included the words Gare du Nord, so I assumed it was a district as well as a railway station.

With Gaelic theatricality, our man strode over to another taxi, thrust my paper under the driver’s nose and, although I couldn’t understand the words, his grunts and frowns made it clear that he did not want us as passengers. The second driver responded by lifting his hands in a tough luck mate gesture.Continue reading

Memories of Turkey “Gallipoli”

Last year I visited Turkey with a group of writers and photographers. Well, our leaders were a real writer and a real photographer, the rest of us were keen students. We all fell in love with the country and the people.

Some of you have already seen the pieces I’ve included below here today, but I hope you might enjoy them again, or just be patient while my new followers read them. Continue reading