Breaking up my week-long coverage of anti-sexual assault books…

Today we picked up our passports with our shiny new Chinese visas in them. Life is SO much easier when you live in Canberra – the capital city – and no embassy is more than a fifteen-minute drive away! I’ve seen some very stressed people from interstate FLY in to try and sort out their visas. It seems like a nightmare (the poor man from Adelaide I saw last week…).

Am I apprehensive about some aspects of this trip (at the beginning of November)? Yes. Do I have political things to say? Yes, but I think it’s better to stay quiet until then.

My visit to China won’t be long. And I’ll be sharing rooms with my brother. Hopefully they don’t do what they always do, and assume we’re a couple on our honeymoon! Once, in Thailand, they upgraded us to this fantastic, swim-in-swim-out honeymoon suite, and we had to turn it down!

Sonya Natalia Heaney Chinese Tourist Visa 2018

The Week: 1st – 7th October

^^ The Royal Australian Air Force Roulettes flying over Old and New Parliament Houses in Canberra on Saturday afternoon (I took the picture from the car, so it’s not perfect!). New Parliament House turned thirty this year, and the celebrations were held this weekend.

What a week. For me it began in Qatar on the Arabian Peninsula, trying to stay awake through a 9.5 hour layover in Doha (note to self: flights from Manchester to Canberra have no good connection times!).

I arrived home on Tuesday morning, after two days of travelling, to the most gorgeous day. However, it was a real shock to see just HOW dry it is in Canberra. There was dead, yellow grass before; now it’s basically just dirt. It’s a huge contrast to green, green Ireland, and northern England, where there was a drought this summer, but nothing like this.

I didn’t get a chance for jetlag because it’s spring here, our local birds have had babies, and the desperate, overworked mother magpie has figured out which one is my bedroom window, and knocks on it with her beak at dawn until I get out of bed and give her some food for her kids!

Our recently deposed Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, had his penthouse by the lake up for sale this weekend. We actually parked outside the entrance to the building when we went out for lunch, and it was SO tempting to go in and have a look at it!

Yay for daylight saving beginning, and boo to all the countries losing their minds and getting rid of it. How could you possibly hate having an extra hour of daylight in the evening in summer??

My week finished with my passport sitting at the Chinese embassy, waiting for a visa – it’s not long before I’m off again.


Spring in the Garden Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 2nd October 2018

Virgin River on Netflix

Virgin River by Robyn Carr

Yet Another Netflix Adaptation

Stealing Home (The Sweet Magnolia's Series #1) by Sherrly Woods

More Trademark Issues

Harlequin Manga


Spring in the Garden Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 2nd October 2018

Spring in Canberra!

Well, I’ve made it home after an epic 42-hour journey from rural Derbyshire to Canberra. That’s a two-hour drive to Manchester (however, we got to drive past Lyme Park – Mr Darcy’s home in Pride and Prejudice 1995), a six-hour wait at Manchester Airport, a seven-hour flight to Doha, a nine-hour layover in Qatar (which wasn’t so bad, but the lounge needs to serve something better than heavy chardonnay!), a fourteen-hour flight to Sydney…

…And it stopped there for other travellers, but we had to disembark, go back through security, and re-board the *Same Plane* a few hours later to fly on to Canberra. It’s ridiculous to go through all of that when the flight between Sydney and Canberra is never more than half an hour! On the other hand, it’s pretty surreal being almost the only person travelling on a giant Boeing 777.

The sunshine and warm weather (mid-twenties when I stepped off the plane) were a nice surprise, as was the smell of spring in the air (though not the hay fever that immediately hit!), and the fact half our local wild birds had dropped by the house within half an hour of me arriving!

Now I can catch up on all those blog posts I want to write…

Jane Austen Things

I’m not the biggest fan of Pride and Prejudice 2005, and it infuriates me that people think Chatsworth House is meant to be Pemberley (Mr Darcy’s home – and it isn’t!).

However, the visit to Chatsworth today was pretty entertaining from a Jane Austen perspective.

Proper pictures later, but for now, here’s Mr Darcy’s bust from the movie, plonked in the middle of the souvenir shop. You can buy your own miniature version for £50 (I managed to restrain myself 😁). (Please excuse the colour differences. I didn’t edit the pictures, but they were taken on two different phones!)

The sign underneath it asks people to please not *kiss* it!



And here is the signed copy of Longbourn I bought. I already own it in ebook form, love it, and reviewed it HERE.


Jane Austen Territory

I have one week left of this trip, and it is being spent in a cottage in England’s Peak District. In the village of Bradwell, with horses riding up our street, the area looks like something out of a Jane Austen adaptation.

We had lunch next to Chatsworth today, and then stopped in Bakewell, where Austen allegedly wrote Pride and Prejudice.

This is one part of England I haven’t visited before, and so far it is even prettier than I expected.

Our cottage:


The view from my bedroom:


Historical Romance Fans!

When we arrived in England two days ago we were too early to get into our accommodation in York, so – naturally! – time had to be spent visiting the nearest stately home to Leeds airport: Harewood House.

This is not the first stately home I have visited, and not the first I have visited on this trip.


However, personally, when I read historical fiction I tend to forget just HOW grand the lives of these characters were. Harewood is not the biggest, but it’s the one with royal connections, and the Georgian influences are gorgeous.





Downhill Demesne

I read and review plenty of books about 18th/19th century aristocrats and their estates (and scandals) on this blog, and yesterday we visited Downhill (or what’s left of it!), which is in County Londonderry in Northern Ireland.

Built by the bizarre English aristocrat Frederick, 4th Earl of Bristol and Lord Bishop of Derry – yes, he was both – the house is now a ruin, but the Mussenden Temple perched on the cliff at the edge of the estate survives. It is said he kept his mistress there.