Tea Gardens Boatshed

Just before leaving Tea Gardens, we thought we should have our lunch prior to the long drive back. After talking to a few locals, we found out that one of the must-try places in Tea Gardens is Tea Gardens Boatshed restaurant/cafe. Situated along the beautiful Marine Drive, this restaurant offers spectacular views of the sea during the day, and is romantically lit during the night. It is also right above the waters, making one feel as if one is in a floating restaurant. Since it was a last minute decision, we just walked in without any reservations. And boy, was it packed! There were no more empty tables, and the ones by the waters were fully reserved as well. The waitress told us that we had to wait for at least 45 minutes to get a table by the water. Since we were already set on dining there, we decided to wait by taking a walk along the pier.

Tea Gardens

What a pretty assembly

Tea Gardens

Walk along the pier

Tea Gardens

Coffee and chips while waiting for our table

With so much time to kill and 2 growling stomachs, we decided to get some takeaway chips and coffee to snack on. The chips were surprisingly good! Thick, crispy and dense, from the nearby fish and chips store on the same street. Pretty soon, it was time and sure enough, we were given our table as promised, just by the waters. The good thing about sitting there was the gorgeous view, but the downside was the super bright and hot sun shining down on us the whole time! Thankfully we had our sunnies with us, so it wasn’t too bad.

Tea Gardens

Cabernet Merlot AUD$6.60

Saucer placed an order for the Boatshed Caesar Salad, deciding to be healthy on that afternoon. :) It was a wholesome salad consisting of slices of smoked salmon, succulent king prawns, streaky bacon, soft yolk egg, baby cos lettuce, white anchovy, crostini and crispy shaved parmesan. Even though it was just a salad, it was fulfilling and very yummy. The combination of seafood and greens was a nice change to the typical chicken salad that most other restaurants offer. Also, since it was a warm afternoon, the cold seafood and crunchy greens provided a refreshing touch!

Tea Gardens

Boatshed Caesar Salad AUD$20.80

Tea Gardens

Saucer and his salad

As for me, I opted for the Market Fish Fillet which came with roasted kipfler potatoes, baby spinach, black olive tapenade, truffled baby caper and drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette. It was definitely an interesting dish with a unique presentation, somewhat like a mini tower. It was my first time tasting the tapenade and I really liked it! It had a strong savory and slightly sour taste, much like concentrated olives in a puree form, and it went really well with the fish. What a smart way to pair it with! Even though the size of the dish didn’t look too big, it was surprisingly very filling. The fish was flaky and fresh, while the potatoes were roasted perfectly. It was indeed a well-balanced and delicious lunch.

Tea Gardens

Market Fish Fillet AUD$27.90

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Table by the waters

Tea Gardens

Enjoying the view

Throughout our lunch, we were accompanied with pelicans swimming in the water next to us. Apparently, they were really just waiting for us to throw crumbs to them. Such a funny sight. We were glad that we waited the 45 minutes to get a table here, because it was well worth the wait. We ended up leaving the restaurant satiated and happy, fueled for our 3-hour drive home. :)

Tea Gardens

The hungry pelican

Tea Gardens

Lunching at the Boatshed

Tea Gardens Boatshed
110 Marine Dr
Tea Gardens NSW 2324
Tel No.: (02) 4997 0307
Business Hours: Daily 8.30am – 4pm, 6pm – 8pm
Website: www.teagardensboatshed.com.au

Romantic Walk by the Beach

On our last day at Tea Gardens, we drove to Jimmys Beach located at Hawks Nest, for our final stroll before leaving for Sydney. Much to our delight, the beach was clean, peaceful and deserted! We must have chosen the right time to visit. The weather that day was a blissful change from the day before, warm and sunny with a cool and gentle breeze caressing our faces. It was the perfect weather for that romantic stroll on our baby moon.

Tea Gardens

Clean and peaceful at Jimmys Beach

Tea Gardens

Taking a dip 😛

Look at the gorgeous clear blue sky. It was the photographer’s dream indeed. We took the opportunity to capture several pictures of me with my baby bump. :) That was several months ago, of course. Can’t believe how time flies! Instead of a baby bump, I now have a baby!

Tea Gardens

Baby bump at 30 weeks

Tea Gardens

Another picture of the bump

Tea Gardens

Saucer enjoying the beautiful view of the sea

We wanted badly to take pictures of both of us together, but there was just no one around to help us do so! So, we resorted to taking pictures of our shadows instead. LOL!

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Us taking a stroll :)

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Saucer hugging the baby bump :)

Tea Gardens

Seconds before these shoes were almost washed away by the waves

It was the perfect ending to our short baby moon trip. :)

Tea Gardens

Gorgeous day at Jimmys Beach

A Taste of Ocean Breeze

After a couple of meals of steak and ribs in Tea Gardens, we decided it was time for a change. I was in the mood for something Asian, and we started searching for it. Situated along the beautiful Marine Drive, was a Chinese restaurant named Ocean Breeze. It looked romantically lit up at night, facing the calm waters and full moon, so we decided that was it. Since we were quite early, we managed to get a nice quiet table just by the window, complete with flowers and all.

Tea Gardens

Pork Chops

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Table by the window

It must have been quite a popular restaurant among tourists and locals alike, for we saw a continuous stream of people coming in for takeaway and the tables were constantly filled up. Thankfully, our orders did not take too long to arrive. The first to come was the Pork Chops in Peking Sauce. Until now, I am still not sure what Peking sauce really means, but it tasted something similar to sweet and sour, sticky and savory. The pork chops were deep fried first before they were mixed with the sticky sauce, and they were absolutely delicious! The pork was still crispy and hot, while the meat inside was juicy and tender (and perhaps a tad oily but that’s fine by me!). The portion was generous too but we had no problems finishing it because it was good.

Tea Gardens

Pork Chops in Peking Sauce AUD$15

Tea Gardens

Superb pork chop

As with most Chinese, a meal would not be complete without rice. We had the option of getting white rice or fried rice, so we chose the latter. The fried rice portion was for one person, but it was big enough to fill up 2 rice bowls, twice! So we each had 2 bowls of rice, scattered with plump prawns (somehow the angle of the picture below did not capture the prawns), chicken and ham. You know how some restaurants pre-cook their fried rice because it is such a commonly ordered dish, that you can taste the slightly stale or cold texture from the rice? Well, this restaurant did not do it. The rice came piping hot, even the prawns tasted fresh and succulent.

Tea Gardens

Fried Rice AUD$6

Tea Gardens

Plump and succulent prawn

Last but not least, to have a balanced meal, one must always have greens. The Mixed Vegetables dish was not on the menu, but when we asked for it, the lady gladly said she could put in the order for us. This was nothing extraordinary but a plate of fresh greens filled with cauliflower, broccoli, baby corn, carrots and mushrooms. We wanted our serving of greens, and we got it, so no complaints with that. :)

Tea Gardens

Mixed Vegetables AUD$8

Overall, we were pretty happy with our dinner, and were stuffed and satiated. The restaurant had al-fresco seats too, but it was too cold (<10C) during the winter to be sitting outdoors. If you happen to visit Tea Gardens and crave for Chinese food like we did, do pay Ocean Breeze a visit. I can imagine sitting outdoors during summer and facing the ocean would have been splendid.

Tea Gardens

Ocean Breeze Restaurant, Tea Gardens

Ocean Breeze Chinese Restaurant
79 Marine Dr,
Tea Gardens
NSW 2324 Australia
Phone: (+612) 4997 1247

Hog’s Breath Cafe

During our day trip at Nelson Bay, we finally tried one of Sydney’s popular steak place – the Hog’s Breath Cafe. This chain of restaurant is available in many major suburbs around Sydney so it really sort of didn’t make sense that we chose this place when we were all the way at Nelson Bay! But Saucer was in the mood for steaks and I was eyeing those delicious curly fries, so be it!

Tea Gardens

Signature Prime Rib

Tea Gardens

Hog’s Breath Cafe coaster

It was a cloudy day, with a promise of rain coming so we decided to go under covers just in case. Since we were early, we managed to get a nice table at the balcony, with a magnificent view of the marina. After browsing through their extensive menu, Saucer finally decided on the Rib & Steak Combo, consisting of a flame-grilled sirloin steak and a small rack of baby back ribs smothered with hickory smoked BBQ sauce served on Cajun rice. Oh don’t forget those lovely curly fries, which are dubbed as Hog tail fries here (how cute!). We loved the sweet and savoury sticky BBQ covered ribs and thought we should have ordered more of that. However, the same couldn’t be said about the steak, which was pretty ordinary after the nice viking cutlet we had the day before.

Tea Gardens

Rib & Steak Combo AUD$31.95

Tea Gardens

Loved the ribs

For a place that calls itself after a pig, we’re surprised to find that its signature is actually the prime rib steak. Hog’s Breath Prime Rib steak is slow cooked for at least 18 hours, then finished with a high temperature searing on a char grill to seal in the flavour. Sounds like something that we had to try! I opted for the Blackened Prime Rib, which was seared with a Cajun-flavoured blackened seasoning. I had it done medium, but it came out to me looking a tad well done. It could be the way they cooked the steak though, for after 18 hours, I’m guessing any meat would have been well-cooked! 😛 Just kidding! Apparently, the slow-cooking of 18 hours was done at a low temperature that would not over cook the meat. Anyway, we found the steak to be more flavourful than the sirloin that Saucer had, but we’d still prefer the texture to be more tender and moist. Even from the picture, you could tell that it was a little too dry. The saving grace, sad to say, was the Hog tail fries again. Usually the fries are the only item that we would not finish on the plate, but this time, both of us finished those crispy and yummy fries! It was well worth the carbs, I’m telling you. :)

Tea Gardens

Blackened Prime Rib AUD$22.95

At this point, both of us were already stuffed, but the weather took a turn for the worse. It started raining quite heavily and we thought, why not stay longer for dessert then? Our ferry was not due for another hour anyway. So we ordered the Mississippi Mud Cake from the dessert menu (it was the obvious choice for me!). Chocolate, cake and ice-cream, what’s not to love? The cake was served warm and moist, and the chocolate sauce was decadent. Couple that with the cold vanilla ice-cream, it was just a match made in heaven. I was this close to thanking the rain for making us stay longer and have this dessert. LOL!

Tea Gardens

Mississippi Mud Cake AUD$8.95

Tea Gardens

Notice that small glass of port! AUD$5.50

Tea Gardens

Saucer chilling out by the wharf

Overall, while the steaks were a little disappointing to us, we did not mind the pork ribs, the Hog tail fries and the yummy dessert. Most importantly, we had a great time enjoying the gorgeous view by the marina and listening to the sound of rain in the afternoon. It was just the right type of meal and environment for our baby moon.

Tea Gardens

View from our table

Hog’s Breath Cafe
Shop 16, Upper d’Albora Marina
Teramby Road
Nelson Bay
NSW 2315 Australia
Tel No: (+612) 4984 2842
Opening Hours: Lunch (11:30am – 2:30pm Mon-Fri), Dinner (5:30pm – Late Mon-Fri / 11:30am – Late Sat-Sun)
Website: www.hogsbreath.com.au

A Day at Nelson Bay

During our mini baby moon, we took a ferry from Tea Gardens to Nelson Bay to spend the day there. Nelson Bay is located on the southern shore of Port Stephens and is a popular location for dolphin or whale watching, fishing, diving and other water activities. Unfortunately, during the time that we were there, it wasn’t the season for whale or dolphin watching, so we missed out on those. Nevertheless, upon reaching the wharf, we were amazed by the many boats and yachts docked! It’s clearly a popular attraction!

Tea Gardens

Nelson Bay marina

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Birds of the same feather flock together

From the wharf d’Albora Marina, we walked a short distance to what appeared to be the town centre. Before that, we explored the d’Albora Marina which was an attraction on its own. There were several buildings filled with restaurants and cafes and of course, tourists and locals alike. We took our time to survey the area and to pick a place for lunch later. :) Yes, when you’re on holiday, food always comes to mind!

Tea Gardens

Saucer at d’Albora Marina Nelson Bay

Tea Gardens

Some of the many restaurants at Nelson Bay marina

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Commemorating the military of Nelson Bay

The weather during our visit was cloudy and windy, which made the day look gloomier than it should be. I just could not stop admiring the many yachts around the marina. In fact, we spotted a few that were on sale! *hint*hint* It would be nice to have a yacht where one can relax and unwind even for the short weekend, wouldn’t it? *dreams*

Tea Gardens

Boats around marina

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More boats

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View from the marina

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Path from the marina to the town centre

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Clear waters by the bay

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Nice and quiet beach

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Circa 30 weeks back then

A little update on our baby boy: It’s more challenging that I thought it would be to take care of a newborn, especially with breastfeeding. I thought that confinement month would have been the month for me to rest and relax, but boy was I wrong! It was actually the hardest month for me, having to juggle taking care of the baby and making sure that I had enough rest. Plus I lost a tad too much blood during the delivery (PPH) and had low haemoglobin count, which meant I was that much weaker. The night time during the first week was the first, when baby was hungry and my body had not produced enough milk yet. Thankfully, with patience and perseverance, I have managed to get the baby into a working routine that allows me to have somewhat a reasonable amount of sleep during the night so that I won’t turn into a zombie during the day. My problem though, is that because I’m so attuned to the baby’s cries, now every little sound wakes me up from my sleep! Yes, even a bird’s chirp would startle me, which prevents me from having a good rest. Well, 2 months have passed now, let’s hope for a better month ahead! Oh, looking on the bright side, the good part about all this breastfeeding and waking up in the middle of the night is that I have virtually flattened my tummy to my original shape and was able to fit into my jeans just after a month!

Tea Gardens

Jetty to wait for our shuttle back to Tea Gardens

Mystery Device Revealed

In my previous post, I mentioned that I had the opportunity to try out a new device to capture pictures under low light. What impressed me was its performance worthy of a good quality point-and-shoot camera, but in a super slim handheld mobile phone. Mobile phone cameras have come a long way indeed, and to be able to capture decent shots during the night is considered a pretty challenging task, even for full-fledged cameras. Therefore, I am happy to reveal my new found love for the Nokia Lumia 925, which is more than just a smart phone. It is an awesome camera!


The mystery device

When I first unboxed the phone, I thought the aluminium casing was pretty solid and sleek, without being heavy. It also had a huge screen, but not too big that it didn’t fit my palm. To me, it was the optimum size for watching videos and looking at photographs without having to squint my eyes. One of my concerns with using a touch screen was its responsiveness. I have had plenty of experience with various smartphones where the touch screen just wasn’t sensitive enough to my touch and it was frustrating to say the least. Thankfully, the Nokia Lumia 925’s touch screen was smooth and easy to navigate, even with my cold hands during winter.


Nokia Lumia 925

Being an iPhone user for the past few years, I was worried that I would find a Windows phone difficult to use. The first time I powered it on, I was presented with different tiles of different shapes on the home page and I thought, where do I start? Thankfully, each tile was pretty self-descriptive and after just a few minutes of trial and error, I was navigating through the phone with ease. Being a Windows phone, it has the capability of operating Office software on the phone itself, which is something I had never been able to do with my own phone. Imagine rushing your work report or finishing that spreadsheet while on the go, without having to turn on the PC. It’s quite fabulous.


Home page of the phone


Phone’s camera at the back – solid aluminum casing

Of course, what I’m more interested in with the phone is the camera at the back. As with most Nokia phones, it is powered by Carl Zeiss lens. The camera packs a 8.7 Megapixel resolution within a slim and lightweight aluminium body, and has a huge 4.5 inch HD+ display. When I first launched the camera application, I was presented with several modes: Automatic, Night Portrait, Sports, Night, Close-up, Backlight. Since I was interested in low-light photography, I chose the Night mode for most of my pictures. The good news is, there is even further customization possible since you can change the ISO and Exposure values for the optimum shot. Talk about a a full-featured camera in a phone indeed.


ISO and Exposure values are customizable

To test the phone’s camera, I made a night trip to the city to capture some of Sydney’s attractions. Since it was my first time using the phone, I set the mode to Night and left all the other settings to Auto. Here are some of the pictures taken using the Nokia Lumia 925 phone, under the Night mode with everything else under Auto (default). To further clarify, all the pictures below were not edited or touched up in any way (except for resizing), so whatever you see is purely the phone’s work. :)

Luna Park Sydney

Luna Park entrance

Ferris Wheel Luna Park

Ferris Wheel at Luna Park

After using the phone’s camera, here are some of the features that I like:

Touch focus – not only are you able to focus on the point that you touch, the camera will automatically capture the shot once you touch on the focus point. With my own phone, after I touch the focus point, I still need to touch on the camera button to capture the picture, and in the process, I might have moved or shaken the camera. Having the capability to touch focus and capture simultaneously allows for sharper pictures with less chances of movement in between.

Automatic Night mode – using just the default Night mode was good enough for most of the night scenery pictures taken around Sydney. This is definitely good news for camera dummies who have no idea what ISO or Exposure mean. Just let the camera do the hard work!

Image Stabilization – during the night of my outing, it was exceptionally windy around Sydney Opera House. There were many times when my hands were shaking due to the piercing cold wind during winter, and I was worried that the pictures taken would be blur. I was pleasantly surprised to find that while some pictures did not turn out as sharp as I would like them to be, most of my favourite shots were pretty clear. And if you look closely, they also have minimal noise level, which is very impressive considering my own point-and-shoot camera still has visible noise capturing night shots.

Nokia Smart Camera – This is an awesome app within the camera that allows users to capture a series of pictures in a row and chooses the Best Shot for you. I found this feature perfect for taking photos of a large group of people, where there is bound to be one or two persons blinking their eyes at the point of shoot. With this app, the camera takes a sequence of pictures within a short period of time, so there is going to be one perfect shot where everyone is smiling with their eyes wide open. And if you have an active moving baby, this feature is perfect! :)

Windows Instagram 6tag – There is actually an instagram client for Windows Phone 8. Well, a great camera certainly needs to have its channel for sharing photos. It’s called 6tag and allows you to upload picture and videos, apply filters, tag your friends, view posts on a map and so on. On top of it I am sharing with you other camera apps.


6tag for Windows Phone

Now that I’ve shared the features that I like about this camera phone, it’s time to share the pictures taken using it. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words!


Sights around Circular Quay


Boats docked at Circular Quay


Dining outlet at Circular Quay


Sydney Harbour Bridge at night


Sydney Opera House


The ever-popular Opera Bar


My favourite shot – Sydney Harbour Bridge

See how there is minimal noise level in all the night photos? I found that pretty darn awesome! I have to say that I now have new found respect for camera phones, after testing out this device. I love the fact that it’s slim and light weight, and fits into the palm of your hand. Also, with it being a phone as well, I actually don’t have to carry extra weight in my purse. Talk about efficiency!

If you want to find out more about the phone, visit http://www.nokia.com/my-en/products/phone/lumia925/
Retail Price : RM 1599