I’m not lost, I’m adventuring…

I’m a meandering kind of adventurer; less Bear Grylles and more Winnie the Pooh.

During a recent work trip in the UK, a day off appeared and it was time to go adventuring.  The waiter at breakfast overheard me tell a colleague I might visit Ilkley.  She approached me across the pastries and fruit to suggest Haworth would be better; she said it was her village and it was nicer than Ilkley.

She wrote down the directions.  It all seemed clear enough:  ‘Catch the train to Keighley.  Walk up the high street and at the L bus stop, catch the bus to Haworth.  Smiley face.’

I’m a sucker for a well-drawn smiley face, so I changed plans and ventured forth to Haworth (Bronte sisters country).

I boldly caught the train.  Once at Keighley I confidently strode up the platform.  The High Street, I was certain, would be proud and obvious.  The L Bus Stop would have a bright, clear sign.

It wasn’t, and it didn’t.

The station was on a busy road with several offshoots.  I glanced in all directions and decided – with no evidence – that turning right seemed like A Good Idea.  Surely that way lay L Bus Stop.

It did not.  I found a bus stop which said ‘M’, so I assumed I was close but I was venturing further into a part of Keighley which was clearly not central.

I purposefully turned and headed back toward the railway station.

I was a bold, fearless adventurer.  I was not lost, I was merely exploring options.

Thirty minutes later I’d passed the train station, turned up a busy-ish road, discovered no L Bus Stop, turned back, and eventually found another bus stop marked ‘M’.  There were many ‘M’s, but not an L to be found.

I don’t normally do Asking For Directions, but I was nearly 2 hours into a journey which should have taken me 45 minutes.  I got on the next bus and – assuming the pronunciation was phonetic (not my first mistake for the day) – asked the driver how to get to Haworth.  He looked at me blankly.   I repeated slower and firmly, “Hay-worth”.  Silence.  “Hayworth?” with a question in my voice.   No response.  I dug out of my pocket the wrinkled paper with smiley-faced-directions and handed it to him.  His face showed recognition and slight frustration, “Oh…Howith.

He gave me  a list of directions in rapid succession, nodded me out of his bus, and drove off.

I stood bemused and befuddled (very Pooh-esque), staring at the departing bus.  A kind and mildly amused gentleman, who was getting off the bus during my conversation with the driver, repeated the instructions and pointed out landmarks which would help me know I was getting close.

Victory was mine.

I reached the elusive L Bus Stop and, 20 minutes later, Haworth.

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The country lanes inspired thoughts of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice (I know I was in Yorkshire and P&P was set in the south, but details like that have no place in imaginings).

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The moors were moody, the cemetery evocative and the whole vibe took me back to being an angst-filled teenager dreaming of Heathcliffe.

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Also, I had flashes of Kate Bush’s dancing in her Wuthering Heights song.

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It was a perfect day of being a 21st century adventurer(ish), dreaming of an 18th century hero, pretending to be a 19th century heroine, with a 20th century song in my head.

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Incidentally, I never did find the high street.

 

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View from above

We arrived in Malta two coffees, three flights and twenty two hours after leaving Perth.

The scenery from Dubai to Malta (via Cyprus) has inspired me.

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I’m not yet sure exactly what the sky-high view has inspired me to do.

I could easily pen a post-modern navel gazing piece of prose about the relative magnificence of our planet and the insignificance of life…but that would not do the muse justice.

I could attempt to understand the geology…but that would kill my inspiration.

I expect I’ll simply have another coffee and add those places to the Next Trip List.

Go for an in-person view.

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When friends drop in…

A few months ago when we moved into our new house, I declared, with sweeping gestures, that I required the deck and small yard to be Fabulous.  It must be noted I had no idea what that would look like; I just knew I’d know if it was…you know?

Sadly, I lack the skills to make that happen.  Happily, my husband – with a little help from the Boy – does not.  With a bit of creativity, not much money, and many many visits to Bunnings (during which I repeatedly, loudly sighed ‘I’m BORED’), he created a perfect Favourite Place.

It can be many things: a lazy sunny afternoon reading spot…

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…a breakfast bar with an odd metal menagerie, most of whom look suspiciously over-caffeinated…

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…an at-home campsite…

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…or the perfect place for a mellow dinner…

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It’s versatile, inviting and creative.  It’s fabulous.

Today when friends dropped in unexpectedly, it was easy to throw together a Penny Platter (you probably know this as an antipasto platter.  We name some things after my sister-in-law because, well, we can.  Also, the alliteration is appealing)…but I digress.  Back to my point:  Penny Platter, coffee, good conversation with most excellent people, hanging out on the deck.  A few delightful hours.

Favourite places can sometimes be – literally – on your doorstep.

Loud voices, blue skies and tall trees

The road trip sing-along is a place of no judgement.  No matter how bad, there is an unspoken agreement that everyone sounds fabulous.

Last week we road-tripped down to the amazing Karri forests in south-west Western Australia (WA).

We fired up the iPod, and – covering all decades and many genres since about 1955 – we sang loudly.  Badly.  Proudly.

Between Perth and Pemberton there are many delightful places to stop, wander, explore.  We took a vehicular stroll through dairy farms, orchards, forest, and small towns.

At Coffee O’clock we stopped in Donnybrook. The boys’ iced coffees were served in 1ltr preserving jars.  The coffee was…acceptable.

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Two hours later we arrived in Pemberton.  Well-trained by childhood road-trips, I sniffed out the bakery for lunch, then gravitated to a stall on the side of the road selling delicious locally made jams.

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Fully loaded with saturated fat and sugar, we went on to the second-highest fire lookout tree in the world; the Gloucester Tree.  This is a magnificent tree with an un-magnificent name.

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Mark has a fear of heights and no intention of ever climbing it; I’d done it before so felt no need to subject myself to the terror/exhilaration again.  Kobi climbed the tree and returned satisfied to tick that off his bucket list.

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There are several options for bushwalking and we chose a gentle 1km meander through the ancient forest.

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The drive home took us through more forest as we weaved our way back to the freeway.

It’s a great day trip.  If time permits it could be a relaxing 3 or 4 days of exploring; there’s plenty of accommodation options and an ample supply of scenery, wineries, and bakeries.

The drive lends itself to singing, warbling, crooning and even in-your-seat dancing.

That being said, my dramatic, interpretive homage to Gene Pitney’s 24 Hours from Tulsa – a favourite of my late father – may have been taking it too far.  I think even dad would have changed the song.

And told me never to do it again.

The Mum and I; co-ordinating our adventure…

I’m not a naturally organised person.  I am, however, a big fan of preparing (read: controlling), so when our family travels the usual pattern is for me to do the bulk of the pre-planning.

Once we’re at the airport my brain switches off.  The task of being the travel-coordinator-and-holder-of-all-knowledge transfers to my husband.  It’s up to him to remember where important documents are, what time we need to be places, what we’re doing on any given day, and where to find the good coffee.

In November I’ve been offered an opportunity to travel to the UK and Malta with my work.  After the work is complete, I’m meeting up with my mum and we’re off on a two week adventure through the UK, the Netherlands, Belgium and France.

Mum and I haven’t travelled together for over two decades.  I was seventeen and my strongest memory of that trip is of me having a tantrum in Sydney.  No idea what it was about, I just remember what I was wearing and that I had sweet hair-flicking-foot-stomping skills.

I was probably upset because I couldn’t have something my way.

According to my mother, for this upcoming trip, it’s my job to have my brain on for both the pre-planning and the execution.  She tells me I’m the coordinator.

I’m looking forward to sharing with her some of my favourite places, and exploring new favourite places together.

These places may (will) centre around coffee and I’m confident there will be no tantrums.

Because I’m the one in control.

Did I say in control?  I meant coordinating.  I’m the one coordinating.

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Perth is my holiday romance turned True Love…

I haven’t lived there for years, but deeply embedded in my psyche are a few things which are a result of growing up in South Australia. I have an unwavering affection for Fruchocs, Kitchener buns, and yiros.  I secretly blame Queensland and New South Wales for ruining the Murray-Darling basin.  Colin Thiele is my literary hero.

And I still pronounce chance ‘chahnce’, example ‘exahmple’ and transfer ‘trahnsfer’.

South Australia is like my best friend from high school; we share memories, we will always be connected, but we don’t see each other often.

I currently live in Perth (Western Australia).  I don’t love Perth like I love South Australia; my feelings are less deep-abiding-friendship and more passionate-holiday-romance.

My niece and my mother visited us last week.  We shared some of our Favourite Places and the crush I have on Perth got stronger.

Most of my Favourite Places are in Fremantle…

Theobroma Coffee Lounge (what’s not to love about good coffee and a red stiletto made from chocolate?!):

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Fremantle Markets (always good shopping, people-watching and food; including South Australian mettwurst and the glorious mystery that is fritz):

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South Beach put on some spectacular winter weather.  Hours were spent walking on rocks, digging holes, and enjoying sunshine on shoulders.

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When we ventured away from Freo, we enjoyed the always excellent beverages, creative gifts and friendly folk at Kookery in Subiaco:

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And King’s Park.  Glorious, fun, and something for everyone in any weather:

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My family make my heart smile.

When I can explore a city I love and drink good coffee while I’m with my family, life is probably as close to perfect as it can be.

I can order Fruchocs online now, so if I find yiros in Perth as good as those in Adelaide…well, there’s a chahnce I could live here happily ever after.