Off to Mauritius

It’s been 15 months since we returned from our last overseas adventure and it’s time for another.

Our bags are packed, house is cleaned, Kindles are charged…and the dog is roaming from room to room wondering what’s going on.

We’re off to Mauritius (not the dog; he gets his own holiday with a house sitter who will spoil him).

We have nothing planned once we arrive. We’ll explore as the muse descends. There will, of course, be coffee. Meandering drives. Beaches. Delicious food. And other fun, interesting stuff. The details don’t matter.

While I’m not sure exactly what we’ll be doing – and I usually like to know such things – I am sure it won’t be emails, phone calls, budgets, strategies or meetings.

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I expect I’ll cope.

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Coffee Utopia in Fremantle

The first time I entered Dibella’s Roasting Warehouse on the corner of Little Lefroy Lane and South Terrace in Fremantle (Freo) I gasped in awe then clapped my hands together like an excited three year old. Yes, I really did.

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It’s a coffee-the-experience lover’s heaven.

(Note: coffee-the-experience is about so much more than coffee-the-drink. It’s about the vibe too).

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The coffee is smooth, strong and aromatic. The service is exceptional. The food is wide in variety, high in quality and reasonable in price.

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There are abundant options of home coffee preparation equipment and fresh beans for sale, and bicycles for hire. It’s perfectly located mid-way between the Fremantle Markets & South Beach – no more than a ten minute bike ride to each.

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It’s high on Penny’s List for Freo.

Coffee in Paris?

I used to dream of sitting in a café in France, drinking coffee, looking fabulous, and be adoringly gazed at by my lover.

Unlike most of my teenage fantasies, this one actually came true; although this particular post is less about the lover and ALL about the coffee.

France exceeded all my expectations when it comes to caffeine. I did not have a bad coffee. Each mouthful of each insanely cheap and exquisitely flavoured espresso I drank was pure joy.

I kid you not.

My very first coffee in Paris was in the Louvre:
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My primary motivator for patiently waiting for my husband and son to savour the Louvre was because I knew there was coffee at the end. I enjoyed the art and was awed by the sense of history in Louvre…but I loved the coffee there more.

Not only was the coffee magnificent, French wait staff make hospitality an art. Wherever we went, the staff gave us the feeling of being welcomed in to the warmth (We were there in December. Warmth was important.)

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(Notre Dame)

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(somewhere near the Eiffel Tower)

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(Marseille)

Honourable mention to the hot chocolates in France (and Italy actually). Thick, luxurious, decadent and delicious.

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(Marseille)

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(Aix-en-Provence) The dark brown, almost black liquid in the little jugs in the photo above is the chocolate base for the hot chocolate. Warm cream is in the other jugs. Mix, stir and delight in the sugary, chocolatey, creamy goodness.

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(near the French/Italian border)

France and Italy ruined us for coffee and hot chocolate anywhere else.

A delightful ruination.

A very Ralph road-trip to The Pinnacles

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My dad Ralph favoured back roads and short cuts – which were almost always not short cuts – for his Sunday Drives which usually happened on other days of the week.

In September he visited us in Perth, and we did a Ralph Road Trip to the Pinnacles.

It was of his quintessential back-road-short-cut meandering Sunday Drive on a Wednesday.

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Entry to the National Park is $11. Once in there are options to walk or drive through the Pinnacles, and the visitor centre hosts an interactive museum. I feel the same way about museums as I do about zoos, so that part was lost on me, but most folk seem to enjoy it.

The Pinnacles are part of Nambung National Park and are natural limestone structures formed A Long Time Ago.

This is the land of the Nyoongar people (also: Nyungar, Noongar), and Namburg is a Aboriginal word meaning ‘crooked’.

….Okay, I’ll ‘fess up. That’s the extent of my knowledge of the history of the area. I probably should have paid more attention to the interactive museum….

I do know the coastal towns of Jurien Bay and Lancelin are an easy drive (30 minutes north and 60 minutes south respectively).

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Being only 200km north of Perth this is – in West Australian terms – an easy day trip. Straight up the Indian Ocean Drive, it takes about 2 hours.

We, of course, did the back road short cut. Which took 4 hours.

But we saw some cool (and some slightly bizarre) things on the way:

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tree back roads

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The journey and the company he kept was always more important for my dad than the destination.

Italian hot chocolate, artisan gelato and beaches…what more could a girl want for Christmas?

Christmas in Australia is often BBQs, cold beer and running in sprinklers, swimming in pools or heading for the beach.

We were back in South Australia last Christmas doing the Family Thing; visiting parents, in-laws, siblings, friends. We celebrated Christmas Day five times. It was awesome.

Our fifth and final Christmas was spent a few days on the Copper Coast, on South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula with some of our family.

There, I was introduced to a delicious, unique, delectable, luxuriate-in-the-sugar-high experience.

Smack bang in the middle of farmland (this is the view from the carpark):

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is The Coffee Barn Gelateria.

They make (among other things) artisan gelato, truffles and Scottish shortbread slices…It seems I mostly took photos of the cream on top of the gelato or at the bottom of the glass after the gelato was eaten…

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They also sell magnificent Italian hot chocolate. A smooth, thick elixir of happiness…

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The service was fantastic, even though they were bustling with customers the day we went. With the rustic, country appeal mixed with high quality food and service, it’s clearly a magnet for tourists and locals alike.

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…and it’s close to the beaches, which – if you go on a day when the wind is playing elsewhere – are spectacular.

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The Copper Coast has some unexpected delights, a laid-back vibe, a wide range of accommodation options, and welcoming people.

It’s high on Penny’s List.

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Adelaide Zoo – a pleasant surprise (for a non-zoo-lover like me)

I don’t ‘do’ zoos. It’s probably more accurate to say I like zoos but I have a short attention span. I’m usually done in about two hours.

My husband and son LOVE zoos; would spend eight hours at a zoo given the chance.

This is how I feel about a full day at a zoo:
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I’m not a fan.

I am, however, a fan of Outings. When we were visiting South Australian in January we had an opportunity for an outing to the Adelaide Zoo with my mum and our nieces (Children of Penny’ List’s Penny).

Off we went – husband, son, mother, the Three Children of Penny, and I.

The last zoo I’d been to was Edinburgh Zoo in 2013 (and I ungraciously only tolerated that because it was, you know, Edinburgh Zoo). Before that, I think it had been over a decade since I’d blessed a zoo with my reluctant presence.

In my memory Adelaide Zoo was like a slightly tired, grumpy-but-not-nasty old lady; a great-aunt you visit once every four or five years because it’s a habit you grew up with and it’s the Right Thing To Do.

I was pleasantly surprised. Adelaide Zoo has been rejuvenated, redesigned, and re-energized. It doesn’t feel old and weary anymore.

There are many places to sit for a BYO picnic lunch, and cafés (I saw two but there may have been more) which sold tolerable coffee.

Oh, and the animals were cool.

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Also, there were some kitsch souvenirs in the gift shop:
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a coffee stop, and – my personal favourite – there was lying on the grass:
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It’s all about lying on grass in sunshine, drinking coffee and hanging out with people I love.