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.

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Sunny Spring Monday in Freo

The blue spring sky called me this morning, and the coffee called me this afternoon.

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The XWray Café in Essex Street hits all the requirements of a favourite place:  great vibe, delicious food and smooth coffee.

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Freo always delivers the goods.

It kinda sorta reminds me of France

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It’s a cold nearly-winter day in Perth.

This morning in addition to requiring caffeine, I required Feeling Like I Look Fabulous (because sometimes the best mood-enhancer – aside from coffee – is wearing The Right Outfit).

The definition of ‘the right outfit’ varies depending on my mood. It’s not an exact science; the jumble of clothes on my bedroom floor this morning is evidence of this. I ended up deciding to wear clothes I bought in Paris a few years ago…side note: every time I say a sentence involving the words ‘clothes I bought in Paris’, I fulfil one of my teenage dreams. It never gets old.

I digress.

This morning I had coffee at Ogilvie’s in Subiaco.

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Its rustic, old school decor makes me feel like I’m hanging out in an old farmhouse kitchen.

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It reminds me of a few cafes we came across in France so it seemed appropriate – while wearing my awesome French clothes – to get my Saturday caffeine and writing fix here.

Any caffeine-related Favourite Place needs a good vibe and excellent coffee. Ogilvie’s has both.

I’m feeling warm and pretty, and I’m drinking good coffee.

The world is as it should be.

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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South Beach – one of the best in Australia

Disclaimer upfront: I’m biased.

Disclaimer to my disclaimer: I’ve lived and travelled extensively across Australia, so I’ve experienced other coastlines…but I’m still biased.

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In some parts of the West Australian coast, the Indian Ocean greets the land with a gentle kiss. In others it knocks it over with an enthusiastic thump on the back.

I’ve not seen the vigorous greeting in Fremantle, but I haven’t had a full winter here yet. That may still come.

So far, South Beach has been a place to regroup, to exercise, to drink coffee, to catch up with friends, and to simply enjoy the view.

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There are two cafés at South Beach.

One is a beach kiosk with staff who are friendly and calm regardless of how busy they are. It’s a comfortable place to grab an ice-cream, hot chips or a coffee before, during or after a South Beach experience. You’ll be right at home in sweaty exercise clothes, or a swimsuit and towel with sandy bare feet, or in your best Going Out Thongs (aka flip flops). Kids can run around on the grassy foreshore, dogs can be on a leash at your feet.

The other café has delicious but expensive food (upwards of $25 for a lunch main). My experience is it’s really only worth it if you’re there early in the morning for a light breakfast or coffee on a weekday; on weekends it is packed and usually has a line-up. It’s not terrible, and clearly many people love it (hence the lines to get in), but lacks the right vibe for it to be a Favourite Place on Penny’s List.

That being said, South Beach as a whole is still a Favourite Place because of the views and the vibe – and the fact that really good coffee is only a short drive away.