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…

IMG_0017   20140816_135159_resized

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

1962641_10152339384570025_2595216558814017200_n    10482747_10152339384605025_8284067466767204269_n

…an at-home campsite…

10665848_10152264555735025_9012597623067455441_n    10342893_10152323467960025_5730107030328703792_n

…or the perfect place for a mellow dinner…

IMG_4144

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.

Advertisements

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.

???????????????????????

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.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES                      ???????????????????????

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.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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

???????????????????????

IMG_4090 IMG_4108   IMG_4098

IMG_4104  IMG_4120IMG_4111  IMG_4116

IMG_4127

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.

brasserie  IMG_4877

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?!):

10507154_10152176917875025_3653978361959107847_o

10462466_10152169228210025_7460425539197849068_n

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

10553432_10152167541925025_5137169912654925219_n   IMG_9283

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

1270568_10152176848225025_3661475035085269088_o 1512705_10152167536895025_206181964707183147_n 1969403_10152167536855025_8220824132413027947_n  10498089_10152176893880025_7106406483007513994_o

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

10457756_10152176919545025_5548644651100982032_o     10329805_10152176919185025_2855234719849510115_o (1)

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

10551652_10152176918050025_5324005815167271619_o

10497518_10152176945450025_2092440706752660306_o10560474_10152176918900025_5720623845347887685_o

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.

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.

20140418-041533.jpg

I expect I’ll cope.

A very Ralph road-trip to The Pinnacles

IMG_0058IMG_0002IMG_0057

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.

IMG_0027

IMG_0020

IMG_0019

more pinnacles

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).

jurien bay

more jurien

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:

toilet

bikini

tree back roads

IMG_9991IMG_9987

more pinnacles1

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):

IMG_0989

IMG_0947

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…

IMG_0925IMG_0941

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

IMG_0936

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.

IMG_0982

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

2012_06100388

2013_0331TRJ0053

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.

2013_0331TRJ0079