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.

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.

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.

Shopping local and falling off bicycles

During a meandering bike ride through the narrow back streets in Fremantle, to my delight I discovered our new house is a less-than-ten-minute bike ride to Galati & Sons.

My dad owned a fruit & veg shop so I have high expectations. For years I’ve been bereft – yes, that’s right, bereft – of a local, actual fruit & veg shop (as opposed to a supermarket which has a fruit & veg section) which sells well-priced, excellent quality, fresh foods.

Note: I know I could grow stuff myself, but I’m much better at being a customer of fresh food than a creator. I like to work to my strengths.

Thankfully I am bereft no more.
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Galati’s sells more than just fruit & veg – they’ve got pasta, nuts, cheeses, coffee, salami and other associated delicious deli meats, olives, dried fruits. It is a gastronomical heaven.

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Look at me, I thought as I rode my bike home with my backpack full of produce, I’m being friendly to the environment and my body, and I’m shopping local. I am awesome.

Then I nearly fell off because the hill was steep.

That aside, I will continue to ride my bike and shop local….and one day I will overcome that hill.

To resort, or not resort?…

When we travel we like to explore and meander and wander. We’re not guided tour types, and we’ve never been resort holiday types. We’re more the plan-our-own-itinerary-drive-ourselves-or-catch-buses-or-trains-stay-in-apartments/B’n’Bs/holiday home/campsites types.

Having not done the resort thing before, it didn’t occur to me there would be additional costs outside of ‘half board’ breakfast & dinner package. I have a vague recollection of being told there were, but I think the information kind of vapourised in my brain before it had a chance to register.

(Once I’ve made a decision and booked something, I pay no attention to the detail. Probably I need to pay more attention in future).

My surprise at additional costs aside, the Intercontinental Mauritius has been delightful. The quality of the facilities, food, service, views, and staff is exceptional.

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If a person was inclined they could spend their entire holiday within the gates of a resort.

We haven’t, because that’s not how we roll.

Today we explored Trou Aux Biches and Grand Baie:

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I’d never understood the appeal of the beach recliner/umbrella thing. They don’t exist on most Australian beaches and I’d always written them off as unnecessary.

I was wrong. They are awesome.

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We enjoyed more creative driving and interesting roads:
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Tomorrow we fly home and yet I feel like there’s more of Mauritius to taste.

Maybe this was just the entree…

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We’ll come back again to savour more flavours.

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From a holiday house or apartment….

Websites and folk I found useful – and you might too if ever you’re thinking of traveling to Mauritius (I’m not paid to promote these, I simply liked ’em so thought I’d share the love):
http://www.discovermauritiusisland.com/
http://www.tourism-mauritius.mu/
http://www.mauritius-islander.com/

http://www.ihg.com/intercontinental/hotels/gb/en/balaclava/mruma/hoteldetail
http://bonaventure.com.au/

Snorkelling and sugary delights

Yesterday’s mission – which was a resounding success – was to snorkel, so we ventured out for another meander.

We do ‘meander’ exceedingly well.

Our drive to Pereybere Beach took us through sugar cane fields, tourist towns with opulent beach-front villas, and narrow country streets. Along the motorway it’s about 20 minutes; the roads we took made the journey twice as long (and twice the pleasure).

The beach was as perfect as the reviews online said it would be:

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As the self-proclaimed ‘bag watcher’, I reclined gracefully (ish) on the towel while my husband and son enjoyed the delights of the bay. The beach was relatively quiet, and the beach hawkers respectful and polite when their offers to sell sarongs were declined.

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After we left the beach we followed the SatNav’s directions to what became a dead end. It was an adventurous ramble through increasingly narrow and rocky streets until we did a u-turn and found our way back to the highway.

A stop on the way home at L’aventure du Sucre where Mark tasted the locally produced, potent – and, he tells me, delicious – rum:
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And Kobi and I experienced the delight that is molasses:
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It’s a whole new world of delicious.

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.