Our new beginning

Blog posts have been few and far between over the past twelve months as we organised the next phase of our life. We have made the move from Margaret River to Cowaramup, 12km to the north, where we have built our new home, moved in, and are now organising the garden on our 2000 sqm block.

We have gone from this…

…to this over the past year.

Our aim is to grow as much fruit and veges as practical so getting this part of the garden organised has been a priority. So far we have planted lemon, lime, blood orange, olives, pomegranate, avocado, strawberry guava and fig trees and have started the vege patch.

It has been a very time consuming phase and apart from finishing off the garden we are pretty much organised and are looking forward to getting out and about again.

Posted in Cowaramup, Margaret River | 37 Comments

Learn Italian in Bagni di Lucca

If you are looking for the experience of a lifetime and would love to go to Italy and the beautiful region of Bagni di Lucca in Tuscany to learn Italian, then this post by our friend Debra could be what you are looking for. If you need any information I would be very happy to help guide you in the right direction.

Bella Bagni di Lucca

Laura Poggi, from the gorgeous Casa Tolomei in Via Umberto I in La Villa, is starting a small language school. She and her family have many years of experience and Laura is keen to start a new venture in Bagni di Lucca.

In a previous post I wrote about the amazing transformation Laura and her husband Andy have achieved in the house where Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning spent a couple of summers in the 19th century.  They bought it 5 years ago and have brought the beautiful house back to life. See the posthere.

Work continues, but a couple of rooms are now available to rent and Laura can turn her attention to Italian lessons. This beautiful room will be for small groups. Larger groups will be in another part of the house.

It is possible to have one on one lessions with Laura, or to be part…

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Pizza Night

Every Friday evening the Colonial Brewery, just out of Margaret River, has a $10 Pizza Night. They are great value and very good pizza. If you are not a pizza lover you can order other delights from their regular menu.

The building housing the brewery is very impressive and takes advantage of their wonderful view. All their beers are made on the premises and are free of preservatives.

Taking in the view over the lake while you dine is lovely.

The seafood and vegetarian pizza were good.  We have tried other flavours but unfortunately they were eaten before I remembered to take a photo.

Their vege garden grows a lovely range of fresh produce for use in their kitchen.

It is a very popular venue for families and the kids playground is always a hive of activity with kids of all ages enjoying themselves.

It is a great evening out, with a DJ to set the mood, and sometimes they have a guest artist providing live entertainment.

http://www.colonialbrewingco.com.au

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VW Club

The Volkswagon Club of WA attracted a good crowd today; happily displaying their ‘pride and joys’.

In Margaret River for their 5th Vee Bubs at Margaret River Camping and Cruise Weekend they had a Show & Shine in Reuther Park this morning.

Fortunately it wasn’t raining so windows and doors were opened for us to closer inspect the cars.

The Kombies were the most popular on show and many had been converted to campers. Others are still in the need of some TLC.

The Beetles were very specky.

As were the Squarebacks.

It makes our VW seem pretty boring really.

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The Orchids Are Late This Year

With the late arrival of the warmer days down here in the south west the orchids are now in full bloom.

Frieds suggested a couple of places to visit to take photos of the beautiful orchids and here is a look at just some of the ones we photographed. Thank you for showing me your secret orchid spot. Cowslips, Purple Enamel Orchids, Rattle Beaks, Reaching Spider Orchids, Fringed Lily, Trigger plants and others, I aren’t sure of the names of, were all out today.

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‘Wine for Dudes’

Today we become tourists in our own town and joined a wine tour to see what visitors get to enjoy when they come to Margaret River.

Our first stop was McHenry Hohnen Winery, a bio-dynamic vineyard established in 2004 by David Hohnen, who originally established Cape Mentelle in Margaret River and Cloudy Bay in New Zealand, which both became world renowned wineries and Murray McHenry a prominent WA wine merchant and hotelier.  Their winery uses ‘old world’ techniques and biological practices.  The vines are hand-picked and wild fermented giving their wines a unique flavour.  The also produce small goods in their butchers smokehouse on the farm.

It was then on to Olio Bello, a certified organic food producer and sustainable olive grove producing extra virgin olive oils.  They also produce a range of flavoured and infused oils and condiments, as well as beauty products.

The wine tasting at Hay Shed Hill, like most wineries in the region, was predominantly  Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, followed by a pizza and salad lunch at Rustico.

The next stop was well timed at Gabriel Chocolate where we tasted their hand produced chocolate and just had to test their icecream as well.  I can report both very very good.

House of Cards Winery is a single vineyard producer, with the young owners being very hands-on in all aspects of the vintage.  Making a good range of red and white wines it was another enjoyable visit.

Last winery of the day was Brygon Reserve Wines who opened in 2009 and are highly rated by James Halliday and Ray Jordan – leading Australian and Western Australian wine critics, respectively.

A refreshing ‘cleansing ale’ at Colonial Brewery finished the day off nicely.

Thanks John, we really enjoyed your Wines for Dudes tour.

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http://www.winefordudes.com.au/

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Wildflowers

Finally the weather has started to improve in the south west of WA and we are getting some warmer dry weather. It has been cold and wet for what seems like an eternity.

The wildflowers have been out for months but because it has been so miserable I think the orchids have been too afraid to pop out of the ground, but I finally got to see one, only one, this weekend.  Quite a few varieties grow in the area so hopefully next year I will get to see some more.

Many of the other flowers are nearing the end of the season, but still worth a stroll through the forest to enjoy what is in bloom.

All these delicate little flowers were within a few hundred metres. The variety of colours and shapes are part of natures beauty.

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It’s Show Time

The annual Margaret River Agricultural Show was held this weekend.

In the main pavilion the displays were out ready for everyone to admire.

I was fortunate enough to win ‘Best of Show’ in the patchwork and quilting section.  This quilt was made quite a while ago but this year’s theme was circles and curves so it fitted well into the theme.

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I also entered this quilt and collected another ribbon ‘the Patron’s Trophy’.  I must say I was ‘tickled pink’ with the awards.

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And take a look at some of the other quilts entered.  The second photo here won ‘Viewers Choice’.

Here is a sample of just some of the cakes, garden produce, flowers, photography, arts, crafts, textiles and the kids Lego creations.

Outside the displays and activities drew in the crowds.

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Northampton Airing of the Quilts

As the clouds threatened and the wind picked-up the quilts were hung along the shops and vantage points for the 20th annual Airing of the Quilts in Northampton.  The great hope from everyone involved that the rain would stay away for a while unfortunately didn’t eventuate, and the rain started shortly after.

This event usually brings thousands of visitors to Northampton to see the wonderful quilts by local quilt makers who proudly ‘air their quilts’ for visitors to admire.

We managed to take a few photos before the rain arrived.

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Local artist Helen Reynolds was this year’s featured artist.  Helen’s georgous quilts and very colourful textile artworks were on display…well out of the rain.   Helen recently won the 2016 Bunbury International Quilt Challenge with her piece titled There’s a Fairy in My Garden.  Unfortunately my photo of the winning piece didn’t work through the glass window.

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With any luck the rain will ease off for a while and the quilts will be out for everyone to enjoy.

Many other activities and events are part of the festival but as the weather closed in I decided to take cover.  I will have to come back next year to enjoy all the days offerings.

 

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Tadpole Creek Garden

Today was a glorious spring day here in Margaret River and thanks to the hospitality of keen gardener Paula Cristoffanini we had somewhere to enjoy the afternoon.

Paula opened her garden “Tadpole Creek Garden” to the public today as a means to raise some funds for local cancer charity River Angels.

What was once a paddock is now a wonderful garden…and in such a short time. Paula has chosen plants that flower with vibrant colours in the yellow, orange and red palate with highlights of purple. Her Mediterranean style garden features plants that are water-wise and natives that need little care but are also happy to the trimmed and shaped.  Although not a lot of blooms were on display today you could feel spring was in the air and it showed how a well designed garden still has so much to offer in any season.

Another feature of the garden was Paula’s artistic flare in producing works of garden art that bring joy and creativity to the landscape.

Take a look at what we saw today!  Paula was there to give us all the information on her garden and share as much of her knowledge as possible.

Entry to the garden is down a lovely driveway, weaving its way to where the garden opens up into view.

Then it was time to explore. The birds were out enjoying the day as well.

Thank you to Paula for making her beautiful garden available for the public to view and we look forward to visiting again.

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A Few Stats on the Size of Western Australia

This is an interesting blog on the stats of WA. Thanks for the info “Itching for Hitching”.

itchingforhitching

It’s not until you decide to drive Western Australia from top to bottom that you realise how really large it is. It takes days to drive across the Pilbara region. From the coast at Exmouth to the town of Tom Price took us two days and we didn’t sight a town only the gates of cattle stations.

According to Wikipedia statistics, if the state of Western Australia was a country it would be the tenth largest in the world.The road distance from Augusta in the south to Kununurra in the north is 3512kms. Which is a lot further than Los Angeles to New York 2789kms or Paris to Moscow 2834kms.

Western Australia has a population of 2.6 million, 11% of the national population*. *Wikipedia
Mainland Australia is 7,659,861 square kilometres

WA 2,526,786 (33%) (includes Pilbara 502,000 (6.53%), Kimberley 423,517 (5.51%))

Queensland, QLD 1,723,936 (22.5%)

Northern Territory, NT 1,335,742 (17.5%)

South…

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Tourists in Perth

It has been years since we spent any time in the city, so on a recent trip we decided to stay in Perth’s centre and have a look around.  We haven’t lived in Perth for five and a half years; the skyline has certainly changed and the new  Elizabeth Quay is progressing into a very impressive development on the Swan River.

The view of the city and river from up at Kings Park is gorgeous on a lovely winters day.

Even though there has been quite a few new skyscrapers built across the city it is lovely to see that many of the original buildings have been preserved.

Around the city there are some interesting sights.  We were out and about in the early morning before the city started to fill with cars, workers and shoppers.

The trees are changing colour.

On the walls in Prince Lane in the fashion wholesale and manufacturing area of the city, murals reflect the history of the fashion district.

Elizabeth Quay is Perth’s newest development and is planned with tourist, residential, office and commercial facilities taking in views up and down the Swan River.

Although it has been a brief visit we have been surprised by how many changes there have been in Perth….nice to see the city continuing to develop and feel so alive.  The reputation of the city being a quiet and dull little place has certainly gone as far as we are concerned.

Posted in Margaret River, Perth | 7 Comments

New Beginnings

We originally decided to come to Margaret River and rent for a while just to make sure we were happy with the area and all it had to offer us in retirement.  Well, I am pleased to say that we have settled in very nicely down here and so begins the next phase of our journey.

We have purchased a block in the nearby small town of Cowaramup – only 10 km from Margaret River – and are getting ready to start the building process.  Hopefully they will be starting the earthworks in the next couple of weeks and we hope to be in our new home by Easter next year, if all goes well.

The block is 2,000 sqm so it will have plenty of room for the caravan shed, vege patch, fruit trees and maybe some chickens.

This is the entrance to the block.

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And here is the view from the back of the block looking north.

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We have a lovely little winter creek over the road which is a haven for birds and frogs.

This morning we planted our first lot of native shrubs just before the rain came through to give them a water.

Looking forward to getting started on the house and hope the weather doesn’t hold us up at the start of this new venture.

Posted in Cowaramup, Margaret River | Tagged | 22 Comments

What a difference a year makes

This gallery contains 16 photos.

Originally posted on Bagni di Lucca and Beyond:
Last year at Casa Debbio we decided to plant a new garden on the terrace below the house. We had some pine trees removed, which has allowed a walnut tree and a…

Gallery | 4 Comments

Balingup Small Farm Field Day

Not that we intend to buy a small farm down here, but we are always interested in farming and what you can do with a small parcel of land.

Leaving Margaret River early this morning the sun glistened on the grape vines and paddocks, and the animals were enjoying the cool early morning.

On our way over to Balingup we passed this free range egg business that has made very good use of old caravans…..unique chook houses for their chickens to roost in at night.

Arriving at the field day it was already busy.  The car parks were filling fast and everyone was out enjoying the beautiful weather.

The livestock were obviously used to having people around.

The machinery, garden suppliers and craftspeople all seemed to be having a great day selling their wares.

And the kids had plenty of activities to keep them occupied.

On our way home we visited a quilt exhibition, stopped to enjoy the beautiful Blackwood River and Jim was pretty excited to see the rally cars in Nannup.  They were competing in an annual RallyWA event today.

It was certainly a glorious autumn day in the south west.

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Eco Dyeing

Margaret River Region Open Studios (MRROS)

With so much talent on display in the Margaret River region during Open Studios it is easy to see why the event attracts so many visitors. This year is certainly no exception.

Throughout the 16 day event visitors are invited into artists private studios to meet the artist and view their works. This year, the 107 artists have works on display that include painting, sculptors, textiles, printmakers, ceramicists, jewellers, photographers and up-cycling. Some even manage to find time to hold workshops.

One such artists is Jane Flower from Folios and Fibre, a textile artists who uses eco dyeing to create beautiful one of a kind scarves, handmade garments and other mixed media pieces. Jane generously shared her knowledge with us during an informal workshop, allowing us to create these beautiful pieces of eco dyed silk.

Using the Shibori resist dyeing technique our pieces where prepared using various resists.

The silk is then added to the bubbling eco dyepot. Eucalyptus and various other leaves are boiled to extract the natural dyes and tannins before adding the silk. This process means that no two dye lots will ever be the same; it can yield some lovely and unexpected surprises.

After a time brewing in the dyepot we removed our pieces and allowed them to cool before we could handle them.

And now time for the great reveal.  Here are just a few of our creations.

After drying to allow the dye to set my pieces are now washed and ready for me to find a creative way to use them…..I will let you know the outcome.

You can see Jane’s beautiful work by clicking here.

 

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It’s on again

It’s back again for another season…..and it was a lovely balmy evening in Perth for the start of the footy. 

The West Coast Eagles had a good win and Jamie kicked 3 goals.  Looking forward to another good year!

   
    
 

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Great Surf

What beautiful weather we have had here in Margaret River for the long weekend.  We could not resist going over to the beach to watch the surfers enjoying the waves.  The views up and down the coast made the water look very inviting.

Although the waves were crowded, the surfers are clever at staying balanced and avoiding other surfers on their wave.

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With the world class Margaret River Surf Pro coming up in April, let’s hope the perfect conditions continue.

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Delights of Horrocks Beach

We are currently staying up at Horrocks Beach at Gaylene & Marks house, with friends Graham and Heather from Sydney, who were keen to see some of WA during their stay here.

On a lovely calm morning Jim and Graham went out pulling pots with our nephew Cameron and his mate. Not sure about the salute – Benny Hill’ish!

This sea eagle was keen to see what they caught.

The resulting catch was most enjoyed by all.

Thanks Cam.

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Foodies Heaven

More than 50 international and local culinary stars gathered in Margaret River for this year’s Gourmet Escape held at the iconic event location, Leeuwin Estate. Chefs Rick Stein, Marco Pierre White, Matt Moran, Antonio Carluccio, Matt Preston, George Calombaris, Guillaume Brahimi, just to name a few, were here taking part in cooking demonstrations and sharing their tips and experiences. They also hosted fine dining events throughout the Margaret River region showcasing Western Australian seafood and a wide range of WA produce.

For food lovers it was ‘foodies heaven’.

At the gourmet village food and wine tastings from a range of stall holders, particularly local restaurants, food producers, wineries and breweries, were all offering tempting delights to tantalise the taste buds.

Over the weekend the large crowds also enjoyed live music from a variety of artists.

Unfortunately the photos don’t do justice to the event as my camera battery went flat pretty early into the day…..next year’s Gourmet Escape is already on the calendar.

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