Friday, September 14, 2012

Oh happy day

When we first moved here I rated the beach closest to where we were staying 10 out of 10.  It had everything I love in a scenic beachy spot. Then for a sad while it dropped down to 9 out of 10.  It was still my favourite beach but something vital was missing: a cafe.

The odd thing is that, apart from around Mandurah's inner city inlet area, that left only one near-beach cafe on the whole of Mandurah's 52km coastline (and that cafe is part of a chain, serves dreadful coffee, employs staff who roll their eyes when allergies are mentioned, has acoustics like the inside of a rubbish tin and therefore doesn't really do it for me.)

Today was a stunningly beautiful day and I took the ever-so-slightly longer but far more scenic route back to my office from a morning meeting so I could catch a wee drive-by glimpse of the glistening ocean at my favourite beach.  Then oh joy, I discovered that the Falcon Bay Cafe is open for business again!

I guessed from having spoken to the previous owners that it wouldn't be them now running the new incarnation of the cafe.  I loved that cafe from their excellent coffee, to the way they cheerfully answered my queries about what I should order for Peanut-Anaphylaxis-Boy, to their delicious yet affordable food to the way you felt welcome whether you were buying four meals or an iceblock. 

So it was with some trepidation that I swerved to a stop and scooted across the road to investigate. 

No need to be worried.  Not only was my coffee excellent but all the cakes in the cabinet even had allergen labels.  Oh joy, oh happy happy day.  Welcome back, Falcon Bay Cafe.  I can't wait to investigate further. Looks like my favourite beach is back to being a 10 out of 10 again.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Indian Ocean Drive

On our most recent short holiday we explored north of Perth for the first time.  The Indian Ocean Drive opened a couple of years ago providing easier access to a series of small coastal holiday towns, scenic reserves and tourist attractions.  We only did the closest half of the drive because we wanted to actually stop and look at things and have a relaxing time; we have been here long enough to learn that WA is huge and it is easy to drive a long, long way and find very little.  So I did a lot of planning before this trip and as a result had lots of hits and only a couple of misses. Here in lots of pictures and a few words is that trip.

The Pinnacles Desert.  Surreal, bizarre and well worth a trip. Easy to get to and really well managed by the Department of Environment and Conservation.

We stayed at Jurien Bay which is quaint and relaxing and it reminded me of the town in that old TV show Seachange.

We did lots of short walks and a few longer ones but sadly we saw more wildlife on signs and squished on the side of the road than in real life.

We then drove inland via New Norcia but I'm not sure I'd recommend that if, like us, you are a carload of tired, hungry atheists.  Sometimes I find myself thinking "Is that it?" and this leg of the trip was one of those times.

Next stop for three nights was Guilderton, where the Moore River very, very nearly meets the sea.  Lovely, sleepy, make-your-own-fun holiday village.  Just be careful where you stay.  I made an online booking for 3 nights in a holiday cottage which turned out to be the grottiest, filthiest dump I have ever set foot in.  After one grim night there we then wasted a day of our holiday switching to a habitable house.

The Gravity Discovery Centre near Gingin.  For sciencey children and their parents this is an excellent place for a grand day out.

We made our way slowly home stopping for a leisurely visit to the wonderful Yanchep National Park.

On this trip we went right through famous wildflower country but were just a bit early in the season to see much floral action. Never mind, I thought.  Next time, when we explore the other half of the Indian Ocean Drive. But as we drove into our driveway we discovered that in the week we'd been away, the first of our own wildflowers had burst into bloom.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Ugly

Soon after we moved here I noticed something perplexing about many of the cars and posted one of the many pictures I've collected on a theme.  Here it is again.

I often see that car parked outside the local swimming pool when the owner's children and mine have lessons. I don't understand her car decoration.

Since then I've collected quite a few more snaps on the theme of "car adornments I don't understand."  It wasn't hard.  I'll spare you all the ones that simply have a creepy personalised number plate.  I'll also spare you ones with that Australia-shaped sticker and the words "F**k off we're full" because they are far too common to longer be interesting, but here is a variation on that theme.

Here is another mystery.

Most of you will be familiar with all the many variations on the "My family" stickers.  Not my cup of tea but it doesn't bother me that other people like and use them.  Just in case you don't know what I mean, here is one of the longer ones I've seen.

And a variation spotted in Mandurah.  Hmmm. Charming.

But there is one thing that still shocks me eveytime I see it.  Please tell me these aren't doing the rounds in NZ too.  Here, on a car with two childseats in the back which was parked at a local scenic spot where a group of families were having a picnic, nuts.

Couldn't see them properly?  Here are some more.  Common as, well, balls around here.

Must go now as all that ugliness has depressed me. The only fun part of this whole situation is when we spot a car with a creepy personalised numberplate, at least one cringy sticker and car nuts.  Then I yell "Jackpot!" and instruct my partner to keep up with it so that I can get a photo.  No luck so far though because to those people "50 km per hour" means "65", "80" means "110" and "110" seems to mean "Just go as fast as you jollywell like".

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

My year of Nowhere Near Enough Reading

2012 in Australia has been dubbed the National Year of Reading where libraries, bookshops, many other organisations are linking together all the great things already happening around reading and literacy plus creating new events and activities designed to help people discover or rediscover the joy of reading. (Info here if you are interested.)

For me however, this year has rather ironically become a "Year of Nowhere Near Enough Reading". Those of you who warned me that the part-time job I started late last year sounded like "three full-time people's jobs" and that "part-time and project rarely play nicely together" can go mwah-ha-ha here because oh were you right. While I have been busy creating reading events, endlessly talking to parents about the importance of reading to young children, doing many hours of reading aloud in odd places all over the city, carting hundreds of books then releasing them into the wild and reading huge piles of work-related things, my opportunities for actually reading what I want for my own enjoyment have shrunk to drought levels not seen since new-baby-in-house days. I love reading so this is a pretty frustrating situation.

Working has also meant that between my children's various hospital appointments (all up in Perth, a whole day with one child last week, a whole day with the other one this week, all good news) and after school and weekend activities, I now spend very few hours home alone. Since I wrote that last post I have clocked up so few home alone hours that I can count them on my fingers and all since I ticked this off my work To-Do list. I love home-alone time so this too is a somewhat frustrating situation.

Sadly today's five hours home alone were spent dealing with a foot high pile of paperwork - and I am not exaggerating. I'll spare you the gruesome details but life in WA involves a lot of red tape, paperwork and administrivia. So no interesting pictures from today's dull day but last week I did snap away as I hurried through my chores - with the reward of some reading time dangling at the end of my foot-long To-Do list.

First up were four loads of laundry as it was our first sunny day in weeks. On the way to the line I stopped to admire our latest slime moulds.

Then I cooked dinner because that afternoon = swim squad = arriving home with two cold, wet and starving children at 6.30pm. Next job was dealing with those amazing gift lemons and no that isn't trick photography. Lemon Cake in the oven, zest and juice in the freezer then back out to the vegetable patch to deal with an invasion of caterpillars.

Every fortnight a new creature invades our house or garden or both in plague proportions: pantry moths, red ants, Portuguese millipedes, black ants, garden snails, orange ants, redback spiders, Italian snails and for six months of the year we also have  mosquitoes. At the moment hundreds of white cedar moth caterpillars swarm over the fence every day from our neighbour's denuded trees to feast in my veggie garden. I rehomed them. To heaven.

Next up was chipping away at the latest pile of free mulch to arrive on our front verge.

Between barrow loads I stopped to admire the spring-has-sprunginess of our garden.

Took the cake out of the oven, did the dishes, planted out some seedlings, converted another patch of ex-lawn space to veggie garden, buried the contents of our two bokashi bins in the garden, made a coffee and replied to some emails ("so lovely to hear from you and so sorry it has taken me so long to reply..." x5 with many more still to do as some of you will be aware), paid a few bills online, logged in to my work email to deal with the things that just couldn't wait (part-time -ha!), bought a present online, brought in the evening's firewood and the four loads of laundry, fixed the two most urgent pieces of clothing from the mending mountain, found the "lost" swimming goggles, loaded a pile of "to the op shop" wares  into my car, put all the flat batteries on to recharge, destained an item of school uniform, found the paperwork for a child's required repeat prescription, phoned the Dunny Doctor (true) and made a shopping list. (Familiar day anyone?) Then I resisted the urge to fold Mt Cleanlaundry and instead..... grabbed another coffee and ten minutes of reading time before my son cycled up the driveway.

Tonight I spent the evening at the First Wednesday Book Club getting great book recommendations then brought home "fabulous", "beautiful" and "captivating" books to add to my now three foot high To-Read pile - and I am not exaggerating. But one of the great things about projects is that by their very nature they always come to an end; when the project I am working on ends I hope to then have the freedom to begin my very own Year of Reading.