Monday, September 24

Spring has Sprung: Araleun Botanical Gardens

It's been a slightly hectic, but, fun couple of weeks. As well as job-hunting and pondering car ownership, I've also acquired a little gizmo (technical term) that I can plug into my tablet to read SD cards. So now, after relying on ghastly phone camera shots since my computer went cactus, I can finally resort back to ghastly DSLR shots. Which is my way of warning you that I may have been a little snap happy this post. Err, is it possible to show too many tulips?

I leapt out of bed before sunrise, well, OK, staggered out, grumbling (leapt just made me sound more energetic). I threw an affronted beagle out into the backyard before the first rays of sun hit the top of the fence and, noticing the the look of outrage, tossed a liver brownie out after her. My approach to disharmony in the home has always been, 'feed it until it smiles' which has proved incredibly successful with a beagle, but, may explain why I'm single again (only simple-minded gluttons need apply).

Glancing at 'Wind in the Willows' the day before, when I should have been dusting the bookcase, Mole's wanderlust proved infectious. I wanted some SPRING! I had a vague recollection that years ago I had been to Araleun in September and there had been tulips. I knew it was only 10-15km from Kelmscott Station and the only other thing I remembered about the trip was that it was 'UP'. I can now clarify that it is 'UP' and windy!! That hour of the morning in Spring, the Easterlies roar down through the hills across the coastal plain. I hunkered at a local truck stop for a hot coffee as my goosebumps had goosebumps. (Note to self - just because it's Spring do not automatically assume that at 6.30am it is going to be warm enough for a short-sleeved T shirt). After a brief chat with a truckie, who had laughed aloud when he heard I was cycling East into the hills, I watched with just a little satisfaction as his truck door blew shut making him drop his sausage roll. When I'm facing hills and wind and I'm freezing I can be a little spiteful.

After a less than auspicious start the day improved beyond recognition. The sun shone with a friendly warmth that only post-Winter cyclists (in T shirts) can truly appreciate, the wind dropped and the scenic advantages of 'UP' became quickly apparent. I arrived before the gardens were actually open, but, a lovely lady told me to pay on my way out and let me park my bicycle in a locked shed. Araleun is like a high class, mature courtesan. Wonderful bone structure, with just enough age and decay to promise hidden wonders. It's not manicured within an inch of it's life and even in my middle-age, I couldn't escape a childish need to explore it's wilder paths. But, the real delights were the tulips. Overflowing their beds, tucked in out-of-the-way terraces, spilling around patios; tulips were everywhere.

Just as the perambulators and zimmerframes began to clog the entrance to the gardens, I sauntered off to collect the Surly having had the place to myself for several hours. I was toasty warm, satiated with colour, snoozy with sun and filled up to my tippy toes with the joy of baby ducklings and flower buds. As I whizzed back down through the hills towards the train station, I realized, it's official, Spring has finally sprung!

Wednesday, September 5

Hols@Home: Say Cheese!

Well, I blinked and the holidays were over. But, clearing out my phone gallery, I did find a few snaps of a ride that I forgot to post at the time. I had caught the train south to the end of the Armadale Line and cycled the rest of the way to the Borrello Cheese Dairy. I know it's no surprise that the incentive for a 50km ride was food. I have been buying Borrello Cheese locally for years. I love their baked ricotta drizzled with a little honey and a side of fruit for brekky.

The day was seriously threatening rain the whole time, but, the cycling gods were kind and I had my own personal pocket of sunshine for the whole trip, which didn't stop the occasional nervous glance over my shoulder.

It took longer to get out into the country upon leaving Armadale than I expected. It's not just north of the city that new 'burbs are springing up seemingly overnight. Eventually though I meandered into horse territory and then out onto country roads.

After a short spell on busy Thomas Rd, I saw the farm sign and turned into little more than a lane. As I pedalled closer to Borrello Cheese I could see the cows being moved along to a farther field. I have an unfortunate urge to converse with cows whenever I encounter them, so, it took a superhuman effort not to call out and thank them for their efforts and let them know how much I enjoyed the fruit of their labour. After all, I didn't want the lady behind the counter (and keeper of the cheese) to think me a complete nutter . . . At least, not until I'd filled my panniers!

A poor snapshot I know, but, that's as good as it gets, because exactly 3.5 seconds later the wrappers were off and I was chomping my lunch, right there on the dairy steps. It doesn't get much better; a ravenous appetite from cycling, sunshine warming my back, fresh air, crunchy apples and creamy cheese sprinkled with rock salt.

The weaving through new suburbs and the blue-metal road surface made me think that perhaps it might be a while before I cycled to the dairy door again. Then, on my way home I met a lovely fellow on a tiny folder out for an afternoon ride. He told me there was a bike path running all along the Tonkin Hwy straight into Armadale via Forrest Rd. Beautiful bitumen surface, same scenery and only one right hand turn before I clapped eyes on the station. Nothing like a little local knowledge!

After a small amount of rain areas of farmland along the bikepath were quite swampy . . . guess what terrain the new 'burbs are built on?

Along the way I stopped and purchased a bucket of sweet mandarins from a small orchard for the princely sum of $2. A little later, I hopped off along the train line to visit a friend. I swapped some cheese and mandarins for afternoon tea and, as the sun sailed over the yardarm, a wee dram (or two).

It was a pleasant afternoon especially as, glancing at the thunderous clouds, I had nearly stayed at home to sort my sock drawer!

Monday, August 13

Hols@Home: City Farm Market

A sunny winter's day, the need of a pootle and a sudden hankering for kale with mushrooms (cooked with tamari, sesame oil, garlic and chilli) could only point to one thing. A trip to City Farm's Organic Market:

I couldn't resist wood-fired sourdough, beetroot and red cabbage as well. So, I also made a 'Purple Slaw' with dried cranberries and a coconut cream, honey and cider vinegar dressing. My brassica cravings sorted and a leisurely 27kms of fresh air, I was left feeling just a little righteous!

Wednesday, August 8

Hols@Home: Ferry Ride

Normally, when I cross the river I cycle over using one of 3 bridges, the Graham Farmer, the Causeway or the Narrows. However, in holiday mode, I decided to do something I haven't done since childhood and take the ferry. It was free, as I'd already paid for a train ticket. (The bike is transported for free anyway, the same as on the trains.)

The Surly looked as though it was travelling first class, having the whole of the 4-bay bike area to itself.

It was interesting seeing the city and South Perth foreshore from a different perspective and I really enjoyed the trip on the boat. I don't think it's the last time the Surly and I will take to the water.

Mind you following the shoreline has it's compensations. After picking up my book from the delightful Mill Point Book Cafe and with the drizzle transforming into sunshine, I enjoyed the pootle home across (or, rather, underneath) the bridge.