Friday, December 29, 2017

Elf on the Shelf

E made lots of Christmas cards based on the Elf on the Shelf theme. She used old photos of herself, cut out and made into an elf character, doing naughty things. Here are a few of her designs:

I also spent some time over Christmas teaching her to set up a blog. Imagine a Grandma knowing something an eleven year old doesn't know about computers!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Out to lunch

Tired of cooking, I took the family to Bread in Common, a new-style restaurant in Fremantle. There are two big wood-fired ovens at the back of a converted wool store. The rest of the area is a bar and restaurant, where everyone is seated at long tables in an informal manner; no bookings. It is noisy, but the food is delicious and very innovative: mainly shared plates that appear from the open kitchen as and when they are ready.

This is what we had:

  • jersey curd, roasted peach, toast vinegar, pistachio, honeycomb
  • salt and vinegar courgette, smoked zucchini, broad bean, tapioca
  • kingfish ceviche, watermelon, avocado, wasabi, black pepper
  • flight of 4 cheeses: Cambray Gouda, Cambray Ashover, Bleu des Basques, Gorgonzola Piccante.


  • steamed pineapple pudding, whey caramel, coconut sorbet
  • wattleseed pannacotta, cherries, meringue, geraldton wax.

These are some of the shared plates:


Must go again.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas Day

The tree at Como surrounded by presents, mostly for E.

I was at the fish market on Christmas Eve at 7.45 am to beat the crowds.

We had lunch in the garden; it was perfect weather.
The first course was blinis with caviar.

The main course was crispy skin barramundi cooked on the BBQ.

Dessert was fresh mango.

An orchid from JL for my birthday

Monday, December 11, 2017


My granddaughter graduated from Collier Primary School today. The Year Sixes were very excited and put on an assembly for parents and visitors. They all had a part to play and must have been practising for ages to get it spot on. E received one of two Woodside Science Awards and was over the moon about it. JL was particularly pleased that she had worked so hard in Science. They are going out to lunch afterwards at a restaurant by the river, wearing "smart casual "!

Choir singing "When I Grow Up" from the musical "Matilda".

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Dog beach

Yesterday's summer walk with the group was from Floreat Beach to Scarborough. Unfortunately most of it was along the dog beach. Dogs everywhere. I'm scared of dogs at the best of times. En masse they are horrendous: jumping about, chasing balls into the sea, shaking wet droplets everywhere! It was also 30 degrees on the beach, so I didn't get as far as Scarborough (the high rise blot on the landscape in the pic below).

Monday, December 4, 2017

One Man and his Dog

Monday was a coolish day (after Sunday's heatwave which had kept us all inside). I set off for a long walk along the river and met a man and his dog. The dog was 11 and the man - older than me. This dog lives the life of Riley. He is fed on fillet steak from Torre Butchers and doesn't like having a bath, so doesn't often get one!

His owner is a retired librarian like me. He worked in the State Library. When he reached 65 his boss called him into his office and asked when he planned to retire. He said: in 2 weeks time, and that was that! But there's a lot more to his story. He was brought up in the former Yugoslavia, now Slovenia. He was a lawyer and worked in Import/Export. He travelled abroad with his boss, apparently arranging dodgey deals in order to make money to supplement the poor salaries of the Communist regime. One such deal was to travel to London to make a gigantic purchase of razor blades, since it was impossible to get a decent shave with the local product. Their London contacts asked: how are you going to pay for this? A phone call was made to their bank in Vienna, which confirmed that there were enough funds to pay in US$. The transaction, via another bank in Berlin, cost an additional 60%, since it was impossible to get $ any other way! The two entrepreneurs then travelled to Glasgow to inspect the factory to see the razor blade production line and were amazed to see thin sheets of steel going in at one end and boxed-up razor blades coming out the other.

If I'd stayed talking, he would probably have told me his entire life story!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

On the water

On my regular walk along the Swan River at Burswood, I stopped to watch this expert water skier getting in some practice.

At the annual BBQ of the WA Naturalists Club at Herdsman Lake, we noticed that the water level was much higher than usual, but nobody knew why.  The paperbark trees were lovely.

Paperbark trees and their reflections

The paperbarks make you want to reach up and pull off the bark: its good for lining hanging baskets!

More on the park here:

Thursday, November 30, 2017


Saturday was tea tasting, Tuesday was wine tasting. It's all go this week.

As customers of Howard Park Winery, we were invited to their annual free tasting of all their special wines. It was held at Rambla on Swan, an upmarket restaurant in South Perth, with lovely views across the river to the CBD. In fact I used to rent an apartment right next door when I first arrived in Perth in 1990.

Howard Park Winery is near Margaret River and part of it occupies land where JL lived as a boy. His family were on a Group Settlement in the 1930's on Myamup Road near Cowaramup. Read more about this here:

Back to the wine tasting. The main problem was that there were far too many guests packed into a small space. There were lots of wines to try, but it was hard to get to the tables where it was being served and too noisy to have a real conversation with the staff about the wines. I tried a few of their top chardonnays, but who wants to pay $85 a bottle? The nibbles looked good, but difficult to get at the small delicacies before they were snapped up by others! Maybe there's no such thing as a free wine tasting.

Jeff Burch, the owner of the winery, welcomes guests

Chief winemaker on the left

JL trying the sparkling

Oysters ready for shucking: but only for the dinner guests!

Evening on the terrace

Sunday, November 26, 2017


On Saturday, I went with friends M and V to a Chinese tea tasting followed by a yum cha lunch at the Dragon Palace Restaurant in Northbridge. It was led by Gary Sigley, who describes himself as a Chinese Studies Scholar and Tea Aficionado. He has a blog: but hasn't written much on it recently.  He goes to China a lot and certainly knows his tea!

The first tea we tried was Puer Tea preserved in a small dried mandarin (which looked like a gum nut!) The second was White Tea (pic below), which like many of these special teas can be used for several infusions. Gary brewed it in tea glasses, with a plastic plunger inside, apparently better than the stainless steel devices sold at T2 stores. You can buy these at Chinese groceries. We tried Yunnan Tea some of which was the subject of the 2007 "Tea Bubble" when speculators paid ridiculous prices intending the cakes as an investment, even paying up to $10.000! This black tea can be kept for long periods (unlike green tea which should be drunk fresh and is good for the digestion). The expensive teas are always drunk before a meal, on their own, to better savour the flavour.

The restaurant was packed with 99% Chinese people in large groups. The yum cha trolleys kept coming past, but Gary waved them away till he had finished his exposition! We were pretty hungry by this time and tucked in to all manner of delicacies including chicken feet.

White tea; the most expensive and the least processed tea; picked carefully with 2 leaves and a bud, then dried in the sun. brew at 85 degrees, wash first to get rid of dust.

Beautiful carved teacup stand.

Puer tea; produced near the border with Laos at Eiwu; this compressed "cake" stores well and is 2 years old.

Yunnan tea

"Red tea," with golden buds; produced near the border with Myanmar; when brewed it is a pale yellow colour and good for iced tea. My favourite!

Food at last: various steamed buns

L to R: chicken feet, BBQ pork, roast duck

 Chicken foot: a delicacy!

Thursday, November 23, 2017


The day draws closer for the opening of Perth Stadium, recently named the Optus Stadium. A sponsorship deal was needed in the naming rights, since the whole thing cost too much and has depleted the state's coffers. We have witnessed them testing the lighting night after night, as various colours spin round the outside, apparently with the ability to display the colours of the teams taking part. The other day hundreds of buses arrived to practice getting away quickly after the match. A new train station with multiple platforms has also been built. The stadium holds 65,000 people and there is hardly any car parking. Our estate will employ security guards to prevent outsiders trying to park, as we are within walking distance. I am not looking forward to the noise. 

The first event is a one day cricket match between England and Australia on 28 January. C has obtained tickets for herself and JL. I will be happy to walk around the outside and admire the parklands and landscaping next to the river.

More info and videos are available on the official website:

View of the stadium at night from our balcony: testing the lights

Rehearsal for hundreds of buses (centre of pic) getting away with spectators after the match

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Summer walks

At this time of year you have to study the weather forecast and pick the coolest day for a walk. I picked just such a day to do the 3.5 km walk around Lake Monger. There were more waterbirds than I'd ever seen there, especially big groups of Mountain Ducks. There were signs up warning walkers to wear hats and glasses because of dangerous swooping magpies which are trying to protect their nests and have been known to peck people's scalps!

Today was the first of the Bushwalking Group's "summer walks", where we set off at 7.30 am to beat the heat, and have morning tea afterwards at a Beachside Cafe. Each walk does a nice section of the coast from North to South. Today we did Burns Beach to Ocean Reef Marina, an 8 km round trip.

Waterbirds at Lake Monger

Coastal footpath at Burns Beach

Limestone rocks

Coastal vegetation