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

Monday, November 6, 2017

Camino Accommodation List 2017

Sep 20                Barcelona  Hostal Oliva

Sep 21                Trindad de Arre         Albergue

Sep 22                Pamplona Hotel Europa

Sep 23                Muruzabel         Albergue Mendizabel

Sep 24                Puente La Reina         Casa Rural Bidean

Sep 25                Cirauqui    Albergue Maralotx

Sep 26                Estella                 Albergue Curtidores

Sep 27                Los Arcos   Pension Mavi

Sep 28                Viana                  Palacio de Pujadas

Sep 29                Elciego       Casa Rural Rojanda

Sep 30                Laguardia Hospederia de los Parajes

Oct 1                   Logrono     Hotel Calle Major

Oct 2                   Navarette  Hotel Rey Sancho

Oct 3                   Najera                 Duques de Najera

Oct 4                   Najera                 Duques de Najera

Oct 5                   San Millan Hosteria del Monasterio  S. Millan de Cogolla

Oct 6                   Sto Domingo                Parador

Oct 7                   Redecilla del Camino           Hotel Redecilla

Oct 8                   Belorado   Hotel Verdeancho

Oct 9                   Villafranca          Hotel San Anton Abad

Oct 10                 Burgos       Hotel  Meson del Cid

Oct 11                 Silos           Hotel Sto Domingo de Silos

Oct 12                 Lerma                 Parador

Oct 13                 Burgos       Hotel Silken Gran Teatro

Oct 14                 Tardajos    Apt El Camino

Oct 15                 Hornillos   Albergue Meeting Point

Oct 16                 Hontanas  Hostal Fuentestrella

Oct 17                 Castrojeriz          Posada

Oct 18                 Boadilla del Camino   Hotel En El Camino

Oct 19                 Burgos       Hotel Meson del Cid

Oct 20                 Burgos       Hotel Meson del Cid

Oct 21                 Barcelona  Hostal Oliva

Oct 22                 Barcelona  Hostal Oliva

Oct 23                 Barcelona Hostal Oliva                


Melbourne Cup

Crown is cashing in on the Melbourne Cup celebrations in a big way. A temporary TAB has been set up outside the Casino, so that punters have another outlet to lose money. In the hotel foyer beautiful people pose for photos in their new frocks and fascinators in front of special orchid displays for backdrops. Some are not so beautiful and many young women are overweight and need to go on the Camino! All this is happening at 9.30 in the morning. 

It's hot today, so I'm making gazpacho.

Kitchen staff as photographer 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Lake Leschenaultia

The last meeting of the Bushwalkers Club for 2017 took us to Lake Leschenaultia, an hour's drive from Perth. From now on it's too hot for bushwalking. Even today was too hot, reaching 30 degrees, so I just did the 3 kms round the lake, while the others went on a longer route and met up for lunch at the car park. It is a popular spot for family picnics and the kids can swim in the lake or go out in a canoe.

View across the lake

Woodland track around the lake

Blue lady orchid

Pink version 

Blue leschenaultias which gave their name to the lake

Clumps of leschenaultias: the colour fades out in the sun

Purple flag iris

Fringe lilies: my favourite of all the wildflowers. I have never seen them so good!

Thursday, November 2, 2017


Visit the MNAC website.

The National Museum of Arts of Catalonia was high on my list of priorities in Barcelona. I wanted to see the collection of Romanesque wall paintings which had been rescued from small churches in the Catalonian Pyrenees. Many were displayed in rooms where the shape of the original church interiors had been recreated.

Baldacchino de Tost 1220 (San Martin de Tost)

Medieval door

1123 San Climent de Taull apse painting
One of the greatt masterpieces of European Romanesque art. "Dry fresco" technique. Blue was a very expensive pigment imported from Mid East : (i.e. lapis).

The church of Santa Maria de TaĆ¼ll is the most complete example that is conserved of the pictorial decoration of a Romanesque interior.  You can find on the vault of the apse the Epiphany or the adoration of the Kings, with the Mother of God as a throne for the child Jesus.  This ensemble is completed with scenes from the Final Trial and other biblical stories on the walls, as well as on the columns and the separating arches of the naves. (MNAC website).