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So why “On the Beach”?

After over 6 years in France, the time had come to move on. To view the blog of our time in France (in another tab) click here. There were several reasons and one was a hankering for the sea.  

Delia spent most of her childhood living near the beach at Quinns Rocks near Perth and always longed after a beach. Whilst living in France we spent several holidays in Conti on the Atlantic coast south of Bordeaux where the beach runs continuously to the Pyrenees.

We also discovered that Siena absolutely loves the sand in her paws and goes crazy when she gets a chance to run free on a beach.

Also in this time of covid19, where, for the moment, Australia seems to be one of the safest places to be, whilst the rest of the world goes to hell in a handbasket… Neville Shute come to mind (I know “On the Beach” was set post nuclear apocalypse in Melbourne but…).

 

Sun, Rain and Wind

Despite the weather, there has been enough sun over the past week to get us down to the dog beach for a couple of walks.  Some only just missing the rain, others in glorious sunshine.  It has been an interesting week, we’ve had things to do.  I had an interview in town on Thursday, which being my first interview for over 6 years I think went well.  Not sure if I will progress to the next stage but that is fine.  However looking for a job in the middle of a pandemic (even when Western Australia isn’t hard hit) is not the best thing.  Pat and I did use the opportunity to have a look around Perth a bit more (see Pat’s blog next week).  I had a gallery I wanted to check out, but unfortunately, they were in the middle of changing their exhibits so they weren’t open.  We did come across this wonderful green wall in town with a pigeon in the water pretending to be a duck!

This past weekend we had lunch out with my dad and his girlfriend, it was our first meeting with V and it went well.  We had a lovely meal overlooking the sea, dad and I had gnocchi and Pat and V had fish and chips!  Undoubtedly though you were paying for the view.   Pat and I had a little stroll along the beach front after lunch watching the sun over the water.  

Sunday morning we went down the dog beach which, as always, was fun for Siena.  Sunday evening we headed off for dinner with my niece (& her hubby) and my ex-sister-in-law (& her partner).  It was a really lovely evening with good food and lots of conversation.  

For now á beintôt from our wonderful part of Australia.

Guildford (or Gillford as they say in Aus)

It was time to try out the new car and be tourists We had visited Guildford before with Auntie Barb to collect a birdbath and I reckon we visited on one of our past trips to Aus. But this week we decided to make a proper job of it, take the camera and sight see.

We parked near the old courthouse which was now the tourist agency, got some info on where to walk and off we went. Past Taylors Cottage towards the old Post Office with its distinctive clock tower. Click on the image of the information board to read it.

We then headed across the busy railway line – every half hour it seemed. Note the somewhat disturbing warning to not get killed by trains when having your wedding photos taken! As an aside we saw a surprising number of planes flying over – Guildford is not far from Perth Airport – probably internal flights taking tourists north to the beaches (all in WA).

I thought the streets were wide (though not as wide as Kalgoorlie apparently to allow camel trains to turn, so Delia says).  There is quite a range of building styles but I am going to have to get used to a more compressed, granular history where decades are notable as opposed to the centuries Brits might be used to.

Oh and the postie drive a peculiar bright yellow electric thingy.

We wandered amongst bric a brac stores – all of the proprietors enjoying the liberation of  newly lessened covid restrictions – just clean you hands and keep your distance.

Wandering back towards the track crossing we decided to enjoy a drink in The Guildford Hotel. Recently fully renovated after being gutted by fire in 2008. A lot of the interior has been left with some of the damage still evident albeit tidied up. Our drink became a delicious meal of fancy burgers and chips on the upstairs balcony. Placing our order by phone to maintain physical distancing. The food was lovely and enjoyed whilst we basked in the winter sun. Delia of course had bubbles.

After lunch we strolled back past the sugar gums, across the rail track and through Stirling Square – a delightfully green park at the heart of the town.

Further wanderings took us past further historic buildings – Terrace Road Bakery and the Rose and Crown hotel.

And to round off this weeks photo-heavy post is a picture of the Perth skyline, nearly home from the morning dog walk. You should be able to recognise a couple of the buildings shapes from the first blog. I think the leftmost building is the Westin Hotel where we were quarantined.

And below is another beach photo. This time in mid-afternoon.

We’ve got a new old car

We’ve bought a new second hand car – yah. Starting to feel like we are settling in to our new life and we now have a little car to run around in. It’s a Honda Jazz, bright red and 10 years old, however it has low mileage for its age. We’re very happy with it and planning on keeping it as clean as possible. We’ve already got a cover for the back seat so that Siena’s dog hair doesn’t get everywhere (that and the beach sand).

Job hunting in this Covid19 world is difficult, I’m still looking, which is a surprise to me as I thought I would get a job much quicker than this. Due to the time factor it has made me realise that I needed to sign on for unemployment benefits, which I have now done. Hopefully our first payment will be this week.

One thing I have been doing is a sewing course, this is on Monday nights and this week is week 4 (it’s a 6 week course). Absolutely loving it, and my sewing knowledge is getting much better. So far I’ve made a sunglasses pouch, a cushion cover (with a zip) and a reversable tote bag, tonight we start on a jacket – which is what our last three classes will cover. Looking forward to it as we will be covering patterns and how to read them and making a jacket.

I’ve also been trying to do some art, I dug out a painting I started for my dad a couple of years ago and of course it got packed up back in March 2019. It’s been difficult to get back into the swing of acrylic painting but I am enjoying it and unlike watercolour, if you make a mistake you can paint over it.

We did get down the beach this morning for a walk with Siena and discovered the sand is freezing first thing in the morning!

For now á beintôt from our wonderful part of Australia.

Morning Walks

I am pleasantly surprised how green and bushy the surroundings here are. I especially enjoy my morning dog walks of which I seem to have come down to three choices, depending upon whether I need to be back home especially quickly or not.

Delia’s mum lives across from a school with a large playing field (where if school is not on, I can run Siena if I want). The block that the school occupies is shared with a bush reserve area, part of which is easily accessible with footpaths. The whole reserve is called Cadogan park.  I have various 25 minute routes taking in most of the possible routes around the park and then walking around the block passing two side ot the quad where I sometimes let Siena run. The bush reserve is delightful, nothing park-like about it though, seemingly “raw” bush burnt tree trunks and all.

 

The next, and longer, walk, I discovered was down to Lake Goolelal. There is a line of lakes (fwiw along a geological boundary parallel to the Darling Range) of which this is one. There is a well paved cycle and walking track that runs from Greenwood Station – I think I described the walk from the station previously(?). It is a leafy walk that I access via an “alley” between houses from Delia’s mum’s place up a steep slope to the top of a ridge. This east-west trail leads (east) to the lake up and down to another preserved bush are but which is surrounded mostly by mown grassy areas. A 35 minute walk gets me down to the lakeside with lovely vistas on the way. This Saturday (along with Delia’s mum and Auntie Barb) we walked the 5km all around the lake.

One of the greatest finds was the walk to Shepherds Bush reserve. Along the track to the west, over a rather urban road (though giving a remarkably green view towards Perth central) then into the reserve just off the track. There’s quite a network of paths and the first time I ventured into there I didn’t know which one to return on and saw more and spent longer than I had bargained for.

What no beach?

Here’s a shot of Delia’s new sunglasses.

Wow things are happening

Hello all, so what has been happening with Pat and I this week? Well I finally got my drivers licence and medicare card – so that was good, the admin is progressing. I’m still applying for jobs, not had much success so far. But we are keeping ourselves busy. We’ve been down to the dog beach a number of times, one day after a storm and there were so many blue bottles (a type of jellyfish) along the shore. Most had dried out, but Siena decided that eating them was a good idea! Thankfully she learnt that it isn’t a good idea as she threw everything up very quickly. But we are now careful with her on the beach.

We also went out to Guildford this week to help my aunt with the pick-up of her new birdbath – which is lovely. We also did a few other running around type things, I even picked up my new sunglasses – which I love. That night we also went to dinner with one of my cousins – who had made a rather nice beef ragu – I liked it so much, I asked for the recipe and I’m cooking it for dinner tonight.

On Monday I started my beginners sewing course, which was informative and fun. I did have to go and buy some material for this weeks class – and I found a lovely red and white striped fabric with French things all over it. I’ll be learning to sew in a zip this week – wish me luck! I’ve also been able to get some painting in which has been great.

However tomorrow I’m off to do more admin and hopefully look at some cars so it should be another productive week.

So for now à bientôt from our wonderful part of Australia.

House hunting in the bush

 

 

We drove up to near Yanchep to visit one of Delia’s cousins. We went a rather roundabout route to visit several of the many new housing developments along the coast. To be honest this made me a bit depressed, so many lovely houses so much money. By the time we could afford anything we were so far north as to almost be in Singapore. OK I exagerate but too far to consider the commute for Delia. Still some lovely coastline.

When we got to Christine’s it was lunchtime and suitably plied with wine and having had the grand tour we could tuck in to a grand spread of cold cuts and a lovely pumpkin soup.

Their several acres (2?) of land had been sorely tested during the bush fires of late 2019. The blaze narrowly missed their home, by the grace of wind direction. They did have a decent firebreak from their house but if the fire had approached closer it wouldn’t have been pretty. No power for a while of course.

One reason we had gone was the offer to borrow a ute (a pickup truck with 5 seats for you non-Aussies). Sounds like a tractor but drives fine and it’s very handy not to be reliant on Delia’s mum and her car – I think she feels the same.

So back to Kingsley in convoy. I have to admit to having fun driving the tractor, high up and feeling invulnerable – “make the most of it I think Delia won’t let me drive it with her in it”. 

The dog beach still features large in our evening plans, its been raining some evenings so we have missed a few. This morning I carefully looked at the rain radar and planned a Sunday beach walk between rain showers. Stormy and showers but not too cold, still bare feet after all (unlike similar Atlantic walks in France).

First two weeks

Hello and welcome from Perth, this is my first blog about Perth since we’ve been back. It is interesting, after coming from France where we were under such a strict lockdown, to here where we are able to have meals out. On Friday after visiting my (new) Oncologist to have my 6 month follow up Pat and I walked around Elizabeth Quays and sat down to have lunch with a glass of wine overlooking the quays – it was lovely.

Now that we are out of quarantine, we have spent the past two weeks doing things to get ourselves established, things like getting our bank accounts sorted, driving licences exchanged, Tax file numbers sorted, medical things sorted, there is so much to do when you move countries. I’ve also had to get myself back on the electoral roll. I’ve also had an interview with an agency about finding work, so hopefully it won’t take long to get a job. We have also hung some paintings in our bedroom to help make it feel a bit more us – I doubt this will be surprising.

I’ve also slowly been catching up with various family members, this has been nice and most people have been very generous with helping us with various things (like lending us cars – especially so that Pat and I could get his new 2nd hand desk to mums). We’re continuing to sort out the admin and catch-up with people this week. Hopefully the main bulk of the admin will be completed this week and we will be able to buy a car in the next couple of weeks.

The other things we have been doing very regularly is going for a walk along the dog beach, we haven’t been able to do this every day, but most days we will drive to the beach and watch Siena run along the sand, say hello to other dogs and try to avoid getting wet. We went this morning and it was fantastic and there was even a coffee van to buy a cup of coffee after our walk. Pat and I are also really enjoying this aspect of our new lives, walking along the beach with lots of dogs just makes one smile.

So for now à bientôt from our wonderful part of Australia.

Arrival

So we have finally arrived in Aus, probably 6 months later than planned with the help of extra uncertainty of the last nearly three months under lockdown.

I have to say the journey here was spooky – empty roads, empty airport terminals, empty planes. The Doha to Perth leg was extra luxurious as we had a great offer for upgrade to Business Class. The staff were dressed in full protective gear with goggles, masks and full body suits – for the full 11 hours flight. I was especially impressed with the camera views on the plane which gave much better views than we could get through the windows. Delia was especially impressed with the champagne on offer at her whim!

The first leg of the journey from Paris to Doha, started in daylight flying over Epernay in Champagne, Germany and then the Carpathian Mountains, before flying near Baghdad and on to Qatar.

I would certainly recommend Qatar Airlines, business class especially.

Landing at Perth was enhanced by being able to see the view from the underneath cameras. Arriving just at dusk we got to see out first actual traffic jam for 3 months.

De-planing and heading into the terminal led us to a physically distanced queue to have our temperature monitored and a brief few questions about our state of health, then onto another queue awaiting our police interview. The two of us positioned at the end of a long table with the fully gas-masked policeman at the other end. This was played out in a row of about thirty tables. We were interviewed about all the details we had already provided in our Exemption Pass but also had our IDs confirmed. We were the led outside the terminal building and across tarmac to waiting buses. After a (physically distanced) wait of a further half hour or so we finally left in a convoy of four busses with a police car escort.

Arriving at The Westin hotel in central Perth we were escorted in through the back door (like celebrities, our hotel escort quipped) and straight up to our twenty first floor room. To see a view that would become familar, very familiar, very very familar over the next two weeks.

As you can see above, its a very well appointed room. A fantastic view which below are some variations – the view doesn’t change, just the time of day and the weather. As confinment spaces  go, this is pretty cool. 20 paces long 12 wide. Why do I know this? Because we pace it between 250 and 500 times a day. Food is OK, airline quality mostly (economy!). Delivered at 8am, 12pm and 6pm every day, they knock on the door and we wait 10 seconds for them to scuttle off somewhere out of site. We did have a care package (biscuits, crisps, chocolate and fruit) brought by Delia’s Dad via hotel security,

We have kept ourselves busy, more or less as we have since lockdown started in France 3 months ago – me doing web stuff and Delia art and youtube training (and other) videos by day and much the same during the evening but more entertainment focussed. For the first week, the view from our elevated eagles nest was of mostly deserted streets but this week Perth has opened up much more and cafe tables are appearing on the pavements as well as many more people. This makes us much more impatient to get out and back into… well… Life.

We have just had a nose and throat swap (yuck) which heralds our exit. If we test negative we exit on our 14th day of quarantine. We really don’t mind since the few cases that have occurred in WA have been from people in quarantine and the restrictions imposed here seem to have worked.

Below I have posted some of the many photos I have taken of the view. And at the very end a timelapse of one of the many beautiful sunsets that we liked to sit and watch. On 4 occasions sipping Sauvignon Blanc Semillon (courtesy of the expensive hotel service).