A Tasty Month

I can’t believe April is almost over. It’s been such a hectic month, and it’s just flown by. But it’s been an enjoyable busyness, and I certainly preferred it over the languishing nothingness that seemed to define March.

One of the things I most enjoyed about this month was eating out in my home city. I love the ever expanding food scene in Perth. There are new places opening up all the time, which makes it nigh on impossible to get through all the cafes I’ve got on my ‘to-eat-at’ list. Add to this, it was school holidays, plus the weather has been absolutely glorious!

Seriously, autumn has been better than summer this year, with endless days of clear, blue skies and sunny afternoons. Daytime temperatures have been warmer than usual, while the mornings and evenings are crisp enough for cosy jumpers, but not bitingly cold. It’s simply divine, and the perfect weather for exploring and being outdoors.

In the lead-up to Easter, I cut out eating biscuits, chocolate, cakes and ice-cream, so I was definitely craving some sweet treats.  Consequently, I think I consumed more sugar in the week following Easter than I did in the month preceding it.

One meal which stands out from my recent foodie forays is the apple pie French toast which I ordered for breakfast at Jack & Jill, which is located in Kalamunda, a suburb in Perth’s hills. It was absolutely heavenly. The brioche toast was lathered with the most divine creme patisserie I’ve ever tasted- it felt like eating a cloud. (Or what I imagine eating a cloud would feel like!) The dish was complemented by apple and brandy butter, while a sprinkling of oat crumble provided some crunch, and pieces of rhubarb gave a touch of tang to this delectable dessert-style breakfast.

IMG_0190

I also had a decadent breakfast with my friend, Suz, at Little h. When we were in Kangaroo Island for our hike earlier in the month, I told Suz that this newly opened cafe was serving up red velvet pancakes, which led to many indulgent daydreams while eating yet another packet of beef jerky for dinner.

It was an exciting moment when we entered the sleek, modern cafe in Duncraig last Sunday and the waiter confirmed the pancakes were still available. The order was placed and before long, a plate of three ruby red pancakes with thick swirls of cream cheese frosting was placed in front of both of us. A dream was finally realised, though the pancakes were so rich that we almost felt as though we had to go on another hike to burn off the calories!

IMG_0244

As well as these delicious breakfasts, I’ve also enjoyed two outings to the family-and-furbaby friendly cafe, Slate; used up an $80 gift voucher at Shadow Wine Bar in Northbridge; tucked into a delightful pear and gorgonzola pizza at Comet Pizza, before polishing off a classic taiyaki ice-cream at neighbouring Whisk; eaten the most scrumptious choc-orange doughnuts for ‘lunch’ at my favourite restaurant, The Hummus Club (and got their amazing brownie to take away); celebrated a friend’s 30th with a high tea at Madhatter’s on Milston and chilled out with friends at Mandoon Estate on Anzac Day.

My sweet tooth has definitely been indulged this month, but there’s room for one more treat before April is out. Tomorrow, my brother and I are heading to Cafe 2TwentyFour in Belmont to try their brand new Raffaello milkshake. I can’t wait!

Golden Valley Tree Park

When I walked the Bibbulmun Track last year, one of my highlights was the day I wandered through the Golden Valley Tree Park. This beautiful park is located in the country town of Balingup, which is about 240km south of Perth. To be honest, I’d never heard of the town before I did my hike, but it’s safe to say it’s certainly on my radar now.

I remember it was a sunny winter’s morning as I followed the meandering trail through the valley of the trees. Most of the trees had lost their leaves by this stage, but the surrounding hills were the most vibrant shade of green I’d ever seen. It was a colour that became characteristic of the Balingup area, but until that day, I didn’t think such bright green earth existed in the West Australian landscape. I was left in awe and made a promise to return to the park in autumn.

Last Tuesday, I fulfilled that promise. With my garden-loving mum in tow, we set off for our road trip around 10.30am. I love driving, so it was exciting to hit the road and, especially, to be headed for the country. Despite my love of travel, I tend to go overseas or interstate for my holidays, which means I don’t explore my own backyard nearly as often I should.

There was definitely a sense of nostalgia on the drive down to Balingup, as I passed through several other sites associated with my Bib Track hike. In fact, what should’ve been a three hour drive to get to the Tree Park turned into a four hour drive, as I ended up taking the scenic route through a couple of other Bib Track towns, such as Collie and Mumballup. It was hard to believe that I ever walked to these towns by foot.

Eventually, we made it into Balingup, which was decorated with colourful scarecrows for an upcoming event. The Tree Park is located 2km out of the main town area, and when we arrived, we enjoyed the picnic lunch that we’d packed at home. My mood was instantly bolstered, not only by the food, which went down a treat after our long sojourn in the car, but also by the immediate sense of peace I felt as soon as I stepped out of the car. There were no other people around, and the fresh country air was filled with birdsong, as well as the familiar sound of farm life in the form of mooing cows and bleating sheep.

After eating, it was time to decide which section of the park we wanted to explore. I wasn’t aware on my first visit, but there are actually two parts to the park- the Australian Collection and the World Collection. We opted to walk around the latter. It was so cool to come across trees which had been transported from far-off places such as the US, the UK, China, Iran and the Himalayas.

At first, I was slightly taken aback at how brown the land was. Gone were the luscious green hills that had made such an impression on me, and in their place was a dry carpet of rain-starved earth. But the trees showcased a range of autumn colours, which was beautiful to behold. We don’t get a huge display of fiery golden leaves where I live in Perth, and I miss having the opportunity to observe that distinct, colourful change between seasons.

We wandered through an old pear orchard, which was filled with suspicious sheep ready to run if we dared to come too close. The air crackled with the sound of our footsteps treading upon a crunchy carpet of fallen leaves. The path led down to an avenue of dazzling sequoias, and culminated in two stunning golden ash trees, whose overhanging branches formed a ceiling of sunshine over a little wooden bridge.

In the end, I did seven hours of driving for a two hour walk, but it was so worth it, because if there’s one thing that always manages to lift my spirits and put me in a great mood, it’s a nature retreat!

IMG_0073IMG_0186IMG_0075IMG_0080IMG_0082IMG_0093IMG_0103IMG_0104IMG_0105IMG_0108IMG_0107IMG_0112IMG_0087IMG_0117IMG_0133IMG_0170IMG_0138IMG_0165IMG_0121IMG_0139IMG_0142IMG_0148

1 Week ‘Til America

16351696690_35eef77d1f_o

I knew the hour was early when I opened my eyes and was greeted by a feeble grey light filtering through my window. I stumbled blearily into the kitchen and the clock showed six oh five. But a sudden realisation woke me right up. This time next week, I’ll be sitting on a plane, about to depart my home for six weeks, and ready to see what there is to see in the USA.

Despite my love of travelling, it’s been a long time since I’ve been so cognizant of an upcoming holiday. It doesn’t usually hit me until the day before, and then it usually feels like a huge inconvenience because of all the effort involved.

This time, it’s different. For the first time in a long time, I feel really excited. Almost like a newbie traveller again. Perhaps it’s because my trip to America has been in the pipeline for so long now- practically a year- that it’s surreal to think that a countdown of 365 days has dwindled down to seven. I’ve waited a long time for this trip and now it’s almost upon me.

***

In the hour of transformation between silver dawn and golden day, time seems to take on another dimension. It stretches out before me, like a piece of elastic. I see the 29 years of my life that have led to this moment, and they seem like nothing at all.

And yet six weeks stretches out of sight, and trying to decipher what it encompasses feels like looking into eternity. It’s vague and grey, like the early morning, appearing unpredictable yet feeling like fate.

Let’s just wander through the hours, undecided about directions but confident we will get to where we need to go. And when it all eventually falls into place, something will have shifted and life will be different. I will appear the same but feel changed.

***

Let America slumber in her final dreams. The silver dawn approaches, and with it, a golden horizon of opportunities.

Let It Pass

post-4153-Isn-t-it-funny-how-day-by-day-DbVy

Music often makes me feel like I was born in the wrong time. I’m wrapped up in songs that call from distant horizons. Their familiar melodies rise and fall like gentle waves, slowly carrying me away over lulling seas to some eternal land of yesteryear.

Every so often, though, there’s a song that sends out currents strong enough to pull me back to the coastline, like a lighthouse twinkling on a promised land. When an exploration of a modern soundscape confirms that music from the here and now is not altogether lost, it feels like Christmas.

Most cherished of all are the times when I’m guided by an invisible beacon. Like today. I was drifting aimlessly, when I stumbled, quite by chance, into the floating lullaby of autumn leaves that is Jakob Ogawa’s “Let It Pass”. It was like sighting an unknown island paradise in the middle of the sea and then walking, in a daze, through a mirage of sound along a humming shore.

I became lost in an echo of lazy beach days and summer afternoons, where the salty breeze messed our hair while we watched as the burnt sun sank slowly to kiss the balmy ocean, and a hazy dusk spread across the sea to bathe the world in a final glow of glittering light. The waves were liquid amber, and the air was filled with the carefree laughter of youth, as we picked up handfuls of sand and let the grains slip through our fingers, falling freely like specks of gold in the twilight. Then, suddenly, it was dark, and I was all alone, haunted by the laughter of ghosts and surrounded by the shadows of faded memories. The grains of sand lay trapped in an hourglass, and the air was heavy with sadness and bittersweet nostalgia. The best things in life always end far too soon.

Despite getting caught up in a web of sentimentality, I simply adore this song. It has the sort of melody that I feel, rather than hear, so that I fall into it, like I fall into dreams. Those are my absolute favourite types of songs.

Another Hike Complete!

collage9

Last Friday, I flew to South Australia to hike the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail. Over five days, my friend and I walked the 61km that make up the trail, which officially opened in October 2016. The trail winds its way along the south-western corner of the island, and provides views of spectacular coastlines and rugged bushlands.

I can’t begin to describe how wonderful it felt to be out hiking again. Sure, every day, my friend and I grumbled about the weight of the pack on our shoulders, groaned about our feet being sore from walking for hours on end and complained about being covered in sand and dust and grime. But at the end of the day, I love the hiking life, and I miss it once it’s over.

What I find myself missing most of all is the peace and quiet that comes from escaping the hustle and bustle of modern life and being surrounded by nature instead. The frantic pace of everyday life definitely gets a bit much for me sometimes and it’s not until I step away from it all that I realise just how overwhelmed I’ve become. Living in a pressure bubble with a constant list of unattainable expectations is just not good for the soul.

Hiking life is so beautifully uncomplicated. All I do is walk, eat and sleep, and yet every day is full of adventure and surprises and breath-taking new sights. It reminds me that when you keep things simple, there are enough hours in the day after all, and they certainly don’t need to be spent trying to squeeze in as many things as possible from a never-ending to-do list (or procrastinating from doing them, as is so often the case for me). It’s also a welcome relief to be disconnected from social media and the digital world for a while. My senses are suddenly liberated from having to process rapid-fire streams of information, while my mind isn’t weighed down with negativity from the latest news reports providing updates on all the bad things happening in the world at large. When I go out hiking, I’m reminded that the world isn’t all doom and gloom. It’s a beautiful place, actually. It’s just us humans who make it ugly. How nice it is to wander in the wild and find places which are still untarnished and unspoilt by people.

But I digress.

My Kangaroo Island hike was a fantastic adventure, and I’ll be sharing photos and writing about the experience in the upcoming days. There’ll be stories of battling fierce winds that threatened to blow us into the Southern Ocean; a failed rendition of Baywatch- With Backpacks; a face-off with the fattest tiger snake ever; roaming the rocks of a seaside Stonehenge; a match-making cape (or not); river crossings and cotton cloud beaches; tents full of sand, sand and more sand (but thankfully not mice); and how a horse named Kelly discovered some pretty darn cool caves. Stay tuned!

It’s Adventure Time!

1d0b07b4594a246cd567295343775457_1000-images-about-im-going-meme-going-on-an-adventure_552-368

I can hardly believe that in about three hours, I’ll be on a plane bound for Adelaide, considering that I still have to finish work, drive home, get changed, and be dropped off at the airport. Life has been so busy recently that I can’t wait to just sit down on the plane and breathe.

My friend and I are off to hike the Wilderness Trail on Kangaroo Island. We’ll stay the night in Adelaide tonight, and then fly over to Kangaroo Island tomorrow morning to commence the five day walk. The weather is looking lovely, which will be perfect for appreciating the scenic views that the island is famous for. By Wednesday, we’ll have (hopefully!) completed the 61km trail. We have an additional night on the island to relax, before heading home to Perth on Thursday.

I finished packing my backpack last night, and was amazed that I managed to squeeze in my sleeping bag and tent. Despite hiking for six weeks straight on the Bibbulmun Track last year, I have a feeling the weight of the pack is going to come as a complete shock. It never feels too bad when you first put it on, but after a couple of hills, a few kilometres, and several hours of walking, that sentiment definitely changes!

Nevertheless, I can’t wait to be out on a trail again. I love the simplicity of hiking life, and ever since I got back from Sri Lanka, I’ve been in a bit of a funk. For the first half of March, I felt that I wasn’t being productive enough with my time, while for the second half, life has been so hectic that I’ve felt like an idiot for ever complaining about having too much time on my hands, as I’ve often wished I could grab my hands on a Time-Turner from Harry Potter.

Today also marks exactly one month until I start my storm chasing tour in America. Now that I think about it, I reckon the next few months are going to be crazy busy- so I better relish this hike!