Saturday, October 31, 2009

Two weeks after the trip and I am still not done with the travel-blog. I looked at my pictures from Albany and realised I had almost forgotten the name of the places we visited. Good thing I saved the tourist maps. KM thinks I am a hoarder, but hey you never know when you need things.

And to those (few) who do pop by to read this blog. Thanks for your emails and online messages. But, do leave your comments on the blog too.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Day 6. 13 Oct 2009 . Tuesday

 We feed the animals in our Margaret River farmstay for the last time before heading down south. Wasn't such a good idea to stay at a place with animals in the end. I thought the girls would love the animals and would be kept busy. Well they were; but a one and three year old just don't understand that you need to leave shoes with the animal and peacock (frequent visitors) poo all crusted underneath outside the cottage, not inside. And you just don't eat off the same floor you step all over in. Maybe we are more particular than others about keeping the floor clean enough to lie on (which Ellie and Cait do all the time). But the dirt management was driving us crazy.

We stock up on treats (you absolutely need these for long drive trips with kids) before we head south. The landscape changes as we make our way through the forests. We realise that Western Australia is more beautiful beyond Margaret River which is touristy and overpriced compared to the other regions. We drive through Kari forests and stop at the Hidden River Estate near Pemberton for lunch. Again the highlight of the stop for Ellie and Cait is the playground and flowers. It is becomining a ritual, this flower picking.

We reach Albany after a four hour drive.  Our service apartment, The Rembrant at Foreshore Apartments is pure luxury. It is one of two apartments owned by a couple for short term stay. We feel like we are guests in a tasteful and well-appointed home. Ellie jumps onto what she calls "the princess bed" and sinks into pillows. The kitchen has everything a cook needs- olive oil, a selection of spices, gourmet coffee, and gloves for the dishes (hooray-by now my hands are rough and cracked from all the washing). 

Monday, October 26, 2009

Day 5. 12 Oct 2009 . Monday

By now a daily routine takes shape. We plan an activity in the morning, then lunch, and then a drive, by which time Ellie and Caitlin are asleep and we get a chance to enjoy a quiet drive somewhere. 

We are less ambitious today. Half way into the trip and KM and I are already tired. The girls are still snotty and coughing but well otherwise. We drive to the Berry Farm for lunch. Not berry season but a beautiful place for lunch, brunch or tea. Ellie and Caitlin pick flowers, play at the playground while we take turns keeping an eye on them both and have hot beef pie, sausage rolls, carrot cake and homemade scones for lunch.

It is spring and the flowers are in full bloom. For the first time KM understands the fascination of birdwatching. There are just so many pretty little birds around he can't help test out his macro lens. I had to include KM's picture of the bird on our bottle. It was only later in the night that KM told me that he forgot to mention that a bird had perched on our bottle, and by the way, did you (I) drink water out of it?  To which I replied, Why didn't you tell me earlier!

Day 4. 11 Oct 2009 . Sunday

I can't believe I am blogging about something that happened more than a week a ago. Just need to get this whole trip into this blog. I am looking through the photos and already am forgetting where exactly we went. Now which beach was that again?

Spend the morning visiting Margaret River Chocolate Factory (expensive chocolates but ooh so lovely; the kids get handfuls of chocolate pearls for brunch), Fonti Farm Cheese Factory (we buy a block of cheddar and later discover it is 30% cheaper in the supermarket, sigh).  Then lunch at the The Colonial Brewery. It is called Colonial but looks like it was just set up a month ago. We choose the Brewery not because we drink (we don't) but because there is a children's playground on the premise. 

Then, after lunch, a drive up north to Dunsborough where we spend about an hour picking shells and playing in the powder-fine sand. The beaches here are gorgeous. Clean. Picture perfect. The air crisp and the sea breeze chilly. We take a scenic drive back and stop by Yallingup (more pictures). The vineyards north of Magaret River Town are by far the most scenic in this area.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Day 3. 10 Oct 2009 . Saturday

After a very cold night in our cottage, we spend the morning feeding animals on the farm. The rain is intermittent and the weather blustery.  But it is our first time feeding any of these animals so we "weather" the cold weather. If only we had known that Ellie and Caitlin would develop full blown colds. Then off to the farmer's market in Margaret River town.

This is a lot smaller and queiter than I expected. Maybe it is too cold for most of the produce to be in season. Or is the town always this quiet? We have lunch in a little pizza restaurant in town. Woodfired pizza's (yum) on a cold day. We are the only people in the restaurant. Where is everybody else? Caitlin loves the crust. The only children's food on the menu in most places is nuggets and chips or fish and chips or ham and cheese sandwiches. I have to let convenience override and let the children have chips and nuggets and ham for more than a few lunches in a row. At least I know we will have homemade dinners.

After lunch we drive to Gracetown; a little town along the coast. And spend the afternoon hunting for seashells and hiding behind the rocks to get some reprieve from the cold wind. It is supposed to be spring but feels wintry.

We head back to our cottage for a onion chicken soup dinner by our gourmet chef KM.

Day 2. 9 Oct 2009 . Friday

We have breakfast on the balcony, check out of our apartment and spend the rest of the morning in King's Park which is just at the end of Mount Street. The parks in Singapore are tiny in comparison. King's park stretches for acres and acres. Ellie and Cait love the open space. And the flowers. Everyone stops to smell the flowers, and we have lunch a little cafe in the park before we head off for our 3 hour trip down south.

We arrive at Margaret River Hideaway in Margaret River. This is "farmstay" type accomodation. Not a working farm but with enough animals to keep the young guests busy. Our cottage is the smallest. A studio with just one bedroom and an area that doubles up as a living and dining area. KM makes a Carbonara and drizzles some olive oil on steamed asparaus for a restaurant-worthy dinner.

Day 1. 8 Oct 2009. Thursday

We arrive in Perth after a long flight. (it always seems longer with the kids) Ellie has definitely grown up since our lost trip. Our little three year old traveller spends half the flight watching the in-flight TV shows, headphones and all, and the other half playing with the Qantas kids pack. (Lots of stuff in those). The girls only start to fret during the descent when their ears hurt.

We pick up our rental car then lose our way trying to find our way to our service apartment. Riverview on Mount Street. Because Mount Street has been sawn in half by a freeway. We circle the book many times before finding the other half.

Riverview on Mount Street is a block of converted "Bachelor Apartments" (I guess they were old inner city tenements for immigrants) in a gentrified neighbourhood. The new apartments along Mount Street are all very posh. Ours is probably the most modest. Simple, modern; with touches of the original building in place. Fully equipped and at a last minute price of A$89. What a steal! hotels in Perth are so expensive we were so happy to find this one.

We meet old friends WK and P for dinner. The girls are exhausted by then. Caitlin won't sit down at the table and keeps sitting on the floor; taking of her socks and shoes. Both girls decided to poo at dinnertime. HC and R come by for dessert with their 3 year old and the 3 girls start doing their colouring at the table giving us adults some time to catch up on conversation.

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We are back. 1500 kilometres and 1332 pictures later

We made it to Western Australia and back. With the two girls in tow on what turned out to be a much longer (in terms of distance) trip than we expected but shorter (10 days didn't feel that long in the end) than we thought it would be. The first few days were tough with both girls and us getting colds in cold and windy Margaret River. But by the end of the trip everyone was well with the four us simply basking in fantastic weather and scenery down south. No time for a travelog this time round. Was pooped at the end of each day. Only managed to write once (on the first day) this time round. So here is everything as far as I remember.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

No thank you papa

By the way, Caitlin is starting to put her words together into little sentences.
"No thank you, papa"... when we offer her milk (why doesn't she drink more milk!)
"Mama please help me"
"Meimei hit head"... when she bumps her head

Planning ahead for the first time

Dear, dear I am down to one post a month. Been up late planning the longest and furthest family holiday to date. A four hour flight to Perth for a 9 day driving trip. With the kids in tow you just don't want to spend more time in the plane then you have to. Looking forward to the good weather. I can't believe how much time I have been on the internet looking for places to stay, trying to get interesting places with a touch of panache and maybe class without blowing our budget. Not easy. The nice places always come expensive. This is the first time we are booking ahead for a driving trip. We usually just leave the country with an airticket, the first nights accomodation and a guide book, but with Ellie and Cait we just didn't want to end up driving in circles in darkness, with 2 whiney kids looking for somewhere to stay. Will write more soon. Probably when I am back from my trip.