Colonial Brewing Company

In recent years boutique breweries have made their mark in the Margaret River wine region, providing yet another diverse attraction for this wonderful area. There’s plenty to choose from, and like the wineries, most also have reasonable lunch menus to entice and satisfy their patrons.

Paul’s ‘at home’ beer of choice lately is the locally brewed, Colonial Brewery’s, Small Ale. With an alcohol content of 3.5 he finds he can have a two or three with little effect, and he enjoys the taste.

Last week we decided to take a trip to said brewery to see what other tipples they have available on tap. It’s a rustic sort of establishment, with both alfresco and inside dining. I tried their apple cider, very refreshing, while himself partook of their IPA (6.5%), which he proclaimed to be full of flavour and, “pretty, damned good”.

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Tastefully rustic

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Loved the professionally done graffiti on the toilet doors.

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More words of wisdom.

For those unsure of which ale to buy, a sample board with all five tap beers can be purchased.

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Sampler trays for those spoilt for choice.

We ordered our salads for lunch, me a frekkah, feta and beetroot salad, and Paul a classic Caesar. Then out to the alfesco area to sip our ales overlooking a tranquil lake while we awaited our meals.

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Happy in the shade sipping his IPA

All of the wineries and breweries have their eateries overlooking water of some sort – it seems to go with the territory. Doesn’t matter whether it’s a lake, or an ocean, it sure beats eating inside a stuffy restaurant in suburbia.

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An unusual garden seat.

My salad was good, and reminded me of the first time I ever heard of, and tried Frekkah, which was at Maggie Beer’s farm shop in the Barrossa Valley in South Australia. For those of you who don’t know what Frekkah is, it’s green cracked wheat – very nutty and tasty. Paul said his salad was lacking and he’d had better Caesar’s. Didn’t matter though, what mattered was just getting out and having a look.

We finished off the day with a wander up the main street of Margaret River, and an Ice Cream cone at the Ice Cream shop. Daily living in an area that overseas tourists find awe inspiring, and Perth people only get to enjoy now and again for a week or two at a time. An area with so much to offer. Living here – what a pleasure!

Australia Day, family beach day

Australia day. A day for families. We wandered down the shoreline today observing the crowds. What stood out most was the laughter. No tears, no yelling, and no drunken idiots. Just families and groups of people gathered together under their sun shelters with their picnics, their games, their toys and their boats. People enjoying the sun, and the sea and the beach. I love Australia day.

Colourful sun shelters dot the shoreline.

Colourful sun shelters dot the shoreline.

And more in the other direction.

And more in the other direction.

Canoes at the ready.

Canoes at the ready.

Boats anchored while it's owners enjoy a picnic on the shore.

Boats anchored while their owners enjoy picnics on the shore.

Beach cricket.

Beach cricket.

More people having fun in the sun.

And around the groin more people having fun in the sun.

Crowds, but still space to spare.

Crowds, but still space to spare.

Our beach is normally almost deserted, but on Australia Day it comes alive with people. I don’t mind them sharing our little piece of paradise when they’re having so much fun. Come Monday, they’ll have all returned to their homes and their jobs and their schools in Perth – and we will have our beach back to ourselves again. A joy to see them here, but an even greater joy when they’re gone and we have the beach back to ourselves once again. They only get to have an occasional day in paradise. We have it all summer long – what a pleasure!

Sliding doors/wishes can come true

Sometimes ‘pop ups’ come up on facebook reminding you of where you were at, or what you were doing on that particular date a year ago, two years ago, or as in today’s case five years ago.

Five years ago today I had posted that what I wished for was for us to sell up, buy a fifth wheeler and a cheap property to rent out, and to hit the road. At that time it was just a dream, a dream I didn’t think had a chance of being realised, or at least not for many, many years.

At the time of that ‘wish’, we had been working towards retirement at the age of 62 (we’ll both be 62 in May of this year). We were going to build a house on our block in Busselton, and buy a little caravan, most likely an A’van, and we were going to spend the summers in Busselton, and go north to Broome for much of the winters.

A brief summary of what evolved:

We did buy our fifth wheeler less than two years after that post, and plans to ‘live the dream’ were evolving. A short time later our house was sold, and by February three years ago we had both retired from everyday employment, and we hit the road full time, proving that wishes do sometimes come true.

It didn’t quite go to plan. We’d hoped to spend at least seven years ‘living the dream’, and travelling as homeless Grey Nomads around this great big country. Dreams and plans often evolve and change, and for those who know us well, you’ll know it’s true when I say ours can change and evolve more often than most peoples. We can change direction faster than the wind.

If you’ve seen the movie, Sliding Doors, you’ll remember that Gweneth Paltrow missed her train, the doors sliding shut in her face. The movie shows two parallel situations, one where the doors didn’t slide shut and she caught her train, the other showing what happened when she missed the train. The end result of both scenarios had her ending up in the same place – only with the right guy.

We often refer to ‘sliding door’ situations, the what would have happened if we’d taken a different path than the one we did actually take.

In this instance, many twists and turns later and somehow we’ve ended up in almost the same place where our original plans would have taken us – retiring by the age of 62, living in Busselton and travelling north for much of the winter, a real life sliding door situation.

We didn’t build the grand house we were going to build on the Busselton block we had. Instead we have bought a quaint little cottage in a similar location, only a few minutes walk from the beach. We have a lovely mid sized fifth wheeler instead of an A’van, and our intention is still to travel north to warmer weather for much of the winters.

We don’t have the savings we would have had, had we continued working full time until we reached this same stage in life, but we have enough to muddle through on.

We’ve had a few adventures on this different road that’s bought us to an almost identical place. Would we have changed any of it? No! I don’t think we would. We’ve seen a lot, yet we’ve left lots to see. We gave up normal employment much earlier than we otherwise would have, and for us that’s a good thing. The actual path we took to get to where we are now, although vastly different than the plan we had been working towards, has still ended up with us living in arguably the best place on earth – Busselton. What’s not to like about that – a real pleasure!

Raksha – 2017 winners of Busselton Battle of the Bands

I survived the week-end, and so did the band.

They put a lot of effort into rehearsing, even writing a new song for the finals on Sunday. It must have paid off because their performance was brilliant, and they took out first place.

Garage rehearsals.

Garage rehearsals.

Ethan on keyboard

Ethan on keyboard

Jarrod on drums.

Jarrod on drums.

Patrick and Josh on guitar

Patrick and Josh on guitar

Time out - Patrick giving the unicycle a go.

Time out – Patrick giving the unicycle a go.

And Josh showing everyone how it's done - he's multi talented that grandson of mine.

And Josh showing everyone how it’s done – he’s multi talented that grandson of mine.

I can’t usually say I enjoy the band’s performances. I don’t think that’s a reflection on them, but rather on me. Paul, who has a more versatile taste in music usually enjoys their sound. I’m still a bit stuck back with the mellow tones of Simon and Garfunkel. Psychedelic Pop rock is just a tad out of my spectrum. However, even I was blown away by their performance on Sunday night. I enjoyed it!

They were polished, and played to the audience. For Friday night’s heats they played four of their more ‘out there’ songs (my description would be screechy). However, they realised they had a better chance with this audience if they mellowed it down with some contrasting songs to show their versatility. It paid off. Not only did I thoroughly enjoy their performance, the judges did too.

Raksha in the finals.

Raksha in the finals.

They won $250, a $500 recording contract, and a gig at one of the local breweries. I’m not sure when the gig will be, or if it’ll be a paid gig, but they’ll enjoy it no matter what.

So, a great result.

The four boys who stayed with me the whole week-end were brilliant, and four was a pleasant and tolerable number in my little house. When the other two arrived, with a third (boyfriend of singer) in tow, the dynamics changed somewhat, and it tended to become a bit much. But we all survived it, and without any major dramas. I still haven’t caught up with all the laundering of bedding and towels yet though.

So, would I offer up accommodation again – yes, but with a difference. If there’s a next time, my original offer will be the only thing on offer. That is, bring their own air mattress, camp bed or swag, bedding and towel and they will be welcome to bunk down in the garage and use the little bathroom that links to it. Band practice, because they were very good, and very considerate with the volume, that’s a yes, but not three days of it. And definitely band members only. No boyfriends, (or girlfriends). If their lovers want to come with them – ‘rent a room’.

I would still supply some meals for them, but would also set up the barbecue and make sure our little drinks fridge in the garage had space for them to provide some meals for themselves as well.

Alice (Josh’s mum, and my daughter) intended to come down on Monday sometime so as to spend Tuesday, the day of her granddads funeral with me. However, with the band getting into the finals, Alice came a day earlier on the Sunday. So I had an extra person as well, but being another fully matured adult, Alice balanced out the dynamics somewhat.

After the boys went home on Monday afternoon, Alice and I shared some rare ‘girlie time’ together, having a look around the Busselton shops, and then happy hour at nearby Stilts restaurant.

The following day, we played some games of crib in honour of Glyn, then went to a local winery for lunch where we drank a toast to dad/granddad.

Alice looking stunning in a blue dress colour co-ordinated with the blue Hydrangea

Alice looking stunning in a blue dress colour co-ordinated with the blue Hydrangea

Beautiful Hydrangea at Aravina Winery Estate - beautiful meal too.

Beautiful Hydrangea at Aravina Winery Estate – beautiful meal too.

I’ve spent today getting the house back into shape. Paul is now on his way home, so tomorrow I’ll be driving up to Perth to meet him We’ll spend the night at Alice’s celebrating Josh’s 20th birthday, then home again on Friday.

So, having the band stay here and practice here, – a mixture of pleasure, and ‘how did this happen’. Certainly a pleasure to have time with Josh to get to know him and some of the people important to him in his life at the moment.

The band winning – what a pleasure!

Sharing some rare mother/daughter time with Alice – what a pleasure!

And Paul’s on his way home. It’s been a hard three weeks, for me, but much more so for Paul. I can’t tell you what a pleasure it’ll be to see him again. Can’t wait.

Goodbye to dad.

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Sadly, Paul’s dad passed away only a few days into the New Year. It was good that Paul was there at the time, and therefore managed to spend his dad’s last few days with him. I’m pleased he didn’t have to die alone. No-one should have to die alone.

His funeral was today, and currently Paul, along with dad’s other close friends and family will be at the wake celebrating dad’s life. There will be tears I’m sure, but also a lot of laughter as humorous stories are shared  of dad’s sometimes infamous pranks and anecdotes. He was a very funny man. He was a really good man. And he was a truly contented man. I loved him very, very much.

I wish I was there as dad’s last hurrah takes place. Whilst his chapter is now over, his memory will live on in our book of life until our turn comes.

Dad, you were a truly good father, father-in-law, and grandfather to Paul, myself, Alice and Kelvin. You may be gone from this earth now, but your memories will continue to enhance our lives. We’ll continue to play crib in your honour, and we’ll continue to recall and re-tell your humorous stories. We loved you dearly dad. We’ll miss you. You were a ‘good man’. And I mean it more than words can express when I say it was a real pleasure to have known you. Rest peacefully dad.

A housefull of teenagers (and just beyond)

I currently have grandson number 2 staying with me, along with three other members of his six member band, Raksha. So, that’s four staying, and the other two are currently visiting for the day, along with the boyfriend of the lead singer.

The band breaking for lunch.

The band breaking for lunch.

How did this come about, I hear you ask? And I’m asking myself the same question.

It went like this:

When Josh came down over Christmas I said,

“The garage would make a pretty good place for the band to stay should you ever get a gig in Busselton, all you’d need is some air mattresses or camp beds”.

The idea of band rehearsals was briefly raised. I said,

“No, we live in an oldies area, it’s a place to stay, but not practice, at least not with any noise”.

However, I think what Josh heard was,

“Look at our garage, wouldn’t it make a cool place for band rehearsals, as long as you only practice at half volume.”

At the time of the discussion Josh was staying here along with Number 1 grandson, and Alice and Paul. The caravan was offered as a place for someone to sleep at that time, but at that time was declined. Now, not much more than two weeks later The Battle of the Bands is on in Busselton, and you guessed it – Raksha entered the completion.

Josh, doing battle.

Josh, doing battle.

Along with having worked out the garage was a perfect place for rehearsals, Josh had also worked out the logistics of the sleeping arrangements for the entire band for three nights. And so, I have four of them staying here, utilising the caravan and the two spare bedrooms. Today the other two band members are visiting, along with the boyfriend of the lead singer. And, there is talk of these other three also dossing down – still to be decided!

So, here’s how it’s gone so far.

What I wanted to say was this,

“Okay, guys some basic rules:
Beds get made,
Towels get hung out to dry,
You all help with dishes,
The toilet brush is to be used should you cause a need.”

However, thinking that might clearly sound like someone speaking in tongues, I decided to only go with two, the dishes and the towels.

Dinner dishes were done last night.
Late night dishes were left for the morning (an act of consideration apparently as they may have made too much noise) – that’s cool.
Breakfast dishes were good.
Lunch dishes with three additional dinners – not a chance…… I could see it clearly didn’t cross any ones mind.
And  two towels have been hung to dry. Goodness knows where the other two are.

I’ve closed the bedroom doors, best not to look! I’ve no idea where the other two towels are, but should they be screwed up wet on a bedroom floor I’m sure the lesson will be learned when they find out this little household of only two people doesn’t have any more spare towels.

So, apart from being shell shocked as my peace and tranquility has been shattered, how else is it going? When there’s only four of them, it really is good, no problems worthy of mention really, and in fact, good company. Manners and thoughtfulness, are in evidence most of the time, and they are respectful. However, when the numbers swelled to seven I was feeling a bit like the intruder. The thoughtfulness previously in evidence diminished considerably. I guess seven people channelling all their energy into their creative talents overshadows all other thought.

They have now gone out for a few hours, so I’m enjoying the quiet, no radio, no TV and definitely no band practice in the garage. Absolute bliss. Before they left, I gave them a gentle reminder about ‘the dishes’. A couple of slightly embarrassed faces when they realised that yes, they had jumped up from the lunch table and rushed back to band practice without a thought to their plates. I think they took it on board.

Oh – and the Battle of the Bands, they had the heats last night. I tried to take some photos during the night but most turned out to blurry. My new friends and neighbours, Kay and Brian came with me. It was freezing and we only stayed long enough to give our support to Raksha. It was great to have had some company, I really appreciated it.

Kay and Brian supporting me and the band - check out the pod Kay is cocooned in against the cold - cool eh!

Kay and Brian supporting me and the band – check out the pod Kay is cocooned in against the cold – cool eh!

We came home before the finalists had been decided. It was good news when the boys came home. They’re in tomorrow nights finals along with three other acts. They seem to think the others are pretty good, so although they’re hoping to win, they know they’ve got to work hard it, and even then perhaps they may need a bit  luck on their side as well. And then if they do win, they have to hope they don’t get disqualified. The competition is open only open to residents of the South West, so they’re illegal entrants. They’re looking on the bright side, should they win, and  their Perth residency status be discovered, they could get disqualified. They’ve decided should that happen, disqualification will only serve to get them noticed even more. Gotta luv ’em.

Watch this space for tomorrow nights results. Hopefully I’ll manage to get some clearer pictures of the band on stage, which I’m sure you’ll all be eager to see.

Another year begins

2016 is done and dusted, and 2017 begins. Paul is beginning his new year in the cold of the UK again. He left on the 28th December with the intentions of being over there for 3 weeks. The intended purpose was to finalise his dads flat and all the associated direct debits.

However, only a few days after arriving his dad was taken to hospital with pneumonia. Options have been exhausted and there’s nothing more can be done except for dad to be kept comfortable. He’s been transferred to a hospice for palliative, end of life care, so now it’s just a matter of time.

The waiting is difficult. I gather that although dad is on morphine he’s not resting comfortably. Paul is tired, and struggling, and I’m feeling useless and impotent being so far away. His cousin Stephen is being very supportive, and his other cousin Margaret is due to arrive in Manchester from Portsmouth later this afternoon.

Paul and I had talked about the possibility that this may occur, and had decided it wouldn’t be sensible for me to jump on the next plane and head over there too. So, whilst it’s my instinct to do just that, I’m sticking with the intended plain. Paul’s intended three weeks is most likely going to be extended, but until his dad actually goes we don’t know how much longer will be needed. A difficult time…..

I’m here on my lonesome keeping the newly planted garden watered in the heat of summer. With reticulation restrictions in place it felt like a full time job when we went through a particularly hot spell a few days ago. Thankfully, it’s cooled down again now though, so not quite so full on.

Apart from the all consuming wait, what else has been happening in this neck of the woods. My little job that I started just before Christmas at Bunbury Farmers market was a job that felt like it had been tailor made for me, with the exception of the distance. It’s nearly an hours drive in each direction. At the end of a shift I was finding myself tired, and the drive home into the setting sun didn’t feel that safe. With the addition of losing sleep with worry about dad and Paul, it’s brought forward what was probably inevitable in light of the distance. I’ve decided it’s not practical or safe to continue, so my status of ‘semi-retired’ has reverted back to ‘retired’.

Probably just as well. Number two grandson is coming down to Busselton with all the members of his band, Raksha, next week-end for the Battle of the Bands. They are intending to be down here for three nights and want to use our place for rehearsing. I’m not sure how many are staying here. I gather some have family down here on holidays for at least part of the time, so it may not be all six every night. Josh has indicated it most likely will be all of them for some of the nights. I think it’s just as well that I’m going to be here full time to ensure the neighbours remain on speaking terms at the end of the three nights – I’ve heard the band practicing before! What Josh thinks is an acceptable volume for neighbours is somewhat different to what we think. So, next week-end I’ll be kept on my toes…

Watch this space – photos of Josh and his band coming soon…..