Dog friendly – The Fire Station Bar, Busselton

Having the addition of a four legged family member changes our ‘out and about’ focus. Whilst we will still go out on our own from time to time, there will be many days where we’ll be wanting to include Mr Tilly in our outings.  Consequently, dog friendly venues are now on our radar.

You’ll notice I’ve included a new DOG FRIENDLY category. Posts such as this one will be listed under all the relevant categories – food experiences, tourism at home, WA the south west, and when appropriate will now also be listed under this new category – Dog Friendly.

On a particularly busy day last week we hadn’t had time to eat, and had passed our usual lunch time. We still had a number of things to do before we would be returning home, so we used the opportunity to try out a little boutique bar and eatery in the centre of Busselton’s Main Street – The Fire Station.

Located at 68 Queen street, Busselton, the fire station was constructed in 1936. Built in the inter-war, functionalist style of architecture, the building was used for its intended purpose until 1990. A number of years followed when it was  used by local art groups, or charity shops. In 2013 an application was made, and granted, for the building to be re-incarnated as a boutique bar, a welcome addition to the Busselton food and beverage establishments.

When we visited last week we didn’t have Mr Tilly with us, but when some patrons arrived accompanied by their fur baby we realised it was ‘dog friendly’. There’s an outdoor area to the side of the building, and also a pavement alfresco area where dogs are allowed. Not only did we not have Mr Tilly with us,  we hadn’t taken our camera either. So, apologies for the quality of the photos, all have been taken directly off the net.

From the food menu we chose to share a plate of steamed bao buns, along with a basket of chips with aioli. An IPA was chosen from the selection of rotating craft beers to wash down the buns. Both hit the spot beautifully.

After the light lunch had established the Fire Station is a venue worthy of a return visit, we enquired as to their happy hour offers. They offer ‘five at five’, between the hours  of 5pm  & 6pm week days. Five items are chosen each afternoon to list from between their food and drink menus. These are offered at the reduced price of $5. I’m sure we’ll find something to suit us when we return during their happy hour one afternoon, perhaps with Mr Tilly next time.

Now that we have our four legged family member, and are on the look out for places that allow dogs, we’re delighted to see an abundance of choices. Our last canine family member passed away almost 25 years ago. I remember finding the choice of places available to which she could accompany us were very few, and often far between. There’s so many venues, and places available now. Being able to include him in our outings is going to add to our outings, and to his lifestyle. It’ll re-enforce his acceptable social behaviour, and will help satisfy his need for mental stimulation. The positive changes in places that now accept and welcome dogs to their premises – what a pleasure!




The new camera

Paul says he’s not taking me shopping with him again! We went to Camera house to look at a Lumix FZ300. However, a few questions later, and a bit of a look at the Lumix FZ2500, and we had it (the FZ2500)  bagged up, along with a starter kit, and a tri-pod, ready for us to be on our way. Of course, it was me asking the questions, so the bigger, better camera is my fault……

So why the FZ2500: Firstly, from what I’m told, it’s a pretty good little Bridge Camera. What’s a Bridge Camera, I hear you ask (I know I did). Apparently it’s a camera with lots of capabilities that are normally associated with the big cameras that come with lots of interchangeable lenses (the full Monty) – only with a Bridge Camera, the functions are built in, and the camera is still relatively light weight and portable. They’re not as good as the Full Monty, but they’re not a bad step down. The zoom on the FZ2500 is particularly good. It has good light sensors. And setting it to 4K, it’ll take a burst of photos, which will apparently be good for action shots.

Six days later and so far so good, but it’s a bit of a learning curve.

Although the photos I’m displaying here are by no means particularly good photos, they will demonstrate a bit of what the camera is capable of – the photographer though still needs some experience to get the best out of it.

Paul took the first group of photos at a bay nearby, Point Picquet (pronounced PeeKay). Point Picquet is famous for whales. They come in to within around 15 metres from shore. Despite their massive size, our usual little camera (Lumix DMCTZ 65) wouldn’t have been up to capturing a photo of them at all.

We were in luck. Two whales were heading south, and only about 20 metres off shore. Unfortunately, they didn’t stop as they sometimes do, nor were they having a frolic as they also sometimes do. The only chance of getting a photo was to be zoomed in on them as they surfaced fleetingly for a breath.

As you can see, it was a dull day, so not the best of days for photography. Despite the lack of natural, bright sunlight, the light sensors have clearly let enough light in to allow a clear photo, even if the whales are only two tiny specs on the horizon (about a third of the way from the left hand side).

Zooming in, Paul managed to get a shot of one of the whales as it surfaced to breath. It wasn’t the photo we had hoped for, but it demonstrates the zoom ability of the camera.

Next, some photos of some birds on a rock.

 Zooming in, the birds become clear.

And on another rock.

The next photo was taken at Bunker Bay. A dog was standing guard on his owner’s fishing line. He didn’t take his eye off the line, clearly ready to sound the alarm should a ‘bite’ have become obvious. If you look closely you’ll be able to see the fishing line across the top, right hand corner of the photo (follow the dogs line of sight). We were impressed that the line showed up. Any photos taken with our normal camera on this particularly dull day would most likely have ended up too dark, and would have been discarded. Certainly, the fishing line wouldn’t have been visible.

The next two have been taken of Mr Tilly. Until the new camera Paul had been frustrated trying to photograph the little ratbag. Tilly’s dark colouring doesn’t lend itself to good photographs, and any photos we’ve taken in the past have required a lot of editing to lighten them up. This first photo was taken in the lounge room in the late afternoon. No lights were on, Paul didn’t use the flash, and it didn’t require light editing. The light sensors within the camera did the work, and the auburn lights in Tilly’s chocolate coat are shining through.

The second photo was from a burst of photos taken on the 4K setting. Tilly was jumping for a ball – and yes, I know it’s a long way from being a great photo, or in fact, even a good photo. Despite Paul’s many attempt to get the Tilly facing the camera as he jumped, he always managed to get the ball on the wrong side of the camera, and turned his back as he jumped. The only reason I’ve included the photo here is because it’s the first action shot Paul’s  taken with the camera that has been kept.

I’m sure one day in the not too distant future we’re going to look back at these photos and think, why on earth did we publish those terrible shots. And that’s exactly why I have published them – to create a record.  It’ll be such a pleasure to see the improved shots as Paul familiarises himself with the new camera, and it’s functions, and gets some experience behind him. Watch this space to see the progress……


Fields of Arum lilies

Driving through the south west of WA in the spring, the fields of Arum Lillies are breathtakingly beautiful. Growing with wild abandon absolutely everywhere, they create displays that must surely rival Wordsworth’s Daffodils. Beautiful, but not wanted in WA.

A perfect specimen of a flower – if only it was wanted

The Arum Lily, from South Africa,was introduced as a plant to glorify our gardens. The flowers are beautiful and indeed, glorious, albeit poisonous to both humans and animals. However, that’s not where the real problem lies. No-one could have anticipated how rampant it would become once it escaped the confines of the household garden. It’s now classified as an invasive pest, and you only have to drive through the Margaret River region in the Spring, knowing it’s not a native, to understand why

The 2011 bushfires that ravaged the area around Margaret River had an additional devastating consequence. The open soil left in the wake of the fires provided ideal conditions for the lilies to multiply, dare i say it, faster than wildfire!

In open areas, birds are spreading the seeds, and individual clumps are sprouting up, only to later multiply into visually stunning fields of toxic green and white. They’re taking over the land faster than our our own natives can regenerate, and are consequently making it difficult for the native bush to compete.

This years clumps become next years fields

Despite an eradication program, the banks of Arum lilies don’t seem to be diminishing. One day, hopefully they’ll be gone, but until that day, with reservations – I’ll still enjoy the stunning (albeit hopefully temporary) display they create in the spring.

Western Australia’s famous wildflowers

Life is settling down again after Mr Tilly’s arrival. His training is well on track, and we’re gaining a bit of freedom to come and go, sometimes with him (cautiously as he’s still not old enough to be fully vaccinated), and sometimes without him.

This week we took an overnight trip with him up to Perth to meet Alice’s older dogs. Of course, being a puppy, he loved them a lot more than eight year old dogs want to be loved. It’ll take a few interactions for them to be comfortable with a rat-bag puppy, especially in their territory.

While we were up in Perth, Paul treated himself to the long awaited camera upgrade. More on the new camera later. This post is about our first excursion to try it out.  What better subject to try it out on than the famous WA wildflowers.

Candle like Banksias

It’s spring, and the wild-flowers are blooming. We headed to Carbunup Reserve in the shire of Busselton, a wooded area just off Bussell Highway.  At first glance it doesn’t look like there’s an abundance of wildflowers, but as you walk along the track concentrating on the flowers rather than the trees, you start seeing them in abundance.

Full sized gum nuts on a baby tree

The reserve is full of gum trees and banksias.

Home for the critters

Big tall gum trees, small gum trees just sprouting, and old, dead gum trees. The dead trees still standing provide nesting spots for the birds that like the hollowed out dead branches to nest in. The older fallen trees provide shelter for all the little critters than rely on decaying tree wood for their shelter and homes.

And in between all the ordered chaos that forms the natural habitat of Carbunup Reserve sprouts an amazing profusion of wild flowers, and wild orchids.

Apologies up front, I know very few wildflowers by name, neither the botanical, nor the common names. It’s on my list to learn, but for now you’ll just have to make do with seeing the pictures.


My favourite amongst them is the Kangaroo Paws – Western Australia’s floral emblem.


Vivid red and green everywhere.

We left the reserve and headed south past Margaret River to The Berry Farm, one of our favourites lunch spots. On the way we came across a mass of Everlasting Daisies at the entrance of Margaret River township. I think Everlastings are native to WA, but more so in the north eastern wheatbelt area. They’re so pretty though when planted on mass, and don’t seem to cause any invasion problems, so they’re often planted where a profusion of easy care, colour is wanted.


A profusion of colours

A good start to trying out the new camera – and a new camera a great inspiration for getting into the great outdoors. A real pleasure to see Paul resurrecting a hobby from almost 40 years ago.




Of toys and bikes

He loves his toys. He puts them in his bed, then takes them outside, then immediately brings them back in again and puts them back to bed.  His night bed (inside his crate) is a bit bigger than this one, so more room for both him and his toys. I can see a bigger day bed is going to be needed soon.

As long as there’s room for the toys…

Sometimes he piles in on top of them, and other times he naps with just his head on the bed keeping a watchful eye out.

Sleeping with one eye open as he watches over ‘his babies’

A beautiful sunny day today, so after his run along the beach, it seemed like a good opportunity to try him out on the bike.

Ya can go further on a bike!

He seems to be interested in most new experiences – the bike didn’t prove to be an exception.

Bit of fidget bum yet though!

Paul’s using my bike that already has a basket on the front to get him used to it. Once he’s used to it, we’re going to fit some sort of box or basket to the back of Paul’s bike. I’ll be leaving that to Paul though, I can barely balance myself on a bike, so no wriggle worms are coming with me on my bike rides.

Yep – he’ll get used to this fast I think.

I can see the two of them whizzing along the bike path at break neck speed before too long. Walks on the beach, swims in the ocean, and rides up and down the bike path – he’s going to be one very lucky little puppy……

Mr Tilly (AKA Rastas) – 11 weeks old

We’ve survived the first three weeks and of puppy training. Rastas is now 11 weeks old, and has been with us for three weeks. What a roller coaster of a three weeks that’s been.

He’s had his second lot of vaccinations. His third lot are due in around ten days time. It’ll take about a week after the third vaccination for him to fully protected against the deadly Parvo virus. Some web sites say he’s reasonably safe two weeks after the second vaccination, and some say definitely not until after the third one. The vet says after the third one, but we’re figuring vets have to advise on the side of extreme caution.

Speaking to other dog owners, the general consensus is that life is very difficult with a puppy kept in the confinement of their own home.  Apparently this age is the most important time for puppies to be learning socialisation skills, and if puppies aren’t exposed to other dogs, and a variety of people at this vital stage of their life, they are likely to develop social problems. So, a bit of a dilemma!

We will enrol him in the next lot of puppy school, but that’s not for another couple of weeks yet. In the meantime we’ve decided on a pathway of exposure to the big wide world somewhere between almost total confinement, and a moderated introduction to the great outdoors.

We walk him down to our local beach, but keep him in the middle of the road on the way there. The road gets very little traffic, so cars aren’t difficult to deal with, and by sticking to the middle of the road we keep him away from the vegetated curbsides where other dogs have left their marks. It means he doesn’t get to enjoy all the sniffing around that he’d otherwise be able to enjoy, but at least he’s getting out and about, and he’s loving it.

We pick him up and carry him down the narrower pathway that leads to the beach. He doesn’t get put down again until he’s almost at the water line, where hopefully the tides have done a good job of washing the shoreline clean. We avoid most dogs, but let him greet, or by greeted by any people who look interested in making his acquaintance. He’d lick them all to bits if he had a chance – he’s a very social little puppy. He’s meeting people of all ages, and he’s loving it. He’s a different puppy since he’s started getting out and about. And I must admit, Paul and I are happier too. I think I was getting  ‘post puppy blues’!

There are quite a few dogs on the beach, but all are far more interested in their own beach walks than checking out a puppy who isn’t presenting a bottom to sniff, or isn’t interested in sniffing theirs (as seems to be the way of one canine greeting another). Whenever a dog comes near, we pick Rastas up – no bottom sniffing allowed yet.

A couple of days ago though we did stop and talk to another Labradoodle owner. After quickly establishing, Jimmy, was fully vaccinated we stopped to discuss our dogs, and to let them check each other out. We had thought we were stopping to talk to the owner of a fully grown Labradoodle. We were shocked to find out Jimmy is still a puppy, and in fact, is only two weeks older than Mr Tilly. Wow, he must be at least four times bigger….. Jimmy’s owner was equally as shocked to note the size difference.

Rastas with his first ‘beach friend’

Jimmy is a standard Labradoodle. Mr Tilly is a medium sized Labradoodle. As well as that, Jimmy, like Mr Tilly came from a litter of seven, but Jimmy was the biggest of his litter, Tilly was the runt. We each took out our phones and snapped photos, as we exchanged stories on the delights (or not) of puppy rearing.

Jimmy and Mr Tilly (two weeks different in age)

Jimmy’s owners had been contemplating adding to their human family, but instead opted for a puppy. Apparently, the realisation that a puppy isnt easy has hit. In her words, she thinks the puppy is actually harder than their human counterpart, and had she known how hard it was going to be, perhaps a human baby may have been the easiest option after all.

Now though with the first three weeks behind us, and now that Mr Tilly is getting a lot of outside stimulation, he’s showing signs of becoming a terrific little dog. The house training seems to be well on track. It’s been a few days now since he left any puddles inside the house, and about a week since he did any of his other business inside the house. I imagine there could still be an accident or two yet, but as the weather warms up, I should think these will be less and less.

He sits as a ‘yes please’ for his meals, or for any treats on offer, and he sits (although not very calmly) when we’re putting his lead on him for a walk. He walks on a reasonably loose lead, more so for me though than Paul I think with that one. That’s because I insist on it, and if he pulls I stand still. Once he realises he’s not actually getting to walk anywhere unless he stays at my side with a loose lead he obliges quickly.

He loves playing tug, and he’s starting to chase a ball and bring it back.

He settles well into his crate at night, which we put at the entrance to our bedroom. As soon as we start getting ready for bed he heads into his crate. He goes out the pet door to do his business through the night, and stays quiet until around 5.30am. Then he seems to think it’s time for us to wake up – we’re usually awake then anyway, and I think he’s only reminding us he’s been on his own long enough. We make a cuppa and take it back to bed, and he’s then allowed up on the big bed. He seems to appreciate that’s a bit of privilege, and snuggles down between us and goes promptly back to sleep while we enjoy our cup of tea.

So far, so good as far as any unwanted destruction. Not having children makes that easier. Paul and I are aware that anything left around is fair game for him to cut his teeth on, so we keep everything out of his way that he’s not allowed, and we make sure he has plenty of allowable chew toys within his reach. As well as chew toys, we give him a raw chicken neck every second day. He loves them, and I’m sure they’re doing wonders for his sharp little puppy teeth.

If you’d asked me a week ago what I thought of having a puppy, I’d have said it was awful. Now though that we’re taking him out and he’s getting the stimulation he obviously needs, he’s not even hard work anymore. He’s shaping up very well, an absolute pleasure!


A tribute to mum

This week the local supermarket had pork forequarter cutlets on special for $3 a kg. How cheap is that! Would you know how to cook pork forequarter cutlets? I’ve never cooked them before, but thanks to lessons learned from my mum, I didn’t have any difficulty in working out a way to cook them that made them both tender, and tasty.

Have you heard the saying, ‘you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear’? Well, as far as cooking went, my mum could do almost exactly that. She could take the humblest of ingredients, and turn them into a very palatable, nutritious meal. In fact, my mum was pretty darned amazing at a lot of things that involved living on ‘the smell of an oily rag’ – another saying mum was fond of.

I knew mum’s  story while she lived, but I never appreciated it then. I had to grow a little myself before I could appreciate, and feel proud of how she dealt with what life threw at her, and how her difficult life helped shape me.

One thing mum appears to have passed on to most of her children is the ability to take a few cheap, basic ingredients and turn them into a decent meal. Most times, we don’t have to look up a recipe,  it’s as if we we’ve been born knowing what to do with a tough cut of meat, or how to get some flavour and nutrition out of a knuckle joint that most people would discard. Perhaps we were born to it, after all, we come from good old fashioned Comfort stock. Gladys Comfort was our mum, and this is her story.

Mums story:


Mum’s parents emigrated to Christchurch, New Zealand, early in their married life. I know very little about my grandparents apart from that they were £10 poms, and I know one of them was born in Old Kent Road.  I noticed that on either a birth or death certificate at some stage.

Mum was one of nine children, a twin, and all but one of her siblings were girls. Her twin sister was tall, slim and dark. Mum was short, chubby and fair. I gather there was a considerable amount of jealousy as they grew up, with Aunty Dorry being the popular, good looking one of the two – or at least that’s how mum saw it. Her confidence and self esteem remained low throughout her life.

My oldest brother Lindsay (now deceased) arrived in 1945, the last year of the 2nd world war. Mum wasn’t married, and I gather his biological father was an American sailor.

The war ended, leaving a shortage of men. A short, chubby woman with an illegitimate child had limited options. I’d like to be able to say mum beat the odds, and found a loving relationship in spite of her circumstances. But mums story isn’t the happy ever after fairy tale life that happens in Catherine Cookson novels.

Mum did marry. A ‘shell shocked’ farmer from the isolated west coast of NZs South Island needed a housekeeper, and mum needed a husband. A win/win for them both – or was it a lose/lose. I’ll never know. I gather they had little love for each other. Never-the-less, five children followed within the next 8 – 9 years. I was the youngest of their union.

Mum was widowed when I was only a few months old. A second marriage followed. Id like to say this one came about from undying love, but again – no such fairy tale. My step-father was certainly no prince, nor a knight in shining armour. He was a drunk, and mum was a lonely widow with six young children. I gather the shame of the illegitimate child had left a lasting legacy, and mums siblings offered little in the way of friendship or support after she was widowed. I gather friends were also nowhere to be seen. There was no birth control in 1956, and – well I guess you can work out the circumstances that prompted this next marriage. My younger sister arrived considerably less than nine months after the marriage took place.

I think there were government created opportunities at the time to get people into their own houses. By the time I was five, mum and my stepfather, Roy, had moved into a newly built three bedroomed, one bathroomed house. Along with the house came automatic life insurance that would ensure the mortgage was paid off in the event of death. All that was needed was for the insurance papers to be signed and returned. They never were.

Roy, died two years later. Mum now had seven young children, a new house on a 1/4 acre block, and a huge mortgage.

The world had moved on after the 2nd world war, and the general population was starting to become comparatively affluent. People that had been living frugally since the Great Depression no longer needed to be so thrifty. A move away from ‘real food’ was beginning. Packaged, and tinned foods were hitting the market, making housewive’s lives easier. However, these new foods cost more money than a widow with seven hungry mouths to feed could afford. Mum continued to cook the way her mother before her had cooked during the Great Depession.

And that’s why when I was growing up and my friends were eating a lot of modern meals based on packaged or canned goods, I was eating meals based on fresh vegetables picked from mums home grown vegetable garden.   We always had some sort of animal protein, usually in the form of mutton, mince, offal, or in some cases just a soup bone.

We ate well. These are some of the things I grew up eating but my friends did not:

Lambs hearts, with liver and onions (I loved the hearts, but hated the liver. I love it now)

pigs head brawn

pressed tongue

pigs hocks (used as a base for a hearty soup)

baked rice puddings (no carnation canned rice pudding for us)

sago puddings

bread ‘n butter pudding (something most housewives were happy to move away from).

A lot of women would have turned to drink in circumstances as difficult as mum found herself in. I rarely saw mum touch a drop. Instead she put her energy and love into her garden, and her children. She sewed our dresses, and knitted our jumpers. She stitched warm, woollen, patchwork quilts for our beds, and she planted and tended a massive vegetable garden to put fresh greens on our plates. She kept chooks for eggs, and she killed and plucked chickens for our Christmas dinner. And when all that was done, she planted flowers, lots and lots of flowers.

When I stayed over at friend’s houses, it was clear our humble, crowded house lacked the nice carpets and modern furniture most people were enjoying. However, that wasn’t what I noticed most. What stood out to me mostly were their bland meals, and their garden, or should I say lack of a garden.

Mum wasn’t academic, and offered little encouragement for education. It took me many years to realise she taught us non-academic things, things that have mattered to mankind over and above anything academic since the year dot. Survival! Should there ever be a total collapse to the world as we know it, it’s the life skills that mum taught me that will help me and mine survive.

She wasn’t demonstrative either. I was never welcomed home with a hug or a kiss, Her welcome, although not in the manner of physical contact, was there, clearly evident for all to see. Her welcome came in the form of pretty, scented flowers surrounding our house and the smell of something cooking in the oven. A kiss on the cheek at bedtime was never forthcoming. Her love instead shone brightly from the multi coloured, warm, woollen, patchwork quilt under which I snuggled at night.

You were no academic mum, that’s for sure, but you taught us well.  I wished I could have told you that in your living years, mum –  I’m so very, very proud to say I come from ‘Good old Comfort’ stock!