Adventures in South West WA (with a dog)

on Food, Travel  

So we went on this trip to Denmark and Albany in June last year, and this post has been sitting in my drafts pretty much since then. Seemed a shame to waste it, so here it is, better late than never!

This time I wanted to share some of the great dog-friendly places we visited, in case you’re thinking of taking your pup to South West WA.

Stay

Unless you’re camping, AirBnB is usually the safest bet for finding pet-friendly accommodation. Our one this time also had a lovely fireplace, perfect for the chilly winter weather.

However, what it didn’t have was a good place to leave our dog alone in a secure yard for a bit whilst going to non dog friendly places, like nice restaurants or national parks. Jasper is usually pretty happy to nap if we leave him to his own devices, especially after a good walk, so this is something we try to look for in dog friendly accommodation now.

Eats & Drinks

As usual, most places with outdoor seating are cool with well-behaved dogs sitting with you and have a water bowl available. It’s not ideal when the weather is crap, but we were lucky to get some beautiful weather in between two storms!

The Williams WoolshedWilliams
There’s only so many places to stop for lunch along the 4-5 hour drive between Perth and Albany, and this seems to be a popular one. They have a large lawn outdoor area and pretty decent pies – just be aware that on a long weekend the queue to order gets pretty long!

Willoughby Park & Boston Brewing Co.Denmark
This Denmark winery/brewery has pub restaurant and a huge lawn area with picnic style seating. I didn’t try the beer, but dropped by the cellar door to see what wines would go with my prawn and chorizo pizza, going with a crisp Riesling. A whole bottle, because they said I could take the rest home with me so why not?

Three Anchors – Albany
Convenient spot for lunch after a walk on Middleton Beach, as it’s right there! The share platter has a nice bit of everything.

Oranje Tractor – Albany
I don’t usually get to do much wine tasting when travelling with Jasper, as usually cellar doors are indoors and not so keen on letting dogs inside. Oranje Tractor has a beautiful outdoor garden where you can do tastings, but they were also nice enough to let us sit inside by the fireplace and let Jasper play with their cellar dog, Merlot. The tasting flight includes natural and organic wines, paired with cheese and other local produce, some coming from their own organic orchard. It was lovely to visit somewhere smaller and less commercial, where someone sits with you for a chat about wine instead of pouring and hurrying off to the next customer. I’d love to come for one of their pizza nights if we head back that way in summer.

Limeburners – Albany
We couldn’t not visit Western Australia’s first Single Malt Whisky distillery! Each taste has a fee, but is a generous 15ml pour of excellent whisky (or gin, if that’s more your thing). We came away with a bottle to add to the collection.

Walks

Dogs aren’t allowed in national parks, which sometimes means it’s slim pickings! We found some pretty decent spots though.

Monkey Rock – Denmark
After a short but steep climb, you’re rewarded with a rock formation (which does not in any way resemble a monkey) with gorgeous views out to the coastline. Worth it!

Lights Beach – Denmark
This is the most beautiful dog-friendly beach I’ve ever visited! The sand is fine and white, the ocean relatively warm (although too choppy for swimming), and interesting rock formations to explore. It was also relatively quiet, with just a few other people with dogs around – a nice calm spot for a walk.

Middleton Beach & Ellen Cove Boardwalk Albany

This was a nice easy walk on boardwalks along the coast, although the best bits are early in the walk.

I really wanted to hike Bluff Knoll on this trip, but being in a national park it wasn’t going to be a dog-friendly expedition. Next time!

How time flies

on Life, Pregnancy  

It’s been almost a year since my last post here, and my plans to spend more time writing in 2018 haven’t really gone as well as I’d hoped. But at six months pregnant, I feel like I can go a little easy on myself!

When I started telling people that I was expecting (at ten weeks in, being excited and impatient), I heard over and over again that the being pregnant time will just fly. “It’ll be over before you know it!”

At first though, time felt like it was going really slow. One thing that doesn’t seem to get mentioned much in mum blogs is just how much waiting there is in early pregnancy.

Waiting for cycles, symptoms and the right time to pee on a stick.

Waiting for a doctor to confirm that yes, the blood test does confirm that the three home tests you did are correct and you are in fact pregnant.

Waiting for the symptoms you see in movies to appear (I was lucky enough to not deal with any morning sickness or dramatic fainting spells).

Waiting for the first visit with an obstetrician to do a scan, because despite the symptoms and the pee sticks and the blood tests, it’s all still a little surreal.

Waiting for the “safe” time to start telling people (then deciding screw it, and telling them anyway).

Waiting for the “safe” time to really start getting attached, planning for the future, and tucking away the fear that statistically there’s a real chance that all those delicately programmed multiplying cells might not get a chance to manifest into a baby (this is much harder, and why I reasoned I needed people to know and to understand early).

Because my symptoms were luckily mild, ranging from feeling pretty much normal to a mild hangover level nausea and tiredness, my first trimester basically just felt like waiting. Unlike my usual projects, there’s no list of tasks (“what body part should I start on today?”), no way of making things go faster, no minimum viable product, no measures of success that are really within my control. It’s just watching my diet, taking my supplements, and letting my body run on autopilot. It’s weird and scary and exciting, but sometimes frustratingly slow.

Things have course picked up from there, and the bundle of multiplying cells has graduated to a being that makes his or her presence very clear by doing kung fu moves in my belly. I’m sure that once they’re out in the big world and our lives become a blur of sleep deprivation and baby smells, this quiet time of waiting will feel like it really did fly by. But for now it just feels like time is passing as it always has.


At first I was worried about writing about pregnancy (and eventually mum) stuff here on this blog, but what else am I going to write about here? Does anyone still read this blog anymore anyway?


Rollercoaster 2017

on Life  

We made it!

2017 sounded like a rollercoaster year for everyone, and it certainly was for me too. Towards the end of the year when people asked me how I felt it went, I wasn’t quite sure – but now taking a closer look, I actually achieved quite a lot. Here’s a little look at the highlights of my year, mostly in photos.

Exploring

After a few years of big holidays, we’re staying a bit closer to home for a while, with short trips to Manjimup and Dwellingup being our only getaways. These are enjoyable in a different way – more quiet, more walks in nature, more down-time spent reading and painting. On big holidays where I’ve flown a day to arrive at the destination, it’s hard to stop myself over-scheduling in an effort to not waste a single second. It always takes me a day or two to adjust to the calm on our short road trips in Western Australia, but I’m sure that I’m better for it.

Camping was a challenge for me, as I haven’t camped in a tent for over 15 years! But since I’d like to someday be able to do multi-day hikes, this felt like a good start. I didn’t do as much local bush-walking as I’d have liked in 2017 – hoping to do more exploring closer to home this year.

Eating

I indulged a little too much in 2017 – which I’m paying for now, but oh it felt so worth it at the time! Besides the usual special occasion dinners, I found myself doing a lot of brunches. I can see why haters would say brunch is an overrated meal, but I think brunch is an expression of leisure (and therefore, privilege) – it says I have time to linger over a long meal in the middle of the morning, to have someone poach eggs for me and make me coffee better than I can at home. Yes it’s indulgent, but you could say it’s less indulgent than an expensive dinner or a night out drinking. Also I can bring my dog and not look out of place in activewear, which are major plusses in my opinion.

Besides dining out, there was a lot of cooking and eating with friends in our homes, with an ever-increasing standard that, in my humble opinion, could compete with fancy restaurants (and the booze is much cheaper).

Making

The first half of the year I was trying to build a profitable side quest* out of my lettering work, which led to some pretty awesome projects for clients and more workshops than I’ve ever done in a year. Although I ended up taking a break from paying work in favour of more experimentation, I’m pretty proud of all the things I ended up making, for myself as well as for clients. My favourite thing is still my first ever mural, which is the biggest and scariest thing I’ve ever painted!

I also completed 12 months of monthly newsletters and free calendars, revamped my workshop booklets and worksheets, tried out etching and foiling, made a simple font and generally had a great time playing around with things.

* “side quest” is what I’ve decided to call my non-day-job activities, because I’m over the term “side hustle”.

Working

In my review of 2016, I wrote about falling out of love with web design and growing frustrated with the trends and constantly shifting expectations. A big part of this was trying to be everything – UX, UI, front end development, project management, content creation etc etc… being a unicorn is just not sustainable! So towards the end of the year I moved on from agency life to corporate life, to work as a UX/UI designer at Bankwest. It’s very very different, and I’m still getting used to it, but it’s nice to not have to be everything at once.

I’ve also done some volunteering, working as a gallery attendant at Paper Mountain on weekends, and mentoring via AGDA and WebGirls. Hoping to do more speaking and sharing in the coming year!

 

 

 

The year wasn’t all wins and art of course – I’ve had periods of frustration and anxiety, uncertainty and low self-confidence. There were a lot of times where I went through actions without a whole lot of mindfulness, and made poor choices as a result. I made big goals and then changed course; I’m not sure if that’s a good thing yet or not. But it’s a fresh year, and although you shouldn’t wait for a near year to have a fresh beginning, it feels as good a time as any.

How was your year? Wishing you an excellent 2018!