Le Chic En Rose

Diaries of an independent traveller

What a difference a few weeks make! These photos were taken at a breakfast catch-up with a friend just over three weeks ago. We went to Hamptons a cafe/restaurant overlooking the Indian Ocean at City Beach. Leisurely breakfasts, long lunches and sit down coffees by the sea are (for now) a thing of the past although cafes and eateries can offer takeaways and home deliveries.

 

 

Our younger daughter, Mlle, arrived back from London last Friday on one of the last (for now) Qantas non-stop flights to Perth. She had to make an 11th hour decision and we are so relieved to have her back here for a while – her plans to move to Berlin in September are obviously on hold. The music industry (she works in PR) has taken a massive hit with the cancellations and restrictions. She’s currently doing mandatory self isolation for 14 days mostly in the upstairs bedroom/ensuite away from the rest of the household but we do allow her to come into the garden where we can chat at a safe distance across the courtyard! She’s 3 days in with 11 to go and fingers crossed all will be well!

We are adapting to the social distancing rules, which do change with confusing regularity. I know we are luckier than many others as we can continue to go for our walks and bike rides as long as we observe the correct distance.

Hope everyone is doing well – stay safe and take care! À bientôt!

 

Copyright © 2020 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved

 

 

 

 

Well what surreal and unsettling times we find ourselves in! It’s only a couple of weeks since I posted my last blog about our trip to London in May last year (see here) and so much has happened in that short time.

It was not a great surprise when Australia’s borders were abruptly closed this week – we are attempting to “flatten the curve” by employing social distancing measures early on in the epidemic although we are moving inevitably towards stricter quarantines and lockdowns especially in the eastern states, which currently are more affected than Western Australia. For now schools here stay open but…..

It was a shock however when Qantas, the national airline, announced the cessation of all international flights from the end of the month (31st March) until at least 31st May but the flight hiatus will almost certainly be much longer than that. In practice this means the end of flights next week on the prime London to Perth non stop route. Citizens and permanent residents can come back into the country assuming they can get a flight, which in reality will soon be impossible. There is a 14 day mandatory self isolation on return for all arrivals with heavy fines for non-compliers, $50,000 here in WA. The government has urged Australians travelling or living overseas to get back Down Under as soon as they can.  Those of us with overseas families feel this indefinite travel ban acutely but it is far safer to stay at home and there are many people in worse situations at present.

However despite this being primarily a travel blog I do want to keep posting and reading other blogs – it is a connection to blogging friends round the world at a time when we are, in all likelihood, going to be self isolating in our own homes for quite a while.

It does seem a bit insensitive to carry on posting about past trips at present though I guess vicarious travel will be the order of the day for some time to come. I may well resume my Alaska series (and our trip to Seattle) at some future point. We took a cruise up from Vancouver for a week and one wonders if that section of the travel industry will ever properly recover.

For now I will focus on posting some photos taken in Perth – we are still out and about to some extent but far more limited than usual. My daily walks mean even more than normal and help to calm anxiety in worrying times. The following photos were taken on my regular walk around our suburb. I’ve featured the Trigonometric look-out point before (see here). Spot the kookaburra – he stayed on his perch for quite some time making the distinctive loud “laughing” call as he finally flew off.

 

 

 

Earlier in the year before the school term started, we visited Kings Park with our elder daughter and granddaughters – always a perennial favourite. Here are some photos from that outing. It may be a while before we go back there again (see here for a previous visit).

 

 

Winston Le Schnoodle does not yet understand the concept of social distancing but he is happy as long as he gets his walks. Monsieur took this photo of the sunrise over the Perth Hills last week.

 

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In the meantime stay safe and sound everybody. À bientôt.

 

Copyright © 2020 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved

I meant to include our outing to Tate Britain to see the Van Gogh exhibition last year in my recent London series (see here, here and here). It ran from March to August 2019 though doesn’t really qualify for the theme “Off The Tourist Trail in London”. Sold out sessions and a strict entry policy at your scheduled time spot only meant it was rather the opposite – packed and crowded!

 

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I last saw Van Gogh paintings in real life at the Musee D’Orsay in Paris when we visited back in 2004 and despite the crowds this exhibition was a real treat. As its name suggests the exhibition focused on Van Gogh’s links to Britain – he worked as a trainee art dealer in London between 1873 and 1876.  Van Gogh’s paintings and story were interspersed with the social history of the time including his interest in the novels of Charles Dickens and George Eliot plus his legacy to British painters who were later inspired by his works.

 

I have always found it fascinating how, as his depression and melancholy deteriorated, Van Gogh’s paintings grew brighter and more colourful. They are never garish though – the colours, though rich and deep, are still subtle. I had seen the film, “At Eternity’s Gate” earlier in the year, which gives a dramatic representation of the final years of Van Gogh’s life and tragically early death so the exhibition was well-timed. Despite the tortured soul of the artist the paintings are inspiring and draw you in – hopefully a small antidote to the current world concerns and depressing news (photos were allowed inside the exhibition).

 

 

Beforehand we had enjoyed a pleasant lunch at the White Swan Pub in Pimlico. The old pub situated on the corner of Vauxhall Bridge Road and Causton Street has been trading as a public house since 1759. It must have seen plenty of interesting characters and patrons through its doors over the years! A couple of minutes walk along the road from the pub takes you to the River Thames. This was the mooring spot where back in the day boats would dock in order to take unfortunate prisoners from Millbank prison to Australia!

 

 

 

The quote on the blackboard in the pub reads, “I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people” (Vincent Van Gogh).

 

 

Copyright © 2020 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved

 

 

Another “Off the tourist trail in London” episode this week. This time in Mlle’s local stomping ground round Stoke Newington (she lives just the other side of the main street in adjoining Clapton).

We actually lived on the edge of Clissold Park in north west Stoke Newington in the 1980s for a while and it was amazing to see how the area has evolved. Church Street was rather run down and faded back in those days – now it is a vibrant neighbourhood with trendy shops offering clothing, arts and crafts, food outlets selling groceries, provisions, fruits and vegetables plus plenty of cafes and watering holes. There are a couple of churches, both apparently called St Mary’s, which give the main thoroughfare its name.

 

 

It was a glorious warm May day perfect for wandering through the 55 acres of green open space that make up Clissold Park. You get a feel of the country area this would have been a couple of hundred years or so ago before the villages got swallowed up by the metropolis.

 

 

Near Clissold Park, we found our old flat in Queen Elizabeth’s Walk. It appeared totally unchanged in the 30 years or so since we last lived there (our flat was on the 1st floor). I think some renovations might be in order but it still retains its charm in an area increasingly taken over by some rather drab apartment blocks.

 

On our last morning in London, Mlle took us to one of her favourite breakfast and lunch spots, the Green Room in Church Street.

With a lovely outdoor courtyard at the back, it is both a cafe and a nursery. If I lived locally I would certainly be buying some of the pretty seedlings, gorgeous flowers and colourful pots that were available in the nursery section. The Green Room was the perfect spot for brunch before alas we had to head out to Heathrow Airport for the long flight back home “Down Under”.

 

Our Airbnb apartment overlooking the Regent’s Canal had been an ideal base for our few days stay in the capital. We really enjoy getting to know less well-known parts of the places we visit and it always helps to have a local guide – thanks Mlle! (see here and here for the other posts in this series).

 

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Copyright © 2020 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved

Another place a bit off the tourist trail in London this week. Having been grappling with the WordPress new block editor, I finally seem to have managed to to restore the classic editorial style for the time being.

This week’s post will be more pictorial though than I’d planned but another in my series of  “Off The Tourist Trail in London”. This particular Sunday Mlle took me to Camden Passage Islington a really quaint pedestrian-only thoroughfare right up my street. There were pretty shops aplenty, antique stalls, street cafes and a pleasantly relaxed vibe.

 

 

Beforehand we had checked out nearby Colebrook Row to try and find my great grandmother’s old family home. Her parents ran a mission school here for the many poor children in the area – she was born in 1869 and the school certainly existed to the later 1890s. I know she helped her widowed father run the establishment (her mother died young in 1881). I didn’t know the exact number so we walked up and down trying to figure out where the house must have stood. Later I was doing further research and realised it had been at number 68 and was demolished some years ago. The gap where it once stood now leads into Camden Passage adjacent to an art shop on one side at 66-67 and a bar (69 Colebrook Row) on the other! I did find an article on the street’s history here and it appears certain well-known politicians have called Colebrook Row their home – hmmm enough said! St Peter’s Church Islington, which I found in online family records, has now been turned into upmarket apartments although the facade of the old church remains.

 

 

Later we wandered round more shops including spending a fair time browsing in Waterstone’s book store by Islington Green, an attractive area of communal gardens surrounded by a wrought iron fence. We finished off a lovely outing with some afternoon tea and a glass of French wine at the adjacent brasserie, Bellangers, which alas permanently closed its doors in August 2019 just 3 months after our visit (no connection I’m sure!). There are still plenty of bars and eateries in this area though!

 

 

 

Copyright © 2020 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved

With the summer holidays coming to a close here in Perth it seems a good time to move away from Western Australian posts for a while and finish off my travel series from last year (late April/early May).

After visiting our respective families in Yorkshire and the West Country, Moniseur and I reconvened in London, then travelled to Mainz in Germany for 6 nights in the Rhine region (see that series of posts plus more German travels here).

We headed back to London again by train to spend a long weekend with our daughter Mlle who currently lives there. The train journey was very efficient despite a couple of changes.  We left Mainz at 9.20 am and got back to London St Pancras at 4pm (of course it’s an hour behind the continent back in the UK so the real travel time was just under 8 hours). We went from Mainz to Cologne, Cologne to Brussels and then took the Eurostar train back under the “Chunnel” to London. You do need to book all of those sectors in advance though as they are extremely busy lines.

Our London base was a spacious AirBNB flat in the suburb of Haggerston. It’s one of those places that we’d heard of but never ventured to when we were living in London in the 1980s. Back then this locality in the London Borough of Hackney was not considered a particularly safe area and was rather run down. Today it has been redeveloped with many of the old council estates turned into private dwellings and new buildings constructed. My great grandmother grew up in the Haggerston/Bethnal Green area in the 1870s so it had a particular interest for me (I’ve previously blogged about her mother’s family connections in London here and here).

Our spacious flat had a little balcony with a charming view of the Regents Canal, the same one that wends its way across London passing through Little Venice (see here for a post I did on a previous trip when it was distinctly colder!). We had a regular visitor who popped by to say hello and seemed unfazed by our presence (I know grey squirrels are considered vermin but he was rather cute).

Mlle works in Shoreditch and lives in a flat in Clapton close to Stoke Newington. Since space is at a premium in her flat-share she came to stay with us for the weekend and showed us round her local stomping ground. Haggerston adjoins Shoreditch and Hoxton, now definitely more gentrified than we remembered.

Kingsland Road connects Shoreditch High Street with Dalston and Stoke Newington. It was just a few minutes walk from our flat up to the road where we could pick up one of the numerous London buses or catch the overland from Haggerston Station just off the main drag (when we weren’t walking). The whole area was bustling with people going here, there and everywhere! The elegant buildings fronting onto the high street house a huge variety of shops including many speciality stores. You can take your pick of cuisine from the numerous cafes and restaurants – there should be something to cater for every taste.

We always enjoy Mlle’s local tours, which take us to places that perhaps we wouldn’t have considered otherwise. A pleasant evening walk along the canal took us to Broadway Market in London’s E8 postcode. The iconic street joins London Fields with the Regents Canal. It has the feel of a bygone era – a range of street stalls and permanent shops selling fresh produce, artisan breads, traditional London fayre such as jellied eels (pass from me!) and pretty arts and crafts amongst other things.

At night it is obviously the place to be seen judging by the crowds with the famous Cat and Mutton pub (established 1729) so popular we had to join the throngs of patrons standing on the street with our drinks. Still the ambiance was electric and the street corner was an excellent place to people watch whilst we enjoyed our aperitifs.

The tapas restaurant (El Ganso) that we were lucky enough to get a late reservation for was worth the wait. It was an authentic experience run by very friendly Spaniards – the food was simply superb and the wines outstanding. Highly recommend if anyone is visiting that part of London!

Don’t know if it’s just me but WordPress seem to have changed their entire editing system overnight and when I came on to finish off this post it took me a while to navigate the new system. Hopefully all the links on this post work – please let me know if anyone experiences any problem viewing anything thanks!

Copyright © 2020 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved

Playing tourist in our home town, we visited the Perth Mint in central Perth the other week. It was the first visit for me but Monsieur has been there on a few occasions for various reasons and highly recommended it.

First stop was lunch at the Grosvenor Hotel on the opposite side of the street on the corner of Hill and Hay Streets. A beautifully restored heritage building, it serves good quality upmarket pub food in addition to a wide beverage selection.

 

We had booked to go on one of the hourly guided heritage walks that take place at Perth Mint (check on the link here for further details). The assembly point is at the front of the beautiful old limestone building dating back to the colonial era. The grounds are pretty and well maintained, a quiet oasis in a busy modern city.

 

 

Perth Mint originally opened on 20th June 1899 as one of only six branches of the Royal Mint London. Our guide was entertaining and knowledgeable and gave us a fascinating insight into the early days of the discovery of gold in the Western Australian outback from the 1880s onwards. The most significant finds were out near Coolgardie (about 550 kms east of Perth) in 1892 and Kalgoorlie in 1893 triggering a gold rush (see here). To this day this region is known as the Goldfields. Gold is still mined at various locations in the state.

We were able to see replicas of the gold nuggets found in the early days – life changing for the lucky gold prospectors! We also heard how lonely and unhappy the wife of the first governor of the Perth Mint was. Displaced from her social network in London she arrived in what was then still a relatively small settlement on the banks of the Swan River – it must have seemed like being transplanted to the back of beyond!

 

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Perth Mint is the oldest operating mint in Australia but it no longer produces currency in everyday use (those coins are minted in Canberra). However it does produce a large amount of commemorative and collectible coins as well as a wide range of jewellery.

Moving inside we were taken to one of the tour highlights to see the enormous “One Tonne Gold Coin” officially the biggest coin in the world (Guinness Book Of Record 2012)!

 

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We were led into a darkened room where this beautiful piece of work is proudly displayed on a plinth in the middle of the room. At night it disappears at a press of a button into a vault underneath. I’m quite sure it was heavily wired for security but it would be difficult to organise a heist even if you were so inclined as it weighs, as its name indicates, one tonne (99.99% pure gold)!

 

 

 

Next stop was the “Gold Pour” where, in the original gold smelting workshop (operations have long since moved to a more modern facility further out of town), you are treated to a demonstration of the casting of a gold bar. The melting point of gold is 1064 degrees centigrade! Our excellent demonstrator, Greg, talked us through the process whilst explaining the history of the work. Back in the day the poor gold “pourers” even wore asbestos aprons to “protect” themselves from burning.

Greg deftly poured the molten gold from the furnace into the ingot mould and cooled it down as soon as possible – it quickly became as hard as a rock. Not a job for the faint-hearted – the heat is incredible! We could sense how hot it was even from the back of the room (seating is auditorium style so you get a good view). Naturally no one can go near the stage for obvious reasons. I also don’t think it would be a suitable demonstration for very young children – certainly no one can move whilst the demonstration is taking place. Photos however were welcomed.

 

 

 

Afterwards you’re free to wander through the Mint’s exhibits. We learnt more about the Gold Rush history and saw some examples of the Perth Mint special coin ranges, which are available to buy in the Mint shop or else can be ordered online. We also tried out the weighing machine where you find out how much your weight in gold is worth. Suffice to say Monsieur is worth considerably more than I am!

 

 

 

 

You can either book the guided tour alone or pay extra to include Devonshire Tea at the Perth Mint cafe. Fortunately for me Monsieur had decided to do the latter. A very pleasant tea in the lovely cafe courtyard concluded a very enjoyable outing.

 

 

 

 

As a postscript don’t forget to have a browse in the well-stocked shop – you may need a substantial wallet though for some of the items!

 

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Copyright © 2020 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved

Getting back into routine after the festive season! Our visitors have left us and it seems a bit strange to have the house back to just ourselves and the pets.

We’ve done quite a few local outings over the past few weeks including a pleasant day in Fremantle with Mlle when she was here from London.

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I have posted about a previous trip to Fremantle (see here). By Perth standards it’s quite a historic place being the first port of call back in 1829 when the first European settlers set up a colony at the mouth of the Swan River (see here). However, importantly, it also has a rich indigenous heritage, which you can read more about here. There is an acknowledgement about the land and traditions on the City of Fremantle website:

The City of Fremantle acknowledges the Whadjuk people as the traditional owners of the greater Fremantle/Walyalup area and that their cultural and heritage beliefs are still important to the Nyoongar people today.

It’s always lovely to wander the streets and explore the older style buildings from colonial days. The Fremantle Markets are a wonderful way to while away time and pick up supplies (I have discovered an excellent stall selling all manner of loose leaf teas including all my favourites!)

 

 

Aside from the markets, Fremantle also has plenty of interesting shops selling all sorts of things – artwork, old books, maps and clothing. Monsieur was on a mission to find some old vinyls for the new turntable he received at Christmas! He duly found a store selling a myriad of old records and I left him there to browse for quite a while.

We wandered back down to the sea front and passed by Notre Dame, the univeristy situated in Fremantle – its locations are spread out over a number of old-style buildings.

Later we met Mlle for lunch at coincidentally the same place as my previous Fremantle post – Little Creatures down by the front! I should stress however that there are numerous other cafes and eateries from which to take your pick – The Raw Kitchen restaurant is another of our favourites and the adjoining shop a great place to pick up gifts.

 

 

After lunch we strolled around the historic port front – it was a blustery day though the sea breeze was most welcome. There are some displays about the port’s heritage, an art gallery and steps leading up to the Round House used to house prisoners for many years (we have visited quite a few times so didn’t go up there on our recent visit).

 

 

Fremantle is a perennial favourite somewhere I often pop down to even when we don’t have visitors. If anyone is coming to Perth I’d highly recommend it – it has a charm and character quite distinct from the far more modern Perth city.

 

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We have fortunately not been affected in the Perth Metro area by the horrific bushfires, though there was a severe fire in the Yanchep area to the north before Christmas and the eastern part of Western Australia has been badly impacted by fires near the South Australian border. This is a relatively under-populated part of the state though it has alas burnt through large hectares of bushland and caused traffic delays on the Eyre Highway (the main link road between Western and South Australia).

Thoughts continue to go out to those affected further east by the drought, terrible fires and most recently floods.

Copyright © 2020 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved

Belated “Happy New Year” to everyone from Perth, Western Australia!

The photos below were taken on my morning walk today – we have had beautifully mild weather for the past few weeks in contrast to the heatwaves of November and early December. We are so lucky to enjoy unspoilt bushland in the city so close to our home but it is something never to take for granted.

It is heartbreaking to see the terrible destruction being wrought on such a vast area by the horrific bushfires burning out of control in virtually all states of Australia at present (this does include WA though mercifully so far the fires have been in relatively underpopulated regions).

There are many debates going on about causes, solutions and current and future planning but this is not the forum in which to discuss all of that. For now hearts go out to those affected and utter sadness for the loss of lives, homes, native bushlands and forests, wildlife, livelihoods and more…….

 

 

 

 

Copyright © 2020 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved

Here is a little pictorial roundup of the last few weeks out and about in Perth – not sure where this year has gone, it’s hard to believe we will soon be in 2020!

 

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and very best wishes for the New Year!

 

 

Copyright © 2019 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved

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