Le Chic En Rose

Diaries of an independent traveller

After a week of strangely wet and humid weather courtesy of the after effects of Cyclone Joyce up in the far north, the sun has finally come out and the Perth summer has returned.

Below are a few photos of today’s morning walk on the north of Hillarys Boat Harbour. The last photo is courtesy of fellow dog walkers Anne and Lu – a sting ray enjoying a swim round the rocks beneath the lighthouse.

I have a few more posts of the Perth summer to share soon. I should be back blogging more regularly in a couple of weeks once the last of my summer visitors has left – in the meantime we are enjoying being out and about!

 

 

Copyright © 2018 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved

We had an early new year’s family celebration yesterday out in the Swan Valley at Carilley Estate – a lovely boutique winery and restaurant.

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It’s been wonderful having Mlle, our younger daughter, back from London for the past couple of weeks – just a few more days till she swaps our glorious summer weather for the European winter!

 

 

Hope that everyone has had a peaceful and relaxing Christmas and very best wishes for the New Year!

 

Copyright © 2017 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved

 

I seem to be chasing my tail at the moment trying to get everything done before Christmas. Our younger daughter, Mlle, arrives from London this week for a 3 week visit and then my dad is coming out in the New Year. Hence some of my intended blog posts have gone a bit out of the window – still haven’t finished my Swiss series from this year’s trip so that will have to wait for the New Year!

In the meantime I’m going to do a summer series out and about in Perth – some snapshots of life here. I do realise we are lucky to be enjoying the warm summer weather but if it’s any consolation to northern hemisphere readers I do love seeing pictures of crisp, snowy wintry scenes – it still feels more like Christmas to me that way!

Here in the spirit of the season are a few photos we took last weekend of the Christmas lights in a neighbouring street. We took our little granddaughters along amidst much excitement!

 

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Wishing everyone the compliments of the festive season!

 

Copyright © 2017 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved

 

 

 

 

 

A little unexpected interlude from last week. I encountered an unusual sight when I came back to my car following my weekly Pilates class – a mother duck and 8 little ducklings were meandering through the nearby shopping centre car park dodging cars and Christmas shoppers alike. With the day starting to heat up and no obvious water source it was more concerning than cute.

After a while there were 3 of us trying to cajole the little group along. Several phone calls to the local council and various animal rescue groups (including the RSPCA) established that the mother duck almost always knows what she’s doing and would be leading the ducklings back to her usual territory from the nesting site (which is a fair way from the waterside due to fears of predators). The essential thing was not to spook her or she might take flight and abandon her brood. The problem was she kept stopping for little rests often under someone’s car! After several impromptu traffic stops, Mother Duck finally left the car park followed by her adorable tiny ducklings and waddled off down a side street, which had far more shade and shelter in the form of native bushes.

 

 

 

We knew that she must be heading to a local wetlands reserve, Lake Gwelup, which is only a couple of blocks away down the hill but mum decided that her little family needed a rest and so they took up residence under a particularly large and prickly bush near a roundabout. We poured the last of our water bottles over the area to moisten it for them and decided it was best to leave them to find the rest of the way by themselves (by this time our little rescue mission had taken up nearly 2 hours!).

I went back the next day with Monsieur and had a good forage around the bushes – no sign of any ducks or ducklings nor any that had met with misfortune in any of the neighbouring roads. Finally we headed down to Lake Gwelup and walked round a bit. There was a cacophony of noise coming from the tall reeds by the lakeside and a gathering of ducks and ducklings nearby along with some black swans.

 

 

From what I’ve now read the waddle back to the water from their nest is a rite of passage for young ducklings – a journey they undertake with their mother at only a day or so old. Best advice is not to interfere unless there is an obvious danger such as a car park or busy main road in which case gently corral them in a safer direction. The number one thing to avoid is the mother literally taking flight as the ducklings have no chance of survival without her (and hand rearing is very difficult and requires animal specialists).

These ducks were Pacific Black Ducks (actually brown but with a distinctive turquoise marking near their wing base called a speculum). They are well suited to the often harsh Australian climate although predators do account for quite a few of them and unfortunately they have a tendency to mate with the introduced Mallards, which are not so adaptable to Australian conditions.

However, fingers crossed, these little ones will be swimming round the lake for some time to come!

 

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Copyright © 2017 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved

 

I still have a few Swiss posts to cover from our trip earlier this year but fancied a change of scene this week and realised I hadn’t written anything about our home in Western Australia for quite a while (see here and here).

 

The seasons had shifted when I got back from my unscheduled trip back to the UK at the end of last month – in fact it has been unseasonably warm, but the sea breezes are back and cool things right down especially in the afternoons. We had a walk down by the sea yesterday – glorious sunshine and a very strong south westerly!

 

 

The photos are from the Watermans Bay area down by the Indian Ocean – we had the place more or less to ourselves. It was blowing a gale but most invigorating and certainly blew a few cobwebs away!

 

 

 

By contrast our morning walk round the block today produced a moment of excitement when we suddenly noticed a blue tongue lizard resting by a wall and managed to restrain the dog just in time before he rushed off to investigate!

 

 

Monsieur was convinced it was no longer alive as had been motionless for so long. Testing his theory, I gave it a gentle prod with a stick – not a good idea as it suddenly sprang to life and lunged at me hissing and bearing its blue tongue! In actual fact the lizards are not poisonous though they can give you a very nasty bite if you get too close as their teeth latch on and their mouths clamp down hard. Definitely keep dogs and small (and big) children well away!

 

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Copyright © 2017 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved

We first visited the pretty Swiss town of Thun back in 2010. Sitting delightfully at the head of an inlet off the eponymously named Lake Thun, it is a bustling place but a bit off the tourist trail compared to places such as Interlaken and Lucerne, which makes for a more relaxing visit.

 

Thun Switzerland

The River Aare – Thun Switzerland

We were enchanted with the cobbled streets of the Altstadt. Quaint old buildings line the streets and little alleys lead back down to the River Aare, which flows rapidly through the town centre. The old wooden bridges across the river look every bit as pretty as the more famous ones of Lucerne (the Kapellbruecke and Spreuerbruecke).

 

 

Morning coffee in the Rathausplatz followed by a quick trip up to the top of the hill to see the 12th century Castle added to Thun’s charms. We wandered round the castle gardens admiring the views out across the alps of the Bernese Oberland.

The following photos were taken on our 2010 trip – all the others are from earlier this year.

 

 

Since that day 7 years ago, we’ve been lucky enough to go back to Thun a couple of times, most recently during our stay in Central Switzerland this May. Easily reached from our lakeside base of Spiez (see here and here), we had a couple of trips to Thun – one a late afternoon meander followed by drinks and a longer trip on our last full day in the area. The May sunshine was glorious more like summer, indeed quite hot so much so that I had to pop into the shops to purchase a sunhat!

 

 

It was rather too hot to think about climbing up to the castle! We walked round the river and Altstadt, spent some time browsing round the market stalls and shops then headed for lunch. Here you are spoilt for choice – cafes and restaurants nestle along the sidewalk by the river taking advantage of the superb location. We ended up having a lovely meal at an Italian place (run by Italian speakers) but really any of the cafes would have been good. With a slight breeze coming off the water, it made for a very pleasant and lazy lunch – perfect for a warm spring day.

 

 

 

Thun is well connected, not only by ferries but also with excellent rail connections in all directions (the ferry quay is adjacent to the railway station). It’s the sort of place where you could just stop off for a couple of hours before resuming your journey – indeed we did see plenty of backpackers round the station area stocking up on supplies at the nearby Co Op!

A perfect day out before it was time to catch the last ferry back to our little base in nearby Spiez.

 

 

Copyright © 2017 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved

Just a quick post today to start up the blog again after my unscheduled trip to the UK following my mum’s passing. It was, of course, mainly taken up with family stuff and appointments but I did manage a lovely walk one afternoon in the Royal Horticultural Society’s Harlow Carr Gardens in Harrogate with my dad.

It was the first time I’ve been back to the UK during autumn since moving out to Perth 27 years ago. Have come over in every season on many occasions but for some reason not autumn, which would have to be one of my favourite times of the year! The beautiful russet and gold colours were a joy to see at a very stressful and emotional time and the autumnal walks invigorating.

For more information about Harlow Carr and to see the contrast with spring, see here for a previous visit last May.

Looking forward to catching up on everyone’s else’s news and some long overdue blog reading!

Autumn Harlow Carr Harrogate

 

Copyright © 2017 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved

I wrote this post “Easter Memories – Yorkshire Dales” earlier this year and am republishing it today in memory of my beautiful mum who sadly passed away on Wednesday evening. We are all very sad to lose her but she has had little quality of life for many years and had grown increasingly frail, so it is a relief that she is now finally at peace.

I’m soon going to be making the long journey back to the UK for her funeral and to spend some time with my family over there. Will be taking a little break from the blog until I’m back in Perth again and things are more settled. I do, however, hope to catch up on some blog reading from time to time. Thanks for your understanding.

Mum lived most of her long life in Yorkshire (except for a couple of years in the WRNS in London in the 2nd World War). She loved the dales, the moors and fell walking when she was younger. This post is dedicated to her. Rest in peace Mum xxx

 

 

Copyright © 2017 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved

Our wonderful train ride up the mountain on the Gornergrat Bahn, followed by a relaxing afternoon tea with the most spectacular views from the sun-drenched terrace, was memorable enough (see here and here for previous posts). However the icing on the cake was the breathtaking views that greeted us from the summit viewing platform a little further up the hill from the Kulm Hotel.

 

The signs tell you in great detail what the various landmarks are, though it was a bit difficult to work out which mountain was which – snow capped peaks in all directions, blue skies and hardly a cloud in sight. As well as the Matterhorn, you gaze out towards Italy and the Dufourspitze (the Swiss side of Monte Rosa, the 2nd highest peak in the Alps after Mont Blanc), look across to the Weisshorn that towers above Randa and see the Gorner Glacier at close quarters.

 

Gornergrat Viewing Platform

Gornergrat Viewing Platform

 

The viewing area was quite crowded when we first got up there but it gradually cleared and for a while we had the place to ourselves. The air is so crisp and pure up here – it truly was a surreal experience.

 

 

We stopped to look at the pretty little chapel on the way back down to the station – no doubt used by intrepid climbers saying a last prayer before setting out to conquer another mountain!

 

Chapel - Gornergrat

Chapel – Gornergrat

 

Another option from Zermatt is to take the series of cable cars that transport you up to the Klein Matterhorn  (at 3883 metres the highest cable car station in Europe). From here all sorts of adventurous options await – the area is dubbed the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise. With Monsieur being no fan of cable cars and Mlle not feeling too well up at altitude, this wasn’t an option for us. The trip on the Gornergrat train though is highly recommended especially on a clear day!

 

Gornergrat - Summit Station

Gornergrat – Summit Station

 

 

Copyright © 2017 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved

I did a quick preview of our trip on the Gornergrat Bahn in last week’s post (see here). Like so many other things in Switzerland the little cogwheel railway is another masterpiece of engineering in a difficult terrain.

 

 

Obviously we were going up a mountain but in comparison with other railways we’d been on, this one was especially steep. There are several little stations en route some of which were being renovated in time for the summer season and you can always get off and hike along any of the trails if you so wish. We decided the train was the way to go!

In late spring (May) most of the snow was long gone down in the valley but as we chugged uphill, melting slush and scraggy rock gave way to a brilliant white sea of snow. By the time we reached the higher passes we were almost dazzled by the clear blue sky and sunshine reflected in the powder white of the snow.

 

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The majestic Matterhorn

 

As we emerged from one of the tunnels, we unexpectedly encountered several marmots scampering around in the snow by the side of the train. In all our trip to the Alps, we’d never managed to see one of these little creatures in the wild so this was a real treat. However I wasn’t quick enough with the camera so you’ll have to take my word for it. If you look closely at the photo, the dark specks in the distance are actually marmots and you can see the paw trails crisscrossing the fresh snow. More information on marmots here from our trip to the Marmot Paradis at Rochers-de-Naye.

 

Gornergrat Bahn - Journey Up the Mountain

En route up to Gornergrat – marmot trails and marmots in the distance!

 

Our journey took just over half an hour and we arrived at Gornergrat Station, the highest open air railway station in Europe at 3,089 metres above sea level.

 

Gornergrat Station Switzerland

Gornergrat Station Switzerland – Kulm Hotel in background

 

We couldn’t have asked for a better day – brilliant sunshine and views all round to the high mountain peaks. There are 29 peaks rising above 4000 metres in the Matterhorn region, which straddles the border between Switzerland and Italy.

Initially we stepped over to the small viewing area to take in the scenery. There is a much larger viewing area higher up – just as well as it was very crowded down by the station. The Kulm Hotel and Observatory is a little further up the mountainside and is a 5 to 10 minute walk away or a quick lift ride up from the station.

Just a note that you are over 3000 metres above sea level at this point and you do notice the thinner air (or at least we did). Nothing major but for instance I ran up and down some stairs inside the hotel and just noticed I felt slightly breathless, which I would never normally do and Mlle for some reason felt a bit off and giddy going up in the train and none too good at the summit. It’s nothing to do with age or fitness – some people get affected by altitude a bit more than others. Best advice is to take it a bit more leisurely than normal, drink plenty of water and if you do feel ill head back down the mountain on the next train.

 

 

We decided to relax a bit and enjoyed a cup of tea out on the sundeck before setting off to walk the last couple of hundred meters up to the viewing platform at the top of Gornergrat. Too many photos for this week’s post, despite heavy editing, so I will save the rest for next week!

 

Gornergrat Summit Viewing Platform

Gornergrat Summit Viewing Platform – map of the mountain range on the information sign

 

Copyright © 2017 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved

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