Le Chic En Rose

Diaries of an independent traveller

I’m finally getting round to finishing off the series of posts about last year’s Swiss trip (see here for posts about that trip and some archived ones from earlier travels).

I left off in Spiez, the delightful little town on the shores of Thunersee, where we based ourselves for 3 nights (see here, here and here). Our last couple of days in Switzerland were spent in Lucerne and we set off to catch the early morning train from Spiez station (Mlle was en route back to London, Monsieur and I were having a couple of nights in Lucerne before heading back Down Under).

 

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The Golden Pass Line is the name given to the rail line that links Montreux via Interlaken to Lucerne. It is, in fact, three different trains, however, being Switzerland, the next one is waiting at the arrival station to connect you seamlessly onto the next part of your journey.

Going north east from Montreux you wend your way up through the mountains to the little town of Zweisimmen near Gstaad (see here), part two takes you onto Interlaken Ost and the final leg takes you over the Bruenig Hasliberg Pass to Lucerne itself skirting past the shores of the eponymous lake.

The train ride is all part of the regular Swiss rail schedule – no extra costs are incurred for riding in the panoramic tourist carriage or the old Pullman cars. You just have to check the timetable and plan your journey accordingly. It is one of our favourite train rides and we have taken quite a few over the years!

The weather for our last couple of days in Switzerland turned grey and wet, though we had been very lucky with gorgeous warm spring weather up until then. The photos I was able to take are therefore rather moody and misty but give you an idea of the scenery round Lake Brienz and the journey up across the pass. Taking photos from a moving train is also a little tricky so please excuse the quality of some of them!

 

 

The first glimpses of Lake Lucerne are always special even on a dreary wet day.

 

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Dropping down into the valley alongside the beautiful shores of Lake Lucerne (Vierwaldstaettersee), the train glides along on its approach to Lucerne passing meadows, little farms and plenty of Swiss cows on the way.

 

 

Before seeing Mlle off on the fast train to Geneva Airport, we had time to enjoy a little stroll along the River Reuss to our favourite restaurant in Lucerne, Nix in Der Laterne. Occupying a charming medieval building near the old Spreuerbruecke, it serves wonderful local produce, superb wines and is still under the same ownership as our first visit in 2009. Inside is warm and cosy but if the weather permits a table by the fast flowing river on the cobbled streets is a real treat (we were in luck the rain stopped for enough time to enjoy lunch).

 

 

I’ll write more about Lucerne next week. It was as charming as we remembered but we were there a little later than on previous visits (in May) and there is no escaping the fact that it is a major stopping off point for large tourist groups. It did quieten down considerably at night and we wondered if many of the buses pass through and simply drop the groups off for a couple of hours or if they all prefer to eat in the hotels at night. However the lake remains as serene as ever and after seeing Mlle off we took a late afternoon cruise, soaking in the scenery and enjoying a pre dinner drink!

 

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

Another discovery recently down in the south east corner of the Perth Metro Area was the Pioneer Village in Armadale. This suburb is not one that most people associate with tourist attractions but it is worth stopping by if you happen to be in the area.

A replica of a gold mining village, Pioneer Village was actually built in the 1980s. Traditional colonial cottages line the high street with the centrepiece being an old wishing well. It is a little faded now and we noticed quite a few shops were empty but it does give you a feel for bygone times when Armadale would have been a colonial outpost.

The cafe selling delicious organic produce and all manner of items such as candles, soaps and a multitude of edible treats is well worth visiting. There is also a Pioneer Village Community School open to anyone in the area. We couldn’t leave without a trip to the fairy shop, an absolute paradise as far as our granddaughters were concerned. One gift only though was the strict rule!!

A few kilometres from Pioneer Village are the beautiful botanic gardens of Araluen. I have blogged about visits here before (see here and here) but have been meaning to post some photos of the early summer displays I took last year. They follow on from the “postcards” of Pioneer Village!

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

An unexpected turn of events led us to The Old Mill in South Perth recently. Despite many years living here, we had never managed to actually visit this lovely icon of Perth’s colonial past. However a large bushfire, which had closed off our intended destination, Kings Park, led to a change of plan.

Situated on the southern foreshore of the Swan River near the Narrows Bridge and the constant flow of traffic from the Kwinana Freeway, it was saved in the late 1950s from the developers’ plan to demolish it to make way for the freeway off-ramp. A dedicated group of campaigners, including the local historical society, persuaded the powers that be to reconsider and the Mill Point off-ramp now winds round south of the mill.

Having undergone refurbishment in 1994, the mill survives to this day as a fascinating link to the early pioneering days of the Swan River Colony.

The mill is open to the public at no cost though donations are greatly appreciated! Owned and managed by the City of South Perth (see here for further details), we were fortunate to be given a guided tour by the lady managing the office, Sylvia, who, passionate about the history and preservation of the mill, gave us some fascinating background information.

The earliest mill was constructed by a young engineer from Winchester who arrived from England in 1829, William Kernot Shelton. At one point in the 19th century under the auspices of “Satan” Browne (so called because of his jet black hair) it was converted into a hotel! We looked round the cottage that was used by the miller and saw the old ovens where the loaves were baked and the extensive collection of historical kitchenware. It must have been such a tough life for those early settlers!

The little canal that led back down to the river has been filled in with locally quarried limestone but you can follow the channel back to the river where there is a lovely little picnic and play area called “Millers Pond”.

We headed off to Angelo Street in South Perth for lunch wondering why it had taken us so long to discover this wonderful gem from Perth’s past!

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

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.

 

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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

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