Mary Arden’s Farm

After soaking up Shakespearean history in Stratford-upon-Avon, we drove three miles to the village of Wilmcote to the family home of the great bard’s mother. Mary Arden lived with her parents and seven sisters until she married John Shakespeare in 1557 at the age of twenty. Mary Arden’s Farm is a working farm and portrays 16th century life. Costumed workers complete the scene and we really felt we had stepped back in time. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust bought the farmhouse in 1930 and refurbished it in the Tudor period style.

1.Palmer's farmhouse

The funny thing is, in 2000 it was discovered that the house actually belonged to a neighbour, Adam Palmer, and it was renamed Palmer’s Farm. The rooms have been beautifully preserved.

The Arden family house had been acquired by the Trust in 1968 as part of the farm without realising its significance. A more modest dwelling, some of the timber framework has been replaced with Victorian brickwork but the original features date back to 1514.

6.Mary Arden's house

The outbuildings have been maintained, providing comfortable shelter for animals and vehicles.

7.Mary Arden's Farm

The evidence of hard manual labour has been retained,

10.millstone

the outdoor Tudor oven could have been the prototype of today’s pizza ovens?

11.Tudor outdoor oven

We wandered past the birds of prey, patiently waiting for their moment in the spotlight.

The boss was in her office making sure things ran smoothly.

16.the boss

Of course, I fell in love with the donkeys.

Michael fell in love with a couple of birds. He learned the way to win a heart was with a nuzzle rather than a stroke. Apparently, birds see the offering of a hand as aggression.

The occasional dead chick works, too.

23.peregrine falcon

Into a barn for, not surprisingly, a barn owl experience.

24.barn owl

No prizes for guessing who volunteered to don the glove.

25.barn owl

No nuzzles this time but the reward was the same.

28.barn owl

Lake Claremont

The last thing I expected in the middle of suburban Perth was the beautiful conservation area that is Lake Claremont. The reserve covers 70ha and hosts a variety of flora and fauna, including over 87 species of birds. Prior to 1831, the wetland area provided food for the Mooro people. With pressure from European settlement and rising waters, the last of the Aborigines moved away in the 1940s. It is now a recognised site of Aboriginal heritage.

1.Lake Claremont

Although spring had not yet sprung, the birdlife was busy with family raising duties. The Eurasian coot, though attractive, is not particularly colourful. The bright, fluffy chicks are absolutely gorgeous.

2.Eurasian Coot

Both parents share the rearing responsibilities, including teaching them how to dive for food.

5.Eurasian Coot chicks

The Aborigines weren’t the only victims of the rising waters. The once majestic paperbarks that dominated the central area couldn’t survive the permanent submergence.

6.Lake Claremont

The remnants provide nesting grounds for the waterbirds

7.nesting Black Swan

and add another dimension to the landscape.

8.Lake Claremont

The black swan is the official bird emblem of Western Australia, this majestic mother comfortable on her nest mound.

9.nesting Black Swan

Another swan family were out with their youngsters while the Australian shelducks seemed to walk on water.

10.Black Swan with cygnets & shelducks

Pink-eared ducks were resting nearby, they feed by filtering water and soft mud with their specially shaped bills.

11.pink-eared duck

Purple swamphens build nesting mounds among the reeds at the lakes edge,

12.nesting Purple Swamphen

the chicks have feeding lessons in the shallows.

13.Purple Swamphen with chick

The swamphens are mostly vegetarian but will also eat eggs and very young birds.

14.Purple Swamphen

The Australian white ibis is one of two ibis species at the lake. They forage for aquatic animals and are known to eat snakes.

16.Australian white ibis

As we continued our circuit of the lake,

17.Lake Claremont

we found some paperbarks still thriving on the shore.

18.paperbark

This lone Pacific black duck was taking some time out.

19.Pacific black duck

Another family of purple swamphens were enjoying breakfast

24.Purple Swamphen & chick

as we returned to our starting point.

25.Lake Claremont

What a wonderful way to start the day, thank you Jude.

renovation ruminations: part 6

Our latest renovation project has been a few years in the making. When we moved in, the back verandah was partly enclosed and there were café blinds further along (the first storm took care of those). Apart from being immensely unattractive, condensation would drip from the ridges of the corrugated ceiling, creating puddles on the floor.

1.before

We solved that problem with a new ceiling in 2011, adding skylights to allow light into the house.

2.new ceiling Dec 2011

We had often talked about how nice it would be to enclose the room but other things got in the way. Forward to spring 2016 when a pair of welcome swallows moved in. Each time they started to build a new nest, we would remove it. They were so persistent, we attached plastic to the cedar cladding and cardboard ‘lids’ to the coach lights. They finally got the message – and so did we. In March this year, we started by removing the existing window and sliding door in readiness for a concrete slab.

A few days later, the builders started on the formwork, under the guidance of Poppy.

The driver manoeuvred the truck past the pond

8.concrete truck

and the lads got to work.

A few turns with the whirly-gig

14.whirly-gig

and next morning we had the beginnings of our new room.

15.slab

The old sliding door was repositioned at the entrance and a smaller window installed next to it.

16.new window, old sliding door

Three large stacker doors and a slider at the other end followed. The small stacker windows at the far end will sit above the bar and will open into the BBQ area. Poppy has a new doggy door which she thinks is great fun.

We left a channel open along the old exterior wall to allow access to pipes. The plan was to build timber frames so we could cover them with the flooring but remove if we have plumbing problems. Michael’s mammoth trench-digging effort unearthed the pipes but they weren’t where we thought, they were more central in the room.

19.trench for plumber

The old coach lights were removed and down lights installed, with power points to follow. We sanded the existing window frames so they would match the new ones.

20.sanding

We carefully extricated the cladding from the old exterior wall

and after attaching the moisture proof membrane,

23.waterproofing

re-used it on the new exterior.

Insulation came next

27.insulation

and then the plumber removed the old exterior pipes, re-directed them outside and installed fixtures for a bar sink. Now that we didn’t need the channel to access the pipes, we had another concrete delivery to fill it in

and laid a slab for the BBQ and pizza oven at the same time.

30.BBQ slab

Plastering and painting made it all seem a reality.

31.almost there

We decided on a small wood heater for those cold winter evenings,

32.wood heater

and vinyl planks for the floor. The excitement of laying the first plank

33.first plank

had quelled somewhat after the second day.

34.halfway

With skirtings fitted and varnished, we are very happy with the result.

35.finished

Poppy has a new bed (she refused to smile for the camera) made from reclaimed timber.

36.Poppy's bed

We couldn’t make up our minds on furnishings so decided to refurbish the items we already had.

We bought an old pew for our dining area, it revived beautifully with some TLC.

45.pew

The dining table and coffee table – well, that’s another story. Now we just have to build the bar, a couple of cupboards, the decking, the BBQ………

snooping snake

After a long cold winter, our resident reptiles have been enjoying the summer sunshine. Once the weather warms up, we become more vigilant around the garden and when walking Poppy in the forest. We recently had a visitor waiting at the door when I returned from work. She moved off as I approached and I encouraged her direction of retreat to the other side of the house. We met again about an hour later on my way back from the veggie patch, she promptly sought sanctuary under the box hedge by the front door. Poppy and I went inside but I kept an eye out at to see where our guest would go next. Expecting to see her at ground level as she emerged from the hedge, I was surprised to see something atop a bush four metres away.

1.snake atop bush

Once my heart restarted, I snapped a couple of pics with my phone. Usually, the small birds alert us to the presence of a snake, staying well out of the way and making lots of noise. The blue wren next to the bush didn’t seem to be aware at all.

2.waiting for the birds

I raced inside to grab the camera and when I returned, the snake was no longer on the bush. Scanning the garden, a blasphemous expletive escaped my lips as I saw her on the box hedge right outside the window.

3.on box hedge

I don’t know if she was admiring our new renovations but she obviously wanted a closer look because she crossed open space, mid-air, to a pot plant nearer the window.

4.on box hedge5.crossing to pot plant6.crossing to pot plant

At this point, the camera peeked outside – I didn’t.

7.in pot plant

She then dropped to the ground and headed toward the pond, possibly in search of a tasty frog or two.

8.still searching

I don’t think she found any, she came back to the window.

9.coming back10.coming back

She may have seen her reflection as a mate or rival,

11.up close

or maybe she could see me and the glint off the camera.

12.can she see me?

I’m referring to her as a female because she wasn’t as big as some and her head isn’t that distinctive diamond shape of the males with the wide jaw.

13.can she see her reflection?

I could be wrong. It’s easy to see from the markings why they are called tiger snakes.

14.fabulous markings

Is that a smile?

15.is that a smile?

She finally got bored and moved off, hopefully to find what she was looking for.

If you would like to watch the video of this encounter, here is the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9PSWwWqijw&feature=youtu.be

By the way, in our experience, this is not the usual behaviour of tiger snakes. They are timid creatures and will retreat very quickly in human presence. Yes, they are deadly but only if they bite. People get bitten when they are trying to kill, catch or corner them. We prefer to live and let live and anyway,  they are protected in Tasmania.

La Lucciola

If there is one thing you can rely on in Bali, it’s the fabulous food. Coupled with a stunning location, you have La Lucciola at Seminyak. After a stroll along the main street accompanied by the cacophony of traffic and populace, reaching La Lucciola was nirvana.

1.La Lucciola2.La Lucciola

Seated on the upstairs balcony, the gentle sea breeze mingled with that of the overhead fans and the tranquil view perfected the scene.

3.La Lucciola

The undrinkable water forced us to order cocktails instead, anything to quench the thirst.

The flower arrangements were quite spectacular, even in the bathrooms.

The meals disappeared too quickly for photographs but I caught a couple of the desserts.

After lunch, we walked onto the sands, soft and golden on this part of the island.

11.Seminyak Beach

Seminyak Beach comprises three adjoining coastal strips, the southernmost bordering Legian Beach.

12.Seminyak Beach

This little squirrel has certainly chosen a lovely spot to call home.