Suite Sofia

Anyone who has read my Italian posts will know how intrigued I am by doorways such as this.

1.front door

I could hardly contain my excitement when we arrived at our apartment in Lucca and found this was the entrance.

2.front door

I had booked Suite Sofia on the internet months ahead, choosing it because of location and falling in love with the photos (and price, of course). I am always sceptical that, in reality, some accommodation will not live up to expectations. As soon as we walked into the apartment, all fears dissipated, it was gorgeous.

3.Suite Sofia

The kitchen was compact but well serviced, we didn’t intend cooking anyway.

4.kitchen

The original ceilings have been preserved and added to the peaceful ambience,

while tasteful adornments gave the space a homely feel.

The position was perfect, overlooking cafes in Corso Garibaldi, right above a bicycle hire shop.

17.Corso Garibaldi18.Corso Garibaldi

From the outside, the building was stunning,

19.Corso Garibaldi

no traffic except for the two-wheeled silent type.

20.Corso Garibaldi

Our host, Massimiliano, was lovely, nothing was too much trouble. We will certainly return to Suite Sofia if we have the chance.

21.Suite Sofia from Corso Garibaldi

Foreshore Fiesta

Last Saturday marked the anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove. Captain Arthur Phillip, commander of the eleven convict ships and first Governor of New South Wales, raised the Union Jack on 26th January 1788. Since then, Australia Day has been celebrated across the land with citizenship ceremonies, concerts and various community festivities, along with barbecues and beer. The Aboriginal people, however, refer to the day as ‘Invasion Day’ and see it as a day of mourning rather than a reason to celebrate. There has been much controversy surrounding the appropriateness of the date, with protests as far back as 1938 during the sesquicentenary celebrations in Sydney. A recent poll found the majority of Australians weren’t too fussed about the date, as long as there is a national day of celebration. Perhaps Australia Day should be a celebration of Australia and the multicultural country it is today, not tied to any historical moment?

There is a plethora of festivities to choose from here on the northwest coast of Tassie. The Rotary Club Foreshore Fiesta at Somerset was our obvious choice as Michael had been invited to join Tarkine Strings , a classical string ensemble who , this time, were entertaining the crowd with innovative blues renditions. We arrived early on a warm, sunny day (though a little windy).

1.Foreshore Fiesta

The makeshift stage on the back of a DeBruyn’s truck was perfect for the occasion

2.Tarkine Strings on stage

and before long, the upbeat blues tones were issuing forth to compete with nature’s gusts.

Away from the stage, there was more than enough to keep the youngsters occupied. A gorgeous Benscroft Miniature Hereford calf won hearts just doing what calves do

and Yolla District High School brought along animals for the petting zoo.

I’m pretty sure the alpaca winked at me before nonchalantly turning away.

For those who appreciate the piquancy of diesel as much as I do, the Historical Machinery Club of Tasmania had a rather impressive collection of old engines and farm implements as well as some model train carriages.

There were a few stalls selling various goods

24.stalls

and no shortage of amusements for the kids.

It was good to see one fire engine not needed to fight the terrible bushfires, although I’m sure she has earned her retirement.

There were a few options for sustenance but we couldn’t go past the good old Aussie barbecue for lunch. With a choice of sausage sandwich, hamburger or steak sandwich (onions optional but highly recommended), tomato or barbecue sauce what more could we want?

34.barbecue

Tarkine Strings returned for a second set before handing over the stage to the next band.

35.Tarkine Strings

Unfortunately, we had other obligations and had to leave but I have it on good authority that the day was a success with all proceeds going toward the purchase of a wheelchair equipped bus for the Burnie School of Special Education. For a musician’s perspective, have a look at Michael’s post on Tiger Dreaming

Looking Out for Each Other

Last month, I posted about a day spent at the Tamar Valley wineries and the sculpture exhibition, Artentwine. At Iron Pot Bay Vineyard, there was a memorable installation in the garden, this is what I wrote,

‘The man in blue, poised in the garden, sported an outfit knitted with baling twine. My sister and I had been at Deloraine Craft Fair the previous weekend where we had seen numerous knitters eagerly creating something with the blue baling twine. It seems artist, Grietje van Randen, has enlisted volunteers to help complete a double life size Blue Farmer to be sited on a local farm to raise awareness of those living with depression and as a reminder for us all to be looking out for each other.’

The project is now complete and the full size blue farmer stands proudly at Deloraine. This is a wonderful interview with Grietje van Randen

4.at deloraine

Photo courtesy of the ABC

Our property here in northwest Tasmania is surrounded by agricultural farmland, we can attest to the long hours our neighbours toil. Morning, noon and sometimes all night, seven days a week and at the mercy of increasingly unpredictable weather patterns. Without these incredible people, we would have nothing on the table to serve our families each day. How easy it is to pick produce from the grocers shelf without a thought for those whose livelihood depends on what we are willing to pay.

Here is a great news story of the completion and final placement of the blue farmer

5.at deloraine

Photo courtesy of the ABC

The Burren

Much as we would like to have stayed in Galway a few more days, our time in Ireland was limited and there was so much more to see. Driving southward, we were once again surrounded by enchanting scenery. Scattered farmhouses wrapped in green, stone-framed pastures overlooked peaceful waters.

1.burren road2.burren road

Just outside Ballyvaughan we encountered Irish gridlock and spent some time chatting to the farmer. We will never forget his name, it was Michael Cannon.

The landscape changed the further we drove into the region known as The Burren.

6.ruins, the burren

The great expanse of limestone karst covers around 160 square kilometres in County Clare, the rock has been dated back to the Carboniferous period, around 350 million years ago.

7.the burren

The water soluble limestone has eroded over the years and formed the channels, known as ‘grikes’ and blocks, known as ‘clints’. It’s hard to believe that when people first inhabited this area 5,000 years ago it was a lush forest. Clearing the land for farming, along with time, grazing and erosion all contributed to the appearance of The Burren.

8.limestone karst, doolin9.limestone karst, doolin

We were too late to see the array of wildflowers that bloom among the rocks in spring but there was evidence of life in unexpected places.

10.fern in limestone karst

We strolled around the quaint coastal village of Doolin with breathtaking views from the harbour.

11.doolin harbour12.doolin

Once part of the mainland, Crab Island is a renowned surfing location, though not today. The building is the remains of an 1830s constabulary outpost.

13.crab island

Further across the water, the Aran Islands are just visible. The group of three islands sit at the mouth of Galway Bay and can be reached by ferry from Doolin.

14.aran islands

There is a path along the cliffs from Doolin to the Cliffs of Moher, about an 8km walk with green fields on one side and the Atlantic ocean on the other.

15.doolin cliff walk

Not to mention spectacular scenery along the way.

16.cliffs, doolin

The Cliffs of Moher, on the southwestern edge of The Burren, are 14km of vertical cliffs rising to a height of 214 metres at the highest point. O’Briens Tower stands on that headland, built in 1835 by landowner Cornelius O’Brien as a viewing point for tourists. From Doolin, we could see beyond the tower, all the way to the rock formation known as  Hag’s Head at the southern end of the cliffs.

17.cliffs of moher, o'briens tower & hag's head

We left Doolin to have a closer look at the cliffs, passing a contented local on the way

18.doolin local

and a rather impressive edifice on a nearby hill. The 16th century Doonagore Castle has been in the same family since the 1970s and is their private holiday home. The views would be astounding.

19.doonagore castle

We finally made it to the Cliffs of Moher in all their majesty but time was ticking on and we still had no idea where we would be spending the night.

 

22.cliffs of moher

 

back to Bayviews

Last Friday, we celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary. We probably would have both forgotten except that Michael was invited to play at Bayviews Restaurant from 6pm until 8.30pm in the new lounge bar. Of course, I wasn’t going to pass up the chance of dinner at our fave place. Bayviews closed for three weeks last year, re-opening on 8th October with a very different look and the added attraction of live music on Fridays. The revamped lounge area offers plenty of comfortable seating options to enjoy a drink and something delicious from the new bar menu.

1.lounge area

Previously the function room, the casual dining area is perfect to enjoy a meal or snack, with doors opening onto the deck for those warm summer evenings.

6.dining7.sea views

The relaxed ambience of the dining room has been retained but with a more formal feel, as the before and after photos show.

8.dining before reno9.dining after reno10.dining before reno11.dining after reno

The understated artwork in the main dining area is a beautiful depiction of the northern Tasmanian coastline from Low Head to Stanley (thank you, Michael, for pointing that out).

12.artwork

Pre-playing sustenance consisted of a James Squire One Fifty Lashes and bowl of wedges, while I opted for a Ninth Island sparkling. A Josef Chromy Pinot Gris accompanied through the rest of the evening.

The new lounge area with sliding doors to the balcony allowed for enjoyment of the superb entertainment inside

13.michael

while watching the recreation beachside, courtesy of the Burnie Surf Lifesaving Club.

16.iron ocean

The Iron Ocean challenge is a combination of Ironman and Ocean Swim events, giving kids the opportunity to strengthen their confidence in the water. The event involves swimming, running, surf ski paddling and board paddling. I was in awe and exhausted, observing from my comfortable perch.

Once the action was over and some well deserved food ensued, the gulls made their presence known. My attempts to successfully photograph a gull in flight proved challenging,

I opted for a stationary specimen.

26.gull

This was one of the rare occasions where a picturesque sunset failed to evolve.

27.no sunset

When Michael had finished his session, we enjoyed the rest of the wine with a wonderful meal. The new look menu doesn’t disappoint and the unexpected lemon jelly was a perfect palate cleanser.

The meals were, as usual, delectable. Michael chose pan fried blue eye trevalla on housemade fettucine with lemon beurre blanc sauce & roasted cherry tomatoes, from the specials board.

30.blue eye trevalla

I couldn’t resist my favourite slow cooked lamb shoulder with butternut pumpkin gnocchi, salsa verde, sugar snap peas, hung yoghurt & fresh mint.

31.slow cooked lamb

Thank you Bayviews for a wonderful evening, thank you Michael for the best 16 years.