Swallows Welcome

There are many fabulous wineries in the Margaret River region but Swallows Welcome, the smallest winery in the region, is really something special. Tim & Pat Negus first planted grapes in 1994 and the family run business has been producing wine since 1997. The rural setting is peaceful and the artistic influences are evident on arrival.

Patricia Negus is a well known watercolour artist, her illustrations of wildflowers and birds have graced the pages of many books. Tim & Pat built the mudbrick and timber Chapel of the Flowers, a serene gallery, to exhibit 102 of Pat’s works that are featured in Wildflowers of Southwest Australia (the plastic chairs were remnants of a recent social occasion).

9.Chapel of the Flowers

The beautiful leadlight windows create a subtle ambience.

The delights continue outside,

the garden is a testament to Pat’s love of nature.

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We made our way, past the magnificent magnolia tree, to her studio, filled with stunning artwork, books and cards for sale.

We wandered through a gorgeous courtyard cottage garden,

inhabited by a few frogs

and the occasional snail.

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After all the distractions, we finally reached the tasting room,

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adorned with more colourful leadlight.

Pat guided us through the range of superb reds,

finishing with a nip of Pensioners Port. Tim’s self-portrait graces the label

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and his other works decorate the walls. Pat instructed the boys on the fine art of labelling

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and they soon had a dozen ready to ship home.

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I could have lingered in that garden all day but lunch was beckoning. It’s a good life for some……..

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random rambling

There are times when I feel compelled to take a photograph, whether it is something particularly beautiful or unusual, or both. I then wonder what I am going to do with that photo, so here are some of my random snaps to share with you. In spring, we had a pair of welcome swallows determined to nest close to our front door. Each time they started a nest, we devised cunning ways to deter their efforts. We eventually ended up with a 30cm strip of black plastic stapled to the top of our walls to prevent them attaching their mud to the cedar cladding. They finally got the message they weren’t welcome.

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Michael came across this gorgeous mum keeping her eggs warm, while walking with Poppy in the forest.

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I love kookaburras, I spied this handsome fella in the garden before leaving for work one morning, keeping an eye out for a tasty breakfast morsel.

After a brief rain shower one summer morning, behind the stream of sunlight, the plants were letting off steam.

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The strelitzia looked magnificent after the rain.

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When we first moved to our house, there was an impressive stand of oriental poppies outside the lounge window, the same ones you can see on the header image of this blog. They then disappeared, my husband suspects I inadvertently poisoned them along with the weeds (he could be right). This year, just one bloomed and hopefully there will be more in the future.

The Japanese black pine seemed to be at impossible angles, reflected against the clear sky in the waters of our pond.

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I don’t know what these enormous moths had been up to but it looked like they were enjoying a well deserved rest.

The Tiger Lilies fell victim to our nocturnal furry critters last year and we had no blooms. For some reason, they left them alone this time around and they were stunning. Apparently, they are named because of their spots. Shouldn’t they be called Leopard Lilies?

Walking in the forest, I saw these cute fungi emerging from the damp humus.

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On my way to bed one night, I sensed I wasn’t alone. It’s nice to get a friendly wave, just not from five hands at the same time!

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No spiders were harmed, he was gently relocated out of doors. Finally, after a hard day working in the garden, there is nothing better than a draught of home brewed stout.

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Cheers!

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Kings Park

After four days and three nights aboard the Indian Pacific, we were greeted at East Perth railway station by our friends with whom we were to spend the next week. They wasted no time in showing us their beautiful city with a detour to Kings Park. The 1,000 acre park is larger than New York’s Central Park and is home to the Western Australian Botanic Garden. It seemed Spring had come early, with many of the plants in bloom.

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The State War Memorial is located within the park, the Cenotaph sits high on Mount Eliza.

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The views across the city of Perth,

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and the Swan River were breathtaking.

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The Narrows Bridge is made up of two road bridges with a railway bridge down the middle, linking the northern and southern suburbs.

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We caught a glimpse of the Australian Ringneck Parrot

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as we meandered past more brilliant colours.

I think we need a whole day to see Kings Park, we will just have to return.

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Emu Valley

I am ashamed to say, I have lived near Burnie for nearly eight years and knew of the existence of the Emu Valley Rhododendron Garden but only recently had the pleasure of spending a peaceful afternoon there. The 11ha site is a natural amphitheatre, sloping down to a large basin fed by natural springs that form a series of lakes.

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The scrub and blackberry infested hillside has been transformed over the past 35 years, mostly by volunteers, and is now classified as a plant museum. There are over 22,000 plants to admire

in this lovely, tranquil setting.

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The garden is set out in a series of “countries” from which the wild rhododendrons originate, I shan’t try to name them all.

There were other interesting features to be found as we meandered along the paths. Just past the Chinese Pavilion

we caught a glimpse of the Japanese bridge through the cherry blossom.

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Our walk continued past the Japanese ceremonial tea-house

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and across the covered bridge.

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The adjacent lawned area is popular for weddings.

The American Gazebo overlooks Lake Pearl

and the sound of water tumbling over rocks was mesmerising.

Some of the flowers were extraordinary,

all were beautiful.

We were fortunate to find a sculpture competition in full bloom.

I voted for Boho Bungalow.

We made our way past many more magnificent hybrids

and returned, across Olympus Bridge, to our starting point.

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It may have taken years to get there, but it was worth the wait.

wistful walks

Poppy is usually accompanied on her walks by Michael but he has fallen victim to a nasty virus and so, Poppy has been taking me instead. We have been exploring the different paths and finding all sorts of interesting things. The morning mist as we start the River Walk is breathtaking

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and the forest is serene.

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Despite the lingering cold and wet, the spring flowers are trying their best.

I haven’t been along Spooky Path for a while. Soon after we moved here, I was walking this path with Poppy and was unnerved by the thumping sounds around me. Memories of the movie, ‘Predator’, whipped my nerves into a frenzy along with my imagination. Hence, Spooky Path was named. Where the path becomes swallowed by scrub, the valley drops out of sight to the Blythe River below and the ridge opposite seems so close.

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Poppy found some special newcomers in the forest.

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They grew very quickly and soon flew the nest.

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Down in the rainforest, the water is tumbling along in the stream

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and the manferns are lush with new growth.

On a damp morning

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we walked Pat’s Path, named for my sister who first discovered the path when she came for a holiday soon after we moved here.

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The views of the rainforest are stunning from this higher ground.

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After a while, the path disappears into the trees and we have to retrace our steps.

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You never know who you might meet on the way back home.

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Of course, Poppy is always ready to do one more path.

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