October is for Strawberry Picking

Words I never thought I’d say (or type), and yet here we are. After seeing innumerable pictures of folks back in the states picking out that perfect pumpkin, decked out in their fall finest, set against a backdrop of crisp autumn weather and falling leaves, I decided something must be done: I could pine for pumpkins, college football, puffy vests and boots, and the changing leaves of North Carolina or I could make my own fruit picking adventure. (Spoiler alert: I ultimately chose the latter.)

Sad but true

I mean obviously I came to Australia knowing that their seasons were opposite from those in the Northern Hemisphere, but it’s a really odd thing to wrap your head around when you have forever been programmed to associate certain weather/clothes/activities/holidays/food, etc with seasons and months and then it’s all turned on its head. Even Dubai would “cool off” a bit as October, November, December approached. And while I certainly am not complaining about the burgeoning spring and summer weather here in Perth, one can’t help but feel a tug of nostalgia.

But I digress.

So given that pumpkins are a fall harvest food, Perth isn’t exactly a hub of pumpkin patches in the middle of October (spring to them). (Side note: they do sell imported pumpkins in the grocery stores for wistful expat suckers like me…just with a hefty price tag.) So given that it’s spring here, WA does have strawberry picking in full bloom – a good substitute in my opinion!

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My fellow expat blogger friend, Becca, had gone to a strawberry patch the week prior and returned with a huge haul of gorgeous berries…as many as you could pick and carry for $10! (The price is a key point here given this – a small carton of strawberries in the store here will set you back at least $6).

I was curious as to why the farm/patch (?) would let ordinary folks pay such a reasonable price to pick their own berries when they could sell them at a “better” price to local grocery stores. So after a bit of research, it turns out that these plants have reached the end of their commercial life, meaning that the strawberries are “too red” to be sold to the groceries – the stores need the berries to be less ripe (green) to increase shelf life. Bonus: if you go berry picking, you’re (in theory) getting the strawberries at their peak!

The strawberry plants went on and on and onAshlie, Keller, and I were game. Maybe we wouldn’t get a jack-o-lantern out of the deal, but we could pop over there in our t-shirts and shorts (don’t forget the bug spray and “sun cream”!) and make ourselves some strawberry shortcake in no time. We opted to split a tray and got to work…little K had a great time picking out the strawberries with us. :)

Nice little morning picking berries

Nice little morning picking berries

Fresh from the vine

Fresh from the vine

Our haul by the end of the morning - almost too many!

Our haul by the end of the morning – almost too many! (And please forgive K’s cap…) ;)

Cheap labor

Cheap labor

As you can see, we walked away with an impressive stash of strawberries. I can’t imagine having my own box of them!

Washed and ready for eating

Washed and ready for eating

If you’re in the Perth area, the patch we visited was at 263 Old West Road in Bullsbrook, WA, which was about 30-45 minutes outside of the CBD. You can just park on the verge and it’s open 7 days a week from 9AM-5PM until mid-December.

In the meantime, Ill be in the kitchen dicing, freezing, cooking, and baking strawberries – it may not be a jack-o-lantern, but having spring in October isn’t a bad deal :) Until next time…

Pricey Perth

I hope it is crystal clear that I do really like Perth (examples of my continued affinity for this fine city can be found here, here, and here); however, one of the toughest aspects of living in this city would be the exorbitant expense one incurs just by doing the most basic things.

Paris, NYC, and Perth

This was never more evident than when I returned to the states earlier this year and made a grocery store run. In Perth, $100 (USD) worth of groceries creeps up on you quickly – I can barely get out of a Coles or Wooly’s here with 3 or 4 days worth of necessities (and no, not even “fancy” groceries…we’re talking basics) for that amount. No bueno. When I was back stateside, however, I was pleasantly surprised (okay, you could have picked me up off the floor so great was my delight and shock) that I could get twice as much food (and throw some wine in that mix for good measure) for half of  the same amount in Perth. To all Charlotte, NC Harris Teeter’s: I will never take you for granted ever again.

And this is just one example. I could go on and on, but as my dad always told me: nobody likes a whiner ;) So instead I’ll just give y’all some cold, hard facts:

  • The exact ranking varies based upon which survey is referenced, but Perth has, in the last 7 years or so, always been on a global listing of one of the most expensive cities in the world (check it out here and here if you want your proof)
  • The mining and energy boom (and subsequent wage spikes) in Western Australia is the oft-referenced culprit of these high prices on anything from groceries to rent to a drink to your morning coffee
  • Perth’s isolated location also doesn’t help its cause in keeping prices down; the labor (or do you reckon I should say “labour”?) alone to get certain goods out to Perth ends up costing the consumer dearly

There you have it. And here I thought Dubai would eclipse Perth in daily costs, but no no my friends – Perth “wins” (?) that one every single time. Ahh well. When you have lovely weather, scenery, wine, and people, there has to be some hitch, right? Until next time…

Image via PerthNow.com.au (also, clearly this is an old picture given how the skyline looks now…)

A Month of Awareness

Did you know that October is Miscarriage, Stillborn and Infant Loss Awareness Month and that 1 in 4 women experience a pregnancy loss? Well if you didn’t, now you do :) And not to get too heavy, but I wanted to write a little post on this fact because miscarriage, stillborn birth, and infant loss happens more than I think most people would dare to think. And as I embark upon a stage of my life where more and more of my friends are expecting, I think it’s always important to remember what a blessing pregnancy, children, and your health is. And if you do have to walk down the path that is miscarriage, stillborn, or infant loss, knowing that you are not alone.

A friend from Durham, Melinda, brought this month of awareness to my attention via her own blog, Palindrome at Home – she wrote a moving entry about her own experience, and she is one of my heroes. There was also an article written from my hometown of Charlotte about a fellow Wake Forest couple who have also recently lost septuplets to miscarriage, but their faith and hope in the midst of it all is touching beyond all belief.

And that is the note I want to end on is hope….I think it’s a good one! To honor these brave parents and their angel babies, there is an international day (October 15) where you can light a candle or vigil. And to any parents out there reading this that has gone through something similar, I hope that you know that you aren’t alone in this  and I hope that you find the peace you so desperately deserve. Until next time…

Kayaking on the Swan

After a busy few weeks of travel, things have been a tad slower on this side of the island…not that I am complaining! The weather has been incredible over the last month or so, and there is no shortage of fun stuff to do outside here in Perth.

One of those activities was organized by my friend Ashlie. Last week, she booked a few of us kayaks for a little boating fun on the foreshore of the Swan River. Ashlie and Lauren both have little ones who got to join in on the fun too!

The two little buddies taking on the Swan and Perth by kayak!

The two little buddies taking on the Swan and Perth by kayak!

Of course the morning we booked in, it was was bit windy and the water a bit choppy, but the sun was shining and little K even managed a wee nap on the kayak with his mom…wish we had a picture of that – it was the cutest thing! Although I don’t know how he managed to fall asleep as there were several mini “crashes” (Lauren said it was like bumper cars in kayaks), and by the end, all of us were pretty much soaked, but it was still a fun way to spend the morning!

Americans conquer kayaking on the Swan River

American gals conquer kayaking on the Swan River

Ashlie booked the kayaks at XXX in South Perth on the foreshore of the Swan River, just off the running path – you can’t miss it. The guys working there (I believe one was the owner) couldn’t have been more helpful and kind – I definitely recommend it and will hopefully be back again for kayaking…or sailing…or stand up paddle boarding – they have a lot of water fun! :)

Happy skippers

Happy skippers, B & K

Happy Hump Day, and until next time…

11 Things You Should Know About the Middle East {Dubai}

Someone passed this link along to Barr, and it gave us both some extreme Dubai flashbacks. I’m still putting together my Dubai vs. Perth Venn Diagram (yes, a Venn Diagram) and these little memes definitely hit close to home…particularly the “Inshallah” (God Willing) one below:

Image via ScoopEmpire

Honestly, anytime you’d order takeaway and ask for a time estimate for delivery, you’d hear “30 minutes, Inshallah“. A cab ride: “It should be about 10 minute drive, Inshallah“. Waiting in a government line: “You’ll be seen today, Inshallah.” A repair man coming to fix something at your flat: “We’ll be there this afternoon, Inshallah.”

You get the idea.

I jest, but ask pretty much anyone, and I think they’ll tell you I actually use Inshallah in my vernacular on a regular basis, so go figure…

These humorous little tidbits are not to say that I don’t miss Dubai – there are plenty of things that I miss big time (our friends, the hot weather, the shopping, the Arabic culture, etc).

Furthermore (and don’t worry, I won’t get too political on this point), I am doubly proud of the role the UAE is playing on a global level with regards to fighting terrorism and specifically ISIS.

So Dubai peeps: thoughts on the link above…and has anyone ever used one of those shattafas in the bathrooms? Alarming! ;) Happy Monday all and until next time..

Les 7 Cascades

One of the highlights of our Mauritian adventure was definitely the “Les 7 Cascades” hike (“The 7 Waterfalls”). We met an uber fun Irish couple at the hotel who had completed the hike a few days prior and they raved about it; they also recommended using the guide that was praised on TripAdvisor – he wasn’t part of a large company or anything, but rather just had his cell phone number up on TripAdvisor for people to independently book him as a guide for the day.

The reviews for Jay and the hike speak for themselves!

The reviews on TripAdvisor for Jay and the hike speak for themselves!

And let me tell you: Jay was worth the hype (the hike in it of itself was, too!) Les 7 Cascades was exactly that: 7 waterfalls essentially stacked one after the next, all in the middle of a fairly untouched forest in the middle of the island of Mauritius.

Jay, a 4th generation Mauritian with his family originally emigrating from Mumbai, told us he liked to start the hike from a vantage point across the valley from the waterfalls and hike so you could see all the waterfalls at once and get an idea of what you would be trekking.

They're a bit far off, but you can kind of see a few of the "cascades"

They’re a bit far off, but you can kind of see a few of the “cascades”

Another element of the hike with Jay that we really enjoyed was the fact that he took you from the bottom of  les 7 cascades and then you worked your way up to see them from the bottom up, whereas all of the other tour guides/hikers worked from the top down. Jay said that was a fine way to go, but if you started from the bottom (insert Drake song here) and hiked upwards, you could actually see the waterfalls as you went.

The start of the hike was pretty steep and it was drizzling, so when I slipped onto my bum about 15 minutes in, I was a bit worried, but thankfully that was the only “slip up” (and I had a muddy bum to prove it!)

The first of the 7

The first of the 7 cascades

The waterfalls and forest was of course gorgeous, but there were little (but DEEP) pools of fresh water that we could jump in and swim around – the water was chilly, but totally worth it!

A little paddle-around

A little paddle-around

A little climb up into the rocks so we could frolic in the waterfall

A little climb up into the rocks so we could frolic in the waterfall

And all the way through the hike, Jay provided a plethora of information about Mauritius: the Mauritian people, the flora/fauna, how things have changed over the years, and the culture around the island – he was full of fun facts! And of course a great photographer (plus his wife makes you lunch and a snack – amazing authentic Indian food!!)

It was a breathtaking hike with a top notch local guide. We had a great day! Until next time…

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Anniversary in Mauritius

Right around this time last year, Mauritius almost beat out Cape Town as our October Eid trip, and although we have never once regretted our choice to go to South Africa instead, both Barr and I always wistfully thought about the island of Mauritius.

Image via WorldAtlas.com

Armed with some Starwood points (and the celebratory excuse of our wedding anniversary), we decided to take the plunge and book a (direct!) flight from Perth to Mauritius. {The direct flight from Perth thing is a big deal – and all within 8 hours!}

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Mauritius is an independent island republic of about 1.2M people, and boasts an incredible multiethnic, multilingual, and multicultural population: French, Creole and English are the primary languages known and spoken and you see every house of worship on the same city block, which is pretty neat.

Of course tourism plays a big role in Mauritius’ economy, with plenty of serene resorts, crystal clear waters, and year-round temperate weather. It’s also a huge kite-surfing mecca. While we didn’t get an opportunity to learn kite-surfing this time around, that’s one of the next things on our bucket list! There was plenty of beach time, kayaking, hiking, and just general relaxing.

Pardon the photo-heavy post, but the shots tell the story of the trip! :) Until next time…

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