Sunday, February 27

a summer's day in balingup

Leaving the coastal plain behind, my friend Jane and I took a drive inland to Balingup for a short nature walk along the Bibbulmun Track; just enough to earn our coffee and retire to the shade before the sun hit its zenith. It has been a hot, hot February; not a drop of rain and day after day over 35 degrees. Grasses have crisped to golden yellow and the bush is grey-green with a tangled understorey of fruiting blackberries. My last visit was in August, in the middle of winter, when sweat was far from my mind.

The main street is a blush of pink with the crepe myrtles in full flower.

We paused for coffee at the Taste of Balingup gourmet deli and cafe.  Local produce is incorporated into their daily lunch and dessert offerings, and chef Katrina tempted us with a freshly baked rhubarb tart.  

No visit to Balingup is complete without a purchase from Tinderbox.  Each product is hand made on site in small batches, using high quality essential oils, herbs and plant derived ingredients.

All this fine country air and gazing at rhubarb tarts worked up quite an appetite for our picnic at Golden Valley Tree Park beneath the deep shade of a London Plane tree.  A most pleasant outing indeed.

Tuesday, February 22

tree change to mumballup

Sunday driving was just that bit slower with a load of trees destined for a new life in Uncle Ken's garden. Despite being subject to cyclonic force winds for an hour, they travelled well with minimal leaf loss. Our morning tea break was like the eye of the cyclone for the battered ficus.

Mumballup is fruit and veg growing country, with road side stalls offering new season apples and the late summer bounty of pumpkins, watermelons and zucchini. It is comforting to know there are still places in the world where an honesty tin prevails.

Monday, February 21

a rose by any other name

What could be more pleasant on a Monday morning, than to don a sun hat and poke around an expansive private garden sniffing the roses?  Stopping only to sip tea and admire the spread of biscuits, cakes and finger sandwiches.  The call of the melting moments was almost too much to stand.  

I was a guest of a local garden club at their monthly meeting; a gathering of around 80 women, all keenly exploring the feature garden like a peep of chickens.  Latin botanical names and gossip flew through the air.  Updates on children, husbands and hydrangeas.  Catastrophic weather events, heat and watering schedules. Dr Margaret Clema, a botanist and collector of rare and unusual plants, visited from Whistlepipe Gardens to address the group on "cunning ways in dry conditions."  A selection of seedlings were for sale, and Margy's talk set the gardeners into a shopping frenzy. I had my eye on a Burmese honeysuckle, but it went the way of the melting moment.


I do love a little wander through Witchcliffe.  The few shops are forever closing down or changing hands, but thankfully the second-hand store, lovingly called "Mucho Crappo" is always open, and never fails to seduce me with another treasure to take home. This time it was a grey and white striped dress. No tea cups, canisters or floral plates (Tom was watching).

jahroc gallery, margaret river

Shannon Hamilton / Paul Scott "A Quiet Place" $12,500
In the late '80's, two surfing mates with woodworking skills team up to create Jahroc Fine Furniture.  Twenty years later, their award winning furniture is revered worldwide and the Margaret River gallery represents over 60 Western Australian artists.   

Located on the southern end of Margaret River's main street,  in a restored heritage building with modern rear extension, Jahroc is a must visit on any trip down south. Should you fall in love with a 2m canvas or jarrah boardroom table, they offer a comprehensive package and shipping service, and customers have been known to fit out their new office or dining room in one visit.  Not bad for a couple of surfers. 

painting RHS by Shannon Hamilton
     glass plate "long division IV" by Margaret Heenan $1,395, painting "everlasting" by Christine Hingston $4,600     kangaroo silhouette rocking chair made in sheok & river banksia $8,800

Sunday, February 20

still life with ute

Aquaman has been hitting the canvas of late with a spot of plein air painting.  The dogs won't sit still, he's not into flowers or fruit bowls, and there is a grave shortest of waves in the vicinity - so Big White was elevated to life model.  Dad's work also ute got a look in on the side.

Friday, February 18

the alaia's maiden voyage

A sleepover in Margs and a hot summer's day saw the Alaia make her maiden voyage at the rivermouth.  I think we were the only Australian's in the carpark, sandwiched between Wicked vans and french girls drinking tea and smoking ciggies. Why come to the other side of the world, park up at a beautiful coastal location and sit facing the toilet block?
Hey Aquaman...ya been out?
I had forgotten how non floatatious they are.  There weren't any decent waves to test her out on, so I just paddled around for a bit, got cold and got out.  

If the waves are good I'll be on my new Resin8 and the Alaia will be kept for a bit of fun.

I ask you, is floatatious a real word?

If you missed Tom shaping his Alaia, see this post.

proof that sex is good for your health

Wednesday, February 16

margaret river farmer's markets

Dates : February 26, March 12 & 26, April 9 & 23, May 14 & 28
Time : 8.00am - 12.00pm
Place : The Old Hospital, Community Resource Centre, Cnr Tunbridge & Farrelly Streets, Margaret River.  Just 500m from the Margaret River Visitor Centre

fruit, vegetables, cheese, olive oil, herbs, bread, tempeh, coffee, meat, seafood, ice-cream, plants

All the essentials for life in one place, sold to you by the growers and makers and bakers.

movies in the vineyard

Cape Mentelle has been hosting outdoor movies every night over summer, and we have made it along twice, to see the WA premier of Little Sparrows (shot in Perth by a young WA director) and The King's Speech.  Pillows, blankets, doonas, bean bags and even swags are laid out on the grass, hamper contents are strewn about, wine is quaffed and much social chit chat melds with birdsong in the hours preceding the curtain up.

Luna Palace Cinemas in Perth present an excellent line-up and American Express sponsor the event, offering a rare opportunity for Amex card holders to get a discount rather than having to pay extra. The season has been extended until March 26th, with movies starting at 7.45pm.  A great night out under the southern sky.

Have a look at what is coming up.

shaping an alaia surfboard

Give the boy a plank of wood and a few tools and he will whip out a surfboard.  In preparation for the day when resin, fiberglass and foam are no longer available, Aquaman hand crafted a beautiful Alaia (are-lie-a) from a blank of plantation grown paulownia timber.

 I snatched a moment with Aquaman to ask him about his project and the history behind the Alaia.

What exactly is an Alaia surfboard?
Surfboard design has gone full circle and there has been a revival of the original Hawaiian boards, with a slight variation in timber. The plan shape is almost identical to the originals, the main difference between the modern Alaia and the ancient Hawaiian boards is a deep concave running most of the length along the bottom. 

How does an Alaia perform in the water?
The thin, flat rockered board moves across the wave very quickly. The sharp edge of the rail bites into the wave like a long fin and the gentle curves on the bottom hold the board on the face of the wave. The board is light so it accelerates quickly and the wood is sealed with oil which creates very little friction on the water.  They are very fast and very loose.  


Take me through the process of shaping? 
I drew a plan outline on the blank then cut it out with a jigsaw. Then drew guidelines along the top and bottom edge of the rails, the deck and the bottom, to show me the shape of the rails and the curvature.  I used an electric planer to give basic curve to the rails; rails are kept very sharp because these act as a fin. 

You are meant to scoop out the concave with a spoke shave, but I used an angle grinder with a wood cutting disc, resulting in a lot of "wabi-sabi" features on the bottom.  To finish the board I hand sanded using increasingly fine grade sand paper to get a super smooth finish.  (80-200 on deck, 80-800 on bottom).  Two coats of linseed oil and your ready to slide.  No wax, no legrope, no fins, no resin, no glass.

Why did you want to make an Alaia?
I was inspired by meeting Tom Wegener at the Yallingup Surf Film Festival last summer and seeing his movie Creation Plantation.  It is such a novel direction in design and yet looked achievable; something I knew I could make myself without the use of gnarly chemicals and creation of toxic dust.  It is sustainable and recyclable; it uses a minimal amount of fossil fuel energy and the only petrochemical by-products are found in the small amount of glue used to laminate the blank.  The board is sealed with linseed oil and when the board has come to the end of its life it can return to the earth. In this way the board steps lightly.

Are you actually going to use it?
I will definitely give it a go. Essentially, it's a novelty board that I'll enjoy purely as an object, and if I don't enjoy surfing it, it will look good on the wall. If the shit hits the fan, we will all have to resort to a wooden plank.

See the Alaia's first ocean dunking on this here blog soon...
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