Tap tap, goes his hand on the rail, followed by a very casual, “up you hop.” It is as relaxed as a Blackjack player tapping the table for another card but it signals something far more ominous.
I look down at the rain-spla"ered rail and wonder, again, why the hell I’d thought this was the answer. In the sideways misty rain of south-western Tasmania, my new-found mate – a Kiwi instructor with impenetrably dark sunglasses – is asking me to literally swing a leg over a near-shoulder- high guard rail at the Gordon Dam....click on the magazine cover to read full feature.
Jackie is a dear friend of mine, and as part of MND week I wanted to share her inspiring and courageous journey. When I see Jackie and her sister for coffee, I always leave filled to the brim with their positivity and I'm always met with two matching lovely smiles. Read their story below or on the MND website.
Life doesn’t get any better. You’ve just married your college sweetheart Shane. You’re building your dream home. You’re in your prime at 24, running about on a touch football field with an eager smile. You’re biggest worry is the unflattering red jersey you have to wear. It’s a beautiful evening with a light breeze sweeping over Bellerive Beach from the great Southern Ocean. You’re warming up, tossing the ball across to that happy husband of yours who sends it on to your twin sister, Anna. You drop the ball- it doesn’t matter- it’s a bit of mixed social fun.
Drop the ball again and in typical Aussie style, one of the boys on the side might poke a bit of playful fun. But if this is the worst life throws your way, you can leave those muddy boys behind at the end of the game.
As the season wears on though, even you begin to wonder why you’re fumbling easy catches and finding it hard to maintain balance when gently tagged by opposition. Games are becoming increasingly exhausting, so you put it down to a lack of fitness.
There’s soreness in your forearms, no big deal. You water ski, play netball, dance, anything could have strained them. In any case, you’ve got a house to get ready, dinner to prepare for your new husband and a bicycle waiting for its early morning ride into the city for work.
Months pass. You’re back on the touch footy field in that same flattering uniform. But there’s something you’re struggling with, that no other team mate would. You can’t trim your finger nails for the game. The strength required for the clippers just isn’t there. Immediately, Anna is by your side, quietly taking the clippers into her own hands.
It might have been then. It might have been gradual. But in that moment the two of you shared a worrying thought- something is wrong. Something is very, very wrong.
Life Takes an Unexpected Turn for Jackie
At this stage, even though Jackie could amazingly still find the strength to pull herself up out of the water when water skiing in New Norfolk, it was time to get some medical answers. At such an exciting time in life, it had initially felt easier to ignore subtle symptoms, but increasingly they became more difficult to hide.
Test after test, local doctors failed to find answers for Jackie’s forearm pain and lack of strength in her hands. During nearly eight months of uncertainty, the first neurosurgeon said, “I don’t think you have MND (Motor Neurone Disease) but I wouldn’t bet my house on it.”
However, in February 2006, after more tests, the diagnosis of MND became a reality for 25-year-old Jackie. MND causes the nerve cells (neurones) controlling the muscles that enable us to move around, speak, breathe and swallow, to fail. With no nerves to activate them, muscles gradually weaken and waste. MND affects each person differently with the average survival time after diagnosis being 3 to 5 years.
Defying the odds, today Jackie continues to fight MND with a courage and strength that is testament to the slow-progression of her condition. Being fit and healthy prior to diagnosis put her in good stead, but in meeting Jackie, it is clear that it’s her will and innate strength that carry her forward. This isn’t to say that Jackie hasn’t needed to be carried on her journey. Husband Shane left his job as an IT consultant and is now her full time carer. Watching your young wife deteriorate must be an unspeakable reality, but to watch Shane is to see a husband who is fiercely loyal, courageous and refreshingly cheerful despite his role.
For Anna life has changed. Living nearby and cutting back work hours, if Jackie needs anything, Anna is there. If Jackie wants to meet with friends, it is Anna by her side. If Jackie needs a straw held up to her mouth to sip her latte, it is Anna’s hand that lifts the cup.
The unwavering support from Jackie’s family and friends can be seen from the twinkle in Jackie’s eye. Today, Jackie can no longer walk, eat or shower without assistance. As she sits in her wheelchair at the table, words are difficult to get out during the interview and to pick up Anna’s playful young toddler is something Jackie cannot do. The question had to be asked; how MND had changed her life.
The open-ended question could have received a lifetime’s worth of self-pity and despair, rolled into one long sentence beginning with ‘why me.’ But it didn’t have half the chance. Jackie answered simply and succinctly without the slightest hint of a downside.
“I get to spend more time with my family and friends,” came the beautiful response.
It was an effortless reply from Jackie, not in the physical sense of delivering the words, but in the sense of her outlook on life. It was natural for her to immediately consider the positive outcomes of a debilitating disease.
It’s the type of response that has the power to stop you in your tracks, right as you’re busily moving through a hectic day. There was no pause, no slumped shoulders from the wheelchair, just a sweet smile and a few short words.
It is little wonder then, that since Jackie’s diagnosis she has embraced life just as fully as she did prior. Two months later, Jackie and Shane were surprising Shane’s parents on a pacific cruise on the Diamond Princess, Jackie smiling in the happy holiday snaps with the same glow as always.
During 2007, the pair flew every month of the year except for one; from Western Australia to Townsville to South Australia, no corner of the country was off limits. It didn’t take long for Anna and husband Heath, Jackie’s elder sister Nadine, and both sets of parents to catch the travel enthusiasm, often meeting Jackie and Shane at their scenic locations.
Since returning from a recent 8 month trip around Australia in their caravan, Jackie and Shane are back home relaxing. The girl who “still feels bad for parking in the disabled space,” continues to inspire all those around her with the positive attitude she exudes.
MND might have taken a few things from her but two things will always remain; her belief in living life to the full and that twinkling smile. Both come from a place deep inside and will always shine far more brightly than the challenges Jackie bears.
A day-to-day insight from Jackie’s carers
No one close to Jackie anticipated that a carer’s role would become part of life as they knew it. But in the case of Jackie’s loved ones, it’s as if they wrote the rule book and had spent a lifetime in preparation for it.
After diagnosis Jackie’s family, friends and loved ones became the weaves of a fabric that kept daily life together. And it became Shane and his very close family who managed the vital threads.
Let’s hear what daily life is like.
Shane Chugg- Jackie’s husband
Shane’s typical day begins between 7-8am after usually a restless night’s sleep as Jackie needs to be moved and rubbed during the night. Jackie has her tablets at 8am and gets up between 9:30-11:30am (sometimes later) which gives Shane a little time to tinker in the shed, work on the computer or relax. During this time Shane is still on call, ready to roll Jackie every hour or so and give her sips of water.
When it’s time to get up Shane helps Jackie to the bathroom then out to the table for breakfast. As it takes time for Jackie to eat, breakfast usually takes 30 minutes before they hit the shower, get dressed, brush hair and are ready for the day ahead. With a bit of time before lunch, often Jackie will sit in her recliner, play with Taylah the dog or the two will head out in the car.
Most days Jackie has an afternoon lay down to rest her weary muscles. That normally happens from about 3 to 5 during which time Jackie tries to drink lots of water. Shane cooks dinner while Jackie is in bed and she gets up for a few hours until about 7 or 8pm when she calls it a night. Whenever they break away from that routine, say to go out for dinner, it can throw Jackie out and she gets very tired and can sleep in until after midday the next day.
“I've heard other carers say ‘I feel like I'm the one with MND’ and I think that rings true with me too,” explains Shane. “Because Jackie and I are so closely tied, what one suffers so does the other. We were a young working couple with great jobs, loads of optimism and big plans for our future together. To let go of all our hopes and dreams and live for today is a big change. I think it's great that I'm able to be here for Jackie.”
Through some luck and the help of family the two have been able to afford to stay in their lovely home without Shane needing to work. Also thanks to the love and support from friends and family they have got everything they need including medical equipment, a hydrotherapy spa, a wheelchair van, a caravan, holidays around Australia and so on. For Shane he says, “I guess I'm living a dream life, except that it has a great big dark cloud called MND hanging overhead.”
“Jackie's attitude is amazingly positive, she is genuinely hopeful. The doctors have told Jackie something cold, hard and brutal but Jackie still thinks to herself, ‘I can beat this.’ Jackie often sheds a tear for others, ie watching a touching true story on TV, but it's very rare that Jackie will shed a tear for herself,” explains Shane.
Shane can see how someone suffering from a life threatening illness could slide into depression but he could never imagine Jackie going down that road. There is just too much hope, love and happiness inside her. In Shane’s words, “Jackie raises us all up and if she only got back half the love she gives she would still have enough for two lifetimes.”
There have been several changes in Shane’s life- some good and some difficult. After Jackie was diagnosed with MND he felt devastated. Yet, at the same time he tried incredibly hard to be strong for Jackie and blocked many of the feelings out (and thinks he still does to this day).
“I worry about Jackie a great deal, I often feel frustrated and anxious. I'm tired and run-down almost all the time,” says Shane. “On the positive side I now understand what's really important. I treasure life, family moments and fun times with friends. Jackie's love soothes all my aches and pains, she makes me feel warm and happy, she's truly amazing.”
“I really miss the good old days and it saddens me to look at what we've lost. At the same time I feel grateful for every day I get to spend with Jackie and I'm hopeful that we can continue to be happy together for many years to come.”
Anna Macpherson - Jackie’s twin sister
For Anna and Jackie, sisterly catch ups involve a very different set of activities these days, but the two have a way of finding the joy in even the smallest things. According to Anna, after getting up Jackie often enjoys a Jacuzzi on warm days, a look around their garden in the wheel chair, and if up to it, shopping with Anna.
“We go to massage, appointments or anywhere else she may need to go, for instance catching up with friends,” explains Anna. “Just recently we caught up with our Immigration work mates for High Tea at the Grand chancellor. We enjoy planning holidays, and also Ireland (Anna’s daughter) keeps us entertained when I visit.”
Anna, her husband Heath and daughter Ireland are always busy doing all sorts of things with Jackie and the rest of the family. As a sister, Anna has Jackie and Shane on her mind daily and plans things around them if need be. There is never a time that Anna does not consider what she might be doing or what she might like to do.
“I will drop anything to assist Jackie and Shane, as they are our priority,” says Anna. “For pretty much everything we plan we think about Jackie in some way. It certainly has been difficult to see Jackie like this and I always hope there will be a cure just around the corner. Mainly it's about spending quality time with her and caring for her too, with her daily needs.”
After Jackie was diagnosed, Anna worked four days a week to ensure she could make the most of everyday with her. Anna would take her to appointments and give Shane a chance to rest for a day. Then Ireland came along, and the excitement was far reaching, something for all of them to enjoy. Anna then had 15 months off work on maternity leave, which gave her the opportunity to spend a lot of time with Jackie and she could watch Ireland grow up.
“Ireland loves to help Jackie, with giving her drinks, food and even climbing up on her lap to give her cuddles,” comments Anna. “She is fully aware Jackie needs attention and assistance and is quick to assist her with all sorts of things- even wiping her nose for her when Jack sneezes- amazing what a two-year-old can do!”. Ireland often says to Jackie “You right Jack?”!
Anna keeps in her mind just how strong her sister is- such a fighter that never lets her situation get her down. According to Anna this is evident in her amazing ability to have such a strong and positive attitude five years on. “Jackie’s attitude toward potential treatment options is positive and some have been explored as she is willing to try anything that may help.”
“It is devastating and I wish that a cure could make her better, but we all remain strong for Jackie (and Shane), as how could you not when she is so amazing! I think her positive attitude in some ways makes it easier to deal with whilst seeing her fight MND. It certainly encourages you to make to most of EVERYDAY. We always did but even more so now.”
Blog from my Tailored Tasmania website:
There’s a beauty about kayaking…the soft gritty noise of sand as you’re pushed from beach to water. You’re first wobble once afloat. And the gentle splash as your paddle dips in and surges you forward. Yes. It’s a beautiful feeling.
From there - you glide. It’s a way to see Hobart like no other.
And when you do the Hobart Paddle Tour with Hobart Adventures, it’s an extra special experience. For one, you don’t even have to get your precious feet wet! They’ll slide you from land to water aboard your slender vessel.
And two, you don’t have to worry about gear. They have you covered from life vest, to spray jacket, to extra snuggly winter warmers. You just show up at Marieville Esplanade in Sandy Bay and head toward the happily yellow kayaks.
That’s all we did- and from the moment we arrived waterside we were looked after tremendously. The guides, Jarrod and Tanielle, were mightily nice folk and eager for us to enjoy Hobart from a perspective few people see.
Our intimate group of double kayaks set out at a gentle pace, hugging the shore of historic Battery Point. Cruising past some rather prestigious foreshore abodes, we listen as the guides share stories and fascinating snippets of history that even impress the ears of local paddlers.
On this twilight tour, we are blessed with magic conditions. The breeze is light, the sun is glowing and the water smooth. As the River Derwent opens out before us, we realise that tonight she’s in a lively mood. There are classic yachts, a cruise liner and even the spectacle of a seaplane coming in to land.
If you’ve ever wanted to feel small and insignificant- kayak over to a giant cruise ship and look up. If the towering monstrosity doesn’t make you want to wet your pants, the angry security officer threatening arrest will do. Just paddle fast in the opposite direction. Fast towards the dinner table!
That’s right, next stop is fish and chips. But, not in your typical restaurant setting. With Hobart Paddle we are tied together in a merry kayak bunch while Jarrod collects the freshest box of seafood goodness from a local fish punt.
It’s an ironic feeling to be bobbing a few centimetres above the water enjoying a meal while a capital city buzzes away around you. It’s not every day that a kayak is your table top, and I’m certain I caught a glimpse of envy in the eyes of those sea-gull hassled land eaters nearby.
After dinner, it’s time for a leisurely paddle home. Taking a slightly different route meant that the return journey was equally new and intriguing. The entire trip is the perfect blend of activity, heritage, relaxation and genuine friendly fun. And you don’t have to be from across the globe for this type of experience, because for even a local, it’s often the first time you’ll see your home city from such a refreshing and special vantage point.
You’ll fall in love all over again…because falling out is not an option with Hobart Paddle!
To book a morning or twilight tour visit Hobart Adventures
Blog from my Tailored Tasmania website:
It happened at the very first red light. Sitting low in my fancy BMW Z4 convertible at a busy intersection, I let out an excited squeal. Hands on the leather wheel I stared ahead, certain the flock of pedestrians at the lights had heard me.
A quick headturn confirmed their amusement, but thankfully in Hobart style, the lights changed promptly. Seeing green was the first moment Z4’s acceleration and I became close travel companions.
But I’m not about to tell you that hiring a prestige car from Overdrive is about speeding about the city streets. Their customer service is like none I’ve encountered, but doesn’t extend to paying for 58km/hour speeding tickets in those lovely 50k shopping zones.
I learnt the hard way that convertibles offer no lid to contain shrieks of joy. But what caused this you ask? Was it the fact I had a 7-speed M3 paddle shift gearbox beside me? As a girl with little gearbox expertise, I must admit no. It was so much more….
I collected my passenger and we cruised out of the city streets with gourmet picnic tucked away in the boot. Bound for Mount Wellington, I had taken this winding, impressive journey many times. But nothing prepared me for how different the experience would be aboard my new mate, Z4.
The towering rock spires known as the the Organ Pipes, typically out of view for much of the ascent in a roofed car, rose proudly high above our left. The warm mountain air breezed across our faces and the scent of wildflowers filled the open cabin. A whole range of senses, typically trapped inside a closed vehicle, were suddenly engaged.
Of course little Z4 effortlessly hugged the corners, and the mountain’s steepness barely caused her to puff. It was a smooth and powerful trip to the top, the type that makes you feel alive. Was it the wind in our hair? The uninterrupted views from road to sky? The low ride that made it feel naughtily fast? Or the roar of Z4 each time the accelerator was engaged? It was all of this.
It was this, and also a large dose of Overdrive’s commitment to service. It’s not often that a business is so insistent on making your experience far superior to anything you anticipated. Yes, you might be just hiring a car. But according to Overdrive, it’s an opportunity to make you feel special, to offer more than expected, and to leave you with a satisfied, exhilarated smile.
Not only will you have a Porsche, Audi, Volkswagen, BMW or snazzy Mini Cooper in your hot little hands, but it’ll be happily delivered to your door. You’ll be showered with customised itineraries, optional car changeovers and interesting drop off locations. What’s more, you can combine your performance vehicle with a Rotorlift helicopter journey, with their fantastic fly/drive packages.
Don’t expect to wander up to the counter and have a key shoved in your direction. You’ll be greeted personally, will be given tips on the best Tasmanian experiences, hotels, restaurants and local secrets before you’re farewelled.
Currently the Z4 is $225 a day for 2 days, $200 for 7+ days with complimentary drop offs and pick ups in the city. Trust me, once you press the ‘top down’ button you’ll want to squeal at the first set of traffic lights also.
For more information visit: Overdrive
*For some great itinerary ideas click here….there’s nothing like combining a prestige car with some glorious scenery….is the Bay of Fires calling? Saffire Resort? The Agrarian Kitchen? Arrive in style.
Blog from my Tailored Tasmania website:
My car door swings open and I’m met with a chorus of Wattlebirds, geese, kookaburras and goats- greeting me with a cacophony of country charm. They confirm I’m out of central Hobart, but only by 45 minutes of pleasant driving.
I’ve heard much about the Agrarian Kitchen- so much so that I’ve been desperately looking forward to wearing my own Agrarian apron. In many respects this seems at odds for someone who only recently ‘googled’ how long it takes to hard-boil an egg.
Yet, I was determined to find out if a day with Rodney Dunn might tip me into the realm of serving up something special. It certainly did. You see before my class, I never saw ricotta as much more than a tub-purchase at the supermarket.
I’d never dreamt of making my own. Nor had I tinkered with the idea of milking a goat to make it. My, did Rodney have plans for me…
You could call the Agrarian experience hands on, but it’s more than that. It’s better described as ‘get your gumboots on, come pull some heirloom goodness from the earth, tug on a goats teat and let’s have some fun.’
It’s an education, and a full immersion of all that’s paddock-to-plate. I found this particularly special- a cooking school housed in the original schoolhouse of Lachlan. Built in 1887, the beautiful building is still true to its earlier form and breathes a sense of learning, long engrained in her walls.
But, where schoolbooks were awaiting those little Lachlan locals, today we are met with a warm Rodney welcome complete with coffee or tea, flavoured with delights from beyond the backdoor. My new friend opts for a ‘surprise tea from the garden.’
Next, there’s goats like Pretty Girl to meet, peas that go by the name of Lacy Ladies and 50 varieties of heirloom tomato to decide between. There’s garlic from Bulgaria, three vibrant colours of sage, a marshmallow plant and Hyssop- a meat herb that rates a mention or two in the bible.
But our first stop is the goat’s milk. In a perfect play on history, the four-legged ‘kids’ hang out in the front paddock that used to serve as a playground for those little Lachlan kids mentioned back in the 1900s.
Oaks and Elm trees planted here were done so by the youngsters, marking Federation Day back in 1901. It seems the new kids are equally delighted with their lot, right next door to the wallowing Wessex pigs.
Our baskets swell as we make our way through the garden, collecting lovage (a relative of celery) for a salad, plucking radishes from lush soil, tasting far too many berries, collecting eggs from gaggling chickens as well as red and yellow chard for our exciting three-course meal.
Back inside, we’re encouraged to join with a partner and pick one of four menu items. My very eager and lovely partner opts for the ‘pancetta, goat’s milk ricotta and baby chard rotolo.’ My eyes grow big. The name alone spells kitchen disaster for someone who struggles with an egg. I smile politely and agree it’s an excellent choice. And so it begins.
I read through the steps. Chop an onion. I can cope with that. Finely chop some garlic, yes, that’s doable. And before I know it, I’m separating curds from whey, pressing ricotta through a fine sieve and partaking in the creation of what’s to be one of the tastiest treats I’ve had.
There’s pasta to make, chard to blanch, rosemary and garlic butter to prepare….but so far it’s coming together nicely. Between my more than capable comrade and the calm, wisdom-filled words of Rodney it all runs smoothly.
After a good three hours in the kitchen and nearly two in the garden, we sit down to our first course, our ricotta rotolo creation. I’ve never had such a charming response to anything I’ve had a kitchen-hand in. It is worthy of the hug we share!
Through the entire meal, Rodney’s delightful wife Severine hovers in the background, ensuring your water never drops below the full mark, clearing plates and making you feel like you’re in a private home while Rodney serves meticulously-matched Tasmanian wines.
Next on the menu is chargrilled quail with nettle and lovage sauce. The quail, cooking away on the outdoor barbecue fuelled by large logs, sends wafts of deliciousness through the back door. And in Agrarian style the quail comes from just up the road.
Served alongside quinoa with roast root vegetables and tahini yoghurt as well as pea, roasted shallot and asparagus salad it took all our effort to leave room for dessert. Those who were able were well rewarded.
The ‘oooohs and ahhhhs’ coming from around the table could easily be translated into a delectable ‘yes’ from all 8 judges. This was no Masterchef competition, but most found it deep in themselves to enjoy the generously-sized rhubarb, elderflower and frangipane tartlet in full.
I sit back with a baffled half-smile, wondering how I pulled off something delicious in the kitchen. It might have been my ‘other half’ and her kitchen rigour, or that lingering ability to learn like those 1900s school children of Lachlan.
After all, on the trip home speaking to my father, it turns out my great grandfather was the Headmaster of the school. So, for now I will credit him with my brief kitchen flair. And I’ll serve this fact up with a good dose of Rodney’s superb advice along the way.
Visit the Agrarian Kitchen or find them on Facebook
Blog from my Tailored Tasmania website:
This new addition to the Hampden Road streetscape is the type of secret treasure we love. Step inside and you’ll be greeted with anything from an old-fashioned travel iron through to the finest wares being created by local hands.
Why the name LIONHART? HART is a mature male deer. A LION with antlers…quite the hip, bold statement!
For owners Nancy and Peter, sourcing their ‘new and old’ finds is a passion that can easily be recognised when you meet them in store. Nancy, a French Canadian with a background in film production and Peter, a returned Tasmanian and IT guru, made the instinctive decision to swing open LIONHART’s doors just two weeks after floating the idea of opening a shop together.
And should they be proud now! Within days this little space has lured in curious locals and impressed tourists by the dozens. It may be small, but already its little lion roar is being heard across Hobart. So much so, they are quite certain that expansion into the back room will happen much sooner than anticipated.
As I begin the interview, a man walks in armed with a collection of beautiful tutu’s handmade by his wife (not the manliest armful, but stunning nonetheless). No sooner has he popped them on the counter, a delighted Battery Point resident can’t help but snap up two ‘Hung Up On Agnes’ tutu’s for her grand daughters.
“The craft in Tasmania is just lovely,” explains Nancy with a smile. “I remember writing down the name Ruby Victoria in a notebook many years ago and today I have her letterpress prints in store. We have work by Marley & Lockyer too, and are coming across new and exciting products all the time.”
Nancy has put her own stamp on LIONHART also, up-cycling a beautiful old locker and both Peter and Nancy may create their own wares in time, so keep an eye out for what this clever pair create.
And for the boys, don’t just think this is your typical, girly gift shop. Peter has put his creative flare to work, and there’s a stylish, masculine element that permeates the store- particularly evident in the string of Stonemen’s creative men’s underwear on the back wall!
“When I was living in Sydney I came across these fantastic underpants, and I like that they’re a bit unusual,” says Peter. “They’ve been so popular we have ladies styles on their way. Plus our headphones are super cool. They are from LA and offer great sound; we’re currently the only Tassie stockists. People enjoy plugging in their phones and having a play.”
When not in store, Peter busily scouts out plenty of ‘old’ treasures to add to LIONHART’s lair. You’ll find classic typewriters, Polaroid cameras, and one very trendy old transistor radio on the front window ledge.
Head into the side room, and from bold ropes hang an old school-boy favourite- the ruck sack. These classics are made by Whillas & Gunn, an Australian family business since 1972. And in typical LIONHART fashion, they hang proudly above little walruses that cleverly double as bottle openers….of course.
So come step inside and prepare to be delighted. Small in space but big on experience, exploring LIONHART is half the fun. Finding that something special for your special someone will simply be an added bonus. And don’t expect them to have it already… LIONHART pride themselves on sourcing all things different. Enjoy the journey!
*opposite Prince of Wales, Hampden Road and beside glorious Pollen Tea.
Blog from my Tailored Tasmania website:
Roll through the gates of this exquisite estate and you’ll know you have arrived somewhere special. For us, it takes but a few steps across the white-pebbled car park to be greeted by a grand door sweeping open just for us, matched with a welcoming smile.
One could be forgiven for feeling you’d slipped into Europe just 15 minutes from Hobart, but there are plenty of cues to remind you that you’re still nestled in Tasmania. The grounds of Villa Howden tumble into the shores of sparkling North West Bay and grand windows frame the classic Tasmanian backdrop. It’s secluded. And it’s terribly romantic.
Cushioned in luxury, this is the type of experience that simply makes you feel special. The type that reminds you to treat yourself or spoil another, and celebrate life’s little pleasures. On this Sunday afternoon, it’s all about the joy of High Tea.
“We have your complimentary Tasmanian Pirie sparkling on its way,” explains the cheerful waitress as she lays our linen napkins across our laps, causing us to exchange spoilt grins.
No sooner had she disappeared from the glorious light-filled dining room, she was back with two flutes of crisp bubbles and wait for it, a three-tiered delivery of seasonal High Tea delights.
It was difficult to know where to start; the traditional fluffy scones with rich Tasmanian cream and Kate’s Berry Farm jam taking the lofty heights of level one? The warm savoury treats on the lower level accompanied with ribbon sandwiches? Or the mid-plate, where my eyes grew large at the sweet, sweet treasures.
As it turns out, it doesn’t matter where you start, any way you go will lead you to three empty tiers. But it’s not just what’s on the plate that lures people down here. There’s so much more to absorb.
There’s a certain pleasure that comes with escaping the masses; High Tea promises a personal touch. There’s a grace in its tradition. There’s a warmth in feeling as if you’ve been invited into a private country home. And there’s an elegance in the soft tunes of the baby grand, punctuated by the hum of polite chatter.
And really, at $35 per head, you don’t have to be Queen Elizabeth to enjoy a fancy High Tea party! Plus, it doesn’t even have to be fancy, bring a picnic rug and enjoy yours by the water. Villa Howden are generous in their servings, and you’re sure to feel slightly over-indulged by the time your plates are bare. At this point, it’s the perfect time to wander out to the landscaped gardens or even strike up a game of lawn croquet.
It’s not easy rolling back out those distinguished gates that signal immersion and a retreat from the bustle of life. But not all is lost. You’re not thrown straight into the cityscape, but instead have the chance to discover more rural and very real Tasmanian experiences….the Huon Valley or the enchanting Channel are just around the bend.
*Of course you too can enjoy a free $12 glass of Tassie Pirie when you book through December and mention Tailored Tasmania.
Blog from my Tailored Tasmania website:
After a couple of blogs featuring wonderful weekend ideas, as creator of Tailored Tasmania I thought I’d say hello to you all. But most importantly, I wanted to thank you for your support, interest and help in spreading the Tailored Tasmania word.
With more than 8000 unique visitors to the site in a small two weeks, I couldn’t be happier with the warm response. It indicates to me that many of you share my love of Tasmania and are excited to find out more about local, hidden gems.
So where did the inspiration for the site come from? It was born out of my intense love of this island and a passion to ensure that every local and every visitor enjoys it just as much. Had I not lived in America for five years, I may never have come to appreciate Tasmania with the fresh eyes in which I see it today. As a typical young Tasmanian eager for new shores, it was the lure of my own that brought me home.
My mission is to support local business and encourage new faces through their doors. But, it's just as much about directing someone from my Salamanca Market stall to one of my favourite cafes for a ‘Tailored Tasmania deal’ and being met with an excited, intrigued smile.
If anyone dares tell me there’s nothing to do in Tassie, I’ll point them in 200 directions! There are few places on earth where you can breathe the freshest air on the planet, sink into a Japanese spa overlooking Bass Strait, or follow the elusive scurry of a Tasmanian devil. In fact, there’s no other place.
And the joy of my work is that I continue to find new hidden treasures. Who wouldn’t like to sink into a deckchair and watch a game of Polo just 15 minutes’ outside our capital city, at Brookfield Polo Club? Polo ponies in Hobart you ask? Oh yes! And you can back your car into a lovely rural picnic setting 'field-side' and top it off with a glass of Frank’s Summer Cider.
Winner of 3 medals at the National Cider Awards, Frank’s Cider is preparing to launch at this years Taste Festival. Hailing from Franklin, the apples in your bottle come from century old trees, planted by the hands of Frank’s great grandfather after the Clark family were granted land back in 1836. And don't we like those rich Tasmanian family tales.
For a touch of Italy in Hobart, why not take advantage of the Italian Pantry’s Thursday night deal, where for just $8 you can enjoy an Aperol Spritz and appetiser. Having just returned from Italy, it was a surprise to stumble across an Italian tradition normally reserved for little old Italian men on bicycles who like a Spritz after work.
Or a taste of Antarctica? Well, Mawson’s Place (Mawson, the very man who first took ice-skates to Antarctica) is soon to feature a brand new ice skating rink. Am I delighted about this new addition to our waterfront? Let’s just say I’ll be the first one on skates….bound to come to grief….but with a smile on my face. Keep an eye out for skating fun arriving late next month.
There’s more to come. So much more to explore. Tasmania is an exciting, creative, inspiring place, and I am thrilled to share it with you.