Freelance Writer

British Columbia

After recently visiting British  Columbia, I have to say Canada would have to be the most beautiful country I have visited and one of the world’s most picturesque.

We toured British Columbia on the west coast which is bordered by the American state of Alaska on the northwest, the Yukon in the north, the province of Alberta on the east and on the south by the states of Washington, Idaho, and Montana. With huge snow capped mountains, glaciers and waterfalls, you think it can’t get any better than this, and you turn the corner and it does. The pristine countryside is breathtakingly beautiful and the lovely Canadian people are so in touch with nature, conservation, land management, natural resources and wild life.

Black Bear 1 xGrizzly xLooking for bears on Safari River Safari

One of our first stops was at the Butchart Gardens in Victoria on Vancouver Island. These gardens are an incredible floral display, covering more than 22 ha (55 acres). Established in the early 1920s by Jennie Butchart, who loved gardening and had an idea to beautify the old worked-out quarry which had supplied her husband Robert’s nearby cement plant.

Butchart Gardens picx Butchart Gardens fountain x Butchart Gardens x

Each year over a million bedding plants in 900 varieties provide uninterrupted bloom from March through to October.  While we only had about three hours there, you could quite easily spend the whole day there.

When in Jasper, we went on safari up the river where we powered along, on the look out for Canadian wildlife. When in Canada, everyone’s eyes are peeled for local animals  such as bears, moose, elk and eagles. As we approached the river bank in the boat, John, the skipper, cut the motor, advising us to be quiet so as not to disturb the bears in their natural habitat. John had grown up on the land and he was so knowledgeable and passionate about nature. He told us he was about seventeen before he actually tasted a piece of meat from a butcher shop or supermarket as he and his family had always lived off the land. With enormous respect for the land, the animals and the whole environment, he said he often visited the forest, simply to enjoy the peace and tranquillity there. Someone asked him if he took a gun with him when he visits the woods and he said “No I don’t take a gun. I usually don’t even take a camera. It is just so peaceful in there, I wish more people would appreciate the beauty and peace and stillness in there”, he said.

As we say in our techno charged world – There is no wifi in the forest but you are guaranteed a much better connection.

On this particular morning we spotted a grizzly bear on the river bank just going about his business. (See photo)

Grizzly close up xGrizzly close up x

The holiday was truly awesome with so much packed in to three weeks. The first two weeks, we toured on a coach through British Columbia, including Victoria, Jasper, Whistler, Lake Louise and Banff. While travelling though British Columbia, we met many young Australians working throughout Canada. They all love being there and with Canada being part of the Commonwealth, it’s very easy to get a Visa and renew it.

on the snow 2 x Lake Louise xIngrid's home cooking xIn the snowLake Louise 2 xIngrid & black bear x

After the coach tour, we travelled by train on the Rocky Mountaineer, through the Rocky Mountains for two days from Banff to Vancouver. With glass picture windows and dome glass ceilings, you could take in every bit of magnificent scenery along the way. Following an overnight stay in Vancouver, we joined the Holland America line for a seven day cruise along the inside passage through Alaska, stopping at Juneau, Skagway and Ketchican. Visiting those towns was like walking into a town in the old Wild West, fully expecting to see cowboys on horses come riding through.

Ingrid  &  Moose xRocky Mountaineer xWhite Pass


Red Dog Saloon xIMG_5333 Alaskan liquor store xRocky MountaineerAlaska xon the ship xPicture perfect xSeaplane 1IMG_0524

Kevan Collett xKevan Collett

While our weather is usually pretty good at Easter time, this year was no exception with Good Friday (which is traditionally overcast) being a lovely sunny day.

So with glorious Easter weather and after family celebrations, Easter Sunday afternoon was an ideal time to go for a drive to Boyanup and visit Jalindia Orchard Gallery, where artist Kevan Collett was open for visitors. While Open Day was on Easter Saturday, the gallery was open throughout the Easter break and we enjoyed a stroll through the gallery and a glass of wine with Kevan.

waterscape x Paintings KC xA few of Kevan’s paintings

In idyllic surroundings, Jalindia is an ideal place for an artist to live and work. Kevan had an array of paintings in watercolours, some acrylic and mixed media, as well as sculptures.


Also on display were some of the exotic art of Judi McGuigan, who is especially renowned for her nude creations – see below

Kitty Cat by Judi McGuigan x Dessert Dunnart Judi McGuigan

Being a beginner water colourist myself, I was inspired by Kevan’s informative and entertaining book on water colours and includes a step by step demonstration …

Kevan Collett art book x


I see this is my 50th blog post so I note that deserves a toast!



local artist x local artist's work x


A sample of paintings along the Art Safari

A GROUP of dynamic artists invited the local community on an Art Safari to explore local creations. The event, held on Saturday the 28th March, between 3 and 6pm in Bunbury saw residents embarking on a self-guided walking tour through local artists’ private studios in the Tree Street area. All kinds of art was on display, including garden design, paintings and sculpture.

Artist Kerry Gelmi was inspired to start the safari after she went on a trip to New Zealand and experienced a similar walking tour.

“It is a great way to know your neighbour and your community,” she said.

Artists hope that their work will inspire the community to be involved and create their own artwork.


Stained glass windows St Bonifice xStained Glass windows at St Bonifice Cathedral

Stained Glass windows at St Bonifice Cathedral


While residents could start the trail at any point, it officially started at the two cathedrals in Bunbury – St Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral and St Boniface Anglican Cathedral, with guided tours of their windows and artworks.

St Patrick’s Cathedral is a relatively new building with a modern structure including Robert Juniper windows. While some folk prefer the traditional stained glass window effect, the St Patrick’s art work is also stunning.

View from St Pats xView from St Patrick’s CathedralView from St Patrick's CathedralSt Pat's windows x

Tickets at $25 included a Mexican Cantina meal on completion of the trail with a long table supper from 6pm to 8pm at Walker Hall. The meal provided by Sue Footner of the Passionate Providore, was a hit, while music was provided by the Codee-Lee Duo and Blair Wittle and Fifth Estate Wines were available for free tastings and purchase.

A resounding approval from all concerned will hopefully see it become an annual event in the city of Bunbury.

St Bonifice Anglican Cathedral

St Bonifice Anglican Cathedral

During March a group of the Tuesday Stirling Street Art Centre students packed their sketch books and mini water colour kits and headed for Harvey central where they visited the Lemongrass café and art centre in Hayward Street.  Built  by George Gibb (uncle of May Gibb of Snuggle pot and Cuddle pie fame) in the early twentieth century,  the Lemongrass Café is a relaxing place and children and family friendly. Kids will be enchanted and occupied, while Mum and Dad can enjoy a nice coffee.  It’s a fascinating place to visit, with its quirkiness, including old photographs, memorabilia and multiple art works and will take you down memory lane.


Inside the Lemongrass Cafe

Inside the Lemongrass Café




the Lemongrass cafe site in the 1920s

the Lemongrass cafe site in the 1920s

Originally, from the 1920s, the shop has been home to several enterprises including  a tobacconist, stationer and boot and shine merchant. Then in later years, in the 1990s it was a pet shop and a grocery store.

Kevin the owner of Lemongrass is a talented artist himself, whose work can be found throughout the café in a variety of mediums.

Unassuming and friendly, Kevin is most accommodating and welcoming to visitors, encouraging artists to do their thing.

Lemongrass Café will be relocating later in the year to another part of Harvey. While details of the new venue are not yet known, I have no doubt the new venue will continue to thrive. So watch for future updates.


Art group x

On the way to Lemongrass the art group made a quick stop to Stirling Cottage at the Harvey Visitors Centre, which proved to be inspirational to the artists, with lush green and colourful gardens and water scenes as well as a great café … another ideal spot to set up the easels.

Stirling Cottage Gardens x River scenexIngrid & Eileenx


Gazebo x Gardensx Gardens x


Stirling Cottagexartists at work x

Stirling Cottage is on James Stirling Place and South west Highway


Book Launch – Doing Good


Doing Good IMG_3675

James McRobert – Doing Good

 Author James McRobert launched his mystery  novel Doing Good last night at Caf Fez café in Bunbury . The launch was a celebration of a fourteen year writing project coming to fruition. McRobert, a retired social worker thanked everyone for their encouragement, including friends and family who had read early extracts from the book when it was still in draft form .   While McRobert’s family admitted to being a little concerned at times regarding his interest in garrotting and firearms, they need not have worried for it was all in the name of research for a good story.

Jim reading x Jim reading 1x

McRobert also thanked the South Side Quills writers group, of which he is a member, for their support and encouragement along the writing journey. “The group meets once a month and you can read out your work and get valuable feedback. It may not always be what you want to hear, but it’s honest feedback, which is what you want”, he said.

Jo & Jimx Jo & Jim 2x

More than fifty people attended the launch, including members of the Quills writers group. Group mentor Jo Robertson, praised McRobert’s efforts saying to complete a book takes commitment and perseverance. “… And you’ve done it – bloody good job” she quipped. Mrs Roberson encouraged anyone who wanted to write a story, be it memoir, short story, novel or whatever, to do so. She also spoke of William Yeoman of the West Australian  newspaper, who writes a regular section on books and local author’s in the paper. Yeoman encourages writers, when they complete their book, to send it to the West for some exposure.


South  Side Quills Writers Group

South Side Quills Writers Group

Jo &  PhillisxTerry, Jo Phyl & Carmelx

McRobert delighted readers when he told them he is already working on a sequel to Doing Good.   To buy a copy of the book, you can contact James McRobert by email 


Social media feline

Oh looks like there’s a message …

1 oh looks like there's a message x

Excuse me … how does this work again?

2 How does this work againx

OK … I’m onto it

4 It's a bit complicatedx

Oh you do it will you

5 oh ... you do it will you x


It’s a bit complicated and I can feel another nap coming on.4 It's a bit complicatedx




Here I am drinking champagne in Champagne!

Cheers from Champagne!

Exploring the GH Mumm champagne cellars

Exploring the GH Mumm champagne cellars

It was a long day, spending 9 hours in Champagne exploring the region, the vineyards and of course sampling the champagne. I know it’s tough but do you hear me complaining? No – no complaints here at all!

Visited the GH Mumm and the Mercier cellars both really good drops … Unfortunately Moët and Chandon were closed for renovations.

One of the staff  (sorry I neglected to take his photo – too many bubbles by then)

Anyway, he advised:

Champagne should be stored horizontally, if not – it will lose its boobles

Champagne should be not be stored for too long  – Ha … like that’s going to happen.


The origin of Champagne comes from the Latin Campo, meaning field or countryside and it was the Romans who established the vineyards and crops in the region around the 13th century. It was very fertile land and strategically placed relative to being central to the north, south and Eastern Europe.

Before the Romans, the region was inhabited by the Celtic tribe – the Francs in the 3rd and 4th centuries – hence the name France.


A cathedral of note in the Champagne area is Our Lady of Reims Notre Dame and is the place where the Kings of France were baptised, including Clovis – the first King of France.

It’s pretty amazing … Well like all the cathedrals in Europe – they are just mind boggling. It is one of the oldest cathedrals in Europe, but not the most beautiful according to the guide. That title, she said would go to the Chartres Cathedral, which is renowned for it’s stained glass windows. I am yet to see the Chartres cathedral but will be sure to post it when I do.

A biento