After spending a couple of years teaching pattern cutting in north London at Fashion Capital and Ray Stitch, writing a pattern cutting book and keeping Alice & Co made to measure clients chic and well dressed, it seems like a good time to pack my flip flops and sunscreen and fly south. That’s way down south – to Perth in Western Australia – for the start of a three month adventure that will include hiking, biking, sailing and horse riding as well as wining and dining, in city and country, with very warm and possibly some quite cool temperatures.
So choosing what to pack proves quite a challenge and finds me running off to M&S to buy a bigger suitcase on the morning of departure!
Somehow a trip always seems to need a new wardrobe and with the Alice and Co stitchers busy with last minute client requests it’s all down to me. So I rifle through through my fabric stash, fire up my sewing machine and whip up some new travel clothes.
Click here if you’d like to download the patterns for the outfits you’ll see me wearing in this post so you can make them up yourself. If you’d prefer something made to measure from Alice & Co you’ll just have to be patient and wait until my return to London at the end of April, sorry…
After a one night stopover in Perth to draw breath it’s into the hire car and a three hour drive south to the Margaret River region for some great outdoors – which it has in abundance.
Our aim is to walk parts of the Cape to Cape Track – hailed as one of the Great Walks of Australia, it’s 135 km long and takes you over the cliffs, across the beaches and through the woods neatly bookended by the Cape Naturaliste lighthouse at the top and the Cape Leeuwin lighthouse at the bottom.
You can do it the hard way – carry your pack on your back and stay in campsites along the way – or you can go for the soft option and let Walk into Luxury do all the hard work including transfers, gourmet picnics, luxury accommodation and a guide if desired.
Guides Sue and Dean enlightened and entertained us en route as well as reminding us to drink lots water and apply loads of sunscreen – you need masses of both here – and that’s Aussie dollops not UK dabs!
Along the route we find those who like to do it the hard way…
And those who favour a wet ride..
and others just having a look!
When you just can’t walk another step the Caves Road runs from end to end of the region, passing intriguing road signs and weaving through towering forests of karri, marri and jarrah trees with hardly another vehicle in sight.
As its name suggests you can visit some spectacular caves.
You will pass so many wineries with inviting open ‘cellar doors’, it would be rude not to go in and try a few. Here’s a novel way to see several…
…The ‘Long Lunch’ is something of an institution in Margaret River. For a super slap up one opt for The Flying Corkscrew’s ‘Ultimate Long Lunch’ Tour. This is run by genial Sully McLeod whose family were one of the first to settle in Margaret River in the 1860s so they know everything and everyone round here.
You’ll be treated to insider visits at some of the best cellar doors.
We sampled delicious sparkling wine at 10am at the Windows Estate, run by a young wife and husband team. Then we tasted some powerful reds made in a tin shed, Cape Grace, followed by some interesting rose at chic and sleek Amelia Park.
Just when I begin to confuse my sauvignon with my semillon and mix my shiraz with my merlot we step into the cutest little helicopter for a bird’s eye view of the forests, vineyards and magnificent coastline before touching down for the ‘longest lunch’ ever.
I think this is a fitting occasion to launch Alice &Co Patterns‘ first outfit and to christen it the Helicopter Top and Trousers. This cool and colourful set has minimal seams for speedy sewing and an elastic waistband in anticipation of that long lunch! Click here for details and a free introductory PDF download so you can make it today!
It’s always good to have a woman in charge! Dutch pilot Marije has an enviable job and her scenic 15 minute flight eventually lands in the manicured grounds of …
…where the six course Wine Discovery Menu is not really a menu but a series of postcards with poetic messages describing the ingredients du jour and accompanying wines.
To orchestrate the progress of our feast supremo sommelier Claire Tonon talks us through the dishes and the provenance of the wines.
This is ‘beginnings’ – marron, corn and flowers – it tastes as good as it looks!
By the time I’ve eaten and drunk my way through all six postcards my taste buds have been thoroughly stretched in all directions and I need the ‘longest lie down’.
Lucky for me I can sleep it off at luxurious Injidup Spa Retreat where in the spa ex-Buddhist monk Joel works wonders on knotted leg muscles more used to climbing escalators than cliffs.
I also sleep and eat well at
where all the boho chic furniture is their own design – it’s for sale in their local shop if your suitcase is large enough! I also recommend their Pure Radiance facial in the Empire Spa, which leaves me radiant indeed!
I always like to read a novel set where I’m traveling so pop into The Book Shop Margaret River, owned by Sully’s family and get some good recommendations from his bookworm brother Ash. I opt for Cloudstreet by Tim Winton who is probably WA’s most well known author. It’s a engrossing saga of two families struggling to make it in the early 20th century.
Always on the look out to satisfy my horse riding passion I sign up for a two hour ‘Bushman’s Ride’ at Jesters Flat and I love it! We throw fly-nets over our riding helmets which makes us look like Victorian ladies and set off at a spanking pace through the bush spotting kangaroos, emus and eagles along the way. Tiarni and Tom – a champion polo-cross player – keep us safe, point out interesting landmarks and wildlife, and spur us on for some exciting canters.
On our return, hot, grubby but exhilarated we’re offered hot flannels and cold water and treated to their own label Jesters Flat wine with bread, olive oil and dukka – a lovely touch .
I enjoy myself so much I have to go back for a second ride – this time Rachel, an escapee from Lancashire UK, gets even the new recruits cantering. I only wish I had time for the beach ride too.
Margaret River is said to be named for an English girl who’s hand in marriage was requested by a local farmer who was so confident she would come out he called his land after her – but she turned him down and never showed up. I think she missed a trick – this is a terrific place!
All images © nigeltisdall.com
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