Thursday, November 1, 2007

Birthday Treats

I was soooooo spoiled yesterday for my birthday.

I had an absolutely perfect day.

My lovely man asked me last week where I would like to go on the day, perhaps somewhere in 'the Dandenongs'? While pondering on maybe going again to the National Rhododendron Gardens at Olinda, I recalled that 'Cloudehill Gardens' were also in the vicinity. It is renowned as one of the major gardens in Victoria, and has featured on television and in magazines many times.

I have a special affinity for Olinda, and the Dandenong Ranges as a whole, as we spent many happy times in the 50's and early 60's staying in my grandmother's house on the same road. I do plan a write up on those years soon, and am also hoping to source the exact position of the old house, which was a particularly old and beautiful one. Maybe it's still there! I hope so. Everything looks so different now.

As we prepared to leave, I rang a good friend to wish her happy birthday as well. She asked me whether I was planning something special, and I told her we thought we might go to Cloudehill Gardens. "Wonderful! Have a great day", she said.

We went for morning coffee at nearby Olinda township, and browsed the boutique gift shops there for a while, then cruised off to the gardens.

They certainly didn't disappoint, as we wandered from 'room' to 'room' through the 20 beautifully manicured spaces ...........

A warm garden, which will be spectacular as the weather warms up.

Colours that 'sing' together, along with a scalloped hedge

Working with slopes offers so many surprises and options.

Every corner we turned, there was a new vista........

Tree Peonies in all colours

Tucked away in the shade under a weeping Cut Leaf Maple

Glorious Cameos everywhere.

Beautiful metal gate made by the sculptor, Kim Kennedy.

............ and then down to the hundred year old garden filled with old rhododendrons and trees and winding paths and steps.

Even the wilder parts are like watercolours

Climbing up from the Old Garden

Finally, after exploring most of the trails and views, we made our way back up the slopes to the restaurant, and there on the deck was the 'birthday girl' with her husband and son!

Needless to say, we all sat and ate and drank ourselves silly for much of the afternoon. The food, service and surroundings were perfect. I had Red Snapper with Basmati Rice, lentil dahl, and spinach. Desert was a Bakewell Tart, with a biscuit base, strawberry jam, apple and buttercake, then an almond marzipan on top.

I even bought two more unusual potted Gazanias for my collection!

We all planned to go via Sassafras to visit the famous Tea Shop, where anything to do with tea is on display for sale, but time was short, and we had to rush back for my physiotherapy appointment in Warragul, which we just made.

Probably not the perfect way to end a perfect day, but I have rekindled it by working my way through all my glorious photos.

When each season arrives, we have made a pact to go back for another look.

..... and that wasn't all.

We were also treated
by lovely friends to the Bangarra Dance Theatre performance at the local Arts Centre on Tuesday night. Dinner at the restaurant came first, then some spectacular dancing by the indigenous troupe made for a memorable night. The first piece was mind blowing, with throbbing music, and slow motion dancing. I could have watched it for hours. In the second half, a performance displaying an ancient aboriginal past time of telling stories with hands and string designs. The dancers were like spiders on webs, interlinking their strings to make shapes. Stunning stuff!

Sunday will bring a family barbecue, so my birthday has been drawn out for a long time, and filled with marvellous treats. I never thought turning 57 would be such fun!

Wisdom doesn't necessarily come with age. Sometimes age just shows up all by itself.
... Tom Wilson

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