Finding the right holiday accommodation for you

Finding the Right Holiday Accommodation for You ( Or Always Brush Your Teeth After Eating Wasabi)  So let me ask you a personal question.  Do you like wasabi?  No, seriously, tell me the truth – I can take it.  I won’t judge you as a wasabi wuss if you don’t.  Personally, I can’t stand it.  One sniff from 50 paces and I feel like someone has poured Draino up my nose, while the idea of voluntarily ingesting it activates my involuntary gag reflex.  I think the strength of my reaction may be linked to my first wasabi experience.  I was having dinner at a local food hall, teriyaki chicken and salad.  About half way through the salad I thought ‘Gee, look at that!  They’ve given me a little bit of avocado – yum’.  Being somewhat partial to avos, I scoffed it down.  Need I say more?  I haven’t been able to look a blob of wasabi in the eye since.  My girlfriend, on the other hand, absolutely loves it. For her teriyaki anything wouldn’t be complete without a blast of nasal rheeming green gloop.  So that’s how it is.  She loves it.  I hate it.  A mixed marriage, if you will.  Apart from a strict half hour break between eating at the food hall and smooching, we get along famously.  As I said, it’s quite a personal question.  You might love it or hate it.  There’s no telling.  Can we move to a more pertinent example?  Read the following two passages: Him -What an awesome place. Very resourceful to convert an old carriage into what it is now. We spent two remarkable nights here. The shower is fantastic. Tim’s work on the bed and shower are noteworthy. Really special place! Keep up the excellent work. It was most entertaining to read your folder on what you have done to the place – kept me interested until the last page. Good luck and we shall be sure to stop here again on our travels. Her – We loved our stay in your gorgeous carriage, serenaded by frogs, lullabied by water features, luxuriated by the pebbles in the outdoor shower. The Painted Fish is truly divine. Thank you for sharing your vision. We stayed in the Carriage. I cannot comment on the other 2 accommodation styles the Painted Fish offers. The (Railway) Carriage is actually a Cattle Cart with sliding doors that a very fit person would have trouble opening and closing – a health and safety risk. The furniture was so old I wouldn’t even offer it to a charity. The owners are eco-friendly but so are many other people. They have mis-represented the Carriage on their web site to be something that it isn’t. It was simply disgusting. Now believe it or not these two marvelously expressive passages are two different responses to almost exactly the same experience ie a couple of days staying at the accommodation place run by partner, Shani (the wasabi lover) and myself. Our accommodation is called the Painted Fish.  It’s eclectic, quirky and run with as much of a sustainability bent as we can manage.  It was even recently described by Josh Byrne as one of the most innovative sustainable retrofits in Western Australia. I came up with the wasabi analogy because I’ve been fishing around for some way of understanding how our humble holiday offering can elicit such powerfully different responses.  When you run any business, particularly one which reflects you personality and beliefs, then I think any honest and constructive feed back should be treasured.  How else are you going to know how to improve your product or know whether what you are offering has a place in the market? If you’ll forgive me another digression. . . . Remember way back when (and it’s been a long time since I watched commercials on TV!) there was an advertisement for toothpaste that started with a blonde beautiful couple paddling romantically along a river.   He leans towards her and whispers something gently in her ear.  She jumps out of the canoe, slamming down the paddle and storms off screaming  ‘Next time you can paddle your own canoe!  He says I’ve got bad breath!’  Now as a business owner I’d love to reshoot that ad.  When he leans forward and whispers sweetly in her ear she turns around and hugs him saying something like Oh, honey, I’m so sorry.  I didn’t realise.  Thanks for having the courage to tell me.  When I get home I can do something about it.  I know you love me and you’re giving me honest feedback to save me embarrassing myself in public.’  (I mean, who knows she might just have been eating some wasabi). And after a passionate embrace they paddle off into the setting sun. As I said honest and constructive feedback is rare and precious.  But what do you do with feedback that contradicts the very things you hold dear?  (I’m sorry, Mr Schwarzenegger, but your biceps are just too big OR Yes, Mr Flannery, I can see you are passionate about climate change but it hardly makes cheery reading now does it?  Have you thought about trying romantic comedy?)  Again, seeking a more pertinent example, let’s go back to The Painted Fish (if you are brave enough after reading the quoted Trip Advisor review!).  It’s actually really quite upsetting to Shani and myself to get really negative responses.  We put a lot of time and effort into our business and one of our biggest rewards is looking at the lovely comments, poetry and pictures that people leave in our guest book. The vast majority of the feedback we get is really fantastic (see website for examples if you are currently underemployed or on holidays and don’t have a good novel). When we excitedly flip the guest book open and get one of the two or three “hate mail” entries we have had in the last four years, it really is like a mouthful of wasabi.  It is

The Painted Fish A Guest Review – A Delight for all the senses!

(We got this email from a guest who has come to stay with us a few times. I thought I would share it) My husband and I have stayed at the Painted Fish many times before, in all of the accommodation options: the Carriage, the Cottage and the Studio.  I can’t decide which one I prefer. I like the Carriage for the “cute” factor and its outdoor shower; the Cottage for its unique blend of old world charm and modern eco-designs; and the Studio for its funky red couches and general air of style.  Wherever I do stay, there are a few things that always happen: I feel like I’ve reconnected with old friends; I come away feeling inspired to do more with my own garden, my own community; It never feels long enough; I feel like I’ve nourished my soul and all of my senses. Upon our arrival at the Painted Fish, the first thing that usually strikes me is the earthy fragrances of wooden floorboards, fresh linen and herbs in the garden.  It calms me instantly. I never cease to be amazed at the craftsmanship in the buildings – Tim’s clever iron work can be seen all around the place – on the beds, shower heads, gates and stairwells – and his fantastic paintings decorate the walls, along with a variety of other artists’ works.  For me, staying at the Painted Fish is about staying put and allowing myself the time to sit in the sun with a newspaper and a cup of tea (Tim and Shani have a great collection of teapots and old-fashioned cups and saucers – tea always tastes better out of a proper cup!), or listening to some relaxing music while dozing on the couch.    The atmosphere is perfect for this.  In the main courtyard, the large Japanese Pepper tree catches the breeze and the frog pond makes for a serene addition to the garden, which also provides fresh herbs and some veggies, should I have the inclination to cook (if not, there are many restaurants and cafes an easy stroll away).  If I’m feeling energetic I will walk down to South Beach (which is only five minutes away) or catch the free bus into Fremantle.  Tim and Shani also have bikes that you can use to get around – if you’re really keen, which I rarely am! I always get a great night’s sleep, helped along by the plush pillows and comfy beds, and when I wake up and see the sun twinkling through the leaves on the Japanese Pepper tree, I’m ready to do it all over again.

A Painted Fish Wedding

Date:                     A Sunday afternoon in May 2009 Place:                    A couch in a house in the Kimberley Desert She said:              Will you marry me? He said:                Yes. She said:              Where? He said:                The Painted Fish? She said:              Yeah! Six months later, after a move to East Timor and some long-distance planning with Tim & Shani…  Date:                     28 November 2009 (A perfect weather day in Fremantle) Place:                    The Painted Fish.  Enter:    The Pizza Oven.                 A white marquee.                 A little stage between the two frog ponds.                 Some paper lanterns.                 A small choir, a bouzouki and a ukulele.                 A polaroid camera.                 Copious amounts of olives and cheese.                 70-odd beautiful people.                 A bride.                 A groom.                … And a whole lot of warm, fuzzy love. Thank you, Tim and Shani for everything:   for making our day run so smoothly, for making pizzas, for MCing, for inspiring us all to make gardens and get chooks and cargo bikes and pizza ovens and build communities.   Love from Wade & Gillian x

From one of our overseas guests . . .

Veronique and Carel are a couple of our European visitors who have stayed at the Painted Fish twice – and we have loved having them! We thought other visitors might enjoy their reflections on staying with us – The first time we stayed in the Painted Fish was almost exactly two years ago. We’d planned our entire five-week trip except for the last week in Perth. We’d planned on taking a shuttle to Cottesloe, which people had recommended to us, and we’d certainly find something nice there. Er, no, unless you’re into way too perfect people carefully displaying their way too perfect bodies, shops that are all called ’boutiques’ and unimaginative, overpriced holiday apartments. We lugged our backpacks to the station and decided to head for Fremantle. The Lonely Planet description sounded promising, and while working out the ticket machine, we started calling the most extaordinary accommodation description. As it turned out, the description was fairly conservative. We got through to Shani, who told us to ‘just come over, and we’ll sort something out’. The instructions on which CAT to take were flawless and the moment we got off, we met Shani on her wonderful bike – the one on which you have to lie down.  (I wonder what happened to that, by the way – didn’t see it last time we were around!) We spent six nights at the Painted Fish, moving back and from the carriage and the studio and had a great time with the frog choir, the outside shower and, on one of the last nights, an impressive thunderstorm above sea that we watched from the top of the studio. I not sure if these natural fireworks were included in the package though. This time, two years after our first visit, we decided to plan our stay at the Fish carefully. Actually, it was the first stay we planned. We’d be in the carriage for four nights before moving on to South Australia. Needless to say, our careful planning was upset in the second week of our holiday by the one unplannable element – the weather. The chilly (ok, 18 degrees) temperature of WA’s south coast made us flee back to the Peeth region, and once more we found ourselves calling the Fish at the last notice. And once again, we weren’t disappointed. Arriving back in Freo felt pretty much like coming home, taking in all the landmarks from our previous visit and spotting differences. Most of all, we admired the watertank which we’d helped decorate on our first visit (we still didn’t get round to grouting it, so that’ll have to wait till next time) and which had turned out to be beautiful. For some reason, it’s things like this you remember. Similarly, I’ll remember from this visit the Living Smarties (or what was it called) workshop on preserving. Not that I’m that hot on making jam. I made a fairly nice fig jam last summer from the figs of a friend’s tree, and we’re forever deepfreezing soups and curries since we never seem to remember we’re just with the two of us, but that’s about as far as it goes. Still, the workshop is something I’ll remember, from working out where on eart the local primary school was and nearly being decapitated by the Living Smarties banner to the friendly welcome by the ‘veteran’ Smarties, the info sharing and the custard with vanilla-and-honey pears afterwards. I guess that’s what we most like about our stays; that you’re not just passively staying at one spot, but that you really get to meet people, get involved, exchange ideas and find out how certain ideas have already spread around the globe. That said, one of the cottage’s sustainable mysteries for me will be how on earth they’ve managed to make environmentally friendly dishwashing liquid that’s fluorescent green. (Go check it out for yourself if you don’t believe me.) But maybe that was just the result of another Smarties workshop. Needless to say we’ll be back – just give us another year or two! (and we can’t wait Veronique – Shani and Tim) Veronique Crolla