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