I'd said I would go to the footy (that strange Aussie rules games) with The Spouse when elder son wasn't available. But it was a bright sunny day and I was hoping I would get a reprieve. Yay, I did!!
We didn't know where we were heading when we set off for a Sunday drive. Occasionally The Spouse said he'd probably taken a wrong turn, but as he didn't know where he was going anyway, I wondered aloud how he knew if he'd missed a turn. Some sort of Irish logic in there. What I did know was that if we'd been following a map we'd have definitely been off course. Women can't read maps. Neither can men...
We meandered through the suburbs and then the housing thinned out and we were in the country. We recognised some of the promised destinations on the signposts as places we'd visited before although we'd previously approached them from a different direction.
It was good meandering. The spring blossoms were all bursting out, daffodils and jonquils were poking up in gardens and paddocks - and in roadside stalls. The wattle was blooming profusely, great pockets of it among the other trees, the true colours of Australia.
He started talking afternoon tea, which sounded like a good idea. He pulled in near one place but it didn't look particularly inviting. I said their coffee would probably also be wishy washy so he did a U-turn.
Down the road we spied The Patchwork Tea House. Now what does that name conjure up? Quilts? Old ladies? Tea?
We had to investigate. There were signs thanking us for wiping our feet before entry. So, wouldn't you know it, we did the scrape scrape thing on the door mat. Maybe they had plush white ankle-deep carpet? Or maybe the regular visitors were the local rural folk we'd spied selling "horse manuar" (sic).
But picture this - a nice little shop selling all the necessary trappings for making quilts. Then imagine a cafe in this setting - tables of quilts, fabric squares for quilting, quilted products, pattern kits, restaurant tables, menus, a central bar. What a great ambience. The Spouse was probably outnumbered 15 to 1 by female patrons. And while I come from good tailoring stock, my eyesight for closeup work isn't what it was, so I don't do much sewing these days, but I can admire a good quilt when I see one.
I noticed an old hand-driven Singer sewing machine like the one my Nana used to have - the one I managed to pierce my tender 5-year-old finger with more than 50 years ago. Even older than Mum's treadle model.
Anyway, this was a place of real atmosphere, a good spot to get a caffeine injection. After a week of vegetables and lean meat, I picked the deep, dark chocolate cake and he chose a citrusy cake with yoghurt. The coffee was excellent. It was a good choice for a break.
This is obviously a popular spot for local and interstate quilters. They were all having fun picking out packs of patches, pin cushions and other quilting provisions. There was a certain missionary zeal about them - like me when I get into a cookbook shop or a kitchenware department. Takes one to know one...
Anway, it's worth visiting for the coffee and cake and the atmosphere. There's also a more extensive menu for lunchtime grazers. And it's licensed.
Footnote: In February 2007 I had a lovely note from Marilyn Barker who runs the establishment. "I am so glad you had a nice time with us and Gary was delighted to see you enjoyed the coffee. We started the business 4 years ago with no experience at all. 'Just a little business to keep me from getting bored during retirement.' It is now a flourishing business and involves me 7 days a week!!!!!! We hope you will come our way again and next time try Gary’s Devonshire Tea. He makes the best scones, fresh every morning and also homemade raspberry or blackberry jam." As it happens. I paid another visit there a month earlier with my mother who was visiting from New Zealand. The cafe had just been repainted and was looking particularly trim. Mum really enjoyed the Devonshire tea - and she is no mean scone maker herself. Mum was very impressed, Gary!
The Patchwork Tea House