After some cool, unseasonal weather and some much needed rain we see the sun re-appearing overhead. There’s a tinge of green to be seen throughout the rolling hills of South Gippsland. Even the dams look a little replenished.
While we have been away on a short break our little village has been active. A new Italian cafe restaurant is close to completion and looking fantastic.
A new reception venue is open and offering stunning meals and vistas over the hills near Loch.
Another restaurant and shop complex which has been closed for some time has just been sold so it will be exciting to see what the new owners are doing there.
This all adds to the exciting mix of shops, eateries, wineries and brewery that visitors currently enjoy.
The Old Hospital has also enjoyed this transformation and new energy engulfing the village. Our guests might be staying with us to concentrate on their craft work or business retreat but are also enjoying a quick stroll down to the village for a great coffee and cake or a local wine or whisky. They also enjoy visiting the quaint little gift shops, gallery and antique shop as a divergence from their activities.
We have just enjoyed hosting our very talented group of ladies who stamped and created their way through the weekend.
Jessie, our wonderful “Stampin’ Up” demonstrator, had the ladies creating the most beautiful cards, calendars and pictures, including a beautiful 3D dragonfly framed work of art.
Her trusty helper Sarah also created some beautiful paper crafts.
We really enjoy seeing how all our craft groups utilise the workroom so differently, changing the layout to best suit their group’s needs.
The ladies produced gorgeous works of art by day, and Sarah, a local to Loch, showed them some great places to eat and drink – to recharge their batteries so they could stamp and create away for a few more hours.
Most of the group came across on the ferry from Geelong, but top kudos go to Trudy, Jill and Delores who flew down from Sydney for the Stamp Camp – a mammoth effort!
We were touched by the beautiful desk calendar they made for us, as well as a lovely card signed by everyone. The card has gone straight to the “pool room”, which is actually our notice board in the hallway, adorned with cards from previous guests. The desk calendar has pride of place in our office. Thank you Sarah for making the calendar on behalf of the ladies.
As I write this blog, I have just received an email from Jessie, wanting to return to us with her crafty ladies – we look forward to their return visit in September this year.
The brollies go up on what is affectionately known as The Loch Deck Monster here at The Old Hospital.
We welcome our first group for 2019, a group of bowlers who have travelled all the way from Mount Beauty in North East Victoria and tomorrow challenge the Loch Bowling Club on what looks to be a scorcher.
At least it is just a short stroll out the back gate to the bowling club from our accommodation and they can seek respite in our lovely cool air conditioning when the mercury rises.
The greens are looking in top condition thanks to the hard working, diligent locals and should set the scene for an exciting four day tournament.
Although we should be supporting our guests the heart is going for the home team.
We have just said goodbye to our last group for 2018, as we take a break over the “silly season”.
We have been thrilled with the support we have received from all of our groups that have enjoyed their stay with us this year. Many have re-booked to revisit us again in 2019 – some groups are even returning to us twice!
Never did we anticipate such support from such wonderful people and we thank each and every guest for staying with us here at The Old Hospital.
When we opened our doors for business in December 2017, we had hoped to gather about 2 or 3 bookings a month to support our “semi- retirement” phase we thought we were in. Little did we expect that we would have bookings right through the chilly Gippsland winter months (we did have visions of holidaying in our retro caravan up north for 3 months…).
November was our busiest month, with 8 bookings, both mid week and weekends. At times, we had a turn around time of 36 hours, which doesn’t sound too bad, but considering just the two of us had to do the cleaning, bed stripping and making and then the return 1.5hr “linen run” to Wonthaggi and back, we only surfaced to breathe and eat at times.
Although we are now closed for a few weeks, the work here does not stop. Our maintenance list consists of continuing to paint the outside of the house, installing a more energy efficient gas boiler for our central heating system and the perpetual task of gardening – a job that constantly beckons our attention. Naturally, we can’t do these things when we have guests in residence, but we have been able to install our lovely new charcoal grey shade awnings in the large lounge area, which not only provide much needed sun protection for both guests and furniture, but also allow our guests to look through them to enjoy the views of the beautiful hills that surround us.
Then there is some much needed family time for us to enjoy over the Christmas and new year period.
When we re-open mid January, we will pick up an even faster pace, as every weekend until the end of August (and several mid week bookings) will see guests enjoying themselves here at The Old Hospital.
So our little retro caravan will go into the shed next winter – although we may sneak a few days away during some quieter weeks to our favourite secret camping spot…
The recent rain means that the Loch Village gardens will look their best this Sunday November 11th, for the Loch Village Open Garden display. After the weeds have been removed, the selected gardens will open their gates for visitors to admire.
There will be several different types of gardens on display around Loch from 12pm – 4pm. Simply purchase a map from Carrington’s Antiques, Victoria St Gallery or Caroline Askew Art Gallery on the day and follow the “crumbs” to your chosen garden trail. The cost of the map is $5 which includes entry to all of the gardens that will be opening.
This year we have tied the theme in with Remembrance Day.
Loch will host a short memorial service to remember fallen soldiers at around 10.45am at the Cenotaph, outside the old post office on the corner of Smith St & Victoria Rd. Loch Primary School children will be planting knitted poppies – one for each soldier from the Loch and surrounding area, who sacrificed their lives for us to live in peace.
Extra poppies will be available for purchase to either plant or keep as a memento.
At midday, selected garden gates will be thrown open for visitors to admire beyond. A couple of gardens will require a car to reach them, but are well worth the extra effort.
The ladies of the Loch Garden Club have spent many months creating hand made poppies, which have been made into brooches – now on sale around the Village.
Several of the ladies had never picked up a crochet hook, so many winter evenings were spent together at The Old Hospital, wine in hand, teaching and learning new poppy creation skills.
Another night was spent here sewing all the pins onto the 195 poppies we made into brooches and sewing stems onto the beautiful knitted poppies to be planted. The garden club gents made sure the ladies were well fed while they sewed. It was mammoth effort by our little fledgeling club and thank you to everyone for their efforts.
Last Thursday the poppies were placed for sale on mannequins in town – “Poppy” stands in Victoria Street Gallery and in Carrington’s Antiques. We were thrilled to see our creations displayed so beautifully.
Please help to us support fallen soldiers families and drop into these shops to purchase a poppy for $2 when visiting Loch this week. We would love to see visitors enjoying Loch’s gardens on Sunday.
The entire proceeds from the purchase of handmade poppies and garden maps are being donated to Legacy.
For more information visit www.lochvillage.com
Last weekend, in between showers of rain, saw “The Blessing Of The Bikes” on Phillip Island.
The bikes were out, despite the soggy conditions earlier in the day, to converge on the main street of Cowes. The sight was like a bike show in itself – all makes and models to be seen and admired.
It was the pre-pilgrimage to Phillip Island in the lead up to the big day this Sunday – The Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix.
This weekend we hope the weather will be kind and create safe roads to “The Island”, as it is affectionately known.
Early on Saturday morning on GP weekend, around 5,000 motorbikes line up along several blocks of the closed off South Gippsland Highway. Riders wait, drink coffee, chat and generally admire each others bikes. Even if you are not a motorbike enthusiast, you cannot help but be mesmerised by the sight of these shiny beasts lined up, all waiting for the one word – “Go”.
A few minutes before 9am the call comes from the motorbike god (the person on the loudspeaker standing up high in the cherry picker) – “Start your engines”. The sound of 5,000 motorbikes all starting up at once is exhilarating for those standing by watching, as well as the riders and pillion passengers. Having been a pillion on the back several times for this event, it is even more exciting.
At 9am they are off and revving. The cars have no hope of travelling that stretch of road from Cranbourne to Cowes for the next 45 minutes, so they usually just pull over, watch and wave to us kings and queens of the road for that moment in time.
We prefer to ride towards the back of the pack for safety sake (less bikes squashed in) and to enjoy the view up the front – a sea of helmets and every shape and size of motorbike possible. I look out for the few side cars that dare to risk their life travelling inside those ancient contraptions!
All along the road there are mums, dads, kids and grandparents waving as we pass, our checked flag flying proudly behind us.
You do not have to be a tattooed, leather clad Mad Max type to ride a motorbike.
You just have to be someone who loves the wind in their hair (well, helmet), wants to enjoy the smells and the sights of the world from a 2 wheeled perspective and feel you are closer and more connected to nature and the earth.
So we look forward to hearing, then seeing the hundreds of motorbikes that will pass through Loch and we wish them all a picturesque and safe ride to the Grand Prix this weekend.
We wish we could join you this year…….
It’s a beautiful spring morning in our pretty little village of Loch in South Gippsland. As the morning sun reflects off the dew from the previous chilly night on our deck at The Old Hospital, you can hear the kookaburras and magpies stir to life.
Our visiting guests from the weekend – a group of lovely craft ladies that had returned to us – were very creative and produced some beautiful fabric purses and felting work amongst other things. One lady was enjoying her very first craft weekend away with a group and said she had thoroughly enjoyed herself and The Old Hospital “had absolutely everything she needed for her weekend”.
Now that they have left for their respective homes it is down to business – cleaning, vacuuming, stripping and making beds.
As well as our work at The Old Hospital, there is also the community work to get involved in. Sunday morning witnessed a group of dedicated volunteers assemble on the outskirts of Loch to clean out and prepare ground for a tree plating to beautify one of the entrances into our village.
To the sound of tractors and chainsaws, gnarly willows were cleared and pretty soon some fresh plantings will appear. We are very fortunate to have an active and dedicated community.
The village also has recently formed a Social Gardener’s Group. While the focus is primarily social, they organised a Trivia Night to raise funds to plant a new garden at the Loch Community Hall. The group had enormous support from the local community and the garden is now growing. Their next event is the Loch Village Open Garden Day on November 11th, which will tie in with Remembrance Day, and the gardens will open after a short ceremony at the Cenotaph at 11am. The group have crocheted, knitted and sewn poppies to decorate the village and to sell in the lead up to the day, with proceeds going to Legacy. Around eight gardens will be on display and maps will be available to purchase for $5, which will cover entry to all gardens. There will also be some small plants for sale and maybe even a homemade cake or two.
Dig under the surface of our village and you will also find the very active Loch Country Women’s Association, about to host it’s Peruvian day for the Australian CWA’s 90th birthday, with food, crafts and even a guest speaker showcasing a recent motorcycle journey through Peru.
Funds go to helping local families and farmers who are doing it a little tougher than the rest of us.
The Masonic Lodge are another active community group, with a long history in the town. They are a great support base for men who need to share their stories.
The Lion’s club run the Loch Community Market and barbecue delicious sausages and hamburgers on the 2nd Sunday of the month.
These are just a few groups that come to mind, that make up a wonderful community of people who are always there to support each other in times of need, or to just share a laugh and a chat with.
I have them to thank for the fact I can even contemplate writing a post for our website while holidaying in Vietnam, let alone being able to check bookings, reply to enquiries, mark off payments and send invoices.
It may start to sound like not much of a holiday but all of this only takes an hour of the day and at 36 degrees with high humidity here in Hoi An, Vietnam, retiring to the air-conditioned room for a short break during the heat of the day is quite okay.
Things are as easy here as hooking into WiFi wherever we go – airports, our hotel, cafes, bars and even the most basic of street food restaurants and mini marts. Asia is so tech savvy, although connectivity can sometimes require the patience of a Buddhist monk.
Over the many years of our travels through Southeast Asia, we have stayed in some pretty remote areas. Most houses in these villages are very basic little huts, where three or four generations eat, sleep and socialise together in the same room. But there on the roof is a massive satellite dish, inside is a big flat screen TV, the whole family are on the internet (even grandma), and everybody has a mobile phone.
Almost 10 years ago we spent a couple of nights out in the middle of Halong Bay on a “junk” boat with two teenage daughters. Our eldest was happily texting her boyfriend from way out yonder on the water – thank goodness she had connection or we may have had to live with the consequences if she could not reach him.
Another time we were on a catamaran in rough seas on the Lombok Straight and as the waves washed over the bow and inside the boat, the said daughter was texting the said boyfriend again, telling him she was drowning – to be fair to her she probably panicked a bit when they played the theme from Titanic over the loudspeaker!
We have been lucky enough to escape the winter for a couple of weeks and leave the running of The Old Hospital with good friends. It has been an interesting mix of emotions leaving the guest house in the hands of someone else – (a bit like handing your baby to a babysitter for the first time), with the added thought they may just do a better job than us!
As we arrived at the airport (and checked our e-mails, Instagram, Facebook pages and What’s App’d the kids), we put our concerns behind us and were suddenly excited to be going on holidays. We knew that in the unlikely event our trusty relieving managers encountered a problem, we were only a mobile call, text, email or What’s App or Skype message away!
Thanks be to Tim and Steve.
Preparations are well underway for an evening with Melba Opera Trust next weekend in Loch. Saturday 18th at the Loch town hall is building to be a gala evening. The village is frocking up for the black tie evening and with supper provided and drinks at bar prices no one will go wanting.
Dame Nellie Melba GBE (1861 – 1931) was Australia’s first world famous opera singer and one of the greatest celebrities of her day. Born in Richmond, Melbourne she moved to Paris and went on to enjoy an enormously successful career as a prima donna in Australia, England, Europe and the United States during the 20th century.
When she died, Melba bequeathed a generous amount of money dedicated to the development of young opera singers “so that another Melba may arise”. This unique and direct legacy from Melba is strengthened by the continued patronage of her late granddaughter Pamela, Lady Vestey which continues today through Melba’s great-great granddaughter, The Hon. Saffron Foster.
Melba’s gift established the Dame Nellie Melba Scholarship, which still exists today with Melba Opera Trust.
Tickets are still available at trybooking.com/399746 so if you feel like a fun, formal evening out, we’ll see you at the opera.