Baby girl says the darndest things #2

She is role-playing. In particular Frozen. Specifically, she is Elsa, and Hubbie has to play the role of Hans.

Baby girl tells him that Hans has to ask Elsa to marry him (no where does this happen in the movie, but you know, imagination).

Hubbie: “Please, Queen Elsa, will you marry me?”

Baby girl: “No!”

Hubbie: “Please Elsa, but I love you.”

Baby girl: “Hans, I don’t like to marry you… You’re shit.”

Oh how I LOL’d! If everyone just spoke their minds like this, Disney movies would be fair simpler, and A LOT different…

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The Root of all things

dark roots

CATE KENNEDY – Dark Roots

“The butcher becomes my friend. All day he bashes up the carcasses of dead things, and I’ve never seen the smile off his face. Now there’s a puzzle for you.”

Not only is that my little homage to my own smiley butchering Hubbie, but it beautifully represents the regular juxtaposition the following book presents… that beneath the common every day, lies something unknown, deeper, darker…

Dark Roots.

I came across Cate Kennedy and her work in a round-a-bout way. The year was 2013, and I was about 6 months pregnant.

It was also Hubbie and mine’s wedding anniversary, and on top of that I was going to a writing workshop up in the Dandenongs, hosted by none other than the above, yours truly.

I had been writing my young adult novel for a while, and when I heard about the workshop, was more than intrigued. More so because it was in a location we had been to the same time last year, and it was the foundation of this picturesque setting, that I decided to take a day off work, and take myself out of my comfort zone, and to a place, both figuratively and literally speaking, where I would be alone, vulnerable and at the mercy of possible harsh elements.

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Not just the bush, but the critics.

The day was eye-opening in many ways. I learnt much, discovered not to compromise my style, whether in life or in writing, and found that as much as some people there were truly lovely and supportive, others eyed me off judgmentally and with deep critique.

It’s to be expected when there are many of the same field in the one room, and abundance isn’t the universal language of all.

At the end of the day, I purchased a book from Cate, as I had never even come across her name or style. Dark Roots it said, and she wished me well in the inside cover.

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And finally, I started reading it over a year later, once baby girl was about 6 months old.

Let me start by saying that reading darkly-themed stories isn’t probably the best idea when you have a newborn.

Not to say the themes were horror and kept me up at night, when I already had a little monster doing that for me – no, not at all. Cate’s short stories embody a sense of unease about the world, about life, where people are placed in unfair situations, and in many of these they stay there. There’s a deeper meaning, a greater picture, a portrait to paint of the human condition. And it ain’t all fair and pretty.

Even when the endings are happy, and there are only few, they are so only by being bittersweet, where the happiness is tinged with just enough sadness to make you go, “oh, damn.”

Three things became apparent to me as I made my way through the stories. The first was how bleak the stories at the beginning of the book seemed, and how mid-way through they seemed to lift just that little bit to keep me going.

The second was the double-meaning of the story titles. Habit became an early favourite of mine, and very cleverly penned, both about drug use and a Nun. Resize becomes not only about resizing your wedding rings, but resizing your entire relationship. And The Light of Coincidence was another enjoyable one, talking about a favourite topic of mine, but one that showed the incredulity of life and how sometimes, things can work out in the most remarkable of ways. A game I started to play at the beginning of each story was to try and determine why the story name was as it was, only to find out it in fact had two meanings, almost every time.

However my third observation and confirmation, came early on in the realisation that I was not cut out for short stories, even more so, ones that had ‘dark roots.’ I prefer to fall in love with a set of characters and a different world over a period of time, where I dedicate myself to their path, rather than the quick chop and change, 15 or so pages dedicated to each story in this book. Having said that, Kennedy is one who performs this niche art form like the artist she is, capturing your attention, your heart and your mind, making you feel for a character who may be insane, pathetic, or a murderer, and make you root for them the whole way. She has an innate ability to pull at your heart strings by showing the rawness of life, and it’s because she does this so damn well, that I just can’t fathom the sadness of it all.

Her ability to represent life in its true form, either through dialogue or description is on key. She also brings an acute awareness to every day tasks, things that you wouldn’t normally think about, but reading her words you think ‘I get it.’ For example, in the first story the main character is climbing out of bed:

“This is how you slide from a bed: move your foot out and over the edge, find the floor, slide sideways supporting yourself on the bedside table, your fingers touching the fake antique lamp your parents gave you a pair of for a wedding present. Haul out from under the doona…”

And suddenly, I was the one climbing out of bed. Not only does she paint the picture as if she were watching you try to stealthily get out of bed undetected, but the addition of those physical descriptors, not just the antique lamp, but FAKE antique lamp from your parents no less, well here lies another back story…

Another story has a man fishing, and the visual imagery is so beautifully striking in its sadness:

“The trout lay there drowning in the air, and I could see the miraculous gills opening and closing, its eyes moving as it gulped the wrong element, two old scars on its big mottled back, and then everything slowed down and I reached my fingers, fumbling with agonised realisation, into the trout’s mouth to get that hook out, and I snatched the fish up in both hands and threw it into the water.”

And finally, when I read the following:

“Three years ago I tried some street coke and the hit was just enough, through the glucodin and speed percentage that seared into my nasal cavities, to make me make a vow to myself. I decided that if I ever had the chance, I would try the real thing: the purest, whitest, Colombian cocaine available to the casual buyer.”

I had to question, how did she know this so accurately?

However I had to remind myself of the funny fact I had once read, that writers become a neuro-blah expert on whatever they have set out to research, often overnight! It is just the life of a writer, to be as real as you can be about a subject matter… whether from living it, or studying it like hell.

In the story Habit, I found myself rooting for the protagonist to get through customs with their drugs, even before I knew they were dying, and needed the drugs! How does she do that? And when all became even clearer at the end, without giving too much away, suddenly all the Godly mentions and phrases had a double meaning that shone with heavenly clarity 🙂 I absolutely loved it, and it was probably the first ‘kinda’ happy ending that hit me, right there.

But many times, there was no ending. The story was just a window into another person’s world, their often difficult, uncertain life. There was the woman in Soundtrack, who suddenly had a child many years after having her first daughter, and how the ambulance couldn’t get there in time, so her teenage daughter helped deliver her child. And then life kept on going, to the soundtrack of life in the background. Then there was the story The Correct Names of Things, where Ellen worked in a Chinese shop in the 80s paying her way through uni. Another piece on how life is lived, and how you learn and attach names to things, where I had absolutely no idea where the story was going – it seemed, nowhere in particular, since it appeared to be more an explorative piece.

In Kill or Cure, the description of farm life was so meticulous, that I recalled Kennedy mentioning her own life on the farm many times, and suddenly it all made sense. The story of a woman moving to a farm with her farm husband, trying to adjust to the land, the life, and be accepted by him, the town, and his best friend, the dog… it was all so melancholy and lonely, I also had to wonder again, how much of it was fiction. Even without a proper ending here, you couldn’t not feel.

But for many of these stories, it didn’t appear to matter whether they had a purpose or ‘real’ ending, or not. They served their purpose by just providing a snapshot into another’s life, and I realised without my usual necessary closure need, that I kind of enjoyed it. The journey, and not the destination.

It was common to feel achy, sad and despondent when going through the book, like in the short story Angel, where the assault of a young child is hinted at and made definite by the direct retribution that happens after, and also Cold Snap, where a young boy is ridiculed and made to feel inferior. Here the boy is laughed at, with others saying in his earshot “it looks like the light’s on but there’s no one home,” so when those same few get what they deserve, you smile menacingly, while still feeling a pang of longing for a boy who doesn’t exist, and yet somehow, you know somewhere, he does.

Kennedy’s pace is fast, as suddenly you are here, then you are there, but it all happens in such continuous fluid motion that you didn’t even know you moved until you realised the sun was on your face as opposed to the bed you were just sleeping in. I felt like I could learn a thing or two from her genius. But I guess this is the way that short stories have to be, and when they are like this, they work brilliantly.

Her language is telling and cheeky too… like in the story Resizing, ‘lubricate’ is used in the context of getting a car started again, and yet it means so much more in a steamy car of a formerly fighting couple on the verge of reuniting. In The Testosterone Club, a house wife concocts some comedic revenge on her untrusting husband and his friends in the form of slowly curing pickles, which says so much about manhood and the ‘flaccid’ nature that it can fall into. Here, the routine and mediocrity of a boring housewife existence was captured well, recorded as so monotonous and regular, and yet so unexpected in its satisfying final outcome.

But, I found as I read, and continued to look back on my notes for Dark Roots, that there was Hope. Both in the form of me finding a short story that I really liked, and then the realisation that I might too, want to dabble in and try my own hand at short stories. I found my inspiration brewing in her story The Light of Coincidence. Not only did my home town and its landmarks feature prominently, but so did an area of speculation and great interest to me: Coincidence, fate, and how they play together. From the middle:

“Let me tell you a story, a connoisseur story of coincidence. There I was trundling down the ‘down’ escalator at Flinders Street Station, jammed into crowds of people, when who should I see but an old girlfriend I hadn’t seen in ten years going up the escalator across the way. She was in blue. Oblivious to my calling and waving, she disappeared up the moving stairwell. I was seized with an overwhelming urge to say hello, and at the bottom I turned and raced back up her escalator and was deposited in the whirlpool of commuters on the ground floor. No sign of her. I raced outside and saw her blue jumper, sixty or so metres up Swanston Street, so I barrelled across the road and caught up. Tender greetings followed.

‘What a coincidence,’ I said. ‘I just looked up at the right time to see you on the escalator in the station.’ A puzzled frown crossed her face.

‘I wasn’t in the station,’ she said.”

Chills, or what? The goosebumps I got from reading that grabbed my attention, and kept it more firmly for a good while after. Because when a writer develops in you some kind of emotion, whether that be sadness, grief, or more happily, belief and Hope, that is when one tends to turn up more often, and listen.

And after reading this book, I am listening.

There is Hope (and coincidence) for me just yet.

Kennedy’s short story title accurately portrays the content which you will find inside. Surface level will show you the every day, whereas when you go beyond this, and to the roots of the matter, you will find that in the character’s thoughts, lives, and ideas, some darkness lives. In doing this, she helps us teeter on the thread of human existence, where on one side it is sunny and well, and the other shows the motivations, fears and hopes that drive us, with the overwhelming blackness that can sometimes unify and occupy us all.

I see short stories in a different light now. Much lighter than the Dark Roots they came from, and I have Kennedy to thank for that. I am now looking forward to reading her other short story collection, ‘Like a House On Fire,’ waiting for me on my bookshelf.

I guess it takes time, but often things will work themselves out like that. Like the closing sentence in my favourite story, The Light of Coincidence:

“I slide it out and fit it into place, feeling the whole configuration resist, and move slightly out of skew. I move it back with the flat of my hand, feeling it shift. Strengthen. Interlock.”

Please let me know your thoughts on Dark Roots in the comments below, I would love to discuss with you 🙂

 

Baby girl says the darndest things

I am making this a permanent series of my blog, because well… she is only 4. Imagine the material that will continue to come out of her mouth for years to come.

Like today. We were at Bayside Shopping Centre, and I had just located the Robinson’s bookstore outside of one of their entrance doors.

She has a few Little Miss books from the Roger Hargreaves popular series, so when I came across a rotating bookshelf showcasing all of the Mr Men/Little Miss series, I said “oh look baby girl! Look how many!”

She stopped at one. “What’s this one?”

Mr-perfect

“That’s Mr Perfect.”

“Pfft” was her immediate raspberry response. I laughed out loud at the perfect comic timing.

“Yes honey, my thoughts exactly!”

 

An Enchanting Time

The crazy Christmas lead-up in early December saw me say “no, I want MORE mayhem!” as I headed over to my second bloggers meet-up at The Enchanted Adventure Garden.

Only ‘crazy’ was not what I felt as we wound up higher and higher up Arthurs Seat road, watching the Eagle chairlifts hover over us temporarily as they made their casual descent/ascent…

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and ‘crazy’ was not what I felt as we first passed Bowens Point

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And then Franklins Lookout

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Murrays Lookout

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and then finally, Chapmans Point

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It was serene, with a small dose of beautifully scary as I viewed the perilous drop from the cliff face. No, my memories of last travelling on that stunning Arthur’s Seat Rd hill, were from about 7 or so years ago before baby girl came along, when Hubbie and I, having not even considered the words ‘Sea change’ then, were heading to our beautifully intimate Arthurs Seat hill accommodation for the night, and as I observed that it was pitch black and almost scary how there were no lights around, he turned to me devilishly and gave me his best ‘Michael-Jackson-as-possessed-zombie-in-Thriller’ face look, to which I screamed and started to cry.

So no. These views were NOT scary compared to that strong memory.

And crazy was suddenly so far from mind, so removed from my being, that the Christmas rush was only a faint memory as we parked and observed the car park and surrounds…

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And I realised, we are not in Kansas anymore baby girl. But that’s what happens when you come to the Mornington Peninsula now, is it?

Us bloggers were greeted to a lovely morning tea and a brief introduction to all that the Adventure Ground is, and does.

Immaculate gardens, picnic area galore, mazes, Adrenalin-junkie fun, kids paradise, relaxing walks, and even a sweet-tooth’s dream! Why, is there anything Enchanted didn’t cover?

I was soon to find out. Off I went with baby girl with my map of the grounds, my critical eye out and ready for my review…

Statues – tick. √

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Finely trimmed hedges – tick. √

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Brightly coloured flowers – tick. √

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Ok, so this was all well and good for the adult eye, but I needed to keep my daughter happy, and looking at trees was something she had not grown to appreciate as yet.

We followed a path and soon found ourselves in the Turf Maze, a fantastic and relaxing premise based on a practice by Monks in the Middle Ages, used as a meditative tool as they would walk around and around in repetitive circles in silence, aided only by their feet and their thoughts. I got baby girl started on one end as I started taking photos of… the trees.

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I LOVED that tree. Just l♥ved. I developed some serious tree envy as I took several dozen photos of it, and baby girl skipped through a few maze lines, and then was suddenly at the exit of the maze.

Right-o. I don’t ‘quite’ see her meditating in that space, but at least it kept her somewhat busy.

I had promised her a playground (with absolutely no idea whether they had one or not – massive parenting risk), and so that is what we were looking for when we came across this sign.

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It seemed the only fun active activity we could do together, in lieu of getting my 4 year old to tree surf by my side, which I was not going to do solo (again, parenting-risk doing it ALONE). Zip-lining was out too.

W observed the tree surfers in the trees up ahead of us, blending in quite nicely I might add, and immediately decided I would come back there with my adventurous, scare the living daylights out of me Thriller-seeking Hubbie.

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Finding the tube slides was fairly easy, as it is actually hard to ignore five 100-metre long slides that steep down from the hill decline.

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There are tube slides for littlies, from 4 and up, so baby girl could have very well gone on it by herself, since the smaller weight actually makes them travel down slower… but no. I decided to take her with me on the adult ride…

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and then plummet down super fast while I thought “oh shit we’re going to flip.”

We didn’t. In fact we went up twice, and on our second trip down the tube turned backwards, so that I really was freaking then “we’re going to flip! We’re going to flip!”

WE DIDN’T. It was the best fun, but the fact of having to haul a huge tube up a steep hill, carrying a fairly heavy handbag, in heat, and while wearing inappropriately heeled shoes, well, it kind of influenced me to cap the tube slides at TWO.

Baby girl was left thoroughly captivated. And yet still, as we headed off down some other paths to explore, she had not forgotten about that damn playground I had promised.

She looked here and there

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She did the usual whine and moan and unsatisfied toddler routine. Damn me. Why had I gone and said something I had no clue about?

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(Baby girl going all 14 year-old hormonal on me)

I stopped to view some interesting sculpture art along my tree-lined walk.

Art and sculptures from Aboriginal, Australian and European artists collided and worked magically together in this most wondrous of gardens.

And then we got to another maze, the Blue Gum Gallery, and I followed a fast baby girl around it, as she laughed at how incompetently slow I was.

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This cheered her up somewhat, and since by this stage we were close to the café from where we had started our walk, it was soon time to go, and clearly I had come across no such playground from the depths of my imagination. I shut down another protest from her with an insane idea, but it worked.

“Do you want lollies?”

And just like that, a 4 year-old’s face lit up.

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We went inside, paid $5 for a cup, and filled it to the brim with all kinds of devilishly sickly sweet goodies. She ate them slowly in the car, stopping every so often to mumble “mmm, yummy…”

Parenting done right. 😉

The deets!

The Enchanted Adventure Garden

55 Purves Road Arthur’s Seat

General Park Entry for Adults: $30; Child/Seniors $20

this includes:

Mazes, Giant Garden Brainteasers, captivating Gardens to picnic at and view in all of their pristine natural glory;

Tube slides – of which there are 6 to choose from: 3 Big Twisters, 2 Straight Giants, and 1 Kids Only slide. Kids need to be 4 to ride on the Kids slide on their own, any smaller and they must ride with an adult.

Canopy Walk – a suspended path that brings you in amongst the trees, that runs through the park, ideal for small children, older people and people with prams.

a 3D indoor spooky maze – pop on your 3D glasses and watch things pop out at you! Ideal for teens and older kids.

Plus MANY more fun things to discover as you meander around.

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Both kids and adults alike can experience the Tree Surfing on offer. The little nippers course is for kids aged 4-12, though kids aged 4 and 5 need an adult to accompany them on the course.

The tree surfing has various degrees of difficulty for both amateur and professional, mild and reckless adult thrill-seekers alike! Includes bridges, zip lines, obstacles and tree platforms, prices for both Nippers and Grand Tree Surfing courses start from $50 for Adults, and $40 for Children/Seniors, with a 2 hour limit per activity.

But if you need your adrenalin rush and lack the time, need not fear! The Tree Zip Line may be just what you need, and those competitively charged, you can even Zip alongside a friend and see who gets to their destination first! Prices are $40 for Adults, $30 for Children/Seniors.

Active wear highly recommended for these ACTIVE activities, and closed-toes shoes a MUST!

I must reiterate again, despite baby girl’s temperamental attitude towards a lack of playground, there ARE kid-friendly activities and things to do, and they abound. However on that day there were several tree-top renovations happening up above, getting all geared up for the crazy holiday season, and so a couple of areas of the Gardens appeared incomplete. The above is an indicator of what is up on offer, but isn’t a complete list, as there is also a Children’s Maze, something we didn’t see on that day but I think would be perfect for a curious baby girl.

Tips:

Need I say again, closed-toed shoes?

Make your life easy and don’t wear heels.

More advice? Carry light. When I hauled that tube up the hill twice, in my heeled shoes carrying my heavy handbag, I developed lower back pain two nights later and immediately knew where it had come from.

For God’s sake don’t be like me, wear appropriate footwear, pack light, and carry the tube as unforcefully as you can. Or bring Hubbie along and he can do it.

And if all else fails, remember…

LOLLY SHOP.

(Mwa ha ha!)

At first glance perhaps pricey on entry, but when you see all the beauty and fun, relaxation and learning that these Gardens have to offer, you will see that it is well worth the price.

Our visit there was rushed, so I cannot wait to go back and explore some more.

And for something different, an alternative and highly entertaining present would be the Tree Surfing and Zip Lines as a fabulous and inventive gift idea.

So, what are you waiting for… Upwards! ↑↑↑

 

 

 

Musings on a grey day

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Why do we feel like we must do it all? Why do we try to do the things others do, when we can just do what we do best, and leave the others to themselves?

Why can’t you just let me do what I do, and you do what you do? Let’s both do what we both do best, for ourselves.

 

An open invitation that has an expiry date. They do exist. You think that you are always welcome, but there will be a time and a place where that line will be crossed… and when it does, the relationship will shift, it will change, and suddenly, you won’t feel so special anymore.

I get it. We screwed up. We know the line that didn’t exist before, actually DOES.

 

How strong can a relationship be, when the slightest of slights, can affect the main tree? What does it say of others, and ourselves, when we let these things get in the way of something true, something good, something real?

I am sorry.

 

Does distance really matter? Why must it be so hard to catch up? Why are there always excuses? You go to the ends of the earth for some, and others, will give you their slated, default response, and you must accept it.

Accepting it, hurts. Because you know there was a time, when they would have flown with their own non-existent wings to see you.

Why are you not here?

 

A Royally great time

The Royal Hotel
770 Esplanade Mornington

(Visited March ’17)

Minutes before we were due to head out of the house that Tuesday night for dinner, we looked out the window… and saw a storm about to unleash. The weather report had warned of extreme weather and rain, and the south-east was about to cop it, BAD. We stood there, already dressed, asking ourselves “Should we just stay in?” Was it worth going out when the weather was going to be so terrible – hell, even dangerous to drive in?

But then, we realised what we were saying. I mean, what, the weather was going to hold us back? Since when? No bloody way. Besides, we were locals now. We’d be in the car, driving an average of 40ks, for 5 minutes, tops.

So how lucky we were then, to arrive at The Royal Hotel and find a park right out the front. Try to get us now Rain.

Although a neighbour to Kirks and also on the Esplanade, both establishments sharing amazing bay views, the feel of the Royal Hotel is completely different. And understandably, why would they want to modernise the place when its history holds such Royal ties? Inside it is all white with seemingly freshly-painted interiors, however unlike the sweeping views from Kirks of a full-length windowed wall allowing uninterrupted views from almost wherever you sit, here at the Royal the windows were small, possibly the same as they had always been, and though from there you could also see out towards the bay, you really had to be near them to get that beautiful view.

Intricate ceiling and wall detail, arches, and pillars that separated the left side of the room from the right: both sides that appeared to have been former large living quarters, with a large bar in the centre towards the right of the room, and a staircase leading up from the centre, this hotel had been transformed with a recent facelift, but the old-style feel remained, and it oozed character. You could just see how this place had been in existence over a century ago, at a time of horse and carriage, and adding to this vibe was one more, fairly prevalent thing: the musty smell.

It actually smelt like an old hotel. But not in a rotting, outdated, unclean way. It smelt earthy, original, and very very cool.

The hotel was renamed to its current name after a visit from Queen Victoria’s second son Prince Alfred. Remaining a site of enjoyment for some of the finest members of ‘societe’ over the years, it is clear to see this reflective in the current day interior retaining old-world charm, and why it has continued to hold onto its strong and proud ties to its noble past.

The hotel shows its age with its great, expansive spaces, something I learnt soon after as I took baby girl to the bathroom… on the way there and to your left, is the open-view kitchen that allows you to look in and see the chefs at work. And in the bathroom itself, old-world grandiose continues in the little details, fixtures and fittings, with large amenities too. New hotels are not the size that these magnificent pieces of history are. You can tell this is an old, old building, in the most fabulous and appreciative of ways.

The hotel is open 365 days a year and as well as having rooms for accommodation, it also has the fine restaurant we dined at that Tuesday evening in March.

We were showed to a table that wasn’t in front of the ‘bay’ window, but we could see out through it still from our distance… instead we had a window that showed out the side towards Kirks, and it was nice to see that while we were deliciously snug, it was rainy out.

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I had called that day to see if we needed to book ahead, and I think being a non-peak season period the man suggested it was ok if we just ‘rocked up’ as I would say, or ‘arrived,’ as he probably would.

We were brought menus and ordered our drinks, but realised fairly soon after our French-looking waiter disappeared for a while, that we actually had to go up to the counter and pay and order for ourselves.

We got beer and a Kuku Pinot Noir to start

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while baby girl entertained herself with some pencils and colouring paper brought over by French-man. It was fairly quiet at this stage, so it felt super library-like, and I was super-freaking out over any outbursts baby girl would make. More on that later.

After not too long a wait (there weren’t many people there so it was to be expected) we received our meals:

Baby girl’s Crumbed chicken strips with fries & vegies

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Hubbie got the Murray Valley Port cutlet, mash potatoes, green beans, walnut & parsley salsa with red wine jus

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While I got the Malaysian chicken curry, jasmine rice & roti bread

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So I’ll start with baby girl, and her meal was fantastic. I was really pleased to see something other than the usual chicken and chips on her plate, and it was vegetables! And green ones at that! When provided with chips I know she will prevail on that, but she is a good eater and at home she eats her vegies… so when given the option, she will graze slightly, and so she did that night. She ate the chips and chicken alright, but she also had her broccoli, and that just makes any Mum happy. The food on offer was real, and didn’t look like crappy offcuts or leftovers, so that made me doubly happy.

Hubbie enjoyed his Pork cutlet, and it showed in how clean the plate was on removal… the only thing that wasn’t to taste was the red wine jus, he thought the marinade had burnt, as there was a slightly off-putting taste to it. If it weren’t for that, top marks from that fussy butcher Hubbie of mine.

And, leaving the best ‘til last… my meal was amazing. The highest honours, if only for that. The chicken was falling apart, it was succulent and soft and delicious. The jasmine rice in the banana leaf I believe, was very appealing and looked great, and then there was that roti bread. Drool. Oh man, if this is what all roti bread tastes like, I HAVE BEEN MISSING OUT. Of course the next roti bread I have elsewhere will not be up to scratch, I guarantee. But this roti bread was warm, puffed up, stretchy and soft. We all had some, I actually don’t know why I decided to share it as much as I did… maybe it was because I wanted to share my sudden intense love for roti bread… but they all concurred with me that it was definitely mmm-worthy.

I cleaned up my plate, easily.

Dinner had been yummo. I would have gladly stayed on for dessert, but for some reason baby girl just wasn’t working with us, and the other diners were now looking over… grrr argh. Great food, but snob-central. That night at least, we would have to give coffee and cake a Rain-check, so to speak.

Food: 9.5/10. Sensational. Fresh and delicious.

Coffee: N/A.

Ambience: Quiet, library-like when there are not many diners present. You can feel the character of the hotel and so silence is almost necessary to sit and soak up the chapters of history that have unfolded there.

Staff: We really only dealt with French-man, and he was fine, very concerned about doing his job properly, ‘to the book.’ But good.

People: We didn’t come across many. There was an old gentleman dining on his own who left before we did; a few couples beside the long-desired for window seats; and towards the end of our meal a rowdy American family sat near us, and this made me happy as their business and family talk almost blocked out any of the noises that baby girl was sporadically exploding with. I say almost, because she was still loud, and there was a couple, what looked like a 30-something woman with a 50-something man, who gave us ‘looks,’ staring pointedly when baby girl would yell out. Well, you all know how happy I am about ‘looks.’ I gave her a really good one as we exited the hotel, making sure she caught full well my intention… her rudeness and the library-vibe was the only thing that made the night difficult, as even though there is a kids meal section, and colouring and pencils for the kids, well unless they are in a straight-jacket, I don’t know quite how accepted they are there…

Price: $95ish for the lot. For 3 meals, and 3 drinks. The prices were slightlyon the upside, but the food was most definitely worth every delicious morsel I mean coin.

Advice: Book ahead if you want to sit by the window. Order the Malaysian chicken curry (you won’t be sorry). Maybe go at a peak time if you don’t want to deal with snot-faced moles when your child decides to you know, have a voice, and just generally be a child. F*&k me.

In a nutshell: I really loved this place, as Hubbie did too. The character and the food both won us over, but I wouldn’t hurry back (even though the Malaysian chicken is calling me), only because I am afraid of the too-quiet ambience and how that gels with a generally rambunctious and full-of-life baby girl.

I do highly recommend it to anyone else thinking of giving it a go, as I think the food and the atmosphere are something unique to be experienced. Stepping over the threshold where a royal has, is reason enough.

*UPDATE*

A year later, and back we went. And guess what? This is my new fave. The food yet again, amazing. And the alternative to possible snobby people inside?

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Sit outside. Ahhh.

The Royal Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Things that shit me… #15

Things that shit me…

People that get my coffee order wrong… and then give me ‘squinty eye.’

No, I am not an unforgiving, bitch-face, rigid, uncompromising, cold person who doesn’t realise people can get things wrong.

We are all human. I get things wrong too.

But when someone makes an error, and makes it out to be my fault… and it collides with one of my loves, coffee…

WATCH OUT.

Today I ordered at the café I always get my afternoon coffee at when I have a late shift at work. I walked in, an easy 20 minutes before starting time, happy that today, unlike other days, I wouldn’t be rushing. I was on time. I was even, if you can say, early.

I placed my usual coffee order of ‘medium cap with one’ with a newish-looking lady there, and then stood back to wait. It was 50 cents dearer today, but who knows, maybe the price had gone up in the few weeks since I had last had an afternoon shift.

The barista, who was not new, looked up at me, with some slight hesitation when she called out a coffee order only moments later.

I heard her say ‘cap,’ and ‘one sugar,’ but what was that other nonsense? I moved closer.

“Almond milk cappuccino with one sugar?”

I shook my head.

“No, I ordered a medium cap with one sugar.”

The newish woman was behind her, and hearing the exchange, made a confused, squinty, almost “okkkkaaaaayyyy nnnnoooooowwwwww!” face as the barista spilt out the whole almond milk cap, only to start again.

Almond milk cappuccino lady? I had ordered a medium cappuccino! She had mis-heard me, and as I watched, continued to keep this confused, squinty look on her face the whole time, as the barista recommenced my order.

I kept staring at her. This squinty-faced newish lady did not look at me. She didn’t call out a ‘sorry-for-the-inconvenience-of-waiting-for-another-one-in-lieu-of-my-f&%k-up’; she didn’t even smile apologetically. She just stood there in the background, watching the barista fix her mistake, without so much as an acknowledgement to me.

And when my ‘med cap with one’ was called out, I confirmed it definitely was that, before adding “I paid $5.00 for my coffee, do I need to get any money back?”

The barista nodded she would fix it up, and asked squinty-faced newish lady to go get me my 50 cents. And then walking over, she handed it to me, without so much as anything remotely offering consolation on her part. I said “thanks,” when really I wanted to thank her by removing that ill-placed confusion from her face.

She stuffed up my order, AND didn’t care to give me my money back?

I don’t expect the right royal red carpet of apologies when someone gets something wrong. I don’t expect them to mutter sorry repeatedly under their breath either. Nor do I think they should be kissing my feet and begging for my forgiveness.

All I am asking for is recognition and accountability. When someone can’t even give a small “whoops, sorry, my bad!” and a wave of their hand, and still they make me feel like it was ME…

Sorry, I’m OUT. When you get shit service like that, don’t be surprised when people walk… Looking for a new coffee place, because…

When people get my coffee wrong and aren’t even sorry for it, that really SHITS ME.

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Barbie dolls and March 8th

I sat with baby girl today playing with her dolls. Not that it’s an unusual thing – she asks me to play with all her Barbies and Disney princesses on a regular basis.

But today was a different day. Today was International Women’s Day.

This thought crossed my mind as I held the Anna Frozen doll, and she held the Elsa one. Sure, she was playing with Barbies. Barbies were typically portrayed as superficial dolls, dolls that until recent decades were typically associated with outdated and traditional personas, such as the trophy wife, not to mention their unrealistic and out-of-proportion body appearance and emphasis on the materialistic.

I wasn’t concerned, in the least. You know, the way a lot of ‘socially aware’ parents are nowadays. Baby girl played in the most well-rounded way. Sure she had her dolls. When she wasn’t playing with them, she was jumping on her trampoline. Kicking a ball. Playing catch with one of us. Drawing. Pasting and cutting. Looking through books. Watching Moana for about the millionth time (current phase). Loading her Shopkins into miniature bags for me to find later.

Basically, she wasn’t limited to one activity.

Still, I was aware. Aware of the youtube videos she watched of young girls playing with dolls, which she would then imitate. The dolls going out shopping. The dolls having tea. The dolls having an argument, and then making up. The dolls jumping in the pool. The dolls complimenting each other on their outfits.

So when baby girl stood one of her Barbie dolls on top of a plastic kitchen, and started yelling out “help me Ken, help!” being the day it was and all, I decided to change the rules.

The old rules. Of the weak girl. The strong male who swoops in to save the day.

Basically, the boy ‘hero’ image, versus the girl ‘weak’ image.

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“Save me, save me Ken!” she shrieked.

“No Barbie,” I held Ken and put on my most manliest of manly voices. “Barbie you’re a strong girl, you can do it yourself. Just jump Barbie.”

“No, no, it’s too high to jump!”

“Just jump to the middle Barbie,” I urged.

I watched humorously as baby girl took the Barbie to the middle shelf of the kitchen, before getting her to make one last jump to the carpet below.

“Yeah, you did it Barbie, well done,” ‘Ken’ told Barbie, as I smiled.

And then, a thought. Sure, baby girl watched these videos where the dolls did all girly things and needed occasional ‘saving.’

She was happily naïve – she did not know about the world we live in.

A world where there is discrimination against women.

A world where there is a pay gap.

A world where the general population pity the man and verbally slam the woman over the same activity.

A world where women cannot do certain things, because it is considered not acceptable for them to do so due to their gender, or even moreover, because they themselves don’t believe they can do it.

I was happy, because I knew in that moment, that this world didn’t exist for her. She was too young to know about it, or understand it at all.

And then, another thought. 

With the rise of the Time’s Up movement, a greater push and awareness of gender inequality and discrimination, and the increasing focus on women’s events, rights, and days such as International Women’s Day, my thought was…

She may never know.

She might never ever live to experience inequality.

She might never come across the excuse, “he’s just being a boy.”

She might never be told she can’t do something because it’s a man’s job.

She might be paid just as much, if not more, than her male friends when they enter the workforce.

She might just live her life with the same experience as every other being on this planet should experience: with fairness and an open heart.

She might live her life, without any focus on her female attributes.

Can you just imagine?  

The thought brought me so much joy at the Hope it promised. Now that’s something to strive towards…

Let’s make it happen for the next generation…

So when you are playing Barbies with the little people in your life, remember, it’s not what you play, it’s HOW you play…

And how you play, is Everyone saves themselves, because they are damn well strong, confident, positive and determined enough to.

Happy International Women’s Day ♥♥♥

4 outfit changes in one day

When you live in a city of the most unpredictable weather, one that has the common and most thrown-about tagline of “4 seasons in one day…”

Surely your wardrobe needs to match.

Tuesday 20th February 2018

8:45am.

Mad dash upstairs to get dressed before kinder drop-off. I look outside. Hmmm, windy. Sooooo windy. That tree across the road might just fall down. Sure we are expecting a top of 26, ‘sometime’ today…

I end up with black jeans, and a 3/4 arm-length shirt that has a singlet underneath.

10:00am.

Crap. So I over-estimated the wind. It’s still so mild. But, now I’m home, I have cleaning to do, and then there’s that lasagne that needs attending to as well…

And when sauce squirts on me suddenly an hour later, I don’t care!

Because I am wearing an old Ricky Martin tour t-shirt from 2000, and Fila workout pants that don’t see the light of day outside my front door.

2:00pm.

Ok, kinder pick-up. These Fila pants ain’t going outside. And Ricky I love you but that top is such a faded tone of black, a muted seal is a darker shade than you.

Are the Mums gonna hate me? I’m not starting a fashion show but I can’t wear what I wore this morning! It’s too hot! Stuff them.

Blue jeans, now with a green t-shirt.

2:45pm.

Okay, how could I get that seriously so wrong AGAIN? Staying inside for 4 hours made me seriously under-estimate how hot it was outside!

Oh that’s right, it’s now 26 degrees. Well hello sunshine.

Let’s get comfy, but also we have friends coming over soon so I need to be respectable too…

It’s my loose-fitting ‘gypsy’ leopard-colour pants, with a plain black singlet.

Ahhh. Finally. Took 4 outfit changes but I finally got there.

(And that’s not including when I first got out of bed this morning, and put pyjama pants over my pyjama shorts while I went to prepare baby girl’s lunchbox, it was that cold).

Living in Melbourne is interesting like this every day. Because this day isn’t an exception. It sets the norm.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

♥ Melbourne.

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Photo by Igor Ovsyannykov on Unsplash

 

 

 

 

Unannounced Cake in a Nanny State

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Photo by Lorene Farrugia on Unsplash

Something unbelievable happened today when we picked up baby girl from kinder. And it was so unexpectedly liberating, innocent and reminiscent of when I grew up as a child, that when I realised what it was, only then did I truly recognise that in this day and age, this was a thing to be noticed.

Baby girl, along with all of the kids in the class, was eating… chocolate cake.

All of them. They were on the floor, cross-legged, some of them asking for spoons so as to not get their fingers dirty (ahem my daughter), smears of brown sponge smeared across their faces, as happy as Larry’s and Lassie’s that it was someone’s birthday.

But more profoundly shocking of the fact they were eating chocolate cake at the end of their kinder session was that…

… wait for it…

The teachers had not informed the parents about it.

(Dum da dum dum!)

And I couldn’t have been happier about it.

I grew up in a time where my Mum was able to bake a whole damn cake and bring it into class, and as the birthday girl I was a God-damn legend. You could hand out lollies, share snacks, and no one batted an eyelid.

I ain’t talking allergies here. No I totally get it if you have some. I had an allergy myself growing up, so I am not putting down the fact that there are some kids that can’t eat certain foods.

I am talking about the fact that we live in a precious nanny state, where every little thing has to be recorded, and every little thing needs asking, permission, and a written personalised autographed hand slip.

For God’s sake.

I have TWO prime examples I came across just in the last year, and I’m only one year young into this whole ‘schooling’ thing too. I came to pick baby girl up one day, and the teacher informed me that she had hurt herself – the poor thing had poled herself climbing down on an A-frame. Ouch. She had been checked out and all appeared fine, but because of this I had to fill out an incident report.

An incident report. I scraped my knee in grade 3 and was sure I could see my bone, there was NO INCIDENT report then.

A second example. A letter taped to the door at kinder last year informed parents that Christmas songs may feature in some of the end of year activities with the children… however if anyone opposed, they would not be included.

Hold up…. WHAT?!?!

Do you see what these two examples represent? A nanny state that is afraid of offending others or getting things so wrong so as to make themselves vulnerable to lawsuit…

Seriously, is this the world we are living in???

When did we start needing permission to eat dessert? To have fun? To sing a freaking Christmas carol???

NO, don’t get me started on Christmas songs. DO NOT touch Christmas festivities. If they don’t let my daughter sing Jingle Bells, I am gonna get violent on their arses.

I can only imagine what lies in store for me for the many decades worth of school years ahead of us, but my hope is that this general wide-spread stupidity dumbs itself down enough so that people stop tip-toeing around each other, and start living with freedom and happiness and trust, so that if anyone DOES want chocolate cake…

They should damn well get it.

Sure, the cake did kinda ruin baby girl’s lunchtime meal… but I was so happy I hadn’t been asked, I didn’t even care.

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Photo by Becca Tarter on Unsplash