The Toy Shop with the lot

Do you ever do that thing, where you “go to bed,” but then end up sitting up propped by your pillow, the glare of your mobile lighting up the room as you look up holidays, articles on awards ceremonies, and other odds and ends like play centres and Feng Shui practices in the home?

Guilty as charged.

I think I find it a soothing way to unwind before I actually lay my head down to sleep, though I know most experts (actually, ALL) would argue that it is a bad, bad thing, to have that amount of bright light affecting your sleeping rhythm so close to bedtime. Doesn’t seem to affect me though. 😜

And I find I do get answers to all of my daily questions!

Europe IS a cheaper travel destination in September… Tom Gleeson did make fun of the logies, and insult Karl at the same time… Feng Shui says a winding path to your front door is ideal (yes!) and… Amazing Toys, has a lot of really cool things these school holidays.

Backtrack. Amazing Toys has a lot of really cool things, all year round. And they are only located a short drive from my house. True story.

I spent a lot of time on my phone late one weeknight, as I madly clicked buttons on their website, discovering all the wonderful ways in which I could spoil baby girl… for her birthday party? For presents? For the school holiday program?

And then the clincher… themed hair cuts.

WHAT?!

And so, we found ourselves on day 2 of the July school holidays, getting ready to get her hair cut PJ Mask style.

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Let’s be clear, it wasn’t like she was getting a Gecko-style do or even an Owlette-style V-shaped fringe… but this enormous toy store/hairdresser’s/birthday party destination and place of general kids fun, was having a themed week, whereby kids could get salon treatment, in the form of hair cuts and ‘up’ dos, amongst other cute additions, all in a PJ Mask styled salon.

It was too good to pass up.

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Firstly, brilliant idea. It’s a fun and safe place for kids where they can be surrounded by what they love, what is familiar to them, to ease any kind of stranger-cutting-your-hair worries, any over-sensory stimulation, or even just to make them feel special and spoilt… not like that doesn’t happen on a daily basis, let’s be honest.

But it is a fun activity, especially for the school holidays.

It was baby girl’s first professional hair cut, having had it cut for years by the MIL, so this was a different kind of ‘first.’

Her hairdresser for that day, started off by painting her nails… 3 colours alternating as baby girl’s choice. 💅

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Next, as they dried, she was propped up in the barber chair, to let her nails dry further as her hair was cut. 💇🏽‍♀️

Finally, the ‘up’ do – half up, half down.

STUNNING! With the obligatory spray of glitter of course. ALWAYS glitter.✨

The salon experience, which lasted about half an hour, with baby girl thoroughly entertained by PJ Masks on the screen the entire time (yay for distractions when hair brushing is involved!) was topped off by a balloon, lucky dip and lolly pop as well.

All for the, wait for it… awesome price of $30.

😮

It was totally worth it, to see the look on her face.

These themed weeks happen on a regular basis, with Emma from the Wiggles, My Little Pony, Belle from Beauty and the Beast, and Toy Story, among many others, all featuring, so you can be sure to catch a theme your littlie will love.

And if a more ‘basic’ package is what you’re after, you can get a few less frills, still themed, for $20.

😲😲

The thing that got me about this store, is how it is a well-thought out hub for all things kids. Not only a place for kiddies to get their tresses cut… not only a toy shop, (and a HUGE one at that)…

But it is also a place that houses workshops during the school workshops: think craft, painting, dancing sessions, anything a little tike, all the way up to a primary school aged kid would like – they have something here for everyone to entertain in this most prolific of “I’m bored” weeks a year!

And to top off the kids quadfecta of entertainment, there are the BIRTHDAY PARTIES.

Many themes and styles are available – think princess, superhero, disco and high tea. You can choose the theme and character to match… so for example, you can have a Frozen disco, or Frozen pamper party. Most themes can be suited and adjusted to the birthday kid, so just check out their website or give the staff a call to see what can be done.

So much lies behind the front doors of this small shop front in Mornington!

The deets:

Amazing Toys is at: 45 Mornington Tyabb Road, Mornington

They are open 9am to 5pm every day of the week.

Hairdresser

Standard kids cuts are available throughout the year and start from $15.

Themed weeks are on at certain intervals, usually school holidays – but check their web site for availabilities.

For these themed weeks, the standard package gives you a hair cut, glitter or funky hair spray, lucky dip, balloon and lollypop for $20.

For the Delux package, which is the addition of a hair ‘up’ do, and pretty nails or tattoo, the price is $30.

Women are also catered for here (keep the kids busy while you get pampered!) with cuts ranging from $30-$60, and colours starting at $45 for short hair.

The blokes are even looked after (!), with basic cuts starting at $20!

Kids birthday parties are available – call for more info on (03) 5976 8889, or check out their website at amazingtoys.com.au

Workshops are also a mainstay – Mums, Dads, dance mums, even you yourself can learn how to become an expert in braids!

A school holiday program emerges every end of term – these range from $2.50 to $15, but some workshops can fluctuate to $30, and include things like crafts, pampering, painting, dancing, sand art… anything really to keep those hands and toes busy!

And none of this includes the TOYS!

There is so much more in store, trust me you won’t regret it!

That is just, amazing!

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The Wizard of Fed Square

Il Pom Italian
2 Swanston Street Melbourne (in Federation Square)

(Visited May ’18)

Wednesday. Late May. A cold weeknight.

What on earth could see me, my sister, and nephew, strolling the streets of the city, all of us so far from home?

Why… much like Dorothy, we were “off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of Oz!”

I had purchased some tickets to see this most revered and classic of stories in musical form, and in turn gifted sis and nephew for their upcoming birthdays…

I figure, it is SO HARD to buy for people nowadays. Give them an experience they won’t forget.

They’ll forget that organic magic goat soap you bought them 2 birthdays ago, but a decade on and you will never forget THE WIZARD.

We had all arrived a tad earlier for our show, with full intentions of having a happy, hearty dinner. After walking by The Regent and taking the necessary cheesy photo with theatre billboard behind us, sis told us she had recently been to an Italian restaurant with some friends in Fed Square. As it was coming recommended, we began the short walk there.

It was pretty deserted at 6pm. Still we wandered on through, observing the night lights, illuminated buildings and grand trees along the streets, ‘til we came to rest at Il Pom Italian.

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It was silent out, and we viewed a few people inside, also dinner early birds. We were tended to almost immediately by a waitress who we later found out was the manager. At first impression she seemed a bit forward, especially when laughing at our indecision on where to sit. Inside, outside, under heaters, under umbrellas… there was so much to consider on that almost Winter’s night, as it was still, the city looked beautiful, and we wanted to observe the scenery before us, but still be WARM.

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But we grew to love her. She was openly envious of our going to The Wizard of Oz, and we laughed constantly every time she was near. She was honest about alcohol given to minors, (when my sister politely asked the rules when kids are with parents, she said 15 for my nephew was too young in her book) and we all tsk tsk tsked at parents who decide to give their kids espresso martinis. That’ll knock ME out, let alone your kid!

We got some meals, again mentioning we had to be out of there by 7:30 (to exaggerated rolled eyes!) and I opted for something so simple, basic and fresh but sometimes, the simplest things really ARE the best.

Bambini di pasta – penne pasta w rich napoli topped w pecorino and torn fresh buffalo mozzarella

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And this was, THE BEST.

Such beautiful pasta. Cooked to perfection. Simple Napoli sauce. That buffalo cheese…. DRRRROOOOOLLLLL. I would go back to that restaurant only for that pasta.

Note to self (and everyone): when in Italy, do what Italians do.

When at an Italian restaurant, eat what Italians eat.

Therefore always go with their premium forte. It makes sense, right?

Everything about the pasta was perfect and made me so happy. We chatted and talked and made memories. Spending some quality time with my sister and nephew, bonding and sharing stories, was special, something you don’t get to do often in the busy-ness of every day, but more so, something we don’t get to do during a school/work weeknight! It felt like we were somehow cheating, but really, we were winning at life that night.

Our conversational juices really started to flow though, with… the MOJITO!

Pom’s Mojito – Bacardi superior rum, martini bianco, fresh mint lime and sugar, topped with Prosecco

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It was also, the BEST EVER.

I don’t know what drugs or sweetened syrup she put in there, as there was a distinct syrupy taste, but it was insane. It made me and sis, who also had one, feel like we weren’t drinking alcohol, as it didn’t taste at all strong, but then….

WHAM!

Right there in the head.

Goner.

That’s it, I’m out, thank you very much…

See ya later alligator!

I absolutely loved it.

We complimented the manager on the amazing cocktail, and I openly said I was a little “Wooo!” in the head. She showed her care but was still amicable, like that cool parent that lets you drink alcohol but still sets boundaries… She hadn’t let my nephew have any, but me, this grown-up adult was having one, and being told off in the process…

“No more for you!”

Okay Mum. 🙂 (Sheepish look ensued).

After some more chatting and memory-making, sis paid (her treat for us that night) and we went off, for our date with the ruby red shoes.

Food: 9/10. Wham bam thank you Maam. Beautiful and simple Italian. Deeelicious.

Coffee: N/A for me.

Ambience: So quiet that Wednesday weeknight. There were diners inside, but we were the only ones to brave the cold. The silence was perfectly to our liking. Warm heaters nearby, twinkling lights of the city before us… it set the mood to talk about magic.

People: Couples and friends inside. I’d imagine a few after-work dinners would happen here.

Staff: Our waitress/manager was fantastic. A ball of fun and highly entertaining to talk to. The right head of house exists there.

Price: About $120-$130 for what my sister forked out – that’s 3 mains, 2 alcoholic drinks, a lemonade and a coffee. A bit high for sure, but we aren’t in Kansas anymore Toto, and the pasta outside of our ‘burbs happens to be stuff you try to get lost for. Kudos.

Advice: If you haven’t worked out what to eat, please for the love of God, eat the pasta and have a mojito! You are most welcome, in advance. 🙂

In a nutshell: I loved this place, and more so because it was the prerequisite of the magic that occurred after…

I would definitely go back, and how much easier if I could just tap my ruby shoes 3 times…

“There’s no place like Il Pom Italian.”

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Il Pom Italian Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Rainbow after the rain

I have been seeing a lot of rainbows lately.

It’s made me think of them, their meaning and emergence in our atmosphere, and specifically, the metaphor we can use for them.

I saw a rainbow out our lounge room window just the other morning before dropping off baby girl at school. We were eating breakfast, and amidst the grey skies and falling drops outside, I spied one half of a rainbow, across the water:

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But that wasn’t the first one I saw that week, and it would not be the last. It was only when driving home from school later that day, amidst wispy rain, that we saw one again.

As I explained to baby girl what had to happen in order for there to be a rainbow… something struck me, in my casual explanation.

“There has to be rain, and sunshine,” I told her. “And then a rainbow will appear.”

I was immediately flung deep into my whirlpool of deep thoughts, as I often am, tuned in to my surroundings as I am constantly used to taking mental notes… life as a writer, empath, or both.

There has to be rain, and sunshine, for a rainbow to appear.

Huh. Even life was teaching us lessons.

The proper definition of the rainbow occurrence is something like this:

  • It is a natural spectrum that occurs in the sky after rain falls.
  • As sun shines onto falling rain drops, it causes reflection and refraction.
  • The rain drops act like tiny prisms, bending in the sunlight to be reflected back to us as the band of colours that we see as a rainbow.
  • This is why the rainbow is always directly opposite the sun.

Hmm, I pondered. There has to be the presence of both rain, and sunshine.

And if you were looking at it from a non-geological perspective, not focusing on the fact that the planet needs both rain, and water to replenish and renew, to grow and keep things living…

Well, most people tend to regard rain, in their every day life, as a nuisance. Bad.

And they tend to think of sunshine, as a welcoming smile on their face… Good.

And just like the rainbow to the left of my vision as I drove along in the rain, it dawned on me.

Even Mother Nature says there has to be the presence, of both good, and bad, in order for something beautiful and miraculous to occur.

Because that’s what they were, right? Miracles? Considered a sign of good luck in many cultures, with the pot of gold at the end of it the answer to all of life’s problems…

And so on this last weekend, in amidst grey skies and endlessly rainy days, and coincidentally or not, the Winter solstice, the shortest day of the year where we receive the least amount of sunlight…

We also received rainbows. A sign from Mother Nature, that despite this cold Winter, a respite is coming?

That despite the long and hard days, the hours of sunlight per day will be increasing soon?

That sometimes, bad things have to happen, before we get good things coming to us?

Maybe, the raindrops falling from the sky are the horrible hardships we endure, where we question life and the world and ourselves..

And the sun is our effort and determination to not give up, to keep pressing on, and to see it out no matter what. Our Hope.

And our rainbow, is our reward at the end of it all. Glorious, multi-faceted, a glow that takes over our whole life sky. But we had to go through rain, then sun, to see it through.

So remember… the presence of both good, and bad. In order to see a hue of miracles. 🌈

Think of that next time you’re going through a hard patch… you may just find your pot of gold… but it’s important to keep that sunny disposition, even through the rain.

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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Italy in the Bronx

Bronx Napoli 1999
1a Queen street Mornington

(Visited May ’18)

What was happening in 1999?

Well personally… I was in year 10, and listening to and doing “Livin la vida Loca” to Ricky Martin.

I watched 10 Things I Hate About You, and it became EVERYTHING. Heath Ledger God rest his soul, and that song routine on the school bleachers? Heaven.

Only one of my most FAVOURITEST SHOWS OF ALL TIME debuted… Angel. Ahhh. 🙂

I dabbled with more blonde in my hair.

Worldwide, everyone was freaking out about the whole year 2000 and subsequent Y2K bug, and if that wasn’t going to end us, apparently at the end of the year, or sometime during the year 2000… the whole world as we knew it would go kaput. You know, the usual Nostradamus prediction stuff and all.

But in other parts… well the eatery off Main street Mornington, either its brainchild flourished in that era… or they just like the graffiti from the Banksy of Naples… OR they’re really into football.

The place I’m talking about is of course Bronx Napoli 1999.

To work out which of the above explanations it could be, click through to their website here.

But very randomly, one Tuesday night in May, we found ourselves without power… but it wasn’t the Y2K bug at work. The failure of power wasn’t that surprising, since we had been given advance notice that electrical works to the area may result in no electricity, from 8 in the morning to oh… 3pm?

But at 4:30 when I got home from the library with baby girl and there was still nothing… I knew the candles would have to come out.

A short walk over to the road work men, and Hubbie found out sometime around 6pm, that they had experienced difficulties, and the work had been delayed… they hoped it would all be working in an hour or two.

???

No electricity? Why it was dinner time! With no working power in the house, even if we got takeaway, candles were not sufficient enough to light up the table, rooms, the house?

So naturally, we had to go out… and eat.

I don’t know why we went here, but we did. We were just so happy to go into a warm and well-lit place that honestly, any place would have been sufficient.

It is a wide, high-ceilinged restaurant. An open kitchen allowed us to see through into where the chefs were preparing our meals, and in front of the open counter was a selection of their own home-made pastas to take home… ooooh!

Soon enough we ordered drinks… A Mornington Pale Ale for Hubbie, and a Stumpy Gully Pinot Noir from the Mornington Peninsula for moi:

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What I loved was the accompaniment of warm bread with olive oil and balsamic reduction…. Drool. This I loved. It was on the house (well, you know, as much as ‘on the house’ means work is paying for your meal, not you 😉 )

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Baby girl was a fan of this one too.

We sat in the dim light of the restaurant just taking in our surroundings. It was warm. There was light. Ahhh. Electricity. There were plenty of families about, and we tuned into the conversation about European travel from the 45+ double date couples beside us.

One day.

Soon though, our food arrived.

I had ordered the Spaghetti di Mare – fresh spaghetti tossed with Napoli, chilli, vongole, mussels, prawns, calamari, fresh fish, white wine and garlic

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Hubbie had gotten the Cottoletta Milanese – Free-range Pork schnitzel breaded with parmesan and served with rocket and shaved parmesan with balsamic dressing

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Baby girl had the Bambini only pasta for kids, which was ‘pasta of the day with Napoli sauce topped with parmesan (and olive oil on the side).’

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And as an addition we also got a side of Patate fritte – thick cut potatoes, served with garlic aioli.

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So firstly, my spaghetti. I enjoyed my meal as it had a mild seafood flavour, strong enough to be yum, not so much to be overpowering like other restaurants (ahem, Manhattan?) The seafood was cooked well too, and that is always a plus seeing as biting into some longed-for prawns goes a bit awry when rubbery. But this was great.

Baby girl in fact did not have the Napoli sauce as mentioned in the bambini menu, she had cheese and oil on the side of her plain pasta. The waitress went to great lengths to ensure she got her order right, and even when it was delivered she was particularly interested to see if she was happy about it.

Someone interested in my 4 year-old being happy? May sound absurdly odd to think this as being so foreign, but alas no one gives a shit about kids. So I was happy, that she wanted to make baby girl happy.

And, baby girl was happy 🙂

But now, to the fussy butcher.

His exact thoughts, (and I recoil writing these words), were that the pork was turning. If you are not eloquent in Butcher speak, or aren’t married to one fine specimen, or don’t watch a lot of cooking shows, basically what he meant was that it was old. Old old old. He could taste it in every bite, and though he still ate it, because he was hungry, he was not impressed.

Don’t ask me how he knows…. He just knows.

On the positive, his rocket, parmesan and balsamic dressing was amazing. Anytime anyone gives me that combo, I am SOLD! Alas it was not enough to save his meal, but I was happy, picking at bits here and there.

And the patate fritte? Well, chips. Chips are chips. But these were super hot and actually quite yum. And the garlic aioli made it especially moorish.

We soon finished our meals, our bellies fuller, our bodies warmer, and hoping to go home and find our house, a little bit lighter…

Food: 7/10. I find it hard to score and average out when components of the meal are great, others not so. Because majority meals won, 7 it is. Baby girl was tended to with care, and the chips and my spaghetti were delicious.

Coffee: N/A on this visit.

Ambience: Dimly lit, yet with that chatterbox restaurant air. Cosy despite those high ceilings.

People: A lot of families of all ages. Young, old, double daters, and a group of pensioners arrived as we were leaving, enthralled with our girl in Queen Elsa costume.

Staff: Our waitress was very serious, but worked hard to please us. Extra points for her care towards baby girl.

Price: $96.50. That was 2 adult meals, one child’s meal, one side, and two alcoholic drinks… Hmmm it sounds about right, but had Hubbie’s been up to scratch, I would have been happier with that amount.

Advice: I think going the pizza or pasta route at this place is the way to go. It is abundant in their menu, and the way our pastas were brought out, the care is evident there. There is also a share menu for groups of 4 or more, and so having them select the best plates for you and your group to share, would also be worth doing if in company.

In a nutshell: I liked the place… Hubbie was not so impressed. But then again, this is me and my adventure with a fussy butcher Hubbie, and so that has become quite the norm. He swore off restaurants after this visit, but it was no fault of Bronx’s alone… it was the build-up of unsatisfactory meat meals at both Manhattan and Kirks, prior to that visit, from restaurants we both loved.

So the disappointment was wide-spread and handled out equally. ;/

But you can be assured we went out to eat again within a fortnight. So he is not an elephant. He can forget. Kind of.

I for one would like to go back with a group and try the share menu. And how could I not want to, when the wishes and whims of my little Queen were catered to so wonderfully?

Even, when in the Bronx.

Bronx Napoli 1999 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Writing critique

You will not believe the weakness that just arose in me.

The fear. The unbridled dread.

Creeping, creeping. Slowly up through my body. Heat swarming over my face. Sickness dropping in my stomach.

I felt damp.

I felt hot.

I couldn’t. But I wanted to. But I then I couldn’t.

And my finger was held poised, over the button of my laptop, waiting, waiting, hesitating on every sharp intake of breath, to open up…

THE FILE.

The file, of writing criticism.

The file, from the tutor of my online writing course, that contained her very specific and educated, observations and critique of the first 3000 words of my novel.

I held my breath as I quickly ran over her comments. Click here. Click there.

Let out a short rush of air. No don’t relax yet.

Hold on some more. Yep I expected that.

Oh crap. Why didn’t I pick that up?

Okay… okay…

Last comments…

WHOOSH!

Out the air came tumbling. Like an earth embankment crumbling to the ground, and the water in the dam before it rushing forward in furious pressure.

That wasn’t so bad.

Oh wait. There is still audio feedback to be listened to.

Breathe in…

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Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

 

 

Few Buoys

Two Buoys Tapas and Wine Bar
209 Point Nepean Road Dromana

(Visited April ’18)

We headed on down the coastline on Easter Monday, to do, what else…? Well wine and dine the day away of course. After stopping in Dromana, we walked up and down the main road, umm-ing and ahh-ing at every possible restaurant and café, until we just said “stuff it!” and decided on here.

Two buoys it read… only out the front, there was a buoy, and a girl.

The restaurant holds prime real estate, part of the reason why we chose the place. Across the road there are views of the ocean, and to the left was a park where many holiday-goers were venturing to, and which baby girl had her sights on already.

Although we were seated near the front, it almost didn’t happen. As in, the sitting there part. Hubbie experienced a bit of haughtiness coming from the buoy who first spoke to him, which almost had us floating away from them like a sailboat out at sea. But holiday vibe prevailed of course, and Hubbie chose to ignore it.

It is a VERY tapas-style menu. Dining out for lunch with a fussy baby girl, a just as fussy Hubbie, and me, someone who just wants to please them all while also satisfying my tummy, well it can be a challenge at times. We pondered our selections over a preliminary beer and Totara sauvignon blanc…

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Before finally deciding on what we would have.

Some sea-gazing…

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And then our meals arrived.

Baby girl got the House crumbed chicken strips, chips, tomato sauce

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Hubbie got the Beer battered fish, chips, sumac, herb mayonnaise

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I got the Potato gnocchi, ricotta, morcilla, peas, burnt butter, herbs

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And we had a side of Wild rocket, parmesan cracked pepper to share

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I was happy with the presentation of baby girl’s meal. I set off cutting up her chips and chicken so they could cool quicker, and was a little surprised to find many unclean pieces. Sinew? Grain? Tough meat? Whatever you call it, if I don’t eat it, I don’t expect my child to. I was suddenly thoroughly unimpressed by this, because when a child is given budget cuts for their meal, I find the disrespect to the little ones meals highly degrading.

She ate the chips, and some chicken bits, but most were left untouched.

Hubbie enjoyed his meal… but for the price tag of $24 he didn’t feel it to be anywhere worth it. This restaurant was definitely tapas-style in their sizing, and yet for some mayo with a dash of herbs in it, he didn’t feel it was anything especially fancy deserving of that price.

I didn’t mind it too much I must say. That had been my first option, but when he had said he was getting it, I couldn’t get the same thing for the sake of my blog, NOOO.

But I wish I had. I did enjoy my gnocchi. It was definitely an interesting combination of flavours, and I even tried the morcilla (blood sausage) on my plate. It was all yum and inviting, but again, so small. No fault of the waitress we ordered with, she did advise it was small upon my asking. But definitely, if lunching out maybe make sure there is a side to peck on. Which I had which I LOVED. Rocket is my friend, and when combined with parmesan OMG. I loved this salad, just loved, and it won the table for me, HANDS DOWN.

We sipped some more of our drinks… looked out over some more views…

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And then Hubbie went over to pay since an increasingly squirmy baby girl was keen on getting on the swings across the road.

When Hubbie got back… he was NOT happy.

Because it was the Easter Monday public holiday, we had been charged a surcharge… so instead of simply paying for our bill of food and drink that we had consumed, I mean, as is normal, we were slogged an additional 15% because management decided they would be open, but the café-goers would be paying for the holiday rates awarded to their staff.

Fair? I think not. My first encounter of ‘the surcharge’ appeared in my review of Lilo Café back on Australia Day weekend… and despite my love of the café, I was not impressed.

In this case? Well they didn’t inform us beforehand of the surcharge. Certainly there was no sign of it outside where we sat, inside I don’t know. And when you pay an extra $12.75 to cover wages, when let’s face it management are actually receiving more business because of the public holiday, well that just sucks.

We walked off… cranky-pants.

Food: 6.5/10. The presentation was mickey mouse. Some of the food though wasn’t up to scratch, and when you are getting tapas size meals and paying good coin, you expect it to be worth it.

Coffee: N/A… perhaps better we didn’t. Can you imagine how much of our money would have gone to the staff’s holiday wages if we added on coffee and dessert?!?!

Ambience: Very chilled, beach vibe with a touch of class.

Staff: They were professional, but lacking in friendliness. Added to our whole annoyed impression by the end of it all.

People: Lots of couples out and about that day.

Price: Over $100, once our surcharge was added on. Grr, argh.

Advice: If you like tapas by the beach, this is a good place to go to. Be aware though that servings are small, and if you like me, prefer not to pay extra ‘just because,’ well don’t go on a public holiday.

In a nutshell: Ahhh…. How do I say this diplomatically?

Nice place. I can see why others would like it.

Great views.

Perfect presentation.

Amazing salad.

But kids meal chicken offcuts, unfriendly (bordering on arrogant) service, high prices for small unsatisfying meals, AND the added surcharge?

Sorry buoys. We won’t be back.

Two Buoys Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

You should know her name

There’s something that I want to share at this late hour.

I want to tell the short story, or rather, the little set-up as it were, of how my Mum and Dad came to know each other.

How their families got to know each other. The Ks, and the Gs.

My Mum would visit one of her older sisters who lived with her then-husband in a village that wasn’t quite next door to hers. It took considerable effort to go there, and yet she did visit, and often stay there too.

Do you know who lived across the road from my Mum’s sister?

My Dad. My Dad and his family.

Due to this lovely set up, the Ks and Gs knew of each other and were well-acquainted for a long time. As it is in small villages. Sure the families were spread out and there was a lot more siblings behind my Mum and her sister for the Gs to even start to comprehend… and yet as things are in those places, from those times, of that age… everyone knows everyone.

When my Mum and Dad finally did start to date, they did so for only 2 weeks. They had known of each other for many more years before. But 2 weeks later and there was a wedding celebration happening across the road from where my Mum used to visit her older sister.

♥♥♥

And this is all well and sweet, but sadly this post isn’t only about that beautiful time of my parents’ union. I write this because my Aunty has died. My Mum’s older sister passed away, and we only found this out today, but to be honest she may have been gone for days and no one was to know, she was living on her own and only found after someone had to break into her home when she didn’t answer.

What makes me happy is my Mum telling me tonight that she had spoken to her sister only last week. I am sure my Mum had some sign, as she always does with these things… she had a feeling and followed that feeling, and fortunately spoke to her older sister one last time.

But also, this all makes me terribly sad. Because apart from the whole death factor, I can’t help feeling like if she had passed away here in Australia, things would be a whole lot different. Firstly, people would care more. They would actually give a fuck that an older generation of their family that frankly they would not be here without, had passed. They would pay proper tribute. They would think, and pay respects, and give thanks for her presence in their life.

I honestly…. I met her once. In my whole life I met this Aunty once. But I have a tremendous amount of respect for her, from hearing about her through my Mum, and also, knowing what her presence did for my future, and how my parents came to be together…

It just sucks. She was old, and people will say she was old, and that her time had come…

But it still sucks. She still deserves some fanfare. She had a hard life, she had to witness many people die around her including her own son, and then to be reduced, to this?

To be found, on her own? Is that it?

And so while I see people celebrating Orthodox Easter and posting about eggs and chocolate, I just had to do my bit…

There will always be eggs. There will always be chocolate.

But there won’t always be the woman who introduced your parents to each other.

R.I.P.

M.G., 2019.

 

 

 

Somewhere in Queenscliff…

Circa 1902
59 Hesse Street Queenscliff

(Visited February ’18)

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Funnily enough, this was the only new place we dined out at, at the back end of our Barwon Heads getaway. We had returned to BeachHouse Barwon Heads, from a previous trip over, so no foodie review there, and then the following night we decided to stay in and do our own bbq while away – a very good idea.

But upon returning home via the Queenscliff to Sorrento ferry, we had a little extra time on our hands, and decided to chill, hang around, and grab some lunch on what was a still and sunny February Summer’s day.

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Circa seemed like the perfect choice. Both a hotel and restaurant, the seating outside was ample and in a nice and bright position, the menu looked appealing, and then there was the greenery abounding which made us feel relaxed and like we were eating in someone’s friendly and quaint backyard.

 

It was an order up at the counter type thing, so after perusing the menu and making selections, Hubbie went up to make our food and drink order, coming back with some necessary holiday-lunch BOOZE.

Well for him anyway. I had an OJ.

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We were positioned with one of our favourite table numbers, so that was already reason enough for feel good vibes. There were other families about eating there, but it wasn’t packed, oddly enough, being a Saturday in Summer.

Soon, after several trips to the loo with baby girl (she gets slightly obsessed with new outhouses when in new places) our meals arrived.

And they looked good.

Now, seeing as the website was still in production as of this writing (and by now let’s face it they’ve probably changed their menu), I have to best describe our meals without their insider chef’s knowledge. So here goes…

I had the Chicken Curry with rice and pappadums

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Hubbie had a Pulled Pork Burger with chips on the side

And baby girl had a Fish Fillet atop chips, with a side salad and tomato sauce

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We were all pleasantly surprised by our meals. Hubbie loved the Pulled Pork, I was in awe of how moorish and comforting my curry was, with the oh-so-necessary and amazing addition of rice and pappadums, and baby girl happily ate away at her clean piece of fish… and when a child is catered for as well as her parents, in terms of quality pieces of food… not only is she happy, but I am too.

It was really very good. We weren’t expecting it to be horrible, but we knew being a hotel it might just be, you know, ‘casual’ lunch fare. Meanwhile the tastes were impressive and spectacular, and we immediately vowed we would we back on our next ferry ride over the Port Phillip Bay.

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Food: 7.5/10. Simple, but scoring high because it was what it was, and was amazing at that. Points for that.

Coffee: N/A on this visit, we were only slightly spoilt by coffee choices back over in Barwon Heads 😉 But judging on their food, next visit, a must.

Ambience: Very casual and relaxed out there in the front yard, with the sun shining down, local folk striding by amidst out-of-towners (ahem, US) and holiday vibes just abounding. Inside there is seating but I wasn’t privy to checking that out, though on a warmer day, I reckon head out, it rules.

Staff: We didn’t actually have much to do with them, other than at ordering, and them delivering our food to us. I often bemoan the task of going up to a counter to order and pay for food, rather than receive the full table service usually afforded to more formal eateries… but having said that, in this case once you have eaten your food and are done, you can just up, and walk off! Bill has already been settled! Quick exits are sometimes necessary with unpredictable kids… and ain’t that a positive 😉

People: Locals and out-of-towners as already mentioned. Many groups. It’s a hotel, so a mix of all, though probably an older, family-friendly generation is the majority.

Price: $ 76.00 Pretty decent wrap-up. 3 meals and a few drinks. And of course since it was so tasty, worth every cent.

Advice: Sit outside on a warm day. If there is a curry on the menu and you don’t mind some heat, eat it, don’t be afraid. It is amazing.

In a nutshell: A really lovely place to dine at that is unassuming but delivers on taste. If you want to sit outside, enjoy the local surroundings and watch the world go by, then this is definitely your place.

And I mean, who wouldn’t want to enjoy some fine food and think about, I don’t know… how amazing life is?

Oh that’s right, the frame ‘circa’ their interior walls covers that TOO. 😉

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Afterword: This restaurant does not operate under the name Circa anymore after some new owners took it over last year… but I sure hope they kept that curry recipe…

 

Sightings of People as Passionate About (Addicted to) Coffee as I am (SOPAPACAIA) #13

About 9:15am on Thursday the 4th of April.

Where? A 7-Eleven in Mornington.

Sighted: An elderly man shuffling back to a car parked at a petrol pump…

He is old. About 80 I’d say. His white hair matches that of his female driver waiting for him as he makes his way over, ever so slowly…

But his snail pace is more for his state of age than the two coffees held in each hand – however it doesn’t do the journey any harm. No fear of spillage here. He heads into the white Hyundai, his white shoes lifting up carefully so as not to stir the air, as he settles into the car.

I watch them from behind as I fill my tank, as he passes a coffee cup to his companion.

Coffee lovers at all ages… now that is a couple after my heart. ♥♥

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Photo by Tessa Simpson on Unsplash

 

How I handled f%$king writing rejection and lived to tell the tale.

Step 1: Stare at the computer in horror. Do this for as long as you have to, to let it really SINK IN.

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Photo by Pim Chu on Unsplash

Step 2: Physically express yourself. Scream. Cry. YELL. Do all 3 and then some. If you are going to throw something across the room make sure you don’t have any strong attachment to the item, it is not heavy/sharp/strong, and also, you don’t care about your flooring/it is virtually unbreakable.

Step 3: Keep crying and telling yourself self-defeating words. Things like:

“I’m a failure.”

“I am shit.”

“I am a shit writer AND I’m just plain shit.”

“I can’t fucking write.”

“I got rejected for a fucking writing course…”

And so on. If you have come this far you are doing well. Your self-loathing is working brilliantly.

Step 4: Wallow in self-pity. Pick someone who has to put up with you (i.e partner, parent, sibling) and tell them how shit you are. Cry as you are doing so. Tell them all your sorrows, including that time in grade 4 when you walked into a pole at school and your canteen partner laughed their head off at you. Go on.

Step 5: More than likely you have just been yelled at and scolded by your loved one. Go off and sulk for about 37 minutes.

I’ll wait…

Step 6: Ok you’re back. Now I want you to ask yourself…

“Are you going to let this beat you?”

That just jarred you didn’t it? You expected me to tell you to go cut some onions and rub them over your eyelids after all that self-hatred and the pity party you just attended with yourself as the star D-grade celebrity.

But SmikG is getting glass half-full right now and she is gonna whoop your ass.

Sit down! You’re not going anywhere.

Step 7: Ask yourself some more questions. Things like:

“Are you going to let one individual/organisation dictate what you can do?

“Will you someone else control your belief of yourself?”

“Is this one incident going to make you stop writing? Really? This ONE thing?”

At this stage, you may want to wallow in some more self-defeating talk for a couple more moments. Go on, whimper. Sniffle. Get some Kleenex super soft tissues, from the Aloe Vera range you weak piece of shit.

Step 8: “Are you REALLY going to let this get you down?”

“You know… you’re not that shit.”

“You’re actually, not bad.”

NOW we’re talking.

Step 9: Time to recall some famous writer stories.

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J.K Rowling. An unemployed and poor single mother goes from her Harry Potter manuscript being rejected 12 times before finally getting picked up… but even so, her editor encourages her to get a teaching job as it is unlikely she will earn much from writing children’s books.

She is now worth over 1 billion dollars (read, BILLION) with her name to one of the best-selling series in the world with 450 million copies SOLD.

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Stephen King. Rejected his own story, Carrie, only to find his wife had taken it out of the garbage with the note for him to finish it. It was rejected over 30 times, but was eventually picked up and even turned into a movie.

He has over 50 novels to his name, has written hundreds of short stories, and remains one of the great fiction writers of this generation.

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Dr Seuss. He had been rejected 27 times, and was literally on his way home to burn the manuscript when he bumped into an old friend. When he spoke of his woes from “a book no one will publish” his friend (also a children’s editor… how “co in-chi-den-che” – see the Tomei-Downey Jr. movie Only You for reference!♥ ) he read it and it was published.

He went on to write over 60 children’s books and remains a classic children’s writer through the ages.

Step 10: Woah. Now we are feeling just a little bit invincible. Almost like the way we felt when we first ventured into the writing world with fear and trepidation, hovering over the keyboard as we posed those first few words.

But we need something else.

Inject some creativity in your life… in the form of, MUSIC.

My fave go-to: Something loud and pumping, ROCK is real good.

Queen, for example.

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Prince doing his Beautiful Ones where he screeches at the end is also uplifting in a very RAW way.

Or you know, on the other spectrum we can go ‘alternative/new wave rock’ and play something like INXS’ Need You Tonight… you know the story, of how Andrew Farriss famously made the taxi driver who was meant to take him to the airport, wait an hour as he wrote the riff to the song? He then passed it onto Michael, who quickly penned the words to what would become the song… incredible.

You need to surround yourself with genius. Genius thoughts. Genius inspiration. Genius creativity.

Step 11: Ok, we are HERE. Perhaps you feel so unstoppable, so charged, the muse starting to move within you, that something you scribble on toilet paper while passing a bowel movement (why do you have a pen in there?) can be considered LEGENDARY.

“What am I going to do next?”

“What course will I look at?”

“What can I learn from this?”

Start work-shopping ideas to get around your initial rejection.

Step 12: Start with this quote by Albert Einstein: “Failure is success in progress.”

NEXT, sit at your computer.

And start writing.

🙂