Stupid coronavirus restrictions that MAKE NO SENSE.
You know, I’ve been fairly fortunate during this coronavirus isolation period.
Working from home.
Not having to go out on cold days.
Living in trakkies all day long.
There have been difficult moments too. Sad moments. Frustrating moments. Bash-your-head-on-the-wall moments.
But nothing really revved me up, until today.
Because hell hath no fury, like a Mum being told she can’t take her daughter to school after 2 months of isolation.
I did the right thing yesterday, I did the honest thing. I told baby girl’s teacher that she was still coughing, despite it being a cough that she’s had from the start of term 1, but nonetheless she was coughing.
But the word was, any cold symptoms, no matter how mild, and your child could not attend school.
Fine. So I went to her doctor.
Not to get around it! I wanted some medicine damn it. I was hoping in the process I could get some myself, since my cough had progressed to something more irritating and persistent than hers.
The doc, amazingly said… her cough was not contagious.
His words… “post-infectious.”
Because she had gone through the cold cycle… but something about the viral cough coming back… it was just the cough, nothing else… and therefore she couldn’t pass on the cough, this nasty little remnant and reminder of the seasonal cold, onto anybody else.
HE would even give me a certificate to prove it.
YAY! I thought! YAY YAY YAY!
I sent the letter to her teacher last night… and we tentatively waited.
Meanwhile we packed her school bag… got out her school clothes… decided on her lunch…
And got excited about the potential chance to return to a little bit of normality.
This morning, a phone call, from her teacher.
She wasn’t allowed to come.
Any cough, whether infectious or not, and she wasn’t allowed to attend school. In fact, we even discussed how coughs can last for up to 3 months…
Yep. The sentiment was kinda like, there’s nothing we can do.
Suffer in your jocks.
I ended the call, and felt like screaming and crying at the same time.
And can I just say, feeling so angrily inclined, so emotionally charged that you could literally break something, before 9am in the morning, is like, the WORST WAY TO START YOUR DAY.
My anger clouded me so much, that I had to repeat simple morning tasks before I got it right, my rage and fury at the situation were so strong.
In fact, I’m still surprised no electrical appliances haven’t spontaneously combusted in my presence today, and like Carrie from well, Carrie, the Stephen King book, there isn’t like blood running down walls and fires erupting and houses coming down.
It feels unfair. So unfair. I just can’t.I had to eat chocolate, and run, and then do yoga, just to bring some equilibrium to my body… but that was at 4pm. I had to deal with these emotions prior to that, all day long.
It’s not that I don’t get the rules. I totally get the rules. I just think it’s shit that –
a) a cough lasts FOREVER
6) she is post-infectious, meaning she won’t pass on her cough anyway
E) I know, I just know(you know too) there are gonna be parents trying to sneak their kids into school when they have sick symptoms, and they will go undetected because if the teachers can’t bloody police the kids during recess and lunch, how the hell are they gonna hear every cough, sneeze and sniffle?
11) I was honest, and I suffer, but the sneaky ones are gonna get away with it!
Z) Baby girl doesn’t deserve this! She has been so good and patient at home, watching me work for the whole bloody day, being understanding, being just generally awesome, and this is her bloody payback? Stay at home some more? Indefinitely?
8.2) If the cough hasn’t gone away for this long, how the hell am I meant to be excited about it going away at ANY point in the future?
I AM NOT EXCITED ANYMORE.
If I so much as hear that a kid from her school sneezed in the presence of a flower, or made a gasping sound after drinking from their water bottle too quickly, and they aren’t getting sent home due to displaying ‘symptoms’…
Transport Hotel Federation Square, Cnr. Swanston and Flinders Streets, Melbourne
(Visited July ’18)
It had been a massive July day.Unusual for the month, being the middle of Winter and all. But I had been up early watching Croatia progress further in the World Cup. I hadn’t been able to sleep after all the excitement, but I wasn’t allowed to either.
It was a show-filled day.
Our first stop was seeing Lah Lah in Chelsea for baby girl to enjoy, and the last stop would also be for her… Disney on Ice in the city. In between?
Well, we were going to have some fun now, weren’t we???
Since we were headed into the city anyway, we had wanted to check out the MoMA New York exhibition at NGV that had made its way over to our shores. Also, we needed a spot to eat. Hubbie loved the bustling vibe of The Transport Hotel, and even though it was literally packed to the rafters, with footy fans and families moving throughout, we still lined up to try for a table.
Lucky we stuck with it. Or else Hubbie was just determined to get a table. The waitress told us she’d have a look, while another couple looked around the busy room on the ground floor and headed off. She saw us still waiting after she cleared some tables… sure enough someone was leaving. She ushered us over.
Window spot. YES.
Baby girl and I were sitting with our backs facing against the window, it was kind of like a long window seat, whereas Hubbie was up on a high stool opposite us. He soon got a scotch, and he was IN HIS ELEMENT.
I also opted for something light and refreshing, and got an Apple Mojito – apple juice, lime, fresh mint, soda… while he chased his first one down with a beer.
It was a great vibe. There were surprisingly a lot of families around in that footy/pub vibing place, however a massive portion of the footy watchers were in the other room, standing with their beers and watching the action on the big screens. I watched the people outside exploring Melbourne city, the iconic Melbourne trams rolling on by, and it just seemed like a general wonderful stopping point to relax and take it all in, while remaining right in the centre of it all. It was relaxing, yet lively fun. Sunday out with friends. Family. No work in sight. And though it was looming the next day… you wouldn’t know it by looking at these people.
Knowing it was cold out too…. Ahh. Better.
With all of the cold however, I would have to get myself a warming meal, right? I mean, it was clearly the current trend (and I hadn’t learnt my lessonapparently), so I ordered:
A vegetable curry with pumpkin and lentils, coriander and flat bread
Hubbie got the Grilled Porterhouse, garden salad, chips with pepper sauce
While baby girl got the mini parma, chips, salad off the kids menu
It was hilarious, because as you can see by the above two photos this was right in the middle of baby girl’s fuss-pot phase. We took the ham and cheese off her parma and it became a snacking point on Hubbie’s plate… vacuum waste-not people that we are.
Baby girl’s meal was great value. A decent piece of chicken and chips and salad! Kudos for green on a child’s plate, kudos. Though she didn’t eat it (we did, as before-mentioned, vacuums) just seeing it there to get her used to it for future meals… she enjoyed her chips and chicken as we feasted on our meals too.
My curry was good. It wasn’t anything I would go and order again. But for that day it did the job. It was warming, it was hearty. The flat bread was delicious and I recall baby girl hacking into that too (carb-girl). It was a lovely meal and also something Hubbie took particular pleasure dipping into every now and then.
As for the rest of Hubbie’s food… he was happy. It wasn’t anything overwhelmingly amazing, but for that city style of commercial menu, and with that many people there that day (and the kitchen most likely, overwhelmed) he was happy. He ate it. It was passable. It didn’t detract from the atmosphere of the day, and in that he was stoked with.
Oh, what a lunch. We felt grateful to have found a spot in such a busy, happening place, and now we were also FULL. We got up to head off on our way, ready for the next lot of events to take us through the city.
Food: 7/10. It was good fare, nothing to blow our minds but the menu options were interesting and wide-ranging.
Coffee: N/A… we were stuffed with food and had to balance our intake. Our coffee hit came later at NGV.
Ambience: Really happening and bustling but also in a warm way. Because we were seated in an area looking out towards St Kilda road, away from the footy TVs in the communal sports room, it felt quite cosy. It was a great place to be, bustled up with everyone else.
Staff: They were actually, really good considering how busy they were. Big credit to them, because often smiles are the first out the door when the volume of people increases. They actually, gave a shit. So, maybe the drinks took a while to arrive… but I mean, they were packed.
People: A bit of everyone! Family groups, older friends, parents with littlies, and of course, the discerning fan with pint of beer in hand and footy scarf wrapped around their neck… all were present that Sunday 😉
Price: $88.50 Actually decent. How did this happen when Hubbie had two alcoholic drinks? Oh that’s right, I didn’t.
Advice: Be prepared to wait for a table if you are arriving at a peak time, for example Sunday lunch.
In a nutshell: It is a great meeting point to catch up with friends in the city. A wonderful melting pot of people, doing whatever they like to do on a Sunday afternoon, whether that is watch footy or have a bite to eat or have a drink… you will find them all here. I would be more than happy to go back and see it all, and be amongst it all.
There’s no excuse in not getting there either. From the train nearby, close trams and buses, or even your own personal uber… Transport is available from all locations. 😉
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:
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.
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:
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 😉 )
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.
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
Hubbie had gotten the Cottoletta Milanese – Free-range Pork schnitzel breaded with parmesan and served with rocket and shaved parmesan with balsamic dressing
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).’
And as an addition we also got a side of Patate fritte – thick cut potatoes, served with garlic aioli.
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?
Hickinbotham of Dromana
194 Nepean Highway Dromana
(Visited September ’17)
We had still NOT been to a winery. In the 11 months following our Sea Change, we hadn’t as much as suggested it, researched it, let alone GONE to one.
Then, Father’s Day was approaching. And this coincided with an online post I had read, that mentioned kid-friendly wineries on the Peninsula.
What?! Our time had come.
And so it was. Hickinbotham was the first one I called off of the kid-friendly list, and they were more than happy to have us for their 11am set lunch on Father’s Day. Hubbie didn’t know where we were going, and even though it wasn’t the nicest of Dad’s days, as we arrived amidst the cold, wind and occasional rain…
… He still smiled at the surroundings. He was really pleased.
I had done well (go me 🙂 )
We were in fact, the first ones to arrive that Sunday. We were seated immediately, and had a good look around the restaurant, taking it all in.
Though restaurant wasn’t quite the word. Sure, the tables were set up nicely, paper table-clothed and all. There was a long bar in the middle of the room, and behind that what appeared to be a tasting area, a large shed/warehouse-type room, with barrels evident from where we sat.
Wooden tones were everywhere. But this wasn’t a renovated, wooden-accented place. No, this wood had been there for years.
And yearsand years.
Because that’s what this place was, authentic. You could tell that you had stepped back in time, not too far, but far enough to understand that a winery had been there in place for a long time, way before people started coming in to dine. It was old, vintage, and polished.
There were two other seating areas I could see… one immediately to the front of us, that was completely covered, and another off to the side, which too was sheltered, yet opened up into the greenery outside.
Shotgun outdoor area on a sunny day. Just putting it out there.
Since it was 11am, and a tad before our usual eating time of 1pm, we decided to just opt for the 2 course menu, rather than do the 3 courses.
First up, some drinks please.
A glass of 2016 Pinot Gris for me; and a pint (ALL the men there were soon getting pints) of Hix Pilsener, Silver medal Royal Sydney Show 2014
Can I just say it was super exciting to be drinking beverages from the local wine/beer-makers there themselves. We were giddy, and although we had ordered our mains, the alcohol went to our heads and suddenly we were hungry!
Baby girl had received some crackers and dips as part of her kids package that day
And we all kind of dipped into that one (thanks Pinot Gris)
By this stage the place was filling up. There were Dads galore, and the waitresses were wishing everyone a Happy Father’s Day on arrival.
The fireplace had been lit, and was getting stoked, but the fire just wasn’t taking, so the group of people seated beside us took it upon themselves to re-stoke it.
It was a beautiful old fireplace, and the warmth that emanated from it was very much required that day.
Soon, the food!
I had ordered the succulent baked chicken breast, kipflers with bacon and thyme, garden greens, chicken jus
Hubbie had ordered the 250gm grass fed scotch fillet, dauphine fat chips, baby sprouts with Portobello, béarnaise
And Baby girl had the pleasure of her all-time fave dish… pasta
Spiral pasta with bolognaise sauce
(Oh woe is me. Back to the time where baby girl actually had sauce with her pasta).
Baby girl happily lapped up her pasta while she watched other children playing with toys on youtube. Of course.
Hubbie was pleased with his steak and how it was cooked, but questioned whether it was in fact, 250gm… otherwise he enjoyed it, yet he left behind a fat chip for me to enjoy… oh my. It was thick and creamy, and all I can say is dauphine chips are the BOMB. They were that GOOD.
Crisp potato puff… mmmmm.
And I loved my meal. It was comforting and warm, the chicken was most certainly succulent, and the jus? Amazing. I dragged my vegies and chicken ALL through the jus, trying my best to soak up every last drop. Yum.
We were very content, but what is a special occasion without dessert? We had spent a good deal of the past month hibernating, accepting and allowing the cold to pass, and also hoping that once that most-coldest of cold seasons was over, baby girl would also be more mature, and happily sit with us as we dined out throughout the Peninsula, ALL through Spring and Summer.
She is well-acquainted with the phone though, so…. say what you like. We were ALL happy then.
We ordered coffees too, and then it all started to arrive:
I had a cap, while Hubbie had a STRONG, heart-shaped latte:
Baby girl had a babycino accompany her kids dessert, which consisted of vanilla ice cream, chocolate cake, marshmallows and snakes
Hubbie ordered the Passionfruit tart, burnt meringue, coulis, clotted cream
And I had Jo’s stunning chocolate mousse cake, pistachio crunch, two types of raspberry
Firstly, can I say, when I hear the words ‘chocolate mousse’ my head almost swivels Exorcist-style. True story. I enjoyed the light, yet decadent mousse component, and the base was most definitely crunchy… not sure if the combination worked completely, I understood the textures being in contrast to one another… but sometimes you just need some cream alongside your chocolate-whatever. I appreciated it nonetheless. I had to bypass my 3 raspberries sitting a-pretty on top, ever since that fateful day when I ate a whole punnet of raspberries one night, and then felt a bit awkward and uncomfortable, went to the loo, and promptly threw up the whole thing. I then proceeded to feeling better instantly, and the incident was so bizarre I actually question whether it in fact happened or I just dreamt it all…
But I think, I have developed some kind of aversion to raspberries, or whatever thing it is inside them that irritates my stomach. I would have risked the 3 if we hadn’t had any other plans that day… but we did have plans, and I wasn’t going to ignore history/a bad dream and risk running to the bathroom.
Hubbie thought his passionfruit tart was ok… I think he is not a tart-y, or burnt meringue kinda guy, just saying. He is also an incredibly fussy guy. Just saying.
Baby girl enjoyed mixing every component of her dessert together until it developed into a gooey creamy mess, but funnily enough did not like the marshmallows then (she LOVES marshmallows) and until I tried one, I realised why – they were incredibly cold, either from the ice cream proximity, or what I believe, sitting in a fridge for a while? I otherwise thought it the perfect dessert for a child, just a colourful combination of bright and simple sweet things that children love.
We were now very full, with the added assistance of our caffeine hits, and decided it was time to pay.
Outside the rain had ceased, and now the sun glared down from in-between the clouds. Hubbie and baby girl ran around the yard, mucking about… and then it was time to go.
Food: 8/10. I loved my chicken, and other components were amazing too. I would love to go there when there is not a set menu, to see how they go preparing and cooking food ‘on the fly.’
Coffee: 7.5/10. It was pleasant, not too strong, and smooth.
Ambience: Incredibly cosy. Honestly, I felt a bit like I was at my uncle’s old house down Warburton way. The abundant wood and fireplace gave it a real homely feel, and seeing the greenery and trees throughout the windows linked us to the outside, making it feel quite idyllic, and very appropriate, for a winery.
People: Being such a family day, there were families of all kinds EVERYWHERE. Young families, old families, families with extended family, smaller intimate families, and many kids too, which was further testament to the review I had read online.
Staff: They were incredibly attentive, polite and friendly, really fine service.
Price: $161. This consisted of mine and Hubbie’s 2 course set menus – both at $60 a head. Baby girl’s set 3 course meal was $29.50. Throw in some home-grown alcoholic drinks, coffees, and voila. Price is justified. Or is it? I think baby girl’s set price was on the upside… and if you break down each of our main and dessert meals to $30 each, I think it is STILL too high. But it is a winery, and so, you reach out into your handbag and pull out the dough (or in my case, the Eftpos card).
Advice: Maybe on weekends it would be best to call ahead in case they are busy, however there was an ample amount of seating in many areas, and they were all covered, so risking it shouldn’t do too much damage either.
In a nutshell: Although it was pricey, and Hubbie didn’t rave about his main meal, he absolutely loved the winery, and the beer. I too love the entire place. Being not too far from our house, with Spring on our doorstep (any day now Melbourne weather), we will definitely come back again. We’ve already planned to sit somewhere outside, in the afternoon sunshine, sipping on some lovely local produce and gazing at the views and water up ahead, while baby girl just RUNS with glee.
From the moment we discovered this little corner café, an awfully convenient, 5-10 minute WALK from our house, and saw its back-street, hidden, beach/park side location potential… we were excited.
You see, we had always longed to move to a place that was within walking distance to a café. At one point during our real estate search, we even tried searching in relation to how close some houses were to nearby cafes. Our wish for good food, great coffee, and friendly/casual convo with café staff over stupid Melbourne weather, within walking distance from our ideal home, was a high priority.
Somehow that all got lost and a bit forgotten when we saw the beach views of our now home. I did have a quick google search at one stage for nearby cafes, but I mustn’t have searched too well…
Later though, once we had moved, a common name kept popping up on my Google maps.
So on our first walk, we ‘flocked’ there.
And said “My, Mofo, we’ve done it. We’ve got the freaking café within walking distance.”
And we hadn’t even known it.
And we hadn’t even eaten or had coffee there yet. (Now I’m beginning to sound like Bana’s Chopper Read…)
On our first opportunity, we went over to fulfil our café destiny.
We had to drive though, not walk. It was a cold, windy day, rain threatening to spill at any moment. So we rugged up, and walked into the small, intimate café, weaving around tables and chairs and finding our seats at one end of the medium-sized communal table in the middle of Flock café.
There were people sitting all about, but of course it was full what with the tiny space the café occupies. They were so clearly locals, that for us recent newbies on the block, I felt like putting the disclaimer ‘don’t shoot us, we’re not from out of town!’ on my forehead. Instead I stuck my head in a menu on the table and then went up to order and pay once we knew what we wanted.
Hubbie started the ball rolling with a necessary flat white
… while I looked on in envy. I waited for his verdict. He nodded. The coffee was good.
Soon we all received our meals. Baby girl with her 7 Grain Organic Sourdough with vegemite and butter
Hubbie with his Breakfast Roll w’ smashed eggs, bacon, swiss cheese, roquette & tomato jam
And my Shakshouka Baked Eggs w’ organic ciabatta
Baby girl got really excited when she saw the vegemite, thinking it was Nutella from when we last had breakfast out atThe Winey Cow… so excited that she dipped her finger in it, got a huge lob of black stuff and put it straight in her mouth.
A second later, and her face didn’t paint an impressed picture. Classic yankee mistake.
So, after I cleaned her up, and applied her spreads on her bread, she went on to eat. It wasn’t the sweet stuff, but she ate it. Again, the hard crust. I trust the sourdough bread is unreal and super-healthy, but sometimes for kids, or generally for people who don’t wish to cut their gums on hard-toasted crust, a softer bread variety will do. Anyhow.
Hubbie said his breakfast burger did the job, it was ok, but it wasn’t anything that left him wanting or dreaming of future breakfast burgers there.
I had been thinking of baked eggs for several weeks, so I was really happy to order a meal like this. It was good, perhaps not my best baked eggs/shakshouka meal I’ve EVER had, but it was good. It was extremely saucy, with many peppers/capsicum within the little ceramic hot pot of baked egg goodness.
By this stage, the corner café was rocking. There were people coming in at an ongoing rate, both newbies trying to cram in for a seat since the weather outside was not beckoning people to sit on the outdoor chairs, and also from locals in trakky-pants dropping in for their usual coffee and toastie order.
After ordering some drinks, we waited a while more before we got our babycino and cappuccino.
Baby girl scoffed her marshmallows, while I carefully pondered my first sip of coffee. This was the dealbreaker. Would the coffee be good enough to make it a local? The food was good, but only, if only, the coffee were great. Hell, we were so desperate for a local café to call a home away from home, and this one with a convenient park/beach locale, had us even happy with a half-decent coffee. That’s all it needed to be, half-decent.
Dum, da dum dum.
And it was…
It was truly, very, very,very good coffee. It was ultra-smooth, with a swift caffeine kick. I realised in awe, and verbalised to Hubbie, how rare it is to find a very smooth, yet very strong coffee. This was both. I was rapt.
I was so rapt, I talked about it all the way to the shops. The caffeine had surely kicked in, and the realisation it was our now-local had me high as a kite.
Food: 7/10. It was good for a corner café. They have some other interesting menu options that I’m wanting to try in the near future. We also took-away some Nutella and jam doughnuts, courtesy of the locals Chocolat that bake off of the Main street… OMG. Is it possible that there is a doughnut as good as the famousdonutella, that rules the roost back in our old neck of the woods?! WOW. Head on over to both Flock and Chocolat to try these babies out.
Coffee: Can you believe… no I can’t. 10/10. Yep. Currently up there on my leader board of best coffees, alongside caffeine greats such as that inFarm Vigano, Dark Rye in Westfield Doncaster, Story at Docklands, and also recently Mercetta on the Main street in Mornington. I really need to start another page on my SmikG site, stay tuned…
The above was my true and honest verdict as of the first two times we had coffee there… and unfortunately, on every other visit there, the coffee has been bitter/burnt/tasteless. It has been really upsetting and confusing, and even stopped us from going there for a long while – because if the coffee ain’t good, it just ain’t worth it.
However, because I am so damn eager to make this work, I still go there occasionally, and the nearby park for baby girl makes it difficult to ignore too. And happily, on the last visit, it wasn’t that bad… the coffee was actually good! I have no idea if this has anything to do with the fact that the café itself was up for sale quite recently, and if indeed there may be different owners/managers/baristas there… but I will keep trying, damn it.
For that reason, I can’t score this one. You make up your own mind.
Ambience: Cosy, corner café. Relaxing, charming, and all-encompassing of the beautiful surroundings when the weather is fine and their windows are WIDE OPEN.
Staff: Friendly, and they took the time out to greet us and thank us for coming at the end, despite how busy they were. This is a well-oiled, professional and friendly machine folks.
People: Locals, as I’ve already mentioned, that consisted of some older folk, bike dudes, a gaggle of 20 something girls catching up for brekkie, and random’s dropping in wearing their PJs and wiping the sleep from their eyes. I love it.
Price: It was about $60, but keep in mind we also got some takeaway doughnuts, which means the price would have been much less… price-wise for what you get, you get a lot, so in that respect it is well-priced… however I also think what you get, accurately portrays what you pay… capiche?
Advice: If you’re not a local, do not go there. Please just stay away. It is MY local. Mine and the neighbouring residents of Dava Drive. That is all. Just live vicariously through me, and go have brekkie and coffee on the Main street. Go on… what are you waiting for?
In a nutshell: Well, we’ve found our local haven’t we… or have we? The food is great, the coffee is mmm-hmmm undecided, however I can just see an endless amount of sunshiny days where I am sitting in the café, or taking coffee away to go to the park with baby girl, or walking it over to the beach, or simply dropping in to grab some doughnuts because they are way closer to us than Chocolat… I hope. I sooo hope. (Clutching at straws much?)
It hit me one Saturday morning during a work shift, as I left the warm confines of my place of employment to walk down the road and grab a coffee. Feeling that fresh air, that Winter chill on my face, reminded me of the time I felt it last year, and suddenly I was down memory lane, remembering the things about Winter you choose so hard to forget when it is done and dusted for the year.
So, then, I tried harder to remember. What fascinates me about this time of year, is that once it is upon us, it’s actually not that bad. It’s the anticipation of it – that is the shits, and one of the major factors of making the entire season that much more unbearable.
Hey, calm down… I’m not like, a ‘Winter ambassador’ or something! I am the first to put up my hand and forge ahead with the get-rid-of-Winter fan club. I wouldn’t say I HATE it, since that is a strong word, that I HATE to use (see what I did there?) but I do in fact, detest the coldest of seasons to a degree that once the longest day has come and gone in January, I am in slow grief over the gradual dissemination of Summer.
But like I said above: it ain’t too bad. I’ve been most surprised by my own attitude towards it, in finding that there are actually plenty of great things to enjoy, and celebrate, about the coldest time of the year! You don’t say!Let me hear it! Well ok then, here is my list of things to get your blood boiling…
(And don’t fret, this isn’t one of those bullshit ‘buy a really good coat and scarves’ nonsense post. We all know that we need more than layers to make up for the fact of Winter, duh).
1. But First, Coffee.
And so one of my fave coffee quotes signals the beginning of this Winter Warm-up list. When else to drink, and enjoy coffee most, than in Winter? Not only does the caffeine hit give you a burst of much needed non-hibernating energy, but it is WARM, and therefore, heats you up from the inside-out. This is a super simple and accessible way to keep you happy, buzzing and hot, ALL DAY LONG. Make it at home, or buy it out and about… really, this one is a no-brainer.
2. To café, OR, to café…
And, how to get to your hot coffee? Why, you enter a café of course. Just picture it: you are in the freezing winds, walking briskly to your café of choice so as to remove yourself from the unnerving elements, when you finally, step inside, and –
Ahhh. That moment.
You know that moment, when the feeling of cold is replaced by the scent of coffee beans, and you are away from the outdoors, but can still see everything including all the fools still stuck out in the real world? And you’re ‘in here?’ and about to get a coffee? Yeah that’s great. Café-ing it, not just for coffee, but for anything in Winter – be it brekkie, lunch or any other fare – is a beautiful way to while away the day. Choose a good one, a cosy spot, and watch the world go by… just see if you don’t feel better about Winter when you put yourself in this supreme predicament…
3. Walk This Way…
On a contradictory note, on those cold and still Wintery days, sometimes it can be somewhat, what is the word, rejuvenating! to take a nice long walk.
Yes, the air can be biting. Yes, the cold will still seep through your clothes. But there’s something about a fresh, freezing-cold walk that awakens the senses, both physical and mental, as it is often when I am walking in the cold that my creative mind is switched on. I don’t know why, but a brisk walk in Winter allows me to daydream and plan for any future blog posts (how this one came about) much more efficiently than in Summer. Maybe it’s the fact that other than getting into a heated area immediately, there is no other thought trying to take up head space like it does in Summer, where I would be planning future events and social gatherings, and the things I’ll be doing for the next 3 weekends. In Winter, it’s just Winter, and my creative thoughts are allowed to fly beside the recurring thought of ‘get inside.’
I don’t like to be in the cold, and yet a walk like this brings about a whimsical dreamlike effect to my walk, where I find myself observing, being in the moment, and smiling often. I’m not wishing myself out of this hellhole, I’m just smiling. I’m not trying to prove a point… Next.
4. Stay IN
Although I absolutely love Summer, there is one thing that gets tiring by the end of the season: the constant go-go-go. Summer makes you feel like you have to be super-efficient and on top of the world, heading to every social event, enjoying every ounce of sunshine, waking at the crack of dawn, and starting a new body-building course when you’re not preparing your new gluten-free, dairy-free, animal-free, everything of any joy or texture or enjoyment-free diet. It is FULL on.
But Winter allows you to just chill. Hibernate like a bear, and in doing so, drink all the hot chocolate/tea/coffee before doing so. If there is any season where you should feel the least guilt about doing nothing, and where you should completely and utterly embrace the act of doing absolutely nothing, it is Winter. It’s okay, you will be at it again in a couple of months time…
5. Pimp up your home
But, if you absolutely HAVE to, you could always forgo sitting around and chilling on the couch, with doing something around the house. Just as our sanity and ‘me time’ gets neglected in Summer, so too does the house, and house ‘stuff.’ You know those odd jobs. The broken door handle. The 3rd light bulb that has been burnt out in the lounge room for 4 months. The pile of boxes that hasn’t been broken down into pieces. That heap of junk in your garage that you know a charity would love, but alas, Summer time.
In Winter, it is ALL possible. Case in point. We had bought new door handles from Bunnings to replace our old ones, as we wanted to spruce up the 80s-style house we had recently moved into. They remained untouched for months and months, ALL THROUGH SUMMER, and it was only when the cold hit, that Hubbie finally started replacing them.
Winter is the best time to look outward-in. Look around you and see what needs a little TLC, and then proceed accordingly. Home improvements, up-dos, renos – whatever it is, you will feel soooo much better for it, and not at all like a lazy bear once you are done.
6. Go OCD, mofos
And for those of you like me, that love to sort and clean and organise… well, what are you waiting for? Use these cold months to file away. File to your freaking hearts content. Label and shelve and box. Store those photos in chronological order, organise your home family videos, and clean up your menu folder so that you don’t have crappy old recipes in there that you won’t even sniff at again. There is no better feeling then tackling a long, put-off job, and I swear, as Winter ends and Spring begins, the sense of accomplishment you feel in knowing everything is sorted and ready for another season/year… GOLD. GO you OCD peeps, GO!
Ok, so this is kinda parent-specific. But, you don’t need to be a recently-acquired trampoline owner for a cheeky monkey princess like I have, to jump. You probably do need a child of some kind, so if you don’t have any of your own, borrow one – like you probably have a niece, or nephew, or know someone who would LOVE for you to kindly offer their brood a day out? (You will be on their Christmas card list FOREVER, I promise you).
But my point is, be childlike. Jumping is not only fun, good for you, and is healthy (hey, exercise), but it warms you up too! And if you think jumping is only for kids – 20 seconds on the thing and you will remember what a jumping extraordinaire you used to be 20 or so years ago… and then it will be the kid trying to get you off the trampoline, not you, them.
(Hubbie going wild with baby girl)
8. A good book
So, a no-brainer. Totally. But when else is it more acceptable and necessary to snuggle up with a book and lose yourself within its pages? Never, ever, EVER. Even on holiday, you should be doing things and seeing things, but at home, in Winter? Perfect reading weather.
Whether it’s at home, on your lunch break, or on the train, waiting for your doctors appointment (that brisk walk/jumping probably gave you a little cough, ahem*) or at the park while the kiddies play, there is really no better time to invest in a good book.
So a totally acceptable place to read is in bed, but if you’d rather not even do that, you can just sleep. I know this is such a ‘Duh, Fred’ point, but still, it HAS TO be said. Fred.
Sleep ’til your big hearts content. Of course this is totally dependant on whether you have a paying job or go to regular schooling (most of the Western population), but in your down time, this is a perfectly acceptable hobby. Yep. Even if you have kids that don’t let you breathe, just pull them in, throw a blanket over your heads, and once the hilarities have died down, watch them fall into a slumber. You will be there too soon, don’t worry.
Sleep on the bed, sleep on the couch… wherever you wish. Just make sure it’s comfy and inviting, there are plenty of blankets, and a real nice place to rest your head. Ahhhh.
10. Shop ’til you Drop
Let’s change tack and ramp it up a little, to my favourite past-time! Like seriously, how annoying is it in Summer, when you need some new clothes/shoes/pillows/coffee beans, and you head into the confines of a multi-level shopping centre, but it’s a stunning, and I mean STUNNING day out? You don’t want to miss out on that, and stay indoors most of the day? This is so especially true for us Melburnians, as sunshine, even in Summer of all seasons, can be soooo fleeting.
But in Winter? Hell, bring the shopping on! You won’t miss out on ANYTHING because its so cold and miserable out! YAY. Shop to your hearts content, in fact, shop for all seasons, and stay ahead of the pack.
How miserable is the above photo? Okay well it is oddly pretty in the dim light, but you know what I mean… I am not really missing out. It’s taken from my work window… do I wanna go outside? Hell no!
Work is actually not too bad, and you can almost be grateful to be in the confines of work, when it is so shit-faced outside. You will never be sad being at work during Winter, unless of course you had to get up at 5am like me, and are staring out the kitchen window at 7am thinking of Hubbie and baby girl asleep and warm in bed… damn.
TRY to be grateful for work while you can, in Winter, at the very least.
12. Let’s go to the beach
Your welcome. Ok so maybe not Summer-thumping-beach-vibes weather at the mo, but you know where I’m headed.
This may be a bit left-of-centre for some, but for me being fortunate enough to live BY the beach, not so. But either way, a trip to the beach is for most in our fair country, accessible and do-able.
Why should you do it, you cry? Cold, winds, uninviting waters…
What do you think? I’m not telling you to jump in. No, hell no. I’m just saying that the ocean views bring about a sense of calmness, of peace, of reflection, and retrospection, and the waters don’t even have to be still and unrippled. No. They are in fact most beautiful and spectacular when they are savage, wild and unleashed, ripping against the shore or pier or rocks, and showing you the brutal nature of Mother Earth herself.
Rug up and try it. See how your mind feels afterwards.
13. Do something NEW
While you’re out and about at the beach, how’s about you keep trying new things, and enrol in a course of some kind. (Like not literally walk down the road, just think about it). Is there something you’ve always wanted to do? Like maybe, learn a new language? Try your hand at some knitting? Learn how to cook like a chef? Drive a manual car? For some creative pursuits, you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your own home – just log in and you’re connected.
Doing something you’ve been wanting to do for a while is not just fulfilling, as you are catering to yours truly, yourself, but you are putting yourself out there in a vulnerable position. Only when you are vulnerable, can you really learn anything. Since everything is on the down-low in Winter, there is no time like the present to focus in on yourself, and give something new a go. Time to study, reflect on where you want to go in life, and centre yourself both spiritually and mentally, is the perfect cold-time creative pursuit. Just try. You won’t lose a thing.
14. Cook up a storm!
While doing something new, you may want to try your hand at some new recipes.. or old, whatever tickles your fancy. But what I love about this coldest of seasons, is the deliciously warm dishes to match. Or should I say, warm you right up. Whether it be a vegetable curry
a cauliflower soup
or some yummy baked goods
there is nothing quite so inviting on a cold Winter’s night, than to indulge in warming, delicious and comforting, Winter-specific foods. Slow-cooked meals, lasagnes, roasts… the list goes on and onand on. And the upside? When you are buying Winter-y things like cauliflower for your soup, you are buying in season, so it is cheaper! Winning 🙂 Go foodie mad.
15. Catch up with some old ‘friends’
Now, I don’t mean ACTUAL friends, and boy would it be appropriate here if I actually loved the show of the same name. Instead I’m talking of your movies and your DVD box sets. Plop yourself in a comfy place, and get ‘re-acquainted.’ I feel forever-guilty whenever I sit on the couch – I always feel like I should be doing something more worthy, more important, and being a Mum makes the feelings more so. This is an activity I rarely indulge in.
But this Winter, I am really going to take it on board… and what better way to feel better about the blowing winds outside, than to be laughing/crying/hysterically shaking, over the antics of some old faves.
You don’t even have to have the DVDs. Shows like Sex and the City are on repeat on TV, there are streaming devices, and have you heard of Netflix? People even ‘download’… I’m not condoning it, I’m just saying, ok?
It’s never been easier to catch up with, or watch a brand new series to get stuck into. Need tips? Some of my old faves:
Angel. An amazing series that is 5 seasons long, and is totally worth investing your life into. Get ready to have your soul literally ripped apart, thanks Joss Whedon (no really, thank you!)
Dawson’s Creek is actually on free-to-air Go! at the moment. My face when I realised this? Bliss 🙂 I know it’s a teenage show, but it’s one of my ol’ faithfuls, and besides, the actors were probably my age when they filmed it, so….
my current must-watch on TV, Shark Tank. This is splendid in every way. Seeing the investors rip through and tear to shreds some of the up-and-coming entrepreneurs and inventors, is just brilliant. You must watch this show.
So grab a warm drink, snuggle up on the couch (child or partner is optional) and chill-ax….
16. Bust a move.
Exercise. I know I know, it’s not bikini time, and it’s probably the only time of the year when there is no pressure to be beach-ready… but it doesn’t mean you can’t devote time to yourself to be healthy.
Still not sold? You don’t even have to leave the house. There are a world of gyms, gym classes, personal trainers, and get-fit programmes out there, and there as just as many exercise DVDs! Find what tickles your fancy, and do it in the privacy of your own home.
Do as I do, and pop on some trakkies, put on that old Zumba DVD, and get dancing! Exercise gets you going and warms you up at a time when it is so easy to be sluggish and sloth-like. And you know what I was so surprised to find? Even one session a week (baby steps) has given me increased flexibility and energy to run after a certain 3 year-old rascal. True story.
17. A ‘warming’ drink
I couldn’t bulk ‘warm drinks’ with ‘coffee,’ as coffee is just too damn important to me to be watered down like that… but I conclude with the option, that if you don’t like coffee, maybe tea is more your fancy?
Or maybe a spicy chai latte can rub you totally up the right way
No? Vino? There’s nothing like a good glass of red to get the fires burning
Wanna get more creative? I give you, a combination of the last two options, Gluhwein…
Which is German Mulled Wine. It’s a whole lot of fabulous spices and wine/alcohol, warmed up, and you will create some GREAT memories in the making and drinking of it, let me assure you.
If you can’t be happy with a glass of wine/mug of tea/brew of gluhwein, while the winds are raging outside your window, well then YOU CAN’T BE SAVED!
So, how did I go? Have I given you renewed (or maybe just NEW) inspiration to totally LOVE Winter? We may be about half-way through the coldest of seasons, but living in Melbourne, we ALL KNOW it’s going to totally screw us up right up ’til November,if we’re lucky.
So guys. Pick a point and get to it. If you think I’ve left anything out, drop me a line!
“How do I intensely dislikethee July? Let me count the ways.”
My Mum was told she would have to have an operation.
Then she was told she doesn’t have to have an operation, but she was nonetheless stressed beyond belief with the recognition that her life had to change.
Because of her health and this life change, everyone’s lives have now been impacted, including mine, Hubbie’s and baby girl’s, and she and my Dad cannot babysit baby girl when I go to work.
Because they cannot babysit anymore, my babysitting arrangements have had to drastically change and now I am stressed beyond belief over how she will cope.
I feel like I have lost a part of my parents.
On another note, I had a major repair to my new car! Hooray!
It’s still not 100%.
I have been sick.
Baby girl has been sick.
Hubbie is still sick.
Baby girl has developed some kind of ear ache that flairs up whenever it wants to, as a side effect of her cold.
It has been really cold.
I am cramping at this moment at 10:17pm July 31st mother f*&ker.
I have had many decent cries and sobs this month, including tonight.
I have heard of two relationships ending this month, both long-term serious ones, and one of them involved children.
Other people I know have had issues with personal stuff and their family life, so its not just me folks. I think the planets were screwing with us all this month.
I actually think I’ve forgotten stuff, but this is just the initial list that springs to mind. By highlighting all this July-crap, I have in effect reversed the efforts of my carcrashgratitude blog, where I have also written about the crapola month that has been July.
Funny writing about something that’s annoying you as an item of gratitude, right?
It was cold. I was sick. The day had been long, but now I was headed home.
Life throws obstacles at you, life is not smooth.
I walked quickly, shoulders hunched, trying to turn my body into itself to shield myself from the cold. There was not much wind, but nonetheless, it hit me on every available bit of exposed skin: face, ears, hands.
No matter how fast you try to speed things up, things will come at you. Don’t let them stop you. Keep moving on, moving on. Don’t let them stop you.
I pulled my woolly scarf over and around my ears, burying my mouth into it so as not to intake the sharp Winter air.
You will need to use all your resources and depend on your closest crew to help you get by. Have them on call for a word of support, and make sure that those that surround you will only give you that. You may find you only have one, two, if you’re lucky three people like this. You’re rich already, that’s perfect.
I shoved my hands into my coat pockets trying to temporarily shield them.
You will need to dig deep to find that ‘thing’ within you: passion? belief? truth? courage? inspiration? determination? ALL OF THE ABOVE.
It’s so cold, it’s so cold… no it’s ok, it’s ok, one step closer, one step closer, each step is bringing me closer to my destination…
You will be tired, and hungry, and maybe even cold, but you must not lose sight of the bigger picture. You must not forget why you started. Why did you start? Don’t give up. Each step, each setback, each failure, is bringing you closer to where you want to go.
I get to my car, and sink into the seat with a sigh. Ahh. Finally. I’m here.
When you get to your destination, use whatever creative release to celebrate. You have made it.