What is the deal with February anyway?

What is it, with a date? Or even, a time of year?

I came to realise months ago that there was some peculiar, truly funny business concerning a certain month, and in particular often, a number.

The offending number was 27.

And the all-encompassing offensive month was February.

Specifically, February 27.

Because you see, on that date, a few things happened. Well, this year one BIG thing happened, but then it reminded me of other like things, and soon I was scratching my head and looking up at the planets and asking ‘what the?’

Was it a cyclical phase? Were the planets aligned a certain way the same time each year, making certain life-changing events happen? Was it coincidence (of which I don’t believe anything of…)

Chance? Hmmm…. nah.

Let me divulge.

I received a phone call on February 27. It was in the afternoon, from an unknown mobile number.

From my bosses, bosses, BOSS.

It was my great grand-daddy of bosses. Immediately, without even being in my industry, well, being a person of any workplace or industry… this was NOT a good sign.

I immediately thought to myself amidst the shock of it all, “some heavy shit is going down.”

I imagined bosses getting sacked.

A huge weather disaster.

A terrorist attack on our work building (I am not even kidding).

But as he began to speak, I started to see where he was headed…

What he said meant major changes NOT just for me, but for me and practically every person I knew and worked with and came into contact with in my daily work operations.

We, and I, were being given notice, of a more than likely redundancy in a years time.

I was in absolute and profound shock. I somehow managed to string some words together and sound somewhat professional talking to this grand-daddy of bosses. He expressed his need to talk to all involved, even if they weren’t at work that day when the news bomb had dropped. It was a hardening business, the industry was changing, and in doing so they were downsizing and moving on over interstate to help themselves, economically speaking.

I remember sitting with baby girl only minutes after the call ended. She kept asking that I play with her dolls. I sat on the floor with her, holding up some barbie doll, it could have been Ana, Elsa, Ariel, hell it could have been all of them for all I know. All I remember though, were the whirling thoughts in my head, the shock, the getting to grips with things. The adjustment. The profound sadness for myself and all of our team.

The acknowledgment, that this good thing, was coming to an end.

It wouldn’t be for another year. They didn’t know when the official move and migration would happen… at this stage, all we had was indicators, and we were given lengthy notice to help us in this massive change of our lives.

And we had known for a while. We knew this was coming. My favourite phrase was “if we’re all still here in 5 years, we’re VERY lucky…”

We weren’t lucky anymore.

And as I sat there, my mind bursting with all of this new information, I remembered something.

Something from that morning. Something that wasn’t shocking. Rather, something that had made me smile.

Because it had been a facebook memory.

You know how facebook reminds you of something you posted years ago, and it will say “on this day X years ago…”

Well I got one of those that morning. I got a “On this day 5 years ago…” and saw with absolute delight that February 27 had been the day I had made my birth announcement on facebook, that I was expecting baby girl. I didn’t share the memory again, instead I opened up the photo, remembered the comments, smiled so hard at the joy expressed from family and friends, and reminisced about a major and truly important milestone of our lives.

From Feb 27 2013. And on that day, Feb 27 2018, I was getting made redundant… soon.

But no, that wasn’t even ALL. Because the previous year, I had walked into the family room with baby girl at the start of the day, and upon opening the blinds, felt it odd I could only hear…

ONE BIRD.

We had two then. We had our trusty and loyal male cockatiel who had been with us for well over a decade. He had been hand-reared by both myself and Hubbie, and had travelled through houses near and far to be with us.

The other one was an Indian ringneck, recently given to us by some family members who could not give the bird the attention it deserved in light of them having had a baby recently.

Then, our cockatiel had been with us for about 15 years – the Indian ringneck, 6 months.

Both males. Yet both so different. The ringneck was cheeky and clever.

A dangerous combination. Because that morning as I decided it was all too weird that I could see one bird from the side view of his cage, yet I could not see the other, I decided to open the back door and take a closer look…

I gasped when I stuck my head out. The cage door was ajar.

The ringneck had escaped!

Feb 27 was whirling in my head. What? A Feb 27 incident from this year, last year, 5 years ago, and that wasn’t even the entire list of everything that had ever happened in February.

2 years ago I had had an accident, literally 20 minutes after jumping in to drive my new car. 20 minutes. My new car. Out of nowhere. This upsetting event was the precursor to my carcrashgratitude site being born.

And then 6 years ago in February, we found out a family member had a terminal illness. The ending wasn’t happy.

I couldn’t believe the insane symmetry of it all as I sat on the carpeted floor alongside baby girl. It was just too much. It couldn’t be a coincidence. Though one event was a happy one, the others were generally upsetting, with another one a shock, but one common theme threaded them all together…

They all indicated CHANGE. Whether the change was good, bad, or just a new adjustment. A learning curve. All these events brought with it major change and adjustment, a different way of coping or looking at life, of trying to deal, and grow in amongst much uncertainty around us.

An illness change – Someone passed away and it gave us an important life lesson in life and death.

A pregnancy change – The most beautiful life change you can get, that equally drives you insane as it does heap rewards on you.

A car accident change – It sent us on a spiral but I started my carcrashgratitude blog, a personal exercise in writing daily and finding gratitude in each day and in everything. 

A bird disappearing change – Some things are just there in your life for quite literally, a season.

And now, seemingly a career change – to be continued…

It must be planetary, there must be something above us making the same wheels turn again and again at the same time of year. I don’t understand it, though I don’t think I am meant to. I think I am just meant to do what I always do.

ADJUST.

And I have. I have had a long time to get used to my new adjustment. My new work change. I haven’t been able to talk about it though, and I don’t know why. Very few people know, and for some reason the words to talk about it can’t seem to find their way out of my mouth…

I think it is because saying it out loud, makes it more real. It means it is actually happening. Sure, it is about the only topic we talk about while at work, but away from work, when it becomes spoken of, well… then it becomes MORE real.

And when it is more real, you know what else will come?

“What are you going to do?”

And that is the clincher. I don’t know what I’m going to do next. I have a million ideas. But I just don’t know where to turn to. And it is this unknowing that has me holding back.

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Roman Bozhko at Unsplash

 

 

 

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My own worst enemy

There is someone close to me. This person, I love very dearly.

And yet this person, frustrates me with their immaturity. Because when life doesn’t go to plan, they sulk.

It’s a tad annoying. I mean, Life… ups and downs, right?

This person, as wonderful as they are, gets really down and out about themselves and everything when things aren’t happening to them. Other people may be moving house, buying a car, going on a holiday, or even just going out to brunch every weekend, and this person, just can’t take the joy of it, because something positive isn’t also consequently happening to them.

This person, who I shall name X (to reduce the incidence of constantly repeating ‘this person,’ and also avoid accidentally giving away the gender) was in a fairly stagnant and stationary period for a while. They had gone through a wonderful time before that, where ALL the attention was on them. But then came upon that ‘desert phase,’ you know the one –  where the wind blows the tumbleweeds around them, and they watch idly while others are on horses playing cowboys and Indians and going to bars to drink or shoot people, or meet Clint Eastwood or even John Wayne. Yep, even John Wayne.

And they are standing there idly. It’s a stage that happens to us ALL.

It was a bit difficult to watch. I really wanted to put my two cents in and offer some words of comfort. We had been in that very same phase before moving house. We were standing there at parties, all the while people were all excited and super-interesting in their life plans and goals, and meanwhile –

  • we had bought a new car which had just been hit
  • we wanted to Sea change and had no idea if we could do it (or afford it)
  • toddler stages were FUN! (super-sarcastic here)
  • and I was still, for the 4th year in a row, top-secret on my writing projects. So when people asked me/us “what’s new?”

We were all tight-lipped with that face-planted smile of “nothing much.”

Life goes up, Life goes down. Sometimes, things don’t go to plan. Sometimes, you are embarrassed with events that have occurred. Other times, it is boring as batshit.

A lot of the time, in any of the above circumstances, you don’t want to say a thing, because you are frustrated.

But we are adults here. We don’t sulk.

So on one night, when I offered up this piece of enlightening advice to X “I know, I’ve been there, everything is happening to everyone except you,” I got the most sullen of stares.

I felt like gently saying “Grow up.”

We don’t always have things happening to us.

We don’t always have the attention on us.

We aren’t always the star of the show.

Up and down, up and down.

And now to Me. The last few months I’ve been stressed for a manner of things. I’ve come to grow accepting of many of these annoying issues, or find ways around my stress, but it has been trying. When many facets of your life bring you down at once, it is hard to practice at positivity…

I was trying really hard to get into a regular exercise routine. I was seeing all these perfect bodies on facebook, these Mums who have gone from pregnancy flab to post baby FABULOUS, and looking all trim and taut with their sculpted tummies, while I just felt like a pile of shit. Lack of time to exercise properly, with a girl that constantly demands attention of me, made me feel worse about the situation. I can only manage what I can, and even that isn’t too much.

I was falling very behind in my writings. I started to question how beneficial my blogs were, when the main reason for starting these, creating an online Writing presence… well it didn’t mean squat when I had completely stalled on my creative endeavour to get published with my young adult book which I hadn’t added to in months and months! I was taking on and writing more than I could keep up with, and I started to wonder whether any of these writing tasks, I just had to give up on.

You know it’s a bleak day when you consider giving up a passion of yours. When you ask yourself “what is the point?”

And then there were the comparisons. Here I was, all this time, quietly plugging away at my passion, and then boom! This person has their work published! boom! And this person gets recognised with a new blog (and I didn’t even know they were inclined to write)… boom! more literary success from yet another person!

And then there I was, grinning… in stupefied shock.

What about me?

Don’t get me wrong, I am all about abundance. I am ABUNDANCE-CITY. I know there is enough love, and success, and happiness and all that wonderful jazz, for everyone in this entire world. I truly believe that. And yet, when I heard all these people, both who I had known wrote, and others who I had no idea were even interested in the task, were experiencing success both on small and large scales, a little part of me went

“When will it be my turn?”

It was really hard to swallow.

And now, the clincher… where I expose more than I ever planned to. Because I’m super secretive about some things, where with others I blab for the world to see.

Because I’m a contradiction that way. But I feel like I need to write this down, for some unknown, possibly therapeutic reason, and then I may never repeat it again…

Because I just found out that Wills and Kate are expecting their third child… and I was downright devastated.

And I don’t think I need to clarify why.

And in all of these cases, I have found it really hard. Really hard to just move on. Really hard to just be accepting of the hardships that life throws at us. Really hard to stay positive.

Really hard to NOT SULK. Because I have. On a zillion occasions. Including right now in fact.

I may not do it outwardly, but boy oh boy have I sulked. And pouted my lips. Asked “why?” a million times. And now I just might cry again, and I think, that’s ok.

Because I realised that I am my own worst enemy. Here I was, judging X for being all sulky and cranky-pants over life not going to plan, and once I started to get the same, I reverted to the same old behaviours.

X and I might as well be the same person. Maybe we are all the same people.

I have no answers, I have no solutions. Sure I should stay positive, or keep on moving on, as I always say. I should toughen up, yet also I think unless you are in something, you don’t really know how crap or annoying it feels to be in it.

And as for X? Xs ‘down time’ has since passed, and they are currently in the midst of a great, great high…

I guess X is proof of things going up and down. I should hold out, and Hope my luck turns soon too.

 

An event to ruffle up my feathers

“What?” I stared at my phone in disbelief. I didn’t know what to think. It was a while ago and a beautiful coincidence later, when I had happened across the words ‘Mornington Peninsula Bloggers’ in a Peninsula-based facebook page.

There was a group in my area, for bloggers? I didn’t even realise local blogger groups existed, and then I was soon finding out that they were often hosted by organisations in order for some kind of ‘review’ to be later posted by them…

Surely they were buying a positive review. I balked at the idea of being ‘bought.’

“Yeah right,” I thought. I was going to write a nice review about someone just because they paid for some of my stuff? Don’t forget I waged war on one institution which I will never visit again, and though I don’t go out of my way to bag them, if anyone ever asks me where to go Lygon Street way, I won’t be able to keep my mouth shut.

I like to think I am fair, but also, I am picky.

I couldn’t fathom this ‘pay-for-positivity’ idea circling in my head, and so went to Hubbie.

“They’re going to shout you food?” He looked at me incredulously. I really wanted him to go all moral and high-ground like me, and yet his expression told me otherwise.

“Go!” he urged. “You don’t have to write a positive review.”

“But I feel I’ll have to!” That was the clincher. All those food posts I’d read on other sites. They prologue their review with

“Restaurant X&Y hosted us that evening, but all opinions are my own.”

You know what that translates to?

“All opinions have been diluted through my well-fed tummy… What is an ‘opinion?’… More food please… Nom nom nom.”

I didn’t wanna be one of those food-coma bloggers.

But then my alter ego, SmikG, stepped in.

“I will be hosted, and I WILL have an opinion!”

I needn’t have worried about having my opinions watered down through my digestive system, or of having to lie about my experiences though…

So on an uncharacteristically beautiful and still sunny July day, I found myself driving 17 or so minutes down Mornington-Tyabb road. The scenery was striking. I was used to roads like this since I frequent Bungower so often, however I felt that the further I drove away from the Mornington beach-side, the more the imagery turned pristine and pointed. There were still the huge blocks of land, long winding paths leading to expansive houses and farm-style cottages, however they were both perfectly rustic and exceptionally manicured at the same time. White picket fences, immaculately placed rock trails, even the trees on either sides of the road stretched far and wide, meeting in the middle and opening their branches just enough to allow you a glimpse into the road ahead, providing a magnificently glorious backdrop to the gorgeous day that was.

It was very Castle-esque. I had “how’s the serenity” playing on loop in my mind with my musings, as we drove on ahead.

On first impressions, I felt I almost could’ve kept driving past The Hungry Peacock, our host for that afternoon. Even with my google maps alerting me that it was indeed, a 50 metre left turn away, I still had to slow down suddenly, and heads up for those with lowered cars – watch your bumper bars as you enter the dirt car park.

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(Church hall on left, The Busy Peacock on right)

The setting was quiet and peaceful. I slowly headed into where I thought I needed to be, as fresh as baby girl who was in more knowledge than I was about what lay ahead. Soon though we found our group, in a barn-like shed otherwise known as ‘The Busy Peacock,’ which sits nearby the café ‘The Hungry Peacock’ on the premises. You see, not only were us bloggers getting shouted, but so were our kids.

Those clever minxes.

So the whole idea behind the The Busy Peacock, is that kids get a 45 minute session, in where they engage in sensory play.

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There are two sessions a day – one early morning and one late morning – and they run from Tuesday to Sunday. The children come in, put on smocks, and then just go where their curious hands and minds lead them…

There are water-based activities, sandpits, kid-sized building box areas, hammering and craft tables, gooey water ball tubs, and so much more. The great thing is, these activities change every two weeks, so you can be sure you’ll get some new play areas for your little explorer, even if you do frequent the place often.

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Baby girl of course LOVED the water areas, and after having a good sticky-nose into almost every other section, spent a significant amount of time spraying a white board and applying human features to it to make a face, followed by the rest of the time counting gooey balls in a tub.

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I mean, simple things. And little details too, as I loved how there was a bucket of fresh water with some old rags for the kids to wash their hands with and dry when things got a little bit messy. As you know it undoubtedly would. I know kids dig that stuff, but baby girl is a little OCD like me (proud as punch Mama) and so when a smidgen of sand touched her fingertips, she was holding them high in the air and high-tailing it to the bucket of water that was now blue.

That’s right, blue, because there was paint too!

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My honest-to-goodness thoughts? I honestly can’t fault the space. I mean, for $10, you keep your kid entertained for 45 minutes, they get their fill of all kinds of fun and exciting play areas and sensory experiences, and then after that you get to eat and drink next door, and they have MORE areas to play in?

What? There’s more?

So after three quarters of an hour following the kiddies around, making a mess and getting their hands into all kinds of gunk, we tidied them up and followed the owner, Rebecca, into the renovated church nearby which is also a space for functions. Rebecca is part-owner with her behind-the-scenes chef Hubbie, and they have been running the place for a while now, ever since their previous partnership running the joint with another couple, went bust. As it happens. They’ve since renovated the interior café too (which we’ll get to) and put their own personal mark on the premises which I can see will be a terrific kid-friendly mainstay.

And these were my thoughts before I’d even had any food.

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The church is a gloriously beautiful building, one that would easily cater for a large number of people in any kind of function, and this was perfectly demonstrated that day as our kiddies began to run amuck and show us just how grand the space was.

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Give them an empty room, and they run for their lives, giddy with joy. God Bless. Oh how appropriate that was…

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That was our brief stopover, before heading into the last area of our afternoon, the actual Hungry Peacock café.

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Being my first time there, I actually can’t comment on the renovation itself, other than to marvel at how many kids play areas there were! It is actually a quite genius, and fairly simple idea.

What do parents want more than anything?

A break.

What keeps kids busy (and away from hassling their folks?)

Why, novelty play things of course.

(Butcher pic thrown in for Hubbie)

A track running along the wall for mini car enthusiasts (i.e. ALL kids), a shop corner complete with play food, and colouring pencils and paper for the creative kiddies completed the tables and chairs inhabiting the café. The café consists of two large rooms, the first one containing the counter/coffee area and kitchen entrance, while the other had more places to sit, a couch and a fireplace.

It really was the perfect place to spend an hour or two catching up with an old friend, or just chilling on your own-some… all while your little one ran amuck looking, and most importantly, FINDING interesting and amusing things to do.

But what if it’s a gorgeous day out, and you want to take in some sunshine, you ask expectantly (waiting for me to stammer and halt?!) ?

???

Even better.

There are even more play areas outside for the kids, comprising of cubby houses and a long tube-like contraption to send balls down, all with a decked area for the parents to sit down and wine, dine, AND whine away, conveniently nearby.

The venue itself caters to all types of parents and their kids – those who want to get messy in the Busy Peacock; those who want to chill indoors while their children wind down and explore other avenues; and those who want to sit outside and take in the sunshine, while the kids become backyard explorers of a different brigade.

I have to say though, quite strongly, that I think it is only a place for parents and their kids. It is a parent’s haven –

(let’s interrupt this broadcast for the Angels singing)

Ahhhhhh!

(and back again)

– knowing your child can lose their shit and not be ridiculed by other non-parents. Even if you have already passed the child-rearing stage, you will probably not be able to take the yells and screams so much. It is a serene place, so the backdrop and nature may just win you over… but really, this is a Mum and Dad go-to for some much needed R&R while the little ones take over everything else.

I can’t comment on the food, because I only tasted the slightest morsels from the shared platters we received… and being a European woman, those platters would have been demolished between just Hubbie and I.

So, a Food Review, next time. Hubbie will be pleased to hear beer is on the Menu…

In a nutshell:

16 Mornington-Tyabb Road, Tyabb.

The Busy Peacock runs from Tuesday to Sunday, at 9:30am and 11:15am sessions.

Book ahead. 0416623827

$10 per child, for a 45 minute sensory play session.

There is an old church beside it that can be booked for functions.

Finally, The Hungry Peacock is the café that has even more play areas for the kids to keep them entertained, while offering food and drink for adults and children alike. Also open Tuesday to Sunday, 8/9am to 4pm.

So in its entirety, the concept is fantastic. You go out, let your kid have fun, go to the neighbouring house for some food and drink while they get even more exhausted, and then come home to a clean house, and hopefully a nap-ready child too.

And as for my first hosted blogging experience? The Peacocks feathers are brighter in person, and that there is my metaphor for my first-time blogging out in the open, and not trying to hide the fact that I’m inconspicuously taking xxx number of photos.

I was fortunately pleased to find that I didn’t need to lie, nor blow smoke up anyone’s behind for a false positive experience. It was a fun day for baby girl and I, and we will ALL be back to explore even more.

The only way is up, folks.

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Friends, Facebook & Fakery

Start rant.

When a friend, or a collection of friends gives you more anguish than happiness, sometimes you have to wonder.

At some point, despite emotions, despite history, despite memories, there is a point where you have to ask yourself:

‘Is this person worth my valuable time and effort?’

‘What are they bringing to my life?’ (i.e joy, positivity, great times, support, love, loyalty)

And in famous Miss Jackson’s words

‘What have you done for me lately?’

Friendship is not about just taking, so don’t take the above incorrectly. But when you feel you are always trying, being the instigator, making the plans, and starting the chase… you really do get tired of it soon enough.

I’m feeling this way about a couple of people right now. It’s when you feel like you are the one always bending over backwards and making the effort, and the other party is purely placid, responding to you only by your active example.

Also what bothers me, is the arse-sucking. I have a friend that sucks arse so much, it is almost painful to witness. Clearly she is not sucking my arse or else I wouldn’t mind, let’s be honest. But I feel she places her loyalties in places where they are not really appreciated… I know this says a lot about me and our friendship. Of course I believe she should place her loyalty with me, as I am loyal to her.

But nope. For some unbeknownst reason to me, whether she feels she can’t relate to me, or I’ve pissed her off too many times, or I hate to say it, but is envious of me… I don’t know. But it bugs me that she is the way she is.

Also facebook. It’s amazing the high school bullshit that continues on that forum long after those turbulent years are over. Like, even 15 years later. I realised today there are people who are in contact and send lovely messages to my friends, whereas they completely ignore me on facebook… and yet they had the gall to add me to increase their ‘friends’ total.

And in turn I see, certain friends of mine are still continuing the arse-sucking that was also so prevalent in high school, by sucking up to people who they don’t need to anymore. Newsflash! Hello, we are not in high school anymore, it’s the real world! But apparently, this arse-sucking IS the real world. I see there are many people, those of my arse-sucking friends, and those who want their friends total increased, who participate in this petty game of ignorance, fakery, and insincere niceties, all so that they can be ACCEPTED.

Isn’t that what it’s all about? Everyone wants to be accepted. Sure, even me, which is why it bugs me so that my friend sucks arse to the wrong people, and even those arses from high school ignore me online. We all want to be liked, wanted, and accepted.

And so when someone pisses you off, that’s why it’s so hard to let go. When it’s a friend. A sucking-arse friend. And even when it’s that mole from high school.

Rant over.

 

Spring on over to (glorious!) Panton’s

Panton Hill Vineyard and Winery
145 Manuka Road Panton Hill

Visiting a winery had been an event-in-waiting for over three years. Before we had fallen pregnant with baby girl, I had been desperate to go to one and quite honestly, get nicely plastered before officially getting off the alcohol wagon for my lonngggg stop-over to responsible-parentsville. We had managed to stop at one, but it hadn’t really fulfilled my winery desires: there had not been a menu available on the day we visited, and though we sampled some wines and did take a bottle home, I had really wanted the full winery experience: food, wine, sitting in the splendid sunshine, ALL OF IT.

I’m an elephant, and I don’t forget. These unfulfilled experiences stay in my mind until the mother-fuckers are ticked off my anal to-do-in-life list.

I don’t even know how we came to the idea though – I think it went something like ‘this Sunday is going to be super awesome weather/this Sunday we are free/what can we do on such a nice day/let’s eat out…. Winery!’

Yes something like that.

So, on the first super amazing Spring Day of September, we headed over to Panton Hill Vineyard and Winery to make my winery dreams come true.

Why Panton’s? Honestly, I was looking at wineries close to our vicinity of town. This one was a 30 minute drive, and compared with wineries of similar distance as well as neighbouring town wineries, this one had a menu on weekends and looked really lovely. The website mentioned something about blending Australian and European surrounds, and I immediately went ‘ding! sold.’

I called them on a Thursday to see if I had to book in advance (if you go somewhere with your child and you don’t book beforehand, you’re uber-confident as well as playing roulette with some gangster Murphy’s Law fairies) and when no one answered I left a message revealing our Sunday intentions.

That night I got a call back, advising that yes, we needed to book, especially as it was going to be a gloriously sunny day. The lady I spoke to was lovely and booked us for 1pm.

Come amazing Sunday lunch, and here Hubbie, baby girl and I are, driving through Eltham and then Diamond Creek, via winding roads and greenery in all directions to finally make our way to a gravel-y, slow, long, driveway leading to Panton’s. The first car park we came across was full, but Hubbie spotted a sign alluding to more spaces behind the building, and so he followed it to find it was so.

After walking into one of the buildings, where there was a private party at one end, and wine tastings up the other, there followed a bit of confusion. There were two nearby buildings, one opposite the one we were in, and one further along the trail, but those two I didn’t see people coming in and out of. Then there was the outside seated area besides this building, with some shaded tables and some next to unopen umbrellas. I had booked for 1pm, but where was the person to seat us? Not to come across all high-brow with my demand of being seated, but as I had been told we were required to book, with the time of 1pm given, it was almost expected that there would be a little reserved sign on a table somewhere with someone waiting to say “Hi Smikg, your table awaits.”

Nope.

I patiently waited behind a couple tasting wines to ask the older gentleman (he appeared to be the only one representing the property around) that we had arrived for lunch and didn’t know where to sit. He said “wherever you like,” and proceeded to point out all the areas we could sit. We headed outside, because we’d just come out of Winter and all.

Here too we hung out for a while. We soon realised there were numbers on other tables (the kind you get when you order so when you sit down the wait staff can find you), but again, no wait staff.

Wait! No, then they appeared. We managed to somewhat successfully flag one young lad down who informed us, once we’d explained our situation (we want food and drink please give it to us) that we were to order and pay inside the building with the gentleman who had been handing out wine tastings. Apparently there was a menu there. Alright then, and back I went. I felt a bit like a see-saw by this stage, but the sun was too damn bright to darken my mood.

I ordered some food and drink, before Hubbie went in to do the same while I now did the babysitting duties, making sure baby girl didn’t throw too many rocks into the nearby fountain and what not. She was having a ball, and usually distractions while we’re out and about, especially when dining, are heavily appreciated, however picking up rocks and throwing them into a pool of water, didn’t seem like it would be heavily appreciated by others. So containing her insane excitement at the task was not-so-fun.

But there was a dog! This was very exciting for baby girl, but we couldn’t let her just wander after it and grab at it, and at the same time, though this sweet dog did seem very hungry, sitting at our feet (and everyone else’s) hoping to be fed, its name tag informed us ‘do not feed the dog!’ Ok then.

We also had the issue of the sun. I know, I know us Melburnians, we whinge all the time “it’s too hot, it’s too cold, it’s too windy, it’s too still now I can’t breathe, it’s just too normal can we have all 4 seasons in one day again?” Anyway, yes we were rapt it was an amazingly beautiful day, and I knew so many people who were out and about and planning so many extraordinary things for this fine Spring day. It was the first one in a LONG time, which my facebook feed also gave testament too at the sheer volume of out-and-about posts that featured that day from almost EVERYONE. However, it was still, it was hot, and sitting under the sun without sunscreen (not used to the fear of not-being white yet so early into Spring) was intense, and then of course, was our sweet baby girl, who we protect like a magpie protects its young swooping down on unsuspecting passersby who hold no intention of malice, just because they are near this time of year. Her precious skin is not for the sun. Our umbrella though, seemed very hard to manoeuver, and it was only when a certain lady came out that I went ‘ahhhh.’

Boss lady. Because she was, it was so damn apparent.

She immediately came to us, knowing we needed it lifted without even asking. She moved through the tables, checking on people, getting things, talking to the suddenly present waiters about what to do. And then we had shade.

And then not long after that, food too:

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We had gotten a few things to share, along with a VB for Hubbie and a glass of Verdelho for me. The menu was primarily pizza, and even the specials that day included lamb on a pizza. It was a fairly casual menu, but still, I didn’t care. There was food, there was alcohol, and there was sun.

We shared the Potato pizza, Classico pizza and Cheese and Spinach Burek. What I had found humorous was when I had asked the man how large the burek was, and he proceeded to give me hand configurations adding that a Turkish man on premises made it. Dude, I know what burek is, my family makes it. That’s like describing to Willy Wonka what chocolate is. And his pronunciation of it was gold. He and his missus may have had accents, but that didn’t allow for the correct pronounciation of it. (Say bu-rek. Pronounce bu, not drawn-out ‘boo,’ but a short ‘bu,’ followed by ‘rek,’ rhyming with ‘neck,’ but the r is short as well, the r Europeans sound out, a bit of a rolling r. Anyway).

I now know that that ‘dude’ goes by the name of Teunis and boss lady, his wife, by Dorothy. I’m not psychic, their website says so. He may not know his burek, but he sure as hell knows his land, and his wine, having purchased that block of land in the ‘70s, transforming it single-handedly into what it is today. When you see the property, you know what an incredible achievement that is. I have such respect for individuals who turn nothing into something unique and spectacular, and Panton Winery sure fits that bill.

The classico pizza had salami, tomatoes, olives and cheese, with the addition of chilli. Hubbie, who had the majority of this one, said he couldn’t really taste the chilli, but still, he ate it all. I had most of the potato pizza, and its combination of rosemary, potatoes, Spanish onion and cheese is always a winner. We all shared the burek which was not served as a loaf as previously indicated (!) but cut up into tiny pieces, all the better as we all nibbled on it and easily fed baby girl pieces too. There were some marinated olives and mushrooms on the side too, and together we finished it all.

Hubbie thought it was fairly standard, however I loved it. Yes the menu was basic, but for me it was more the experience of the setting, wine and food together. Also what was perhaps slightly affecting him was baby girl’s inability to sit down and listen. We did the usual taking turns eating while the other watched her, and when it was my turn to keep her busy while he ate, she and I walked around the grounds while I took some photos of the surrounding bushlands, vineyard, and the picturesque buildings.

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It was getting peaking hot, and with it baby girl’s irritability was cranking up a notch. Getting tired, we didn’t want to push her, but before we left, there was just one thing left to do.

Hubbie watched her while I disappeared here for 20 minutes.

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At first Teunis was meant to give me some wine options, but he got busy and Dorothy stepped in. I had 6 wine taste testings, some red, some white, while two of them I tried decanted. She was asking me if I could taste the difference between the decanted and the standard, and you know, I could, but also, by then we were onto the 5th taste test and it all tasted fine by then. Then she tried to sell me a decanter, and that tipsy side of me was loose, very loose, and very easily persuaded, and Dorothy probably knows to try to sell the decanter on the 5th taste-testing rather than the first, but for some reason this narration kicks in when I start drinking, and the narrator was telling me ‘you know you’re well on your way, don’t just buy something for the sake of it.’

Fortunately for me, the narrator in my mind won out again and I didn’t make a flimsy purchase. I know her decanters were cheaper, but I think I’ll wait and buy a pretty one. Loved the tutorial on why you decanter though, it was very informative.

Anyway, from all of that I walked out with this

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All smiling into the sunlight and whispering to Hubbie as I approached “I just had 6 wine tastings and I’m drunk.”

Yep. Life of a Mum.

We left after that, relieved that baby girl was falling asleep in the car, with sweet memories of rolling hills and wine and mispronounced burek.

Food: 7/10. Yes it was a standard menu, but points for the fresh ingredients (I assume the rosemary we were picking from the shrub with baby girl was used for my potato pizza – but shhh!)

Coffee: N/A. We were really close to ordering it, but Hubbie just couldn’t take the heat (weak) and baby girl’s cheeky antics anymore so we thought we best not to push our stay.

Ambience: Very relaxed. Beautiful. Serene. Amazing surrounds. The buildings, reminiscent of something you may see in Tuscany, transport you to another place and make you feel like you are far, far away, rather than just 30 minutes from home.

People: I was surprised and relieved that we weren’t the only ones with cheeky toddlers. A big family was there, mostly though there were couples and older couples. Also that big party inside the wine-tasting building that was going through the bottles (and so they should).

Staff: I hate to say based on our lovely experience, but kind of not present at first. I put this down not to unwillingness to work or help the guests, but rather the demands placed on them by the people visiting and superb weather. Meaning, they were understaffed. Otherwise they seemed ok, but didn’t hang around to talk. Both owners were chatty, but due to the volume of people they also seemed rushed.

Price: We spent under $60 (and that wasn’t including my approximately $30 bottle of pinot noir), that included the two pizzas and burek all for $15 each, and then there was my white wine and Hubbie’s beer at about $6 each. Perhaps, a bit overpriced for pizza, but I get it, you’re paying for the surrounds, as well as the wine-tastings (how else are they going to justify giving each person 6 different wine-tastings?)

Advice: Go on a gloriously sunny day (have I said gloriously enough in this post yet?!), on the weekend, so you can enjoy both wine and food. Pay and order in the building where all the wines are lined up, and then sit ‘wherever you like.’ And just, enjoy 🙂

In a nutshell: I would definitely come back to this place. Taking baby girl with us, I’d probably go when we have other friends and their kids with us so she could play with them, rather than with the water fountain. Or I could even go as a brunch/lunch option when just meeting up with the girls only. It’s the right place for a relaxing gasbag. And a coffee too, must do that next time I’m there.

They have the right ingredients of setting, scenery, wine and food, but a little work needs to go into welcoming the guests and setting them up properly on arrival so they’re not left wandering the grounds, hungry and thirsty. All in all, an amazing find that I can’t wait to revisit.

To-do-in-life List:

Visit winery and drink and eat on sunny day.
Kiss in the rain.
Watch the sunrise come up while watching from a peak/hill.
See the Aurora Borealis.
See Madonna in concert – soon.
Get published.

Panton Hill Winery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cadbury on Toast?

In the first (and possibly last!) of my solo food product reviews I have had to review this:

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When I first feasted my eyes upon this unbelievable sight on my facebook feed, I had to question whether it was in fact, a joke. Vegemite, and chocolate? You’re kidding me. But in the land of the Aussie, anything is possible here.

I love chocolate (uh, hello!) and I do love vegemite. The correct application of vegemite spread across some freshly hot, straight out of the toaster buttered-bread is H-E-A-V-E-N. Note this is in italics because the angels even sing it. Those yanks who eat vegemite straight out of the jar with a spoon  – puh-lease, you are SO not doing it right. You need a true blue Aussie to show you how it’s eaten correctly (see above) and not some shit-talker just trying to get the maximum facial effect out of you.

But chocolate, and vegemite, together? A reliable friend posted this online, and as soon as I saw it I knew I just had to try.

At the end of a very busy shopping trip last week, a trolley FULL of groceries with an increasingly impatient baby girl chomping on rice cakes in front of me, I headed to Coles (which is one of the places they are stocked, I believe) and searched the entire store before finding them conveniently located near the front registers. A huge sign with a massive arrow should suffice next time, guys. (As if they’re not well acquainted with that oh-so-cheesy ‘finger pointing sign.’)

At home, after baby girl had gone down for her afternoon nap, I fixed myself a tea, and sat down to discover if this unlikely combination was indeed, up to scratch.

What I didn’t realise was there was a caramel addition, and it is this that probably makes the vegemite acceptable in the chocolate. The caramel camouflages the strong vegemite taste that you’re used to, and only after you’ve chewed your way through most of the piece of chocolate do you get the vegemite after-taste, as it kind of very subtly lingers in the back of your throat. It’s interesting, is my best and not so specific verdict of it.

Being a massive fan of salty + sweet (think Reece’s chocolates, and peanut butter cheesecakes, uhhhh drool), I could see how this combination may work. I cannot for the life of me imagine which food invention guru actually came to the insane idea of gelling vegemite and chocolate together though.

The caramel addition is a bit of a cheat. The true way to have vegemite and chocolate, is to literally smear some vegemite atop a block of solid Cadbury’s. That would be harder to swallow, but are you a true blue Aussie or what?

Having said that, the stuff wouldn’t sell. The caramel makes it edible.

So my verdict? I went back for more. And then said I wouldn’t buy anymore. But then went back for more…. and then said I’ve had enough… and now I’m still eating it.

I think I’ll stick to my standard peanut butter and chocolate for contradicting flavour combos, thanks. I will not be buying it again. I’ll have my beautifully toasted butter and vegemite on bread, and on the side have chocolate on its own.

(I have not in any way been sponsored or paid by Cadbury for this review… however with the amount of people who have bought the stuff as a result of my facebook post about the above said venture, I am certainly open to payment. Cadbury, anyone? 🙂 )

Things that shit me… #6

Bicyclists.

Yes you bunch of mofos. In particular the bunch that ride around without a care in the world around my place of employment.

I was walking to my car after finishing my work shift the other day. I pressed the button so I could get a green man at the intersection I was at, however knowing those lights all too well, knew it’d be a couple of minutes ‘til that opportunity actually came. So I took out my mobile and perused aimlessly through facebook, scroll, scroll, scrolling along.

In that time another person came up next to me to wait to cross the road as well. I knew the green man was coming, and sure enough within moments I had the familiar ‘ticker ticker ticker’ signalling that yes, he was flashing, we could walk across the road… safely. As one would normally assume.

I hate those annoying people who walk stupidly with their faces in their mobiles/musical devices, so as the ticker started I put my phone at my side and lifted my head, proceeding to now cross the said-before, apparently SAFE road.

As I stepped onto the road, taking one, then two steps, suddenly a bicyclist, careening down the road, jutted onto the pedestrian path out of nowhere, forcing me to stop and sidestep him rather abruptly, almost forcing me off balance. This bicyclist didn’t seem to notice, or had chosen to ignore, that from his end, he had a red light, which is why I was allowed to cross the road. No, he just thought he’d cruise on through, past all the stationary cars beside him, and go on to ride through the pedestrian path and bash into any unsuspecting pedestrians waiting to cross the road when it was their turn, and not his.

And then, as I sidestepped him and he kind of, paused, I noticed with real irritation as I looked back to give him a greasy, that he had kept going! He had ridden through the pedestrian path, ignoring the red light, and just kept going. He hadn’t even acknowledged me or looked apologetic, not to mention the thought of actually opening his mouth and muttering a half-sincere ‘sorry.’ Nothing!

I was so peeved. See, if a car had ignored their red light and travelled forward and almost hit a bicyclist due to the driver’s stupidity, well you can bet a fat kid’s smartie that that bicyclist would have let the driver know about it, doing the whole ‘knock on the car’ thing and talking into the window with a “watch what you’re doing!”

Oh yes. But when a pedestrian is at risk of being bowled over by a bicyclist. It’s ok. It’s not too bad. The force isn’t as great.

It’s the freaking moral you loser bicyclists! Ahhhhh! I’m so pissed off at them right now!

And it’s the other ones too. Like when I’m waiting at a light, wanting to get to work, and standing safely away and not on the actual bicycle path, and the dickheads ride past me at full speed, whizzing by so close they graze the hairs on my arm.

Those bicyclists too, shit me, so BAD. They ride so close because they wanna ride on that smooth part of their path, the path that doesn’t make their bikes rattle.

Well you know what you asses? I wanna stand there and not have the fear of unnecessary lint forming on my clothes due to the excessive wind forced upon me by bicyclists pretending it’s ok to ride by me and touch my clothing/bag/arm hairs.

Seriously you guys. Just be decent, and stop calling the kettle black when it comes to drivers. You’re just as bad.

SmikG’s got her balls back

Because for a while, I seemed to have lost them.

To explain, and make a short story even shorter, I’m in the midst of a HUGE photo inventory where I’m collecting all matter of photos from all matter of devices from the past couple of years, and printing them out to organise into photo albums. Yes, I still DO photo albums.

So I remembered I had a couple of photos on my facebook account that weren’t mine, uploaded by my family and friends, and so I went searching, one night earlier this week, through the years of 2012, 2013, and now, to find them.

What I found was astonishing. My journey had been for one thing, yet in the midst of it all, I had somehow accidentally though very appropriately discovered something completely different. Apt. I found that I once, had gusto. Guts. A loud voice. An opinion.

Balls, as such.

In amongst photos, and check-ins, and posters friends and family were putting up on my wall, I was looking at my past status updates… and wow. I actually had completely forgotten that I used to write like that. That that’s how I put my feelings and my thoughts out. A lot of it was just “BLAH!” An outburst, a sudden feeling that I clearly just hit ‘post’ on and let the world see what I was feeling at the time, with no censorship.

It was almost like reading about another person’s life. Reading these status updates, I was amazed, embarrassed and proud all at different times. Most of all, I was inspired. I was like ‘damn it! I wanna get back to that place.’

Without realising it, all this time I had lost it. I thought back to how, and why, and when it was that things changed. I think it was a combination of things. We’ve had life, we’ve had death, blah, blah – without trivialising any of those important life changes, I think those were some major factors that affected my habits. I got personal, secretive, and not willing to let the world, just ‘anyone’ into our private, intimate world of troubles, fears, hopes and joys. The world and all of its hurts and happiness,’ made me just a little withdrawn, just a little scared, of EVERYTHING. Both fear, and love, made me go into myself. Both of those emotions can make you feel so much.

That, along with the addition of some of my annoying facebook ‘friends’ posting shit like

“my 175 month old is just so cute today, I can just squash him!” (constant annoying posts about child and updates on them every 45 minutes)

“I am just so upset, I wanna die.” (attention seeker alert)

“I just went to the front door, and found a parcel waiting for me!” (grasping at straws, why are you posting vague bullshit?)

“my husband is just the best, I love him soooo much! (hiding the fact of marital woes)

(And then there are those that post 280 photos of their child’s first days in this world, which made me want to quite frankly NEVER upload photos of my baby girl).

All this pretense, and lying, and just whole lotta BS drove me right up the wall, and made me want to never in any way be like THEM.

(Life’s purpose: do not be a sheep).

I’m thinking now though, I can still be myself. I’ll never be like them, because I have more self-awareness. And yes, some may even say that blogging is also a pretense. However I think the blogging world, from what I’ve experienced of it anyway, is a lot more deeper than the superficiality and “look at me relaxing by the pool on the island getaway trip-of-a-lifetime holiday” showing-off that occurs on facebook, the bragging that often covers up things we never learn about.

I think of it in relation to myself. I have put up photos of myself, with Hubbie, with baby girl. And although everything looks great and all ideal in the photos, no one can see, no one knows of the background story: how for example, before we took that photo out during lunch on that gorgeous perfect Sunday, baby girl was cracking it at home because she was tired. I look good in the photos, but no one knows I was in my pyjamas ‘til 11:30am because I was doing dishes, rinsing washing, and kept changing baby girl’s nappy because she kept filling it up. We look refreshed, but that’s because we had coffee, and no one knows how she’s been getting up at night, and how it takes me 5 minutes just to creep out of her room at night and close the door quietly, in fear that any noise will wake her up and I’ll have to do the whole thing all over again – and that’s just the leaving the room part. Don’t ask me how I get her to sleep. We look put-together in that photo, but seriously, you should see our house, when we’re NOT expecting visitors. And I’m smiling, but you don’t want to enter my mind and hear the demons I’ve been struggling with for the past few weeks, the internal to and froes that’s made me seriously consider seeing a psychologist.

All of this, is not often spoken of. On facebook, certainly not. In the blogging world however, refreshingly it is.

I’ve diverged a bit. All in all, I’ve had enough. I’ve had enough of being quiet. I’ve had enough of letting other’s crap affect the way I live my life. I’m coming out, in the most fantastic fashion, and I don’t give a flying fuck what anyone says anymore.

If I cause trouble, then so bloody be it. Better out than in.

The balls they are a swaying.