Baby girl says the darndest things #3

I find it fascinating watching baby girl grow. To learn, to develop, and most of all to see what comes out of her mouth.

It is a popcorn-worthy show ALL on its own.

Like tonight for instance. I was drying her hair after her bath, and the topic somehow moved to work and money. Serious stuff for a 5 year-old, so my ears perked up when she made the observation –

“Mummy, you don’t have to work tomorrow, because you have enough money.”

?? Well I’ll be damned. So, I had a choice in whether I could go or not based on my account? So I asked –

“What about Tato? Why is he working? Does he not have enough money?”

“Nope.”

LOL. But that wasn’t even all of it. I thought we were done with the topic until I tucked her in and kissed her goodnight. She randomly popped up with –

“Mummy, you don’t have to work, you have a credit card!”

OH MAN!

She shrugged her shoulders and smiled, like it was the simplest and most obvious of solutions to keep Mum home with her forever.

I sat on the bed, and proceeded to tell her in kid-terms, that using credit cards was actually not the best idea, and better reserved for emergencies.

But, can you imagine that for a moment? If that was the case, NO ONE WOULD WORK!

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Photo by Rebelsaurus (Katie Harp) on Unsplash

 

 

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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

 

 

 

Things that shit me… #15

Things that shit me…

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

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

We are all human. I get things wrong too.

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

WATCH OUT.

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

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

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

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

“Almond milk cappuccino with one sugar?”

I shook my head.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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#MeToo

In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein sexual allegations that have recently come out, a recurring thread has been popping up on social media.

#MeToo

It stands to encourage and empower women, by providing them with a voice to speak up now amidst the majority of women speaking out everywhere. This two-word hashtag is giving woman a platform to say “enough is enough.” A platform that is supposedly safe. A platform where supposedly judgment does not live.

 

I read an online comment the other day, posted by a male, who wrote that 50% of the blame lies with sexual harassment victims – basically if you dress provocatively, you need to be accountable for what will happen to you.

I cannot tell you how much I was infuriated by that bastard. He deserves all the Hate, Karma and horrible consequences of his unsightly accusations, and I hope he gets it three-fold. A woman can wear WHATEVER she chooses. She can do and go and be seen however she likes, because at the end of the day, if she says “no” to sexual advances, her opinions and choices need to be respected.

No buts. No excuses. No ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ cards.

She has red nailpolish? No means No.

She has blonde hair? No means No.

She has a tight dress? No means No.

She is flirty? No means No.

She fell asleep? No means No.

She is unconscious? No means No.

She said Yes before, but now she’s changed her mind? No means No.

Having the immature excuse of “she is teasing him in that dress,” is the most incomprehensibly weak excuse. It paints men as an immature, childish race, a race that cannot be held accountable for their actions since they apparently ‘can’t help themselves.’

(The female race has been dealt with the word ‘No’ for centuries now for not being as ‘strong’ as their male counterparts, and we’re still somehow surviving).

It paints men out to be like children. We say “they are learning” when our children draw on the walls, accidentally spill drink on the floor, and drop that ornament that has been in the family for years. They are learning, because they don’t know better. They are making accidents as they grow, and as they make their way through life. They are learning action leads to consequences, and so on.

A man forcing himself onto a woman, is not a lesson to be learnt. A man forcing himself onto a woman is NOT an accident.

NO means NO.

It is sad that despite years and years of sexual harassment, only now are women in the entertainment industry coming out and sharing their story. It is sad that there are other women in this field, saying it happens EVERYWHERE.

It is sad that women are expected to endure sexual harassment, and have to turn a blind eye, because ‘guys are just being guys.’

Like, No, these aggressors are not just ‘being guys,’ they are being DICKHEADS.

In the past week or so, as I started to see people I know posting the above hashtag on social media, some even commenting on scenarios they have been in, I started to think of myself and my life, and any incident of a sexual harassment nature that had made me upset, or scared to speak up.

I had to think for a while. Not because some incident happened years ago and it was something I had pushed to the back of my mind. No, I had to think, because I didn’t know where to start.

It’s a continual never-ending blur, the stuff we women must put up with. Incidences that occur in our day-to day-lives, the way we feel when we step out of the house alone, the thoughts that run through our minds, the scenarios of possible threatening situations, and the way we as women have been programmed to think, to be wary of all men, has now become an everyday normal thought process, something we don’t think twice about, and yet something that has merged all our unfortunate nightmares into one to make the opposite sex a feared one.

I have memories of dancing with my friends out at the nightclubs, and having guys tap you on the shoulder, push into your dancing space, or try to grab you not-so-conspicuously on the dancefloor. And when you tell them “stop” or show no interest, or turn away… they would get upset. A guy who I have never met before in my life, got upset I didn’t let him touch me, and he didn’t even know my name.

And knowing my name does not give him a reason to do it either.

Rule 1: why do you think girls go to the toilet together? Safety in numbers.

Sorry dude. Apparently me dancing with my girlfriends means I OWE YOU MY BODY.

There are the stares. The leers and the whistles. The way you walk past a group of guys, and their quiet lingering is unsettling as you pass them by. The deafening silence as they stare you down, their heads following as you disappear behind them, screams in your ears.

It is the day-to-day uncomfortableness. It is there ALL the time.

2. Don’t look a male stranger in the eye. It ‘encourages’ them. 

Do you know what I read today? An Egyptian lawyer has come out to say that women who wear ripped jeans deserve to be raped. In fact, it is a man’s cultural obligation to do so to women, because they are teaching them ‘self-respect.’

This is what is being said in this day, in this age. A man is publicly speaking and encouraging other men to do their duty and ‘take care’ of the women, who by wearing slits in their jeans as a fashion statement, are apparently not looking after themselves.

Rule 3: Do not live life freely. Do not for one second think you can live like a man and not get in trouble for it. Your sex will catch up to you.

I was followed once. I was followed after departing from a train station on a Friday night. The guy was breathing down my back, following me back to the car park until he realised Hubbie was waiting for me there – he then abruptly veered off and stood amongst some trees before back-tracking and making his way to the train station, undoubtedly to look for his next victim.

I can’t imagine what would have eventuated if I had not had someone there waiting for me. I shudder to think of all those girls who make their way home from work, from school, from being out with their friends, and DON’T have the luxury of someone waiting for them on the other side.

This makes me so sick.

There are not only 3 rules. The ongoing rules of life as a woman, are to avoid all kinds of male interaction EVER, in all of your day-to day activities, and ensure you avoid at all costs any alone time with a stranger man. With a man. Because you NEVER KNOW.

It’s the disparaging remarks in the workplace. Men can get away with making fun of the female form, vagina jokes and lesser-sex putdowns, but can you imagine if a woman poked fun at a man’s temperamental dick? At his sensitive testicles? About how at the beach, all of his manhood is on show?

Do you think us as women, would get the sack? Of course we would. And yet men are getting away with sexual discrimination of all kinds, of favouring one sex for promotions and jobs and opportunity, and let’s not forget the never-ending equal-pay dispute, the constant reminder that a woman still IS lesser than a man while at work, doing the exact same job.

It’s telling your Hubbie not to get odd-job house quotes when he is at work. It’s the unease about being in a house alone with a man you have never met before and having that nagging thought in the back of your head “what if?”

It is choosing to wear ‘safe’ clothing, because you will not be noticed.

It is bowing your head down low as you walk so as to not meet any lingering eyes.

It’s the world-wide excuse of acceptance, normalising the behaviour, and enabling it from incompetents such as the Egyptian lawyer, who added that his own daughter should be raped if she too, wore ripped jeans.

And after all of this, and so many more incidences that fail to come to mind because I have been programmed like the rest of women in society to ‘get used to it,’ I also say

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#MeToo.

Me Too. This has to stop.

 

Photo by Mihai Surdu on Unsplash

 

Something else out there

I can’t remember the correct timeframe, or how old she was. Everything is such a blur when you’re a new Mum.

But I had just come back home from one of baby girl’s Maternal Child Health Nurse check-ups. They are so frequent at the beginning – they visit you at home a couple of times, then there are weekly visits, they go to 2 weeks and 4 weeks and 8 weeks… maybe it was even MORE frequent. I can’t remember.

I think some things you choose not to.

I had been trying to breastfeed her for so long. She was just so little, and still learning. She was soooo little. Born at just under 2.5 kilos, she truly was a doll.

I had been told at the previous visit, based on her good weight gain with the formula milk I had been giving her, that I could try to wean her onto the breast, and rely less on the formula.

Which is what I did. It was really hard, and that is a whole other story, but I did it.

So when I came for my next MCHN check-up, the nurse was surprised to find… she had actually dropped in weight.

A couple of hundred grams is a lot when your baby is only weeks old. The nurse was actually quite nice, not judgmental, and didn’t question my tactics… yet I saw the concern on her face.

She suggested perhaps my breast milk wasn’t strong enough. Try some cheese, a handful of almonds before you breastfeed, she said.

She looked at the previous record and this current one, repeatedly, comparing the two and wondering if there had been a weighing error the last time.

She tapped her finger against her chin, thinking of what to do, wondering what was going on, and scheduled me to come in and see her again sooner than was necessary.

Through my haze of confusion and intense worry, I could see the answer, and yet it couldn’t come forth for me to speak up. It was too far away to catch, distant amidst all my sleep deprivation, anxiety, intense mood swings, and adjustment to life that I had not been prepared for at all.

I had only been somewhat prepared for the labour. That was it. None of the BEYOND. None of the important stuff.

I thought I had turned a corner in my breastfeeding, and that finally, I had succeeded at something. To have all of that questioned, to hear that my little baby girl was losing weight, NOT gaining weight as needed, especially as she was so petite, was the tipping point.

I don’t know how I drove. A friend was desperate for a group catch-up. I hastily wrote “it’s not a good time at the moment.” And I went home and bawled my eyes out.

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Photo by Jordan Whitt on Unsplash

Baby girl was asleep. I remember sitting on the table near the kitchen, feeling so alone. Those first few days, weeks, months, ARE LONG. You are waiting for your husband to come home, to help you, relieve you, hug you, love you, and tell you it’s going to be ok.

They go to work every day. Oh how lucky they are to leave those walls. To walk out the door and go back to some sense of normalcy, to speak in proper conversations with actual adults, when all the while you are dying at home and wondering when it will all end.

I was sitting there, and actually begging. I was begging God to send me someone to save me. I sat there crying, feeling so alone, and yet unable to reach out and call anyone.

It’s awful that in our worst moments, we are unable to reach out. To ask for help. To seek advice, a shoulder to cry on, and a listening ear when it is most dire to our wellbeing.

I was an absolute mess for what felt like the longest time… but maybe, it was really about an hour. Watching the clock, crunching on almonds, hoping someone would call, or Hubbie would come home early.

Soon, the phone rang.

Help had been sent. It was my sister.

She listened to my tears. We worked out what I had tried to grasp earlier, but couldn’t amidst the shock of the news. The formula was heavier than the breastmilk. She naturally dropped in weight as I went to exclusively breastfeed her, and within time, it would go up again.

She would regain it all.

And she DID. Being at one of the lowest percentiles at birth, can you believe this petite angel of mine is now in about the 90-95th percentile in height and weight?

People constantly tell me how tall she is for a 4 year old.

I never would have imagined.

But this is not the moral of the story. It’s got nothing to do with the breastmilk, early Motherhood or even how much you should listen to nurses…

It’s all about the sign. The help. The call out.

I had called out, and I had received help.

I’ve always believed in something greater out there… and this to me was further proof.

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Photo by Maranatha Pizarras on Unsplash

I don’t know what has gotten into me lately. Something is not right. I can’t get excited. I don’t know what it is, or why or how this has come, because I didn’t think, other than the normal crap that life sometimes throws at us, that I had anything that was weighing me down.

All of a sudden, I was DOWN. Not in the gravitational pull sense.

I mean FLAT. Uninspired. Losing interest. NO focus.

I don’t like to use this term casually, but even… DEPRESSED.

I started to worry. Was this a hormonal cycle thing? Was I just having a bad day?

I woke up after my first bad day, my DOWN day, and… was still DOWN.

Day 2…

Day 3…

Day 4…

No interest. Lacking motivation. Feeling hopeless, for no apparent reason at all.

When I realised I wasn’t looking forward to anything, I started to worry.

Because this wasn’t like me. I always had something to look forward to. Even when I was sick I’d be looking forward to getting better. I would even look forward to work, believe it or not. I had many things to look forward to, and even amidst shit people and events and spanners thrown into the mix, I would find a way to look past all that and look forward to something bigger and brighter in the future.

I think of things now, and my mind goes blank.

I actually have no reason to feel this way… that concerns me too. Nothing notable or significant has happened to make me feel this way, and yet there is this niggly, annoying feeling at the back of my mind, there is something weighing me down, making me feel moody and lowly and telling me that all is not right.

It is a scary place to be.

I didn’t ask for ‘help’ while I was at work yesterday. But I was thinking a lot about the state I was in, and getting upset and emotional within myself. Because each time I spoke to someone, and they asked me how I was, I felt like I was trying to convince myself, more than I was trying to respond to them. 

“Yeah,” I replied nodding, thinking. “Good.”

No, I was not GOOD.

I went through these emotions, this thinking, ALL DAY, trying to get myself out of the funk, to no avail.

And then without any kind of request, other than me asking myself “WHY?” a series of small interactions occurred.

Because within a 5 minute period, as I packed up my belongings for the day, I came across three women. Not necessarily women I see or talk to often at work either. And all three of them expressed great interest in me, in how my life was going, and they had such big smiles as we spoke, that it was hard to not get affected.

Now don’t get me wrong, a simple chat wasn’t enough to take me out my funk. I was still a bit helpless. But I had gained a bit of something that I talk about often here.

HOPE.

I don’t know why, but that series of small chats made me feel like there was something, or someone, trying to get through to me and lift me up. Those three women were thrown at me, so unusually, and with such force, that it was difficult to deny that there was something other than divinity at work here.

Someone or something, had responded to my unanswered question.

Life can be hard. No, Life IS hard. We are fortunate when we call out and receive a response to our cry for help.

Other times we may not ask, but we get assistance in unspoken form.

And then there are times, when we need to seek it out ourselves.

There is no shame in asking for help, or telling people we feel like shit. It actually takes all the courage in the world.

And whether you believe in a higher power, a greater good, or NOT, that is also ok… as long as you seek what you need when your soul is crying out for it, because every now and then, we all need a lending hand.

And maybe, just maybe, you have somehow been led to this post, and I am lending my words of advice, my experiences, and my Hopes for something greater, to YOU.

If you or someone you care for needs help, you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14, or click here.

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Photo by Paola Chaaya on Unsplash

 

 

 

Surprise upsize

So… what do you do when the coffee lady calls out your coffee order, and you come to the counter to find a large cap, instead of your usual medium cap?

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And she is smiling?

“Have a nice day!”

???

You say: “Have a nice day!’

Grab the coffee in a calm and steady fashion, and then head out the door as fast as you can.

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You can upsize my coffee any day lady. Even more so when I am at work. I definitely need it.

Happy Saturday 🙂

Umpteen reasons why you should LOVE Winter

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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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!

7. Jump!

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.

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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.

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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.

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9. SLEEP

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.

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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.

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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.

11. Work it out 

Ok, so I know some of you might wanna swipe me over this one, as I am known for finding gratitude in the most wide-ranging of places… but I tell you, work really IS better when it’s cold. I mean, just look at the below:

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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…

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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.

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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

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a cauliflower soup

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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 on and 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:

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The above mentioned, my fave gal pals. “Abso-fucking-lutely” amazing.

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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….

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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?

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Or maybe a spicy chai latte can rub you totally up the right way

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No? Vino? There’s nothing like a good glass of red to get the fires burning

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Wanna get more creative? I give you, a combination of the last two options, Gluhwein…

https://www.chowhound.com/recipes/german-mulled-wine-gluhwein-30925

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!

(I say as I finish off a warm mug of tea…)

 

 

Snippets of Conversation #2

I don’t want to make this series all ‘Gossip Girl’ like, and yet with my only two so far, it feels like it is unintentionally headed that way…

Makes for some interesting questions though.

Yesterday while heading into a small shopping centre after work, on a late Saturday afternoon, I was approaching 3 guys – definitely guys, not men. No more than 19, they would have fit right in at a skate park. For all I know, that’s where they were headed.

Pants falling down, hoodies over-sized, colours of grey and black all around. Caps turned back-to-front, and all 3, tall. Real street, yet with a touch of teenage still in them.

As I drew closer, the group parted, and the guy who was on his own, made a loud sneeze to the side as I walked through the circle. Another one was holding a beer slab under his arm, and then I heard a voice:

“… so that night she says to me, ‘what’s that lipstick on your top,’ and I say ‘that’s from my Nana,’ and then she stops…”

It was only once I’d passed them that the words filtered through my head via satellite, leaving me wondering, and hanging.

Why was there lipstick on his collar?

Was it really his Nana’s?

He sounded so convincing, with no hint of sarcasm or foolery…

but THERE WAS lipstick on his collar.

Hmmm. A good story-starter. You’re welcome 🙂

 

Sightings of People as Passionate About (Addicted to) Coffee as I am (SOPAPACAIA) #9

Blended Beard, Docklands

Sighted: My work colleague

As we walk into the café this morning, me following close behind her, one of the passionate and dedicated baristas behind the counter sees her and calls out “hello X” (X being her name obviously).

She is known by her name, by the baristas, in a very busy café that sees literally hundreds of people swarm through for coffee each business day?

Totally jelly. Must ‘up’ my work hours…

Coffee in the land of the Docks

A work colleague quite jokingly suggested to me, after I was complaining about some coffee in our work surrounds, that I should do a review of coffee in the area…

She laughed. The wheels turned in my head. Little did she know my alter ego is SmikG.

Never one to run away from a creative coffee-inspired project, and despite all my other ongoing creative endeavours, I decided to do a full-fledged rundown on a variety of Docklands cafes, from the month of July to August of 2016. I have provided my personal experience of the cafés based primarily on the above month experiences, but also have drawn upon my earlier visits there to help paint a greater picture, where relevant. I have a ‘in a nutshell’ section at the end of each review, however with some of these I have also added in a ‘September Update,’ which mentions improvements with any cafés that previously held negatives.

And at the very end of the following 8 café reviews, lies my final say… so keep reading ’til the end!

So if you frequent the land of the Docks, and enjoy your caffeinated beverages to the point that you need to have the BEST one, read on…

 

Story Coffee & Foodstore
700 Bourke Street Docklands

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This café is positioned just on the concourse in between the shops and cafes bordering the Bourke street side of Etihad Stadium, and Southern Cross Station. It’s dimly lit with high ceilings and a touch of industrial style, providing temporary relief from the hustle and bustle of work life. And this place definitely caters to its known demographic, providing a wide range of food and coffee that you can conveniently takeaway to eat at your work desk.

Breakfast provisions like muesli, juices and yoghurts, alongside lunch items such as sliders, cream cheese and smoked salmon bagels and bacon and egg brioche buns adorn the glass display. Their food sells out quickly with much more constantly in production, and their sweet side doesn’t fail to disappoint the eyes either. Doughnut bombs, pastries and other custard-y things are on show next to the register where you order in the middle of the shop. There is no usual bench separating the cashier from the customer here, with the person taking your order standing beside you as they punch in your large cap with 1 thanks.

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The beans used are Dukes of course, since this is a relative of their Chapel Street café. A hipster-type with a long beard was making it that day, and looked seriously into the coffee making. The flavour of the coffee was very smooth, my best description being ‘gentle on the tongue.’ The only issue with their coffee is that it tends to be on the warm to lukewarm side, even if you sip it immediately after they have handed it to you. This is obviously upsetting in Winter time, since as soon as that Antarctic breeze wafts over you it loses a further 3 degrees, and then some as you walk on over back to work. And that’s the thing, if they are accommodating to the office crowd, possibly 99.9% of their clientele, supplying them with food and coffee to take and run away with, well they need to know that their coffee needs to be hotter. I’m not saying burnt. Hot doesn’t mean burnt. This applies in all seasons, but most particularly on the cold July morning that this review is based on.

The service is quick, making sure the orders keep coming in and out due to the high volumes of people and often long lines, but this is where the customer service fails, because in all of this they have forgotten ‘niceness.’ In particular the woman who served me for this review, she was brash at best, and when handing my colleagues coffee to him, hastily slid it across the bench to him. Woman, you are not Tom Cruise in Cocktail. Sliding a coffee cup like that is just a bit rude thanks. It kind of says ‘here; now get out.’

In a nutshell
Coffee: $4:30 for a large. Ordinary sized cup, I’ve seen larger given the description. Smooth taste, just slightly too lukewarm.
Food: Looks delish. Expensive, for corporate types. I mean, $8:50 for a medium sized bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon? I could eat two of those, easy.
Service: To be improved upon. Not speed, but kindness.
Last word: I hope the customer service improves because I like the place.

‘September Update’: Since my initial July review, a few things have improved… first the temperature. Coffee is hotter. Tick. Secondly, the service…though I got a few not-so-friendly greetings on one or two occasions afterwards, there are a few newbies there who are making the experience of ordering and collecting your coffee a joy (maybe there were observations and suggestions made by other slighted customers…?) so again, tick.

The cranky lady is still there, I think she’s just picked up her game.

This place also has consistently continued to produce amazingly smooth coffee, despite ALWAYS being busy, so a huge thumbs up by me 🙂

Story Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

Hortus X 7 Seeds
131-141 Harbour Esplanade Docklands

Bang smack in the middle of Harbour Esplanade, across from AFL house and with views of the water, it’s hard not to miss this café reminiscent of a tented greenhouse that’s been plonked down amidst the greyness and height of the buildings surrounding it.

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And the display serves its purpose, with plans for the temporary café that was opened in March ’14 to be slated for an 18 month contract… seeing as it had surely passed that timeframe at time of writing, perhaps this means the impermanent looking space will be a regular amidst the Docklands coffee drinkers?

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It sure has gained steady traction in that time. With its large interior garden plantation growing up from the middle of the café, consisting of edible plants no less, the natural variety isn’t the only reason why people are coming far and wide to view this pleasing affront to the buildings beyond it.

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A fave with cyclists who are constantly riding past, you will also frequently see fellow work-goers using their spare time to borrow some paddles and ball for a free round of ping pong on the table outside. This independent space contains seating inside, bordering the coffee area and surrounding the large plant garden, as well as on the nifty and cute wooden stools and tables outside.

There is a lot of wood in this café, further adding to the natural glasshouse feel, which I just love.

It’s to be assured that Seven seeds is one of the coffees on offer, and with all of the above positive reviews I have just one negative.

The coffee size.

The only takeaway coffee size is a tiny cup, and I don’t even know if they consider that a regular but to me it’s a small. The coffee was incredibly strong upon first sip, evening out as I got halfway through. $4:30 is a decent price to pay for a little cup, yet the hipsters and bicyclists happily fork it out here.

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Pastries, pies and sweet treats also adorn the front counter (lycra from the bicyclists too), and from experience I can say that the sweet stuff is GOOD. I had a blueberry-something a while back, and it was incredibly moist and moorish, not at all mass-produce tasting, more like Nanna tasting.

In a nutshell
Coffee: Strong, but in too small a cup. I would go here more often if they up’d their takeaway sizes. Having said that the bean flavour is a bit too harsh for my liking.
Food: Amazing. It’s probably the food that would get me in there again rather than the coffee, and I would get it in a deal to save coin because this joint is on the $$$ end.
Service: Friendly, and sometimes hipster too. I’ll let you decipher what that means.
Last word: I like the concept, but just want an improvement on the coffee and cup size. Otherwise a great idea, and I hope they stick around.

Hortus Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

Banc Café
2/800 Bourke Street Docklands

Aptly named as it sits on the ground level of the NAB building on the corner of Harbour Esplanade and Bourke Street, this high-ceiling-ed, wood-abundant, amply-spaced café sees its share of customers. It has also seen its share of owners, having changed hands in its time, which may or may not be its downfall… that’s yet to be seen, as only time will determine.

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This is probably one of the best spaces for a café, with the large floor to ceiling windows allowing in brilliant sun to heat up the inhabitants within. On a cold Winter’s day as you walk through any one of the two main revolving door entrances, the heat embraces you and tucks you away under it firm café grasp. A long counter displays your everyday assortment of takeaway lunch and breakfast items, including sweet treats and of course coffee. Think egg and bacon muffins, wraps, sandwiches, yoghurts and muffins. The interior is vast with many options to sit at, with the long communal table in the middle of the room, the smaller tables and chairs bordering the café, and also the seating area under the panelled stairs going up into the workspaces on higher levels! The wood fascination continues in yet another Docklands café, with beautiful warm tones everywhere, and in particular I love their long table sitting opposite the ordering counter, it’s like something out of a workman’s shed, lovingly restored and brought back to life.

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Their coffee is fairly consistent, though it has its up and down days at times – strong, generally pleasing, potent – as is their service. Which is where I lead back to my earlier point.

The first lot of owners from a few years back were extremely friendly, which is why the new owners and their staff draw such a strong comparison against. On a good day, they are ‘working a Monday.’ Which is to say, they are only mildly interested in your business and happiness in buying there. I used to frequent this café much more, before the rudeness and arrogance of the staff took shape. When I handed back the bottle that rolled away from the staff member who was angrily loading them into the fridge, and didn’t receive at least a glance of recognition (no thanks or smile at all), and my colleague had his name TOLD to him by another staff member who thought it amusing to poke fun at, and then many more of us from our work received a major superiority complex by the male staff there… well it grows tired. This place may never fail because of the sheer volume of NAB workers and other accompanying nearby businesses which keep it going… but it sure as hell wont flourish with that attitude either. They need to wake up and smell the gratitude coffee this crew.

The food here is ok, nothing fanciful, it fulfils its purpose. It’s more affordable than other places, and this could be its other saving grace. This could be a café that really takes off if some of its lacking components were up to scratch, and simply due to its favourable location both in terms of people volume and capacity to take in the sunlight, I can see this café making itself home to many a business lunch for a long time to come.

In a nutshell
Coffee: $3:70 for a medium coffee of decent-sized cup. Strong (sometimes harsh). Interesting flavour.
Food: Your standard café fare, but it comes up alright.
Service: Minimal care, plenty of ‘tude and ‘I can do without your business’ types.
Last word: The reasonably priced coffee for these parts is not enough to outdo the attitude that comes out of here.. but the Sun in Winter is reason enough. The rays coming through the window is often enough to melt any frosty stares that may come your way… if you so dare.

Banc Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

AFL House Café 
140 Harbour Esplanade Docklands

I don’t know why it took so long to get over to this café, only a short stroll from my work… oh hang on, I know. It’s the fact that you can’t see it from the main street, that may have something to do with it. Oh, and the fact it’s within AFL House, and you know, for many people it could be quite daunting to walk into an arena of this sort expecting a café to just ‘pop up.’

But it does. You walk through the doors, and immediately to your right just in front of reception you’ll see a little cart-like stand with quaint umbrella rooftop and everything. A few rolls and sweet things displayed in the case, but we don’t care: we came here for the coffee.

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The coffee is smooth, fairly ok, made even more so by the $3 price tag, the discount we received being from a neighbouring work place. Even so their prices are good compared to some other skyrocketing coffee prices happening in Docklands at the moment.

I’m extremely jelly that AFL house should have a cute little café like this offering coffee at such close proximity to its employees. And what a great idea too. For anyone coming into work there at their regular place of employment or visiting the premises for a meeting, the necessary and convenient coffee stop as you wait to be checked in is ideal. Hell it should be a prerequisite for businesses to offer their workers. And for those on a break or with more time to spare, you can sit by the window and watch the road and footpath traffic on the Harbour pass you by… or look past that all towards the boats, amusingly behind a fellow café competitor, Hortus X 😉

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In a nutshell
Coffee: $4:00 for a large coffee. Fairly smooth and non-offending. Lavazza.
Food: Some basic fare, if you need a selection of it keep walking into the Wintry winds outside.
Service: Really friendly, and I don’t think it was only because we are work neighbours, the guys looked pretty nice.
Last word: I’d be happy to go back there for the great service, decent coffee and the proximity to work… but their proximity is also the downfall, as the walk up there and back just doesn’t give us enough gossip time 😉

AFL House Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

Blended Beard
818 Bourke Street Docklands

I was excited when my coffee email prompt to my colleagues one Friday morning resulted in one such colleague telling me she had discovered a new hipster café in the area – woo hoo! We hightailed it down Bourke street, past all the other eateries and so-so places ‘doing’ coffee, and I nearly clapped with glee when I saw the shop. She didn’t have to tell me we had arrived. The hipster vibe was all over the name: Blended Beard.

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My colleague commented that it looked a bit like Story, however I felt in Beard there were more metal tones in amongst the wood panelling the place, with copper a prominent theme too. Up at the counter it was a well-oiled production line of taking orders and making coffees, with about 4-5 people going through their paces. Beside the cash register was a display unit of lunch items such as sliders and soups, with some sweet things on top of the case exposed for all to point at. The pastries looked delish, the Nutella doughnuts and bombolones were looking fresh and very mmm-worthy, however my gripe of exposed food items at the counter hasn’t changed: anyone can cough at it, and breathe their Winter germs on it, and for that reason I don’t buy anything that’s exposed. Sure it looks good… but it looks better covered up. A pretty glass dome covering them yet still allowing customers to see what’s inside isn’t going to ruin the appearance.

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Behind us were a bunch of tables and chairs, and I could see there was a further walk-through into the Ericsson building that was connected to it, so this place would definitely get some much-needed foot traffic being a new cafe. The service was pleasant, one of the girls seemed to be focused on remembering her prior customers which was refreshing to see, and as well as being promptly served our coffees, they tasted good too. All three of us agreed, smooth and creamy, though I did find one little un-ground coffee particle at the end of my cup that ended up in my mouth, and I did notice upon drinking through it that there was a ground-coffee taste at times, as if some grounds had high-jacked the coffee tamper and jumped into my cup… I’ll forgive them this one slight due to all their other positives, as long as it stays a once-off slight.

But, taking advantage of the café bearded hipster image… gold. I love it.

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In a nutshell
Coffee: Smooth and creamy. Decently priced too – they had large and regular sizes, and the regular actually looked like a regular, not an itty-bitty teeny-weeny babycino cup that my daughter drinks from… $3.80. under $4? What?!
Food: Sliders, soups and sweet things. It appears they do breakfast too judging by their blackboard out front. Not too bad prices either, for a Docklands café… why I never…
Service: Genuine, and friendly. It looks like they’re trying to show their care factor, and I hope this continues.
Last word: In Winter, I gotta pray for a mildish day so that the longer walk over from our work isn’t made too depressingly cold… yet in Summer the walk along the water would be much-enjoyed 🙂 Which way do you look at it? I like the Bearded man, that is all. Great new find goes to this venue.

‘September Update’: This place has continued its consistency in terms of very pleasing coffee and fantastic customer service. One to watch.

Blended Beard Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

Capri @ The Quays Café
New Quay, 28 Aquitania Way Docklands

The location of this café might make you think it is only for the use of local residents living in the apartments in the tall complex above, or accessible only to those visiting nearby… it is not. This café, positioned on a corner within viewing distance of the boats alongside New Quay, is a hidden gem worthy of discovering.

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I had originally and wrongly thought that this was a breakfast location solely for resident holiday-goers within the building to brunch at during their stay in this windy part of Melbourne. Turns out that the café sits on the ground floor of a multi-purpose architectural award-winning apartment building, and that ANYONE can come in for a bite to eat. And a takeaway coffee too.

Since discovering the place, all the times I’ve been here the service has been friendly. One of the guys there was so friendly on one occasion he was terrified (first day jitters?) but I always take softly to workplace jitters, rather than shyness clouded by affronting arrogance (Banc Café anyone?)

There is plenty on offer at this café alongside the Docks, with the large display case up the front showcasing a hefty dose of lunch fare, breakfast items (so many sit down here formally that I believe there may be a more extensive menu) and lots of sweet treats. Here is where you will find a decently-sized macaroon like nowhere else! They are fully licensed with plenty of bubbly on offer, though my visits there are always strictly caffeine-based, you know, being at work and all. I love the lighting, with the suspended lightbulbs strung throughout the café, and along the ample amount of small and big tables for you to sit at, there is a cute and cosy little nook where you can lounge at by the front door and wait for your coffee to be made, or just make yourself comfy reading some mags.

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The coffee comes in regular and large, and though the sizes aren’t really indicative of that – well the small is definitely a small, but the large I’d call a regular to be honest – the prices at least aren’t too ridiculous for coffee.

In a nutshell
Coffee: $3.70 for a small, $4:20 for a large… nice flavour, I don’t mind it, but I do realise they were generous with the sugar as my cap was also tasting quite sweet.
Food: There’s so much to choose from, from your everyday café lunch items such as rolls, sausage rolls, to more interesting kale quiches, and then there is a multitude of cakes which are really good eye-candy. The coconut cream cake looked amazing. The macaroons I will eat at some stage. There is so much quality-looking food, that I might just grab something for lunch from there tomorrow…
Service: Really friendly, part of the reason I like going there, apart from the decently priced coffee. And they’ve been consistently nice with that, despite seeing them being swept off their feet on a Sunday morning with an influx of customers checking out from their nearby accommodation, and having some brekkie right before/after they do their depart from the docks.
Last word: I am quite happy going to this café for either coffee or lunch or cake, and I haven’t even tried the food yet. The cosy corner and cute lightbulbs add a feel that remove you from the harsh unnerving elements of Docklands, and keep you cosily tucked away in a friendly atmosphere of calm and warmth.

Capri @ The Quays Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

De Gusto
766/768 Bourke Street Docklands

The reason for the / instead of the – in the address, is because there are in fact two separate De Gusto shops. One has a red sign, the other blue, both accessible only via Bourke Street, though there is the window in between the two cafes allowing fare to be passed through the eateries.

I’ve been frequenting this one for years. In fact, this is the place I first starting visiting at the beginning of my love-affair with coffee. Back then it was at the blue De Gusto, the more cas one, with a sandwich display, basic yet hearty brekkie fare, and of course coffee. A few small spaces to sit at by the window, but this was primarily a takeaway café.

Then after a while, and after trying out a few cafes in the Docklands vicinity, we went back to De Gusto – the red one now, that is. This café seemed like it catered for office folk, while the blue café (blue-collar) seemed to be aimed at the tradies building up the sky-rises in the city. The red café had sufficient seating and a wider menu. Coffee was still a main focal point, with decent cooked breakfasts, bagels, quinoa dishes and other fancy lunch sausage rolls and quiches up on offer. They were also into their smoothies, with a blackboard showcasing all their trippy-blended concoctions.

I speak in the past tense, because when this café was in its absolute prime, it was PEAKING. And the barista then, the daughter of the owner (the owner worked in the other red café, yet owned both) was absolutely brilliant, not only remembering your coffee order but your name, AND the correct spelling too! (extra points, as those with a ‘different’ name can attest to).

Sadly though, months ago it changed ownership, so the volume of people heading in has considerably dropped as they too like me and my work colleagues have noticed that the love and care, the knowledge of name and coffee preparation and just friendly atmosphere, has disappeared.

We still gave it a shot initially upon transfer, but after a few burnt coffees we left for other (coffee) grounds. We only decided to come back today, on the writing of this review, after hearing there was a new barista.

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Yes, new coffee lady. However, the café is sadly missing its vibe, both with its poppy and really old but awesome music it used to have. The coffee was ok, not burnt, but there is a flavour which I’m undecided about, so I don’t think I would go back when I have other more pleasurable cafes on offer.

There are still the smoothies, the lunch fares, and all the other things that used to inhabit the café of old. Just missing that love we used to feel, which kind of, is everything, and makes everything look and feel and taste that much more lovelier. If you are new to this café, you probably wouldn’t know the difference, and just regard it as a standard city café, nothing too spesh. And probably better it stays that way too, in your head, for their sakes anyway.

In a nutshell
Coffee: $4 bucks for a regular. And the regular is a good size too.
Food: Average city lunch fare – rolls, bagels, quiches and muffins.
Service: It’s nice. Nothing bad, no pretension, I just miss the old crew.
Last word: It’s a decent café, but I just can’t help comparing it to the old one and thinking it’s somebody that I used to know… a bit like Gotye…

‘September Update’: We have been here a few more times since, and there was yet another barista, who did not too bad of a coffee. Nothing to rave home about, but at least it was adequate. It’s still missing the vibe (and all the clientele) but this one may just come up in time…

De Gusto Café Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

Mill & Bakery
Central Pier, Shed 9
161 Harbour Esplanade Docklands

The Mill was the first café to really excite us at work a few years back. It was only a short walk away, alongside the water’s edge looking out over the docked boats, with nearby fisherman stationed calmly on the boardwalk and waiting for a catch to excite their disposition. You cannot deny, the position of it is pretty. There is outdoor seating, and inside too there is a large communal table, a smaller round table, and chairs set up alongside the perimeter of the café with some looking out onto the waters beyond.

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This really is a beautiful little café: visually striking, a cross between French provincial and quaint Grandma’s cottage, the space is quiet and comforting, added to by the large window on one side of the café showing through to the bread-making process happening in the adjoining room. They make bread that you can buy in loaves, or in their rolls, and this authentic touch adds some further artisan class to the atmosphere.

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Alongside the coffee, they have delicious rolls, an assortment of VERY pretty almost (almost) too attractive to eat pastries and tiny cakes, and cute little bikkies or fudge sometimes abound the quarters too. It is all very pretty and fancy, and so too is the price… but it is worth it. The quality of the ingredients is apparent and very much valued. I’ve often had some of their rolls, and their pastries too, and can attest that the muffins, bombolone and danishes are amazing. You can tell the difference between a proper pastry place and a try-hard, and this is definitely the former.

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Where the food revels in its consistency, the coffee lacks. In fact, the only think consistent about the coffee is how inconsistent it is.

Back in the day there was a great manager/barista who hailed from France… her coffees were consistent and superb, however she couldn’t stay in the country due to Visa issues, and since her exit the coffee has been up and down depending on who makes it. On the day of this writing, the coffee was strong, and not bad in flavour.

But not bad doesn’t quite cut it always, does it?

The service has always been fairly straight-forward, and where others receive, how shall I call it, more personal service (?!) I’ve never really gotten more than a customer-produced smile. Yep, French lady was the best.

One of the advantages of this café is that it is open every day, even on weekends (yes! when I have to work a Sunday) and is even open, for us/those poor fools who need to work public holidays, on those sacred days too – though in case this does change in the future, best to confirm before heading down.

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In a nutshell
Coffee: A bit of a controversy amongst some of my work colleagues, when the price of a large coffee jumped from $4 to $4.50 overnight. Many were upset. (First world problems I know). The large is more a decent-sized average cup size, while the small (don’t you dare try to tell me it’s a regular) is just not cut out for my caffeine addiction. Flavour: definitely strong, not smooth.
Food: Amazing. Savoury or sweet, you won’t be disappointed.
Service: We’ll call this one ‘just enough.’ Sometimes you get a worthier smile. I think they might just be under-staffed.
Last word: This is a great place to revel in beauty, and calm yourself with watery views. If they improve on their coffee-making skills, alongside the already great food on offer, it will really be a café to be reckoned with.

Mill & Bakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

THE FINAL SAY!
The most impressive and best-tasting coffee to date has come out of Story. If they keep their coffee temperatures just that little bit higher than what they started at, they can safely hold this top spot of superior Docklands coffee within the area.
However a very close second comes the coffee from Blended Beard, and with their friendly and caring service and delicious menu, Story should watch its heels very carefully…