Archive for the ‘nature review’ Category

marie wallace reserve

Pre-Rocket, I don’t think I would have given any thought to parks. If anything, I was probably a bit annoyed at them for taking up precious space that could be used to build a block of units that then I could buy for, say, $200,000. Instead, here were these ridiculous places with swings, and they weren’t vital to my pre-Rocket state so why don’t we just knock them all down? Anyway, this is why I am not in politics, and boy am I now grateful for parks. All the parks. Parks everywhere, yet still not enough. Could there be more parks? I mean, I have to walk like four houses down before I get to my nearest park. Couldn’t there be one next door?

I’ve mentioned Playground Finder before, a ridiculously useful resource for finding parks near you or near where you’re going. But still I miss them, until someone points them out. Finding a new place to go is a delight, and I don’t mind driving a bit to get to a really good one. The other day my dear friend S, who has very selfishly moved all the way to Upwey and who I did not make the most out of during the brief time we lived within walking distance of each other, suggested we catch up at a park between both of us. Usually we just meet at Knox City, because there is an abundance of coffee and the park has a fence so the kids cannot escape, but it was going to be a nice day so she suggested Marie Wallace Reserve in Bayswater, or The Train Park as it is also known because there is an actual life-size steam train in it. Sorry Marie, I’m sure you were super ace, but kids will only remember this train, as will I probably too because I can barely remember the names of other parents I meet even as I accurately remember their children. (Sorry other parents too, while I’m already apologising.)

S and her kids, newborn Z and the Rocket’s beloved best friend W, caught the train (which we could have done too, but I had the car and am lazy) and the two two-year-olds threw themselves at each other in delight upon meeting and then explored the park. And it’s ace! The train can be climbed on, there is a pretend platform, a smaller wooden train with levers to get into arguments over, and the rest of the park is an adventure playground type setup with ramps and things and slides and climbing walls and all sorts of things. There are swings that spin and there’s a giant sandpit and really, I was very impressed and would return, even if I felt slightly disoriented because I grew up in that end of town and had actually been to that park before, for netball training in 1995. Which then made me feel a bit old, but also a bit young again.

Before I get too involved in waffling on about my Lost Youth and other insufferable things, I will just cut that off there and say this was an excellent park, A+ would visit again, especially when we work out which place nearby has decent coffee. While trying unsuccessfully to find a website for this park, I discovered that there are hopeful plans in the works to put a cafe on site, in which case I will be back ALL THE TIME.

Marie Wallace Park

cnr Mountain Hwy and King St (parking for the playground is off King St)


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There are few things more satisfying than opening up your heavy hotel curtains to find the sky as blue as a 90s teen heartthrob’s eyes. It means your day is going to go well, your party hair isn’t going to become soggy, and your kid won’t have to lug around an umbrella and poke other people in the shins with it. So up we all got, ate some cereal, then spent far too long making ourselves all very beautiful for the party we were to attend in the afternoon. The Rocket and her dad had gone out two days before while I was at work and picked her a very froufrou frock, all tulle and sparkles, which she wore with skull and crossbones sneakers; I’d hit up Dangerfield a couple of nights before for my own Melbourne-black frock with a pair of cityscape tights; Teach wore a white shirt with bicycles on it and looked very handsome. We layered up with coats and caught the train to Newtown for our to-do.

Nicked from the Wedpics site (pretty handy tool for those getting hitched or not hitched) and taken by the superlative C, party-thrower extraordinaire

Firstly, Sydney public transport requires you to know which station you’re going to and touch-screen your way to a ticket; some other machines have this totally hilarious system with some fifty or however many actual pushable buttons to pick your destination. Melbourne has Myki so I can hardly criticise, but it was pretty fun for us all to jab at the buttons while laughing in a mocking fashion. Anyway, once we were beyond that we moseyed onto our destination, via the quite lovely Hollis Park, which had an elaborate, split-level playground. It’s seriously beautiful around there, all sloping hills and gorgeous close-knit houses looking over parks. Newtown, or at least the small part we went to, was full of giant second-hand bookshops (the Rocket led me to the economics aisle and made me read her the titles), cutesy little shops full of stuff I would’ve spent all my money on if I’d gone through those doors, and vegan restaurants. Our destination was Rubyos, a lovely fresh-looking restaurant where we had our own room walled off and I walked through the door to be greeted by a bunch of people so friendly and just gloriously, colourfully stylish, that I was immediately happy. The Rocket looked shy for a while until complimented on her dress, then foofed around twirling for a while. The non-bride and non-groom were beautiful, polished, and beaming; there was talk, and merriment, and readings, declarations of love for this moment if not an unknown future, and singing and such emotion that I almost couldn’t even. It was sweet and funny and original and I loved everyone by the end, including everyone who was very kind to the Rocket even though she was the youngest by some twenty years. To her credit, she was pretty great: she talked during the ceremony, but only because she wanted to narrate out loud the Maisy book I brought along to shut her up. She had puppy stickers and a book to put them in, but most of the stickers ended up on the guests as she happily shared them with everyone and eventually had people coming over for requests. And the food, guys, OH the food – it was GLORIOUS and there was MOUNTAINS of it. Grazing plates of glory: beginning, I think, with an antipasto that had the most absolutely genuinely best crackers and baba ganoush I have ever, ever had, and a tasty little salad and olives (blech) and other things; there were rice burgers that fell apart but tasted heavenly; steamed green beans with ginger, lime, and cashew nuts (I think), which weren’t my thing but Teach adored; ancient grain and vegetable patties; the best fucking potatoes I may have ever ever had; so much more, I don’t know. It ended with cupcakes that stained people’s mouths blue as everyone kissed goodbye. It was, of course, totally worth the trip, and I’m so glad we went.

Totally stolen from C’s sister. Sorry H! It was just such a loverly picture. x

We went home in the cooling afternoon and tucked the Rocket in for a nap. Teach sent me out to get a coffee and explore the city on my own, and I wandered the streets, excited to be somewhere new, somewhere so familiar – all the stores, of course, are essentially the same as home – yet the streets were too big, or too small, and the buildings were wrong, and so beautiful. I couldn’t find anywhere for coffee but ended up at a now-forgotten chocolate shop where I did some sketching (I remain genuinely terrible but I like drawing pictures of the Rocket doing ridiculous things) and had a fairly average coffee that made me quietly smug about Melbourne’s coffee scene. Just as I finished, Teach let me know that the Rocket had rejoined the waking world, so back I went, we regrouped, and went out for a walk.

Our aim was Bodhi, upon the advice of many friends who said it was great but we had to be okay with spending big. We are very talented at wasting money on food, and seeing as we’d already blown a stack of cash just getting to Sydney there was no point in holding back on a tasty night’s dinner, so off we went. Hyde Park was on our way, and I really can’t tell you how happy I always am to encounter mid-city parks. The juxtaposition of city buildings and grass to run around on – it’s great. So we ran around, then unexpectedly bumped into a street gang of possums who, unlike our local skittish brand, happily came right up, sniffed your sneakers and begged for food. The Rocket was very pleased if not slightly alarmed about the whole scenario; I’m sure our local possum hunts are forever ruined by this version. After getting confused and not figuring out the multilayers of the park, we found our way sideways and underneath to Bodhi, a sprawling, glittery place with outdoor heaters, friendly staff and trees knotted with fairy lights. They could have fed me torn paper bags and I wouldn’t have cared, it was just so lovely. We sat outside so we could get rice on the ground and ordered.

Overwhelmed by choice, we ordered plain rice for the Rocket, who jabs at all menus and yells “RICE!” at waiters even if we are at a pizza joint; edamame (as always); English spinach gow dumplings; Australian mushroom gow dumplings; smoked soy, coconut, chili and coriander betel leaves; chickpea battered winter vegetables with sour cream and sweet chili sauce; san choy bao and sweet yam tempura spring rolls. Edamame: excellent as per usual (and much better than the night before, slathered in salt); spinach dumplings A++; mushroom dumplings awful as mushrooms are awful (Teach adored them though); betel leaves miniature but absolutely incredible; battered winter vegetables hit and miss (I was also full once I got to them); san choy bao super tasty even though the Rocket, devastatingly, threw half the lettuce on the ground; the sweet yam was nice but way way too sweet. Share with four people, or maybe eight so you can have half each. One made me a little queasy. Still, it was a beautiful, satisfying meal, the service was lightspeed-fast, and it did cost a lot but hey, worth it. I pondered a few times during ordering about getting the peking duck, but kept talking myself out of the $23, and since regretted it entirely after my colleague Alison said, “You went to Bodhi, right, and got the peking duck? I have literally flown to Sydney just to eat that dish.” DAMMIT PAST FIONA, YOU NEVER LEARN. It cost us around eighty bucks and was worth it.
Then back home via the lit-up streets around Sydney Tower (which was closed, pah), and back to the hotel for the Rocket to sleep soundly in her metal prison while her jailers sat on the couch with Nickelodeon and popcorn.

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the night hunt

I must have thought, at some point, that the hours between 6-8pm would be easy. That when Teach got home, he would be thrilled to see his family, and would have boundless energy to play; that with my parenting workload halved, I would immediately become twice as fun. Of course, this is not true. Though Teach is, of course, thrilled to see us every night, he is also tired from a day of being shouted at by children and shouting maths back at them. By 6pm I have completely run out of all of my excellent play ideas, I’m tired of telling her she can’t have eighty-six crackers, and if she mashes play dough into my carpet one more time I may just replace her with a play dough baby that is much quieter and just as squishy to hug. So 6-8pm is often spent not at our best: dinner, then sitting on the couch watching Seinfeld reruns, sometimes sliding from couch to floor to interact with the Rocket, who is probably breaking crayons or putting her Sylvanian Families rabbits to sleep in various mysterious places we won’t find for years.

But sometimes, we are excellent parents. Sometimes we have good ideas. After the Rocket became fearful of the dark – “Too dark!” she would wail, even on the journey from car to front door – Teach made the dark into a game, and that game is possum hunting. Melbourne is rife with possums, as long as you have three trees in your street. In my childhood home, there was a possum box in the tree outside my bedroom window, where occasionally I would hear their alarming mating sounds and have terrible nightmares. When I moved out with Teach, our place had possums running along the fence almost daily, and they would eat the fruit we left out for them. In our most recent home, they don’t really come to our house, but in the leafy park near the station, they are often rustling branches around the place. So, armed with a torch, a bike light, jackets and excitement, we started going on possum hunts.

It’s worked amazingly. The Rocket isn’t the least scared of the dark any more. Now she just says, “Quiet, poshum hiding,” if we’re out in the dark. As she runs down the street in her giant parka, she yells, “Poshum! Where are you poshum? Hiding poshum! Come out poshum!” Sometimes she will stop and say, “Shhh, find poshum,” and point up a tree, which will be so still that it’s almost like the wind has stopped just to laugh at her. We go as quietly as we can, listening for shaking branches up ahead. Don’t do this when it’s windy; you can’t find anything then. One of us will hear something, the scratch of leaves, or the fall of a seed on the ground. We’ll pause, shine the torch around, even the Rocket quiet in anticipation. There, maybe, a flash of white belly, or the reflection of their eyes in the light. Sometimes too far away for the Rocket to discern. Sometimes perfectly silhouetted against the stark white limbs of gum trees. Some days, like today, the shaking branch is so close we thought it was a cat, but instead it was a small, beautiful, unafraid ringtail possum, looking out at us, happily eating a leaf, close enough to touch. Instead I took a picture of it on my iPhone, illuminated by Teach’s torch. The Rocket was frozen, clinging to her father’s side like a marsupial baby, staring at it with a smile as wide as could be. We left, not wanting to panic the little creature too much more (and, well, we were also flashing our torches into somebody’s front yard), and went to the petrol station around the corner for snacks and a new Matchbox car for the Rocket. On the way back, we stopped, and it was still there, still eating, still watching us. Teach, after all that, couldn’t resist brushing his hand against its fur. “One of the softest things I’ve ever felt,” he reported in a wistful voice, “Like a baby’s breath.” We went on, wondering if there was any point in going on another possum hunt in the future when they could surely never live up to this. Just around the corner from our house, we stopped by our lucky possum tree, and sitting where the trunk branched into two, was a brushtail possum – the kind you don’t pat if you enjoy having fingers – which watched us from about ten feet up. The Rocket put her arms out and said, “Poshum hug. I come to you poshum! Hug!” Even after we explained that it wasn’t a great idea, she just said agreeably, “Okay. Poshum come here. Poshum hug,” because she does not listen.

Back at home we looked over the pictures and she smiled again. “Poshum ate flower,” she said knowledgeably. “No poshum hug,” she concluded.

No, you shouldn’t hug them. But they can stop you from being scared of the dark.

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More than a year ago, when all of our kids were still too young to walk, my mothers group took our pile of children to Ruffey Park. On the Victoria Street side, there’s an adventure playground, barbecues, a set of very shiny toilets; we were impressed. But kids who can’t walk don’t really enjoy parks that much; we sat under the shade of a tree, threw a pile of toys in the middle and let them Battle Royale it out on our picnic rugs. We always went to parks when our kids were tiny, just to sit in the grass and swap stories and breastfeed and not actually touch the playground equipment, because don’t you know swings are DANGEROUS? I remember those times fondly, distant memories where our children couldn’t run off at high speed in different directions halfway through an important and meaningful conversation with another mother. I enjoy my time with the Rocket more now that she has an attitude, but I probably haven’t finished a sentence out loud with my mother-pals for about ten months. (At least they understand.)

Then, at their first birthday bonanza, while they were all precariously balancing and taking tiny steps, we met at Ruffey Lake Park again, with all children and bonus fathers, this time on the other side, coming in off the Boulevard. That park is for younger kids, but even then, none of us really tried out the equipment (I heard that someone broke BOTH LEGS *AND* THEIR KIDS’ LEGS going down a slide together!), too busy, anyway, playing with all our new birthday toys. But it planted a seed, and we’ve met there at least ten thousand times since.

Playgrounds are interesting, the way they completely change in size and terror measurements. The first time I went to Ruffey for a proper, actual play, I followed the Rocket around waiting for her to injure herself; the distance from the top of the slide to the ground if you didn’t go down the slide itself (and only on your belly, in case your shoe stuck and you flipped over and fell), was at least three metres, surely. The swings were too high off the ground. The step up to the little wooden cubby house was too high. Those rope ladders – couldn’t she get stuck? What if a kid kicked her in the face when they spun around on those tall poles? And the moving bridge. She’ll fall over immediately, obviously. All these other kids around the place – don’t their parents KNOW that it’s dangerous?

I don’t even consider myself that much of a helicopter parent. I let the Rocket take risks and try to help herself when she’s stuck or tangled, but I have my limits of where I feel too anxious to continue. I have friends who are much braver and I have endless admiration for their ability to let kids run free and figure stuff out, and I have friends who always help out their kids in sticky situations, and I love them for the way they’ve shown their kids that they’re always there. I’m not critical either way. Neither type of parenting is conducive specifically to raising a monster or an angel. We do what we’re comfortable with, and that’s super okay. I stretch the boundaries of my comfort, when I can.

This picture is from maybe six months ago – I tried to be very forgiving as she stomped in mud gleefully and became completely covered, because I am a complete hater of getting dirty and it’d be nice for the Rocket if she wasn’t as precious as I am.

Ruffey Lake Park is beautiful, and big. In fact, I’ve been to both park sides and wandered aimlessly but have yet to encounter the actual lake itself, though there are probably ducks and the Rocket would probably flip right out about that. It’s bushy, with lovely tall trees everywhere, and running tracks. There is a lot of space, and little interesting park additions: metal stands that could pass for bins but that actually make animal sounds when you pass, a water pump, flying foxes, bridges to nowhere, things to bang and make noise with. There’s a sunshade over the playground, and the aforementioned cubby house, and swings and slides and all kinds of traditional things. It’s a park. You know the drill.

I went again, last week, three days in a row. Once with my friend S (who took a couple of these accompanying pictures), once on my own, and once with my friend F and her son, whom the Rocket calls Hammy because no two-year-old can pronounce their friends’ names right. It had been a while since I’d been – pre-Christmas, at least – and I noticed something about the park: it had shrunk. I don’t know why the council made everything slightly smaller, but they did. The distance from the top of the slide to the ground was shorter than I was, because I could reach up and give my daughter a kiss as she stood proudly at the top deciding which way to go down. I didn’t worry that she would catapult directly off the side of the equipment where you slide down the pole; I thought that she’d probably realise she couldn’t get down, and would head for the slide. She had a go at the rope ladder, went into the cubby house and made some friends. She helped another little girl up the steps to the slide. A magpie stole a cracker right out of her beautiful little hand, and she cried for a brief moment, accepted my hug, then realised there was a DOG RIGHT OVER THERE, so who cares if a magpie stole your cracker? (FYI if they weren’t so fast I would’ve punched that magpie right in the face, because I don’t believe in animal cruelty, unless said animal is mean to my kid.)

We call these things “weeble-wobbles”, because everything is baby talk now. Or “waby wawk”, as it is known as of right now. Notice the tucked-in t-shirt is so she doesn’t get slide-burn on her skin. Practical, yet not at all stylish.

I asked the Rocket if she wanted to go over to the big mountain of slides; F hesitated with Hammy, as they are much longer slides, and the climb to get there is complicated. I knew exactly why she was worried – for the same reason I had been just two days earlier – and suggested we go anyway, as a mother team: one at the top, getting the kids up there, one at the bottom to catch them. She walked up the side, looked down at us and said, “You know, this isn’t as tall any more.”

May this campaign to make playgrounds smaller, month by month, never stop.

Slide mountain: you climb up to get there. If you’re two, you might try to climb up the steep side and fall directly on your ass, and your grown-up might laugh at you.

Ruffey Lake Park

King Street, George Street and Victoria Street, Doncaster


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Hello friends! Welcome to the year of our robot overlords 2014, which we happily rung in playing board games with our pal Dani. And, not to brag, but out of five games of Space Invaders Jenga and one game of Risk, I won every single one. I mean, I’m trying to be humble, but you gotta admit, I’m actually pretty incredible. (Or, more likely, that will be the high point, intellectually, of my year.)

Teach is on holidays, so we are cavorting all over Melbourne, doing Fun Kid Stuff. A few days ago, we woke early and chipper and Teach suggested we go to the Collingwood Children’s Farm. Like the zoo, a farm can be a bit of a tricky idea when you’re vegetarian. I am big on animal rights and welfare, and the idea of paying to see animals which, in an ideal world, would just be cruising the city streets and catching trams like the rest of us, is an awkward one. By paying to see caged animals, am I enabling a future in which this never changes? And while the zoo has conservation going for it (the Melbourne Zoo singlehandedly brought a stick insect back from extinction, and it’s not even a particularly attractive animal), the farm clearly doesn’t, because I’m pretty sure cows, sheep and chickens are not an endangered species. On the other hand, is it vital for children to see properly where the food they eat comes from, rather than think of it as an abstract concept, beef separate from cow, etc etc? Look, I’m definitely not here to judge on wherever you fall–and I clearly went–just kind of discussing how maybe this could be an uncomfortable situation to put yourself in if your ethics fall on the side of Don’t Eat Those Guys, I Mean Look They’re Adorable.

So parking (if you can’t score a free one outside) is six dollars that you have to pay in coins before you enter the carpark. Then, you follow a rather cute little pathway to the reception area, where you pay–it was $16 for a family pass–and then you are free to explore the farm as you wish, though the first place you pass is the cafe (http://www.farmcafe.com.au/, it looked and smelled delicious but I couldn’t see much for vegans there though they may be able to adapt something).

The farm is enormous. Seriously, in the horse pasture, I looked up at the other side of the river, the beautiful hills, and thought that it must be prime real estate. There is a lot of space, and it’s used well–you don’t feel you have to walk too far to the next exciting thing. First, we brushed a cow (you could also milk them but, you know, as someone who’s been milked herself, I am happy to never ever do that. Still, the milk goes to the calves, or any other orphan lambs or kids that are around). Next, we cuddled a guinea pig. I also worried about them, because the guinea pigs are in cages but you can take them out and hug them, then put them back, where they are immediately taken out and hugged again. It’s all very nice, and it doesn’t happen all day–there are certain times, otherwise they are left alone–but I just felt bad about it, even though the animals seemed happy enough. What happened next made me realise where my discomfort lay; we were walking when Teach spied some kids huddled in a corner. They’d trapped some chickens against the fence and were holding them down, and a boy was, he thought, about to poke at them with a stick. Teach explained that chickens don’t like to be cornered like that and that maybe they would peck if they were in a panic. The kids said nothing but when Teach turned they backed away and the chickens ran free.

See, the problem isn’t really the idea. The farm obviously treats its animals very well, with lots of space and love and food and comfort. Education is also an important idea that they serve very well. What is horrible is that kids can be completely awful and as parents, you need to be aware at all times what your kid is doing, because maybe they could be poking a chicken with a freaking stick.

Anyway, after that we followed a path to the horses (past a sign that said watch out for snakes, but we didn’t see any). The Rocket was very happy about that, saying “More horse!” as we went to look at each one as they hung out in their stables eating brunch. They were very big and they said neigh and stuff, OKAY¬† FINE, I admit it, I hate horses, they are ENORMOUS. At the end was a donkey with the sneezes which was pretty hilarious.

Around there were some sheep having a wander, so we went and touched their wool and the Rocket was just about dancing in excitement, changing her refrain to “More baa!”. There I took my one picture to remember the day. We also saw a peacock, which, you know, didn’t end well when we tried to teach the word to the Rocket and she just yelled “COCK!” for five minutes until eventually being coached into “PEEK!”. Further on were the goats, which were her absolute flip-out favourite even though she was too scared to touch them. We went and stood near them a lot and pointed and laughed at them. Hopefully they weren’t too offended.

Also we saw a cat that hissed and went to see the pigs. After pointedly not touching anything because I didn’t like to, the pig ran excitedly up to the fence I was behind and I thought, it loves me so I guess I can pat its bristly snout. So I reached my hand in and it bit me. Not painful, but super gross. Lesson learned. Wipes liberally applied.

There are also geese and ducks and bees and earthworms and tractors, and you can bring your dog as long as you keep it on a lead. And, of course, there are other kids, which the Rocket always loves.

In conclusion, because this got long (what a surprise, I’m usually so succinct), the Collingwood Children’s Farm is beautiful, good value for money, in a nice, picturesque location, and there are heaps of high chairs and benches near the cafe, and I don’t know if I’ll go back, though I’m sure the Rocket would love to. Maybe if they make a rule that kids have to be on leads as well, then we’ll talk.

Collingwood Children’s Farm

18 St Heliers St


phone: 9417 5806


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Earlier this week Teach went off for a few days on school camp. Which, you know, fun for him (turns out all teachers I speak to love going on camp, I always imagined it was a nightmare for them) but annoying for ME, as this meant three whole days in which I had to change every single nappy, get up for all the night yelling, and could not blame the trashed state of the kitchen on him. Terribly sad, etc. However, I found people who would at least occupy my days, and on Monday I bothered my parents all day (I didn’t get a picture but hot damn the playground in Knox City shopping centre is a great one and it has a FENCE to trap kidskies in), and on Tuesday my friend S came over and stayed until dinnertime. We knocked up a pasta for lunch – our go-to recipe is basically pasta, spinach, dukkah, sun-dried tomatoes – and then drove to Balwyn to bash about in Beckett Park.

I’ve been once before with my mothers group, but it’s not great for crowds of kids as they all run off to different places and let’s face it, 83% of the point of mothers groups is hanging out with other adults, so when you have to run off after your kid it defeats the purpose a little. Anyway, when it’s just your kid, it’s a bunch of fun. There’s a tiny in-ground trampoline for bouncing, a wooden maze that even I could find my way out of (and I am terrible at all mazes), lots of wooden ramps and pathways, four swings (including two side-by-side baby swings for those with twins!) and a big-ass sandpit with two of those ride-on scooper things. Also it has a table, see above. Beckett Park’s actually pretty great – there are toilets, heaps of space to run around, a viewing tower (padlocked and with no note, WHAT IS THE DEAL BOOROONDARA COUNCIL) and an indigenous flora reserve. We didn’t make it to the flora, alas, too busy chasing dogs and patting all the wooden sculptures in artistic appreciation.

After an hour and a half, we were burnt out on playgrounds (Rocket was NOT and threw an appropriate tantrum) and went off for a quick poke around in the new nearby organic supermarket Apples & Sage (no website yet, located on Whitehorse Road between Balwyn Road & the Safeway.) Holy shit, this place has everything a health person/junky vegan/etc could desire – meatless pizza, chick’n & cheeze pies, everything else you’ve ever seen or imagined. All not even particularly comparatively expensive, though S and I were a bit skint so we passed up any purchases though I was pretty pleased to know it exists and will totally return and buy pretty much everything.

For dinner we went to Vegie Mum in Doncaster – we’ve been a couple of times and it’s always been a success. Vegie Mum is a Chinese/Malaysian vegetarian restaurant, and serves up a bunch of mock meats and vegetable dishes. The decor and atmosphere isn’t incredible, but the service is always grand: they’re lovely to the Rocket and have a pile of high chairs, the staff are friendly as anything, and the food arrives at speed. This time, I ordered a laksa for myself ($10), and a plate of fried tofu ($4.50) for the Rocket, along with some rice (usually $2 but I think they charged us less for the small bowl.) S got tea, spring rolls and some other noodle dish I can’t remember and didn’t try because my laksa was far too delicious and I could barely spare some concentration on my daughter as she got rice all over clothes and her hair (but to her credit mostly did a vaguely good job.) S kindly shared some of her noodles (mine were too spicy) and the Rocket was generally very pleased with the whole scenario, especially when she got to dump a cup of water over herself too. (SIGH.)

I didn’t take any pictures of my food, because I have fallen out of the habit due to, uh, not blogging in months (which, mild excuse, is because I now also blog over here!) but my Laksa was a perfect kick of chilli in gorgeous coconut broth, with beans, noodles (ask for the egg ones to be swapped out for rice), eggplant, tofu, chicken, prawn and pork. Turns out I like fake prawn more than real, and I ate stacks of it, and BEST YET, when I was almost done I found SNEAKY HIDDEN PORK AND PRAWNS, praise be. Writing about it is making me a little dribbly so I best stop now.

…well, just after a quick smooch to my olderiest friend Rachael who prompted me to write again. xx

Beckett Park

the end of Parring Rd


Vegie Mum

27 Village Ave


ph: 9816 3222

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trippy taco

The weather was unexpectedly excellent this afternoon, so once we’d done enough block-flinging (the Rocket) and cartoon-watching (Teach) we went out to Fitzroy to the endlessly tasty Trippy Taco. We’ve just recently rediscovered this place after a few years of neglecting it (why past self, why?) and have visited it relentlessly since. We generally order the same thing (two mandarin Jarritos, trippy fries, quesadilla for Teach and the tofu asada tacos for me) but with Teach limited to one arm and me limited to one arm due to being the one to hold the baby, we both ordered burritos.

Teach ordered the original, and I got the tofu asada (because, well, I don’t really like change), the Rocket ate some of her That’s Not My Robot book and as per usual everything was delish. The trippy fries have this smoky seasoning that is near-mythical in vegetarian circles, and help me with my need for skinny fries. The tofu asada burrito (or tacos) is full of spicy chargrilled tofu, cheese (real or soy), salad and salsa, with a squeeze of lime. It was the right decision regarding the ability to eat it one-handed, but still ended up over everything, including my chair. Lord, do I love me the tofu asada–I don’t know what they do with the tofu, because I am bad at all things tofu, but these guys make it divine. There’s a step into the cafe and it is almost always insanely busy and is far too crowded for a pram inside–though not as much as their previous location on Smith St–but they’ve never minded us bringing the Rocket in, and today we sat next to a two-year-old who pointed out to the Rocket what teeth and chairs were, and called her gorgeous. So their clientele is clearly one of excellent taste.

After that, we wanted to make the most out of the weather and the end of Teach’s school holidays, so we went to Studley Park in Kew to look at the ducks. Teach bought some duck food and we sat by the Yarra River feeding them, and the Rocket was having a grand old time watching them intently. Turns out, ducks there are very tame, and will come right up to you for food. Turns out, baby toes look like duck food. Upshot is she got nommed on the foot, I shrieked unhelpfully, and that is probably the story of Why Rocket Hates Ducks Forever.

Trippy Taco

234 Gertrude St


9415 7711


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safety beach

With the Rocket born in March, and the six weeks after that being a haze of pain and awesome and toast, we pretty much missed the pleasant weather and fell straight into cold. And I am sulky as hell in winter, because it’s not the season to go to the beach and splash around, which is my favourite pastime. When I was pregnant, aka a whale, I basically lived at the beach, floating in the water and attempting whale sounds to call to my brethren. So I was desperate to take the Rocket to the beach as well so we could all enjoy sand and sun and etc and etc, and with Thursday declared twenty-seven degrees, we headed to Teach’s dad’s place on the Mornington Peninsula to take her to the water.

Twenty-seven degrees, pah. Well, maybe it was later in the day, but once we’d packed her up, put her in her cute new little suit, fed her and left the house, it was midday and still around nineteen, overcast, and windy. We pushed on anyway, and headed to Safety Beach. Which wasn’t a great idea as it was high tide, meaning there was about fifty centimetres of sand, and the wind had made the waves choppy. (Teach’s dad had warned me that the wind was strong and the back beach would be better, but apparently I thought I was smarter than someone who lives on the beach and surfs every day. Turns out I’m not.)

So we sat in the sand, dug her a little moat, dipped her feet in, and sat her down staying mostly away from the (cold) water until a surprise tide washed over her legs. I expected her to shriek (I think I did) but instead she flinched a little, then carried on. She wasn’t smiling as such, but when she has a new fun experience she usually spends her first time with it staring with a furrowed brow as if she is learning the mechanics of things (of course I am not a delirious parent who insists their child is ADVANCED. Except, the Rocket obviously is.) We were there for maybe fifteen minutes until a bigger wave washed up on her and she started crying, so we then launched into the epic ordeal that is Changing A Baby In Your Car. Upshot is she peed on the car seat (MY car seat) and sand will be everywhere forever. Despite all this I deem the day a success, even though it is nothing like the experience I had imagined, where we sat on soft sand under a cloudless sky as the water lapped lazily around our feet, Recycled Air by Postal Service played, the baby didn’t eat sand and I didn’t need an Instagram filter to make the day look sunny. Oh well.

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blackburn lake

Last Saturday, the weather finally barreled over twenty degrees for the first time in about five months, and I immediately started shouting “PARK PARK PARK” so that we could go outside and properly appreciate this thing they call “the sun”. So we packed up the baby and a picnic and headed out to Blackburn Lake, where I’d never been, but Teach had a few times with students.

Before you assume that this picnic will lead to sepia-toned pictures of my carefully constructed quiche, cupcakes, iced tea in a fancy bottle with a cork, and a wicker basket lined with gingham, just know now that I am not that person. We went to the supermarket and bought grapes, sushi rolls, corn chips, salsa and a two-litre bottle of orange juice to drink out of, because we forgot cups, and we also forgot our canvas bags so hauled them in plastic bags and did I mentionour surname is Classy? I did remember my ten-dollar picnic rug from Big W, and we were very good parents who remembered to bring a hat for the Rocket. And we only got maybe a third of the salsa on the rug, so, good outcome.

The park itself is quite lovely; it feels like you’re in the bush in some places, and is an interesting experience in how waterways work (i.e., some parts are full of rubbish, but downstream it’s cleaner). It’s a decent walk around for those with young ones, but not an exhausting one, and there’s lots to stop and exclaim at (i.e. overheard from myself saying it: “That DUCK is LANDING like a SEAPLANE!”) The lake is not for swimming but is very nice to look at, and there’s a playground, an oval for ball-kicking, and toilets, and car parks, and a community board with decent info on it. There’s a disabled toilet and apparently there’s a baby change room too, but I didn’t find it, though I wasn’t searching hard as I just changed the Rocket outdoors. Having visited the normal toilets, I don’t think you should be expecting a squishy couch and a microwave. We set up our rug away from the pathway and had a great time under the trees yelling at magpies and getting peas up our nose.

Blackburn Lake Sanctuary

Central Rd



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