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Much to the happiness of my family and the blind rage of anyone wanting to have a relaxing lunch in a shopping centre food court this fortnight, it’s now school holidays: day one. In celebration, we stayed up too late last night watching cartoons and then slept in this morning. Once we finally dragged ourselves from the bed and even made it into the shower and brushed our teeth, we set out to local super-toyshop Windmill, your destination for all the best and most educational toys around. We wanted some wooden toys for the Rocket as she seems to love them best, and Windmill also has a stack of great science gadgets and games, toys that show a diverse range of cultures instead of everyone being Whitey McWhitebread, and crayons and puppets and really just about anything you could want. Prices range from a couple of bucks to super-pricey gorgeous things but you’ll find something in your price range if you need a cool present. We scooped up some wooden blocks, a dog with a bell, and some emotion dice for Teach’s classroom for around thirty dollars all up.

 

After an exhausting half hour of excitedly showing each other toys and terrifying the baby with Ned Kelly hand-puppets, we were starved, and while Mont Albert has a pile of bakeries and milk bars and restaurants, the only real cafe setting is Caf-feine. It’s a pretty enough place and the service is lovely; in a surprise to no one, I ordered avocado and mushrooms on toast, and Teach ordered the gluten-free pasta (he’s not gluten free, but liked the sound of the flavours.)

Yeah, no amount of Instagram filtering will turn me into a good photographer. The Rocket is eating her new dog up in the corner; she is very good at cafes, though she will desperately try and stick her fingers in everything you’re eating. Look, I want desperately to love Caf-feine. It’s got wi-fi, a courtyard garden, piles of toys, and is within walking distance of my place. The people are friendly and they’ve got a flexible menu with gluten-free and vegetarian options. Unfortunately, the food itself has yet to floor me. It’s a kind of say-what-it-is menu, which means when you order something it doesn’t really come with a flavour kick. My mushrooms and avocado weren’t helped with spice or anything, though the mushrooms maybe had a hint of soy or something (something not-breakfast-y, though.) Teach’s pasta was pasta plus rocket, olives and sundried tomatoes, and nothing else, and he didn’t finish it. It’s not that the food is ghastly, it’s just uninspired, and if I was hungry and needed to be nearby I’d probably head up the road to the Balwyn shops and try out a cafe there (which I really should do.) Anyway, we got a can of coke from the milk bar afterwards then the Rocket howled on the way home, but now everyone is at home and the cat has helped knock over some of the new blocks so I’d say today was successful all up.

 

Windmill

591 Whitehorse Road
Mont Albert

9830 4336

(there are also stores in Hobart, Launceston and Adelaide)

It’s a bit crowded, but you can buy stuff online!

 

Caf-feine

597 Whitehorse Road

Surrey Hills

9830 2604

There’s a ramp up to the door, a decent amount of maneuvering space inside, and a toybox to play with. Service at a high counter. I didn’t use the bathroom, but the signage indicates there’s a disabled toilet out the back with the others.

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