Tag Archives: Perth

Oranges and Lemons

My little son scampers, skips and trips his way along the uneven pavements of Victoria Park. We’re off to see the orange tree and the lemon tree, flourishing occupants of a garden down the road. The branches are heavy with still-green mandarins and ripening yellow lemons. Infinitely more fascinating that our own of spiky desert scrub, wilting baby bean plants and an orchid that never flowers. Oh, and I’ve not yet killed the lavender.

Our walking route takes us past car shops, the Harvest Espresso café (always closed in the late afternoon) and the Victoria Park Hotel (always open and kids eat free on Tuesdays). This afternoon, the pub is dressed up in balloons – purple and white for the Fremantle Dockers, blue and yellow for the West Coast Eagles. Going by balloon preferences, I’d say my little man is a Dockers fan.

Oranges and Lemons

Inspecting the olives

Our little master – let’s call him “M” – is no stranger to the colour purple. No, not the film, but the colour. His favourite fridge magnets are a set of purple numbers (6 and 9 missing). His favourite plastic vegetable is a purple eggplant. However, his grandad has bought a white eggplant from the supermarket – we’ve seen it on Skype. The horticultural world can be quite confusing for a two-year-old.

Down that road, up this one. We are winding our way back home, stopping to inspect snooty cats, dogs stretching their legs – or should that be the other way round? – and rude magpies. The house on the corner is a delight with its olive tree drooping with black fruit, giant roses, green figs, and a persimmon tree whose branches dip invitingly over the fence with displays of orange globes.

“Touch it,” demands M. We have agreed that this should be the extent of his interaction with Somebody Else’s Gardens. Then he consents to cross the road. Any cars coming?

The next day, we retrace our steps – past lemon tree and spiky fruit (plane) tree, past car shop where the red car has now gone, past pub with ciggy smoke and chicken parmi, and to the persimmon tree again. The fruits are all gone now.

“Somebody ate it,” says M wisely but with some disappointment. He is easily placated with the prospect of viewing the banana tree next door. Then he’s off again – scamper, skip, and gurgle of delight. There are many more gardens to inspect and other streets to explore. And they are all there in Victoria Park.

In the spirit of this post, I felt I should also share my son’s favourite YouTube video – everything to do with fruit and nothing to do with Vic Park. Enjoy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e4tk2xi85vE


The Op-Shop Around the Corner

That’s me – the blue Huggies box, slightly dented. Or, more accurately, that’s my contribution. Inside are old baby clothes, a few toys, unwanted gifts, a pair of velvet tights (no longer tight enough), and some scraps from a relationship best forgotten. All destined for the shelves of St. Martin’s Op Shop in Kensington.

Then there’s you. Perhaps you are the person who stops to admire the hand-painted kangaroo paw adorning the doorway. Or are you the person who glances at the display window – some quirky crockery, some fine pieces of bone china – as you trot past on your morning jog? The shop is open between 9am and 2pm, so you can always come back, takeaway coffee in hand, for a browse. Fossicking, my friend Alana calls it. She’d have a field day with bargain buys here. Yes, this shop demands a mixing of metaphors.

You could be like me – the contributor of the Huggies box. I come, toddler in hand, on a quest for for cheap toys and old books at the bookshop next door. The shopkeeper is a Phyllida Law look-alike, complete with bun atop her head. The day is cold, but her breezy welcome is warm. Some books are not quite so old and some are not quite so easy to find at Dymocks. It’s a real thrill to discover old Enid Blyton editions and the latest Philippa Gregory. Oh no, wait that came out of last month’s Huggies box. No wonder it looks so familiar!

Then again, you could be like my son – keenly appreciative of the ancient ceiling fan that sweeps its blades across the ceiling. Delighted to see an activity cube sitting next to the dolls house. Ecstatic on finding Maisy Mouse in the shelves. I believe we’ve made our choice for this week.

We’ll come again, of course, when the next box is full. It’s not so hard to find St. Martin’s – just off Canning Highway, just behind the church. Just the op-shop around the corner of Vista St and Brandon, offering a cheery welcome, some grandmotherly wisdom, and often a far better bargain than any Good Sammy’s or Salvo’s I’ve been to. Come and have a look. You may even find me there of a Saturday – toddler in hand and Huggies box tucked under my arm.


Election 2016 and the Sizzle Fizzle

If you are a poet or have a literary bent, do not read this. You are bound to be offended for:

This is the story of how one single mum

Pushed stroller and baby through the campaigning scrum

Queued up in the cold, having braved the fray,

And cast her vote on her first Election Day.

Have you survived thus far? I did warn you about the terrible rhyme. That’s what comes of staying up nights with a teething toddler. Imagine what I could do with eight straight hours of sleep! I imagine Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten are also having sleepless nights. At least, I’d like to think someone was losing sleep over an election that doesn’t seem to have resolved anything. I suspect though that the only person losing any sleep right now is the election commissioner or whoever occupies that position here in Australia.

Yes, I am now an Australian. Newly minted and proud to have voted. I must say that after all the build up to Election Day, the actual morning was quite a let down. Where was the sausage sizzle that my friends promised me? All I was offered was pamphlets and placards. “Bey,” said my toddler son hopefully, looking around for balloons – his current obsession, by the way. But no, my darling M, there were no balloons in sight – not even a flashy bit of bunting.

I was also dismayed by the rather long ballot paper, somewhat akin to a toilet roll, and the open booths. How private is my vote if I can simply watch which end of a sheet a person marks and guess that they must be voting Labor or Liberal? I miss India’s screened off booths and electronic machines. Someone ticks my name off a list, but no one sits ready to dot my thumbnail with indelible ink.

Choices, choices. Few parties to choose from, but many candidates. It is very hard to decide when one has little sense of the history of Australian politics and I find little from either major party on childcare, the one issue I really care about. A quiz on Vote Compass tells me that my sympathies lie 51/49 per cent for the major parties. It appears I am a walking Brexit decision. “The ultimate swing voter,” says one Australian friend who kindly gives me tips on how to vote. I opt to number the Senate candidates below the line, one to twelve, despite recognising few names.

Despite my misgivings and disappointments, I hope my vote does count for something. As another Indian-turned-Australian friend pointed out, they do make you register as a voter before swearing you in as a citizen. I fold up my ballot papers and drop them in the box. Then, with Master M waving madly to the ever-growing queue, we head off in search of sunshine and balloons.

As for the votes? As the ABC puts it, “Nothing is resolved.” They’re still counting.