Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Creatures of Habit

Nun too shabby

435 Nepean Hwy, Frankston, Vic 3199

Creatures of Habit on Urbanspoon

Headed down bayside way (Frankston) this weekend for a long, overdue catchup with a friend. We made our way to the Quest Apartments precinct on Nepean Highway, opposite Maccas golden arches (not an option for us!).

Paninis and wraps fresh from the cabinet
Of all the choices available we ended up going with a newish cafe, Creatures of Habit. Its apparently under new ownership and newly renod, but as this was my first visit I cant compare before and after. The after presents a clean, modern, freshness with its white-tiled walls, natural wood furnishings and yellow flashes of colour, matching the menus. Some other customers were admiring the finished works with the manager on duty, giving it the big thumbs up.

Clean and fresh new look
The front counter sports a range of delicious-looking wraps and paninis but, after checking out the menu, as well as what other customers were eating, I decided I was craving the smashed avocado and fetta on toast with poached eggs to go with my coffee. (I am very much a creature of habit, a serial monogamist with a menu; smashed avo and fetta is my current main squeeze.) My companion went for the slightly more substantial main meal of grilled chicken salad and decided it was wine oclock, opting for a glass of sav blanc.
Poached eggs with smashed avo and fetta on toast

I was ready to devour those eggs when they arrived, and we werent made to wait too long. They looked, and were, poached to perfection, the yolk oozing out lovingly over my avo-and-fetta-smeared toast. I must admit though, to a touch of menu envy over my friends dish (if I ever cheat on my avo and fetta, its invariably with a grilled chicken salad). All the ingredients looked so fresh and appetising, so I snuck a forkful (or three) got my bit on the side, as it were. Yum and yum! No complaints about the coffee either (Creatures uses Veneziano beans – in my experience, a hard habit to break.)
Grilled chicken salad
Yes, I could easily become a habitual critter if I lived in the area. But I think I'd need to go wild and eat my way through the menu – time to discover my next long-term lunching love interest. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Lip Cafe

Smackingly Tasty

226 Waterdale Rd Ivanhoe VIC 03079

Lip Cafe on Urbanspoon

Cute menu – but be sure to check the specials board
A lovely 20-minute cycle along the Darebin Creek trail from Preston to Ivanhoe and I arrive at Lip Cafe for lunch with a friend. Great service, good coffee and tasty food.

A cafe with a narrow shopfront, it's deceptively spacious, with seating nooks hidden around each corner, and outdoor tables both front (streetside) and back (courtyard). We claimed a pozzie in the back, walking past the bustling kitchen and observing bacon rashers sizzling in the pan as we did so – let the salivating commence.

Erin, our server, was friendly and professional, delivering table water and our coffees promptly, and directing our attention to the day's specials, successfully selling two dishes from the board. Mine was a Vietnamese Beef Salad – I wasn't expecting the rice and egg, to be honest, but it was a well-rounded and tasty dish, the salad elements crisp and plentiful and the rice cooked perfectly so that it didn't become stodgy or heavy. In fact, it was one of those meals where you appreciate the cleverness of the flavour and texture combinations more with each mouthful.

Vietnamese beef salad
My lunch companion went for the Malay Rendang Curry, which she assured me was delicious (though not photogenic, so no photo here, soz). 

The atmosphere was convivial and relaxed, with just the right amount of busy. Erin almost – almost! – convinced us to top off lunch with something sweet, but we resisted. On our way out, though, I clocked fresh-made biscuits baking in the oven – accompanied by more tantalising aromas – and suspect I shall be back on the bike one day soon to sample them.

Waiter station and wall of condiments
Geometric wall patterns

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Palm Sunday Walk For Refugees


Thrilled that my tweet made it into the Guardian article about the Palm Sunday Walk For Refugees. (For the record, after I took that photo I checked with the young girl and her parents – at least I assume they were her parents – that it was ok.)

Numbers? Mainstream media seems to have a tendency to downplay the figures for these things. I'd estimate 10,000 at the Melbourne rally at least.


Monday, March 3, 2014

Seeking Asylum in the Lucky Country

Flipboard Magazine

I've created a Flipboard magazine collating news stories, blogs and other material relating to the Australian government's policies and processes regarding asylum seekers.

If you want to stay up to date with the latest news and information on this issue, feel free to subscribe to the magazine, or just check back in here on a regular basis. I'll be flipping new articles into the magazine as I come across them.

View my Flipboard Magazine.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The wrong question

The Government and the Opposition keep talking about boats, and borders, and people smugglers. They're deliberately and continually missing the point.

The problem has never been the boats. The problem has never been porous borders.

There is a global humanitarian crisis of asylum seekers and refugees. Afghanistan, Iraq, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Syria...

Men, women and children are fleeing for their lives, and a tiny proportion of them are coming to us and asking for our help – this is the problem.

A humanitarian response to a humanitarian crisis is our challenge.

Orange lifeboats may not sink, but nor do they offer protection from persecution, grant work rights, give access to education. Orange lifeboats do not bring freedom.

By turning people away, pushing people back, locking people up, and denying family reunions, we are adding to the humanitarian crisis, not alleviating it. We are saying die somewhere else, fuck off we're full, you are not welcome here.

Safe pathways to Australia. Not imprisonment, not lifeboats bound for Indonesia. Safe pathways. Safe passage. Safe harbour. This is the only answer.

If you think the answer is Stop the Boats, you're asking the wrong fucking question.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Life of a Bike

Making merit

The 30-quid special

There I was, sitting outside a pub in Tooting, South London, drinking pints of lager with my new English husband and a couple of friends, when a decidedly dodgy gentleman rides up to us, eyes furtively glancing left and right. 

"Anyone want to buy a bike? I'll take 30 quid for it." 

The husband says to me, "Well, you don't have a bike – we could go cycling together." He gives it a little test spin and decides it's not too bad a bike – a 10-speed for £30 is pretty good going. 

"I really want £50."

"Yeah, but you'll take £30, right?" 

He may have been good at procurement, but sales was not his forte. 


The final ride up Bell St

Today, 10 years later, I took my ill-gotten but well-loved bike for one final ride. 

I pimped it a little since its 'purchase' – new saddle, tyres, lock (don't want anyone stealing it!), the odd service here and there. When I dragged my English husband back to Melbourne, Australia, the bike came too. Hubby and I enjoyed the occasional cycle together on the weekends, riding the beach trails around St Kilda when we rented in Windsor, and the Merri Creek trail after settling in Preston. Later, when my beloved Toyota Celica died its death, I began riding my bike to and from work, a hefty trek from Preston to Footscray (and back). Took me over an hour each way. I still remember the first time I arrived at Lonely Planet HQ – face red, legs killing me, all of me sweaty – and two others dismounting from their steeds at the same time (one of them the head of my department). 
"First time?"
"It gets easier."
"It had better." 

A year after having my first child, a child seat was added. Admittedly it carried my bag more often than my son, but he did enjoy a few bike rides with Mummy until my progressing pregnancy with #2 put an end to that.  

Then as a freelancer working from home, I still used the bike when I could, cycling to and from the gym and various places around town on days the kids were in childcare. This 30-quid special really didn't owe me anything.


Three weeks ago I bought a new bike. It's an e-bike, a pedal-assist electric bike. It's awesome, I love it, but that's for another post…

As I whizzed around from A to B on my new wheels, my 30-quid special was left out in the cold, or rather, in the back shed gathering dust. Until I remembered reading an article in the local Leader some time ago: 

Asylum seekers living on bridging visas in our community have no work rights; they receive less than Newstart, about $440 a fortnight. After rent and bills, they're left with maybe $3 to $5 a day to live off. When your budget is this tight, even a Metcard for using public transport becomes out of reach, an occasional luxury. A bike becomes a lifeline, free transport to attend immigration appointments, to get to the doctors, to get out into the community.

I contacted Geoff of the Bicycles For Asylum Seekers project, who told me that they could certainly take another bike donation. 

I say goodbye, but it's not this bike's final destination

My final ride on the 30-quid special today, from Preston to Geoff's place in Coburg where the donated bikes are repaired, serviced and distributed to asylum seekers, was a chance to reflect on the life of my bike, and to wonder if this donation helps me to 'make merit'; to absolve myself. (What a sick joke the insistence of our government to refer to asylum seekers as 'illegals' – I'm the one who committed a crime a decade ago, fleeing the Tooting pub with what was obviously a stolen bike. Meanwhile these people fled for their lives and now just want the opportunity to live them.) 

Geoff assures me the 30-quid special will go to a good home. I wish the original owner could know that their lost bike made it halfway round the world and is soon to embark on its third life with someone who will really benefit from it. And I hope another small child gets to sit in that toddler seat. 


One last look back – Bicycles for Asylum Seekers HQ

To date, Bicycles for Asylum Seekers have collected 238 239 bikes, repaired 79 and distributed 54 bikes and helmets to asylum seekers. Like the Facebook page, Bicycles For Asylum Seekers, to keep up with their progress.

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Boathouse

Salad Days

7 The Boulevard, Moonee Ponds, Vic 3038

The Boathouse on Urbanspoon

Views of the Maribyrnong
The Boathouse rests on the banks of the Maribyrnong in Moonee Ponds. It is a collaboration between Gary Mehigan – judge and co-host of MasterChef Australia – and Steve Bogdani, their vision being "to share life’s simple pleasures done really well". 

Dining on the deck

Some of life's simple pleasures that I enjoy:  

– Long, leisurely lunches with dear friends
– Gossiping over good coffee
– Summertime
– River views
– Friendly service
– Scrumptious food

The Boathouse: tick, tick, tick, tick, tick and tick.

Waiting for the oar d'oeuvres
Mmmm, meatballs
You'd be excused for thinking three ladies at lunch would be all, "Ooh, I'm on a diet, I'll just have a salad." Well, yes, we did order three salads as it happens, but we're not on diets, and thank goodness for that because the portion sizes were more cruise ship than canoe. (In hindsight, the nibbles of olives and chorizo and spicy meatballs were not necessary, though that didn't stop us from polishing those off, too.)

Beets an' egg salad 
Vietnamese chicken coleslaw
If I had to pick a winner, it was the slow-roasted lamb salad with freekah, pomegranate and tahini; goddamn, that lamb was melt-in-the-mouth good. But the Vietnamese coleslaw with chicken, nuts and a wedge of lime was fresh, tasty and crisp, and the beetroot salad – with red quinoa, soft-boiled egg, walnuts and crème fraiche – was as tasty as it was pretty. 

Get your freekah on! Slow-roast lamb salad

Other pluses: the space is vast inside and out, so even when it gets busy you're still sure to find a table (though the car park can fill up). The room to manoeuvre, location on the riverbank, and excellent public playground on one side also means that prams and their owners are plentiful, but do not obstruct or overrun the place. And for parents of little ones who just won't sit still, the Boathouse has a takeaway kiosk facing the playground for all your babycino-on-the-go needs. 

My final verdict for Gary's Boathouse? Nautical but nice. 

Every boathouse needs a boat