It's a shore thing (or at least it will be next time)

 

I wouldn’t say we nailed our first visit to Shoreditch but we still had fun. The Shoreditch train station is right next to ‘BoxPark’ a little shopping mecca made from container ships; pop-up stores on the ground floor and then food and bars up on the second floor.

The width and size of a container ship fitted out with clothes racks and other merchandising tables makes it a wee bit tricky to look around with a pram (ok lets be honest, it’s a lot tricky, but hey we make do) and the top level is accessible by stairs only but if you have some muscles with you it’s still worth a look around. I’m sure later on in the evening this little spot would get MIGHTY rowdy but 12.30 pm it’s friendly and inviting, with tables basking in the sunshine.

So from here we thought we’d find the shops to look around. And so we looked up and down and around looking for a ‘main’ street that we didn’t find. So (correct me if I’m wrong) but it seems pretty much most of the shops are a mix of chain stores, vintage wares and super trendy designers tucked in and around all the little alleyways. Sooo, as always, on a toddler timeframe we had to move on but we will come back and do it properly now that we know what’s going on.

But next was far more exciting. A twenty-minute walk later we were at The Museum of Childhood (NB there is a bus that goes there too if you aint in a walking mood). Three levels of toys greeted us, spanning over a hundred years of history (probably longer, who knows, lets’ just say we skipped the information booth and went straight for the fun times!). Interactive displays, fully functioning train sets, giant robots…. Oh my goodness Austin was in heaven! Ok, heaven would have been the same place minus all of the glass cabinets but it certainly made for a happier visit (no screaming and crying when you try to pull him away).

Lunch of fish fingers and peas was followed by a run around in Bethnal Park next door. With free entry and a baby’s short attention span this is going to be the purrrfect winter hangout. 

Running wild in the west

 
Eh, what you looking at?

Eh, what you looking at?

Let me down woman

Let me down woman

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PUPPIES!

PUPPIES!

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It was a crisp morning but the sun was out, and despite managing to scratch his face with a mystery object, Austin was in a good mood. And not only that, the little man had graced us with his first steps a few days earlier, so he was both happy and antsy at the same time trying to wiggle out of my hold and hating life in the pram. He wants to be FREEEEE (run Forrest, run).

Finding a café that is baby friendly, not just in the sense that it has high chairs and change tables, but is really actually child friendly can be difficult, so off on the eternal hunt we went, over to the wild west on my sisters recommendation to Happy River Café.

Austin’s eyes lit up on arrival seeing the toys and trikes strewn across the grass (THE FUN, THE FUN! LET ME FREEE). The few tables in the sun were highly coveted, and I’ve said it before, but we should probably have taken our own advice and got there early (where does the time go in the mornings?).

Inside the décor was a bit drab and the menu a little daggy, but the food was good, the coffee strong and the location great. And really the reason why people come here is to test out some free range parenting and let the kids run to their hearts content. Or in Austin’s case take a few steps and then revert back to crawling (CUTE!). If you’re after a gastro café serving single origin coffee you’ve come to the wrong spot but I think most people would find it hard not to enjoy Happy River Cafe's relaxed, hippy vibe (the view around the back of the building isn’t half bad either).

So we ate our bacon and eggs and drank our coffee (thank you god for coffee), and then we walked around the Footscray Arts Centre gardens until Austin weed through his nappy and and then we were off home.

Wahoo another place to dine and let your kids shout to their hearts content. 

The simple life (or as simple as can be)

 
Austin LOVES the chickens

Austin LOVES the chickens

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Fresh country air, AMAZing

Fresh country air, AMAZing

Austin perfecting his "look in to the distance" pose

Austin perfecting his "look in to the distance" pose

Yeeha!

Yeeha!

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I think he likes the country life!

I think he likes the country life!

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The goat! The goat!

The goat! The goat!

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Mmm yum muffins

Mmm yum muffins

So we decided, that’s it, we’ve had enough of city living, being squished in our apartment, no backyard, nowhere to go– lets do it, move to the country! Well, not the country, Collingwood, to the Children’s Farm, and not like forever, just for a morning y’all.

The children’s farm was GREAT, and the one thing we’ve done so far where enjoyment levels from both parents and child were on par. Austin LOVED the chickens (and the goats and the pigs), and we loved seeing him love it. The air smelt like fresh bacon (thank-you The Farm Café), perhaps the only place you can view the pigs and smell the pigs (cooking) at the same time. Not for everyone. But hey, we are big bacon fans, so a PLUS for us.

There was so much to see here, and heaps of open spaces, green grass and animals roaming around. FUN. You cannot get this at the zoo or the aquarium. This felt less manufactured, and more real. A slice of country livin’ in the middle of the city.

And there must have been something in that country air because every other family was with one child and one on the way. Bump central. I felt a bit out of vogue actually but we were there to animal watch not bump watch, so all good.

Austin is going to be a BIG animal fan judging by his excitement levels at this young age. Apart from the almost panic attack I had when seeing the 'beware of snakes' sign, the children’s farm was a huge hit and we’ll definitely be back again. 

Why wont you wear your shoes, child?

 

So damn cute!

So damn cute!

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At least they make good toys.

At least they make good toys.

Baby shoes. Pretty much the cutest things in the world. After babies (duh), puppies and babies with puppies. Then you have baby shoes. 

Austin has so many GORGEOUS baby shoes. Lots were gifts and some I got sucked in by the cuteness to buy. And he won't wear ANY of them. Not only that, he cries, REALLY cries. Why you cry child?

For all their cuteness there is an important fact that we haven't discussed yet – baby shoes are completely pointless. He doesn't even walk yet. Ahhh so much wasted cuteness.

At my recent birthday party (I turned 30, I am getting old), he wouldn’t wear his shoes so I sat them on the bar like a little artwork. They may as well have been art for the price they cost (don't tell hubby, whoopsie). Baby would NOT wear them. Trust me I tried.

Please admire the shoes above as there is no guarantee that I will ever be able to get them on his cute little tootsies (without tears and tantrums). 

Coffee + park + sun = hell yeah!

 
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Thanks to my photographer   
  
 
  
    
  
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   extraordinaire    ( hubby)  for capturing these moments. 

Thanks to my photographer extraordinaire (hubby) for capturing these moments. 

Can't really go wrong with an afternoon at the park, coupled with some great coffee (thank you Kettle Black), and some beautiful sunshine. 

Slowly but surely the park is becoming more useful. When Austin was really little we took him to the park and well, there wasn't a lot to do. We put him down on a blanket. We fed him lunch. We put him in the swing, but he was too small, so we held on to him and moved the swing as if it was the real deal (a fallacy, I know). We left. 

But now he's bigger the park has become quite the little entertainment spot. Crawling, climbing, standing. Watching the big kids (always). 

Speaking of 'big' kids what looked like a ten year old boy looked at Austin and said to his friend 'What a cute baby. Can't wait 'till I have one' (whoah kids are mature these days!).

The little twinkle in Austin's eye tells me he's going to show this place who's boss in the not too distant future. 

Best parts of the park:

  1. It's free
  2. It's free
  3. It's free

What not to do at the zoo

 
Before Austin had his nap after 20 minutes. We timed this zoo trip VERY well. 

Before Austin had his nap after 20 minutes. We timed this zoo trip VERY well. 

Here's a little list for you of what not to do when going to the zoo with bubs (compiled by me, master of whoops moments):

  • Decide on a whim half way through the day to take your family off to the zoo 
  • Just sit around relaxing after making this decision and wait until your baby wakes from his nap to begin packing and preparing to leave
  • When you get there, ignore that the carpark is so full that people have parked on the nature strip. This surely doesn’t mean anything, nothing to do with the zoo being REDIC busy on this glorious sun shining day
  • When you can’t find a carpark keep driving around and around and around and then end up parking over a kilometre away and then walk back to the zoo (no need to worry about time, next naps etc, all is going VERY WELL so far)
  • Rush out of the butterfly enclosure (the only thing really that interests a 10 month old) to get to the next exhibits
  • Worry that your baby is not interested in the elephants or giraffes and stares at the tree trunks instead
  • Leave your phone in the parents room. It's probably just a distraction anyway, so you know, best to just rid yourself of these modern day conveniences

What to do at the zoo

  • Just do the opposite of everything we did above and you will be seriously fine. Oh and do, do, do laze around and enjoy the sun while bubs sleeps after being there for 20 minutes. Yep, WHOOPS, what a disaster.  

How to #win at life at the aquarium (with a baby)

 
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He is REALLY loving the fish. Can't you tell?

He is REALLY loving the fish. Can't you tell?

So we took Austin to the aquarium, and I'd have to say the visit was a success! #winning! I think we are getting better, smarter, wiser (whatever you want to call it) at this baby thing. And no, this winning streak had nothing to do with what we learnt from our first attempt at visiting (where we were far from #winning).

I wouldn't say Austin LOVED the fish but he did enjoy seeing them, most of all the penguins and turtles (i think because they have faces he found them more interesting) and as always one of the things he liked most was.... looking at the other kids. Haha.

Anyway if you're planning on taking bubs to the aquarium take advantage of our rookie mistakes (yes, before we were the better, smarter, wiser parents) and see my tips below:

Mega's Tips:

  1. Get there early, real early
  2. Pre-purchase and print out tickets. Then you can do a smug by-pass of the ticket line full of screaming kids
  3. If bubs is small enough, use a baby carrier. Bubs can go mano-a-mano with the fishies, and you can breeze past the brigade of prams
  4. There's no 'parent room' facilities at the aquarium so be prepared! They do have one lonely change table but if you have a poo-plosion or a boob-obsessed monster that require A1 baby facilities a small hike is required. Nearby parent rooms are located at The Emporium (level 3, 287 Lonsdale Street) or The Southgate Centre (midlevel, 3 Southgate Avenue, Southbank). Unfortunately, there are also GREAT shops at both of these locations, so you may just need to have a quick squiz while there!
  5. Your ticket can be used all throughout the day, so if sleepy time comes a calling (not for you, for bubs!) don't stress, let the little one sleep then pop back when rejuvenated and ready

Bubba does melbs

 
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maninlane

A lady the other day pointed to Austin, saying to her child "look at the big baby" omg I thought - he's not the little baby anymore, he's the big baby! Time has flown. It's time to get this bub acquainted with Melbourne town and what better way than looking through the spray painted cobbled laneways of the cbd.

These laneways aren't exactly Melbourne's best kept secret- they feature in nearly every tourist book- but they also don't disappoint. Hosier lane has some great pieces, with artists creating new work around the clock, which can be great to watch (though not sure about the fumes near bubs). Austin loved the mess of colour, perhaps a future art enthusiast? Banksy watch out.  The great thing about using graffiti as an art appreciation tour is that baby can be as noisy as he wants; you can pitstop for some crawling or running and no-one's going to give you the evil eye. 

Flinders lane was next and time for coffee at dukes coffee roasters. There is minimal room for a pram in this tiny cafe, but god damn their coffee is good. If you're after a takeaway this is the spot. Or if you want to plonk yourself down and take in the local buskers head to Degraves Laneway where you'll be able to get another dose of graffiti and bearded baristas.