Thursday, April 29, 2010

I'd go to the opening of a ... motorway?

Forget envelopes. I'd go to the opening of a motorway.
There. I said it.
I'm a single Mum, money is tight, and in fact, I learnt a long time ago that when kids are concerned, the simple things in life are often the best.
So when a flyer came through our letterbox proclaiming a new motorway was about to be opened, I resisted the urge to put it in the bin.
Instead, I asked the kids if they'd like to go.
Would they?
Would they what!
And so we found ourselves at a celebration marking a new part of the motorway between Ipswich and Brisbane.
And to my surprise, not only was the entry free, but there was a bus to save little (and elderly) legs, from walking too far.
Once there, the fun was on for young and old.
Kiddies could have their faces and bodies painted; oldies could climb the stairs and overlook the motorway for the first and only time; and a great time was had by all.
There was a wonderful atmosphere, with many workers and their families attending the day not to mention local residents. And the kids loved the freebies - shopping bags, caps, yoyos, and even coffee travel mugs (hot chocolate for them!)

Poster child for the cause

Pot your own tomato plant ...

Pussycat child with a balloon sausage dog
Lunch time - gold coin donation for a sausage in bread

Free jumping castle was a little boring since Miss 7 was the only child on it!

The press pack. Once, a million years ago, I would have been part of it!

It's The Climb (sung in my best Miley Cyrus voice)

Too cool for face-painting, Mr 9 opted for a 'tattoo' - Spongebob Squarepants

The reason for the fuss...masses of roads!

The Climb, part two
You have to start at the bottom to reach the top!

C. loved the balloon artists

You make it, how?
Fairy floss and face-paint - a kiddy delight!

Missy turned pussycat
Fairy floss plus Mr 9 = a very excitable boy

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Elderado Cinemas

It wouldn’t be school holidays without a trip to the movies, and when in Brisbane, I like to take the kids to the Eldorado8 Cinemas at Indooroopilly.

A trip to the Eldorado is not only cheaper than the huge BCC and Hoyts multiplexes, but it’s like stepping back in time.

I always tell the kids the Eldorado experience is a bit like going to the movies when I was a girl.

Brisbane’s largest independently-owned cinema stands on a site that was once a blacksmith shop (apparently the odd horseshoe still turns up occasionally), and is an icon for generations of Brisbane movie-lovers.

As a single Mum, I love that there is free parking right underneath the complex, and that the munchies from the candy bar are reasonably priced. That means I don’t mind splashing out on a treat for the kids rather than smuggling in our own supplies, which everyone knows, is nowhere near as much fun!

(Oh come on, loads of people do it – don’t they?) In any case, customers are allowed to take in snacks and drinks at this cinema, as long as they are the same as the goodies sold inside.

The Eldorado kids’ combo deal includes popcorn, frozen slushie, and a bag of mixed lollies for $6, and since movie tickets are already cheaper than the bigger complexes, it’s really good value for money.

The dinky old-fashioned seats are a bit small – I nearly sat on Mr 9’s slushie, much to his horror – but are perfectly sized for young humans, and a reminder to parents to abstain from the candy bar.

This time around, the kids chose The Spy Next Door. Starring the always-likeable Jackie Chan, the flick is pretty crap by adult standards – the acting is wooden, Chan is an international-spy-turned-hopeless-babysitter, and ‘the Russians’ are the bad guys – but the slapstick comedy got huge laughs from all the kids in the audience. It’s a pleasant enough way to spend a couple of hours in air-conditioned comfort – Autumn weather has yet to hit Brisbane!

If you go:

The Eldorado 8 Multiplex Cinema

141 Coonan Street


Ph: 07 3378 1566

Friday, April 2, 2010

Alma Park Zoo

My kids are a marketer’s dream.

They see the ads, they want the product. And they’re not just keen on theme parks and toys; Oh dear me, no. They are also convinced we need loads of the ubiquitous handy household stuff that are regularly spruiked on daytime TV.

“Mum, we need one of those,” says Mr 9, of miraculous inventions called ShamWows and Steam Mops. And also, those Zumba weightloss DVDs. Hmm ...

Anyway, for years now, the ankle-biters have been taken with television ads for Brisbane’s Alma Park Zoo.

Located on the other side of Brisbane, I’ve always whipped out that useful Mummy staple answer of ‘one day’, whenever they’ve asked to visit.

Eventually, One Day actually came, and the kids couldn’t quite believe it when we pulled up at the entrance.

It’s a weird set-up, where you pay at the entrance to the car park ... which means much fiddling with credit cards and cash, and I imagine, some delays on weekends and holidays.

Luckily, this wasn’t the case for our visit, but I couldn’t help but wonder why they do it that way. Perhaps it’s because, compared to other zoos and tourist attractions we’ve been lucky enough to visit, the entrance isn’t actually that inviting. Perhaps some would-be visitors might scarper after clocking the comparatively steep entry fee! (It cost $A72 for the three of us.)

It was pleasing to see free picnic and barbecue facilities under shady trees, and I wish we’d thought of bringing a hamper of goodies and drinks instead of having to make do with snacks from the cafe.

Perhaps we’re spoiled but the zoo wasn’t a patch on similar attractions we’ve visited. The enclosures seemed small and run-down, and in some cases, it was hard to get a good look at the animals via the cages.

“It wasn’t as good as they make it look on TV,” Mr 9 said glumly. And I had that sad feeling in the pit of my stomach that you get sometimes when you see wild animals in cages ... a feeling which doesn't come as frequently in these enlightened times.

To be fair, Alma Park Zoo is some 40 years old, and like many 40-somethings (myself included) could probably do with a makeover. There were loads of animals though, including red pandas, lemurs, and even a sun bear; and the kids got to feed a host of furry and feathered friends.

It was an enjoyable afternoon, though I wouldn’t rush back. And at least the ‘can we go there?” requests have ended – for now!

"Mumma, this aminal (sic) is dead!" said Miss 7 dramatically. Er no, it was just sleeping.

A sleepy koala

Mr 9 feeds the donkeys ... he was game!

Poo ... I don't think this dude has heard of breath freshener

Feeding the farm animals

It can't be helped, but it's always disappointing when exhibits are closed
There were some really cute two-legged animals there too!