Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Yabby Dabba Do ....

Review: Albany Bird Park and Marron Farm Western Australia: Nipper's Restaurant

It was a special occasion during our recent stay in Western Australia: My big brother's birthday. (Not telling how old he was.) *

Anyway, he decided on lunch at one of his favourite restaurant's for the occasion, the Albany Bird Park and Marron Farm, surprisingly enough, near Albany in WA.

My brother and his family are regulars here, and it's no surprise.

The relaxed venue is unlike anywhere I have eaten in Australia, or in fact, the world. Though it's a perfect spot for groups and couples of all ages, it's also family friendly (and you will see why very soon).

But first: The food.

The restaurant/cafe, Nippers, has an indoors/outdoors feel. The menu is fresh, seasonal, imaginative, and particularly for Western Australia, where dining out can be expensive, real value for money.  

Nipper's Restaurant, Albany Bird Park and Marron Farm
The specials menu changes regularly to incorporate whatever is yummy, fresh and seasonal. The kind of menu that is not just for tourists but keeps locals like my family coming back for more.

Being an (occasional) food blogger, gives a girl an excuse to be greedy. I was really keen to sample all the Western Australian cuisine my brother had taunted me about tempted me with over the years. And there were more than enough hungry mouths to help me finish it.

This was the tasting plate which included yabbies (more than I could count), melt-in-your-mouth asparagus, avocado, goat's cheese, salad, turkish bread, aioli and more. For $28 it had to be one of the best value dishes I've had in Australia anywhere. It was way more than I could eat, and I think everyone on the table who wanted one had at least one yabby. (My son made short work of several!)
The quality was sublime. So much so, that Chase and I have been dreaming of yabbies for months.

The chef sources the food from their own farm or as locally as possible, and you can taste the difference. The service is friendly too.
This was Chase's yabby pizza, which he pronounced delicious. The piece I tried was mouth-watering. Not a scrap was left behind, and this was an adult serve. 

This was just part of a chicken wrap shared by my nephew and sister-in-law.

One of the kids' pizza and chips ...

My big brother's marron pizza ...

A kiddie meal - ham and cheese toastie and chips which came with a juice box

The relaxed setting. We could have sat in the air-conditioning indoors, but chose the roomy outdoors area which meant we could watch the kids explore, and also enjoy the breeze, even on a hot day.
One of the attractions of the Albany Bird Park and Marron Farm was that the kids (big and small) could spend time waiting for their food to be prepared roaming the grounds.

 The farm is home to a wonderful collection of wildlife in the grounds, including dingoes, rabbits, guinea pigs, birds, ponies, and of course, marron For a small charge, guests can hand-feed some of the animals. The kids (and big kid Bronnie, adored it!) 

For once, there was no call of "I'm bored", and the meals were there before we knew it. And after, as the adults lingered over coffee, the kids went back for a second look. Bliss.
We were able to settle in for as long as we wanted to.

So while the adults chatted, the kids enjoyed ...

* Disclosure: Not because I am a nice sister, but because by sharing my big brother's age, I may, in fact, inadvertantly, disclose my own.

If you go: The Albany Bird Park and Marron Farm is situated between Albany and beautiful Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve, 304 Two Peoples Bay Rd, Albany, WA, 6330. Ph: 08 9846 4239

Saturday, January 28, 2012

And now for something really important...

Forget about national events, there have been far more important milestones going down at Chez MIA.

The week began with kids making the long awaited/dreaded Return To School.

 They were reasonably ready to go back to school, and even fleetingly pose for a photo.
The budget-busting, kitchen-table-groan-inducing school supplies eventually were wrapped, labelled and stuffed into these ...

It only took me about four trips to carry them through torrential rain on the first day. (I let the kids off with just the initial trip with their back packs, since I didn't think they needed to get soaked umpteen times on their first day back).

Sadly, the change of weather did not bode well for Miss 8's asthma, and the next morning we found ourselves at our GP's where she was treated and monitored for an acute asthma attack. Poor little pet.

When we picked up her big brother that afternoon we were met with the news that there had been a reported case of nits at school. A very ill child and a suspected case of nits, all by day two of the school year people. Day Two!!

The next morning I was dragged screaming  jumped effortlessly out of bed bright and early to celebrate Mr10's Mr 11's birthday celebrations! Yes, that's right, Chase turned 11 on Australia Day. (And he shall always be my Australia Day baby, just as to our GP, he will always be Sultana Boy. But that's a story for another post ...) 

Unfortunately, the never-ending Queensland rain, and Harmonie's and my own-ill health meant we had to cancel our park and ice-skating plans, but we still managed to have a pretty good day.

First, there was the traditional Dawn Ceremony/Opening Of The Presents, which this year consisted largely of Moshi Monster type goodness, in the form of membership and toys.

After presents, one of our birthday traditions is that the birthday boy or girl gets to choose to have a meal (or morning or afternoon tea) out.

This year, Chase chose breakfast. And, for a change, he didn't want to go to a restaurant.

This year, his meal of choice was McDonalds. With a pre-breakfast $2 birthday massage. 
A usually forbidden massage treat. Aaaargh ...

Birthday breakfast. Fit for an 11-year-old apparently.
Sibling love ... Could he sit any further away from his sister?
Later, it was time for visitors and of course, cake!

We made sure not to forget Tasmania!

Unlike Arnott's special Australia Day shapes!

Although Harmonie had a solution!

See? Instant Tasmania ...

Just another typical week at Chez MIA.

And the greatest of these? Was of course Chasely's birthday ...

Happy birthday to the boy young man, who make me smile. And laugh. Worry. And sometimes cry.

Mr 11.

Now he is something worth really celebrating!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sunday Selections: Back To School

Or: Guess what I'll be doing for the rest of today?

These are the school books plus earphones, USB drives, copy paper, pens and everything-but-the-kitchen-sink requirements for two children. Two!
And there are still several sold out books on order.

Plus there are these:

Bags plus chairs bags plus art folios.

Don't even get me started on lunch boxes, bottles and lunches! 

Now, how am I going to cover and name all the feckers?

How am I going to fit all this into my little car and carry it all into school next week? 

How in hell do people with more than two kids manage?

Most importantly, who else will be eating baked beans on toast for the rest of the month?

Today I'm linking up with the lovely Kim of Frogpondsrock for her regular Sunday Selection session.  

Friday, January 20, 2012

Message in a lunchbox ...

My kitchen table is threatening to crumble under the weight of school books, pens, copy paper, and in a sign of the times, usb drives.

Yes parents, it's back to school time, and already I'm stressed at the thought of preparing school lunches that will be actually eaten and appreciated.

So I was delighted when Kellogg's and LCMs sent me a sample of their newest product to try, and a few other goodies.  

Miss 8 was even more impressed, and wasted no time inspecting the parcel.

The new product is LCMs that you can write on! The idea is that parents can write special messages to their kids, on the bars, so when the anklebiters open their lunchboxes at school, they get a little surprise. A cheery message from home will let the little tykes know that Mum or Dad is thinking of them, and make their day a little bit brighter.
Chase would have liked a pack for himself...

Oh look! They even included one, just for me. (Excuse me while I run off to hide it. Thanks.) 

Harmonie wanted to check the flavour was still the same.  "Yes, still yummy," she says!
'Aww, can't I keep them?", she asks? The pack also included a lunch box, complete with icy lid to keep the contents cool, a juice box, and sultanas.

Hmm, interesting marketing. "Mumma, why does the doggie have its head cut off?" asks H.

The LCMs Write-On Wrappers are available for a limited time only to celebrate Back to School (or prep, kindy, childcare or whatever). The special bars gives parents the chance to leave cute messages for their kids like: 'I love you', reminders like: 'No hat, no play', or "Return your library book", or even share a silly joke.

I gave my Write-On LCMs a trial run when the kids went to vacation care last week.

They were going for a day at the local pool, where there was to be a giant inflatable jumping like apparatus to be set up for the day.

We were running late as usual to a tight schedule, so I didn't have time to take photos.

But I wrote something like:

"Enjoy your day at the pool" on Chase's;


"Have fun jumping at the pool!" on Harmonie's.

And after each message, I drew a love heart.

When I picked them up, both kids were chortling.

"Mum why did you tell me to enjoy the poo?," said Chase.

"Me too," sniggered Harmonie. "And you told me to jump in it."

"And you drew a picture of a poo!," Chase continued. "Mum you're rude."

Turns out my '!' and the 'l' kind of ran into each other in my haste, and the love hearts looked more like poos than hearts.

At least that's what my kids, and all the others at vacation care thought.

And now all the other kids want their Mums to buy Write-On LCMs for them too. I am hoping that's not so they can be left messages about poo, but I'm afraid the damage may already have been done. (Really, my heart was in the right place. Years of frantic note-taking as a journalist has left my handwriting as scratchy as a doctor's).

In any case, the very generous people at Kellogg's and LCMs have given the readers of MIA a fabulous LCM Write-On Wrapper Back To School Pack, which includes a backpack, lunchbox, waterbottle, pens, and of course a supply of the new LCM Write-ON Wrapper bars, valued at $150.

To enter, simply comment below and tell me in 25 words or less what message you would leave for your child on the first day they started school.

And now the legal stuff ...
The competition is a game of skill and will be drawn by a representative of Kellogg's and LCMs.
Competition closes on January 27, at 5pm AEST.
Please check back to see if you have won. If you do not check back, every attempt will be made to find you. If the winner can not be found, the prize will be redrawn after seven days.

Disclosure: MIA was given a sample pack of LCMs to try, a lunch box, juice box, and sultana pack to try by Kellogg's LCMs. No payment has been received for this post.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012