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Dear Ted,

I was pleased to read your Wont Somebody Think of the Children speech. Obviously it would be disastrous if women in Victoria were supported to get pregnant and have much wanted and planned for babies in the absence of menfolk. I assume that your child-focussed new agenda will be multi-faceted. Now that all children are entitled to a mother and a father at birth you’ll be doing your utmost to prevent parents from joining the armed forces, or the partners of pregnant women from serving in war zones. I’m also assuming that all straight people will be tested for suitability as potential parents and contraception will be enforced for those who don’t make the grade.

Now that you’re all child-centred you’ll be advocating loudly for decent funding to support Aboriginal parents to raise their own children instead of removing them, for parenting skills classes to become as easily accessible as alcohol for all parents, for increases in childcare worker qualifications and lower worker to child ratios in centres, for decent pay and conditions for teachers and for universal health care.




This here little gardening blog completely failed to mention last week that Australia’s best loved gardening god retired from television. The blog also failed to mention anything about Peter Cundall’s final episdoe of Gardening Australia, primarily because its author was cooking dinner for her outlaws when it aired and the tv was on Scrapheap Challenge for father-son bonding time (uncle and cousins were highly entertained, auntie was less thrilled).

So other people have written marvellous things about Peter Cundall and his work first, and done it well, and I will add merely that (apparently like many of current young presenters on the show) I grew up watching Peter Cundall’s veggie garden taking over the Botanical Gardens in Hobart and thinking he’d make a pretty cool extra grandfather (I wouldn’t have trade either of my actual grandfathers). My mother is a keen gardener and has watched nearly every episode of Gardening Australia, I watched many of them with her while eating our Saturday evening meal before I left home. She may be their only committed viewer who is determinedly anti-compost heap*, who redesigned the garden and eliminated the veggie patch** and who was less than excited about being provided with free worm castings. I may never succeed in convincing my Mum to keep her own worm farm, or grow edibles beyond the basics***, but all those years of watching GA means I don’t have to explain what the hell it is I’m doing and look like the only person in the world who’s doing it. So perhaps GA deserves a medal for bridging the generation gap. Or at least for encouraging mother-daughter bonding over strawberry plants.

* she’s convinced there’ll be rats. I think there’ll be rats with or without the compost heap, they’re vermin, they’ll find something.

** I retaliated by planting my broccoli and red cabbages amongst the roses, she called me Cabbage Girl for a few months. She didn’t object to eating the bounty.

*** I think she’s slipping though. Last year she made cumquat marmalade from all the fruit on her (previously ornamental) cumquat, I can’t remember the last time she threatened to cut down the lemon tree, and she’s been debating whether to prune her plum tree for maximum fruit production or let it grow for less fruit and more screening. It may surprise you that I argued for screening, but two people don’t eat that many plums.

It’s been raining a bit, enough that I don’t have to lug buckets of water about the place, and things are slowly sprouting and growing. We seem to have daikon and carrots and a few broad beans, although far fewer beans than I’d like. The snow peas have sprouted but are growing very very slowly towards the climbing frame we set up for them. There are lots of self sown pumpkins and spuds growing in the shadey side garden, and we’ve decided to let them go for it. There isn’t enough sun there in winter to expect much action, but there are lots of stinging nettles and other weeds that do well there. We figure spuds and pumpkins, even if they don’t produce much, are better to look at.

We haven’t been doing much in the garden, just pottering, picking herbs and so on. What I have done is take the lad to the museum. Which was good. Not just the park this time, we actually went inside.

For Melbournians, or anyone planning to visit, there’s a good new Melbourne exhibition. I wasn’t a big fan of the the old Australia Gallery, but I’m looking forward to seeing the new exhibition again. It’s out with Our Kylie’s wedding dress from Neighbours, and in with the Little Lon collection of cottages (the neighbourhood around Little Lonsdale St, in the heart of Melbourne). The lad enjoyed walking through the cottages, looking at the baby’s cradle, the outdoor dunny with bucket, and the washing on the line. Then he stood entranced at the recreation of Coles’ book arcade and figured out how to start the symphonion music all by himself. He was very happy with himself after that. My Mum remembered that her cousins had a book from the Coles arcade when she was little, so it was good wholesome multi-generational fun. I didn’t get to look at every object as closely as I’d like (toddlers are like that) so it is good to see they’ve got some of the exhibition online.

The Lad also likes the special Children’s area, where they have picture books, a play kitchen, a shop and tables set up for drawing. There’s outside play stuff (hoola hoops and coits and all sorts) but we didn’t venture out. He was much too fascinated with the kid-sized kitchen set up to move on to any more exhibits and was disappointed when it was time to go.

Two enthusiastic thumbs up from all three of us. Each.

The Museum is $6 for grown ups with jobs, and free for concessions and kids. There’s also space to eat food you’ve brought from home (next to the cafe), so you don’t have to shell out for sandwiches unless you want to.

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