Monday, July 8, 2013

Of Vuvuzelas and Sunday Afternoons

Here I was thinking the vuvuzela was banned. Like guns in Australia a few years back, I thought they had some sort of amnesty on the buggers and you got to hand them in and watch them be destroyed, thrown into a wood chipper like that bloke was in Fargo.

(Image from
It appears that this is not the case.

What was more perplexing was I saw the use of the vuvuzela twice in a 24 hour period. In the city of Melbourne - which was even more bizarre. Even more strange, the vuvuleza was championing the same cause.

The first sighting was on the up to the Dandenongs yesterday afternoon. Em had agreed to come on a reconnaisance mission with me to look at places to have my birthday lunch in a few weeks time. There was a bit of a serious side to this, as my mum is having a knee replacement tomorrow. She's coming over for my birthday and we needed to check some stuff out around going on Puffing Billy and where to go for lunch. I'm not saying Mum will be a cripple at this stage, but I want to make sure that she'll have a good time of things.

Driving up through Tecoma, the nasal BAAAARRRPPPPP was heard.

On this cold and dreary day, about 200 protesters stood outside a proposed McDonalds site in Tecoma. It's been all over the news. The residents of the Dandenongs don't want the Golden Arches in their suburb, there's been petitions and complaints but it appears our tribunal body have said yes to the beef fat and sesame seed smelling Corporation. Hills residents are not happy

You can find out more about it here.
"We did something like that at home a few years ago," said Em, who was in the passenger seat, smiling and waving at the protesters. Em originally hails from the Blue Mountains outside of Sydney - it's a place not dissimilar to the Dandenongs.

I beeped my horn, waved and gave the damp looking group the thumbs up.

"They were going to try and put a McDonalds in Katoomba. We told them where to go and they went away."

"I hope that happens here."

Checking the map on their website, there is still no McDonalds in Katoomba - and there is not a gold "M" in a red circle on the map in Tecoma - and long may it remain.

I stopped beeping and waving once we'd passed the picket line.

I do like it when I hear stories like this. We have three McDonalds in our suburb. I'm at a loss as to why, other than it offers employment to young people and provides trans fats to those who wish to partake.

Em and I made it to our first stop about five minutes later, after passing through the town of Belgrave. Parking the car, we made out way down to Puffing Billy to have a look around. Looking at this from the view of somebody who may be on crutches or a Zimmer frame (we're not sure, hopefully the former) is interesting. Where could we drop her off? Where could we pick her up? What was it going to be like for her getting on the train?

Thankfully, Puffing Billy is extremely accessible for anybody with a disability. It truly is great to see, noticing that there were ramps for wheelchairs - and the conductors were very helpful.

For me, I was just happy being around the trains. It's in my blood - my great grandfather drove the Nhill express in the 1890s - back when Victoria was in its post Gold rush flutter and trains were the way to get around.

Em had never been up to see Puffing Billy before. She was surprised that you could get up close and look at the trains without a ticket. She commented on the volunteer staff - the train tragics - who love spending time with the trains. The smell of the smoke, the way that the soot gets in your eyes, the excited little kids. It was all a first for her. She's coming up for my birthday in a few weeks time to get the real experience.)

Me, I just felt happy. There is something very reassuring about steam trains - even if this one is a volunteer run, donation funded, small gauge railways that run up and down the hills of the Dandenongs (if you're interested, go to to have a look.)

Satisfied that Mum was going to be okay on the day,, after waving off the 2.30 train (and not being admonished for acting like a child) it was time for a coffee and a bakery trip. In front of where the car was parked sat an old fashioned bakery.

Em and I have similar sweet tooths it appears.

We sat with our jam tarts and coffees outside in the mist, reminiscing about our childhoods.

"Being from South Australia, they don't have the same things we have in bakeries - oh the jam tarts and lamingtons are the same everywhere, but where are the Balfours Frog Cakes? Not the frog meringues like they have here.  Where are the Kitchener Buns? (Adelaide thing - a doughnut bun filled with mock cream and jam, dusted with icing sugar) What they call a coffee scroll over here, we call a Boston Bun. Why don't finger buns have sultanas in them?"

(Image courtesy of Wikipedia - the green frog cakes are the best)

"Wow, you know your bakery items."
"Yeah, that I do."

The jam tarts found in Belgrave were like the ones we had when we were kids. Crisp, shortcrust pastry and lots of raspberry jam - the only think missing was the raspberry seeds - no self-respecting jam tart should be made with seedless raspberry jam - it's not the same if you're not fishing out seeds with dental floss for the next two days.

Em and I then made our way to Emerald, about twenty minutes drive away. Our next stop was to search out somewhere to have lunch on the big day in a few weeks time.

Emerald isn't that big and doesn't have that many places that do a nice lunch at. We found a bakery. A fish and chip shop. A curry house. Another bakery which was about to shut its doors at 3 pm which felt like it was thinking about going out of business soon - it was not inviting at all.

Finally we found the spot five minutes later after a walk down the road and me remembering coming up with a friend a five years ago. This was going to be the for lunch. The bistro is down the road and up a steep hill , so we will have to get somebody to pick up Mum from Emerald station and take her there - no biggie. The menu is reasonable, the outlook lovely - the perfect place for a birthday lunch with me and a dozen or so friends and family.

After a quick beer at the bar, Em and I meandered back through Emerald to the car, stopping off at the decent looking bakery on the way.

If your're ever in Emerald, Victoria, stop here!

What is it about country bakeries that make them so wonderful. Em found a white chocolate lamington, with cream. Me - the last coffee ├ęclair had my name on it. 24 hours later, I'm still waxing lyrical about this coffee ├ęclair. OH MY GOODNESS - it's one of the best things I've ever tasted. If you're in the Dandenongs, go here. Just do it.

(Image from - but the one I had was much better - coffee cream filling that's better than sex)

We made it back to the car for the drive home just as it started to rain.

"It's been a great afternoon." said Em.
"It has. Thanks for coming up here with me."
"I never expected you to be a bakery aficionado. You like to watch what you eat."
"Bakeries and me. Oh hell yeah, runs in my genes. My dad could never pass a bakery without going in - I'm not much better. I have memories of him with mock cream dribbled down his chin. He was happiest with a Kitchener Bun in his hand."
"I don't hear you talk of your dad much."
" I don't. But when I go into a country bakery, I think of him."

(Image from Wikipedia)
We drove home, discussing politics, corporations and the passing by the now very damp protesters in Tecoma. You have to admire their determination. We beeped and waved at them in support.

This morning as I passed Parliament House on my walk to work, the Tecoma protesters were outside in full force. Vuvuzelas calling the politicians to do something and quickly to get rid of the proposed McDonalds soon to be installed in Tecoma.

Good on them I say.

They've found a real use for the vuvuzela - annoying politicians to listen to the people and see reason.

Maybe we should take one to Tony Abbott's next media conference... help drown out the dross.

1 comment:

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Pand,

As you can imagine we have quite a few McD's in Manchester, including the first drive thru one in Europe (when it opened God knows how many years ago).

I would get rid of every last one of 'em if I could.