Monthly Archives: October 2015

Macca’s

Those who know me well may be a tad surprised by this post in praise of…Macca’s*. After all, aren’t the golden arches best known for – gulp – cheap junk food? And, while we’re on the subject, are a Big Mac and fries really food at all?20151016_115154I am a recent convert to the delights of Macca’s. Apart from a few random stops on the motorway, I really haven’t frequented the chain at all. But a few mummy friends assured me that it was a great place for kids. And – you know what – they were right. Our local Macca’s is a mere 20-minute drive away in Swansea. Air con keeps it blissfully cool at this time of year (a real plus in the Aussie climate), and it also incorporates a McCafé, catering to the national obsession with all things caffeine and cake. No need to head to Macca’s for a burger and fries, then, when you can get your coffee and sugar fix there instead.

On Friday, the girls and I unexpectedly had a day to ourselves. The mercury was set to soar, so I hit on the idea of Macca’s followed by a visit to the library next door. Ickle knew exactly where we were heading; the golden arches soar above the roundabout into Swansea, and the soft play area adjoining the outlet is also easily visible. Someone at Macca’s clearly knows how to attract the ickle generation.

First stop, McCafé where Ickle selected a strawberries & cream macaron, while I opted quelle surprise for a flat white, along with a scone to share. OK, so the macarons are not a patch on the Ladurée delicacies I dream of from my Paris days (sigh), the scone wouldn’t get a look in at a Devonshire cream tea (um, squirty cream for one), and the much-publicised barista-made coffee is passable at best.

But – hang on – let’s not be snobby here. This is Macca’s and I’ve spent less than $7, in return for which I get to sit in a beautifully cool space with my girls and watch the world go by. And then, they get to use some excellent play equipment outside, on soft fall (love that surface – way less dirt for Mivvy to munch on). Like I said, the mummies were right: Macca’s is great for kids, and it’s a pretty good spot for their mummies too.Macca's1*Australians love their diminutives, hence McDonald’s becomes Macca’s.

Newie Rocks

In the 3.5 years we’ve lived on Lake Macquarie, I’ve only ventured up north to Newcastle once. On that occasion Ickle and I visited Carrington, met up with a friend in a boho café on the main drag, and picnicked in a nearby park. A return visit was long overdue.

Although it’s our nearest big city, Newie is a fair drive from our little patch of paradise. I know from previous experience that 48 minutes on Google Maps can quickly turn into an hour plus, especially with my lamentable sense of direction. I needn’t have worried, however, as the journey turned out to be a sinch this time.P1030371We met up with friends, Ettie and Bear* and their mummy, at Newcastle Museum. As Newie regulars, they were already waiting for us in the Mininova soft play area. What a great spot for tinies to escape from their strollers and crawl and clamber about! Ickle and Ettie are big girls now though, so promptly left their younger siblings to explore the hands-on exhibits in the adjoining Supernova space. They pulled on giant ropes to lift a car off the ground, floated colourful plastic balls on an air stream blown through a funnel, and much more. They also particularly enjoyed the historic train exhibit in the Link Gallery, or was it the gravel alongside the locomotive that proved the real attraction?P1030380We had intended to spend snack o’clock in the very sleek-looking café on site, but it was closed for a private function, so we headed out into Honeysuckle instead. An inspired decision. Here, derelict industrial land has been transformed into an attractive waterfront precinct, buzzing with trendy restaurants and cafés; there is also a fabulous 7-km promenade that runs all the way from Carrington to Nobbys Lighthouse.P1030389Ickle and Ettie had a good splash in the fountains and then took turns (mostly) to zip along the waterfront on Ickle’s scooter, while the mummies enjoyed sipping on their beverage of choice. And the tinies had a ball scrambling around underfoot.P1030408Newie rocks! Can’t wait for our next visit…

*Names have been changed.