Tuesday was Melbourne Cup Day, and Icklegen and I had volunteered to take the lead on a suitably-themed craft activity for our weekly playgroup session. Rather amusing really as until moving to Australia a few years ago, I had no idea what the Melbourne Cup was. And believe me, it is a HUGE event!
For those not in the know, it is a 3,200-metre flat race for thoroughbred horses aged 3 years and over. It takes place on the first Tuesday in November at 3 pm at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne. It is known as “the race that stops a nation” and with good reason; although the actual race lasts all of a few minutes, the country comes to a standstill for most of the day. Melbourne folk have the day off to celebrate, and people elsewhere take time off work, or slip away for a while, to join in the general merriment.
My first experience of the great occasion was at the Newport Arms, a well-known drinking hole on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. There was a heaving crowd by the time I arrived for lunch and the usual laid-back Aussie beachgoing look was not much in evidence. The ladies especially were dressed in style: fancy frocks, killer heels, sharp accessories and serious make-up were definitely the order of the day. It doesn’t matter that you are not actually at the race; you glam up as if you have been invited to swan around in one of the major pavilions.
So, how appropriate then, to focus on fashion, and not horses, for our toddler Melbourne Cup special. Might as well introduce them early-on to the importance of looking good on the big day! The obvious choice was a headpiece of some sort, so I got Googling and up popped this beauty from the Crayola website: a simple template for little ones to work with, and a great blank canvas for all sorts of designs.
Icklegen and I had a trial run on the Monday before playgroup to see how things went. I cut out the basic hat shape and then she got busy with colouring in…her hands mainly, although her T-shirt also got a bit of a makeover. I am a big crayon fan (not necessarily Crayola either!), but we have had to ditch those for the time being, as Icklegen has a tendency to eat them. So, it’s colouring pens for us, and Icklegen has discovered that it is far more fun to use these to decorate herself, rather than a boring old piece of paper or card. She did eventually put a few squiggles on the hat, following my lead, and then we got onto the really fun bit: glueing!
We stuck on feathers, beads, metallic shapes, googly eyes and small rolled-up balls of tissue paper. I was glue monitor, and my little assistant chose what she wanted from the tray and pointed to where it should go on her hat. Excellent teamwork, and a fabulous end result, I’m sure you’ll agree!
How do you celebrate the Melbourne Cup?