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July 22, 2012 / mummaVegas

The Winter Wanderlust

Winter means many things in many cities, and to our Northern Hemispherean cousins, Winter general involves snow chains, shovels, fur-lined bomber jackets, Siberian huskies, ice-fishing and finding two godforsaken perfectly round coals to make snowman eyes. Brrrr.

Entertaining children in the winter months also wields a variety of challenges for snow-capped parents and the younger your childlens are, the more creative one must become! I don’t mind how “advanced” you believe your child to be, an 8-month old cannot fashion a Frosty the Snowman without serious parental intervention. I can’t say I’ve tried, but that’s because I choose not to live in Ridiculous. And it’s an economic anomaly that icy-poles just don’t cut it as a satisfying kiddy-snack in winter either. Abundance simply does not equal appeal.

Here in the South East of the Sunshine State there is an alternative way of Winter life. I’m becoming even more convinced that, just like unicorns, if you’re in the right place at the right time, Winter Wonderlands do happen.

Winter had become just one more reason why I’ve come to appreciate the city of Brisbane: Ugg boots are still more of a “fashion” statement than a hard and fast necessity (I reserve my judgement on that). Buying six beanies for Boy Wonder is, yes, an inappropriate waste of money. But come on… look at that face. He likes it!

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Hello Owlbie!

Essentially, winter in Brisbane is a sure-fired reminder of the gratitude one must feel for the respite from another blisteringly dank, arm-pit heat of a Brisbane summer.

It perhaps is no coincidence then that July, the midwinter summit, could also be known as FESTIVUS. Better yet, FAMILY FESTIVUS!  How can you complain about living in a city that can stage a major family-friendly festival-style activity every weekend and none of these arrangements are rained out?

I’ve spent the best part of July checking out all the Brisbane has to offer in the way of getting outdoors and embracing the diversity of this inspiring city. I encourage families, couples and singles alike to update their 2013 calendar to earmark these Winter events

Teneriffe Festival – First weekend of July each year: FREE

The Brisbane French Festival – Bastille Weekend each year: FREE

Delectable – Regional Flavours: Delectable is ticketed, Regional Flavours is FREE (plans for 2013 TBC)

The first weekend in July kicked off my Winter Family Festivus with the Teneriffe Festival in, ahem, Teneriffe. I just love that a new little borough, circa 2010, decides to celebrate it’s “on the map” status by hosting a knees-up every year. And by crikey they do it well.

The usual vintage, hobby, and heirloom characteristics common to the festival circuit were certainly in full flight….

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This guy knew SO much about music. Hearing it played on Ye Olde Gramophone made me happyImageImage

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G’Day Sailor

….however the Teneriffe Festival scene went further by answering the Call of the Carnivale, staging full Rio-style street performers – including women in spindled bikinis and feathers… with figures that made me thankful I’d worn my “roomy, sensible mummsie” pants.

Eve’s on the River set up a fabulous booze-up and pizzeria open-air pavilion next to the musos stage where plenty of families were setting up pram parking lots; the kids could roam around and bug the neighbours in safety while and the grown-ups could treat themselves to a cheeky glass of bubbles.

We also got hands-on with cooking demonstrations from the Golden Pig Cooking School, opening in the district in September. Three words: Lamb Pot Stickers.

ImageHello Lamb PotImageImage

No family festival would be complete without an animal farm and the Teneriffe Festival had it in spades right down on the river where plenty of lawn allowed the pares to take a time-out (perhaps sneak in another cheeky glass of bubbles) and the kiddies can go catch things petting dusty little lamberts. Everyone wins!

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Love/Hate embodied.

I’ve recently taken a turn into the “paid” writers’ domain and this lead us to get involved in our second weekend of Family Festival Fun of the Winter season – the Brisbane French Festival.

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Chewing on some of my latest work

Oo la la! This one is great for families because the natural bilingual environment keeps the kids quiet for hours. They literally spend most of their time wondering if they actually still belong to this world and whether the person pushing the pram is still their Mum. Kids are also suckers for dudes in coats and pony hats marching in unison. It’s all foreign baby.

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The Grand Old Dukes of ….Napolean

No dusty sheep at the French Festival, but plenty of genuine French food samplers and mini berets to authenticate the experience for the younglings. It really is adorable to witness a toddler trying to navigate the whole walking thing with a baguette in their arm.

The kids are encouraged to join in the music and dance – all in Gallic tongue and if they show a natural flair for the French, there are ample stalls where junior French classes are on offer such as Alphatykes, Alliance Francaise, and then of course there is Lingua Franca who have just started enrolling a Maman et Pousette class over at Bulimba. If you and your family dig a bit of culture, the French Festival is a happily situated excursion into amour de la vie.

This afternoon, our third weekend in this Winter Wonderland, I dared to make my pramventurous way over the Little Stanley Street for a stroll along the corso of Regional Flavours. The no-cost side-spin of the amazing Delectable Festival held in the Cultural Forecourt of the QPAC, Regional Flavours is pretty self explanatory. The organisation was fabulous – literally each pocket of the South East was represented, from Bundaberg to the Sunny Coast, to the dudes from Luv Ya Lockyer and the wider Granite Belt and Moreton Bay. Am I forgetting anyone? Ahhh, the Gold Coast.

There was plenty of organic produce on display and a tonne of recipe ideas that could easily be adapted to the pureed and fork-mashed palette. The guys from Spanner Crabs Noosa took my tastebuds on a little sail with their spanner crab tarlet freebies (oh how I wished Boy Wonder would jive on crustaceans already!)

My heart leaped at the Pinteresting idea of “planter-barrows”- I’m currently scouring ebay for cheap as chips barrows to incarnate this great idea to fight the Brisbane possum plague and wheel my garden away at night.

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While navigating the throngs of “foodies” that by nature venture into these sorts of waters was a bit much, there was ample chill-out space where me and the kid threw open a rug and chowed down on pureed baby-food goodness and spanner crab tartlets while listening to the latest iGen crooner from the coast. Pleasantry.

Delectable also did a terrific job of zoning out areas for targeted kids’ activities.

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It’s easy enough to bribe the littlies through their 75th fromage tasting when you can point and promise a visit at the butterfly painting stall and the Kitchen Garden workshops.

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Family Vegas are on the move mid-August and I’m dying to get creative in my new casa by installing some of the fantastic and creative ideas that Regional Flavours explored. Whether that’s introducing spanner crab into the little guy’s diet is yet to be told. I’m thinking not.

But I can’t wait to hear if Delectable will be making a return to the South Bank Precinct in 2013…

Winter in Brisbane makes it difficult to be anything if not cheery. In fact, I dare you to take in a deep breath of balmy winter air, and smile.

It’s a Winter Wanderlust. From me to you. Fuzzy.

mummaVegas xo

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