Melbourne long weekend

We drove down to Melbourne for a weekend full of activity, stopping at Holbrook for lunch and at a visit to the submarine. We don’t recommend the Holbrook bakery. The small boys enjoyed an explore of the submarine, however.

Thanks to cousin Tim we got to stay at the Amora Riverwalk hotel in a two bedroom apartment which was ideally suited to our needs – especially as we had the bedroom upstairs with a door which closed – meaning we got to sleep in undisturbed. Very pleasant. And the boys enjoyed dinner in the bar on the evening we arrived – we didn’t quite manage to get out of the door.

We left the boys at the hotel Saturday night with a Dial-An-angel representative to go to the combined celebration of Jill’s Phd and Steve’s 50th at a rather nice establishment in Carlton called the Paragon. Which was rather enjoyable particularly as James had helped Jill select a Kangarilla Road Sangiovese for the wine selection….but sadly ended at midnight. Then again, it saved us paying a fortune for babysitters.

Sunday was a busy day, starting with yum cha brunch with Tim, Louise, Oliver and Lucy. Excellent to eat dumplings, even better to catch up with Tim and Louise et al, particularly as it has been a couple of years since we saw them last – although when one regularly sees photos on Facebook the kids are less surprisingly gigantic.

After brunch we caught a tram into town and went to the Art of the Brick exhibition – outlined in my previous post. My old friend Victoria came and met us with her three little ones and we all went and played at Birrarung Marr playground (where these circular photos were taken). After a good run around, we all went and had hot chocolates at the ACMI cafe in Federation Square proper.

After catching a tram home again (with a brief stop to buy new shoes for Jude and Zachary), we wandered down Bridge Road to Olmecs for dinner. This was one of those lovely dinners where Jude made polite conversation by asking everyone questions and we had a lovely time. Jude and Zachary both got calamari as their kids’ dinner – and it was honestly some of the best calamari we had ever tasted. The boys then insisted that we return for breakfast the next day.

So following breakfast at Olmecs, we wandered down Bridge Road, browsing at the occasional store, in time to meet Jill and Steve and other friends of theirs at the Members’ Entrance at the MCG.

Boys await the beginning of the footy

We were at the Melbourne-Collingwood game. Naturally, I was supporting Melbourne. Sadly, they lost horribly, and I had to admit that Collingwood played much much better. Despite the disappointment of the result, it was fun to be at a footy match, especially at a nearly full MCG, and we all enjoyed the chips, chocolate and atmosphere which goes with the football.

Afterwards we stopped briefly at Birrarung Marr again, before wandering into Chinatown and James’ favourite dodgy Chinese restaurant. Where we were all too tired to finish all our dumplings, but enjoyed the food nonetheless.

It was then back to the hotel before sleep, breakfast at the Groove Train, then the drive home. An enjoyable weekend away.

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The Art of the Brick and small boy art appreciation

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As a family of ardent Lego lovers, while in Melbourne last weekend, we took the opportunity to go to The Art of The Brick exhibition at Federation Square. The impressive Lego art of Nathan Sawaya was enjoyable on a number of levels – the technical artistry of the Lego constructions was impressive, as well as the artistic and conceptual art within much of it.

Of course, the small boys loved it, and I think I was required to photograph nearly every piece, with a small boy in the frame.

One of the great things of course about Lego as a medium for art is the enormously colourful nature of it, which was emphased by the black and white surrounds, bringing the colour to the fore.

I think my favourites were the skulls, protruding in their bright colours from the wall.

The more conceptual works were also excellent, using the nature of Lego to move beyond pure representation.

Anyway, if you are in Melbourne before it finishes and you like Lego or art, or Lego and art, you are sure to enjoy this one. Small boy guaranteed!

Battle party

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Sebastian decided to do something a little different for his 9th birthday – a fully fledged Dungeons and Dragons party, introducing his friends to the world of D&D.

James took on the role of Dungeon Master, while Andrew V came along to offer technical support to the small adventurers. I supplied the food. None of the small boys had played before – with the exception of Sebastian who had participated in Vala Club last school holidays so had a basic concept of game mechanics.

It was fascinating to watch them all play for the first time, learning how to work together and what to do. We experienced gamer adults found it hilarious that at the first encounter, the boys kept trying to negotiate their way out of fighting the giant troll. What was interesting to watch is how quickly they learnt the tactics, cooperation and teamwork that makes for successful adventuring. They weren’t so keen of sharing the treasure though.

Dungeons and dragons does use both numeracy and literacy skills as one is constantly adding and subtracting and reading rules (though we did simplify a bit for the small boys), it teaches tactics and strategy and, importantly, cooperation.  It was great to see how quickly most of the boys caught on and had fun. With sausage rolls and chocolate crackles to keep them going, they got through and even managed to slay the dragon.

And then it was time for the cake….

A chocolate shield with coat of arms and all.

Appreciated by all… then the adventurers were all sent upon their merry way.

Happy birthday Sebastian!

Sebastian has turned 9, and we celebrated with Chinese food and chocolate cake.

Party is tomorrow…