Thursday, June 30, 2005

frolicking with otters

One DarkSeason reader has likened himself to being one of these animals, this does tend to make people wonder on what an Otter may be.  Well I just thought I'd share this with you.

Inhabiting five of the continents of the world, Otters are truly amazing mammals. Otters are unique in many ways. For instance, Otters are the only marine mammals to have fur instead of blubber. There are thirteen species of otters alive today. There used to be fourteen, but the fourteenth otter, Maxwell's otter, is presumed extinct due to draining of their waters to perform genocide in Iraq. Otters are very smart; they are one of only a handful of tool using mammals. Sea Otters use rocks to pry abalone off rocks and to break open shells. Otters are members of the Mustelid family which includes badgers, polecats, martens, weasels, stoats and mink.

International Otter Survival Fund


Otters @ National Geographic

Picture from National Geographic


Saturday, June 25, 2005

goldilocks and many bears

That's what would have happened yesterday, except well I don't have luscious golden locks and I have no intention of wearing a dress to prove the point of a so-called innocent girl eating other people's food.  However this time I was trying to find some bears, well was hoping to anyway so don't get any ideas. I was hoping to meet up with a group of bears at Flinders Street Station for a tour of Melbourne's Ghosts and Ghouls.  Arriving at the station just before 11.30am, to my despair I see no bear in sight.  I walked over to the Lost Property window where Andrew was working and in typical Andrew style, he mentioned he saw a group of bear congregating beforehand and they walked off in the direction of the Yarra River, and told me to go chase them down.  I had a bad feeling that I had to be at the station at 11am,  unfortunately I was right.  After bumping into a work colleague at Fed Square, I wandered back to the Lost Property window to say that I think it wouldn't be wise trying to find them.  Whilst chatting with Andrew, I observed Police at the traffic lights catching "Jay Walkers", some sort of filming being conducted near the hat shop just before the steps of the station, plain clothes and then uniformed staff from the Malvern Depot, and a really cute guy with a nice butt waiting in line to buy a ticket.

Well considering I wasn't able to fulfil the first part of my reason being in town, I had to fulfil the second requirement which was to go to La Stazione on Flinders Street and purchase the coffee pack which my friend had showed me.  A special deal from Lavazza, in a specially designed box, you receive a tin of inblu coffee, two macchiato glasses with the Lavazza logo and a cappuccino stencil, a pretty good deal for $20.  After sending an sms to my friend Warren that I missed out on meeting up with the ghostly bears, I walked down with Andrew who was then on his lunch break down to La Stazione to purchase my coffee.  At the same time Warren replied back inviting me over for lunch.  So I purchased my coffee and a take-away latte, it's been a long time since I've had Lavazza coffee, had a quick chat to Andrew and showed him the box set and then went back into the station, boarded the train to take me to North Melbourne and then drove to Warren's place. I always find it more soothing on the nerves to have a latte in the car whilst driving.  Gives me less excuse to growl at the incompetent, slow and ignorant drivers on the road, unfortunately I can't do much when a semi is in front of me (that's what happens when you're driving in the industrial area of Footscray, Yarraville and Spotswood to get where you're going to.  Well less traffic than going down Williamstown Road and less traffic lights too.). 

Arriving at Warren's place, I had a T2 Earl Grey, whilst waiting for his housemate Peter to arrive home and then we treked off to a shopping strip just off Millers Road.  Warren and Peter purchased some items at a home ware's store, and I bought some nice latte cream ceramic cups to match the white mugs of similar type I had on display in the kitchen at home. We had a very good lunch at the Millers Inn and then progressed down to Hoppers Crossing to look for a special vase for a friend.  Peter wanted another 'woman's' opinion, so I helped out.  After much time, we finally found the perfect item in Werribee Plaza.  After having a coffee, we drove back to Warren's and I raced off home to get ready and head off to Matt's place since I was running very late.  Finally arriving at Matt's place, we went off to Highpoint, had dinner at the Pancake Parlour and watched Batman Begins.  Christian Bale is absolutely stunning, and Liam Neeson is extremely interesting.  I thought the movie was really good, but disappointed that Christian didn't sleep naked (I could hope).  I wouldn't mind another movie being made just after this, utilising the same actors, however that would not be deemed possible as they gave a clue that it continues straight to the first Batman movie.

Arriving back home, and having a restless night's sleep with the temperature out here dropping to a low of -1 degrees.  Finally waking up and enjoying my coffee whilst typing this.  It's time to mingle with a few bears tonight for the Southern Hibearnation "Australian Bear Contest".  Should be fun like last year.  

Thursday, June 23, 2005

cafecruise - coffee 'n' all

Living in St Albans does have it's disadvantages (don't bother me about the others, you get them everywhere), but only in the purpose of not having a reasonable cafe near home that I can actually enjoy.  I prefer a cafe with some atmosphere and some privacy away from the general public, so you can enjoy your latte by yourself or with someone else without people constantly walking past.  I'm only about a 10 minute walk from St Albans Railway Station, and just as less to the main shops.  There are a couple of cafe's in St Albans, one of them lacks a lot of imagination.  I've walked past this cafe in Alfrieda Street countless times over the years, and you'll always end up finding old or grampa Europeans congregating inside and outside.  They do serve a nice selection of food, completely stuck in the 80's or earlier with everything white so you can see some of the grime, not very inviting and the latte's are shocking (burnt milk and dirty wand), but that was my only other option of having a take away latte in this burb until I noticed a Coffee and Nut place on Main Road East.  Wonderful service and they know how to make a lovely latte (Amanti Coffee).  They have seating available in the room out past the counter, but it doesn't have that feel to drag me into the room to have to enjoy my latte.  I know I may be sounding picky, but I prefer a cafe with atmosphere.  If there is a lack of light going into the room, then you can be very creative with lighting styles.  This place does have a lot of potential to be redeveloped when the times comes for it, but I do stop here when I want a latte to take on the train and this is my best option which I do recommend.

I should be lucky that I do have this option close to home, but when I was at Mum and Dad's, still in St Albans, I didn't have an option at all.  Even with the Keilor Downs Plaza being so close, there wasn't much of an option for a cafe besides Donut King and that doesn't cut it close with me. When the plaza was refurbished, they opened up a cafe in the open area in front of K-mart, having been there a couple of times, I had been hoping for a cafe to be located in it's own store for that bit of privacy.  My wish finally came true when they extended the plaza, much to my pleasure was a cafe located in it's own store and it looked pretty good.  Since then having purchased a few take away latte's, this time I decided to drink in.  I might expand on this at a later stage.

Coffee 'N' All

Located on the Keilor Downs side of the plaza (extension side), this is a nice refreshing change and allows for the privacy that many people do enjoy.  With a ample seating inside and some located outside the cafe, the outer wall of the cafe is made completely of windows, so you'll have that lovely view of the carpark, but more so you can see what is happening with the weather, looking towards the Macedon Ranges.  As you walk in, the counter is located on the right hand side with the kitchen just further along, seating and tables are located to the left.  They offer a breakfast and lunch menu, also providing pizza's and a selection of cakes.  Apart from serving coffee, they also have a small selection of alcoholic beverages.

Staff are very friendly and try their best to help you as much as they can, and are also like pointing out the specials of the day.  The latte I was served came with a chocolate tiny teddy and was very well made at the right temperature and tasted very well for my first coffee of the day.  Quite a few people visit the cafe for food and for coffee, so it is in an appropriate position even though there are now a few places in the plaza that do offer espresso service.  Overall I think it's really good that this has happened and it does help to have a room for a cafe instead of having the hustle and bustle of shopping racing past. 

Coffee - Grinders

Coffee 'N' All - Keilor Downs Plaza, Shop T 52/ 80 Taylors Rd 3038 - 9310 7988

Rating 4 out of 5

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

red nose day

I should really slap myself silly for completely forgetting to mention that this Friday is Red Nose Day. SIDS and kids are responsible for this yearly event which is held on the last Friday of June.  All the funds which are raised from Red Nose Day and from other sponsorship for SIDS and kids goes to more Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.  The more people can help with providing much needed donations, more vital services and programs can be provided to many individuals, families and communities.

So If you go into a Coles, Bilo, Quix, Amcal Chemists and there are some other venues where you'll be able to purchase a red nose, badge, pen or even a bear and to show your support for this Friday.

Monday, June 13, 2005

cafecruise : blue denim

It's always an exciting experience watching something new being developed.  You have the feeling of seeing something and it tends to heighten your senses and expectations of something grand.  The country town of Wallan is one particular place where you have the expectation of something new.  A 50 minute drive from Melbourne, originally a sleepy hollow, is now starting to blossom.  The latest development in the town is a new shopping centre, even in the past month I've already noticed a few changes with more stores now opening up inside the shopping centre itself.  I knew from the first time I went to the shopping centre (since I normally go there to get food from Safeway and then continue with my trek up to the Tramway Museum at Bylands just up the road), that there would be a cafe bit on the front corner of the shopping centre just on observation of the design of that particular part of the building.  A couple of months had past and much to my delight I observed signs on the doors of that corner depicting the name of the cafe which would reside in that location.  Yesterday on my way up to the museum and wearing the old Met green uniform since I was rostered on as Conductor, I stopped at the shopping centre to go to Safeway and saw that the new cafe had just opened.

Blue Denim, is an absolute eye opener especially for Wallan.  Entry into the cafe is either from inside the shopping centre which is the main entrance or from the car park.  From this entrance you are also able to access the outdoor seating, which was not in use due to the lovely weather outside. The cafe itself is located on two levels.  Downstairs being the main counter and kitchen was the only part of the cafe I was able to see, so I will be in again shortly to give a more in-depth review.  I ordered a take-away latte, and whilst waiting I impressed with what I saw.  Being a new cafe, I already observed a few people already in the cafe having their Sunday breakfast (opens at 9am on Sundays).  There is plenty of seating on the lower level of the cafe and you can also see the kitchen from the lower level.  Much to my pleasure, I did noticed a few T2 canisters.  Currently they aren't able to serve any alcohol, but I did notice the application for a liquor license on the window, so that won't be too far away (hopefully they get some local wines).

I did sense a lot of atmosphere in the cafe, and what makes it even better is when you look out of the windows is the feeling that you are in a country town that is finding its feet in an ever changing world (Wallan still only has one main intersection which you can see from the cafe). Even at such an early time of the day, there was ample staff able to assist and all were very friendly.  Being a new cafe, it can take a few seconds longer for the staff to find certain items on the computerised cash register, but give it a bit more time and that won't be a problem at all.  It all just comes down to just being patient and give them a go. I did enjoy my latte when I arrived at the museum.

I will be coming back to Blue Denim and will be doing a more comprehensive review, and hopefully I'll be able to see what arrangements are available upstairs.

Coffee - Dimattina

Blue Denim cafe bar - Wellington Square Shopping Centre, 81-89 High Street, Wallan  T - 03 5783 2266

Rating - 5 out of 5

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

cafecruise : cafe faducci

It's amazing how sometimes I might cram a day filled with posts and then have a drought were nothing happens.  This is one of those days. Moving around once again as I normally do with my job, but I do that anyway (when I do).  This time I'm at Box Hill and it's time for a coffee and a place to sit down and have breakfast. Box Hill has a huge range of shops to choose from, and always somewhere lurking in there would be a cafe, waiting to appease your tastebuds for that lovely taste of freshly roasted coffee beans.  Just outside Box Hill Central, Cafe Faducci just happened to be that cafe I wanted to have breakfast in.  I was impressed by the large outdoor area and the nice decor inside that said to my mate Chris that we'll have breakfast in here.  Well apart from sinking down in the seat and ordering our latte that I then observed something that I would not like at all.  

The one thing you never want to see is a dirty milk frothing wand.  We then observed that the Barista, a middle aged Italian, really wasn't paying attention and had absolutely no personality as he kept the same uninterested appearance for the whole entire time we were there and just left the milk container alone whilst doing other chores around the machine.  With the milk already on the frothing wand, we weren't going to expect much, so we were hoping that the French Toast that we ordered would be better.

Well the cafe itself has plenty of room on the inside with cushioned seating alongside one wall with tables and chairs around the rest of the cafe inside.  There is a large heated outdoor area out the front which did attract quite a few people.  There is a certain bit of atmosphere with the light green and cream colours blending in with the general design of the counter area and the trendy orange lights hanging over the main counter.  But at the same time, I really don't want to spend my time struggling to sit down on the cushioned seats which swallowed you in. 

For a cafe that had a small to medium crowd, we were wondering how busy the kitchen would be if during the cafe's peak time, considering it did take a while for them to cook two lots of French toast.  Our lattes did arrive, much to our expectation with the appearance of curdled milk.  The taste was very poor, even more so from the coffee that I had purchased earlier that morning from Gosh Coffee (later review) and the coffee had a very harsh after taste.  Much to our enjoyment our French toast arrived as we were impressed.  It was absolutely delicious and served with fresh fruit.  The only unfortunate thing was that I had to wash it down with the coffee.

I don't expect to be rushing back to the cafe for a coffee experience, but I did notice that they do have a nice selection of wines and alcoholic beverages and they do have a large selection of sweet and savoury treats.  Staff wise they do need some improvements, and it is bad practise to chastise staff in view of customers.  In general, if you really really need to go here then feel free, but I don't think they'll be replacing the Barista in a hurry since I think he's the owner.

coffee - coffex

Cafe Faducci - 25 Market St, Box Hill  T - 9890 0981

rating - 2.5 out of 5

uk big brother

For those who are interested in Big Brother or of any part of it's general antics might already know that Big Brother 6 is currently on in the UK and there is an interesting assortment of contestants in the house.  But this one here I've just noticed to be interesting just by looking at some of the articles and photos depicted of the UK housemates. As usual, there has to be a pretty boy in the house, like Dean over here with our BB, you have Anthony who also seems to have fun with the boys over there with some of the antics that they get to play.  Unlike the perception that we see with Big Brother on having a near perfect or perfect body or just one with plenty of meat on it (no I don't mean down there), it's totally a different case in the UK house with Craig having the extra assortments of love handles for people to grasp on.  Hey it makes me feel better with my mini keg down below and other skinny assortments.  Well I might have a little bit of a look around more on their site and see what juicy activities they are getting themselves into, apart from a lesbian scene *yawn*.


cafecruise : the pepper tree

It's always good to go to a town that you've been to many times in the past, and you knew that it didn't have too much to offer and may have also seemed a bit dark and dingy, but times can change.  The Melbourne suburb of Newport is one particular place that has changed over the past 5 years.  Apart from being the home of the Newport Railway Workshops and a town which did have the first government built and owned railway in Victoria, this particular place is coming out of it's shell from being an industrial accessory to Williamstown which is right next door, to coming up and showing everyone what it really has to offer.

One particular place, I happen to go past it every time when I'm at work on the train is the Pepper Tree cafe.  First thing to get my attention is the old 1950's, 60's furniture inside a building of similar age (or even older). Located directly across the road from the Newport Railway Station, I finally had my opportunity to pay a visit.  I did admire the lovely mosaic signage on the front of the cafe and entered inside to be greeted with a cafe made to replicate an era left in the past.  We ordered our latte's or hot chocolates and made ourselves comfortable at one of the larger tables.  There is ample room inside the cafe with a couple of tables also located outside in the same style.  Along the wall is an assortment of old pictures from the 50's and 60's, and the menu is written on an old menu blackboard. 

A selection of sweet and savoury snacks are available for devouring by your taste buds. My latte was quite nice and so was everyone else's hot chocolate and cake.  From observation, quite a few people do frequent the cafe and there were a few people already present inside.  Unfortunately only one staff member was present for the entire time that I was present, which meant that you had to be a little bit patient in obtaining your refreshments.  There could be some improvements to the decor to reflect a few more accuracies in the era that they are trying to depict. Overall it is quite comfortable.

coffee - Amanti

the Pepper Tree cafe - 24 Hall Street, Newport, T - 9399 4908

rating - 4 out of 5

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

twittering around bylands

This is one visitor you might see up at the tramway museum at Bylands.  Last Sunday when I was working up at the museum, I noticed a wide range of wildlife around the general area of the museum.  From young lambs and calves from the local farm, then Wood Ducks and wrens frolicking around near the tracks.  I was hoping to take pictures of the young lambs and the ducks, but unfortunately I was a bit late, but not late enough to try and capture a shot of a male wren trying his best to please the group of female wrens. I lovely cold and crisp day, always perfect to enjoy the countryside.