Imagination, Nature and Coffee (don’t forget coffee)

Hornby lighthouse || cityhippyfarmgirl

Can I let you in on a tiny secret? Lately I’ve fallen completely in love again, in love with the city in which I live. I’ve always had a soft spot for it, but lately? Lately it’s been something a little different. Utter city love.

So what do I put this down to? To be honest, I think it’s coming up for some air after years of intense little people parenting. There are countless joyous, beautiful moments that have shaped the person I am today and I’m incredibly grateful for, but there are also moments when it’s a bit of a slog.

While my kids are still pretty young and certainly still need me a lot, things have become a bit more flexible these days. With that flexibility, opens up a more doors in what I can do with my kids, (five hour car trips for weekends away are no longer the prison sentence they once were.)

So what’s this got to do with falling in love with my fair city? Well with the kids, we’ve been playing. Mostly during the weekends but occasionally we also cut loose the military precision of a week day afternoon as well. They are the perfect age for having little adventures fuelled by imagination and nature around them, and living in this stunningly beautiful city by the sea that I’m totally in love with? Well we don’t have far to go.

Here are 3 of some of the best family friendly places to visit in this fair city.

1. Centennial Park

Why you should go? Nature calls

Cost? Nothing

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It’s well established by now that kids often don’t get outside enough, Nature Deficit Disorder, it’s most certainly a thing. Antidote? A really simple bike ride or scoot around Centennial Park. Climb a tree, let growing young bodies drape themselves around the top branches of a tree. Go wandering through the swamp, look for possums and marvel at the fruit bats. Run down hills, leap from rocks to rocks, play soccer, fly a kite, collect things, tip toe through the forest- if you are quiet enough you might see a tiny fairy.

Ignore the designated kids playgrounds in Centennial Park, the whole 189 hectares is one beautiful playground just waiting to explored.

2. Kitchen By Mike, Rosebery

Why you should go? Social outing

Cost? Whatever you choose to eat, or just go for a little wander around the medicinal garden that is part of the grounds.

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Cafes. We live in a very cafe culture time. Whether you have kids or you don’t have kids, there’s a good chance cafes factor into your life. Coffee obsessed some might say. I’d say well yes, yes I am! Sydney is lucky in that there are countless different types of cafes to choose from. From tiny holes in walls with stools to perch on, to family friendly places with resident animals to entertain the kids. Whatever your coffee cafe wish is, Sydney is bound to grant it.

Cafes also play an important part in being an almost extension of the increasingly decreasing back yard for many families. I could go on and on about the social importance of cafes in big cities, however lets stick to the what’s what, and Kitchen by Mike it is. There’s cake, there’s coffee, and there’s lovely tables overlooking the garden, which is perfect for the kids to explore in.

3. Hornby Lighthouse, Watsons Bay

Why you should go? Imagination kick starter

Cost? nothing

Hornby Lighthouse is located in the Sydney Harbour National Park, this place doesn’t feel like you are in the city of Sydney. I’ve always had a soft spot for light houses (thank you Enid Blyton) and if this place with its old fortress, cannons, red and white light house, and rocks to leap from, doesn’t ignite a multitude of possibilities for the kids imagination, I would say go seek out some Enid Blyton books quick sticks.

Perfect place for family picnic, a swim at one of the nearby beach coves and a cracking spot to watch the sun go down.

Three very different places to hang out with your family in this beautiful city of Sydney. One for the banishing of any Nature Deficit Disorder niggles, one for a social outing (importantly added coffee for the adults) and one to kickstart little imaginations.

Now the question is…what shall we do next weekend?

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This post is part of Voices 2015 and #shareaustralia

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Little Black Cow Farm

cityhippyfarmgirl

There was a long sigh of utter contentment, leaning against the fence watching the sun come up. The kids were back at the house watching cartoons, and the smallest and her dad were snoring still in bed.

I’d set the eldest two up and then had quietly slipped out of the house. There was a sunrise to be had over those paddocks and I wasn’t about to miss it.

Staying at Little Black Cow Farm stay had been on the agenda for longer than I could remember. I’d often read Kim’s blog and wistfully planned long weekends away. Finally, after a generous invitation, I actually did.

Little Black Cow Farm stay is a 300 acre working beef farm in Branxton, Hunter Valley. Land of vineyards, photo opportunities and good food. The most glorious of foods. I’d set myself up with a little challenge for the weekend, to only eat as much locally produced food as I could get my hands on. Tricky? Stopping off at the local IGA before we got to the farm, I happily didn’t think it so.

In my basket I had Liberi eggs, Udder Farm Fetta, Udder Farm camembert, Udder Farm milk, sourdough from Morpeth bakery and organic wine from Macquariefields. If we only had dairy, bread and wine for the next three days…well, just quietly I didn’t think I would be complaining.

Settling into the farmstay, the kids are riding on the tractors and I get to quietly wander through the farm stay permaculture visitors garden. Kim has set it up so that her farm stay people can pick anything they want, and so I do.

Whenever I am home, my tiny potted garden brings me a lot of joy, but being here? In amongst the sprawling strawberry tendrils, the bushy parsley and the climbing snake beans I can’t help but have a few moments of ‘one day’ thoughts.

Squeals of delight and general loud kid conversation snapped me out of any ambitious garden plans. I was being ordered to jump aboard as the tractor had other people to pick up and the three year old driver couldn’t wait any longer for me.

garden salad || cityhippyfarmgirl

Dinner that night was a salad I had picked from the garden earlier, sausages from a few paddocks away, (Kim and David make their own which you can buy during your stay) and some of the bread and cheese I had hunkered away earlier. For dessert we had custard- made from the local cream, milk and eggs all done in a piece of kitchen kit, that I had often wondered about, but had never played with, (more on this in a minute.)

From a locavore point of view I was super happy. From a foodie point of view I was deliriously happy. From tired point of view, I was shattered… must have been that country air I suspect. Time to sleep.

A new day and there I was contentedly watching that sunrise. There are a few sure-fire things in this world that will always make my heart sing and watching the sunrise, has always been one of them.

eating locally || cityhippyfarmgirl

Back at the house and I start getting breakfast together. As I mentioned earlier there is a piece of kitchen kit, that is quite the rockstar of kitchen appliances for visitors to use, and I was keen to give it a crack. Was it really everything people raved about? Let’s find out.

Last night I had made custard in it, amazingly I hadn’t exploded anything, and the rockstar really had made perfect custard. This morning though I wanted to test it further, so butter was on the agenda with half a carton of cream left over from last night’s custard. Whoosh…done. Um, one minute that took. Hmmm, hard boiled eggs? Yep did that too. Coffee, why yes please. It is a weekend away after all, no coffee would be completely unaccceptable. Would the rockstar sort that one out? Yes, apparently so!

A wonderful day was spent doing weekend away kind of things. The kids got to harass the animals again, the adults got to talk, we went on a farm tour to the ‘top of the world’ and then suddenly dinner time was whispering again. I thought I would put the rockstar to the test once more. Thai Style Pumpkin Soup was on the menu, dicatated by what was in the garden. A simple soup, with all the ingredients (pumpkin, lemongrass, thai basil and a little chilli) being sourced just a couple of metres away.

Last day arrives and we farewell all the animals. We say goodbye to the dogs, goats, sheep, cows, pony, chooks and I peel small gripped fingers away from the guinea pigs, (I’m sure I heard them sigh with relief.)

I don’t think I have ever stayed somewhere that was so accommodating and involving towards kids and adults, every age was considered. Kim and David are the most wonderful hosts. From a welcome plate of homemade biscuits, kids toys, oodles of books, dvds, farm animals, climbable tractors, jeep tour, individual activities designed around your needs and wants. And one of the best things?…a perfectly edible (and encouraged to do so) permaculture garden at your doorstep.

It was the most relaxing weekend I’d had in a long time, and just quietly… I can’t wait to go back.

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Local Hunter Valley connections to be enjoyed

Little Black Cow Farm Stay– accommodation

Udder Farm– milk, cream, cheese.

Liberi Eggs- boiled, fried, scrambled or runny if you are one of those funny people who like runny eggs.

Morpeth Sourdough Bakery– locally baked sourdough…say no more.

Macquariedale Organic Wine- one glass or two?

Little Black Cow Farm Beef– these are happy beautifully kept cows that taste rather delicious in sausage form.

Sacred Tree Markets– on every third Sunday within the township of Branxton.