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Archive for the ‘Society’ Category

Many years ago, after the birth of my first child, I used an online grocery shopping service in Perth called Electrolley.

The food was fresh but it didn’t do many deliveries to my suburb. It no longer operates and I always presumed it had been too ahead of its time.

A year or so back I started to use Coles Online and have found the service to be very good, complemented by a Twitter account where shoppers can and receive give instant feedback.

The advantages to shopping online are numerous – not having to take the kids to the shop, only buying what you need, being able to use shopping time to do something else, like, erm, washing the car.

The service also has its drawbacks  such as  out of stock items and not being able to check nutrition and ingredient information.

One of the main reasons I didn’t use the service every week was the delivery charge and the delivery windows. Sometimes by the time I had decided to shop online that week, there were no convenient delivery times left.

Coles has recently addressed this by introducing free delivery and also increasing the delivery windows to include Saturday afternoon to early evening.

I also discovered quite by chance that part of the underlying motivation for free delivery throughout Perth was probably the arrival on the scene of Woolworths Online.

The arrival of Woolworths a month or so ago has been very low-key. No TV ads, no email alerts, nothing in the sale catalogues. I even asked the Woolworths Everyday Rewards team on Twitter and got no response.

Today I got a flyer among some sale catalogues but there still wasn’t anything about the service in the weekly sale brochure.

I have also tried registering for Aussie Farmers Direct to no avail. Although I have seen them delivering in my suburb, I must live on the wrong side of it. I have entered my postcode, been told computer says no, been referred to customer service, only to get an email five days later to say computer still says no.

I discovered Woolworths had started delivery to my area simply by creating an account and entering my postcode and address. When it was approved and I got to the delivery window screen I was still doubtful so-called the customer service line to check.

Excited, I tried for about three weeks to use the service to no avail because I couldn’t find a suitable delivery window. So I continued to use Coles or physically go to the shops.

This week I have secured a delivery window so will be trying the Woolworth service for the first time. Already there are things about it that are inferior to Coles. Like selling brocoli by the piece? What’s with that – why can’t it be by the kilo? And bananas are sold by the kilo in the shops, not by banana like online.

Also, once the order is placed there doesn’t seem to be a way to add to it or change it. Coles lets you do that up to about 11pm the night before.

Coles gives a price estimate based on the fact it can’t tell you online exactly how much your fruit, veg and meat with weigh. I have an apparently exact total from Woolworths and fear I’ll probably get about 400g of gravy beef rather than 500g.

So why don’t I stick with Coles all the time? Good question. Dumb answer – I like collecting Everyday Rewards linked to Qantas Frequent Flyer. No matter how much I buy, I  just don’t ever seem to accumulate Flybuys points from Coles – reminding me of a certain amusing bank advert.

Like many working parents, online shopping is going to become an  increasingly invaluable part of keeping my sanity and my pantry stocked.

But I don’t think I’ll ever be able to shop in one store alone, simply because not one store stocks everything I need.

Only IGA stocks Billington’s dark muscovado sugar, Nemar’s natural coloured 100s and 1000s and Eta 5 Star margarine – a staple for my daughter who has dairy allergies. IGA also usually has the best milk specials.

So my independent grocer really doesn’t have too much to fear from the multinational with the fleets of refrigerated trucks.

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It’s a tough call on Sunday night with the first night of the official ratings year bound to lead to some squabbles over the remote.

Seven is going for the heart-strings at 6.30pm with its special on separated conjoined twins Trishna and Krishna: the Quest for Separate Lives. Then it’s on to Airways, Bones and Castle – a pretty solid line-up.

Nine’s hand is forced by the cricket and the forthcoming Winter Olympics, so we get the movie Mission Impossible III at 9pm. Yawn.

Ten has the enviable line-up of The Biggest Loser at 6.30 followed by its multi-generational hit quiz/panel show Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation in its new home at 7.30pm. Oh and it’s in 3D, apparently, so get your goggles from this week’s TV week.

At 8.30pm is where the trouble starts and where you might need to crank up the PVR, DVDR or VCR if you still have one.

Ten has the series premiere of The Good Wife, featuring Julianna Margulies in her Golden Globe winning role.

Since leaving ER (she was Nurse Carol Hathaway to George Clooney’s Dr Doug Ross), Margulies hasn’t has much luck on the small screen; her last series Canterbury’s Law didn’t even screen in Australia to the best of my knowledge.

Margulies is Alicia Florrick, the good wife in question, who is forced to return to work as a lawyer after her husband, former state’s attorney Peter Florrick (Chris Noth) is jailed over a political corruption and sex tape scandal.

Alicia has plenty on her plate – the humiliation of sex tapes revealing her husband had sex with prostitutes, raising two children and returning to work in a law firm where she has to compete to keep her position against a cocky and conniving junior, Cary.

Margulies is a bit stiff in the pilot but that’s almost to be expected as Alicia tries to keep it together in public and private.

Chris Noth, aka Mr Big from Sex and the City and Detective Mike Logan from Law & Order and Law & Order: CI, is well-cast as her adulterous husband Peter.

Noth’s not in it a lot and most of that he’s in jail or but his presence is important.

What I enjoyed most about the first few episodes is the multi-layered plot. This isn’t just another legal drama.

Alicia is struggling to fit back into the workforce while raising her teenaged children with the help of her mother-in-law.

Meanwhile, Peter thinks everything will be fine once he is released from prison and he misguidedly tries to steer clients and information Alicia’s way.

Bubbling along below the surface is the truth about Peter – is he really guilty of corruption and infidelity or could he have been set up?

 Alas, there’s also a compelling documentary on at exactly the same time as The Good Wife (and episode three of House).

Forget the tears and sob stories of The Biggest Loser and So You Think You Can Dance: I cried more than I have in years watching Inside the Firestorm.

Inside the Firestorm, image courtesy ABC Publicity

To commemorate Victoria’s Black Saturday bushfires of February 7, 2009, the ABC will screen this feature-length documentary at 8.30pm on Sunday.

Heart-breaking in the extreme, it follows events as they unfolded, using a single narrative to create a compelling drama where the audience is at various times left not knowing the fate of  the various participants.

The horrific heatwave weather conditions, a breakdown in fire alerts and a monster fire that did not play by the rules resulted in 173 deaths.

Families that should have been safe perished. Fire-fighters saved people’s homes and businesses but lost loved ones. People who fled their homes and shouldn’t have made it somehow survived. Courage and despair, hope and tears, bravery and battles lost. It’s all there. This is must watch TV.

Many Australians have become complacent about the dangers of bushfires. This is the sort of program that needed to be made and needs to be seen.

Hats off to director Jacob Hickey, all the brave survivors and narrator Hugo Weaving for his compelling and important piece of work.

 For more of an insight into the making of Inside the Firestorm, visit the ABC website.

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While many Perth families have been obsessing over the MySchool website, this week I have been I’ve been concerned with the big issues.

Such as, what is it with Perth people and trolleys?

I hate having to pay to use a trolley at the airport but I am more and more inclined to support moves for a pay for use/deposit system at shopping centres.

Perhaps I am more sensitive than usual, having only picked my car up from the smash repairers last week, but it seems trolley laziness is at an all time high.

I have four shopping centres within a five to 10 minute drive. The closest is the one I favour the least because no one seems able to put a trolley away anywhere other than between parked cars.

On Thursday night I went to the centre that is furthest away, parked relatively close due to the time and moved a trolley from in front of my car to the return bay.

Half an hour later I emerged to find  another trolley stuck in front of the car.

But today’s incident takes the cake. I pulled into the busy car park at another shopping centre (not a major), spotted one free bay and as I indicated to pull in, a man with a trolley used the spare bay to park his groceries.

Noticing my plan to park, he moved the trolley a bit closer to his station wagon and continue to unpack. I got out of the car, said thanks and went to get my bag from the boot.

Then, the man moved the trolley up between our cars and went to get into his car to leave. I couldn’t believe it – the trolley return bay was directly opposite his car, about 5m away.

So I promptly walked back to my side of the car, grabbed the trolley and marched it to the bay, saying loudly I couldn’t believe how lazy he was.

To which he responded “maybe I shouldn’t have been so courteous earlier” (bearing in mind – he was actually hogging an entire car bay with his trolley during peak Saturday shopping hours). To which I responded “you win some, you lose some – that was going to blow into the car.”  To which he responded “it would have blown the other way”- as in, not into my car but whoever parked there next!

Our civilised exchange was observed by several people including a couple whose Hyundai Getz was parked in front of us and could just as easily have been damaged by said trolley.  But no one seemed to care.

I am thinking that from now on, I will park my car covered in bubble wrap.

Hoons, tailgaters, people who refuse to let you merge, people who don’t wave to say thanks when you let them in, people who don’t care if they hit your car with a trolley…Perth driver, you really are crap.

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From reality TV to harsh reality.

Today I watched Inside the Firestorm, a documentary screening on the ABC on February 7 at 8.30pm, the one year anniversary of Victoria’s catastrophic Black Saturday bushfires.

It was one of the most emotional docos I have seen in a long time and reduced me to tears. Knowing some of the bushfires were lit by firebugs made my husband’s blood boil.

I’ll be writing about this documentary for The West, so won’t say much more here other than make sure you block out two hours that night – it’s one of those programs that is a must see for all Australians.

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The Greenhouse

The Greenhouse, 100 St Georges Tce

While on a roll, I thought it would be timely to upload a couple of snaps of one of Perth’s newest and most innovative cafes.

The Greenhouse finally gives people a reason to visit St Georges Tce after working hours.

No point trying to explain the concept in its entirety here when you can go to the Greenhouse website. In a nutshell, the sustainable cafe idea started in Melbourne and has been reconstructed at 100 st Georges Tce outside the new Enex 100 shopping  complex.

I mistakenly thought the cafe was on the roof of Enex 100, which it isn’t. Strangely there’s not even a sign in the Enex arcades pointing to it.

To find the Grenhouse from Hay Street, make sure to go down to the Woolworths level and exit onto st Georges Tce. Then you won’t be able to miss it – or the lush green walls made from strawberry plants in terracotta pots (hmm, will passersby pinch the berries as they ripen, one wonders?)

The food menu seems geared toward the grazing/tapas style being favoured by small bars and I look forward to getting back to try the lamb koftas one afternoon or evening.

Although the cafe is smack in the middle of the Terrace, it is also family friendly – we visited on a Saturday afternoon with kids in tow. There was a baby in a pram at an adjacent table and I spotted a bright red high chair.

Having just tried the yum cha in the upmarket food court at Enex, we were only up for coffee and sweets. We ordered the meringue and coconut and pineapple tart, at $8 and $8.50.

Meringue and fruit

Meringue

 

The meringue was served on a thick passionfruit curd with a custard-like texture, with cream tucked inside the crisp shell.

Fresh pieces of kiwifruit, strawberry and mango were served in a jam jar on the side…hence my description of deconstructed pavlova. It was the perfect mix of sweet and tart flavours and soft and crunchy textures. It was also better value than the coconut and pineapple tart which was served warm and didn’t seem like much more than a caramelised pineapple ring on puff pastry.

After leaving I realised there was an outside staircase and what appeared to be speakers on the upper garden deck, which I imagine may open in the evenings when things are busier – in addition to providing the kitchen with fresh herbs.

We’ll be back to check out the breakfast menu – how can you resist taking kids to a cafe that offers free range, organic Margaret River eggs with soldiers?

The Greenhouse is open Monday to Saturday from 7am.

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