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Posts Tagged ‘Perth’

I can see a rainbow

I can see a rainbow

 
While backing up an SD card from last year I stumbled across this photo taken in July, the middle of winter in Australia.
 
It was actually a double rainbow but this is the only one I had of the whole rainbow.
 
I love rainbows. Not unicorns, though :-)
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sunset, Perth, Summer 2010

Sunset, Perth, Summer 2010

 
I also came across this photo taken as the sun set over the Indian Ocean on West Coast Drive, around North Beach. I’ve often tried to capture the sun setting on my iPhone while a passenger, usually with little success.
 
This time I actually pulled over and took the time to take some photos on my camera and enjoy the view.
 
It was a moment for quiet contemplation; my family had left for Tasmania for a week, my dog had just been dropped at my sister’s and I was , having only just recovered from bronchitis bordering on pneumonia, getting ready to head to Sydney to see Oprah.
 
My photographic skills are average, my eye for a photo and composition is ok and my camera is probably below average but I never leave home without it.

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As promised, here’s an update on how my first online shopping experience went with Woolworths.  Unfortunately, not well.

Looking back at my order, it looks like I ordered about 52 items. Of those, one was out of stock and I got an email alert. No biggie. But there were about 10 other things that went wrong.

I got beans instead of bean sprouts. One can of tomatoes instead of two – but charged for both. Ice cream and sorbet that were both melted enough to be oozing out of their cartons (possibly because they were delivered about 9pm, the outer limit of the 7-9pm window I requested).

Let’s see what else? Caged eggs instead of free range, two small chickens instead of one, a small box of green tea instead of a large bog of chai tea.

Less bothersome were the bake at home bread rolls sent instead of bake at home baguettes and the three boxes of hash browns instead of the one kilo bag on sale.

So in some cases I was overcharged and in others, such as being charged for one free range chicken then getting two smaller ones at a higher price, I was under charged.

After unpacking and noting all the errors I called customer service and could not get through. At that time of night I suspected they weren’t actually there (there were conflicting hours on the website and the order confirmation email).

So I followed up with a polite and detailed email. When I got no response, I called late on Saturday afternoon and was told I could have the problem items re-delivered but not for a few days. Or I could get credit. I went with the latter for the four items that were the biggest mistakes – giving me a refund of about $14 (the order was about $174).

I had hoped for a reply to my email but a week on and I haven’t heard a word. The customer service representative I spoke to  said the service had been operating in my suburb for three weeks and would improve.  She didn’t sound terribly surprised by the mistakes nor terribly sorry.

Compare this with my first Coles delivery a year or so ago where I alerted them to the rather trivial matter of frozen spring onions. They credited my account without question and were pleased to have been notified.

What seems most strange about this whole situation is Woolworths is playing catch-up in a market Coles has had to itself for about a year.

Why haven’t they done some homework and tried out the Coles service? Coles has better delivery windows for starters, not to mention giving customers an estimated price to take into account the final and actual weight of items like meat, whole chickens and fruit and veg.

Part of the problem is Woolworths appears to be giving its personal shoppers’ a computerised list of items to tick off with pencil but the final results, weights and prices are not being taken into account in the way Coles does.

It surely can’t be good business sense to give me two approx 1.2kilo chickens worth about $17  instead of one 1.7kilo chicken for $13.60 or  to charge me $9.27 for 450g chicken breast that actually turned out to be $7.55.

Unable to secure a delivery window and not really having the time to take the risk with Woolworths, this week I went back to Coles. My delivery for 6-8pm arrived at 6.05pm with everything itemised and in their bags in good condition. As has become Coles’ habit, I also received some free samples.

Now that’s service. I think I’ll give it another few weeks or even months before I try Woolworths again.

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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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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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On Saturday I travelled to the Margaret River region with Channel 7 and assorted media types and Perthonalities for the launch of Seven’s new reality cooking series My Kitchen Rules. 

WA contestants Marc & Natalie with MC Mark Gibson at MKR launch

When this show was announced last year, I groaned. It sounded like a knee-jerk, copycat reaction to Ten’s hit Masterchef Australia. Worth noting I also doubted Masterchef would work when Ten announced it in 2008. 

Paul & Melissa, SA contestants in MKR

I’ll start by saying I am yet to see a full episode of MKR, which some including Reality Ravings have already called a cross between Seven’s previous hit series My Restaurant Rules and Come Dine With Me. Hopefully I’ll be seeing it early this week. 

Having watched a lot of TV over the years, I was asked by other guests/media  on more than one occasion the million dollar question – how I thought the show would go? 

Again, not having seen a full episode, there are several factors to consider. First, the talent. Whether we like or dislike the contestants and how they behave and react under pressure is pretty important  (I have an inkling there’s at least one person viewers are going to find irritating – it is after all, reality TV). 

Then there are the judges; Peter Evans and Manu Feildel both have plenty of TV experience, Evans on Nine’s Fresh (he was also cooking for IGA at the Perth Royal Show last year) and Feildel on Ready, Steady Cook and Masterchef. 

Crispy skinned salmon with salsa

Yet  some media didn’t seem to know who they were. Still, that’s not such a concern – how many TV viewers had heard of Matt Preston this time last year? It’s their advice and how they give it that will count (some are predicting Frenchman Feildel will win over female viewers). 

Also worth considering – timeslot. MKR is being launched in double chunks, at 7.30pm Mondays and Tuesdays from Feb 1. Is that too much to swallow? Not when you consider Masterchef was stripped every night bar Saturday. 

But what will MKR be up against? On Nine, the answer is all new  Two and a Half Men/ Big Bang Theory and Survivor (for week one at least). On Ten, The Biggest Loser Couples and So You Think You Can Dance. 

That’s tough competition and not everyone can come out a winner. On the positive side, there will be no other cooking shows on prime time commercial TV – with Masterchef not on air until The Biggest Loser concludes around May. 

But if I had to pick a winner at the launch, WA contestants Marc and Natalie (the only married couple on the show) got the big thumbs up for their grilled lamb with Moroccan cous cous (maybe I am being parochial, maybe Sam Kekovich has me brainwashed and maybe it was Moroccan lamb, not cous cous). 

Marc & Natalie's Lamb with cous cous

I’m not sure if the side serves of potato salad and spinach salad with roasted sweet potato were also their handiwork but the results were delish. 

Apologies that there are no photos of Gen and Tanja from Queensland’s prawns, they were on skewers and eaten too quickly. 

*In my original post, I didn’t factor the food into how MKR would rate. Once I would have said accessible food we can easily make at home is the key – but the croquembouche challenge on Masterchef proved otherwise. 

And let’s not forget where the launch was held – award-winning home/luxury retreat Incognito 

Imagine waking up to this… 

View from Incognito luxury retreat

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I’ve had a lot of parents asking me in the last week or so which films I would recommend they take their children to this summer.

Probably my least favourite family film this holiday season has been Alvin and the Chipmunks: the Squeakquel.  Yet another sequel that fails to live up to the original and comes across as little more than a dash for box office cash. I gave it a 2 star rating, as you’ll see if you click on the link above to the story in The West.

Most of the parents I follow on Twitter have echoed my opinion.

The Princess and the Frog, on the other hand, was an old-fashioned delight. It should appeal to girls from about four to 10 and maybe some of their younger brothers. This is a classic Disney tale, in the hand-drawn animation style I grew up with.

Start with a familiar story,  add a twist, well-drawn (literally) characters, humour and catchy music and the rest falls into place. You can read the full review at The West here.

Adults will particularly enjoy Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox with George Clooney giving voice and life to the title character. The clever use of cuss for cusswords (cuss that!) was particularly amusing.

Although Avatar is rated M in Australia, we took the kids (9 and 5) to see it at the drive-in last week. Having already seen it without the kids in 3-D, we figured the five-year old would probably fall asleep and if he didn’t, he had come through all six Star Wars movies unscathed – even watching Anakin writhing in fire and molten hell before his rescue and resurrection as Darth Vader.

Interestingly it was Ms 9 who fell asleep several times in the home stretch and Mr 5 who stayed awake. He now likes to boast he has seen two rated-M movies ( I think Star Wars ep III is the other one).

While I generally wouldn’t recommend Avatar for under sevens, if you have children who have enjoyed and understood the earlier Harry Potter films, LOTR or The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian, Avatar shouldn’t do them any harm.

If you live in Perth make sure to take the family to the Galaxy Drive-In in Kingsley this summer. It is Perth’s last surviving drive-in and looks as though it hasn’t changed much in 20 years.

Grab some rugs, chairs, doonas and take-away and you’re set.  Best of all, it will cost you about half of what the cinemas do. Tuesdays are a bargain at $15 a car.

Avatar is screening until January 13 and at weekends there’s a double feature with Aliens in the Attic – although I suspect not many kids will stay awake for that one.

The drive-in is particularly popular with family groups and owners of 4WDs, station wagons and utes for the obvious reasons of comfort – just park backwards and leave the tail open.

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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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