/bɪ ə gʊd gɜ:l/ n. moniker of she who blogs here [also known as, bie]; adj. personal awesome advice to all female kiddos

meet the fam #thechennies

meet the fam #thechennies

Looking through the gazillion photos which we took during our nine days of holidaying recently, I'm getting all warm and fuzzy. Actually, I haven't been away for such a long time in such a long time that, frankly, the house seemed a little foreign to me!!! (Either that, or it was the jet lag taking over - the girls were running on Melbourne time when I had already re-adjusted to Singapore time - so I was kind of in a twilight zone.) My family was going through a rough patch so I felt really bad being away and having fun, but things worked themselves out and I'm glad ZX and I went through with our trip because the photos are bringing back lots of happy memories :))

***

Hands down the favourite activity of the vacay: cycling along the Yarra River. It sounds so nice and scenic and leisurely, right? How easily I forget the excruciatingly difficult ride along Punggol Waterway.

This time in Melbourne, ZX took Bielet and the bag (diapers, snacks, extra clothes, coats, water bottles, milk and bottles, wet and dry wipes, maps etc) => easily 15kg, while I just took the baby, Bieny => already 10kg. We rented our transport from Rentabike @ Federation Square - two adult bikes and two baby seats at AUD90 (S$97.67) for the whole day. The cost also includes a map, helmets for all, a lock and puncture kit. For those keen, head towards the Yarra from Fed Square, then follow the signs towards the bike store, the bike hire store is located among the ferry cruise offices.



We were initially hopeful that Bielet could get a tagalong and experience her first real cycling (you know, other than the trike or strider).

It didn't happen. Someone was too short.

With the bikes and baby seats, we set off on the route to Collingwood Children's Farm. I was really thrilled for the girls to get to the farm. Except that it was 12km away. WHAT. See what I mean about me completely forgetting my incompetence at cycling. Although I was generally alright: because the cool wind whipping at our coats was so refreshing and I didn't feel at all sticky (like back home) and majority of the route was flat pavement, sometimes gravel, but mostly just straight, even routes.


The girls utterly disinterested in taking photos HAHAHAHA

What you don't see in pictures are, of course, the slopes and sharp turns and other super duper fit cyclists who just shoot past us like bullets. Actually, that would be my hubby too; except that he was saddled by us three. The cyclists weren't scarily dangerous or anything, just that I was a little startled by sudden streaks of some things going past and thinking, "Oh, super duper fit cyclist there".

Worst part was this incredibly steep flights of stairs where we had to push the bikes down. On the way down, ZX pushed one bike down and carried the another (separately DUH). This photo was snapped when we had to push the bikes up - ZX took my bike (with the baby in it) and I pushed his bike. I think, my energy level went negative quite instantly.

See that insanely steep flight of stairs to the left of this picture? There are three such slopes to push the bikes up to!

Context over, here's an overview of our cycling expodition.

Map provided by Rentabike, which covers their 5 recommended trails with info on sights and attractions

-- Part 1: Federation Square (start) to Collingwood Children's Farm (target endpoint) - we travelled the orange route on the map, where the circled numbers refer to the estimated km from the start
-- Part 2: Collingwood Children's Farm to Kathmandu
-- Part 3: Kathmandu to Alexandra Gardens
-- Part 4: Alexandra Gardens to Federation Square

My legs were spoilt after this, but I shocked even myself for finishing it. (Of course right, otherwise ZX ride two bikes meh.) Here are some snaps of our excursion!

{Part 1: Federation Square to Collingwood Children's Farm}
The whole point of our expedition was to reach the farm so the girls could get up close with the animals. It was a rather straightforward route, but the killer(s) were the uphills. I would tell myself "YOU CAN DO IT" and chiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiong for it after switching gears at top speed (as if) but as soon as gravity pulled, my can-do changed to "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO". I tried, I really did. Somehow, every time we were about 100m from the top, my legs knew it was over and just caved by starting to walk. I think the additional 10kg at my backside was a pivotal factor, especially when I couldn't just crash my bike and let that 10kg of precious gold (baby) fall off.

It wasn't all sweat and tears and drama though. We encountered this pleasant surprise along the way:



Apparently, these three Burnley Bouldering Walls was first set up in 2006, with the structure reinforced between 2010 and 2011. It's a joint venture between a few parties, one of which is their equivalent of our NParks who offered the location. How cool is that. And how unlikely is this to happen in Singapore! See here for more on the walls. ZX had wanted to try the walls on our return journey but we ended up riding on the other side of the river.

As for the farm, it was utterly lovely. Smelt a little funky, yes, but it is a working farm after all and HULLO that's how real animals live. The girls could pat the animals and Bielet went to make friends with each creature, asking them what they were doing, had they taken their naps, did they want to eat what she was offering them, etc. My little lady can talk. I guess it's a little much to do a post of the farm within this cycling post, so I'll leave the pictures and more talk for later. Here's one of my fave snaps though.

How contented does that sheep look with Bielet stroking it?

{Part 2: Collingwood Children's Farm to Kathmandu}
By the time we had roamed the farm grounds, ZX knew the girls were really exhausted. And of course, this woman (me) was the exhausted-est of them all. So he studied the map and planned an alternative route back. Via the main road. Next to real cars. With real drivers.

SCARY S&%T

Turns out, it was less intimidating than I had feared. Me who jumps whenever a car passes me on the road in Singapore, I was a lot more confident cruising along their dedicated cycling lane. (The lane is really just the remaining quarter of the parking lane, but still.) It did take a little getting used to, but I could concentrate more on cycling and enjoying myself than being afraid some bugger would knock me (us) down.

ZX was definitely cycling and enjoying himself, because he suddenly did a U-turn. He had discovered the Kathmandu store. And no sleeping baby was going to get in his way. (Both girls were in dreamland by this point.)

I settled her into a kiddo camping chair and she didn't even stir despite this evil mother's uncontrollable guffaws. Tell me she looks hilarious, with her shoe out and all. #evilmama

Both girls woke up halfway into the shopping trip and had a ball of fun climbing in and out of the tents. Sorry Kathmandu staffers, but thanks.

{Part 3: Kathmandu to Alexandra Gardens}
After the unplanned shopping pitstop, we resumed our ride down the streets of Melbourne. Thankfully it was mid-midday, after the busy-ness of the lunch pack and before the crunch of the after-office crowd, so the roads were relatively quieter. The drivers and pedestrians were also really sweet and patiently waited if I was slower, and even waved us through with a bright smile. It must have been the peeking baby's head from behind my back.

We nipped back into the park trail, but this time on the other side of the Yarra. It was getting warmer sunbeam-wise (not humidity) so ZX and I decided to stop opposite the bike hire store and have an impromptu picnic. There were quite a few people just lounging on the grass patches, so we chose an empty, shady spot right outside the boating clubs. While ZX and I watched the really fit university students carry their boat from the boathouse to the river and row it down, Bielet settled for running with the seagulls.


Sleeping Bieny!

{Part 4: Alexandra Gardens to Federation Square}
The final part of our expedition should be a happy one. But the two bikes got separated. As Bieny and I were about to cycle off, Bielet decided to de-sand her shoes and socks, so I went ahead to see if there was a cyclist-friendly bridge to ride over to return the bikes. I didn't see the cyclist entry to the first bridge and rode over to a second bridge. Alas, the second one was only for pedestrians so I had to turn back.

And ZX and Bielet were no longer there. What.

I ended up having to cycle us up and down the boating clubs and two bridges in hopes of finding them. (Both handphones were with ZX in the backpack.) In desperation, I stopped opposite the bike shop (opposite the river) and prayed for them to appear. They did. AT THE BIKE SHOP. Talk about leaving no man behind.

Anyways, through our incredibly great sign language and telepathy (cough cough), I realised that I could ride on the first bridge after all. So I went and we were reunited. It called for a celebratory photo.

Except you couldn't see Bieny. POOR MEIMEI.

We loved the expodition still. Beams.


[Read the rest of our Melbourne adventures here.]

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