A blog about Fremantle, urban planning and placemaking by a town planning geek interested in cooking, history, politics and sport.
Sunday, 22 January 2012
The Adventures of Bubba: Part 2 (aka cool things to do in Freo with a four year old)
The Harbour After tiring of the E Shed markets, the harbour presented itself as the next place to continue our adventure. We found ourselves sitting at the harbour's edge with our legs dangling over the side, admiring the big ships and looking at the deep blue water in peaceful contemplation. The peaceful contemplation bit was mainly reserved for Bubba. My wife was shifting her neck and shoulders uncomfortably as the shock of giving Bubba a shoulder ride for the first time in ten months kicked in, and I was thinking about air conditioning. As he supped on his ice cream sundae, Bubba kept a keen watch for sea monsters, which my wife had assured him regularly surfaced to dine on juicy little boys. Unfortunately the only thing floating past was a succession of plastic bags and bottles, and I had to spend some time explaining to the ever-conscientious Bubba why it wasn't a good idea for his uncle to jump into the harbour and retrieve them for safe disposal. Luckily, we soon spotted a school of little fish, which Bubba found momentarily enchanting. He then returned to the topic of his uncle having a dip and I began to get the suspicion that Bubba would like nothing more than to see yours truly taking a dive...so I removed my phone and wallet just in case. You can never be too sure around a four year old set on an elaborate mission. Cycling to Cantonment Street Recognising that he wasn't going to get me into the harbour anytime soon, Bubba was soon ready for a spot of cycling. Fans of the Wind in the Willows will be able to picture the mad glint Bubba develops around any kind of machinery with wheels, and as he pulled out his green bicycle from his parents' car, I empathised profoundly with Ratty and Mole when Toad embarked on his frenzied car phase. There's a great paved area on the train station side of the E Shed, which was protected from traffic and big enough for Uncle Woney to really be put through his paces. However, after a while the oldies enthusiasm for this paled and things eventually reached the point when home was mentioned. When this happened, Bubba was most unimpressed. He disembarked from his bicycle and, with all the logic of a philosopher from Ancient Greece, presented his argument for staying a bit longer. This gave me some time to catch my breath and I watched whilst his parents and grandparents engaged in negotiations with Bubba. Things weren't looking good for him and his transformation from Socratic philosopher to raging Genghis Khan (cue lying down on his back wailing) was almost upon us, when Bubba was struck by a brainwave. Accurately assessing all the adults present as either too old, too recently pregnant or too flaked out to be able to pursue him with any conviction, Bubba clambered onto his speed machine and started pedalling in the direction of our apartment, calling behind him as a sort of caveat against a possible scolding "my have to say goodbye to the birds," (referring to our pet weiros, whom he'd always treated with complete indifference up until that moment). He got away with it, of course. There's not much you can do in the face of such audacity but capitulate, and although my mother-in-law helpfully 'discovered' she'd left her car keys at the apartment and therefore needed to go back anyway, I'm convinced this was a face-saving exercise more than anything. Bubba traversed the relatively short trip from the E Shed markets to our apartment in Cantonment Street with ease. He managed to avoid oncoming pedestrians (admittedly mostly because of some fast footwork on their part), enjoyed the adventure of crossing the train tracks and the mystery and power of stopping a bus in its tracks at the pedestrian crossing by the train station. A diversion up High Street also provided a great opportunity for practicing weaving in between poles - anyone with a child also fond of some good 'twisty-whisties' need look no further than the corner of Henry and High. Of course, all good things must come to an end, and after retrieving Nanna's keys and saying goodbye to the birds (a perfunctory wave), it was time to go. By this time Bubba was both over-tired and over-excited (ie, ready to go off like a bag of microwave popcorn and have one of those spectacular tantrums that are impossible not to laugh at) and it's best we gloss over the events that followed. Suffice it to say that no one was left in any doubt about Bubba's affection for Freo. Fortunately for all of us, his parents let themselves be persuaded to visit the next day, and in his inimitable fashion Bubba was able to test out Bathers Beach and the new upgrade (spoiler alert - it got a huge thumbs down), Little Creatures, the ferris wheel, the bungee trampoline and the Esplanade playground. But those are stories for other days.