Wednesday, 22 February 2012

My day out with Annabel- first visit of the year

My day out with Annabel

By Carlyn

Well I have a sister named Annabel. She’s not really my sister but she is very special to me.  Annabel and I met when we were in our last year of high school.  She had transferred from somewhere else, I don’t remember where. Annabel’s had to look after herself for most of her life so she’s moved around a lot to wherever she can stay and work ( Annabel is 25 and has had 20 jobs in her life time.). What I do like is that she’s never forgotten me and always writes me a line or two about where she is staying and what she’s doing.

Annabel now cares for her four year old nephew so she’s settled down. Fortunately for me she has settled not too far away from where I live so I’ve taken the opportunity to visit her more often.

Last Saturday, Annabel and I decided to meet in Brisbane .We decided to visit the Roma Street Parklands as Daniel (Annabel’s nephew) would be with us as well. I always think of kid friendly event that I can invite them too.

The Roma Street Parklands is located in the heart of Brisbane,  it was converted from the old Roma Street railway yards in 2000. It’s a huge parkland with many little gardens with different themes and it has playgrounds, sprawling lawns and plenty of places to have picnics and barbecues.  The park is very beautiful too and can be used for special occasions and weddings.
                                           one of the gardens of Roma Street Parklands

Anyway we decided to eat first at the restaurant in the park. The restaurant is a bit frou frou but affordable, they have table service as well but you can quickly order snacks at the counter too.  I asked Annabel whether she would like to eat in the park or in the restaurant and she said that she’d prefer the park. We were going to buy some sandwiches but all they had to go were muffins, cakes and ice cream so we decided to eat in the restaurant instead.

Daniel declared that he wasn’t hungry and wanted to find lizards (lizards live in the parkland) .  He scampered off anyway towards the garden but Annabel wasn’t worried because she could still see him and he always makes sure he can see Annabel. We watched him as he talked to a little boy and his mother who were looking for the lizards as well.

We eventually called him back and he played with his toy cars. Annabel ordered some chicken nuggets and chips (fries) for Daniel and a plate of chips for herself and I ordered some salt and pepper squid.  Daniel repeated that he didn’t want to eat and didn’t want his nuggets but Annabel coaxed him to eat.

Annabel fussed about Daniel’s table manners but I told her to relax and that he was eating like any other three and half year old. I said what was important that he was eating and once he started eating he would keep going and I was right.

After lunch we decided to ride on the little train that circulates the park.  The train driver said that the ticket machine was broken so all train rides would be free.  We were happy about that and climbed aboard.  The train driver called out to people in the park that the train trips were free and coaxed people to come. A family of six adults and their two little babies joined us on the train as well as a little boy and his mother.

We got off the train when it stopped at the playground. During the train trip Daniel was continually looking for lizards.  We found two lizards in some bushes near the playground. We pushed Daniel on the swing a while and then we left him to play on his own.

When Daniel finished playing, we decided to walk around the park. We walked through ‘Fern Gully and The Forest’  which was a little rainforesty garden with tropical trees and it had a little pond and waterfall. Then we walked past the large lake in the middle of the park.

Annabel asked me what we should do after we finished our walk. You can spend the whole day at the park but we knew that Daniel would get bored. So I suggested that we go to South Bank which is a little touristy hub in Brisbane where all the museums, art galleries, theatre halls are and there’s also an artificial beach there too (more like some glorified pools but that’s another story.)

South Bank is a perfect place for families as there are lot of free events and all the museums and galleries have children’s exhibits. I suggested to Annabel that we go to the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) to see the Yayoi Kusama display which I had saw on T.V  a few times.

I was especially interested in visiting ‘The obliteration room’ which is an interactive art display that the public are allowed to participate in. The room originally started off as a white room with a white sofa, dining table and piano. Gallery visitors are given a sheet of stickers with dots on them and they are invited to stick them anywhere in the room.

I don’t know how long the display has been going for, maybe a few months. I remember when I first heard about the exhibit, I was watching tv and I saw that there were a few dots in the room in the room but when I watched a segment about GOMA a few months later, the room was covered in dots.

Anyway, I had only been to GOMA once and Annabel and Daniel followed me down the boardwalk in South Bank towards GOMA. When I saw a big modern building, I assumed it was GOMA but it turned out to be Queensland State Library.

I asked Annabel whether she would like to visit the library as we were already there and I knew the library had a kid’s corner too.  (I’m an education student and I really like art, parks and museums which is why I know these things).

The State Library received a face lift about two or three years ago so it’s quite a modern building. People can still go there and study in peace but it’s also a cultural centre where you can look at Art displays and historical curios.  We went to the kid’s corner and the new theme there was picture books. There were all these little stuff animals, building blocks and tee pees and a little fort.  There were also computers and a drawing area. Not to mention there were picture books strewn everywhere.

I kind of found it curious that people would want to study near there as there study area is located right next to the children’s zone and it’s an open plan space so there was no door to block out all the noisy children.

Daniel drew some pictures and played on the computer with Annabel’s help. He also pretended to cook his little cars in the little play kitchen. I was worried about those little cars and every time he moved, I pocketed them because children can get so attached to their favourite toys and if they go missing there’s trouble. We also sat together in a big cushion shaped as a nest and I read some picture books while Annabel and Daniel did some play fighting with some stuffed crocodile toys.

We must have spent at least an hour in the little children’s corner and Daniel was reluctant to leave. I told him that there was another little play area in another part of the library, directly opposite from the big play area and we moved there.

The other play area was more sparse then the children’s corner. It had fake grass in the space and there were two outdoor furniture sets  complete with sun umbrellas. When we arrived, there was a family building a wall with foam bricks. Annabel and I sat down on a picnic rug while Daniel helped the family with building.

Children like to play with everyone and most people are delighted by children and want to play with them too. The dad in the family gave us a look as if to ask whether it was okay if Daniel joined in and Annabel smiled in agreement.  The family had a play fight with the foam bricks and Daniel joined in as well. 

The family left after five minutes and another Dad and his two sons arrived. Daniel was still in a play fighting mood and threw some foam bricks to the eldest boy who reciprocated until his dad yelled at him to stop. I think the dad was worried that we’d get mad at him. He told his children to leave Daniel alone but then when he saw that we didn’t mind the children interacting, he relented.  The father concentrated on his youngest son. I think he was a bit of control freak because he wanted his son to play but was constantly telling his son to stop “ you can’t throw the bricks you can place them, I SAID place them” “ Get away from that area” “ You can sit on the swing chair but you can’t swing on it.” “ What did I say, I said not to swing on it.” “ Leave that umbrella alone, don’t twirl  it.” Maybe he was more afraid the kid might break something or get hurt.

Daniel and the older boy continued playing with each other until Daniel hit the other child. He only whacked him on the chest. Annabel immediately called Daniel to come sit on the mat for his behaviour. Daniel knew he had done the wrong thing and sat down. He didn’t move from his spot, instead he turned red and got upset because he was being punished.

Annabel said he had to spend two minutes on the mat and that he had to say sorry for hitting. Annabel and I read some picture books as we waited for Daniel’s punishment to be over. Daniel fussed about a bit but he didn’t move from the mat. Annabel asked Daniel to apologise to the boy a few times but Daniel got upset and refused.  He threw Annabel’s book away and refused to retrieve it.

We decided to leave and Daniel cried because he didn’t want to go. We left anyway with the wailing child out of that library. He was still a little sour as we wheeled him in his stroller towards GOMA.

Gallery of Modern Art 

I suggested that we get something to eat to calm Daniel down so we ate at the GOMA café (most of the museums and galleries have a café) . Daniel said he didn’t want to eat any food but I thought he might relent. I think of children, especially small children as how fairies are described in the novel, Peter Pan, they are so small that they can only contain one emotion at a time. So I always think that if they are distracted and calmed down they can move on easily.

I ordered the cupcake of the day for Daniel and Annabel decided to share her iced chocolate with him as well. I ordered an ice chocolate for myself as well as some banana cake. Annabel didn’t want any cake.

Daniel said he didn’t want to eat and that he wanted to play. When the waiter placed the cupcake in front of him, Daniel had a change of heart! Well… he resisted for a while. But Annabel asked him whether he’d like to lick the cream off the cupcake and eat the candy that was on top of the cake. He did those things and became dedicated to finishing off the rest of the cake. She split the cupcake in half for him and he gobbled it down, getting crumbs and icing all over his face. He forgot his sour mood and polished off Annabel’s iced chocolate as well. 

We went to inside GOMA to the Yayoi Kusama ‘Look now, see forever’ exhibit. We first walked into an orange room with circle mirrors all over the walls and large metallic sculptures in the middle. Then we walked into a room which had huge ceramic flowers. They were very nice and glossy.
                                                              Yayoi Kusama

After the ceramic flowers we watched a little of a video of Yayoi Kusama explaining her exhibit and we walked into a small room that contained large white polka dotted red floatable balloon shaped things that filled the entire room, we were allowed to walk under them to squeeze through the room.  The walls were red and some walls were mirrored. There was an attendant to tell people not to touch the exhibit because you could easily deflate the pieces. I told Annabel that I thought it was dreamlike and that it could be someone’s paradise or someone’s nightmare.

The last room we went into was the ‘obliteration room’ which was covered in dots, it looked like there had been a confetti explosion as there was hardly any white to be seen. The piano was covered in dots, the lounge suite, the ceiling, the goblets and dining tables too. Unfortunately, there were no sticker pads left but we still enjoyed looking in the room.

We went downstairs to the next children’s exhibit called ‘ We miss you magic land!” by artists Pip and Pop (Tanya Schultz and Nicole Andrijevic). The exhibit featured little dioramas of candy land landscapes made from sugar, modelling clay and glitter. The little landscapes were on these huge Styrofoam blocks coloured pink marshmallow and baby blue.

We also went to see the Indigenous art collection as well. I like this one room which had projections of Indigenous people posing to have their photographs taken; they were in black and white so it looks like they are moving portraits like in Harry Potter.

At 3pm we decided to call it a day so we said our goodbye and went home.

So that was my day with my sister. I have two more visits to go to fulfil my goal.

If you’re ever thinking of seeing Australia, come to Brisbane!

photos courtesy of

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