Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Royal Melbourne Show

We took our kids to the Royal Melbourne Show today. This is the very first time they've been, although their aunt usually brings them each a showbag from her annual visits. My partner and I last went to the Show 14 years ago, well before our first child was born, and I remember enjoying it but finding it exhausting and a bit stressy with the press of crowds everywhere.

I have been hesistant to take them before now, with a combination of fear of extreme expenditure and distaste for the crowding (especially with a pram or pusher) holding me back. This year, though, our youngest is 5.5 and well able to keep up with the group on foot, so we thought, oh well - it's worth a try.

All three kids were very excited and enthused about going, and have spent a few days researching their desired showbags on the Show website. We had a slight glitch getting going this morning, with still-not-100% youngest declaring herself to be too sick to go, but she was persuaded by talk of baby animals, and off we went.

We ended up spending 5 hours at the Show all up, most of it remarkably harmoniously and enjoyably (not a given in an outing with three children, as anyone who has wrangled same would attest). We petted baby animals, watched the dog breed judging, perused the prize animal tent, watched a quite clever but (I have to say) borderline skeevy magic show, visited the food pavillions, and found time for my perennial favourite, the arts, crafts and cookery pavillion. (Check out that chicken cake! And how about the rainbow serpent? The bar is definitely raised now for birthday cakes in this house ...)

Of course, kids being kids, they also had a ride on a fairly low-key rollercoaster, and showbags were procured - 2 apiece. However, we did manage to steer them away from most of the carnie attractions, which are such a massive cash-suck. Fairy floss and gelato were adequate compensation for not being allowed to feed the clowns or throw darts at balloons :-)

Overall, I really enjoyed the day. The car parking was much better organised and less stressful than I remember it being, and there seemed to be a more manageable amount of people - we weren't crowded anywhere, indoors or outdoors, and didn't have to queue to do anything (including go to the loo!) Maybe that's because we went mid-week, whereas when we were young adults we always went Saturday? Or maybe Show numbers are down? I don't know, but it certainly made for a more pleasant family experience than I was necessarily expecting.

It was a very pricey day, no denying - but I bought the combined Show / Aquarium entry ticket, and that, combined with restricting the kids to two showbags total value $30 apiece, helped keep it within spec. We did drop over $300 today but we'll "save" over $100 when we take the kids to the Aquarium next, so overall, as a huge family day out in a school holidays that doesn't include going away anywhere, I can live with it. I think we'll probably make it a biennial event now - every second year seems like a fair proposition.

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