Clifton Hills

All posts tagged Clifton Hills

Not a Bad Advocate

Published February 7, 2022 by helentastic67

Not a Bad Advocate

So, continuing with the grumpy women who disrespected me and felt she could or should tell me she thought I was a terrible advocate. I’m just saying I made this happen.

I know to a start with it does not look impressive. However, its perfect because down in Clifton Hill there are still some sections of the main roads that have the old grey stones and very deep gutters, where regularly people attempt to drive into a particular car parking spot just near my GP. Fairly certain I’ve made my own Mother nearly lose her mind when she did not want my advice on how to park her car. 

But I can tell you I have a carer that wishes she’d taken my advice as this was the predicament, we found ourselves in one lovely Thursday afternoon.

While she consulted her insurance policy on her phone. Checking the fine print if they covered a tow truck? Pretty fine print on a mobile phone. Definitely. I decided to go find some Muscle, as I referred to it. A local cafe yield was two men. Discovered the car was front-wheel-drive and the muscle did not want to risk trying to lift the front of the car, not a big car, but good not to add physical injury to a sad stuck car. 

A mum, in hospital scrubs was dropping her daughter to get her braces stopped to offer a hand. A man in not even a cheap suit enquired what our problem was? Note the difference there?

I had rung a few friends; some advice was offered but I couldn’t convince my carer to try it and the not very useful barely-suits man who didn’t want to get dirty. He didn’t look like he’d gotten his hands dirty in his life, would give it a go.

In the end my carers son came from work, swapped cars with us so we could continue our shopping and getting gear for the following days chores. He waited for the tow truck. 

While waiting, several locals told us there were several cars each day that got themselves into trouble at that location. I couldn’t understand why the council hadn’t tried to make their city more accessible. An email or two later, over a few months where I told them I wasn’t demanding they remove the blue stone gutters that make the street interesting and original but was there something they could do to deter a repeat incident at that location.

Fast forward a few months and this happened

So, to that Hell-Hater. Take that.

I know it’s not ground-breaking and there’s still world peace to solve. Sometimes, the big advocacy stuff is harder than world peace and you gotta celebrate the small stuff.

Not throwing a party. But I wrote this post, little brag.

Italian Helen

Published January 25, 2019 by helentastic67

italian helen

Italian Helen

This morning while getting ready to go out, I swear there were about four ideas for posts in my head. I have an extra appointment in Cliffy Hill today, so I’ve come early for an extra lunch this week at my favourite café and while I’ve extra time, all my ideas disappeared.

good ideas

Ah, I should start all my posts with thought of my mind is a sieve (it has holes in it) because they then all come flooding back.

I thought it was high time I unpacked my Italian part.

italian heritage

If you haven’t read my “About” page, it may be mentioned there. My father came to Australia when he was only 4 years old, way back in about 1952. The ship my father and many other immigrants travelled here on, I recently learnt was called the Sorrento and I understand now why other Italians call their businesses something with Sorrento in their names. A supermarket back in Clifton Hill is the flower of Sorrento.

Dad Arrives by ship

The journey took 4 weeks. Shorter than I imagined but as a 4-year-old I’m sure it seemed to take for ever.

His father came out some years earlier to pave the way for his family to join him. He worked on the railways, building the train tracks and would send his wages back to Italy to his wife. Every so often, he would travel back to Italy on a ship to see his wife, meet his new son, knock up (that means impregnate) his wife, then get on a boat back to Australia.

worked on railways 1

He readied a home here in the country (where I’m from). So it was all ready for his wife and children to join him.

readied home

My father, the youngest was four years old and he had never even met him. I imagine my dad a little boy at a wharf in Melbourne, holding all his worldly possessions in a small suitcase. My grandparents both worked in factories. The two factories in town made fabric and wool, neither learned English.

arrive by ship

I think it was a generational thing that they worked in factories, stayed amongst their own (Italians with Italians, Greeks with Greeks etc) and because they really had no opportunities to socialize with Aussies, they didn’t learn. Whereas the three sons went to school here and had to learn. As a youngster, my older sister and I would tease my dad about his terrible spelling. He thought bath was spelt ‘Barth’. There is no silent ‘R’ in Bath.

going to school

Apparently, he used to duck his head down in the classroom so the teacher didn’t call on him. My father didn’t do too badly however. While his two older brothers both worked in the factories also (one worked driving trucks for many years, but eventually ended up in the factory also.)

Work in factories

My father worked as a chippy (that is the tradie name/term for Builder or Carpenter). I learned very little if any Italian from my father. As a child, visits to my Italian grandparents resulted in my cheeks being pinched. Sweet Jesus! If you tried to hide them from Nona, she would pinch your butt cheeks instead. You just couldn’t win.

nona pinch cheeks

When visiting them, we would walk down the driveway and while the men would stay outside and chat about the grapevines over the roof of the trellis beside the garage and the vegetable garden. There was almost more vegetable garden than lawn in the backyard. Nona would take my older sister inside, open the fridge door and motion to the bottles of Loy’s soft drinks. Every colour was on offer.

vegetable garden 1

My sister liked Creamy Soda or Portello and I preferred Lime, but we were raised to have whatever was open. Nona would beckon us to just choose and it didn’t matter with very little English, it was easy to communicate. In very simple terms, Nona wanted to feed you and love you. So, food and cuddles.

nonas fridge

I know my mum would stay with my father, but because my father spoke only Italian to his father and didn’t make an effort to translate or include her, her resentment has stemmed from here.

Guess I should confess, my older sister and I attended Italian classes when I was about seven. I also did a class in high school as a compulsory subject, when I was about thirteen. Not much stuck. I can count from one to ten at a push to twenty and a few other things.

italian class

My twenty’s and thirty’s I spent more time meeting other wogs who would greet me in Italian, I would quickly point out politely I didn’t speak the language and then explain ‘I know a few words’. It was always assumed I know the swear word and I only learnt a few of those when I worked in my first administration job, where my superior was a grumpy ex-sous chef, who thought I was a disgrace to my heritage.

speak italian

So, in front of an all-male (all wog) group of our clients he would say things like ‘Oh what a misery’ (that was easy to work out) and he had a preference for saying ‘Che fa’ (I hope it’s realised Che fa sounds conveniently like “Get fucked?”) which eventually on a day he used it a lot I eventually called him on it. (his over use of the words) Yeah, yeah, we get it. You are not really asking ‘What the?’ but playing on the fact it sounds remarkably like (my favourite words) Something arse…

che fa

I appreciate my grandfather sacrificing seeing his boys grow up to come here to build something for their future. And even that immigrants these days come to Australia for a better life.

better life

I think every generation of immigrants that have made Australia their home have bought a little of their culture with them to enrich our lifestyle with theirs. Not always good, sure. But food culture especially. Better!

food culture




Today’s Lunch – 28th November 2018

Published November 28, 2018 by helentastic67

Todays Lunch

Today’s Lunch

Good Mental Health Day

Welcome to another busy week so far. Hoping Wednesday’s punchy/stabby day is a bit of calm to my mid-week.

Calm mid week

However, first I must mention a lovely woman I called my friend that I heard passed away a month ago. I met her when I knocked on her door. 15 years ago. She squinted at me suspiciously and I reassured her she did not know me. I introduced myself and inquired as to the cumquats over her back fence.  I’m sure I can’t do her justice in a Wednesday foody post but I’m sure to do a full post about her at a later date. I would hear from Kath around December as she would call people instead of doing Christmas cards. I knew Kath from when I lived in Clifton Hill before and straight after I developed my disability. Kath was a morning regular at the cafe near where I first lived and everybody knew her. From my visits with her I learnt she had been a nurse in the ICU brain injury ward at St Vincent’s hospital. When she would update me on her breakfast companions, she once told me they had “fallen off their perch!” Which I prefer “They went to God!” Which is how I diplomatically like to put it when someone dies. I know it’s really hard for the older generation when they keep losing their friends because they outlive them.

Kath 1

Every time I spoke to her. she would announce happily how old she was. It would go like this “Oh Helen I’m 94 this year and I don’t want to live forever.” She lived to be 97 which was a pretty good innings. I always found her interesting because she didn’t seem to have that Grumpy old lady era. I have a few other older lady friends and one of them has always been in that era and I’ve known her for the same amount of time and has never disclosed her age. What is it with older ladies and their age? My friend Betty is only 87 and doesn’t want to get to 97. Clifton Hill won’t be the same without her presence.

Kath 2

Otherwise have been in the city the last 2 days. Tuesday all afternoon even coming home in peak hour on the tram to get home just before 7pm! Didn’t even get my medicine. Might need to sneak in a second medicine later today.

Peak hour

So, today’s lunch is a salami pizza with a side salad and my medicine.

Salami PizzaSaladLatte

And just reporting my friend in Texas received her latest parcel only a week late. She seemed pleased! It’s gone already, apparently.

Package arrived



Today’s Lunch – 10th January 2018

Published January 10, 2018 by helentastic67

Todays Lunch 1001

Today’s Lunch

I do solemnly swear to not forget to eat the yummy food before I take a photo, on the other days I eat out at the cool hipster cafes closer to home. As I know I did promise to include those pictures in this post also. I promise to do better…………

Do better

So, again this week my managed to make it to Cliffy Hill with some time for lunch.  My favourite cafe/bakery/patisserie is still closed for a few more days.

So, had to find an alternative destination. Today’s medicine, think we call this design – the I was too fucking lazy to pay attention at Barista school to do leaves and love hearts.

Lazy Barista


So, today’s lunch is a healthy quinoa salad complete with mustard seeds and goats cheese.


Last year I had a rum ball with my medicine here and despite not being a drinker I found the golf ball sized rum ball both lacking in rum or good quality vanilla essence. Just learnt they make the rumballs themselves on site but he said they don’t have them from where he’s from? Note faint accent, he is from San Fran. Ok, I will allow.

Rum balls

But healthy salad at 1pm, winning! Hope your midweek is coming together?


Update on Hikaru the curious cat? He is home from the vet but not only housebound after his snake bite but also contained within a cage. Hikaru is not as healthy and energetic as he believes. The vet said they were lucky he made it.

Cat in a cage


Great week

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