The Show

Honestly, let's just reboot this whole business as a Tumblr called "Things I'm Never Getting Around To Blogging About."

I think it's because I'm always cold, which I won't begin to explain because I'd rather try to talk about The Show. Or tired, which is my fault. Or doing things, which I suppose is really the best reason, although perhaps it's tied with not doing awful stuff (like trying to sustain a bad job) and needing the blog as a place to vent.

I spent four months writing a letter to my grandmother, the heavily edited 16-page version of which was only sent after Dad said she mentioned that she'd like a postcard. I like to write, but... cold, tired, doing things.

Anyway. Ever since I met Mike, I've been hearing about The Show. That's 17 years of listening to the joys of showbags, an item which Wikipedia tells me is a uniquely Australian phenomenon.

For the first few years, I thought these were goodie bags of freebies, like you get at conventions. It did sound amazing. But at some point I was schooled to the fact that they are more like deluxe sampler bags of products from a company, sold at a lower-than-retail rate. Still sounded good.

We went up to Perth and splurged on a couple of discounted nights at the Pan Pacific, which I wouldn't say lives up to its five stars. For God's sake, if they offer you an "upgraded" room with lounge privileges after you booked a normal room with a view, decline that near-windowless mess instead of having to fart around with returning to the lobby and requesting to be downgraded, as we did. Also, don't believe anything the website says about parking as it is up to $30 every time you use the garage, not just for the night. Planning to go out to eat? Plan to park on the street... or several streets away, as the case will probably be.

However, my mother-in-law's home isn't built for guests who want to share the same bed, which my sister-in-law and her husband don't mind, but since I'm an insomniac who doesn't deal well with litter boxes and who has a cultural aversion to bathrooms where you have to go to another room to wash your hands (which I seem to work into every blog post that I do make), overnighting in Perth requires facing the fact that all rooms are expensive, all parking is expensive, and because they have you where they want you, amenities may be comparatively poor. Still, Pan Pacific included a breakfast buffet in our on-sale rate which was pretty terrific, so if you prefer a downtown (I won't go native and say "CBD") location, are willing to work hard for parking, and don't mind a tired room, it's a very decent property.

I took only the 50mm lens to the Show because it's light. I feel that I continue to suck at photography because - well, lots of reasons, really - but because I can't find a way to make only carrying the 50mm work well enough for me. "Oh, it's my go-to lens," people say. "Oh, it's all you really need; just zoom with your feet!"

Blah. Whatever. I'm someone who can't even remember to change the auto-focus from "things perfectly still" to "things moving" when watching dogs jump over limbo bars, so despite owning the lens for 7+ years, I'm still not ready to make it work.

About those dogs, they were the first things we saw when we entered the Show, which I should get around to pointing out is like a State Fair, and not just a clever retail experience. Showbags and carnival rides and games aside, it's all agricultural-ish.

Oh, before the dogs, here's an "anticipatory" photo of art from under the overpass as you drive around looking for parking:

Scary Clown Mural Near Claremont Showgrounds

(My Flickr set for the 2013 Perth Royal Show has 129 photos. They won't all be shown here. It will just seem like they are.)

Now one of several blurry dogs. The jumping was great fun to watch. I could've spent hours doing so. (I miss having pets so much. I don't think about the hammies, but I do notice a steely emptiness when I'm not overcompensating with checking my garden every 20 minutes to see if anything new has sprouted.)

Perth Royal Show 2013 - Dog Jumping

We skipped the dog pavilion because it was crowded after the event ended. Crowds overall weren't bad on this Saturday afternoon - at least not until we hit "Sideshow Alley" with its non-kiddie rides (Perth desperately needs a Disney park). Our original plan had been to go to the Show on a Monday, but after booking the room we realized that this was the Queen's birthday. Well, not her actual birthday. Nor the birthday celebrated in other states and countries. Just the day that the people of Western Australia celebrate it and make it a public holiday, i.e. a bad day to go to the show.

The poultry pavilion was next. I could've spent a lot longer in here, too, because I have intense chicken-owning fantasies that people keep trying to shoot down with reality and stuff.

Perth Royal Show 2013 - Pigeon - Brown and White

Okay, that's a pigeon, I know, but now I also have pigeon-raising fantasies. Do people eat pigeon eggs? Pigeon eggs should become the new hipster egg.

These eggs were hatching (not into hipsters). Although I've been an exburb/rural girl, I've never been a farm girl, so these things all fascinate me.

Perth Royal Show 2013 - Eggs Hatching

Perth Royal Show 2013 - Chicken With Interesting Pattern

Perth Royal Show 2013 - Chicken Poking Its Head Out

Perth Royal Show 2013 - Silkie Chickens Are Aliens, Surely

If there's a program to the Royal Show, they didn't try to sell us one at the gate. We had the free app on our phones, which was mostly very good, like when you wanted to look at the map, since it would show you where you were. (The showgrounds are rather huge. Bigger than the Magic Kingdom in terms of walking-space? Surely.) At other times, the app disappointed. For instance, if it said that at 2 p.m. there would be Oasdhihqwe, I'd click the description, interested in what Oasdhihqwe was, and the description would read "See Oasdhihqwe at 2 p.m." Argh. It also (as far as I could tell) didn't list things like the CPR classes, and who knows how many other cool activities?

Perth Royal Show 2013 - CPR Class

Perth Royal Show 2013 - Tempted By The Glow Bag

Before the Show, I invented an elimination game for pre-choosing our showbags. It was color-coded, italicized, formatted into Monopoly-size cards and involved scraping the description for every possible showbag of interest (about 189 out of at least twice that) off the website (and adding hyphens where they were missing from compound adjectives because it's hard to pass up an easy opportunity to make the world better).

I was sure the Glow Bag, shown above, was going to be on my short list. Mike, on the other hand, scoffed at it immediately and made it one of his first-round cuts. Pft!

But then, upon reflection, the bag lost its appeal. The booth wasn't even very rave-tastic. There was a moment on the second day when I nearly caved, when one of the barkers was blowing bubbles out of a neon bubble-gun, but the gun wasn't included in the bag, so whatever. Maybe next year.

Instead, our short list looked like this: candy bags for Mike, chocolate bag for me, and we both liked the look of the "Urban Locavore" bag filled with regional condiments.

Perth Royal Show 2013 - Genealogical and Historical Societies Present

I didn't visit the genealogical society since Mike's ancestors only came to WA in his parents' generation, but it was pleasing to see. Besides, it was too likely that I would just get religious in there and start preaching about DNA.

Perth Royal Show 2013 - Mike 'Mixes' His Super Slush

So, they had this mix-and-match line of slurpee/slushie/icee flavours. Mike "mixed" a straight-up pineapple. Between this and the Cherry Slushie of Disgustingness that he got on our way to Alaska last year, two drinks that tasted like cold liquid candy, I realized that I really don't care for candy that much. My fave "boiled lolly" as a kid was those butterscotch ones in the crinkly yellow wrappers, and I wouldn't say no to one now if I had a glass of water handy or was just bored or if you were Elton John (then I'd scrapbook the wrapper after drawing the outline of a yellow brick road on it), but candy? Eh.

The above may be foreshadowing.

Perth Royal Show 2013 - Flax Farming Model

Perth Royal Show 2013 - Lathe and Man

Perth Royal Show 2013 - Milkshake Machine

Perth Royal Show 2013 - First Car in WA

Perth Royal Show 2013 - Riding the Iron

Perth Royal Show 2013 - Blacksmith Fire

The historical stuff was all worth slowing down for, but it was hard to actually stop when there was so much to see and only so much time. The heritage pavilion has several demonstrations, but they all conflicted with other demonstrations, plus we kind of missed almost all the demonstrations because we'd be on the other side of the showgrounds when they'd happen. You'd go mad trying to plan it out and see several of the ongoing exhibitions that close by five. I'm not sure if I have a complaint here or just the advice that two visits may be in order. (If I were a local, I'd be all the more upset by the lack of week-long passes.)

Perth Royal Show 2013 - Muddy Creek Soaps

Not all showbags were official. The Muddy Creek soap people were offering three large bars and a nylon scrubbie (colour of your choice) for $10, among other configurations. The merchandise just gets put into a white plastic bag, though, so I didn't have the long-awaited satisfaction of my first showbag, and I decided it didn't count. (Let the record show that we, yes we, chose French Pear, Lemongrass & Myrtle, and Something With Almonds I Think. It all sits decoratively and slightly dusty with my other fun soaps, waiting for a day when I weigh under 120 pounds and perhaps also lose five or six inches of height so our bathtub will be less of a slippery form-fitting coffin.)

Perth Royal Show 2013 - Angry Hammers

Inflatable hammers were really popular. Most candy showbags seemed to have them, and one of Mike's bags actually contained two by mistake. This ended up being quite useful when I had a bit of a tantrum and we had to leave the park before locating the showbags that I wanted.

(It's just that my gimpy ankle was sore and, by the time we got to Sideshow Alley, it was as noisy as fuck and as crowded as all fuck and even just typing about it makes me want to work in as many f-bombs as possible. Add a few strollers and the previously mentioned - I think? - lack of traffic rules for crowd flow, and by that point neither one of wanted to stay at the Show one more minute. I said I'd probably come back next year, but no guarantees, just get me OUT. Then I realized that Mike had bags of candy on each arm and the candy suddenly represented me feeling like an outsider in many other ways of the world, and the fact that I had no showbags when the showbags had been the carrot for so many years and... sigh... someone may have become a big baby at this point. I don't know how actual babies survive Sideshow Alley because every ride had someone screaming louder into a microphone than the guy at the next ride, and did I mention that the rides are all something like ten bucks a pop? And everywhere there was candy, candy, candy, and people pushing each other to buy candy, all mocking my candy-disinterested existence. On some level I was probably even considering how nitwits of the world assume that fat people want to eat candy all day long, and where were they now to give me my points for refusing it? Yeah, emotions escalated. But at this point, we were still having a wonnnnderful time - Liberace voice - and it was one of the best things we'd done since I'd come to Australia.)

Perth Royal Show 2013 - Prize Jams

The wide angle would have been so handy for capturing all of the inspiring items in the cooking pavilion, especially the jarred condiments and the decorated baked items.

Perth Royal Show 2013 - Winning Scones Display

(Winning scones.)

Perth Royal Show 2013 - Boiled Fruit Cake and More

(Boiled Fruit Cake. Oh, Australia.)

Perth Royal Show 2013 - Pikelets

(Pikelets are best served cold, Mike says. Apparently they're "not really pancakes." Hm.)

Perth Royal Show 2013 - Blue Ribbon Lamingtons

(Lammies get their own category, of course.)

Perth Royal Show 2013 - Decorated Cupcakes

Perth Royal Show 2013 - Decorated Cupcakes (Highly Recommended)

Perth Royal Show 2013 - Decorated Biscuits (Third Prize)

I take back half of the unkind things I ever said about fondant. These aren't even the winners.

Perth Royal Show 2013 - Decorated Biscuits (Second Place)

It has turned out that Australia knows more about Halloween than Mike has intimated over the years. In a few months I'll get to see if everything he said about Valentine's Day not being A Thing was true. Meanwhile, the stores and downtown have Christmas lights up. It's October. This is what happens when you don't have a strong enough Halloween.

Unexpectedly good were the regional booths. Here's the one for my region (the southwest) at a distance:

Perth Royal Show 2013 - Our Region

Most booths had attractive grain displays:

Perth Royal Show 2013 - Grain Art Is Now A Thing

Some southwestern produce:

Perth Royal Show 2013 - Southwestern Produce

Perth Royal Show 2013 - Southwestern Cheese Wheel (Revolving Briskly)

I liked the revolving cheese wheel. It's blurry, but far less blurry than the photos I took of the other booths. (I'm not a regionalist - my camera is.)

You can tell, though, that the "cheese" isn't cheese:

Perth Royal Show 2013 - Harvey Styrofoam Cheese

Little game booths were common. I was hoping these would be the water gun/balloon clowns, which my Dad was an expert at when I was growing up. Instead, for these you drop balls into the clown's mouth and they roll to a slot worth points, kind of like Plinko.

Perth Royal Show 2013 - Scary Row

Plinko with bleeding eyes.

It's hardly safe.

Perth Royal Show 2013 - Double Dares

And this guy knows it:

Perth Royal Show 2013 - Shark Mouth Is A Slide

Perth Royal Show 2013 - No, You Decide

I didn't even notice this older couple when I took the photo. (Reason number 18 why I'll never quite get the hang of photography.) I like to think that they're debating which of the kiddie rides to ride. (Which means I'm projecting my idealized future self onto them.)

Neither of us tried the milking simulator, but it's penciled in for next year, for sure.

Perth Royal Show 2013 - Cow-Milking Simulator

Perth Royal Show 2013 - Sheep-Herding

Watching sheep get herded always sends me into a reverie over whether sheep are good-naturedly taking orders, are dumb and living in the direction of the moment, are stressed out by all the oppressive tyranny, or are putting on a show as much as the dog may be (when in front of an audience).

[UPDATE: How many weeks ago did I start writing this post? I don't know, but it's not entirely my fault that I haven't finished because I've been butt-numb. Seriously. It's like the universe is trying to keep me off the sofa and most chairs. Hopefully this isn't foreshadowing a future post about sudden and inexplicable lower-body paralysis. Pft, let's be more realistic: of course I'd never get around to writing such a post... unless it happened on a cruise last year, perhaps.]

[Madly typing before the butt-numbs send me back to a non-typing position.]

Perth Royal Show 2013 - Alpaca or Merridoc from LOTR

I think this alpaca looks like whatshisface hobbit from The Lord of the Rings, the one who played Charlie on Lost, but Mike doesn't see it.

Perth Royal Show 2013 - The Well-Accessorized Alpaca

This alpaca just looks fetching with her purple accessory. I try not to think about how unpleasant it must be to wear a face harness.

Perth Royal Show 2013 - Sow and Piglets

If you go to the Royal Show and you're childfree, ignore the City Farmers pavilion near the IGA stuff and Sideshow Alley. Instead, head away from all the kid-bait to the place where you can get your "I Patted A Pig!" sticker. They also have chicks and bunnies and guinea pigs to hold and love and - I'm pretty sure - be loved back.

Perth Royal Show 2013 - Pattable Pig

Perth Royal Show 2013 - Pig Tail

Perth Royal Show 2013 - Mike's Legs and the Sneaky Piglet

Perth Royal Show 2013 - Baby Chicks Under Lamp

Perth Royal Show 2013 - My Bunny

Hey, an actual picture of me. It's rather historic because I took off my wedding band before we went off to Perth - my first time to cave into my ring-losing anxiety. As you can see in the photo, my ring finger is still purple from where a semi-wild eclectus parrot misunderstood what I was offering him. This had happened about a month before the Show, at least, so you don't get to appreciate the deep gouges made by the parrot's determined beak. Seems like that whole parrot ordeal or even any of the many, many happier stories about the local parrots would be a good story to blog about, maybe especially a blurb about the other eclectus who wants to make babies with me, but apparently I'm just running a cheap memory boarding house and hand treadmill here, sorry.

Perth Royal Show 2013 - Segues

Even though the Showgrounds are huge, the neighbourhood comes up right next to the fence. That must be pretty spiffy when the fireworks come on.

Perth Royal Show 2013 - Mike Plays 'Sheep or Carpet'

In a parallel universe I have a Tumblr called "Touching Live Fur." (In that universe I'm even worse at making up titles for things.)

Perth Royal Show 2013 - Sheep at Rails

Sheep agrees.

The place you don't want to go at the Show when it's busy is the cat pavilion. It was so crowded, cramped, and miserable in there that I'm not even going to include the crappy-poo photo I took as we hurriedly left. But at least it's a space where you probably won't hear someone going on about the evils of cats, for once.

Perth Royal Show 2013 - Slide and Splashdown

It's not just carnie rides at the Show. I took the above photo of the log ride and rollercoaster while standing by the woodchopping stadium during an event.

Perth Royal Show 2013 - Wood-Chopping Stadium

Here's Sideshow Alley, when things started to get bad:

Perth Royal Show 2013 - Crowds With No Cultural Notion of Pedestrian Traffic Flow

Perth Royal Show 2013 - Haunted House Witch Decor

Perth Royal Show 2013 - Laughing Clown Sign

Perth Royal Show 2013 - Rabbit Shooting

And see, there's even a chair lift (mocking me as I yearned to be one of those who could just sail over the crowds and noise):

Perth Royal Show 2013 - Ranger

Perth Royal Show 2013 - Morish Nuts and Chair Lift

Perth Royal Show 2013 - Nitro

We left. Now I'll just bullet-list our non-Show activities for my future biographers, just in case I win a prize for curing numb butt.

Saturday Night

  • Left the show all cranky.
  • Checked in to the Pan-Pacific.
  • Downgraded the room.
  • Went out to dinner despite the parking situation. Indian buffet. Pretty delicious. I forget where.
  • Parked on the street after circling the hotel several times.
  • Slept.

Sunday Morning

  • Had the delicious buffet breakfast. I just love a solid, pressed hash brown. (Really.)
  • Went out to "the markets" at one shopping place.
  • Found nothing.
  • Went to another one. My ankle was hurting. No stalls looked like they might have hidden goodies that would appeal to our nature. "Mike, why are we doing this? What could we possibly buy?" Mike conceded that the lack of anything interesting plus the dominant presence of professional vendors was the reason he had stopped going to the markets years ago, back when he was an eBay seller. Normally I like flea markets and whatnot, but really, what would we buy?
  • Felt discouraged because the whole point of staying the night was to get to go to the markets bright and early, but my ankle was sore out of my own foolishness, and the market wares were depressing.
  • Went to the outside of the Perth Mint.
  • Went to the gift shop of the Perth Mint.
  • Decided not to take the tour of the Perth Mint because the best exhibits are partially closed for remodeling.
  • Called the hotel and pretended to not be sure whether our room was refundable. (It wasn't.)
  • Went back to the room to wait for Tactics to open at noon. Left car parked on street near Perth Mint because parking at Pan-Pacific is so stoooopid.
  • Hopped into car before fees started and drove to the parking garage by Miss Maud's instead (after circling the CBD 20,000 times in the hopes of a spot and watching a shirtless hobo have a conversation with two smiling-yet-gloved policemen during a particularly long light).
  • Delighted all over again in London Court's atmosphere. Delighted all over again in Tactics. Spent some of the money we didn't spend at the Show in Tactics (we told ourselves).
  • Bought so many heavy games that we actually each had to take a handle of the bag when detouring into the David Jones food court (which was too crowded on this visit to enjoy).
  • Drove away to see if The Flying Taco was as good as it sounded on Yelp. My lords, people, there is a Mexican place in Perth where they make their own queso fresco! Better than advertised. We went back again the next week when we were looking at nurseries.

Our mood was high again after the retail therapy at Tactics, the fun wanderings in the CBD, and some proper tacos (or in my case, mushroom quesadillas). It started to drizzle. We looked at each other. "Should we just go see how bad the parking is at the Show?"

We found a spot right up front. 

Mike at the Perth Royal Show

The crowds had cleared as people either bolted home or huddled under awnings. We were happy. This was taken after we went into the IGA pavilion, found the Urban Locavore showbag I (we) wanted - lemon curd and brownie mix! - and Mike ran it back to the car. (For it was heavy, and we'd learned our lesson after Tactics earlier.) I looked at two-day-old baby goats in the City Farmer pavilions while waiting. Aww. (I'd put the video here if I were less lazy.)

Alas, it was now later in the day, so some of the exhibits had closed. Next year we'll definitely have to check out the gardening one.

Perth Royal Show - Garden Exhibit

Still, it was lovely to be walking in the drizzly breeze, taking in the lights as twilight settled.

Perth Royal Show - Carousel

Perth Royal Show - Plush For Sale, Just In Case

(I can't decide if it's genius or disappointing that they have a place that sells the big plush animals in case you don't win one.)

Perth Royal Show - Mike and the Iconic Hamburger

To hear Mike tell of it, this hamburger-shaped stand at the Perth Royal Show is absolutely iconic. Mike will tell you that back in his days as a lad at the show, the hamburger was completely painted, and you could make out the lettuce and everything. If anyone has a photo of that, Flickr that puppy up for us.

Sidebar: Yeah, I'm still using Flickr. I don't use Instagram for the same reason I don't usually tweet - I'm just not about the short comment made in the moment. (Obviously.) And I don't use 500px because 99.3% of my photos aren't artistically interesting. (And .5% are only artistic to me, like this lavender photo below.) Luckily, Flickr has improved their mobile app, so who knows? Maybe my thousands of image links here won't go dead this year because Flickr goes belly up. Woohoo!

Lavender Sunrise

(You know what else would make a good post? My garden. And our second visit to the Balingup Lavender Farm to help populate said garden. And how I'm addicted to Folia where you can check out my garden.)

And actually, that's it for Perth Show photos! (Because I don't want to end with the one of Mike walking toward a churros stand.)

That night we had a Chelsea pizza, Mike's fave that I'd also heard about for years, which I thought was "fine" but couldn't assess fairly because I never expect Kalamata olives. I'll be happy to try them again. Maybe it will be our Royal Show tradition.

The next day we visited Mike's mom, tried to snuggle the cats, bopped into Masters for some soil but also found some lovely pots (for the garden that I was now 24 hours away from starting but didn't know it), and were happy that the school holidays were only just starting.

That was almost five weeks ago. In a few weeks, we'll be happy that the big holidays (summer break! in December! ack...) are almost here. (But what with visits to Good Games and orders at Amazon and Milsims, I have to wonder if we'll make it into Tactics again anytime soon. Right now the only thing rivaling my acquisition of plants is our acquisition of board games.)

But back to the Show. I'm already excited about next year, so here's my big plan, now that I know what it's like:

  • Go in the middle of the week but not on the Queen's birthday.
  • Maybe book a room so we can see some of the morning events, but if so, do so at a caravan park because, my god, the cost of Perth hotels.
  • Enter some sort of baking or decorating competition. I don't know how that will work, since hopefully by then I'll be an employed permanent resident and the drop-off hours seem to favour housewives plus I assume we'll still just have one car, but whatever. That's a problem for Future Shari to solve.
  • Acquire creative genius in the baking/decorating department. (Another problem for Future Shari.)
  • Get to the Show early enough to get a great (a "bonza", even) parking space. Or possibly ride the special train, depending on what else is happening.
  • Hold a guinea pig. (I couldn't do it and the rabbit this year.)
  • See more of the dog competitions.
  • Get one of those bubble-blowing glow guns, even if they aren't part of the show bag.
  • Play the coin-sliding game even though the odds are bad and it will require a carefully timed visit to the bad/loud/crowded part of the show.
  • Go into the Crafts pavilion.
  • Take the regular walkaround lens and stop trying to be one of those people who can do everything with a thrifty fifty.
  • Visit the garden exhibit. Buy something for next year's garden.
  • Remember to wear the ACE bandage on my ankle even if I weigh a hundred pounds less and my brain thinks "That injury happened two years ago - don't bother!"
  • Have at least as good of a time as we had this year with my best friend.

(I finished this post at 10 a.m. on the 1st of November, but I'm back-dating it to Halloween because it's still Halloween in the States, and Halloween can't be over until I finish decorating my special Halloween cake... which I won't blog about but maybe will meet my laughable "post more" resolve halfway by throwing up a photo later.)

31 October 2013 |

Previously: Castle Fun Park
Next: Recent Firsts






Carnival Elation (2009)
Carnival Splendor (2009)
Carnival Spirit (2010)
Carnival Spirit (2011)
Carnival Splendor (2011)
Norwegian Pearl to Alaska (2012)