Category: Personal Rambles

Illuminate The River: an exercise in forced positivity

There’s a unique and enigmatic vibe that I’m pretty sure exists exclusively at free music festivals (and is only amplified when it’s one either hosted or funded by a Government body). 

At “normal” festivals, punters are usually some flavour of staunch – there’s a rigid itinerary of artists they want to see and/or activities they want to check out, and there’s this energy, driven by the atmosphere and the excitement and the fact that tickets cost a truly stupid amount of money, that makes it all feel spectacular. And I love that. I love big festivals like Splendour and Falls and Good Things (which is in less than two weeks!!!!) and UNIFY. But I love the inverse atmosphere at a free music festival – this youthful looseness and “whatever happens will happen” kind of spirit – equally so. It’s much more lowkey; crowds are a lot more diverse, settings are a lot more suburban, and the setups look (and sound) like they were put together by students and interns and members of local communities who wouldn’t normally be involved in events like music festivals. However, because government bodies tend to have government money, the lineups certainly don’t reflect the DIY energy.

Cue: Illuminate The River, a daylong “festival of music and light”, hosted collaboratively by the City of Moonee Valley and Creative Victoria (via their ‘On The Road Again’ initiative), taking place last Saturday at The Boulevard in Aberfeldie. The lineup looked too good to be true: Art Vs Science, Baker Boy, Something For Kate, Montaigne and Mia Wray (and Teenie Tiny Stevies, but seeing as though their target audience are no older than preschool-aged, they didn’t particularly appeal to me). It became even better when set times were released, with each act given a full hour to perform. Ancillary to that, the festival promised carnival rides, food trucks, a beer garden, and at the end of it all, “an extravagant laser and water show on the river.”

The festival’s team hit a major snag in the weeks leading up to it, when they were forced to pull the laser and water show because… Actually, I’m not sure. I can’t find any info online about it, but it might have something to do with the recent floods? Either way, the team soldiered on and remained devoted to putting on a killer festival (even if its title had become a lot more metaphorical than they’d initially planned) – the right move, I’d argue!

For myself, the biggest two selling points for Illuminate The River were Montaigne and Something For Kate. I missed out on both of the latter’s 2022 tours (they played The Forum four times in March, when they played both Echolalia and The Modern Medieval in full, and then the Northcote Theatre in August, when they played Elsewhere For 8 Minutes) because I’d been swept up in other events and bullshit deadlines, and I missed Montaigne on the Making It! tour last month because I’m a fucking idiot: I went to buy a ticket to their Melbourne show on Monday October 24th – four days before it was set to take place – only to realised I’d fucked the dates up when I put the show in my calendar; the show happened on the 20th. I’ve been absolutely rinsing Making It! since I got my copy in August (I reviewed it for NME) and wouldn’t hesitate to call it one of the best albums released in 2022 – and of late, Montaigne has been performing it in full. Keen was a massive fucking understatement

The day before Illuminate The River, Montaigne dropped off the bill for illness – a huge bummer, obviously, but not one without a notably shimmery silver lining: Sly Withers were stepping in to replace them. Their own third album, Overgrown, is also one of this year’s best, and on the Friday, I was set to see them play a headline show at the Northcote Theatre but got buckled in bed with a miniature depressive episode; so rather than force myself out and mentally drain myself further, I could just see the band play their full hourlong set at Illuminate The River. Again, a huge bummer on the Montaigne front, but a huge win everywhere else. 

I made it to the festival halfway through Mia Wray’s set, thanks in part to my own lack of planning (I couldn’t find a clean pair of pants lmao) and my Uber driver swearing erroneously that he knew a shortcut. I’m not calling this a downside, though: I still caught a very solid 30 minutes of Wray time, and she absolutely slayed. Her songs are emotive and melodic and slathered in colour, Wray herself always bang-on with her tonal and characteristic balance of gentleness and fervour. The skies were grey and the spittle grew as her set reached its end, but this felt more like a feature than a bug: Mia Wray in the (Mia W)rain. A collision of gloom and community. Poetic, given the Noosa-born singer-songwriter’s material.

With 30 minutes to kill, I took a lap of the setup – food trucks (including a Boost Juice and a Chatime!), stalls for markets and community initiatives, carnival rides, no less than three charity sausage sizzles, and plenty of dogs, young and old alike, just begging to be petted – all set along the idyllic Maribyrnong River. I copped four pairs of downright adorable earrings (handmade from polymer clay by the sweetest elderly woman) and a Caribbean Green juice from Boost (because it was the least calorific option, at 278 for a large) before strolling back to the main stage – a whole 40 metres away – for Sly Withers. The vibes, grey skies and spittle and all, were immaculate. 

The four pairs of hella cute clay earrings I bought. Shoutout to Pelican Crafts!

Expectedly, Sly Withers’ set was fucking magical. Their banter was on point (co-frontman Sam Blitvich started by apologising for not knowing any Montaigne songs, and a few times throughout the set, noted the band’s collective anxiety over missing their flight to Hobart layer that afternoon), their performance was as tight and sharp as the band have come to be known for, and the setlist itself was stacked from start to end with only their biggest and most belt-worthy bangers. They also played the rain away, quite literally: it was nigh-on pissing down when the set started, but but by the time it ended, we were all standing under baby blue skies with only wisps of cloud in sight – the power of pop-punk in action. Also noteworthy is Blitvich’s guitarsenal: old mate rolled through something like five Telecasters, each more beautiful than the last. 

And the juice, though chosen for its healthiness, was actually pretty great – just sweet enough to feel like a treat, with a nice ratio of tropical fruitiness (from the passionfruit, mango and banana), coconut-inferred silkiness (from the one-two punch of coconut milk and coconut water) and vegetal bite (from the spinach that, surprisingly, works in this application). Subtle and refreshing, it paired nicely with the band’s musical crunch and belly-strong energy. 

With another 30 minutes to kill, I perched myself under a tree on a hill leading down to the river, whipped out my Switch, turtle-shelled my arms and head into my shirt (for additional shade) and started beating the shit out of Golducks – Pokémon Scarlet came out on Friday, and in the pursuit of becoming the very best – like no-one ever was – the hustle never stops. Halfway through my Goldduck grinding sesh, this saccharine, pseudo-squealy toddler voice piped up from a few metres away: “is there a person in there!?” I popped my fat head up and two facepainted ragamuffins, no taller than two feet each – one a pretty pink butterfly and the other a glittery blue unicorn – giggled in unison. They were enamoured by Crocalor’s fiery breath on my Switch screen, and together we epically decimated two Goldducks – the girls feeding me instructions (“light him on fire!” and “do the spooky face!” being their main commands) and me executing them on the Switch – and taking on a Fidough in a Tera Raid Battle. They were very keen to tell me all about their own Fidough (a pug named Stevie) and show off the badges they’d drawn in crayons a few hours earlier.

The view I had to accompany my Pokémon sesh (when I wasn’t turtle-shelling it)

Hearing the hum of amplifier feedback cascading over the hill, I palmed the kids off to their parents and dashed back to the stage, where Something For Kate promptly launched into a punchy and hypnotic rendition of ‘Ain’t That A Kick In The Head’. Paul Dempsey’s vocal prowess was only matched in its butteriness and depth by his fretting hands, and on bass, Stephanie Ashworth (also Dempsey’s wife) brought a stunning richness to the mix. What followed was my favourite song from The Modern Medieval – ‘Come Back Before I Come Back To My Senses’ – and then a brief pause as one of the crew members darted out to whisper something in Dempsey’s ear. Seemingly flustered, Dempsey told the crowd he and the band would have to leave the stage (momentarily, or course) while the crew dealt with an electrical issue caused by the harsh winds. 

20 minutes passed without a glimpse of Something For Kate, and after some punters started shooting enquiries off to staffers on the ground, someone came out onstage to promise us the band would return and perform their full set. But at 5:30pm, 15 minutes after their set was supposed to finish, Dempsey sauntered out (cue: cheers) and informed us that, regretfully, the band wouldn’t be able to come back out because the winds posed a safety hazard. This feels like something the festival team should have planned for more in advance – it was windy, yeah, but it wasn’t windy (I’ve certainly been to windier outdoor festivals) – but I will not be one to question their moves: this was, at the end of the day, a decision made in the interest of punter safety, and for that I can only applaud them. Still: this fucking sucked.

Cut as I was, I’d told myself repeatedly in the mirror that morning that I wasn’t going to let my shitty mental health affect my enjoyment of the festival. The river trail looked beautiful, and the weather was perfect, so I went for a walk. It was something like four kilometres, shrubbery and bird songs and (obviously) a sprawling river to visually soundtrack the excursion. It was nice! I burned off the whole juice and then some! I came back to the festival grounds feeling refreshed and relaxed and ready for a big ol’ bop to Baker Boy… Until again, right at Baker Boy’s start time of 6:30pm, we were informed that the rest of the festival had been cancelled; the winds had only intensified (to reported gusts of 80km/h) and with most of the crowd now comprising families with young kids and pets, it wasn’t safe to roll on. Cue: crying children and dejected parents (and, fittingly, a return to grey skies and spittle). 

Try as we might to avoid it, the mood shifted well into dourness. It was a bit of a shit end to an otherwise solidly nice day – and again, at no fault of the promoters or staff or anyone else involved in Illuminate The River – and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bummed out. But I kept my stride going and took myself on a little tour of suburban Aberfeldie. It’s a quaint little area – I’m sure houses there cost like $10 million and the souls of your extended lineage, but they’re pretty, and at the end of the day, that’s all that matters. 

If nothing else, Illuminate The River was, for me, an exercise in forced positivity – a test to see how high up I could keep my chin in the face of repeated blows to my excitement and expectation. This is one test I’d never been great at passing; I am, at my core, a giant fucking Debbie Downer. But that’s something I’m actively trying to change, and this trainwreck of a Saturday gave me the perfect opportunity to make a cogent effort doing so. And I think this alone – that I have the perspective outlined above – shows I’ve succeeded. 

I still had a bloody great time at Illuminate The River: Mia Wray and Sly Withers both played phenomenal sets, and the two songs Something For Kate played were similarly stellar. I enjoyed every last sip of my juice – one I’d’ve never thought to order at an actual Boost – and I had a blast playing Pokémon with those future Champions-in-the-making. I love my new earrings, too, and that walk along the river was exactly what my stale soul needed that day. If given a chance to relive the day exactly as it was, I wouldn’t hesitate – I would certainly temper my expectations (and leave early enough to see Wray’s full set) but fuck, sure, I’d do it all again… 

I mean… It was free, anyway. 

I’m not dead (just a little burnt out)

A photo of my dog, Cadbury, a medium-sized Pitbull-Staffie cross, enjoying a little scratch on the chin during a road trip from Naarm to Warrang.

So, like… Hey.

It’s wild to me that my last post on this blog was last November – just shy of a year ago, and just shy of two weeks after I moved into my apartment with Milo. To be honest, for a good while, I did what every writer with full-time work and a regular adult schedule does eventually: I forgot I even had a blog. I think with everything else going on in my life, the idea of regularly setting time aside to maintain a curricular accessory that I didn’t need to just got squeezed out of my mind. Because as brutally short as it’s felt, 2022 has been a year. Since the last time I checked in here, I:

  • Got a new dog! He’s the big doofus you see above: a four-year-old staffie/pitty cross named Cadbury, who never fails to make me feel some type of way (whether that’s love or frustration or sheer bewilderment). He’s a big cuddly sook who loves to play and sleep and chew things, and he is not a replacement for Bruno in any way whatsoever, but he does kind of fill the Bruno-size hole I’ve had in my heart since I moved to Naarm. 
  • Changed my name! I’ve been going by Ellie to close friends since 2016, but earlier this year I bit the bullet and came out with it as the baseline thing. So yeah, my name is Ellie now – woo! I’m writing under the name Ellie Robinson, with Robinson being my mum’s maiden name. There’s a bunch of reasons for both parts, a bunch of reasons why I changed my name and a bunch of reasons why it took me six years to make it official, but this isn’t the right post to get into those. Maybe later.
  • Wrote a bunch! I’m working in the NME newsroom pretty much full-time at the moment, and writing features more regularly for them too. I’ve also shifted my role at Australian Guitar – I’m now the magazine’s editor-at-large, steering the ship on its local/in-house slate of editorial. It is technically a demotion, but… not really? It’s more money for less work and it’s a role I feel much more comfortable in; I have the freedom to write whatever I want, but I don’t have the burden of coordinating and producing an entire magazine around that. I’m super happy with the current setup.
  • Did a bunch of other stuff! I’ve made some huge strides in getting my shit together as an independent adult who is taking care of theirself and balancing their needs with their wants. I don’t know if I’m quite there yet. I think I have a long ways to go before I am the person I want to be (and the person I need to be), but I’ve been trying real damn hard and taking those scary first steps, and I’m hella proud of myself. I’ve also started collecting enamel pins, teaching myself how to play guitar (I know) and cooking a bunch.

I will admit that I’m pretty burnt out at the moment. I’m not sleeping as much as I need to be or spending as much time with Milo and Cadbury as I should be. But I’m figuring out how I can remedy that; I’m learning what my limits are and where I need to draw the line when it comes to a healthy work-life balance. I’m teaching myself that it’s okay to switch off when I need to, and that it’s not a sign of failure to admit defeat, but a sign of success to acknowledge when I’ve pushed myself too far and take a step back. I’m certainly not going to force myself to maintain a blog or a presence on social media, or really do anything that I don’t absolutely need or want to. 

I think that’s probably why most writers ditch their blogs when they hit their twenties or establish themselves with regular work and independence in their personal lives – at a certain point, a writer’s active blog no longer implies a passion for their craft, but a lack of success. Good writers don’t keep blogs because they don’t need to. They have nothing to prove or sell, they’re too busy writing “real” stories and doing “real” things. 

But that’s not true. No writer is “too good” or “too professional” to have a blog – whether that’s just for themselves, as some kind of pseudo-personal diary into which they can vomit their lingering thoughts, or as a loose portfolio-of-sorts for their professional output. I don’t give a shit if blogs stopped being trendy in 2013 – they’re cool. I have thoughts I want to express that wouldn’t fit – or make sense – to put in a feature. I have things to say that none of my editors would ever commission a story about; I have things to say that I want to say in the first person, goddammit! Sometimes I just want to ramble into the void and get shit out of my head without the pressure of needing it to read concisely or tell a straightforward narrative, or even make sense to anyone but myself. And I want to show off when I do write a cool feature for NME or Australian Guitar or whatever other publication takes an interest in my work.

Am I trying to justify, for myself, the viability of a blog? In a blog post? Violently embarrassing myself in the process? Absolutely. But that’s the great thing about having this blog to do that on: I don’t have to give a shit about that. 

So anyway, hi, my name is Ellie, I’m a 25-year-old music journalist / pop-culture writer and editor from Benkennie (Camden), currently based in Naarm (Melbourne). I write news and features for NME and lead the in-house editorial in Australian Guitar. My partner is named Milo and my dog is named Cadbury. I like road trips and music and dogs and pineapple doughnuts. I am perpetually tired and I don’t know why I’m writing any of this. 

Welcome to my blog? 

I guess?

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

The Great Ed Square Snack Crawl Of 2021

I’ve had a pretty shit week, so let’s kick this post off with a really nice, happy photo of Bruno. I took it during one of our last walks for the RSPCA Million Paws Walk last month – Milo and I were both absolutely ruined by that point, but Bruno was having the time of his life going out and sniffing up a storm every day. And that’s all that matters, really. He had fun going walkies, and we had fun watching him have fun.

But yeah – this week, man. My mental health just tanked at the start of it, and didn’t really recover – I still feel like shit, but I guess I’m trying to keep my chin up? Kind of? I said ‘fuck it’ and did some things I ~wanted to~ over the weekend, which was nice.

Friday night, Milo and I drove into the city to see Cxloe play at the Oxford Art Factory. We got dinner at BL Burgers (the micro offshoot of Sydney’s hands-down best burger joint, Bar Luca) and I tried the Queen Bee – their special of the week for this week – which had honey butter-dipped fried chicken and pickles on a milk bun (it also had coleslaw and sriracha mayo, but I’m not that hot on either so I kept it simple). The chicken was a little too spicy for my embarrassingly white tastebuds, but otherwise it was another smash hit from the brains at BL. 

We also got these super delicious, made-to-order mini pizzas from Detroit Sliced Pizza – I can’t remember what Milo got (except that it was some kind of vegetarian one), but I got the Roast Pumpkin slice that had a pesto aioli, pine nuts and feta. I was full as a butcher’s dog from the burg, so I had it for breakfast yesterday morning. Truly life-affirming.

There’s this one Indian street food place on Oxford Street that I always walk past and become immediately hypnotised by how good it smells. Well, okay, there are actually three on the same block, but it’s this one in particular – the north-most, with the red sign – that always looks the best. I finally gave in to the smell and tried a vegetable pakora. It cost – get this – a fucking dollar. One dollar. 100 cents. No shit, I found a fresh, hot snack in Sydney – on fucking Oxford Street, no less – for A DOLLAR. And it was delightful. Crunchy, savoury, filling, a tad spicy… Happy belly, happy baby.

Our last culinary stop on Oxford Street was a convenience store called 24/7 Baby, which drew us in with their TikTok famous F’Real shakes. I got a cookies ’n’ cream shake, and Milo got mint choc chip; mine was delicious (and surprisingly not too sweet or overbearing), and Milo’s was, uh, pretty fuckin’ bad. It looked like radioactive sludge, and tasted like peppermint essential oil. But they liked it, so all in all, it was a win-win sitch. 

On the way home, we got lokma from Loukoumades on Greek Street in Beverly Hills. I am always a slut for lokma (there’s this one place in Melbourne that we always order from because they do the most incredible, soft, warm and rich lokma) but these were total shite. Oily, chewy, bland… It only cost a little over $20 for two servings, so they weren’t too bad on the price side, but yeah, never again. Ah, well – we tried something new, and not every new thing you try will be a hit. You live and learn!

So Friday night (and Saturday morning, by proxy of those leftovers) was pretty food-oriented. Saturday was my only day off this week, so we decided to have a quiet one inside and just zen out – maybe fire up the PS5 (which has been gathering a mighty fine coat of dust in recent months) and chew through a bit of Ratchet & Clank. I somehow managed to throw my back out in the shower, so I was pretty keen to move around as little as physically possible…

…Then we decided we were unbearably bored at home, so we made plans to go out. We’ve been wanting to check out Ed Square for a hot minute – it opened in April and is now our most local shopping plaza, and there’s a bougie new Event cinema there with reclining seats as standard – so we figured it’d be nice to catch a movie and some dinner there. We were going to book tickets to catch a 6:20pm session of A Quiet Place Part II, but it was completely sold out by 1:00pm, so we opted for the 9:00pm screening. 

As for dinner, we had no idea what restaurants had opened up at Ed Square, so we hit the website – to which we found there were so many of our usual going-out go-tos. They had a BL Burgers. They had a Gami Chicken & Beer. They had a Sushi On Fire. There was an Indian restaurant and gin bar that looked phenomenal (Masala Kitchen), and a cute lil’ dumpling spot with a small, but super promising menu (Baby Bao). 

What are you to do when there are so many options, but make two punishingly indecisive people choose from them?

Well, why not go to all of them?

Thus the idea was born: The Great Ed Square Snack Crawl of 2021. Five hours, seven restaurants, one bubble tea spot and an endless supply of good vibes. My back fucking caned, and I was brutally exhausted from the past week, but I was determined. Not just to eat a whole bunch, either, but to spend a nice day out with my partner and enjoy actually living my life for a little bit.

The crawl started at 3:00pm with bubble tea from Chā Bar. I got a mango tea and Milo got a strawberry-lychee blended drink. The mango tea was really nice. It wasn’t overly sweet like a lot of bubble tea places tend to make them – in fact I think the only thing sweetening it was the fresh mango puree in it, unless the tea base was pre-sweetened. Milo’s drink stumped me a little bit – it was delicious on the sip, but the aftertaste was so blunt and chemical-y. I had to keep trying it every few minutes to decide whether I liked it or not… I don’t think I did?

We got dumplings from Belly Bao to go with our tea. I got xiao long bao (pork soup dumplings) and Milo got ‘emerald’ dumplings (mushroom and spinach, in the most adorable matcha-coloured pastry). I didn’t try Milo’s dumplings because I don’t like mushrooms, and Milo didn’t try mine because they don’t like pork – but we both really enjoyed our own orders, and mutually agreed that the chili oil we got on the side was bullshit good. Like, unfathomably good – maybe the best chili oil we’d ever tried? I don’t know, I don’t think either of us have tried enough types of chili oil to make a definitive judgement, but it was really, really good. 

We didn’t get the golden mantou (fried buns served with condensed milk), but they looked delicious. I’m definitely getting those next time – and there will definitely be a next time.

Stop #2 was BL Burgers. Technically the BL at Ed Square is one of their ‘Loaded by BL’ restaurants, but they don’t do the build-your-own-burger/hotdog thing that separates Loaded from a standard BL, so I’m refusing to call it an actual Loaded. Yes, we already had BL on Friday night, but we both got chicken burgers then, and BL does the single best beef burger in Sydney, so we pretty much had to stop in. We shared a classic BL Beef with the lettuce and tomato swapped for streaky bacon. I also got their house-made lemon, lime and bitters. 

The LLB was pretty weak, but the burger was one of the best I’d ever had from BL. The bun was pillowy and warm, the beef beautifully seasoned and cooked to medium, and the Dijon-forward sauce was creamy and savoury. Honestly, I don’t see how anybody could choose Mary’s or Milky Lane over BL when it comes to premium burgers in Sydney. BL have been the undefeated champions since the day they popped up, and their reign hasn’t been even slightly threatened.

We took a short walk around Ed Square to settle our stomachs, and there were two things I learned. Firstly, walking on a strained back doesn’t help the pain settle, it only exacerbates the pain. Secondly, Ed Square was massively overhyped – it’s relatively tiny, all things considered. But it’s cute and ticks all our boxes for what a good plaza should have, and it means we have an Event cinema ten minutes away from where we live.

Our next stop was Masala Kitchen, where I was extremely keen to try a gin cocktail… Before seeing how much they cost. So we shared a Tropical Punch mocktail, which had strawberries, lychee, pineapple syrup and fresh-pressed citrus. It tasted like a liquified assortment of Skittles, except notably fresh – $12 well spent. We got these pinwheel samosas that were perfectly seasoned and struck the perfect balance of crunchy and soft, and one of those bougie apple desserts that look like an actual granny smith apple. The latter was a little underwhelming, but a cute and cool little experience nonetheless.

We checked out the iPlay arcade next, but it was packed with screaming children and their apathetic parents, so we couldn’t muster more than 20 minutes or so. I used to be the best at skee ball, but tonight I fucking sucked. I’m blaming it on my back. I outright refuse to accept that I am no longer a certifiable skee ball champion. We also played a Wizard Of Oz slot machine, on which Milo kept scoring jackpots and winning cards worth crazy amounts of tickets; if I ever develop a gambling habit, I want them by my side.

The next stop on the food crawl was the one we considered our ‘main course’: Gami Chicken & Beer. We ordered the smallest amount of fried chicken possible – a half bird – with sweet chili sauce on the side. To drink, Milo got a passionfruit mocktail (that was shaken for them table-side) and a canned Korean grape juice that had actual whole grapes in it. I got a Thunder Road Gun:Bae lager (brewed specifically to pair with Gami’s fried chicken) and a canned Korean pear juice that had actual pear chunks in it. 

The beer was delicious and did pair really nicely with the chicken, but the pear juice was rank. Milo dug it though, so we swapped our juices. Yes, I realise how bad that reads out of context. I also (very impulsively) ordered a plate of hotteok, which was like deep-fried mochi filled with brown sugar paste and crushed nuts. The texture was a little off-putting, but it was otherwise wonderful.

The chicken was obviously the star of the show, though. On its own it was super flavoursome and super juicy, with the breading understated, yet impeccable. But with the sweet chili… Oh my GOD. It was super thick and super sweet, but also super savoury – a true culinary experience. I don’t think my dad likes fried chicken, but I feel like I have to take him to Gami anyway, if only for the beer and the chili – I’m sure there’s something else he could dip in it to take his tastebuds on that night-making rollercoaster ride.

We considered our next stop to be somewhat of an interlude. We got ice cream from Royal Copenhagen – I got banana, and Milo got vanilla choc chip. I’d say we’re usually pretty adventurous when it comes to ice cream flavours, but tonight we both just wanted something simple and sweet, which we’d know would be good. And it was. I do kinda wish I’d gotten a waffle – I have fond memories of my Nonna taking my sister and I to the Royal Copenhagen in Manly as a child, and the smell of fresh waffles was always the highlight of those trips – but my belly full of chicken, beef, pork and samosa said, “Don’t the fuck you dare.”

Besides, we had two more places to hit. First up was @Mex, which I didn’t realise was Halal until after I looked at the menu and thought to myself, “What kind of Mexican joint doesn’t have a pulled pork option!?” Milo and I both got the same base tacos, with beef carnitas in mine and grilled chicken in theirs. Both of them were so nice that I didn’t realise I hadn’t taken a photo until Milo only had half a taco left. The restaurant’s staff was a bit all over the place, but the food didn’t reflect that at all.

Lastly, Milo wanted a teriyaki chicken bento box from Sushi On Fire to take with them into the movie. I can’t stand sushi in any of its forms, so I sat this one out – plus, I still had leftover hotteok from Gami resting under my shoulder, so I was all good for movie munchies. We got a second round of bubble tea on our way to the cinema – Milo got another strawberry-lychee blended drink, and I got a watermelon blended drink. I didn’t rate it. It wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t anything I’d order again.

A Quiet Place Part II was pretty decent. It wasn’t anywhere near as good as the first, it had some pacing issues (which especially stood out for how short it is) and its plot was a bit thin, but for what it is, it’s a really enjoyable little slice of good-natured horror. And much like in its predecessor, Millicent Simmonds stole the show as Regan. I want to think there’s plenty of potential for a third film, but I also think Part II wraps the Abbott story up really nicely. I’m excited to see what comes of the spin-off that recently got announced, too. I think there’s potential in the Quiet Place franchise as something like Final Destination, where the focus lies on a new cast in every instalment.

The new Event is great, too. It’s a really small and cosy cinema, but it’s beautiful and ridiculously comfy. I can’t wait to see Black Widow there next month.

We got home at about 11:30pm, and I was out cold within 15 minutes. All in all, I had a great day out – mostly because I got to spend it with Milo, but also because I got to eat a lot of really nice food and see a movie I’d been dying to for the past two years.

If you made it to this point:

a) What the fuck is wrong with you?

b) Thank you!

c) I’m sorry this has been one giant, barely cohesive ramble. I didn’t proofread any of this before publishing it, and I’m certain it shows. I just wanted to pour my thoughts out somewhere before the memories faded from my slushy, rotting brain, and here seems like as good a place as any.