Gayle Beveridge is a past winner of the Boroondara Literary Awards and her work has appeared in Award Winning Australian Writing. Gayle is passionate about family, writing, photography, and with Victoria’s beautiful Bass Coast which she now calls home.
Published August 7th 2021
Turn a walk into a family game
Here's a challenge you can do any time, even during a Melbourne COVID lockdown while you exercise close to home. It's the 'What's in My Street Challenge.' The object of the game is to find ten unusual things on your own street. They might be something in the yards around your neighbourhood, in the street, in the trees, on the roofs, or perhaps even an unusual bike or car.
Is your family competitive? Take a walk along your street but don't go alone; this can be an activity for the whole family. Note down your ten most unusual things, on a pad or your phone. Maybe even make it a competition. Who can find the most unusual things?
Add in 'I Spy With My Little Eye. If you really want to ramp it up with the kids, you could combine it with a game of 'I Spy with My Little Eye.' For those of you not familiar with 'I Spy with My Little Eye' it is a guessing game where one player chooses something they can see, perhaps a log, and they say 'I spy with my little eye something beginning with L.' The other players try to guess what it is; 'Is it a letterbox?' 'Is it a lawnmower?' and so on. The person who guesses correctly takes the next turn.
What might you look for? We move in and out of our streets every day, but do we really pay attention? You may be surprised when you set out to see, at what your neighbours do to brighten their houses and yards, at what birds visit your neighbourhood, at who has classic or unusual cars. Here are some hints from my street walks to get you thinking?
What's on the front verandah? In my street, a life-size rag doll sits on a chair on the front verandah. In front of a home I saw in Poowong, the residents clearly had a love of flowering plants and had put an old bicycle to use as part of their verandah floral display. What do your neighbours have on their front verandah?
Is that really a letterbox? Keep an eye on the letterboxes, too. Not everybody has the standard brick pier or Bunnings' metal letterbox. At a place near me, the letterbox is a replica of the house itself. Other folks get creative and their letterboxes are fashioned after animals, or robots, or weird creatures.
Who's in that Garden? Watch out for garden ornaments; even the traditional garden gnome has come a long way. Is there something colourful, something rusty, something concrete, something large or something small? Did you know garden gnomes have been around since the early 1600s in Europe and were brought to England by Sir Charles Isham in 1847, and that's when our current garden gnome tradition began!
What's that on the roof? Cast your eyes up, roofs can be the keepers of unusual things too. Is there a chimney in an interesting shape? Is that a weathervane spinning in the wind? Is that a gargoyle, like the on historic European churches? Oh dear, is someone's basketball stuck up there? Goodness me, is that grass growing in the roof gutters?
What's on that pole? Is there a classic lamp at their house, like the old gas lamps they had in London's streets as far back as the early 1800s? Is that a bird feeder up there? There's a nesting box; I wonder if there are birds in it? A basketball hoop, someone is having fun?
What kind of bird is that? Do you see an unusually colourful bird or hear a strange bird call? Perhaps the usual feathered visitors are sparrows, magpies and crows. But is that flash of colour a rainbow lorikeet? Is that iridescent blue a fairy-wren? Is that raucous call a wattlebird? Are there pink and white galahs digging holes in a nature strip? Is there a flock of corellas tearing leaves from the trees? Is that chatterer a noisy minor? Is that big white bird on the TV aerial an Australian Ibis, also affectionately referred to as a bin chicken.
Wow, look at that fence. Is a fence decorated a little differently? One of my favourites is an old fence where the pickets are painted in an array of vibrant colours. Are there ornaments on top of the fence posts? Does the fence have an unusual pattern? Has that fence been graffitied?
That's a strange plant–I wonder what it is? So many people dress their homes up with pretty flower gardens and amongst them there are bound to be some flowers you haven't seen before. Challenge yourself and your family: what do they remind you of? 'See those there, they look like wax candles.' 'Oh, that really does look like a kangaroo's paw?' 'Is that a bird of paradise plant; look at those colours!'
What will you find on your challenge? I'd love to know what you come up with, you can let me know in the comments below. Oh, and what's the most unusual thing I've come across on a street walk? It was a rusty old tray-truck with a skeleton wearing a pirate's hat at the wheel.