It's tough sometimes being a bureaucrat in this city. Between job cuts, efficiency dividends, and a scornful attitude which rises from the civilian population and descends from the federal government, any public servant could be forgiven for suffering from a bit of low self-esteem.
Which is why we will devote a little bit of this column to say thank you to all those bureaucrats who got caught up in the vision of – not to mention hard work of raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for – Canberra's Boundless all-abilities playground.
We visited for the first time last weekend – a month after its official launch – and the place was buzzing.
Because it is Canberra, I could not help but overhear a group of parents indulging in some bureaucrat-bashing of their own.
"Typical public servant design, this place is totally over-engineered," sneered one chap.
"Too many paths, and check out that fence, it must have cost a bomb. Too many toilets and not enough swings."
But as I turned to watch one mother with two children – a beautiful energetic little poppet who ran from one activity to the next, and a profoundly disabled son strapped into a large wheelchair – I came to the quick realisation there were a perfect amount of paths.
This mum and her son were able to amble around the playground, getting views and breezes and the occasional splatter of waters spray from the nearby water jets.
Clearly, so clearly, both kids were having a ball.
The fence is beautiful, a water rush design in green, which keeps the kids safely in and blends with the surrounding gums, not distracting for a second the sparkling shards of sunlight off the lake or the rainbow mists of the Captain Cook Memorial Jet.
And as my pre-schooler availed herself of the sparkling amenities block, it didn't strike me that two large and spotless toilets was too many at all.
There were also three swings, two conventional swings and a large supportive basket for anyone having trouble with posture or balance.
The kids seemed happy enough to wait their turn. And there was so much other activity to distract them. Yes the Boundless playground takes play to new heights indeed.
And as the toilet door closed and music piped in, the song almost brought a tear to my eye. "What the world needs now is love, sweet love…No not just for some but for everyone."
Well done to all of those unsung public servants involved. And thank you.
Nobody panic! Christmas is coming!
Dear god, he's here. Barely a week into November and Santa is descending into that mecca of materialism and marketing – Westfield.
There's no need to panic folks, but did you know that after today there are only six Saturdays until Christmas?
Santa will be making a preliminary sortie to both the Belconnen and Woden Westfields with each centre promising a range of activities to celebrate the start of the festive season.
These include Santa's official arrival parade and meet and greet, as well as plenty of activities for the kids including face painting, yoghurt decorating, live music and a jumping castle at Westfield Belconnen.
Before you get all cynical about the process being aimed at squeezing dollars out of hapless shoppers powerless to resist the lure of tinsel and prone to spending dollars they don't have on more stuff they don't need, money raised from activities throughout the day will be donated to the Cerebral Palsy Alliance as part of Westfield's GiveAbility initiative at both centres.
Meanwhile there is still plenty of time to organise gifts of a more sustainable nature.
Try Unicef for Christmas gifts to overseas communities in desperate need – with everything from polio vaccines to food, books, pencils, water kits, footballs and bicycles on offer.
Closer to home , Mission Australia is raising Christmas funds to provide everything from groceries for struggling families, to case managers for ongoing support. The Smith Family offers a range of kid-specific gifts at the click of a mouse for those children who may wake up to little or no Christmas cheer, while animal lovers might get a kick out of adopting a tiger through the World Wildlife Fund.
Real Trees delivered Real Fast
While we speak of things Christmas, the local and enterprising lads from the Christmas Tree Truck, caught our attention this week with the promise of a home delivered, real Christmas tree, which is installed on a stand and, the best bit, removed in January.
The four guys behind the idea are brothers Liam and Ben Zeller, John Pelli and Pat Newell, who met at St Eddies, completed their degrees at the University of Canberra and sideline in Christmas trees while holding down day jobs.
Set up last year, the Christmas Tree Truck delivered 300 pinus radiata, to local homes for between $119 and $189 – not including accessories.
This year they are hoping to double the number of orders.
You order online and they come with a tree, stand, and even Christmas lights if you so desire.
Select a package with removal and they'll come and take it all away in January, with trees being woodchipped and used for garden mulch.
Trees are farmed sustainably and sourced locally where possible and this year the boys are pledging to donate a tree to families doing it tough in their "Tree for a Tree Campaign".
One tree will be given away each day for the next fortnight to a worthy nominee – with one Mr Fluffy family receiving a tree this week after experiencing what can only be described as a harrowing year.
For those who love the smell and feel of an authentic pine tree without the hassle of transport nor the engineering challenge of keeping it upright in a bucket of water, this might be the place for you. christmastreetruck.com.au
8pm Saturday - Ron Moss
Star of successful TV series The Bold And The Beautiful and US band Player Ronn Moss is coming to The Auditorium, Erindale Vikings for An Evening With Ronn Moss. Featuring songs with band Player plus Moss will regale fans with stories and exclusive video footage from his 25-year career playing Ridge Forrester on The Bold and The Beautiful. Tickets $54.03-$58.11 from ticketek.com.au. Dinner and show packages also available. 18+
Canberra International Film Festival
Finishing up this weekend at Dendy Cinema is the Canberra International Film Festival, which showcases extraordinary films from around the globe. In addition to feature films and documentaries, enjoy Q&A sessions, and panel discussions with directors, producers, actors and the broad range of artists involved in the filmmaking process. For program and tickets visit ciff.com.au.
The Canberra Grammar School Sculpture Festival 2014, which runs until November 16, showcases the work of local and regional sculptors set against the backdrop of the school's historic grounds. The event forms part of celebrations to mark the school's 85th anniversary. Public open days held every Saturday and Sunday across the festival, giving visitors the opportunity to experience the historically significant grounds for themselves. Entry by gold coin donation to Boundless Canberra. For more information visit cgs.act.edu.au.
Canberra's annual community cycling festival Lifecycle raises funds to support the work of the Leukaemia Foundation in the ACT and South Eastern NSW. Participants can ride as individuals or as part of a team, and can choose the time within the event window in which to ride. From 9am October 8 – 3pm October 9. To register and for more information visit life-cycle.org.au.