Almanac Life: Iso Saturdays sans footy – Bubbles, Puddles, Bears and Lions



I occasionally wondered what the cooler months would be like in Melbourne without footy. I didn’t think it would be about baking soda, scooters and teddy bears in windows.


We’re lucky that during this fragile time that our only disruption to work, aside from my ‘desk’ now taking the form of a trestle table in the bedroom, has been the shifting of my wife Joh’s (external) work hours to two evenings and a full day Saturday. With our oldest, Rory, in kindergarten we don’t have formal homeschooling to administer during the week, but we do have days to fill. Our kids are lucky to have a patient mum who can see the funny side to a single bite of an apple (across multiple apples) while still coordinating various bouts of painting, arts and crafts and reading sessions that take up a day. I’m also enjoying the blending of work and home, with my hour commute now replaced by a push of the door, which enables me to crack into ‘home work’ straight away (although I may not push the door so forcefully some days).


Indeed, the school of life dishes out lessons aplenty when two adults and two toddlers spend the better part of eight weeks with each other. Like all of us, lockdown has caused our family to dig deep, be that to the back of the puzzles cupboard for one that hasn’t been completed double-digit times, or deep within the puzzle cupboards of our souls at around dawn on a Sunday.


When I was playing local footy, I pictured my autumn and winter Saturdays in ‘retirement’ as a never-ending cascade of carefree spectating Saturdays, be that watching the Dons, or, just as likely, watching my old clubs or any other local game I could deliberately stumble upon. Although clearly fanciful, and a pointer to how often I thought about the future properly, I still get to plenty of games and so does Joh, a Brisbane nee Fitzroy fan. I hope it’s not a symptom of our almost eight years of marriage that she once gushed about Lynchy and Blacky but now seems very enamored with Lions coach Chris Fagan.


But with my bride out earning our keep on Saturdays for now, it’s a 100% dad day in our house, with nary a swing, play centre or skate park to be considered. While we live in a burrough with many playgrounds, we’ve had to think laterally, so the kids can now reel off the best puddles in the area, with extra points seemingly given for the ones that cake their scooters in mud. The proliferation of rainbows, stuffed toys and hopscotch that they zoom past is heart-warming too, though the Richmond teddies still seem a bit smug. [Really smug – Ed]


Alas, a toddler can’t scoot all day (unless you could find a scooter that was powered by questions) so indoor activities are still required. I now find myself roaming the near-empty aisles of Coles on a Friday night, looking for baking soda, vegetable oil and food colouring for the next day’s ‘experiments’ with the same intensity that Walter White would scour Albuquerque for pseudoephedrine. I could still be more thorough in my execution mind you, as last weekend we embarked on a mission to make lava lamps, all while our daughter Phoebe, aged two, was in her favourite, and finest, dress (a genuine oversight by both of us and we addressed that during the week). Luckily, like a star player fronting the tribunal on a minor offence in grand final week, it emerged unscathed.


The beauty of these experiments is the colour and wow factor, with the kids oblivious to the mess created or avoided in the first place through skillful paper towel placement. Baking soda essentially plays the role of Joe Daniher – providing the kids with a fleeting explosion of captivating froth and bubble, before being placed back on the top shelf and well out of reach for far too long.


What’s missing through all of this is the occasional switching on of the radio (TV = can of worms when you’re 1v2 during the day) or the glance at the phone to check the score or your tips. In most matches you can find a ‘hook’ of some sort, whether it’s to check in on a team of a friend or to hear how this result could impact your finals chances (rarely a consideration for Dons fans the last decade or two). Occasionally you even get some unexpected delights, like the ‘where were you when’ Saturday when the Blues were goalless and down by 70 at the Docklands v Freo. No baking soda required there.


So while our Iso-Saturdays have been a wondrous display of ingenuity borne out of a lack of options, we’re looking forward to our normal routine of swimming lessons, playgrounds and footy. Of course, with a full household fixture on its way (hopefully) we’ll need a full team and, importantly, to have the senior leaders in alignment. I’m confident that we will and that our next family outing will generate the same sort of spark that ‘Fages’ delivers in his press conferences (and seemingly in everything else he does).


In the meantime, I’ll get out the food colouring. And maybe even some smocks this time.



Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.


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About Andrew Else

Andrew has self-reported to this site as a lifetime Essendon supporter. He also played local footy for Lara and Melbourne Uni Blacks.


  1. Rulebook says

    Well done,Andrew I admit well past re kids in that age bracket,geez I admit missing the social interaction of sport

  2. Luke Reynolds says

    Half eaten apples have been a “feature” of our isolation. It’s been weird and tough at times, but I’m sure we will look back on this as memorable time spent with our families.

    You only forget the smocks once!

  3. roger lowrey says

    Yeah what is it about half eaten apples? We had a lot of those here too when ours were younger.

    Did Adam discover he really wasn’t that interested after all perhaps?

    I am sure there is some highly improbable post graduate text on this out there somewhere.


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