Oh, ACT Department of Territory and Municipal Services, I know you think you’re just doing your job, but when your job consists pulling down a basketball ring that adds life and colour to one of the most drab shopping centres in Canberra, someone, somewhere has made a mistake.
Alex Piris, who runs Farrer cafe Fox & Bow, has created a playground in the alleyway that runs alongside the hip eatery, with funky graffiti murals on the wall opposite and a cricket bat, tennis rackets, basketballs and a basketball ring laid out so children and energetic grown-ups can play while they wait for their food to arrive.
We had never eaten at Fox & Bow before, and dropped in for a late lunch on Saturday. Spotting the laneway activities, we chose a table outside, and the basketball began. I loved seeing the kids and big kids running around in the colourful laneway, until I spotted the green sticker defacing the basketball ring. What did it say? Oh, only that the Government’s may confiscate the offending hoop and dispose of it as it was sitting so outrageously on public unleased land. When? As early as today. It may even be already gone.
Well, team TAMS (yes, we know your department has had a name change but as that’s how you’re listed on the big green sticker, we’ll stick with TAMS for now), we think this is a decision that is designed to make Canberra a dull and boring city indeed. If we were running your department, we’d have thought about this one a little more, and realised that innovative cafes taking the initiative to improve their environment and the health of their clientele should be encouraged.
Indeed, the ACT Government has devoted substantial resources to messages and programs in preventative health through sporting activity and in innovation in business, and here was a living, breathing example that had cost them nothing.
I pondered the reasons behind this decision and could think of none. Fox & Bow is open 7.30am-4pm Monday to Friday and 8am to 3.30pm on weekends, so it’s not as though it’s attracting a crowd of drunken louts late at night. Perhaps there are concerns around road safety? If so, perhaps the Government could work with the cafe operator to come up with a solution using some road barriers on weekends. Are the other retailers complaining? Why? Have they thought about how many extra customers come to their sleepy shopping centre now that Fox & Bow has enlivened the precinct?
As I seethed over my lunch, the children played on, bolting up and down the lane or exploring the dollshouse inside.
I was greatly cheered by the fact that the lunch was sensational. I will be back soon for another helping of My Sweet Little Pecan, a salad of honey roasted sweet potato, avocado, grilled haloumi, toasted pecans, BBQ corn, Lebanese cucumber and lime. I’m sure there was some puffed wheat in there too, and it was fabulous.
Fox & Bow is one of those cafes we used to have to travel to Sydney or Melbourne for, partly because of the food, partly because they served brunch till mid-afternoon instead of closing it off at 10.30, and partly because they get the fact that eating out is about more than the food.
Here’s hoping the Government will reconsider and allow the basketball to continue.
All photos taken at Fox & Bow by Charlotte Harper