Black Midnight Cake and…The ‘Push’ Present

When Alfie was newborn Carl gave me one of those thoughtful gifts that makes your heart melt.  Some people refer to these as ‘push presents’ because they’re usually presented to you just after the doctor has finished with that final bit of suturing.  Sometimes they come in Tiffany’s boxes and other times your husband might know of a gem trader and has scored a good deal on the gift so the gift is now attached to a great story that will be told whenever that ‘gem’ catches someone’s eye.

Black Midnight Cake

But my push-present wasn’t from Tiffany’s nor was it from a jewellery store nor did Carl have any any gem traders in his list of contacts.  My gift wasn’t something I could flash about on my fingers or wear on my wrist, and that’s because Carl had thoughtfully bought me a two-year gym membership which is of course exactly what you’re desiring while lying in bed with engorged boobs and a painful and swollen rear end.

I don’t know how he could have confused ‘gem’ with ‘gym’.

From the outset it was a disaster and not only because the gift wasn’t tangible.  The gym was above a shopping centre and you had to park your car in an underground car park.  But there was almost always no available parking.  By the time I would find a park I could have done three workouts.  The gym insisted that all children arrive in a stroller.  You weren’t allowed to carry them in so you’d have to go through the ordeal of lifting the stroller out of the boot, assembling it, strapping the child in etc and with all of that carry-on plus the time wasted finding a park, the day would be just about over.

The only way up to the gym was in a lift.  There were no stairs and no escalator.  The lift was tiny.  I think it could only fit about two and a half people.  Because I had a pram I would take up all the space so usually people would give me a sympathetic stare but just say, ‘Oh sorry, there’s no room’ and quickly push the ‘close door’ button.

Rich, dark chocolate cake

Once in the gym I’d have to pay for the childminding for Alfie.  They made this out to be an enormously big deal.  You couldn’t buy one session, their preferred option was to have you purchase a year’s annual pass for your child.  I told them I thought that was ridiculous as over the next 12 months I’d hope there would be occasions where I could leave him at home.  After a lot of unnecessary haranguing (by which time I could have toned my body into an enviable state), I was allowed to buy a book of 10 passes for Alfie but they stressed these were not refundable.  Whatever.

I then had to wheel Alfie through the gym and into the childcare room that was completely enclosed with no outdoor area.  It was smelly, noisy and full of crying children.  I signed Alfie in, left him strapped in his stroller, hoped someone would notice him then left to do my workout.

I hadn’t been working out for more than two minutes when over the loud speaker I heard, ‘Charlie Louie to childcare.  Charlie Louie to childcare.’  So I had to relinquish the machine I’d been waiting for and return to the horrible noisy room.  When I got there I reported in as required.  A young girl said to me casually and dismissively, ‘He’s got a pooey nappy.’  I replied, ‘I’ve got nappies, they’re in the bag.’  She said, ‘We don’t change nappies here, that’s against OH & S so you’ll have to do it.’  And off she went.

So I changed Alfie’s nappy and put him back in the stroller and hurried off to try and start my workout.

I hadn’t been working out for more than five minutes when a voice came over the loudspeaker, ‘Charlie Louie to childcare, Charlie Louie to childcare.’  I went back wondering what on earth they could want me for this time.  The girl said, ‘He won’t settle.’  And there was Alfie all red-faced and blotchy from crying, still strapped in his stroller.  I said, ‘Well I can’t take him out to the gym with me’.  And she said, ‘No you can’t, you’ll just have to go home and come back another day.’  And I said, ‘Well can I have a refund for today?’  And she said, ‘You would have been told when you bought a ten-pass that they’re not refundable.’

I went back the next day, put Alfie in the smelly room, started on the first machine then the fire alarm went off.  We all had to evacuate the building.

I just didn’t go back after that.

Carl would have been far better off seeking out gem traders than gym memberships.

Has anyone ever given you a gym membership?

It was Alfie’s birthday last week and I made him this chocolate cake.


Happy 7th Birthday Alfie

  • 2 1/4 cups plain flour
  • 1 2/3 cups castor sugar
  • 2/3 cup cocoa
  • 1 1/4 tsps baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 3/4 cup (130g) softened butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Pre-heat oven to 180C.

Place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and beat until well combined.  Pour into a prepared cake pan.

Place in oven and cook for 45 mins.

Leave in cake tin for 5 mins then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Decorate with your favourite icing.

This recipe is by Andrea McCullagh.

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  1. This is hilarious. And what a terrible gym! The child minding arrangement sounds horrendous…surely that can’t be typical? At least this chocolate cake looks good 🙂

  2. Yep, gems would have been a better call. It’s been quite a few years since I set foot in a gym. I was a bit of a regular when I was single, but not anymore. I’ve not received a membership as a gift, but I have been gifted an elliptical walker for a birthday. It’s the squeaky one I mentioned a few weeks ago.

  3. Thats such a FUNNY story and I ve never heard of a ‘push present’. I know Carl meant well but a gym membership really wasn’t the most appropriate gift ~

    I m glad you didn’t go back! That gym s so mean and rude!!!

  4. haha the story regarding the gym sounds a little hilarious somehow. by the way, the cake looks awesome! the kids must have enjoyed it really much..

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  5. That sounds like a ridiculous gym childcare system if ever I’\ve seen one.

    And if my husband ever hands me a gym membership after giving birth, he’s going to get a swift kick to a very sensitive area. Because that is the LAST thing I’ll be wanting.

    This cake looks fabulous! Chocolate heaven.

  6. Cruel Gym people,… for what did u pay them if they cant take care of the child. Arent they a child care center?

    My husband owns a gym, so that problem would never occure here.

    Alfies cake, looks perfect! He must have enjoyed it with all his heart and tummy. =)

  7. That is just awful … the gym, not the cake. The cake looks divine. I am sure that Carl has made up for this since.

  8. Happy Birthday to young handsome Alfie! All my best wishes and blessing and happiness with his family.

    Dear Charlie, this chocolate cake is amazing, is amazing… I loved its photographs and I can imagine how delicious should be…. By the way I wished someone to give a gift, like gym membership… or tennis! 🙂 or a bike! Maybe birds can tell my love!

    Thank you, with my love, nia

  9. I never liked the idea of those kind of child care situations. Just as I feared, they don’t really take care of the child. But wait a minute, your husband got you a gift when your child was born? At least he tried.

    The cake looks rich and delicious.

  10. hehe…a two-year gym membership (and you had to pay extra for the childminding)…that’s just hilarious.
    The chocolate cake looks wonderful! Happy belated Birthday, Alfie!

  11. I have a friend who, as her push present, received a wardrobe of Lulu Lemon outfits…wait for it…in her pre-baby, dating weight/size. She was not impressed. The cake looks great, Alfie’s a lucky boy.

  12. I am lucky I never had that kind of present… I go to a fantastic gym but I chose which one ha ha ha your husband probably meant well but next time I would just tell him what you actually want so that there’s no mistake!!!

    The cake looks amazing!!!

  13. My husband once gave me a Fat Flush cookbook for a present ( I wasn’t heavy nor did I need a diet). I almost threw it across the room before a touch of graciousness overcame me and I got over myself. I think a gym memberships is actually a lovely gift. It sounds like your husband’s heart was in the right place.

    Great looking cake. Great looking family.

  14. Could that gym have made it any more inconvenient for parents with children? I do give you credit for giving them a 2nd chance. Your cake, on the other hand, sounds delicious and the blueberries on top are a very nice, healthy touch, much better than sugar roses and the like.

  15. What a great story! Though, I would’ve preferred a Tiffany’s box and jewelry inside. =D

  16. Oh good gosh-what a disaster-at least your hubby tried to do something nice! On the other hand, that cake looks wonderful…and your little man is soooo handsome-Happy Birthday, Alfie!

  17. Magnolia Verandah says:

    Oh my goodness, how frustrating. Good intentions though, (I think?) Gems would definitely have been much better. Great cake!

  18. I love how you can just mix ask the ingredients all together in the one bowl, nice and easy!
    I think I’ve been to that gym, they must have a branch here in Canberra! At ours they didn’even have official childcarers though, you just earnt extra gym sessions by sitting in the same soulless, airless room as the poor miserable babies while the mothers desperately tried to run off their guilt on the treadmills. I didn’t go back either!

  19. This cake looks delicious!!

  20. Oh that gym sounds like a terrible experience! Really, everything about it sounds awful. I’ve never had an experience like that, but I’ve never had to deal with the gym daycare either – I’m sure that’s a whole other bag of worms. This cake, however, looks gorgeous and you have a beautiful family! Happy birthday to your son!

  21. The moral of the story is that gyms are not nice places. Having said that I have great memories of going to the childcare at the gym when I was little. Mum and a friend used to go to the gym together so it was like a play date for all the kids.

    Eating black magic cake sounds like a much better idea than going to that stupid gym!

  22. Loved the juxtaposition of the cake and all the talk about the gym! Makes you really test that will power. Great story and delicious looking recipe.

  23. Beautiful cake! Great story! I HATE gyms. Had to do the treadmill in the basement…which I can only take while watching BBC movies.

  24. The cake looks fabulous; the gym story horrendous. As far as presents go, you come out tops. Nothing like getting a bad one to know what a good one looks like. Lucky Carl.

  25. Hey Charlie. How lucky am I to sample some your latest chocolate creation! Absolutely fabulous (Gill here also says “this is the best yet” – and she’s picky) 🙂

  26. My hubz gave me diamond earrings for our first born. By the time our second son arrived we had a mortgage so no money for jewellery. I gave the diamonds to Chris’ fiancee the night before their wedding. She wore them on the day and they looked stunning on her. I have some ruby studs set aside for second son’s fiancee. Her birth stone.

    • hotlyspiced says:

      How kind you are to give your diamond earrings wish so much sentimental value to your future daughter-in-law and how lovely that she wore them to her wedding. And now you have a second son about to be married. I’m sure she will look stunning in her new ruby studs. And if you have a third son, I have a daughter! xx

  27. Sorry I meant to say Happy Birthday Alfie. Nice cake.

  28. Alfie is sooooooo lucky. I wish I had that chocolate cake right about now :). This reminds me of the cake I used to have on my birthday. This post has brought up wonderful memories. Thank you 🙂

  29. I think you have to name-drop so we can avoid this gym, lol. On a happier note, your cake looks so moist and delicious, it’s something Stephen would love so I’ll have to make it!

  30. I think we’re all going to have to go to a gym if we eat this cake. It looks delicious.

  31. Wow you went two more times than I would have! 😛 And I have brief hubby that he should never buy me a gym membership EVER. That’s the kind of thing one needs to buy themselves!

  32. I would never give you a gym membership today…. But you did say you wanted to go to the gym…. Thought I was being thoughtful..
    In 26 years I have got the perfect gift only once….. what is my problem?
    No need to answer girls.

  33. omg, that gym sounds so terrible! i dint know abt ‘push presents’ that sounds like a lovely idea… alfie is so so cute 🙂 belated bday wishes

  34. So this was called childcare??? I’m sure your husband had very good intentions.

  35. I find it hilarious that you pair a story about gyms with THIS cake! Omg Charlie – this looks amazing, and happy birthday to Alfie-dude for last week too! 🙂

  36. Dear Charlie Louie,

    What an ordeal you went through for a workout at the gym, not sure if I could do it though. Alfie is a lucky boy!

  37. Some times things are just so difficult. That gym sounds like anightmare, poor Carl, hope he has learnt to spell.

  38. Mean, mean gym people. That’s some childcare.

    Now if my hubby had given me a gym membership after giving birth…, hmmm, I would not have reacted as well as you did.

    The cake, BTW, looks scrumptious. Happy birthday to your dear, sweet boy!

  39. Ugh gyms. I joined one in Germany thinking it would make me fit. Wrong. It was the McDonalds of gyms (it was even called McFit). It was very busy and I felt in the way all the time. It was sooo boring too! I tried to cancel my contract when I moved back to Australia and the said I would need to show them my passport and a letter from the town council saying I was really moving (as opposed to lying to them). I organised the letter and they lost it in the mail. Had to send another one. Then they wanted more information ro something. Absolutely hopeless.

  40. See – there is a reason why I dont go to the gym and you have given me all the best reasons there ripe for the picking. Stuff the fact that my youngest is nearly 5….. exercise and gyms are dangerous things for the body and the soul. I’ll stick to getting my exercise by parking my car a bit further away from Dan Murphys. xx

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