The Notebook Makes Eating Chocolate Guilt Free.

In 1986 I delivered a Christmas baby. A round, brown baby that arrived like a freshly baked loaf of bread. Worst summer of my life, let me tell you. I continue to give her grief each and every December about the lack of bubbles in my life that year. I must confess that when the Doctor recommended an increase in my calcium intake I took to having a Tia Maria milkshake each and every day.

So my beautiful Capricorn daughter has a birthdate so close to Christmas that she never had a party with friends on the actual day – a situation which at 32 years of age she continues to hold against me.
( Never her father. Why is this so?)

Having a birthday so close to Christmas has created so many issues over the years. Most significantly it effected her relationships with Significant Others. Young men were always judged according to two criterias:

1. Does the young man in question buy separate Christmas and Birthday gifts ?

Several good looking prospects went by the wayside after gifting only one combined parcel to cover these two major Life events. It’s not that the daughter is materialistic. After all, she is the grand daughter of Depression raised folk (and a tight arsed mother).
“ Mo, it’s the principle”. Oddly, I kinda get that……..

2. Does the young man in question sit through the movie, The Notebook, with her, from beginning to end?

Well, that one definitely sorted the wheat from the chaff. Have you ever sat through The Notebook?

The Notebook was the first book written by Nicholas Sparkes in 1996 in a long list of easy-to-read romantic novels. It was adapted into a film in 2004, starring Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams as the younger version of a married couple of 50 odd years, in James Garner and Gena Rowlands, following their love story from before WW2 till the onset of old age. And as Bette Davis once said, “ old age ain’t no place for sissies”.

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I’m not a real good gauge of chick flicks, with a preference for sword fights and bows and arrows. Nothing like a good scalping to make a girl happy really. However, The Notebook is a great movie for when you are in the mood for a little weep – we all have those moments, don’t we? – or when the need arises to eat a box of chocolates without any remorse.

It’s a movie with visual impact, with McAdams, Gosling, and love triangle John Marsden all looking damn fine. Some of the scenery is breathtakingly simple yet beautiful, especially the scenes on the lake.

The movie is a huge improvement on the book because of the photography and complementing soundtrack, although having recently reread the book I found it more layered than I remembered, with more glimpses of humour. I’ve been listening to the soundtrack too this weekend. It’s kinda spooky when you can identify the scene from the music alone, isn’t it?

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My Capricorn found her Keeper in a military boyo with seven tours of duty under his belt. If he survived The Notebook he can survive anything.

Recommendation : Box of tissues with a block of Dark Chocolate.

Cork Trees, Russell Crowe and WW1.

I’ve spent the last few days catching up on newspapers and changing hair colour.

An item that piqued my interest featured artist, Beverley Teske, who is creating an installation out of bottle tops to be staged at the local museum.

Teske is collecting 61,555 bottle caps with each bottle cap representing an Australian soldier who died in World War 1. To date, Ms Teske said she had collected about one-third of the number of caps required and asked interested people to drop their caps at the museum before and during the installation.

The exhibition will also feature three large paintings, with one entitled Under Clear Blue Skies they Came to Die also representing  the 61,555 soldiers with hand drawn crosses. Another painting also has 130,845 crosses representing all soldiers who died at Gallipoli.

Teske is quoted as saying, “The original piece was inspired when I saw Russell Crow in The Water Diviner. It really moved me that all these people died. I wanted to do something to acknowledge that”. World History via Russell Crowe. Don’t you just love that!

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Can’t help with bottle tops, though I do have a few corks hanging around.

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On my recent travels I visited a Cork Tree which was brought from England in a jam tin in 1861.

Known as the Wishing Tree in English folklore, it is said that the trees are surrounded with a strange power to bring good luck to those who observe certain rituals dating back to the time of the Great Plague of London 1665. At that time, people came from all parts of the country to walk around the tree three times and as they walked, to make a wish. Some came for better health, some for better fortune and others for a wife or husband. It was said that few were disappointed.

Fortune Favours those who see
More in me than just a tree
Look at my cork
And three times walk
Before my girth for all to see

I had visions of re-enacting mystical Druid rituals underneath the moon light. Unfortunately, the shade of this magnificent tree is also home to numerous Shetland ponies, and they are not one to share their environment.063107F6-045A-40CC-A59E-B79872758D68

Six Degrees of Separation in Tenterfield.

Only 3 hours drive from Brisbane, Tenterfield in northern New South Wales, is located in a valley within the Great Dividing Range. It’s largely preserved architecture, natural attractions and rich farmland make it a worthwhile destination when needing to relax and recharge.

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Established in 1851 because of its position on the route between Sydney and Brisbane, politician Sir Henry Parkes, delivered a speech in Tenterfield in 1889 at the School of Arts Building which ultimately led to the Federation of Australia in 1901, and Parkes becoming known as the “Father of Federation”.

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On a visit to Tenterfield in early September to attend The Inaugural Peter Allen Festival I attended a performance of Allen’s music and story telling at this building. Preserved, yet modernised with a delightful Courtyard Cafe, entertainer Danny Elliot ensured that Peter Allen’s music stays alive.

Peter Allen was born in Tenterfield in 1944. A singer-songwriter, musician and entertainer, known for his flamboyant stage persona and lavish costumes, Allen’s songs were made popular by an array of recording artists including Olivia Newton-John, Melissa Manchester, and Christopher Cross (with the theme song from the movie, Arthur.)

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His Grandfather, George Woolnough, had been a long time Tenterfield resident and owner of the Tenterfield Saddlery on High Street for fifty two years. The front verandah became a meeting place where locals gathered to chat. Peter Allen perpetuated the memory of his grandfather in one of his best known songs “The Tenterfield Saddler”.

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The building was classified by the National Trust in 1972. The doors and woodwork are of red cedar and apart from the maintenance, the Saddlery is in its original condition.

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The first saddler in Tenterfield purchased this property in 1870 which was then sold and used as a bank four years later because the granite walls were over twenty inches thick. In 1895 it was sold for use as a private home, who then sold it on to the next saddler, before coming into Woolnough’s hands.

The solicitor who arranged these last three sales was Major J F Thomas who defended Harry (Breaker) Morant in South Africa during the Boer War. His part in this saga was depicted in the Australian movie, Breaker Morant, released in 1980 by actor, Jack Thompson.

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Thomas returned to his position as country solicitor after the conflict and authorised the first official publication of Tenterfield’s history.

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Just down the road, Harry Chauvel, the son of a grazier, was commissioned as an officer in the Upper Clarence Light Horse. He became a regular officer in 1896, and went to the United Kingdom as part of the Queensland contingent for the 1897 Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. In 1899 he commanded one of two companies of Queensland Mounted Infantry that were Queensland’s initial contribution to the Boer War.

After the war, he was closely involved with the training of the Australian Light Horse, which later led to his leadership during World War 1 in numerous conflicts, including at Beersheba in October 1917, where his light horse captured the town and its vital water supply.

The 1987 released movie, The Light Horsemen, told the story of the taking of Beersheba, with Aussie Bill Kerr playing Sir Gen. Henry Chauvel.

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Chauvel’s nephew Charles Chauvel became a well-known film director, whose films included Forty Thousand Horsemen (1940), about the Battle of Beersheba, filmed on the sand hills of Kurnell, Sydney, and one of my own weekend stomping grounds. ( said sandhills no longer exist. Thank Progress).

Another of Tenterfield’s favourite sons was Oliver Woodward.

Captain Oliver Holmes Woodward CMG, MC & Two Bars, was a metallurgist, mine manager and soldier noted for his tunnelling activities at the Ypres Salient during the First World War.

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Woodward kept diaries of these activities which were later moulded into a book by historian and writer, Will Davies, which in turn became 2010 Australian War film, Beneath Hill 60. Actor Brendan Cowell portrayed Woodward , and if you’ve never seen the movie, put it on your Must Do List.

On a personal note, much thanks to Tenterfield for the country hospitality and continuing history lessons. To my fellow City Slickers, remember that our rural towns need some help right now, and that a steak at the pub, a coffee at the Cafe, and the purchase of home made jams and chutneys, helps to keep our country towns alive. The local paper is guesstimating that tourists input $300,000 into Tenterfield over the weekend.

https://www.tenterfieldstar.com.au/story/5634119/inaugural-peter-allen-festival-officially-opens-in-bruxner-park/?cs=2865

Road Trips and Trivia

I love road trips, stopping wherever and whenever it suits. And I love that there is so much history that can be gained from the little country towns that dot the landscape.

Clunes, in the Northern Rivers district of New South Wales, and with a population of less than 600 had me with Uncle Peter’s Secondhand Bookshop. The lush vegetation was gorgeous too.

Tabulam, with a population of less than 500, is the birthplace of Lt General Sir Henry Chauval of the Australian Light Horse. Not only is there a monument to the Light Horse Brigade in this fly spec of a spot but last November being the 100th anniversary of the Charge of Beersheba, there was a re-enactment. ( yeah, makes the mind boggle, doesn’t it?)

The township of Drake, a bustling centre in the gold rush of the 1870’s and 80’s, has a population of less than 130. The foot never touched the brake pedal when the Lunatic Motel was spotted.

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We’ve yet to investigate Tenterfield, our destination, though a few big things already appeal to my sense of trivia :

Major J F Thomas was born in Tenterfield.

Who?

Major Thomas was the country solicitor who defended Harry “Breaker” Morant ( and Peter Handcock ) during the Boer War in South Africa. If you’ve seen the Aussie flick, Breaker Morant, think the character played by Jack Thompson.

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A B Paterson, Australian poet and war correspondent, married a Tenterfield lass in April 1903. St Stephens Church, a tiny, wooden structure revisits this event annually in an attempt to keep Banjo’s poetry alive.

There was movement at the station, for the word had passed around that the colt from Old Regret had got away
And had joined the wild bush horses, he was worth a thousand pounds, so all the cracks had gathered to the fray
All the tried and noted riders from the stations near and far had mustered at the homestead overnight
For the bushmen love hard riding where the wild bush horses are and the stock-horse snuffs the battle with delight

It was a cold winters night in the Hill Top Farmhouse last night, though good news : we may have broken their drought.

Cyclones and Peter Allen

A cyclone went through my house on the weekend. A cyclone with a penchant for singing Bing Crosby dolls. I’m still in recovery mode.

It seems that a respected and much loved football player of 16 years standing was retiring and the local Leagues club was putting on a special function for fans. Just another interest I shouldn’t have shared with the offspring, I guess.

Hand on heart, I swear it was not I who introduced her to the concept of having a punt on the horses. Not Guilty, Judge.

Still weary, I am now travelling south across the border to a sheep and cattle town with an interesting history. An Old Girls road trip with the promise of museums, galleries, lavender farms, wineries, and farmers markets. My friend informs me she has home made soup in the boot of the car. Sorry, sweetie: a country town means a meal at the pub with a steak half an inch thick and enough blood to soak the fresh bread, washed down with something red.

It will be close to 0 degrees in Tenterfield, but I have a loud shirt ready for the Peter Allen Concert.

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Enjoy your weekend peeps.

And daughter of mine, I know you snuck out with The Quiet Man DVD.

Spring Updates.

1. 4,000 Poppy Seeds failed to germinate. My plans for a display of colour in the front yard for Remembrance Day in November have been thwarted. I’ve bought myself a scarf instead.

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2. The Little Community Library continues to gather support. The local blokes seem to be into swapping fishing and camping mags – unless it’s just the wives doing a little Spring Cleaning?

3. I’ve read three of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher books in three days from the Library. Three is enough. Not putting my hand up for the movie/s. Tom Cruise ? Just so wrong….

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4. The Queensland Symphony Orchestra performed Music From The Movies locally. Highly recommended if you get a chance to see musicians at play. Music can be so very stirring.

5. Which reminds me……I was sprung, still in Phantom of the Opera mode, singing along happily to myself whilst awaiting my Smashed Avocado and coffee the other morning. The proprietor applauded my attempts at a rain dance. Talk about embarrassing.

6. My Bing Crosby loving daughter tells me that the recent theatrical production of Calamity Jane in the ACT was brilliant and that when you purchased tickets there was the option to select seats on stage at the bar. Be part of the performance. I so want to do this! I loved getting dressed in my Annie Oakley outfit when I was five. Please please please.

7. A new movie due for release next month. I’m feeling anxious.

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Apologies. In limbo land, in between being expected to contribute and achieve and not giving a rats. It’s an uncomfortable place, a strange place, an unfamiliar place.

Remember though – “Spring has sprung, the grass has riz”.

The Phantom of the Opera and my kitchen floor.

After gallivanting interstate last week it has been wonderful to lose this weekend confined indoors because of wet weather. Not enough rain to fill water tanks, but enough to wash the dust off the leaves and have blades of grass upstanding with little smiles on their faces.

So plenty of binge movie viewing with the Hunger Games series featuring one of those Hemsworth lads. I tell ya’ – those boys are just everywhere……..

To even out all this blood and viciousness there has also been a lot of music emanating from the She-Shack which I’m sure the neighbours have also been enjoying. It’s been a while since I got lost in one of my Phantom Of The Opera frenzies which culminated in lots of twirls, sliding and faux pirouettes across the tiled floor this morning. (If this imagery isn’t enough to frighten you, think of the elephants in tutus in Disney’s Fantasia.)

I’ve seen POTO live four times. The first time I flew to Sydney to see the show with my sister in law who had just separated from her husband, and only he showed up at the theatre with a new partner. Talk about more drama off stage than on.

Next time was a family outing when the daughters were little girls. New frocks and shoes all round. Big mistake; my kids took to the theatre like ducks to water and it became an expensive interest over the years. They also figured they needed a new outfit each and every time.

When I travelled to London to visit the daughter studying Law she shouted tickets to the West End production. POTO had been playing in this very same theatre for thirty odd years and can I tell you, the sets were magnificent. I think I lost focus because the underground canals were so very fascinating. Ice cream hawkers wandering through the theatre at Intermission also threw me and I didn’t get the value out of this performance that I should have. The set and Streets Drumsticks were just too mesmerising.

Back in Brisbane Australia’s own Anthony Warlow played the Phantom some years later. Now Warlow could really sing – a true entertainer. After seeing his performance as Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls I vowed to call any son Obadiah. (No boys, probably just as well.Can you imagine the school yard bullying!)

This production was brilliant, and will forever remain a wonderful memory. Warlow brought new energy to the Phantom. The lawyer daughter said,” Mo, I think he’s on speed” and the eldest one, the one who is all heart, left the theatre sobbing with “ Mo, he’s just misunderstood”.

Naturally, when the movie was released in 2004, starring Gerard Butler and Emmy Rossum, it just had to be another outing with the girls. I didn’t have to buy new outfits this time, though I was still up for lunch. The reviews were pretty harsh, especially about Butler and his singing prowess, though we all really enjoyed and I absolutely adored Butler as the Phantom.
1 ) His voice was raw, showing both emotion and vulnerability.
2 ) The unmasked side of the Phantom’s face was smokin’.
3 ) As above.

Now, that comment is not sexist. You need to know this to understand Andrew Lloyd Webber’s sequel, Love Never Dies. Set ten years after the Phantom escaped the fire in the French Opera House he now lives in Manhattan amongst the joy rides on Coney Island. Still writing music he continues to miss Christine and manoeuvres a concert for her to perform in Manhattan. She is accompanied by her husband, Raoul, and her young son, Gustave.

And guess what? Gustave is not really Raoul’s son. I wonder who is the real father? (Think smokin’ which makes Butler’s portrayal every bit conceivable.)

Off course we saw this live on stage back in 2012. It debuted in the UK but required a massive rewrite which was completed here in Oz. It was darker, more dramatic than POTO, and two out of three of us preferred it to the original. *putting hand up.

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A great DVD and sound track, filmed and produced in Oz, has been providing much pleasure and entertainment this weekend. I’m just extremely grateful that the neighbours can’t see in.

Wouldn’t you too glide across the floor with this?