This Week In Books

Just for fun played this with family and friends over Messenger late one night when we were all suffering from insomnia. Name the book and the author. ( Courtesy of Australian Writers Centre Newsletter)

Have a go ( or as we Aussies say ‘avago).

  1. TCP by AW (1982)
  2. DC by CD (1850)
  3. TCITR by JDS (1951)
  4. JE by CB (1848)
  5. HPATPS by JKR (1997)
  6. AK by LT (1878)
  7. APTI by EMF (1924)
  8. BSU by TD (2018)
  9. DQ by MdC (1615)
  10. U by JJ (1922)
  11. THG by SC (2008)

The local Rotary Cub Redlands Sunrise ( because they hold breakfast meetings as opposed to dinner) held a Bookfest over the weekend to raise funds for local, national, and international projects.

I came away with two Mystery Boxes for $2 a box which will keep the Little Community Library going for quite some time. Only issue was that it required a major rearrangement of the She-Shack. A five hour task. You see, books in boxes in garages during a Qld summer tend to attract cockroaches. Have I told you that Qld cockies are amongst the biggest in the world?

And this is the Little Library spotted in the main street of Kalbar where all the Hay Bale Sculptures were located over the weekend.


  1. TCP by AW (1982) The Colour Purple by Alice Walker
  2. DC by CD (1850) David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
  3. TCITR by JDS (1951) The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
  4. JE by CB (1848) Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  5. HPATPS by JKR (1997) Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling
  6. AK by LT (1878) Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  7. APTI by EMF (1924) A Passage to India by EM Forster
  8. BSU by TD (2018) Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton
  9. DQ by MdC (1615) Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
  10. U by JJ (1922) Ulysses by James Joyce
  11. THG by SC (2008) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Happy Weekend, Peeps!

Hay Bales At Kalbar, S E Qld

Another glorious Spring weekend made it perfect for a day trip out to a rural community.

Where did we go?

Kalbar, in the Scenic Rim, about an hour and a half drive south west of Brisbane and located in the Fassifern Valley, which is an area with high yields of pumpkin and carrots.

Kalbar Country Day has been an annual event since 1991 with its most prominent feature being Hay Bale Sculptures around the township with families and community organisations competing for the title of Best Hay Bale voted upon by the public. Last years event was cancelled as the drought meant that hay was in short supply and far too expensive.

So the city slickers flocked to Kalbar, population of around 1000, to support their country cousins, and to follow the trail of 81 colourful Hay Bales.

There was a Bush Poets Breakfast, carrot tossing competition, vintage car display and the main street was closed for market stalls which were offering mostly produce from the SEQ corner. Of course I came away with a pumpkin or two!

A lot of the old Queenslanders  (homesteads) are undergoing renovation and it seemed to me to be a popular destination for those chasing a Tree Change. Good luck to them………


How can you tell when you’re in a country town?

The Window Displays feature straw hats and whips.

Around The World Reading Challenge : Turkey

Last Letter From InstanbulLucy Foley

You will guess my age group when I confess that as a child at school learning about places on the Map of the World there was no Instanbul in Turkey, just Constantinople. There was also a Burma, Persia, Ceylon and Calcutta. Closer to home many towns are changing their names on the basis of their heritage such as Gove which we now know as Nhulunbuy and Ayres Rock known as Uluru. Some other towns are looking down the barrell of a name change because of “Cancel Culture”. I tell you, it can get mighty confusing……….

Last Letter from Instanbul is set in Constantinople as it was known in 1921, three years after the occupation by allied forces following World War 1.

The story is told in chapters by five different characters with differing perspectives and roles ( and which can add to the confusion) :

  • Nur, a young woman who is the sole provider for two elderly female relatives who were all turfed out of their beautiful home to make way for a hospital for the British Army
  • A young, orphaned Armenian boy rescued by Nur whom she also takes home
  • George, an Army Doctor from Scotland
  • A Prisoner taken during the war 
  • A Traveller crossing through European countries

When the young boy falls seriously ill Nur has no choice but to take the lad to the British Army Hospital where she forms an unlikely attachment to George. We see the lines between enemy and friend grow fainter.

The positives about this novel are the wonderful descriptions of the city, from the heat of the day, to the gardens, to the architecture, and the smell of spices in the markets and in the meals that are prepared, which all make you want to learn more about Turkey. The author also tackles the changes within the city since wars end : younger women not wearing face veils and their changing roles in the workforce and the resentment amongst the young men who have been disillusioned by war.

Through the activities of all characters we are shown that it’s not as simple as ‘2 sides’ in a war, or that one can accept ‘facts’ at face value. 

The negative is that sometimes it is difficult to “join the dots”. It’s not until the end of the book that it all comes together.

Deemed a Romance, I thought it more a love letter to Turkey than something special between characters. That romance was a fizzer in my book. But hey, I’m a Ceylon and Persia girl – what would I know……

About The Author

Lucy Foley , born in 1986, studied English literature at Durham University and University College London and worked for several years as a fiction editor in the publishing industry. She is the author of The Book of Lost and Found and The Invitation . She lives in London and is mad keen on travel.

“All Our Shimmering Skies” by Trent Dalton : Book Review

Australian journalist, Trent Dalton, hit gold with his debut novel Boy Swallows Universe. Critics promptly declared the quirky novel about growing up in the suburbs of Brisbane the “ latest Australian classic”.

Big call, and although I enjoyed the read, I only connected with it after hearing that many aspects of this coming of age tale mirrored Dalton’s own life. The author did have a renowned Queensland criminal as a babysitter and his mother most certainly had an unconventional life. 

I gained an appreciation for BSU after listening to Dalton at my local Library. He was open, funny-as and a delightful raconteur, chatting to the audience as if he was simply sharing stories over cold beer at a backyard barbie. 

I’ve just finished Dalton’s follow up novel, “All Our Shimmering Skies”. 

Molly Hook is a gravedigger’s daughter whose only friend is the shovel she uses in the Darwin cemetery. Life is harsh with her alcoholic father and uncle after her mother’s death. She survives the 1942 bombing by Japanese war planes though believes her family is cursed which goes back to previous generations who were gold prospectors. Molly undertakes a long and dangerous journey deep into untamed country to find Longcoat Bob, an Aboriginal Medicine Man. With her is Greta Maze escaping an abusive relationship with Molly’s uncle, who is following them menacingly. As they travel they are joined by Yukio, a Japanese pilot, who has parachuted from his crashing plane.

There’s only people, Molly. There are good ones and there are bad ones and then there’s all of us nuts stuck in the middle.“

I loved this book and think it absolutely smashes BSU. It is storytelling full of whimsey and magic and includes the Dreamtime, history, intrigue, and maybe a few tears. I was even reminded in part of old cowboy movies. Bizarre, right ? This tale too is quirky and the critics might deem some parts “unbelievable”. Who cares?

I’m not one to “judge a book by its cover”. Indeed, with my penchant for preloved books many that I read are devoid of a cover, or in the very least are so damaged that they have their own story to tell. Shimmering Skies with its cover full of colour is just like Trent Dalton’s storytelling. 

Loved it !

Spring, Bruschetta and Toowoomba’s Carnival of Flowers.

Spring in Queensland is delightful and I am suffering from an over supply of tomatoes and basil from the garden. Obvious solution : Bruschetta in front  a  Sunday afternoon movie. ( Shenandoah with Jimmy Stewart for those interested. An old favourite and the tune is hauntingly beautiful).

Spring also marks the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers, an annual event  for over seventy years that ensures thousands of tourists visit for the magnificent displays of colour, the heritage, culture, food and country hospitality. 

Toowoomba, 2 hours drive west of Brisbane, is Queensland’s biggest inland town, and at 700 metres above sea level has a kinder climate than our capital. The floral displays may not have been as diverse this year because of Covid 19 though the parklands full of garden beds were every bit as beautiful.

Looking out east from the top of the range to Brisbane and the coast
Poet, Dorothea Mackellar got it so right!

There are simply too many places of interest to visit in Toowoomba to mention in one post so I will tackle them in future posts. The Cobb and Co Museum is Number 1 to add to the Must Do List: it takes you back to the times of  horse-drawn carriages and steam trains with its interactive displays and heritage trade workshops in silversmithing, millinery, whip plaiting and blacksmithing. A great place for the Little People to become immersed and the fresh scones are only as country folk can prepare them. ( Question : Why is this ?????)

Bitterly disappointed to discover the Milne Bay Military Museum permanently closed as it requires a new location. When I last visited I was bogged down in school projects and laundry and was clueless about the Kokoda Track. Shame! Shame! Shame! Might be time for a few letters from a garrulous retiree or two….

So good to see you again, Spring….

This Week In Books

Firstly, my fave : A beautiful friend from the other side of the country sent me through the post a May Gibbs Gumnut Babies cardboard book, Goodnight Gumnuts to share with Harrison Miles ( born on October 7th) when he visits his Meemaw. You are one of the world’s sweethearts, Tenielle.

Peter Corris, Australian crime writer’s Lugarno. My home town and birth place of both daughters. Ok, not one of Corris’ best efforts and just 103 pages in length. Only one decent description of the suburb I felt with “ it was elevated and leafy, without any through traffic. Nice place if you had a good car and a swimming pool and didn’t mind being that far from the CBD. It looked like everyone living there would be much the same – comfortable and conservative -but I knew that wasn’t true ; there’d be secret drinkers and crossdressers and One Nation voters”.      

Cecila Ahern’s sequel to PS I Love You. Hated the original – loved the movie. Gerard Butler, Harry Connick Jnr and Jeffrey Dean Morgan – what’s not to love? Enjoyed this novel about adjusting to loss but not sure if it was because of the author’s story telling ability or more that my thoughts kept returning to the previously mentioned boyos. Probably the latter……

Had wanted to read Where The Crawdads Sing for months if only to learn more about crawdads. Imagined them to be like a yabbie. Bzzzzzzz. Wrong. I enjoyed this novel  though the American colloquialisms, especially about food, had me baffled. A good read.

Another good week for the Little Community Library with one of the local mummas painting and hiding rocks around the park for the Little People.

And great news! Further easing of COVID restrictions mean that Author Talks at my local library are recommencing. These are fantastic opportunities to learn what motivates writers and what makes them tick. Haven’t been disappointed yet.

Yee Haa!

Love Your Bookshop Day

Saturday, October 3rd, was Love Your Bookshop Day in Australia.

Covid has presented the perfect opportunity to support bookshops online especially with the advent of free delivery ( if over a certain amount is spent). This has allowed me to purchase books from areas that were affected adversely from bushfires on the south coast of NSW as well as local independent businesses nearby that, in an attempt to remain relevant over recent years, have had to diversify their book sales with a Cafe, book launches, children’s storytelling and craft and book club afternoons.*

I recently treated myself to more books from The Book Grocer, an Australian owned family business with a strong on-line presence. Covid tweaked their creativity and they have designated Bargain Boxes of Books of different genres which can be ordered on-line and delivered to your front door within a few days.

I ordered the Romance Bargain Box – hey, don’t judge me – consisting of 22 books for the price of $100.00 including delivery. Honestly, two or three books may not be my “cup of tea” and these have been gifted to an elderly friend to enjoy. An Aussie Chook Lit novel has been put aside as a Christmas gift for my daughter and the rest I look forward to devouring. 22 books – bargain!

And you know what ? It felt sooo good getting a delivery to my home. ( You can tell my purse is closed tighter than a cats bum, can’t you?)

There’s a new bookstore opening next week in a neighbouring suburb which I’m keen to explore : Gigglefit Grammar. They stock preloved books, vinyl records and DVDs and specialise in packages where books are matched with the movie and with the sound track. Friends, this could be dangerous…..

And I’m thinking the History Bargain Box might be interesting too if only to ward off Dementia.

Folks, Love Your Bookshop……….

Thank you for keeping me sane over recent months:
*The Harbour Bookshop in Ulladulla, NSW
*The Mad Hatters in Manly, Qld
*Little Gnome in Wynnum, Qld

Harrisville and Conniptions

It has been my experience that those little country towns that are nothing more than a small dot on the map are often the most interesting.

Harrisville is a quaint country town only an hours drive west of Brisbane making it on the outskirts of Ipswich. Never heard of it, had you? It was named after the Harris brothers, John (1819–1895) and George (1831–1891), who established a store and cotton ginnery in the area at the time when the American Civil War had created a worldwide shortage of cotton.

There are numerous Heritage sites within Harrisville including:

13 Church Street: Courthouse and Police Lock-up
5 Hall Street: School of Arts
16 Hall Street: Masonic Hall
34 Queen Street: Commercial Hotel
35 Queen Street: Former Royal Bank
43–47 Queen Street: Memorial Park
54–58 Queen Street: Sacred Heart Catholic Church
1–5 Wholey Drive: Royal Hotel

Harrisville is flat which makes it ideal for exploration by walking. Allow a couple of hours to investigate as there are places for refreshments and retail outlets, including an Art Gallery and Lead Light Workshops, that will pique your interest.

So what was it in rural Harrisville that saw me have conniptions at high noon in the main street?

C’mon. I have refrained from mentioning the love of my life, Errol Flynn, for months. Is it any wonder that a girl suffered a major nervy turn, requiring far more than a G&T, when I found this?

Those small dots on maps – love them!

This Week In Books

September 27 – October 3, 2020, is Banned Books Week, an annual awareness campaign promoted by the American Library Association and Amnesty International, that celebrates the freedom to read, draws attention to banned and challenged books, and highlights persecuted individuals.

I particularly enjoyed reading about Goodwin’s childhood during the Depression which catapulted him to the other side of the world as a young man to fly in the skies over Germany.

Based on the true story of Grace Darling, and featuring the flavour of the month Mary Anning, I consumed this in a single sitting. An easy and enjoyable read that made me want to go to the beach to collect shells.

Donations for the Little Community Library. I bags the Willie Nelson!

A Vent. Sorry…………

I downsized prior to my retirement from a 1300 sq metre property with a pool to something less than half that size with less maintenance yet enough room to enjoy a garden. It’s a lovely position which affords me my independence and backs onto a nature reserve with far less work and expense. Isn’t that what retirement is all about?

With COVID my neighbours have been working from home even though in Queensland our borders are now slowly reopening and our infection rate is low. ( 6 deaths. Too many but ?) Half their luck.

Earlier this week the neighbour baled me up whilst in the back garden. When I say baled me up, I couldn’t see him behind the fence because we’re both short but I could most certainly hear him screaming at me.

For the second time of late I was reminded that they are “both gainfully employed whilst I am retired” with the inference that I sit around on my backside and watch The Bold And The Beautiful all day long.

I received a five minute scolding about :
⁃ talking to the wildlife
⁃ just talking in general
⁃ making funny noises whilst working ( sorry, carrying 30 kilos isn’t as easy as it used to be and there may be the odd groan)
⁃ and saying good morning to the garden each day really pisses him off apparently.

Meet Skippy and Swampy

The conversation ended with a “you’ve been warned”. In capital letters.

Firstly, I am retired, not dead.

The reason I retired young was because I worked hard for forty years and lived simply. I earned it in sweat, blood and tears.

I am busy most days which requires no further detail. Let’s just say that I believe retired folk are undervalued. Without their contributions many organisations would not exist, so lets start reframing the language and calling it what it is : pro bono work.

I would spend only an hour a day in the garden, perhaps double that when I mow the lawn.

My noise output is minimal. There is no motorbike in my garage nor do I have teenagers coming in and out at all times of the day and night. No pool, dogs, nor kids. I don’t even have a leaf blower. Old school, I use a broom.

I do have a courtyard that I look forward to using for entertainment purposes during Spring and Summer. Does this mean I should not be entertaining friends during the week, but only on weekends when the neighbours aren’t working? I’m not sure how to navigate these new living arrangements……….

Moving pot plants around is hard yakka

What really irked me was :

  1. You gonna bitch don’t do it hiding behind a fence. Wuss.
  2. Employment status doesn’t make you a better person than the next.
  3. Don’t even start me on Agism
  4. The old bod has worked hard in its day. I can’t physically do what I used to do thirty years ago but I give it a try. This is not Russia. You just can’t shoot me.
  5. My property. My house. Not ladylike but **** Off.

My apologies for the vent.

Tomorrow I will wake up feeling much better and say good morning to the garden as usual. Pity I recently sold the daughter’s drum kit………..