Monopoly at the Beach Shack

No book shelf in this little beach shack we’ve been renting, but does that really matter when you only have to walk 100 metres to wet the fishing line? Besides, the fresh fish for tea every night I’ve really delighted in sitting on the porch with a pot of tea and watching all the other poor souls travel to work each day. Sad, but that does give me so much pleasure.

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The shack does have a supply of local community magazines which I’ve just loved. From these you learn the whereabouts of the cheapest Sunday Roast, the location of the closest Garden Centre, and whereabouts the local markets are held. They are a fund of information.

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I’ve just read a fascinating article written by a gentleman by the name of Neil Wilson about the board game, Monopoly. Hands up who hasn’t played Monopoly?

Initially mass marketed in America in 1934, Monopoly actually played a role in World War 2 assisting those who involuntarily became guests of the Third Reich.

As a way of providing information to the allied prisoners who were constantly looking for a means of escape, maps that included safe locations were manipulated onto the Monopoly board game. This is because one of the conditions of the Geneva Convention stated that games were acceptable in “Care” packages distributed by the Red Cross for POWs.

Small red dots were placed on the corner of the “Free Parking” square on numerous game boards relaying important information to aid UK and American prisoners before they set off.

Did you know this?

In my family, Monopoly was always one way to start a war, not help finish one.

There is also a local Book Exchange in the Village. Look what I found…..

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Bliss

 

Holidays……Let The Fun Begin.

I’ve always excelled at holidays. It’s what I do best. Long breaks, short beach trips, overseas ventures, holidays driving around country towns, some closer to home. When my children were young I was fortunate to work in a corporate world which enabled me to Salary Sacrifice, allowing the purchase of an additional four weeks leave each year, on top of the regulation four weeks.

Even if holidays meant staying at home for the duration I loved this time with the girls. We rode our bikes, went for picnics in local reserves, cooked cakes together, watched movies, and read books. Of course, when we did go away we had fantastic trips. Bad move on my part, teaching them how to experience the best of travel and love the theatre, as both can be expensive hobbies.

Daughter Number 1 wants to visit Malta, for which we can blame, fairly and squarely, Justin Sheedy’s war fiction trilogy. The youngest, the Bibliophile, has a political bent and wants to visit America at the time of the next election. ( those wretched West Wing DVDs!). I’ve told both I’m coming with them, as long as we can visit Jellystone Park.

(Question : How many dinkydi Aussies have the Barrack Obama Coffee Table Book on permanent display in their residence?)

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I never needed any training for holidays. I’ve found it a natural, God-given talent to be so good at making the most of the time not working so damn pleasurable.

Even now, an Empty Nester, I am enjoying my break. Is it sad to enjoy mopping the tile floor whilst listening to Michael Bauble? Or when hanging the clothes on the line and feeling the sun on your shoulders gives you pleasure? Staying up late on a school night with a few wines is a pleasure that should never be taken for granted, and then having three books on the go at the same time is the icing on the cake.

I’m enjoying this time at home so very much that I have made the decision this morning to retire. Yes, I’ve already been down that route once and after three months at home applied for one job, as a testing ground to check if my skills were still current and saleable, and started work the very next day.

Why now? No idea other than intuition. It’s time. And I can hear my father’s voice in the background saying, “ Pet, you’re a long time dead”.

The LOML is a bit lost for words. Supportive, but full of suggestions like work from home, longer hours less days. Sorry, Sweetie, not going to happen. Hanging up my boots……..There are things to do and places to go.

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The Financial Advisor won’t be impressed either. Tough. I will fly interstate for a few days, adding two or three extra days for a short holiday, for consultation purposes of course.

Thank you for being a sounding board today.

Woot Woo. Bring it on!

 

 

 

 

From The Australian War Memorial, Canberra.

With limited time in Canberra my visit to the Australian War Memorial was reduced to hours. No matter. I focussed on the most recent Exhibition : Australia’s Special Forces.

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I’ll share more about this another time. A lot to process and quite confronting.

So I pressed on to see the artwork depicting Teddy Sheean. Up until twelve months ago I was clueless about Edward “Teddy” Sheean, a sailor in the Royal Australian Navy during the Second World War. A friendly Tasmanian who was fond of both a story and a drink told me about this young, Tasmanian lad.

From Wikipedia :
“Ordinary Seaman Edward Sheean was killed during the attack by Japanese aircraft which sank the Bathurst Class corvette HMAS Armidale in the Arafura Sea on 1 December 1942. Armidale set out from Darwin for Betano, Timor, on a twofold mission: to take relief troops to Sparrow Force, the Allied presence on Timor, and to bring back withdrawing troops. Under frequent air attacks, the ship was unable to complete its mission and sank within minutes of being hit by two torpedoes. After the order to “abandon ship”, Teddy Sheean, although twice wounded, stayed at his post at the aft Oerlikon gun, bringing down an enemy bomber. He was still firing when the ship sank”.

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Artist :DaleMarsh

Sheean was posthumously Mentioned in Despatches “for bravery and devotion to duty when HMAS Armidale was lost.” In May 1999 Sheean was honoured by the Royal Australian Navy when Collins Class Submarine No. 5 was named HMAS Sheean. This is the first occasion on which a RAN vessel has been named after an ordinary seaman.

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To this day there remains a push to award Sheean the Victoria Cross.

Forever Eighteen by Lee Kernaghan.

With Anzac Day less than ten days away the AWM is in full throttle preparing for thousands of visitors from interstate and overseas. It is both an amazing building, and a humbling experience.

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PS Gone Fishin’.

Book Clubs and Potato Peel Pie

Book Review : The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Anne Shaffer and Annie Barrows.

This was my air travel novel of choice. Bit quirky, not too weighty and with an interesting story line.Just perfect to slip in and out of the handbag when travelling…..

Firstly, this is my favourite quote within the book, which has proved totally correct as two days ago I thought Guernsey was a breed of cow.

That’s what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you on to another book, and another bit there will lead you on to a third book. It’s geometrically progressive – all with no end in sight, and for no other reason than sheer enjoyment.”

“Guernsey in reality is part of the Channel Islands, in between England and France. From 30 June 1940, during the Second World War, the Channel Islands were occupied by German troops. Before the occupation, 80% of Guernsey children had been evacuated to England to live with relatives or strangers during the war. Some children were never reunited with their families.The occupying German forces deported over 1,000 Guernsey residents to camps in southern Germany, notably to the Lager Lindele (Lindele Camp) near Biberach an der Riß and to Laufen. Guernsey was very heavily fortified during World War II, out of all proportion to the island’s strategic value. German defences and alterations remain visible, particularly to Castle Cornet and around the northern coast of the island. The island was liberated on 9 May 1945, now celebrated as Liberation Day across both Guernsey and Jersey.” –  according to Wikipedia.

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This novel is a collection of fictional letters, notes and telegrams, centred around a popular journalist during WW2, Julia Ashton, who is struggling to write her next book after the War.

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A gentleman from Guernsey writes to Julia as he is now the owner of a book bearing Julia’s inscription. They have a common interest in an Author which commences a series of letters about books which leads to information about Guernsey, and in particular the formation of The Guernsey Literary And Potato Pie Peel Society.

This group was formed during the time of German occupation and Julia has all Society members and other residents of the Island sharing their stories by mail. She travels to Guernsey to glean more and becomes an integral part of the Island’s fabric.

A fast moving novel with some eccentric characters in an interesting landscape ( very much like Doc Martin in Cornwall) I loved this read and completed it in two sittings. Now I’m off to research more about Guernsey, and yes, when the movie is officially released next week I’ll have my hand up.

Yes, it has flaws: Julia’s self importance gets on my nerves, and Kit, the five year old, could do with a spanking, but it is fun. It is the debut novel of a woman, since deceased, in her 70’s. My only regret ? No recipe for Potato Peel Pie!

 

 

Motherhood – The Hardest Job Ever.

I would give myself a rating of 8/10 for my motherhood performance this weekend.

I have delivered on the meals apparently. This is my Pumpkin Red Thai Curry cooked lovingly despite having been on the go since 4am. Delicious, and all those fresh vegetables ensured we had the strength to continue with the task of unpacking removalist cartons the following day.

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My daughter, the one working through “1001 Books To Read Before You Die”, left me in charge of stacking her bookshelves. Her new abode is a contemporary two bedroom unit, although she refers to it as being “ one bedroom and a reading room”.

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Anyway, I lost points for putting the Stozhenitsyns next to her collection of Musical DVDs. Think Ms must have been an old dance hall girl in a previous life. Did you not know that Julie Andrews and Doris Day cannot sit next to, or on the same shelf as, The Cancer Ward?

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Also Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra movies are their own genre and are in a separate musical DVD section.

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Mothers are very good, however, at buying toilet brushes, washing powder, and bath mats. I’ve graciously declined the opportunity to be in charge of rehoming the CDs.

I’ve also located a couple of really eclectic chairs most suitable for any Reading Room, but Ms is quite dismissive. What do you think?

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Yes, I know. Down to 6 out of ten.

 

“An Awkward Truth”, Vegemite on Toast, Basil Plants & Cheongsums.

Breakfast in the garden this morning which was lovely. Nothing beats the old Vegemite on Toast. We are supposed to be in our second month of Autumn, and though the mornings and evenings are just perfect the daytime temperatures are still hot and humid. It’s those cyclones floating around the far north and Coral Sea causing the havoc.* already wiping sweat from brow.

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Disappointed not to move any plants over the weekend particularly as there will be no further opportunities till next month. When I get back from the Deep South where I’ll be playing mother, I’m heading north to play father’s daughter. Yep, I’m going fishing for a few days.

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( Photo taken 196……*    Oooooops, brain fog)

The Rosemary plants which I was hoping to sell for Anzac Day will now require replanting into bigger pots which is this mornings task.

Then I’m lunching with the Geranium Lady who fundraisers for the same organisation. She has a Christmas in July dinner and trivia night in the works and has approval from the organisation to use their banner for the function. I hope to hold a small plant table on the night which will include the Rosemary bushes and the Basil which are taking over my garden like Triffids. I thought I would add a jar of my Basil salt with these plants as so many people don’t seem to know just how versatile this herb can be. If I’m brave enough I will also try my hand at Rosemary infused Olive Oil.

Have also a couple of flowering exotics on the go which, fingers crossed, in a nice pot will make a half decent raffle prize, as will some Roses pilfered from one of the neighbours garden waste bags.

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I haven’t packed any books for my travels yet and will drop by the library later today.  I’m currently reading about the bombing of Darwin during WW2; An Awkward Truth by Peter Grose. I really don’t know what to make of this one as it defies the very little we learnt about this event in our history.

And I mean very little. Embarrassingly, most of my knowledge came from that dreadful Kidman/Jackman movie titled “Australia”. If you’ve never seen it, don’t bother. Best thing about sitting through this three hours of wasteland was Our Nic’s Cheongsum. Just gorgeous but I can’t wear one – I’de look like a wine barrel!

The raid by the Japanese was bigger and more destructive than that of Pearl Harbour only weeks earlier. Although there was much bravery exhibited saving the seamen blown into the waters of Darwin Harbour, as well as a handful of courageous aircrew and civilians, including a prisoner from the local Gaol with ambulance training, the incident in reality was a blot on the landscape with looting, drunkenness, total ineptitude by Authorities, and an Administrator who lacked integrity, was selfish and an utter…..well, you get the picture.

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This is the Goodreads blurb:

The people of Darwin abandoned their town, leaving it to looters, a few anti-aircraft batteries and a handful of dogged defenders with single-shot .303 rifles. Yet the story has remained in the shadows.

Drawing on long-hidden documents and first-person accounts, Peter Grose tells what really happened and takes us into the lives of the people who were there. There was much to be proud of in Darwin that day: courage, mateship, determination and improvisation. But the dark side of the story involves looting, desertion and a calamitous failure of leadership. Australians ran away because they did not know what else to do.

Absorbing, spirited and fast-paced, An Awkward Truth is a compelling and revealing story of the day war really came to Australia, and the motley bunch of soldiers and civilians who were left to defend the nation.

Fascinating stuff, but I’m finding it difficult to get my head around it. Darwin nearly eighty years ago had only dirt roads and a population of less than 6,000,  the army only had one round of live ammunition per man, sharing their guns in the evenings with those standing guard, and communications were limited. The first sighting of the Japanese planes over the ocean were even identified as Kitty Hawks.

When I visited this northern-most Australian City last winter I felt there was much pride in their military history. I had no inkling of anything other than the general folklore so am feeling a bit conflicted.

 

 

Remind me to order the documentary of the same name from the Library too, please.

Here Is Their Spirit – Australian War Memorial : Book Review

I’ve been rereading “Here Is Their Spirit – A History Of The Australian War Memorial” by Michael McKernan which was published to coincide with the 50th Anniversary of the official opening.

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Officially opened on Remembrance Day, 11th November, 1941, the concept of the AWM was conceived by WW1 historian, C E W Bean. His vision was for “commemoration and understanding, or more accurately, commemoration through understanding”.

The idea of a museum memorial date backs to 1916, when Bean witnessed the battles in France, though the Australian War Records Section weren’t established until 1917.

An Architectural Design Competition in 1927 did not have a winner though two entrants were asked to work together to fulfil a brief, a brief much reduced due to the Depression.

This book gives a fascinating insight into the trials that went into creating this magnificent building, both political, financial and practical.

It was also wonderful to read how the public embraced the concept and came to the Memorial’s aid enthusiastically when there was a plea for additions to the collection, such as letters, medals, and photographs. One General had to be advised on the quiet that live shells were an inappropriate donation!

Unfortunately, there was a period of disinterest and lack of funding which meant that some priceless objects were either tossed out or stolen.

An interesting read, despite being published nearly thirty years ago with much change instigated since then.

These days the AWM is much valued and considered a national treasure. It has ever changing exhibitions and is constantly being innovative in bringing our past to the forefront. For the centenary anniversary of Gallipoli the projection of 200 iconic wartime photographs on the outside wall of the building each evening was just stunning on so many levels. ( and helped increase the share price for Kleenex I have no doubt).

Disappearing shortly for a few days as a Mother’s job role includes restocking fridges and a pantry. My youngest is on the move so I’m also looking forward to stacking the bookshelves-and not in colour coordinated book spine fashion!

I’ve been promised a Yum Cha which is a great motivational tool. Or is it a bribe?

She’s just up the road from the AWM. Do you think she’ll know if I get lost amongst the cartons one afternoon?

“ Here is their spirit,
In the heart of
The land they loved;
And here we guard
The record which they
Themselves made.”
C E W Bean

 

Australian Author Challenge : The Crying Place by Lia Hills.

Lia Hills is a poet, novelist and translator. Her debut novel, The Beginner’s Guide to Living, was released to critical acclaim and was shortlisted for the Victorian, Queensland and Western Australian Premiers’ Literary Awards and the New Zealand Post Book Awards. It has been translated into several languages. Other works include her award-winning poetry collection the possibility of flight and her translation of Marie Darrieussecq’s acclaimed novel, Tom is Dead. She lives with her family in the hills outside Melbourne.

Let’s be totally upfront. I selected this book purely on the basis of the front cover. Gorgeous colours, aren’t they?

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Saul is a thirty something young man working in Sydney after several years of adventuring in different parts of the world with his childhood friend, Jed. Saul receives a telephone call advising that Jed has committed suicide.

Instead of returning to their birthplace, Tasmania, for the funeral, Saul jumps in his car and drives to Melbourne. It is a long, boring drive, and the quotes from the writings of Australian novelist, Patrick White, tend to make me apprehensive of where this is all heading.

Melbourne has a shared history for Jed and Saul, and in the room in the boarding house where Jed had been staying, Saul finds a photo of a young Aboriginal woman tucked inside a poetry book. None the wiser on why Jed has resorted to such a final solution, Saul continues his road trip through to Adelaide, then shooting north through to Coober Pedy in search of the woman in the photograph.

This is one long drive interspersed with petrol stops, pit stops in country towns for a cold beer, and toilet breaks behind trees.

I was warned by all those literary quotes, wasn’t I?

Then it hit me: Australia is a huge country with long stretches of nothingness, and it is true that road trips in rural areas do become a series of petrol/food/ personal stops where along the way the traveller focuses on the constant change of scenery. By the time Saul arrives in the underground, opal mining town of Coober Pedy, we are thrilled when he meets up with a lass of German extraction. The human interaction picks up the pace of the storyline and all that descriptive prose, which is beautifully done but wordy, eases off.

Together they travel further north to Australia’s Centre, Alice Springs, stopping with an indigineous acquaintance along the way, where he is able to track down the whereabouts of Jed’s friend in the photo.

Saul gets permission from the traditional land owners to enter the Western Desert where he finally meets up with the woman, Nara. After some days living within the community, and living as they do, he finally learns a secret about Jed.

The long, solo drive to Adelaide was hard work, though the rhythm of the book changed for me once we had some human interaction. Life within an aboriginal community was fascinating and I enjoyed an insight into their spirituality. However, I’m a bit amazed after having read so many reviews that many readers said they benefited reading about the living conditions of aboriginals in rural settlements. Doesn’t anybody read a newspaper anymore?

The Crying Hills is more a painting of a series of beautiful yet harsh landscapes than a novel.

The content, with all its grief, does not make it a fun book to read.

And as for the big secret? Enough to kill yourself over? This did not sit well with me either, though I guess suicide is never a comfortable topic.

Home Sweet Home

Easter is on its last legs and I can honestly say that I am feeling much refreshed having done very little. Sometimes doing nothing is every bit as important as doing something.

The idea of downsizing nearly eighteen months ago came from continuously having my hand in my pocket for home maintenance and just not being physically able to maintain my third of an acre block.

My new home is on a piece of land the size of a handkerchief. Despite its lack of area, I have fruit trees, a flourishing vegetable garden, and an assortment of wildlife that regularly visits. This is my Go To book when someone, or something, new visits.

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Like to meet some of my regular guests?

My weekly shopping includes additional fruit for the possums that visit on a nightly basis, guinea pig food for the wallabies, bird seed for the parrots, and a kilo of meat for the kookaburras, magpies, butcher birds, and Percy the Water Dragon. Oh, yes, they all have names……

The possums are currently carrying their babies on their backs and the little ones climb off and crawl through the fence where they can eat without any threat from the adults, before returning to mum for a ride home.

The Scrub Turkeys, Rosie and Willemena,  have gone walkabout so I assume they are sitting on eggs somewhere.

Yes, there is the occasional ……..* ssssshhhh, keep your voice to a whisper ……….snake. Probably wise not to mention what happens to them.

Who needs to go away for Easter when you can go Glamping in your own back yard?

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Good Friday and Rosemary

 

Good Friday, and it IS a Good Friday.

Repotted some plants today and fussed over my young Rosemary cuttings. Rosemary is synonymous with Anzac Day as there was an abundance of Rosemary bushes on the hills of Anzac Cove in Gallipoli at the time of the landing in 1915. It has since become tradition for Australians to wear a sprig of Rosemary on the 25th of April.

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Rosemary Oil also has properties that aid the memory – another reason that this beautiful bush is so popular on the day! Rosemary For Memories………(Tip : if you have a student about to sit exams, a few drops of Rosemary Oil in a diffuser is said to help).

I have less than a dozen plants left now, which I plan to sell over the coming week, with all funds raised going to my charity which supports ex service personnel requiring a hand up upon deployment. Come late winter I will start the process all over again, taking cuttings, planting, and giving much love to these beautiful little shrubs. And yes, some are destined for my pantry where they will offer themselves as a sacrifice to enhance the Sunday roast.

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Funnily enough I recently became acquainted with the Geranium Lady of Queensland. She propagates and then later sells Geraniums for the very same reason. She has a son in the military. I have a son-in-law named after Douglas Macarthur. Says it all really. We girls recently met up for a coffee only to discover that nearly forty years ago we attended the same high school nearly 2000 kilometres away. Bizarre.

So no reading this weekend. I am having fun with some books that were gifted to me some time ago, the idea being to create your own Lists. The music one is far easier to compile as songs are transient. After all, I’m still listening to my LPs from the 1970’s. ( okay, yes, slightly embarrassed). Not so with books. Sometimes I select a book for reading from the Library only to remember 200 pages in that I have already read it. More Rosemary for me please……

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A peaceful Easter to you all.

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