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………..

Sympathy Pains

My eldest daughter, Pocahontas, is 2400 kms away, living in a remote part of the Northern Territory. She is 39 weeks pregnant with her first child. Positive and confident she has Essential Oils and a music play list that heavily features Frank Sinatra packed to take to hospital.

I feel sick as. Regular tummy pains are forcing me to bed for short stretches and I’m having lots of little naps. When I’m up and about I’m firing on all cylinders, busy rearranging the furniture and cleaning out cupboards. Last week I sugar soaped the bathroom, this week I cooked Aubergine Chips.

I think I’m suffering Sympathy Pains or a phenomenon medically termed as couvade syndrome whereby you feel as if you are feeling the same pains as a loved one.

Even my ankles have swollen which really distresses me because my ankles have always been damn fine. I have the ankle jewellery to prove it.

Just as well I bought a box of books to sit this one out…………..

The Granite Belt

An hours drive south of Allora lies Stanthorpe, smack bang in the centre of the Granite Belt. Massive rocks are everywhere and they are even more popular than swans made out of old car tyres as garden features. 

Originally a tin mining town, at the turn of the 20th century it morphed into a fruit growing area with apple orchards and berries which still dominate the market. Winemakers and olive producers came from Italy to the district in the 1920s and helped establish what we now know as the food and wine trail. There are 50 plus vineyards in the Granite Belt and you’ll be shocked/amazed/disappointed that I didn’t visit one! ( Confession: our accomodation was at a microbrewery but that doesn’t count, right?)

Stanthorpe is over 800 metres above sea level so get this : in sub tropical Queensland winters in Stanthorpe mean log fires and the occasional snow flurry. They even celebrate a Brass Monkey Festival.

One of the outlying rural areas of Stanthorpe is Amiens, named after the battlefield in France in which Australians were involved during World War 1. It was a Soldier Settlement of approx. 17,000 acres and more than seven hundred returned soldiers were allocated blocks in what became known as settlements of Amiens, Messines, Bapaume, Passchendaele, Bullecourt, Pozieres and Fleurbaix.

Under the Discharged soldiers’ settlement Act, 1917  every discharged member of the armed forces was entitled to apply for land and financial assistance.  The important goals within this initiative were to open up new land for settlement as well as place willing and suitable settlers on this land.  At the same time, it aimed to provide employment as well as the necessary support for the many discharged servicemen who had served their country.”

Today, there are less than 300 people living in this area. It was windswept and darn cold – I cannot imagine the living conditions 100 years ago.

And for those who have been paying attention Stanthorpe really does have more than its fair share of fine pubs.


Allora, Qld, and Mary Poppins

I’ve been on a short road trip. Put your seatbelt on and remember, no smoking or eating in the car unless its chocolate – and be prepared to share.

The Blue Cow Hotel

Allora is a country town on the Darling Downs in South East Queensland, approximately 2.5 hours drive from Brisbane, and located between Toowoomba and Warwick. * It has a wide main street with a pub on each corner making it reminiscent of so many farming communities across Australia, a Cafe that is the busiest spot in town at lunchtime, two hairdressing salons, and a Little Community Library ( that I was just itching to tidy).

Being so flat makes it ideal to walk around Allora to inhale its history. Settled in 1840 there are many examples of fine colonial architecture highlighted by the plaques attached to 30 odd buildings of interest.

In good seasons summer in Allora becomes a mass of yellow and is well regarded for its crops of beautiful sunflowers. Unusual for a community of just on 1,000 there are two museums : the historical and a regional sports museum. ( Local sports stars include Laura Geitz – netball, Matthew Denny – discus, Greg Holmes – rugby union, and Wayne Bennett – league.)

Perhaps the best known resident of Allora was Helen Lyndon Goff who later changed her name to Pamela Lyndon Travers, the author of Mary Poppins

Although born in Maryborough, Qld, which I’ve discussed in a previous post, the Goffs moved to Allora when Helen was 8 years old. The bank building in which they lived, and where her father died two years later, is available for tours.

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  There is a nod to the author in the P L Travers Park in the main street.

Well worth a visit.

*One of the measures of a town has always been the number of pubs it supports though Covid has had a huge impact in this area.

The Boy Who Followed His Father into Auschwitz

The Boy Who Followed His Father Into Auschwitz

    By Jeremy Dronfield

This is a true story, a story moulded from a secret diary written by Gustav Kleinmann  whilst in concentration camps during World War 2, and corroborated by his son’s Fritz’s memoirs, published in 2012 with the title Doch der Hund will nicht krepieren, (which translated means But Still The Dog Will Not Die).

The Kleinmanns are a Jewish family living in Vienna who get caught up in the events of the 1930s. In 1939 Gustav and his eldest son are arrested and imprisoned at Buchenwald Concentration Camp. When Gustav is transferred to Auschwitz  15 year old Fritz volunteers to go with his father despite it being considered a death sentence. He doesn’t want his father to be alone.

Through luck, fortitude, and a strong bond these two men go on to survive the eight day Death March through snow away from the advancing Red Army to incarceration at Mauthausen, followed by a spell at Mittelbau-Dora, and then finally Bergen- Belsen where they finally find freedom at wars end. It’s a bleak read, a dark read, as one would expect.

 The author also interviewed the younger son, Kurt, who was able to tie in the rest of the families’ circumstances during that same period.

Gustav’s wife Tini is courageous and resourceful, organising a work visa that enables the eldest daughter to go to England as a domestic, and Kurt when a young child, is sponsored and goes to America. Both end up living happy and successful lives.

Tini’s story is fascinating, scrounging for work, money and food and doing whatever it takes to keep her family together, even sending parcels of clothing to Gustav and Fritz at the camps in the early days. Sadly Tini and her youngest daughter were later amongst those executed at a death camp near Minsk.

Although Kurt was aware of these deaths it wasn’t until he met the author for research purposes that he learned how the executions took place. Seventy plus years later the information still has a gut wrenching effect.

This is a powerful and tragic read though love of family and resilience shine through. And no, there will never be enough Holocaust stories if it means preventing a repeat episode.

Around the world, people condemned the Nazis and criticized their own governments for doing too little to take in refugees. But the campaigners were outnumbered by those who did not want immigrants in their midst, taking their livelihoods and diluting their communities. The German press jeered at the hypocrisy of a world that made so much indignant noise about the supposedly pitiful plight of the Jews but did little or nothing to help.”

About The Author:
Jeremy Dronfield is a biographer, historian, novelist and former archaeologist. I look forward to chasing up his other titles.

Dad And Dave Country – Nobby, Qld.

Two hours drive west of Brisbane lies the township of Nobby on the Darling Downs, population few and far between. Why visit Nobby? This is where author Steele Rudd was said to have written many of his stories ensconced at the local pub.

Rudd’s Pub is an interesting spot with its farming memorabilia filling the walls and ceiling space as well as references to Rudd’s iconic characters, Dad and Dave.

Steele Rudd was the pseudonym of Arthur Hoey Davis (14 November 1868 – 11 October 1935) an Australian author, best known for his short story collection On Our Selection.

The Barmaid battled to find a clean glass. Wonder why?

The stories contained in this book provide a humorous account of life on a plot of land ‘selected’ in the late 1800s. Apart from the humour of life in the bush and of yokels visiting the city, these stories also included Dave’s awkward romance with local lass, Mabel.

The 1920 movie On  Our Selection and 1932–1952 radio series Dad and Dave helped turn the characters into Australian cultural icons before the days of television. A Selection referred to “free selection before survey” of crown land under legislation introduced in the 1860’s to encourage settlement and agriculture.

The movie was remade in 1995 starring Leo McKern, Joan Sutherland, and Geoffrey Rush with the theme song by John Williamson. No-one ever said it was a good movie and harking back to more simple times it would not sit well with todays audience though it would have resonated with the previous generation.

JW took several decades to reach his prime.

The refreshing bevy at Rudd’s Pub was pleasant, as was the walk around Sister Kenny Memorial Park and Museum (in a nod to her work with poliomyelitis).

Our real find was Steele Rudd Park which sits on a corner of the original Selection on Steele Rudd Road, East Greenmount.

The park features replica historical buildings and information about Rudd’s childhood and later life. It includes a picnic table and gas barbeque as well as bathroom facilities – though be careful where you sit : bush facilities have a tendency to attract frogs 🙂

This is pretty country surrounded by gently undulating plains with its pastures full of fat cattle. Still, it is not difficult to imagine the hardships endured by our pioneers attempting to raise large families on these plots fighting constant battles against dust, drought, snakes and heat.

Lets finish with a typical Dad and Dave joke :

Dave decided to take Mabel to the Snake Gully Café for lunch. Dave looked at the menu and said, “They’ve got sheep tongues on the menu, Mabel. I think I’ll have that. What about you?” 
Mabel said, “No Dave, I couldn’t eat anything that came out of an animal’s mouth.” 
“What would you like then, Mabel?” said Dave. 
Mabel said, “I think I’ll have an egg.”_

* Well worth a visit.

**Worth watching the 1995 version if only for the line up of Australian actors : Ray Barrett, Noah Taylor, Barry Otto, and my 80’s crush, Rory O’Donaghue from The Aunty Jack Show. Do you remember Aunty Jack ?Even named a cat after him.🥰

Welcome To Spring

These cheerful Wattle Babies are the most good-natured of all of May Gibbs’  Bush Babies. Their bright yellow clothes brighten the bush on a Winter’s day. In Spring they love to go boating and swimming with their frog friends and have fun playing hide and seek with the baby birds. 

May Gibbs (1877-1969), author and illustrator, has captured the hearts and imaginations of generations of Australians with her lovable bush characters and fairytale landscapes. She is best known for The Complete Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie.

September 1st is Wattle Day in Australia.

I love everything about the Wattleit’s simply sensational.

My Wattle Sapling in flower for the first time

Travel During The Time Of Pandemic

Crawling out of a funk after another planned trip cancelled due to Covid. Here in Queensland we are living in a bubble, the positive being only 6 plague related deaths over the the last seven months. The negatives are multiple and soul destroying though we continue to move forward, even though we are really going backwards.

Qld Tourism has been spending big bikkies to encourage us to travel around our home State. It’s a big State with an area of 1,727,000 square kilometres, making it nearly five times the size of Japan, seven times the size of Great Britain, and two and a half times the size of Texas.

Most of the population live along the coast and nearly 902,000 square kilometres is considered “Outback”.

Anyway, advertising is obviously working as accomodation is at a premium as are the numbers of Grey Nomads ( retirees driving around in mobile homes and caravans). Good luck to them : they bring a lot of money to townships that would otherwise be doing it tough. But good luck trying to book a motel along the coast……

I pulled this beaut little guide to Queensland from the weekend newspaper and highly recommend it.

What makes this brochure different to other guides available encouraging travel around the State?

As well as separating the regions and the Must Do’s to visit, it provides
the title of a book to read which is based on that region, as well as a piece of music for the play list.

These are the reading and recommendations if visiting the Mackay area :

I figure that despite our current circumstances there are still opportunities to spend the kids’ inheritance.

Queenslanders, and pseudo Queenslanders, get your copy now.

Five Concept Albums Based On Books

I’m a bit of a sucker for Lists. I mean reading lists – not creating them. I don’t even write a shopping list.( C’mon people, how hard is it ?)

Because I have relied heavily on music to ease me through these past seven months of Covid I’ve been reading more than my share of Lists. In no way mind expanding and generally in one ear and out the other, which sums up all I can deal with during these times…..

I’m borrowing this information from Steven G from Weekend Notes who is a listophile extraordinaire as well as ad libbing.

War Of The Worlds by Jeff Wayne (1978), based on War Of The Worlds by HG Wells (1898)

The two-disc album remains a bestseller, having sold 15 million copies worldwide. It has spawned multiple versions including video games, DVDs, and live tours. You’de have to be living under a rock not to be aware of this album.

Journey To The Centre Of The Earth by Rick Wakeman (1974), based on Journey To The Centre Of The Earth by Jules Verne (1871; English)

Can’t say too much about this one : it evokes memories of Saturday nights spent in beanbags drinking Blackberry Nip.

Diamond Dogs by David Bowie (1974), based on Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell (1949)

This album includes the hit song 1984, originally intended for a stage musical based on the novel, which was never produced because permission was refused by Orwell’s widow Sonia.

Animals by Pink Floyd (1977), based on Animal Farm by George Orwell (1945)

The album’s lyrics describe various classes in society as different kinds of animals: the predatory dogs, the despotic ruthless pigs, and the “mindless and unquestioning herd” of sheep. Described as “ the apparent social and moral decay of society, likening the human condition to that of mere animals”. Has there ever been a Pink Floyd concert which did not feature a flying pink pig?

Leviathan by Mastodon (2004), based on Moby Dick by Herman Melville (1851)

Songs  from this album, “Iron Tusk”, “Blood and Thunder”, “I Am Ahab” and “Seabeast”, were released as singles. Three magazines awarded the album Album of the Year in 2004 and in 2009 and 2015 MetalSucks named Leviathan the best metal album of the 21st century.


Might be time to listen to a little Dean Martin…………………..

A Walk Around IndigiScapes

We’re on the tail end of winter which means that the possums visit nightly carrying babies on their backs, the magpies are pinching the matting from my hanging baskets to build their nests and the Australian natives are just beginning to flower for Spring. Perfect weather for a walk around our local bushland gardens based on the original flora of the area – IndigiScapes.

IndigiScapes is also home to a variety of fauna including Koalas, and the birdlife is quite extensive, encouraged by nesting boxes high in the tree tops.

There are picnic grounds, bush walks, and different themed gardens featuring native plants. An Explorer Centre encourages the Little People to identify points of interest in the bush, and the Cafe serves light meals featuring native ingredients such as Wattle Seed and Lemon Myrtle.

Attached to IndigiScapes is a Native Nursery where many volunteers prepare seedlings for purchase. I’m a big fan as I live next door to a Koala Corridor and assist with the revegetation of the area with saplings which would have originally existed in the area.

Pre Covid the gardens were popular with families over holiday periods for the array of educational bush activities such as worm farming and basket weaving, and as the perfect venue to wear the little blighters out.

I’ve also attended some of the the weekend workshops they’ve run on attracting bees to your garden, composting, wildlife journalling, wild flower arranging and encouraging bees.

Entry to IndigiScapes is free. Take a bottle of water and just keep walking – you never know what you will stumble upon.

Located in Capalaba, suburban Brisbane. Fancy that.

“I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority. ” E.B. White / Letters of E. B. White