The Charge of Beersheba Vs Halloween

Watched the 1987 Australian movie The Lighthorsemen last night. October 31st is the anniversary of the Battle of Beersheba, a part of the Sinai and Palestine Campaign in World War 1.

It’s become a family tradition – a bit like viewing Die Hard just before Christmas.

Funnily enough, I saw the movie through different eyes this time. Not sure whether to put that down to retirement and being more relaxed or just getting older. ( Rhetorical only – no comments required).

I can confirm, following my recent visit to the Summer Land Camel Farm
( where I had conniptions after discovering Errol Flynn had slept at the property when it was owned by Charles Chauvel, nephew of Sir Henry), that camels did get a nod in the movie. It was only a two second scene, but there they were representing the Imperial Camel Corp. No embarrassment whatsoever jumping out of my seat at the time and doing a little jiggle with excitement.

All the young actors were my age when they made the movie and at their prime. Well, all except Peter Phelps who is obviously a late bloomer. Gary Sweet, who played Frank, had hair for goodness sake! John Walton (Tas) was the dreamboat who played Doctor Rothwell in the soapie, The Young Doctors. Dead now. And Sonny Blake, who played Irishman Scotty Bolton and was damn impressive sans shirt, and was left paralysed after a car accident on the way home from filming, is another we recently lost.

Beautiful Sigrid Thornton was our girl before Our Nic with her big brown eyes and pursed lips. Did you happen to watch the series of Seachange twenty years on earlier this year? Might have needed to top up her superannuation.

I have no recollection of Halloween as a child. Not sure when it actually became a thing. Or why.

A girlfriend with week on, week off custody arrangement of her daughter tells me that said child is trick and treating with her father on the night and that she will hold a Halloween party over the weekend. Halloween Parties ??????

Must be me. I don’t comprehend how it‘s law that kiddies under 12 years of age are not allowed to walk to school unsupervised, or that schools can dictate what a kid can or cannot have in his lunch box, though door knocking for sweets is okay.

I hope all those on the other side of my world enjoy their fun. And the flesh of all those pumpkins.

Personally, I’m all for this idea of wrapping up brussel sprouts in chocolate wrappers.

Fromage blanc, Camels and Conniptions -Part 1

A road trip just days into Spring and we’re already hitting temperatures reminiscent of Summer. This apparently means that bushfires are our new normal and there have been multiple blazes raging across Queensland and New South Wales for the past few days. Not fun on the wide open roads nor those that are winding, single lane through the country but more on that later.

First port of call was only 45 minutes from Brisbane, just outside the small town of Harrisville, off the Cunningham Highway. 

Summer Land Camels is absolutely fascinating and well worth a visit. Yes, camels. Those ugly big things that spit. Really interesting – who knew? 

And camels don’t spit. That’s Alpacas, their cousins. Bulls get frothy mouths when they’re “romantically inclined”.

This Camel farm is the biggest in Australia and third biggest in the world. They milk them on site to produce cheese, yoghurt and gelato – Camel gelato for goodness sake ! – as well as skincare products and leather goods.

The tour around the milking facilities is well worth taking and I was fortunate to learn all the goss from one of the partners of the enterprise who has a background in Biochemistry, Physiology diagnostics with a particular expertise in the innate immune system, gut and organ health, Nuclear Medicine, Physiotherapy and Masters in Sports Science. Seriously, it was love at first adjective.

I was totally ignorant of the fact that Australia had a Camel Corp in World War 1 that participated in the Charge for Beersheba. This means that they’re  going to have to remake the movie The Lighthorsemen and I have to drop by the Library ASAP.

So yeah, there’s all these other touristy activities that you can participate in, like feeding the beasts or going on a camel ride. See here for more information : http://www.summerlandcamels.com.au

I enjoyed a Devonshire Tea with homemade jam and Fromage blanc courtesy of the camels.

So this was a truly enjoyable start to my road trip with my excitement only heightened when I learned that the property used to be the residence of Australian filmmaker, Charles Chauvel. There may have been a hint of conniptions when told that Errol Flynn was an overnight guest before his Hollywood days.

Next trip I will take an esky and ice and purchase some Camel meat. Can’t say I’ve ever seen a Camel recipe but I’de give it a go. My daughters haven’t yet forgiven me for serving up Roasted Skippy with baked veges. A Mother’s payback.

Summer Land Camels is located at 8 Charles Chauvel Drive, Harrisville, Qld.

Next time : maracas, bushfires, and The Breaker.

The Perfect Souvenir

My daughters, the Gadabout Girls, are big on travel and experiencing different cultures. Add the label Adrenalin Junkie to my eldest who does all kinds of horrific things that she doesn’t even share with her mother these days, such as jumping out of planes, hiking through South America and driving Go Karts through the streets of Tokyo. She unashamedly admits bonding with her partner when they patted a shark together whilst surfing off North Stradbroke Island.

When she told me a few years ago that she and her military lad were touring Europe she mentioned Switzerland. Switzerland. Stupid mother asks, “why Switzerland?” The reply? “Large dairy industry and great cheeses”. Mother was stupid AND naive. They jumped out of a plane, landing in water, and floating down an icy river. As you do.

So today, on the 110th Anniversary of the birth of Errol Flynn I thought I’de share the souvenir the daughters brought back for me from their trip to Greece via Egypt.

Yep, these they found in Athens. Better than a miniature sphinx or a snow dome, hey.

I’ve been away for a few days to a beautiful part of our world though home earlier than expected. Bit of an issue so a bit blahhhh.

In an attempt to lift my spirits a friend jokingly said “ what we need is some Errol music, but we haven’t got any”.

Well guess what, my friend. The jokes on you.

Australia’s Sweetheart by Michael Adams

Name : Australia’s Sweetheart

Author : Michael Adams

Published : 2018 by Hatchette Australia

I was gifted a copy of Australia’s Sweetheart on the basis that Mary Maguire “socialised with everyone from Charles Kingsford Smith, Errol Flynn and Donald Bradman”. Indeed, I went straight to the Index which listed thirteen references to Errol Flynn. Thirteen. Hold that thought.

Never heard of Mary Maguire? Neither had I!

Still, let’s not dismiss this 2018 effort by journalist, screen writer and author, Michael Adams. It’s a fascinating read.

Mary Maguire was a teenager when she starred in two Australian movies made in the mid 1930’s. Her first major role was in Heritage, produced by Charles Chauvel, just after he had discovered a young Errol Flynn and directed him in In The Wake Of The Bounty.

Mary became a household name at a time when 3 million Australians went to the movies each week and when there were over 1,200 movie houses across the country. Hard to picture really, pardon the pun. It seemed logical then for Mary to try her luck in Hollywood in the latter part of the 30’s. Especially considering her social connections……

Her father, Michael, was a popular AFL footballer, boxer and publican and her mother rather a beauty. When Mary was a teenager the family relocated from Melbourne to Brisbane to run the Bellevue Hotel, an inner city establishment renowned for its clientele and which in recent years had been listed as one of the Q150 Icons of Queensland for its role as a “Defining Moments”. (Locals may remember it was later demolished in the dead of night by the Deen Brothers to make way for another ugly Government Office Block – another defining moment in Queensland history.)

The Bellevue Hotel, Brisbane. Shame. Shame.Shame.

Russian ballerina’s stayed at the Bellevue, as did the English Cricket Team involved in the infamous Bodyline incident, Australian sporting hero Donald Bradman, and aviator Charles Kingsford Smith. Royalty supped in the Dining Room of the Bellevue Hotel, and one of Mary’s beaus was the young aviator that was killed in an air crash in the Lamington National Park ( located by the O’Reilly’s)

Mary lived on three continents : Australia, America, and the United Kingdom and she lived parallel with seminal incidents of the twentieth century: the Spanish Flu; the Great Depression; Australia’s early radio, talkies and aviation; Hollywood’s Golden Era; the British aristocracy’s embrace of European fascism; London’s Blitz; and post-war American culture and politics. It’s this information which is the backbone of the book and makes it such an interesting read.

My favourite piece of trivia revolves around Mary’s Australian friend, Margaret Vyner, a super model before the term was even invented and fellow actress. Such was Vyner’s beauty that Col Porter added her name to the list of wonderful things about the world in a version of his song You’re The Top from his hit musical, Anything Goes:

You’re the top, You’re an ocean liner, You’re the top, You’re Margaret Vyner.

Mary mixed with many Hollywood movie stars, including Ronald Reagan, Marion Davies, Gloria Swanson, Maureen O’Sullivan and Judy Garland. Her first husband was a Nazi sympathiser and her second husband, an engineer, invented Mr Bartender.

Thirteen Index references to Errol Flynn. Mary Maguire “left behind no known diaries or letters”. There is nothing to indicate that Flynn and Maguire did anything more than share an employer and workspace. Flynn has most certainly been used as a yard stick and the author has obviously done much research utilising media reports. I’m just not so sure this conveys the actress’s actual life as opposed to the life publicity would have us believe she lived.

Regardless, an engaging read and insight into earlier times.

My Day In Numbers

0 – Episodes left in Game Of Thrones

“You know nothing, Jon Snow”. Ygrette was sooo right. Snow, ya dipstick. Talk about conned.

4 – Assignments submitted 2 weeks ahead of schedule.

A few profanities were thrown at the computer and there may have been a meltdown, but you know what? The old girl’s still got it.

5 – exservicemen have committed suicide since Anzac Day

( and 1 on active service but you didn’t hear it from me).

Appalling.

6 – Months of Retirement. 💖

15 – Days and I’m off again

Off to the hinterland to review a $3k a week house with log fire and spa, located near wineries and two distilleries. Tough one but someone has to do it. See Retirement

20 – Years since release of Ten Things I Hate About You.

Have you been to one of the special screenings? Oh, Heath, you were something else. Sigh…….

42 – % of Homeless in Australia are women due primarily to Domestic Violence.

Take a bow, Australia. You must be so bloody proud. NOT.

60 – years of age.

It’s just a number and still no grey. Well, a wisp only, though my eyebrows are fading. Bloody awful to think my first tattoo may be a new set of eyebrows. Thinking Baby Jane….

75 – years since D Day.

This was something we commemorated when I was at school. My daughters know the 6th of June as Queensland Day. Not sure what it is we are celebrating: incompetent pollies, brown paper bags full of cash, destruction of the reef, coal mines owned by Indian interests, fracking in our farmland, and my favourite, the developers who do secret deals to build 3600 units by reclaiming mangroves in the dugong breeding waters off the coast. Yay, Qld Day!

76 – Seats won by the Liberals in the recent Elections

Not a political comment. Just concerned about a society full of Snowflakes……

80 – years

Happy Birthday, Vera Lynn

Received a lovely surprise in the mail this morning, validating my parenting role. “Errol is good for the soul”. The old soul does require a little soothing so I’m not going to argue with the prescribed medicine.

Dame Vera Lynn, the Forces Sweetheart, celebrated her 102nd birthday yesterday, the 20th of March.

At a funeral, of all places, I spoke with a fella with a Pink Floyd obsession. Pink Floyd : that LP that was played at every party throughout the 1970’s.

The Wall was Pink Floyd’s 11th recorded album and a concept piece. It’s story explores Pink, a jaded rockstar that bassist Roger Waters modeled after himself and band founder Syd Barrett. Pink’s life begins with the loss of his father during the Second World War and continues with abuse from his schoolteachers, an overprotective mother, and the breakdown of his marriage; all contribute to his eventual self-imposed isolation from society, symbolised by a wall.

I’ve finally had a chance to listen to The Wall and found a song dedicated to Dame Vera, with the most popular interpretation being :”As he drifts farther from reality, Pink yearns for ideas of home and reconnecting with his personal roots, recalling the hope that Vera Lynn – a World War II era singer – instilled within a country torn apart by war and loss”.

Unfortunately, it’s a reminder that you’re getting old when you attend a Pink Floyd Tribute Concert and the light show gives you a shocking headache……

Hope you enjoyed a piece of cake with a cuppa on your birthday, young Vera.

Another family favourite. Thankfully never accompanied by harmonica.

Snakes, Cyclones and Errol

A summer of rolling heatwaves, lack of rain(in our wet season), and now Cyclone Oma hitting the coastline finds me more than a little wistful today. No damage though the local coffee shop on the coast where I caught up with girlfriends a few days ago had a foot of water running through it two days later.

So it’s windy, humid, and the grey clouds once again tease and my thoughts have wandered to where I could have been.

I downsized just over two years ago with a view to retirement. Three hours mowing the lawn each week to be frank, sucked, and the swimming pool was providing more pleasure for the Brown Snakes than for me. At one stage there were 11 Pythons living in my roof space, and when the bush rats ate through the wiring setting me back nearly $20k I put the house on the market.

Not a big decision really, though I did wrestle with subdividing or just offloading. I opted for the latter.

I found a nice little house only minutes away which meant I was still close to the water and very familiar with the locality. A small block with a house thirty years newer which was designed as an Airbnb should I want a passive income down the track.

So my house sold two days after being on the market at the inflated asking price. Contract crashed at the very last minute. Picked up two days later by a developer who paid an even higher price.( He later told me that when the house was demolished it was obvious the snakes had been breeding).

So I should have been really excited, right?

As fate would have it the very day my contract went through for my new house a property in which Errol Flynn had lived came onto the market in Hobart, the capital of our Island State of Tasmania. A lovely house with a view of the mountains. More importantly, so much cooler than Queensland. Did I howl like a banshee or what! Visions of holding monthly (black and white) movie nights and serving champagne cocktails instantly came to mind. We girls do like our champagne cocktails.

Pulling up my big girl panties I’ve been very happy in my new home. Only two snakes in two years, though they did eat my pet cockatiels, and it only takes ten minutes to mow both front and back lawns.

Retirement means I don’t have the same ties. I can relocate. I’m wondering if I should make an offer to the owners of the Hobart property, or is it simply Cabin Fever getting to me? If this summer is indicative of our new normal I don’t want to play here anymore.

*Snakes are protected in Australia. The fine for killing a snake is almost the same as murdering a child. Also, they are territorial, so even when you pay the snake man $125 per snake to remove them, no further than 500 metres by law, the blighters mostly come back. (Sssssshhhhh. Secret. A girls best friend can be the garden hoe).