It’s All About The Journey.

Home after a week pottering around the beautiful small townships of the New South Wales, South Coast Region. This trip, despite its short length, was a celebration of the end of one phase of my life and for the beginning of the next. The goal was to purge some sad memories and to create some that were new and fresh. It is amazing how quickly those goals were achieved.

This part of the world is a continuous coastline on one side of the highway, and soft green hills or rugged timberland on the other. It’s a part of the world where you don’t have to share a beach and there is a plethora of space to stop and think. Space where there is no white noise. Any plans for an overseas jaunt in coming months are seriously being overhauled.

My favourite travel writer, Bill Bryson, who totally cracks me up said “ To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.”

Road trips are the source of much fascinating information. After a quick feed at a pub in Nowra, I learnt that The Archer Tavern was named after the racehorse that won Australia’s first and second Melbourne Cups in 1861 and ‘62. Archer was a long distance specialist having walked the 600 miles from Nowra to Melbourne for the big race.

This was the basis of a truly dreadful mid eighties movie starring Our Nic before she met that bloke Cruise, and a young Brett Climo. Whatever happened to him, I wonder?

In Moruya, further south on the Moruya River, you can’t miss the recently closed Air Raid Tavern situated on the Highway. A wooden carving of The Airman stands proudly outside. Moruya ?Air Raids? The hallmarks of a failed education system in the 1970s were once again raising their ugly heads.

Three trawler men lost their lives during WW2 when a Japanese Midget submarine bombed them off the Moruya Coast, on their way up the East Coast. Who knew that? Some more unpalatable history, apparently.

So, of course I had to look at the Midget Sub on display, very much bruised and battered, at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. Fascinating stuff.

For the penultimate in Trivia a celebration of another kind taking place further south near Narooma had themed food to match the quiz like game at hand, set up in tents in a back garden, with a soft summer breeze, the hum of cicadas, and a playlist of music from the last five decades.

Much thanks must go to these good people, these Adventurers, who have convinced me to add “Watch Dr Who Christmas Special” to my Must Do List. An achievement considering never having watched a Star Wars, Harry Potter, or Lord Of The Rings movie  which I rate highly as Personal Bests, right up there with my No Tupperware Policy.

And I picked up a first Edition copy of Rudyard Kipling’s, Kim, for my Errol Flynn Collection from a second hand bookstore in a little country town that served the best coffee.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said , “It’s not the destination. It’s the journey.” So true.

In Like Flynn- The Movie

I was always going to be conflicted about the movie In Like Flynn. Adapted from Errol Flynn’s 1937 ( first) novel, “Beam Ends”, the movie takes us from the goldfields of New Guinea in 1930, to the streets of Sydney and the Razor Gang in 1932, north to Townsville, and then further north to a return to New Guinea.

Here’s my Good, Bad and the Ugly, and not necessarily in that order

Firstly, the really, truly Ugly:

I had a signed copy of this book in my possession and inadvertently tossed it into the bin some thirty years ago. The things you do when you are young and stupid ( or more stupid ).I’ve been chasing this wretched book ever since.

Then there is the Bad:

What’s with David Wenham’s penchant for weird facial hair and creepy voices? Way back when, was there a female with a pulse anywhere across the nation who did not weep tears of blood when Diver Dan dumped Laura Gibson in Pearl Bay to dive the Galápagos Islands?

Wenham’s penchant for woeful mos and odd vocal noises started in Australia, though his presence in In Like Flynn as the Mayor/ Boxing Promoter/ Reverend screams dirty-old-man-in-raincoat. That’s the price you pay when you let a good woman down, David. Thank God Laura finally found happiness with that bloke that’s built like a brick outhouse.

If we were expected to believe Guy Pearce as Flynn (in Flynn) at five foot ten and a half then this chappie is way out in front. Thomas Cocquerel is a good looking lad – we know this as there are numerous scenes not requiring a shirt – and at a couple of inches over six foot with a chiselled chin, does a reasonable job. Don’t waste time with comparisons though : one is vanilla to Errol’s double malted, dark chocolate with a dash of Tia Maria.

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So to enjoy this film simply forget that this is supposed to be Errol Flynn before making it big in Hollywood. Instead, treat it as another of the Jewel of the Nile/ Indiana Jones Franchises. It will make the experience so much more palatable. Hang the brain at the door and just go with the adventure, or misadventure, and the crocodiles.

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Good :
Don’t you feel we’ve watched Isobel Lucas grow up in front of the cameras, from a pretty and pouty little thing, to an even prettier and poutier little thing, though she does a great job of being both flirty and feisty in this flick. Kills it as a redhead. Hasn’t put on an ounce of weight – just how does that work?

And another :

The scenery is beautiful and there is a definite 1930 vaudevillian feel.

Unfortunately, the sound quality is poor in parts, or is it that the soundtrack is simply too loud? The incorrect answer is that my hearing is poor. Well, it is, but everyone in the cinema was pressing forward to hear better too – all four of us.

First film reviews in within Australia state “ car crash compelling” and “so bad its nearly good”.

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And talking of that bloke built like a brick outhouse….. See you at lunch at The Grand View next week.

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My Week With Errol Flynn

Tasmania has the population with the oldest median age across Australia, as well as the highest percentage of inhabitants over the age of 65 years. It would also seem that they have more than their fair share of octagenarians and nonagenarians which I’m putting down to fresh air, home grown vegetables, Scallops, and delightful, crisp chardonnays.

Tasmania, an Island off our Island, takes a little over three hours to traverse from north to south, and means that many families are inter-related. And I’m not quoting that old “two headed “chestnut – farming communities of the 1800’s and 1900’s were the product of both fertile lands and people. You need to know this to understand that familial ties remain strong across Tasmania to this day and grudges from one hundred years ago remain intact. This in part accounts for a large proportion of its population having a distinct distaste for actor, Errol Flynn. Many of the stuffy, old matrons had a friend who knew a friend who had a brother who went to school with Flynn in Hobart before World War 1. No one liked him much from all accounts.

Hobart, the place of Flynn’s birth in 1909, appears a tad conflicted.

I stumbled across a plaque in front of the Grand Chancellor Hotel, one of the swankier establishments on Davey Street on the Hobart waterfront, recognising Flynn’s contribution to cinema – right up there with the opening of the Cadbury Chocolate Factory.

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Flynn’s Tassie childhood is acknowledged by the Tasmanian Tourist Bureau with a walking tour dedicated to houses, schools, and churches attended by a young Flynn. One of the buildings that forms part of the University bears the name of Flynn Senior, a renowned marine biologist in the day. The brochure isn’t always in print and I had to rely on a document from ten years ago. It does provide an interesting look into life in this very southern capital over a century ago with much of the housing unchanged. What I would give for a peek into some bathrooms and kitchens, as I have on good authority that chip heaters are still in use in some homes.

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A parkland in Sandy Bay has been renamed to honour Flynn, and includes a truly dreadful artwork which is supposed to be reminiscent of the actors days in Hollywood. Talk about devaluing property prices!

The State Theatre, at 375 Elizabeth Street, North Hobart, opened as a venue for cultural events in 1913 and has an iconic Star on the footpath commemorating Errol, planted firmly by his daughter, Rory, on the occasion of his 100th birthday in 2009.

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My totally unexpected Flynn find was a result of ambling through the colonial grazing communities in the Tasmanian midlands. No publicity whatsoever. The Kentish Arms Hotel, in High Street, Oatlands, was first licensed in 1834 and is in dire need of a coat of paint, or two or three. As in many rural communities the pub has had to diversify to survive and so what was previously the lounge has become the TKO Bakery and Cafe with a repaint job. The meeting room is full of lobby cards for boxing movies – which is presumably the TKO reference, the public bar and bathroom facilities are covered in Monroe posters, and the Cafe is full of Errol Flynn posters. Hundreds of them. And did I mention the boom camera from Robin Hood?

Morning tea was a pleasant enough experience with fresh scones and the warmth of a wood heater. Unfortunately, my attempts to quizz staff about the collection fell on deaf ears. One out of ten for my Interrogation Skills. One out of ten for the Staffs graduation from Charm School.

There is an old Irish proverb about cats and kittens which I am unable to repeat here. Just note that I will pursue this further. A boom camera would not only enhance my tv room, there is the possibility of replacing the garden gnomes in the front yard.

Despite wading through numerous bookstores across the Island – it’s a dirty job but someone has to do it – not one Errol related book.

Tassie seems to have an odd love/hate relationship with this Tasmanian Devil.

Serendipity, Country Towns and Errol Flynn

I’m putting it down to another serendipitous moment in my life. There have been a few over the years.

Currently travelling around our beautiful Island State of Tasmania I deviated from the coast today, opting to travel through the midlands, past rural towns full of colonial history including convict settlements, bush rangers, and the decimation our Indigenous people. The midlands is also prime agricultural country and I have enjoyed mooing and baa-ing at the spring calves and lambs, and whatever noise baby alpacas make.

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This means that a Devonshire Tea in a country town was mandatory. Population less than 400 look what I found in a Cafe in a wee township with nothing but old buildings, history, and sheep in the pastures.

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Let’s just say I was a tad excited.

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Hobart, Tassie’s capital city, is the birth place of Flynn. When I return home I will share my finds….

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”.

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Full Moon, Do You Think?

It’s mid winter Down Under which makes for great reading weather. These two news items grabbed my attention during the week, providing such big belly laughs that I thought I would share.

Australia does not exist.

https://theculturetrip.com/pacific/australia/articles/some-people-think-australia-doesnt-exist-heres-why/

It’s official : Sean Connery was the best Robin Hood.

https://www.nottinghampost.com/news/local-news/its-official-sean-connery-best-1635532

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Putting it down to a full moon.

20th June, 1909

This time nine years ago I flew into Hobart, the capital of Tasmania. Now some of you may be shaking your heads in wonder that anyone would travel to Tassie in the heart of winter. Located 240 km to the south of the Australian mainland, and separated by Bass Strait, Tassie is simply beautiful with an abundance of magnificent scenery. It can also be wretchedly cold.

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But my trip nine years ago had nothing to do with tourism or recreation. You see, I was a girl on a mission.

This day, nine years ago, Hobart celebrated what would have been Errol Flynn’s 100th Birthday, being the township of his birth.(An aside : some would argue commiserate rather than celebrate as young Errol was a bit of a lad and upset many of the boring, old farts of Hobart. Tassie, being the Island that holds the six degrees of separation true is still home to many with a grudge).

Although Hobart couldn’t be any further away from Hollywood Errol’s daughter from his marriage to Nora Eddington, Rory Flynn, was in town to share the celebrations.

I won’t bore you with the details. I am sure that none of you would have been mesmerised by a pair of Flynn’s woollen swimming trunks being exhibited in the Hobart Museum, nor interested in the star laid in the footpath outside the local theatre. Okay, so I admit to being a tad eccentric……..

However, one of my favourite memories was an evening shared with my 23 year old daughter (proving that eccentricity must be genetic), watching a 1938 black and white movie on the big screen. Drinking champagne.

The Dawn Patrol is one of my favourite Flynn movies, which also starred Basil Rathbone and David Niven. Major Brand (Basil Rathbone), the commander of the 59th division of the British Royal Flying Corps in 1915 France, is frantic over the many casualties his squadron has suffered. When Captain Courtney (Errol Flynn) and his buddy Scott (David Niven) lose another of their best friends in a dangerous mission, Courtney lashes out at Brand, who hands Courtney the reins. Now in control, Captain Courtney soon sees things from Brand’s perspective as more good men are killed in the line of duty.

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Of course there is all the usual melodrama, and all the baffoonery expected between Errol and Niven, though for a movie with a message, a movie with a tragic ending, it was the simple joy of watching such an old flick together that gave us both much pleasure. And the champagne, of course.

So on 20th June, 2018, “here’s looking of you, kid”. Oops. Wrong movie.

Mid Year Update.

A friend is currently travelling across France and posted this beautiful photo of Poppies growing wild in the fields. Aren’t they just beautiful?

I recently planted my second lot of 2000 Poppy seeds to be in full bloom for Armistice Day. 100 per cent Fail Rate, second time in a row. The long dead Depression parents must be watching over me. I can hear “ Pet, if you can’t eat it, we don’t grow it” in my head.

 

FCE36840-0603-43FD-B500-FAE037479E4DAs of today’s date I have finished 60 books this year. Another dozen or so were started, but dismissed as trash. Life is too short for Trash.

Here is my haul from the latest book charity sale. $5 well spent, don’t you think?  Well, closer to $20 when you take into consideration raffle tickets and Girl Guide Biscuits.

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The Little Street Library is starting to get a few visitors, with locals both contributing and borrowing books.It looks like some of our littlest readers are having fun:

Only one book left to complete the 2018 Australian Author Challenge. Four years ago I could have named only a handful of successful authors from my own country. This Challenge has motivated me to read and appreciate more Aussie literature, and not just by those few making a good living out of it. It has also allowed me to track my reading habits – with not a wretched spreadsheet insight – which has in turn encouraged the reading of different genres. (Is that personal growth? And aren’t I too old to care?).

Local author, Daniel O’Malley, a friend of my youngest daughter, who I very courageously reviewed here recently, (courageously because he writes “ Sci Fi, Fantasy, with a dash of Monty Python” !!) has recently had his book, Rook, picked up by the BBC for conversion to a television series. Good job, young Dan!

Another of my projects is creating a list of authors that will encourage me to read an author from every country in 2019. I’m thinking an A – Z thing.

The Christmas in July Trivia Night is coming along ok although getting bums on seats can be a pain in the posterior. (Collective groan). It is a fundraiser for Wounded Heroes, an organisation which assists our exservice men and women when they need a hand up. The Country Women Association, those great purveyors of scones, jam and cream, are on board to cook Roast Lamb and veg and Apple Crumble for 150. Wish you all lived closer….

And a development in the She-Shack…….

Since downsizing 18 months ago I don’t have the same wall space to place my bibs and bobs.  Now I have an easel which will allow a rotating display. It’s my very own Peggy Gluggenheim Museum.

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It is winter now and I am loving it, though just like grizzley bears, I do tend to go into hibernation.
Continue reading “Mid Year Update.”

A Week Of Anniversaries…..

It has been a massive week.

Firstly, eighty years since the release of The Adventures of Robin Hood, or more affectionately, TAORH, featuring Errol Flynn.

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Reason enough for a glass of bubbles, don’t you think?

Seventy five years since the Dambusters Raid.

I have never been one to have a Bucket List. The Depression parents taught me that if it was earned, and if you could pay cash for it, then enjoy it whilst you can. After all, “ you’re a long time dead”. So the newly opened Bomber Command Centre in Lincolnshire  is on my To Do List For 2019, before I get to that stage where all that sitting on the long flight kills me.

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So,  another bubbles down the hatch.

The annual Anywhere Theatre Festival is currently engulfing Brisbane. Song, dance, mime, plays, puppetry – all being performed in the strangest of places : Cafes, theatre spaces, pubs, parklands, the parking lots of shopping centres, and the back gardens and porches of the general public. I enjoyed a performance in an old water reservoir, 20 metres underground.

And for all those who poohbah the cost of theatre, tickets are generally the same price as coffee and cake for two! Just bite the bullet and be surprised.

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Of course I had a bubbles.

Lastly, young Harry and the American lass with the family  that keeps on keeping on. Not a royalist, and also have concerns about the massive amount of money that could be spent elsewhere, but never is…….

But you know what ? In amongst the school shootings, the political rubbish spouted by our leaders, the corruption of the banking sector and our local governments, and the growth of both homelessness and ice addition, sometimes  this old girl needs to believe in happy everafters. Even if she know she doesn’t believe, it is sometimes comforting to pretend.

So be it : more bubbles and cucumber sandwiches tonight.  Sometimes you just have to grab your joys where you can 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

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Mother’s Day 2018

It’s Mother’s Day in Australia this weekend.

I was going to rant about the commercialisation of this date on the calendar and how these days have become mere marketing tools. But I am mellowing as I get older, so instead I will share some fun things.

First of all, my gift through the post from my youngest daughter, who writes Government policy for a living. WARNING : if you are feint hearted – don’t look.

A card from the eldest daughter thanked me for “ teaching us all the important things in life, like how to make a platter, the Hollywood Classics, and the best reads. Thankyou also for sharing with us your love of music and introducing us to Carole King”.

Platters. My kids were brought up on platters : good food, good wine, good social skills whilst grazing. What could be better? Here is a recent Easter platter.

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The Hollywood Classics. Some people have replicated Monet’s on their walls – I’ve always had Errol Flynn lobby cards. Now both kids have a collection that rivals mine, with one owning a collection of singing Bing Crosby dolls. I kid you not. They’ve both told me that everything but my Errol’s is going to the dump when I’m dead.

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Books. Because we all live in different parts of the country the youngest instigated a book club amongst the three of us, so each time we met up for a long weekend, we would sit around a champagne breakfast on the Sunday chatting about the designated book. This went really well for several years until the eldest nominated Book 1 of Game of Thrones. 1052 pages. I can remember the battle to get through each and every page. What a struggle, but mother can’t let the side down, can she? So, when we finally get to discuss this epic, number 2 intelligently discusses themes,
comparative history lessons, politics and feminism. I am gobsmacked but manage to comment. Number 1? Informs us she watched the television version instead.

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Music. Soothes the soul and suits all moods. My father eased each loss with music, as have I. Music has also been celebratory which I have shared with both daughters. Music and Theatre. Expensive interests, but “you’re a long time dead”. ( Thank you, Father Bear, for my mantra) . After our recent Queen with Adam Lambert Concert we made a pact to travel anywhere in the world to be at their last ever concert. Brian May is looking so damn good that might be another fifty years down the track.

So Happy Days to all mums and dads, grandparents, uncles and aunts, sisters and brothers, and all those who have had a hand in shaping our younger ones. With the grey hair comes the great memories.

Oh, and I’m off to see Beautiful, The Carole King Story.

PS I still have no grey hair.