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.

It’s On Sale.

Two news headlines grabbed my attention this week:-

Australian man arrested for having sex with horse claims it ‘winked’ in consent.”

and

“The three little words women want to hear is not I Love You, rather It’s On Sale.

My shopping mantra is let’s get it over and done with. I do not window shop. I detest shopping centres. I have never in my life eaten a meal from an eatery in the middle of a food hall in a shopping mall. One of my proudest achievements really, right up there with never having watched a Star Wars movie nor ever owning any Tupperware.

When I visited the city markets last weekend my favourite DVD retailer, who has a personal collection of over 4000 movies, advised that he was hanging up his boots and doing the Grey Nomad thing, travelling around the country in his mobile home. He is selling off his movie collection and recommended that I write a list of my requirements.

It was at that moment that my eyes glazed over and I could hear nothing but the pumping of blood creeping around my own arteries.

Arghhhh, so this is how the sisterhood must feel when they hear the words “it’s on sale”……….

The Lifeline Bookfest affects me in much the same way. Four kilometres of preloved books piled up on trestle tables. It’s a beautiful thing.

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Meet Boof

So, 2018 is proving to be the year that I singlehandedly seem to be keeping local Air Transport companies in business. More airline travel booked.

Off to the beautiful Tasmania for a wedding in Spring. Yes, it’s only a wedding and we don’t have to do it. However, I am a firm believer in spending the money to enjoy people’s company when they are alive. No enjoying company when you are dead, so I don’t do Funerals.

Flights next month to the beautiful, and very cold (when it’s not stinking hot), Hunter Valley, which is prime wine producing country. Hmmm, I wonder how I can help boost that little economy along?

This time I will be visiting my eldest daughter and the Grandfurbaby, Bentley.

Both my daughters are independent, resilient, and in their own ways, quietly changing their worlds one ripple at a time. This child of mine is married to a military boy, affectionately known as Boofhead.

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They have been together for some years now, though their careers have kept them apart these past eighteen months with both operating out of different parts of the country. Their commitment to each other means that they have managed to meet in neutral cities to enjoy the occasional long weekend together as well as holidays. To be honest, it has made me wonder how the generation to which my parents belonged managed living apart, sometimes for years, during WW2…….

This time, however, circumstances mean that there won’t be any stolen weekends for sometime. My daughter is fine : she uses these times when her fella is abroad to learn new skills such as speaking Spanish, dance lessons, and restoring distressed furniture. I am visiting her not because she is in anyway distraught, but because she does make a superb cocktail and plays a fine hand of Scrabble.

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With this venture overseas it is I who am sad, not so much the daughter. I worry that my ploy not to be that kind of mother in law – c’mon, you know exactly the kind I mean, the gushy, clingy type forever encroaching into their lives – means that Boof doesn’t realise how much a part of my family he really has become.

When he does visit I do manage to cook one of his favourite meals, Oysters Kilpatrick, and even though the house retains the odour for days, I know he enjoys my barbecued garlic prawns.

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Heck, at a recent bookfest I even found a battered copy of Major Richard Winters’ (from Easy Company) autobiography which I gifted to the lad. Surely that scored me some brownie points! Yeah, okay, so I read it first…..

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I have enjoyed spending a holiday weekend with him, playing board games around a cheese platter, with lots of laughter and a reasonable share of Bubbles.

And I still feel sad about his leaving. I hope that by walking his dog, and by spoiling his wife, I will be indeed honouring him in some small way.( And my daughter’s Grasshoppers, another skill she gained during one of the deployments).

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I sent him a text just before he left for overseas. Stay safe and come home to some garlic prawns on the barbie. I hope it’s enough.

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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The Latest Trend In Book Shelf Placements. Yes or No?

Angela Mollard is an Australian journalist and social commentator. My youngest daughter alerted me to an article written by Mollard in the weekend paper.

The article opens with:

“LAST year when I planned to sell my house I had some stylists come in to make it look, well, stylish.
The first thing they did was pull all the books off my floor-to-ceiling shelves and stack them, with ruthless efficiency, in colour-coded piles.
Then they put them back on the shelves in little collections of colours with some of the books standing upright and others stacked horizontally.On top of the books they placed things from round the house — a globe, some colourful tiles from Mexico, a vintage camera, a photo of a sycamore pod and a bird’s nest I’d found under a tree in the front garden”.

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My youngest daughter is working her way through the 1001 Books To Read Before You Die List. Many of the books on the List are quite old and hard to come by. One of her greatest joys is ruffling through antiquarian book shops where she will happily lose an hour in pursuit of a title. Most of these books she keeps where they find their “forever home” on her bookshelves. Some, upon reading, go elsewhere.

My youngest is in the process of relocating and is currently living in a state of fear. You see, her elder sister, the semi professional renovator and lover of all things minimalist, is determined to run with the interior decoration of the new abode. I am ashamed to admit that she is a huge fan of colour coordinated book spines.

Mollard warns us that “ a British interior designer called Lauren Coleman recently stacked her books backwards with the spines to the wall in order to keep the colour palette of her living room “neutral”.

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What the heck?

I always thought you purchased a property on the basis of three things :

0. Position. Position. Position
0. Daggiest house in the best street
0. And It’s all about the “bones” of a house
0. Must be close to a variety of eateries and a decent dress shop.

So, I fibbed about that last one, but I do not lie when I share with you that no financial advisor ever told me to colour coordinate my book spines in order to pocket a little extra of the folding stuff in a sale.

Talk about a First World problem.

I am aware that my feet are firmly planted in another era, when indoor plants and macrame planters were on trend. What, they are back, did I hear you say?

That at least gives me hope that a bookshelf full of individuality and much loved reads will be back in favour in the not too distant future.

Today’s Pop Quiz:

Yes or No. Do you colour coordinate your book spines?

 

 

Bookfest Saves The Day

Two weeks back at the coal face and it feels like two months…..

There is a ray of sunshine however. Tomorrow marks the opening of the Lifeline Bookfest in Brisbane. Do you know what that means? Around about 4 kilometres of trestle tables covered in preloved books, DVDs, magazines, CDs, stationary, and jigsaw puzzles, all at bargain prices.

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All funds raised at the Bookfest support Lifeline and UnitingCare Community programs for individuals, families and children. In Queensland, UnitingCare Community runs Lifeline services such as Crisis Support Service and post-disaster Community Recovery Programs. Which means that if I overspend on the household budget there is no guilt, right?

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Bookfest runs for just over a week and everyday there are new books. I volunteered one year to replenish books in the evenings and it was a colossal task.

When my youngest daughter turned 16 I gifted her a copy of 1001 Books To Read Before You Die. This meant that out of necessity Bookfest each year became our first port of call. I became accustomed to my child dragging a suit case on wheels through the suburbs, on the train journey, and then weaving in and out of the aisles of the Brisbane Convention Centre.

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This daughter never minded losing five or six hours searching for her beloved books, and has since developed the techniques and reputation of a “spotter”. My other daughter tended to search for reading material in sprints : a ten minute dash down the aisle, off to a cafe, another ten minute amble looking at books, oh, must be time to eat.

These days, I find sifting through over a million books hard work. Still exciting, but hard, so I have an Action Plan.

Firstly, I head to the Biography section where I continue to look for anything Errol Flynn, though usually with limited success.

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Then it’s to the Military section where you tend to need to be more forceful and use your elbows with a bit more precision. That’s because there are some serious collector dudes who tend to hog this area. Not only do they hover, but they then tend to look at the books page by page, assessing a books value. If I wasn’t a pacifist I would advocate a good old fashioned hat pin. Despite the angst I tend to come away with a few treasures for myself and for friends with similar interests. The military s-i-l tends to score well.

Putting on a smiley face we brave the crowds and then search for novels to read on the daily train journey. Now that I’m browsing childless this is an easier task – no lists to work from. But this is when you find yourself taking defensive action from shopping trolleys, prams, suitcases, people with two book laden backpacks, straw baskets and 5,000 other bibliophiles.

Books tend to “speak” to me. Sounds bizarre, I know. I will slowly walk down half a dozen aisles, with no idea what I am looking for, and I will hear a whisper from somewhere on the tables saying “pick me, pick me”. Which I will do, twenty or thirty times.

By now, it’s about time to catch up with The Love Of My Life who will have been on the search for books with a Dragon on the front cover, anything reincarnation and past lives, CDs with music from the 70s (urggghhhh!), and half a dozen jigsaws.

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If we do meet up before the cash registers we will head off together to the Australiana section for some poetry or bush writing, and which will also give me the opportunity to dump some of my finds with him ( to pay for…..hahaha. Who said I was stupid?)

Bookfest is one of those events that you return to, year in and year out. With no Entry Fee it is quite common to return for a second shot at the prize. Not only is it an adventure, but it is always great to come away with some treasures. I will forever remember my book obsessed daughter sitting on the carpet in her bedroom surrounded by the dozens of books she had purchased from Lifeline Bookfest, much like a Little Person at Christmas surveying all their gifts.

Makes having gone to work for the past fortnight worth the while.

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Do you have anything like our Bookfest?

PS if you are interested to hear more about Lifeline Bookfest go here:

http://thegreatdayout.com.au/fun/lifeline-bookfest

 

Australian Author Challenge – 2018

For the third year running I have decided to participate in the Australian Author Challenge. This exercise is not about pushing myself to increase the number of books I read, but rather, to focus on writing by Australian Authors.

This Challenge has made me select books from genres I would generally not have considered reading – such as dystopian and YA – as well realise that I had a tendency to read books written by males. These days, thanks to this Challenge, Hannah Kent and Helen Garner are two Australian Authors from whom I am anxiously awaiting their next effort.

Sure, I have always been aware of the books on the Best Seller lists, and for many years these were the books I either purchased, borrowed or was gifted. Mostly, these have been overseas Authors. At this stage of the game I’m neither led by trends, what’s in fashion, nor what’s selling well, and that refers to life in general, not just the books with whom I choose to share a bedroom or a handbag.

These days there is a whole other market out there with the growth of self publishing and independent authors and bookstores.  From these avenues I have been fortunate to read some wonderful stories from varied genres including historical military fiction, travelogues, personal memoirs, and Second World War diaries. They may not have garnered the same publicity, nor made a Best Seller List, and they are never going to be transformed into a Hollywood Blockbuster, but they have been worthwhile and entertaining reads nonetheless. For the 2018 Australian Author Challenge I hope to explore more books from both these areas.

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The Aussie Author Challenge 2018, is now in it’s 9th year and is hosted by Booklover Book Reviews at:

http://bookloverbookreviews.com/reading-challenges/aussie-author-challenge-2018
“Whether you are a patriotic Australian, an aspiring or armchair tourist or simply an international reader wanting to discover some talented new authors and interact with like-minded readers, the Aussie Author Challenge could be for you!”

I have signed up for Kangaroo Level, which means my Challenge is to :

Read and review 12 titles written by Australian Authors of which at least 4 of those authors are female, at least 4 of those authors are male, and at least 4 of those authors are new to you; Fiction or non-fiction, at least 3 genre.

There are also Challenge levels requiring less reading. It would be great if some of the blogging community could also pick up an Aussie book or two. I’de love to hear your thoughts.

Off to the Library tomorrow. Is it odd to be excited?