Sunflower seeds from the Ukraine

Sunflower Seedlings…Lessons in Kindness.

This morning, I carefully packaged the sunflower seedlings up into a protective box. It wasn’t Fort Knox but they looked safe, especially once I’d strapped them into the back seat with a seat belt. I know this might sound over the top and I don’t know if you can be a helicopter parent to plants. However, if you’ve been following the progress of the sunflower seeds, you’ll know these aren’t any ordinary sunflowers. These sunflowers seeds came from the site of the MH17 crash in the Ukraine in 2014. They’re incredibly precious!


That’s also why they were in my car.I wanted to share their story with my daughter’s class. Miss goes to school 45 minutes drive away from home and with my “creative” approach to driving, that was a very long journey up along the free and through bumper-to-bumper peak hour  traffic. Slam on the brakes…ouch.

Hence the seat belt!! Moreover, you could say the cardboard box was somewhat like one of those protective car seats you sit your toddler in. I wanted them to be so safe, that I could’ve bought a Volvo.


The Sunflower Seedlings.

Of course, I could’ve left the sunflower seedlings safely at home but I felt there was something bigger at stake. That I didn’t need to wait until the flowers actually bloomed to share their message of kindness, love and reaching out even to complete strangers when tragedy strikes. That we all start out as seeds and with love, care and nutrients and we can grow up into someone gorgeous and productive, giving our seeds back to the earth, feeding the animals and helping to wipe away the dark clouds by simply being ourselves…nothing flash. I also thought of the teachers who were onboard and how they sowed those metaphorical seeds into so many students, who went on to carry their message forward. BUT…then I also think of all those beautiful passengers whose lives were tragically cut short…every day people who were just coming home from holidays. Of course, I think of the Maslin family who lost their three beautiful children and have created a foundation to raise money for children with dyslexia. I want to help sow those seeds too. After all, words are seeds and being able to read is something most of us take for granted.

So, as I watched the sunflowers poke their heads through the soil, I came to realise that  just the fact that the seeds had sprouted, was enough for them to speak. Tell their story.

The sunflower is extraordinary and I’ve always had a connection with them but not in the same way I have now.

In August 2014, commercial flight MH17 was shot down by terrorists in the Ukraine killing everyone on board. That plane which bore the brunt of so much anger and hate, crashed into a stunning field of sunflowers, a coincidence not lost on the media. Photos and footage appeared of the ugly scar carved into the sunflowers’ heart and photographer said that the sunflowers even turned their faces away from the wreckage.

Paul McGeough is the Sydney Morning Herald’s Senior Foreign Correspondent specialising in the Middle East. He’s accustomed to reporting on horrific events around the world, the same way the rest of us eat toast for breakfast. “When most people are running away from a place, photographer Kate Geraghty can usually be found running towards it.” Yet, they were guttered by what they saw and felt drawn to bring sunflower seeds back to Australia from the crash site to give to the families and friends of the victims.  They wanted to give them something to remember and honour their loved ones who weren’t soldiers fighting in a war. There weren’t going to be any medals. They were just everyday people going on a holiday.

Nothing more, nothing less.

The children making the love hearts.

Our children making the hearts cards we sent out. They look quite young now.

I received about 40 seeds and decided to share them with our local schools to create some kind of ongoing tribute of legacy for those who died.  However, I was too anxious to plant the seeds last year but I planted the first lot of seeds ten days ago and six have sprouted.

Of course, the seedlings arrived safely at school and I ended up sharing them with my daughter’s class and a year 6 class.  I also shared the letter I’d received with them wishing”May your sunflowers bloom” and the photo of the original plant in the Ukraine. I also had one of our red hearts stuck in there.

It was a simple story with a few precious props but the kids were riveted, sitting still and absorbing it all and asking questions at the end. I spoke to them about the kindness of the journalist and photographer salvaging the seeds and bringing them back to Australia via quarantine. I spoke about how we can feel powerless when someone is going through hardship and that though we can’t change anything, we can show we care through little things like a card. I also spoke about the importance of learning and literacy. Many of the Australians killed had been teachers and a little boy from Perth, Otis, had dyslexia and his family has set up a fund to raise money for dyslexia. I wanted them to appreciate that you can plant a plain, ordinary seed and when you nurture that seed, it can grow into something big, bold and colourful.

You can tell kids to be kind, keep their hands and feet to themselves, watch their language, and you might be lucky to see some change.However, I know these kids were changed by this story…a very simple story of plucking, sowing and nurturing the seeds  and I can’t wait to witness the harvest.

It is my hope that these sunflowers and their story will truly honour all those whose lives were tragically cut short through anger and hate and somehow carry their legacy forward.

While sowing a few seeds might not seem monumental and the sort of thing you’d ever expect to change the world, but I strongly believe they can!

Hearts Ettalong

They’re sowing the seeds in our hearts!

xx Rowena




Rainbow Bike & the Bookshop…Weekly Smile

Last Thursday, while I was being led astray by detour after detour after detour, I felt a strong twitch which turned into something of a magnetic pull and before I knew it, I was inside yet another bookshop.

Yikes! There’s something about bookshops for me, which is like the call of the wild and I am absolutely powerless to stay away. Like the children being lured away by the Pied Piper of Hameln, I am always lured in,. Moreover, shame upon shame upon shame, I almost never leave empty handed. Resistance is futile. It’s beyond my control.

Anyway, last Thursday I went on a bit of an “excursion”. To be exact, it started the moment I left the doctor’s surgery in St Leonards when instead of catching the train North towards home, I jumped platforms and was soon click clacketting my way across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, through the city and alighting at Kings Cross Station. From there, I explored the Anne & Otto Frank Exhibition at the Sydney Jewish Museum and then took a right and stumbled across Darlinghurst Gaol, which is now the National Art School. Struck by it’s imposing sandstone architecture, I HAD to explore it further especially as I had my camera with me. Before long, I was in Surry Hills, my usual stomping ground.

That’s where I stumbled across The Oscar & Friends Bookshop.

Well, in terms of budget control and not spending any money, I kept stumbling over.

Or, you could look at it on the bright side and say I only bought two books. One is a gift for my brother so I won’t give it away but the book, which I bought for myself, was very pertinent:

Tim Harwood’s Messy: How to Be Creative & Resilient in a Tidy-Minded World.


‘Utterly fascinating. Tim Harford shows that if you want to be creative and resilient, you need a little more disorder in your world. It’s a masterful case for the life-changing magic of cluttering up’ – Adam Grant

Ranging expertly across business, politics and the arts, Tim Harford makes a compelling case for the creative benefits of disorganisation, improvisation and confusion. His liberating message: you’ll be more successful if you stop struggling so hard to plan or control your success. Messy is a deeply researched, endlessly eye-opening adventure’ – Oliver Burkeman

Now, I know that when you’re a bit quirky and spend your life swimming against the flow, you can get rather excited when you finally find someone who agrees with your point of view…AT LAST!! Indeed, given the thrill of finding a so-called published expert supporting your long held philosophical stance when you’ve been as a lone ranger on a tiny Pacific atoll,  is such a relief that you don’t even question whether the author’s legit. Indeed, here’s finally the proof you’ve always been looking for that messy desks beat tidy desks. Yippee!

Anyway, as you might gather finding Tim Harford’s book is a good enough reason to smile.

However, as I’m leaving the bookshop, I spotted a bicycle, which had been painted in luscious rainbow colours and I was in heaven.


Indeed, I thought about riding that rainbow bike right up into the sky and into the heavens. That was, until I spotted the very secure bike chain.

While everyone has their own perspective of what rainbows mean to them, I love all the bright colours and how rainbows are formed by that mingling of sun and rain which must be viewed from the correct angle in what must be a fusion of magic and science.

Rainbows make me smile.

Hmm…and now thanks to Tim Harford I can ignore all the crap on my desk until my keyboard gets buried again and a rescue mission is required.

What has made you smile this week?

This has been part of The Weekly Smile hosted by Trent’s World. You can click on the linky here to check it out.

xx Rowena



Weekend Coffee Share 23rd october, 2016.

Welcome to another Weekend Coffee Share.

You’re just lucky that it rained. Otherwise, you’d be joining me in a tent camping at the Scout Hall right on the waterfront.

That said, I still haven’t decided whether I was lucky or unlucky the weather saved me from camping. While I was looking forward to giving camping a go and sleeping metres from the water, I did get cold feet which had nothing to do with the rain! I’ve now decided I should start off with camping in the backyard where everything but the camping is familiar.

How was your week?

Now, that we’ve established that we’re not roughing it, can I offer you a more civilised beverage than billy tea? In case you don’t know what billy tea is, that’s tea made in a tin pot over the camp fire.

Last week, was really hectic for me. There were a couple of tough, difficult days for my son, which have come good but they were incredibly stressful and we are still concerned about him. He is 12.5 years old and in his first year of high school and I guess that says it all. He has taken up sailing so hopefully that will provide him with a relaxing outlet to get him through the swirling vortex of pubescence. I might need to take it up too, although writing and photography are my outlets.

Thursday, I had a medical check-up in Sydney and as usual, I went off the grid afterwards. I went to the Sydney Jewish Museum to see an exhibition about Anne Frank and also a collection of letters from Otto Frank, which he’d sent to an Australian and a New Zealander who’d written to him after reading Anne’s diary. That was fantastic. Here’s the link.

After going to the exhibition, I started walking towards Surry Hills and Central Station. En route, I stumbled across  Darlinghurst Gaol, which has been the National Art School for some time. The old sandstone architecture was very striking and intriguing and I could sense the stories hovering in the air…and a few ghosts.

I love Surry Hills and stopped there for afternoon tea, wandered through Salvo store there and a bookshop, which had a stunning rainbow-coloured bicycle parked out the front. I could almost picture myself riding it but am not so sure. It is very rainbow.


I also saw some fabulous Street art in Surry Hills:


Saturday, I went down to the Scout Hall to join in with the fishing, which largely involved me taking photos and watching a few of the kids. In retrospect, I realise that I should’ve had a few lessons myself as I have no idea how to cast off and so was of little help to the kids. The kids caught a few undersized whiting and bream which were thrown back after photographs were taken but one boy managed to catch a flounder, which was exciting…not a common fish. I also spent considerable time following mother duck and her ducklings with one of the cubs. The ducklings were adorable!



Our Daughter Fishing.


ducklings and mother duck.JPG

Australian ducklings with mother duck.

Meanwhile, last Sunday we finally planted 12 of the sunflower seeds salvaged from the MH17 crash site in the Ukraine. You would be so proud of how lightening fingers here is looking after those precious seeds. A week later, seven out of the twelve seeds I planted have sprouted but one had it’s top nipped off. I am moving them out in the the sun outside every morning and then bringing them back in at night and watering them with a spray bottle. My other half-dead plants are complaining of preferential treatment as they continue to experience neglect but I have to ensure these sunflowers not only survive but also produce a bumper crop of seeds, which don’t get eaten by the birds either! It’s a big job!


Anyway, I’d better head off and start getting ready for another week. It’s now Sunday afternoon and Monday morning is just around the corner.

Hey, just wondering, if I turn back and go round the other corner, does that mean I’ll go back to Saturday and get another weekend? After all, it makes perfectly logical sense. If only this were possible, I might just be ready for another week. What do you think?

Anyway, thanks for catching up and I hope you’ve had a great week and an enjoyable weekend.

This has been part of the Weekend Coffee Share run by Diana over at Part-Time Monster and you can read the other posts by clicking here on the Linky.

Love & Best Wishes,






Wandering into Darlinghurst Gaol, Sydney…

Continuing further along my meanderings through inner Sydney, I stumbled across Darlinghurst Gaol, which is now posing as the National Art School. Is it a coincidence that these art students are creating within the walls of a former prison? I’m not sure but society has often locked up it’s most innovative thinkers. Indeed, Australian poet Henry Lawson himself was locked up within these walls back in the day.


Anyway, you’ll be pleased to know that I wandered into Darlinghurst Gaol and wandered straight out again.


This photo was taken in the tunnel leader into the chapel.

Perhaps, you might think they’ve made a huge mistake. That they should’ve locked me up and thrown away the key. Some days, I truly wouldn’t mind. After all, if that’s what it takes to get a bit of peace and quiet, I’ll lock myself up any day. I’m sure you know what I mean. We’ve all been there!


Old and New Stand Side by Side.

As I said, I was  wandering through Eastern Sydney starting out at Kings Cross Station and walking along Darlinghurst Road to the Sydney Jewish Museum. Then, I turned the corner and saw a high and continuous sandstone wall. Although I don’t get down to this part of Sydney very often, I knew it must’ve been Darlinghurst Gaol. While it closed as a gaol back in and is now the National Art  School, it had some high profile inmates back in the day. Poet Henry Lawson spent a bit of time there, calling it Starvinghurst Gaol. A few notable bushrangers were  inmates of Darlinghurst Gaol:

  • Thomas and John Clarke – bushrangers from the upper Shoalhaven in south-east New South Wales, hanged on 25 June 1867.
  • John Dunn – Australian bushranger, member of Ben Hall‘s gang, hanged in the gaol on 19 March 1866.
  • John Vane[3] – bushranger from Carcoar in Central Western New South Wales. Johnny Vane was member of Ben Hall‘s gang.
  • Frank Gardiner – Australian bushranger and mastermind of the Forbes gold escort robbery at Eugowra on 15 June 1862 (sentenced to 32 years, but pardoned early).
  • Andrew George Scott – known as Captain Moonlite, Irish-Australian bushranger.

Watercolour of the Gaol by inmate Henry Louis Bertrand, 1891

Construction on Darlinghurst Gaol wall began in 1822 and finished in 1824 using convict labour. However, due to a lack of funds, the site sat empty for 12 years. Construction of the rest of the complex did not begin until 1836, with completion of some of the cell blocks in 1840. The gaol was ready for occupation a year later, with the first prisoners occupying the gaol on 7 June 1841.


The gaol was finally completed in 1885. The main material used for construction of the gaol is Sydney sandstone, cut into large blocks by convicts. Convict markings on the blocks are visible along the upper half of the wall on Darlinghurst Road. A tall circular chapel stands in the middle of the site, around which are sited the six rectangular cell blocks in a radial fashion.

The Mortuary.

The site was transferred in 1921 to the New South Wales Department of Education, who adapted the building for use as the East Sydney Technical College. The National Art School was established in 1995 and is now the sole occupant of the site. The Darlinghurst Road side of the Gaol, (commonly known as “the wall”) was for many years a popular place for male prostitutes to offer their services.

I have to ask if it’s a coincidence that the National Art School is housed in a former gaol? After all, doesn’t society like to lock up those who think outside the square and who better than artists and creatives!


The guard at the gate told me that there was a tunnel from the courthouse to the gaol and so I wandered round there and took some photos. The architecture is just begging to be photographed and is, as I’ve heard said: “very instragramable”. That is if you’re on Instagram.

Stumbling across the gaol was a reminder of the chance finds you come across when you explore a place on foot. I had a great uncle who was particularly well-travelled for his day. He used to say that if you wanted to know a city, you needed to walk around it on foot. He was so right and he was in great company with these minds:

“What strange phenomena we find in a great city, all we need do is stroll about with our eyes open. Life swarms with innocent monsters.”
― Charles Baudelaire

“There is nothing like walking to get the feel of a country. A fine landscape is like a piece of music; it must be taken at the right tempo. Even a bicycle goes too fast.”

-Paul Scott Mowrer

However, as much as I love walking around the inner city exploring every nook and cranny, time was not my friend. Mum was minding my kids and I really had to get home. So, after already deviating via the Anne Frank Exhibition and Darlinghurst Gaol, I was now Cinderella at 5 minutes to midnight.  I  needed to hot foot it to Central Station via Surry Hills to catch the train home.

Well, maybe just one last detour. After walking out of gaol, I wandered into a chocolate shop. Just goes to show that it doesn’t take much to lead me astray!

Now, it’s time to get on with the weekend!

xx Rowena



Beyond Anne Frank…Her Father’s Gift to the World.

Yesterday, I visited the Sydney Jewish Museum to see two overlapping exhibitions: Anne Frank- A History for Today and Otto Frank’s Lost Letters. This was naturally a deeply moving experience and it was wonderful to recapture the intimacy I shared with Anne Frank as a 13 year old and revisit it now as Mum to my  13.5 year old son and almost 10.5 daughter, who are about to step into her shoes.


As a writer, it always interests me how we hear a story from a certain perspective and then we rediscover the story completely when we see it through someone else’s eyes. After all, when you read The Diary of Anne Frank, you are drawn completely into her world, her perspective, her heartbeats. We know nothing about how the rest of the people in the annexe saw her.

Otto Frank is the only survivor and the best one  to provide that outside insight into Anne . He said:

“For me, it was a revelation. There, was revealed a completely different Anne to the child that I had lost. I had no idea of the depths of her thoughts and feelings.”

Otto Frank

As much as we revere Anne Frank through her diary, her father is has a different, but equally important. After all, he had it published and gave it to the world when he could have locked it away in a drawer. This was all her had left of his precious daughter…along with his wife and older daughter, Margot. However, he shared it with the world and gave millions, upon millions a precious soul mate who knew them intimately in ways we couldn’t even express to ourselves. She is the voice of the misunderstood teenager, the Jewish people, the oppressed, the writer and much more.

Envelope to Otto Frank.jpg

Anyway, following the publication and subsequent translation of Anne Frank’s Diary, young people wrote letters to Otto Frank  and he replied. Although copies of the letters he received have been retained by the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, he didn’t keep copies of his own letters. So, in 2015, a world-wide search began and the Australian Jewish Museum located two Australian women who had written to Otto and had kept his treasured replies…Diana Munro and Anne Finlayson. Indeed, Otto Frank became quite close to Anne and called her the “Other Anne” and they met several times, becoming good friends.


So after getting off the train and slowly walking along Darlinghurst Road taking photos, I arrived at the Jewish Museum. I have never been there before. I’m immediately struck by how this isn’t like your average museum. It’s more like a home, a definite Community Centre and no doubt a sacred place for Jewish people. It is cared for, loved and polished. As I said, I felt like I was being invited into someone’s home and made very, very welcome.

The exhibitions are upstairs and I’m conscious of time pressures because Mum is minding my kids and I wasn’t supposed to be detouring after my medical appointment. So, I’m trying to make sure I see and absorb Otto Frank’s letters and return to see rest. Yet, the exhibition of letters from the Holocaust attracts my attention and I had a quick look.

Back to Otto Frank…

There is correspondence between Otto Frank and a young New Zealander, Diana Munro and Australian, Anne Finlayson. The letters on both sides are incredibly deep and philosophical and you get to know just a bit of who Otto Frank was as a person, Anne Frank’s father and also someone determined to make the world a better place for the future, fight against the sins of the past.

While I could’ve typed these quotes up and prettied them up a bit, these are photos I took at the exhibition. I particularly wanted to share these with Merril Smith from Merril’s Historical Musings to thank her for telling me about the exhibition and I felt very much like we were there together and had a coffee and chat afterwards.


What I noticed first about Otto Frank’s letters was that they were typed. His typewritten letters instantly reminded me of my grandfather’s typed Christmas newsletters and their different circumstances. The type also places his letters in the past, in a different era and they feel special.

In addition to reading the letters, there was an excellent exhibition about Anne Frank’s life, the Holocaust and the secret annexe. This was a great refresher for me as it’s been 25 years since I visited her house in Amsterdam.

Since I visiting the exhibition, I’ve found that if you speak to ten different people about how The Diary of Anne Frank has touched their hearts, you could easily get ten different answers… all valid.


A replica of Anne Frank’s Diary on display.

That’s because in this complex diary commenced on her 13th Birthday, we each find something that relates to us in such a personal, intimate way. It’s like she’s peering deep into the inner-most secret passages of our soul, speaking out the cryptic writing on the wall and somehow made sense of it all. She has a clarity of vision which is astounding in anyone and I’m not going to put down young people by saying they can’t see more clearly than adults because so often they can.

Australian author, Jackie French said in conversation with Yotam Weiner, Education Manager, Sydney Jewish Museum:

“It is so easy to think of people who suffer, or have suffered, as other than ourselves. The very magnitude of the Holocaust means that single voices can be lost. Anne’s words make it personal. It is so very easy to lose track of major events in history. There are many to remember. It is much harder to forget the voice of Anne. Anne has been my companion, perhaps, for the forty six years since I read her book.”

So, if you’re interested in seeing these  exhibitions, you will need to hurry into the Sydney Jewish Museum. The exhibition closes mid-November.


xx Rowena

You might also enjoy reading about our vigil commemorating the 70th Anniversary of Anne Frank’s death last year:


Advance to King’s Cross Station, Sydney.

“You will never hear a lawn mower in Kings Cross and that, for many of us, is entirely a sufficient reason to live here. Give me sirens any day.”

Anne Summers: “In the Gutter … Looking at the Stars. A Literary Adventure Through Kings Cross (Edited by Mandy Sayer and Louis Nowra)”


Following an  appointment in Sydney today, you could say I was lured off by the pixies. By the way, this is a rather common scenario whenever I have appointments in Sydney. I love going off the grid, wandering into other worlds and exploring through my camera lens which gives me vision, not simply sight. As a mother of two gorgeous children and host to a few medical annoyances, I also love going, doing, being myself without anyone else in tow. Or worse still, towing me off somewhere else.

Darlinghurst Road.JPG

I was able to go on today’s detour, as usual, because my mother was picking up the kids and I am incredibly thankful. Mind you, today’s detour was a bit of an indulgence because Mum hasn’t been well lately  and she made a point of saying: “Come straight home”. She knew I wouldn’t come straight home, but I did say I’d be home by 6.00 PM so she could get home early.

Today’s destination was an exhibition of letters by Otto Frank, the father of Anne Frank, at  the Sydney Jewish Museum in Darlinghurst.

Image result for Map Kings Cross Sydney

Kings Cross is on the left hand side where you’ll also find Darlinghurst, where the museum is located.

I caught the train to Kings Cross  Station and while walking along Darlinghurst Road into neighbouring Darlinghurst, I had my SLR camera with its huge and heavy zoom lens dangling around my neck. That is, when I wasn’t peering through it.


If you have read anything before about my relationship with my camera, you’ll already know that I see so much better through my camera lens. Or, even just when I have my camera with me. I’ll spot some teeny weeny detail and zoom into it, in a sense blowing it up into a world, filling the shot. It is all I see…this tiny piece of detail. It resonates so strongly with me in photography mode, yet I would’ve missed it looking through my own eyes. Walked straight past it.

So before I take you to the exhibition, I thought I’d take you on a brief photography tour from Kings Cross Station into Darlinghurst, which coincidentally, is where I was born.


You can see Sydney Tower in the Middle and the brown building on the left is where I used to work.

This is a view of Kings Cross by day, which I can assure you, is totally different from Kings Cross by night. Kings Cross is Sydney’s red light district. I have experienced the distinction between Kings Cross by day and Kings Cross by night personally. My first job after graduation was working for Dun & Bradstreet at 100 William Street. This was a very corporate job and if I worked back, I’d leave the office in my navy to suit to see a line up of “working girls” of a different sort lined up along William Street. Naturally I felt uneasy waiting for my boyfriend to pick me up after work…even though my knee-length blue suits put me in a different league.

I wonder where this door came from? It really intrigues me.

Other than working in Kings Cross for a year, it’s not a place I’ve spent a lot of time. That said, after clubbing we used to go to  Dean’s Cafe in Kellett Street which had exotic  lounges, a surreal fish tank the best nachos back when nachos were a thing. It was and remains a cosmopolitan, bohemian hangout a world away from Sydney’s conservative North Shore where I grew up.

While Kings Cross has attracted sleaze, drugs, crime and everything on the wrong side of the law, it’s also been a creative haven, particularly during the 1920s. POet Ketheth Sleesor lived there and wrote his famous poem about The Cross, William Street:

William Street

The red globe of light, the liquor green, 
the pulsing arrows and the running fire 
spilt on the stones, go deeper than a stream; 
You find this ugly, I find it lovely 

Ghosts’ trousers, like the dangle of hung men, 
in pawn-shop windows, bumping knee by knee, 
but none inside to suffer or condemn; 
You find this ugly, I find it lovely. 

Smells rich and rasping, smoke and fat and fish 
and puffs of paraffin that crimp the nose, 
of grease that blesses onions with a hiss; 
You find it ugly, I find it lovely. 

The dips and molls, with flip and shiny gaze 
(death at their elbows, hunger at their heels) 
Ranging the pavements of their pasturage; 
You Find this ugly, I find it lovely.

Kenneth Slessor.

St John’s Anglican Church, Darlinghurst Road, Darlinghurst.

In his essay  My Kings Cross Slessor reflected:

“For whatever happens to its landscape, Kings Cross will always be a tract apart from the rest of Sydney, still contemptuous of the rules, still defiantly unlike any other part of any other city in Australia. And, though its skyline keeps on changing in an unpredictable and bewildering way, its essence of individuality doesn’t change, its flavours, noises, sights and smells remain the same immutably. For this reason I find as much pleasure in contemplating it today as I did when I looked out of a Woolcott Street window in 1922- indeed with its unending flux of lights and colours and its gaudiness and reticence, its sunsets and midnights, it seems (to me) a good deal more beautiful than the highly advertised stones and sand of Central Australia. To me, the Chevron Hilton Hotel, with its glittering windows and huge verticals, is as awe-striking as Ayers Rock.”

He obviously loved Kings Cross!


I was quite surprised to find this  historic Georgian house at 207 Darlinghurst Road. Once known as “Omrah” and used as a private hospital, it now stands alone.

My thoughts are that you can find joy, beautiful, love, inspiration anywhere as love as your eyes are open. That is, the eyes of your heart. You just need to look, keep an open mind and not judge.

Have you ever been to Kings Cross by day? Perhaps, your Kings Cross is in London or somewhere else? I’d love to hear your G rated stories!

xx Rowena


I found this one way sign pointing back to St John’s Church rather amusing.

Sunflower seeds from the Ukraine

Sunflowers…Sowing the Seeds.

You wouldn’t believe how difficult it’s been for me to plant a few seeds.

That’s because these are no ordinary seeds.

These sunflower seeds were grown in Australian Quarantine from the seeds brought back from the MH17 crash site in the Ukraine.

You’ll no doubt recall MH17 was the Malaysian airlines flight, which was shot down over the Ukraine  on the 17 July, 2014.

Therefore, these seeds represent each precious individual whose life was tragically cut short through terrorism and war. More than that. They strangely represent hope. Hope that their legacy will gone on. A reminder that love conquers the grave and they won’t be forgotten. Faith that the goodness in people will triumph over the bad.

Personally, these seeds have come to have additional meaning about sowing goodness into our young people, especially the battlers, and helping them to grow up straight and tall on the inside.

Many of the Australians who died on board were teachers. Teaching isn’t just a job, it’s a vocation. It means having vision and seeing the sunflower blooming in each and every child…even before the seed has been planted. Ideally, that faith continues through the storms.That can be and usually is a very challenging, but also rewarding, thing.

The Maslin Family, who lost their three children in the crash, started a fundraiser in their memory for children with dyslexia. Their youngest son,Otis, had dyslexia and treatment is long term and expensive and so is diagnosis.

Putting all of these people together, the sunflowers for me came to mean giving kids who are struggling to read and learn that helping hand to do their best. Reading might always be difficult for them, but even if you can simply give someone the capacity to read, fill out forms and read the day to day stuff, it would change their world completely. It would set them free in ways those of us without dyslexia have never considered.

For some reason, this has become very important to me. It’s become my heart. Not because I’m a writer and I live, breath and devour words, but also because I know what it’s like to be on struggle street, not knowing if you’re ever going to get out.

Although quite different to dyslexia, I was born with hydrocephalus which went undiagnosed until I was 25. At that point, my neurological symptoms spiralled dangerously out of control. I couldn’t put my finger on my nose, was falling over a lot, forgetting the basics and getting the sequencing of basic tasks out of whack in a way that was almost funny if it wasn’t so disturbing. This increased pressure on my brain obviously wasn’t good.

Yet, I was lucky. I had surgery and had a shunt put in. Over time, most of my symptoms have eased and if it wasn’t for the auto-immune disease, I’d be back on my feet.

There is no surgery or quick fix to cure dyslexia and other learning difficulties. I guess that’s what I like about what the sunflowers represent. That you plant a small seed yet from that tiny thing,  big, bright happy sunflowers grow…yippee!!


On Sunday, a year after receiving the sunflowers, we planted 12 seeds in a seed planter and we had a little ceremony out on the back lawn, using an upside down laundry basket as a table. We had our stunning red climbing rose in full bloom as a backdrop. Nothing symbolises love more than a red rose other than a human heart.

If you would like to read about the sunflower seeds, click here

I was too anxious to plant the seeds last year. Actually, this wasn’t anxiety but more of a reality check. That’s because I am a serial plant killer and our front yard is currently littered with dead bodies following my most recent splurge. I always vow to change but my track record speaks for itself.


Mind you, sowing the seeds is only the beginning. Seeds don’t magically turn into sunflowers overnight. They require tender, loving care and that correct balance of wet and dry soil, sun and shade and exposure to the elements yet protection as well. My husband found the sunflower seeds inside the other day and said: “they’re meant to be sunflowers, not cave flowers”.


Initially watering the seeds in the kitchen sink. Overdid it a bit.

So, now I’m watering them with the spray bottle morning and night and have covered them with a sheet of plastic creating a mini greenhouse and am leaving them out in the sun by day.

It’s only been four days so far. So, still too soon to see any shoots poking their heads through the soil but I’m doing my absolute best to help them along.

I hope you will join me on this journey.

BTW if you would like to find out more about the Mo, Evie & Otis Foundation or donate, please click here: Maslins Set Up Dyslexia Fund.

xx Rowena