Category Archives: Australia

Weekend Coffee Share…22nd June, 2019.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Apparently, today marks the Winter Solstice here in Australia, although in typical form where nothing is certain or guaranteed, the shortest day might actually fall either side of the anticipated date. So sad, too bad. This is when this little black duck is going to celebrate and all that entails is a sigh of relief that this freezing cold weather is about to head North. Tomorrow we’re looking at a minimum of 7ºC and a freezing maximum of 15 ºC. For those of you who are thrilled to experience these temperatures at the height of your Summer, I apologize for our inability to handle the cold. However, we do know how to handle the heat.

Catching up on the Weekend Coffee Share wasn’t all I missed last weekend, although we crammed a lot in resulting in a total rest on my part for a few days afterwards. Our daughter danced with her school at Starstruck in Newcastle. We went to the Matinee performance and caught up with my cousin and her daughter until we picked Miss up afterwards. Sunday, Miss and I were off to Sydney where she competed in the State Allschools Aerobics Championship. They did well but didn’t place. So, for better or worse, they’re not off to Nationals in Queensland. My best friend from school joined me to watch her compete and we also caught up for coffee and cake. So, while I can taking our daughter all over the countryside last weekend, I managed to catch up with close friends and made the most of it.

Thursday, my daughter and I were back on the audition trail. She auditioned for a climate change video in Sydney. She didn’t get through but we had a wonderful afternoon exploring Surry Hills which is one of my favourite escapes after medical appointments in Sydney which justify my going off the grid for a few hours. My Dad’s family settled around Surry Hills and Paddington from around 1850 through to around the 1930s. While they’ve left no footprints in the streets, a few of their former homes still stand and the family stove-making business at 90 Fitzroy Street is now a framing gallery.

For those of you who haven’t been to Surry Hills, it’s located about 3km from the Sydney CBD and is noted for it’s terrace houses, tree-lined streets and village atmosphere as well as it’s artistic and LGBTIQA communities. For a place in the midst of Australia’s New York, its friendliness and village feel, is very refreshing. People greet you with a smile. Have a bit of a chat and you might even find a dog or two keen to meet you as well. I’ve done a few blog tours through Surry Hills before. I can’t stop going back.

Here’s a link to our last trip to Surry Hills: Surry Hills Through The Lens

As it turned out, I forgot to pack my book for our day trip to Surry Hills. While my daughter and I might’ve chatted all the way on the train to and from Sydney, I realized she wasn’t going to be that chatty after her audition. I am not good at just sitting like a dodo staring at the wall for over an hour. So, we headed back up to Crown Street where I’d spotted a bookshop…salvation! I bought two books by Stephen Fry: Mythos and Heroes. I was hooked and my wallet was a lot lighter.

By the way, the book I was reading back home was Kate Grenville’s, The Secret River. I’ve had this book for awhile and should’ve read it ages ago, but you what it’s like with the book pile. There’s a lot of good intentions, wishful thinking and plans. Then, you spot another book out of left field and it jumps straight to the top of the queue. I don’t know about you, but I hesitate to relocate my book pile to the shelf, because I really do intend to read these books and know I’d never get through them once they were consigned to the shelf. In other words, the bookshelf is a death sentence. That explains why there are more book stacks in our place than a library.

All that aside, my biggest news from last week was that I’ve started a new blog to start building up a community around the book project. You can now also find me at The Shadow Hunter’s Quest. This is where I’m going to start posting stories about my family within their historical context while weaving my storyteller’s wand. I’ve picked up a lot of additional information and stories which I also thought I’d stick in this blog. I’m still ironing a few things out and will add a few more posts before I go for something of a launch. However, you’re welcome to pop over for a sneak peak. I’m planning to write a coffee share over there as well.

So, that’s enough about my week. How about you? What have you been up to? I’d love to hear from you!

This has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by  Eclectic Ali. We’d love you to pop round and join us.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

Doggy Doors, Surry Hills…Thursday Doors.

Welcome to Another Thursday Doors.

If you are looking for a way to torture your teenager that’s perfectly legal, take them on a doorscursion. It has a similar effect to trying to go for a run with a dog who has to stop and sniff every lamp post and everything in between. Indeed, I was given quite a lecture on the way home about how much quicker we would’ve been if we didn’t have to stop to take photos all the time. Of course, it was water off this photographer’s back. Until she’s old enough to get herself around, she’s stuck taking the slow road.

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As addition to photographing doors, I was spellbound by the Winter trees with their bare branches and crumpled leaves silhouetted against a pale blue sky. 

To be fair to the teenager, we were on the way to HER audition. However, we had allowed a few hours for cafe hopping and simply absorbing all that is Surry Hills. Besides, it’s not often they let me out and I was like a pig in mud unleashed with my camera soaking up the world through the lens. I love it and as I’ve said before, see so much better in  6 x 4.DSC_4360

Although I have some fabulous doors up sleeve, today I’m just sharing some photos of a few gorgeous pooches we spotted walking up Foveaux Street. Indeed, there were dogs everywhere we looked in Surry Hills and even many businesses had their resident pooch.

Anyway, I’m going to keep it short and sweet this week. Hope you’ve had a great week and I look forward to catching up.

Best wishes,

Rowena

PS Don’t mess with the dog in the featured image. If it doesn’t like you, it could well drop that heavy antique iron  in the background on your foot. 

 

 

Weekend Coffee Share10th June, 2019.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Thanks to the English Queen’s official birthday, we Australians on the other side of the world, have received a gratuitous public holiday. Although I take an interest in the royal family, I’m a Republican to the core. After all, we Australians are more than capable of standing on our own two feet and making our own Vegemite toast. That said, I’m not handing the holiday back.

Anyway, how was your week? I hope you’ve had a great one and have a few stories to tell.

It’s officially Winter here. However, the weather is quite variable from day to day.  This week there were a few truly miserable days where is was raining, freezing and gray without even a hint of sunshine, and the lot of us complained bitterly wondering what this dreadful beast called Winter is and what it’s doing here in the land of perpetual sunshine. Fortunately, the weather-makers got the message, because we then had a few glorious days of sunshine and we were all happy again. Our world was put right again.

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On Wednesday, I managed to get down to the beach for a walk and took my camera along just to ensure my heart rate didn’t increase to anything like the point where it could be considered aerobic exercise. While watching the waves roll in, I thought about all the generations of people who have arrived by boat upon these shores and come to call Australia home.

While this might seem a bit strange, I’ve been researching our first arrivals for my book. Our earliest arrived in 1808 only twenty years after the arrival of the first fleet. So, a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then. Arrivals by boat continue today and give our politicians much to discuss.

It’s funny how they fail to consider that the Aboriginal people weren’t happy when we landed on their shores and that those threatening spears might have been their way of saying: “Stop the boats”. While refugees need new homes and places of safety, my concerns turn more to the environment. There are way too many people on this planet and these population pressures are causing hosts of serious issues impacting on the survival of the planet. I had a bit of a wake up call on that front this week while writing a poem after my walk along the beach. They weren’t my thoughts. A random muse dropped them into my poem. However, once they were there, I couldn’t ignore them. A warning that our planet is more important than people. Coming from me, that’s a big thing because I’m a people person and I’m not as much of a big picture thinker. However, as I said this insight come from somewhere else and was left in my lap.

Yesterday, we drove up to Somersby just North of Sydney  and went to the Harvest Festival. Well, we actually went to visit the pecan farm where my annual violin concert is held. Hey, I’d better rephrase that and say that Stratford Music where I learn the violin has their annual concert there and I am but one of the many performers.

 

 

Anyway, getting back to the pecans, the idea was to fill up a bucket with pecans which were weighed and paid for as you left. We arrived quite late in the day because we were also there to pick up our daughter from dance rehearsals nearby. So, things were winding up, but we did see them shake a tree to get the nuts down and the merrymakers were rummaging around collecting their loot. I gathered up some pecans myself. However, I was also distracted through the lens and enjoyed photographing the naked branches silhouetted against a muted blue sky with the quirky-looking seed pods dangling on stalks. Kids were having a ball running through the fallen leaves and the chilled air was filled with laughter. It was very refreshing and although I’m 40 something myself, I still found magic in crunching those fallen leaves underfoot. We’re drying out our stash for a bit and then I’m going to attempt making a pecan pie for the first time. I’ll have to see if I can source some other local ingredients to truly be able to say my pie came straight from the farmer’s gate.

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It wasn’t long before sunset when we set out and we pulled over beside the road to photograph a stunning row of Autumn trees which were prancing around in that glorious magic-hour light looking absolutely glorious. I just kept taking photos from all angles not knowing quite what was going to work out best til I got home.

 

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Indeed, to be perfectly honest, I wanted to soak all of it up and take it home with me. Plant that setting in our own rundown and neglected backyard of arid beach sand. Well, I wouldn’t really want to do that, because I wouldn’t want all of those beautiful trees to die.

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After picking up our daughter, we drove down to Sydney for my parents’ birthdays. That was a low-key celebration at their place sandwiched in between the kids’ activities and Dad’s golf. There was a bit of a miscommunication about the cake and so there was no cake, no Happy Birthday but we had the presents and card sorted. After dinner, mum and I retired to the lounge room where she accompanied me on my violin. Our main piece was Tristesse by Chopin but we’re also working on Edgar’s Love’s Greeting. Although mum’s done a lot of accompanying over the years as well as teaching the piano, getting our act together has been unexpectedly complicated. We usually end up having different versions of the same piece of music, which have been written in a different key. So, even when we’re playing together, it’s been difficult for us to be on the same page. However, we’re starting to get there now.

No doubt, many of you also experience this in different ways in your families and finding togetherness is more difficult than you’d expect.

Meanwhile, in terms of posts for the last week, there was Ghosts On The Run for Friday Fictioneers and if you’re wanting to have a good laugh, you should go and check out Jonathan Livingston Budgerigar. You’ll never forget him. Speaking of Jonathan Livingston, I made a few references to him in Gull On The Run.

How was your week? I hope you have a great one.

This has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by  Eclectic Ali. We’d love you to pop round and join us.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

Jonathan Livingston Budgerigar…?

You thought you’d heard it all. However, you’ve been living in a cultural vacuum if you haven’t been introduced to this little Aussie icon… Jonathan Livingston Budgerigar.

After reading my previous post about my efforts to photograph Jonathan Livingston Seagull down at the beach, a friend put me onto Bob Hudson‘s Jonathan Livingston Budgerigar. The outcome for JLB is truly Australian, but I’m no spoiler. You’ll need to watch it for yourselves. I guarantee you’ll never see anything else like it!!

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While you’re onto a good thing, you might also want to listen to Bob Hudson’s  The Newcastle Song. It’s a little bit rough, but funny as. Back in March 1975 when I was six, it topped the Kent Music Report singles chart.

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By the way, this was the era when Paul Hogan had hit the big time with the Paul Hogan Show and The Newcastle Song album fitted in well.

I’ve been left absolutely speechless, but suspect my cred with the kids has suffered a beating, but it’s been worth it. I love a good belly laugh.

Do you have any funny posts you’d like to share? I’d love to check them out.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

Gull On the Run.

“To fly as fast as thought, to anywhere that is, you must begin by

knowing that you have already arrived.”

― Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull

Jonathan Livingstone Seagull wasn’t in the mood for mindfulness, meditation or even having some kind of a chat down at the beach this morning. Usually, he’s quite happy to pose philosophically and even stands statue-still for the camera as though he’s had a bit of modeling experience. However, this morning he was either out to carpe diem seize the day or might’ve been late for an important date further down the beach. On the other hand, perhaps, he was simply trying to raise his heart rate after absorbing more of my physio’s wisdom than I (who was slowly wondering along the beach absorbing life through the lens).

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You’ll also notice that a bit of a breeze was ruffling his feathers. It was a brisk 17°C down there today, which might have some of you leaping for joy shouting “Summer!” However, that’s considered cold here. That said, over the last couple of days the weather’s been awful with temperatures around 9°C, chilling winds and rain. Of course, these near blizzard conditions forced many frost-bitten locals to rug up and stay home, especially of the teenage variety. So, with the sun back out and the mercury rising, the whingeing Aussies were back out singing the Alleluia Chorus.

“Heaven is not a place, and it is not a time. Heaven is being perfect. –

And that isn’t flying a thousand miles an hour, or a million, or flying at

the speed of light. Because any number is a limit, and perfection doesn’t

have limits. Perfect speed, my son, is being there.”

― Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull

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I’m pleased I snatched a few moments away from my research to get outside and stretch my wings. I’ve lost myself somewhere in between the lines over the last couple of months and am slowly recalibrating myself for a marathon, not a sprint, on the book project. Darn it. I want to get something finished. Published. Done and dusted. Grr. Could I possibly write a book about trying to write a book? Would it take off? I’m getting desperate.

However, in the meantime, it’s good for the soul to get out there, inhale the ocean air and the beauty all around me and return to the present for a bit. After all, I’m sure it’s quite possible to get buried alive in the past and that doesn’t sound good.

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Thought I’d better show you the bigger picture. Ocean Beach on a beautiful day.

What do you do to relax and unwind while working on a bit writing or creative project? After all, all writing and no unwinding makes for a wrung-out soul. Indeed, we do have our casualties.

I hope you’re having a wonderful day!

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

Weekend Coffee Share – 2nd June, 2019.

Welcome Back for Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Hope you like your banana cake served up with a side serve of chewed up tennis ball and a pair of beady-eyed dogs glaring at you to throw the ball. I also offer apologies for the other dog, Lady, who’ll be glaring at your cake and looking like she’s posing for Vogue Magazine with those puppy dog eyes.

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I’m sorry I missed you all last weekend. Last Saturday, I drove our daughter up to Newcastle for the regional school aerobics championships. This was the first time I’ve seen our daughter competing, and I was getting my head around it all. There were similarities with the dance and the dance eisteddfods she’s done, and yet this was new territory. Stylistically, it is reminiscent of jazz dance and the sort of aerobics I used to do too many moons ago. However, these girls had speed, agility and nose-breaking high kicks which placed it in a different league. That’s where the similarities with the dance ended. The girls were wearing white Reeboks instead of dance shoes and were referred to as “athletes”. Their team came first, which means they’re off to State. That’s all very exciting, although I am wondering how any child of mine could even make it into the school team. When I was at uni, I wrote an article entitled “Unco Aerobics”. In keeping with my poor sense of direction, I ended up facing the class instead of the front.

While we were in Newcastle, we headed off to The Junction, which is quite an upmarket, arty part of Newcastle. That could also read “expensive”. However, Mum’s cousin and her husband owned a Mexican restaurant down there called Munchos which was a real institution in Newcastle. Unfortunately, she passed away and Mum’s aunt and uncle passed away before that and so Newcastle has this sense of making a pilgrimage and this now focuses on the family restaurant, Talulah, where I found an old, dying piano out on the footpath this time and it really spoke to me about all these family members who have passed and all the times we had together.  I still remember Mum’s uncle returning from a spear fishing trip with a lobster when I was a child and how he drove this very shiny red and black taxi which lived in the garage under the house. What happened to all of that? How can entire worlds just disappear like that and why do I feel like the last one left standing when I’m not. Surely, I’m not the only one who feels like they’re living among the dead, not in a morbid way but with the memories which quite concrete. Something I can touch. Someone I can hold and still feel their vibrant laughter.

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Anyway, on this visit we ended up having afternoon tea at the cafe across the road as I was wanting cake. I needed cake after that dreadful getting lost driving to Newcastle experience and you can’t keep pouring yourself into your kids as a parent without refueling yourself. Moreover, I make no apologies for turning to food to do that. I had a variation of Creme Brulee and Miss was hungry too. So, there went the budget enhanced by a few superb finds at the local Red Cross Opportunity Shop.  It’s okay. We could survive on dry Vegemite toast. However, our teenage son disagreed.

Speaking of our son, he placed at the school athletics carnival last week. He was in the 400 metres relay which came in second. This came as a complete surprise. Our kids have never come home with a ribbon before and while our son does a lot of long-distance hiking with scouts, he’s on the computer every waking minute he’s not at school or in an arranged activity. So, it was a bit of a surprise to find out there’s a hidden athlete in there somewhere. I did ask him if he was off to zone and his reply was priceless: “Hope not!” His enthusiasm was clearly underwhelming.

I’m still beavering away on my research and book project. However, while I’ve made some enormous leaps forward, I can’t help feeling that I’ve headed backward. That perhaps if I’d written this story at the start with the little I had, I’d have my story done and dusted by now instead of feeling lost in a research wilderness. Have you ever felt like that? I’m sure the story I write once I finally put pen to paper will be a much more textured and complex tale than something I’d have rushed off. However, I was hoping to be further down the track.

By the way, my concept is to write a series of short biographical stories about a few of our stand-out ancestors. It was supposed to be fairly straight-forward because I’ve already researched the bulk of them. However, I decided to launch off with our first arrivals in Australia and that came down to Richard Keep on Geoff’s side who arrived in Sydney in 1808 and John Paton who arrived in 1818 on mine. Unfortunately, being right back at the beginning of our Australian story, they’re the ones I knew least. So, there’s been a lot of hard work and trying to get my feet into where they’ve come from, their crimes, the voyage to Australia, their time here and their legacies. That’s a lot to cover and then condense into a short story or two. However, I am making progress and I’m loving the journey along the way. An added bonus with John Paton has been the infusion of Scotland’s national poet, Robbie Burns who was living just down the road in his parents’ day and it also turns out that his first illegitimate child (he had a few) was with his mother’s servant by the name of Elizabeth Paton. I haven’t found a connection yet and our Patons were landholders. However, the plot has thickened. Indeed, that’s part of the problem. It’s become so thick I can barely move.

Have you been doing much reading lately? I’ve been reading Fled by Australian authorMeg Keneally and am really loving it. Meg Keneally is the daughter of legendary Australian author, Thomas Keneally who is best known for his story of Oscar Schindler, Schindler’s Ark. Father and daughter have been collaborating on the Monserrat Series and this is Meg’s first solo novel and she has another on the way.

Fled tells the story of Jenny Trelawney…”Highway robber. Convict. Runaway. Mother. She will do anything for freedom, but at what cost?

Jenny Trelawney is no ordinary thief. Forced by poverty to live in the forest, she becomes a successful highwaywoman – until her luck runs out.

Transported to Britain’s furthest colony, Jenny must tackle new challenges and growing responsibilities. And when famine hits the new colony, Jenny becomes convinced that those she most cares about will not survive. She becomes the leader in a grand plot of escape, but is survival any more certain in a small open boat on an unknown ocean?”

Meg Keneally’s debut solo novel is an epic historical adventure based on the extraordinary life of convict Mary Bryant. I heard Meg discuss the novel recently at the Sydney Writers’ Festival where she explained her decision to fictionalize the story as she felt it wasn’t right to put her own words and opinions onto the real Mary Bryant. I would highly recommend this book to lovers of history, and I gripping sea voyage.

Anyway, it’s now almost Monday night and I’m chomping on my dinner while I try to polish this off. It’s one of the advantages of living a day ahead of some of you folk.
This has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share, which is hosted by Eclectic Ali. We’d love you to come along and join us.
Best wishes,
Rowena

 

Reference:

https://www.allenandunwin.com/browse/books/fiction/popular-fiction/Fled-Meg-Keneally-9781760680275

 

 

Thursday Doors – Carriageworks, Sydney.

Welcome Back to Another Thursday Doors after quite a lengthy breather, while I grapple with the heavy research load which has seriously exceeded expectations on the book project.

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So, may I offer my humble apologies. Our visit to Carriageworks, Sydney is a bit overdue. I was there a few weeks ago for the Sydney Writers’ Festival and I took advantage of the trip to photograph a few doors and that’s what I was doing when a strange robotic voice started  chiming: “Evacuate” in a tone which sounded all too much like the Dalek’s “Exterminate”. That must’ve been a false alarm, but they evacuated the entire building, disrupting our sacred sessions and emptying about a thousand dazed and confused people onto the footpath. Apparently, there was one woman who refused to leave her session: “I’ve paid for this.” A lot of good that’s going to be when you’re dead…not that I’m catastrophising. When I’m told to get out, I get out. You can ask questions later.

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A Historic look at the Everleigh Carriage Workshops

Carriageworks started out as the Everleigh Carriage Workshops which were built  between 1880 and 1889. This was where train carriages for Sydney’s rail network were built and maintained, including the Royal Carriages constructed specifically for the Governor General of Australia and visiting Royalty, the first electric carriage, and the first air-conditioned train in Australia. From 1973 productivity at the site declined due to its inefficient older buildings, restrictive union practices and increased privatization of carriage construction and the site was closed in 1988.  In June 2002, the NSW Ministry for the Arts completed the purchase of the Carriage and Blacksmith Workshops at the Eveleigh Rail Yards site. Soon after, a construction project on the site commenced under the name of Carriageworks. Adaptive reuse of the workshop site began in 2003 with the housing of numerous contemporary arts practitioners, and Carriageworks was officially opened in 2007.

Everywhere you look you experience the building’s railway past. The buildings are massive and clearly big enough to park a few trains and there’s still track in situ just in case you had any doubts about the building’s past life. My husband’s a train nerd and our son was also smitten when he was young. So, we’ve been to quite a few railway sites over the years and caught a few steam trains as well. However, probably what struck me most was the sense of all those people who worked there over the years and an entire way of life which has moved on. I lived in the area in 1988 while I was at Sydney University and I do have a vague memory of hundreds, maybe a thousand workers spilling onto the streets. Or, perhaps I’m just making it up. Sometimes, when you wind back the clock, your recollections wouldn’t stand up in a court of law. That’s where you’re better off becoming a creative writer or yarn spinner than a historian or eye witness.

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This door had my immediate attention. What don’t they want us to see??

 

 

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This is what we writers aspire to…entry into the writers’ lounge. I actually made it inside once when my aunt presented a paper. 

My apologies because although the site itself was quite interesting, the doors weren’t weren’t the sort to set your heart racing and fill your head with rapturous poetry. However, the doors do form part of the overall structure which is intriguing and particularly appealing to anyone interested in industrial architecture.

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You have to be pretty short to peer through this keyhole. 

This is another contribution to Thursday Doors hosted by Norm 2.0. While you might not have thought much about doors before, you’d be amazed at how they can launch a story and I really enjoy connecting with people from around the world and sharing where we live and where we’ve been.

Best wishes,

Rowena