Tag Archives: Covid

Weekend Coffee Share – 1st November, 2021

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

How has your week been? I hope you’ve had a good one, and I look forward to hearing more about it over a cup of tea or coffee.

After spending four months in captivity, my daughter and I finally made it to the hairdresser this week, followed by my husband yesterday who apparently had his beard trimmed, but he’s still looking like Moses. I haven’t realized my hair had grown so much, and I felt a sense of liberation as my hair fell to the floor. It might be a slight exaggeration, but I figured I knew exactly how a sheep feels after it’s been shorn and that entire fleece is gone. My friend does our hair and so it was also wonderful to see her again. I’ve barely come out of lockdown. As you may recall, I’m vulnerable and need to be careful.

Pearl Beach

I am trying to regain some of my lost fitness, and have been on a few walks. I went to Pearl Beach on Wednesday and met up with my friend Roland. We’ve been working away on his father’s experiences as a Polish Bomber Pilot in WW2. Today, Geoff and I went on a walk around the Woy Woy Waterfront and over the Spike Milligan pedestrian bridge. It wasn’t a spectacular walk but it was exercise and I wasn’t stopping quite every five minutes to take photos like I’ve done on some of our bushwalks. It doesn’t do wonders for increasing my heartrate.

I might come back and add a bit more late, but that’s all for now.

Meanwhile, you might like to join us over at the Weekend Coffee Share, which is hosted by Natalie the Explorer https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share – Freedom Day 11th October, 2021.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

I don’t know whether I should be shouting: “Hip Hip Hooray” today, or in mourning. Today, Great Sydney finally came out of its extensive 106 day lockdown now that we’ve reached a vaccination rate of 70%. After a peak of 1603 on September 10, we were down to 496 cases today. That’s not a perfect world, and not yet a safe space for vulnerable people like myself to enter yet. I was about to say it offers hope, but it could also demonstrate reckless abandon after being careful for so long. It’s interesting too to see where people head as soon as they break out? Is is to see friends and family they’re been shut away from for so long? I can’t blame people for possibly wanting to get to the hairdresser first. I was planning to have at least a friend over to christen the new table today, but of course, it rained and being an outdoor table, that’s not much fun unless you’re a woolly Border Collie with thick, protective coat. For those of you who still remember Bilbo, he was a great one for standing out in the rain and getting soaking wet.

Well, I know there’s been a lot of table talk going on around here, but this week I’m proud to announce that the table has been sanded back, restored and in situ. I have well and really rung the brass bell over that, as it would’ve been easier to move heaven and earth. I’m sure those of you with real homes can testify to that as well. That a seemingly easy decision to put a table out the front can require so much work, negotiation, acceptance and maybe even grief! Sometimes, I wonder what it would be like to leave alone and just be able todo what I want, when I want and not have to consult ANYBODY – or have someone else scuttle my plans, especially due to a lack of planning on their part. (Speaking of which I’ve had two pairs of ballet pointe shoes and a sewing basket left beside my chair. One of the downsides about coming out of lockdown, is that the pointe shoes needed to be replaced. However, one pair is heading back to the ballerina to do herself. BTW She’s very excited because she managed to get a Billie Eilish ticket today).

You can read more about the table here: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2021/10/09/table-talk-table-done/

Tis week, I slowed down over at my new blog: “Tea With Ethel Turner” this week with only adding one post. However, it was a post that meant a lot to me. I was reading her somewhat autobiographical novel, Three Little Maids, when almost at the end I found what I’ve dubbed: “A Writer’s Prayer”. Through this prayer, Dolly (who is said to represent Ethel Turner) tells her sister how she prayed to get a book published and that her calling might be to write books that “do some good”. As a writer with the same heart-felt desire in mind, it meant the world to me and perhaps you would love it too: https://teawithethelturner.com/2021/10/07/a-writers-prayer-ethel-turner/

By the way, I had quite a few technical issues with the new blog, and ended up changing format to sort them out. So, I apologise if you had any difficulties last week.

The other thing I’ve been working on lately, is the story of my friend’s father who was a Polish Bomber Pilot serving in the UK during WWII. It’s been my friend’s quest to write a book about his father’s experiences of escaping Poland and into Romania where he was interred, and smuggled out into France where he served before arriving in England. Roland’s father never taught his children Polish, and unfortunately the Polish pilot’s records in England are all in Polish. So it’s been a beast to sort anything out. Google translate has helped with clarifying online resources, but otherwise its a slow and laborious process. I had a bit of a breakthrough this week, when I found a pdf in Polish online. It was written by one of his Dad’s friends an was a story of the “Three Muskateers”. It even ad a few pages just about Roland’s dad. It was wonderful, except it was all in Polish. So, I tried a little experiment. I typed up the Polish and pasted it into Google translate. It’s the first time I’ve ever done anything like this. Well, it was like magic. There really was a story behind all those words which made absolutely no sense to me. Indeed, I thought the start of the story was very touching. There is this old Polish man with all the photos taken in his entire lifetime contained in a biscuit tin his cousin brought back from England. It was incredibly poignant but also pretty heart wrenching to all the photos of a lifetime can fit into one biscuit tin. It’s nothing for me to take 200 photos in a day. However, it would do me good to put the most precious ones in a tin so I can see the the trees. By having so many photos, we might as well have none in a way.

Anyway, who would’ve thought I’d be typing up Polish like that? In some ways my life feels incredibly random, and yet my insatiable curiosity won’t just let me settle with a fragment of such a good story even when I’m immersed in so many other gripping stories pursuing Ethel Turner and my WWI stories. I’m not going to be very good at interacting with people about the mundane realities of daily life if I ever make it fully out of isolation!

So, how are are things for you? Have you had a good week? I sure hope so!

Meanwhile, you might like to join us over at the Weekend Coffee Share, which is hosted by Natalie the Explorer https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share 4th October, 2021

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

This is actually my second coffee share post this week, and while it’s too late for the blogshare, I wrote a post from my new blog: Tea With Ethel Turner, which got up in time. However, I still decided to put this together because so much is going on. At least, it seemed that way, but perhaps that’s only because not much has happened for so long what with being in lockdown for the last three months.

Well, the big news is that our NSW State Premier who is simply known as “Gladys” resigned after being hit with corruption charges by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC). The irony is that the public and the media have almost unanimously come out in support of Gladys and feel ICAC’s timing stinks. We’re due to start coming out of lockdown on 11th October. Covid cases have dropped back own again which is encouraging, but Gladys has been our fearless warrior woman defending us from covid and trying to keep the economy going. Like Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews, she’s been giving a 11.00am daily update until about a week or two ago. I didn’t watch these very often, but they were repeated throughout the day and on the nightly news and they brought calm and stability during very tempestuous and uncertain times. Now, Gladys has gone and the Deputy decided to go as well. He’s had enough and is leaving politics. I think someone else has also left, resulting in three by-elections. Goodness knows what’s going to happen now without Gladys to keep covid out. I might be weird, but I already miss her. Gladys, don’t leave us!

Yesterday, Geoff and I went out in the kayaks. I’m not sure whether I’d go so far as saying we went kayaking, because we were test driving how I went in the red fibreglass kayak instead of the much heavier, cumbersome yellow bathtub. It went okay. It felt a lot more unstable and I almost had that sense you have when you’re first earning to ride a bike. I had to be very conscious and focused on what I was doing or I felt I’d lose my balance and end up tipping over. However, tipping over was very unlikely much of the time, and getting beached posed a much greater threat. It was low tide and we headed inland which was more like a wetland or swamp and there was only a depth of about 30 centimetres. We knew a friend of ours was also out kayaking and we eventually caught up with him and a friend. It was so exciting to see him. This normal thing of seeing friends, bumping into friends has become so precious after being in lockdown for 14 weeks now, you’re soon doing the happy dance (which isn’t such a good idea when you have lousy balance and your in a kayak).

The yellow bathtub

Meanwhile, the preparations for Freedom Day are starting to get under way at our place. Freedom Day is scheduled for Monday 11th October. To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure what so called freedoms we’ll be getting then, and it doesn’t really apply to vulnerable people like myself, because we have to stay on guard and if anything, be more cautious about who we hang out with. However, I think it allows me to go down to Sydney to see my Mum and Dad and that’s at the top of my out of jail bucket list.

Anyway, as I said, we’ve been doing some work around the house in preparation for being able to have people over here again. Geoff has painted much of the house, although we still have to get onto the front door. I was initially wanting to repair the table out the front, which has also been storing a large fish tank so we couldn’t use the table. A friend of mine had found a lovely old table beside the road and I’d fallen in love with it, and he was thinking it was too big for his room and he might get rid of it. Well, naturally I quickly put up my hand. However, we already have a few excess table inside the house, and I was trying to find the right time to mention the new addition to Geoff. A table is a very difficult thing to hide, especially when I needed him to pick it up! Meanwhile, my friend was starting to lose patience with the delays. I was getting frustrated with the delays. I could be sitting out the front in the sun reading instead of being stuck inside. I needed a reading nook. I needed somewhere covid friendly for friends to chat.

Picking up the table.

Well, we have now picked up the table, and today I started sanding the top back and I’ll finish it off tomorrow and also paint the legs.

Going against the grain like this, these scratches had to go.

It’s been an interesting process sanding back the table top. While some people deliberately destress their furniture, the table had some nasty scratches which looked like a cat had gone crazy. In another patch was very badly scratched after goodness knows what idiot madly tried sandpapering the varnish off working against the grain. These scratches didn’t add character and while I’d never be sitting at a friend’s place chatting and eating dessert and counting the number of scratches on their table, the thought did cross my mind. It’s probably that same part of my brain which frets about “red pen” (a writer’s nemesis) and having one comma out of place in a published work. Yes, I know. I need to go and get a life. Believe me, I would if I could. So, after using the orbital sander for the best part of 3-5 hours and still having scratches, but now having patches of light appearing through the immovable dark (the table is made of oak and had been vanished). I couldn’t see how I could get get the surface to a point of equilibrium. To a point where it didn’t look like I’d tried really really hard to get it right but had clearly given up and thrown in the towel. I asked Geoff if we could apply some varnish stripper to clean it up a bit. IT’s only at this point that he brings out the belt sander, which was clearly the right tool for the job and in minutes sawdust and varnish were flying and the table top was as smooth as a baby’s bot. Well, it will be when I’m done. The battery had gone flat and it was getting late. We didn’t want to disturb the neighbours.

A rare sighting of Rowie using power tools.

However, it’s now looking like I’ve become one of those fusspots who are never satisfied. As all that dark varnish disintegrated before my eyes and those immovable scratches were pulverised into sawdust, the tabletop started to look rather plain and devoid of character. It looked like it had had it’s personality removed, and that somehow even those very scratches which grated on me like fingernails scraping down a chalkboard, gave give it character. The table now had a perfect face, but it almost appeared unnatural. Or, at least it will when I finish it off tomorrow.

Anyway, with the way things are around here, it won’t take it long to get knocked around a bit. This house is the personification of “Misrule”.

Well, on that note, I’d better head off. I don’t think I’ve actually asked you much about how you’re doing and what madness is going on in your neck of the woods.

Meanwhile, you might like to join us over at the Weekend Coffee Share, which is hosted by Natalie the Explorer https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/

Take care and best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share – 30th August, 2021

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

This week, I’m contemplating how I’d visually depict an empty space.

How about this?

I don’t know how this fits in with the “Glass half-empty, Glass Half Full Theory”. If your week was empty, what are you supposed to say about it? Or, perhaps you shouldn’t post. After all, our role as bloggers is to entertain, inform, connect – not to put our readers to sleep. So, that leaves me with the question, if nothing’s going on for us, should we just stay quiet and stay home. Or, should we send an SOS out to the world, seeking fulfillment?

I have no photos of myself on the lead. So, here’s a flash back to Lady and the late Bilbo walking with me at the beach.

Obviously, you can see I’ve been in lockdown for way too long. It’s now been over 2 months, and I’ve been making things worse for myself by not going out for my daily walk. I know I should and that exercise is good for the soul and all that. However, I feel like a dog at the end Gladys’s leash whose telling me to get out the door: “Walkies, Rowena”. Trust me ! I’m nowhere near as enthusiastic as the dogs. For me, it’s much more a case of :”Groan, do I have to?” However, of course, I love it when I get out there and see the beach, stunning cliff views extending over islands, rivers and beyond to the land of dreams requiring a passport and an end to Covid 19. (By the way, for those of you who don’t know who Gladys is, she’s the NSW State Premier and the one responsible for keeping us all locked up.)

Now, to be honest instead of getting swept away on the winds of writer’s fancy, I wasn’t doing nothing last week. In fact, in terms of my writing, I’ve actually been quite productive. I’ve finished my entry for the SBS Emerging Writers’ Competition (an Australian TV Station) and I’m working on an article about Australian author Ethel Turner. She edited a children’s column in the Sun newspaper which was spawned almost 100 years ago, and also saw the birth of the comic strip “Ginger Meggs”. So, in spite of doing stuff for my kids and being interrupted, I have managed to get something done, even if that doesn’t include going on any walks.

The other thing I’ve been doing is eating chocolate.

I probably shouldn’t be admitting to that, but this post has become more of a confessional and since I’ve already admitted to avoiding walks, that I should confess to turning to chocolate for comfort. In some ways, this has become what some would describe as a “winning formula”, although I’m sure plenty would also say I’m heading down a downward spiral.

Well, don’t worry. I’ll go on a walk this afternoon. I won’t say tomorrow, because you and I both know what that means.

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Meanwhile, I did try to find my very first Weekend Coffee Share post this week. I managed to scrawl back to the 15th October, 2015 which is almost six years ago now. It goes back further too but it took an awful amount of scrawling to get back that far and eing in lock down atm, I quite fancied being back in Byron Bay again. Here’s the link: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2021/08/23/weekend-coffee-share-byron-bay-back-to-earth-2/


So, how has your week been? Buzzing with excitement? Or, do you relate to the empty box? Or, perhaps, you box would be painted block or even a fiery red or have furious waves thrashing around inside? Or, even the fresh tranquility of a butterfly fluttering around in the sun? The possibilities are endless. However, we shouldn’t have to paint our faces, especially around here. You can be yourself with me.

Anyway, I’m rapidly running out of time to upload. Moreover, I have a full house here and as soon as I sat down to get this out before deadline, everyone popped out of the woodwork. Could you please come back at 2.00pm? Their doors were closed last night when yours truly wanted to chat…

Anyway, this has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share is hosted by Natalie the Explorer https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/

Best wishes,

Rowena

The Ghosts of Birthdays Past…

A few weeks ago, it was my birthday. In previous years, I’ve fully acknowledged and celebrated my birthday on the blog with equal enthusiasm and interest as the real world. However, this year, I didn’t quite get here, and it probably also reflects that my birthday in the real world didn’t go off with a bang this year either.

Happy Birthday six years ago! I look and feel a lot healthier now.

It was good, and indeed better than expected. However, my birthday (30th July) actually marked the day that Greater Sydney was supposed to come out of Covid lockdown, and I, and the collective we, knew after the third week of hard lockdown and with one week to go until our blessed release, that it wasn’t going to happen. There was going to be no extravagant birthday cake covered in candles with either my parents in Sydney or with my much loved friends. Everyone was going to be locked inside their little cells at home, and only let out for bad behaviour (my perspective on exercise).

However, while one is allowed to be a bit self-indulgent when their birthday plans go up in smoke (especially a Covid smoke), I know things could be worse, and that I have so much to be grateful for, especially when I see covid through a global lens. I checked the stats just then (which I don’t do on a global scale all that often) and globally there have been 206 million cases and 4.35 million deaths. In America alone (which ops the charts) there have been 621k deaths. Australia isn’t at the bottom of the charts and we have a much smaller population, but we have had 948 deaths. So, we have largely been spared the full force of this scourge here, although our lockdowns have been pretty tight and for vulnerable people like myself, we’ve spent much of the last 18 months in varying degrees of isolation and social distancing, while, of course, there are others who haven’t complied with restrictions or have lived away from the major cities and haven’t had to worry too much.

Happy Birthday Mister!

The other thing is that given my poor health and the somewhat dire state of my lungs, I am thankful and overjoyed for every birthday I have. So, I’m not saying that I spent my birthday at home crying either.

Me this year at the Mt Ettalong Lookout.

My birthday was on a Friday, and Friday nights are generally quite busy even in lockdown here. Our son has zoom with his youth group which sounds pretty rowdy and a lot of fun, and our daughter has a dance class right at dinner time. We also have our small group meeting for Church and we were getting together for a zoom party. So, we decided just to get Chinese home delivered that night, and deferred our family celebration to the following night, when we had home delivery from a local smokehouse we hadn’t tried before. This is I guess what we’d call “American” food, and I was particularly wanting to try Southern Fried Chicken that wasn’t from KFC. I made a Banoffee Pie for my birthday cake.

What a view – There’s Pearl Beach in the foreground looking across to Lion Island

Meanwhile, during the day Geoff and I went for a bushwalk at the Mt Ettalong Lookout, which has the most magnificent coastal views over Pearl Beach to the right, and Umina Beach (home) on the left. When you see these photos, you’ll have absolutely so sympathy for my tough lockdown situation, and think I’m deluding myself. I’m in God’s country. However, breathtaking ocean views is not immersing myself in a room filled with my friends and being able to hug each other and talk totally oblivious of exchanging the air we breathe and what it might contain.

Looking across to Umina Beach and the outlet on the top right marks the entrance to Brisbane Waters in NSW (Not Queensland just to be confusing).

I know presents don’t make a birthday. However, I’m not going to deny how much they meant to me and how nice is was to open the front door and find a little treasure there. It was wonderful, and it meant so much more during this gloominess of Covid – a gloominess which, if we’re really honest with ourselves and others is at least a somewhat constant undercurrent of varying dimensions.) especially when you’re an extroverted people person like myself.

I was quite surprised when my mum ordered me a violin cake for my birthday in 2012. It was something of a premonition! Good on you Mum!

Anyway, I wanted to share a bit of the brightness which came my way on my birthday and offer each and everyone of you a virtual piece of cake.

Have you have any special celebrations during lockdown and what did you do?

Love & Blessings,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share – 8th March, 2021.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Happy Birthday to my 17 year old son , and Happy International Women’s Day. I’ve just woken up to wih my son Happy Birthday, and I’m not planning on staying up for long, and my stomach feels like I’ve swallowed Draino and my back feels like it’s been run over by a truck. I could say, that’s the power of positive thinking. That that’s me looking on the bright side. Well, I am looking at the bright side because I’ll feel bettter after a bit more sleep. I might also feel better if I wasn;t trying to type with a chewed up tennis ball under my right wrist too. There’s also an expectant do parked in front of my chair, too. That’s Rosie and the other two, Zac and Lady, are parked right in front of the door. I don’t know whether they’re hoping I might actually levitate out of my chair to take them for a walk. If so, they’re dreaming.

Our gorgeous little man as a new born in hospital.

17 years ago today, I became a mum and my husband and I became parents. I don’t think we truly understood what that meant at the time, even though we knew their were huge responsibilities and sleepless nights with our little bundle. I think beyond all of that, our fundamental feeling was profound and overwhelming joy. I’d had an elective caesarean. So, there isn’t a lot to say about that, except Geoff still hasn’t recovered from the stress of trying to juggle the video camera, SLR etc and actually seeing the baby. It was exciting times. Our hospital was also still using cloth nappies. I have no idea why because i was 2004 and they’d changed to disposables by the time our daughter arrived just under two years later just so she could always be first with the birthday, although she was the youngest and clearly number 2.

Little Man and Mum in Tasmania late 2005.

Meanwhile, I used to taken International Women’s Day a lot more seriously and have even gone into the local march and was on the organising committee. Today, I think International Women’s Day can also be able having a rest, taking it easy, and making birthday cakes.

Last week, I ended up heading down to Sydney for my first medical specialist’s appointment since covid and in just over a year. This was a big milestone in terms of feeling safe and being able to take what now amounts to an almost negligible risk, and also in extending my personal freedom.

We went out for lunch in Kirribilli afterwards, and also walked down to the harbour to fully soak in the magnificent views of the Sydney Opera House and the sheer imposing grandeur of the Sydney Harbour Bridge which truly towers over the top of you their almost stretching a protective arm around like like a father towering over a small child.

Walking back up the hill, I spotted a pair of boots sitting on a street corner.

Not only that, the boots were around the wrong way and looked plain odd, which of course told a story they wouldn’t have told if they’d been around the right way.Of course, I have no idea what they were doing there.

Whose boots they were.

That turned out to be part of their appeal, and their inspiration.

Of course, I photographed the boots, and needless to say, I wrote a post about them, which I’d like to encourage you to read: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2021/03/06/boots-under-the-bridge/

After all, they made a perfect analogy for how we respond to people who don’t quite fit the norm.

So, how are things at your end?

Before I head off, I thought I’d just update out on the vaccine roll out there. Well, to start that story off, we’ve had over 42 days without any community transmission here in NSW, which is wonderful news, and further praise for our response to the virus. Without the imminent virus threat, we’ve been able to wait to get the vaccine through the proper government approval processes, which also means vaccination is only just kicking off here. Vaccination began on the 22nd February, and they’re still just starting to vaccination health and aged care workers who are in category 1a. We fit into 1b of people with health conditions, and last night I heard that we’ll be eligible from March 22nd. That’s only a few weeks away as along as all goes to plan. I still don’t know how I’ll go with getting the vaccine via my local GP. They have nothing written up about it on their web site, but I should have faith, shouldn’t I?!! I shouldn’t panic. Freak out or desperately long to have some peace of mind?!!

Well, what do I have to worry about anyway? It appears covid isn’t here and yet, when it gets out of its box, it truly takes off and as we all know, you can’t tell you or someone else has it and it turns out this early barely detectable stage is when it’s most infectious. It doesn’t do a lot to ease my concerns. However, I’m not really complaining about taking measures to stay safe, because I’m still here and a year ago I had a chest infection, breathing difficulties and was concerned hospital would be full of covid cases and it would be too risky to go. Thankfully, that never happened here, and friends of mine who are even more vulnerable than I, are still around. I say that not to show off, but to show what is possible. We should never give up on what is possible, because sometimes, it can actually come to pass, and the worst case scenario passes us by.

Humph. I’m not sure whether I should spend so much of our coffee time talking about covid. There’s so much more going on, but at the same time, i is having a daily impact on our lives. I’ve decided no to go to a physical Church service until I’m vaccinated, because people are singing and not wearing masks. Indeed, our Church has taken a stand against it because they feel the Church is being discriminated against when restrictions aren’t so stringent in other places, especially sporting arenas. However, singing has been shown to be a super-spreader. So, their decision counts me out. Moreover, when you’re having to make decisions all the time about wearing masks, hand sanitising etc, it’s hard to ignore covid’s omnipresence in our lives, and for that longing to boot covid out once and for all to reach fever pitch.

I hope you and yours are doing well and keeping safe. What have you been up to this week?

This has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Natalie the Explorer at https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/

Best wishes,

Rowena

My Year-End Search For Wisdom in Verse…

There’s probably a special word to describe the gap of time in between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. If there isn’t, there ought to be, and perhaps I’ll get the ball rolling by calling it a “pregnant pause”.

After all, the lead up to Christmas is always absolutely frantic, and then you have exactly a week to rest, recover, put the old year to bed, while developing either a word or a list of resolutions for the new year, along with strategies and tactics for implementation and success. After all, you don’t want to start the new year off with an instant fail, do you? Especially, after 2020! No, we need to do everything in our power to get 2021 off to a good start. Indeed, we could well need a magic wand.

So, after watching The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Galaxy the other night, I decided I turn to the wisdom of British bard, Geoff Le Pard, who sent me his The Sincerest Form of Poetry a few months ago. In my usual well-intentioned way, I offered to write a review, and got side-tracked, and this “pregnant pause” at the end of what’s been the weirdest year I’ve ever had, seemed the perfect time to get on with the job.

I’ve lost count of how long Geoff and I have been bantering in the blogosphere. However, you can find Geoff at TanGental https://geofflepard.com/. I read and enjoyed his anthology online, and again once the hardcover version arrived in the mail. I really loved it, and it made a huge difference knowing him all this time.

However, as much as I enjoyed the poems, I was struggling to write my review. Although I’d reviewed his novels before, I found reviewing an anthology of poetry much more challenging. There were so many ideas inside, and what was I supposed to say? Why couldn’t he just write it for me, and I’d Australianize it to make it sound authentic? Of course, that’s cheating.

So, I decided to take a different approach.

Indeed, after I read The Sincerest Form of Poetry, I found myself questioning whether we still need poetry in the 21st Century. Or, has it become redundant, obsolete, and irrelevant? Indeed, has it gone the way of the chalkboard, a 35mm roll of film, the VCR, cassette tapes and by and large, the Christmas card? Taking a leaf out of Nietzsche’s book…Is poetry dead?

As a poet myself, my immediate response was: “Of course not!” The inner yearnings of the soul still matter, and are as relevant now as they’ve always been. Indeed, I’d even argue that we’ve needed poetry in 2020 more than ever, after Covid brought us to our knees.

However, even I’ve been corrupted by the forces of practicality, reason, and putting a meal on the table. As much as it’s good to ponder things, sometimes, you just need to get on with the job. Or, in the words of the Brits: “Keep calm and carry on!”

Moreover, it would also be fair to say, that there have always been people who have found poetry irrelevant, incomprehensible, alien drivel. There is also poetry that’s pretty dreadful, too, and doesn’t do us poets any favours. Not all poetry should see the light of day.

However, for me personally, when life isn’t going to plan for whatever reason, that’s when I turn to poetry for comfort, solace, connection, understanding, empathy as well as simply immersing myself in beautiful words.

So, 2020 and this dreadful covid pandemic, has been the perfect time for poetry.

Knowing Geoff, who is rather unassuming much of the time in his enchanting English way, he’d never set himself up as THE ultimate interpreter of life, the universe and everything. Indeed, he’d be rather aghast that I’m viewing his anthology through this light. However, for the first half of the anthology, Geoff repurposed poems which appeared in a collection of the greatest British poets compiled by the BBC for National Poetry Day in 1995. So, you’ve got a good chance of finding something meaningful in there somewhere.

Some of these poems and their progeny include:

Leisure – William Henry Davies Now – Dog At Leisure

How Do I Love You? – Sonnets From The Portuguese XLIII, Elizabeth Barrett Browning

This Be the Verse – Philip Larkin Now – Contradicting The Curmudgeon

Home Thoughts From Abroad – Robert Browning Now – Foreign Is Quite Ghastly.

If – Rudyard Kipling Now – If (Or When) The Truth Finally Dawns.

Christmas – John Betjeman Now – Christmas 2018

Upon Westminster Bridge – William Wordsworth Now – Dog Show.

Sonnet 130 – William Shakespeare Now – Only Skin Deep.

Sonnet 91 – William Shakespeare Now – Life Lessons (For An Englishman).

Twas the Night Before Christmas – Clement Clark Moore Now – We’re All Santas Now.

The Glory of the Garden – Rudyard Kipling.

…..

So, what wisdom have I gleaned from Geoff Le Pard’s book of verse?

Here goes…

“Come friend, reject facebook, texts and tweets

And all your social media conceits.

To win this war, you’ll need to be better,

Buy some stamps and write them a letter”.

In Christmas 2018, he asks:

“So what’s the point of Christmas time?

We have to ask ourselves

Surely it’s more than a cheesy rhyme

Sung by unpaid elves?

It’s time we took back full control

Of all to do with Xmas

We need to hold a people’s poll

And get out the vote for Brexmas.”

In Life Lessons (For An Englishman), which could well apply to rogue Australian women as well, he writes:

“Contentment’s path is clear, as was ever thus:

Always say you’re sorry and never make a fuss.”

I have gained much wisdom, support and understanding over the years through my friendship with Geoff. We used to belong to a blogshare called “One Thousand Voices for Compassion” which sprang up after the Paris bombings in January 2015, and tried to make the world a better place. We’ve also had a heart for fringe dwellers and those who don’t quite fit the norm or any approved prescription, which for better or worse, seems to include us. Through this time, my kids have almost grown up and his daughter recently got married and Geoff had the honour of walking her down the aisle. On top of this, we both have dogs, who I swear must be a tad dyslexic, and think they’re God.

However, before I head off, which indeed was my intention, I can’t help noticing these poems depict a world which is lusciously pre-covid. He’s out there walking his dog in the park without wearing a mask or being fined; and I’m not too sure how many folk are currently sharing his desire: “Oh, to be in England/rather than abroad…” Rather, I’d say now more than ever, the English wish they were in Australia or New Zealand, and especially well away from their more virulent form of the virus.

If that doesn’t entice you to at least wander over to check out Geoff’s blog and consider ordering The Sincerest Form of Poetry, I’m not sure what else I could do. I don’t think you want me to tap dance on the table. I hope you enjoy it!

Best wishes,

Rowena

PS I apologise that this review might be a little stilted, even garbled. It turns out this precious pregnant pause between Christmas and New Year’s Eve has been sabotaged by our teenage son who decided to clean up his room, by channelling everything into our loungeroom and tomorrow night we’re having a dinner party. OMG! It looks like Mt Vesuvius erupted and spewed her guts in an almighty blast. However, although we’re almost buried in his mess, his room is remarkably clear. Indeed, that’s the very sort of thing which inspires poetry, don’t you think?! However, somehow I’m stuck for words.

Weekend Coffee Share – Christmas 2020.

Welcome to the Christmas Edition of the Weekend Coffee Share!

Well, to be precise, it’s actually post-Christmas and we’re currently drifting along in the lull between Christmas and New Year where we recover from Christmas indulgence, over-consumption and back-breaking stress and veg out. Well, that’s as long as we haven’t done something stupid like inviting people over on New Year’s Eve. I wouldn’t know anybody who is crazy enough to do that, especially after hosting family on Christmas Day. However, there is this strange logic that once you’ve tidied the house up, get all of your entertaining done immediately before the place does a Cinderella on you and turns back into a pumpkin.

Our local bookshop

Anyway, before I ask you how your Christmas or Holiday celebrations went, I’d better offer you a cup of tea, coffee or perhaps you fancy a cold drink. We’ve had quite a few hot days, so you might prefer something cold. I’ve been doing a bit of baking and we have Christmas cake, shortbread, Honey Biscuits, Mars Bar Slice and Caramel Macadamia Nut Tart. Yum!

Christmas baking.

So how have you been spending Christmas or the Holidays?

We went to the 11.00pm service on Christmas Eve. The earlier services were cancelled and went via zoom instead, as there’s been an outbreak of Covid in Sydney along with a couple of local cases. There weren’t too many booked in for the late service and so it could still go ahead now we’re back to the 4 square metre rule.

The, on Christmas Day, my parents drove up from Sydney for lunch. I did all the cooking, which went surprisingly well. We had a roast chicken, veggies and gravy with the Caramel Macadamia Tart for dessert. We were too full to even consider eating the pudding, but we had a wonderful day which seemed to race past like a bullet train.

The rocking horse has been feeling fairly nervous. It’s seen the piano and the carpet go, and it’s very concerned it’s going to be next!

The prelude to Christmas was crazy busy. After guttering the loungeroom to replace the carpet with a floating floor and finding the room also needed a paint job, we then had a mad scramble to get everything back in situ for the big day. We managed to get there but quite a few things got shoved anywhere they could fit and goodness knows if we’ll ever see them again. However, it was all worth it, and the house was nice and comfy and we could actually spread out.

Miss after her hair extravaganza

Another big development in the lead up to Christmas, was that Miss decided to get her haircut. Indeed, to be precise, she decided to get her hair lopped off and she also wanted to donate the ponytail to make a wig for someone who is experiencing long term hair loss. This seemed like a great idea and something her friends have done before, although I was concerned she was going to regret cutting it off and I also loved her hair being so long and it had become a fundamental part of her. However, it was also very heavy, especially when she went swimming and it also covered her face in the water and might even have been a bit dangerous. By the way, in addition to getting the chop, she also got some foils. She talked me into this, but it was a fun adventure and I emphasised it was a once off. However, it was a lot of fun and seeing her incredible smile at the end, was truly worth it. You see quite a few storm clouds brewing in the teenagers eyes, so it makes it all the better when you see those radiant, sunny smiles and all is good.

Her hair before the chop. She had 17 inches cut off.

Since Christmas, we’ve tried to relax and do as little as possible. That said, we had the big clean up after Christmas lunch and today we headed off to Specsavers to replace our glasses before the annual health fund allocation ran out. I can tell you it was quite an experience getting our eyes tested and trying on glasses with face masks on and glasses fogging up. I hope they turn out okay. However, I thought you’d enjoy this photo of three out of the four of us trying glasses on.

Well, I’d better head off now. Time’s always getting away from me.

Not long now until we reach the end of 2020, but it’s pretty clear to me that there aren’t going to be any instant miracles once we turn the page into 2021. That said, vaccination has started and maybe that will start having an impact soon.

Meanwhile, we hope you and yours are safe and that you have a geat year ahead in 2021. Any resolutions yet? I’m still working on mine. My word for the last couple of years has been ACTION, and I might go with that again. Although when it comes to my WWI research project, the word is now WRITE, and when it comes to going away in January, it’s WAIT. Need to see what covid is up to by then.

Best wishes,

Rowena