Tag Archives: Vegemite

When the Mask Cracks…Friday Fictioneers.

“My life is an empty chair,” Madeleine lamented into her glass of red wine.  “And I’m drowning in my own tears.  Drowning! Hello!  Can you hear me? Why can’t anyone hear me? I’m trapped so deeply inside myself, there’s no way out.”

Madeleine hurled the glass across the stage. Wine dripped down the wall like blood, cascading over broken splinters of glass.

The theatre erupted in applause… her finest performance.

“I should be happy. C’mon Madz.  Change gears. Think positive…I’m a happy little Vegemite as bright as bright can be…

Brakes screeched.

All she could see was that empty chair.

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This has been a contribution to the Friday Fictioneers. Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here. PHOTO PROMPT © Ted Strutz

In case you’ve been wondering where I’ve been for the last month, we’ve spent three weeks travelling around Tasmania. We had such a fantastic time and the photographic opportunities were mind-blowing. I’m still trying to catch up on writing about the trip, but I’d love you to pop over and enjoy some vicarious travel.

xx Rowena

Dog Hijacks Weekend Coffee Time!

Greetings Coffee, tea and water drinkers… both human and canine!

It’s Rowena’s dog, Bilbo. I’ve hijacked Mum’s blog to join in at the Weekend Coffee Share.

So, what would you like to drink? It’s stinking hot here so you’ll definitely need a drink.

If you’re interested, I might even be able to pilfer some Vegemite toast but no guarantees I won’t accidentally eat it in transit. Despite my best intentions, I’m still a dog!

As much a try to be sociable, I’d better leave you to your caffeinated drinks and I’ll stick to water.

Although I’m getting older and slowing down, a Border Collie on caffeine wouldn’t be appreciated. Not that I’ve ever tried the stuff. The humans find my exuberant persistence irritating at the best of times. So, fuel that with even a drop of caffeine and I’ll be spending a week “OUTSIDE!!!!!” Worse still, I might even find myself sent off to the Home for Naughty Dogs at the top of the hill. I’m such a good dog, that they’ve never even mentioned such a thing. However, I’ve heard about this despicable place via local telegraph poles.

So, how has your week been? Hope it’s been good!

I’m sorry if I’m a bit flustered and not all that attentive. Usually, like most dogs, I’m an incredible listener  but I’m under incredible stress and my brain’s running faster than my paws.

While Mum’s stuck in yet another cycle of painting-avoidance, I’ve hijacked the blog as I desperately need your help.

Mister has gone missing and I suspect he’s been captured and most likely eaten by killer Drop Bears. I’ve issued a  Media Release but I’d really appreciate your help. No one around here’s done anything to try and find him. They’ve just cleared out his room and painted over any trace of him at all.

That leaves me, the Lone Dog Crusader, to find him and as usual, carry the weight of the world on my shoulders.

While I’m up for the job, who in their right mind would want to be Atlas lugging the world around on their shoulders? Take it from me. It’s mighty heavy and I’m not as young as I used to be. These bones are starting to creak.

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Last Seen.

I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to be locked up in a backyard with all my superior herding and sniffing abilities and not be able to search. We Border Collies might have been bred for chasing sheep but there’s not a lot of difference between sheep and humans…especially the kids. They’re always wandering around in all sorts of wrong directions, instead of doing what they’re supposed to.

Of course, I’d be in strife if I ever gave them a nip at the back of the heel but sometimes I’ve come close. What’s good enough for sheep, is good enough for them!

Anyway, Lady (my canine companion) and I have been trying to work out what happened to Mister.

Lady reckons it all goes back to the fireworks and tells me she was right to be concerned. Concerned? Lady was about to combust or have a heart attack, she was that worried. However, now that Mister is missing, I’m thinking those fireworks were actually Drop Bears fighting in the trees, preparing to launch their attack.

Dropbear

The Drop Bear

What concerns me most, however, is Mum and Dad’s complete lack of concern about Mister’s whereabouts. If I’d ever been allowed to have puppies and become a dad myself (instead of having that cruelest cut of all!), I’d never lose track of MY pups. No! Of course, not!!!! I’d be watching them 24/7 and giving them a quick nip on the ankle if they ever dared to wonder off. None of this laissez-faire human parenting!

That’s if you can call total neglect “parenting” but what would I know? I’m just a dog.

Mum’s been writing and doing “research” for her precious “Book Project”. At least, that’s what SHE says. I’m no fool. She’s actually just been reading old letters, thinking about the good old days and revisiting Paris on her laptop.

Some Mother she is!

DSC_9253

Miss helping to paint Mister’s room.

Sure, she’s also done a bit of painting but that was only under duress. As soon as Dad and Miss returned last night, she passed over the the roller and brush in a flash and was sitting back on the couch.

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Found this photo of Mister on the laptop. Knew he was in trouble but didn’t know Drop Bears kept their victims hostage. C’mon!  Why aren’t Mum and Dad trying to save him?

I can’t help wondering whether they even love their own son. If he was my son, I’d be jumping fences and scouring the streets, even patrolling the beach looking for scent. I wouldn’t stop looking until he was found.

However, as it stands, dogs are strictly prohibited from jumping fences.

That’s why I need your help.

Please help me find Mister.

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See! Drop Bears! I’m not imagining anything!

I have one last clue, which only came to light yesterday.

Dad and Miss had been out for the day but when they came home, I could smell Mister. While this was great news, suggesting that the Drop Bears haven’t got him after all, it still doesn’t account for his whereabouts. AND… if they did find Mister, why didn’t they bring him home? How could they leave him behind?

I have gone over and over this, trying to make sense of their madness but I can’t.

Wouldn’t you agree this is irresponsible at best? I don’t even have the vocabulary to express the worst.

Of course, this leaves it up to me to be the hero and find Mister when I could be munching on a choice juicy bone simply being a regular backyard dog, instead needing to become a canine hero.

So, despite appearances to the contrary, it’s not an easy being a dog. You probably think I’m a real misery guts feeling sorry for myself. However, how would you feel? They only ever seem to give me  one piece of the entire puzzle. Yet, expect me to find all the scattered, missing pieces and even come up with the solution!  Usually, I nut things out eventually. However, even for a dog as smart as me, this is a big ask. All the cogs have to be very well greased and they’re just lucky I’m something of a hidden genius.

However, having the best brain in the world isn’t going to help find Mister if I’m locked up in the backyard.

That’s why I need your help! As you can see, I’ve posted his photo. Have you seen Mister? If so, could you please bring him home.

I don’t believe he’s been micro-chipped. Again, the humans’ parenting skills are appalling! They microchip their pets but NOT their kids. Don’t they want to find them? It seems they’re much more interested in keeping track of their pets, than their very own flesh and blood. Trust me! If I’d been allowed to have pups, all of them would’ve been micro-chipped.  No questions asked!

On top of the Mister’s disappearance, there have been other mysteries this week.

Miss disappeared the day after Mister but as she’s now home, I won’t trouble you with that drama.

That is, except to say that it would’ve been very quiet around here if it hadn’t been for the endless pounding of the rain.

Of course, Lady kept  telling me that the sky was falling. After the whole fireworks debacle, I was about to book her in for therapy. However, as even Mum was looking rattled, I gave Lady the benefit of the doubt.

It was during all this rain that I overheard talk of Mister camping out in the rain. For parents who hadn’t bothered trying to find their very own son, they’d suddenly become very concerned. Indeed, they were having all sorts of discussions about wet clothes, washing, taking dry clothes, tents washing away and mud.  I couldn’t understand any of these concerns. After all,they weren’t even trying to find him.

I’ve since concluded that humans must be related to the Sloth! Walking on two legs must really wear them out. They can barely find enough energy to throw my ball let alone chase it. I guess I shouldn’t be so surprised that they can’t be bothered looking for Mister. Obviously, I expect too much!

Anyway, eventually, the rain cleared. Miss returned and we went for a run along the beach. The latest heavy rain and winds have caused further  erosion and about 20 more trees have been uprooted and are lying on the beach. We were all pretty sad about that as we’d hoped the beach was recovering from the last storm. Mum said that if the trees were whales, their plight would’ve made international headlines but as they’re only trees, it probably won’t even make the local paper. That’s terrible but, at least, we cared!

Before I head off, I should probably mention New Year’s Resolutions.

You might have read that Mum wrote Lady and I each a letter outlining our list of New Year’s Resolutions:

Bilbo’s Letter

Lady’s Letter

Although it was our understanding that you’re supposed to write your own resolutions, we gave them a read.  We might feign illiteracy but we’re actually pretty good readers. Moreover, as you can appreciate from this effort, I’m quite a writer as well.

However, that’s our little secret. Although Mum suspects Lady can read, I’ve slipped well and truly under the radar. As you might appreciate, revealing our superior intellect would only result in more jobs and all sorts of expectations. We just want to be pets.

Anyway, while our New Year’s resolutions made for entertaining reading, we agree that it’s a bit rich for Mum to be giving us advice when she can’t even keep track of her own son. Moreover, now that he’s on the cusp of becoming a teenager, it’s only going to get worse. I can definitely see she’ll be needing my assistance big time!

So, since she put so much time and effort into putting together resolutions for US, we thought we’d do HER a favour. We wrote Mum her own list:

  1. Keep better track of your kids. If they run off, a quick nip on the ankles will tell them who’s boss. When they get lost, find them!
  2. Go to bed earlier. You’ve ended up in some kind of timeless wonderland during the school holidays. You’re going to be a zombie if you stay up all night with those 6.30AM starts when school goes back.
  3. More walking.
  4. Diet. If it’s good enough for us, it’s good enough for you.
  5. Renovate Kennel.
  6. Buy more dog bones.
  7. Feed dogs sausages.
  8. Finish the Book Project.

We gave her the same list last year and she ignored it but we thought it might just be worth another shot.

By the way, I’ve been working so hard that it’s now sunset.

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A Front Yard Sunset Viewed Through the Norfolk Pine.

Thank you so much for coming round for coffee and now that we’ve had a chat, how about throwing my ball?

Bilbo with ball

I’ll get you fit in no time for the New Year!

I’ve heard you listed “lose weight” and “Get Fit” in your New Year’s resolutions, even if you didn’t write them down.

I’ve lost 14 kilos in the last year so chasing the ball isn’t so crazy after all!

After you’ve thrown the ball a bit, then, you can start searching for Mister!

This has been part of the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Diana at Part Time Monster and please check us out at the Linky

Thanks so much for listening! Much affection,

Bilbo xxoo

 

 

 

 

 

 

Australia: You’ve Been Warned!!

You don’t have to be Einstein to know Australia is a land of rugged extremes. A place where you just need to dip your toe in the water and it could became a battle of life and death against any number of foes.

Naturally, you’d be mad to ever set foot in the place. Indeed, it really is a mystery to modern science how locals have ever managed to survive.

Of course, all sorts of theories abound. Personally, I reckon that daily dose of Vegemite toast probably makes us so toxic and unpalatable to wildlife, that they don’t even want to take a bite.

Our climate is just as extreme, dangerous and potentially deadly as our wildlife.

Moreover, it’s almost ludicrous to think that while one part of the country is experiencing ferocious, destructive bush fires, the Northern Territory has severe flooding. Moreover, the fact that it’s Christmas never seems to enter the equation either. Nature doesn’t care.

Vintage Ettalong Santa Truck 2008 Pearl Beach

An Australian Christmas, Pearl Beach, New South Wales.

So, if you’re in the UK experiencing floodwaters, thank your lucky stars you’re nowhere near the Daly River in Australia’s rugged Northern Territory where rising flood waters are the least of your worries.

Those very same waters are infested with large, man-eating saltwater crocodiles. Snap! Snap! While most of Australia’s dangerous wildlife doesn’t actively seek out humans, crocs are a different story. They’re aggressive predators and quite happy to add you to the menu. You can read the full story here: http://www.news.com.au/technology/science/animals/daly-river-residents-alarmed-after-spotting-crocodiles-in-town-during-flood/news-story/786cad8139b22f7e0c5092f5988eb629

Meanwhile, on Christmas Day, 116 homes were lost in horrific bush fires on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria. An incredible inferno, this blaze is still going.

The extremes of the Australian climate and landscape are encapsulated in a historic poem written by Dorothea McKellar, which probably rouses more national pride than our national anthem. It has quite a number of verses but this is what usually gets recited:

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror –
The wide brown land for me!

Indeed, it is a land where drought and flood have somehow become strangely interconnected.  Bush fire is so common that it’s even required  for some plant species to germinate, bringing about new life. You’d have to say that’s just proof this place is insane. How could anything so destructive ever have any redeeming features?

Meanwhile, Geoff and I are enjoying a very lazy, comfortable day parked in the couch at home. Geoff’s watching the cricket while I’m blogging while the dog sleeps on my feet. I should tell him to thank his lucky stars he’s nowhere near the Daly’s River either. Dogs have sadly become snack food up there, while Bilbo and Lady and been enjoying eating post-Christmas treats.

dogs

Enjoying the easy life!

One of these days, I’ll be expecting complaints from the Australian Tourism Commission: “Stop scaring away the tourists”. I know I should only be sharing the nice fluffy stories about lush green pastures and stunning golden beaches but where’s the fun in that? Snakes, spiders, crocodiles, bush fires, floods, crazed drop bears…this is the real Australia.

Enter at your own risk!

Have you been game?

xx Rowena

 

 

 

#Weekend Coffee Share: 17th October, 2015

Welcome to another Weekend Coffee Share where we can pour our hearts out sipping on whatever beverage while we munch on some Vegemite toast. I’m sorry Vegemite tastes like axle grease but you should have taken me up on the Tim Tams last week.

If we were having coffee, tea or even Bonox, I’d ask you how you’re going and hopefully read your eyes better than I can via a blog and be able to ask you that next question whatever it might be. After all, we know that “coffee”, “tea” or “Bonox” are just euphemisms for bonding, connecting and maybe even joining two souls…or at least building a decent bridge. Or, you can just swot me.

For me those deeper, probing questions would be asking me about my cough and why you haven’t seen me for awhile. The two go together along with a trip to Sydney for a routine medical appointment and an infusion of calcium the following day to build up my bones. I’ve been on prednisone for 9 years and it is starting to take it’s toll.

Clown Doctors. Photo: Humour Foundation.

Clown Doctors. Photo: Humour Foundation.

While I was at the hospital, I ran into a couple of Clown Doctors. Have you heard of them? They visit sick children in hospital and perform a swag of circus tricks to cheer them up. They cheered me up too! See:  http://www.humourfoundation.com.au/

“My Father & Other Liars” by Geoff Le Pared in Sydney sans Geoff.

I’ve had a few train trips to Sydney over the last two weeks, which has given me a great opportunity to read. I recently bought Blogger Geoff Le Pard’s two novels: Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle and My Father & Other Liars. I started reading his second book first and decided to do something a little different. So, I took the book on an unauthorised book tour to check out the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Sydney Opera House and Luna Park. It’s even enjoyed Vegemite Toast and given up its English Marmalade. It’s since taken over the couch and feels right at home. Calls itself a “couch surfer”.

You can read about it here and enjoy some Aussie scenery: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/10/16/an-unauthorised-book-tour-my-father-other-liars-geoff-le-pard/

After playing a spot of beach cricket, the book sunbakes at Umina Beach, North of Sydney.

After playing a spot of beach cricket, the book sun bakes at Umina Beach, North of Sydney.

Well, being a decent host, I finally took it down to the beach where it played a bit of beach cricket but it was a bit disappointment not to check out any other books at the beach. There wasn’t another book in sight. I think it was looking for a bit of romance.

Meanwhile, I had to explain what I was doing lugging a kid’s plastic cricket bat around the beach and taking photos of a book on a sand castle. I must admit that I’m quite used to these glares but I still feel a bit self-conscious.  Once it was understood that it was all about publicity, I was let off the hook. Phew. The “Loonometer” had returned to “normal”. As usual, being creative or doing “publicity”, you can get away with almost anything.

Our kids have gone away on a scout camp this weekend. This means they’re enjoying the great Australian outdoors with no access to electronics whatsoever. Fabulous! It also means that my husband and I are home alone. Well, we still have the dogs.

Looking down the spiral staircase. Quite striking but not quite Chanel.

Looking down the spiral staircase. Quite striking but not quite Chanel.

I have pretty much wrapped up writing about our trip to Byron Bay although you might like to join us in climbing Cape Byron Lighthouse.Although it had a magnificent spiral staircase inside, it wasn’t quite as luxurious as Coco Chanel’s famous Staircase in Paris but I’m sure the view from the top was so much better! https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/10/13/climbing-cape-byron-lighthouse/

The lighthouse door opened up to such an incredible view!

Byron Bay: The lighthouse door opened up to such an incredible view!

This week, I’ve also been trying to catch up on some of my long-standing, favourite blogs, which aren’t appearing in my reader and I’ve actually lost touch. I don’t know whether you’ve had this problem as well. I do receive some notifications to my email account but these became rather overwhelming, swamped my email and so I don’t get emails anymore. Any ideas?

Time is rapidly marching towards the end of the year and I really wish I could slow it down. Every year, as the kids get involved in more and more activities, the madness just gets worse…even though I love it all!

Well, I hope you’ve had a good week and have enjoyed the Vegemite toast. Yes, I know it’s an acquired taste but I love it!

How about you go and visit Diana at Part-Time Monster http://parttimemonster.com/ as well as the linky: http://www.inlinkz.com/new/view.php?id=573568

Best wishes,

xx Rowena

An Unauthorised Book Tour…”My Father & Other Liars”: Geoff Le Pard.

For those of you who know Geoff Le Pard and his latest book: My Father & Other Liars, it is my duty to inform you that his book ran away from home in London and decided to brave the sharks, snakes, poisonous jellyfish, crocodiles and deadly drop bears and flew solo all the way to Australia.

Heading into Sydney.

Heading into Sydney.

By the time the book arrived here, it was clearly exhausted and handed me a note which said: “Please take care of this book.” Of course, there was a jar of marmalade in its suitcase and being the warm, friendly and book-loving Australian that I am, I took the book inside and it now calls Australia home. It’s even traded the marmalade in for Vegemite toast. Like most English backpackers who take up residence on your couch, I don’t think the book will be going home any time soon!

Although every author knows that their book takes on a life all of its own once it’s been published, I don’t think even Geoff expected his latest book to go on an Australian tour without him. Geoff is a very keen International traveller who has not only been to Australia but fallen in love with place. So, not unsurprisingly, I can hear Geoff shouting out all the way from the UK: “Wait for me!! How dare you leave without me!!”

I’ve had words like that with my own kids over the years and they haven’t listened and neither did Geoff’s book. It’s still here and Geoff’s nowhere in sight.

Apologies Geoff but we couldn’t wait. The book’s tour Down Under has unofficially been launched. Thanks to my filling fallen out, My Father and Other Liars and I boarded the train to Sydney to go to the dentist. My dentist is in Kirribilli just a stone’s throw from the Sydney Harbour Bridge. If you have ever seen the film Finding Nemo, the dentist in the movie could very well be my dentist, right down to the fish tank! Well, there is some debate but he’s close enough. So, of course, the book was thrilled to be on location. It fancies being turned into a movie one day!

The book takesin the view of the Sydney Opera House. I think it brought the London weather with it.

The book takes in the view of the Sydney Opera House. I think it brought the London weather with it.

Geoff's book really was refusing to toe the line and I seriously feared we'd be arrested or given our proximity to the Prime MInister's Sydney residence, be mistaken for terrorists. If you can't trust a package any more, who's to say you can trust a book these days? Particularly one which can not read signs!

Geoff’s book really was refusing to toe the line and I seriously feared we’d be arrested or given our proximity to the Prime Minister’s Sydney residence, be mistaken for terrorists. If you can’t trust a package any more, who’s to say you can trust a book these days? Particularly one which can not read signs!

After my appointment, we walked down the hill under the Bridge and the book insisted on photo after photo and even took a few selfies. Talk about pushy. I thought the book was trying to drum up some additional publicity but when I caught it emailing the photos to Geoff and tormenting him with those gorgeous harbour views, I had my doubts.

Do selfies always reverse the text in the picture or is it just me?

Do selfies always reverse the text in the picture or is it just me? Oh yes. Don’t you just love the wind! That is definitely NOT my usual coiffure!

Anyway, jokes aside, reading My Father & Other Liars has been quite a unique reading experience for me. Usually, when I’m reading a book, I’ve never met the author and know very little about them at all. After I’ve read the book, I might have been lucky enough to meet them at the Sydney Writer’s Festival or equivalent or read an article online but essentially the author remains a mystery…unknown.

Another dodgy selfie in front of Sydney's famous Luna Park face.

Another dodgy selfie in front of Sydney’s famous Luna Park face.

However, when it came to reading My Father & Other Liars, the cart went before the horse. Through reading each other’s blogs and numerous comments back and forth, Geoff and I have come to know each other pretty well, especially given we’ve never met in person. We’re friends. This meant of course that I knew the author before reading the book and I wondered whether I could divorce that from reading a work of fiction. For some of you, you might be able to make that disconnect easily but I tend to read mostly non-fiction and process the novels that I do read as real. You could say that for me the line between fact and fiction is rather thin. That is, if there is a line at all

To further complicate matters, I’ve also read a series of letters written by Geoff’s Dad outlining his experiences as a paratrooper, which Geoff has posted on his blog. While “Dad” seemed to have a good sense of humour, he seemed pretty honourable to me. He certainly didn’t appear to be the inspiration behind the book. So this was another connection I had to switch off.

After playing a spot of beach cricket, the book sunbakes at Umina Beach, North of Sydney.

After playing a spot of beach cricket, the book sunbakes at Umina Beach, North of Sydney.

Another thing I should tell you about how I read Geoff’s book was that I specifically ordered hard copy…a real book. Call me a late-adapter to technology but I don’t have a Kindle or any other such device and I find reading long chunks of text difficult on the computer. I have collected antiquarian books almost all my life and love the smell of must, those beautiful , meticulous etchings and the covers almost good enough to eat.

Proudly standing under the Australian flags

Proudly standing under the Australian flags

Yet, while I have my collection, when it comes to reading a book and I mean really reading a book, I not only read it with my eyes and I guess in turn my soul. I also read it with my pen. I have quite an elaborate system of taking notes in my book. I underline great phrases, similes or metaphors and if I really want to come back to something, I make a note in the margin. The ultimate though is circling the page number down the bottom so I can definitely find my way back to that point.

So, when it comes to me reading books: “No ink = no good.”

So as a good indicator of how I found My Father and Other Liars, it has plenty of ink throughout, not just highlighting Geoff’s expressions but also to highlight the scientific details. The book is educational as well as a great read.

When it comes to genres, just like its author, My Father and Other Liars isn’t a book you can simply pigeon-hole and slap one all-encompassing category. Indeed, it could easily be considered thriller, mystery, science fiction, drama and there’s even a bit of romance. It refuses to be contained.

Bilbo, our Border Collie, snaffled up the book.

Bilbo, our Border Collie, snaffled up the book.

So, what is the book about?

My Father and Other Liars addresses the tension between religion and science and what happens when these often conflicting spheres merge together. What emerges is a thrilling exploration which covers three continents and I must say, Geoff manages to convey a strong sense of these different cultures both through authentic dialogue but also through noting those little details. When he writes about England, there’s a “strong cup of tea” and while in Oklahoma, there was this bit of inimitable dialogue: “So who fancies biscuits and gravy, y’all?” I wrote “yuck” next to that one. For an Australian, biscuits are sweet and what Americans refer to as “cookies” whereas this is referring to what we would know as a “scone”. However, the character is not in Australia and using these authentic snippets, really helps to convey that sense of place, which is very important to me. After all, the inner person is also in an outer world.

Lady reading Geoff Le Pard's: "My Father & Other Liars."

Only to have Lady run off with it! Lady reading Geoff Le Pard’s: “My Father & Other Liars.”

In terms of reviewing the book as a whole, I’m going to defer to this review from Suffolk Scribblings: https://authordylanhearn.wordpress.com/2015/09/25/recommended-reads-my-father-and-other-liars-by-geoff-le-pard/

However, perhaps the greatest recommendation is that I as a non-reader of novels, haven’t put it down and am reading about 100 pages a day. I’m finding myself slipping into their world and almost talking to the characters or hearing their voices, which might suggest I need a psychiatrist but that’s been a long standing issue and something I call “being creative”. At the moment, I have 120pages to go and I feel that tension between racing to see how it ends and wanting to take my time because I don’t want the book to finish. I particularly like the character of Mo and so many of us, is well-intentioned and has blundered through life hurting those he loves most and struggles with intimacy. Mo is the book’s reluctant hero and I can’t but feel sorry for him getting embroiled in all of this but then again, a bit excitement speeds up the heart.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

I’ve just finished the book and strongly recommend it. It tells a suspense-filled, credible story filled with conspiracy and intrigue and well-developed, believable characters. Geoff has down a great job switching between three continents and even with my very poor sense of direction, I didn’t get lost. That said, at the start, I did find it hard to keep up with the number of characters but ultimately this just heightened the sense of conspiracy and those men in black were hiding everywhere.

Well done, Geoff and by the way, your book says: “G’day!” It also wants to know if the cheque’s in the mail? It’s had unexplained expenses and I swear there’s no mini bar anywhere in sight.

If you’d like to pop over to Geoff’s blog, you can find him at http://www.geofflepard.com

Have you read My Father and Other Liars or any of Geoff Le Pard’s other books? Any comments?

xx Rowena

PS: I must say that if you are wondering whether any red-faced embarrassment was experienced in the production of these photographs, the answer is most definitely. The kids were away and I felt like a real goose heading down to the beach with a plastic cricket bat. But the photo is paramount and I only ended up having to explain to one onlooker that I was photographing a friend’s book who was in the UK. “Publicity”, was all they said. Hmm…you seem to be able to get away with a lot as “publicity”!

Chocolate + Vegemite= ?

Rumoured as a hoax…a hoax almost as legendary as first reports of the duck-billed platypus, Cadbury has released its Vegemite-flavoured chocolate.

Cadbury made the announcement on Twitter, along with three other new flavour combinations: golden toffee, pretzel & peanut and salted caramel.This is part of its #ChocPlusWhat campaign, where it asks consumers what flavour combinations they would like to see.

Yet, although it’s called “Vegemite Chocolate”, the centre is actually filled with caramel but not the classic sort of caramel like you’d expect in say a Caramello. It’s almost like the texture of their Turkish Delight filling. Moreover, this caramel isn’t as sweet as a regular caramel and has been compared to salted caramel.

According to the ABC, Australian palates have grown more adventurous in recent years, with food mash-ups that would once be considered bizarre becoming ubiquitous — think the match-made-in-heaven that is salted caramel.http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-05-08/cadbury-chocolate-vegemite-combine-social-media-food-mash-up/6454050

Despite all that media hype, I can still hear you ask: “Vegemite and chocolate????”  in utter disgust, confusion and dismay. Isn’t anything sacred?!! Yes, indeed. We are a weird mob! You do have to wonder what someone or someones were thinking when they came up with the stuff. It really does seem like the ultimate April Fool’s Day prank. Yet, it’s real.

Ad for Vegemite.

Ad for Vegemite.

Vegemite is more than just a household name throughout Australia. First developed in 1922, it’s become part of our psyche. Generations of Aussie school kids have been brought up on the humble Vegemite sandwich, which according to the song, turned us all into “Happy Little Vegemites” www.youtube.com/watch?v=0yA98MujNeM.

The most famous Vegemite ad of all time produced in 1954.

The most famous Vegemite ad of all time produced in 1954.

I have heard of Vegemite and cheese, Vegemite and lettuce sandwiches and even adding Vegemite to dishes to give added flavour but I’ve never heard of anybody mixing Vegemite and chocolate together before.Not even my kids and they’ve made some weird concoctions in the kitchen when the patter of little feet suddenly went eerily quiet.

That said, while I was living in Heidelberg Germany after finishing university, I was attending a Church picnic where someone put a Tupperware container filled with Vegemite on the dessert table. I think it was initially a bit of a mix-up. However, one poor unsuspecting American kid who thought it was chocolate sauce, ate an entire tea spoon of the stuff straight. Now, most Americans I’ve seen try the stuff barely dab their finger in the Vegemite and they’re writhing in agony on the ground like yours truly eating chilli. So, you could well imagine the look on that poor kid’s face. It was priceless. The prank worked so well that he just had to try it out on his unsuspecting sister…Ha! She smeared the stuff all over her choc chip cookie and ate it. Needless to day, her brother was lucky to escape with his life.

You really do need to be, in effect, “desensitized” to like Vegemite. Or perhaps you just have to be Australian…tough as nails and as mad as a cut snake.

Anyway, I don’t know how the whole concept of Vegemite chocolate was first conceived or what crazy notions were stirring in someone’s dare I say “lateral” imagination. What were they thinking? It’s seems like they were playing a game of mis-matched pairs! Yes, we’ll mix the parrot with the hippopotamous.  That said, tit could well be the result of a committee decision. That said, these weird food “mash-ups” do seem to be all the rage.

Regardless, it’s not a bad marketing strategy because  Vegemite Chocolate is attracting quite a bit of interest. Posts from brave and intrepid taste testers are appearing on Facebook and not being one to be left out of the action, I had try it out. Indeed, this was an experience the whole family could enjoy.

Despite my background in market research, I didn’t develop questionnaires to record all our responses but I did have Geoff filming and I really did anticipate a few “yucks” “Err yucks” and total revulsion.I truly was expecting it to taste so bad that it became some kind of “survivor” challenge where men, women and children all earnt bragging rights “I’ve survived Vegemite Chocolate!’. Yes, iyou defintiely had to  earn the T-shirt!

Taste Testing Cadbury's Vegemite Chocolate.

Taste Testing Cadbury’s Vegemite Chocolate.

However, to the perfectly honest the chocolate was a bit of a let down, Even though I quite liked it., I was looking forward to tasting the Vegemite flavour in the chocolate but I couldn’t pick it at all. For me, this wasn’t Vegemite chocolate but something else. Miss says it was “yummy” and that it tasted like caramel. Both Geoff and Mister could detect the Vegemite flavour but they don’t touch the stuff!! You see, I’m quite heavy-handed with the amount of Vegemite I smear onto my Saos each nigh so I must have built up some kind of resilience!

This is how I love my Vegemite. No wonder I couldn't taste it in the chocolate.

This is how much I love my Vegemite. No wonder I couldn’t taste it in the chocolate.

Vegemite Chocolate. It was out of this world!

Vegemite Chocolate. It was out of this world!

Now, getting on to the question Cadbury posed about potential chocolate combinations. I guess I really should come up with something. Chocolate with potato chips? In the interests of combining health with chocolate, apple chocolate or indeed “Diet Coke Chocolate”. Yes, that’s the suggestion I’ll tweet through to them. I can see “Diet Coke Chocolate” being a winner! After all, how often do you see people drinking diet Coke with something utterly fattening like a greasy hamburger, KFC or chocolate.

Yes, Diet Coke Chocolate definitely has my vote!

Have you tried the Vegemite Chocolate? I’d love to know what you think. Also, could you please let me know if you spot it overseas.

Bon Appetite!

xx Rowena

Jamie Oliver…the Unspoken Story.

As much as Jamie Oliver enthuses about the virtues of healthy, home-cooked meals, I don’t recall him ever mentioning the washing up…!!

Takeaway and paper plates are now looking very appealing.

That said, we all enjoyed our Jamie Oliver supposedly simple Lasagna which included such basic ingredients as minced pork belly, pancetta, coriander seeds and creme fraiche.

My version of Jamie Oliver's infamous Lasagna.

My version of Jamie Oliver’s infamous Lasagna.

Given that these days Jamie Oliver has become a quasi Australian given his campaign with Woolworths, don’t you think he needs to update the recipe with a Vegemite version?

That said, thanks to foreign ownership, Vegemite is as Australian as the Australian Women’s Weekly (now German owned) and…(drum roll)…Jamie Oliver!

Enjoy your meal and the washing up!

xx Rowena

PS: By the way, I should point out that we have a dishwasher but I don’t like putting my good pans in there and once I get started, I might as well do the awkward stuff.

PPS: Yes, those kids are about to get a further initiation into the fine art of washing up. It will be good for their souls!