Posts Tagged ‘Australia’

A Blend of New Worlds

image from spirit_elements-www-josephinewall-co.uk

Apart from my trip from England to Australia, which I admit is quite a trip, I hadn’t traveled overseas much. I had been to Tasmania, which is considered part of Australia, just not attached to it, and to Fiji, which was my one overseas trip.  This however, was my one REAL overseas trip since I was doing it alone. So, everything I saw and experienced was with the eyes of a novice. It was fresh and unknown.

As my driver pulled up to the Sheraton (Yes, I really went all out on my first big trip), one doorman rushed over to get my door and another went around to get my bags. Luxury was the name of the game. I didn’t want to stand and gawk but I tried to look everywhere at once, I wanted to savour the idyllic splendour of this incredible place….. until a loud voice in my head yelled “Get it together girl! You don’t want to look like a country yokel, wet behind the ears, a little more aplomb please!”

A New World

image from http://www.colourbox.com“Never been anywhere before”.

Alright, I was back on track and my image not too tarnished. I signed in and was taken up to my luxurious room. I had traveled in Australia and seen my fair share of hotels and motels, but this was something else. A huge king sized suite – just for me. For the first time ever, I had this huge bedroom for my own personal use. No-one coming to me for anything, no-one to share it with, it was just for me. It was totally surreal.

A New World

Room to move and then some

I started to unpack but the lure of the sunshine through the window, and wondering what was there drew me, so I threw on a pair of joggers and decided to go for a quick walk. I was never one to ask for directions, I always managed to get lost anyway, so deciding to throw caution to the winds I took my rough bearings, crossed the driveway and away I went. The traffic! I couldn’t believe how much traffic came flying down the road. Everyone jaywalks in Australia- at least we used to.  Taking a long look and gauging the traffic, how fast it was flowing, I dashed across the road.

The esplanade was amazing. It was so wide and the paving in geometric designs as far as I could see. It seemed as though there were seats arranged in nooks and booths everywhere and people were sitting, talking, reading or walking, jogging, running, cycling along, on roller blades or skate boards. It was a hive of activity and at the same time an oasis of calm. The sand was a refined golden carpet and the ocean, the Mediterranean, was the most amazing blue imaginable.

A New World

Tel Aviv Boulevard       This open air exercise area was used nearly the entire day and night.

Mesmerised I didn’t get too far that afternoon. The beach seemed to stretch for ever and the different architecture, from the ultra-modern to ancient almost next to each other. It was a glimpse of the Old world and new side by side. In the distance I could see the old town of Jaffa. It was to be my destination the following morning.  Retracing my steps I once again took my life in my hands as I charged across the street to get back to the hotel. I decided if I was to stay in Israel for any length of time I had to work out how to cross the roads, or at least where to cross them.

For someone who was not a great breakfast eater, the temptation to go into the dining room and simply watch the world go by was too enticing. Once in there I had to have a look around and with freshly squeezed orange juice in hand I could hardly leave without trying a few dishes, could I? I cannot remember the names of the dishes I decided to try, but, a tasty tomato, cucumber and parsley salad with a tuna, mayo and onion dish and I felt my batteries charged. So, fortified with some traditional Israeli breakfast I set out.

A New World

Breakfast salad, a new idea

I rounded the corner from the hotel and, not dashing across the road walked along the footpath towards where I could see a crossing. Five minutes later I found myself surrounded by six giant, well-armed American soldiers. The funny side of the situation hit me and I started to smile, then giggle and I was not making the soldiers any happier. After all, I was a mere 5’7″ and these fellows were all giants, at least 7’ tall, or so they appeared to me.

Demanding to know what I was doing did not help. I really tried to explain I was just walking up to the crossing, but it appeared I was committing some serious crime, and I couldn’t work out what it was. The tension mounted and I simply could not stop the chuckles. Eventually someone asked me where I was from. Once I said Australia I heard a grumbled “Bloody Aussies” and there was an immediate release of tension. Apparently I had transgressed onto the US Embassy grounds. Apart from three foot high bollards there was nothing to say I had moved onto a prohibited area. One of the giants pointed a finger skyward so I craned my neck and saw a US flag on the top of the building. With a stern warning to “watch where I was going” I was allowed to leave, still holding in the chuckles until I made my escape.

That morning was the first time I walked from my hotel into the old town of Jaffa. There was a great view from the top of the area around the marina and along the boulevard to the high rise buildings along the foreshore. After breakfast and around midnight each day I would make this walk to Jaffa, listening to my iPod and watching the whirlpool of people passing by. There was a constant flow of people, walking, running, on roller skates, skate boards or little scooters. People walked their dogs and groups of people would be sitting and chatting until the early hours of the morning.

I’m not certain what the hotel staff made of my nocturnal jaunts but I received a smile each time I returned. I still wasn’t sleeping very well or for very long but these nightly walks were soothing. During the day I explored the city. Being geographically challenged (I got lost easily) I saw a few areas more than once, but it was fun, almost as much as my first excursion to a shopping centre.

My map was great, my sense of direction not so good and my Hebrew non-existent, so the fact that I found the shopping centre was amazing. As I walked towards the doors I was surprised when a man, not much taller than I, suddenly popped out of the corner of the entrance,  dressed all in black and carrying – a machine gun. (I’m no expert so I’m not guessing and he didn’t tell me exactly what it was). At that time all people not recognised by the guard were stopped and had their bags checked. Okay, it wasn’t that long since the Gaza problems so I could understand it, but it did make me stop and think. Since my natural reaction would have been to resist someone grabbing at me it could have been a different outcome. It appears I had my guardian angel sitting on my shoulder each time I ran into an armed and dangerous person. It was good to know.

A  New World

image from http://www.reuters.com     Israeli soldiers, a fact of life.

This strange new world still felt like home and I was excited about exploring more of it.

Next week…….. History comes alive and a new friend.

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image from http://www.toutlecine.com –  From humble beginnings.

One of my favourite films has always been “My Fair Lady” with Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison. It appealed to me on many levels. Most of all because my mother had told me from when I was small that “I could be anything I wanted to be”. Of course that meant I had to want it enough to work hard to attain it, just as Eliza did in “My Fair Lady”.  There was something so deeply satisfying when she had managed to shed her  “common London accent” and not only speak like a lady but truly act like one, to the extent that she really was a lady. That, for me at least,  epitomised not just the possibility of attaining your dream, but the reality that anything could be achieved.

From such small beginnings did my dreams and desires become formed. I used the tools of the “Law of Attraction” before I had even heard of it and built up my picture of how I desired my life to be. The inspiration from books and films gave me the scope to build dreams to reach any heights I wished. “Mary Poppins” was another favourite, for a mere Governess she had impeccable diction, far better than her employers. Then, we all knew that she was special in more ways than one.

image from rottentomatoes.com

One of the defining factors in my life was the divisions I saw around me as I was growing up. It was based on how one spoke, dressed and acted, but also on ones perceived place in the community. In England the class system was still in full swing. In a country where a few miles could show a change in dialect, a difference in the way people behaved and the ‘allegiances’ one had, it was  important to learn, if not how to be ‘a lady’, at least how to blend in as much as possible. Things may be different today, I doubt it, but back then it was how the lines were drawn. The Yorkshire dialect is one of the most interesting as you can hear, here.

That may sound like a simple thing to do but in a country where those idiosyncrasies in speech were cast iron identifiers, it was no simple feat. I was a voracious reader and was encouraged by my mother to read anything which interested me. The only codicil, to discuss anything I didn’t understand with her first!  I started copying the speech patterns of the characters in the books. The more I practiced however, the wider the divide became between myself and the children in my neighborhood. It was difficult. Then I won a grant to attend an all girls college on the other side of town. Still safe to travel in those days, it simply meant long days, the travel added to the school day and hours and additional homework to be fitted in. I was one of those unusual people  who enjoyed school luckily. My mother said my first word was ” why” and it never changed.

image from mysteriesandmanners.wordpress.com   Crushed by language and station.

The college I attended had girls from many of the surrounding districts, each with their own unique way of speaking. There was definite group segregation established. This made co-operation in class very difficult to say the least. My English teacher,  one of my favorites decided the “class divisions” would not be tolerated in her class. I need to point out that English was divided into two subjects, English Language and Literature. It all went to feed my love of English, poetry, prose and novels.  Her solution was simple. During her classes all the material being studied would be read aloud. From snide comments and snickers over the peculiar way each group spoke we were all taught to speak with no emphasis on the consonants and vowels, if not perfectly, then with as little emphasis as possible.

It made for quite a unique group within the school since we no longer fitted into any ‘group’ now. For me it was one step closer to throwing off the markers which locked me into a class system and gave me an advantage for the future. The only downside at this time was that it completely ostracised me from the children in my neighborhood. It was a lonely time and my sole consolation was my mother’s admonition that “I could be anything I wanted to be”.

I owe a great deal, both to my mother and Mrs Keighthly since they did make my life much easier several years later.

image from imdb.com   Beautiful, serene, mysterious and an exquisite lady.

After  my grandmother had passed away the family emigrated to Australia, the land of opportunity. It was an enormous culture shock, but I had one huge advantage. When we, my brothers and I, went to school, no-one realised that I was “a Pom”.  You wouldn’t think such a simple label could cause so much angst. With my ‘non accent’ I escaped totally unscathed, but not so my brothers. The ridicule for speaking “funny” was unbelievable. Perhaps most horrifying was the singular mockery from a Kiwi teacher my brother had to endure. Everything from the way he spoke, wrote his essays to his refusal to be cowed by this bullying was a target for this man.

His error? He learned I was at the school also, in a higher grade, and had the unmitigated gall to ask me, in front of my classmates in a loud voice,”How come a girl like you ended up with a brother like him?”  He was referring, of course, to my lack of a Yorkshire accent.

Unfortunately for both the teacher and the school principal they had to deal with my mother the following day. Sometimes justice does prevail. Apologies to my brother, mother and myself were followed by his transfer from the school. I only hope he never taught anywhere else after that.

I was told the other day I sounded like an Australian, which made my husband laugh. I’ve managed to ‘fit in’ so that my background is not immediately apparent, but the idiosyncrasies are plain for all to hear. There is always my love of unusual words, a difference in diction which sets me apart. It’s not that I desire to be different, it’s simply who  I am. I love the richness of the tapestry English language gives me and I unconsciously use it all the time. My brothers have “acclimatised” but retain some of their “Yorkshire ‘isms.’

image from http://www.collectingbooksandmagazines.com  Accents one al all.

The truth is not so strange really.  I’m neither typically Aussie nor typically English. I have, perversely, retained an unyielding dislike for putting ‘tags’ on people, so being a Pom or an Aussie is not welcomed. This is my home, the country I would defend should the need arise, but I don’t require a label to do so. I firmly believe that my choice to live here means embracing all that Australia is, and leaving my past behind. The divisions which exist here, or in any country, due to race, colour or creed are brought about because people fail to understand one simple truth. If you wish to move to another country, for a better life, then you must be willing to accept all that country is.

It does not mean losing your identity, nor your religion, but you must assimilate into your new society and community. Such refusal to become part of your new country is a rejection of the reason you came here. If you cannot accommodate the ways of your new country, in this case Australia, then you shouldn’t be here, you should be back where your way of life fits in.

Perhaps that is harsh, but then life can be harsh. If you want to be saved from the tyranny of your own land then, by default, you should not bring those very elements of your old life to this country and try to foist them on your new country, thereby causing divisiveness here also.  Australia is an English-speaking country and at the least it should be mandatory that all people be able to speak and understand the language of the country. I wouldn’t emigrate to or seek refuge in a foreign speaking country and expect them to change for my sake.

Then, this is simply my opinion, and fortunately we still retain the semblance of freedom of speech. Just to finish my opinions, I reject the implication that we, or any Australians, should be forced to change or subjugate our religious beliefs because new Australians feel they can and will impose their beliefs on the country which accepted them.

image from izquotes.com     The Secret to Freedom Everywhere.

These are my ideas and my experiences. What holds true for me may not for you, but I hope they give you something to think about.

What would you say?

Ciao, Susan

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Sunrise, tranquility hiding a fiery combat

Sunrise, tranquility hiding a fiery combat

The past few days have been quite busy, for me at least. There are times it is difficult to reconcile the reduced activity level from days past. Now I am an observer of life as it passes me by, or as happened today, in front of me.

It had been a quiet day, quiet apart from the cacophony from the building sites and the ever present noise of vehicles scooting past.  The peace and tranquility of the Crystal Castle seemed a million light years past. Ray had just brought a beautiful cup of French Earl Grey tea in for me. It has the most beautiful of aromas if you like the slightly perfumed teas.

Suddenly there was an ear splitting noise from outside my window. It sounded like a cross between a cats howl, dogs growl and a thunderous rumbling from some devilish creature. I have never heard anything quite like it before.  Curiosity drew us to the window to see what was making this deadly racket It had doubled in intensity so we knew two creatures were locked in a fight to the death. The sight that met our eyes was totally unexpected. All the photos of the fight were taken through the window, hence the diffused appearance.

Kookoaburra 1 (Copy)

Here you can see the dominant bird has almost a death grip on his opponent.

The Laughing Kookaburra is well known as a symbol of Australia’s bird life and is also known as the “Laughing Jackass”.  I have seen then sitting atop aerials and tall posts, our balcony rail and flying around. They are territorial birds and the largest member of the Kingfisher family. They have a beak which can reach 4 inches (10 centimeters) long. It has a wicked looking hook on the top beak. They are known for attacking even Brown Snakes. As you can see, at the beginning of Spring, in a fight for territory they will fight each other.

Kookoaburra  2 (Copy)

With a lunge the challenger tried to get away but there was no going until the duel was over!

Kookoaburra  3 (Copy)

Flung back to the ground the noise became even louder.

Kookoaburra  4 (Copy)

One beady eye was all we could see but it had death deep inside its black depths. As the challenger was pushed towards the front porch it seemed a matter of time until there was only one bird left standing.

Kookoaburra  6 (Copy)

With the end possibly in sight I couldn’t stand by and watch it happen. (I know, its part of life in the wild).  Being the brave soul I am, and also wielding the camera, I sent Ray outside to see what would happen. Usually, as soon as humans appear most birds will fly away. The Kookaburra doesn’t seem to have this fear of people. He knows he is the “King”  in his arena.

For the longest moment there was no reaction to a human presence. I was beginning to doubt that there was anything except one end, the death of the loser. The dominant bird must have eased his grip slightly which allowed, with a sudden flurry of feathers, the downed bird to take off. With a squawk of fury, the other bird flew after him. Through trees and round bushes they disappeared into the distance to continue to the struggle or until he had chased his competitor out of his territory.

DSCN3624 (Copy)

Once more secure in his territory he reappeared to sit, keeping a wary eye out for interlopers, on our balcony railing. Once more he was the Laughing Kookaburra, “merry merry king of the bush”.

For those who like information:-

The Laughing Kookaburra gets its name from its manic laughter-like call. Its early dawn and dusk cackling chorus earned it the nickname “bushman’s clock.”

Laughing kookaburras are monogamous, territorial birds that nest in tree holes. Females lay one to five eggs, which are tended by a collective unit composed of parents and elder siblings. Fledgling kookaburras generally remain with their parents to help care for the subsequent clutch.

Who can forget the Children’s nursery rhyme? I might add that this is thew first time I have seen the full lyrics.

Kookaburra sits on the Old Gum Tree

Kookaburra sits on the old gum tree
Merry, merry king of the bush is he
Laugh Kookaburra, laugh Kookaburra
Gay your life must beKookaburra sits on the old gum tree
Counting all the monkeys he can see
Stop Kookaburra, stop Kookaburra
That’s not a monkey that’s me

Kookaburra sits on the old gum tree
Eating all the gumdrops he can see
Stop Kookaburra, stop Kookaburra
Leave some there for me

Kookaburra sits on the old gum tree
He fell down and broke his knee
Ouch Kookaburra, ouch Kookaburra
Glad tha was not me

To end I’d like to add one of my favourite quotes:

I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself. A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough without ever having felt sorry for itself.”
D. H. Lawrence

Ciao, Susan x

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This is the ship which really was the start of my biggest adventure up to that point.

My parents had decided to bring the family to Australia and we were to travel here on the MS Achille Lauro. Since I had never been on a cruise up to that point in time it was a big adventure. Leaving England and coming to Australia was a huge adventure but we had to get there first.

We arrived at Southampton late in the day as everyone was boarding and, I’m sorry to say, I missed seeing the White Cliffs of Dover as we set sail in the middle of the night.  The excitement of the trip down from Yorkshire, traveling around London in a big old black cab, catching the subway for the first time, all these firsts finally caught up with all of us and we were sound asleep when we set sail. One day I will sail past those cliffs so that I can take some photos… it would be criminal in one sense not to.

The next morning we were well out to sea with not a landmark in sight. The air was balmy, sun shining and the sense of adventure was almost enough to stop me eating. Almost, but not quite! I had never seen such a massive array of food offered for breakfast. It wasn’t a three course meal, it felt like a ten course meal. Being too excited I restricted myself to some nice and easy to digest oatmeal… I wasn’t taking any chances of being ill. I was almost beside myself with eagerness at getting up on deck and exploring.

However, my father had decreed that since it was an Italian ship, Italian crew, and everyone knew what Italian men were like, I had to be chaperoned at all times! What a balloon buster!! But, I couldn’t be down for long, there was simply too much to do and see and experience.

On the Achille Lauro, travelling to Australia

On the Achille Lauro, traveling to Australia

The dining room was enormous, of course, and each meal was an adventure. The waiters treated us like royalty, which was really great for the ego! But there was so much more.  From the front (bow) of the ship I could watch the dolphins flying past, seeming to dodge directly under the prow and leap forward once again. I could have spent all day there mesmerised by them.   This became my personal escape if I wanted to spend some quiet time and daydream about ocean travel, mermaids and dolphins and being carried away by gorgeous Italian men. (Sigh).

We, as a family of course, explored the ship from ‘stem to stern’ and as many places in between. We seemed to find ourselves in the lounge often as there was coffee there all day long and morning tea, afternoon tea and supper were served there every day. The waiters took it upon themselves to try to teach me a few words of Italian every time I had to get something, and as the eldest child, that meant quite often. I was in heaven.

Our first port of call was in the Canary Islands where the crew promptly went on strike! They claimed the ship had been loaded incorrectly and if we hit bad weather the ship would turn turtle! The Poseidon Adventure had not long been released and I had visions of drowning at sea since swimming was not my forte.

So each day we had to disembark and head into the town of Tenerife to buy our food with the vouchers the ship gave us. What an experience that was! Walking down the gangplank was the first obstacle. The local Spanish population of males seemed to congregate at first light and line the bottom of the gangway and along the pier. This was in 1972, the era of the mini skirt and ours (Mums and mine) were pretty much par for the era, that is fairly short. As we descended the gangway grubby hands darted up our skirts and pinched the tops of our legs or bottoms depending on how high they managed to reach.

It didn’t take long for us to be covered in black and blue bruises. Dad and my brothers became the rear guard to prevent as much grabbing as possible. It saved us from being crippled before the week was over. At the end of the week half the Italian crew went home and we were given Spanish crew members to make up the quota. This presented quite a problem as the Italians spoke little Spanish, the Spaniards spoke little if any Italian and we spoke neither Italian nor Spanish. I should add that the Italians at least spoke English. We managed but it became interesting in the dining room.

On one memorable day, when the Captain had decided he was going to cut close to the Cape of Good Hope to avoid ‘rough’ weather we were entertained by a few interesting experiences. To start with it was hellishly rough close to the Cape. My youngest brother was terribly seasick and the warder brought copious amounts of lemon for him to settle his stomach. For the rest of us it was fun and games getting up to the lounge. The ship was rolling badly and we had to time our dash up the stairs to the roll of the ship.  In high heels too!

Once there we thought everything would be fine. As we looked out the window on one side of the ship we could see beautiful blue sky and at the exact moment on the other side we could see nothing but blue water…. very interesting and exciting.  The bartender had few customers that day and was polishing his vast quantity of glassware. I’m not sure he thought about it too much since as we rolled through a particularly wide arc the glasses began to slide of the right side of the bar. He spread his hands wide around his glasses as we started to roll back the other way. The glasses he couldn’t hold onto went sliding noisily off the other end of the bar.  Thank heavens the tables were bolted down!

And we were only halfway there. We stopped in Cape Town for a day. There was a tour of the city which was disturbing. As we were walking along an African man fell to the ground with an epileptic seizure. As calmly as you like our tour guide continued talking and shepherding us across the street. When we suggested going to help we were politely but firmly told to not get involved. “His people would look after him”.  Our first exposure to Apartheid. It put a dampener on the excursion, but the sight of Table Mountain, right out of Wilbur Smiths books helped – a little.

From there we sailed to Durban. Just a brief stopover, but it whetted my appetite to return, one day! From there we sailed across to Fremantle.  Once again we unfortunately didn’t get to see very much. Our week delay in Tenerife meant we were behind schedule and arrived there in the middle of the night. Dad and I walked the pier for a time and I got my first little koala. I still have it today.

Next stop was Melbourne where it was raining and freezing. This was supposed to be Australia, we had left the English winter behind! We  made a dash into town to get some jeans since all our warm clothes were in the steamer trunks. We were running back up the pier to the ship as it took longer than expected, with the crew chivvying  us along saying the ship would sail without us. I’m here so we obviously made it.

image from blogs.harcourts.com.au

After this it was smooth sailing to Sydney where we were met with another problem. Originally we had sleeper berths organised for the trip to Brisbane which was our final destination. Being a week late meant that other arrangements had to be made. So, we had a lovely day being taken round Sydney, The Rocks and Botany Bay as our introduction to Australia. We were still confused  because it was still cold!  Onto the overnight train to Queensland and our final leg of the journey was commenced.

image from http://www.dreamstime.com – Botany Bay!

Excitement eventually won out and I fell asleep during the night only to wake and find Dad had left his seat next to me.  Of course that meant I had to go find him. I did track him down in the bar, having a quiet drink and a smoke with a few other stalwarts who couldn’t sleep. This meant he had to return to keep me corralled for the rest of the night. Arriving at midday the next morning was a shock to the system. It was 42 degrees Celsius and we were wearing heavy denim jeans! OMG we all thought we were going to pass out. We wanted to get back on that air-conditioned train and where were the kangaroos? We had been fed a long diet of tales of kangaroos hopping down the street and koalas in every tree and not a one in sight, just a huge golden orb that was frying our brains.

image from news.domain.com.au –

Of course no one thought to tell us that most of the houses were timber either. It was all so new we wondered if we were on a different planet. In some ways we were, aliens in a foreign land. The summer was long and hot and we burned and burned some more. And they (the school) expected us to play sport in the heat!  Cruel, sadistic and totally heartless. Fortunately we survived… I’m still here. I never recovered from the shock of getting off the train into that furnace-like heat and still dislike the summer. Then again, not everything is meant to change.

I hope you enjoyed my trip to Australia and I want to finish with the last sight anyone had of the Achille Lauro.

image fromhttp://www.ssmaritime.com/achillelauro.htm

“You can’t prepare for everything life’s going to throw at you. And you can’t avoid danger. It’s there. The world is a dangerous place, and if you sit around wringing your hands about it, you’ll out on all the adventure.”
Jeannette Walls, Half Broke Horses

To Grand Adventures, wherever we find them.

Ciao, Susan x (c) Susan Jamieson

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image from ninglunbooks.wordpress.com

This may sound strange, but the first time I saw, let alone used a typical outside ‘Dunny’ was when I came to Australia in 1972. It is only strange in that coming from the UK, I am led to believe there used to be many outside toilets, but I had been fortunate not to come across any. Strange but true.

The summer of ’72 was hot and the family, who were already in Australia, did their best to take us around the South East parts of Queensland and see as much as we could over these summer holidays. It was on one such excursion when it was pitilessly hot, for someone from the UK winter anything over 25 degrees Celsius was going to be hot, and my bladder was screaming for release that I relented and entered my first ‘Long Drop’.

There are always a huge number of people who will regale you with tales of the perils of using the outside dunny and the long drop. The dunny was the home of the green tree frogs who would come out, especially once the heat of the day was over and would often jump up onto your nether regions as you were ensconced on the dunny.  Then there were the Redback spiders – whose bite was painful and on the nether regions could be extremely embarrassing as well.  “Always lift the seat before sitting down”, I was told.

Then there were the admonitions to check the walls and under the roof for daddy long legs or tarantulas that might decided to wander in on you.  That is of course forgetting about the odd snake which may have slithered into the yard between the house and the dunny. Altogether it did not seem to be somewhere I would really want to go if I could avoid it.

But first, the “Long Drop”. No one would say anything about it, simply smiled that “I can’t wait to see this” smile you knew was up to no good.

image from drawinz.com –

It was hot, we had been drinking copiously and bladders would not be ignored any longer. I approached this “Long Drop” with something akin to dread. Inside was a wooden box with a toilet seat on it. Taking all my spare courage I peeked over the edge since I could swear I could see daylight. All I could see was fresh air, yes, fresh air, and a huge drop going down and down and down.

You could say it was the most delicate seating I had experienced in my life to that point. I was terrified that if I sat down I would fall through this hole and vanish down the mountainside. I didn’t want to think about the specifics of how it worked, I simply wanted to find some relief and leave….. quickly. Needless to say my Australianised family thought it was the most humorous thing they had ever seen.  I didn’t repeat the experience. You can wait an awful long time before succumbing to needless torture.

Yet the most horrifying experience came when I visited my future  husband’s family property. They still had the old outside dunny. The house was a beautiful Queenslander and I simply didn’t think about the toilet, I  assumed it would be just like the one at home. We didn’t arrive until late in the afternoon so it was after dusk before I felt the ‘urge’.  Of course as soon as I mentioned it to my wonderful boyfriend he decided it was time to remind me about all those old stories I had heard when I first arrived in Australia. By this time I had been here just over two years.

So  I waited, and waited and waited until I couldn’t wait any longer. The outhouse was situated under an old spreading gum, shade for during the day, but of course in my mind easy access for any creepy crawlies and slithering reptiles who would delight in scaring the living daylights out of me.  So I took the easy way out and applied copious amounts of guilt on my boyfriend in front of his grandmother to walk me up the ‘garden path’. Big mistake. HUGE Mistake. GARGANTUAN mistake.

Torch in hand off we walked to the dunny. “You go first” he said.  Humpf! There was no interior light so once the door closed it was pitch black. I  had barely time to try to sit down before there was an almighty crash onto the tin roof! An unladylike strangled scream split the air. (I was trying to make a good impression on his grandmother). I almost launched myself off the offending dunny but nature could not be denied. 

A minute passed and then here were two more crashes onto the roof. This time the screech was not strangled and I very nearly had an accident. At the speed of light I was off the dunny, dressed and out that door. There I found, not a concerned boyfriend, not an army of snakes or bats or anything else in the critter variety but the huddled and tortured form of my boyfriend. He was holding himself upright, just, and trying to smother screeches of laughter from erupting from his throat, I could see by the light of the torch that he was red in the face and had  tears running down his face.

Fortune was with me. I grabbed the nearest loose object, which happened to be a cement hard lump of dirt and threw it with all my might at him. The resounding thud and choking sounds were more than satisfying as I stalked back to the house.  I had already connected with his grandmother so I was delighted to tell her what her grandson had done. He spent the night on the cold verandah on a day bed (in the middle of winter) and I snuggled under a beautiful doona with an electric blanket.

The moral of the story, it’s all very well to take the mickey out of someone but be prepared to face the consequences if they don’t take kindly to your sense of humour.

The final epitaph to the story is that I never entered another outhouse for many years, and that is one story which still gives me nightmares.

image from funnymemes.com.au

See, I’m telling the truth… tarantulas on the toilet roll.

Aussie saying…..

May your chooks turn into emus and kick your dunny down.

image from http://www.sportingpulse.com The Dunny Race!

Retaining some semblance of dignity I have never been in a dunny race,



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You must match your energy, your vibration, with that of the universe, bringing it to a higher frequency where it synchronizes with the object, person, or situation you require.”
Stephen Richards   

“Serendipity. Look for something, find something else, and realize that what you’ve found is more suited to your needs than what you thought you were looking for.”   Lawrence Block

I have been laid up in bed, more than a little irritated at everything in general and myself in particular. It’s all a rather fruitless exercise. In other words, a glorious waste of time. What made it worse, at least so it seemed to me, was I lost my “mojo” or I thought I had, as a dear friend called it in her blog, “Lost your creative mojo?”.

The strange thing was, I couldn’t  sleep, at least not at night. As soon as the lights went out my eyes popped open and I felt like a proverbial owl, gazing steadfastly into the dark hoping for – well something to happen. Now, I’ve been in this little pickle before, and there is little use fighting it by counting sheep. All it succeeds in doing is putting me off lamb for a while. (Apologies to any vegetarians, but in actual fact I eat little meat anyway).

I had, over a period of many hours, used all of my meditation tapes, CD’s, chants, visualisation, and I wasn’t having any joy. So, I decided that I had to change tack. The very thing which was causing my nocturnal interruptus was going to be there in the morning and it wouldn’t let me rest until I made a decision. Yet making that decision was giving me a migraine and an ulcer. You’ve probably worked out that the “problem” was family oriented. It’s the one which usually causes the most angst.

Diversionary tactics were called for. After a decade I picked up my crochet and started that.  This in itself was a huge thing for me and was part of my ” 2013 Creative Challenge“. By itself it was a huge help and I enjoyed it immensely. The satisfaction of seeing this fragile mat take shape under my hands was uplifting. However, I was conscious of not overdoing it, since it has been more than a decade since I had been able to do anything, thanks to a ‘minor’ accident. This was my finished mat a few days ago. It has taken me two days to get it onto my blog….

One Pineapple mat - for Mum.

One Pineapple mat – for Mum.

After the crochet I went for my trusty Kindle and read until my eyes felt as though they were hanging out of my head on stalks. I’m quite sure I could have auditioned for a sci-fi movie without any prosthetics required. By this time I was feeling somewhat surreal, staggering around like someone who had been on a three-day bender and I hadn’t had a drop!

image from ereaders.venturebeat.com

I’ve managed to find a super little book light which makes reading at night a breeze. Once again, my accident over a decade ago had stopped me reading until late last year. My love affair with books has been rekindled… pardon the play on words.  Most of my books are heavy-duty tomes and I want to make sure that when I finally pick them up it’s not going to cause any problems. The Kindle has sorted that out beautifully. Once again, thanks to Ray.

Yet eventually, pounding headache, eyes hanging on dry stalks and a raging backache also put a stop to that. Then came the journal.  In my heyday it was called a diary… how’s that for dating things! I used to keep one regularly. Nearly slipped up and said religiously, but I don’t want to cause offense to anyone. Yes, you may detect that I am feeling lethargic, tired, slightly slow in the thinking department, in short all the signs and symptoms of the sleep deprived. Yet, despite that it served a tremendous service.

image from my.opera.com

As has my foray for a picture to break up my meandering. I’ve written volumes but haven’t thought to add pictures or any of my scribbled drawings before this.  My journal has now been given a new lease of life.  Each dawn I grab a few pictures as the world, down in Australia at least, wakes up.  I listen to the beautiful serenade from the rainforest birds and the general waking up of the local wildlife whilst I wind down. I do my final meditation of the ‘morning’ for everyone out there and then lay down again. In my own way I wind up my day/night with thoughts of the world and my prayers and wishes for a better day for everyone wherever they may be.

Perhaps that’s what causes the final flourish of the magic wand. After this meditation I drift off to sleep, only to wake two hours later in excruciating agony as all the muscles in my neck, head and back let me know they have seized up. My body has betrayed me yet again.

My dear, sweet, long-suffering husband, helps me to the bathroom, since I look like a question mark and he worries  about whether I can find my way there and back again and I am ensconced in the spare room, which has my old bedroom suite in it. I have learned that sleeping alone in a water bed when your back and so on are protesting, is not a good proposition. As I doze in two hourly increments throughout the day, he supplies me with tea, coffee, toast, all the supplements to help me and a strong arm to get me to the bathroom and back. My angel in truth.

So there we are. The three things which are keeping me semi sane: My Crochet, Kindle and Journal. Is that Synchronicity or Serendipity, I really can’t decide. Now the cotton wool filled brain appears to be letting up a little, I may have another string to my bow – my blog, which despite my challenge to myself to blog every other day, has gone awry this week. I don’t think the tapestry will make it into the bed as it may prove too uncomfortable for my husband. He is generous enough at sharing the bed with everything else. (I wonder if a puppy will have any luck?)

And,  there we have it. The reason for my absence. I have been thoroughly pumped at receiving my Award for my blog, and since I felt somewhat better, decided to let you know why I was MIA. I will try to stay on track, although a specialist appointment mid next week may throw me off. That, and my brothers, which is another topic for another day.

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image from love4anime.deviantart.com

This post began yesterday, January 1st, the first day of a new year.  For some of you it will still be January 1 in other parts of the world, but down here in Australia, where we are ahead of almost everyone else, it is now January 2nd.

For many people it is still ‘traditional’ to make a New Year’s Resolution‘.  Once it was talked about for days before and after New Years Day, almost as if we needed to ‘turn over a new leaf’ and this was a way of doing just that.  The reality was that, for the most part, these resolutions, if made, lasted barely the first week of the new year. Sometimes people would make a strong start but eventually it would fade away under the pressures of everyday life, or it was simply too difficult to keep it going.  The new leaf simply withered slowly away like the autumn leaves  withering on the trees before falling off.  Another cycle ended.

image from frugalityuk.blogspot.com

So this is my look at 2013, through new eyes.

I started blogging several months ago, more as an outlet for someone who was unable to get out very much and I realised that I was really enjoying putting my thoughts down.  I did make one fatal mistake when I started though. As grateful as I was for the people who read and ‘liked’ my posts, I forgot to remain mindful of the fact that these wonderful people deserved to hear my heartfelt gratitude. I forgot to thank them. Such a simple thing to do, to say thank you, to be grateful that someone had taken the time to read my blog and to say they ‘liked’ it.  This is a lesson I will take into 2013 with me – looking with new eyes at my actions.

image from family.wikinut.com

So, I’m not making a resolution, in fact I haven’t done so for many years. Instead I’m looking with new eyes at how I would like 2013 to be. What I’m looking  at is how I can make 2013 better, not only for myself but for everyone I interact with, either through my blog or in person.

One of my goals is to try to get something out on my blog every other day. I want to share what my insights are, my hopes, my dreams, my aspirations for 2013 and beyond. I want to let those of you who have chosen to like and follow my blog share in my victories, commiserate (I hope)  when things don’t go according to my hopes and plans and in the process we can all learn more about living a better life together.  We will all be learning to look at life through different eyes.

image from weheartit.com

That’s my plan, not a resolution. One of the goals on my dream board.

Please join me and invite others to join us in supporting each other as we expand our vision for each day, week, month and our futures throughout 2013 and beyond.

image from nasa.gov

Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation. Brian Tracy

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