We are finally home.

It feels great. Dogs have been picked up and bathed. They are now twice their size with fluff. The kitchen has food, laundry is done and real life is beginning again.

Now I have things to do such as read some books, renew my passport as I squeaked into New Zealand with just over 3 months left on it. Most countries require six months left, so got lucky. I think the best part of travel is anticipating it and then returning home exhausted. I also have to have my annual MRI on my brain next week before the MS specialist clinic appointment. Always things to look forward to.

I read Yeonmi Park’s book While Time Remains. It is an easy, interesting read but needs tighter editing as there is much repetition in it. The story is certainly worthwhile and her comparisons with what happening, politically in the USA comparatively with autocratically run countries is frightening. I really need to completely tune out my home country and only immerse myself in Australia’s systems. I would never go back.

On to more pleasant things. I have been continuing to listen to David Sedaris about 30 minutes each night. The book I have now is Carnival of Snackery. If you enjoy him as a writer and story teller you will enjoy this one and his books are so easy as a listen. The book club book I am about to begin is Between A Wolf and A Dog by Georgia Blaine. Our book group will discuss that book in May. I had not heard of it but it was published in 2016 by Scribe. Amazon describes it as:




Outside, the rain continues increasing silver sheets sluicing down, the trees and shrubs soaking and bedraggled, the earth sodden, puddles overflowing, torrents coursing onwards, as the darkness slowly softens with the dawn.

Ester is a family therapist with an appointment book that catalogues the anxieties of the middle class: loneliness, relationships, death. She spends her days helping others find happiness, but her own family relationships are tense and frayed. Estranged from both her sister, April, and her ex-husband, Lawrence, Ester wants to fall in love again. Meanwhile, April is struggling through her own directionless life; Lawrence’s reckless past decisions are catching up with him; and Ester and April’s mother, Hilary, is about to make a choice that will profoundly affect them all. 

Taking place largely over one rainy day in Sydney, and rendered with the evocative and powerful prose Blain is known for, Between a Wolf and a Dog is a celebration of the best in all of us — our capacity to live in the face of ordinary sorrows, and to draw strength from the transformative power of art. Ultimately, it is a joyous tribute to the beauty of being alive.

I am looking forward to reading it.

Now I will leave you with some roadside photos of the southern island of New Zealand. My main photos taken with my big camera are still on the card. Those will be shared here and there in future but enjoy the drive.

Wallpaper on a cafe bathroom wall. We loved it.
The view from our air bnb in Lake Takapo
Back on the road.
We stopped at a cafe and general store and met these friendly sheep working dogs.
View from our hotel window in Queenstown.
Penguin’s new friend who came home with us. Mr Kokako

Until next time.

Queenstown, New Zealand

So far we have had a very lovely, laid back trip. We don’t have long days of driving and stay at each destination for two nights. Weather has varied between beautiful days to pouring rain.

I have taken photos as we go. I’ll post up a few here. Looking forward to getting home and seeing our fur guys. We always misss the four of them when away. They are such a large part of our lives but all are in good hands.

A fun Mexican restaurant we ate at in Christ Church.
Dahlias in a Botanical gardens in Timaru.
Botanical gardens in Dunedin. They are known for their giant rhododendron trees
Presbyterian cathedral in Dunedin
Monapouri sunset on west coast.

Arrived into Queenstown last night to a very rainy welcome but it has since cleared up.

View from our room.

Tomorrow we head to Lake Topako then back to Christchurch. They had a 4+ earthquake the day after we left so we didn’t feel it but I understand people there felt it. Not an experience I aspire to.

Mr Penguin finished Yeomi Park’s book, While Time Remains and is now in my possession. I look forward to reading it. Will be back in touch.

I might add I gave up on Seven Moons of Maali Almeida. I’m sure it is an interesting, well written book to have won a Booker but the tale is extremely convoluted and violent from the point of view of a dead man. I will attend the book club meeting to hear about it but just not the book for me while enjoying travels and needs more concentration than I am willing to give at this time.

More soon…….

Rainy Day in New Zealand

We have arrived. Christ Church is a lovely city. Tomorrow we pick up a car and begin circle of the south island. I will try to post but as it is a rainy day there is time. Not sure if the weather becomes gorgeous. 😀🐧

Just sharing some photos with captions today.

Enjoyed the tram loop around the city.
Rainy day street photography with the phone.
No idea who the man is. A wonderful book store.
In front of the book store.

Mr Penguin picked up this book. I met her at the Sydney Writers festival years ago and was so impressed. Her first book is simply amazing of her escape from North Korea. We both admire her so much.

Time for afternoon tea.

Mr Penguin is happy to have found a newspaper.
Afternoon tea. Decadence encapsulated. Mfudgy brownie with a berry syrupy fill inside, cream and hokey pokey gelato
Need I say more?
The gelato has a dog walking event. We saw it last night. About 50 dogs. Then hey all get treated to doggie gelato. The recipe is: blend together peanut butter, banana and cocoanut milk in a blender then freeze. I will have to try this with our dogs. I think they would love it.

Already March

This won’t be long as there is much to do this week. We leave on a two week driving holiday of the south island of New Zealand before too long. First time out of the country for me since 2019. Looking forward to it.

I will definitely be focusing on photography while there and hopefully will have a photo or two to share when I return.

So what else has been going on? I am about to begin the book The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka. Our book group will be discussing this in April. It won the 2022 Booker Prize. It looks interesting but might be quite the complex read.

The Amazon blurb reads as:

An epic, searing satire by Sri Lanka’s coolest author.

“Colombo, 1990. Maali Almeida, war photographer, gambler and closet queen, has woken up dead in what seems like a celestial visa office. His dismembered body is sinking in the serene Beira lake and he has no idea who killed him. At a time where scores are settled by death squads, suicide bombers and hired goons, the list of suspects is depressingly long, as the ghouls and ghosts with grudges who cluster round can attest. But even in the afterlife, time is running out for Maali. He has seven moons to try and contact the man and woman he loves most and lead them to a hidden cache of photos that will rock Sri Lanka.

Ten years after his prizewinning novel Chinaman established him as one of Sri Lanka’s foremost authors, Shehan Karunatilaka is back with a mordantly funny, searing satire. The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida is a state-of-the-nation epic that proves yet again that the best fiction offers the ultimate truth.”

I am also listening to something much lighter in David Sedaris’s latest, Happy Go Lucky. The Times says this about it:

“Could there be a more delightful American import than the memoirist David Sedaris? Not since the peanut butter and jelly sandwich have we inherited something so sweet and comforting yet so wickedly naughty.”

I went south of Hobart yesterday to a grotty old beach to metal detect. I didn’t find anything much, mostly trash, but had a good couple of hours listening to this book on the drive there and back. I was laughing out loud in the car.

The only other bookish news I have is I got into Fuller’s monthly poetry class. They will meet towards the end of the month for 2 hours. I am not familiar with the facilitators of the group but know the group was very popular last year. I was on a waiting list all year last year but managed to get squeezed in this year. I don’t know a lot about poetry other than what I learned in school last century😃. It will all be new for the most part so I’ll let you know how it goes. I don’t know if the shared reading of a book is happening this year. The facilitator just had a baby and is a bit busy.

That catches you up a bit so I will leave you with a couple of photos, one of the tourist trade here and one of our beaches.

This is a favourite. Tourists sitting at the Hobart waterfront, one of the most beautiful places in the world, enjoying the scenery. I could hardly believe it.

What did you read/do this weekend?

One of my metal detecting sites.

Quite the fun week….

I’m going to start with Tuesday as Monday was Regatta day here and also the last day of the big Wooden Boat festival that saw our harbour full of tall ships and very old lovely boats all made of wood. First time since Covid and I know it was well attended due to all the tourists in town as well as a cruise ship. I stayed home. I don’t enjoy crowds anymore.

Tuesday had me back to the eye specialist for a six month check. Although I have sight in the left eye everything remains stable and good eye is still good. Happy with that.

Read some more from Remainders of the day of the Wigtown bookseller in Scotland. That is the book I read waiting for appointments and the bus.

Tuesday night I began in Photo club 2. First time. A small group of lovely, very active, friendly photographers who always do photographic activities with a coffee shop and chats. My kind of group. Early March we are all going to go to a country show to take photos. Should be fun.

Wednesday uneventful except I had a good weights class. Was really in the zone which is often unusual. Walking through the city mall I came across an old dog tied to a pole with several young women around it concerned as no sign of owner. In the sun, on cement, no water. The girls brought it water. I called RSPCA to report. They said ring Council. I did. Dog control guy unavailable. Dog was there about 30 minutes when a young woman dressed as a goth, spikes, buckles, tatts (which is fine with me) arrived back with her dog. I gave her a verbal serve as this quite old dog should not be treated with such a lack of respect. I berated her a bit and she in reply was very sarcastic and rude in return. In the background of the mall while this was going on a busker singing operatic soprano at top of her voice was happening, along with a homeless man the police were being very kind to, yelling at the top of his lungs. It was quite chaotic actually that afternoon. I left the forh, she got her dog, continued to make fun of me. I didn’t care. I made my point in front of quite a few people.

Customer chooses a wrapped, unknown book to buy. Enough description provided to determine type of book. One book has a $103.00 voucher in it. Almost all of the books sold. The pile was twice this size when I went in there in the morning.

Thursday was Fullers Book shop 103rd birthday. Lots going on in the shop. All good fun. Stopped in, had a coffee, listened to the jazz quartet that was playing live all afternoon. Love that store. Also a geoup against racism from TAFE were invited in to choose some journals for their writing as gifts. Lovely idea.

Photo by Fullers staff
The TAFE students with their new journals. Students against racism. Photo by Fullers staff

Thursday night a friend of mine and I went to a launch of the book The Manuscript, A story of revenge by Lucy Bloom. She talked about how she got her idea, told us about character development and presented as a really fun speaker. She had very bad laryngitis so the event was cut short but no one minded. We all had fun. So quite a fun week.

Came home and continued to work my way through Lessons in Chemistry. Enjoying most of it but don’t like how the dog is anthropomorphised. I find that irritating. Other than that it is fun to read.

Today Hobart is to get to 32C (96F). I went up to my secret site that used to have an old building on it that burned in the 67 bushfires. I found a 1974 one cent coin and a 1990 2 cent coin and a hole with 10 very old, bent, corroded nails that have been in the ground for a very long time. I thought maybe an apprentice from years ago was learning to use a hammer and bent all the nails, buried them all in a hole so his boss didn’t find them. It is fun to make up stories.

What a week. I’ll scrounge up some photos and get this on line. Hope everyone is well and your week is good.

A Dash Through February

I hope everyone is well and adjusting to the speed to which this year is going. Lots happening here so will break it down into manageable paragraphs.

BOOKS: Reading Shaun Bythell’s third diary of his Wigtown, Scottish bookstore. He sure seems to fit the profile of some of the curmudgeonly book sellers I met while travelling in the UK a few years ago. The characters he writes about are good fun to follow and having read both Diary of a Bookseller and Confessions of a Bookseller, I continue to enjoy this very much.

I am also reading Lessons In Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus. Her story revolves around women trying to pursue a decent career as scientists in the 1950s (I believe…60’s?) as they are very much discriminated against by the male scientists. I always find that so frustrating but I am enjoying the story.

Fullers book club begins in April. We were sent the book list for the first 4 months and I am very much waiting for it. Our first read to be discussed is Ernest Hemingway’s book, The Sun Also Rises. I have read a couple of his others but never that one as it has bull fighting in it which I really dislike. So I will skip over that part. It is not a very long book so should be able to polish it off. I have always wanted to read more of him.

TRAVEL: We are finally going to go somewhere out of the country. Not that far but really looking forward to it. Two weeks of a road trip in the south island of New Zealand. We have previously travelled the north island so really looking forward to photographing this area. More to come.

CULTURE: I saw David Sedaris at the Theatre Royal and he was hilarious. Very modest and very funny. He is such a keen observer of everyday life and makes the most mundane laughable. The theatre was packed and everyone stamped feet, applauded and yelled out when he conversed directly with the audience with house lights up. What a fun night out. People here are always happy when performers come to Tasmania as most forget about our little state down here but more enthusiastic audiences will not be found when someone does choose to visit.

NEW OBSESSION: Since I left motorbiking and struggle as I miss it so much I needed something to replace the interest. A few years ago I had a metal detector that was a very low end model. I had no group support or idea of what could be done with it and it went by the wayside. Well I have dived into the earth big time now. Not reading much but learning all the settings on this Minelab Equinox 800. Thank goodness for You Tube. Have linked up with some very supportive Tassie and Victorian detectorists. I put up a post on our local Good Karma fb page and have several offers to detect some very old properties locally. I have a large bush park behind us here that supposedly had a building on it that was burned in the 1967 fires. I have found several interesting items, including a pre decimal coin and name brands on a canister and brewery that are no longer in business. I research each item as much as possible and the detectorist groups help with item description and cheer each other on. I really enjoy it. It also works on balance, stepping on a shovel with one foot 🤠, knee strength, getting up and down and muscle action, digging through baked clay and sandstone. More on that as it happens.

PHOTOGRAPHY: Continues to go well. I begin attendance this coming week at a second club I’ve not attended before and looking forward to meeting the men and women in it who seem to be quite active.

FITNESS: Still lifting those weights, walking a lot especially detecting beaches. Diet going well, lost 2 kilos simply by removing all sweet food from house except Frosty Fruit icy poles that help deal with the late night cravings of ice cream, biscuits and chocolate.

Hopefully this brings you up to date with Tassie life. Let me know what you do when you aren’t reading books. For fun, of course. All the best.

Holidays Are Over- Well and Truly

David Sedaris

Hi everyone. It has been very busy lately with a lot of activities. So not to dawdle I’ll just bring us up to the current week.

MONDAY: Back to weight class but our regular instructor is on holiday so we had a very hyperactive instructor from Brazil. I haven’t seen such mania and chaos in a person in a long time. I actually left a few minutes early as I had finished my main exercises and had to find some calm.

That night I finished a book by David Sedaris. Theft by Finding. It is his diary from his attendance at university to just beginning to get serious about his writing. He had some really tough experiences with road trips and he had some very hard edged friends. Lots of alcohol, drugs, family issues especially with his parents. He is a feminine looking man and more so as a young man. His parents were both difficult and did not cope with his coming out at all. Homosexuality caused him to receive a great deal of beatings and discrimination back in he 1970s and 80s of America. It is really surprising he has survived his life.

This book is not for the faint hearted who don’t like awful references about women from some of his acquaintances and the language is foul throughout. I actually skipped a few pages when it got too bad. Overall I enjoyed reading about his life as he travelled a great deal throughout the USA, experienced extreme poverty for many years, lived in Europe off and on, mainly in Paris. Throughout he seemed to keep his gentler nature and I wondered how he did so having lived in squalid conditions, sometimes being homeless but always writing, writing, writing. He is also extremely funny and the subjects he pondered were hilarious at times. He has a very unusual (to me) take on the world. The book wore me out but I’m glad to have found it and would certainly read another of his. He is currently touring Australia and I will see him at our beautiful Theatre Royal on 1 Feb. I had tickets to see him before. I did see him here several years ago but the last time Covid cancelled it.

TUESDAY: This day started a new venture. I have a new Minelab, Equinox 800 metal detector. I know, I know. I’ve heard the jokes. I took this up quite a few years ago but didn’t have good equipment but did fine a few old horseshoes from the brewery and a couple old Aussie pennies. Now I’ve upgraded, joined a couple of metal detecting fb groups, one being Tasmania and I plan on getting out with it along with my camera. On my day out I can do photography and when that is done I can do a few sweeps and maybe find some jewellery, coins or even a hidden stash from a gaoled bush ranger who never retrieved. I like the history behind the targets people find. So far as I’m learningabout frequencies and settings and various metal types I’ve only been sweeping my backyard. I found an old chain and lock we lost from our back gate over 30 yrs ago and a broken toaster was dug up out of the yard. Our property used to be owned by Cascade brewery and I’ve found horseshoes and pieces of chain over the years p,anting things. They used this area as a rubbish dump and there is a lot of old fill so who knows what lies buried here in this neighbourhood.

I’ve picked up Patricia Highsmith’s Diary I started sometime back. I’ve been dipping in and out of it for months as it is a very large diary. As a young women, once again, lots of booze and love affairs but now her writing is starting to take off and I’m finding it more interesting. I’ll persevere between other things.

Well I noticed this is very long so going to stop midweek. I can add Thurs through to Sunday soon as there are a couple 0f things happening. So until then. Stay well.

Boxing Day 2022

Well Christmas is all over and I for one am looking forward to the new year. I have American brownies just out of the oven, so the house smells good. I haven’t had anything sweet in the house for ages as my personal trainer at gym suggested I lose a couple of kilos which I have now done. So the brownies will be a treat and then out it all goes again.

I got a light hearted book to read this week. It’s Australian but I’m not familiar with the author. It’s called Everyone In My Family Has Killed Someone by Benjamin Stevenson. It is a mystery filled with dark humour. I have only started it but have had a few laughs. It begins with him having to dispose of a criminal body his brother accidentally ran over with the car. The brother didn’t want to save the man because the man was wearing a balaclava and had a bag with $280,000 of cash in it. Once our protagonist got out of that situation he is obliged to attend a big family reunion in the mountains run by an aunt who organises everything in spreadsheets. The company, the meal, the accommodation and the relatives get memos related to the spreadsheet that drive all of them nuts. Of course there are those spouses that marry into the family who are seen to speak,out of turn. Two of the attendees are participating in a private bingo game unknown to those who are the butt of the game.

A paragraph: ‘Glad you’re finally here. I was waiting for you to rescue me- I knew you’d distract everyone. Here.’ She handed me a small, square piece of cardboard, which had a grid printed on it. Inside each box was a short phrase, relating to different family members: Marcello shouts at a Waiter; Lucy tries to SELL you anything. I spotted my name- Ernest ruins something- in the middle of the left column.

I can see my family having participated in a game such as this in the past. I only wish I had thought of it. Mr Penguin and I had a family very similar to Clark Griswald’s in the film Christmas vacation with Chevy Chase. It has long been our favourite silly Christmas movie along with sharing jokes with my brother.

All of this happens in the first two chapters.

Now we have wrapped up the holiday season quickly I look forward to our reading groups beginning next year as well as my photography groups getting active again. I have joined a second one also and look forward to seeing what they get up to. Stay tuned.

I look forward to hearing about new books out there exchanging hands and a clean slate of a new year beginning. I’ll have a toast that all of us have a good year.

Week of the 12th-Part Two

We’ll kick off here with Thursday today. It has been a very busy week but interesting. I started off Thursday with my trip to the weight training group. Some days I really drag but today I was right up there, feelin’ good.

I had dropped Ollie off at the vet for his sedation and X-ray following his six weeks of recovery from his surgery. I had to get back and pick him up. He is healing well and his orthopaedic surgeon sent us a six week plan of physio. It was addressed to Ollie but I think we’ll have to encourage him on his progression beginning with 15 minute walks through to a short beach walk and then longer bush walks. Six more weeks living life on his lead.

Then Thursday late afternoon had me coming home, scrubbing up and getting myself down to the Theatre Royal for the Tasmanian Literary awards.

I bought a dress for the event but had to exchange it when I discovered it was slightly too small. All I could think of was comedienne Kitty Flanagan saying “If you look like a rolled roast, go up a size”. So I did!

It was a pretty good evening but sadly most of the more well known authors, Amanda Lowry , Robbie Arnott, Aunty Patsy Cameron were not in attendance.

The evening started with a recognition of country by an indigenous poet, sorry I forget her name. The following awards were in the categories of fiction, non fiction, children, poetry (for the first time), Margaret Scott award, and on it went. Australians who are interested in the winner’s list can go here. https://www.arts.tas.gov.au/tasliteraryawards/home .

As this was the first time the awards were held since Covid many were happy to see their return. The honourable MP for the Arts, Elise Archer, liberal, handed out the major awards. The highlight for me was when Andrew Darby won the non fiction category for Flight Lines.

The book…..

“Andrew Darby follows the extraordinary migratory shorebirds from Australia’s southern ocean to the Arctic and back. On these travels he explores the power of science to reveal the mysteries of these birds, and to heal both their endangered world – and unexpectedly – himself.’

The journey of these rare, grey plovers, is incredibly long and perilous. Andrew gave a passionate speech about the risk to these endangered birds by the liberal government’s plan to put up a mass of wind turbines on one of the islands in Bass Strait, directly in the flight path of many of our migratory birds. Of course the presenter of his award is from the liberal party. There was much applause and hooting and hollering.

I think members of our liberal government lie awake at night just thinking of ways they can bulldoze our state and eradicate all wildlife.

It was good to see Arts Council Tasmania bringing back the literary awards. Of course Ms Archer announced a measly increased amount of money in the state budget for the arts. But nothing like the $750 million dollars they are planning to spend on our THIRD football stadium in our little state of 500 million people, half of whom don’t care for football. The AFL won’t give Tasmania a team unless we build a new covered stadium as the existing two are without covers. Forget the ambulance ramping, little to no low cost housing and the increasing number of homeless here. Every state in Australia has one stadium and we are going to have three!

However I won’t start. Instead I will wish everyone a happy holiday season. We are not doing Christmas this year as we have taken our Christmas funds and donated them to animal welfare groups and the Bob Brown organisation for the wonderful environmental work it does. All the best for however you choose to celebrate the season or not.

Ollie will be up and running come January