Ponderings of a retired Tasmanian, photographing, animal loving, book reading, travelling, motorbike riding penguin, growing old disgracefully, who still loves old Penguin books and sharing our world with others.
I live a retired life in Tasmania, Australia. I love books, travel, animals, photography, motor biking and good friends. I indulge in all these activities with the little Travellin' Penguin who has now shared five continents with me. We love book shops, photography walks and time with friends as all our family is in USA and Canada. I enjoy visitors to my blog so hope you'll stop by.
Today I got fed up with the messy book shelf and seeing the books crammed into the shelves at various angles. So I pulled out the step ladder, gave Ollie something to chew other than books and got stuck into it. Now four hours later I have inspected each shelf, culled three boxes of books and taken them off the Library Thing inventory list.
Then I went outdoors and played with Ollie a bit as he was very good, only chewing a bit on the cardboard boxes I was putting the books into. One of main Op shops is now open and the tip shop opens next week so I will haul them down there so others can enjoy them.
I noticed I have a lot of books that are less than 150 – 200 pages. I thought if I read them first I could then let them go and therefore clear out even more. We’ll see.
I have been reading Unreliable Memories by Clive James. Richard at Cracked Spineless book shop in Hobart put me onto it. He told me when he read it he was in puddles on the floor, laughing and he couldn’t believe I hadn’t read it.
He’s right. Bits of it are very funny. I’ve not read Clive James and this memoir of his early child and teen years is very funny. He has a way of describing his relatives and school mates in a way we might like to do but don’t have the nerve to do so.
I have laughed out loud several times.
The other weird, er, interesting book I’m listening to for an hour each night once I’ve gone to bed is Pepys Diary. It’s 37 hours of his daily diary from 1660 to 1669 and is reputed to be one of the best documented publications of life during this time period. He stopped writing in 1669 as he had very bad eyes and writing in candlelight was not helping. He lived another 30 years.
I am not nor have I ever been a good sleeper. It takes a long while to fall asleep and I seldom sleep through the night without waking up a couple of times. I find listening to an hour of a book each night is very relaxing (if the book is properly chosen) and I often don’t get past 30 or 45 minutes with this one before drifting off to sleep. I am really enjoying the narrator. Michael Maloney’s voice and the structure of Pepys days. He almost finishes each daily entrance with the words, “went home, had supper and off to bed.” I also like the way he describes his “discourses” with people each day. “He and I had interesting discourse,” or “We discoursed this topic for some time”.
Well as I’m worn out a bit from moving and carrying many books around today I am going to sign off here and see how this new layout of Word Press works. Why do people always feel they have to change perfectly workable structures.
No, I haven’t been travelling but I have been playing with photos from past trips and as this site is supposed to include some travel I thought I would share some trip photography from eight years ago. Without a lot of explanation let your imagination roam.
Santiago, Chile with a short day trip to Valparaiso to see the home of the famous poet, Pablo Neruda.
A bit of street photography in Santiago, Chile, 2012.
I am happy to say my reading slump has disappeared and I am enjoying my books again. I’m glad it didn’t last too long. I got fed up with all the screens from social media, news, t.v. and Netflix. Quiet nights with books again and mornings with more books and blog posts are the go for now.
I just finished this wonderful travel story from Elspeth Beard from London. Elspeth was the first (known of) British woman to ride her motorbike around the world in 1982. It is a remarkable tale and here are the details.
Lone Rider: The First British Woman to Motorcycle Around the World by Elspeth Beard. Published by Michael O’Mara 2017. 320 pgs long.
In 1982 Elspeth had just finished studying Architecture in England and wanted to do the trip with her BMW motorbike she had dreamed of. Her parents who were quite upper class gave her no support and showed no interest in much of what she did, instead deciding she just wasn’t much of a conformist. Her mother was more concerned that the curtains in the living room were matching and her father was lovely but a bit distracted with other issues.
Because she was a young woman, none of the Bike magazines wanted to hear about it, not many wanted to sponsor or support her and as this trip had not been done by a female before most thought she was mad. But being such a strong, stubborn person off she went. (Thoughts went through my mind of how much support Ewan McGregor and Charley Borman had from BMW on their round the world trip much later)
She flew herself and her bike to New York and rode to Detroit where she stayed with an aunt for a short while. Then off to New Orleans and across the southern states to California.
From there she sent her bike to Sydney but then found out she could not get a working visa for herself. She tried several embassies in the U.S. with no luck. She wanted to spend time there and finish her architecture practicum for school at a Sydney firm while earning some money to finance her trip. She had a name of a well known architect there who could help her (she was assured).
Instead she decided to go to New Zealand where she met up with other relatives in Auckland. She knew her bike was on a ship to Sydney and she thought the embassy in New Zealand might be friendlier. As it turned out when she applied for her visa there, she dealt with a man who rode a Triumph motorbike and he loved the idea of the trip and stamped her passport with enthusiasm. Her boyfriend of the time met her in New Zealand and they toured the north and south islands before she went on to Sydney.
She did introduce herself to the architect she was referred to however he turned out to be a very nasty man and she didn’t last long but that’s another story. She did find a better practice in which to work. Once cashed up she covered Australia pretty well. Her descriptions of the flooded dirt tracks she encountered especially from Alice Springs to Adelaide were harrowing. Mud up to her knees and much help from the road train drivers saved her skin.
She then rode to Perth and then flew to Bali to catch up with her boyfriend, Mark again, while shipping her bike ahead to Singapore. The rest of the story is where it gets gritty.
Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and India had us holding our breath in many situations. Getting in and out of India was nightmarish with the bureaucracy and I wouldn’t have traded places with her at all. For example when she got to the Pakistani border she was told she had to go back to Delhi to get her paperwork stamp. Delhi is 500 kms away and off she went. Only to find it couldn’t be done and back to Pakistan border she went. Another form fell out of her passport by accident and the border guard at the Pakistani border thought that was the right form and let her in. Such luck she had.
Descriptions of the people, the locations and a couple of pretty hairy accidents not to mention the illnesses she contracted did make me think she was mad.
But survive she did, having met a Dutch motorbiker who she falls in love with and off they go to Pakistan and Iran and then Turkey. Both of them contracted Hepatitis, dealt with many men with rifles and lust and she still manages to get through it all while having lost kilos of weight and was yellow with Hepatitis.
There is a quite a bit of naval gazing about what to do about getting over Alex who dumped her before she left England. who had been the love of her life. Then lovely Mark who loves her dearly, but obsessively and is the one who catches up with her in New Zealand and Bali. She finally falls in love with him until she meets Richard. But once she gets back to London, three years later, she and Richard go by the wayside as he isn’t able to deal with everything that has happened. There is a lot more to do with him and Mark later in the book but that would be a spoiler.
She ends up marrying one of them, was it Mark? or Richard? but that is glossed over a bit as it is the journey that is important. She is only in her mid 20s when she does this trip and her travelling skills as well as her mechanical nous are quite extraordinary.
Once home again with her parents she just can’t believe they continue to show no interest in her trip and never really ask her much about it. She was travelling for three years and could find nobody who had an interest in it. So typical eh?
Well I really enjoyed her and her journey and I would love to have been there when she got home and heard about every detail.
I will never stop thinking about her and remembering and appreciating her bravery, perseverance and adventures.
Her writing is excellent and I could feel the bumps, the laughs, the smells, the sounds and the excruciating injuries of her accidents as well as enjoying the food and the culture of all of the countries she visited.
This was definitely the type of travel writing I crave. If I was only 50 years younger.
I am part of a Facebook sketch group and something has cropped up that I really love and wanted to share with you. I cannot draw a straight line with a ruler but I do admire people who do sketch out various things going on in their lives.
However what I came across a couple of days ago is something I could probably do. It’s Book Mapping. I have seen others who do this but these examples are just so much fun I thought I’d share. Julie Hawkins is the artist and reader and she has kindly given me permission to share her drawings here. So thank you Julie.
Do any of you do anything like this? If so I’d love to know. Are there any blogs or fb pages or Instagram pages that reflect this mapping of books? If so and you know of them, please share as I’d love to follow.
I’ll keep this post short and sweet for today. I hope you enjoyed these as much as I did. Ideas abound.
I have found two books I must say I am really enjoying. The first came recommended to me by English blogger Catherine of the Read-Warbler blog. After my last post she suggested a book she was enjoying entitled: Footnotes: Journey Round Britain in the Company of Great Writers by Peter Fiennes. Amazon describes it as:
“Peter Fiennes follows in the footsteps of twelve inspirational writers, bringing modern Britain into focus by peering through the lens of the past.
The journey starts in Dorset, shaped by the childhood visions of Enid Blyton, and ends with Charles Dickens on the train that took him to his final resting place in Westminster Abbey.
From the wilds of Skye and Snowdon, to a big night out in Birmingham with J. B. Priestley and Beryl Bainbridge, Footnotes is a series of evocative biographies, a lyrical foray into the past, and a quest to understand Britain through the books, journals and diaries of some of our greatest writers.
And as Fiennes travels the country, and roams across the centuries, he wonders:
‘Who are we? What do we want? They seemed like good questions to ask, in the company of some of our greatest writers, given these restless times.”
I downloaded it from Audible and have only listened to the first two chapters. The first is about the life Enid Blyton who I had no idea was such a difficult person with, what sounds like a lot of personal issues and the second is about the life of Wilkie Collins, author of the Moonstone and The Woman in White. The description of his life makes me want to read the Moonstone again and also the Woman in White which I have never read. I listen to 30 to 60 minutes at night before I fall asleep or as I lie down for a short rest in the afternoon. Peter Fiennes, the author, also narrates it and does a splendid job of it.
The other book in print I began last night is one I’m hearing quite a bit about. In this
book I am visiting a castle in Italy with four women who share the rent in the early 1900s. Some of you may have guessed by now. The Enchanted Aprilby Elizabeth von Arnim. I only began it this morning with my morning coffee and toast with Ollie (who I learned loves apple slices). I’m not far into it so will comment later.
The rest of the day will centre on taking our 15 year old Molly to the vet later for her monthly arthritis injection. I think running around the yard with Ollie has been good for keeping her young though observing the looks she gives him at times might disagree with this though. Molly is a terrier mixture of about 9 different breeds according to the DNA sample we sent in. She is a sturdy little dog that just doesn’t quit and is certainly in charge of this household. Ollie has a healthy respect for her having been shaken by her at least twice since he arrived in this household. Those boundaries were established early.
Mr. Penguin has gone to the grocery store and will be picking up some ingredients for a Moroccon chicken recipe I found online that looks pretty good and also quite easy. I will print it here in case you’re interested. I’m not a big cook anymore. I cooked the first 25 years of our marriage and Mr. Penguin has cooked for the past 25 years. Once we hit our 50 year mark I’m not sure how we will divide that up. During these days of isolation and watching the Great British Bakeoff show on reruns I feel a bit like getting into the kitchen at times.
Here is the recipe
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped (1/2 cup)
8 ounces baby carrots with tops, trimmed, or baby carrots, halved lengthwise if large
½ cup pitted dried plums (prunes)
1 14 ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth
8 bone-in chicken thighs, skinned
1 ¼ teaspoons curry powder (I brought back some spices from Morocco when I was there last year I will use)
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Step 1 In a 4- to 5-quart slow cooker combine onion and carrots. Add prunes and broth. Top with chicken. In a small bowl combine curry powder, salt, and cinnamon. Sprinkle over chicken.
Step 2 Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 8 to 10 hours or on high-heat setting for 4 to 5 hours. Remove chicken, fruit, and vegetables from cooker with a slotted spoon. Spoon some of the cooking juices on each serving. Makes 4 servings.
I’ll have to let you know if it is good or not or of any adjustments I make to it.
I’ve been in a bit of a reading and blogging slump and have finally thought it through enough to come out the other side. This blog was started in 2011 so it is almost 10 years old and I must say I am feeling quite stale with what I’ve been reading and writing. When I think back to the books I get the most excitement from and just really enjoy I always come back to travel writing. Travel writing isn’t written about that much. Most of the bloggers I follow read the Bookers, the Stellas, the Pulitzers, the popular books, current events, politics, global issues and authors from the first half of the 20th century. While I enjoy following these posts they are books I don’t always get too enthused about, except maybe authors of old. Modern authors, though on my radar, aren’t always authors I enjoy reading. I think too many of them try to be too clever, politically correct to the extreme , using gimmicks that try to outdo everyone else. (Okay, you don’t need to agree with me and I will still like you).
I like adventure. I like a good story. I’m too old for too much naval gazing and deep and meaningfuls. I feel too old to do much more about changing the world from outside of my own domain. I’m leaving it to the younger generation. I have spent years writing letters to politicians, working in unions over worker’s rights, volunteering for various causes. I am tired now. Being in my 70’s I want to back down and enjoy what is around me more.
My interests in life are friends, animals, nature, photography and travel. I enjoy a lot of books that surround these subjects. Having been socially isolated for several weeks now along with the rest of the world, these topics are continually rising to the surface.
I’m supposed to be in Sydney today. I should be spending a day with a fellow photographer friend talking about the performance I saw on Saturday night at the Opera House. That same friend and I had booked a trip to Italy, Slovenia and Croatia and should be leaving in a couple of weeks. Sadly all of that has gone by the wayside and I now spend time here housebreaking a Jack Russell puppy who thinks he knows everything and argues with me every chance he gets. (Lucky for him he is such a cutie)
It is odd how quickly things can change. On the other hand I have been enjoying the quietness of being at home all the time. It’s given me a chance to buckle down and sort through closets and bookshelves. I even did a cull of some books and moved them on.
I haven’t been reading much though I did start the book Bruny by Heather Rose that was
kindly sent to me by a friend in Queensland. I am enjoying it. It is political but I know who all the characters are as it takes place in Tasmania. The author isn’t at all careful about not revealing, shaming and almost naming the politicians this story seems based on.
But….. I keep going back to travel books in my heart. People walking, cycling, motorbiking to the corners of the earth. I love the people they meet, the experiences they have. The suspense of tricky situations that sometimes arise. I love road trips more than any other kind of travel, both real and virtual. I want to be with them on that bike, in that backpack so I am giving all the books I feel I “should” be reading the flick and focusing on travels. The Travellin’ Penguin didn’t get his name from reading best sellers.
I’m hoping the enthusiasm will come back to my moods when it comes to pages between covers. I am also listening to more podcasts about books and interviews with authors regularly so I am not going to be completely in the dark regarding modern times.
So, without further adieu the Penguin and I are going to get our virtual passports and spend time doing more out in the world. I’ve scattered some photos throughout of the places and people I plan on spending time with.
It’s time for a quick catch up. I abandoned the Alphabet book sharing from my shelves as I found I was having to spend too much time online either researching the authors or looking up photos of the books plus writing about the book. During lock down there are more phone conversations of people I usually catch up with, emails to friends and relatives overseas, book blogs to read, books to read. All in all I was just on screens too much and it was getting to me.
It felt too much like a job and that meant stress to get everything done regarding a simple blog. So I just packed it in.
One thing that has just started that I am enjoying is the Shakespeare Sonnets sharing from Tim, a Doctor of Philosophy and assistant manager at Fullers Book store. As the store is closed it isn’t possible to visit though you can pick up books at the front door if needed. Tim discusses one sonnet a day and it will take three months to get through the 120 he plans. The online group has the book Sonnets which is a Pelican Shakespeare edited by John Hollander. Each day we read our one page sonnet and then receive a discussion email from Tim. It has been fun and doesn’t require a lot of time.
In the meantime I continue to read blogs that are still very active and hope everyone is remaining in good health. Until next time….