Back With the Living

We returned from our month long Moscow to Prague trip last week. I have photos from Moscow, St Petersburg, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and the Czech Republic to sort through. As this blog has been dedicated to travel photography for the past month I thought it was time to get back to reading and books.

However I have grouped some photos together that I think readers of these posts might enjoy and will post them up in upcoming weeks for Travel Thursday. But first things first.

One the home front:

Getting used to the vet’s office.

Odie is doing well for the time being and was great while we were away. Our house sitter kept us posted. However this week he is quite under the weather and he will be spending time with the vet. We are keeping him pain free and as happy as we can.

On the photography front:


Our photo club has our big exhibition opening Thursday night, on 1 November and will run until 12 November. There will be more than 100 photographs on display, of all genres, at the Waterside Pavilion on the Hobart waterfront. I have four photos being exhibited. As it is my first exhibition I am looking forward to it. However I will be working quite a few two hour shifts so will be busy with it until it closes. Then hopefully things will go back to normal. I’ll let you know how it goes.

On the book front:


I have actually been reading and enjoying it. My airplane read was the newest Michael Connelly book (Bosch series), The Night Fire. It’s exactly as one expects from his books, a mystery to solve with an interesting detective who now has more freedom to bend the rules now he’s retired.


I am up to the last chapter of Emilie Pine’s Notes to Self which I have enjoyed very much. It is a retelling of many chapters of her life that she discusses with a great deal of honesty that doesn’t hold back any punches. She grew up in Ireland with her sister and mother with an alcoholic father lurking in the background (a tale we’ve all read before) that influences them greatly. The first chapter is about his ageing and illness in Greece, where he now lives, as they are called to attend his bedside in a very under-resourced hospital. How do you care for your father’s bodily functions when you barely have a relationship with him? He is a person who they both love and hate.  Growing up with alcoholic parents in my own family I could really relate to the emotions that surfaced. The next chapter is her quest to have her first child in her late thirties. To say more would spoil this story.

The third story explains the divorce laws in Northern Ireland (with the first divorce granted 17 January, 1997. Her parents split when the sisters were quite young but the laws of the country really reverberates throughout their life. Her father, of course plays a role in this story quite a bit and how the sisters dealt with their emotions related to him  throughout their early lives.

The book is well written and quite a quick read but it expresses some powerful emotions and I got taken right into their lives while reading it.

I listened to this on the long bus journeys between the countries we visited. 

The audio book I’m listening to is one I began at the start of our trip to Moscow. Thomas Keneally’s book Schlinder’s Ark. As we visited many places where Arthur Schindler lived and worked in Poland I thought it would be beneficial to finally address this book. We also visited the museum dedicated to his life in Krakow of which I will write about in a later post.  I am sure I’m the only person in the world to have not seen the film, Schindler’s List, but I have been waiting to read the book beforehand. Despite the horrific events within the story it is a story that all should be familiar with. We were immersed in so much history on this past tour between Stalin, Hitler and the events of Jewish cleansing it did become a bit much at times.  Stories of the impact of life under the Soviet Union in the Baltic countries also filled our heads. Our group visited Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps but as Mr. Penguin and I have gone through it previously we chose to not attend again.  It is certainly not a tourist attraction as much as a sobering memorial to the six million people who perished. Not only the Jewish population, but homosexuals, intellectuals, gypsies and the list goes on.

We only had 11 people in our group and it was good to have discussions with some of them as we toured the museums and we visited the atrocities in stories and photographs around us. There were a couple of days we did need to debrief.

My new coffee cup I bought in Prague.

Well I guess that catches everyone up for now. Today I am going to see Downton Abbey, the film, for the second time. I loved it so much, I cannot let it pass by without seeing it again on a very large commercial screen. My friend who is going with me hasn’t seen it yet so we should have a good time. Then off to my favourite spot in town, Fuller’s Book store for afternoon tea break. Until the next time.,,,, all the best.

Camera Penguin
So good to be home.

Arrived In St Petersburg

4:30 am start today. Train from Moscow to St Petersburg 7 am to 12 pm. Then a city bus tour then several hours at the Hermitage Museum with a million tourists. Then heavy traffic to hotel and finally a meal out. Very tired tonight so am sharing a few photos from museum.

From top to bottom:



*Can’t remember, just liked the horses

*Titled the Three Graces


*Canal outside

*View out the front through window

Sorry not more info but time to bed. Penguin is already asleep❤

The Journey Begins

We are currently in Dubai waiting for our flight to Moscow. One must go through a comprehensive visa application to get entry in Russia. The application is long and arduous especially if you have travelled a lot during the last 10 years. They want to know all the places you have been and what dates you arrived and then left. Then the application gets sent off with your passport. When approved you end up with a copy of your passport page, details and photos all added as another page in your passport. It is also in Russian. If you have any medication that is a controlled substance then that needs a letter from the doctor, the original prescription, the original packaging and the letter also needs to be translated into Russian. Mr Penguin is on pain medication for his osteo-arthritis so he had to acquire the forementioned information. We’ll see what happens when we go through entry to the country.

We are only visiting Moscow and then take a bullet train to St Petersburg.

On the flight to Dubai I had a man seated behind me who got up every five minutes to get something out of the overhead locker. My first annoying traveller. Melbourne to Dubai is a 14 hour flight and we were trying to rest. All I heard was, ‘Slam, slam, slam.’ He finally settled down.

When we stood to disembark the plane the same man had piles of brochures and paperwork all with Salvation Army letterheads everywhere. I heard him mention he was going to some conference or other. He also had an armful of religious material, also with Salvation Army material. I did wonder if he was with that organization why he was in Business Class. I do hope he was paying his own way. You hear about all the administrative costs so many international charities spend. Was this one of them? Who knows.

Well time to move soon, so stay tuned. Once I learn what can be photographed and what can’t in Moscow I’ll try and put up a picture or two.

Bookwise, I started an autobiogtraphy of Graham Greene, forget the name, that I am enjoying in an old vintage Penguin I had on my shelf. More on that later.

For those of you who follow Odie, he has settled in with the housesitter and is doing well for now. More later…

Simply Sunday



I have probably had the most chaotic time in the past six weeks I’ve had in a long time.  First things first.  We are heading overseas to Russia and the Baltic countries on Thursday.  I will be taking my laptop with me and although I do say I will try to put up blog posts I find the 20 persons tours we go on are exhausting.  However I will try a bit harder. The days we have dinners out at night give us less time for anything else. We are heading to Moscow and St Petersburg then onto Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and the Czech Republic. It is a 27 days tour.


Next up, is, our dog Odie had his second ultrasound scan and the tumours remain unchanged so he very happily remains with us. Our house sitter has been briefed and is an angel who cares for him in conjunction with our vet.  We expect he will be with us awhile longer. We really are overjoyed at that.


I just had a week in Sydney with two good friends. As it was booked months ago, the timing turned out to be difficult as so much going on but it was a good distraction and we had lots of fun. I spent three days of photography with one friend and then four days of theatre, shopping and a film. We saw The Real Thing by Tom Stoppard at the Sydney Opera House. It is a very wordy play and I thought a bit too long. But once we figured out the first act of a play within a play we soldiered on.  One night we went to the beautiful Capital Theatre and saw the musical Chicago. It is thoroughly entertaining with great music, dance, choreography and voices that brought the house down. Lots of fun. We had one very rainy day so ended up at Events Cinema on George street, a large, almost empty theatre to see Downton Abbey which we loved. I hope to see it a second time. It was so much fun.


We also loved visiting the independent Glee Books on Glebe Pt Rd and the second hand shop next door and the big Japanese book store in the Victoria Galleries, Kinokuniya.

I brought back two books, one from Glee Books and one from Kinokuniya.  I thought I would share them with you.

9781631495946Writing Across the Landscape 1960 to 2010 edited by Giada Diano and Matthew Gleeson. This is one of the stories of Lawrence Ferlinghetti, now 100 years old,  who has been many things: (from the blurb on the back) a poet, painter, pacifist, publisher, courageous defender of free speech and the co-founder of San Francisco’s legendary City Lights bookstore. (A store I absolutely adore.) This is a compilation of his travel journals spanning 60 years of various places around the world. It’s a chunkster so won’t be travelling with it but the bits I’ve dipped into are fascinating.



The book I purchased at Glee Books is called Thumbing It : A Hitchiker’s Ride to Wisdom by Barbara Noske. I have just begun it and not sure if I’ll travel with it as I only tend to take books I’m happy to leave behind and this is not one of them….yet.

Barbara Noske is mad about hitchhiking, especially in trucks, and has 40 years of it, in, among other places, Europe, Algeria, the Sahara, as well as the vast expanse of Canada and the Australian outback. She is a Dutch anthropologist and philosopher whose field is the relationship and the similarities between humans and animals. She lives in the Dutch countryside with a horse and a bike. She has no driver’s license and no smartphone. (Blurb on the backside)

She travelled during the days before the internet, google maps and smart phones. I really enjoy tales of travel from brave women in the past.

I finished Shaun Bythell’s book Confessions of a Bookseller, the sequel to his first bookseller’s tale, The Diary of a Bookseller,  in Wigtown, Scotland.  It is identical in structure to his first book  I know many people have read. If you really enjoyed the first book I would recommend this one. There are more characters introduced, just as quirky as those in the first book. I found it a delightful read, especially in relation to all of the things going on around here during the past month.

This is the invitation,  not my photo. 

Other good news is one of my photos made the finals in the Fremantle, Western Australia International Portrait Prize and will be on exhibition in October. I have been invited to attend but will be overseas so will not be able to.  I really am in shock that it has been recognised as a finalist.

I could go on for another couple of paragraphs of activity but feel this has been enough.  I wish everyone well and hope to be in touch again soon.

PS- I will remember to pack the Penguin and hopefully he will not end up in a Russian gulag or lost on a bus somewhere.Snip20190825_5

Wintry Wednesday

A photo of Mt. Wellington taken by an ABC photographer. 

Although Australians think spring arrived on the first of September, I prefer to wait for the equinox because it is quite wintry today. It’s blowing a cold gale and although the sun shone for much of the day Mt. Wellington is currently under a cover of cloud.

It’s been a hectic week, though I am getting through a couple of books slowly.  I am enjoying listening to the Golden Earrings by Belinda Alexandra but I am more excited about the read/listen book I downloaded this week by Shaun Bythell. Remember the Diary of a Bookseller that was so popular. Well now Confessions of a Bookseller has just been released in the same diary format.  It begins on 1 January, (though I don’t remember what year) and continues through December. I have a foggy mind this afternoon. It’s fairly recent though. He continues to keep track of the eccentric characters and wacky book business of the running of his shop. He has a great sense of humour and I love following him through his days.

Snip20190904_2Here is the snippet from Good Reads.

“Do you have a list of your books, or do I just have to stare at them?” Shaun Bythell is the owner of The Bookshop in Wigtown, Scotland. With more than a mile of shelving, real log fires in the shop and the sea lapping nearby, the shop should be an idyll for bookworms. Unfortunately, Shaun also has to contend with bizarre requests from people who don’t understand what a shop is, home invasions during the Wigtown Book Festival and Granny, his neurotic Italian assistant who likes digging for river mud to make poultices. The Diary of a Bookseller (soon to be a major TV series) introduced us to the joys and frustrations of life lived in books. Sardonic and sympathetic in equal measure, Confessions of a Bookseller will reunite readers with the characters they’ve come to know and love.”

I wonder how the TV series will be played out. Hopefully it won’t be too much of a good thing.

Odie spends time with Uncle Buck. Good friends.

Other news this week.   Odie is still with us.  The swelling in his leg went down and I took him out front to enjoy walking around on a sunny afternoon. A cockatoo landed on the fence. Odie has a rule that birds are allowed on the tree branches in the yard but had better not touch the fence.  Well this cockatoo ignored that rule and Odie took off after him running at full tilt before I could grab him. He skidded on wet grass and crashed into the fence. When he stood up his bad leg was at a 90 degree angle to his body and he couldn’t move. He has severe bruising and a sprain on his elbow of his left front leg. So he is being treated for that at the moment.  He is scheduled for an ultrasound of his tumours the week before we leave on our big trip the end of September. We’ll know if the tumours in his pancreas, spleen and liver are fast growing or have been there awhile and continue to grow slowly. If they are enlarged more than they were we may be saying goodbye.  But we are coping okay for the most part. We’ll just have to see how we go and as my mother always said, “Don’t borrow trouble.”  He is happy, alert and continues to eat a lot.

Our Hobart Photographic Society is planning our large photo exhibition for the beginning of November down on the waterfront of Hobart. There will be approximately 170 photographs on display.

I’ve not exhibited before as I’ve not had the confidence.




Yesterday I took four photos to the printer and they are being greatly enlarged and printed on a lovely rag paper and matted. I am putting four into the exhibit.  They are photos of wildlife I took in Namibia a couple of years ago and I think they are interesting. So many photos of African wildlife are of elephants, zebras, rhinos. So I decided to put a couple of photos in of animals many people don’t see photos of much. The caracal and the beautiful markings of the wild dogs.  I’ll share more on the exhibition later on once we begin.

Wild Dog
Wild Dog

I am heading to Sydney next Wednesday to spend three days with a photography friend and four days with my theatre/shopping/galleries friend. My photography friend will show me the places she goes to take her wonderful photos and we’ll talk cameras and settings no doubt for hours. We are like two peas in a pod when we get together. It’s quite funny.   Then my friend who used to live here but retired on the northern coast of New South Wales and I will be sharing a Tom Stoppard Play at the Opera house and also seeing the musical Chicago.  We’ll hit all of our favourite haunts no doubt including a couple of book stores.

Hopefully this is all sounding a bit more upbeat than my previous post as we continue to go through the ups and downs of life as everyone else in the world does.   I hope you enjoy the photos. Until next time…bluejumper

Simply Sunday

A Recap of the Past Week….

Odie enjoyed his swims at the dog beach. 

This has not been a good week. Not at all. No, It has been an awful week except for maybe one bright spot later on in the week, but that hardly seemed important.  Let me start.

On Monday we took our beautiful dog Odie to the vet for more tests to ascertain why his legs are swelling. Why is he in pain. Making a long story short…A full day at the vet’s, extensive blood work results and three hours of ultra sound tests on his shaved belly have revealed a 5 1/4 cm tumour in his pancreas. As well as another tumour on his spleen and his liver. Prognosis?  Weeks maybe? If the swelling doesn’t go down in his legs then probably he will be put to sleep pretty immediately.  The swelling has gone down a bit and medication is managing his pain.  So he continues to be cared for night and day by us. Now, a week later, we are getting our heads around it and are not a sobbing mess.

We have a month long trip coming up to the Eastern European countries the end of September. That is our dilemma. It’s booked and paid for and the Housesitter who Odie loves has come to visit him and talk with us. The vet doesn’t think we will still have him by the time we leave. But they don’t know if the tumours have been slow growing or came on quickly, all at once. Surgery is not an option as the pancreatic tumour is very inaccessible, a great deal of vascular things tied up with it and we won’t put him through even an exploratory.  Besides we all know pancreatic cancer doesn’t generally end well. So if he is still coping okay before we leave do we leave him for a month and hope nothing comes up with the Housesitter? Though the Housesitter and the vet will easily work together. Do we want to have him put to sleep when we aren’t here? Or do we have this happen before we go even though he may be okay while we are gone? The dilemma. I guess we will wait and see until closer to the date and see what the vet says. We trust her and she’s a good friend as well so we’ll see.

Snip20181121_17Now we are enjoying what time we have left and doing everything in our power to get back to normal and let Odie know that he’s okay. He is very happy and very comfortable. As soon as that changes, then he will gently be put to sleep. And please, I don’t want anyone talking about the ‘rainbow bridge’.  I really don’t like the way  many people look at death of a pet.  He’s had a caring, loving life and has never known pain, hunger or lack of shelter. When it is time for him to go he will go with as much love as he had when he lived. That’s all any of us can ask for.


Snip20190819_3I have started the book I talked about last week. These Dividing Walls by Fran Cooper.  I’ve not read a lot as it’s often hard to temporarily concentrate enough this week but the writing is exquisite and I am really enjoying it. The Paris apartment block where this story takes place has interesting characters and wonderful descriptions.  I will read it slowly so my slow mind can enjoy all I find it to be offering.

On the Audible scene I am listening to The Golden Earrings by Belinda Alexandra. It’s historical fiction based on real events in Spain. I haven’t read historical fiction since I was in the my 20s and 30s.  But when travelling in Spain we saw a performance of Flamenco dancers that was stunning. I enjoy the music and dance of Flamenco so much. One of the people who travelled with us told me how much she enjoyed this book. It focuses on the time when women were first allowed to dance Flamenco as it was a man’s domain for a long time. The protagonist evidently decides that she is going to change this and the novel is based on the woman in life who made this happen.  We’ll see how it goes. Since had it for one of my credits I decided to see if the story is good or not.  I’ll let you know.Snip20190825_1

The bit of good news I had is about my photography. Months ago I saw a competition in Australian Photography magazine calling for people photos taken in Black and White.  I took a photo of a hotel porter walking in the rain, taking our bags to our room in Sri Lanka. We walked behind him and the photo in my mind called me to pick up the camera that was around my neck and snap his photo. I loved the result and thought why not send it in.  Then I completely forgot about it.

Thursday night I received an email from Australian Photography magazine that it had received a Commendation congratulating me on the photo.  It didn’t make it through the second shortlist but did make the first shortlist.  Considering thousands of people enter these competitions I was really happy it got as far as it did.  It won’t go any further now but I do have the commendation certificate on the wall.  I needed a bit of good news this week and that could not have been better. Especially as the more conservative landscape photographers in our Photo Club never seem to like my photos of people.  They never do well in the local challenges. However a love of photography and all art for that matter is subjective and I never let others put me off something if I like it. That’s all that matters. Photographers in Tasmania take lots of photos of wilderness areas.  Lots of lone trees on sun bleached landscapes. I call it Trees and Moss photography and waterfalls thatSnip20190825_2 looked like combed ice.  It is beautiful photography, no question about it, but I prefer to document life as I see it and Street Photography is my favourite form of photography so I continue to do it. Many in our club believe it exploits people or the photos should not be allowed without permission. I would never focus on someone I thought I was exploiting, ie (homeless people or disabled people). I generally get permission when getting frontal views and never share photos or take photos of children without parent’s permission and telling them why I’m doing it although Australian law states one can take as many photos as one wants if in a public arena.  There are ethics around street photography and I tend to adhere to them.

Well we will see what this next week brings because for now everything really is One Day At A Time.Snip20190825_5

Beginning of an unknown week.



I began the Travellin’ Penguin blog back in 2011 for two reasons.  I was recently retired, did not have enough to do and dealing with a good bout of chronic depression. Having the belief when things hit one, one must deal with them head on, I got help from a wonderful GP and a great psychologist.  Having worked for 40 years, not having much family around me I was at loose ends. I also had a couple of thousand vintage Penguin books I wanted to do something with. Having no children or grandchildren to focus on as many do in retirement, my psychologist said I needed a job. I had always worked and I needed to continue to work in some way and there began the list of things I was interested in.  Books, animals, motorbike riding, volunteering for wildlife rescue, doing something worthwhile, of use to others.  In this post I will only deal with the books and the animals, or I should say ‘animal’.

I started writing about my Penguin book collection. I catalogued them all on Library Thing (no isbn codes to scan in with vintage Penguins) and that probably took a year or more.  I started studying the history of the books and speaking to groups about that history in the community.

Before I knew it I was happily busy again and willing to participate in more activities.

Our beloved Odie-Dodie

Today our wonderful dog Odie is in the vet’s office.  He has had some very unusual symptoms and to make a long story short, the vets are conferring with the specialists at Sydney University to get yet more information to the vast information in their heads. We have wonderful vets. There is a strong possibility Odie has leukaemia or some form of blood cancer.  We won’t know more until all the tests are done.  (By the way we are finding pet insurance very useful now).  So much has been ruled out about what he doesn’t have, we are waiting to see what he does have.

Mr. Penguin is dealing with his worry by cleaning the entire house. I slept for quite awhile having been up with him quite a bit during the night dealing with his restlessness and pain. (He is unable to walk right now due to massive swelling in his leg.)

I am pulling books off the shelf.  When feeling worried, or sad or just wanting to be alone, books are always such a comfort.  I have had the book These Dividing Walls by Fran Cooper on my shelf for awhile. I don’t remember if it was a blogger’s recommendation or if the blurb on the back cover drew me in. Good Reads describes it as: “Within its walls, people talk and kiss, laugh and cry; some are glad to sit alone, while others wish they did not. A woman with silver-blonde hair opens her bookshop downstairs, an old man feeds the sparrows on his windowsill, and a young mother wills the morning to hold itself at bay. Though each of their walls touches someone else’s, the neighbours they pass in the courtyard remain strangers.

Into this courtyard arrives Edward. Still bearing the sweat of a channel crossing, he takes his place in an attic room to wait out his grief.

But in distant corners of the city, as Paris is pulled taut with summer heat, there are those who meet with a darker purpose. As the feverish metropolis is brought to boiling point, secrets will rise and walls will crumble both within and without Number 37.”

Snip20190819_3I am starting it today and hope it turns out to be good. The synopsis of it intrigues me. I looked up Fran Cooper and it looks as though she is quite young and has another book out as well. Evidently this book won some kind of travel writing award.  I’ll look into it more when I have the time.

Yesterday Mr Penguin and I took it in turns to be with Odie to care for him.  As Odie slept most of the day on the bed I fooled around with some photos from past trips.  I then saw an advertisement for a ‘Pop up Weekend Photo challenge.’ By then it was about 1:00 pm Sunday afternoon and this challenge was to end at midnight last night. I read it, sat back and thought about it and then laughed! I was going to do it!  Besides the winner receives a new Sony mirrorless canon and lens to the value of $5000. The rules: Photographers could submit up to three photos of anything they liked…… long as there was a pineapple in it!  I jumped in the car, drove to the local shop just down the road and purchased a very nice looking pineapple.

I brought it home, grabbed my camera in one hand and put the pineapple in the other and began walking through the neighbourhood for inspiration.

I got my mind out of myself and started focusing  (bad pun) on where could I photograph a pineapple.  As I headed down the driveway our neighbour chatted to me and walked away smiling.  I know, it is funny and we all need humour when dealing with adversity. Below are the photos I submitted to the challenge.

As I am still waiting for the vet to ring me later this afternoon, once again this blog has dragged me out of the depths of woe and given me something to smile about.  I’ll stick my nose in the book I pulled off my shelf and see if that also takes me to another place temporarily as the photo challenge did. And wait to hear if the Pineapple Photos win anything.

Pineapple 2
To find the Secret Garden you must first get by the Pineapple


Pineapple 4
This pineapple is as idle as the phone box of which it resides.
Pineapple 3
Even a pineapple enjoys a bit of nature.

I’ll let you know how Odie goes.

Camera Penguin