The Sunshine Blogger Award: Via Marilyn & Martha

This morning as I caught up with blog posts I read Marilyn’s post in answer to Martha’s Sunshine Blogger Award Post. After reading both posts I decided that I would participate too. I’ve been struggling a bit to write anything this week and while I have got a bit tired of Q&A posts recently I decided that I liked these questions and would enjoy answering them.

I decided that I would follow Marilyn’s suggestion to go back and answer the questions from Martha’s original post. I’m not going to nominate anyone else to join in but please feel free to if you would like.

Here are my answers

1. What made you decide to write a blog on WordPress?

I was doing some volunteer work at a local church and one of my tasks was to update the church blog which was on I was shown what to do but I wanted to understand a bit more about it and I didn’t want to risk messing up the church blog so I thought that starting one of my own would be a good way to experiment. At around the same time, my sister in law commented on one of my Facebook posts that I ought to do a blog. So I thought “Why not?”

One piece of advice I took notice of was to write about something I knew so I decided to write about dolls. Soon after that, I realised that I wanted to write off topic so I started a second one, both are still going nearly six years later.

2. You’re writing a blog post and you find it taking on a direction of its own. Do you assume control or do you follow it?

From time to time, particularly with writing prompts, I’ve sat down with an idea in mind but found that the post is going another way. More often than not I follow it if I find it is going somewhere other than where I intended. Sometimes if writing is hard going I think it is better to just keep writing and then go back and take out all the parts that don’t fit or move them around as I did in this answer after rereading it.

3. What are your goals as the writer of a blog? What do you hope for?

My first goal is to keep blogging for as long as it is fun; and secondly, to get better at it. I admit that I like seeing the number of views and the number of followers growing but it’s not just about that. The important thing with the doll blog is that I may help to preserve knowledge by having a place people can share information and that maybe reading it will encourage others to become collectors themselves. Mostly I hope that I am not boring.

4. Describe the best day you’ve had in the past twelve months. 

This type of question is always hard for me to answer, partly because it’s hard to choose just one thing and partly because I have a memory like a goldfish these days.

My birthday last year when we cruised on the Huon River and had lunch at the local hotel was a good day.

My birthday treat for 2018, a trip on the Huon onboard Yukon.

Christmas Day, that’s always a good day. Another good day was the day that Naomi brought the Triang 61 dolls house down for me to see because this was a childhood toy that we had hoped to replace one day.

Triang Model 61 on the left and CEX on the right.

The day I was able to go home after the bushfire scare was another. I was so happy to be back in my own house again.

  1. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? Why? What experiences would you hope for?

There are still places I’d like to see although sometimes I think that I would need a time machine to experience them the way I’d like to. I’d like to see London again although I know it won’t be the same as the last time I saw it. I’d like to go back to see more of Scotland and Wales and Ireland which I missed entirely. There are a lot of rail trips I’d like to experience, the Glacier Express in Switzerland, the Rocky Mountaineer in Canada, the Blue Train in South Africa, the California Zephyr or the Indian Pacific to mention a few. I’d like to spend time in New Zealand exploring it by road and rail. I’d still like to see the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and Scandinavia. Why? These are all places I’ve dreamed of seeing, even if the reality doesn’t match the pictures in my head. There are places in Scotland, Wales and England that were special for me and I’d like to see them again one more time. I’d like to have a chance to meet some of my blogging friends and see their home towns with them.

On the slopes of Ben Nevis pretending to be a mountain climber.
  1. What was the worst road trip of your life? What happened?

I can’t recall having a really bad road trip as an adult but some childhood trips with the family to the beach or a national park were horrible. Imagine a hot day, a car with no air-conditioning and three adults, four kids and a baby packed inside. Two of the adults smoke, two of the kids won’t stop fighting; everyone wants to sit next to the window. I actually needed to sit there because the combined smell of petrol and cigarette smoke and the motion often made me feel sick but mum usually wanted the windows closed while my aunt and uncle, the smokers, wanted them open. We were usually late getting away from home and when we arrived at our destination we’d only have a short time there before we’d be told it was time to go home because the baby had to be fed or one of the adults was tired or there was school in the morning. In the end, Naomi and I would often just say no thank you when invited on these outings.

7. How much time do you put into your blog? Do you write every day?

I don’t post every day. Some weeks I’m good and manage one or more posts a day but at other times like the past week or so I haven’t felt as motivated. I do comment and reply to reader’s comments every day though even if I have no inspiration to write.

8. Do you write to a daily prompt? Why or why not?

It depends. I guess I write to them if they fit in with the type of things that I like to write about. I do if the subject interests me but if it is an obscure word or a subject I have nothing to say on I don’t. I do enjoy photo prompts though and do quite a few of those as sharing photos is one of my favourite things about blogging.

9. What’s your favourite post? Why? Please share. 

I can’t really pick just one but I always enjoy reminiscing about the past, writing about childhood, my love of railways, or places I’ve visited. A lot of these have been for the Times Past monthly challenge run by Irene Waters, but some have just popped out of nowhere, like “The Best Times of Our Lives” about our early days as railfans. I also like writing about my favourite places in Tasmania. I love my adopted home state and want everyone to know how beautiful it is. The all-time favourite post for readers is “Superstition: Unlucky Plants” which still gets views. I rerun it every year or so. I don’t know what it is about that particular piece. It must have some keywords that search engines like.

  1. Is there a book, film or person (or animal) that inspired you and changed your life? What or who was it? How did it have such a profound effect on you?

Naomi and I often talk about the way that our mother took the time to teach us to play with our dolls creatively. I think that it helped us to develop our imaginations and our attention spans. We would happily play with the same toys or dolls all day so we were bored a lot less often than

Mum in the 1980s

children who always needed something new to do. She was also a great storyteller and letter writer and very good at drawing. I think she passed some of those skills on to us. I enjoyed writing to pen pals when I was younger and Naomi inherited mum’s knack for art. I took up photography partly because I can’t draw. Perhaps mum indirectly turned us into bloggers.


11. What advice do you have for someone who has just started writing a blog? What rewards has it given you that might inspire someone else?

The same advice I read when I started. Write about something you know and care about. Post regularly and don’t get hung up on the statistics. Proofread your work, if it’s worth doing it’s worth doing properly, that’s mum talking again.

I’d also add to make it your own work. Everyone has something interesting to say. Be yourself.

I have found blogging very rewarding for a number of reasons. I’ve come to know other bloggers through their writing and I think of them as friends now.

I think it has improved my photography. I see photographic subjects that I would never have thought of before doing photo challenges and I think I’ve become more creative in photo editing. I was never really interested in black and white photography before I became a blogger.

spider web

As a doll collector, I’ve learned about different dolls and found that there are other collectors who enjoy doll photography and do wonderful creative things restoring vintage dolls houses, customising dolls, creating dioramas and writing stories.

Since Naomi joined me in writing the two blogs it’s also become something we can do together even though we are not able to meet up very often as we live quite far from each other. It can be very rewarding to share a hobby with a friend or family member.


I was born in England in 1957 and lived there until our family came to Australia in 1966. I grew up in Adelaide, South Australia, where I met and married my husband, David. We came together over a mutual love of trains. Both of us worked for the railways for many years, his job was with Australian National Railways, while I spent 12 years working for the STA, later TransAdelaide the Adelaide city transit system. After leaving that job I worked in hospitality until 2008. We moved to Tasmania in 2002 to live in the beautiful Huon Valley. In 2015 David became ill and passed away in October of that year. I currently co-write two blogs on with my sister Naomi. Our doll blog "Dolls, Dolls, Dolls", and "Our Other Blog" which is about everything else but with a focus on photographs and places in Tasmania. In November 2019 I began a new life in the house that Naomi and I intend to make our retirement home at Sisters Beach in Tasmania's northwest. Currently we have five pets between us. Naomi's two dogs Toby and Teddy and cats, Tigerwoods and Panther and my cat Polly. My dog Cindy passed away aged 16 in April 2022.


  1. I enjoyed reading your answers, Vanda, and I enjoy your photos too. They always give me a sense of peace. Also, I think I might like to move to Geeveston. 🙂

    I’ve unsubscribed to your doll blog, as I think it is more for hobbyists. However, I have loved some of your retro dolls. Very funky.

    Cheers. Tracy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Those family trips were really awful. When I grew up and had a child, I worked really hard at NOT making family vacations into a nightmare for the kids.

      You’ve come a very long way as a blogger, not just because you take better pictures and write better, but because you’ve made your blog a beautiful place to visit. It’s clean, easy to read, with plenty of white space.

      I also think — maybe I’m crazy — but I think blogging helps keep us sane, keeps us from getting “mentally old,” and keeps us full of new ideas.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thank you Marylin. Yes blogging helps us in many ways. I am coming into contact with people from different parts of the world. I have also learnt to write Haikus and I enjoy writing photo fiction. They keep me mentally active. Regards


      • Thank you Marilyn that means a lot coming from you as you are one of the bloggers I feel I’ve learned from. I think you are right about the keeping sane part too.


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