Born in England in 1957 my 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. David passed away in 2015 and I'm here on my own now but I have Cindy the dog and Polly the cat to keep me company.
I currently co-write two Wordpress blogs 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.
Would I want to live forever and never age? No. I don’t believe I would. I have to admit that the never aging part sounds tempting. It’s no fun to find it uncomfortable to kneel, to put your back out cutting your toenails, and to feel generally more creaky and slow than you used to. However what would it be like to be the only one who didn’t age when everyone around me did? What would it be like to outlive everyone I’d ever known? No. I don’t think I would like that at all. I think that I would always feel like a fish out of water never quite fitting in with anyone. Perhaps I’d be afraid to become too close to anyone because they would get old and die while I stayed the same age.
Imagine if there were drugs that kept you alive forever. Only the rich and powerful would be able to afford them. Wars would be fought over them and society would be more divided than ever as the long-lived would organise things to suit themselves. Maybe it’s a sign of approaching age that I’m cynical about this. Instead of imagining a world where humane and enlightened leaders try to find ways to share their good fortune with everyone I worry about leaders who would want to stay in power and would not be concerned about the needs of those people who were not going to live as long. I don’t think I would want to live in such a world.
And what if we could all live forever? Well I can’t see that working either. Unless we stopped reproducing we’d overpopulate the planet and if we did stop having children we’d stagnate. On the whole I think one good lifetime is enough. Threescore years and ten plus a few more as a bonus ought to be enough time to do what you want to do and to see the changes each new generation brings.
I am not afraid to grow old but I do find as I get older that I’m thinking about things that I didn’t worry about before. I have always enjoyed reflecting on the past but I’ve also looked forward to the future. Now when I look back I sometimes feel a sense of loss, perhaps that comes with age, regretting the good thing that are gone. When I look forward, instead of thinking of things I hope to do, I sometimes find myself thinking about what might lie ahead for us both personally and for the world. Hubby and I have no children so a time will come when we will have to make arrangements for our future if we become unable to care for ourselves. I never used to worry about that before but now I do sometimes.
I’ve always thought that Australia of all places really was the lucky country and compared with many places it still is but I worry it might not be in the future, that there will be a bigger gap between rich and poor and that it will be harder and harder to achieve the things we’ve taken for granted, like owning a home and earning a wage you can live on. I worry that we are becoming more short-sighted, greedy, selfish and shallow and less compassionate towards others.
I am not usually pessimistic about the future but having passed the half way mark in my life, I’m fairly certain I won’t live to be more than 112, I do think more about it. There are still good times ahead I’m sure and good people but yes, maybe my golden years do have a little tarnish round the edges.
Traditions: we’ve all got ‘em. They might be family dinners on special occasions, or having a particular kind of cake on your birthday (Jeanne Cake, natch), or popcorn at the movies, or meeting your friend for a 5k run in the park, rain or shine, every Sunday morning. What are your favorite traditions, large and small? What is it about your traditions that keep them going strong for you?
I am a great one for traditions and rituals. I guess I like them because doing the same thing on a regular basis makes me feel secure. No matter what else is changing in the world or in our lives these small things help to make me feel that all is well. When I carry out a ritual I can recall the pleasant memories of all the times I did that same thing before.
I especially like Christmas traditions and although we now live a long way from family and don’t often see them at Christmas time I still like to put up the Christmas tree to make the house festive. I always like to do it the weekend before Christmas and of course it must always come down 12 days after Christmas. Even the things I put on the tree are part of the ritual, most are ornaments that we’ve had for many years, some inherited from older relatives who are no longer with us. The other Christmas rituals involve making Christmas Puddings, one for us and one for my sister and enough mince pies for all of us. The first time I made mince pies for our family was when I was in my mid teens, mum had shown me how to do it and I took over the task and have made them every Christmas since the early 1970s. It wouldn’t be Christmas without them.
Summer seems to be full of “must do” traditions. Watching the first day of the Boxing Day Test Match on television, going to Hobart to see all the Sydney Hobart race yachts when they arrive, going to cheer on the Hobart Hurricanes at Blundstone Arena with my friends Ally and Matt.
Another of my favourite traditions is one that I posted about recently. It is “The Scarecrow Run“. Every year as part of the Middleton Fair there is a Scarecrow competition. Hubby and I discovered it almost by accident on a drive and since then we’ve tried to go to see them every year. I started posting photos of my favourite scarecrows on my Flickr page and now, five years later I look back on all the photos from each year and I don’t want there to be a gap because I missed a year. I know it’s not really important but I like continuity.
When we both lived in South Australia my best friend and I with our respective husbands would always get together to see the latest “Star Trek” movie at the pictures. We live in different states now so that particular tradition has gone by the wayside but we both still go and see every new one that comes out and talking about Star Trek has been a thing for us since about 1969!
Hubby is not so ritualistic as I am but he does have one that he won’t miss. Every October he will spend a whole Sunday watching the Bathurst 1000 on television. He does watch other motorsports through the year but it doesn’t worry him to missthem. However, that day I know not to ask him to do anything or go anywhere and meals are served in front of the TV.
What keeps all these things going? I suppose that it is a little bit obsessive compulsive but I do like those familiar things and I don’t easily tire of things I enjoy. I still eagerly look forward to seeing what clever ideas people will have come up with for their scarecrows. I look forward to the spectacle of all the yachts being in the harbour and seeing familiar ones from previous races as well as new ones that take my interest. I look forward all year to eating those mince pies and Christmas pudding because I don’t allow myself to have them until Christmas even though I could make them any time.
If I was suddenly unable to do any of the things I’ve talked about any more it would sadden me very much but then I would still have my memories. Probably I would find some new traditions to take their place before long because that’s just how I am.
What are the earliest memories of the place you lived in as a child? Describe your house. What did it look like? How did it smell? What did it sound like? Was it quiet like a library, or full of the noise of life? Tell us all about it, in as much detail as you can recall.Photographers, artists, poets: show us HOME.
My first home was the council flat that my parents moved into around the time I was born. We lived there until I was seven years old so I remember some things about it quite well and others not at all. I’ll do my best to give my impressions of it.
Our flat was one of four in the building and we lived in one of the two upstairs flats. Our neighbours were the Mounts, the Cooks and the Fosters. The first thing that you would see after coming in the front door was the flight of stairs up to our flat. For most of the time we lived in that place there was a wooden gate at the top of the stairs to stop me and later my sister from tumbling down. When I was big enough I was allowed to go down them alone to get the milk from the front step or the letters which were delivered through a slot in the front door.
The bedrooms were at the front, I don’t remember much about my room, usually known as the box room. I did wonder why we had a room for boxes instead of a proper bedroom but it had a window so perhaps it was just mum’s name for it. I do remember that I had a bed with a wooden bed head which had a carved flower like design right in the middle. I suppose I didn’t spend a lot of time there except to sleep. My parents bedroom also overlooked the street. In this room I remember the bed which mum always made carefully, tucking in the sheets, cotton in summer, flannelette in winter, then the blankets and making the corners neat. Our blankets were either navy with a white stripe or a sort of beige and I seem to recall mum referring to the navy ones as army blankets. On top of the bed went the eiderdown, a bulky feather quilt which was made of some taffeta like material and was, I think, a sort of rose colour. It was a pretty cosy bed. In winter we warmed our beds with an electric bed warmer that my father bought. It was a big round flat one like a flying saucer but instead of filling it with hot water or coals you plugged it in. It did warm the bed nicely but it could burn you if you touched it so it was taken out of the bed when we got in. There was a wardrobe and a wooden dressing table where mum kept her dressing table set, hairbrush, mirror and clothes brush and some blue glass candlestick holders. The cot where my sister and I slept as babies was also in this room until my sister outgrew it. Her bed was in that room until we moved though. I haven’t mentioned the bathroom, it’s one of those rooms I don’t remember except that in winter sometimes the pipes froze and we had no water.
The living room was where we spent the most time and I remember a lot of the things we had in that room. The room itself had a floral print wallpaper of grey,white and red. I can remember it very well but can’t describe it. The curtains were mum’s favourite green, a dark green with a floral design I think. We had a settee and two armchairs which had broad wooden arms which were fun to “ride” on if you were pretending to be on a horse or a motor scooter like the ones we saw at the beginning of “Ready, Steady, Go” on television every Friday . Then there was the dining table where we ate, drew pictures or played with our Lego blocks. Usually it was covered with a wine coloured woven tablecloth and had a green glass fruit bowl on it. If we asked for something to eat between meals mum would usually offer us something from the fruit bowl “Apple, pear, banana?” The table was also the place we put our portable record player or reel to reel tape recorder if we were going to listen to music. A mirror hung over the fireplace and on the mantlepiece was a chiming clock, mum’s brass vases and some little boats made from shells that she had bought on holidays. Mum always bought things in pairs because she liked her ornaments to be “balanced”. There were also some figurines of african men and women with spears and baskets which I now know were in the Barsony style which was popular at the time. There was a wooden sideboard too, which held more ornaments. There was a large china elephant, two lion cubs and a tiger cub which we loved to hold and lots of china monkeys, mum’s favourite animal. The largest of the monkey collection was Mike, he was a carved wooden ape sitting on a rock. I don’t remember everything that was inside it but there would have been the mother of pearl handled cutlery that was given to mum and dad as a wedding present, the best china tea set and our records. On the walls we had the flying ducks of course and around the room were family photos.
The main thing I remember about our kitchen is the time that mum, my sister and I returned from holidays to find that dad had repainted the kitchen in a red and cream splatter sort of pattern. I liked it as it was colourful but mum said it looked like there had been a murder in there. At some stage we acquired a large wooden radiogram from somewhere and as there was no room anywhere else it had to go in the kitchen, or as mum called it, the scullery. It was fun to put records on the stacker and see them drop down onto the turntable. Mum and I liked listening to bagpipes, dad liked brass bands. Mum often used to sing when she was working around the house, “She’ll be Coming ‘Round the Mountain”, “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary” and “Pack Up Your Troubles In Your Old Kit Bag” were some I remember but she also liked cowboy songs with yodelling.
A steep brick and concrete staircase went from the kitchen door to the back garden. There was a bit of lawn where we played and our swing. There was a tool shed where the lawnmower was kept and a coal shed where we were not allowed to go. We had a rose bush and a flower bed where we had daffodils, crocus and other bulbs in spring and where mum grew a bit of mint for putting with the potatoes or the roast lamb on Sundays. Our downstairs neighbour, Mrs Mount, was a keen gardener and had lovely roses in her back garden. She used to put eggshells on them and when the rag and bone man came around with his horse and cart she would run outside with a spade to collect any droppings to use for manure.
It wasn’t a grand house and had we stayed there it would have become very crowded with two growing girls so about eight months before we left England we moved into a larger council house in another part of town. A lot of mum’s knick knacks and ornaments came to Australia with us and in fact some of them are still around today, the good china tea sets, the mother of pearl handled cutlery, most of the china monkeys live with me while Mike and the lion cubs live with my sister so we have carried a bit of home with us wherever we have gone.
This happens to me often. I hear a song and it takes me back to another time. Particularly with songs from the from when I was much younger. This song never fails to take me back to the late 70s. The cars, the people’s clothing and hairstyles remind me of when I was a teenager.
I was eighteen in 1975 when this song was released and Hubby and I had just met that year. Over the next couple of years we made a couple of visits to Melbourne where the video was made and Swanston Street looked just the way it does here. I think we have walked from one end of Swanston Street to the other so the route is very familiar to me. On our first couple of visits we stayed at a hotel called “The Victoria” which was on nearby Little Collins Street. We often used to go to a cafe there called the ” Chat and Chew” for breakfast or dinner. We liked it because the meals there were cheap and good and because they had juke box selectors on every table, something we hadn’t seen before. We put a lot of coins into those machines :).
I can still remember riding on the old trams, we’d catch a tram in Swanston Street to go to St Kilda. Trams still had conductors then, not ticket machines. We did a lot of riding around on trams and electric trains visiting places like Frankston, Brighton, St Kilda, there was a train service then and Belgrave to ride on “Puffing Billy” of course. We loved Flinders Street Station on the corner of Swanston and Flinders Streets and even spent some time exploring Princes Bridge Station which was just across the road on the opposite corner. I can’t remember if we visited Young and Jackson’s , the famous old pub opposite the station. We probably did but I remember it better from more recent visits.
Now of course Swanston Street is a very different place. The trams are still there but the cars are gone. The “Chat and Chew” is long gone, its owners probably retired or forced out by higher rents. The (to me) hideous Federation Square dominates the Flinders Street end of the road. But when I hear AC/DC I can forget that and I’m a young woman visiting Melbourne for the first time again. We both still love seeing the video on TV and will usually stop what we are doing to watch it if it comes on. I still think it’s a great song too and I love the bagpipes, bagpipes in a rock song, what a great idea!