Daily Prompt: Toy Story

image model railway
I loved model trains

What was your favorite plaything as a child? Do you see any connection between your life now, and your favorite childhood toy?

How could I resist writing about toys? It’s hard for me to pick just one favourite plaything but two things stand out. Train sets and dolls.

I can’t say for sure whether I was given a train set because I liked trains or I liked trains because I had a train set. I think it may be the former because  I have liked  trains for as long as I can remember. It was a little unusual for girls to play with trains in the early 1960s I think but my sister and I were lucky that our parents encouraged it.  My Triang Hornby train set was a favourite plaything from the time I was given it until we left England. I didn’t play with it so much after that but mainly that was because of lack of a place to set it up permanently. I have posted on this blog about model trains recently and my love of railways large and small endures to this day.

As children we played with our dolls a lot too and we had plenty of them, big dolls, small dolls, dollshouse dolls, paper dolls.  I loved all my dolls but my favourites were probably the teenaged fashion dolls  like Sindy. We played with those dolls long past the age that girls these days seem to. When I was in my teens I gave many of them away but my interest in them didn’t die. Today I have a doll collection and a doll blog so dolls are still a big part of my life.

image Sindy and Paul
Sindy and Paul

Is there a connection between these childhood favourites and my life now? Very much so. A lot of the dolls I collect are from that era of the early 1960s when I was a little girl. I like them best because they remind me of my childhood.  When I watched James May’s Toy Stories I understood exactly how he felt about his little Hornby train. My sister has started a collection of toys and we both get a great deal of pleasure from her finds, especially when she finds some old childhood favourite. Nostalgia, certainly but I think we all enjoy being kids again even if only for a short time.

There used to be a big toy fair held in Adelaide every year and we would always go to look for items for our collections. There were families there with children but I think the vast majority were people in their middle years excitedly pointing and saying. “I used to have one of those.”

Here are some dolls and toys that I like. The dolls are mine, the model trains were photographed at the Hobart Model Railway Show and the toys are from my sister’s collection.

Daily Prompt: Thank You

The internet is full of rants. Help tip the balance: today, simply be thankful for something (or someone).

This Daily Prompt post struck a chord with me because since I started “My Other Blog” I have used it quite often to rant about things that annoy me. I am not really a cranky person but I do enjoy the opportunity to publicly vent.

I’m thankful for many things though. I’m thankful that I live in Australia. For all the things that we complain about we are far luckier than people in many other countries. We have the right to vote for the government of our choice and nobody will try to kill us for it. Our cities, while they have their poor districts, are not deserted wastelands or riddled with gun toting gangs. If we can’t find work we get some support from the government to help us.

For myself I’m grateful that we own a home of our own and have no mortgage and that we have enough money to eat, pay bills and still enjoy some of life’s little pleasures.

I’m thankful that I live in a state with beautiful scenery, a wonderful climate and friendly people.

I’m thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to travel and see some of the places that I always wanted to see.

In fact I feel like I have had a pretty good life, some sadness and hard times of course, we all have that but I’ve not experienced the tragedies that some people do and for that I’m the most thankful of all.

image rowboat
Rowing boat, Franklin, Tasmania

Daily Prompt: There’s No Place Like Home

There’s No Place Like Home

I think that I would like to live a semi nomadic life travelling often but always returning to home base. I do often daydream about travelling to places near and far. I love planning trips both real and imaginary and I love the anticpation of setting off on a journey. There are still many places I’d love to see.

Checking the Route
Checking the Route
On The Road
On The Road

I often see “Grey Nomads” camped in a park near where I live and I think that would be a great way to travel spending as much or as little time in a place as you wish and carrying a little bit of home with you wherever you go.

However I could never be a total nomad because I would miss my stuff. I’d miss having enough space to work on scrapbooking projects. I’d miss my doll collection and I’d be bound to suddenly think of some book sitting on the bookshelf at home that I wanted to read again. I’d miss curling up in a familiar armchair in a familiar room and feeling relaxed and contented. Seeing new places and revisiting old ones is wonderful but I think your mind can only take in so many new sights at a time and then you can’t absorb any more till you have digested all you have seen. Going home is a chance to reflect and recharge before setting off again.

Spirit of Tasmania ferry
Spirit of Tasmania ferry

Daily Prompt: Singing In The Rain

When I think of these words I immediately think of the famous scene in the movie of the same name where Gene Kelly dances in pouring rain. It’s a catchy song but I have to say that on the few occasions I’ve been caught in a rainstorm and soaked to the skin I did not feel in the least like singing and dancing. Squelching along with sodden shoes and wet clothes sticking to you is no fun, especially if you know you have an hour long bus ride home to endure before you can get out of them.I can remember two or three occasions when it has happened to me and most of them seem to involve rained out sporting events.

However, I do enjoy listening to the rain when I’m snug and cosy at home.  It feels good to be in a warm room listening to the rain thundering on the galvanised iron roof . “It’s really coming down out there.” my husband and I say to each other. “I’m glad we’re not out in it.” Of course there is more than just being grateful for our good fortune in having a roof over our heads.  After a hot dry summer it is wonderful to see how everything turns green again after a good rain.

Many people think that it rains all the time in Tasmania and parts of it are quite wet at times, but Hobart itself is the second driest capital city in Australia. Adelaide, where we used to live,  is the driest.

image topiary group by dry lake.
Lakeside Topiary group, July 2008

There were drought conditions here for some years in the mid 2000’s and the midlands and east coast of Tasmania really suffered. Farmers had to put stock down because there was no feed. Lake Dulverton at Oatlands dried up completely. I was told that years ago they used to have sailing and even speed boat racing on Lake Dulverton, I walked around the lake and saw the remains of moorings and there was the sailing club but the lake itself reminded me of the cover of the Midnight Oil album “Red Sails In The Sunset” which showed Sydney Harbour with no water.

It would have made a great dirt bike track at that time.

image dry lake & sign
What Water?

Finally, there came a wet winter, it rained and rained. Gradually the lake filled and finally in spring of 2009 it was full for the first time in many years. I remember visiting the lake around this time and seeing people rowing and fishing on the lake. That did make me feel like singing.

So even though I curse it when I get caught in it or when my husband spatters the washing with mud with his car  I really do love the rain because it brings new life.

image topiary group by lake.
Topiary Group December 2009
image fisherman
Fisherman December 2009

Daily Prompt: Say Your Name

People often comment on my first name, Vanda, because it is not a common name. Europeans I’ve met tell me that it is a variant of Wanda. I’ve been told it is a Polish name. However when I googled it just now to see if I could find out a bit more another website (http://www.ourbabynamer.com/meaning-of-Vanda.html) says it is of Italian origin. That is a new one on me! Funnily enough as  a child I was sometimes taken for Italian because of my dark hair and eyes.  What both versions seem to agree on is that it means “Wanderer” and originally referred to Slavic migrants.

I am sure my mother knew little of this when she chose it although it was from her that I first learned it was a Polish name. We have no Polish blood that I’m aware of. Both my parents were born in England and so were my grandparents except for my paternal grandmother who was born in Canada.

My mother had a particular reason for calling me Vanda though. On her mother’s side of the family girls names were often passed down through the generations there were several Annie’s, May’s, Rosemary’s etc. Mum didn’t want to do that. She didn’t want me to have one of the girls names that were popular at the time either so names such as Susan, Mary and Debbie were ruled out. Finally she wanted a name that could not be shortened.

She decided to look to fiction for a name as she was fond of reading. Her first choice for a daughter’s name was Bramble. She chose this before she was married but thankfully for me she married a man whose surname started with a “B” so she decided that it would sound odd and the child would be teased. When she was pregnant with me she read a novel in which one of the characters was called Vanda. She liked that so that was the name I was given.

Mum’s first objective worked out. I have never personally met another Vanda which meant that I have spent most of my life explaining how to spell it and where it came from. Her second one was not so easy, especially after we moved to Australia where all names are shortened, or if they are already short, lengthened, as a matter of course. My school years were spent saying “No, I would rather you did not call me Van or Vandy.” I was sometimes called “Verandah” which was considered very amusing even though most kids couldn’t spell that either.

I like my name though. I like being a bit different and I have the spelling routine down to a fine art now. “Think of panda but with a “V”. Did I mention that “Vanda the Panda” was another school nickname?

One day perhaps I’ll meet another Vanda.bear_panda_head