Daily Prompt: Why Can’t We Be Friends?

Do you find it easy to make new friends? Tell us how you’ve mastered the art of befriending a new person.

I find it very hard to make new friends. As a young person I was always acutely uncomfortable in social situations and found it very hard to talk to strangers let alone befriend them. Even today I don’t really feel comfortable at parties and prefer to get together with a small group of friends rather than attend large social gatherings. The few friends I made growing up were mostly through mutual interests and as I grew older I discovered that finding some common ground was the best way to break the ice with a new acquaintance.

The first time that I remember consciously putting this into practice was when I started working for the state rail authority and was getting to know the people I worked with. I usually tend to be very quiet when I meet a new group of people, listen a lot and speak when I feel ready to. My new co-workers were a friendly group, my sister was working at the same place and some of the older workers knew Hubby who also worked for the railways so it didn’t feel that strange to me. However there was one man, a team leader, who I never felt quite comfortable with. I felt nervous whenever he was around. Mostly I was worried that he might not like my work; the other team leaders didn’t have the same air of authority about them. I didn’t want to spend all my working hours being nervous so I decided one lunch time that I would start a conversation with this man about something that I knew we were both interested in which was motor racing. At that time we had a Formula 1 race in Adelaide and I was a big fan of the sport. I had heard my co-worker talking about the sport and knew that he was a fan of the Ferrari team. I can’t remember now how I got the conversation started (give me a break this was in 1987) but anyway we talked for almost the entire lunch break. After that everything was fine and over the next few years until he retired I enjoyed many conversations with Mario about motor racing, and many other subjects and we came to be quite good friends at work.

I won’t say that I’ve mastered the art of friendship.  I probably like being on my own a bit too much to ever have lots of friends but I have learned that taking an interest in people and finding out what they  like to talk about is a good way to begin a friendship.



Daily Prompt: Make Me Smile

If you’re feeling blah, what is the one thing you do that you can count on to put a smile on your face?

It's always fun to watch pets playing.
It’s always fun to watch pets playing.

When I’m feeling blah there is one thing that can always make me smile and that is the antics of our pets. No matter how many times I’ve seen it before their funny little habits will bring a smile to my face. I know I’m not alone in that judging by all the funny pet photos and videos you see on social media.

When our cat Polly was a kitten she played with this toy all the time but I never got tired of watching her. She also likes to try to catch the pendulum on our mantel clock. It’s naughty of her but I can’t help finding it funny. Of course very young animals are especially amusing to watch because everything is new to them. I love watching Polly playing with Cindy our dog too. Cindy is much bigger and stronger but Polly will spring at her and play bite her on the leg or the side of her face while Cindy tries to knock her off-balance with her paw. They often play this game and I nearly always stop what I’m doing to watch them.

Cindy relaxing with Polly sleeping in what was her favourite spot as a tiny kitten.
Cindy relaxing with Polly sleeping in what was her favourite spot as a tiny kitten.

I think that it is one of the reasons that pets are used so often as therapy for people who are lonely or depressed. They amuse us, they make us feel less stressed and with dogs in particular their enthusiasm for life is infectious.

Hubby takes Cindy down to a local park where there is an off leash area and every time she whimpers with excitement as they approach the park.  When she jumps out of the car she is so excited that she just has to run about for a few minutes before coming back to ask for a game of ball. She loves to chase balls but sometimes Hubby only pretends to throw one and she runs about searching and wagging her tail like mad until she cottons on to what he’s up to and comes back. Hubby always has a supply of cheap tennis balls in the car because Cindy either loses them or breaks them. When she has had enough of the game she runs down to the river’s edge and plunges in to cool off, quite often taking the ball with her then she comes running back and jumps into the back of the station wagon as if to say “Let’s go home now”. We never taught her to do it, she just does.

image dog in car
Cindy loves going to the dog park
image sleeping cat
“To sleep perchance to dream”

Even watching animals sleeping is funny sometimes. You see their legs twitch and sometimes they make sounds. What are they dreaming about? Wouldn’t you love to know?  Watching our  pets always takes my mind of my troubles.


Daily Prompt:In The Summertime

Summer Days and A Little Rain

image Elizabeth St Mall, Hobart
Elizabeth Street Mall in Christmas dress

Here in Tasmania we’ve just ended Daylight Saving and in spite of some warm autumn days it won’t be long before summer is just a memory.

I’m not a really big fan of hot weather. In fact it was the hot Adelaide summers that were a major factor in Hubby and I deciding to leave. In recent years there have been more heatwaves where the temperature has been over 40 degrees Celsius for days on end. I am sure that we didn’t have those when I was a child which is why I believe climate change is real, unlike our Prime Minister. However this post is not meant to be a rant about our political leaders.

Summer in Tasmania, while it has hot days, is much pleasanter as it is rarely so hot that you can’t sleep at night and there are outdoor events to be enjoyed.

It is certainly more enjoyable to watch the Hobart Christmas Parade in early December under sunny skies than freezing wind and rain although we sometimes get that too.

image Santa on float
At the Hobart Christmas Pageant

Apart from Christmas the events I enjoy the most in the summer are the arrival of the Sydney Hobart Race yachts and watching cricket.

Boxing day is the beginning of all this and watching the first day of the Boxing Day Test Match on television has become a bit of a ritual for me. During the lunch break we change channels to watch the yachts sail out of Sydney Harbour. The next few days we track the progress of the yachts online and try to watch at least some of the Test Match each day. Once the first yachts have arrived, usually around the 28th or 29th, we plan a day in Hobart to see as many of them as we can. If the arrival times work we may even choose a spot in the Derwent Estuary to watch them sail by.

Usually by this time The Taste of Tasmania has opened and while in Hobart I try to fit in a visit to No. 1 Shed, Princes Wharf to try some different foods and drinks. It’s nice to sit outside watching the activity on the waterfront but even though it’s not as hot as Adelaide the sun here has a bite to it. Sunscreen is a must. On the lawns outside Parliament House there are more food stalls and a big screen is set up for patrons to watch the cricket while kids play mini cricket on the grass.

image yachts
Sydney Hobart Race yachts at Constitution Dock.

There is more cricket across the Derwent at Blundstone Arena. The Big Bash League matches are played in December and January while most people are on holidays and I enjoy going to them with my friends. If we are lucky there will be an international cricket match as well and we may see Australia play India, Sri Lanka, West Indies or even England. Now that the ground has lights the matches are sometimes played as day/night events starting in the afternoon and going on until after 10pm. It’s very pleasant to sit in the grandstand on a summer evening especially if your team is winning. Hobart weather can be unpredictable though so more often than not I have a jacket and a cloth to dry my seat if it rains and I’ve gone to seek shelter for a while. In fact this summer the weeks after Christmas were very wet and some events were cancelled or delayed because of it. One BBL match  I attended was abandoned another was played with a reduced number of overs and I had to take my yacht pictures in the rain, but that’s Hobart for you.

image covers on pitch
Cricket at Bellerive was rather frustrating at times.
image Ricky Ponting.
Ricky walks off the field at Aurora Stadium, Launceston

My biggest treat this summer was to go to Launceston to see the Ricky Ponting Tribute cricket match. I really enjoyed the solo trip and as well as seeing the game I had time to go for a cruise on the Tamar River and revisit one of my favourite places, the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery at Inveresk. It was very hot in Launceston, well it was around 30 degrees I think but it felt hotter. I chose the boat cruise the morning after the cricket match because I knew it would be too hot for me to walk about taking photos as I’d originally planned to do. I’d learned the previous summer in Sydney that walking in the heat doesn’t agree with me any more. The boat trip was lovely though, we cruised into Cataract Gorge and then up the Tamar past vineyards, old churches and farm houses and had a complimentary wine tasting as well as morning tea. It was very relaxing sitting outside and enjoying a cool breeze and chatting to the other passengers. All the other people on the tour were tourists from the mainland, some were caravanners. I quite enjoyed being the only Tasmanian resident apart from the crew. I picked the QVMAG for my afternoon visit because apart from the fact that I’d promised myself I would visit the Planetarium next time I was there it had another important attraction – air conditioning!

image King's Bridge
Cruising into Cataract Gorge under Kings Bridge
image vineyards by the river
Vineyards near Rosevears on the Tamar. Cool climate wines are growing in popularity.
image telescope
The Planetarium was cool in more ways than one.

I enjoyed our annual trip down the Channel Highway to see the Scarecrow competition entries for the Middleton fair.

I’ve also enjoyed some picnics with friends,  a group of us get together at a favourite picnic spot by the Huon River every few weeks. It’s usually the only time we meet and there always seems to be something interesting to talk about.

All in all it was a good summer for me but now it’s autumn which is a season that I also enjoy, soon we’ll have winter and I’ll be once again hoping for bit of snow to fall on Geeveston and then spring when I’ll look forward to seeing the spring bulbs in bloom and maybe getting up to Wynyard to see the tulip festival again. Before I know it the  time for Christmas, cricket and yachts will come around again.


Meanderings in the Midlands

image figure on bridge
The old bridge at Ross c1999

I’m back from ten days visiting my sister in Oatlands and although I had a thoroughly good time I have to admit I missed my blog. I found trying to read posts over a very slow internet connection extremely trying so in between trying to read the few hundred emails that have probably accumulated in my Yahoo account I’ll try to catch up with what you have all been doing.

I didn’t take as many photos as I had hoped to on this trip. Our outings were based around visiting markets and interesting antique and second-hand shops so photos tended to be quick ones taken on the fly rather than planned. We had extraordinarily good weather, fine, mild and even warm days with light breezes and that made our outings very pleasant. I just love Tasmania in autumn. In South Australia the climate is warmer and drier and except in the hills you don’t really see deciduous trees as much as here. The changing colours and falling leaves remind me of my childhood in England.

The Midland Highway, the road that takes you from Hobart to Launceston, or from Launceston to Hobart if you are a northerner :), is promoted as the Heritage Highway. I’ve visited most of the towns on the route but apart from Oatlands itself the two I know best are Ross and Campbelltown. One day last week we decided to pay them both another visit.

image Ross Bridge
The convict designed bridge at Ross.

Ross is off the highway,a quiet little village which started life as a garrison town as long ago as 1812 which is very early in Australia’s history. Ross has a convict designed and built stone bridge which is probably my favourite of Tasmania’s three well-known bridges, Richmond, Ross and Campbelltown. The main feature of the bridge are 186 carvings featuring insects, birds, animals and faces of local personages including an unflattering one of Governor Arthur! I was quite surprised to find that although this is my favourite bridge I didn’t have a recent photo of it in my files. I think I had mentally noted that I had “done” Ross bridge and didn’t need to take another but the photo above was taken on my first trip to Tasmania with Hubby around 1999! I guess I thought I would never take another as good.  For those who like details it was taken with my old Pentax MG, my favourite camera before I went digital. The picture at the beginning of this piece was taken by Hubby and is of me standing in the middle of the bridge by the engraving showing the distances to Hobart and Launceston. Sadly I’m fatter and greyer than that now.

On a fine day you can see visitors strolling up and down Ross High Street, getting lunch, browsing in the few shops or visiting the Wool Centre. There is a nice old pub called the Man’O’Ross, a bakery which is popular with visitors and antique and gift shops.  It was a bit early for lunch so we just had a look in the antique shops before heading off to Campbelltown.

Campbelltown is quite a different kind of town. The highway goes right through it so although it is equally old and has historic buildings it has a much busier feel to it. If you are driving off the ferry in Devonport and heading to Hobart you will probably find yourself stopping in Campbelltown for petrol, food or a chance to stretch your legs. There is a nice park next to the service station and several cafes. The service station once had a cafe attached where you could buy deep-fried Mars Bars but I think that is gone now. Campbelltown’s Red Bridge was also convict built. Nearby are a group of wooden sculptures which were carved from trees which once grew beside the river. One depicts the bridge and a soldier guarding a convict. This was the main north south route even in those early days and much of the road and bridge work was done by the convicts who also made the bricks for many buildings all over the state.Wood Carving -Campbelltown

The next one has a lot going on. It shows Governor Macquarie and his wife Elizabeth (Campbell) and the bushranger Martin Cash. Seated with his telescope is Dr William Valentine. He was responsible for bringing a team from the US Naval Observatory to Campbelltown to view the Transit of Venus in 1874. The aeroplane and globe commemorate local aviator Howard Gatty who in 1931 circumnavigated the globe in a plane called “the Winnie Mae”. Lastly on this very busy sculpture there are bales of wool and sheep representing the Campbelltown Agricultural Show, the longest running show in Australia. The Midlands grew rich on the sheep’s back and many fine homes were built all over the countryside.

wooden sculpture at Campbelltown
The Bushranger, the aviator too, the Governor and his wife.The merino ram and the rest are all here in this sculpture at Campbelltown.

The last one depicts the animals ,birds and fish found in the area of the Elizabeth River. How do I know all this? I took a photo of the informative plaque on site. 🙂

The third sculpture is of wildlife.


Daily Prompt: Land of Confusion

TeacherI’m hearing Phil Collins in my head as I think about this Daily Prompt

I didn’t like school at all. I was good at some subjects but  others I felt were not things that we should be graded on and unsurprisingly these were the ones that I was not so good at.

The thing that I was worst at was undoubtably physical education. I remember a very early experience being in a running race at school aged about 6 years old. I saw two teachers laughing at the way I was running , pumping my arms as I’d seen athletes on television do because I thought that was what you were supposed to do. I was a very shy child anyway and after that anything that involved a public display I wanted nothing to do with.

I’m also totally uncoordinated, I couldn’t learn to skip with a rope properly and was singled out for attention in this area. My vision without glasses is not great so I spent my PE periods either not being able to judge the speed of balls and missing them entirely if I wasn’t wearing my glasses or ducking for fear of being hit by one if I was.  I was the original “Can’t bat, can’t throw” kid. The only ball sport I enjoyed trying was hockey which we learned for a few weeks and then never touched again as far as I can remember. I wasn’t good at it but I did manage to hit the ball a few times and enjoyed the “thwack” of the ball hitting the wood. I also have a fear of falling so balancing on beams and any kind of jumping was a nightmare to me. Sympathetic classmates would change places in the line with me so that I was always at the back of the queue but occasionally sharp-eyed teachers would find me out and try to make me do it.  This would usually make me upset and they would eventually leave me alone or send me to run round the oval instead. This was not so bad, I ran slowly and missed a lot of class time.

Swimming was another fear. I didn’t like to put my head underwater and it is a problem to try to swim when you can’t really be sure where you are going. My mother used to swim wearing an old pair of glasses but I just wanted nothing to do with the pool so I have to admit I often appeared with a note from my mother to say that I couldn’t go to swimming because of “ladies problems”.

When we went roller skating I fell over so hard that I was too dizzy to go back onto the rink and the teacher excused me. I was an unfit child I suppose but I just don’t like doing any exercise until it hurts, especially group exercise. I have a hard time understanding why people find gyms fun.  I’m happy to go for a nice long walk but don’t ask me to play team sports or get hot and sweaty and sore in a gym and for God’s sake don’t let a TV personal trainer anywhere near me because they make my blood boil.