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History

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Looking into my own past

Hollowed out tree truck make great water troughs - and they are free. I'll bet there are many still in use today.

Hollowed out tree trucks make great water troughs – and they are free. I’ll bet there are many still in use today.

 

When I travel I love going to museums – but recently I found myself going to a museum near my old home town in Queensland. It was like looking back into my own past.

The thing about remote and rural communities is that they don’t change quickly.

Whether it’s Australia, or the UK or anywhere else in the world, rural communities tend to be pretty self-sufficient. They have to be. Even in the 21st century, someone in a remote community can’t just drive up the road to buy a new… whatever.

And of course, farming communities survive at the whim of the weather and the economy – so as often as not, even if a new ‘whatever’ is available, it’s too expensive. Continue reading

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The PM and the painting

I met an old friend at London’s Royal Academy the other day … a friend who caused a million dollar controversy in Australia when I was still at school. I remember it so well.

The ‘friend’ I am referring to is Jackson Pollock’s iconic painting – Blue Poles. Painted in 1952, it was purchased by the National Gallery of Australia in 1973 for the sum of one point three million dollars. At the time that was a world record sum for a painting by a contemporary artist.

Blue Poles (photo from Wikipedia)

Blue Poles (photo from Wikipedia). No photo could ever do it justice. It is teeming with life and energy.

The director of the National Gallery was unable to spend more than £1,000,000 – so approval for the purchase was given by the then Prime Minister Gough Whitlam. And what a fuss that caused. Continue reading

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The ‘one day’ house

We all have them – the ‘one day’ house. Go on… confess. I bet you have one too.

‘One day – when I win the lottery….’ or ‘One day when I am fabulously rich…’

It’s otherwise known as the dream house. I think I started designing the house of my dreams when I was about eleven or twelve. Living in Queensland where it’s hot, and being a bit of a history nut, my dream house was always going to be a lovely colonial building – with wide verandas, and high ceilings, and stables and lawns and….

I found it recently. Someone else had built it for me.

homestead Continue reading

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Little Girl Lost

The lovely cover beautifully portrays the Australian outback

The lovely cover beautifully portrays the Australian outback

 

Drum Roll Please…

It’s here – the fourth book in my Coorah Creek series.

Little Girl Lost takes us back to Coorah Creek, where we meet up with Sergeant Max, Trish at the pub, Dr Adam and Dan the park ranger… all our old friends. And there are some new faces in town too.

I guess I should warn you …  this book is going to make you cry.  In a good way. At least, I hope it does because, it made me cry as I wrote it.

Little Girl Lost is inspired by a song that has haunted me since I was a small girl. That song always brings a tear to my eye.. Continue reading

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Storm troopers and stories

The two Skelligs rising out of the sea mist.

The two Skelligs rising out of the sea mist.

My visit to the Aran islands (see last week’s blog) was all about knitting, but there were two more island groups I had to see while I was in Ireland. This time it was all about language and literature and puffins with light sabres. Both islands are uninhabited, but both have stories to tell.

It started with the Skelligs – two tiny islands off the ring of Kerry, which are also in a galaxy far far away. Lacking any sort of space ship, my view of Great Skellig Island was from a headland on the mainland.

Continue reading

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Knitting without the sheep

Any knitter who goes to Ireland knows what is waiting for them… Aran sweaters, Aran scarves, Aran blankets. Aran knitting of all shapes and sizes and colours.

It is probably no surprise therefore that while on my Irish holiday, I found my way to the Aran islands– and I was immediately struck by two things.

First, the islands are flat and bare and barren looking. Secondly, and of more interest to the knitter in me, there are no sheep on the islands.

Not a one.

This was as hilly as it got. The people of the village must face some awful weather when those Atlantic gales blow in.

This was as hilly as it got. The people of the village must face some awful weather when those Atlantic gales blow in.

Continue reading

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Faces in the stone

Looking through the window of a ruined castle toward a nearby church - also in ruins. My imagination was running wild.

Looking through the window of a ruined castle toward a nearby church – also in ruins. My imagination was running wild.

As regular readers will know – I am a big fan of ruins. Give me a crumbling castle to explore, or an abandoned abbey, and I’m set for hours of enjoyment.

I love the history of such places and like to wonder about the people who lived there.

What I normally don’t expect is to see their faces looking back at me from the stone. Continue reading

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Never doubt Leonardo

Leonardo's weaving machine - long before the industrial revolution changed the world.

Leonardo’s weaving machine – long before the industrial revolution changed the world.

Like so many things, it all started with Leonardo da Vinci. Then it took a few hundred years for the rest of the world to catch up.

I’ve just spent a wonderful day wandering around the museums in South Kensington – something I highly recommend. There’s far too much to see in one day and it’s all great. But every time I go, something attaches itself to my mind and won’t let go.

This time, it was in the wonderful exhibition of Leonardo Da Vinci machines at the science museum. And a smart bird. Continue reading

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Defining beauty

On a recent museum trip – I saw images from the Qajar dynasty in Persia – the period from 1795 -1925. The display focused on the women of that period.

My attention was caught by description of the beautiful women of the Qajar court – paragons of beauty with a thick monobrow and moustache.

There are paintings and a few very rare photographs of the Qajar women - showing a very different idea of beauty

There are paintings and a few very rare photographs of the Qajar women showing very different ideas of beauty

Today’s women use cosmetics to highlight curved lips or long lashes. The Qajar women would paint on a moustache if they were not lucky enough to possess one naturally.

This got me to thinking about how things change – and particularly how our perception of beauty changes. Continue reading

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Bright shiny things…

Fabulous lines and angles and light and shadow make the museum quite beautiful.

Fabulous lines and angles and light and shadow make the museum quite beautiful.

 

As part of my ongoing love affair with museums, I recently lost myself for a few hours in the fabulous Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar.

The building is a work of art in itself – a beautiful collection of lines and shapes and angles on the outside and modern bright spaces on the inside.

I love the British Museum and its is eclectic collection of bits from all over the world. This was very different. This museum is devoted to a single culture, giving a much greater insight into its diversity and depth. Continue reading

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