book review · books · fiction · reading · University

Book Review

Today the weather has been dismal, all-day-long. Nothing but rain, rain, and more rain. Oh, and mist, so there’s no Mount Warning visible to take a photo of. So today, I will talk about a novel I have just finished reading – Never Let Me Go.

The first required reading for one of my Semester 1 units, Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, is a novel I had never heard of, nor did I recognise the name of the author. The blurb describes the novel as being about a group of school children and “the fragility of life,” which really doesn’t give away much at all, so I read this book without having any preconceived ideas.

This morning after I’d finished reading the book, I felt quite overwhelmed by the depth of emotion Ishiguro conveyed. Never Let Me Go is not a genre of book I am usually drawn to. Even defining the genre is a challenge, but I think I will describe it as speculative dystopian sci-fi, with a twist.

Here is the review I wrote for Goodreads

“Someone who reviewed Never Let Me Go (on Goodreads) advised prospective readers to avoid reading any information or reviews on the novel, therefore they chose not to say anything about the novel’s content. Their five star rating speaks for itself.

I reiterate this reviewer’s advice. This is a novel best read from a place of relative ignorance. That’s how I read it, and discovered that once past the confusing first couple of pages at the beginning, the story unfolds beautiful as the first-person narrator, Kathy H., reveals her tale. At surface level, the story appears to describe a dystopian world, yet a message of hope can’t help but shine through the overwhelming narrative.

Never Let Me Go is an unforgettable novel containing strong themes of love, trust, hope, commitment and acceptance, a novel that will leave a lasting impression on every reader.”

This week, Never Let Me Go is the topic of discussion for one of my units, and I’m looking forward to hearing what other people who have read the novel have to say about it. And if you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend it.



Australia · books · clouds · farewell · fiction · memories · Mount Warning · spring · Tweed Valley

Sean Connery

Windy Monday

It isn’t often that I’m dreadfully moved to hear of the loss of a famous person. Sure, it’s always sad to hear of someone passing, I think of their family and friends, and how the loss will affect those who are left behind.

And then yesterday the news came through of the passing of Sean Connery.

During my last uni semester, one of the books we were asked to read was Dr No. I have never been a huge James Bond fan, but besides reading the book, I watched the movie for one reason only – it was in Dr No that Sean Connery first stared as James Bond.

But it was when I watched another movie, several years ago, that I became a huge Sean Connery fan. So today, I will add a short YouTube video of one of my favourite scenes from the 1986 movie Highlander.


Sir Thomas Sean Connery

1930 ~ 2020


Australia · blessings · books · family · freedom · memories · Mount Warning · rain · reading · spring · sunset · Tweed Valley

Monday Musings

5:45am in the valley.

There were storms about last night – plural. Thunder with no rain during the afternoon, which subsided. A rain storm between around 6pm to 8pm, which also ended. Then overnight, another storm. Bowie cat, I discovered, is scared of storms and slept all night cuddled close to me.

I didn’t know what to expect in the valley this morning, but I woke to a very pretty misty fairyland scene, even if Mount Warning was hidden behind mist and clouds.

Each day since uni ended I catch up on a neglected chore, yesterday I pressure-cleaned the front veranda and part of the driveway; today I spent ironing.

Ironing is a pretty brainless task, and as anyone old-fashioned – like me – knows, whilst ironing and alone, your mind wanders off in all directions.

Today, I contemplated the risk I took in deciding to take photos and add a post to my blog every day, while I studied. It was a risk because I wasn’t completely sure I’d have time to post something every day, but I did. (Except for that one night when my sister called, and we stayed on the phone until after midnight. That was worth missing a day of posting.)

I decided to take that risk and make the committment, another committment – but an enjoyable one – which would distract me from the tunnel-vision I am prone to while studying and writing assignments. As much as I enjoy the study and writing, it drains me. I needed a distraction.

My conclusion at the end of the three month semester is that it paid off. Forcing myself to take time out each day to walk outside and take photos gave me something else to think about. It was a very worthwhile distraction. And even more rewarding has been my reconnection with blogging friends, most of whom I have known now for many years. The risk was worth the effort in many ways.

I’m not much of a risk taker though, which led to another thought. I feel content right now, I’m getting my home and garden back in order, and I am looking forward to Christmas. Through into next year, and when semester 1 of uni starts back, I will continue blogging. Decision made. But I also know I want to hold on to my peace of mind.

Here in Australia, there is a state election on Saturday. It’s not for my state, but the outcome will directly affect us as we live so close to the border. And next week, there’s the big election in the U.S., the outcome of which will have an impact on Australia. I’ve decided though, that this week, I will not listen to any news. Regardless of my opinions, the outcome of both elections will be whatever they will be, so I will save myself the agony of speculating on “what might be”. When the outcome of both elections are known, regardless of which party wins and which one loses, the world will keep on spinning.

Another thought I had was about the year – 2020 – which the multitudes seem to consider is the worst year ever. I understand why many people feel that way, but I don’t. Last year was more difficult when my husband and I had to organise aged care for his parents then sell the home they had lived in for twenty years. In 2015 my first grandchild, baby Samuel, was born, but never took a breath. The next year, baby Braxton, now aged four, was born, but we wouldn’t have Braxton if Samuel had survived. 2002 was an incredibly trying year when my husband had a serious accident and could have lost his life. He survived. I thought my world would end when my mother left me in 1993. The world kept spinning though, and her absence gave me the opportunity for the next five years to develop a closer relationship with my Dad.

My point is, life goes on. I thought a lot about that today, whilst ironing. I can’t control the world, my country, my state of residence, my town – I have no control over the actions of anyone other than myself, and it is my responsibility to be the best version of myself that I can be.

Making that decision feels like a weight lifted off my shoulders. I think also that if I stay away from watching television this week, I will get a lot more reading done. 🙂

Husband and I have been planning a renovation of my kitchen, so tonight he called me into the kitchen to discuss the height my new rangehood should be installed at. The discussion had to wait though. I looked out the window, and after all the rain, and storms, and mist we have had, look at the sunset sky! ❤

Australia · books · in my garden · Mount Warning · pets · reading · spring · subtropical weather · Tweed Valley

A Happy Garden and a Day Spent Indoors

Not a happy gardener, because it’s too wet for me to do any gardening today. My garden is extremely happy though, due to a good, solid soaking of rain that has hardly let up all day.

When I saw a magpie, a currawong, and two kookaburras outside my kitchen window this morning, my first thought was one of amusement – they are social distancing! Then I thought, but this is the way birds always act. They never get into each other’s space, they wait patiently, distanced from one another. No, not social distancing at all. I believe birds understand – they have always known – that they each need their own “personal space”.

There’s nothing to see today where the mountain can usually be seen sitting in all her splendour. Nothing but mist and rain. I took all of my outdoors photos today from either inside, or standing on my back veranda. It’s too wet to venture any further.

I have spent most of today indoors, sorting through masses of papers which have littered my desk for the past three months while I have been engrosed in uni study and assignments. I plonked a grey blanket on top of my sewing table a few weeks ago, and Miss Tibbs seems so happy with it being there that I haven’t had the heart to move it. Now, she sleeps on the blanket, and when she’s not sleeping she’s kneading the blanket! That’s why one of her paws is blurred in the photo – up and down her little paws went, kneading away as happy as could be.

I’m pretty happy too – just look at my desk-top! No really, look at it, because you can! And I can too! This is a rare event! I usually have so many piles of this, that and the other on my desk, but today they have either been thrown in the recycle bin, or put away where they belong. Bliss! ❤

I have another blissful sight to share too – a pile of books that I have been collecting over the past months of uni. I’m reading two book now, and will work my way through these, and others, during the next few months.

In another week’s time, I think I might have my life sorted and back in order. 🙂

Australia · birds · books · knowledge · Mount Warning · native Australian birds · photography · respect · Tweed Valley · University · winter

Kookaburras in the Mist

‘Twas another misty morning today. The mist wasn’t as thick as it has been recently, but it looked lovely all the same.

The mist sat in pretty pockets all through the valley, like a puffy layer of cotton wool blanketing the earth.

Another beautiful sight in the valley was a pair of kookaburras perched on a strong branch in a gum tree.

I completed a university assignment yesterday for the diploma course I started last year, the Diploma of Sustainable Living. I’ve been slotting a unit in here and there amid the Bachelor of Arts I started in second semester of 2017, and so far I’m coping okay. Units are often on offer during out-of-semester time slots, but this semester I’m studying one unit for the diploma and two for the BA, all at the same time.

The assignment I completed yesterday was for a unit I’m doing called Backyard Biodiversity. We were asked to choose one creature, be it birds, amphibian, mammal, or whatever else we may have seen in our yard, research the requirements for our chosen backyard buddy, then answer a series of questions for the assignment.

Any guesses on who I chose? 😉

The Laughing Kookaburra, (Dacelo novaeguineae) is a most interesting little character, which I already knew of course. But even I had a lot to learn about the habits of these gorgeous guys who visit my garden daily. I’ll add the information here straight from my assignment  –

“Discuss the biological needs of your selected species:

  • For food, this species requires: worms, insects, lizards, snails, grasshoppers, small snakes, and unfortunately, amphibians. Kookaburras are carnivores, and also eat small mammals, rats and mice. They occasionally eat crustaceans. When larger items of food are caught, a kookaburra will bash their meal against a tree branch or on the ground to kill, or “tenderise” the food before eating it.
  • For shelter, this species requires: large eucalyptus trees with strong branches and natural hollows to shelter in. Kookaburras are family orientated and choose favourite trees in which to sleep together for approximately twelve hours each night. They often begin and end the day with a collective raucous chorus of “laughter”. In cold or wet weather, kookaburras huddle together for warmth in their chosen tree for lengthy periods of time.
  • For water, this species requires: clean water for drinking, although similar to owls, most of a kookaburra’s water requirement is obtained through their food. Being the largest members of the Kingfisher family, however, they enjoy bathing in water, therefore need to have access to water for this purpose.
  • For space, this species requires: a large area with plenty of eucalyptus trees. Kookaburras live in large, sociable family groups, they mate for life, and the dominant breeding pair of the group keep their young with them after reaching maturity to help tend future clutches. Kookaburras also occupy forests and woodlands, ideally where open ground areas offer clear visibility for spotting food. Kookaburras are territorial and their territory can cover several hectares of space, but they are respectful of other kookaburra families and will not encroach on spaces already claimed.
  • Other things this species requires are: safe retreats from predators. A main enemy of the kookaburra is domestic animals. During September to January, which is their breeding season, kookaburras also require a safe hollow in a tree which is large enough for the mother to lay approximately one to four eggs. Elevated termite mounds can also be hollowed out to build their nests in.”

I’ve always suspected the twelve kookaburras who visit my garden were one family, and now I can relate that information to my lovely visitors – my original visitor, who I named Larry, always came into my garden alone. After a while he brought along a little lady friend who I named Shilo. Those two kookaburras have learned to trust me, and I can now hand-feed both of them. They still visit.

Meanwhile, the family has grown. I had always wondered if other kookaburras had joined my original family from elsewhere, but from what I have read, Larry and Shilo are the dominant breeding pair, making all the rest siblings who remain with their family.

I also read that kookaburras are usually the first birds you’ll hear in the morning and the last you’ll hear at night. Just after finishing my assignment, I went out into my garden, and what did I hear? A collective chorus of kookaburras, laughing, right down the bottom of my garden! They may have a favorite tree just beyond my yard, but the were close. With my new-found understanding of their habits, hearing the kookaburras last night, right on nightfall when there were no other bird-sounds to be heard, I felt privileged to know they were so close, and that they had chosen a “favourite” tree to rest in so close to my home.

I have also learned this week that kookaburras were seen by the early settlers in Australia, and were noted as a species of bird they had never seen before. In 1788, the kookaburra was identified as a “Giant brown Kingfisher”. I found this information in a book I just bought called Journals of the First Fleet, which is the journal entries of Captain Arthur Phillip and Lieutenant General Watkin Tench, who both arrived in Australia with the first fleet of convicts, brought here to settle on our shores. Many of these convicts, mainly from England and Ireland, are the ancestors of Australia’s current inhabitants.

1788 drawing of a kookaburra.

The drawing depicts details of the Great brown Kingfisher which we can easily identify as our Laughing Kookaburra. And here is the information accompanying the picture, and written in the 1788 journal …

Isn’t it strange to think we see the very same birds species today, even sounding the same, as they did back in 1788? Barbara spoke about this concept in her post The Continuation of Life. Since I read Barbara’s post, the thought has remained with me, and every now and then I try to drag past situations into the current age. I have also tried to “see” things from the point of view of people who lived 200 years ago. I don’t believe it is possible to understand what life was like for people living so many years ago, nor do I believe it is fair for us to place judgements on them based on the values we have today. Yet my contemplations have made people of the past seem more “real” somehow, although that’s another concept that is difficult to explain. Of course they are real! But it is difficult to imagine them as real because we didn’t know them.

I wonder if that is why lately people the world over are showing so little respect for people of the past? You know the people I mean, those who are trying to rewrite history books and smash statues that are there to honour the achievements and sacrifices people of the past made in an effort to forge a better world for future generations.

It is not for us to judge the decisions made by people who lived so long ago. No one can change the past, and as life continues, so different to the way it was 200 years ago, I find it comforting to realise that those early settlers heard and saw the same Laughing Kookaburras that I admire every day in my garden.