To find THE bookshelf

By Sue Trollip

When I hopped across the ocean I left most of my books behind. Now I’m looking for somewhere unique to store the few I still have. Some might say piled against the wall in the ‘entrance hall’ is unique, but I’d like something a little more conventional than that. I refuse to buy something generic. I want odd. But how odd is just odd enough?



I will keep looking, without concern to the pile on the floor, for I know it’s not about the bookshelves but all about the books. In the words of Philip Pullman:

“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.”

A Seamless Change of Countries

By Susan Roberts

When I wrote my previous post for this blog, I had just loaded my Move Cube and sent it on its way. It’s hard for me to grasp that that was a month ago. Today I was going to write about how I got rid of the loads of stuff still sitting around in my cottage that needed to find new homes.

I was going to wax lyrical about how those last two weeks were a frenzy of activity, but that fortnight passed in a blur and now I find that I don’t wish to recall all the traumatic details. Suffice it to say that there was an overriding sense of despair as time raced, there were tears after I said goodbye to my cats and promised them I would see them in three-and-a-half weeks, and there was a growing realisation that my suitcase was not constructed like Mary Poppins’ bottomless carpet bag. I ejected many precious things from my suitcase because they just didn’t fit.

And then suddenly I had said my last rushed goodbyes to beloved friends, and I was on a plane for Australia.

Oh the bliss of being able to relax and sleep on that long flight! Sleep was something that had increasingly eluded me in the months leading up to my departure. I had become used to waking up in the early hours almost every day, my mind racing over some for22gotten task to be added to the ever-increasing list, and like Shakespeare’s bloody hero Macbeth, I could sleep no more. But once I was on that plane over the Indian Ocean, sleep settled over me like a comfy blanket and I restored some of those lost ZZZ’s.

For the first time ever on a long flight, I was in the centre block, on the aisle. The other three seats in my row were occupied by two small boys and their father, and whenever the two boys needed to move out of the row, they chose to disturb their father instead of me. Every time I woke up, I did an exercise circuit of the back end of the plane, drank more water, and then curled up like a cat in my seat for another snooze.

My arrival in Melbourne catapulted me headfirst into joyous family celebrations over my youngest niece’s upcoming wedding. There was the inevitable last-minute sewing of beautiful dresses for the bride, her bridesmaid sisters and her mother, and a fun-filled bridal shower that nurtured the bride instead of humiliating her like so many similar functions do.

My sister’s house bulged at the seams, filled with relatives, food and laughter. Madness and mayhem ruled, but for the first time in months, the madness and mayhem were not mine. I happily took my place on the perimeter, where I observed and chuckled, relishing the time spent with family who were finally together in the same country, t11he same city – and mostly in the same house – for the first time in more than four years since my middle niece’s wedding. Precious times indeed.

The wedding itself was beautiful…
…but gradually the activity tapered off as relatives returned to their various homes around the world.

In the two weeks since I arrived in Australia, I’ve done a lot of sleeping and not much writing, but I still wake up early when the house is quiet and drink tea in bed while browsing the internet and writing e-mails. My cats have arrived in the country and are comfortably settled into the quarantine facility on the other side of Melbourne, and I will see them soon.

My world, despite being in a new country, is starting to return to normal.

Don’t Fence Me In

By Jac Dowling

I don’t like zoos as a rule. Nor do I enjoy circus animal acts. In fact I am totally opposed to animals being used as objects of ridicule and display – elephants on tiny boxes, lions with trainers’ heads in their mouths … and the rest. So, it’s ages since any of us went to a circus, except those with no animal acts, like Cirque de Soleil, which I loved.

So it was with a certain degree of horror and sadness that we watched the unfolding story of floods in Georgia, and the plight of the escaped tigers, hippo, lions and the rest. The poor old hippo looked completely zonked, even before being darted and one hopes that he was rehoused in a warm and comfortable facility. Not much mention was made of the fate of the tiger who attacked a human – well he would wouldn’t he? He was starving. Anyway, tigers don’t belong in zoos, or circuses and definitely not in cages. They probably don’t make very good domestic pets either although I’ve heard of someone who has two pythons to guard his property. So far no disturbances have been reported!

Which brings me back to the reason for this blog. A circus, a ringmaster , a tiger and a small girl – all togetheryellow takkies under the big top at the same time. Clowns were busy keeping everyone amused, acrobats, jugglers and high-wire artistes jiggling and swinging and, in a corner, a group of chimps were fully occupied with their tea-party. It was exciting. Lights flashing, band at full volume and a lovely warm smell of sawdust and elephant droppings. A small girl, highly visible in bright red dungarees and yellow shoes, sat along the top row of seats with her parents, totally engrossed in what was going on in the ring.

The ringmaster bellowed, band stopped playing and did a drum roll instead, spectators fell silent as a large tiger padded into the ring, made several circuits to the crack of the whip, and lay down on a piece of canvas and surveyed her surroundings through dull and uninterested eyes.

‘Any little boy or girl who is feeling brave and would like to come into the ring and stroke our tiger, come now. It’s quite safe Mums and Dads.’

In a flash a red and yellow body hurled itself down through the crowd below, ran into the ring and curled up under the tiger’s chin. Totally unafraid. A deathly hush descended as the ringmaster hovered, an uncertain smile glued under his moustache. Tiger stretched, yawned, closed her eyes.

I shall never forget the sharp, rank smell of that old animal, the scratchy fur under her chin against my cheek, nor her total acceptance of me in her space. She deserved a gentle and peaceful retirement. I hope it was granted her.