Rain Dancing

We’ve all made excuses for not doing something at some time or another. You know the sort of thing, ‘The dog ate my homework’, ‘I had other, more pressing issues to deal with’, ‘It was too hot/cold’, etc., etc. I don’t think I have ever heard anyone make an excuse for doing something, so imagine my surprise when, six months after quoting for my new kitchen, the builder arrived to start work.

‘It’s too wet to pour concrete and it’s raining too hard to do any roofing today, so I thought we’d make a start on your kitchen.’ That was at the beginning of March. Two days later the rain stopped, and so did work on my kitchen.

Let the work commence.

Let the work commence.

Seven weeks into a project that was to be a ‘two or three week job’ we’re approaching Anzac day and my kitchen is about half way to completion, an achievement I am proud to attribute to my unashamedly prancing about on the lawn doing my version of a rain dance.

Sadly, there’s only so much rain dancing an old chook can do, so I’ve resorted to prayer, calling upon divine intervention to encourage further work on the kitchen.




Progress, no matter how slow, brings such joy to the heart, but if only these steps in the process were not so tiny and so far apart the ongoing disruption would be easier to bear.

Now, which of the boxes in the dining room holds the magic Oxo cubes…?


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David Williams

I’d like to tell you about a man I knew for some twenty years, yet knew not at all until his coffin stood before a small gathering in Ipswich.  His funeral was an intimate affair, attended only by his family and close friends who were invited to speak about him.

As people spoke I learned more and was able to assemble enough components of his life to see the composite picture. There were more facets to this man than I could have imagined.

David was a man of many talents and became an accomplished musician early in his life, playing the guitar, drums and pipes. He was gifted with a fine, bass-baritone voice and a recording of him singing one of his own compositions had the tears flowing. He built boats, and he became a pilot of powered aeroplanes and gliders and, for some years, owned an aircraft. He was a great mentor, encouraging others in their endeavours. A model builder and reader he became an expert in both fields, absorbing information like a sponge – and was able to draw upon it and quote accurately.

David entertaining an appreciative audience after a Writers' Ink meeting.

David entertaining an appreciative audience after a Writers’ Ink meeting.

For twenty-five years David suffered serious and life-threatening diseases, succumbing only this week. It will take some time to adjust to the loss of this great man who, despite the difficulties, spared no effort to make the journey to Tenterfield to be at our meetings.

Possessing a quiet, dry wit and Olde Worlde charm, his personality could truly be described as unique and, for all these attributes, I regarded him as a wonderful and treasured friend.

David Williams, I wish you fair winds, clear skies and good sailing.

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A Path Paved with Good Intentions

I last posted almost a month ago and the guilt stings like a paper cut. I know I should post at least once a week – once a fortnight, even – but life gets in the way. My Grandfather’s words come to mind: ‘The path to hell is paved with good intentions.’  I survey the detritis of another year which has gathered itself around my desk and spread beyond, and I think about that grand man who had such sound advice for every situation.

The most significant piece of writing to flow from my fingertips to the screen/page recently has been the Writers’ Ink newsletter, the last for the year. Considering it is merely two sides of one sheet of A4, I should be – and am – ashamed of myself.

2014 has been my greatest year of non achievement. Next year just has to be different. Of course, I have excuses, but they become irrelevant when set against a whole year, the passage of which has happened without so much as a ripple. What a waste!  Unlike last year, I haven’t driven to Western Australia and back, nor have I achieved any personal goals.

There was the big 70th birthday, but that’s a bit like being promoted on seniority rather than merit, isn’t it? If you wait long enough it’ll happen. Unlike the next great book, which won’t happen without the input of my sweated brow, bloodshot eyes, fatigued fingertips and kick-started imagination.

So, with the sting of guilt of 2014 and the fearsome determination or desperation (or single-mindedness) of the year to come, I give fair warning: 2015 will be different, so look out!

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Ice Cold in Alex

Remember that old WWII black-and-white drama, Ice Cold in Alex,  starring the great Alec Guinness clawing his way through the North African desert, dreaming of an ice-cold beer in Alexandria? What a film!

Not so long ago necessary journeys from my high-altitude residence to the sizzling, humid coast filled me with dread and, like Guinness, I would long to climb that mountain track back to the cool heights of the New England – and a long, cold drink of aqua pura at the end of the day. Alas, all good things (apparently) come to an end, and recent temperatures on the top of my mountain have exceeded those of the Northern Rivers region. This situation has been a constant for some three weeks now and there is no promise of change any time soon.

All this, of course, fills me with dread. What if these mega heat-wave conditions remain? Some people, me included, simply weren’t built for this. Worse, it’s affecting my ability to think! The brain refuses to function; my imagination has fled, along with my ability to write. Like Alec Guinness, my only thought is Ice Cold, Ice Cold… i.c.e. c.o.l.d…



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Warwickshire History

You don’t have to look very hard to find history in England. It hits you in the face as you meander along the lanes or pass through tiny villages. It’s the buildings that hold the biggest surprises though, and there’s no denying the Romans/Saxons/Normans knew a thing or two about constructing buildings to last.  Nowhere is this more evident than in Wootton Wawen, where stands the oldest surviving Saxon church in Warwickshire.

St Peter's, an old survivor.

St Peter’s, an old survivor.

St Peter’s stands on the site of a Benedictine monastery established in 700AD, but long before that, in the Late-Bronze and Iron Ages, the people created a ‘homeland’ called Wildwood. They transformed the heavy soil and gravel of the district into pasture, and established farms.  These were connected by paths which soon became cart tracks and, eventually, roads. Over time the name of the locality changed from the original Wudutun through Wotone, Waghanes Wotton, Wauneswotton and Waweneswotton, Wavens Wotton to today’s Wootton Wawen.

A Norman priory was built here in the 1100s and the two Benedictine monks distributed bread to the poor and sick twice a week during the 1130s. There’s a story told about one prior, Peter de Altaribus who, in 1281 attacked his monk, sold all the church plate, refused to give charity to the poor and hunted illegally on the lord’s land. For such nose-thumbing he was excommunicated and banished.

Crusaders' crosses.

Crusaders’ crosses.

The church itself bears witness to some important events.  12th Century reminders that not all who embarked on the Crusades returned are revealed in the small crosses carved in the stone surrounding the doorway. Upon leaving, crusaders carved the vertical post of the cross, completing the horizontal only upon their return. There are several incomplete crosses.

In the mid-13th Century reconstruction began on the ageing building, with the intention of replacing the early Anglo-Saxon and Norman church with an English tower, enlarged chancel and transepts but the work was largely abandoned.

A recent addition is the board recording all the vicars of Wootton Wawen since Richard the Lionheart’s time. Such record-keeping is something of an eye-opener. There are almost 70 names on the board, from 1190 to the present day.IMG_0439

Faintly visible on the Lady Chapel wall are 14th Century paintings depicting the Seven Deadly Sins. I remember seeing paintings on the walls of the Lady Chapel in Cirencester several years ago, but I believe they were later decorations.

I’m not a history buff, but I do so enjoy the surprise encounters with such historical events and people. Warwickshire – and Warwick itself – has been so involved in the making of English history that you almost don’t need to look any further to discover the history of the entire nation.







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