Sunday, 18 December 2016

My Christmas Message

It seems this time of year is one for reflecting on what has passed and what lies ahead. 

I think we should reflect on other aspects of our lives, not just the achievements, money, successes, career etc.

Were we better as humans - kinder, more generous, loving and forgiving? 

Did we support and help those in need - not just family but strangers? 

Did we do enough in our lives to stop animal cruelty and reduce the impact we as humans are having on our environment?

Let's all reflect on these questions over Christmas and make our new year resolutions based on making our world and others' lives better.

Wishing you a wonderful Christmas and a very happy New Year

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Presents on the Tree

The year 1953, the first year I have vague memories of Christmas. It was also the year of our first Christmas in Australia. My family was small, just Mum, Dad and me. We had no extended family to celebrate, except for Mum’s brother and his wife who we lived with at the time.

Dad particularly missed his family and the traditional English Christmas. He recalled Christmas’ past of aunts, uncles and cousins joining together in badly sung carols; a wondrous feast, cold weather, open fires and presents, often hand made with love.

My aunt and uncle decided to take a holiday leaving just the three of us to celebrate on our own. Mid December had been exceptionally hot and, of course, nothing like my father’s fond memories of home. I believe this was the time he felt the most homesick for his beloved England.

Money was tight because he had not long found work after months of difficult searching.  Evidently, he couldn’t get a job because he wasn’t a member of the union and he couldn’t join the union because he didn’t have a job. Finally, he got work in a non-union factory.

But, homesickness and lack of money was not going to stop the pleasure of Christmas. He wanted to make sure his little family enjoyed a full day by introducing some new traditions.

The first was a stocking waiting on the end of my bed on Christmas morning. It was partly to keep me (and 11 years later also my brother) quiet for a short time. It didn’t work because we would head into Mum and Dad’s bedroom and jump on the bed to share the toy, fruit, nuts and other small items our stocking contained.

There were no big presents first thing. The stocking and its contents kept us happy while Dad cooked a traditional English breakfast. Only after breakfast could we open our ‘real’ presents. Like most other baby boomers we generally only received one present although there may have been small parcels from overseas sitting under the tree.

We didn’t look for more. We happily played with our new gift until lunchtime which was always a full roast dinner with all the trimmings, regardless of the weather. Having crackers with our dinner gave us more trinkets to amuse us while Dad slept off the meal and Mum cleaned up.

But it didn’t end there. After a light supper of leftovers from lunch, Dad announced his second surprise. There were presents on the tree for us! At the time these little novelty gifts would have only cost a couple of shillings but in future years they became the most eagerly anticipated part of the day with constant requests of “Can we open the tree presents now?”

My immediate family now consists of husband (Italian) and grown up children (son, stepson, daughter in law)

My family’s traditions, at son and step son’s requests are included in the combination of English, Australian and Italian traditions we now observe.

I still put together stockings with treats, toys and trinkets for everyone. They are still the first things we receive and we still exchange “tree presents”. They remain the highlight of our gift giving. Sometimes they are handmade; mostly they are humorous; occasionally they will bring a tear to an eye and often they won’t even fit on the tree!

They are always there and always given in fun and love.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Becoming a writer – three years on

This month’s featured post is the first Random Jottings blog I wrote just after publishing my first book, ‘Angel with Drumsticks’.

Looking back, I remember feeling very proud of my accomplishment but also unsure if it was good enough to share bookshelves with other authors. I was fortunate to find some reviewers willing to read the story and they gave my work some very kind reviews. This gave me the confidence to publish my second book ‘For the Love of a Dingo’

I read as much as I could about Indie (independent) or self-published authors and the need to promote not only your books but yourself. There were two key areas I have focused on. 

  • Building relationships with other authors
  • Social media and internet presence

Meeting and sharing with other authors is beneficial in many ways. My small circle have honestly reviewed each other’s books, shared each other’s social media posts and freely offered advice on a range of topics relating to writing and publishing.

More recently, I joined my local branch of the Fellowship of Australian Writers (FAW). Not only is my writing critiqued, and therefore improving, I have found a group of people who are friendly, sharing and encouraging. I get inspiration, learning and friendship.

Three years ago I published one little eBook. Last year I published my second book. I am now researching my next book, writing three blogs, compose short pieces for the local FAW magazine on given topics, review books for other Indie authors, administer four Facebook pages related to my writing and actively post on other social media forums.

Life as a writer does not have to be a lonely existence.   

Excerpts of both books, copies of the reviews, links to my other blogs and social media pages are on my website


As my original blog post explains, originally “Angel” was only published as an eBook. Today, both books also have print editions and “Angel” has also been translated into Italian.

This has been made possible thanks to Ingram Spark’s easy to use print on demand process and my husband’s patience in laying out the books to meet their requirements. (

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Think about your pets this holiday season

It is November and the shop shelves have been stacked with Christmas and holiday season treats, decorations and gift ideas for over a month. In Australia it is Spring and from now until the end of Summer we are out and about enjoying the warm weather, visiting friends and partying.

Sadly, it is also a time of year our beloved pets get left at home alone. As much as we love our pets we can't take them everywhere.

However, leaving them alone in the house can get boring, and boredom can lead to misbehaviour. So to help keep your dog occupied and content while they're on their own, and therefore keep them from chewing, digging, or playing up, try some of these ideas to keep them busy while you're out.  

Treats Dispenser: Treat dispensers will keep your pets entertained for hours. There are dispensers for both cats and dogs.

Digging Box: If your dog loves digging, you could always build them a digging box. In the corner of the garden distinctly mark out an area and fill it will soil or sand, you can then bury toys inside to reward your dog for digging in the right place. This can keep some dogs busy for hours and helps focus their digging desires to one controllable area.

New Toys: Studies suggest dogs will get bored with each toy in time although some dogs will stay interested longer than others and some have a toy that becomes a contestant favourite, but most will get excited with each new one. When introducing a new toy, take away some of the old ones to be reintroduced at another time.

Room with a View: Being able to watch people on the street or birds in the yard can interest cats and dogs for extended periods of time. Many pets also love to nap on the window sill to bask in the sunlight. But, we aware of your dog’s behaviour in reacting to people outside. Some dogs who have watch dog or guard dog instinct may damage the house if they get over excited in addition to barking and disturbing the neighbours.

Chew Toys: Chew toys focus a dog’s behaviour on what they are allowed to chew. And are a healthy activity for their teeth and gums.

Dog Walker: If you know your will be away frequently for an extended time and can afford the cost, hiring a professional, trained dog walker will give the dog exercise and company.

Want to get some affordable toys online? Check out the Taufer shop on eBay

Disclaimer: the information presented in this article is of a general nature and not intended to be a substitute for professional healthcare advice. Please consult your veterinarian for more professional advice.

And for Australia and other countries heading into summer - never leave your dog in the car

The RSPCA advises:
The temperature inside a car can reach higher than 50°C after only five minutes when the temperature outside is 32.5°C (in tests conducted by the RACQ). During this test, the inside temperature reached over 75°C in less than two hours. The tests also showed that the colour of the car, the tint on the windows or even leaving the windows open did not reduce the cabin temperature by a significant amount, nor did parking it in the shade.

Dogs suffering from heat stress may pant, drool and become restless. Over time, they become weak and the colour of their gums may change. They may also start to stagger and experience vomiting, diarrhoea or seizures.
Heat stroke is an emergency and your dog needs to be checked by a veterinarian. Emergency treatment is aimed at bringing the body temperature down at a steady rate; spray cool water onto your dog’s body and use a fan. Don't use ice or ice-cold water as this may cool your dog down too rapidly.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

A fun look back at technology from the past

I still have the photos I took on one of these.
This week I thought I'd share some of the technology I remember from my young days - just for fun.

My fellow baby boomers will smile and nod, X gen may rack their brains for some distant childhood memory from their parents time and X gen will just scratch their heads. 
No teenager would be without one
This will test even some baby boomers. The fastest message sender in its day.

We had an even older one when I was a kid. You had to pick up the receiver, turn the handle and ask for the number you wanted. "Appin 8 please"
I used to fill this up when Mum and Dad had a shop. Do you know what went in it?

I had my record player but Dad still used one of these
I actually operated one of these in the late 1970s
And the pencil you carried wasn't just to write on the label
Pre photocopiers
I didn't actually use one of these but I did work in a pay office and have to calculate working hours from the cards.
How many of these do you remember?

Saturday, 15 October 2016

What if?

Have you ever pondered 'what if'?  A couple I thought of are:
What if Remus, and not his brother Romulus, had founded Rome. Would we be calling it Reme today?
What if it was James Brudenell, 7th Earl of Cardigan, who wanted meat between bread while he played cards and Lord Sandwich had led the Charge of the Light Brigade at the Battle of Balaclava. 

Would be eating cardigans and wearing sandwiches? 

Many creative people have pondered ‘what if’. Here are just a few well known examples:

What if four siblings stepped through a wardrobe and entered another world?The Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe, C. S. Lewis

What if a man fell in love with a woman who hates him?Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

What if a boy discovered he was a wizard and had to go to school to learn magic?Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone, J.K. Rowling

What if a boy was raised by wild animals?The Jungle Book, Rudyard Kipling

If you are a writer, asking ‘what if’ may spark your best work yet.