Sunday, June 29, 2014


Just not in the right frame of mind for serious blogging right now but just to keep in touch hopefully these random pics will make you smile and start the new week off well for you:

I hope you noticed I did manage to sneak a cat in there somewhere.  Have a great week.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


Another of Phil's stories.  This event happened when he was about 5 years old.

It is 1934 and people around the world are suffering badly because of the Great Depression.  Phil's dad, Cyril, is the village milkman and although he always delivers the milk on time, quite often his customers don't have the wherewithal to pay their accounts on time, and sometimes not at all.

On this particular day Cyril came home and said to his wife Lillian "Well, it's going to be a hard week.  We only have 10/-d  (ten shillings) to see us through."  (Bear in mind that the dole then ... often paid by the parish ..... was only about 17/-d (seventeen shillings or $1.70) a week).

Some time later there came a knock at the front door.  Their cottage was in a country area several miles outside Coventry so a visitor at night was somewhat unusual.  Cyril opened the front door to find a well dressed gentleman standing there who tells Cyril that his car has become bogged in a muddy area and please could he perhaps assist him in getting it free.

Cyril agrees, and with that he harnesses up the horse and with young Phil in tow sets out to help this gentleman sort out the problem of his bogged car.   After attaching the leads from the horse to the car and with Phil at the head of the horse to lead it, the car is gradually pulled free and once again stands on firm, dry ground.

The gentleman says many, many thanks for your help and thrusts a pound note into Cyril's hand.  There was also a young lady in the car as well as the driver but of course no questions were asked and no explanation given.  Obviously this gentleman found himself (and the young lady) in an awkward predicament when the car became bogged as it was a little way off the beaten track.

A good deed done and a good result all round as the family now had thirty shillings ($3) in their pocket which must have been a great relief to them.

The rescue probably went something along these lines (although if I was the young lady I'd have preferred a cosier type of car):

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

TELLING IT ON TUESDAY (Part 23 ... 1968-1973)

In September, 1967  Phil and I were married, had a lovely honeymoon and then helped Steven celebrate his 10th birthday on our return home.

It is now 1968 and we have settled down as a family with Steven still at the Claremont Demonstration School and Karen now attending Iona College.  She looked so smart in her uniform:

I am still working at Thomas and Co in Cottesloe and Phil is with Metters in Subiaco and we are  renting the house in Claremont for $20/week which is eating into our resources but right now we have no choice than to stay put.  This is Karen (aged 12) in the back garden at Claremont holding (or strangling) Charlie Brown.  He did survive her gentle ministrations, but we lost him later when he was hit by a car on the busy road.  A sad loss as he was a beautiful little cat, almost dog-like as you could take him out in the car without a lead and he wouldn't stray.

While Phil and I were chatting one day he revealed he had always been disappointed that he'd not had a better education when a boy in England.  He had passed his 11+ with flying colours but his parents couldn't afford for him to go to Grammar School.  Instead he attended a Technical School in Coventry where he had to do a commercial course including shorthand and typing (which he hated) and commercial studies.  WW2 also caused a great shortage of teachers and his English teacher preferred the Bronte sister and similar authors which just wasn't a young chap's cup of tea at all.

I asked why he'd not done more study when he was older but it seems his first wife wasn't interested and in no way encouraged him to further his education.  I suggested he sit for the Mature Age Matriculation which he did toward the end of 1967.  He only read a few books from the local library as it was too late to get any tuition and he passed Leaving English without a problem but failed by a few marks his History exam.  Unfortunately it was nearly all Australian history and having only been in Australia for 7 years his knowledge was somewhat limited.

The following year I encouraged him to seek some tuition, which he did and when he sat for the exams in 1968 he had no trouble in getting high enough marks to attend the University of Western Australia as a part-time mature student.  There were no fees then, but of course there were still very expensive books to buy and students had to be members of the Student Guild whether they wanted to participate or not.   Phil spent quite a lot of time in the library at the university so he didn't have to buy every book on the list which saved us some money.  He had to choose subjects where lecrures and tutorials were available to fit in with his full time job. More about this in a later chapter.

We did manage to scrape up enough to to for a holiday to Carnarvon (910 km north of Perth) so off we set with the little Anglia loaded to the gunwales (no, I know it wasn't a ship but I thought that sounded rather good).  How we managed to fit a huge tent, 4 lots of bedding plus 4 scamp stretchers, a table and 4 chairs and a stove and cooking utensils in that poor little car I have no idea but somehow we did.  There was also enough clothing for 4 people of course.  We had to balance where we sat as if I sat in the back with one of the children Phil would find the front wheels weren't making good contact with the ground so he lost steerage.   This is a picture of our big tent with Steven and a friend he made at the camping area standing in front of it:

Phil was dissatisfied with his office job at Metters so he decided to look for a better job.  There is one advertised at W.A. Rope and Twine in Mosman Park (only 2 suburbs from Claremont) so he applies, has an interview and the job is his.  He will be paymaster, cost clerk and export/import clerk and this the type of work he really enjoys. A short while after he began working there he was told that the house next door to the factory is becoming vacant and we could rent it for $6/week if Phil is willing to open the factory at 7am each weekday morning and ensure it is locked and secure of an evening.
This is the W.A.Rope and Twine as it was then.  It has since been demolished as the whole area has been cleared for housing (and a very large retirement village as well).

Little discussion was needed as the saving of *$14/week would be fantastic and we knew the couple of duties required wouldn't impact on our life at all as we were up by 7am each morning and would always be available late afternoon/early evening to check the security.   At the end of 1968, with the help of a friend, we moved our furniture and possessions into 1 Boundary Road, Mosman Park.  It was a weatherboard and iron house with 3 large bedrooms, a large living room and a kitchen large enough for a table and chairs.  It was a very basic house but we were really comfortable living there. 

This was Phil at the front of the house just after we had moved in and you can see the large paddock next door in both photos.  Behind the house was the 'rope walk' which was a quarter of a mile long and where the very heavy ropes were made.   In modern times where it is now all built up there is a small street actually called The Rope Walk.  I feel it is rather splendid that the firm is remembered in that was as for many years it was a prominent part of Mosman Park.

Looking further up the street you can see the wide open space between us and the next two houses.  It was a very quiet street to live in, especially on weekends until a car transport company moved in a few doors up and built a very large shed.  They would be loading and unloading cars sometimes during the night which could be annoying when we were trying to sleep.   Fortunately it didn't occur every night or more than once a night when it did happen.  On on occasion Phil did go out and ask politely if the driver could be a little quieter.  We then thought that sometimes they made a habit ofparking right outside our house during the night, rather than further up outside their own premises.  Probably our imagination but also perhaps not.  It did seem rather deliberate at times.

The Rope Works paid to have a side fence put in so we were then very nice and private.  This was me at my casual best, even barefoot.

Mum bought us carpet to go through the house (there's good old mum, again when needed).  It was a wool striped carpet (I wish you could still buy it today) ast we still have it in 3 rooms where we live now and it is 45 years old and still cleans up like new.  Those carpets were apparently made from remains on reels after plain carpets had been made and were very popular as they just didn't/don't show any wear.

There was one problem in this house which had to be dealt with immediately.  An old Italian chap who had worked at the Rope Works had lived in the house for a number of years and obviously hadn't used the laundry.  There was a lot of junk in it and we also discovered it was full of flying cockroaches (yes, those horrible brown types with the big wingspan).  Once we turned the house lights on of an evening these brutes would begin flying down the passage that ran from the front to the back door.  Fortunately the firm paid for a pest control firm to eradicate these horrible creepy things, much to the relief of all of us.

 We also think the Italian chap used to crush grapes in the bath as all the paint had worn off but as we would be having showers that didn't really worry us and it was really clean.  It was just so great to be saving money without the grumpy landlord we'd had at Claremont.  One of those people who was never happy with anything.  He was a tutor at UWA and fortunately Phil didn't have much to do with him while there.

This is Phil outside 1 Boundary Road in 1972.  We had both given up smoking in 1970 and here he is looking much healthier, with a little weight on, than in earlier photos.  You can see the bush across the road.  There are tunnels under that hill and a gun emplacement on top of it all dating to WW2.  The place has quite a history.  Phil incidentally still has that denim jacket.  They never wear out.  Our son and son-in-law bought identical jackets at about the same time and I know our son-in-law still has his.

This was me in 1973 coming in the front gate of Boundary Road.  I too had put on some weight but more because I now had a rather sedentary occupation, although I used to walk a lot at lunch time and also used to often walk home when Phil had to go to uni and couldn't pick me up from work.  This is a rather fuzzy photo but it does show the bush across the road quite well.

We lived in the Mosman Park house for five plus years and during that time Karen became engaged to Trevor followed by their marriage.  After the ceremony we went to Kings Park and here is the young couple with the city of Perth, as it was then, in the background:

and here they are with Steven, Phil and me.  Steven as a teenager decided he too would wear his hair long which was the trend at that time.   I had made Karen's outfit but had bought my own on this occasion. This was taken in front of the original floral clock in Kings Park:

The following year our first grandchild arrived and we were so happy that our little family was expanding and welcomed this baby with open arms.  Christie was a delightful baby with a quiet, peaceful nature and you just couldn't help but adore her.   This was her hospital photo.  Phil always said she looked like a worried Eskimo which was a family joke for quite some time afterwards.

Here we have a lovely baby with her beautiful mum.

and this picture I had to show as it is one of my favourites.  Both pics were taken on the front verandah at Mosman Park.

I have to brag again (I made the jumper in the first pic above and also the sun dress).   I had also made Karen a number of nighties and a dressing gown, and had done lots of knitting and sewing for the expected baby.  It's always so much fun becoming a grandmother for the first time and yet, in fact, each time the excitement is still there.

We are now down to just the three of us at home and it is time for Steven to go to high school.  He is supposed to go to Swanbourne High School but he is very nervous as all his school friends from Claremont Demonstration School will be going to Hollywood High School.  I mentioned way back how shy Steven was and even at high school age the thought of beginning at a school where he knew nobody was too much for him.   I took him to a psychologist who asked me if his father would also attend the next session.  I had previously taken Steven to a a psychologist when he was only about 7 who had wanted Aub to attend but Aub's reply was that he was not going to be told how to behave by some 'shrink'.  Fortunately Phil was of a different ilk all together and willingly went along and we discussed what could be done to help cure this dreadful shyness that Steven had.

Firstly I contacted the Education Department and we discussed the possibility of Steven perhaps attending Hollywood High.  I had a letter from the psychologist which I think helped and the Department agreed that Steven could go to Hollywood instead of Swanbourne.  We lived a short distance from a train station so Steven could catch the train which also stopped near the school.

The other thing we decided to do was to get Steven into the local Scouts.  Phil and I went and met the Scoutmaster and we explained about Steven's shyness.   The first night Phil drove to the hall to deliver Steven, the lad wouldn't get out of the car.   Phil gently hauled him out, put him over his shoulder, opened the door of the hall and said "Here I have another Scout for you".  He then put Steven down and hightailed it back to the car.   Funnily enough Steven loved being in the Scouts and made several friends there.   Steven said many years later that if it hadn't been for Phil he wouldn't have got on as well in life as he eventually did.

When I look back over the years I realise what a wonderful stepfather Phil was to my two children. He usually kept rather quiet and in the background, being aware they weren't his own children, but he was always there for them when needed.  They gave him stick on occasions but he took it in his stride as he understood it hadn't been easy for them when I remarried even though our previous home hadn't been a very happy one, especially for Karen and myself.

That, I am sure is quite enough for this installment.  We had settled down into a routine with both of us working, Phil at university and Steven at high school.  We miss having Karen at home but are always delighted when we are paid a visit.

*$14 a week saved may not seem to be very much in this day and age with wages soaring as they have.  When you consider that Australia's minimum wage from 1 July this year will be $33.326.80 per annum (about $641/week) then $14 would seem rather inconsequential.  Phil was probably at that time earning $80/week (less than $5,000 per year) and my salary would have been quite a lot less as there was no equal pay, at least not for office work. 

Monday, June 23, 2014


In her Sunday Selections EC showed beautiful photos she had taken of kangaroos and black swans.  Mention was made that there are no white swans in Australia but in fact there are and here is where they live.
 The first white swans were introduced to Australia during the 19th century,  In 1896 the white swan was introduced into Western Australia by British colonists.  In the early 1900s, it is believed a Russian settler and the town's mayor, Oscar Bernard, introduced white swans to Northam in Western Australia.  Surprisingly the Avon River in Northam became the only place in Australia where the newly introduced bird survived and today it is still the only place in Australia where white swans breed naturally in the wild.

 There are about 80 swans on the Avon River and a new breeding programme is under way to help replenish the many aging birds.  The white swan became a protected species in 1950 under the *Department of CALM Wilflife Conservation Act.  This means it is illegal to remove a white swan from the wild, keep a swan as a pet or release a swan into the wild without the appropriate licence.  The swan is a protected species and in Northam they are cared for and watched over by local volunteer Swan Wardens.

The white swan (Cygnus olor) originated from Europe and Asia.  It enjoys eating water plants, fish, frogs, insects and a crustacean or two.  They can weight up to 15kg and will deliver a nasty bite and  whack with their wings if provoked.  When a male swan (cob) and a female swan (a pen) become partners they remain monogamous throughout their lives.  The female swan can lay up to twelve eggs during each breeding season and it take between 35-40 days for the eggs to hatch.

Though white swans in the northern hemisphere migrate to warmer climates during the winter months, in Australia (Northam) they stay happily along the Avon River.  This is due to the mild winter weather conditions and the abundance of food.

Many thanks to for this information. Photos obtained free on Google search.

*NOTE:  The Department of CALM was originally the Forests Department of Western Australia where I worked for 12 years.  During that time it became Department of Conservation and Land Management, and, after I left, Department of the Environment and Conservation and is now The Department of Parks and Wildlife.  My daughter began working for the Forests Department back in the 1980s when we job shared.  At that time we were typists but she has moved on to bigger and better things and now runs her own publication section and makes a wonderful success of it.

Saturday, June 21, 2014


There are various types of butcherbirds but in this instance I am describing the grey butcherbird as it was he (or she) that visited our garden this week.  I'd not realised they were only found in Australia so thought it would be good to describe these birds for those that know nothing of them or their habits.

The Grey Butcherbird (Cracticus torquatus) is a widely distributed species endemic to Australia.  This bird occurs in a range of different habitats including arid, semi-arid and temperate ones.  It has a characteristic "rollicking" birdsong.  It appears to be adapting well to city living, and can be encountered in the suburbs of many Australian cities.  The grey butcherbird preys on small vertebrates including other birds.

The adult bird has a black crown and face and grey back, with a thin white collar.  The wings are grey, with large areas of white and the underparts are white.  The grey and black bill is large, with a small hook at the tip of the upper bill. The eyes are dark brown and the legs and feet dark grey.  Both sexes are similar in plumage, but the females are slightly smaller than the males.

Young grey butcherbirds resemble the adults, but have black areas replaced with olive-brown and a buff wash on the white areas.  The bill is completely dark grey and often lacks an obvious hook (although I think I can see one in this picture).  They are sometimes mistaken for kingfishers.

With its lovely, lilting song the butcherbird may not seem to be a particularly intimidating species.  However, with its strong, hooked beak and its fierce stare, it is not a bird to be messed with.  When there is a nest or newly fledged chicks, if you venture too close, a butcherbird will swoop by flying straight at your face, sometimes striking with enough force to draw blood, and each swoop is accompanied by a loud, maniacal cackle.

They are aggressive predators.  They prey on small animals, including birds, lizards and insects, as well as eating some fruits and seeds.  They are known as 'butcherbirds' as they tend to 'butcher' their prey before eating it.  Uneaten food may be stored in the fork of a branch or impaled against a tree trunk.  Most mobile prey is caught on the ground, though small birds and insects may be caught in flight.   Feeding normally takes place alone, in pairs or in small family groups.  They are known to raid the nests of other birds when the opportunity presents itself.

The nest is bowl-shaped and is made of sticks and twigs. lined with grasses and other soft fibres.  It is normally located within 10m of the ground.  The eggs are incubated by the female and the young birds are fed by both parents.  The young birds will remain in the breeding territory for about a year, and help the parents raise the young of the following season.

Butcherbirds do have a very beautiful varied 'songs', especially the Pied Butcherbird.  They are a lovely bird to look at and I always think it a shame that such a good-looking bird can be quite so violent at times.

Other birds in the same family include the Australian Magpie, the Currawongs, Woodswallows and other member of the butcherbird genus Cracticus.


I mentioned the weeping peppermint that grows in our garden (we have 3 in fact) and then thought perhaps I'd best describe just what they are like.   River mentioned she has a tree that grows near her home that causes her to close her doors and windows because of the odour.  Usually you don't smell the peppermint unless you actually crush the leaves, or at least I've never noticed it and I have a good sense of smell.

The weeping peppermint (Agonis flexuosa) is a species of tree that grows in the south-west of Western Australia.  It is easily the most common of the Agonis species. and is one of the most recognisable trees of Western Australia, being commonly grown in parks and on road verges in Perth.

It is commonly known as Western Australian peppermint, Swan River peppermint or just peppermint, and willow myrtle for its weeping habit.

The weeping peppermint occurs mainly as a small and robust tree, usually less than 10 metres tall although it has been known to grow to 15 metres.  It has a fibrous, brown bark, and long narrow, dull green leaves, with tightly clustered inflorescences of small white flowers in the axes.  It has a weeping habit, and look remarkably like the weeping willow from a distance.  Leaves are narrow and reach a length of 150mm.  It is readily identified by the powerful odour of peppermint emitted when the leaves are crushed or torn.   It flowers between August and December.  The fruit is a hard capsule, 3-4mm across, with three valves containing many very small seeds.

The genus name Agonis comes from the Greek agon, "a cluster" referring to the arrangement of the fruits.  The species name flexuosa is Latin for "full of bends". referring to the zig-zag course of the stem, which changes direction at each leaf node.  It was originally placed in the Leptospermum genus by Spangel in 1819, but Schauer placed it in Agonis in 1844.

This tree occurs in a subcoastal strip from just north of Perth, southward through the Swan Coastal Plain, then along the coast to outlying records east of Bremer Bay (34ยบ23'S.  The habitat includes limestone heath, stable dunes and sandy soils, usually inland from the coast and it also grows as an understory plant in the tuart forest.

In cultivation it is used in mass plantings, such as street trees, and has been introduced to Rottnest and Garden Islands near its native region.  Agonis flexuosa is an attractive garden or specimen tree in temperate climates.  *However, care must be exercised in selecting it for small areas, as in a yard setting.  Quick growing, the tree produces a large amount of detritus and its trunk sometimes becomes large and disproportionate to the rest of the tree.  Here weeping peppermints grow on foreshore parkland on the Swan River at Keanes Point, Peppermint Grove.

*NOTE:   We have three of these trees in our garden (two were self-sown).   Two of them have single trunks but the third and latest tree is multi-trunked.  They grow rather tall and they have not proven too large for either our front or back garden.   They do drop small leaves but we've never noticed them to be very 'messy' trees that necessitate cleaning up under them.

I understand that some people can be very allergic to these trees when they are in flower.  A friend of my daughter's who nursed at Busselton hospital (it is near there where the tuart trees grow and there are weeping peppermints scattered throughout the region) said they would quite often have patients come to the hospital whose asthma was made worse because of these trees.  Neither Phil nor I have noticed they cause us too many problems in that regard.  We tend to find the wattles give us hay fever.


At midday on Tuesday I had an appointment with my physio and retrieved my camera at the same time.  My daughter had picked up the camera from my granddaughter's home but because we weren't expecting to see each other she left it with our physio on Monday for me to pick up on Tuesday.

Having been without the camera for about two months I of course had to find something to photograph, but what?   Tuesday was a very, very wet day.  I think we had something like two inches of rain.  After leaving the physio we detoured to the nearby Phoenix Shopping Centre.  As it was so wet Phil told me to stay in the car and he'd pop down to the shops on his own.  There wasn't much we needed so no need for me to get my walker out (then it would have to be put back in the boot) and prolong what for Phil would be a short trip.  One doesn't want to be a hindrance, particularly on such a wet day.

We parked in the upstairs car park under cover so I lowered my window several inches and out came my camera and I began taking pictures.  I reckon there are enough signs here don't you?  This is the entrance to the car park and opposite is the dental clinic where I had an appointment later that afternoon.  The trees were bending in the wind as the rain deluged down.  I'm not sure if you'd want to bother but these pics can be enlarged to give more detail (of the rain if nothing else).

While I watched the rain and the trees being blown around I began to wonder where do all the birds go when the weather is like this?  There wasn't a bird in sight, not even a seagull and they are pretty hardy.  I know feathers are waterproof to some extent and so I guess the little creatures huddle somewhere and keep as safe as possible.  I love this type of weather but usually I am safe and sound and warm indoors but not so the poor birds.

Just as Phil came back to the car the rain was even heavier and the wind was blowing it under the roof of the car park and I had to close my window quickly as I was getting a little damp.

We set off home and travelled north along Stock Road (it is part of National Route 1) and we were very glad there were no very large trucks on the road that day.  This red one was just a normal enclosed truck but semi-trailer trucks use this road constantly everyday and can hold the traffic up to some extent.

We then turned left into Forrest Road where they too now have underground power:

and then we arrived at the corner of Federick Road where we turn off and head for our house:

I thought I did rather well (perhaps not so well in the last pic) to take these shots and miss the windscreen wipers.

Ours is quite a leafy suburb and there are buffers left on the main roads so it is pleasant still to drive along with trees on either side of the road.  More or less gives you 'out in the country' feeling.

If you check next to that large palm tree you will see a bus shelter.  Nearly a year ago I contacted our Council and told them it is a traffic hazard as it blocks the view of oncoming cars when you turn out of Frederick Road.  The Council contacted Main Roads who said there was nowhere else they could place the bus shelter and I was told a new one of different design would be fabricated.  They said it would take 16 weeks for it to be made and it would be installed when it was ready.  As nothing had been done by March this year I again contacted the Council and was told that apparently BP has an oil line right under the bus shelter and before the new shelter can be installed something has to be done by BP.  I wasn't told what that would be and personally I've never heard anything so ridiculous.  After all it is only a bus shelter and if they could put the first one up then why not remove it and replace it by another?   Have heard nothing further so think it is time to talk to the Council again and see what is going on.

The problem with the junction is, if you are turning right or even left, there is a bend in the road and even with the speed limit set at 60km/hr there are drivers who will insist on speeding.  Trying to see around the bus shelter (there is also a stand with a timetable on it that doesn't help matters) makes it very difficult to be sure you are safe and we've on many occasions had to slam on the brakes to avoid a collision.  If a bus is parked there it is impossible to know if some idiot is going to suddenly swing around the bus so you have to wait till the bus has moved off.

Other people take beautiful pictures of animals or birds or their gardens and here I am taking pictures of a rainy day but to me there is beauty in winter so hope you don't mind me bringing rain into your life here.

P.S.  We have just had another half inch or more so we are doing well this month for rain.

Friday, June 20, 2014


....and now for something completely different!!  Today we had a visitor in our back garden....a grey butcher bird.

Phil alerted me that there was an unusual bird sitting on our clothes line and he had heard a rather special bird call as well.   When I looked out the window I could see the bird on the ground eating something.  I snuck outside (yes at last I have my camera back) and managed to get a couple of distance shots which I've enlarged.

The bird then flew up into the nearby weeping peppermint tree so I could check what it had been eating.  By the look of what was left it was a rat.  You can see the long tail and the trace of a head as well.

We get many black and white birds at our place: magpies, mud larks, willy wagtails and of course crows/ravens but it it seldom we receive a visit from a butcher bird.  I was glad to see it was only a rat that it was devouring and not another bird.  When I went outside a little later there was no sign of the remains.

P.S. We did have a visit from a cuckoo shrike last week but not having the camera I was unable to get its picture but then they tend to be rather shy so I probably would have missed out anyway.