Remembering Australia. November 2018

November 29th and 30th
I have travelled back from Australia over these two days, but not before one final bush walk. I recorded the sounds of the birds, but alas hardly saw any of them as I walked, so here’s a butterfly which I did manage to see. On the plane I watched the last episode of The Big Bang Theory Series 11 (which on the way out I was only able to see not hear as they took away my headphones after 23 episodes on the trot) then the TV series Howard’s End and movies Hunt For The Wilderpeople, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and Moonrise Kingdom. Home to some welcome cold weather and the lovely Tim who came to gather us up from the airport.

November 28th
Today it was too hot and humid for one and all. Even the actual Queenslanders we saw were wilting in it. We four went off to the air-conditioned cinema to see “Widows”. Lots of swearing and a few random shootings, but in the end all the goodies got the money and the baddies were mostly dead. I liked it and Viola Davis is magnificent. Later, there was very delcious seafood at Annette and John’s. Being inexperienced in such matters, I needed lessons in how to extract the meat from most of it. Moreton Bay bug was a particular favourite from the selection – a local delicacy.


November 27th
I went to the Queensland Art Galleries in Brisbane and spotted bananas. Also I met up with my wonderful friend Trish in North Lakes. Oh my what an absolute treat that was. No photo but oodles and oodles of laughter. I wrote this song for her and her class. She gets a mention…”…our Captain, Mrs. P!”

November 26th
Today we drove to Landsborough to see Jamie’s Dad and Elaine. I remember visiting that town when we lived over here. It sticks in my mind because the museum had a fine collection of different types of barbed wire if I recall correctly. Anyway, no barbed wire this time. There was lots of happy chat though and we went to Montville for lunch. One of the highlights of that place was this!

November 25th
Years ago when we lived in Queensland and Jamie was temporarily working in Bali, my Dad and brother came out here on a holiday. One day we went on a bus tour to the Glasshouse Mountains. There were only five of us on the trip. We explored a pineapple plantation as I recall, and there was a koala sighting, and also included was a short stroll in the forest. There were many grass trees and the guide, who may have been called Daryl, helpfully called out upon spotting each one, “Grass tree, Bernard!” The three of us chortled about this from then on. Today, Gaynor, Jamie and I went to the Maroochy Botanic Gardens. At the entrance to the sculpture walk were two grass trees. Today is my Dad’s birthday. This picture is in happy memory of him.

November 24th
We went to visit my old teaching pal Jayne and her husband Mike. She’s one of the most creative teachers I’ve ever known – it was with her I first explored musical art with her year 4 class in Manly and now look at me working in a gallery! Such a wonderful catch-up with these two. Later I braved the insects to watch the full moon rise on the balcony. All around was the sound of Sunshine Coasters Saturday night partying, but still, this calmed things down.

November 23rd
We left Melbourne after a day of windy, breezy, coldish weather, plane delays, a visit to the Heide Gallery of Modern Art, Large Sharing Platter for lunch, lots of goodbye hugs and now we are three again in Queensland. Before we left Olinda I took some photos of Forget-Me-Not Cottage, and so I give you an album entitled Forget-Me-Not Fragments.

Floor reflections

Through the blind: ferns

Through the blind: phone box

Window corner

Balcony foliage

French doors

Tap drips

Roof trees

Trio: switch/jambe/chimney

Flying fish

Trinkets with garlic

Rainwater spout

Corner door

Green gas

Ghost sun

Red phone box and New Zealand lancewoods in the same photo. What heavenly place is this?





November 22nd
Monica and I went to the botanic gardens at Olinda and communed with a giant eucalyptus and marvelled at the varieties of beech on display. We were full of the delight of it all and chatted extensively as we roamed and observed.
Later there was Afghan food in Dandenong with eight of the party. In the colder mornings I sit in the garden room with a blanket wrapped around me awaiting the waking up of Jamie and this is the panoramic view on this rainy, windy morning:

November 21st
There’s been such a lot of rain this last couple of days….and thunderstorms…and it’s relatively cold. I’m loving it.

I tried to take a picture of the splahes on the balcony and the camera went all arty on me.

This cottage has a tin roof and the sound of the rain battering upon it is truly exhilarating. We sang my new song again today and there was also a Mexican themed evening meal for 10 which went down well.

Another arty digression by the camera when it decided the ferns nearby were more interesting than the splashes it was being pointed at.

The guacamole in particular received lots of “mmmm”s. During the meal my knowledge of Robert Burns stood me in good stead as I was able to recite several fragments of his poems and the entirety of Red Red Rose. I also used the words bestatued and cherry-y in conversation, neither of which Google recognizes, I was hurriedly told, but both of which everyone understood.

November 20th
After two botanic gardens in two days: yesterday in Olinda with Jamie and today with Gaynor, Trina and Monica in Cranbourne, I have quite a collection of pics to share, so…
Album: Victorian Flora and Fauna

Spiky sunshine

Kangaroo paw with red desert circles behind.

Oak and gum. Immigrant and native. Living together in shapely harmony.

Kookaburra sits on the electric wire,
Jumping up and down, with his pants on fire.
Ouch, Kookaburra, ouch! Kookaburra,
Hot your tail must be!

I’m being followed by a phone shadow.

I’m half crazy all for the love of you.

Double warratah. The state flower of New South Wales. Never seen one before, but this was the time of year for their full gloriousness.

Grevillia’s curly bits.

The echidna’s proboscis

Protea’s pointy bits

A carrilon of correa.

New Holland Honeyeater

I’m quite impressed with my new camera and its picking out of the fiddly bits. I don’t know what this is – no label.

Orange berries. Because of the new kitchen everyone thinks I’m interested in everything that’s orange. I suppose I might be.

My favourite flower of the day. No idea what it is mind.

More of the orange.

November 19th
We were all mustering at 2pm at the Olinda Teahouse for high tea, so Jamie and I walked through sunshine to the Botanic Gardens.

Spotted pardalote

The rhoddodendrons were out in colourful force but we were more interested in the Australian native plants. I was well impressed with the warratahs. There was a fine display if proteas too- much enjoyed by a feasting honeyeater. En route we had a lengthy and delightful encounter with a spotted pardalote which not only beautiful but very very very tiny. Later we watched an echidna burrowing and snuffling for ants. There were two retro phone boxes set up some distance apart with a talking tube for talk-play like in the olden days!


November 18th
Gaynor’s birthday and I was up early finishing my song. We had to improvise with the manuscript paper and various other stationery items. Anyway, we practised and she seemed to enjoy it when we gave the world premiere. I don’t know if anyone videoed it as I was too busy grappling with the rather ancient and clanky piano. This was in the evening between asparagus tarts and the main course, and there was also a sing song with me on the piano trying to sightread accompaniments – not my forte as you know.

World premiere

Anyway, a splendid day, and I did composery things successfully which is always satisfying.



Up A Gum Tree

November 17th
More family arrived today, at dinner there ten. Tomorrow there’ll be two more. There was some strolling about today, but mostly I was composing a song…lyrics and all. On the strolls we saw a few Australian things.

Day time eucalypt

Crimson rosella

In the mornings it’s cold and we need some help to get going.

November 16th
We’ve flown to Melbourne for the big birthday weekend in Olinda in the Dandenongs. En route we spied swirls in the ocean off Queensland, then a few things as we drove through Melbourne before meeting up with most of the rest of Jamie’s family at our cottages. Outside ours is an old red telephone box, can you believe?

Swirly Ocean

Things on an angle in Melbourne as seen from the back window of a 4-wheel drive: 1. Orange road bridge.

Things on an angle in Melbourne as seen from the back window of a 4-wheel drive: 2. Crown on a post

Things on an angle in Melbourne as seen from the back window of a 4-wheel drive: 3. Aerial bird.

Things on an angle in Melbourne as seen from the back window of a 4-wheel drive: 4. Aborigignal flag and overhead cables.

What’s right outside our current abode.
















November 15th
Up for a ladyfinger banana before dawn, then an entire drippingly delicious mango for breakfast. They are in season and completely divine. I watched the pelicans waddling and gliding, and a three-oystercatcher scrap from the balcony then we went to see Bohemian Rhapsody at the cinema down the road. The music of Queen has always been brilliantly ear-tingling to me and so I absolutely revelled in this film. We went out for a yummy tapas tea too so an excellent musicky foody birdy day.





November 14th
I was up and out before 4.30am for the sunrise:
Casuarina at sunrise.

Fishing at sunrise. So busy on the beach at 4.50am. Two fishermen, three surfers, five dog walkers, ten or more strollers, three joggers, one worshipper (arms outstretched to the sun, chanting), one worker emptying bins, one surf life saver.

My current residence is in this picture!

I also received conformation today that Cantate Domino will be in Kantos’ Christmas Concert in Manchester, snuggled between Lauriden’s O Magnum Mysterium and Rachmaniniv’s Bogoroditse Devo.



And we paddled in the sea after walking across hot, hot sand.






November 13th
After some sleep we went a-wandering with Gaynor. She and Jamie had banking business to attend to, so I roamed around Coles supermarket marvelling at all the foods I remembered from when we lived here. I went to the rendezvous place – a chocolate cafe – and waited over a 2-flavour tub of passionfruit/raspberry and white chocolate ice cream. We merely lolled about for the rest of the day eating things we’d later bought from Coles and watching river from the balcony.

Panorama from the balcony

Sunset on the wing

11th and 12th November
We have flown to Australia. Nothing of particular note has happened, but to pass the long, long flying time I have watched on the Emirates entertainment system the entire series 11 of The Bing Bang Theory. I’ve never watched any of it before and I did find it entertaining and laughed a lot. They came to get my headphones ten minutes into the last (24th) episode so I had to watch it in silence. Maybe it will still be one of the options on the return journey. I took this photo out of the window somewhere over the Middle East at sunset.

November 10th
Concert day and also sunrise day. This is the encore from our exceedingly emotional (in so many ways) WW1 Commemoration recital. It followed nearly two minutes of applause and many tears and preceded much post-concert rapture and congratulation. I won’t be able to process the rest of the recording until the very end of the month now, but this will do for now!

November 9th
I’ve sent all the festive accompaniments off to Scott the pianist. I’ve sent A Christmas poster to Hazel for distribution to the press. I’ve practice-conducted the WW1 music. I’ve collected $AU700 from the village post office. I’ve made cakes out of left over ingredients. I’ve fashioned some hair clips from odds and ends. I’ve listened to England win a cricket match. I must be ready for tomorrow.

November 8th
Sunrise walk along Warkworth Beach over Birling Carrs to the little wreck in what was the most glorious red and pink light ever is a splendid way to start the day. Back to Christmas arrangements and a bit of cricket from Sri Lanka on the BBC Cricket Social which is splendid too. Alison came round in the afternoon for Christmas chat as she’s taking three rehearsals of The Bridge Singers soon. She’s more organised than me with alphabetical lists and a special folder. I’ll have to up my game when I get back. At Lionheart Harmony this evening we sang No-Umbrella Blues and In The Bleak Midwinter by me, plus one or two of my arrangements as we started singing Christmas music for our non-existent Christmas gigs. I then drove to the pub in Lesbury to pick up Jamie who’d walked there from his London train earlier. We went in and had a drink…on a Thursday! Dramatic turn of events. Here’s a bit of sunrise and one verse of my song “Not The Sort Of Song I Sing In The Shower” about two soldiers in the war meeting up at the field showers for a bit of a sing-song. It’s receiving its world premiere on Saturday night and as you hear at the end is accompanied by Northumbrian pipes playing “Sweet Hesleyside”.

November 7th
Shopping for a trip in Newcastle. It went well, I think. At least I did come back with everything on my list, and a few more things besides. Later, I discovered that You Will Remember will be performed by Glendale Voices with hand bells as accompaniment on Saturday night. Very thrilling. Here’s a bit more of Monday’s rehearsal and part of the display at St. Michael’s. We’re singing this one from a variety of positions around the church which should be thrilling for the audience, eh!?

November 6th
A quiet day after taking Jamie to the train early doors. Teensy tasks. Here’s a bit more of Monday’s rehearsal with a panorama photo Shirley took of most of the choir in case they forgot where they’re supposed to be standing. The music is from my Mustering In Siberia song with Alan on the organ – you can see him peeping into the photo. See him in real life on Saturday – 7pm, St. Michael’s Church, Felton.


November 5th
This morning I went to Morpeth for a light – one of those teensy book lights that clips to your music so you can see the notes. Got three just in case. Then I did a recce to St. Michael’s to check out possible positional snarls for our concert on Saturday. While I was there I communed with the Quiet Window which currently has one of several Remembrance displays adorning it. Another has these knitted and crocheted poppies draped around the book of remembrance and the honours board, which in turn is reflecting the Quiet Window. This evening we had our final rehearsal before concert day on Saturday. Alan the organist was there. Nick the lighting guru was there. Most pfaff was eliminated. The things we practised mostly came together splendidly. Here’s a snippet of one our world premieres: Darling Daddy by Gary Steward. A hopeful song about one of the plumbers from Alnwick castle heading off to war, based on his letters to his family and their letters to him. Elsewhere in the village there were fireworks, but we neither heard nor saw them.


November 4th
War and Music all day and finally it’s done and I can move on. Huzzah! Find it here! First thing, though I went to the beach and my camera had a hissy fit so I took a photo with my phone – figured out how to do the panorama thing!

November 3rd
What a brilliant composery day. Off to Rock Festival Choir this morning where I was taking the rehearsal due to Peter being double booked. We started with the women only and my Alleluia! Into The Light, which starting tentatively and ended boldly after a concerted and lively effort, and which seemed to receive universal approval. I was complimented on both the music and the words. Yes – I did write them too! Then we ploughed on with Chilcott, Poulenc, Trafford, Howells and a bit of Trad. for good measure. We ended happily but exhausted. I’ve taken rehearsals for this choir before but found it rather intimidating due to my own lack of confidence, but since The Bridge Singers started just over three years ago, I have more of a feeling that I know what I’m doing, so this was very exhilarating and several said how well I’d done. Just as we were leaving Peter returned, so we had a debrief and much laughter. Then Alan and I drove back to Felton together so that we could practice the organ part for Mustering in Siberia in St. Michael’s. I have a lot of respect for Alan who is a lovely fellow and a top notch musician so was delighted to receive all manner of compliments from him about my rehearsal style and my composition! It’s sounding good too. Concert on Saturday! Then Jamie and I settled in for pie and telly (Chocolat, the film on the ITVPlayer – I remember going to see this when it came out, but had not remembered the story at all, so found it a delight once more. Good day.

November 2nd
Trying very hard to get my War and Music stuff sorted. Still not managing to finish it. Recorders in the evening. Connor’s been to Saltaire to buy a new bass recorder and Alan’s in Cyprus so I got to play the now discarded-by-Connor plastic bass recorder. What larks.

November 1st
Fed up with my October inability to get tasks completed. I’m usually pretty fired up on the 1st of any month with new goals to achieve, but today I’ve not been so, as I was still ploughing on with trying to get my War and Music unit from days gone by into a fit state to publish on this very website so that it might be useful next week in the run-up to the 100th anniversary of the Armistice. Pah! Lionheart Harmony at ours this evening. Just four of us this time and much joviality with two singing not their proper parts. Cheese scones were a hit.

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