Thursday, November 29, 2012

Port Arthur

My Piccie of the Day is of the Port Arthur Convict Ruins, Tasmania.

Answer to What is it Wednesday, tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What is Wednesday

Well I am absurdly busy at the moment so I am squeezing writing this post in between meetings.

I hoped to find another piccie of a bird to continue a recent theme, but I just haven't had time to find a suitable piccie from my archive so this is something different.

So without further ado  what on Earth do you think this is?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


I posted this piccie some time ago. It was taken on a very still day at the Huon River in Tasmania

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Hilda XIII

Well I am back at work as of tomorrow. My break has seen me do little writing and take fewer photos!  I don’t know what is wrong with me. Still I had a nice time in any case.
I guess I shall get back into the swing of things, never much fun going back to work though.

This week sees Hilda getting a nice surprise and Leanne Deer’s nose getting out of joint.

Hilda hurried down the hall carrying the ash bucket carefully. ‘You’ve a visitor.’
Hilda gasped and jumped, spinning around to find Kat’s grinning face, ‘You! You made me jump sneaking up behind me!’
‘Your sister’s down in the kitchen.’
‘My sister?’
‘That’s what I said weren’t it? Have you finished here?’
‘I have, I’ll be straight down.’
Ginnie looked up from the kitchen table where she sat with a tea cup in front of her.
What was she doing here? And in her Sunday best?
Mrs Garraway the cook was pouring tea for Mister Young the Butler, Trent Harriman one of the footmen and Leanne Deer.
As Hilda came in one door Mrs Smither came in the one opposite. Hilda smiled and said, ‘Good morning all.’
Hilda always took any opportunity to be personable, do unto others as you would have them do unto you always seemed a most sensible teaching. So she did, being as friendly as she could, and in general she found most people warmed to her given the chance.
There were always those like Leanne. Leanne scowled at her as she came in, but for every one like her there were at least a dozen people who would behave decently. ‘Good morning Duck.’ replied Mrs Smither, she caught sight of Ginnie, ‘Ah, I see we have a guest.’
‘The young lady is Miss Attewell, Hilda’s older sister.’ Said the Butler, ‘Miss Attewell, this is Mrs Smither our housekeeper.’
Mrs Smither nodded, ‘Miss Attewell.’
Ginnie smiled, ‘Please Mrs Smither, Ginnie.’
‘Ginnie? What an unusual name.’
Ginnie’s eyes found Hilda’s, ‘Hilda christened me Ginnie when her was very small. Her couldn’t manage Mary-Jane, so I was “Ginnie” and it has stuck ever since.’
‘When her was small?’ Quipped Trent, ‘Her still is! There still isn’t much of Duck!’
He was right Hilda thought, she was still only four feet eleven inches and hoped she would reach five feet before she finished growing. But given her dad the ex-jockey was not much above five foot she did not hold much hope.
‘That’s true,’ agreed Ginnie, ‘our younger sister Dolly is already taller than either of us.’
Dolly was taller, but Ginnie like her took more after their mother and did not have Hilda’s diminutive frame.
‘Tea Duck?’ Asked Mrs Garraway.
‘Yes please.’ She smiled at her sister. ‘You’ve given me a nice surprise Ginnie.’
Hilda had seen her dad here at Ettington Park three or four times since she started. He sometimes came by on business and had a longstanding arrangement with the butler that he would drop in for tea when he had the time. She had never really expected to see anyone else. She wondered for a moment if Mrs Smither would tell her off later? Probably not, not if I make sure I don’t linger too long drinking my tea.
‘Mrs Gilchrist has given me the day off at the shop,’ explained Ginnie, ‘and I thought in respect of the fact that it is your afternoon off I might take you to Stratford this afternoon. If I meets you here and we hurries to the station we might just about catch the half past twelve train.’
That would only work if we were away from here on the stroke of midday. Except she wasn’t meant to leave her tasks until noon.
‘Isn’t your sister lovely inviting you out like that Duck?’
The question came from Mrs Smither, how to answer? ‘Her is,’ Hilda threw a smile at Ginnie before turning back to Mrs Smither, ‘We all likes our Ginnie.’
‘Hilda, as long as you work hard for the balance of the morning, I have no objection to you finishing at half past eleven. We can’t have your sister disappointed.’
Hilda felt a warm glow of contentment, one that was not even spoiled by Leeanne's disapproving scowl.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Dove Lake

My piccie of the day is of the Dove Lake Boathouse and Cradle Mountain, Tasmania

Friday, November 23, 2012

Al's favourite piccies

My piccie of the day is one of my favourite ever piccies.

I caught this on the rugged coast west of Port Campbell, Victoria back in April this year.

The sun was setting through a sea-mist and simply turned the shadows on these cliffs into a vision.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

All in a row!

Well I am a bit worried I have been a bit hard on people lately.

Only two guesses this week:
from Linda G - "Part of a bird's beak? A duck's bill, maybe?"
Not a duck this time, but your observational skill earns 100%!

And from Christine -"You've fed us a tough piece of pie again, Al. But I agree with Linda; I think it's a part of a bird's beak."
Well I suspect this isn't too had to swallow, you earn 100% as well!

The bird in question is a Silver Gull (Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae), one of a row of birds I caught standing on a rail year or so ago.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

What is it Wednesday?

Well a fortnight ago almost everybody was pretty close with their guesses for the duck's eye.

Last week nobody was even close with the Cocky (except my other half Deb).

So lets see how it goes this week.

Is it another toughie?

Or is it a piece of pie?

So what on Earth do you think this is?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Point Lonsdale Lighthouse

My Piccie of the day is of Point Lonsdale Lighthouse which stands at the mouth of Port Phillip Bay

Monday, November 19, 2012

Toorongo River

My piccie of the day is of the Toorongo River in Gippsland, Victoria

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Hilda XII: Spite

Well I am still in northern NSW. The weather is warm to hot, which is a nice change from Melbourne!
What with one thing and another I have barely touched my camera the whole time I have been away. I guess I will be getting withdrawal symptoms soon!

I have managed a little time writing but nothing serious. Which brings me to this week’s Hilda scene

Hilda carefully emptied the dustpan into the covered bucket. If you dumped it in too quickly it caused a puff of fine ash to billow out and you had another job ahead of you.
Hilda’s knees ached, her back ached and her head spun. Miss Jane’s room was the fifth and last hearth of “the family’s” rooms she had to do before she went down for a cup of tea. Hilda had been on the go since three in the morning. It seemed years since she had paused for breakfast at six, now it was ten and she was ready for a break. With practiced speed she crumpled paper and built a pile of kindling into a little tepee. She didn’t put a match to the fire, Leanne Deer the house-maid who did for Miss Jane would light it later.
A quick wipe over the tiles in front of the hearth and Hilda stood back to check her handiwork. Her back grumbled as she straightened, the hearth would do. Surely Even Leanne could not find fault with it.
Leanne was the only member of the house staff Hilda did not bring herself to like. To be sure Mister Young the butler frightened her, but she had never had a cross word from him.
While she had plenty of cross words from Mrs Smither and Mrs Garraway the cook, both women were likely to scold when she didn’t finish something as quickly as they expected, but neither of them was spiteful.
Leanne was the very essence of spiteful she took every opportunity to pick at Hilda and her work. A dozen times in the three months Hilda had been at Ettington Park Leeanne had complained to Mrs Garraway that Hilda had left ash or dust in a hearth in one of the rooms she looked after. A speck here or there was all Hilda had ever seen when she was sent back to clean it again. Going back was especially trying, because she ran the chance of being seen by one of the family. As the scullery maid and hence out of uniform, she was not meant to be seen by the family.
She was beneath notice and shouldn’t sully their day with her presence. Hilda wasn’t certain anything would be said if she was seen but the prospect terrified her anyway.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Hardest one yet?

Well after last week when nearly everybody was close to the mark, this week's WIIW saw no one even in the ball park. 

Hair, wool, and fur were about as close as guesses got.
Even my showing a different part of the piccie didn't help

Hair, wool, and fur were about as close as guesses got.

The mystery is a Sulphur Crested Cockatoo (Cacatua galerita
These guys are seen around much of the world as a pet.
Like many of the popular pet parrots including budgerigars (usually known in the US as Common Parakeets) and Cockatiels  these guys are Oz natives.

In fact Sulphur Crested Cockys are one of the most common Oz birds. They are so common the Cockies see them as nuisance pests!

Now to avoid confusion I should add in Oz the word "Cocky" means a farmer. We don't have "cowboys" in Oz instead we have "Cow Cockies"!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

No One Close!

Well this WIIW image has stumped people.
I can say no one is even close.

So as a clue here is another part of the same piccie, any other ideas?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What is it Wednesday?

Well I am still up at my Mum's place so I have struggled to come up with a WIIW.

SO I will keep this short and sweet.

What on Earth do you think this is?   (I guess there are a couple of correct answers to this piccie)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

An Oz summer scene

In the warmer months cricket clubs everywhere get out their bats, balls, and whites and while away many a Saturday hour.

For those of you who don't know, club cricket games like this usually run for most of a day.

There are three forms of professional cricket:

20/20 where the each team bowls 20 "overs" of 6 balls.

One day cricket where each team bowls 50 "overs" and the game lasts about six hours.

And Test Cricket (purists consider "Test" to be only true form of the game). Games of Test cricket usually last 5 days and often end in a tie!

Clearly a case of the game being more important than winning!

This batsman at the Arthur's Creek club is in danger of being "run out".
Being "bowled", "caught", or  "leg before wicket" are all considered acceptable forms of getting out.
Being "run out" is a disgrace for a batsman.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Hilda XI: “Kat”

I wasn’t sure if I would be able to get this post up tonight but after a bit of juggling here we go.
I have continued North from my brother’s farm to my Mum’s place.
In total 17 hours on the road. That takes me to Northern NSW. After travelling north 17 hours and 1,400 km (900 miles) I am still considered to be in the south east corner of Oz.
Oz is a big place! No wonder I normally fly!

Well here is this week’s “Hilda” post. Kat shows Hilda up to her room and begins explaining what a scullery maid does to “earn a crust”.

Hilda followed Kat out the far door into a long, low, dim hallway the only light coming from a few lamps and high set windows right at the far end. Kat began a long narrative as they walked,‘This is the servants’ hall, it runs right under the house from one end to th’ other. There is three servants’ stairs that lead off it and go right up to the attics. Those are for us, there are two main stairs too, but don’t ever be caught on them unless you are sweepin’ them or the like, you’d be in terrible trouble.’
Kat paused, ‘I’s sorry, is I going too fast?’
Hilda nodded, ‘A bit.’
‘I’s like that, Mrs Garraway is always on at me for chattin’ too much. I’s excited to have you.’
She led the way through an arch onto a steep spiral staircase, ‘This is the “Little Stair” it is the quickest one to the staff bedrooms at the top. If you wants to carry anything heavy upstairs you should use the middle stair. Now where was I?’
Hilda, climbed the narrow stair behind Kat, ‘These are not so bad going up, but I’ll be frightened of tumbling going down.’
‘They’s not too bad, not once you’s used to them. Oh, yes I’s very pleased to have you. It’ll be nice to have someone to talk to who’s my age, or near enough. And truth be told, Mrs Smither’s goin’ to make you scullery maid which means I get to move up to a house maid.’
‘Is scullery maid worse?’
‘It’s the most thankless job, an I’s done it two years.’
‘What’s so bad about it?’
‘You has to be up earlier than the whole rest of the house, you have to clean the hearths in the stoves and light the fires to start the water heating. Clean anything that was left out for you when you went to bed. Then you sneak up and clean the hearths and set the fires in the reception rooms. You don’t light them, the house maids or the gentry folk do that later. Then you come back down and help set out the breakfast things for the staff. Then you get’s to have a bite with whoever of the staff is there. Then it’s washing up the staff breakfast things. After that you sneaks upstairs to whichever of the gentry folks rooms that’s empty and clean those hearths and set those fires. Bear in mind you’s never meant to be seen by the gentry ‘cause you’s not in uniform. Then it’s back downstairs to wash up the gentry’s breakfast things, and that’s all before you stop for a cup of tea. Then you help with cutting up or whatever else the kitchen staff want you to do, and washing and cleaning as they use things through the day. Then’s dinner with the staff before the washing that up and what ever the gentry’s used for their lunch. Then cleaning what ever the kitchen staff use preparin’ the gentry’s dinner in the evening. Finally it’s washin’ up the night meal stuff. Mrs Garraway’s usually pretty good and lets you to bed around nine or so when that is runnin’ late. Then it is up again at three in the morning to start all over.’
Hilda’s head spun, ‘Is that every day?’
‘Yep, ‘cept for your afternoon off. You’ll be very tired for the first few weeks, but it gets easier as you gets used to it, and,’ She smiled warmly, ‘I’ll give you a hand when I has a moment. Now this is the womens’ quarters.’
Kat led the way into a hall that clearly ran under the slates of the roof. ‘This glass door is locked at night.’
Along the passage Kat turned into a doorway, ‘This is the room you and me’ll share.’
It was not a large room, but pleasant enough, a view over the park from a dormer window. A narrow brass bed on either side and a wardrobe by the door. Kat opened the wardrobe door. ‘You can have these two shelves, and these coat hooks. You’ll have to keep your case under your bed. This is your one, I’s made it up for you.’
‘Thank you.’ Hilda set her case on her bed.
She was glad she was not on her own, glad she had not had a moment to dwell on what might have been.
‘Well if you get your apron on I’ll make a start showing you the ropes.’
Hilda snapped open the clasps on her case, her apron was on the top of her neatly folded clothes, she guessed she might need it this morning. Kat was still talking non-stop, ‘I s’pose you and I will get on, we had better. Otherwise, you and I will be up in this room havin’ a “Kat and Duck” fight!’
Hilda did her best to smile, Kat would be easy to get on with, she was doing her best to settle the new girl. ‘Excepting we should call you “Rabbit”’
‘Why Rabbit?’, Kat paused, then laughed, ‘Oh, o’ course, on account of me rabbiting on!’

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Checking in and What it was

Well I didn't mean to seemingly drop off the face of the world. I have actually been on the road for past couple of days.
This Morning finds me on the Central Coast of NSW at my Brother's farm. Mike's place is about 12 hours drive from home.

Now to last week's WIIW most people guessed an eye for this image.

Linda G said “It's an EYE!

Hooray! I'm finally sure I got one right.

(What? You want me to be more specific? Picky, picky, picky...)”

Exactly it is an eye so 100%.
There I wasn’t picky at all was I?

Old Kitty guessed: “I want to say it's an eye of some skunk but I'll go for a shiny shiny button!!”
That deserves 50% because you talked yourself out of saying an eye!

Christine said: “Think I might be with Old Kitty on this one. Is this a fine, fluffy knit created by Deb and the shiny round thing a button?
You are 'trying to be less cruel'... Hmmm...”

I am hurt Christine, hurt :-) I said I wasn’t being cruel and kept my word!

Marcy said “I think it's an eye too but I'll be more specific and say the eye of a stuffed animal.”

It looks like one of those shiny glass eyes doesn’t it? But no it is a living breathing creature 60%

Susan said “I agree with Marcy. It looks like the eye of a stuffed skunk.”

Alas no, not stuffed, and definitely not a skunk (no skunks in Oz either) 60%

Kristen guessed an eye too, and went further with “Kookaburra eye?”

Well not only an eye 100% but you earn a bonus for guessing an Oz creature 150%.

Jai guessed “Raccoon eye? or badger eye?”

It is an eye, but no raccoons or badgers in Oz. That earns 60%

Here is my little creature, a Black Duck (Anas superciliosa)

The glow in his or her eye is actually a reflected sunset!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Gang Gang

Sorry it is late and I lack motivation, so I will answer my WIIW tomorrow.

By the way people guessing "an eye" are on the right track.

My Piccie of the day is a Gang Gang Cockatoo.  Not a great piccie, but I have only seen these guys a couple of times, and never in good conditions.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What is it Wednesday

Deb and I have just come back from a very nice dinner at an Italian Restaurant.

It is mid week and we both have to be up early so I will keep this post short.

SO what on Earth do you think this is? (I am trying to be less cruel this week)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Beechworth "Sub-Treasury"

My Piccie of the day is of the "sub-treasury" in Beechworth.

It was the receiving point for gold taken from the Beechworth Goldfields. How much gold passed through it is not certain, but in 1857 alone over 350,000 ounces of gold were sent from there to Melbourne.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Hilda X: Introductions

This week has once again not been productive for writing. I have put a bit of thought into my other WIP, Veil of Iron, I think I am coming a little closer to a solution to my plot problem. But it is going to take more thought and I guess I am just going to have to jump in and write some of the changes to see if they work.
So all in all I have not done much with Hilda, it seems a weekly refrain!

How about the rest of you, have you had time for writing or reading this week?

So once again this scene follows straight on from the last. Hilda is introduced to some of the people “at the Park”.

‘Good morning Mrs Smither, this is my Hilda.’
‘Good morning Mister Attewell, Hilda.’
Hilda’s dad smiled at her, she read in that smile an attempt at reassurance, it will be alright said his eyes, as they stood just inside the kitchen door. ‘Mrs Smither is the housekeeper and in charge here.’
Hilda stood in the doorway clutching her case tightly and said nothing.
Mrs Smither drew herself up, ‘Actually, Mr Young the butler is in charge of the house. Can we get you a cup of tea Mr Attewell?’
‘See Duck, Mrs Smither takes good care of me. She’ll see you right.’ He paused considering for just an instant, ‘Thank you Mrs Smither I had better keep on this morning. Well Duck, give your dad a kiss.’
Hilda’s resolve to not cry almost broke as she watched Charles Attewell disappear, she nervously looked around the kitchen. A big space, a range of stoves along the far side, benches along the near side and a long table through the middle surrounded by a dozen kitchen chairs.
In addition to Mrs Smither three other faces looked curiously back at her. How she wished she could find a corner to hide by herself. Mrs Smither stood very straight, ‘Well Hilda, first things first some introductions. This is Mrs Garraway the cook, she has charge of our kitchen when Monsieur Glanville is not here. You will answer to Mrs Garraway most days.’
Red faced Mrs Garraway beamed at her, ‘Mornin’, You work hard and do as you’s told and you will not ‘ave any trouble from me.’
Hilda thought she didn’t look the sort to give anyone trouble, Hilda whispered a ‘Morning.’ Back at her.
‘Then this is Lindsay Tiley, our kitchen maid.’
A big raw-boned girl nodded at her, ‘Morning.’
Hilda nodded back at her. ‘And finally, last and least is Kat Lutton our scullery maid.’
A pretty dark-haired girl, maybe just a year or two older than Hilda smiled warmly at her, ‘Good morning Duck!’
Hilda tried to smile back, Mrs Smither went on, ‘We will introduce you to the other staff as you meet them. Now first things first, have you an apron in that case of yours?’
‘Yes Mrs Smither.’
‘Good, you’ll be taking over from Kat as scullery maid. The scullery maid has no uniform, you are expected to wear neat clean clothes, you will be given more and aprons too, but this morning you can wear your own. Now Kat will show you to your room, you can leave your case hat and coat there and put on your apron. Kat will take charge of you over the next few days and show you most of what you need to know. The rest, well I will give you instruction as we go. Kat, show Hilda where to start.’
Kat smiled again, ‘Come on then.’

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Wild Flower Watch VII

I managed to get across to the Queenstown Cemetery to resume my wild-flower watch this week.

I was expecting changes in the flowering species; in the past a week has made a big difference, this time it was a fortnight.

The cemetery seems to often greet me with something new just inside the entrance and this week was no exception.
I am pretty sure this is Trailing Speedwell  (Veronica plebeia)

And from another angle.

This tiny fellow was on one flower, bear in mind that the flowers are about 12mm (1/2 inch) across

What do you think a cricket? A grasshopper?

There was a whole area of these the common name is “Tall Bluebell” (Wahlenbergia stricta) I am glad I got there this week, most of them were already wilting.

And another one.

There were also scattered Sprawling Bluebells (Wahlenbergia gracilis)
Which I have posted before

Common riceflowers

Trigger Plants,

And more

One of the flax lilies

And from another angle

These milkmaids (another lily) were happily holding their faces up to the sun.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Rainforest Fungi

Just a piccie of the day.
Yarra Ranges

Friday, November 2, 2012

Bay of Islands

Piccie of the Day, Bay of Islands Western Victoria

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Bit of Fun!

Well I didn’t really expect anyone to guess my What is it Wednesday for this week.

However a couple of people were kind of in the same ball park.

Jennifer (AKA Old Kitty) thought: “Emu legs!”

No, and they aren’t exactly legs at all, but a kind of extension.

Linda G. Was on the same track and if anything edged just a little closer with: “Some sort of bird legs. If not a real bird, then maybe a bird statue.”

Marcy admitted defeat with: “As always too tricky for me but I do think the yellow is plastic. No idea otherwise.”

I don’t know, I seem to recall you have been on the money in the past. Well the yellow is actually a fabric covering.

Christine was with Marcy: “Fiendish! I agree with mshatch that the yellow looks like plastic, but I haven't a clue what it is.”

I hope I wasn’t too cruel Christine.

Well the answer, Deb, the Girls and I went to a school fair out in the Yarra Valley (before we took Lilli for her play in the Yarra) .

One of the entertainers at the fair was this young woman, who drew admiring looks of curiosity from these children.