Do you get annoyed when you have to change your mind?

Do you get annoyed with yourself when you find you have to change your mind?

Especially when you have been comfortable holding fast to your breast, well-nurtured and self-justified  prejudices?  I do.

During more tender years I thought that at least one advantage of getting old would be to be able to get away with having views and opinions that may no longer be de rigeur without  having to justify them, and where any difficulties surrounding a position I held could simply be put down to being old and cranky by those still glorifying in those varicose vein free, tender years: I could enjoy being fixed in my ways with a clear conscience! I wanted to be able to cheerfully prod nay-sayers with my walking stick.



In this age, what has happened to old ladies with warts and walking sticks who, with equanimity, could poke their way through and demand some young snot arise and free a seat for her on the bus? Young snots now have equal rights and no manners. I have observed old ladies with warts do not necessarily get seats on buses anymore.

Here I am, off on a tangent about warts, avoiding the confessional ‘I had to change my mind’ bit.

Never having hidden my pink politics it would be no surprise to anyone to discover that for many years I held a particular view about Christopher Pyne (I expect you all know he was a former Liberal Party Cabinet Minister). Last weekend he wrote a piece in The Advertiser about China and China’s current bullying activities in relation to Australia. I found I had to agree with him. It hurt! However, if China made us economically, will she also be able to break us I wondered?



In many ways I have long been an admirer of China. China is an extraordinary country with an extraordinary people who have achieved amazing things over millennia. The world of today owes much to her. However, for what we, the West, have received from China there has also been an advantageous exchange to China herself. China has received much in return from Western cultures and economies.

Australia does not hold a debt to China and does not deserve to be called to account by threats from a larger, more wealthy, more powerful country. I find myself anxious about the bully boys currently flexing their egos about the world: Xi Jinping, Donald Trump, Boris Johnson, Kim Jong-Un, Vladimir Putin (in no particular order).


The bully should never win but history teaches us they often do.


And so, Christopher Pyne’s article is better informed and certainly explored more fully than this piece. I agree with almost everything he said. Good on you Christopher. No-one likes bullies in the playground. If the Chinese students stop coming to Australia I will miss their smiley faces around the market when I shop.

Let’s not follow the lead of today’s leaders. Let’s all be good to one another…and I promise not to prod you with my walking stick!



See Eric Hudson this week advise on how to eradicate that very annoying corrugations that watercolourists constantly find themselves faced with…..the perfect painting achieved and when it dries it turns to a roof covering! Thankyou Eric .


Video of the Week

Eric Hudson


Play the Video or watch it on YouTube


The Book Worm

A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne


The Book Worm: I heard Irish writer John Boyne speak at Writer’s Week during that long ago time last February when people rubbed elbows and inoffensively bumped into each other when ordering a glass of wine in the tent. He was an entertaining speaker and so I bought his book, A Ladder to the Sky and then promptly forgot I had it.

So? It’s rare to read a novel where the principal protagonist is such a creep. An unremitting creep. (In my head I’m using quite different adjectives. I am being polite.) It’s a very well written, very clever book which I am pretty sure you will remember once you have read it. It’s about literary theft. I admired the writing but boy, I really did not like Maurice Swift.

If you have read a book you think people would appreciate, please send us a short review. You can be anonymous if you like.



This week Andrew Barr has sent in some of his poetry to share with you. I commend it to you:

My Wilderness Experiences

Saturday May 4th, 1966

In 1966 I was a university student working for a mining exploration company in the Canadian Rocky Mountains.  I quite often went into the forest alone. On such a trip the noise of civilization diminishes. The world is primordial.  A solo trip brings to me a time for reflection and the chance to see nature. When you are alone you manage all your decisions for survival. There is no one to mitigate risk but yourself. Our ancestors knew this. The reason I wander in these environments is to make my mind and instincts coordinate. My education about the Canadian forest started incredibly early in my life as our father took the family camping during holidays. He taught us basic survival skills.  I started to read more about my land. The best knowledge I needed was from direct physical experience.  There is a tension that arises from never knowing what is going to happen next.


Every day our crew were flown by helicopter to a mountain site to do geo-chem sampling. Today I had to go alone because my partner was sick.  I was not worried as I was very competent in the Canadian wilderness.   I was a Queen scout with Bushman thong in my earlier days. I had spent many nights alone. The weather was clear, but mountain weather could be changeable. I was young, fit and very competent with my bush craft.

I knew what plants that I could eat. I knew how the catch trout from the streams or the beaver dams. I could even catch grouse with a string noose. This was my country and I was at one with this place. I worked for a few hours that after noon collecting rock and stream samples and I then noticed clouds were starting to drift up the valley. I checked my survival backpack; I will be all right. I finished my work at the site and sat down in a clearing with my smoke flare. The light was failing as the clouds got thicker. It was almost dark when I realised that the helicopter was not coming.

I moved back into the forest to select a good site and lit a small fire as it is getting cooler. Well!  It was tinned sardines for dinner from my survival pack. Not even any trout. I gathered some more firewood as I heard animal noises off in the distance. The helicopter did not return this afternoon


Sitting with a large pine tree at my back

Staring into a small fire.

tinned sardines for dinner from my survival pack.

I hear animal noises off in the distance.

Cutting fresh green boughs to make a bedding nest

The noises are closer now.

Stoking up the fire, gathering more logs, and a sturdy branch for a club.

I wish I had coffee

it is going to be a long night.

It is very dark as there is no moon

Sitting close to the fire with my club

It is a coyote.

I start to doze off as I had been hiking a lot lately.

I eat chocolate for a sugar boost

as my eyes are heavy.

I finally fell asleep on the boughs,

The helicopter came at dawn.

Saturday October 12th, 2017

In 2017 I was volunteering with the Scientific Exploration Group in outback of South Australia.  The science group was doing a biological survey for the museum. This evening our team is visiting the trap lines for the pickup when a volunteer steps in a hole and twists her ankle.  They want to take her back to camp. I volunteer to finish the work and wait for the other truck which is up the track. I have been a volunteer for the past seven years on the SEG expeditions to very remote places.

The country side is desert, dry and desolate to my eyes.  I would not survive out here for very long without water.  A few plants have berries but are they poisonous. I feel like a lost child in this environment.



This place seems so desolate.

I am sitting on a red sand dune by a bush track.

I am waiting for the truck to take me back to camp.

My water is almost gone.

I flash back to that other time in the mountains.

This place is so different, this is not my place.

I do not even have a survival pack and I am hungry.

I see an animal shape slowing moving through the trees.

It is a large emu slowly strolling towards me.

I have only seen them on TV or in a zoo.

What are they like in the wild?

Was I in its territory It looks big?

There is nowhere to hide on this open track.

The emu comes towards me, it stopped and looked at me,

I sit still and do not move.

It starts nibbling at a bush as I slowly reach for my camera.

There is a small noise in the distance.

The emu looks up as I snap a picture

It melts back in the bush

The truck came and screeched to a halt.

“What are you doing here by yourself? “

“I am waiting for you!

“Take me back to camp, I am thirsty and hungry!”

This is not my country to be alone.


Photo Credits

Chinese scene under the tree -Photo by ZHENGFAN YANG on Unsplash

Chinese roof detail-Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Grumpy Dog -Photo by meredith hunter on Unsplash

Lady with a cane – Photo by Alex Blăjan on Unsplash

For Andrew Barr’s text:

Canadian Forest- Photo by Jose Vega from Pexels

Australian Bush- Photo by Chris Galbraith on Unsplash