Sunday, November 25, 2018

Tribute to the dead infants of female convicts in Van Diemen's Land.



They never had names. 
The official government term was ‘Departures and Arrivals’ and, No, they were not referring to ships or planes. These were the babies born to convict women at the Van Diemen’s Land female factory. Out of 1200 babies born at the Female Factory in South Hobart. Between 1829 and 1877 approximately 900 babies died with no record being kept of the mother or child. Ninety departed from the Female Factory (prison) in George Town, Tasmania. All buried unceremoniously in unmarked graves.

In the early 2000s artist, Christina Henri put out a request for the women of Tasmania to sew calico bonnets for these little forgotten souls. The result was an overwhelming number of over 2000 Christening bonnets being made and in 2004 the display of 900 bonnets in the shape of a cross was presented at the site of the Hobart Female Factory.

Tiny dancers, wearing bonnets swayed to the sound of Brahms Lullaby while rose petals were scattered over the display. 

Ref and Pics: from permanent display in the Watch House in George Town, Tasmania.

Friday, November 23, 2018

The Bird of Paradise flower



I have inherited a flock of Bird of Paradise plants in my new garden (in Tasmania). They are tall and exotic and don’t make any noise. But when I glance at them from my kitchen window, I see then flaunting their gaudy orange plumes and twisting their necks – beaks open-wide, as if waiting for a feed. They stand proud in their spectacular regal plumage demanding admiration.  

Several meanings are associated with this spectacular flower:
Freedom – Bird of Paradise flower is also a symbol of freedom and overcoming obstacles, reminding us to let go of our worries and embark on a new adventure to some place we have never been before (seems appropriate to me at this time).

Optimism – This flower is a symbol of optimism and positive energy, especially because of its bright and bold colours and interesting shapes.
Also known as a Crane flower, The Bird of Paradise is a native of South Africa but has been adopted as the floral emblem of the City of Los Angeles.
 
(Refs: Teleflora and flower meanings)

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Flowers of Rememberance - the Poppy and the Rock Rose.



While the Flanders Poppy is synonymous with Remembrance Day, there is another flower that is remembered by the soldiers who fought at Gallipoli.

Thousands of miles from Flanders, the inhospitable hillsides of Gallipoli were coloured with the hardy flowering shrub – the Rock Rose (Cistus salviifolius).


After World War 1, seeds from the 'Gallipoli' Rose were brought back to Australia and planted by the soldiers in their gardens.
Rock roses thrive in full sun and flower profusely while growing on poor soils. Because it doesn’t mind salt-laden winds and alkaline soils, it is a great coastal plant.


Hopefully, it will tolerate the wild winds blowing off the waters of Bass Strait. So, in anticipation, I have bought 18 small rock roses (both white and pink) to plant in my new garden, when the time is right.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

BRU doll reproduction - French fashion doll of 1890




I was never a doll lover, however, twelve years ago, I wrote an English historical fiction book that featured a French BRU doll from the 1890s. Having researched the exclusive French Fashion Dolls of that time, I learned a lot about them. Unfortunately, to buy an original BRU today would cost many thousands of dollars. Doll makers, however, go to great lengths to make accurate reproductions.

A few weeks ago, I visited a second hand shop in Tasmania and saw this reproduction BRU for $100 and decided if she was there a month later, I would buy her.
So, yesterday, I came home with my very own repro/antique Bru doll which had been made in Dorset, England.

From the tag attached to her wrist, I understand she is a BRU JNE 8 from a doll by Casimir Bru - French 1980. She has been painstakingly dressed and true to her origins. Her tiny shoes are of suede, and her pierced ears bear tiny pearl drop earrings.

By and by, my book, titled by my British publisher was “The Twisting Vine”, however, that was not the title I had submitted when I wrote it, so when I received the rights to my book back and self-published, I re-named it “Through Glass Eyes”.

In a nutshell, it’s a saga spanning 25 years during which time the doll’s fortunes twist and turn dramatically with its change of ownership.
Through Glass Eyes is available for $1.00 on Amazon Kindle.

Friday, July 20, 2018

"The Barefoot Surgeon" - a truly inspirational story


I try to write a review of all the books I read, and of late I have been devouring books like they are going out of fashion. 
While my book choice was once primarily British Nautical and Historical fiction, I recently changed tack and veered into modern day murder and intrigue stories often set in the USA.
But this week, I read a biography - one of the few of this genre I have ever entertained. This followed watching an interview on TV of Ophthalmic surgeon Dr Sanduk Ruit. His story, titled "The Barefoot Surgeon" begins with a boy living in a remote Nepalese village high in the Himalayas. From the onset, I was intrigued. 
Superbly written by Ali Gripper and published only a few days ago, the challenges which beset this remarkable man are hard to believe. What he achieved over 30+ years is even more astounding.
I have just written my review and posted it on Amazon. 
Here is a transcript:

A truly inspiring and moving story which continues to this very day. From the inhospitable and hazardous mountains of the Himalayas, Ruit's story is a journey-story in more ways than one that takes him from the dangerous yak tracks in the shadow of Everest, to the palaces and seats of learning of the world. It is a journey through life, beset by adversity and challenges yet filled with dedication and love, a journey to fulfil one man's dream to bring sight to the million of people around the world who cannot see.
Operating in makeshift theatres with plastic sheets for walls, using equipment and intraocular lens donated by other surgeons and institutions, fighting adversities along with criticism and condemnations from the establishment, Ruit performed 70 operations every day, built a hospital and numerous treatment centres across Nepal and trained dozens of young surgeons in delicate eye surgery.
Today Ruit is recognized as one of the top ophthalmic surgeons in the world.
The story of this brilliant man is told here so eloquently by author, Ali Gripper.
I found this book hard to put down.
Highly, highly recommended.  

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

VIETNAM VETERAN: lifeboat from the “Jeparit”.




Pic: Boat - Low Head pilot station museum.
This type of aluminium lifeboat was developed during the Vietnam War when the Australian Navy was experimenting with various materials. It did not perform well in the water and today there are very few still in existence due to the corrosion it suffered.

Pic: Ship – “Jeparit” – Royal Australian Navy website.
 Between 1967 and 1972, sailing under both merchant and naval ensigns, “Jeparit” made 43 voyages in support of Australian operations in Vietnam, steaming over 410,000 miles during that time and carrying some 175,000 deadweight tons of cargo including such varied items as canteen stores, ammunition and stores for civil aid.