Monday, May 23, 2011

Maggie Beer - champagne taste!

May Gibbs Fellowship
Sunday 22nd May

Bernadette Kelly came by for a visit to the Burrow on the weekend and after an intensive writing day we took time out to visit the gorgeous Barossa Valley. Unfortunately, BK suffered a bout of car sickness through the windy roads (nothing to do with my driving, she assured me) but luckily recovered at the sight of the Maggie Beer Farm sign.

We walked in to see Maggie behind the counter, and the magic continued from there. Lunch was delectable and the pantry gave us too many choices to take home, but the cooking class was the highlight as we learned what to do with verjuice. I had to take the class at one stage (okay, yes that is a staged photo), and we left to the screech of the peacock at the front door.

Top pic: Creme Caramel. Did we want dessert? Ummm, what do you think?
Middle pic: On the set of The Cook and The Chef, one of my favourite shows ever.
Bottom pic: BK just before she bought all the verjuice and oiive oil bagged up behind her.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Taj and the Great Camel Trek Book Launch

May Gibbs Fellowship Thursday 19th May

Last night I attended the launch of Rosanne Hawke's latest book Taj and the Great Camel Trek. This book took Rosanne four years to write, as it changed focus over that time to become the story that it is today. Aimed at ages 9+ readers, the story tells the story of explorer Ernest Giles on his second attempt to cross the Australian desert where 'wild dogs, scorpions, poisonous snakes and a constant shortage of water mean they are never far from disaster'. The narrator of the story is Taj, a 12 year old cameleer. The book was launched by Janeen Brian, whose own story, Hoosh, was a CBCA Honour Book, Eve Pownell section.

Top Pic: Taj was launched at Tabor College - an amazing looking college in South Plympton
Middle Pic: Janeen Brian launched the book in great style
Bottom Pic: Rosanne Hawke, author of Taj and the Great Camel Trek

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

SCBWI Adelaide Style

May Gibbs Fellowship May 2011
Wednesday 18th

Top Two Pics: Last night I attended a meeting of the Adelaide SCBWI group. The session was chaired by Barbara James and our guest speaker was Val Van Patten who has been involved with the CBCA for the past 20 years. Val presented a talk on how the books submitted to the CBCA are judged each year. It was a fascinating insight into what goes on in the judging of these prestigious awards, and if there is one thing I came away with is that publishers should be urged not to save up their books and send them en masse in the last two months of judging. Was nice to catch up with Katrina Germain, My Dad Thinks He's Funny author and meet Nikki Wakefield of All I Ever Wanted.

Third Pic: Had a lovely lunch at Mary Martin's Bookshop in Norwood today with kid's lit guru, Fran Knight, and May Gibbs contact (among many other things) Alle Goldsworthy and talked all things books. Hey, what is that product placement in the background... Burke and Wills? Nice one Fran.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Magic Long Weekend in Melbourne

I spent a magic long weekend in Melbourne which was noticeably colder than the town I left behind. Saturday night was Dr Zhivago - a birthday present from friend Bernie and an incredible tour de force from the cast, including the amazing Anthony Warlow.
Sunday was A Year of Writing for Children at the Wheeler Centre for the Victorian Writers Centre. We welcomed Ashley, the only male in a class of females, a moot point as in the end it was a class of writers and a lot was achieved - albeit to the sometimes rebel sounds of the gathering on the State Library steps.
At some point over the weekend I wanted to turn our homegrown tomatoes into chutney, so whipped something up on Monday morning before the plane back, but it was more like a sauce than a chutney.
Melbourne is magic in Autumn and the splash of colour from autumnal leaves reminded me of the cards painting the white roses red in the Queen's garden in Alice in Wonderland. I also spied a couple of mushrooms fit for a fluttering of fairies.
Back to May Gibbs for more writing today feeling refreshed and invigorated.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Ow hanow yv Karen

May Gibbs Fellowship
May 2011

Today I found myself in a time warp as I visited the Cornish Festival, Kernewek Lowender, at Moonta, on the Copper Coast in South Australia. I took a two hour crash course in the Cornish language (ie My name is Karen) with the wonderful Lilian James, attended the Moonta Dressing of the Graves and listened to some costumed kids sing some olde worlde music. Shop assistants in the town were dressed in garb from the 1800s and there was even a front yard showing off a line of washing.

This festival lasts a whole week, and there was the feeling that things were only just revving up.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Little Red Book

May Gibbs Fellowship May 2011
Day 10

This is my little red book. It's a Filofax and it was superseded when I got my iPhone two years ago. Not sure what made me dust it off and bring it along for the ride to Adelaide, but I've started using it again. I've ditched the idea of nicely divided up spaces for days and dates and just using blank pages in the order in the respective months.

There's something to be said for old technology. (Is a book old technology?)

My iPhone died last night. In the middle of a call it ran out of battery life. I plugged it in for a recharge and came back to a white screen. Spent the next hour trying to get it to work. Talk about bad timing. Still, was very happy I'd set up my appointments and contacts in my Little Red Book.

Luckily a lovely man in the Apple Store in Norwood got it working for me again, though he couldn't guarantee it would last. Am thinking of investing in some carrier pigeons...

Sunday, May 8, 2011

To the Starman Waiting in the Sky

May Gibbs Fellowship
1st Weekend

Dear Alien from a distant planet.

Saturday's fun began at 8.30am.
I watched a lot of twiggy-legged boys running about and trying their hardest to grab a piece of leather and kick it between two of the tallest sticks in a group of four sticks at the top end of an oval. When this happened there was a lot of cheering. When it didn't come off there were many groans and excitement from those who didn't want the ball to go in between the two tallest sticks at that end. They wanted it go in at the other end of the ground. When the ball went between any sticks, a crazy guy grabbed a flag, or two, and waved them around. I think he was trying to show them where the ball was supposed to go.

A group of adults hung around the edges of the oval. You could tell that they wanted to join in, but they must have been too scared to get dirty. This didn't stop them from yelling instructions to the boys on the ground, which was most helpful. There was also a man in a colourful shirt who ran around after them, which was a caring thing for him to do. Every now and then he'd blow a whistle he had hanging around his neck and the running would stop and everyone would listen to what he had to say. A bit of a show off, really. Sometimes he would take the ball and throw it up in the air. I guess he got sick of not having the ball and he was the biggest on the ground so he could do this. After this went on for a while, a loud noise sounded and the boys stopped running after the leather. Then one group of boys, all dressed in the same colours, got together in a huddle and had a talk. The others did the same. Then the noise sounded and it was on again. This happened three times and then, on the fourth horn, they all gave up and left the ground. I guess they figured they'd rather be doing something else.

Here on Earth, we call this AFL football.
I know it sounds silly, but it can be quite fun.

My nephew's team won by 1 point.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Dulwich and the Cave of No Return

May Gibbs Fellowship May 2011
Day 6

It was the sign that stopped me.
A promise of hidden treasures.
There were two entrances, but one was blocked.
I stood undecided.
There were chores to run.
This was not my quest for today.
But something was drawing me inside.
And even as I decided to move on,
my feet stepped into the cave
and my senses were overloaded
with the tumbling cacophony before me.

Inside the cave the light was low.
From ceiling to floor
from corner to corner
the past brought together in a jumble of nonsensical priorities.
The air was foetid, my breath shallowed
as I moved forward.
Then a voice rose out of the chaos
As the door slammed shut.
Behind me.

Pic: One of the beautiful streets in Dulwich, Adelaide.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


May Gibbs Fellowship
Day 5

Had to leave The Burrow today to go to the Post Office. Along the way I saw this awesome display of cupcakes and heard a mother say 'Come away from those cupcakes' to her toddler, as if they were poison.

The other thing I noticed was that living in a different city in the same country is like living in a parallel universe. The TV Channels are the same but the local news is presented by newsreaders who kind of look the same but kind of don't. Their jokes seem a little fake, because they aren't the real newsreaders that I'm used to. The radio announcers suffer from the same wrongness. The local weather also just a little off. Australia is skewed to highight the state I'm in and suddenly Melbourne's dot looks wrong on the map. The ads highlight roads or suburbs that aren't familiar.

It's kind of like that episode of the Simpsons where the parallel world Bart and Lisa save the day. Unsettling.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Here comes the sun

May Gibbs Fellowship
Day 4

Today I chased the sun into the bedroom. I moved the bed and set up a card table (does The Burrow have EVERYTHING?) under the window. Guess I'm used to a sunny study at home and hate to have the light on before I really need to.

I also have a new man in my life. It is the automatic time announcer on my laptop. I call him Mat. Every hour he announces the time. Sometimes I thank him. Sometimes I ignore him. Still, it's nice to have someone around to ignore. And it does help me keep track of time.

Oh, and I need an explanation of poking on Facebook. Is it friendly or aggressive? And how long should the poking go on for?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Settling in at the Burrow

May Gibbs Fellowship
Day 3

You know you're feeling comfortable with a place when you organise a major haircut. Or is that just me? So had a Surreal experience then off to Officeworks. Today I worked out that it was going to be cheaper (and much easier) for me to buy a printer than to go down to the local library to print out. A printer for $49 - it's also a scanner. That's ridiculous. Of course, its the peripherals that make it worth their while - the extra ink was $36 for an extra large tank of black. Still. Spent the rest of the afternoon printing out and sorting.

Pic One: Time for a major chop.

Pic Two: Tonight I had a lovely dinner with Mary and Ian Wilson (from the May Gibbs Support Group) in their home which is a story in itself. Part of it is listed with the Heritage Trust. They should also be listed as National Treasures. Could have spent many more hours just chatting but they wisely took me home at a reasonable hour. Which means I could blog on time!

Pic Three: Congratulations to Caity for getting her driver's license today. Not that I ever doubted she would get through. (Is that Marley on the couch now?)

Monday, May 2, 2011

And so, to begin

Day Two
May Gibbs Fellowship

Today I wrote a list of things to do and spent the day ticking them off. Internet and emails are up and running. Already chatted to several of the May Gibbs people. Ventured out with my Tom Tom.

Pic One: First stop was the Burnside Library. What a gorgeous place. I just happened upon the Children's Librarian, Caroline, who was incredibly helpful, though I think I dobbed myself in for an event. I now have my library card. All set. Did a bit of printing out. Also dropped into a gym with a promise that they would see me 3 to 4 times a week. Pretty sure they didn't believe me, but at least they pretended to.

Pic Two: Things have already taken a downward turn at home. Chairs are for people, not for dogs. Please remember that, team.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Come first of May

Day One
May Gibbs Fellowship
First pic - an 'are we there yet?' moment, I finally reach Border Town, so take a photo to prove it. I was met by the lovely Sally Chance (fantastic name) at the end of the freeway. Sally took me to the Burrow, helped me unload my things, and left me with dinner and breakfast and a chance to settle in. I quickly set up shop with Masterchef as a backdrop and a call to home to see if they are missing me incredibly. They didn't say so but, hey, I can read between the lines.

Second pic - I've set up a pinboard with my Leunig calendar and May Gibbs card from Bernie, Andrew and Ella. May's calendar message is 'Have Your Say - Make a Comment'. Rather apt I thought. That's exactly what I'm here to do.

Have read through the Fellows Journal and Folio and feeling I have some big shoes to fill.