Can you imagine going off to the beach for a whole day without any adult supervising you? Having such freedom these days only happens when you are a teenager but when I was growing up it was a normal summer occurrence. For the first 6 years of my life I lived at Henley Beach and it was only a 2 or 3 minute walk to The Esplanade. On the foreshore there was a brown, brick kiosk with big steps going down from the road to a lower section then down again to the beach. If we wanted a more exciting day we’d walk up to Henley Square where you could buy Fish and Chips though I think giant Bush Biscuits were what usually sustained us.

One day for some reason lots of little crabs were scuttling across the sand and we had great fun catching them and watching their mouth parts moving and their little legs frantically scrabbling to get free. Great fun until one managed to get hold of my thumb with a claw. OUCH! I shook my hand madly and the crab was dislodged but not its claw. With only one hand to do it there was no way I could get the latched on claw off my tortured thumb. I guess I was running to find a big brother to get it off when a nice lady responded to my tears and removed the claw. I imagine the thumb went straight into my mouth then, according to Dad that was always the best way to make it feel better.


You didn’t know that about Nana did you?



Henley Beach – Not 1950s fashion though.

bush biscuit


Confused and Confusing Plum

We have a Plum Tree in our garden and if we’re very lucky around Christmas time we have a lovely crop to enjoy. Last Christmas we managed to get very few becuase the parrots were relentless and although I had net over the branches the little devils managed to find their way under it and ruined most of the fruit. Plum season is now long gone for us and the tree has lost all it’s leaves but by some strange quirk there are 5 plums on it. Because there are no leaves and the plums are now bright pink/red they stand out like Belisha Beacons but there is not a single bird peck on any of them. Maybe you think it’s because they’re obviously not ripe yet but I can assure you that doesn’t deter the parrots one little bit. In season, they attack the fruit long before any average person could possibly enjoy the taste. I might be wrong but I think that, like me, the birds know it isn’t the season for plums so they just ignore the tree despite the bright coloured fruit.


Why is there any fruit at all on the tree? We did have a prolonged summer but I still wouldn’t have thought the conditions were right for the new blossoms to appear. If anyone knows the reason I’d love to hear it.

I’ve Got a Bone to Pick With You

The first time I remember hearing that phrase was sometime before I was six. I must have been out playing somewhere wet and soaked my shoes but just took them off and didn’t think anymore about them. In the morning when it was time to get ready for school I found my shoes and complained to Mum that they were wet, she decided to put them into the oven to dry them out. I went off and finished dressing then went  to school in sandshoes or maybe even Gumboots. When I arrived home from school Mum met me with an extremely unhappy look on her face and I heard the awful words, “I’ve got a bone to pick with you” then I was shown the shrunken shoes. Hearing those words still fills me with apprehension.


You didn’t know that about Nana did you?

June Blooms

The weather here in Adelaide over the last few days has been cold, damp and depressing even though I know the tanks are filling and the garden is being refreshed. Yesterday  I read  one of the Slow Gardeners posts  which pointed me towards Garden Bloggers Bloom Day  and I was inspired to go out and take a look at my dismal garden. What I found amazed me, amongst all the other blooms I found the first Jonquil, first Snowfalke and first Wattle. The poor Wattle looked very miserable and should have stayed inside its buds until the sun came out again.


If I had been asked how many plants I thought were flowering in my garden at the moment I would have said maybe half a dozen but below are photos of the ones I found. The plum is included because it has formed at completely the wrong time and the Lilly Pilly fruit just because they’re gorgeous.


Smells That Evoke Memories

Today it’s cold, 16 deg inside until I switch on the Air Conditioner and outside it’s pathetic drizzling rain on and off, not the weather you see on promotional  programmes about  Australia. I decided to light a perfumed oil burner, I find them comforting. The oil I put in today is Patchouli and Sandalwood. Patchouli always reminds me of the 1970s, it goes with bead bangles, folk music and freedom. I know some people say Patchouli incense was burnt to mask the smell of marijuana but not for me.

The perfume of Johnson’s Baby Powder is another comforting smell for me, it’s one product which has kept the same scent over many, many years.

The smell of Lavender always seemed so old fashioned when I was a child, the perfume came in fancy  little bottles, I actually felt sorry for Mum when Dad gave it to her as a present. I was sure she felt it was an old person’s fragrance. “Apple Blossom” appealed to me then and when I first went out working “Tweed” was all the go. I remember the first time I smelt Estee Lauder’s, “Youth Dew” I thought it was very sophisticated but then it seemed to be everywhere. David Jones,  Adelaide shop reeked of it and I found it cloying.

Smells other than perfumes evoke memories. Wet feathers remind me of the time we decided to kill a batch of roosters we’d produced. Killing and cleaning them was horrible and the meat was tough so it was something that happened only once but the smell is locked into my memory.

Another, in my memory, is a smell I couldn’t possibly explain but it was associated with my brother’s old school book covers. I think the material would have been expensive, today’s equivalent would be “Contact” or whatever the brand is you know, with various patterns printed on the material. Maybe it was wax printed, I don’t know, but it had a very distinctive smell. Other smells I remember are chook food in hessian bags, the cellar in my grandparent’s house, spent gunpowder after Guy Fawke’s Night and the strong orange smell put out by Citrus Swallowtail caterpillars when they are threatened. It’s quite intriguing when you become aware of a familiar smell from the past and then try to work out its significance.

Time now to top up the Patchouli and Sandalwood, the Air Conditioner is on but it has no smell and no history.

Shame you can't smell it.

Shame you can’t smell it.

A Bread Wrapper Worth Crying Over


Today my cupboards are overflowing with plastic containers of all shapes and sizes, some with cliplock lids, others with steam releasing caps and clingfilm is at the ready in its plastic holder on the wall. There was a time however when that wasn’t the case.

When Papa and I hadn’t been married long we were living in a caravan, money was tight and I really, really struggled being a “housekeeper”. We were both working but unlike now I was trying to be the dutiful wife cooking all the meals and making my husband’s lunch for him to take to work. Papa’s favourite bread was a “Plain Loaf” with a crisp crust on top and it came from Walker’s  Bakery in waxed paper. I saved the waxed paper from the finished loaf to wrap his sandwiches for the next week.

One night when I went to make his sandwiches I couldn’t see the bread wrapper and when I asked him about it he just said, “I threw it out”. I burst into tears. He looked at me astonished unable to comprehend that throwing out a bread wrapper could bring such a response. Overwhelmed, I told him I had nothing to put his sandwiches in.

I can’t remember now exactly what Papa said but it was no big deal to him, he could do without his lunch or something. I’d always been an independent person, and even though I was with someone I wanted to be with, I found the self-imposed pressure of expectations and having my life completely entwined with someone else’s  very hard. The tears were my safety valve.


You didn’t know that about Nana did you?

This is a different brand but Walkers Bread came in a wrapper like this.

This is a different brand but Walkers Bread came in a wrapper like this.

I Was a Lousy Horse Rider

Like many young girls I liked horses and for a time I used to go out on trail rides through the swampland in an area probably just a bit south of where West Lakes now is. On a bit of ground an old man “Mr Gray” used to live in a caravan, not the modern type but more like a gypsy caravan, an old wooden one with steps up to it. In a circle around his caravan were low corrugated iron stables, not at all fancy, I think probably cobbled together from second hand sheets of iron.  There must have been about 10 horses. Nowadays,  if kids were going off to such a place alone everyone would be suspicious of the old man’s motives but as far as I know there was absolutely nothing untoward about it. We paid to go on a trail ride which he lead and I suppose he and his horses were able to live on the meagre proceeds.


Just about every weekend I used to hang around another place with horses, that was near the Breakout at West Beach. Girls agisted horses on the Breakout and on weekends they would gather together at the end of Military Road. I still remember some of the horses. Tiny was 16 hands high, an exrace horse and Rita (named after an actress, Rita Hayworth, a redhead) was a chestnut extrotter and I remember being doubled up on her as her owner tried desperately to get her to break into a canter. There was an old shaggy horse someone owned and you could hire it for the day,  * 10/-, I think.  One day I was lucky enough to be given the money to hire it and I had a lovely day with it. I snuggled up to its old neck and felt wonderful having a horse all to myself.

After my day hiring the shaggy, old horse I went home happy but later that night I scratched and scratched. Mum checked my head and said it was full of bugs, I had to get into the bath and have my head scrubbed then submerge myself under the water. It must have been powerful soap because it dealt a killer blow to the lice or whatever they were! After that I never felt tempted to snuggle up to the old horse again.


You didn’t know that about Nana did you?

If you click on an image below it will change to a Slideshow with captions.

  • 10/- or shillings – became  $1 when Australia changed to decimal currency in 1966 but would be equivalent to about $7 in 2014.