If only it were possible to bottle inspiration!

Actually, I suspect bottled inspiration would only be a pale imitation of the wild stuff.

I love that it’s impossible to know when inspiration will strike.

Randomly, yesterday, I had an encounter with inspiration that I’m struggling to contain. I was chatting about books and war and children (as in books about war for children rather than booking children into wars) when a phrase burst from the conversation as if it had been lit with neon. Not that it was intentionally delivered that way, but that’s how it landed.

Oh, sunny day! Trying now to control my curiosity, my exploration until deadlines are met.

What did you do last night?

We went outatown to film a fire. As you do.

Well, as you do if your husband works in theatre. Over the years, our family has contributed to many sound and visual effects. If done well these are often not ‘noticed’ by theatre-goers but are intended to effect their experience nonetheless. 

So while the fire setter/lighter/filmers were doing their thing, I was taking photos.

The weather was surprisingly mild for this time of year/this place and the rain arrived when it was time to douse the fire.

 Then it was time for marshmallows and a fleeting visit to the goats before heading home.

A quick trip to Hobart

Since writing about the Rajah quilt (My Name is Lizzie Flynn, due out early 2015) I have been keen to revisit Hobart, to visit Cascades Female Factory (and I also had some vague story ideas centred around Pt Arthur). This past week I had my chance. My folks were staying in Hobart for a week and had a spare room. We had a lovely few days together.


 It’s a tough place to visit, but not when compared with what it must have been to be a convict there. Although many of the buildings are shells, they still hold a powerful sense of the past and the occupants.

 This was a window in the chapel of the ‘other prison’ (I think that was it) where convicts attended weekly services. They were led in individually, to stand up in a upright-coffin shaped space where they could only look forward, not at any other convicts. Not that they were allowed to talk anyway and all the convicts had to wear sacking masks when outside their cells so they remained anonymous. 23 hours a day they were in their cells, silently working on making brooms, or shoes or other projects. They were identified by numbers never names. The floor had matting and they wore soft foot covering so even their walking was silent.

This gate leads to the prison yard where for an hour a day a prisoner might walk about. The walls are 2 1/2 m high and very thick so they would not have been able to communicate with anyone in the next yard, even if allowed. 

If they misbehaved, they spent time in solitary confinement cell … which was completely dark and silent. This is what it looked like … yup … like nothing. I did close the door, but didn’t stay very long at all.

They did build a fine church, handmade bricks and local stone. 


 The government gardens, were magnificent with an added benefit for visitors to Pt Arthur (it was quite the social place apparently) that it blocked off any view of the prison buildings.

How’s the size of this bee? Enormous!

This is a metallic sculpture inspired by the Rajah quilt. It’s at the Cascades Female Factory. The centre panel includes names of the Rajah convicts, some of whom worked on the quilt.

There are few buildings left of the Cascades Female Factory, but a dramatic enactment gave us some idea of what life was like for the women locked up here.

The markings on the ground here are the dimensions of the cells, where supposedly recalcitrant women spent time. They worked while in these cells, removing tar from rope so it could be reused. This section of the prison was low-lying and often damp or downright wet.

If misbehaviour continued, a woman might wear an iron neck piece 24 hours a day for up to 7 days.

Functional knottery.

 Last day and we visited MONA. I found it fabulous and not a little overwhelming. A lunch break and some time watching these two adolescent peacocks helped to balance the day. Then I headed back in to see some more before heading to the airport and home.

I wasn’t alone in taking time out. And the view was worth it. 
Last night we were lucky enough to have last minute invitations to the Rose of Tralee Ball (thanks Lone, Pat and Jackie), which was held in the sumptious (and I do mean sumptious) ballroom that hides beneath the Regent Theatre. There would have been over 500 people there as aspirants to the ‘Rose of Tralee’ title walked the stage and performed for the assembly.

A cold and wet Melbourne day

I had a lovely time on Tuesday, visiting schools to share Meet the Anzacs. The day was organised by Book Bonding Bookshop and co-owner Mark had organised the visits to two schools, three groups of students from grade two to grade four.

The students had been looking at Anzac Day and its significance and were well-primed to share the session.

I took lots of props, including a slouch hat, boots, puttees, mess kit, bully beef and hard tack biscuits.

At the second school, as well as reading Meet the Anzacs, one of the classes had read Seadog and the teacher had brought in pictures of her own seadog.

It was a lovely day, despite the weather outside. Thanks Natasha, Mark and the teachers at both schools.

… and the sideways photos? I tried and tried and tried then gave up trying to spin them. Not sure why they won’t rotate. Sigh