Books for Winter: Knitting Part One

Now that it’s Winter, it’s an ideal time to get out those needles and wool, cosy up in front of the fire and start knitting! While I am definitely no expert in the art form, hence I suspect my large number of books on the subject, I have still managed to make quite a few scarves and hats over the years, which I will feature throughout this post, including the odd challenging and stimulating technique! I actually did do a brief course in knitting at TAFE years ago, some of whose samples are also featured in this post!

Here are some of the knitting books in my craft library, which I have found particularly useful! Because this post is quite long, I have divided it into two posts: General Knitting Books (Beginners and Advanced) this week and Designers and Patterns (including toys) next week.BlogKnittingBooks2518-04-17 11.47.42General Knitting Books

Beginner Knitters

How To Knit: The Definitive Knitting Course Complete With Step-By-Step Techniques, Stitch Libraries and Projects For Your Home and Family by Debbie Bliss 1999

An excellent book for the beginner, the Introduction covers yarns and equipment and instructions for working from a pattern and knitting a tension swatch, to holding the yarn and needles, making a slip knot, casting on and off, increasing and decreasing, the basic stitches and the first of a number of simple projects throughout the book to familiarise the reader with the techniques.32476691_10156215149529933_7249506115308748800_nChapter Two covers single and double rib, picking up stitches, making a stitch and cast-off buttonhole, as well as a simple stitch pattern library.BlogKnittingBooks2518-04-17 11.34.37While Aran knitting, with its intricate cables, twists and bobbles creating amazing textures, is the subject of Chapter Three, personally I was more drawn to the colour workshop in Chapter Four with its emphasis on Fair Isle and Intarsia techniques. Joining in yarn, securing ends, weaving and stranding, working from a chart and working in the round with circular needles or a set of four needles is also covered.BlogKnittingBooks2518-05-13 13.38.47Chapter Five focuses on lace knitting, with instructions on yarn overs, additional decreases and making lace edging, as well as a lace stitch library of pretty lace patterns. While I will probably never do the complicated -looking entrelac knitting, it is still good to know that I can learn how-to in Chapter Six! I am more likely to use Chapter Seven, which discusses all the decorative details like embroidery, Swiss darning, loop knitting and fringing, the use of sequins and beads, making pompoms and cords, and finishing a garment with a decorative hem.

For more experienced knitters, there is a Design Workshop in Chapter Eight, which discusses design  principles and how to design a simple sweater, making sweater calculations, patterns and motifs, edgings and designing for children.

The final chapter appropriately focuses on finishing the garment: Making up and joining pieces, seams, picking up dropped stitches, unravelling, finishing fabrics by blocking and pressing and caring for knitwear.

Standard knitting abbreviations and yarn weights are included in the appendix, along with a list of stockists.BlogKnittingBooks2518-04-17 10.58.27

The Encyclopedia of Knitting: Step-By-Step Techniques, Stitches and Inspirational Designs by Lesley Stanfield and Melody Griffiths 2000

Another excellent book covering the basics, it is divided into three parts:

The Essentials: Materials, basic skills, and essential and additional know-how, including four different cast-on methods, knit and purl, garter and stockinette stitches, seven cast-off methods, picking up dropped stitches, shaping a garment with increases and decreases, picking up stitches, reading patterns and charts, understanding gauge, making up, hems and facings, fastenings, grafting, turning rows and bias and chevron knitting.

The Stitch Collection advances from basic knit and purl and ribs through cables, twists, bobbles and leaves and lace to stranded colour knitting, intarsia and special effects like cross-stitch and embroidery, incorporating beads and sequins, loops, slipstitch colour knitting, motif entrelac, tucks and pleats and circular knitting. The chunky cowl below was knitted in seed stitch on circular needles to a free pattern called Marian by Jane Richmond. See: http://www.janerichmond.com/products/marian-cowl.

BlogKnittingBooks20%DSCN1507BlogKnittingBooks2518-04-17 11.37.49Design and Inspiration covers the fundamentals of the design process: Measuring and number crunching, planning repeats, motifs and patterns, combining colour and cables, circular yokes and designing a cardigan, as well as a gallery of vintage patterns from the 1920s to the 1960s, multicultural influences, contemporary designers, colour and texture and knitting for kids and for fun.

In the back is a key to chart symbols, needle sizes and abbreviations and a glossary and index.BlogKnittingBooks3018-04-17 10.58.18Knitting: Over 20 Exciting Projects For you To Make For Home and Family  Published by  Treasure Press 1986

This simple old book was my introduction to knitting back in my early married days and I am including it, because it was the source of my very first completed project and introduced me to the art of Fair Isle Knitting.

There is a brief history of knitting at the start, followed by information on different types of yarns and needles, needle sizes, basic skills and shaping, advanced techniques like cables, bobbles, buttonholes and colour work, reading patterns, tension and abbreviations and stitch symbols.

Stitch patterns include ribs, Aran patterns, colourwork, lace, slipstitch colourwork and lacy edgings.

There is also a small section on finishing off, laundry symbols, aftercare, design and decorative finishes.BlogKnittingBooks2518-04-17 11.01.37

The rest of the book is devoted to patterns for a variety of sweaters and dresses, baby layouts, cushion covers and bedspreads and a beautiful Fair Isle trio of socks, gloves and hat, the latter which I knitted for my two girls- the book’s bright version for Caro in the photo below and a softer version in pastel blue, pink and green mohair for Jen.BlogKnittingBooks2518-04-17 11.27.30

And lastly, for the kids…!

Fun With Wool Published by the Australian Wool Corporation 1981

An oldie, but a goodie, from which my children learnt to knit. It starts with Finger Knitting and  French Knitting with a homemade nancy, though we used the old wooden cotton reels with four nails in the top, as well as plying, plaiting and twisting cords and making wool collages.BlogKnittingBooks3018-04-18 07.42.53Basic Knitting is next with easy  illustrated instructions for casting on and off, knit and purl stitches, stocking stitch and rib, increasing and decreasing, joining seams; reading a pattern, tension, pompoms and tassels and embroidery stitches.

There are many suggestions for knitted projects from jewellery, finger puppets and toys to pencil cases,tennis racquet covers, patchwork throws, scarves, hats and mittens, and simple jumpers made out of squares and rectangles.BlogKnittingBooks2518-04-17 11.22.43

There are also chapters on basic crochet; simple weaving using cardboard looms or picture frames, forked branches and even cross of two sticks to make a God’s Eye; and basic spinning using a pencil or spindle. Here are two photos of my children knitting scarves- 14 year old Caroline knitting a bright colourful scarf for the Armidale Winter (above) and our 20 year old university student Jenny, who made us all long red scarves in the even colder Canberra Winter.BlogKnittingBooks2518-04-17 11.44.46 She also commemorated her knitting forays in this cute illustration and even her own song- ‘The Long Red Scarf’!BlogKnittingBooks2518-04-17 11.44.52More Advanced Knitters

The Handknitter’s Design Book: A Practical Guide To Creating Beautiful Knitwear by Alison Ellen 1992

While probably a bit advanced for me, this book is perfect for knitters, who want to create their own designs! It starts by examining the precedents of knitting- its history and traditional techniques; different kinds of yarn: wool, alpaca/angora and cashmere, cotton and linen, silk, synthetics and more unusual material like string and ribbon, rags and waste packaging; the properties of stretch and drape; choosing needles, tension and basic knitting techniques with all the possible variations including casting on and off; picking up stitches and colour knitting. The swatches below feature in order: Simple Cable Ribs (Cable to the left; Cable to the right); Horseshoe Cable; and Plaited Cable.

Texture, colour and patterns (horizontal/vertical and diagonal stripes; grids and checks; dots and repeat motifs; geometric; motifs; pictorial/floral and abstract/ random) are examined in great detail in Chapters Four to Six, while Chapter Seven focuses on shapes and details: block patterns; calculations and measurements; adjustments for different body shapes; shape variations-chevrons; waisted shapes, peplums and frills; skirts; sleeves and cuffs; armholes; necks; collars; openings; buttonholes and loops; pockets; and joins and seams. Below is a photo of a beautiful Broken Cable Pullover, which I bought thirty years ago and which still attracts admiring comments every Winter!BlogKnittingBooks20%DSCN1491The Stitch Library is an excellent reference guide to over 50 different types of knitting stitches and is followed by a few projects, which can be used as a starting point for your own individual designs, with basic patterns for triangular and diagonal shawls; simple jumpers, cardigans and hats; and cushions.BlogKnittingBooks2518-04-17 10.58.35

Alice Starmore’s Book of Fair Isle Knitting by Alice Starmore 1988

While designing my own garment from scratch is probably beyond my capabilities, I do love colour and am much more prepared to take up the challenge of Fair Isle knitting, with which I have had a lifelong love affair! In fact, we even spent a weekend staying at a bird observatory lodge on the Fair Isle, when we visited the United Kingdom in 1994. While we were there, I bought a beautiful warm polo neck jumper from some local knitters, featured in the photo below.BlogKnittingBooks20%DSCN1498BlogKnittingBooks20%DSCN1497Alice Starmore is a foremost authority on Fair Isle knitting and I own two of her books, one of which I have already featured in my post on Design Books. See: https://candeloblooms.com/2018/01/23/craft-books-colour-design-and-inspiration-part-one/.

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While Charts for Colour Knitting has a distinctly multicultural feel with traditional and adapted patterns from all over the world, her Book of Fair Isle Knitting is specific to this beautiful little isolated island, with the first chapter giving a brief overview of the island’s history, as well as the origins and development of its unique style of stranded knitting.BlogKnittingBooks2518-04-19 08.28.33

In Chapter Two, she discusses Pattern: the different types; reading pattern charts and creating patterns with a pattern library for Peerie, Border, Large, Allover, Norwegian Stars and Seeding patterns. Chapter Three focuses on Colour: its effect on and use in design with a gallery of different colour combinations for inspiration, while Chapter Four really gets down to the nitty-gritty with an emphasis on Technique: Circular knitting; Tension/ gauge; Casting-on; English and Continental knitting methods; Weaving in strands and corrugated ribbing; Increases and decreases; Steeks (the Scottish word for bridging openings like cardigan fronts or armholes when circular knitting); Joining knitting; Trimmings (buttonholes, pompoms, fringes and cords) and the care of Shetland wool garments.BlogKnittingBooks2518-04-19 08.29.24

The Wardrobe of Patterns contains patterns for ganseys, sweaters, cardigans, jackets, vests and accessories (tammy, gloves and mittens), so the readers can gain confidence before embarking on the final section titled: Creating Your Own Designs, definitely a section for the more advanced knitter than myself!!!

It discusses measurements, drawing a plan, gauge, calculating stitches and rows, fitting patterns into widths/ lengths, centreing patterns, and  progressing from design to working instructions.

There are notes on designing tammies and caps; a gansey with a gusset (love the phrase!); gansey variations; cardigans; and variations in the shape and style of necklines, sleeves and lengths.

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An excellent reference guide for anyone interested in developing their knowledge and skill in Fair Isle Knitting!

Next week, we will feature books on knitting designers and their patterns.

Drawing and Art Library: Part Two: Art Books For Children

Betty Edwards has a large section in her book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, about the creative ability of children and their development as artists as they mature. Apparently, most adults in the Western World do not progress in art skills beyond their level of development at the ages of nine or ten years old and are self-conscious and embarrassed  about their artistic abilities. At this particular age, children suddenly become very self-critical and embarrassed about their attempts to produce less than perfectly realistic depictions, often internalising the derogatory opinions of significant others and then, sadly and abruptly, abandoning their art.

She discusses the different stages of artistic development from :

Scribbling (1.5 to 4 years old) and its different stages. Symbolic and simple, it increases in complexity at 3.5 years old, reflecting the child’s growing awareness and perceptions of the world around him/her. Details of clothing are incorporated at 4 years old and between 4 and 5 years old, pictures are used to tell stories, portray feelings and work out problems.

Between 5 and 6 years old, the child has developed a set of symbols to create a landscape, usually including the ground and sky; a house or home with relevant details (door with doorknob, windows and curtains, and  a roof with chimney); a path and fence; trees and flowers, birds and insects, and maybe people or family members; mountains, clouds and a sun and/or rainbow and rain.

By 9 or 10 years old, that dreaded definitive age (!), children aim for increasing detail and realism in their art. Concern for composition diminishes and drawings are differentiated by gender, due to cultural factors. Boys begin to draw cars, weapons, fighting scenes and legendary heroes like pirates and Vikings, while girls depict flowers in vases, waterfalls, mountains reflected in still lakes, pretty girls and fashion models. Cartoons become more popular, as they enable early adolescents to avoid the feeling that their drawing is ‘babyish’!

By age 10 or 11 years, their passion for realism is in full bloom and when their drawings are less than perfectly realistic, children become discouraged and it is at this point that continued art education is so important to help them understand the artistic process and give them tools and techniques to achieve their goals.

Unfortunately, during my secondary school education, our subjects were streamed in lines and  because I followed academic subjects like languages, sciences and advanced mathematics, I did not return to art study until matriculation. In those days, most people were able to matriculate in one year with four subjects, but because physics and chemistry were studied over two years, and I had already gained results in Biology and Maths, I was able to fill the extra two lesson slots with English Literature and Art. However, because of the lack of tuition in the intervening years and my lack of self-confidence in the artistic sphere, especially compared to the amazing efforts of my fellow art students, I majored in Art History, with Batik as my medium for the practical component!

Little wonder then that I placed such a high value on developing creativity in my own children, who studied art all the way through and past the danger period, becoming very competent adult artists. In fact, my daughter Caroline has just finished illustrating her first book, a self-help publication, written by her sister’s friend, a personal life coach, Hayat Berkaoui. See: http://www.hayatcoaching.com/   and https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=hayat%20ber. This will be the front cover. Look out for it!BlogArtBooks70%IMG_8320Here are some of the books I used to maintain, nurture and develop my children’s artistic talent.

You Can Draw Anything by Kim Gamble 1994

We were lucky enough to attend a talk given by the creator of Tashi at my children’s primary school in Armidale. For information about Kim, see: http://tashibooks.com/Kimgamble.html about Kim, for information about the Tashi books, see: http://tashibooks.com/books.html and for Kim’s illustration process, it is especially worth watching: http://tashibooks.com/illustrating.html. Another excellent video clip can be found on http://tashibooks.com/Creators.html, as well as on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kVxuefbKqoI.

I was so sad to discover during my research for this post that Kim had died in February 2016 at the far too early age of 63 years old! See his tribute by Anna Fienberg, his co-creator of the Tashi books at: http://readingtime.com.au/vale-kim-gamble-13-july-1952-19-february-2016/.

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I loved this book with its quirky illustrations, humorous text and imaginative suggestions, using basic shapes (circles, rectangles, squares, ovals and triangles) as starting points, which make the whole drawing process look so easy.  Along the way, he covers: Using a Grid; Drawing Faces and Human Figures, including Action Men; Drawing Animals; Perspective; and Shading and Cross-Hatching.

He includes illustrated instructions for drawing favourite childhood subject matter like cars, planes and trains; fairies and flying witches; castles; forests and flowers; and dragons, dinosaurs and whales!

Drawing should be FUN and the next book by Quentin Blake and John Cassidy is another wonderful addition to your children’s art library!

Drawing for the Artistically Undiscovered by Quentin Blake and John Cassidy 1999

Quentin Blake is very well-known for his illustrations for many of Roald Dahl’s books, favourites among children, so the illustrations in this delightful sketching guide are very familiar and appealing to  children, their parents and  Roald Dahl readers. See: https://www.quentinblake.com/; https://www.quentinblake.com/tags/roald-dahl; and http://www.roalddahl.com/blog/2016/march/quentin-blake-collaborating-with-roald-dahl.

BlogArtBooks3018-01-07 09.37.35This book is so much fun and very child-centred in its approach, with its first page dedicated to the child owner’s signature and lots of intentional mistakes, smudges and scribbles. I love the authors’ ‘Gung-Ho approach to art’ (photo below of page 5); BlogArtBooks3018-01-07 09.31.56 and admonition to avoid self-criticism or listen to negative remarks! (photo of page 22).BlogArtBooks3018-01-07 09.33.08The authors encourage children to draw on the pages and this book is littered with my daughter Jenny’s artwork and I’m sure contributed greatly to the development of her artistic talent (see photo below of pages 28 and 29 : Clocks and Candles).BlogArtBooks3018-01-07 09.33.26BlogArtBooks3018-01-07 09.33.36 I love her illustrations of Dogs (Page 60);BlogArtBooks4018-01-07 09.35.47 Birds (Page 63); BlogArtBooks3018-01-07 09.36.20 and Pigs (Page 65). BlogArtBooks4018-01-07 09.36.10The latter photo featuring an illustration of Piglutta, a central character of the annual magazines she produced as a teenager and her first novel, The Adventures of Camel, Piggy and Hippoe 2008.BlogArtBooks3018-01-07 15.58.37 Horses, fish, crocodiles, cockatoos, emotional rabbits, human faces and figures are also covered and, despite its informal and humorous approach, the book still manages to impart valuable knowledge about perspective; light and shadow; and silhouettes.BlogArtBooks2518-01-07 09.34.46Another very effective technique involves asking children to lend their own touch of genius to unfinished drawings. See the photo above of the Greatly Fearded 14-Legged Galumposaurus, Which Needs a Back End (Pages 54 to 55) and the photo below, Mrs Thudkin’s Floppaterasis and the 3-Headed Red-Spotted Gorff (Pages 56 to 57).BlogArtBooks2518-01-07 09.35.34It is a terrific book and even comes complete with a clear pencil case, containing a red and black watercolour pencil and a black ink sketch pen, attached to the spine.

You Can Draw a Kangaroo: The Poems Tell You What To Do 1964/ 1985 Published forthe Australian Information Service by the Australian Government Publishing Service

A delightful quirky old guide to drawing Australian animals from my childhood, which I still use to create embroidery designs.BlogArtBooks3018-01-05 18.08.52 Using humorous rhyme, as indicated by the subtitle, and sequential drawings based on basic shapes (ovals, circles etc ), it makes it easy to produce basic recognizable line drawings of our unique Australian wildlife, including a Kangaroo, Emu, Echidna, Budgerigar, Magpie, Wombat, Platypus, Goanna, Pelican, Kookaburra, Koala, Boobook Owl, Brolga, Bandicoot, Cockatoo, Glider, Swan, Groper, Turtle, Cassowary, Mud-Skipper, Frilled Lizard and Lyrebird. Here is a sample page: The Kangaroo.BlogArtBooks4018-01-07 09.37.15How To Draw and Paint the Outdoors: Practical Techniques for All Junior Painters  by Moira Butterfield 1995

A lovely children’s book and my final book for today! As you all know, I am a great believer in forging the link between nature and children, and this book is a valuable contributor to the cause, as well as developing the child’s passion and ability for drawing and painting. It is written for children between the ages of seven and twelve, a very important make-or-break period for children’s art!BlogArtBooks3018-01-05 18.01.50

There are many wonderful practical examples and easy-to-follow instructions on perspective; light and shade; mixing colours; brush strokes and painting without a brush (stippling, dot/ dash painting, sponging, dragging and combing, waxing and scratching); working with photographs; scaling and enlarging pictures; and the realistic portrayal of a range of subject matter from landscapes, city scapes and industrial scenes to sky, water and waves, and trees and flowers, as well as information on colouring with different types of paints, pastels, chalks and crayons, and more unusual techniques like printing, finger painting, painting on glass, textured rubbings and collages. Other projects include: Making a Portfolio; a Viewfinder; a 3-D Landscape; and Maps and Models.BlogColorDesignReszd25%Image (788) - Copy - CopyPlease note that last month’s post on Design and Inspiration also featured some wonderful books for encouraging children’s art and creativity: The Usborne Book of Art Ideas and The Usborne Book of Art Projects. See: https://wordpress.com/post/candeloblooms.com/51827.

Next week, I will be looking at some of my favourite books on Watercolour Painting, as well as Artists’ Journals!  

Craft Books: Colour, Design and Inspiration: Part Two

Today, we are continuing with my post on Books about Colour, Design and Inspiration, with a review of some favourite children’s art and fantasy books; excellent books on using library resources and fun exercises to motivate and inspire; and stories about other craftspeople and their studios, finishing with some valuable practical books on running a craft business and art teaching.

Children’s Books

The Usborne Book of Art Ideas by Fiona Watt 1999/2009;

I love these little books. Aimed at young children, they are packed with lots of wonderful ideas, which can be used to inspire adults as well!BlogColorDesignReszd25%Image (788) - Copy - Copy The Usborne Book of Art Ideas describes a wide variety of art materials (paper, paint, ink, pastels, wax crayons, pens, brushes and palettes) and techniques with pages on: mixing colours, density of paint application, colour theory, perspective, printing patterns, masking out, patterns and dots, glue pictures, elastic band prints, hand and cardboard prints, blow paintings, brush and ink work, watercolour painting, chalk and pastel techniques, wax resist rubbings and making cards and frames.

The Usborne Book of Art Projects by Fiona Watt 2003/2008;

This small sequel covers a variety of art projects from tissue paper windows; texturing paper; paper mosaic tins; paper weaving ; frames; and collaged cards and book covers to dangling bead shapes, foil fish; 3-D cityscapes; scratching paint; doodling; embossed circles and printing techniques.

Creative Art Crafts by Pedro de Lemos

: Book 2: Cardboard, Wood, Cloth and Metal  1945    and

Book 3: Weaving, Raffia Basketry, Textile Arts, Plastics, Jewelry Designs, Pottery Crafts, Cement Art Crafts, Sculpture, Puppetry, Masks, Stagecraft, Marionettes, Costuming, Pageantry, and Sandtable Projects 1948;

I rescued these two delightful old-fashioned volumes from the bin and wished I’d found the first volume as well (Book 1: Paper Craft, Toy Craft, Relief Craft)!

I loved the quote by John Erskine in the forewood on Page 2 of  Volume 2:

‘The joy of creation is always greater than the undoubted pleasure of looking on. The sad fact is that the vast majority of mankind are onlookers, only the rare few are doers, but those who have the most fun will be those who do rather than merely look on’.

After a brief introduction to Cardboard and Wood Craft, Pedro suggest many projects using these mediums, including: Paper Sculpture; Corrugated Paper Craft; Cardboard Houses, Boxes, Nativity Scenes and Letter Portfolios (which really defines the age of this book!); Papier Mâché; Stained Glass Designs; Action Animals, Toys and Figurines; Nesting Boxes; Whittling; Wooden Boxes; Chip Carving; Gesso Craft; Marquetry; and Wood Batik.

The section on Cloth and Textiles has a similar approach- an introduction to various techniques, followed by more detailed instruction and projects, including: Wax Crayon Decoration; Cloth Stencilling; Silk Screen; Designing Monograms; Printing Cloth with Textile Blocks; Potato Prints; Batik; Shibori; Solar Printing; and Hand Embroidery.

Metal crafts include: Repoussé; Stamping and Working Metal; Tin Can Craft; Sheet Metal Sculpture; Copper Craft; Metal Etching; Plant Holders; Wirework; and Iron Craft.

There are more wonderful sentiments about the integration of arts and crafts in the forewood to the third volume (Page 2- see photo below). This book covers even more crafts: Weaving using Cardboard, Box and Hand Looms; Raffia Work and Rug Hooking; Basketry and Rush Work; Jewellery Making; Pottery; Glass and Plastic Sculpture; Colour Cement Tile Work; Puppetry; Shadow Play; and Mask Making; Costumery and Set Design.

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While written for art educators and therapists, these volumes with their clear presentation, using simple black-and-white photographs (with the odd colour plate) rather than complex text, mean that they can be used by anyone, regardless of age, language and technical ability and serve to provide plenty of inspiration rather than in-depth instruction!

An Alphabet of Animals by Isabelle Brent 1993;

A beautiful book with 26 stunning animal portraits from A to Z.BlogColorDesignReszd30%Image (793)

Isabelle’s paintings are full of brilliant colour; patterned and colourful borders and backgrounds; and gold leaf, reminiscent of medieval illuminated manuscripts. The text highlights the special unique properties of each animal. It is a truly beautiful publication, whose subject matter and presentation cannot but inspire future artistic endeavours.

I love the imagination and illustrations of the following books! They are all fantastic spurs to creativity and artistic inspiration!

Arthur Spiderwick’s Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You by Tony Diterlizzi and Holly Black 2005;BlogColorDesignReszd25%Image (798)

In this comprehensive field guide, ‘Arthur Spiderwick’ describes the creatures of the invisible world (complete with scientific nomenclature), only accessible to those gifted with ‘the Sight’, and categorises them according to their home environment:

Around the House and Yard: the helpful Brownies and troublesome Boggarts, mysterious Changelings and light-fingered Pixies; and the fiery Salamanders and Stray Sods;

In Fields and Forests: the fatal Cockatrices; capricious elves, diligent leprechauns; man-eating Manticores; nebulous Sprites; magical Treefolk and curative Unicorns;

In Lakes, Streams and the Sea: Wailing Kelpies, curious Merfolk, musical Nixies, massive Sea Serpents and constantly hungry Trolls of the waterways;

In the Hills and Mountains: From diminutive Dwarves to Giants and Ogres, Goblins and Hobgoblins and even Deep Cavern Knockers;

In the Sky: The fearsome dragons, regal griffins, glorious regenerative phoenix; and

Outside at Night: The nocturnal Banshees, frozen Gargoyles, roguish Phookas and luminous Will-o’-the-Wisps.

I love the notated illustrations of the mythical creatures and watercolour paintings of their environment  throughout this book, as well as the ‘scientific’ approach to their study, reminiscent of natural history books of the early 1900s.

The Goblins of Labyrinth by Brian Froud and Terry Jones 1986/ 2006;BlogColorDesignReszd25%Image (799)

This is a similarly fanciful and imaginative tome, based on the ‘archaeological discovery’ by Brian Froud, in an unspecified remote corner of Olduvai Gorge, Northern Tanzania, of a 60 Million year old earthenware pot with runic inscriptions on the underside edge of the rim, which in turn led him to a further discovery of 43 notebooks about ancient goblins. Their huge diversity; descriptions and images; and peculiarities and habits are documented in this amazingly creative book! I love the imagination and great sense of fun in this book!

Dr Ernest Drake’s Dragonology: The Complete Book of Dragons edited by Dugald A Steer 2003;

I also plan to make a dragon one day! Similar in style to the last two books, this book is based on the scientific study of ‘dragonologist’, Dr Ernest Drake.BlogColorDesignReszd25%Image (800)

His authenticity and credibility is backed up with supporting evidence in the front of the book like his library card and a letter in an envelope addressed to the reader, as well as spells to catch a dragon. This comprehensive description of everything to do with dragons (Locations; Species; Natural History; Life Cycle; Behaviour; Finding, Tracking and Working with Dragons; Scientific study; Dragon script; Useful spells and charms; and history) includes: World maps; Samples of skin, wing membrane and dragon dust; Pop-out diagrams; Personal record books; Secret envelopes; and Riddles and puzzles. Another highly imaginative and creative book!

The Book of Barely Imagined Beings: A 21st Century Bestiary by Caspar Henderson 2013

Based on medieval bestiaries, this paperback focuses on amazing unique creatures, which actually exist and still survive in our modern world, two thirds of which are marine.

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Alphabetically ordered, they range from critically endangered Axolotls (a type of salamander) to Zebra Fish, the populous darlings of scientific study due to the speed of the development of their embryos. This book highlights the wonder and miracle of our natural world, despite the devastating impacts of humans! It was also highly informative! While I learned so much more about the Crown-of-Thorns Starfish and the Nautilus, I knew nothing about Sea Butterflies or Goblin Sharks or even Xenoglaux, the Long-Whiskered Owlet!

Cerebral Inspiration

The Watkins Dictionary of Symbols by Jack Tresidder 1997;

Traditional symbols have served as a visual shorthand for artists and craftspeople to express their beliefs and ideas about human life for thousands of years, predating writing and representing universal fundamental concepts in many primitive societies and cultures.

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This book contains 1000 symbols from myth, literature and art, from a range of cultures throughout Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas and are arranged in alphabetical order. It is a valuable starting point for artistic inspiration, as well as a fascinating element of mankind’s history!

The Crafter’s Devotional: 365 Days of Tips, Tricks, and Techniques for Unlocking Your Creative Spirit by Barbara R. Call 2009;

This book is jam-packed with inspirational ideas to break the crafter’s block!BlogColorDesignReszd30%Image (816)

This scanned page (page 9) shows the way it is organized:BlogColorDesignReszd40%Image (817)There are just so many ideas, that really you have to read the book yourself. Some of the ideas, which resonated with me, included: Wordless Journalling (Day 15); Miniature Collaging (Day 17); Women’s 7 Senses (Day 50); Going Back in Time (Day 67); the Scamper concept (Day 167-168; Page 144 – see photo below); and Gratitude Journal (Day 359).

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I would love to try making air-drying clay rubber stamps (Day 6 and 7); House journals (Day 29); Altered Books (p 51); Sisterly Creations (Day 62-63); Finding Your Animal Totem (p82) and Write For  100 Years from Now (p113); Happy Birthday (Day 221; Page 187; Sun Printing (Day 234; Waxed Paper Batik;  Tiny Tin Treasure Troves (Day 310) and Paper-Aging Techniques (Day 346). There are also a number of artist interviews throughout the book.

Bibliocraft: A Modern Crafter’s Guide to Using Library Resources to Jumpstart Creative Projects;

I love this book, which I bought (ironically!) when I was working for the Digital Repository of the Deakin University Library. It was right during the time period, when the library was converting from a storehouse of books with lots of bookshelves, which were discarded, to a digitally dominated learning space with comfortable lounges and discussion areas!BlogColorDesignReszd30%Image (820)Books have always been a constant source of inspiration for me, but the advent of the internet means increased accessibility to a wide range of libraries and library collections:

State and neighbourhood branch libraries for borrowing out hard copies, as well as magazines and videos;

University libraries for students, though often borrowing access by the public can be organized for an annual fee;

Research libraries: For example, The Metropolitan Museum of Art has 12 different libraries and study centres in New York City alone; The Library of Congress, Washington, DC, is the largest library in the world, while The British Library contains many early printed books and a Historic Bindings Database. All are becoming increasingly digitized, which is a wonderful boon to artists further afield.

Special collections: Historic maps; ornamental penmanship; and early printed books and illuminated manuscripts; and now

Digital libraries: For example, the World Digital Library www.wdl.org/en; Flickr Commons www.flickr.com/commons and Europeana www.europeana.eu.

There is a chapter on using library catalogues, Library of Congress headings and keyword searching; copyright laws and legalities; and finally, a list of some recommended library collections for specific needs: General Visual Resources; Home Economics; Craft History and Culture; Printed Ephemera; Book Arts and Bookbinding; Costume and Fashion; Arts and Design; Children’s Books; Medieval Manuscripts; Science and Technology; Maps and Cartography; Quilts; Knitting; Lettering, Penmanship and Typography; and Performing Arts and Film. I cannot recommend this book highly enough as a source of inspiration!

Also included in the book are projects inspired by the library with instructions, including: a Marbled Fabric Pouch; Decorated Papers and Watermark Pillows; Ornamental Penmanship and Cartouche Embroidery; Calligraphy and Penmanship; a Secret Message Snowflakes and Patterned Stationery Set and an Arts and Crafts Ex Libris Set; a Quilled Willow Pendant and a Paper Town Garland; a Kittens Pockets Dress with Kittens and a Cyanotype Bed Throw; Antiquarian Animal Votive Holders and Japanese Heraldry Coasters; and a Wool Rose Fascinator and Felt Dogwood Blossoms for Millinery. The appendices include a stitch guide and sources for supplies.

And finally, books on other craft people and sage advice about craft businesses!

The Crafter’s Companion: Tips, Tales and Patterns from a Community of Creative Minds edited by Anna Torborg 2006;

A very inspiring book, featuring interviews with 17 different craftswomen, who discuss their endeavours under the headings: Why I Create; Inspiration; and Workspace; with a representative project of each artist’s original designs, with photographs, patterns and detailed instructions (at the back of the book).BlogColorDesignReszd30%Image (827) Their crafts include: Patchwork and Quilting; Toy and Bag making; Embroidery ; Felting and Knitting; and Paper Crafts.

I particularly liked the work of toymakers: Anna Torborg, Fiona Dalton, Tania Ho and Myra Masuda and would love to try making the latter’s Elephant Pouch. Again, there is a list of sources in the back of the book.

Inside the Creative Studio: Inspiration and Ideas for Your Art and Craft Space by Cate Coulacos Prato 2011;

I love reading about other artists’ and craftspeoples’ studios and gleaning useful ideas from them for my own sewing room!BlogColorDesignReszd30%Image (833) This book is organized into six chapters, with 6 studios in each, titled:

Chapter 1: A Room of One’s Own;

Chapter 2:  Organization and Storage;

Chapter 3: Flea Market Flair;

Chapter 4: Small Space, Big Style;

Chapter 5: The Power of Light and Colour; and

Chappter 6: Make It Your Own.

There are floor plans, photographs, tips and hints; colour symbolism; discussions on lighting or open studios; and checklists for needs and storage! There were some great ideas from rods to hold ribbon spools and underseat bookcases; wire baskets to organize fabric stashes: wooden card filing cabinets and muffin tins to hold stamps or beads respectively; and clear plastic drawers for easy access.

While not all necessarily applicable, the huge diversity of studios has appeal for a wide variety of situations. I could easily set up shop in Gina Lee Kim’s studio. Merely reading this book and viewing all the wonderful art spaces is stimulation and inspiration enough for renewed vigour!

Mollie Makes: Making It: The Hard facts You Need to Start Your Own Craft Business 2014;

The title says it all! While inspiration and artistic practice are fundamentals, so too are business skills, which enable your ability to continue to follow your passion and pursue your art/ craft! Chapters, complete with expert advice from key players and fellow artists, cover:

Chapter 1: First Steps: Customer profiling; Building Your Brand and Developing a Logo; Setting up a Website; and Online Marketing;

Chapter 2: Taking the Plunge: Company Structure; Working from Home or Away; Financing Your Business; and Writing a Business Plan;

Chapter 3: Creative Conundrums: Costs and Pricing; Sourcing Raw Materials; Staying Inspired; Making Connections (Networking and Mentoring); and Protecting Your Intellectual Property;

Chapter 4: Spreading the Word: Using Social Media; PR Material; Writing a Press Release; Feature Articles; Getting Professional PR Help and Photographing Your Product;

Chapter 5: Sell, Sell, Sell: Craft fairs; Online Market Places eg Etsy; Selling from your own website, selling to shops and Opening your own shop; Running Workshops; and The Customer is King

Chapter 6: The Nitty Gritty: Hiring a bookkeeper or accountant; tax; card and online payments; Managing Cash Flow; Insurance; Consumer Law in brief; and Employing Staff. There is a list of useful websites for each chapter in the back of the book.BlogColorDesignReszd40%Image (825) I cannot stress how important and valuable this small book is, not just for artists and craftsmen, but for the establishment of any business. It is however particularly beneficial for creative people who, by the sheer nature of their creativity and right-brain thinking,  find the business aspects and self-promotion quite daunting and challenging! I’m talking from personal experience here!!! And finally,

How to Teach Art and Craft by Trisha Goodfield 2010.

Teaching art and craft and sharing your experiences and special skills with children and adult beginners is often much more lucrative than selling the hand-crafted product, whose huge number of production hours is often not reflected in the consumer price! People will pay however for tuition and given the price per person per hour is financially affordable for an individual and a class is often made up of a number of individuals, all paying that lesson price, then it is often possible to make good money from giving lessons and workshops.

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The author presents this book by posing a series of questions, along with sub-questions within the text :

What to Teach: Demonstrations and Classes; retreats and conventions; Classes based on Technique or Specific Projects;

Where to Teach: Teaching from Home; Community Groups; Craft stores; Libraries and Meeting Rooms; Adult Education; Craft Shows; Retreats and Conventions;Schools; Online; Magazines; and Outdoor Venues;  as well as Council and Government Regulations; Insurance, Tax and Permits; Pricing Classes (including the cost of materials, preclass preparation; travel; and Insurance and taxes); and Promotion and Marketing (including preparing a portfolio or resume; Flyers, Brochures and Business cards; Networking and Social Media; Interviews and Follow ups; and Boundaries concerning what you are prepared to do or not do!)

Who are you teaching: Teaching Children and Adult Learners; Adult Learning Styles and Teaching Strategies; Personalities and how to manage them like the latecomers (White Rabbit), the Professor, who knows it all (!), the Diva and the Chatterbox; and Dealing with different cultural and generational attitudes, values and beliefs; and finally,

How to Teach: Learning Objectives; Planning your Introduction; Learning Strategies; Nerves; Demonstration Skills; Handouts; Reinforcement/ Feedback; Listening skills; Questions and Answers; Lesson Closure and Evaluation; Lesson Plans and Formats and Further Teacher training.

While many of these ideas are common sense and instinctive, this book is a very worthwhile and valuable summary and reminder of all aspects of teaching art and craft.

I hope this small selection has whet your appetites. Next month, I will be looking at some of my favourite Drawing and Art Books! Next week, we return to my monthly Feature Plants with a post on Lovely Lavender!

Musings on Poetry: Part One: Children’s Poetry Books

My final book post for the year covers my favourite poetry books, as well as my favourite poets! Poetry is such a personal preference. I’m afraid that I have to admit to being unashamedly conventional in my tastes! A true romantic at heart, though others may say ostrich-like, I love both art and poetry, which promotes positivity and beauty in images, words and thoughts and which makes you feel good! Nothing too deep or heavy or angst-ridden, where you immediately want to go and slit your wrists (or throat for that matter!), though there are exceptions like Dylan Thomas, who strings his words together so beautifully that he is still one of my favourite poets!

Poetry is for reading out aloud! I love the sound of the words and the rhyme, cadence and rhythm of the verse. I enjoy a wide eclectic range of forms from rhyming sonnets to some prose; Japanese haikus and funny limericks, and even terrible doggerel, some of which I have been known to write myself!!!

A love of poetry begins in childhood. Children respond so well to rhyme and rhythm and many of my favourite poetry stems from that time, so I have started with some favourite poetry books for children (today), progressing into some general poetry books for adults, and then, some specific poets, no doubt generational favourites (Wednesday), as well different  genres, including some of our wonderful Australian poems and humorous nonsense rhymes (Thursday). Please note that many of the poems mentioned can be accessed online through sites like:

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems;

https://allpoetry.com;

https://www.poets.org;  and

https://www.poemhunter.com.

Poetry Books For Children

Nursery Rhymes

Nursery rhymes are the very start of preparing children for the wonderful world of poetry and rhyme!

In the Old Gum Tree: Nursery Thymes and Verse for Little Kids Illustrated by Cathy Wilcox 1989/1990

This thin paperback contains old traditional favourites like Baa Baa Black Sheep and Ladybird, Ladybird, as well as colloquial Australian verse like Kookaburra Sits In The Old Gum Tree and other short rhymes and poems, written specifically for Australian children.BlogPoetryBooksReszd30%Image (736)

AA Milne (1882-1926)

When We Were Very Young, 1924

AA Milne was not only responsible for that wonderful children’s classic, Winnie the Pooh, with all its iconic characters, so loved by generations of children, but also for engendering a love of poetry in children. There are so many wonderful poems in this book, including (with first lines):

Buckingham Palace (They’re changing guard at Buckingham Palace-Christopher Robin went down with Alice);

Happiness (John had Great Big Waterproof Boots On);

Puppy and I (I met a man as I went walking; We got talking, Man and I);

The Four Friends (Ernest was an elephant, a great big fellow, Leonard was a lion with a six-foot tail, George was a goat, and his beard was yellow, And James was a very small snail!), a personal favourite;

Lines and Squares (Whenever I walk in a London street, I’m ever so careful to watch my feet). Remember doing this?!;

Market Square (I had a penny, A bright new penny. I took my penny to the market square);

Disobedience (James James Morrison Morrison Weatherby George Dupree Took great Care of his Mother, Though he was only three), such a wonderful rhyme!;

The Three Foxes (Once upon a time there were three little foxes, Who didn’t wear stockings, and they didn’t wear soxes);

Rice Pudding (What is the matter with Mary Jane?);

Missing (Has anybody seen my mouse?);

The King’s Breakfast ( The King asked The Queen, and The Queen asked The Dairymaid: ‘Could we have some butter for The Royal slice of bread?’);

Hoppity (Christopher Robin goes Hoppity, hoppity, Hoppity, hoppity, hop!);

The Dormouse and the Doctor (There once was a Dormouse who lived in a bed Of delphiniums (blue) and geraniums (red)); and

Halfway Down (Halfway down the stairs Is a stair Where I sit).BlogPoetryBooksReszd25%Image (724)

We also grew up with AA Milne’s other poetry book: Now We are Six by AA Milne 1927/ 1956, with classics like:

King John’s Christmas (King John was not a good man!);

Busy (I think I am a muffin man…But round about and round about and roundabout I go!);

Sneezles (Christopher Robin had sneezles and wheezles));

Binker (Binker – what I call him – is a secret of my own);

Cherry Stones (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor);

Buttercup Days (Where is Anne?), my poor sister’s bête noir;

Us Two (Wherever I am, there’s always Pooh, There’s always Pooh and me!);

Forgiven (I found a little beetle, so that Beetle was his name, And I called him Alexander and he answered just the same….And Nanny let my beetle out!);

The Little Black Hen (Berryman and Baxter, Prettiboy and Penn And old Farmer Middleton Are five big men);

The Good Little Girl (It’s funny how often they say to me, ‘Jane? Have you been a good girl?), my pet hate, but still memorable!; and

In the Dark (I’ve had my supper, And had my supper, and HAD my supper and all!)BlogPoetryBooksReszd40%Image (716)

I love AA Milne’s repetition, his rhyme, his subject matter so pertinent to children’s lives, even today, although it is a very different time period, and his great sense of fun! It is hard to imagine that anyone would not know his poems, at least in the English-speaking world, but for those of you who don’t, see: https://www.poemhunter.com/alan-alexander-milne/poems/.

I think AA Milne is about to enjoy renewed popularity, with the current release of the film about him and the story behind the creation of Winnie-the-Pooh, Goodbye Christopher Robin. See: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1653665/ for a description and the trailer.

Another lovely poetry book for children aged between six and twelve years of age is :

I Will Build You a House: Poems for Cushla, chosen by Dorothy Butler 1984.

While Dorothy  specifies in the introduction that she tries to avoid dividing her poetry into topics or themes, preferring to surprise her audience, many of the poems chosen are about animals and nature. They include some classic old poems, including:

Hurt No Living Thing by Christine Rossetti;

Four Ducks on a Pond by William Allingham; and

Envoy; Windy Nights; and Requiem by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894).BlogPoetryBooksReszd30%Image (708)

When my children were young, we had a book of Robert Louis Stevenson’s poetry titled: A Child’s Garden of Verses 1885, which can be read online as part of the Gutenberg Project. See: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/25609/25609-h/25609-h.htm. Like AA Milne, his poems are short, have rollicking rhyme (eg Windy Nights and My Shadow) and are so rich in imagery (eg Travel and Block City), so wonderful for developing the imagination and a lifelong love of poetry!

Envoy is one of my favourite poems by Robert Louis Stevenson:

Go, little book, and wish to all

Flowers in the Garden, meat in the hall,

A bin of wine, a spice of wit,

A house with lawns enclosing it,

A living river by the door,

A nightingale in the sycamore!

 Another poetry book I read to my children was: A New Treasury of Poetry, Compiled by Neil Philip 1990.

This book does divide its poems into subject matter with the following chapters:

A Child Went Forth;

Days are Where We Live;

Birds and Beasts;

Sing a Song of Seasons;

Children If You Dare Think;

Once Upon a Time;

The Land of Whipperginny; and

Goodnight; with an Index of Poets and an Index of Titles and First Lines in the back of the book.

I loved Neil Philip’s comparison of poetry as ‘most akin to magic’ in his introduction (page 14).

The poetry includes:

Traditional rhymes like ‘Lavender’s Blue’ ;‘I Know Where I’m Going, ‘This is the Key ’; ‘Lord Randal’; ‘How many Miles to Babylon’ ; ‘I Had a Little Nut-Tree’ and ‘Frankie and Johnny’;

and some famous, old, lyrical poems, including:

The Tyger by William Blake 1794 (Tyger! Tyger! Burning bright In the Forests of the night!);

The Cataract of Lodore by Robert Southey 1823;

I Remember, I Remember by Thomas Hood 1826;

The Owl and the Pussy-Cat by Edward Lear 1871 (The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea In a beautiful pea-green boat), a delightful nonsense poem; and the particularly rousing poem:

The Highway Man by Alfred Noyes 1906 (The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees. The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas. The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor, And the highwayman came riding-Riding-riding-The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door);

As well as more modern (as opposed to ancient!) poems like :

The Rum Tum Tugger by TS Eliot (The Rum Tum Tugger is a Curious Cat) 1939

Days by Philip Larkin (What are days for? Days are where we live) 1953;

The Magpies by Denis Glover, one of my favourite poems with the chorus line: Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle, so evocative of their beautiful song) 1964 ;  and

The History of the Flood by John Heath-Stubbs (Bang Bang Bang Said the nails in the Ark) 1971;

Some of the poems are common to adult anthologies like :

The Daffodils by William Wordsworth 1807;

A Thing of Beauty 1818 (A thing of beauty is a joy for ever: Its loveliness increases; it will never Pass into nothingness…) and To Autumn 1819 (Seasons of mists and mellow fruitfulness!), both by John Keats;

The Lake Isle of Innesfree by WB Yeats 1888;

Sea Fever by John Masefield 1902 (I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky)

Leisure by WH Davies 1911 (What is this life if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare);

After Apple-Picking 1914 and Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening 1922, both by Robert Frost 1914; and

Fern Hill by Dylan Thomas 1945;BlogPoetryBooksReszd25%Image (719)

The Macquarie Bedtime Story Book 1987, compiled by Rosalind Price and Walter McVitty also contains some wonderful poetry for children. Particularly memorable poems include:

A Rhyme to Jump into Bed With (Bounda-bounda-bounda bump!), a very bouncy fun poem; and Highrise (Do you know what I would build If all the blocks were mine? I’d pile them up And pile them up As high as I could climb), both by Sally Farrell Odgers.

When the King Rides By (Oh, what a fuss when the king rides by And the drum plays rat-a-tat-plan!); and Promises (If I had a needle, a needle, I’d sew you a wonderful cake!), both by Margaret Mahy;

When I Went to Byaduck (When I went to Byaduck, to Byaduck, to Byaduck, My Grandma said to me…!); and Waddle Duck (Ducks in the farmyard, ducks in the dawnlight, Waking up brightly as the day comes back, Waddle-duck, waddle-duck, Quack, quack, quack); both by Colin Thiele;

Stomping Horace by Doug MacLeod (Horace was a stomper In the second grade!); The Ant Explorer by CJ Dennis (Once a little sugar ant made up his mind to roam – To fare away far away, far away from home);

Ten Little Rabbits by Anonymous (Ten little rabbits playing round a mine. One slipped down a shaft, then there were nine);

Three Fleas by Bill Scott (Here are three fleas with powerful knees who can leap as high as the tallest trees – boing – boing – boing!);

M.’s Songs by JS Manifold (Coots eat waterbeetles, Rats eat cheese, Goats eat anything they Darned well please!), one of my all-time favourites;

Miss Strawberry’s Purse by Eric C Rolls (Miss Strawberry has a long fat purse To keep her money in); and

Mulga Bill’s Bicycle by AB Paterson (‘Twas Mulga Bill, from Eaglehawk, that caught the cycling craze!)

All of them have wonderful rhyme and a great sense of fun and humour and many of them are written by Australian poets.BlogPoetryBooksReszd25%Image (706)

My final poetry book for children, Come Listen: A Book of Poetry for Secondary Schools: First and Second Forms 1966 by Marjorie Pizer and Joan Reed was a textbook we studied in Grade Six of primary school, despite its title, and  I loved the poems in it!  They are divided into sections and I have given a small sample of examples in each grouping:

Story Poems and Ballads eg The Man From Snowy River by AB Paterson; The Minstrel Boy by Thomas Moore; The Listeners by Walter de la Mare; and The Wild  Colonial Boy (Anon);

Fun and Nonsense eg The Triantiwontigongalope by CJ Dennis; Johnson’s Antidote by AB Paterson; The Bunyip and the Whistling Kettle by John Manifold; Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll; and Sad Story of a Motor Fan by HA Field;

Animals and Other Creatures eg Macavity: The Mystery Cat by TS Eliot; The Eagle by Alfred, Lord Tennyson; and  Snake by Ian Mudie;

Old Favourites eg The Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred, Lord Tennyson; Abou Ben Adhem by Leigh Hunt; and If by Rudyard Kipling;

People eg Hiawatha by HW Longfellow; and Clancy of the Overflow by AB Paterson;

Background to Today eg The Teams by Henry Lawson; Colonial Fleets by EJ Brady; They’ll Tell You About Me by Ian Mudie, such an iconic Aussie poem; and Old Botany Bay by Mary Gilmore.

Country and City eg A Song of Rain by CJ Dennis; Pippa’s Song by Robert Browning; Cargoes by John Masefield; and From a Railway Carriage by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Thoughts and Feelings eg The Vagabond, again by Robert Louis Stevenson; Tarantella by Hilaire Belloc; Break, Break, Break by Alfred, Lord Tennyson; When You are Old by WB Yeats; and The Great Lover by Rupert Brooke.

This book gave me an excellent grounding in poetry, as well as in Australian verse (more later)!

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I hope this post has brought back very many happy memories, as well as given a few suggestions for poetry for today’s children. For more children’s poetry, see my post on Thursday on Nonsense Rhymes. Tomorrow, we enter the world of adult poetry!

History Books: Part Three: History

Following on from last week’s posts about our ancient past, I am starting this post with a few crossover books about ancient civilisations to give a baseline for future developments.

Prehistory is defined as the time before written records and given that the first writing was developed in 3 600 BCE, the following books can easily be included in a post on the early history of mankind.

The Atlas of World Archaeology  Edited by Paul G Bahn 2006 (Earlier editions 2000 and 2003)

While Part One focuses on Prehistoric Man: the earliest hominids and first modern humans; tool making and use of fire; African genesis and the spread of archaic and modern humans; the Neanderthals; the Ice Age and prehistoric art, the rest of the book examines the development of the early civilisations.

Part Two discusses the major advances in the next 10 000 years: the emergence of farming (animal and plant domestication; dairying; animals for traction power and wealth; and use of wool); pyrotechnology ( pottery and metallurgy: copper; bronze; iron and gold); and writing and early settlements, while Part Three is devoted to a more detailed look at the rise of civilisations in the different regions of the world:

Europe and Western Asia: Uruk (Warka) in Southern Mesopotamia; Varna in the Balkans; Sumerians and Akkadians, Mesopotamia; Minoans of Crete and the Mycenean on the Greek Mainland; the Hittites and the Assyrians; the Philistines and the Israelites; the Phoenicians; the Assyrian Empire; Saba, Southern Arabia; the Etruscans; Classical Greece and Ancient Rome .

Central, South and East Asia: the Harappans of the Indus Valley, India; the ancient dynasties of China (Xia; Shang; Zhou; Qin; Han); Early states in Korea (Paekche, Koguryo and Shilla) and Japan (Yayoi period); the Maruyas, Kushans and Guptas of India; the Scythians and Steppe Nomads; the Persian Empire; the Greeks in Asia; and the Empires along the Silk Road.

Africa: Ancient Egypt (Predynastic; Old, Middle and New Kingdoms); Ancient Nubia (Kerma and the Kingdom of Kush) on the Upper Nile and Axum on the Red Sea; the Nok in Central Nigeria; the Kingdom of Ghana; and the Empire of Mali.

The Americas: the Bison Hunters and Mound Builders (Adena and Hopewell cultures; the Mississippian tradition) of North America; the Pueblo Dwellers of the South-West; the Olmecs and Classical Highland civilisations of Mesoamerica; the Mayan States of Central America; the Aztecs of Central Mexico;  Andean States and Empires (Chavan; Moche; Paracas; Nasca; Tiwanaku; Wari and Chimor); and the Inca Empire of Peru.

Australia and the Pacific: Ice Age peoples and Lake Mungo; Later hunter-gatherers; Early Melanesia; Colonizing the Pacific (the Lapita people; and Polynesian voyagers); Easter Island; and the Maoris of New Zealand.BlogHxBooksReszd20%Image (585)

History is such a fascinating, complex and enormous subject with so much happening in all the different parts of the world simultaneously, so I found this book really useful for getting a handle on the different regional developments. This understanding is reinforced by timelines and excellent maps indicating key archaeological sites, as well as feature boxes and photographs of specific finds. By no means exhaustive, this book is a good general guide, with a clear simple presentation, but for a more in-depth discussion of the early civilisations, it is worth reading the following book:

The Penguin Encyclopedia of Ancient Civilizations Edited by Arthur Cotterell 1980

Written by over 30 international  experts, this interesting book provides a good overview of the prehistoric world and a detailed analysis of separate ancient civilizations. It discusses the art, architecture, language, mythology , religion and chronology of early societies, as well as  their emergence, development, interaction and decline. In the back are suggestions for further reading.

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Ancient History: From the First Civilizations to the Renaissance  by JM Roberts 2002

This would have to be one of my thickest books! This door-stopper of a book tells the story of more than 10 000 years of history and includes sidebars and feature boxes, which focus on major turning-points of history, as well as major figures and background information to the main text.

While the first half of the book recaps on the prehistory of mankind; the early civilisations; and Classical Greece and Ancient Rome, it then progresses to examine Islam and the Arab Empires; Byzantium; the Turks and the Ottomans; the consolidation of Medieval Europe; the Vikings, Angles and Saxons; Christianity; the Far East (India; Imperial China; and Japan); Africa and the Americas; and further historical developments in Europe (The Crusades; Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch explorations; and the Renaissance). Another very interesting and readable book!BlogHxBooksReszd25%Image (581)

The Cassell Atlas of World History Forewood by Barry Cunliffe 1998

This excellent atlas also covers a larger time period than the first book I discussed.

It is divided into 6 parts:

The Ancient World (4 000 000 to 500 BC);

The Classical World (500 BC to 600 AD);

The Medieval World (600 AD to 1492 AD);

From Columbus to American Independence ( 1492 AD to 1783 AD);

The 19th Century World (1783 AD to 1914 AD); and

From World War One to the Present (1914 AD to 1997 AD).

Each part is again divided into different regional areas (Europe; the Middle East; Africa; South and East Asia; the Americas; and Australasia), with an overall global outline of each time period at the beginning and detailed insights into all the periods of dramatic change and major events shaping history.

The text is supported by comprehensive world and regional maps, which are colour-coded to show the major civilizations in each area and lines with arrowheads indicating journeys, migrations and trade routes, as well as timelines, arranged in geographical or thematic sections, also colour-coded for major extended events and historical periods with pointers to particular to particular events.

This is an excellent book for showing comparative histories at a glance. For example, in the section on the rise of agriculture (1.03), the world map is colour-coded to show the transition periods to agriculture throughout the world and details the different animals and plants domesticated in each area; as well as textile and pottery finds; the earliest centres of metallurgy and the early spread of wheeled vehicles; while the next map (1.04) gives a very clear picture of the different modes of life throughout the world in 2000 BC (hunter-gatherers; nomadic pastoralists; simple and complex farming societies; and chiefdoms and  state societies) with the names of the separate groups in each area.

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The Times Compact Atlas of World History Edited by Geoffrey Parker 4th Edition 1995 is a similar book, but is much smaller and more compact.

It is divided into four parts:

 The Ancient World : Human Origins; the development of agriculture and the rise of civilizations to the collapse of Ancient Rome;

The World Fragmented : The spread of Christianity; the Byzantine and Islamic worlds; the Franks and Anglo-Saxons; the Vikings; the Mongol Empire; the Muslim Empires of India and Persia; Africa; Medieval Europe; South East Asia to 1511; China and Japan to 1644; the Ottoman Empire and Precolumbian America;

The Rise of the West: Voyages of discovery; European overseas expansion; the expansion of France and Russia; Colonial America; the Reformation; Habsburg ascendancy in Europe; China to 1911, India to 1947 and Japan to 1830; The Age of Revolution (America; and the Napoleonic Empire); the Industrial Revolution in Europe; the emerging Global Economy 1775; the United States to 1865 and Australia and New Zealand from 1788; the Decline of the Ottoman Empire; Nationalism in Europe; Imperialism; the European Powers and the World on the eve of the First World War;

The Modern World: The Chinese Republic (1911-1949); the First World War; Russian Revolution; Political problems in Europe 1919-1939; The Great Depression; the Second World War in Europe, Asia and the Pacific; the United States since 1945; Europe 1945 to 1973; Soviet Union to 1991; East Asia since 1945 and Decolonization after 1947; Middle East since 1917; Latin America since 1930; Africa and Asia since 1945; the Cold War 1947 to 1989; Europe since 1973; the Collapse of Communism in Europe since 1989 and the World in the 1990s (world population; infant mortality and life expectancy; gross national product and foreign investment; and ozone depletion).

And now here we are, 20 years later with major problems like climate change and environmental degradation, over-population, resource depletion , terrorism and political instability throughout the world! History never stands still and is constantly being made or rewritten, but this small volume with its condensed maps, graphs and diagrams gives a brief overall picture of world history at the time.

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I often find children’s books are often a good way to get an overall basic view of complex subjects like space, archaeology and time and the next two books are good examples.

The Junior Wall Chart of History: From Earliest Times to the Present by Christos Kondeatis 1990

This wall chart covers the last 6 000 years (4 000 BC on) and is divided into illustrated coloured bands, representing the different areas of the world (the Americas; Europe- Western Europe/ Eastern Europe and Middle East; India; Asia; China; Africa and Australasia) and different themes (Explorers and Traders; Scientists and Inventors; The Arts and Religion; and ‘First’ Dates).BlogHxBooksReszd2517-09-24 22.34.02Designed to pull out in one continuous wall chart, marked at the top by the date, it is an excellent way of displaying comparative history in a simple uncomplicated style. For example, a quick glance at the year 1200 BC (photo above) reveals that the Sea Peoples from Greece and the Mediterranean were raiding and resettling neighbouring countries; the wandering Urnfield people, who were ancestors of the Celts, started to settle and farm in villages; Stonehenge had already been built;  the Trojan Wars started between rival Greek city states; the Assyrian Empire, the New Kingdom of Egypt  and Shang Dynasty in China were in full swing; the Phoenician seafarers and merchants were starting to establish trading posts in the Mediterranean, Atlantic Ocean and West Africa’s coast; the Akkadian version of the Epic of Gilgamesh was written and the Jews began their worship of only one god, Jahweh.BlogHxBooksReszd2017-09-24 22.34.33In the Beginning: The Nearly Complete History of Almost Everything by Brian Delf and Richard Plat 1995

Another excellent book for children about the major world historical events, presented in a slightly different format.

After a brief look at the origins of our planet and geographical features and life on Earth, our past is examined through our achievements and developments and everyday life: our homes, buildings and bridges; clothing, medicine and weapons; writing and communication; inventions; and energy, work and methods of transport.

Each entry is illustrated with images of the subject at different time periods and in different countries, accompanied by brief explanatory text, a wonderful way of showing the diversity of each subject through time and space, as well as the development of each subject and man’s ingenuity. In the back is a biographical index of the key historical figures mentioned in the book.

An excellent book for inspiring a curiosity and interest in history, which can so often be presented in a dry or dusty way, which has the exactly opposite effect!BlogHxBooksReszd20%Image (582)

There are so many different ways of presenting history. The previous books have either been factual accounts, atlases with maps and timelines or wall charts. Another very successful way is in the form of story-telling his-story, the next two books being excellent examples.

A Very Short History of the World by Geoffrey Blainey 2004

Tracing the story of mankind over the last 4 Million years, this book examines the influences of geography, religion and technology in shaping the world.

Part One starts with the prehistory of mankind, the implications of agriculture, the specialisation of skills and the development of the early civilisations and their achievements from Mesopotamia through to the Ancient Romans.

Part Two progresses from the Mongol hordes to Medieval Europe; the Ottoman conquests; the Renaissance Period; advances in science and exploration; and the colonization of new lands.

Part Three covers American Independence and the French Revolution; the settlement of Australia; the African Slave Trade; the Industrial Revolution and the Age of Steam; the American Civil War and the Taiping Rebellion; Darwin and Evolution; the two World Wars; Liberation of the colonies; the Peoples’ Republic of China and all the technological advances of the last century.

I really enjoyed this book. It is very easy to read and I learnt so much! See if you can match a country to each of these imports: Potato; Indigo (blue dye); Turkeys; Porcelain; Cochineal (scarlet dye); Cloves; Quinine; and Logwood (red dye). The answers are at the bottom of the post!!!

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The Human Race: 10 Centuries of Change on Earth by Ian Mortimer 2014

An interesting read, examining the major changes, which impacted Western culture, defined as a product of Medieval European Christendom, between 1001 and 2000 AD. Some of the subjects the author covers include:  Religion and the church; Work and lifestyles; Population growth; Science, medicine and disease; Law and commerce; Education; Printing and books; TraveI and discovery; Weapons; The rise of the middle class; Transport and communication; the Industrial Revolution; Photography; the Media; and Electronics.

Mortimer writes so well and really makes history come alive. He summarises each century and the principal agents of change at the end of each chapter in order to address the initial question, which promoted the writing of the book: ‘Which Century Saw the Most Change?’, as well as explore the potential of the future.  You will have to read his book to discover his viewpoints!

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Now for some books on more specific areas:

Ancient England by Nigel Blundell and Kate Farrington 1996

I love the age of England – its old buildings and ruins; mysterious barrows, henges, hill forts and stone rings; its huge white figures carved into chalk hills; the remnants of ancient Roman walls and roads; and the wealth of statues and intricately carved Gaelic headstones.

We bought this lovely book after our trip to England in 1994 and it explains the history of this beautiful country so well! It describes the monoliths and tombs of Neolithic man (eg Stonehenge and Avebury); the fertility symbols of the Bronze Age Britons; the Iron Age forts of the Celts; the towns, road networks, villas, communal baths, theatres, temples and forums of Roman Britain; the Legend of King Arthur and Camelot; the Dark Ages; the Vikings and Danelaw; the Norman Conquest; the Plantagenets; the Medieval Period; Rebellion and the Wars of the Roses (1455 to 1487); the Tudors; Queen Elizabeth, the First; and finally, Oliver Cromwell and the subsequent restoration of the monarchy with Charles II (1660 to 1685).

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The Celts by John Davies 2000

Based upon the television series of the same name and accompanied by beautiful photos, this book explores the origins and development of the Celtic peoples and their migration from Central Europe to Scotland, Ireland, the Isle of Man, Cornwall, Brittany and Galicia. It describes their culture and festivals, their religion and sacred groves; their grave goods, weapons and treasures; their language, legends and fairytales; their stylised art and music; and finally, the future prospects of modern-day Celts. I’d love to see the six-part TV series for the sound effects, as well as the visuals!BlogHxBooksReszd25%Image (600)

Eden in the East: The Drowned Continent of South East Asia by Stephen Oppenheimer 2001

And then, there is this book by Stephen Oppenheimer, an expert in archaeological DNA (http://www.bradshawfoundation.com/stephenoppenheimer/stephen_oppenheimer.php), who challenges the conventional view of prehistory, using evidence from archaeology, oceanography, ethnography, geology, linguistics, genetics and folklore.

He argues that the cradle of civilisation was not in the Middle East, but in South-East Asia, and that the biblical flood of Noah’s Ark did occur with the melting of the ice 8000 years ago, causing rapid rises in sea level and drowning Sundaland, the landmass containing Indo-China, Malaysia and Indonesia during the last Ice Age, resulting in a huge population dispersal north and west to China, India, Mesopotamia, Egypt and the eastern Mediterranean, taking their mythology and technology with them and creating the first civilisations 6000 years ago.

He also states that Polynesians did not come from China, but the islands of South-East Asia, and that rice was domesticated in the Malay Peninsula 9000 years ago, rather than in China, the official view. It is a fascinating book with so much information and while I am not certainly sufficiently expert to make any further comments, you can read more detailed reviews at: http://koenraadelst.bharatvani.org/reviews/atlantis.html and https://scholarspace.manoa.hawaii.edu/bitstream/10125/17129/1/AP-v38n2-book-reviews.pdf.

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History can also be appreciated through the study of the history of specific subject areas like language, mathematics and botany. Along with archaeology and our origins, the development and diversity of languages has always fascinated me, especially the origins of the English language, which reflects its history of successive invasions over time by the Celts, Romans, Anglo-Saxons, Vikings, Normans and now Americanization and the influence of other cultures and technologies.

It is an enormous subject area, if the following website: https://www.ethnologue.com is anything to go by. Apparently, there are 7099 living languages, divided into 141 different language families, of which one third are endangered with less than 1000 speakers, and just 23 languages account for more than half the world’s population. The next two books are an excellent introduction to this broad field.

The Origins and Development of the English Language 3rd Edition by Thomas Pyles and John Algeo 1982

This comprehensive book was a first year academic text for students of Linguistics, so probably provides a more in-depth study than the lay person requires, but it is all still fascinating! There is so much information about grammar and word order and the mechanics behind speech, but it is the history of Writing (Chapter 3) and Language (Chapters 4 to 7), which really caught my attention.

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After a brief discussion of the most common language families, it focuses in on the Proto-Indo-European language family, of which English is a member (see the photo from the next book).

It traces the history of our language from Old English 449 to 1100 AD to Middle English 1100 to 1500 AD and Modern English to 1800, before examining the background mechanisms behind the formation of new words. I was particularly fascinated by the large section on the foreign elements of our vocabulary.

Here is another challenge! See if you know the origins of the 20 following words (and that’s only the first half of the alphabet!):

Albino; Anaemic; Bazaar; Budgerigar; Crochet; Cartoon; Delicatessen; Dinghy; Eisteddfod; Etiquette; Flamingo; Giraffe; Gingham; Hinterland; Influenza; Jubilee; Karma; Lieutenant; Medium; and Menu.

The answers are at the bottom of the post!

The Atlas of Languages: The Origin and Development of Languages Throughout  the World  Edited by Bernard Comrie, Stephen Matthews and Maria Polinsky  1996

Covering over 200 languages, this lovely coffee-table book gives a global survey of the different language families: their history, distribution, spread and decline, then focuses in on the different regions of the world : Europe and Eurasia; South and South-East Asia; Africa and the Middle East; Pacific; Australia and the Americas.

There are over 30 colour maps, as well as feature boxes, detailing points of linguistic, cultural and historical interest; many photographs of present-day people and places and ancient artefacts, manuscripts, monuments and statues from the last 5000 years; and tables like the example below (Page 40), showing all  the major language groups in the Indo-European Family.BlogHxBooksReszd50%Image (620)The book also discusses Pidgin and Creole languages; the extinction of languages; and the evolution and diversity in writing systems throughout the world, another fascinating area of study.BlogHxBooksReszd25%Image (579)

The development of numbers and mathematical  thought is equally absorbing and even though the following paperback is now over 42 years old, it is an excellent introduction to the basics!

Man and Number : An Account of the Development of Man’s Use of Number Through the Ages by Donald Smeltzer 1975

Here is a summary of the chapter contents:

Chapter One : Early man’s sense of number; Number words in different languages; the concept of Tallying; and the use of Number Bases:

Binary (base two), as used by computers;

Quinary (base five), used by the Joloffs of Africa; and

Decimal (base 10), used by most advanced societies today, though base three, four, twelve (eg: Imperial measurement of inches and feet/a dozen eggs) and twenty (vigesimal), as evidenced by: the English word, score, derived from tallying by making notches in wood with every 20th, a deeper notch or score; in French (the word for 80 is quatre-vingts ie four twenties); Scots Gaelic and Danish counting in the past; as well as ancient Mayan and Aztec societies.

Chapter Two: Number Recording: Egyptian hieroglyphics; Sumerian and Babylonian cuneiform numerals, using base 10, base 60 (sexagesimal); Mayan Aztec symbols; Peruvian quipu (knotted cord); Chinese number symbols; Indian numbers; Ancient Greece (Attic/ Alexandrian) and Roman numerals.

Chapter Three: Early Calculating Devices: Abacus (used as long ago as the Ancient Egyptians and Babylonians); Chinese Counting Rods; and the Basics of Multiplication and Division.

Chapter Four:  The Modern Number System: Origins (Hindu-Arabic numerals); Early methods of Written Calculation (Hindu, Arabic and European);  Multiplication and Division methods; the development of Decimal Fractions; and the invention of Logarithms.

This is an interesting little book, which can be appreciated by lay people and non-mathematicians!

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For the gardeners amongst us, these next 3 books describe the history of plant collecting.

The Plant Hunters: Two Hundred Years of Adventure and Discovery Around the World by Toby Musgrave, Chris Gardner and Will Musgrave 2000

A wonderful tale of adventure, danger and derring-do, this book looks at two hundred years of plant discovery and collecting from Sir Joseph Banks’ three year journey around the world with Captain Cook on the Endeavour from 1768 to 1771 and Francis Masson’s investigations into the flora of South Africa, the Canary Islands, Portugal and North America to David Douglas’s explorations of North America; Joseph Hooker’s travels in Sikkim; the oriental botanical discoveries of Robert Fortune, Ernest Wilson, George Forrest and Frank Kingdon-Ward ; and the importance of the Veitch Nurseries, sending out William and Thomas Lobb to bring back new exotic plants for the Victorian nursery trade.

It contains beautiful colour photographs of the plants and locations throughout and inset boxes featuring specific plant discoveries at the end of each chapter, with details on the origin of each plant name; a description; size and distribution.BlogHxBooksReszd25%Image (540)

The Flower Chain: The Early Discovery of Australian Plants by Jill Duchess of Hamilton and Julia Bruce 1998

This small book traces the discovery and journey of appreciation of our unique Australian flora through the analogy of the ‘flower chain’ from Dampier’s picking of Sturt’s Desert Pea Swainsona formosa back in 1699; Sir Joseph Banks’ extensive collection in 1770; and Labillardière’s botanical collection for Empress Josephine and subsequent publication of Novae Hollandiae Plantarum Specimen in 1804; and finally, George Bentham’s Flora Australiensis in the late 1870s. BlogHxBooksReszd25%Image (541)

Along the way, it examines Australia’s unique flora: its dominant plant groups and adaptations to fire and drought and the cultivation of Australian plants, as well as the early plant collectors; classification and scientific nomenclature; and the Dutch, French and British explorers and early botanists. One such man was Ferdinand Von Müeller (1825 to 1896), the subject of the next book:

Collecting Ladies: Ferdinand Von Müeller and Women Botanical Artists by Penny Olsen 2013

Ferdinand Müller arrived in Australia in 1847 and during his pharmaceutical studies, developed a keen interest in botany, becoming the first Government Botanist of Victoria in 1853 and the first Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens of Melbourne in 1857.

He enlisted over 3000 collectors to gather plant specimens and extend the knowledge of their distribution and  habits, including a number of women, including Louisa Anne Meredith; Euphemia Henderson;  Fanny Anne Charsley; Anna Frances Walker; Harriet and Helena Scott; Louisa Atkinson; Fanny de Mole; Margaret Forrest; Ellis Rowan; Rosa Fiveash; Gertrude Lovegrove; Flora Martin and Marie Wehl.

Many of these ladies were also highly accomplished botanical artists, as attested by their beautiful colour plates in the book. I also loved the old black-and-white photographic portraits and reading all the finer details about the lives of these talented women.BlogHxBooksReszd25%Image (538)

While history can be viewed as a record of key events and developments, it is also the life journey of individual men and women and first-hand accounts are an invaluable source of information about the everyday lives of individuals within these historical periods. The final five books are excellent examples.

Local Australian History

A Fortunate Life by AB Facey 1981

AB Facey was born in 1894 and grew up on the Kalgoorlie goldfields and a farm in the wheat-belt of Western Australia. He received little formal education, starting his adult working life at the age of 8 years old, toiling on a farm and droving, before building railway lines and boxing in a travelling troupe. He fought at Gallipoli in the First World War, where he was injured, then returned to marriage and farming under the Soldier Settlement Scheme, before being forced off the land with the Great Depression and finally ending up working on the trams.

He taught himself to read and write at a young age and always kept notes about his life, publishing them originally for 20 family members, but suddenly achieving huge fame. Over 800 000 copies have been sold since its publication and it is now considered an Australian classic and is essential reading for courses in Australian history.

He writes simply and well with a no-nonsense approach and a great appreciation of his ‘fortunate life’, despite the extreme poverty, struggles for survival and just sheer hard work! But it is the story of our nation and our forebears, the ordinary individuals who created its history and national character, which is the reason it resonates so strongly with its readers.

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The Letters of Rachel Henning 1988

Written from a totally different perspective and an earlier period of Australian history, these letters written to and from Australia from 1853 to 1882 and published in the Bulletin in 1951 and 1952, 37 years after her death in 1914,  are equally fascinating!

Rachel Henning was born in 1826 and visited siblings in Australia in 1854, returning to England in 1856, but settling in Australia in 1861.

She had a keen eye for detail and was an excellent story-teller, so her accounts are a terrific record of the minutiae of daily life and her personal observations of these two very different countries, Victorian England and pioneering Australia, as well as life in the outback. It is so interesting reading about such a different time period, when transportation, communication, technology, entertainment and time scales were so different to our contemporary world.

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Tom Petrie’s Reminiscences of Early Queensland by Constance Campbell Petrie 1904/ 1975

This book goes even further back in history to the early European settlement of Australia. Tom Petrie’s family settled in Brisbane in 1837, when there were only ten houses and a large population of indigenous Australians.

Tom Petrie was born in 1831 and grew up playing with the local aboriginal children, absorbing their language, customs and mythology and observing many of their ceremonies and festivals. He recounted his memories to his daughter Constance, who published them in 1904.

It’s a wonderful ethnographic record of the original Australians and their way of life before European settlement.

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The final two books are very valuable to us personally as they are based in South-East Queensland, my husband’s childhood home, and cover the history of the famous O’Reilly family and their guesthouse, now known as O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat (https://oreillys.com.au/), as well as that of their Albert Valley neighbours, the pioneering Stephens family, my husband’s grandparents, parents, and aunts and uncles.

Green Mountains and Cullenbenbong by Bernard O’Reilly 1940 is a collection of memories from the O’Reilly family roots in the Kanimbla Valley, Blue Mountains, and their reestablishment on a rainforest block on the Macpherson Plateau in South-East Queensland, four years before the declaration of Lamington National Park.

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They were tough men and hard workers, so typical of those early years, and they forged a new life from scratch, clearing rainforest, making tracks, building a home, planting crops and establishing a highly successful tourism venture.  And while it was certainly hard work, they enjoyed full lives and appreciated all they had. Bernard had a deep love of his rainforest environment and all it inhabitants, as well as his family and friends and the Australian way of life, particularly in the country, now a ‘lost world’ to today’s generations!

Bernard actually named the crag above our valley (the right-hand branch of the Albert River) ‘Lost World’ and the development of his own tourism venture, ‘the Valley of the Lost World’, on the top paddock of our family farm in 1954, despite the twin setbacks of flooding and Cyclone Bertha, is recounted in the next book, while another shared family experience, the Stinson Disaster 1937, in which Bernard and the Stephens men played a pivotal role, is described at the start of this book. The text is supported by old black-and-white photographs from 1912 on, as well as quaint pen-and-ink illustrations and beautiful romantic poetry written by Bernard.

Over the Hills  by Bernard O’Reilly 1974 is a delightful book, again showing Bernard’s deep love of natural history and environment. His descriptions are so beautiful and it’s wonderful reading about an area you know and love so well! Again, there are lovely old black-and-white photographs and quotations. Both his books are wonderful tributes to the Old Australia of his youth, which he describes in the final sentence of ‘Green Mountains and Cullenbenbong’ as a time of adventure, after which ‘the world was never so big, so beautiful or so wonderful again’!BlogHxBooksReszd30%Image (589)

It’s still a pretty special world, though very different to Bernard’s day, and my next book post will be visiting some of the wonderful travel books we have in our library! Next week though, it’s back to some more favourite roses, the Hybrid Musks!

Answers:

Origin of Imports: South America; India; North America; China; Mexico; Indonesia; Peru; and Brazil.

Origins of Borrowed Words: Portuguese; Greek; Persian; Australian; French; Italian; High German; Hindustani; Welsh Gaelic; French; Portugal; Arabic ; Pacific Islands; High German; Italy; Hebrew; Sanskrit; French (Norman) ; Latin; and French.

 

 

 

Our Beautiful Earth : Part Six : Natural History Books : Lifestyle Bibles : Sustainability , Simple Living and Securing the Future

While it is easy to feel pessimistic about the future, there are still some wonderful organizations constantly working to improve the environment and state of the world. There are also many things you can do at an individual level, as pointed out by the following books in order of publication.

The 1970s was a period of growing awareness of the environment and a desire for self-reliance and individual creativity, qualities in danger of being lost in an increasingly technological and impersonal world. Here are two excellent books from that era.

Household Ecology by Julia Percivall and Pixie Burger  1973

An oldie, but a goodie, this well-thumbed paperback has almost fallen apart but, in keeping with its philosophy, is constantly re-mended and recycled!! It addresses the individual – what you can do yourself to effect change and help restore ecological balance, a huge task with our ever-increasing population, but every little bit counts!! It looks at :

Ecology in the marketplace: ecological shopping; laundry and household cleaners with appropriate more ecologically-friendly alternatives; and recycling discards;

Food for healthy living , including lots of recipes; sleep and exercise; food for particular situations and nature’s tranquilizers and destressors;

Seasonal adjustments and the climate indoors; natural air fresheners and deodorizers; preserving cut flowers; and house plants;

The medicine chest and natural beauty aids, again with lots of recipes;

Natural garden sprays and traps; encouraging birds and butterflies; companion planting, natural fertilisers, compost and mulches; and herb gardens;

Baby care; and child rearing to revere nature; and

A word on future prospects, although I fear that, despite some major gains (like not throwing rubbish out of car windows!), we have such a long way to go yet! This book however offers many valuable practical and possible solutions for those who do care about the future of our planet!BlogEnvtlBooksReszd40%Image (500) - Copy

In Celebration of Small Things by Sharon Cadwaller 1974

This useful book has many wonderful suggestions from making a container garden,  preserving fruit and vegetables and making wine and beer to simple sewing for the home, making furniture, doing electrical and plumbing repairs and wise supermarket shopping.

There is also a large section on honouring our natural environment, creating a more cooperative community and restoring ritual, all marvellous tenets for contemporary living. I also love the simple ink sketches by Anita Walker Scott, which compliment the delightful title of this book perfectly!BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (549)

The following books were particularly useful for farmers like ourselves at the time.

Water For Every Farm by PA Yeomens 1978

http://soilandhealth.org/wp-content/uploads/01aglibrary/010125yeomans/010125toc.html

In this landmark book, PA Yeomens (1904-1984) challenged conventional Australian farming practices with respect to water and soil fertility  in the 1940s and 1950s and designed a new agricultural system for water irrigation and storage, tree planting and maintaining (and even accelerating) soil fertility, which he called the Keyline System. It is a beautifully integrated system using the contours of the land to catch every drop of water falling on the farm, then redistribute it for pasture irrigation and growing vegetation strips, feeding the excess water by gravity into further storage dams at lower contour levels, as can be seen in this aerial photograph at Richmond (page 52-53 in the book), an area now sadly covered in urbanization. For a good grasp of his concept, see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qz6vhoOg4Hc.

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 Keyline Design concepts are now part of the curriculum of many sustainable agriculture courses throughout the world and were a key factor in the development of permaculture. In fact, Yeomens’ principles have been further refined by permaculture practitioners. See: http://www.permaculturenews.org/resources_files/KeylineArticle.pdf.

My husband and his brother, Peter, attended one of his Keyline workshops and visited dams in the Kiewa Valley (see YouTube link above) in Victoria, before following his principles back on their farm. In fact, Peter is actually in a photograph of participants in another book by Yeomens, The City Forest, discussed next, in which he extends his ideas beyond farms to the whole environment!

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The City Forest : The Keyline Plan for the Human Environment Revolution by PA Yeomens 1971

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This tiny book is another early call to arms, warning about the state of the environment back in the early 1970s, almost 50 years ago! After discussing the basic principles of his Keyline concept and advocating a return to small scale organic farming, Yeomens focuses on urban landscape design, advocating the use of his concepts and the planting of forests near and within cities to help with pollution, sewerage treatment and water management. Both very influential books!

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Wildlife in the Home Paddock by Roland Breckwoldt 1983

In his book, Roland Breckwoldt looks specifically at the Australian situation and encourages an awareness of wildlife on farms and management practices to accommodate them. He argues that apart from strong ethical and aesthetical reasons for preserving native flora and fauna, there are also economic benefits from learning to live with the land. For example : the maintenance of biodiversity and natural ecosystems.

There is still so much we don’t know about all the interactions and interconnectedness and interdependence of life forms, not to mention their special properties, which hold potential for future use like rainforest medicinal plants. Upsetting the natural balance by removing certain elements can have catastrophic effects on the local environment, not to mention farm productivity.

Management practices include tree planting and regeneration to enhance the appeal and value of the property and provide windbreaks and wildlife corridors; the adaptation of farm dams for waterfowl and freshwater fish; the controlled use of fire; and the management of problem animals like cockatoos in grain crops and wallabies in forest plantations, using ecological methods of pest control based on the species’ behaviour and habitat requirements rather than by shooting, poisoning or trapping, which can adversely affect other wildlife (see Silent Spring by Rachel Carson in last week’s post). A very worthwhile addition to the natural history library!BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (512)

While the 1980s were hailed as a period of affluence, many of us, especially small farmers (!) were still pottering along on low incomes and this next book was particularly useful.

Hard Times Handbook by Keith and Irene Smith 1984

Another classic by the founders of Earth Garden, one of the two pioneering Australian magazines devoted to self-sufficiency, organic gardening  and sustainability (the other was Grass Roots), both of which were started in the early 1970s and both of which are still published today. A self-sufficient lifestyle is a wealthy lifestyle in terms of creativity and well-being, but not materially, so this Hard Times Handbook provides invaluable suggestions for living cheaply in the city, conserving scarce resources, growing your own food and making healthy family meals, making and recycling clothes, saving energy and cost-cutting and surviving without a job.

It lists 21 steps for living simply, staying healthy and being happy, expounds its frugality theory and the joy of simple pleasures, and discusses survival strategies used during the Great Depression of the 1930s, all in the first two chapters.

The next section looks at emergency strategies for electricity failures and food shortages, followed by in-depth chapters on water, power, heating and cooling, recycling, backyard food growing, hard times tucker and lots of recipes and household hints for making cleaning and  beauty  and first aid products.

It’s a terrific little book with great suggestions, which are still very useful and pertinent today.

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Jackie French was also a regular contributor to Earth Garden and wrote many books, perfect for this post, but already reviewed in: https://candeloblooms.com/2017/03/23/books-on-specific-types-of-gardens-part-two-vegetable-gardens-sustainable-and-organic-gardens-and-dry-climate-gardens/ .

The Voluntary Simplicity movement of the 1990s, while already practiced by many, began to reach a wider audience with the following publications.

The Simple Living Guide : A Guide Book for Less Stressful, More Joyful Living by Janet  Luhrs  1997/2000

Simple living is about living deliberately.  Simple living is not about austerity, or frugality, or income level.  It’s about being fully aware of why you are living your particular life, and knowing that life is one you have chosen thoughtfully.  Simple living is about designing our lives to coincide with our ideals.” Janet Luhrs

Our first book on voluntary simplicity, a flood-damaged and recycled copy, bought from a secondhand bookshop and unfortunately, a subsequent victim of an over-enthusiastic purge in the interests of downsizing and simple living!!! Fortunately, it spawned its own website (https://simpleliving.com/book/), so we can still make the most of its concepts and wisdom without our own hardcopy!

The book examines the practical aspects of time, work, money, and housing: home and clutter, health and happiness, stress, family life, peace and love, and mindfulness and inspiration, backed up by a great blog on the website. See: https://simpleliving.com/blog/.

It provides strategies, inspiration, resources and real-life profiles of people, who have slowed down, overcome obstacles, and created richer lives. The only thing the website doesn’t replicate are the lovely graphics in the book! Here is another good book review of this excellent book: http://www.thesimpledollar.com/review-the-simple-living-guide/.

Timeless Simplicity : Creative Living in a Consumer Society by John Lane 2001

A more theoretical book about voluntary simplicity and Ross’s bible, to which he refers on an almost daily basis for inspiration and validation. I loved the little story about the fisherman and the industrialist at the beginning of the book (page 8), which illustrates this notion perfectly:BlogEnvtlBooks50%Image (647)This book has two themes: the quest for personal contentment and a better simpler quality of life; and the need for a more frugal lifestyle (due to the consequences of overpopulation, homogenization of our cultures, waste and dwindling resources) and a more equitable distribution of wealth.

John Lane was a chairman of the Dartington Hall Trust and involved in the founding of the Schumacher College in 1991 (https://www.schumachercollege.org.uk/).

Schumacher College is an international centre for transformative learning for sustainable living and offers holistic courses about social and environmental issues, inspired by E F Schumacher. Lecturers have included James Lovelock (founder of the Gaia concept), Deepak Chopra, Hazel Henderson, Rupert Sheldrake and Vandana Shiva. See last week’s post about Small is Beautiful: https://candeloblooms.com/2017/08/15/our-beautiful-earth-part-five-natural-history-books-environmental-challenges/.

In this book, John Lane examines a short history of simplicity from the ancient world and Christian ascetics to the Arts and Crafts Movement, promoted by John Ruskin and William Morris; and the writings of other advocates of the simple life like Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Leo Tolstoy. The Eastern religions of Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, and Taoism also advocated material moderation, mindfulness and spirituality. The current movement arose in the 1980s with Duane Elgin’s pioneering book about voluntary simplicity and sustainability. See: http://duaneelgin.com/books/.

He then examines the obstacles to simplicity : the fallacy that money makes you happy; mass conformity and beliefs; mass work, leisure and consumption; and life in the city.

The next chapter focuses on creative frugality and its rewards: rethinking your belief system; following your bliss; working for fulfilment; culling the unnecessary; reducing expenditure; setting limits; careful consumption; adopting a positive attitude; and living a slower pace of life.

The rewards of frugality include fidelity to oneself; living in the present; savouring the ordinary; a sense of place; companionship; the pleasure of listening and seeing; and the gifts of nature, play and creativity, love and laughter, and caring for the soul.

I love his notion of the sacred arts of life: imagination, creativity, individuality and beauty in the home;  the aesthetics and rituals associated with food preparation and mindful, thankful consumption; and the creation of a home and beautiful garden.

This is a very special book with a very important message. Despite our material wealth in the Western world, most people lead stressful lives, deprived of freedom, creativity and time, and while it may be difficult to get off the treadmill, it is possible if one changes one’s mindset and expectations to lead a simpler, more productive life. It is also essential for the survival of the planet and human life on Earth!BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (499)

Another way of securing the future is to ensure the next generation are environmentally aware and love nature, but firstly two seminal texts, which steered the way we approached our own children’s upbringing!

The Continuum Concept by Jean Liedloff  1975

One of the first books, along with The Magical Child, which I read on child rearing while breast feeding! Jean Liedloff  lived with a South American Indian Stone Age tribe in their jungle home for two and a half years, observing their way of life and child-rearing practices and radically altering her perceptions about human development.

She developed a theory called the continuum concept, in which human beings have an innate set of expectations, known as a continuum, which ensure the survival of the species by achieving optimal physical, mental, and emotional development and adaptability. To achieve this, young humans – especially babies – require the kind of experience to which our species adapted during the long evolution by natural selection, including :

Immediate placement, after birth, in their mothers’ arms;

Constant carrying or physical contact with other people (usually their mothers or fathers) in the several months after birth, as these adults go about their day-to-day business, allowing the child to observe and learn;

Co-sleeping in the parents’ bed for at least two years;

Breast feeding on cue;

Caregivers’ immediate and unconditional response to the infants’ urgent body signals; and

Trust and a sense of place and worth within the tribe, without making them the constant centre of attention.

She argues that in Western civilized cultures, which have removed themselves from the natural evolutionary process, certain evolutionary expectations are not met as infants and toddlers, resulting in compensatory behaviours and many forms of mental and social disorders.

For more on this interesting concept, see: http://www.continuum-concept.org/ and https://loveparenting.org/2013/02/25/continuum-parenting-and-attachment-parenting-whats-the-difference-and-what-is-love-parenting-really-all-about/. It certainly made a lot of sense to me and was much easier to read than my next book!!!

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The Magical Child  by Joseph Chilton Pearce 1979

A fascinating read about the different stages of mind-brain maturation and matrices the child experiences from the womb to adulthood and how modern life speeds up the process, often skipping essential stages for the development of the human brain, at detrimental costs to both the individual and society as a whole.

It is not an easy book to read, as one has to learn an entire new set of vocabulary in order to understand the concepts he wishes to discuss. Basically, the author believes that the human brain has not changed that much over the past 2000 years, even though our society and Western lifestyle has, and to fully develop the child’s potential and intelligence, it is essential that the time-honoured biological guidelines for brain maturation, based on a series of matrix formations and shifts, are followed.

Each matrix shift presents a range of unknown possibilities, challenges and experiences, resulting in the growth of intelligence, and progresses from the concrete to the more abstract, with each matrix shift being based on mastery of the old matrix. From the safe matrix of the womb, children progress to the world of the mother, then the earth (or natural world in its immediate vicinity, completed at around 7 years old), becoming increasingly independent over the next 4 years (7 to 11 years old) to complete autonomy by adolescence, when the mind-brain becomes its own matrix and source of power, possibility and safety.

He argues that much of our Western practices of child-rearing and education are preventing this logical development of the mind-brain, resulting in major problems like obsessive-compulsive attachment to material objects; a breakdown in interpersonal relationships; anxiety and stress; and far worse : autism; hyper-kinetic behaviour; childhood schizophrenia; and adolescent suicide.

These practices include:

Modern technological birthing practices; separating the mother and infant at birth; and using cribs and strollers rather than slings on the mother’s body;

Group childcare and formal education at a maturation stage, when they should still be playing and at home with their mother, gaining confidence in physical and mental abilities within a safe environment; and

Subjecting the child to information and experiences through education, TV, social media and inappropriate games, suited to a later stage, and inflicting them with our anxiety before their brains have developed sufficiently to absorb it all.

Throughout the book, he cites many examples of alternative child-rearing practices in less developed nations, where the child is far more advanced in maturation to Western children the same age.

A very thought-provoking read, especially for new parents and educators!

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Joseph Chilton Pearce develops his ideas about mind-brain development and the evolution of creativity further in the sequel to this book :

Evolution’s End by Joseph Chilton Pearce  1993.

In it, he argues that :

Hospital childbirth interferes with the natural child-mother bonding process, thus, in turn, impeding the potential for all other human bonds with parents, friends, spouse and society;

Daycare further dissociates the child from the mother, increasing the inability to bond and implanting a lifelong sense of alienation and isolation;

Television and premature formal education stifle spontaneous play and cripple the development of the imagination; and

Synthetic growth hormones used in meat, dairy and poultry products accumulate in children and accelerate physical and sexual development, while psychological and intellectual maturation is radically impaired.

He develops a  three-stage model of human development: heart-mind synchrony, which occurs in infancy; post-adolescent synchrony of the physical self and the creative process, which few of us attain; and a final mystical stage, nearly unknown, that “moves us beyond biology.”

Even more difficult to read than the former book, it needs a few readings to totally grasp his concepts, a feat which I must admit is a little beyond my limited intelligence!BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (496)

One of the best ways of encouraging children to appreciate their environment is to steep them in nature and natural history studies.

The Naturalist’s Handbook by Geoffrey C Watson 1962

Every child is naturally curious about the world around them. As Joseph Chilton Pearce pointed out, often today’s children are rushed through their natural stages of brain development and because of modern day factors, they too often skip the wonderful world of nature.

Today’s children are tomorrow’s naturalists and environmental advocates, so it is vitally important to introduce kids to the natural environment, if we still want a halfway decent world, in which to live. And it’s not only incredibly interesting, but it’s fun too!

This little British paperback, while small and old, still has some great ideas.

In Part One, it discusses comfort outdoors; maps and books; museums and natural history societies; and collecting and basic equipment, followed by chapters on animal detection (trails, tracks and signs); recording (field note book and logbooks) and identification.

Part Two becomes more specific with chapters on collecting rocks and fossils, plants and insects; watching birds and mammals; collecting reptiles, amphibians and shells and learning more about the seashore; and finally forming a nature club with a seasonal program of talks and activities. Observation, collecting, recording, identification, mounting and displaying, preservation and storage are all discussed in depth, as well as more specialist techniques, like making a plaster cast of a footprint or making a cabinet skin.

In the appendices are notes about the British Young Naturalists Association Merit Award Scheme, sadly now defunct, though I did notice awards for older British naturalists on : http://www.bna-naturalists.org/awards.html, including the Peter Scott Memorial Award, and the British Naturalists’ Association does do a lot of work with schools. See: http://www.bna-naturalists.org/education.html. However, there is no reason the guidelines to the different levels of the awards in this book could not be used for personal development!

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There are also useful lists of natural history books and magazines; sources for natural history equipment and supplies sources; natural history organizations, field study centres and bird observatories; and finally, British museums focusing on natural history, including the wonderful Natural History Museum in London, which we visited with our children in 1994 and where we bought our copy of the next book!

The Amateur Naturalist by Gerald and Lee Durrell 1982

We were reared on books written by Gerald Durrell (1925-1995), who was our generation’s equivalent to today’s David Attenborough. We were also lucky enough to visit his Rare and Endangered Species Zoo on Jersey on that same trip. See: https://www.jersey.com/durrell-wildlife-park and https://www.durrell.org/wildlife/visit/.

This wonderful practical guide to the natural world has a slightly different approach to the last book. Rather than dividing the topic up into the different components of natural history (rocks, insects, birds, shell etc), it explores all the different habitats from the home ground (always a good place to start!), to meadows and hedgerows; shrub and grasslands; desert and tundra; deciduous and coniferous woodlands; tropical forest; mountains; ponds and streams and marshland; coastal wetlands, cliffs and dunes; and smooth and rocky shores.

Throughout each entry are descriptions, illustrations and colour photographs of each habitat and its inhabitants, and suggestions for further exploration and experiments. For example, the section on Home Ground includes attics and cellars, spiders and mice and the garden and orchard and all its inhabitants, as well as signs of unseen guests; spiders and their webs; creating a wildlife garden; bird feeders and nesting boxes; and how to make a pitfall trap, while Meadows and Hedgerows includes information on butterfly flight patterns; collecting butterflies; attracting and trapping moths; making a plant profile and trapping and studying small mammals.

There is also an introductory chapter on becoming a naturalist with a brief history of evolution and ecology and information on essential equipment in the field, which is later expounded upon in depth in the back section of the book. Also covered in this section are the following topics:

Setting up a workroom;

Microscopes and dissection;

Home photography;

Preserving methods;

Plant anatomy; drying and pressing flowers; studying fungi, lichens, mosses and liverworts; bark, leaves and fruit; and tree anatomy;

Green houses and propagation;

Terrariums and aquariums;

Mounting and displaying specimens;

Feathers and nests;

Pellet identification;

Taxidermy;

Wildlife ponds;

Breeding butterflies and moths;

Wormeries and formicariums (ant farms);

Tadpoles;

Keeping animals; and the

Care of injured creatures.

The book finishes with a classification table of the different Kingdoms, with brief descriptions and illustrations; a chapter on the future; a glossary of natural history terms, suggestions for further reading and a list of useful addresses, including organizations, specialist bookshops and sources for equipment and supplies.

It’s a fascinating book and serves its subject well. One couldn’t fail to be absorbed and enthused by this wonderful book!BlogEnvtlBooksReszd25%Image (503)

It is also well worth reading his delightful and inspiring trilogy about his childhood and development as a naturalist in The Corfu Trilogy: My Family and Other Animals; Birds, Beasts and Relatives; and The Garden of the Gods; and the excellent authorized biography: Gerald Durrell by Douglas Botting 1999, from which I borrowed the quote at the bottom of this post from Page xv of the preface.

And finally, two inspirational books, celebrating our wonderful planet and its amazing natural history!

Observations of Wildlife by Peter Scott 2011

Peter Scott (1909-1989) is another conservation hero of ours, from a similar time period to Gerald Durrell. Son of Scott of the Antarctic and god-son of J.M Barrie (Peter Pan fame), Peter used his privilege and connections to further the cause of wildlife and environment, founding the Severn Wildfowl Trust, Slimbridge (now known as the Slimbridge Wetland Centre. See: http://www.wwt.org.uk/wetland-centres/slimbridge/), which we also visited in 1994 with our children, as well as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

In 1973, he was the first person to be knighted for services to conservation and the environment. Not only was he an environmental champion, but also lived life to the full, being an accomplished artist and the British National Gliding Champion in 1963 and a top yachtsman, winning a bronze medal for sailing in the 1936 Olympic Games. And he was modest and appreciative as well!!!

His watercolour paintings and sketches of wild geese, swans, ducks and coastal birds on land and in flight, as well as tropical fish, marine life and other animals are absolutely beautiful and accompany chapters about his life and love of birds; his development as an artist and naturalist; the founding of the Wildfowl Trust at Slimbridge and the WWF; his travels and encounters and his philosophy and concerns for the planet. A very beautiful book indeed!

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The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution by Richard Dawkins 2009

Highlighting the awe-inspiring wonders and beauty of nature and evolution, it was written as a counter-attack to creationists, followers of the erroneously-named ‘intelligent design’ and all those who still question evolution as a scientific fact.

Richard Dawkins supports the argument for evolution with living examples of natural selection in birds and insects, the time clocks of trees and radioactive dating, which calibrates a time scale for evolution to clues in the fossil record and molecular biology and molecular genetics.

Chapters cover scientific theory and fallibility; artificial selection and domestication; macroevolution; the age of the earth and the geological time scale; the fossil record; human evolution; developmental biology; biogeography and plate tectonics; the tree of life, homology and analogy; vestigiality and unintelligent design; and co-evolution and the evolutionary arms race.

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Richard Dawkins is so articulate and explains everything so clearly and rationally, both in his writing and verbal speeches. It is worth listening to the following YouTube clip, as a taster to the book: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PrgmHWg5wq0.

My next set of book posts in late September will be examining our origins and brief history on Planet Earth, but in the meantime, I am returning to our Winter Garden next week, followed by posts on one of my favourite types of Old Roses, the Noisettes and my most favourite Australian Old Rose garden of all : Walter Duncan’s Heritage Garden, at Clare, South Australia.

I will finish this post with an excerpt from this eloquent and beautiful letter (31 July 1978) from Gerald Durrell to his future wife Lee, which describes his awe and wonder of nature and our very special planet:

‘I have seen a thousand moons: harvest moons like golden coins, winter moons as white as ice chips, new moons like baby swans’ feathers…I have felt winds as tender and warm as a lover’s breath, winds straight from the South Pole, bleak and wailing like a lost child…I have known silence: the implacable stony silence of a deep cave; the silence when great music ends… I have heard tree frogs in an orchestration as complicated as Bach singing in a forest lit by a million emerald fireflies. I have heard the cobweb squeak of the bat, wolves baying at a Winter’s moon… I have seen hummingbirds flashing like opals round a tree of scarlet blooms. I have seen whales, black as tar, cushioned on a cornflower sea. I have lain in water warm as milk, soft as silk, while around me played a host of dolphins…All this I did without you. This was my loss…’

Landmark Birthdays: Part 1

On the eve of my birthday, I thought a post on landmark birthdays was appropriate! My birthday falls on the first day of Winter, which is special enough in itself, and while I enjoy all my birthdays, there have been 3 stand-outs : my 35th birthday in France, my 40th birthday on Lord Howe Island and my 49th birthday on Cape York in Queensland. The Lord Howe celebration was planned, but the other two just happened to be in exotic places, because my birthday fell during our travels. As this post is fairly long, I have divided it into two sections, which I will post either side of my birthday week. I have had such a lovely time writing and researching this post. It has been like having these holidays all over again!!!

The year I turned 35 was a pretty special year, not only because we eventually found our home in Armidale, as well as our country property at Dorrigo, but also because just prior to these purchases, we had a wonderful ten-week holiday in England and France with the whole family. Most of our major holidays have been at turning points of our lives, between leaving our old home and settling down in our new life, and this occasion was no different. We had been renting for a year, all the time searching for our new home unsuccessfully, so we decided to take a break and fulfill that long-held dream of taking the kids overseas.

It was a wonderful experience and even though there was the odd moment, it was fantastic travelling with young children. Because they were so young – all under 8 years of age – we were able to plan a nature-based trip, staying mainly in country areas, and were able to avoid places like Disney World! It also opened many doors to us, especially in France. The French love children and were so impressed that we had brought the entire family from such a long distance away, as well as the fact that I was able to communicate with them in their own language! Whenever we arrived at a new place, the kids would be whisked away by the hosts and plied with hot chocolate and croissants at the kitchen table while we unpacked or we would find them playing upstairs with the owners’ children or reading Tintin books in French.

We had so many amazing experiences from sailing on the Norfolk Broads in one of the original wherries; sitting with the puffins on the cliffs at the Fair Isle Bird Observatory; walking on the Cliffs of Hermaness with the bonxies and tysties; visiting Gerald Durrell’s Rare and Endangered Species Zoo on the island of Jersey, viewing prehistoric cave art 14000 years old in the Dordogne, watching pink flamingos feeding in the Camargue marshes;  and hiking in the Pyrenees amongst wildflowers. I have touched on some of these experiences in my post: My Love Affair With France. See: https://candeloblooms.com/2015/11/12/my-love-affair-with-france/.

BlogFranceLoveAffair30%ReszdIMG_0630BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (85)My 35th birthday in the Limoges countryside was definitely one of the highlights! We’d just spent the day exploring the beautiful potager gardens at Villandry and visiting Clos Lucé, the last home of Leonardo da Vinci, with models of all his amazing inventions (see photos above), and as we left the Loire Valley, I hinted to Ross at the possibility of spending the night in a château (see photo below) for my birthday, only to be told it was far too expensive!BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (86) We drove on and on along the scenic back roads of the alternative tourist route and by 8.30pm, we still hadn’t eaten dinner, nor found accommodation for the night!  In the evening light, we spotted a little chambre d’hôte sign on a tree, just south of La Trimouille. Proceeding down the tree-lined driveway, we discovered the beautiful old Château de Régnier.

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Because it was so late, we decided to enquire about the price , only to find that it was very reasonable and quite affordable! On asking about nearby restaurants, the hostess Anniq apologised profusely, saying that had she known that we were coming, she would have prepared us a meal. She also apologised for the overgrown state of the circular driveway lawn, which had not yet been mown for the upcoming hunt!BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (88)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (98) She phoned the local hotel, only to be told that dinner might not be possible because they had run out of bread! I suspect the kitchen may have been about to close! But no problem!  Anniq had a whole loaf, which she sent down with us to the hotel dining room. After a five-minute wait, a surly waitress clomped out and took the bread from us without a word, disappearing back into the kitchen. Not a menu in sight, so no difficult hassles translating menu meals! Out came the bread, now sliced, with a huge bowl of pâté and some sliced avocado. Thinking this was dinner, we bogged into the pâté, only to be surprised by a main course of beef and fried potatoes with a delicious red wine, fresh pears for dessert and then coffee, all without having to make any decisions!!!

Because it was my birthday the next day and also because we were down to our last clean clothes, the’ best’ outfits, we decided to spend another night at the château. Doing the laundry while travelling was always a hassle and I was dreading having to use a French laundromat, but Anniq insisted on washing all our dirty clothes herself in her laundry, set in one of the lovely old outbuildings, and hanging them out to dry in her bat-filled attic overnight.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (99)The next morning was warm and sunny and we had a lovely extended breakfast with lots of conversation and laughter. Anniq was a wonderful communicator and between our dodgy command of each other’s languages, we were still able to make ourselves understood, even discussing quite complex matters!BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (100) Ross gave me a beautiful green woollen cloak, which we’d bought in Ireland, and some lovely perfume. Anniq gave us a guided tour of the current château, built in 1820.  The original Château de Régnier was built in 1399 for the Loubes family, but it had been in the Liniers family for 5 generations since 1799.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (115) The château had 25 rooms, 5 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms and a small, disused, cobwebbed family chapel underneath our room (bottom photo). The walls were covered with an Aubusson tapestry and trophies from the hunt- stuffed birds, foxes, boars and deer. Anniq showed me her shell collection and her own hand-painted porcelain.

BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (101)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (89) - CopyBlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (89)Her husband Charles showed us the stables, laundry, machinery sheds and dairy, all housed in these superb old brick buildings. The bottom photo is of the gatehouse.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (91) - CopyBlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (90) - CopyThe kids ran all day, dressed in their Sunday best and gumboots, in the long grass with the family dogs, two friendly Weimaraners called Hamlet and Jean, and Ibis, a very active, visiting Jack Russell terrier, with whom Chris fell in love. He is in the photo below.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (90)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (92)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (93) After lunch, we wandered down to the creek, from where the château had the appearance of a ‘Sleeping Beauty’ castle!BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (95)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (91) I picked a bouquet of Summer wildflowers- buttercups, forget-me-knots, grasses and lots of pink, purple and white wild blooms, as well as a bunch of apple mint for dinner.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (94)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (97) The girls found a baby bird and waded in the creek.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (96)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (102) Of course, Chris fell in and ended up swimming in his clothes!BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (103)On our return to the château, Anniq made us a cup of tea with shortbread and we met an English couple, who had discovered this wonderful place a few years ago and now always called in en route to their holiday house in Spain each year. Because they could not speak French and Anniq’s English was limited (although she was attending English classes at night), whenever they called in,  Anniq would invite her neighbour Yvonne, who spoke excellent English, for dinner. Dear Anniq had made a special trip into Limoges to buy me a birthday present, as she didn’t have any spare hand-painted porcelain of her own to give me. She bought me a beautiful china terrine, decorated with French wildflowers, a cherished gift which I still have today. She also gave me a bouquet of her own pink roses- the first of the season.BlogLandmarkbirthdays20%Reszd2016-05-10 16.16.14My birthday dinner was amazing! An entrée of an egg, tomato and lettuce salad; a choice of roast pork or goose with fried potatoes, carrots and peas for our main course with a green salad made by Yvonne; and palate fresheners between courses and a different wine with each course.  The pièce de résistance was the homemade chocolate cake, aglow with candles and served with icecream, followed by a selection of cheeses and coffee. It was such a funny night! Both Brian, the Englishman, and Charles, the proud Frenchman, were very similar in character and neither was EVER going to learn one another’s language! They spent all night slinging off at each other in their own languages and Yvonne and I were very amused by their accuracy and similarities!

It was raining by the end of the night and as Yvonne departed, she invited us to visit her in her 11th century home at Courtevrault Manor the next day. It was amazing! Her bedroom, on the first floor next to the 11th century turret, was situated above a deep dungeon, accessed via a door on the ground floor and into which French soldiers would throw their English captives during the Hundred Years War. The depth and number of skeletons down there was unknown and did not unduly worry Yvonne!BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (104)

There was also a 13th century addition with a well underneath and the main house with 11 bedrooms, a stone-flagged kitchen and amazing artwork, including a painting by Raphael. Yvonne was obviously very well-connected!BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (105) She had her own gardener, who lived onsite, lit her kitchen fire every morning and kept her and his family in vegetables all year round.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (107) The vegetable garden and herb garden were huge and the flower garden filled with Old Roses and a huge Philadelphus shrub.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (106) There was also a dovecote, a pool and a creek, which ran through the garden.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (108)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (108) - Copy It certainly was an amazing opportunity, not often afforded to the normal tourist and a very memorable birthday!

Five years later, it was my 40th birthday and I wanted it to be equally special! I worked an extra job all year, sorting private mail boxes for Australia Post, in the wee hours of the morning – 4am on Mondays and 6am on the other weekdays. By the end of the year, I had earned enough to buy my coveted Bernina sewing machine and fund an 8 day trip to Lord Howe Island for the whole family to celebrate my 40th birthday. We had always wanted to visit Lord Howe Island. It is one of those very special places, especially if like us, you love nature, the environment, birds and bush walking.  It was listed on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1982. We took a small plane with Eastern Airlines on the 29th May out of Sydney and, after a 1.5 hour flight, had to circle the island twice until the winds were conducive to landing on the tiny airstrip in the middle of the island. We had an excellent view of Ball’s Pyramid, the world’s tallest sea stack at 551m, 26 km south of Lord Howe , as well as the lagoon and all the island landmarks.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (109)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (110)Before you can purchase your flight tickets, your accommodation must be pre-booked, as there is a limit of 400 visitors on the island at any one time. There is no camping on the island. Because we had the entire family with us, we booked a self-contained apartment at Hideaway Apartments on Middle Beach Rd, halfway up the hill from Joy’s shop. Because there are weight restrictions on luggage, you cannot bring your own food and supplies are very expensive, due to the fact that everything has to be brought in via the Island Trader. Consequently, our diet was fairly basic, until a departing couple of tourists left us the stuff they hadn’t used! There are few cars, so we walked everywhere or rented bicycles for longer trips. It was such a lovely free feeling, cycling with the breeze in your face, past aqua seas and tropical palms, and not a care in the world about cars or traffic!BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (111)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (112) We were so lucky with the weather too- sunny blue skies and no rain, unlike the mini-cyclone last week! Here is a link to the official brochure : http://lordhowe.com/files/2014/11/LHI-Holiday-Planner.pdf.

This brochure details the many walks on the island : http://www.lhib.nsw.gov.au/sites/lordhowe/files/public/images/documents/lhib/Tourism/LHI%20Walking%20Track%20Brochure%20-%20July%202014.pdf

and I have also included a map to give you an idea of some of the things we did from : https://www.lordhoweisland.info/travel-essentials/map-2/ Lord Howe Island MapOn our first day, we walked up to Clear Place to get our bearings and had a beautiful view of Muttonbird Island and Wolf Rocks. In the Valley of Shadows, the kids enjoyed playing in amongst the pendulous aerial roots and buttressed trunks of the massive Banyan trees (Ficus macrophylla subsp columnaris), whose long branches extended over a hectare (2 acres). There is also a forest of 40 feet high Kentia Palms (Howea forsteriana), one of 4 species of palms endemic to the island and the world’s most popular indoor palm for 120 years.

BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (121)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (116)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (114) The palm seed industry was started in 1906 with the formation of the Kentia Palm Seed and Plant Cooperative and is a key component of the island’s economy, along with tourism. See : http://lordhoweisland.info/library/palmseed.pdf. The Kentia Palm is a lowland palm. The other 3 endemic palms are :  Curly Palm (Howea belmoreana), another lowland palm, which grows slightly higher up;  Big Mountain Palm (Hedyscepe canterburyana), which grows from altitudes of 400m up to the summit of Mt Gower and Little Mountain Palm (Lepidorrhachis mooreana), which only grows on the summit.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (119)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (120) There are also some lovely specimens of Pandanus (Pandanus forsteri) with their long prop roots on the walk to Boat Harbour.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (118)

At Middle Beach, we came across 16 Landcare members planting 200 native trees for their Big Muttonbird Ground Project, which aimed to restore the natural bushland and nesting habitat of the migratory seabirds : the Flesh-footed Shearwater and the Black-Winged Petrel, both classified as vulnerable on the Threatened Species List for NSW. They were very appreciative of our help and wrote us up in the Lord Howe Island Signal, their local paper.

BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (117)BlogLandmarkbirthdays20%Reszd2016-05-09 12.29.09 - Copy We had lunch on the top of Transit Hill, which has a 360 degree view and was the site of the 1882 observation of the Transit of Venus across the sun. These photos are of the western side of the island: Mt. Gower; Blackburn Island; and the main area of settlement, looking across to the island and the lagoon.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (124)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (122)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (123) We saw our first Emerald Dove here. We loved the birdlife on Lord Howe Island. There are 180 species of birds on the island , which provides breeding sites for 32 species, of which 14 are sea birds and 18 are land birds. A good website to consult on the bird life of the island is : https://www.lordhoweisland.info/things-to-do/bird-watching/nature-calendar-2/ and http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/topics/wildlife/2014/12/birds-of-lord-howe-island . BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (125)Because of its isolation, bird species are often similar, but not quite the same as their mainland relatives. For example, the  Lord Howe Island Currawong has a longer, more pointed beak and totally different call to its Eastern Australian cousin, the Pied Currawong. The Lord Howe Island Silver-Eye is endemic to the island and has a white ring of feathers around its eye. It has a heavier build, larger feet and claws and a longer bill then the mainland Silver-Eye.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (126) The lack of natural predators meant that the birds had little fear and were easy targets when humans arrived in 1788, followed by rats in 1918, as well as introduced owls and feral cats. Their habitat was further destroyed by feral goats and pigs. For information on the island’s extinct birds, see : http://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/pages/e137ac48-41b7-4f69-9b60-359a0763c635/files/lord-howe.pdf  and http://www.lordhoweislandbirds.com/index.php/extinct-birds.

The Lord Howe Island Woodhen, a flightless rail endemic to the island, was brought to the very brink of extinction (less than 30 in late 1970s and restricted to 2 tiny populations on the inaccessible summits of Mount Lidgbird and Mount Gower), but thanks to a successful captive breeding program begun in 1980, they have increased in numbers ( 200 in 1997; 117 in 2001), though they are still considered a highly  endangered species. We saw this woodhen up on the top of Mt Gower. For more information on this lovely little bird, see : http://www.lordhoweisland.info/library/woodhen.pdf       and         http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/animals/TheLordHoweIslandWoodhen.htm.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (128)Then, there are the migratory birds, who return year after year to breed. Lord Howe Island is the only known breeding ground of the Providence Petrel, which arrives in March for its Winter breeding season (see photo below). The island is also the only breeding site in Eastern Australia of the Flesh-footed Shearwater, which breeds in large colonies on the forest floor between September and May. It is the only breeding location in Australia for the Kermadec Petrel and Grey Ternlet and is the most southerly breeding location in the world for the Sooty Tern, Common Noddy, Black Noddy and Masked Booby. The White Tern breeds on Lord Howe Island between October and April.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (127)The Red-tailed Tropic Birds are also Summer visitors, arriving in September from the North Pacific Ocean and performing their airborne courting rituals off Malabar Hill (208m), where we saw them on our second day. Lord Howe Island has the world’s largest breeding concentration of Red-tailed Tropic Birds. They nest on cliff ledges between Malabar Hill and North Head and head off late May back to the North Pacific Ocean.

BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (132)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (130)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (133)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (131)Looking to the  north from Malabar Hill, we could see the Admiralty Islands and to the east, Middle Beach (with Muttonbird Island in the background) and Ned’s Beach.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (115)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (135)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (134)We walked out to Kim’s Lookout, then headed back down to Old Settlement Beach, so called because it was the site of the first settlers in 1833. For more on the natural history, it is well worth consulting Ian Hutton’s website : http://lordhowe-tours.com.au/. Ian Hutton is the island’s resident naturalist and has written many scientific papers and over 20 books, as well as producing 3 videos about Lord Howe. He is a keen photographer and has run Lord Howe Island Nature Tours since the early 1990s.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (138)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (137)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (139)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (140)We had a beautiful day for my 40th birthday! It started with present-giving, including an unexpected bonus, when departing guests left us their food, including bottles of red wine and port! We spent a wonderful morning snorkelling down at Ned’s Beach.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (141)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (142) Lord Howe Island has Australia’s, and in fact the world’s, most southern coral reef ecosystem. Due to its location at the cross-roads of 5 major ocean currents and the influence of the warm East Australian Current, which flows south from the Great Barrier Reef to the Tasman Sea, the island has a rich and unique biodiversity of tropical, subtropical and temperate species, including 447 species of fish, 305 species of marine algae, 83 coral species and 65 species of echinoderms (sea stars and sea urchins), as well as sea turtles, dolphins and whales. There are over 60 world-class dive sites, including the spectacular Ball’s Pyramid, and most of which are only 10-20 minutes off shore. The alluring Admiralty Islands are home to 30 dive sites. See: http://www.prodivelordhoweisland.com.au/pages/admiralty-islands-dive-sites.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (113)We were blown away by the colourful corals, the bright green seaweed, the huge sea urchins and clams and the amazing variety of fish from rainbow coloured wrasses of pink-aqua-green or orange-yellow-green combinations with blue fins, blue double-header wrasses, black-and-yellow striped butterfly fish and purple striped fish to large schools of sea mullet. And that was only an nth of it! For a more in-depth look at the species list for Lord Howe Island, please consult : http://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/3ed1e470-6344-4c6f-b8f1-c0e9774ce639/files/lordhowe-plan.pdf.

It appears that there is a video for everything on Lord Howe Island and snorkelling is no exception, See : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZpluoFDqRE. Not so sure about the accompanying soundtrack though!!! Scuba divers might also enjoy : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SpwCwcBr8J4. The music is slightly better!

My birthday lunch was at the restaurant of the luxurious Capella South, now called Capella Lodge. It was delicious, especially the sticky date pudding, and having just watched the Getaway program on Capella Lodge, I feel extra lucky to have dined there, as the restaurant is now exclusively for Capella guests. See : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IvtnYMx6ovM.

BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (143)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (144)Through the restaurant windows, we looked straight up at Mt. Gower, our destination for the next day.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (146) We cycled down to the start of the track to check it out and saw our first, very quiet Lord Howe Island Woodhen in the wild. The air looked like it was full of little specks of ash, with all the Providence Petrels being buffeted about by the strong wind. We met an older fellow, Les, who had been in ill health for 4 years with heart problems and  Ménières Disease, a disorder which affects the inner ear and balance, resulting in tinnitus and attacks of vertigo, so we really hoped that he wasn’t going on the guided tour the next day!BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (145)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (147)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (150)The hike to the summit of Mt Gower (875m) is considered to be one of the 20  best walks in Australia. It’s a 14km round walk (7km straight up hill and 7km back!). Because of the rugged and often risky terrain, you can only access it with a guide and Jack Shick, our guide, is one of the most experienced on the island, having been a mountain guide for more than 20 years. See : http://www.lordhoweislandtours.net/.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (149)We started walking at 7.45 am, as the walk takes 8.5 hours to complete. There were 6 adults (including our guide) and our 3 kids and yes, Les was there!!! He was determined to prove his doctor wrong, but it did slow things down a bit, especially on our return, and meant that we were often looking after Les, instead of keeping an eye on the children!!!  Luckily, they are an adventurous lot and fairly sure-footed when it comes to outdoor activities. It was such a great adventure for them.

The first lesson was climbing a Kentia Palm. Being a 5th generation islander, Jack was a master, but Chris quickly got the hang of it!BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (151)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (152)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (148)Once everyone had arrived, we started on the track, ascending quite quickly to the first challenge of the day- the Lower Road, where we had to don our helmets and follow a rope along the edge of the black volcanic cliff, with a sheer drop of over 100m to the sea below! You can see the ledge in the photo above , as well as photos 1 and 3 below.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (153)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (155)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (154)We came to a clearing at Pandanus-lined Erskine’s Creek , where I surprised a feral mother goat and her two black kids and found a freshly-laid Muttonbird egg.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (158)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (162)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (159) We then walked up through a forest to the saddle and then finally, the Get-Up Place, where there is a rope to help you pull yourself up the incredibly steep slope. Below is a photo of my family with a much younger Jack and Les on the far left.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (157)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (160)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (161) From the summit, there are incredible views out over all the island and the ash-speckled sky is filled with Providence Petrels (Pterodroma solandri) , wheeling and whittering to each other. This photo shows the view to the north over the rest of the island. BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (164) These gentle, trusting birds can be called out of the sky, to land with a heavy thud at your feet and then be picked up and cuddled. David Attenborough has recorded them falling from the sky in this video : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UgHch5Bg9Jg. It is such a special experience to hold these fearless birds in your hand, a little akin to our experience sitting with the Puffins on the cliffs at the Fair Isles. See : https://candeloblooms.com/2015/09/17/when-the-king-comes-to-tea/.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (166)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (165)The summit is covered with 52 acres of mist forest with Dendrobium moorei orchids in full bloom, elkhorns, ferns and mosses, wet fungi bells, the Little Mountain Palm (Lepidorrhachis mooreana) in red berry, Green Plums (Atractocarpus stipula, the endemic Hotbark (Zygogynum howeanum) with its chilli flavoured bark, the Fitzgeraldii tree (Dracophyllum fitzgeraldii) and the endemic Scalybark (Syzygium fullagarii) with its sharp, deep red fruit, high in vitamin C. The photos below show a mist-covered Mt Gower; a forest covered Mt Lidgbird; and the orchid Dendrobium moorei in full bloom.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (168)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (163)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (167) The vegetation on Lord Howe Island is also very special, with half of the island’s 241 native plant species being found nowhere else in the world. Overall, there are 52 tree species; 24 shrub species; 24 creeper species; 12 orchid species; 28 grasses and sedges; 48 herb species, 56 fern species and 105 moss species. There are at least 100 different types of fungi. For more information about the vegetation, see : http://www.lordhoweisland.info/library/plantlife.pdf and http://lordhowe-tours.com.au/biodiversity/plants/.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (170)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (172)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (169)The high degree of endemism (up to 60 per cent in some groups) is also found in the invertebrate population with over 1600 species. There are 157 species of land and freshwater snails; 21 species of earthworms; 515 species of beetles; 27 species of ants; 137 species of butterflies and moths and 71 species of springtails. As with all oceanic islands, there are few vertebrate land animals, apart from birds. There are only 3 on Lord Howe Island : a small insect-eating bat; a gecko and a skink, both of which are endemic to the island. There are no native frogs or terrestrial mammals on the island.

Even though he is looking a little older than in our photos, it is worth watching this video, produced by Jack, to get a feel for the climb: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lRkb24DPjE0. We were so exhausted at the end of the day we fell straight to sleep at the start of The English Patient, a film we had not seen and which we had rented out on video at enormous cost, especially for my birthday! We woke up early at 6am the next day to watch it before its return!

We were so stiff and sore and very very tired, so we were fair game for the spruikers and easily convinced to join Ron’s Rambles boat trip around the island!  The boat was overcrowded with 40 people crammed in and the weather rough with a giant swell, so most of us (but NOT Ross!) were very seasick. Still, we did get to see the island from a different angle, but I was pleased to get back on dry land, safe and sound! This jaunty video was taken on a far better day, but will give you a bit of a feel for exploring the island by boat : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FXcN2ZhzosM.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (171)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (173)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (175)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (174)

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Ball’s Pyramid by sea

Still sore the following morning,  we had a low-key day : viewing the Woodhen breeding enclosure at Stevens Reserve, swimming at Lagoon Bay and Blinky Beach and visiting Lovers Bay and the rock pools of Middle Beach, where we saw Turbans, Sea Urchins, Nerites, black-and-white Cone shells and coral. We fed the fish at Ned’s Beach: Silver Drummers, Mullet and enormous King Fish. This amusing video will give you an idea: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9NbtNtlYf4U.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (177)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (180)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (179)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (183)We finished with an evening of jazz and dinner at Pinetrees Lodge, the largest and oldest resort on the island , having housed guests since 1895 and now run by the 6th generation of the original family.

Yet to explore Mt Eliza (147m) and North Bay, we cunningly decided to hire sea kayaks, so we could spare our still-sore legs! We had an easy and quick trip down to North Bay with the wind behind us, climbed Mt Eliza and explored the rock pools of Old Gulch, but at 3pm, when we started our return paddle, we discovered that the wind was now against us and it was strong!  We made little progress, so in desperation, we tied the kayaks together then, with much swearing and pushing, we finally inched our way past yachts, amused onlookers and the imminent arrival of the Island Trader, heading straight for us, back to the original beach. It was so good to get home and we’d achieved balance- now, our arms were as sore and stiff as our legs!!!BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (182)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (184)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (188)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (187)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (181)We went down to the wharf the next day to see the MV Island Trader (http://www.islandtrader.com.au/) being unloaded.  Owned and operated by the islanders, it makes fortnightly trips from Port Macquarie on the NSW coast and delivers all the islanders’ needs from groceries, building supplies and hardware to cars and furniture, and even a few passengers- though the trip takes much longer than flying!BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (185)  We revisited Old Settlement Beach, site of our other dream resort, Trader Nicks, now known as Arajilla Resort. If you had the money, it is so hard to choose between the two : Capella Lodge has the views, but Arajilla, nestled in amongst old Banyan trees, is closer to everything and has a lovely beach!  For information on Arajilla, see:  http://www.arajilla.com.au/ or http://lordhowe.com.au/.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (190)We watched White Terns wheeling in the sky and snorkellers in the Sylph’s Hole, then made our way back to Ned’s Beach to say goodbye.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (186) A Sacred Kingfisher farewelled us at the airport.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (191)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (189) We flew home that afternoon, having had the most magical island holiday – an unforgettable way to celebrate my 40th birthday!!BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (193)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (192)