to all of my readers.
I hope that you have a wonderful Christmas.
This year our Christmas has been very low key. Just my daughter home for a holiday, and my wife and I. Speaking of my daughter – she surprised us when she came home on Wednesday with a lovely set of three presents for us. In consultation with our son she bought us a new set of three bird baths. Many of the photos which appear on my other site Trevor’s Birding are taken of birds having a drink or a bath, including the photo above taken of a White-browed Woodswallow having a drink. This photo shows the old bird bath. It was taken on a very hot day last week.
Last night I went to the 11:30pm service at our church. This was a very moving service and a great way to see in Christmas Day. This morning we all ventured out again to our church service. Later we cooked up a storm for lunch: roast pork and vegetables on our barbecue. Despite the heat this went well. Today was the hottest Christmas Day we have had in South Australia since 1945. Thankfully our air conditioner coped well.
After our main course my wife served up the Christmas fruit pudding she made yesterday. Together with home made custard it was delicious. While none of us over-indulged, we all tried to read our books during the afternoon but sleepiness got the better of us. We all had a snooze. Thankfully, no noisy children or noisy toys in this household this Christmas. That will change next week when our son and family arrive from Sydney for three weeks.
Dinner was a repeat of lunch with a enough leftovers to go around. It was just as enjoyable as lunch.
Happy Christmas, everyone.
I have been planning on writing this article for a few days now, but world events have overtaken me. I just have to write this. The idea for this post started out being a review of a book – and I will do that, but the underlying story is much, much bigger. I was just going to write a simple, straight forward review of a novel for young people, but the news headlines of the last few days shout louder than any review.
The people of Syria are experiencing something I can never imagine. War in recent times has ravaged their beautiful country and continues to do so as I write. It is daily in our news broadcasts. I don’t know enough about the politics of the conflict to comment, but I do appreciate the massive humanitarian crisis which has developed over recent months, culminating in very recent events.
None can forget the image of the drowned body of a small boy on the beach. His family was one of millions attempting to escape the war zone. Many are heading towards European countries by any means possible. The scale of the tragedy is unimaginable. I cannot imagine a body of refugees the size of a large part of the Australian population migrating in part on foot with only a few hand-held possessions. I cannot begin to imagine what they are going through, the terror they must feel, the sense of dislocation, and the utter hopelessness of their actions. We cannot sit idly by and ignore their plight.
Only minutes ago I checked the news, and this morning the Australian Government announced that we will be accepting an additional 10,000 Syrian refugees into Australia. While this is good news, I feel that it is pitifully short of what we could, and should be doing. Double, or triple that amount would be more like it, in my opinion. In the same news bulletin the government announced that it is giving the go-ahead for our planes to join forces in bombing raids on Syria. I, like so many others, despair at news like this. This is not our conflict. Surely Australian involvement can only cause more suffering?
Book Review: “Zafir” written by Prue Mason. (Published by Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 2015.)
“Zafir” is another in the highly acclaimed series of novels in the “Through My Eyes” series for young adults. This series aims to tell first hand accounts of war zones through the eyes of children caught in conflict. Zafir, a young boy caught in the start of the conflict in Syria a few years ago, grapples with what war means to him, and how it impacts various members of his family. Not only are immediate family members injured, some are arrested and imprisoned without trial and many in the close, loving family are displaced persons in their own country.
When Zafir is on his way to school he sees a body dumped from a moving car. He is concerned that nobody stops to help and he is told to forget he ever saw it. The conflict he feels as a result, and the rapidly deteriorating situation politically and socially, brings a nervous uneasiness into his life, and the downward spiral into his family’s displacement begins. Add to this is the conflicting spiritual influences in his life and we observe his whole world collapse around him – literally due to bombing of his home, and metaphorically with the arrest of his father.
This is a fast moving, intense story which feels like an action movie, reads like an adventure story, confronts the reader with the reality of war and mirrors today’s newspapers and television news broadcasts. Highly recommended.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY to TREVOR’S BIRDING.
10 YEARS OLD TODAY
I started blogging about Australian Birds ten years ago today.
What an interesting journey. It has, in part, satisfied some of my writing dreams. Even though I have published over 4000 blog articles in that time, on this and other sites, it has still amazed me of the result. Over all of my sites I have had over a million pageviews, over 7000 comments, over half a million readers from over 200 countries and a steady, but modest, income stream.
Trevor’s Birding, a companion site to this one, features photos and articles about Australian birds. Over the years I have travelled to many places here in Australia to capture photos of our wonderful and colourful birds. I have also taken photos and written about some birds I have observed in other countries, like Thailand, Nepal, Ethiopia, Morocco, and Spain. This site actually started on another platform and has had several upgrades over the years. I am hoping for some exciting new developments in the coming months, so stay tuned.
Trevor’s Travels, another companion site I write, and this one features articles about and photos of places I visit. These articles cover several states of Australia as well as Thailand, Nepal, Ethiopia, Morocco and Spain. I have many more photos yet to share on that site too. This site celebrates its 10th birthday late this year.
Of course, the site you are reading at present, Trevor’s Writing, has its 10th birthday in March next year. Many more articles to come and some interesting developments in the coming months.
And did I mention I also maintain and do some of the writing for our church website here?
This all keeps me busy writing.
I hope you like the bird photos featured today.
Many people have a fascination with old vehicles. Some even spend great amounts of money to buy old cars and motor bikes and then spent countless hours restoring them, polishing them and sometimes even driving them.
This vintage truck was a part of the Taplan Railway Centenary celebrations in October 2013. Taplan is the small Murray Mallee town south east of Loxton in South Australia where I grew up on a wheat and sheep farm. My nephew and his sons still run the farm my father started in the 1920s.
The truck in the photo is being driven by Lance Pech from the farm next door to where I grew up. Lance and I grew up together going to the small one-teacher school at Taplan. He ended up working the farm with his father for many years. He was also very active in bringing together many of the elements of the special celebrations on the day I took the photo.
- Write a piece of fiction featuring this old farm truck as a central character.
- Write an imaginary piece from the point of view of the truck.
- Tell the life story of the truck, or its owners.
- Research what life was like in rural Australia in the early years, say, the 1920s. Write an article about the good times and the bad times.
- Write a story about the special events the truck has been a part of down through the decades.
- Write about some important tasks the truck may have contributed to during its working life.
- Write about a car enthusiast who found and restored this vehicle.
Over the years I have submitted quite a few poems and stories to writing competitions, with a moderate level of success. I should enter far more than I do because I have such a vast number of poems and a few stories that the only problem is actually choosing which pieces go where. I have also been intending sending off far more items to magazines and journals in the hope of being published.
To me there seems little point in all of that writing languishing unread and unloved on my hard-drive. I would encourage my readers to do the same. In the light of that I will include here details of some up and coming competitions and publishing opportunities. Here is the first one:
Submissions for this creative writing competition are now open and will close on March 6th 2015. Only one entry for each category – poetry and short story – is allowed per person. Unlike most competitions, entry for this one is free.
This is the second time this competition has been offered and I intend to submit a poem in the next day or so. I do not have a suitable story on the set theme “Hope against hope” and I am hoping that some inspiration will come my way in the next week or so.
When I was completing my Masters degree at Tabor a few years ago we often talked about the possibility of hosting a writing competition but nothing came of it then. It is therefore great to see it finally get off the ground and last year’s event was a huge success with hundreds of entries from all over Australia.
- The 2015 Tabor Adelaide Creative Writing Awards – for details, conditions and how to submit an entry.