Bluebells, Stone Circles and Haunted Woods

We have spent Easter taking our twelve-year-old daughter to England for the first time. I’ve returned with bluebell fields, stone circles, wishing trees, blue skies, gorse and spring flowers bursting within me. And, an idea for another book, which hopefully I’ll be able to start soon.

London Called & we Answered

London Called & we Answered

England always feels as if I’m returning home. My ancestor Adam Pennicott was sent to Tasmania as a convict (after time served at dreaded Bermuda penal colony). I always feel emotional returning to England. Apart from the fact that the country is part of my DNA, I grew up on a steady diet of English culture from Thames TV shows and many English books and magazines, in particular, Enid Blyton books, and so England always does feel (as a fellow writer, also on holidays in England, said) like the ‘Mother Country’. I had to to drag my daughter (a product of a more American-influenced childhood) home. She was just as emotional about having to leave as her Anglophile mother.

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This trip was especially magical. Daisy is a huge Harry Potter fan, and we toured the Warner Bros studio, spending seven hours marvelling over the talent behind the scenes of the HP movies.

I also managed to procure tickets to The Cursed Child parts One and Two, which is booked out until 2018. I just rocked up to the box office and asked the magical-looking ticket-seller if there was any chance of tickets (I feel forever grateful to this man; in my mind, he will be forever magical). By some synchronistic timing – read MIRACLE – someone had returned three tickets (for both parts, and on the only day we could attend) MOMENTS beforehand. Normally people queue in anticipation of any returned tickets on the day or vie for them online. The expression on my daughter’ s face when I walked out saying I had tickets for both shows was unforgettable.

TICKETS TO CURSED CHILD

I’d been working on manifesting that one from Australia for awhile. It was one of those Charlie wins the ticket to the Chocolate Factory moments.

THE CURSED CHILD

I’ve vowed to #keepthesecrets but the show itself is incredible.

KEEP THE SECRETS

The audience were all on their feet, cheering at the end to give a well-deserved standing ovation to the cast. My friend at the box-office said the show will be around for a very long time, so if you’re planning a trip to the UK, try to see it!

LOST GARDENS OF HELIGAN

Equally as magical was The Lost Gardens of Heligan. I’ve always longed to tiptoe past the Sleeping Giants and see the walled gardens of this secret garden. Seeing it in Spring was beautiful but I suspect Winter or any of the seasons would be perfect.

BOSCASTLE

We returned to Boscastle in Cornwall and I spent many happy hours in The Witchcraft Museum. I love this unique Museum for its vast, informative collection of British Esoteric objects and Folklore.

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Boscastle is my spiritual home in England. I feel a deep affinity to the Cornish sea and landscape and there is something enchanted about that village! We’ve had mystical experiences with toads and people in its twisted, narrow laneways. It’s the sort of village where celebrities like Johnny Depp visit the Witchcraft Museum, without fuss and everybody is treated equally. It was in Boscastle that I heard the strong siren-call of another book. This one is a mythical fantasy which should please the readers who still ask if I ever intend to do another fantasy book. I’ve always believed that fantastical books call you when the time is right, and an idea has been nagging at me since Cornwall, although an early idea had come to me in London as well.

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But I also love the moors and I really enjoyed visiting Dartmoor for the first time, to make a pilgrimage to mysterious Wistman’s Wood, a prehistoric woodland, one of Britain’s oldest oak groves, where Druids hold sacred rituals and there are legends about hounds haunting the moors and other eerie tales. Despite its reputation of being one of Dartmoor’s most haunted places, I found Wistman’s Woods a peaceful place and I even did my Transcendental Meditation on a large rock in the middle of the grove. Being amongst the gnarled, dwarf oak trees and large stones was atmospheric. I loved our long walk across the moors with the bright gorse. It reminded me of my childhood in the midlands of Tasmania with the spectacular views. I could hear Emily Bronte in my mind.

MOORS WALK

No Coward Soul Is Mine

BY EMILY BRONTË

No coward soul is mine

No trembler in the world’s storm-troubled sphere

I see Heaven’s glories shine

And Faith shines equal arming me from Fear

O God within my breast

Almighty ever-present Deity

Life, that in me hast rest,

As I Undying Life, have power in Thee

Vain are the thousand creeds

That move men’s hearts, unutterably vain,

Worthless as withered weeds

Or idlest froth amid the boundless main

To waken doubt in one

Holding so fast by thy infinity,

So surely anchored on

The steadfast rock of Immortality.

With wide-embracing love

Thy spirit animates eternal years

Pervades and broods above,

Changes, sustains, dissolves, creates and rears

Though earth and moon were gone

And suns and universes ceased to be

And Thou wert left alone

Every Existence would exist in thee

There is not room for Death

Nor atom that his might could render void

Since thou art Being and Breath

And what thou art may never be destroyed.

Two weeks felt like two months as we experienced so much. I shall upload a few albums on my personal page on Facebook of some the places we visited and I hope to write here about some of the highlights relating to my work, including a special day at Agatha Christie’s holiday home in Greenway. I’ve posted a handful of photos on my Instagram and I shall also be uploading albums to my personal Facebook page. So please connect with me, or friend me there, if you’re interested.

TOURIST SHOT

There’s only one cure for my sadness about such a special holiday being over and that’s to throw myself back into my writing. And begin manifesting the next.

With friends in Avebury on our last day

With friends in Avebury on our last day

Boscastle, and ancient Wishing Tree in Avebury, I hope it won’t be too long before the path reunites us.

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Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter if you are interested in my New Moon musings. I haven’t been sending a lot lately as with this Taurus New Moon, I’ve been recovering from all the excitement of my trip. And so I won’t be flooding your inbox, but I do plan to send out my New Moon musings once I settle back in.

Love from Above the Clouds,

Josephine xx

 

 

 

Magicians and Hermits

Hello,
Thank you for your support of my online journal this year and also to those who signed up to my newsletter. Hopefully in 2017, I’ll actually send out a ‘proper’ newsletter. I also aim to return to my Rhino interview series, and review more books online that I read, but I’m the mother of an eleven-year-old girl with limited time and I’ll always prefer to put my energy into creating my tales.
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It has been a beast of a year for so many, including my family, but I’ve continued writing throughout all the chaos. I finished The Secret Echoes, my mystery novel set in Tasmania.
This book is set between three time periods of 1800s, 1920s and 1950s and shows the impact on a Tasmanian riverside village in 1949, when the town’s most beautiful girl is murdered. I also am halfway through a psychological thriller which is an idea I’ve nursed for several years. This book has been coming out very quickly and I’m trying to let that process happen. Here’s a tarot reading I did one morning in a query to my current work. I loved its potent accuracy – the Magician and the Hermit.
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My daughter is starting high school next year and we have a couple of holidays planned. We will return to our much loved Heron Island and we’re also heading to London for a family short break, which I’m excited about.
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If 1916 was also a painful and tumultuous year for you, take heart from the J.K Rowling’s Twitter feed who posted a series of twelve tweets in response to followers who were experiencing really tough times: “At this time of year, we’re bombarded with images of perfect lives, which bear as little relation to reality as tinsel does to gold. If you’re lucky enough to be with the people you love, warm and safe with enough to eat, I’m sure you feel as blessed as I do. But if your life is currently full of difficulties; if you aren’t where you want to be, either literally or figuratively, remember that extraordinary transformations are possible. Everything changes. Nothing is forever. Thinking back to my worst Christmas, I found it hard to believe that my unhappiness would pass. I was truly afraid of the future. You never know what the future holds. Astonishing reversals of fortune happen every minute. So if you’re sad, or lonely, or bereaved, or ill, separated from  your loved ones or in any other way suffering this Christmas, I send you love and wish luck and better times. Millions of us have been where you are now.”
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I’ve included several photos from the night I did a reading at the atmospheric pop-up venue in Sydney, Stoneleigh 50.
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I loved this night and the chance to read from my gothic novel in a setting that looked like Miss Havisham’s attic.
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Thank you to everyone who attended and listened so avidly to the readings. Also, to Better Read than Dead bookshop for the invitation and for all they do for Australian authors. It was great to connect with the audience and also fellow authors Sulari Gentill, Anna Westbrook and Alexandra Joel. I am seated next to the wonderful Stephanie Beck, Events and Marketing Manager from Better Read than Dead Bookshop.
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It was an enchanted night of mystery, intrigue, plants, wine and storytelling.
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There are only a few things I miss about life in Sydney – Better Read than Dead bookshop, my women’s circle at Dickson Street, and the smell of the sea in the air.
One thing that has been positive about 2016 was I’ve never regretted moving to the country. We love our life above the clouds with the silence, birdlife, mists over the valleys, dramatic storms and sparkling mountain air.
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My husband took this photo from Govett’s Leap and I posted it on the Solstice. Wishing you on this Capricorn New Moon, all peace, joy and positive vibes for 2017.  I think Liz Taylor, as always, provided the inspiration I really needed this year.
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Love, Light and Capricorn Moonshine,
Josephine

Swans, Secrets and Shadows

It is the school holidays. I’m the first awake as my family were all up late last night. My eleven-year-old girl read The Cursed Child in bed with a torch till past midnight. She has re-read this book over ten times since we bought it for her. J.K Rowling’s world has meant to much to her over the years, just as Enid Blyton formed my childhood joy and provided solace in tough times.

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Outside, the weather is bleak and a wind blows hard, making the trees shake around the house. We are hoping for snow to fall in the Blue Mountains, despite the fact we are now in October. Snowfalls are still possible in early Spring when you live above the clouds.

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It was vastly different weather conditions in January, 2014, when I sat by the river in Richmond, Tasmania, on a family holiday watching the golden sunlight and the shadows dapple and form patterns on the water.

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As with several of my books, an image came to me as swans glided past. I was luxuriating in the peace of the convict-built bridge and village – a place so seemingly tranquil, but which contained shadows.

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The scene that came to me was of a young man sitting by the river writing a note, confessing to a crime he believes he is guilty of. Two girls rowing a boat on the water sing ‘Buttons and Bows’ and suddenly the serenity of the sleepy Tasmanian hamlet is shattered when one of the girl’s oars snags on a floating body.

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This was the beginning of The Secret Echoes, which I just finished this week. From the very start, I knew it would contain certain elements: the golden Tasmanian sunshine and mellow light, a bridge that harboured secrets, a supposed ghost that haunted the bridge, letters, a poison-pen writer, the death of the town’s most popular golden girl. Swans, secrets and shadows. I couldn’t wait to start writing to discover who the body was in the river and whether the boy confessing to the crimes was as guilty as he believed. The working title of the book was Sweetwater.

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As the book progressed those elements remained but it took an unexpected journey. I always knew I wanted to set it in the 1950s, but a 1920s thread also felt strong and a few months into writing, a fairly minor character in the 1880s became increasingly insistent to be featured more. This put the book back about six months, as I had to put it aside to research 1800s Australia before I felt confident about being able to portray this headstrong character and her life and times.

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My journal entry for August, 2014 records I had just begun the first draft.

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I could not have conceived at that time how dramatically different my life would be from that day I began the opening scene. My family faced several major challenges: we moved house from the city to the country. In our city life we had to deal with bullying developers, bullying children (and their even worse bullying mothers) and a health diagnosis for one member of our family that was shattering.

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But throughout the chaos, I kept returning to the book and although it took me a few months longer than planned, I was delighted to finish the final segment, Wattle Dreaming, this week of The Secret Echoes.

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I hope it makes it way with confident strong legs out into the world and finds a readership. With the New Moon (the Black Moon) just having passed us, I made wishes and blessings for its journey. And I’m excited to begin the next book, which has been calling impatiently to me for years.

Love and Light,

From above the clouds,

Josephine

 

Carried away by the Current

The trees in the village are ablaze with Autumn colours. It’s like you’re in fairyland when the leaves fall around you. I walk everywhere on a scrunchy carpet of leaves.

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Carloads of tourists arrive to photograph our streets.   I relish feeling the dip in the seasons. We have farewelled daylight savings. The nights draw in faster and the days have a chilly bite.

Our neighbour informs us that there’s a local saying that winter arrives with Anzac Day. It appears to be true.    I love Autumn – the transition season but it can also bring a melancholy with the change in light.

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I’ve been living a hermit life (as much as possible with an eleven-year-old daughter) to complete my current book.   My agent is really enthusiastic about the chapters she’s read. My husband, David thinks it’s the ‘best one yet’ – which is what every writer wants to hear. Technically, it’s been a challenge as I’m working with three time periods (the 1800s, 1920s and 1950).   Thank you to readers who have written to me, or commented on my social media, saying how much they are looking forward to this book. The feedback means everything.

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I would like to share this photograph I took in Sydney recently on an outing with my daughter to the Museum of Contemporary Art. This beautiful mer-child with the body of a child and the head of an ancient fish is called “To be carried away by the current, to be dissolved in the other.” The artist is Sangetta Sandrasegar.

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The work is a comment on our changing relationship to the sea brought about by technology. Also, the disappearance of our marine-life and our move away from mythology and old sea-tales. I love her brooding power as she watches a bustling Sydney harbour and the passing clouds, unnoticed by the crowds below her.  You can read more on this piece HERE.    I share the artist’s thoughts on our increasing detachment from myths and nature.

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I find it essential to my own balance to acknowledge seasons and moon cycles. When friends have commented on my passion for comparative religions and ritual, I think of Joseph Campbell’s quote that if you want to know what a society is like without its rituals – read the New York Times.

Here is a photo of a simple ritual my daughter and I did for the New Moon.

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We attended our first Lithgow Ironfest which was a colour and enjoyable day with artisans, jousting, knights, battle re-enactments, steampunks and 1940s army nurses – an enjoyable contrast to the crowds and materialism of the annual Sydney Easter Show.

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We’ve also been attending quite a few sessions at our favourite mountains cinema. Mount Vic Flicks is a traditional cinema experience plus the best hot soup in mugs. Once the manager even delayed putting the movie on to give patrons down the highway a chance to make the movie in time as the traffic was heavy. It’s these olde world courtesies that make our new mountain life such a pleasure.

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I’ve also been reading a lot. I keep wanting to have time to write a post featuring the books I’ve read this year but with trying to finish my own book at the moment it’s been impossible. But it’s a long list with thrillers and mysteries comprising the bulk.    I love staring up at the stars which blaze in a way unimagined in the city. It’s so easy to let go of the trivia and dust of everyday life when you view Saturn through the telescope.

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Coral Dreaming

We are now back in Sydney,  still reflecting over Heron Island’s turquoise sea and sky, and the ever-gliding shadows in the ocean of sharks, sting-rays and turtles.

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Heron Island, one of the great natural wonders of the world,  is a coral cay which began forming around 6000 years ago. Situated off the Queensland coast, Heron has been described by David Attenborough as one of his favourite places to see marine wildlife up close. The island is small; it takes about 20 minutes to walk it (double that time when we were with our ten-year-old daughter at night on our turtle hatchling expeditions). We chose Heron  to retreat and recharge because there’s no technology there and we were all longing for a break from Wi-Fi and computer screens. Plus, it was turtle hatching time and who can resist baby turtles born in the wild?

Dawn

Dawn

 

I miss circumnavigating the island’s white sands. I loved being in that world of primary-coloured crayon blue sky and sea. If I close my eyes now and attempt to block out the traffic and the workmen’s constant drilling from the factories surrounding me, I can hear a faint lapping of water, and feel within me the elegant unexpected beauty of a turtle swimming past and the graceful otherworldly shapes of the stingrays in their exquisite ocean glide.

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I have emerged like the little mermaid from Hans Christian Andersen’s tale from an enchanted underwater world of coral forests, exotic fish and – onshore – luxuriant green foliage that parasolled us overhead in a magnificent jungle. Heron Island is home to up to 100,000 birds. At night the shearwaters return from the sea and the calls to their waiting children sound like the eerie screech of restless, uneasy ghosts.

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We wandered for five days in a tourist postcard of Australia, marvelling over this parallel tropical world as we swam with reef sharks and stingrays. We even saw a manta ray on the semi-submersible boat tour of the reef.

reef sharks

reef sharks

 

As Daisy and David snorkelled out trying to find sharks, I was paddling around knee deep trying to avoid them (the sharks). Then I realised I was surrounded by what looked like twenty fins. For years I’ve had a severe shark phobia, but once you’ve experienced them around you and realise these reef sharks are not interested in you as dinner, then you form a new respect towards these elegant and fascinating beings.

with David Levell

with David Levell

 

We cheered on baby turtles as they hatched, making their plucky and courageous dash to the ocean. Some sadly were snatched instantly by the waiting sharks, but others were taken by the current to hopefully travel the world before they miraculously return to their original hatching place.

 

Daisy loved the Junior Rangers programme and made good friends amongst the children there. They called themselves The Clan and bonded immediately over turtles hatching and snorkelling with sharks. Daisy is still thrilled she managed to snorkel with her new friends out to the shipwreck that serves as a breakwater.

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Walking on the beach one night, my daughter cried out as a baby turtle fell from the sky at her feet, obviously dropped by a bird. We watched in awe as it managed to upend itself the correct way and continue its journey to the sea. My daughter christened that turtle Lucky and we vowed to return at the same time in 30 years to see if Lucky would return to her original hatching place.

 

 

It’s hard to believe that in the 1920s Heron Island was a turtle cannery and in the 1950s tourists rode  the turtles for sport. Thankfully, turtle riding was outlawed circa 1960.

turtle riding in the 50s

Turtle riding in the 50s

And so we are back in Sydney. The jackhammers are jarring as the workmen dismantle the shoe factory next door to make yet more flats and shops. The city seems a grotesque heavy charcoal drawing next to the primary-coloured island with its pristine air and breathtaking scenery.

David going diving with dive masters Jo and Jimmy

David going diving with dive masters Jo and Jimmy

 

I hope it is not too long before we make that journey over the sea to Heron Island and enjoy the island’s “Welcome” cocktail. I watched Heron disappear from the boat as we left,  farewelling sadly that magical coral cay with its turquoise waters and sea life until it became a distant faint smudge on the horizon.

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I could have sat on the sand forever watching the marine life circle the island, listening to the call of birds and staring into the shimmering dramatic blue that stretched forever. But I should feel lucky to have seen it at all.

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It’s been sobering learning from the guides on Heron Island about how the impact of global warming and mankind’s impact has had a noticeably detrimental effect on the reef. We are all part of the same web and, as legendary marine biologist and oceanographer Sylvia Earle warned in the papers this week: “If you like to breathe, listen up, the message is to protect the ocean as if your life depends upon it, because it really does. No ocean, no life. We’re so concerned about the green movement, but without the ocean, there’s nothing there. No blue, no green.”

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Art, Death and Secret Gardens

Hello, October is my birthday month, and in Australia, Spring is carolling the senses. I love the transitional times of nature seasons and Spring always feels optimistic and burgeoning with new possibilities and change.   My family spent a garden-filled school holidays exploring not-so Secret Gardens in Sydney and the Blue Mountains. A SECRET GARDEN     SEcret garden   We have just introduced our daughter to the book and film of The Secret Garden, and we were looking for inspiration for our own Secret Garden.

Art-deco building at Lavender Bay

Art-deco building at Lavender Bay

 

image of Wendy by Graham Jepson

image of Wendy by Graham Jepson

We finally had a family day out at Wendy Whiteley’s magical garden at Lavender Bay. Wendy, grieving the tragic death of her only daughter Arkie, began landscaping the neglected plot of land in front of her Lavender Bay terrace.

Arkie Whiteley with her grandmother

Arkie Whiteley with her grandmother

TheAge_2001Dec21_p4 In the process of working through her grief, Wendy created a tranquil sanctuary enjoyed by many today. IMG_8857 The land which ran alongside the railway track and owned by the NSW Railway Corporation had been overlooked despite its jawdropping harbour views and proximity to Sydney’s Luna Park. IMG_8849   In an early and inspiring example of guerrilla gardening, Wendy began the transformative process of creating an oasis where office-workers and families could recharge. IMG_8885 IMG_8854 A place with so much green energy that the screams from Luna Park doesn’t diminish its nurturing effect. New birdlife now visits the area thanks to the garden. Palm and fig trees jut out from a steep cliff which has been landscaped beautifully with rocks. IMG_8838 There’s a special energy to this garden where it’s easy to imagine nature devas and fairies frolicking. IMG_8883 IMG_8851   IMG_8804 With its superb views, and magical touches in the form of bells, hidden bird-feeders and Asian statues, it’s a serene spot to contemplate life, enjoy loved ones  and soak up the best of Sydney. IMG_8877 IMG_8839   The ashes of Wendy’s husband, well-known artist Brett Whiteley, who died of a heroin overdose in 1992 and also the ashes of their daughter Arkie, are buried in the garden in a secret spot.

Brett Whiteley

Brett Whiteley

PAINTING BRETT WHITELEY The garden has come to mean a lot to Sydneysiders. Wendy was a promising art student who later became famous as her husband’s muse, but her creativity and vision with her garden will make a lasting difference to the city of Sydney.

Arkie under the shower painting by Brett Whiteley

Arkie under the shower painting by Brett Whiteley

ARKIE I’ve long been fascinated by Arkie Whiteley, who was beautiful, talented and spoken of very highly by everyone who connected with her. Only recently David and I watched her in Gallowglass, a Barbara Vine psychological thriller and thought how strong her performance was. GALLOWGLASS

The Whiteley Family

The Whiteley Family

ART QUOTE BRETT WHITELEY   The other gardens I enjoyed visiting were at Leura in the Blue Mountains for the town’s annual garden festival. Which I shall continue in Part Two of this post.Thank you for visiting me. If you would like to keep up with me on social media, I am on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. And please share this post if you know of anyone would enjoy it or my writing. Love and Light, Josephine xx

The garden, the studio, friendships, somebody’s life, are all those things that keep you going. I don’t feel any great urge to actually paint again. I want to just go and be the mad old bag lady in the garden. I love the fact that Arkie participated in it a bit and loved it. Sometimes I suddenly realise I’m talking about her or Brett or anybody else in my life as though they’re still alive. And in a way they still are. And then you realise that they’re not there anymore, except in your memory. Or in your bones. In Arkie’s case, she’ll always be there. And in Brett’s case, he’ll always be there in part of me. You know? But in her case particularly.’ Wendy Whiteley on Australia Story IMG_8806

You can read more about Wendy Whiteley’s Lavender Bay garden on the following links below:

Wendy Whiteley transcript from Australia Story HERE

Interview with Peter Wilmot – Bohemian Rhapsody HERE

Arkie Whiteley’s obituary notice from the Sydney Herald HERE

Fifties Fair

Designed by Harry Seidler for his parents, Rose and Max, Rose Seidler house in the 1950s must have looked as if it came from outer space. Positioned at the edge of the bush, its cube-like form was a sensation to a Sydney emerging from the depression and two world wars. But the decade’s optimism was impacting all the arts – including  the housing industry. Harry Seidler was like all the modernists, looking to the future in his design. His vision excited the public as he overthrew all previous conventions concerning Australian architecture.

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Even finding a builder prepared to work on such an innovative house was a challenge, not to mention that building materials were in short supply after World War II. But following a lengthy construction; the Seidlers moved into their new home in late 1950.

Over 17 years, Rose built rockeries, stone walls and she added plants and flowers, fruit trees and vegetable gardens. The vegetable garden produced copious amounts of vegetables which she pressed generously upon friends including Max Dupain, who would go home with great boxes full of fresh vegetables.

Today, Rose Seidler House is owned by the Historic Houses Trust and annually hosts the Fifties Fair which my family attended today with a friend.

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We travelled to the fair in true vintage style via a genuine 1950s bus.

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I loved marvelling over all the vintage frocks. Here are some photos from the parade. 

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Daisy and I entered the family group section.

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But as soon as we spotted our competition – this amazing looking family – we knew we had lost this year. Hats off the mother of this family who spent weeks hand sewing their outfits.

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Some of the frocks being judged.

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Here’s the beautiful winner of the Ladies section.

 

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Of course the Fifties Fair wouldn’t be complete without some great music. Here are the lads from Rusty Pinto’s Shotdown from Sugartown.

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And some swing and jive cats and kittens.

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And there’s always the cars too ooh and aah over.

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Too soon, the Fifties Fair was over for another year.

Sorry Daisy, that’s not our car.

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But here comes the bus to take us home.

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And so we departed Rose Seidler House leaving that unique house in its isolated spectacular setting of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.

When they occupied Rose Seidler House, the Seidlers had to endure uninvited visitors who would queue outside to peer through the glass walls, awed by the house. It’s hard to imagine what they would have thought if they had a time capsule and could have seen what would be the destiny of their son’s design.

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You can read more about Rose Seidler House and the Fifties Fair HERE.

Fog

An early morning walk through our local park. My partner, David has gone diving with platypuses in Queensland – a most magical sounding pursuit.

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I walk down the early morning city streets where fog has gifted an enchanted hush to the area.

My daughter has been taken by a friend to her netball game for the day. I have an entire day to write. But first, I have to see the fog.

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In our local park, familiar paths fork into mysterious avenues.

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Other walkers, cameras ready, are awed into silence as we encounter each other on the bush tracks. Sydney Park holds us in a spell.

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The simple moments often bring the most joy.

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I have time to contemplate the new book I am beginning.

 

It’s always a disconcerting feeling when starting a new project and you’re stepping into the unknown.

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Characters have already formed; the book hovers, as haunting as as the early-morning city fog. An idea that has simmered for years, now beginning to evolve.

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Life – a matter of focus: on my right side, swans and ducks glide with knowing beauty through the serene atmosphere.

 

And on my left side, the rubbish bins amongst the mud.

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On Sunday, my daughter goes to her NIDA class and I write in my notebook. Yes, the old-school way of pen to paper and photographs for visual inspiration.

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I am now in the 1950s in Tasmania and a doorway to a new world has opened for me. Characters are introducing themselves. The book has the working title of Sweetwater.

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One step in front of the other. You never where the path will take you, but it is the act itself, the process that is the enchantment. One step towards the book and more is revealed. Another step and it’s waiting for me, calling me through the fog. One more step.

 

Spring is coming to Sydney. I can smell the jasmine on the city streets.

 

Call for Grace

The school holidays have just finished in Sydney.
So disruptive to writing time, but my daughter and I embraced Winter days relaxed in Little Brick, enjoying the luxury of not having to concern ourselves with lunchboxes, uniforms and school newsletters.
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Thank you to WHO magazine for the following mention of Currawong Manor.
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And more thanks to all the online reviewers who are helping to spread my book to potential readers: such as this beautiful review from Monique at Write Note Reviews, who said:

Currawong Manor has everything I love in a novel – a decaying house creating a dark and oppressive setting (enhanced by the mountain location), a heightened sense of suspense, a slowly-unfolding mystery, and some sinister characters (including the house and the nearby woods). There are also secondary romantic elements, which add to the tension. The standout feature for me was the sense of place; because it was captured so well, it made me want to plan a holiday to the Blue Mountains sooner rather than later.

For those who love a good gothic-style mystery, add Currawong Creek to your to-read list – I highly recommend it. I’ve added Pennicott’s 2013 novel, Poet’s Corner, to my to-read list.

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Thank you, Monique. The rest of the review can be read on her review site HERE. I was most taken with the fact she used a painting from Frederick McCubbin, The Lost Child  as I was working with that image on an early draft of Currawong Manor. It also means a lot to me when I can make people long to revisit a place through my prose.

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I enjoy the inner-city when its hub is momentarily hushed as the exodus begins from Sydney on holidays. But I admit, to some envy as I watched friends heading off for overseas holidays.  I reminded myself that sometimes the most cherished holidays are when you discover your own city anew and that having unstructured days is of great benefit to children.
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I remember holiday breaks when I was a child, that seemed to last forever – no playdates,sleep overs, activity centres, and extra tuition in everything imaginable booked in. Instead we explored our own backyards, became terribly bored and began to create with the material we had at hand. I wrote books I never finished on an old typewriter, formed clubs with imaginary friends and read books I longed to read and wasn’t interested in, but I’d already read everything in our house and library. Boring your children is so important and undervalued in this overstimulated time if you want to help your child’s imagination to flourish.
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Captain Josephine Pennicott and her pirate crew on the harbour

Captain Josephine Pennicott and her pirate crew on the harbour

With harbour side trips and unstructured days behind me, I’m now busy working on my present book which I’m very excited about. I’m back in Tasmania for this one and it’s 1950. After all the recent events in the news, it’s a relief to immerse myself into a more optimistic decade.
The New House - John Brack 1953

The New House – John Brack 1953

Thank you to all the support for Currawong Manor on my Facebook pages and on Good Reads. I do value your comments and cyber-word of mouth.
Keeping good company. Thanks to Amelia for the support on Instagram.

Keeping good company. Thanks to Amelia for the support on Instagram.

In early June, I announced a Giveaway to celebrate Currawong Manor’s release. I have put all the names into a hat and selected a winner from the large amount of entries received.
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Congratulations to Vivienne Martyn, you  will be receiving a signed copies of both Poet’s Cottage and Currawong Manor, a set of Daily Guidance Angel Cards and a Russian Red Mac Lipstick all to the value of $120.93. Thanks so much to everyone who entered, signed up for my newsletter, shared the post and helped to spread the word. Your support is always so appreciated!
A few more photos of my recent High Tea via Better Read than Dead’s Facebook page:
Guests at the High Tea examine my notebook

Guests at the High Tea examine my notebook

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Josephine Pennicott signing Currawong Manor

Josephine Pennicott signing Currawong Manor

The world seems such a grim place at the moment. As Neil Gaiman tweeted:
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Feeling absolutely helpless in the face of the madness and violence of the world. I’m making things up to keep sane. I’m in control there.

I share his despair. So many sadistic and cruel things have been occurring to so many:  but in the darkest of times, artists and storytellers are even more vital.
So feel the pain, but keep working, blaze your fire, call for grace.
If you have enjoyed this journal post, please share with your online friends if you think they would be interested.
Love and Light,
Josephine xx

When the Ghosts Dance

Toot! Toot!
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Lately I feel like Toad from Wind In The Willows. I’ve recently moved over  from WordPress.com to WordPress.org and being a total Toot, Toot  Technophobic, I’m finding it a challenge. I feel as if I’ve swapped my  comfortable cruisy car that I’ve tooted along in over the years for a  spaceship where I can barely fathom the controls. Hopefully I’m going to  be able to work out how to even post this journal. Despite all the  stimulation to be discovered online, I must confess I do yearn for the  time when writers could just write and not have to fathom the mysterious  intricacies of our  technological age. I know WordPress.org claim Code is  Poetry, but give me Mary Oliver or Keats any day.
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I’ve had my daughter home for a fortnight’s holidays and we’ve enjoyed a  few jaunts around Sydney and into the mountains to see the Autumn leaves  fall. Staying home on holidays is always a good chance to rediscover  Sydney. I feel very fortunate to live in an urban inner-city area  surrounded by so much bush land. We’ve enjoyed exploring islands around  the harbour where we’ve escaped the crowds and enjoyed panoramic views of  the cityscape amongst pine and oak trees surrounding silver-grey Sydney  Harbour. Such bliss to read a good book with million dollar views to  reflect upon. You can hear the echo of long-ago and lost-to-time picnics  and imagine the cries of children as they explored the leafy island. I  could sense the deep sigh of relief as dusk falls and the ferry arrives to  collect the few tourists and the ghosts begin to dance.

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Life is filled with change and I feel that Autumn, a transitional time, is  heralding a new season for me as well.  
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Watch this space for future changes.  The Autumn light has been golden and mellow. I love this season as we bid  farewell to Sydney’s humidity. I am busy planning my new mystery novel which I am very excited about as it’s been coming together wonderfully well. I also have ideas for a crime series I am very, very excited about. I’ve been mulling this one over for a few years.
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The date for my High Tea at Better Read than Dead in Newtown has been brought forward to the 21st June 3pm.
If you live locally I’d love to see you come along to discuss murder, mystery and creativity over cup  cakes.
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Counting down the days now until Currawong Manor is released in Australia.  Soon I’ll be releasing here and on my Facebook Author page some inspiration images from my Pinterest board for  Currawong Manor (which in true Scorpio style is locked at the moment). I will also be organising a giveaway and so please pop back before publication which is officially June 1st. Currawong Manor is available for pre-order through the Award Winning Online bookstore Booktopia HERE. Or please support your local bookstore and request they order a copy.
I hope to spend more time on Tale Peddler reviewing books I’ve read and  interviewing inspirational people I know, so please keep returning and  remember you can find me also on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook.
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In Autumn Love and Light,  Josephine “Take the adventure, heed the call, now ere the irrevocable moment passes! ‘Tis but a banging of the door behind you, a blithesome step forward, and  you are out of your old life and into the new!”  ― Kenneth Grahame