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As you know, I was bitterly disappointed when Satalyte shut up shop as it might have meant the end of my admittedly short career as a publi...

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I am a writer, editor, reviewer and dance teacher based in Perth, Western Australia.

My books

The first novel of my trilogy, The Talismans, is available as e-books from Smashwords, Amazon and other online sellers. I do have paperbacks of The Dagger of Dresnia at the low price of $AU25 including postage within Australia. I also have a short story, 'La Belle Dame', in print - see Mythic Resonance below. Book two of the trilogy, The Cloak of Challiver, will be available again shortly. The best way to contact me is via Facebook!

Buy The Talismans

The first two books of The Talismans trilogy were published by Satalyte Publications, which, sadly, has gone out of business. I hope to see my books back on Amazon under a new publisher in the near future.

The Dagger of Dresnia

The Dagger of Dresnia
Want a copy? Contact me at satimafn(at)gmail.com

The Cloak of Challiver

The Cloak of Challiver
Available again as an ebook soon!

Mythic Resonance

Buy Mythic Resonance

Mythic Resonance is an excellent anthology that includes my short story 'La Belle Dame', together with great stories from Alan Baxter, Donna Maree Hanson, Sue Burstynski, Nike Sulway and nine more fantastic authors! Just $US3.99 from Amazon. Got a Kindle? Check out Mythic Resonance.

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Places I've lived: Manchester, UK

Places I've lived: Manchester, UK

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Places I've lived: Gippsland, Australia

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Places I've lived: Geelong,  Australia

Places I've lived: Tamworth, NSW

Places I've lived: Tamworth, NSW

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Places I've Lived - Sydney
Sydney Conservatorium - my old school

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Places I've lived: Auckland, NZ

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Places I've Lived: Mount Gambier
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Places I've lived: Adelaide, SA

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Places I've Lived: Perth by Day
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Places I've lived: High View, WV

Places I've lived: Lynton, Devon, UK

Places I've lived: Lynton, Devon, UK

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Places I've lived: Braemar, Scotland

Places I've lived: Barre, MA, USA

Places I've lived: Barre, MA, USA

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Places I've Lived: Perth by Night
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Thursday, 24 May 2007

Fast Forward

The last ten days have been so full that I suspect I've ceased to take in details. Those I have assimilated have already run into each other like water colours on porous paper but I'll try to remember as much as I can so that the precious memories don't vanish altogether.

On Wednesday, 16 May, Clare saw me and my very overweight suitcase off on the coach to London from Exeter. We were sad in our goodbyes, for it seems unlikely that we will ever meet again - but who knows? Back in the Land of Oz, I shall resume my regular purchase of Lotto tickets. They've never brought me more than about $20 and that very rarely, but I remain the eternal optimist.

On arrival in London I reported to Diana's place and the pair of us caught up on gossip as I repacked my bags in readiness for a few days' meandering. It was 10.00pm before I arrived at my first destination, St Neots in Cambridgeshire, where I was met by e-cousins Dennis and Sheila, who provided me with a cosy room and a welcoming bed. Sheila had to go out the next day but at her suggestion, Dennis drove me to the neighbouring village of St Ives - the real one, of seven wives and multitudinous sacks, cats and rats fame. A very pretty place it is too, with a tiny medieval chapel on a bridge and an excellent local museum. Dennis and I talked family history non-stop, for we have two names in common - FLAVELL in Staffordshire and HINCHCLIFFE in Yorkshire, although the latter has so far failed to provide a link between our two branches. Mid-afternoon soon rolled around and it was time for me to catch the first of three buses that would stage me to Canterbury.

What can I say about Canterbury that hasn't been said already? Nothing, I suspect, since Chaucer's characters are all alive and well there, albeit in modern guise. Today's "pilgrims" come from much further afield than Bath and northern France: visitors of many shapes, sizes and colours stroll the streets. Even veiled Islamic ladies can be seen touring the famous cathedral alongside parties of students from mainland Europe and eager tourists from America, Asia and the Antipodes. No doubt each one would have a tale to tell if time permitted them all to be collected.

Touring Canterbury Cathedral is no mean undertaking. Like its sister in Winchester, it is enormous, and like all British cathedrals it is full-laden with history. I paid my respects at the tombs of a dozen or more direct and indirect ancestors, several of whom were of the priestly persuasion. (They were among the indirect ones, of course - or so one hopes!) On the tomb of Edward, the Black Prince, his effigy reclines in gilded armour and a nearby wall cabinet houses his orginal "funerary achievements", comprising an enormous helm, a tunic, a shield and sword. On the other side of the quire repose his nephew Henry IV and his second wife, Joan of Navarre. The tomb of Henry's daughter-in-law, Margaret HOLLAND, dominates the side chapel of St Michael, which Margaret herself had founded. She lies buried with her two husbands, John BEAUFORT (half-brother to Edward, the Black Prince) and Thomas PLANTAGENET (son of Henry IV and his first wife, Mary de BOHUN). I wonder if medieval tomb effigies were good likenesses? Certainly the ones in Canterbury Cathedral all look like real individuals, not just idealised role-representatives.

In any case, the ancestral images were just the icing on the Canterbury cake. The cathedral is, of course, the site of Thomas Becket's martyrdom and a chapel now graces the vestry where he was slaughtered. I winced to see several people sitting on side benches, chatting on their mobile phones. However, I should imagine Thomas is big enough to encompass C21 behavioural peculiarities.

The brevity of my visit meant that I couldn't attend any services; however, it was a bonus that the marvellous choir was practising for part of the time (three hours!) I was there. Footsore, I wound up in a nearby Starbuck's to recover before waddling down to the ancient chapel of St Mildred and the very impressive ruins of the town's Norman castle, by which time I'd had enough of journeying and headed back to the Youth Hostel and the closing chapters of George RR Martin's Steel and Snow part one. (I have only recently started reading Martin and I'm already a born-again devotee. His characters are clearly delineated and his stories superb.)

On Saturday I humped my bluey down to the bus station in the hope that they had a left luggage facility. They didn't ("because of security", a booking clerk explained) but a further query at the Tourist Information Office resulted in my grateful dumping of a large bag (I don't do small ones) at the nearby Kings Inn B&B.
They kept it for several hours for only 1GBP, which freed me to wander unencumbered to the C12 Eastgate Pilgrims' Hospice, a picturesque and atmospheric place with a vaulted roof and Norman arches which even today provides accommodation for several elderly people. An early C12 tempera mural of Christ in Majesty still graces a wall in the old refectory.

Then I hied me down to the delightful Greyfriars Gardens where I consumed my packed lunch beside a stream bordered with lupins, ivy, periwinkles and peonies before making for Canterbury's wonderful Roman Museum.

What a treat! A partially excavated Roman villa with a hypercaust that would have heated the bath-house and its hot pool. There are remnants of a mosaic tiled floor; not as complete as the one in Luxembourg, but lovely, nonetheless. Numerous items excavated from this and other local sites demonstrated some of the minutiae of Romano-British life in a very realistic "shop window" type of display. Armour, hairpins, pottery, jewelery and tradesmen's tools all help build a picture of an era that ended less than a century before the Saxons began moving in.

There are many other sites worth visiting in Canterbury: had I had cash enough and time I would have stayed longer. St Augustine's Abbey and the nearby church of St Martin, which has stood for over 1600 years and is the oldest parish church still in use in the UK, would have been a fitting finale to my visit to Cantebury. However, London was calling, for I had never seen Buckingham Palace and Diana had promised to take me there on the Sunday.

Sunday was a lovely day. We had plenty of sunlight for our photos outside the palace gates, after which a number eleven bus carried us to St Pauls. Nearby, we found a handy pizzaria wherein we fortified ourselves for evensong.

Evensong at St Pauls is
an experience not to be missed if you're in London on a Sunday. The sound of those exquisite voices reverberating around the dome is passing indescribable.

Monday dawned gloomy, reflecting my mood as Diana and I set off for Heathrow, where the kind check-in clerk made no comment on my overweight luggage. (How did I acquire nine kilos of books and souvenirs?) A long chat over coffee then I bade Diana a teary farewell before heading up to the departure lounge to board my flight to Dubai.

At Dubai airport, inspectors deprived me of a tube of toothpaste as it was over the acceptable weight. The Aussie immigration authorities are very thorough, which is consoling in regard to terrorism, but not toothpaste. After no fewer than four baggage inspections, a dreary flight home to Perth, and here I am, two days later, very jetlagged but looking forward to seeing my many friends here as I housesit for the next two weeks before returning to Mount Gambier.
Tuesday, 15 May 2007

A visit to Sedgley

Another long silence, mainly due to lack of internet access. I can have a free half-hour at Topsham library each day but today that was wasted by a system failure. I'd paid for an extra hour and half and it's nearly all used up with e-mails, so I hope I can get this post up before the machine boots me off!

I spent three days last week in the town of Sedgley, Staffordshire. Like Dewsbury in Yorkshire, this is one of my ancestral home towns - my father's family lived there for generation after generation until they moved to Yorkshire in the late C19. For the most part, they were coal miners and nail makers, and as the region is known as part of what's called the Black Country, I was expecting a desolate old industrial town that had lost its way, like so many others in the Midlands since the death of the mining industry.

Not so. I found a delightful collection of villages, separated by rolling green fields and woodland, interlaced with lovely parks and quiet lanes. Rhododendrons and peonies are in full bloom, and even the roses are putting on a beautiful show - all at least three weeks early! Well, I came intending to enjoy an English spring and I've certainly had that, albeit a highly compressed one because of the early warm weather. Now the trees are wearing summer green and it's nearly time for me to go. I return to Perth next Monday, but I hope to have at least one or two more adventures in the interim!

I met several e-cousins in Sedgley - Jean and Keith, together with Christine and her husband Stephen, made me feel very welcome. Christine should have a medal for her help - she spent a whole day with me at the local archives, where we uncovered a few more details about my KEELING, HODGETTS, PERSHOUSE and DUDLEY ancestors. Christine and I have a lot in common - like me, she is an editor and a Shakespeare enthusiast and she has managed to combine these skills because she actually edits editions of the plays! One she was involved in recently is the OUP's new Othello under the leadership of Michael Neill - a handsome book and all the better, I'm sure, for having Christine on the editorial team.


On Friday Christine and Stephen took me to Dudley Castle, residence of a long line of my DUDLEY ancestors but now a zoo. (Sic transit!) The building was largely destroyed in the Civil War, but it is still possible to see the layout and to go into the undercroft, which boasts an excellent historical and archeological display. The zoo is home to several endangered species and is doing its bit for conservation. Like all such establishments, it is short on funding. I wish I had pots of money to donate.


Having walked the stones where my DUDLEY ancestors walked, I brought myself back down to earth with a decent feed of fish and chips in the castle's restaurant, where I met another DUDLEY descendant; Lucy from the States. Christine took a photo of us together and commented on our resemblance. No doubt Lucy and I are cousins twenty times over, as are many folk of British descent, especially those from the Black Country, it seems:-)

Having fortified ourselves with fish'n'chips, Christine, Stephen and I headed for the nearby Black Country Museum, a wonderfuly recreated village set on 25 acres, complete with shops, houses, a school house, a church and workshops of various industries including a working glassmakers' where souvenirs can be purchased. The main industries of the area - coal mining, iron smelting, brickmaking and the metal trades - were also represented.

Many cottages in the Black Country had small workshops attached for the manufacture of nails and chains. I tried to envisage my great-great-grandmothers and their older children forging nails on the sturdy little anvils while the younger children, even toddlers, worked the bellows. The menfolk, of course, would have spent long hours "down the pit", hewing coal. These people were poor - sometimes desperately so - but they had a toughness and resilience that enabled them to maintain an optimistic outlook despite the back-breaking labour and poor conditions that left them open to outbreaks of cholera and other deadly diseases. Even so, many survived to a great age: my four great-great grandparents on my father's side lived to an average age of 83.

How, you might ask, did I come to have some ancestors at the castle and some in tiny cottages? Well, that's life, eh? A few generations can make a huge difference to the fortunes of a bloodline, going from high to low due to illegitimate births, girls "marrying down" and the inability of most families to provide an inheritance for any children other than the eldest son. The reverse journey, from low to high, is much less easily achieved, fairy tales and fantasy novels not withstanding:-) I love my miners and nailers no less than my lords and ladies, and I wish I could visit the little cottages and workshops of the former. The closest I can get is to visit places like the Black Country Museum as well as the churches where they married, had their children baptised, and were buried.


In All Saints Church, Sedgley, Christine showed me the pew paid for by my 10xgreat-grandfather, Richard PERSHOUSE. He preferred the variant PARKSHOUSE, so the carved letters over which I ran my fingers read Ricardus Parkhousus, 1626. I'm sure Richard and his wife Jane would also have run their fingers over the letters with great pride when they first inspected this symbol of their status in the Sedgely community. Richard had done well for himself - the scion of an old yeoman family, he had risen to become attorney and estate manager for Edward, the fifth SUTTON lord Dudley, and had married Jane DUDLEY, milord's illegitimate daughter. Edward and Richard, it seems from some accounts, sometimes exhibited behaviour that was far from gentlemanly, dispossessing tenants with threats and violence. But might not my poor miners and nailers, or even I myself, have done the same, given the power? Who knows? That Edward loved his mistress, my 11x great-grandmother Elizabeth TOMLINSON, there can be little doubt, and there is no reason to believe that Richard was anything other than a kind husband and father. What a strange mixture we humans are, with our kindness and cruelty, generosity and selfishness. Lords or miners, we are all capable of the lot, aren't we?


Saturday brought a long walk up to Sedgley Beacon, a vantage point more than 700 feet above sea level and the highest point for miles around, affording magnificent views of three counties - Staffordshire, Worcestershire and Shropshire. The Black Country is no longer black, and the view of the Welsh border must be much as it was in medieval times when some of my ancestors made their way from Wales into the Midlands. The walks Christine and I took around Sedgley enabled me to appreciate the local styles of architecture, which are much more varied than those of other places I've seen in the UK. True, the ubiquitous red brick still dominates the streetscapes, but there are far fewer dreary rows of terraces and semi-detached houses. Instead, there is a charming mix of single and double storied designs and individual facades. The Black Country bred tough, individualistic folk and this is reflected in their architecture.

I am deeply grateful to Stephen and Christine for giving up hours of their time to show me around this very special part of the world. Now I'm getting ready for London, Cambridge, Canterbury - and home!

I'm about to get booted off the computer - no time to check for typos!
Friday, 4 May 2007

Day Trips

My long silence has been due to inactivity. I've spent the last two weeks lazing about, for the most part, although I have had a couple of enjoyable day trips around Exeter. I've also spent a lot of money on summer clothes, having foolishly assumed that it would not get hot here until after I'd left in late May. In actual fact it has felt like summer for nearly four weeks, April having been the UK's hottest on record. (By "hot" of course, they mean it's over twenty degrees celsius. A trip to Perth, Western Australia, in the height of summer would show them what "hot" is!)

So I've been haunting the second hand shops picking up lightweight garments. Clothing, new or second hand, is no longer cheaper here than in Oz. In fact, I haven't found anything that's cheaper here except cheese and antiques. Yet wages here seem no higher than in Oz, so how low-income people survive I can't imagine.

Although antiques don't feature in my budget, cheese certainly does. The array of cheeses available in this country is amazing. I've been working my way through a few of them and found them all delicious so far. I'll carry on testing them in case there are any nasty ones:-)

The big expenses for me are internet access and transport. I'm hoping to take a bus trip next week to Sedgley, in the West Midlands, one of the ancestral villages, and it's going to cost me just over $AUS100 for bus fares! Even a local ride costs over $AUS5.00, so I haven't been taking as many day trips as I would have liked.

I'd love to see native British animals, but the parks and zoos that feature them are way out of town and inaccessible by public transport, even if I could afford it. I have, however, been to several local villages including Exmouth, Sidmouth and Ottery St Mary. The last named has what is said to be the best parish church in Devon, and indeed it is a lovely C14 building, much of it original. It is a miniature version of Exeter cathedral, and even though it is on a smaller scale the design still works beautifully.

Exmouth and Sidmouth are also delightful. The latter has a really excellent shopping centre with old establishments jostling new ones in a large pedestrian precinct. Exmouth is quite a big town. It reminds me a bit of Fremantle (minus the capuccino strip) with its winding streets and old buildings that must have once served as administration centres for the port. Like Fremantle, it was once the port for the region's main city, but those days of glory are gone. Now it is purely a holiday place and a dormer for people who work in Exeter. It does need someone to go and set up a good coffee shop, though. No one here seems to know how to make capuccinos properly. You know, the kind where the foam heaps high over the cup's rim and is crowned by a decent amount of chocolate...

Back in Perth in a couple of weeks. A cappucino will be my first purchase!
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