About Me

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

My books

The first two novels of my trilogy, The Talismans, are not available as e-books at present, but I expect to get them back online shortly. However, I do have paperbacks of The Dagger of Dresnia at the low price of $25 including postage within Australia. I also have a short story, 'La Belle Dame', in print - see Mythic Resonance below. 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 Cloak of Challiver

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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Blog Archive

Places I've lived: Manchester, UK

Places I've lived: Manchester, UK

Places I've lived: Gippsland, Australia

Places I've lived: Gippsland, Australia

Places I've lived: Geelong, Australia

Places I've lived: Geelong,  Australia

Places I've lived: Tamworth, NSW

Places I've lived: Tamworth, NSW

Places I've Lived - Sydney

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

Places I've lived: Auckland, NZ

Places I've lived: Auckland, NZ

Places I've Lived: Mount Gambier

Places I've Lived: Mount Gambier
Blue Lake

Places I've lived: Adelaide, SA

Places I've lived: Adelaide, SA

Places I've Lived: Perth by Day

Places I've Lived: Perth by Day
From Kings Park

Places I've lived: High View, WV

Places I've lived: High View, WV

Places I've lived: Lynton, Devon, UK

Places I've lived: Lynton, Devon, UK

Places I've lived: Braemar, Scotland

Places I've lived: Braemar, Scotland

Places I've lived: Barre, MA, USA

Places I've lived: Barre, MA, USA

Places I've Lived: Perth by Night

Places I've Lived: Perth by Night
From Kings Park

Inner Peace Blog

Inner Peace Blog
Awarded by Joanna Fay. Click on the image to visit her lovely website!

Versatile Blogger Award

Versatile Blogger Award
Awarded by Kim Falconer. Click on the pic to check out her Quantum Astrology blog!

Fabulous Blog Award

Fabulous Blog Award
Awarded by Kathryn Warner. Click on the pic to check out her Edward II blog!

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Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Year in America

My friends Fiona and Nayani and their daughter Teya are spending a year in America. They were so excited about the election of Barach Obama to the presidency that they wanted to witness happenings in the USA at first hand, so almost on the spur of the moment they sold up, packed up and left. You can follow their blog here.

Now they have set up a competition called “Go Ahead, Blog My Town!” They would like you to tell them in 400 words or less about your town. It can be an overview of what makes your town great, or it can focus on a particular element – an event, motorcycle ride, scenic attraction, cafe or restaurant. And it doesn’t have to be an American town, they’ll accept entries from anywhere in the world. The three best entries will feature as Guest Blogs on their site.

And not only will your contribution be up there in the blogosphere for all to see, but you will also win one of Year in America's limited edition baseball caps, modelled so beautifully in the gorgeous photo on the site!

And while you're there, check out more of Nayani's lovely photos. To see them is great; to buy them is even better:-)

The competition closes April 30. Please send your entries to contact@yearinamerica.net.

It's not only a neat competition but an opportunity to show off your town to the blogosphere. Go on, have go!
Sunday, 5 April 2009

Climb an occasional mountain

I am sixty-six years old and I can count on one hand the number of mountains I have climbed. By international standards, not one of them is seriously worthy of the epithet, but then, this is me we're talking about. I don't even walk unless I have to, much less roam about on hilly protuberances. However, I have scrambled to the top of Auckland's Mount Eden (196m) as well as other baby mountains in this part of the world, including Mount Schank in South Australia (which boasts about the same height, or lack thereof, as Mount Eden) and, when I was much, much younger, I once climbed Australia's highest mountain, Mount Kosciuszko. It's a positive giant for this country at 2228 metres, or 7310 feet.

None of these can match the mountaineering adventures of my friend Carol Ryles who tackles mountains as readily as she does underwater caves (shudder) or treks in wilderness of all kinds. But when I boasted to Carol that I have climbed a real Himalayan mountain she told me I ought to blog it. So here is the story of my adventure on Phulchowki.

I spent three weeks in Nepal in February, 1995. Someday perhaps I'll blog other aspects of the trip, during which I explored Kathmandhu, met lots of wonderful people, managed to catch Giardia and survived a nasty bout of food poisoning, but climbing Phulchowki was definitely one of the highlights.

One reason for visiting Nepal was my lifelong love of rhododendrons, which grow in profusion on the hills around Kathmandhu. (Locals do not think them worthy of being called mountains, even though Phulchowki, the tallest of them, is, at 2760m, taller than Mount Kosciuszko.) My Lonely Planet guide assured me that Phulchowki was quite the best place in the Kathmandhu Valley to see rhododendrons, so I asked around the hotel, seeking information on how to get there. I'd made friends with a few other tourists by then, and one of them was a Pakistani named Kumar. He spelt it Karma, which seemed a bit eccentric until he explained that his mother had really wanted a girl and had thus lumbered him with having to spell his name aloud to every clerical officer he encountered. He assured me that he was an experienced climber and offered to take me to Phulchowki the next day. Climbing, he said, was his spiritual practice. I was intrigued.

So we got up bright and early and made our way to Patan, where we caught a bus to the village of Godawari, nestling on the lower slopes of the hills. After a cup of steaming hot black tea from a roadside stall, we hiked the short distance to the foot of Phulchowki, which rose above us into the clouds. Phulchowki is home to one of the last surviving "cloud forests" in Central Nepal. This means that the vegetation acquires much of its moisture directly from the clouds rather than from precipitation. That's not to say that it never rains or snows on Phulchowki. In fact, it can sometimes snow even in February. But it wasn't snowing that day, and the clouds were clearing as we ascended the gently sloping path up the hillside.

It remained gently sloping for about 20 minutes, then suddenly, sheer cliffs rose above us. They were not very high, but I had no idea how I was going to climb them. Not to worry: Karma found a sturdy stick about two metres long. 'Watch where I put my hands and feet,' he said, and then, clutching the stick in one hand, he hauled himself up the first little cliff. Lying on his belly, he leaned over the edge, holding the stick by one end. 'Hold onto the stick with your right hand,' he instructed, 'and put your left hand and your feet in the same places as I did.'

What had seemed like a good idea back at the hotel no longer seemed nearly so enticing, but I could hardly say so after Karma's kindness in offering to act as my guide. So, swallowing hard and definitely not looking down, I followed his instructions. With a bit of coaxing and careful instructions as to the whereabouts of the handholds and footholds, I was soon beside him on a ledge, and facing another steep clifflet.

We repeated the exercise again and again. I soon realised why mountaineering was Karma's spiritual practice. There was room in my mind and body only for the next handhold; the next foothold. I became as focussed as I had ever been in my meditation practice and more focussed than I'd ever been in any other kind of lesson. After all, one slip and I could break a leg. Or worse. It's amazing what such thoughts can do for your concentration.

After an hour or two I pleaded that I needed to rest, and after just one more (and one more, and one more...) small ascent Karma and I sat down to enjoy the view over the valley. Little villages dotted the landscape below, and around us the first few rhododendrons were just coming into bloom. I had brought sandwiches which Karma did not want to share. In fact, I didn't see him eat all day.

He told me we needed to push on if we were to make the summit and return to the world below by nightfall, so off we set again. More steep cliffs, more hauling on the long-suffering stick. I was seriously tiring by that time. After all, mountains were not part of my normal exercise routine.

Just as I was wondering how I could possibly reach the top, let alone come back down again, we suddenly arrived at a road. Its dark surface gleaming in the sunlight, it embraced the mountain like a spiral bracelet. On the other side of the road, the vegetation changed abruptly from shrubs to trees. Rhododendrons were still in evidence, but towering over them were magnificent oaks. And the ascent looked pretty steep.

I was starting to feel a bit cranky. If I'd known there was a decent road up the mountain I would have simply hired a taxi to bring me up. What was I thinking of, wasting over half a day hauling myself up a hill? It was nearing the early dusk of late winter, and I told Karma that I would follow the road and return to the village below. He, however, wanted to press on to the summit. We had come over two thirds of the way, which was enough for me. After all, I'd seen the rhododendrons and the cloud forest, and had more than enough of mountain climbing, thank you. Karma didn't have any water and he wouldn't take mine, which worried me a little, but really, I just wanted to get back to civilisation. So with a final wave to my guide as he entered the oak forest, I turned to follow the road downhill.

I had gone only a few yards when there was the sound of a car behind me. I moved over to let it pass. Unlike most cars in Nepal, it was a late model, shiny-black limousine, and it pulled up alongside me. A Japanese woman wound down the passenger side window. "Can we give you a lift?" she offered in perfect English.

Could they what! Thankfully, I crawled into the back seat of the car. My saviours were a diplomat and his wife who had not only spent a tour of duty in Canberra, but had a daughter who was born there. We had a pleasant chat about life in Australia, and then they asked if I'd mind if we stopped off at the orchid nursery in Godawari, home of the Royal Botanic Gardens. Mind? What a silly question! So I not only saw the rhododendrons and the cloud forest, but a wonderful display of native Nepalese orchids as well. I went to bed that night tired and happy, all angst having faded away on the car ride back to the Star Hotel.

As for Karma, he turned up in time for breakfast after spending the night in an army hut on the summit of Phulchowki. He and the diplomatic couple were just two of the many lovely people I met in Nepal, and that outing was just one of the many wonderful experiences I had there.

Because I'm in Perth I don't have access to my own pictures of that outing, so here is one I pinched from the Samrat Treks website. Next time I'm in Mount Gambier I'll try to remember to post some of my own and I hope the proprietors of Samrat Treks will forgive my plagiarism in the meantime!
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