Studying the Online Way


[Image taken from ]

I said, ‘Hello’ to a new start as a uni student in my new city, Perth, a few weeks ago  and I didn’t think it had been that long since I was last at uni but a lot seems to have changed.

I’m doing some classes online this semester, which is a first, and I’m really enjoying it. I miss the face to face interaction but it’s kind of neat knowing that you are learning with a group of people scattered about the place.  I also like the freedom of when I study and where, tending to spend the days outside studying and listening to lectures.

Another thing I’m loving is the access to e-resources and the fact that so many textbooks are available online. I know that I’ve blogged about the this concept before, and my views were much keep the book and turn the page. I’m still very much a believer in the book, and will still choose a printed book over an e-book, but for textbooks it does make my life easier. I like the flexibility it brings, just like being able to choose where and when I study I get to choose the format of the text.

The only thing I really wonder about is if I’ve sat next to someone in my one and only internal, traditional, face to face lecture that I’ve conversed with at length on twitter or discussion boards. I wonder if switching from social media to real-life situations gets lost in translation.



Bread Alone

Book Crossing.

Read and Release at

I had never heard of this until Sunday when I was out for walk with a friend and her dog when I found a book in one of the pavilions in the middle of the floor.

Lola- Book Detective
Lola- Book Detective

I picked it up and actually wondered who would just leave a book like that but I noticed the sticker the yellow sticker on the front of the book:

What is it? Book trading with strangers

What do you do? When you find a book registered log on…then read and release me….

I was a little unsure whether I could take the book, having never heard of Book Crossing, but we decided that it was ok to do, especially after we read the sticker on the inside of the book:

Making acquaintances
Making acquaintances

Bread Alone, the  book I found, is probably not one I’d pick up in a bookstore, but it does sound good and is perfect for a drizzly day like today.  So, I’m looking forward to starting it and then seeing how far it travels once I’ve released it back into the wild. 

This is such a cool concept, I love the idea of releasing a book into the wild and being able to see how far around the world it gets. I haven’t released a book yet, but I will and I’m pretty excited about it too! I wonder how many other people have heard of this and are actively involved?  

It would be really cool to get schools involved and have the students take a book with them when they go on a trip somewhere. If I was still working at a school I would definitely use this with the book club programme, anything to keep reading alive.  

So, from now on I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled because you never know when you might stumble up on a book…

Read and Release at



Saying Goodbye is Never Easy


Lots of lovely gifts and cards from my students.
Lots of lovely gifts and cards from my students.

I might have been lucky to live in different cities,  but saying goodbye is never easy. In fact I think it’s getting harder and harder. In trying to prepare for the inevitable sadness that will creep up on me on my last day here in the dusty city of Doha I have compiled a list.


Things I won’t miss so much:

  • The cacophony of car horns all competing to heard in the desert orchestra ( which I can hear as I sit and type this)
  • The varying shades of beige that blankets the city
  • Living in what often feels like an oversized industrial heater- fan on high

Things I may miss a lot:

  • Having the call to prayer punctuate the day
  • Hot fresh nutella pancakes from the local women in the souk, who sit there even on the hottest days
  • The pockets of shisha hanging in the air
  • Mr. Chandran’s shop and the gentle whirring of the old-fashioned sewing machines
  • Walks along the corniche on one of the cool, clear days
  • Having a Saturday morning coffee in the MIA park and watching the boats of all shapes and sizes come and go
  • Chatting with friends in the shisha café after a very busy week
  • A cool refreshing lemon mint drink when it’s unbearably hot
  • A refreshing lemon mint and a shish, always a good way to the end week.
    A refreshing lemon mint and a shish, always a good way to the end week.
  • Shawarma, humble yet mighty
  • Ugly, the security cat of my building, knowing that she’s on patrol lets me sleep a little easier at night

  • Dhows bobbing on the water, decked out in the most radical fairy lights

    The old and the new
    The old and the new

The Story of Rockin’ Gardener

It’s summer and I’m home. Home is a funny word. Being a TCK, I consider many places to be my home, so to clarify I’m in Perth (Western Australia). It’s where I have boxes of stuff, lots of boxes filled with many a forgotten object. Today I made a start going through the boxes, I knew it would be fun and that I would find hidden treasures- books from my childhood, old photos, trinkets and letters and I did find all of those. It has been an afternoon of meandering down memory lane.

So far the most exciting find has been my very first published book! I still can’t believe that I kept it (so, thank you mum for making me keep it and telling me it was really, really good!)

When I was eight years old I wrote a book as part of a school project and the teacher made them into little books, using those plastic spines that slip over pages.

The cover of my very first book.
The cover of my very first book.
The blurb....complete with typos!
The blurb….complete with typos!

You’ll also notice that this was typed on a computer, but judging by the print out…it was an old one! And, the blurb, at times sounds slightly creepy…but who cares! I was eight and I remember absolutely loving this project.

All in all there are seven chapters to this potentially prize-winning book, although it might need some minor alterations first…

Chapter One: Rockin Gardener's Beginning
Chapter One: Rockin Gardener’s Beginning
Chapter 3: Rockin Escapes!
Chapter 3: Rockin Escapes!
Still my favourite illustration from my book.
Still my favourite illustration from my book.

and, not forgetting the all important  last page about the author, or authoress…

About the Author
About me.

Reading this info page makes me laugh. I hate math, always have, so not sure why I said that I like it! This is also not my third book, but I feel there may be a story in “The Fruit Bird”.   What is clear from this is that my literary journey began a lot earlier than I had thought, and it’s funny that I still feel a sense of pride when I flick through this piece of work. I guess some things never change.

Now, I wonder what other treasures I’ll find tomorrow?

A Letter of Apology or My decline into madness

Dear Concerned Reader ( if indeed you exist and, of course if you are actually concerned),

This is a letter expressing my most humblest apologies for my most blatant absence. I have no excuse.  None. I do however, have a rather interesting reason, if you care to know about it…

It seems I have been engaged in a kind of unspoken war, a battle of soapsuds, woman vs machine. It has been a very traumatic few weeks.

It has been a battle between me and my dishwasher.

Yes. That’s right. My dishwasher. The very machine I have come to rely on to help me out in the kitchen has refused to co-operate. So much so, that when finally removed from my apartment, it chose to sulk in the hallway for a several days. Just like a teenager, it refused to acknowledge my presence.

Then, it began to play mind games. Choosing to move a little further down the hallway every day, not a lot though I might add, just enough to make me question my sanity.  It got so bad that one evening I was sure I could hear it walking up the hallway and away from my apartment. ( this didn’t actually happen, it only moved halfway up,just far enough away that I couldn’t see it from my door viewer). The next day it was gone.

I had won! The dishwasher had finally given up, this so-called mexican standoff had ended. I could rest easy. Sure I’d be stuck doing my dishes the old-fashioned way, but I could handle it ,I’m a woman of the world and I’m certainly not afraid to don the marigolds.

My fragile illusion, as quickly as I had built it, fell away, I came home from work to find this in my kitchen:

“So, you think you have won? I think not…”

So enough about me…what’s been happening with you anyway?

The Nature of Australia*


In a recent post I spoke about bookshops being one of the joys of coming home . Being, as I call it, starved of books in the middle of the sandpit, I do end up spending most of my time in bookshops when I return home, and as a result I’m collecting a nice little pile.

These are the latest additions to the pile, both are Australian writers and what I love about these books is the use of native wildlife.  I tend to use nature  in a lot of my own writing, and birds are my current obsession.  So, my reasoning for buying these two books was of course research. Every good writer (aspiring or otherwise) needs to research, or at least that’s what I keep reading. So, naturally I have jumped right in and I have to say, I’m rather enjoying it!

This research business is reminding me of my Uni days when I used to write for the Uni newspaper. Well, when I say write for the paper, I certainly wasn’t a journalist, no, I was a book reviewer. What a great way to save some money, getting books for free, the only catch was I had to write about them; but as an English major it wasn’t hard and I loved it and, now it seems I miss it.

As I was writing a post for Show & Tell, and thinking about the book as a product got me reminiscing about the reviews I used to write. I would always choose the crime/ mystery books as a break from my studies and it seems this may be the reason I am becoming so absorbed in picture books, it’s not the books I generally spend my days with (or rather, I don’t spend as much time with this genre as I want to). During term time I am teaching anything and everything, but rarely picture books, which in my opinion is a shame. After finding, buying and reading “The Shaggy Gully Times” I am now seriously thinking about using it in the classroom when teaching newspapers ( really, it’s any excuse! ), it will certainly grab their imagination and well, if I’m honest, it will give me an opportunity to read aloud to my class ( something I don’t get to do with high schoolers)!

Now, I’m going to make a cup of tea and investigate the world of the internet and see what other books I can find….

*Please visit Show & Tell for a longer post on these two books.


Home Sweet Home

One of the greatest things about traveling and being an expat is coming home. Don’t get me wrong, I love traveling and know I’m fortunate to be able to travel as much as I do. Despite, this though nothing beats coming home.

“I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror
The wide brown land for me!” (
an extract from the classic Australian poem, My Country by Dorothea MacKellar) 

Sitting outside on the deck in the winter sun is totally refreshing after the sand filled air of the desert.  As well as sitting on the deck, I love to go to as many bookshops as possible. Having been back home for just over two weeks I have already managed to buy five books!  I’ve already talked about one of them here on Show & Tell and will be sharing more on Shaun Tan’s book later.

I recently bought a copy of ” The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore” by William Joyce.  My friend Mel, sent me a link to an animated short film a few months ago, and I had no idea that the film in question had originally been inspired by a book.  I absolutely loved the short film, if you haven’t seen it, please watch it. It’s simply beautiful.

I was really pleased when I found the book hidden in one the wooden boxes they have in the children’s section. My favorite thing about this book is of course the theme,  the importance of books, and a gentle reminder that we need to care for our books.  Joyce also brings the books to life, the use of personification is something I am currently using in some of my own picture books. I also love the illustrations and the use of black and white and then the way color has been used later in the story. The more time I spend working on my own projects, the more I realize that I have to really think about the image. I may spend my time playing with words, but I’m increasingly aware of the 32 pages and the need for an interesting and appropriate layout.

My research into agents continues and I have recently learnt that I need to finish a few more of my ideas before contacting agents. So, with inspiration from Shaun Tan and William Joyce I will attempt to complete my stories and continue on my little creative journey, whilst sitting on the deck in the winter sun.