Welcome to Life Images by Jill

Welcome to Life Images by Jill.........Stepping into the light and bringing together the images and stories of our world. I am a photographer, writer and multi-media artist.
Focussing mainly on Western Australia and Australia, I am seeking to preserve images and memories of the beautiful world in which we live and the people in it.



Creative Writing

 Where I share a little bit of creative writing with you.... some of these have been creative writing prompts at our writer's group, the South Side Quills 

November 2022 - One of my pieces for the South Side Quills writer's group anthology - Aspects of Childhood" - 
Embellished from the recollections of my father, Norman Lesley (Les) Clayden. 

THE CHRISTMAS BIKE                                               

Christmas 1934. The summer was blistering. An arid easterly wind scorched its way through the dry stubble stalks. The harvest was finished and the horses were having a well-earned rest among the trees in the orchard.

It was the Christmas before Norm started school and he had already seen the pushbike leaning against the tank stand in the yard. It was his first two-wheeler. Despite his older brother having ridden this bike to school for the last four years and the fact that the seat was worn and the paint chipped, Norm basked in the glory of knowing the Malvern Star was now his. He couldn’t wait to give it a go.  Norm badgered Dad all through breakfast until he finally pushed back his chair, took his hat from the peg just inside the kitchen door and went out into the yard. Climbing onto the tank stand Norm hoiked himself up onto the seat, which was a bit too high for his six year old legs.

Dad gave Norm a push start down the slight slope towards the yards beyond the chook pen. Before he knew it the fence loomed up in front of him and Norm discovered the bike had no brakes. Not knowing how to stop, Norm swerved at the last moment and skidded through the minefield of cow pats in front of the gate. Colliding with the fence, he was flung head first into the orchard, narrowly missing Molly the cow eating leaves off the fig tree. Molly momentarily looked startled before nonchalantly flicking her tail and continued munching.

By the time Norm started school in February he had mastered the complexities of riding a bike barefoot without brakes. He was undaunted by the six mile ride to school in Pingelly. That bike took Norm wherever he wanted to go: along dirt tracks, over paddocks, out to wherever his Dad was working, over to the warrens to check his rabbit traps, and down the road to his grandmother’s house.

However it wasn’t without incident. Riding home from school one winter afternoon, an overflowing deep gutter had formed across the track. Underestimating the depth of the gutter, Norm rode straight into it, hit a submerged rock and tumbled off his bike. As he sat miserably in the ditch soaked through with red muddy water, Mr Gill, who was riding his horse down the track behind him, tipped his hat, barely disguising the laugh twitching behind his beard. “Afternoon young Norm. Nice afternoon for a swim.”

Norm’s pride was battered, and his shirt ripped, but the Malvern Star came out of the ditch unscathed. It was ridden to school from Kulyalling and Mourambine by various brothers and sisters for nine years as well as into Pingelly where Norm sold rabbits he had trapped for sixpence to ninepence a pair.

March 2022 - one month into the Ukraine/Russian conflict

Something a little different from me today, inspired by the heart-renching situation in the Ukraine.  I have never been to Russia or the Ukraine, so the few photos I share today are from other parts of Europe in a happier time.  I really enjoyed taking photos of balconies on our trip to Spain, Malta & Italy in 2018.

This piece I wrote the other day from my writer's group home writing prompt - 

No-one answered the door, so Tina took her mobile phone out of her pocket.

With only a backpack hastily stuffed with a change of clothes and her passport, Tina had travelled all day and all night to get here. First by train, almost empty of other passengers, then hitched a ride in the back of a truck, the weary men looking askance at her. Lastly on foot through the ravaged countryside and deserted streets, hardly recognising her surroundings since her visit last spring.

How could it be that at the end of her journey no-one was here to meet her? Tina looked again at the text message from her sister asking her to come quickly…or was it pleading? She had tried to call her sister several times since leaving home, but couldn’t get through. With each kilometre she had grown more anxious.

Tina stepped back from the heavy wooden door and looked up. Above was an iron balcony and an open door with lace curtains wafting gently in and out. She glanced up and down the street. No-one was out at this early hour but she didn’t want to draw attention to herself by calling out. A lone dog snuffled around a rubbish bin.

Tina blew her warm breath into her hands and then reached for the ornate brass door knocker. The thud echoed dully within. She waited but no-one came.

She pushed on the door and it creaked slowly open. Dry leaves scattered around her feet. Stepping cautiously inside Tina scanned the deserted courtyard strewn with dying plants and broken furniture.

A cat slunk away through an open doorway. She followed and was shocked by the disarray inside. Broken tiles and debris littered the floor and plaster hung limply from the exposed roof beams.

On the gilt framed mirror on the opposite wall was one word scrawled in lipstick or was it blood – “run”

August 2020

Create a scene where a murder takes place        - a writer's group prompt                                               

The approach is along a limestone track beneath a tangled archway of peppermint and paper bark trees. You stop to push open the rusty iron gate.

Around the corner you suddenly come out of the trees onto a rocky headland. Parking the car you walk to the edge. The cliff plunges metres down to where waves crash and surge unrelenting onto jagged rocks. Seagulls swoop and cry in the buffeting wind.

You shiver and pulling your coat closer around you, you turn away from the cliff and walk towards the house perched only metres from the cliff. Built from solid rock blocks hewn from the cliffs it has withstood years of winter storms.

A car with the passenger door sagging open is parked by the house. Your peer in. Something seems to have made a nest on the front seat.

Turning away you climb the worn stone steps of the house onto the warped front verandah that envelopes the house. A bird flies out from under the eaves, swooping close by you, making you duck. Pushing against the front door, it creeks open. With nervous trepidation which surprises you, you step inside.

Your eyes adjust to the gloom. What you see makes you gasp and stagger back onto the verandah and retch over the railing.

April 2020                                                                                                          

"He was the only man on the platform wearing an eye-patch" - a writer's group prompt

Even through the scratched, soot marked window and the smoke hanging thickly in the air, it was easy to identify him – he was the only man on the platform with an eye patch.

You had been warned he might be here waiting, but you hoped by some slim chance that he would have been given the wrong information. Your mind races as you fumble with your bag and check the compartment for strayed belongings.

Passengers are pouring from the carriages and the down the steps onto the platform, jostling as they gather their bags, greet waiting people and make their way to the exit gate. New passengers are waving goodbyes and boarding the train.

Your sit immobile, your mind racing. There is a tap at your door and the cabin steward looks in.

“Are you alright Miss? This is your station. We’ll be leaving in a few minutes.”

As if in agreement, the train whistle blows shrilly.

“Yes, I know” you stammer. “But I’m thinking I should go onto the next stop.”

“But that will take you further away.”

“I know, but I have a friend there who can meet me.”

“Well you can’t stay in this compartment. It’s been taken by someone else and we’re full.”
Behind him you see a smartly dressed woman in a green coat and cloche hat.

“Oh, I’d better get off then.”

You smile grimly, pick up your bag, nod to the woman and make your way down the corridor. But instead of climbing down the nearest steps you continue to the rear of the train. Reaching the last door you stand for a moment on the top step and peer down the platform.

You can see the man pacing up and down searching for you. A stab of fear races through you. The train whistle blows and steam bellows from the train, cloaking the platform. You pull the brim of your hat down low over your eyes and pull up the collar of your coat. Gripping the railing you step down.

You glance down the platform just as he turns towards you. Even from a distance you can see that he has recognised you. He calls out and moves forward pushing through the crowd.

But you are already running.

January 2020

“Stop your grizzling – it’s only raining”  - a writer's group prompt

It started with the windmill creaking. Then the back door slammed. The dogs ran up and down the veranda barking.  There was a strange smell in the air.  An earthy smell.

Then a gentle thrumming on the iron roof. Lucy looked up from her dolls house, puzzled. Within minutes the thrumming became a battering.

Lucy screamed out, “Daddy, Daddy, there’s something’s on the roof!”

“Stop your grizzling Lucy, it’s only the rain.”

“It’s going to get us!”

Tom scooped Lucy up into his arms and went out onto the veranda, calling over his shoulder “Martha!”

Down the steps, Lucy screaming and struggling in his arms.  Tom lowered the clinging Lucy to the ground.  “Lucy, its rain!”

The rain ran through Lucy’s hair in rivers, soaking her from head to foot. Her thin cotton dress clung to her legs. The dogs darted excitedly around the yard skidding through the muddy puddles.

Lucy was stunned. In all her four years she had never seen rain.  She’d heard her Dad speak about it in hushed tones. But she hadn’t known till this minute what it was.

Tom looked up from Lucy to the house. Martha stood on the veranda, clinging to the railing, her dress hanging loosely on her thin frame. Tom walked up the steps and held out his hand. ‘Come on love, come down here. Its rain love. What we’ve been waiting for.”

Martha took Tom’s hand and shakily came down the steps. She looked up as the rain fell on her, and then collapsed to her knees in the yard, crying.

Lucy ran to her. “It’s ok Mum. Don’t be afraid. It’s only the rain!”

Petrichor (/ˈpɛtrɪkɔːr/) is the earthy scent produced when rain falls on dry soil. The word is constructed from Greek petra (πέτρα), meaning "stone", and īchōr (ἰχώρ), the fluid that flows in the veins of the gods in Greek mythology.

The term was coined in 1964 by two Australian scientists studying the smells of wet weather — is derived from a pair of chemical reactions – in leaves and soil.


January 2019

She’s too busy being on the run from life…..      a writer's group prompt  

Alarm buzzing. The 6 o’clock news is all bad. Another road rage, another death, another drought, another flood, another government crisis.

Out of bed, making lunches, cooking breakfast, throwing back the curtains, “time to get up!”

Hurry up, get dressed, eat your breakfast, clean your teeth. 

Why don’t you stop to listen to their childish breakfast chatter?

Where’s your reading book? Where’s your gloves? Out the door in a flurry of bags, coats, scarves, hats.  Down the steps. Quick the bus is waiting!

Why don’t you stop to cherish their chubby arms around your waist?

Running down the street, traffic blaring, down the station steps, pushing past people. Onto the train. The crowded work day crush. Faceless people behind mobile phones.

The old lady who rides the trains is there again. A faded woollen beanie over stringy hair. Her battered crochet bag clutched in wrinkled hands. She smiles at her.

Why don’t you talk to her? Save her from her loneliness. She has precious memories to share, if only you had time. 

Work day grind, writing, typing, answering emails, computer madness, office politics, telephone ringing, yes sir, no sir. When do you need that done by sir?

Another lunch time at her desk. Too much work in too little time. The clock is ticking fast.

Why don’t you go down to the park that you see from your window? Sit on the bench to savour your lunch. Hear the birds singing. Feel the winter sun on your face. 

The hectic afternoon flies. Her alarm chimes, grabs her bag, out the door, back to the station, onto the train. The old lady isn’t there.

The baby sitter’s waiting at the door. Impatient. She’s late again.

Cook dinner, stop talking, do your homework. Eat dinner. Do the dishes. Bath time. Put their clothes in the washing machine. Time for bed. Turn off the light.

Why don’t you see their eyes pleading for a story? Why don’t you wrap your arms around them? They need you.  

Softly she closes the door. Sighs as she sinks into the couch and pulls the rug around her shoulders. Turns on the record player to listen again to the music he loved. Rodrigo’s haunting guitar echoes in her empty room. Tears wet on her cheeks.

374 words, 15-20th January 2019

Joaquin Rodrigo - Concierto de Aranjuez

 June 2018

As soon as he sat down at the corner table you knew with certainty how dangerous your decision was to come to the Red Lion tonight.  

He had stood for a moment silhouetted in the doorway and the fire in the grate had hissed angrily as the cold wind accompanied by a dank mist swirled uninvited into the room. The men at the bar turned to look at him, muttering to each other. It was obvious he wasn’t from the village.

In his shabby coat he appeared rough in appearance but this was at odds with his fedora hat that he had flung onto the nearest table and his fine features which were highlighted in the weak lamplight.  But there was something strangely familiar about the way he ran his fingers through his hair to push back the dark lock that had fallen over his forehead. His steel blue eyes scanned the room appearing casual but intently searching. 

You shrink back into the protective shadows of the wood paneled booth where you sit alone and pull down the brim of your hat to shield your face from his gaze. Slowly unfolding your newspaper, your hands threatening to shake, you pretend to read, but your mind is racing. 

How were you going to warn Jacque not to come?

20 July 2018 © Jill Harrison

October 2015

We had a "purple prose" exercise at writer's group.  I changed the introduction paragraphs (78 words) of an article I had written about Arckaringa Station in South Australia to Purple Prose (282 words!) In fact the first sentence is 88 words long! There was a lot of laughter amongst our members when I read out my piece at my writer's group. 

We gratefully welcomed the long-awaited-for respite from the constant bone-jarring jolting of the rocky dusty track as we steered our red-dust stained white Prado 4-wheel-drive through the wire strung gate hanging precariously by its hinges to a fence post which appeared to have been fashioned from a rusted piece of railway line, and steadily decelerated before braking to a halt beneath the thin dappled shade cast by the trailing blue tinged leaves of the tall stringy Coolibah trees encircling the low roofed, wide verandahed Arckaringa Station outback homestead. (88 words)  The typically Australian fragrance of eucalyptus assisted by a slight lazy breeze assaulted our senses as we prised ourselves from the cramped stuffy confines of our four-wheel-drive and into the searing red heat of the midday desert sun.  A battered station truck which appeared to have not been washed for many years, if ever, rounded the corner of the nearby empty cattle yards and came to a stop in a cloud of choking dust beside us.  The door of the truck creaked open and a craggy, lined, weather worn leathery face with a chin covered in grey stubble, uttered a gravely “g-day” in a slow drawling listless way from under a shabby tattered Akubra hat which was so ingrained with dust that it was the same hue as the red dirt.

We soon learned from his introduction that the man was Hobbsy, the station manager. Hobbsy was somewhat short on words as if he would rather not deal with city slicker tourists, as he waved his hand unceremoniously towards a clump of low scrubby trees across the yard beyond the sheds and curtly invited us to “pick up spot” to set up our camp. 

February 2015

This was a creative writing exercise for our writing group.
My grandmother did have a huge vegetable garden, and there was a man that lived over the lane we used to visit, but I don't remember his name, and I don't remember any sunflowers, so this story is partly true and partly fictional.

A Forest of Sunflowers

There is a forest of sunflowers at the bottom of my grandmother’s garden, up against the back picket fence between the chook pen and the outhouse under the weeping trees.

The sunflowers are so tall that when we stand amongst them we can only just see over the top. We crouch down on the dusty dry red dirt amongst their stiff scratchy stalks. The sunflower heads are so big they form a canopy shading us from the hot sun and casting a yellow glow over us. Sometimes we take a book with us and read it sitting amongst the sunflowers. It’s our secret world where anything is possible.  As we doze in the sun the world of the Faraway Tree comes to life under the sunflowers.

Beyond the sunflowers is grandma’s big vegetable garden stretching all the way from the back veranda to the chook pen. It seems like every vegetable you can imagine is growing there.  Every day grandma collects vegetables from the garden for our dinner, pulling up potatoes, onions and carrots with the dirt still clinging to their bulbs. Dirt pathways run between the beds and after our bath and on washing day we scoop the water out of the bath or the laundry trough with a can and water the garden.    
It’s fun to help grandma dig in the garden beds and push the seeds into the damp earth that we have watered with our bath water.  But our favourite place is the sunflower patch.
It’s a mystery how the sunflowers came to grow there. Grandma says she didn’t plant the seeds. Perhaps old Mr Rosini who lives in the little cottage over the back lane threw the seeds over the fence one day when he was cleaning out his budgie’s cage.  When we sit amongst the sunflowers we can hear him talking in Italian to his budgie, and Bluie talks back to him. Sometimes we go with our Aunt to Mr Rosini's house, taking with us fresh warm bread that Grandma has just taken out of her big black oven.  He turns on his radio so we can listen to the “children’s hour” and he pulls off chunks of the soft bread for us and slathers it with jam.
My Aunt says Mr Rosini has lived there since the war. Perhaps the sunflowers are how he repays Grandma for her kindness.

July 2014

Passion is the camera in my hands
Walking through the bush searching for delicate orchids peeping from their hiding places beneath the trees.
Crouching on the red dirt in a field of everlastings spreading like a flowing river through the scrub. Wave on wave of pink, white and yellow...endless.
Seeing the light around me, how its highlights and shadows play and change as I chase the light.
Focusing on that one perfect bloom and capturing it in all its perfection.
The excitement of finding a flower I have never seen before.
Marvelling at the perfect shape. The infinite colours and variety.
Yearning for the next time I can walk among them.
May camera in my hands.
This is my passion. 

June 2013

Bilbarin Morning

A wild wind whips across the yard scattering leaves in devilish dance, battering a loose piece of tin on the roof and whistling through a crack in the sapling walls of the hut. 

Tendrils of golden morning light seep thinly through the trailing branches of the peppermint trees.  It bursts through the door as we tumble out onto the verandah in a blur of coats and scarves. Icy water baubles clinging in wait for us on the eaves release themselves as we bound down the steps. The ground crunches nosily under our boots like a military tattoo.  The gate clatters behind us. 

Daisy stamps impatiently in her stall. Her hot breath swirls around her like a smoky wreath. She thrusts her head into the stream of grain spilling into the feed bin.

Dry wheat stalks whip against our legs as we run across the stubble paddock.  Through the stringy gimlet trees, jumping the gurgling water in the gully, pushing our way through the scrub.  A kangaroo bounds away into the mist. Red gum flowers are bursting from their cups and we stop to pick a spray for Miss.

The clanging bell calls out to us across the dusty school yard. The welcoming warmth of the fire in the stove as we slide into our desks and pull out our books.  Miss smiles at us, absorbing the perfume of the bush as she arranges the flowers in a jar on the window sill.

Monday, March 9, 2009
Travel Writing and Photography Course - Fremantle, 7-8 March 2009
Last weekend I attended a travel writing and photography course run by writer John Harman, and photographer Dale Neill. The piece you read below - Salvatore Bellini - is an entirely fictitious piece I wrote from the photo you see of the accordion player taken by Abigail Harman. To log onto John, Dale and Abigail's sites please refer to my web links.

Salvatore Bellini - Cefalu, Sicily
Abigail Harman's photo of the accordion player

The mournful strains of accordion music drift slowly up through the filtered early morning light and seeps into my consciousness. I turn over and pull around me the delicious folds of the feather quilt. The music is a sound I hear every morning. It wakes me gently with its soft kiss.

I stretch, and rising, walk across the cool tiled floor to fling open the window, and leaning out turn my face towards the crisp sea air; it’s salty moisture coming to me on the gentle breeze to settle on my face. Along the waterfront I can see the old man sitting on his stool in his usual place in front of the high stone wall. I cannot see his face, as it is hidden by the shadow of his cap, but I know his lined face looks as worn as the open leather suitcase by his side.

Salvatore Bellini. Every morning he cycles his bike along the winding cobbled streets through Cefalu and takes up his position here on the waterfront. As he plays he looks longingly out across the water. He is playing for the love of his life Antonella, who was lost in the sea between Italy and Sicily during the dark days of the last war: and perhaps in the hope his music will bring her back to him.

I had rented an apartment for the summer in the medieval town of Cefalu on Sicily’s north coast and had met Salvatore on the day that I arrived. Drawn by the music I had followed the sound and found him. As he played his haunting tune he was gazing out to sea with such a look of yearning in his blue eyes that a tear had escaped unbidden from my eyes. And at that instant he had looked up at me and smiled.

(photo courtesy of Abigail Harman Photography - Abigail Harman Photography)

I have recently joined a writing group in Bunbury. We had to write a piece of "flash fiction" including a word new to us from the dictionary - I chose mazarine. And so the story continues.... 16 September 2010...

Apartments in France - photo taken by me in 2005
As I leant on the cool ledge of the window sill the morning sun sparkled on the mazarine (deep blue)  ocean and white caps kicked up by the gentle breeze  raced each other across the bay.   Fishermen were pulling their colourful wooden rowing skiffs over the stony sand of the narrow beach below the stone wall and rowing out to their fishing boats anchored offshore.
Below me in the piazza the smell of fresh bread wafted from the open door of the (pasticceria)  bakery, from where Rosa was bringing out tables and chairs and arranging them in the sunshine on the cobble stones.  The flower seller was placing overflowing buckets and pots of flowers at his corner near the fountain.  A colourful tarpaulin had been erected on one side of the piazza under which a market gardener was setting up his display of colourful fruits and vegetables.  
I knew Salvatore would be waiting for me on the waterfront, so I pulled on my dress which I had discarded on a chair the night before, slipped on my sandles and straw hat, grabbed my bag, pulled the door shut behind me and went down the stairs and out into the piazza.   Pausing to speak briefly with Rosa, I bought my favourite calzone and two caffé latte’s from the bakery, and two blood oranges from the fruit stall and then wended my way down the stone staircase to the waterfront. 
Salvatore Bellini was at his usual spot on the bench sheltered by the high stone wall, playing his accordion.  He smiled when he saw me coming.  (è bello vederti) “It's good to see you”. I picked up the flower which was laying on the bench beside him and gave him a kiss on his aged cheek. Looking out over the water we sat in companionable silence and ate the food I had brought.   This had become our morning routine over the summer and we both looked forward to it. 
When we had finished I reached down into my bag and placed into Salvatore’s trembling hands an old leather bound book.  The pages were yellowed and well thumbed.   As he opened it he gasped as on the front page was written “To Antonella from your beloved Salvatore, January 1935”.
Calzone - bread roll baked with ham, cheese or other stuffings.
pasticceria -pastry shop.

Our latest task in my writing group is to write a piece in either the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd person - and then re-write it in one of the other points of view. So I have continued on with my story about Salvatore.  I wonder which one you prefer.
 - 10 August 2011

1st person – 432 words

When we had finished our food I reached down into my bag and placed into Salvatore’s hands an old leather bound book. The pages were yellowed and well thumbed. As he opened it he gasped as on the front page was written “To Antonella from your beloved Salvatore, January 1935”.

With trembling hands Salvatore turned the first few pages, scanning over the familiar handwriting, before resting his blurred eyes finally on a painting a few pages in. It was a water colour, delicately depicting a lake and a house.

By now tears were running down Salvatore’s lined cheeks.

Putting my hand on his arm I gently whispered, “What is it Salvatore?”

Touching the picture lightly with his fingertips he replied, “Antonella painted this picture. It is a special place where we used to go”.

Caught up in his emotion all I could say was, “It’s beautiful”.

“Where did you find her book?”

“I went to the antique book shop on Via Porpora. I love the smell and the feel of the old books. And I asked if they had any books from the war years.  Amongst them I found this book. Something attracted me to the cover and when I opened it and saw the names Salvatore and Antonella my heart skipped a beat and I felt my skin tingle, and I just knew it must be the two of you.”

“I gave this book to Antonella for her seventeenth birthday. She loved to draw and paint and write poetry.”

“See here” I said turning to a page marked by a strip of ribbon.

There was a yellowed photo of two people. The girl had long dark hair and her head rested against the shoulder of a young man. There were pencil drawings of field flowers around the photo.

“She was so beautiful and we were so in love” Salvatore said lifting the book and softly kissing the image.

“We were going to be married, but then the war came…..” . He trailed off and sat silently, immersed in his own thoughts.

“I can’t believe you have found Antonella’s book.  It was here in Cefula and I didn’t know. Thank you. I can’t tell you how much this means to me. You have given me a very special gift – it is like you have brought her back to me.”

“That first morning I heard your music, I knew there was a reason we were drawn together.”

“You are a very special friend and you have made an old man very happy” he smiled and I saw a new sparkle in his eyes. 

Painting found in an book which belonged to my husband's grandmother.
 2nd Person   -  512 words

You finish your calzone and wipe your hands on the napkin making sure there is no food on your fingers. You reach down into your bag and take out an old leather bound book which you place in Salvatore’s hands. The pages are yellow and look well thumbed. You watch Salvatore as he opens the book. He gasps when he reads on the front page – “To Antonella from your beloved Salvatore, January 1935.”

You see Salvatore’s hands tremble as he turns the first few pages. He seems to be scanning over the pages, not reading. His eyes are blurry with tears. He stops a few pages into the book where there is a water colour painting. It delicately depicts a lake and a house. You see that tears are running down Salvatore’s lined cheeks.

You want to comfort him so you put your hand gently on his arm. “What is it Salvatore?” you whisper.

Salvatore touches the picture lightly with his finger tips. “Antonelle painted this picture. It is a special place where we used to go”.

You can feel a lump in your throat. “It’s beautiful”.

“Where did you find her book?”

“I went to the antique book shop on Via Porpora. I love the smell and the feel of the old books. And I asked if they had any books from the war years.  Amongst them I found this book. Something attracted me to the cover and when I opened it and saw the names Salvatore and Antonella my heart skipped a beat and I felt my skin tingle, and I just knew it must the two of you.”

“I gave this book to Antonella for her seventeenth birthday. She loved to draw and paint and write poetry.”

You reach over and turn the pages of the book until you come to a page which is marked with a strip of ribbon. “See here”.

There is a yellowed photo of two people. The girl has long dark hair and her head is rested against the shoulder of a young man. There are pencil drawings of field flowers around the photo.

“She was so beautiful and we were so in love” Salvatore says and he lifts the book and softly kisses the image.

“We were going to be married, but then the war came…..” . He stops talking and sits silently. He seems to be immersed in his own thoughts, so you sit and wait.

He dabs his eyes with a handkerchief. “I can’t believe you have found Antonella’s book.  It was here in Cefula and I didn’t know. Thank you. I can’t tell you how much this means to me. You have given me a very special gift – it is like you have brought her back to me.”

“That first morning I heard your music, I knew there was a reason we were drawn together.”

He nods. “You are a very special friend and you have made an old man very happy” When he turns to smile at you can see new life in his eyes and they are sparkling.

Making a life "out east"
29 September 2010

A wild wind whipped across the yard, tugging at branches and rattling doors. It whistled through a crack in the sapling walls of the hut and banged a loose piece of tin on the roof. Somewhere a dog barked.

May lay and listened for a moment and then with a sigh roused herself from her bed and crossed the earthen floor to the fireplace where she pushed life into the few glowing coals with the poker. Lighting the hurricane lamp on the mantelpiece she tied her shawl around her thin shoulders and taking two heavy coats from a hook on the wall, drew back the door latch. The wind flung the handle from her hand and she fought to close the door behind her.

Holding the spluttering lamp above her head she stepped off the veranda and crossed the yard as the first few heavy drops of rain began to fall. The flickering light danced around her throwing shadows on the tent which was pitched under the peppercorn trees.

The door of the tent flapped crazily in the wind as she stooped to enter. Two faces looked up at her with wide eyes. May held the lamp up high above her head to check for leaks in the tent and then flung the coats across the two forms which huddled beneath course woolen blankets on the sacking beds.  She pulled the coats up around her boys’ shoulders, comforting them briefly with a reassuring touch.

“Go to sleep now, it’s only the wind” she said softly.

Leaving the tent May paused on the veranda of the hut for a moment, leaning against the smooth salmon gum veranda post. She looked up at the moon that swam in a turbulent sea of cloud, oblivious of the wind that tangled her long hair and tore at her clothes.

This was not the life she had envisioned when she married the handsome John Jackson in Narrogin in 1912. Restless with town life and drawn to farming, John had loaded their possessions and his five children onto a cart and had come ‘out east’ to the small railway siding town of Bilbarin, leaving behind the big house in Narrogin with the fancy wrought iron decoration along the veranda and lace curtains in the windows. John had built a rough three roomed hut from gimlet and salmon gum posts with whitewashed bagged walls, on their patch of land in the bush. Here May raised her growing family, while he tried to “make a go of it” eking out a meager living working away for long periods clearing land for farmers with an axe.

The depression had hit them hard in more ways than one and May was left to bury her dreams in the dry dirt with her bare hands that were now rough and aged by hard work. 

The above this is start of a story about my grandmother. Little remains of Biblarin today, the photo is of the railway siding at Bilbarin today.

Crepes in Fremantle
The character is entirely fictitious, but to taste delicious crepes please visit Michelle's Crepe Suzettes at the Fremantle Markets Saturday's and Sundays.
8 March, 2009

With a practised hand Antoinette ladles the creamy batter onto the sizzling plate. At the window a young girl sits transfixed watching her swirling the mixture evenly into a thin round circle and then flipping it over with a long spatula.

Antoinette smiles at the girl and the smile lights up her face. Every weekend at the markets she stands here before the steaming hot stone pouring, smoothing and flipping to create the crepes that will make their way into the mouths of the gathering crowd: the creperi has a reputation for good food and people are willing wait.

It is a long way from Antoinette’s village in Tuscany and the well scrubbed wooden table in her grandmother’s kitchen and the young girl reminds Antoinette of home. She smiles to herself and softly speaks a few words in Italian.

The Fremantle markets attract hundreds of people every weekend. They come for bargains, fresh fruit and vegetables, a special gift perhaps. It is a vibrant hive of bustling life, colour, sights, sounds, smells and languages. A moving kaleidoscope.

For Antoinette it is the start of a new life far away from her homeland.


  1. I loved your story about Salvatore. It made me feel emotional and was a real tug at the heart strings.

  2. Ditto ... love that - it was so real


I hope you have enjoyed your visit to my blog. Thank you for stopping by and for taking the time to comment. I read and very much appreciate every comment and love hearing from you. I will try to visit your blogs in return.