Monday, December 31


Tagged on my habits

Gary tagged me to tell eight random facts or habits about myself. In turn, I need to tag others. The rules, should you decide to accept them: 1 - Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves. 2 - People who are tagged need to write a post on their own blog (about their eight things) and post these rules. 3 - At the end of your blog, you need to choose others to get tagged and list their names. 4 - Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

Eight random facts or habits about myself.
I’m more an evening person, who’s therefore more likely to sleep in in the morning. But I’m not totally incorrigible; especially since water restrictions force me rise very early to water the garden veggie patch at least 2 mornings a week.

I like making lists, including the time to complete each task and to tick them off as they are completed

But timekeeping is not my best trait; I am often about 5 minutes late. Even when we have our choir practice at our home the members may be already knocking on the door as I am just finishing my breakfast.

Sometimes I can be easily distracted but when it comes to formal presentations my preference is to be always well prepared.

People think I am usually generous.

I don’t give up easily; rather I will persevere like a dog with a bone. When I badly dislocated my shoulder and fractured my elbow and radial arc I was told golf would never be possible again, but, with the help of a good physio I was soon regularly playing again.

As I have become older (and hopefully wiser) sometimes I’ve become too much of a talk feast.

Singing began formerly for me in my thirties which brought about a change in taste to prefer opera; as it remains, but I also appreciate most musical forms.

I will leave it up to any one reading this post if they would like to be tagged and join in.

Friday, December 21

Christmas break-up party

We held our final fundraiser and Christmas break-up party for the Malawi Support Group where we sang Carols and were entertained and danced to the wonderful music of the "The Degenerates" who donated their services for the evening.The funds raised will be used to complete the flooring. walls and chairs for the new church and hall building in Ntdandire, Malawi. I will have pictures in the New Year.

At this time each year we exchange Christmas cards to include family news and best wishes. Below was a simple but inspiring short message prefacing an email I received from a medical missionary who I have previously corresponded with in Malawi, now back in Ireland –I pass it on to you at this time of the year also with my best wishes ~

May the Spirit of Christmas bring you peace, the gladness of Christmas give you hope, the warmth of Christmas grant you love with every good wish.
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Thursday, December 13


Summer is officially upon us, as is evidenced by our dry backyard, contrasted by the green from our small vegie patch of tomatoes, letuce and zucini, kept moist by a layer of sugar cane mulch ( advised and set up by Chris Willams)
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Sunday, December 9

Eltham and the Yarra River Melbourne.

Eltham, where we reside is about 20km North East from Melbourne. The landscape is hilly, unlike most of Melbourne which is a flood plain. It is mostly soft clay, and its evocative panorama was painted by the early Impressionists whose prints are displayed along the many and varied walking tracks around the Yarra River.
It also has many unique mud brick homes and has attracted many sculptors, poets and writers, but otherwise is a typical patch of suburbia.

Because of the suspended silt carried downstream from erosion and run-off, the Yarra River has the reputation as "the river that flows upside down". It is of prime importance to Aboriginal people, whose meaning was thought to be "ever flowing".

I have composed a few rhymes about Eltham and the Yarra to capture those aspects mentioned. By the Bend of the Yarra River is another poem about the river and an imagined Swagman. A Swagman was a common site where I grew up in a country town in far Northern NSW.
Usually there would be one trudging along the road carrying a swag with a Billy plainly visible whenever we went out with my parents in the bush for picnics.

Yarra River & Eltham

River first panned in our quest for gold,
Impressionists painted scenes to behold;
The valleys, streams, hypnotic eucalypt scent,
for verses free flowing from this poets lips.

Bellbirds ring out in parks where we play
And the Magpies warble their carols each day;
In gullies of wattle, under ghostly grey gums
From mountain stream trickle to river beyond

As soil crumbles down the steep slopes
It joins the fast current, over sharp rocks
Down over rapids, flows upside down
Ever onwards over her sacred ground


Bend in the river seen in fading haze,
Swagman pauses to steady his gaze.
Birds cry warnings, in fading daylight;
Pray rest swaggie under a pale moonlight.
Swaggie heeded his feathered friend’s call
Made up his campfire for Billy to boil.

Daybreak, rested, smoked borrowed fag
Refreshed for ever to carry the swag ;
To wander the bush, to live off the land;
Odd jobs for farmers in need of a hand

The romance of the bush no longer I see
Or his picture with swag on a packet of tea
His tuckers all gone, like nations first dawn
Trees morn swaggie all alone and forlorn

The river’s currents are guided by stars
From their mountain streams to oceans afar;
Ghost of swaggie rests in it’s fresh air
Freedom at last to roam without care

Tuesday, November 27

Labour Victory

Last Saturday Australians elected the Australian Labour Party (ALP) led by Kevin Rudd to power; the result was the 3rd biggest swing against a sitting government since 1949 during a period of relative prosperity. The environmentally minded Greens also slightly increased their vote and will hold the balance of power in the Senate, our upper house of legislative review which reviews Bills passed in the lower House, the House of Represenatives.

Work choices with its perceived workplace inequity, an incomplete approach to climate change, education (although this is primarily a state matter) and ongoing participation in an unpopular war (Rudd has promised staged withdrawal from Iraq) were the key preference areas which generated a national 6% swing to Labour. Prime Minister John Howard became only the second prime Minister in Australian history to lose his own seat in Bennelong to former ABC presenter and Journalist Maxine McKew. Click here for her website. Prime Minister Rudd played tribute to Howard’s 33 years of public service in his victory speech. The most immediate changes will include the winding back of Work Choices, and ratifying Kyoto. Consultation will also begin immediately with representatives of indigenous groups on the most appropriate form of wording to an apology to be extended to the Australian aborigines.

Business does not see it as business as usual but rather as opportunity to benefit from improved co operative efforts between the States, which are now also all governed by Labour Governments. There will be no one left to blame over Commonwealth versus state funding and infrastructure bottlenecks, Heath funding and Education. The newly elected ALP will require the support of the Greens Party in the upper house to pass their intended legislation which will be slowed down to a trickle as they extract concessions in line with their own policy biases.

I think it is the passing of an era. Senior previous Ministers of the coalition have resigned and the new contenders for leadership in opposition such as Malcolm Turnbill,- click here for his website (who actively sought to have Kyoto ratified within his own party) seek a change in policy away from their ideological factions which have proven to be unpopular with voters.

Sunday, November 25

Just Enough Faith

What is faith and how important is it in our life?

One can simply say faith is faith in ourselves or it can be faith in the spiritual sense; a faith that underwrites our autonomy. Although we attribute great scientific discoveries to the minds of geniuses, asrophohsicist John Gribbin contends most discoveries arise from the painstaking work of ordinary people engaged in research who build on the prior work of previous generations and whose faith and curiosity create for us those great new discoveries without thought of personal glory.

Faith is the very essence of life; that vital ingredient that gives us our conviction and confidence. I was reminded recently of the dire consequences of losing ones faith by Jeff Gambin at a luncheon where he was the guest speaker. Jeff Gambin founded “Just Enough Faith” to help homeless people regain enough faith in themselves to lift them out of homelessness, and to offer a hand up to all those in danger of becoming homeless.

His story begins at University where he studied entomology (study of bugs) rather than medicine; contrary to a stern father’s wishes who consequently refused to financially support him. Jeff learnt cooking and became an expert chef to support his studies. After graduation he became a very successful Crop Duster, and later Restaurateur and Entrepreneur.

One winters night after experiencing a continuation of a conflict with his business partner he sat alone on a park bench to contemplate his future.
A homeless man offered him a blanket.
‘It’s cold out there mate. Better take my blanket.’
Jeff replied ‘I am okay’. ‘Just thinking.’
The Homeless man left but returned to repeat his offer ‘its cold out there mate, better take my blanket.’
Jeff was becoming annoyed, ‘You obviously think I’m homeless, but I happen to like my own company; I’m okay!’
The homeless man walked off leaving him with his blanket and commented ‘I have heard all of that before, you better keep warm tonight; it’s cold out there.’

This experience changed Jeff’s life. He spent weeks searching for the homeless man to thank and eventually found him. This man, who previously was a farmer had walked of the land during a prolonged drought and being unable to find work in the city, too proud to ask for assistance, had instead turned in solace to alcoholism and homelessness. Jeff wanted to help but found the homeless sceptical about his offer of help. Consequently with $4.50 in his pocket and only the clothes he was wearing he decided to become the equivalent of a homeless man, by staying in shelters, visiting welfare agencies and intermingling with other homeless people in his quest to discover why people became homeless and how he might best help them.

After many weeks the insight came to him; homelessness arises because people lose faith in themselves. How much faith do they need? Just enough to lift them up and out of that mindset.

Since forming Just Enough Faith(JEF), Jeff has amassed thousands of regular volunteers: dentists, doctors and helpers who each night deliver restaurant quality meals and other services to his clients and the homeless. Many thousands of homeless people have re-entered society directly as consequence of his efforts and those of the ever growing army of volunteers. He has continued with his own successful business which largely funds ‘Just Enough Faith’.

You can visit his website and read about his inspirational work by clicking here.

Tuesday, November 13

Ntandire Church /Hall nears completion

Here are some photos taken by Dyson in the afternoon on the 11th November 2007 which show the roof and doors now in place. Dyson tells me some parts of Malawi have received some good rains and people have planted maize. With further rains expected anytime this is good news for a country which is exporting its surplus storage stocks left over from last year.

We plan to have our own Christmas function in our school hall with entertainment provided by one of our Malawi support members whose band will entertain us on the night. The modest admittance fee will provide further funds to assist this community to refurbish the inside of their Ntandire Church/ hall.
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Friday, November 2


My youngest daughter has written articles on downsizing which caught the attention of a researcher from the Australian Readers Digest.

Consequently in this month’s edition (with Hillary Clinton on the Cover) you can read her thoughts on page 34 in an article entitled Sea Change in the city, together with stories of 7 other urban warriors.
She also appeared on Channel 9 for 'A Current Affair' at 6.30pm on Friday talking about downsizing with some of her songs.
You can also hear her songs at

It also reminds me of the possible need to downside work commitments. Surveys have indicated today we work much longer hours than in the past with many regularly working over 50 hours a week. As a nation we rank alongside the United States for countries working the longest hours which can often mean there is insufficient time for family, friends and our communities where voluntrary work is similarly decreasing. I remember my own working life and for a period when I was the most productive and yet barely worked normal office hours.

I had worked with a large international group which had subsequently been taken over by another wholly Australian owned company which was the leader in its field. Despite being the one taken over I had secured a good relationship with the senior management and found myself reporting the MD with a very busy schedule and a number of major initiatives in the pipeline. However just prior to the appointment I had committed to participating in the Great Victorian Bile ride which involved cycling for over a 1,100 km spread into daily trips of 100km or more mainly along the Great Ocean Rd. To my horror I realised (not being particually fit and not having ridden a bike for over 30 years) I would need to do regular serious daily sustained training for at least 3 to 4 months beforehand. There was no alternative but to either cancel the ride to enable me to devote myself fully to the work tasks ahead, (what I would normally have done) or leave early each day and begin a sensible training routine. I adopted the latter alternative which necessitated tearing out of the building most afternoons early in order to do 2/3 hours riding where I could.

When at work I focused on my commitments and managed to secure my objectives. Nobody seemed to bother much about my hours. What it taught me was we work more effectively when we have a good work balance and during that time I think it was one of the less stressful, yet more productive and successful in my entire previous working life.

On the day I was due to take leave and take off the next day on the ride I mentioned to my boss I was leaving early, but he insisted I stay on as he said there was a presentation I shouldn’t miss. All of the staff had bought hilarious items for me to take with them which were all individuality presented to me amid roars of laughter along with a suitably hilarious poem.

Friday, October 26

Bloggers Picnic

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I had the pleasure with my wife recently of attending a picnic at nearby Westerfolds Park for local Melbournian bloggers, 2 of whom live nearby.
It was an excellent lunch with shared food and wine. The event and pictures were well recorded on Gina’s bog which you can read by clicking here.

Those present in the photo were Val, Miss Eagle , Gina and myself, all rugged up in the carpark as it was unusually cold and windy.
Despite the inclemency of the days weather meeting up with fellow bloggers always seems to be a most agreeable experience.

Sunday, October 14

Rainbow Lorikeets

Mating pair fly in

Rainbow lorikeets mate together for life
One couple did visit in the first light
Rainbow colours, yellow blue and red
Sample spring flowers was a pair newly wed

Unworried, carefree they chatter in glee
Tasting sweet nectar, as they roam free
Toast buds of spring, waste not a minute
Rejoin a flock, blue skies only limit

Sunsets sinks to end a spring feast
Gathered I see 500 roosting at least
Town tree a favourite to hear joyful din
Silence descends as night does begin

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Friday, October 5

The War on Democracy

I recently watched a film entitled “The War on Democracy” which is Australian Film maker John Pilger’s first venture into a major feature film.
John Pilger is an interesting character who has been an outstanding war correspondent, author and film maker whose long list of awards and accreditations stretches around the globe. He has been International Reporter of the Year and winner of the United Nations Association Peace Prize and Gold Medal; in 2003 he received the Sophie Prize for “30 years of exposing deception and improving human rights”. He is a Frank H T Rhodes Visiting Professor at Cornell University, New York.

You can check out his Website and comments on the film by clicking here.

The Film itself has Latin America at heart, but also takes you on a journey to Chile and Bolivia as with wit and compassion he tells the documented story about ordinary people, the poorest on earth, who refuse to be victims and in defiance demand and win their freedom by achieving democracy. Pilger is meticulous in his documented research and interviews with those effected and responsible at the time. He challenges us “to look in the mirror” at the actions of various governments whose actual involvement is often obscured from view by either censorship or “spin”.

Tuesday, September 25

Ntandire Church/ Hall roof takes shape

In August we all trooped off to see Eltham Little Theatre's Production of "Stepping Out".
“Stepping Out” tells the story of seven women and one man attending a tap dancing class in the local church hall. The hilarious play deals with their lives and efforts to dance. It was a a superbly acted production and in the last act the appreciative audience demanded two encores. We nearly filled the theatre and raised sufficient funds for the roof sheeting for the new church hall in Ntandire.

As you can see the project is proceeding with the roof near completion.

Dyson took these photos when the timber work for the roof was completed prior to the fitting of the iron sheet roofing. He took the photo above of Sat Sacrament Classes (Called Tili Tonse ) for the young ones who are to start receiving Sacrament.

More photos are available on the Malawi site.
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Friday, September 14


I have previously reviewed Chris Williams book Old Land, New Landscapes about Australian Farmers, Conservation and the Land care movement in Australia, which are creating a new green wedge of improved bio diversity through private farmland of our immense continent. Click here if you would like to read this review.

Chris is currently the Bush Protection Director for Trust for Nature in Victoria, an organisation whose objective is to preserve “Nature in Perpetuity” for all future generations. Trust for Nature assists private landholders set up legally binding covenants on private land by setting aside areas to be held in trust for nature. Larger acquisitions of entire properties are similarly covenanted.

Chris and his brother currently own a farm which grows natives plants as a ‘seed orchard” in areas previously used as grazing paddocks. The remainder of the farm is bushland with various types of native vegetation managed for nature conservation and to collect the wild seed to sell for revegetation and restoration for projects and mines. Some seeds go also to nurseries to grow plants for gardens.
The property is called 'Sarana' which is a name inherited from previous owners which Chris has since ascertained means "Sanctuary" in Sanskrit.
Chris studied Sanskrit for a year at University long ago, and realised the pronunciation is "Sharana" but decided to keep "Sarana". At any rate it is indeed a sanctuary and I trust you’re able from the above pictures to gain some insight into the beauty and fragility of the Australian landscape. The farm is located in a beautiful setting in close proximity to the popular Warrumbungle National Park, known for its rich old volcanic landscape and outback feel despite a relatively high rainfall.

The Warrumbungle Range is the most westerly extension of the Great Dividing Range, after you leave these mountains its uninterrupted, old, flat, dry Australia until you reach the MacDonnell Ranges in Central Australia!

The photos show 'Sarana ' in landscape context, Chris with a harvest of E.blakleyi, Timor Rock from the hill with the observatory in the distance and Back Creek Rapids.
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Thursday, September 6


I think sleeping is an underrated pastime these days.

Have you ever awakened refreshed, the problem of the previous day now resolved, or at least you have worried about it less? A good night’s sleep can do wonders!
Not that much is known about the dream world that apparently we all experience and what actually happens within the brain when we are asleep. Experts are divided as to whether the brain uses the time to erase unwanted memories or to prioritise what is important to be stored. Maybe it’s a mixture of both. It was only in the fifties the so called rapid eye movement (REM), undergone in the first few hours in deep sleep, was observed, followed by resting periods when our dreams become far less imaginative.

Prior to industrialisation we slept for much longer periods which were more in line with the changing seasons. Early dairies estimate the usual average hours at 10 per night compared to today of between 6-9. Einstein apparently loved his sleep, and liked to have at least 9 hours a night. With this is mind I composed a short poem about sleep renewal.

The day ends as always
Planet created that way
Rest and sleep companions
Mind renewed

Tree of life continues
From its leafy canopy
Engulfs, enlightens, entertains
Life’s oxygen

Rays of hope for a new day
Awaken new approaches
Patterns our life cycles
Repeat again

Monday, August 27

Yarra Wattle

At the time of Federation in Australia in 1901, the wattle was considered the national flower as it was found in all states and territories. Its golden colour was linked to prosperity and the spirit of the emerging nation. Golden Wattle Acacia pycnantha became our national floral emblem in 1988 and floral tributes are often seen at funerals and were evident at those of the Bali bombings.

Walter Withers was a famous Australian landscape painter who in his later years owned a property in Eltham. He painted many scenes at that time in history. Several of his paintings were of scenes similar to the above photos taken recently of wattle flowering on the banks of the Yarra at nearby Warrandyte. Prints of his pictures and history are interspersed along its banks which add interest for walkers. The Yarra is often said to be flowing upside down because of its muddy appearances as it carries suspended silt.

With these facts in mind I have composed some verse

River you reflect our first spring rays
Wattle symbol our first nations praise
Withers surveyed in morning haze
Wattle blooms a picture to gaze

Withers heeded nature’s spring call
Mixed vibrant colours for us to adore
Painted a picture of natures embrace
Paintings resplendent of new nations place

The rivers currents still flow upside down
From mountain streams to city, ocean bound
Withers pictures now prints on the banks
Landscapes he painted put spring in our steps
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Tuesday, August 14

In the spirit of dancing


I recently attended a dance performance entitled “I like Shorts”. The name was indicative of the format: just 10 minutes of individual dance performance acts by emerging and established dancers. Although some of the presentations were excellent others represented the longest 10 minutes in dance history, as it was far too repetitive and left the audience bored. I think an artist owes some measure of responsibility to entertain within the ambit of artful expression.

Dance however must be one of the most subjective types of expression within the whole gambit of the arts, yet it has existed since time in memorial in all of its different forms within different communities and across cultures. Amongst early indigenous peoples we know it celebrated their life cycles, to welcome in new seasons, to celebrate a successful hunt or season or as an initiation ceremony into adulthood. Many of these elaborate dance ceremonies extended over several days and were taken very seriously. The dance was almost always accompanied by much singing and playing of musical instruments, which themselves became objects which were held in reverence. Aboriginals in Australia in Arnham land in the Northern Territory remain traditional owners of the Didgeridoo, an instrument fashioned from the trunks or branches of eucalyptus trees hollowed out by termites with a mouthpiece made from bee wax and adorned with paintings and carvings. The instrument stretches back into their ‘Dreamtime’ estimated to be an uninterrupted period of occupancy and affinity to the land encompassing 60,000 years. Aborigines have a rich spiritualty encompassing their own law, passed on by the elders. The Didgeridoo was considered a sacred instrument and played an integral part in all religious ceremonies. Strict rules apply to its use with heavy penalties for transgressors, as they believe its spirit lives on in the instrument. However any instrument made by a non-Indigenous person is deemed to have no spirit; considered merely a musical instrument. The same principles apply to Didgeridoos made by Aboriginal people who do not have the instrument by virtue of their cultural heritage.

When I was in Kiribiti I witnessed their dance ceremonious and singing, representing an oral history from first migration, maybe from Tahiti about 10,000 years ago in giant canoes. The training and rehearsal extended over several months before each important celebration and the elaborate dance routines were both graceful and beautiful. I learnt from a local volunteer from Canada, who had decided to learn their language and dance that they were arduous and difficult to remember. She recounted a story to me of a young man who had kindly dedicated himself to train her for a dance but died several months before the intended celebration. During the dance she lost her way as her mind went blank. Immediately the image of the man came to her and she had no further recollection other than when it was completed several hours later. Many complemented her on her performance afterwards.

The above photos show several young Kiribiti dancers from the island of Tarawa in their resplendent costumes which were all hand woven.
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Friday, August 3

Hot Rocks to heat the world

A former work colleague kindly brought to my attention the latest report in the Herald Sun Newspaper which reported Federal Industry Minister Ian MacFarlane’s statement on geothermal energy as a probable source of up to 30% of Australia baseload power needs in the future.

For the full article click here.

He added in his e-mail to me “Being a cynic I can only see the government's involvement as a hindrance”.I tend to agree as Scientists have been actively championing renewable energy such as hot rocks for several decades and I think it’s only recently political parties have donned “green coats” in preparation for the forthcoming election.

Already there are several investment funds set up for investors willing to risk private funds into new mining ventures, mining for hot rocks.

So what’s involved and how does it work?

The energy is in the form of heat stored beneath our feet, the hot molten rocks that lie just beneath the earths crust. The technology involves water being injected into a borehole and circulated through a heat exchanger below the surface. Water is heated as it contacts the hot rocks and returned to the surface through another borehole to provide the power to generate electricity. The cycle is repeated as this water is then injected into the first borehole to return to be reheated over and over gain. The technology is less arduous than drilling for oil and at lower depths. It is thought there will be abundant hot rocks of sufficient temperatures to produce vast quantities of energies in many parts of the world.

If you combine other energy alternatives such as solar, wind and wave power combined with a concentrated effort to adapt to a less energy dependant civilisation the future looks somewhat brighter.

Friday, July 27


Well ~ The big moment has arrived~ !!

I was quite overwhelmed by the thoughtful comments on the card from my colleagues and also enjoyed a great dinner, to reminisce with laughter and good fellowship. I received some nice wine (already consumed) and a very generous gift voucher at my formal presentation which I have used to buy new luggage for our trip overseas. See below

The first few days have been busy planning our trip from early September to tour the south west of England and then by ferry to Ireland, stopping off for a tour in Beijing on the return leg which was an afterthought. Our route will include a few days stopover in HK on the way over and just short breaks for connect flights from Helsinki on both legs to break up the journey flying Qantas/Finnair.

We had dinner with friends recently who had travelled to Ireland and hence gained a few points of interest.Unfortunately on the return our planned stopover at Beijing has the tour dates coinciding with China's National holidays(1st~8th October)and it's peak time for all domestic travellers so it will be crowded as 1.3 billion people all go on national holidays !

In my retirement I intend to be involved to a greater extent than previously with grandchildren, reading, extra golf, travel, visiting museums,short day trips and other projects yet to be formalised.

My wife and I had the pleasure of meeting up with two bloggers recently, Val and Gina, when we enjoyed looking around Monsalvat. Val has posted some deft photos and a great summary click here to view.

Wednesday, July 18

Ntandire buldings works take shape





Ntandire Church & Hall takes shape

Good progress continues to be made and we hope to soon fund the roof sheeting to largely complete the external building works. The Community is also grateful to our ladies school at Eltham who have supported the project.Sometime ago I wrote a story for them.

A Children's Story about Malawi

I am indebted to Trish Taylor, from the Malawi Support Group, whose editing helped to make it a suitable story for the schoolchildren of Eltham.

Rainbow Worm was once deep in the earth; a special Worm, longing for freedom, different to all of the other worms digging in the soil. Rainbow Worm was storing up great energy and courage to emerge from his darkness, into the light outside. When he emerged, the sun was bright, and burned colours into his delicate skin, but he was strong and courageous and endured his discomfort for it was not to last for long. Soon came the soothing rain. It increased his strength; giving forth such great energy it caused an almighty wind to sweep Rainbow Worm up into the sky.
We recognise this today as the rainbow!.

Rainbow Worm wanted to help. He viewed the Earth from his wondrous sky place and saw a very poor but hardworking community in the African country of Malawi. He decided that this is where he could help. He realised it was one of the poorest countries on the planet, but he also saw that the people had generous and warm hearts. This is why Malawi is known as the “Warm Heart of Africa”. "How can I help?”thought Rainbow Worm. From his wondrous place in the sky he noticed a group of school children in Eltham on the vast continent of Australia. He decided to take them on a journey to Malawi. All he needed to do was to tap on the classroom window and they found themselves crossing the wide oceans from Australia to Africa on the back of Rainbow Worm.

On landing they spotted a group of people cooking up a great feast. They learned that it was a feast where all are welcomed; a feast to remember and celebrate the lives of St Kizito, a thirteen-year-old- boy, and his friends, who died because they dared to believe in the Christian God. They were welcomed into the celebration. There in the midst of the people was an old woman, her face wrinkled, but compassionate, her body bent, her character straight and true, her person small but mighty in spirit. She stood surrounded in a golden aura.

"I am your dear "Sister of Compassion ". I have been here for 25 years now so it is my home. I came here to work with these people, especially those who are suffering so much with the AIDS virus. Before I came I worked in the capital city, Lilongwe, in the hospitals as a medical missionary. But I was asked to come here to help for the suffering is great. Many things need to be done. We need help for special classes to teach families to be healthy and to improve their diets. We need help to develop language skills and to encourage sporting activities. I am trying to organise concerts around the world to raise money to help these people.”Rainbow Worm and the children listened to their dear Sister of Compassion.

It was time to leave. Sadly there was no time to stay and enjoy the feast. “Never mind," said Rainbow Worm, “We have much to keep in our minds and hearts, much to pray about". It was late so their thoughts returned to home where morning was breaking. They told the amazing story to their parents. Many people in Eltham came to hear about the story. Some formed a group that came to be called the "Malawi Support Group." This group worked hard to raise funds for Malawi and the good people of Our Lady Help of Christians in Eltham continue to do this to this very day. An act of love for the people of Malawi from the people of Eltham on that great Australian continent.
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Sunday, July 8


I have taken delivery of a new car. My intention was to find one which is environmentally friendly and frugal within a reasonable price range. I am delighted with the 307 HDI Peugeot Touring powered by a 2.0-litre diesel engine, mated to a 6-speed auto.

It’s easy to drive yet bristling with technology, such as rain sensitive wipers, light sensitive lights and an electronic stability control system to take over should you swerve violently to miss say a Kangaroo and temporarily loose control. The diesel engine is neither loud nor smoky by virtue of a carbon filter and starts instantly on cold mornings. The carbon filter traps the carbon particles generated from the burning of the diesel fuel. Engine response are excellent with strong pulling power generated at low engine revs which boosts economy. On a trip your likely to only use 4.9 litres to 5.5 litres of diesel per 100 km. At highway cruising speeds of 110Km per hour (68 mph) the engine is barely ticking over at below 2,000 engine revs.

For those interested in more technical details the 2.0-litre diesel engine is a 4-cylinder inline with 4-valves per cylinder fitted with an air-to-air intercooler and turbo to improve torque output. It develops 320Nm of torque @ 2,000 rpm and when accelerating an automatic 'over boost' function is activated between 1750 and 3200rpm, increasing torque to 340Nm. The engine emits up to 30% less CO 2 than its petrol equivalent.

In Australia 97% of vehicles use petrol but I predict within 20 years there will be a huge swing towards the more efficient economical diesel engine types which are now more prominent in Europe.
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Sunday, July 1


The Roving Ellipsis has recognized my blog as a “Thinking Blog”,thankyou for this recognition, although I am not generally in favour of blogger awards.

However I think it provides an opportinity to introduce other bloggers, who may not comment regualarly or even be linked and their respective interests. Those tagged can elect to post about 5 other thinking blogs. Link to this post for the meme origin and award display.

I think all of the blogs I have linked to my own blog make me think and are meritorious so if anyone else linked who is interested please let me know and I will make up another 5.

Ideas and universe. Abhay is always thinking about life and the wondrous world around us.
Mindance likes to think about new ideas and usually is exploring several books simultaneously.
Syllogism has green fingers and an active mind with a good sense of humour.
Sunburst is interested in many different aspects of the arts and life but sometimes despairs as to the art of politics.
Val is a retired librarian with a keen interest in train travel, bookbinding and the environment and a host of other things.

We exercise our bodies as way of keeping fit and likewise our minds benefit from stimulation arising from many different forms of conceptualisation. Ultimately I think knowledge and reality are the same thing but what do you think?

Wednesday, June 27

River Valley to Silicon Valley

This is the title to the recently published book written by Abhay K which I have had the pleasure of reading. His story is about growing up in India encompassing his life with grandparents, his family, attending Schools, College, University and the preparation to secure his current position as a Diplomat with the Indian Civil Service. It is not a story of heroic deeds or grandiose enlightenment but one which immediately captured my interest. He shares his thoughts about life’s trials and tribulations, the influences of family and mentors and his reverence for life. Ultimately it’s his story of perseverance which triumphs over adversity.

He begins each chapter with an appropriate quotation or verse as if these words shape his life and thought, and indeed they do. The use of footnotes to explain his culture and unfamiliar terms adds to the rich tapestry of his story, lightly sprinkled with the occasional poem. His style is that of the commensurate story teller, non- judgmental and devoid of tiresome regrets or prejudices.

His story may well be an analogy for an emerging India today. Following its bloody partition with its accompanying terrible loss of life, India has embraced its newly found independence to develop rapidly into a significant world democracy capable of achieving sustainable annual growth rates of 8%. It has developed its own unique home spun dynamic intellectual capital arising primarily from its investment in education whilst retaining its history and traditions. It does not rely on foreign investment for its future growth anywhere near the extent that China does and hence I believe it to be more resilient. I think it has the ability to enhance the well-being of its population, to reduce prejudices and to assist those impoverished areas of population dependant on subsistence agriculture.

Abhay dedicates his book: FOR MY GREAT FATHER who inspires me the way he lived till the end. And for the new generation of youth in India who are ready to make a difference.

I think the new generation will make a difference and is already making its mark. So much so that some of my friends and I have come to the conclusion to invest directly in India through our self managed Superannuation Funds.

I would highly recommend River Valley to Silicon Valey as simply a great read or for those who wish to gain further insight into his beloved country.

Sunday, June 24


On Friday last our eldest daughter Vanessa (pictured next above ) gave birth to a second daughter-Chloe pictured with daughters Rachael and Nicla. The picure above is of all 4 grandchildren with their respective fathers.
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