Tuesday, 1 December 2015

The Bible In Your Hand

Sometimes Kindle offers some surprisingly inexpensive e-books that have a hearty amount of information and inspiration in them. At 79 pages plus references,  'The Bible in Your Hand'  is one such title. Mfon Effiong Tochukwu has gathered together a great collection of prose and poetry, throughout the ages from well known and relatively lesser known authors.

The inspirational, emotive, and cerebral value of the Bible is celebrated in this e-book in the formats of poetry, songs and prose. The great themes of it's inspiration, its unity and its incarnate nature are explored throughout, along with a collection of quotes from famous readers of the Bible, such as Andrew Jackson, Queen Victoria, Napoleon Bonaparte and John Milton to name but a few. At the end of the collation there is an oft seen, but ever-handy collection of scriptures for many life situations.

The Bible in Your Hand is an interesting book, in that there is a lack of solely Christian Poetry books and e-books, and even less devoted solely to the subject matter of the Bible itself, and its price of a mere $1 U.S. makes this e-book even more attractive. Wonderful for those believers who have forgotten the unique value of the bible, for new believers just discovering it themselves and for veteran Bible appreciators, speakers and pastors alike, The Bible In Your Hands is excellent reading.

Another good reason to consider this e-book is that it is associated with a new charity called 'Voices out of Africa' through Dreamstone Publishers, committed to providing funds to African writers to encourage them to publish their manuscript, so every time you buy The Bible In Your Hands, you put some power back in theirs!

Happy Reading.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Writing Tips and Tricks

How do you write a book?

For many of us budding writers the answer sometimes involves sitting in front of an empty screen or an empty notepad with a lot of ideas, and somewhere in the process the inspiration comes to a screeching halt.

Kim Lambert has crafted a great, plainly written book for such a problem. At 74 pages, this book has 40 wide ranging suggestions for the most  practical aspects of getting along and completing your masterpiece. Things like:

* Becoming certain about your audience,
* Being authentic when writing emotional material,
* "Rewinding", reassessing and refocusing,
* Creating a sense of reality for readers,
* Creating natural dialogue,
* Pacing yourself,
* Overcoming writers block. 

If you are new to writing a book, there are so many things to consider. Kim Lambert, with her short chapters create great ''thinking points'  such as the above. She even has some pragmatic suggestions on matters such as e-book production and creating a series set of novels out of the inspiration you already have.

Kim Lambert knows this because she is the head of Dreamstone Publishing, having also written over 5 books in the areas of business and cooking. With over 20 years in print and e-book production, Dreamstone Publishing's stated aim is to help any author with publishing their book, from front cover, to editing, Print on Demand advice and much more.

After reading this book, my only criticism would be that more examples may have been useful, and perhaps slightly longer for those common writer problems like overcoming writer's block. This book as I've mentioned is great for first time writers, but also contains some handy checklist style reminders for those who are already book or e-book authors.

Happy writing!!!!!

Friday, 13 November 2015

'Frozen' Cafe, Kid's Paradise.

Beneath the luminescence of the ornate street lights, usually busy with the social chatter of alfresco diners, nestled in the corner of a busy street lies a rare gem of a restaurant.

The Frozen Cafe, adjacent to the historical pirate ship in riverside is well known for its young wait staff,  unpretentious cafe style food, and relative inexpensiveness (For my frittata I paid only two invisible dollars). Its inviting blue and cream pastel style is offset by its ornate lighting and minimalistic furnishings.

The frittata was a taste sensation, showing exceptional imagination (as with much of the food served at the Frozen Cafe- and the cheese served with the frittata was a true “homage to fromage”.
Frozen Cafe’s critics have peddled the predictable line that the food tastes like plastic, and inasmuch as there will always be critics, these diners have not fully immersed themselves in the sheer creativity it involves to dine there.

If I were to mention a few critiques it would be that the little blue cups were a bit too small, and occasionally the wait staff lacked basic maths skills. Interestingly, children seem unusually welcome in this restaurant, as if it were some kind of Haven, or Paradise for them.

I’ve told all of my friends about the Frozen cafe. It may be some time until I Let It Go.

Ben Mathewson.

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Why YOU and EVERYONE should watch LOST.

It's been a long time coming, but I've finally found something worth talking about in my blog.

You need to watch LOST on Netflix.

No, really. I'm serious, and forgive some of the spoilers. Here's why-

The first episode starts with a handsome yet bedraggled looking surgeon laying face up in a field of bamboo, surrounded by green undergrowth. As the story develops, we watch as he emerges from the jungle to the sound of chaos. We feel the horror as we see the broken fuselage of the plane erupting into flames, we see the crying and the panic as the doctor somehow orients himself to his situation, running towards the panicking victims. We resonate with the drama and from the very beginning.
As time goes on, much more of the story is revealed and the viewer is left asking more questions, like What is this place? Where are they? Why is no-one rescuing them? but of course the writers, like the talented storytellers they are, reveal the answers only to make the viewer ask more questions.
Such begins the drama of epic scope- a moving landscape of human emotions- a captivating and mysterious journey into the themes of love, loss, betrayal, kindness and ultimately redemption; where even larger questions about fate, destiny, and the supernatural are asked amidst a backdrop of an island more mysterious than the characters itself, and arguably more of a protagonist than the actors stranded on it.

As someone who watches a lot of media, I am attracted to something well written, but something that appeals to the emotions. I loved the movie Paycheck (Even with Ben Affleck in it), and Cellular and the series Alias because of the wildly disorienting plots that become clear as you watched closely. All of this mystique pulled you in and brought you closer to the characters as they dealt with conflicts and obstacles along the way. All of these are excellent, yet pale in comparison to the fast moving kaleidoscopic panorama that is LOST- or perhaps is it more like a great painting that speaks something different when viewed from a different perspective? One thing is for sure, it is rare that something resembling actual art gets on the telly.

Such an intriguing plot and storyline are one thing, but much of the motivation for sticking with all 6 seasons of LOST lie in sticking with the characters. The quick thinking leader Jack, the affable and self-effacing Hurley, the beautiful but troubled Kate, the dangerous Sayid, the mysteriously spiritual John Locke and one of my favourite characters, Charlie- the charismatic screw up.  These characters and more make for great pathfinders to the sometimes bewildering journey ahead.

In a world of mediocrity it seems strange to proclaim something on TV as art, but this is not hyperbole. Have you ever read something immersive like Great Expectations? Well, it's a lot like that. It is seriously moving, evocative and heart rending television, yet intelligent enough for those who love a moderately paced mystery.

So if you are looking to get high quality entertainment, that makes you think and feel, Get LOST.

You mightn't want to ever get found again.

LOST is available to view on Netflix, or available at various online sources such as Ebay, Amazon.com and at various other physical stores.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

The love that dare not speak its name.

I have decided to write a short piece of prose about fathers. I hope you enjoy. 

Surely the most controversial thing is not scandal anymore, but Love.

Tabloids, Newsmedia and the Internet are filled with the latest news of prominent men's indiscretions. Figures like Gary Glitter, Rolf Harris and Roman Polanski fill pages of our newspapers and time on television. Hardly a word can be spoken of the Catholic church without the spectre and the stain in the back of our minds about what secretive men have done under the superficial cloak of religion. It is a poison which permeates the world- a vicious, seductive spirit which feeds on its own insecurity and anger, engulfing all who hear of it.

Paedophilia has bred a deeply seated mistrust in men. In once 'safe' communities, suspicions are raised about the father who 'likes children' and talks to them at birthday parties; or the 'well- meaning' seeming christian who lives down the street, who runs the Sunday school, or even the old fat man, always looking out the window, with a look of loneliness so easily mistaken for leering, or the teacher who goes the extra mile for one of his students- knowing his struggles, yet knowing what is in the back of the mind of his colleagues. The wound is heavy, and it presses deep into us, boring into our bones. It is a constant white noise amongst people of power and is a screamingly silent ache no-one talks about in the lower spheres of society- a problem which no-one seems to have an answer to, with little justice or redemption for perpetrator or victim. This treachery is everywhere, but nowhere- a scandal ever lurking and secretive in nature.

Yet another much provocative scandal lies in wait for it's full revelation to burst into view-

Love. Real Love.
More specifically that love between a man and his child, oft hidden because of the shame that all men seem entangled by.

It is the yearning of every boys and girls heart, and the secret longing of men of all ages. It is the work weary hand on the shoulder of every young son; the glimmer in the eye of a father that can see beyond the horizon, ever-reaching out into the distance for safety and joy, the man who longs for better things than his own hands could provide, the man who chuckles hearteningly at his children's first steps, or comes alongside his child as he draws; It is the man who has time, or the one who prays with little hands enfolded in his own. It is the comforting assurance to every child that they have done good, and that they are good- right down to the last particle. It is the man who remembers the glimmering streams of his own youth without the stains of hurts and grievances, and would give whatever he had to wash the children in the same cleansing water. It is real love. Sacrificial love. Healing love. It is a love so rare, so enshrouded in this shame it dares not speak its name.

Scandalous love.

You see, good fathers don't make the news, because they are plain. They have no seeming market value because it is their hearts that make a difference. In an age where the heart is all but forgotten, those ageless, golden threads that entangle good and gracious fathers to their children remain. Regardless of their battered state, they stand as a thread through the ages, stretching out to all generations. They contain within their fibres, the links and secrets long forgotten- the patience and mysticism of the saints, the loving perseverence of the forebears, and the wisdom of the ancients. It is a love that is uncontainable it its joy, unfaltering in unselfishness, stalwart and unwavering in its courage and as constant as our very best version of who God is.

I believe one day the outrage will pass. I believe the scandals will one day turn to dust, not because they have ceased to be, but rather because we will be enamoured once again with the reality of having healed, whole hearts. Hearts fully animated, reflective and shining with the glorious reality of being loved, and loving in return. This is the substance of heaven itself, from a father who longs to bestow it upon his children. This is the assurance to every child that they have done good, and that they are good​. This is the substance that cameras, print and media have yet to sufficiently capture, and the day every generation since the beginning of time has grasped in frustration for.

Oh, that we might see it.

Have a great day, 
Ben Mathewson.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Branding yourself for Success - Book Review

Branding Yourself for Success
How to attract clients that say YES!
Ramona Lever

Book Review

Branding Yourself for Success is a 2014 book written and self published by Ramona Lever and illustrated by Shakira Lever. This book is available from the link below for a price of $18.95, plus $5 postage and handling.

Electronic copies of this book are available for $3.76 on Amazon.com at the following website:

As a brief bio, this is what Ms Lever states about herself in her website: 

"Ramona Lever is an Author, an Internationally Accredited Behavioural Profiler and an expert in Personal Branding. Her extensive experience in Sales and Marketing coupled with her background in Coaching and Counselling have given her the passion and understanding to empower others to achieve outstanding results.  Ramona is also an established photographer with a successful studio specialising in Branding Headshots". 

The back matter of her book states that by the end of the reading you will discover the secrets to:

* Attract amazing new clients
* Strengthen your professional credibility
* Learn to Network successfully
* Increase your online visibility
* Live authentically, and 
* Build long term success

I was intrigued by Ramona's work because of the state of my own emerging business as a writer. I have owned this current blog for just over a year now and have developed a modicum of experience in the fields of personal networking, blogging, marketing and developing an online profile, but I have been searching for a good product that answers the often asked questions about these fields and ties them together in a cogent whole- there are many websites which provide expertise in various fields, but fail to tie things together for the reader. Ramona's work, thankfully, does just that!

Ramona, as noted above, is a professional Headshot Photographer, with a history as a Behavioural Profiler, and a Personal branding Expert. Her current work as a Headshot Photographer artfully expresses the skills gained in her previous work to successfully showcase the heart and soul of her client's businesses and assists them to find the unique selling point within their own characters; and therein lies the heart of her book- finding the unique personal brand that markets you as a person- asking and providing the answers to the question: Why should I hire you as an individual over the myriad of others in your sphere of work?

At 133 pages, it could be argued that there is not much content, but really, this depends on what the reader wants. As Ramona herself mentions, If you want a "how-to" book, with clearly defined step-by-step increments to success- or if you want jargon-rich figures, facts statistics and formulas, this book is not for you. This book reads more like partly personal experience, part tried-and-true business management protocols, and partly excellent conference-quality notes on personal branding. I have read a few books on business before and usually notice business imagery on the front cover, so I was intrigued by her photo, yet having read the ideas in her book I could see how a well captured picture clearly does paint a thousand words, especially in her line of work!

Ramona indeed does give the keys to discovering the secrets she outlines in the back material of the book and gives insight into a lot of other good philosophical points, like:

* Seeing your profession as an extension of your personality and perceiving 'success' with maturity.
* Defining 'what you do'.
* Attracting the 'right' type of clients.
* Connecting personal values and spirituality to your business. 
* Knowing when and what to delegate.
* The value of visualisation, goal setting and aspiration. 

Ramona "walks what she talks", especially in regards to maintaining a consistent online presence. You can find her online materials here:

In case you didn't catch it, I would definately recommend this warmly written book- especially to emerging business owners, or those bewildered by where to start in the process of marketing themselves; summing it up with a quote Ramona herself uses by Ralph Waldo Emerson: 

"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you into something else is the greatest accomplishment"

Ben Mathewson. 

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Berghaus Vapor Claw GTX Sneakers Review

Berghaus Vapor Claw GTX Sneakers (Yellow)
$199 (Retail)
- A Review

I have recently bought myself a new pair of Sneakers from a local store called Mountain Designs. A quick run down of the Specifications are as follows, from this website:

Designed for single track trail grip and security underfoot in a light, breathable package ideal for fast challenging multi-sport activities. Part of our Vapour Light range, this shoe has been tested for the harsh and demanding environments of the Dragon's Back race.

Weight (approx.): 612g
Best Buy - Outdoor Enthusiast, March 2013
9/10 - Best in Test -Tradition incorporates technology to great effect Trail running Magazine, October 2013
Gold - Men's Running Shoes - Trail Category - Men's Running 2013 Product Awards.

Before launching into a product review I should mention a few things. I don't normally review shoes, for the simple reason that my website is largely for books and creative pursuits; that being said, I am also a very comfort and quality conscious person. I am conscious of brand, not because of some need to be fashionable, but because comfort and quality are sometimes synonymous with good brands. In addition to this, I have had 34 years of experience at wearing shoes. 

I'm damned good at wearing shoes.

The shoes I used to wear, from Columbia (the brand, not the country), are no longer available for purchase. They are similar to the Grants Pass Shoes as shown below, Shoes that I was so impressed with because they were stylish, very comfortable, with great value for money and they lasted well over 3 years with frequent use. With such high expectations I decided to review the Berghaus Vapor Claws.
So sad to say goodbye :(
From the outset I should mention that although these are promoted on the website as running shoes, I don't run. There are a few circumstances where I might run as follows:

1. I am being chased by someone with a dangerous weapon
2. The shop, which holds my only hope of a chocolate bar is about to close

So its fair to say  these running shoes have not seen any running action yet! They have however, been on rough terrain and mild elevations at our local walking track, and their small shard-shaped grips have made walking in these conditions comfortable and enjoyable. Indeed, one of the functions of the shoe is the limpet- fit system which is designed to enclose over the feet, allowing for maximum comfort by the wearer, in addition to having a goretex upper, which makes the shoe breathable and lightweight. The goretex upper is also designed for protection from light rain and the elements.

Of particular note is how masculine the shoe is. Referencing the above it has been tested by people who run up mountains for a living- because nothing says MAN like "I CAN RUN UP A MOUNTAIN, WHAT CAN YOU DO...PUSSY?!" This testosterone charged shoe also boasts the name Vapor Claw- Say that with the right effect and it sounds like an ultra-manly Supervillain:


Walking in them with and also sometimes without socks- and keeping them on all day, I can say because of their light weight, the "burden" felt by taking them off was much less than other cushioned shoes; In this way, the Berghaus shoe was even more comfortable than my good old Columbias and the design of having laces, secured in place by webbing is a small but incredibly helpful piece of design, combating the often annoying "re-lacing" that goes on as the shoe is used more and more. The price of the shoe itself is moderately expensive ($199 for full retail, $99 for me because of a sale), but it is well worth it for the features and if it holds up to prolonged use.

As a final note- being a natural extrovert, nothing screams confidence and enthusiam like shoes with yellow trimmings, enabling you to feel that special joy when your friends inevitably say how much they like them, you can casually say "Yeah mate...They're for going up mountains".

Its obvious that this review is premature, as I have not yet tested them adequately in wet terrain or running, but I will eventually do a sprinting test on it one day at around about 4:55. (five minutes before the shops close...)

Ben Mathewson.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Picture Them Naked!

Picture Them Naked: 
Everything you wanted to know about public speaking but were afraid to ask.
Jennifer Burrows.

Today I have chosen to review Jennifer Burrows Book 'Picture Them Naked' by Jennifer Burrows, published by Macquarrie House 2014- a book of 248 pages, for a retail price of $39, available in physical soft cover book from this website: 

Electronic copies of this book are available  for $10.63 on Amazon.com at the following website:

The author, as stated previously, is Jennifer Burrows- A professional public speaker on the business and motivational circuit. Jennifer is also an executive coach / mentor for Value for Life-  She has co-authored the book You Can Live the Life of Your Dreams and has also authored the book Present This! She describes the following about herself in the Value for Life website:

"Jen’s genuine interest in the development of human potential through coaching and mentoring coupled with her professional experience means she has an intimate understanding of both the interpersonal demands placed on today’s senior leaders and the know-how to cultivate an individual’s promise in presentation and communication skills."

Value for Life can be found here:

Before launching into a review, perhaps I should qualify that I am a public speaker myself. By no means am I a professional public speaker, but someone who has some experience before medium to large audiences. I have had the opportunity to speak or perform at school assemblies, public gatherings, small groups, extended family groups and small auditoriums, so my interest in this book comes from someone who has already done some wading into the deep ocean of public speaking.

Picture them Naked interviews 17 (18 including Jennifer herself) professional public speakers who come from a wide range of backgrounds- from professional volunteering and animal conservation to the fields of information technology and fitness. In these interviews, Jennifer asks these professionals similar questions with an intent to giving them capacity to express their areas of expertise, but also to ask great, practical questions like the following: 

* Do you suffer from nerves and if so, how do you manage them?
* What / who was your first inspiration?
* What do you believe are the top 5 attributes of a successful speaker?
* What are the best methods or strategies for keeping motivated and focused?
* Did you ever feel like giving up?

The format Jennifer chooses by interviewing these professionals gives the reader a comprehensive fabric through which to see the art of public speaking. Including the nuances of interviewees of varied fields and speakers of both sexes also adds to this fascinating fabric. Simply put, regardless of your ability and experience in public speaking, there are nuggets of valuable, well tested information in this book for everyone. Each of the speakers represent a 'chapter' in the book and under the profile picture of each of the public speakers is a phrase which represents the central theme of their message in the interview, such as my personal favourites, Pat Rae's Take massive action now and Kate Burr's Humour is great for business. I found these chapter-themes to be helpful memory cues, especially given that some speakers messages will resonate with the reader more than others.  

I found Jennifer's writing style to be honest, and her choice of interviewees very good, with most speakers having a good balance between personal anecdotes, professional tips and guides to a great presentation. As an observation rather than a critique, I would have personally enjoyed more stories of overcoming failures to round out what is largely a fairly comprehensive guidebook to success as a public speaker. Some truths which occur more frequently than others, which alert the readers to what is really important, are as follows:

* Practice Practice Practice.
* Know your Audience.
* Know your information back to front.
* Be prepared for any eventuality.
* Make a start! Get involved in the world of public speaking.

Splashes of humour, philosophy and personal interaction transforms what could potentially be a boring how-to book into an intriguing, practical handbook with great ideas throughout. 

The last section of the book contains many resources which can also be of practical use, with themes like creating a short pitch, phobia cures, and preparing a speakers kit. The last section also includes references to get in contact with the speakers; but undoubtably the most potentially helpful part of the book is the free gift section, in which many of Jennifer's colleagues offer a free gift, many of them more than the value of the book itself! Whilst the book itself is an excellent, valuable reference, the gifts may be a clincher for those who are penny-conscious but want to learn more.

I find it difficult to fault this book, and it has inspired me to consider wandering deeper into the ocean of public speaking. Come on in! The water's fine... 

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Universal Conflict: The Struggle

Book Review

Universal Conflict: The Struggle.
David Claridge.

Perhaps because I am a little 'left of centre', I picked up a book I hadn't heard of, from an author unknown to me. The Author's name was David Claridge, and the book is called "Universal Conflict: The Struggle", a Science Fiction novel set is deep space. As an aside, I would highly recommend this way of reviewing something, since reviewing higher profile authors can create an expectation in the reviewer, and actively choosing something you think you will will enjoy also can influence your review. All of that being said up front, I think I am qualified as being open-minded enough and impartial enough to provide a good review.

The story revolves around the protagonist, Kimberly Saunders- a battle hardened veteran in the Memay Special Forces, and her role in the Universal Conflict. The beginning of the book reveals the Moggotrons: a Pig-like alien race with a history of warfare with humans. A routine Memay intelligence gathering reveals a new planned Moggotron-lead alliance with the Frizens- A demon-like alien race more vicious and cunning than anything the Memay special forces have encountered before This mission is one which indirectly leads to the assassination of earthling world leaders and the eventual invasion of the Memay planet.

In Universal conflict, the panorama of many conflicts lies out before you- from the daring, small team skirmishes, hell-bent on creating strategic craters in the enemy defense, to the scenes of grand invasion which threaten to destroy the whole species. You will read also of the beginning of great alliances, the cleverness of enemy subterfuge, and the tragedy of seasoned combat colleagues as they are crushed in the brutality of war. Science Fiction is not a preferred genre for me, but I would highly recommend this book as a good option to start reading in this genre.

After reading this book, I can honestly assert that I am a fan of Mr Claridge's work. Although difficult at first to get into, and perhaps occasionally awkward editing and turns of phrase, His sweeping, imaginative scope makes it easy to become immersed in the characters, and drawn into the deadly conflicts in this book. Largely action driven, but with reasonable character development, this book reads more like a Sci-Fi Tarantino film, with enough blood and action to satisfy action fans, yet also enough intrigue in the storyline to satisfy more cerebral readers. The dialogue and the characters in this book also add to the general gritty, bloody and matter-of-fact nature of the ongoing Universal Conflict.  Universal Conflict: The struggle is the first in a planned set of 9 Universal Conflict Books, published by Raider Publishing and is 364 pages long.

more information on Universal Conflict Here:            ...and its sequel Universal Conflict 2 Here: 

Friday, 6 February 2015

In Praise of Grandparents

The last couple of days it has been on my mind to go visit my grandparents, who are, in their own way, an inspiration to me, so I have decided to share with you a piece with my thoughts on them. I hope you enjoy. 

In Praise of Grandparents

Perhaps you have noticed it, perhaps its impossible not to. Libraries full of books about love stories- Protagonists saving damsels; winning battles and reveling in their strength and shrewdness; or the nubile, impossibly beautiful women that have fallen in love with heroic men- the women with lustrous hair and wide, amazing eyes. Innumerable stories on every bookcase of men of valor, and women of quiet strength- Yet so few books write about the 'happily ever after' part. In our determination to hear tales of these young women and men, we have overlooked the stories of the love of old men and women, and why so few songs are sung of the stalwart determination of the aged, the commitment and trials it takes to build a happily ever after. The vicissitude​s of life- bills, hard work, family dramas and the ever watchful tax man all erode the magic of young love, yet unexpected heroes are forged by the constant adversarial nature of life, so that a real, true love can emerge. My Nan and Pop shared this love together and they gave me many memories of my childhood. No, not many stories are told about the love of grandparents, so here is mine to paint for you:

A light zephyr breeze touched our faces as we sat underneath the shadecloth, on the grass outside my grandmothers house. Surrounded by the familiar fuchsia bushes, magnolia and feijoa trees which bordered the cement slab where so many christmases of late where we had set up the tables and chairs.

Much of Nan's garden formed a patchwork of memories during my childhood. The vegetable garden, at the east side of her house, not always flourishing, but always providing a pea, or some berries or something interesting for little hands to grab, the ramshackle old cottage at the back of Nan's property where the gate ends, which became a source of imagination for me; with it's broken floorboards and secret corners containing various treasures made of wood and rusty steel- a place which now my own children enjoy; and the walk down the hill to see the unusual farm machinery we used to imagine the uses of, perhaps in retrospect because the reality was not near as interesting as what we could make up in our heads.

Past the gates enclosing the cows stands a shed, which now contains wood, but once kept the billy cart we used with our cousins. . The memories of racing down the steep hill outside, kicking up the dust and pebbles were all part of this rich tapestry. I also remember the satisfying 'pop' of the fuchsias when we would grab at them, and looking at the velvety purple interior- It was a place where little fingers and imaginations were free to explore and imagine, and best of all, a place where our little mouths were fed.

My grandmother used to make amazing milkshakes from a retro looking shiny milkshake maker. I remember the taste of chocolate and raspberry, or getting into nan's cupboards surreptitiously and eating the saccharine she kept in the plastic orange containers- or making a beeline to the little ornamental container sitting on the mantlepiece- a small shiny jar in the shape of an apple which opened to reveal any number of different lollies.
A few adult steps from the brown 70's carpet onto the Lino of the kitchen, we would sit at the table, which we always have- a table just like the owners - stalwart, reliable and predictable. The small kitchen too, contained the big cottage style combustion oven that formed the heart of the house growing up, and which now as an adult, I envy. Many meat-and three-vegetables dishes were served up on that table growing up, served with raw milk in sparkly cone shaped tumblers. It was a place where cousins, aunties and uncles would gather and even if they were too busy, there was always Christmas Day or Boxing Day.

Nan was a diminutive, wiry lady who was always polite, and always knew more than she let on. Grace was said before every meal and she was one of the leaders of the temperance union. She was gentle with family and between her and Pop, seemed to know everyone in the small farming town she was part of. She never pushed the Bible on anyone, but remained faithful. It is hard to say how much she knew God, but regardless, she had a silent strength that seemed to come from beyond herself. She served, too. Not like a kept woman, or an obligated slave, but as a woman who served as a choice, and out of love. Afternoon tea was always served at three, or thereabouts, when "the menfolk" as she would call them- my cousin and Pop; had come back from working in the fields around their house. She knew what biscuits and slices Pop loved, and us as grandchildren eagerly devoured them, only learning the politeness of hesitation as we became older and wiser. She also loved Pop, and Pop loved her- knowing and appreciating her humility and little quirks more as they got older together.

Pop was hardworking and always wore the same blue business shirts around the farm. So much of my childhood was spent hearing of in-jokes between my dad and his brother, and Pop. Sometimes they were hilarious, but usually they were lame puns and dad jokes, which I have only come to truly appreciate the magic of, having my own children to annoy with them. Pop was sun bronzed and  strong, and knew about everything practical- Diesel engines, the life cycle of cows, pump filtration rates, nature itself and how it all worked. He talked slowly, and kindly, and laughed at the same jokes. He called the radio "The wireless", he hardly watched TV and played Scrabble with Nan often.

Un-bigoted. Uncomplicated. Some might say quaint, yet strong and seemingly ageless. Perhaps Nan and Pop don't look like the fairytale couple anymore, and perhaps they never did, but they are heroes in their own right, and stand as statues of virtue in a world that desperately wants happily ever after, but it is dressed in overalls and looks like damn hard work.