Hans Streefkerk, Edwina, Cindy

BOOK REVIEW: Subversive Activity

Subversive Activity by Dave Luckett

Subversive Activity by Dave Luckett, Vivid Publishing, 2009.
ISBN 9780980700909.

Reviewed by Edwina Harvey.

This book views an obscure part of the world from two
centuries ago through the eyes of Captain Horatio de la Terre, of the British
Royal Navy. The good Captain is a Naval Attaché on a diplomatic posting to
Maldona which might be all well and good if all the locals didn’t insist on
talking Foreign, and if there wasn’t  a
confounded  contraption  floating 
in the harbour, newly constructed for the Maldonian Navy. A steel-hulled
thing that had no right to float, was way too thin to be a battle ship, and
besides where were the gun turrets? And the smoke funnels for that matter?
Strangest boat he’s ever laid eyes on. No, no danger there.

So much for de la Terre’s  spying on the locals to report back to the
British. All too easy! But why does he always seem to cross paths with Reddon,
another inhabitant of the Embassy? Though Reddon comes in handy, turning up in
a fetching diving outfit to save de la Terre when he’s kidnapped and taken
aboard the skinny, useless battleship that, as it turns out, has been designed
and built, not to mention manned – err, womaned, err personed by the remarkable
Makiniri sisters, daughters of the Maldonan President.

Like many of us de la Terre seems to stumble his way through
life, getting into all sorts of unexpected adventures usually as a result of
not having a clue about what’s going on.

 It’s obvious that Luckett
was really enjoying himself writing this merry tale, and that joy in conveyed
to thereader through some very subtle humour that intrudes at the most
unexpected moments and leaves the reader chuckling.  Subversive Activity is part humour, part
romance, part alternate history, but 100% fun. 

Hans Streefkerk, Edwina, Cindy


 I'm going to SUPANOVA at Sydney Olympic Park next weekend 18-19 June, 2011. I'll be sharing a table in Artists Alley with Andromeda Spaceways Inflight magazine, and representing Peggy Bright Books as well as my own Celestial Cobbler silks and ceramics. Here's an example of one of my silk scarves, but this one won't be for sale as it was previously sold. If you're interested in getting a similar scarf,. drop me a line. All of my silk work are original pieces of art, I couldn't exactly replicate a scarf even if i tried. I'll also have some of my ceramic pieces for sale. (Must see if I can find a photo of some of that to upload for people to look at. 

 This palomino horse bust will definately be for sale at Supanova, as will my piece "The Letter" aka "the Blue Mage"  As you're not paying for postage, you're making a saving.

If you're going to Supanova drop by and say "Hi!" - we'll be giving away Andromeda Spaceways luggage tags and Beggy Bright Books, Simon Haynes' Hal Spacejock and Sue Bursztynski's Wolfborn novel bookmarks.
Hans Streefkerk, Edwina, Cindy


Though I've been a Terry Pratchett reader for a while (though in recent years I haven't even come close to keeping up with reading all the great novels he's produced) I've never been to a Discworld convention until the third Nullus Anxietas, held in Penrith over the weekend 8-10 April 2011.  (had heard some good things about the first two Nullus Anxietas cons though, but they were in Melbourne.)

In a nutshell - it's been a *long* time since I've had so much fun at a convention, and it felt really great that everyone was there to do the same thing. There were loads of excellent hall costumes - I cant remember the last time I attended a convention and saw so many people dressed up in some really great costumes.

The overall vibe was very friendly, and while I thought I was attending as a spectator, I soon got into the theme of things, having got killed three times by a member of the assasinsguild. (Don't worry, I soon got the hang of it and was wreaking my revenge)..

I was there primarily to fly the Andromeda Spaceways Inflight magazine flag by personing the ASIM table with Simon Petrie, but we were also both gently coaxed into doing a 2-part writers workshop, as well as giving a talk about Andromeda Spaceways. As our 50th issue had been published only a few weeks before the convention we felt we had a bit to crow about.

The con-kit was lovingly designed - you didn't just get a name tag, you got your discworld passport, and the program book was an exquisite work of art..

Sir Terry was in good form. The convention had organised 4 autograph sessions with him - you received a session number in your con kit, along with a set of rules that were very reasonable - only 1 item per person, for instance, and if Sir Terry got tired before you'd reached the head of the queue, well, that was just the way it went.

He didn't get tired. He made sure every last person on every queue got an autograph and a stamp, and even a photo and quick chat if they wanted it. I'd been at a signing he did at Galaxy Bookshop in Sydney years before, had been right down the end of the line then too, and when I'd commented I'd thought he'd leave before I got a chance to get my book signed back then, he'd explained that he felt it was his duty to his fans to make sure no one who'd queued to meet him was turned away. Clearly he still keeps those high ideals.
I wish every can could be that fresh and inspiring!
A big CONGRATULATIONS to the Nullus Anxietas committee and volunteers on a job well done!
Hans Streefkerk, Edwina, Cindy


Below is a running list of what I consider my creative acheivements as a writer/editor/convention committee member over the years.

I'm a plodder. If I was a racehorse, you'd bet on me for a place rather than a win, but I'm still plodding along, and I think I've notched up a few runs on the board that is my writing/creative life.

Please note that the hiatus circa 2004-2005 was related to my undergoing severe vision loss, and a course of  operations to preserve my sight. It's a joy to be able to still write fiction and articles, and to edit and proofread these days when I thought my creative career was over for good as my sight began to decline.  With any luck, I'll be updating this CV for many years to come.

Fiction: Published Short Stories


"We Wonder" Published in Beyond Antares no. 9, 1979.

"Tyger" Beyond Antares no. 15, 1980.

"Greengags" . Beyond Antares , no. 16 1981.

"Old Stiff Bones," Medical Journal no. 1, 1981.

"It takes a Thief" Chronicles no. 1, 1981.

"She Just Dropped In" Yggdrasil (Magazine of the Melbourne University Science Fiction Assoc) 1982

"The Wanderer" Eye of Newt, no. 1, 1982

"Servalan" Chronicles no. 7, 1982

"McCoy: The Right Kind of Different"  Beyond Antares no. 21, 1982

"Space Cow" Yggdrasil (Magazine of the Melbourne University Science Fiction Assoc) 1983

"Only the End of the World Again" Multiverse no. 10, June 1983.

"Reunited" Eye of Newt no. 2, 1983

"Such a Brave Man" T'salta no. 2, 1984

"Travesty" Medtrek 84 fanzine 1984.

"To Catch a Thief" Chronicles 12/13 1984.

"Once Bitten" Lip Service 1984

"Lone Survivor" Chronicles no.25 1986.

"No Pets Allowed" Out of the Ashes 1986.

"Post Blake With Fangs" Eccentricon Productions 1987

"Where the Last Unicorn Went" Conglomeration no. 2 1988 (?)

"Metaphysical Company" Chronicles no. 35 1988

"On a Hot Tin Roof" Conspire Program Book 1989.

"The Breaker" Backtrack no. 1 1989.

"Dragonriders Lament" Eye of Newt no. 5 1991.

"Dreamfasting" Chronicles no. 47 1991.

"When You're In Love You Want to Tell the World" No Shadow of Another No. 2 1992

"On the Up," Backtrack no. 7 1993.

"Married to the Job"Homosapien Trois 1993

"Nut Cutlet" Cohorts (copyright 1993, published 1995)

"A.W.O.L" Homosapien Four 1996

"Two of Us" Cohorts 3, 1997

"Heart of Stone" Cohorts 3, 1997

"An Audience of One" Homosapien Five, 1997 .

"Chippies" Aurealis Issue 19, June/July, 1997.

"Party" Antipodean SF. Issue 1. Feb 1998.

 (Reviewed by Simon Brown for Eidolon On Line SF)

"Peace by Piece" Horrorscope. Issue 1 February 1998.

"Moving On" Antipodean SF. Issue 3  May,1998. (Reviewed by Simon Brown for Eidolon On Line SF)

"Moving On" (reprint with same editor)Nuggets e-magazine. May,1998.

"Aliens Here" Under Magellenic Clouds issue 4, Winter/Spring 1998.

"Earth Girls Aren't Easy" Antippodean Issue 10 . Dec '98.

"The Dragon Ring" Harbinger Speculative Fiction  Issue 1, Jan, 1999.

"Helga" Leaves of the Forest Muse Anthology, 1997. Published 1999.

"Only Women Bleed" Harbinger Speculative Fiction Issue 2, April 1999

 (Reviewed by Simon Brown for Eidolon On Line SF)

"Off course, of course" Antipodean SF, issue 18, August, 1999.

"Up on the Roof" Harbinger Speculative Fiction Issue 4, September, 1999.

"A Vulcan's most sensitive organ." Beyond Antares Issue 36, 1999.

"Legends Never Die" Chronicles Issue 64, 1999.

"Writers Hands" Antipodean SF Issue 23, January 2000.

“Peace by Piece” Redsine 1 August, 2000. (E-zine)

“She Just Dropped in.” (#2) Vile Temptress #1   April 2001.

Ride a Fine Horse” ConSensual. April 2001

“Pharlap Revisited.” Antipodean SF40 June 2001

“Get me to the Worldcon on Time.” Fables and Reflections Issue 1, Nov 2001.

“Keep My Things They’ve Come to Take Me Home,” Fables and Reflections Issue 2,

 March 2002

My Sweet 286” AustrAlien Absurdities( Anthology), (Edited by Chuck McKenzie and Tansy Rayner Roberts.) May 2002.

“Mug” Andromeda Spaceways Inglight Magazain #2 (August 2002)

“Back Looks” Cohorts 6 November, 2002.

“Divorce” Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine Issue #4 (December, 2002)

“Zinc of Me” Consensual: The Second Coming (April, 2003)

“When Whales Cry” Potato Monkey Issue 3.( September, 2003) 

“Following a Haunch” Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine issue 9. (October 2003)

"Teach your children well" Antipodean SF no. 164, February 2012.


"Helga" in "Leaves of the Forest Muse" - 1998 anthology of the Calembeen Writers Group.

"Party" and "Moving On" in Antipodean SF Anthology #1, 1998-1999.

“Riding the Range With Mary-Jane” in “Riding High” Thrillogies ed by Paul Collins and Meredith Costain. Longman Press. September, 2001.

“Eggs” in “On the Case” Thrillogies ed by Paul Collins and Meredith Costain. Longman Press, September, 2001.

“My Sweet 286” AustrAlien Absurdities Anthology, (Edited by Chuck McKenzie and Tansy Rayner Roberts.) May 2002.

“She Just Dropped In” (Reprint) published in Strange Pleasures 3, Prime Books, UK, 2005.

“When Whales Cry” (reprint) in Under the Rose ed David Hutchensen.

“I Belong to this Red Earth” Belong Anthologyedited by Russell B Farr. Ticonderoga press, 2010

Rocket and Sparky” Worlds next Door edited by Tehani Wesseley. Fablecroft Publications, 2010.

"HG" Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine Issue 54, June 2012.


Young Adult Science Fiction novel.

The Whale’s Tale.Editor, Sarah Murray White. Peggy Bright Books, 2009 (www.peggybrightbooks.com)


 "Terran Mother Vulcan Son," Beyond Antares no. ? 1978

"Emotive" Beyond Antares no. 15, 1979

"And Died In an Alien Sun" Beyond Antares no. 13 1979

"No room Left on the Saucer" Nexus Magazine no. 1 1980.

"Darling, I'm home." Beyond Antares R 1980

"A Klingon Khristmas Karol" Beyond Antares no. 16 1981

"Ode to the Creator of the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster" Medtrek Fanzine 1982

"Leadana" Beyond Antares no. 10 1981

"We are only Children"/ "Hail the Saviour" A Book of Our Own Women & Arts Festival 1982

"Greensleeves" Beyond Antares R no. 7 1988

"1-2-3" Beyond Antares R no. 7 1988

"Dolphin Learning" Caress of the Moon: International Library of Poetry. (ISBN 1-57553-443-6) 1997

“We Were A Family Then.” Micropress Oz Vol 10, Issue 5, (ISSN 1320-4157) June 2002.



 "Con Countdown." Article regarding Aussiecon 3. Published in Aurealis 20/21 April,1998.

"Aussiecon 3" Article regarding Aussiecon 3. Published in Harbinger Issue 2, April, 1999.

"Australians In the Light: Rob Riel" about SF writer/poet. Published in Harbinger Issue 3, July, 1999.

Review of "For as Long as You Burn" poetry anthology by Rob Riel. Published in Antipodean SF Issue 19, Sept. 1999.

Simon Brown & Sean Williams: SF Bookends?” Aurealis27/28 November, 2001

“Vale Douglas Adams” Orb Speculative Fiction Magazine issue3/4 June,2002. ($30).

Connecting With Bob Eggleton.” Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine  Issue 4, December 2002

Connecting With Bob Eggleton.” Updated version of article reprinted in September 2003.

“Awakenings at Anzac House” VileTemptress 3. (?.)

Why are the best Australian SF stories being printed overseas?” Aurealis 32 Published May, 2004

“Keys of Power series” (article/extended review of Simon Brown’s trillogy ) Aurealis 33/34/35 January 2005

“Keys of Power series” (article/extended review on Simon Brown’s trillogy) Rewritten & updated, published online at   (October 2005)

What Happens When You Die” (Published as “Protecting the SF Collection” published in Specusphere, www. specusphere.org November, 2005.

Inerview with Sean Williams, Simon Brown and Shane Dix, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine issue 23.

Interview with Adrian Bedford. Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine issue 29.

Interview with Alstair Reynolds. Andromeda Spaceways Inflight magazine issue 31.

"Time for Tom Rynosserous" Interview with Terry Dowling. Andromeda Spaceways Inflight magazine issue 35.

Interview with Pamela Freeman, Androemda Spaceways inflight Magazine issue 38.

"Melbourne is Full of Vampires" article comparing the works of Kerri Arthur and Narelle Harris,
Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine issue 40

"Why Not a Donkey?" Grassroots magazine Issue 78 (?) 2007 (?)

"Dog-carting" Grassroots magazine, 84 (?) 2009 (?)

 Interview with Sue Bursztynski, Magpies magazine, November 2010.

Interview with Sam Bowing, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine issue 49, December 2010.

Interview with Professor George Williams on Lecturing in law and his interests in SF published in Ratio, UQLS (University of Queensland Law Society) September, 2011.

Interview with Jo Anderton, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine issue 53, Feb 2012

Article on mamoth Donkeys. Grass Roots magaze 209 Feb/march 2012.


Review of Jo Anderton's book, "Debris" in Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine issue 53, Feb 2012
Review of Richard Harland's book, "Liberator" in ASIM 53, Feb 2012.
Review of Peter Donovan's "Nibiru 2013" in ASIM 53, Feb 2012 


 Astrex Literary Awards 1977.

      1st Prize Fiction. "Rebuilding the Enterprise"

      2nd Prize Poetry. "Terran Mother/Vulcan Son"

Astrex Literary Awards 1978

     3rd Prize Long Fiction "McCoy: The Right Kind of Different"

     2nd Prize Miscellaneous. "We Wonder."

Astrex Literary Awards 1979

     3rd Prize Poetry. "Emotive"

     3rd Prize Story ."Tyger"

Astrex Literary Awards 1980

     3rd Prize Story. "Greengags"

     3rd Prize Poetry. "A Klingon Khristmas Karol."

Melbourne University Science Fiction Association Literary Competition 1981

     Honorable Mention: "She just dropped in" (Published in Yggdrasil - See above.)

Medtrek Literary Competition 1982

     First Prize Poetry. "Ode to the Creator of the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster."

Astrex Literary Awards 1982

     First prize story (shared) "Rec Room"

Mary Grant Bruce Awards 1986

     High Commendation for "The Dragon Ring"

Australian Science Fiction Media Awards

     Best writer 1987

Australian Science Fiction Media Awards

     Best writer 1990.

Mary Grant Bruce Awards, 1996.

     Commended for "Restitution"


Manly Peninsular FAW annual competition.1997

     1st Prize, article section. "Writes of Passage."

Calembeen Literary Awards, 1997.

     Highly Commended for "Helga" in Children's story section. (Published in anthology.: “Leaves of the Forrest Muse”,1998)

 Inaugral George Turner Prize:1997 Young Adults Novel: "Boyfriend Wanted: No Experience Necessary" short-listed. (Short list, 10 un-published novels out of 130 entries)

 Emma Darcy Award for Romance Novels 1998."Boyfriend Wanted: No Experience Necessary" Made it into the third round (semi-finals.) Judged to be in the top 12 of 66 entries. Certificate of Merit awarded.

 Australian Science Fiction Awards (Ditmars) Best fanzine: The Australian SF Bullsheet (Edwina Harvey and Edwin A. Scribner.) 2004. (conflux convention 2004)

 Australian Science Fiction Awards (Ditmars) Best fanzine: The Australian SF Bullsheet (Edwina Harvey and Edwin A. Scribner.) 2005. (Thylacon convention 2005)

 Australian Science Fiction Awards (Ditmars) Best fanzine: The Australian SF Bullsheet (Edwina Harvey and Edwin A. Scribner.) 2006. (Brisbane, 2006)


Proofread Cohorts magazine (IIBNF Press) Issues

Slush reader and proofreader  Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, August,2002 - ..


Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine Issues 8, 10, 16, 17, 35 , 40 49

Australian Science Fiction Bullsheet. (Monthly newsletter) from issue 1, April 2002, to Issue 101, August 2010.

Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine issue 12 , 24,33,42

Editor “Rare Unsigned Copy: Tales of Rocketry, Ineptitude and Giant Mutant Vegtables” a collection of work by Simon Petrie. Peggy Bright Books, 2010. (www.peggybrightbooks.com)

Editor (with Simon Petrie) Light Touch Paper, Stand Clear spec-fic anthology. Peggy Bright Books, June 2012.

Edited :Never Too Young To Make A Difference" a yet to be published children's novel by Dr Serrie Kamara, 2012.

Editorial comments on 2012 edition of Life, Death & Detention by George Ivanoff. Morris Publishing, Australia (acknowledged in the forward)  



Convention Experience:

Medtrek 1982, Hydro Majestic, Medlowbath, NSW
   Running a candidate for the (mock) Galactic Senate Campaign.
   Writing and Production of amatuer play "Nova Time Like the Present"

Medtrek 1984, Shore Motor Inn, Arncliffe Sydney. Member of 3 person panel on homo-erotica.

Member of 3 person panel on being a small press publisher,Timewarp Convention, 1986, Hyde Park Motel, College St, Sydney.

Member of 3 person panel re Douglas Adams' Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy. Eccentricon Convention, 1987. Richmond, NSW.

Member of the fundraising committee for this convention. Active from 1986 until this convention was held. Also worked as sound assistant for "Off World Fashion Show" and held "Green Putty Awards" - bad poetry session.

 Nowracon, 1989. Leprechaun Motel, Nowra.
Co-convenor (with Karen Auhl) of a small (30 members) convention based on the theme of relaxation. Wrote most of 4 progress reports, replied to written enquiries prior to convention, banked attendance fee cheques, issued receipts, liased with motel, helped organise banquet, developed program.

 Huttcon, 1990. Diplomat Motel, St. Kilda, Melbourne.
Was a committee member from 1986 – post  convention.  I held the post of secretary for this convention from 1987 until 1991. Huttcon was voted to be Australian National Science-fiction, Media convention for 1990. at Conspire, 1989. I wrote and presented the convention proposal that saw us elected as Natcon.
I assisted in selecting the convention site.
     As secretary, I handled the majority of mail and phone enquries regarding the convention. I liased with British actor Simon Jones, with regards to being Guest of Honour at this convention. When he was unable to attend due to work committments I liased with Ed Bishop, also from England. I also liased with Margaret, Rebecca and Norman Hetherington, of Sydney, to attend as Guests of Honour.
     During my time with Huttcon, I was responsible for holding a variety of fundraising activities which took place in the Sydney area.
     I assisted in the writing of progress reports, as well as collating the post-convention report.
     Huttcon had a membership of approximately 300 people. Profits from this convention were donated to Greenpeace Australia.

Comedycon 1994. Trade Winds Motor Inn, Maroubra, Sydney.
     I was liason person for the Guest of Honour, British comedian Hattie Hayridge, as well as motel liason person for this convention. I assisted in holding a variety of fundraising events for this convention. I helped write the convention progress reports, as well as the convention program book, with assistance from Jo and Graeme Batho. Comedycon was a medium size convention with approximately 95-100 attendees. It nominated Diabetes Australia as its charity, and through convention events such as a special auction it raised approximately $500 for this charity.

Aussiecon 3. the 57th World Science-fiction convention. Wrote articles regarding this convention (Aurealis issue 20/21, Harbinger issue 2) . Distributed convention leaflets. Became NSW Agent for Aussiecon 3 in July 1998 after Eric Lindsay moved to QLD. Appeared on Smeg Radio (2RRR.FM) to promote Aussiecon 3 on 10 March, 1999 and 18th August.

 Aussiecon 3. On panel with Jeanne Mealy and Danny Heap to discuss "Convention going for beginners." Sunday 5th September, 1999.

 Nelcon. 2000. Small (23 members) relaxacon held at Country Comfort Motel, Salamander Bay, Port Stephens. Secretary/Treasurer/Motel Liason. Wrote convention booklet, organised con bags, liased with specialist speakers (Susan Batho, Rob Riel, Ted Scribner). Convention donated $100 to Juvenile Diabetes.

 Aussiecon 4:  Read from my novel, "The Whale's Tale" and read "Rocket and Sparky" (from Worlds next Door) as part of the convention program.
Appeared on a panel about fan publications with Erika Lacey and ... as part of the program.

Nullus Anxietas Discworld convention, Penrith, NSW 8-10 April, 2011. Conducted a 2 panel Writers Workshop with Simon Petrie (Session 1 Friday 8/4/11, Session 2 10/4/11)
Presented a panel on Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine ceolebrating the release of 50 issues with Simon Petrie.

Panel on the "Boundaries of Young Adult Speculative Fictio"n with Crissetta MacLeod (Chair) Tycho Petrie, Dawn meredith Conflux convention 1st October, 2011.

Panels at UnCONvention, NZ National SF convention, 1-3 June, 2012, Auckland (Attending as FFANZ delegate)
"Get Real"  panel with Robin Clark, Kevin McLean and ??? (nice lady who was a last minute substitute panelist)
"Small Presses" with Stephen Minchin, Grace bridges and Lee Murray.
Author reading of Whales tale and "HG" (ASIM 54) at UnCONventional

Visited and spoke with students from Sunshine College (Vic) book-club regarding my novel " The Whale's Tale" as well as writing in general, September, 2010.

Judging:  Aurealis Awards Children's Section, 2011.

Television Appearance:

The Couchman Show, hosted by Peter Couchman. Invited as a special guest re debate on science-fiction. Aired ABC television April 1989.

Radio Appearances:

Bob Hughes Show, 2BL Sydney. September, 1994. With Hattie Hayridge to promote Comedycon convention.

 Ken Regez Program. WCLO, Wisconsin, USA. Assisted in supplying research and questions for interview with Forrest J. Ackerman. July (?) 1997.

 Spoke with Peter Bryant to promote Aussiecon 3. on Smeg Radio (2RRR.FM) on Wednesday 10 March, 1999, and again on 18th August, 1999.

Hans Streefkerk, Edwina, Cindy

Ditmar nominees


 Congratulations to artist Eleanor Clarke who has been nominated for a Ditmar Award fro her beautiful cover of my YA novel, The Whale's Tale, and to colleague Simon Petrie for being nominated s Best new Talent in the Ditmars. (Liz at Peggy Bright Books - www.peggybrightbooks.com - asked me to write that! )

And it's also nice to the The Austrailan Science Fiction Bullsheet, which I edit and Ted Scribner webmasters, was nominated as well!      






Hans Streefkerk, Edwina, Cindy

The Whale's Tale

   And now a word from our sponsors... the project that kept me busy for a lot of last yeat (along with editing Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine #42 see www.andrinedaspaceways.com  As Today is International Whale Day, it seems appropriate to post this.


    In a future where whales and dolphins can communicate with humans, where the Whale Nation has brought space travel back from the brink of extinction with their spaceships called The Whaling Fleet, humpback whales tour the galaxy performing Whalesong to receptive audiences.

Uki is a teenage Japanese girl caught stealing a file from a whale to impress a guy in her gang,. She has to perform restitution to Targe, the humpback whale she’s stolen the file from, by touring the galaxy with him and his dolphin sidekick, Charlie. Uki doesn’t like Targe, Targe doesn’t like Uki, and Charlie thinks he’s in for the worst tour of his life until they discover Uki has a special talent.

226 pages..   ISBN: 9780980699807.     RRP $19.95  

Order from your favourite bookshop or buy direct from Peggy Bright Books, PO Box 2087, Maroubra, NSW. Australia. www.peggybrightbooks.coim


The Whale’s Tale is an exciting new YA science fiction novel by Edwina Harvey.

Hans Streefkerk, Edwina, Cindy

Review "And Another Thing" by Eoin Colfer


Review of “And Another Thing” Part 6 of 3 Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy novels.

Written by Eoin Colfer, Penguin Books, 2009. ISBN 9780718155148.

Reviewed by Edwina Harvey

 I’ve been a Douglas Adams, Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy fan since “way back when”, getting hooked when I first heard the radio series, and pursuing HHG in all its many forms, including being a member of ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha, the UK based HHG fan club that gets a one page add in an end pages of the book. Is this the first time a major publisher has acknowledged a fan base? 

 Like many, I suspect, I approached the new Hitch-hikers novelization by Eoin Colfer with caution, not sure of what to expect. This was Douglas Adams’ universe, after all, and Douglas passed away in 2001.

 Eoin Colfer does an admirable job in channelling Adams in “And another thing”. It has a distinctly HHG feel right from the introduction. Older (though not necessarily wiser) renditions of Arthur, Ford & Trillian, together with Arthur and Trillian’s daughter, Random, who seems to have stepped into Zaphod’s shoes and is now President of the Galaxy, are reunited on another Earth which is also about to be destroyed by Vogons, or at least the Grebulons who seem to have taken over the Vogons’ dirty work.

 Enter Zaphod Beeblebrox (who’s had work done) and the Heart of Gold at an appropriate time, quickly followed by Wowbagger the Infinitely Prolonged and his ship, bought from a guy who stole it from Thor, who’s about the make a comeback.

 Somewhere in the Galaxy, there’s a collection of humans still existing on a small planet called Nano, looked after by an Irishman called Hillman Hunter (who you’d expect to be related to Ford Prefect) The planet’s been given Hillman’s pet name for his Nana. She still gives him advice when he needs it, even though she’s dead. (I wonder if Eoin had a similar deal happening with Douglas?)  

 Okay, I've taken a right hand turn, After ages of ifnoring my LJ page, I thought I'd start posting book reviews here, Hope you enjoy this first offering... 

I feel I’m being disloyal to Adams’ memory for saying it, but I thought “And Another Thing” was funnier than if he’d written it.

 Colfer brings a freshness to the HHG universe that Adams couldn’t recapture after the release of the first novel (by that stage he’d launched HHG as 2 radio series, a record and novel while allowing other interests to produce the Guide as a stage play, was writing for Dr Who, and might have been burned out.) Colfer also gives the impression that he is having fun writing in the HHG Universe, while Adams was a notorious procrastinator when it came to writing a new novel, and always seemed to find the actual writing a hard chore.   

 I have a couple of qualms about this mostly enjoyable book. When did Frood stop being a noun and evolve into the verb “Froody”?  I also felt the Guide entries, much loved aspects of the original HHG books, were a little overused in “And Another Thing”. But hey, these are minor quibbles when you’re given the chance to be among friends again. The parting gesture of “And Another Thing” is a line that reads “The End of one of the Middles.” Let’s hope Colfer can be lured back to explore more of those middles soon. 

Hans Streefkerk, Edwina, Cindy

Canberra Donkeys Space

I visited Canberra over the weekend of 28 Feb/1st March (09).

My friend, Lawrie Brown, had offered me his spare room to stay in as I wanted to go to Canberra for their Agricultural Show, which in my opinion is *very civilized* because it includes donkeys. That gave me a little longer to spend in Canberra - never a hardship, I assure you! 

Murrays runs a cheap regular express bus route from Sydney to Canberra, and I've been going with them for quite a few years, even though I noticed Greyhound buses are matching their cheap rates. (A non-changeable ticket is only $15. Less that it'd cost to drive down, and I can gaze at the passing scenery or catnap on the bus, which I couldn't do if I was driving.) 

Lawire had asked if I wanted to do anything else while in Canberra, because he was quite happy to drive me around the place. 
Quite a few years ago at the first Conflux convention, there was a night trip planned to Mt Stromlo where the University had quite a few telescopes. I would have loved to go to it, but even back then I was a bit wary of night driving on strange roads, didn't know anyone to ask to have a lift with, so I begged off the experience. In 2003 the Canberra fires ravaged Mt Stromlo, and I've always regretted forsaking the opportunity of seeing the observatories. So I asked if he'd take me to Mt Stromlo (via the Canberra Mint so I could buy a "year of Astronomy" coin as it happened.)  

I was right about the roads...one lane either side, and a few hairpin bends that looked serious in daylight. Part of me was glad I didn't try the drive up myself as part of Conflux all those years ago.

And the view from the top of the mountain was Happy/Sad. It was a lovely view (despite the gusty wind) but most of the observatories are burned out shells, their telescopes ruined beyond repair in the fires. There were few tourists about, as there's little there to see anymore. Their cafe, like the observatories, is burned out and closed off. But the ghosts seem to cling to the place still.

We didn't spend very long there. Just a quick walk around and a few minutes to play with their sundial, and lawrie suggested a drive out to Tidbinbilla to see the deep space tracking station.

Having someone drive me through the countryside was heaven on a stick as far as I', concerned, as I'm still reticent to drive beyond my comfort zone of home/shops/work.
The array of radio telescopes was also fascinating. They have a canteen area (I was starving by then), souvenier shop and display area showing videos of the space race, displaying a  jacket worn in the space station, early model spacesuits etc etc I was especially fascinated by the small piece of moon rock on display (Hey, it reminds me of a ceramic glaze I've got at home...) and the sound recording of space. I needs must work that into a short story somewhere down the track.

At Mt Stromlo, on seeing plenty of kangaroo poo, I'd grumbled how I'd never seen a roo in the wild. After the radio telescopes we drove deeper into the valley where there's a wildlife reserve. As the shadows lengthened in the late afternoon, we drove around a corner into a parking area, lawrie pulled up the car and announced: "There you are" - a small female grey roo with a fairly mature (judging by its tail sticking out of the pouch) joey in-tow briefly regarded us, decided we weren't threatening and returned to grazing. Maybe twenty metres away there was a small family of (presumeably male) emu parent and three half-grown chicks...the Australian coat of arms au naturale!

And the best was yet to come! 

On Sunday, I was driven the scenic route (via Duntroon, with a detour to the splendid lookout above the grounds) to the EPIC centre, where the Canberra Show was being held. I found my way to the donkey show, and got to chat to Pat Emmett who - with her husband, barry - breeds mammoth donkeys. They had a half-mammoth, (13.3 hh?) called Wicopy, at the show, and a teamster jenny called Judy. 

The Emmetts are easy to find: just look for the tallest donkeys!

I was easy to find too, through wearing my Andromeda Spaceways Inflight magazine T-shirt. Made me stand out like a sore thumb.

There were some smaller (10hh?) donkeys in pens across the way from Pat, including a paint jenny and her adorable white foal, complete with curly top fringe! But I was drawn to another donkey who was quite happy to lean up against the fence for a bit of a smooch. I learned through another donkey cuddler, who was also called Pat - Pat Hines in this case. I suspect if you want to be anyone important on the Aus Donkey Scene it helps if your name is Pat - that this donkey's name was Emily. The penny didn't drop until Pat gave her her full title, Emily Rose. 

I know Emily Rose via photos of her in Sydney's Hyde Park taken last Easter (for either an Easter event, or maybe a blessing of the animals event?) and published in the NSW Donkey magazine. Her owners had kindly driven me to the NSW Donk Soc Christmas party 2 years ago. 

Emily had been a bit off colour (bright enough, from what I could tell. Keen enough to interact with us humans who were patting her, but her head would occassionally swing back to nudge her side. I wasn't sure if this was an instruction to "scratch here" or not. Pat H suspected she may have had "a case of the hormones", which seemed plausible to me. (I don't know much about donkeys after all.) 

Pat H was running the Donkey Sanctuary table...or she would be when she could drag herself away from cuddling the donkeys and set the table up. As I wanted to invest in the Donkey Sanctuary via buying stuff, I volunteered to help her set the table up. (Promptly bought 2 donkey notepads, and two carry bags, and probably would have bought a T-shirt too if they'd had my size!)
pat offered to mind my overnight bag at the table while I went and explored the rest of the show, so off I went.

The Canberra Show seems to be part produce market/Sunday Market/Ag Show all rolled into one, and I enjoy it's "earthiness" in sharp contrast to the paved/cleaned/souless/sterile Sydney Showgrounds at Homebush. I went in search of the Goulburn Valley Fruit Leather Stall where I'd discovered a variety of fruit leathers (essentally edible straps of dried pureed fruit) last tie. But last time was 2 years ago now, and they weren't there this time as far as I could see.

I bought some locally made nougat (so much for trying to buy *healthy" : - ), and a bag of good value local (?) macadamia nuts, watched some of the show jumping, and tried to inspect the horse stables (which I missed last time) but they don't seem open to the public.  Their craft show yeilded a local ceramist who'd made a Dr Who plaque, and I found the sheep dog yards but no sign of when the sheep dog trials were on as I hot footed it back to the Donkey area where I gratefully sat in a spare seat Pat H offered me and attempted to "earn my keep" by offering Donkey Sanctuary leaflets to people that stopped and browsed at the table. (Next year they're suppossed to have general seating, so "passers by" or "hangers on" (in my case" can have somewhere to sit and watch the donkey classes in the showring.

Possibly my own worst enemy, just as a couple of donkeys were harnessed into carts, I went off in search of a late lunch, but that quest gave way to watching some of the sheep dog trials. When I got back to the donkeys (wondering if some kind soul would let me "have a go" at driving their donkey and sulky) that part of the show was over, and the donkeys were unharnessed and back in their stall. (See what happens when you're spoiled for choice?)

I did get to see Emily Rose get looked at by the vet though. Fortunately her "off colour" wasn't colic, but the vet gave her an injection to make her feel a bit better. 

I think I've witnessed my first "donkey tantrum" . The needle went in, and it stung a bit, didn't it? The way Emily Rose fidgeted, she obviously didn't like the feel of that! The vet stepped back to her car, Emily Rose took a couple of steps forward then sank to her knees. amd laid right down.

Don't know if the vet;s thoughts were the same as mine, but I was thinking "Oh no! They've killed her!" 

Her owner, geoffrey Farrance, with more experience of donkeys in general and this young donkey in particular, just waited a moment on the other end of the lead, and she got to her feet again, without much encouragement, having made her point.

I'm totally smitten with Emily Rose. She's a sweet little thing. I only wish I *had* taken the camera with me. I'd been debating it, but since the last digital camera seemed to break down when I took it to NZ, I didn't want to risk breaking another one - especially since this one's only a couple of months old.

The weekend in Canberra did *nothing* to cure my addiction to donkeys.

Hans Streefkerk, Edwina, Cindy

Opthalmologists - the trust factor. Rant

The last time I went to see my Oppo he didn't want to listen to how I was having trouble getting time off work to attend medical appointments. (In fact I get the feeling he doesn't want to listen to me at all. His work would be a lot smoother if the patients didn't talk, and of course, none of us has a life outside of those times when we spring into existence in his waiting room, pay our bills then disappear back into the void until the next time we magically appear in their waiting room again for our next appointment.)

This time he did a perfunctionary pressure test with the hand-held eye pressure tester. These gizmos actually work better for me, there's a knob that touches our eyebrow, and while I'm concentrating on that, I'm *not* concentrating on some stranger tryingt to stick me in the eye with a probe.  Previously, when I thought I was giving "positive patient feedback" (i.e. "Hey, I don't find this as traumatic as the other way of doing things") I've been told by both the orthoptist and the opthalmologist that these hand-held devices are also considered quite inaccurate, so we have to do it the stressful way as well.

Yet here he was, looking at a reading from a device he'd previously told me was wildly inaccurate, and announcing that the pressure in my eyes was now at 30. ("Hit the bell and win a prize! Ding, ding, ding!.) He was going to refer me to "a good friend of his" and here's the next lot of procedures I could look forward to.

I know a little bit about this next step. Dad had glaucoma, and in the end had an operation to cut a channel in his eyes to reduce the build up of fluid/ causing pressure in the eye. He had his op at the Prince of Wales Hospital. It's just up the road from where I work. Could I go there? "Their eye clinic has closed down" (please note the past tense). "Well, what about the eye hospital in town?" No, I couldn't  go there either for no sufficiently explained reason. I had to see the man he was writing me a referal for. His good friend.  And the dire warning "Don't leave it too long!" that makes you think you're on death's door. Then he bundled me out of his office as quickly as possible... belatedly remembering as I was at reception paying his fee, that I''d probably need another 6 months of eye drop prescriptions as well.

Out of his office, as my nerves began to settle a bit, I started to stew over this. 

I mentioned in passing to a friend that I'd been told the eye clinic at POW had closed. She said another of her friends had just been there the day before. ???
I asked another friend who's had glaucoma for quite a while if he could recommend anyone. His glaucoma specialist is in the city. I can travel to the city in half the time I can get to the preferred specialist,

It seemed there were other options available to me. None of which were discussed in the Oppos rooms.

I mentioned my dilemna to my GP when I next saw her. She likewise deflected the POW eye clinic, and the Eye Hospital in the city. Possibly there's a valid reason for this - like a preference is given to the elderly or the unemployed, but I'd love to*know* what it is rather than someone I barely know deciding "That's not what you want" (I want it all to go away. *That's* what *I* want. 5 eye operations and the associated stress that goes with them is more than enough! And what I also want is not to re-live the trauma of the orthoptist coming at me, trying to prise my eye open to stick a plastic cup attatched to a syringe of water to my eye, but I can't make *that* go away either - months after the event. I know it's not there when I'm not confronted with eye problems and pretending I'm normal like everyone else.) 

At least the GP  *listened* to me, and got back with a suggested name in the city.

I looked him up on the internet. He seemed okay.

I rung the opthalmologists office and asked if I could be referred to him instead because he was closer. The receptionist said she'd get back to me.

She did a few days later, stating: [The opthalmologist} says {the specilalist in the city} no longer works at that clinic. [the oppo] would write the reference if I really wanted it, but was I *sure* I didn't want to see [his good friend I instead?

She seemed a bit put out when I said it said he still worked there on the internet, and that it was my GP who'd suggested him to me. She said the oppo would get back to me soon.

That was on 5th December, 2008.

I waited.

On  Tuesday, 27th January I got a call from the receptionist. I was told yet again that despite this specialist no longer working at the establishment I'd read about, and not doing the work I need, I'd get the referral. (So much for the sinister "Don't leave it too long" warning I'd been given.) 

It was something of a surprise to find in my cc'd copy of the referal that the oppo seemed quite chatty with this new specialist - addressing him by first name at least, which I presume you wouldn't do if you weren't familiar with a colleague.

Being a paranoid, nervous wreck, I've been waiting for the other shoe to fall  - I was almost certain I'd phone to make an appointment only to be told "No, he's left the practice", and I'd have to go back to square 1 and jump through all the hoops again.
Just the idea of having to phone and make an appointment today was enough to keep me awake for a lot of last night, reliving the othoptist trying to stick a plastic cup to my eye  among other things. Probably due to lack of sleep last night, I've felt like I'm on "high alert" sinceI woke up this morning - that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach that I've known so well since the "eye thing" began to unfold back in 2003.

My hands were sweaty and shaking when I dialed the number. yes, he still worked there, said this receptionist. What was my condition? She didn't balk when I read the details from the referal I'd been sent. I was waiting to hear "No, Ihe doesn't treat *that*" but it never came. I had the sense to ask if she could give me an idea of what it'd cost. Just as well I was sitting down! You don't get much back from medicare, and no, you can't claim the rest back on your private health cover.

So no back to square 1. More of the same old, same old. Another round of specialists appointments, another round of worrying where the money's going to come from to pay for everything, and this time the worry of how to take the time off work if I'm not supposed to be entitled to sick leave.

Another round of reminders that when this all started back in 2003 the oppo drew a little graph and said the "best case scenario" was that they could stabilise my condition, and I'd probably have 10 years of reasonable sight left. I don't need to be reminded of how little time I'm supposed to have left before everything goes *pffft* 

But why the heck was I subjected to "He doesn't practice anymore" and "He doesn't treat your condition" from the oppo???

Health care *professional*? Health care *provider*??? More like the ethics of a dodgy second-hand car salesman!



Hans Streefkerk, Edwina, Cindy

New Zealand by Train

A New Zealand SF fan told me about how you can see the sperm whales at Kaikoura when I was chatting to him at the natcon in Brisbane back in 2006. You can get there by train, he said, and that sweetened the deal for me, as public transport is  my preferred option when I'm on holidays. Let someone else drive who knows the way, I don't want the stress!

I started out in Auckland because the last time I was in Auckland I was about 7 years old, and I figure the place has changed a bit, and also because their Overlander departs from there  and travels  through NZ all  day reaching Wellington, the  capital, roughly 12 hours later. (You can also do the trip  from Wellington to Auckland, but I reckon it's easier going "downhill" than "up".)

I caught a small shuttle bus from the Airport. It dropped me in front of my hotel for $30. The driver commented on the old NZ$ notes I'd given him to pay for my bus fare - um, it's been 19 years since I was last in NZ, and they've moved from paper money to polymer notes. While they still exchange the higher denominations of old paper money, I came acropper with about $8 I had in small paper notes and they turned out to be useless. Couldn't spend them, and not even the banks wanted to cash them in for me. Oh well, I now have an unusual and unexpected souvenier.
In Auckland I stayed in the City Central Hotel because it was central and cheap. It was also clean, and the staff members I encountered were all friendly and helpful. My room was small, but functional. It had an ensuite, but it didn't have a fridge. Eh, I could survive without the fridge! They offer breakfast & lunch from an in-house cafe. I had the buffet breakfast there and thought it was reasonably priced. 

Day 1 was spent just wandering around Auckland. I caught the bus to Parnell, and found the Museum by accident more than design.
I found a Pro-Cathedral the same way (sometimes going without a plan is a good way to travel.) Back in the 1970's they'd moved the entire thing across the road to sit beside the bigger, "proper" Cathedral. (photo to come, hopefully.)

Day 2 saw me checking out of the hotel and heading for the Britomart railway station, suitcase in tow. I thought the Auckland streets would be empty before 7am, but there were still people going to work, and tourists wandering about.  I had a muesli bar, a chocolate and a 600 ml bottle of coke as "emergency provisions" for the trip. I was assigned a seat in Car A - where they have an indoors lounge/viewing area. I wasn't expecting to make much use of that, because I had a panoramic window seat. I got into conversation with the lady sitting beside me, who was traveling with her niece and niece's husband across the aisle. They all took turns to share the window seat on that side of the carriage, so they played "musical chairs" and I got to talk to all of them. By the end of the trip, I felt I'd made three good friends.

While nosing around the net trying to find out about my trip before leaving home, I thought I'd read, in someone elses blog. they served decliscious Devonshire teas on the train, but there were none on the menu everyone is given, or in the buffet car when I checked the buffet for an early lunch. They'd also already run out of egg sandwiches! There's something about long train trips and egg sandwiches for me. They just go together. I had to make do with a roast beef and salad sandwich, which turned out to be a great second choice...none of this processed meat product - this was a generous slice of real beef and it was deliscious!
Speaking of beef - I saw an awful lot of it on the hoof as we got out into the countryside from Auckland. Far more than I was expecting. Dairy cows also grazed contentedly in lush green paddocks, but where were all the sheep? New Zealand has a reputation for having a lot of sheep that it was failing to live up to. I asked Judy about it, and was informed cattle and dairy were where the money was these days, so that's what many farmers were turning to, but there were some NZ'ers who weren't impressed as cattle tend to churn up the soils and cause erosion worse than sheep do. Further away from Auckland we did start seeing sheep farms, and many  lambs  were grazing beside their mothers, or gamboling as the train incaded their world.

I was also fascinated to see all the paddocks had neat hedgerows running along their fence lines in one area we travelled through. I also remember the white flowers that grew along the tracks. They reminded me of drifts of snow. Later the white flowers gave way to yellow ones.

An "operational problem" (I love that phrase, it covers all sorts of things going awry!) with the engine slowed us down a bit. We stopped at a station where they said they had to call for a second engine to be coupled to the first. I have memories of being holed up in a carriage in the pouring rain at Tarago for a couple of hours, and worried we'd be doing the same thing this time, but they'd obviously summoned the second engine well before they'd told us of the problem, and we were soon back in action and on our way.

There's a sort of corkscrew in the tracks that gets the train up into the higher altitude just before the national park. It's something of an engineering feat, and I wish I understood it better , so I could explain it better.

I can explain the mountains. Judy was the first to glimpse Mt.... an impressive snowcapped peak. (I'm from Sydney, Australia, so I don't often get to see snowcapped peaks, and if you think I'm making a fuss now, just wait until I start writing about Kaikoura!) 

The Overlander stops for a while at National Park, where the crew change over onto another train for the return journey back to Auckland (and passengers doing the Auckland/National Park/Auckland day trip get on this train as well.)  The station had a tea shop, with a nice varnished wood interior, paintings, and painted saws decorating the walls, and once we all arrived, a queue to buy food as well as a queue to the toilets. It was here that I spied "lemonade scones" (scones made with lemonade so that they're sweet and light.) I should have indulged myself, but I opted for something savoury instead. They also had carrot cake. My whole trip of NZ seemed to be punctuated by places selling the best looking carrot cake I'd seen in quite a while, but I only succumbed to trying it twice. 

The 45 minute "whistle stop" at National Park gave us plenty of time to eat, freshen up and walk around a bit. I took a few photos of the impressive snow-capped mountain range that doninated the horizon on the station side of the tracks, and began to get a niggling feeling about my camera. It's an older model with a small screen and this was only the second time I'd taken it on holidays. The pictures didn't look *right* on the screen, but I'd had a similar problem in Perth too, so I wasn't overly concerned...yet.

Judy, Graham and Mary had a late on-board afternoon tea a couple of hours later which included a few G&T's and a meat pie bought from the train's buffet car which smelled absolutely delicious! Unfortunately, it was the last pie on the train, so I was out of luck there as well. (Maybe I should be calling this LJ entry "New Zealand by Food??? ; - ) The others had ordered their dinner at the buffet car, and seeing as how I'd missed out twice already, and we'd be getting into Wellington a fair bit later than expected, I decided to put my order in as well, opting for vegetarian lasagne and a can of lemonade. they'd run out of diet coke by then too, and what was left of the bottle I'd taken onboard with me was nice and warm by this stage. The friendly buffet staff said they'd deliver it to my seat. They'd made the same offer to the others who'd tipped me off about the service, and I'd selected the same delivery time they had so we could all eat our meals together,..only Judy, Mary and Graham's meals arrived on time, looked ans smelled fantastic...and mine didn't.  I waited. and waited (and could have easily have mugged one of the other three for their roast dinners!) and finally went up to the buffet to collect my lasagne. The buffet host was very apologetic for forgetting me, but I wasn't really worried. Getting up to the buffet car had probably burned a few calories that would have lied idle if I'd been served at my seat.

The tray tables on the Overlander are ingenious things! They are heavy metal clip-board shaped thingies that you get in your pouch pocket in front of you, along with the literature about the train and the buffet menu. At first I thought you used them "as is" on your lap, and had observed someone returning from the buffet car with two cups of coffee balanced on one earlier in the day...but how the hell were you supposed to eat a meal off them without balancing the tray on your lap? Then I noted the people in the seats across from me had a tray that seemed (from my view point) to levitate in mid ear above the lap. Curiouser and curiouser!
I started fiddling around with the between-seats armrest. The tray had a tim and a lip, but didnt seem to fit into the armrest anywhere, until I discovered the arm rest has an extra portion that folds straight out, and the metal tray slots into that. 

Anyway, back to dinner.  I found the serves very generous, and the vegetarian lasagne was delicious.

After dinner I went up to the lounge area at the back of our carriage and got to talk to a few more of the passengers. I think I started seeing deer farms around about then too, noticeable by their very high fences...oh, and if there are deer in the paddocks, that's usually something of an indicator too. : - )
I was always on the look out for horses, and had spotted some pretty young foals earlier in the day, and *maybe* I caught sight of the lower part of two grey donkeys. They were up an embankment from the trainline, and a wide wooden plank post obliterated the rest of my view of them.

Dusk was falling as we rolled down off the mountains, onto the straights and began to catch glimpses of the sea. The cabin crew even announced we had a very good view of the South Island, which we did. We passed an island that serves as a sanctuary for NZ wildlife. Many of NZ's flightless birds have become endangered by introduced predators such as rats, cats and dogs, so they've set up a number of these sanctuary islands around the place.

I think it was close to 9.30 pm when we pulled into Wellington railway station, and then we had to wait for our luggage to be taken off the train, but again everyone was in a good mood and didn't seem to mind. The train staff had made an announcement about the free bus that connects with the ferry terminal. My ears pricked up at that, I'd have to investigate further, but not tonight. 

Once I got my bag (it was among the last to be taken off the train, I was beginning to wonder if it'd got lost somewhere) I asked one of the railway staff if he knew the street where my hotel was on. I'd booked The Holiday Inn because it was walking distance from the railway. He wasn't sure, so he ckecked with someone else, and I was on my way in no time, pulling my suitcase behind me.

I was a bit wary about travelling around a strange city late on a Friday night, but there weren't many people around, and I ended up following a couple from the train anyway, so at least I had the illusion of "safety in numbers". And the Holiday Inn wasn't too far away either, but I was glad to see it. Despite sitting around watching the scenery most of the, I was tired and looking forward to getting out of the clothes I'd been wearing for the past 15 hours.

I had a blissful room! Two double beds offered a small mountain of pillows each, and the wall-to-wall window offered a good view over the harbour. Lights from the boats and the houses twinkled like ferryland!
The room had a fridge (it also had a mini-bar, and there was room service, but looking at the prices I was glad I'd had dinner on the train after all.) The bathroom was spacious, I quite liked the wall of frosted glass seperating bathroom from the bed area, the complimentary toiletries were high quality, and oh joy! The room had a bath!

Now, I'm from Sydney, which has had below-average rainfall for quite a few years, and conserving water has been etched into my psyche...but ,Toto, I wasn't in Sydney anymore. I was in a country that got plenty of rain, had just passed through lush green countryside to prove it got plenty of rain. I was feeling grotty after a 14+ hour train trip and that bath was calling me. I can't remember the last time I indulged in a bath. (And before you jump to the wrong conclusion, I had been indulging in plenty of timed short showers!) I ran the bath and had a nice long soak and it felt wonderful! 

In my PJ's I crawled into bed, and I would have turned on the bedside lamp so I culd write for a bit if I could have worked out where the switch to the bedside lamp was! It wasn't in "the usual places" and I became frustrated being unable to find it (there's *another* intelligence test I've failed!) In the end I figured I could do without it, crawled into the very comfortable bed, admired the pretty view of the harbour through the sheer organza curtains and went to sleep moments later.

Next morning I found the bedside lamp switch! Half-way along the electrical cord. Didn't think to try and look there, though I *did* look at the end of the cord where it slipped into the wall just in case. The cord was black, the switch was black, the wall they were next to was black and I'm visually impaired, that explains why I didn't find it.

The day was grey and overcast so I packed my raincoat and headed off to see Wellington.

I had to chuckle when I glanced down a side-street and saw their distinctive beehive shaped  parliament house. a few clocks from the motel. Linda Cox Chan had led Helen Small, Gary Armstrong and I a merry dance to find it - or rather a stamp shop very close to it - the last time I'd been to Wellington (also the first time I'd been to Wellington) about 19 years ago. We'd all seperately come over for a NZ con, all had a late flight out of Wellington and had spent the day sight-seeing together. Now here I was within stones throw of the place!

I made for the wharf and what had seemed like their cultural precinct on the maps I'd studied, but very little seemed to be open that time of morning. (The cultural centre I was after was actually up the other end of the wharf complex and I discovered that later in the day.) While wandering around trying to get my barings I stumbled upon "The Old Bank" building which had the look and feel of a NZ version of the Queen Victoria Building in Sydney - lots of boutique shops, and an added surprise! It had the remains of an old sailing ship buried in its basement. It had been discovered while they were excavating the bank's basement, and you can still see part of it through a viewing area underneath the stairs. The ship had been purchased by a local merchant when its former owner couldn't afford to repair it to make it seaworthy.Tied up to the pier It served as a warehouse and auction rooms in its...bu t what was it doing several blocks away from the waterside where I'd been earlier in the morning? 

Turns out an earthquake had lifted what had been the earlier waterline a couple of metres into the air in the 1800's, leaving the locals to develop the new wharf area and redevelop the old. They'd done that, and the ship had been forgotten about until it was rediscovered.