A week to make you crawl into your childhood.

This has been a week to really lay a person flat. I have hit a new low in enthusiasm for the things that govern our world. As I don’t really want politics to enter my blogging world (of books, tea and coffee, puppies and flowers, stationary and friends) I will not say how disturbed I am about the recent events in the USA. Most of you know how it feels anyway.

Although I now live in Australia, I grew up in a small town (pop. 5000 maybe) in the state of Michigan in the USA. Farm country midwest.

The Grand Ledge Public Library, Michigan, USA 1950’s

I was remembering what I used to do as a child when the life I had got to be too much. I used to escape the yelling, the boredom, the alcohol fuelled nonsense by going to the little library that was in my town. It was only one block away. This was in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The librarians were the stereotypical ones who wore their glasses like a bat might, flying out of a cave looking for food. They only knew one word and that was “Shush!”. They used it often. They never showed us anything about where the books were.  When one had read everything in the children’s section it would not occur to them that some in the adult section would be great for the older, intelligent child. 

Censorship was rife in those days. It was okay to read Grimm’s with children being eaten by witches or wolves blowing down houses of pigs into oblivion but heaven help you if there was something good by Steinbeck or Hemingway about poverty,  love, war or angst. Violence was fine, romance wasn’t. We might stumble across the word ‘breast’ or ‘illegitimate’ or ‘queer’ and ask them what it meant. I still laugh to think of it.

Anyway, I digress. I just acquired the book, 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up. It begins with a section of recommended books from ‘0-3’ age range and it ends with a section for ‘Over 12’. 


Most of what I remember of life in the library as a child was it was cool in summer. It was quiet and no one bothered you. I spent a lot of time looking through those 3D cards in the little gizmo you hold with your hand and look through at the double postcard to see history in 3D. (I know they have a name but I admit I don’t know what they were called). I guess it was early technology. I know you could sit in a corner on the carpet and read for a long time and no one knew where you were or ever thought to look for you there. But if you got into trouble for being gone so long you had a witness to your afternoon of silence. The bats.

I have wanted a complete week of silence this week. Just to mull over what a Trump presidency will be like with Newt Gingrich in the Secretary of State position and a possible Sarah Palin as head of Interior Development. I can more likely believe in the Yeti or the Abominable Snowman than believe that scenario. Anyway, I digress again. I told you my mind is shot.

Peanuts Cartoon by Charles Schultz

Since the TV news gives me the shivering willies lately, I have more time to get creative, write in my blog, decorate post cards. I decided as part of 2017, as well as reading more of my TBR books and book club books I will read some of the books listed in the ‘1001 Children’s Books…’

I have read many books for the under five year olds. As I worked with language delayed and disabled children we always had a lot of lessons around books. The Who, Why Where, When and How of language development never left me. I spent 35 years in this field. However, there are many books for older children I was not exposed to. There was no reason, because many of them were written in the late 1800’s and earlier 1900’s except there was no one in my life to tell me about them. My parents weren’t readers of serious things. We chose to not have children so those books were not in the house.

Thumbing through this book brought back happy memories of spending summer days in the library as a child.

It also made me realise that there were a lot of books, especially from other countries I never read. I thought I would start at the beginning of this reference book. The first books are for children 0-3. I will also find the last recommended book listed in the final section ‘Over 12′ year olds’ I am planning to work from the outer edges towards the middle of the book. I will look in our library or the internet and read them. Two books at a time should not take long.  I’ll talk about what I thought of them both and see if they take me out of 2017 .

I think it might be time to travel back to 1959. Anything for a distraction. We’ll see if it helps me cope with 2017 more than I am expecting. After all most of us would probably rather spend time with The Hungry Caterpillar than Trump. 








The 2017 Challenges are Beginning

snip20161106_2One of the book blogs I follow is My Reader’s Block.  I enjoy her posts as I find them motivating. She has good challenges each year including the TBR (To Be Read) books from her own library. As most of us know we all seem to have stacks of books in our home we bought with great enthusiasm and then left to set on shelves knowing we ‘WILL’ get to them. Then out we go again, pass a book shop and lo and behold see another book we just ‘gotta’ have.

This past year I belonged to two book groups. One has two books per month and one has one book per month. Looking back I realise there were very few books that struck me as interesting. Yes, it is fun to talk to other about books whether we enjoy them or not and the social value of a book group cannot be underestimated.  But enough is enough and one of the groups had to go. So I let it go. I still belong to the other group. I call it the Grand Chancellor group because we meet in the lobby of the big Grand Chancellor hotel in the city centre overlooking the fishing boats in the harbour.   I love the group because the age of the participants is varied from young to retired. Their interests are diverse. Sonia is fun  as she truly is an Australian born into an English woman’s body. So we treat her as if she is English. One day she hopes to make her visits there permanent. But in the meantime we listen to her Englishness and enjoy the laughs. Danielle is our facilitator and after we discuss the books we play a game relating to books. There are a couple that are commercial and others she thinks us. It is always a huge laugh. We have a veterinarian in the group who has great animal tales from time to time. We have a couple of teachers who are well read and interesting. We have an Army major who is up for most things. We have a youngperson who reads everything and is very well versed with what she reads. We have a woman who flies to Hobart from Melbourne several times a year and plans her visits around the group. We also have a woman who jumped out of a plane to celebrate an occasion and then started dating the instructor. I did mention how diverse we all are.

We usually discuss two books per month. One is our “regular book,” the main one. The other might be a children’s book or something light weight or very different to the mainstream one. We are invited to read one or the other or both.  Sometimes we might pass on the book and just come to hear the discussion.

As I am not the fastest reader in the world I have decided that in 2017 I am going to focus on one of the books decided and read that and let the other go. I want to read maybe 8 to 10  of the book club books per year (we meet monthly) and that allows time to be away travelling or to leave the 800 page blockbuster I can not bear to look at. I will also use my audible subscription towards book club books so I can listen to them in the car or while doing other tasks. My plan is to create more time to read the TBR books.

I have shelves and boxes of books I want to remove from the house. However I won’t get rid of them if I haven’t read them and I think they will be very good. Once read (Penguin books excluded) they must leave the house. I will either sell on eBay, give away to bloggers or to charity shops.  Be prepared for giveaways anyplace in the world.

This gets me back to My Reader’s Block blog. She has a mountainous challenge. I mean this literally. I am going to focus on it for the year. There are various levels.

Challenge Levels: (click for sign up page)

Pike’s Peak: Read 12 books from your TBR pile/s
Mount Blanc: Read 24 books from your TBR pile/s
Mt. Vancouver: Read 36 books from your TBR pile/s
Mt. Ararat: Read 48 books from your TBR piles/s
Mt. Kilimanjaro: Read 60 books from your TBR pile/s
El Toro: Read 75 books from your TBR pile/s
Mt. Everest: Read 100 books from your TBR pile/s
Mount Olympus (Mars): Read 150+ books from your TBR pile/s

I will commit to Pike’s Peak but am hoping to get as close to Mt. Olympus as I can. I can’t imagine reading that many books but many of the Penguins are short.

snip20161106_4That is the plan for next year as of today. I also have a couple of audible books I have not heard and quite a few kindle books. The only rule is you must own the books before 1 January 2017. It is hard to believe 2016 is almost gone. The year seemed to go so quickly. But I like this time of year as it is a time of buying a new diary which I love (all those blank pages) and setting up goals for next year. I doubt I’ll sign up to many if any other challenges unless I can incorporate them into the TBR one. We’ll see how it goes. I won’t make a prepared list as lists ahead of time become boring. I would rather pick and choose off the shelves as my mood strikes me.  So stay tuned and see what the Penguin and I find hiding around the house. We expect to travel to many places and meet lots of characters we either like or don’t like. We are both looking forward to the ride.


Art Cards in the Mail

I received this card from Canada.

Today is a very rainy Sunday, about 12C degrees (54F) and the sun is also beating down. I think I should see a large rainbow soon but nothing in sight yet.


I was reading a post for JamesReadsBooks in October and I came across the one he wrote on 16 October about Art Cards.  He mentioned  International Union of Mail Artists and I looked it up. It is a rather chaotic web page but as I looked through all of the names, links and pages I thought it sounded like a lot of fun.  I have a lot of postcards. I pick them up in boxes in book stores, on trips or in the city when something catches my eye. Then there are the free ones I often find around town with art and advertising on them. I always wanted to do more with them than I do.

I received this one from Delray Beach, Florida.

I also subscribe to Flow Magazine from the Netherlands. It isn’t cheap but I do devour them and I love the whimsical art work, motivating articles and it makes me feel happy when I read it. It is only published once every two months. I often cut up the old ones and glue the pictures on various journals and cards.  I registered on the site of IUofMA and ‘friended’ a couple of people who looked rather sane and friendly in other countries.

This one is going to Kassell, Germany.

While looking around I also found Postcrossing.com.  That is a much easier site to use and with less chaos. I registered and received a letter confirming my membership and the simple instructions. I might add that no money needs to change hands or registration of credit cards  for either site. Post crossing.com lets one request up to 5 addresses at a time. I requested two. I got one in Russia (Alexandra) and one in Germany (Tanya). Along with the name and address a registration number is assigned for each. Once I receive a card from someone I enter their rego number into the website’s data base and I can keep track of what I receive. I can also post photos of the cards I receive.

I am sending this one to Delray  Beach, Florida

Since I am such a stationary freak I began my tasks.

I immediately received two postcards in the mail addressed to Travellin’ Penguin. This was through IUMA. One was from Ontario, Canada and one was from Florida, USA. Their return addresses and notes were on them so I made up a card for Suzanne and Patricia. The cards were fun. One was in an envelope and had their addresses on them.

The top card with stamps is going to Russia. Evidently she enjoys stamps. A Puffin postcard fixed up a bit. The second card is going to Ontario, Canada.

I thought I would share the pictures of the cards today as it seemed a pleasant Sunday activity. File it under Miscellaneous and Travel.

As far as bookish activities this weekend I began Jerome K. Jerome’s book Three Men and a Boat. It is one of my Penguin books our book club is reading for the end of November. I will write more on that closer to the book club date. Don’t want to post up my feelings before the club meets.

Enjoy the photos. I am not overly artistic, at least I don’t think I am, so instead of creating my own cards, I preferred to get ready made cards and decorate them a bit. It is at least a little bit artistic. I might get braver as I go.

If anyone else out there is interested in exchanging postcards for fun contact me privately through contact email on this blog with your address and I will send you something either book, travel, art or Penguin related.



A Waddle or a Rookery of Penguins (Books that is)

Definition:   A group of penguins in the water is called a ‘raft’ – a group of penguins on land is called a waddle. Other collective nouns for penguins include: rookery, colony, and huddle.


I thought I would update you on a few new (old) Penguin books I have acquired in the last month or so. As I don’t keep them in water I guess they are not a ‘raft’.  I tend to think the main collection might be the ‘colony’ or the ‘rookery’ though for some reason ‘rookery’ reminds me of youngsters. Like a nursery. I guess it boils down to a ‘waddle’.


Without further adieu I will introduce you. All of them but one are published in England. Most are first published. If I find an early Penguin I don’t have at all then I will get the reprint until I find the first published one. A couple books replaced reprints I had so I will now pass those reprinted books on. I might have a giveaway once I get organised.



I am very much focused now on the first 1000 Penguin books in the collection. The Tasmanian Mercury newspaper contacted me to do a feature about my Penguin book collection for their Sunday magazine but as I was travelling so much this past winter it hasn’t been done yet. I don’t know if that is in the pipeline or not. Guess I would have to chase it up, but first I would have to straighten and clean the library room  which is a right tidy mess.



On the 25th of November I am presenting a talk on the  Penguin publishing history to a group of elderly people at a school for seniors in Hobart. The people really seem to enjoy seeing the books and for many it is a walk down memory lane for them. I don’t charge any money to do this hour presentation but I generally get home made goodies for morning tea and a bottle of red Tassie wine. I appreciate their interest. The men in the audience some times doze off now and again, especially if they aren’t readers,  but the women are wide awake and love to handle the books and ephemera. They always ask the most interesting questions and I like to see where their interest lies. I will try to get photos. This is the fourth time I will have presented the collection to senior groups around Hobart. Their interest warms my heart.

snip20161103_1Okay, that’s the waddle for today…

***********************************************************************Descriptions are below if you want details. They are organised chronologically by series number on their spine:

244   Crump Folk Going Home by Constance Holme  (1940)

251    The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressall  (1944)

269    Canon in Residence by V. L. Whitchurch (1940)

319     Claudius the God vol.II by  Robert Graves (194?)

339    High Rising by Angela Thirkell  (1941)

415    Modern Irish Short Stories edited by Sel. Joan Hancock & Alan Steele (1945)

447   Twixt Land and Sea Tales by Joseph Conrad

551    Peter Waring by Forrest Reid  (1946)

638   Don Segundo Sombra by Ricardo Guiraldes   (1948)

653    My Life and Hard Times by James Thurber (1948)

714    Thursday Afternoon by Monica Dickens (1949)

946    Jassy by Nora Lofts (1952)


American Penguin Illustrated Classic

08   Walden by Henry Thoreau (1942)













Summer is on its way.


You can tell when summer is on the way to Tasmania because the cruise ships start arriving. They drop over 5000 people on the streets of Hobart for one day before they continue their journey up the River Derwent to the Sea.

Cruise ship passengers really stand out. Tall men with baseball caps and kelly green golfing trousers. Mature age couples in matching jackets and middle aged women with coordinated casual wear of pastel tops and bottoms. They inject a great deal of money into our economy and the locals do not complain about that. There are close to 60 ships scheduled to arrive in our downtown deep water port in the coming months.

This past week was a relaxing week with a lot of fun social activities. Wednesday night was our book group held in the lobby of the Grand Chancellor hotel on the waterfront. We eat salads, chips or creme bruleé. We sip Tassie wines or cappucinos and discuss books.  Then usually we play a book related game. The meeting goes for about 3 hours.

This week we discussed the first graphic novel the group has read. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel.snip20161030_2

As expected the group either enjoyed it or hated it. A couple of members did not enjoy the genre of “comics” at all. I enjoyed it as it was something different. As far as the couple of graphic novels I have read I thought this was one of the better ones. Alison based it on her own life of coming out gay in her teenage years. She is raised by a mother who is too engrossed in her own theatre interests to be around too much and her father who is very literary but is also gay and beginning to come out a bit in his middle age.

I am not offering any spoilers when I say the whole story seems to be about her coming to grips with her homosexuality and her father’s suicide. I had a few problems with the continuity of the story. Was it really suicide as he was hit by a car. Why did they think it was suicide? Did I miss something?  I also found errors with dates in this book. The family goes to New York City for the 1976 bicentennial when she is around 14 but she writes a letter to her family from university in 1970 when about 19 yrs old. How does that make sense?

I don’t think I will make a bee line to turn my life over to graphic novels but our group rated this one about 3 stars from 5 and I would agree with that.

The book for next mLonth is Truly, Madly, Guilty by Australian author Liane Moriarty. It has also been made into a film of which I have not seen.

I have listened to the audio version of this from Audible.com.   I must say I did not enjoy it. The premise is too close to the book by Christopher Tsiolkas The Slap but not nearly as well written.


The narrator was extremely grating and I don’t know if that was her natural reading voice or if she was hamming it up for the story. I had to quit it about two thirds through as I did not care about the characters as nothing seemed to be happening. Everyone is waiting for the big dilemma at the BBQ to happen and evidently they all wonder would their lives have been better had they not attended. I didn’t even wait to see what happened at the BBQ because I could care less. But evidently the behaviour of that night impacts on the characters greatly. Maybe the last bit of the book picks up a bit but there are too many other books to get busy with to persevere with this one. I see readers on Good Reads had similar thoughts.

I have read another book by this author, The Husband’s Secret and I did enjoy that story much more. I think in 2017 when I devote more time to my large library of TBR books I won’t have to put up with books like this so much.

Last night our Ulysses motorbike group began the summer twilight rides. Each Saturday night those who are around come together for a 4:00 pm to 7:30 or so bike ride.  We have just changed to Daylight Savings Time. We stop somewhere and get something to eat. Last night was our first summer ride.


We had about 18 riders who went through Hobart and up the 12 mile ascent to the top of Mt. Wellington. The road is quite narrow though paved and the views are stunning at the top. It is usually freezing and very windy but last night was perfect. After we stood around enjoying the views and chatting we then rode down the mountain and through rural farmland to Kingston Beach where we parked the bikes. Along the beach we enjoyed chips, burgers, fish, hot coffees and cold drinks. We watched the cruise ship (above) sail past and enjoyed more friendly banter. The motto of the Ulysses club (all members must be over age 50, junior members over 40) is “Growing Old Disgracefully and I can promise we are certainly doing that.

I also got the dogs out for  a run at the dog beach midweek. As I have been away for more than a month they were ready for socialising and sniffing new things t the beach.


As an afterthought,  I am slowly getting used to wordpress and enjoying it so far. I added most of the blogroll I lost on my other blog at blogspot. If I have missed someone I will get an email the next time they post and will add it to the roll on this page.

Sunday night and another week coming up that looks interesting. Writing group, play reading class (starting Waiting for Godot), Theatre Royal to see the musical Antarctica which sounds intriguing and a few other bits and pieces. Will start a new book but not sure what yet so stay tuned. Thanks for putting up with my mischief.

Have had it with blogger…

Blogger destroyed parts of my Travellin’ Penguin blogspot web page while I was travelling. It is getting to hard to sign in to and the aggravation has told me it is time to make a switch. WordPress is a bit confusing so this newer Travellin’ Penguin website will be a work in progress but my goal is to have everything up and running by the beginning of 2017.

I am a believer of change and am often motivated by it so hang in there if you are friends of the penguin and enjoy the journey though it could be rough for a couple of days.