Saturday, 11 November 2017

Unplanned Adventure by Pamela king

Central Station, Sydney c 1960s

It was early morning as I stood with my parents at Central Station excitedly waiting for the train to Griffith. 
It’s strange, I thought, I wonder why Mum and Dad are allowing me to do this trip on my own?

Although their decision had surprised me, I was proud they trusted me. I felt no nervousness and was excited but I did wonder what I would do for about 10 hours on the train, even with my book to read.

For about the fifth time Mum reminded me. “Now don’t forget, you don’t need to change trains, and Mr and Mrs Sutcliffe will meet you at Griffith station”.

“It will be quite an experience for you living on a sheep property in the middle of nowhere but you will have a great time with the three Sutcliffe children”, added Dad.

“I won’t forget Mum, stay on the train until Griffith.” “Yes, Dad, I am looking forward to seeing them again.”

As the train sounded its whistle we exchanged quick hugs and kisses all round, “Quickly, you better get on board!”

I settled in my seat and waved goodbye as the train pulled out. Now a little nervousness was creeping in. “Oh well, I can’t do anything about it now.” I thought to myself.

“Hello,” said the young woman sitting next to me. “My name is Carol. What’s yours?”

“Pam”. I replied shyly. “And what school do you go to?”

“I have just left primary school and start at Sydney Girls’ High this year.”

“Well that’s quite a coincidence! I have just completed my Leaving Certificate at Sydney Girls’ High.” We laughed and I asked a lot of questions about the school. Carol was also travelling to Griffith.

James and David, two brothers, a little older than Carol, were sitting opposite and overheard the us mention our destination. “We are going to Griffith too”, said James. They were very well dressed and polite. I was feeling comfortable now and sure the trip would not be boring. It wasn’t.

The train pulled into Narrandera. A conductor walked through. “All change!” We were very confused believing our journey was nonstop. We asked where the train to Griffith departed. “Platform 2, but hurry up it is about to leave.”

Struggling with our luggage we just made it up the stairs and down again in time to board.

With the luggage stowed we settled back into conversation. Only James didn’t participate. He was staring out the window with a frown on his face. “What’s up?” asked Carol.

“This train is going back to Sydney!” he exclaimed.

“No, it can’t be.” Said David. 

“I don’t care,” retorted James. We need to get off at the next station.” After checking the passing scenery, everyone agreed it was the only thing to do. 

At the next station we gathered our luggage, piled off the train and looked around for some sign of life. All we found was a small waiting room and a station sign that read: Grong Grong. Not a soul in sight. 

It was getting on for 6pm so, leaving our luggage in the shelter, we walked across the road to the one and only building with any light – the pub. At least we can get something to eat and hopefully phone the people meeting us in Griffith.

Everyone was very friendly and helpful. Just our luck it was the cook’s day off but the publican’s wife made us some sandwiches. Just as we were tucking into the these the publican came in with another man. The stationmaster!

Our new acquaintance told us there were no trains due until the morning but he would certainly ring through to Griffith for us. We traipsed back to the station wondering if we would need to get a room for the night at the hotel.

A few minutes later the stationmaster came running up carrying a lamp. He said we are in luck and we would get to Griffith about 10pm. We looked at each other. How if there were no trains?

“Hurry up, get your luggage together.” He said.

We heard a train approaching. He walked to the edge of the platform and started waving his lamp. The train pulled to a stop. It was a goods train. How is that going to help us?

“Come on.” he said. “Pick up your bags.”

Doing as we were told we grabbed our bags and followed him to the end of the long line of wagons. At the end was a small compartment that seated six people.

“In you go.” He smiled. “I’ve phoned Griffith Station and they have found the people waiting for you. You’ll be just fine now.”

It had been a long day and with the rocking of the train I soon dozed off. The next thing I hear is “Come on sleepy head. Wake up!” Mr Sutcliffe was standing there with a huge grin. 

He had driven on to Narrandera and met the train there. We piled in his car and he dropped my travel companions at the properties where they were staying then headed home.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Important Advice for Dogs – Putting Things in Perspective

If you are a dog and your human is misbehaving here is some important advice for you.

  • You should have your human fixed, even if it's a purebred human. There are too many humans, and our big cities are over populated with them to the point where we are unable to feed and shelter all of them.
  • If your human talks too much, we suggest using a shock collar.
  • If you must breed your human, even though we do not believe there are any good reasons for breeding humans, at least do genetic screening to help insure your human is a healthy one that conforms to breed standards.

  • Some humans are very hyper and will pull on their leash constantly. For these extreme cases, we recommend a choker collar.
  • If your human is aggressive and frequently starts fights, please put a muzzle on it when you take it out in public.
  • You should feed your human something better than Purina human chow.
  • If your human is sick, you should not put it down just because you can't afford the cost of surgery. You should re-arrange your budget or mortgage your dog house.
  • Don't buy a human for your puppy just to teach it responsibility.
  • You should always carry "money" treats to reward your human.  Humans love money and will do almost anything for money treats.
  • If your human attacks a dog, it should be put to sleep.
  • If you already own a male & a female human, you should be careful about getting a third human. Two males will often fight very aggressively for the attention of the female, and two females will often do the same over a male human.
  • A good way to test a human for temperament is to take its money or food away from it to see if it reacts aggressively.
  • Some humans have a bad habit of peeing in the water bowl; if your human continuously goes to the bathroom in the house, we suggest you chain it outside.

Saturday, 28 October 2017

The Importance of Research for Writers Part 1

Most people would agree that research is essential for non-fiction work. It is obvious you must have your facts straight. How much research is necessary? Is it enough just to check facts? Is it necessary for fictional work?

This is the first in a series about research for both fiction and non-fiction writers.

Any non-fiction, particularly biographical stories must hold the readers interest. 

That means building your background images as much as presenting facts and developing the personalities of the characters.

In the biography I am currently writing the lady who is the subject of the book grew up during the Great Depression and World War II. I felt it was important, for readers to understand what that was like in Australia so, I have included some additional detail of that time. That meant doing my research.

In the case of fiction, you need to give your readers clear images of time and place. Whether your story involves a particular place or time period then you need research so you paint clear and accurate word pictures

What research should you do?

Here are some points that might apply to your story.
  • Facts – Nothing stands out more than when an author gets their facts wrong. It takes away all credibility.
  • Background word images – With the plethora of photos and travel sites on the internet there is no need to visit a destination to get an idea of how it looks and feels. Travel websites are valuable in helping develop a ‘feel’ for your setting.
  • Destination history and industry - If your location has a specific historic feature or relies on a particular industry you should also be familiar with the related facts.
  • Writing sci-fi and don’t think you need to do research because it is all in your imagination? Think again many sci-fi readers are also science geeks so you better bone up on current scientific advancements, research and innovation.