Thursday, 28 November 2013

Now accepting requests for Book Reviews

I have another blog for book reviews is  

I love reading and welcome requests from Indie authors to review their books.

If you would like more information visit my website and go to the Book Review page. You'll also find a little more about me on the website.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

A Better Way of Shopping for Food – Episode 3

Well the use of my supermarket's list of aisles made a big difference. Not only did I get everything we needed (I actually made the effort to get off my bum and check the items in the pantry this time) but it was done quickly and efficiently because the list was in the order the aisles run. Brilliant!

Then the other day I was flipping through one of my old Diabetic Living magazines and there’s an article titled "7 Healthy Tips for 7 Days". It gives tips to make meal planning easy, save you money, reduce food wastage and minimise impulse buying.

Here they are:

  1. Eat before you shop. This will reduce the temptation to buy snacks and fast food. 
  2. Be a greengrocer. Begin your shopping either at a greengrocer or in the fruit and vegie section of your supermarket. Then get more fruit and vegies from the freezer section. At the beginning of the week eat the fresh food leaving the frozen items until later in the week. 
  3. Remember fresh is always best. This doesn’t just mean fruit and vegies but also meat and poultry. 
  4. Be focused at the supermarket. After the fuit and vegies go to the meat, dairy and aisles with your other staples. By not going up and down every aisle you avoid temptation. Keep your hands on the trolley, don’t browse, grab what you need and go! 
  5. Keep food cold in transit. As summer approaches (and we’ve already had some very hot days) keep a cooler bag in the car to transport meat and dairy products. 
  6. Be budget wise. Compare prices for specials and swap ingredients. 
  7. Check use by dates. This is particularly important with items like milk products and pre-packed salads. Don’t be embarrassed to rummage to the back of the items where the freshest ones are usually placed.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

My Dingo Experience

As Tourism Manager for the Macarthur region I got to know the people and dogs at the Merigal Dingo Sanctuary (Australian Native Dog Conservation Society) in Bargo.

I became close friends with founder, Berenice Walters (known as the Dingo Lady) and through her learnt about Dingoes. I loved each and every one of these beautiful dogs but of course had my favourites.

My job involved very long hours and often a lot of stress and I would often visit the sanctuary and hour or so before closing.

After saying hello to all the Dingoes, I would spend time with each of my favourite Dingoes. They were:
  • Wattle - who hid under her rock when strangers were around but had a collection of hair accessories hidden in her cave having pulled them from my head. 
  • Her mate Paterson - who preferred the more Australian name of Patto. 

    Patto and Wattie
  • Hostie (more about Hostie later) and Romulus
  • Humpty Two and Snowqueen - the perfect home makers, their run was always cleanest and tidiest


  •  The big cuddly Harry (we were not allowed to call him ‘fat’).

And the irrepressible New Guinea Singing Dog, Kadoka.

After closing, Berenice and I would enjoy a glass of wine in the sanctuary as the sun set. The Dingoes often broke into song, if they didn’t Berenice was always able to get them started. I am blessed to have been able to experience this on many occasions and always went home revitalised.

Spending a lot of my leisure time at the sanctuary, I became confident talking about Dingoes to sanctuary visitors, bringing my favourites ones out for them to meet.

Much of my own time was spent doing promotional work for the society and the little attraction was invaluable in the promotion of Macarthur in general and Wollondilly in particular.

I was honoured to be one of the few volunteers trusted by Berenice to take a Dingo out for socialisation or promotional activities; either for the sanctuary itself or for the region’s tourism promotion.

One of my roles as tourism manager was regional co-ordination and promotion of the AussieHost customer service training program. The sanctuary had a littler of pups due and I offered to sponsor one of the pups. I spoke to Berenice about my idea of this pup being the mascot for AussieHost attending certificate presentations and other events.

Hostie at her first photo shoot
My beautiful ‘Hostie’ was socialised early; attending her first promotional photo shoot at six weeks old.

The irony of this event was that it was held in a Camden Council building previously used by the Moss Vale Pastures Protection Board; the organisation that had been responsible for the Dingo ‘control’ activities in the district.

My reasoning behind using a Dingo as a mascot for the program was twofold. Using a Dingo would draw attention to the program as well as to the sanctuary and its work.

We had been successful in taking Dingoes to a variety of local and big tourism events including the annual Toruism Expo at Darling Harbour. Their presence always drew attention to our displays. Another ironic situation was when the sanctuary received an invitation to set up a display in conjunction with the dog judging at the Sydney Royal Easter Show many years after Berenice first began to fight for recognition of the Dingo as Australia’s native dog.

But, back to Hostie. Attending promotional activities from the age of 8 weeks, she was a hit with everyone she met and very relaxed under any situation although car travel wasn’t her favourite thing.

One of the certificate presentations was to be held at the Campbelltown Catholic Club. I rang the club prior to the function and asked if I could bring a Dingo. A moment of silence came from the other end of the line, then a little giggle and “I thought you said a Dingo”.

“Um, yes, that’s what I said.”

“Oh! I don’t know I’ll have to check with the manager.” The manager came on the line and I explained that THIS dingo was the mascot for the function, extremely well behaved and socialised.

All went well until the food was served. Everyone was lined up waiting to help themselves from the buffet when Hostie decided she was the most important one there and tried to jump on the food table. I think in the end she got more to eat than anyone else because they wanted to feed her titbits.

Once, she even attended a Nationalisation ceremony for Wollondilly Shire Council and got more attention than the Mayor.

The Dingo Sanctuary rarely bred stock but did breed for other sanctuaries and zoos.

One litter was selected by western Plains Zoo, Dubbo for the new Dingo enclosure. I had spent a lot of time with these pups and had the pleasure of being at the sanctuary when their handlers came to collect them.   

Sometime later, while attending a conference in Dubbo, I contacted the handlers to see if I could visit with the pups. 

I was made very welcome by the staff and taken behind the enclosures to be let in through a back gate. To my complete delight they remembered me and all jumped all over me. It was a moment I will never forget. 
Reunited at Taronga Plains Zoo, Dubbo
Apart from having pet dogs and cats all my life, my only involvement with animals was volunteering at the RSPCA animal shelter when it was located in South Dowling St, Waterloo when I was 18. My work involved feeding and walking the dogs and answering enquiries about adoption.

I don’t remember learning anything in particular about dogs in my volunteer role but I was over the moon the first time I visited Merigal (23 years after my RSPCA days) when Berenice exclaimed excitedly; “You’re such a natural with dogs! You know exactly what to do to gain their confidence.”

As I write about this special time in my life I am working on what has become known as the Dingo Lady project. I recently met up again with Berenice’s daughter, Christine, who was also one of my staff at the Macarthur Country Tourist Association.

I had been out of touch with Chris and Berenice for some years and hadn’t heard about Berenice’s passing following a long illness. Chris was concerned about the future of her mother’s records. I jumped at the opportunity to help out and agreed to sort through all her records and manuscripts. This is also involving digitising everything so that her years of research and work will be available to future generations of researchers and students. The ultimate aim is to publish Berenice's biography. 

To date we have created a website and Facebook Page in tribute to Berenice and are about to publish one of Berenice’s manuscripts, Dora the Adorable Dingo

Berenice with her adored Dingoes


My time with the Dingoes taught me a lot about Australia’s native dog and I was very lucky to have a lot of contact and receive their love them. 

But, mostly I was honoured to have known the inspirational Berenice Walters who dedicated most of her adult life to educating people about the wonderful Dingo.