Lily’s Wish Book Review

I thank Dixie Minor, who wrote this excellent review, so am trying to reblog her post! I’ve forgotten how already.Her blog can be found at:

Lily’s Wish
Lily’s Wish is a beautiful, whimsical Christmas book that celebrates the special love between children and grandparents. The story features Lily, a small child who wants to fly. At first, we, as readers don’t know the reason Lily wants so badly to be able to fly. But then she writes a letter to Santa Claus, and the wish seems to take wings of its own.
The author, Barbara Pyett, has written a heartwarming story that weaves together the magical moments of Christmas with a very real love that exists all year long: the love of Lily for her grandmother. The book is sure to please children as well as their parents and grandparents, perhaps especially grandparents who do not live close to their grandchildren.
The illustrations, by Serena Geddes, are lovely. Children will be delighted to follow the story through pictures and discover the wonderful surprise that is revealed near the end of the book.
This book will enhance special book-sharing time around the holidays, both for children and for those of us who are still children at heart, especially at Christmas.

The book can be purchased from


Life has become very exciting. My beloved had an article written about himself and his work by Andrea Louise Thomas for a Mornington Peninsula paper called ‘Mint.’ This young woman, a poet, came into our lives like a hurricane. After much talk, we were encouraged to see the play, ‘Hamlet’, directed by Damien Ryan for the Bell Shakespeare Company. A really fresh approach was taken as a modern day thriller, with modern dress and a simple but magnificent set. This brought back memories of my student days.

Thursday I joined a Writing Skills workshop from 9.15-2.30 in Sandringham, an hour from where we live. The tutor, Claire Gaskin, is also a poet. Her class is inspirational. The group is full of keen writers of different genres, all willing to help one another. I had taken the first couple of chapters of my book, and with their input, I’m totally rewriting it! Besides rewriting, there is homework. Five questions, and then a 500-word short story. So this ten-week course is certainly helping me to refresh my ideas.

Thursday night we went to hear Rosie Batty, Australian of the Year, talk with Jon Faine, an ABC radio personality, in Mornington. Rosie was launching her book, ‘A Mother’s Story’, which I have read. It is inspiring to read and hear how she overcame so much and is continuing to work bringing family violence to the fore. Laws need to be changed and much has begun to change already.

Friday night Christopher had his painting in the Salon des Refuse´s, opening in Mornington. It was a big crowd and Rosie Batty opened the exhibition.

Mornington Gallery Photo: Susan Gordon-Brown

Mornington Gallery
Photo: Susan Gordon-Brown

This is the piece that I wrote for my writing class that had to start with, ‘And we’d been so clever,’ that links into the story above.

And we’d been so clever sitting in the second row, out of the limelight. The woman in the front row turned around and denounced my husband’s painting. ‘It’s a terrible painting. I ‘m familiar with Rosie Batty and that’s not her, she is such a strong woman. It’s a complete dirge, just look at it!’

My husband said, ‘That’s an old word.’

‘Yes, I’ve an understanding of words and I’m prepared to use them.’

My husband eggs her on some more,

‘Yes, she wears black glasses and here she’s wearing really light ones.’

The woman finding a ready audience really steamed ahead.

The speeches started and very soon Christopher is pointed out as the artist of the Rosie painting. The redness rose from her neck to her hairline in total embarrassment. She turned around to apologise at the end of the speeches, and Chris dismissed her, saying,

‘Don’t bother, I’m used to it,’ and walked off. It made our night seeing this haughty woman squirm.

Barbara, Christopher Pyett and Rosie Batty Mornington Gallery photo: Susan Gordon- Brown

Barbara, Christopher Pyett and Rosie Batty at Mornington Gallery with Rosie’s portrait
photo: Susan Gordon- Brown

The painting looks very light and doesn’t photograph well, but it has some amazing detail if closely examined. Chris found it a deeply spiritual experience painting Rosie.

This shall be my last post for some time. I have been having computer problems, and continue to have them. So I’m going to have to learn to use a new laptop. I am not sure if the number of e-mails has been choking my computer, so I am cutting off for the present. I shall miss you all, but am sure one day I’ll get this computer business sorted out.

Thank you all for being my friends from afar and I wish you all well with your writing and blogging. Adieu for the present!


Waterhouse Island for sale:

The above article shows pictures of Waterhouse Island, off the Northern coast of Tasmania. My brother, Clive, saw an add for this island back in the 1970s and determined to buy it. My father and brother, Nigel, plus a cousin, Rod, and some friends were roped into the project. Clive and Dad were the ones who maintained the property, keeping sheep to pay off the island. They spent many years planting trees and won a Greening Australia award for their efforts. The fairy penguins and Cape Baron geese claim it as their own. Chris and I share some wonderful memories of staying at this peaceful sanctuary.

‘Getting the Wool off’ Eric Pyett © 1981, is a short story I published on my blog some time ago, written by my father in law, describing the other- worldliness of Waterhouse Island. I’d love you to read it.  For those who missed it, here here is the full post:

When Chris’ parents died, we went through the house before putting it up for sale. We thought we’d finished when I discovered a high cupboard, above the linen cupboard, boxes stuffed full of papers. My first thought was to toss the lot. On reflection and some perusal we discovered Chris’ father had written stories, (unbeknown to us). He had completed courses in mathematics, English literature and philosophy. He was a quiet achiever.

Eric’s quiet, unassuming nature brought him close to my father, as he was a similar character. This short story describes my father, Frank, who was part owner of Waterhouse Island. Tom is Eric. He has encapsulated their characters perfectly. I hope you enjoy his short story:

‘Getting the Wool off’

Reg circled the grassy strip, noting the wind direction, and the sheer drop at the windward end of the runway where the level plateau fell abruptly two hundred feet to the sea. In this breeze, it will be like taking off from the deck of a carrier, he thought.

He circled again for another look, losing height, and searching for hidden fence-wires, or rocks buried in the long billowing grass. Reasonably satisfied, he made a wide banking turn over the island and came in to land at stalling speed. The wheels touched, and the aircraft ran along for a short distance over the bumpy ground before coming to a halt near a stack of up-ended bales of wool, where two men stood waiting.

Reg cut the motors and climbed out.

‘Morning, Frank. Morning, Tom.’ He called. ‘We’ve a nice fine day for it. Good fresh breeze along the strip. What d’you reckon, twenty knots?’

The two men walked over to meet him. Frank, tall and rangy, in a checked shirt and stained khaki pants, a striped woolen hat on his head; Tom, shorter and more stocky, wearing khaki overalls and a black beret.

‘Morning, Reg. Yes, it’s a good day for it. Wind’s in the right quarter and, yes, I suppose it would be about twenty knots.’ Frank studied the short, white-capped waves and the distant shore. ‘Yes, about twenty knots, I’d say.’

‘I saw you looking at the strip, Reg, Tom said. I’ve been over it pretty carefully and filled up all the holes.’

‘Yes, but it’s old fences and bits of wire hidden in the grass that bother me most. They’re inclined to get foul of the wheels, or flick up and hit a prop. But it looks pretty right to me, it’s clear of sheep, anyway,’ Reg chuckled. I nearly landed on top of a sheep once,’ he laughed, ‘it ran the wrong way. I don’t know who got the bigger fright, him or me.’ He squatted down on his heels against the bales, prepared for a yarn. But Frank, who was paying the bills, headed him off.

‘Well, we’d better get on with it, I suppose,’ he said. ‘How many can she lift each trip, Reg? We’ve got seventy-eight all told.’

Reg got to his feet, chewing a stalk of grass, and glanced at the stack of bales.

‘Oh, she’ll lift far more than you can squeeze into her,’ he said. ‘I reckon about four bales will pull you up, but we’ll soon see.’ He opened the big side door of the plane, and hooked it back. All the seats had been removed, except the pilot’s seat, but the space inside seemed very small. They rolled the bales over and lifted one through the doorway.

‘Up in front with this one, ’said Reg. He sunk his hook into the bale and stood it up on end, behind the pilot’s seat. ‘Now another one behind her.’ They lifted another bale through the doorway and stood it up behind the first one. Then another, lying flat on the sloping space in the tail. Then one more, standing up inside the doorway, and the plane was full. Reg was already in his seat, fastening his belt, as the two men closed the door. He glanced around to see that they were clear. Then the motors coughed into life, and the plane swung round and taxied back along the strip.

Reg turned the plane into the wind and revved up the motors, flattening the long grass. He released the brakes and the plane bounded forward, rapidly gaining speed. Half way down the strip they were airborne and climbing. He roared low over the stack of bales and the two watching men, then, catching the up-draught from the cliffs at the end of the strip, he leveled-off for the short trip across the water to the landing strip on the mainland, about ten miles away. The men watched the plane disappearing into the distance.

‘He used only half the strip,’ Frank said. ‘I bet he’ll cut his run much shorter next time.’

‘Yes, He’d no problem getting off in this strong breeze,’ Tom agreed. They sat on the grass in the lee of the up-turned bales. In front of them the island sloped away gently for about a mile, to a low rocky beach on the western side. Beyond that the blue sea, flecked with little white-caps, reached out to the empty horizon. Only to the southward was the sharp division between the sea and the sky interrupted. Here, across the channel, the coastal dunes and scrub hid the farmlands, which spread to the smoke blue ranges beyond.

Tom turned his head listening.

‘He’s coming back, Frank. I can hear him.’ They watched the tiny black spot in the sky growing larger, until the plane banked steeply and dropped down to land two hundred yards away. Moments later it stopped beside the stack of bales, and Reg jumped out.

‘Sixteen minutes for the round trip,’ he said. ‘We can get that down to fifteen this time, I reckon.’ He climbed back into the plane to help stow the first bales. Then, as the last two went in he got back into his seat and fastened his belt. Tom locked the door and stood clear as the motors roared.

This time Reg taxied only half way along the strip before swinging the plane into the wind and pouring on the power. The wheels left the ground as the plane raced past the two men sitting on the stack of bales, and it had gained twenty-five feet of height before crossing the cliff edge and lifting on the up-draught. Reg levelled-off at three hundred feet, singing quietly to himself. It wasn’t really like a carrier take-off, he had to admit. How could it be, in a fifteen-year-old Norman Islander with a belly –full of wool and a top speed of 150 knots? Yet some of the old thrill still remained. It was good to be still flying, and in his own plane too. He sighted the farm buildings, and the landing –strip beyond, with the truck waiting for the wool. A few moments later he commenced his descent.

Back to the island the two men lounged on the bales. Above them the sky was a vast empty dome of cloudless blue. They were watching a skylark which had risen from the grass nearby, and was gradually ascending into the clear air in effortless, soaring flight, singing and trilling in sheer joy.


End of September


Frankston Beach, Victoria, Australia

Frankston Beach, Victoria, Australia

Out the study window

Out the study window with bird’s nest ferns in the foreground.

Tomorrow October starts and day light saving begins on Sunday. Our weather has been beautifully cool, but a hot weekend is forecast. It is perfect weather for writing, but everything else seems to be getting in the way. We received a marvellous short story this morning, written by a friend from art school, all of those years ago. He writes with such humour, I’m hoping he’ll let me share it with you. I’d love to be able to write like him. Chris Fooks, the author of this piece, now lives in Scotland. What a small world we live in.


Family Film: Oddball (G) Directed by Stuart McDonald

This Australian movie based on a true story was released in September this year and will appeal to every dog lover. Shane Jacobson plays a chicken farmer, Alan Swampy Marsh, and along with his dog, Oddball, his grand daughter, they bring this Australian drama to life. It is the compelling story of how Oddball, a Maremma dog is trained with a fairy penguin. There is a fight to save a fairy penguin colony from foxes and big business on an island off the Victorian coast, near Warnambool.

The good news is that the fairy penguin colony has grown; after getting down to 10, it has since increased to 150.

This feel good movie is full of kindness and I am responding to it by recommending it to you!

Pay It Forward, daily post by Ben Huberman

Tell us about a time when you responded to an act of kindness with one of your own.