A Childhood Memory Rediscovered

My Memory

My memory may not be accurate…

Have you ever recalled the memory of somewhere you went as a child but can’t remember exactly where it is or even the context of the visit? All you know is that it was a special, magical place where you had all sorts of great adventures. I have a few of those. For me one memory in particular was of a little stream and a waterfall and a stone pathway with three stone bridges making a figure 8 around the stream. I remember lush green ferns all around and steep moss-covered rocky slopes reaching high up on either side. My parents took me there when I was young and I loved running around the stone paths, over the bridges, imagining being chased by magical creatures, although the details are lost in the distant memories.

I thought I remembered it being in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne and always felt that if I ever wanted a little nostalgia I could always go back there to see it and relive those memories. I wasn’t in a hurry. Recently I had the opportunity to go there again without too much trouble. The Botanic Gardens always had helpful signs to direct visitors around the maze of paths that meandered around all the lovely lawns and gardens that were paradise for flora fans from all around. I quickly found the direction to the fern gully and made my way there, enthusiastically looking forward to seeing that childhood memory brought back to life again.

Wrong Fern Gully

Vaguely familiar but no cigar.

Disappointment. It was unrecognisable. Yes there were ferns and yes there was a small stream flowing alongside the cheap looking rubbery bitumen path. Was it the same place? Had it been completely redeveloped with barely a meagre budget? After all, it was forty-odd years ago and I accept that my memory may have been distorted by time and fantasy.

I reflected on a few other childhood memories and how my rediscovery of those were more than accurate.

While in kindergarten (aged about 4) we went on an exciting excursion on a double decker London bus to an apparently nearby park. I remember the park quite clearly. Gravel car-park, huge oak tree on the left, wide open grass area beyond a small playground. For decades I couldn’t for the life of me remember where that was. It was only one day several years ago I happened to glance backwards while driving down a highway (probably a head check for a lane change) not 5 KMs from where I grew up, a road I’d driven a million times in my life, and recognised it instantly. I had never been to that park since that day in pre-school and it hadn’t changed a bit. All it took was a glance from the right vantage point to trigger the memory.


Actually, the oak tree is on the right and a line of pine trees are on the left. And it appears as though part of the driveway may have been sealed since last visit. Or maybe I never noticed it!

I had a similar experience with another park I visited with an aunt and cousins. The park contained a yellow building with a kiosk, a steam train ride and a lake. I would have been about three years old, I think and it was years later I realised it was Emerald Lake Park, the destination of Puffing Billy.

So is it possible that my memory of the Botanic Gardens fern gully was that wrong? I wasn’t convinced but I was sure it was in the Botanic Gardens. Time was limited so I had to try to find another opportunity to visit. I think I tried again at least five times, scouring the place for this mysterious lost fern gully with the waterfall and stone pathways. I was tempted to ask one of the groundsmen if they knew of it or if it had been redeveloped. But most of them looked like they hadn’t been born when I was there last.


The waterfalls beyond one of the stone bridges.

Then one day, Eureka! I walked through the gardens and decided to take the long way back around the north-west entrance and there it was! Technically outside the Botanic Gardens but unmistakable, it was at the northern end of Government House between it and Alexandra Avenue. Naturally I went wild with my camera in case it disappeared from the earth again like it almost did for me once before.


Stone pathways and bridges

Melbourne: The Lilydale To Warburton Rail Trail

Richard Leonard:

Love this trail. Very familiar territory!

Originally posted on I Don't Have The Map:

This is the world’s most liveable city. I don’t think it’s achieved such an accolade on so many occasions because people love to stay indoors and keep their tiny white box of an apartment clean. The theory is that having already spent the best part of twelve months here, I should know when the big, unmissable events are. For example, the Great Australasian Beer Spectapular, missed last year due to the regional work requirements, will absolutely not be missed this year. White Night, on the other hand, will be as I’ll be across the ditch when this takes place early next year. What I need to focus on now, is branching out, looking into the smaller, less known, largely unheard of happenings in and around the city. Should be pretty easy, don’t you think? Just a couple of weeks ago Elena and I went out to Brunswick to watch the…

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One Week to go and the Slackness Continues

As I mentioned last at the end of August, I’m doing the 100km Around the Bay in a Day ride next Sunday to raise funds for the Smith Family and help disadvantaged children in Australia. I’ve been slack. Slack with training, slack with the fund-raising. I feel bad because I haven’t had created the opportunity to do more. I’ve actually been really busy with work and distracted by health issues of other family members, hence the lack of blog posts, too.

Anyway, to at least partially make amends for my recent lack of fund-raising efforts I post this because there is only one week to go. Please help the kiddies if you can. You can also click that helmeted head over there on the hill to the left for the fund-raising page.

Thank you!

Anagrams in Novels – Clever or Cringeworthy?

I’m really bad with picking up anagrams.

I recently realised that the name of a famous ebook reading device is an anagram of “book”. (That’s the Kobo, in case you’re worse at it than me.)

And it was only this year, 11 years after the last instalment of The Matrix Trilogy was released, when I realised that for three movies of NEO trying to work out if he is the ONE… you see? And that was only after someone pointed it out to me.

A good example of an accurate anagram. Credit: Paul at Unreality Magazine

A good example of an accurate anagram. Credit: Paul at Unreality Magazine

We sometimes see anagrams used in books and movies and TV shows, maybe in detective mysteries where the culprit leaves an anagram as cryptic clue to tease the police. Or a character might use an anagram of his name as an alias.

A recent famous anagram is “Tom Marvolo Riddle” = “I Am Lord Voldemort” in the book called you-know-what written by you-know-who.

I always felt the “I am” part of that anagram made it looked forced and contrived. If it was a compete name that was an anagram of just “Lord Voldemort” I would have found it far more powerful. I get the feeling JK was struggling to make the anagram thing fit with Lord Voldemort. The “I am” prefix could perhaps be defended by Tom Riddle’s desire to not just create a name, but an association of the name with himself if he were to announce it to a town square full of fearful witches and wizards, just as he did to a lone Harry in the Chamber of Secrets. I can’t remember if there was any reference of him making such an appearance to the wizarding world. Still, the “I am” could still have been used separately with the anagram proper.

Anyway, this leads me to my question. Questions.

  • Should we use/avoid using anagrams in our fiction?
  • How far should we push it if it isn’t working?
  • Are they just a cliché or a gimmick that makes the reader groan?
  • Are they more trouble than they are worth?
  • Or can they be powerful elements that enhance a story?

Have you tried to use anagrams in your fiction? If so, how did you use them and how well did it work?


Boook Review: Ignite by Lily Paradis

Ignite - Lily Paradis

Ignite by Lily Paradis, released on August 26 this year, is a Young Adult novel best described by the blurb:

After her father’s untimely demise in a mining accident and her mother’s abandonment, Lauren Lindsay is no stranger to loss. She’s used to living life for one person: herself. That is, until another family tragedy thrusts three children into her care and uproots her life in ways she could never imagine.

Lauren’s first instinct is to run, until she meets their striking, mysterious neighbor Dean Powell. Their immediate chemistry and his connection with her late father just might be enough to keep her in town long enough to uncover pieces of her past that she never had answers to. Dean’s shady past and her reluctance to trust him could cost her the life she’s always been searching for, but will she run back to her old life?

Or will she choose to stay and live the life her father always imagined for her?

I received an Advance Review Copy (ARC) of Ignite and didn’t read the blurb before I read the novel so everything was a surprise for me. For a début novel, Ms Paradis has done remarkably well. Ignite ticks all the boxes for a YA novel, although in my opinion it probably has a PG rating rather than an M, if that’s what you are expecting. I enjoyed it more than I expected, given the genre.

It contains all the elements of a great young adult story. Romance, action, man-candy for the girls, near death experiences, the list goes on. Told in the first person from Lauren’s point of view, it shows the internal conflict she experiences when faced with her new responsibilities, her self-doubt and her battle with the distraction that is the hunky Dean Powell. The characters of various ages mostly come across as quite realistic in their respective behaviours, especially the teens, however, I felt the older adult characters seemed a little under-developed.

The significant romance element of the novel does stretch the actions of Dean a little toward the bounds of believability. At times he comes across as a little too polished and perfect. Having said that, the story focussed on Lauren’s perspective of Dean and her inherited family, and given the intended genre and audience these points may be forgiven.

Overall, Dean’s “perfectness” is kept in check by the relationships and motivations of the characters which, by the end, will reveal themselves to be a good tie-up of most loose ends. There were enough unanswered questions about Lauren’s family to leave the reader hoping for more in the planned sequel.

Generally I enjoyed Ignite and I’m willing to bet many young ladies will also love  reading the story of Lauren Lindsay and her new relationships with her step siblings, and of course, the almost to good to be true Dean Powell.

I give Ignite by Lily Paradis 3.5 stars. Call it 4.

Ignite by Lily Paradis can be found in ebook and paperback editions on Amazon and Goodreads. Lily’s Website can be found at www.lilyparadis.com.

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Help Stop the Ivory Trade

Richard Leonard:

Killing an individual is one thing. Killing off an entire species, a vital cog in a complex ecosystem… I have no words. Very sad. And all because the ecosystem we are part of takes a backseat to the economy.

Originally posted on 4am Writer:

The illegal ivory trade has decimated the elephant population. Elephants are on the brink of extinction. Please help save them. Every 15 minutes, an elephant is killed for its tusks. At that rate, elephants will be extinct in the wild in about 10 years.

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Around the Bay in a Day

Every year Melbourne hosts the Around the Bay in a Day charity cycling event. This year it’s on Sunday the 19th of October.

The charity is the Smith Family, who help support disadvantaged Australian children.

The Bay I speak of is Melbourne’s Port Phillip Bay, with a coastline of more than 250 km and 35 times the surface area of Sydney Harbour, is what 15,000 keen cyclists ride around to raise money for charity. And the pure enjoyment of riding a bike. But mainly for the charity. And bragging rights. Because it’s a huge achievement to successfully ride that sort of distance in one day.

But I won’t be doing 250km. I’ve signed up for one of the 100km rides instead. Partly because of the logistics of getting to the start location that early in the morning, partly because I’m not fit enough to ride 250+ kms, and partly because a work colleague coaxed me into doing it because it’s his first time.

I’ve set up my Fund-raising page where people can donate if they wish. If the joy you would receive from helping a disadvantaged child is not enough incentive to donate, I’ve added the chance for you to laugh at me instead. You see, I’ve never worn those silly lycra cycling nicks in my life. I see no need for them and they look silly, in my opinion. However, if my donation total reaches $1,000 before the big day, I will actually wear some lycra shorts and post photos of the hideously unattractive sight.

Thank you.