Sunday, July 30, 2017

Planes and Monuments

Lake Boga is the home of the Catalinas.

At Griffith, it's all about the Firefly.

World War I lasted from 1914-1918. When it began in July 1914, everyone assumed it would be over by Christmas. Young men rushed to enlist, to join up before it was all over. It became known as "The Great War" and "The War to End All Wars" due to the vast number of countries involved and the huge devastation it caused. Nine million combatants and seven million civilians died in four short years. As I travel around Australia almost every small town has a monument to this war. Reading the names can be heartbreaking. Entire families of sons, brothers, fathers, cousins, all dead. Some little towns lost virtually every able-bodied man. And many sixteen and seventeen-year-olds pretended to be 18 so they could enlist.

Wentworth, Echuca, Berrigan.

Helen Woodall

Monday, July 24, 2017

North into the Desert

Everyone knows I like hot weather, and in winter it's not so easy to find. But the days in the desert are gloriously warm. And the nights - well they require lots of woolly blankets. But the days make up for it.

Look at that wonderful red dirt!

Far horizons.

Occasional salt lakes.

And kangaroos, emus, and goats instead of cows and sheep and people.

Then, after driving for five or six hours, without so much as a petrol pump, a bustling mining town.

Happy days.
Helen Woodall

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Locks, Weirs, Paddle Steamers

One hundred years ago, before the roads were much more than cart tracks through the dirt, supplies and people traveled the length of the Murray River by paddle steamer and barge. Due to differing water levels this meant locks and weirs were built.

This is the lock at Robinvale.

Meanwhile the river runs on, serenely beautiful.

And today's tourists enjoy trips on houseboats and paddle steamers as well as more modern water vehicles.

Helenm Woodall

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Following the Murray River

Did you ever watch the TV series "All the Rivers Run"? Or read the book by Nancy Cato on which it was based? The show was a massive success in the 1980s.

It's set on the Murray River, which is the border between Victoria and New South Wales. Back at the time of the movie life there was pretty adventurous and there is still a genuine rivalry between the states. Don't try fishing in the river with a Victorian fishing license. You need a NSW one.

My latest journey is following the river from Albury where it runs into the Hume Dam, all the way back across Victoria and NSW into South Australia.

So here are some pictures of the Hume Dam as I begin this, my latest adventure.

Helen Woodall

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Current American traditions did not exist in historical Europe!!

I’m excited to see American authors writing historical fiction. I love historical fiction but I do like it to be accurate. Or at least come with a warning that it’s a “wallpaper” story not a researched one. I have no problem with authors making up their own world based on a historical period as long as they freely admit it.

Some eras, such as the Regency and Victorian periods, have been intensely researched. Many books are written about them and authors have no excuse for getting any facts wrong. If the author does make a mistake the editor needs to tell the author to fix it before publication.

The example that started this blog was “Supper”. I have just read yet another Regency-set story where the family sat down to supper. NO THEY DID NOT! The evening meal was called “Dinner” whether it was eaten at 5p.m. (in the country) or 9p.m. (in Town). Dinner was a hot meal with several courses. Supper was a light meal, usually cold food, served at balls and the like after midnight, and children never attended such affairs. Even if a country family ate dinner at five, any supper they had would not have involved the children, who would have been sent to the nursery and would most likely be in bed. A country supper would have been at perhaps 9p.m. and it would have been a hot drink, and maybe a small serve of some cold leftovers, or some biscuits (cookies). But more likely they would have simply had a “nightcap”, an alcoholic drink, with no food, before bed.

Another mistake that really annoys me is calling a married woman in a European historical novel, Jane Smith Doe. Using a maiden name as a middle name is a strictly American tradition. If English Jane Smith married John Doe she was Jane Doe. An old family friend, much more familiar with her maiden name might say, “Jane Doe, Jane Smith that was” and people might refer to her as Jane Doe née Smith, but never never never as Jane Smith Doe.

Oh, and as the picture above indicates, there was no such thing as Thanksgiving anywhere except America until very recently indeed.

Historical authors please, do your research!

Helen Woodall