Final Wrap-up Post For the Back to the Classics Challenge By Catherine Middleton:


Well, it has been a big effort to complete the full twelve books for this Back to the Classics Challenge.

I am so happy with most of the books chosen and feel satisfied that these important books are embedded in memory.

Books which were in this category for me were:

Can you forgive her by Anthony Troolope

The African Queen by C. S. Forester

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery

True Grit by Charles Portis

Things Fall Apart by China Achebe

The Jewel in the Crown by Paul Scott

I am a Camera by John Van Druten

The Shiralee by D’Arcy Niland

A Separate Peace by John Knowles

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

Books not enjoyed were:

The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer

Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome.

Classic Comic Novel: Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome

I decided to read this book as an eBook. The University of Adelaide has a great archive of books which are out of print or out of copyright.

This was the last in the Challenge for me to read, and I was disappointed with it. It is an account of a two week boating holiday from port of Kingston to Oxford and back to Kingston. It was published in 1889, and authored by Jerome K Jerome. This was the main book of Jerome which was greatly popular. The royalties from it kept Jerome comfortable financially indefinitely. The book has inspired film versions over decades. Notwithstanding this, for me the characterisations, including of Montmorency the dog were shallow and two-dimensional; for me, the humour was stilted, repetitious of theme, and mild.
On the positive side, there were some travel descriptions of villages as they navigated the Thames.

I think that the version which I read had only a few of A. Frederics illustrations. I see there were 67 in the copy available on Amazon.

This book has really stood the test of time, and many reviewers have enjoyed it. Seems it just wasn’t for me; and joins the only other book this Challenge that I did not like, The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer.

A SEPARATE PEACE by John Knowles (A Classic Tragic Novel)

I selected “A Separate Peace” by John Knowles to read as my choice for A Classic Tragic Novel. This was one of three books which I purchased from Barnes and Noble, 7th Avenue, New York, each written by American authors. It is a coming-of-age novel first published in 1959, regarded as an American Classic, and which has been a set book for study in American schools over the years since it was published. It is set in the Summer of 1942 at a wealthy boarding school in New Hampshire.

The story focuses of a small group of boys who have a further time at school before graduating; however, enlisting looms for all of them. Gene is an introverted academic, sharing a room with the outgoing, adventurous, athletic Finny. Gene becomes jealous of Finny, unbeknownst to Finny. During a dare-devil game participate in by a group of the boys, Gene manages to cause Finny to lose balance on a high tree branch causing him to fall to the ground, instead of into the river below. The book follows the reactions of Gene, the eventual realisation by Finny and the reaction of other boys. A second accident for Finny has the ultimate consequence, with disturbance into the future for many of them. Feelings are admixed with the pervasive sentiments regarding war and peace. Finny had a separate peace.

I was pleased I read this book. I thought it captured the effect and foreboding of the War on these very young men, juxtaposed with the further imprint on them all of a stupid act born of immaturity and jealousy with tragic consequences. It was curious to me that seemingly there were no mature adults having any presence or impact on the psyches of these young men; but perhaps this is the norm for essentially teenagers to be anxious about and aspiring to their own sense of agency without adults. I felt affected by the tragedy myself.

The author, John Knowles, had himself attended Phillips Exeter Academy, on which he based the school in the novel called Devon. Knowles then spent time in the US Army Air Forces at the end of WW11 – in the novel some of the boys considered leaving school at their 17th birthday to join the Air Force, rather that wait to be drafted into the Army on finishing school. Finny was based on friend he met at a summer session, as in the novel; that friend was a friend of Robert Kennedy. Gore Vidal claims that Knowles told him that the character of Brinker was based on him.

Knowles other significant book was Peace Breaks Out, set just after the war, at the same school. but written in 1981, so long after A Separate Peace. Knowles seems to have been processing his own response to youth, camaraderie, war, peace and loss.

I was able to buy the movie of the same name in Google Play. I enjoyed the movie as well, another interpretation of the novel.

Finishing the NC500, and a dash to Oban

This was the longest single day of driving, squeezed in to make everything else fit. It included finishing travelling west to east along the top of Scotland, with John O’Groats featuring, and also, from there, being able to look across to the southern Orkneys, ancestral home to the surname Halley (Halle) with its ?Viking origins, as per Keith Halleys letter.

Then driving south down the east coast of upper Scotland, very pretty, looking out into the North Sea, detouring around Inverness to arrive by smaller roads at Drumnadrochit on Loch Ness. (Thankyou iPone GPS👍🏼). We had a peep at Urquhart Castle (the ruins of) without doing a tour.

Urquhart Castle was once one of Scotland’s largest castles. Its remains include a tower house – the most recent building on the site – that commands splendid views of the famous loch and Great Glen.

Urquhart witnessed considerable conflict throughout its 500 years as a medieval fortress and its history from the 1200s to the 1600s was particularly bloody. Following the invasion of King Edward I of England in 1296, it fell into English hands and was then reclaimed and lost again. In the 1300s it figured prominently in the Scots’ struggle for independence and came under the control of Robert the Bruce after he became King of Scots in 1306. In the 1400s and 1500s, the castle and glen were frequently raided from the west by the ambitious MacDonald Lords of the Isles.

Loch Ness felt wide and deep as we passed by its lower half, and on to Oban for the night.

We also passed through Spean Bridge, which fact re-lit my romantic recall, of Ewan Cameron, in “The Flight of the Heron”, espcaping his captivity by the English, and disappearing into the surrounding Great Glen. These parts are replete with Jacobite Rising history. General Wade of the Hanoverian army was brilliant with his road and bridge building, although his bridge over the Spean, called the High Bridge, is now in ruins.


It was wonderful arriving at the Oban Bay Hotel. I chose it because it had a full length floor to ceiling, full width, picture window looking out into Oban Bay. I remember Mum saying how beautiful it was. We had an incredible “Room with a View”, four poster bed, and lounge room. The Lismore room! named after one of the islands in the mouth of Loch Linnhe, the Island of Mull being the other large island in our viewscape.The view looked up the heart of Oban Bay with plenty of boating interest coming and going.

Downstairs, the large picture window with same view, contained bar lounge tables at which sat some older folk (with dogs allowed inside in Scotland) well dressed, locals and also groups of young people. Great way to enjoy a drink and light meal at the end of the day.


Technologies 2, and a drive along the Fife Coast

We have hired a Ford Focus, which has 6! forward gears and reverse, making for very slow starts if the gear stick is accidentally in 4 instead of 2 at intersections, and reverse occurs if you pull the gear stick UP! (our 40 year old recall was to push it DOWN!, so driving out of Edinburgh was a bit hair-raising for a few hours, especially until I pulled out the iPhone GPS. Have found that using the gps is only very slowly eating into my data allowance, so it is enormously adding to ease of getting around! Forget maps!

Also, indicators and wipers on opposite sides to our cars, so the wipers were switched on routinely going around corners for the first day…….🙄

The car also snuffed in the middle of a large roundabout. I sat with eyes closed waiting for the car to be hit from behind. W says there were a couple of cars who pulled up behind and were very patient.😖

So exciting driving over the Forth Road Bridge and Seeing The Forth Rail Bridge.

First stop stop was pulling in to the lovely beachside village of Burntisland, for a cuppa in a cafe with some elderly locals, and a walk on the beach.

We drove through Kirkcaldy, which was a small city, so no stopping – stopping is stressful, in terms of finding a park ( especially without reverse being elucidated yet), and the more built up areas being harder to negotiate.

Next stop, Buckhaven, where Granma Halley was born, with a walk around the headland, and also photographing East Wemyss, across the bay (for Meryl). Wemyss is pronounced Weems.

On to St Andrews for a walk through town, and the ruins of the old St Andrew’s Cathedral; then an icecream, and retiring to the beautul fishing village of Anstruther for the late afternoon and evening. (It doesn’t get dark till about 8:30pm.)

If it’s protected….

I have been making some posts “public” thinking it is easier for readers, and unlikely others will stumble across it; but sometimes I think there may be a question of copyright, so when in doubt, I will protect it with a password. The first email you ever received had your username and password, but simply, it is your first name by which I know you, (except one friend who additionally has the first capital initial of her surname), spelled with a Capital. Everyones PW is tammie124

all very low protection anyway……


Due to lingering jet lag and interspersing quieter days with exploring days, I have exposed myself to a good dose of American TV. Enjoying CNN News, which has wall-to-wall reporting of every detail of the Primaries, with analysis of everything that each of the two Democrat contenders and Donald Trump say, with endless discussion groups following. We had determined some weeks ago to follow the primaries and the runup to the Election previously by watching the ABC’s weekly Planet America ( excellent wrap on the weeks political events in the US with great American and Australian interviewees).

Checked out Fox News briefly but seemed fairly biased to the Right on various issues, like Trump’s foray into the Abortion Issue, and not removing the “Nukes in Europe” card from the table!!……..afraid I am already biased against anything owned by Rupert Murdoch (admission: though, have succumbed to digital Australian, to keep up while away). His inherited money has launched him into such awful influence in the politics of countries. I have been thus biased since reading Hack Attack, especially about phone hacking in Britain.

The other channel I am watching is Forensic Files…….endless true life reporting of crime (murder) investigation and justice. The crimes seem to be older, often occurring in late 90s. Good fun!

Highly recommended to me yesterday was an ebook about genetic history and migration flow which has produced the Scots, which I am now reading. The Scots: A genetic journey, a very easy fascinating read.

We have a huge length of IT wires and gadgets with us. W doing a lot of photography of conference peoples, and using his laptop to photoshop and send on. I have worked out how to get my photos from the Sony Bridge Camera into my ipad (needs a Camera Connection Kit and a powered hub to achieve), and then available for WordPress play and also uploading to Flickr for safekeeping and viewing. The iOs Photos and Flickr uploaders are awful and erratic. Now having success with CameraSync App. Happy now.

Another Cable Car Journey tomorrow to Lombard Street, The Crookedest Street in the world…….

Dinner Thursday 31 Mar

We booked the Kin Khao Restaurant from Brisbane before leaving. It is situated in the hotel complex, meaning no distance walking for the 79 year old in our group, as well as being W’s favorite Asian/Thai food. It scored 250 out of San Francisco’s 4,380 restaurants, which seemed pretty good.

Pre-dinner drinks was also situated at the hotel’s Cable 55 Bar. The view from two huge picture windows over/into the street adjacent is mesmerizing, with classic San Fran street lamps framing…..

Homes in the West

Westering Home
“Westering Home” was written by Hugh S. Roberton, a Glaswegian, composer and  Britain’s leading choir-master for fifty years, in the 1920s. It runs as follows:


Westering home, and a song in the air,
Light in the eye and it’s goodbye to care.
Laughter o’ love, and a welcoming there,
Isle of my heart, my own one.

Verse 1
Tell me o’ lands o’ the Orient gay,
Speak o’ the riches and joys o’ Cathay;
Eh, but it’s grand to be wakin’ ilk day
To find yourself nearer to Islay.

Verse 2
Where are the folk like the folk o’ the west?
Canty and couthy and kindly, the best.
There I would hie me and there I would rest

At hame wi’ my ain folk in Islay.
(Ilk means each. Canty means neat or trim. Couthy means homely, simple, unpretentious. Islay is pronounced “Isla”.)


We will be catching the Calmac ferry from Kennacraigh to Port Ellen on the Isle of Islay, and staying for two nights at Iskernish. Cannot wait to meet the canty and couthy and kindly folk there……

In 1992, I moved to my home at 9 Cribb St, Sadliers Crossing in Ipswich, staying for the next eight years. It was a lovely old place with beautiful Huon pine floor boards, providing a warm secure “couthy” home. I was immediately taken with the fact that the house had a name and a name plate on the front verandah……”Westhaven”, a safe place in the west! Auntie Lawrie lived 10 minutes away (such a sweet carer for Tom on a couple of occasions when he was unwell and couldn’t go to school). Mum (Anne), for many of those years would drive westering to us, cook a weekly roast, do some house-work, and polish the brass front door-knob and knocker. She certainly loved a home with those appointments. She had lovingly kept the knob, knocker and brass bell at Clayfield for some 45 years.

The other nearby home in that West was Raith[1] at 34 Roderick Street. This name is clearly associated with Kirkcaldy, both historically, as below; but also now – it has been the home of the Raith Rovers football team for over a hundred years. I wonder why exactly Susan and George chose that name for their house. Perhaps it was a relatively common house name in Scotland, based on the old Gaelic meaning, a small fortress. It was very “couthy”, as can still be perceived from photos which J and M took a couple of years ago. Looking at them is immediately transporting back 50+ years.

House description in the Ipswich historical walk guide
House description in the Ipswich historical walk guide

34 Roderick Street
34 Roderick Street

Granma Halley. I remember when this was taken with the getting and placing of Uncle John's orchid....
Granma Halley. I remember when this was taken with the getting and placing of Uncle John’s orchid….

Granma Halley, Carol Robyn and Mrs Sellars at the house front steps
Granma Halley, Carol Robyn and Mrs Sellars at the house front steps

Susan with three daughters and babies. in the lounge room...? christening day
Susan with three daughters and babies. in the lounge room… christening day

Extended family in the back yard
Extended family in the back yard, minus Cathy who doggedly refused to comply and is just off camera to the left!

The Back
The Back, J and B

The side....intense for playing chasy...
The side….intense for playing chasy…

Stairs to the underuse, mainly used by me with others for secret inpections of Uncle John's magazine room....
Stairs to the underhouse, mainly used by me (with others) for secret inspections of Uncle John’s magazine room….

Remember trailing up and down this hallway, often behing Granma or Mum...
Remember trailing up and down this hallway, often behind Granma or Mum…

Fantastic sized kitchen, still recognizable inpite of the loss of the original personality...
Fantastic sized kitchen, still recognizable inspite of the depersonalization

256. 34 Roderick Street24 252. 34 Roderick Street20

Enviable, now neglected linen cupboard
Enviable, now neglected linen cupboard

Me on the verandah at "Westhaven". Very couthy!!!
Me on the verandah at “Westhaven”. Very couthy!!!

No apologies for The Corries again, they were the best. In fact, there will be more..

[1] Raith (Scottish Gaelic: rath, “fort” or “fortified residence”) was an area once stretched from south of Loch Gelly as far as Kirkcaldy and the Battle of Raith is said to have been fought here in 596 AD. Raith House and Raith Tower sit on Cormie Hill to the west of Kirkcaldy and several parts of the town are built on land formerly of the Raith Estate, although the modern housing estate bearing the Raith name dates from long after the origins of the team.