The Forbidden History of Terrible Taxes

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Here’s a dose of libertarian thought for the common man. Or woman. Or child.  AND it’s Australian (Hello Aussie homeschoolers!! Great resource here!)

If you go to  you can also watch The Forbidden History of Unpopular People: an engaging introduction to the value of free speech.  Now if THIS kind of stuff ever made it to the national curriculum, well… I’d eat my hat. 😛


Enjoy! 😀


P.S… There is, restless readers, a real blog post coming.  But this was too good to not post




Hairdos, History, and St Helena Island


Hello Bloggy friends!

I have much to tell you.  HEAPS to tell you.  But the worst of it is that when we have a lot of adventures, there is little time to blog about them.

Here’s a quick peek at this weekend’s activities..

Off to a ball Friday night…

A couple of hours sleep, and it was time for the Abbey Tournament!  If you haven’t been to a medieval fair….go!  There is jousting, sword fighting, birds of prey, Turkish oil wrestling (yes! 😛 ), and.. and… one of the joys of my life.. a furrier!  I thought that nothing in the world could be softer than the beaver pelt I became attached to last time we went.  But!  When dragging a bunch of friends there today to see why beaver fur is a great passion of mine, one of my friends had the sense to ask the lady stall holder if there is anything softer.

Oh.  Friends.  I want a chinchilla.  I want a warm, live one to love and stroke, and conversely I’d like a bundle of them to wear. 😀

And because history is irresistible fun for us..  we recently went to St Helena Island.  If you are studying Australian History and you live in SE Qld, this is a great excursion.  Truly, this deserves a post all its own, but you may all have finished homeschooling before I get to it.  Have a look at Brisbane Bay Tours.  Brendan (the proprietor)  is very friendly, will transport you to the island,  provide a guided tour and a yummy lunch, and take you back all happy and exhausted.

You’ll see prison ruins..

There were wallabies about the ruins.. cute!

There is also a museum.

And.. one of the extra fun activities was feeding the fish at the end of the jetty before going home. The water is crystal clear, and we saw a couple of stingrays on the walk back to the boat, and some days you can see sharks.

And the good news? Brendan will offer a discount to homeschooling groups/families if you book during the quieter midweek time.  Sweet? Yes! Oh, and I must say: wear comfy shoes for walking. And the kind of clothes that are sensible for getting on and off boats. Just saying…  😉

That’s it for now folks. 😀

The Bright Side



Bloggy friends..  I have many things to tell you!


Does anyone recall (ahem!) me mentioning in a previous post that I have the best bloggy friends in the world?  You may…. vaguely asserting such a thing?


It’s true! 😀


Last week I had the enchanting, amusing, charming experience of meeting Mr Richard Stevens. Richard is associated with the dainty Rustique Rose tea room at Laidley, the scene of one of our adventures last year.

What’s so special about Mr Stevens?  Well!  Apart from the pleasure of listening to his well modulated voice, (though we couldn’t convince him to sing for us!), and apart from his wit and sparkling conversation, Mr Stevens came bearing gifts.

The image above is from an autograph book of  a young lady attending teachers college in (British colonised) India in the early 1900’s, and was one of the treasures Mr Stevens has left in my charge.  Among other things was a scrapbook of collected “pretty” things – poems, cards, pictures etc.

But by far the most exciting discovery for me was the following pages..






The first time I read about the funeral for the “Unknown Soldier”, I cried.  I, generally something of a stoic, wept at the thought of the collective pain of the families whose menfolk were left on foreign fields, but more so at the astounding beauty and mercy of the idea of a state funeral that could be, for each person attending,  in honour of their lost.


Imagine my wonder at finding newspaper clippings on just that very subject among the collections of  fancy dress plates and society pictures the young lady had pasted into her book.  My very own source of primary history on a subject dear to my heart!


And because all the joyful happenings of my life seem to come in bundles, just a day later I met with another bloggy friend, who also came bearing gifts!


Super Secret Agent Chicken Little (alias, Heidi:  some of you may remember Heidi? 😀 ) came with her family to visit ours!  After staying at her house, swapping all sorts of interesting things through the mail, and having her as part of my blogging community for some years, I can finally report that she is real.  Yes, folks, Heidi is no longer an invisible friend.  😉

And in a conspiracy that only girls with pluck would attempt, we managed to surprise Mr BB and the Chicklettes with … four chickens! 😀   Have I mentioned Mr BB likes surprises?  He (cough!) certainly looked surprised.

I really like chickens. 😀


Here’s one being adored by Miss 9.


It’s a joyful business meeting up with special people.

I am very blessed!




Royal Spring Garden Party and Grand Ball



Hello Bloggy friends!

I’ve asserted over and over that I have the best bloggy friends in the world.  That’s indisputable. But I have mentioned that my IRL friends are among the sweetest God ever made?


Two of that number laboured tirelessly (and ceaselessly! and creatively!) for weeks to make this season’s ball spectacular.  Here is a sample of the day…


At 3pm guests arrived at Windermere Estate – five acres of the most beautiful gardens you can imagine, designed by a lady with an eye for the aesthetic.  Afternoon tea, introductions and the distribution of programs followed.


Of course, some poor little girls didn’t have much chance of afternoon tea.  They looked pretty, it was a beautiful garden, and their cousins were there.. so.. circumstances kind of begged me to drag them off for photos…

At 3:30pm the ladies and gentlemen divided company for a talk on etiquette.  We thereafter wore the social restraints of the era as well as the clothes.  😀

4pm found all in preparation for the Royal Tournament, and this involved a waltz. How those two things related is as much a mystery for me as for you, as I was driving my little people  home to Grandma’s and missed this part.  However I came back in time to catch part of the waltz, and I have to share one of my favourite photos of the day with you..

The composition is not ideal – it was shoot it where I was standing when I saw it or miss out, but I love the light, and the expression on the Chicklette’s face.

Next – The Royal Tournament.  See the squares on the ground in the photo above?  I can’t explain the rules of the game, but it was in part a game of Living Chess.  It involved a great deal of sword play and hilarity, the result of which was Mr BB being put to the sword (see below), and a young Knight winning the hand of the Chicklette, and the two of them being crowned as a result.

At 6pm it was time for high tea.  We sang the Selkirk grace in rounds, no less! (did I mention the MC of the evening was a conductor?)

As evening fell, it was.. freezing.  At this time of year one might expect to have been perishingly hot in formal evening wear. But it could easily have passed for August:  the wind was sufficiently gusty to blow over the marquees! Picnic blankets, spare jumpers, and rugs began to appear..

Have you ever read the Ukrainian folk tale, “The Mitten”?  I couldn’t help thinking of it when two girls huddled under a picnic blanket, and then they admitted another, and another, and another…

It was easier to bear the cold when the dancing began.


Supper was served at 9pm, followed by more dancing, and at midnight a Finale March, and then all gathered to sing a farewell anthem.


Friends, it was enormous fun.  Imagine having darling friends who would work so hard to produce such an evening for you.  I am blessed indeed.


Off the Shelf


Hello Bloggy friends!


You’d never, in a million years, guess what I’ve just come from doing.  But… more on that later.

I’ve lost myself in books this last month.

Under the Hawthorn Tree  is a book for children about the Irish potato famine.  


It was not outstanding by any means, though a reasonable and gentle introduction to the Irish plight.  The author cannily avoids alienating half of her perspective readership by giving the Catholic/Protestant issue the very mildest of winks in perhaps one or two sentences.


More informative, and no less readable despite being non-fiction, is Black Potatoes.


Included are accounts of family histories and news reporting of the time.  Generously illustrated, it gave plenty of information about the period, without sacrificing a surprisingly  homey,  story-telling feel.  Possibly the thing I liked best was that it kept us thinking and discussing for some time after finishing it.


Next, and purely for pleasure, though it would easily fit your history program if you are looking for something dashing to read about Edmund Ironside, Alfgar the Dane was no hardship, once you pass the first few pages.


I’ve also whipped through The Lantern Bearers, Dawn Wind, and Frontier Wolf by Rosemary Sutcliff.  Of course they were good.  They cover Rome’s abandonment of Britain, and her sneaky re-entry via religion.  Well worth reading!


And something surprisingly girly for me; no vikings, no sword play, no pirates, or wars…


My delightful friend, Mrs Fivepeas, bought this gorgeous book for me. It has the cutest ideas!  One of my favourites is a flower clock.  NOT one of those clocks of flowers with hands put in the middle to tell the time, but a spankingly clever idea – it lists flowers to plant that open and shut around the clock.  At any time of the day or night, you can tell what the hour is by what flowers are opening and closing. Isn’t that amazing?  Isn’t it more amazing that someone sat up all day and all night to … watch their flowers open and shut?  I was staggered, but impressed.  😀


And this brings me back to what I was doing just before writing to you.

I was shovelling manure.  (Oh! The Glamour!)

Yes, in my leopard print gumboots and a sundress, by floodlight, shovelling manure from the back of a ute, into …. my new vegetable garden!  I’ve been taking pictures as my garden progresses, and you know they’re coming with the story just as soon as it looks pretty enough to share (or even before, if I can’t wait 😛 ). I know you’ll be riveted.

We’re also heading off to another ball in two weeks time so I may inflict a bunch more pics of foofy girl stuff on you.  Will you cope?!


Hope you are all well, Bloggy friends, and enjoying the break if you take school hols!


Ahoy! It’s the HMB Endeavour


I swear, bloggy friends, it’s not just so I could have another post with pirate speak.  Truly!  The HMB Endeavour, a replica owned by the Maritime Museum, is in Brisbane.  If you live nearby RUN to see this before it moves on.  It’s that good.

If you don’t live anywhere near Brisbane, check the website to see if it will be at a port near you.  It’s recommended that you wear closed shoes – I had sandals on and survived, but there is some tricky climbing and the decent from the gangway is steep, so I grant that joggers or something more sturdy than sandals would have been better.  There are no prams or large bags allowed and children must be 90cm tall or over to be admitted.  If you take a camera bag or backpack, you may leave it in a locker and redeem it with a ticket (much the same as you would at the art gallery).

The staff are very friendly and offered to book us as a school group, which meant we could appoint a time to go through.  I recommend you go that route if you have small children, as the wait can be long if you go on a day when the schools are taking classes aboard.

The downloadable pdf self guided tour brochure is worth reading, even if you can’t make it to the ship.  Did you know the expression “Let the cat out of the bag” came from the cat of nine tails? It was kept in a baize bag and, obviously, removed when there was discipline to administer.  So too the expression “No room to swing a cat” came as below deck where the whip was kept was too cramped to apply it, and it had to be done above deck.  You can read these and other gems in the self guided tour brochure.

See how easily Blossy, who is 3, walks through to the Captain’s quarters?  Mr BB, all six-foot two inches of him,  folded up like a hanky to get through this space.  Most of the viewing of the lower deck requires stooping when moving between viewing areas.

The ship is set up to represent conditions during Cook’s voyage, and the rooms contain clothing, toiletries, books and weapons of the era.

If you are studying Australian history this year, this is a must see. If your children read historical fiction with a nautical flavour, this experience will lend flesh to the skeleton that is literary description.  Friends, it’s well worth a visit. 🙂

St. George for England


St. George for England is now complete and available as a free audio download from Librivox. (Hooray for Librivox volunteers!).

This is one you won’t want to miss if you’re currently studying the reign of Edward III; the Black Prince;  the battles of Cressy and Poitiers; the destruction of the Spanish fleet; the Black Death; and the Jacquerie rising.

As an interesting aside, we met in this book characters first introduced to us in “A Chaplet of Pearls”, by Charlotte Yonge, about the slaughter of St Bartholomew’s Eve (France, 1572).

If you are desiring to be immersed in the era, you can’t go past Ronald Welch’s “Bowman of Crecy”.  He doesn’t cover the battle of Poitiers, but you’ll never forget his account of Crecy!

Happy listening, folks!

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