The Tale of a Ballad

Some years ago when my daughter was in Year Seven at High School, she was given a major poetry assignment.

This assignment consisted of the following elements:

Syllable cinquain
Word cinquain
Free Verse
Extra element of own choice
Extra element of own choice ( second type)
Reasons for choice of poet/poem

Most of these elements had to be created by my daughter but in the case of the ballad, she had to choose two Australian poets and give examples of their work.

Having picked Banjo Patterson for her first ballad poet, she calmly announced she had given my (!!) name in to the English teacher as her second choice of Australian poet!

I was horrified, being no poet and objected strongly. Daughter calmly dug up a couple of my published poems, took them to her teacher and said her mother had written them. Therefore her mother must count as an Australian poet, right? Teacher heartily agreed with daughter and I was sunk.

I was then told to produce a ballad on a given topic within 48 hours.

The result was The Colt’s Day.

I know it is no masterpiece but we did have fun with it and both daughter and her teacher were delighted.

We found it a few days ago and so here it is.

(Daughter scored a perfect 100% for the poetry assignment!)

The Colt’s Day

The very young colt stood in the yard
He stamped his hoof good and hard, 
His action really seemed to say:
'I won’t be broken in today!

He heard the sound of a laughing voice
He thought, ‘I’d better make my choice!
He reared up tall and began to neigh:
‘I really will not be ridden today!’

His owner walked up to the gate
He said, ‘Sorry boy, I know I’m late.’
The colt began to prance and neigh,
‘I am a wild colt today!’

He bared his teeth and ran around
All four hooves, they left the ground,
His coat, it shone, a lovely bay
‘I am a wild boy today!

His owner went to get the bridle
‘I cannot let my colt be idle,
After all, it’s for me to say
Whether we will ride today!’

The colt, he gave an enormous leap
He cleared his owner’s brand new jeep,
As he flew, out came a neigh,
‘I said to you, no ride today!’

The colt, he galloped down the track
Over the fence, then out the back,
‘I’m off to meet a friend today,
A pretty filly of white and grey!’

A real horseman, his owner knew
There was nothing else he could do,
He smiled as he put the bridle away,
‘I wasn’t meant to ride today!’

Our colt, he met his filly friend
She was waiting at the old creek bend,
They really had a lovely day
Playing in the meadow hay.

The owner set out tubs of feed
He knew what tired ponies need,
The ponies gave a weary neigh,
‘Thank you for our lovely day!’

© Ingrid M. Smith

Book Review: Terradox by Craig A. Falconer

Craig A. Falconer has the rare ability to target the world's thought-provoking issues in his writing of highly readable Science Fiction books. Welcome to Terradox.

Firstly, on a practical note: The file downloaded easily to my Kindle Touch and was exceptionally user-friendly to both read and operate. 

The strength of this story lies in its basis of reality: we can so easily identify with the problems faced by the characters in the book. For example:

Not enough food for the world's population? Welcome to the Global Union's Pet Ban who cannot possibly allow humans to waste food on their pets. The horror of the Pet Ban is reinforced by the delight and wonder of teenage Viola when told she may actually get to meet "four real live dogs" on the Venus Station.

Ever imagined a combined group of countries getting too much power? See the words spoken by Yury, aka Spaceman: …"centralised power without representation only ever works out well for one group, and that’s the group that wields it…..the distinction between an all-powerful global sovereign and an international society is not semantic and it is not political. This distinction is the distinction between tyranny and liberty.’’

The story, without giving too much away: Life on planet Earth is now controlled by the Global Union. A small group of people, including two children and their father, has joined the quest for a better alternative. On route to the Venus Station, their ship meets with a seeming accident. Working together in the struggle to survive, it gradually emerges that perhaps not all of the people are working towards the same goal...

The characters are very believable, each having their strengths and weaknesses which emerge at unexpected times. The group consists of young Bo Harrington, his teenage sister, Viola and their father Robert, Ekaterina Rusev, Grav, Yury aka Spaceman, Holly and Dante.

Mr. Falconer manages his cast with creativity and cunning. In the background hovers the menace of Australian Roger Morrison and the tragedy of Olivia Harrington.

The author has nice lines in gentle humour and irony which I hope he will continue to develop. Holly's Plant in a Pot, the Lavendar Scented Venus Station and the food produced by the algae-building-block food machine are all great examples of this.

A high standard in language, grammar and punctuation is maintained, which I greatly appreciated.

I always wanted to keep turning the page to discover what happened next: what more can one say?

© Ingrid M. Smith

Publication of this review includes book reviews.

Book Review: The Gift of Originality by Justine Hart

Justine Hart has created the ideal text book for those people who want to take more than a hurried glance at where they stand in today's world. You are gently but firmly encouraged to take a good look at yourself and your place in life; having done that, suggestions are made for taking action and making change.

The writer has the gift of humour, which she uses to illustrate different situations. She also has a penetrating understanding of today's world, both the positive and negative issues. With no hint of despondency in her words, Justine Hart makes some very clear statements about the society we live in: which we have created, hoping to better ourselves. She is also amazingly practical, which I love.

Some of Justine's words which I most enjoyed and appreciated are:

'Just imagine a world with only priests and prophets, novices and nuns, ministers and saints and no one to attend to sanitation!'

'You have helped to create the day's events; your participation will have made a difference.'

'Do not immediately make hasty assumptions on a particular mood and manner.'

'People seem to be working harder and longer, but are they creating something better?'

'It seems possible that soon we could be enmeshed (and floundering) into a fluctuating economy that dictates little personal thought and much spending of money! Is this not happening already?'

'Do we not all appreciate a clean house and delicious meal, so nice to come home to?'

'Consider for instance the tiny invisible sparks and symbols of enthusiasm, excitement and laughter. They are very contagious and will zip, sparkle and spread through the air very easily and quickly.'

'It feels as though we have our freedom and independence, but do we really have full control of this ever expanding monetary need? Could this be another time of servitude and dominance?'

'There are more concerns; is all this easily bought merchandise and produce conducive to our good health? There is the frightening possibility that everything that we need to buy will soon be doused and doctored with chemicals, preservatives and colorants. We are only just discovering the many harmful effects.'

Justine illustrates many of her points with entertaining yet serious anecdotes. We have the story about anger going down the line: it starts with the boss in his office and ends with the poor cat getting a rough time. There is the tale about missed opportunity and the different coloured boxes tied with different coloured ribbons.

There is the mandatory mobile mania: (what a grand piece of alliteration) We will shop, eat, drink, arrange for a plumber, check the emails, take a conference call and sell a new project all in the blink of an eye. Or was it our lunch break?

The Gift of Originality is an invaluable text book suited to many people. Whether you question your role in today's world or whether you wish to argue with some of Justine's points, The Gift of Originality makes an exciting and intelligent read.

© Ingrid M. Smith

Publication of this review includes In Print (Feb 2014 edition) and book reviews.

My Beautiful Boy: a short story

My Beautiful Boy is the true story of a cat called Buttercup who spent more than twenty-two years as a much-loved member of our family. Quietly and patiently he ruled his team of ratters and mousers who protected the bales of lucerne and meadow hay on our farm.

My Beautiful Boy was published in the March 2019 edition of In Print,  the official newsletter of The Society of Women Writers of Western Australia.

Buttercup: September 1996 - 7 February 2019

My First Queensland Christmas

'The north wind is tossing the leaves,
The red dust is over the town,
The sparrows are under the eaves,
And the grass in the paddocks is brown,
As we lift up our voices and sing
To the Christ Child, the Heavenly King.'

The words of one of my favourite Christmas carols sang out loud and strong from the airport loudspeakers. I remembered learning them in the Sunday School choir, as an eight year old. I had always loved the Australian Christmas carols which seemed to suit our climate and lifestyle so well.
It was Christmas Eve and the early afternoon sun was blazing down as we emerged from the airport in search of a car for hire. We had just travelled nearly 2,500 kilometres up the east coast of Australia, starting out at daybreak. Three air flights later, here we were in north Queensland. For my husband-to-be, it was the usual annual Christmas return to his north-west Queensland home. It was my first visit to Queensland and I was travelling to meet my future husband's family for the very first time. Our wedding day was only three weeks away.

© Ingrid M. Smith

Some years ago I was invited to contribute to a Christmas Annual in the United Kingdom. The resultant published true story exceeded 7,000 words. The above is the opening excerpt from My First Queensland Christmas. It appeared in The Eighth Chalet Annual (FOCS) Christmas 2003 published by Friends of the Chalet School United Kingdom. The four photographs below are some of the pictures used to illustrate my article.

My First Queensland Christmas
Ponies and sugarcane at Rocking Vee
Ponies and mangoes at Rocking Vee

The Oakdale Cowboys
Bull riding practice at Rocking Vee

Where the Waratahs Bloom and Mike Sargeant

Mike Sargeant is a hugely talented artist who creates his wonderfully unique pieces from recycled materials. Each of Mike's distinctive works is a legacy to his love of the natural enviroment and desire to protect it.
His pieces range from the Keep Australia Beautiful Awards to Claude (Clawed!) the Crocodile; at 3.5 metres long, Mike's largest piece.
Mike's work travels far and wide and can be found displayed in galleries, at exhibitions, in parks and in many homes and gardens. His work has been showcased with huge success at the prestigeous annual art event at Sydney's Botanical Gardens.
Mike is married to the lovely Christine who often arrives home to find that her kitchen utensils have been mysteriously incorporated into works of art! (see the Forcupine)
I am fortunate enough to be the extremely proud owner of one of Mike's amazing pieces, especially designed and created to celebrate the writing of my novel,  Where the Waratahs Bloom.

Here are the details of my piece:

The flower head is created from bent nails,  half a plastic golf ball, fish knives, half a champagne bottle top and painted with glass paint.
The stem is made from a golf club and the leaves are cutlery handles.
The whole flower is fixed to an extremely solid piece of slate, a left-over from a new floor.
The wood and the backing, according to Mike:  'are some odd bits salvaged from the shed'.

I hope to do another blog very soon about Mike's awe-inspiring work.
Photo credits: Mike Sargeant and Peter Smith

The very special piece created by Mike for 
my novel, Where the Waratahs Bloom

The fine detail of one of Mike's waratah flowers

One of the many awards created by Mike

A vase of native flowers featuring the waratah

The Forcupine, composed mainly of recycled forks!

Claude (Clawed) the Crocodile! He is 3.5  metres long
and has found a happy home.

Fish in Water: originally displayed outside Manly Art Gallery as part of the Framework Project in 2001. Fish in Water is now on permanant display at BreastScreen NSW,  St Leonards.

Lest We Forget: an anthology

An Isle of Greece tells the story of Dorothy Measures, an Australian nurse working on the Greek island of Lemnos after the Battle of Lone Pine in 1915.

The dedication inside this anthology,  Lest We Forget, says it all:
'This anthology is to commemorate '100 Years of ANZAC' in this centenary year. The stories, articles and poems of fact and fiction are dedicated to the gallant soldiers of Australia and New Zealand who fought diligently to keep this country free.'

I am proud that my story was considered good enough to be included.


I have started this blog to showcase my books, short stories and articles and also to write about issues which spring from and relate to, the afore mentioned. I intend to keep the blog pretty tight to the subject and not wander all over the place.
Questions and comments from readers are most welcome. 

Quote: 'The pen is mightier than the sword'  Edward Bulwer-Lytton, 1839