Crook Family goes to Market

The Crook family pilgrimage to the Brisbane’s produce markets at Rocklea was a highlight for all four children. Raising this number of kids with one breadwinner must have been a budgeting nightmare. We snacked mainly on fruit. There were no fast food outlets or packaged treats for us in those days. We got pretty excited if a Weston’s chocolate wheaten biscuit found it’s way into the lunchbox.

Dad would yell out ‘we’re going to the markets, everyone in the car’ and there would be a mad scramble to be first in the rusty old Valiant station wagon. Lisa, the eldest and toughest, would grab her usual window seat behind Mum’s head. She was responsible for making sure that Daniel and Peter didn’t kill each other. Peter, second eldest, was also honoured with a window seat.

Daniel, of slightly hyperactive nature, was positioned safely in the centre of the bench seat. As the youngest, and seemingly of least consequence, I was relegated to the back of the wagon. I distinctly remember the smell of petrol fumes when travelling in the Valiant. A smell that would leave me feeling slightly nauseous during each trip. This exposure to lead poisoning may explain my chronic short-term memory problems and great capacity for getting lost.

Leaded petrol was the only option available at petrol stations.

Mum, a short petite woman, ruled the roost with an iron fist, barking out orders to the tribe. Dad towered over mum, 6 foot 3 inches tall, yet always knew his place as second-in-command. Mum would be the last to get in the car, fussing around like a chook with her head chopped off.

We lived at Indooroopilly, so Dad drove over the Walter Taylor bridge on the way to the suburb of Rocklea. Fascinated, we’d stretch our necks to peer at the mass of brown, strong water, which is the Brisbane river. Our journey would continue through the pretty suburbs of Chelmer and Graceville. Streets lined with lovely, shady Camphor Laurel trees.

Then passing through what seemed like the countryside we arrived at the Rocklea produce market. The place was chockers full of trucks, vans, dust and busy workers distributing box after box of fruit and vegetables from the loading bays. We loved the hectic atmosphere and the delightful, pungent smells.

Mum would dart back and forth, on the lookout for bargain boxes of oranges and crisp red apples. The sturdy looking vendors, wearing overalls and boots, would look slightly bemused as mum prattled away to them.

Occasionally, depending on the season, we would also buy mandarins, sweet peaches, apricots, plums, grapes, bananas or watermelon. Number one on my list of fruits was the mouth-watering Bowen mango, with its plump, yellow body and deliciously juicy, sweet-smelling flesh. Mangoes and other stone fruits could only be found in summer.

Dad would load the boxes of fruit into the back of the wagon. I would squeeze in next to the load. This didn’t bother me as it gave me something to hang onto as we drove home. Compulsory seat-belts hadn’t yet been invented. The smell of fresh, ripe fruit also camouflaged the smell of petrol fumes.

My brothers would be a bit overexcited by this stage and the pinching, punching and yelling would begin. My spot in the back of the Valiant was turning into prime position.

First thing mum would do when we got home was to put the kettle on the stove. After a nice cup of tea she would lie on the couch and put her feet up. The boxes of fruit would clutter up the house for days but the smells and tastes were divine.


Gabrielle Bryden (nee Crook or now that I am older – Crook Knee) 😉

note: a repost because it is summer and nearly Christmas and the cricket is on tv and the stone fruit is plentiful 😍

The End is Nigh


No, it’s not the end of the world as we know it (though I am finding it hard to recognise anymore, what with all the crazy leaders around).

It’s the end of the ducky apocalypse.

Not that long ago we had an accidental flock of Muscovy ducks rampaging around the property.



Now there are but two ☹

two ducks (2)

What happened?

Somewhere out there is a very fat fox 😒

🎇Happy New Year 2017🎆


2016 was one of those mixed years of highs and lows! 😁😭

I began my PhD in psychology and finished my first study which was published in a peer reviewed journal. I have almost finished my second study. Two years to go, if all goes well #yikes

I did two short online statistics courses to help me analyse my data #ouch

Andy the Great had a heart attack which nearly killed him early in the year, but survived and as is now a non-smoker, a healthy eater, a cardio walker and a gym junkie. In fact, I have a brand new husband – better than ever – so the heart attack turned into a blessing. He has inspired us all with his cardiac rehabilitation, and is the star of his heart support group – they even recently got him to do a pep talk to the whole group 😎

There were untimely deaths for several people I knew. A suicide from a young relative with mental health issues; a car accident resulting in the death of a lovely girl I went to school with 😦 #tragic

There were illnesses for grandparents on both sides.

There was overseas travel for myself and my son – an ancient history study tour of Greece and Italy – much knowledge was acquired, much fun was had, and a great quantity of food was eaten 🙂🍕

A school year came and went quite successfully for all involved.

The duck apocalypse came under control – now we only have 9 girl Muscovy ducks (down from over 30).

The cows, goats, and alpacas are healthy and content.

Molly and Sheba, the labradoodle dandy dogs, are as spoiled as ever.

David Bowie died 😭

I could go on …

I’m happy it’s 2017 😀

Big hugs to you all in the blogosphere 😍

Bob Dylan – The Gabe Files

In honour of Bob being recently awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, I am reposting this blog post, written in 2009 😍

Did you know that Bob Dylan's last name was Zimmerman?

Did you know that Bob Dylan’s last name was Zimmerman?

I sometimes say that I am the opposite of autistic. I would describe myself as empathetic, intuitive, good communicator, sociable, flexible, and completely lacking in spatial awareness (I get lost all the time). But there is one characteristic I share with my ASD son – obsessions or special interests. My current obsession is Bob Dylan and I have been obsessed with the world’s greatest singer-songwriter for the past couple of years.

Don’t get me wrong. I have always liked the man, but I was not previously obsessed with him. In fact, I recall borrowing a tape (yes, you heard me right – a tape) of Bob Dylan songs from the local library when I was in my early teens. I shared a room with my older sister and let me tell you, she was none to impressed with me playing that tape. She is a bit sensitive to sound and there was something in the quality of his nasal breathing that disturbed her greatly. I can’t for the life of me understand the problem.

Anyway, my obsession began after inadvertently watching on TV the Martin Scorsese directed  ‘No Direction Home: Bob Dylan.” If you haven’t seen it – JUST DO IT! It is brilliant and has some of the best interviews with the man himself, that I’ve seen. As you will be aware he doesn’t like being interviewed. Maybe he really likes Martin Scorsese.

After watching the best documentary ever, I began collecting every Bob Dylan album ever made. Then I began to play every Bob Dylan album ever made; and I didn’t stop for a year. I had my 6 stacker CD player in the car full of Bob Dylan albums. I had, and still do have, Bob Dylan albums piled up and spilling all over the place in the living room. I drove my little 6 year old daughter crazy. Our son, on the other hand, just loves Bob Dylan (isn’t he a champion and great taste in music) and never complained. After a year of endlessly playing Bob Dylan albums, and reading biographies and anything else I could get my hands on, I started to calm down a bit. I regained composure and now play Bob intermittently, as is the way of a well-balanced person.

A collective sigh of relief was heard emanating from the Bryden clan (minus our son, bless his heart).

Earlier this year, however, on a long trip home from Brisbane to Woodgate after visiting my mother, I had the urge to put on ‘The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan’. I had put off playing Bob Dylan because I didn’t want to annoy the sound-sensitive little girl. All was quiet in the back seat and I thought our daughter might even be asleep; beaudy, at last I can play Bob Dylan. I started playing the album and after a couple of songs a little girl’s voice chirped from the rear “Mummy, I’ve got an earache.”

“Oh no, that’s no good. How long have you had it darling?” I asked in a concerned voice.

“Since you put Bob Dylan on!”

There’s no accounting for tastes, is there!




Young Writers Award


Message from the State Library of Queensland 😀

Know a young writer with a story to tell?

They could win up to $2,000 with SLQ’s Young Writers Award!

State Library of Queensland’s annual Young Writers Award competition is now open for entries from Queensland writers in two age categories:

18–25 years

  • Short stories up to 2,500 words
  • WIN $2,000 and Queensland Writers Centre Youth membership.

15–17 years

  • Short stories up to 1,500 words
  • WIN an Apple iPad Air 2, $100 iTunes voucher, Library Shop book pack, and Queensland Writers Centre Youth Membership.

Entries close Friday 30 September, 5pm.

Visit our website for entry details and more information, or download a printable poster for display in your school or office.

Help us spread the word with your students, children, friends and networks »

Supported by


cow paddies on election day

Today is election day throughout the land of Australia.

Molly is sniffing out the many cow paddies over yonder – and there are many 😉


Cow paddie

We have the misnamed Health Australia Party (the anti-vaccination, anti-fluoride, and chem-trail conspiracy belief tin-foil hat brigade) – have won the first column on the NSW senate ballot paper. This means a previously obscure group now have some hope of attracting votes – this might happen simply because of the order effect, also known as the sloth approach to voting. You can read what a real doctor says about them in the MJAInsight here.

Not a cow paddie

If you value the arts than have a looksee at the wonderful Brian Brown telling us why the Arts Party deserve to be considered for the Senate.


Happy voting 😀



Manuscript development masterclass (Hard Copy)


‘To stop me from having to work the streets at night, I spend a few hours each week coordinating HARDCOPY, an Australia Council-funded program for emerging Australian writers.

The program leads 30 writers through an intensive manuscript-development masterclass, 3 days of industry seminars, and an opportunity to hear feedback from high-level agents and publishers.

Please share the poster as appropriate, so the leather chaps can stay in the cupboard…for a few more months at least.’

This has been an announcement from the wonderful Nigel Featherstone  😊



See you next year 😍

christmas molly 049

Happy New Year

2015 was a good year 😊

Nobody close, of the human variety, has died #alwaysgood

(we won’t mention Amore or Edgar Allen Poe or the long gone mice)

I have re-entered the workforce after many years: worked as a parole officer for a few months and then got some part-time work as a researcher at Uni in a gambling laboratory.

I trained as a volunteer telephone crisis counsellor and have been doing that in my spare time – makes me appreciate my life.

I was awarded a scholarship to do my PhD in psychology; and begin that journey in January #eek

The children are growing up fast and are becoming independent people. My son is now taller than my husband and my daughter is not far behind.

My husband has built more fences and weeded more fields than you could imagine; and the beasties are doing well.

I have even written the occasional poem #woops

Wishing you all the best for 2016 and thanks for stopping by the bloggy blog blog 🎇🎆✴🎆🎇