A Great Day at the Fair.

The Royalla Roundup proved to be a fantastic Fair day, celebrated and enjoyed by all community members, neighbours, friends and visitors. Everyone who came was welcome to share in the delights of the fabulous Autumn weather as well as the country air and atmosphere. Initially I was a a little concerned when we drove down to "the Common" to set up as a typical gorgeous crisp, clear Royalla morning had turned bleak with a thick fog that had rolled in across the hills. We could hardly see the road in front of us as we drove down into the valley. This was not a good sign, but I should have known better. A thick morning fog in the valley always means a very still day and by the time the fair was declared open at 10.00 am the morning had cleared, the sun shone bright to a perfect day.

Visitors soon filled the adjoining paddock carpark to overflow capacity as the air was filled with the sounds of children laughing, and the aroma of freshly baked bacon and egg rolls. As the day progressed children ran around with brightly painted faces eating pink fairy floss on sticks while parents listened to the wonderful sounds of the musicians performing in the amphitheatre under the shade of the trees in the elm grove.

I later asked a neighbour's son which of all the rides was he favourite? He couldn't decide between the mechanical bucking bull, (which he had 3 turns of and only fell off once!) or the pony ride.  The fact that he could also remember that the mechanical bull's name was "Kevin" but had trouble remembering the name of the pony, hinted to me just which one might have truly been his favourite. :) There was also a jumping castle and animals to pat in the petting zoo, but the cutest of all to me were the baby alpacas. If only I could talk my hubby into letting me have one or two on our land...mmmm.....will work on that!

DSCN0178A huge thank you to all those lovely parents, families and friends who came by my stall to chat, support me and purchase a book or two. You are all wonderful and I appreciate you all very much. :) I hope you enjoy reading the books with your children and ask if you would kindly take the time to write a review and send it to me either here on my website, via email or on Amazon once they are listed there. Struggling authors always need good reviews to help spread the word.


DSCN0185My table was nestled under the shade of the beautiful elm trees amongst all the other lovely arts and crafts, the path lead to the children's craft tables where they could create easter activities and other crafts before the path eventually finished near the logs to view the musicians and at one time a spectacular magician. I looked out towards the Rural Fire Services truck and helicopter DSCN0183where children spent a delightful time looking at all the equipments and could ask the usual array of inquisitive questions that all budding "fireman" at that tender young age tend to do.

Naturally, mums and dads were not forgotten. There were plenty of shiny old cars on display. Farm equipment and machinery to learn about, all your septic tank and storm water issues could be answered, gardenimg supplies were plentiful, not to mention an abundance of secondhand books and clothing to peruse.

Batch of aliensMy "Gingerbread Alien" cookies were another yummy take home delicious treat to be saved and eaten while reading the newest exciting chapter in the 'Bradberrie Brothers Alien Adventure" series. I was both surprised and delighted to meet several families who walked past and noticed my original book, "Gingerbread Aliens" then realised part two was now released. It was music to this author's ears to hear children ask their parents if they could  "please have the next book." They just had to find out what was going to happen next in Alien Shenanigans!

Emma the Eager Emu was the most popular of all three of my books. Some of the lovely feedback was that it was wonderful to find a book written about Australian animals, these are very hard to find, we don't have near enough of them. Mind you I think a lot of it has to do with the amazing illustrations my fabulous illustrator has done for me. Dianna Budd has made my bird characters come to life with charm and humour. I adore them. :) 15Thiis afternoon we met for a cuppa where I had the opportunity to tell Dianna how much everyone adored her illustrations. We agreed we perhaps need to get to work on the next book.

Once again I would like to thank the Royalla Roundup committee for the opportunity for me to be involved in the inaugural country living fair and hope that the community has rallied together to raise enough funds to begin the building of our community centre. I look forward to many years ahead meeting more and more neighbours during gatherings in our upcoming newly built shed.

For those of you still waiting for the books to come on-line so that you may purchase a copy via my website, I appreciate your patience. My son is working on it, and promises to have all the kinks worked out within the next few days. A busy Uni schedule has held him up, my sincere apologies.

Alien Shenanigans_cover_FNL_001Alien Shenanigans and

Copyright Sandra Bennett and Dianna Budd

Emma the Eager Emu will be available here. Please stay tuned!






Are you close to your neighbours?

Are you close to your nieghbours? The question could be answered in two completely different ways, socially or geographically? Do you live in an inner city apartment where the walls are so thin you can hear everything your neighbours say and do? Are you in the suburbs where the houses are so close the neighbour's gutters almost touch your own?

In relation to distance my neighbours are not exactly a hop, skip and jump over the side fence. I can't yell through an open window and hope they might hear me, in fact to even see if my neighbours are home I need either a pair of binoculars or a telescope.

But would I say we are close? Yes, definitely. :) We might all live some distance apart, (in fact to visit each other we become inventive and use any manor of transport, horse, bush buggy, quad bike or ride on lawn mower), but somehow that brings our community all the closer together. We not only get together for social events like major milestones of birthdays, (any excuse for a bonfire and a party), neighbours drop by to simply say hello, share vegies and plants from their gardens and generally keep an eye out for one another. We share life's joys and successes and support each other whenever someone is in need.

Many city people don't understand the lifestyle choice that comes with living in the country, they believe you isolate yourself. In our neighbourhood nothing could be further from the truth. I have felt far more isolated living with neighbours right next door who you never saw or would never speak to you. People who would come and go and keep totally to themselves.

I've also lived in a quiet little street where all the kids came out to play of an afternoon while the mums watched on over a cuppa and a chat. The neighbourhood was a safe and friendly place for the kids to grow and learn.

Throughout all the places I have lived I have made some wonderful lifelong friends. From my time in the gated community compound in Thailand, to the quiet cul-de-sac on the Central Coast NSW, to our rural community that I love so much now.

Since writing "Gingerbread Aliens" I have had many kids and parents ask if my character Mrs Witherbottom, stems from any of my past or present neighbours? My initial reaction is usually no, not really, however if I dig deep into my sub conscience I find her hidden there as an amalgamation of quite a few neighbours I have known over the years. Alien_Page18

Mrs Witherbottom reflects the kindly neighbour next door we all know and love. The neighbour we all go to for all the gossip as we know she will know it all! If there is something happening in the neighbourhood Mrs Witherbottom represents the neighbour to snoop and find out all the juicy details. It is with great delight that Mrs Witherbottom returns once again in "Alien Shenanigans" to meddle and generally find herself in circumstances she has no control over.

So how close are you to your neighbours? Have you taken the time to get to know them? Leave a reply below and tell me about your neighbours. I hope you get along with them as much as we do with ours.

Alien Shenanigans should be released March 2015.

Curiosity Killed the Cat

To quote Glenn Shorrock of the Little River Band from the 1970's "Curiosity killed the Cat" is the perfect character description for Mrs Witherbottom, the nosy neighbour living next door to David, Brian and Simon Bradberrie in Gingerbreasd Aliens. She is curious about everything that goes on in her neighbourhood, sometimes to her own detriment.  She is the typical interfering neighbour who must know everything about everyone much akin to the delightful Gladys Kravitz of the much loved 1960's sit-com Bewitched. Forever peering out of the front curtains or over the back fence, Mrs Witherbottom is always poking her nose into everybody else's business. Unwittimgly, in Mrs Witherbottom's attempts to involve herself in the bizzare events that surround the three brothers disaster in their kitchen, she becomes entangled in a whopper of a tale and circumstances that escalate quickly out of her control.Mrs Witherbottom0001 I have had many people ask me "Where did I come up with the idea for this wonderful character?"  To be honest, I think she has been bubbling away in my mind for years. Fortunately I can admit that she is not a representation of any one neighbour we have had in particular, but rather the cuddly friendly sort of figure you wouldn't mind having as a neighbour as long as she kept a little more to herself. I have a rather soft spot for Mrs Witherbottom, she is a lonely charactaer that is crying out for friends but in her desperate attempt for attention tries a liitle too hard. At least her little dog is faithful and will happily follow wagging its tail, wherever she goes,

On school visits, I have asked children if they have known a busy-body neighbour like Mrs Witherbottom? Surprisingly many laugh and nod in agreement. I think that is one reason why children love this character so much,  they can relate to her just as much as the brothers with their sibling rivalry.

Recently I made a return visit unexpectedly to the street where my boys spent their early childhood. It was a small suburban cul-de-sac where everyone knew each other very well. My husband and I were lucky enough to meet up with a couple of our ex-neighbours and to my delight and laughter it didn't take them long to fill us in on all the gossip over the past ten years of the lives  (and loves), of the people in just about every house in the street! Mres Witherbottom was alive and well even though she was living within a mix of quite a few people.

These days I am lucky to live in a quiet rural estate where the neighbours are so far apart you think twice before walking next door. We usually drive, ride a motor bike or  bush buggy depending on whether we are gathering fresh vegetables from a neighbours garden or just popping over for a chat. It's a great community where everyone is friendly, will give you a wave as you drive by, happy to stop for a cuppa and a catch up, or be there whenever they might be needed. I'm lucky enough to be able to say with yet another quote, this time from the Neighbours thene song, it's where "good neighbours become good friends." We even have a Saturday morning ritual where five of us mum's take time out from our busy schedule to meet amd walk our dogs for about one and a half hours around the valley. I'm not sure who enjoys the exercise and interaction more, us or the dogs!

In truth though my favoutite neighbours that stop by would have to be the wild ones!

A wombat making an unusual house call one eveing at our neighbours place. They usually don't come out till after dark.

An ecidna cam for a surprise visit one afternoon while we were all out gardening.
An ecidna came for a surprise visit one afternoon while we were all out gardening.

As a teacher or parent reading Gingerbread Aliens with my kids, what are the lessons to be learnt from Mrs Witherbottom and the interaction she has with the boys?







Curiosity, can be a good thing, you can use it to learn and grow, but sometimes a little too much curiosity is not always beneficial. Sometimes neighbours (and friends) like to keep to themselves. Privacy can be appreciated just as much as a welcomed freindly hello! Getting the balance right is what keeps neighbours living and communicating happily togther.