March 2021

As we approach the end of the first quarter of 2021, the little corner of the world that is the Sunshine Coast seems to be almost back to normal as Australians, deprived of overseas travel, continue to holiday at home. The coast is busy with tourists and industry appears to be flourishing but there are still many empty commercial premises which shows that not everyone has had an easy time. We have to hope the forthcoming vaccine rollout will control this pandemic; that lessons will have been learned and we have a better understanding of our fellow man as the world gradually comes to terms with a new normal.

For me, the year has begun with a deeper appreciation of the world around me as I recover from cataract surgery. Overnight, colours were clearer and brighter and things were sharper. For what seemed a speedy and painless operation, the results are nothing short of a miracle. To be able to live my life without glasses after wearing them all day every day for the past forty-odd years seems quite bizarre. My face can actually still feel them and at least a dozen times a day, I reach to slide them up as I did constantly before the operation. Thank you Dr. Anderson, you are a life-changer.

Reading is still a problem as I wait for my eyes to adjust to their maximum vision, and knowing this would happen, I signed up for some audio-books. I could see myself sitting comfortably with ear-buds in place, letting the story gently unfold as a mental image of the characters and scenery played out in my mind. I had not, however, counted on dozing off as the same voice went on and on, lulling me to sleep. Large gaps of the story seemed to be missing and even the best actors did not have the power to keep me awake. When I awoke with a start, noting thirty minutes had passed and the story was now well ahead, that course of action, sadly, was doomed to failure. I now struggle with a magnifying glass or an old pair of readers and by holding the page barely inches from my nose, I am managing to get by.

The book I can review for you, is one I read early in the year and was given to me by my granddaughter for Christmas. I have to admire her sense of fun — was she encouraging a sense of rebellion in me perhaps?

THE GREAT ESCAPE FROM WOODLANDS NURSING HOME by Joanna Nell was a romp from start to finish, though not without moments of poignancy.

At nearly ninety, retired nature writer Hattie Bloom prefers the company of birds to people, but when a fall lands her in a nursing home she struggles to cope with the loss of independence and privacy. From the confines of her 'room with a view' of the carpark, she dreams of escape. Fellow 'inmate', the gregarious, would-be comedian Walter Clements also plans on returning home as soon as he is fit and able to take charge of his mobility scooter.

When Hattie and Walter officially meet at The Night Owls, a clandestine club run by Sister Bronwyn and her dog, Queenie, they seem at odds. But when Sister Bronwyn is dismissed over her unconventional approach to aged care, they must join forces -- and very slowly an unlikely, unexpected friendship begins to grow.

Full of wisdom and warmth, this is a gorgeously touching, hilarious story showing that it is never too late to laugh -- or to love.

So it’s cheerio for now. Take care and stay safe.

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