Archive for February, 2019

Neville Jenkins is keeping an old toymaking tradition alive

Good Eggs: Toymaker Neville Jenkins and his daughter Natalie Vickery.

Toymaking is, in this day and age, somewhat of a lost artform.

These days, toys are mass-produced and made as plastic-fantastic, throw-away products to suit the needs of the fast-paced consumer society.

However, 81-year-old Neville Jenkins is keeping an old tradition alive.

Neville was in the furniture trade in Newcastle in his younger days.

“The furniture business is all I know,” Neville said.

He decided to put his skills to good use in his retirement and to help others.

Having spent time during his career in management, he had a desire to “get back on the tools”.

Wooden trucks that Neville Jenkins made from old pallets.

He crafts wooden toys out of used pallets, creating one-of-a-kind items like trucks, trains, rocking horses and cradles.

“It takes me back to the basics of what I learnt when I was an apprentice,” he said.

Toymaking and Christmas go together like holly and ivy, whichis why Neville’s handiwork comes into particular focus at this time of year.

He uses his woodworking skills to bring joy to children’s lives. He donatesto a children’s hospital and other beneficiaries.

Neville said he’d had heart trouble back in 2008 and ended up havingbypass surgery.

When he told his doctor at the time that he was going back to work to make toys, “he said good, that will help”.

And it did help.

“I’ve had no problems with my heart since,” he said.

Toymaking had also helped him manage and overcome other health problems, including the onset of Parkinson’s disease, he said.

“I did have shaking hands, but now I don’t,” he said.

“The simple reason is using my body to make toys helps.”

Daughter Natalie Vickery said he was “a quiet and amazing man, who enjoys helping others”.

Ms Vickery, a hairdresser and owner of Chameleon Hair in New Lambton, said “the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree”.

She asked her dad for help with a charity that is close to her heart.

“Hair Aid is an n non-profit organisation that works with the poorest of the poor in the Philippines,” she said.

“They send teams of hairdressers to Manila to teach haircutting skills to the homeless, so they can earn money and feed their families.”

Her dad crafted some toys and kids’ furniture, which were sold at Ms Vickery’s salon.

The money was used to buy hair clippers, which Ms Vickery will take to Manila in January.

Teddy Bear’s Picnic A Sharpe’s Nursery sign on City Road in Merewether.

A Sharpe’s Nursery sign spotted on City Road in Merewether said: “We’ve got teddy bears in our nursery”.

Hmmm. We’re not sure why this is the case. We wonder, are they planning a picnic?

Christmas WishThe NSW Environment Protection Authority has sent out its Christmas wishlist. Here it is:

Defrost your freezer before Christmas. It will work more efficiently and create more space to store left-over food;Use the kid’s paintings or drawings for wrapping paper, or swap last year’s recycled paper with a friend, so you have new designs;Giving the kids a new gadget? Buy rechargeable batteries and a battery charger for long-lasting, waste-less power;For recipes that require a bit of lemon juice, puncture the rind with a toothpick and gently squeeze out what you need. Then cover the hole with a piece of tape and store the lemon in the fridge for later use;Give the garden a nutrient-rich present bycomposting vegetable scraps and leftovers.

Gwenda Cousins’ book titled Poetry of Life has been released.

Former Maitland woman Gwenda Cousins has released a book of poems she says are written from her heart.

Mrs Cousins, who along with husband and former Maitland councillor Kevin Cousins, used to own and operate West End Newsagency, opposite The Belmore Hotel, for 13 years.

POETIC: Former Maitland resident Gwenda Cousins, who now lives at Medowie, with her book of poetry titled Poetry of Life.

She has made the transition from selling books to writing them and readers won’t be disappointed.

Her poems are memoirs of her life experiences, many years spent in the Maitland area.She now lives at Medowie.

“I think my poems will resonate with a lot of people as many of them are written about life experiences and the people I have met throughout my life,” Mrs Cousins said.

“This whole book came about when I met a young woman going through a very tough time in life. As she told me her story she expressed her belief that butterflies were inspirational. That night I went home and wrote The Butterfly for her.

“Although our paths have not crossed for many years I feel the poem was a comfort to her,” Mrs Cousins said.

Mrs Cousins said from that time on she started to write more often.“Sometimes just a word or an image would bring a poem to mind,” she said.

Mrs Cousins grew up in post war .

She said as a child she and her siblings were encouraged to read books and her ideal Christmas present was a lot of books.

“Writing compositions were never a chore for me. In fact one time I came home with a mark of 11 out of 10 and my parents were thrilled,” she said.

Mrs Cousins said making contact with so many customers during her years at West End Newsagency proved to be a rich ground for stories and anecdotes.

During her years in Maitland Mrs Cousins did publicity for the local PCYC and Country Women’s Association.

Poetryof Life is available at McDonald’s book store Maitland, Raymond Terrace, Nelson Bay and Medowie news agencies. It is also available on Amazon and Kindle.

Mrs Cousins isworking ona secondbook of poetry and also has a children’s book in the works.

Daily World Dispatch – What it means for states to fail, and the revenge of the Melians

Smoke rises from green government buses awaiting to evacuate residents in Idlib province, Syria on Sunday. Photo: SANA/AP A Turkish man shouts ‘Don’t forget Aleppo, don’t forget Syria’ as he points his gun at people attending an exhibition in Ankara. Photo: Burhan Ozbilici/AP

The world watches Aleppo, seeking some solace in the unfolding misery. Bana al-Abed, the girl who tweeted about the plight of Syrians in the rebel-held east of the city, is safely out, we are told.

But she is not the only thing that will have escaped from Aleppo.

What does it mean to say that a state has failed? It means that it cannot give its citizens a life of meaning and indeed that the sword with which it once secured its frontiers is turned inward. But it is immediately not a remote or an internal problem.

The violence of the Syrian state and of the Turkish state and of the Egyptian state and the Iraqi state may well overwhelm the force of those who are not states or only pretend to be states.

But that does not mean that the matter is settled. For those the state kills in its quest for order will always be connected to others – in the case of Syria’s and Iraq’s Sunni Arabs, hundreds of millions of others – who will ask their own states: where were you when the bombs fell?

People in the West discussing this issue will often mention Rwanda or Sarajevo, with some justification, but for Arabs the abiding moment of this question was Beirut in the northern summer of 1982. When a city was smashed by vacuum bombs until it yielded a particular group of armed men, only for another group of armed men to massacre the women, the children and the elderly those men left behind in the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila.

In those days there was no YouTube and no Twitter, no instant access to scenes of death and destruction, no social media to channel grief or manipulate it. In the markets of the Middle East the atrocities of Beirut circulated on Betamax tapes, finding their way into living rooms across the Arab world. And the questions they posed to the Arab states in particular weakened those states in ways that would take decades to become clear.

We have arrived again at such a moment. The nations of the Middle East and of the world seem to have largely written off the prospect of Bashar al-Assad being removed from leadership of the Syrian state. “Right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must,” as the commanders of the Athenian empire are said to have told the inhabitants of the tiny island of Melos during the Peloponnesian War.

But it is not only the technology of communication that has changed – so too have the possibilities of warfare.

The Melians had spears and swords, but in the age of guns and bombs and mobile phones those failed by states can wreak their vengeance through a small cell or even a single man.

When atrocity goes unchecked within the failing state, one man can appoint himself the repository of the state’s powers, and tiny peoples like the Melians or the Bosnian Serbs or the Afghans can be catapulted to history’s main stage.

In the latest case, the instrument of re-establishing what he saw as an absent moral order was an officer of the law described in a grim irony as “off duty”.

In his novel Snow, published 14 years ago, the Turkish author Orhan Pamuk scripted an exchange between an academic and a young man about the excesses and the duties of the state. That exchange ended in gunshots.

It is how so many of our exchanges now seem to end. It is how so many of our states seem to end up.

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches towards the White House to be born?

Fans push to get A.B. Original’s anti-China Day protest into Hottest 100

Briggs and Trials (Adam Briggs and Dan Rankine). Photo: Justin McManusForget #Tay4Hottest100; there’s a more urgent campaign taking aim at Triple J’s next Hottest 100.

Fans are pushing for January 26 from A.B. Original, the collaboration between rappers Briggs and Trials, to be featured in Triple J’s Hottest 100, as a protest against the broadcaster continuing to run the annual countdown on January 26.

The song – a G-funk anthem with a “F— that, homie” catch-cry, featuring singer Dan Sultan and taken from the duo’s instantly beloved new album Reclaim – throws a head-shaking middle finger at those who’d wilfully choose to drape themselves in the Southern Cross and celebrate on January 26, a day that represents dispossession and genocide to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

A Facebook event post that’s quickly pulled in almost 1000 supporters and counting includes a link to Triple J’s Hottest 100 site, urging fans to vote for the track.

“Earlier this year, Triple J finally listened to the thousands of voices calling for respect and had a review into the date they hold the Hottest 100 countdown. Unfortunately, they decided the whining of a noisy minority of racists on the internet was more important than showing a bit of empathy towards ‘s first peoples and left the celebration on that day, perpetuating division and hurt,” the post says.

“By voting for a song which is both an explanation and rejection of the idea of January 26 as a day of celebration… we have the ability to send a message to Triple J. Let’s end the division and change the date.”

Commenters on the page have thrown their support behind the campaign.

“Best idea ever,” wrote one.

“The song was already in my top 3. This has sealed it. I’m in,” added another.

The movement to have Day celebrations changed to a more culturally sensitive date has picked up steam in recent years.

Fremantle Council recently made the decision to move next year’s festivities to January 28, a decision that predictably drew the ire of Turnbull’s Liberal MPs.

In the face of growing criticism, fuelled largely by A.B. Original’s popular track, Triple J released a statement earlier this year saying the countdown would remain on January 26 in 2017, but a future change was “under review”.

“Triple J is heavily involved in the growing dialogue around Indigenous recognition and perspectives on 26 January. This is really important to us,” the network wrote.

“We will continue to talk to Indigenous communities, artists and our audience about the date for the Hottest 100 in future years.”

A spokesperson for Triple J reiterated those sentiments today, saying Triple J stays out of commenting on the Hottest 100 during the voting period out of fairness.

January 26, which premiered on Triple J in August, is already expected to land among the list’s top positions, behind favourite Flume’s Never Be Like You.

“We wrote the hardest shit we could write, and it’s being supported,” Briggs told Fairfax about the song last month.

“I’ve got mates who are teachers, and they’re hearing our music in the playground. To me, that’s goal achieved.”

World’s busiest air routes: The busiest route in the world will surprise you

What’s the busiest air route in the world? Sydney to Melbourne? New York to Washington DC? London to Paris?

The correct answer will surprise you. The most in-demand flight on Earth is actually the 450km hop from Seoul Gimpo International (stop sniggering) to Jeju International. More than 11 million journeys were made between the two South Korean airports in 2015, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) reports, and with a one-way capacity of 6,561,314 for 2016, according to aviation number crunchers OAG, that figure could yet rise to 13m this year.

Second on IATA’s list is Sapporo-Tokyo Haneda, with 7.8m. But the Sydney-Melbourne route’s reputation as one of the world’s busiest is well deserved, coming in at fourth place. That’s a high ranking considering the comparative sizes of the n cities to other destinations on the list.

New York-Washington DC and London-Paris, meanwhile, don’t even make the top 10. The latter isn’t all that surprising – most travellers between London and Paris now take the Eurostar train.

The world’s busiest air routes

A quick search on Skyscanner shows the planes bound for Jeju depart Seoul Gimpo with unerring regularity. Fancy going there on Monday? You could catch the 1935 service, the 1945, the 2010, the 2025, the 2045…

More than 26 million passengers used Jeju International, though this is significantly fewer than ‘s busiest – Sydney Airport’s 42 million.

So what the devil is Jeju, and why are so many rushing to see it?

It’s actually the capital of an island, Jejudo, which might just be the most popular holiday destination you’ve never heard of.

Unesco-listed, and billed as South Korea’s answer to Hawaii, it’s pure Instagram gold, and home to dramatic volcanic landscapes, underground caves, hiking trails and scenic beaches.

The UNESCO World-Heritage-listed Manjanggul Cave in Jeju.Photo: Getty Images

Halla Mountain, at 1940m above sea level, is South Korea’s highest peak, while the cone of Seongsan Ilchulbong, or “Sunrise Peak”, is particularly spectacular.

In 2011 Jejudo was named among the “New7Wonders of Nature”, though there were accusations that its selection was down not just to its beauty, but also the readiness of tourism or marketing organisations to stump up cash – including taxpayers’ money – to support its campaign.

See also: Meet the tough women hunters of Jeju

There are also casinos, which help lure tourists from China, and, thanks to the island’s self-governing status, anyone can visit without a visa.

One of Jeju’s major attractions: the theme park Love Land.Photo: Getty Images

Bizarrely, there’s also a sex-themed park, Jeju Love Land, which features phallus statues, interactive exhibits on the “masturbation cycle”, and other sculptures of humans in flagrante. Love Land is said to owe its existence to Jejudo’s popularity as a honeymoon destination. Young newlyweds would arrive knowing next to nothing about the birds and the bees so some hotel employees offered to share their expertise. The island soon became an unofficial centre for sex education, making the theme park entirely logical.

But Jejudo also has a dark side. In 1948 and 1949, the South Korean government brutally put down an attempted uprising on the island. Villagers, including women and children, were massacred, and as recently as 2008 mass graves were still being uncovered. Some 30,000 people died as a result of the uprising, with a further 40,000 fleeing to Japan, and the atrocities are remembered at the 4.3 Peace Park memorial.

The Telegraph, London

See also: 17 hour slog – non-stop flights from to London aren’t without problems

See also: Heading to the US? Avoid these airports at all costs