As I retired in early 2020 I didn’t really expect to be participating in another #blogjune but here we are. I was also a little surprised to see that my WordPress login is my old work email address. At least it still worked!

Answer these three questions:

What do you currently do for a living?
Officially not much, but actually quite a lot! I have never once been bored since I finished working, even when I was stuck on the couch for a few months after breaking my leg and ankle. I sometimes say to my partner Wayne that I don’t think I’ll really know what retirement feels like until he’s retired too. I’m looking forward to it.

What three words would you use to describe your role?
Retired, handyman, senior. I applied for my Seniors card as soon as I finished working. I love a bargain.

What is your biggest achievement to date – personal or professional?
In my professional life I’d count public speaking as an achievement, because it was something I never thought I would be able to do, and something that I surprisingly came to enjoy. It’s one of the small number of work things I miss since I retired, and it was one of those talks that led to getting a peer-reviewed article published – I wrote about that here.

There were two highlights in my last year of working in 2019. Firts, in March travelling to Austin, Texas with my friends Michelle and Dan to present at the ER&L Conference and where I also got to meet in person my (until then) online friend Steven. And then, in July 2019, being invited to speak at a forum of Japanese librarians in Tokyo.

It is quite something to have your talk simultaneously translated into Japanese. There was a team of three translators who took turns – it was a bit like the Auslan interpreters tag-teaming during the Covid press conferences. Also, I now know how to write my name in Japanese.

And now to my special #blogjune question…

What is the secret to making great muffins?

One of our friends refers to muffins as “big cakes”, which is one very good reason to like them. Another reason, which I read somewhere many many years ago, is that it’s ok to have lumps in your muffin batter.

Looking back through some photos I discovered that I baked muffins in my first week of retirement. These are Apple and Cinnamon Muffins and Savoury Muffins, both using recipes from the Heart Foundation.

The savoury muffins make a nice simple lunch with soup, so I made another batch to prepare for this post. I substituted oat milk for the dairy milk in the recipe, and I used chopped red capsicum instead of tomatoes. Oh, and I used feta instead of edam cheese, just because I had some to use up, and I didn’t bother blanching the spinach. So that just goes to show you that muffin recipes are pretty forgiving if you want to mix things up.

I noticed that some other muffin recipes use melted butter and I checked with Martha Stewart who says it’s fine to use olive oil instead if you want. If it’s good enough for Martha, it’s good enough me – I used rice bran oil.

I found another muffin tip that said you should fill your muffin tins about 3/4 full and to use an ice cream scoop to fill the cups. This turned out to be a great tip! My vintage ice cream scoop turned out to be the perfect size for filling the muffin trays. It’s also fun to have another excuse to use it.

Another tip I read was that if you end up with some empty cups in your muffin trays you should add a bit of water to those. My recipe was for 12 muffins but I only got 10 so I went ahead and added a bit of water to the two empty muffin cups, although I’m not sure that it made much difference.

Happy baking 🙂


Peer reviewed!

IMG_20161103_170518I was invited to do a presentation at the Charleston Conference last November and at the end of my talk the editor of the UK journal Insights, who had been in the audience, came up for a chat and asked if I’d write it up as a case study for the March issue.

Woohoo, but whoa! That didn’t seem very far away, especially as the submission deadline for that issue was January.

I must have had a slight look of panic on my face because people started saying soothing things like “if you just write a paragraph for each of your slides you’d have it done”. Anyway, after talking it over we settled on the July issue which had a submission deadline of April. That sounded much better.

I got cracking on writing the paper as soon as I got back, and I’m glad I did. A written paper is definitely different to a spoken presentation and I also wanted to update it with some new data.

My Charleston talk was about the evolution of my university library’s demand-driven ebooks program, and how we’d just introduced a new demand-driven model. We’d only been running the new model for a month before the Charleston Conference so I didn’t have a lot of data to go on then, but I’d have six months of data by the time my Insights paper deadline came around so I had more of a story to tell.

Because I had to wait until almost the submission deadline to get the six months of data I was planning to use, I wrote the remaining sections and checked the data every couple of weeks to give me an idea of how things were looking. Then I did the final write-up with the updated data about a week before the submission deadline. It wasn’t such a close call as it seems, because I really had most of it written, and I had a pretty good idea how the data was tracking.

Not only is writing a journal article different to putting together a conference paper, this would be my first article in a peer reviewed journal and also the first time working with an editor. It was a great experience, and something I’d encourage anyone to do if you get the chance.

I got my draft off to my editor in early April and we worked on tidying things up a bit and editing some of my charts and tables before it went off for peer review. The reviewed paper came back with some really useful feedback about adding in some more explanation and background at a couple of points, plus an extra explanatory chart.

Some tips I learned along the way for next time, that you might keep in mind too:

  • I should have paid more attention to the Author Guidelines before I started. I spent quite a bit of time getting things into the publisher’s house style after the fact.
  • I created my charts from data in Excel and I should have made working copies and kept them all together as I frequently had to revisit my spreadsheets to update charts and put things like chart labels into the house style.
  • As I only had about 3000 words, I’d removed a lot of detail and some of my early charts and tables from my draft, but the reviewer actually asked for some more detail so I had to put some things back in. So, if you do remove anything along the way, make sure you keep a copy of the earlier drafts.
  • Some of the reviewer’s comments suggested ideas for future work as there wasn’t the space or time to incorporate them all in this paper.
  • A colleague checked and let me know that my article would be in an open access journal and that there were no author publishing fees. As a librarian I should have thought of checking this myself but it never occurred to me!
  • Luckily I’d already organised my ORCID identifier, but you’ll need this if you don’t have one.

The editor did a great job and we exchanged emails fairly regularly over several weeks. As she was in the UK and I’m in Australia, the time difference necessarily added some delays but we got there in the end. There was also a proof reader who came in at the final stages just before publication with a couple more requests for fairly minor changes.

I also think it shows the editor’s craft that, although they helped smooth out my wonky grammar and sometimes idiosyncratic use of vocabulary, it still sounds like I wrote it.

So here it is…

Davies, T., (2017). The evolution of an e-book demand-driven acquisition programme at Swinburne University of Technology. Insights. 30(2), pp.36–43. DOI:

(Another tip for next time: I probably should have thought up a snappier title.)

Willy 2005-2017


We adopted Willy and his little pal Kuma from the Lost Dogs Home on 7 December 2007.

Our old dog Robbie had died in 2006 followed by our second dog Charlie in 2007. We got back from a holiday in December and I was looking at the Lost Dogs Home web site and found two Jack Russelly guys who they were looking to have adopted together. They were pretty sure they hadn’t grown up in the same home but had somehow found each other while roaming the streets and had become inseparable so they were being offered as a set. Perfect! We went straight down and brought them home. I let them out into the garden when we got back and Willy disgraced himself right away by jumping in the fish pond (he always loved water).

We never worked out their back story. Willy was about 2 to 3 years old, and Kuma probably a year younger, when we adopted them so we figure Willy was born in 2005.

They seemed healthy and well looked after but Willy was quite traumatized and it took several years for him to really become comfortable and feel safe. Kuma was relaxed at home but terrified out on the streets, and we took to walking them early in the morning so there were fewer things to be scared of. Over the years they gradually became less scared and more assured, even meeting a few doggy friends on their walks. We met a great dog trainer who helped us through those early couple of years and they even passed their obedience training — possibly because we were the only ones to turn up for the last lesson. Anyway, we have the certificates to prove it.

Everything seemed to happen to Willy. He spent a worrying night at the emergency vet after being poisoned, and then in 2012 he spent two weeks at another animal emergency hospital after eating a peach pip which got stuck and caused serious complications. We really thought he wouldn’t pull through from that, but he did, and in some ways it marked a new beginning. When he got home he seemed much more settled and it was as if he knew that he finally had a home where he was loved, a home forever. The years since then have been pure delight.

Sadly, in February 2016 we found out that Willy had a tumour in his nose. The first biopsy came back negative which was a great relief and he had surgery to remove it, but then further testing showed that it really was cancer and the prognosis wasn’t good. We decided to start on a chemotherapy treatment through 2016. Willy responded really well with mostly minor and occasional side effects. We wondered if he might make it to his adoption anniversary (he did) and then Christmas and New Year (yes and yes!) and then we started quietly wondering if he might magically live for another few months. Every extra day was very special.

Although the treatments were intense, there were only a few days when he wasn’t totally happy, running around, and barking at everything. He was the most talkative dog I’ve ever known, and took on the role of telling off everyone and everything while looking after his pack. Even on his last morning walk he was wagging his tail and full of beans, woofing at cyclists, joggers, other dogs, birds, and hot air balloons. It seemed like a normal day but by the evening he was looking a bit flat and then during the night started having seizures. So in the early morning of Friday last week we had to rush to the animal emergency and say goodbye.

Willy lived happily and well for one year and two months following his diagnosis and every one of those days was a joy. Our home is so quiet and sad with Willy not around to look after us.

Go well, little friend. xx


The last photo, Willy and Kuma together

Casting on

My little knitting blog has been a bit unloved of late and I’ve decided that with the new year it might be time to cast on afresh and see where we end up. Casting on, I think, is always the most exciting part of the knitting adventure. With the Year of the Rooster approaching I also checked my Chinese horoscope to see what it might hold and came away with the rather inscrutable advice that it “is always better to carry a Jade Mandarin Ducks Tassel with you always”. OK.

captureI do have a quite bit of knitting catching up to report on, but I thought I might start with a small project that I call my Charleston socks because (one of them at least) came with me on my travels to South Carolina last November.

It’s been an eventful year workwise and I’d only just been appointed to a new role managing our university library before I headed off to to Charleston where I’d been invited to give a lunchtime talk about ebooks. I used to get horribly nervous speaking in public but I guess like most things it’s just practice and I actually enjoyed it – it got a nice write up here.

When I first got the speaking gig I was hoping I could organise a little stopover or side trip but it all became a bit difficult with last minute bookings so I ended up flying straight through Melbourne to Charleston via Los Angeles and Chicago. I was initially hoping for Qantas but the flight connections through Dallas were pretty tight and the company sponsoring my trip thought United Airlines seemed like a safer option. Sorry United, but I think I’d take my chances on Qantas next time.

capture2The trip started out with the longest checkin line I’ve ever seen and a flight delayed by two hours. Luckily all the other flights were also delayed by two hours so at least I made all my connections, including at Los Angeles which always seems to be in a state of collapse. They really should knock the whole thing down and start again. At Chicago they seemed to have misplaced the plane and we got shunted from gate to gate until they found it. About 32 hours after checking in at Melbourne I fell into my bed in Charleston.

Charleston is a great little city and home to a great library conference, the eponymously named Charleston Conference, which brings together libraries and publishers. It’s not too big and is held at a number of hotels around Marion Square in the centre of town rather than a big conference venue so it feels even more small scale.

socksMy socks are plain old vanilla ones from a pattern by Ann Budd, but I really love the yarn: Schoppel-Wolle Relikt in a tweedy olive green colour. It’s made up of 70% recycled roving from the production of Zauberball but the bright colours of Zauberball become more muted in the recycling process. This is my second pair of sock in this yarn and I love it.

The people from the company that sponsored my talk were lovely and looked after me really well, but it can get a bit lonely when you’re away from home all alone so I’m glad I had my socks along for company.

Neat stitches


Not much (or any actually) knitting going on for the past couple of weeks as I had to have surgery on my hand, and it looks like it will be at least a couple more weeks until I can get back to my projects – of which I have a few!



Tiger Balm Gardens

For the last day of #blogjune we leave London with a short stop in Singapore on the way home to Melbourne.


We left rainy Heathrow via a short stop in Amsterdam before flying home via Singapore where we’d planned a one night stopover at the Hotel New Majestic in Chinatown.


We’d always regretted missing seeing the old Tiger Balm Gardens in Hong Kong, now long demolished and replaced by apartment towers. But then I read that the Singapore Tiger Balm Gardens (correctly, Haw Par Villa) not only still existed but had been restored, so we really had to organise a visit. We took the metro to Haw Par Villa and, dripping with sweat in the humid morning heat, walked up the hill through the old Chinese gateway. What an amazing place!


Haw Par Villa is named after the Aw brothers, who created the medical ointment Tiger Balm.

Built in 1937, Haw Par Villa is famous for its often gruesome depictions of Chinese folklore’s 10 Courts of Hell. But this wonderful theme park also has more, shall we say, tasteful scenes from other Chinese legends, such as Journey to the West and Madame White Snake. Pick your favourite from the over 1,000 colourful statues and tableaux on display, among them a giant gorilla and massive deity heads.

















Pink flamingos

For day 29 of #blogjune we visit a magical garden…


The old Derry & Toms department store on Kensington High Street closed in 1974, being replaced briefly by Biba before its days as a shopping emporium ended. It’s a beautiful art deco building opened in 1930 which thankfully remains, especially so as that means the beautiful roof gardens which opened in 1938 also not only remain but flourish.


The roof gardens are now mostly used for corporate events but if there are no events taking place you can visit this magical place completely free of charge. One morning we arrived at the old side door to Derry & Toms, asked the doorman if we could visit the gardens, signed in (you’ll need photo identification) and took the lift up to the sixth floor.

There are actually three gardens: a Spanish garden looking out over Kensington High Street and the neighbouring former Barkers department store…


The lovely Tudor garden…


And the Woodland garden, complete with resident Pintail ducks and four pink flamingos called Bill, Ben, Splosh and Pecks. There are over 30 different species of trees in the woodland garden, including trees from the original planting over sixty years ago, despite having only a metre of soil in which to grow.







A walk around the East End

For day 28 of #blogjune we head out east…


On the Saturday we met up with Wayne’s friend Pam at Spitalfields Market for a bit of mooching around the markets and record stores in the East End.



We had hoped to have lunch at the Square Pie Shop in Spitalfields but couldn’t find it, so we found a Thai cafe instead.


Then we headed off to the Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood which, being a Saturday, was full of not only hundreds of screaming children but a brass band to boot. Despite the mayhem, it was fun.



We did eventually find the pie shop on our last day in London. Perseverance pays off!


Then on Sunday we met up with Wayne’s friend Sarah who cooked us a fab brunch in her groovy pad (there is no other word) in Camden Town.


A trip to the seaside

For day 27 of #blogjune we go to Brighton

We had originally planned to stay at Virginia Woolf’s garden studio as a base for exploring the area around Brighton, which we had to cancel, but we did still have a day at the seaside by taking the Southern Railway train down to the coast – sustained with a picnic of drinks and sandwiches from the Marks and Spencer food store at Victoria station.

It was cold and gloomy as we left London, but the weather improved with sunshine and bright blue skies. I think I even returned to London a little red from the sun.




After a walk along the pier we headed back into town to the Clifton district where we met Wayne’s friend Lorraine Bowen.

Lorraine is a music teacher, singer and cabaret performer who became famous through being a contestant on Britain’s Got Talent singing the Crumble Song, and being sent through to the semi-final by David Walliams.

Lorraine was lovely and so generous with her time and took us on a tour of parts of Brighton we’d never seen.



Then down to the beach for some excellent chips…


…and ice creams.







For day 26 we arrive in London

What glorious weather greeted us for our week’s stay in London!



We stayed at the Citadines apartment hotel in South Kensington which is a super location – just a short walk to Gloucester Road tube station, and a little further to Kensington Gardens and the museums along the Cromwell Road.


We spent our first couple of days mooching around with a bit of shopping. I bought some new shoes at Lambretta near Carnaby Street…


…and we had to visit Liberty, having watched the reality television show. We didn’t spot anyone from the telly but I did get a Rowan knitting book. Wayne was tempted by a Liberty needlework cushion which they had on display on a reupholstered chair. He asked the sales assistant if he could take a photo of the chair – “You can sit in it if you want!” – at least the staff here weren’t snooty at all unlike some other stores.


We also went to the V&A Museum, and the wonderfully eccentric Sir John Soane’s Museum – no photos permitted but here’s a postcard I bought of Mrs Soane’s dog Fanny.