Category Archives: History

The Romanovs

I have just finished reading two fantastic books

and both were related to the Romanov family.

The one I’ve very recently finished was called, “Romanov”

and was written by Nadine Brandes.

(I have loved all of Nadine’s books).

“Romanov” is a mix between fiction, fact and fantasy.

The story starts with the Romanovs imprisoned in Tobolsk

and progresses very quickly to Ekaterinburg.

Within the story, there are mystical magical elements

that relate quite nicely to the cultural background.

As things are ‘wrapping up’ in Ekaterinbrug,

(I won’t spoil the ending for you, if you don’t know the Romanov story),

the author has you part ways with the factual account

and what you are expecting,

and takes you deeper into the mystical with a truly fictionalised ending.

At first I was confused when this happened,

but, I assure you, it was worth continuing.

I really liked the ending.

And, as with all of Nadine’s books,

there’s a very strong Christian theme running throughout.

This book focuses on loving your enemy

and I would say forgiveness as well.

I really enjoyed this book.


However, I think I particularly enjoyed the book

because I was familiar with the history of the Romanov family.

I’m not sure I would have appreciated it quite so much without knowing a little of the history beforehand.

I actually think Nadine gave a rather glossy impression of the family

but perhaps that’s part of Nadine’s lesson for us – giving them grace and forgiveness.

For a really good book about the history of the Romanovs,

you can’t go past Candace Fleming’s book, “The Family Romanov”.

I read this aloud with my boys and it’s edge-of-the-seat reading.

Candace paints a more sombre, perhaps closer to the truth view of the family and events surrounding them.

The book starts at the beginning of Nicholas Romanov’s story,

before Nicholas was the Tsar and before he was married.

Candace also describes how the Tsars and nobility lived,

and contrasts it with stories of how the peasants lived.

Of coures, these two groups eventually clash and Candace relates how the country unraveled into revolution.

The infamous Rasputin and his interactions with the Romanov family is also included.

You can’t have the Romanov story without this man.

The last section of the book tells of Nicholas’ abdication

and the family’s imprisonment in Siberia.

And of course I can’t tell you the ending,

but my boys were shocked and not expecting it.

This story, and the book that tells it, is fascinating.

Well written history is always a delight.


So, if you are interested in the Romanov story,

read Candace Fleming’s book, “The Family Romanov”,

and if you need a happier ending

follow it up with Nadine’s book, “Romanov”.

Both were wonderful books to read.

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Posted by on August 1, 2019 in History, My Library


Chernobyl Book

We have just finished reading a really interesting book.

It was called ‘Radiant Girl’ and the story revolved around the Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine.


The story starts out just before the accident and continues through to the relocation of the citizens and their adjustment afterwards.

Yes, the book is fictional but it’s liberally dosed with factual content; the content is even footnoted.

Books like these are a great jumping off point into a new topic.

Since starting this book, we’ve watched a number of documentaries about the disaster

and have also started reading the book, “Chernobyl Prayers”, which is full of eyewitness accounts and experiences.


If you have problems with magical content, then ‘Radiant Girl’ might not be for you.

It features, at times, a house elf who is kind of key to the story.

However, we quite liked hearing about the mythology of that part of the world.

The book also includes scenes and discussions about boyfriends, but it’s fairly innocuous stuff.

If you can peel back the bits and bobs you may dislike,

underneath is a fascinating story.

For us, the story has opened up a whole new rabbit trail to follow.

I love when that happens.



Posted by on July 31, 2019 in History, My Library


Back to Canberra to Visit Rome

When planning our holiday,

we noticed that the National Museum of Australia in Canberra

was hosting an exhibition about Rome – “Rome: City and Empire”.

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However, it was starting AFTER we’d visited Canberra.  😦

But, never fear.

We made a way to make it happen.

On our way back home,

we simply stopped in Canberra.

Although we skipped the dodgy motel

that we stayed in last time,

and, instead, stayed in another differently dodgy motel.

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(They only had internet in the foyer

– who wants to sit in the foyer to use the internet! –

and they only had a handful of carparks for the WHOLE motel!)

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However, the exhibition was well worth returning for.

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And we were delighted to discover that they had an audio tour.

We love tours!

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The exhibition space was huge

(compared to what we are used to in Brisbane)

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and the exhibits were amazing.

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I loved all the quotes around the walls.

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Did you know that only men with full Roman citizenship wore the toga?

(The head of this statue does not belong with the body of this statue.

Even the Romans recycled!)

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Before the age of facelifts and Botox,

the emperors had to make sure

that at least their statues and busts looked good.

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Their images also acted as propaganda.

This head depicts Emperor Commodus.

His head looks ‘ageless and wise’,

(well that’s what the plaque said;

I thought the eyes made him look creepy)

yet Commodus was cruel and horrible.

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All of Augustus’ portraits

depicted him at 30 years of age,

even though he lived to be 77.

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I enjoyed checking out the different hairdos

on the female heads.

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There were stacks of gods and goddesses

depicted at the exhibition.

This is Fortuna.

You kept her happy if you wanted a desirable fate and a huge fortune.

To have this goddess abandon you,

would be disastrous.

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People also had figures of these pagan deities

in their homes.

Keeping all of these ‘gods’ happy,

must have been quite a challenge.

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If you wanted to test out your Latin skills,

there were plenty of opportunities at the exhibition.

Here’s a little something to get your started.

It’s a diploma of citizenship

that was given to a retiring soldier.

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Yes, there were a few exhibits about gladiators

but not a huge amount,

which was nice.

Too often, that’s all people know about the Roman empire.

This relief shows two female gladiators,

which were not rare,

but still a bit of a novelty.

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I liked looking at all the day to day items,

like this skin scraper and oil flask.

When people went to the Roman baths,

they would exercise and then go to the heated baths.

There they would be rubbed with oil

and scraped down to remove both the oil and the dirt.

Afterwards, they took a cold bath

to close their pores.

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Check out the decorations on the scraper.

Would we, in the modern world,

bother with ‘mere decoration’

for a simple tool that scraped gunk off us?

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And, this is a theatre ticket!!

One of these isn’t going to fit well into your purse or wallet.

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This is a ‘bulla’,

an amulet worn by children until their sixteen birthday.

It supposedly protected the child from evil spirits.

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There were a couple of lovely mosaics.

Imagine your floors covered with these mosaics.

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Okay, probably not what I would want on my floors either,

but, I still appreciate the work that went into creating them.

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I prefer this mosaic though-

cupids riding dolphins.

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I particularly appreciated the exhibits

that depicted Christian symbols and images.

This plaque contains the Chi-Rho symbol,

which symbolises the first two letters of Christ’s name.

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These spoons also contain Christian symbols and messages.

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This one says, “Vivas in Deo”,

which means, “May you live in God”.

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Have you ever heard of denarii?

It’s a form of Roman currency

that you might have read in the Bible.

This is what denarii looked like…

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Did you know that the Roman statues

weren’t white like the statues we see today?

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They were actually brightly coloured.

Hopefully not as brightly coloured as the statue

that the boys coloured.

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There were so many fascinating exhibits to explore.

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In fact, if this exhibition ever travels to Brisbane,

we”ll probably visit it again.

We liked it that much.

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The Murray River and a Submarine

Whenever we had a whole day of driving ahead of us,

I always made sure to find a few little interesting places to visit

…merely so we had an excuse to get out of the car and walk around.

So, when we crossed the Murray River,

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I declared that we HAD to walk along the Murray River.

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I claimed that it was an important river

(and it is),

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and that we should mark the occasion of crossing the river

with a little walk and visit.

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My family thought I was mad,

but, at the same time,

it was nice to be out of the car.

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Our next little stop was in Holbrook,

 where we found a submarine

…although the town is nowhere near the sea or ocean.

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The submarine was in the middle of their town park.

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There was a great story to this submarine,

and we’d know the story

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if we hadn’t found this note on the museum door!

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Okay, well, despite being frustrated,

we did track down the story.

This little town used to be called, “Germanton”,

but, during WW1, this wasn’t a popular name.

The townspeople wanted a name change,

so they adopted the more patriotic name of Holbrook

after Lieutenant Holbrook,

who was the first submariner

to receive a Victorian Cross.

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He and his crew,

after being shot at,

almost running out of power,

and staying under water longer than was safe,

had penetrated rows of sea mines in the Dardanelles,

to sink a Turkish battleship.

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Hence, the installation of the above water section

of a submarine, the HMAS Otway, in the town park.

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After we left Holbrook,

Google Maps took us on another little off-road excursion.

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Okay, well it was partly hubby’s fault too.

He wanted to take a scenic detour

and he took the turn off

before I could google how much longer

the ‘little’ detour would add to our drive.

Three hours turned out to be a detour

that no one wanted to take,

so Google Maps took us,

via whoop-whoop,

back to the highway.

This is what whoop-whoop looked like.

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Our road improved slightly

and then some cows were added to make things interesting.

Never a dull day of driving.

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But, we eventually arrived in Canberra

and our new-to-us accommodations.

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