Sunday 1 July 2012

Penguins, Pelicans & Puffins

Pelicans on the water at Cornelian Bay. 
They don't seem to mind the cold.
Today I had a solid day of birds and books. All of the books were birds. Some of the birds were books.
Being the first Sunday of the month, it was the monthly scooter club ride for our little group T-tag (Tasmania Twist and Go).  The temperature was 5 degrees C and there was a heavy fog especially north of our meeting place at Cornelian Bay along the Derwent River.  Rain was predicted. As usual only two of us turned up, the two die-hards who will ride in any weather.

We rode out to Salmon Ponds which is a heritage fish farming enterprise from the 1800's. They are known for their heated premises, stunning crepes with banana and chocolate with cream and ice cream and a hot cappuccino. (They have a lot of trout too and the occasional platypus.)

Both of us were a bit tired and the cold, although we dressed for it can be a bit distracting. My mate headed for home and I also thought that direction would be desirable.  However I have not been to the tip shop in this rural area in a very long time. I decided to make one more stop.
Travellin' Penguin heads for the books at the
New Norfolk Tip shop closing down sale.

It is easy to describe this tip shop. I always feel like Bette Davis walking into it, just need the long cigarette holder instead of a motorbike jacket, look around and say,  "What a dump!"  It is dusty, dirty, filthy. I sneezed several times as I moved across the cold cement floor to my first stop. First stop was a shopping trolley full of bashed up books. Free books. Had to have a look but didn't think I'd find anything.

I saw a beautiful old hard cover book at the bottom. Reached down and picked up....the cover.  Gorgeous, however the cover was all there was, no book. There was nothing else. Nada, Nil, Zero, Bupkis.

Then to the shelves. First I had to go by the guy at the counter,
"Nice bike love. "  
My reply, "Yes, I like it, It goes right along." 
"Yeah?  She go very fast? "  
"Yeah, it goes fast enough".  
Conversation ended.

I had to laugh as I went past a few teenage girls going through the bookshelves. Lots of Mills and Boons,  books based on very old American 1970's TV shows, and yet another book called, "Rats at War" with a large illustration of rats fighting, carrying little weapons in a field with a barn nearby. I was tempted to buy it and review it for the fun of it but thought, "Nah Love, get outta here."

I laughed as the girls gathered up many of these books excited about the prospect of reading them all.  It is always so interesting to see what people love reading. It was fun.

1956 Pelican Number A 369

Prices are very cheap at the best of times at this tip shop but turns out today was a 75% off everything Closing Down sale. Evidently this dirty old tip shop has had its day and is yet another victim of the Global Financial Crisis or perhaps the developers want this prime piece of real estate.

I had to laugh when I took my rescued birds to the counter. The same guy who liked my bike so much reached for the books, put them down on the counter and then dragged a large calculator in front of him.
He meticulously opened each book, typed in a number, looked at the next book, typed in another number until he got to the last book. He then punched in a few more decimals, I am assuming the - 75% but the process he used seemed very long.  He  hit the off switch, looked up and said,  "Fifty cents love."

I think the original prices were only 10 or 20 cents to start with.  "No worries mate" as I handed over a 50 cent coin and ran the gamut of yet more junk back to the front door to escape into some fresh air.

The ride home along the Derwent River back to Hobart.
Looks cold doesn't it !  It was.
I felt like I wasn't collecting books so much as rescuing birds from a certain death. Everything in this place will no doubt be bull dozed into landfill.  I am happy to report I cleared out anything Penguin produced as a first published before 1970 and they are now here at home, having been cleaned up, put onto warm shelves and will be happily read one day.  No early burial for these guys.

Yes I do anthromorphise my books.  The photos show you what I saved today for my Australian Penguin "archive" I'm trying to develop here.  I feel good. My work is done for the day.

Now off for a hot bath, a cup of coffee and a good book. A newer book, the old Penguins aren't good with water.

If you'd like to see the first published Penguin family books that have been saved and successfully re-homed please scroll down.

1967 Puffin            Number PS 295
1964 Puffin           Number PS 222

1958 Penguin        Number  1275
1964 Penguin           Number 2167
1968 Penguin      Number 2897
1964 Peregrine     Number Y 39

What a find this was!!
1949 Puffin            Number 40
1964 Australian Pelican    Number AU  8

Safely garaged at the end of the day


  1. What a find at that dirty, dusty tip shop! Love the pics of the covers. Some of the stories sound good; some not.

    1. As with all books, some you want to dive into immediately, others you put aside. It was a good day.

  2. You've got an interesting haul of books, and I love the picture of pelicans - I don't think I've ever seen one, even in a zoo. Clochmerle-Babylon is very funny - I have the same edition. And I've got Glencoe, which made me sad and angry: all that senseless, wicked slaughter. You come across references to it in novels, along with tales of the enmity between the Campbells and the MacDonalds, and this book explains it all.

  3. I have heard references to the Campbells and the MacDonalds even as a child in America. I do not know the e.ntire story but agree with you about the sadness of the slaughter. Thank you for your comments. I will try to get you a close up photo of a pelican sometime. They look positively prehistoric. Large birds!

  4. I think The Humpy in the Hills sounds interesting. What an odd title.

  5. Lovely pics you've got there! Especially the pelicans, although I think puffins are more adorable looking. And the Salmon Pond looks such a serene place. It would be lovely to settle down on one of the benches there with a good book. Glad you managed to save some of those birds from the dusty, dirty shop. So amusing to read about how the guy at the counter was so busy computing the grand total sales figures of fifty cents! :p

  6. I love Puffins. I have never seen one in the wild. They are so unusual. The Salmon Ponds is a beautiful place. We have had Christmas picnics there twice in the past. Gorgeous especially in summer. The guy at the counter was very funny with his calculator. He was very serious about his work. Thanks for your comments Michelle. I really enjoyed them. Pam

  7. "and they are now here at home, having been cleaned up, put onto warm shelves..."
    Can you elaborate your cleaning up process? I can imagine some of them can have that dingy, basement smell which would be hard to air out.
    Enjoying your blog.

    1. Thank you Scott for your comment. I don't do a lot to clean them up but I usually will pick off any old browned tape and I also have a very fine piece of sandpaper that I rub along the book edge (when closed) as it brightens up the sides if dirty and cleans it a bit. Can't do much to covers b/c the paper is too fragile. I have been known to put a bit of glue along the spines to strengthen them a bit. As for the smell I don't have too much problem with that. I know there is an oil (just don't know the name) you can put in a bag on a tissue or cotton wad and put book in with it but have not tried that. I suppose tea tree oil might work with hat. And I always flip through the pages to see if I find any little treasures such as bookmarks, cards or notes. I think the process of cleaning up an old forgotten book is quite soothing. All the best, Pam


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