The Lagoon at Lady Elliot Island on the Great Barrier Reef

Welcome back to Lady Elliot Island, a coral quay on The Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia. The Barrier Reef, as everyone knows, is the mighty reef down which Nemo’s dad swam to find his fish-napped little son.

We flew here with BeeBear (read all about it here) and walked around exploring (read it here.)

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But what do you really want to see at a coral lagoon? The lagoon of course! The glass bottomed boats leave from the beach at the end of the runway that runs through the middle of the island (see aerial view.) Almost all the trees you see here, by the way, have been planted in the past 30 years during the patient restoration process – it had been stripped down for the guano in the years before that.

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Looking back from the boat at nearly high tide, you can see how clear the lagoon water is. Those buildings on the far left of the photo below are some cabins of the Eco Resort. We were in one of them. See how close they are to the sea. We stayed in one of those. They are not fancy because this is a low-impact eco resort.

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Our glass bottomed boat took us further out to just above the main reef where the water gets more blue and you can see the whole island from here.  Out and out we went. In the deeper water above the reef we tourists went snorkling with the boat crew keeping on eye on us so we felt quite safe. The staff on Lady Elliot Island must have the best job in Australia, in the world.

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We saw all kinds of fish and a huge groper and even briefly saw a manta ray.  A large green turtle came up from under a coral shelf right in front of me. It was one of those moments that stay in your mind forever.  I have no pictures – didn’t have that kind of camera. Besides while you are down there, you just want to experience the moments fully, right there, as you are.

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And what of the coral? The coral is not easy to see in the deeper water especially as the swell builds, and from the boat itself this is about all you can make out (below). The startling blues of the starfish are clearly visible though. We saw lots of coral at low tide and I will show you that later.

Don’t worry, I won’t leave you without any photos at all of the wonderful animals in the lagoon, for once back on shore we saw this little fella. He was just turtling along right among the people! It is after all, a turtle’s home, not peoples’ home.

” I’m just a turtle,
Turtling along,
A happy green turtle,
Burbling a song…”

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We settled on a deck chair as evening fell. Would the big female loggerhead turtles clamber up this very beach in the night? Yes, they did! But that’s for another post.

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You are at Baffled Bear Books, the blog by Mark O’Dwyer, guardian of
Mawson, Writer Bear of It’s A Bright World To Feel Lost In. 

Emma of FNM Book Reviews said of  Bright World, “Comforting, like an old security blanket”.  

Slow Life on Lady Elliot Island, Queensland, Australia

Hope you enjoyed reading of BeeBear’s adventurous journey to Lady Elliot Island, the southern most coral quay on the Barrier Reef.

We settled into the cabin and stepped out on to our little veranda just 50 metres from the beach by the lagoon. The tide was half out. Later, we joined a guided reef walk at low tide. Snorkelling is only allowed at high tide.

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Overhanging our veranda were our closest neighbours: a few hundred of the thousands of quarrelling birds here to nest in November. This kind of high density living would make anyone quarrelsome! Birds that usually nest in the sand taken to the trees due to lack of ground space. Every pandanus tree branch is weighed down with occupants. The noise is constant. The staff kindly leave ear plugs in the cabins so that people can sleep at night. More about the birds later.

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What does everyone want to do on their first day on a tropical island? Explore! We collected the essentials for Brave Explorers: strong shoes, hats, sunnies, water bottles, and we were ready. Oops, nearly forgot the SLR camera.

For most of our explorations we saw few other people. There are at most 160 people staying and working here. This is done deliberately to keep down the impact of we humans on the wildlife. Of course, they are all doing things too like swimming, snorkelling, going out in the glass bottom boats, or just lazing on their cabin verandas.

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Some way around the shore we came upon a stretch of coarse sand. Here we could lurch along reasonably well, sinking into the whiteness.

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But long stretches are a difficult scramble between the sea and sharp coral on one side and lumpy rocks on the other. The coconut here was washed ashore from elsewhere. There are no coconut trees here.

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Between the trees that begin just up from the rocks and sand the nesting turtles were digging nesting holes at night. The staff teams go around each morning to count and inspect them. We hoped to see some later.

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If you look at the map BeeBear is showing her friends (above), you can see a compass (or steering helm) symbol at the top. The lighthouse is up there. It’s keepers were the island’s only occupants for many years.

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Over the next two days we took a reef walk, went snorkelling in the lagoon, and looked for turtles. More about that in future posts. For now let’s try to ignore those raucous birds and loll about on this coral quay looking toward the sunset.

Mark, your host at Baffled Bear Books, is guardian and blundering typist for Mawson, one of this bright world’s few published bears.

Of Mawson’s first book, It’s A Bright World To Feel Lost In, a reviewer said, ‘Reading this book is like receiving a great big hug of reassurance and a huge hot chocolate with fluffy marshmallows.’

BeeBear Flies to Lady Elliot Island on The Great Barrier Reef

Lady Elliot Island is a coral quay on the south end of The Great Barrier Reef. The tiny island has featured on an episode of David Attenborough’s TV series, Great Barrier Reef  not only because of the bird life, turtles and manta rays there but also because it is a conservation success story.

Some time ago (when BeeBears could still travel on holidays) our BeeBear spent two amazing days and nights there. Naturally, she is bursting to talk all about it to the birds of Mawson’s house and to Tammy Turtle and to YOU.

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Where is Lady Elliot Island? Zoom in on a map of Australia. Find Queensland. On the east coast of Queensland, you can see a large island, Fraser Island  which is the largest sand island in the world. Lady Elliot Island lies north of Fraser Island. Just to get there was an adventure. First, BeeBear (and her people) flew ALL DAY from Perth in Western Australia to Brisbane in Queensland in Boeing 737 (comfort and movies) then on a turbo prop aircraft to Hervey Bay (lots of shaking and rattling. Sandwiches). Then the planes got even smaller. We hoped none would shrink too small to carry a small bear.

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We flew out on a Beechcraft B 200 from Hervey Bay and returned on a Cesna 210 Centurion.  As an experienced aviator herself, Beebear helped to oversee the control thingygums. 

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Our flight from the coastal town of  Hervey Bay to Lady Elliot Island took 80 minutes. We headed out over the sea and then northerly between the mainland and Fraser Island, the big one in the distance (below). If you zoom in on the photo above you can see the navigating thingygum. It shows our position and the red line shows our flight path. 

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Beyond Fraser Island is The Pacific Ocean where the turtles roam for years on the currents after laying their eggs on Lady Elliot and many other islands of The Reef. 

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The colours and swirls and patterns of coastal seas are just too blue for words. And these pics were taken through slightly fuzzy perspex windows so in fact they looked even bluer. We flew past Fraser Island and had a good view of the little islands and sand banks too.

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See that little island in the foreground of the picture above? Imagine an island like that all for oneself.  Our BeeBear thought it just about the right size for a a small-winged bear to settle down on. She would just sit there in the shade by the sand all day simply being  stunned by the colours of the sea. Cyclones could be a bother though.

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Thar she blows! Lady Elliot Island hoves into sight (above). You can see the main coral reef  where the deep dark blue ocean is breaking to white tops (and you can compare with the picture on the brochure at the top of the post). Within the reef lies the lagoon. You can do reef walks at low tide and snorkel there at high tide. You see green turtles and reef sharks and all kinds of starfish and fish and lots of coral. The island is so small that, as you can see, the airstrip goes right across the middle, one side to the other.

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If you look through the blur of the propellor (above) you can see two bands of blue at the end of the landing strip? That’s the lagoon, and after the lagoon the dark deep blue of the Pacific Ocean.  We were to see turtles right there where the  runway strip ends. 

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And there is the Eco Resort on Lady Elliot Island. It’s deliberately low key and low impact. The staff are very involved in caring for the island. They plant trees and count the birds nests and the turtle nests and inform visitors about the wonders of the island.  

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The island was actually a conservation disaster until some decades ago, and since then it has been restored tree by tree. More about Lady Elliot Island in the next post when we go for a walk and enjoy the Slow Life.

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Mark is guardian and blundering typist for Mawson, one of this bright world’s few published bears. Of Mawson’s first book, ‘It’s A Bright World To Feel Lost In’, a reviewer said, ‘Reading this book is like receiving a great big hug of reassurance and a huge hot chocolate with fluffy marshmallows.’

Some of the best philosophers are bears: Introducing Mawson Bear

Here is some of the text of an interview by Rachel Nightingale, author of the Tales of Tarya, of Mark, Mawson Bear’s Guardian.

Mawson is the proud author of It’s a bright world to feel lost in, published by Publisher Obscura. This is a beautiful philosophical book in the vein of The blue day book by Bradley Trevor Grieve. It is the perfect sort of book to buy as a stocking stuffer or Kris Kringle for someone who likes to muse about life, and who hasn’t lost their sense of whimsy. Mawson ‘s second book is She Ran Away From Love.’

Which writer or writers opened your eyes to the magic of storytelling and why?

‘When young I devoured books by many authors but when it comes to the magic they brought me, I will list those by C.S Lewis (Narnia), Issac Asimov (Sci Fi), and Rosemary Sutcliffe (historical fiction).’

Like most readers, what I sought was to be transported from this world.  With these writers I could be in Norman England winning back a castle during a school break, in the woods of Narnia on a rainy Sunday, or fleeing rogue robots during a long car ride.

What is your greatest magical power as a writer?

‘Shyly he says, ‘I listen to the bears’.

Poets, actors, composers, painters, ‘artistic people’, all speak reluctantly about the heart of creativity. They proffer vague expressions like ‘feeling inspired’, ‘being guided’, ‘trusting the muse’, ‘entering into the role’. What does this mean? I think it’s about listening for ‘something’. Now, this ‘something’ cannot not be analysed or modelled on a flow chart. It’s very shy, and it needs to trust you to respect it. I think the greatest magical power of a writer is to gently –don’t startle it –gently reach out for this ‘something’, gain it’s trust; and then to let characters and story flow on from there.

I listen to my bears. I never know when I’ll hear in a voice as quiet as can be imagined the best ponders framed in the best words; and these are ideas and words that I myself did not have in mind, really I didn’t. When I don’t listen but just grind on, my writing is not right: the voice feels wrong, the images don’t flow, and it is not satisfying’.

For the rest of the interview please visit Rachel Nightingale’s website.

While you are there be sure to read more about the books by this novelist, playright, performer and thespian. Rachel ponders much about the power of story and fantasy in our lives. At her website you can learn more about the Commedia dell’Arte, an inspiration for The Tales of Tarya.

My review of The Harlequins Riddle, the first of those tales, is right here. Columbine’s Tale, Book two of the series, and Book Three, Pierrots’ Song are also out now, published by  Odyssey Books.

The Tales of Tarya is now available at Amazon as a complete Kindle Set!

You are at Mark’s blog called Baffled Bear Books. Mark is a bibliophile, dark coffee tragic, and the guardian and blundering typist for Mawson Bear,  one of this bright world’s few published bears.

‘Chekov’s Three Sisters Would Have Got To Moscow’. Notes on Georgette Heyer

The Tedettes Jane Austen Book Club are now engrossed in the novels of the Queen of Regency Romance, Georgette Heyer. They have learned more about their heroine from Jane Aiken Hodges biography. It’s called The Private World of Georgette Heyer (Quotes from the Chivers 1984 edition).

Hodge’s Foreword: “She was .. an immensely skilled and meticulous craftswoman. She did her best to conceal her high standards and stern moral code behind the mask of romantic comedy.”

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Engrossed in the regency novels of Georgette Heyer

Plots and technique

(From Hodges, Chapter 2). Heyer once said, “My plots are abysmal and I think of them with blood and tears”. Her family confirm she did indeed work at her plots with blood and tears .. plunged in black gloom when things went badly, prowling restlessly about the house until she had her plan worked out, when she would sit down and write … at high speed, often late into the night. Heyer said of her own work in one letter to her publisher:

“ … The Unknown Ajax and Venetia are the best of my later works. My style is really a mixture of Johnson and Austen – what I rely on is a certain gift for the farcial … I know its useless to talk about technique in these degenerate days – but no less a technician than Noel Coward reads me because he thinks my technique is so good. I’m proud of that.”

(From Chapter 8) She kept a single fan letter, received in 1963 from former political prisoner in Romania. The writer spoke of how she had read Friday’s Child before her arrest, and for 12 long years had told and retold the story, committed to memory, of “what Kitten did next” to her fellow inmates.

“Truly, your characters managed to awaken smiles, even when hearts were heavy, stomachs empty and the future dark indeed”.

Praise that would astonish any writer.

Much in Hodge’s biography is of technical interest to writers: Heyer’s dealing with her several publishers and agents, and her views about the blurbs and jackets. There is a lesson too in reading about Heyer’s decades-long tax problems. Even though she always earned a lot she had cash flow problems. These mangled finances were caused by herself and her husband simply not taking a business-like approach to her income.

The Tedettes leave you with their favourite observation from Hodge’s biography:

“She had no patience for .. Russian gloom. If she had been one of Chekhov’s three sisters they would have got to Moscow.”

The Tedettes first looked at Hodge’s biography here, and then read about Heyer’s hero’s here.

This book and more about Miss Heyer the writer can be found at AbeBooks.com, Amazon, and BookDepository. Thanks for joining the Teddettes as they explore the Regency world of Georgette Heyer.

You are at Mark’s blog called Baffled Bear Books. Mark is a dark coffee tragic and bibliophile as well as the Guardian and blundering typist for Mawson Bear, Ponderer of Baffling Things and one of this bright world’s few published bears.

Often A Bounder: The Tedette’s Jane Austen Book Club reads about Georgette Heyer’s Heroes

Thrilled by Jane Austen’s novels, the Tedettes Jane Austen Book Club looked about for more books on the Regency. Their house (like every house, surely) turned out to be a treasure trove of novels by Georgette Heyer.  They also got their paws on Jane Aiken Hodges biography,  The Private World of Georgette Heyer  (Chivers 1984 edition). Read about their discovery here.

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The Tedettes get their paws on a trove of Georgette Heyer Novels

Heroes

Georgette Heyer created her heroes very deliberately.  In correspondence with her publishers she gleefully refers to them in a private shorthand by Type, explaining for instance that a particular character is the “The Heyer Mark I” and another is “The Heyer Mark II” and so on.  She’d skilfully build up such a Type, and the readers’ conceptions of such a man,  and then two or three novels later, turn around the readers’ assumption by changing the decisions and actions of the Hero.

Mr Rochester: the prototype.

Jane Aiken Hodge found unpublished articles by Heyer, one of which will fascinate her readers (see Ch. 5 of the bio) as it concerns Mr Rochester, from Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. This is Heyer’s own view of Mr Rochester:

“It is a accepted fact that women form the bulk of the novel reading public and what woman with romantic leanings wants to read novels which have as their heroes the sort of men she meets every day of her mundane life. (Mr Rochester) is rude, overbearing, and often a bounder, but these blemishes, however repulsive they may be in real life, can be made in the hands of a skilled novelist extremely attractive to many women.”

How ‘Fluffy’ was the Romance, really?

Hodge makes the case that underneath the entertaining friction and tension of her heroes and heroines lies an abiding principle: the protagonists are maturing through the pages into a rich and full relationship .

 Heyer’s idea of romance never ends with “happily married”.  Many of her characters get married off early in the book.  It is the story of their growing mutual respect and understanding afterwards that interests the writer,  and this must be the feature that kept – and still keeps – millions of readers coming back for more.

Antonia Byatt, in an article in Nova, stated,

” (Heyer) is playing romantic games with the novel of manners. In her world of romanticised anti romanticism … men and women really talk to each other … and plan to spend the rest of their lives together developing the relationships”.

In the Tedettes next post they will look at Georgette Heyer’s writing style.

This book and more about Georgette Heyer are at  AbeBooks.com, Amazon, and BookDepository. Thanks for joining the Teddettes as they explore the Regency world of Georgette Heyer. Next they consider points about Heyer’s methods and style.

AbeBooks. Thousands of booksellers - millions of books.

You are at Mark’s blog called Baffled Bear Books. Mark is a dark coffee tragic and bibliophile as well as the Guardian and blundering typist for Mawson Bear, Ponderer of Baffling Things and one of this bright world’s few published bears.

The Tedette’s Jane Austen Book Club reads: The Private World of Georgette Heyer, by Jane Aiken Hodge

Considered queen of the Regency romance, Georgette Heyer is one of the most beloved historical novelists of our time. As Hodge states in the Foreword of her biography: “She gave her name to a recognisable genre of fiction”.

Thrilled by Jane Austen’s books, the Tedettes looked about for more Regency novels. They’ve now got their paws on Chivers 1984 edition of The Private World of Georgette Heyer

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(From Hodges’ Foreword) “From none of the 51 titles in print when she died would you guess (Heyer) spent the early years of her married life (to Ronald Rougier) in rough camps first in Tanganyika then in Macedonia. But she recognised this for experience she could not use. No heroine of hers would ever sit in a grass hut writing a novel”.

“A best seller all her life without the aid of publicity, Heyer never gave an interview and only answered fan letters herself it they had made an interesting historical point.”

The biographer had access to private papers, correspondence and family archives. Hodge details the research Heyer applied to her period and the skill and craft that went into her characters.  Yet for most of her career, she was dismissed as a light romantic.

Hodge’s overriding theme is well expressed, I think, in this observation: ” If anyone could make the romantic novel respectable it should have been G. Heyer, unacknowledged moralist and stylist extraordinary. It did not happen in her lifetime and she minded, silently .. (yet) .. She gave an immense amount of pleasure to all kinds of people, and must have known she did.”

This book and more about Ms Heyer are at AbeBooks.com, Amazon, and BookDepository. Thanks for joining the Teddettes as they explore the Regency world of Georgette Heyer. Our next post is about the Heyer Heroes.    and you might also like to read about Heyer’s style, researches and writing.

The Tedettes have also read up on Jane Austen of course. You might like to read about Lady Susan and Two Hundred Years of Reading Pleasure.  You can see more of the Tedettes over at Mawson Bear’s own blob, umm, blog.
AbeBooks. Thousands of booksellers - millions of books.

You are at Mark’s blog called Baffled Bear Books. Mark is a dark coffee tragic and bibliophile as well as the Guardian and blundering typist for Mawson Bear, Ponderer of Baffling Things and one of this bright world’s few published bears.

Choking the Ocean: A Bear Wouldn’t Do That

Professor Cadbeary reads on about the plague of plastics in the ocean.

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“That’s a dreadful LOT of this plastic stuff”.

 

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News in ABC.com.au, Science, by Genelle Weule, updated 28 Feb 2017

“But didn’t they realise it would all go down into the ocean?”

 

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“We bears wouldn’t do this. Plastics taste awful”.

More Things These Bears Would Not Do: Plastics, Yuk , Not These Bears, ,  Climate Change x 170.

You are in the blog of  ” A Bear Wouldn’t Do That” by Mark O’Dwyer. Sources in “A Bear Wouldn’t Do That’ are acknowledged.

A Bear Wouldn’t Do That: Plastics, Yuk.

Mawson’s Guardian says:

There are all kinds of things that your bear and mine would never do. Sadly, they are things that People do anyway.

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Our Professor Cadbury Bear, Gustave and Bomund look at the news when no-one is looking. And too often the things they see are things they wish they hadn’t.

Here Professor Caddy stumbles on news about the Artic.

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Prof Caddy reading about marine life being killed by plastic pollution in the Artic

“That much plastic pollution? THAT much? Even in the Arctic?”

 

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(News in ABC dot com.au by Anne Barker, updated 10 Feb 2018)

“Oh no. It’s really, really bad”.

 

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“We bears wouldn’t do that. We don’t even use plastic”.

 

 ‘ A Bear Wouldn’t Do That’ by Mark O’Dwyer. All sources are acknowledged.

Climate Change: A Bear Wouldn’t Do That

Professor Caddy was  looking at the news one day, as bears do when no one is about. She was puzzled.

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“How completely baffling”

 

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Article in The ABC News 13 February 2017

 

“However did they manage to do that?”

 

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“It wasn’t us bears who did it. We can’t even count to 170. “.

 ‘ A Bear Wouldn’t Do That’ by Mark O’Dwyer. All sources are acknowledged.

A Bear Wouldn’t Do That. Oh, no, not these bears

Meet Professor Cadbeary (Caddy), and her friends Gustave and Bomund. These brave bears are prepared to read about some of the awful things that People do.

It’s a miserable job for any bear, but someone has to do it.

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Professor Cadbeary, Gustave and Bomund steel themselves to read the news.

Here at ‘A Bear Wouldn’t Do That’, our trio are bewildered that anyone would imprison refugee kids or pollute the ocean with plastics or heat it up until fellow bears have no ice floes and the dolphins are dying from the parasites multiplying inside them … among other awful things.

Most of the articles studied by Gustav, Prof Caddy and Bomund are published by the Australian Broadcasting Commission and The Guardian Australia, publications brave enough to report the unbearable.

In future posts Cadbeary,  Bomund and Gustav will highlight some of the things that bears would never do. And some things that are so good that bears would do them too.

This blog ‘ A Bear Wouldn’t Do That’ is by Mark O’Dwyer, Perth, Australia.  Mark would not do these things either.

 

Who is this Writer-Bear named Mawson? He is a pondering author for our befuddled times

Do you sometimes feel a bit muddled about, well, Things ?

Sometimes rather ruffled when Things just go and, well, Happen ?

Sometimes feel confused one moment and completely baffled the next?

Listen to the quiet

It’s not easy being Grownup. All this business of having to be sophisticated and industrious all day long! It just wears you down. But when you arrive in Mawson’s cosy world, the frazzled reader can flop down among the cushions and relax.

Here you can find the answers to just about nothing at all. You can forget you ever had questions anyway.

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Mawson and his friends are befuddled about most things most of the time – just like so many of us. And that’s all right.

She Ran Away From Love, the latest book by Mawson, is all about his friend Frilly feeling hopelessly baffled by Big Questions.

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‘A brilliant children’s picture book that does well to pick you up from a bad day. Writing about love, dreams, happiness, and finding your own identity is all found within this short happy book.‘ Review on Amazon UK.

And in his first book, It’s A Bright World To Feel Lost In , Mawson attempts to put into words that mysterious feeling of Feeling Lost.

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It’s A Bright World To Feel Lost In” is a book about optimism, searching for new adventures and making the most of life and love’. Review on GoodReads by Debbie Young, author of the Sophie Sayer Mysteries.

Our publisher is OdysseyBooks where you can find fun and beautiful books with pictures for grownups.

You are at Mark’s blog, Baffled Bear Books. Mark is guardian and hapless typist for Mawson Bear, Ponderer of Baffling Things and one of this bright world’s few published bears. Baffled Bear Books ABN: 4787910119