WOMAD NZ: The days were just packed! WPC

The World Of Music and Dance is held in March each year. Peter Gabrielle started this kind of festival in Britain 35 years ago. The friendliness of the local people, this venue in New Zealand as well as the line-up,  have made it a repeated success since 2003. It attracts big crowds.

Here’s the main stage “The Bowl” in Pukekura Park, New Plymouth.


And just a few of the 20+ performances I attended –  Continue reading


Taking The Road

This week’s photo challenge is to show something that surprised or delighted me on the road taken.

(I do need to acknowledge the patience of friends & family when we’re driving along, & I suddenly call out from the backseat, “Stop! I need to take a photo.”)


In some traditional tales, taking to the road to seek their fortune was often the only way folk could solve their troubles.

In Norroway, long ago, there lived a widow and three daughters who were so poor that they barely had enough to keep body and soul together. One morning the eldest came to her mother and said, “Bake me a bannock and roast me a collop for I’m going to seek my fortune.”

Continue reading

Just a Whisker


“He came back from the war a changed man. I don’t know what to do. He hardly speaks to me. He doesn’t listen. He’s angry all the time … hardly touches what I cook. When he storms out of the house for no reason, I don’t know where he goes.”


There’s an old story from Korea, where a young woman describes her husband thus. In desperation, she travels to a distant mountain to get help from a famous hermit who has a reputation for magic potions that work. She truly wants her husband back to the gentle, loving man he used to be.

Everyone needs potions! Can we cure a sick world with potions?” the hermit declared.

However,  he listened to her complaints and offered to make such a brew, provided she supplied one essential ingredient – the whisker of a living tiger! The woman gasped and shook her head. She had always been afraid of tigers.

After many months she overcame her fears, persisting with her task. Night after night, she brought food to a tiger that lived near her village. She was able to get closer and closer to that wild creature. She always spoke gently to him and never reproached him. She gained the tiger’s confidence till she was able to rub his head and smile with him. He didn’t even notice when one moonlight night, she finally snipped off one whisker.


When she gave the hermit that whisker, he inspected it and then tossed it into the fire. The woman cried out that now she had lost that which she held most dear …  the love of her husband…  it all had been for nothing.

When she was quiet and while the fire crackled, the old hermit replied,

Is a man less responsive to kindness and understanding? If you can win the affection and trust of a wild and bloodthirsty animal with gentleness and patience, surely you can do the same with your husband.”


All photos and text by Meg (except quotes highlighted in italics).

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


I’ve read this story in many folktale compilations. Here, I have abridged the tale and quoted text  from this version –

CROSSLEY-HOLLAND, Kevin (ed.) “The Tiger’s Whisker” in The Young Oxford Book of Folk Tales. Oxford, OUP, 1998: 15-18.

There are many other versions available on the www.






Mother of the ANZACs


… In the darkened world of warfare, a bright and shining flame, She was mother, sister, sweetheart to them all.”

 These words were in a song Dermot sang at our local folkclub recently. He’d written it about an Australian, Annie Wheeler during World War 1. I was drawn to the story. Who was this woman?

During the Great War, a century ago, any mail simply addressed to “Mrs Wheeler, Mother of the ANZACs, London” was delivered to her door in Westminster Gardens. One Xmas her daughter recalled, the mail that had arrived from Australia was 3 feet deep all through their flat!

A widow in her 40s, she had sailed from Australia with her daughter in 1913, in order to finish Portia’s education in England. When the war broke out in 1914 they couldn’t return, so Annie Wheeler worked as a nurse and then took the initiative to become a ‘hub’ of news and support for Australian soldiers, between England and Central Queensland where she’d lived.


All through the war, Annie gleaned what she could from the nearby Army Headquarters and wrote fortnightly bulletins, which were published in Queensland provincial newspapers, giving many families the only news they ever got of what was happening to ‘their boys’ with the Australian Imperial Force in France … Egypt … Palestine …
 She and her daughter organised letters and gifts from Australia,  between brothers, and family in different battalions, to be forwarded to wherever those ‘ boys’ had been posted or were in hospital. They sent off supplies of extra clothing & food etc, wrote countless letters, visited hospitals and were kind to anyone who need to talk about home or the mates they missed. By 1918 she had the contact details of 2300 soldiers in a card file.
One soldier drew a sign and stuck it on their front door showing the distinctive AIF Rising sun hat badge, a kangaroo and the words “Hop Right In, Dig”
AnnieW_3When Annie and her daughter arrived back in Rockhampton in 1919, over 5000 people met her train and cheering soldiers (Diggers) pulled her car through the streets to a public reception.
[State Library of Queensland Image no 69293. Out of copyright]
Here in 1920, she sits in one of the grandest cars in Springsure, a Studebaker Big Six decked with bunting. Annie Wheeler is about to unveil a Memorial Fountain at the school.
She was presented with an O.B.E that same year, in recognition of her contribution as a ‘military welfare worker.’
For kindness itself.
Text adapted by Meg
Dermot Dorgan. Conversation. 13 March 2014.
See also
Story Twigs …! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License