Monday, May 30, 2016

BLOG OF THE WEEK ~ AN UPDATE WITH OLD EGG


We have another wonderful poet to visit this week, my friends: Robin Kimber, whom we know affectionately as Old Egg. Robin writes at Robin’s Nest, and lives in Adelaide, southern Australia, only six miles from the ocean. Robin recently celebrated 80 years of very fine living, so we are most pleased to be meeting with him again, to congratulate him and hear more of his fascinating stories. 



Old Egg



Sherry:  Robin, we last spoke in our Life of a Poet feature in 2014, so we are long overdue for another chat! I have a question that I imagine many might have wondered, from time to time: why are you called Old Egg? I so love that name!! 

Robin: I gained entrance to a Grammar School in England after World War II in the town that I lived in, Eggar's Grammar School in Alton, Hants. It was founded in 1642, but has long since been sold and turned into a housing complex. Past pupils were known as Old Eggars...thus the Old Egg. I helped to run the Old Eggars organization many many years ago, and played for their soccer team.

The replacement school is much larger, and probably much more suitable for current needs, but the old school's demise was still quite sad.

Sherry: It must have been very sad. Thank you for this explanation, Old Egg. Will you tell us about your recent birthday? 

Robin: Early May was busy with Mothers Day in Australia, and my birthday as well. Most of the family (12 of us) hired a house boat on the River Murray for a long weekend to celebrate both events. It was my 80th birthday, which is nothing to boast about, especially my difficulty to board and disembark from the boat via the gang plank with my wobbly legs!




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Sherry: Warmest congratulations on your 80 years. What a treasure trove of history you must be. And what a wonderful way to celebrate, en famille, in a houseboat on the river. Yay!

Robin: As it is the start of our Autumn/Winter season, it was not the best for sun baking or swimming, but the river is interesting at all times. The Murray/Darling combination is the one and only big river in Australia, starting in both northern Queensland and the Snowy Mountains on the border of New South Wales and Victoria. The river (with difficulty) flows out to sea in South Australia, where we live. Much of the river water evaporates in the hot weather and is used extensively for irrigation and domestic use in the southern states.




Sherry: Australia is so beautiful. You are a lucky man. How is your writing coming along, Robin?

Robin: My various ills  make me less enthusiastic about everything…except sitting down and writing, which is probably very bad for me! I have this urge to write, which is great, but a walk down the beach would probably do more for me.

I am much like a butterfly with my writing, flitting from theme to theme, such as enduring love, being at one with nature, and even the lure of the city. Life’s experience allows me to delve back into my own personal experiences in those fields, and memories from many years back, even to childhood, come flooding back, as well as early romances, working in cities and many years bird-watching, which was my wife Maureen’s favorite pastime. There is nothing quite like getting lost in the forest or wide open spaces, alone with nature and really relishing that feeling, being with birds and animals that accept your presence; although an alpha male kangaroo might take umbrage that you are getting too close to the females!


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Sherry: I would love to see a live kangaroo!  And we love your poems, stories and memories so much! I especially enjoyed “Where My Love Is Found”. Let’s take a look at it, shall we?





Home? He laughed out loud
When they asked him where he'd go
On his holiday

I feel more at ease
Walking on a lonely beach
Or in the forest green

Where the sea's whisper
Sings me a sweet lullaby
And soothes me to sleep

Fish nibbling my toes
There a crab waving a Hi!
And the broad blue sky

Breakers they'll applaud
At my visiting again
I know my heaven

The sand in my toes
The fresh salt wind in my eyes
With the scent of brine

Then there's the dark woods
With the tall whispering pines
I crave that feeling

Rustling of wild things
Now checking just who I am
Owls hoot the all clear

Creatures wander round
For they are not frightened of me
As insects buzz by

The stream ripples on
Little birds twitter and dive
Such place could I die

All my stress is gone
My happiness is found there
Of which do I dream

But you're right he said
I am going home once more
Where my love is found


Sherry: Sigh. Me, too, my friend. I love "I know my heaven." I know that feeling very well in the wild places. What might we find you doing when you aren’t writing, these days?




Robin: With regard to current urban living, I tend to visit a local café regularly, and it is so typical of Australia, where the owners are Italian, and there are barista and waiters and waitresses from all parts of the globe, South East Asia, India, Middle East, even other countries in Europe. They all know me by my first name and know I like to read the paper there and do the crosswords and read the cartoons. So while I’m there I observe people and find characters to write about in their looks, the conversation and even the romance, or, like me, a person alone whose story you don’t know but invent to produce another poem.  

Sherry: It sounds a great place for gathering material.  Robin, I am sure you have a wealth of stories. Would you like to share one?

Robin:  This true story, published in 2013, told a little of my history before I got married. I have added a haiku verse to make it into a haibun.

Last Train to Alton


It was a Saturday night in 1956 and I trotted along the lonely streets of the town. The pubs had long shut and all those years ago the traffic was light to non-existent. I was heading for the train station just about a mile away. The last train left at 5 minutes past midnight. My destination was home nine miles away. Well ten miles if you count the run from my girlfriend’s house to the station. Every Saturday night was the same, those lingering kisses and the last fond embrace had to be measured to the last second. I hadn’t missed a train yet but as we tended to stick to each other like glue a longer wait until the first train in the morning was always a possibility and being Sunday that would be a very long wait indeed.


I was going downhill now down Downing Street past the men's clothing store, past the fish shop and just as I passed the grocers two figures stepped out of the shadows.


“Just a minute lad” said one.


Just my luck, I could skirt the drunks and the tramps in doorways but to run into two policemen on a dull night shift was just what they needed to help pass their boring night away.

“Where are you off to in such a hurry?” said one. While the other sized me up with his torch.


I could barely talk as I was out of breath. I mumbled something about trying to catch the last train to Alton. However that was the problem. They weren’t interested in my plans but only what I had been doing.


“But where have you just run from?” the first one asked implying foul deeds I was escaping from.


So I had to relate where I had been, who with and why and the utter importance of me catching the last train that left in but a few minutes. He came closer and shone his torch in my face. My panting breath had no taint of alcohol perhaps only the sweet scent of my girlfriend so my innocence was convincing.


“OK my lad. Off you go, and don’t leave it so late next time.”


I resumed my run to the station. The level crossing gates were starting to close and as I scampered over the footbridge I knew that I would make it after all. On recounting my adventure to my girlfriend later she reluctantly made me leave a few minutes earlier in future. Less than a year later we were married so my worries were over and we stayed together all night…every night!


Soft skin luscious lips
How can I bear to leave you?      
We’ll marry in Spring


Sherry: Sigh. So sweet. And what a wonderful long marriage you enjoyed! You two were blessed. I most love your poems about your love for your wife, whom you lost, sadly, in 2010. Would you like to include one here?

Robin: One of my most popular posts on Poets United from 2014 might be appropriate.


Robin and Maureen on a cruise in 2010




There is no limit to my love
My eyes have long bent your way
For oh so many a year

So are you my Juliet?
Or like Ophelia in water drowned?
Maiden still, yet untouched, unloved

For I am no Romeo
Nor Hamlet yet
No, that is not the case

For with me you are the light
Eastward, both sun and hope rising
Just look my way my precious

And straight as an arrow
In flight I will come
And thus to lovers lane for us

So then the sight of you,
The sound of your voice
And that exquisite touch will

From that grain, sprout love
From this yearning
And all my parts will gladly sing

With utmost joy I pray
As you place your hand in mine
I'll see this love in your eyes too


Sherry: You have an exquisite touch with your poet's pen, my friend. Robin, in our first interview, you spoke of being a child in London during WWII. This fascinates me. Would you share a memory of that time with us?

Robin: Going back to the wartime, we did live more than thirty five miles outside of London, but my Dad commuted everyday regardless of the bombing. Very few people in Britain owned cars then, and those that did put them away for the “duration” (of the war, that is) as petrol (gas) was only available for those that needed to drive, such as doctors and delivery men. Most people used public transport. We walked the two miles to school each day or caught the bus which was very cheap. As you say, my father was rostered on to do fire watching duty some nights to extinguish incendiary bombs if they fell on the building. The idea was to place them in buckets of water before they exploded.

Sherry: It intrigues me to be interviewing someone who lived through that time, Robin. I have such an interest in that period in history. 

(Kids, if you would like more of Robin's story, do check out the interview from 2014, where he went into his most interesting life in more depth, his childhood years during the war, his wonderful love story with Maureen, and his family life in Australia. I would like to write the book!)





Robin: Reading through the first “Life of…”,  what was omitted was that both my wife Maureen and I later worked together in the same organization, after we were married. She was an analytical chemist, testing beer for a brewery, and I was an architectural assistant with them, designing new hotels and public houses (inns), in the Hampshire, Surrey and Sussex area. 

Much of the work was, however, upgrading older buildings to make them attractive, to win custom from other Brewers who, in those days, owned most hotels. However,  the lure of working and living in Australia persuaded us to migrate to South Australia with the family, where I have lived ever since. Luckily the children and their family still all live in the state too.

Sherry: It is fortunate your children and grandchildren still live nearby. How was life when you reached Australia, Robin? What a grand adventure it must have been for you!

Robin: When I came to Australia in 1966, jobs were asy to find. Immigration from many European countries after WW2 was encouraged, as Australia needed skilled people to change the country from a predominantly agricultural agricultural to a thriving, prosperous industrial nation.  I managed to get a job with the government-owned South Australian Railway.

I volunteered to work in the mid-north of South Australia, to design and supervise the construction of new stations and other new buildings, from the New South Wales border to the coast. (Promotion was more assured if you had worked in the country as well as the city.)



Mt. Remarkable in mid-north of South Australia


The disadvantage was that Maureen was bringing up the children by herself, while I was stationed away during the week and only home at weekends. I was away for three years, but it was most valuable for me. When my work there was complete, I found promotion easier.

When the kids grew up and started getting married, Maureen went into partnership with a second hand bookseller, eventually buying the small shop she managed in Adelaide. It was called Bookmark Books. The "mark" in the name meant Maureen and Robin Kinber! It was just over the road from where I worked, so we used to go to work together. I even managed the shop on Sundays and her sister, who also lived in the area, on Wednesday.





Sherry: It all sounds glorious, Robin. I think I am living it a bit vicariously, through your stories. You made such a wonderful life together.

Your poem "Path to the Future" has such a beautiful message of hope. I think it would be a lovely poem to close our chat with, Old Egg. 




Suns opaque shyness
It was one of those grey days
Everything was sad

Even the wind moaned
Melancholy, boisterous no more
Mature in mourning

There's always hope though
Laughing child and nimble lamb
May give us all hope

Mankind offends all
Mountains crumble and seas weep
Yet children still play

Lay me down to rest
Sure that a little one sees
Path to the future


Sherry: Our aging eyes seeing the devastation, set against the little one's eyes, looking forward with hope. This poem is a beauty, Robin.  

Thank you so much, my friend, for sharing more of your very interesting life with us. It gives us a wonderful backdrop for reading your poems, which we hope to enjoy for many more years. We are so happy to have you among us at Poets United. You are a beloved member of the community.

I am certain you enjoyed hearing more about our friend, Old Egg, as much as we did, kids. What a wonderful life, well-lived! Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!


47 comments:

  1. Thank you both for such a warm and wonderful interview. I felt like I have known you for a long time Robin and yet I have learnt more about you here - which is always good. The choice of poems illustrates your ability to tap into your history, your feelings and your emotions - all of which are rich, sincere and modest almost. I don't you think you know at times how good your poetry/writing is. There is a definite sense of exploration, of not being afraid to try something different or run with a memory or thought. Most of us stick to our safety zones! It is frustrating when we can't do the things we physically want to and yet to be able to think of them is some solace I hope..and to have a place to go and where people know your name ;) is a good thing even if we are alone - you are indeed a beloved member of our community and I know Maureen and your family would be/are proud of your writing and the way you continue to embrace all life can offer - I hope you are too and like the Queen happy unofficial birthday - we will send a royal salute and cake..of course!

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  2. You and I Jae, are becoming old hands at this game of blogging now aren't we? I think we all grow by having an interaction with other writers and that certainly has been the case with you as well. You are right I do tend to experiment (and tease) at the same time hoping to get a laugh or even tears out of my readers. Thank you for constant support, the accolade and the cake especially.

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  3. Thank you too Sherry for the work you put into interviewing our fellow members and teasing out who we really are. I am so glad that I joined in with Poets United a few years ago and have been overwhelmed with to breadth of such fine writing from across the globe. Each one of us has a story to tell and we can see how that impacts on the writing. Thank you too for all the team behind the scenes that makes it such a fine place to be.

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  4. I suspect our friends are busy with Memorial Day barbecues today, my friends, but I know they will drift by later, or tomorrow....never fear! You are most welcome, Robin. It is truly my pleasure. When I look back, I have been featuring a poet every week since 2010, that is a lot of features. And EACH ONE such a wonderful and unique story. I wish you and I had more time, Robin. I think your memoir would be fantastic reading.

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    1. ...Well some of it perhaps! Life is all about making mistakes in an effort to get it right.

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  5. Thank you Sherry for this lovely interview ~ I enjoyed reading specially That Exquisite Touch ~ Thanks to Robin too for sharing pictures specially of your late wife ~ And belated happy birthday on your 80th...

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    1. Thank you Grace, I note that in your own writing you too are a great observer of the world around you and this comes out so well in your poetry.

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  6. Great to find out more about you, Robin! (I like writing in cafés, too.) Another great interview, Sherry; you sure have the knack. Robin, I always enjoy your poems, and also appreciate your comments on mine. A while back you said something that sounded as if you thought I lived in Melbourne. I did, for many years, and sometimes still visit, but have been in far northern NSW for over 20 years now. This amuses me because I have made a similar mistake about you – although I see I read your previous interview and must have known at some stage that you live in Adelaide, I somehow had the idea from some of your poems that you were a bit north of Brisbane! I think you have obviously seen a fair bit of Australia during your long life here; maybe that's what confused me. Anyway, Many Happy Returns and long may you blog with us!

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    1. Perhaps I cast a spell on you Rosemary with my writing for you to think that! I have in fact lived in the Adelaide area since 1966 although my wife and I were great travelers so I have been all around and there is so much one can write about if one uses their eyes and ears. Thank you for you good wishes.

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  7. What a wonderful conversation between the two of you, Robin and Sherry. Robin, I always enjoy your poetry, which, no matter what the subject, seems to be penned with a gentle brush. I always enjoy your nostalgic poems about childhood, which also often take me back to mine... I liked "Last Train to Alton" - the historical aspect of it. I really do like real life poetry, and that one really gave me a glimpse of your past. And "That Exquisite Touch" -- what a beautiful love poem. And, ah, I do like the way you flit from theme to theme. I call that being versatile. Smiles. And, Happy Birthday to you, Robin. I look forward to reading your poetry in the blogosphere for a long time to come!

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    1. Thank you for your comments Mary. We both tend to flit from theme to theme I think in our writing and no doubt you also get advice from Basil, Tulip and Violet each wanting to say something different!

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  8. Thanks for the update with Old Egg Sherry. I always find it so interesting to know more about our dear poets. Wishing you many more birthday candle light Robin. I so enjoy the hidden joy within you expressed in your words whether in poetry or conversation. All the poems shared here are real gems. Thank you both :)

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    1. Thank you for your wishes Sumana. I have noticed that you too are addicted to writing haiku verses and you probably also think the 5/7/5 way too!

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  9. I was charmed by the truth and simple joy of your life and in your writing Robin. Such a great life. Wish you many many more wonderful years. Thanks for a great interview Sherry.

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    1. Thank you Thotpurge for your kind words. I always find your poetry so teasing, tantalizing that makes me think "I wish I could write like that!"

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  10. Thanks for the wonderful interview Sherry and Robin. Hank will always try not to miss Robin's poems. They make one feel so young with love as a theme brilliantly narrated. Actually it is more of the 'treasure trove' as mentioned, readily shared with us. Happy belated birthday Robin!

    Hank

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    1. Thank you Hank for most welcome comment. You are are like me a great observer of the world and this comes out so well in your poetry.

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  11. Thank you so much Sherry and Robin for taking out time and sharing this wonderful update with us. Happy belated birthday Robin :D I was a bit dazed as I read through your interview especially while reading "Last train to Alton." I could imagine your adventure through my eyes as I visualized each scene. It was incredible! I smiled at the haiku in the end :D Such a passion filled love story :D

    You seem to have a knack for romantic poetry :D and I can vouch for that as I read your poem "That exquisite touch." Its one of the many wonderful things that I strongly resonate to i.e the romanticism in your poems as I too love to write romantic poetry. It comes rather naturally to us doesn't it?

    I have always appreciated your kind comments to me and constant support from the time I first started writing for Poets United :D Wishing you loads of happiness, health and success for the years to come ahead :D

    Lots of love,
    Sanaa

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    1. Thank you so much Sanaa. I was so pleased that you started your "Prompt Nights" site where I could join a new set a of friends. Romantic poetry is not only a delight to write but also to find that it has touched someone else's heart as well.

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  12. I remember fondly that interview with Robin in 2014, and I just knew he was the guest for this post...so thanks for updating us Sherry. Happy Birthday Robin! I had no idea you were so young Robin ;0 I am a May baby too.

    I adore your beautiful poetry...it touches my heart and tugs at the romantic parts of me....what a rich history you share with us.

    And you always visit me with engaging comments....Hearing more about your life now only enriches your poetry even more....thank you Robin for giving me joy every week. Lots of love to you!

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    1. Thank you Donna for your beautiful words. This is not unexpected as your posts are always filled with stunning gardens and the beauty of nature.

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  13. Dear Sherry and Old Egg. So much fun to learn more about Old Egg. And yet, I thought your "Old Egg," came because your name was Robin...but instead from school. I love reading your poems, and now they will have even more meaning, because I know you just a little better. xoxoxo

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    1. Thank you Annell even when write fiction or poems of observation we also tell others a lot about ourselves in our words. This is certainly the case with you as I feel the tears on every page you write.

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  14. Another awesome interview, Sherry. I enjoy Robin's poetry so much and it was lovely to get to know a bit more of his story - which, I think imbues many of his pieces. I am so looking forward to checking out his original interview. What an interesting life you have led, Robin!

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    1. Thank you so much Wendy for your kind words. Your own words are also so full of life's experiences and are a joy to read.

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  15. This is an exceptional good interview of a very deserving poet, Sherry! Thank you for delving into the dynamic mind of our dear friend 'old egg'!! Writing always feels good; reading is even more pleasant; listening to a poet is above all!
    "That Exquisite Touch"-is truly exquisite, Robin! I look forward to reading more of your work. Happy Belated Birthday!
    Thanks again, Sherry and Robin!

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    1. Thank you so much for your words Panchali. I think we learn so much from others writing and that certainly is the case with yours which is always delightful.

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  16. You are most welcome, my friends. I knew you would enjoy hearing more from our friend, Robin. Thank you, Robin, for making this possible. We so value and appreciate you, my friend.

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  17. Sherry a very nice person to interview. I have read Robin's poems and he writes from his heart about love and his need for the country air. Now, I know more about the love of his life.

    Robin, Thanks for sharing your story and Happy Belated 80th Birthday! That is a milestone for sure. I enjoy reading your thoughts. Try and take a short walk on the beach it does wonders for the soul.

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  18. Thank you Truedessa for your wishes. Having so many bloggers wish me well has certainly extended my birthday celebrations. Luckily the beach is quite close to me but with winter closing in I'll have to choose my walk on the beach carefully!

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  19. i like your observation that even when writing fiction, we also tell a bit of ourselves in the words. i think it's true, because we need to draw inspiration from somewhere and our own experiences is a deep well to draw from.

    i really enjoyed reading this chat, Robin, a pleasure to know a bit more of this poet and where your inspirations are from. thank you! :)

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    1. Thank you for your comments dsnake1. What I like about your work is your rapport with the city, the urban life in all its facets.

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  20. I know I'm a bit late, but I wanted to stop by anyway. I so loved this interview, Robin and Sherry.

    Robin, I always enjoy your poetry, your voice, the wisdom and life you infuse into it, the love... And now I see where everything comes from and that's makes it even more powerful.

    Thanks so much for sharing yourself with us. And for writing your poetic yum (even when you should be going on a walk). ♥

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  21. You are most welcome and thank you for your comments. You are not that late and I'll forgive you just for that smile of yours! What engages me with your writing is how well you illustrate it with artwork.

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  22. How fine, Robin and Sherry! Robin's poems to his wife and about his marriage are exquisite. Thank you for inviting us in.

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    1. Thank you so much Susan. Strangely I have to thank my wife who started me writing for the writing group she attended which needed new members so I was dragged along to offer my first stories to them. It has never stopped since then.

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  23. Love this interview and getting some background to a wonderful poet and interesting man. It is so nice to read his love poems to his wife. Thanks Sherry and thank you, Robin for sharing.

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    1. Thank you Debi for your visit and for your comments.

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  24. I had no idea you were so young.I thought you were at least 90.Now that I know this ,I wont need to pull my punches anymore in the comment section out of deference to your advanced age. They say 80 is the new 60 :)Hope you had a great birthday.

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    1. Thank you Rall. You are right from now on the gloves are off.
      (P.S. Oh to be 60 again).

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  25. Such a wonderful interview thank you for being so candid. I love your poetry. i hope you had a wonderful birthday.

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    1. Hello Sheilagh thank you for your kind comments. Great to see you made a visit here.

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  26. So good to get to know you better Robin, I often wondered where Old Egg came from! What an interesting life you led!

    My birthday was in May too! Going down a river in a houseboat sounds so dreamy!! I always wanted to visit Australia it sounds so diverse and I have many online friends from there.

    Thank you for the stories, poems and information!

    Hugs! Bekkie

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  27. So good to get to know you better Robin, I often wondered where Old Egg came from! What an interesting life you led!

    My birthday was in May too! Going down a river in a houseboat sounds so dreamy!! I always wanted to visit Australia it sounds so diverse and I have many online friends from there.

    Thank you for the stories, poems and information!

    Hugs! Bekkie

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    1. Thank you Bekkie for your comments and hugs. Australia's population is so small compared with the US yet the land mass is comparable it is so easy then to discover the wild side of the country so close to home (which in my case is a state capital).

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  28. Thank you, Sherry for this interview....so very interesting and enjoyable :-)

    And, Robin.....thank you for sharing yourself with us. I enjoyed hearing the story of where "Old Egg" comes from. I'd always imagined it was a Robin Egg sort of story connection. Funny how we fill in the blanks in our own ways when we really have no idea ;-) The Last Train to Alton depicts, for me, so many of the reasons why I love visiting your site so regularly.....you are an amazing story-teller AND you do it in a way that evokes emotion in the reader and you also use word imagery that acts as a catalyst for personal nostalgia, too. You are completely rocking it at 80, Robin! Brilliantly!! Happy Belated Birthday to you :-)

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  29. Thank you C.C. for your comments and wishes. We often read others poetry and wish we could write like that and this is the case with your too as you produce such pertinent of concise poetry the really hits home.

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