I might be small, I might smell, I might live in a tightly packed tin can but I have feelings too.

I’ve just come back, or rather survived, what you fish loving earth guys call one of the greatest marine spectacles on the planet. Yes I was at the annual sardine migration which takes place from Agulhas Bank and northward up the east coast of South Africa.

You guys might think it’s a great place for a holiday but for us little silver fish it’s no fun. Treated as the butter of the sea that goes with the plankton that dolphins, sharks, whales and birds love to eat ensures being number two in the food chain sucks.

You land lubber part-time swimmers put all that love into dolphins and whales and call us bait-balls in the greatest natural predatory show on earth. Hey, no one asked us what we think of it. We have family and when you are less than 4 inches and see that there is actually a book named 101 ways to consume a sardine wouldn’t you be a bit browned off. Would you want to be grilled, pickled, or smoked?

I guess you’ve all heard of Morocco, yeah well it a great spot for tourists, but not for us. If we hear we’re on our way to Morocco then we know we’re on our way to the sardine capital of the world. Nearly 600,000 tonnes of my family end up there each year to be turned into Moroccan recipes including Moroccan Fried Stuffed Sardines and Moroccan Sardine Balls in Spicy Tomato Sauce. With names like that at the end of the process you can hardly recognise your own relatives.

All I hear is SAVE the Whale, SAVE the Whale, SAVE the ****ing Whales. Well I for one have had a gut full of that. What about us? What about the little guy. It’s just like the big Banks in the Global Financial Crisis (GFC). Yes it’s ok to save the Big Banks but forget the little guy, there’s just too many of us. We  have our own GFC, the Great Fish Calamity. We have no identity and when we are all gone there won’t even be a sardine museum.

Those bloody whales even have names and when all is said and done they are really just a modified hippopotamus, in fact, whales are the closest living relatives of hippos. They only entered the water roughly 50 million years ago so if it’s too dangerous for them let them go back to the land where they came from. You know the old saying ‘if it’s too hot in the kitchen.’

Another reason you earth guys love whales is because, like you, they remember one another and only have several mates each season, well get a grip. When you go out for a swim on Saturday night and another 30-40 million  sardines turn up how do you expect us to remember who we slept with let alone recognise our offspring. Those whales only have one calf we have hundreds of thousands of children. Get real!

Just because whales have web sites, songs, paintings and all manner of celebratory paraphernalia doesn’t mean you should ignore us. I say hit back and stand up for the humble omega 3 supplier the SARDINE.

We should rewrite the classics like Jonah and the Sardine, Paikia the NZ Sardine Rider and of course consider how exciting a rewrite of the classic Herman Melville novel Moby-Sardine would be.

I say stick it up their blowhole.

SAVE THE SARDINE and save it now before it’s too late.

Warning the following image contains scenes of cruelty that may offend. The Sardines have had their heads cut off so they cannot talk or be identified.

T-shirts will be available if I get enough orders and can work out how I can get rich quick.

PS: An E-book will soon follow.



Watsons Bay

Watsons Bay

small boats rest on the walkway

small boats rest on the walkway

looking back toward the city of Sydney

looking back toward the city of Sydney

a slow autumn sunset

a slow autumn sunset

I had forgotten how good it feels to have dinner with family by the harbour edge watching a slow autumn sunset with a soft pink and grey sky.

staying connected

staying connected

I now remember, sharing meals are a great way to keep connected.


We drive from our hotel and soon leave the Port of Nice behind us as we head along the D6098 to the Boulevard Princess Grace de Monaco, then along Avenue Albert 1 er, and finally to the Promenade de Marinieres.

At the end of the journey we will be at the little hideaway fishing port of Villefranche-sur-Mer. I complete the last part of my journey on foot.

The hills surrounding me climb from sea level at the bay to a lofty altitude of about 520 m (1750 ft.). At sea level I can see beautiful beaches that are perfect for sun-loving during the day and romantic strolls in the evening.


Tiny hotels, wearing warm shades of yellow and rust, create a feeling of love and romance and many honeymoon couples come here to pledge their everlasting love.

I have come to this village not as a honeymooner but as a traveller on a personal journey with a desire rooted in the basic urge to be reunited with a memory.

There will be no hugging or hand shaking, just a heart full of surprise and happiness if I find the object I’m looking for.

And there it is, I have stumbled on my treasure. The emotion of the moment is profound, even though there is nobody there to touch or share it with.

A lot is going on in my heart and mind that is beyond simple observation. This is a great reflective moment for a parent to have about their offspring.

I call the girls over and make the invisible become visible and the overlooked become looked. Maybe no one has seen it, maybe many have seen it, but I am the one that gives it meaning.

I gave this engraved lock to my son a few years back and when he was in this obscure part of the south of France, the village of Villefranche-sur-Mer which he loved so much, he affixed it here by the sea to maintain a bond.

It has rusted, it has endured good and bad weather, but most of all it has done its job.

I grasp this lock, this everyday thing and let it transport me over the more than 10,000 miles that separate us and it is like we are here together. For me this will be enough.

Life is an everyday story and this is one of my life stories I will never forget.


It was just like Christmas. I woke up excited knowing my new DunlopVolley SS shoes would be waiting for me at my PO Box. I was hardly out of the Post Office before they were on my feet. I was six inches taller and seemed to glide along the footpath.

When they got to work they were straight onto Facebook contacting their friends, the white and black Internationals, making plans to get together. They may even watch a bit of tennis as Wimbledon is on this week and that will bring back a few memories for the Dunlop SS guys.

Those International boys have just returned from a trip to Europe, the South of France and the Italian Riviera to be precise, and the three pairs all look forward to catching up with one another at the pub for a beer or five over the weekend. I’d like to be a fly on the floor there, as there will be plenty of sole slapping and lace knotting after they’ve had a few drinks.

Stuff you might want to know. My beautiful new Volleys are finished in premium leather. They are part of the SS range which was so influential upon its 1965 release that it was worn by 90% of the players at Wimbledon.

As you would imagine I’m expecting my tennis to improve but my sanity is unlikely to change. You see being a shoe means you mostly travel in pairs, just like nuns, so you never feel alone.


The BRRRR! has gone from the 7°C  morning and has given way to a silky smooth sunny 24°C day. An agreeable light north to northeast breeze lifts the smell of salt  from the tip of the wavelets as they arrive to be greeted by the  sands of the Bay. 

Children all over Sydney have raided nursing homes to take their elder mothers and grandmothers out for mothers’ day. Families have gathered by the bay to have a picnic lunch in the park and later have a rest in the shade. 

They search for sunny spots among the trees and everyone gives a hand in cooking the BBQ.


Down by the bay is the ideal place to pamper mum on this mother’s day and let her know that she is a real life ‘leading lady’.


Sydney is blessed with wonderful weather; autumn is lovely and filled with sunny clear days. Today, 2 May 2010, is just one of those perfect days, 26 degrees Celsius and clear skies. Living the modern, hectic lives we all seem to lead these days, means you really appreciate sitting down, relaxing and having a Sunday lunch with friends.

Today we are having a traditional Sunday lunch that had humble origins dating back to the 1800’s. It is one of the most comforting of pastimes.

We are greeted by yellowing foliage that covers the ground hiding the remaining greenness of summer. The days are still gorgeous and even more so as we are among friends whose company we will enjoy to the very last smile.

The air is sweet and the glow of the sun filters through the trees to warm the table where we will sit.

Kerry had a great idea for the pre lunch cocktail drink. It’s called Bellini. Bellinis are made by mixing peach juice with the Prosecco sparkling wine. Prosecco is an Italian dry sparkling wine made from a variety of white grape of the same name. It’s a great substitute for champagne.

I drink my cocktail until the last drop and I contemplate what my future will hold and especially the happiness of being with friends for the next few hours.

They say this recipe comes from the notes kept by Sir Kenelm Digby in the early 1600’s that were included in a cook book that was published from his notes several years after his death in 1669. Others say it has an older origin, perhaps dating from the middle of the Tudor period.

What we know for sure is that Kerry had it handed down to her from her mother so it has been in her family for nearly eighty years meaning that our lunch will be cooked with  knowledge passed on from generation to generation.

What we are talking about is the recipe for Plum Jam Beef Stew. It has all the characteristics of what we consider to be the very foundation of a good, heart-warming stew. Today, Kerry has prepared it without the slow cooked vegetables, but instead opted for a bed of boiled white rice and a mixed salad prepared by Lyn and Shelly.

80 year old recipe for Plum Jam Stew, a wonderful fruity beef casserole.

lean stewing beef, diced

2 onions, peeled, sliced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 heaped tbs plain flour

1/2 tsp chilli powder or Tabasco

1 lemon, zested 

plus 1 tbs juice

1/2 cup plum jam.


We finish off the meal with Joan’s cheese cake and cream, coffee and Kerry’s chocolate slice and then sit back to enjoy the greenish light of the backyard and the autumn sun’s last yellow rays which are warm and tender.


If eating together is a highlight of your week wait  till the end for clean up, resist the urge to rush straight into the kitchen clearing plates. Allow everyone the time to finish their meal, their conversation and then get the dishes done.


27th April 2010

A cool agreeable breeze greets me upon my visit to the Woronora Cemetery in Sydney where my parents are resting. The sound of the whispering wind in the trees could well be the collective spirits of all those ancestors I have briefly brought back to life during my journey of discovery. That journey is now over.

It is just over five years since my “accidental” discovery of the Barbe headstones in the Forbes Cemetery. I’ve been back to Forbes and Bedgerabong three or four times since then my most recent journey, with my sister Sandra, being two weeks ago. 

I uncovered past lives, past joys, past sufferings and past relationships that will not go unremembered. I’ve discovered that when looking back, history more than not will judge you kindly. All those that went before us did the best they could under the circumstances they found themselves in and I hope that generations in the future will view the mistakes that I have made with kind eyes. 

Some say Reuben William Barbe was a philanderer, some call him the fence jumper others say he could be charming and still others will remember the hurt they felt when he left and for some , the parting is all they know. 

All I can say is that without him I would not be here. My father would not have been born and I would not have known the two beautiful children I have, so perhaps the gift of a chance to live is the best gift anyone can give. My father was a kind, generous and loving man and it’s a shame Reuben Barbe did not witness his life. 

During my last journey to Bedgerabong I took a small piece of wood from the original home of William and Harriet Hodges my father’s Great Grandparents on his mother’s side and today I have placed it upon my father’s grave at Woronora Cemetery.

My dad knew of his sister Yvonne and so thought he was one of two, –  family history now shows that he was perhaps one of twenty, but to my sister and I our father, Reuben Barbe Fraser, will always be one in a million. I am moved to ask myself:

“Can time really separate us when you are still in my heart and my mind?”

Thanks DAD, Thanks MUM.