Volunteering at the Old Time Wood Days: November Warp-Up

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It’s always the same. November rolls around and I start making lists. And, before you jump to visions of sugarplums no – I don’t mean a list for Santa. Instead, I make a check list for everything I’ll need for spending a weekend away camping in Western Victoria with no service and no worries.

I make lists to figure out what clothes I’ll need, – since this is Victoria and you have to pack in layers and prepare for the Australian elements – I head out to buy supplies, I sweep out my tent and I iron my CIKA shirt with pride. To me, November is all about the annual CIKA Wood Days. It’s the highlight of my year and the perfect time of year to give back and support cancer research.

Curious to learn more? Let’s get into my month of adventuring…

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My Month In A Nutshell

As we’ve establish, I started my month on a high note with volunteering at the CIKA Old Time Wood Days. Side note: let me tell you what  a quest I went on to travel there – I’m talking a train to Melbourne, a train to Geelong and then a four hour road trip.

The Wood Days is a very personal cause for my family and was inspired by my step-dad’s battle with cancer as an infant. The annual weekend is run by Andrew and Christine Duyvestyn along with our incredibly supportive family and friends who volunteer their skills and time to raise thousands, contributing to the funding of the Royal Melbourne Children’s Hospital’s cancer research.

The weekend is a step back into a simpler time with dinner cooked over a roaring camp oven, fresh produce, home cooked damper and a showcase of old-time bush skills. There are post-and-rail fencing demonstrations, sawbenching using oil engines, wood cutting and even draught horses dragging logs. Mix these elements with the strong sense of community and the crackle of the camp oven and you have the makings of seriously incredible weekend of adventuring.

When I wasn’t helping set up the stall, stacking wood or serving pumpkin soup straight off the camp oven I was exploring the seventy acre bush block with my squad, cutting down trees for the fire [that’s right – your girl cut down her first tree] and even building a fort to shelter our camp from the rain. I mean – why wouldn’t you built a tree fort???

Surprisingly, I actually made it home alive without any leeches???

In other news I spent a weekend decorating my house and trimming the tree with my family. Gotta get in early! Afterwards we went to a late screening of Last Christmas and let me tell you, you’re going to need tissues! I don’t think I’ve ever cried to much in a movie. Not even  Titanic. I got  a serious vibe – which I can’t say because of spoilers – but basically it’s beautiful and you need to see it.

Books Read


Frozen Tides by Morgan Rhodes|★★★★☆| Honestly, I have such mixed feelings about this series – although, I think this is the best installment so far. The first half was a little slow but something major happened at about the midpoint and then it was plot twist after plot twist after plot twist.

Home Work: A Memoir of my Hollywood Years by Julie Andrews |★★★★★| This was the perfect book for for broadening my literary horizons for Nonfiction November. In her memoir, Julie Andrews is open and honest, writing with the charm only she can muster. It’s warm, it oozes class and Julie Andrews writes with a dignified modesty which made reading Home Work a truly nostalgic experience.

Sorcery by Terry Pratchett |★★★★☆| Considering it’s a Discworld wizards wizzards book I didn’t expect to love it as I did. Sorcery is the love baby of the Colour of Magic and the Light Fantastic but a step up in every possible way. Also can we please talk about the world building? Serious Aladdin vibes!

Haunting Price Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco |★★★☆☆| I had a love-hate relationship with this one. First of all Hunting Prince Dracula has nothing on Stalking Jack the Ripper. The suspense, the terror, the gore – it all fell a little short compared to the first adventure. The pacing and plotting was tedious in parts but the last 100 pages was a rush. I was both bored and loving for it???

Crystal Storm by Morgan Rhodes |★★★☆☆| Another love-hate relationship. Not the best reading month. I have a complex relationship with this series. Is it worth the hype? No. Do I keep coming back? Yes. Crystal Storm was a struggle. The plot trudged as the players came together but yet the last 80 pages were amazing? Falling Kingdoms seems to be constantly taking three steps forward and two steps back.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë |☆☆☆☆☆| So I’m still reading this classic but so far I have one question; why the heck is everyone always raving about Mr Darcy and Heathcliff??? I’m taking Mr Edward Rochester because – swoon! Okay, Mr Rochester aside, Jane Eyre is surprisingly modern and fiercely feminist. Move over Elizabeth Bennet because Jane Eyre is a force to be reckoned with. I can’t wait to finish this one in December.

Blog Posts

Reader Quirks: Favorite Literary Maps

Christmas Bucket List + Read-Along Announcement 

If You Liked That, Try This: Recommendations for Mood Readers

Review: Home Work a Memoir of my Hollywood Years by Julie Andrews

I Dare You Book Tag

Review: Dracula by Bram Stoker 

Pumpkins, Spice and Everything Nice: October Wrap-Up

Final Thoughts and December TBR

So was November the most productive month of my year? No. No it was not. The post-Dracula slump that raged through the final days of October bleed into November. The fact that both Crystal Storm and Haunting Prince Dracula were mediocre to say the least didn’t help my reading challenge either. Did I crush my TBR? No. Did I bit off more than I could chew? I sure did. What have I learned? That I won’t stick to a TBR every month – I missed mood reading!

So, what’s in store for December? You’re girl will be playing catch-up that’s what. I’ll be launching into Discworld, tackling Wryd Sisters, Pyramids and maybe even Guards! Guards! to conclude the first eight books. I’ll be finally finishing Falling Kingdoms with Immortal Reign and that will be it my my 2019 TBR. [I’m rather resigned to my fate – there’s no way I’ll tick everything off now]

Once I read the necessities I’ll be pulling out some festive mood reading. Spoiler alert: a Court of Frost and Starlight is a must! I’d also love to read the Starless Sea – but we’ll see.

In case you missed it, I’ll be hosting my very first read-along and it’s super festive. I’ve linked the announcement post above and more information will be coming soon but the short hand is we’ll be reading a Christmas Carol and the Afterlife of Holly Chase together. I’d love to have you join!

As we enter the last month of the year I wish you all luck with your TBRs and reading challenges! Have a safe and happy holiday and let me know below how you’ll be celebrating. Happy reading!Alexandra


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