On top of the box….a palimpsest?

In my previous post I featured this photo:Tea TrayOn top of the box you can see a serving tray, a Susie Cooper tea set and a copper vase. These items used to belong to my paternal grandmother. They are the small remnants, little leftovers, of a long and busy life; of good food and warm kitchens, delicious pikelets, cream sponges, roast dinners and much else besides.   They  are the tangible reminders of times I experienced with my grandmother, as well as  reminders of times I only know through hearsay. One of the hearsay pieces is the serving/tea-tray.  Like my grandmother was, it is simple, sturdy, good quality and without frills ! I am told that the wooden tray came from the tea rooms that my grandparents owned for many years in a small, rural town. The tea rooms were one part of their business. In its entirety it included a butchery and a bakery. It was advertised (in 1948) as the town’s  Up-to-date Cash Meat and Bread Mart, where small goods were a specialty.

The business was sold long before I came in to existence but the building it was in (which included the family home) was a place of occasional family pilgrimage. It was not a beautiful building, in our family’s estimation, but it had enough status, having been part of the town’s life since 1910, to be registered as  a Category 2 historic place (#5193) on the New Zealand Historic Places Trust Register. Category II status means a place is  of ‘historical or cultural heritage significance or value’. So, imagine our mixed emotions, our consternation, when we saw our place of family history like this, following the earthquake of September 2010.

Just a few weeks after the earthquake, it was already in the process of deconstruction for safety reasons. Sadly, since then, most of the building has been demolished and it has, naturally, been deregistered as an historic place.  However, a  modified, and safer, building, respectful of the old design, has arisen in its place.  And I believe it still remains a place of good food and hospitality.

When I look at the items on top of the box, and reach back in my mind to their underlying stories and foundations , I wonder if, what I see before me are truly remnants, or simple leftovers, or my own unique version of a palimpsest. ( I really would rather like one! But my grandmother would much prefer ‘leftovers’. We always had lovely ones for Sunday night tea 🙂 )

© silkannthreades

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57 thoughts on “On top of the box….a palimpsest?

  1. ordinarygood

    I had to scurry to the dictionary to learn more about “Palimpsest” and I doubt I will be able to use much due to my tongue getting caught up in the sounds. My late father loved words and playing with them….I wonder if he knew this one and its meanings?
    So many of your photos exhibit so much grace and elegance in your home and within the pictures are even more stories…..I enjoy my virtual visits:-)

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Isn’t palimpsest a lovely word? I played a bit with the meaning of the word but it seems that its original meaning is undergoing change anyway. Thank you for seeing grace and elegance and all the stories behind the stories. I enjoy your virtual visits too. One day, I am planning a post on the messy parts of my house 😀 I have the photos already but not the words.

      Reply
  2. Sheryl

    Wonderful picture! It’s awesome how you have the tea set, tea tray, and vase. I can almost picture you grandmother carrying the tea tray. It’s too bad about the building.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you. My grandmother, when I knew her, was very tiny, so sometimes I wonder how she would have carried such a large tray. But she was strong too.

      Reply
  3. utesmile

    Isn’t it wonderful to have such great memories even jsut with leftovers… WE always think back with love to those memories. I know as I do remember my granmother made the best sweet yeast bread and on top we got sugared honey which was so thick you could cut it, my favourite. I can still smell it in my mind and almost taste it. Also those old things from gran have so much emotional value more than monetary value. My mother gave m efo rmy birthday my gran’s gold watch which she received from her then finacee while they were courting. 95 years ago….. and I ahve this watch now, it works and is beautiful. I am so grateful that I received such a wonderful memorable object. You also have such beauty around your house, I see in your pictures.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Gosh, I think I can smell that bread too! And that honey! I love honey that is thick enough to slice 🙂 In New Zealand we have a beautiful, very special, thick honey called Manuka Honey. I had big scoops of it on my toast yesterday. Your story of your grandmother’s gold watch is lovely, Ute. I can imagine your pleasure in it. Such a treasure and as you say its value is not counted in money but in memories and emotions.

      Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          I am sure it is exported to the UK. Perhaps it would be in a health food shop or a specialty section of a supermarket like Waitrose.

  4. Ellen Grace Olinger

    Good to read your post. I love the theme of palimpsest and your lovely photo. Grace, my mother’s mother, died a year before I was born. I treasure her handmade aprons and needlepoint.

    Reply
  5. Clanmother

    This is just the post I needed for it is a reflection of my own thoughts these past weeks. A friend from childhood came to visit me – we have known each other for at least 50 years. We grew up in a small mining town in Northern Manitoba when it was at its zenith. It was a vibrant, thriving community with a hockey and curling rink, a huge club where everyone met for concerts and civic events, several churches, etc. it was isolated – no road to the outside. And for the first few years, all we had was one radio station (no TV) You could get there by plane or train. Just a few years before we left in the early 1970’s, a road was built with a daily bus service.. Now, it is a ghost town in many ways. The mine closed down, houses are boarded up. There is no plane or train, or bus service. There are a few that have remained because they cannot leave “home.” I have a few mementos, but mostly it will only be those wonderful memories of good times and friends that cared. Perhaps that is all that we need. One thing is certain, we must live every day and guard the memories not only of our lives but of our parents and grandparents that came before. That is the connection that brings it all together. The locations, buildings, addresses, work, even phone numbers etc are all borrowed for a time, A wonderful post!

    My project is over until next month!!! Good to be back…

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Borrowed for a time; how right you are. Those childhood friendships and memories are so precious.Especially when you have shared a unique place of growing up which very few ‘outsiders’ can truly understand. I may have told you that, a few weeks ago. a childhood friend of mine came to visit. She now lives in London but her visits ‘home’ are treasured by me and all her other friends. Your isolated mining town makes me think of other mining towns. A particularly famous one in New Zealand is Denniston, made widely known through The Denniston Rose by Jenny Pattrick. My father and mother in their early days worked at the Vatukoula Gold Mine in Fiji. Not as isolated as your town but it was a unique community. I am so glad you are back. Don’t wear yourself out with too many Big projects 🙂

      Reply
      1. Clanmother

        It is interesting how communities, especially those that are isolated, have a unique flavour, which comes from diverse personalities that inhabit these small towns. ! I do like hearing about your background – truly fascinating.:) BTW, I have looking at the Hobbit and LOTR movies over the past couple of nights. You live in a spectacular country.

        Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      They kept the local community well supplied with goodies. I wish I had seen their business in operation. I think I would have loved the bread they made.

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Strangely I have had the china tucked away safely for some time and it seems to have hastened the deterioration of the china surface. I think it missed being used!

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      You are right but we learn to live with it because it is part of the process of developing a history and maturing as a nation. Thank you for your appreciation of my first picture.

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Ah Cindy, you have a lovely eye for detail. The cloth is not as stunning as the textiles you showed us not so long ago but it belongs to those ancient traditions. The cloth is a simple little piece from Kashmir which I bought in India about 24 years ago.

      Reply
  6. Forest So Green

    I so enjoy reading your posts. I’m glad you have some items as memories of your grandmother. Annie

    Reply
  7. Letizia

    What a shame about the historical family building but it’s wonderful that you have the lovely tea set! I have such fond memories of having tea with my own grandmother and love seeing her tea set whenever I go to my mother’s house.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Old tea sets are so lovely. The reason this one I have lasted so well is because it was tucked away in a cupboard with other ‘best’ things and wasn’t much used as far as I know. My grandmother, like many of her generation, and subsequent ones, had her best and her everyday items 🙂

      Reply
      1. Letizia

        So wise! My grandmother was the same but her tea set is now a bit chipped, unfortunately, from a few moves. We glued it back together but the cracks are visible. That’s wonderful that yours is so intact!!

        Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      It is very solid. It has had a little restoration in recent times. I would use it more but it is quite heavy, especially when it is laden with cups etc.

      Reply
  8. pleisbilongtumi

    The wooden tray really reminds me to my mothers. It was given by her grandma in 1946 which the tray was made in around 1920. I still can recall if my mother serve coffee time for my father, a set of Chinese coffee pot and an antique glass container. After my mom pass away, they were taken by one of my older sisters. some day my sister move to another residence she sold on her garage sell ! ….. 😦

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      That is so very interesting. My grandmother’s wooden tray probably dates from around 1920 because their business started around 1918 and they sold it about 1949. The Chinese coffee pot and antique glass container must have looked beautiful on the tray. No wonder you remember it. How sad that you no longer have it. You still have your lovely memories 🙂

      Reply
  9. valeriedavies

    Susie Cooper… I lived not far away from her factory in Poole Dorset when I was a child… and I love your little tea-pot it looks perfect for spoiling oneself with a nice cup of tea at all hours !
    How sad about your family history and the earthquake…

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Did you notice the factory, or think anything of it, at the time? Funny that you mention Poole. I have just used a small Poole espresso cup for a sip of water. I don’t drink strong coffee anymore but I love the shape and colour of the cup so I thought ‘why not use it for water?’ I don’t want it to languish in a cupboard. The tea-pot is wonderful, as are the cups. They make the best tea. Yes, it is sad about the building, but buildings falling and being rebuilt and changing is what adds depth and character to history.

      Reply
  10. andrea

    Nice Teeservice.Nehm me times a piece of cake mit…herzlichen dank.hab a beautiful Sams TAG.Ich follow your Blog.Herzlichste greetings sends friends Andrea

    Reply
      1. andrea

        I thank you for the piece I eat very much like Marmorkuchen.Denn if this is really juicy and not so trocken…ich am glad that I found your blog.Greetings Andrea sends

        Reply
  11. melodylowes

    Time marches on – and isn’t kind to buildings or humans! It’s too bad this old building was lost in this way. I’m so glad you have some pieces of that historical page, a bookmark of that time and pace…

    Reply
  12. Playamart - Zeebra Designs

    It’s always a sense of loss when historic buildings are taken down; I sometimes think they leave an imprint long after they’re gone, and the memories of life linger.

    i love that opening photo! would you send some of those goodies my way? i’ve been painting, and it’s late, and a little sweet something and a bit of tea would be perfect before i go to sleep!

    z

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Memories of life certainly linger! I will set out another cup and send it on its way. The fruit cake is very nice and sustaining. It would be just the thing for you.

      Reply

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