Tag Archives: heritage

Recorded Time

In my previous post, but one, I mentioned that  Sheri de Grom had nominated me to join the Travel Blog. One of the questions she asked me to consider, in relation to the nomination, was this:

“What am I working on at the moment?”

The short answer to that is, nothing much; except what is coming to life, right now, as my fingers touch the keyboard.

I am, however, reading; reading  memoirs,

Memoirs of Cairo and Christchurch

Memoirs of Cairo and Christchurch

and preparing, in my thoughts and heart, a small post to add to my private, family history blog. Perhaps, in a few days hence, the time will be right to commit thoughts to virtual paper. I hope so, for otherwise I will be in danger of forgetting the stories that came to me whilst I sat with the old ones. As  Kerry reminded us the other day;  ‘Write it down, label your family treasures, be a record keeper. Do it now.’

And it is precisely because some people take serious note of advice such as Kerry’s that I am now enjoying two memoirs, written about vastly different countries, by vastly different authors, but having, in common, all the intricacies, complexity and vibrancy of family and family relationships.

The first memoir is Apricots on the Nile, A Memoir with Recipes, by Colette Rossant.

Apricots on the Nile by Colette Rossant

Apricots on the Nile by Colette Rossant

Colette Rossant’s memoir includes the years she spent, as a child, in the care of her wealthy grandparents and their large extended family, in their mansion in Garden City, Cairo. Although the Egyptian reminiscences relate mainly to the period from  1937 to  1947, the timelessness of Cairo and the equal timelessness of family events  ( deaths, births, weddings, picnics, holidays,  guests, gossip and weddings ) meant that my own experience of Cairo life, in the late 1990s, came flowing through me, again, deep and rich as the Nile itself.

Closer to home, is the memoir Eventful Years, by Sir Ernest Andrews, my great great uncle.

Eventful Years by Sir Ernest Andrews

Eventful Years by Sir Ernest Andrews

Sir Ernest, or Uncle Ernie, as my mother called him, was a Christchurch City Councillor for thirty-two years, and nine of those years he served as Mayor of Christchurch. He began his Council service in 1918 and retired in 1950. During his time in local politics, he witnessed the 1918 Flu Epidemic, the Great Depression, the 1931 Napier Earthquake, the Second World War and the Ballantynes’ fire . Eventful Years covers all these events and more, but what is not specifically mentioned is that, during his tenure as Mayor, he lived  in his daughter and son-in-law’s modest, two bedroom home, with their four children and my mother. Quite a houseful! But my mother loved living in that vibrant,  occasionally  rambunctious, household of young and not so young; helping with the little ones whilst their mother acted as Mayoress for the widowed Sir Ernest.   My mother was still living there when she married; her wedding photos were taken in the beautiful garden of that compact home,

My mother in her happy place.

My mother in her happy place.

her wedding reception was held there, and, even after her marriage, she returned to stay with the family, until my father’s family moved to Christchurch, and she was able to move in  with her husband and her in-laws.  Thus it was in Christchurch in those years. Though very much smaller in scale and wealth, not so very different to a similar period in a large, lively family in Cairo, at least as far as familial ties, and caring and sharing,  were concerned. ( I doubt, however, that my staunch Methodist relatives indulged in poker parties as  the Palacci family  did! 🙂 ).

“So, as I end this stage of the family history, sketchy as of necessity it has had to be, I again place on record what I owe to a long list of brave and honourable forbears, and especially to the example and influence of a good father and a gracious mother.” (Eventful Years, Chapter X )

I would also place on record that the last time I looked, more than a year ago, this special house in our family history was still standing but it was in an area badly affected by the 2010/2011 earthquakes.  I do not know if it remains today.

And, in case you are wondering, this is not the story I am planning for my family history blog. I have quite another in mind. This one is at the periphery of that one to come.

And, again, in case you are wondering why I removed the dust jackets of the memoirs, it is to acknowledge the importance of recording the outer and the inner, the cover and the contents, as can be seen in  The Art of the Dust Jacket;  the latest exhibition organised by our City Council funded Art Gallery in our City Council funded Central Library. ( Can I hear Uncle Ernie’s approval of these initiatives? He was not only a councillor but a  writer, an educator, a printer and a publisher.)

Finally,  for not much reason at all….save that  it is lovely, and is the result of our City Council’s long-standing support of public gardens… a  winter camellia at Mona Vale.

Like a wedding dress; a camellia at Mona Vale, another of my mother's happy places.

Like a wedding dress; a camellia at Mona Vale, another of my mother’s happy places.

© silkannthreades


Apple pie and the longest night

June 21st;  the winter solstice; the longest night of the year.

The sun will set tonight at 5.01pm and not rise again till 8.03 am. A long, dark night is ahead. Harsh winter days are ahead, too, but, after this solstice, this time of standing still, the days will lighten and lengthen and provide promises of the warmth to come.

I have been quiet; gathering in the sunshine (when it appears); thinking and reflecting; allocating my physical and mental resources, carefully and sparingly.  I have been reading your blogs, as and when possible, enjoying your stories, your creativity, your company. You filter through my screen, reach out with your words and images, and become the surround sound, the presence, of my silent space, until the phone rings, or the doorbell trills, and my real-time world reminds me where I am.

Where I am….in a kitchen, looking at dishes, waiting on the sunlit bench, to be sent to the dishwasher.

Dishes standing still, waiting to be washed.

Dishes standing still, waiting to be washed.

In a kitchen, looking at the dishes, but sensing the sweetly fragrant camellias, at my back, on the sunlit table.

Yet, I am not entirely present, in this kitchen, for at the edges of my mind, I am dwelling in the time of my elders, seated at small kitchen tables, near old coal ranges, delighting in warm winter puddings, or bowls of hot porridge. And I am chuckling that this little girl, my mother’s big sister,

Best Apple Pie Maker in New Zealand

Best Apple Pie Maker in New Zealand

grew up to be the winner of a National Apple Pie competition in New Zealand, in the 1950s.  ( Yes, cooking competitions existed before  Masterchef) Who would have guessed it?  She was a star in the making.

My aunt is NOT in this photo but these people are the placegetters in the 1959 Apple Pie Competition. ( The photo of my aunt with her prize-winning pie is lying somewhere deep, and presently undiscoverable, in family files, read junk piles! )

Best Apple Pies in New Zealand 1959Placegetters in apple pie baking contest, holding their winning pies. Negatives of the Evening Post newspaper. Ref: EP/1959/2616-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/30664376

Best Apple Pies in New Zealand 1959 Placegetters in apple pie baking contest, holding their winning pies. Negatives of the Evening Post newspaper. Ref: EP/1959/2616-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/30664376

The darkness is coming; the sun is edging westward in the sky. Is it time to stop the memory clock and make a pie, perhaps?

Winter Puddings for 1957 or 2014Maori Affairs Department. APPLE PIE - (Te Ao Hou - No. 18 May 1957). Ref: Mao18TeA. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/199657

Winter Puddings for 1957 or 2014 Maori Affairs Department. APPLE PIE – (Te Ao Hou – No. 18 May 1957). Ref: Mao18TeA. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/199657

Or should I light a candle, take up the aged photo albums, and dwell a little longer with the old ones?

The blessings of the Solstices, the still time, to you all.

© silkannthreades

 

Resting Places; a Trio

Resting Places; a Trio, in which I continue the theme of   resting  places.

This Friday, April 25th, we will be commemorating  Anzac Day , which, in many respects, may be more widely and generously honoured in New Zealand than our national day,  Waitangi Day.

Looking back through my blog posts, I see that I have made Anzac or Gallipoli references in at least 8  of my posts and zero references to Waitangi Day, which, although a tad shameful on my part, would be  representative  of how large the events of Anzac Day loom in the general psyche of our nation.

Be that as it may, here is my small tribute to Anzac Day; a trio of resting places.

1. For the Sons of Gallipoli

2.For Captain Charles Hazlitt  Upham, probably New Zealand’s most famous soldier, who was “Modest and selfless,…  and…. keenly aware of the sacrifices his generation had made to ensure that New Zealanders could live, as he put it, ‘in peace and plenty’.” http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/5u2/upham-charles-hazlitt

If you could spare one minute and 56 secs, I would highly recommend a listen to the wonderful message by Charles Upham, following the award of  his Victoria Cross in 1941. His selflessness and concern for others are evident. I especially like the way he ends his speech with a very New Zealand,  Kia Ora. http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/speech/54/charles-upham-discussing-his-1941-victoria-cross-award

Resting Place https://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2013/10/27/3252/of Captain Charles Hazlitt Upham V.C. and Bar

Resting Place   of Captain Charles Hazlitt Upham V.C. and Bar

3. For many nations at the Commonwealth War Cemetery ,El Alamein, Egypt. ( My son inspects “the guard of honour”.)

Commonwealth War Cemetery, El Alamein, mid 1990s

Commonwealth War Cemetery, El Alamein, mid 1990s

A final note  on a great project:

“An ambitious project will be launched on Anzac Day to photograph all surviving World War II veterans.

The Veteran Portrait Project is being run by the Institute of Professional Photographers in conjunction with the RSA.

There are about three thousand WWII veterans still alive, all now in their late 80’s, 90’s and a few over a hundred.The aim is to photograph as many as possible on Anzac Day, wearing their medals down at their local RSA.”

Lest We Forget

Lest We Forget

© silkannthreades

 

Seeing the New and the Old

The blogcation saga continues…..

From  childhood days to the present……..where my friend and I  re-visit  old connections, in new contexts, at the Pacific Chapel, in the Transitional  Cardboard Cathedral,

Pacific Chapel, Cardboard Cathedral.

Pacific Chapel, Cardboard Cathedral.

and consider how our lives have changed,

and our landscapes,

The Broken Cathedral

The Broken Cathedral

yet discover we remain young at heart and *best friends forever.

(*Cautionary note: the concept of ‘best friends forever’ was not one that was part of my colonial ‘growing up’. In our social circle, at school, at church, people came and went. Some came for 3 years, some for six months, some children only came ‘home’ for school holidays; there was no ‘forever’ in relationships. There was only now and a knowing that, eventually,  everyone would leave. Yet, it is that lack of permanence in our community that, somehow, continues to hold us together, forever. )

Sunday Best

Sunday Best

Update:  It’s almost a month now since my childhood  friend came to visit and we discussed, amongst many memories, our spiritual beginnings in the Anglican Church in Fiji. Our faith journeys have taken different paths since those early years, but I continue to find great solace and peace in Anglican church surroundings. For me, stepping in to certain Anglican churches is like a home-coming.

© silkannthreades

Looking Back

Still on the subject of my blogcation; first there were the  Preparations  and, then……..

My guest arrives….

We look back.

From 2014 to 1966

From 2014 to 1966

Mr Carter's classes

Mr Carter’s classes

The Two of  Us at Malolo Street 1966

The Two of Us at Malolo Street 1966

Mr Hodge's Sunday School Class 1964

Mr Hodge’s Sunday School Class 1964.  St Peter’s Anglican Church ,Father Butler’s residence, Drasa Avenue.

The Beginning

The Beginning : ‘When I was Three I was hardly me. When I was Four, I was not much more.’  A A Milne

Update: It has been a difficult week. It is tempting to look back to the past and think all was perfect. It was not. As a child I was dumbfounded, and unbelieving, when I realised that, at the age of five, I would be going to  Lautoka European School and my best friend would not. Fortunately, those policies were changed within the next few years as Fiji headed towards Independence, and my friend and I were able to spend a short time together at the renamed school. It became Drasa Avenue School.

The events of my current week, and  those contained in my post, seem to relate well to this quote

“Give us grace and strength to forbear and to persevere. Give us courage and gaiety and the quiet mind, spare to us our friends, soften to us our enemies.” 

This is the prayer inscribed on the bronze memorial to Robert Louis Stevenson in   St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh, Scotland. Robert Louis Stevenson was, amongst many other things, a witness to the colonial history of the Pacific Islands. Clanmother writes (and recites) about Robert Louis Stevenson’s connection to  the Pacific  here.

© silkannthreades

 

Creative Interlude or a City at Play

Now that I have my wheels, and passengers, ready for the road, it’s time to resume my gallivanting; first of all with a look in the rear view mirror, so you can see some of the jaunts I took during my 17 day blogcation.

Looking back…..

In the midst of my not very busy holiday schedule, on a not very nice weather day, my friends and I had a short interlude in the centre of Christchurch; short because interludes usually are, but, also, because it was a beastly cold day, not suited to our yet to adjust, lingering-in-summer, bodies.

Cold, as it was, and we were, we did see a little of the fun side of  the city. Here is my record of the day.

The Chalice, our millennium statue, sometimes referred to as the ice cream cone.

Art work wrapping around the ruins.

 

Portrait let out to play, from the Art Gallery.

Rita Angus's Portrait of O'Donnell Moffett http://christchurchartgallery.org.nz/bulletin/175/quiet-invasion/

Rita Angus’s Portrait of O’Donnell Moffett Quiet Invasion

Rise Ballerina

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Is She amused by events?

The Queen crowned with a bicycle helmet

The Queen crowned with a bicycle helmet

Pretty tiles replicated and replaced on New Regent Street.

Oh, it is a  lovely playground we have in our city.

A scaled down braided river at the Nature Play Park

A scaled down braided river at the Nature Play Park

This post was prompted by Sally at http://lensandpensbysally.wordpress.com/  who alerted me to a New York Times article http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/06/travel/after-earthquakes-a-creative-rebirth-in-christchurch.html  ,published on April 6th, about the creative rebirth of Christchurch, post earthquakes. It is an excellent article. Thank you Sally. I only wish you had been with me to focus your camera on the intriguing sights we saw, on our city excursion, at the beginning of April.

© silkannthreades

Are you ready ?

I was born to gallivant …….

always ready for an expedition, on real wheels

Ready to ride.

Ready to ride, at 6 months @ Verona Street, Lautoka

or imagined ones.

Making do

Making do…..Verona Street, Lautoka, Fiji.

Are you ready to resume our journey again? I am.

Good friend, GPCox of http://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com/ ,says I have been away for 17 days. Gosh, has it been that long?  🙂

© silkannthreades

 

 

 

Resting Places; Take Two

Resting Places; Take Two

At Tom’s,

Normans Road Post Centre

Normans Road Post Centre

I stop to browse the shelves; to see what’s new,

to post a letter,

and discuss the weather

The weather

The weather (remnants of Cyclone Lusi)

and the state of the nation,

and the state of the street, and the theme of the week.

Hairy Maclary and Friends http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hairy_Maclary "hungrily sniffing and licking their chops, they followed him past the school and the shops"

Hairy Maclary, from Donaldson’s Dairy, and  Friends “hungrily sniffing and licking their chops, they followed him past the school and the shops”

And catch, if I can, the tales, that Mavis

must tell, of Mrs Carbuncle’s feet.

If I linger long, and lost, in Nancy’s  garden of notes,

I am bound to hear of Audrey’s Jim, who’s rowed ever so well  in the Maadi Cup,

and big brother Ben, who’s working in London and enjoying the slum of his OE* flat,

whilst Susan’s Prudence has had enough and is heading back home, come next June, to give little Johnny and Sam the chance of living close to Nan, and squelching their toes in the soil of the land.

And I will hear Tom say, with wisdom and care, ‘That’ll be twenty, today, Alastair, and Margaret’s magazine will be here next week. See you then. ”

A few blocks north and it’s time to sit,

The old barber's chair

The old barber’s chair

in an old barber’s chair, where a golden-haired maiden, elegant and thin,

washes and trims this gossip’s, (yours truly 🙂 ), grey mane ,

whilst we discuss the earthquakes, the state of repairs,

and her good young man who knows how to cook and take care of the kids.

And, as we engage in idle chatter, Hamish and Ryan wriggle and squirm on the bench by the door,

waiting their turn (no appointments necessary)  for a short back and sides, because Mum, flipping texts and pages, said that they must,

all oblivious to the fact that once, over there, Charlie stood,

and sold a half loaf of bread to Martha and Fred, and a scoop of sugar for Mother’s tea.

Only Mother said could they have it on tick, because baby Mabel is sick, and Pa’s got no work till next Tuesday week.

And kind Charlie nodded, and sighed,  with wisdom and care, and allowed them to add broken biscuits for free, because he knew Billy and Annie would pay when they could. Then he secured the safe in the floor,

and went to his home, out the back door,

where his Kathleen played and the dog kept watch.  And Charlie was content that, at least, for this day, he had food in the larder, stock in his shop and a place to stop, with his lovely Louisa and  daughters, two.

The shop,  which is now Madisons for Haircuts,  was operated (owned?) by my grandfather for a few years, from 1921. It is one of the few physical reminders of our family history that survived the earthquakes.

[This will be my last post for a few weeks. I will be taking a rest from writing my blog as I will be busy with house guests until early April. I will try, as best as I can, to read your blogs and comments but I may not be as active as usual.]

*OE means Overseas Experience, a little like a Gap Year.

Rubens and the Quince..a Retrospective

There are some images which, once imaged on one’s inner eyeball, are almost impossible to erase.  Rather like the earworm, but with eyes.

Take this, for example, which I stumbled upon whilst looking for ways to prepare quince.

“I love the quince’s shape, its generous curves and bulges. It is a voluptuous, even magnificent fruit to look at, like a Rubens bottom.”(Nigel Slater)

Why, yes, Nigel Slater, why yes, I now see that it does, but, sadly, this revelation means  I will never be able to look at a quince in the face again, and certainly not with a straight face, on my own visage. If you would like to see the connection between quinces and Rubens, gaze on these beauties that my forager friend brought me, a few weeks back,

Quinces, faire  and fulsome

Quinces, faire and fulsome, with bay and pear and lemon

Quince, faire and rubenesque

Quince, faire and rubenesque

and, then, check out  the works of Sir Peter Paul Rubens.

Not withstanding the mirthful imagery, Mr Slater did provide an excellent recipe for cooking quinces, first by poaching, then by baking them to persimmon-toned, bejewelled  tenderness. The fresh, delicate, faintly rose like perfume of the quinces filled the kitchen during the slow cooking process. And it made me think how this aroma, so rare for me, and many other modern house-persons,  was, once, long ago, a  more common scent in New Zealand homes.

Poached and baked quinces in Haddon Hall bowl

Poached and baked quinces in  Haddon Hall bowl

 For, even as early as 1820,  the plans for the Kerikeri mission station garden in the North Island of New Zealand contained quince trees.   I wonder if the rubenesque appearance of the fruit crossed the mission’s collective eye . Perhaps they were more interested, as most early settlers were, in the basic food value, rather than the aesthetics, of their garden produce.

George Butler Earp, who wrote  Hand-book for Intending Emigrants to the Southern Settlements of New Zealand, (1851) 3rd ed, W S Orr, London, said of New Zealand gardens  (in 1852) that ” no English garden, however expensively kept up, can for a moment vie with the beauty of a cottagers’ garden in New Zealand in the beauty of its shrubs, to say nothing of the vines, melons, Cape gooseberries, peaches, all English and many tropical fruits, which will grow anywhere in the greatest luxuriance.” (Source: Cottage Gardening in New Zealand by Christine Dann)

I think that Mr Earp’s enthusiastic  ‘anywhere’ may be an overstatement, but, in the beginning  years, settlers had little choice but to make their gardens grow, wherever they found themselves. It was a matter of survival. However, once the  northern hemisphere newcomers had worked hard, and worked out the upside-down growing seasons in  New Zealand, and understood  what grew well, and what didn’t, on their patch of soil, they would have had sufficient fruit to make the jellies and jams and pastes  that they remembered from the old country. (Imagine the excitement of writing home to Mother that you had made your first batch of quince jelly with fruit from your own garden 😉 )

And, if harvests were good, there may have been enough surplus fruit to make  taffety tarts, quince pyes, or apple and quince shortcake.  Or other such scrumptious treats, filled with memories of absent mothers and grandmothers and lands left behind.

Apple shortcake, minus the quince, was a favourite of my young days. For me, it holds the essence of good meals, in the kitchen, and a long tradition of excellence in family baking.   I don’t know if my/our recipe dates back to earlier generations but both my grandmother and great-grandmother were skilled producers of food for the table and pantry. They may well have made shortcake.

Great grandmother circa 1927 working hard on the farm.

Great grandmother circa 1927 working hard on the Harewood farm. I don’t know if she cooked or grew rubenesque quinces but she made a fine parsnip wine, or so I am told.

And, finally, a little more nonsense about the quince…..to counter balance the visual earworm of a Rubens’  posterior, however beautiful it may be.

© silkannthreades

Sweet as…peachy-keen…..and a little delicate, too

Just before the wild,  once-in-a-century, flood, stormed through our city,

An insider's view of the Rain of the Century

An insider’s view of the Rain of the Century

and  burst the river banks ,  a friend went foraging across town and, then, treated me to some of her finds…beautiful, tree-ripened blackboy peaches…

Gathered in before the storm

Gathered in before the storm

Which are rarely found anywhere except in an old garden, or a forgotten corner of a park, or a vacant lot.

They are sweet as…in a tangy way, with a very distinct aroma and intense depth of flavour (struggling for words here…. perhaps the best description is …”definitely not an anaemic supermarket peach”).

Definitely not a supermarket peach

Definitely not a supermarket peach

They are delicious fresh from source, if you don’t mind the fuzzy, rough feel of the skin as it touches your tongue, but  they are even better when cooked, not the least because of the rich purple-plum hue that the fruit develops as it mixes with sugar and heat.

Blackboy peaches are my favourite peach for baking and stewing and juicing and jam-ing.

But here’s the little bit of ‘delicate’ associated with them.  I am not so peachy-keen on the name; blackboy. For as long as I can remember that has been their name, and, truthfully, I didn’t think much about it, until a few years ago. They were what they were, and always had been, at least in New Zealand.  In much the same way, that Chinese gooseberries were Chinese gooseberries for my parents and grandparents until, one fine day, in 1959, they discovered they were not. The gooseberry (which it actually wasn’t anyway) had morphed in to kiwifruit because the American market was not too peachy-keen to bite anything tainted with the name Chinese.  Yet, Chinese gooseberries, before they became kiwifruit, did, at least, have some logic to their name, since the seeds for the kiwifruit came to New Zealand from China, in 1904.

But blackboy peach….what’s with that name? No one, not even the plant nurseries, seems to know the whys and wherefores of this nomenclature, or how the tree came to New Zealand and became so popular with home gardeners.  Or, if anyone does know, they’re not telling their tale on the internet. I have searched and searched, fruitlessly.

Was it called blackboy because our down-to-earth ancestors couldn’t be bothered with a fancified, foreign name similar to  Sanguine de Manosque, or peche de vigne, or the rather gruesome sounding Blood Red Peach? Or did they find it confusing, or strange, to call them  Indian peaches, or stranger still,  Indian Blood Peaches ,and wanted to make them more homely and warm and friendly, so latched on to blackboy; in acknowledgement of the fruit’s skin texture and deep, rich colour. Since the blackboy peach has been a much-loved fruit, I doubt any harm or slur was intended by the name but, perhaps, if these trees and their delicious, precious fruit are to survive beyond a few backyards and abandoned sections, it’s time for a makeover. How about calling them something like,  ‘Sweet as…’  What could be more modern ‘Kiwi’ than that, to honour a fine fruit of our New Zealand  heritage?

Shall we drink to that?

Sweet as...peach tea...anyone?

Sweet as…peach tea…anyone?

A note of sympathy:

With the sun shining again, it has been  peachy-keen for some of us, today. The some of us who have dry feet and dry homes, that is, and who can enjoy the sunshine without stressing about a massive clean-up and more insurance claims. It’s been a rough 36 hours, or more, for some of our citizens, and their trials are far from over. The earthquakes have changed land levels and river beds, and flooding will  be an on-going problem in certain areas of the city.

© silkannthreades