Tag Archives: transport

All at sea

This post is for my friend  Bailey Boat Cat http://baileyboatcat.com/ and his beloved Nocturne.

For the past few weeks I have been immersed in family history. Perhaps immersed is too mild a description; it’s more like drowning or struggling to keep my head above water, amidst a sea of facts and documents and wild guesses and endless possibilities…. so, that James was a cordwainer and that James was a postman and the other James was a dairy hand. Or were they? And what about that Robert; farm servant and agricultural labourer, or were they  two, different Roberts? And then, there are the Marys and the Elizabeths and the Marys and the Elizabeths and the Mary Elizabeths, who are sometimes occupied with nothing and sometimes with ‘domestic duties’. Domestic duties? What is meant by domestic duties? Is that short hand for the bearing and rearing of a dozen offspring, in as many years, all confusingly named James or Elizabeth or Mary or Elizabeth Mary and James and Robert or Robert James. After a couple of hours of research, I am begging my forebears to throw me the lifeline of a Hortense or a Hermione,  even a Phryne (Fisher, if possible ), but the best I get is an Isola, which isn’t a bad effort.

Isola? Isola! How did a little girl, born in New Zealand, to Scottish parents acquire the name Isola? Does it mean Island or Isle? I may find out one day but, in the meantime, my mind has sailed away to islands and how we, the families of now and before, travelled from one set of islands to another, on ships and boats with marvellous, exotic names.

In our family history, I find a list of boats, ships and sailing vessels that have held, for varying lengths of time, small portions of our life stories, as travellers and adventurers, workers and servicemen. Here is a small selection of  some of the names: Bolton, Caroline Agnes, Zambesi, Zealandia, Waikato, Mokoia, Neuralia, Ulimaroa, Warrimoo, Pinkney, Adi Rewa, Matua, Tofua, Oriana, Ratu Bulumakau and Seaspray . Each of these vessels has a fascinating story and a genealogy and lineage of  her own. Many of them were sent to watery graveyards or to the hell of a scrapyard. An ignoble end to the fine engineering and craftsmanship of the craft that made possible much of our family lore.

For those who are curious about maritime vessels, here are a few links.

http://www.wrecksite.eu/wreck.aspx?131733

http://digitalnzgeoparser.tripodtravel.co.nz/map/photograph-of-the-ship-mokoia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Pinkney_%28APH-2%29

http://www.nzmaritime.co.nz/matua.htm

This is a photo of myself (the little blonde curly-haired child) with my brother and mother, on board the Matua ( I think) circa 1957. Possibly en route from Fiji to Sydney or New Zealand or, maybe, both.

Matua? 1957?

Matua? 1957?

http://www.ssmaritime.com/Tofua.htm

(note the punkah louvre forced draught ventilation on the Tofua)

http://www.ssc.com.fj/seaspray.aspx

http://www.castawayfiji.com/

This photo was taken aboard the Seaspray (still alive and well, I think) on a trip to  Castaway Resort, circa 1967.

On the Seaspray to Qalito Island

On the Seaspray to Qalito Island

Anchor note: I didn’t  know this when I started my research but I have since discovered that August is New Zealand Family History Month; happy coincidence.

http://www.aucklandlibraries.govt.nz/EN/Events/Events/Pages/familyhistorymonth2013.aspx

From Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing,
Only a signal shown and a distant voice in the darkness;
So on the ocean of life we pass and speak one another,
Only a look and a voice, then darkness again and a silence.

  • Pt. III, The Theologian’s Tale: Elizabeth, sec. IV

Canada Dreaming

Where do you sail?

Where do you sail?

Although I grew up  on a very little island, my life was far from little or insular. I am not sure how the term insular came in to being because most island life, it seems to me, is  exposed to the comings and goings of the wider world.  It is in the very nature of an island to be outward looking; with eyes always turned to the horizon at sea and minds dreaming of what lies beyond.

Some  of my childhood dreams revolved around a huge country, namely Canada.  My dreaming was  influenced by a book we had, at home, about a modern (1960s!) Canadian family exploring their own country. The book had a stunning photo of what I thought must be the most beautiful lake in the world, Lake Louise. And I yearned to be like that travelling family, standing by that lake, breathing in the beauty of Canada.

My yearning and dreaming, and, most likely, some suggesting to my parents that we take our next holiday in Canada, came to nought. Nought, that is, unless I count my greatest (ever!) school project, entitled Canada. I completed this ‘master’work  during my last year at elementary school, when  I was about 11 years old.  I remember the hours I spent on it; the careful penmanship, the drawings, the maps, the frustration of the maple leaf  that refused to be drawn correctly; the beautifully straight, ruled lines I made across the pages. Ah, it was a labour of love; and  a labour of  heavily plagiarized content, as well. References, or sources, were not part of a school project in those far off days 🙂

Maybe the project lacked originality, but I adored it, and have kept it safe for more than forty years. Like me, it has travelled the world and rested in many homes. Unlike me, it has stayed in good physical shape and, apart from some discolouration and a few loose pages, it is much the same as on the day I finished it.

Here is a glimpse of the project. As you look at the slide show, imagine a young girl, in an old, wooden classroom, in a little sugar industry town, on a small island in the large Pacific Ocean, studiously and carefully  recreating  the story of Canada. And, for extra fun, imagine also that maybe, just maybe, that circa 1968, there was, in the middle of Canada, on a deeply snowy day, a young person dreaming and writing about small islands in the far Pacific, for I am sure there was one such child.

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Did you look carefully at the brochure   for the Canadian Pacific Railway trains? I put it  in my project because I thought those scenes  were the epitome of elegance and luxury.

Note: to  11 year  old self….how could you do this?????

Erratum required

Erratum required

© silkannthreades

The street where I lived; the seat where I sat

Yesterday, whilst I was at the site of my former university  hall of residence, I gave myself a mind’s eye tour of my small room in the hostel. I remembered my bed, with its bright yellow bedcover and, at the window, my red and yellow tartan style check curtains; my desk tucked in the corner of the room, where I laboured at my handwritten essays and painstakingly counted the required number of words, one by tedious one. There were dictionaries and books around me, and above me on the shelves, and not a computer in sight. Not a phone in immediate sight either, although there was a phone booth  at the end of the  corridor. At the other end of the corridor were the toilet and bathroom facilities. This was student luxury,almost, for my time.

I like to believe that I have near perfect recall of every room in the houses of my life but, as I write, I am suddenly perplexed as to whether my room was on the second floor, or the third floor of the building, and were the bathrooms really on my floor, or were they on the ground floor? If they were on my floor, why do I have memories of traipsing up and down the stairs in a dressing gown.  Unless I have written such details in my ancient letters, now stowed in the attic, I will probably never know for sure. With the building long  gone, there are no easy means to  physically verify my memories.  Does it matter? Not much, unless ,in future years,  people are moved to investigate  the hygiene habits of hostel students in the 20th Century with as much dedication as we currently study the bathing practices of Ancient Romans. Stranger things have happened. The point is not my tiny personal memories, but the memory process itself. It seems to me that as the building goes, so goes our memory. Fallen and fickle.

Still pondering on how  our already flighty, tenuous memories become increasingly loose and lost  without walls to secure them, I visited another site today, where once I rested my head, placed my desk and supped my student suppers, (bread porridge in desperate times!). And where the bathroom was on my floor, but the toilet was reached by going downstairs, through the living room, past the kitchen and out the back door to the outhouse. Now, that I remember clearly! Especially the trips in winter frost and chill.

Once again,however, the old building I lived in is no more.This is what remains. Gravel and a gate.Gone When my cousin and I lived here, our residence was owned by the Public Trust and we paid a next to nothing rent.  Later, many years later, the building was lovingly restored by others and became The Under the Red Verandah cafe. The well-loved old building was destroyed by the recent earthquakes. These days the cafe, Under the New Red Verandah, operates from transitional buildings at the back of the property. Hilariously to me, the toilet block, though new, seems to occupy the same position as our old outhouse and laundry did! Is that my imagination on overdrive, or an accurate  memory trapped in plumbing systems?Under the New Red Verandah.

As I was taking photos, I discovered, to my great delight, that the bench seat, where I used to sometimes sit, under the verandah,  whilst  waiting for the bus, was still in place. Oh, the memories of freezing and freezing, and waiting and waiting and waiting for that bus, early morning after early morning, so that I could travel to the wind whipped central Square and wait ,yet again, for another bus that would deliver me close to the university, hopefully, on time for my first lecture of the day.  I sat on the bench again, viewed it from every angle and smiled goofily for the joy of finding the seat where I sat, on the street where I lived.

The seat where I sat;

The Seat where I sat

The street where I lived;The Street where I lived

The garden, we never had The Garden

and the cafe which,unhappily, wasn’t on our doorstep to spare me the sadness of bread porridge.Where was it when I needed it?

By the way, in the house that is no more, I still had my yellow bedcover, but my bedroom curtains were blue, my study curtains beige  and my trendy desk was a lively green and was slotted together without nails or glue. I had a red, round transistor radio; a phone downstairs in my cousin’s smoke-filled den, and a fabulous desk chair made entirely from cardboard. And, once again, no computer.