Friday, 27 November 2015

Holding on to Cyril

The prompt this week shows children holding hands in a circle. I don't have any similar family photographs, but like Marilyn, I do have a sweet one of a brother and sister holding hands. In this case my mother-in-law Mary was out walking in the city somewhere with her little brother Cyril, who was some seven years younger than his big sister.

Cyril Olds was born in Hull,Yorkshire in 1932. He enjoyed working outdoors but later joined the Civil Service and became a VAT inspector, although he always said he didn't really like having to tell people of their tax liabilities. He didn't marry until he was 50, at which time he gave up smoking. He and Margaret enjoyed over 30 happy years of married life together until sadly he passed away almost a year ago from lung cancer.

The photo below shows Cyril when we last saw him in 2014, in the spring garden of the family property,Yew Tree Farm in Clehonger near Hereford.  Margaret and her late first husband had been next door neighbours ever since Cyril's parents Frank and Doris Olds bought the farm in 1956. After she was widowed Margaret downsized to a cottage just across the road, and following their marriage in 1984 Cyril moved in there too. He looked after Yew Tree Farm in his spare time, maintaining the cider apple orchard and tending the gardens that he had established, and at various times he raised or agisted sheep, pigs and cattle in the fields.  Cyril and Margaret also ran a nursery business from the greenhouses that Cyril had installed behind the barn. They had no children but always had a dog or two for company.  Here is a photo I've posted previously of Cyril and his mother Doris at work gathering apples when I first visited them in 1976.

    Cyril. above right, with his wife Margaret, his younger sister Helen and their nephew Roger (son of Mary),  in April 2014.

                               Photo taken from the upstairs bedroom window of the farm.

     Young Cyril has headed home and his tractor now stands idle in the greenhouse. Without him, the future of the farm is uncertain.

May 2015

          Over the years Cyril and Margaret visited Australia several times, staying with big sister Mary in Canberra and exploring parts of the coastline from Queeensland down to Sydney.  Helen and Margaret are coming again to spend Christmas with their sister/sister-in-law next month.

                                                 R.I.P. Cyril Walter Olds, 19.10.1932 - 14.12.2014

  The Black Sorrows, Hold on to Me

     To find out who else may be holding hands or playing games for Sepia Saturday #307,
just click here.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Off we go, with our hats and bags

This week's prompt shows some young boys playing a game that possibly involves throwing something into their hats.  It's probably not tiddliwinks, marbles or hopscotch, games that were popular when I was at school. Here in Australia these days school hats are compulsory for primary aged children, as part of their uniform, and it's certainly a case of 'no hat, no play!'

I'm presently away from home, but here are a couple of photos that I just happen to have handy. The first is from 1960 and shows my brother and myself on his first day of school. We both had big hats, although we're not wearing them.

This second photo shows our older two children ready to go off to Montessori school. No uniforms or hats but they do have backpacks like one of the boys in the prompt. Our son must have been almost 3 at the time. 30 years later and he's getting married this Saturday.

For more blogs connected in some way to this week's prompt, just go directly to Sepia Saturday #306

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Whether the weather be fine or not


In 2002 we bought tickets for a balloon ride, to celebrate jointly reaching our half centuries. We were living in Sydney at the time but had chosen to fly over Canberra, because we liked the idea of looking down on the National Capital scenery, including its monumental buildings and central man-made lake, which I've blogged about previously. We drove down the night before and were up bright and early, arriving at the meeting point as required, around 5 a.m. I think. Unfortunately the weather wasn't looking too good, but the company remained confident in forecasts that the squalls and showers would clear in time for us to take off. The photos below include one showing my husband helping to tether our balloon while it was being inflated.

Up, up, up ...

... and away!  It appears from that fourth shot that we were aboard the first of the four balloons to become airborne.

Above and below are two rather gloomy shots of our view from on high, including the old and new Parliament House and the High Court. You can see rain approaching in the distance and after only half the scheduled flight time, our pilot decided that the safest and most advisable course would be to descend as rapidly as possible. We didn't complain, as there was nowhere to shelter away from the heavy rain streaming down the sides of the balloon canvas and funneling into the basket and its occupants, so by that stage we were completely saturated. We landed unceremoniously in a lakeside car park, feeling happy to have avoided ditching in the lake. Our tickets included a sumptuous hotel breakfast but we were way too wet to be able to enjoy that and instead we just headed straight back to my mother-in-law's Mary's place to get warm and dry.

 We were offered either a raincheck (!) or a half refund, and we did try to book again some months later, but that day turned out to be too windy to even take off, so that was it. We didn't try a third time as it was too difficult to arrange when we didn't live close by. By then we had left it too long to get that refund, but never mind. Our balloon adventure came to a soggy end, but it was fun while it lasted, sort of!

I took the following rather contrasting shots in 2006 during the annual week long balloon fest held in Canberra. We were again visiting Mary and enjoyed being spectators around the lake on that occasion. The building on the right is our National Library, with a balloon house floating above it, and you can see the Flying Sćotsman up there too, together with a bee and a few other unusual balloon shapes as well, their colours reflecting in the lake. Lake Burley Griffin itself appears blue rather than brown or grey on a blue sky day.

Here's the Flying Scotsman landing 

and going down, down, down, in a rather undignified fashion. 

We see early morning balloons floating over our house here in Melbourne quite regularly, but we don't feel tempted to join in. Mishaps don't happen often, but when they do they can involve near misses or worse. One had to make a forced landing in someone's front garden last year. It wouldn't have fitted into ours! For more ups and downs of various kinds, just float away and see what other bloggers are doing for Sepia Saturday #305. very possibly involving more sepia that you see here.

Perhaps there will be balloons of another kind at our son's wedding, which we're flying off to attend next weekend. I rather doubt I'll have a chance to post next Saturday.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Spirits of our past

No double exposures or ghostly images from me, but I have interpreted the above photographs as showing people from the past watching over others. I like to think that our ancestors do that in some unknown way, and so here is a collage showing my daughters, granddaughter and myself surrounded by some of our female ancestors. Although they are gone they are always with us, in the sense that there's a little bit of all of them in all of us.

Top row: Jane Young nee Patterson, Mary Anne Hays Byles nee Bills
Middle: Mona Morrison nee Forbes, Jean Cruickshank nee Morrison, Jo Featherston nee Cruickshank, Laura D nee Featherston, Claire K nee Featherston, Isabelle K, Charlotte Cruickshank nee Joss, Elin Cruickshank nee Hickey
Bottom row: Jane Isabella Forbes nee Young, Myrtle Cruickshank nee Byles

Jane Young and Charlotte Cruickshank were just two of Isabelle's thirty-two 4x great grandmothers. 

For more interpretations of this week's prompt photographs, click here and you'll be spirited away to Sepia Saturday #304.


Here's a re-do of my collage, including 3 more ancestors. Bottom right is Janet Cruickshank nee Mackie, 5x GGM to Isabelle, at top right is Mary Forbes/Paterson nee Anderson, 4x GGM and in the middle row at far right is Mary Bridget Morrison/Morrissey nee McNamara, 3x GGM. I've also replaced the older photograph of Jane Isabella Forbes with a beautiful photograph of her as a young woman, at top left.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Mirror, mirror on the wall ...

Sepia and family history are distinctly lacking in my post this week, but just for fun here are a few family photos prompted by the image in the card. I thought firstly of the following shots I remembered of one of our boys in about 1990, sleuthing around the house looking for who knows what. I don't think he was dressed up for Halłoween, but he does look a bit like the gentleman in the mirror.
Then here is our older daughter a few years later in 1995, looking very grown up as she makes herself beautiful in front of her bedroom mirror, getting ready for her Year 10 formal.

Halloween wasn't much celebrated when our children were small. Jumping back 10 years from 1995, here is a photograph of this good witch cake that I made once, not for Halloween but for the above daughter's 5th birthday in February 1985, when we took her and seven young friends to watch a play entitled "Ballads and Bushy Tales", written by Audrey Blaxland and and performed by the local Marian Street Theatre for Young People, of which Ms Blaxland was the founder.  Amazingly I've even noted the names of all the party guests in my photo album. The play sounds typically Australian, nothing to do with witches, although it might have involved a mythical creature or two, such as a bunyip perhaps. If you don't know what a bunyip is, you can see a statue of one here in an earlier blog of mine. There could be a few of them lurking about on Halloween night. Our other daughter actually lives near a town called Bunyip, but I don't think there are any out there.

Halloween has become more widely recognised here in recent years thanks to commercial influence, but it's not part of the Australian culture and is still not celebrated by the majority of Australians. In our local area these days groups of children do dress up and go out wandering, with the younger ones accompanied by parents hovering in the background. If we are happy to welcome them, we can put a pumpkin or similar symbol on the gate, but if not we won't be bothered by them. Here in Victoria an 'unofficial' long weekend is coming up, as we get a holiday on the following Tuesday for running of the Melbourne Cup, commonly known as 'the race that stops a nation', and always held on the first Tuesday in November. People who aren't interested in dressing up for either racing or Halloween often take the Monday off and go away somewhere for a short break. We won't be taking the day off this year, but on Saturday we may drive out to a folk festival that is held annually in the town of Maldon.

Finally, here's a photo taken by our first daughter, showing her little Londoner last year, dressed up in a cat costume and surrounded by pumpkins for a Halloween party organised by her mother and friends. Their babies all looked very cute in their outfits but must have wondered what on earth it was all about! We are greatly looking forward to seeing Isabelle and family down here for her uncle the sleuth's wedding very soon now.  I guess he eventually found what he was looking for, and we will definitely all be dressed up for that happy occasion! 

Happy Halloween to those who celebrate it, and to any Australians and others interested in horse racing, good luck in the Melbourne Cup!

For more memories and reflections about Halloween, sleuths, mirrors, beautiful girls etc, go to 

Postscript: one year later and here's our little Londoner again, getting ready for her nursery Halloween party a couple of days ago. 


Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Miss Gladys Victoria Cruickshank Petrie, Lyric Coloratura, 1898 - 1990

This week's Sepia Saturday prompt shows a girl playing a harp. I don't have any relatives who were harpists as far as I know, so instead here is a photograph of another musical performer, Miss Gladys Petrie, who was a lyric coloratura singer and a first cousin of my grandfather Oliver Cruickshank. Her mother was Jessie Cruickshank, aunt of Oliver and the only sister of his father Charles. I don't know whether Oliver and Gladys knew each other, but it seems likely because Oliver is mentioned in a letter written home from the Front in World War 1 by Arnold James Petrie, brother of Gladys. I've included two examples of articles found on Trove that describe Gladys's successful musical career. The second article from 1935 suggests she was only going home to New Zealand for a few months, but I believe she did not return to Europe again.  She resided from then on at the family home in Invercargill with her parents and sister and in the Electoral Roll of 1980 her occupation was given as retired musician. She died in Invercargill NZ in 1990 aged 91.

I'm no student of singing or classical music, but according to Wikipedia, "coloratura soprano is a type of operatic soprano voice who specializes in music that is distinguished by agile runs, leaps and trillsThe term coloratura refers to the elaborate ornamentation of a melody, which is a typical component of the music written for this voice. Within the coloratura category, there are roles written specifically for lighter voices known as lyric coloraturas and others for larger voices known as dramatic coloraturas. Some roles may be sung by either voice. For example, Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor was famously done at the Metropolitan Opera for many years by lyric coloratura Lily Pons, whose voice was quite small and light, but more recently the same role was sung there by Ruth Ann Swenson whose voice is larger and duskier, and even more dramatic by Maria Callas who has [cast] a long shadow. Categories within a certain vocal range are determined by the size, weight and color of the voice.
[It is] a very agile light voice with a high upper extension, capable of fast vocal coloratura. Lyric coloraturas have a range of approximately middle C (C4) to "high F" (F6). Such a soprano is sometimes referred to as a soprano leggero if her vocal timbre has a slightly warmer quality. The soprano leggero also typically does not go as high as other coloraturas, peaking at a "high E" (E6).[1] Bel canto roles were typically written for this voice, and a wide variety of other composers have also written coloratura parts. Baroque musicearly music and baroque opera also have many roles for this voice.[2]"

PARIS CALLING. (1931, April 30). Table Talk (Melbourne, Vic. : 1885 - 1939), p. 36. Retrieved October 20, 2015, from

Note: As often happens, Australians are keen to claim successful New Zealanders as their own.

From What Women Are Doing. (1935, October 19). The Australian Women's Weekly (1933 - 1982), p. 23. Retrieved October 20, 2015, from

You can find other information and photographs relating to Gladys and her family here and here. in earlier posts  Both her mother and sister lived to become centenarians.

Now to the present day, and here is a link to a video on the Facebook page of a beautiful young Welsh born Australian singer and harpist from Adelaide, whom we have watched play and sing at festivals here several times. Siobhan Owen is very talented and has been performing in Europe and the United Kingdom for the past twelve months. If you can't open this video clip on her Facebook page, just click this link to read more about her. Enjoy!

      For more Sepian blogs on the prompt this week, click and go to Sepia Saturday #302                    

Friday, 16 October 2015

1996 In Profile

The prompt for Sepia Saturday #301 is a lovely photograph of 4 very sweet young children, possibly with their father, who appear to be transfixed by something to their right which we cannot see. Looking through my collections of old family photographs unfortunately did not reveal any similar profile photographs, so instead here are a few shots that I took in 1996 when I was taking a photography course and did some of my own developing and printing in the home darkroom that I created in our ensuite bathroom. The quality of the printing is not great, but it has at least survived almost 20 years. Time marches on!

The first two photographs were taken at a local Carols by Candlelight evening, and show our younger daughter putting her heart and soul into the singing, with her grandma sitting beside her, out of focus. The bright lights are the candles in their cardboard holders.

Next are three shots showing our younger son, his older sister and their father engaged in watching various sporting events. Back in those days we seemed to spend the majority of our weekends ferrying children to soccer, baseball, softball, hockey or tennis matches.


We did manage to get away occasionally, usually over the summer school holidays, and here are a couple of photographs of our four at the beach, although perhaps this was a cooler day, as they don't really look like they are about to race each other to the waves.

That's my contribution for this week. Eyes right for more blogs related to Sepia Saturday #301.