Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Ploughing on



This week's Sepia Saturday prompt shows an old tractor on display at an international agricultural fair in Turkey.  No sepian photos of tractors in my family collection, but I do have a few photos of tractors, both old and more modern models. Our son-in-law John is a dairy analyst, but describes himself as "having been passionate about tractors before he could talk", and in his spare moments he writes a light-hearted, laid-back column entitled 'Grunt' for a monthly paper called Dairy News Australia, all about tractors and various farm equipment that John has acquired for use on his 40 acre property. Click here if you'd like to read one of John's Grunt columns. In this month's edition, he makes the point that he doesn't think much of tractor racing, because tractors are not built for speed, but for the amount of power they can put into the ground to operate ploughing and other kinds of farm machinery. 

The mention of tractor racing reminded me of the related concept of ploughing matches. I'm not certain about the exact criteria taken into account when judging such competitions, but I understand the main things to be looked for are the straightness and neatness of furrows. No point being finished first if you've made a hash of the field! Back before tractors were invented to make things easier, horses did the work, and the following sketch and historical account of a ploughing match describes how a few farmers got together and helped out one of their neighbours, in this case my 3 x great uncle William Cruickshank, by spending the day competitively ploughing three fields on his farm at Monquhitter Aberdeenshire. The names of the judges for each field are given, followed by lists of the winners and placegetters. I see that my 2x great grandfather Adam Cruickshank, brother of William, won his field of 12 ploughmen. Hopefully no favouritism was involved, especially as one of the judges' names was also Cruickshank.  There were a lot of Cruickshank families around the district, not necessarily related. At the end of the day a sumptuous dinner was provided for the participants by William's young wife Jane, and a good time appeared to have been had by all. 

These two Cruickshank brothers and their families were to migrate from Scotland to New Zealand some nine years later in 1863. 


Aberdeen Journal, 1 Feb. 1854, found through the Findmypast web site

When visiting the Southland district of NZ in 2013, 150 years later, we visited William's farm of Rosedale on the outskirts of Invercargill. It is a sheep property and is still run by Peter Cruickshank, a great grandson of William. No doubt there was a tractor or two around somewhere, but my photo only shows this old truck that the sheep looked to have commandeered.

We were also shown the property called Oakdale where Adam originally farmed, near the town of Gore. It is no longer in Cruickshank hands and the homestead that Adam and his sons built doesn't exist any more, but we were allowed to look around, and see old trees along the driveway and behind the homestead that the Cruickshank men had planted. I've shown a painting of Oakdale by Adam's granddaughter Charlotte Petrie in a previous post, and here is an aerial view of the property, taken while still owned by the family.

While there I took this photo of an old piece of equipment that might have been another remnant of that time, with a stand of big old trees in the background.

Later everyone gathered for a 'sumptuous dinner' at the nearby property of Helen, another Cruickshank descendant, and we hadn't even worked for it. Helen and her husband Frank have a beautifully designed garden, a feature of which is this huge piece of old machinery that one of their sons found and parked there permanently. I think it was some kind of harvester, not sure, but it was definitely going nowhere fast!

This next tractor photo comes from a colour slide collection, and my husband Roger is standing on the right in the back row. The photo was taken in about the summer of 1966, when his father Bob had been working in Vienna and took the family to stay with his wife Mary's relatives in Herefordshire for their summer holidays before returning to Australia. While there Roger was able to join  the local scout troop on a working camp across the border in Wales and remembers a very hard day's work collecting hay bales for the farmer. Part of that huge stack looks rather precarious, and several of the boys have bottles in their hands, but surely these scouts weren't drinking beer!  Little did young Roger know that decades later he would occasionally give his son-in-law John a hand collecting and stacking bales.

Here are a couple of shots of said son-in-law John with his pride and joy, a second hand Deutz-Fahr model, having fun enlarging the dam and ploughing a new track around it. 

    Here he's using the post hole attachment to dig holes for a new fence. There are always jobs to be done.

Whatever interest I have in tractors and farm equipment stems from John's connection, which is why I texted him this amusing advertisement that I noticed in a local newspaper in Invercargill on that NZ trip. I think he had taken a few days' leave from his day job at the time and was helping his dairy-farming father with silage, with only the occasional break.

Finally, here's another photo I texted back to John in Australia when my daughters and I were driving in Kent or thereabouts and got stuck behind this little old Massey Ferguson for a short time while it trundled along. Thankfully it wasn't too long before a passing opportunity came up.

John's off to a trade fair called Farm World this coming Saturday, probably checking out a few tractors. Meanwhile I plan to read up on tractors in other Sepia Saturday posts, and you can too at Sepia Saturday 272.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Horses and Holidays

This week's prompt shows some horses being led to drink from a stream. My mother and her immediate family were not horse people, and I don't have any photographs of horses drinking, but here are three horse photographs from my mother's early albums. The first one shows my mother's sister Patricia as a young child in about 1924, tentatively trying out a horse. From the right hand side of the photograph, it looks like this is possibly at a beach somewhere. With Pat is her father Jack Morrison.

This next photograph, entitled "Horse riding at Caroline Bay". It was taken in the early 1930s and shows my mother Jean taking a turn at riding.  Caroline Bay is a beach at the town of Timaru, some two hours south of Christchurch on the South Island of NZ. I think that is Aunty Bess walking beside Jean. Timaru was then and still is a popular beach resort.  Jean and her sister Pat were taken to Timaru by their maiden aunties Bess and Flo Forbes, who always helped their sister Mona Morrison out with her family of six children. They may well have been visiting acquaintances there.

I found the following poem called "Caroline Bay" in the Press of 21 December 1923, in a promotional article describing iTimaru as 'the ltown of Sunshine' and the leading seaside bathing resort of the Dominion. Another article referred to it as the Riviera of the South.

Snipped from the invaluable Paperspast web site.

Here are Pat and Jean perching on a rock overlooking Timaru Harbour on their holiday. This reminded me of my own visit to Timaru in 2013, when I photographed a local fur seal sunning himself on some very similar harbourside rocks.  

Views of Timaru Harbour from the rocks and of the attractive parkland above the beach in 2013:

I particularly like the following photograph, which is simply entitled "A little visitor from Canvastown". Living in the country, this young boy would have been a capable horse rider, come to check out whoever was visiting the Morrison family. Jean visited her uncle Bill Morrison and his family there in about 1947. 

This matching photograph taken by Jean in 1947 is of her Uncle Bill's home, the same little home in which Bill's parents/Jean's grandparents Daniel and Mary Bridget lived and had 15 children, 11 of whom survived.

 Canvastown in Marlborough NZ was the town where Jean's grandparents Daniel and Mary Bridget Morrissey aka Morrison lived, and their son Jack took his family went up there from Christchurch for farm holidays. Daniel and Mary Bridget had settled there not long after arriving from Cork Ireland in 1875 and raised a large brood in a very basic little house. Jean remembered that it had newspapers lining the walls and none of the conveniences of her parents' relatively modern home in Christchurch. Her cousin Valerie Coleman recalled that there was no plumbing or electricity in the house and meals were cooked in black iron pots that hung from iron rods over an open fire place. Mary Bridget worked endlessly to keep the household going. On wash days she drew water from  the hand pump to fill the copper that sat outside in a paddock, and then stoked the fire to boil clothes. A horse story passed down by Valerie's mother Eileen told of how her mother Mary Bridget had said that on one occasion back in the 1880s Daniel had arrived home with no pay from a month's work, and after a 'showdown' revealed that he had called in at a local hotel and apparently had bet his wages against a man called Joe that his pony could beat Joe's in a race. Needless to say Dan's horse lost. Mary Bridget jumped on the pony and rode back to the pub, where she demanded the money back from Joe, who insisted it was a fair bet and fairly run. However after a few arguments he paid up, although not in full.

Here is a photograph from about 1929/30, showing the three Morrison children gathered beside the local river, either the Pelorus or the Waimakarina, with their cousin Valerie, mentioned above. It looks like the same conical shaped hill in the distance.

Jean, Ken, Pat and Valarie

This photograph from another family visit in about 1933/4, shows Daniel and Mary Bridget Morrison at home in Canvastown, with two of their sons, Jack and Stanley, and Jack's eldest three children, Pat, Ken and Jean.  Mary Bridget died in 1935 and Daniel in 1945.

A number of Jean's Morrison cousins still live in the Marlborough district, and up until quite recently Cousin Denny Morrison in nearby Nelson operated a horse and carriage business for weddings and funerals.

Enough rambling around my family history in New Zealand for this week. To read more blogs inspired by this week's topic, just click here to go to Sepia Saturday #271.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Going to see a man about a dog


The Sepia Saturday prompt photo this week shows a flight attendant cuddling a puppy. Perhaps it was about to be sent on a plane but had somehow escaped captivity. In any event, it looks sweet and harmless, as puppies generally are, but strange full grown dogs are not always so appealing. I've mentioned in a previous post how I used to be quite fearful of dogs defending their local streets and would walk well out of my way to avoid them, but there's also a nice photo of my old elocution teacher with her dog, a golden cocker spaniel. 

On a historical note, I found the following article in the Windsor and Eton Express of 18 June 1836, describing the flight and capture of a rabid dog. It's of particular interest to me because the gentleman who captured and put the dog out of its misery was in fact my 3x great grandfather on my father's mother's side, Charles James Byles, the proprietor of the former Hope Inn near Windsor Castle. The Hope was unfortunately closed when its Royal nieighbours decided they fancied more of the nearby land, but that's another story. I'm not sure if the people who wanted Charles to release the creature were dog lovers or whether simply they wanted to take matters into their own hands, but clearly shooting it was the only safe and humane thing to do, especially back in 1836, when no treatment would have been available.  I doubt whether the chimney sweeps sent to be dipped in seawater could possibly have survived.

I've previously shown a photo of my first cousins twice removed, siblings Charlotte and Arnold Petrie, cuddling their pets here in about 1900, and here is a photo of my grandmother Mona Forbes, aged 9, cuddling a cat in 1906. 


Mona's daughter Jean was not keen on dogs and even confessed to once putting my stroller (with me in it) in between her and an approaching Alsatian dog, but I found this photograph of her taken in about 1936, when she and her mother Mona were visiting Mona's older sister Ruby and family.  Of course, meeting a dog belonging to friends or relations is very different to braving strange marauding dogs in the street. 


Despite the fact that one of his favourite answers was "going to see a man about a dog",  if some curious child queried where he was off to, my father was not a dog lover either, and consequently we never had dogs when growing up. Cute toys like Sweep here, who squeaked when you squeezed his tummy, were about the closest we got, as this photo of my baby sister Louisa in 1958 shows. Later in life both my siblings would have dogs in their own families and my parents got used to them being around when they visited. I do remember however that when my father was staying with some friends and discovered that their dogs were bathed in the bathroom, he declined to use it himself, and was consequently rather keen to leave! His attitude was probaby influenced by the fact that his father had been a inspector.


In 1976 I was introduced to these two boisterous but friendly red setters called Susan and Jane on my husband's grandmother's farm in Hereford. They needed a lot of exercise and we took them for walks in the lanes while we were staying there, as these photos show. That was fine but I must confess I really didn't like seeing them being fed toast scraps from the breakfast table. Uncle Cyril their owner was not married at the time and had no children, but instead had a succession of similar dogs, sometimes even giving them the same names, right up a few years ago, when the last one Emma 2 died. Cyril himself passed away in December last year.

Here is our daughter Claire visiting her Nan and Granddad in 1980, and playing with the same original Sweep dog that her aunty  had played with back in 1958. I think my sister Louisa may now have him in NZ.

Here's Claire again a little later, visiting my brother/her uncle and his wife and getting to know Patch, their Old English Sheep Dog. Claire's now married with a baby, but no dog as yet.

Dad did allow us a few cats, and here are a couple of pictures of our ginger tom Gus, gazing outside rather than admiring his own reflection.  He lived to the age of  about 21, never saw a vet after his initial vaccinations as a kitten, and survived being put outside by my father every night without fail. No kitty litter for him, and his favourite resting place was a bucket on its side in a sunny spot by the back door.  I don't think he ever attacked anyone or any wildlife, other than the odd mouse.

Finally here is a photo of our cat Bogart, a lovable blue Burmese whose father's name was Humphrey. He had a long life too and in later years enjoyed the comfort of this kennel that we found by the roadside and did up for him.  Our younger daughter and her husband now have a Labrador Kelpie cross called Shelley, but Bogie's kennel is too small for her, and when we occasionally have to dog-sit she has to find shelter in our shed. Nevertheless we're saving that little kennel, just in case it comes in handy for some future family pet.

RIP Bogie Blue

For more cute and cuddly pet pictures or perhaps photos of airline staff members, just click here.

Postscript: a couple of weeks after writing this blog, I came across this photograph in one of my morher's albums. It is a perfect fit for the dog-cuddling prompt, so I'm adding it in here. The photo shows my uncle Graeme Morrison, Jean's brother, and was taken in about 1942, when he and Jean went to visit their Morrison uncle, aunt and cousins in Wellington. Graeme loved animals and clearly thought their dog was great.

Thursday, 5 March 2015


This week's suggestions are based on the illustrated musical scores of the Violet and Adelaide polkas, but I really have nothing to offer in the way of musical scores or dancing.  I used to enjoy growing Saintpaulia however, commonly known as African Violets. It was fascinating how new baby leaves grew from the cut stems of single leaves suspended in water, which were then planted in soil-free nutrient and nourished by wick-watering and light. At one stage I had at least thirty plants of many vibrant colours and varieties. When we moved from Sydney to Melbourne we transported them carefully down with us and they continued to thrive for a couple of years, but sadly they did not do so well after we moved to our present home. I didn't want to resort to using artificial light, and perhaps the natural light and position was not as good. Gradually I had fewer and fewer healthy plants, until in the end there were none. I hope you enjoy this collage made up of various photos I took of my African Violets in their glory days (2000 - 2007). Sorry for the lack of sepia photos this week, but I think you'll agree, they would rather miss the point, and purple was always my favourite colour!

Here's a photo of my main indoor plant these days. It's an umbrella plant, and was given to us by my late sister-in-law as a house-warming present when we built our first home in Canberra in 1977. 38 years and 5 house moves later, it is a real survivor. It is constantly putting out new shoots and could do with another pruning shortly. No flowers, but it always looks green and calming.  I must put away that discarded little white African Violet pot outside on the deck. Gone but not forgotten!

You can find other more sepia toned interpretations of this week's theme here at

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Marching Proudly for King and Country, and for War Savings

This week the photo prompt shows a protest march in Russia during the revolution, and the participants look quite determined to make their points forcefully.  I've decided to concentrate less on the protest aspect, but more on the fact that it was a march.  

Here is a photograph from the collection of my late father-in-law Robert Leslie Featherston. Bob was an airman. He enlisted with the RAAF on 3 February 1941 and after training in Canada, flew with the RAF Bomber Command. The Lancaster bomber of which he was the pilot was hit by shrapnel on the night of 17 January 1943 and the controls were shot away. Bob and the rest of the crew baled out safely but were captured a few hours after landing, and consequently became prisoners of war. They were interned in POW camps from that date then until the end of the war.

Nothing is written on the back of this photograph mounted on card to indicate when or where it was taken, but it was clearly of significance to Bob. I think he might possibly be the man marching fourth from the front in the left row, although it's hard to be sure. 

A pressing clipping about Bob Featherston, taken from the Geelong Advertiser in 1943.

 The marching airmen may have been taking part in a parade that took place in Geelong Victoria, Bob's home town, on 7 April 1941. They are making their point simply by marching, and the crowd would have been in solidarity with them, whether cheering with approval or silent but supportive of the daunting task they knew lay ahead.  The purpose behind such marches was to encourage members of the public to support the war effort in a practical way by purchasing war savings certificates, as referred to in the article below.  

A report from the Argus, dated 8 April 1941, of a rally for the war savings campaign the previous day, snipped from the trove web site.

I also found the following photograph on the National Library of Australia's Trove web site, which might have been taken at the same or a similar march.

This photograph shows elevated views of parades in Moorabool and Gheringhap Streets with cavalry and foot soldiers.It comes from the Argus Newspaper collection of Photographs, State Library of Victoria. Date ca. 1940.

Moorabool and Gehringhap Streets Geelong are very close to where Bob and his parents lived in Little Myers St. If it was definitely 1940 it would be a little early for Bob to have been in uniform, as he did not enlist until February 1941. Perhaps he and his family were watching in the crowds. I like the way the office girls have climbed out the window and are watching the parade from on top of the shop awning, although this may not have been a very safe thing to do. They probably thought the men in uniform all looked very dashing.  The spectators are certainly dressed the same way as in Bob's photograph and the cars look similar too.  There are tram tracks in both photographs. Trams ran in Geelong up until 1956, when they were replaced by buses. I note there's also a tram track in the prompt image.  

I'll have to ask my mother-in-law Mary if she can give me any more details about Bob's photograph of marching airmen, although as she did not meet Bob until after the war, she may not know. 

 Incidentally, I wrote a blog for Sepia Saturday #254 last November  entitled Two Happy People, about another of Bob's photographs, but sad to say I have since discovered from Mary that contrary to our hopes, the couple pictured did not stay together. If interested, you can click here to see a 'post post script' that I added onto the end of the blog recently, just for the sake of completeness.

To see more marches, parades, protests, rallies, banner-waving and the like, just pound the pavement until you arrive at   

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Big and Little

Big and Little

I don't have anything to write about radio or television broadcasting, but the contrast in size of the two vehicles in the prompt photograph somehow reminded me of this photograph from the old family album that I inherited from my Aunty Pat, who in turn got it from her mother Mona Morrison nee Forbes.  Mona would have been given it by her mother Jane Isabella Young. The album itself was originally received on 17 January 1881 by Jane's brother Frederick, as a special prize in Standard VI at Kaiapoi Borough School, in Kaiapoi New Zealand.  I know this from the certificate pasted inside the front cover of the  album, scanned below, but unfortunately there is nothing else written in the album's photo index to identify any of the close to two hundred 'carte de visite' style photographs that have been carefully slotted into the album spots by someone, and I can only guess at who they might have been.

However, there is one photograph that stands out because it is so different to the rest, and here it is:


 I was pretty sure that these two people were not related to any of my Anglo Saxon ancestors, so I  googled and discovered that this gentleman was  very probably Zhan Shichai, known as Chang the Chinese Giant, and is pictured here with his diminutive Chinese 'wife' Kin Foo. Also known as Chang Woo Gow, Chang was reputedly over 8 foot tall and spoke about ten languages. He toured the world, visiting New Zealand in 1870, where some of the Young family must have gone to see him and obtained his card, which was then duly added to the family album. 

There are numerous other cabinet cards depicting Chang.  Different sites tell different versions of Chang's story, but some suggest that the Chinese lady Kin Foo may only have been only posing as his wife.  Chang could have become family of course. After Kin Foo died, Chang visited Australia in 1871 and met and fell in love with a Liverpool-born Australian girl called Catherine Santley. They married and had two sons.  After Chang retired the family settled in Christchurch Dorset, where Chang opened a tea shop and sold oriental curios. Sadly Catherine Chang Gow died unexpectedly in 1893 aged 44 and Chang died four months later, reportedly of a broken heart, although it was also suspected that he suffered from tuberculosis. He was aged 52, according to British death records. Their boys Edwin and Ernest who were of normal height were only 14 and 12.

For more broadcasts on this week's Sepia Saturday topic, just click here.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

True Love

The date of this week's Sepia Saturday coincides with Valentine's Day and Sepians are invited to blog about something connected to  the topic of the Valentine's day card pictured above.  Valentine's Day is grossly over-commercialised these days and we do our best to ignore it, or at least my husband does. Occasionally he might bring home a bunch of flowers and we might even go out to dinner together, but more often than not it's more or less a non-event, which is perfectly fine with me. I feel sorry for the young women who are pressured to feel depressed if they don't get cards from any admirers. 
Love is the theme behind the day, and to epitomize that, I thought you might enjoy seeing one of my favourite photographs of my parents Jean and Ian,  taken not on Valentine's Day but on 16 July 1949, the night they celebrated their engagement at  'Peter Pan' in Auckland NZ. 

 I love my mother's long fingerless evening gloves and her fur jacket, which I think one of her granddaughters may now own.  No fingerless gloves amongst her treasured possessions, but I really like this pair of long elegant gloves she had kept. I don't know how long ago it was that she wore them, but perhaps I'll recogise them in some other photo. I see you can still buy similar gloves, but I've never been to an occasion that required them.

From this fuller shot, it appears that although there were some other bottles on the table in the background, Jean and Ian had actually been drinking coke at this celebration, and perhaps they had been romantically sharing the bottle with two straws.. The good friends in the photo with them were Noel and Peggy Shannon, who had been married a couple of years earlier.  Peggy is also wearing similar long evening gloves. Like Jean and Ian, she and Noel are sadly no longer with us. 

I googled Peter Pan Auckland and discovered that it was a cabaret venue there. Here is an extract from a blog site entitled Heritage et Al.

"Established in the 1930s, the Peter Pan Cabaret in upper Queen Street was often booked for annual balls and private functions. The building had a large hall and a mezzanine floor with tables overlooking the dance floor. The Peter Pan Cabaret was a favourite venue for the thousands of American servicemen disembarking from troopships in Auckland from 1942 – 1944. The Cabaret’s swing orchestra struck up tunes such as “Chattanooga choo-choo”.
The Peter Pan Cabaret was an expensive nightclub venue due to the quality of the entertainment provided by Arthur Skelton and his dance band, who were the house band, and for the two course supper provided in the lower level room before the dance ended at midnight."
This paragraph from Wikipedia describes the Karangahape Road area, and I know my mother lived close by there in her early days of working in speech therapy clinics in Auckland.

"During the middle of the 20th century the Karangahape Road Area was a destination shopping centre, especially busy on late nights when family groups would travel in (often on public transport) and clog the pavements. A line was painted down the centre of the footpaths to regulate foot traffic and police were posted at the Pitt Street intersection to stop people being pushed out into the traffic. A typical late-night outing included seeing a Movie, shopping, a meal and promenading along the street window shopping and being seen. At this time the street had five Cinemas (The Avon, Vogue, Newton Palace, Playhouse and Tivoli) and probably as many Dance Halls (The Music Academy, Peter Pan Cabaret) including the Druid's Hall in Galatos Street which is still in operation as a music venue."

Jean and Ian first met at a tennis club dance, and my mother noted in her Life Album that 'it was a case of Some Enchanted Evening'. He rang her every day thereafter, and they were married on 22 April 1950, about 9 months after becoming engaged. I've previously blogged about their wedding here

As mentioned above, we have never really celebrated Valentines Day much, but I did find this photograph of us which was taken at home on Valentines's Day 1988. It looks romantic, and there's a balloon, card and bubbly to be seen, but I should probably explain that I didn't really make that heart-shaped cake specially for the occasion - it was in fact a left over from the one I'd made for our eight year old daughter's birthday party a few days earlier, as you can see in the bottom photograph.  That's one of our boys toasting us in the clown wig, and in the background you can just spot our little orange canary Fernando, who was a very vocal member of the family for at least 18 years. My mother gave him to us as a present because his colour matched the orange of our 1970s style kitchen in the home we built in Canberra. This photograph was two moves later, and he no longer matched the decor, but he was a great singer, especially if was music or other noise happening, and we named him after the Abba song. In the end he literally fell off off his perch, dying of old age.
 "If I had to do the same again, I would, my friend, Fernando!"

Funnily enough, we will be out this Valentine's Day, attending a class dinner organised by a group of my old school friends (Class of 1970), and the dress code inspired by the occasion is pink and black. Hopefully it will be great fun, and there will certainly be lots of old memories and stories told!
Happy Valentine's Day to all!

For more blogs that may or may not be about other peoples's delightful memories of Valentine's Day, just click here to be transported to Sepia Saturday #266