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Friday, 16 December 2016

First Christmas at Turramurra

When Sepia Saturday had this photo prompt a couple of years ago, I included photographs of family meals for Christmas 1988 with both sets of grandparents, who then lived in Canberra. You can read my previous blog here.
The following year my parents retired to Wamberal on the NSW Central Coast, about an hour north of Turramurra, the Sydney suburb where we lived. In the same year we also moved from a small house to a more spacious one, but still in Turramurra, and we decided that it was about time we stayed home and had our own Christmas dinner in our 'new' home. The photo below shows my parents, the children and me sitting around our newly purchased dining table for Christmas dinner, 1989. Our two younger children blowing party horns aren't sitting on dining chairs, perhaps because we couldn't trust them not to spill any food on the good chairs, or perhaps because they didn't like the feel of the upholstered seats on their bare legs. I think this must have been the first time I cooked a turkey, as up until then we had always spent Christmas at the home of one set of parents or the other.  In the second photo the family is downstairs posing with the Christmas tree.

The Christmas holiday season of 1989 was marred for many people by the fact that just three days later on December 28, the city of Newcastle and surrounding areas were rocked by a strong earthquake. Sadly thirteen people lost their lives and many more were injured and/or lost their homes as a result of the widespread damage caused by the quake. We were getting ready to drive to my parents' place when we heard a loud noise, but we did not realise what it was until we heard the news later that day. My parents were already back at their home in Wamberal, which is about an hour south of Newcastle. Unbeknownst to both us and them, their house had suffered serious structural damage to its foundations which became worse over the years but was not immediately apparent at the time. My father died in 2000 and it was not until my mother decided to sell in 2005 that the house was assessed as being in a precarious state and requiring extensive repairs. Consequently she was forced to sell at a price well below market value. The house now looks very different, having been  purchased by builders who were able to stabilize it and give it a complete makeover. 
Out of interest, a search of newspaper articles on the Trove website revealed that earthquakes have been experienced in the Newcastle area well before 1989. One report dated 1842 refers to 4 shocks having been experienced since August 1837. You can read the relevant article here.


We are flying up to Newcastle today, from where we'll drive to our beach unit and spend a few days with our daughter and family who are visiting from London. Bush fires rather than earthquakes are more of a potential hazard these days, but fingers crossed! We then return together to Melbourne for a rare full family Christmas gathering at home with all our children and their families, and I hope our two younger grandchildren will be able to make use of these bibs that I made for our younger daughter back in 1988. I'm practically the same age now as my mother was in 1989 and whilst my parents are no longer with us, my 91 year old mother-in-law will be coming and has made us a lovely Christmas pudding.

Best Wishes to all fellow Sepians! Here's our Christmas tree, suitably protected from inquisitive toddlers, I hope!

And finally, you might enjoy seeing this Gingerbread creation in the window of a local bakery, which will be donated to a children's charity or hospital. Santa is motorized and climbs up and down his ladder, although he never actually delivers. The sign says it took 60 hours of work, 50 kg of gingerbread, 15 kg of icing sugar, 5 pastry chefs ... and a partridge in a pear tree!

Thursday, 8 December 2016

No Christmas snow men or women here!

This week's Sepia Saturday photo prompt shows a couple who have apparently sculpted an attractive female snow maiden wearing a rather less than attractive two piece costume. Christmas in Australia falls in summer and therefore we normally expect to enjoy warm to hot weather. So far here in Melbourne we have only had a few isolated days of heat this summer, and in fact the forecast tonight mentioned the chance of snow showers on the ranges, but snow at Christmas anywhere in Australia is nevertheless a pretty rare occurrence. I've previously posted the few photos I have of winter snowmen here in an earlier blog.

 So instead I thought I would include a couple of photographs of sandy figures, which are more relevant than snowmen are to an Australian Christmas. We usually spend at least part of our Christmas summer break at the beach, and the first photo shows our youngest daughter aged 3 in 1990, buried up to her neck in sand, with exaggerated creations for arms and feet. 

The second photo is one I took a few years later at the San Diego Zoo in December 1996, when we took the children for a family driving holiday in the USA visiting San Diego, Arizona, Utah and Nevada before returning to LA and of course Disneyland.  This professionally sculpted lady hippo was adorned with a Christmas garland in honour of the festive season. I wonder what the real hippos in their nearby enclosure thought of her.

There was no snow to be seen in San Diego, but we did come across some of the white stuff in both the Grand Canyon and Bryce Canyon National Park, where the thousands of strangely shaped natural pinnacle type structures called hoodoos were surrounded by tinged with drifts of white. With a little imagination, they could look like crowds of standing figures. The local Native American tribe believes the hoodoos were once the ancient Legend People, who were turned to stone because they had abused the land and its resources. Here are a few photos in both black and white and in colour, in which the snow stands out more clearly.


We'll be up at the beach for a few days next week, so just in case I don't manage to fit in another blog before we go, here's wishing everyone a very merry Christmas and happy holiday season from Turner Street, where one of our neighbours sneaked out in the dark of night last week and decorated all of the fifty plus plane trees that line the street. Quite an impressive effort which must have taken quite a while to complete and would have required many metres of red ribboning fabric! These big trees provide us with a lovely shady canopy in summer but they also make for lots of exercise when we have to sweep up enormous and seemingly endless piles of fallen leaves in autumn.


For more blogs on this snowy theme, or not, just click and go toSepia Saturday #347

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Counting down the days

The prompt for this week's Sepia Saturday # 346 is an old German Adventskalender, pictured below. Although I have had these calendars in the past, both as a child and as a parent, I don't have any photographs or special memories of them.  

I was looking in one of my mother's scrapbooks for some alternative source of inspiration and right at the end of this particular book was this Christmas card sent to us by my mother's Auntie Maud. I imagine she felt it was very appropriate, because my parents and I were just returning to New Zealand by sea after a year in the UK. I know my mother suffered greatly from sea sickness and the 5 week voyage from London must have seemed interminable, especially with a toddler to cope with, so no doubt she was counting down the days to our safe arrival in Auckland on 1 January 1955.  Of course we weren't battling the high seas aboard a clipper ship like the one pictured on the card, but were passengers on the RMS Rangitiki, which was in fact named after a clipper ship of the same name, as you can see on a site that gives an interesting history of the Rangitiki and her sisters. One of those sister ships was the Rangitata, which had taken us over to England just over a year earlier.  There's a passenger account on that site of the first post war voyage of the Rangitiki in 1948, in which its passengers and crew survived both a week-long hurricane and a heat wave. I certainly hope we did not have to endure anything quite like that in 1954.  I was only just two at the time and on one occasion I was discovered by a purser wandering the decks, having somehow escaped from our cabin in the middle of the night!  I confess to having mentioned this in a previous blog about the voyage, which you can read here.

Annie Emily Maud Morrison, aka Auntie Maud, was a sister of  my grandfather Jack Morrison. She was a single lady who was a postmistress for all her working life and I think she was probably a favourite aunt for my mother. Here she is with my baby brother, who was born some 9 months after we returned to NZ.

Of course other friends and family members welcomed us back home too, as shown in these telegrams from my mother's friend Brenda, and my paternal grandmother Myrtle Cruickshank nee Byles. She and my grandfather Oliver Cruickshank lived at 6 Park St Rangiora.

The final leg of our trip was a flight from Auckland down to Christchurch on 1 January 1955 with what was then the New Zealand National Airways Corporation, aboard the RMA Papango. It's interesting to see what flight information was provided to passengers back in the days when there were no video screens to look at. The handout included a request to pass the following sheet on to the next passenger promptly, but either my mother did not comply with this request or perhaps she picked up a couple of spare sheets at the end of the flight. Kaikoura which is mentioned is where extensive damage has very recently been suffered as a result of a major earthquake. Harewood is the suburb in which the Christchurch airport is located. Unfortunately it doesn't reveal how long the flight was expected to take in total. 

To see a photograph of the RMA Papango, click this link, which I found on a forum site called The Wings Over New Zealand Aviation Forum. The site includes a detailed history of the Papango, which was a DC-3C.  Like the ship Rangitiki, the Papango had been employed in war service during World War 2.

 We were home safe at last, although in fact it was to be only about sixteen months later that my father accepted a position as a research scientist in Canberra and we left NZ for good. Myrtle, Maud and the rest of our Cruickshank and Morrison families were not happy!

Now we are counting down the days until the arrival of our London family, who are coming to spend Christmas with us. They are flying, not sailing, but with a new baby and a toddler it may well seem like a very long 24 hours, but will be worth it I'm sure.

To read more blogs linked to Sepia Saturday #346. click here.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Cousin Doug the Officer

I have previously blogged about various relatives who served in either the first or the second World War, but I don't think I've mentioned this gentleman, Douglas Drummond Lind, who was a second cousin to my mother Jean Cruickshank nee Morrison. Doug's grandmother Emily Young was an older sister of my mother's grandmother Jane Isabella Young. Emily was born in Aberdeenshire in 1847 and emigrated to New Zealand in 1851 with her parents Charles Young and Jane Patterson, her older sister Anne and baby brother William. Charles and Jane had another seven children born in NZ. When Emily Young got married in 1865 to John Andrews, her little sister Jane Isabella, aka Jeanie, was only 5. Emily and John Andrews had twelve children.

Doug Lind was born in 1910. He was the eldest son of Emily's daughter Emily Mary Andrews, born 1880, who married William Andrew Lind in 1909. Jane Isabella Young married Charles Forbes in 1897, and their daughter Mona, born 1897, married John Morrison, aka Jack, in 1919. My mother Jean was born in 1926, so again there was quite an age gap between her and her second cousin Doug, but clearly the family ties remained close, despite the age differences and the fact that Charles and Jane Young had 55 surviving grandchildren, all first cousins to Jean's mother Mona, 

The first photograph above is definitely a studio portrait of Doug Lind in uniform.
I believe the lower portrait is also of him at a later date, although I'm not certain of that fact as there is no identification on the reverse.

The following page of snaps from my mother's album shows Doug and a fellow airman visiting the Morrison family at their Christchurch home. In the third photograph are my mother's parents Jack and Mona Morrison nee Forbes, first cousin of Doug's mother Emily Mary, the Morrisons' elder daughter Pat and two of their sons, Derek and Peter, who I'm sure is playfully wearing cousin Doug's cap.

In April 1942 on another page of the album below we see Ken with his father Jack, older sister Pat, little brother Peter, and his friend  Geoff. Again Peter is wearing 'his' pilot's cap.

I'm not sure of the date of the first page above, but you can see from the caption that those on the following pages were sent from England in 1944. Sadly by that time Ken Morrison had been killed in action, when his plane was hit while flying on a mission over Germany on 25 June 1943.

Doug was promoted to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant in 1944. Unlike my Uncle Ken, he was one of the lucky ones who survived the war and returned home, where hopefully he was able to resume life in peaceful New Zealand.  Earlier this year I discovered a friendly and amusing letter that he had written to his cousin Jean on the eve of her wedding in 1950. I would like to have included an extract here, but unfortunately I seem to have since mislaid it. My filing system clearly leaves a lot to desired!  Doug married the following year and had a family himself. He passed away in 1986.  I'm not in contact with any of his children or grandchildren, but if any of them should come across this blog about Doug, I would love to them get in touch. In particular, perhaps they can confirm whether or not the second portrait is of Doug.

 Out of interest, since publishing my blog about Ken and his airforce friends which can be read here, I've had contact from relatives of two of the other men who were also in the nightclub photograph, telling me how they greatly enjoyed seeing the photographs and reading the blog.

For more blogs on the theme for November of War and Peace for Sepia Saturday #345, click here.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Getting from here to there - a trip down memory lane

When we have a car, we use it for lots of different purposes but some are more enjoyable than others. For this second October post I've selected a variety of photos of friends and family out for some some event or occasion, posing in front of or beside the cars that got them there. Apart from providing the means of transport, it seems they also make good backdrops!

My mother-in-law Mary on a camping trip, posing beside her new husband Bob Featherston's pride and joy, a Nash, in 1947.

Mary, Bob, his mother Grace Eleanor Featherston and her sister Dulce, enjoying a picnic day out somewhere.

Mary's English aunty Grace White (nee Newth) with her husband Len, their son Alan and dog, posing  with their car as backdrop, probably somewhere in Gloucestershire where they lived.

On an annual Christmas camping trip in the 1960s, with my Dad Ian and my brother and sister, and the Consul station wagon, which would have been packed full of all the equipment needed for a week in a tent at the beach. I can see the essential Eski is still there in the boot. No portable fridges or other mod cons back then!

My husband in the early 1970s posing with his trusty first car, a dark green 1950/51 Austin A40, which took us on many a picnic and some longer trips before we reluctantly decided we had to let it go a few years later. He was sad to sell it for a mere $60.  I am currently getting a wooden model made of it as a Christmas present for him. Happy memories, although I can't say I missed its occasional crank starts and other idiosyncracies!

Husband second from left, with some of 'the boys' on a post-school trip from Canberra up to Queensland. He didn't try taking the Austin that far however, as that would have been asking too much of it.

5 January 1974 and the A40 is all dressed up by the boys in toilet paper and towing tin cans, ready to transport us from our wedding reception venue to the hotel where we were to spend the first night of our married life. My Dad looks to be scratching his head at the sight of it!

My grandfather Oliver Cruickshank posing with his Morris Minor, which coincidentally we got to drive for a few days on our honeymoon in NZ, while he and his second wife Maisie were holidaying in Australia after attending our wedding. Funnily enough, my mother's photo caption doesn't mention the car at all. It simply says  "Granddad Cruickshank enjoying his new Parka".  I think this was because the Parka jacket had been a recent gift form Mum and Dad.

Mum and Dad dressed in their finery beside Dad's Ford Fairmont in 1975, in which he chauffeured the daughter of some old friends to her wedding. I had learnt to drive on this car after leaving school in 1970. Driving the A40 soon afterwards was a rather different experience!

That's all from me this time, but no doubt you can take many more trips down memory lane and elsewhere here at Sepia Saturday #344:


Monday, 3 October 2016

On Yer Bike!

The theme for October is "From Here to There", and the prompt photograph shows a group of lady cyclists out for a ride. My first photograph shows my Aunty Pat and her brother Ken 'riding tandem' on their tricycle in about 1925. They must have been aged around 4 and 2 respectively. Young Ken had a lovely head of hair back then! Both Pat and Ken have featured in my blog a number of times, in particular here and here, but in this photograph they are simply young and innocent children having fun together on their tricycle.  

That tricycle was to last through four more children in the Morrison family. Below is young Derek taking his turn, followed  a few years later by Graeme and Peter, on this occasion riding it in the snow. I don't have a photo of my mother riding it, but I'm sure she would have also had her turn.

Uncle Peter above was exactly fifteen years older than me, as I was born on his fifteenth birthday. Here I am getting a dink from my Dad on the handlebars of his bike in Cambridge England in 1954, where bikes were and still are a very popular mode of transport. No child seats or safety helmets back then, but somehow most of us survived.

Back in Christchurch NZ as a 3 year old I regularly rode my smart 3 wheeler between home and my grandparents' house, Uncle Peter was still living there with his parents, but the old family tricycle beloved by him and his siblings had probably been given away by this stage.

I'll finish with a photograph of a real tandem bike. I've ridden tandem a couple of times and I can't say I enjoyed the feeling of not being in control, but here is Sergeant Pilot Bob Featherston, looking relaxed and carefree as he rides on the front of a tandem bike with a similarly uniformed friend in Bournemouth, early in World War 2. Bob had enlisted with the RAAF and was serving with the RAF Bomber Command. It cannot have been very long after this ride that the Lancaster of which he was in charge was shot down during a raid on Berlin. Bob was promoted to Flight Lieutenant whilst imprisoned in Stalag V111B, in Lamsdorf, Poland, where he was interned under harsh conditions for over two years, from January 1943 until the end of the War. I'm glad he was able to have some fun beforehand. 

The photograph comes from my late father-in-law Bob Featherston's collection of negatives. Another friend must have taken the shot for him.

For more blogs on this month's theme, just hitch a ride, any way you can, across to Sepia Saturday #344.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Men, children and dogs, at work and at play

My third post on the Sepia Saturday theme for September of Work and Play.

The staff at Robinson's timber mill, Rai Valley, 1904, on the site of the Rai Tavern. Photo supplied by Ross Higgins
Standing, left to right: Paul Clifford, Harry Mortimer, Jim MacLaine ( recently returned from Boer War), Vera Hewetson, Les Hewetson, A.J. Hewetson, Bill Turner, Mabel Hewetson, Dave Wilson, Daniel Morrison, Archie Hubberd ( Stock Inspector. Nelson).
Seated, left to right: Ben Wilson, Billy Morrison, Bill Andrews, Alec Alquest, Alec Maule.

Manager Arthur Hewetson is accompanied by his three children in this photograph, and they might behoping  their father will have time to play with them and the dogs once his working day is over, but there are another couple of family members present here, namely my great grandfather Daniel Morrison and his eldest son, Daniel William, known as Billy or Will. Billy's son Denny kindly shared a copy of the photograph with me. My grandfather John aka Jack Morrison was Billy's younger brother by twelve years.  Their father Daniel Morrison and wife Mary Bridget had fourteen children in total, and Daniel appears to have been an enterprising man who was able to turn his hand to many different jobs during his working life. In an earlier blog posted here, there is a photograph of him at his desk in his last position, as secretary of a local dairy factory. In addition to the various jobs referred to in the obituary also included in that earlier post, Daniel was described as a letter carrier on his marriage certificate and as an accountant on the birth certificate of his first child.

I was very interested to find this second photograph on the web site of the Marlborough Museum, as it is believed to show a group of men relaxing outside the single men's quarters at the same mill. You can read more about the photograph here on the Museum site and can enlarge it on that site for more detail, but I think at least two of the men appear in both photographs, namely Jim MacLaine, standing with his hands on a stick or tool handle, and Bill Andrews, crouching in the doorway with what looks like a squeezebox. It might even be Billy Morrison on the far right, holding either a rifle or some instrument. I'm not sure if it is him, but if it is, I'd like to think it was the latter he was holding rather than the former. He was certainly still a single man in 1904, before he married in 1913 and had ten children with his wife Violet.

An exhibit from Photographs of Marlborough 1859-1909, on Marlborough Museum web site,  photographer James (Jim) Irvin, Junior

For more blogs on Work and Play, click and go to Sepia Saturday #343 

Friday, 9 September 2016

Great Aunty Flo was a tailoress

My grandmother Mona Forbes had two older sisters, Flora and Bessie, more commonly known to the family as Aunties Bess and Flo. Flora Euphemia Forbes born in 1888 was the elder of the pair by just a year, and she was nine years older than my grandmother, with two other Forbes children being born between Bess and Mona. Flora was a tailoress, and the photograph below shows her at her place of work, second from left in the middle row.  It looks like the gentleman on the right could be in charge. The boy next to Flo looks quite young, and perhaps he was wishing he could be outside rather than working, but on the other hand he would probably have been pleased to earn a wage. Most of the  staff look reasonably happy to be there and hopefully they enjoyed the work they did. It seems likely that the photograph was taken some time between 1910 and 1920.

Unfortunately I don't know the name of the tailoring firm that Flo worked for but it was in the business centre of Christchurch New Zealand. I've just discovered what looks like a very interesting collection of almost 2000 photographs of the Christchurch region inthe period 1880-1920 taken by a photographer called Steffano Webb here at and this photograph below of the premises of this Christchurch ladies' and gents' tailor James Olds is part of that collection. Perhaps this was where Flo worked, perhaps not. I may never know.

In subsequent years the aunts spent much of their leisure time helping their younger sister Mona care for her six children. They lived in the same street just a few doors away so they would have done plenty of child-minding and they often accompanied the family on outings. Bess had her own business as a dressmaker and she and Flo made clothes for the Morrison family as well as for themselves. The little snap below was very faded, but I think it shows the aunts with three of their charges, including my mother in front, who looks like she was not wanting to be photographed that day in the early 1930s. 

Here are Aunty Bess and Flo in their sixties, celebrating the christening of their great niece in 1953. They would no doubt have been happy to help my mother with her family too, had she not left New Zealand not long afterwards, firstly for a year in the UK and then to live in Australia permanently. Neither Bess nor Flo ever travelled to Australia and sadly I don't think that my mother was able to return for a visit until after Flo died in 1959. I was too young to know my great aunts but I heard lots about them from my mother, who no doubt missed their help when she had to cope in a new country while Dad spent long hours at work. His work took Jean away from family, but both he and she remained staunch New Zealanders at heart.

For more Sepian contributions on the theme of work and play this month, click and go to Sepia Saturday #343