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.