Saturday, April 28, 2007
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
AN UNEXPECTED ANZAC VISITOR
We were sitting at the breakfast table this morning, when the phone rang.
It was Charles.
"Quick, Mum, come down to our place, and bring your camera. There is a Boobook owl in the tree in front of our house."
Now I should explain that just a few years ago, the Norfolk Island Boobook owl was the rarest creature on the planet. Loss of habitat, and the predations of rats and feral cats had taken their toll, and there was just one owl left. Maimitti, as the lone survivor was called (after Fletcher Christian's Tahitian wife) seemed doomed to a life of childless spinsterhood, and when she died, her species would be extinct.
It was decided to bring in two Boobook males from New Zealand. New Zealand Boobooks are very closely related to the Norfolk ones. They were released into the rainforest. Safe nesting boxes had been prepared, and programmes of rat and cat control were underway. We hoped for the best.
One of the males was never seen again. But the other one, miraculously, teamed up with Maimitti. He became known as Tintoela, which means "Sweetheart" in the Norfolk language.
Eventually the baby Boobooks arrived, and gradually over the years, the numbers began to increase in the National Park.
It was when the unmistakeable nocturnal owl call began to be heard in other parts of the island that we knew the recovery programme had been a success, and that the Boobooks were once again part of the Norfolk environment.
In recent weeks, we have been hearing the owl call at night in the woodland down behind "Devon" and "Devonside." Charles started playing a recording of the mating call from his window hoping to entice the bird closer, but with no luck.
Imagine his surprise this morning when he heard a fluttering in the Whitewood in front of his house, and there was a Boobook, in broad daylight. The creature did not look well, and seemed to be in some difficulty, using his wings to maintain his hold on the branch. Eventually he managed to gain a better footing.
We rang Cristina to bring her super-duper camera, with its amazing zoom. I myself only managed a couple of shots before my battery gave out! Meanwhile, the bird seemed to be watching us with equally strong fascination!
We also rang Robbie from Parks and Wildlife, and he came quickly with a long net, hoping to snare the bird, and have it checked out by the vet. However, as the net approached the creature, it spread its wings and flew to the branch of a nearby pine tree, too high up to be reached. It was, nevertheless, encouraging to know that it was still able to fly.
Eventually the boobook flew back into the bush. we hope he will be okay. Meanwhile we are delighted and amazed by this opportunity to view him at close quarters in broad daylight.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
When William was just a little bump on Kim's tummy, she asked me if I would be able to make a quilt for him. I readily agreed, but warned her that it would not be a "pretty" heirloom type quilt for a sanitised, pastel nursery. What I wanted to make was something colourful. Something that could go on the floor for him to kick and roll about on. Something that he could wrap around himself on the couch.Something that he could look at and discover things that would fascinate and delight him. A quilt that he could play with. A quilt that would perhaps get grubby and need to be thrown into the washing machine fairly often.
Over Christmas, when I should have been making a serious start on the project, most of my stash and sewing equipment was put away, to make room for the McRitchies, who were living upstairs. Even after they had moved over to Fletcher Christian, life seemed to be busy, and I kept putting off searching for just the right fabrics for the quilt.
But William's arrival on March 24th gave me fresh impetus...at last I knew the little man I was making it for!! I set about gathering together my most colourful "I Spy" type fabrics. They all came from my existing stash, except for a cheerful yellow print, which I bought mainly for the border. I also planned to scatter small pieces of it throughout the quilt, to help it harmonise with the more neutral colour scheme of the nursery.
Next, I made sure I had the right pictures to include, and printed off photos of familiar things onto specially treated fabric. There were pictures of William, his Mummy and Daddy, his four grandparents, his house, and of course, all the pets around Devon, who will no doubt play a large part in his life.
It did not really take me long to put it together, once I started, and I was wondering why I had put it off for so long!!
Having made the final stitches late last night, we made the grand presentation at the family breakfast this morning. William got to try it out for the first time. There were ooh's and aaah's from everyone, and as for William, well for now he finds the whole thing a bit of a yawn!
Saturday, April 14, 2007
John Mason catches up on the footie scores, Sienna is the life of the party as always, and William (in his All Blacks cap and mittens)enjoys his dinner from Mum.
Don't we have a lot to be thankful for?
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
The owner was anxious that the desk should go to an appropriate home, hence the advice about the upcoming auction.
When we heard about it, we decided it should definitely come home to Norfolk Island. Time was of the essence, and we hastily contacted the firm of auctioneers, with emails flying back and forth, I think the auctioneers were a little surprised that we apparently had an old photo of the desk, probably taken before 1871, when the Bishop was martyred in the Solomons.
John Coleridge Patteson had been a prominent figure in trying to stop the "blackbirding" going on at this time, whereby young island boys were enticed or forced to travel away from their island homes to provide cheap labour in places likw Queensland. Ironically, Patteson met his death when he was ironically mistaken for a "blackbirder" on the island of Nukapu, from where five boys had recently been taken. St Barnabas' Chapel on Norfolk Island was built as a memorial to him, fulfilling a long-held dream he had spoken about previously.
Patteson had left the desk to his cousin in England, the well-known Victorian novelist Charlotte Yonge. Because of this connection, as well as the Patteson connection, the auctioneers warned us that there was a great deal of interest in the item in England and in Australasia, which would no doubt push the price up well beyond the pre-auction estimate of 800-1000 pounds for a desk of that size, style and vintage. Regrettably, in spite of the owner's intentions, it would probably go to the highest bidder.
The owner has told us when we contacted him, that the desk was given to his mother-in-law about 45 years ago by a patient whom she had nursed, but he knew little else. However, the provenance was well-documented by the following.
An old fragmented hand written note to the centre drawer lining records;
‘‘….entirely by his own carpenter who worked building fathers house in 1866, went down with Bp Patteson to N.I., and has been with ….. off and on ever since. The top and parts of the drawers are of yew and mottled Kauri. The sides are made from a log of Cedar which John Adams found on Philip Island. The top was inlaid by my fathers old Captain, Champion who now …… on Norfolk Island and who took infinite pains with it.
In a different hand
Made in Norfolk.
Received May 188.. from the Bishop of Melanesia. Chl Jonge. (signed in her hand)
This is one of the photos of the desk sent to us by the firm of auctioneers.