Monday, January 30, 2006

The holiday period is over, and our granddaughter has returned to New Zealand after 5 weeks with Granny and Grandad and the extended family. The local children will be back at school tomorrow, and we will all be slipping gently back into normal routines as regular scheduled activities resume for the year.
I always have such wonderful plans for things I will achieve during the unstructured and leisurely days of the Christmas holidays...tidying the shed, sorting through cupboards, organising photos etc. But it never happens. There are friends, home for Christmas, to catch up with. There are holiday-type functions to attend and enjoy, tennis and cricket to watch on TV. Usually the weather is warm and humid, and saps one's energy.
There is an expression in the Norfolk dialect "I gut a hillie " meaning something like "I feel lazy and can't get moving." We always say "Well, don't fight it."
But today I have turned my attention to a few niggling little jobs....not many, mind you....and hopefully as the days go by, and the weather cools a little, the momentum will increase, and I will be able to turn my attention to plans and resolutions made at a time when nothing seemed urgent.
There is a possibility that we will be feeling some of the effects of a cyclone later in the week. It is some years since one has really come our way, and hopefully this one will fizzle out before it comes this far south. Perhaps I should be the same....just waft along in the breeze and enjoy things, instead of rushing round in circles.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

The traditional greenwood chairmaking course is now into its second weekend. The participants all say it is incredibly absorbing, but it has also been fascinating for those of us who have called in to view the progress.
Yesterday, they began to shape the seats, using Norfolk pine. The first picture shows a student hollowing out the recess for buttocks and thighs using an adze. After this the shaping will be further refined using an "in-shave." This is one of the few areas where they will be encouraged to do a little sanding to finish off..after all, splinters are no fun for the modern bum!
In the second picture, lengths of timber(guava) were being bent, using steam, to form the back support of the chair. The photo shows the steambox behind, connected to a "geyser" beneath, improvised from a 44 gallon drum. In the foreground, Charles is clamping the bent timber to the horseshoe shaped mould.
In the third picture, everyone is enjoying afternoon smoko.....with tea and coffee made from an electric kettle!! This would be about the only concession to mod cons during the course. All the rest is muscle power and sharp tools, coupled with improvisation and ingenuity. You can see a couple of finished chairs in the picture.
Next weekend, it will all come together. I will keep you posted!

Saturday, January 28, 2006

This little fairy cushion (about 6" square) takes me back to my childhood in England when I believed in fairies with all my heart. I never expected to see one, but felt aware of their benign and gentle presence all around me, in the garden, the park, the woods.
I had a child's cup and saucer, one of a series, with the Daffodil fairy on it.

The Daffodil Fairy
Is ever so shy
That even a bunny
She dares to spy
The closest I came to the fairy world was my Aunty Rose, who was also my godmother. Rose had polio as a child, and had severe scoliosis of the spine. But she was always a happy fun-loving soul. When I asked her why her shoulder blades stuck out so much, she told me that she was really my fairy godmother, and that was where she sprouted her wings at night! I felt so privileged to have a real fairy godmother. Even without any magic, she was the loveliest of people.
There was a rhyme my mother often used to recite with me. No doubt she had learnt it as a child. It went like this.
Down in the garden where nobody knows
The grass is so long that it tickles your toes.
I go a-hiding, and would you believe
I saw a fairy on Midsummer's Eve.
"Will you come home with me Fairy?" I said
"I'll tuck you up safe in my dolly's best bed,
And feed you on drocks if only you'll stay."
But she spread her wee wings
And flew swiftly away.
To this day, I have never been able to find out what "drocks" are. If there is anyone living in parts of England where fairies still make their home, perhaps they could find out for me!!

Friday, January 27, 2006

There are many exciting things happening in the Norfolk Island community in this, our sesqui-centenary year. But for us as a family, yesterday was a very special occasion when we went to Government House for the Australia Day celebrations, and saw Bernie receive a Citizen of the Year award.

It was a complete surprise to him, and he was quite modest about it, but we all know how well it is deserved. He is a man who is always seeking to make his home and a community a better place, and does so without seeking any power or prominence or recognition. If there is anything he can do to help out with time or resources, he just does it!

He was supposed to have retired ten years ago, but is as active and busy as ever, with voluntary jobs, as well as helping the kids out. He often says things like"We were put on earth to help our kids" or "I don't mind doing whatever I can to help wherever I am able!" He is a great encourager of young people "starting out", and is a strong believer in supporting local ventures and community pursuits.

Bernie is a wonderful husband, father and friend. He deeply loves his island and is very proud of his heritage. And we are very proud of him !!!

The picture shows Bernie with his award, with his sister Norma and our son Charles in the background

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

On January 23rd, 1790, having found a possible refuge from British justice on remote and uninhabited Pitcairn Island, Fletcher Christian and the Bounty mutineers decided to set fire to the Bounty. It was Matthew Quintal who finally took it into his own hands to start the flames.
In a re-enactment, at Les Quintal's lovely cliffside paddock, on the 216th anniversary of the original event, a large model of the Bounty was burned, the fire being started by the most senior member of the Quintal family, Greg.
Hundreds of local people and visitors gathered in this very picturesque spot to witness the event, and to enjoy fish and chips and island entertainment.
A similar re-enactment takes place on Pitcairn Island each year on January 23rd, but it is the first time it has happened here on Norfolk Island. The initiative was taken mainly as part of the celebrations for our sesqui-centenary year..the 150th anniversary of the coming of the Pitcairners to make a new home on Norfolk Island on June 8th, 1856. (For those who do not know, some of these people were to return to Pitcairn, forming the basis of the community of Bounty descendants who still live there.)
The symbolic re-enactment was a fun family occasion, but it was somewhat poignant to reflect on the feelings of those original mutineers, and their Tahitian women and the handful of Tahitian men.
As they literally "burned their bridges behind them", these mutineer men knew that this was their only possible chance of escaping inevitable hanging, should the ship be sighted by a vessel passing by, or should any of their number decide to take the vessel and sail back to civilisation.
However, for the women, this was the moment when they realised they would never return to their native Tahiti and their families. They had well and truly thrown in their lot with Christian and the other men.
They were strong women, those "founding mothers", and played a role in building what eventually became a proud and resourceful community, that continues to this day.

Monday, January 23, 2006

A chair-making workshop was Kim's Christmas gift to Charles this year.
The tutor is Richard Hare, a joiner, who has developed wonderful skills in the art of creating furniture, mainly chairs, without the use of any power tools. The chairs are made from green timber.
Over the three weekends of the workshop, the participants will produce a Windsor type chair, with turned legs and stretchers, and hand hewn spindles at the back.
The first picture shows Richard demonstrating the whittling of the spindles. In the second, Charles is splitting a guava limb in preparation for shaping the spindles. The third shows the pole lathe, operated by a foot treadle, that is used for the turning of the legs. No doubt it is very important to have your tools extremely sharp when you are not using power.
Charles says that the workshop is incredibly intense and exhausting physically. However, it is also really satisfying, because it enables him to completely switch off from his work and business demands and pressures.
I just love seeing traditional skills like this being passed on to the younger generation.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

This little clutch purse was a quick and easy project. It probably only took an hour to make the bag itself. And then another hour or two to embellish it.
Oh yes, I suppose it took an hour or two to pull out fabrics and threads etc from my stash to audition them for playing a role in my bag. And then another hour to put all the unused stuff back in its proper place and tidy the work area(s).
I suppose I should also add in the time it took to acquire the supplies I used in the project. That would be a little tricky, because some of it has been in my possession for years, just waiting to be acknowledged and given a role!
The bag lining is a piece of cotton waste that was given to me by a friend whose husband brought it home from work, where it had been used to pack round a shipment of something or other.
The backing and border fabric came from Grandmother's Garden Patchwork shop in Hamilton, NZ. The collaged fabrics beneath the tulle are a bit hard to identify, but I do recognise one, a batik, given to me by Catherine, who has a lovely Quilt and Textile Gallery in The Old Post Office in Te Aroha. The blue tulle and the velvet ribbon for the loop were probably acquired from one of the many bags of scraps that people give me when they are having a clean-out. I know I did not buy them. The button is from some Op shop. The underlaid and overlaid threads are from many sources, but I know that the lovely blue/green one is a Colour Streams silk bought by mail order from a Chatswood, Sydney, store, and others were bought from Catherine Byatt, who was selling them on behalf of a friend in Victoria during the Canberra CrazyQuilt Retreat in October 2004.
The lovely leaf-shape beads are from a necklace I bought in Cairns in 2003, the tiny charms are from Peggy at Kaliko Kottage, and the larger shell charm came from a Marine swap the Southerncrosscrazies had last year.The silk ribbon was bought in bulk from Vintage Vogue in the U.S. (by internet) and hand-dyed by me. The other beads and threads from a variety of sources.
Oh yes, finally there is a bit of tatting collaged in with the central bead and embroidery arrangement. This is from a very old hand-tatted doiley I was given by an old lady, who said it had been in her husband's first mother-in-law's things. Parts of it had been torn and weakened by wear and maybe sunlight, so I have dyed little sections of it to incorporate into "arrangements" for added texture.
A simple bag? Goodness me, years of hunter-gathering and foraging, far and wide, have gone into its creation!!

Saturday, January 21, 2006


The paw paw (or Papaya as it is known in some places) is a very delicious and versatile fruit, and no self-rspecting garden round here would be without a tree or two.

Even when green it can be used as a vegetable, or grated or sliced thinly to be used in a salad or a stir fry. When ripe, it is best eaten with a little sugar and lemon juice. When overripe or squashy, it can be used as a meat tenderiser or to relieve sunburn!

First you have to "catch" your paw paw...literally. The trees can grow very tall, and even if you can dislodge one with a prodder or one of those specially designed fruit cutters, you have to be underneath to catch it or it will splish-splosh all over the ground (much to the delight of the birds.)

This morning we picked a couple that were somewhat overripe, so son Peter decided he would plant some of the seed. I suggested that he make some temporary planting tubes out of newsprint, so that when they germinate, he can transplant them into their permanent planting position without disturbing the long taproot. I suggested he use a tallish jar as a "mould" to wrap the paper around into a tube shape.

The nearest jar to hand was full of seed beads someone had given me last week, and which I had not yet put away. Peter wrapped the paper rather too tightly, and when he twisted it to remove the paper, he unscrewed the lid, and seed beads went everywhere......thousands of them. The beads are very small, and brown in colour, and so very difficult to see on the timber table and floor. I suspect I will be finding them in nooks and crannies for weeks to come.

Now the picture of the paw paw has me inspired. I need a lovely variegated bright orange fabric for the paw paw, and lots of lovely grey and black seed beeds to cluster into the centre......... delicious!!

Friday, January 20, 2006

Out at the farm "Simon's Water", there is an old convict built well, which has faithfully served the needs of generations of occupants and users of the property . It goes down 90 feet, and one cannot help but wonder about the logistics of digging something as deep as that without modern machinery.
In recent times we have been asking rather a lot of this old well....irrigating coffee trees and vegetables, watering cattle, supplying water for a few pigs as well as regular flushing out of the piggery. As little as 6 months ago, there was still a good level of water in the well, even though the water table generally on the island has been showing the effects of many years with below-average rainfall.
However, problems have been apparent over the last week or two, and the fellows went out to investigate this morning. They naively believed it was just a filter problem. Sadly it was not so.
The water level has dropped dramatically. We will have to go "back to the drawing board" with our usage.
It brings into focus the whole sustainability issue. When we talk about ever-reliable old wells, which have never run dry, we are talking about decades of raising single buckets of water laboriously by hand, or operating pumps with no other source of energy than human muscle. This water was then just as laboriously- maybe with the help of a beast or two-carried to the troughs or crops.
I was reading an old diary written by a Norfolker who farmed nearby a century ago. He wrote about fetching sea water from the bay (about 11-12 kms away) to water his onions, which evidently thrived on it. But what a physical effort.
But introduce external energy sources...electrical and petrol driven pumps....and you may increase your yields for a while, but at what cost?
Think of little fishing communities, operating small boats with paddles and oars, using hand-held lines and nets. There is always enough to feed the community. But introduce large fuel-driven boats, nets operated by winches, and all sorts of high tech gear that replaces simple human effort. Suddenly there are enough fish to export, you have a cash economy, but when it becomes fished out, and is no longer sustainable, some of the old skills have been lost, and your fishing community is in a far worse position than before.
I am not making a political statement. And I know there are sustainable strategies to manage these things...which is what we are going to have to do. But these realities really hit home at a time like this.
Likewise, the cartoon I am using is not meant to make any serious statement about gender issues. I am sure I have actually seen the same cartoon with the genders reversed! Just a light-hearted touch, because we must continue to laugh and be positive. We have so much to be thankful for.
Which makes me wonder about the traditional "wishing well". Where did that concept begin? Did people toss money into the well to propitiate the spirit that inhabited the well, and to plead with it to continue to supply that good fresh water that their lives and livelihoods depended on?
If I had a wishing well now, I know I would be wishing for a year of really good rains.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

What do you do on a warm humid night when you just can't get to sleep?
You plan quilts and other creative projects of course. (I might add that I also do this at many other times when I ought to be concentrating on or listening to something else!)
Last night, it hit me like a flash. A big Crazy quilt called "Time and Place". Over the years I have acquired a few bits and pieces with Place names, things like souvenir ties and scarves with local landmarks and monuments. In fact, I just love fabrics with printing or maps on them, and I also have a few bits and pieces with clocks, dates and things related to time on them. Like a tie with Big Ben on it.
I just did not know what I was collecting them for....till last night.
This will probably end up a rather masculine quilt, but I am certainly not going to confine myself to "safe" browns and greens and blues. I will get sick of it long before I finish if I do.
I am going to print of some "custom-made" map fabric onto some pre-treated fabric sheets that I bought from Peggy at Kaliko Kottage. Other than that, I will try not to think about it too much until I have finished my "Lovely Lace" project. I find that if I plan and dream about a project for too long, without plungeing into it, that my creative juices run out. I have already made the thing in my mind, and the excitement is gone!
Will keep you posted on this one. Just keeping my fingers crossed that we do not have too many more hot, humid nights to conjure up more weird and wonderful dreams to supersede this one even before I can make a start.
And talking of dreams, that reminds me, just before I awoke this morning, I was dreaming that we had packed up everything in our house to move, or go away somewhere. Everything, that is, except all the stuff in my sewing room. I was allowed to leave that just as it was, because it would be just too hard to pack it. I am not sure what was going to happen to it, because I woke up.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Last week while buying a Baptismal gift in our lovely local bookshop/cafe, I came across a beautifully illustrated edition of The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen. It made me feel nostalgic, because I just loved that story as a child, and remember well some of the pictures in my childhood copy.
Imagine my delight last night, while looking for a new bedtime story for Emily on our rather extensive bookshelves, to find my old storybook still there. I had forgotten I still had it! The story is "In seven parts", so I am hoping that by the end of the week, Emily will also come to love it. And if she does, I will go back to the bookshop and buy that new one for her!
And perhaps one for myself, too!

Monday, January 16, 2006

The Queen's Baton (the equivalent of the Olympic Torch) is on Norfolk Island for 3 days, and today we had the opportunity to see it, hold it and have our photo taken with it. No, we did not run with it!!

Norfolk Island has been allowed to compete in the Commonwealth Games as a nation in its own right for some years now, although we know the Australian Government is not particularly happy about it. But it makes us very proud to be involved.

In the Manchester Games, Norfolk Island actually had the oldest competitor in the whole games...Joyce, a 79 year old lady bowler!

This time it has special significance for our family, as our son Peter has been selected to represent the island in Squash.

The baton has the Queen's message built in on a microchip, to be revealed at the Official Opening. It also has a camera built in so that it not only films the holder from one side, but the route and scenery as it is being carried. It is tuned in to Satellite Navigation so that its exact location can be pinpointed at any time.

If you go to the web page you can see for yourself.

Among my "holy stuff" are a few lovely bits of lace, mostly short lengths. The trouble with things like this is that you tend never to use them, always saving them for something really special. So they stay in a drawer or box, and no one, including you, gets to enjoy them, except for the odd times when you get them out and run your fingers through them.
Recently I was browsing through "501 Quilt Blocks and Borders".......not my book, the title always sounded too boring for me......and there was this lovely idea for a Victorian Crazy quilt.
Very simple.
Just panels of short lengths of lace, crochet, tatting, old buttons, antique hankies, with panels of crazy patchwork in between.
A perfect pick-up/put-down/portable project, and a way of showcasing some of those treasures so they can be admired for their own intrinsic beauty and not as part of something else.
So I have begun tacking lace on to is incredibly difficult to get it to lie straight! I do not want to starch it, as this may make it deteriorate quicker.
The partly visible piece at the top of this section is Nottingham lace which is imported by an ex-Nottingham lady with a shop here. The bottom medallion was made by "Auntie Mum".
Some of the others were given by Margaret. Margaret's mother used to do heirloom sewing and make exclusive lingerie in Sydney back in the 1930's. But her sewing room door was always kept locked, and Margaret herself was never taught her mother's skills, in fact, she was never allowed to use the sewing machine in case she hurt herself on it! How sad!
I will post more pictures as work progresses.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Our granddaughter Emily(9) is staying with us for 4-5 weeks, and the night before last, her Auntie Kim organised a sleepover. Just imagine six 8-9 year olds enjoying 24 hours of wonderful girlie activities planned lovingly by an auntie who is still young enough to know the sort of things little girls love....and energetic enough to join in!
The first evening there was a lolly hunt in the big shed, races on the front lawn, Twister, hamburgers at the beach, hide-and-seek among the convict ruins, then back home for a nail-painting session, popcorn, board games, then bed time (with much giggling and chattering before they finally setled down to sleep.)
In spite of the late bedtime, the girls were awake soon after 4 a.m. but had firm instructions to allow Uncle Charles at least a couple more hours sleep.
The next morning, there was a barbecue breakfast up at the big house, then off to Silky Oaks Stables for horse riding. Emily was able to ride Tammy, who is now a grand old lady of 26. Em's mother and uncles used to ride her when she and they were young!
In the afternoon, there was swimming down at the bay, and finally a game of Mini-golf before pick-up time.
I think Kim deserves a medal! Especially as the most memorable parts of the occasion, according to the girls, were when Uncle Charles pretended the truck had run out of petrol on the hill coming up from Kingston, and when he put his head around the bedroom door that night wearing an ugly mask, sending them into paroxysms of high-pitched screaming and laughter! Trust a man to steal the show with so little effort. 'Twas ever thus!

Emily Jade(L) and Emily Jane(R) with Ding-a-ling and Tammy.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Devon House
Devon House is part of the name of my Blog. It is also the name of our home. Here is the story.
In the 1860's, George Bailey left Devon in England, and came to NZ with his parents and siblings. From there George came to Norfolk Island to work in the Melanesian Mission, which had its headquarters there. George was known as the musical blacksmith, because of his trade, and because he took charge of the music in the Mission.
George was one of the first outsiders to marry into the island families who had left Pitcairn in 1856. He married Emily Wellesley Christian, and they had two daughters and four sons. Their daughter Charlotte was given 7 acres of land that Emily had inherited from her father, Charles Christian. In the early 1920's, Charlotte asked her brother Charlie Bailey to build her a house on the land. The house was very much in the bungalow style in New Zealand, where Charlie had learned his trade. Charlotte called the house "Devon" after her father's birthplace.
Charlotte did not actually live in the house, preferring to live in the smaller "Devon Cottage" next door. She never married or had children, although she was commonly known as "Mum Bailey" or "Auntie Mum" to the family. I will talk about her, especially her needlework at a later stage.
Meanwhile "Devon House" was let to various people, including Burns Philp managers for many years. During the war, it was commandeered as headquarters for the New Zealand army contingent and was occupied by a Colonel Barry and a Colonel Cockerell. Around this time, an army hut was tacked on to the house, and became known as "the annexe."
In the 1960's, my husband's parents moved into Devon after returning to the island from Sydney, where they had lived and worked since the war years. My father-in-law carried out a few convenient modernising alterations, but the character of Devon remained.
Charlotte (who lived to 101) gave my in-laws a life interest in the house, and when they passed on, it became my husband's.
About ten years ago, we carried out fairly extensive renovations and additions, and moved in. It is a home with wonderful vibes, and everything in it tells a story. We know the previous owner and occupants would fully approve of everything we have fact, we are very conscious of the loving support of Auntie Mum and also of Dorothy, my mother-in-law.
Our son John now lives in Devon Cottage, and our son Charles has built a home behind us (but separated from view by lovely trees.) He and Kim call their home "Devonside," because "side" means "place" or "home" in the Norfolk dialect. Both the boys also have businesses on the road side of the property. John has a joinery and also does boatbuilding, and Charles has established a large building supply centre. The Devon homes however, are well insulated from the more "industrial" activities, and are all in a peaceful, wooded setting.
I have been serendipitously thrust into the world of blogging.
It all started when I could not resist posting a comment on Melody's blog about portraying the natural world in textiles. Maybe I should have kept quiet and emailed her personally...but before I knew it, I had registered my very own blog.
To be honest, I have thought about it many times. I love recording thoughts and ideas, but was put off by the technical side of it all. I realise it will be a challenge, particularly if I wish to learn to post photos, and it will require some discipline on my part!
But I do love the interaction that the internet has made possible with the world at large, although I recognise this can also be used for negative purposes too.
But it is my intention to be positive, wholesome, encouraging and inspiring. And hopefully a little self -exploration and satisfying feedback will also come as a bonus!
Well, that is Day One! It wasn't difficult, was it?
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