Friday, March 31, 2006


Charles has reminded me that I have never posted a picture of the finished product from his chairmaking course. So here it is.

The chair fits in just so well down in the dining area at "Devonside."

Meanwhile, I thought I would also post a picture of the "settle" Charles made about 18 months ago out of guava branches. It is in the "rustic" style, and is not only very cleverly made, but is comfortable to sit on. It is on the front verandah of "Devonside."

Look at what else was on the front verandah when I went to take these pictures. Charles grows these over at the Pitcairn Settlers' Village. I cannot help thinking how blessed we are to enjoy such bounty when bananas are going to be as precious as gold in Australia for the next year or two!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

For many years, my Tuesday afternoons have been set aside for our weekly craft group. This is a very friendly and informal group that meets in the SDA hall, and I think we have been going strong for about 13-14 years! We all bring along our own projects, although from time to time we have undertaken a group project.
Maggie Barney has been coming along to join us for the past few months, and we have really enjoyed her cheerful company. Maggie is from Bath in England, and began her special relationship with Norfolk Island when two local girls worked for her during their working holiday in England many years ago. Now both of Maggie's two offspring are living and working on this island, and she has decided to join them for an extended holiday.
Daughter Jane is due to produce Maggie's first grandchild (in about 4 weeks), so Maggie decided to come along and learn to make a cot quilt.
Our prolific quilter Joy mentored Maggie every step of the way, and we celebrated the completion of the project yesterday. Maggie chose fabrics that reminded her of the island. Every stitch was hand done, with the exception of the first seam of the binding, which she reluctantly allowed Joy to do on her machine!
Well done, Maggie! You must be very proud of your achievement..but not nearly as proud as you are going to be of that newest member of the family!
Maggie has now started on her second quilt...this time for son Peter.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Cyclone Wati was most obliging on Saturday afternoon. He had more or less decided to say goodbye to the island and continue on his journey to new Zealand.
By the time Rhaelene and Campbell came out of the Chapel after a very beautiful marriage service, the rain had almost stopped, and the wind had eased except for an occasional gust.
Rhaelene's dress with its lacy, lightly spangled bodice was just exquisite. The bridesmaids were in an equally beautiful 'old gold' lace. I asked them where the dresses had come from - hoping for a few dressmakers' scraps- but I was told they had been bought "off the rack". Oh well, nice try.

On Sunday morning at the 8 a.m. service at St Barnabas, we had the delightful pleasure of meeting with Marietta and Atea. This charming and gentle couple come from the Tahitian island of Huahine, and are on NorfolkIsland for two weeks teaching Tahitian dance and drumming. Marietta and Atea actually attend a Church of England church in Huahine, where Marietta's father is a deacon, and she is an assistant deacon.
During the service, they sang a couple of very beautiful songs for us, accompanying their voices with guitar and ukelele.
We are just so blessed in this little community. We enjoy visitors and experiences that we would never encounter living an urban or suburban life on the mainland. Our young people are just so fortunate to have the opportunities to learn from people like Atea and Marietta, and to re-discover the Polynesian side of their culture.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Praise the Lord for the gift of rain.
About 60 mls fell last night, according to our rain gauge, and it continues to come down steadily. According to Charles, 60ml would have collected about 10 000 gallons from the roof of his shed alone. Our own tanks are overflowing, and hopefully a small start has been made in building up the much depleted water table.
For the past couple of days, we have been doing the laundry for Fletcher Christian, because the water supply there was under a strain, but today there is plenty of water! Getting things dry may prove a bit more of a problem!
Unfortunately the rain is part of a bigger weather pattern, which includes Cyclone Wati, said to be heading our way tonight or tomorrow. As you can see, the outside furniture has been brought under shelter, and we are prepared to batten down. But we are hopeful that Wati will have exhausted the worst of her (?) fury by then, and we will experience just a few strong winds.

Meanwhile, I have been receiving gifts of a different sort.
Stella, a visitor from Katoomba, NSW, and a sister of a very old friend of mine, brought me a lovely package yesterday.
This very beautiful leaf was handcarved by Stella's late husband George. It has been fashioned from Huon Pine, 800-1000 years old. George used to say that working with the pine was like working with silk. Now I can relate to that. Nothing compares to the sensuous delight of handling silk...although having chocolate melt in your mouth comes close!
Stella, knowing my passion for "glitz", also brought me two pieces of beautiful, sparkly and reflective fabric. You can see them in the background, although the scan has not done them justice. They will be a treasured addition to my stash, and pieces of these fabrics will soon find a place as "highlights" in a new batch of little bags.

Thursday, March 23, 2006


The community mosaic is just about finished. It represents the work and effort of many people. There were the "brainstorming" sessions to gather the ideas, the planning, the gathering of materials, making the base, and finally the actual production.
Dozens of people have called in over the past fortnight to see the progress and add a tile or two. Many only intended to stay for a few minutes, only to find themselves so absorbed that several hours later, they would exclaim: "Is that the time?".....and rush home to clean the glue and grout off their hands, and order pizza for dinner.
While we were there the other day, a very pretty little fairy flew in to see what was going on!

I know that for some people, the mosaic has practically taken over their lives. Not least Sandy Robertson, the visiting mosaic artist, who will need to catch up on lots of sleep now she has returned to Brisbane. She was on the job literally day and night, cleaning the work area ready for each new day, and quietly patching up the "mistakes" made by those of us who had more good intentions than skills! Sandy kept everyone well motivated with her infectious enthusiasm, and what initially seemed like an awesomely demanding deadline was actually met...more or less.

You can still pop out to Don and Maree's shed at Bumboras to have a preview of the mosaic for yourself.
The finished work is to be hung in the Airport terminal on the wall where visitors first come out of Customs. What a wonderfully welcoming piece of art it will be!

Well done Sandy and the Community Arts Society..and thank you for your amazing Sesqui-centenary gift to the island!
This plate, showing Island foods, has been edged with some fragments of broken china that belonged to the early Pitcairners who lived at Kingston.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


For the past few days, the island has been shrouded in a mist. There has been some light rain, and the very odd heavier shower for a few minutes. But not enough to put much water into the rapidly emptying water tanks.
On Sunday, no planes came in. Air New Zealand flew overhead twice, but the visibility was too poor, and they returned to Auckland.
We all had our fingers crossed this morning. There were short periods when the sun shone through the cloud cover, and we were sure that conditions were improving....then the fog would descend again, and the mountain would disappear from sight.
Our Kim has been very anxious. She was planning to return to Auckland to see her very ill grandfather. The delay was very upsetting for her.
We gathered at the airport at lunchtime today. Would the cloud clear long enough for a landing?
There was a cheer when first the Brisbane plane, and then the Auckland plane touched down safely within minutes of each other.
Alas, we still await the arrival of the Sydney passengers who were due in the weekend. There has been talk of a midnight flight tonight.
Rhaelene, our weekend bride, is most anxious, because she is awaiting the arrival of some of her family and wedding party. She knows that the delays can go on for many days when this weather pattern sets in.
It is times like this that you are conscious of your geographical isolation living on an island.
The mist and showers have provided some relief from the dry conditions we have been experiencing. The plants in the garden have been most grateful for the damp relief. But the moisture has added very little to the level of our water tanks and reservoirs.
The island wells continue to protest about the overuse of their limited supplies. Many have gone on strike altogether.
The island has, in recent years, gone into a number of horticultural ventures, such as palm seedlings, to diversify our economy. But these industries potentially require large amounts of water, especially in the establishment stages, as do many of our 'landscaped gardens,' our lawns, even our dusty cars!
This is one of the most serious problems we face. We really need to deal with water management issues, and learn to strike a balance.

Monday, March 20, 2006


I had wanted to include this in yesterday's posting, but "Blogger" was being a bit unco-operative about uploading pictures. In any case, a living treasure like Girlie Nobbs really deserves a special tribute of her own.
Girlie (Sylvia) was born 18th March 1910. That means she turned 96 on Saturday. But she said she did not want to celebrate it that day, because it was "the Sabbath". You see, Girlie is a very committed Christian lady, and a faithful member of the local Seventh Day Adventist Church.
So we were really glad that she decided to come on our Progressive Dinner (after the close of the Sabbath.) This gave us the opportunity to share in birthday celebrations with her.
We understand that the family and close friends were going to have more celebrations the next day during their usual Sunday Afternoon Tennis at the Rocky Point courts. Believe it or not, Girlie still enjoys playing a game of tennis each week!
Longevity runs in the family. Girlie's own Mum, Jemima Robinson, lived to celebrate her 100th birthday in 1970. and had an avenue of 100 Norfolk Pines planted in her honour.
Nowadays Girlie is more commonly known in the community as "Grandma". She has a large number of descendants from her seven children. And every morning, she gets up around 4:30 a.m. to study her Bible, and to pray for every member of her big family by name.
One of Grandma's sons, Ken, also an early riser, went to visit her one morning last week. He expected to find her at her devotions, but no.......she had finished those, and was out planting 5 a.m.!! She still plants her own potatoes and other vegetables. And she has all her family to dinner every Friday evening to welcome in the Sabbath.
Here is Grandma Girlie with her sister Audrey, who has returned to the island from Australia. I bet they are having some giggles together!

And here are two of Girlie's boys, Ken and Alec, in a duet act, striking up a "Happy Birthday" accompaniment for us on Saturday night.

Well done Grandma! You are a real model for "Life. Be in it." Many Happy Returns.

Sunday, March 19, 2006


That was the general feeling of all those fortunate enough to go on the "Tahiti Group's" Mystery Progressive Dinner last night. It was planned as a fundraiser, but it was also a "fun-raiser, as young and old let down their hair and just enjoyed being together.
We intended to fill two buses with a total of 50 people, but it was quickly overbooked...and that was just by word of mouth! A number followed in cars, and although they missed out on some of the banter(and some of the ditties remembered from schooldays!), they still had a ball at each venue.
Drinks and nibbles were at Granny's (Tania), with Pumbles generously providing the food. Entrees (Tahitian fish) was at ours here at Devon. Even at this early stage of the evening, a great sing-along was enjoyed around the piano. The music and laughter continued with the mains at the Onion Patch (Arthur and Kerry). It was pretty special to have the younger ones Kath and Gaelene joining in the conviviality on their ukeleles. We finished up at the shed at Wonderland by Night, where Edie had provided sweet pies, and Archie had set up tea and coffee with yummy chocolates from "Sweeties." Here Alec and Ken sat side by side at the old piano. We all sang Happy Birthday to Girlie Nobbs, who turned 96 yesterday. Girlie was very much enjoying the evening, as was her younger sister Audrey.
After a hilarious game of "Pass the Parcel", we finished up with Auld Land Syne, and all agreed that not only can we still teach the young ones how to party, but that we must do it all again soon...real soon!

Friday, March 17, 2006

Over the past week or two, a wonderful Mosaic depicting Norfolk Island, past and present, has been taking shape in Don and Maree's worshop out at Bumboras. A Sesqui-centenary project, sponsored and funded by our Community Arts Society, this wonderfully inspiring piece of work is being carried out under the guidance of Sandy Robertson, a mosaic artist from Brisbane.

The great thing is that anyone and everyone is invited along to lay down a few tiles...and that is just what has happened. Morning, afternoon and evening, there are always a few people hard at work cutting or gluing. Sandy's bubbly enthusiasm and encouragement ensures that things "keep rolling along!" In this picture, there are three generations at work...young Louis, his mum Jodie and his grandmother Lorraine!

The Mosaic will measure 3.3 x 1.2 metres, and will hang in our airport terminal when it is finished. I will post some more pictures later, but meanwhile here is one of the details ready to be superimposed on the sea-blue background.

Lots of people had input into the design, and it is just amazing how many elements of Norfolk life and history have been incorporated.
We are so fortunate to have someone like Sandy share her skills and give her time so generously to this community!

Thursday, March 16, 2006


We were rather late to bed last night, because we stayed up to watch the Opening of the Commonwealth Games. Then we stayed up even later to watch the replay. We wanted to "arter on" our boy. That is a Norfolk dialect expression for "gazing on something or someone with pride and pleasure."
It is not every day you have a chance to watch a group of Norfolk Islanders march proudly into a huge stadium waving the Norfolk Island flag! We caught a couple of very brief glimpses of Peter, and he looked so excited to be there.
In a phone call this morning, he confirmed that for us. "It was an incredible buzz!" he said, and declared there was no way he was going to miss the Closing Ceremony, even though the Norfolk team is booked to depart the day before.
The Norfolk team was among the last few to come into the arena. Peter told us that all the teams awaited in the Rod Laver Arena, around a kilometre away, and left for the stadium in order. However, because everyone marched into the stadium a little faster than expected, everything sort of gathered momentum, and the last few teams found they actually had to sprint all the way to the M.C.G. Stadium so there would not be too long a gap...a bit hard on the older team members and officials!
Today Peter is delighted to be one of the two Norfolk Island team members chosen to lunch with the Queen! We suggested that if he has the opportunity, he should ask her if she remembers being shown around the penal settlement area of the island by his father 32 years ago!
Thank you to all those people who have said they will watch out for Peter at the Games. The Norfolkers are playing in the Squash Doubles, and do not have their first game until the 22nd March. It appears that they have drawn Scotland, New Zealand and Trinidad to play against!
Believe it or not, it took a bit of persuasion to get Peter to accept the invitation to train for the Games last October. He is certainly glad he did now!
The picture shows our boy at the airport on the morning of his departure.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


If, like me, you are attracted to anything bright and shiny, you probably have a jar or two of buttons lying around. Maybe it is the resemblance to coins, or the memories that they evoke of times spent as a small child going through Mother's or Grandma's button jar, but I still love to sort through them and run them through my fingers.
I remember Mum's button tin well. Among the buttons were some suspender attachments, some buckles, and also some of those funny rubber buttons that were attached to those fleecy "Liberty bodices" we were forced to wear in winter in England. There was also a collection of Cigarette silks. How I wish I had those now!! A year or two before she died, I asked my mother if she still had them, but she did not know what had happened to them.
I must confess that I have far more than a jar or two of buttons now. A number of people have passed on their family heirloom jars to me when they have been having a clean-out.

Feeling that some of these old treasures needed to be displayed, I made this wallhanging. Actually, the background chequerboard was something I had made about five years before, when I was 'playing' with graduating shades and tones in the red/yellows and the black/grey/whites. It proved the perfect complement for the old buttons, and I had a real ball deciding which button went on each square. I tried to use all different buttons, but did end up using two the same, as a challenge for folk having a 'close look.'

When our friend Samantha visits, I am always amused that she can identify which buttons came from the jar she herself had given me ages ago. She must have run those buttons through her fingers many times.

The buttons are made from a great variety of materials...plastic, bakelite, celluloid, metal, glass, wood, leather, shell, tortoise shell, and a few made from substances I cannot identify. Some of them are enormous - used no doubt on those heavy overcoats we used to wear.

I have also bought lots of buttons in secondhand and Op shops, and often buy an Op shop garment just for the buttons. Metal and glass are my favourites. I just love the cool feel of glass buttons against my lips. When people see me hold buttons and beads to my mouth, I often have to explain that I am performing the "Glass or plastic" test.

Sunday, March 12, 2006


Today I ate my first persimmon of the season. Mind you, the neighbourhood birds, feeling the effects of our very dry summer, have been tucking into them for a week or two now. But they do not wait for them to be squishy-squashy ripe as we do, in order to avoid a fur lining on the inside of one's mouth. Those of you who are able to buy those crisp little non-astringent persimmons will not be familiar with that sensation. I have to tell you that these old-fashioned fruits have far more flavour!!

The tree is a very old one, and has been producing these delicious autumn fruits for many years. John, who lives in the cottage near the tree, declares that it has an unpleasant odour when it is in fruit, but I have never been aware of it. But then again, I am the only one in the family prepared to risk persimmon dribbles and eat them.

Talking of persimmon dribbles...we always wondered what this indelible stain was on some of the pieces of crochet we inherited from Auntie Mum.

We later learned..the hard way..that if you left a nice firm crisp persimmon sitting on a cloth, it would suddenly get squashy ripe while you weren't watching, and this black stain was the result.

Auntie Mum crocheted this doiley when she was in her nineties. Her eyesight was not the best, but it was a pattern indelibly printed on her memory, and the pattern sequence came automatically to her hands, arthritic though they were. She still used the finest cotton (no. 100). Occasionally she switched from white to ecru to cream in one piece of work, because she could no longer distinguish the shades.

By the time she reached 100, she had conceded to the limitations of age and eyesight, and restricted herself to crocheting afghans using brightly coloured wool.

Saturday, March 11, 2006


Forgive me if I do a little bragging, but that is our son Peter on the stamp, due for release on Monday(the stamp, that is, not Peter).
This morning we farewelled him and his team mates at the airport when they set off for Melbourne, where they are going to compete in the Squash in the Commonwealth Games.
Peter was feeling a mixture of nervousness and excitement, but this is the culmination of months of pretty rigorous and disciplined training. We admire him for the way he has fitted it in while working full-time and attending his pigs and vegetables.
The training actually got off to a rather shaky start. Not only did they lose their professional coach at short notice, but Peter came down with chicken pox, which really knocked him around. However, they have all come through and are in top condition.
Regardless of their actual success, they are going to have a wonderful experience there at the Games, mixing with athletes from so many nations.
Norfolk Island has also sent teams in the Lawn Bowls and Shooting.
It is possible that this will be the last Games that Norfolk Island can compete in. Australia is proposing to take away the island's self-governing status, which means we may no longer meet the criteria for competing as a country in our own right. We desperately hope that does not happen. We feel so proud seeing our sportsmen and women representing us in their green and white!

Friday, March 10, 2006


Late yesterday afternoon, while he was on his usual afternoon run out to Simon's Water to feed Handsome the Bull, Bernie came across Melody, one of our two remaining horses, down on the ground in considerable distress. Her paddock mate, Muff, was circling her in obvious concern.

A call was made to Bryan the Vet, who came and diagnosed a twisted bowel and severe colic. Bernie had to leave to attend a public meeting and his birthday dinner, but Bryan said he would monitor Melody's condition.

This morning, with great sadness, we learned the news that she had died.

Melody was 27 years old, a good age really, but had been extremely fit until now. She was the second foal of our very first horse Lovely Lass. Like Lass, Melody was hardy and spirited. Sometimes we referred to her as "a cow of a horse." In ways, that was quite appropriate, because she had a habit of "adopting" newborn calves out at Simon's Water. She would hang around curiously while a mare gave birth, and then she would chase the poor mother away, and the calf would bond to her. It used to cause all sorts of problems. Sad to say, she never had any foals of her own, although we tried to mate her.

I have just realised that the top picture shows Lass with her first foal, Jubilee, who unfortunately died at a fairly young age of tetanus. Miriam and John, with their Auntie Helen and cousins Mathew and Joanne
are watching on from the back veranda of our house at Fletcher Christian. Bernie is holding Lass's halter.

In the second picture, Melody...still a foal at that time... is being teased by our equally feisty chihuahua Fletcher in the paddock behind our house.

The third picture shows Henry Menzies out for a ride with Melody. Those two were so well-matched!! They competed together in many gymkhanas and picnic race meetings. Steve Ford (Cowboy Steve) is looking on.

Thursday, March 09, 2006


Today the senior man-of-the-house is celebrating his birthday, and the family has decided to have dinner at Governor's Lodge.
This restaurant is very special to all of us because it was the home of Grandpa Herbie Bailey and Nan (known as "Sett.") The house was built just after the turn of the century. Herbie and Clara(nee Christian) were wed on January 8, 1902, and their first child George, Bernie's Dad, was born just over 9 months later.
As was the custom in those days, Bernie remembers spending many happy hours in this house with his grandparents. Cousin Marie often reminds him of the times when Nan would call to Bernie to come to her, but when he did so, she would forget what she had wanted him for, so she would always say "Go practice!" (the piano) The old family piano, by the way, is still there in the restaurant.
When Bernie and I were married in Sydney, one of the cables we received from the island was from brother Mick, and it read "Hold tight, Nan's Goodness." Evidently this was what Nan said to Bern when he was riding his pony!
Although he was fairly young when Grandpa Herbie died, Bernie has vivid memories of him going out and lying under a shady tree with a book. He was a great reader.
Sett and Herbie raised five children here at "Elouera"...George, Linda(Ninna), David, Floris and Percy. When they passed on, son David continued to live in the house until his death in 1980.
The house, with its seven acres, was then sold to Gary and Debbie McCoy. Gary would have been Sett's great nephew. Gary (Foxy) made some improvements to the house, and enlarged the kitchen area, but the original character was retained.
In recent years, the land and house have become part of Governor's Lodge, a tourist accommodation complex. The home is now the restaurant, and it has been restored and refurbished in an extremely tasteful way. You can still see where the old room divisions were, and dining there always evokes many happy memories.
This watercolour of the old home was painted by me in the early seventies. It hangs in our hallway along with other pictures of old family homes.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

We are never too old to play. Mind you, you will not find me playing on the tennis court, or even the golf course. I am not even all that keen on a game of cards myself, although I just love to hear the whooping and laughter from Greg and Kik and others when they play Jaero at White Oaks.
A good game of Scrabble really gets me going, however, and you will not find any better playmates than Joy and Paulette, seen here in the photo.
Joy has a wonderfully astute mind, and usually manages to get the winning word and letter combinations, even though she always takes on the job of keeping score as well. (her maths are as quick as her language skills!) Paulette, meanwhile, really holds her own in the game, in spite of the fact that her native language is French, and her failing eyesight makes it impossible to see the whole board, or even whole words at one time.
When I am at home, it is also important for me to take time to, it is with threads, fabric, beads, buttons and lace. I love to arrange them, manipulate them and create a harmonious composition with them.
The other day I was having a game with some new dyes and pieces of lace. I found myself dyeing several lace motifs in a lovely greeny turquoise colour I had created by mixing a particular combination of blue and green.
I left the lace pieces on a piece of paper near a window to dry. The next morning, I was inspecting and admiring them, when I felt a piece of lace stuck to my hand. I went to flick it off, when I realised it was a little grasshopper, almost the same shade of green. Perhaps he had jumped through the window and thought he had found some lace-bug cousins!
I am really sorry I let him jump back out of the window before I could photograph him.

You may like to see what I did with some of the lace.

This is a "Healing Heart" for Noeline, an Auckland lady who recently lost her husband. Noeline belongs to an "on-line" Crazy patchwork group I am a member of, and when one of the group is going through a hard time, members send an appliqued heart on a 6" square, to show they are thinking of the person. The hearts may then be made into a quilt, either by the recipient or by someone else in the group. Noeline has been receiving hearts from all over Australia and New Zealand, mostly from people she has not met personally. Isn't the Internet wonderful for bringing us together?

I have just a bit more beading and embroidery to add to the heart before I post it off to join the others.

Monday, March 06, 2006


On the first Monday of each month, at 7 a.m. a small group of us gather together at "the landing" at Kingston for a short time to pray for Norfolk Island and its people. By coincidence,this morning was Foundation Day, but there was no sign of the busy activity that would take place later in the morning with the re-enactment of the original landing in the earliest days of the penal settlement.

On March 6, 1788, less than 6 weeks after the arrival of the First Fleet at Port Jackson, a small party of trusted convicts and officers, under Philip Gidley King, made a landing on the southern shore of Norfolk Island. Historians debate the real reasons for needing to raise the British flag on this remote little island so urgently after the First Settlement at Sydney Cove. Was it for strategic reasons, with the French making their presence felt in the Pacific at this time? Was it the flax growing on the cliffs which would provide linen for sails, and the tall pines for masts? Was the need to claim Norfolk Island, which had been discovered by Captain Cook in 1774, indeed the real reason for the British establishing any sort of presence in this part of the world? In any case, Norfolk Island was to be a very valuable asset to that early colony, and when food was short in Port Jackson, then it was Norfolk Island, with its fertile volcanic soil, that became a "breadbasket" for the mother colony for a time. Later, it became a place of last resort for the more desperate and dangerous convicts, but not in the earliest days.
The celebration of Foundation Day is an important Public Holiday in the island's calendar. It is not actually a part of the history of the Norfolk people of today, who first came here, at Queen Victoria's invitation, in 1856, after the penal settlement had been abandoned. It is more a part of Australia's colonial history. Nevertheless, we recognise the significance of the remnants and ruins of the penal era, and take great pleasure in the ambience and integrity of the Kingston area, where there is almost no evidence of any modern development to be seen. There is also a strong feeling for the buildings in the area, because many of the early Pitcairners were to occupy these buildings as their homes for 50 years, until they were evicted in 1906.(Something I shall write about another time.)
These pictures from my album, taken at the very important 1988 Bi-centenary re-enactment of the first landing, show how unspoilt and natural the area is still.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Yesterday I went to a garage sale.

Now in spite of my good intentions, I am not usually very quick off the mark with these things. Even after clearing up from our Saturday morning family breakfast, I dilly-dallied, and did not make it to the Sale until 3 hours after it started!
And as always happens, there were only the more unusual, quirky type of things left.
Like a box of knitting needles....$4.00 the lot!
Yes, I bought them.
When I got them home, I counted over 90 pairs of knitting needles, in all shapes, materials and sizes.
I already have quite a collection of knitting needles in a drawer up in the attic.
And I do not even knit!!
Well, I can knit in a basic sort of way, and when I was a teenager, you simply did not have a fashionable jumper or cardigan unless you knitted it yourself (or were lucky enough to have a knitting grandma!). In those days, it was fortunate that mohair was in vogue, because the long fluffy fibres covered up a multitude of sins of dropped stitches and uneven tension. I took my last stitches of plain and purl nearly 32 years ago while I was in hospital after John's birth, and have not returned to it since.
Why would I buy all these needles? Well, it is some sort of compulsion to be a custodian of all things 'textile', in case they become forgotten antiquities. There is something so basic, so 'salt of the earth' as knitting, and is a skill we will still value if and when we are all forced to go back to basics!
When I taught a class of 8-10 year olds some years ago, we had a term where every Friday afternoon, out would come the wool, the needles etc, and with the help of a parent and grandma or two, most of those kids learned to some basic knitting. Those who just did not have the staying power to produce a scarf, or at least a square, dabbled with French knitting or pom-poms. It may be the only time in their lives that some of those kids have a grass-roots creative contact with a ball of yarn!
I am seriously turned on by the current craze of freeform knitting and what they call "scrumbling". In fact I am very tempted to try it, even though my knitting and crochet skills are fairly limited. Such wonderful opportunties to do your own thing, without worrying about counting stitches or tensions..and such riots of colour!!
Some of the modern yarns are very appealing, and I have quite a collection of short lengths which I use for couching, or arranged under tulle, and overlaid with beads and embroidery.
Back to the Garage sale. I was also fortunate enough to buy some little boxes of jewellery, including a lovely little box of mother of pearl studs and cuff links, which I love. These will all find a home on a piece of textile art or crazy patchwork some day.
I often wonder about holding a garage sale ourselves. I don't think it will ever happen...I am just too sentimental!

Friday, March 03, 2006

I always get a little worried when Andy says he is going to do some pruning around the place.
At least he has learned to give me some warning and even 'consult.'
You see, Andy mainly prunes with a chainsaw. If something needs cutting back, that is what he does, all over, everything to a uniform size, in case any branch should think it is more important than another. It is definitely a male approach.
We females tend to do it differently. We stand back and look at our plant and consider the situation. We decide which branches are starting to interfere with the overall ambience of the tree. Which branches are looking tired, and need to carry a little less weight. Which branches have become a bit headstrong, and need bringing back to enable us to reach their fruit and flowers. Then we tackle the job, delicately and thoughtfully, first tackling the wayward shoots, and then moving onto the bigger branches. We use the least threatening tools we can find, and would only call in 'our man with the chainsaw' as a last resort to rehabilitate a really rebellious specimen!
It is definitely a female 'nurturing' approach. We develop an emotional relationship with our plants. They remind us of the people who have given us the cuttings, or of past generations who planted them in the first place. Then there are the self-sown ones. They have actually chosen us. How could we be so inhospitable as to reject and uproot them!
There is an old two-room 'outbuilding' just outside our back door. We considered removing it when we restored this house 10 years ago, but the builder persuaded us to keep it. "It is pure 'country' and people would pay thousands to have something like that!" he said. One of the rooms is called "The old laundry" because that is what it was. The other one is called "The Nigel room" after a cat we owned at the time. Why? Well, the room was never anything but a junk/store room, but it needed a name so people knew what we were talking about when we told them where the stepladder was etc. So Edward flippantly suggested the Nigel room, and the name stuck. I might add that Nigel the cat stand out in our minds because of his complete lack of any personality or intelligence, and the poor thing died quite young of an auto-immune disease. Funnily enough, the Nigel room is now the night-time dormitory for Oliver, our Si-rex cat, to stop his wanderings.
Andy will tackle the growth around the Nigel Room and the old laundry. I have agreed, with some reluctance, that the self-sown Loquat tree (already about 8-10 feet) will have to go, as will the self-sown peach tree on the other side. If only they would plant themselves in more convenient spots. The Nandina can take some fairly drastic pruning without taking any offence, but I have urged a little more sensitivity when he tackles the lovely golden hibiscus which was a Golden Wedding Anniversary gift to Bernie's parents nearly 30 years ago. I love its graceful leggy shape.
Outside the Nigel room, the roses are looking a little wild and unkempt. There is unnamed one....that sends up enormous tall shoots, but has only rewarded me with two or three flowers in about 4 years. I will give it one more chance (and probably several more chances after that.) I will not allow the chain saw near the roses. I myself will give them a manicure, a haircut and a gentle makeover, so they can look their best until their next flush of flowers.
Around the base of the roses, the nasturtiums I planted last year look as if they are going to reward me with some more seedlings, for which I am grateful, and the Cape gooseberry will definitely be more productive if we tidy it up a bit.
This just one little corner of the garden, but it is very much part of my familiar environment that I call home. Bernie gets frustrated about my attachment to individual plants...he only sees the big picture in a garden, and believes it should be orderly and showy, and definitely kept under firm control. Green "thumb" has a whole different meaning with men!!
But I will continue to be a cottage gardener, allowing my plant family to express themselves and their own personalities, and rewarding them for the pleasure they have given me by allowing them a permanent home in my garden.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

This is a new Government Launch "in the making" at JCB Cabinets, our son's Joinery next door. The bare bones of the hull are almost complete, and all those things you can see sticking up are clamps, very necessary when the timber ribs have had to be bent as much as they are.
We were quite proud when John was awarded the contract to build a new launch. He did his apprenticeship in Joinery, but over the years has learnt for himself a great deal about boat-building. He has built a number of fishing boats, and restored many others. In the past 3 years, he has built two new lighters for the government also.
The government launch and lighters are in many ways a lifeline for Norfolk Island. We have no harbour or sheltered anchorage, and any cargo brought by sea has to be carried on the lighters from ship to pier. The sea conditions need to be right to carry out the lighterage task and there are often long delays. At the moment, a cargo ship has been waiting almost two weeks for sea conditions to improve enough for unloading to commence. When there is a particularly large piece of cargo -such as a bus or large truck -two lighters will be strapped together, and the launch will tow them to the wharf.
Probably the most important cargo or passenger who has ever travelled in our Government Launch was the Queen, who with Prince Phillip, Princess Anne, Capt. Mark Phillips, and Lord Mountbatten, visited the island in February 1974.

The seas were rather rough that day when the launch brought its royal passengers from the Britannia through the gap in the reef to the Kingston wharf.

Local seaman "Uckoo" Douran was in charge of the boat that day.

As the launch came alongside the wharf, bobbing about in the waves, it was somewhat precarious for the passengers to leap from the boat to the wet steps beside the pier.

"Uckoo" is probably the only person who has ever had the opportunity to say to Her Majesty (more or less)

"Now when I say 'jump' - you JUMP!!"

It is hard to say goodbye to someone who has called Norfolk home for over five decades, and has become very much part of the community.

Enid Plant, and her husband George and their family came to the island in the 1950's. George was originally working in the Whaling industry here, and when that closed down, they both went to work at Hopkins' Store, which was the forerunner of our present supermarket Foodlands. Enid and George raised five children here.
George died some years ago, but Enid continued actively in the workforce until quite recently. Although she now has the O.B.E. (Over B----- Eighty), Enid has remained extremely active in all sorts of community activities.
She has always been a keen bowler, served the community with the Country Women's Association over many years, has been a stalwart supporter of the Agricultural and Horticultural Society, a valued member of the Church of England, and a member of the choir. I am sure there are many other things she has participated in too.
Now Enid has decided embark on a new phase in her life, and will move to Melbourne where she will live in a Retirement Village which is close to three of her daughters, as well as numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Enid is also a great needleworker and craftsperson, and has been a much loved member of our Tuesday Craft group for many many years. We have seen her tackle many and varied projects...crochet, embroidery, cross-stitch and petit-point, tapestry, patchwork and quilting, doll-making, punchneedle work, fabric painting and many others.
One outstanding thing about Enid was that she was never daunted by technology, and easily mastered knitting machines and computerised sewing and embroidery machines. Many beautiful garments and other articles were produced on these. She also embraced computers early in the piece while many younger folk were still holding back! She loved new gadgets, and always made them work for her!
Yesterday we had a lovely craft session and afternoon tea at Dawn Chapman's home, to say farewell, thank Enid for her friendship, and wish her all the best for the future. We will really miss her cheerful, helpful and very positive contribution.

Enid will be especially missed by Andrea, who is seen here sharing a cuddle with this lovely lady.
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