Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The big day has arrived, and the finishing touches have finally been put to the new Government launch that has been taking shape in John's Joinery over the past few months. That's Darren, John's trusty offsider in the picture.
It has been a wonderfully satisfying project, not only for the fellows in the Joinery, but for all those who have called in to check on the progress and lend a hand on a regular basis.
In the late afternoons after work, there would often be a number of fellows gathered there around the boat, helping out with a bit of sanding or painting, or just running their hands over the surface as blokes love to do with timber (a bit like us women with fabric.) There has been a wonderful sense of community pride about the whole project, especially as this is the first time the Government launch has been built on the island for some decades.
The pride and excitement were very evident on Monday when the boat was finally loaded onto its trailer and towed out of Devon Cottage. There was a sizeable audience of helpers and onlookers, and much clicking of cameras to record the occasion.
In the picture below, the launch is heading out of the Devon Cottage driveway on its way to the Administration Works Depot for its final fitting out, ready for the christening in a week or two's time. Are you wondering what the name will be? Well, watch this space?

Sunday, June 25, 2006

It has been a very cold wintry day, and I decided a big pot of curry would go down well for tea, and that has been simmering in the crockpot all day. All it needs is a generous slurp of coconut cream and it will be ready. I have prepared some dishes of my home made lime pickle, and plum sauce to go on the side.
Because some of the kids are going to join us, I thought I ought to stretch myself and prepare some dessert. In the pantry I found a tin of fruit salad left from Bounty. I added chunks of some of the mandarins I had bought yesterday (to help with my cold), then I thought I would go over to Devon Cottage garden to see if there were any ripe passionfruit. While I was picking them, I looked over to the cottage, and John's hibiscus bushes were just a mass of these stunning orange blooms. Just the thing to brighten up a grey day!!
The passionfruit have a little story. A few years ago, I had some leftover food from a picnic, and fed it to the worms in my worm farm. This included some remnants of a fruit salad in which I had used tinned passionfruit. Some weeks later, I used those worm castings in my potting mix, which I was using to pot up plants for the Spring Fair. A couple of weeks later, dozens of little passionfruit seedlings sprouted in the pots alongside the cuttings. Most of them ended up getting sold at the Fair, but I planted a couple out in the garden, and they have been wonderful bearers. For years, they have steadily produced passionfruit for 8-9 months of the year, mostly through the winter. A couple of years ago, they stopped bearing, so I cut them back, fed them up, and away they went again!
The variety is the "Jamaican" passionfruit. It has a pale yellow pithy skin. It is slightly tart, but has a beautiful flavour. With their prolific bearing, it is no wonder that this seems to be the variety used for tinned passionfruit!
Meanwhile I thought I would post this picture which I took when I was cleaning up after one of our get togethers during the visit of the Tahitians. I had just swept the hibiscus flowers up from the tables and dumped them in a pile.....and could not resist a quick snap of the camera before I discarded them. I think that you will agree that they grow just beautifully here on Norfolk Island...and that we are lucky to havew such an easy table decoration!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Our son Charles has always believed he can more or less do most anything he sets his mind to. He may need to ask a question or two, or watch someone else for a while. Then he will tackle it. He is a busy person, but he makes the time, often by working well into the night. He loves a challenge.
This week he has been turning his hand to making pies. Charles loves his sweets, and perhaps we do not make them often enough for him. So he has solved the problem by learning to cook them himself. And he has done a great job.
Sweet pies - such as lemon, passionfruit and coconut are a very traditional thing on Norfolk Island. No island function is complete without them. We believe the tradition began in the 19th century when Norfolk Island, and Pitcairn before that, was a port of call for whalers from America. Often, the whalers' wives would stay on the island while the men went off for the whaling season, and no doubt they and the island women were happy to share recipes and culinary expertise during these times. Sweet custard pies were also a tradition in America, particularly in the New England and Boston areas, from which many of the whalers came. Other traditions were also introduced by the whalers to the island, including the celebration of Thanksgiving. At one stage, Norfolk Island even had an American consul!
Anyway, we have all enjoyed sampling Charles' pies. He has tried passionfruit and coconut, and next Kim is going to see if he will make some lemon pie.
I might add that Charles has never been sexist about the skills he acquires. He learnt to crochet when he was about 8, and even made an Afghan rug (but I do not think he has done it since.) He also comes and uses my sewing machine when Kim needs an alteration done on her clothes. He does not think of it as female creative stuff. To him it is just a matter of learning a few techniques and using a bit of logic.
I should add that my other sons are reasonably good cooks, but Charles has really not entered the kitchen domain before. He has had women to cook for him and wait on him ever since he went to Boarding School at the age of 14! So we are looking forward to more of his culinary adventures!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

In this modern throw away world, it is so good to know that there are people who still like to recycle, especially when it is 60-70 year old lace!!!
Our friend Margaret has been visiting the island again with husband Tony, and brought me another bag of very precious pieces of lace, which she inherited from her mother. I mentioned before that Margaret's mother used to sew lingerie for clients, real heirloom sort of stuff, although I suppose it was normal in those days. Sadly, none of her skills were passed on to her daughter, who was even denied access to the sewing room as a child.
After seeing some of the things I do with lace, Margaret brought me a few pieces on her last visit. She said the delighted expression on my face was worth a million thank yous, and so she has brought me more.
Some of these pieces are actually pre-made petticoat frills (like tablecloth edgings). There are also some beautiful insert and applique pieces, and edgings....all in fine cotton.
A couple of the laces have brown marks in spots, but I have no desire to remove those. I feel they add to the "patina" and ambience of these lovely textiles.
It is going to be hard for me to cut into those petticoat frills, but Margaret says she doesn't mind, and is quite happy to see them given a new life in something new that someone will treasure.
Meanwhile, my daughter has been home for a break, and admits to being horrified at the extent of my stash. She went and had a look at everything I had in the attic (stuff that will be "vintage" one of these days.) She is dreading the giant garage sale when I pass on to the Great Sewing Room in the Sky, but I told her that if I can't take it with me, then I am leaving it to my younger granddaughter, who loves the sort of treasures that I do!

Meanwhile, we have also had a visit from Eleanor and Kelly from Benalla. Kelly used to be the Bank Manager here, and was about the last of the good old-fashioned family bank managers! Eleanor brought a lovely gift for me...a little bag of treasures, carefully chosen...some Robyn Pandolph rose fabrics, a rich Japanese crane print, some beads, beaded fringing and some ribbon. People are so kind and thoughtful!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

What a week it has been. Much celebrating and partying. Lots of wonderful food.
Much hugging and kissing...on both cheeks. The Tahitians say we Westerners are lazy for only doing it on one cheek!
And music...wherever we went! Those Polynesian rhythms will be pulsing through me for a long while. I seem to hear them wherever I am, even in the dead of night. Our Tahitian friends just love to strum, sing and dance! What a joyful attitude to life.

Mile, Sylvia and Moana went home on Sunday...but not before they had the whole airport terminal singing "In the Sweet Bye and Bye" and "Now is the Hour" at the top of their voices.
Tomorrow, sadly, we will farewell Gladys, Little Gladys, Amelia and Amelie. Everything will seem so quiet after that.

My schoolgirl French, not practised for many decades, has improved enormously in this past fortnight, I could not believe how words and phrases were starting to come back! But fortunately, some of the Tahitians had enough English to enable most of us to communicate. Not that it mattered. The music and laughter bonded us.Many of us plan to go to Tahiti in October 2008 to celebrate the 220th anniversary of the Bounty sailing into Matavi Bay. The links that have been established with these distant cousins are strong and precious.

Friday, June 09, 2006


I run the risk of running out of superlatives to describe our 150th Anniversary (Bounty) Day yesterday.
There was an early start getting picnic tables and chairs down to the picnic spot, and getting the cars loaded with the food. There was the usual rush to find the right gear to wear, with some swapping round of shirts etc. Miriam had to make some hurried alterations to her dress, which was too long. We thought we still had plenty of time....until we found the kitchen clock had stopped.
On our arrival at Kingston, we were amazed to see literally hundreds of people in their Bounty gear converging on the pier, and all the laughter and the camaraderie had started already. There were just so many of 'uklun' that I do believe we outnumbered the visitors who had gathered to watch the parade.
I must tell you about an amazing thing that happened just as we left the pier to proceed to the Cenotaph. A humpback whale chose just that moment to frolic around in the waters between Norfolk and Phillip Island. Although whales traditionally pass this way on their way North at this time of year, it is rare to see one so close, and the timing was incredible. Many people felt that it was a good omen for the future of our island!
The parade proceeded a little more slowly than usual, with the enormous numbers. Some of the oldies 'hitched' a ride on Marie's old A-model Ford Tour Bus, others were pushed in wheel chairs, while the very young were in arms, on shoulders, in strollers and even in Pitcairn style wheelbarrows!
After the wreath laying at the Cemetery, we proceeded to Government House where we were able to see all the banners that had been produced by the individual families.
Rolling down the hill after the time at Government House is a well-loved tradition among the children (and even the occasional high-spirited adult), and I believe it is almost a rite of passage when one becomes old enough to do it!!
Back at the Compound, the tables were piled with every sort of good thing to eat, including wonderful Norfolk and Pitcairn traditional dishes. But first, before we sang Grace, there were short speeches from our V.I.P. guest, the Governor-General, and from our Chief Minister, who urged us to be proud of who we are, and to hold fast to our Norfolk Way.
And there would not have been a soul there who did not feel very proud, either to be Bounty descendant, or of having the opportunity to share in this very historic celebration.
While the grown-ups relaxed and let their very bountiful feast settle, the children assembled on the Oval for a lolly drop from the Ultralight plane.
We were well into the packing up, when there was a great cloudburst of rain, but it could not dampen our spirits. The Tahitians, in fact, clustered under a big sun umbrella, and the singing and strumming continued to the very end.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

I know their friends in Tahiti and other parts of the world are keenly following their activities on Norfolk Island, so I thought I would let you know a bit more about what Gladys, Gladys, Sylvia, Mile, Amelie, Amelia, Mile, and Moana..and their Norfolk cousins... have been up to!
We have been out on an Island Bus trip, we have had afternoon tea at our Legislative Assembly and at Government House, there have been lunches and dinners all about, including a couple of meals at Mokutu Inn where they are staying. After the special day at Simon's Water, we enjoyed another pot-luck supper, and an evening of music, singing and dancing at Roy and Mai Nobbs.
There has been lots of laughter and fun times, and last night at Cat's Cafe was no exception. About 35 of us gathered to enjoy one of Ngaire's delicious island smorgasbords.
Tom and Ann took turns on the old pianola, with the wonderful collection of there was no need for the ukeles to come out this time.
The highlight of the evening was when Greg Quintal decided to get in touch with his Tahitian roots! He donned a long black wig, a grass skirt, and sported an enormous pair of bare boobs. Now if you had seen Greg(who is well into his eighties) dancing, you would never believe that a year or two ago they wanted to remove one of his legs, and he was very sick man. Fortunately Greg decided he was too"attached" to his legs, and so he was able to enjoy last night to the fullest!
They say a good belly laugh is good for you..and we certainly had the benefit of that last night.
The language differences have not been a problem....our French is improving, as is the Tahitians' English, but laughter and hugs are universal!!
Today we are all busy cooking!
Charles has brought me some taro, yams and cassava from his garden over at the Pitcairn settlers' Village..I hope it will remind our visitors of home!
The weather is just beautiful. We hope it keeps up tomorrow!

Monday, June 05, 2006


There are so many wonderful and inspiring happenings on Norfolk Island at this time that it would take several blog postings to cover them, and I would need to be in several places at one time to do it justice.
It has just so good to have so many Norfolkers, former visitors and long ago residents come home to celebrate the very special anniversary of a unique and beautiful island and community.
Yesterday was one of those days we will treasure in our hearts for a long time.
There was a Sesqui-centenary Service at All Saints, with thanksgiving and prayer for past, present and future. Bishop Robert Forsyth, who is a great friend of Norfolk, took part, and had the unenviable role of speaking about the future!
Raymond Nobbs also participated, and as was fitting for a historian, he spoke about our proud past. There was also an opportunity to launch his new book on "Norfolk Island and its Third Settlement." Our Tahitian visitors shared with us in the time of worship, and not only took one of the readings (in French and English), but also sang a hymn in Tahitian.
There was a street parade later in the morning, which I believe went well, but we were all busy with last minute preparations for our big event out at Simon's Water.
About 1 p.m., between 150 and 200 of us gathered out there, and the weather, which had been somewhat threatening earlier, was just so kind to us.
We began with a very moving ceremony out near the cliff edge, where Sylvia Hermann (from Tahiti) unveiled the seat which we have placed there to mark the special relationship with our Tahitian cousins. Two pines were also planted, one by Gladys and her group from Tahiti, and another by Edie and the Norfolkers. Two special stones from Matavi Bay were placed at the base of each hole, and black sand from Tahiti was sprinkled around each tree.
Then there followed the feast, and bundle after bundle of succulent and steaming meats and vegetables, wrapped in banana leaves, were lifted out of the cooking pit, and placed on the tables to be enjoyed with all the delicious salads that had been brought to share. The Tahitians had also been busy cooking many of their dishes, including two kinds of poi and taro leaves cooked in coconut milk.
There was an incredibly joyful atmosphere, and we carried on eating, talking, sharing, singing, strumming and dancing, right until the sun started to go down and the temperature started to drop. The children ran around having great fun and games, and enjoying blowing bubbles from the giant bucket of soapy water someone had brought along. They also enjoyed "christening" the new long-drop that Charles had only just put in place!
A memorable occasion, in true Norfolk style!
I really should let the pictures tell the story!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

It is just one week away from our special 150th Anniversary (Bounty) Day, and the party time has begun! You would not believe the crowds of locals at the airport yesterday meeting the planes....lots of family, relatives and friends coming home for a week or two join in the special celebrations.
Our daughter Miriam arrived from New Zealand, and on the same plane was the Tahitian contingent, whose visit we have been planning for over the past few months. Miriam's friend from Matamata, Gayleen, had arrived a few days earlier.
Last night there was a big Pot Luck Supper here at "Devon", to welcome everyone and renew friendships. About 55 people came along and shared in the food and festivity.
Two big long tables absolutely groaned with wonderful dishes of delicious food, mostly hot dishes...and with the weather a little on the cool side, we really did it justice, with lots going back for seconds.
Several people had brought along photo albums, with lots of pictures taken in Tahiti in October, and everyone had fun reminiscing about the good times they had!
We had made up gift bags for our visitors, with some brochures, a book, a Bounty mug, a Ball Bay stone with "Tahiti - Pitcairn- Norfolk" laser engraved on it and in its own little bag, a pen engraved with the recipient's name, a Norfolk bookmark and a T-shirt. These were presented during the evening by David Buffett on behalf of us all, and there was much hugging and kissing (French style!)
There was plenty of singing and music, with Moana (from Tahiti) and Matt (from Norfolk) accompanying on their ukekeles, and Gladys providing some rhythm playing the spoons! Most of the singing was in French, but we kept time in English!!
The kids had a great time running round in the dark, and when they had exhausted their energies, they retired in front of the TV while the grown ups partied on.
Our visitors had travelled a long way, so it was not a late night, but it was a bit too late for one little fellow, who sought the comfort of his grandpa's arms.
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