Thursday, November 30, 2006


For as long as anyone can remember, Norfolk Island has celebrated Thanksgiving. In the 1800's and earliest 1900's, the American whalers would call in to Norfolk Island at the start of the whaling season for supplies, and often their wives would choose to stay on the island while the menfolk went off on their whaling hunts. During these times, these women had a great deal of contact with Norfolk's local women, and passed on many of their recipes, such as the custard pies which are very traditional on this island.
Another tradition passed on by these American visitors was that of celebrating Thanksgiving Day. While the United States celebrates it on the fourth Thursday in November, Norfolk Island celebrates it on the last Wednesday of that month. On Norfolk Island, special services are held in the island's churches. It is not the Autumn Harvest type festival that our American cousins know, nevertheless the churches are still beautifully decorated with cornstalks and seasonal produce, as well as the tall agapanthus flowers which are in bloom at this time. After the service, the produce is either sold or auctioned.

After church yesterday, we organised a potluck Thanksgiving lunch at "Devon", and we had a most wonderful afternoon, with about 50 people, young and old, coming along to join us. The food was just amazing, and we needed the two long tables just for the savoury dishes, while the sweets filled the big kitchen table.Our dear friend Nancy, who visits 2 or 3 times a year from Florida, was happy to make up for the Thanksgiving she had missed at home by joining in with ours. nancy saud the homegrown turkey, killed and cooked by Arthur, brought back nostalgic memories of her younger days!

Along with the turkey and ham, we had a big pot of freshly cooked corn that had been stripped from the stalks decorating the church earlier! We also had teo big bowls of Tahitian fish, made from fish that had been caught last weekend. Most of us ran out of room on our plates long before we reached the end of the table!

In this picture, Nancy is sharing a table with Jill, one of the many friends she has made on her frequent visits to this island.

After lunch, our Kim had organised some games and prizes for the children, and they had a great time, as did the adults and also the dogs and Cloud the cat.

There was cricket.....and rounders!

There was a sack race.

Then they had a three legged race, with some of the pairs very unevenly matched! Roany the dao became quite perturbed about seeing people with their legs tied together!
While that was going on, Uncle Tom quietly hid some "treasure" in the woodland, and is seen here giving the older kids some last minute instructions!
Stan and Ralph enjoy a quiet chat and a cuppa at the end of a perfect day.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

At this time of year, one realises that it is time to do a little bit of "forward thinking" for the Christmas season. This is especially important for us here at Devon, because we are looking forward to having at least nine extra people staying in the house during Christmas week, and that is without counting those in Devon Cottage and Devonside. It is going to be such a happy and busy time, with lots of little ones and young people giving us a real boost with their energy and creative enthusiasm.
But it means that I must really get stuck into the creative side of the preparations NOW!
I have made a start with a "batch" of little bags or pouches.

These tiny bags are from a pattern in "Omiyage", a lovely book of ideas for trinkets in fabric, Japanese style.

The pattern for these is just so just start out with two large triangles of fabric in contrasting colours and sew them back to back. You then fold back each corner, and sew a line of stitching about 1 cm from the folds...this will be the channel for a cord later. You then fold each side from the middle and sew...these form the sides of the bag. Then you thread cord through, and voila, a little bag that looks like a little flower.

Mind you, it will not hold very much. But with a pretty handkerchief tucked inside, or perhaps 3 or 4 wrapped choccies, or even a necklace or bracelet, they will make lovely little gifts at Christmastime.

Now I am off to think about starting a ginger beer plant, and gathering together Christmas pudding ingredients. Oh yes.....I mustn't forget that batch of fabric patchwork Christmas stockings that did not quite get finished last year!!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

The best stories of history are the ones you hear first hand from those who have lived through them.
The other day at the White Oaks Club, we were chatting about the Island's two piers, Cascade and Kingston. Situated on opposite sides of the island, both are very old, but they have been a lifeline to this island since its first beginnings. In this day and age, when we import so many goods by sea, including food supplies, from Australia and New Zealand and other parts of the world, we tend to forget that there were times when Norfolk Island was quite an exporter of produce.
In the earliest penal settlement, it was hoped that Norfolk Island could become something of a "breadbasket" for the main settlement in Sydney, and in spite of some early difficulties, this island was able to supply many of the needs of the settlement....including coffee, which is being trialled as a cash crop today.
Gilbert Jackson is one of our senior citizens who has worked very hard to create a good life for his family here on his island homeland, and who has served the community as an elected member of the island's government. He frequently comes up with some really interesting reminiscences about earlier days on this island.
Gilbert told us he remembers a time back in the early thirties when the pier at Cascade, and the area behind it would be so crowded that there would not be an inch of room to move. In those days, the "Hinemoa" from New Zealand would call in every fortnight, and would take on board supplies of fruit and vegetables to take back to the markets in New Zealand. When word got round that the ship was in, the islanders would gather together their excess produce....oranges and other citrus, bananas, and sweet potatoes mainly.... and take it down to the pier. Gilbert says you could hardly move for all the people, the horses and carts and the crates and boxes. No doubt it provided some very useful cash for household goods and the like in those days when the island was still very much a semi-subsistence rural economy. Evidently it was especially good to have this commerce in a depression era!
Sadly it all came to an end. Just another episode of a long sequence of boom and bust for this island. The potato growers in Tasmania began to complain about the fact that Australia was importing potatoes from New Zealand. And so the practice came to an end, in order to protect the local Tasmanian industry.
In retaliation, New Zealand said that it would cease importing any fruit and vegetables from Australia. Because of its connection with Australia, Norfolk Island became caught up in that ban, and thus the island lost an important market for its products. This must have been a bit of a blow to the Norfolk Island growers, but at least they still had food on the table in that Depression era.
I did love the colourful picture that Gilbert created of a busy bustling pier. I can imagine the island men standing round comparing the size of their sweet tatie, the women bringing down tea and "wetls" to keep them going, and the children lending a hand with the boxes and bunches of "plun" (bananas) in between chasing and hiding, and gathering hi-hi (periwinkles) off the rocks.
Cascade Pier is still a busy bustling place today when there is a ship in, but nowadays we are more interested in what is being unloaded...groceries, household goods, stock for the tourist shops and vehicles. Occasionally there is an animal (horse or cow) to be brought ashore, and sometimes something really large like a bus.
We still grow all the fruit and vegetables we use ourselves, and do not import any fresh produce........except potatoes, onions, garlic and ginger, and they mostly come in from New Zealand!!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

In recent times, I have had experiences and met people that have encouraged me to "free up" and became more adventurous in my creative activities. The mixed media workshop I took part in opened up all sorts of possibilities to me. I have decided that I do not really want to get too involved with paper and cardboard, or even paint, but there is a wealth of stimulating material available for me still....dyes, beads, buttons, laces, fabrics, threads, and those wonderful new generation yarns that are available now, used as much by textile artists as knitters!
And of course there is the computer, and the artistic possibilities are endless. For a long time I have wanted to do more with printing on fabric. Peggy at Kaliko Kottage has supplied me with some wonderful pre-prepared fabric in both cotton and silk, which feeds through the computer and accepts photos beautifully.
For inspiration, I usually try to look close to home and my own experiences. Devon offers many possibilities, and so I finally decided to make a concertina book called "Devon Ramblings". It will have 5-6 pairs of pages, with a picture on each side. I will join the pages with feather stitch, a technique I learnt to use on delicate bags some years ago.
Here are two of the pages which are close to completion. They just need a few more embellishments, and then the borders, which will probably include some script.
The first shows the terns nesting high up in the trees in the woodland. They return year after year in the Spring.
Thje second picture is of the back deck, with the old laundry and the Nigel room in the background. Bernie calls this deck "Mary's folly." I had it built some years ago because the back of our house always looked so bare and bland. But the one who mostly uses it to chill out is Basil the cat! So I must remember to add a cat charm or button to it.
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