Wednesday, January 31, 2007


For the last 6 weeks, Devon has been a busy bustling household, but the number of occupants is gradually diminishing. For a while, at mealtimes, I was just putting out a big pile of plates and knives and forks, cooking up several big dishes of food...and hoping for the best. Counting was a bit beyond me, especially as the numbers were frequently swelled by other family members calling in for the company.

On Sunday, granddaughters Emily and Sarah departed on the plane, and now there are only six of us. It seems so strange! we almost rattle around in the big old house! Tina and Brandt, Teddy and Sienna have a couple more weeks before they finally move into their new home at Fletcher Christian. I must say we have all "fitted in" wonderfully well together, but I am sure they will be looking forward to having their own space and routines.

There has not been much opportunity for getting myself lost in creative endeavours lately fact, we are almost still in "holiday mode"! But I have been plodding on with my rambling textile book on "Devon" at our Tuesday afternoon craft sessions.

There will be ten pages in all - five double sided ones - joined together concertina style. I am quite clear in my head about the logistics and techniques I will follow to create it in a book form, but the reality may be different!

Meanwhile I am working on all ten pages concurrently.

This page, showing the modern "Devon", will be the front cover. There are still a few details to be worked on it, but I thought I would show you the progress.
Meanwhile, for another perspective on Devon, here is a picture taken from the Ultralight aircraft the other week! This shows the back view of the house.

Then there is this one, which shows John's Joinery (JCB Cabinets) and Charles' Building Supply Centre (CBA Agencies). In the foreground on the left is the green roof of "Devon Cottage" where John lives, and to the right you can just see part of the roof of "Devonside", which is Charles' and Kim's home. In the centre of the foreground, you can catch a glimpse of the red roof of the shed which we still affectionately call "Puppa's Workshop", because that is where Bernie's Dad played round with his carpentry in his retirement!

Thursday, January 25, 2007


Basil came to us about 5 years ago. He is really Basil II.

Basil I was one of a litter born to Smokey at our house 22 years ago. He was a large smokey grey tabby, really quite a magnificent animal. However, he was nervous around strangers, and would only let the family approach him.

On the day we moved here to Devon House 11 years ago, we had four cats to make the move with us. On the evening of the day of the move, I had to fly out unexpectedly to Sydney, because my mother was dying. We were not able to find Basil before I left. The new occupants of our former house moved in that day, and no doubt Basil decided he was not going to hang around with strangers. We never saw him again.

Six years ago, Peg Dale, who ran a Cat Shelter, advertised that she had a smoky grey tabby who had obviously been feral for a while, and did anyone think they knew where he had come from. He was a huge and proud animal, and Peg refused to have him desexed, even though she was President of the Cat Welfare Association.

We were quite excited, and went to see him, and convinced ourselves he was our old Basil. However, the vet told us that this cat was only about 5 or 6, while our old Basil would have been 16. We relictantly left him with Peg, because he would have been a handful, and we had just acquired a new Si-Rex kitten from NZ.

A few months later, Peg rang to say that she needed to go into hospital, and would we consider taking the cat. We said we needed to think about it, and rang her that evening to say we would. But she said she had just found a home for him with someone else.

The lady who took him shut him in her house while she went to work the next day. Some tradesmen who came to the house let him out...and not only that, they accidently ran over him and killed him.

What we had not known was that when this cat had been trapped in Cascade Valley some months before, he had two kittens with him, obviously his own offspring. One of these had been given to a doctor who was working here at the time. But around the time the father cat was killed, the doctor left the island, and a new home had to be found for the young one.

To cut a long story short, we ended up taking him, and he has been a most wonderful companion. Dr Foong had named hin Oscar, but we re-named him Basil II, because he looks so much like our original cat, and we are quite convinced he is probably descended from him, because he was found in the valley where our old Basil would have gone 'wild'.

He hates to be picked up, but adores a lap. When he hears visitors pull up in the driveway, it is a race between Basil and Digby the Chihuahua to the loungeroom, in order to get the first lap when people sit down. He adores it when Trevor, our plumber friend, comes, because then he is given a most wonderful animal massage. Once again, it is a race between him and Digby, to see who will be first in the queue!

In the picture below, Baqsil is cuddling up to Oliver, the Si-Rex, who is around the same age.

We only have two cats now. It is many years since we have had as few as that. At one stage, we had five cats and three dogs. Come to think of it, we nearly always have three dogs even now, because we mind Charles' and Peter's dogs when they are out, and Charles and Kim's two cats always come to visit when their owners wander up to our place. But we would not have it any other way! Our pets really enhance our lives!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


It was an important date in the calender, and lots of us headed out to Les Quintal's paddock at Anson Bay for the Burning of the Bounty, which has become an annual event, commemorating the burning of the H.M.S.Bounty at Pitcairn Island on January 23rd 1790.

What a beautiful warm and still summer evening it was. Most people brought a picnic tea to enjoy while we were entertained by island singing and dancing. The kids had a ball. Believe it or not, this big White Oak is full of children up in its sturdy branches.

There was incredible colour in the sky for at least an hour around sunset, and the sea was like glass.

Some brave people - including the ever-enthusiastic Brandt - practised the hula by the light of the setting sun, under the guidance of Kathy and the littlies.

John Christian and his "crew" had been working on the Bounty model for some days. Each year it gets better.
Finally, the sun went down, and it was time to set the torch to the vessel, a task carried out by Greg Quintal Snr, who is descended from Matthew Quintal, who set fire to the original.

With the accompaniment of the beating drums, and the fire dancers, it was a moving spectacle. We thought back to how those original mutineers and their Tahitian companions must have felt. Popular feeling is that the ship was burned on purpose, so that the mutineers, hiding from justice on that remote little island, were less likely to be detected, and to lessen the chance of any of them taking the ship and returning to give the game away.

However, it seems that there would not even have been time to finish unloading the ship of all useful supplies in the three days that had elapsed since their arrival at Pitcairn. There is a turbulent and treacherous surf in Bounty Bay, and any sort of unloading, which included large numbers of animals and plants, would have been time consuming and difficult. Moreover, the Bounty had been run up onto rocks when they arrived, and it would have been near-impossible for any of them to re-float the boat unless everyone helped. So escape by any individual was unlikely.
What probably happened is that Matthew Quintal, under the influence of the alcohol he had helped salvage, wilfully and impulsively torched the vessel, and they all saw their last link with the outside world destroyed, along with many supplies and equipment that may have been useful to them.

This little community was to remain undiscovered for 18 years, by which time they had undergone an amazing transformation, and only one mutineer, John Adams, remained alive.

Saturday, January 20, 2007


I have been idling away a few more pleasant and nostalgic hours going through old recipe books.

One of the most interesting is called "TRIED RECIPES" compiled by the Victoria League Girls' Club in Auckland. It was published in 1916, and was priced at One shilling, with postage 2 1/2 pence extra! We are told that the entire proceeds were for the Surgical Appliance Fund, set up to assist "maimed" soldiers.

I am constantly amazed at how many of the recipes have just flour, sugar, milk, butter and eggs as the basic ingredients, cooked in varying proportions and ways, with things like a few currants, treacle, spices or flavoured essences to add interest. If the ladies using these recipes found themselves in one of today's big supermarkets, they would have imagined themselves to be on another planet!

Many of the recipes reflect the preoccupation with the war. There is already an Anzac Pudding and Anzac Shortbread, War Pudding, Red Cross Tomatoes,a Soldiers' Cake, a Canadian War Cake, and a Khaki Cake........and Wake Cakes!

One rather amusing section contains recipes contributed by soldiers, and I loved this gem supplied by 4/464Harold J. Baxter.


Grate up 4 army biscuits on a piece of jam tim that has been pierced with a bayonet, using as little bad language as possible. Soak for 2 days in your water issue. Place in mess tin, and boil until a complete state of sloppiness is reached. Add jam to taste - sugar having risen in price.

The invalid cookery section is also fascinating as usual. How about "Invalid Toast", contributed by A.D, Auckland Trained Nurses' Club?


Toast a slice of bread; put it on a warm plate and pour boiling water over it. Lay another plate on top and steam off the water. Butter with soft butter. Heat for a minute in the oven; cover again and serve hot.

Oh dear, what a lot of trouble for a slice of bread and butter!

Almost as interesting as the recipes are some of the advertisements in these old publications, many of them for the latest gas or electrical appliances, and for numerous brands of tea and flour. Photographers and Insurance Agents seem to feature prominently too.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

It was a beautiful afternoon, and the seas were who could blame the boys for forgetting all their other plans when the opportunity came to go out in the boat fishing.

At first they did not seem to be having much luck. Then they had to stop for a while because Snoop had his hook caught on the bottom. As it happened, this was the very spot where the fish had decided to congregate, and they pulled up fish after fish, sometimes bringing up 5 trumpeter on 4 hooks!
In just one afternoon, the "new boy" Brandt said he caught more fish than he had caught in his whole life up until that time! Boy, was he pleased with his efforts!
They cleaned and filleted the catch back at Sput's. It took them quite a while, even allowing for the fact that it was thirsty work!

All the rest of us had to do that night was to cook it and eat it, which we did with great delight. The excess was put into the freezer. There will be plenty of fish meals coming up in the next week or two!

One of our favourite ways of enjoying fish is Tahitian Fish. There is usually a big bowl of it for any picnic or special occasion. Here is how we prepare it at Devon.

Take some fillets of firm white fish. My favourite is Kingfish. Cut it into fairly small diced pieces.

Soak it for a few hours in lemon juice. Some lime juice makes it really special. If you don't have either of these, white vinegar is not too bad as a substitute!

If you are in a hurry, keep forking through the fish and it will marinate quicker.

Once the fish is white (as if it had been "cooked") drain off some of the liquid and add coconut cream. Some Norfolkers add ordinary cream. Also add a selection of the following for colour, flavour and texture.

Salt and pepper, Chopped onion, parsley, chives, celery, cucumber, capsicum, grated carrot, chopped firm tomatoes.

I must confess to liking garlic in it, which I can either add when marinating, or else I am liberal with the garlic salt when seasoning.

Years ago, Paddy and the late Dick Cavill used to serve a form of this dish in their famous Garrison Restaurant here on Norfolk Island. It was called "Paddy's Aoli." They used to slice the fish into fine flat slivers. This is best done when the fish is somewhat frozen. The marinated slivers were arranged on a dish and served with Aoli (garlic mayonnaise.) I must confess that I usually use a commercial Aoli from a jar when I do this dish.

I am told that in a few decades, fish and chips will be a luxury, because we will have overfished our oceans. On the whole, our local fishermen are fairly responsible, imposing voluntary limits on their catches at certain times of year. But we know there are large foreign fishing vessels out there in our waters, and we do not seem to be able to do much about it. Let us hope the world comes to its senses so future generations of island people can continue to enjoy something fresh from their seas.

Sunday, January 14, 2007


Tina took this picture of our 4 sons...well, five if you count Digby the dog.

From left to right we have Edward (Edda) who is nearly 26, John who is 32, Peter (31) and Charles (33). And Digby is six!! We don't often get them all together. I do not know how Tina managed to line them up for this picture..I'm sure I could not have managed it! (Tina has just told me that she said they could not go in and have their dinner until she had got her 'shot.')

Edda went back to Sydney early this morning, after 3 weeks' holiday. It was hard saying goodbye, when we know we may not see him for another year. Miriam returned a couple of weeks ago, but hopes to be back again as soon as April, to see her new niece/nephew!

It has been so great having the boys around during the holiday season. They have been a great help[, providing fruit and vegetables and fish, and helping with the cooking and cleaning up. They have all enjoyed the company of cousin Tina and Brandt and Tedy and Sienna, and of course, they are wonderful uncles to Sarah and Emily. In fact, Charles has just had his nieces up in the Ultralight, flying over Devon.

Over the past three or four weeks, there have often been up to 14 or 15 of us round the dinner table at nights...but who is counting? Tonight, there will be a special treat, as my nephew-in-law Brandt has cooked us a Beef and Guiness pie for tea!

Family are very precious and special.

Here are some of us saying goodbye to Miriam and Rob at the airport. It is really great to have extra females in these family pictures lately. I am usually quite outnumbered by the boys!

Monday, January 08, 2007


Tina and I had a nostalgic afternoon on Saturday.

It all began when Tina said she had brought some of Nana's precious handwritten recipes with her to Norfolk Island. (Tina's nana was my mother.)

That sent me off to the shed where I have a big box of old recipe clippings and folders, including...I hope... a folder of Mum's favourites she wrote out for me when I first started flatting many years ago.

Unfortunately the shed was too loaded with junk for me to reach the back, but I did unearth a couple of boxes of recipes and cookbooks belonging to Bernie's mum and Great-aunt Charlotte.

The books have unusual names like "Aunt Daisy's Cookery Book" and "The EWA Cookery Book" produced by "The Electrical Association for Women." The latter was published in 1936, and carries several advertisements for "modern" electric stoves and other appliances, which look like real dinosaurs today.

Interspersed between the pages are numerous hand written or hand-typed recipes and hints, with titles like "Flora's biscuits(very good)" or "Mrs Passmore's Orange Jam," or "Miss Parry's Cough Mixture"as well as several clipped from old magazines.

Some of the books bear Charlotte's name written in the front in pencil, followed by "Sydney 1942." It seems that she travelled to Sydney by ship for a holiday, but was prevented from returning to the island because of the War. So she obtained a job for a while as a housekeeper/companion, and no doubt equipped herself with these recipes to impress and satisfy her employer.

Among Bernie's mum's recipes are several handwritten copies of recipes for her Sago Plum Pudding(for which she was well-known), as well as a number of versions of Brandy Sauce. Bernie recalls that the preparation of the Brandy sauce was one of the most important rituals of Christmas in his family!!

Modern cookbooks are lavishly illustrated, and often carry only one recipe to a page. They use exotic and expensive and hard-to-obtain ingredients. Not so your old Coronation Cookery book of 1937, which has ten recipes just for cooking pigeon. Or your "Modern Cookery Illustrated"(1948) which runs to 640 pages of small print, two columns to a page.

Improvising and substituting were necessities in those times, and the indexes point you to recipes for Mock Cream, Mock Chicken, Mock Duck, Mock Hare Soup, Mock Oyster Soup and Mock Turtle Soup! And how about Pea Shell soup for those on a budget?

There are usually chapters on Invalid Cookery, working on the principle that as long as it was mushy, white and without flavour, it was fine for someone who was a convalescent. Quite an incentive to get better quickly, I should think. And what about catering for an Anaemic patient, with liver cutlets, liver fritters or even raw liver sandwich?

Tina and I are planning a meal which will feature all old family recipes, like Nana's Yorkshire Pudding and Ma's Rice Pudding.

Meanwhile, you may like to try Miss Parry's Cough Cure.

1/2 pint vinegar
1/2 lb golden syrup
1 small teaspoonful cayenne pepper
Boil until reduced to half. Dose - 1 teaspoon when needed. Shake the bottle.

I think Tina has my Mum's recipe for Eucalyptus toffees. That sounds much better!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

It has been a busy, somewhat noisy but happy household here at Devon over the holiday period. Lots of people in the house, and lots of visitors young and old. I cannot say it has meant extra work for me, as there have been plenty of helping hands. And as for the interrupted and altered routines...well, we have decided to just "go with the flow!"
What I really hope is that the kids will have very happy memories of this Christmas, of Norfolk Island, and good times at Devon.

Here Teddy, who has just has his face painted to look like Rudolph, is blowing some big bubbles at the Markets.

Emily is protecting her candle from the breeze at Carols by Candlelight.

Sienna and Mitti the dog have developed a close and loving relationship. I think it has something to do with the morsels of food dropped from the high chair!!!

On new Years' Day, cousins Amy and Anna came up for a barbecue, and decided they wanted the first kebabs off the barbecue plate! Teddy and his friends Jackson and Harry were allowed to start demolishing Kim's Gingerbread Cottage!

The kids colour in while the adults finish their meal at the Chinese Restaurant.

As for Teddy, I think he definitely prefers Italian!

It is just great to be around the kids. I love their energy, their enthusiasm, their delight in simple pleasures.

Now we are looking forward to a new grandchild.

Below is Kim, dressed for her friend's wedding. Behind that "bump" is "Little Nibby", due to make his/her appearance in early April.

We suspect that Roany, one of our lovely granddogs, will have his nose out of joint!

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