Saturday, April 28, 2007


The second month of the Book RR I am involved with is coming to a close.
This afternoon, I put the final stitches to the page I have been working on, and on Monday I will set it off on its journey to Chriss in Newcastle in England for her contribution.
This month I have worked on a page with the theme "Openings". This project belongs to Melissa in New Zealand, and the theme offers all sorts of possibilities. For a while I considered featuring the Opening of a Show (with me as the Star), but do you know, although I get great pleasure out of my craft, and working at it makes me really happy, I have never been good at light-hearted subjects or poking fun at things. I think I am worried that it will make my work more ephemeral, trite or kitsch, and that is definitely something I want to avoid....although I admire people who can do it well.
So I went down a more familiar path, and chose two "openings" in the natural world...a hollow log, and an opening in the reef.
For the marine scene, I did something for the first time...I used some paper. The fish came swimming straight towards me from the pages of the current National Geographic. He was the perfect size and colouring for my purposes. So out came the Mixed Media Artist's staple stand-by, the Gel Medium, and he was placed in the cool green waters of my handpainted background.

The hollow log is actually something I have done before, on a larger scale in a wallhanging. It was a fleeting image that I saw on a Natural History programme on TV many years ago. It became imprinted on my mind, and I was not happy until I had interpreted it in fabric. The surrounding log was done in Crazy patchwork style, using a variety of fabrics and dyed laces. I think it was one of my earliest Crazy patch projects. I gave it away as a gift to some friends, and when their marriage broke up, I believe the husband kept it, because it had been given for his birthday. I hope he still enjoys it.
The log page proved a bit more of a challenge, and I ended up doing some unpicking, even after I had joined the two pages together back to back. I am much happier with it now. I always have to work at getting the balance and contrast right before I am happy with a project. Colour is something that comes easily to is something I find it bit more challenging. But taking part in projects such as these puts one on a great learning curve, as they challenge you, and take you out of your comfort zone!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


We were sitting at the breakfast table this morning, when the phone rang.

It was Charles.

"Quick, Mum, come down to our place, and bring your camera. There is a Boobook owl in the tree in front of our house."

Now I should explain that just a few years ago, the Norfolk Island Boobook owl was the rarest creature on the planet. Loss of habitat, and the predations of rats and feral cats had taken their toll, and there was just one owl left. Maimitti, as the lone survivor was called (after Fletcher Christian's Tahitian wife) seemed doomed to a life of childless spinsterhood, and when she died, her species would be extinct.

It was decided to bring in two Boobook males from New Zealand. New Zealand Boobooks are very closely related to the Norfolk ones. They were released into the rainforest. Safe nesting boxes had been prepared, and programmes of rat and cat control were underway. We hoped for the best.

One of the males was never seen again. But the other one, miraculously, teamed up with Maimitti. He became known as Tintoela, which means "Sweetheart" in the Norfolk language.

Eventually the baby Boobooks arrived, and gradually over the years, the numbers began to increase in the National Park.

It was when the unmistakeable nocturnal owl call began to be heard in other parts of the island that we knew the recovery programme had been a success, and that the Boobooks were once again part of the Norfolk environment.

In recent weeks, we have been hearing the owl call at night in the woodland down behind "Devon" and "Devonside." Charles started playing a recording of the mating call from his window hoping to entice the bird closer, but with no luck.

Imagine his surprise this morning when he heard a fluttering in the Whitewood in front of his house, and there was a Boobook, in broad daylight. The creature did not look well, and seemed to be in some difficulty, using his wings to maintain his hold on the branch. Eventually he managed to gain a better footing.

We rang Cristina to bring her super-duper camera, with its amazing zoom. I myself only managed a couple of shots before my battery gave out! Meanwhile, the bird seemed to be watching us with equally strong fascination!

We also rang Robbie from Parks and Wildlife, and he came quickly with a long net, hoping to snare the bird, and have it checked out by the vet. However, as the net approached the creature, it spread its wings and flew to the branch of a nearby pine tree, too high up to be reached. It was, nevertheless, encouraging to know that it was still able to fly.

Eventually the boobook flew back into the bush. we hope he will be okay. Meanwhile we are delighted and amazed by this opportunity to view him at close quarters in broad daylight.

Saturday, April 21, 2007


When William was just a little bump on Kim's tummy, she asked me if I would be able to make a quilt for him. I readily agreed, but warned her that it would not be a "pretty" heirloom type quilt for a sanitised, pastel nursery. What I wanted to make was something colourful. Something that could go on the floor for him to kick and roll about on. Something that he could wrap around himself on the couch.Something that he could look at and discover things that would fascinate and delight him. A quilt that he could play with. A quilt that would perhaps get grubby and need to be thrown into the washing machine fairly often.

Over Christmas, when I should have been making a serious start on the project, most of my stash and sewing equipment was put away, to make room for the McRitchies, who were living upstairs. Even after they had moved over to Fletcher Christian, life seemed to be busy, and I kept putting off searching for just the right fabrics for the quilt.

But William's arrival on March 24th gave me fresh last I knew the little man I was making it for!! I set about gathering together my most colourful "I Spy" type fabrics. They all came from my existing stash, except for a cheerful yellow print, which I bought mainly for the border. I also planned to scatter small pieces of it throughout the quilt, to help it harmonise with the more neutral colour scheme of the nursery.

Next, I made sure I had the right pictures to include, and printed off photos of familiar things onto specially treated fabric. There were pictures of William, his Mummy and Daddy, his four grandparents, his house, and of course, all the pets around Devon, who will no doubt play a large part in his life.

It did not really take me long to put it together, once I started, and I was wondering why I had put it off for so long!!
Having made the final stitches late last night, we made the grand presentation at the family breakfast this morning. William got to try it out for the first time. There were ooh's and aaah's from everyone, and as for William, well for now he finds the whole thing a bit of a yawn!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

FAMILY, FOOD AND FUN Tina, Muriel, Helen and Roy

We seem to have a lot of family on the island at the moment, so what better excuse for a Fish Fry and get-together at Devon? We ended up having 20 of us here at Devon last night, right down to young William, just on the verge of celebrating his 3 weeks birthday!
My sister Sally and Roy (Tina's Mum and Dad) had arrived from Sydney that day, along with grandson 10 year old Nic...and Teddy and Sienna were extremely excited to see their Granny, Poppa and cousin. Bernie's cousin Muriel and George are here for a couple of weeks, staying with Bernie's brother Len and Helen, and they all came along. Then there were Karen and John, Kim's parents, who have come over for a fortnight to get to know their first grandchild William. And as usual, all the animals from Devon and Devonside, as well as Peter's dog were there you can add 3 dogs and 3 cats to the number of guests!
Nic asnd Sally

John cooked the fish.....trumpeter and red snapper..... some of which he had caught last weekend. The rest had been generously given to Tina and Brandt by Fletcher Christian guests at who had been out on tourist fishing trips. There were loads of salads and island dishes, including pilhi made with plun (bananas) grown by Charles over at the Pitcairn Settlers' Village. The we finished off with porpay (cherry guavas) gathered and chopped by Tina and Sally, watermelon (grown by Peter) and rockmelon (from Len's garden.)
For some, it was the first time they had seen the newest member of the family, so there were plenty of cuddles...and more gift unwrapping! Not to be outdone, Basil and Digby demanded their share of the laps.
Karen and Basil enjoy a cuddle, Roy and Len share a joke, and Muriel and George relax aftyer licking the platter clean!

John Mason catches up on the footie scores, Sienna is the life of the party as always, and William (in his All Blacks cap and mittens)enjoys his dinner from Mum.

Don't we have a lot to be thankful for?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


There has been a bit of a knitting marathon going on just lately.

May heard about a project to knit vests for AIDS babies in she obtained the pattern and got busy. This was in spite of the fact that May and George have recently had their home dismantled (literally) around them, and have been forced into temporary accommodation in two tiny adjoining flats some distance from the church where George is the Pastor.
May tackles everything with enthusiasm, and has a prolific output, whatever she turns her busy hands to. She produces an individual quilt/rug for every baby born on the island, and in between other projects, she tackles the large number of unfinished quilting and embroidery projects that her lovely daughter left behind when she died a few years ago..a somewhat bittersweet task for May.

But just now it is the knitting that occupies much of May's time and attention. When her wool supplies begasn to run out, she thought she may take a break, but donations of fresh wool supplies meant that she returned to the project with renewed vigour!

Meanwhile, Annette has joined in, mainly using the copious supplies of carpet wool that Joy gave her. Annette's mother Audrey(who is 90), and Ina and Jillian from Rocky Point, have also produced some very colourful additions to the pile.

Not being much of a knitter myself (the counting bit gets to me!) I was delighted to find this jumper in the Op Shop. I do not actually know anyone skinny or free spirited or cold enough to wear such a garment, so I thought it had great potential for unravelling. The idea was to produce some splashes of colour to go with the neutral wool that Annette is working with. The deconstruction process has taken longer than I bargained for, because the seams have been sewn with two lines of close machine stitching and overlocking. Nevertheless, some of it has already been transformed into some colourful stripes that should please a little African baby.

The first batch of some 30 vests has already been sent away, to join the 56 000 that have already been sent to Swaziland. Downunder ladies are very generous with their time and skills!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


A little after midnight last night, there was some excitement at "Devon", with Bernie and our friends Tom and David all holding phones to their ears, as we all held our breath. They were bidding on a desk which was being auctioned on the other side of the world, in the town of Itchen Stoke near Winchester, England. Finally the cry came "We got it!" as the price rose to their agreed maximum, and they were, incredibly, now the only ones in the race!
The story begins with an email circulating the island on Saturday, from a gentleman in England who was putting the desk up for auction. It was from the estate of his mother-in-law, who died last year. The desk had once belonged to Bishop John Coleridge Patteson, the first Bishop of Melanesia, and had been made for him from Norfolk and New Zealand timbers, for his study here on Norfolk Island, when the Melanesian Mission had its headquarters here in the latter part of the 19th century.

The owner was anxious that the desk should go to an appropriate home, hence the advice about the upcoming auction.

When we heard about it, we decided it should definitely come home to Norfolk Island. Time was of the essence, and we hastily contacted the firm of auctioneers, with emails flying back and forth, I think the auctioneers were a little surprised that we apparently had an old photo of the desk, probably taken before 1871, when the Bishop was martyred in the Solomons.

John Coleridge Patteson had been a prominent figure in trying to stop the "blackbirding" going on at this time, whereby young island boys were enticed or forced to travel away from their island homes to provide cheap labour in places likw Queensland. Ironically, Patteson met his death when he was ironically mistaken for a "blackbirder" on the island of Nukapu, from where five boys had recently been taken. St Barnabas' Chapel on Norfolk Island was built as a memorial to him, fulfilling a long-held dream he had spoken about previously.

Patteson had left the desk to his cousin in England, the well-known Victorian novelist Charlotte Yonge. Because of this connection, as well as the Patteson connection, the auctioneers warned us that there was a great deal of interest in the item in England and in Australasia, which would no doubt push the price up well beyond the pre-auction estimate of 800-1000 pounds for a desk of that size, style and vintage. Regrettably, in spite of the owner's intentions, it would probably go to the highest bidder.

The owner has told us when we contacted him, that the desk was given to his mother-in-law about 45 years ago by a patient whom she had nursed, but he knew little else. However, the provenance was well-documented by the following.

An old fragmented hand written note to the centre drawer lining records;

‘‘….entirely by his own carpenter who worked building fathers house in 1866, went down with Bp Patteson to N.I., and has been with ….. off and on ever since. The top and parts of the drawers are of yew and mottled Kauri. The sides are made from a log of Cedar which John Adams found on Philip Island. The top was inlaid by my fathers old Captain, Champion who now …… on Norfolk Island and who took infinite pains with it.
In a different hand
Made in Norfolk.
Received May 188.. from the Bishop of Melanesia. Chl Jonge. (signed in her hand)

This is one of the photos of the desk sent to us by the firm of auctioneers.

We are told it is 2 - 3 times heavier than a normal desk of this size! But it will be so good to see it come home, to a building that is on the same site as the original Bishop's house here on Norfolk Island.
Related Posts with Thumbnails