Sunday, August 31, 2008


This is a great time of year for birthdays. Our grandaughter Sarah in New Zealand had hers on Friday, and Saturday was Peter's. He had come home from Queenslamd for a few days to celebrate.

Saturday was also Vanuatu George's birthday, and he invited us all to a Melanesian-style hangi round at Bounty Lodge.

The food was just beautiful, and the company most enjoyable.
The meats and vegetables, fresh from the ground oven, were succulent and
tender .
As we all sat round the fire feeling full and contented, we agreed that "life doesn't get any better than this!"


Our son Peter and daughter-in-law Kim are just 6 days apart in age. This called for a double celebration, so we decided on a Fish Fry at Devon on Wednesday evening.

John takes charge of the cooking of the fish.

There were about 25 adults and a dozen kids, and they all had a ball, as the pictures will show!

Kim is the perfect hostess, while Peter enjoys entertaining nephew William.

The fish is cooked to perfection!

The plates are licked clean - but there is plenty more.

Ice cream alongside toys on the dining table - signs of a good family party!I think Ben enjoyed his sweets!And Teddy and Will had a good feed too!Colouring-inn time for a Amy and Sienna.While James, Ben and young William make music.A bit of girlie time inside, with Bec, Ann, Adrienne and Chrissie - and young Will, who has just learned to walk.Benjamin (Just 3, on the same day as Peter), Sienna (2) and William (1) all enjoy a joke.Some enjoyed the kava, but it is not to everyone's taste!!

Anna nurses her young brother, who has

fallen asleep after too much partying!

It all got a bit confusing - there were two Bens, two James, two Williams and a Will - and a Bailey too!

No, we do not spend all our time eating and partying here on Norfolk Island - but we do enjoy an opportunity for friends and family to get together, to enjoy the good things that we have been blessed with on our little island!

Winter is nearly over. We seem to have had a lot of celebrations this month, with several more coming up over the next few weeks. I thought I would share some of them with you.


Earlier in the month we had a visit from Andrew Rosindell M.P., who is the member for Romford, which is in Essex in England. Andrew's electorate also covers part of Greater London. Andrew is a Conservative, and is a Shadow Minister with a special interest in all those places around the world that have at some stage been British territories and colonies. Andrew would like to see the continuation of a strong link of friendship between Britain and these places, and feels Britain has a continuing responsibility to monitor the interests and welfare of the people of these former British outposts, even though there is no longer any actual political or decision-making power.

I found this picture on the net of Andrew and his dog. He looks like a true Tory!

The Pitcairn descendants Society hosted a lunch at Homestead Restaurant for Andrew and his personal assistant Osman Dervish.
Osman, who has a Turkish Cypriot background, is at Uni. and is a member of the young Conservatives. Working with a mentor like Andrew gives him a wonderful foundation in politics and the operation of Government, and he hopes to eventually enter politics himself.Greg and Bernie and Lisle presented Andrew with a panorama picture of Kingston on Millenium Morning.

Andrew presented the Society with a picture of Her Majesty the Queen

Now when I googled Andrew, I discovered that he had actually proposed a motion in the British Parliament to congratulate Winnie-the -Pooh on his eightieth birthday, and suggested that Winnie would definitely have voted Conservative. Now that is my kind of guy!


The White Oaks Day Club has celebrated its birthday after nine successful years of gathering each Thursday morning. in the Parish Centre.

A Game of cards. The lady in the centre, in the dark blue, is Thelma, who is now 101, but does not act her age! She is as agile as someone several decades younger - and plays a tough game of cards.

When the club was first established, there were a few sceptics. Not only are Norfolkers very busy and active people, but they are pretty independent. But thanks to wonderful leadership from Lorraine and other helpers, it has been immensely successful.

Lorraine and Dawn busy with the food in the kitchen

The program consists of morning tea, some exercises, a session called "Memory Lane" to keep the grey matter active, a time for games like cards or Scrabble, and a delicious lunch - all for just 4 dollars.

Andrea always looks forward to Thursdays. Here she is wearing her new jacket, knitted for her by Annette.

Chief Minister Andre and his wife Kim were special visitors for lunch. Bonnie in the foreground, and Thelma in the background. She may be 101, but no one needs to wait on Thelma!

Laughter and reminiscences are the order of the day.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


I was born in a place called Welling in Kent, England. I spent the first seven and a half years of my life there before my family migrated to Australia.

This is me, just newborn, being nursed by my paternal grandmother. Beside her is my sister Sally, who says she wasn't really as happy as she looks about the new arrival. She would rather I had been a new puppy.Behind is my grandfather, and my mother's younger sister (and my godmother) Auntie Rose. I think they are on the back patio, with the peach tree behind.

I have never been back. My father died before he could return for a visit, but my mother made two trips "back home". My sister and her family have visited many times. But I have never returned.

Funnily enough I have gone back many times in my dreams. It is a dream that recurs quite frequently. I find myself back in England, but it is always difficult to locate my former home or my relatives. When I go back to Welling, I often find the streets next to Sutherland Avenue, I am able to go to our small "village" of Blackfen, but rarely am I able to find our former house. Either that, or I run out of time.

One night only did I manage to have a vivid dream about our former house, and it was decorated inside with wonderful Indian carvings and screens. I was puzzled by this dream, until I remembered my sister telling me a while before that if I ever did visit, not to be surprised to find there were a lot of Indian people living in the area, and indeed in our house.

Imgine my delight when I found I could go directly back - in a visual sense - with Google maps and satelllite images.
That is our house directly beneath the red arrow, on the laft side of the duplex. I am amused by the cars parked in the front gardens. I actually do not remember ever travelling in a car as a child in England, except for the very occasional taxi. My father had a motorbike with a sidecar.

There it was - our two storey duplex with the bow windows in the front rooms both upstairs and down.

My parents purchased this house when they married and moved from their former homes on the Isle of Sheppey. It was a pretty standard house for that period of time in the 1930's. I see many versions of this same house, frontage and layout every time I watch British TV. I often find myself with a sense of "deja vu" looking through identical French doors out onto a rear terrace when I am watching "The Bill." Or in "makeover" and the ever-popular real estate programmes I see the identical layout of two living rooms and kitchen downstairs, and two bedrooms, plus a "box room" over the stairs and bathroom upstairs.

I am fascinated by this picture on Google of this very house. The really close up picture is a little fuzzy, but I can see there is now a large shed at the rear of the back garden. When I was a child, we had a tool shed, and an "Anderson shelter", because I was born in war time. The garden looks green and leafy, but I am wondering about the lilac tree, which I was allowed to call my own, or the apple tree, which my sister claimed ownership of. Do the present occupants still grow vegetables, and do they experience the delights of gooseberries, blackcurrants and raspberries? I suppose the little patch of violets near the patio are long gone. I can clearly remember buying them in a pot for my mother, because her second name was Violet.

What wonderful hours we spent in that garden during the summer months. There were only low walls between us and our neighbours. On one side there were the Bishton children - Doris, Gloria and Lesley. On the other side lived Heather Paton, who was more my age.
Here I am in our backgarden. I am wearing a bonnet made by my mother, who made all our clothes, including hats. They look like Easter lilies in the background - we call them November lilies on this side of the world. The sausage curls were produced by wearing rag curlers in my hair at nights!

But when there was no one else to play with, I remember I would look for a hairy caterpillar, and I would nurse it and stroke it - a habit I was probably cured of when we finally acquired "Dinky" the cat. My father had been down to the local Inn (I think it was called "The Prince of Wales") for a "quick half" one evening. He returned home with this cat, His story was that the cat had jumped onto his shoulders from a wall, and he could not make it get down!

My sister took this photo of our old house on one of her visits back to England. This would probably be a good twenty years after we left.
I see that the privet hedge has gone from the front. They have also put in one of those extra sets of front doors, creating one of those "insulation airlocks" that stop the cold air rushing into your hallway. The front door evokes more memories. At nights, I loved to sit on the floor and look at the patterns created by the light of the street lamps through the frosted glass. I wonder if ther is still a coal cellar along the side path? Or are the fireplaces now only decorative?

The front room was somewhat formal, and not used by us much as a family. But I do remember us gathering in there at Christmas time. One time my grandparents came to stay with us, and my grandfather died while they were with us. He was laid out in that front room. On another occasion, I can recall the windows of this room being plastered with posters. We had hired it out as "committee rooms" for a local branch of a political party.

Under the stairs was a cupboard. I was given some shelf space to store my sweets rations, purchased from a little shop on the way to the village on Saturday mornings. I would set out some sweets in groups for each day of the week. On Saturday I would eat the allowance for that day, plus a little nibble of Sunday's. The next day I would eat the rest of that day's allowance, plus some of Monday's. Needless to say the supply ran out well before Friday. But there was a time when I remember being frightened of that cupboard, because that was where Mum kept the Hoover. To this very day I am a little uneasy around vacuum cleaners!

My sister and I shared the back bedroom, but later she moved into the small room over the stairs. I cannot understand how so many British people put up with always having to go upstairs to the toilet in the day time. Our little bathroom was cold, and in winter we lit the cylindrical "Valor" stove to warm it One time a visiting uncle from Australia accidentally sat on it, and probably had this lovely fretwork pattern on his buttocks!

The back living room was where we ate, and read and listened to the radio. It had a fireplace and a mantel radio, and a view of the back garden. English people love to do their own "decorating" and I have memories of my mother wallpapering that room, and attaching a "frieze" in autumn colours. She varnished the mantelpiece and fireplace surrounds, and I was instructed to make patterns in it like woodgrain with something pointed - I cannot recall what it was.

As a child I suffered a great deal of bronchitis, and was often tucked up in one of the armchairs to sleep by the fire rather than go to the colder rooms upstairs. My parents became tired of this regime, and decided to migrate to warmer climes "downunder."

And so in February 1951, we said goodbye to number 63.

But I cannot help thinking - isn't it wondeful that, thanks to the Internet, I can go back and visit places that I have not been able to re-visit in my wildest dreams??

Friday, August 15, 2008


John has recently completed a dining table, which was commissioned by a local family.

The table has been fashioned from timber from the African Olive.

An introduced species, the African Olive, also known as the Wild Olive, grows prolifically on this island. It bears a true olive fruit, but the berries are small and quite uninteresting to humans, and I doubt that anyone has ever seriously attempted to collect or process them.

The birds, however, do appreciate them, which is why they spring up everywhere.

The Olive is generally regarded as a pest or a weed for this reason.

I do not think that many people have ever tried to fashion furniture and larger items from the timber. One reason would be that the timber is extremely hard and dense, and therefore is more time-consuming to work with. Charles describes it as an "angry" timber. But John tells me that it is, in fact, hard to find a tree that is big and old enough to recover useful planks for tables and other larger items.

This old olive by Charles fence has been severely cut back to a stump and is now sending out new shoots.

Therein lies the irony!!

Because it is an introduced "weed". we are quite happy to bulldoze or clear large stands of wild olive in order to keep our land "clean."

There is an added incentive to cut them down, because the timber actually provides wonderful firewood, burning cleanly and with great warmth. It has also been used quite a lot for fenceposts in the past.

John thinks the tree used for the table was probably about 60 years old, judging by the growth rings, and was a valuable find.

Just look at this magnificent grain. And the rich warm colour.

We hope that Poppa, Melissa and the boys enjoy many happy family meals around their table. It is certainly destined to become an heirloom!

Saturday, August 09, 2008


Viewing the cruise ship yesterday brought back memories of the visit of another ship some 34 years ago, with some very important visitors aboard.

On February 10th 1974, the Royal Yacht Britannia came to Norfolk Island, after visiting Christchurch, New Zealand, for the Commonwealth Games.
On board were Her Majesty the Queen and thhe Duke of Edinburgh, Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips (on their honeymoon) and Lord Louis Mountbatten.

There had been a great deal of excitement and planning for this visit, even though the it was only to take place for one day. As the then President of the Historical Society, Bernie had been involved in the planning, and was to have the honour of showing the Royal Visitors around the Kingston area for an hour or two. It would not happen nowadays - someone far more "official" would have that privilege. A "picnic" was planned, to be held under the trees at our clifftop property "Simon's Water" on the northeast coast of the island. A great deal of sprucing up had been undertaken, including a new fence, mowing and clearing, and moving the cattle and horses to a back paddock!!

When the day dawned, it was obvious that the weather was not going to be kind to us. The seas were so stormy that there was some doubt as to whether the Royal party could be brought ashore.

The venue for the picnic had to be changed - the mud alone would have made it impossible for everyone to descend on Simon's Water, at the end of an unsealed road!

Everything was up in the air, but during the morning, while plans and arrangements were rapidly changing from one minute to the next, there was a sudden break in the weather and the Royal visitors decided to come ashore - and no one was quite ready.

They were transported in the Government launch, with "Ukoo" at the helm. The Royal party travels from the Britannia to the island via the Government launch.

When they arrived at the wharf, the seas were still choppy, and there was the problem of getting from the rocking boat onto the wet and slippery steps. Ukoo will be the only man to go down in history as having instructed the Queen "When I say jump, you jump!"
The Royal party arrives at the pier in wet and slippery conditions.
I could tell you many stories about that day - and yes, although I did not spend the time with the Royal party that Bernie did, I did meet the Queen, and also Captain Mark Phillips. I actually met the Duke of Edinburgh on another occasion. Meanwhile, Bernie was to travel in the car with Her Majesty and Prince Phillip, showing them round All Saints' Church, the newly restored house no.5 Quality Row, and accompanying them for the opening of the newly restored Golf Club building and the Queen Elizabeth Lookout.These are the only pictures I seem to have of me with the Queen (although you can hardly see her here). The Administrator is presenting me and Bernie to her. I an wearing the aprcot coloured dress and white hat. My mother is standing behind nursing Charles and you can just pick out Miriam (2 at the time) between me and Bernie. Miriam insisted on turning her back on her Majesty. I was fairly heavily pregnant with John, and had been worrying about curtseying!

When we were first presented to Her Majesty, she was told that a picnic had originally been planned for her at our farm at Simon's Water. I have this very distinct memory of her saying "Oh - just love picnics!"

Part of the itinerary for that morning was opening a new lookout, to be called the "Queen Elizabeth Lookout." This is the vantage point from which we viewed the cruise ship yesterday.

In those days, one actually had to climb some steps to reach this lookout. Since then there have been major changes to this road (Rooty Hil Road) and the lookout is now at road level, with a beautiful view of our magnificent Kingston area, the bays and the reef, the offshore islands, the Kingston Common, and the graceful penal settlement buildings
This picture (from the Australian Women's Weekly) shows the Royal Visitors at the newly-opened Queen Elizabeth lookout. Bernie is just behind the Queen, who is making her way down the ramp. He is partly obscured by the island's Administrator. The man nearest to the camera, with his back to us, is Bill Heseltine. An Australian, he was the Queen's personal secretary for many years. The lady on his left was a lady-in-waiting.

In this picture, Bernie is standing next to Her Majesty. Lord Louis Mountbatten is on the other side of her, and Prince Phillip behind. Princess Anne and Mark Phillips are in front.

My pictures are old. A couple of them are actually from the Women's Weekly article about the Queen's visit to this island. I should point out that this took place in the days when security was far more relaxed. A few months later, there was a kidnap attempt on Princess Anne, and things began to change. But this visit was relaxed and relatively informal by today's standards! The picnic was finally held in Government House grounds. Afterwards there was an open-air concert. The dinner that had been planned for that evening in Government House was cancelled, because the weather was turning bad again, and it was decided that the special visitors should return to the Britannia before the sea became too rough.

Forgive me for a little bit of "bragging." But these are such special memories. Sometimes I find it hard to believe it happened so long ago - and other times I find it hard to believe it happened at all!!
I have quite a fund of stories - and more photos - of that wonderful day. I will share them with you at some stage!

There was a bit of a buzz round the island yesterday, as word had gone round that the cruise ship "Pacific Sun" was to pass the island during the afternoon. Cars gathered at different vantage points in order to get a good view. These pictures are taken from Queen Elizabeth Lookout, which overlooks Kingston and the penal settlement area.
The Pacific Sun passes between our two offshore islands - Philip and Nepean

I think you will agree that cruise ships do not have the graceful lines of the old Cruise liners, and are more like floating hotels. However, I am sure the levels of luxury and comfort are still there!

Because we do not yet have a harbour here, it is not often that a Cruise ship will actually stop for passengers to be ferried ashore. They need to be brought ashore in small boats, and for a shipload of people, that is often not practical!!
However, on this occasion, a two way radio communication was set up so that Andre Nobbs, our Chief Minister, was able to speak to the passengers aboard the ship. Hopefully he will have whetted their appetites for a return visit to the island some time, this time by plane, to stay for a few days!

Now all of this has set off a trail of nostalgic memories of the visit of another more famous liner many years ago - and a strong connection with this very lookout.

More about that in the next post!!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

I have reached the age where birthdays are not necessarily a milestone one looks forward to. Nevertheless, however hard one pretends to ignore them, they still have a habit of being enjoyable occasions, and the acknowledgements from friends and family are welcome and heartwarming.

The family went to the recently re-opened restaurant at Hillcrest on Wednesday evening for my birthday. We made it an early start because it was important to include the children.
Balloons always make the occasion festive!

And the little ones had a ball. Tina and Kim had planned some special distractions so they did not have to sit up politely at the dinner table all the time. William had been a bit out of sorts when he first came, but soon brightened up when he realised he would have Sienna and Teddy for company.

Even the big kids got down on the floor to join in!

The meal was very enjoyable, but I was quite overwhelmed when the kitchen and waiting staff appeared from the kitchen, singing "Happy Birthday" (two verses) and carrying a gorgeous big chocolate cake.

The birthday had lovely coloured candles - even the flames were coloured!

William certainly enjoyed the cake!

As we got ready to come home, I discovered why Teddy and Sienna had been so excited about a great-aunt's birthday party, and why they had showered me with such attention. I was just about to get up and gather my gifts and bag, when Teddy came up and said:
"Auntie Mary, haven't you forgotten something?"

"What have I forgotten Teddy?"

"Where are the lolly bags for us all to take home?"

I must remember that next year!!!!

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