Monday, June 28, 2010

(and a little Liberty)
My last posting about the seaside arose from the fact that I needed to find a picture of me and my mother together for this month's page for our StitchingTogether Round Robin. "Mother and Me" is the theme chosen by Melissa from New Zealand.

In this picture, my mother and I were obviously sharing a joke - or she was very amused by my antics. I am sure the drink in that bottle was not alcoholic!
To make this page, I used a background print in my mother's typical "shabby chic" colours. Then I overlaid strips of dress pattern tissue, representing all those years that my mother made my clothes, and many hours spent poring over dress pattern books in David Jones and Farmers!

Now the tiny suffolk puffs that border the photo at the bottom left are a reminder of the quilt that my mother made for me using the good fabric that was left from our sheets in the early years of "Fletcher Christian Apartments."  

My sister had inherited a similar quilt made by our great-aunt Sally, and I was a little envious ! 
It was a task Aunt Sally performed over a long period of time.  Worn sheets were first turned with the outside seams in the middle, and finally, when they were beyond repair, the fabric that was still sound was turned into these gathered circles. The quilt was still incomplete when she was quite old, and reluctantly she purchased one-eighth of a yard of sheeting to complete it!

In this picture, the two quilts are both shown together. Aunt Sally's is  a little daintier, having been made with smaller circles.

The quilt in between is a "military quilt, and was made by  great-great uncle, William Fist - Aunt Sally's uncle, in fact, out of 1/2 squares of the fabric from his military uniforms. It has over 5000 pieces, sewn by hand with a backstitch. On top of Aunt Sally's quilt (on the left) is a crazy patchworked cushion, also made by the same lady. She used to make them for all the family, and this one also belongs to my sister.

The small suffolk puffs in the picture at the top, made for our Round Robin, have been made using Liberty lawn, because it is very fine and lends itself to tiny projects.

And while on the subject, I wrote a blog about Liberty fabric recently. Since then, my sister has reminded me of something that had disappeared from my conscious memory. As children we both wore dresses from Liberty fabric. They were hand-me-downs from the neighbours, who had two girls, each a little older than my sister and me. That may account for the fact that I love it so much.

I wrote of how I had been trying to "use up" some of my Liberty pieces, by making the batch of handkerchiefs. Well, believe it or not, I have since been given a whole lot more. There are large quantities of dressmaking remnants, and several large lengths. They came from someone who did dressmaking for a lady who would only wear Liberty fabric!!

I am in Liberty heaven - and have had to give up on the idea of ever using it all up!!!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

In this part of the world, especially if you live near the coast, going to the beach is a commonplace activity, and you will go there because you want to swim, cool off, surf, or perhaps have a beach picnic or barbecue.
In England, where I lived until I was 7, a trip to the seaside seemed something quite different. It was like a ritual, an outing, a holiday celebration, an opportunity to escape from the routine and hundrum of daily life and work. And one did not go to the beach - you went to the seaside!!
Where we lived was not an enormous distance from the sea, but lacking a car, our contact with the ocean was generally restricted to holiday times. I do recall one time when we took a day trip to Bognor, a popular seaside resort on the south coast of England. My mother and I travelled in a coach, while my father followed behind the bus, with my sister in his sidecar.I also have memories of a coach trip to Broadstairs for a Sunday School picnic outing.

My mother had a brother, Albert, who lived with his wife Ivy and daughter Joy at Folkestone.

In my uncle's backyard with my sister and some cousins. Note the bomb shelter.

It become our favourite holiday venue.Their narrow three story terrace was only an easy walk from the sea and sand. There were piers from which boats left for France, and the French coast was clearly visible.

As you can see in this picture, English beaches were filled with deck chairs, which could be hired for a reasonable price. I have seen pictures of people sitting in deckchairs in suits and ties. Sometimes the trousers would be rolled up a little in order to have a paddle. Just being on the sand, or beside the sea was a healing and therapeutic experience, and British seaside resorts used to have hundreds of little hotels and boarding houses and Bed and breakfast establishments to cater for those who went there for annual holidays, or for a weekend, or for a public holiday. There was far more involved than swimming or surfing. Like many other seaside resorts, Folkestone had many other attractions and entertainments for the beachgoers. There would be souvenir shops and teahouses. And every seaside place used to sell its own "rock". This was a roll of pink and white peppermint candy (taffy style) with the name of the town embedded right through the length of the rock.
At Folkestone, they would set up a Punch and Judy puppet theatre on the sand each day, and I used to love it when the puppeteer emerged from the canvas at the end and call me a "Silly Old Sausage" - a term that became an important part of our family vocabulary.
There was a mini- zoo nearby, and you could take donkey rides along the beach. There was a type of funfair area, and I have strong memories of placing a penny on Number 7 in a type of Roulette game - and winning!!! Amusement Parks were common at the seaside, and some of the larger towns, like Brighton, had enormous pleasure piers with all sorts of fun attractions and shops.


We wore home made swimming costumes (often made with shirring elastic) and rather heavy rubber bathing caps with straps that went under the chin. These caps did double duty, because at the end of the day, they would often be used to hold the winkles (periwinkles) that we liked to collect before going home. At Folkestone I recall, one could also purchase a saucer of winkles, all ready removed from their shells, and served with salt and vinegar, for sixpence. Here on Norfolk Island we also gather and eat periwinkles (known as hi-his). The flavour is the same, but they seem much tougher than the English ones.
Now one of my best memories of these times are the family games. There would be the usual sandcastles, and burying each other up to the nexk in the sand. Sometimes my father would lie back on the sand, and lift his feet. I would stand on the soles of his feet, and hold his hands. Then he would slowly raise his legs, and once I felt steady and balanced, I would let go of his hands, and stand up there high in the air!!

Here is a picture of my Nana at Folkestone. I am not sure about the origin of the arches. I have seen them in pictures of other British beaches. We used them as shelters. Two of these shelters had steps leading from the promenade above, and it was always an exciting exercise for me to guess which ones had the stairs!
Further along from this part of the beach, the cliff was steeper, and there was a type of cable car whuch carried people down to the sand below. Trips to Folkestone often included visits to Dover Castle around the point, or to the lovely miniature railway at Dymchurch.

Now I thought I would show you a picture of this same Nana taken some years before, with my grandfather, when they lived in Hong Kong in the 1930's. Just look at that early form of Li-lo!! And those hills would be crowded with buildings and high-rises today!!

We were very fortunate, because most of our other relatives lived on the Isle of Sheppey, where there were a number of beaches.
The beach at Sheerness was a shingle beach, as you can see in this picture taken with some aunts and cousins. (More deck chairs!) The stones were somewhat uncomfortable to walk on, so we always wore "plimsolls" (sandshoes) even in the water. The beach here was divided into sections with timber fences - presumably to slow down the erosion of the sand in king tides. They were a great place to gather winkles.
Sheerness also had an enormous amusement park area above the beach, with all sorts of attractions.
It had been a great naval dockyard area in the past, and the great Admiral Nelson had lived there. In fact, one of my uncles lived in the former home of Nelson's paymaster.
During World War 2, an American boat, the Richard Montgomery, had been sunk just out from the beach, and part of the masts were still visible above the water.
 Boats used to take sightseers out around the wreck. One time, I went in the boat with my sister and older cousin Peter. When we returned to the shore, Peter and Sally tried to convince this gullible little girl that we had landed in France! I have since learned that this wrecked boat contains enough undetonated ammunition to set off the biggest non-nuclear explosion the world has known!
When we migrated to Australia, our family continued to enjoy time spent at the beach, and now we had a car to take us in the weekend, or even in the early evening in the summer. Our beach of choice was Coogee. Funnily enough, I never became a strong swimmer, but I do treasure great family times spent with the sand and the sea.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The really big and special day of the year on Norfolk Island is Bounty Day, or Anniversary Day as it is sometimes called. This is on June 8th, and it is the day when we commemorate and re-enact the landing of 193 of our forbears when they arrived from Pitcairn in 1856.
On Tuesday morning Charles and William came up early in their Bounty dress-up gear. The little fellow had a bit if a tumble and is not too happy in this picture.

But you can't keep him down for long, and he soon cheered up!


Meanwhile, out at Buck's Point, the McRitchie kids had been very excited getting ready for the best day of the year. It was little Jasper's very first Bounty Day!!


Everyone gathered down  at the Pier at Kingston, and got ready for the march. It is a fairly long walk, and Dad's shoulders come in handy!

All the Pitcairn style Bounty hats are brought out and worn with pride by young and old.

One great tradition on Bounty Day is rolling down the hill after the morning tea at Government House.


For the past few years, we have "picnicked" at home, and invite family and friends and workmates (and their friends and family) to join us. It is all about sharing and togetherness. Nearly ninety people turned up at Devon to celebrate with us.

We were well prepared with tables and chairs, but we did need to find a fifth large table for all the food people brought!

Baby Caleb is not ready for Bounty food yet.

But Anna, Amy, Leilani and Will were enjoying their lunch!

And Cameron lets his Dad know what he wants for sweets.

After lunch some of the littlies thought they would shake it all down on the Jumping Castle.
And the sandpit, first put in place for William's birthday in March, was well used.

One of the best parts of Bounty Day for me is to see the kids enjoy being with each other, and entertaining themselves in the old-fashioned way, without TV, computers and electronic games.

All sorts of equipment came out - bats, balls, skipping ropes, and these things in the picture, which are evidently less menacing than they look!

At one stage, a ball became wedged right at the top of a very tall palm tree. Someone found some blades, which were attached to Joel's shoes with lengths of string.

Joel's job was to first remove the tin rat-guard so someone could climb above it.

Then Darren attempted to reach the top. He was unsuccessful, but it was a good try!

And it was great entertainment for everyone.

Then Ernie - shown at the left of the picture above - did what is second nature for someone from Fiji, and shinned up the tree quite effortlessly to retrieve the ball - but I missed getting a picture.

Now the kids decided to use the rope for skipping, and even some grown-ups joined in.

Meanwhile, in the dining room, Rob entertained lots of us with his skillful playing on our piano. Rob and Renee are on their third visit from Townsville, and are both fine musicians. Rob has been delighting us by playing our beautiful church organ for us.

It was well after fivethat the last people left. By then it was getting dark and rather cool. We were so appreciative of all the people who helped wash-up and clean-up.

In the evening was our famous "Bounty Ball".
Schoolchildren open the Ball with the singing of traditional Norfolk/Pitcairn songs.

The children have been practising their dancing for weeks. There are competitions in age groups, and then they join the adults in the Barn Dance.

But it had been a long day for William, and he was already asleep!

And what a beautiful day it was!

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

If you ask a range of artists, artisans and craftspeople why they make things and create, you would obviously get a whole range of replies.
Most of the answers would probably have something to do with the personal satisfaction gained from creating. Many would tell you that the process is actually more important than the end product, because it engages a very special part of your being, and can free you from the stresses and pressures of the normal daily routine. Some fortunate and gifted artists may even tell you that they can earn an income from their creations. But most will tell you that other forms of feedback are important too, such as compliments and admiration from others.
One very special project I embarked on about five years ago was the Dragonfly Round Robin.

There was a group of about 6 or 7 of us - most of the others were New Zealand girls, I think. We each created a base piece, and sent it arounds to all the others, with each person adding a dragonfly and other embellishments.I planned my piece in a hexagon shape, a reminder of the "fly's eye". Some of my patches had silhouettes of a dragonfly, using the sunprinting technique.
When the piece eventually returned, it had a wonderful array of dragonflies. I made it into a cushion, using some lovely dragonfly fabric for the frill.
Now the cushion was not really suited to putting in our lounge room along with cats, dogs and small children. I do not usually display preciousness about this sort of thing, because I believe most things are meant to be enjoyed by young and old. But the dragonfly cushion has lots of fiddly little bits and embellishments that would not stand up to normal wear and tear.

So it has remained on a couch in our bedroom ever since. There, I have been able to look at it and take pleasure in it, but no one else. Oh yes, my DH has probably seen it, but I doubt that he has often actually looked at it, if you know what I mean.
So when I put it into a patchwork display at our local Community Arts Exhibition, and Donna admired it, I had no hesitation in telling her I would give it to her. My cushion had found a home where it would be wanted and loved!
Donna's daughter Ashley sent me some photos of it, because I only had one.
Here is the dragonfly cushion in its new home!

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