Saturday, November 20, 2010


Hands at work.

The Gentle Art of Stitching.

For the last two years, a dedicated little band of ladies on Norfolk Island have organised a "QuiltNorfolk event in October.
The word is put out all over Australia and New Zealand, and quilters are invited to come to Norfolk Island for a week to enjoy what the island has to offer, and to take part in workshops related to their craft. Visiting tutors are invited from both countries, and there is a whole range of activities available. Sightseeing and get-together dinners add to the experience, and mid-week, there is a quilt exhibition featuring the work of both local and visiting quilters.

This year I was asked if I would like to participate as a tutor.
I thought about it and said yes, as long as the numbers were kept to about a dozen and I could do it in our covered patio at home.

I decided to do a Crazy Patchwork workshop, where the participants would make either a small Christmas stocking or a hanging heart. I thought both were projects that were easily achievable in a couple of days - and so they turned out to be. In fact, several went on to a second project, such as the little patchwork chickens they had seen in my display.

It turned out to be a lovely two days. We all felt very peaceful, stitching away.
I told the group right from the start that I did not really like the word workshop. I wanted them to think of it as a "playgroup", and that there were no rules, and that they were to follow their own dreams and visions and colour preferences.

I said that most "mistakes" could be covered up without unpicking, and may be opportunities to try something new.

I had put out baskets of scraps and embellishments, and containers of buttons (from my stash - I can well spare it, In fact, I really need help in actually using just a small fraction!) I also had a fair bit of "eye candy" and books on display in case anyone needed inspiration.

I cannot mention the workshop without mentioning Basil. He went from lap to lap. Fortunately most quilters are cat lovers.

The vibes were really good, and everyone seemed relaxed and engaged.

Everyone's bits and pieces covered the tables - fabrics, laces, beads, threads, ribbons, buttons, needles and pins....

Refreshments were "on tap" to help the concentration and relaxation!

Even a couple of partners enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere when they came to collect their wives.

I was really delighted that many people actually finished their projects, and moved on to another one of their own choice. They were all so motivated, and that is really satisfying for a tutor!

I was not surprised when Rowena, the organiser of "QuiltNorfolk" said the feedback was really good. I was really encouraged, even flattered when she described me in the newspaper article as the local guru"anything is possible" Mary Christian-Bailey. Because "Quilt Police" are banned from my place. Everyone deserves the opportunity to get in touch with their own "Muse." The point is to enjoy what you are doing, and to get personal satisfaction from your own creativity, without worrying about the expectation of others. That way you are more likely to give pleasure to others, and encourage them to work with hands and heart in a fulfilling way.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Today is one of those lovely milstones.
When you stand in the church on your wedding day and make your promises to one another, you never dream about the day when you will look back over the decades and think about what it has meant to you!
It is 40 years for Bernie and me today.
Goodness, I have been married for nine years longer than my parents were before my father died - and I thought they had been married forever!!!
First thing this morning, Bernie gave me this lovely ruby on a chain to mark the occasion.

I am not wearing it yet. I need help to take off the amethyst that I have been wearing non-stop around my neck since our 30th. Our eyesight is not good enough, or our fingers agile enough to manage the small clasps!
We re-affirmed our promises in church this morning during the normal service. That was very important to us. I am so glad we decided to do it. It is really important to think about those promises.
Our Chaplain read from 1 Corinthians 13 - but he substituted our names for the word "Love."  Try doing it. That is a very challenging yardstick to measure your life by!
Tonight we will have dinner with the immediate family at a local restaurant.
We will continue to give thanks to God for bringing us together all those years ago!

Glad to say our love hasn't faded like these photos!

Saturday, November 13, 2010


It was one of those beautiful days on Norfolk Island. One of those days when you do not envy any other person in the whole world, because you know you live in a beautiful place, with beautiful people, with a proud history and a rich heritage.

In recent years years, we have built up strong links with our Bounty Descendant cousins in Tahiti. They have been urging the Norfolk Islanders to build some outrigger canoes (known as "Wa'a"). These are used a great deal in the Pacific/Polynesian islands for get-togethers, sport and competition. Leslie, who is Sylvia's son, sent plans from Tahiti, and the first Norfolk Island "Wa'a" was ready to launch on Sunday.

George (Tihoti) Barff carried out the appropriate Tahitian blessing.

He called on the Wind and the sea and the elements to protect the vessel and those who sailed in her.

George and Pauline's daughter Mauatua (named for Fletcher Christian's Tahitian wife) assisted with the ceremony.

Our lovely locals were there with ukeleles and guitars, to add some lovely island harmonies and songs to the occasion.
And the young ones showed us some beautiful Tahitian dancing.

Finally it was time to carry the canoe down to the shore.

I should mention that we had asked Sylvia in Tahiti if she had a Tahitian name, so we could name the wa'a after her. She said that she did not, but asked if we would name the canoe "Tefauroa", which is the Tahitian name for Point Venus, where the Bounty had anchored.

The dancing moved to the beach.

It was such a balmy afternoon, everyone, young and old, were enjoying the occasion.

Everyone was invited to take a turn around Emily Bay on the wa'a.

Some of the kids sailed a smaller scale canoe.

Eventually the breeze became cooler, and we decided it may be time to go home. But it will remain in our memories as a very special afternoon. The second canoe will be underway soon!


Thursday, November 11, 2010


So what is happening on the Devon front lawn now? 
 Guava stakes have been set in place on rows.
Then miles of black plastic is being fixed to them. 
 Yes, it is Halloween time again, and Charles and Kim don't do things by halves, as you know. Our front lawn has been turned into a maze!
 This is what it looks like from upstairs.
 And here are just a few of the things to scare you inside.

 The preparations actually went on for two whole weeks, and a lot of Charles' staff from the shed were involved too. The word had got around the island that "Devon" was again well worth a visit on Halloween night, and they came in their hundreds. Fortunately, after being tricked and scared in the maze, most forgot completely about "treats". But there was an enormous bowl of coloured sugar popcorn (produced by Mal) at the Maze entrance.

A great deal of screaming emerged from the maze. But it couldn't have been too terrifying - most of the kids (and several adults) went through a number of times, and actually wore a track in the grass!!. 
 Baby Nate slept through it all. But big brother William was right into the spirit of things this year!

Everytime we thought  there would be no more kids to come, the "workers" stopped for a drink and a sausage. Then more would keep arriving, some on return visits!
 The fun kept going right through the evening.
 But at last we could all relax. So much work just for two or three hours! But the Maniac's Maze provided a heap of enjoyment to a whole lot of island families - and that's what it is all about, isn't it?

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