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Saturday, 12 August 2017

Gazing into space and time: who were these people?

Our Sepia Saturday prompt this week is a cabinet portrait or carte de visite, in which the gentleman is adopting a pose that was quite popular with photographers of the period. The card below shows a lady in a similar leaning pose. It comes courtesy of my distant half cousin Kim in New Zealand. This photo and the others I've included were taken in Christchurch New Zealand by photographers Grand and Dunlop, who operated there from about 1875 to 1887. There is some interesting information about Grand and Dunlop in a blog about early New Zealand photographers
together with a number of their photographs showing subjects in poses very much like the ones I have from Kim. The question of course is, who are they? The only one of the set that we believe we've identified so far is Margaret Nancarrow nee Paterson, who emigrated to NZ in 1861 with her parents and siblings. Two more daughters were born after the family arrived in New Zealand. It could be that the other four photographs are of Margaret's sister Mary Shaw and their three Scots born brothers John, James and Alexander.  If this is the case, the first rather weary looking lady could possibly be their mother Mary Anderson, who was my 2 x great grandmother and would have been in her mid fifties in 1876.  Mary was previously married to another Charles, Charles Forbes, with whom she had already produced five children, the youngest of whom was my great grandfather. I think having borne 12 children would be enough to make anyone look care worn!


Margaret Nancarrow nee Paterson

The problem with my theory as to the identity of the lady above is that I am reliably advised that the photograph below is definitely of Mary Paterson nee Anderson, previously Forbes. So I'm not convinced that this is the same person as in my first photograph above, but whoever that lady was, she matches the prompt. Other Sepians have likely also found matching photographs from a similar time period, as you may discover if you read their posts at Sepia Saturday #380.

My 2x great grandmother, Mary Paterson nee Anderson, born Deskford, Banff, Scotland 1821, died Amberley, Canterbury NZ 1899 

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Down on the farm

I've posted about sheep and goats here and here  in earlier blogs, but I still have a few more farm animal photographs to use in response to the Sepia Saturday prompt for this week. This first photo is from my mother's second photo album that covers the 1940s and is captioned "The Bull and Uncle Bill". I think the bull is on the right of the picture. Uncle Bill was Daniel William Morrison (1877-1956), older brother of my mother Jean's father John Morrison. Bill married Violet and they had seven sons and three daughters. He and his family farmed in the Rai Valley, located in the Marlborough district in the northern part of the South Island of New Zealand. Bill and John's parents migrated from County Cork to new Zealand in 1875 and apparently Bill became known as Billy Ireland, although he was in fact born in New Zealand. I know Jean enjoyed going up from Christchurch to visit her country cousins and their families, but I imagine that as a city girl she would have been wary of getting too close to that bull. 

The next photograph is a little later, and is labelled Holiday at Locksley Downs, Christmas 1951.
My parents were visiting Dad's newly married younger sister Nella and her husband Bert,  who at the time was working as a shearer on this New Zealand sheep station. It shows my father Ian with a friendly lamb,  and a sheep dog beside him keeping a watchful eye on the flock in the distance. Apart from the fact that this is a lamb rather than a goat and that Dad is not in uniform, it is not a bad match for the prompt.  Dad is looking suitably rural and seems to be wearing a vest with an interesting pattern under his shirt. He passed away in 2000 but would have turned 93 this Saturday 5 August. RIP Dad, 1924-2000.

Fast forward to recent times and here are our daughter Laura and myself in 2015 with some calves that she and her husband were raising on their country property near the town of Bunyip in Gippsland Victoria, about an hour away from Melbourne where we live.

And thanks to Laura, here is a very recent photograph of our granddaughter Lucy feeding the next generation of calves, who were born on the property two or three months ago. Little Lucy loves being outside helping with farm tasks!

Click here for more blogs prompted by Sepia Saturday #379

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Underneath the Arches

This week's prompt shows the Taft Bridge in Washington DC. I've been to Washington a couple of times and could well have driven over this bridge, but here's the thing with bridges: you can drive or otherwise travel over them and be totally unaware of the magnificently engineered structure that you are crossing. If you don't have the chance to stop and admire them from a vantage point, you can miss them completely.

 I particularly remember the following two bridges because I was able to view and photograph them from below. The first two photos come from slides that were taken by my 17 year old self in 1969 and show the Mungstener Brucke, a steel rail bridge in the countryside known as the Bergische Land near the town of Solingen in the German state of North Rheine -Westphalia. I was lucky enough to win a 3 month scholarship to travel there and attend school while staying with a local family from December 1969 to March 1970. One day my hostess Frau Felix very kindly took me on a tour of the local sights, including this bridge, which spans the valley of the River Wupper. It was completed in 1897 and at 107 metres is still the highest rail bridge in Germany.


Like the half-timbered black and white houses in England, the romantic old fachwerk houses like the one you can see here in the snowy, frozen landscape framed by the bridge are very common in the Bergische Land. The name of the area comes from the former duchy of Berg. We also visited the reconstructed Burg Castle and the Altenberger Dom, a former medieval abbey. When the time came for me to leave, my hosts held a farewell party and I was presented with a great book of primarily black and white photographs of the Bergische Land, signed by everyone at the party. 

Below is a postcard I brought back and posted in my scrapbook, but of couse I didn't get to see the bridge on a sunny summer's day like this!

The other bridge I can distinctly remember visiting is the Iron Bridge near the town of of Coalbrookdale in Shropshire or Salop as it is sometimes called. This bridge crosses the River Severn and was completed a hundred years earlier in 1771. According to Wikipedia, it was the first major bridge of its kind in the world to be constructed from cast iron. This photograph dates from 1976, and was taken when we were being shown around the district by another lovely lady, Mrs Janet McTaggart. Janet was a third cousin to my grandfather on the Cruickshank side of the family. My parents had met Janet previously and she was only too happy for us to come and renew the family acquaintance. That evening she entertained us at great length with talk of numerous mutual cousins. I wasn't into family history at that stage and had no idea who all these people were, but it did not matter. We enjoyed a very pleasant overnight stay with Janet and her husband Ian in their Telford home and we also met their son Andrew and his wife, with whom we are still in contact.

      A black and white house can be seen through the Iron Bridge too.  We re-visited and walked over this bridge in 2012 but unfortunately I don't seem to have taken another photograph. In 1934 it was designated for pedestrian traffic only, after being declared a National Ancient Monument.  You can read about the interesting history of the Iron Bridge here in Wikipedia.

I'm currently in the city of Brisbane for a few days so to finish, here's a photo I took this morning of the attractive William Jolly Bridge, the second of several bridges that now cross the Brisbane River. It was completed in 1932, just a few days after the Sydney Harbour Bridge and was originally named the Grey Street Bridge, but was renamed in 1955 after the death of Mr William Jolly, who was the Mayor of the city at the time it was built. It was said that Mr Jolly was offered a knighthood but declined because he thought it would interfere too much with his gardening.  The State Library of Queensland web site includes historic photographs of its construction and an excellent essay written by the granddaughter of its builder, Manuel Hornibrook, describing the history and unusual features of the bridge.

This morning at 7 a.m. I participated in Parkrun Southbank, which is a 5 km run crossing a couple of bridges over the Brisbane river and passing by several others. Parkrun is a movement first established in the UK and now has events on many places around the world. You don't have to run, jogging and walking are fine too and it's not a race. I am basically a plodder but I get there in the end!  Recovered now and off to catch the River Cat and see the river and its surrounds  in a more leisurely fashion.

Postscript: Another bridge across the Brisbane river. This is the Story Bridge, lit up at night. It was opened eight years after the William Jolly Bridge.

For more blogs bridging gaps in space and time, go to Sepia Saturday #378

Thursday, 20 July 2017

With the Wind in their Sails

The prompt photo appears to show a family watching a movie while on board. I immediately thought of my sister Louisa and her then husband Danny, who sailed from Darwin Australia to Florida USA in a very small boat back in the early 1980s. I've mentioned this before in an earlier blog post that you can read here and see a photo of Little Boat.

This is a pencil drawing by Danny of 'Little Boat' that Louisa sent us from her sailing days. There's a note on the back:

   " A day of stacking the canvas up. The fish are dorado which always jumped all around . With so little wind the sea was so flat and shining bright blue. I hope Claire and Kim can find a place on a bedroom wall for 'Little Boat', the home of Louise and Danny. ( The spinnaker-come- parachute-come topsail is a purple colour but actually our sails are white. Danny used to have red sails and it was more colourful to draw."        
Dorado are also known as Mahi-Mahi or dolphin fish, perhaps because of their jumping ability.  The framed drawing still hangs on our wall.

Louisa and Danny's first two daughters were subsequently born in the States and the family lived there for several years before investing in a slightly larger boat (36 foot) in which to sail back across the Pacific. In 1986 they were moored in Port Townsend for some time while selling jewellery at a stall in the Pike Place Market in Seattle and both we and my parents Jean and Ian were able to visit them there. Here are a few photos from those visits. No movies or TV aboard their boat. 

     Mother, daughter and granddaughter on deck

 Jean celebrating her 60th birthday onboard.

 Granddaughter Mia showing her Nan how things have to be shipshape below decks.

  I don't have any photos of us on board during our visit, but one of our photos shows Danny rowing to or from the boat to fetch supplies from the dock. One day we all went to Seattle with by car and ferry from Port Angeles, but it was so foggy that we could not even glimpse Seattle's famous landmark, the Space Needle.

The sailing family arrived in the Bay of Islands New Zealand in 1991 and decided to settle there. The next photo shows Jean and Ian (in shadow) with Louisa and the two girls on a visit with them there that year.

In January 1994 we took our family 'across the ditch' to meet their cousins again, including the latest family member who was born back in New Zealand. They no longer lived on the boat, but on a beautiful clear day they took us out sailing in the Bay.


             A nice shot taken by our 10 year old

                         Sisters' reunion
             Mother and youngest daughter

                Cousins out on the bowsprit


Danny still owns the boat and apparently has recently sailed to Fiji. Coincidentally I've been on the water myself today. A ferry trip isn't really sailing but Somes Island in Wellington Harbour is an interesting place to visit. 

A bit wet and wild today and I doubt whether any of these boats I can see from the hotel window will be going out sailing.

For more blogs prompted by this week's photo, set sail for Sepia Saturday. Whatever you do, just don't miss the boat!

Friday, 7 July 2017

Water play down the decades


Somehow I can't seem to take the gentleman in the Sepia Saturday prompt image for this week seriously. It might be because of the way he is turning his head aroind to look at the photographer, but if he was really about to dive in, I hope he had checked that the water was deep enough and that there were no submerged objects in the vicinity, particularly as there seems to be a rather  large rock poking up not far away from the platform. 

Here are a few snaps of yours truly, posing firstly aged about two and a half on a footstool above our backyard paddling pool in 1955 and secondly in 1960 on the edge of a local public pool with my mother and siblings. In neither case could I have actually dived in.

Jumping off the steps seems to have been a popular activity, as shown below in this shot of us with our neighbours, two sisters who often came over to play. My sister Louisa is on the steps with Elfriede. I imagine the paddling pool must have required frequent refilling with the garden hose as a result. Much fun was had by all, getting splashed and cooling down in the process. Mum's album contains many more paddling pool snaps over the years.

This next shot was taken by Mum on a visit she made to her brother Graeme and family in Los Gatos, California and shows my American cousins Mike and Pat having fun in their home pool in 1973.

On to the next generation and here are our children and their cousins enjoying the above ground pool at their paternal grandparents' home in the early 1990s. It was a popular place for the eight cousins when we visited for Christmas in the hot Canberra summers and they were all sorry when it was finally dismantled and its place in the garden was reclaimed for a rose bed.


In 1989 we moved into a home with an inground pool, and these two photos from the same decade show a) a pool party and b) the family in and around the pool.

Our two older children actually had some diving lessons at the Ryde swimming pool in Sydney. I can imagine I was probably secretly glad that the Olympic diving tower was closed that day as the sign indicates. That top tower was pretty high!

Fast forward to Christmas 2016 and back to paddling pool fun, with our little granddaughters, then aged two and 3/4 and 11 months respectively, cooling off in a very small version, just big enough for the two of them to enjoy. I don't think their mothers would have wanted me to produce a diving/jumping stool!


For more blogs inspired by this weeks old photo, please dive in here at the deep end.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

"I live in a taraban"

Each year in the 1960s over the Christmas summer holidays my parents packed the family tent and set off to drive from Canberra down to the South Coast of New South Wales, trying out at a different beach each year. In 1970 however their camping style changed when they bought a caravan, which became Dad's pride and joy for the next few years.  Below are a number of photographs from Mum's 1969-1973 album.

I think this must have been a caravan they hired to find out whether or not they would enjoy driving the Ford Fairmont with with a van in tow.

Here's my mother Jean showing off the interior of the van they subsequently purchased

1970 and this was probably the first trip with the van, and the only one I was part of, since I left school that year and found summer jobs, and in any event at 17 or 18 family camping wasn't really something I fancied all that much. I must have taken this photo however, as my boyfriend of the time with his tousled locks can be seen crouching here behind my parents and sister Louisa in the caravan park at Mollymook beach.

Said boyfriend had to camp nearby on his own and I was under strict instructions not to join him in his tent, but I confess, I may have sneaked in once or twice. Hello Chris Curtis, how are you? We haven't been in touch since 1971, the year after that photograph was taken. 

More caravan photos above and below from subsequent trips to the beach and elsewhere. Collapsible beach chairs to relax on outside the van were an essential camping accessory.

My sister Louisa poses with the ever present van in the background

Mum's caption on this photo of my brother at the door of the van reads 'Wilson's Point. Temperature at least 107 degrees '. Australia adopted the Metric Act in 1970  but it was almost 10 years before forecasts were given exclusively in Celsius degrees, and in the early 1970s we were still talking Fahrenheit temperatures. No air conditioning in the van of course, but then there was none in the house either, just the occasional fan and open windows at night to let in cooler air and any breezes that might help move the air around.

Here's Jean at home with the van in its resting place beside the house, where it doubled as an extra bedroom for visitors when needed. We could have done with a caravan for extra space last weekend when we had 10 people sleeping here but we managed!
One of my mother's enduring camping memories was of a little girl standing on the step of her van across the way from Mum and Dad and calling out "I live in a taraban'.  Our younger daughter and her husband have recently bought themselves a small van, and perhaps their little daughter will one day stand on the step and call out something similar to her camping neighbours.
 When my parents no longer felt up to the strain of driving with the van and decided instead to move to a house near the beach on the Central Coast north of Sydney, my brother took over the van and he and his family used it for a few more years up in Queensland.

For other blogs prompted by the old image from the National Library of Ireland and posted in Sepia Saturday #373 of an Irish couple and their dog camping at Tramore in 1918, click here.

It looks like a gypsy caravan in the prompt picture, but if Mr and Mrs Foley were indeed gypsies, I hope they were not treated badly in the way that very many of their people were, as documented in the lyrics of this song written by Ewan McColl and sung by the great Christy Moore.