Google+ Followers

Friday, 19 May 2017

Snakes alive!

The Sepia Saturday prompt this week features a fairly big snake curled up in the lap of a lady wearing what looks like a snakeskin patterned leotard and fishnet stockings. Funnily enough I have no family photographs of anyone in fishnets, although our elder daughter did jazz ballet for some years and may perhaps have occasionally worn a pair as part of her various performance costumes. I did uncover a few photos of people with snakes however, which I've included below.

This first photo shows our younger son and daughter at the Australian Reptile Park, an attraction just north of Sydney, to which my mother was fond taking family and visitors for an interesting outing. You can safely visit the park here and explore what exciting attractions they have to offer. Despite the name of the park, they also have other Australian animals, some of which are a lot more cute and cuddly. 

Our son who was about 6 in this photo from 1991 doesn't seem particularly worried about or even interested in the snake around his neck, but his four year old sister is giving it a close look. Of course this would have to be a non-poisonous species such as a python of some kind, so there would be no real danger to the children. 
They keep highly venomous snakes like the Eastern Brown Snake there too but I'm sure they are not available for the public to handle. They are milked for their venom, as are spiders like the Funnelweb, and the venom is then sent to a laboratory where life-saving anti venom is produced.

Here are our older son and a school friend on a class excursion later the same year, looking happy and unconcerned about the large python adorning their necks. 

This third photograph is from 1996 and shows my late sister-in-law Penny. My mother's caption reads "Penny is brave".  She was indeed brave, not so much for holding what was perhaps a corn snake, again harmless, but because around ten years later she was diagnosed with breast cancer, which she fought courageously for four years before succumbing in 2011. You can read an earlier blog I wrote in her memory here. RIP dear Penny.

Our daughter pictured in the first photo above now lives on a country property where snakes are a not uncommon sight. According to the Reptile Park web site, the deadly Eastern Brown isn't aggressive but when we encountered one in the long grass off the beaten track one summer day it practically chased me down the paddock! I certainly hope they keep a close eye on our young granddaughter who has just started toddling about.

The Australian Blue Tongue lizard is a far more friendly reptile that can at first sight be mistaken for a snake because its little legs are initially rather inconspicuous. 12 years ago we lived in the leafy Sydney suburb of Turramurra and had several blue tongues as long-term residents in our garden. In the first photo one is peering into our garden shed. You would get a shock if you were getting something out of the shed and came across one of these fellows, but they are harmless, and good to have in the garden because they eat snails. Unfortunately I didn't find any photos I've taken capturing their bright blue tongues.

Here's our younger daughter again, circa 2001, holding a baby blue tongue that we rescued from the cat, who was the main danger to their survival, although I doubt he was a match for them when fully grown and generally they lived in harmony. Being cold-blooded like all reptiles, blue tongues like to bask in the sun to warm up. They can shed their tails if necessary and regrow them.

I'd like to think that this photo taken the following year might show that baby grown up. 

Now slither over to Sepia Saturday #368 for more encounters that may or may not involve snakes or other scaly-skinned creatures, but beware of anything lurking in the undergrowth!

Thursday, 27 April 2017

The ubiquitous Hills Hoist

This week's Sepia Saturday prompt photograph features someone hanging up washing. The line looks a bit like a Hills Hoist, except that it appears to be suspended upside down in some fashion.

I did a blog that included the history of the Australian Hills Hoist some time ago, which you can check out here, so consequently I don't have too many more relevant photos, but I did manage to find a few. It seems that often the ubiquitous washing line sneaks into the photograph even when it is not intended to. It certainly was always present in the back yard when we had young children, and almost always laden down with washing drying in the sunshine. Here are a few examples I found, not taken by me I must point out. These days of course it is very easy to crop out unwanted objects, but these are snaps from the 1980s, when a pair of scissors was normally the only tool available. Consequently if snaps with extraneous items in the background were not discarded, they slipped into albums unaltered.

This photo was taken on the occasion of our second son's first birthday party. It's possible that whoever took it was trying to make a point, ie. that the washing should not have been there in full view. I agree that if there had been other party guests attending that might have been a reasonable point, but in this case the only party guests were our children and my parents, so I probably didn't think it was essential to take down the nappies just for their benefit. I think there are also be some lemons there on the lawn, waiting to be taken inside. The previous owners had lived in the house for forty years and were great gardeners. We benefited from their work but with four young children by the time we moved on we could not keep up to their exacting standards, and sadly the neglected lemon tree was never quite as good as it had once been.

Here's the digitally cropped version. It's an improvement but I'm sure I have a few better shots of the birthday boy. 

Here is another shot that I clearly did not take. It was in one of my mother's albums and shows our elder daughter in her Brownie uniform and our youngest closely examining the grass, watched by a visiting cousin and myself. With the washing and various other objects in the background, it's not able to be cropped so neatly and is probably not one I would have saved, but this is of course the main subject of the photo, with just a couple of distractions in the background.

Here's a Hills Hoist intruding again, even without washing, this time in the in-laws' back garden, c. 1988.

but this one is easily removed.

In this last shot however, the washing line is central. I imagine I took this photo to show how my capable better half was able to manage child minding and hanging up washing at the same time, c 1987/88. He was doing a good job here.

For more blogs inspired by the prompt provided by Sepia Saturday #365, click here. That number could perhaps relate to the annual number of days the endless task of washing needs to be done, or at least contemplated, at least when there are young children in the family!

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Big Sister, Little Brother

This week the Sepia Saturday prompt shows a couple of unknown children photographed in light and shade. We don't know whether or not they were brother and sister, but it seems probable, and on that basis I've put together the following collage. The main photo taken by their mother Claire shows two of our grandchildren, Isabelle and Otis, flanked by photographs from earlier generations on their mother's side of the family. Their mother, grandmother, grandfather, one maternal great grandfather, and both maternal great grandmothers all came from families in which the first born child was a daughter, followed by a son.

The smaller photos from left to right and top to bottom show the children's great great Aunty Pat and her younger brother Ken; great grandmother Jean (younger sister of Pat and Ken) and their younger brother Derek; great great Aunty Pat and youngest brother Peter (16 years' difference between these two); great grandfather Ian and his big sister Valarie; great grandmother Mary and her younger brother Cyril;  grandfather Roger and big sister Ann; grandmother Jo and little brother Guy; mother Claire and little brother Kim. The children's father is also the little brother to a big sister but I don't have a photo of them as children.

 Then I came across this additional photograph, which is not of siblings but merits inclusion because it seems to match the prompt in shade and expression to some degree. It shows yours truly looking up at a lady called Jocelyn Ward, who was my mother Jean's very dear friend from their days in teachers' college together and was one of her bridesmaids. Jocelyn came to visit us in Australia at least once.  She did not marry and had no children of her own, but was always very good to us and I remember her fondly. She wasn't able to come to our wedding but we met up with her in Christchurch NZ on our honeymoon afterwards. Sadly Jocelyn passed away a few years later in 1981 in her early fifties, suffering I believe from multiple sclerosis.

For more blogs based on this week's Sepia Saturday prompt, click here.

Finally, because it's Easter this weekend, here's a page from my baby book, including a paper serviette that must have been at my grandparents' Easter table. My name is written inside but at just four and a half months old I doubt that I used it! 

  Happy Easter to all who celebrate!

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Three Peas in a Pod

This week the Sepia Saturday prompt photograph features a lineup of three choir boys. I have no photos of choir boys or anything remotely similar in my family collection, so instead I'm re-posting one of my favourite photographs.

 I included this photo almost four years ago in a a blog on groups of three but that was a while ago now. The lady in the middle is my grandmother Mona Morrison nee Forbes, whose wedding anniversary I featured last week, and she is flanked by her two unmarried sisters Bess and Flo Forbes, who lived very close to the Morrison family and were a great help to Mona with her six children. The date was Christmas Day 1949. In her album my mother Jean has captioned the photo 'The Three Girls'. The floral dresses worn by the sisters would no doubt have been made by Aunty Bess, who was a professional dressmaker. They look very similar here but of course may have looked quite different in colour. Flora was the eldest of the Forbes girls, born in Canterbury NZ in 1888,  with Bess just a year later in 188. You can see a sweet photograph of little Flora and Bess here.  
Two more children, John ( 1891) and Ruby (1892) were born to parents Charles Forbes and Jane Isabella Young  before Mona arrived, 7 years after Bess in 1897. Baby Mary born 1900 did not survive but the Forbes' 7th and last child Charles was born on 1902. By 1949 the age difference between Mona and her sisters wasn't all that obvious, but nor was it in this photo of the four Forbes girls together as young women, seen here, .

The next snap is correspondingly captioned 'The Three Boys' and appears on the same page of the album. It features my mother's young brother Peter Morrison aged 12, father/ Mona's husband John Morrison and another of the Morrison boys, Graeme, looking very suave and debonaire as anyoing man of 17. 

Below is is the photo placed in between the two above on the album page, showing the whole family group in the garden on Christmas Day, with my mother sitting in front beside her brother Peter. My parents were engaged at this time and my father Ian Cruickshank was sharing the family celebration with his future in-laws, so he must have been the photographer here. 

Jean and Ian were married a few months later and their first child yours truly was born on Peter's fifteenth birthday. It was always easy to remember when my Uncle Peter's birthday was and how much older he was than me, but he and his wife Doreen never let me forget that some 21 years later when visiting them I blythely suggested that at 36 they must be middle-aged, my reasoning being that twice that age would be over 70. In fact Peter never really became old, as he passed away from cancer at the relatively young age of 56, but Doreen will celebrate her 80th birthday this year.

You may find more reverent blogs by other Sepia Saturday members here at Sepia Saturday # 362.  Now my husband and I are off for the weekend to celebrate his birthday. Not mine as yet, but we are the same age, so you can work it out from the above. We're just middle aged, of course!

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Today and tomorrow

It's April Fool's Day today and the prompt photograph is appropriate, as the photographer has been very clever here on the beach at Collaroy, a beach we visited a few times when we lived in Sydney. My beach photograph is nowhere near as tricky, but being buried up to the neck was always good fun, so long as you weren't too close to the water line and had someone ready to dig you out. Our youngest child Laura, who must have been about 3 in this photograph, looks like she is planning to water these strange beach plants. I'm not sure of the beach but it was probably on the Central Coast north of Sydney.

That is my contribution to Sepia Saturday #361.

Now to change the subject more or less completely: My grandparents John Morrison 29 and Mona Mary Forbes 22 were married the day after April Fool's Day, on Wednesday 2 April 1919 at 218 Colombo St Christchurch NZ, the home of Mona's parents Charles and Jane Isabella Forbes.

                                   John and Mona on their                                                wedding day.

Here they are a few years later with their first two children Pat and Ken, possibly at or near Leithfield beach, a favourite place to go for a picnic day out.

 Some 35 years later in March 1961 they came to Australia for a visit and are pictured here at Palm Beach Sydney, a few beaches north of Collaroy where the Green brothers were photographed playing tricks. Mona was about my age in this photograph, and just a bit too old to play tricks on the beach, although I'm sure Jack had played his fair share of them in his time. How looks and fashions have changed!

    Eight years later Mona and Jack celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary at home in Christchurch on 2 April 1969. 

Tomorrow 2 April 2017 will be the 98th anniversary of the wedding of Mona and Jack, who by my count now have 45 direct descendants. Mona passed away in February 1972 and Jack followed in May 1977. 

 Happy Anniversary, dear Nan and Granddad!

ps. Coincidentally we attended a wedding picnic on 1 April last year for a nephew and his bride. It was a very happy and enjoyable day and the program of events unfolded just like a real wedding, with the groom's sisters acting as marriage celebrant and assistant, but the official ceremony had in fact taken place about 2 weeks earlier in the United Kingdom where the couple currently reside. I don't know if there was any significance to the date chosen, but I believe some of the guests were not initially aware that this was actually a post-wedding celebration for Australian family and friends.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Not exactly riveting ...

The prompt for Sepia Saturday #360 features a lady happily brandishing a drill. She was in fact working on a dive bomber in Tennessee during World War 2. 

The following photograph is the only one I seem to have showing anyone in our family doing anything vaguely similar, ie manual work. This is not to say that no such work was ever done, simply that no one thought to take photographs of people doing it.  It was late 1977 and my father Ian was poised on a ladder with probably a screw or nail in hand, and us acting as his assistants, intent on putting together a kit shed for the back garden of our freshly built first home in what was then a new Canberra suburb called Kaleen. There are a couple of other photographs of the house at the end of an earlier post here. At this stage there were no dividing fences, as ours was the first house on the block. There was also no grass because we hadn't prepared the ground for sewing it yet, so I doubt whether we had a mower to put in the shed, but we did have a wheelbarrow and other tools that needed to be kept safe.

Above  Roger is attacking the load of topsoil we had delivered and below I am rolling it out.  Funnily enough I'm even wearing a headscarf here, like the lady in the photo prompt above.

By the following year the grass had grown, although it wasn't exactly lush, and despite a hot summer we had managed to grow some vegetables. Here is Roger holding a bucket of potatoes and about to do some mowing.

Here I am showing off some of the fruits of our labours. Those paving stones I was sitting on were soon to be laid all around the verandah, a slow, painstaking job that took a number of weekends to complete, but no photos of the work in progress. I was busy supplying the worker with cold drinks!

A little later Roger and his father Bob also built a brick carport beside the house. This also took a couple of weekends of hard work but unfortunately no photographs seem to have been taken.  You can see from this recent photograph on Googlemaps that the carport is still standing solidly, some forty years later.  I think that some of the larger trees seen in the front garden may also have been planted by us.


As things turned out, we decided to move from Canberra to Sydney in 1980 so after all that work we only lived here for under 3 years. I still have fond memories of our Kaleen home but overall don't regret leaving Canberra.

Time to down tools for lunch, but for more riveting posts, have a look at Sepia Saturday #360

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Well Hello Dolly!

This week's photo prompt shows Louis Armstrong looking into the mirror at his dressing table. I've previously shown the few mirror photographs I have, so instead I looked up Louis's biography for possible inspiration, and was reminded that one of his most well-known songs was Hello Dolly, which pushed the Beatles off the top of the charts in 1964. Of course I know Louis wasn't singing about toy dolls, but it does provide a segue to that subject, particularly as I've recently been knitting and sewing clothes for my granddaughters' 'babies'.

Here are a few dolly photographs, both old and new.

Above is yours truly and friends at home in Cambridge in 1954. The doll on the left was my favourite cuddly companion, rather strangely called Bane for some long forgotten reason, but perhaps simply because I couldn't  pronounce Baby at the time. I no longer have Bane because sadly she deteriorated over the years, eventually looking like she had black stubble on her face, which wasn't particularly attractive in a female doll. 

I don't recall the other two dolls but I think the little one next to Bane is the sailor doll pictured below on the right in the photograph I took this morning after locating the pair up in the top of the wardrobe. He and his friend were my mother's rather than mine, and I don't know anything about their history, but they might have been bought aboard ship on our voyage from NZ to the UK in 1953. On his hat it says Sea Princess, and on the other doll's hat is RMS Mauritania. I haven't researched either of those two ships, but the ship aboard which we sailed to the United Kingdom was the Rangitata.

'Hello Sailor' would probably be more appropriate for these two fellows. I might even say they are 'lookin' swell' as the song goes. Somewhat faded but in pretty good condition for their age and after spending a long time up in the wardrobe (not to say closet). Enough said.

The next photo is recent but the doll herself is as old as the sailor figures. Her name is Kaye and she is a hard plastic Pedigree doll, given to me in 1954 by one of the mothers of the men who were killed along with my uncle Ken when the plane he was flying was shot down over Wuppertal Germany in June 1943. My mother visited all the men's families during the year we spent in the UK. Kaye lives up in the wardrobe too, and when I got her down recently to show my visiting English granddaughter, I discovered that she was in need of a little TLC, for example some new internal elastic to connect her head and limbs. Her clothes were also rather moth-eaten, so I've since repaired them as best I can, with new bootees, new trimming on her dress and coat and new ribbons so she looks much better now. I've previously shown a photo from about 1958 here that includes Kaye, second from left, and Bane, fifth doll from left. 

Here is Kaye now, 'still glowin', 'still goin' strong', in her new bootees and mended layette, but no new hair I'm sorry to say.
Moving on to 1964, when 'Hello Dolly' hit the charts, and here is my sister Louisa with her doll family. I know she still has the large doll wearing a bonnet whose name is Mary Anne, and she may also still have that teddy bear.


Although our two girls weren't great fans of dolls, you can see a photo previously posted of them with cabbage patch dolls here.

To the present day:

Above is our little Londoner Isabelle, aka Jeanie after her great grandmother Jean, with her baby Lucy, dressed in matching outfits by yours truly, while below is her little Australian cousin Lucy, currently inseparable from her doll Jeanie that I gave her for her birthday.


Time to say goodbye rather than hello, but for more blogs that may or may not be linked in some way to the prompt image, go to Sepia Saturday #359

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Argonauts Row, Row, Row!

The Sepia Saturday #358 prompt for 11 March 2017 shows a couple listening to weather reports on the radio in Florida, and is dated 10 November 1950.   I couldn't think of anything similar to write about until now, so my post is rather late I'm afraid.  I don't have any photographs of family members listening to the radio, but in the early 1960s I was an avid listener to what was called the Children's Hour, a session that was to be heard at 5 pm, 6 nights a week on the Australian Broadcasting Commission. The clip below gives a few extracts from the show, including the rousing opening and closing theme songs. Then there's a contribution from a member referring to a double-exposed photograph. When I listen to the clip it all comes back and I can remember coming inside, sitting by the radio, listening intently and singing along. I was a member of the Argonauts Club and couldn't miss a show, just in case one of my contributions was read out on air, which it very occasionally was. The show introduced Australian children to the delights of art and literature, as well as running an amusing serial called "The Muddle-headed Wombat" by Ruth Park. 

My Certificate of  Membership of the Argonauts Club. My membership name and number was Timaeus 37.

My membership badge, which I seem to have defaced by colouring green in at some stage, but at least I still have it

Order of the Dragon's Tooth, award for reaching 150 points for member contributions. I was sad to never quite reach the higher award of Golden Fleece (400 points) or the ultimate Golden Fleece and Bar, (600 points).

My Dragon's Tooth badge

One of the books I received as a prize for a attaining a certain number of points for my written contributions to the Argonauts Club

Inside the book

No photographs of  me listening to the radio, but here I am in a school photograph aged about 7, taken in the school library, and I imagine I looked pretty similar at home around 5 pm every night except Sundays, from about 1960 to 1968, although I probably had changed out of my school uniform before sitting down to listen. My mother encouraged me to listen and contribute. No television back then, so if you missed an episode that was too bad, especially as that just might have been the one in which your letter was read out or your points tally rated a mention. 

The Argonauts Club aired from 1933 until the the early 1970s and was very popular. Quite a few of its members went on to become prominent in Australian public life, for example as writers, academics, journalists, actors or politicians.  You can read more about the Club and see a list of famous members here in Wikipedia.  My only claim to fame is that much later in the 1990s we lived next door to one of those mentioned, namely Mike Carlton, well-known in Australia as a broadcaster and commentator. Of course we never discussed our common childhood history as Argonauts.