Travel friends: near and far

Those who follow me know that I have mentioned friends we met on our 2009 European tour. We have become firm friends since that trip and if you want to know what I am rambling on about, see Ah, Athens. Thanks for the Memories. Anyway, these wonderful people are just some we have met on our travels.

Today I am thinking about Jenny, who we met a few years ago while staying at the Dicky Beach Caravan Park on the Sunshine Coast (about an hour and half from where we live). We are fortunate to own a caravan and we have had many (well, mostly) great times traveling around and have met many interesting people. (See Caravanning … our way, your way, any way for my thoughts on this).

Incidentally, Dicky Beach was named after the SS Dicky which ran aground there in 1893. It is the only recreational beach in the world named after a shipwreck. Dicky Beach is in a most beautiful part of the world and the caravan park is about 100 metres from the patrolled surf beach. Perrrfect!

After 122 years, the wreck of the SS Dicky had been disintegrating and by 2015, the Sunshine Coast Council deemed the remains were too dangerous to be left on the beach. It was an emotional time for the residents and visitors who were on the beach to witness its removal. Below are a few photos of the gradual demise of the wreck of the SS Dicky.

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Three people on top of the SS Dicky wreck circa 1900. Photo courtesy Sunshine Coast Libraries – Heritage Library
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SS Dicky wreck circa 1967. Photo courtesy Sunshine Coast Libraries – Heritage Library
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SS Dicky wreck, July 2015. Photo courtesy Kate Wall

But, I digress. Back to Jenny. It was the second time we had stayed at the caravan park and the previous year we had met Jenny’s family as they were on the site beside us. Well, we hit it off with Jenny immediately. She was from just outside London and was visiting, as she often does, in the school holidays in order to spend time with her son and family. We spent time together chatting and having a few wines (yes, wines not whines). We had a lot in common but mainly a love of travel. Jenny has traveled extensively. Initially with her husband until his unexpected passing and now solo or with friends. This intrepid woman has a great life story and I hope she manages to document it in the near future. I am never ceased to be amazed by her adventures. As I am writing this post, Jenny and a friend are on a ten week cruise from Sydney to Southampton. Go Jenny!

We got on so well that Summer, we exchanged contact details at the end of our holiday. We kept in touch with regular emails and our friendship grew. My husband and I were planning a trip to Europe in 2015 (another trip of a lifetime – had a few of those – very grateful). Of course, I was letting Jenny know of our plans and she gave us some travel tips. She suggested we stay with her while we were in the UK. So, at the end of our European adventure (another story) we left Paris aboard the Eurostar for London.

On reaching Jenny’s home following a train journey from the famous Waterloo station, we stayed in her lovely home and were made to feel very welcome for our entire stay. As we were there in August, Jenny had arranged tickets for us to visit Buckingham Palace. The Queen was away on her usual Summer holiday at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. We deliberately arrived early in order to see the changing of the Guard there, which was magnificent.

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Iconic London bus, with Big Ben and Houses of Parliament (Palace of Westminster) in the background, on Westminster Bridge, London, England
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Changing of the Guard, Buckingham Palace
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Changing of the Guard, Buckingham Palace

As we had a while until our appointed entry time to the Palace, we decided to have a cup of tea with our lunch at a kiosk in Green Park. Then the rain came down. It had been threatening to rain all morning so it was no surprise. After our lunch we walked over to the Guard’s Museum on Birdcage Walk about 500 metres from Buckingham Palace. We spent a pleasant time there where we learned many interesting facts regarding the guards. I would highly recommend a visit to this museum as it provides an extensive background and history of the five regiments of foot guards in the Household Division: Grenadier Guards, Coldstream Guards, Scots Guards, Irish Guards and Welsh Guards. These are the regiments which normally provide the Queen’s Guard at Buckingham Palace. Given we had just witnessed the famed Changing of the Guard, it seemed fitting to visit this museum.

Then it was time for our visit to the State Rooms of the Palace. It was still raining, but I remember how professional the staff were, in making sure everyone was in the correct group to go through to the Palace and gardens in a timely manner. These State Rooms are used by The Queen and members of the Royal Family to receive and entertain their guests on State, ceremonial and official occasions. Well, there was so much to take in. The magnificent artworks, china, glassware and furnishings and the sheer size of the 19 State Rooms made for an amazing experience. The Ballroom was set up for a banquet with the finest china and glassware. Every table setting was precisely measured and not a thing out of place. Definitely not something that happens at our house, but it is a Palace afterall. If you can manage to be in London during the Summer, do try to visit. Sorry, there are no personal photos, as photography of any type is not permitted in Buckingham Palace. Here is a link to visiting Buckingham Palace in 2017 which you may find useful. Following our time inside, we went into the gardens. It was still raining so we didn’t spend as much time there as we might have. We had a wonderful ‘Royal’ day!

As for the rest of our stay, Jenny acted as our personal tour guide, and we had day trips to some great locations. We met many of Jenny’s family and friends and had some wonderful times. I will keep those stories for another time.

Since our trip in 2015, we caught up with Jenny in 2016 and 2017 while she was in Australia. In 2017 she was able to stay with us for a few days which was so much fun. Our friendship has endured and we have had some great times together. Hopefully, we will get back to the UK in the not too distant future, to have further adventures. You just don’t know who you will meet along life’s journey. I am glad we met Jenny and consider her to be a good friend. She certainly has added a further dimension to our lives.

Have you met people on your travels who have made a difference to you? Please let me know in the Comments Section. Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mr Cook: an enigma

While growing up in Rocklea, during the 1950s and 1960s, I had the pleasure and privilege of having the influence of a kind yet unusual gentleman who lived two doors down from us. He was Mr Bernard Cook and to me, he was somewhat of an enigma. A simple man living a simple life, who also was an artist and musician.

I believe he would have been aged in his mid fifties, although I can’t be sure. I do know that he was living an alternative lifestyle. That is, it was much different from all the other ‘normal’ people in our street. He built his low set fibro house himself and had no electricity or town water. He relied on his tank water for drinking and washing. He did his washing by hand and from memory wore mainly khaki working clothes.

He kept his meat on a plate covered by a dampened, muslin or calico cloth bag which was suspended from the ceiling. His cheese and butter were kept in ceramic dishes. He cooked on a large open fireplace with three steel bars as a grate that held a large blackened kettle which was always on the boil, ready for a cup of tea – made with tea leaves. There were equally blackened pots and pans from use on the open fire. On the brick surrounds of the fireplace, he had painted scenes of sheep and cows and other farm animals.

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The deck was added much later after Mr Cook passed away. The stairs were directly in front of the door which was not glass in his time. The gardens are gone but the water tank remains and the fibro house is much as it was in the 1960s. Photo courtesy of realestate.com.au

His lighting consisted of glass kerosene lamps which, when I think back, were very beautiful and the house took on an other-worldly glow when the lamps were lit. We always felt we were stepping back in time when we visited him, especially in the late afternoon or early evening.

He didn’t worry about cupboards for storing his food. He kept his meagre groceries in the centre of his sizeable kitchen table. There were the staples of his life: flour, sugar, tea, bread, butter, jam, salt and pepper and a bottle of hot sauce. He bought perishables such as milk, butter and cheese from the corner shop and meat from the butcher two streets away on the main road. His table also made room for a number books and newspapers. There were often tubes of paint scattered around as well. Two glass kerosene lamps also took up room on that table. It was quite cluttered, but interesting.

He grew most of his fruit and vegetables. In fact, most of his back yard was covered in raised garden beds with paths to walk between. He always had far too much for his needs and either sold or gave away any surplus. His strawberries were probably the best I ever tasted. I remember he tried to interest us in gardening and many other things but he didn’t have many takers from the kids in our neighbourhood.

He welcomed all the kids to his house. Amazing when you consider he really liked to keep to himself. It was not unusual for him to host ten children in his home after school. He gave us ideas for play. In one game we had to pretend to be photographers and we had ‘pretend’ cameras. We had nothing except our hands and our imagination! We took turns in posing on a ladder, on the floor, on chairs and outside. It certainly got our imaginations going as we thought up different poses and settings for our subjects. I guess we were easily amused back then. Oh, and he never had any problems shooing us out when it was time for tea.

He painted, mainly in oils, and played the violin. He built himself a soundproof music room which was not much bigger than a linen cupboard but it allowed him to practise his beloved violin at any time of the day or night without disturbing the neighbours. He was a considerate man.

Mr Cook had a brother who lived nearby. I don’t recall his name but he used to visit with his horse and cart. My sister reminded me of this fact when we were discussing the ‘old days’. While we both visited him along with all the other neighbourhood kids, our memories often differ which is not surprising. I think his brother lived much like our Mr Cook. He always looked like he was from a different era as well. The horse and cart were a bit of a giveaway. Mr Cook’s form of transport was an old bicycle which seemed to suffice for his needs. I don’t know if he ever went far afield as we only saw him after school and weekends. He loved his little house and garden.

One of his few concessions to living in the modern world of the 1960s, was a small transistor radio. Mr Cook liked to follow the horse races. My father, a salesman at the time, arranged for the purchase of the radio. Every Saturday morning, Mr Cook would carefully remove the radio from the original packaging and place the batteries in the radio. He would have it on during the day and in the evening would once again remove the batteries and carefully place the radio in the packaging and put it away in his bedroom until the next Saturday.

I recall that we badgered him to be able to stay in his backyard overnight in a tent we discovered he had. After some discussions with our parents, we were allowed to ‘camp out’. He went to all the trouble of setting up the tent and even putting in a light for us. We lasted until about 8pm before we all wanted to go home. What a bunch of sooks we were! What a patient and kind man he was to do this and not complain.

Mr Cook tried to give me art lessons and violin lessons but sadly, I just didn’t get it then. Or even now.  I am not artistic or musical. I just enjoy them. Mr Cook would have been pleased and disappointed I think. Pleased that I enjoy these things. Disappointed that I couldn’t understand how to do these things. I was not only uncoordinated but also unable to translate the notes on the page to the instrument. Art is much the same for me. I understand the techniques the artist uses to draw, paint and so on but I can’t transfer my thoughts into anything that resembles, well, anything. I probably should have persevered. I guess I will stick to writing. I may not be spectacularly good but I understand it better, and it suits me.

When I was about ten years old, my parents sold our house in Rocklea and moved ‘upmarket’ to Coopers Plains. We only saw Mr Cook a few times after we moved away. We found out that he died about ten years later. It was a sad day.  I am forever grateful for the added dimension that he provided to my young life and the others in our street.

I am not sure whether Mr Cook was behind the times or ahead of his time. What I do know though, is that he lived his life on his terms and he was happy with his life, his house, his garden, his violin and his art. What more could you ask for?

Have you had wonderful, interesting people like Mr Cook in your life? If so, I would love to hear from you. Thanks for reading!

Growing up … an awakening

As we travel along the path to adulthood, we have many ‘awakenings’. What we believe to be normal in our world, is challenged or called into question through our varied experiences. It is all part of growing up. So, I want to share an example from my childhood where my perspective was changed in the process of… growing up. It wasn’t an earth shattering experience. Just the same, I believe growing up is full of moments, big and small, which contribute to shaping us into the adults we become.

Among my first memories of my world has to do with where we lived. Rocklea is a suburb of Brisbane, Queensland, located about nine kilometres south of the CBD. It was mainly an industrial area and not in any way, salubrious (one of my father’s favourite words). It was a microcosm of 1960s Brisbane with a mixture of ‘gerry built’ houses, Housing Commission homes, dirt roads, big yards and few fences. There were migrant families, poor families, big families, low income families and middle class families (not many). Most of all, it was a place where cheap land was available and people who didn’t have much, had the opportunity to buy a home (the Great Australian Dream). A place where all the kids knew each other and seamlessly moved between each others houses. We had a corner shop and a telephone box at the end of our street and a bus stop nearby and not much else. However, that was my ‘normal’. I didn’t give any of that much thought until I was about eight years old.

In those days, television shows were often televised ‘live’. One such show was a children’s afternoon show, the Happy Hour starring Jill Edwards and a lanky comedian named Beanpole, aka Dick McCann, who dressed as a school boy (private school?) and provided comic relief to the show. Essentially, the show interacted with the audience and introduced a variety of TV series’ and cartoons. So, one day in the early 1960s we found out that we were going to be part of the ‘live audience’ on the Happy Hour. Each afternoon a great big coach would arrive in a suburb or neighbourhood to pick up the children to transport them to Mt Coot-tha where the television studios were located. It was with awe and trepidation that we climbed aboard the coach to travel up the mountain to meet our TV idols and be part of the show. Just going on the coach (I stress it was a coach and not just a bus). I traveled to school everyday on a bus. This was not a bus. It had plush seats and I think, carpet on the floor and curtains on the windows. This was not just a bus! It was definitely a coach.

As I have mentioned, Rocklea was not too flash. It was situated on a floodplain and whenever it rained, even a small amount, there was two inches of water in the yard. We had no curb and channel and a dirt road. We caught tadpoles in the ditch out the front of our house. There was bushland at the end of the street where we spent a great deal of time. Naturally, we had the obligatory back yard toilet or outhouse, colloquially known as the ‘dunny’. This was common throughout 1960s Brisbane. (Thank you, thank you Brisbane Lord Mayor Clem Jones (1961 to 1975) who had a vision to rid the landscape of the outside dunnies!) Are you getting the picture? However, for all of that, we were relatively happy – we didn’t know anything else.

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Rows of backyard dunnies that were the norm in suburban Brisbane prior to the Jones administration. (Courtesy of Your Brisbane: Past and Present)

So, there we are. All these kids from Rocklea piled on to the bus for our big adventure. We had watched Jill and Beanpole each afternoon after school so we knew what we were in for – or we thought we did. The time passed quickly as we were all so excited. When we arrived at BTQ 7 studios I remember the sense of awe that we were in a TV station. When we walked in there were large photos of the station’s ‘stars’ on the walls and there was a collective sense of anticipation of what was to come. We were ushered into the studio and we sat on the tiered seats. Then we saw Jill and Beanpole. It was very exciting. As part of the show (or the warm up), we were asked where we were from. We all called out (proudly) ROCKLEA!! At that point, I distinctly recall the look on the faces of the people in the studio. It was that OMG, you’re from where? Did I mention Rocklea was not a salubrious place? It was at that point I realised that somehow, I was inferior. Well, at least where I lived was. The rest of the show went on but how I thought about my world had been altered by that reaction. Beanpole didn’t seem as funny as he was on the TV screen and somehow the studio seemed tacky and small from behind the scenes.

In some sense, I wish I had never gone in that fancy coach to the lofty heights of Mt Coot-tha. I felt that my peers and myself, without fully realising it, had somehow been robbed of our sense of pride in ourselves and where we came from. Not sure whether the others thought the same. I never spoke of it. What I learned was, not everyone views you and your surroundings in the same light as you do. For some time I was embarrassed about where I came from. People’s reactions can impact on others without you even being fully aware of it.

As an adult, I am proud of where I came from and my working class roots. Afterall, it contributed in shaping me into the person I am today. Life is full of ‘awakenings’. This was just one along my road to adulthood. Oh, and I am still having them!

Please leave a comment about your experiences ‘growing up’. I would love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading my post!

Another Buccleuch?

This is a postscript to an earlier post, Buccleuch who?, regarding Henry Buccleuch Shipstone, my 1st cousin x 1 removed. In that post I mentioned that another baby was born aboard the Duke of Buccleuch on an 1883 voyage to Australia. This baby was also given a middle name which paid tribute to her birth at sea. Her name was Alice Buccleuch Lake, and she was born on 15 October 1883 during the voyage to Queensland. This was just four days before my great uncle, Samuel Buccleuch Shipstone, was born on 19 October 1883. As to her forename, Alice, I wonder if she was named after Alice Bray who was another passenger on board the Duke of Buccleuch who proved to be helpful following the birth of Samuel Buccleuch. Alice Bray would later become my great grandmother. I feel sure the respective families knew each other on board, given their shared experiences.

Having come across this in my research, I was intrigued to find out what became of Alice Buccleuch Lake and decided to investigate. To date, I have found that her parents, Edward Lake and Mary Ann (nee Willis) had another two daughters after arriving in Australia. Jane was born in 1891 but died within the year. Lilly was born in 1892.

It appears that, prior to 1910, Alice sailed back to England. While there she married Joseph Edward Willetts about June 1910 at Aston, England. This took some researching as I could find no evidence for their marriage in Australia. I knew they had married because there was a reference to the Marriage Certificate in Alice’s correspondence with the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) office, dated 4 march 1920.  On further investigation, I found Alice and Joseph sailed to Australia in 1911 aboard the SS Essex with their infant daughter, Lilian Buccleuch. Yes, another person with the ‘Buccleuch’ middle name!  Lilian was born in Aston, England in early 1911, just before leaving for Australia. Alas, Lilian passed away not long after arriving in Queensland in 1911. Another daughter, Alice Beatrice, was born in 1913. Sadly, she died in 1915, at just two years old. Then in 1915, Joseph and Alice welcomed Edward John. Unfortunately, Edward passed away in 1916. So much grief! Their fourth child, Hazel Elsie was born in 1916. I can happily report that Hazel grew to adulthood, married and had a family of her own.

The Great War had been going since 1914 when Joseph Willetts enlisted in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia on the 20 May 1916 in the 22 Reinforcements (Rns) 9th Battalion. He was 33 years and 5 months old and his occupation was recorded as a Labourer. Before immigrating, Joseph had served for twelve years in the Worcestershire Regiment. As a Private in the AIF, Joseph embarked in Brisbane for England on the vessel HMAT Marathon on 27 October 1916. So, after five months training, he and his comrades were on their way to the ‘War’. Joseph had named Alice, his wife, as next of kin. He was leaving her with an infant daughter and the grief of recently losing their only son and the loss of two daughters in the previous few years. Alice was 33 years old and lived at Woodend Road, Ipswich, Queensland. (Incidentally, I, too, live in Ipswich which is about 30 kilometres west of Brisbane, Queensland.)

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Courtesy of harrowercollection.com

Joseph Willetts trained as a First Class Signaller in England before arriving in Havre, France on 24 July 1917. His service record notes he was moved to Halfleur and on 5 August 1917 he committed two crimes: breaking out of camp and being out of bounds. Then, on the 8 August 1917 his battalion was marched out to Belgium. On the 4 November 1917, Private Joseph Edward Willetts was wounded in action. He died of his wounds later that day. He was buried at Ypres Reservoir Cemetery. Private Willetts was one of the 38,098 Australians who lost their lives during eight weeks of fighting defending the town of Ypres. He left behind a wife and young daughter.

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Ypres Reservoir Cemetery in the 1920s before the wooden markers were replaced by headstones (Courtesy of ww1cemeteries.com)
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Ypres Reservoir Cemetery 2014 (Courtesy ww1battlefields.co.uk)

Following the death of Joseph, Alice received a pension of £2 per fortnight and £1 per fortnight for her daughter Hazel. For the living, life goes on. By September 1918, Alice had married Benjamin Ramsbottom. Much of the correspondence on Private Willetts’ war service file is addressed to Mrs Ramsbottom and annotated that Alice had remarried. The last date of correspondence to Alice regarding Joseph’s war service was 18 July 1924, almost seven years after Joseph’s death. Did Joseph’s death hang like a spectre over her second marriage to Benjamin? We will never know, but you can’t help but wonder.

It appears that Alice lived in Ipswich most of her life. A newspaper article dated 27 January 1939 cites her as a witness in a court case which has her address as Wyndham Street, North Ipswich.

Alice Buccleuch Ramsbottom (nee Lake, formerly Willetts) died on 12 August 1953, aged 69 years. According to the Funeral Notice, Alice was a wife (twice), a mother, a mother-in-law and grandmother. At the time of her death, Alice was living in Jackson Estate on Cribb Island. This was a suburb of Brisbane which was resumed in the late 1970s to extend the Brisbane Airport. It was never a prosperous area and began life as a a collection of fishing shacks which grew into a small suburb. Its most famous residents were the Gibb brothers who later became the BeeGees.

It is a puzzle why Alice was living on Cribb Island which was quite some distance from Ipswich. Perhaps she was living with family? We might find out one day.

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Real Estate Development Advertisement 1916 (Courtesy bonzle.com)
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Fishing shacks on the foreshore at Cribb Island 1926. (File:StateLibQld 1 118720)

I wonder whether the passengers who made that momentous voyage from England to Australia on board the Duke of Buccleuch in 1883 kept in contact over the years. Likewise, did the passengers keep in touch following the 1911 voyage on the Essex when Alice and Joseph migrated with their baby daughter Lilian Buccleuch Willetts. Maybe, they did and maybe they didn’t. It is interesting to consider how life’s events shape our lives. Alice Buccleuch had a unique start to her life and she faced more difficulties and pain than most during her life. There was so much grief, you wonder how she endured it all. She must have been a strong, resilient woman.

If you have any further information about Alice Buccleuch, I would be interested in hearing from you.

Thanks for reading!

Caravanning … our way, your way, any way

Caravanning can be an economical and interesting way to see a vast country like Australia. We have a caravan and have been fortunate to see a little of this land for ourselves. During our travels, I have made some observations which I want to share as well as  comment on my own experiences.

It seems to me, there are two main types of caravanners – the Grey Nomad and the Holiday Caravanner. Of course, there are variations. These are merely my observations. The Grey Nomads are generally retired couples. They tend to be on the road for months and relocate frequently during this time. However, as they age, they are likely to go to a favourite destination and stay, sometimes, for six months.

On the other hand, the Holiday Caravanners are generally families who go away once, or a few times a year. I believe this group falls in two sub groups. One is the group that I call repeaters, as they return to the same site year after year. Generation after generation, in some cases. The second sub group take their caravan away for holidays but choose different destinations each time.

Caravanners are like caravans. They come in all shapes and sizes. There are the seasoned travelers who have been around Australia a dozen times. They usually have the four wheel drive and the off road caravan. They can tell you all there is to know about any given destination. Then there are the light caravanners, who have a small four cylinder car and a campervan or A-frame van. They have often had a large van but have downsized as they aged. Then there are all those in between. You name it, and there is a caravan to suit you. Unable to decide which caravan, or where to go? There are countless websites and magazines to help you do just that.

Caravanners have their set jobs regarding the work in setting up and packing up. The men generally drive and the women have the job of guiding their spouses on to the caravan site and at the end of the stay, on to the tow ball. Both are fraught with problems. It used to be they used hand directions and some used walkie talkies but more often now they use either phones or many have installed reversing cameras. There is often talk about the fights between spouses regarding this important matter. All sorts of gadgets were invented to assist with guiding caravans on site and onto tow balls. One such device is the CoupleMate Trailer Guide & Lock Tow Ball Hitch caravan ‘Marriage Saver’. I believe they were responsible for saving some marriages.

We are not your typical “Grey Nomads”. While we are both grey, we do not exactly fit the picture. We are sometimes on the road for a month or so and we do sometimes return to favourite destinations, but we also like to go to new places. I confess, I am hopeless at directing my husband onto the caravan site. I try to look like I know what I am doing, but honestly, I am not good at it. So much so, that my husband installed a reversing camera to assist him. He said that I am about as useful as two men away sick. How’s that for a compliment?

I am at my happiest once everything is set up and 4pm rolls around. If you have ever been to a caravan park around that time, you know it is time for drinks and nibbles and chatting with like-minded souls. A scenic location is always a bonus. I think, for me, it is more about the “idea” of caravanning that attracts me. I know that. For those who don’t own a caravan, there is quite a bit of work attached to this form of travel. Packing up the van, setting up the van, packing up the van, setting up the van … I know there are many people who thrive on this activity but sadly, not me. Having said that, when we are set up I like to stay for a while. I don’t like overnight stays very much. Just for the record, I am not anti-caravanning – just realistic.

While we haven’t been all over Australia by caravan, we have seen a few beautiful places. Some that come immediately to mind of which I have pleasant memories are Carnarvon Gorge, Airlie Beach, Sunshine Coast, parts of New South Wales and Victoria. We haven’t ventured west or north of Australia and probably won’t with the caravan. If the photos below don’t give you a clue, well, I like the water. Whether it is the ocean, rivers, pools or lakes. Maybe that is why I like cruising as well.

At the risk of being howled down by the committed Grey Nomads, we will probably fly or take the train to the likes of Darwin and Northern Territory including Alice Springs and Uluru, as well as Perth and Western Australia. We will do it our way. Travel by caravan over vast distances is not for us. My husband says its the whine that develops in the passenger seat after a few hours that puts him off. I’m sure I don’t know what he means…

Caravanning is an interesting and inexpensive way to see a “big” place like Australia, and in your own time. There is plenty of room for all the Grey Nomads (and assorted other travelers). There are many devotees, and they are found in caravan parks and free camping areas all over Australia. Importantly, the freedom of caravan travel allows you to do it your way, or not. It is a great way to see the country and meet some interesting people on the journey. Just make sure you work out the best way to get your caravan on to the site!

You really don’t know who you will meet while traveling (in any form). Another story (or stories) for another time, methinks.

Please let me know about your caravanning experiences. I would love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading my post!

James E Lyle … a lost art

Last week I gave an insight into my Granny Morley (that is my great grandmother, Anna Maria Morley (1873-1958)) and how she influenced her immediate family as well as the legacy she passed on to her descendants. I mentioned that she was the type of person who saw a need and did her best to meet that need. That wasn’t confined to her family alone. One of the ‘needs’ that Granny came across was in the person of James (Jimmy) E Lyle. Jimmy was born in Brisbane, Queensland in 1924. As a child he lived with his family in and around South Brisbane and Wooloongabba. I am unsure how Granny got to know the family as that story seems to be lost in the mists of time.

The story goes that, as a child Jimmy had shown an artistic talent which Granny identified at an early stage. Granny felt so strongly that this talent should be nurtured, she paid for Jimmy to go to art school. Jimmy had a career in art for the rest of his life. He first studied art at the Central Technical College in Brisbane from 1937–39, the Press Art School in London from 1952-53 and The Julien Perren Art Academy in Paris 1953. Jimmy traveled extensively in Europe and England and lived and worked in New Zealand but eventually settled back in his home town, Brisbane. His exhibitions include the Johnstone Gallery, Brisbane, 1948, Auckland Art Gallery, 1958, and International Art Gallery, Brisbane, 1973.

Jimmy also won a number of awards for his paintings, including the Warana Art Award City of Ipswich 1981, and the Cultural Centre Queensland Award in 1982. He worked as a painter, portraitist, commercial artist and graphic designer. In 1957 and 58, Lyle designed three Australian stamps for the Royal Flying Doctor Service and Charles Kingsford Smith. In addition, he designed a Christmas greeting card series while working in New Zealand.

He kept in touch with the Morley family throughout his life and the family were very proud of his achievements. His photo and his paintings were proudly displayed and he was often talked about at family gatherings. Even as I was growing up there would be updates on what Jimmy Lyle was doing. He was family.

As far as I know, Jimmy didn’t marry. By the 1960s, though, he was living in Moorooka, Brisbane, with two family members, Edna and Robert Lyle. This is where he had his studio for many years. As I was researching him I found that he lived on a road, that as a child, our family frequently used. I attended Moorooka State School during my primary school years which was about 2 kilometres away, on that road. In all that time we never realised (at least, I didn’t. My parents may have.) we were driving right past Jimmy’s house – to visit Aunty Elsie and Aunty Vera at Kangaroo Point. I have to admit that I never met Jimmy personally, or if I did, I was too young to remember. Because he was spoken of so often and affectionately, especially by my great aunts, I felt I knew him. There was a photo of a young Jimmy in military uniform that took pride of place in the Morley family home. Sadly, that photo has been lost. Probably for all time. He looked very handsome and had a neatly trimmed moustache. For me, he will always be that young man.

I remember that under Granny’s house, there were some bits of rock in a container. They were very hard and sharp. We were told that Jimmy had climbed the Matterhorn (Switzerland) and chipped off pieces and brought them home to Australia. Not sure whether it is true but it certainly makes a great story, especially to a child.

I am fortunate to now own some of Jimmy’s paintings from when he was quite young (c1934-1938). These pieces and others were proudly hung in the Morley house at Kangaroo Point until the death of my great aunts Elsie and Vera in the late 1980s. Unfortunately, I do not know what happened to the other art works – some still life paintings, the Matterhorn  and pen and ink drawings. Hopefully, they are being enjoyed by other families. Although Jimmy Lyle was a well regarded Brisbane artist, it is difficult to find any reference to him or his art. If you have one of Jimmy Lyle’s painting or drawings, please let me know. I would love to know about it.

It just goes to show that you never know what might come of your actions down the track. I don’t know what Granny thought would happen to the little boy with the budding talent. She just felt he should have some art lessons. Whatever she thought, her actions changed Jimmy’s life forever.

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Untitled, James E Lyle circa 1935. Oil on canvas
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Untitled, James E Lyle circa 1935. Oil on canvas
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Lion and Lioness, James E Lyle circa 1938. Oil on canvas with palette knife, no brush work. Completed when artist was 14 years old.

Influenced by a Family Matriarch?

While rummaging through old photographs left by mother, I came across some that included my great grandmother. It got me thinking about her and my maternal side of the family, and in particular the influence she had on her own children and the ones that came after. So, hopefully my readers will indulge me as I explore (well, ramble really) about what helped to influence me along my life’s journey.

My great grandmother Anna Maria Morley (nee Weinert), was a strong woman with an innate ability to not only see a need but also to meet that need. My personal experience is very limited as I was only four years old when Anna Morley passed away in 1958 at the age of 85. However, some of my memories belie the life she lived. By the time I was born, she was already a very old lady who sat in her red-painted rocking chair and used her walking stick to harass small children. Or so it seemed to me. I recall veering out of range of that walking stick. I am sure she was only trying to attract our attention but to a small child that can be quite scary. As is often the case, people make assumptions about a person’s life based on their limited personal experience. As I grow older I have come to appreciate that what you see at the end of a person’s life can often  bear little resemblance of the life they actually lived. Hence, with more knowledge and understanding I want to share a little of the life of a good but strict woman, Granny Morley.

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Granny Morley aged 83 in 1956 with Margo Jane aged 2 and baby Jennifer Leigh 6 months.

Anna Maria Weinert was born in Brisbane, Queensland in 1873, the third child and second daughter of Carl August Weinert and Christina Catherine Wittmann, both German immigrants. She was 18 when she married 31 year old Edward George Morley on Christmas Eve 1891. Edward was born in Goole, Yorkshire in 1859. He joined the Royal Navy at aged 18 on 3 April 1878 as an Ordinary Seaman and served on several ships during his 10 years service. He left the Royal Navy with the rank of Able Seaman and according to his official record, his character was ‘very good’. In 1889, at the age of 29 he departed England to start a new life in a new land. Edward would never return to England. Anna and Edward were married for 53 years and had seven children.

According to the 1905 electoral rolls, Anna and Edward were living at Stafford Street in East Brisbane with their growing family. They were later to move to 40 Connor Street, Kangaroo Point. Edward’s occupation is recorded as Mariner and he would continue in this employment for the rest of his working life.

Edward worked away at sea for most of their married life and therefore Granny was left to bring up their seven children almost single handedly. I understand that she managed the purchase of the land at Kangaroo Point and the building of the house which still stands today. Granny was not a woman to be messed with. Even though Granny had a large family and a home to run, my mother told me that she was a talented needlewoman and sewed many of the uniforms of her husband’s mariner colleagues. In addition, she was well known in the community for her care of neighbours, friends and family – anyone in need, really. Granny was known for her generosity and hospitality. She was always feeding people. This is something that has been passed down through the generations as my sister and I are also laughingly referred to as “always having enough food to feed the 5th Army!” It is a trait I am proud to have inherited. My daughter-in-law has said that if the local supermarket ran out of food, they could always raid my freezer and pantry. There is always plenty of food in the house!

The Morleys had their share of troubles too. For instance, their 19 year old son, Arthur (Jack) had just passed his teaching exams in 1918 and was about to embark on his career when his appendix burst and he died shortly after. From all accounts he was very bright and had excellent results. Another young person who did not reach their potential.

While Granny was good to her family and neighbours, she was very strict with her children. Even into adulthood. My great aunt Elsie wanted to become a teacher about 1914 but was forbidden as it would have required her to teach in rural areas. An unaccompanied woman in Western Queensland in 1914 was not going to happen. Aunty Elsie went on to have a good job in the Post Master General’s Department where she worked for 47 years, receiving the Imperial Service Medal on her retirement in 1961. Elsie never married but I have been told she was very popular and may have been engaged at one time. Great Aunt Vera was Granny’s youngest child, born in 1907. Vera worked as a sales assistant in her youth but gave up work to nurse her uncle, father and mother in turn. She was wonderful with children. Vera didn’t marry either. The maiden sisters lived together their whole lives and died within a year of each other (Elsie in 1987 and Vera in 1988).

Interestingly, although the Morleys had seven children, only one child, my grandmother, Marjorie, had  three children. Another two of Granny’s children did marry but had no children. Granny’s three grand children were my Uncle Johnnie (1932-1957), my Mother, Jean (1934-2012) and my Aunty Betty (1936-). Marjorie married James Park who was 34 years her senior, in January 1932. James passed away in 1939 at the age of 68, leaving her to raise the children alone. Of course, Granny was there to support them in every way she could. The family visited Granny’s house regularly and she ensured that the family was well cared for. However, another tragedy was to befall the family. Uncle Johnnie had a very bad stutter and suffered ridicule his whole life. As he grew older he drank to help numb the pain. Sadly, aged just 24 in 1957, while on his way home, Johnnie fell out of the tram and was then run over by a truck. In less than a year, Granny, too, had passed away. My grandmother, Marjorie died in 1960 aged only 55. We believe the shock of losing not only her son but also her mother contributed to her early death.

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Granny Morley, my mother Jean, Margo standing and baby Jennifer

With regard to helping out neighbours, Granny came across the Lyle family. One of their sons was a gifted artist and … well that is another post for another day.

Obviously, Granny and Grandfather Morley contributed significantly to our family and the community in which they lived. They worked hard and raised a family. Things were not always easy for them (this applies to most families in any era) but they left an enduring legacy which continues today through me and my children and grandchildren. In particular, I was influenced by a strong woman who overcame adversity and shouldered much of the responsibility in the family and in her pragmatic way helped many people. No one is perfect but when I think of Granny I like to think there is some of her nature in me, just as there is from both sides of my family. Not only that, I believe that I have been influenced by many others such as friends and colleagues. We are all a melting pot of the past, present and our hopes for the future. Please let me know who were and/or are your ‘influencers’. How have you been influenced by your ancestors and others? I would love to hear from you.

By the way, I am ready for when the 5th Army passes my door!

Thanks for reading!

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Granny Morley front left sitting beside Grandfather Morley. Vera holding baby and Elsie standing at the end on right. Circa 1930s

Buccleuch who?

In an earlier post (HMAS Sydney Lost 75 Years Ago) I alluded to the unusual middle name of my 1st cousin 1 x removed, Henry Buccleuch Shipstone. So, for all those wondering, “what the …”, rest easy, all (well, what I believe to be true) will be revealed. If there are any inaccuracies, my apologies in advance. Please set me right (with evidence) in the Comments Section.

We’ll start at the beginning of my line of the Shipstone family in Australia. My great-grandfather, Samuel Henry Shipstone, was born on 16 January 1854, in Star Lane, Bullwell, Nottinghamshire, England to parents John Shipstone and Isabella Glover. At the age of 22 in 1876, Samuel married Frances (Fannie) Burton and in 1881 their son James (Jim) was born. According to the 1881 census records the family was living in Openshaw, Manchester and Samuel was working as a railway wagon maker. By 1883 they had decided, along with many others in Britain, to emigrate to Australia. This was probably due to the recruitment drive by the new Queensland Government to attract families and workers to the new State of Queensland. See Colonial Immigration in Queensland for an overview. So, they packed up their possessions and their small son and boarded the Duke of Buccleuch.

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DUKE OF BUCCLEUCH – iscs 3,099gt 1873 Barrow
Courtesy of National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, United Kingdom (G2228)

You may already know but, on 27 August 1883 the island of Krakatoa, located in Indonesia (formerly the Dutch East Indies) erupted three times on that day. It is considered one of the most deadly volcanic eruptions of modern history and it is believed that more than 36,000 people died due to the subsequent tsunamis following the eruptions. It was a significant global event. See 1883 Krakatoa Eruption for an excellent essay by Monique R Morgan. By October 1883, the Duke of Buccleuch was sailing by Krakatoa on its way to Queensland Australia. The main eruption was over but minor eruptions, mostly of mud, continued.

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Krakatoa eruption 1883 – Image courtesy mentalfloss.com

The eruption of Krakatoa was not the only drama unfolding for the young Shipstone family. Fannie Shipstone had embarked on her journey to Queensland with an extra passenger. Fannie was pregnant and on 19 October 1883 gave birth to their second son. To honour their son’s birth at sea aboard the Duke of Buccleuch, he was named Samuel Buccleuch Shipstone.  In turn, Samuel Buccleuch named his only son similarly, ie, Henry Buccleuch Shipstone.

Family legend held that Fannie had died in child birth and Samuel Henry was left to care for his two young sons. It was further believed that a fellow passenger, Alice Bray, was passing by the cabin when Fannie had “died” and helped out with the children. However, the ship’s records show that Fannie arrived in Brisbane, Queensland in November 1883 with her family. The records showed that Samuel Buccleuch was born on board the vessel and some passengers had died. But not Fannie. The sources show Fannie died and was buried in Brisbane in 1885. That was two years after her alleged death on board the Duke of Buccleuch.

Great story. Just not all true. Interestingly, Alice Bray was to become Samuel’s third wife in 1888 and my paternal great-grandmother. My grandfather, John William (Jack), was the youngest of Samuel Henry and Alice’s six children. I guess that is a story for another day.

(As an aside, while trawling through the shipping lists, I found two other babies were born on the same voyage. What do you know? One of them was named Alice Buccleuch Lake. Might follow that up one day.)

(As a further aside, the Duke of Buccleuch was lost with all hands following a collision with the Canadian vessel Vandalia in the English Channel on 7 March 1889. See Loss of Duke of Buccleuch for an interesting read).

I trust that you are not too confused. Family history takes many twists and turns and I am along for the ride. Have you had any family myths that have been busted? Let me know your story in the Comments Section. I would love to hear from you.

Another Year Over

Well, here we are on the cusp of another new year. I am left wondering what happened to 2016. I am sure we were only celebrating Christmas 2015 and now Christmas 2016 has passed.  New Year’s Eve is here!! It feels as though the older I get the faster the years pass. Looking back on 2016, it has been filled mostly with good times. I have been fortunate to spend time with my children and grandchildren. Times which I cherish. The grandkids are growing up so fast! If only we could keep them little for longer. But, alas, that is not how life works. On the other side, it is great to see them grow up, healthy and happy even though all of them have been through some difficult times in one way or another. Mostly, children are resilient.

When I was young I always envied those “perfect” families. Mum, Dad and the happy, smiling kids. My family was less than perfect. Dysfunctional, you could say. Through the years, though, I have found that most of the “perfect” families were not so perfect afterall. They were just better at hiding their problems. My family’s problems were a little more visible.

On another note, this year I haven’t been able to spend as much time with dear friends as I would have liked. I might be retired, but there are not enough hours in the day to accomplish all that I want to do.  My hope and plan is to rectify that in 2017 and spend more time with friends who are dear to me. For those friends that read my blog, take note. I will be in touch … soon.

I didn’t get to travel as much in 2016 as I would have liked. However, a week in Hong Kong and Macau in April both satisfied and whetted my appetite for travel.

Macau

Hong Kong

My family is at the Sunshine Coast (just north of Brisbane, Queensland) to see in the New Year. We will be having some rest and relaxation at the beach and beside the pool for two weeks. Can’t wait!

As 2016 comes to an end, I wish you all a Happy and Prosperous New Year. One filled with Joy and Hope for a Brighter Future.

Let me know in the Comments Section how you will bring in the New Year. See you in 2017!

Art for Art’s Sake

During the week I caught up with a dear friend for lunch and then a wander through the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art (QAG and GOMA) followed by a brief visit to the Art Gallery. While I am not an art aficionado, I do enjoy art galleries. Whether it is to just wander through, exploring what is there or taking a guided tour which can be so informative.

We started with a lovely lunch, including a glass of wine, at GoMA overlooking the Brisbane River on a warm Brisbane Summer day. Then off to explore the gallery. It was school holidays so the place was a buzz with little people everywhere. For me, that added to the joy. The children enjoyed themselves, taking in the different installations as well the ‘hands on’ experience of creating wonderful things including the white Lego. It is GoMA’s 10th anniversary celebration with the amazing Sugar Spin: You, Me, Art and Everything exhibition which features over 250 contemporary artworks. We wondered about the thought processes that created some of the exhibits and installations. My friend reminded me that what we see on display comes after much planning and a long process, and of course, the inevitable ‘failures’. We only see the successes. As it should be.

A sample of the Sugar Spin installations currently at GoMA.

Art can have a profound affect on people. My spirit is always lifted by the genius that surrounds me. I am always in awe of people who can create beautiful things. Beauty, of course is subjective and definitely in the eye of the beholder. For me, though, it is important to visit galleries including those of modern art. We can become stinted in our world view, when not challenged by the unusual. We may not always ‘like’ what we see in the modern galleries but we need to be exposed to it. Especially children, before they have too much information about what is considered normal or right or good art. Children have that advantage. Minds not clogged with preconceived ideas.

I like to visit all types of art galleries. I have visited some famous galleries such as the Louvre and Prado which house some amazing artworks. Our National Gallery of Australia (NGA) located in Canberra has some great exhibitions. Currently on show is Versailles: Treasures from the Palace which I hope to see before it ends in April 2017. We visited the Palace of Versailles last year but I am sure there will be some ‘real treasures’ at the NGA. If you would like to find out more, see NGA. The Tweed Regional Gallery is fabulous, too, especially since they have recreated the home of the late artist, Margaret Olley. For further information, visit Tweed Regional Gallery. Well worth a visit if you are in the area.

So, for me, I like to think that art and the galleries, affect my thinking and hopefully, push my boundaries. By immersing myself in these artworks, surrounded by the end results of people’s thoughts and talents, that just maybe, some of that will rub off on me.  While I may not understand it all, Art for Art’s Sake is what truly matters.

What is your favourite gallery? What does Art for Art’s Sake mean to you? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks for reading!