Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Hotel des Glaciers, Butlin's or Club Med, your choice!



Hotels seem to be the flavour of this Sepia Saturday month, almost. Of course it is still summer holiday time in the northern hemisphere, unlike down here in Australia where it's rather wild and wintery, and way too chilly for either swimming or sunbaking, but we can look forward to warmer days to come. 

I was looking through my Aunty Pat's postcard collection and came across this one for the Hotel des Glaciers. The hotel address appears in white writing in the grass on the bottom right of the card but I can't quite decipher it ,so I can't be sure whether or not this particular hotel still exists. There are several hotels of the same name in France and Italy but none look quite like this. Most of Aunty Pat's postcards are unused souvenirs, but there are a number that have been sent to her by friends.

 Certainly a beautiful alpine summer scene, in Combloux, Haute Savoie, with Mont Blanc in the distance.  Location discovered thanks to Anne's research below.                        

The note from Pat's friend Margie McP reads as follows:
"Dear Pat, does this make you nostalgic? I spent New Year weekend at the session - the Chalet bursting at the seams with 110 students of 21 nationalities. Your card posted on the board. Thanks so much for yours to me. Are you still hoping to come to the Assembly, or will the Treasury be tough. I hope to see you. Best wishes from Margie McP."

I don't know who Margie was, but I do know that in July 1947 while studying for an MA degree at Oxford, Pat represented New Zealand at a conference of the International Student Service held in Denmark, so I think that this may have been what Margie was referring to, rather than suggesting that Pat might be feeling nostalgic for the Hotel Des Glaciers, where what sounds like a similar conference was taking place in January 1948. Pat had been to Switzerland before in 1946 however, so perhaps she had previously stayed here.  The mail service must have been pretty fast if Margie envisaged that Pat might actually receive the card and be able to come in response to it. In fact, the card had to be re-addressed and forwarded on, as Pat must have moved or changed her mailing address, as was the case with most of Pat's cards, but nevertheless she clearly received them eventually and saved them for posterity.

 The original address that Margie had written was St Anne's Society, Oxford, which was an organisation founded in 1879 and originally called the Society for Home-Students. It was devoted to the emancipation of women students who could not afford to live in college but still wished to study at Oxford. Pat and other young women in the same situation would have lived in lodgings across the city and been able to attend lectures and tutorials with the assistance and encouragement of the Society. In 1952 a wealthy benefactor who believed in the education of women left her estate to St Anne's, and as a result it eventually became a full college. You can read more about the Society's history on the web site of St Anne's College.

Pat went on to work in Geneva later in 1948 for the International Student Service.  I've previously written a tribute to her life achievements here. When my parents and I spent a year in Cambridge in 1954, Pat was back in New Zealand, although she subsequently returned to Geneva to work for another international organisation there a few years later. Finances of such organisations were no doubt stretched, and Pat may not have been able to join Margie on that occasion. When travelling for work she frequently stayed at the homes of the many friends she had made around the world. 

Now we move on to a different kind of hotel, contrasting in both style and location. While living in Cambridge in 1954, my parents went to London to see the musical "The King and I", starring Herbert Lom and Ann Martin, at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, and my mother Jean saved the theatre programme, price 6d, in her scrapbook of our 1954 trip. It includes the following advertisement for Butlin's Ocean Hotel at Saltdean near Brighton. That establishment ceased operating at the end of 2004, but back in 1954 it was in its prime. It had just re-opened as a holiday hotel under the ownership of Billy Butlin in 1953, after having been commandeered by the government during the second World War. You can see photos and read more about it here on a page entitled Butlin's Memories. The advertisement seems primarily directed at men and only refers to women as an afterthought, but I guess that was simply a reflection of the way society viewed the relative positions of men and women back in the fifties. "You're the man paying for it all", as a cafe proprietor once said to my husband years ago! Women were not left out however, with another advertisement in the programme entitled 'The King and You' addressed directly to them, claiming that in his kingdom of the home, Mr Therm would save them work, worry and money.

Did this man leaping around or lazing about have no family to worry about? The advertisement doesn't mention their possible existence.

Herbert Lom, from the Theatre Royal programme

A package holiday at a Butlin's style hotel doesn't sound ideal to me and I've never been to one, but perhaps a week at Club Med could be viewed as an upmarket version of the same concept. We were lucky enough to be able to stay at Club Med in Wengen, Switzerland as part of a trip overseas in January 1993. All meals, entertainment and activities such as skiing lessons were included, which definitely made for a more relaxing holiday with children. One of our boys can be seen sitting on the snow in the centre of this shot taken in front of the Club hotel, prior to the start of lessons. He and the others all went on to become good skiers, unlike their mother, who never really got the hang of it. On the other hand, after giving up on the ski lessons, I was able to take a spectacular train journey through an underground tunnel up to the summit of the Jungfrau mountain and view the Eiger Glacier en route. Jungfraujoch railway station is the highest in Europe.

Australian ski fields have had good falls this season with more snow expected, but I'm not tempted! 



Postscript: Yes Gail, we do get snow in Australia. I've mentioned it in an earlier blog entitled What's that Funny White Stuff?, but here are a couple more photos to prove it, taken on family ski holidays at Perisher NSW in the mid 1990s.

                                  

                                                          


For more blogs on themes such as hotels, holidays, fancy designs and nostalgia from the past, head for Sepia Saturday # 290 , 

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Beach baby, beach baby, give me your hand





Our Sepia Saturday prompt for this week is a photograph of  Bondi Beach, Sydney Australia in 1908.  Below are two photographs of Bondi, c. 1948, from my Aunty Pat's postcard collection.  As you can see in Pat's first photograph, there was a lot of development around the beach foreshores in the forty years between these photographs and the first image, and not a lot of it was particularly attractive architecture, although it has been smartened up a bit in more recent years.  There are no longer any sand dunes but the beach sand itself is much improved, compared with 1908 when it looked to have been rather rocky in the foreground.



This view is taken from the opposite direction, showing the Bondi Surf Club on the right and the southern headland.


Early family life in Bondi

We moved from Canberra to Sydney in April 1980 when our first child Claire was two months old, and for the following two years we rented a little semi-detached cottage in the suburb of Rose Bay, within walking distance of Bondi Beach. Bondi wasn't really our favourite local beach because it is fairly exposed and always crowded, plus the fact that there was always a lot of litter in the sand, for example cigarette butts, discarded straws, bottle tops, ring pulls etc, that babies love to pick up and put in their mouths in an instant, but still, it was our closest beach. Some weekend evenings we would drive over to the shopping strip above Bondi Beach and queue up for some good local fish 'n chips. It was also fun to join the crowds admiring the lavish window displays of the many European style cake shops and to occasionally lash out on one or two slices of their luscious slices in a takeaway box for dessert back at home. Below are a couple of collages showing Claire growing up on Bondi Beach.

Clockwise from top left: Sitting on the promenade wall at 6 months, August 1980; trying out the toddlers' pool at 10 months, North Bondi December 1980; stepping out at a year old and taking a different view of the beach, February 1981


           Clockwise from top right: Easter 1981 (x 2); 18 months, rugged up on the sand at Bondi in August 1981; on the grass above the beach at the annual Festival of the Winds in September 1981; back on the beach, 2 years old and ready for a surf, February 1982
             
In May 1982 we bought a house in Turramurra, a suburb about 20 kilometres north of the city centre and so we moved away from Rose Bay. Of course we came back now and again to visit friends but we were no longer close to Bondi.  It was much easier to drive to Sydney's northern beaches such as  Dee Why which I've mentioned in an earlier post, or up to other beaches on the Central Coast than to face the traffic chaos that often occurred on the Sydney Harbour Bridge,  although we still did so occasionally in order to reach our old favourite southern beaches such as Bondi, Coogee and Bronte, which I've  also blogged about here previously.


A very well-known Australian photographer called Max Dupain took many famous photographs of Bondi,  including one which you can see here, simply entitled Bondi 1939. I once attempted a poor imitation of it, and  I must admit my shot was not even taken at Bondi, but was on the Central Coast, c. 1993. 




The following photo was taken on the steps of the Bondi Surf Club by my mother, after my husband had taken part in the annual City to Surf 14 km fun run. The pounding mass of runners used to charge past the top of the street where we previously lived, and parking would have been so much easier, if only we still lived there. The first City to Surf Fun Run took place in 1971 and will be held again in 2 weeks' time, on 8 August. In the local runners' group of which we were members in Turramurra, a number of people were proud to say they had participated every year since 1971. I even managed it myself half a dozen times in the past, mostly walking I confess, as I'm not a runner and it's a very hilly course. One year I took a series of photos en route  using my then very basic phone camera. They are not worth showing here as they are only pixelated printouts, but my caption of the last photo looking down on Bondi Beach reads:"The best view is at the end".  Unfortunately from that point the finish line is still about a kilometre away!

With over 80000 entrants already registered this year, the City to Surf claims to be the biggest event of its kind in the world, and with so many runners and walkers plus crowds of spectators and supporters lining the route, it will be no doubt be practically impossible to move anywhere around Bondi that day, even on foot! Afterwards people can have trouble getting back home, as the nearest train station is several kilometres away and they have to either line up in very long queues and then pile into buses, or alternatively toil uphill to the Bondi Junction station. The Bondi tram ceased running in 1960, but in any event it never could have coped with these numbers! Some runners cool down afterwards with an ocean swim, but not too many as it is winter of course. Sydney winter temperatures could well reach the low to mid 20s on a sunny day however, and there will always be hardy locals who swim the length of the beach each day, plus visiting international  tourists taking the plunge, just so they can say they've swum at the famous Bondi Beach.  We haven't taken part for over 10 years now, and hope to be relaxing on a beach somewhere on the Queensland Sunshine Coast on City2Surf Day this year, 9 August 2015.

                                                                  City to Surf August 1984

   Proof of completion: a slimmer, curlier me after my first City to Surf, 1998. My bib entry number was      probably also about where I came in the race result as well!
                                                 
                      


                      
Back for another Festival of the Winds at Bondi in 1995, with views showing both ends of the beach.



You might like to click here for an interesting site on the history and development of Bondi, including photographs.


I could have included a clip of the American group First Class singing their hit song 'Beach Baby, Beach Baby' in 1974, but instead thought you might enjoy this one filmed on Bondi Beach. The guy who starts it off is a rather unlikely looking dancer, but still, he carries it off quite well!

                                                             
That's enough from me, but for more beach photographs worldwide, just click here and dip your toe in at  Sepia Saturday # 289,

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

This little piggy went to market, this little piggy stayed home ...







A butcher's shopfront with all the carcasses hung up on display is our theme photo for this week. I had a three times great grandfather in Manchester who was apparently a butcher, but I don't have any photos, not surprisingly. I do have some more recent pictures of pigs of various kinds however. 

The first rather dim photo below is of a sow and some piglets at the Hereford livestock market. The old market used to be held every week in the city centre, but no longer exists there, having been moved in 2011 to a new custom-built but characterless market area on the outskirts of the city. I took this photo on my little Instamatic camera without flash back in 1976, when we stayed with my husband's family on their property called Yew Tree Farm in the village of Clehonger, a few miles outside Hereford. Uncle Cyril kept sheep, cows and pigs at that time, and one morning we went along to the market with him to deliver some pigs that he had fattened up ready for sale. I don't think the pigs in this photo were his, as he didn't have a sow, and these look like piglets that he might have bought to replace the ones he sold. We all know what they were destined to become, but can only hope they had a happy life beforehand.   Our English son-in-law was once told by his French boss that no, he  could not call him by his nickname "because they did not raise pigs together"!  

After Grandma, Doris Olds, died in 2004 one of the fields had to be sold to pay inheritance tax on her estate, five new houses were built there and the old piggery was demolished, but in any event Cyril hadn't kept pigs there for many years. Cyril's tractor stands idle in one of his old greenhouses, as he too passed away last year.  We've visited the farm many times since 1976, but you can click here to see a photo of Doris and Cyril taken there on the same trip. 

                                      


This next photo, while neither sepia nor old, is not altogether dissimilar in a way to the prompt photo. I took it last year at the fresh food markets of La Boqueria in central Barcelona, and see that the name of the stall is Can Vila. I don't know if they also displayed whole carcasses as well as legs of ham, but they sure had pork of all kinds. I took the photo for the brass pig as much as the display! On the side block were very interesting contraptions for slicing ultra thin samples of the different  hams.  It is a fascinating market to visit, if you are ever in Barcelona.

                                 


Now for the tale of the little piggy who stayed home, or at least wanted to find a good home.  This next photo was sent to me by my daughter Laura in her classroom last year, showing her holding a little piglet that one of the children had brought in for 'show and tell' one day. It does look very cute.



A couple of months ago Laura and her husband bought a similar pig. Pedigree miniature pigs are raised to be kept purely as  pets. They are friendly and intelligent, can be taught to come when called and taken for walks on leads like dogs, obey simple commands and be house trained. They can live for up to 15 years.  The pig in the collage pictures below was initially called PJ, but was renamed Miss Peggy. She is about 8 months old and weighs 50 kilos, so not that miniature, really.  Unfortunately after about six weeks Laura and John decided they couldn't keep her, as she was doing her best to dig up a the extensive backyard that they had put a lot of work into creating, and while they have 40 acres in total, they couldn't just let her run free, so they regretfully put her up for sale online. She quickly went to a new home, but the very next day the buyers brought her back, claiming she had bitten one of her new owners. This was a bit hard to believe, but Laura and John resignedly put her up for sale again, and this time she was bought by a family with two little girls who were very excited to have her, and Miss Peggy became Peppa. Sad to say however, within only a few days she was on the market yet again, because apparently the family ponies didn't get on with her. Perhaps they will get used to her. I hope she finds someone who will give her a permanent home soon, as the poor thing has now had at least five different owners in her short life, like a live token in a game of Pass the Pigs. Still on the market, last time I checked, so if you live within cooee of outer Melbourne, have a spare $150 and want a pet pig, Miss Peggy could be yours!

Pig in clover, if only for a short time. Miss Peggy and dog Shelley got on ok after a few initial skirmishes and were taken for daily walks together.


I'll finish off with this photo I took in 2010. My mother and I were aboard a cruise ship that was sailing around New Zealand and was docked for the day in the port of Auckland, and I spotted this piggy sculpture on the balcony of a dockside unit,gazing across at the ship, as if wishing it were free to sail away with us, rather than remain tied up there.  At least it would never be sent to market!





Now trot along to the market that is Sepia Saturday #288 yourselves, where you can find more blogs possibly related to pigs, shops and other items of interest that may or may not be relevant to this week's prompt.


Postscript:
I usually try to stick to just my own family photos in my blog, whether historical or not, but if I had wanted to look at butcher shops in my local area, I see that my local library has photos in its historical photo catalogue like these for example, showing past butchers in Stonnington, all wearing those trademark striped butchers' aprons:





Thursday, 9 July 2015

Is it home time yet?



The prompt photograph for Sepia Saturday #287 features a group of very solemn looking students. Clearly posing for photographs was a serious business and smiling was not the done thing whenever this photograph was taken.  This made me think of my parents' school photographs taken in the era of the 1930s and 1940s.


This first photograph is of my father and his 48 classmates in Standard 1 at Rangiora Borough School,NZ, 1932. My father Ian Cruickshank is lying in the front row, 5th from left.  I don't know for sure if this is all one class but that was quite likely the case. The pupils would have been around the age of 7-8 at this time. The girl in the spotted dress in the 3rd row is smiling, and a couple of other children have the glimmer of a smile, including my father, but the great majority of the others are downright scowling and certainly look like they are not enjoying their school days at all. All except one have been identified by staff at the local Rangiora museum and their names are attached to the photograph, but I won't include them here, as I know at least 3 of them are still with us, now aged in their early 90s.

Ian Cruickshank aged 8

The next photograph shows a tall 16 year old Ian standing out 'above the crowd' in the centre of the back row in this Lower 5th Form class at Rangiora High School in 1940. A few of the students including Ian still have fairly serious facial expressions but more are smiling overall. That folded arms pose seems to be de riguer for the boys.



Two years later and it's a very small and seriously focussed class remaining in 6th Form, 1942. Only those wishing to go on to university would have stayed on to complete this final education year.  These days Rangiora High is a big school and no doubt there is a substantial group of students in Form 6, or Year 13 as it is now known. Ian was inspired to study science by his science master at Rangiora High, and after he passed away in 2000, wife Jean endowed an annual prize at the school in his name for promising science students. Hopefully Ian would have approved of this as a suitable memorial to his life and work as a research scientist.






The Rangiora School held its 125th Jubilee reunion in 1998 and my father attended the event, although  he really didn't enjoy it, as he didn't remember anyone from such a long time ago, having left the country in 1956 and having little or no contact with any of the other students since.  He appears in a photograph taken at the reunion, although his name was omitted from the identification list that comes with it, which perhaps confirms that other attendees from his year did not remember him either.

In the Jubilee photograph above, the unlisted 74 year old Ian is wearing a blue shirt and cream jacket on the far right of the second row. There are 14 of his former classmates identified in the photograph, but only one other gentleman amongst them, also named Ian, standing 5th from left in the second row in 1932, and 5th from left in the back row in 1998, and he is one of the three who to my knowledge are still with us. Of course some others may not have been interested or their whereabouts may have been unknown.  A number of the other people here appear younger and perhaps this group photo represents a decade of students. 900 old students in total attended the Jubilee.  At least most of Ian's cohort look happier than they did in 1932!  It's not too difficult to discover whether a certain individual has died in NZ, because if they were aged 80 or over, their name and date of birth then instantly appears in the historical death index. This means for example that from 2004 onwards the index will include the names of anyone born in 1924 who died at any date thereafter. On the other hand, the name of my uncle who died in 1994 aged 56 will not appear in the index until 25 November 2017, being the date that he would have turned 80.  Of course this doesn't apply to those few like Ian who left the country and never returned.




Here's my mother, Jean Morrison as she then was, aged 10  at Somerfield School, Christchurch NZ in Standard 4, 1936. Little Jeannie doesn't look particularly happy here, 5th from left in the second row practically being elbowed out by neighbouring girls, and those two standing above with arms folded masculine style look particularly menacing. Always a small child, Jean was victimised by both the teacher  and the other girls. Understanding that Jean was not enjoying school in these circumstances, her sympathetic mother Mona arranged for her to change schools.


Jean Morrison, 2nd row centre

 Jean was much happier at Cashmere School, even if she doesn't really look that way. Here in a combined group of Standard 5-6 pupils in 1937, she is seated second from left in the front row. The row of boys with arms folded generally look to be older than those in the back row. Smiles are more common in this photograph, but they are not yet universal. 


At Christchurch Girls High in 1940, being a member of the C tennis team was clearly no laughing matter, although Jean at far right looks slightly bemused all the same. She enjoyed playing tennis.



Now here is a photograph from my father-in-law Bob Featherston's collection, showing him with his fellow boy scout troop members, displaying a trophy they had won. Folded arms was the preferred pose here too, in about 1930/31. Bob joined the scouting movement in 1929 aged 12 and progressed to became a Queen's Scout.  Here he is standing on the far left at the back, trying his best to look stern and serious, as are the other members of the 1st Barwon Troop. 


Certificate of Admission as a scout

Robert Featherston, Queen's scout



Now for a troupe of a different kind, here is a postcard produced by W.H. Duncan,15 Anlaby Road, Hull, showing a rather unsmiling group of girls of all ages from a dance school with two of their teachers. I think the little girl in front, just right of centre, is my mother-in-law Mary Featherston, then Mary Olds. She's not the smallest member of the troupe, but almost. Mary herself is not sure, but perhaps someone can identify her from the sweet individual photograph below. She must only have been about 5 or 6 at the time, in about 1930/31, around the same time as her future husband Robert Featherston was engaged in his scouting pursuits. Mary modestly says that she was not very good at dancing, and only did it for a little while, until her father Frank Olds decided that there was too much travelling involved. Her mother Doris didn't drive, so unless the dancing school had a bus, Frank would have had to take Mary to perform at the various venues around the countryside. The family lived in Hull, where Frank worked in the Civil Service, Ministry of Labour.



Today as I write this, 8 July 2015, little Mary is 90 years young, and has had a very enjoyable time receiving cards, flowers, gifts and messages of  congratulations and well wishes. She's not up to dancing these days but is still smiling and still managing to live on her own in the house that she and Bob moved into in 1959. I've mentioned Mary and included other photographs of her and Bob in previous blogs, for example here and here

This photograph was taken today by her granddaughter Josie. Happy Birthday Mary! 





For more group photographs of serious people and otherwise, just take a trip over to Sepia Saturday #287. No smiling, mind!
















Saturday, 4 July 2015

Something fishy




I was doubtful whether I had anything worthwhile to contribute this week, hence my lateness, but after reading a few other people's blogs I've decided to show you this photo from my mother Jean's album. It was taken in December/January 1946, while twenty year old Jean was on a working holiday at Te Mahia in the Marborough Sounds, which are located at the top end of the South Island of New Zealand. The photo appears on a page entitled 'Another Launch Trip' and is simply labelled 'Our Fish'. All the ladies look delighted with it, including Jean on the left holding part of the line, although I have no idea what kind of fish it might have been. It certainly doesn't look very big, but I guess it is the thrill of the catch rather than the size of the fish that is important. The deep waters of the Sounds are a very scenic area and from this and other photos it looks like Jean and the other staff members had fun participating in various outdoor activities during their time off. Jean was working as a housemaid, and recalled being quite shocked when one male guest appeared stark naked when he answered her room service knock on his door. He may have preferred a different kind of service, but she was not offering that kind of thing!



Speaking of delighted expressions related to catching fish, here are a couple of photos from my own collection, taken in 1990 when we visited a fish hatchery at Snobs Creek near Lake Eildon in Northern Victoria, and the children were able to try to fleetingly catch some very slippery fingerlings. I can assure you, no fish were hurt in the process, and they all got away! Salmon, brown and rainbow trout and other species are raised here to restock waterways for anglers.





If you want to see what the Te Mahia resort looks like these days, click here, where you can also see a photo of a couple of fellows who have scored much larger catches. I have a distant cousin in Auckland NZ who operates a fishing store and deep sea fishing charter business, called Just Another Fisherman, but must admit I'm not tempted to take a trip.

Postscript:
I just remembered this dear little clay box in the shape of a fish that my sister Louisa made and gave me many years ago. It's kept in the writing desk and used for keeping paper clips.  Not a fish sketch, or a print, but close!




Other takes on this week's prompt can be found here at Sepia Saturday #286 

Thursday, 25 June 2015

From the historic to the hypothetical, with a brief motel stop alongthe way




This week's Sepia Saturday prompt photograph shows the Chittenden Hotel in Columbus Ohio. I have no idea what it was like inside but appears to have been a  large establishment that was demolished in 1979. I can't claim to have stayed in many grand hotels, and really they are not my style in any event, but the prompt reminded me of two that I've had the pleasure of visiting. Here are a couple of relevant memories, together with some references to the history of the hotels.

The Australia Hotel in Castlereagh St Sydney was very much a grand hotel in its time. I stayed there on the night of 9 December 1969, just eighteen months before it closed for good and was demolished to make way for a 35 storey skyscraper known as the MLC Centre. I had never stayed anywhere like it before, and was most impressed, although it wasn't a planned stay, as the following article explains. I was one of the group of school students aged between 16 and 17 who had been awarded exchange scholarships by the Goethe Institute and were headed to what was then West Germany for three months. Our families had farewelled us and we were among the 72 passengers aboard a Boing 707 that was flying over the middle of Australia, when part of a wheel belonging to our plane was found on the tarmac back in Sydney. As reported in the article below, the pilot made the decision to turn back, rather than attempt a night landing in Djakarta. This was my first independent trip without family, and could well have been my last, but thankfully my number wasn't up that day, and I'm here to tell the tale. Our plane landed safely and as the article relates, we were put up at the Australia and the Menzies, another prestigious city establishment. We departed afresh the next day, with no further problems. I see from a scrapbook I put together afterwards that there were a lot of stops en route. After Djakarta the plane landed for refuelling in Singapore, Bangkok and Karachi, and we then enjoyed a five day stopover in Rome before flying into a snowy Frankfurt. From there we went our separate ways to meet up with our host families. The Felix family with whom I was billeted lived in Solingen, a centre for knife and cutlery manufacture, between Cologne and Dusseldorf, and I had a wonderful time there.


                 


 Incidentally, Lufthansa and a number of other European airlines no longer fly out of Australia, finding it more economical to code share the first leg with other airlines such as Qantas.


I didn't take any photographs of the Australia Hotel at the time or even manage to pick up a postcard. Being a rather naive 17 year old I knew nothing about the hotel or its history and was probably a little overwhelmed in all the circumstances, and after all, our trip hadn't really gone anywhere, but I do remember sharing a room with one or two other girls. Our group and chaperones had dinner and breakfast together in a very large and well-appointed dining room, which was probably the Winter Garden, and I vaguely recall being astonished by the grand sweeping staircase. These and other features are described in this Wikipedia article. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hotel_Australia

 Here is an old photograph of the Australia, courtesy of the web site of the State Library of NSW.

The Australia Hotel c.1910


                                   

A photograph of the Australia Hotel, from the souvenir program of the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, 1932.

 You can read about the hotel's history and see other photographs of it and of various celebrity guests who stayed there in its heyday here on the Sydney Architecture web site. The hotel was opened in 1891 and the actress Sarah Berhardt arrived with 100 pieces of luggage to perform at the opening. Over the years it was the setting for countless formal company and official dinners, launches, fashion parades and other important events. In 1949 the ballroom was the site of the first successful demonstration of television in Australia. Here is a quote from the Royal Australian Historical Society:

 Sydney's premier hotel for many years, the 'Australia' 
         was one of an international standard of comfort and service. 

         Sarah Bernhardt registered as the first guest on the first day 

of opening. One lady stayed there for 31 years.
Apart from the accommodation for guests, rooms
were also provided for their servants including the
children's nurses who had their own dining room with their charges.



This photograph from Wikipedia shows how the hotel entrance must have appeared when I was there, complete with a demolition notice posted on one of those substantial marble columns.  They look so solid but sadly their days were numbered. Sydney's heritage buildings were woefully decimated during a commercial development boom during the 1970s.  The Royal Australian Historical Society placed one of its historic green plaques on the site where the Australia Hotel stood, but sadly that plaque and quite a few others now appear to have gone missing. It doesn't show much respect for history by whoever is responsible for removing such plaques.


                                         

                                    

A current photo of the MLC Centre, the building that replaced the Australia Hotel. The entire hotel could have comfortably fitted within its forecourt. Both that area and the  MLC Tower are currently undergoing some kind of renovation work, but I doubt it's about to be torn down any time soon.

      The other grand hotel that I've been privileged to stay in was the Willard in Pennsylvania Ave, Washington DC. It was April 2005 and we had arrived around 6 a.m., because our flight from Los Angeles had been delayed some eight hours due to a bird strike, but after a few hours' sleep in a very comfortable bed we were revived and ready to look around the city. Over the next few days while my husband was attending a conference at the Willard, I was free to take in all the famous sights. 

I found this postcard for sale online, showing the Willard Hotel, c. 1936.


I took the following photograph from the top of the Old Post Office Tower, looking down Pennsylvania Avenue towards the White House, and it and the next photograph bear out the claim on the card that the Willard lies between the Capitol and the White House. The Willard is the white building second from right, with the flag on top. The White House is in amongst the trees, beyond the building with Grecian columned front.  Once again, I don't seem to have taken any other photographs of the hotel or have bought a postcard, but inside it was very richly furnished and ornately decorated.
       
   
        The view in the opposite direction, looking up Pennsylvania Ave towards the Capitol:


Despite the sumptuousness of our accommodation, I did have one small quibble during our four night stay.  Here in Australia a bar fridge is provided as standard equipment in every hotel and motel room. It may either come prestocked or be empty for guests' personal supplies. When I bought some milk and made room for it in the crowded 'fridge' in our room at the Willard, I was rather shocked to discover the next day that because I had unwittingly rearranged some of the stocked soft drinks, they had been instantly and automatically registered on our account. Clearly that electronically programmed drinks receptacle was not a bar fridge for the convenience of guests at all, but rather was only to encourage them to purchase drinks at inflated hotel prices!  Happily the charge was reversed after I apologised for my error in not having read the fine print. 

I can recommend a very interesting and informative online article with drawings and photographs relating the illustrious history of the Willard Hotel by Elizabeth Smith Brownstein. The first hotel was constructed on the site in the 1850s. The Willard was threatened with demolition on several occasions, and in 1968 it was closed without warning for 18 years, but unlike the Chittenden and the Australia Hotel, it was eventually saved from that fate. Extensive restoration, renovation and refurbishment in the late 1980s saw the Willard reopened and restored to its former glory.

Here's a quote from the Willard Intercontinental website, referring to some of its famous guests: 

A most celebrated historic Washington DC hotel, the Willard InterContinental Washington, has been the focal point for elegant dinners, meetings, and gala social events for more than 150 years. An institution, this grand Washington DC historic hotel has hosted almost every U.S. president since Franklin Pierce in 1853. On August 28, 1963, the Reverend Martin Luther King finished his famous “I Have A Dream” speech while a guest at the Willard. Other notable guests have included Charles Dickens, Buffalo Bill, David Lloyd George, P.T. Barnum, Lord and Lady Napier, and countless others. Walt Whitman mentioned the hotel in his works; and Mark Twain penned two books here in the early 1900s. Throughout the ages, no phrase has raised eyebrows like “I’m staying at the Willard.”
The Banquet Room, photograph from Willard Hotel web site



Back home to more mundane life in suburban Melbourne, where this sign and the shell of the surrounding structure are all that remains of the original Oakleigh Motel, which in 1957 was the first motel to be built in Victoria. The sign is heritage protected but there is no longer any motel attached, just an unconnected new  residential unit development. Some people feel that the National Trust has failed in its duty here in not preserving the building intact, but I have my doubts as to whether we should protect things just because they were the first of their kind, when they possibly have no other architectural merit. You can judge for yourself from the second and third photographs from the Photosearch collection of the National Archives of Australia, showing the motel in operation in 1959. Motels like this are still very popular accommodation in this country as in the US, especially for travelling families and anyone reluctant to pay city hotel prices.




                             

                             


                         Finally, here is an example of what might be called a hypothetical hotel.




This looks like a hotel, doesn't it? But perhaps the fact that it is standing out on its own on the edge of a highway might raise a doubt, and in fact this is not somewhere you could check into. In reality it is just a giant folly, built to resemble a hotel. Click here to read a piece by its creator, artist Callum Morton.  At 20 metres high it's pretty realistic, and some of the windows even light up at night for its nonexistent occupants. It's constructed beside a 39 km tollway called Eastlink, which connects the north eastern Melbourne suburb of Donvale with the southern suburb of Frankston on the Mornington Peninsula. There are a number of other roadside scupltures to divert drivers on the otherwise fairly boring commute, including for example this giant bird pecking at a worm. 

                             
                                                      Photograph from Visual City  website.

For more blogs on hotels and other matters, just check in to Sepia Saturday #285
 where you can dine out on a virtual smorgasbord of photographs and ideas, but no bar fridge provided, so it's BYO drinks!