Google+ Followers

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Two quartets plus a flashback

I wasn't planning to contribute this week, as I'm heading for England tonight, but I seem to be more or less packed, so I have a few minutes to post something after all. As usual, my mother's scrapbooks and albums are a virtual goldmine of old photos and postcards. In her book on our trip to the UK in 1953 I came across a little drop down folder of photos from Turriff Aberdeenshire, from which I've clipped these four shots. The folder has the name of the local chemist George Cruickshank on it. Either he took the photos and had them made up into a folder, or perhaps individual businesses could order folders to be printed with their particular name at the top.  We stayed a night or two in Turriff with George, who was a second cousin of my great grandfather Charles Murray Cruickshank. I've previously written a little about Turriff then and now, and posted a couple of photos of George outside his shop. The district around Turriff was the home of our mutual ancestor Adam Cruickshank, who was buried in Turriff Kirkyard in 1781.

 It's probably only the people and cars that have really changed in Turriff, the old buildings and wide streets still look much the same. George's chemist shop in the main street is run by one of his grandsons, and the photographic studio across the street is operated by another grandson.

I also found this postcard of the sights of Liverpool purchased on the same trip, with four photos plus a fifth one inserted in the centre  of the group. I think the central shot rather detracts from the others by hiding parts of them.

 Then there's a separate postcard of the fountain that's shown in the top right hand corner, described as the entrance to the Mersey Tunnel, which is also the description given for the shot in the bottom left, seen from a different aspect

 Part of the reason for our visiting Liverpool in 1954 was to meet the mother of Sergeant W. (Bill) Bailey, one of the crew of seven airmen killed along with my uncle Ken, when their plane was shot down over Wuppertal Germany in WW2. In this crew photograph, Bill is second from left, with Ken in the centre of the group. Mrs Bailey kindly gave me a sweet little doll called Kaye, with moving arms and legs and blinking eyes. I still have her, currently hidden away in at the top of a wardrobe.

Flashback:  I really should have found those two Liverpool postcards back in December, as they match the photo of central Liverpool that served as the theme for #Sepia Saturday 207.

Unfortunately I won't get to see those sights and sounds of Liverpool on this trip, but who can forget this classic from Gerry and the Pacemakers?  I haven't checked whether anyone posted it for #SS 207, but never mind, you can always see it again. 

That's it, gotta fly, but  for more photographic quartets, just click here

From good gardening stock

Although not a great gardener myself, I do come from good gardening stock and have found a few photographs to prove it.  The first one shows my great grandfather Thomas Byles and his daughter Myrtle Cruickshank, displaying their abundant garden produce in the late 1940s. Thomas seems to have been an interesting character. I've related his story in an earlier blog which you can check out here.I believe he lived with Myrtle and her husband Oliver Cruickshank in his later years, so of course Oliver probably had a hand in this garden too. Myrtle must have been flat out making pumpkin soup or whatever with all that lot, or perhaps she sold or gave away a fair amount to friends and neighbours.

Thomas died in 1951 aged 88. Sad to say that despite all those healthy vegetables, Myrtle only survived her father by eight years, passing away at 65 from bowel or stomach cancer in 1959.


The next photo taken in 1958 shows Myrtle's son Ian and granddaughter Joanna admiring the very tall sunflower that I'd apparently grown at our Canberra home in about 1958. We can't see the colour of the sunflower so you'll just have to imagine it.  I assume it was yellow but it might not have been (see below). Ian didn't see his mother again after we left NZ in 1956. 

Jack and the beanstalk?
Ian's life's work was that of a scientist, specialising in research into plant diseases, and he was also a keen vegetable and fruit tree grower himself, when he wasn't off at work experimenting in his lab. Those experiments often called for late night lab visits, in order to give his numerous trays of pea specimens another drop each of the specially formulated test solution and graph the results.

Ian's wife Jean in the well-tended garden of our home in O'Connor Canberra, c. 1973. I think those flowers are chrysanthemums, not sunflowers.

Jean's father Jack Morrison also loved gardening.  I've previously featured photos of both Jack and Oliver Cruickshank weeding. Here's Jack sitting relaxing for a minute or two on a seat amongst his flowering shrubs, in February 1965, according to this helpfully dated snap.

and in the early 1970s, he's working away in his Christchurch garden with the help of two young grandchildren. Their father Peter was Jack's youngest son.

In 1976  we visited my husband's relatives on their property called Yew Tree Farm, near Hereford in England. Here are his uncle Cyril and grandmother Doris Olds {nee Newth) at work in the family apple orchard. We helped them to fill sacks with windfall apples, that would then be collected by Bulmers and made into scrumpy. The trees are still there but these days they don't really produce very much fruit. 

Doris's beautiful garden that you can catch glimpses of below provided an attractive park-like setting for the very English garden party celebration of her 100th birthday in 2003, which we were lucky enough to be able to attend. Here's Doris and her #100 balloon, with great granddaughter Claire and yours truly. The shawl over Doris's shoulders was our present to her, made by yours truly, of Tunisian crochet. I made several shawls around that time but have since totally forgotten how to do it! Claire's new baby Isabelle whom we are presently visiting in London is Doris's first great great grandchild. I'm sure Doris would have loved to meet her.

We went back to NZ on holiday last year, and I took a couple of shots of the impressive greenhouse and garden cultivated by Cruickshank descendant Helen and her husband Frank at their farm in the South Island. Helen told me that she and her husband planted out over sixty tomato plants last summer, and as a result had large quantities of tomatoes to turn into sauce, pickles and chutney for family, friends and her church stall, plus plenty of other vegetables as well. 


My sister Louisa has definitely inherited the family green thumb from her father Ian, grandparents Oliver, Myrtle and Jack, and great grandfather Thomas. Here's a collage of her photos, showing scenes of bountiful produce at the community garden near Kerikeri in the far north of NZ, of which she is a member.

 In return for a morning's work each week, everyone gets a substantial weekly box of vegetables to take home.

Louisa's home garden is pretty impressive too. It probably helps that she works at a garden centre several days a week. Here are a just a few shots of it, including both red and yellow sunflowers loved by the bumblebees, and my daughter Laura admiring one of them on a visit from Australia. Louisa no doubt harvests the sunflower seeds. Beautiful Monarch butterflies are regular visitors to the swan plants in her garden, as seen below.

I'll finish with an appropriate garden song from the late great Pete Seeger:

Now flit on over to Sepia Saturday 224 for more Sepian takes on this week's gardening theme. 

Best wishes for a very happy Easter from the bilbies in my autumnal garden. Bilbies look a little like bunnies, but are a native Australian marsupial threatened with extinction, unlike rabbits that can quickly take over the countryside in plaque proportions, and in the process compete with the bilbie for food and habitat. For a little information about Bilbies and the campaign to 'ban the Easter Bunny', click here or alternatively go to,EasterSchmunny_FBP%7Cabc 

This bilbie toy and his chocolate bilbie friends have travelled over to England with us, and hopefully are enjoying some early spring weather.


Thursday, 3 April 2014

The years of living dangerously

There are lots of photographs to be found online of  workers in dangerous positions, particularly in the construction industry in the days before health and safety precautions were given any consideration, for example that iconic shot of the men working on the Rockefeller Center in 1932, which may have been staged but was still a real photograph, or one of painters on the Sydney Harbour Bridge working without safety harnesses in 1949, but as I haven't come across anyone in my own family albums looking precarious while peering down from great heights, I thought I would just offer a few photographs from the point of view of living dangerously, which can be the case even when you aren't aware that you are doing so.

This photograph shows my grandmother Mona Morrison seated on a horse in 1957 near Blenheim NZ. Both Mona and the horse look reasonably calm and happy, but appearances can be deceptive and Mona then aged 60 was no horse rider. In fact I think this may well have been both her first and last time, because the caption below the photograph reads: "Just before the horse bucked!". As a result poor Mona fell and landed painfully, suffering a back injury that would unfortunately plague her for the rest of her life. Horse riding is definitely an inherently dangerous activity, even for those who are experienced, and no doubt Mona regretted ever having agreed to try it!

My mother's family albums include numerous snaps of us children living dangerously in Canberra in the 1950s and 60s, by playing on the kind of metallic swings, slippery dips, see saws and other standard playground equipment located on hard ground, which these days are just not deemed safe for modern kids.  Here are some examples:

Hang onto your hat, little brother!
That's right, hang on!
And make sure you get out at the same time, or that see-saw will topple over on the one left behind
My sister aged about 2 or 3, no doubt itching to get onto that climbing  frame seen in the background

The local playground to which  we were allowed to head off and play unsupervised

If you fell off and hurt yourself, you just made your own way home

Somehow we survived childhood with no broken bones and only the odd bruise or scrape!

That's it from me for a few weeks, as we are shortly off to England to make the acquaintance of our new granddaughter, but time permitting I might try to prepare a blog on the upcoming gardening prompt before I go and then post it later, as I have a few good photographs to share on that subject.

Now, take a wild ride over to Sepia Saturday 222 . Best to strap on your safety harness and helmet first though, in case there's no soft landing awaiting you!

Friday, 28 March 2014

From flood plain to planned lake

I grew up in Canberra,which was planned and designed in 1913 as the capital city of Australia, and is located  in the Australian Capital Territory, between Sydney and Melbourne. Canberra was built around a flood plain, at the centre of which was the Molonglo River. The winner of the world-wide competition for the design of the city was an American architect called Walter Burley Griffin, and one central feature of his plan was to turn that flood plain into a lake, around which various significant institutional buildings would eventually be constructed, such as the National Parliament, the High Court, the National Library, the National Art Gallery and the National Museum of Australia.
In consequence of disagreements with Walter Burley Griffin, departures from his original plans and the intervention of two world wars, the Molonglo River continued to divide north and south Canberra for fifty years  before it was eventually dammed to form a lake, to be known as Lake Burley Griffin. Originally the only convenient way to get from one side to the other was to use a bridge called Lennox Crossing, which was regularly submerged when floods occurred and that this caused considerable disruption and  inconvenience for Canberrans. Below is one photograph showing the crossing in flood in.1926, from the collection of the National Archives of Australia, and another showing the bridge in 1927.


                        The following items snipped from the Canberra Times of 26 February 1934 and of 2 March 1961 respectively provide examples of the sorts of problems caused by floodwaters from the Molonglo River. Such flooding had been a regular occurrence ever since the very early days of the Capital.

Canberra Times, 26 July 1961
 In 1960 tenders were called and accepted and in 1961 work began on the excavation and construction of Scrivener Dam and Lake Burley Griffin. On Friday 20 September 1963, the Honourable Mr Gordon Freeth, then Minister for the Interior, officially closed the valve on the Scrivener Dam which would cause the lake to fill. The advertisement below from the Canberra Times invited the members of the public to attend, and I was part of a busload of other students from my school and others who were chosen to go along and witness the occasion. You can see from the advertisement that the duty was intended to be performed by the Prime Minister, but apparently he was indisposed on the day. I wonder if Mr Freeth's substitution mean that the commemorative plaque to be erected at the spot had to be completely remade.  As the notice says, the next day, September 21, was declared an open day for the public to inspect the dam and a related display. Special buses were arranged if you weren't driving, for a return fare of 2/6 for adults.



 I like the fact that the enterprising Girl Guides took advantage of the opportunity to attract more customers to their fete in the grounds of the Prime Minister's Lodge, which some visitors would pass en route to or from the Dam.

'Canberrans flock to see Scrivener Dam from which Lake Burley Griffin was created'. Photo: National Capital Authority,
I can't recognise myself in this photograph, but I'm sure there were more people there than are shown, and I was definitely there somewhere!

This photograph from the National library of Australia shows Mr Freeth speaking in 1961 at the opening of Kings Avenue Bridge. one of two substantial bridges built to cross the future lake.  It looks like Mr Menzies is seated behind him. He would get his chance at a ceremony on 19 October 1964 to commemorate the filling of the lake. If you have a few spare minutes, you might like to click here and watch this short film about the construction of Lake Burley Griffin. Apart from giving an interesting history of the lake's conception and creation, it gives quite a good insight into life in Canberra in the 1960s!

The headline for the remainder of this article published in the Canberra Times of 24 September 1963 was "Dam Visitors Locked Out", and the article proceeded to detail the chaos that resulted when thousands of people tried to visit the dam on the Sunday, when it was no longer open for viewing.

Despite the optimism of those determined sailors, there was a seven month delay in the natural filling of the dam following the valve closure, due to Canberra experiencing drought conditions, but finally the rain came in April 1964 and filling progressed rapidly from then onwards. The lake was officially considered full in September of that year.                 
 I don't have any photographs of the valve closing ceremony, maybe because as an eleven year old it didn't strike me as the most exciting event ever, but I took these two snaps the following year in 1964, when the lake was semi-full. The first is a view from the elevated vantage point of Black Mountain, and the photograph below taken from the opposite side of the lake shows the now demolished old Canberra Hospital on the left, where our first daughter Claire was born, Mount Ainslie reflecting in the lake, Commonwealth Avenue Bridge and the domed Australian National War Memorial building in the far distance on the right. The former Canberra Hospital site is now home to the National Museum of Australia.  Canberra is notable for its numerous national institutions.


As Prime Minster Menzies says in his speech on film, the lake has certainly become a focus for Canberrans and visitors to gather around for relaxation and to participate in many sporting activities.  Below are a few photos from the 1970s and 1980s showing family members spending time around the lake.

Grace Dawn Featherston, aka Aunty Dawn to her many nieces, nephews and their families, visiting the Lake with the Water Fountain shooting 147 metres up behind her, c. 1975.

Yours truly posing lakeside in the early 1970s. The Grecian influenced building on the other side of the lake is the National Library, which had only been completed a few years earlier, and what was then Parliament House  can be seen on the far left. It's since been replaced by a much more imposing structure built on and into a hill in the near vicinity called Capital |Hill.

Our eldest daughter enjoying  a ride on her uncle's wind surfer, c. 1982

Cousins Ben and Claire at the lake, perhaps on a family picnic, c. 1984
Photo from my mother's collection taken of the crowds at the opening of the Carillion on Aspen Island by HM Queen Elizabeth in April 1970.  Can't see the Queen here, but everyone looks to be eagerly awaiting her arrival.
  We left Canberra in 1980, but still return occasionally to visit family there. In  fact we were there just last weekend for our niece's wedding, and after the ceremony everyone enjoyed champagne and wedding cake beside the National Carillion, opened in 1970 as per the previous photograph. A very enjoyable event in a very pleasant location!

For more Sepian  tales on this week's photo prompt, just click here to go to 
Sepia Saturday 221.