Tags: travel, war
I am a little later than usual getting round to answering Cee’s questions for week 8, but here I am now.
Your favorite blog post that you have written? (add link)
I’ve been blogging for a few years now, and rarely go back to what I have written, unless I need an entry for something else I’m writing. I know that the most popular of all my posts is The Long Goodbye, about Alzheimers and my father, and I think it’s a good one too. I will go with that, even though there are others that are equally good, or perhaps even better.
What do you feel is the most enjoyable way to spend $500? Why?
The most enjoyable way to spend $500 would have to be travelling in our little camper van through outback Australia. I lived and worked there for years and would love to take a reasonably leisurely trip to the places I never got to see while I lived there because I was too busy working. It is a selfish wish, and I know there are others who would benefit greatly from the money, so I am rather torn about it.
If you could know the answer to any question, besides “What is the meaning of life?” what would it be?
How can we stop war and aggression in the world?
Where do you eat breakfast?
I don’t. I have a very small snack with a coffee at mid-morning instead.
Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?
I am grateful for the support of my husband as I have been fighting a nasty bout of depression.
I am looking forward to my husband and I attending a casual dinner with our sailing association on Saturday.
Tags: Albion Park Rail, ice chest, Lake Illawarra, milkman, piuoneers, sanitation, washing in the 1950s
We lived up at Avondale until the bridge job was finished, then went back to Reid Park. Mr A, the farmer who owned the property next to which we’d been living at Avondale, had taken a liking to Mum (she was quite beautiful). After we moved away, he started to come around to the caravan and pester her. We’d only been back at the park for about a month, but Dad immediately decided it was time to find a permanent and safe place for us to live. I think this was late 1955 or early 1956.
One day he drove off in his work truck to Albion Park Rail, about five miles south of Dapto. Albion Park Rail was then a little village on the Princes Highway, with the main town of Albion Park a couple of miles to the west in dairy country. It was so named because the railway station was there and had been for about sixty years at that stage. Tommy Totten, the real estate agent, had several blocks of land available, but most were too expensive for us. However he did have three blocks by the lake on Koona Bay, each priced at ninety pounds. Dad checked them out, decided on one and put down a ten pound deposit then and there. It was Lot 8 (later #73) on Koona St, Albion Park Rail.
The block of land backed onto the western shore of Lake Illawarra, south of Wollongong. That evening, with the purchase sorted out, Dad took us in his work truck to see it. When we arrived, the full moon was just rising out of the lake to the east. As we admired the view, a fisherman standing in his clinker-built boat, rowed right in front of the face of the moon. The scene couldn’t have been choreographed any better.
Dad asked Mum what she thought of the place. “Oh Ernie, it’s magic!” she said. He hadn’t told her about buying it. When he said, “This is ours”, Mum cried.
Wingang St is the road from the highway that we came down towards the lake. The gates are on the lake side of the railway line that we have to cross. Turn right at the end, where the truck is heading, on to Koona Street and a couple of hundred yards further along was our land, by the lake. That wooden cottage on the right-hand corner is still there, over sixty years later.
Within a day or two Dad moved the caravan to the block of land that had one huge tree about one-third the way down the block, with scrub to where bulrushes grew along the lake shore. Two houses stood side-by-side directly across the street from us, but there were hardly any other houses nearby. On our side of the street, there were none on both sides for quite a way along the lake shore. I have no photos of our caravan, or of the early years we were there.
The street was a wide, unsealed, rutted and pot-holed track. We had no electricity and just one water tap outside – but at least mains water was connected. We had the caravan, with the same equipment as before – a kerosene lamp and the spirit pressure cooker that Dad usually pumped up because Mum was scared of it. Mum still did all the cooking for the six of us on that little two-burner stove.
Dad also erected a heavy army disposal canvas tent so that we had more living room. The kids slept in the van and Mum and Dad out in the tent. As well as his day job, Dad began working out a way to get us a proper house to live in. However, the essentials had to be dealt with first.
There was no sewerage in the area, and it was far too expensive to put in a septic tank. So Dad did what everyone else did there. He built a little outhouse in the back yard, where we could go to use the tar-coated can. The “dunny-can man”, also known as the “sanno man”, came in a truck every week and exchanged the full can for an empty one. You didn’t want to be in there doing your business when he arrived! However, primitive as it was, that was the only facility of its kind we were to have for the next twenty years.
Washing clothes was always a hard job. Dad built a stand for concrete double wash tubs and set up a wood-burning copper. All our water had to be carted in galvanised buckets from the tap up near the road and poured into the copper. The fire under the copper heated the water to boiling, and all our clothes (they were cotton) apart from the woollens got a good wash.
Once ready, the clothes were fished out with a stick – usually part of a wooden broom handle – and dumped into the concrete rubs that we’d filled with cold water to be rinsed. Attached to the divider between the tubs was a hand wringer. The clothes would be swished around in the water to get rid of as much soap as possible, then squeezed between the rollers to remove that water and fed into the second tub.
There would be a second rinse and wring, then the clothes, sheets, towels, etc, would be carried out in a large cane basket and hung on the rope line Dad had strung between a tree and a post in the back yard. A long wooden prop held up the middle of the line to prevent the washing from dragging on the ground. After the washing was done, it was the kids’ job – just the girls of course – to scoop out the cold, jellified washing water from the copper. That was a job we hated!
We still used a bowl or bucket when washing ourselves. There was no shower until Dad could build a bathroom, and that took about a year. Mum had a hard job all through those early years, but hardly ever complained. And now, at last, she was happy we had a home base.
There was an ice chest in the caravan, for which we bought a big block of ice from the ice man every week. It kept our milk and meat cool. We didn’t get our milk in bottles or cartons then. The milk cost a penny-ha’penny for a pint and we had a quart (two pint / one litre) billy-can. The baker also used to deliver, but he had a truck (later on, the milkman did too). He would place the uncut and unwrapped loaves (no sliced bread then) into a basket, which was covered by a clean cloth, and bring them down to the van.
The milkman comes around on the dirt road past our place every day. His cart has only two wheels, and is pulled by a horse. The milkman has a seat up at the front of the cart, but he doesn’t sit up there much. He walks along, and makes clicking sounds to the horse when he wants it to move along. Usually the horse just keeps walking along slowly and stops when the milkman walks round the back of the cart to fill up our billycans with milk. The cart has a big tank on it, with a tap where the milkman gets the milk out. We all like to take the billycan out to get it filled up with nice creamy milk, and give the milkman the pennies to pay for it (1955/6).
© Linda Visman
Tags: Australian currency notes, I hate cruises, red and blue heeler dogs
Is the paper money in your possession right now organized sequentially according to denomination and with the bills right side up and facing the same way?
In Australia, our monetary notes are different colours, according to denomination. They are also made of plastic, not paper, and are regarded as the most difficult notes to forge. While I sometimes put them into my purse in order of value, I often just leave them however they end up, as I can see the ones I need by their colour.
What is your favorite type of dog? (can be anything from a specific breed, a stuffed animal or character in a movie)
My favourite kind of dog is an Australian heeler – either blue or red. They are intelligent working dogs (with cattle) but are also great to have as a pet. I have had both a blue heeler – when the kids were young) and a red heeler (when I lived in a remote community in the Northern territory).
If money was not an issue, would you go on a cruise? If so where would you go?
No! To go on a cruise would be the opposite to what I want and need. I would hate to be cooped up on a ship with only frivolous activities to keep me occupied. I would much prefer to go camping in the bush for a week or two and commune with nature!
Would you dare to sleep in haunted house overnight?
As I don’t believe in ghosts, I would probably have no problem doing that. If somethimg were to happen, I would be really interested to see if there were really a ghost there.
Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?
This last five days, hubby and I have spent time camping, visiting family, and seeing more of our lovely country and our heritage.
As we are now home again, I am looking forward to getting the yard mowed and tidy again, and catching up with some writing.
Tags: gratitude, satisfaction, senses
Here we are again with Cee’s challenge – Share Your World Week 6
What was the last time you went to a new place?
Just last week, actually. I wrote about it and posted photos last Friday of our ferry ride to Manly, on the north side of Sydney Harbour. It was a place I had never been to and a ferry ride I’d never taken.
If you were or are a writer do you prefer writing short stories, poems or novels, other? And what type of genre would you prefer?
I am a writer. I love to write, and have written, all those forms and others – poetry, short stories, novels, memoir, biography, essays. Although my novels tend to be historical, and aimed primarily at middle grade and young adult, I am not necessarily limited by genre. My short stories cover a range from contemporary to slightly paranormal to historical. My poetry is about real life and feelings, nature, the act of writing, and occasional humour.
Out of your five senses (touch, taste, sight, smell, hearing) which is your favorite?
All of our senses are windows to the world, and I don’t know that any one is my favourite. They each give me a different perspective that I would lose if that sense were not there. But if I go by the sense that I would least like to lose, I’d say sight. How awful to be unable to see my grandchildren as they grow up, to not see the trees and birds, the sweeping plains and sky, the sea and the mountains that I love. However, I would hate to lose any of my senses – I already suffer some hearing loss, but I hope it never goes completely.
If 100 people your age were chosen at random, how many do you think you’d find leading a more satisfying life than yours?
I would say hardly any of them. Although we are not well off financially and we have a few health problems, we have everything we need to enjoy a full life. We may not be able to travel widely, have a big house and car, or buy whatever we want, but we have a wonderful family, friends we care about, and we can take short holidays in our little camper van. We also have interests that stimulate us and keep us active and aware. We lead a simple but satisfying life.
Of course, there are things we would like to do and places we would like to see. We see many of our friends doing some of those things. But we accept that, for us, they are out of reach. It is that acceptance that probably ensures we are content – indeed, more content – with life than most other people.
Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?
Last week, I was able to catch up with a friend for lunch, and we spent two hours sharing, catching up and supporting each other.
Later this week, we will be on our way to a week’s holiday in our national capital and along the coast. We will also see a daughter and grandchildren, and perhaps other family members, siblings, as well.
(c) Linda Visman
Tags: basic living, caravan living, Dapto, Huntley Colliery, Saos, wagging school
This post was supposed to go out last Monday, the 16th February. For some reason, it didn’t respond to my trying to post it via my tablet whilst I was away from home.
About a year after we arrived in Australia, we were still living in the caravan at Reed Park. Dad and Mum had been saving money so we could eventually get something better. Mum was always very good at cost saving, and there was nothing left over for treats. I remember one day when I was still five, Mum came home with some groceries and unpacked them from the brown paper bags onto the table.
“I’ve brought some crackers,” she said.
I was really excited, because I thought she meant fire crackers but it was only Sao biscuits. She called them ‘cream crackers’ because that’s what they were in England. It was a real let-down! However, we rarely had biscuits of any kind, so Saos were a treat we had spread with butter and jam.
Dad’s employers got a contract to do some work for Huntley Colliery, one of the many coal mines around the Illawarra area where we lived. It was to replace an old wooden bridge that had been damaged by the coal trucks with a concrete one. Dad had become their main concreter by then, so he was part of the work force to do the job.
Dad was asked if he would take the caravan and live in it there as caretaker of the job site. It would take several weeks to complete the project. So, we moved, with the van, to a spot just beside a dairy farm fence, a hundred yards or so from the bridge.
We were a few miles from Dapto, on a little back road in the foothills of the mountain range. Apart from the mine and a few small dairy farms, we were surrounded by bushland. The sandstone escarpment rose only a mile or so to the west. There was no bus service and Mum couldn’t drive. Dad worked from sun-up to sun-down.Sheelagh was five by then and went to school with the rest of us. It was too far for us four kids to walk to St Joseph’s Catholic School in Dapto. A way was worked out for us to get there.
A Memory: There is a big lemon tree near our caravan, with huge yellow lemons on it. The coal trucks go up and down from the mine and take the coal to the power house at Tallawarra. They are big and dirty and noisy on the dirt road not far from where the caravan is.
One of the truck drivers takes all four of us kids into Dapto every day so we can go to school, and he brings us back in the afternoon. We all sit up in the huge front seat of the truck next to the driver. The cabin smells of oil and coal and leather. I like it. We can see everything from way up here. He drops us off on the main street and we walk up the hill to the school. I bet nobody else gets a lift to school in a big coal truck!
One day, when we got to Dapto, my brother Peter who was the eldest and had just turned ten, told us we didn’t have to walk all the way up to school – we could have a holiday instead. So we walked around the shops and played on the swings and slippery-dip in the park. The shop keeper who delivered groceries to Mum told her we had been playing truant from school.
A Memory: Mum is very angry with us when we get home from Dapto in the truck, because the shop man told her we didn’t go to school. She gets out her wide green leather belt and gives us all a hiding. When we go back to school the next day, Sister Jude gives me the strap on my legs in front of the whole class.
Living was very basic while we were at Avondale. We had to carry water in buckets to the caravan from the creek that ran nearby. It was cool and clear because it came down from the mountains, and we got it before the dairy cattle messed it up. We used it for everything – drinking, washing, doing the dishes, cleaning. We didn’t have a bath of course, but washed at a basin of warm water with a flannel and soap. Mum washed all our clothes by hand. I look back and wonder how she coped at times. There hadn’t been much available money back in England, but she’d at least had hot running water.
Girls weren’t allowed to do many of the things boys could do, and my brother Peter had much more freedom than we three girls did. I don’t think my sisters worried about it, but I was a tomboy, and jealous because I couldn’t do the things he did.
A Memory: In the afternoons and on weekends, Peter takes his dog out into the bush. The dog is called Patch because he is white with a black patch on his eye like a pirate. He was a stray until Peter found him at Reed Park. Now Patch belongs to Peter. They go out exploring in the bush and sometimes find snakes. Peter scares Mum when he puts a dead snake on the ground in front of the caravan door. I sometimes think Mum doesn’t like living up here in the bush.
Did you have any experience living basic as a child? What was the situation? Did you have adventures like my brother?
© Linda Visman
Tags: boating, Circular Quay, Cockatoo Island, Manly beach, Manly ferry, Sydney Harbour bridge, Sydney Heads, Sydney Opera House, whale watching
We were in Sydney the other day, and decided to take a trip on the Manly Ferry. It is something most Aussies who live in NSW have done, and something tourists often have on their list of things to do. After all, Manly Beach is known world-wide. But, in all the 61 years since I came to Australia, I had never been to Manly, and never taken the Manly ferry.
We started at Circular Quay and sailed past some of Sydney’s most iconic landmarks. I took photos of course. Although I only have a cheap point-and-shoot camera, it takes reasonable shots, and I love to go through them when we get home to see what I have caught in the lens.
My outward bound photos weren’t as good as those on the way back, so the only one of Manly Beach is also one of me.
Most ferries in Sydney Harbour are named after Sydney suburbs or famous people. The one above is named after the suburb of Collaroy.
The last time I saw the Sydney Heads (the headlands that protect the harbour and make it such a fine one), was in March 1954. That was when we arrived in Sydney by ship from England.
I enjoyed capturing some of the boats that ply the Harbour on a regular basis. It is a very popular place for sailing, but vigilance is the watchword, especially on a public holiday.
As we approached the city, it was hard to know what to take photos of. We passed the several small islands along the way. Garden Island is the largest and has long been a naval dockyard. A small island houses Fort Denison, built in the 19th century to repel any Russian invasion. I didn’t get decent photos of those, so haven’t included them.
As we came into the quay, I took another photo of the huge cruise ship. Re-fuelling had been completed, and I had a clear view of it.
Then I thread3ed my way to the other side of the ferry to get a final photo of the Opera House with the sun shining through the grey clouds onto its sails.
We certainly have a beautiful harbour – even on a cloudy day like it was.
(c) Linda Visman
Here are Cee’s questions for Share Your World Week 5. As always, I have enjoyed answering them.
Do you prefer shopping or going to a park?
I don’t particularly like shopping, so I would much rather go to a large area of parkland. Parks are places where I can write. Even better, I prefer to go into virgin bushland. The bush is where I can get closer to finding out what life is really about.
If you were a shoe, what kind would you be and why?
I would like to be a hiking boot; tough leather with thick soles and secure laces. I would love to take people into the wilderness – to the mountains or the desert or the rugged sea shore. I would keep them safe until they are ready to go barefoot.
What’s the story behind a time when you got locked out?
I don’t remember ever being locked out – of a house or a vehicle. It could have happened but, if so, it made no impression on me.
Do you prefer eating foods with nuts or no nuts?
There are not many nuts that I like much, especially on their own. The ones I do love are cashews (I know, they are beans, not nuts) and macadamias. When it comes to nuts with food, I don’t like them at all – unless they are in chocolate.
Last Saturday, we celebrated Harry 90th birthday with his family and friends. It was a pleasure to be with such wonderful people of all ages who were there for a very special man.
Next week I am looking forward to some time to catch up on things that have gotten behind.
Tags: caravan living, Dapto, Wombeyan caves
When we arrived in Dapto, NSW [part of the Wollongong Council area], we stayed at 53 Yalunga St, with Aunty Mary and Uncle Eric. We travelled down from Sydney with Uncle Eric who had met us. However, our luggage was coming by a later (steam) train and didn’t arrive till late that night. When it did, Mum and Dad made up beds on the floor with our blankets, as there were no actual beds or matresses for us. Mum and Dad slept on a bed frame with no mattress and only newspaper and a blanket between them and the springs. My cousin Christine was a toddler at the time and we kids slept in her room.
I remember Uncle Eric taking us for a trip up to the Wombeyan Caves not long after our arrival. The road was dirt, very narrow and winding. [Even today, the road from the east is not good] There was room for only one vehicle to pass at a time, so, when a car came the other way, Uncle Eric or the other driver had to back up the car to where a wider section had been graded into the hillside. The road itself was rather scary too with steep drop-offs, which made Mum very frightened – she wasn’t used to roads like that; it made an interesting and enjoyable trip for us kids though.
When winter came, we didn’t feel the cold as we had come from a much colder climate, and when everyone else was rugged up, we were just wearing light dresses or shorts. It took a couple of winters before we needed warmer clothes in winter.
We stayed with Aunty Mary and Uncle Eric for a couple of months. By that time things were getting a little strained ‘with two women in the kitchen’ as Dad put it, and Mary eventually suggested it would be a good idea if we were to find a place of our own.
Dad wouldn’t have us staying where we weren’t welcome, and he later told me that at 7.30 on the morning after she said this, he took Mum and us kids to the Catholic convent and left us there for the day while he went to Albion Park Rail, about five miles away, and arranged to rent a caravan from Bob Stevenson, who had a van dealership on the highway there.
Dad also got permission from a farmer to park the van on his land, which adjoined the football ground at Reed Park, on the western side of Dapto. By that evening all was arranged, with the van in place ready for us. Dad came to pick us up from the convent. The sisters had already given us an evening meal and asked Dad if he had eaten. As he hadn’t eaten all day, they insisted on feeding him too before he took us to the van, our new home.
The caravan was parked in some trees beside the creek, and we had to go across the park grounds to the sports pavilion to get water, carrying it to the van in buckets. We used their toilets, but Mum and us children didn’t use the cold showers there. Instead, we washed in a bucket of water that Mum heated on the primus stove. It ran on methylated (white) spirit and had to be pumped up to pressure. Mum hated that stove! She always thought it would explode on her.
There was always a strong smell of pine all around us from the huge old trees that were planted along the roadside end of the park. It is a smell that has stayed with me through all the six decades since then.The three of us girls slept together on the bed in the caravan and Peter slept on a mattress on the floor. Mum and Dad slept on the fold-down table.
Being so close to the creek had its dangers. There were big rains in 1955 all along the east coast of NSW:
A Memory: We are in the caravan next to the creek at Reed Park. It is the middle of the night and its very dark. It has been raining and raining for days. The creek is flooding and we have to get out of the caravan because the water will come in. It’s very scary. Uncle Eric has come in his car to help Mum and Dad carry us kids out of the caravan through the water to the road, and take us to his house for the night.
None of us kids remember how long we lived next to Reed Park, but, all up it must have been close to two years. Dad worked as a builders’ labourer for a company called Brooks and Wright. Dick Brooks and Ken Wright lived just across the creek from us in identical, small, three-roomed cottages. Dad mostly did the concreting work for them, but also helped build the wooden framed houses. He had never done that sort of work before, but he soon learned, and was always good at what he did.
© Linda Visman
Tags: bugs, caterpillar
I am not a photographer, but I like to take photos of family and the places we go. I also like to take photos of things I find interesting – and that often means something outside, in the bush or by the water.
Today’s photos are of insects I found around our home during the past week. Two of them are very unusual, and I don’t know what they are. The third is a caterpillar, but I know not what butterfly or moth it will turn into.
I hope you find them interesting too.
The first is a little green bug I found on our verandah table. Its body looks like a tiny green corncob.
The second bug, a white one, I found on a young bottlebrush in our back yard. I literally could not make head nor tail of this one!
The caterpillar was on the end of a stick I picked up in our front yard. Its head is towards the end of the stick.
If anyone can tell me what these three are, I would be pleased indeed. By the way, all three creatures were allowed to go on their way, or stay, unmolested.
Do you like taking photos of little creatures?
(c) Linda Visman
Tags: country life, dairy farms, girls in 1950s
How quickly week 4 of this year has come along! Here are my responses to Cee’s week 4 questions on Share Your World.
Where did you live at age five? Is it the same place or town you live now?
Hey, you’re taking over my Memoir Monday topic here!! LOL!
When I turned five, I lived in the Lancashire country town of Oswaldtwistle. Our home was a three-up-three-down, in a row of stone terrace houses that had been built in the 1890s for the workers at the cotton mill across the back alley. Oswaldtwistle was an old cotton town, and so had lots of big mills. However it was quite a small place, and we were close to the surrounding moors.
When I was five and a half, we emigrated to Australia. At first, we (six of us) lived in a fibro migrant cottage with my aunt, uncle and baby cousin. This was in a small rural town in NSW called Dapto.
A couple of months before I turned six, we moved into a small (4-berth) caravan that Dad parked on the edge of Dapto, between a creek and the football ground called Reed Park. Later, we spent a couple of months parked in the foothills of the ranges, next to a dairy farm.
I have lived in many places in several states since then, always in country areas. I now live on the western shores of Lake Macquarie, a 4-hour train ride north of where I grew up. It is another lakeside village.
You are invited to a party that will be attended by many fascinating people you never met. Would you attend this party if you were to go by yourself?
Probably not. If it were just a couple of fascinating people, then I might.
Did you grow up in a small or big town? Did you like it?
Part of my story is in my answer to question 1. When I was about six or seven, Dad bought a block of land south of Dapto, on the shore of Lake Illawarra. It was a rural area, with dairying the main industry, apart from the steelworks at Port Kemble, across the lake. We lived there in the caravan at first, then Dad built the house we all grew up in.
I loved it there. We had open paddocks and bushland, and the lake. Being a girl, I wasn’t allowed to do the things my older brother could, so I was jealous of that. But it was a great place for kids to grow up in. Unfortunately it is no longer the same, having succumbed to the cancer of urban development. Where there were farms, paddocks and bushland, there is now a sea of roofs.
I couldn’t live in a small city, let alone a big one
As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
As a young kid, I didn’t think of the future. As a teenager approaching the end of my schooling, I had a few preferences. I wanted to join the RAAF and be a pilot, like my dad had been during the war. I wanted to be a journalist too. However, being a girl in the early 1960s severely limited career options. Girls were only expected to work until they married, so they had few choices: shop assistant, hairdresser, office assistant, nursing or teaching. I ended up being a teacher.
Last week, we had coffee with good friends at an outdoor kiosk by the lake. Last Saturday, I had coffee with another friend, a fellow writer, and we talked books and writing. Both of these were wonderful, and I always enjoy and am grateful for the company of good people.
On Saturday this week, we will be attending the 90th birthday celebrations of another lovely friend.