More Olfactory memories

January 18, 2016 at 2:00 am | Posted in 1950s, England, Experiences, Memoir, The Senses | 16 Comments
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Last week I wrote about the smell of pine trees and the memories they evoked fifty-five years later. There are a few other aromas that also strongly evoke memories of my childhood.

 

1. Bacon and baked beans

 

All my life I have loved the smell and taste of bacon and baked beans. Whenever I have had it, I think of being on the moors back in England when I was little. I didn’t know why this memory always came with this aroma until Dad told me (when I was in my fifties) that he and Mum used to take us for walks out on the moors of Oswaldtwistle. When we were there, Dad, a former Rover Scout, would light a fire and cook up bacon and beans for us. It was a special treat that we didn’t have very often.

When we go camping now, we have eggs and baked beans, with either bacon or sausages, at least once during the trip – my husband has always loved it too.

 

Sausage, egg, b.beans camping

On one of our trips

 

 

2.  Cut grass on a warm day

 Occasionally when I have been driving in the country, I have come to places where council slashers have been busy cutting the long grass along the sides of the road. Sometimes an aroma hits me, and I am taken back to my early childhood in England. I have discovered that the right smell is only there when the cut grass is long and dry, and the air is warm but not too hot. I didn’t know then why this wonderful smell affected me so much – I love it, it brings me a great feeling of happiness.

Whilst visiting Dad over Christmas in 2005, I mentioned it to Dad. He said he always loved the smell of new cut hay in the fields back in England. It was then that I realized what the odour was. Haying time was a great time for kids then. I had picked up those feelings, along with the aroma of hay being cut on a warm day in autumn before I was five years old. They have stayed with me all these years.

 

Cutting hay in meadow

Cutting hay in a Lancashire meadow today

 

 

3. An Isolation Hospital

 When I was about three years old, I had glandular fever and had to go into the isolation cottage at Blackburn Infirmary, where I spent some weeks. It would have been about 1951. I remember being in a cot and wanting Mum and Dad to come and take me home. They weren’t allowed to come in, and I could only see them, and they me, through a window.

There was a smell there that, when I come across it today, always takes me back to that memory. I’d always thought the smell was chloroform, but that wouldn’t be right. It is more likely to be the old kind of cleaning alcohol that was used when giving injections. The modern alcohol cleanser doesn’t seem to have the same smell.

 

Blackburn & East Lancashire Royal Infirmary early 20thC

The isolation ward was in a cottage at the back of the main hospital

 

Because of a later association with this odour, another memory also springs to mind. It is of walking past a mobile medical facility that used to occasionally park in the area in front of the shops at Albion Park Rail when I was probably about 10 to 13 years old. I think it was the TB testing unit.

 

 

Linda Visman

 

 

 

 

 

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Share Your World – 2015 Week #12

March 27, 2015 at 3:43 pm | Posted in Australia, Experiences, Gratitude | 6 Comments
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Again it is time for sharing my world, answering Cee’s questions for week 12.

 

When was the last time you sat on a park or garden bench for more than ten minutes? Describe the occasion.

I often sit at them. The latest was this morning, when I met with a friend. We sat on a bench looking across the lake and caught up with what’s been happening. People walked by exercising themselves and their dogs, and a man I’d spoken with before stopped to chat. It was a pleasant hour.

Would you ever be interested in observing a surgery or do you turn away when the nurse brings out the needle? 

No way! The thought of cutting live flesh gives me the horrors! The needles are fine if I am having them; I don’t worry about them at all.

Where’s your favorite place to take out-of-town guests?

We usually take them for a walk along the lake. Otherwise, it depends on whether there are children and how old they are. The Hunter Valley wine area is a popular place for adults, as are the forests of the nearby Watagan Mountains.

If you had an unlimited shopping spree at only one store, which one would you choose? Why?

A place that sells motor vehicles. I have never owned a new vehicle, and hubby only once. It would be great to get a decent car for towing the boat trailer, and a new version of our camper van.

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

Last weekend, instead of going sailing, we drove to the Watagans and found a lovely bush camping spot. We had a lovely quiet time with no phone or internet reception, and just relaxed, chatted, walked and read. We weren’t too happy with the gang of trail-bike riders who kept us awake until after 4am though!

Tonight we are going to a party to celebrate our friend’s daughter’s 21st birthday. Nikky is a lovely girl who we have watch grow from a delightful child to a mature, beautiful and hard-working young woman. We are looking forward to it.

(c) Linda Visman

Share Your World – Week 46

November 19, 2014 at 9:44 pm | Posted in Family, Gratitude, Leisure activities, Mental Health, Nature | 7 Comments
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Here is another interesting set of questions from Cee for Week 46 of Share Your World.

 

On a vacation what you would require in any place that you sleep? 

Our camper van

Our camper van

A comfortable bed is essential. I think that if you have somewhere comfy to sleep, you can handle anything else a holiday has to throw at you. But there is one more thing I need – a comfy chair in which to relax, to read, to enjoy a wine at the end of the day.

In our little Toyota HiAce camper, we have a lovely comfortable bed, based on the seat cushions and topped with two layers of foam. That bed stays made up for the duration, and we either do without a table or use the one that attaches outside.

However, our van doesn’t have a comfortable chair, at least not inside. The front seats are separated from the back of the van by the engine housing, and when we stop, any extra bits and pieces are stored on those seats until we set off again. The floor space is small, with no room for a chair. Hubby loves to read or otherwise relax lying down, so he’s fine, but to relax I need to sit. So the only times I can do so in comfort is when the weather is good enough – and the mosquitoes non-existent – to sit in the folding camper chair outside.

Music or silence while working?

I lived out in the back blocks of Central Australia for many years. When you just needed a tape recorder and a few of your favourite tapes, my partner and I used to play music all the time. When we moved back to civilisation, she played music more than I did, but I always had it playing in the background as I did my woodwork in the garage.

Once I began writing my family’s history however, music distracted my thoughts, so I got out of the habit of playing it. Now, years later, in a different state, with a husband who also loves music, we have lots of CDs to play. But we don’t play them! We don’t really know why.

However I think it is time we did something about it. Perhaps I should find out if music will stimulate my creative writing rather than distract me from it.

If you were to move and your home came fully furnished with everything you ever wanted, list at least three things from your old house you wish to retain?

Dad in his woodworking shed

Dad in his woodworking shed

My photo and scrapbook albums, my folders of family history records, my journals, and my computer external drive with all my writing and photographs would have to go with me. I would also want to take the few family keepsakes I have – Mum’s sewing things, her old teapot, her small paintings and shells, and the small tables, wooden bowls and knick-knacks that Dad made. I don’t have Mum and Dad any more, but I want to keep something of them by me.

What’s your least favorite mode of transportation?

I can’t say I have a least favourite. I love to travel, so any way I can do that is good. My most favourite mode is driving myself, always has been. I used to drive 1,700-2,500 km each way to visit my family in NSW twice a year when I lived in the Northern Territory. It was also a 320km drive to the nearest town (Alice Springs) over mostly dirt roads just to do business and buy groceries. I loved it.

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 four days we were able to relax and enjoy the Aussie bush, sleeping and eating in our camper. I was also really happy that we could have dinner with my younger sister and her husband and catch up on each other’s families and busy lives. As we get older, we become even closer to each other, even though we are different in many ways.

I am looking forward to going to the local art gallery with my neighbour friend to the launch of a book about our town’s most famous person, the late Sir William Dobell, a major Australian artist of the mid twentieth century.

(c) Linda Visman

Kangaroo Valley Wombats

November 7, 2014 at 9:12 pm | Posted in Australia, Nature, Tourism, Travel | 6 Comments
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Kangaroo Valley

Beautiful Kangaroo Valley

A few weeks ago, we stayed at a free camping area in the Kangaroo Valley, several kilometres from the village of the same name. The whole valley is beautiful, with the Kangaroo River, creeks, former dairy farms and bushland creating habitats for a wide variety of animals.

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A few of the kangaroos that came out to feed in the evening in the paddock next to us.

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Of course, as you would expect from the name, there are plenty of kangaroos about, but where we were camping, there were so many of the lumbering marsupial mammals known as wombats around, that area should have been called Wombat Valley.

Wombats are marsupials, about as big as a solid, medium-sized dog, that dig long burrows with their strong claws. The female’s pouch faces backwards so the dirt does not get into it, and they produce only one young at a time. They are nocturnal creatures, and come out in the evening as the sun sets, to graze on grass and herbage.

The wombat, and its burrow, just behind our van.

The wombat, and its burrow, just behind our van.

There were actually two of their burrows (that we know of) within just a few metres of our little Toyota Hiace camper. They wandered freely about the camp grounds and there was plenty of interest in them from people who had never seen them in the wild before.

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While many people think they are cute and cuddly, their powerful teeth and jaws and their long, sharp claws make them potentially dangerous if annoyed, especially if disturbed in their burrows or with young in their pouch.

 

During both nights that we camped there, we were awakened several times by the van shaking rhythmically. We soon realised that ‘our’ wombat, seen in the pictures above and below, had gone underneath the van and was scratching itself against the chassis.

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 We loved it in that beautiful valley of wombats.

 

Me, writing about wombats; our camper van in the background.

Me, writing about wombats; our camper van in the background.

 

(c) Linda Visman. Photos by Dirk Visman.

 

Campfire Magic

September 20, 2014 at 3:54 pm | Posted in Australia, Culture, Experiences, History, Nature, Philosophy, Society | 9 Comments
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I wrote this a couple of evenings ago as my husband and I camped by a creek in the Border Ranges between NSW and Queensland.

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There is something primitive about sitting by a campfire in the wilderness. That’s where I am tonight, and the experience takes me back to several different pasts.

I imagine the ancients huddling close to a fire they have only recently tamed, building it high to keep away the fearsome and ferocious predators that would otherwise prey on them.

I feel their awe as they gaze into the roaring flames that hungrily eat up the branches tossed into them. I feel their fear of that hunger if it should escape. How easy is it to imagine their veneration of this awesome power, a magical force which they have managed to harness for their own protection.

Campfire 01

What were their thoughts as they later stared into its dying embers, watching the occasional flicker of a flame as it flickered and died? Did they wish they had collected more fuel to feed the fire? Or were they relaxed enough to ponder their own next meal, the mate they would lie with, or how the hunt had gone that day?

A campfire from a less distant past also comes to mind. One set up by a river or in the bush, or by a huge monolith in an isolated southern continent. Images of the wondrous vault of the sky, undimmed by any city lights, filled with uncountable stars. Thoughts of indigenous people sitting by their clan fire. I see them as self-sufficient and self-reliant, yet filled with awe as they contemplate the unknown and create their Dreamtime origins.

Later, I see the early European explorers by their campfire, uncertain of what is out in the darkness, yet eager for discovery of what is to them a new and unclaimed land.

Campfire 03

It’s not just the far distant past I see in my campfire this night, as I remember my own experiences in isolated Central Australia, knowing that I could walk hundreds of miles in any direction and not meet another human being.

I also wonder how many children today and in the future will experience the thrill of their own campfire. Will they ever feel the thrill of the unknown, the fear even, of a night far from home. Far from their electric lights, TVs and computers, from the comfort of their soft beds and the security of their four solid walls?

It is sad that so many of them will miss out on that more primitive experience of life. That they will never see a campfire flare and flame, as the darkness presses against their frail light, then flicker and die to embers. What a loss that is.?

(c) Linda Visman

Mystery Bay

October 8, 2012 at 11:05 pm | Posted in Australia, Experiences, Nature, Tourism | 11 Comments
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A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I drove south of where we live, past Sydney and Wollongong and Nowra, and enjoyed a few days on the South Coast of New South Wales. There is lots of bush country down there – huge national parks, beaches, lakes and rivers. The towns and villages haven’t grown too big, and you can see history all around.

One of the places we visited was Mystery Bay, which is part of the Batemans Bay Marine Park. Mystery Bay has a beautiful golden beach, that begins at the forest edge. The waters of the bay are clear and cool. On a sunny day, the seas are blue, and the foaming waves that sweep across the guardian rocks are sparkling white.

 We had only heard of the place when we camped at a ‘primitive camp ground’ a couple of days before. Then a Council worker cleaning public toilets at a park said it was a great place to visit. We turned off the main road and soon found ourselves in the camping ground, surrounded by tall spotted gums. The sandy beach began at the edge of the treeline.

There are magnificent rock formations reaching out into the sea, which crashes against them and protects the beach. Small rocky islets stand away from the shore.

We had our lunch in the camping grounds, where there are basic amenities only: toilets and cold showers. I walked through the forest and admired the tall and straight spotted gums. They were used for pier posts, electricity poles and bridge supports in the days before iron was generally used.

There is a tiny village, but no shops. Diving would be a great experience there. Cabin accommodation is available in the area. It’s a quiet and reasonably remote area that would be perfect for a camping holiday.

We loved Mystery Bay, and we will be heading back there again one day in our little camper van to relax and enjoy the bush, the beach and the rocks.

(c) Linda Visman

The  photos were taken by me and my husband.

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