Wednesday, April 29, 2009

CROSSING THE EQUATOR

Wednesday 26th January 1949

I lose count of time and days. David seemed better before 8:00 but was stifled and could hardly get his breath later, owing to the stifling air, although the wind is terrific on the fore deck beating sun into skin. Dr said he could go on deck as temp is down a bit, so he lay in the shade on the coolest side all afternoon. Blocks of delicious ice cream after dinner, but heat baking in dining room. Nearing the equator now. Won money at horse racing.

Thursday 27th January 1949

David is much better. Later nights and a chill. Lazed and sunbathed all day. Absolutely baking and burned up in 10 mins, which is long enough. Lovely and warm sitting out on deck in the evening with scarcely any clothing on. Saw loads of small white flying fish. For those who wish can sleep out on the prom deck tonight. Walked around deck at midnight to look at everyone settling down for the night. Bare feet sticking out. Slept in cabin as near open doors. Temp 86 degrees in cabin though. Very hot all night.

Friday 28th January 1949

Slept all morning. Diane under showers on deck.



Crossed the line at 2:30 pm. Ships sirens hooted and Father Neptune and his retinue board the ship and were paraded all around the ship by the Captain and officers.



As there are 2000 passengers it would take too long to have the line ceremony for all, so children were to be done.


(David and I are in the circle, I can remember not being happy because I was small and couldn't see what was happening and I was scared because I didn't know what they were going to do to us. My dad said if I didn't stop whinging King Neptune would put me in a bucket and dangle me over the side into the sea. Needless to say I stopped and David looked after me. However, I can't remember how the ceremony was enacted. So it couldn't have been too drastic.)

Nearly all the passengers crowded on fore deck and we had a grand view. All excited. Neptune and the rest of the crew were very funny doing antics and dressed in sea grass skirts. There was a Queen Neptune. Barbers grabbed one woman nearby in all her clothes. They pasted all over her face with flour and water and pink colouring and then shaved her with a 2 foot razor. Then they hosed her all over and gave her a certificate from the captain. Real fun and games and horse play.
Mum is participating in the fun and games, she is in front of Neptune

Had to have a bath and change. Tired after dinner so lay on bunk slept amid noise until 11:00 pm. Had a cup of tea and went to impromptu party, guitar and singing on the fore deck until 1:00 am in dressing gown. Had another shower before lying in bunk as very humid. No sheets or anything needed. 

Monday, April 27, 2009

ADEN

Sunday 23rd January 1949

Up at 7:00 am and the sun is shining. Terrific wind but a good job as the sun is scorching. The wind seems to beat the sun into your skin but keeps one cool enough and refreshing.
There are services on board and Sunday school. Delicious cool salad for lunch. Duck with trimmings. Saw beautiful high rocky islands. Monastery on top of one.


Monday 24th January 1949

Up at 5:30am, still dark. All on deck at 6:00 am to watch beautiful islands with the sun rising behind and rays like a fan shedding light over the craggy, barren, pale mauve, rocks. Approached Aden and could see the white buildings.


Flags went up as signals, pilot came aboard and we stopped in the harbour about 7:00 am. We weren't allowed to go on shore as there were disturbances in the Middle East. Bum boats were around in a jiffy and people began bargaining and buying immediately. Rich coloured carpets and mats about 50/-. Head scarves in lovely colours 8/-. Fags, tea, nylons, baskets etc. Got 8 ½ pound blocks of milk chocolate and sweets. Black boys dived for money. Exciting but tiring in the hot sun.

(David and I loved watching the boys diving for money. I remember their black shining skin in contrast with the yellow sand, which you could see on the bottom of the harbour. I remember watching the silver coins being tossed over the side and the boys would follow the coins rolling and glinting in the sun through the water. The boys mostly grabbed the coins before they sank to the bottom. Then they would surface and store the coins in their mouth.)
We weren't allowed to go on shore as there were disturbances in the Middle East.

 All hands on deck signal, and we drew anchor at 4:00 pm and off again. Watched the land disappear and played cards.

Tuesday 25th January 1949

Sunbathed for only one hour as the sun is baking. Temp 108 degrees. Came out of Gulf of Aden and saw Somaliland in the distance. This is the last land we will see for 14 days. We saw Dolphins and sharks.
 Treasure hunt for children. (Robbie) Burns night. Scots had a party. Piped in the haggis around the decks.
David got temperature. Dr saw him and gave him medicine to bring temp down. Hospital full up.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

PT SAID

 I was six and I  remember parts of my time on the ship. I  have very vague memories of my early childhood in England but most of my memories start from this very exciting time for my family. The first memory is when the ship left the dock in Liverpool everyone was crowded on deck, hanging over the rails waving, crying and singing the Mouri Farewell. "Soon we'll be sailing far across the sea...."
I also remember being scared of getting lost in the crowds of people. I even bawled a few times much to my family's dismay. They said, "How can you get lost on a ship?" (It seemed a pretty big place to me.)


Wednesday 19th January 1949
Weather quite cold this morning, but all on deck to watch for land as we are approaching Port Said, just off the Nile Delta but couldn’t see it. About 3:30 pm we sighted land and were excited and thrilled as we sailed to Port Said and the ship stopped at 4:00 pm. Lovely clean new looking buildings, palm trees and colourful surroundings. Small boats started coming along side and the decks were 3 deep with passengers who were all terribly excited. “Wogs” were soon selling their wares and everyone was jocular, bargaining for goods. Mostly nice leather goods, which were drawn up in baskets and then the money put in and sent down again. We bought a pouf fee for 30/-, straw hat for 5/-, handbag for 25/-, wallet for 2/6 a writing case for 10/- and a dagger. Thrilled with our purchases. Egyptians came on board to sell goods. Shoes, beads etc. Saw a wonderful conjuror. Still bargaining at 1:00 am. After the most thrilling day so far, we went to bed at 2:00 am with the ship still reloading. Got a lovely bunch of red roses in our cabin.

Thursday 20th January 1949
Awakened with tea at 6:30 am so we could rush out and see the banks of the Suez Canal, down which we started at 3:00 am. Sand and palm trees. Camels and Arab tents. Very colourful. Bitterly cold on deck but sat and watched interesting settlements. Wonderful colours. Golden sands. Cream buildings, swaying palms, turquoise water, emerald green patches of cultivation, war ships and soldiers. Arrived at Suez just before dark about 6:00 pm. Not quite as cold at night and we walked around the deck.

 Friday 21st January 1949
In the Red Sea this morning. Lovely sunshine. Lounged all day in the warm air. Housie Housie. Strolled around and discovered the crew playing their band and dancing. Huge flying fish. David spots porpoises.

Saturday 22nd Jan
Really hot. Everyone out in sunsuits. Real assortment. Sun just frying us up. We found a shady spot under the life boats, morning and afternoon. Temp 88 F. Had lovely shower before dinner. After dinner we had drinks and a stroll on deck to watch the phosphorescent sea. Wonderful and fascinating. Lights up greenish blue. Black velvet sky, thousands of stars. Clocks on one hour.
Crew all in white tropical kit. David went to the pictures out on the deck. Have to drink salt and water for perspiration.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

"I Love the Rough Sea"

Sunday 16th Jan 1949
Ship rolled a lot in the night. Loads sea sick again. Went on deck to see gale and storm. Lovely and rough and ship pitching and tossing. Diane and Len sick again, but I enjoyed breakfast. Starving again by 11 am although lots are looking rotten. Steak and onions for lunch. I had 2 helpings of sweets. I love the rough sea.
"I love the rough sea."

Monday 17th Jan
Lazy day. Slept and ate ice cream etc. Played Housie Housie but not lucky. Some won 9 pound prizes. Put clocks on another hour. Bed about 1:00 am.

Tuesday 18th Jan
Diane had shampoo at hairdressers. Another gale blowing. Pitching and tossing. Cloudy sky and cold. Washed and hung it out on the deck. Nearly blew me away while pegging it out. Dry in a jiffy. Strange feeling, ironing and swaying to and fro, but comfy kneeling down. Earlier to bed.

Monday, April 20, 2009

"I've Never Felt so Well in Years"

Thursday 13th January 1949
Children are better and Len looks better but is still pale and rather groggy. The sea is calm and it’s quite warm and sunny. Sat out on deck and went to the pictures in the afternoon. Had an invigorating salt water bath. Can buy almost anything on board. All stuff we never see in England. I can just get a 100 fags for 5/-, any brand any time, so I’m in my element. Every kind of drink can be had very cheap.

Friday 14th January 1949
It’s a lovely sunrise with a cloudless sky and we can see the coastline of Portugal. I sat and lay on the front deck all day except to gorge and it was really lovely. Passed Cape St Vincent quite near and saw the lighthouse. There are lots of deck games so David is playing all day long and we are all feeling fine now. In fact I’ve never felt so well in years. We played horse racing in lounge but didn’t win anything. All went on deck to watch the lights of Gibraltar and the coast of Africa in the evening Had supper in cabin. All cabin mates are a nice crowd. Turkey for dinner.
"I've never felt so well in years."

Saturday 15th January 1949
Lovely on deck this morning. Cloudless blue sky. Lazed around. After dinner sat in the lounge and had drinks. We went to see the dance and I had a tango. Saw Atlas Mts all among the clouds. Lights of Algiers and lighthouse at 8:30 pm. Never in bed before 12 pm. Clocks put forward one hour.
The Atlas Mts, north coast of Africa.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

THE DIARY

Continuing my mother's diary of our migration to Australia part of  My Story.
The ship was the Georgic a sister ship of the Titanic so I am linking with Sepia Saturdays theme of Titanic survivors.


Wednesday 12th January 1949
Breakfast is at 8am, so it meant up by 7am, as unfortunately there is no tea in bed, so it is go and get it.
The food is very good and there is always fresh fruit, any type of cereal required, bacon and eggs, or fish etc. Freshly baked rolls, which are the nicest pure white rolls I’ve ever tasted, with lashings of butter. For lunch there is always delicious soup, fish or savoury course, salads with ham, beef, tongue, roast beef, lamb and a nice variety of sweets, coffee etc. Afternoon tea is on the upper main deck with tea and warm buns crammed with fruit. Dinner at 6pm. We have soup, entrees, turkey, mashed and baked potatoes, peas, beans, carrots etc. Blancmange, fruit, rolls, cheese, biscuits. After all this we can buy wads of lovely biscuits and I could just keep gorging all day long.

(It must be remembered that my parents had suffered severe food shortages and rationing in England during and after the war years.)
 Mum, Dad and me sailing on the M.S. Georgic from England to Australia in 1949.

 It was January and the weather was cold when we set off.

 I was six and my brother, David was eleven.

Len and the children didn’t eat today. David felt sick and Diane was a little sick and Len absolutely laid flat. He looked awful and felt like dying, but I dragged him on deck. All day he was really ill, although the sea is quite calm. Loads of the other passengers are vomiting everywhere, while I am feeling as fit as a fiddle. Life boat drill.

Besides finding my mother's diary I also have her photo albums. These photos are 60 years old.
Life boat drill.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

FASCINATING FIND

I can't believe it is 15 years since I had to put my dear old mum into a nursing home, and cleaned out her apartment and brought her stuff home. I had noticed a diary amongst her belongings which looked interesting and thought to myself I must retype her story when I'm retired and have time. Well the time has come and I'm finding the diary fascinating. My mum had senile dementia and paranoia and lived another five years in the nursing home. She died 10 years ago this year. She was tortured by her illness and it saddened me to see her like that but reading her diary has reminded me what a vibrant, lively, adventurous, tough woman she was.
She was born in Yorkshire England in 1912. She was the second youngest of eight children. At 18 she went to London to study nursing and met my dad, who was a truck driver. They married and had my brother and me. They endured six years of war torn London and four more years of rationing and 'doing without'. So they decided to find a better life by migrating to "sunny Australia, the land of milk and honey" as it was advertised. This is her diary of the voyage to Australia in 1949.
It wasn't a new 1949 diary it is an old company diary with 1930 written on it. I have no idea where she got it from, if only it could talk to me. It says "The Fur Trade Aristocrat" on the cover. When I opened it I found.........
......a 1930 calendar and a letter mum had started writing to her friend, Dorothy. It obviously never got sent because mum had decided to turn it into diary entries. It started on Tuesday but she didn't write the date. However ,when I was researching the ship we came on, I discovered it left on Tuesday 11 January 1949. She writes.........
"We left the boat train on the Quay side and could see our boat lying at anchor, through the custom house window. Customs was a walk straight through, and up the gangway we hopped, at about 2 pm."

After a few entries she stops writing on the letter paper and continues in the old diary. She crossed out the diary dates and wrote her own in. Later she had crossed these out and put in new dates, but I found they didn't match with a 1949 calendar. Eventually after much puzzling I worked out that she had the days right but the date was one day behind. She mentioned she found it hard to keep track of the days as they often had to put the clock ahead an hour.

I flipped through the diary and found these interesting ads.
So the Diary was a business diary for "Mendoza Fur Dyeing Works." Mendoza Beaver is made from "carefully selected New Zealand Buck Coneys." I had no idea what they were, so I googled and found out it is a male rabbit. 'Lapin by Mendoza' is also a bunny it is also the language spoken by the rabbits in "Watershed Down".
Then we have the Seal fur which is made from the finest quality Buck Coneys. (Doesn't it sound awful today?) I still wonder how my mum got this book. There is no way she could afford a fur coat then. Anyway on with her writing...........
"It seemed as though thousands of people were walking around everywhere, and it looked as though we should never find our way around. When we had found our cabins we had a snack of fresh, crisp white rolls, loads of butter (no margarine on board), cold ham, beef and salad, tea or coffee.
At 6 pm we had dinner with roast lamb and all the trimmings.'Lovely grub.'
Very weary at 8pm, we tucked up in our bunks to sleep without unpacking much. Besides Diane and I there are 2 other women with a girl each, one 6 years old, so Diane has a playmate. One woman started being sick almost as soon as the boat moved, so I thought not so good. The beds are lovely and comfy and I slept well."
Printed on the back of this photo is: "GEORGIC" Alongside Princes Landing on Tuesday 11th January 1949, immediately prior to sailing with over 2,000 emigrants for Australia. (The Georgic is the ship at the back. The dock was in Liverpool)
(My mother didn’t explain that families didn’t have a cabin of their own. All the women and young children were on the upper decks with 6 to a cabin and the men and older boys were on the lower decks. So my brother and father were separated from my mother and me for the 5 week journey. However we spent a lot of time on the deck together.)

Linked to Sepia Saturday

Saturday, April 11, 2009

FABULOUS FRIENDS

We are so lucky to be blessed with lots of lovely friends. We enjoy having lunches, dinners, trips to the movies and holidays together. On Sunday we visited friends on the coast for lunch (last post) and........

.......on Wednesday we went by train to the Brisbane city to have lunch with......
..... Richard, Josephine and Colin at the Whistle Stop Bar.

On Good Friday we invited Norma and Joe for lunch and to discuss holiday plans.

I balanced the camera on the back of a chair.

BB barbequed New Zealand Snapper, I stuffed it with asian style vegies and herbs. Joe and Norma are from NZ, so I thought they would like it.

This looks a mess but it tasted good. Greek salad, bean salad, pumpkin salad, Russian salad and a stuffed baked potato. The fish is hiding underneath.

I was too lazy to decorate eggs this year so we made do with a commercial variety, including NZ marshmellow chocolate eggs from Joe and Norma.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A chocolate fix and lunch with a view.

Last Monday we were invited to the Gold Coast for lunch with friends, Keith and Barbara, who are there on holidays from London. On the way we stopped for a coffee but changed our mind when we found this interesting cafe called "Choclicious."

We had a hot chocolate instead of coffee and it was delicious.

While waiting to be served I saw these funny signs outside the cafe.





I liked the one above best.

I thought they were relevant to share with you as Easter is almost here.

Then it was time to find our friend's apartment. It was on the 6th floor and had a great view of the ocean and it was relaxing listening to the waves rolling in.

What can I see happening on the beach.......
Aha! Preparations for a beach wedding, sadly for them there was a very strong breeze...
...so strong that this kite surfer was flying across the water at a great speed.

Just a little way along from the wedding was a class of school children having a surfing lesson.

Another class was having a board riding lesson.

We were served a nice lunch with a fabulous view.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Dr Howard Ralph


Last month I wrote a post about Howie Ralph a fellow I met at teacher's college, who is now a medical doctor and a veterinarian. He was in the news for volunteering his services to save animals burnt in the bush fires. Now he is in the news again.

Dr Howard Ralph has been nominated for a 2009 Pride of Australia medal in recognition of his devotion to saving native wildlife.

Another friend ,Keith, has more information about Dr Ralph on his blog "PNG Attitude"

Saturday, April 4, 2009

MY GARDEN (for Sassy)

One of my blogger friends asked to see more of my garden ages ago. Now it so happens Sassy is feeling a bit upset at the moment so hopefully a trip around my garden will calm her and make her feel better.














Here is a video I made ages ago. I've even forgotten how I did it. Hope you enjoy.