Friday, 28 April 2017

#52Stories, Week 17, Where are your roots ? Do you feel strong ties to a particular place, either because of your own personal experiences or your ancestry ?

Where are my roots ? 

Definitely not in Auckland.

There is some thing about the "Tron" (Hamilton) but I think really it is just it's familiarity; growing up there and returning for holidays to visit people after we moved. Then moving back for a couple of years as a young Mum after returning from Australia.

Welly ? It is probably some of the same. When I came back from overseas, flying in to land in Wellington always felt like coming home. But actually ? Although I probably have spent the majority of my life living there, and I have some great friends (who I don't see nearly as much of as I would like) it doesn't have the same pull that it used to anymore.

Christchurch ? I LOVE this city, I really enjoyed my brief time living there and I love visiting. It has family connections too (grandparents, great grandparents, great great grandparents...) Great drives north to Blenheim along the coast (before the earthquake), and south to Dunedin, inland to Tekapo or over to the West Coast. It doesn't quite have the pull to make me want to return and stay - just yet. Maybe one day.

There are plenty of other places that I like to visit in New Zealand; Matamata, Thames, Cambridge, Blenheim, Motueka, Kaikoura, Dunedin... But I'm a city girl and I think the idea of an idyllic life in a small town or city would wear thin pretty fast for me. New Zealand doesn't do provincial towns well compared to what I have seen in other countries.

Sydney is always exciting to visit and it still has that pull drawing me back. I love it's familiarity, the ease of getting from place to place by ferry, bus or train. It does still have a bit of a feeling of coming home, and it is always hard to say goodbye.

Brisbane, not so much. It has some great points, don't get me wrong, but it never really had that "home" feeling for me. I don't know why.

Adelaide is a bit the same. I liked living there, the architecture and the ease of getting around. Maybe that has something to do with why I like Christchurch too - they were designed by the same person (Colonel Light) with squares and parklands and an easy to navigate grid like layout. Streets inside the parklands, roads and long avenues outside of them. The weather was a bit extreme 40+ in the summer and snow on the hills in winter. For me though, at the time, it felt a l-o-n-g way from home. I've been back once and found the quiet pace a bit too slow for me.

Melbourne, not a city I have lived in, but definitely a city I COULD live in, or try to live in. Something about the vibe, and all the green in the inner city. The walks along the river and the public transport.

Canberra, a new city I have recently discovered and one which holds a certain amount of interest for me. I could live there, there is a lot of artsy stuff going on and they have proper weather. I could fly back to Wellington without having to drive, train or fly to Sydney first. I'm just not so sure there are enough work opportunities.

Other places in Oz ? Bendigo, Tamworth, Port Macquarie, Forster, Wollongong, Kiama, Goulburn...I've only lived (briefly) in Forster and in even smaller Werris Creek (near Tamworth) but these are all towns I have enjoyed visiting, so who knows.

Utah, the friendliest and most surprising state from last year's whirlwind tour. All of the states which were part of the holiday were unexpected surprises. But the friendliness and welcoming nature of people encountered in Utah was a stand-out. The landscape offers plains and prairies and enormous mountains with ski resorts. Anyone up for a timeshare ? I think I could be. The only negatives are the getting a green card palaver...and the current administration. 3 years 265 days to go (at most).

England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Europe. It is almost ten years since I first travelled to the UK and arriving there just felt like I belonged. Returning three years ago with big plans (which faltered and failed) that feeling was still there. Like my bones and my soul know. From a distance I still yearn for it, Somerset, London, East Anglia, West Midlands, the Marches, Wales, Scotland. In fact every inch of it. The villages, the cities, the people, the scenery, the history. I don't think there was anywhere that I didn't really like. Circumstance made some places seem a bit unappealing, but not enough to not go and try again, sometime. Ireland is one country I haven't been to yet, along with most of Europe - but one day I am sure they will draw me back - and hopefully let me stay.

So, where are my roots ? I don't think there is any one place yet, I just don't think I have found that exact place just yet. 

But I do know, it ain't here. Auckland, you're on notice. Your time is nearly up.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Christchurch: Autumnal Glory and an Air of Renewal

After the frenetic pace of the last few weeks at work, a long planned weekend away was suddenly upon us.

Christchurch has to be one of my favourite New Zealand cities. I really enjoyed living there, even though it was just for 12 months. Returning to visit is always enjoyable. In it's current rebuilding phase, there is always something new to see, always stark reminders of the pain and suffering the city and it's people are still working through.

The autumn colours are much more vibrant than in Auckland where it still feels too warm to be called autumn. The rivers and parks provide opportunities to be amongst nature and to enjoy walking in the fresh air.

Two days was just not long enough really. Time to meet up with friends for meals, and family too as Mum and Dad had come down from Blenheim to see a show. Time for a wander about some of our favourite places - even a drive over the hills to the hidden gem which is Lyttelton, Charteris Bay and Diamond Harbour.

Flowers at the airport
Gorgeous wallpaper at Little Poms - reminiscent of the airport flowers

Street Art is always amazing in Christchurch

 Some houses are still hurting
 Where once there were homes and streets, now there are pathways
 and signs only visible to those in the know - boundary planting and 
 clues on fences where letterboxes once stood, and telephone cabling at the "kerbside"

 Stoddarts cottage - Diamond Harbour

Sunset, back in Auckland

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Canberra, a planned city, but is it part of my plan ?

So grabaseat had one of those deals a while back. You know, the hard to resist ones. So we bought tickets. But this time we thought we'd go exploring somewhere different.

March rolled around and we flew to Sydney, picked up a rental car and drove to Canberra. Never been there before - apart from a whistle-stop detour once. But only to the outlet mall to get food and find restrooms on our way back from a tiki tour from Nowra.

We'd done a fair amount of research prior to this trip, places to eat, places to stay, places to visit, how to get around.

Canberra is young city, just 104 years old in the form it is now. The area has been inhabited by European settlers (some free some not) since the early 1800's. The city as it is was designed, a planned city. People rave on about the roundabouts - I didn't find them that confusing. What did surprise me was the size of the city, for a small city, with a small population as cities go, there is a lot of wide open spaces. The centres of Belconnen, Woden etc look fairly close on a map - and are when you consider the sprawling chaos that is Auckland. But actually getting there on ring roads, means driving through vast tracts of unpopulated or industrialised land. There are possibly more direct ways, but we didn't find them.

We loved the CBD, the inner suburbs of Kingston, Manuka, Barton, Forrest, Braddon, New Acton. The sunsets, and the ever changing vistas across the lake. The orderliness of it's being. Canberra is shaking off the mantle of boring city, filled with stuffy public servants and becoming quite hip. Great food places, cafes, food trucks, coffee, bars can be found all around. It isn't super crowded busy bustling city either. The pace of life seems very relaxed. It is filled with great attractions, museums, art galleries, libraries, zoo, parks, parliamentary life, memorials, an arboretum. It is driving distance to the ski fields in winter, the coast, wineries, markets. There are many cultural events as well to appeal to all spectrums.

I could live there, I would in fact, if I could get myself a job. Direct flights back to Wellington - just an added bonus.

We fluked being the week that Enlighten was on and also the beginning of the balloon festival. 

#52Stories, Week 16, How many different homes or apartments have you lived in throughout your life ? How many different cities ? What have you gained (or lost) in each of those moves ?

Ellicott Road, Frankton, Hamilton
Tramway Road, Enderley, Hamilton
Cortina Avenue, Johnsonville, Wellington
Orpington Street, Ashfield, Sydney, New South Wales
Cleland Road, Artarmon, Sydney, New South Wales
Eighth Avenue, Campsie, Sydney, New South Wales
Smiths Avenue, Hurstville, Sydney, New South Wales
cnr Single & Poole Streets, Werris Creek, New South Wales
McIntosh Street, Forster, New South Wales (I think)
Monomeeth Street, Bexley, Sydney, New South Wales
Woronora Parade, Oatley, Sydney, New South Wales
Hornibrook Esplanade, Clontarf, Queensland
Joseph Street, Margate, Queensland
Madras Street, Khandallah, Wellington
Connolly Street, Melling, Lower Hutt
Tennant Street, Torrens Park, Adelaide, South Australia
Ella Street, Parkside, Adelaide, South Australia
Norton Street, Ashfield, Sydney, New South Wales
Beamish Street, Campsie, Sydney, New South Wales
Madras Street, Khandallah, Wellington
Pulham Crescent, Queenwood, Hamilton
Oakley Avenue, Claudelands, Hamilton
Pringle Place, Rotokauri Park, Hamilton
Madras Street, Khandallah, Wellington
Madras Street, Khandallah, Wellington (different house)
Adams Lane, Springlands, Blenheim
McBeath Avenue, Hoon Hay, Christchurch
Adams Lane, Springlands, Blenheim
Ruawai Road, Mt Wellington, Auckland
...Birkenhead, Auckland

What have I gained ?
Friends, stuff, great memories, the chance to explore new places, the ability to pack...

What have I lost ?
Some friends, some stuff (right now some linen that I haven't found since Wellington), a bit of money...

Saturday, 8 April 2017

#52Stories, Week 15, Where did you go the very first time you moved out of your parents' home ? Did you have roommates ? Did you live alone ? Did you get married right away ? Tell the story.


August 1979. Back when you didn't need a passport to jump the ditch.

I went with a friend - well she went first and I joined her later. Long story. We shared a unit with her sisters who had been in Sydney for a couple of years.

It didn't last. She went back to New Zealand about three weeks after I arrived. Her escape plan failed - or maybe it was her plan all along, there was a baby on the way !

But I stayed, I continued to share with her sisters, who I knew vaguely from Wellington. It was tough, but I'm not a quitter, and it made sense. They had a three bedroom unit, there were three of us. Ashfield, inner west, close to transport, close-ish to the city, good shopping. We fell into a comfortable sort of routine, sharing the shopping, cooking, housework etc. 

We would each buy the paper on the way home from work and see who could complete the crossword first and get the most words in the TARGET puzzle. Watch the Young Doctors, Cop Shop, Skyways, Dallas, Countdown - listen to Bob Dylan, Bob Seger, Cold Chisel, Dragon, Boomtown Rats, Little River Band, Doobie Brothers. The lady downstairs didn't like Bob Seger's Katmandu. She used to bang on her ceiling (our floor) with a broom or something until we turned it down.

On Fridays we would meet after work at Wynyard, have ravioli or canneloni for dinner at an Italian "restaurant" in the arcade then hit the bars. There were a few in the station complex, part of the Menzies I think. One was style like a plane long and narrow with fake windows  - a bit different. I learned pretty quickly to change how I ordered my drinks. 

"Vodka and Raro" 
"What ? Bloody Kiwis !" 
"Ooops, I meant Vodka and Orchy" or 

"Southern Comfort and Paeroa" 
"Huh ?" 
"Oh, I meant Coke"

Mostly we would end up at a couple of wine bars somewhere around Angel Place before making our way home in a cab or on a late train.

On Saturday nights we'd go back into town, running to the station in our heels to catch the train, catch a movie, have a wine or three, check out a live band at a pub, go to a party in Bondi, Paddington...or go to a Leagues club or RSA. 

Sundays sometimes we'd do a bit of shopping or sightseeing. See how far we could get on the trains without paying a fare, and if we got caught without a ticket we'd say we'd got on at the last station. Best deal ? A day out to Gosford to the Wildlife Park (where the bats had us scrambling, almost on the floor from one end of the nocturnal enclosure to the exit door, in fright) for just a 30 cent train fare- return ! Score.

After about six months we moved to the North Shore and lived in Artarmon, close to Chatswood in a great apartment. Eventually though, they decided to return to New Zealand so the partnership broke up and I went off on my own. 

In a new direction. Making new friends.

Monday, 3 April 2017

#52Stories, Week 14, In childhood, did you share a bedroom with siblings or have a room to yourself ? What kind of things did you collect and display in your little corner of the world ?

I had my own room. Sometimes I used to wish I has a sister to share with. The only times I shared was when someone came to stay and I moved into my brother's room, or if I had a friend stay over.

Mostly though the spare bed in my room was buried by things. I kept my toys in the wardrobe and had a bookcase built in one end to store all of my treasured books. There were two windows, it was a nice light and sunny room.

When we moved to Wellington my bedroom was upstairs and slightly smaller - no room for two beds anymore.

I covered the walls of both rooms with posters and postcards people had sent from around the world, or I had collected from places visited in New Zealand. I collected little ornaments too, some were Mum's passed down to me, others I won in side-shows at the A&P shows or was given for birthday and Christmas.

I had a standing order at the local newsagent in Fifth Ave, and later at Johnsonville Mall for 16, Tiger Beat and Seventeen. 16 & Tiger Beat were the best, filled with celebrity gossip about, interviews with and posters of TV stars, movie stars and singers.

There were other posters too, which I bought from Solomon's Seal in Johnsonville Mall with dreamy pictures and profound sayings "If you love something set it free..." and the like.

These are some of the posters I had back in the day...

Cat Stevens

Craig Scott

David Cassidy

The Jacksons

The Osmonds
 (the one from 16 had the Jacksons on the reverse side !)

There was David Essex as well, Bobby Sherman, Rick Springfield, Marc Bolan, Bay City Rollers and others. 

Sunday, 2 April 2017

#52Stories, Week 13, If you could make a good living doing the one thing you love most in the world, what would it be ?

Well, I think being a family research detective might just be my dream job

Anyone got any contacts at ? ? ? Heir Hunters ? I'd move to Utah quick as you could blink, or Sydney, or London or New York or LA - anywhere they have an office.

I've been thinking about jumping into this market for a few years now - since I have had some mind blowing breakthroughs in my own family research. I have also helped some friends find out about their families too, in New Zealand, Australia and England. 

I love poring through records deciphering handwriting from the past. Admittedly it would be great to view the originals, but the many records which are now available online are just as easy to read. On the plus side I can do it from the comfort of home and save money on travel to the other side of the world.

Saying that though, travel and family history research - combining the two would just improve my job satisfaction level exponentially.

Part of my failed plan to relocate to the UK a few years back was to set myself up there to help folk back on this side of the world with research, headstone hunting, village exploring. Putting the flesh on the bones of our ancestors. Names and dates are one thing, finding where they lived and how they lived just brings them closer. Maybe I will get another shot at that before I am too old and decrepit. 

If you are keen to get started let me know, maybe I can help. If you have already started but got stuck...let me know. I love a challenge. I think I should have been a detective.

Anyway, to really get paid work in this field you need to have some qualifications, it seems. Thirty years of doing it yourself doesn't appear to count for too much. With this in mind I am looking to enrol in a diploma which is available in Australia.

I'll keep you updated with developments !

Saturday, 1 April 2017

#52Stories, Week 12, Did you stumble into your career or deliberately work and plan to get where you are ? Are you happy in your current role ? or would you like to make a change ?

I stumbled....and I am still stumbling.

When I was little I thought I might be a nurse, or a teacher. That's what girls did. When I started college I wondered about law - I studied Latin. Toward the end of my college years I very seriously considered studying Home Science at Otago University to become a dietician.

To do this I needed to hot-house Chemistry. Great. With my other classes I couldn't make it work at school, so needed to enrol with the Correspondence School and do it that way. Chemistry was never a favourite thing of mine, and what did it have to do with food for heaven's sake. Anyway, I tried. I also applied for a bursary - just in case I didn't pass exams at the end of the year. 

Halfway through the year, feeling very much less academic than my classmates, and spending a lot of the time in the common room in study periods, I didn't have great results in mid year exams. So I decided to leave. I had an interview at State Insurance and maybe (foggy memory now) was offered the job. However the principal at college had different ideas. If I stuck at it she was sure I'd get better results and have a brighter future than working in an office. So I hung in for another term.

I applied for another job, this time at Bank of New Zealand I got that, and started in September. I still thought I might go to uni, but by the time I got the letter telling me I had been awarded/granted a bursary to go, I was earning more than the $32 a week that they were going to give me to study. So I kissed that idea goodbye.

Banking was a great industry to be in, computers were just starting to get introduced, credit cards were a whole new thing and they spoke of strange things to come in the future (boxes in the wall where you could put in a "banking card" and get money from your account) ! It was a very social work environment too.

When I left the bank and moved to Australia my first role was with a Health Fund where computers had never been heard of, where everything was done by hand, people sat at little desks like in school in rows set out as if you were at an exam. No talking to each other there unless you were on a break. You had to "bundy" on and off, and pay came hand delivered by the girls from payroll in a great big box, accompanied by security staff. Pay itself was in a small brown packet envelope in CASH, actual dollars and cents. So last century !

So mostly my jobs over the past 40 years have been admin/office based. Some in the financial sector, some in government. Some in sales (which I never thought was my thing, but hey) and others just process work which was always busy and mostly fun. 

Then there is this job which was full of promise but has turned out to be pretty blah. Slow one day and slower the next. To be fair it is a bit busier right now, but I can only see that lasting a few more weeks until it is back to nothing.

I've never had any great career aspirations, maybe I should have gone to uni and studied while I could and when it was free - I sure can't afford to do it now.

So I guess I will keep stumbling along. Remembering the fun times at BNZ and Yellow and Hawkins and wondering where I might find that again.

#52Stories, Week 11, Do you like to dabble in lots of different hobbies ? Or do you have one primary pastime that takes up most of your free hours and energy ?

I like to do all sorts of things. Time however just runs away. There just isn't enough of it. And working uses up so much time where I could be doing the things I love.

So if there was time, and having to work for a living wasn't a necessary evil, these are the things I enjoy:

cross stitch, tapestry, embroidery

In the past I have also collected stamps and postcards, I have written letters to penfriends all around the world.

These days though it seems my free time is consumed by family history. Researching, discovering, connecting and reconnecting. I love it.

#52Stories, Week 10, Do you know the story of how your parents met and fell in love ? What about your grandparents ?

I know that Dad met Mum when he was working at Whakamaru or Maraetai and living in the single men's quarters, Mum was still at high school in Mangakino. Before she left home to study nursing and while he was still studying engineering - working in construction of hydro stations on the Waikato river.

What about the next generation back ? Why didn't I ask this question years ago ?? 

My maternal grandparents must have met in Christchurch somewhere. My Uncle thought they had met at Coleridge hydro power station when it was under going a construction expansion; that Nana was working at the hostel and Grandad was living in the single men's quarters. Mum thought that Nana had worked at a dentist surgery in Christchurch before she married.

Their wedding certificate gives their addresses as Merivale and Riccarton. Grandad's parents lived in Middleton Road Riccarton, so I know that part is right.

Nana had only arrived in New Zealand on November 1st, 1929. She arrived in Auckland and travelled by train then ferry and another train to Greymouth on the West Coast where her sister and husband had settled after arriving in New Zealand in 1926, and where there was a now baby niece to get acquainted with.

So at some point before December 1931 she must have moved back to Christchurch for employment. Grandad was a Fitter, he had completed his apprenticeship with P & D Duncan Ltd in Christchurch. Did they simply meet on the tram ? Merivale and Riccarton aren't that far apart. At a dance ? at church ? or at the dentist ? or did Nana know someone who knew the family ? Mum says he was in a band and played xylophone and maybe sax too, all his siblings played instruments as well...I guess we will just have to keep supposing now though.

As for my paternal grandparents - same thing. 

Nana worked for a time as a waitress in Auckland while she studied shorthand typing at night school. She later worked for Ellis & Burnand in Hamilton. Her sister Maude worked at the Central Waikato Electric Power Board. So did Pop. Did Maude introduce them ? Or again did they meet at a dance, or church ? 

Both of their families lived in Hamilton East. There were also lots of people in the timber trade in both families; builders and saw-millers. Did they meet by chance that way through relatives doing business together ? or through Nana's work at Ellis & Burnand ? More supposing to do.

Some people keep diaries. I used to, now I blog intermittently. Nana Davys did, but I don't think we will find anything in any of them to solve this question. But wouldn't it be grand if we could uncover these facts 

"April 1, met someone today. He seems kind and thoughtful, just the sort of person I hope I will marry one day."

But no.

For generations further back there are stories about how some met, others can be pieced together through census locations and social times. But we will never know for sure.

The lesson here is to ask while you still can. Record the answers and tell others your own story and theirs to pass on and enrich the history of your family for the next generations.

History is not just in the distant past, it is yesterday. What you do today will be history tomorrow. Somebody some time in the future will be interested in our lives too, and what we did, and how we interacted with each other. How the global or local events impacted our lives.