Monday, February 14, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History:
- Week 7, Toys

This week's blog challenge:
  • Week 7: Toys. What was your favourite childhood toy? Is it still being made in some form today?
I was a real bookworm as a child. In fact, I use to read so much, curled up in my room, or on the sofa in the lounge, that my Dad used to often tell me to go outside and play.

Dad often brought toys back from his trips at sea - often from the States. Toys that we couldn't get in NZ. I remember when I was very young, Dad brought home a walking talking doll that was as big as me! She had curly hair, and I remember the first time I saw her walking: Dad had set her off, and she came walking into my bedroom crying "Ma-Ma, Ma-Ma". Well, I freaked out . . .  she terrified me!

As I said in the previous week, I was given a mechanical Dalek - which I thought really cool. Didn't last for long, as it broke. I played with my various Barbie dolls of course. Loving the ones with bendy knees. I use to role play, and act stories out with them; later I was to get good marks at school for my creative writing.

My Dad brought a lime green bike back from a trip, it had ape hangers and a banana seat, with "Dill Pickle" painted across its crossbar.

I remember a space hopper and a pogo stick at one point. And roller skates - I loved my roller skates. They were adjustable, strap on kind. We had a rink nearby that played disco music. I loved to dance (still do) and roller skating to music was just so much fun!

I played tennis, badminton and netball. So got a tennis racquet, badminton set and a netball at various stages of my life.

If I can't choose books, then I guess my favourite "toy" from when I was a young child, was probably my Barbie dolls (if I couldn't read books, then I could make stories up).

And when I was a young teen, it would have been my roller skates.

My daughters have had Barbie dolls of all sorts (including the Disney ones), and they have had roller blades - the boot expandable types.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History
- Radio & Television

This week's challenge:
Week 6: Radio and Television. What was your favorite radio or television show from your childhood? What was the program about and who was in it?
When I was still at primary school, my parents used to give me Dad's "wireless" radio to listen to on Sunday mornings. My "treat" was that I was allowed to lie in bed and listen to the morning stories. Stories such as Molly Woppy, Sparky and the Talking Train, Diana and the Golden Apple, Little Toot, and songs such as Flick the Fire Engine etc.

I thought it was a fabulous treat . . . of course it was a ploy to keep me in bed longer! And it worked!

TV: I was a big Doctor Who fan growing up. "My" Doctor was Jon Pertwee. The Daleks and the Cybernauts were my favourite baddies. I used to hide behind the couch when they came on (as nearly ever child my age did no doubt). I remember being given a toy Dalek, which another child broke (I never broke my own toys, others always did it for me). It was never quite the same for me when Tom Baker took over.

I also loved Follyfoot Farm. I love all animals, and I was a huge horse fan. Used to spend hours drawing horses. Reading horse books. Watching any programmes that had horses in it.

I also loved Lassie (dogs), Daktari (lions), Flipper (dolphins), and Skippy (the bush kangaroo).

I rarely missed an episode of the Tomorrow People. They use to "jaunt" everywhere  - hold on to their belts and disappear from one place and reappear in another. I remember the shaggy 70s haircuts and bell bottom.

Star Trek, Space 1999
were also huge. Not sure if I was a SciFi fan as such, or if it was just people had such a fascination with space due to the Moon landings, that those are the programmes that were made. Interestingly, my husband's father was an electrician who did "special effects" on Space 1999, (he also did Alien - which is another story).

Then there was an Australian convict drama I used to love called Against the Wind, it starred Jon English and he also sung the theme song "Six Ribbons". I was a teen then, and had a wee crush on Jon. Loved his moody eyes etc.

Wow - walk down memory street or what?

Waitangi Day Blog Challenge
- Your earliest known New Zealand ancestor

I set this challenge, after seeing the huge success of the similar Australian blog challenge set by Shelley of Twigs of Yore, I thought I'd better contribute myself. I'm terribly embarrassed that this is so late, but had a very sick husband to contend with.

The challenge was to write a blog about your earliest NZ ancestor:
  • How different is our life from that of your early NZ ancestors? (settler or Maori)
  • What stories can you tell us about their lives? 
  • If you are first generation New Zealander or maybe a new Kiwi, perhaps you might like to tell us of your first impressions of New Zealand, and your experiences of settling in here; and how Kiwi traditions and culture differs from your own.
I wasn't born here, but definitely consider myself a Kiwi. I was born in Plymouth in England, and we emigrated to New Zealand when I was about four years old.

Dad was in the Royal Navy, and had had various postings around the UK and world. We had a spell in Bahrain when I was about two. Returning to England, I was plagued with chronic chest infections, tonsilitis etc.  The advice was to emigrate to a warmer climate.

Dad wanted Canada, as we had relatives there. Mum fancied New Zealand. She knew of people that had been there. So New Zealand it was. Dad transferred to the New Zealand Navy. More sensible idea probably - New Zealand's climate is more temperate, especially the North Island.

It was the late (19)60s, so we were hardly early settlers, but nevertheless moving to the other side of the world away from your family and starting again, in those days was still pretty admirable.

I don't really remember life much prior to arriving in New Zealand. Vague snatches of memory, that might not be true memories - could be implanted memories through hearing so many stories.

We lived in Devonport, Auckland. My early memories in New Zealand, are of beaches, and hot sunny summers. Freedom climbing trees.

We went back to the UK when I was eight. My sister had been born by then (a true Kiwi), and my mother was in the early stages of pregnancy. We were returning as "married accompanied".

Dad was one of the crew taking the HMNZS Blackpool back to the UK to be decommissioned; and would be returning later with the newly commissioned HMNZS Canterbury.

My memories of the UK then, are of being cold and damp. Snow, rain and greyness.

I also have memories of family. This trip enabled me to meet family again but this time, I would be able to remember them as I was older.

We spent time with my paternal grandfather Hedley, and my godfather who was also my great-uncle Jim. My Aunty Eve, and my Great-Aunty Maggie; and a variety of cousins.

Dad was again stationed at various places around the UK:- Portsmouth and Gosport are the two I remember the best in England; and Edinburgh in Scotland.

In Scotland, I got to spend time with my mother's parents. I lived with my maternal grandparents for a while, when my parents wanted to ensure I had settled schooling for a period. My grandparents lived in Corstorphine, and I was very proud of my school uniform which was a grey pinafore with white blouse and a tie. I got to meet my Scots Uncle and Aunty, and my cousins too.

My brother and sister were born in Edinburgh - my mother unexpectedly had twins! These were pre-scan days, and so they were a real surprise. The twins were the first babies born to a crew member that were christened on board HMNZS Canterbury. Not the first babies sadly, a non-crew member bet us to it. All their names are engraved on the ships bell, which is now in the naval museum.

Returning to New Zealand, I remember being very ill. I had a tummy upset, which I blamed at the time on the fact that I was made to eat pease pudding, which I hated. Turned out to be a bug though.

Dad sailed back with the Canterbury of course; so my poor mother had a (sick) eight year old, a two year old, and twins who were only a few months old, to cope with on the very long flights home!

Arriving back in New Zealand was confusing. We drove to the "Navy Pool House" that we would be living in, and found some kind soul had unpacked it for us and put everything away. I remember seeing my sister's Elephant Ride-On and saying "I thought Dumbo was in New Zealand".

Being back in New Zealand again evokes memories of sunshine, beaches and freedom. Again, we were in Auckland.

However, we soon moved to Wellington, when Dad arrived back, and lived there for a number of years. Wellington was cooler and damper, but still had glorious summers.

I remember Mum telling stories of little faux pas, that were made in the early days. In England, you would buy corned beef. When Mum bought the equivalent here, she found it very tough and salty. In the UK, she'd have slow roasted it in the oven. Course here, its corned silverside, and its slowly pot roasted (preferably in a crockpot).

Then there is the confusing "bring a plate" instruction, when coming to someone's house. Even more confusing is the "bring a bottle". Fortunately, with more frequent international travel and the influence of TV, these instructions are not so confusing these days.

I went back to the UK again, when I was 26. Felt my roots calling me, wanted to visit family, and wanted to travel.

First sensation, getting off a tube in Victoria Station, was the panicked feeling of claustrophobia. Too many people, feeling crushed. People seemed shorter. The streets were dirty, dusty. But I also felt awestruck - gorgeous heritage buildings, so much history.

I was in the UK for 11 years. During that time, I met my husband, and brought him back to New Zealand for a few visits. I saw New Zealand through the eyes of a tourist. Beautiful country, clean, green, gorgeous scenery. Friendly people.

When our girls were born, we realised what NZ had to offer for families. Its a family-friendly country. Parks are clean and free of litter and dog pooh (no syringes, cigarette butts or condoms either). We could let our girls down to play. The malls and shops all had decent parent and baby rooms. (I remember trying to breastfeed the girls in Debenhams in Kingston upon Thames, in a mother and baby room which was little more than a window-less cupboard with a chair in it).

That trip was the decider for us. I was coming home, and bringing my family with me. 

– My "One large and two small souvenirs of my big OE"!

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Friday, February 4, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History:
- Week 5, Favourite Food

This week's blog challenge:
Week 5: Favorite Food. What was your favorite food from childhood? If it was homemade, who made it? What was in this dish, and why was it your favorite? What is your favorite dish now?
Food was largely plain when I was growing up. New Zealand in the 1970s didn't have lot of choices in the shops. Cooking was largely bland, with few people experimenting. Our home wasn't that different, I expect.

However, one thing my mum cooked that I loved, was a sweet curry. True, it was a tamed down version of curry, but curry it was nonetheless.

She used to make it with chicken, and put sultanas, apples, pears, bananas - oh whatever she got her hands on, in it. I loved it. Mum had learned to cook it when Dad was stationed in Bahrain, in the Persian Gulf (when he was still in the Royal Navy). We lived there for a couple of years from when I was about two.

The weather was very hot there of course, and the idea was to eat hot spicy food to bring your internal body temperature up to your external body temperature.

I still love sweet currys (although spicier than when I was a child). I love the fact that you can get so many different ingredients, and eat food from so many different ethnicities.

My favourite food of choice though, is Italian food. Not so much the pastas and pizzas, but the other Italian dishes. I just love the mix of herbs, spices - the sauces etc.

I do cook a mean lasagne actually, so I am told by anyone who has it. I usually cook a beef lasagne, although I have been known to whip up a vegetable lasagne when we have a vegetarian come over for dinner.

I love the Kiwi barbecue. My husband, who is English, has a Kiwi soul. And even before I'd brought him back to NZ for a visit, he could cook a barbecue better than most people I know. We like meats with marinades, yummy potato salads, and I do a green salad that has so many different ingredients in it: sweetcorn kernels, egg, cheese, tomatoes, beetroot, cucumber, peppers, grated carrot - and lettuce (mesculin preferably).

Now its 11.30pm and all this talk of food has made my tummy rumble . . . I'm hungry!