Tuesday, September 16, 2014

EVERYTHING IS COMING UP ROSES; BUT A ROSE ISN’T JUST A ROSE



A section of Moray Street, New Farm, Brisbane...circa 2014
Brisbane River bank at Oxlade Drive, New Farm
Another view of riverbank at Oxlade Drive
Brisbane's Warana Festival, 1968

Brunswick Hotel, New Farm
Similar style of house to that in which my Oxlade Drive flat was
Glenfalloch...and the New Farm Ferry


One Saturday morning in September 1968 my first husband Mervyn and I went for a reasonably short stroll along Moray Street, New Farm from our point of departure, the unit we’d shared for the previous two and a half years. Down around a bend and then around a corner into Oxlade Drive we went with Mervyn lugging a six-foot, maybe six and a half foot bookcase  – what’s a half inch or two between shelves – across his shoulders.  It was his pride and joy.  He’d built it for me during our marriage.  After his first time effort of creating such a masterpiece he gave up cabinet-making and carpentry forever, I think.  My comments are not in any way nasty.  Both of us joked about the one-off (in many ways) bookcase then; and still do if it comes up in our conversations of today.

The Saturday I write about is the day Mervyn and I separated.  Our decision to part wasn’t a spur of the moment decision.  We’d discussed in depth the direction in which we were headed; and what each of us wanted out of life.  For us to go our separate ways was the logical solution. I believe we handled it amicably and with maturity.

Up bright and early, I cooked a hearty breakfast for the both of us.  A busy morning was in store.

Mervyn assisted me in my move.  I wasn’t going to leave the bookcase behind…it was mine; and it had been made for me with love – and lots of laughter.  At that stage in my young life it was the only piece of furniture I owned.  The unit we’d lived in was furnished.

 The bookcase was too big to it in our car, a Volkswagen Beetle, so hence its manually transportation. Once we’d deposited the famous bookcase in my new abode we walked back to our unit, chatting all the way.  Mervyn intended to remain living in the unit after my departure.

My destination that sunny spring morning was a fully-furnished, one-bedroom flat on the banks of the Brisbane River. The rear section of a house had been converted into the roomy flat. From the bedroom was an expansive view across the river to Norman Park and East Brisbane.

On our return to the marital unit for me to gather up the rest of my belongings, which were ready to be loaded into the “Beetle”, our upstairs’ neighbours called out to us.

We’d kept our intentions to ourselves.  Our parting was nobody else’s business but our own. 

We got on very well with young couple who lived in the unit above us. They were around the same ages we were.  In the November I was turning 24 years of age; and Mervyn had turned 29 years in the June of 1968.  

Often the four of us shared dinner and/or a few drinks, in either their unit or ours.  Sometimes we hit the town together.  Terry (husband) and Chris (wife) had migrated to Australia from the UK two or three years previously. They were a nice, fun couple and we shared many good times with them.

Noticing activity going on down below, Terry and Chris called out to us: “Are you two going to watch the parade?  We are!  Why don’t you guys come with us?  It’ll be fun!”

What could we say?  Mervyn and I looked at each other; burst out laughing and said: “Sure! Okay!  Why not?  Hold on for few minutes so we can get changed into other gear.”

So we stopped what we were doing; raced inside to change into clothes more suitable for public parade-viewing.

Brisbane’s Warana Festival came into being in 1961.  It was a community festival where people from all walks of life and interests participated.  It was Queensland’s first Arts Festival. It included an eisteddfod, a Writers’ Week, a harmless Miss Warana pageant (no apologies to the Feminists Movement who were burning their bras back then; the women’s underwear manufacturers were making a killing because behind the scenes, the bras were being replaced with a new lot), a Colonial Fair, amongst many other events, sporting and outdoor activities of a wide variety.  Eventually it morphed into the biannual Brisbane Festival; and later a joyous annual celebration, River Festival came along as an entirely separate event.  It didn’t want to miss out on all the fun.  Now all that’s left is River Festival with its impressive, brilliant extravaganza of fireworks called “Riverfire”. On the Saturday night of the Festival “Riverfire” lights up the sky above the inner city and the Brisbane River.  “Ooohs” and “aaahs” compete with the noise of the fireworks.

Terry and Chris waited patiently for Mervyn and me to ready ourselves, but before too long the four of us piled into our sturdy, grey-coloured Vee-Dub.

As we went on our merry way, which wasn’t far to go because New Farm is only a hop, skip and half a jump and hardly a change of gears from Fortitude Valley our viewing point of the parade, Mervyn and I disclosed what we were doing before we'd downed tools to join in with the Warana Festival celebrations.

It really need not be said that Terry and Chris were surprised when the heard our “news”.  “Surprised” is putting it mildly; but they accepted it philosophically. So we continued as normal, keen to enjoy our interlude, not letting a marriage break-up spoil the fun.

After the parade was over we headed homewards, but stopped on our way to pay a brief visit to the old Brunswick Hotel situated, oddly enough, in Brunswick Street, New Farm.

I’ll never forget Terry chuckling over his beer; “This is the weirdest break-up I’ve ever heard of!  What couple stops in the middle their “moving-out” to go and watch a street parade?”

Mervyn and I laughed along with him.  I guess it was a bit unusual when we thought about it. It wasn’t something the majority of people would do; but it was a fun interlude; an enjoyable interval. 

We only stayed at the pub long enough to have two drinks each; our shout and their shout; and then we returned back to our respective units; and me, to my new home.  

Mervyn and I hugged each other farewell when he’d dropped me off.  Later in the afternoon he paid a brief visit just to ensure I had settled in and was okay. He then went on his way; I on mine; and that was that. Five years later we were divorced; and about a year later, Mervyn remarried.  Eight years later I married Randall.

For about 18 months the flat on the bank of the Brisbane River was my residence.

Owned by Mrs. Smith, an elderly widow, the home itself wasn’t new; but it was well-maintained.  The house no longer exists.  These days a high-rise apartment block stands upon its hallowed ground.

Erected in the 1930s, it was a sturdily-built Federation-style house of the era. Many still decorate the streets of New Farm and other Brisbane suburbs.

The house was situated about half way between New Farm Park and Glenfalloch, one of Brisbane’s first apartment complexes. Glenfalloch, when it was built in 1959, was Brisbane’s tallest residential skyscraper. However, Torbreck in Highgate Hill beat Glenfalloch out of the blocks. Torbreck was the first high rise block of apartments to be built in Queensland. A very close second, Glenfalloch rose high in the sky; beating Torbreck in the height stakes. They both were the early runners in the race to erect skyscrapers in Brisbane.  These days they’re dwarfed. To the right of Glenfalloch apartments is the Sydney Street (New Farm) ferry terminal which makes access to the CBD a breeze, without the expense and worry of inner-city car parking. 

Back at the ranch…flat….most of the time Sasha, my beautiful ginger cat and I had the whole property to ourselves because Mrs. Smith was almost always away visiting her brother in Port Moresby.

The French doors in my bedroom opened onto a small porch.  Four or five steps led to the back yard, which soon became one with the river bank.  I rarely closed the doors when I slept at night. Before falling asleep, from my bed I loved to watch the lights across the way and the lights of the river traffic as it went by. You couldn’t safely do similar nowadays! 

The front garden boasted an abundance of rose bushes. When they came into bloom it was of picture-book, multi-coloured beauty, like nothing I’d ever seen before. Rarely, if ever, did I pick any blooms for interior decoration; I preferred to enjoy the stunning beauty in its natural surrounds.  Going to and returning home from work having to walk along the rose-fringed path were daily pleasures I relished.
With a view of the river from one side of my flat to the views of the fragrant rose gardens of myriad hues from my kitchen and lounge room windows I rose to the occasion, enjoying the ambience that surrounded me.

Never again did I see such beautiful roses until I was living and working in Collinsville.

Loretta, a friend of mine, who was also a member of my staff when I was manager/chef of the canteen and accommodation catering for the Collinsville Coal miners, lived across the street from me.

Loretta certainly had a green thumb; two green thumbs. From the look of her bountiful garden that produced not only her heady, romantic, stunning roses, but also a lush, varied array of vegetables, fruit and herbs, I think she might have had two green big toes as well as her two green thumbs.

The block of land upon which Loretta’s home was built was probably about half an acre in area. Her rose garden ran the full length of one side of the expansive property. Her roses were a sight to feast upon (as was her vegetable gardens and fruit-bearing trees). I was in awe when the roses came into bloom. 

No one ever promised me a rose garden, but I’ve been fortunate to have been surrounded by a couple of stunning rose gardens in my lifetime, albeit somewhat briefly in the whole scheme of things.

Pink Grapefruit in Rosewater Syrup: Remove skin and white pith from 3 pink grapefruit (or blood oranges/mandarins/navels/tangelos/ regular grapefruit – or combinations). Over a bowl to collect juice, cut the segments from the fruit. Squeeze the juice from the membranes before discarding. Strain juice into saucepan; add 1/2c caster sugar; stir over low heat until sugar dissolves; add more to taste; cool. Stir in 1tsp rosewater; pour syrup over fruit segments. Chill.

Rose & Almond Sweetmeats: Process 250g blanched, lightly toasted almonds and 1/4c icing sugar until nuts are finely ground. Trim the yellow “heel” from the base of a large handful of deep red rose petals; add to almond mixture; process until petals are finely chopped and mixture is light pink. Put 1c caster sugar, 1tbs water and 2tbs glycerine into a small saucepan; slowly bring to boil; stir occasionally until sugar dissolves. Boil until mixture reaches “soft ball” stage. Remove from heat; pour into almond mixture; add 2-1/2tsp rosewater; process until mixture forms a paste. When cool enough to handle knead until pliable; roll small pieces into balls; roll in caster sugar; place in mini cupcake holders; or as is on a serving plate. 

32 comments:

  1. Love your maturity. A civilised break-up is a testament to the hopes with which you started the relationship, and the good times shared.
    And roses, particularly scented roses, are always a joy.

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  2. And yes, I do know that it isn't always possible, but it is soooo much better for everyone when you can remain friends.

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  3. I agree, EC. It's always a two-way street, or should be. And there are always two people in the play. There's enough angst in the world caused by things and people out of our control without adding to it, I reckon.

    Roses are stunning flowers, and the scented ones are bonus to be enjoyed.

    Thanks for coming by. :)

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  4. Those are very familiar views, Lee.

    I wish my break ups were so civilised. My first ex demanded to know about his "martial" rights and the second ex vowed he'd see me in the gutter. Rather melodramatic, I thought.

    I loved the Warana Festival and thought it was a shame when it was changed. I adore Riverfire, especially when the F1-11s used to do their dump and burn.

    Everything moves on, though, doesn't it?

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  5. This is both funny and sensible all at the same time. People change and move on - it's not an act of war.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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  6. It's interesting to read about all these familiar landmarks on a blog for a change. Sounds to me that your breakup was one where you both had the integrity to not involve a third party as your reasons to separate. Congratulations.

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  7. Well it seems that the break up went extremely well - I don't think I have heard of one quite like that. I feel you loved him, but weren't in love with him.

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  8. If you ever in need of some computer help, Luigi in Bribane is truly wonderful.

    http://www.computer-aid.com.au/

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  9. Hi there, Robyn...I'm sorry you had to go through the "melodrama". Some people can be so stupid about it all, can't they? Their poor, fragile "egos" get in the way of sensibility.

    There was a nice simplicity about Warana...but as you say, things do move on.

    Thanks for coming by. :)

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  10. Hi Stewart...another sensible thinker. All sensible thinks of the world unite! The new battle cry!!! Nice to see you, Stewart. :)

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  11. Hey Helsie...Yep! You'd recognise the area very well, I imagine.

    Ours was a very simple separation...I like and prefer simplicity...no hassles. I can never see the point of turning everything into a Cecil B. DeMille production.

    Cheers...thanks for coming by. :)

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  12. Hey there Chatty. That's another story for another day, Sandie. :)

    Take care.... :)

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  13. Hi Jerry, I've got computer aid when I need it much closer to home than my having to go to the northern suburbs of Brisbane to get it, Jerry! lol

    Where Luigi operates is about 80 or so miles from where I live. My computer guy lives about half a mile from where I live. I'll leave Luigi to his spaghetti and I'll stick to the village-like atmosphere of up here on the hill. :)

    Thanks for popping in.

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  14. My divorce from first spouse was NOT amicable. We were the only people in the courthouse on Valentine's Day filing for divorce. Everyone else was getting married. Also that evening I set our kitchen on fire in the townhouse. It was a complete accident, I swear. Divorces when there are children are a lot more difficult I think.

    What happened to the bookcase?

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  15. Hi Annie...Everyone's situation is different, and we all act and react differently. Children do certainly make it more difficult. We didn't have children, nor did we have property to battle over. It was mostly just pack my own personal possession and that was that.

    Thanks for coming by. :)

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  16. My first "married" home was also a flat in Brisbane, opposite the Governor's residence. The view from my kitchen window was jacaranda trees and the Governor's Garden. I took photos and told mum it was my back yard! I remember our tiny balcony, whenever hubby said we'd go out to eat, that's where we went. I'd cook and he'd carry the plates out.

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  17. Was that in Paddington, River? Government House is in Fernberg Road, Paddington.

    I lived at Toowong for most of my 14 years in Brisbane...I moved from New Farm to Toowong. The Western Suburbs of Brisbane are great.

    Thanks for coming by. :)

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  18. Very nice description. You can really picture it in your mind, even without the illustrations. My wife and I moved lots in Ann Arbor when we were first married and at one time shared a house with her sister and her husband. Times like that do provide a lot of memories. Maybe it's all the effort you put into moving.

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  19. Roses are best left to those who can grow them with success. For me I am a onlooker at the beauty and enjoy the smell from the labor of others. Now that is one for the records books about the fun parade adventure right smack in the middle of your move out. How civil. Break ups are usually a messy affair at least here in the states. Peace

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  20. I'd love to live in a flat on the river. Still amazed at how you and your exes are so civil...but my exes are assholes!

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  21. Hey Dave...Over the years until I moved here to where I'm presently living, 12 years ago...I made many moves, too. I became an expert at packing up my possessions. I could do it in record time by the end! lol

    Thanks for coming... always nice to see you. :)

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  22. Hi Lady Di...I agree with you about roses...I've personally never grown them, or tried to grow them. They're a beautiful flower.

    Thanks for popping in, Miss Kitty! :)

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  23. Hi Riot Kitty...It was great living so close to the river...and being able to leave my doors open to the view. I never worried about unwanted, unwelcome intruders back then, but you would nowadays.

    Both men I married are good fellows. They have their faults, just like I do, but they're good guys.

    Thanks for dropping in. :)

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  24. Yes, Fernberg Road.

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  25. My ex-husband now lives in a waterfront unit in New Farm overlooking Kangaroo Point and the city. We divorced 25 years ago. Like another lifetime for me. We have not maintained contact in spite of an amicable separation, much like yours. He helped me move from Rocky to Brisbane in 1988. The year of Expo.

    I was living in Wilston and working in Newstead until I moved North again in 2001.

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  26. Hey Carol...in 1988 I was living in a unit in Yorkeys Knob Road, Yorkeys Knob - just around the corner from the beach...and the Yacht Club was across the road and around another corner...with a garden restaurant on that said corner.

    Time flies by so quickly...I wish it would slow down a bit! Thanks for coming by. :)

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  27. I;m glad you had some roses.

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  28. I'm glad you rose to the occasion, Adullamite.

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  29. Those roses are gorgeous. So glad you could be friends with your ex - that didn't work for me (he was bitter, but realized later I was right to divorce him.)

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  30. Hey there Lynn! There are times it's best to walk away; and there are times one must face the facts, and not whinge about them! Thanks for coming by. :)

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  31. Yep, most civilized break up ever! Sometimes you just gotta be sensible.

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  32. Hey Dexter...there's enough bullshit going on in the world without adding to it, I believe. We had no reason to carry on like idiots over breaking up.

    Thanks for popping in. :)

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