Tuesday, January 03, 2017

ONCE MORE UNTO THE BREACH, DEAR FRIENDS – ONCE MORE!





Finally – and thankfully - The “Silly Season” has come to an end!  There it goes!  Bye! Bye! See you later!

Having drifted over the far horizon, it, too, has become part of the past. 

What once was present is now past; time and the present move on so fast! Off together they skip, hand in hand, at a pace unsurpassed.

I, for one, am glad the madness is all over. 
  
For many silver-haired old devils like me; those of us who have, to our surprise, discovered we’re now somewhat uncomfortably seated in the vintage section of Life – in the bleachers; and for those who’ve shifted into the highly-respected antique category, who have taken up their deserved positions in a box (no...NOT that kind of box!  You people!) - in Life’s dignified dress circle, the Festive Season can be filled with myriad emotions, the majority of which, for many, are not of the festive kind.

We silver-haired, silver-tongued “golden oldies’ have paid our dues. Our vast vaults are a-brim to overflowing with memories made while paying those dues - the expected and unexpected. 

Throughout Christmas and New Year one’s emotions can overwhelm as our reflections freewheel at their own freewill on the happy times, and on the sad, once shared with loved ones who are no longer with us.  Gone, our loved ones may be, but they’re never forgotten. Particularly when they insist on returning to haunt over Christmas-New Year!!

Being the Last of the Mohicans in my clan of Mohicans my thoughts always go back to the Christmases spent as a child with my now late brother, Graham; of the galvanised iron wash tubs filled with ice and luscious, juicy watermelons that sat in the cool shade beneath our home in Gympie...watermelons waiting for the obligatory watermelon fight that annually followed our Christmas lunches - feasts that were fit for royalty. 

Our Christmas table was set and decorated on Christmas Eve.  Bowls of nuts (in the shell, with sturdy nutcrackers beside each bowl for a cracking good time), crystallised ginger, a variety of lollies that always Licorice Allsorts.(the table and Christmas weren’t complete without Licorice Allsorts – not in our household, anyway) adorned the festive table.   

With eyes that glittered in direct competition with the tinsel and shiny baubles on our Christmas tree ,Graham and I, typical siblings that we were, held a truce while we awaited Santa’s arrival.  

The truce invariably ended on Christmas night.  It was inevitable.

When I was a little girl every Christmas night I “produced”, “directed” and “choreographed” a concert for our small family unit of four; sometimes the capacity audience grew to five when our uncle, Mum's brother visited.  We managed to find a seat for him.  Our Uncle Dudley always had free entry, no booking necessary.

It’s an understatement to say Graham was a reluctant participant.

Having to be dressed up as Prince Charming, as well as a one-boy version of the three Ugly Sisters and their evil mother, Cinderella’s nasty stepmother, wasn’t my brother's idea of boyish fun!   

However, no matter how much he tried to disrupt my little productions (and try he did) my determination prevailed...only just!  

Needless to say, Graham wasn’t very keen on tap-dancing, either. He hated it when I asked him to be “Gene Kelly” or “Donald O’Connor”  to my “Mitzi Gaynor” or “Vera Ellen”! 

When it came to him being Sir Robert Helpmann to my Dame Margot Fonteyn...I was really pushing the buttons!  

I guess the line had to be drawn somewhere...particularly when my partner/co-star was climbing out of our mother’s bedroom window in an effort to escape!

My brother’s off-Broadway appearances were a secret I’m sure he kept from his mates.  By him, no doubt they were well-kept secrets for years until Christmas 1986.  

That's when all was revealed!
 
Christmas 1986 I was managing the resort at Cape Richards on Hinchinbrook Island.  Graham was a member of my staff at the time.   

Christmas on the island was a load of fun.  The resort’s guests enjoyed it as much as my staff and I did.  Because for most of my staff, if not all, it was the first Christmas they’d had away from their families and loved ones I was determined each and every one of them, and as a group, would have a fun Christmas.  And that they did...one I’m sure none have forgotten.

On Christmas Eve, guests and off-duty staff alike were having drinks at the resort bar when I decided it was time to let the secret of Graham’s thespian, foot-tapping, toe-pointing past out of the bag.  

Very Victorian of him....he was not amused, but eventually, after a couple more beers, he did see the funny side.  But when requested to display some of his soft-shoe shuffled he declined politely; although he did sign autographs to his adoring fans!

When Graham and I were kids, after feasting on an over-abundant hot, roast meal of chicken (or turkey – it depended), roast pork with golden, crisp crackling, leg ham, apple sauce, rich gravy, along with every possible vegetable under the Queensland sun; after managing the near-impossible - making room where no room could possibly remain in our stomachs for Christmas pudding – make room we did.  

Of course, our mammoth efforts were made because of the threepences and sixpences buried within the cloth-clad rich Christmas fruit pudding.

Along with my childhood Christmas memories, my Hinchinbrook Island’s Noel celebrations, and many others, too many to describe here, one Christmas that has always, and will always remain alive and clear in my stock of memories is Christmas of 1990 when I lived on Newry Island.  

There I was, valiantly trying to maintain some semblance of sanity in front of my guests while an uninvited guest, Cyclone Joy was outside causing as much havoc as “she” could muster!  Surprisingly, I did manage to keep up my stoic facade throughout the hair-raising experience!

 

In detail I’ve written about that time previously on my blog, so I won’t repeat the story here and now.  But the story lies within if you wish to go in search.  If you’re interested to learn more....it’s easy to find...

Saturday, December 26, 2015



So here we are...a few days into 2017. What wonders, one wonders, lay ahead? What memories will be made this year?   Happy, good ones, I hope...for all of us.

Now it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty of reality...time to rid ourselves of the Festive Blues...me to do so, anyway.   

I'm also still trying to get rid of fruit mince tarts, Christmas cake (only one slice left!), shortbread etc!

The Summer of Tennis has my undivided attention - and will do so for the rest of January...that will do me for a good start to the year.

38 comments:

  1. Liquorice Allsorts always featured in our Christmas too. And I bought himself a large tin of them this year.
    Enjoy your tennis, and hunker down in the cool.

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    1. That's the plan in an effort to stay cool, EC. I let the young, fit players play in the heat...I don't know ow they do it! But I do enjoy the tennis...and this month of our Aussie calendar for that reason.

      Lucky himself...but then, I did buy a couple of packets of Licorice Allsorts for myself...and they sort of just disappeared!!

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  2. That's a nice reminisce but I feel more compelled to comment on your amazing Newry Island cyclone experience. It was so good that there was such an esprit de corp you, your help guests, with that one exception, and you clearly worked terribly hard for that time under such stress. It took me half an hour, but I got through it in one hit, especially as it became compulsive reading. I think the business about accommodation on Newry island received some national media coverage as I have vague memories of the story. Lastly, there are a a few spam comments at the end of the comment section on the cyclone post you might want to deal with. Enjoy the tennis. Have you attended in the past? It is a great atmosphere in Melbourne at the time.

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    1. Firstly, thanks for bringing my notice to the spam comments on the Newry post, Andrew. I appreciate that. :)

      Secondly...thanks for taking the time to read my rather lengthy account of that particular event in my life. Nothing exists on Newry Island now. National Parks reclaimed it and tore down all the buildings, leaving just a couple of remnants - ruins. One of which is a mere shell of the original cabin Annette Kellerman used to stay in when she visited her family who lived on the island in the early part of the 1900s! And that is another story...one I have related previously...and must dig out again. My time living on the island certainly was an adventure...and one I enjoyed.

      You may have read about the demolishing of the buildings on Newry, which occurred in the early Noughties.

      Also, on the other hand, it may well have been the closing of the resort on Hinchinbrook Island that you read or heard about.

      The resort at Cape Richards (the only resort on Hinchinbrook..the rest of the island is National Park) not only closed down, but brainless vandals also helped by doing their bit of pointless destruction; then along came Cyclone Yasi, who just wanted to add to the destruction, but as Yasi didn't quite finish off the job...in August, 2015 a fire (arson) finished it off! My heart was broken learning about each.

      Thanks for coming by and your response. :)

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  3. You still have mince pies?? unheard of in my family. I bake them, they eat them. They are always all gone by New Year's Eve.
    Now what's all this about a watermelon fight? that's a shocking waste of watermelon, but it sounds like fun.
    I hope 2017 is good to you, Remy and Shama.

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    1. There are only me, Remy and Shama in my family, River...and the latter two don't eat fruit mince pies. I had/have loads of shortbread and a huge Christmas cake to get through as well with no help from them. I have just once slice of cake left, though. :)

      In between devouring the watermelon, the pelting thereof was lots of fun, too! It was a Christmas tradition...and not only in our household. Between that and backyard (or front yard) cricket, we soon wore off our lunches! lol

      Thanks, River....I hope you, too, have a wonderful 2017. Cuddles to Angel. :)

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  4. I am just old enough to know about Annette Kellerman and that is an interesting thing I did not know about. You are right, I am not sure which media story I recall, but I think it was Newry as the name Hinchinbrook was known well enough back then. Both sides seemed to have good points about it, so I will sit on the fence with an opinion of the rights and wrongs.

    More than you want to know, but in about 1978 I stayed in Gympie for a week with a Salvation Army family of a friend. I hated the place. I would bath, no shower, then immediately break out in sweat again. I kicked away the cane toads as I went to the outdoor lav, quite frightened of them. It is one case where I remember the bad better than than the good. I think I was taken to Tin Can Bay, there was nothing there, and maybe Noosa. Oh yes, a vivid memory was visiting one of her rels in Maryborough, who had briquette or wood heater in their lounge room. I wondered why. Sorry to be so critical of your home town. I expect it has changed a lot since I was there.

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    1. No need to apologies, Andrew.

      In summer Gympie gets very hot and humid; but it's been that way here on the mountain, too, over the past few weeks. As I've grown older I dislike both the heat and humidity. When I was out managing the pub at Normanton it was a dry heat out there in the Gulf Country...and I hated that, too...I found myself looking forward to returning to Cairns and its humidity! Can't win 'em all!

      I find it difficult to believe that there were still outside toilets in Gympie in 1978, unless your friends lived out of town in one of the surrounding country areas; or perhaps in some parts of the Southside.

      Sewerage begun to be connected in Gympie the late 50s-early 60s, but when I was growing up we always had septic (and an indoor toilet).

      It was a good town to grow up in. We had lots of fun. We walked everywhere, and we never locked our doors. The beaches weren't too far away. I could quite easily live back there again. I still have very good friends, friends since childhood, who still live there.

      I left Gympie in 1965 to live and work in Brisbane, but I did return again for another 4 years from 1998 forward, and then, in 2002 I moved here to Tamborine Mountain.

      Cane toads have never worried me...as long as they stayed away from my pets food and water, they caused no harm. You should go further up north...around the cane field areas...cane toads are three times the size of the ones you'll find in Gympie! lol

      I'm very familiar with Tin Can Bay, having gone there many, many times. It depends what you're looking for, I guess. I'd rather go to Tin Can Bay than the Gold Coast (I hate the Gold Coast...always have). I'd rather live at Tin Can than the Gold Coast. Tin Can still is, really, a sleepy little fishing/prawning town. I remember when prawns and sea scallops were first discovered in the waters around Tin Can Bay. Mum used to go fishing and mud crabbing, while Nana, Graham and I collected oysters fresh off the rocks! Now...that's the good life, in my opinion! We lived on fresh seafood when we stayed at The Bay. :)

      You would've been 'impressed' if you'd gone there back in the 50s...when outdoor toilets were the 'go'; and we'd burn 44 gallon drums full of manure to keep the mozzies and sandflies at bay (no pun intended)! lol Oh! And in the places we stayed back in the early to mid-fifties, most didn't have electricity...so the good old hurricane lamps were used! :)

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  5. I can just see you putting on a program for the adults for Christmas - I bet it was good - my daughter used to do that too. I loved first cartoon. Happy New Year!

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    1. G'day Sandie...I'm not sure how good my concerts were, but I took them seriously - after all it was opening night every year...just the one opening night!!! lol I've often wonder how Mum and Nana kept straight faces throughout! lol

      I wish you and yours well for 2017. Thanks for coming by. :)

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  6. What wonderful memories. We always had seed spitting contest when we ate watermelon. No prizes except the thrill of winning.

    I, too, am glad the holidays are over.

    Thanks for visiting.

    May your new year overflow with blessings.

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    1. G'day Gail! Yes...watermelon seed spitting competitions were lots of fun, too...all part of the battles! And of course, the added bonus, if not actually a prize, was the devouring of much delicious watermelon!! :)

      I hope you and yours have a wonderful, 2017. Thanks for coming by. :)

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  7. My Christmas memories are full of winter. Watermelon is for July 4th. That is the only time I crave the red beast. Graham crawling out the window after being forced to perform for big sis was funny to me. BTW How did we get this damn old? Peace

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    1. Hi Lady Di....I was "little sis" not "big sis"...Graham was older than me by 2-1/2 years. And he enjoyed his big brother role...so being told to dress up, dance and act by his little sister didn't go over very well! Hence the struggle!! Hehehehehe!

      And it was hilarious with me yelling at him, trying to grab his lega as he tried to escape, while also screaming out at our mother for her help. I think Mum and Nana must have been in fits of laughter,while trying their utmost to keep straight faces! lol

      I have no idea how we got this damn old. It's happened all too quickly...and very sneakily!

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  8. I enjoyed Christmas, too, but I'm also glad it's gone by. A lot of people around here still have decorations up. I love it before Christmas though.

    Wonderful memories of your brother. Nice.

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    1. Hi Lynn...I don't bother putting up decorations anymore...other than one golden reindeer that always comes out from his hiding place for a few days from just before Christmas Day until a couple of days into the New Year...then he gets put back in the cupboard until the next time.

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  9. Another lovely post, containing some sweet nostalgia. The other day I heard a 100 year old man on the radio talking about how sad he felt at Christmas these days, remembering houses filled with laughter and Christmas cheer, remembering his wife and children. Now he sits and watches the clock but no one comes. It was very sad. You have got a hell of a lot of years to go before you make 100 Lee and that's an awful lot of tennis.

    Did I ever tell you that in 2012, on our way home from New Zealand, we had a stop over at Melbourne Airport and who should get on our Emirates jet but Serena Williams! She had been knocked out of the Aus Open early and was on her way to Dubai. She asked for my autograph but I refused!

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    1. No, you didn't tell me that, Yorkie, but Serena did when she dropped in for dinner on her way to Dubai. She said she was a little confused at your reaction and refusal when she said you oughta laugh.

      I went to a Christmas party four nights prior to Christmas, that was enough socialising for me. I wanted to spend Christmas Day my way...and that I did. The phone rang a few times. I dined well (as usual I had enough to feed an army - nothing new in that). My two furry mates had their special treats to enjoy as well. I listened to music; I had a chilled-out, relaxed day...as planned. In the past I always hosted Christmas lunches for family and friends for 14 or so people; and when I was cooking professionally I catered for the hordes. These days I no longer do either...and am happy that I don't have to! lol

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  10. Your descriptions of Christmas on the island remind me of one of my favorite movies, Donovan's Reef. Some day I'll have to make it somewhere tropical. Right now it's bitingly cold here.

    Your Christmases past also remind me that I wrote a poem once of how Christmases evolved in our family. If I recall, the poem ends with "remember good times, be that your tradition." Sounds like you do.

    Hope you have a happy 2017. And, yes, a year with more positive news all round.

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    1. Hi Dave, That was a fun old movie from what I recall...it's a long time since I've seen it.

      It's been hot here, but not as hot as what some of the southern states are receiving. Areas in South Australia are expecting 40C (104F) and beyond today. And those temps will no doubt spread across into Victoria and areas in New South Wales. Luckily the temperatures here in south-east Queensland have cooled down...it'll be around 26C/78F here where I live today...and we had good rain showers during the night.

      And now that I've given you the weather report....thanks for coming in. :)

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  11. I remember your Christmas hurricane only too well: quite a riveting tale (even if it did take while to read if I remember correctly). I don't really have any childhood memories of Christmas apart from the fact that we used to walk to my maternal grandparents and that my beloved Uncle Eric often used to drive up from Bedfordshire in his Vauxhall 14 to be with us. As an adult Christmas was a time to make the pilgrimage from Lewis to my parents and my wife's mother who lived on Merseyside. It was often a very 'interesting' trip with two small children through the snow-filled Scottish Highlands.

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  12. Hey Graham...it pretty riveting being in the midst of it, too! lol

    I've many childhood Christmas memories; and memories of all the Christmases I catered for as an adult.

    We always hosted Christmas lunch...open house in the morning...and then a sit-down, full-on, nothing-spared lunch for the masses that would begin around 2 pm. I must have been crazy!! (Still am, even though, I no longer feed hordes of people on the day - or any other day!)

    Thanks for coming by...I hope 2017 treats you well. :)

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  13. Wonderful memories of Christmas past.

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    1. Hi Sandra - my latest past Christmas wasn't very memorable, though...I didn't put on any Christmas night concerts. My two furry rascals, Remy and Shama refused to partake! :)

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  14. I'm glad it's all over too. HATE Summer so don't enjoy Christmas either . Too much work in the heat even if you have aircon. Hankering after a white Christmas, it will happen one day. Happy New Year ! ...Oh and I can't stand tennis and cricket either !!!

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    1. I've no hankering for a white Christmas, Helsie...never have.

      Individual tastes and likes..I always enjoy watching tennis. I enjoy watching golf, too. And I don't mind the cricket - prefer tennis, though.

      I'll be glad when summer is over...still a long way to go before that eventuates, though!

      I hope 2017 treats you and your family with every ounce of kindness it has! Thanks for coming by. :)

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  15. Holiday memories are mostly filled with the best of times, the bad ones are forgotten or have become laughable. 2016 was a hard one for my family, and we look forward to a better year ahead. However, I am so shell shocked, I go into this year very cautious and somewhat apprehensive but never without hope.

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    1. Hey there Arleen...I'm sorry to hear that 2016 wasn't a good one for you and your family....I think a dark cloud hovered low over the past year, affecting many. I hope 2017 is a far better year for you and for your family. Take good care.

      Thanks for dropping in. :)

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  16. Well you said it for me..."vintage section of Life – in the bleachers;" But at least it is a cheering section.

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    1. G'day Annie...yes...lots of cheering, with lots of laughter. Thanks for coming by. :)

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  17. It's not over until the last leftover foodstock has been eaten, and this is taking longer than usual!

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    1. And as I look around me, Mr. Ad-Man...I still have a few bits and pieces of the tasty variety left over from Christmas....I'm gradually working my way through!

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  18. Silly season is an excellent way to put it!

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    1. It must be an Aussie term, RK...you appear not to have heard it used before...it's used often here.

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  19. There's only one satisfactory way to get rid of all those goodies....SOMEONE has to eat them.

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    1. Drum roll, please! And that someone is me!!!!!

      Thanks for coming by, only slightly confused! A Happy 2017 to you and yours. :)

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  20. My first time on your blog. I came because I saw your name on Naomi’s blog “Here in the Hills.” I enjoyed reading your Christmas memories. You were lucky to have a brother to play with even though he was not very willing. I was on only child living in Paris and all the people around me were grown-ups – I don’t remember much fun at Christmas apart from the presents.
    I came because I talked to Naomi today and wrote a comment on her blog for all to read then realized that she has to approve it and don’t know when she will. This is my upcoming (when?) comment on her blog, for your information: “This afternoon Tuesday January 10, 2017, I had a good telephone conversation with our dear friend Naomi. She has been having health issues that have kept her occupied and have taken much of her strength. In addition she has lost many dear friends during 2016 and does not feel up to writing a fun post. She told me that she misses all her blogging friends and wishes them all a happy new year 2017. Hopefully, as her strength comes back she will come back to her blog.” Just in case, I thought you might like to know. Cheers and Happy New Year to you!

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    1. Oh, Vagabonde....I hope you know/understand how much I appreciate your visit. I think of Naomi often, I do wonder how she's getting on. I'm so glad you have paid me a visit. Please don't be a stranger; and please do pass on my very best wishes and thoughts to Naomi next time you converse with her. Let her know she is missed and cared about, but we also understand her not blogging these days.

      I really am thrilled you've taken the time to visit. Thank you very much, Vagabonde. :)

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