Friday, 28 April 2017

A family reunion

 Easter weekend saw 76 members of our extended family gather in Greymouth on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand. Home for the older generation of cousins and somewhere most of our kids had never been! 

On Friday afternoon we set up the hall. What could have been a big job was made easy when people just kept arriving and we ended up with an old fashioned working bee going. The men got to work putting  the tables up and the women got to work in the kitchen.  Some things never change :) When all was set up it was a quick dash back to our motels for a shower and change of clothes, then back to the hall for our 'meet and greet' evening.

We had hired a church hall and were very impressed with all the facilities provided. Because it was Good Friday we had fish and chips, hot cross buns and whitebait on the menu. This was supplemented with fruit platters and small cakes, with wine, beer and soft drink as well as tea and coffee. One sister, who shall remain nameless, ordered a slab of cake, thinking she would get something big enough for everyone to have a small piece each - it came in a wooden box and took up the entire back seat of her car! She'll take a while to live that one down.

We had a lot of fun that evening, meeting family we hadn't see for decades in some cases and also meeting their kids and grandkids. People had brought their photo's along as well as other articles of interest, the family bible, some iron ore from a mine our ancestors worked in England - the owner had smuggled it out of the mine when she went to see it. The family tree was there for anyone to take copies of and the family historian had interesting letters and other papers to look at. We decorated with daffodils and flags, Granma's favourite flowers were daffodils and Grandad's nickname was Flags, so we thought it was appropriate.

When people first arrived they took a balloon off the stage and had to find the person whose name was on the name tag. I was a bit iffy as to whether the men would take part but I think most of them found a kid and did it with them, that way it wasn't really them playing with balloons :) I loved seeing the big age range. I think the youngest was about 7 years old and my Aunty was the eldest at 86. At the dinner on Saturday night she told us all there was one week and one month between her and Mum, what she meant was one year and one month. We all had a good laugh over that. That's her below with balloons all over her wheelchair. We were all very proud of her as she had a stroke earlier in the year but managed (was determined) to attend most events for at least part of the time.

At 9:30pm when it was time to go everyone pitched in again and it only took about an hour or so to clear everything away and make our way to our beds. Well, those with kids headed to their beds, my branch of the family met up again in my youngest brothers motel and we spent a couple of hours reminiscing and catching up with each other. Two of us live in NZ and the other two who were there are living in Australia, and two didn't make it. My daughters and their families didn't join us either as they had to drive quite a way to where they were staying. We socialised with them later in the weekend. And that completed our Friday night.

Did I say it poured with rain all day and night on Friday? Well Saturday morning when we were due to go to the cemetery to put flowers on our grandparents grave we were still being blasted with torrential rain, the tail end of Cyclone Cook. Those of us who grew up on the coast weren't at all fazed as this sort of rain is quite normal for the area but I think one or two of the younger ones wondered what had  hit them. We had a good turnout of people at the cemetery, mostly the older cousins as we were the ones who spent time with our grandparents, but it was nice to see some of the younger ones there as well. And as you can see, although it was grey and cloudy the rain stopped and the weather continued to get better and better as the day wore on.

My eldest cousin (the family patriarch) said a few words 
and we had a minute silence before  we all went our 
different ways for the rest of the morning.

My GKB and my son and daughter in law and I all went down to the beach which was just below the cemetery. It was cold and blustery but it was nice to relax and take a walk before we all gathered again at Shantytown after lunch. My son takes some quite arty photos and I followed him trying to get the same shots - but mine are not arty at all :( 

And Shantytown is going to have a post of it's own, 
so I think I will stop here and continue another day.

That's more than five photo's and probably not quite
 five minutes of reading but I'd still like to take part in:
I would also appreciate prayers for my little mother as she has been staying with me since Easter and is on complete rest. We travel to Hamilton on Monday for a CT scan (don't ask) and the plan at the moment is that they will send us home again on Wednesday then send us another appointment to go back for her heart operation. We are praying the operation will be done while we are in Hamilton without the need for another trip. We live in Dunedin in the south of the South Island, Hamilton is in the middle of the North Island and we will be travelling for about 4 hours. Many thanks.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

On 'The Coast' for Easter

Meet and greet.

At the cemetery.


The main meal.

Heading up the coast road.

What do these photos have in common? 
They were all taken at our recent family reunion.

joining in the fun at


Sunday, 9 April 2017

Heading north, then west

Our family arrived from Japan on Wednesday. 
It is so good to see them. 

This coming Wednesday we will leave to travel
 to our family reunion at Easter time. 

Already family members from Indonesia and Australia
 are in New Zealand and others from Australia
 are travelling in the next day or two. 

Most of us will be 'home' by Thursday
 and we'll be enjoying a meet and greet evening on Friday. 

I'm looking forward to seeing cousins I haven't seen 
for several decades and meeting their families.

I'm thinking we'll all be blessed one way or another.
I'll share about it when we get home but just so you know,
 I may not be checking in for a week or so. 


And as it is Palm Sunday let me wish you all a blessed Easter
 no matter where you are or what you are doing.


Saturday, 1 April 2017

Of cyclones, taniwhas, sunflowers and such like

No automatic alt text available.
A section of Mackay

Earlier in the week we were tracking cyclone Debbie off the north Queensland coast of Australia. She was due to make land just north of where my sisters and their families live in Mackay. Once she landed she became a slow moving category 4 storm bordering on category 5. 
Luckily none of our families were in the evacuation zone and had no damage to their homes either. So fortunate. One sister had a tree fall in the yard, missing the house by a few feet and the other only has water lying around. The nurse managed to get to work and did some long shifts while the other was too far out and stayed over with her son for the duration and had cuddles with the little grandkids and the four legged, furry family members. Now it is the people further south who are dealing with floods after the rain in the aftermath of the storm.

I went down the back of my yard a few days ago and saw a lovely bright yellow sunflower in full bloom. Unfortunately it was lying flat on the ground and as my GKB was about to start mowing the lawns I thought it might be wise to cut it and bring it inside. It's amazing how things get accidentally pruned by the lawn mower when you're not looking. Anyway I am enjoying it in my sitting room now :)

What you come across when you are sorting through old photos. This is a picture of my GKB and our best man in the days before I met him. They toured the country as a comedy mime act, The Teen Tones, performing such songs as My boomerang won't come back and Come outside. After we were all married it was a good way of supplementing the wages, doing evening and weekend gigs as well as weddings and 21st's. Eventually we moved towns and as families we lost touch with each other, sadly.

A new mural on a wall in town. A taniwha*. (A water monster of Maori legend).
This is a picture of the taniwha from local legend and I have taken an excerpt from Wikipedia to tell the story.

W.R. Kirk** repeated the later story of a taniwha (water-monster), the "familiar spirit or guardian of Te Rakitaounere (also given as Te Rakitauneke) a famous chief and warrior" who lost his master about the Dunedin hills, slithered down the Silverstream, 'Whaka-ehu', and 'lay down and left a hollow Te Konika o te Matamata' on the site of Mosgiel. The taniwha (named Matamata) wriggled down the Taieri, making its tortuous course, and when he died became the seaboard hills, including Saddle Hill. 
  1. a water monster of Maori legend.
**W.R. Kirk is a local author who wrote a book about the Taieri area - Pulse of the Plain, A History of Mosgiel.

And what am I reading at the moment? To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf. Why do I do it? The prose is so tedious, so hard to read and enjoy but with just enough of a hook to keep you reading. It was the same last year when I was reading Portrait of a Lady. Same style of writing, nearly one hundred years since these books were written and writing has changed so much. This is supposedly her best book so I don't think I'll be looking for another one. 
Still I have just finished reading Child of the Covenant by Michele Guinness. So interesting, her story of growing up in a traditional Jewish household to her becoming the wife of an Anglican clergyman. I found it quite a fascinating read.

And that is my five 
this week for