Wednesday, 13 June 2018
Twenty three years and 14.5 hours later and I am sitting looking at this picture of an impossibly small Baby Angel and an impossibly young me.
She is a little peeved that I only managed this reproduction thing once.
"I'll never be an auntie,"she wailed recently.
Sorry kid. It's not the way I had planned it, believe me.
Nevertheless, we've had some pretty good 'Kodak' birthday moments along the way. Facebook excelled itself in the memories section today. Every single memory was of a birthday, going back to 2011! Well I can beat that facebook!
Look at this tiny baby...only one day old in her hospital 'goldfish bowl'!
And This! My oh so serious little elf girl with her blue blue eyes and the navy babygro I embroidered with roses....(6-8 weeks maybe?)
Here's one from her FIRST birthday... the day she discovered grapes...
And wearing one of the many lovely items of clothing we received for that birthday (the cardigan above was a gift too, hand knitted by the BA's lovely Godmother....)
The ubiquitous studio portraits...this one at just over 12 months with her dress from another one of the grandparents...way too big for her still.....
And this one at 18 months, wearing my dress, bought for me by my aunt before we departed for Australia in 1961.
Here's me in the same dress. Not quite as pretty as the BA I'm afraid....
And oh oh oh!!!!! This little face! Aged about 2 and a half with her friend F at a fun park just out of Southampton. Oh the trips to that park. We had an annual pass and each visit required the obligatory ride on the train, visit to the dinosaur park, trips on the mini roller coasters and a wander around the maze. I sooooo loved that little hat she has on 💓
Oh and here she is, just turned 4, on our first trip back to Australia. This was a great age....
And before you can blink she is 5 and at school :'-(
So many photos to choose from, but this one cracks me up! Taken aged around 7 (yes, her teeth took ages to fall out), we were at a theme park in Spain, scene of many spaghetti westerns. We all got to dress up and pose for the cameras.......
Alright. I couldn't resist. Here is BOTH of us!!!
In our first year back in Australia at 7 and a half. Still speaking with an English accent......
And starting to look like a proper girl aged around 8 or 9.
But I have to stop somewhere...so I'll finish with this year. Here she is graduating from Uni in April....
...and here, celebrating her birthday in her usual dry style, with snapchat.
It's lovely that we have all this social media, but it is extra special to look back through those real life albums and take a trip down memory lane. So many birthdays BA. Here's to many, many more my feisty, funny, independent and entertaining Angel. Love you for ever.
Friday, 23 February 2018
How do I begin to tell you about Keith?
Handsome, clever, rugged, romantic and yet practical. Athletic and yet not a team player. Gregarious and yet an outsider. Supremely confident and yet deeply defensive. Loving and accepting and yet unswervingly set in his beliefs. An eldest son and a country boy from a Silesian immigrant family, in Australia they turned their hands to orchards and made a good fist of it. Keith's talent and ambition however, far outstripped that worthy, but pedestrian, endeavour.
At a tender age, in a milk bar in Adelaide, Keith saw the girl who would turn his life upside down and keep it that way for over seventy years.
Daughter of a well to do Adelaide family, his modest background and contempt for authority did not endear him to her socially conservative family. This was to be an ongoing battle.
But this pretty, creative and gregarious young woman found, in Keith, her lifeline.
Georgia was the 'non-son' of a staunchly conservative man and a deeply self centered woman. Not the boy they were hoping for, a little too much trouble to be bothered with, Georgia was dispatched to boarding school at an early age, to better allow her mother time to attend to her older, 'more talented' sister. But, irrepressible, Georgia grew and blossomed so that when Keith laid eyes on her, in that milk bar, there was no turning back. She finally had someone who not only saw 'her', but thought she was a pretty big deal, to boot.
Four years after their daughter Bestie was born, an English family moved in 'down the street'. Bestie remembers her mother entreating her to 'go and play with the little English girl'. I have no such recollection. For me, Bestie was just 'always there'.
Bestie and I were an unlikely and yet inevitable combination. Incredibly different in character to begin with; me a volatile eldest wild child with edgy looks and a tomboy attitude, she a sweet and pretty only child with a strong sense of fair play and a ridiculously open and honest relationship with her parents ("I cannot tell a lie. It was me who chopped down your cherry tree father....").
We united over a love of books, imaginative play and learning.
Intellectually we challenged each other; in character we enriched each other; in many ways we competed with each other. But we lived in each others pockets, three houses down, for 16 years (feels longer).
Bestie's parents were so different to mine. They were a little older and they seemed very exotic to me. I remember Keith getting his pilot's Wings. (Bestie's dad flew planes!!)
My own parents were Northern England; working class and really just discovering a world of culture, living 12,000 miles from the small coal mining town where they were born.
Georgia, seemed incredibly elegant to me. She was brought up with privilege, exposure to the arts and a sense of style that always left me awed. My mother was crimplene mini skirts and synthetic carpets. Georgia was flowing kaftans and axminsters. Here they are with Smoky Jo at our house in the 60s. Check out our matching chairs and curtains :-D
Georgia introduced Bestie and I to 'the musicals'. We sat for hours with the record player, listening to:
Gypsy, The Pyjama Game, Camelot,West Side Story, Paint Your Wagon, My Fair Lady, Man of La Mancha.....
What impressed me was that Keith, too, loved the romance and the nobility of these musicals.
My dad listened to Sibelius and Benjamin Britten whom, in my naivety, I saw as 'boring'. Keith and Georgia would sit and talk us through the stories of the musicals, explaining the messages, the lessons, the romantic myths.....and then they would sing along.....
I was captivated. My parents did very little together.
One of Keith's favorites was 'Man of La Mancha'. With his extraordinary deep and resonant voice he would bellow out the chorus:
"I am I, Don Quixote, The Lord of La Mancha, my destiny calls and I go...."
When we were about 12 or 13, Bestie's parents bought an enormous property in the north of the state. Keith built the ranch style house himself, by hand.
He called it 'La Mancha'.
Oh the times we spent at La Mancha. What a place it was for the city girls we were.
We rode horses, skinned rabbits, ran from enormous spiders, saw herds of cattle, met the local boys, got terribly sunburned, discovered rum......
But this post is about Keith.
Keith who smoked camels and was the definitive man's man.
Keith who engaged me in 'debate' and frustration through my teen years because he was always 'right' and whom my little sister dubbed 'HK' (Horrible Keith) because of his post war domineering manner and delight in teasing her.
The juggernaut personality who crafted jewellery out of opals in his back shed and patiently carved exquisite saddles out of leather.
What a conundrum he was.
When we visited Australia in 1999, the BA was 4 and we weren't quite sure what she would make of the tall, bluff, blustering Keith. We needn't have worried. She took to him like a duck to water.
At one point he had to ask for assistance so he could visit the gents without his 'shadow'. hahahahahaha
Keith had such an impact on my life.
He could make my Mother laugh.
He showed us what it meant to truly love another; through thick and thin, unconditionally, for the long haul.
He always said he didn't want to be the invalid in a hospital bed.
Father of The Bestie, inextricably entwined with my life, Keith made his decision, determined and deliberate as he always was, and left us on Saturday 21st October 2017. He was 85.
I am so grateful that he was such a big a part of my life.
One down Bestie. Three to go.
God we've been blessed.
Saturday, 13 January 2018
When I posted this picture of my 'garden' last June, I had already started the process of making something out of a pretty sad, nothing.I started by ddeveloping a track diagonally down across the face of the 'dropoff', so that I could get the wheelbarrow down to the lower level.
This is the 'track.....
See...the wheelbarrow goes down the track...
In this photo you can also see (squint!) the little plugs of pigface I stuck in all over the face of the drop off, to see if it would 'take'.
Yes, you really do have to squint.....
I planted these little bushes along the fence line. They apparently grow to 4m high, although they've got a long way to go.....
And I put in a few agapanthus rescued from my neighbour's rubbish pile, just for good measure.
You can just see the pigface starting to 'take off' in the above photo.
Anyway, by the end of the summer the garden was starting to look like this....
And then winter came....with soursobs....
In winter in the Adelaide hills, you can just about forget gardening. These insidious weeds take over everything and in some ways it's a test of the resilience of your other plants. If the soursobs don't choke them, they should be reasonable stayers in your garden.
I engaged a gardener through the winter, to spray the weeds and lay down some mulch, mostly in the front garden as it is a more manageable size. At the end of winter he came and whippersnippered all the knee deep soursobs in the back garden. Unfortunately he also took out two prostrate Jasmine, a Nandina, two Clerodendrums and all my alstroemerias.
Undeterred I decided to start 'terracing' the drop off, with the sleepers left over from the stairway demolition.
And now it is starting to LOOK like a garden.
Meanwhile up the top...
I started to attack the weeds and improve the soil ready for planting.
A friend gave me a few cuttings and I fastidiously sifted the soil to remove as many of the soursob bulbs as I could.
This is what it looks like now...
Sadly the gum leaves are an ever present disadvantage of living in the hills. Sweep them up one day and they're back the next.
By November, this is how my garden was looking....
The top half is starting to look more covered (thank you pigface) and the alstroemerias had recovered and are starting to add some much needed colour. A strange white pipe had emerged through the bank however, the terracing was rough and unfinished and my path was starting to disappear as soil washed downhill every time it rained.
So I've been hard at it this past week, trying to finish the terracing (in a very amateur, girlie fashion. They'll probably end up halfway down the hill after a good rain...) and planting up more succulents.
Still got a ways to go I'm afraid.... but ooh! I forgot to tell you about the 'art' my sister Smokey Jo gave me for Christmas...
I'm planting little succulents all around it so eventually it will be emerging from a bed of greenery...
The bottom of the garden remains a separate story, dependent as it does upon my getting the retaining walls around the lower shed attended to. That will involve heavy equipment so I am mindful of not planting too far down as it will all be trashed eventually.
A for those little guys along the side fence? Well, they've still got a long way to go....
But let's just remember, 12 months ago.....