Incidental Sightseeing Part 2: Salt Lake City

After my intense post this morning on ethics, genealogists and conferences, I hope you enjoy the light relief from my about-town photos of Salt Lake City.

The Zions First National Bank is such a pretty building. I'd have liked a better shot, but time was short and traffic was tricky.

The Zions First National Bank is such a pretty building. I’d have liked a better shot, but time was short and traffic was tricky.

This awning on a semi-derelict building near the Hilton Hotel kept catching my eye.

Check out the faces framing the awning.

Check out the faces framing the awning.

They make 'em big in the USA.

They make ’em big in the USA. My friend Sharn is dwarfed by this Ford 150.

We had a lovely meal at PF Chang's and met up with Linda Robbins and hubby.

We had a lovely meal at PF Chang’s and met up with Linda Robbins and hubby. Linda writes at http://hollingsworthrobbinsfamilytree.blogspot.com.au/

Salt Lake Temple in Temple Square.

Salt Lake Temple in Temple Square.

Collage of mountain scenery.

Collage of mountain scenery.

I made these two collages with Pic Collage, having been shown it by my new friend Laurie from Confuse the Dead (and also an FGS Ambassador). Thanks Laurie, it was as easy as you said, and good fun as well. I now have it on the iPad and the smart phone.

Socialising in Salt Lake.

Socialising in Salt Lake was interspersed with serious research and learning.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little detour from serious genealogy.

 

Incidental Sightseeing Part 1: Salt Lake City

When you have less than a week to fit in four conference days, three visits to the Family History Library, and lots of socialising, there’s not much time left for actual sightseeing. I notched up some distance to-ing and fro-ing and along the way took shots that caught my eye. Here are some of them. My SLR is playing up at present so I took these with my phone camera.

View from my hotel room - isn't it pretty?

View from my hotel room – isn’t it pretty?

One of the entrances to the City Creek shopping mall...just up the road.

One of the entrances to the City Creek shopping mall…just up the road.

The creek which runs through the shopping complex.

The creek which runs through the shopping complex.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I just love fairy lights when it's wintertime overseas. These were a mix of white and yellow.

I just love fairy lights when it’s wintertime overseas. These were a mix of white and yellow.

Looks like it belongs in France to me.

Looks like it belongs in France to me.

Now THAT's an Apple shop!

Now THAT’s an Apple shop!

Abravnel Hall, Centre for the Arts. I liked the sun on the red art work and the rather Expo-ish street art.

Abravnel Hall, Centre for the Arts. I liked the sun on the red art work and the rather Expo-ish street art.

The impressive entry to the Salt Palace Convention Centre - site of RootsTech and FGS.

The impressive entry to the Salt Palace Convention Centre – site of RootsTech and FGS.

Liked this quirky construction.

Liked this quirky construction framed by the mountains.

I was surprised how quiet the streets were in SLC. You can see the Trax arriving in the centre of the road.

I was surprised how quiet the streets were in SLC. You can see the Trax arriving in the centre of the road.

Do join me for Part 2 of my Incidental Sightseeing tomorrow.

Accentuate the Positive 2014

Once again GeniAus has spurred us on to consider our geneachievements for 2014 and Accentuate the Positive. It’s all too easy to be daunted by the tasks ahead, or the (perceived?) deficiencies in our past year of research. It has made me realise that I achieved more than I thought – I tend to be a girl with a half-empty glass. Thanks Jill for encouraging us.

  1.  An elusive ancestor I found was…still hunting for James Sherry aka McSharry but I have an APB out on him.
  2.  A precious family photo I found was: While in Sydney I visited my 4th cousin and scanned heaps of her trove of family photos with the Flip Pal.
    Thomas Zeller's grave at Tyne Cot cemetery.

    Thomas Zeller’s grave at Tyne Cot cemetery.

    3.  An ancestor’s grave I found was…while I wasn’t specifically grave-hunting for ancestors this year we did visit quite a few military cemeteries in northern France and Belgium. I was able to place an Australian flag on the Tyne Cot grave of one of the Dorfprozelten descendants, Thomas Zeller. It was especially sobering to stand where Mr Cassmob’s great-uncle, heading the 54th Battalion, was positioned during the Battle of Fromelles.

    4.  An important vital record I found was discovery I made was identifying the ship my ancestor’s sister arrived on. This was Bridget O’Brien, sister to Mary O’Brien on the Florentia….but why is her name not on the manifest?? And despite searching I’ve found not a single vital record/primary document.

    5.  A newly found family member shared mutual discoveries of our Dorfprozelten ancestry, another of DNA, another family photos. I also enjoyed connecting with an Aussie living in Sweden, who shares my Sydney cousin, but from the paternal rather than maternal line.

The sailing ship Florentia. Image from the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, and reproduced with permission. Image PW 7704

The sailing ship Florentia. Image from the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, and reproduced with permission. Image PW 7704

6.  A geneasurprise I received was finding the clues which led to identifiying that Bridget O’Brien almost certainly arrived on the Florentia….it’s only taken 27 years to find a clue. Thanks Trove! I was also surprised to discover that George Kunkel had all his assets sold, possibly why they ended up following the railway line.

I had another railway geneasurprise when we visited Poperinghe station to see where my grandfather was stationed during World War I. In a WDYTYA moment, a railway worker spoke to us and provided me with print-outs of photos from that era. Our tour guide was more astonished than I was.

Poperinghe Railway Station near the time when my grandfather served there.

Poperinghe Railway Station near the time when my grandfather served there.

7.   My 2014 blog posts that I was particularly proud of was the stories about the Florentia. You can read them here, here and here and the one that started it, on 29 December 2013.

revisit record revise circular_edited-1  8. My 2014 blog post that received a large number of hits or comments was….my blog likes went up, my comments went down, possibly partly because I’ve been a neglectful commenter lately. Probably the best was my 5th blogiversary post recently with my goals and reflections. In a more general context I was proud of my Three Rs of Genealogical Research on the collaborative Worldwide Genealogy blog in September…it attracted lots of interest.

We also seemed to have a bit of fun with my Australia Day Geneameme and the National Family History Month Geneameme. Thanks everyone for joining in! I also had fun, along with many others, doing Sharn’s Christmas geneameme.

9.  A new piece of software I mastered was…not sure I did. Even though I’m using Evernote a lot now, I’m quite sure I haven’t mastered it. I bought the offline version before we went travelling and it was pure gold for keeping track of documents, travel arrangements etc.

10. A social media tool I enjoyed using for genealogy was Pinterest, when I just want a chill-out and fun. I’m enjoying Facebook far more now I’m in touch with my genimates.

11. A genealogy conference from which I learnt something new was all the sessions on the Unlock the Past cruise in February 2014. You can read my synopses here.Pauleen FANs presentation

12. I am proud of the presentation I gave on the UTP February Cruise. The subject was Becoming a fan of FANs which the attendees told me they really enjoyed. You can read my presentation slides here. I also really enjoyed Jill Ball’s “fireside” chat where people shared their favourite books.

  1. A journal/magazine article I had published was…none.
  2. I taught a friend how to…not sure…I often seem to be rabbiting on to people about how a geniechallenge might be pursued.

15. A genealogy book that taught me something new was…I have downloaded lots of genealogical Kindle books which I’ve started but many are still only partly read. When I take time out to read I tend to read frivolous crime novels etc so discovering Steve Robinson’s and Nathan Goodwin’s genealogical mysteries was a treat. I was also astonished to find references to what looks like my Callaghan family from Courtown, Wexford in the book Sam Reilly: Ace of Spies which has lots of geneadata to be followed up in the Irish parish registers.

16. A great repository/archive/library I visited was the Tasmanian Archives and, as always, Queensland Archives, where I did a lot of preparation for my talk on hospitals for QFHS on Accidents, Illness and Death (not one of my most successful moments in 2014 – needs a major revamp).

17. A new history book I enjoyed was Hugh Dolan’s 36 Days which tips our inherited ideas on Gallipoli on their head. As we were visiting Gallipoli mid-2014 I also read Matt McLachlan’s Gallipoli: the Battlefield Guide and Peter Pedersens ANZACs on the Western Front and Fromelles.

Voyage of the Seas dwarfs most other ships, just imagine it beside a barque like Florentia.

Voyage of the Seas dwarfs most other ships, just imagine it beside a barque like Florentia.

18. It was exciting to finally meet lots of my genimates on the UTP cruise as well as a new cousin in Melbourne. I was also pleased to spend time with other genimates on shore during the year, as well as meeting Angela from The Silver Voice in Brisbane.

19. A geneadventure I enjoyed was going cruising for the first time with a bunch of mates following our genie-obsession. On ship or on shore, we had a ton of fun!

20. Another positive I would like to share is how our Kiva Genealogists for Families’ loans have grown as the repayments have been reinvested. Over Christmas I roped in my two older grandchildren and got them to help me to make December’s loans. I will make a habit of this over 2015 to try to teach them about giving to those in need.

Extract from Inside History magazine, Sept-Oct 2014, page 49.

Extract from Inside History magazine, Sept-Oct 2014, page 49.

I originally omitted to mention Alex’s inspiration to revamp our blogs during the year. Thanks Alex (aka Family Tree Frog) for giving us a nudge to do this and Susan for reminding me to mention it. You can read what I did to mine here.

I was also very pleased to be listed in Inside History’s Top 50 blogs again in 2014 and consequently earning an entry in their Hall of Fame. This was topped off by being voted in as a Genealogy Rockstar again in 2014, even though I think there are many other equally good geneabloggers out there in the geneaworld.

Thanks again Jill.

Mr Cassmob at the Cobbers memorial at Fromelles. This is where the 54th Bn under Lt Col WEH Cass reached during the battle.

Mr Cassmob at the Cobbers memorial at Fromelles. This is where the 54th Bn under Lt Col WEH Cass reached during the battle.

Sepia Saturday (or Tuesday): Kathmandu tales

Sepia Saturday 250Funny how things turn out isn’t it? All along my plan was to write my Sepia Saturday post on Kathmandu…after all my photos fitted the theme perfectly. Then I went off the idea, and life got in the way as I worked on photo books of our last holiday.

Vegetable and fruit sellars in a Kathmandu street.

Vegetable and fruit sellars in a Kathmandu street.

The universe had other plans though, because in my virtual mail box today was an unexpected Random Act of Kindness. Robert had retouched my old, faded Kathmandu photos so they were now punchy with colour just as they were back in the day. To say I was surprised and delighted was an understatement! So of course now I have to use them even if it is now Sepia Tuesday, but then they’re not really sepia anymore either. If you want to see what an amazing difference Robert’s skills have wrought, have a look at an old post I did on my Tropical Territory blog.

Although my children know the story of our trip to Kathmandu this seems an opportunity to preserve it for posterity.

We were living in Port Moresby in the 1970s when my colleague/boss moved to Kathmandu where her husband had gained a posting in charge of the electrical division of Kathmandu airport. Both Mr Cassmob and I had always had a virtual interest in India, Nepal and Mt Everest so it was very tempting when we were genuinely invited to come for a visit. Despite the temptation, I was adamant we couldn’t go because the children were only six and four and, I thought, vulnerable to all the potential illnesses.

One of the scenes when you wish you knew what was happening.

One of the scenes when you wish you knew what was happening.

In Papua New Guinea, as part of our employment conditions we got return airfares every two years to Australia (in our case Melbourne where my husband came from). Since it cost almost as much to spend months in Australia as it did to travel overseas, you might well guess which option we took.

So it was that in late 1976/early 1977 we were planning our next leave with a trip to Europe and the UK. Of course there was no internet, and no option for online bookings, so off to the travel agent in town we toddled.

Part way through the process DD2 took off up the street for a walkabout, with Mum in hot pursuit. We returned to hear “that’s …..Heathrow to Delhi, Delhi to Kathmandu, Kathmandu-Bangkok, Bangkok-Singapore, Singapore-Moresby”. Say what? Did she say Kathmandu? Indeed she did… the wily one had taken the chance of my disappearance to sneak in the diversion via Kathmandu!

One of our favourite photos of Kathmandu - what were they looking at?

One of our favourite photos of Kathmandu – what were they looking at?

And so we found ourselves landing in Kathmandu amidst a cracking electrical storm surrounded by mountains and being rather grateful for our friend’s role in ensuring the airport’s electrics were up to par.

We had a great time staying with them, being guided round the streets and byways of Kathmandu. So much to see and even by comparison with Papua New Guinea, so much poverty and illnesses like leprosy. It’s a bit daunting seeing people missing body parts like noses, fingers etc but the kids mostly took it all in their stride. They even coped with the cows’ “right of way” in all matters…well most of the time. They were even unfazed by witnessing a cremation ceremony on the banks of the river….I was ambivalent but my friend reckoned they’d be okay and they were. The Nepali people were so friendly and less importuning than we’d experienced in Delhi as well, so that helped our appreciation of the place too.

Tinsmiths or silversmiths working their craft.

Tinsmiths or silversmiths working their craft.

One day we were lucky enough to go for a drive with our friend up into the mountains while he completed some work. We drove through villages where the road was covered in grain and the passing vehicles threshed it as they drove over. We drove on steep roads with fierce drops on the edge of the road – much scarier than parts of the Highlands Highway in PNG. I remember being asked how close to the edge we were – not the best question for a person with a fear of heights, and especially edges. Sadly, when we went to take the film out of the camera that day we’d had a blooper – no film! Most distressing I can tell you.

We even managed an excursion flight out to Mount Everest which was a super thrill for all of us, and the kids still have their certificates from the flight. We were also lucky we were staying with our friends because it meant the water was triple filtered and the fruit and vegetables always cleaned in Condy’s-crystalled-water. Almost needless to say the kids didn’t get sick…that privilege was left for their mother. As we took that Kathmandu-Bangkok leg I was violently ill …hardly surprising I’ve avoided Bangkok airport ever since.

Sari making must be a time-consuming task, requiring lots of patience.

Sari making must be a time-consuming task, requiring lots of patience.

We duly arrived in Singapore and were met by family members of one of Mr Cassmob’s work colleagues. They really couldn’t do enough for us, guiding us around town and taking us out for special meals at places we’d never have found…though they were surprised we managed to get to Sentosa Island on our own <smile>.  And then, just as the piggy bank was nearing the bottom of its resources, along came the Australian baggage handler’s strike and the cessation of flights…but that’s a story for another day, along with the theft in Amsterdam of Mr Cassmob’s passport with all its visas, and his share of the money.

Thanks Robert for this wonderful and surprising Act of Kindness!

Why not pop over and see how other Sepians interpreted this week’s image?

Shall we have goat for dinner?

Shall we have goat for dinner?

 

Tents, glorious tents

Flooded GuidesGiven the propensity for front page news to be all about disasters, you might be surprised that this is my mental starting point for today’s Sepia Saturday theme. You see it was the one and only time I’ve made the front page, and in my first term of high school no less. One way to get noticed I suppose.

I’d been in Girl Guides since 1960 and passed my camping test for the first class badge on 6 June 1961…coincidentally Queensland Day. We were transported to these camping adventures by an old three-ton truck, probably an old army vehicle. Guides plus camping requirements were piled in the back tray and off we went. Can you imagine that being allowed today?

I remember going to a farmer’s property on the far edges of Brisbane where we erected those big cumbersome tents typical of the era. Digging latrines and putting up hessian-screened bathing areas was also part of the fun. Bath time involved those big round metal tubs and the toilets were dirt ditches. Each day we’d get fresh milk from the farmer, or more accurately, his cows. No nonsense about pasteurisation either. Meals were cooked in large army dixies. We’d swim in the very chilly creek and hope not to encounter any eels, water snakes etc. At night we’d have a huge campfire and sing songs. The first time I went camping with Guides my parents came out for a day visit. How that happened I’m not sure – they certainly weren’t the only ones and as they didn’t have a car, they’d have had to come with someone else. I remember I was a little homesick but so were they because for the first time the nest was empty.Guides flooded Samford

Then a few years later, over the May school holidays, we went to a different site. This one was on a rise, with a dry creek-bed on one side and a small creek on the other. Overnight it rained, and rained, and we woke up to a raging creek all around us and no hope of getting off our new island. As an adult I can only imagine the anxiety and decisions the leaders had to make. You can read the whole exciting story in the linked post I wrote a while ago. Suffice to say, thanks to the Water Police, and a courageous Guide, we made it home safely and found ourselves on the front page of the local newspaper the next day.

There was no opportunity for holiday camping in Papua New Guinea, at least as far as I know, so it wasn’t until the early 80s that we introduced our own trio of little campers to holidays under canvas. This time we had been invited to join our neighbours on a camping trip to Hastings Point in northern New South Wales. Over the years our family had many great adventures there, and you can read a little about them by clicking here.

Camping in splendid isolation with a view of the sea...that's our tent.

Camping in splendid isolation with a view of the sea…that’s our tent.

The photo above (on a grey day) is of our favourite spot overlooking the creek where it joins the surf and the Pacific Ocean. It was always an anxious moment until we crossed the bridge and checked no one had usurped “our” tent site! The next chore was to check out the changes in the creek’s path and whether the pelicans were “in town” or not. In our energetic moments we’d explore the marine park among the rocks, go swimming (convincing the girls not to swim to New Zealand), or have a game of cricket , or just loll around reading a book. The wind could be pretty fierce there and by the time this tent was retired there was nary a straight pole among the collection.
The caption on this says "our firs camping weekend, Lamington NP, Anzac weekend 1985". Both tents are ours.

The caption on this says “our first (solo) camping weekend, Lamington NP, Anzac weekend 1985″. Both tents are ours.

One of our other favourite sites was at Lamington National Park where we’d see the bower birds, noisy pitta birds, rosellas and possums. It could get quite cold up there so we had some fun times rugged to our eyebrows, toasting marshmallows and playing maj jong or card games. During the day we’d go for walks in the magnificent rainforest, and perhaps feed more birds.camping Mt Lamington

And then there was the year I decided on the spur of the moment one school holidays to take DD3 and her cousin to the snow, a mere 1500kms or so away, as I’d heard there’d been great snowfalls. By the time we arrived at a motel after dark that night I was seriously doubting my sanity, especially as the motel seemed to have a high turnover of short term stays and a lot of cars coming and going! Once we reached Kosciuszko National Park, we camped below the snowline but believe me it was pretty cold just the same. The wildlife had grown accustomed to the campers so were on the lookout for snacks, like these two fellows. An improvement on our Bicentennial camping trip when the birds had eaten all our stone-fruit which we’d foolishly left on the table under the tent’s awning. When we returned the chairs were covered in the way you might expect when a critter has eaten a surfeit of stone fruit.

But it's cold and we need a snack!

But it’s cold and we need a snack!

Although it didn’t make the front page news, I regard my Big Trip of 1994 as my most memorable. Exhausted and burnt out from a high-intensity, very political job at a research centre it was time to take myself to the wilderness for a while (have I mentioned what a supportive husband I have?). So me, my tent and all my clutter took off in the car for points south of Queensland.

That raised bonnet suggests trouble was already afoot.

That raised bonnet suggests trouble was already afoot. Mt Kaputar National Park.

My first stop was Mt Kaputar where I arrived late in the afternoon. I got set up and made sure my brick-sized mobile phone was charged and checked in with himself. In the process I turned the car engine – and again – and again…to no avail. In the morning I got someone to jump start the car and made my way determinedly down the range to the nearest town, where I foolishly turned the engine off again. One day into my trip I had acquired a faulty alternator so I spent my second day cooling my heels in a country town waiting for it to be replaced.

Once again Hastings Pt 1989, but could be any/many of our campsites.

Once again Hastings Pt 1989, but could be any/many of our campsites.

Mercifully after that the trip went smoothly and I dawdled my way to Adelaide (I guess about 3000kms away) a couple of weeks later. While I often found myself camped with only a few other tents around, I also wasn’t being foolish. At one national park I got such a negative vibe that I just turned turkey and found a motel.

Mr Cassmob met me in Adelaide and we picked up DD2 and DD3 from the airport in Alice Springs, late as it happens, but that’s another story. This was our first excursion into the Northern Territory and little did we know then how big a part it would come to play in all our lives over the coming decades. By the time we pulled back into our driveway in Brisbane we’d notched up about 14,000kms and spent more than half the time under canvas.

At the time of the Bicentenary in 1988, submissions were sought from people around the country showing their favourite places and activities. We submitted this one of DD2 washing her sister’s hair, camping style.

Two of the Cass girls, Hastings Point. Page 272, My Australia, Robertsbridge Group Pty Ltd, Sydney, 1989.

Two of the Cass girls, Hastings Point. Page 272, My Australia, Robertsbridge Group Pty Ltd, Sydney, 1989.

As you can see, camping has been a large part of our family story over several decades. We don’t get to do it as much lately  – sleeping on the ground has worn off a little, but there is something very special about being out in the bush with a blur of the Milky Way over your head. The family cycle has turned and now our children and grandchildren love to escape the big smoke and head out to enjoy the nights away as a clan with glo-sticks, sparklers, marshmellows and a roaring fire. It is certainly creating some great cousin memories which will stay with them through their lives.

A souvenir photo, taken by one of the kids, when my parents came camping.

A souvenir photo, taken by one of the kids, when my parents came camping.

And as a finale, here’s a photo of an old-style tent taken at the Colonial Queensland exhibition in Brisbane in 1986. It was at this event that I enquired about family history research and signed up with the Genealogical Society of Queensland, thereby starting me down a path which has kept me engaged and happy for nearly thirty years.Colonial Day 1986

Now you’ve reached the end of this saga, why not head over to see what the other Sepians have had to say about camping or trios. It looks like it’s been a popular topic.

Did you go camping as a child? As an adult? Did you love it or loathe it?

Sepia Saturday 242: A costume fan

Sepia Saturday Aug 14Last Saturday’s Sepia Saturday 242 theme was fans, costumes etc in which host and coordinator Alan amused with his comments:I have never been a fan of fans. Whether they are slats of painted paper or those large metallic jobs that whirr around and threaten to lift your hairpiece into space, I would never volunteer to act as secretary of their fan club. 

Some of the fans I've inherited or been given.

Some of the fans I’ve inherited or been given.

Unlike Alan I live in the tropics where overhead fans are a necessary feature of our homes and any sudden absence of power makes you notice they’ve come to a silent standstill. When the humidity builds any hand-held fan works to combat the heat…beautiful hand-held ones or just a piece of paper. So I’m a fan of fans indeed.

I’m also a fan of national costumes having grown up in Brisbane with the influx of post-war migration. The annual Corpus Christi procession would see Catholics from various nations from Poland to Yugoslavia wearing their national dress proudly. Being a serious religious event I have no photos from those days.

70,000 Attend Corpus Christi. (1951, May 28). The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 - 1954), p. 3. Retrieved August 27, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article50103012

70,000 Attend Corpus Christi. (1951, May 28). The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 – 1954), p. 3. Retrieved August 27, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article50103012

Zurich032 copyHowever, today I want to share with you an unexpected event we encountered on our first youthful trip to Europe. We had arrived in Zurich as a natural progression in our “grand tour” and by pure chance, came across their end of winter parade in which the various guilds wore traditional dress. It was an amazing experience seeing these centuries-old traditions still in play. It was equally amazing to hear some young women backpackers, backs to the parade, bemoaning the boredom of Zurich!

Zurich020 editedAs people marched through the streets, family or friends would dash over to present them with bunches of flowers. An Aussie male in those days wouldn’t be seen dead carrying flowers but these men carried their floral gifts with aplomb.

Let me share this procession with you as a slide show – after all that’s the traditional way of sharing photos from a holiday.

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After the parade everyone made their way to a nearby park where an artificial snowman was ceremoniously burned to symbolise the end of winter. I still have the little snowman pin which I got there ….or was I given it? Mr Cassmob made friends somehow with three men from one of the guilds (blacksmiths, perhaps?) who shared their drink with him.Zurich 00snowman edit_edited-1

My poor tattered snowman.

My poor tattered snowman.

Altogether it is such a great memory of our early life together and the grand adventure of our first, but not as anticipated our last, trip to Europe. The internet tells me this festival still exists and is called the Sechseläuten festival and and the snowman is called the Böögg. It is normally held on the third Sunday and Monday in April, so if you’re planning to be in Switzerland in April sometime why not add it to your to-see list.

Why not pop over to the Sepia Saturday site to see whether others are fans of fans or costumes.

 

 

A winter excursion to the Top End?

I’ve been having a frivolous conversation on Facebook with my friend Sharn from Family History 4 U and Family Convictions and her overseas mates. The topic has been about Australian vernacular expressions and how they can be so easily misunderstood by non-Aussies. It finally occurred to me that I’d done a series of Aussie-isms in my April A to Z challenge in 2013 along with a virtual tour of Australia’s tropical north.

So if you’re in the mood to escape some chilly weather (the rest of Oz) or a summer chill out (northern hemisphere), why not go for a virtual excursion to the Top End where it’s presently a cool 22C (72F), and learn a little about our weird way of talking.

Yellow Waters in Kakadu National Park, NT.

Yellow Waters in Kakadu National Park, NT.

My Tropical Territory and Travel blog has been terribly neglected lately but I’m hoping to get some posts up soon about our recent adventures overseas.

And I’ve just discovered something else -you go to bed and overnight WordPress drastically changes the design for posting new stories! Uuuugh!

Have you noticed, too, that you can hit the like button under someone’s comment if you thought it was interesting, humorous etc?

A desperate family tableau

I’m a self-confessed travel addict but no matter how much one enjoys the experience of visiting new places (or revisiting “old” ones), travel does come with its ups and downs…in the case of the Paris metro, there’s lots of ups and downs in the ubiquitous stairs, especially when carrying luggage.

However some experiences reach deep into our hearts and minds.

As we walked up the hill from our wonderful hotel in Istanbul, we were confronted by a 2014 “holy family” tableau which has seared itself into my mind. “Syria, Syria, food, food” he said, waving a pre-printed sign in a plastic sleeve. His face was gaunt and his eyes desperate. Beside him his wife sat with a blank gaze, traumatised by lack of food or the things she’s seen in their country’s conflict. Their daughter, a toddler, sat docilely on her mother’s lap. Everything about them spoke of hunger, trauma and desperation.

Inured to rounds of importuning beggars we initially walked past them but this little family group was different. Their hopelessness spoke volumes and the next thing I was sobbing in tears. We turned back, giving them a donation with the universal sign of food and eating.

On our return a few hours later, they were in the same place, but now the toddler sat on the footpath, looking more animated and nibbling on a simit, a kind of Turkish roll available from mobile stalls for about 1 Turkish lira or 50 cents. Once again we turned back and gave them another donation.

We’re great believers in Kiva and have been part of Genealogists for Families since it was set up by Judy Webster. It makes a difference to those who’ve made steps towards independence and helps them protect the most valuable thing in all our lives – our families.

But how does a family like this one of Syrian refugees ever get to that stage of semi-independence? They are probably among those sleeping rough under the bushes and trees near the waterfront. Most likely they were in the only clothes they owned. You can’t fake the desperation in their eyes and faces…I have no doubt in my mind their circumstances were drastic. How will they ever break loose from this cycle of homelessness and despair? Even a basic job like collecting recyclables from the rubbish bins requires a large bag and trolley in which to carry them. And there we were, having spent what to them was a life’s fortune on a five week trip, buying gifts for our own family and complaining about the amount of luggage we had.

That tableau will remain in my memory for a very long time to come: the impact of war and conflict on the ordinary person.

This post is dedicated to my blogging friend Catherine Crout-Habel from the Seeing Susan ~ Meeting Marie ~ Finding Family blog. Catherine passed on to the land of her ancestors around the time we returned home. I’d never met her in person but felt I knew her from her intelligent and humorous posts. She was a woman who cared deeply for the underprivileged and I’m confident this experience of ours would have resonated with her.

Travel signs and portents

Have you missed me? I’ve been gone so long even I feel like I’ve been AWOL. Later on I’ll share with you my experiences on the Western Front in France and also at Gallipoli in Turkey.

Fun as it was, the Unlock the Past Cruise in February was the start of my blogging slippery slope. After that I got caught up in commitments with family and at home in Darwin and interstate. Inspired by my cruising experience we decided to take our first step into the non-conference cruising world with a voyage between Athens and Istanbul in June. Between all my travel agent duties, and doing the same for my Mum, time just galloped away from me.

Then we also gained a new twig on the family tree not long before we went away, and so the months of 2014 have slipped through my fingers, at least in blogging terms.

Family history at the moment is focused on trying to unravel the findings from DNA results for me, my mum and indirectly a cousin, my post on that will come later when my brain slowly makes sense of it…at least in part.

Meanwhile inspired by this week’s topic on Sepia Saturday I thought I’d offer you some signs from our recent gallivanting in Europe.

We absolutely loved Istanbul with its vibrant mix of East meets West, Islam meets Christianity and the buzz of the city. It was out first visit there and it’s now a firm favourite, whether we make it back there or not. As confirmed cat-lovers how could we not like a city where the stray cats are fed and looked after by the local shop-owners.

A sign on the rooftop terrace of our wonderful hotel.

A sign on the rooftop terrace of our wonderful Istanbul hotel.

Feeling stressed? Try some dessert!

Feeling stressed? Try some dessert!

No dessert needed here...this kitten is super-chilled out...well resting comfortably in the morning sunshine.

No dessert needed here…this kitten is super-chilled out…resting comfortably in the morning sunshine.

Taksim Square shopping festival  -we've got our eyes on you!

Taksim Square shopping festival -we’ve got our eyes on you!

 

Says it all really.

Says it all really.

And now to Prague where graffiti/cartoon sketches seem to be de rigeur. I asked our guide why, and he seemed surprised by the question. I wondered if it was a response by the people during the Communist era.

I don't really "get" the whole John Lennon thing, but this wall is a major tourist site.

I don’t really “get” the whole John Lennon thing, but this wall is a major tourist site.

On the wall of a hotel, with similar cartoons on the windows.

On the wall of a hotel, with similar cartoons on the windows.

On a far more serious note, around the city you will see signs which commemorate Czech people who gave their lives for their nation’s freedom.

DSC_0373 murder

Working in reverse to our trip here are some Parisian signs.

Seen in Montmatre, I know a few Territory males who think three vodkas is only the start of a serious night's drinking.

Seen in Montmatre, I know a few Territory males who think three vodkas is only the start of a serious night’s drinking.

Seen on the way to a lovely restaurant, this sign caught my eye. A number of my early Queensland ancestors settled near the Condamine River.

Seen on the way to a lovely restaurant, this sign caught my eye. A number of my early Queensland ancestors settled near the Condamine River.

What does it mean? Not sure I understand it...

What does it mean? Not sure I understand it…

I hope you’ve enjoyed this virtual journey through some of the travel signs that caught my eye.

 

Book of Me: Week 34 Easter Memories

Book of meIt’s ages since I did a Book of Me post but then I found Julie’s topic for this week is Easter memories…just when I’d been reflecting on that very topic last night and how I’m completely underwhelmed by the Easter palaver these days.

This was Julie’s key question: What does Easter Mean to you?

A religious event?
The first main break (in the UK) since Christmas and New Year
A more general Spring/Autumn event
Easter Bunnies
Eggs
Chocolate
Traditions

Growing up very Catholic (no that’s not a redundant combination), Easter for me was all about the religious reason for the season. Even more it was all about going to church again, and again, and again. Even as a very good child I found this all a bit overwhelming. There was the Holy Thursday celebration with washing of the feet (something which has generated controversy for Pope Francis), and after Mass, the adoration of the Eucharist.

Friday was of course the commemoration of the saviour’s suffering on the cross with stations of the cross then in later years, a procession around the church. Throughout all this, all the church fittings were draped in purple and the tabernacle door left open to symbolise God was no longer present.

Good Friday was/is a day of fasting and abstinence from meat. What fun…South African yellow cod…one of my favourite delicacies…not!

Saturday involved confession and then the Easter Vigil Mass at midnight. This was a high Mass with white vestments and much grandeur and celebration. The Paschal candle was lit and this would be used throughout the year during church celebrations and baptisms.

Living in a sub-tropical city the change of seasons was immaterial. It was only when Easter was late that there might have been a nip in the night air as autumn approached.

A gift from Aunty Emily.

A gift from Aunty Emily.

What was more exciting was that Lent had come to an end…alleluia! No longer were chocolates on the banned list but we could pig out on Easter Sunday and indulge in all those lollies that had been hoarded in bottles throughout Lent (I don’t claim this was logical!). Mum told me recently that her Protestant aunt (a grandmother substitute for me as mine had died), used to give me little tea cups during Lent rather than buy lollies. I also had Easter egg cups from her which I passed on to my grandchildren a couple of years ago.

easter cups 2I don’t recall anything like the fuss and kerfuffle that exists today with Easter egg hunts etc etc. What I do remember are those candy Easter eggs with frilly icing around the edge and an icing flower in the middle, something like this modern-day version. They were so hard it’s a wonder we didn’t break our teeth on them. We lived in Papua New Guinea when our two older children were young and the chocolate eggs which arrived were invariably stale so we got into the habit of buying the kids something special in Swiss chocolate like a foil-wrapped chocolate orange. My grandchildren are happy to indulge in Swiss chocolates at any time of year.

A very rare occasion - the winning of an Easter basket at work.

A very rare occasion – the winning of an Easter basket at work.

In Australia, it’s quite traditional to go camping during the Easter long weekend. As we didn’t have a car and Dad had to work shifts, we didn’t do this when I was growing up. Nor was it a tradition when our children were smaller – after all how to reconcile all the tie demands of church-going with camping. Besides which the weather is invariably unpredictable except in the likelihood of rain. Hence why it bucketed down here yesterday <smile>.

The little tea cups my Aunty Emily gave me.

The little tea cups my Aunty Emily gave me.

There was the year we took ourselves off to Cairns for Easter leaving the teen and adult daughter behind. While we were sunning ourselves and lazing in the pool, Brisbane had a cracker storm and one of our big eucalypts quietly subsided onto the roof without any damage other than bent guttering. We weren’t entirely popular!

Mr Cassmob remembers our first Easter together when we drove out along Milne Bay to the mission at Ladava for Easter Saturday Mass and saw the moon rise over the bay. I have no reason to doubt him but I have no recollection of it…I think I was still in shell-shock from relocating from “civilisation”.

Over the years we’ve been fortunate to travel quite a bit and because we like to do that off season we have some special Easter travel memories.

The Florence festival, Easter 1974.

The Florence festival, Scoppio del Carro, Easter 1974.

On our first trip to Europe we were in Florence for Easter and were delightedly surprised by the traditional celebration that occurs there, Scoppio del Carro. Rather than try to explain this complex process and its symbolism why not read this article? The owner of the pension arranged for her husband to stay up to let us in after midnight Mass which was kind of her. There were two interesting events in the midst of the service, at least to us. Firstly people just wandered around through the Duomo (cathedral) during the Mass, and secondly when it came time for the Bishop to pour out water from the pitcher, it was completely empty – much flurrying as an acolyte had to rush off and fill it up.

One of my all time family favourites. DD1 and DD2 in Interlaken, Easter Sunday 1977.

One of my all time family favourites. DD1 and DD2 in Interlaken, Easter Sunday 1977.

On our second trip to Europe with darling daughters 1 and 2, we were in Lucerne for Easter. What better place to be for a chocolate treat or two, yet there’s not a single photo of our indulgences. It was also spectacular because overnight on the Thursday or Friday, there was a huge snowfall which got even heavier later on. The girls got to make their first snowmen and have a mini-snowfight. On Easter Sunday we headed off by train on the next stage of our journey. I particularly love a photo I have of the two munchkins in Interlaken taken while we waited for the next train. And yes, despite warnings, they did of course go off into the snow and get their shoes wet even though we had an overnight train trip ahead of us.

A plethora of clerics.

A plethora of clerics.

It wasn’t for many years that we had another opportunity to be in Europe at Easter time. We met up with DD3 and partner and gadded around, taking our chances with Italian traffic. One day we visited the lovely village of Montepulciano where we saw the delicious Easter treats in the window of Caffe Poliziano. By Easter Sunday we were a deux once again and staying in a lovely hotel where the “room was tiny but the view was marvelleuse”.

Easter Mass was celebrated in grand style with a cluster of clergy and a huge crowd of people. Afterwards we had booked Easter lunch – about five courses, all huge. It remains in my memory as the biggest meal we’ve ever eaten – and trying to cut corners was definitely not permitted. We were so piggish that by the end we could barely walk without groaning and couldn’t even indulge in a little post-prandial gelato.

Easter Mass in Assisi 2000 with a massive outdoor congregation and al fresco Mass.

Easter Mass in Assisi 2000 with a massive outdoor congregation and al fresco Mass.

These days our Easter celebrations are so low-key they’re virtually invisible. In fact this year we haven’t even indulged in any more than a Tim-Tam or two. No Easter eggs were bought as the smallest people had reached their quota of sugar-hit and as family were off on a bush adventure we had a quiet day catching up on blogs etc. I think I missed the Easter celebration gene.

The Italians do Easter treats more glamorously than anyone. Mr Cassmob looking happy despite the rain outside a Florentine Bonbonierie.

The Italians do Easter treats more glamorously than anyone. Mr Cassmob looking happy despite the rain outside a Florentine Bonboniere.