Monday Memories: Flying and travel

postcard-1242616_1280Yes, it’s Tuesday, but unfortunately my internet was on strike yesterday.

This (Monday) morning, I was reflecting on the changes over the decades to flying and travelling internationally (and domestic).

My mother-in-law had a mantra which we maintain: “tickets, passport, wallets, kids”. Now that the latter are adults and we’re empty nesters, we can automatically tick one box at least. Of the other three, perhaps passports have changed the least, but we’ve seen a great many other changes. I wonder how many you remember?

1974 Europe tvl001.jpg

Many of our early international trips were on Boeing 707s.

  • Tickets were multi-leaved flimsy documents and each page or leaf covered one sector of your flight booking. As you checked in, that leaf was torn out.
  • You were checked in by real humans -some scary (if you were worried about luggage allowances) and some all smiley and happy. The check-in process didn’t yet make you feel like a rat in a maze.
  • The in-flight cabin crew were usually men and women but the women were always young and beautiful. Qantas was renowned for having many male stewards. Of course there were no female pilots on any of the airlines at the time.
  • Economy was still cattle-class but at least it hadn’t progressed to chicken-coop-class (3C) where your knees are against the seat in front (if you’re more than 5ft 4ins) or your hips are wedged against the armrests (if you’re not a stick insect any more).
  • You were plied with large meals at every turn and received a glossy printed menu for each meal. The rationale that it’s better to have small, infrequent meals seems to have a lot less to do with health, than business economics.
  • There were no long-haul flights per se. Aircraft had not yet been developed to fly Australia to Europe in two hops, or even one, with the new Dreamliner. Our most memorable trip in 1977 was Port Moresby, Manila, Bangkok, Karachi, Teheran, Rome. Kangaroo flight indeed. It got very tedious when you’d just got your kids to sleep then had to wake them up at that transit stop.
  • In-flight entertainment was a whole other ballpark. The crew would offer you a variety of newspapers and magazines – of course the women were automatically offered “women’s” mags and the men the business papers and magazines. You carried the books you thought you’d read en route but obviously weight was an issue. Tiny packs of playing cards were sometimes handed out and the children got kid’s packs of colouring books etc. If they were lucky they were (rarely) taken up to the see the flight deck.
  • FrommerYou carried your Frommer’s “Europe on $5/$10 a day” because there was a limit to how much pre-planning and pre-booking you could do in advance. What’s the internet? What’s a computer?
  • If you worried about safety it was more to do with weather and potential crashes (especially flying in Papua New Guinea). While terrorist attacks happened in those days, they seemed less of a threat than they do since 9/11….or perhaps the powers-that-be have hyped up this fear.
  • Smoking was permitted on the aircraft and even when there was a no-smoking section it did little to improve the overall air quality.
  • Alcohol was free (I think) and many people made sure they took advantage. I was not impressed with the family behind us en route to Rome when the couple drank and drank, leaving their children to pester those in neighbouring seats.
  • The toilet facilities had toiletries even in economy – but then I guess they were long flights!
  • You received a proper in-flight pack of socks, eyeshade, ear plugs and toothbrush.
  • You could carry water through check-in and on board.
  • You had no clue where you were between transit stops – there were no in-flight maps or camera in the aircraft nose etc – but you looked out the windows and gained a sense of the world. I still remember flying over vast tracts of north-west India into Pakistan and seeing little villages lit-up in a sea of darkness.
  • There were no in-flight TVs (or streamed to an iPad – what’s that?) hence no music, TV shows, movies, games etc.
  • There were no eye-scanners at Passport control.
  • Vaccinations were still required for smallpox and cholera, even for trips to Europe.
  • International flights were something many people could only dream of because of the expense. We were lucky that our PNG employment conditions enabled us to convert our Australian flight entitlement to a (partial) overseas fare.
  • We’ve paid for cheaper fares and accessibility to overseas flights with many of the economic cost-cutting measures the airlines have implemented: fewer meals, more squashed seats, paying for checked-in luggage etc.
  • Of course the truly brave souls, including some of our friends, backpacked from London to Australia through many of the countries that are now international hotspots.

After 30 odd hours you arrived

  • On the ground in Europe, your passport was stamped as you crossed each border. If you were on an overnight train, you were regularly woken by immigration and train officials for ticket and passport inspections. This could get very tedious.
  • You had to check you had visas for the relevant countries you were visiting and also, for us, re-Entry Permits back to Papua New Guinea.
  • Every country had its own currency so it gave your mental arithmetic a work-out. Credit cards took weeks for payments to be processed. You carried travellers’ cheques as there were no ATMs or bank cash cards.
  • 1974 Europe tvl035 (2)You wrote aerogrammes home and sent postcards, not emails. If you needed to get in touch with home, you went to a large post office, booked an international call, and were sent to a particular cubicle.
  • You took slides or photos and sent the film home to be developed.
  • And when you flew back into Australia, before you could disembark, two men would come up the aisles with spray cans aloft spraying any wayward insects that had tried to hitch a free ride to Australia.

I did a rough tally of the airlines we’ve flown with internationally since 1974: Qantas, Emirates, Air New Zealand, Scandinavian (SAS), Air Nuigini, Malaysian, Philippines Airlines, Royal Nepal, British Airways/BOAC, United, Air Canada, Aer Lingus, Singapore Airlines, Thai, Japan Airlines (JAL), SwissAir, Cathay Pacific, Lufthansa, Jetstar and others I’ve probably forgotten.

I’ve only flown Business internationally twice: once when we went finish[i] from Papua New Guinea and on a Los Angeles-Brisbane flight in 1989, thanks to a dodgy move they tried on. I look at the cost, then at what we can use that for in other travel and back to chicken-coop-class we go. Maybe one day when we’re older and grey-er.

What are your memories of those flights of our youth? Fond and rose-coloured, or tinged with horrors?

[i] “Going finish” was the term used by expats in Papua New Guinea when they left the country for good. It could be a very emotional and pivotal time for each family.

Ready for RootsTech?

jet-1357973_1280The geneaglobe is hopping as many people prepare to jet off to Salt Lake City to attend the RootsTech conference which is a huge event, in size, speaker power, exhibitors and learning content.

This year I’m combining it with a trip even further north to Canada, about which I’m really excited. Mr Cassmob is also coming with me so I suspect his eyes will be popping at the scale of RT. Meanwhile family members will enjoy a beach holiday at our place while we are freezing in sub-zero temps. It’s a lot colder this year than when I attended RootsTech two years ago, so careful planning is required.

So what is on my planning list? This is all a bit nitty-gritty but it seems to me we often overlook the semi-obvious. With thanks to all those who’ve gone before me, and provided advice, wisdom and mateship.

TRAVEL

checklist-1919292_1920Flights booked and confirmed, and ESTA permit done.

DFAT registration – to be done

Hotel booked in Salt Lake.

Travel Insurance

Register travel with DFAT– still to be done. (This is for the Aussies)

Advise bank that we will be away so they don’t bounce our cards.

Itinerary printed, copied to offline Evernote and on email. Ditto documents.

Check out how you’ll get from the airport to the city: TRAX, hotel bus, or shuttle bus (there are others, but I used this one last time. Tip – tell them you’re there before you pick up your luggage as otherwise you may have to wait until the next bus, even if you’ve booked)

Sleep bank stored – hah! I have trouble sleeping before big trips as my mind keeps thinking up lists.

TECH STUFF

SIM cards for smart phone & a wireless dongle. (I’ve used Go Sim a few times, and it works)

Charger packs to keep the tech going all day.

iPad – I’m not taking the laptop. In part because of the extended trip, but I can manage most things on the iPad and will take other data on USBs.

USBs for the Family History Library and to share info with Canadian cousins we’re meeting up with.

Backup Drive (maybe)

USBs with fancy connections so I can copy info from the iPad and also the Android phone

US adaptors and charging cords for each bit of tech – takes more weight than toiletries!

Cash Travel cards (issued by your bank).

A stash of US dollars to pay for transit expenses, snacks, tips.

New fancy RFID wallet and handbag – thanks Santa!

ID protector pockets for passport and credit cards if you don’t have above.

In-flight reading, books and podcasts on iPad…oh yes, I’m supposed to sleep. I think I already have enough to lap the world a few times.

SOCIAL MEDIA and SCHEDULING

social-networks-1863613RootsTech App downloaded and profile updated and add friends as they come online: there are still gaps.

Work out which sessions to attend: lots of competing entries always.

Book and pay for lunches and computer labs if required/desired.

Check out the exhibitors and decide which stands you most want to visit.

Book for any of the social events available that you wish to attend and link up with genimates from near and far.

Fill out the feedback content on the app as each presentation finishes.

Keep your notes in Evernote or in the app. (I prefer the former)

Remember not to photograph speaker’s slides without prior permission.

Sign up for the Geneabloggers at RootsTech Facebook group (You do need to be a geneablogger). It’s a great way to connect with people in advance.

Sign up with Geneabloggers’ Thomas MacEntee for your blogging beads. (Thanks to DearMYRTLE and Russ Worthington for sponsoring the beads once again).

Download the Salt Lake City Visitors’ Guide to iBooks or equivalent.

RESEARCH

old-1130743_1920Save relevant documents to Evernote and sync if you have a full subscription, along with travel documents.

Prepare a list of things to search in the Family History Library: I’m focusing mostly on books rather than microfilms which I can order in here and which take a lot of time to review thoroughly.

I use the keyword option when searching the Family Search Catalogue looking for counties and places relevant to my families. I’ve printed a swag of pages to take with me, and will prioritise them. They’ll go in the bin when I’ve checked them off. With lots of time I’d put it all in a spreadsheet but….

On this visit we’ll have time after RootsTech to research in the library, so that will mean we won’t bother during RT.

Make sure your camera is fully charged and ready to go.

Have your family tree online, on paper or on your smart phone for ready reference.

BITS & BOBS

conference-ribbons√Aussie souvenirs.

√Business cards for my blog with family names on reverse.

√Badge with my blog name on it.

√Conference ribbons to promote your business/blog or a cause like Genealogists for Families. If anyone has ancestors from East Clare, or is part of the Kiva GFF group, please see me for a ribbon.

√Any special gifts for genimates?

√Bubble wrap and zip lock bags, as usual.

√Carry bag featuring my blog name (from Vistaprint).

Make dinner reservations if needed. The Blue Lemon, PF Changs and the Olive Garden were all reasonable places to eat which I visited.

√Booked tickets for a game of basketball featuring the Salt Lake Jazz.

Strong muscles for all the stuff I take and collect (hah!)

If you want to buy some food to have in your hotel room, Harmons City Creek is not too far a walk unless it’s snowy and super-cold.

CLOTHES

blizzard-1245929_1920.jpg

Boring but necessary. I’ll be going from 25-35C (or 85-95F) to anything down to -20 so there’s quite a change. I’m telling myself we’ve often travelled in winter so it will be fine.

Lots of layers, a pashmina or two, leggings/stockings, thermals, coat, scarves, gloves, walking boots and hat: that should cover the extras.. a challenge for someone who lives in shorts and tank tops!

Make sure your boots/shoes are comfortable as you’ll be notching up some distance in the Salt Palace.

And for those who can’t make it to RootsTech, you don’t have to miss out. Follow your favourite bloggers’ posts, tweets @RootsTechConf or watch the live screen broadcasts here (these will later be available online as videos.)

What have I forgotten? Any thoughts?

Disclosure: I have not received any financial remuneration for recommending the places/sources mentioned. They are offered as a helpful clue to possibilities.

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.