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.

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?

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.

Don’t forget your research – and PRE-ORDER

There’s been lots of discussion about genea-cruising lately in  GeniAus’s great hangouts. In all of our angst thinking about packing and gadding around while on board a cruise, have we not placed enough emphasis on what we might do with our spare time when not absorbed in conferencing or chattering  networking with our genimates?

So a few reminders of things you might want to keep in mind while on your genea-journey. It doesn’t matter whether you’re cruising, travelling overseas, or doing an interstate trip. These are some of the things I’ve experienced while researching here, there and “everywhere”.

Are you going to visit a library or archive in one of the ports/cities?

Have you checked what you need to take you?

Do you need a passport photo, for example? I found out yesterday that you do need one to use the History Centre in the Tasmanian Archives. I got caught out in Edinburgh on my last trip and wasted time toddling off to the photo centre nearby for my pics. Actually I think Jackie is correct and I’ve misinterpreted what the archivist said “photographic ID and also something with your current address – drivers license is good” – I saw them as two different things but seems likely they’re not.

Maybe there’s a sign-up form you can fill out before you get there. I sometimes use that jetlag arrival time to sign up for membership and get my bearings. I’m then good to go the next day.

Check out the Catalogue

When I’m organised (which isn’t on every trip!) I try to have a running file of research activities, or specific mysteries I’d like to resolve using particular records. It makes it easier to maximise your effort, so if you’re waiting for document delivery you can skip through a microfilm which are usually accessible.

Archive catalogues can be somewhat opaque, but somewhere on their website there should be guides to their most-used resources, and they’re well worth reading, before, during, and after your visit.

I love having my family stories and information on the computer so everything I have is with me. But sometimes for all the joys of technology it’s easier to have this (or part of it) in hard copy while you’re in the archive. You can always tear it up and throw it away if your packing gets too heavy.

PRE-ORDER:

This was something that had dropped off my radar as it’s a while since I’ve needed to do it. Not all documents in archives or reference libraries are held on site. If it takes a day or two (or even an hour or two) this can really put the kybosh on your research plans…I’ve been caught out not planning when visiting John Oxley library, for example.

Yesterday I spoke to the Tasmanian Archives people via online chat and was reminded to do this. I’ve ordered up a swag of stuff in the hope of any tiny clue about my Florentia ambiguity.

Timing:

Check which repositories are open when, as well as where they are, how to get there, and phone/email contact details. Plan your research around that to maximise your time. I put all that in a document and discard it when we move on to the next place.

Libraries often stay open later than archives, even if it’s not the reference section, so you can fit a little more sleuthing in there after business hours. Check out the university libraries as well as they often have great books, newspapers and journals which are very useful – and they’re usually open later. You might be surprised by what records have been deposited with them. For example in Glasgow I visited the university library to look at a shipping company’s records – I didn’t find what I was hoping for, but at least I eliminated one possibility.

Genealogy Societies

If you’re planning on visiting any genealogy societies, don’t forget to take your home-state card with you as they may have reciprocal rights.

Clothes and Shoes

Good shoes for cemeteries are a must and after tearing one pair of trousers on a cemetery fence in Ireland I won’t travel with only one spare pair of trousers.

No doubt there’s something I’ve forgotten but these are the tips that have helped me in my genea-journeys over the years. I’m lucky on this cruise as, apart from Hobart and Sydney post-cruise, I have no pressing need to do research. I’m going to have fun hanging out with “old” mates and meeting a new cousin.

 Credits: GeniAus has invented so many great genea-words for us to describe what we do. Not to mention all the hangouts that she’s introduced us to. Thanks Jill!

Packing for the 4th UTP geneacruise

This week GeniAus hosted another Hangout – to which she’s become somewhat addicted <smile>>

220px-Steamer_trunkThe topic this week was “Packing for a Geneajaunt”. Since this time next week we’ll be sailing through Sydney Heads on the 4th Unlock the Past (UTP) cruise. My spare bed is currently inundated with bits and pieces of packing which looks like it might need an old-style steamer trunk. My husband asked, ever so politely, do you think that’s all going to fit?

So what I have got on my long-list and have I forgotten anything?

THE ESSENTIALS

My Sea Pass and relevant paperwork, including personal ID.

Laptop with my life’s work, photos etc (lightweight as that’s a key selection criterion)

iPad for reading and music on the plane flight and Feedly/FB etc when I have a connection, plus download cable for connection with SD card

Mobile wifi goes with me on every trip

Smart phone (mobile download to be turned off when not in port)

Chargers for each of course!

SLR digital camera, spare battery and SD card (spare)

US power converters for the cruise

Binoculars (in my packing but forgot them off this list)

A sheet of bubble wrap – for gifts etc (weighs nothing and can be thrown out if desired)

Society membership cards for visits to interstate genie societies

Sign-up forms for archives if required.

“Business” cards with my family research names on the reverse

Genealogists for Families postcards for the promos we want to do

My Flip-Pal scanner is coming because I’m visiting a cousin to do lots of scans & spare batteries

Notebook for reminders, planning and lecture notes

A hard copy of my presentation (insurance!)

Blank DVDs (maybe) and memory stick

Printed list of attendees

Headset for hangouts and skype calls home.

A geneabook for Jill Ball’s genea-reader forum.

A couple of zip-lock bags

Remote control for my power-point presentation

Small torch and red cellophane (for Melissa Hulbert’s sky tour)

Blogging badge

A couple of Australia Post post-packs

ODDS and ENDS (some suggested by geneacruisers, some from online cruise reviews)

suction plug for extra hanging space?

small sink plug

Small amount of laundry detergent and some pegs

Febreeze to spray on clothes and eliminate wrinkles

SPACE for gifts for my grandchildren, whose eyes sparkled when they saw the Disney characters.

WHAT HAVE I FORGOTTEN?

Hmm, clothes perhaps??

Bling enough to do you think? Just kidding...

Bling enough to do you think? Just kidding…

Some suitable evening wear tops to wear with black trousers on formal nights

Swimsuit in the optimistic thought that I’ll get to the pool

A weather-proof jacket and umbrella

A light jumper and pashmina for the conference room, having been warned how chilly it is.

Comfortable shoes

Let’s hope I can pull off a Mary Poppins, and fit everything into my usual suitcase and hopefully <17kgs (not counting my laptop bag).

Sepia Saturday : Skiing the black runs…or not!

Looking the part as we set forth from our cabin.

Looking the part as we set forth from our cabin at Methven.

Back in 1984, the Cass Mob ventured forth on their first skiing expedition as part of a driving trip around New Zealand. We’d first been there in 1975 but at a different time of the year, and with no plans to ski. This time we had promised the girls there’d be snow…and plenty of it.

Sure enough there was plenty as we drove over Arthur’s Pass without chains (don’t even go into the reason behind that, thank you Avis!)..scary enough that another driver had a heart attack. But by the time we got to our cabin near the Mt Hutt ski-fields, snow was a little thin on the ground.

Bizarrely at the same time there was actually snow falling at Stanthorpe, about 150kms from where we lived, and Dad always vowed and declared that when he was on night shift in the Roma St Railway yards that week, there’d been snowflakes which melted before hitting the ground. And there we were, almost snow-less in the ski-fields….well I exaggerate a little.

I suspect DD2 was laughing like a drain at this point. And big sister wanted to help. DD3 and I knew we'd be useless.

I suspect DD2 was laughing, or hamming it up, at this point. And big sister wanted to help. DD3 and I knew we’d be useless. Mt Hutt 1984

I think these photos were taken on our very first skiing expedition and as you can see we were the picture of skill, grace and glamour! I was clever enough not to be photographed actually trying to do anything!! That night there was a massive dump of snow and we were holed up in our cabin, log fire, marshmellows, games and books.Louisa and Bec skiing Mt HuttA couple of days later we were able to venture up what was a rather scary road for we sub-tropical folk and have another go at skiing. I think it’s safe to say that Mr Cassmob and I promptly decided any winter sports skills we had would be confined to skating, not skiing. Before we left that day the older two were whizzing down steep slopes quite confidently.

My feet are supposed to do what...?

My feet are supposed to do what…?

It was traditional at their school to do a ski trip in their final year of school. Each and every one of our little “angels” made it their mission to ski the black runs before they came home!! But my abiding memory is the bedraggled group of young ladies who set forth on one of the trips the night after their Year 12 final….wild and woolly.

Always keen for a pose...just like her daughter is now.

Always keen for a pose…just like her daughter is now. Mt Hutt 1984

I was going to say that was the start and finish of our skiing adventures, but I just remembered I took DD3 and her cousin to the Snowy Mountains one September holidays when I had a week off work with the kids and it suddenly started dumping. So a 3000km drive to go for a few days’ skiing…I must really be mad!

What was that about posing? Surely I look the part at least?

What was that about posing? Surely I look the part at least? Perisher 1990

We camped among the snow gums below the snow line at Sawpit Creek and had possums visiting us every night. Possums have something in common with humans – they like to eat what they shouldn’t, especially marshmellows.Bec and possum Snowy

The kids had fun… attempting to ski and building a snowman and generally playing in the snow.

Having fun -the headband actually says "Ski Austria" not "Ski Australia"

Having fun -the headband actually says “Ski Austria” not “Ski Australia”

Posing seemed to be the name of the game.

Pauleen posing at Perisher -seemed to be the name of the game.

Camping below the snow line was a bit of a challenge though…one way to use every article of warm clothing in the car. And they made sure I paid for it with this glamour shot…after all when it’s below zero who cares how you look!

I wonder just how many layers I was wearing?

I wonder just how many layers I was wearing?

Why not see what  other Sepians have had to say about snow and skiing this week. Was it something they’re sick of or longing for?

Sepia Saturday 212

Kenya and Kiva

Image purchased from Shutterstock.

Image purchased from Shutterstock.

Have wondering where I’d vanished to? We have been adventuring in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, spending time with two of our daughters, one of whom lives in Nairobi, and seeing all sorts of wonderful animals from A to Z. We had a great time of it but must admit to being a little weary after the adventures.

We found the Kenyan people so friendly and engaging, and also very keen to better their lot in life. We who are used to conventional shops for all our necessities, or even our wants, were amazed by the sheer variety of products available on the roadside, each little stall or activity run by an enterprising individual. Admittedly we had flash-backs in part to visits to Bali over the road-side furniture manufacturing and stalls, but there were still significant differences. Whole stretches of footpaths had become garden pot sales areas, or mini (or not-so-mini) plant nurseries.

606 roses 2

Two dozen roses for about $5 is a good deal.

The abundance of roadside flower stalls with utterly magnificent roses and all manner of cut flowers was such a temptation, and while as a tourist one can’t usually take advantage of such things unless staying put for a few days, we were spoiled by seeing great arrays of them in our daughter’s home, and for a ridiculously cheap cost. Did you know that many of the flowers you see on display in Europe’s hotels and restaurants come from Kenya, especially near Lake Naivasha where the poly-tunnels are huge? Neither did I until the impact of the Nairobi airport fire made it clear.

The airport fire occurred about a month before we were due to arrive. It was certainly different to be processed by immigration in a marquee, though by the time we returned from Zanzibar, the newly built multi-story car park had been transformed into a very efficient arrivals hall. Having checked in, cleared immigration, and with “no guns beyond this point, on our outgoing flights, we headed for our departure lounge, which for each flight remained in a marquee or large tent, rather making me wish I’d dressed more casually given the heat in the confined space. We were taken by the inspirational signage near the baggage bays saying things like “every bag you lift raises Kenya up”. Not sure the men who unloaded the bags the first day were quite “on the page” with that one though <smile>. Kiva1

Business is done in all sorts of places, with little grocery and clothes shops everywhere. I saw quite a few micro-finance lenders’ offices which of course reminded me of Kiva. I’ve previously been reluctant to provide loans to those simply on-selling goods, but now I realise just how critical this is for people’s economic survival. I’ve also wondered from time to time why teachers might be applying for loans when they already had good jobs. That question was answered for me by a friend who is working as a teacher’s aide in Uganda. The monthly salary is an absurdly low amount and much lower than other career options. A gardener in a unit complex might have a reliable job, but his wages are very low and any medical expense, or the cost of a family funeral, will play havoc with the family’s budget and savings.

The impact of Jomo Kenyatta airport's fire.

The impact of Jomo Kenyatta airport’s fire.

And so, with a fair bit of credit in my Kiva account from repaid loans, I’ve made several loans to hard-working Kenyans. If you feel motivated to join Kiva, you don’t have to support Kenyan loans, but do have a look at the Genealogists for Families Team to see just what great work has been done, in a very short period of time. Full credit to Judy Webster for setting up this team in honour of her father.

Another reason for providing our support for Kenyans on Kiva right now, is that they will be doing it tough as the economic impact of the Westside mall terrorist attack hits home. Sadly it’s likely that it will also impact tourism numbers to the country and ordinary Kenyans, working hard to provide for their families, will suffer. We were in Nairobi, staying less than 500 metres away, when the assault took place so it was very much “there but for the Grace of God” for us. Sadly 67, or more, people were not so fortunate. The knock-on effect will be huge as people curtail their trips to the shops and stay out for shorter times. Everyday Kenyans rallied to support those injured in the attack, or the families of those who were killed, with their prayers, support and blood donations, irrespective of their religious affiliations.

Mr Cassmob and one of our Samburu guides, Anthony.

Mr Cassmob and one of our Samburu guides, Anthony.

Our final safari, to Samburu, overlapped with the final days of the siege and the guides were already concerned about the impact on their livelihood. We can honestly say that the siege did not ruin our enjoyment of Kenya and all it has to offer.

Ordinary Kenyans were so inspiring with their commitment to learning more (languages, skills etc) and improving their lives. We would visit again tomorrow – after we catch up on our sleep.

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So if you’re on Kiva, or if you’ve been thinking about joining, why not provide your support to Kenya at this difficult time and show the people the world is thinking of them. The image on my sidebar will take you to Genealogists for Families.

In the coming weeks I’ll be posting photos and stories from our Kenyan travel on my other blog, Tropical Territory and Travels, and you’ll soon see why we absolutely loved this amazing experience.

Sepia Saturday 173: Vegetarians beware

Sepia Saturday 173I can’t believe I almost forgot last weekend’s Sepia Saturday when I had just the photos for it! Comes of dealing with technical problems I guess.

Borough markets1

A couple of years ago my husband and I were able to visit London and actually spent some time sightseeing rather than just doing family history. One of our “discoveries” was the joys of the Borough Markets. Now I’m sure this is old hat to my English readers but what a great time we had looking at all the produce, much of it so different from what we have here, and definitely fresher than a lot we get. The colours and the arrangements were just gorgeous and so photogenic. It was also incredibly cold that morning too, so we actually drank a mulled wine and followed up with a curry at some ridiculously early hour!.

At the Borough Markets

At the Borough Markets

Now I’m not vegetarian – I’m one of those food hypocrites who likes to pretend their meat just appears on Styrofoam trays in the supermarket. But even I couldn’t resist these images of freshly delivered critters. My foodie daughter has no such qualms -she’ll happily look at young lambs gambolling in the field and think how delicious they’ll taste.

Paddock to plate.

Paddock to plate.

I know rabbits can be a pest, and they certainly are here having been imported for hunting by nostalgic British settlers, but they are oh so cute, as well as delicious when cooked. I have a delicious homemade Italian rabbit ragu at a restaurant I like in Brisbane whenever it’s available, and I’m in town.

Bunnies

Ditto the ducks with their gorgeous heads still vibrantly coloured. Peking Duck anyone?

Ducks and pheasants

Not only did we have a fabulous time at the markets we were able to have an interlude visiting the adjacent Southwark Cathedral, St Saviour’s, where Mr Cassmob’s ancestors were married. One of the ushers looked appalled when I said it had a modern feel, I suppose quite rightly given its age, but what I liked about it was its simplicity of line.

St Saviours interior

I can feel a series of photos coming up about our travels on my Tropical Territory blog once I get through the April A to Z challenge.

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An invitation to A to Z

A2Z-2013-BADGE-001Small_zps669396f9 (1)Last year I participated in the 2012 A to Z challenge and my theme was my family’s heritage places, long past and recent. Because it related to family history, I my stories posted on this blog.

This year my theme is about tourist spots and interesting places to visit across Australia’s north, especially in the Northern Territory. As well as some “what’s there” and “why visit”, I’m including some photos and some Australian colloquialisms (Aussie-isms, I’m calling them) which might help decipher some of the weird things Aussies say that mystify visitors.

If you feel like a bit of a virtual holiday, I’d like to invite you to join me on my Tropical Territory blog through April. Here’s where I explain what it’s all going to be about, including some maps marked with the places where I’ll be your tour guide from Alice Springs (NT) to Zebedee Springs (WA).