A Noel Guthrie Acrylic on canvas

A Noel Guthrie Acrylic on canvas
The Cockabully Hunters --- from an original painting by Noel Guthrie

Monday, 17 December 2012

An Ungodly lot at the Serpentine

Several years ago I had the opportunity to travel over the Rough Ridge Mountain Range following part of the old Dunstan Trail in Central Otago.  It is certainly not a trip to be taken in the latest BMW.  Even for a 4-wheel drive vehicle it was a fairly rough ride in places.
All that aside, it was a fantastic drive.  The weather was clear, with a light easterly breeze and not a cloud in the sky, I just wished I could have spent more time there.
Just past the Poolburn Reservoir, which in reality is more of a small lake.  We turned left at a fork in the trail and followed the track all the way down to the old gold diggings of the Serpentine, deep in the mountain range.  At one time there was quite a settlement there, but all that remains nowadays is the old stone Church.  While there I took the opportunity to make a quick sketch.

The site of Serpentine, as the crow flies, is about 45 kilometres southwest from Middlemarch.
Serpentine probably began as a gold mining township when gold was discovered there in around 1863.  That shiny stuff was first located in a little creek on the western side of the upper Taieri, near Styx Junction.  Because it took a winding course across the upper Taieri Plains, old prospectors named it the Serpentine.  Although the Maori called it Waimonga, or the Water Marrow.
Near the head of this creek, more than one thousand metres up in Rough Ridge Range and along a small plateau, gold was again found just prior to the winter of 1863, marking the beginnings of the Serpentine village.
Small claims appeared in the vicinity surrounding the township, with Long Valley, German Jacks and Pile-up, eventually becoming the main mines.
The shallow ground at many claims was stripped to solid rock in places within six years. 
By 1869, John Cogan began blasting a tailrace through the rock to extend his mining activities.  In 1871, a tailrace being built up the Golden Gully claim caused some legal disputes and because of this, the first Wardens Court was scheduled to settle the affair at Serpentine.  However, before the Warden, R M Robinson arrived, matters were attended to in an out of court settlement, yes, a solution best known to those rugged pioneers, a fist fight.
By 1872, roundabout 230 miners and others lived around Serpentine.  Europeans numbered close to 80, while Chinese diggers, who had swarmed into the valley over the previous couple of years or so numbered around the 150 mark.  It is said the majority of the Chinese miners avoided the extreme winters in Serpentine, they temporarily moved camp to Moa Creek, Patearoa and Alexandra, then returning during the spring thaw.
In 1911, it is reported that ice at the German Jacks claim was 37 centimetres thick while at Serpentine it was said to be 50 centimetres thick.
The Mosen Brothers introduced skis made from two metre strips of ash timber making winter travel less hazardous for miners. The brothers owned a store in Scandinavian Gully.  Unfortunately several accidents did occur during the depths of the winter.  One reported mishap was near the Drunken Woman Inn, a pub located overland between Serpentine and Alexandra.  Here a miner lost his life in a blizzard, and the story goes it was several years before they found his body.  During 1873, J T Warburton, who made regular trips into Serpentine, commenced a mail service.  In that same year and to break the monotony, a racecourse was established for the occasional event.

Towards the end of 1873, a small cemetery, which would eventually be the last resting place of a European woman and a young child, along with one member of the Chinese community, was established.  By 1880 it appeared the main rush for gold was over and the little hamlet of Serpentine settled down for a quieter life style.
Obviously Serpentine was strategically situated for the survival of many claims in the vicinity. With two stores-cum-hotels, it acted as the shopping centre for the miners who worked claims like Golden Gully, Golden Link, Try Again, Golden Belt, Anglo Swiss, Scandinavian, North Cross, Dismal Swamp, German Jacks, Long Valley and Pile-up.
While a miner’s life in Serpentine may have been uncomplicated, it was a harsh existence. Most of the gold discovered, usually found its way into the storekeeper’s pocket, in return for provisions.  The Chinese however, made sure all their transactions were recorded in what they referred to as the  “Big Book.”
During the 1870’s, Serpentines only church was built of stone, with an iron roof.  However, it appears the little Church had a short but spectacular existence.  On the special day set aside for the dedication of this little church, the minister arrived late.  In the meantime, tired of waiting, miners breasted up to the bar at the village pubs.
The service eventually got under way.  Those inebriated miners caused a bit of a kafuffle during the service, they were insisting on an encore at the end of each hymn.  Endeavouring to remain calm throughout, the minister proclaimed at the conclusion, his parishioners were an ungodly lot.
To the amusement of most who attended the service, the minister scurried out of the church, claiming he was never coming back.
Eventually, this church was sold to a couple of miners who installed a stove thus turning the place into a place of residence.
Much later when the valley was deserted it became a musterer’s hut.

These days of course, the Serpentine is but a memory, where mounds of stone and sod indicate the existence of those homes where once a hardy breed of men and women lived.

In 1930, a distant memory drew a young woman into these rugged mountains, back to the gravesite of a grandmother she never knew.  Here she planted a solitary daffodil bulb.
I am told, at the onset of spring and if you look hard enough, you may find that solitary daffodil still bringing forth a small splash of colour, to this otherwise desolate spot.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Who's that clumsy oaf!

When hardware stores were serious business
To bring any piece of history back to life is always quite fascinating.
If I recall correctly, Briscoe’s occupied this old place in Timaru at one stage.  As a young apprentice, I can remember the oiled floorboards in this shop.
This hardware shop was entered from the corner of Stafford Street and the Royal Arcade.  With the aid of a naked bulb hanging about three metres above floor level and with what dim light penetrated those windows along the arcade, you could see rows of dull steel nail heads, protruding through the well worn floor, like rows of ants marching into oblivion.
Years gone by, for whatever reason, shopkeepers spoke barely above a whisper, as if there was a wake in every shop.  Rubber soles shoes were a luxury at that time; leather soles with steel heel and toecaps were the in things.
Now imagine if you will, a gangling 16 years old, whose number 10s outweighed the rest of his entire skinny frame.
Of course that gangly young fellow, who shall remain completely anonymous, always seemed to create a spectacle in the likes of Briscoe’s.
You see, to get to the tool section, a customer had to run the gauntlet, through a maze that seemed to stretch for ever, past racks of pipe fittings, tin buckets, watering cans and an enormous array of ironmongery.
One false move, one wrong turn and a dozen tin buckets and cans would come crashing around your ears . . . . . that’s what a friend of mine said anyway.
Who is that clumsy oaf, I can still hear them whispering, as the tin ware hit the floor in a reverberating crescendo that would wake the deadest of the dead.  And everyone stared!
Your face feels hot as a red flush of embarrassment creeps up from about your waist somewhere.  Desperately you look around for a convenient knothole in the floor where you could descend.  In the vain attempt to make a noiseless retreat, you tiptoe towards the door, your toecaps making a terrible racket as they touch the floor.  Then just as you are about to shamefacedly pass an array tin bake ware delicately piled high on the shelf, your toe has to catch on one bloody nail head sticking above floor level, and you kick it with you steel cap.  All hell breaks loose as you stumble, fling you arms out to save your self and touch the tin bake ware.  .  .  .  . Yeah, sixty years on and I can still hear that racket.

On January 1st, 1867, Mr Edward Reece sent Mr Priest to Timaru from Christchurch.   Edward had a hardware business in Christchurch and it was his intention to open a branch of his hardware store in Timaru and Mr Priest was to be the manager of this new branch.
At the same time, Mr Holdgate was working for Clarkson and Turnbull, owners of another large general store in Timaru.
However, it was a further six years before Messrs Priest and Holdgate got together.  In September 1873, they started off in a partnership with their own hardware business known as Priest and Holdgate.  Their business boomed in the ensuing years, it is said that Priest and Holdgate had become recognised as one of the most important hardware firms outside of the principle cities of New Zealand.
Referred to as ironmongers, as all hardware businesses were in those early days, the firm catered for a large section of the community including, farmers, blacksmiths, carpenters, engineers, as well as the general public.  But their speciality was Agricultural equipment.   Some of their branches, included the world renowned McCormick Reaper and Binder.  As well as other McCormick products, they also sold products by Andrews and Beaven and P and D. Duncan, along with a host of others
One of their agencies was the world famous Stirling bicycle, but their favourite agency was for the Planet Jr. garden tools, they say that these were recommended for all seasons and were a blessing to all who had gardens. .  .  .  .  In other words, they did everything in the garden but plant the seed.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Humble Rural Education

Caroline School Western Southland.  New Zealand

I can just imagine the uproar if today’s kids were expected to be taught school in a building like this these days, 2012.  Yet more than 100 years ago it was considered to be somewhat normal in those outlying districts of New Zealand.  This old school was once located at a small place called Caroline, west of McLeod Road, in an area between Lumsden and Dipton.  From what I can gather, at the outset, this building was actually the original office and storage depot for the New Zealand Agricultural Company.  Closer settlement of Western Southland during the late 1800’s increased the need for a school in the district.  This old commercial building, no longer in use, became a logical choice for the first Caroline School, established in 1891.
Of course, later a new classroom was constructed on the eastern side of McLeod Road.
Native bush and bull rushes, which surrounded the classroom in those early days served as a playground.  However, seepage from the hill behind made the area extremely wet underfoot.  So wet in fact, that at one stage, complaints were laid about the condition of what little bare ground there was around the classroom for the pupils to play.  A small working-bee attempted to put this right by cutting clumps of rushes and laying them across, what was recorded as a sea of mud, along the track and around the building.  
Like so many of those small schools, they weren’t without their difficult times.  In September of 1902 the school closed for over a week due to heavy snowstorm.  Then around 1927 the school was forced to close its doors due to the roll dwindling to only a handful of students.  Those few who did remain, rode the steam train into Lumsden and a much larger school.  By 1933, numbers had again increased, so it was back to school as usual at Caroline.  Then in 1937 fire destroyed the school completely, forcing lessons to be continued at the home of Francis Falconer.  Later, to end the year, lessons were continued at the home of George Musselwhite.  At the beginning of 1938, the Education Board arranged for a school bus service to begin transporting children to Dipton, thus concluding a special piece of Southland history.  
However one must never forget the school committees, a tireless band of workers, as well as some of those colourful individuals.  Stories are often told of meetings where I quote;  ‘the school committee meeting last night was so hot, there was no need of the fire.’  It was often said that coats came off at committee meeting at Caroline.  A meeting without a decent argument or a punch up, or perhaps the threat of one, was deemed to be a very timid meeting indeed.  While these arguments raged, it is a wonder any business was completed at all, perhaps not a venue for the faint hearted.  
Yet the kids who attended that little school at Caroline considered the best school of all.
A little poem I read somewhere seems to be appropriate at this point.  It reads;- 

It’s good to see the school we knew
The land of youth and dreams
To greet again the rule we knew
Before we took the streams
We’ve the old delight of her
We keep her honour yet

The men that tanned the hide of us
Our daily foes and friends
The shall not lose their pride in us
How’er the journey ends
Their voice to us who sing of it

No more this message bears
But round the world shall ring of it
And all who are be theirs
We honour yet the school we knew

Till the last bell call
For working days and holidays
And glad and melancholy days
They were great days and jolly days
At the best school of all.  

Best wishes
Noel Guthrie

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Grandfathers Dream

Grandfathers Dream

Any visitor to the Mackenzie and of course those who turn of Main Highway 8 at Burkes Pass, on to the Rollesby Valley Road, will be surprised at the expanse of open fertile country, stretching down to the Mackenzie Pass and beyond, to where, as history records, was where one of New Zealand’s notorious sheep stealer was allegedly captured. 
However, that is a story for another time.

This little feature is about my grandfather’s dream. 
I had always had a vague idea where my grandfather had originally launched into his ultimate dream of developing a flock of crossbred sheep, suited to the smaller yet more manageable acreage of the Mackenzie Basin, but had never ventured there.
Original Airies Homestead
A copy of a watercolour sketch by Noel Guthrie
Mark, my son took me on a little jaunt up into the area one day, not so long ago, to where my grandparents in the 1800s, built their first homestead in the Mackenzie Country.  There are no formed tracks into the site now of course, but we turned off the Rollesby Valley Road, about half way between Burkes Pass and Mackenzie Pass, and literally headed for the hills, traversing eastward across rolling country between the road and the actual site. 
What a view it turned out to be, from the base of those eastern slopes of Rollesby Valley. Those old pioneers obviously had a few clues as to the most suitable and sheltered position where they could put down roots. 
From this sheltered spot, I could see across the valley, maybe ten kilometres or more and on to an uninterrupted view of those snow capped peaks along the Southern Alps. 
I took some photographs of what is remaining of that original homestead, a couple of stubby concrete foundations, of which I was able to establish the outline of part of my ancestry.  As one becomes a little older, family history seems to have more meaning.  We never had time for that when we were younger, too busy raising our own families I suppose.
Getting back to grandfathers dream though, he had obviously planted a great number of trees to act as shelter along the steep faces behind the house and to the south.  Now of course, having succumbed to the saw miller, those trees are nothing more than rotting pine stumps, which disappear into the middle distance beneath a carpet of shimmering golden high country pasture.
It is over 130 years since my grandfather came to the Mackenzie.  Like a great number of those early settlers into this portion of New Zealand, my grandfather, Robert Guthrie, was a true blue Scot.  He had entered University in Scotland to take up a degree in law.  However, as with that profession, his days were spent indoors and to the detriment of his health.  In an effort to improve his circumstances, he travelled to Canada, but was soon to return.  At that point, he must have decided to travel to New Zealand aboard the sailing vessel ‘Corlic’ in 1876 and put down roots in the Mackenzie. 
One thing in Robert’s favour was that he possessed a strong love of nature and enjoyed the rugged surroundings of the Mackenzie landscape; it so reminded him of his homeland.
So, for almost the next 20 years, his law degree and university education assisted him as he managed a number of high country sheep runs throughout the Mackenzie.
At first he spent four years managing the Wolds Run, which lay between Irishman Creek and Simons Pass, on the western side of the Tekapo River.
For the three years following, he took up management of the Blainslie Run in the Albury district.  It was during this term at Blainslie, that Robert married Catherine.
In 1883, at the request of the Rutherford brothers, John, Robert and Edmund, my grandfather was appointed as manager of the Mistake Station, (now known as Godley Peaks), at the head of Lake Tekapo, where Robert and Catherine spent the next ten years of their life.
It was during their time at the Mistake Station, grandfather had this dream.  He saw the greater possibilities for growth in the Mackenzie.  With the prospect of closer settlement of this regions more accessible country, he became one of the first high countrymen to put his dream into practice. 
In 1893, part of the greater ‘Three Springs Run’, which stretched from the western side of Fairlie to Burkes Pass, the Government subdivided part of this for closer settlement.  Robert and Catherine tendered their interest and were the successful applicants for a block between Burkes Pass and Kimbell, a block they subsequently named Airies.  This name probably originating from Roberts home province, ‘Ayrshire’, back in Scotland.
One year later in 1894, two more blocks came up, namely Single Hill and Knobbies were subdivided off the neighbouring Rollesby Run.  Donald McLeod took both these lots. However, he soon relinquished the Knobbies piece to Robert and Catherine, who incorporated it into the Airies Run and stocked it with around 4000 head of crossbred sheep.  It appears it was the Knobbies block, where Robert and Catherine decided to build.
It was that strong love of nature and of the environment, which Robert became recognized as quite an authority in all branches of the pastoral association, and became a member of the Agricultural and Pastoral Society.
Of course, being a Scot, there was only one recognized form of music, the bagpipes, so I suppose it was natural enough for him to become one of the founding members of the Mackenzie Caledonian Society.
Robert seemed to like becoming involved in community affairs and soon concerned himself with the Burkes Pass School Committee.  Well, of course with 14 kids, he was going to be involved for some time. 
For a period of time, Robert was a member of the Mackenzie County Council, officially known as the Mackenzie Roads Board, at the time when the Offices, was located at Burkes Pass.
Robert and Catherine moved off Airies, selling out to A. G. Alder, and became city dwellers in Timaru shortly before 1920.  However his retirement was short-lived and he passed away within a short time.
Airies passed on to P. P. Hudson during the 1940s, before H.A.Munro took control in 1950, the family retaining title even to this day.
It was during the Munros’ tenancy, that grandfathers first homestead succumbed to the ravages of a violent nor-west gale.  Obviously it had not been occupied for some time, but never the less, it is sad to see part of a family heritage disappear in just a little puff of wind, so to speak.

Thank you for reading my blog, hope you enjoyed it.
Have a nice day.
Noel G

Sunday, 15 April 2012

An Audience with Mr Bean.

There was that old song I heard some time ago, “When I’m sixty five,” or something very similar.  It had a real catchy tune to it, but I’m damned if I can remember that either. Was it the Beatles?
Anyway, that’s not what I’m writing about.  You see, I am just turning 75 and I had to renew my licence (drivers licence) the other day.

Well, off I trot off and obtain the necessary papers, a doctors certificate to herby certify I am sane enough to drive a car, (I couldn’t be worse than a lot of those other mad bastards out there.)  Then I had to present a bill of some kind that tells the authorities who I am supposed to be. I chose the telephone account. As well as a few other bits and pieces.
Armed with all this paraphernalia, I front up to the agencies front desk.  An officious young thing eyes me up and down. 
 “Yes, what can I do for”, she said squinting at me.  I could see the look in her eyes, ‘Oh not another one’!!
I almost said.  “I’m booked in for a vasectomy”, but I changed my mind.  She looked the type to carry it out too, and with just the barest of essentials.
She grabbed the sheaf of papers out of my hand and began reading.  Then she looked at me again, from under her eyebrows, as if to verify the doctors comments were accurate.  She seemed satisfied for she pointed to a little box at the top of the page, “you did not fill that in”. 
“What’s that for”? I say. 
 “It tells me that you have handed me your old licence!! 
God give me strength.  She already had the bloody thing in her hand.  It was at about that point I decided not to ask her out on a date.
Then with nimble fingers she spun the forms around in front of me, “you need to fill this section in”, and she rattled off.  I was busy watching her finger wiz across the page directing me to the correct section, and trying to listen to what she was saying. It was like listening to a machine gun rattling away.  Then out of breath she looked at me and said,  “Now I’m going to get a nice cup of tea before I miss out, and you can fill that in”.  “Oh that’s lovely, mine’s black with one sugar”. She spun around with the grace and crouch of a professional wrestler, “you are not getting one!!” She barked.
My hand shaking uncontrollably I tried to remember what she said about the form.  Thinking I had it right I started filling everything in from my telephone account until my mentor came back. 
 “What!” she glared at me.  That squint was back again.  “What did you do that for”? 
 “I did what you told me”. 
 “I told you to fill in the licence details”, and then she heaved a sigh, as I began to put in the correct details.  “Have you not got all my details in the computer”?   
“Yes”, she replied.  
“So why do I have to fill them in again”? 
 For an answer she folded a receipt, handing it to me, telling me to go to the computer down there and pointed in the general direction.  I made my way down a couple of steps, I had had gout for a couple of days and my foot was blinkin sore.  After staggering down to where she pointed, I sat in front of the computer for my photo.
Then I hear that voice again. “ Mr Guthrie”, then the tapping of her finger on the counter top.   “Over here”!  Hobbling up the steps again.  “Sit”, she commanded. “Look into the camera”.

She smiled then. “All done”.  I bet she was glad to get rid of me. I think I reminded her too much of Mr Bean.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

My Old School

Oh yes, I have very fond memories of this little school at Albury. Actually, I was born in this little hamlet, nestled in the lee of the Brothers Range and on the fringes of the Mackenzie Country, just where the TeNgawai and Opawa rivers meet.
Well before my time however, and sometime around 1880, a little private school, was conducted by Mr Radford.  I have reason to believe his name was William Oldfield Radford.  Now, this little private school, so I am led to believe, was conducted in a spare room at the back of the original Albury Store, where it appears it may well have been located near the early Albury  Hotel, then owned by a chap by the name of McLeod.
This settlement was growing rapidly, what with the railway extension pushing through to Fairlie Creek and beyond.  However, the lack of education facilities was of concern to those town fathers. 
A public meeting was called, most probably in the hotel, on August 18th 1881.
Chaired by John Rutherford, the most prominent figure in the district, this led to the formation of the inaugural school committee and the subsequent establishment of the townships first public school.
Almost immediately, the first sod was turned on land eventually bounded by Duke St, Mt Nessing Rd, Station St, and Queen St. Only then, and under the direction of the Education Board, work began on construction.  By July 1882, work was completed and the one-roomed school was handed over to the School Committee.
Following the establishment of a bank account with the B N Z Bank, the committee advertised for a teacher in the Lyttelton Times, the Otago Daily Times and the Timaru Herald.  John Maddison was selected from several applications and appointed as sole teacher for the salary of 100 pounds.  John began teaching in the new school on September of 1882.
By 1885, the roll had risen to 25 students, although this was to eventually rise much later to close on 150 students.
It was not until the turn of the century that a second classroom was to be added to the first, this time it was with the assistance of a grant by the Education Board.

Being a member of the Albury School Committee in those days appeared to be a rather hazardous occupation, as one Mr E. Richardson found out.
As chairman of the School Committee and in 1893, he called an extra special meeting of the committee to debate an urgent issue: however he failed to attend.  Although he apologized profusely at a later meeting, the meeting was in no mood for compromise, they voted him out of office.

Rural children were definitely at a disadvantage in those early years, particularly if they were to go beyond primary school.  It is also interesting to note that, up until the early 1900s, and because of financial constraints, secondary schooling was not available to Albury students, and most likely not available to a number of other districts.  Unless of course a student won a scholarship, to either attend Timaru Girls or Boys High School respectively.
Around 1904, some bright individual claimed to have struck gold in the hills around Mt Nessing, several miles west of the township.  Such was the hullabaloo that the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Richard Seddon, or ‘King Dick’ as he was affectionately known, made a visit to the Albury School arriving by train, and immediately declaring a school holiday. 
No doubt Seddon had visions of all the tax the Government was going to collect from this gold strike. During his visit to Albury, he took a drive in a horse and trap to Mt Nessing, where he was going to visit this new goldmine.  Incidentally, this project was never going to amount to anything, it turned out to be ‘fools gold’, nothing more than a good strike of mineral silicate, worth absolutely nothing at that time, now however, it could have been a much different story.
Never mind, the kids all made a great picnic out of a disappointing day for the adults.   Prime Minister and all made the return journey to Albury aboard a large trailer drawn by a traction engine, although the kids loved it, I’m not sure it was the same for all those red faces from that stuff up on the most grandest of scales.  The legacy of that little venture, Albury has never seen a Prime Minister since that fateful day.

Oh how I remember that little school, it seems a million years ago.  The single drinking fountain fed from the steel tank behind the school, which froze solid in the winter. Prior to my day it was fed from the windmill in the school grounds, and before that, it was carted via horse and dray from the Opawa stream.
Of course the arrival of electricity during the 1920s, that was a novel occasion so they say.  At the time, students, with the aid of Mr Adams radio, were allowed to follow the course of Kingsford Smiths record-breaking flight across the Tasman.
With the introduction of bottled milk into schools, senior students carried several crates of milk in a special cart from the railway station every morning.  By the time we got to have a compulsory drink, there was an inch of thick sour cream on the top. Yuk.

So many delightful memories from my first week, as a gangly five year old, with my new leather school bag over my shoulder, packed with a ploughman’s lunch and wearing my shiny new boots.
Years later of course I recall the chalk that whistled past one’s ear if not paying attention to the teacher, or the edge of the ruler across the knuckles for talking. 
The towering conifer beside the classroom window, where we played each day, and the vegetable garden we tended each week, most likely to escape class.  The dusty trek to the TeNgawai River, during the height of summer, where we went for a swim.
Those other pranks that boy’s get up to, seeing who could pee through the latticework above the urinal.  Sammy Barrett and Donald Collins were the only two with high enough pressure that I knew of.
I must not forget the auditions to the school concert, and of the one year that the voice of a songbird was required for a special part.  Each boy must sing a song, any song, without being unaccompanied by music.  Now, I had a voice like a rusty nail, without the benefit of a single musical beat in my entire body, I knew class were in for a treat.  My plea’s to be excused fell on deaf ears; well they thought they were deaf until they heard me in action.  Denis O’Sullivan could sing like a lark, it sounded pretty good to me, so I thought I would have a go at that song, without even knowing the words.  When my turn came, George Robertson, the Headmaster stood with his arms folded and a smile on his face, I soon wiped that off.  I had just pumped up my lungs and let forth half a dozen notes when dear old George clapped his hands over his ears in horror and roared, “for goodness sake, go and sit down boy!”

Ahh yes, those were the days?  But life must go on, during the 1970s, my old classroom was demolished to make way for the new.  To me, that new classroom is not a patch on the old, what with its drafty windows, the oiled floors and the high smoke stained ceilings.  Not forgetting the water that froze each winter, that’s what is known, as character isn’t it.
Now just to finish.  “It sometimes hurts to remember the days that have gone beyond recall, when times and people have passed forever, drifting on the tides of time.  But let us be glad, and enjoy the glow of those many special memories.”

Have a nice day.

Noel G

Friday, 6 April 2012

Back from the wilderness

Hello again.  Yes I know, I have been a bit slack for the last few months and not posted any blogs to my site.  I have just written on behalf of the Mackenzie Highland Pipe Band, the history of the band from its inception in 1912, up until this year 2012, so it has taken up a lot of my time.  Included in this publication is a profile of every member who played in the band between these dates.  That equates to around 220 known members.  
Three hundred and thirty pages long and 270mm x 190mm in size, and more than 200 photographs, this is not your usual documentation of historic events. Throughout this publication, the text is sprinkled with a verve that is laced with copious amounts of humour, reminiscent of those country bands of old.
In writing this, I have felt quite privileged to be part of a great team, who worked for many months to put this publication together.
For those readers of my blog outside of  the area and New Zealand, they may not even be aware of the existence of the Mackenzie Highland Pipe Band.  In actual fact, the Band is stationed in Fairlie, which is the gateway to the Mackenzie. 
Let me give you a geography lesson on the location of Fairlie, a sleepy little hollow on the edge of a vast but picturesque region, The Mackenzie Country, World renown for its lakes and its snow-covered mountains.
This book, A Century in the Making, is being launched at the Mackenzie A&P Show on Easter Monday, 9th of April 2012.  While copies may not be available though the retailer, they will however, be available to the general public by contacting the Band Secretary, Graham Parcell.  ggparcell@xtra.co.nz
To those past members who seek one of these books, I am sure you will get a kick out of a jolly good read.
My heart felt thanks to those members who spent a lot of time gathering information over several months, when you see them again, give them a pat on the back.
They are Heather Fifield, John Campbell, Eric Jones, Graham Parcell, and the grandfather, Colin McKinnon.

Kind regards

Noel Guthrie.