A Noel Guthrie Acrylic on canvas

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

Monday, 8 December 2014

Pukaki Police Station

Pukaki Police Station  1947

 

Reminiscent of an Isolation Ward


 

This Police Station at Lake Pukaki was established soon after the hydro works were established in the Mackenzie Basin.  Considered to be in the ‘wop wops’ at that time, it is perhaps understandable that no constable, in his or her right mind, would ever consider volunteering for this sole charge position. 

 

However, young Constable E. G. [Ted] Trappitt, a relatively newcomer to the force, seems to have had the most compelling of desires to volunteer for this new challenge. 

It was the frosty stare of his Timaru superior and the silent command of ‘go or else’ that convinced young Ted he should volunteer.  So he went.

 

One sunny day, in November 1947, loaded to the gunnels with all his possessions, including a rather elderly police issue bicycle, Ted made his way to his new post at Lake Pukaki.   All aspirations of working in the CIB, along with further university study seemed to dissipate in a cloud of smoke.

 

Ted’s humble home and Station Office was two single men’s army huts complete with malthoid roofing, joined at the front by a small verandah and a long drop out back.   All came courtesy of the Public Works Dept.

Located on a small fenced in section about 100 metres from the hydro works village at Pukaki, Ted considered it reminiscent of an isolation ward.

Buses, loaded with tourists headed for Mt Cook constantly stopped in front of the station. They stood in awe at the sight before them; however, this never fazed young Ted, one bit.

Some described Constable Trappitt, tall with a ruddy complexion and a mop of auburn hair, as quite an imposing figure and liked by all who knew him.

 

His area of responsibility covered well over 7000 square kilometers.  In addition to his own patch, he covered the hydro village at Tekapo, as well as the tourist resort at the Hermitage, Mt Cook. 

It was about this time that it dawned on Ted, his trusty yet well worn police issue bike was absolutely useless in this locality, so, for 325 quid, he outfitted himself with a modern 1938 Morris 8 sedan, ---- no ‘souped up’ four wheel drive with flashing lights and radar for Ted.

With tires half inflated, thus avoiding self-destruction through the potholes of those country roads, that mighty Morris traveled the highways and the byways of the vast Mackenzie.

 

Drunkenness, fighting and disorderly behavior, were difficult to control in those tough public works camps, ____ that is, until Ted hit on the idea of issuing a summons to all those offenders. 

Each and every one was expected to front up to the Courthouse in Fairlie, almost 100 kilometers away.

Some say this was no bloody joke, to find a cheerful young cop by the nickname of ‘Red,’ appear the next morning waving a summons in your face, especially when you have blockbuster of a headache, nursing a humdinger of a hangover and a black eye.

 

During those hectic, yet colourful days, while Ted Trappitt was constable at Pukaki, a poster went up on the wall of the public bar of the local hotel with the affectionate words inscribed, “If you see Red, -- go home”.

 

My sketch seeks to rekindle some of those delightful memories.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Mona Vale School

Delightful School Building is still used for many District Functions
1996
 
This delightful little school still stands at Mona Vale, a locality west of the Main Highway between the townships of Cave and Albury.  Its construction was initiated during the early part of the twentieth century by a group of residents living in and around the Ma Waro district and led by William Tasman Smith.
It appears that the name Mona Vale came about when William’s father, A. B. Smith purchased about 1200 hectares of land from the Rhodes family, who at that stage owned Levels Estate.
Although born in Scotland, William Smith had spent some time in Tasmania prior to arriving in New Zealand and was familiar with a famous property in Tasmania called Mona Vale.  I guess he like the name considered this name was as good as any for a new school.
It is reported that on February 13. 1912.  Education Board Representatives held a meeting with householders in the Ma Waro district.  It was resolved that a new school be built on what is now Mona Vale Road, adjacent to Coal Creek and suitable of accommodating 30 children.
William, or as he was more commonly known, Tasman Smith, stated at that meeting, if the school could be built of limestone, he would donate all the stone required to the school from his own property.
 
April 30th. 1912, tenders for the erection of a school were received. 
 
Tenders for the stonework were received from;
John Finn. __One hundred and fifty five pound
Harding and Roy. __One hundred and seventy two pounds, nineteen shillings 
 
A plumbing tender was received from;
A. Cooper. __Eleven pound, eight shillings
Croxford and Co. __Thirteen pound, thirteen shillings
Joinery tenders came from;
Hadley and Clough. __Fourteen pound, eight shillings
Shillito Bros. __Twenty three pound, eighteen shillings and six pence
Jacksons Ltd. __Twenty four pounds, seventeen shillings
J. Murdock. __Twenty five pounds
Westland Timber Co. __Thirty five pound, four shillings and nine pence
 
John Finn won the contract for stonework on this new school and under his direction construction began within a few weeks.
I am led to believe, John lived only a few miles away, down by the Te Ngawai River.  Yet for the duration of the contract it is recorded he obtained board and lodgings near the site, with Mr and Mrs Hogg.
John was actually born in Blencowe, Cumbria in 1872.   His father owned a quarry there and John is said to have learnt all the tricks of the trade from his father while working in the two districts of Greystoke and Blencowe.  He is said to have married Christina and they settled down in Northumberland for a few years, prior to taking a passage to New Zealand, where they landed on January the first 1908.
One can easily see from his work on the school, even after all those years, John Finn was a perfectionist.  He dictated the quality of stone to be used coming from Tasman Smith’s quarry, about two miles further up the valley.  Each teamster, in charge of a Clydesdale horse and a tip dray, carted the raw limestone down a rough shingle track to the site.
Harry Blisset, an old identity of the district, was one of those teamsters on the site; he must have been in his early twenties at that stage.   I knew Harry when he was getting on in years, living in Pleasant Point with his wife on Te Ngawai Road. 
 
February 1st 1913 was a very special occasion in the Ma Waro district; the new Mona Vale School was ready for occupation.
Twenty children arrived at the gate that first morning, ready for their first lesson under the guidance of Miss Vida Sutherland.  Vida was employed in the interim, until a permanent teacher was available.  On May 13, applications were received from prospective teachers to fill a full time position at Mona Vale.  Mrs Culprit, Misses McClellan, Bailey and Scannell all applied.  However, it was Miss Scannell who was appointed.   Miss Anderson acted as headmistress, until Miss Scannell arrived.
 
By 1920 the School had increased to twenty seven pupils, teacher in charge at the time was Miss Florence Tizard.   She boarded Monday to Friday, with a parent nearby.  At the end of each school week she would walk the several miles to the Ma Waro railway station where she caught the Friday evening train to Timaru for the weekend, returning on Monday morning.
Some Children attending school during those early days were lucky enough to have a pony to ride, yet many others had to make do with a good old Shanks’s pony (walk).
 
Many a school day during the summer was spent in the spring fed swimming pool up the valley.  Pupils continued their lessons in the shade of the trees, as well as being taught to swim.  Some of the highlights throughout each year were the school concert, the annual pet parade and a trip to the Albury Flower show.  Of course some of the most exciting times were to be had at the nearby Coal Creek, here the kids could tickle a trout, try their hand at bird nesting or spear an eel with dads garden fork.
 
Sadly though, with the declining roll in the early 1940’s, the school faced a very uncertain future.   Then at the end of term 1944, with the school roll of just five pupils, the Education Board closed the Mona Vale School, consolidating it with Albury.
When I was last by there several years ago, the building was well maintained, obviously by a dedicated community for regular community functions.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

True Dinkum Miss!


An excerpt from my book, Love, Lies and Laughter
From the story, Leonard (Lenny) Baxley Haskell and his time at the Crickleburn School

Mondays and Fridays, those were the usual days for morning talks, particularly for those kids in year five and six.  I suppose it was a sort of a carry over from when they were in the Infant class.  In their morning talk they could speak about anything they liked, and as Crickleburn was in the midst of a farming community, and most kids were off farms, it was normally about things to do with Mum or Dad, or perhaps the animals on the farm. 
The older kids could join in, if the teacher was good-natured.  In this particular case, it was Miss Winter, and she had a real sense of humour, although a bit squeamish, at the same time.
Well now, little Nicola Wentworth, in year five, she’d just moved with the family into a place on Baxter Road, she had only started at Crickleburn a few weeks before, and this was her first morning talk.  She told the class that one of her father’s sheep dogs had worms, and her father took it to the vet, and the vet gave it some medicine.  Then she went on with great excitement, to tell the class that the dog passed a worm so big.  Indicating the size of the worm, by holding her thumb and forefinger, about and inch apart.  Miss Winter, she screwed up her face in horror. 
“Thank you Nicola,” she said, holding her hand over her mouth, and sort of gulping, as if she was going to throw up. 
“That was very interesting.  You may sit down now, Nicola.  Anyone else?” 
Tony Farthing, in year six shoved his hand up. 
“Please Miss, my father took old Jess, she’s a bitch, to the vet, and the vet he gave her some medicine, and she passed a worm this long.”  Holding his hands about six inches apart, indicating the size of the worm.  Miss Winter, a girl from the big city, was still coming to grips with these farming terms.  We could see she wasn’t very sure about Jess, or why she was called a bitch.  She was also seemed a bit suspicious about the size of the worm.  However, she just smiled, like she’d bitten into a sour lemon. 
Just as she was about to tell Tony not to use that sort of language in class, Lenny Haskell stuck his hand up? 
Lenny, in year nine, was a real hard case, always in trouble; even if it wasn’t his fault, the teacher seemed to pick on him for no reason.  Of course there were some things that Lenny did that were a bit dubious from time to time.  Like the time he had an argument with one of the other kids, so he plastered a bit of clear glue on the kids seat.  Ripped the arse clean out of the kid’s trousers it did.  Yeah, we all thought that was fun, until old mother Breen came to the school and gave the teacher a right old bollocking, because of the incident.  Teacher never did get to the bottom of that. (No pun intended)
Anyway, from the back of the classroom, Lenny was waving his arm around, like a flag in the Easter Parade. 
“Please Miss.” 
“Yes Lenny,” Miss Winter sighed.  “What have you got?”
“Oh Miss, my uncle’s old dog had worms, but he didn’t take it to the vet.” 
He paused, with just the hint of a smile on his face.  Miss Winter fell for it; hook line and sinker.  She let the silence linger on for a bit, till she couldn’t stand the suspense any longer.
“Well Lenny, get on with it.  What did your uncle do for the dog?”
“Aw, Miss, he just wiped some turps on the old dogs bottom, Miss, and the dog passed a Ford Ceria, two BMW’s and a joker on a racehorse.”
Us older fella’s in the room, we hid our faces behind our hands and had a bit of a giggle.
“Oh, Lenny,” said Miss Winter.  “How could you?  That’s not true; you just made that up, didn’t you?”
“True dinkum, Miss,” he said, with a face as straight as a four by two. 
Flustered, Miss Winter turned away, putting her hands to her face, us older fella’s could see she was smiling at Lenny’s story.  “Please sit down Lenny, thank you.”


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Monday, 19 May 2014

A Special Place in my Heart





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

Kimbell Ladies Hockey Team





 My sketch of the old Kimbell pub about 1992
However, it was originally established during the 1800's






According to history, Kimbell was first settled as 'Silverstream'.
The were three separate springs above the western entrance to the township, all discharging a stream of clear water.  This was later channeled into a little creek west of the village, and the village was called Silverstream.
Later it was found there was some confusion with another village in Otago sporting the same name.  To overcome this, the locals took it upon themselves to change the name from Silverstream to Kimbell, in honour and respect of Fredrick Kimbell, who first established this part of the Mackenzie Basin.
As to whether Kimbell ever had a ladies hockey team, your guess is as good as mine. 
Written by Ernie Slow, around the 1950's, at a time when the total population of this little village would have barely reached 90 inhabitants.  All characters in this poem actually existed and were Kimbell residents at one time or another, it was just Ernie's sense of humour and his way of telling the reader his little story.  After all, he was quite a regular character  around the bar of the Kimbell pub.



 Now, Kimbell is a quiet place
With its store and school and pub
So they liven up proceedings with a ladies hockey club
No greater show had this town seen
As the they assembled on the village green

Now some of them are rather slim
While others they are stout
But they do get moving
You can hear the critics shout

Miss Adcock is a corker
She's wondrous, fast and clean
She here and there and everywhere
Where others should have been

Now Mrs Ross, she takes the eye
Although she's out of form
But when she's in condition
She's fast as any storm

Another lady past her prime
Her name is Mrs Scott
Now if she gets but half a chance
She's bound to have a shot

Mrs Howie takes her place
Behind all those in front
But alas she cannot stop the ball
For they're seldom in the hunt

The Burgess's from the other side
They couldn't stand the strain
But next season you'll see them
For they're bound to come again

The roll call found Mrs Erickson
A classy player this
Stopping all the good shots
The best players sometimes miss

Mrs White she hacked along
She was trained right to the tick
But alas her eye last Thursday
Was as crooked as her stick

 Now who's this young player?
Who offers them no quarter
Miss Manson couldn't come
So she sent along her daughter

Margaret Pipson young and sweet
Her play was really fine
She'd make the old ones spiteful
When streaking down the line

Miss Cadenhead was there of course
She couldn't stop away
For hockey is her hobby
And she'll see another day

Miss Ayson plays a lovely game
A lesson for the rest
For all the Kimbell ladies
I vote this player best

And so the game plays gamely on
It's luck is never in
But this is what you'll surely see
When they secure a win

The cheering will be deafening
As they echo around the land
As the farmers gape with wonder
Its good times now at hand

Fred Clarkson danced a highland fling
Upon the kitchen floor
He made the roof and rafters ring
As they'd never rung before

The cat run up the nearest tree
The dogs in a single bound
Scattered all the farmers sheep
For miles and miles around

Jock Ireland up the distant bank
Gazed down upon the scene
Shouting Libby, Libby, tell me dear
What ever does it mean?

It brings back distant memories
Of land so far away
Where the ladies play real hockey
Is that where you learn 't to play

Buck Nelson from the distant hills
Raced madly down the road
His flourbag whiskers flowing wide
As around the field he strode

I thought it was my heifer
A bellowing in pain
Tis only victors cheering
And the wailing of the slain

Jimmie Annan couldn't work again
When the news to him did leak
So he promptly turned a somersault
And fell into the creek

Charlie Howie pumped the beer so fast
It nearly caused a tragedy
When Bob Shute in an empty cask
Went floating out to sea

But whether its believed or not
A vision around me float
Hughie Waters went to work
Without an overcoat

So ladies do your best
If you do secure a win
Just think of all the merriment
You'll plunge old Kimbell in

.................................................









Saturday, 12 April 2014

Gone but not forgotten


                                                       Gone but not Forgotten


Many years ago I was fortunate to spend a few days over a Christmas break with members of our family, who lived in Eastern Southland, namely, Wyndham. 
About eight kilometres south of this modest farming community, the once busy hamlet of Glenham lay in a shallow sun soaked valley.  A place we later returned to live for five short years, and a place our family learned to love with all our heart.
Here I sketched an old country store, still standing at the time and a short distance from our home.  This store played an important role in the development of a once thriving township.  As well as being a general store, there was a space at the western end of a long veranda, where a butcher once practiced his trade.
The store, so I believe, was erected by D.C.McKenzie, a local building contractor I 1908.
Only a short distance to the east, a small red brick Presbyterian Church remained and drew a small, but faithful congregation regularly each month.  These two structures, apart from the existence of two or three homes, are the only visible signs that a prosperous village ever existed in this delightful valley.
It is hard to believe now, but Glenham became the terminus for the Edendale to Glenham railway line.  Of course originally, that line had been planned to extend much further into the countryside.  However, improvements to roading and the development of more modern transport, proved to be the beginning of the end, for this extension.
A dairy factory, so I am told, stood about one hundred metres to the south of the old store, while a telephone exchange was conducted from the home of a railway ganger and his family.  Of course the public hall, the school and railway station, were but a few of those amenities that made up this once blossoming frontier township.

As I flew past this old store in my humble VW, on my way to work in Invercargill each morning, it never ceased to fascinate me.   Always meaning to stop and sketch it one day, I never seemed to get a round to it. 
However, given an opportunity one weekend to wander through the old place, I decided to sketch it, there and then. 
Apart from some of the interior being used for storage
much of the old shelving and wooden counters were still in place.  Some of the less popular products though, they still sat where they had been left many years before.
Memories of a by gone era flashed before me as I wandered about.  Images of a storekeeper in my old village flashed before me.  With a tin scoop, he measured an order of sugar from a Hessian bag behind the counter.  A roll of cured bacon, draped in mutton cloth and hanging from the ceiling, waiting to be taken down and sliced as you waited.
Boxes of dried fruit, raisins, sultanas, apricots, dragged out from behind the counter where the storekeeper used to dig out an order from a wooden box with a sturdy tin scoop.  Now, that was not yesterday.

Mr A. C. Bulling took over this general store and butchers shop on February 1st, 1930, however, after sixteen years, it appears he retired and his two sons Frank and Morrie succeeded him on August 1st 1946. 
They traded as F and M Bulling, expanding the business by making home deliveries as far away as Fortrose on the southern seacoast, as well as home deliveries to Waimahaka, Gorge Road, Titiroa, Te Peka, and Pine Bush. 
Unfortunately, a migration of the southern rural population to the north, or to the cities, saw trade fall away, forcing the closure of F and M Bulling in 1972.  Once more, national statistics could chalk up yet another vanishing village to their mounting catalogue. 


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Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Fair Dinkum


Fair Dinkum
This story is true, fair dinkum.

It was during the early 1970’s, about the time Lake Benmore was formed in the Mackenzie Country.  Our family went to the northern end of the Lake Benmore for our annual holidays every year at a section they call Haldon Arm. 
We had a boat and a caravan in those days and went there to enjoy ourselves.  At that time, the camping area was new and formed by the Ministry of Works, as part of the lake development.   The only building in sight was a typical country dunny, about four feet square, with a bit of a wing in front of a rustic door, for a little privacy.
 Some volunteers to the camp had done the job of erecting this ‘Heath Robinson’ contraption over top of a large hole in the ground, again dug by a few volunteers.  It had been built with a few sticks of second hand timber and rusty second hand corrugated iron.  The seat was one where you never wanted to linger for too long.
Today of course, there are all mod cons abound and every man and his dog gravitates to Haldon Arm at Christmas and New Year, many of them with sole aim in life, to get pissed out of their skull.

In our day, and for several years, I could count the number of families on the fingers of both hands, who spent their holidays at Haldon and we all knew each other.
One man in particular, who was a regular visitor and a keen fisherman, was Dick Holland from Pleasant Point. A really great chap, a friend to all.  He was the grandfather of Michael Holland, the T.V. One interviewer we see on screen quite often.
Well anyway, after about three years, the hole where we all made a pit stop at least once a day was beginning to pong in the hot weather, and the pile was getting higher.
According to old Dick, he was a great whistler by the way; he only had one note of course, but he was still a great whistler.  But lets continue, Dick thought it was time for a clean out of the dung heap, so bring on the half gallon can of petrol, that was a sure way to heat things up, according to the whistler.
Without mentioning his harebrained scheme to anyone in particular Dick trundles away down to the dunny located behind a willow tree in the distance.
The door was closed so he knocked lightly to satisfy himself that nobody was going to come out with a half-baked bottom.
Dick removed the cap from his petrol can and poured a liberal amount of flammable liquid down the hole.  Quickly he replaced the cap and placed the can outside away from the building.  Rushing back in he struck a match, dropping it through the seat aperture.  The petrol fumes had just enough time to rise steadily toward the seat when the match hit.
That’s when the campers all looked up in unison and shielded their eyes from the suns glare. 
There was Dick, taking a few hasty, but awkward steps in retreat midst a cloud of smoke.  His hat had gone; and the dunny roof was just steadying itself for its return plunge back to earth. 
Shit! I heard one of the neighbours exclaim, as a wind gust from the blast ruffled his hair.
It was several days before we heard that familiar whistle once more.  The dunny had its roof, although panel beaten to some extent, returned, and the door, minus a few nails and a board, was as good as new, even though the hinges were twisted somewhat.
I’m sure there is a moral this story somewhere, I’m not sure where, but someone is bound to come up with one?


Perhaps next time I will tell you about when Helen got her bikini hooked on a nail on the wharf just as she was about to take off for a round of water skiing


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Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Sherry Lovin Granny



Sherry Lovin’ Granny


Jan’s mother was staying over for a few months.  She had moved out from Holland several years ago, after Jan’s dad died.  Until a recent devastating earthquake, she was living in a Rest Home, not far from her daughter and son-in-law.
She enjoyed being near her daughter, but also enjoyed the camaraderie and the social side of Rest Home life, particularly her regular afternoon tipple with friends.

Frank found his mother-in-law demanding.  He tried very hard to make allowances; she was into her eighties after all.  Try as he may, his mother-in-law still got under his skin with her constant critical remarks. 
Much to Jan’s annoyance, he began to visit the local pub, a little more than usual.  Once his mates down at the pub found out where the mother-in-law came from, they were not in the least bit helpful.  They came up with ideas, such as; send her back to Holland as deck cargo on a submarine.  While Frank considered their suggestions hilarious, he dare not mention anything of the sort back home.

On Saturday a rugby match was being played down at the local park.  Frank said he would go to the pub for a while after the game, and that he would be back by teatime. 
Out of mothers hearing, Jan asked him if he would mind getting her mother another bottle of sherry while he was there, she had polished off the last one they kept in the pantry.
Frank gave his wife a peck on the cheek after agreeing to her request, however, come home time, he almost forgot. 
“Last round for me guys,” he said swallowing the last mouthful of beer.  “Oh, I almost forgot, must get a bottle of sherry for the old battle-axe, before I go home.”
“Drinks sherry, does she?”  Bert, smiled at his mate.
“Yeah, loves the bloody stuff.  Jan has got to hide the bottle away somewhere, or she’ll scoff the lot.”
“What does she like most?”
“I don’t know, don’t care either.  Thought I would get her a light pale sherry, the cheapest I could find.”
“Look.”  Bert looked at him with devious smile.  “Tell you what mate, you get her that brand.”  He pointed to a bottle on the shelf behind the bar.  “I can guarantee she’ll enjoy that.”
            “Anything for a bit of peace,” quipped Frank, pulling out his wallet.

It was several days before Frank and his mates got together again at the bar.  “How did the sherry go Frank?”  Enquired Bert.
“Funny thing happened there, y’no.”  Frank shook his head.  “After tea that night, she found the bottle in the pantry.  Whipped the top off and took a swig.  You should have seen the smile.  “Blow the wax out of your ears, that stuff,” she said, fanning her breath, and grinning like a Cheshire cat.
“On the Sunday night,” he continued.  We woke up to all this noise downstairs.  Old biddy had found where Jan had hidden the sherry.  At two o’clock in the morning she had a Blues Brothers C.D. blasting full bore, and she was break dancing in the middle of the lounge, completely naked, except for a pair of her favourite fluffy slippers.”
“Now, would you believe it,” Frank laughed?  “I have to get my flamin eyes tested!” 
Frank cupped his hands to his mouth as if he thought someone might be listening. 
“Hey, you fella’s don’t know when the next submarine’s due in port do you?”

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Autumn on the Kimbell Road


 From a page out of my book,  Ballad of Ernie Slow



I would like to begin with a piece by Alistair Mackintosh.  Alistair owned Cloudy Peaks Station at one time, just on the outskirts of Kimbell.  Away back in 1942, he wrote his reflections of Kimbell. 
Much of Ernie’s escapades were captured around   Silverstream, (Kimbell) and surrounding neighbourhood, in view of this, I considered this piece fitting to set the scene for us to begin our journey down memory lane.   
Three Springs is the name of a spring where a flow of water bubbles continuously to serve the needs of the district. 
Poplars, willows and oaks line a carriageway, where Mother Nature gently strokes her canvas, merging those first soft blushes of autumn.

Autumn on the Kimbell Road



            Oh, autumn  on the Kimbell Road, when brightly breaks the dawn
Whilst mists of morning melt away, and dewdrops cling to corn
And deck the jewels the spider webs that glint on the golden gorse
The gorse that guards the Silverstream, along it gentle course

The Silverstream that gurgles forth, where crystal Three Springs play
By shady trees on fragrant banks, it winds its careless way
By fragrant banks where musk and mint, and white flowered dark green cresses
Are playing with, and mingling with, the waterweed’s soft tresses?


Oh, autumn on the Kimbell Road, beneath the drowsing sun
The haystacks o’er the rolling downs, when harvest day is done
The mellow shades of Silver leaves, the Poplars blazing gold 
The fiery flames of Rowan trees, are glories, God’s untold

Oh, autumn on the Kimbell Road, when evenings peace comes down
The older gold of Ashwick oaks now fades to colder brown
The blue haze creeps o’er the Dobson crest, beyond the waterfall
The west wind dies on Woodburn Spurs, and night is over all

The mystic night of still moonlight, when wild swans Westward fly
And rolling round the Razor Back, the sheep come drifting by
Come drifting by, when ghostly men, from older days of yore;
Are riding up the Kimbell Road, to herd their sheep once more.


Enjoy.