A Noel Guthrie Acrylic on canvas

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

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Nell's walk in Esk Valley

Nell’s Walk in Esk Valley

St Mary’s Church at Esk Valley is I believe, the fruits of a dream Ellen Meyer had during the 1870’s.
It was however, a sight she would never ever see.
Her husband, Charles Meyer, who at that time owned Blue Cliffs Station, used to walk with Ellen in the evenings, down the ridge they used to call ‘Nell’s Walk’, high above the valley floor.
Ellen Meyer would look down that valley toward the sea and remark, “It's so beautiful here, I hope someday to look down this valley and see a little church, just as I would back home in England.”

Unable to bear children, Ellen seized the opportunity of an operation which offered some hope that she and Charles, twenty years her senior, would become parents.
Although the operation was reported to have been successful, Ellen had a relapse and died in January 1878, at the age of twenty-six.
Devastated, Charles relinquished ownership of Blue Cliffs Station and prepared to leave for England.
Before departing, however, he gave his attorney instructions to put aside one thousand pounds of his estate and build a little church to his wife’s memory.
The position he chose was in the valley Ellen Meyer loved so much and within sight of the Blue Cliffs Homestead.  After experiencing some difficulties, the builders completed the church in1880.
Architecturally by B.W. Mountford of Christchurch, this small church was built of limestone, which is said to have been delivered by horse and dray from a quarry located in the Albury district.
It was later consecrated in May of that year by Bishop Harper.

Another of Charles Meyer’s bequests was a six thousand pound grant, from which interest payments were to pay the stipend of a vicar for the district of Blue Cliffs.
They say the first vicar to preach in St Mary’s, was the Reverend Laurence Carsley Brady, who came recommended by Bishop Harper.  Rev Brady had apparently served in the Auckland Diocese before his appointment to the south.
At thirty-five years of age and unmarried, he was described as very active.  A native of Ireland I believe, he was an excellent horseman and the lack of roads in the area did not bother him at all.
Blue Cliff’s District, later to become known as Otaio-Blue Cliffs, at that time extended from the Pareora River to Hook and from the Hunter Hills to the sea.

The late Mrs Woodhouse, told of how for several years there was no one to play the organ at St Mary’s, “I’m no musician” she said, “but I’ll take up the challenge.”
Practising on a small selection of tunes, “I struggled through.”  She said,  “I had a pact with the vicar though when he lowered his hymn book, I knew there was one more verse to play.  However, for some reason should communications break down” she continued, “the sympathetic congregation could be relied upon to join in the customary, ‘Amen’ or else suffer the agony of singing the final verse a second time?”

As far as I can gather, a Bible belonging to Charles Meyer is still used at services held in St Mary’s, even today, but only on very special occasions.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Russian Jack

Russian Jack

Along New Zealand country roads during the late 1800s and early 1900s, the swagger was a familiar sight.  Forced into a life on the road by circumstances beyond his control, however, many enjoyed a freedom that their vocation bought.  Some genuinely looked for work on farms and so on.  Most were grateful for the offer of work, in exchange for a bed in a farmer’s shed or stables, plus a scrumptious meal.   
Tramps or swaggers, during those lean years, were an important part of farm life, particularly during the harvesting season through summer and into autumn.  During those early days of the horse and dray era, this wandering workforce could be relied on to turn up during those busy periods.  A dry bed and a meal in exchange for some manual labour, the swagman and the cocky were usually well satisfied.

In 1912, a British ship by the name of ‘Star of Canada’ was plying New Zealand waters, when, caught in a southerly storm, and was wrecked off the Gisborne coast. 
One survivor of that disaster was a man by the name of Barrett Crumen, who has been fondly remembered as ‘Russian Jack.’
Born in Latvia during1878, in the small village of Alexandra, he joined the merchant marine in 1912 at the age of 24.

After his near death adventure, he spent some time in New Zealand waters working on small coastal ships, before he is said to have set off on a trek to Wellington, however, he never made it.  The reason ___ he became addicted.  Addicted to the open spaces around Manawatu and Wairarapa, where at Awhea Station, he rested awhile, before being offered work as a scrub cutter and a shed hand, remaining there for a good number of years. 
They say he was well known for his impressive appetite and his keenness for tobacco, along with his most prized possession, an old briar pipe. 

During the winter months on the road, he was known to have stuffed paper inside his clothes in an effort to keep warm and is said to have plugged his ears with wads of brown paper soaked in mutton fat, which was believed to have been a deterrent against bugs.  
I can’t imagine it, but he is known to have rubbed mutton fat onto his chest, believing it would ward off infection or whatever ailed him at the time.  Hell’s teeth, he must have smelt a trifle high, like a dead sheep, after a while.
Those were tough times, sleeping under bridges, in culverts or under the shelter of tree branches for shelter. He is said to have carried the largest swag of any of those gents on the road.
Russian Jack is believed to have spent close to 53 years on the road.  He would have gone on forever if he had had his way, but his feet let him down.  In 1965, he was admitted to the Pahiatua Hospital suffering from frostbitten feet.  Although it was not long before he was admitted to the Greytown Hospital for the final time, he passed away in September 1968, aged 90 years.
I believe he is buried in the Greytown Cemetery.  His internment was all paid for with funds from a pension he had never ever claimed.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Tom Thumb


A 1934 Hudson Terraplane Coupe

The year was about 1953 when I was two or three years into my apprenticeship as a carpenter.   The firm I worked for at the time was engaged by an Ashwick district farmer, to add a couple of rooms onto his family home.
We had completed work on the exterior and had just moved into finishing off the interior, when the painter arrived early one morning, in his old 1934 Hudson Terraplane Coupe.   At some stage, he had removed the door to the large boot of this car.  Fitting a wooden tray, he had transformed the vehicle into a little truck, where he could carry all his tools and other paraphernalia, needed for his trade. 
            Not the most organised of tradesmen; always in a hurry, yet never getting very far.   Most of one thumb was missing from his left hand, an accident sometime during his past I assume.  Some hard cases in the district had given him the nickname, (Tom Thumb), behind his back of course, yet, it was a name that seemed to stick.      
            His speciality was spray painting roofs and anything else to do with the exterior of rural buildings.  The contract on this job was to paint the roof only. 
            In those days he carried an air-compressor, fixed to the tray of his little truck and driven by a small petrol motor.  Numerous long air hoses and God knows what else seemed to be attached.  It may have been a pretty antiquated piece of machinery, compared to the modern paint spraying apparatus today, but it worked a treat.  Of course, it too was covered in paint, all colours of the rainbow; overspray from some other jobs, how he ever got so much paint spread around, beggar’s belief.  His overalls were just the same; stiff with thick layers of old paint.  After work, I could just imagine them standing upright, unsupported in the corner, until required next morning.
            Anyway, the house we were working on was a typical farm style home with a pitched roof.  A typical lean-to style veranda ran part way along the front side of the building.  Concrete entrance steps led from a well-groomed pebble driveway, up to the veranda.  Either side of those steps, a matched pair of beautifully shaped specimen Yew trees grew, rising to about one metre above the roof line.

            The day turned out sunny.  By midmorning, our painter had stirred his five-gallon drum of bright red paint, hauled it up the long ladder, along with his air hoses onto the veranda corrugated iron roof, which had virtually no slope to it.  The whole roof, new and original, was to be painted red.  For some reason, red was a popular roof colour in those days.
            Hoses lay across the roof; just where he had dropped them in a jumble.  Why he needed so many hoses was a mystery to me.  In the midst of that clutter of hose, was the five-gallon drum of bright red paint, with its lid removed and levelled up on a block of wood.  Directly in line with that drum of bright red paint, were those two Yew trees.  
            The compressor was thumping away down below on the little truck, maintaining an even air flow through the hose.  Our painter, picking up his spray gun pulled the trigger, testing the air flow a couple of times.  Although the air flow was good, there was no sign of any paint. A blockage somewhere, our master painter determined.  He began checking, shaking the spray gun and banging it on the roof, in an effort to dislodge, whatever was stuck in there. Probably, it would have been a good idea to clean the thing properly, before he started. 
            Pressing the trigger a few more times, he still achieved a nil result.  Turning the gun around, he peered at the nozzle, like a magpie looking into a beer bottle.  Squinting in the bright sunlight, he unwittingly squeezed the trigger again.  Oh, bugger.  The blockage suddenly cleared. 
Halfway across his plastic goggles, part of his face, his bushy eyebrows and his grey hair, all instantly turned bright red.  With his vision severely restricted, he wiped his goggles with a bare hand, making things worse.  
            Wrestling with those paint covered goggles, and waving his spray gun around in an effort to maintain his balance, he stumbled blindly into that jumbled hose and tripped.  Knocking over the drum of paint, he voiced a collection of words his mother never taught him.
            At ground level, the lady of the house had just walked out for a look at the new colour scheme.  She let out a terrified squawk, as a red tsunami headed in her direction.  As luck would have it, the spouting and one of the matching Yew trees took most of the flood. The entrance steps and part of the lawn, where she had stood a second before, carried a colourful tribute to a painter’s folly. 
            That lady of the house, a dedicated gardener; had everything just so spic and span in her prize-winning domain.  To see those prized trees she had nurtured for all those years, change colour in an instant, it must have been devastating.
            Our intrepid painter slid warily towards the roof edge.  Peering over and in a high pitched whine, enquired, ____ “is anyone hurt?”                                                                                                                            
            White as a sheet, the lady of the house, appeared from where she had flown in an Olympic record-breaking leap. 
            “You stupid, bloody man”, she screeched.  Gaining her second wind, she began a selection of obscenities.  “Get off my property this instant,” she ranted.  “I never want to see you ever again.  Come on; don’t stand there like a dork, pick up your gear before I do something I will regret.”  Then she continued another barrage of obscenities, the likes of which a dog would hang its head in shame.
            With air hoses over his shoulder, the painter thought better than to demand the right of reply; instead he scrambled down the ladder, three rungs at a time.  On the run, he threw everything, including the now empty paint drum onto the deck of his little truck.  Diving into his Terraplane Coupe parked on the meticulously groomed pebble drive, bordered by raised and manicured lawn edgings. 
            Slamming the old car into first gear, he floored the accelerator, neatly burying the back wheels to the hubcaps.  His hands still moist from wet paint, he lost control of the steering wheel as the Terraplane gained traction.  In a sight reminiscent of a scene from a Laurel and Hardy movie, the car bounced off one raised lawn edging, going on to level a cluster of cherished bush roses inside their established plot, before careering onto the opposite raised edging, causing irreparable damage. 
            With rose branches and a small specimen flowering shrub wedged between the bumper and the radiator, the Terraplane Coupe roared in first gear, leaving the driveway resembling a cultivated paddock.   
            “Bloody hell!!” I whispered, as the painter eventually squeezed his Terraplane on two wheels though the road gate, in a classic broadside and cloud of dust.

            I glanced at the duchess; her hands were clenched into tight little fists, while her eyes had become slits.  Her biceps were pumped up, daring someone to say just one word.  Before she could turn her bloodshot eyes in my direction, I hastily picked up my saw and frantically looked around for a piece of wood to cut.   

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Noel Guthrie Art ( 5 )

Abandoned Water Tap
Acrylic wash on card  by Noel Guthrie

Central Otago
Acrylic wash on canvas   by Noel Guthrie

Wheat Stalk
Watercolour   by Noel Guthrie

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Noel Guthrie Art ( 4 )

Mistake Station (now called Godley Peaks) at the head of Lake Tekapo  in the Mackenzie Country
Watercolour greyscale by Noel Guthrie

Mustering in the Ashburton Gorge    Watercolour greyscale by Noel Guthrie

St Augustus Church Waimate
Watercolour greyscale by Noel Guthrie

Noel Guthrie Art ( 3 )

Albury Primary School    Demolished about the 1970s
Watercolour  greyscale   by Noel Guthrie

Musters Hut on the road to Mt Cook Station
Watercolour  greyscale  by Noel Guthrie

Marylands Homestead.   Mid Canterbury.
Watercolour greyscale  by Noel Guthrie

Noel Guthrie Art ( 2 )

Guyzen House.   George St   Timaru    Now a car park      watercolour greyscale  by Noel Guthrie
The Long Drop
Tekapo Hotel on the shore of Lake Tekapo   demolished around 1950
Watercolour  greyscale  by Noel Guthrie

Noel Guthrie Art ( 1 )

Annalong Farm.   Otaio  Between Timaru and Waimate   Watercolour greyscale  by Noel Guthrie
The Bucket  Watercolour greyscale   by Noel Guthrie
Arundell Hotel   1800s --1900s  Watercolour greyscale    by Noel Guthrie

Monday, 27 March 2017

Patrolled the beat on his favourite bike

Patrolled the beat on his favourite bike

Malvern Police Station
Grey scale watercolour by Noel Guthrie

On New Zealand’s main West Coast road, between Springfield and Sheffield, at a little place called Annat, the original Malvern District Police Station was first established in 1870.  In 1984, its remains could be seen slowly crumbling away amongst the trees, I wonder if it is still there?
In those early years, Annat was a bustling railhead, servicing a large area and it was Sergeant William Wheatley who first took up this post  
Constable Charles is said to have joined the Police Force in 1876, at Christchurch.  Later that same year, he became attached to the Malvern Police District as a member of the Mounted Constabulary and was assigned to relieving at various outstations within the Malvern Police District.

During 1878 Constable George Catmill transferred to Malvern Police Station.  Along with his brother, he had served in the Royal Irish Constabulary.  They both immigrated to New Zealand in 1874, joining the Christchurch Police shortly after.
It was a tragic loss for the people of the district and the Malvern Police in 1884, when George Cartmill, a highly respected and well-liked constable, met his death in an unfortunate accident in the railway shunting yards.

In 1892, the Malvern Police Station changed its name to Sheffield.  Seventeen years later in 1909, the name changed again, this time to Annat.  Then in 1915, the police station was transferred to Darfield, where new stables and a lockup were built.
Of all the police personnel to serve this district, I am told one of the most noted constables was J.P.Larmer, I gather by some of the stories told, he could well have been of Irish descent?  Hence known as 'Paddy', by some.  
He transferred from Otira in 1950 and was to spend the next twenty-one years on the beat, patrolling Darfield astride an old pushbike.  His territory expanded as smaller stations, such as Coalgate closing and those rural areas extending as far as Alyesbury to the east, Bealey to the west, the Waimakariri in the north, and the Rakaia to the south.

Later those licensed premises in the rural townships of Kirwee, Sheffield, Springfield, Coalgate and Hororata, saw his old Wolseley 6/80 car regularly patrolling these areas.  Those outside the law rarely escaped the notice of Constable Larmer.  
Regarded as a second constable by the locals, Mrs Larmer should have been appointed to this position, according to some.   On more than one occasion, in her husband’s absence, Mrs Larmer was known to have made an arrest.  

During 1971, the Larmer family left the district.  In recognition of Constable Larmer and his service to the community, 500 people attended the families farewell at a function held in Springfield.

I must share a verse from a delightful poem written by a local farmer and read out at the family’s farewell.  It portrays the special place in which the locals held Constable Larmer in their hearts.

It goes like this: -
             Paddy ooh Paddy, wid yer beauty and grace,
                        Begorrah we’ll be missin yer vacant face.
                        Paddy ooh Paddy, I’m telling yer plain
                        We knew nothing of crime till praise be yer came
                        Paddy ooh Paddy yer can say what yer like
                        It won’t be the same wid out yer and yer bike
                        Paddy ooh Paddy here’s long life and health
                        To Josie and Anne and of course yer good self
                       And ever yer chance to fall foul of the law
                       May yer sentence be light and the evidence poor?
                       And if ever begorrah yer should end up in jail
                     The people of Malvern will always find bail.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Bully beef for breakfast, dinner and tea.

Bully beef for breakfast, dinner, and tea.


The old Hermitage at Mt Cook/Mt Aoraki

Since the 1800s, visitors to New Zealand have been drawn to the Mackenzie, where they can gaze at the sun going down on a magical yet barren landscape, where the sky is blue, the air is clean and one can see almost into eternity.  It’s true, I kid you not.
That original site for the first Hermitage was at Foliage Hill, where it fought several battles with Mother Nature, in the form of floods and fire, eventually succumbing after almost thirty years. 
Construction of another Hotel was mooted.  History of this project is officially recorded, although what is not recorded or seldom talked about, except in family circles, is an incident during the rebuilding of that second Hermitage.
It all began as a result of a fire that damaged part of the Hotel.  Owned by the Government at the time, they engaged a contractor from outside the district, to make repairs.
At the time, there was a desperate shortage of skilled and unskilled labour, therefore all personnel employed in the National Park, whether they were guides, cooks, or handymen, were required to help with the rebuild.
One of those men was Stanley (Stan) Guthrie, who worked as a guide.  He grew up in Burkes Pass about fifty miles to the east.  There, his Scottish-born parents established the Aries sheep station, so named after their home in County Ayrshire, back in Scotland.
Stan loved the outdoors and had grown up as a musterer, regularly mustering sheep along the steep slopes of the lowland Southern Alps.  As a guide, he accompanied tourists around the Mt Cook National Park and cooking for them in a camp oven in those outlying huts, became second nature.
Labouring for a building contractor on this project was one thing, but being well fed by the contractor was another.  All workers were treated to the same meagre meal each day.  Of course, the contractor was claiming maximum expenses from the Government by way of a substantial meal allowance. Perhaps the contractor, to make the finances stretch, had moved into the realms of deceit.  Tinned bully beef provided by the contractor was supposed to sustain the workers for breakfast.  Of course, there was bully beef for lunch and you’ve guessed it, tinned bully beef for the evening meal. 
Eventually, mutinous thoughts began to float around the camp.  Those thoughts began to take on a more colourful aspect, when workers heard of an up and coming inspection by the Clerk of Works and several Government VIPs’ all from Wellington, arriving for an official visit.
In a last ditch stand to improve their lot at the meal table, several of the disgruntled workers hatched a cunning plan for survival.  And yes their plan would coincide with inspection day.
Eventually, that day came, and with inspection in full swing, several workers had dressed in tidy clothes and appeared on site with what appeared to be a coffin.  Someone had obviously died and a primitive service for the departed was underway.
At the head of a small column of mourners was number one rascal, Stan Guthrie playing a lament on his bagpipes.  The coffin was suitably draped with a large black cloth, topped with several bunches of the Mt Cook Lily, a flower recognised as a native to this part of the world.  Many other workers trooped along behind the casket, their eyes downcast.
Those VIPs stood at attention, removing their hats as this spectacle passed.  Then, as it was only proper and respectful, they joined the procession to where a grave had previously been dug on an adjoining piece of land.  As those VIPs and workers gathered around the gravesite, pallbearers held the casket steady.
One of the workers had been elected to speak on behalf of the dearly departed.  Stepping forward, he mumbled a few unintelligible but solemn words before the casket could be lowered into the ground.
As the casket reached the ground level the black cloth was whipped off, to expose dozens of tins of bully beef all stacked together on a shaped base of planks made to the shape of a coffin.  As the planks and bully beef slid slowly into the empty hole, there was total silence for several minutes.   It was so quiet; you could hear a 'kea' pass wind at twenty paces. 

That little prank worked like a dream.  Obviously, some explanation was called for and red faces were abounding amongst management and government circles.  Never had management expected such a well thought out performance.  They were never able to discuss reprisals, for, with the location and the labour shortage of those times, meals took on a new look, a more delicate aroma and a much better taste. 

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Dog's Jubilee

Dog's Jubilee.

When I photographed this dog outside its kennel it looked as though he or she was searching for fleas. I immediately thought of an old tune we used to play on mums piano.  Don't ask me how it goes, for I can't remember.  It started off with "My dog has flea's," and carried on for several verses.  Totally out of tune, but when one is a kid of about seven or eight it makes perfect sense, a bit like the tune " I can wash my daddy's shirt", all played on about two keys.

The other thing I thought of was that story of the dog's jubilee.
It was many many years ago when the older dogs in the community considered it was time for a jubilee to mark a dog's life.  To cut a long story short, the hall was booked and dogs turned up from far and wide.  As a general rule of entry, every dog was to present their rectum at the cloakroom until they all left for home.    The cloakroom attendant hung each rectum on a hook under their name tag.
During a rather sexy dance, where the fiddle, played at speed by an old Jack Russell by the name of Rastus, burst into flame.  Fire rapidly spread and there was a mad rush for the door and the cloakroom, where every dog was grabbing for a rectum.  In their haste, many picked up the wrong one.

So, when you see a dog rush up to another and begin sniffing the others rear end, you can be sure that dog was at the jubilee and was one of those unlucky enough to have to have grabbed the wrong rectum.  Until his or her dying day, those ringless dogs will continue their search, hoping that one day they will strike it lucky. 

Monday, 20 February 2017

There's a hole in the bucket, dear Liza.

From a grayscale watercolour by Noel Guthrie

This bucket hanging on the post reminds me of a story when I was working in Fairlie for a building firm by the name of Carlton Bros during the 1950s.
I had been there for a couple of years I suppose when a new apprentice started work.
Several members of the Carlton family worked in the firm, one, in particular, was John Carlton, or Darkie was his nickname.  He was a joker in the pack, just couldn't help himself.  He loved a bit of harmless fun,
A new apprentice, like most of us at the tender age of 15 were gullible and caught by one of Darkie's jokes, at one time or other.
This day, during our morning tea break, Darkie asked the new young bloke if he would pop over to the Canterbury Farmers Co-op, machinery dept and get four gallons of free air and tell Bernie Welch the manager to charge it up..  Eager to please, this lad goes on his way,
Arriving at the Machinery Dept, he told Bernie, that Darkie had sent him over for four gallons of free air and to just charge it up to the firm.  Bernie almost wet himself on the spot, not able contain his laughter, he rushed out the back.
Returning with tears still in his eyes, he said come with me lad.  Putting the air hose in the empty four-gallon kerosene tin he squirted air into it.  Should be enough in there now lad he said, quickly screwing on the cap.  The young fella asked if it was very heavy?  Bernie dashed back in the shop before he began a bout of uncontrollable laughter.
Whistling his favourite tune 'White Sports Coat'  that young bloke never gave it another thought that Darkie may be playing a joke on him. He had to laugh at his own gullibility
when it dawned on him, he'd been had.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

The Fourth Holy Innocent.

Church of the Holy Innocents. 
Mt Peel.

From a watercolour sketch 
by Noel Guthrie  1994

Several years ago, and for the very first time, I took the opportunity to enter this small stone Church of the Holy Innocents, at Mt Peel, along the western corner of South Canterbury.
Even though I was alone, apart from a friendly fantail flitting between the high portals, the sense that I had company and a feeling of peace, was quite overpowering.
All around me, I saw history recorded in some shape or form.  The extraordinary stained glass windows, as well as those polished memorial plaques adorning the wall.

In the small graveyard outside, etched in stone, were the names of those who have gone before.  For some, only an unmarked rock, inscribed their passing.
Prior to the erection of this Church at Mt Peel, Mr J. A. B. Acland, a runholder and lay preacher at the time, conducted services several times a year in the Mt Peel homestead.
As I understand, an entry in Mr Acland's diary records a service conducted on the 10th December 1868, in which he wrote.
        'Read the last of the Bishop of New Zealand's four sermons.   At the time, I am sorry to say,     Lang,(a neighbour) went to sleep, though he tried to disprove it by reading the middle part of the sermon, as the concluding sentences.'

I wonder how many of us have guilty of that little transgression from time to time.

At the base of Big Mt Peel and on the rise overlooking the deceptive Rangitata River, Emily Acland laid the foundation stone for this Church on the 14th December 1868.
 Plans of the Church, previously drawn in true Gothic architecture by Mr Ashworth of  Exeter, England, were a gift of the Rev. P. Acland, Vicar of Broardclyst and sub-Dean of Exeter Cathedral.
William Brassington of Christchurch won the contract to construct this church for a cost of four hundred and eighty-six pounds, eight shillings and sixpence, although the bell tower design was changed, to suit an alternative design submitted by Mrs Acland.

Quarried limestone used in the construction, was taken from a site at Mt Somers and carted across the  Rangitata River by bullock dray.  Other stone used in the project was collected from the Rangitata River flats.
Substantial Gothic portals, handcrafted of Totara timber, support an attractive handcrafted ceiling of New Zealand native Totara and Matai.  Other hand-hewn furniture and fitting, also of native timbers, provide the simple necessities for up to eighty or more worshippers, to share in this tranquil setting.

In a letter written by Rev.L.L.Brown, after the consecration of this little Church on December 12th, 1869, he described the origin of its name.  One passage of his letter brought forth a surge of emotion within me, where he wrote,

          'The name, Church of the Holy Innocents, was chosen because there were three infant children, Emily Dyke Acland, Helen Irvine and Abner Clough, lay buried in the hillside.
On the day this church was consecrated, a solemn spot caught my eye.  In a hedged enclosure, I saw a small wooden cross at the head of a little mound of earth, the soil recently disturbed.
This was the grave of the fourth holy innocent, Robert Irvine, who died in August 1869.

Services up until around 1921 were held only four or five times each year.  Offerings collected, usually went to the Mission Funds, such as St Savours Orphanage or the Maori Girls School.
Yet it appears that this small Church lay quiet for some years, prior to 1947, when a notice in the 'Churchman', advised parishioners that services were to begin again.
At a centenary of the Church of the holy innocents, held on the 28th December 1969, it was Simon Acland, a great grandson of the pioneer and founder of this Church, who, in delivering his sermon he quoted.
           'They had their share of suffering, disappointments and hardship, but they also had a vision and it rested with their faith in Jesus Christ.
They didn't plan, plant or build, just for themselves, they did it for the happiness and fulfilment of others.'
This small church at Mt Peel, to me at least, epitomises strength and a vision, of those settlers who braved almost intolerable elements, so that we, their descendants may live our lives in peace.                                                                          

In the nick

How many can remember getting around like this at the beach or 
at the river when they were little.

A black and white watercolour on paper
by Noel Guthrie.
280mm x 180mm

Monday, 6 February 2017

The Boat Shed

I am taking the opportunity to display some of my original art over the next few weeks.

This scene of an old boat shed at Lake Alexandrina in the Mackenzie took my fancy some time ago, so I painted it.
As far as I can remember it was coming into mid-autumn. Many of the willow trees along the lake edge had previously been pruned and had sprouted again.
I sketched the scene and took a photograph for future reference.
The painting was acrylic on canvas,   600 x 450
The original painting was sold not long after it was completed, however, prints can still be made available.

Hope you enjoy.

Noel G

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Tea with a whisky chaser

Tea with a Whisky Chaser

Recently, our family were reminiscing over photographs taken throughout our five-year stint at Glenham, a small country settlement in the south.

During that time, I sketched many subjects that took my fancy, among which, was an old woolshed standing inside a grove of native trees and bush, which surrounded part of our ten hectare property.         As farm buildings go, it was fairly typical of those erected during the 1870’s.  During that period it was constructed as a set of stables by Adam Hunter, whose family carved a large hunk out of this bush covered terrain, before gradually bringing his land into production. 
During the following years, additions were obviously tacked on as the need arose and those stables were eventually turned into a shearing shed. Our family spent a delightful time here.  
Perhaps, I should tell you a little story of our experience in this picturesque part of the country.

It was on a whim, my wife and I bought this small lifestyle block.  Becky, my wife for the last thirty years, was the farmer in the family.  I was the general roustabout, when not working in the city, thirty miles away.  What did we know about farming?  Absolutely nothing!
  My wife’s first priority, she told me as we lay in bed one Sunday night, was to stock our little bit of paradise with a few high-quality sheep.  
‘Oh yeah,’ I mumbled, snuggling up to Becky.  I had a more urgent activity on my mind and it certainly was not counting flamin’ sheep.

Monday morning, Becky was up early and on the phone to a stock agent.  By lunch time, she was away with him to thrash out some sort of deal and purchase her first flock. 
It was a couple of days later, a transporter pulled into the yard with eighty or so, in-lamb ewes on board.  My mild excitement turned to despair in a matter of minutes, as the first of the mob ambled out.  These sheep, I imagined, were supposed to be classy stuff?  But hell man, if these were high quality, I’d hate to see the crappy stuff.
With sixty or so sheep safely in the yards, I looked at the driver, a giant of a man.  He was as bald as a babies bum, had cauliflower ears and a couple of teeth missing.
 “Where’s the rest?” I said. 
With a toothless grin, he pointed to his truck, “in there mate.”
We began by dragging the last twenty or so out,
what a motley lot those few turned out to be. 
“What do you think dear?”  Becky asked, her face beaming with pride. 
“Well my love, I don’t know how you do it, you are so magnificent in your dealings, you take my breath away.”  
“Really,” she cackled.  “You think I’ve got an instinct for this sort of thing?”
 I took a deep breath and closed my eyes. Those sheep were crippled with rheumatism and were full of footrot. In my humble opinion, they had lived well beyond their normal life expectancy.
What did I think?  I was bloody gobsmacked, ___ that’s what!  This was a blinkin’ nightmare.  I began wondering if I should dig a communal grave now, or wait a few days.  What a god-damned disaster, a waste of our meagre finances.
The cocky who sold those sheep must have seen Becky coming a mile off.  He would have been rubbing his hands with glee.  Under my breath, I was abusing that stock agent.  Yet calling him all the names under the sun was not the answer.   Perhaps I should let all his tyres down one dark night?  Then I began to laugh, at the absurdity of it all.
 Over a strong cup of tea laced with a generous treble whisky, I was still shaking my head in disbelief.
Becky, cautiously sipping her tea at the other end of the table, said, “Don’t look at me like that.”  She was thinking of ways to humour me.  “You’ll see.  In a couple of weeks, after they have all been drenched and had a big sleep, these sheep will be as fit as a fiddle.  So, hurry up and finish your tea,” she snapped, slapping her hand on the table. 
“C’mon we haven’t got all day.”  
“You’re going to drench those poor creatures!”  I muttered, thinking what a waste of good money.
“Yes.” She said in a voice that sent ripples up my spine.  I had visions of having to do some work. 
 “What are we going to drench them with?” I asked, knowing we never had such a thing as a drenching gun.  So what the hell did this woman have up her sleeve?
 “C’mon,” she said slapping her hand on the top rail of the yard, “I shouldn’t have to answer your stupid questions.” She said, disappearing into the shed.
Lagging behind, as usual, I heard her scrambling around in the shed, amongst what I knew to be a load of old junk.   Involuntarily, I must have groaned, for Becky glared at me.
“I wasn’t going to say anything,” I said, standing there like a dork.  Then with a crash, she came up from under a load of old tins and other junk, with a dirty old funnel and a piece of rubber hose.  “Ah,” she said, looking at me with a mischievous look in her eye.  “Just, what I need.” She was still looking at me.   
Oh hell, I tested my belt to see if it was tight and began backing out the door. I’d sampled my mother with a rubber hose and warm soapy water when I was constipated as a little kid, and I wasn’t going back there again, thank you very much.
“Hey!  Where do you think you are going?” Becky demanded, her voice tinged with authority. 
 “I want you to hold these!” She commanded.
 Relief washed over me.  It seems I had completely misjudged her intentions with that hose
Her pregnant ewes were herded into the drafting pen, where I was instructed to hold each old ewe, in what could be best described in wrestling circles, as a ‘Half Nelson.’  At the same time and from the same position, I was required to force their mouths open for the wife’s next hilarious act.    
As I and the old ewe performed a dance of the seven veils, I watched in horror as Becky plunged that rubber hose down the poor old bugger’s throat.  Then, from a small measuring jug, she poured a quantity of drench into the funnel.  Jiggling the hose up and down in the animal’s throat, she made sure every last drop went down.  Some of the poor old dears coughed and gasped for breath, a bit of drench obviously slid down the wrong way.
Becky was getting a bit twitchy as those unfortunate old dear’s struggled more than she had anticipated.  Couldn’t blame them myself, yet I kept my trap shut.  One word out of me and that hose would’ve gone straight up my rectum, quicker than a gnat could pass wind.

When the neighbours found out, they went into hysterics.  I don’t how they did find out, God, it was embarrassing.  Although I must say, in between fits of laughter, Colin did take pity and returned with an old drenching gun he seldom used.  He was too late of course for this episode, but it would certainly come in handy next time, should any of this present mob survive their ordeal.
Lambing was the next bit of excitement; it came and went in hilarious fashion.  
                Every morning and night, Becky was out there with her little bag of tricks, in case she came across one of her mothers-in-waiting having a little bit of trouble.
I can vividly recall one of her patients, as she called them, getting into a spot of strife down the bottom of a gully on our little block.  “We’ve got to get her out of there and up to the shed so I can treat her,” Becky said.
“Right,”  I said, looking around to see what other half-baked scheme, the wife had up her bloody sleeve.  “And, how do you think we are going to accomplish this feat?”
“Oh, you’ll think of something,” she beamed, “you are clever like that.”
“Don’t you patronise me?”  I growled.
Grinning, she said. “Oh, go on sweetheart, you love it.”
“Alright! Alright.    I’ll go and get the blasted wheelbarrow.”

Trudging all the way back out of the gully to the shed, I cussed that crafty old ewe up the hill and down dale, for having the audacity to feign delivering her lamb in the most inaccessible part of our little block, just so Becky would take pity on her.  
Returning with the wheelbarrow and other crucial bits and pieces on the list, we struggled to load the old girl into the tray.
With me in the shafts, and Becky attaching herself like a draft horse to a rope out front, we, with a lot of grunting and cussing, began our trip to the shed.  Red-faced and out of breath, it had taken us about an hour of slipping and sliding, apart from expelling vulgar noises, to make the hundred yards back to the shed. 
Any reasonably sane individual would have had an easier means of transport.  Then, of course, I don’t think any of the neighbours ever thought we came close to being sane, anyway.
I grumbled a bit and then began to laugh at how ridiculous we must have looked   “For goodness sake don’t let the neighbours know,” I said.
 “And as for you, you, crafty old bitch,” I said shaking my finger at the old ewe, lying there like lady muck, on a nice clean bed of straw.  I swear I could see the amusement in her eyes, as she pulled her top lip back, in what could be regarded as a sheepish grin.

If I ever thought that was going to be the only maternity rescue, I was deluding myself.  With a wife who loves animals as much as Becky does, I might have known there would be another incident sometime in the not too distant future.
  Of course, in a few weeks, it was time to dock lamb tails etc.  In total, there were one hundred and twenty lambs.
We borrowed a gadget from one of the neighbours to fit each rubber ring.  Those ewe lambs were a piece of cake, well . . . would you believe?   It was those ram lambs; they were the one’s that tested my patience to the limit.  They were crafty little beggars, drawing their testicles up as soon as I looked in their direction.   Although I must say in all fairness, I felt a certain amount of sympathy.

As the days turned to weeks, lambs were heavy enough to take their turn at visiting the freezing works.  Before this could happen, of course, I was advised to crutch our lambs before they were sent on their way. 
                That was a classic operation, I must say.  Armed with a handpiece borrowed from my brother-in-law and last minute instructions from my eldest son, I told Becky crutching these lambs was going to be a piece of cake.
By lunch, the number in the catching pen had reduced by about twenty.  I was sweating profusely and getting around like a half shut pocket knife.  It was at this point, I gave up all thoughts of becoming a shearer. 
What with attending to footrot, crutching our sheep, operating the wool press, a survivor from the seventeenth century, we were a constant source of amusement in the neighbourhood.
Becky always felt good though at the end of each season. She often outsmarted those older cocky’s who found us entertaining.  To their horror, this teeny weenie townie, commanded top lamb prices from within our locality.  All stemming from those original old ewes, I had had the audacity to condemn and for Becky’s blind faith and love she stowed upon her wretched animals.