Tag Archives: relations

Time away:

Three nights away and I feel a different person. Celebrating my aunt’s 90th birthday was a treat. She is the last of my mother’s sisters. Mary holds herself so straight; always dressing in such a dignified manner, she’s an inspiration. Her health hasn’t always been good, and yet her complaints are kept to herself. I wonder to myself, will I be as stoic?

View from fire lit D'Anvers restaurant with delicious hot chocolates.

View from fire lit D’Anvers restaurant with delicious hot chocolates.



My aunt’s cousin, Jane, (80, previous winner of the Australian Seniors’ Golf Championship), took us for some wonderful drives. On arrival we had afternoon tea at the House of Anvers, a boutique chocolate factory/ restaurant at Latrobe.






Lunch on the birthday was at La Mar at Turners Beach. Totally delicious fare of fish and chips, cooked just right.

Up behind Devonport there are places called No Where Else and Paradise. Places such as these had their signs removed during the war to confuse the enemy, in case they were invaded. I’m sure with the signs any enemy would have been none the wiser! The Forth Valley is mostly farming, with such vegetables as: beans, broccoli, onions, leeks celery, swedes, potatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce and pumpkin.

Glencoe, B&B

Glencoe, B&B

B&Bs are scattered, this taken out of the moving car, shows a sign for one of these where there is a famous French chef. They grow their own produce and the food is exquisite.


Poppy growing



Tasmania is the only Southern Hemisphere location where poppies are grown for the production of morphine, codeine and thebaine. Victoria has been threatening to start competing in this area, but Tasmanians are hoping to retain their monopoly.


Of course the conversation always wanders down memory lane, and my aunt’s long- term memory is in full swing.

Deloraine was where we met up with my mother’s only brother, Henry, (92) and his wife Anne. Eating out, my aunts, cousin and uncle are recognized wherever we go. Tasmania is such a friendly island with so many links.




Afterwards we went into the rural countryside behind Deloraine. (In the middle of no –where, where the search for the Tasmanian tiger still goes on). Here, there is now a place called 41degrees South where they farm salmon and grow ginseng, producing gourmet products with free tastings. Returning to the Highway we went to a place called the Creamery where they make ices of every description, dairy free! They were like the Italian gelati with a wide range of flavours. There too, of course, someone knew someone, and more discussions ensued in the Tasmanian way.

The rows of poplar trees were all golden and glowed in the sunshine with the blue of the mountain as a backdrop.

We didn’t stop at the cheese factory this time. The whole of Tasmania is catering to tourists and niche industries have struck up all over the island. It is certainly a place I’d recommend for a holiday, no matter what your interests are. Many artists and writers have settled in Tasmania as it retains a fresh and unspoilt feel.


Enduring Threads: part 11

I feel uncomfortable about how these snippets of ‘Enduring Threads’ will be perceived. My aim has been to depict the carefree childhood of the 1940s and 1950s. The uncomplicated life of children who were privileged to have a mother at home; the freedom of play without the imposition of parental supervision, and an extensive wider family who enriched our lives.

Awareness of the present generation, our grandchildren, who are growing up with very different perceptions has inspired my recollections. They have the stress of both parents working and the development of technical devices that negate their close affinity with nature. Being driven to school, free play limited and computerisation changing the simple task of, for instance, writing a letter. My sharing of my own experiences through life will, in time, seem the antithesis of their own childhood. So, I continue to write:

Maternal Relations

Exciting holidays with the Roberts-Thomson family were spent in Launceston, at Great Lake, and later in Adelaide. Our cousins came to stay with us in Devonport too. One early incident: I tried to step on a floating object in their fishpond thinking that it would support my weight. Of course it sank and so did I. An early physics lesson.

Barbara, Clive, Peter and Mary Elizabeth

Barbara, Clive, Peter and Mary Elizabeth

Uncle John was a keen trout fisherman. When we were out fishing on Great Lake, he’d say, ‘Can you spot a bunyip?’

Uncle John’s hobbies were: making flies, photography, woodcarving, playing the violin and astronomy. He built his own telescope and taught himself to play the violin. He was accepted into the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra before his arthritis became problematic. My father joked, (because John was a minister),

‘He can do all that because he only has to work one day a week!’

Auntie Lillian played the piano. Girls were not encouraged to succeed professionally outside the home but she had worked for the family firm before her marriage.

Lillian must have been very frustrated as a housewife and a minister’s wife. She resorted to

Peter and Mary Elizabeth 1949

Peter and Mary Elizabeth

disciplining the boys with the wooden spoon, and on one occasion it broke when she spanked Clive. All her life she wrote letters weekly to her siblings. After my mother’s death we exchanged letters, keeping up to date with the news of the wider family, until her death at the age of 98.

Cousin Peter ‘s enthusiasm for his environment made him an interesting guide when I visited them as a teenager. We’d cycle to visit the Adelaide Art Gallery, the astronomy observatory, plus sights up in the hills beyond Adelaide. Mary Elizabeth and Peter topped Adelaide University in Medicine. Mary went on to become a paediatrician and married Adel, an Egyptian, against her father’s wishes. Adel later became a professor of nuclear medicine in Canada. He found Australians racist, so they left for America straight after their wedding, later to live in Canada.

Peter R-T went to Oxford after completing his medical degree. He later became a professor at Adelaide University specialising in rheumatology.

Mark R-T always wanted to be a pilot. His parents insisted, ‘ You must do a science degree first, something to fall back on.’ He did this and then became a pilot.

 Auntie Mary, Mum’s younger sister, married in her thirties. She travelled overseas on her own prior to her engagement. My parents went to Sydney to welcome her home and the Pyetts moved in to look after us. Clive and Christopher were away at Scotch and Grammar Schools in Launceston. The sweet corn was ripe. My parents sent me a cooking set from Sydney for my birthday. It had miniature cake tins and a small frying pan that I could cook with. Grandma gave me a crystal set (radio) with headphones. This meant I could now listen to 7AD, the local commercial station, and become familiar with top of the pops music. Eric Pyett helped set it up for me in his kind and practical way.

Auntie Mary’s welcome home afternoon tea was organised for her friends to hear about her travels. I had been asked to put out the sugar, which she’d brought back from all of the countries she had visited. I started tearing the packets emptying the sugar, quickly to be told they were to remain in their packaging. How foolish I felt.

? Jane D, Bob and Mary Gott, Henry, Barbara and Mary Elizabeth 2-11-57

Dick Frazer, Jane D, Bob and Mary Gott, Henry, Barbara and Mary Elizabeth 2-11-57

Auntie Mary married Bob Gott on 2nd November 1957. Mary had previously refused to marry Bob and live with his mother, as she and the mother didn’t get on. Fortunately Mrs. Gott died. Cousin Jane was their bridesmaid and Mary Elizabeth and I were the flower girls. My tooth was capped, so that I no longer had a toothless smile; the previous cap I’d swallowed. This wedding ceremony was the first to take place in the newly built St. Columba’s Presbyterian Church in Devonport, followed by a reception at 6 Ronald Street.

Mary Elizabeth, Barbara, Dick Frazer, Jane Donohue, Bob and Mary Gott

Mary Elizabeth, Barbara, Dick Frazer, Jane Donohue, Bob and Mary Gott

Auntie Mary took down the flying ducks on the walls and made 124 her own. Timothy, Robert and Susan were born in quick succession.


Auntie Mary, Susan, Timothy, Robert and Uncle Bob Gott

Cooking was something that Mary learnt, but it didn’t come with the innate ease that my mother seemed to have. Mary and Brenda mixed in different circles, though that could have been due to their age difference. Both appeared very confident people and attracted many people into their orbits.

Uncle Bob bought the newsagency in Rooke Street, and I was able to work there in the school holidays. His eccentric habit of wearing his Scottish tam-o’-shanter brings a smile to those who remember him.

Revisiting the past:

Returning to my birth- place has always been an interesting visitation. Now that my parents and Chris’ parents are dead, the town has lost much of its allure.

Tasmania remains special; as for me, people are more important than places. Coming from a large family there are many cousins and a few straggling aunts and one remaining uncle in the north of the island. Three of my siblings have migrated south to the beautiful capital of Hobart nestled between Mount Wellington as its backdrop and the water. Unfortunately this time I am not able to get south.

Devonport is on a river and the sea. My youngest brother and his wife are also going to meet me there, to celebrate my mother’s youngest sister’s 89th birthday. These days frailty is a concern with the older generation, so it’s good to be able to visit them, while we still can.

Angus, my youngest sibling, is Master of a ship that travels from Melbourne, Devonport to King Island. He has always loved the sea, and has made it his life’s work. He is ten years younger than me, and therefore able to keep me up with things that would otherwise pass straight over my head.

For instance: The Madam at East Devonport won Tattslotto. When she went to buy cars for her ‘girls’ she asked for 10 cars. The man didn’t believe her, and was a bit short with her. So, she went to the car place next door and bought ten pink cars. (Have forgotten the make). She then asked for enough petrol to drive passed the next door’s agency, showing off her new car. No doubt giving him the finger.

Angus picks up on such tidbits, so hopefully I’ll get some news for you, on my return at the end of the week. Have a good one!