The happiness of family

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My sister visited this week from Tasmania – she came up to visit Mum ( and my brother and myself as well). I actually have two sisters and a brother. When Dad was alive we spent a lot of time as a bigger family but now it is just Rob, Al and I. We have spent a lot of time with my lovely Mum. Mum is not perfect, she never set herself up to be. She has many faults as we all do. One of her endearing traits is her absolute love of family.

When I was 11, Mum struggled to come to school for my afternoon tea for our parents. As final year before High School, we were in the top form and we had sat our 11 plus. I had passed and was going to Heriots Wood Grammar, which was presided over by none other than my mother’s Science Teacher from Chichester Grammar, who was now the Head Mistress. This event was arranged by the school. Encouraged by our teachers, we (children) put on an afternoon tea in the primary school canteen, bringing our own crockery and I think cutlery – we were told to set it out nicely for our Mum’s to kind of prove that we could join the human race and could put on a fancy High Tea for our first “grownup” occasion before we left Primary School and went to High School. It was an event every young person at our school was proud to take part in. I had to travel to school with my “stuff” in a shopping cart and try not to “break anything”. Which I did not. It was summer, and Mum was 8 months pregnant with Anita. She looked really good in her best maternity dress, a navy blue smock which went over a blouse. And she made a great effort to walk to our school in her nap time, and secretly I was really thrilled. There were moments when I  was a little embarrassed – like who has a pregnant Mum, but I coped – we had to serve the tea, pour it out, hand out the food and tidy up afterwards. That terrified me – I did not want to have an accident in front of Mum and my friends – like a crockery breakage or a milk spill.

I survived the ordeal, did not break any china – put up with our lovely male teacher that year Mr Forster being introduced to my mother. Then we had the journey back home with our best china – how scary is that – along an English pavement which was not very flat, there were always cracks to negotiate which were difficult – and we then were on “Summer Holidays”. What an Elysian time – warm days, blackberrying later on nearer September in the playing fields down the road – riding my bike everywhere. Lazing around at home reading books. Waiting for the baby to be born. Despite the fact that Mum had a very uncomfortable time with this birth – we – Alison and I – did not realize anything at the time. Somehow – Mum survived the first part of the labor – then started losing blood and her idea of having the baby at home, which went well with Alison – when she was 27, did not work out at 37 – there was an ambulance and Mum went to hospital – and we did not remember a thing.

Kids in our household were kids – Dad was ex Army and a Policeman so he was used to just saying that is how it is and that is what we do – end of story. When Mum eventually came home a week or so later – she had this lovely bundle – which Alison and I fell in love with instantly.

We had our cousin Amanda stay with us, at about 18 months old and she caught chickenpox – so we had to be in quarantine. Mum just loved having a bub around and caught the baby bug. Quite a few of her friends did too – so her former playgroup – Wednesday afternoon teas became another playgroup. Except for Auntie Peggy and Auntie Joyce who were not able to have any more – we were no exception in having a much younger playmate.

Then further excitement – we had another playmate due – and this time Mum went straight to Hospital – at Edgeware Rod, Rob informs me – and Dad came home from hospital looking like a very happy man. Dad its a boy isn’t it – I got it straight away. Three girls is a bit much – when it adds up to four women in a home including Mum. So now it was two men- and Dad had a son!

Both children we helped to look after – changing nappies and feeding. Mum had two very keen helpers. We had a tiny bungalow and it got very squeezy. We managed somehow.

Then we migrated to Australia – which was a big family time. We came by BOAC and we stopped everywhere. Zurich, Bahrain ( where we got out of the plane and saw lots of Arabs beautifully dressed in robes and headdresses), Karachi ( where Dad told us not to drink the water – so we didn’t drink anything) Singapore, Darwin then finally Brisbane. I am fairly sure we got out of the plane whenever we could except Zurich. Anita had a huge doll which she hugged the entire time. Rob ate cereal the entire trip – which was great – and he slept -so lucky – we were unable to sleep. When we finally arrived we were all wrung out by being awake for thirty hours – they decided to check out our entire luggage at customs but didn’t take apart Anita’s doll – we didn’t offer as we were over officialdom of any sort. We were kind of smug about it – as that would be an obvious place for any contraband – not that we even thought about that!

Mum was amazing for the whole trip – she made sure we were all fed and watered, and laughed about the luggage ordeal. We went to a local hotel in Brisbane City – strangely I spent my first honeymoon night there some years later – it hadn’t changed. Not the nicest of places ( a bit old fashioned looking) and there was an overwhelming smell of burnt toast – which will always be a memory of my first time in Australia. When we had flown in to Brisbane airport the whole land was swathed in a white mist – the buildings loomed out as colourful, wooden and on posts! Strange after the grey solidness of British homes.

Again Mum was positive and encouraging. We were glum and uncertain about the future. She was busy looking after the little ones, and getting something to eat for all of us – Dad disappeared in a flurry of looking for work, purchasing a car, and getting a rental home. We lived in a hotel for a couple of days, ( I think that was free) – then a motel for a week or so in the West End. Then to Norman Street and I went to Coorparoo State High School. Where a very cheeky “friend” borrowed my drink money to never return it, I failed all my exams and was top in French, and all the male teacher s wore shorts with long socks. Lucky I was only there for four weeks. Alison was relegated back to Primary School which was the other direction from my school. I remember how cold it was and we had left all our warm clothes in the UK.

Then at last we were in our own home in Holland Park, I went to Mt Gravatt State High – (male teachers still in shorts and long socks – I was used to it by now) the happiest time of my life at that time – as my UK all girls Grammar School housed a few bullies – although I did make some good friends there.

These times were uncertain for Mum – she really started to miss her family from the UK and she was a stay at home Mum. Travel to the shops was more arduous than a walk down the road in the UK – it was a long hot trek, and we lived in a hilly area. She jumped at the chance to go back to London, with me when I earned my first wages – we had four weeks together – and we visited relatives, old school friends. Mum ran into an old friend in Bognor on the street. We traveled all over – even going to Edinburgh – which Mum and I loved. When we came back – I could see she had really missed Dad.

She settled down a lot and studied and eventually had a full time job. This was very fulfilling for her – as it was with children – her first job as a nanny and then a Policewoman – involved people. Now even in the retirement home, suffering from old timers ( Alzheimers)  – she is interested in other people – and she continually thanks us for looking after her, and handling all the issues of her life.

 

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Marriage – Anniversaries – Happiness

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Why do we get married? Well one obvious reason is you meet someone who you want to spend the rest of your life with. What if it happens several times and what if it happens when you have older children, and you really should be celebrating their weddings and celebrations!

In 1993, my first husband walked out and although we had two children together – he had been difficult, uncompromising and demanding – he wasn’t going to change – so I became the same and gritting my teeth – hard decision as I was in it for the long haul – decided the best solution after going to counseling and mediation – and I filed the divorce papers. After I had worked full time for 7 years – and my family had grown up – we needed to move from North Queensland.

I moved to the Sunshine Coast in early 2002 – my second daughter and I moved into a rental and looked for somewhere to buy. We found it by Easter, My daughter was settled into a school. We both went to the church associated with the school, and I was asked if I wanted to get along to a Singles group. I was terrified, I had already negotiated out of a very difficult marriage that was awkward as we were supposed to be lifetime partners, but my lifetime partner left me after making it very clear that he was not interested in staying. Leaving the message I needed to change – what into – well – I was supposed to know! I didn’t know whether I was ok, or not – and it was very scary.

So I had lived with so many mixed messages, I now needed to readjust and put myself out there, I went about once, panicked and didn’t go back until later, meanwhile I went to some counselling, and group activities that were encouraging and gave me positive feelings about my purpose in life. Eventually, I went back to the Singles group and enjoyed the membership and helped organize outings. This got me out of being on display, and into supporting and helping and also I was getting out. Organizing meant I had to go to most events – much more fun than sitting on the sidelines and expecting everyone to look after me, I could talk to everyone and make sure no one was lonely or by themselves.

Stephen turned up at several meetings, he was from another church that we joined together with to have a broader number at our gatherings. He wasn’t interested in any relationships either and somehow we got talking, it was mostly at dancing – we went to a dance organised to raise money by a rural fire brigade. The music was unbelievably good and we enjoyed old fashioned dancing. Then I asked him to help me with my garden, as he was a green keeper. Guess what he did, I started to realize he ticked the boxes on my list of qualities I would find in my next partner. Well, I am a romantic, and I was told you need to have a vision of your future – and have a list of what you expect in a future partner, house etc.  And the list got more and more ticks as time went on…. and we actually fell in love…how good is that.

We were introduced to our children, and we waited until after our two daughters had 21st birthdays, and we had met my mother, Stephen’s Mum and Dad checked me over about the time of his daughter’s 21st. We had everyone’s seal of approval. Our church Pastor interviewed prospective marriage couples and he went through a booklet he had with us. When would we like to tell everyone – how about at the Valentines Day Ball in February – perfect, I put on the ring I had in my drawer since September ( we had unsuccessfully put off a lot of inquiries from our friends as to when we were getting engaged) – we went to the Ball and danced the night away as engaged as we could get!

We married in June 2007 – the 23rd is doubly auspicious for me – we had migrated to Australia that date as a family, Sadly my Dad, older than Mum by 10 years, had passed away 3 years earlier, he never met Stephen – but he would have got on with him very well. My brother took me down the aisle and we had as much of the family and friends as we could muster. It was a wonderfully warm and happy time.

In the ten years a lot has happened. My eldest daughter migrated back to the UK and is happily working there. My youngest left home and came back again! Stephen’s son has married and has two beautiful children – a little girl and just recently a boy. His daughter has found a lovely man and will marry next March.

We have traveled and connected to our families in Europe and Canada. We have had a romantic vacation in Vanuatu, and a missionary trip to Thailand. We have traveled back to New Zealand – several times – and sourced information on my family and Stephen’s family. But that is all the events – what about the heart of the matter – what is it that we have found in each other that means we stay.

There is a strong faith in a God that never changes – no matter what we do – he is constant, caring, sees the best in us, has a plan for our lives that we are discovering day-by-day. We seek him out in literature, various churches we have been to, in each other, in our friends and in prayer. Sometimes it is hard, as answers don’t always come at our beck and call. Sometimes there is no answer just more questions. We read our Bibles, we seek support from like-minded friends. But we always know that God will pick up the pieces, and the answers eventually appear. Something will make sense, often only in hindsight.

God made family, and taught us about relationship through his family – his Son – Jesus came into the world and taught the Word through stories and explanations that were geared to man who finds a lot of words complicated. He explains in pictures, and clarifies by visual aids, always be sharing our stories and activities, the shepherds, the women at the well, the things we do wrong – he makes right. Marriage starts family – it started with Adam and Eve and that is why when we get it wrong – it seems so wrong. But God forgives us and let’s us try again, and that is why we are both so eternally grateful that we both could do that.

 

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Here is to marriage – the ups and downs, the courage it gives to try new things, and the support and love that it gives out to the smaller members of our family and the elderly who don’t have the strength to do things anymore.

 

Pull up a chair and let’s talk….

 

Something about talking to someone in a cafe or sitting at a table and chair with a coffee and maybe at the dining room with a meal..  You set the scene, you invite intimacy and revelation. Cafes endeavour to do this with the use of old comfortable furniture, or the vibrancy of the colour theme, even the dark, dimly lit corners. There are plenty of outside options for communicating sit down picnics, barbeques, sitting on verandahs with a wine or on the beach.

We can do both at home and we have a vibrant colourful backdrop of green trees and often a cooling breeze coming off a creek below our home to create atmosphere. Or we can sit inside with groups of couples or just one couple to enjoy a more intimate conversation.

All of that can create atmosphere but its often not the location, the scene or the look of a place that invites intimacy – it is the relationship that you have with the person opposite. The time you spend with them, the discussion that you have about food or activities, or emotional journeys that develop a friendship.

Sometimes you feel a yearning and desire to recreate this -so off you go again to another part of the world with your favourite person, or just your family to get that wonderful feeling again.

I have been reliving relationship journeys with some very interesting people who have written their life journey in books. One which fascinated me is Saroo Brierley’s incredible description of the heartache of his first long journey when he was five years old, very poor, endeavouring to match his brother for attitude and bravery to get food or something to sell to supplement his income – in a railway station. So he ends up on a train, locked into the carriages and thousands of miles away in Calcutta. His brother had disappeared, and he had no money or any language the same as these others in another part of India. He knew no Bengali, I think he spoke Hindi. He survived nearly being pimped, having no food and sleeping out until somehow he ended up in an orphanage. They fed and washed and clothed him – until an Australian couple adopted him. He came to Tasmania, very bewildered but hopeful as these people were much richer in education, home life and family support than in his home village. He missed his family terribly and eventually though the support of  a girl friend and Google Maps he located his home. The movie “Lion” and his book ” A long way home” are amazing accounts of his emotional turmoil and eventual return to his home.

Latika Bourke’s story is similar. She was handed to a Catholic orphanage in India by her desperate mother, and then came to Australia as a small baby. She had no language, her siblings were two Australian children and two other Indian orphans not related. She ran from her past then eventually visited and fell in love – her big disadvantage was no language and no memories of her family. Her book “From India with love” documents this journey.

Both have benefited hugely from their adopted situations and family and are using this knowledge to return, support their families or orphanages and countries.

Their journeys highlight our need for common experience, language and interests to develop a conversation. My diverse travel experiences have shown me that when we trekked, walked and used one or several of the common ways of travel in a country – we met more people and had really interesting connections with them.

When you cut yourself of and use the tourist way you limit your conversations and ability to communicate with the locals. Location is not a common bond, it is the common experiences and desire to communicate.

 

 

New York, New York

This has to be the most amazing and vibrant place – New York. I started this blog about nine months ago when I was sitting in an apartment in the most exciting city in the world, thinking how nice it would be to have my husband here with me. He would have enjoyed being there!

Then almost a year later I can look back on a vibrant and exciting time spent with my two families. Last year became gradually then snowballed into a wonderful year. We travelled extensively, I guess that is what middle aged folks do.  We have celebrated a double 88th birthday for Stephen’s Mum and her twin with the Noesgaard family in New Zealand. Naomi went to NY and Toronto to stay with my eldest daughter, Sophie then later on that month I was single in NY with my eldest daughter and we had a ball, we went to every museum and location that we could fit in to a two week period –  and celebrated her work as a stage manager.

Stephen and myself went to Melbourne via visits to Maureen and Bruce, then Auntie Anne, Jo and Tim. We both enjoyed watching Tim’s row with a team across the Pacific, Jo’s Larapinta run and we had some time with them with food and their new Unit. And just recently they announced their engagement.

We organised a small celebration for my Mum’s 90th birthday, then up to Darwin for a new baby, loving up the family with grand daughter Pippa, the dogs, our grand dogs,  Jess’s Dad Rod, and some family time with Jess and Andrew. Meeting baby Patrick. Meanwhile popping in to Naomi’s church and enjoying her meals and her support at home. See what a diverse bunch they all are…..

We have had some wonderful time with friends in between…..little did I know that this year would have had such a huge diversity of experiences. We hope that this time has made a difference for the special people in our lives – and we have gone a little deeper in our relationship with each other and as we love our Church Community as well, with our God.

Love has got to be simple ….. why do people, their customs, and all manner of life complicate it. “Love takes no pleasure in evil, but rejoices in the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” Cor 13 vv7-8

Everyone is meant to love everyone else in the sense of friendship. For our close relationship with one person, we choose, or our parents help us, or our friends help us choose one mate for life and we create family from that coupling. And on the story of our family grows.

I never expected my life to be more complex than that, but then I hadn’t explored our family from a generational point of view and I have discovered many more complex relationships and lives. Death doesn’t visit us as often, when it does it is devastating unless it is a parent reaching a ripe old age – then we feel that they have had the opportunity to live a full life.

Exploring our families past has given me a much richer understanding of my own parents – they have had very challenging lives. My father grew up in India, where the Raj was becoming much less relevant, when the division was discussed, and he saw Gandhi in the streets – so he did understand the complexity of the politics. Then returning to the UK – he had to adjust to a much more independent lifestyle – no servants, no need to interpret his needs into another language, different foods, habits and culture to adjust to. Then World War 2 with its demands on England and my father who technically was on call as a former member of the Royal Horse Artillery, Eventually he joined the Commandos, and took part in one of the most iconic events of the British fight for survival, D Day. He fought for a month – survived that and had a break and then went back got to one of the German rivers and was wounded.  Amazing he survived and he never discussed it a lot with us.

He married for love – and that relationship was a very stable one, and a very positive one for all of us. We base our understanding of life love and happiness on our family of origin. Thank goodness Dad was a loving, caring and happy man – I was able to deal with my failed first marriage with a lot more understanding, and recover more completely because my first relationship with my Dad was secure, positive and loving.

This security reflects on my current relationships with my siblings,  and my second husband, and my current family  – I know Dad would have said that “Just relax Moira” “Don’t be so serious all the time”. He always laughed and chided us very sweetly. Here is a picture of him – I always look on him as a very special person -I really think he would have loved New York as much as I did!

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My Dad – one Christmas in the 1990’s

 

 

 

 

 

 

the wished for travel plans

New Zealand is one of the most interesting places in the world for many reasons – beautiful scenery, safe and pleasant places to visit, spectacular places for bungy jumping, whitewater rafting, skiing, and it is very easy to travel there once you have overcome any money issues with buying tickets for cruises, plane travel, hire cars and hotels.

I have a lot of personal reasons for loving New Zealand, both my married partners have been born there, my sisters partners have been born there, and way back in 1907 to 1909 my grandfather ran a business there, and one of my aunts was born in New Zealand. My Dad wanted to migrate to New Zealand, it is a small place to live, a parliamentary democracy, and he must have known of his father’s failed attempt to live full time there, he envisioned his small family being happy in a climate not unlike Great Britain, and there are a lot of expats on the two islands. It was not to be – we didn’t have much money and my mother is very conservative when the choice was a cheaper well supported migration to Australia versus a more expensive trip to New Zealand where the government expected us to be more independent and find our own jobs, homes and initial accommodation.

I decided to go to New Zealand in the middle of my University degree, I had lived at home for the first two years and was finding it limiting. I had a younger sister who was not very communicative – just finishing her schooling, and tied up with her own friends. And a younger sister and brother just starting their school lives. Mum and Dad were happy to encourage me as I had found out that the Women’s Hospital in Auckland would accept students studying allied health ( I was doing Social Work) – would be accepted to work as Nurses Aides in the University vacation, I applied and found they would allow me to stay at the Nurses Home, feed me – all for a modest amount from my pay.  Bring it on….

I organised my place trip (return) – all of $Au350  and a bus trip at the end of my stay for $Au200 with a plane trip back to Auckland from Christchurch.  Off I went – I spent hours sewing a new trouser suit in pink, so I would look smart for my trip! I arrived in Auckland, and had a taxi to the Hospital, got setup in the Nursing Home. I worked for eight weeks there – I made friends with the local girls, even had a date with one of my friends friends on a motor bike, flying around Auckland!  One of the Sisters there drove us to Rotorua ( she was terrified of our plans to hitchhike) – we hitchhiked back safely. Then we decided to be taken with Maori friends up north of Auckland near the Kauri forest to a Batch for the weekend. To this day I am convinced that is was near Ballys Beach near Matakohe, Ruawi, Dargaville etc where my current husband grew up.

Then I ditched my bus trip and got my money back (unheard of today) and hitchhiked around to Dunedin with a new found friend. Then bused to Queenstown where I stayed in the local youth hostel and boringly bused it back to Christchurch where I met a mountaineering friend who took me to a movie where I promptly fell asleep. I stayed with his friends in the front room of a house ( I seemed to spend a lot of time in Students housing – and old New Zealand front rooms with my new found friends). Before I flew back to Auckland picked up luggage and got home safely.

I was an attractive single girl and had been very conservative in my choices so that I was unscathed but I had met some scary people on our hitchhiking jaunts and I must admit – it was a much subdued and experienced person that returned.

Since those years I have had several hospital experiences including a broken hip – hospitalized for six weeks, marriage with two children with illnesses and various hospitalizations, and divorce, a remarriage, two stepchildren, one who is married (step daughter-in-law) and a step grandchild who is so precious!, several overseas trips with others – after all these crazy experiences I have decided to go on another overseas jaunt by myself.

This one is a biggee!   It is to New York – why New York you ask.  Well I have never been to America and the first taste of that continent was a two week visit to my cousin on Vancouver Island – with a trip to the Rockies, because we were there and we decided we needed to fit that in. Moose tours are the greatest.

My eldest daughter is going to be there for work and I want to be with her on that fantastic experience. It’s now booked I have to go, and I booked my first three nights – I have got my work holidays – prepared my husband who does not want to go at all, and I am ready to go!  Bring it on…..

When you discover forgotten heritage

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In 1818 a lady called Margaret Jane was born in Calcutta, in Bengal – she was born to a British father, (my great, great, great grandfather) and a Bengali mother. She must have had a fairly normal Bengali/British childhood and she was very likely brought up as a Christian because many “Indo-British” were Christian. In order to marry in a church, native Indian women became Christian. Also acceptance of spirituality has a place in Indian cultures. In those days, also, there was a strong church going culture among working class British living anywhere in the world.

She grew up and when she was 17 she married a 27 year old Scottish soldier called William Duffin Jardine, he had joined the 54th regiment in Edinburgh, when he was 20 years old. He probably would have had a Scottish burr to his voice, he was 5 ft 6 inches tall with fair hair and black eyes and fair complexion. He was stationed in the East Indies fairly early on in 1828 in Cannanore near Kerala on the East coast of India, then he was stationed at Trichinopoly, that is where he met and married Jane Holdin, Indo-Briton at St Johns Church of Scotland – it still exists on google maps on St Johns Church Road in Trichinopoly.

They had several children, and she managed to cope despite the fact she was a soldiers wife, she and William and more children,traveled to Madras then north to Agra, Gwalior, Dinapore and finally back in Bengal where she grew up . They traveled/lived in many more towns than I have mentioned here. William moved from the 54th to the 39th and then to the 98th foot to be in India with his growing family and stay close to Margaret.

Mary Ann was the first daughter, she was born in 1835 and died forty years later in Calcutta. John came in 1837 and dies a year later. Then William Edward was born in 1839 and he seemed to have survived. But the daughter that concerns me is Margaret born in 1844, followed closely by her sister Jane in 1847. Four daughters and a son.

Margaret Jane dies in November in Calcutta in 1857 leaving William with teenage children. William is lonely and needs a woman to help with his household. He eventually later on married or lived with a Portuguese/Indian lady called Josephine Maria DeCotta and he then has Ada, Ella, Daisy and Winifred.  Combined with his first household of four young women, he has eight girls and one boy altogether!

At this stage he may have been part of a Tea Dealing and Drapery firm Jardine, Skinner and Company – he was a tea dealer and a draper, based in one spot Calcutta. My great-grandfather was in the 92nd Regiment of Gordon Highlanders, and after coming to India in 1857, and spent a few years mopping up operations after the Indian Mutiny the regiment came to stay in Fort William, Calcutta.  William Jardine may have spotted him at church or a a picnic or dance – there was alot of social life in the British garrisons, and decided to introduce him to his daughters.

David Imrie Junior rather liked his younger daughter Margaret, He had a kind heart and Margaret’s story was sad. Despite being a very pretty young lady, she had been a widow who had already been married twice. Thomas Frodsham died of Jungle Fever in 1863, then Charles Matthew Penny of Cholera in 1864 a month after they married. Both diseases were very prevalent in India, and both laid waste to many Indians and Europeans alike at this time. She had been Margaret Frodsham, then Margaret Penny, before she met a handsome soldier of the 92nd Highlanders with a Scots accent like her Dad, William Jardine.

David Imrie (my great grandfather from Dunkeld a town bordering the  Highlands) was an interesting fellow, his father had married twice and he had become a chemist late in life after writing some very prestigious poetry which had been published. David Junior was more of an outdoors man, he loved doing things and joined the army to get somewhere and travel and be adventurous. His exotic girlfriend was a quarter Bengali, could speak the language, and English fluently – and had a Scottish father, what a find!

They married in 1865, My great grandfather retrained as a Locomotive Driver and they moved around the countryside to follow the East India Railway and they had eight children including my grandfather William Imrie.

We were aware that including my Dad, there were three generations of my British side living in India. Despite the link to India in our family, Dad never spoke of any Indian connection that was native, and we all had no inkling there were deeper connections to that amazing country! We are all absolutely thrilled and look forward to more discoveries, I am already looking out for Bengali customs, locations, food, anything to broaden an understanding of an amazing culture and heritage.

The happiness of your favourate pet – for me – my dog

A beautiful Maremma dog we met in the Bunya Mountains
A beautiful Maremma dog we met in the Bunya Mountains

Dogs are the most loyal, responsive, happiest, and also the silliest or naughtiest occasionally,  animal to own. Over the years my family and myself have owned a few different varieties of the four pawed canine.

Small varieties include sausage dog or a variety of dachshund that my parents owned before my father passed away. My father could do anything with this little dog, he sat where Dad sent him to, he submitted to Dad brushing away any fleas or ticks he had accumulated on their walks together. Dad ended up on a mobile scooter going down the road, and the dog would be sitting on it happily, or as equally happily trotting beside the small vehicle. Dad had looked after horses all his life and occasionally dogs and cats, and he had this amazing rapport with anything four legged.

Some of the dogs he acquired over the years were less successful. We had an absolutely crazy Border Collie, Dad was sure that it would be a good idea because it would love having walks. She was called Bonnie, and was always enthusiastic about anyone who paid her any attention and she lived in our kitchen, which was tiny, on her square of foam and blanket. She barked at the milkman and postman, every time. I loved taking her for walks, as we would go through the footpaths at the back of the area we lived to fields, or the local playing fields and we could let her off and she would go crazy. She had so much energy, she would run for miles. Then sadly we had to leave her behind, after she had been spade, which would have calmed her down. We were migrating to Australia.

In Australia we waited a while before acquiring dogs. One of the silliest animals Mum and Dad owned was a Basset Hound called Peter. I think my brother and littlest sister thought up the name, just to be silly. His biggest attribute was the ability to mark his territory with his pee. One day we were all home and my sister’s boyfriend had brought a cake for all of us, placed in a cardboard box, and he though he would surprise us by leaving it outside the front door, to eventually bring in. Peter considered that it was definitely smelled as if it needed marking and when Paul decided that he would produce his surprise he brought his offering in to my sister with a very obvious wet patch. We laughed so much we nearly collapsed. It was the funniest thing to have happened for a long time. The boyfriend stayed!

My first husband and I acquired a gorgeous, lovely Rhodesian Ridgeback male dog to accompany one daughter, two cats, chooks and assorted goats. That was ok as we had five acres and needed some animal to tear around it, and this dog was tied to a running chain from the house to his kennel, which was in a shady spot.

He hated being apart from us, his herd, and he would howl if we went down the road to visit anyone, Eventually he would stop howling and if you got away without him noticing, all would be well. He would put his whole head on your lap and look with loving brown eyes up to you.

We moved to Cairns and he came with us, and on the trip up he found a Salami sausage in the Esky and thought he would snack on it. As a result of him we had an ordinary rental up there, but we took him for walks every day, in the parks, drop him home so we could go swimming, or we would play in the parks. I had my second child with him around and both children adored him.

He got used to being in the back of the Land Rover with the occasional goat. He got shot at once, and the spine and vital organs were just missed. The neighbour took a pot shot as he was off the lead just once in all the years we owned him, and he had gone to their chook yard to investigate. Several hundred dollars later he took a while to recover, the neighbour came over to check on him, but we weren’t much impressed.

Eventually when my first marriage was over we had to put him down, as I couldn’t manage dog, cat, and children in a rental property with no fence. That was a very sad day for me, he was fine the vets were familiar, he just quietly went to the big dog heaven in the sky.

Since then we have had to borrow dogs, in that we vicariously own them through others. We have two grand dogs. A Spaniel and a Staffordshire Terrier, both very enthusiastic at chasing balls, and both great friends – they will fight over balls but sleep beside each other at night.

And last weekend there was Millie, I have fallen in love with Kelpie’s. I have no room for one, we only own a small house block. But I love them because they are so enthusiastic. She has an older, grizzled partner in crime, Nellie who is just as fast, but wears out quicker, Millie is brown and tan with a quizzical expression, and she is very trainable. She sits and lies down and loves to do what you ask. She didn’t bark when we came into her owners property, she and Nellie just raced up to us and jumped for joy to see more people. A Kelpie needs a farm, and acres to run in. These dogs have that and they are so happy. They chase the chooks and the big rooster pecks back telling Millie off! Millie doesn’t care she is doing things, making sure things are done, and is always ready for a pat. Her owner gave me a hammock to lie to to rest, and Millie had to check it out and see if I hadn’t disappeared.

Last but not least is the Maremma dogs. They are courageous, loving and supportive to their charges and the most quietest dogs ever, We stayed on a property in the Bunya Mountains for three nights and one slept on the front verandah of our hut the whole time. That was his night time spot and we tripped over him to go out on our little verandah for breakfast. One is pictured on the image for this blog entry, which is his brother or sister.

Recently we went to see one star in a movie called “Oddball”. Because this maremma decided that he liked little penguins and would protect them from sharp eyed foxes and any other critter that would swim to this island off Victoria and attack and destroy the colony of Fairy Penguins there. The National Parks have been experimenting with maremma and it works, the fairy penguins have started to reproduce again.

What more can I say….

“A dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three times before lying down.” —Robert Benchley (humorist and actor, Broadway Melody of 1938)