Sunday, January 14, 2018
Sunday, December 31, 2017
Wednesday, December 27, 2017
I wasn’t allowed to put butter in the mashed potatoes. Milk, yes, but not butter, because butter cost money, and money was something that we didn’t have. It’s not a bad memory, just a memory, something I think of as I make mashed potatoes with heapings of butter, standing at the stovetop, reminiscing. It’s always strange making food for one. How many potatoes do you need for one serve of mash? I always get it wrong. We used to weigh it: 3oz of potatoes per person, unless it was for roast, and then at least double. There were plenty of potatoes. We grew whole fields of them, and during winter they were stored in big piles under hessian sacks in the byre. There was a field full of carrots, and I am told my brother ate so many one day during harvest that he completely lost the taste for them. That’s not a real memory, but one I learnt from someone else.
How do you separate memories from stories? Is it a memory I have of asking my dad for popping paper, or do I know it because I have seen it countless times in the video recorded of my childhood? “Daddy, can I have some popping paper?” is not a phrase I remember saying, but a little voice I can hear in my mind from the recording.
I do remember some things. I remember sitting in the car to go to Naas hospital when Jonathan broke his leg. I must have been around five. I remember reading Tintin in the lounge and choosing to stay reading rather than take Jonathan to the airport. At eight, I didn’t realise he wouldn’t be coming back. And when days turned into weeks, and weeks into months, and my brother didn’t return, I remembered reading Tintin and choosing the book over my brother. Is it a bad memory, reading Tintin? No, but I did wish I had gone to the airport instead.
I don’t have many memories of my brothers before they left. I was eight when Jonathan went to Alaska, and around ten for Christopher’s departure. I remember going to Johnny’s Bay, an inlet of Blessington Lake that my brother “discovered.” I remember running through a wasp’s nest, and stopping because Pam had told me never to run away from wasps, and I remember one of my brothers shouting at me to run – and stubbornly standing still until they started to sting me.
Jon and Chris had a chin-up bar at the door of their bedroom, far above my head, and dumbbells that Jon had made and filled with cement. I wasn’t allowed in their bedroom – I shared one with Sarah next to my parent’s room. Jonathan smashed my face into the carpet one day because I refused to leave their room, but more vividly I remember being spanked because I continued to pick the scab on my nose – something I entirely blamed my brother for.
That was when we lived at the house. When we moved to the chalet, Chris’s room was the other end of the building. I don’t remember whether Jonathan had moved to Alaska by this point. Sarah’s and my room was painted the most awful pink, with pink floral curtains and a sickly pink carpet. When Sarah finally moved out, my parents bought me a large blue and cream rug to cover the majority of the carpet, changed the curtains to blue ones, and also painted the walls blue. I don’t think it was so much the hatred of pink as the hatred of having to have pink. Pink coats, pink bedroom, all the dresses that I had to wear because I was a girl.
I remember climbing trees. Jon and Chris climbed higher and with ropes if they couldn’t get up by themselves. I never went that far, but I remember perching at the very top of the laurels and firs, peeking out over the driveway and yelling at passerbys. I don’t ever remember being cautioned not to fall, although Sarah got banned from tree-climbing for tearing too many clothes – also not a memory for me, only for her.
We had rabbits’ offal on toast, for lunch, and sometimes tuna, although never more than a spoonful, but if you scraped it thin enough you could spread it over two slices of toast. In those days, it was usually margarine, and once we got free tubs of sunflower spread from a grocer because they were out of date. Unfortunately, sometimes they had gone off and tasted strong, bitter and rank. Kathy always thought they tasted fine, but she would also drink sour milk and strong butter, when we had it. There were countless lemon biscuits, as they came by the crate load. Matthew Beaney saved a packet for years and years as a memento of those times. Maybe he still has it.
As children, we never had homework. School started at 0830, and finished at 1530, except for the older children, who finished at 1700. When free of school, we had chores which included looking after ducklings, chicks and pet lambs in the spring. My childhood bible lists the names and dates of births of all of my pet lambs under births, deaths and marriages – and yes, it lists the deaths (yum) too! The rest of the time, we were free to roam, unsupervised. We played cops and robbers, dammed the stream, climbed trees, and I’m surprised that Mum ever kept up with the laundry. The outdoors, adventure, and exploring, always held my heart. Of course, I also spent a lot of time playing with Barbies!
It seems like a long time ago, all these memories. I spend so much time now going through the motions of life: going to work, coming home, eating, watching Netflix, and often I forget to remember what’s important. Was it important that we didn’t have money? No. Was it important that we ate offal instead of steak? Well, actually I like offal – Sarah doesn’t. Chris wrote poetry about it “Offal is Awful” but that’s not a bad memory, to me. Chicken hearts were my favourite – and bacon rinds! I don’t know what ever happened to the bacon – I never remember getting any. We were a family, and we were loved, and that’s more important than owning anything, or having nice possessions. I mean, yes, I wanted a coat that wasn’t pink, but that’s not what made me who I am.
If you’re expecting this post to have a meaningful conclusion, I guess that’s it. I was sitting on the couch watching Netflix, and then I started to think about what I was going to have for lunch – bangers and mash – and then I started thinking about butter, and that, your honour, is why I wrote this post.
Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Saturday, November 25, 2017
Christmas tree we helped to build on top of Beerwah.
At the top of Tibro with Tash.
No view on Mt Warning...
The mine: there is actually an underground mine opening that continues down to 1200m.
This is an example of the core they drill to decide where to mine.
Sunday, November 12, 2017
View straight up the cliff from below.
We then climbed around the base of the cliff to continue our ascent along one of the ridges, as clearly, the cliff wasn't going to be our route.
The bare path that looks like a river is our rocky scramble up the bowl: probably about 45 degree slope at a guess? Definitely not as technical as Tib.
From another angle (the opposite side of the bowl)
Made it to the top! A cool picture even if John is unable to keep a horizon straight!
Proof that I did not climb alone. This is John, a friendly climber I met yesterday on Tibrogargan, and who helped me safely navigate Beerwah today.
Tuesday, November 7, 2017
Yes. There was cloud BELOW us, and yes, those are Ben's toes.
Cloud above us too, and Ben's bare feet, as proof for Dad.
Some of what we climbed, with added waterfalls.
A wet and concerned Kate... surely stories of people falling and being unrescuable would scare others too?
When we got back to the bottom I took a photo of Beerwah in the cloud behind us. The cloud was lower when we were ascending: in fact you can see blue to the left, so the rain was clearly easing! Maybe we could have achieved it!