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Royal Easter Show – 70 years on

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This week I went to the Royal Easter Show with my daughter Lulu. We always get on well at the show as we generally like the same things.

As I wandered around the show surrounded by the young and old all enjoying the sights, I reflected on my years going to the Show.

I remembered my early years at the show – in those days it was at Moore Park in the Eastern Suburbs. It was in my pre teen days and I always went by my maternal grandmother. Gran and I would get up early, have breakfast and then off. She lived in Bondi Junction, is it was a short bus ride to the Show.

We often got there extra early, lining up to be one of the first in the gates. We enjoyed all the usual sights, the exhibits marveling at the huge displays of country fruit and vegetables. We enjoyed the prize winning crafts – the most amazing handmade embroidery and hand knitted sweaters and clothes. And then there were the prize cats and all the other animals.

Lunch was at the Country Women’s Association tent – a cup of tea and home made scones with jam and cream. I remember telling one of the ladies how much better their tea was. She replied that “it was the friendship that went into the pot” that made it so good. I have always remembered that and still love a cuppa at the CWA tent. We used to finish the day watching the ring events in the evening. I have to say these days the fresh oysters and a sample of a prize winning Sauvignon Blanc are more my style.

This year Lulu and I watched the dogs herding all the sheep into their stalls. We enjoyed looking at all the beautiful Alpacas. I am hoping the Alpaca wool I bought gets made into the beanie. Maybe wishful thinking. but I still enjoy sitting down and watching the Women’s Weekly cooking demonstrations. Maybe, once again wishful thinking. But, the chicken and broccoli bake did look good!

I miss the cupid dolls on the stick in their pretty dresses and wonder what little girls go home with to remind them of their day at the show. It’s probably been 70 years since I started going to the Show. I have missed many years in between but it I still enjoy it and the memories that it brings.

The Miracle of the Lights

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New York….We were off to New York. Paul, my husband, got a job on a newspaper in New York. He flew off within a week and I was left to pack up and rent out our home in Sydney. The children had to leave their schools and me my job. We took a large Greek ship to New York, a five week trip

When we arrived, Paul had found us a temporary apartment in Tarrytown a seventy minute train trip from Manhattan. Tarrytown was a very pretty suburban town in upstate New York. Like many suburban towns a car was a prerequisite. Public transport (except for a train to the city) was non existent. As our finances were pretty low and we were planning to buy a house close to the city in a place called Hoboken in New Jersey, we did not want to spend money on a car. A friend of Paul’s offered us an old and dilapidated Kombi van which he used for his annual shooting trip. He was more than happy having it used and garaged for the duration of our stay in suburbia.

I was rather hesitant at driving this large vehicle, especially as I was not used to driving on the wrong side of the road. I did manage to take us to Manhattan one day which certainly boosted my confidence.

One afternoon in midwinter, I took the children to the local township for some shopping and hot chocolate. As we left, I realised I was facing the wrong way to go home. The traffic was heavy as the workers were coming home so I thought I would make a turn at the next street and it would. bring me back to the main street facing the right direction. No, it didn’t. I found it went further and further out of town and I was in the middle of a traffic jam with a slow snake of traffic trying to make it to somewhere. I also realised that the darkness with coming in very quickly and I remembered that the lights didn’t work.

I tried to keep the children in a good spirit and not to have them start the usual “are we there yet?”. I didn’t like to tell them that I had no idea where “there” was and if we would ever get “there” I hopefully turned the lights on. Took a deep breath and nothing happened. It was still late dusk so I would see where we were going and hoped that I would notice something familiar and we would be home. The traffic was still creeping along.

All of a sudden I noticed the car in front was lit up. It couldn’t be, it was. The light had somehow turned on. I figured that I would somehow find our way home in time as long as we could see our way. We got home about fifteen minutes later and turned off the lights when we parked the car. The lights never came on again although I made sure we were never out at night. A miracle? I still wonder.

A Dream is Realised

Lulu is the youngest of my four daughters. Her real name is Lucy Matilda. The Lucy became Lulu from her three older sisters calling her Lu and it quickly became Lulu. She was called Matilda as her second name after the hospital she was born in Hong Kong, where we were living.

Lulu was born five years after my third daughter and it was often thought she was an accident child, but in fact, while not exactly planned she completed my dream of having four daughters. I had loved the novel “Little Women”. It is the story of a woman in the southern USA who was bring up her four daughters while her husband was fighting in Civil War. To me growing up, I always thought that it was the ideal family.

After having three daughters in three years, I began to think that maybe four children was a bit much, especially since we had moved to Hong Kong and I was able to go back to work and had two amah’s looking after the house and the children. But, I still dreamt of that fourth daughter. One day. I realised I was pregnant. Looking at the problems associated, I realised that this was a great place to have another child as I could get a Baby Amah (as nannies were called there) and still continue my career.

While I was hoping for my fourth daughter, my husband Paul was sure that this was the boy he had always wanted.

I continued working at my job as Managing Editor of the “Far East Asia Medical Journal” with the house running well with the amah’s looking after the children and the household chores.

I was not sure exactly when my baby was due as those things were not as an exact science as they are now. My male boss ignored my growing tummy, so I thought I would too and stay at work until I felt the need to stop.

Christmas 1968 came and went and I was back at work feeling that something must happen soon. Just as I put the finishing touches to another issue of the magazine, I was about to leave for home when I realised my waters had broke. Not knowing exactly what to do, I waited until most of the staff had left for the day and I slowly walked out of my office on the 19th floor of a major office block in central Hong Kong.

Before I left, I called my husband whose office was only a couple of blocks from mine. His secretary said that he had left for the squash courts and she wasn’t sure of the number there. I thanked her and left the office to find a taxi. It was 5.30 and there was, what seemed to be most of the workers of Hong Kong moving out of their offices. I some how found a vacant taxi and realised I had one of the taxi drivers that didn’t know any English, but at least he knew where the Matilda Hospital was. I remembered that a Chinese friend had written in Chinese “Take me to Matilda Hospital at the Peak. Quickly. I am having a baby”.

Somehow, we made it as the extremely scared driver fought his way through the traffic jams. We made it in record time.

Lulu was eventually born two days later. And I got my dream family of four daughters.