Postcards and Family

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Survivor of the 1950s this card has been around the world a couple of times or maybe more. It’s a picture of The Square, Caerau in South Wales taken somewhere in the 50s.

Now, South Wales to me growing up was always “where nan came from”. I didn’t know her, she died a year before I was born. But i’d heard snippets of stories from those who had dared to cross the border into England. Questions were usually answered with vague “…a long line of miners, from villages that now resemble ghost towns, and a big family…”  My nan was the eldest of six children but crossed the border shortly after the war and began a decade or so of following my grandpa and the British Army across Europe.

On my last trip to the northern hemisphere I took a few days to visit the town that house my family. Not sure if it was due to the rain, but all I remember is empty streets and middle-aged men leaning over dusty pub bars. A melancholy story of villages that died when the mines closed and the people left. Saying that, there was an amazing Indian restaurant just outside Caerau that did the best korma I’d ever had in Wales.

I’d like to say the picture in the photograph had changed almost sixty years later but alas it hadn’t. The only difference is the subtle weathering of time.

On this same trip back to yesteryear I acquired a photo album that had been put together by my grandpa shortly after my nan died. The pictures telling a story of the young welsh girl that married a chelsea boy and travelled together with their little soldiers in tow.

The above postcard is the only postcard in the album, and I always assumed it was grandpa showing where nan was born. I turned the page many times before today, when I decided to peel over the plastic and have a peek at what could be on the other side.

It was a treasure, a written time capsule, and further clues to wet the appetite of this amateur-family-historian…

There are three awesome things about this postcard:

1. It was written by my great nan Edith to my nan Iris.

2. It places my grandpa, nan, dad and uncles in Hemlyn, Germany in 1956.

3. The handsome man crossing the street is identified as my grand uncle Arthur Edwards.

In one postcard, 50 words or so, and blue ink scribble I got an insight into another world. I had questions. Lots of questions.

Filled with the inner joy of seeing something written by my great grandmother who had always been a name and a face in a photo album, Edith came to life as a concerned and caring mother scribbling a note to her eldest daughter.

The picture of my grandpa’s military career came to life as I read about the reasons for British occupation in Germany during the 50s, and the accomplishments made by his regiment. I got a glimpse into what dads life would have been like as a six year old english boy living in Germany, and my beautiful nan raising three small boys while her husband was stationed at the barracks. It made a great Sunday conversation with the old man.

I also put an image to my nan’s uncle Arthur whom i’d only known as a councillor and possibly a communist, from soundbite stories overheard.

Postcards capture moments of a particular time and place. It is incredible when we can dig into the story behind the pictures and words… I wonder who the other people are? I wonder what there story is?… Knowing Careau possibly another distant relative?

Beijing Shenanigans #1

Day One:

Patchwork pavement and hutongs hidden in between busy bustling streets of pedestrians, cars, cyclists and rickshaws.

The rules are: There are no rules!

It’s all open to suggestion and mostly interpretation.

After a long flight from Melbourne this sleepy girl walked into summer and oh my! It hid hard, very hard. Within seconds she had shed the multiple layers of winter wardrobes and was shuffling through an Asian filled city looking for reprieve.

Her first afternoon was spent in a shopping plaza home to an assortment of mechanical dinosaurs and all to familiar retail chains. Except everything was written in hanzi – it was VERY disorientating!

But she found her way and before long she was strolling alongside the hutongs in search of sustenance. She came across a bright red cafe filled with happy smiling Asians so decided to venture forth.

Her biggest challenge: CHOPSTICKS

She’s never caught onto the idea and never been good at it. Tonight was no exception… She did manage to hold them in a rather special way and is sure the chefs behind the shiny silver grills were having a good laugh at her expense. Although despite the grease going EVERYWHERE she did her most dumplings and pork balls where they were meant to be… And it was a yummy introduction to Chinese cuisine!

Now of to neverneverland before Day 2 comes and she finds herself in the Forbidden City…

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Introducing Jasper…

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If I had a super power it would be the ability to read dog’s minds. I would love to know what exactly Jasper was thinking when I took this photo.

Tucked into the corner of the black leather couch I had my iPhone aimed in his direction as he perched his long dangly King Charles Spaniel Cavalier legs over my mums resting arm as she attempted to have a nap. Above the sofa was my our little white terrier running along as if he were the night watchman on security rounds. Jasper looked up at him as if to say “…Nothing to report here sir”.

Jasper is the youngest of my canine siblings and isn’t as diligent to our security needs as his brother Ollie. Jasper is more inclined to stealthiness and has been labelled the family tea leaf. His favourite spot is the garden where he has many half-buried treasures. His second favourite spot is the corner of the aforementioned couch where he snores like a steam train roaring across old school England.

 

Where is your Oz?

We all know the tale of little young Dorothy who escaped the grey desolate reality of Kansas and was swept away by the adventures in Oz. For those who don’t know, where have you been hiding and here check it out http://youtu.be/vkZcYMy85lY – I’d say rent the DVD but video stores seem to be akin to finding rare diamonds these days.

Oz, in a nutshell, is this marvellous place full of singing munchkins and flying monkeys. Friends can be found in witches (the good ones), scare crows, tin men, and even lions. And if that wasn’t enough  Oz has yellow brick roads leading the way to the Emerald city. It is a magical place full of adventure and where dreams come true. 

AC went back to work today and most of it was day dreaming about Oz, her kind of Oz. It’s not to be mistaken with Aus (the abbreviation of Australia), although to an extent Aus is her Oz because it is a vast amazing country that AC has called home for a decade and there is no place on earth she’d rather be.

Unless, there were a place with yellow brick roads and purple skies. She would imagine a cottage with a white picket fence sat beside a lake full of majestic swans. The gardens would be filled with roses of all the colours in the rainbow. Yellow tulips would hang from baskets and orchids would sprout from vases on the glass table.  She would have a two puppies asleep on the porch and a kitty cat lounging from the window. She would spend her days baking cookies and writing poetry, and wouldn’t have to deal with any stress whatsoever. It would be a place of happiness and the currency would be made in lollipops and other assorted candy. 

There are so many possibilities… tell us what your Oz would look like?

At the strike of the clock….

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Navy sky hovered over the southern cross and Always Chum sat around a garden table with some of her friends. They had glow stick lanterns and fairy lights dangling from the oversized umbrella, while they themselves brightened their crevices with glow sticks and clutched their fingers around little sticks. As they chanted, 5… 4… 3…  2… 1… they lit the sparklers and began a merry dance around the suburban garden as the city beyond the fence lit up the night sky in all flavours of green and gold. 

Twenty random things about AlwaysChum

1. She has climbed Arthurs Seat in Australia and Scotland.

2. She has lived in Melbourne, Australia for ten years.

3. When she was at school she lived on rainbow brownies and spear mint polo’s.

4. Her favourite childhood cartoon was Garfield.

5. She is fascinated by vampires.

6. She once owned a red Ford Capri.

7. She hates mushrooms.

8. Her favourite book is Jane Austen Pride & Prejudice

9. She recently found a new love in Chicken & Prawn Dumplings.

10. She has read Harry Potter more than 3 times each (every book).

11. She loves afternoon naps in Winter.

12. Her favourite show is Doctor Who and Vampire Diaries.

13. She likes walking… but not to far coz her feet get tired easily.

14. She has two canine siblings that live at her parents; Ollie & Jasper.

15. She has had six dogs and three cats over the 28 years she’s been on planet earth.

16. She grew up in a small town and her favourite place in the world is the woods behind her childhood home.

17. She really likes Friday night drinks with friends.

18. She loves to write poetry and be creative.

19. She is finding this challenge quite difficult.

20. She wishes she was as caring, thoughtful and clever as Ellen Degeneres. 

Wow that was hard! Brain like mush… must go rejoin in Christmas eve frivolity.

 

About Always Chum

Always Chum is a carbon based life form found around the coffee shops and parks of Melbourne Metro. She has brown hair and eyes and has dreams about The Doctor taking her across the stars.

This blog has been started as part of her 2014 Action Plan to herself to write more and achieve her goals. With that in mind she decided to start early.

The 2014 Action Plan, is really a list of new years resolutions. Always Chum refrains from using the phrase ‘new year resolution’ as she believes that it provides precedence to automatically fail to achieve them beyond the end of January. The first month doesn’t count.

So here is what she has come up with so far:

1. Establish a physical fitness plan including no more buying coffee, lunch and take-outs. She is quite quickly approaching 30 and believes it about jolly time she started acting remotely like a grown up. Plus she spends a ridiculous amount of dollars on food and spends way too much time watching Doctor Who re-runs.

2. The above should help in the second goal, of producing some sign of savings as she fulfils her life long dream of going to New York in August. Said dream will require monetary support for accommodations and food, not to mention the ticket.

3. The third goal, is to focus on her writing. For example, starting a new blog (hello!). She will also continue to practice her calligraphy and composition of poems some of which may appear here.

That is all she has come up with so far. Boring, we know but hey we got 365 days of the year to come up with new ideas, challenges and goals.