A Holiday in Sydney

•March 4, 2013 • Leave a Comment

We recently went on a trip to Sydney. This was partly to see friends, and partly to give Conor some new experiences. We wanted him to experience a different country, and to see some of the sights that Sydney has to offer that you can’t see in New Zealand. Conor is very keen on animals, and dinosaurs, so we wanted him to see:

I was also keen to see the Francis Bacon exhibition at the Sydney Art Gallery, and once I had seen that it wsa on, the Alexander the Great exhibition at the Australian Museum.

We spent a weekend in Kiama, a nice holiday town south of Sydney. Unfortunately a huge storm hit the east coast of Australia while we were there, and swept down to Kiama our second night, causing much consternation. Continue reading ‘A Holiday in Sydney’

Twilight – a Review

•January 29, 2012 • Leave a Comment

TwilightTwilight by Stephenie Meyer
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I suppose Twilight was tolerable in a lightweight, wanted to see the end of the story sort of way. But, that is the best that can be said of it. I was challenged to read it by my cousin Louise (under the “you shouldn’t condemn it when you haven’t read it” claim – always dubious) and so during a slow reading time I picked it up and finished it. Though I found it dull (and I’m clearly not the target audience!) I did find it interesting from an over-analysing semiotics point of view: it became a game of “spot the cliche” and “spot the obvious symbolism”. The threat to one’s existence of intimacy with a vampire is a metaphor for the moral and physical danger of teen sex (especially in an age of American puritanism and HIV). The heroine is a girl who really is special in a distinctive and unusal way, which is a metaphor for sense of isolation and “special-ness” that all teenagers experience. The heroine is a literal outsider – having moved from the big city to small town America – which is a metaphor for the sense of being an outsider that many teens experience. The group of vampires who are physically and psychically different and superior are this stand in for the normal “in crowd” who are merely socially different or superior. A more detailed reading would find more of thse sorts os things I am sure – all equally banal, obvious and trite. All of which goes some way to explaining the appeal of the Twilight series for teenage girls, but not – alas – for me.

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Pythagoras: His Lives and the Legacy of a Rational Universe

•September 18, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Pythagoras: His Lives and the Legacy of a Rational Universe. Kitty FergusonPythagoras: His Lives and the Legacy of a Rational Universe. Kitty Ferguson by Kitty Ferguson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I was attracted to the premise of the book: that the legacy of Pythagoras – a way of viewing the world as being fundamentally describable with mathematics – imbued much of our modern culture and science. However the execution left a lot to be desired. A long rambling narrative about people who had claimed to be Pythagoreans through history which obscured the wood with the trees was the major issue. An incoherent superficial discussion of modern philosophy, quantum mechanics and postmodernism rounded off this conceptually confused book. I still think there is a great story to tell here about the influence of ancient greek thought our contemporary thought – but it isn’t in this book.

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Judith’s Tribute to Grandma

•June 27, 2011 • Leave a Comment
Grandma, Judith and I

Grandma, Judith and I

Mum was a gentle, mild-mannered person. She was not a judgemental person. She took everything in her stride and never lost her temper. She certainly never swore. I remember after I got my driver’s licence and one day was driving with her in my car I swore at something some other driver did and she said she was glad she never learned to drive if it meant she would swear like Barbara and me.

She loved her grandchildren. I was always amazed at her relationship with all her grandchildren. I recall my relationship with my grandmother which was not good, but Mum was great with her grandchildren, and they loved her equally as much. She waited a long time for great grandchildren and often would say that her sisters and friends had great grandchildren and it didn’t seem as though she would ever have any and then they arrived one after the other and in seven years there were seven of them.

Like most young marrieds Mum didn’t have any mod cons. She did all the washing for a family of five by hand and didn’t have a washing machine until David was born when we were 14, 12 and 10. We didn’t have a fridge until then as well. For many years she cooked on a coal range.

Most of her married life we lived in the country so there were no shops handy. We didn’t have a car and she had to rely on friends to take her to town to shop. Although in those days the butcher and the baker made deliveries to our home.
She made all Barbara and my dresses until well into our teens. She made a great job of each dress. In latter years we found out she hated sewing, but did it because she had to.

Mum was a great baker and cook. She was still trying out new recipes right up until she became ill at the age of 90 years and had to go into a rest home. A lot of her recipes have been handed down and the grandchildren are now using them. Her gingerbread, fudge and porridge biscuits were legendary.

She was a great walker and used to walk for miles and at a fast pace. Until she was well into her 80s she walked into the city which would take her about 40 minutes. Depending on what time the buses came some times she would walk home as well.
We had a lovely celebration to mark her 90th birthday. The whole family were together for the first time for many years. She really looked forward to it and I took her shopping to buy a new dress. She couldn’t make up her mind between a dress and a suit, so bought both. We also went shopping for new shoes and I was instructed to buy her a new handbag. We have some lovely photos to mark that wonderfully happy occasion.

My Saturdays have not been the same since Mum was moved out of Christchurch following the February 22nd earthquake. There has been a big gap in my life.

Our mother was a great lady and we are certainly going to miss her.

Grandma’s Gingerbread Recipe

•June 26, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Ethel Carswell (Grandma) as a young woman

This recipe of Grandma’s for gingerbread is deservedly famous in our family, and graced the back page of the service sheet at her funeral.

Put ¼ lb butter, 1 breakfast cup milk (280mls), 3 large tablespoons golden syrup, 1 breakfast cup sugar into saucepan, bring almost to the boil, add 2 level teaspoons baking soda, pinch salt.
When frothy stir in 2 ½ cups flour sifted with 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 2 teaspoons ginger, 1 teaspoon mixed spice.
Cook for ¾ hour at 350 – 375 Fahrenheit (175 – 190 Celsius).

Barbara’s Tribute to Grandma

•June 26, 2011 • Leave a Comment
Grandma and Barbara about to board a jetboat

Grandma and Barbara about to board a jetboat

Our mother must have been a fighter right from the start. She was the youngest of 10 children born in 1916 to Fitzherbert and Ethel Clarkson, in the backblocks of Victoria, Australia. Tragically, her mother died when she was born and she was brought up by her older siblings and then by a housekeeper who then married her father and by all accounts became the original wicked stepmother. She was just 16 when her father died following an accident in a sawmill. Continue reading ‘Barbara’s Tribute to Grandma’

Kevin’s Tribute to Grandma

•June 26, 2011 • Leave a Comment
Grandma and the Fields

Grandma and the Field family

Hello everyone. I’m Kevin Field. I am the privileged oldest grandchild and I had Grandma all to myself for three and a half years. When I was a wee boy, I often wondered what people thought about this tall woman, striding rapidly into town with a gaggle of grandchildren struggling to keep up. For some reason, this thought stayed with me till I was a young adult and was put into perspective when I heard second hand, a quote from Don when walking with Barbara, “Slow down, you’re not walking with your mother now”. Continue reading ‘Kevin’s Tribute to Grandma’

Ian’s Tribute to Grandma

•June 26, 2011 • Leave a Comment
Grandma and the Carswell family

Grandma with Ian, Jody, Brent, Sally, Tanya and Louise

Good morning everyone. On behalf of the family can I welcome you here this morning and express our appreciation to for being here to support us on this occasion. We are extremely humble that you have been prepared to share your time with us. Continue reading ‘Ian’s Tribute to Grandma’

Doug’s Tribute to Grandma

•June 26, 2011 • 1 Comment
Grandma and Doug

Grandma and me

Like all of you here I loved my Grandma. I had a very special relationship with her – as I think did all of her grandchildren. Not everyone has such a special person and such a special relationship in their lives and we should all remember just how lucky we are to have had Grandma. Continue reading ‘Doug’s Tribute to Grandma’

Goodbye Grandma

•June 26, 2011 • Leave a Comment
Ethel Carswell - our Grandma


My most beautiful and dearly loved Grandma – Ethel Carswell – died the other day – June 16, 2011, and her funeral was held yesterday (June 26, 2011).  Many of the family travelled to turn up to her funeral, despite the issues with the ash cloud and the numerous Christchurch earthquakes. Ethel was a very special person and we will all miss her very much. Continue reading ‘Goodbye Grandma’