Tag Archives: crime

Colette…Friday Fictioneers.

“Colette, ma Cherie. Je t’adore! Ma belle…”

Oh! How the mighty have fallen!

The glass smashed against the mirror and champagne dripped over her shattered reflection. Almost blurred beyond recognition, yet still there…along with an anguish so intense, it burned. Filled her veins with such fury, she had to let it out.

Showered in roses. No broken bones. No bruises. Then, there were the gates. The constant surveillance. Always breathing down her neck, following her every move. She couldn’t breathe.

“Mrs Windsor, back to bed. Your husband’s on his way.”

Colette smiled. The staff were always so obliging.

Rowena Curtin

This was another contribution for Friday Fictioneers. PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

 

Soggy Weekend Coffee Share

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

This weekend, I recommend you find yourself a good pair of gumboots and jump in a few puddles. No one knows you around here. So, it doesn’t really matter if you embarrass yourself. Besides, you’ll probably only get a few death stares from the local duck population wanting to evict you from their “pond”. You could say, that they’ve made a “pond conversions” to the  local potholes. Just call them “duckgineers”.

Well, you’re in luck today because you can try my “Christmas Cake”. In typical fashion, I stumbled across an intriguing recipe just before Christmas but the cake needed to rest for two months. So, this Christmas Cake was never going to be ready in time for Christmas and to compound my stupidity, this recipe made enough cake to feed an entire shearing shed. It contained 3kgs of dried fruit alone. It’s called the Aussie Harvest Cake and has grated apple in it and for the dried fruit, I used included figs, dates in addition to the usual sultanas and raisins and made for an interesting, moist and dense cake.

Anyway, I thought you might like to try a slice.

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The local radio station broadcast from my daughter’s school last week.

Speaking of cooking, last Monday local radio hosts, Rabbit & Julie broadcast live from my daughter’s school. The Julie of this  combo is Julie Goodwin, Australia’s first Masterchef. Knowing JULIE was coming to the school, I was up the freeway in a flash armed with my camera and copy of her cookbook. I was so excited and gushed profusely, embarrassingly so, but I met JULIE!! You can read about it here.

 

This year, I’ve backed off from my blog for a bit to follow up on the wealth of experiences we had on our three week trip to Tasmania. This has not only involved getting the photos printed and sorted. It’s also involved capturing my husband’s personal and family history. Although you can join Ancestry, that gets expensive and I have found a free, alternative source of much of my research…the online newspapers. For better of worse, unless your ancestors were very rich or well-known, most of what you pick up is things like court cases, criminal matters or acts of sheer stupidity. So, these research escapades can be rather intriguing, entertaining…or horrific.

I have been doing this research at a rather intense and rapid pace. So, my head has become something like a story calculator or processor adding up all these details and cross-referencing individuals and being rather surprised to find some very strong trends throughout. One of the interesting ones was that quite a few branches of Geoff’s family were involved with horse breeding, racing, trotting, pacing and even journalism. That really surprised me. I’ve also come out of all this research feeling that life is very random, yet not. Or, perhaps it is your fate that’s random. There are those people who die young and others who pass in their nineties.It made me feel like God was playing around with a couple of dice up there in heaven. Yet, there were strong threads as well such as a strong scientific mind, which spread across the board. I still don’t know quite what to make of it all.

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All this ploughing through the old newspapers has certainly dug up a lot of stories involving the family and local area. There was the sighting of a flying saucer at George Town. There was the guy who had 5-10 whiskies and “no lunch” who then drove his truck home but skidded and flipped it on a turn losing his life. At the inquest, when the coroner asked if he was inebriated after drinking all that whisky, a couple of witnesses said: “no”. Anyone who can walk after that much whiskey, must have a cast iron constitution. Shame, it didn’t carry across into his driving capacity. Of course, these days you’d be taking away his keys and giving him a lift.

This coming week, is going to be very full-on.

Our son turns 13 on Wednesday…the beginning of the “Teenage Years”. I’m surprised that there hasn’t been an American sitcom by that name. Or, perhaps there has and I’ve just missed it. I don’t know whether you’d class it as humour or horror  and how you’d rate it but there’s never be a dull moment.

Thursday…Thursday 9th March…is the Selective High Schools Test. This is being held all around NSW for our selective, academic schools. Our daughter, who is currently in a selective primary school class, along with most of her class mates, will be sitting for the test. It’s been hanging over us for more than a year and as much as you’d like to pretend it’s not hovering in the shadows, it’s there.

My reasonings for her to attend the selective high school, are quite complex. Naturally, you want the best for your child and ideally every kid gets the opportunity to feel comfortable, be accepted and not be “the outcast”. This can be a real issue for bright students. Yet, I’ve really noticed how well the kids get on in my daughter’s class and a number of them have told me that they struggled to fit in at their old school but feel comfortable now. That’s really important. After all, even if you enjoy time on your own, that should be a choice. All these kids get on really well together  and it would be really great to see them stay together and also meet up with similar, like-minded people. From this perspective, selective schools aren’t just about being elitist but also allow birds of a feather to flock together.

What I have also noticed, is that many of the kids in my daughter’s class aren’t just academic high achievers, but they’re also high achievers in other fields like chess, dancing, music and sport. This means that when you get these kids together in a class, you create a fertile breeding ground for all sorts of ideas and skills and it’s not necessarily just about academics. That said, moving into high school, academics is going to become more important.

So, I would really appreciate your prayers for my daughter, her friends and our local kids to get into our local selective school. There’s a lot of talk about kids in Sydney opting for our local selective school as it has a lower entry mark. They can catch the train up from Sydney quite easily. Moreover, they’re heavily tutored when many local families can’t afford that. Local kids who are really bright, probably still make it in and I’m not too sure whether the hoards from Sydney are a fabrication but there’s definitely a contingent and they must be taking away local places.

Anyway, that’s me on my soap box for this weekend. Speaking of the weekend, it’s almost over here and Monday’s looming overhead like a bad smell. Wish it would go away!

How has your week been? I’d love to hear from you

This has been another Weekend Coffee Share  now hosted by Nerd in the Brain and you can click here for the linky.

Best wishes,

xx Rowena

 

 

Tasmanian Cheese Temptation.

“I can resist everything except temptation.”

– Oscar Wilde

There’s an unwritten code at free tastings. It’s understood that “a taste”, does NOT equate to a free feast. Yet, who hasn’t gone back for more? Seconds? Thirds? No one’s watching. Or, are they???!!!

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After all, is that mirror really a mirror? Or,  is it actually a two-way, and they’ve employed the ultimate in nerdy bean counters to count how many pieces you’ve snaffled? That’s right. They could be paying someone to sit in a back room all day, every day, counting how many “tastes” we’ve each had.
I had my doubts. Yet, was I prepared to take a chance?
As you might recall, the family and I are on a three week holiday in Tasmania. Last night, at least as far as the blog is concerned, we drove back “home” from Port Arthur to Devonport. Now, we’re heading off to Ashgrove Cheese, conveniently located on the Bass Highway at Elizabeth Town (this is the road between Devonport and Launceston).

It is an unfortunate truth that the majority of you will never make it to Tasmania and won’t have the opportunity to visit Ashgrove Cheese for themselves. For this reason, I’m only going to touch on the variety of cheeses available and focus more on the universal cheese tasting experience itself. This is something you can hopefully experience closer to home. Ashgrove Cheese is also available in supermarkets on the Australian mainland, although there’s a much greater variety available in Tasmania and through their store and online.

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I’m hoping some of that cow happiness rubs off on me. Bring it on!

Anyway, getting back to the tasting…
With our usual bull-in-a-china shop enthusiasm, we headed for the tasting table. Of course, I should remember which cheeses were out for tasting. However, I was too busy eating and dreaming of cheese, to take in such details. Of course, I remembered the Wild Wasabi Cheese, because we usually have it at home. There was also the Lavender Cheese, which was my favourite, until the kids found the Havarti Cheese with Bacon flavouring. There was also an Ashgrove Smoked Cheddar, Rubicon Red (a red Leicester type of cheese), Mr Bennett’s Blue, Bush Pepper and a Chilli cheese.
This was when I ran into trouble. Make that TROUBLE!!
Obviously, a taste wasn’t enough. I wanted: “MORE!” (remember infamous Oliver Twist!!)
Being powerless to resist temptation, I started to wonder  whether anyone would notice if I just happened to sneak a second piece of Lavender Cheese.
By this point, my taste buds had gone into overdrive and any sense of manners, etiquette or even the sacred Golden Rule,  had gone out the window. All I could hear was that primeval cry straight from the 80’s: “greed is good”. That, and a little wee voice, which could well have been the devil himself, saying: “No one will notice if you take another piece.”

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However, I’m not so sure. Although I’m a foreigner “from the Mainland”, there’s still that persistent fear of getting caught and I’m not sure what they do to people who eat more than their share at tastings.

Do you know if these places have video surveillance? As I mentioned before, I did wonder whether they kept some poor sod out the back who has to count how many pieces of cheese we’ve eaten. Then, anyone who goes back for more is immediately exterminated.

Despite all my moral principles, I could see myself guzzling the entire platter of luscious lavender cheese, when red lights start flashing. Sirens blaring, an announcement now comes over the PA: “Lady, you’ve had 17 pieces of cheese. Please leave the building.”

Or worse still, they might call the cops. Then, I’ll be leaving in handcuffs before being unceremoniously thrown into the paddy wagon…or even in the stocks!
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I was concerned this could be my fate if I kept “tasting” the cheese. You’ll find out more about the reference to “Crackpot” soon.

Yet, as much as I want to keep eating my way through that scrumptious stash of Lavender cheese and move onto the Wasabi with all the stealth of a cunning mouse, I’m restraining myself. There’s still this unwritten code holding me back: “Thou shalt only take one piece.” It might not be one of the Ten Commandments, but going for seconds has got people into a lot of trouble. You just ask some of those poor convicts who’d been transported out to Tasmania when it was still Van Dieman’s Land! Greed isn’t always good after all!

Fortunately, you can buy your own stash of Ashgrove Cheese at the factory and have a serious feast back home. I also bought a few extras as well…coconut ice and caramel fudge, which have nothing to do with cheese and we also had a round of Ashgrove Ice Creams, which is more than worth flying down to Tassie for. They were so yum and when it’s made by “the happiest cows on the planet”, you couldn’t ask for more!

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Nothing like having an ice cream for each hand. Yet, this photo warrants close inspection. My daughter is pretending to be me. She put on my glasses and is “taking photos”. You could say this is a different type of “selfie”!

However, our day of indulgent food tastings didn’t end there.Nor did my battles with temptation!

After leaving Ashgrove Farms, we headed over to Anvers Chocolates at La Trobe. That deserves a write up all of its own. So, stay tuned.

Meanwhile, I’m heading off to convince my cousin that she should re-think her wedding cake. Why have fruit cake, when you could be having a scrumptious Ashgrove Cheese Tower, instead? Besides, cheese is gluten free!!

However, the prospect of a lonely little Cheese Tower, leads me to a whole new level of TROUBLE and I’m now wondering how much time I’d get for stealing a cheese tower? Who knows? I might actually be able to finish writing my book in solitary confinement!

Do you have any cheese confessions to share? I’d love to hear them and I promise I won’t ring the Police!

xx Rowena

Ashgrove Cheese  is located at 6173 Bass Highway, Elizabeth Town, Tasmania 7304.

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I told you they have the happiest cows on earth!

Weekend Coffee Share… 5th February, 2017

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

How are you? I hope you’ve had a great week.

Tonight, I’m encouraging  you to join me for a taste of Tasmania. I’m currently savouring Ashgrove Farm’s Lavender Cheese on crackers and sipping on a bottle of Spreyton’s Hard Ginger Beer. Neither of these delicacies are available locally but given the number of locals visiting Tasmania, I can see them being trafficked back. However, if things get desperate, I can get the Lavender cheese posted up. Meanwhile, I’ll just have to feast on their Wasabi cheese. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it.

It’s great to finally catch up with you again.

Last weekend, we returned from 3 weeks’ holiday in Tasmania. While I had no intention of writing away our holiday, I was hoping to upload more to the blog. However, we had woeful Internet access. Indeed, my mobile phone was even out of action most of the time. So, I’m frantically trying to post about our holiday so I can finally make it home on the blog. We’re currently driving back from Port Arthur to Devonport in blog time although we’ve now  been back for a week.

Last Monday, was what I call the start of the real New Year. That’s when the kids go back to school after the long Summer break and when all those resolutions really come home to roost. Of course, we’re supposed to be 200% organized for the new school year with their uniforms all clean and pressed, shoes together all brand spanking new,  and pens, papers, bags, lunches all ready to roll.

You know the drill.

However, it looks like we’ll be winging the return to school. The Spirit of Tasmania pulled into Melbourne at 6.00AM Saturday. This was followed by the long drive back home and we arrived home at about 7.00PM with one day to hope and pray we’d be ready for school.

Fortunately, we passed muster.

Since getting back from Tasmania, I’ve slowly been blogging about the trip. This has involved a lot of background research, especially about the World Heritage Listed Port Arthur Convict Site. Unfortunately, we only had half a day at Port Arthur. Although I’ve been there before, it was nowhere near long enough. The research was very enlightening and it better not be another 20 years before I get back.

Port Arthur…A Family Relic.

Harbour Cruise, Port Arthur.

The Chapel, Port Arthur

The Chaplain’s Voice 1870-1876

Up The Garden Path

Government Cottage

William Smith O’Brien…An Irish Rebel At Port Arthur.

I hope you get a chance to join me on our travels around Tasmania. It really is paradise.

This has been another contribution for the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Diana over at  Part-Time Monster.

xx Rowena

Government Cottage, Port Arthur.

Usually, when you see before and after shots, there’s been some kind of miraculous make-over, renovation or transformation. WOW! You’re absolutely blown away by all the amazing improvements and you can barely recognise the clapped out wreck.

However, sometimes you can’t put all the pieces back together again, but there’s a different kind of beauty in the wreckage…a stoic timelessness, a strange kind of strength. At the very least, these crumbling wrecks can make poignant, photographic works of art.

Indeed, these crumbling brick walls were very photogenic indeed. That’s right. My eyes were out on stalks, heart palpitating. It was love at first sight!

Indeed, I even found my initials carved into the brick.

xx Rowena

The Chapel at Port Arthur.

Hauntingly photogenic, the Chapel at Port Arthur stops you in your tracks…especially once you delve into its past. After all, this Chapel witnessed such horrific, systemic brutality,  that it’s hard to conceive how Christianity had any place here. Indeed, I can almost hear those convicts crying out: My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

As I explained in my previous post, we visited the Chapel on our recent visit to Port Arthur. If you didn’t know its history,  you could easily describe it as a work of art with its striking silhouette representing resilience over adversity and withstanding the ageing effects of time. Moreover, whether you believe in them or not, these ruins definitely speak of ghosts!

Last night, I went trawling through old newspaper accounts about the chapel and thought I’d provide a few excerpts to give you a feel for its former horrors and glories.

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In 1842, the late Mr. David Burn, of Rotherwood, Ouse, made an excursion to Port Arthur and his account of attending the Chapel is very interesting:

“Next day (January 9,1842) being Sunday, we proceeded, after breakfast, to see the convicts mustered prior to their being marched to church. They were drawn up in three lines, each gang forming a separate division, the overseers (convicts) taking their stations in the rear. It was hideous to remark the countenances of the men, to which their yellow raiment, a half black, half yellow, P.A., and their respective numbers stamped in various parts, imparts a sinister, a most revolting expression. Scarcely one open set of features was to be found. To read’ their eyes, it seemed as though they were speculating the chance of gain or advantage to be hoped from us. Crime and its consequences were fearfully depicted in their ill-omened visages, and we turned from the disagreeable caricature of humanity with as much disgust as pity and regret.

Muster over, the men were marched with the utmost silence to church, whither we shortly followed — a military detachment, with loaded arms, being so stationed as to command the entire building. This necessary arrangement in a great degree destroyed the solemnity of the worship. The crew of the Favorite were present, their frank, manly, jovial countenances offering a striking contrast to the lowering aspects of the miserable yellow jackets. Service was performed by our fellow- traveller, the Rev. Mr. Simpson ; and the occasion being in aid of the Sunday schools, the worthy pastor took the opportunity of remarking, that as cash was a scarce commodity on the settlement, the I O U of any individual disposed to contribute would be gladly received, an observation which excited a general grin, since, however beneficial it might prove to the cause, the expression seemed more fit for the gaming table than the pulpit ; the language, nevertheless, was soon forgotten in the motive.

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The Church of Port Arthur is a beautiful, spacious, hewn stone edifice, cruciform in shape, with, pinnacled tower and gables. Internally, it is simple, but neatly fitted, affording accommodation for upwards of 2,000 sitters. There is no organ ; but a choir has been selected from among the convicts, who chant the psalms with considerable effect. As yet no clergyman of the Established Church has been resident, the religious duties having hitherto been undertaken by those zealous and indefatigable Christians the Wesleyans. Mr. Manton is the present respected pastor, a gentleman who has devoted himself not only to call the sinners of Port Arthur to repentance, but who has erstwhile laboured earnestly in the same good cause at the now abandoned settlement of Macquarie Harbour.1″

On Saturday 12 January, 1952…. this account of the Chapel’s history appeared in the Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate:

“The church is noted for its high arches and soaring spires. It is of artistically worked freestone, and has a paved floor. Fire and time have ravaged the timber and the fine stained-glass windows. A convict named Mason was credited with having designed the church, but investigations have shown that it was designed by James Blackburn, who was later Town Surveyor of Melbourne. The church was interdenominational, and therefore never consecrated. It could accommodate 2000. Legend has it that residents of the area almost lynched a farmer who started a fire, a spark of which caught the roof and gutted it and the interior timber of the church.”2.

You wouldn’t know it looking at the Chapel now, but it was once covered in ivy.

As The Clipper reported on Saturday 22 April, 1893:

“Anyone who has been to Port Arthur, or has seen a photograph of the church, must acknowledge that the building owed much of its beauty to the enormous quantity of ivy which covered its outside walls. The preservation of this ivy was of much interest to the residents, but towards the latter days of the settlement, when discipline grew lax, the officials allowed their goats to graze within the church enclosure, which ate the leaves and tender shoots away as high as they could reach while standing erect on their hind legs. Although so thick on most parts of the wall there was one spot where it never grew at all — which was often a subject of remark by visitors and others. The reason given is not generally known. While the church was in process of erection by prison labor and when almost finished two prisoners were fixing the leads upon the roof, when they had a quarrel. The one knocked the other down, who fell heavily to the ground and was killed. In falling he struck the building, his blood staining the ground below. It is a curious fact, but the ivy never grew on that spot.”3.

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However, my newspaper journey exploring all these fascinating historical details, has in swamped what was OUR visit to the chapel. As I’ve mentioned before, Geoff’s third Great Grandfather served as a convict at Port Arthur. Therefore, as we explored and experienced every single nook and cranny, we were thinking of him. Indeed, we were family coming back to a very strange sense of home.

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Therefore, as I photograph the chapel perfectly silhouetted against an azure sky, I think of him hoping that against the odds, he might have found some solace here.

What are your thoughts about the ruins of Port Arthur?

xx Rowena

Sources

  1. Launceston Advertiser (Tas. : 1829 – 1846) Thursday 26 January 1843 p 4 (From Frazer’s Magazine, for September. J Concluded).

2. Saturday 12 January, 1952 the Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate.

3. The Clipper (Hobart, Tas. : 1893 – 1909) Saturday 22 April 1893 p 4 Article

 

Port Arthur, Tasmania…A Family Relic.

When James Newton went on a thieving rampage on the night of 11th October, 1843 I wonder if he considered the possibility of being caught and sentenced to 14 years transportation?

I doubt it.

Indeed, it doesn’t look like he was “thinking” very much at all.

Although James Newton seemed to be doing alright (he could apparently read and his occupation was Quarryman), he stole a lot more than the proverbial “loaf of bread”. When he was tried at the Hereford Assizes On the 21st March, 1844, it turned out that he and his mate had burgled three separate dwellings in one night and had quite a haul.

James Newton was sentenced to 14 years transportation and sent to London’s Millbank Prison. On 8th July, 1844 he left Woolich on board The Agincourt. With authorities taking a tough stance against theft, he was initially given the harsher penalty of being sent to Norfolk Island with a view of being transferred to Port Arthur down the track.

Naturally, getting caught had consequences and James Newton moved from being a free man, into a system of discipline and punishment and debate about moral and prison reform. Indeed, questions were being asked about whether the “criminal class” could actually be reformed.

So, when James Newton arrived at Port Arthur, he was at the mercy of “the system”.

As yet, I don’t know how long James Newton spent at Port Arthur before being consigned to John Connell at Oatlands. However, from 1848, harsh physical punishment within Port Arthur was rejected in favour of punishment of the mind. Flogging gave way to solitary confinement and the Separate Prison was built at Port Arthur in 1850. Cruciform-shaped, each of the four wings comprised a central corridor flanked by rows of solitary confinement cells. Separated by thick sandstone walls, it was hoped that the convicts would benefit from contemplative silence and separation. This design was based on  Jeremy Bentham’s model prison, Panopticon. Indeed, Bentham himself described the Panopticon as “a new mode of obtaining power of mind over mind, in a quantity hitherto without example.”[1] Elsewhere, in a letter, he described the Panopticon prison as “a mill for grinding rogues honest”.[2]

On January 8th, 1887,the Illustrated Australian News reported that:

“Port Arthur  was considered to be the most secure prison in the island. Surrounded almost on every side with water which teemed with sharks, its only connection with the mainland; by Eagle Hawk Neck being guarded by chains of sentinels and ferocious blood hounds, it well deserved the trust reposed in it by the convict authorities, for few were the escapes, that took place from it. Even old hands that had broken prison time after time recognised the fact and took for their motto: “All hope abandon ye who enter here.”1.

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Knowing that a member of your family endured this physical and psychological brutality for any length of time at all, is disturbing. Yet, you really have to look pretty hard to see any signs of that on a gorgeous sunny day where the prison ruins take on a rugged, artistic beauty, the gardens are magnificent and there’s even the luxury of a cricket pitch.

Anyway, returning to our visit to Port Arthur.
Unfortunately, by the time we’d admired the Tasman Peninsula, that we only had half a day left for Port Arthur. This meant we seriously had to rationalise our visit. We went on the walking tour and harbour cruise (which are both included with your entry fee) and then we decided to focus on the Chapel. From there I made a quick dash into the Chaplain’s cottage, which also housed some interesting convict artifacts.
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Geoff and Miss on board the ferry cruise.

To do the place justice, I’ll be visiting each of these locations in a separate post.
The Chapel
Meanwhile, I should let you know that things turned out pretty well for James Newton in the end. On the 22nd September, 1853 James married a free settler, Bridget Vaughan,  and they went on to have 6 children and own their own farm in Campbell Town. James had his conditional pardon approved 4th October, 1853.
Stay tuned.
xx Rowena

Sources

Illustrated Australian News (Melbourne, Vic. : 1876 – 1889) Saturday 8 January 1887 p 10 Article

http://www.jenwilletts.com/convict_ship_agincourt_1844.htmhttp:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panopticon

http://portarthur.org.au/history/the-convict-era/