Monday, March 26, 2012

The Parramatta female factory

It seems likely that my great-great grandmother passed through this place after her arrival in a convict ship. Some comments on it below by His Eminence Archbishop Pell:

Last week I visited the Parramatta convict "Female Factory", built by the ex-convict architect Francis Greenway in 1818.

Five thousand women passed through its door until it closed in 1847, and an action group is working hard now to persuade the government to preserve this historic site.

We need to be reminded how tough the early situation was, how far we have travelled and that we must never return to such a level of cruelty.

Life was difficult beyond our understanding. The women were divided into three classes, with the worst class breaking stones.

For some years unruly women could be flogged, and when money ran out for the ablutions block the women had to wash in the open with water from a few taps.

The punishment cells where women were incarcerated in isolation and fed only bread and water can still be seen, with their small windows high in the walls.

However, not everything was grim and inhumane.

Men outnumbered women four to one and would visit the factory to select a wife _ if she consented.

Orphans and the destitute lived there too and many youngsters were born in the small maternity hospital. Infant mortality worsened when the factory closed.

Some women reoffended in order to return, as conditions were even tougher outside.


Paul's birthday

Jenny put on a small birthday do for Paul tonight. Paul, Susan, Anne, myself and Nanna were in attendance -- plus a young bruiser named Matthew. Matthew is only 6 months or so old but is already amazingly big and solid. He'll have a footballer's physique when he grows up and is projected to be 6'3" tall. He is also happy natured and enjoys a good toe!

Jenny put on a feast with several main courses and the conversation really rattled along, with the recent electoral triumph of the conservatives in the State parliament a major topic. There was much speculation about what Campbell Newman would actually do now that he is in power. Just having him in charge will encourage business and thus create jobs.

We also talked about the Katter party and I pointed out that he is no Pauline Hanson in that he is very supportive to Aborigines.

I regaled the party with an unusual story: The story of the origin and evolution of the Oxford Book of English verse. You won't find it written down anywhere as I have put it together myself from the known facts. It is a surprisingly good story. I have got Paul enthused about poetry so I am going to get him a copy of the book if I can, though it will have to be secondhand at this stage. We talked a lot about poetry generally.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A small high tea

I hadn't had any "Devonshire" teas for a while so I got Anne to organize a high tea for me at 4pm today. We had pumpkin scones with jam and cream, tea out of a teapot kept warm in a tea cosy, cucumber sandwiches and jam doughnuts.

Anne's sister June came over and joined us so it was a congenial occasion with just the 3 of us. My 3-tier cakestand was deployed but not the silver tea strainers as Anne used teabags in the pot.

While Anne was making the tea, the electic jug blew the circuit breakers for some reason so Anne had to boil the water in a pot on the gas stove. So even a high tea can have its minor dramas.

We were pretty full after all the goodies so just had cheese sandwiches as supper later on. But it was Gouda cheese and Danish butter on the sandwiches!

I don't normally eat Gouda cheese. I normally stick to the good old Australian "Tasty". But a Gouda cheese (Vermeer) has just been voted the best cheese in the world at a big cheese expo so I thought I should look into it. It did make a very nice cheese sandwich.

Monday, March 5, 2012

A picnic

Last Friday Anne and I went for a picnic brunch at Wynnum. I love Wynnum. It gives me a feeling of calm. We found a shelter overlooking the sea near Sallyanne's beach.

Anne had prepared chicken and mayonnaise sandwiches which were very good and we Humbered out there. The Humber gives me a feeling of being on an expedition

And the only euphoriant we took was mineral water!

So after the picnic did we drop into Anne's Tingalpa home for a cup of tea? Not on your Nellie! We Humbered back to my place (with a stop at Aldi for bargains) where Anne shortly thereafter departed to view a performance of the final part of Wagner's Ring Cycle. I am myself approving of opera -- within some limits -- but Annne knows no limits in that department.