Birthday Parties

1509W.132Sepia Saturday’s choice of an image shows some Estonian children playing a game in a circle.  It’s quite possible that the occasion was a birthday party.  It’s also interesting to see that children are wearing the popular pinny  made with crossover straps at the back.  That is a bit puzzling.  Why would the children be wearing pinnies if it was some kind of special occasion. There are  also three children at the back not taking part in the game while an older lady supervises.

It’s not often that a photo of a party or playground game was taken in the 1920s and1930s.  If  was more likely to be a group photo,

Esme Hather birthday 2-4-1936These two photos were taken at Esme Heather’s birthday party in Castlemaine on April 2nd 1936 in the garden  of her home.

Esme is third from the right in both photos.

Just one festive balloon to be seen in each photo.  One of the highlights of a Esme Hather birthday 2-4-1936 at CarinyaHeather party was the dressing-up box in Esme’s bedroom.  And a treat with  the food were the home-made lamingtons.

The Heathers lived at “Carinya” at the corner of Fletcher and Berkley St in Castlemaine, Central Victoria.


The next birthday photo was taken at the same place on April 2nd, 1941.  This time everyone had a balloon and a party hat.  Esme is centre front, kneeling,  and her mother Daphne at the left hand end of the back row.

Esme Hather birthday 2-4-1941

You can see part of  the house next door in the previous photo.  It is still there and can be seen in this shot of Carinya from Google Earth.

Heather's cnr Fletcher Berkeley - Carinya

Further nostalgic links to this week’s Sepia Saturday image can be found here.

Where there’s a Will ……or…… What have you been up to Grizel ?

Grace Pender - Glaud's wifeThe starting point is Grace Pender , my great-great grandmother , wife of Glaud Pender from previous posts.

She was born in Scotland in 1824 as Grace Muir Taylor in Whitburn, Linlithgowshire, the daughter of Robert Taylor, a baker, and Mary Ann Young.

So far, so good.

Living with young Grace Muir Taylor at the time of  the 1841 Census was a Grace Muir of Independent Means , aged 70, but there is no sign of the parents, Mary and  Robert  Taylor, just their children.  Sounds as though it could be my Grace’s grandmother born about 1770, who had  married a Mr Young or a Mr Taylor.  But that was where I came to the legendary brick wall.

Fortunately Grace Muir Taylor, later Pender,  was a letter writer and one of her  great-grandchildren is now the guardian of some of those letters  Progress started again when I was shown a couple of these letters   When living in Kangaroo in Victoria in 1887 she wrote  to a niece Mary Ann Borland and appears to be answering a question by explaining that her mother’s grandfather was Mr Mure of Green Hall at Blantyre.  Previously money owing had been mentioned.

Another clue at last; Mr Mure of Greenhall, Blantyre

Move from Linlithgowshire to Lanarkshire.

GreenhallGreenhall was a handsome house in Blantyre,  built about 1760, and set in an estate of 332 acres.  It is believed that it replaced a previous farmhouse.

From here it wasn’t hard to trace the birth of the possible grandfather John Muir in 1725 who died at Greenhall in 1821.  He had twelve children, the seventh being Grizel Muir, born 1762.  Was this Grizel the mother of our Grace’s mother ?    Did this Grizel have a child Mary Ann Young ?  Prior to this I had an approximate birth date of 1770 for Grizel,  not  the 1762 from Scotland’s People.  Is that  the same person in the Taylor household in 1841.  Possible but not proven.  And there it sat for a while.

Until ……. I took the plunge and  bought a copy of the Will of John Muir from Blantyre  who began by stating that he was  “of  Greenhall”

Mary Ann Young in John Muir's Will

This will confirms that this John Muir was indeed the grandfather of Mary Ann Young.  It also provides us with a mystery as he insists that Mary Ann is to get her share of the money  “notwithstanding any legal impediment or imputation to the contrary” to which I merely ask

“Grizel what have you been up to ?”

This is just the bare bones of Grace Pender’s link to her great grandfather –  the Grace, Mary Ann, Grisel and John Muir story.  There is much that I can’t find in the way of records of births, marriages and deaths.  One wonders with John Muir dying in 1821 why there was still the possibility of money being left to distribute in 1887 when Grace Pender wrote her letter.

Along the way I found that Grizel, Grizzel, Grissel and Grace were interchangeable as were Muir, Mure and Moore.  Interesting bits  on the  Muir’s of Greenhall  are easiy to find. John Muir is reportedly descended from the Muirs of  Rowallan –  King Robert II’s first wife before he was King was Elizabeth Mure of Rowallan,  daughter of Sir Adam Mure and Janer Mure.  And John Muir’s wife Janet  was from the Wardrop family, early owners of the Greenhall estate, once known as Greinhall

This week I couldn’t find a family connection to a group of boys playing a game as in the Sepia Saturday prompt but you will find plenty of others who did on Sepia Saturday



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The Alien’s Egg is Ready to Hatch

Library 1 b


An Alien’s Egg.  That is exactly what Geelong’s new Library and Heritage Centre looks like.  And it is due to hatch on November 21.    Every day the workers are swarming around and cossetting it in preparation for the big delivery day.

Johnstone Park

An earlier postcard of Johnstone Park at the State Library of Victoria :


This impressive  building overlooking Johnstone Park and its bandstand  had the Town Hall, some Council Offices and the Art Gallery.  Victoria’s oldest surviving municipal building was built in 1855 and further extensions blended in tastefully until now.  The old Library and Heritage Centre was tucked in the back right hand corner.

library roof jan 2015

Adding the roof, January 2015 From

But the old Library and Heritage Centre  needed expanding and have now been replaced with this golf ball. a bulbous  appendage soaring over the back of the building.

Don’t misunderstand me.  It is  a nice building with an interior which promises to be very useful with all its high tech appliances.  Strange though that when I read reports about it  I rarely see the word book.

This is to be our central Lending Library. Wouldn’t it have looked lovely if it were were nestled into parkland  or rolled onto a point overlooking the bay – think Sydney’s Opera House.  Or how about floating on Corio Bay – now that would be something.  There is also the golf course on Belmont Common.  This  shape could look quite cute sitting on the river bank.  It is not the building which is offensive,  it is the positioning  of it.



Blithe Spirit

Ghosts or Double Exposures ?

Nothing similar in the family albums but  in this family theatre program are some ghosts of a different kind on the stage of the Comedy  Theatre in Melbourne in 1945.  The  Blithe Spiritghost  in question is the spirit of a man’s first wife who turns up after a seance.  She can be seen  (and heard)  by the husband but not by the second wife or anyone else.

And of course the play is Blithe Spirit by the witty and cheeky Noel Coward.  Wikipedia reminds  us that ” the play concerns the socialite and novelist Charles Condomine, who invites the eccentric medium and clairvoyant, Madame Arcati, to his house to conduct a séance, hoping to gather material for his next book.

The scheme backfires when he is haunted by the ghost of his annoying and temperamental first wife, Elvira, after the séance.    Elvira makes continual attempts to disrupt Charles’s marriage to his second wife, Ruth, who cannot see or hear the ghost.”

But there are many more twist and turns before the end.

Perhaps they should have staged the show a block away in The Princess Theatre which has its own resident ghost, that of a baritone playing in Faust who died just off stage in 1888.

In May 1945 Australia was still at war with Japan and the Military Hospital in the suburb of Heidelberg was very busy. The hospital had a theatre and with a replica Blithe Spirit set constructed the whole cast was able to pile Blithe Spirit - backinto a bus and go to Heidelberg to put on the show one afternoon.

With patients, bed cases  and staff there was no standing room left, with some patients needing to sit in the orchestra pit.  A most appreciative audience.

Meanwhile just across the road from the Comedy Theatre was His Majesty’s Theatre which that same year staged  The Desert Song with Max Oldaker  and his interpretation of The Red Shadow which I wrote about in a previous post

Also in 1945 a film was made of Blithe Spirit with Rex Harrison as the male lead and the wonderful Margaret Rutherford as Madame Arcati who conducts the seance.

Australian TV viewers might see a slight overlapping of the theme with the recent ABC production of “Glitch”  where the fortunate/unfortunate husband has both his living and his dead wife in his life at the same time.

Whereas Noel Coward was strictly for the laughs, Glitch is a serious look at the “what if” situation.  It has been described as an Australian Gothic and much of the shooting was done on summer evenings in my old home towm, the old gold town of Castlemaine in Central Victoria.

Further connections to ghosts and double exposures can be found in this week’ Sepia Saturday post.





Halloween in Caldecote

Halloween cardHalloween.   October 31st.  There are some families in Australia  who have good reason to pass on their ancestral Halloween traditions to their children while the Christian community celebrates October 31st  it in its own way as All Hallows Eve.

Usually it is a most unremarkable day in Australia.

But in other parts of the world  it is a time for  black cats, bats and spiders,  ghosts, skeletons, witches and wizards;  or pumpkins,  cobwebs, haunted houses  and graveyards

So this Halloween let us glide over to the  graveyard at The Church of St. Mary Magdalene in Caldecote, Huntingdonshire, a few miles south of Peterborough.

Caldecote-Church The church has now been converted into a private residence after having been de-consecrated in the mid 1970s  and the headstones  have been stacked against the church wall the last time I heard.


Photo from Michael Trolove

Perhaps the ghosts rise up on the night  of October 31st to protest at having been disturbed.  There might even be some Tanseys and some Lawsons among them.  A perfect setting for all things supernatural.

Headstone Thomas Rebecca tanseyThis lonely church  is where my  grandfather’s grandparents, Thomas Tansey and Rebecca Lawson, were  married in 1834  Later they were buried  there  after all twelve of their children were christened there and five of their children  buried there.

Thomas-Reb-Marr-CertThere are three different spellings for the same person’s surname.  Thomas signs Tanser, the Curate writes Tansor and the headstone says Tansey.

But when Thomas was born in 1813 in Whittlesey to the east of Peterborough he was christened as Tansey.  That was the year that Richard Wagner was born, Napoleon invaded Russia and the USA declared war on the UK, a war which lasted 2 years

Further links to the colourful Halloween card can be seen at this week’s Sepia Saturday post





The starting point for this week’s Sepia Saturday will send participants running for all the harp and angel related  photos in their family albums







is for hair which sometimes supports a circlet of flowers such as in the ring of roses worn by the bride and bridesmaid in this 1948 family wedding at Scots  Church, Melbourne,

Norma's Weddinga - Copy

is for angel – it is believed that angels play harps but in this case my angelic granddaughter clasps a recorder.

angel-12-97r - Copy

is for repeat because I have another angel to show you,  a knitted knitting angel.

Knitting Angelp - Copy

is for playing a musical instrument, not a harp this time but another stringed instrument, the piano, played by the young angel above, practising during her brief venture into piano lessons.

piano practices

is for St John of God Hospital in Geelong where for over twenty years harpist  Peter Roberts has offered music on a one-to-one basis to fragile and vulnerable people in a medical setting,  compassionate care through music.

Peter Roberts music Thanatologist at St John of God Hospital

Peter Roberts music Thanatologist at St John of God Hospital

(From Australian Story ABC TV 14-6-2010 Transcript here)

PETER ROBERTS, THANATOLOGIST: The instrument itself doesn’t have the power. It sits there on its own and it doesn’t do anything until it’s touched. It’s about the person who’s playing it. Honestly, it is. When I take the harp out of the car and roll it into the hospital, usually there’s curiosity and surprise. A funny thing usually happens when I get into an elevator with people and there’s that silence that happens when the door closes. And I always say, “You’re in big trouble now.” And then they’ll laugh and they’ll say, “Well where are your wings?” I always say that well the music is not that good.

Each time a baby is born at St John of God they play a short recording of Peter playing  Brahms Lullaby on his harp over the loud speaker system  to announce the birth.  And when you are lying in bed sick and hear this soft, slow and sweet  melody it is very comforting to know that life is just starting somewhere else in the building.

This is the segment but played by John Kovac.   Do close your eyes and listen and let your thoughts roam free.

You can see more people connecting to this weeks theme image on Sepia Saturday

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Clocks – for more than just telling the time

1509W.125A long time ago it was not necessary to open your iPhone to find out the time because you would have a watch on your wrist or, if indoors,  you would have a handsome clock on your mantelpiece, just as in the background of this group posed to have everyone looking in the same direction.  No posing was done in the next photo – someone off-stage is creating mirth.

XmasIt’s Christmas time about twenty years ago.  The house is my daughter’s, the man my son, the children his niece and nephew, and the clock had been part of my husband’s collection.  For clocks  and clock books were one of his hobbies. He collected a few, he studied their workings and took them to bits and then re-assembled them, he read about them and a couple of times constructed a new clock from pieces of old clocks.  Unfortunately no-one told me that one day in the future I would find a group called Sepia Saturday where photos play an important role and so few photos were taken.  (BTW, Jo, I knitted the cotton Father Xmas jumper.)

Here are some books and papers from his collection.

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Back in the early 1980s there was this photo of my daughter with his home-made  wall clock.  It began with a re-cycled clock face, then there was a brand new pendulum with a brass weight.  My husband designed the wooden case and out of sight at the top of the clock was a square battery which was organized so that something clicked around and every 30 seconds made a connection which gave a nudge to the pendulum.  Just don’t ask me how that worked but it helped the clock to keep good time instead of slowing down.

Sally Clock 1980sEarlier still, in October of 1948, another clock in the background when  the Adelaide College of Music Drum and Fife Band performed   “My Grandfather’s Clock” at the Tivoli Theatre. in Adelaide.  Thanks to friends P and G Flynn for this image.

Grandfathers Clock 1948

My grandfather’s clock was too large for the shelf,
So it stood ninety years on the floor;
It was taller by half than the old man himself,
Though it weighed not a pennyweight more.
It was bought on the morn of the day that he was born,
And was always his treasure and pride;
But it stopped short never to go again,
When the old man died.

Ninety years without slumbering, tick, tock, tick, tock,
His life seconds numbering, tick, tock, tick, tock,
It stopped short never to go again,
When the old man died.

Have a look at other blogs inspired by this week’s Sepia Saturday image.