Posts Tagged ‘Genoa.’

All aboard to sunny Australia.

April 27, 2015

‘Let’s now move forward to, or back to, depending on what you might have read so far, to our period of migrating to Australia. The first murmurs I heard involved Argentina followed by South Africa. Australia came about because some war-time friends had already taken the step in the very early fifties or perhaps even the late forties. It took them 9 days to fly to Australia, so I am inclined to think it was the late forties. Their choice had been Australia. Many letters were exchanged and they were of the most euphoric kind. The streets of Australia were paved in gold and all was possible, own cars, own homes, cake eating on Sunday with mountains of cream, you name it, Australia had it all. My mother was really taken in by it,  ‘own home’ was beckoning more than anything, and especially with a bathroom.

At three years of age with same cousin Eva and her brother Paul. This time bare-footed. Fruit trees in background?

At three years of age with same cousin Eva and her brother Paul. This time bare-footed. Fruit trees in background?

Here a quick look again at those earlier war time periods. I seem to be joking or having fun still… Thirteen years later and I would find myself in Australia. It took a while for ‘fun’ to surface again.

But getting back to migrating and those last few weeks. The planning stage evolved rapidly with a visit to the Australian embassy and inspection by Australian Doctor. X rays were taken and the basics of our health determined by standing around in underpants while chests were listened to and asked to turn this way and that way. We had to touch toes and stick our tongues out to the Doctor. All our vaccinations were always strictly adhered to. Soon we all were deemed to be fit for Australia. We were the perfect white family for migrating and as there were six of us, Australia must have been drooling licking its still very British oriented but recent Australian Federation lips. Not a hint of a brown colour or smidgeon of Dutch colonial imprint of any kind. Blond and fair, just what the Doctor ordered

The canvas hooded walkway to our ship that we all walked through. Bye, bye Holland. I took my first photo onboard.

The canvas hooded walkway to our ship that we all walked through. Bye, bye Holland. I took my first photo on-board.

Above photo shows the gate-way to five weeks on-board a luxury boat full of Dutch migrants. There was a little band that would play over and over, ‘t was on the isle of Capri that I found her, with ‘O’ sole mio’ after we left Genoa. All hell broke lose when the boat pulled away from Sicily’s Messina. Many of those sons of Italian families would never be seen back again in those ancient villages.  Their mothers would be milling together, shedding tears around the water-wells for many months yet. The journey away from shores and love, so sadly final and permanent. A return impossibly expensive and at the time would not have been contemplated. Luigi, the best cobbler in Palermo now gone so was Antonio the dressmaker’s son. When the boat pulled away from Amsterdam and harbour, my mum and dad must have felt that too, but with six of us needing to find our cabins, they soon kept busy.


Brother Frank,(tall) with Herman on his left, sister Dora on right with brother Adrian

Brother Frank,(tall) with Herman on his left, sister Dora on right with brother Adrian

Photo above; Bye, Bye Holland. I took this photo with my newly bought camera earned from delivering fruit and vegetables to Embassies in the many weeks before. (mainly from American Embassy tips, which were extraordinarily generous,and with hot soup as well)

A sunset in mid ocean. Pity about the rope.

A sunset in mid ocean. Pity about the rope.

Of this photo I remember the on-board film shop developer praising me. I think it might also have been a moon shot. I don’t see any sun, but…it was a long time ago now. The time on board was amazing, a holiday as never before. Can you imagine getting a new menu to chose from each time?  The decisions to make; pork or beef, chicken, and in morning, eggs boiled or fried? There was table tennis, a sweep stake which we always won some money with. And that little orchestra; It was on the Isle of Capri that I found you, forget about the walnuts! The Italians were still doe eyed, sad!

This is a re-fuel stop at Aden. Last port before Freemantle

This is a re-fuel stop at Aden. Last port before Freemantle

The two weeks after leaving Aden to Freemantle was mainly spent by my parents getting their luggage trunks from down the bowels of the ship on deck to make an inventory and make sure we would all be ready for Sydney. My parents wanted us to make a good impression in Australia and only Sunday best would do. The arrival in Freemantle was on a Sunday.  I have to go back a few months  now. A good friend told me; tell your parents to think twice before going to Australia. ‘It is a very boring country and on Sunday everything is closed’.

The arrival in Freemantle on a Sunday proved his warning and I remembered. The only people walking around were the passengers from the boat. It was something like out of the Neville Shute book and film ‘On the Beach’ that was yet to be made. All of us looking at each other, all of us dressed Sunday-best with proper coats and ties, cleanly scrubbed necks and underpants. But, what for?

Freemantle was empty or at least it looked empty. I did hear a cricket score filtering through the blinds, not that I knew a cricket score then, but do know now.




Arrival in Sydney.

Sydney's arrival at last, and my last photo on-board which I developed myself later, hence the 'quality'.

Sydney’s arrival at last, and my last photo on-board which I developed myself later, hence the ‘quality’.




The ‘Birthday box of useful Presents’.

August 4, 2014
many years ago

many years ago

It is here again. I had forgotten but face-book reminded me of a looming birthday. Is there no escape? How do they know all those details. Does the IT world now also check up on my underwear swinging in morn’s breeze? Will I get reminders to shower or cut my nails? I had a twitter message from a far away relative in Finland. Can you believe this? The whole world seems to anticipate my own and utterly single future event. There is still time for me to cark it before this 7th of August has even arrived. Such optimism is wonderful. I stand in awe and am so grateful.

Not only that, but the Goulburn Workers Club posted me, by normal mail, a ‘happy birthday’ including four gifts. I can spend up to $25.- on a meal and get the same value of a second meal gratis. I could sneak out to Goulburn and order two huge meals all by myself or…invite the lovely H to participate and share this feast with…a free middy of beer or…a free glass of house wine, each. It doesn’t stop there. The third gift is a token of $ 5.- to play Keno. I never played Keno but it is never too late. It sounds terrific. The fourth and final gift is a chance to win $ 500.- and simply place the ticket in the drum of ‘happy birthday members’. It just never stops.

Problem of birthdays for those of advancing years is what to want to receive. I would like a nicely wrapped box with a ribbon (blue) of blissful uninterrupted sleep without having to go up to four times a night to the toilet. That would be nice. Another one would be to be able to drink half a bottle of fine red wine without having to suffer up to a fortnight of racking indigestion with an unforgiving brooding sense of an overriding guilt that can only be relieved by copious amounts of a smooth all absolving large bucket of butter milk.

Another fine gift would be a large box of instant recall of names and useless memories and events of all those years gone by. Who wrote this book? What was the name of that politician or this actress? What was the time we sat in the park and a bird snatched our sandwich was that before or after we visited Genoa? Do you remember the name of the captain on the Roma that you danced with?

Learning to Swim and going Europe

March 4, 2013


Learning to Swim

To try keeping your head above water while alive seems to be about the best advice one can give. I remember years ago being given that lesson by my mother. It seems strange that my memories of my birthplace (Holland) while a child seem to be mainly about warm and sunny days. Yet, having gone back and revisiting that place as adult it always rained or was shrouded in fog. One flew over cloudless skies all the way from Sydney to India then over the sun baked Mediterranean followed by the Swiss Alps below with sparkling jewels of mountains until you reached Amsterdam’s Schiphol and all became dripping and looking miserable.

Are childhood memories invariably sunny and warm? Perhaps one felt safe, cared for and loved and the sun always shone as it invariably would not when growing up and face the world independently. No weather has sun only; clouds, rain, storm and tempest are all part of it as well. That’s the lesson we learn when growing up, the trick is to keep head above water, steer the good ship into calmer waters.

Those first times that I went back I traveled by boat. The first trip cost me hundred and six Aussi imperial pounds for the whole of 5 weeks duration between Sydney –Genoa. Another ten pounds for the Trans-Continental express Genoa to Amsterdam. Unbelievably, one was fed and feasted for the entire 5 weeks trip including all the Chianti one could possibly drink included.  Those large passenger boats would be seen off from Circular Quay by enormous crowds with hundreds of streamers the last connection between the passengers and onshore family and friends.  Many would be given last minute advice. Alas, when the boat finally moved away many a tear could still be seen on both travelers and on-shore friends. “Keep in touch Mavis or Ron, will you”? Still being shouted and renting the air.

It was during those sixties and seventies that many young people would take a dip and tip a toe into a foreign world with overseas travel becoming more popular. Slowly, another world away from Australia would emerge for many that previously had been experienced by just a few or seen only on maps or heard from others. Who could resist the travel when it was so cheap? Compared with air travel it soon became the preferred choice.

Even so, it did not hurt to pack a few toilet rolls, just in case. It pays to be careful. There were some strange cultural habits being imported into Australia by European foreigners. Strange food items like garlic, black bread and coffee that came in beans with some of the migrant kids even disliking our own food goodies such as beans and spaghetti on our sandwiches with lovely vegemite and sliced Devon.  Then there were those foreign habits of drinking wine slowly and wanting to be seated when talking to others, outside coffee sipping with seating on pavements as well and even restaurants opening on Sunday. Where will it stop next and many were worried?


Some came back with tales that in France you did not have ‘normal’ toilets like ours at home with Pine-o-Clean refreshed pink knitted doilies covering the lid etc, no, you had to squat into a hole, oh the horror was still visible on Mavis retelling her tale how she lost her lipstick irretrievably in one of those dark bottomless holes at Marseille.

In Holland, some discovered, the toilets had a kind of platform in which to peruse or admire latest efforts before flushing, allowing a kind of final good-bye as well. Some years later in Bali and many other parts of Indonesia there were different toilet habits again. Suffice to say people there never eat with their left hand or indeed shake hands, pass goods with the left hand which is used for toilet duties. Have some pity for those born left handed!

As for my swimming lesson; we used to swim with a doubled up rubber bicycle tyre. The summers were endless and permanently sunny.  One day, with my mother watching I was half way across the river when the air vent came out deflating the tyre in seconds.  My only option was to drown or try and make it on my own. “Just keep on swimming normally,” I was calmly advised from the side of the river.

That’s what I did.

Greek Drama with Euro-Neuro

June 18, 2012

Greek Drama with Euro-Neuro.

The unity of Europe with a common currency was a dream that was destined to become a nightmare. It was conceived in good faith but the genes were so diverse and far apart that the result could not have been but a mule, neither a horse nor a donkey, a sterile disambiguation at best.

The United States of America has at least a common language and common culture. Going from north to south there is a common architecture, language and common goals. Through work and credit card they hope to ‘make it’. A simple philosophy of materialism that more or less, (lately a bit less,) that has stood the test of time. And with Hollywood and Gridiron thrown it they have somehow achieved a kind of unity that by and large seemed to have worked for its population.

Just look at Europe and its diversity. The question should be asked; why this need for commonality? If anything, its diversity should have been encouraged and maintained instead of it artificial made homogenous with the push of the Euro.

The Greeks should have been allowed to remain the architects of democracy. Let them sit around cafes, it worked very well in the past. There is a need for the Greeks to do their own thing.

What would a common European culture be like? Should it be like the British, a hotchpotch of chasing something forever obsolete with their love of complicated tradition and dislike of the new? Should it be the simplicity of the Scandinavians or the thriftiness of the Dutch?  Or should it embrace the German method with its icy emphasis on order and meticulous organizational qualities? Perhaps the French way, with its food and love of fashion and truffles. Spain with paella. Oh, Portugal with its deliciously char-grilled sardines. Unforgettable.

The different work ethics, the different languages and above all the different cultures cannot make for a united Europe with all ambitions and its entire people being the same. Europe should celebrate its diversity and share the good but not at the cost of differences.

Years ago, train travel on the Continental express Genoa- Stockholm was an unforgettable experience, not least with all the pass-port controls and different currencies. Why did we ever think this needed weeding out? What is the benefit of this Euro efficiency when it all ends up being boring and monotonous? What are we alive for? Remember the custom officers (Douanes)? They all wore different caps and showed such different idiosyncrasies. Some would look you in the eye and try and determine levels of honesty, or, if capable of smuggling rare cheeses or African diamonds. Other would just nod and walk on. In Genoa you bought a small bottle of wine and half a chicken passed through the train window for 500 lire. In Germany, a Brodchen mit Kase or Bock-wurst.

What’s the point of going to Greece or any European country and not use a different currency? I went to Melbourne last week-end and ended up landing in a different kind of Sydney. Not one Iota of difference. I could just as well been in Perth. The same Harvey Norman frontages, the same large car parks with Big Macs golden arches. The sameness of a stifling all encompassing ennui of dreary monotonous architecture. Is that what the Euro-Visional behavioral architects envisaged? Surely not!

From Rambo Amadeus;

Euro skeptics, analphabetic, try not be hermetic. Euro-Neuro, not be skeptic, hermetic, neurotic, pathetic and analphabetic.

Forget all cosmetic, you need new poetic etc.