Our House

The house where my grandparents lived for a time

Today is Sunday November 29th. Kia ora!

Today I am writing about a house that featured in some of my earliest memories. Two of my cousins have confirmed that it featured in theirs, too, so I know I am not making this up. This lovely place, where some of my family lived, has engendered true memories that live on today. I also remember the hymn singing making me cry (true), and the Queen’s visit in 1953-54, or perhaps I’ve conjured up memories of that. I recall queueing up in Tinakori Road for a long time, and having the royal car pointed out to me in the distance; we weren’t nearly close enough to see her, and I was disappointed to learn that she wasn’t wearing a crown – that  was just for ceremonial occasions, and she was just an ordinarily dressed, rather small woman. Nevertheless, New Zealanders, like Australians, turned out in droves to be part of the adoring crowd.

Much later I again saw her drive past, quite close, and was disappointed at how small, pale, and ordinary-looking she was. I was told that she was going to walk up the drive to the Mary Potter Hospice and perhaps speak to some of us, nevertheless, she wisely stayed in her car and drive past us.

But back to Tasman Street in Nelson, where my grandparents, Roger and Ethel Salisbury, lived for a time. Their daughter, my mother had grown up on a farm at Ngatimoti, or Pokororo. She used both names. After all their five children had grown up, my maternal grandparents left the farm and moved to Nelson, living I think in somewhere else before moving to Tasman Street.

My maternal grandfather (Papa) was Roger Lister Salisbury, the sixth child of John Park Salisbury (1833 – 1893). John Park Salisbury married Clara Agnes Deck in 1860, and they had eight children, including two daughters.

John Park Salisbury was born in Dudley, Worcestershire, England, and was educated as a lawyer. I thought the family lived in Lancaster for a time, but I can’t find a record of this. He came to Australia, then New Zealand, and prospected for gold, as well as being a missionary. He was a great walker, once walking from Motueka to Nelson.

One of his sons, Roger Lister, married my grandmother, Ethel Griffin, when he was forty and she twenty-five years old. They lived on a farm where they baked their own bread, churned their own butter, grew their own vegetables, and Papa killed a sheep when they needed meat. They had five children, but there were people to help, too. They were largely self-sufficient. My mother had two wishes: one, that I’d had brothers, and two, that I’d been raised on a farm. She was a country-girl at heart, and longed for peace, quiet, and deserted places where we would have picnics (often at stony beaches).

I remember visiting Nana and Papa at the house on Tasman Street, where they lived downstairs, and two aunts (who never married), lived upstairs.  By this time Papa was quite blind. He had glaucoma, which hadn’t been treated properly. He died in the early 1950’s, and I wasn’t allowed to go to his funeral. After his death, the house was sold, and my Nana moved to Wellington; the aunts bought another very nice house in Nelson, although not nearly as large and gracious as this one.

The house at Tasman Street was quite magical. I remember visiting there with my mother, after crossing Cook Strait on the old Tamahine. It was always called the old Tamahine, in those days when despite Nelson being so close, domestic flying was rare.  The house was large and gracious, although I remember it being quite dark inside. Upstairs was a large sitting room, and an organ, which I attempted to play, fiddling with the stops (I couldn’t reach the pedals). The grown-ups graciously allowed me to do this.

Outside, there was a large garden. I remember the hen house, and the stream running at the bottom of the garden.  The Queens Gardens is a lovely spot, still at the other end of Tasman Street; they are adjoined by the Suter Gallery, a lovely Gallery with a very nice café.

Wednesday December 2nd.

Back to the here and now. In New Zealand we are celebrating family birthdays as we experience Advent and the lead up to Christmas. Thank goodness it is a bit more low-key this year. Here we can celebrate Christmas, but in much of the world it will be a muted affair. Later this week we go to Hawkes Bay for my daughter’s birthday. On Sunday evening they have the Paradise Play. One wonders how they will do it this year, given that overseas volunteers have not been able to come here in this pandemic year. I am quite happy for things to be low-key.

My Tai chi has finished for the year; other things are winding down. There is still heavy rain here sometimes: after severe flooding in Napier, there was severe rain and some flooding in Plimmerton, causing SH1 to be closed for a time, and some disruption to public transport.  The weather varies in extreme ways: most days it rains; sometimes it is very windy; sometimes the sun comes out and it’s really hot; sometimes we have it all in one day. The weather remains unpredictable, although a hot summer is predicted. I hope it doesn’t get too hot, we’re not cut out for it here; most houses don’t have air-conditioning, and it can be very hard to turn the oven on in the heat. My kitchen is not well-ventilated.

In Monday’s newspaper there was an apology, to Māori, for racism in reporting over the years.  I think this is quite remarkable. Full credit to Te Upoko-O-Te-Ika (The Dom Post) for this move.

Overseas, the Covid 19 crisis in the US just gets worse and worse. Hospitals are full; people are scared; meanwhile, Trump tries to hold on to the job of President, which he is patently not doing.  Biden and Harris now get the President’s Daily Brief (the PDB); how interesting it would be to be a fly on the wall for that!

This morning it was reported in the Guardian (and US papers) that Attorney General William Barr said there was no evidence of wide-spread fraud in the recent election. Earlier this week Scott Atlas resigned.  I feel as though the message, that Joe Biden is going to be president, is getting through. Trump’s denunciation of Brian Kemp and Doug Ducey (Republican State Governors of Georgia and Arizona, respectively), his former besties, has got to be a humiliating and crazy move, but hey, it has happened, later rather than sooner, after the governors actually stood up for democratic principles. The craziness and the conspiracies continue, but Biden continues too, with his ever-growing team of thoughtful, intelligent, well-educated people.

That’s it for now. Ngā mihi.

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