A year ago…dark satanic mills

800px-mcconnel_26_company_mills2c_about_1820

A year ago we were on our way… we had driven to Auckland, boarded the plane and we were probably somewhere around Australia now…mischief is sat on her cushion and she is thinking…mmm a year ago we were at the cattery…

School had finished and it was CHRISTMAS…. we still have a week to go this year…no wonder we are all grumpy.

A whole year ago…it felt so good, we were so excited, it was the holiday of a lifetime, funny that a trip “home” could be classed as a holiday of a lifetime but it was. The girls were 16, old enough to appreciate it and we had been gone for 10 long years. We took them back and helped them to reconnect, we took them to visit people and places that were part of their history and heritage. We wanted them to know the buildings and the customs and the language and the meaning of what it is to be English.

We love all that they have had and experienced here in Whangarei. We love all that they have learned and the friends they have made but we also wanted them to know their roots, they stand on the shoulders of giants and they need to know that part of the story too.

We come from the mill and mining towns of Lancashire, our forefathers were immigrants who came to build canals and railways and they gave blood sweat and tears to make Britain great in the Industrial revolution. They were working folk, the wives and women were brought up to be strong and steadfast. They men eked out an existence in the Pit or the factory and they found their strength and support in the Church, the Union or the Alehouse in no particular order. They lived loved and died amongst the bricks and the dirt, the smog and the soot, the dark dismal days of winter and the bracing breezes of brief summer days.

I wanted them to see the bricks, and feel the warmth of the hearts and souls who walked before them-whose existence they owe their own story and fortunes to. A year ago still feels like yesterday.

 

Image: Ancoats, Manchester. McConnel & Company’s mills, about 1820. From an old water-colour drawing of the period. Scanned from A Century of fine Cotton Spinning, 1790-1913. McConnel & Co. Ltd. Frontispiece. Scanned by Mr Stephen.

 

 

 

A very blustery day….

As I am sure Pooh bear would have commented it was a very blustery day. A day to blow away the cobwebs, with some salty sea air and a brisk walk along the waterfront in the City of Sails. A change is as good as a rest.

It was a great day for a road trip and although I had hoped for a little more festive decor at Sylvia Park, the carousel was pretty and the company pleasant. I even bumped into former students Jade and the beautiful Jessica Byrne and had a quick catch-up on their lives. Then we witnessed the vista of the waterfront with its showcase of Naval hardware ncluding something I am not accustomed to seeing-armed personnel.

I am no expert on shipping, and the wind made it exceptionally difficult to get a decent shot but the size, range and variety was fascinating. It would appear to be some kind of Naval convention and there were naval ships (they probably have real names like frigate….and such) from Japan, Sumatra, Singapore and beyond.

I think what fascinated us the most was the concept that 50 years ago many of these ships would have been extremely unwelcome and yet today here they all were working together and celebrating NZ’s maritime and naval heritage. I believe the ships are there as part of the Naval revue from November 12-21st,and if you can weather the sea-breeze it is well worth a stroll abroad and perhaps even aboard to see these magnificent beasts in our harbour.