Anne of Green Gables (Classic from the Americas)

I cannot remember reading Anne of Green Gables in my own childhood, but it came into consciousness when acquiring it, probably from the Beaudesert Library, for then 10 year old daughter, J. It has been a delight to now read it myself at the age of 66 years. Daughter, J, read several of the sequels, and the Emily books, as well.

Once again, I made an effort to get a lovely version of the book – this time, when unaccostomedly being in New York, trekking down 5th Avenue to the Barnes and Noble bookstore. There was a lovely pastel yellow leather-bound version with gold-embossed pages with ribbon bookmark, and beautifully laid out quality pages with some of the original illustrations. Having read this book, it is now dedicated to J’s little daughter, A – another generation of kindred spirits.

Lucy Maud Montgomery brings us orphaned Anne who arrives at Green Gables, the home of Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert, on Prince Edward Island, Canada. Anne is vibrant and optimistic and forthright, fully embracing her new life, inspite of her harsh earlier childhood years. We go on her adventures and misadventures, her growing up, her forging of friendships (and frenemies with Gilbert) and an invaluable family with Marilla and Matthew. She would be exciting and inspiring to the young reader.

Montgomery was able to draw on her own childhood which had many similarities, having lost her own mother very early in her life, and grown up happily with her grandparents, in a green gabled house in the village of  Cavendish on Prince Edward Island.  Montgomery was raised mostly by her Aunt Emily Macneill until Emily was married (when Maud was about 10 years old), and left the Macneill farm. Maud lived with her “grandmama”, Lucy Macneill, and grandfather, Alexander, except for ages 16 – 24: she lived with her father for a year in Prince Albert in 1890, took teacher training at Prince of Wales College and taught in Bideford, PEI, took classes at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and taught school in Belmont and Lower Bedeque, PEI. When her grandfather died in 1898, she returned to the Homestead to take care of her grandmother until her death in 1911. Her later marriage to a parson bore three children, Chester, Hugh (died in infancy), and Stuart; however the marriage itself was unhappy over a lifetime for both parties, both suffering from significant depression, and with the pall of the possibility of suicide over the ending of her life at age 67 years.

Outstanding features in the book for me are the deft use of the spoken word in conversation, of which there is much, especially from Anne! and the lovely, frequently very sensory descriptions of the surroundings, e.g.:

“I’m so glad my window looks east into the sunrising,” said Anne, going over to Diana. “It’s so splendid to see the morning coming up over those long hills and glowing through those sharp fir tops. It’s new every morning, and I feel as if I washed my very soul in that bath of earliest sunshine. Oh, Diana, I love this little room so dearly.


Anne was bringing the cows home from the back pasture by way of Lover’s Lane. It was a September evening and all the gaps and clearings in the woods were brimmed up with ruby sunset light. Here and there the lane was splashed with it, but for the most part it was already quite shadowy beneath the maples, and the spaces under the firs were filled with a clear violet dusk like airy wine. The winds were out in their tops, and there is no sweeter music on earth than that which the wind makes in the fir trees at evening.


  – a glorious October, all red and gold, with mellow mornings when the valleys were filled with delicate mists as if the spirit of autumn had poured them in for the sun to drain—amethyst, pearl, silver, rose, and smoke-blue. The dews were so heavy that the fields glistened like cloth of silver and there were such heaps of rustling leaves in the hollows of many-stemmed woods to run crisply through. The Birch Path was a canopy of yellow and the ferns were sear and brown all along it.

No wonder the island has become a tourist Mecca a hundred years later, as Montgomery evoked the beauty of the island through her books. Anne felt very communal with nature, as did Montgomery herself.

I have always loved Marilla in all her iterations – the book, and both the major film versions.

Marilla was a tall, thin woman, with angles and without curves; her dark hair showed some grey streaks and was always twisted up in a hard little knot behind with two wire hairpins stuck aggressively through it. She looked like a woman of narrow experience and rigid conscience, which she was; but there was a saving something about her mouth which, if it had been ever so slightly developed, might have been considered indicative of a sense of humour.

Marilla was born in 1824 in Avonlea, Prince Edward Island, to Mr. and Mrs. Cuthbert. She was raised there along with her older brother Matthew. A few years later after her birth the family moved to Green Gables, a farmhouse which was built by Marilla’s father.

In September 1830, Marilla attended Avonlea School. There she met John Blythe who was said to have been interested in Marilla once, and people called him Marilla’s beau. Unfortunately, they had a quarrel and Marilla never forgave him. She eventually came to regret it and likely would have forgiven John Blythe if she had another chance.

I have enjoyed the Scottish connection. On Prince Edward Island, the largest ethnic group consists of people of Scottish descent (39.2%), followed by English (31.1%), Irish (30.4%),  French (21.1%), German (5.2%), and Dutch (3.1%) descent. 

On Lucy Maud’s maternal side, following the maternal McNeill side, on WikiTree, her great-great grandfather came in Prince Edward Island in 1780. He had been born in Argyll, Scotland. 

My own ethnic origins include widespread Scottish connections in Scotland, the Orkneys and the Western Hebrides, on my Ancestry DNA. There are also many of my connections on both Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, no doubt some arriving with the Scottish Highland clearances after Culloden……… wonder I have always felt so Kindred Spirit with Pince Edward Island and the Anne stories……..

The website of the L. M. Montgomery Literary Society is very Interesting. It includes a paper regarding ‘A Hundred Year Mystery’ of who did the original illustration on the front cover. It is regarded as now proved that the depiction of Anne is by George Fort Gibbs, an American author and illustrator. The internal book illustrators are credited as W. A. J. Claus and M. A. Claus, husband and wife, for the seven illustrations in the book. This paper also draws attention to that fact that there are collectors of various editions of Anne of Green Gables, and that Canada celebrated the famous novel in 2008 with a 100 year Anniversary edition, a fac-similé of the original in 1908……..I might have to acquire one…….

Old Cowra

For years, I have been scanning and then Photoshop-cleaning an enormous trove of photos from Warwick’s family, which include photos going back five generations. Warwick grew up on a farm, Braedene, at Barryrenie, some 20km outside Cowra. At age 8 and a half years, Warwick was sent to school in Cowra, having done some distance education at home before that. A small selection of those photos follows.


This was a family trip to Taronga Park Zoo. R to L: Little Warwick is on the knee of Uncle Jim, Allan on ground in shadows, Graham, father George, little Marnie, behind Uncle Wal, mother Beth, then Aunty Joan.

Aunty Ollie, Warwick and scarecrow. Warwick.

The old Hillman….

Farm cats near the tank stand

On property of eccentric friend way up in the hills from Braedene…..

W’s mother, Beth, father, George, and Aunt, Joan at Braedene

Brother Allan

Rest from building the “new” house

George shearing sheep. Warwick later did a painting of his father from this photo.

Warwick pillioned his father on a road-trip to Cairns from Cowra

Warwick on the MZ250. Photo taken by Warwick on his round-Australia roadtrip at Julia Creek in late 1975.

The Moonlight State

In May 1987, Four Corners presented Chris Masters’ investigation into Queensland police corruption, which reached all the way up to the Police Commissioner, Terry Lewis. An inquiry was announced the following day, becoming the Fitzgerald Inquiry, resulting in over a hundred covictions, a jail term for the Commissioner, and the end of Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s Premiership. Dear Andrew Olley, long since departed from a brain tumour, was the presenter.

Recently, Four Corners presented a programme called Breaking the Brotherhood, which, now, thirty years later, brought to us the whistle blower police and investigators who gave their stories to Chris Masters. It also explored the frightening consequences for those se whistle blowers, at the time, as well as the severe impacts on their subsequent lives.

Four Corners remains part of the essential eternal vigilance.

I received 2 tickets to Joh for PM, the musical for my  birthday from M, R, H, and M, and had J accompanying me. We watched from a front row table…..’glorious fun’ as described by one reviewer…..apparently Mike Ahern, in the audience, now 75, was laughing his head off.

James Dobinson was the one man band….at Stage Right, doing the musical direction and orchestration. Sitting so close to the front it was an added embellishment watching the music production so closely.


The Song List included:

Accidentally (Member for Nanango, then Premier)

Feed the Chooks

We don’t do that nonsense here!

Don’t you worry about that!

Pumpkin scone diplomacy


and finishing with the rousing I will stand, complete with all characters in Maroon t-shirts and calls of “Queenslander”! with the audience responding in unison with an identfying standing ovation.

For more serious review and reflection on this era, Matthew Condon’s books are fascinating…….a review of Queensland politics and corruption through most of my early and young adult life. Condon is a Brisbane based author and journalist. Brother J put me on to these.






For two peas from the same pod, John and I are somewhat different……he has no fear of flying, and does it for work and pleasure; whereas I have always been somewhat nervous about it, exacerated by experiencing lightning strike and moderate turbulence during flight and landing. The relevant genes for flight and courage must be on the Y chromosome!

Recently John sent two video clips of very moving aircraft tributes for Anzac Day Commemorations – one taken from Caboolture Airport, with others, but in particular, featuring John and his brother-in-law, Rod, flying their Chipmunks. The other is a moving fly-by filmed from Mt Mee.

Mt Mee fly-by


ANZAC Day 2017

For two peas from the same pod, John and I are somewhat different……he has no fear of flying, and does it for work and pleasure; whereas I have always been somewhat nervous about it, exacerated by experiencing lightning strike and moderate turbulence during flight and landing. The relevant genes for flight and courage must be on the Y chromosome!

Recently John sent two video clips of very moving aircraft tributes for Anzac Day Commemorations – one taken from Caboolture Airport, with others, but in particular, featuring John and his brother-in-law, Rod, flying their Chipmunks. The other is a moving fly-by filmed from Mt Mee.

Mt Mee Fly-by


An Easter treat from the ABC!

I have two favourite daughter-in-laws (and one favourite son-in-law).

Easter has brought Jessie with grand-children, Emily and Michael, to stay; along with group watching of Seven Types of Ambiguity. This is a lush, compelling, psychological thriller in six parts. Night-scapes of Melbourne help to make the setting a showcase, almost an additional character….as is the cinematography. The cast is excellent, though I gather the whole a “tame adaptation of the book, while retaining some weight and substance.” The novel (2003) by Australian writer Elliot Perlman, is described as Rashmonian, after a 1950 film called Rashomon. “The Rashomon effect is not only about differences in perspective. It occurs particularly where such differences arise in combination with the absence of evidence to elevate or disqualify any version of the truth, plus the social pressure for closure on the question.” Wikip.

The full six parts were provided to iView immediately after screening the first part, so viewers could watch all over Easter.



The other glut watching, with Miss J, so far are Seasons 1-3 of Friends, which  I had studiously avoided forever before, never having watched a full show before, mainly due to hangups about Jennifer Aniston and her celeb associations, but am now feeling 20 something again, and love all the girls clothes and jewellery (90s), and general joi de vivre, and clever scripts. Lots of laughs, vino, and nibbles.

E happy making Friendship bands, M highly conversational into his Slither iPad game.

The Tide of Life

W, K and J have been away in the USA for the past couple of weeks. Life is quite dull for myself and Holly, but, I have been devoted to bringing closer to the end, the digitisation of an enormous photographic record spanning five generations, including multiple branches of family, concluding a 6 year effort in all; as well as Photoshop cleaning of 1140 photos and slides (up to 440 to date) of W’s Aunt, Ede, who was a missionary in Ethiopia in the 50s. She had the French eye for a great photograph.

As this work is so repetitive and inane a lot of the time, the current co-task is watching in a small adjacent window, old YouTube movies. Have been driven to this as even SBS On Demand is now being eroded, so sad.

Having put “Period Movies” in the YouTube search box, Coming Home was the first movie watched/listened to. The novel was written by Rosamunde Pilcher in 1996, following her breakthrough novel, The Shell Seekers in 1987. The TV series was made in 1998. It is set all around Cornwall, before and during WW11 initially with a teenage Keira Knightly playing the young Judith Dunbar, then Emily Mortimer (lovely daughter of Sir John Mortimer, author of the Rumpole books) playing the adult. A lovely 3 hour sojourn in this family saga.

Similarly long sagas on Youtube have been some of the numerous Catherine Cookson novels, later made mini-series. All are set in the 1800s, some early in the century, most set in Northumbria. They are universally romantic with a girl, often followed from youth who persists in life against the severe hardships of the day, to find true love.

The final credits of The Tide of Life and The Secret are both accompanied by the following beautiful folk lilt.

I cannot get to my love if I would die (dee)
For the water of Tyne runs between her and me
And here I must stand with a tear in my ‘ee,
Both sighing and sickly, my sweetheart to see.
I cannot get to my love if I would die;
For the waters of Tyne run between her and me
And here I must stand with a tear in my ‘ee,
Both sighing and sickly, my sweetheart to see.
Oh, where is the boatman, my bonny hinney?
Oh, where is the boatman? Bring him to me
To ferry me over the Tyne to my honey
And I will remember the boatman and thee.
Oh, bring me a boatman, I’ll give any money
And you for your trouble rewarded shall be
To ferry me over the Tyne to my honey
Or scull her across the rough river to me

It is a Northumbrian lovesong. Anywhere along the Tyne could claim it, from Hexam, through Newcastle, to Gateshead and Tynemouth. The ferry is believed to be the one caught at Haughton Castle, Hexam, on the North Tyne.


and another thought……


Oswestry Visitor and Exhibition Centre

A great comment from Meryl to The Passing-Bells post, warranting yet further comment:

Lovely review – many thanks. Coincidentally, I just saw this show – I was prompted by the Dunkirk trailer.
The young Scotsman (Jack Lowden) who played the German soldier (who was also rather good in War and Peace) is in the upcoming Dunkirk.
I really enjoyed The Passing Bells- especially the final scene, and I have especially enjoyed finding out recently that the two sides played more than one game of football and swapped food and cigarettes on numerous occasions – all details scrubbed from the official unit war diaries.
Wilfred Owen was from Oswestry – where I went to boarding school for 5 years. His legacy is beloved and never forgotten there xx M

“Wilfred Owen (1893-1918) is widely recognised as one of the greatest voices of the First World War. He was born in Oswestry, and brought up in Birkenhead and Shrewsbury. Although he spent only a few years of his life here in Oswestry, his family history goes back generations and his grandfather was once mayor of the town. Oswestry Visitor & Exhibition Centre has a permanent display of Wilfred Owen’s letters to his mother and visitors who want to know more about his life in the town can download the Wilfred Owen Town Trail which will show you places in his life. “


I agree with the ending being true to the reality of war, but dramatically poignant and elevating, then commemorating.

Loved hearing that you went to school in Oswestry, and that his legacy is beloved and never forgotten. I enjoyed reading a few of his letters to his mother online, and noted that he did not go out of his way to hide detail of the war from her, as some of the other characters dissembled the awful reality to their parents in their letters, to spare them worrying.

It seems timely to mention your incredible skill, M, with Ancestry family history research which has revealed amazing tree branches and depth of history.

One such extension to the Frederick family tree was Henry Frederick Williams. Fredericks, as much or more than any family of those days, commemorated their forebears by using their names far and wide in the following generations. My grand-father, Bernard, had six sisters, two of whom were older, Elizabeth and Anna (Annie). Elizabeth married Henry (Harry) Williams, in Ballarat, where the Frederick siblings had largely grown up, except for an early stint on the near-by goldfields at Rocky Lead. Lizzy and Harry’s second son, Harry also, enlisted from Ballarat within weeks of declaration of World War 1, spending the next few weeks only in training, before embarking with his 6th Batallion (exclusively volunteer from Victoria) in Company C, arriving on the troopship Galeka, into Alexandria, in April 1915. (Lizzie and Harry had relocated to farming areas east of Perth, and were accompanied by Lizzie’s sister Annie, (who later married there at the age of 38, never having children). I imagine that they went there for the farm labouring work, but wonder if some cousins, Jacob’s children, had also relocated there.)

Twenty-one year old Harry, has on his archival war record all of the famous names of Gallipoli and Anzac Cove ( Mena, Abbassia, Dardanelles, Pembroke Camp Malta, Mustapha Barracks, Alexandria, Lemnos, Serapeum, as well as troop and hospital ships, Galeka, Braemar Castle, Seeang Bee, Megantic, Empress of Britain, and finally, Ballarat to Marseilles!). He spent an early week ill with enteritis, as many did, then presumeably was in the 6th Batallion’s second wave onto Anzac Cove on 25th April, to receive a GSW (gun-shot wound) to the shoulder on 3rd April. A few months later, he rejoined his unit, including a rest on Lemnos for a few weeks, before going to France and Belgium. At Étaples, he received a severe GSW on 21st Aug 1916, shattering the tibia of one leg, requiring treatment in York, England, including removal of infection and sequestered bone, and six months convalescence before rejoining unit in July 1917. On 20th September, he received a GSW in chest. It would appear that this was during the battle for Glencorse Wood (Belgium), and Sergeant Harry received the DCM. Second Lieutenant Birks famously received the VC posthumously.

On the right flank, Lieutenant William McIntosh, along with Sergeant Harry Williams and a few men, attacked and captured the blockhouse called Fitzclarence Farm, taking an officer, and about 50 Germans as prisoners as well as two machine guns.*

Following a brief recovery period from his GSW to the chest, Harry rejoined his Unit again in early  October.

The rain stopped on the 9th, and the battalion boarded buses at Shrapnel Corner for a tented camp outside the village of Reninghelst. Despite the extremely muddy conditions, training continued with most attention being given to the specialist sections. Enemy aircraft flew frequently overhead, dropping bombs. The increase in bombing raids led to special precautions being taken, such as the camp lights being screened at night. The fine work done by Lieutenant McLachlan and the batallion’s Intelligence Section in collecting enemy documents during the October battles, was recognized when Major Butler of 1st Division HQ, sent a congratulatory message to Colonel Day on 15th October.

A brief respite from the constant training occurred on 20th October when the 6th Batallion played and defeated its “sister” batallion, the 58th, at football. On the next day, General Birdwood presented medals to some members of the batallion. Although medal presentations were often made by senior officers on a formal parade, when the batallion was in the front line, it was not uncommon for the medals to come up with the nightly rations.

Detailed orders came out on 25th October.*

Harry was killed in action on 28th October 1917.

Here ends the war for our Harry Williams, my father’s cousin. Dad was four and a half when he died. John has commented that these days, soldiers are not so repeatedly sent back to the front following so many injuries. Harry was 4th time unlucky.

He is buried at Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery and Memorial to the Missing, a Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) burial ground for the dead of 1917-1918 in the Ypres Salient on the Western Front.  The cemetery and its surrounding memorial are located outside of Passchendale, near Zonnebeke in Belgium.

As with Rudyard Kipling, Harry’s father had to have repeated letters spanning about 7 years to find where his son’s grave was and between whom he lay. Elizabeth was the beneficiary of his Will, consisting of disc, wallet, notecase, photos.

Elizabeth died in 1959 aged 91, outlasting all her younger siblings. Harry’s older brother, John (Jack) wrote to my Auntie Bell to inform her of his mother’s death:

“She is the last of the Frederick family. A very distinguished family and one of which mother was very proud. Mother had a very simple faith. She was convinced that when her time came, her little daughter Belle and Harry (killed in 1914-1918 war) together with the entire Frederick family would be gathered there to meet her as she entered the pearly gates. I mention this because when I went to the funeral parlour to take a last look at mother it did seem as though there were others there. There was no quesion of an apparition or anything like that, but there definitely was a feeling of the presence of people. Years earlier, mother used to say a few lines of a poem,

“Oh, for the sound of a voice that is still

Oh, for the touch of a vanished hand”

As I stood there, those words came back with a wonderful clarity. These experiences I mentioned to a friend who put it down to overwrought nerves and emotional tension. Maybe, but it was a comforting experience.

Just recently, Joy Wood, Aunt Carrie’s daughter, called on us. She had lost Aunt Nellie some months ago. So now the whole family has passed away. My memory of them all is very vivid. I knew them all as early as the days when Nellie and Sophia went to school. They were wonderful people – I only hope that mother’s faith was fulfilled.”………



Many years later, in her latter days, Aunty Bell expressed anxiety to my mother that, on entering Heaven, she would not be able to find her parents and brothers (Bell, too, had outlived all her younger brothers). My mother reassured her fully to her satisfaction, with her authoritative certainty, that she need have no concern whatsoever,  that they would all be standing there, waiting, at the Entrance on her arrival!


Brief Segue in time and place…….


I recall Anne Lawrie from time to time making Aberdeen Sausage. Anne was, I suppose, a simple cook, but always tasty, for the family. She was a regular cooker of a roast, beef, lamb or chicken, for Sunday lunch. In her kitchen, it was the lamb roast which raised the possibility of an Aberdeen Sausage, which would provide a tasty sandwich filling for my father’s lunches the following week. He found this item very moreish. My tastes as a child were too fastidious to accept what I would so happily have now. Suspect John was the same….

Auntie L reminds me that Granma Halley and other Auntie L were also regular makers of Aberdeen Sausage. The mincing of meats involved the cumbersome clamp mincer being attached to the kitchen bench. The boiling of the sausage for Anne’s recipe meant prior rending of an old white cotton sheet (I can still hear it!) into just the right size for rolling the sausage mince, and tying with string at each end. I am pretty sure that she used her pressure cooker for the boiling, shortening the usual 2 hours boiling.

There is no doubt that it was an Old Scots recipe, which came into Australia with many Scots migrants, so may have come into Granma’s household via Halleys, Lawries, or both.

The recipe is well described in The Schauer Australian Cookery Book, which very dilapidated book was my mother’s main recipe book. I believe either Auntie L or Auntie C gave Mum her copy when she married. The book was written by Miss Amy Shauer, with her cookery book resident in many Queensland kitchens through to the sixties. Miss Schauer’s biography is quite inspiring during the first half of the 20th century. If I was ever enquiring about a cooking question growing up Mum would always say, “Get the Miss Schauer!”

I think it is worth transcribing the whole recipe, substituting left-over lamb for beef, as that is what it was in our household (also described on Visit Dunkeld as “This is an old farmhouse recipe which used up the end of the barn”. (Isn’t that a quaint turn of phrase?)

Mince 1lb left-over lamb and 1/2lb bacon ends. Put into mixing bowl, add 1 cup of fresh breadcrumbs, 1tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce. Season with pepper and salt. Add 1 egg. 1 minced onion and carrot may be used. Mix all thoroughly together, turn onto a floured board, knead, form into a firm sausage. Place into a dry pudding cloth, roll smoothly, tie at each end, sqeezing the sausage into as small a compass as possible from each end. Tie tightly and pin cloth in the centre. (This tight rolling makes it firm for carving).

Place in a saucepan of plenty of boiling water. Simmer slowly for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Take up, stand 5 minutes in cloth. Remove cloth carefully. Roll in dry breadcrumbs. Garnish with parsley.

The above was as Mum made it. Miss Schauer continues:

Meat such as raw minced mutton, veal, rabbit, chicke, etc., may be used instead of beef. The remains of cold corned beef are good used instead of fresh meat. Three sheep’s tongues boiled, skinned, minced and mixed in with beef or other meats is an improvement. 😳

About 1978, I bought myself a 1975 copy of The Schauer Australian Cookery Book, registered at The General Post Office, Brisbane, and printed and bound in Australia by W. R. Smith and Paterson, Kemp Place, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane, Queensland. I also bought The Schauer Australian Fruit Preserving Recipe Book, as well.


To Anne and Hal….

Some 15 years ago, my mother recounted what a lovely road trip she and my father had had in Scotland, and, in particular, they had toasted each other and the trip while staying near ? at the golf course in St Andrews…. it WAS back in the Day in 1978, when , maybe it was affordable to stay there.

She then suggested that Warwick and I might do that trip one day, and to toast ourselves and the trip similarly, and she and Hal at St Andrews, then, if we made it. Well, we made it……..

St Andrew’s was both booked out and prohibitively expensive to stay in, so we have retired back down the coast to the fishing village of Anstruther for the night.

Following a lovely stroll on the boat harbour wall, we had a seafood dinner where we were staying at The Waterfront (Restaurant and Accommodation).

Anne and Hal were toasted at dinner.

Please, click on To Anne and Hal below, and forgive the little evidence of dinner near the speakers mouth…….the camera man and producer is not aware of such things😵

To Anne and Hal