Wednesday, 29 August 2012


Somehow, it's all so different today
or is it just that the memories of yesterday
come wrapped in silken threads?

Clip, clop, clip, clop, clip, clop
as regularly as clockwork
Dolly plodded our way.
We lived in a small, but wide street.
right beside a lake.
As soon as we heard her coming
we two children raced to greet her.

The ever patient baker waited for us
and let us ride in the back of the cart,
nestled in between the cupboards
that were filled with fresh loaves.
What a treat that was -
we rode with them for a whole two calls
and very reluctantly climbed down
in front of our house.

We handed over our money in exchange for a fragrant, crusty loaf.
Somehow, though, Mum's was always a little hollow,
or so we told her.
We simply couldn't resist eating
a huge ball out of one end.

Clip, clop, clip, clop, clip, clop
Supermarket loaves could never be the same.

(c) Crissouli

".... my grandfather said....."

A lot is said about the influence of grandmothers, not quite so much about grandfathers… I was fortunate enough to know both my grandfathers. Strangely enough, I didn't really know them both at the same time.

This is a brief story of Theodore Haralambos Catsoulis.

My paternal grandfather lived in the same country town as we did. He was tall, with a ready smile and an open heart… we children adored him…no matter how busy he was, he always had time for us, maybe just a word or two then, but always kept his promise to 'be there soon'. I really didn't understand that he had so much to tell us, much of which I didn't hear till many years later. He was a farmer, a bee keeper, a man who could turn his hand at anything. That I knew… I also knew that he came from another country, Greece, but when, at 5 years old, I didn't know to ask…

It was many years after his passing that I heard that he had been chosen to be a guard at the Greek Palace…a great honour. I still haven't been able to find the exact year, but I would think that it was in his early 20's as that was the norm. How I would love to have a photo of him in the uniform. The basic uniform hasn't changed a lot since that time... this photo was taken outside the Greek Palace which is now used to house the President.

Papouli (grandfather, one of several spellings) was born in 1878, on the small Greek island of Kythera… this photo (below) was most likely taken around the time of him becoming a guard (evzone) or not long after. I have him watching over me as I write this... he came to Australia in 1904, worked in cafes before actually owning some, in northern NSW, then moved to Aberdeen, where he had a farm. His story is long, though my time with him was short... he died in 1953, after moving his family to Urunga in 1927.

He was to become a farmer for the rest of his life, raising his 9 children along the way. Theodore and Chrisanthe Catsoulis were well known among not only the village of Urunga, but also the Greek community and their home was always full of people.
I have written more about them at
That Moment in Time

Papouli loved to sit in the verandah and tell us the stories of how things worked and grew. He showed us the honeycomb, dripping with
golden delight and warned us to keep away from the bees till he said it was safe. I can see him in a veiled hat and smoking
the hives till this day. He helped us pick fruit from the many trees and walked through the garden with us,
introducing us to aniseed and fennel...
He showed us how to shake the macadamia tree till the ripe nuts fell and took us to one of the sheds to crack them open in a vice.
I still think of him every time I enjoy that fragrant fresh nut meat from a newly cracked nut.
We fed the chickens from the huge barrels of meal mix that he had in the storeroom, of course, tasting a little on the way, just because.
The farm was across a road from the lake on the bottom side and below the railway line at the top.

(c) Catsoulis

1927 in Urunga was the year that the last trip of the Urunga ferry took place, as a bridge was built across the Bellinger River...

(c) Picture Australia

It was also the year that the new Ocean View Hotel was built... to replace the original which was burnt down...

Original 1896

(c) unknown


(c) unknown

current, still standing...

(c) Crissouli
The hotel has a story all it's own, for another day...

My father's family on the beach at Urunga... very different attire to today...

(c) Catsoulis

(c) Catsoulis

My beloved grandfather was to pass away not long after this photo was taken.
If I close my eyes, I can still smell the faint aroma of his pipe, feel the texture of his cardigan and see his loving smile.
I miss him still.
(c) Catsoulis

Monday, 27 August 2012


School days, school days
Dear old Golden Rule days
'Reading and 'riting and 'rithmetic
Taught to the tune of the hick'ry stick
You were my queen in calico
I was your bashful, barefoot beau
And you wrote on my slate, "I Love You So"
When we were a couple o' kids.....

They are/were the best days of your life... haven't we all heard or used that?

I was one of the lucky ones, I loved school, for the most part... sure there were some days/lessons, etc. that I didn't like, but on the whole I loved learning, I still do, so school was a great place to be...I was fortunate enough to live in a small village, a country town if you like, beside the sea, called Urunga, on the north coast of New South Wales. Way back in the times of inkwells in the school desks, but we weren't able to write with ink till Grade 4.

Before that, we used a slate with pencil... I still have my slate, though haven't seen a slate pencil in awhile. Of course, we could also use chalk. Funny, the slate seems very familiar... you could turn it any way you wanted, just like an iPad really.

Our pens had nibs and a wooden handle, which often became very messy.

The boys would fight over the job of ink monitor, which meant they had to refill the wells after mixing the powder with water. Eventually, we had premixed ink, a great less mess... though as I had long plaits, I had to tuck them into my collar or the boy behind was sure to dip them into the ink well.

This is a single desk, there were few of those, mostly double desks and in rows of four. My father and his siblings had gone to the same school and he assured me that not much had changed...

Dad's class above...

mine below... lower photo...

(Please click on images to enlarge)
I loved knowing that my Dad and my Aunts, Uncles and cousins had gone to the same school...

Today, my grandchildren go to the same school where their great great great uncle, who was a chorister, sang at the opening, way back in 1916. Different school, different traditions... but children still enjoy the friendships if not always the classes... that never changes...

Sunday, 26 August 2012


One of my many passions is reading... I have loved books and language and words for as long as I can remember, and that is quite a time now.

My mother taught me to read before I started school and I was totally entranced. Books became my companions, my teachers, my means of transporting myself through time, to far off places I could never imagine ever being able to go. They took me into worlds of fantasy, of adventure... I became a part of history and a part of the future. I belonged to anywhere I wanted to.

My first collection of books was, like most children of my era, the Golden Book series. They were first published in 1942 for the princely sum of 2s 6d or 25c. This made them far more accessible than the average children's books which were selling for around a £1 or $2.

My two favourites were Mister Dog and Up in the Attic...

and then I loved Nurse Nancy, which had real bandaids in it. The novelty soon wore off for poor mother who seemed to be forever replacing the bandaids that I had taken out and put on my dolls or my younger brother.

Nurse Nancy (Little Golden Book) (Hardcover) ~ Kathryn Jackson (... Cover Art

The companion book to Nurse Nancy was Doctor Dan...

Later on, the Giant Golden Book series was released... I don't remember having a lot of these, but I still have my favourite.. Elves and Fairies. To this day, the illustrations still fascinate me, I loved counting the fairies and looking for the elves and the various animals.

Then of course, a few others survive on my shelves today... much read and loved by my children and then my grandchildren...

My childhood memories revolve around my much loved books... no matter what was happening, I was never alone...