Saturday, July 17, 2010

Eileen Coveney...

9th July. Today Claire asked us all for one memory of Nana – Mum’s, Uncle Russell’s and Auntie Jan’s mother. Through the day many pictures formed. Here are a few.

Eileen as a young girl
We (Mum, Dad and I) lived with Nana at 20 Judge Street in Opawa until I was five. I remember Nana teaching me to make drying dishes more fun by playing ‘weddings’ – lining the dried dishes up two by two in rows.

I remember savouring fruit bread toast and Nana saying with deep scorn that the bakers must have stood on the roof and dropped the sultanas in one by one.

I remember watching Nana getting into her fleshy-pink laced corsets with their long row of hooks and eyes.  I loved her dressing table with its wing mirrors and drawers that contained intriguing jewellery and smelt of face powder.

I knew I had to behave because Nana was stern. She rarely smiled. Yet she loved company and in an age of ‘afternoon teas’ I remember Mrs Marshall and Mrs Massey, neighbours in Judge Street, Mrs Manning from Hawford Road, Mrs Buckley from Murray Ansley Terrace…  Long before I was born Nana and Grandad had a summer house – the bungalow – and a tennis court, overlooking Richardson Terrace and the Heathcote River where my parents later built their house. Many friends and visitors stayed in the bungalow over the years.

Nana loved sweets (she had her teeth taken out when she was 21) and always had packets in the sideboard drawer. I especially liked the Irish Moss jubes.

When television first arrived in New Zealand Mrs Marshall next door had a set and Nana and I would go over to ‘watch TV’. Mrs Marshall sat by the fire, Nana next and I shivered in Siberia. Mrs Marshall used to burn rose prunings and Nana complained that only Mrs Marshall got any benefit from the fire.

Nana and Grandad 
Nana had a beautiful garden. The front bank, overlooking Judge Street, had a very large copper beech tree and a Mt Fuji flowering cherry. A wisteria grew around the sun porch corner of the house, meeting up with a huge cerise pink rhododendron. Every year there were early lavender stylosis hiding out the front by the lemon tree and round the back, shy lilly-of-the-valley. Also at the back was a big walnut tree (home to a rope swing and a tree house), several varieties of apples (Cox’s Orange, Red Delicious, Sturmer, others I can’t remember…) an apricot, nectarine, gooseberries, black currants, vegetable garden and hen house. And of course the army hut, the bungalow (both somewhat past their best by my time) and a secret woodland area which eventually became our Richardson Terrace vegetable garden.

Much later, when she was an old lady, I remember Nana's eyes sparkling as Dad gave her a second sherry on Christmas Day.

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