Sunday, 15 December 2013

Morongla Mechanics Institute

Morongla Creek is a hamlet on the Lachlan Valley Way in central New South Wales. The former Mechanics Institute building is clearly much valued and used as a community hall (like the salles des fêtes in French villages). The Wikipedia entry for Morongla gives you a good idea of the types of events it provides the venue for. The signs above the door highlight the CWA (Country Women's Association -- the equivalent of the WI in UK; and the Red Cross).

Mechanics Institutes sprang up in Australia in the 19th century, just as they did in Britain and North America, to meet the needs of working class artisans who wished to better themselves. They were essentially libraries focusing on vocational subjects. The buildings and reading material (inspirational and technical) were funded by local philanthropists, usually wealthy landowners or industrialists, who benefitted from gaining a pool of skilled local men with knowledge of the latest developments in machinery and industrial technology. Again, Wikipedia gives an excellent overview.
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Christmas Donations: Yesterday one of our local volunteer firemen knocked on the door. He was collecting for their Christmas fundraising. I gave him a small donation and in return we get a calendar (to put with all the other useless calendars one receives at this time of year in France). He wrote my name on the receipt without asking me and said he remembers my name because it is the same as another family in the village. It has always struck me as an amazing coincidence that we managed to move somewhere that had local people with the same surname as me, even though my family is not French. The answer to this riddle probably lies in the Middle Ages, when German mercenaries fought for all the European kings and nobles. My surname is Old German in origin, and although my family emigrated from the west of England to Australia in the 19th century, I like to think I have a common ancestor from centuries ago with our local archaeologist and his family, who share my surname.

I have no problem giving the Sapeurs (firemen) a donation at this time of year. They are the lead emergency service in France and the Preuilly brigade is all volunteers. Even though the donation goes towards their Christmas party rather than any life saving activity, they well and truly deserve these contributions.
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Loire Valley Nature: A new entry for Scarce Swallowtail butterfly Iphiclides podalirius has been added.
A photo has been added to the Thick-headed Flies Conopidae entry.
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A la cuisine hier: Mulled wine, which I left on the wood stove all afternoon while we plastered the pantry and it dwindled away to about half a cup of wine and orange flavoured syrup. It made the house smell wonderful and was rather good actually, but sadly limited.

Turkey, tomato and mozzarella pizza, made with yesterday's leftovers and some of the creamy cauliflower sauce.
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Yesterday's Quiz: The results are now added to yesterday's post. Tim is the winner with 4 points.

12 comments:

  1. I am adopting the thick-headed fly as today's insect...
    it sums up just how I've been feeling for the last three days!!
    Just can't seem to get myself motivated....
    at all!!!!
    Bleurk!

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  2. Not sure if it is done thing to refer to previous blogs?

    I was relieved not to be the only one with thought process that produces LavBox = Thunderbox. Was there an element of Aussie-Speak in the vocab. as one of your comments mentioned Simon thinking of 'Drop Sheets'. What are they?

    Anyway the LavBox provides an alternative to our washing machine's low rpm which is quite unsuited to spinning a handkerchief, let alone a duvet.

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  3. John: drop sheets are what you lay down on the floor to protect it when you are painting, plastering or otherwise making a mess.

    Re commenting on previous posts, I think the best thing is to comment on the post that is relevant to your comment rather than on an unrelated post. We get notified by email of new comments and they appear in reverse chronological order on the right side bar so a comment on an old post is not going to be missed.

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  4. I never used to mind the calendar collection....having taken the precaution to lay in suitably sized notes and plenty of drink before the calendar season opened.

    Sapeurs pompiers - whose annual ball everywhere I lived was a synonym for bacchanalia, quite apart from their sterling volunteer work.....

    My postlady was superb...she would bring out forms and money from the Post Office in defiance of all separation of powers between the P.O. and the Banque Postale, and made it her business to visit all the elederly people on her round at least once every couple of days - in defiance of her boss.

    I still have the post calendars sent to me here to give to the chaps at the local Correos who really enjoy the scenes of rural France.

    The football club - their version of les dieux du stade was something to behold...

    The old peoples' home...usually featuring a toothless gentleman in a cap with zimmer frame raising a glass to the New Year which he hoped to see out...

    The comite des fetes....every year the same photograph of the sale of work...

    And the bin men, those absolute saviours when it came to disposal of all sorts of encumbrances and so much cheerier than the grumpy jobsworth up at the dump.

    I quite miss them all....though we are still awash with calendars from everyone from the local garage to the fishmonger from the Mercado Central, in consideration of our custom over the year.

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  5. Fly: Blimey, none of those other people sell calendars here. I was offered one by my garage (a freebie) but turned it down and got a pen instead. Maybe I would be happier about paying over the odds for a calendar from someone who provides a perfectly ordinary service if the calendar was actually useful ie had enough space to write stuff on the dates. As it is they are utterly useless. And I don't get offered a receipt.

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  6. What you call a 'drop sheet' we Americans call a 'drop cloth'.

    I still have no idea what LavBox and ThunderBox mean. I saw "Laverie Linge" on the SuperU thing.

    Our washing machine spins at 1200 RPMs, I think. Or is it 1600? Anyway, the clothes come out of the washer nearly dry.

    We get a calendar from the Pompiers and also a calendar from the local sports association. The letter carrier seems not to come by with a calendar any more.

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  7. Ken: Look on the bottom right of the laundromat shed. It says 'LavBox'. The connection to thunderbox is lavatory, shortened by many Brits to lav or lavvie and meaning what I would call the toilet. Thunderbox is an extremely vulgar term for toilet, usually the sort that is a little shed at the bottom of the garden and has a pan which is collected once a week by the nightsoil man.

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  8. Thunderbox - portable toilet - as used by poor Apthorpe in Waugh's Sword of Honour.

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  9. HD: Ah! I hadn't twigged that there was a slight difference in the British and Australian definitions of the term thunderbox.

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  10. Susan, have you heard of Henriette Walter, the well known French linguist?

    Thanks, I think, for the thunderbox details. We call those 'outhouses' and they usually have a crescent moon carved into the door -- don't know why.

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  11. Ken: No, I've never heard of her. Walter is her married name (as I discovered when I looked her up).

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  12. I saw that too. I've read some of H. Walter's books.

    The factrice came by today and sold me a calendar.

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