History on my back
Caption: Ed Hillary (left) and Murray Ellis (r) at the South Pole in 1957. Murray and his son David ran Arthur Ellis and Co with the Fairydown label for many decades.
I am slowly catching up on the time difference and jet lag. I have just hung the washing out on the clothesline and noticed more daffodils flowering, despite the snow sitting low on the nearby Southern Alps. Yesterday I started to explore Christchurch and reunite with my 3 daughters who are currently in Christchurch. Spent half a day yesterday walking round central Christchurch and doing a little shopping with my daughter Tania, and her husband Al.
My five daughters from L to R: Kira, Anita, Tania, Ruia and Aroha.
The great thing in New Zealand I can buy clothes off the hook which fit me, unlike Asia where I can never get shoes or clothes to fit. Bought some good Fairydown clothing yesterday; warm tops and trousers. While trying on the Fairydown clothes my mind flashed back to 1877 when this company had its humble beginnings in Dunedin. This company kept food on my Mother's table during the depression of the early 1930s when she worked for them for eight years just prior to World War II. So I have always had a soft spot for Fairydown the brand which came from the old established Dunedin company. I wore their Down Jackets in Peru in 1968, Antarctica 69-70 and they sponsored me in 1985 and 1986 on two North Pole expeditions. The company made its name making high quality Eiderdowns from the Eider duck feathers. An old mentor of mine was Murray Ellis who went with Ed Hillary to the South Pole on tractors in 1957. His son David who carried on Fairydown for some years before starting up his own company Earth Sea Sky. Murray is best known for his role in keeping the modified Ferguson farm tractors going when, in the summer of 1957-58, the New Zealand expedition beat their British counterparts to the South Pole. It was his Dunedin company, Arthur Ellis and Co, which kept the men warm in purpose designed polar clothing and sleeping bags. Murray was part of an inner circle of five New Zealanders known as The Old Firm, led by Sir Edmund Hillary, who achieved this ground breaking feat. Following the Trans Antarctic expedition Murray joined Sir Edmund Hillary in the Himalayas on several climbing trips and to help with aid projects in Nepal. It is amazing how a trip to a shop and seeing a label can trigger such memories.
Last night I took the girls and their partners out for dinner at a restaurant called the Lone Star. It is a mixture of Kiwiana and a cowboy theme, rich in history of frontiersman and risk-takers. The walls drip with a rich collection of art and memorabilia enhanced by the addition of some local art and a fair swag of Kiwi tunes in combination with our famous country music.
The music of Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Crowded House, Johnny Horton, Dwight Yoakam, and Dolly Parton music rings out and they have all become part of the culture here. The food was superb serving the best and freshest local produce served up with a genuine smile in generous portions for a totally fun, unpretentious night out.
Its 9.15 am and the sun has just come out. I think I will take Diva for a walk and get some sun and exercise. The Fairydown clothing will keep me warm as I walk with history on my back.