Book Review:Love at the End of the Road

 Romance mixed in with rural shenanigans and history

Local writer Rae Roadley brings a down to earth account of her experiences of going from city girl to old farm hand when she meets her future husband to be Rex at a Table for Six dinner date.

Rae has lived in many of the major cities of the world, but perhaps the country  life appealed. Finding employment with the Northern Advocate as a journalist, little did she realise she would meet a farmer who lived in a big old house down the end of a long gravel road.

On the shores of the Kaipara Harbour Rae finds out how to deal with bulls in the garden, getting to know the local characters around the Maungaturoto district, and realising she is becoming a rural woman at heart.

Together with her husband Rex, Rae has transformed the old rambling Batley House into a stunning home. Tales of the dogs Jess and Floss, mixed in the mishaps and triumphs makes this a fun book. Photographs of the Roadley family are scattered through out the book.

Rae spent some time researching the history of Batley, as a result she has included family trees for the Colebeck, Roadley and Masefield families, as well as an excellent time line of events. The index is comprehensive and the bibilography of source references has been included.

David Hill of the New Zealand Herald gave this book an excellent review. He noted some of the characters had what he termed 'flawless grammar, but in my view that's being a little picky. You can read the NZ Herald review here

Published by Penguin books in paperback, Love at the end of the Road - Finding my heart in the country by Rae Roadley is a charming down to earth good read. R.R.P NZ$40 256 pages.


YMCA benefits from NZYF quake fundraising

YMCA benefits from NZYF quake fundraising

It’s been a tough year for the people of Christchurch, but proving that their plight is not forgotten, New Zealand Young Farmers recently made a donation to an organisation that has proved a great source of help to many after the earthquakes that changed the face of Christchurch.

Earlier this week NZYF CEO Richard Fitzgerald presented the Christchurch YMCA with a cheque for $34,470.15. The majority of the money was raised through Road to Recovery Auctions that were held at The National Bank Young Farmer Contest’s Regional Finals, earlier this year.

Christchurch YMCA CEO Josie Ogden Schroeder was blown away by the donation.

“It is phenomenally generous and humbling to get this donation. It’s an extra boost and we will be able to make this money go a really really long way.”

Mrs Ogden Schroeder sad that the money would be put to good use with the young people of Christchurch.

“We deal with thousands of young people in different capacities every year. Some are marginalised youth in our education and training programmes and some are high functioning young people that are volunteers. Regardless of their level it’s all about developing them as people.”

Mr Fitzgerald said that the development of young people was a commonality between NZYF and the YMCA, and it seemed a good fit to donate to their urban counterparts.

“Christchurch has had a really rough time this year, so it’s great to be able to help an organisation that not only has very similar values to NZYF, but also one that has implemented many worthwhile projects to help the people of Christchurch as a result of the earthquakes.”

NZYF National Office is based in Methven so staff had some experience with the earthquakes, but Mr Fitzgerald said that when staff and NZYF Members spent time digging silt in February with the Farmy Army, the enormity of the situation really hit.

“Being out there in those badly effected suburbs really brought everything home; it was very humbling to see how those residents were coping with a very tough situation.”

This prompted NZYF to auction off goods that were kindly donated by some of the Contest Sponsors; Honda, The National Bank, Echo and Ravensdown. The money was also raised through donations from many Clubs and individuals within the organisations – some Clubs donated up to $1000 out of their own bank accounts.

The donation to the YMCA is just part of over $100,000 that was raised by NZYF and its members for earthquake relief. The North Otago District contributed a huge portion of that when they raised over $68,000 for the Mayoral Fund.

St John’s also received an extra boost last week thanks to NZYF Members. The Christchurch City Club took part in the Amazing Quake Race at the Canterbury A&P Show. St Johns; as their chosen charity received their $2000 prize.


Jersey Girls!

It seems to me life would never be the same without my two jersey girls. The Terrorist at three and a bit years and River at 5 years old are due to have a visit by a friend's miniature hereford bull.  Oh fun...another bull. This time though it's only for a short duration. After discovering the cable on my electric fence was shot to pieces, a new replacement has seen the Terrorist and River both at last behaving themselves and not escaping into my mother's garden. Let's just say the Terrorist on her last 'let's barge the fence' attempt had a shocking time. No more of that tactic going on.

Meantime Miss Greedy Lily is growing fast. She's almost 8 weeks old and has suddenly sprouted a pair of longer legs and the appetite to go with it. Jersey calves are always very cute and then they grow into well...cows that eat your garden, ram your fences and basically cause a life of mayhem. I wouldn't have it any other way. Life would be very mundane indeed without the antics of the Terrorist. She ate my hair the other day - oh what's new there!

 Meantime just the other day I heard a shrieking sound, and next think I know there is a White Faced Heron dropping down just beside the house. I managed to get a photo before it flew off. The cats were figuring on heron pie for dinner but with that big sharp beak and long long legs the idea of that happening was soon put on the shelf. Silly cats!

Hope you like the photos! Have fun folks and hope everyone is well and happy.


The Tale of Toby the Troublemaking Elephant

In 1887 a new attraction was added to Moore Park in Sydney with acquisition of a young performing elephant from W. H Hartley.
The society has acquired by purchase Mr. W. H. Hartley's performing female elephant " Toby," which has already become a general favourite with the public;
 Sydney Morning Herald 1 October 1887
The attractions at the Zoological Society's Gardens, Moore Park, now include a young performing elephant named Toby, who goes through a number of clever revolutions daily. In addition to signifying his approver or otherwise of various matters submitted to him, ho removes his keeper's hat when called upon to do so, rings a hand- bell, and practices upon a " see-saw." Toby is also sufficiently expert to play several tricks upon his caretaker Mr. J. Burrows. - Sydney Morning Herald 6 August 1887 Toby had proved to be popular. J Burrows (possibly later 'Captain Burrows' of Wirth's Circus fame) was the elephant's keeper at the time. Like Jessie, Toby was expected to give rides to the children who visited the zoological gardens, as well as performing on command the tricks required to draw in the visitors.
...but the great attraction, for the juveniles especially, was the elephant. Jumbo, as usual, satisfactorily performed his part in catering for his youthful patrons, while Toby appeared in a new character as a performer, and her tricks would have solicited applause from the audience of a first class circus......
 Sydney Morning Herald 27 January 1888
The Zoological Gardens will be open The elephant-keeper will put Jessie and Toby through their performances.
Sydney Morning Herald 9 April 1898
For over a decade Toby seems to be performing her duties well, however by 1904, it appears that Toby was considered perhaps of dubious temperament, and had been sold to Wirth's Circus. The concocted story that was later reported about her in the Australian newspapers, perhaps was designed to impress the newspaper reporters and wow the audience. She made her first appearance in Wellington New Zealand during March of 1904.
"Toby," the big baby elephant arrived from Sydney, this week, made her first appearance with the circus company last evening, and proved that she was intelligent and clever us well as ponderous….
Evening Post 18 March 1904
The business done by the Wirth brothers with their circus during the first week of their season in Wellington was so good that they decided to put in smother week, which closes tomorrow. Big business has continued right up to the finish. The co. gained additional weight this week by the arrival of a five-ton elephant, which came by the Sydney boat as cargo
Otago Witness 23 March 1904
Wirth Circus toured New Zealand from February to April 1904 before returning to Sydney. As mentioned earlier the story Wirth's soon concocted for Toby has no credence. As with many circuses an elaborate story was always created to impress. 'Captain Burrows' was most likely the same Mr Burrows that had taken care of Toby at Moore Park. Toby of course had been purchased in 1887 from W. H. Hartley by the Zoological Society.
      The elephant Toby has an interesting history She was born on the march of General Roberts relief expedition to Candia in the year 1877 and Captain Burrows who has long had her in his special charge and who was then a captain in the commissary department book care of the infant and brought her safe to Candia and back, and when he took his discharge from the British army he brought her to the Sydney Zoological Gardens, and she was there purchased by the Wirth Brothers and Captain Burrows was specially engaged to travel with her in fact he has been her only trainer, and she submits to no one else. Toby is the largest performing elephant in the world. She weighs four tons, and performs tricks which no other elephant has over accomplished She is of the Muktah breed which the natives claim as the Devil Elephant which they are afraid to molest, but under careful training she has displayed wonderful docilitv and intelligence Her training has been whollv done by signs and words of encouragement, and without any of the cruel coercion to which elephants are sometimes subjected Toby made her first Australasian appearance at Wellington New Zealand and is now on her way back to the mainland to win further fame for her wonderful capabilities, and for her skilful trainer
The Mercury 10 May 1904
By July Toby was out causing trouble. She broke loose from her chains and went on a minor rampage around the grounds where Wirth's Circus were located for a performance.
Toby, the educated elephant of Wirth Bros.' circus, broke loose from his fastenings at the Carrington Grounds at an early hour on Monday morning. He broke up the drop scene, its pole, the curtain, and the proscenium of the theatrical stage in the ground, but failed to scare the life out of Mr. Goldsburgh, who slept in a room at the rear of the building, and slumbered during the whole commotion. Toby finally dashed through the fence of the Carrington Grounds, across the right-of-way to the adjacent sleeping quarters of Mr. Groves. Toby pulled down three or four panels of fencing and tramped upon a few trees in the yard surrounding the building. He made a satisfactory meal of a bag of wheat and.half a dozen stale loaves of bread before he was sufficiently restored to good temper to enable attendants to guide him back to safe keeping.
Kalgoorlie Western Argus 26 July 1904
She is reported again in 1905 performing with two other elephant 'Jumbo' and 'Ghunah Sah' with their trainer Captain Burrows in charge. By now it appears Wirth's had in their care at least three elephants. Ghunah Sah as far as I can ascertain was the first Wirth's had obtained.
The control of the elephants, Gunnah Sah, Toby, and Jumbo were in attractive form the beasts went through various manoeuvres in a way that pleased the audience.
Sydney Morning Herald 17 April 1905
Not much else is see of Toby at Wirths. It appears by 1909 the company had more than three elephants including one they claimed was born in Australia. How much truth there was to that story is at this stage unknown.
Captain Burrows brought out seven elephants at one time, Including Baby Jumbo (the Australian), who stood on his head, and "Alice" (of Wonderland) was there, also "Toby" (formerly of the Sydney Zoo), who is now thoroughly trained.
Sydney Morning Herald 5 April 1909
In 1915 Toby's life at Wirth's Circus came to an end.
A familiar figure of Wirth Bros Ltd's circus ring has disappeared, Toby, the oldest and cleverest elephant of the herd, which died yesterday morning after a two or three days illness. For years she was the principal performer in the elephant's act, and did tricks denoting intelligence almost human. She was about eighty years of age, and was worth nearly £2000 She had a remarkable memory. On one occasion during a steamer voyage an engineer "loaded" an orange with pepper and gave it to her. On a subsequent voyage the same engineer passed near her, and she grabbed him with her trunk, and only the rigging saved the man from going overboard. She died of a similar complaint to the one which caused her collapse on the bridge at Nowra a year ago. On that occasion she held up the horse traffic for about twelve hours.
Sydney Morning Herald 30 April 1915