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Station Amusements in New Zealand

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105 pages
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Ajouté le : 08 décembre 2010
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The Project Gutenberg EBook of Station Amusements, by Lady Barker This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org Title: Station Amusements Author: Lady Barker Release Date: June 4, 2009 [EBook #5992] Language: English Character set encoding: ASCII *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK STATION AMUSEMENTS *** Produced by P. J. Riddick, and David Widger STATION AMUSEMENTS IN NEW ZEALAND By Lady Barker Contents Preface. Chapter I. Chapter II. A Bush picnic Eel-fishing Chapter III. Chapter IV. Chapter V. Chapter VI. Chapter VII. Chapter VIII. Chapter IX. Chapter X. Chapter X. Chapter XII. Chapter XIII. Chapter XIV. Chapter XV. Chapter XVI. Chapter XVII. Pig-stalking Skating in the back country Toboggon-ing Buying a run "Buying a run"—continued Looking for a congregation Another shepherd's hut Swaggers Changing servants Culinary troubles Amateur Servants Our pets A feathered pet Doctoring without a diploma Odds and ends Preface. The interest shown by the public in the simple and true account of every-day life in New Zealand, published by the author three years ago, has encouraged her to enlarge upon the theme. This volume is but a continuation of "Station Life," with this difference: that whereas that little book dwelt somewhat upon practical matters, these pages are entirely devoted to reminiscences of the idler hours of a settler's life. Many readers have friends and relations out in those beautiful distant islands, and though her book should possess no wider interest, the author hopes that these at least will care to know exactly what sort of life their absent dear ones are leading. One thing is certain: that few books can ever have afforded so much pleasure to their authors, or can have appeared more completely to write themselves, than "Station Life," and this, its sequel. M. A. B. Chapter I: A Bush picnic. Since my return to England, two years ago, I have been frequently asked by my friends and acquaintances, "How did you amuse yourself up at the station?" I am generally tempted to reply, "We were all too busy to need amusement;" but when I come to think the matter over calmly and dispassionately, I find that a great many of our occupations may be classed under the head of play rather than work. But that would hardly give a fair idea of our lives there, either. It would be more correct to say perhaps, that most of our simple pleasures were composed of a solid layer of usefulness underneath the froth of fun and frolic. I purpose therefore in these sketches to describe some of the pursuits which afforded us a keen enjoyment at the time,—an enjoyment arising from perfect health, simple tastes, and an exquisite climate. It will be as well to begin with the description of one of the picnics, which were favourite amusements in our home, nestled in a valley of the Malvern Hills of Canterbury. These hills are of a very respectable height, and constitute in fact the lowest slopes of the great Southern Alps, which rise to snow-clad peaks behind them. Our little wooden homestead stood at the head of a sunny, sheltered valley, and around it we could see the hills gradually rolling into downs, which in their turn were smoothed out, some ten or twelve miles off, into the dead level of the plains. The only drawback to the picturesque beauty of these lower ranges is the absence of forest, or as it is called there, bush. Behind the Malvern Hills, where they begin to rise into steeper ascents, lies many and many a mile of bush-clad mountain, making deep blue shadows when the setting sun brings the grand Alpine range into sharp white outline against the background of dazzling Italian sky. But just here, where my beloved antipodean home stood, we had no trees whatever, except those which we had planted ourselves, and whose growth we watched with eager interest. I dwell a little upon this point, to try to convey to any one who may glance at these pages, how we all, —dwellers among tree-less hills as we were,—longed and pined for the sights and sounds of a "bush." Quite out of view from the house or garden, and about seven miles away, lay a mountain pass, or saddle, over a range, which was densely wooded, and from whose highest peak we could see a wide extent of timbered country. Often in our evening rides we have gone round by that saddle, in spite of a break-neck track and quicksands and bogs, just to satisfy our constant longing for green leaves, waving branches, and the twitter of birds. Whenever any wood was wanted for building a stockyard, or slabbing a well, or making a post-and-rail fence around a new paddock, we were obliged to take out a Government license to cut wood in this splendid bush. Armed with the necessary document the next step was to engage "bushmen," or woodcutters by profession, who felled and cut the timber into the proper lengths, and stacked it neatly in a clearing, where it could get dry and seasoned. These stacks were often placed in such inaccessible and rocky parts of the steep mountain side, that they had to be brought down to the flat in rude little sledges, drawn by a bullock, who required to be trained to the work, and to possess so steady and equable a disposition as to be indifferent to the annoyance of great logs of heavy wood dangling and bumping against his heels as the sledge pursued its uneven way down the bed of a mountain torrent, in default of a better road. Imagine, then, a beautiful day in our early New Zealand autumn. For a week past, a furious north-westerly gale had been blowing down the gorges of the Rakaia and the Selwyn, as if it had come out of a funnel, and sweeping across the great shelterless plains with irresistible force. We had been close prisoners to the house all those days, dreading to open a door to go out for wood or water, lest a terrific blast should rush in and whip the light shingle roof off. Not an animal could be seen out of doors; they had all taken shelter on the lee-side of the gorse hedges, which are always planted round a garden to give the vegetables a chance of coming up. On the skyline of the hills could be perceived towards evening, mobs of sheep feeding with their heads up-wind, and travelling to the
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