The Secret Ingredient

Seeing all the places you can pick up a ready-cooked roast chicken today it’s hard to imagine a town or even suburb without a Chicken Shop but when I was growing up there weren’t any. We kept chooks but having roast chicken was a real treat and one was enough for all of us with some left over to have cold the next day. (There would have been plenty of vegetables to fill us up.)

One special day my Aunty Mavis was down from Port Pirie and we went for a picnic at Victor Harbor which is about an hours drive south of Adelaide. Aunty Mavis was Mum’s sister and they never got on, even at 80+ years old Aunty Mavis would make digs about how spoilt, “Little Jeannie” was.  Mum was the youngest of 13 children but we only ever knew the youngest four.

The day we went to Victor Harbor our picnic lunch included chicken and we sat on the foreshore under the shade of the Norfolk Island Pines to eat it. I was thoroughly enjoying my piece of chicken until I noticed little white things moving on it. They were maggots. I have no idea how or when they got onto it but they were there. I knew if I said anything Mum would be shamed in front of Aunty Mavis so I discreetly disposed of my piece of chicken and said absolutely nothing. The others all seemed to enjoy their lunch and I never told a soul about the extra protein I found in my piece of chicken.

You didn’t know that about Nana did you?

"Spoilt Little Jeannie" 1916
“Spoilt Little Jeannie” 1916


When Papa and I were away camping a few weeks ago the daily temperatures went up into the mid 30s and once again I became a wreck. Even though the campervan was like a sweatbox all I could do was crawl inside and fall asleep then after a couple of hours Papa gave me wet flannels to cool me down. All my life hot days have caused me problems.

In 1954 the Queen came to Adelaide and thousands of school children went to Wayville Showgrounds to welcome her. You can watch some video of it here:  You definitely won’t see me in the audience or performing and I’ll explain why.

I can’t remember how we got to the showgrounds but it was probably by tram and on arrival we were all herded into the sheep pens. Although the visit was in March and the Royal Adelaide Show was always in September the pens were still rank because the wooden floorboards had absorbed so much sheep pee. After what seemed like ages we were herded out into the sunshine to stand around the central arena. The next thing I knew, I was lying on the grass at the St John’s Ambulance tent and I distinctly remember silently pleading, “Let me stay here, PLEASE, PLEASE don’t make me go back there.”

The photo below was taken at Waikerie during a camping holiday in 1948, Mum put me under the sprinklers because I was heat stressed.

You didn’t know that about Nana did you?