27 November 2017

? Worth my Weight In Gold

$3,984,155.00 AUD 
my weight in gold on the 22nd Nov 2017 at Perth Mint

The year is 1899, rich gold deposits have been found in Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie, huge numbers of prospectors are flocking to the then colony of Western Australia to deposit their raw gold.
Sir John Forrest, the first Premier of Western Australia or 'Big John' as he was known then, foresaw the importance of gold in the development of Western Australia's economy, and successfully lobbied the British Government to establish a branch of the Royal Mint in Perth.
And so the Perth Mint was founded. It was Australia's third branch of Britain's Royal Mint, the others being the Sydney Mint and the Melbourne Mint (both now closed).
Between 1899 and 1931 more than 106 million gold sovereigns and nearly 735,000 half sovereigns were struck for use as currency in Australia and throughout the British Empire.

I think it's quite a nice colonial-era building 

The production of gold sovereigns stopped in 1931 when Britain abandoned the gold standard. Nevertheless, the refinery remained busy making fine gold bullion bars. But it wasn't long before the production of coins re-started. In 1940, with Australia entering WW2, an urgent telegram arrived from the Commonwealth Treasury in Canberra saying: "Heavy demand for Australian coin and Melbourne Mint working full capacity. Could you undertake minting copper coins?" Hundreds of millions of Australian pennies and half pennies were produced between 1940 and 1964, and 1.3 million shillings in 1946. Output was boosted further when Australia introduced decimal currency in 1966, a staggering 829 million 2 cent coins and 26 million 1 cent coins were produced by 1973. 
In 1957 the Mint produced "arguably the purest of all gold". Refinery Officer Leo Hickey and Senior Craftsman Alexander Osborne produced a proof 'plate' of almost six nines - 999.999 parts of gold per thousand - as measured by the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths in London. The Royal Mint was so impressed that it ordered some of the gold as the benchmark for its own standards. 
Perth Mint remained under Britain's jurisdiction until 1 July 1970, when ownership transferred to the Government of Western Australia. The change came at a fortuitous time - a few years later a new gold boom took off. With the price of gold rising dramatically, the Mint became the focus of renewed interest and opportunity, and is now Australia’s largest fully integrated, innovative precious metals enterprise, providing premium gold, silver and platinum products and services to markets throughout the world, exporting some $18 billion worth of pure gold, silver and platinum bullion bars and coins to investors in more than 100 countries annually. 
A tour of the Mint gives you the history of the building and how gold came to be. The history of gold is really interesting, you can read about it here 

William Ford and Arthur Bayley were the first to strike gold in the State of Western Australia.

I don't think this was their original wheelbarrow! 
but it was probably used by prospectors at some time in the past.

The world's largest and most valuable coin, weighing in at a staggering 1 tonne is showcased 
in all its golden glory on a revolving platform which is lowered into a vault beneath it every evening. 
An image of Queen Elizabeth II is on the other side of the coin.
You can see how it was made here

Technical details if you like that kind of stuff

The gold pour where you can see 99.99% molten pure gold being poured
to form a 6 kilogram solid gold bar. 
Unfortunately my phone camera couldn't cope with the dim lighting in the smelting area.
The chap doing the demonstration is in the far left of the picture and that gold glow is, yes you've guessed, the gold melting in the furnace.

Here he is about to pour the melted gold into the  mold

I didn't bring my fairly large SLR camera this time, thinking my phone one would be ok. My grandson can't understand why anyone would want such an old fashioned phone, I tell him that I only have one as a standby in my handbag, I don't need an all singing all dancing, we have an app for everything you could possibly need phone. Still not convinced he then went on to explain how I could have a sat nav that could not only guide me around when at home but also around Perth or anywhere else I might get lost. But the coup de gras was when he showed me how good the cameras are on modern phones. So when I get home he is going to help me find a good phone at a good price. He's a lovely boy. 

The mold is then placed in a bath of water to cool

And here it is, transformed into a gleaming solid gold bar. 
Unfortunately they didn't give any free samples!

The shop has lots of gorgeous items for sale

Time for a refreshing cup of tea and a scrumptious chocolate and caramel macaron.

 The Mint cafe was quirky, I loved the prospector theme.

Polly x 

20 November 2017

A Nice Day Out

My daughter's girlfriend's grandfather has just turned 90.
A party was arranged to celebrate.
He thought it was just going to be a few close relatives but his daughter planned a surprise
 by inviting relatives and friends that he hadn't seen for many years.
I didn't know him and had never met him but he was pleased to meet someone from the old country. 
He's a lovely chap, originally a Londoner from Hackney, spelt with a capital A!

It was held at a winery in the Swan Valley.

A mere 25 minutes from Perth, Swan Valley is a must for your "To visit" list. 
World-class wineries, breweries, distilleries, 
gourmet artisan goods such as chocolatiers, honey producers, ice cream and nougat makers,
handcrafted wares, bustling markets, vibrant studios, 
and superb eateries make for excellent days out.

The birthday boy was thrilled to see so many people turn out to help him celebrate.
We had a great time, and afterwards a few of us went on to another winery to sample a few wines. 
Well you have to don't you!

Polly x 

13 November 2017


Greetings from Oz 

I'm back in the land down under
Where women glow and men plunder
Can't you hear, can't you hear the thunder? 
You better run, you better take cover.

Hands up if you sang that while reading it, I sang it as I typed it!! ha ha

Yes I'm back in my second home with my lovely youngest daughter.
The temp. when I landed was a sunny 26 deg.

We're drinking wine and cooking dinner, 
well my daughter is doing both, 
I'm just drinking!

Polly x 

7 November 2017

Project Linus

The WI (Women's Institute) support many good causes. My branch of the WI currently supports Project Linus, a volunteer organisation that aims to provide a sense of security and comfort to sick and traumatised babies, children and teenagers through the provision of new home made patchwork quilts and knitted/crocheted blankets.
When I started volunteering at the Salvation Army 6 years ago they had bags of wool that people had donated, all colours, and all weights. We volunteers were asked if we would like to knit 6'' squares which would eventually be made into blankets, but they didn't have a plan for what to do with them after that. I think I have knitted hundreds of them because I was the most ardent knitter, but I don't crochet and I didn't fancy sewing them together. As there were no volunteers to do this the squares just sat in a cupboard in carrier bags. 
Then I joined the WI and asked the Salvation Army if could have them for the Linus Project. They said yes and so I set about crocheting them together. I didn't really know how to do it but after watching a YouTube tutorial I sort of made up my own stitches and began. I became a thing obsessed. 

I started by sorting them into colour piles, then arranging them on the dining room table or my bed, taking photos of the finished layout. There were enough blues to make two blankets. 

Next I did the bright yellow with splashes of green and beige and a multi colour of red, green and yellow wool. I continued matching similar or contrasting colours until I was left with random colours that sort of went together. 
It was enjoyable, and very therapeutic relaxing watching Netflix whilst piecing them together, but after making 11 blankets I don't want to see another square for a very long time!!
Having said that when I finished the last one I felt slightly bereft, I like to have a project on the go, then ...... the Chair of my WI asked if some of us would like to make quilts!! 

Now, over 40 years ago, 48 to be precise, my firstborn daughter arrived and I thought about making an heirloom quilt for her. I had the same idea when my second daughter arrived 2½ years later. The idea popped into my head again when my daughters met their respective partners and again when my grandson was born. I suspect you know where this is going don't you? the idea has always been there but I never acted on it!! So when the chair asked us about making quilts I thought what a good opportunity to learn. 

This was my first one using material gifted and some of my own. I used 36 6" squares. 

Instead of the traditional wadding and a backing material I used fleece, which gives a nice soft comforting feel, and warmth. And instead of nice swirly patterns which show up on the backing I did straight criss-cross lines. 
I was very pleased with my first attempt.

This second one was more difficult. My daughter gave me the material which was left over from a number of her dressmaking projects. Most of it was rayon and silk, difficult to work with and frayed like mad. I used small amounts of super glue on some of the seams, I just hope it stays together! I have since found out that there is a Hi Tack glue that can be used to stop fraying. 

This little pirate cot quilt was made from a couple of pillow cases that one of the WI ladies gave me.
It was quite difficult.  

To get the finished quilt the right size I needed 25 6" squares. I wanted to use as many of the images as possible but some of them were close to each other so it was tricky.  I had to piece a few oddments together. The material also frayed like mad.

I used a pretty pale blue fleece backing and joined them by stitching "in the ditch" 
(where the squares meet).

So the blankets and quilts are ready to go. We are taking them to the Linus co-ordinator this week. 
I'm going to continue making them because I have been given so much material.

A bit of advice at this time of year - don't wash you car a couple of days before bonfire night, 
I did and two days later it was covered in a fine coating of bonfire ash!!

I'm off to Australia at the weekend to visit my youngest daughter. 
I almost forgot to arrange my visa!

Polly x

2 November 2017

Gunpowder, Treason And Plot

Who was Guy Fawkes and why have we been celebrating his attempted act of terrorism and treachery for over 400 years? He was born in Yorkshire in 1570. After his Protestant father died his mother married a fervent Catholic and Fawkes converted to Catholicism. He later left for the continent where he fought on the side of Catholic Spain against Protestant Dutch reformers. He also tried to get support from Spain for a Catholic uprising in England, without success. It was during his travels that he adopted the name Guido, shortened to Guy.

So why and how did he achieve such notoriety? It could be argued that it started when the Pope of the day failed to recognise King Henry VIII's self-serving reforms on separation and divorce, or with Henry then severing ties with Rome and appointing himself head of the Protestant Church of England. Protestant rule continued and strengthened with the reign of his daughter Queen Elizabeth I. When she died without children her cousin James VI of Scotland became King James I of England. After decades of persecution English Catholics hoped that James would be more tolerant of their religion, his mother after all was Catholic. This was not to be and so 13 men decided that violent action was the only answer.

Under the leadership of Robert Catesby the group drew up plans to blow up the Houses of Parliament hoping to kill the King, maybe the Prince of Wales and the members of Parliament who were making life difficult for the Catholics. They acquired barrels of gunpowder and stored them in a cellar under the House of Lords. Fawkes was tasked with looking after the gunpowder.

But as the group worked on the plot it became clear that innocent people would be hurt or killed, including some people who fought for more rights for Catholics. Some of the plotters started having second thoughts and one of them sent an anonymous letter to his friend, Lord Monteagle warning him to stay away from Parliament on the 5th November. The letter reached the King and his forces made plans to catch the conspirators. In the early hours of November 5th the authorities stormed the cellars and found Fawkes with 36 barrels of gunpowder and fuses. If their plan had succeeded it would have been carnage.

Fawkes was arrested and the gunpowder was removed. Such was the relief that the King was safe bonfires were set alight later that night, thus starting the tradition of bonfire night or Guy Fawkes night. The tradition was added to by the burning of an effigy of Fawkes.

Many years ago children used to collect money to buy fireworks by walking round the streets with a stuffed dummy in a wheelbarrow chanting "Penny for the guy".

Under torture Fawkes identified his co-conspirators. Four were killed attempting to escape. The remaining eight were imprisoned in the Tower of London before being tried and executed for High Treason. They and Fawkes were hanged, drawn and quartered.

The gunpowder plot struck a profound chord for the people of England. Today the reigning monarch only enters Parliament once a year for the State Opening. Prior to the Opening the Yeomen of the Guard search the cellars. 

Remember, remember the 5th of November
gunpowder treason and plot.
I see no reason
why gunpowder treason
should ever be forgot.

Polly x
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