Friday, 5 April 2013

Memories of St Patrick's Day

When I was a kid, I remember Sydney would have a very big Parade on St Patrick's Day.  I am not sure if NSW was the first settlement in Australia and it being a penal settlement, but I guess the Irish (and the Catholics) played a large part in the settlement of NSW.  Having done a little Google, I see Sydney still has a St Patrick's Day Parade which is rather great to hear.

But my earliest memories of St Patrick's Day was when I was at Boarding School at Katoomba, NSW.  Of course being a Catholic school we had a holiday and we would be up bright and early for our day out.  The nuns must have been great organizers as we would head off to Katoomba railway station loaded with bags and bags of sandwiches and also large caterer's tins to make cups of tea.  There would also be very large bottles of cordial and also more caterer's tins to put the prepared cordial in for distribution.  

After boarding the train we would try to settle down and contain our excitement as we were then headed to Blackheath for our St Patrick Day at the Blackheath swimming pool.  I remember the rhododendrons at the swimming pool as they offered so much shade and such brilliant foliage.

Apparently the rhododendrons were planted to commemorate those who gave their life during WW1 and there are 77 trees to remember their sacrifice. 

We would help the nuns to set up camp, then off we would go to enjoy a full day of fun at the swimming pool.  

The nuns would summon a few girls to gather the rest of us up for lunch and we would all head over and collect our sandwiches and a glass of cordial.  We always called the lemon cordial "desert drink" as it was very thirst quenching on a hot day.  We only ever got this treat when we had excursions and picnics.

We were forbidden to go back into the water until we had an hours rest after our lunch and I just remembered something else.  As we got older we would never tell a nun we were menstruating otherwise we couldn't swim that day!!

After a good afternoon tea about 3pm of cups of brewed tea and fruit cake, we would start to pack up and do a quick look around for towels that may have been left behind.  I am sure many items would be lost on those outings, including bathers as we all had to change back into our "Saturday" clothes.  We only wore Saturday clothes (non uniform) on Saturdays and Church holidays.

A train ride back to Katoomba and we would walk past The Paragon which is still in Katoomba.

The Paragon displayed the most magnificent iced cakes and hand made chocolates in their window and we would all drool over those delights before being rounded up to return to our school.  I did last visit the Paragon as when in my 30's with my elder son who was about 16-17 at the time.  Unfortunately now I have heard the food isn't so good but the decor is still superb.

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