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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

A REAL SCOTTISH COUNTRY LASS!

Me and my Granny when she visited Nassau shortly
after our first son Gavin's birth.
My dear old Scottish granny Marion MacDonald from Kilmarnock was never happy in a city or even a town. She loved the country; in fact the deeper into the country she could be, the happier she was!

She had to have chickens clucking around her, so she could have fresh eggs for breakfast every day. And she had to have a garden, to grow her flowers and vegetables. Her thumb didn’t look green, but I know it was! She also loved budgies and her little blue budgie spoke with a Scottish accent!

She was a great cook as well. Everyone loved her thick, tasty Scottish soup. One freezing cold day I arrived on her doorstep smitten with a bad cold and cough. She put me to bed and brought me some of her hot soup. I was better in no time!

She went to live in Canada twice by ship, the first time on her own and the second along with my mother. My mother’s sister and family lived in Ontario. While she was living in Canada the second time, she came down to visit us in Nassau right after our first son Gavin was born.

But Granny never got used to living in a “concrete jungle”. She pined for a remote Scottish village and her hens and her garden. She returned to Britain both times.

Granny lived to a good old age and I know that somewhere in Heaven she is tending to her chickens and pruning her roses!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

COMING TO THE BAHAMAS!

Me participating in a fancy head dress competition on the SS Ryndam
from Southampton to Montreal, on what I thought was the first stage
of my journey "around the world"!

It was during the month of September fifty-one years ago that Erskine and I first met. I was “travelling around the world” – or at least, that is what I intended!

I had emigrated to Canada by ship, worked in Toronto as an editorial assistant for about five months, and then decided I didn’t want to go through a harsh Canadian winter. My uncle’s secretary said to me, “Why not go to The Bahamas?” I said, “The Bahamas? Where’s that?!” I got out the atlas and looked at what seemed to me to be tiny pin pricks off the coast of Florida!

At that time, being a qualified secretary, the world was my oyster. Good secretaries were in demand everywhere. I saw that The Bahamas was still British, so being British myself I thought I should be able to get a job in Nassau.

I could have gone to Freeport, Grand Bahama, which is where my uncle’s secretary had visited, but I always liked the bright lights of a city. The cheapest way I could get to Nassau was by Greyhound coach down across the U.S. from Toronto to Miami. Then I flew from Miami to Nassau, arriving that August, right before Hurricane Betsy.

I got secretarial temp work and a work permit right away. My plan was to work in Nassau for three months, and then head back to England where my family lived, for Christmas. After that I wanted to enlist a friend to join me on my trip around the world and we would work our way towards Japan. I longed to experience as many different cultures as I could.

However, I fell in love with The Bahamas and a Long Island Bahamian named Erskine Knowles. I flew back to England for Christmas that year, but I quickly returned. Erskine proposed and we were married in July. I never did make my way around the world!

Footnote: Erskine has written and recorded a song "Young Hearts", about when we first met. This song will be released at a later date.



Thursday, September 22, 2016

IRIS BONAMY THE BAHAMAS LONGEST SERVING YELLOW BIRD



Every Thursday “The Punch”, Nassau, Bahamas, features an outstanding local woman in their “Woman in action” column. Above is my WIA article in The Punch today about 80-year-old Iris Bonamy, the longest serving member of the Princess Margaret Hospital Volunteer Auxiliary, better known as the “Yellowbirds”.


Saturday, September 17, 2016

JUST RELEASED! REAL ILLUSIONS IV BY TANYA R. TAYLOR





Another gripping book by Bahamian author Tanya R. Taylor has just been released! Real Illusions IV is the The Final Episode in the riveting Real Illusions series, available at Amazon!

Look out for two more books by Tanya R. Taylor coming this year – “CARA” (the third in the “Cornelius Saga”) and “10 Minutes before Sleeping”.



Monday, September 12, 2016

PUNCH "WOMAN IN ACTION" JUSTINA WALLACE-WHITFIELD!




This is my latest “Woman in action” article that appeared in “The Punch”, Nassau, Bahamas, last Thursday about Justina Wallace-Whitfield. Justina is daughter of the late Sir Cecil Wallace-Whitfield, a founder and former leader of the Free National Movement. The Punch features an outstanding local woman in their "Woman in action" column every Thursday.


Thursday, September 8, 2016

BACK TO SCHOOL IN THE BAHAMAS!


Erskine as a boy on Long Island, Southern Bahamas

In the fifties, a young Bahamian boy in the southern Bahamas island of Long Island, got up at 4 a.m., drank cane leaf or strong bark tea, and ate a piece of his mother’s home made bread.

Then along with his mother he’d climb the steep half hour path “over back” on his father’s land, to weed the fields of corn, pigeon peas, watermelons, cantaloupes, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, cassavas, sugar cane, yam, lima beans and black eyed peas. He and his mother also collected wood for cooking food on their kitchen hearth. His brothers were working in Nassau by that time and his sisters remained at home to do the household chores before school. His father was often away working on a dredge boat or “on the contract” in the United States.

When he and his mother returned to the family’s thatched roof kitchen about 8 a.m., with bundles of wood on their heads, he’d wash off and put on fresh clothes (his mother made short “shamry” pants for him and shirts out of flour sacks or shamry). Then he’d run the two miles to school barefoot.  He had no shoes, but the soles of his feet became hard enough to run over sharp crinkled rocks and never feel any pain.  For lunch, he carried hominy grits in an empty condensed milk can, covered with brown paper and secured with a palm leaf string.

That Bahamian boy on Long Island was my husband Erskine, who like most Family Islanders back then, had what some might consider a tough childhood. However, he says he had a free, happy upbringing, and received a solid foundation at his island school. Like him, many Long Islanders went on to become highly successful in their chosen careers or businesses. Erskine attended college in England, operated his own general store there, and became a company accountant, luxury property manager, and real estate broker. He’s an accomplished musician as well.

There are probably no hominy grits in empty condensed milk cans for today’s Bahamian student. It’s “back to school” time now throughout the Bahamas and our stores have been crowded with parents and children, shopping carts overflowing with lunch boxes, backpacks, exercise books and stationery supplies

The Bahamas has a public (government) school system and there are also many private (“independent”) schools. School uniform is compulsory in both public and private schools. Even tiny pre-schoolers sport little colour-coordinated shorts, shirts, skirts, tops or dresses.

Schoolchildren sometimes pack groceries in local food stores after school, so they can earn money to help their families and save towards their future. The determination and hard work of these children can in many instances lead to scholarships abroad and good positions on their return to the Bahamas. Others remain in their homeland and put aside every penny that they can, until they are able to buy or build the home of their dreams. 

Many of our students excel in sports and grow up to win much sought after medals overseas. Others, such as Sir Sidney Poitier or renowned drummer Berkley “Peanuts” Taylor, become world famous in the film or entertainment industry. Students who are excellent athletes often receive scholarships abroad.

Behind our school children is often a diligent Bahamian mother, who makes sure her offsprings’ uniforms are washed and pressed, that they have bus and lunch money, and that they strive to overcome all obstacles, to become the very best they can.

And some of these Bahamian children might just have a piece of their mother’s homemade bread in their lunch box as they set off to school!


Sunday, August 28, 2016

BAHAMAS DREAM CAKES OWNER IN THE PUNCH!


Every Thursday "The Punch", Nassau, Bahamas, features an outstanding local woman in their "Woman in action" column.

I’m delighted that my WIA article about Ann Casserly, owner/operator of Bahamas Dream Cakes, was published in The Punch on Thursday, August 25th. Ann is a baker, chef, caterer and philanthropist!