Posted in Stories

Money Raisers Send Help to Kurds

Help Kurds

My mum, Madeleine Ines Di Salvia nee: Bailey, worked with other Dorcas volunteers to raise funds for Kurdish refugees in 1991, toward the end of the Gulf War.  The Dorcas volunteers worked for many hours to make these beautiful doll bassinettes  and then spent more hours standing on a stall in the main street of Parramatta selling them, as well as other hand made crafts.  They did so with happy and willing hearts.  Mum is the second lady from the right and always hated having her photo taken!

This article appeared in the church magazine, The Australasian Record, on 21 May 1991 featuring on page 8.  I am proud to think that my mum was community minded and committed to trying to help others who were less fortunate.  She worked as Dorcas Leader in both Tamworth and Parramatta for many years, and later in life when she felt she could no longer carry on in that role mum worked along side the new leader.

Posted in My Memory Bank

Creating Memories

Each day of our lives

we make deposits in the

memory banks

of our children

Charles R. Swindoll

Author, Educator & Radio Preacher

The Preston Family abt. 1985 – Creating Memories by spending time together

I remember about 33 years ago my dad, Ronald Norman Di Salvia, came to stay with us for a couple of weeks, and some of the time he was with us I had to go to work.  One evening I arrived home late after a tough day with a cantankerous 15 month old son in tow.  All I wanted to do was sit quietly for a few minutes.  My son had other ideas though, and the upshot was that I yelled at him to keep quiet.

Dad came out to us and picked Lucas up from the kitchen floor. Tuning to me he said   “Just remember Julie, every minute of every day you are creating memories for this little fella.  How he remembers his life is actually up to you”. 

When I saw the above quote by Charles R. Swindoll it immediately took me back to standing in the kitchen of our old house with my son and my dad; if I really listen hard I’m sure I can still hear dad’s voice even though he passed away not long after this incident took place.

Preston Family – All Dressed Up! 2014

The words dad spoke all that time ago are still vivid in my mind and it made me think about the memories I had created for my children during their lifetimes. Have I added precious memories to their “memory banks” that built their confidence and moulded their character positively?  I do hope that each of my children can claim at least a few memories that will be uplifting, and will cloak them in happiness for just a short time during a dark, cold day. I realised that it is never to late to add precious memories to their bank account and sometime in the earliest hours of this morning I came to understand that adding to our children’s memory banks is a lifetime role.  For all of your breathing days you can add to your child’s perception of self worth, perhaps influence their point of view on an important issue, and teach them.  These things become memories!

Your Memories From Your Early Childhood Seem to Have Such Purchase On Your Emotions.  They Are So Concrete – Dana Spiotta 1966 –    Author

I am lucky enough to have some beautiful photo’s of my children which I just love to look over every now and then.  It reminded me that I have some lovely portraits of children, with or without their parents, in my family history collection.  I cannot imagine that these children were loved any less than I love my own children and thought that Mothers Day would be an excellent time to share just a couple of my favourite photo’s with you all. 

The One Thing I need to Leave Behind

Is Good Memories

Michael Landon (Eugene Maurice Orowitz) – 1936 – 1991

Actor, Director, Writer, Producer

Posted in Grandma Bailey's Cook Book

Granma’s Tapioca Cream

Here is another of Granma’s recipes; this time for Tapioca Cream.  Around our family dinner table it was known as Tapioca Pudding and mum would use the same recipe using either Tapioca or Sago – whichever was in the cupboard.  It didn’t matter to me though – I loved both tapioca and sago!

Granma’s Tapioca Cream Dessert


3 tbsp. Tapioca (note: tablespoon measurement was bigger. Equalled 1/2 cup)

Quart of 1/4 of milk  (nearly 4 cups= 946 mls)

3-4 eggs (I used 3 eggs)

1/2 cup sugar

Vanilla, Almond or Lemon essence (I prefer using finely grated lemon rind)


Soak tapioca 3 hours or overnight (in water).  Drain off water and cook tapioca till it is quite tender (in milk).  Beat yolks of eggs and add sugar, and then stir into tapioca.  Let it cook for a minute or two to set the eggs but on no account let it boil. Remove from fire (OMG Surprised smile) and add essence and stiffly beat egg white.  When cold place in glass dish.

Recipe Reiview

My husband Terry (a chef) and I trialled Granma’s recipe choosing to make the vanilla version, however we also made a modern day equivalent recipe using the lemon rind for flavouring.  When we compared both recipes we found the following:

  1. Granma’s recipe had a little more of the custard, which both my husband and I found more to our liking
  2. Granma’s recipe was slightly less sweet, whilst still providing plenty of sweetness for a dessert.  Terry and I found the more modern recipe to be sickly sweet.
  3. In terms of flavour Terry and I discovered that we preferred the Lemon Tapioca Pudding to the Vanilla flavoured version, however this is purely a preference of taste.  We both felt Granma’s version to be the superior for flavour and texture
  4. I cooled the tapioca slightly before adding the egg mixture so it wouldn’t curdle
  5. I found that I did not have to soak the tapioca – just cook on very lowest heat setting.  It took around 45 minutes
  6. Obviously where Granma says to remove from fire – I removed from stove!  This could be a good campfire recipe though.

Julies Stars Out Of 5 Rating

Granma’s Recipe                    StarStarStarStarStar

Modern Recipe                        StarStarStar

Posted in My Memory Bank

Our Easter Celebrations – 2017

Well, it has literally been months since posting to my blog – how did that happen!  So – to get back in to the swing of things I have chosen to start with a piece about my Easter celebrations. 

Our family is not a religious family and to us Easter has become much more about spending some fun time together.  It has almost become a tradition to sit around together in the sunshine, laughing whilst the children play in the backyard and enjoying the gorgeous weather of autumn.  It is such a joy to see the four generations – great-grandparents, grand-parents, parents, and grand-children – enjoying time together.  Typically, the weather will change in Tamworth any time from the end of April, becoming increasingly cold as our winter draws in, and Easter is our last chance to get together and enjoy the outdoors for a few months.

Just such a day happened yesterday – Easter Sunday 2017 – a day of perfect sunshine, warm temperatures, a few fluffy clouds in the sky and the hint of a breeze.  We had a lovely time together with lots of laughter and games with Cooper and Charlotte – my two eldest grandchildren – and of course – there was plenty of chocolate!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As with any “Preston” get-together, one of our focuses was food, but this Easter I kept it very simple.  This gave everyone the best chance of having time to enjoy themselves.  The menu was as follows:

Nibbles – Just a bought dip and crackers (I love Coles supermarket)

Main – American Hamburgers with Potato Crisps (the recipe book said it was American, so I guess it was)

Dessert – Chocolate Cake with Cream (thanks Donna Hay)!

Our Easter Chocolate Cake

I put the burgers together in the kitchen and Cooper & Charlotte delivered them to the adults sitting at the table outside – and they did an excellent job.  As we were eating, our newest grand daughter Lexie (just 3 weeks old) made her presence known from her capsule, but went back to sleep again quite quickly, allowing her mum and dad to finish their lunch.

Lexie in her Easter Bunny Outfit

It was a lovely time together; a great opportunity create memories and gather more family photo’s which are just so important, I think.

Link to Donna Hay Easy Chocolate Cake  It was Sooooo.. Yummy!

Posted in Photo Gallery

The White Wedding Gown

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I think everyone loves to look at wedding photo’s!  No matter the time in history, every bride and groom shines on that one special day in their lives.

It came as a small shock to me when I started to research the tradition of the wedding gown to find that a “white wedding” is a relatively recent addition to the customs of a wedding day.

Prior to and during the medieval period brides of high social standing wore gowns of bright colours and rich fabric. The less wealthy groups of society still saw the marriage bond as sacred and dressed to whatever their budget would allow

The person widely credited with starting the tradition of wearing a white wedding gown was Queen Victoria who married on 10 Feb 1840, a mere 176 years ago.  One hundred and seventy six years is but a snap of the fingers in relation to the length of time that the marriage bond has been around.  However the tradition of a bride wearing white spread slowly and they still tended to be worn by the elite classes of society for many years.

Of course the type of gowns worn are sometimes dictated by history itself.  During the Great Depression, when both material and funds were limited, brides once again returned to wearing their best outfit, light or dark, as evidenced by one of the above photographs.

We have free reign over our choice of wedding gowns these days, but whilst the style and fabric of the gown are still dictated by available funds, white is worn by women of all classes. The choice of wearing a coloured gown is still the brides and for my own wedding I chose to be married in cream rather than traditional white.

I simply never realised that the ritual of wearing a white wedding gown had not emerged until such recent times.



Posted in The Post Card Collection

Beautiful Birthday Greetings

To Ines from Ruby - Front
To Ines from Ruby – Front

The only thing I know about this absolutely stunning birthday greeting, which was sent to Ines Maude Bailey nee: Smith by her sister Ruby May Jeffrey nee: Smith, is that it would have been sent in late October between the years of 1900 and about 1910, so that the card reached my Grandmother Ines by her birthday on 2 November.  It is in the collection of postcards kept by Ines, and her husband Edward Thomas Bailey.

The front of the birthday greeting postcard is decorated with multi-coloured glitter which seems almost as bright as it would have been over 100 years ago.  My grandmother must have thought it beautiful to have kept it in their collection.

Handwriting of Ruby May Jeffrey nee: Smith
Handwriting of Ruby May Jeffrey nee: Smith

In 1900 Grandma’s sister Ruby would only have been 11 years old and I believe her handwriting suggest someone just a little older – perhaps Ruby sent it closer to 1905 – 1910.

I thought that the wording on the front of the card also suggested that Ruby may have been older when she sent it to Grandma Ines.

Ruby was 6 years younger than Ines, but they seemed to share a close sisterly relationship.


Posted in Stories

Ann Elizabeth Downey – A Dress in Flames

A Burning Fatality – The Sydney Morning Herald Monday 26 Oct 1903 – TROVE

Ann Elizabeth Downey was apparently widely know as Elizabeth.  She was the first child of Alice and George Downey and was born in 1895 in Tamworth, New South Wales.  It’s interesting to note that Alices’ mother’s name was Ann nee: Orman and George’s mother’s name was Elizabeth nee: Arney/Harney, but it is only speculation on my part to suggest this child had been named after her grandmothers.

Ann Elizabeth was simply putting the kettle on the fire when her life, and that of her parents , was changed for evermore when her dress caught alight.  Her burns must have been significant and treatment of severe burns in the early 1900’s would not have met her needs. Prior to the 1950’s it was expected that a person would not survive burns if they covered 20% or more of the body.  Ann Elizabeth may have been treated with topical medicines perhaps in the nature of lard, honey, butter, eggs and milk, flour, vinegar, turpentine or plant oils – general treatments that had been used for many years prior to her accident. She would almost certainly have succumbed to infection of her open wounds, as this was the common cause of death amongst burns victims of the era.

How terribly sad to loose a child.

I wonder if there are any surviving pictures of her amongst the family?



Treatment of Burns 1900’s:

Burns Care:


Posted in Stories

John Fuller – 10 x Grandfather – Part 3

As always folks, family history is a fluid thing.  It can change dramatically with the discovery of just one document!  And thus – I must admit to a mistake. 

Painting Impression of a Yoeman Farmer
Painting Impression of a Yoeman Farmer

It would seem that our John may have lived in much more comfortable circumstances than first thought with my discovery of his fathers will.  Thomas Fuller was a Yoeman which essentially means that he was a commoner but held and farmed his own land.  During this period (late 1500s – to mid 1600s)  the size of the land holdings varied considerably, but he may have held as much as 100 acres.  The family’s social standing was considered to be above that of peasant, but below castle royalty and gentry.  John would still have worked hard on the family land, but the family would certainly have been able to afford better quality food, including meat.

When Thomas died in 1615 he bequeathed Forty Pounds to each of his sons John and James at age 20 years, and Twenty Pounds to each of his daughters – Mary, Ann, Suzan, Martha and Sarah at age 20 years.  John was 25 at the time of his fathers death so would have been well established by the time of his marriage to Joan/Joane Moth on 10 Nov 1619.  He would have been able to provide a comfortable home for his wife and future children. 

During the first years of Johns marriage to Joane the Mayflower left England arrived on the shores of America, Maffeo Barberini is elected as Pope Urbane VIII and St. Peters Bascilica at the Vatican is completed.  John and Joan had 5 children and they were:

John – baptised 20 Oct 1520, Nicholas – 1625-1625, Edward 1631 – 1638, Joan 1633 – 1681, and Elizabeth b. 1640, and of course with all the years standing out as gaps between the children their were probably others born to the couple.




Yoeman Living Conditions:


Posted in Stories

John Fuller – My 10 x Great Grandfather – Part 2

So, I thought we could learn about what it might have been like to be a child in the 1590’s.

During the first ten years of Johns life Elizabeth 1 is still the reigning monarch, but I wonder if John ever knew that!  In 1599 A number of Shakespears plays are performed for the first time including Much A Do About Nothing, and Oliver Cromwell is born.

Kate Greenaway’s Mother Goose or the Old Nursery Rhymes (1881) was the first publication of “Ring Around the Rosie” in English. Her illustration was published in 1881 and is therefore in the public domain
Kate Greenaway’s Mother Goose or the Old Nursery Rhymes (1881) was the first publication of “Ring Around the Rosie” in English. Her illustration was published in 1881 and is therefore in the public domain

It’s very interesting to me that some children’s games that we know and grew up with were being played by our ancestors hundreds of years ago.  Until the age of 5 or 6 years John would have played hide and seek, tag, and ring around a rosy with his friends and siblings, just as we did as children, just as our own children have done.  I fancy that if I had been John’s mother, and was living in a one or two bedroom home, tending to the garden and cooking over an open fire, that I would have taken a great deal of joy in sending the children outside to play tag or hide and seek in the surrounding country side.  And really – how many hiding places could there be in a dwelling so small?  I can almost hear the children’s voices and laughter tumbling through the tree’s and fields as they chase madly after one another.  Other pastimes would have included swimming and fishing – pastimes well known to all children throughout the ages. 

John and his siblings were probably bare footed in warmer weather although in the winter snow they may have had the luxury of a pair of plain leather shoes, rounded at the toes and laced up the front.  Our John would have been dressed in a scaled down version of male adult clothing and this would have consisted of breeches, an over shirt with long sleeves and a doublet (fitted jacket/vest).

I imagine Thomas Fuller was dressed like this - only not so clean and new
I imagine Thomas Fuller was dressed like this – only not so clean and new

From an early age John would have had to work to help his family.  As the child of a peasant there was most likely no chance of any formal education and so at the age of just 6 years or so John would have worked alongside his father in the fields or tending to the animals.  Whether that was for themselves, or for someone else as tenant farmers is unknown.  It is well documented though that during this period unemployment was high and roughly 50% of the population lived with barely enough food, clothing or shelter.

During the late 1590’s crops failed and food was in short supply so John’s diet would have been very plain.  Breakfast would have consisted of bread made from rye or barley, some cheese and some onions.  There was most likely only one cooked meal which would have consisted of water mixed with some type of grain, vegetables that were grown in their garden, and perhaps some strips of meat if the family could afford them. Just maybe the children caught a fish now and again. No chance of a croissant here! 

John was actually lucky to reach the age of 6 years, as there was an extremely high mortality rate for infants and children.  There were no vaccinations so of course childhood diseases such as measles and mumps were killers, as were dysentery, scarlet fever and whooping cough, small pox and pneumonia.  One tenth of all children born died before their 1st birthday and a further 30% of children died before reaching the age of 15 years.  Accidents were also a cause of death during this period and drowning was the most reported cause of death in children under 5 years, while accidents such as being trampled by horses and receiving cracked skulls from being dropped by older siblings were also recorded.  No matter what the accident or illness the children were treated by their mothers with herbal remedies and often in highly unsanitary conditions.

Interior of All Saints Church, Heathfield, Photo by
Interior of All Saints Church, Heathfield, Photo by

The Church and worship played a huge roll in the lives of our ancestor’s living in Heathfield in England.  The church where John, his sibling and parents, attended services was most likely the All Saints Church which was originally built in the 13th century and has a large churchyard.  Because of the family’s peasant background they probably stood toward the back of the church during services looking toward the front of the church, which now displays a beautiful stained glass window.  Only the wealthy were actually able to sit to listen to services.  Our family would have faithfully worshipped and would have had a real fear, as did most people of this period, of going to hell should they not live a god fearing life. 

There is no headstone in the adjoining graveyard for anyone with the name of Fuller, although that does not mean that ancestors have not been burried there. 

It was our good fortune that John Fuller not only survived his childhood but went on to marry and have five children of his own, and we will learn more about that next time.



Posted in Stories

John Fuller – My 10 x Great Grandfather – Part 1

What the heck could I possibly know about a man who was baptised some time in 1590 and died in February of 1668. 

Well, the answer is nothing! – and everything!  The truth is that, whilst we don’t know the individual and there is no photographic evidence that he ever lived, we can learn about the documented  times and conditions in which John Fuller lived, and follow the paper trail he left  behind.  Researching life in the Early Modern period will give us a glimpse into the man that was my 10 x great grandfather on my maternal side of the family, what he lived through, how he ate, worked and enjoyed life – so here goes.

Image of what a cradle may have looked like
Image of what a cradle may have looked like

Born in 1590, John Fuller came into a nation that was just a little less worried about witchcraft and evil spirits than his parents and grandparents were born into.  The country was being ruled by Elizabeth 1 and it was also the year that Shakespear wrote Romeo and Juliet.  But these things may as well have been a world and a lifetime away from the lifestyle of John’s family.

 As far as we know, John was the first of five children born to Thomas and Jane Fuller who were living in or near Heathfield, England.  There is no indication that the family was anything but a hard working peasant family; no wealth or prominent position within the community that I can find.  I hope I am not assuming too much here. The life expectancy was very low with many, many dying before their 40th year.

What would family life have been like in the late 1500’s and early 1600’s for our John?  It is likely that John’s parents were very young, especially his mother, as during this time there was no legal age for marriage .  It was common at the time to consider a girl of 14 years to be too old for marriage. Jane’s role in life would have been to produce sons to carry on Thomas’s family name and help him work to provide for the family.  This concept was held by royalty and peasant alike during the Early Modern period of history.  Birthing was a dangerous time for the woman due to having no formal medical treatment available to them. The risk of infection or death to the mother and/or baby was high, so John’s survival and his mother’s recovery would have been very happy news.

Johns father’s word as male head of the house was law – a view that was taught by both parents and the church at the time.  John’s mother Jane would have had little to no say in the running of the family.   The only education that Jane would have had would have been instruction on how to run a home, tend to a vegetable garden and cook, which she would have received from her mother.  It is unlikely though, that Thomas would have received a formal education of any kind either.  It is likely that neither of John’s parents could read or write.


As peasants, his parents probably had a one or two room home made of wood by Thomas, with a small vegetable and herb garden close by.  There would have been a fireplace in the house over which Jane cooked the family meals in a cauldron and prepared simple herbal remedies for illness, but it is unlikely that there was a fireplace .  There was no glass in windows, only shutters to keep out the wind.  A bed of straw, a table, a stool or bench, a chest to store clothing in, and perhaps a small box cradle would have been the only furniture.  The floor was most likely compacted earth which, if they were lucky, was covered in straw for warmth and the family would have shared the house with their animals which would be cordoned off to one area.  The house was most likely lit by rushes which had been dipped in animal fat, as candles were too expensive.

Prepared Rush Lights
Prepared Rush Lights

Into this house our John was born! In the next post we will find out a little of what John’s child hood would have been like.