When I was a little girl at Lord Howe, my mum used to take my brother and me to visit Auntie Evie. Auntie Evie wasn't related to us - but at Lord Howe it's respectful to address older people as "Auntie" or "Uncle". She lived at "Janetville", a little old house under the mountain with an enormous garden and orchard.
In those days, we didn't have a phone at home and it was perfectly acceptable to drop in unannounced. We would always take something with us - usually fresh garfish as my dad loved fishing and we always had more than we needed. Pixie and Auntie Evie would have a cup of tea and she always had cake for us - the one I liked best was called Belgian Cake, made of short pastry and red jam.
Auntie Evie and Uncle Jim kept cows for milk and butter and had chooks and pigs. Their vegetable garden was enormous and they had lots of fruit trees - all types of citrus, bananas, peaches and mulberries. Nothing was wasted, Auntie Evie made jams and pickles and the pickles, which were delicious, were full of bean tops and carrot peelings.
Auntie Evie's nephew, George, recently came to stay at Pinetrees for a holiday. He reminded me that Auntie Evie spent her last few years in a nursing home in Taree working on her life story. She'd write it by hand and post the pages to Pixie and Pixie would type them, struggling with the shaky writing, and post them back to be checked and corrected. George took the finished work to the Lord Howe Island Museum and he also posted a copy to me.
It's fascinating reading. Auntie Evie describes how came to the Island in the early 1930s to work for my grandmother at Pinetrees and how she met her husband at a dance. She talks about hunting feral pigs and goats, collecting sooty tern eggs and eating mutton birds. She mentions travelling to Lord Howe by ship and how seasick she was. A lot of space is devoted to her pet woodhens. By the early 1980s the Lord Howe Island woodhen was almost extinct. After a successful captive breeding program, woodhens were released all over the Island, starting at Auntie Evie's house. She used to feed them patty cake because "they don't like sponge".