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Great aunts of the family

Thora Stace

b. 1920, Wellington NZ

m. Laurence Melsop, May 1970

Norman’s older sister, Thora currently lives in New Zealand


Aileen Mary Stace

b. 14 Mar 1895 in Manawatu, New Zealand

d. 19 Aug 1977 in Wellington, New Zealand


Norman’s aunt Aileen Mary Stace was born on 14 March 1895 at Stoney Creek, Manawatu, to Thomas Walter Stace, a farmer, and his wife, Harriett Matilda Bannister. She was the youngest of eight children. After catching tuberculosis of the spine as an infant, her back became hunched and her legs paralysed, and she received no formal schooling. Clever and artistic, she taught herself a great deal and read widely. She enjoyed the arts, especially ballet.

Aileen’s mother died in 1912, and from 1914 she lived with her father in Wellington until his death in 1921. She then went to live with her sister, Linda Girdlestone, and her husband, Cyril, in Nikau Street, Eastbourne, moving into her own cottage in their garden around 1926. She never married.

She died on 19 August 1977 at Lower Hutt. Afterwards, the Eastbourne Spinners continued to meet, and they gifted examples of her knitting to the Dowse Art Museum. Atalanta went to the Southward Museum Trust.


Mabel Jessie Stace

Mabel Jessie Stace (1881-1966) was an aunt of Norman’s. Mabel married Gordon Aitken on 8 August 1910.  Their son, Hollis Stace Aitken (aka G Aitken - perhaps Gordon?) was born on 30 September 1910. [9] 

Two days two days after he married Mabel, Gordon was transferred to Napier[11].

Gordon was killed at Chunuk Bair (Gallipoli) during WWI on 8 August 1915.  

Following Gordon's death, Mabel married Frederick John Sygrove in 1919.  Together, Mabel and Frederick had four sons,  Frederick Sygrove (13 September 1917 - 2002), Scott Stace Sygrove (23 April 1920 - 2008), Peter Stace Sygrove (11 February 1922 - 2002) and Robin Sygrove.  

Aileen Mary Stace


Florence Venables Hall (1897 – 1987) was Corinne’s oldest sister, born in England. At the age of 23 she married Robert Grabham in Sydney. They ran a farm in northern New South Wales, but unfortunately the farmhouse burnt down while they were on holidays. She wrote to her parents, who moved out from England with their daughters Jean, May and Corinne. 

By 1932 she was living in Perth, Western Australia, where she made a number of watercolour paintings.  In 1957 she emigrated to New Zealand. 

Perth from South Perth, 1932



Paintings by Florence include:



Camp Site

Watercolour, signed lower left, 26 x 32 cm

Perth from South Perth 

Watercolour, signed and dated 1932 lower right, 35 x 30 cm

Moored Boats Meelup Bay

Watercolour, signed lower right, 20 x 26.5 cm

Portrait of Flora Bobone

Pencil, signed and dated 1938, lower right, 28 x 23 cm

Old Fremantle Bridge 

Watercolour, signed lower right, 26 x 24 cm

Trilli (Portrait of Flora Bobone)

Pencil, signed and dated '1938' lower right, 36.5 x 28 cm


Watercolour, signed and dated '35 lower right, 17 x 22 cm

Boscastle Estuary, Cornwall

Watercolour, signed, 36 x 48 cm

River Fishing c. 1930's

Oil on canvas, unframed, 35 x 25 cm

Paper Barks, Swan River

Watercolour, signed, 26 x 32 cm


Watercolour, signed

By the River Applecross Wa 

Watercolour, signed lower left, hand written title, 29.5 x 35.5 cm

Landscape with Gum Tree

Watercolour, signed, 25 x 20 cm

The Edge of the Beach 

Watercolour, signed, 38 x 39 cm

The Maitai Ford

Watercolour, signed, 38 x 28 cm


By the River Applecross WA

Old Fremantle Bridge

Portrait of Flora Bobone, 1938


Annie Hall

Annie Hall (1860 in Sligo, Ireland - 1929 in The Hague, Holland) was Corinne’s eldest aunt. She married a Dutch artist, Jan Theodore Toorup who was half Dutch and half Javanese (Indonesian). 

They had a daughter Annie Caroline Pontifex Toorop (1891-1955), nicknamed Charlie. 



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In the seventies I spent some time travelling around Denmark visiting geographically diverse relatives but in a couple of days there was no time to repeat that, so this was to be a quick trip to two places that I remembered as standing out in 1970's: Copenhagen and Roskilde.

An increasing number of Danes are my progressively distant cousins by virtue of my great aunt marrying a Dane, thus contributing my mother's grandparent's DNA to the extended family in Denmark.  As a result, these Danes are my children's cousins too.

Denmark is a relatively small but wealthy country in which people share a common language and thus similar values, like an enthusiasm for subsidising wind power and shunning nuclear energy, except as an import from Germany, Sweden and France. 

They also like all things cultural and historical and to judge by the museums and cultural activities many take pride in the Danish Vikings who were amongst those who contributed to my aforementioned DNA, way back.  My Danish great uncle liked to listen to Geordies on the buses in Newcastle speaking Tyneside, as he discovered many words in common with Danish thanks to those Danes who had settled in the Tyne valley.

Nevertheless, compared to Australia or the US or even many other European countries, Denmark is remarkably monocultural. A social scientist I listened to last year made the point that the sense of community, that a single language and culture confers, creates a sense of extended family.  This allows the Scandinavian countries to maintain very generous social welfare, supported by some of the highest tax rates in the world, yet to be sufficiently productive and hence consumptive per capita, to maintain among the highest material standards of living in the world. 

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Fiction, Recollections & News

The Book of Mormon





Back in the mid 1960's when I was at university and still living at home with my parents in Thornleigh, two dark suited, white shirted, dark tied, earnest young men, fresh from the United States, appeared at our door.

Having discovered that they weren't from IBM my mother was all for shooing them away.  But I was taking an interest in philosophy and psychology and here were two interesting examples of religious fervour.

As I often have with similar missionaries (see: Daniel, the Jehovah’s Witness in Easter on this Website), I invited them in and they were very pleased to tell me about their book.  I remember them poised on the front of our couch, not daring or willing to sit back in comfort, as they eagerly told me about their revelation.  

And so it came to pass that a week ago when we travelled to Melbourne to stay with my step-son Lachlan and his family and to see the musical: The Book of Mormon I was immediately taken back to 1964.

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Opinions and Philosophy

Issues Arising from the Greenhouse Hypothesis

This paper was first written in 1990 - nearly 30 years ago - yet little has changed.

Except of course, that a lot of politicians and bureaucrats have put in a lot of air miles and stayed in some excellent hotels in interesting places around the world like Kyoto, Amsterdam and Cancun. 

In the interim technology has come to our aid.  Wind turbines, dismissed here, have become larger and much more economic as have PV solar panels.  Renewable energy options are discussed in more detail elsewhere on this website.



Climate Change

Issues Arising from the Greenhouse Hypothesis


Climate change has wide ranging implications for the World, ranging from its impacts on agriculture (through drought, floods, water availability, land degradation and carbon credits) mining (by limiting markets for coal and minerals processing) manufacturing and transport (through energy costs) to property damage resulting from storms.  The issues are complex, ranging from disputes about the impact of human activities on global warming, to arguments about what should be done and the consequences of the various actions proposed.  The following paper explores some of the issues and their potential impact.


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