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Savannah Georgia

 

 

Savannah was the first British settlement in Georgia, named after King George II and thus the one time State capital and one of the oldest cities in North America.  It has since been eclipsed both as capital and in size by Atlanta but retains a southern charm that Atlanta lacks.

It was established on the Savannah river by James Oglethorpe, a social reformer and philanthropist, to provide land and a living to the 'worthy poor' of Britain who at that time were spilling out of the debtors prisons.   Among the crops that were brought from London and trialled by the would-be farmers was cotton.  This quickly became a cash crop in the south of North America feeding the cotton mills of Manchester and Birmingham.  But it was soon realised that the colony's ban on slavery would need to be lifted if the new entrepreneurs were to compete with the nearby Spanish and French slave states that had begun to grow cotton in competition. London duly complied and slavery thus became essential to economic success in this 'free market'.

Savannah is a very attractive city with pleasant parks and some fine old houses including the South's oldest public art museum: "with American & European works spread over 3 themed buildings".  The contemporary Jepson Center was featuring a Rodin exhibition which we decided not to fit in to our schedule, arguing that Rodin's work is replicated in many places.  So we parked the car midtown and walked the leafy streets to the river.  Very pleasant.

 


Historic Savannah - Click on this picture to see more
 

 

 

Wormsloe

Wormsloe is an Historic Estate established in 1736 by Noble Jones, one of James Oglethorpe's settlers, on Skidaway Island.  Noble Jones was the sort of 'jack of all trades' needed to establish a new settlement.  He was both innovative and well educated with: carpentry; surveying and mathematical skills; people skills; and hands-on technical knowhow.  It was he who surveyed and laid out the city of Savannah for Oglethorpe. He later became a member of the Royal Council and a senior Justice.

In many ways it was Noble Jones who was responsible for the success of the colony as he took charge when Oglethorpe was not present.  Like Oglethorpe he was opposed to slavery but in the end got overruled when the new settlers appealed to London.  Australians may remember that Governor Macquarie was similarly overruled and recalled when new settlers appealed to London.  Not in the interests of slavery but for the reverse, his policy of emancipating and elevating former convicts to positions of authority over free settlers. 

Initially Noble Jones built a fortified house on Skidaway Island that commands the river flats.  Again there is an Australian connection.  He manufactured lime by mining and firing aboriginal shell middens that had accumulated over thousands of years of oyster and other shell fish gathering by the natives.  This was then combined with more shells and sand to produce a soft concrete called 'tabby' that's particularly effective in absorbing musket fire.  Later he built a more commodious family home that still stands.   There's even a cricket pitch.  Probably one of the first in North America.

He's buried near the original fortified house, overlooking the river. 

 


Wormsloe Historic Estate - Click on this picture to see more
 

 

From Savannah we would return to South Carolina to Charleston to drop off the car and catch a flight to New Orleans.

 

 

 

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Travel

Hong Kong and Shenzhen China

 

 

 

 

 

Following our Japan trip in May 2017 we all returned to Hong Kong, after which Craig and Sonia headed home and Wendy and I headed to Shenzhen in China. 

I have mentioned both these locations as a result of previous travels.  They form what is effectively a single conurbation divided by the Hong Kong/Mainland border and this line also divides the population economically and in terms of population density.

These days there is a great deal of two way traffic between the two.  It's very easy if one has the appropriate passes; and just a little less so for foreign tourists like us.  Australians don't need a visa to Hong Kong but do need one to go into China unless flying through and stopping at certain locations for less than 72 hours.  Getting a visa requires a visit to the Chinese consulate at home or sitting around in a reception room on the Hong Kong side of the border, for about an hour in a ticket-queue, waiting for a (less expensive) temporary visa to be issued.

With documents in hand it's no more difficult than walking from one metro platform to the next, a five minute walk, interrupted in this case by queues at the immigration desks.  Both metros are world class and very similar, with the metro on the Chinese side a little more modern. It's also considerably less expensive. From here you can also take a very fast train to Guangzhou (see our recent visit there on this website) and from there to other major cities in China. 

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Fiction, Recollections & News

The McKie Family

 

 

 

Introduction

 

 

This is the story of the McKie family down a path through the gardens of the past that led to where I'm standing.  Other paths converged and merged as the McKies met and wed and bred.  Where possible I've glimpsed backwards up those paths as far as records would allow. 

The setting is Newcastle upon Tyne in northeast England and my path winds through a time when the gardens there flowered with exotic blooms and their seeds and nectar changed the entire world.  This was the blossoming of the late industrial and early scientific revolution and it flowered most brilliantly in Newcastle.

I've been to trace a couple of lines of ancestry back six generations to around the turn of the 19th century. Six generations ago, around the turn of the century, lived sixty-four individuals who each contributed a little less 1.6% of their genome to me, half of them on my mother's side and half on my father's.  Yet I can't name half a dozen of them.  But I do know one was called McKie.  So this is about his descendents; and the path they took; and some things a few of them contributed to Newcastle's fortunes; and who they met on the way.

In six generations, unless there is duplication due to copulating cousins, we all have 126 ancestors.  Over half of mine remain obscure to me but I know the majority had one thing in common, they lived in or around Newcastle upon Tyne.  Thus they contributed to the prosperity, fertility and skill of that blossoming town during the century and a half when the garden there was at its most fecund. So it's also a tale of one city.

My mother's family is the subject of a separate article on this website. 

 

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Opinions and Philosophy

Energy woes in South Australia

 

 

 

 

South Australia has run aground on the long foreseen wind energy reef - is this a lee shore?

Those of you who have followed my energy commentaries published here over the past six years will know that this situation was the entirely predictable outcome of South Australia pressing on with an unrealistic renewable energy target dependent on wind generated electricity, subsidised by market distorting Large-scale Generation Certificates (LGCs) (previously called RECs in some places on this website - the name was changed after their publication).  

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