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Sunday, 25 July 2010

Serendipitous Sunday

We went to a Birthday party yesterday, and didn't get back until later. Then the Boks were playing the Wallabies so the rest of the evening was all set, so no time for blogging.
But a strange occurrence at the party. The birthday boy (BB)was celebrating 90 years, and had about 30 odd friends and relatives around. Plenty of food and drink. Later many of the other guests had left, and 3 or 4 of us sat down with him for a little drink of whisky.
I always enjoy talking with the BB. His memory is sharp, and he can tell a good story. We were talking about travel.
One of the party recounted his various trips to Europe, and all the Kiwis chipped in with various stories about Big OEs to Europe, mostly the UK. BB then told us of his first voyage to the UK, at the start of WWII, when he joined the RNZN. He was telling us of his journey via Canada, and of travelling then to the UK on a ship, the SS Ceramic, going up the Denmark Strait, between Iceland and Greenland.
Now what is weird is the name of the ship.

The SS Ceramic entering Lyttelton.

I had never heard the name SS Ceramic before that day, it's a bit unusual.
It's so unusual that I remembered reading about it that morning. In another blog, Clive had mentioned that he travelled back to NZ from the UK on the SS Corinthic, and when, out of interest, I had Googled the name, it led me to a site which showed that the 4 ships, operated by the Shaw Savill shipping line included the SS Ceramic (all the ship names ended in ic).
I'm in my late 50s.
I had never read or heard about that ship before Saturday.
Yet had a discussion on it by two completely unrelated people on the same day.

BTW The BB told me that the SS Ceramic did not survive the war, being torpedoed on a return voyage to NZ.


  1. My father was a seafarer (an engineer on coastal ships) he always referred to ships that travelled overseas as 'Home boats'.
    I just googled it:
    "The ‘Home boats’, as the UK trade ships were called, were British, and they were tightly controlled by cartels, or conferences, which set charges and allocated tonnages to members.
    The conference lines phased out the last sailing ships (now mere cargo carriers) in the early 1900s. By then they were building two types of ship. The passenger–cargo liner Rimutaka of 1900 was about 8,000 tons, slow but economical. At sea, height and class went together. The Rimutaka carried 40 first-class passengers on the bridge deck, 50 second-class and 80 third-class passengers on the upper deck. A further 170 emigrants were carried in temporary dormitories that could be fitted up in the holds on the outward voyage. The second type of ship were primarily cargo carriers. The Rakaia of 1895 was slightly smaller, at 5,600 tons, although she carried 26 first-class passengers above decks and could squeeze emigrants into dormitories in the ’tween decks when required. In 1901–3, the 12,230-ton heavyweights Athenic, Corinthic and Ionic entered a new Shaw Savill–White Star joint service."
    It was my dad's intention, as a young man, to work on the Home Boats (around 1949-50), but then he met my mother and decided to make my brothers and me.
    If he's worked on the Home boats, there might never have been a Richard's Bass Bag!

  2. Your father has a lot to answer for!

  3. TSB - what was the whisky you were drinking?

  4. Interesting.
    I didn't know that the sea transport was so tightly controlled. I wonder if the current set-up is as monopolistic.
    I know that when I was arranging to get a container from the UK to NZ about 6 years ago, their were very few choices about which shipping line I could use.

    You never know Richard (of RBB), if your Dad had gone on a "home boat", he might have been bursting with so much reproductive energy when he came back after an extended absence, that there might have been even more bothers, or even sisters.
    Imagine 10 little Richard (of RBB)s.
    Perhaps not.

  5. "TSB - what was the whisky you were drinking? "
    Hi TWG, it was an ordinary Teachers, offered with ice and/or water, but accepted neat.
    Very welcome.
    Previously I had been offered a choice of White wine, beer or sherry.
    Like an idiot I accepted sherry, expecting perhaps a Harvey's Bristol Cream, or a Croft Original or even a real Amontillado or equivalent.
    What was given was (I think) Ormond Rich Cream.

    Dear God, I hadn't realised that colonial tastes had deteriorated so far.
    I'll happily put up with too sweet pickles and canned soups.
    I'll even accept that abomination called Cheerios (which, with Tomato Ketchup are curiously addictive)
    But please, please, get rid of that stuff you Kiwis call "Sherry"

  6. "that there might have been even more bothers, or even sisters."

    Bothers - I like that.
    There is the Big Bother
    The Bass Bother
    The God Both(er)er
    The Penultimate Bother and,
    The Little Bother


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