My children both loved our annual holidays at Te Maika. Initially we accompanied my parents and I had the added blessing of live-in babysitters (with nowhere to go!) but once my friends started coming up too, my father was happy to transport us over the harbour and leave us there for a week. Swimming, walking, beach barbeques, exploring, night-time games, rowing, fishing, clambering around rocks … what more could a child or teenager want??
One ritual which has now passed with the advent of solar lighting was the lighting of the lamp each evening. … the children clustered around the table; the lamp was lifted off its hook of wire hanging from a ceiling rafter; the kerosene tank at the base of the lamp was filled if necessary and then pumped to the “red line”. The small circular tray underneath the mantle was topped up with methylated spirits… ready to go… The meths was lit and all eyes were on the decreasing liquid in the tray as it evaporated and heated the mantle above. A little more pumping, another match ready for action and … an even bigger “whoosh!” as the gas inside the glass mantle cavity caught the flame of the match… flames flared and died and the ash mantle shone forth with a glow to light the room and, even more importantly, the table for playing whatever game was chosen for that evening.
We had a few mishaps over the years, as to be expected, and several times needed to take the lamp outside when the flames rose higher than expected, beyond the ceiling of the lamp. This, of course, put the bach at risk and was more likely to occur when the wind was blowing and the draught inside the bach made the flames flicker awkwardly. To remove the lamp outside on such occasions was not likely to solve any problems but there was no alternative if we didn’t want to lose the bach to a fire!
Several years ago these lamps were replaced with various high-powered torches and now solar panels on the roof of the bach allow us to have light at the flick of a switch. On a visit recently my daughter asked if we could light the old lamp simply because it was an experience she wanted to recall. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately!), the lamps have been retired to a shelf well out of the way and the mantles are not available for purchase any more….
And what about beach barbeques…?? Read my next blog post…