Grandmother’s Legacy and a silk kimono

Grandmothers legacy by Jan Robinson

Jan’s Grandmother, Tiby on her wedding day.

A big thank you today to contributor, Jan Robinson, who has reflected on some heartwarming memories of her Grandmother, along with the life changing legacy she bestowed on Jan.

Just what was the legacy and why does a silk kimono come into the story?

Read on …

A Grandmother’s Legacy.

I don’t yet have grandchildren, but when I do, I hope to inspire them.

I hope to make an impression that lingers in their psyche, so ingrained and subtle that they don’t even realize it exists.

But first, let me explain.

Tiby’s stories

My grandmother told me her life stories over and over, in the annoying yet mindful way that the elderly have sometimes.  With repetition they became known, like times tables learned parrot fashion, boring maybe, but never forgotten.

Some were stories from her twenties, when she lived on a Western Queensland property.

Picture the setting

It was the Victorian Era, when women wore corsets beneath high necked blouses and petticoated skirts.  An era when entertainment meant home grown music and “the carpets rolled back” to a dance floor of bare boards.

A small tribe of aboriginals also lived on that property.  I am unclear as to whether they were workers, or if they lived there because it was their land first, but most probably it was a combination of the two.

Tiby (a nickname bestowed on my grandmother by her husband and my Pop) went walkabout with them sometimes.  I only remember stories featuring herself and her two aboriginal friends, but my mother says that Pop and her friends’ husbands also took part in the walkabouts.

In any case, I felt it was a very unusual thing for a young woman of English/Irish heritage to do at the time.

One walkabout morning they happened to be wandering along the train tracks when Tiby froze when a train came thundering towards her.  With a desperate cry her friend managed to drag her from the tracks just in time.  At that stage of the story she would pause, and with misty eyes that seemed to be looking into the past declare in a wobbly voice:

“She saved my life that day”.

Today as I replay her words in my mind, it is my turn to become misty eyed.

By telling me these stories my grandmother, consciously or unconsciously, gave me her permission  to be adventurous  and not to be shackled by convention.

It was her legacy to me

When Pop died and Tiby was well into her seventies, she started booking on cruises. We called it ‘her cruise boat phase.’

 “I am going on the Oriana to the Orient” she announced grandly, not being one for shows of false humility.

Her return was littered triumphantly with stories of orchestras playing on board ship and oriental food adventures ashore.  There were gifts of geisha dolls “for the china cabinet”, vinyl records of strange music with indecipherable lyrics and cool shiny kimonos that wrapped around my beanpole body and transported it to a private Orient.

She pooh-poohed the naysayers, cruising to more destinations in Asia and the Pacific, pushing the limits of age and infirmities.  Her cruising adventures stopped on her own terms, when the money finally ran out.

An inherited travel gene … from walkabout stories or a silk kimono?

Although my brother and I learned our geography lessons the enjoyable way – from the back seat of the family car on extended road trips – our parents had neither the money nor the inclination to travel overseas.  Even so, when I was twenty, travel became affordable and I started to travel solo through the U.K., Europe and Asia, never once wondering where the insistent desire to explore came from.

In retrospect I am quite sure it was hatched when a little Aussie girl wrapped herself in a silk kimono, and inspired by walkabout stories, imagined herself to be a traveller.

Grandmothers legacy by Jan Robinson

Jan Robinson showing off some Vietnamese pearls purchased on one of her own travel escapades to the ‘Orient’.

Now a woman well into my fifties, I have the opportunity to travel more and more, continuing on a path of independent budget travel with my husband.  But I have started thinking lately, that when I am in my seventies and have grandchildren whom I can impress bore with my stories, I might just embark on my own cruise boat phase…

To the Orient – of course.

Bio:  Apart from several years living in Perth and Melbourne and a nine month block living in the U.K., North Queensland has always been home base for Jan and her husband Marty.  Thinking when their backpacking days were over they would eventually mature into more upmarket travellers, they slowly realized that they enjoy the fun of budget travel too much to make the transition.   Jan can be found sharing their budget travel journeys, destinations and experiences at Budget Travel Talk.


  1. Rae Hilhorst says:

    Thanks for sharing Jan, great story. I should imagine it would have been an usual sight to see an english girl going walkabout with her aboriginal friends. I bet your wishing you had a photo of that. Our elders stories I feel are very precious, I want to capture my fathers stories before he can no longer remember them, he to repeats them, over and over, which is good for me to, as I will remember them and never forget as they have been drummed into me. Ps, I enjoy your blog. xxxx Rae

  2. Mary Martin says:

    Neat story! Safe adventures to you. Have you visited the US?

  3. wonderful story Jan. I have thought about my grandmother a lot of the last few years and the life she had out in the bush in the new WA wheatbelt – bringing up 8 children in a wattle branch hut. I am sure modern western woman wouldn’t manage at all!

    • Fascinating Jill. I hope you’ll write about her one day too 🙂 Btw, Jan is on the road at the moment but I’m sure she’ll check in here soon.

    • Hi Jill, What an amazing story that would be and what endurance skills that life would have taken. I hope our Grandmothers know we are thinking of them. 🙂

  4. Thanks Jo for presenting my story in such Style. We are in Istanbul at the moment and have only just got Internet as we stupidly lost our laptop at Brisbane airport. We did not realize until we were boarding! However our son located it in lost property and is going to send it to us. We will be away for three months. Sorry I took so long to catch up:)

    • Hi Jan, I was wondering where you were and how you were! Losing a laptop – oh my – what a nightmare, poor you! Thanks for taking the time to pop by and check in here though, and no worries, your story was epic. Loved it 🙂 Enjoy Istanbul and the rest of your holiday – can’t wait for some new blog posts 🙂

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