Seletar Chronicle

News for Residents

Still Seletar

Posted by susanamy on March 7, 2013

It’s all changed, you probably know that, but there are still signs of life, even though most of the lyrical (and rather inappropriate central London names) have gone. Pictures to follow soon.

In the meantime, I’ve moved across the causeway, but to my delight, my neighbours are the Orang Seletar, the orang asli who eventually moved on when the British moved into Seletar to build an airbase.

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Seletar Chronicles 2001-2008

Posted by susanamy on October 5, 2008

Dear friends and residents, if you would like a bound copy of the Seletar Chronicle from its inaugural edition until its last, please email me at sue@postcardsfromseletar.com.

I have a few left of the only Seletar map, the limited edition prints by Isabelle Desjeux. Hurry to secure your copy.

I also have some copies of her delightful Seletar Nature notebooks with postcards at the back, as well as a few sets of Seletar nature greetings cards.

There won’t be another chance after November to get these, so please contact me now. Sue

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Ghost Town and Pumpkins

Posted by susanamy on October 5, 2008

As Halloween approaches, I have to recall the last 11 years, when 31 October has been celebrated in a spectacular way – by the living. Halloween festivities have always been very popular in Seletar, followed by the lantern festival. This year’s moon celebration was quieter than some years, but still the little lines of tottering lights along Bayswater denoted a faithful following of lantern fans. But what of Halloween 2008, with so many families having departed the camp?

Each year, Seletar is startled and assaulted by gangs of ghouls, witches, hags, wraiths, caspars, fairies and more at Halloween. Roasted marshmallows, trick or treat, cobweb parties at Haymarket, even dunking for apples (put your hands behind your back and take the apple out of the basin of water with your teeth) were their common pursuits. This year, there won’t be so many treats, but perhaps more tricks. 

Inhabited houses are few and far between on Hyde Park Gate, Haymarket, Park Lane and other roads, with darkness shrouding the vacated homes. With the breakup of our Seletar community, Halloweeners might be trick or treating the real ghosts, for this is the last chance for many spectres to haunt their old houses before the old residences are torn down. And there are ghost stories aplenty – you should drop by 10 Hyde Park Gate some time, where Oliver and Sue will regale you with some of them – some stories with first-hand experience. 

Why would the spirits of the departed want to haunt Seletar? Quite possibly because, like many of the living who have had to move out, they simply found no other lovelier place to live than this blessed plot. And perhaps too because they are indignant that so few of the others living outside Seletar seem to care about the heritage, the wildlife, the trees and the tranquility, allowing the airbase to be changed irrevocably. 

So, when we finally shut the front door for the last time, we will leave behind not only our memories, our last chance to see our houses standing, our magnificent and mature canopy of trees, our friends the parrots, blackbirds, magpie robins and sunbirds, but also the resident ghosts of Seletar past, present and those of Seletar yet to come.

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Happy New Year of the Rat

Posted by susanamy on October 5, 2008

Yes, Gong Xi Fa Cai! I knew the year of the rat was coming. When they knocked down the last bit of hangar next to Haymarket and behind my house, I was swamped with refugees – snakes, centipedes, spiders and a family of rats. All but the latter have settled in nicely, but the rats unfortunately fell foul of my feline patrol. A Chinese friend assured me that their demise was an auspicious sign for the coming year. My greatest sympathy went to the centipedes – with all those sensitive feet, imagine how they must have suffered when the bulldozers and jackhammers were in full swing. The air, full of cement dust for the past few weeks, seems to have cleared with the refreshing rain. One animal not disturbed by all the machines in the camp is the owl, who can be heard hooting all over the camp during the evening and night.

Spotted a group of RAF veterans in Jalan Kayu a few days ago. They were reminiscing about how they had bought their first set of china in a shop in Jalan Kayu (now Mad Jack’s). They were most impressed by the greenness of the camp and how splendid the trees were.

Nowadays in conversations with people around Singapore, they constantly ask me why Seletar Camp has to be demolished, since it is absolutely unique in nature, and why other plots of land can’t be used to lay down tarmac. I haven’t found a really good answer for this. The sad thing is that nobody really gets to hear all those voices who continue to tell me, “It’s a shame, and we’ll regret it when it’s gone!” “It should be kept – people need to know what Singapore used to be like!” “I love to go there with my family” etc. etc.
16th Feb – fancy a new year’s knees up with other residents? We’re having another of our famous parties in the Camp. Drop me an email at amy23s@pacific.net.sg if you’d like to join in. And don’t go out of town for the Easter weekend either – there seem to be quite a few things happening in the camp around that time.

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Events August and September

Posted by susanamy on August 22, 2008

30th August is the day for our next fleamarket.

Time: 2-6pm  Place: Lambeth Walk Carpark (opposite old golf clubhouse). If you wish to have your own stall, please sms me at 91057778 or email sue@postcardsfromseletar.com

Nature walks – 30th August and 6th September. Please register with Sue – sms 91057778 with name, number of people and preferred date.

If the 30th is successful, we will have another fleamarket on the last Saturday of September, October and November. Who knows what December will bring.

Long live the wonderful community of Seletar!

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Late Summer in Seletar

Posted by susanamy on August 22, 2008

We hardly seem to have had a dry season this year, but June and July were comparatively dry and now it’s starting to look more like the monsoon proper. Before the rain set in, we had weeks of pleasure with a family of what we think were eagles nesting in one of our trees. I checked with the Nature Society bird expert Ju Lin and she assured me that it was notoriously difficult to identify birds of prey. The baby (there seemed to be only one, or maybe it was the united cry of several) only cried at night (some human babies are fond of doing this too!). At first I thought it was a wounded animal. I came home one night, heard the noise and searched the garden with a torch, expecting to find the poor creature. It was only when I was under the tembusu tree that I realised that the sound came from above. We sat many nights listening to its cry. Then suddenly, the parent’s strong cries would be heard and a rather overjoyed sounding baby replied. Lately, we heard the baby’s cries from different trees, I suppose as it was learning to fly. Now I think it has taken wing and found a life up above. I really hope that it will come back to visit its birthplace and that my grand tembusu tree will still be standing for the babies to be born in.

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Heritage and Nature Walks

Posted by susanamy on July 5, 2008

We’ve been so busy lately, arranging walks for members of the public around Seletar Camp. These walks are in such hot demand that we’re putting up extra dates to accommodate the enthusiastic visitors.

Over June, Keng Seng, our resident plant and tree expert, led a number of nature walks for happy visitors, some of whom ended up with a giant home-grown avocado as a gift to take home and enjoy. They were so thrilled and some of them presented Keng Seng with chocolates as a token of gratitude for their unique afternoon tour. These tours have appeared on various websites and of course news of them has been spread by word of mouth too. The next 3 are fully booked. 19 July has a few places left. Check with Sue at 91057778 for the next available date.

The nature walks take you for a pleasant 1.5 hour amble around the Camp, taking in residents’ gardens and the natural environment of the area. Bring along a hat, water, a good pair of binoculars for bird spotting and a sense of adventure. Living in the city, we become so desensitised to all the creatures that live with us on this island, so it’s nice to take a breather in Seletar and just relax and observe. Ask your walk leader about any of the plants or animals you observe and learn something new. To book a place, please call Sue at 91057778. Since Keng Seng does this out of enthusiasm for Seletar, we hope all groups will be considerate and cooperative with booking, punctuality and attention. We have many repeat nature walkers!

So that’s nature. What about history?

The Jalan Kayu Heritage Trail and NC have helped us organise groups of enthusiastic heritage hunters, searching this seemingly modernised city for stories from the past. This morning, we had 20 visitors in the house, full of questions about the camp. We were able to fill them in on Seletar’s past significance (first Singaporeans may have lived here! Best and biggest RAF base in the East! Target for bombing during the occupation! And much much more) and present meaningfulness (great heritage, beautiful environment, fascinating vibrant community and abundant nature!). We watched Li Xiuqi’s short film on the area and all left, saying they didn’t want to leave! They were so excited to find out about this less known “jewel” of Singapore and supported the continuing existence of the residential area for future generations to benefit from. There are many more of these tours taking place this year, so please contact Sue if you’d like to take part, or if you are a resident, if you’d like to host one of these. Tel 91057778.

Now we are all wondering what is going to happen to the lately renovated guardhouses at the front gate. We do hope that there will be some room for a museum there.

Whether you’re joining an organised tour or striking out on your own around the camp on foot or by bike, enjoy the splendours of Seletar and tell your friends.

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Good Neighbours

Posted by susanamy on June 30, 2008

After another packed June holiday, it’s nice to have more time to sit back and enjoy our Seletar gardens. My next door neighbours moved out some 2 months ago, and it has been interesting to see how Nature has set up as the new tenant. One resident is a 12-inch baby monitor lizard. There is also an escapee parrot. The attraction? An abundance of wildlife and flowering plants as feasts and an undisturbed tranquil life without fear of human disturbance. We can look on amused from our side of the fence. But for some time now, our gardening style has also been on the side of Nature who, it seems, knows best. Recently, the story about bees disappearing worldwide due to the use of pesticides has resurfaced with the threat of their extinction being even more imminent. Gardeners’ note: A mixture of garlic, chilli and black pepper soaked in water makes a powerful pest repellent. Discard the solids and use the spray on plants to discourage insects. Mind your eyes, though. We have bees aplenty here…

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking along the lines of connectedness lately, and this becomes more poignant when in contrast to the lilting tranquility and diversity of the garden, just over the fence, bulldozers and other heavy machinery are at work laying quantities of concrete and tarmac and cutting down trees, removing hedges and undergrowth and creating an environment bent on being devoid of life.

As I write at the window, a chameleon on a belimbing tree cocks his head as if to judge what I’m writing. An exotic escapee parrot vies with the resident green parakeets in the tembusu tree. A vivid green beetle, antenna twitching investigates my computer screen. Such a wealth of neighbours big and small I shall certainly miss.

My human neighbours from all over Seletar still stay in touch even though they had to leave here for one reason or another. All say that living in Seletar were among the sweetest days of their lives for the nature and the community, and the sense of historical continuity. They have settled elsewhere and made other lives, but Seletar still holds that special place for them. Even for those who lived here as long as ago as 1941, Seletar still draws them back.

My human neighbours may have left, but I still hope that Seletar will be home to many others in time to come. The community I treasured has spread further apart, but I am happy to see that we still have connections both in Singapore and abroad.

And I hope it will continue to be a home to my animal neighbours too. Must go now  – Nature calls!

p.s. The Seletar Chronicle is here for you. If you enjoy Seletar now or have been a member of its community in the past, do drop us a comment or add an article. Or if you think you can’t write, just drop by for a cup of tea in the garden!

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June Holidays in Seletar

Posted by susanamy on May 20, 2008

Events are filling up the days in June to make the school holidays memorable. Check out Sabine and Isabelle’s websites for detailed information on their holiday workshops. And don’t forget the fair at the Orientus Resort – inside Seletar Camp at Mornington Crescent – on the 14th of June. We’ll be sending flyers around with all the June events, but in case you don’t get one, email Sue at sue@postcardsfromseletar.com

Even the days without events are always fun in Seletar! Just come and take a stroll around this unique corner of Singapore. See how many different birds you can spot, how many wild and cultivated flowers and plants and trees there are and how many small planes you can see taking off. Talk to residents and ask them about their experiences of living in this natural wonderland. Seletar – a great community, history, nature – so much to offer!

June Calendar

Date & Time    Event and description                                  Location

27th May Tues    Introduction to Printmaking 7-12 yrs, 2pm    Isabelle
30th May Fri    Petites Vitrines    Sabine
31st May Sat    Ceramics workshop    Steven
1st June Sun    Ceramics workshop    Steven
2nd June Mon    Petites Vitrines    Sabine
3rd June Tues    Print your Book, for 7 to 12 years old 2pm  Isabelle
Petites Vitrines 9-12pm Sabine
Open House 12.30   Sabine
8th June Sun    Ceramics workshop    Steven
10th June Tues, 2pm    Fun with Paints, for 5 years and older    Isabelle
14th June Sat    Seletar fair, fun games competitions and flea market at Orientus. BBQ at Beavers restaurant, children eat for free!    Community- Sue 91057778
17th June Tues, 2pm    Design your own Notebook, for 7 to 12 years old

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Seletar Children in June

Posted by susanamy on April 18, 2008

Seletar – A child’s natural choice for the holidays

June holidays are around the corner and the wise have probably booked their holidays by now. It’s great to get away, but so disappointing when you hear about all the great things going on in Singapore during that month. Now we have the solution! We have events for children running all through the holiday period, so you’ll be sure to catch something in Seletar Camp on one of those 4 weeks. On the cards are a set of races and other sporty events, a shadow puppet show and play, nature walks, flights over Seletar, tree naming competition and art, craft and pottery workshops. Stay in touch with this website for more news. You can also email me at sue@postcardsfromseletar.com if you would like to know more, or if you would like to take part. See you around the Camp!

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