Thursday, 13 March 2014

In My Own Words


I've been busy sifting through old memories and family photographs. It all started with the arrival of this gift from my son and daughter-in-law. 'In My Grandma’s Words' is the story of my life as I remember it. I thought it was going to be difficult, but once I began jotting things down it became easier. It’s amazing how one memory triggers another and having prompts throughout the book was a great help.I returned the completed book to my family during a holiday in Malaysia at the end of last year (see previous post here), but before I pack away the 'photos and memories, I though it would be nice to share some of them with you.

I hope you agree!!



My favourite picture of my dad taken in 1935

This is another photo of dad with two friends; dad is wearing a jacket and tie. Mum used to say she fell in love with him because he was always so smartly dressed. He gave up smoking when I was a little girl but by then he had already damaged his lungs.

Mum and dad were married at The Holy Trinity Church in Walton, Buckinghamshire by the Rev. Brian Hession.

An old, yellowing newspaper clipping described their wedding like this;

One of the prettiest during the Whitsuntide holidays.  The bride, who was given away by her father wore a dress of ankle-length white satin with a veil and halo of orange blossom. She carried a bouquet of pink and white carnations and was attended by her matron of honour who wore an ankle-length white dress with a floral design in blue, green and yellow, a white picture hat, and carried a bouquet of yellow iris. The two bridesmaids wore ankle-length blue satin dresses, and had wreaths of pink and white roses and forget-me-not in their hair. They carried posies of blue corn-flowers.

In the first of the three photos (above) mum and dad and my brother and sister are visiting the Bekonscot model village in Buckinghamshire. I'm guessing the year was 1947 as it was before I was born. I think the other two were taken in the 60s, but I can’t be sure.

These are three of my favourite photographs. The top one was taken on the Isle of Wight. Dad went for a job interview, and we all went along for the day. My sister, brother and I really hoped he would get the job, mainly because there was a swimming pool in the grounds. We also loved this big friendly farm dog.  I have no recollection of what happened, but we didn't live on the island, so I can only assume he didn't get the job.

If you take a close look at the second picture, you might just be able to see the kitten on my knee and a bird (possibly a crow) on the step. We usually had at least one injured bird living with us. The one I remember most was a Jackdaw. He came back for visits long after he was well and always left with a souvenir. He would fly off to the woods with his stolen booty. It amused us to think of a nest full of shiny pens and spoons and other bits and pieces. The nest must be long gone but somewhere in those woods is a little collection of pilfered objects.  

My first job on leaving school was working in a general haberdasher and gent’s outfitters four miles from home. I loved cycling to and from work during the summer but not in the winter when it was often dark and cold. 

Close up of bird and kitten

Terry and I on our wedding day in June 1970. My sister was matron-of-honour, and her daughter Paula was a bridesmaid. There was a second little bridesmaid, but she was too shy to be in the photographs.
   
Terry and I with our son Steven.

A day trip to London (Terry is behind the camera). We took Kelly the beagle with us, and he loved it! The two little dogs at the bottom are Patch and Albe our much-loved and much missed King Charles Spaniels.

Our son and daughter-in-law were married in Fiji. Terry was best man and is standing to the left of Steven. I'm on the far right. Karen and Steven wore thongs (flip-flops) so we all did the same. 

My memory book ended with this picture of Terry and I with our two little granddaughters in Australia, but I can’t end this post

without mentioning our two grown-up grandsons from our son’s first marriage. Kip and Tris lived in Australia until recently but have now returned to the UK.  This is a 'photo taken on Christmas day 2013. We were thrilled when the boys decided to spend it with us.

This poem by Robert Louis Stevenson perfectly sums up memories of my own childhood. I didn't leave home in a coach but in a flurry of petticoats and confetti!

The coach is at the door at last;
The eager children, mounting fast
And kissing hands, in chorus sing:
Good-bye, good-bye to everything!

To house and garden, field and lawn,
The meadow-gates we swung upon,
To pump and stable, tree and swing,
Good-bye, good-bye, to everything!

And fare you well for evermore,
O ladder at the hayloft door,
O hayloft where the cobwebs cling,
Good-bye, good-bye, to everything!

Crack goes the whip, and off we go;
The trees and houses smaller grow;
Last, round the woody turn we swing:
Good-by, good-bye, to everything!

Have you written down your memories? Or is there someone in your past you wish you knew more about?

57 comments:

  1. My dear friend,

    I am deeply moved, not only in a sentimental way, but in a way for a call to ACTION. What you have done here is badly needed in my life. In wanting to write, I have forgotten my own life, "In My Own Words" as you have beautifully illustrated here. Like your dad, my father smoked and did quite a bit of damage to his lungs. He did live a rich and full life to 82, but I think he would have kept going if not for the smoking.

    Your photos are special. To see life in England back then, of a family that I don't know, but have a small connection to through you, makes me feel how connected we all really are.

    This was a great idea, and I need to do the same. Thank you for your inspiration today! Anita

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    1. Thank you Anita, your comment means more than you will ever know. I’m so grateful for friends like you. xx

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  2. This is just lovely, Barbara and thank you for sharing it with us. What a nice thing for your son and daughter in law to do for you. What a really nice family you have.

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    1. Thank you Alex, I'm incredibly lucky to have such a loving family.

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  3. What a wonderful gift to pass on to the next generation. My dad wrote down several stories for the family to read. So glad he did that before he passed away.

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    1. Hello Gayle, Dad could not be persuaded to write anything down but after mum died, we found a notebook with a few of her memories. Just wish there were more. Thanks for your visit.

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  4. Looks like a charmed life and you are a beautiful woman and a great memoir writer. Rossini wrote a lovely piece of music, I think it's called The Thieving Magpie--your picture with the bird reminded me....So funny how handsome and proud your dad is with his car and his friends but on his wedding day he looks scared!. He could pass for royalty and so can you. Like Julie Andrews or something. Lovely!

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    1. Eve, what lovely things to say, thank you! I had forgotten all about that piece of music, but I’ve just found it and have it playing as I write this. The cover ‘photo shows a magpie with a spoon in his mouth – how funny. I had never really looked at it before. Rossini could have been writing about ‘our’ jackdaw or maybe our jackdaw was a magpie! I was quite small at the time so anything is possible. : )

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  5. Thanks for your trip down your memory lane, way to go Babs. be well agman

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    1. Hello Agman, how lovely to 'see' you. Thanks for your kind words. I hope you are keeping well. Barbara

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  6. Oh Barbara! What a sweet and sentimental journey you have taken us on! I have a tear in my eye! So nostalgic! Thanks for bringing us up to date on your lovely family! Those books are wonderful and I think everyone should fill one out. I am so happy that spring and sunshine are finally bringing you some warmer days. We are still melting snow here!

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    1. Hello Diane, I keep trying to blow the sunshine your way, but that snow is difficult to shift! I’m so pleased you enjoyed the post. I was hesitant about sharing it. I have no confidence whatsoever when it comes to writing about more personal things. Describing and enthusing about books is so much easier. It’s foggy in the UK this morning with the promise of sunshine later. I'm sure it will be coming your way soon. Have a lovely day.

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  7. Barbara, this is an absolutely perfect post. I have tears in my eyes as I type.

    Your grandchildren will treasure this book, as will their grandchildren and so on.
    Such a briliant idea.

    I did begin my own family tree a few months back, but haven't worked on it in a while.

    I wish I knew more about my family in Italy (my mother's side) after my grandmother passed, no-one thought to keep in touch with them.

    Have a wonderful weekend x

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    1. Thank you so much Yvonne. I’m never really sure if this type of post will be well received so it’s lovely to know you enjoyed it.
      When my parents were alive asking questions didn’t seem important – how wrong I was, I really wish I had the opportunity to go back in time!
      Enjoy your weekend. Barbara x

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  8. My dear Barbara, I thank you for coming on back to respond to my comment; it is with great sincerity that I applaud you or any one of us who dare to write in the public. It has been a life-altering experience to write, learn, correct, adjust and grow through the writing process, but most of all meeting others with common or even DIFFERENT views. I so love what you shared her and it matters. It is beautiful. Oh, happy evening my dear Barbara! Anita

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    1. Thank you so much Anita, your lovely words mean the world to me. Barbara.

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  9. Something made me look at the blogs on my reading list tonight even though I am feeling as tired as usual & can't wait for my bed! When I saw the thumbnail of your post I knew why I was here. This is the most wonderfully beautiful post Barbara. I just loved looking at your photos and reading what you had to say about each one. What a marvellous idea - and you have put it together so well. I'm so glad you decided to share it - and that I happened by today to see it!

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    1. Thank you Sharon! I remember a lovely post you did where you shared photographs of some of the dresses you wore when you were a little girl (hand stitched by your mother if I’m not mistaken) you went on to talk about your parents and your early life. It stayed in my mind because I enjoyed it so much. When I put this post together I was thinking about that post so maybe my thought waves reached out to you! I’m really pleased you called in. Barbara

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  10. I enjoyed this walk down memory lane with you. I love how you ended it with all the grandchildren. How wonderful your grandsons are back in the UK.

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    1. Thank you Darlene. Spending Christmas with our Grandsons was a real treat, and it’s nice to know they are just up the road rather than on the other side of the world.

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  11. I love this post! What a wonderful keepsake for your grandchildren. I would be over the moon if I had something like this from my grandmothers. I think it is so important to document our memories and those of our loved ones. I keep meaning to interview my parents and inlaws so that their stories can be documented for their grandchildren (although I have no children, I think my nieces and nephews would be thrilled to have the stories). My mom started a book like this for me when I was in college, but it isn't finished yet. Seeing this post makes me realize I need to give the book back to her and have her finish it. :)

    So glad you got to spend last Christmas with your grandchildren. :)

    Beautiful pictures. Thanks for letting us stroll down memory lane with you!

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    1. It was wonderful to have you here to share my stroll down memory lane, thank you so much for taking the time to call in. You really should get your mum to finish that book, and don’t forget your memories are important too. Have a great weekend. Barbara.

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  12. Thank you so much for sharing a little bit of your history with us!! I love looking through my own photo albums- so many fond memories!!

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    1. Hello Teressa, I always think how sad it is when albums of family photographs turn up at auction or in book sales. All those memories lost for ever. Thanks for your visit. Barbara x

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  13. This is wonderful. My grandmother put a book together like this for me and I still cherish 20 years later.

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    1. That’s so lovely. I wish I had something similar from my grandparents, but sadly, they left nothing behind (as far as I know). Thanks for calling in, Barbara.

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  14. Hi Sister
    Lovely memories. Dad did get the job on the Isle of Wight, but Mum just hated the big old farmhouse with a stone sink. We had a jackdaw and a magpie at one stage and do you remember my pet mouse (he got stuck in my wellington boot and died!).
    Lots of love
    Sue

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    1. Hello Sue, thank you for jogging my memory. I had forgotten all about the house with the stone sink, but of course that is how we ended up living at Well. I think I’ve sort of morphed the jackdaw and the magpie into one and the same bird, but thinking about it it must have been the magpie who took all the bits and pieces off to the woods. I have no recollection at all about the mouse and the wellington boot – how sad that he died. I do remember the little dog you had when I was very tiny. I also remember granny sitting on her pet budgerigar – do you remember that?
      I know you have written about your life for Paula and Robyn, but have you written down all these little memories? If not, why not?
      See you in April, lots of love xxxx

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  15. What a beautiful idea and such a magical keepsake. I know how much researching my family tree meant to me and to have something like this would have meant the world. Thank you so much for sharing this, I feel honoured.

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    1. Hello Tracy, and I feel honoured that you took the time to read it. Thank you! Have a lovely weekend. Barbara x

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  16. What a lovely post Barbara. Thanks for sharing such lovely memories and a little bit of your life. When I saw your picture with the kitten it reminded me of my childhood. Perhaps I should share a little bit of my memories too.

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    1. Hello Shashi, I would love to read about your memories. I hope you will share some of them. Thanks so much for your comment.

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  17. Barbara,
    Happened to look at your blog last night and am still enjoying the surprise. (A very pleasant one.)
    Not only from the joy you express in your memories and photos but from the memories and emotions it stirred in me of my younger days. For instance, you on your bike. That took me back fifty years to the beautiful girl who rode pillion on my motorbike. Ah! Happy days.
    Thank you for the wonderful talent you have for bringing other people happiness in such a charming way.

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    1. I was remembering those trips on the back of your bike when I was putting the post together. Do you remember going to see West Side Story at the cinema? One of my all-time favourite films and one I saw with you. I think we went to Farnham, and yet I don’t remember a cinema there so maybe it was Basingstoke or Aldershot. They were very happy days thank you for sharing some of them with me.

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  18. Wow, such beautiful pictures and memories. They brought tears to my eyes. I love the gift of Grandma's Memories. Your grandchildren will truly treasure it.

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  19. I love looking at old photographs, sometimes get goosebumps. Especially the old old ones when you don't know who everyone is but knowing they are all connected.

    Lainy http://www.alwaysreading.net

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    1. Hi Lainy, I feel just the same way about old ‘photos. I can (and do) spend hours looking at boxes and books of them at auctions. I always want to buy them and reunite them with their families but often there is just no way of knowing who they are. It’s so sad to see all those memories left forgotten in a box.

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  20. Hi Barbara, I can guess why your two grandsons decided to spend Christmas with you and Terry. Being with family is such an important thing and that sentiment runs strong like a river from your childhood to your children's and then grandchildren's. These photographs are beautiful, as are the memories. I love the pictures of your dad (he did dress so smartly), of your parents under that blue and clouded sky, and of your siblings, and of you on that step with the kitty and the crow (both surprisingly peaceful with each other's presence), and of you when you were fifteen and riding to work! And the wedding pictures were beautiful. I love, most of all, the shot of you carrying your dog on an outing with your son, Steven, and Terry.

    And yes, I imagine the jackdaw had a good time stealing from you all and thinking it had got away unnoticed!

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    1. Hello Claudine, Terry’s parents (both in their late eighties) also spent Christmas with us, meaning the boys got to spend time with their great grandparents and grandparents. It was a very special time and something we will never forget.
      I’m so pleased you enjoyed the ‘photos. It was a privilege to share them with you. Barbara xx

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    1. Thank you so much Deborah, you made my day! Barbara

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  22. Oh dear Barbara! I think each one of us could imagine what those two friends are telling each other...you decide my friend, and then LET ME KNOW! And that chunky little blue bird...he looks like he means business! He says, "SPRING, GET ON WITH IT! COME NOW!"

    Happy day dear one. Anita

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    1. Ah but Anita, I couldn't possibly say! It is a secret after all. :-)

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  23. Oh, Barbara, what a lovely memory you have put in print. I have lots of photos some of them Edwardian???? times, my Mum's great grandparents etc. I have 'the bag' of photos from my Mum's which is a knitted bag with my Dad's RAF wings sewn on the front, which all the sweethearts/wives had during the war. You must have been more prosperous than us as our photos were involving bikes and no cars in sight for a long while at least.

    I might even follow your example and scan some I haven't done, and put the actual photos in an album rather than 'the bag' for my son Nick and his wife, and their when it arrives child.

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    1. I didn’t know people kept photographs in knitted bags. Mum kept all hers in an old biscuit tin, and later in albums. Dad was never in the forces. He was a farm worker and therefore exempt under the ‘reserved occupation’ rules. He bought his first car at the end of 1952 after a small win on the football pools; he also bought a black-and-white TV, so we (and all the neighbours) could watch the Coronation. I don’t know who owned the car in the first picture, but as dad was at a wedding, I’m guessing it was used by the bride and groom.

      Maybe you could share some of your ‘photos on your blog? I for one would love to see them. Thanks for calling in, Barbara.

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  24. Hello Barbara! I enjoyed this post a lot. What a great idea that book, a good way to preserve memories and pass them on to your granddaughters. Lovely photos!!
    You made me remember that I have to classify so many family photos but never get the time.
    Besos!
    Silvina

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    1. Hello Silvina, I’m so pleased you enjoyed it. Thank you very much for taking the time to call in and leave a comment. Barbara x

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  25. Dear Barbara
    What a beautiful post...
    ~ My goodness I've looked not once but twice..Most especially trying to see the kitten and most wonderful picture of the friendly crow, you adopted!!
    A very special tribute of your memories, and i thank you for sharing...
    With hugs and kisses
    Maria x

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    1. Hello Maria, I enjoyed sharing my memories and pictures, thank you so much for taking the time to look at them. Barbara xx

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  26. Dear Friend, what a lovely post.. I am touched to see the life of almost three generations unfold in front of my eyes... Your father certainly looked terrific in that pic .. and the wedding description.. the white veil with orange blossoms and the pink and white carnation bouquet... I can only imagine..
    Then the little girl I was introduced to as you ! .. yes I could make out the crow/jackdaw and the kitten... your hair in what we call as 'fountain tail' and is currently mu daughter's fav. hair style.
    Then your wedding...you both look awesome... your Husband SO happy and you a beauty.... That pic of you on cycle, the one where your parents are under that blue clouded sky and your Mum had that fascinating bag!! the one where you are in london....so many, your grandsons.. looking so obedient and nice kids and the granddaughters..one looking bubbly the other angelic...Awesome awesome pics... Thanks for sharing... I have said so much but am having the feeling that what i intended to convey had been not said .... I am Speechless.Heartiest Thanks for sharing... And one thing your husband still laughs the same way... Stay Blessed.

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    1. Dear Kokila, thank you so much for your lovely words.
      I wish there were a colour photograph from my mum and dad's wedding. I’m sure it would be beautiful, not what we would wear today maybe, but beautiful none the less. As for the bag, I think it must have been the height of fashion at the time. I’ve never heard the description ‘fountain tail’ before, but I like it!
      Please feel free to say as much or as little as you like on my blog, your comments are always very welcome. Love Barbara xx

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    2. The pleasure is all mine..... this post is like I am reading form the pages of Readers' Digest ....

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  27. Your memory book is wonderful. Thanks for sharing!

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  28. So happy to see this. What inspiration! I have gathered photos- but annotating them and sharing them still hasn't happened.
    I really love the photo of you with the kitten and the bird. What an affinity you have with animals!

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    1. I wasn’t sure about it at first, but once I got started it was fun. Putting your photos together is a good start, maybe just do a little annotating when you have the time, you will probably be surprised by how much you enjoy it.
      I was surrounded by animals as a child, and have always felt happy in their company. I’m not so keen on creepy crawlies mind you!

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I really appreciate your comment. Thank you!
Barbara xx

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