Tuesday, 30 July 2013

My Poem (aged 8 1/2)

At the weekend I was in the mood to sort through some of my mother's papers. She must have liked this poem that I wrote when I was at primary school as she kept it all these years.

I find it rather disturbing! (I'm only guessing about my age)

By The Sea

I was walking along the shore
It was really rather a bore
The I came across a cave
Marked on the walls was the devil's grave

I went in and saw
Mermaids dancing in fours
Then there was a big loud roar
And the mermaids fled from the shore


I ran and I ran
And behind me the devil sang
If I catch you alive
You'll die in a hive

Then up I awoke
And thought it a joke
And now I'm no more
On the sea shore

Friday, 26 July 2013

Sepia Saturday 187: The family bible

This is a photograph of some members of my grandmother's family. At first I thought I didn't know who they were and then I found this handwritten note from my mother in the photograph album.
(It's a small picture and not in good condition, so you can only really make out the shapes of the people)

"from left to right:
Nan Welch's mother Charlotte Turner, nee Sayer
Nan Welch's mother's sister Gertie
Nan Welch's mother's mother, Helen Thackery (maiden name)
Nan Welch's mother's father, Luke Sayers , compositor"

'Nan Welch' was what we always called my mother's mother, Dorothy Welch, nee Turner. Interestingly those were my mother's exact words in the description, so she must have been writing this down for us, as she would have referred to her as 'mum'.

I'm veering from the point of this post now, which is about the family bible, but that is because I have just read something on the back of this slip of paper that just has to be included here!

"Sister Gertie 'got into trouble' with a Canadian in the First World War who 'passed on something to her". She was taken in by my mother's mother until treated and cured in spite of scandal and opposition from my mother's father!" (I would guess these to be the words of my grandmother.)

Anyway, a fascinating if rather sad insight into the times. Syphilis, which I would guess this was, was rife amongst the soldiers returning from the front and as this was in days before the invention of penicillin I would imagine treatment was as unpleasant as the disease.

Now to the bible. None of my family have ever been particularly religious. That's not to say they were atheists, but they were not regular church goers. We had a bible when we were at school but it was not a regular feature of our lives. My mother grew up with her parents in a house in the suburbs of London. My grandparents bought it when it was first built. When my parents got married they bought the house from my grandparents and I grew up there as well.  Families stayed put in those times and so my mother knew the parents of my friends and some of their parents as well.

I can't remember the exact details as to how this came about, but my mother met the family of someone who lived round the corner from us. They were moving house that week. Somehow the conversation turned to families and names and addresses, and the woman my mother was talking to stopped dead in her tracks and said "We have your family bible". One of my grandmother's relatives had lived round the corner for many years. (I can't remember what one, maybe her mother?). When she died the house was sold  to this family and somehow the bible got left in it.  By the time the new owners moved in and found it they had no contact details for the seller. As it was a bible, no one wanted to throw it out, so the family held on to it for about 50 years, never knowing who the bible now belonged to or anything about the names of all the people in it. Had she not met my mother that week the bible would have probably been lost to the family forever.

My mother held onto the bible until she died last year. I couldn't bring it on the plane with me as it is enormous and so my brother has it at his house.  Writing this has made me think that I should do some investigating into the surviving relatives of other branches of my grandmother's family, as we have no children on our side to pass on the family bible. It was obviously meant to stay in the family.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Where have I been?

I've been away too long! Summer seems to have taken over and I haven't got round to posting recently. I have in fact just got back from a lovely few days visiting with a friend in Holland. She does not live there, but her family originate from those parts, and so it seemed a good place to catch up with her.

I took a short flight from the local airport to Rotterdam-The Hague. It took less time than it does to go to Bordeaux on the train. We met in a really nice hotel and in the evening walked a few hundred metres to a restaurant, where we had exactly what we had hoped for: a lovely meal of the sort that we could never cook for ourselves, with wonderful wine and good service. All this was because we hadn't seen each other for seven years and we had both lost our mothers in the last year, and so wanted to do something special.

How lovely it is to spend time with those friends that you don't get to see nearly often enough, but yet when you meet them again it is just as if you just left them. The truth is that with the great distance that separates us, who knows when we get to meet again and where that will be. Even with the best intentions, we are only likely to meet a few times more in our lifetimes, so we decided to enjoy it!

We spent a day exploring Rotterdam. The architecture was quite interesting; modern but in a way that seemed to blend in with the style of the port. We walked around the buildings, just looking. This is a picture of the 'red apple' building, or rather the reflection it made in the waters of the canal.

In the afternoon we took a boat trip to kinderdijk, to see some of the famous windmills. It was hot by then and so we were grateful of the chance to sit in the shade for the hour it took each way, even though the trip along the river wasn't very interesting!

We managed to get a quick look at the windmills along with all the other tourists and day trippers, before heading back to Rotterdam and on to Utrecht for the next couple of days. Utrecht was a complete contrast to Rotterdam; old buildings, lots of people, noise, shops and restaurants. We did some shopping, looked at the people, drank coffee, and generally caught up on seven years worth of talking! In the evening we hired a canal bike and explored the waterways that run through Utrecht. It was a warm evening and so the edges of the canal were packed with people eating and drinking and talking.