Welcome to my blog, where I take pleasure in words and pictures, be they my own or those of others. I'm a creative individual, and the crafty side I explore on my 'other blog', Picking Up The Threads, which I hope you'll visit too. I'm sure you understand that I have sole copyright of my original work and any of my contributions, so please ask if you want to use them. A polite request is rarely refused. So, as they used to say on the BBC's 'Listen With Mother' radio programme, many years ago: "Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin."

Friday, 11 December 2015

Christmas With Gill

Three years ago today we heard that my lovely sister-in-law, Gill, had died the day before. We were preparing for my Dad’s funeral the next day so it was a doubly dreadful time. However, since 2012, we have remembered both Gill and Dad only for the many happy times we shared, the great love and affection they both showed, the creative gifts they were blessed with and their sense of fun.

I admired Gill for her abilities as an artist and craftswoman; she could turn her hand to anything, from painting, drawing, needlework, dry-stone-walling to creating a stone-wheel herb garden from scratch. I wrote about that in Garden of Remembrance.

The first picture is of Gill, with her her great friend Sue. I can’t be sure, as I wasn’t there, but I wouldn’t mind betting that the cake is one of Gill’s creations. I first spent time with Gill and her daughters back in 1974; I was just her little brother’s girlfriend then, but she made sure I was welcomed as part of the family.

This picture is from that Christmas and shows Gill in her Happi Coat, dressing-gown, which I remember hanging on the back of the bathroom door at the family home. Once again, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was one of Gill’s creations. It’s a patchwork of curtain fabric remnants. Maria von Trapp would have been proud of her.

Each year of our married life, we tried to spend some time with Gill and her family over the Christmas period. Sometimes, my parents would be there too, or Gill’s daughters and granddaughters. I have very happy memories of visiting her in the 1990s, when Gill would devise a Treasure Hunt around the cottage and gardens where she and her husband lived. You can tell she was a crossword expert by the cryptic nature of the clues - and she got them to rhyme as well!

One year, when her elder daughter was living in Australia, we all got together and made a video for her.  I still have a grainy copy, and I love it because we all said a piece to camera and my Dad spoke in one of his funny voices; a rare piece of footage indeed.

We all associate snowmen with Christmas, and not just on Christmas Cards. This picture shows both that creative talent and the sense of fun that Gill brought to the job of snowman building; who else would fashion the Three Bears instead of just a plain old snowman?

Below are two examples of Gill’s wonderful treasure hunt questions, and look at that lovely writing too.



Chocolate cake after the Treasure Hunt 1993

During the latter years of Gill’s life we spent all our Christmasses here in Lanzarote and when Gill’s Parkinson’s finally became too much, she preferred to be a little quieter. After her second husband died she moved to a care home which catered for her needs. Gill was very content there and the Christmas before she died she was even enjoying making Mince Pies. Sadly the dementia which accompanied the Parkinson’s robbed her of much of that creative ability and the tremor meant she was no longer able to write with a clear hand, but knowing Gill, she would have put her own litte creative stamp on those pies. 

We miss her very much but we prefer to remember her as the funny, clever and creative woman she was, and to recall all those times we were lucky enough to spend 'Christmas with Gill’.

Christmas 2001

For more memories and old photos, visit this week's Sepia Saturday.


  1. I would have enjoyed going on those treasure hunts. That is right up my alley. Now I'm missing Gill too.

  2. A nice tribute to her, and what a memorable person she sounds.

  3. Sharing favorite people is a hallmark of the Sepian global family. Thanks for letting us meet a good friend.

  4. You have written such a beautiful, moving tribute to Gill. I can see how she will remain in your memory as a vibrant sister in law and friend.

  5. A lovely tribute. I like cryptics but think I need the answers to those very clever clues!

  6. That's a sad ending to an interesting life. I am really impressed by the treasure hunt clues.

  7. I feel like I know Gill as well. I love her treasure hunt tradition.

  8. A wonderful tribute to a special member of your family written in such a loving way. Your mention of the video the family made to send to the daughter in Australia reminded me of the tape recordings I made during two Christmases while we were sitting around the Christmas tree opening presents. All our voices were recorded including my grandmother's and my father's - both gone from us, now, for several years. But what a joy to still be able to hear their voices on those recordings. :)

  9. She certainly left behind a lot of joy so that has to make the memories of her death a bit easier to bear.