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."

Saturday, 21 December 2013

A Fairy Mary Christmas Everyone

This is my Mum, Mary, in about 1925, dressed in a fairy outfit made by my grandma out of crepe paper. Mum has just celebrated her 93rd birthday and is well-known to long-standing followers of this blog as she is the star of so many posts, often accompanied by my Dad.

She joins me in wishing a Happy Christmas to everyone who has supported Hanging on My Word by visiting and leaving such lovely comments this year. She gets to read them all and has three of my ‘Sepia Stories’ books which she enjoys re-reading.  Here she is with the latest issue on her birthday last month. Number four will be in her Christmas stocking. She also has ‘The Best of Sepia Saturday’ which she says is a really good read.

You can find out more about this fairy and my mother-in-law, also called Mary, and how they came to be dressed up as fairies in Mary the Fairy. In the meantime, we are taking a break over the Christmas holiday period and we will be back with more sepia stories in 2014.

There are more stars over at Sepia Saturday. Go and see what Christmas cards other contributors have posted. You’ll to find some shining examples to see you through the winter nights.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

In Loving Memory

The sweet-faced little artist in the picture above is my late Sister-in law Gillian, in about 1942. She actually developed into a very talented artist and teacher as an adult. This post is in loving memory as  a year ago we received the news of Gill’s sudden death at the age of 73. It was the day before my Dad’s funeral, and we were back in England with my own family, when John was told by his brother that Gill had died the day before. She had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease in her later years and slowly the accompanying dementia was robbing us of this lovely, vivacious, witty and warm-hearted woman. The news was a terrible shock and made us very sad, but we all were relieved in a way that she had gone so quickly and painlessly.

My memories of Gill (or Jilly) are all happy ones, but of course I can only speak for myself.  I knew her for the last forty years or so, and didn’t witness the many facets of the personality she shared with her family and friends. We only saw the picture above for the first time this week as her daughters have ensured that all her albums have been scanned and made available to us. She will of course feature in future posts but I’m linking this one with Sepia Saturday, which is all about old pictures and memories.

She was John’s big sister, older than him by ten years; protective and caring. We still have a birthday card in which she had written that she loved him very much, and he for his part, told me when we first met that he ‘adored’ her.

The care and love Gill is showing young John in this picture, was mirrored in many family snapshots of her with children over the years.

Gill was expert at throwing babies into the air and making them laugh with delight. Both these sets of photos are some thirty-five years apart, showing her first with a daughter, and then a granddaughter.

She was a kind and affectionate aunty to my own two children, and there are many happy memories of Christmases past, when she ensured that there would be little treats and surprises, and not forgetting her famous treasure-hunts. Here’s Gill (above left), with her own daughters, and my two offspring in 1979, and in the second picture, taken in 2000, she is in her element with her three granddaughters.

Gill had two lovely husbands, both of whom pre-deceased her, but of whose extended families she was very much a part. I took this picture of her and her second husband in 2000, when she was still very active. She was a very creative lady and she filled her house with beautiful tapestries, pictures and quilts of her own making.  On a chair in this house she had dolls she had made and cleverly embroidered features and added clothes so that they resembled her girls.

There is so much more to tell about Gillian, but some of the stories need to be added to by others and this is just one small chapter; an abridged version. Here she is one of my favourite pictures of her with John, taken about twenty-five years ago. It’s how I always think of her and how I best like to remember her.

Sepians will be pleased to know that Gill was a lover of old photos too.

I started this post of young Gillian being creative and that’s how I’m going to end it. Here she is sorting old sepia and black and white photos into her albums. Sadly Gill was not into computers or I’m sure she would have been a regular visitor to Sepia Saturday.  

Join us there this week to see what other contributors have come up with as they surface from delving into their own albums and shoeboxes of old photos

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Ready- Aye Ready

Christmas 1975, and here’s my husband in his New Year’s Eve outfit. The theme of the party was rôle reversal, and we were asked to dress in the style of an occupation normally undertaken by the opposite sex. My husband is demonstrating the ‘domestic drudge’ look, hence his down-in-the-mouth look. I’ve no idea what the rosette he is sporting has written on it, some witty comment designed to draw snorts of laughter from his brother officers no doubt. Yes, this was an RAF Mess party at Waddington, Lincolnshire, where we were stationed. This would have been deemed amusing nearly forty years ago when women’s lib was just taking off and the PC brigade didn’t have much of a voice.

The very useful pinny has a design which was later to come under fire from the latter. It depicts a label for “Camp” Coffee a very well-known store-cupboard standby and something of an advertising icon.  When we were children, our mothers used it  whenever a recipe called for ‘coffee essence’, and we followed suit when we had homes of our own. Without it coffee cake, coffee icing, coffee kisses etc. would have been much duller, and what would we have used as ‘coffee sauce’ on our ice cream?

Camp is apparently still available, but back in 2006 the label was changed after pressure was put on the company, citing racism. The new label has the Sikh soldier seated next to the Highlander as an equal, enjoying a nice cup of coffee. Not historically accurate of course, but more palatable to the modern consumer. The slogan on the label was ‘Ready- aye ready’ with the aye being used in the sense of ‘always’, confirming the instant nature of the brew.

The pinny (or apron) was used by me whenever a job called for protection from mess. Here’s me wearing it as I slap on the wallpaper paste and to keep myself out of a potentially sticky situation. I’m newly returned from honeymoon - hence the slight tan- and was probably acting as paperhanger’s assistant. We would have had an assembly line going, with me sloshing on the paste and my husband manoeuvring the wallpaper into position. Being the seventies it was very likely wood chip wallpaper. This was our first home and we wanted only the best!

I expect you’d like to see my outfit for New Year 1975 too. Well by good fortune I also wore a pinny. Here I am dressed as a Lady Butcher, meat cleaver (cleverly fashioned from hardboard) in hand. Striped apron and lightweight plastic boater. I’ve no idea why I chose this rôle and it’s quite possible that I offended the vegetarian guests, but it was probably based on the availability of costumes. The striped pinny was to hand and obviously suggested itself as a butcher’s apron. The less time we had to spend sorting out our costume, the more time to enjoy ourselves.

I don’t look too happy either. Let’s hope we both cheered up when we got to the party and had a few glasses of bubbly.

For more cheerful pinny-wearers, visit this week’s Sepia Saturday, where this was the theme suggested by the image below. Ready? - Aye Ready!