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, 19 December 2014

A Christmas Mystery

I could post a whole gallery of pictures from Christmas meals over the years. It’s one of the occasions when families and friends gather together around the table and somebody has the camera! However, I’m going to choose just one Christmas Eve in 1963 as my offering for Sepia Saturday over the Christmas and New Year.

This is my Dad in festive mood and looking fetching in his party hat and facial add-ons. The calendar behind his right shoulder is the clue as to the exact date and proves that the 35mm slide was scanned the right way round. This is towards the end of the meal as it’s coffee and dessert time. Dad still smoked in those days and I just hope that the ash didn’t end up in that sherry trifle! I think the ‘disguise’ was probably his little table gift. This was the house of my parents’ friends to which we were often invited on Christmas Eve. Judging by the napkins which have not been unfurled, somebody people didn’t make it on time. I know this because ‘that person with the camera’ took a picture of the splendidly set out table before we all descended upon it.

There were eleven places laid (I don’t think Mr Snowman was a guest, although it looks that way). I see we had melon ‘boats’ for starters, and the first pictures shows that we had trifle and fruit salad for dessert, but I have no memory of what came in between. It was probably a cold meat salad of some sort. I was trying to work out what was in the bottle with the quaint wooden bottle-stopper and why it was already opened before the guests were seated. If it contained wine I don’t think it would satisfy ten adults, but I came to the conclusion that it was probably sherry.

The guests have now been ushered into the dining room and ‘that person with the camera’  has instructed us all to wear our party hats  and raise our glasses, except I can’t as I am a minor so mine is empty. Yes, that’s me bottom right aged eleven and feeling very grown-up with the sherry-quaffers no doubt. I’m sure some orange squash would have been handed to me afterwards. There’s Dad again, standing behind our host and winking at the camera. The lady with the fluffy white collar is our hostess and My Mum is seated on her left. The young man between me and Mum is a family friend. The mystery of at least one of the unused napkins is now solved as I am wearing my party-pinny instead! But who is wielding the camera? Judging by the first photograph, Dad would have resumed his place next to the lady in pink. Ten of us are present at the beginning of the meal, there is an unassigned napkin in the foreground, next to me and even more mysterious three unused by the time we reached the coffee course.

No more pictures at the table and after the meal we’ve moved to what our hostess called ‘the lounge’. Two more guest have joined us, and we are now wearing a new set of headgear. These hats are more substantial than the first set and appear to fashioned from gift wrap. I wonder if it was a party game, if so it appears that I won first prize; no not the dog, he was mine already. It looks like an Easter Egg but I think it was a similar confection brought out at Christmas. The latecomers seem relaxed and this time it was probably the host pointing the camera whilst the hostess washed up and cleared the kitchen (that’s the way it was in those days). So now we have accounted for eleven people, but we haven’t solved the mystery of the phantom photographer - or have we?

No wonder he looks so pleased with himself! We will never know the answer as sadly, only four of us are left and two are elderly. I prefer to remember the happy times we had more than half a century ago. Walking the short distance back to our own house, the pavements were always glistening with frost in the streetlights. As soon as we got home we would rush to get ready for bed, as the house was unheated, and snuggle down with our (new-fangled) electric blankets to wait for Christmas Morning.

Join other Sepians sometime between now and 4th January, to see who gathered round their Christmas Tables. Merry Christmas and a Very Happy New Year to you all.


  1. You all seem to be enjoying yourselves except the lady in the blue dress. I think I need a party pinny, but probably a full one!

  2. Such a happy post. I love the photo of your dad with his facial add-ons! My dad often used a piece of celery to create a similar look!
    That snowman was an excellent photographer, lucky he was there to record the day.
    Merry Christmas and a Sepia Saturday spectacular New Year! Barbara
    PS the lady in the blue dress does look a little glum.

  3. I vote the guests were drinking sherry - those glasses were the right size. Apparently sherry was the popular drink of the day; my parents always had sherry in the house as well as glasses that look like the ones in the photo. As for those gift wrap hats, oh my! It does appear to have been a game since everyone's hat is different. The poor lady in blue must have given up - no wonder she looks sad. The guy in the vest made himself the pope. I bet he was a character! Merry Christmas, Marilyn!

  4. You and your Mum look very much alike in the picture where you are seated at the table. Your dog looks adorable--he must have been very well-behaved to be allowed at a party..

  5. Utterly wonderful, Nell. You've made me remember details of the period, I'd forgotten. We had the same tree lights, sherry glasses, my grandparents even had the same enclosed fire! Happy days!

  6. Lovely Christmas mrmories, even if a few of the details have been forgotten over time.

  7. What fun! Merry Christmas to you and yours from hot and steamy Australia!

  8. What a great thing to do with leftover wrapping paper! Good times, good times!

  9. What a fun post. The hostess looks quite calm but I bet she was frantically busy all day!

  10. What a happy family! Everybody joining in doing silly things just for the fun of it. How lucky you all are to have or have had each other.

  11. A wonderful set of happy photos for this year's holiday theme. I hope your Christmas this week is just as merry!

  12. Such wonderful and memorable shots. The fact that you have moments you remember when looking at them makes them priceless. A fun group for sure.

    Have a wonderful holiday!

  13. Looked like a fun gathering.
    Those hats done with wrapping paper are fierce!!
    Love them.
    Happy new year!!

  14. Happy 2015! May the Canarian sun warm your hearts for many more years!


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