Thursday, 17 October 2019

Protect And Preserve Family Treasures

I have so many items that have been given to me over the years from members of my family. Each one has a little story attached often that only I know or have been told. So many items we have found since my Mum died that she had carefully kept. Many we know just why she kept them or my Dad knows, but others we look at and wonder why our Mum, who was so tidy and organised carefully kept it. She may have told me years ago, but was I listening, obviously not?
  One item Mum gave me, that I know the history of, has been in our garden shed for probably twenty years. Years ago when I was very small we had my Grandmas's copper kettle on display in out living room .Shining and bright Mum would tell us it was the kettle they used all her young life on the range where she lived. After church on a Sunday my Grandma would invite everyone in the bus queue in for a cup of tea to wait for the bus. The gleaming kettle would be boiling on the range whilst everyone sat and chatted about their village life. When my Mum and Dad married and copper kettles on ranges were no longer needed my Grandma gave it to my Mum and it was polished and admired for years with plants and dried flowers in. During this time the lid was lost but it still had pride of place.
  Over the years copper kettles went out of fashion and it was put away in their shed. Twenty years later my Mum gave it to me as I had such fond memories of it as a child. I tried to clean it but it was so tarnished and dented I gave up and it was put away in our shed. These last few years have changed my views of possessions so much. I have realised the only ones that matter are the treasured ones. I rescued it from the shed determined to clean it up.


  I thought it had really gone beyond the point of no return but bought some "Brass and Copper Bath" from Amazon. I followed the instructions and had to use all four sachets as I measured out so much water in an empty plastic storage box to cover it. 


When I took the kettle out it certainly didn't look as gleaming as the illustration on the box but it was much cleaner. I wiped it clean and then used Brasso. I have only cleaned it once and although it still has a long way to go I am very pleased with how it has started. I will keep cleaning it every few weeks until it improves more. Sadly the dents are all too obvious still but I shall put a trailing plant in it to cover the worst, 


  Maybe one day the fact I have recorded the memories of this kettle here will mean that this old dented kettle will be special to another member of the family. 

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Routine, Routine, Routine

I feel as though in the last week I have been running non stop. I have been running up the hill to the nearby station every day and running down the hill to home at the end of each day. I have been at the mercy of signal failures, faulty trains and even suicides. The week has been stressful and worrying but one of the hardest things has been the lack of routine, I love my routines. Routines come and go, and I adapt quite quickly to new ones but I like to have one. Scarlett has been coming to our house on a Monday for nearly two years. Sometimes she comes on other days but always on a Monday. We have our little routine and we have such fun. This week as I was going to the hospital Scarlett didn't come and my whole week has been thrown into confusion. I know I will be muddled about what day it is all week until she comes again.
  We are conditioned into routines from an early age. Double Maths and double French on a Tuesday morning. I remember that awful year at school when I dreaded Tuesday mornings but can still remember the weight that was taken off me when the lunchtime bell rang. It took me a long time to forget that low feeling on a Tuesday when I opened my eyes.
  There was another day of the week at school though I remember the routine just as clearly but for completely different reasons. I know exactly what I would have been doing on Thursday mornings. Reading a Jackie magazine. I loved Jackie as did all my friends. Thursdays were eagerly awaited and I remember our Biology lesson, which was first period on Thursday, was always ignored while we sat on the back science lab bench reading every word of it. We poured over every problem in the Cathy and Claire page, answered all the questions in the quizzes about such important matters as "Am I the right girl for him?" and memorised every beauty tip. I still quote hair care advice I read at the time to this day. Even the boys in the class joined in and we would read out their horoscopes whilst they listened seriously. It's no surprise to say I failed my Biology 'O' Level miserably.


   We loved the photo love stories and the latest news on pops stars such as David Cassidy and Donny Osmond. In an age of no internet or social networking I think it made young girls feel connected and not so alone. I know I look back with very fond memories of my experience with the magazine. It's just a shame about the Biology 'O' Level!
    I'm hoping I may get back into a bit of my routine now. Today, hopefully, I will be at home all day to catch up. A bit of work, answer my emails, the usual bits of housework and then a job or two I have been thinking about doing for a while. Home routines can be very reassuring when you have had a lot of upheaval and I am looking forward to it despite the fact it's raining again.
   I hope you have a lovely day what ever you are doing. xx

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Happy Birthday 50p!

  Good news yesterday my Dad was discharged from hospital with some back up at home. He's not very happy to have outsiders coming in telling him what to do but is happy to be home with Millie who I swear was smiling when we left in the evening.
  Yesterday was also the 50th anniversary of the 50p coin. A very interesting young man with an enormous amount of knowledge of coins was talking on BBC Breakfast all about them. I found it fascinating as I had always loved collecting different coins. I have carefully hung onto this 50p from when we joined the European Union in 1973 and now find out there were nearly 90 million minted and are worthless. All these Beatrix Potter and Paddington Bear 50ps I'm hanging onto are probably a waste of time as they have had millions produced. The only one he said was worth looking out for was the 250th Anniversary of Kew Gardens which only has 210,000 produced and is now worth £70 to £80. I had one of these in my collection but it has disappeared.I probably bought a loaf of bread with it on a day I was short. I found him so interesting I was thinking about 50ps all day!


  Although I was excited when these new coins came were introduced in 1969, I quickly realised how much I missed the old 10 shilling notes. I would often get one in cards from my Grandad who lived in Liverpool. Birthdays and Christmas a lovely crisp 10 shilling note would fall out of my card and he would send one in a little letter when we went on holiday for spending money. I felt so rich with one in my purse, 50p coins just didn't feel the same. My Mum must have had the same feelings for them as we found these in her dressing table drawer.


 Our eldest son came round yesterday evening and we talked about his new flat which he should be moving in to in about four weeks. It is the bottom floor of a three storey Victorian terrace he bought back in May but it was a complete wreck that had been empty for over twenty years. Trees had grown right through the walls in the kitchen extension and it smelt as if every local cat had moved in! Totally unfazed he has worked and planned with a builder since then and it is completely unrecognisable to the flat we visited back in May. He  has only let us see photos of the progress and now we are getting close to the big reveal. I can't wait. 
  Slightly better day today weather wise I hope. I'm off to deal with physio appointments, tablet changes and stocking up my Dad's fridge. I hope everyone has a great day. xx

Monday, 14 October 2019

Life As A Student Nurse In The 1970s

It was another busy day yesterday. Dashing around all morning to get everything done, over to feed Millie straight after an early lunch and then on to the hospital. My Dad was still in quite good spirits but is starting to worry he won't be going home any time soon. We tried to reassure him it will probably be Tuesday but he is not convinced. There was no opportunity to ask anyone or just to talk to a member of staff even today as for some reason, and we found this when my Mum was a patient too, hospitals are like the Marie Celeste at weekends, everybody disappears and you are just walking around empty corridors with no staff.
  It was all so different back in the 1970s when I was a student nurse. The hospital I worked in always seemed busy and full of life. It was packed with us student nurses and not a hospital administrator or any office staff in sight. We all lived in the nurses home at the side of the hospital which had five floors. We shared bathrooms and toilets and there was one kitchen and one laundry room on each floor. I loved my little room, it overlooked the park and was lovely and quiet. I had posters of Snoopy, Clint Eastwood and Freddie Mercury all over the walls which I had bought at the local Woolworths. My Mum had bought me a wonderful retro bedcover and matching curtains and I thought it looked so modern. I never bothered cooking really as we had a big canteen that always had music playing and a choice of really cheap meals. The best part for us was the enormous sitting room. It stretched right down the entire side of the ground floor and had French doors all down the side to the garden and swimming pool at the side. The noise at break times in the sitting room would be deafening with everyone laughing and joking and the air would be thick with cigarette smoke but that didn't seem to matter in those days. I can see us still all perched on the sides of each others chairs just laughing. Once a month there would be a big disco put on by the hospital for us we could invite guests and a DJ played all the hits from the time until the early hours. I can't hear those old 1970s songs without being transported back to that room.
  At Christmas the doctors took over the Out Patients department and put on a Christmas Revue which it seemed like, the entire hospital attended. There would be songs, in jokes and the House Officers made digs about senior doctors they didn't like. They got away with murder for a day and everyone would be laughing about for weeks. We all supported each other and no matter how busy or stressful a day was it would end in laughter. Sometimes I think a lot of the problems now with stress among the staff in the NHS is not because the work is that much worse but the support network has gone. The fun and laughter seems to have definitely gone. There was never a time when my old hospital felt as lifeless as this weekend visiting my Dad.
  My big regret is that I have no photos of all the rooms which have given me such happy memories. We just didn't take photos like that in those days. In a pile of discarded photos I bought recently for my lovely collection of old photos I found these ones inside The Nelson Hospital in Wimbledon in the 1970s and they really did transport me back to those happy days of life as a student nurse.





  It's a dreadful morning here, pouring and dark and looking at the weather forecast not much let up during the day. I hope everyone has a good day and the weather were you are is a bit better than here. xx

Sunday, 13 October 2019

Not The Best Of Days

Yesterday was not the best of days. My Dad's hospital appointment dragged on and the doctors decided to admit him while waiting for tests on Monday. He was in good spirits but unhappy at being in hospital. We are hoping after Monday he will be home again.
 My sister and I went to his house to feed Millie who was sitting on the stairs looking accusingly at us, as if the whole problem was our fault. She was totally unappreciative that we had left my Dad waiting in casualty, driven through heavy traffic in the pouring rain struggled around Pets At Home to find her favourite Felix in gravy pouches and Go Cat for in between meals. We drove back to the hospital to reassure my Dad, who by now had been transferred to a ward, that she had eaten and was fine and that yes that we had left the heating on for her in the morning and evening and the hall light on for her overnight so she could see were she was going!


  I have decided it is hardly any wonder she misses him. As we all do.

Saturday, 12 October 2019

A Mystery To Solve

I have been sorting through a number of old pictures to mend and either use or sell. I often buy old framed or unframed paintings or prints when I am out bargain hunting and I have decided enough is enough I must work my way through large box fulls I have in boxes in the loft. The first one I got out was a print of a young 1920s woman which I love and as it simply needed taking apart cleaning and re doing all the masking tape it was quite easy to repapir. It is called "Reverie" or Daydreaming and this is definitely one to put up on our wall. I love it.


  The second was a watercolour of a cottage and river I bought it a while ago for £2 at out local charity saleroom. I had noticed that just visiblle above the mount was the top of a signature and had meant to investigate so I cut the old tape of the back to take the picture out. Inside the back of the frame were four pages from an old newspaper called Reynolds News dated 1948. When I removed the newspaper on the back of the painting were a few sketches of buildings and the title "A Corner Of The Upper Thames In Picturesque Buckinghamshire KMB 1916" Well there was one question answered I knew where the painting was of. I moved the painting up in the mount and now the signature could be clearly seen Kathleen M Blake 1916. 




 What of the newspaper I wonder, an article in it may have a connection with the artist or place in the painting, it may have been put in when being framed just for interest to someone all these years later who discovered it or it may just have been put there to fill a gap in between the frame and the painting. I can't see any obvious connection reading through it although it is very interesting, who would have thought probelms with a nudist colony next to a school in those days!


I have searched on Ancestry.co.uk and found a 1911 census record for a Kathleen Muriel Blake born in 1890 and living in 7 South Place, Mill Lane, Marlow, Buckinghamshire. The occupation given on the census is artist. I think this is probably the Kathleen who painted my picture. I'm certainly going to have a try to find out something about the her and this one is definitely being put up on our wall to keep. A little bit of mystery makes it all the more interesting to us.
  It's a wet miserable day here this morning. I wish I could stay in and investigate more but my Dad has a hospital appointment this morning so I have to brave the elements and meet my sister to take him there. Have a great day everyone what ever you are doing. xx

Thursday, 10 October 2019

Our Vintage 1970s Caravan

  What a lovely bright day it was for the most part yesterday. It was wonderful sunny but windy drying weather and I have been sorting through items to wash and dry for our vintage caravan. Last year we had a lovely little 2 berth 1970s caravan but it was tiny and we quickly realised this year that with four dogs it was too much of a squash so we sold it and bought a much bigger caravan, a Royale Touranger made in 1974. We bought it on facebook from an old couple who seemed so nice but we quickly found out that they had strategically placed items to hide patches of damp and then reassured us there was no damp. We should have checked more carefully but never mind it hasn't been the end of the world. My Dad has worked hard on it during the summer, which he has really enjoyed, and now the damp is all fixed. Sadly it meant we couldn't get away in her but now the major problems are sorted out we can spend the winter fixing the smaller ones and just before the spring we intend to have it resprayed.


   We have called her Suzi and I am always on the look out for 1970s items for her, it is such fun. As she is so much bigger than our last caravan there is so much more space to put things. I am always finding bits at jumble sales and car boot sales. I am quite mean with what I am prepared to pay so don't buy much on ebay. It's all the more fun when you find something really cheaply so I don't mind waiting.


   I am on the look out for some nice retro material to make new curtains with and I want a bright 70s looking shower curtain to make the little shower room nice and bright. It is going to be my ongoing project all winter and I am really excited to do it all. It has a proper little kitchen area with an oven and grill so we will be able to cook more as we only had a two ring hob in our other caravan. All in 1970s pans of course! This is one of my favourite recent finds at our local charity saleroom.


    Today I got out to wash this lovely crocheted blanket I bought at a jumble sale a while ago. It needed a bit of a repair some of the squares were coming unsewn from the next one but other than that it was perfect and only £2.


  I am going to take lots of photos of the progress over the winter and will be recording them all in this blog. It will be nice by the spring to hopefully look back and see all that we have achieved. I love a winter project to work on as it always makes the cold days when it's not much fun being out and about more enjoyable.
  It's another bright start to the day today which is World Mental Health Day. I hope everyone has a brilliant day today and finds time to spend some of it doing something they enjoy, but sending special thoughts to anyone reading this who is going through difficult times I really hope things improve for you soon. xx