We had our carpets re-laid this week, so to take advantage of taking everything out of the bedrooms and putting everything back in again, I’m sorting out my paperwork.

I found a notebook full of scribbles, stories and writing exercises. Some are pretty good, some awful. Here are some memories of my Mum’s Mum. My Nanny.

Full of laughter, calling out ‘Yoo-hoo!’ as she walked through the front door. She always wore jewellery even if only plastic beads and clip on earrings, but always colour co-ordinated with her outfit. When I was tiny, her hair was an ever-changing array of colours, she had gone grey at 15, over the years, she’d probably used enough dye to sink a battleship. To mix metaphors, when I see her in my mind’s eye, I smell her first. Her face powder, imperial leather soap, then feel her soft skin and see her warm smile.

She wasn’t the youngest or the oldest of her siblings, but she was the most popular. She had a wicked sense of the ridiculous, was always ready to help and gathered people around her with her sweet nature. During the Second World War, she drove lorries, and although she didn’t drive very often when we were small children, when she did, their little car was manhandled around corners in the same way, my brother and I giggling with laughter as we careered into each other on the back seat.

Shy around, nervous and scared of her pig of her husband, nevertheless, she made the best of what she had. Keeping the house clean, tending the garden and cooking, with somewhat terrible results at times. I have always loved colouring in, and would use to colour in doilies that she would then lay out for high-tea, her cucumber sandwiches and cakes were lovely, but burnt toast would often be served at breakfast. Inedible, unidentifiable charred bits of meat on our plates, or ‘quiche lorraine’ with everything other than the traditional ingredients in it, meal times could be perilous.

Nanny would draw and paint birthday cards, lick paper chains with us at Christmas until our tongues dried out, let us stir the fruit into her cakes, laugh at us as we tried to turn cartwheels on the lawn. She made me sandwiches without butter when my stomach rebelled against eating it, and after having banana custard pudding to the point I still now can’t eat the two things in the same mouthful, would ladle me a bowl of custard and hand me a banana to eat separately.

I remember standing in their spare room rubbing Nivea into my chapped face one bitterly cold winter when I was staying with them for the weekend. I remember her rubbing sun lotion into my skin on the beach, her paddling in the sea, her dress tucked into her knickers. Sneaking out of bed to watch Geoff Hamilton on Gardner’s World, I still love garden programmes and centres, (even though I have got a totally brown thumb).

I miss the warm hugs and unconditional love she gave my brother and I. I miss her giggle, her guffaw and her chuckles. I miss her winks over the teapot and the high-teas on weekend afternoons. I sit on the train writing this trying not to cry and failing. I miss her so much and would love to see her again. She passed away when I was 14 years old. I’ve lived longer without her in my life now as I am 33, than she was physically here, but the mark on my heart she left is indelible.

Waiting for a phone call

I love this picture for several reasons. It shows a great example of a mother and daughter relationship for one; for another, while it was taken after Kim’s diagnosis of a GBM tumour, she looks like Kim, not as she does now.

I’m writing this in bed worrying about her and her family, as she has been taken back to hospital tonight, after being told earlier this week that the tumour has spread. Kim stoically refused further treatment, has told her children that she loves them and is at peace with the world.

As she prepares for her final journey, I hope that when my time comes I can show the same quiet courage, strength, humour, and above all, dignity as she has.

People in various houses are going to spend the next few sleepless nights thinking of Kim and also when the time comes, holding her hands and gently rowing her out. Letting anyone slip away peacefully is the best we can do. Death is not the opposite of life, it is the opposite of birth.

Life should be lived, to the full, while you’re here to enjoy it. Archie and I saw Kimmy last week with Renee and other relatives, she had a cuddle with him; we all had a laugh and a joke during a happy hour together. She had just finished directing how she wanted her Christmas tree decorated, with her cup of tea she ‘tested’ the biscuits to make sure they were ok.

Bon Voyage


Sentimental Saturday

Yesterday was a very Sentimental Saturday, it was our second wedding anniversary.

We had a lovely day. We took Peanut swimming first thing, which involves us leaving the house looking like we are going on an expedition, for all of 10 minutes in the pool. We then met up with Hanno for brunch, it was his 40th birthday the day before and he was our ring bearer at the wedding. We toasted each other with cups of tea and coffee and enjoyed our eggs.

We’d brought Hanno a signed County Cricket Bat. Not signed by just anyone, but his favourite cricketer Dean Jones. Hubs had the bat framed with his career statistics at the bottom of the case. Giving it to him was a bit emotional for both of the boys, they’ve known each other almost twenty years.

After we’d waved Hanno on his way to complete wedding duties for his brother; who is getting married today, (funnily enough in the same town we got married in) I went back to bed for a snooze. Waking up halfway through the first quarter of the AFL Grand Final, Hubs had looked after Peanut for me for a couple of hours, so I could rest. I then took the boy to go shopping, Chaddy was deserted, which was great. Hubs said he’d got the best of both worlds, quality time with his boy, and watching the football in peace & quiet!

I brought some steaks for dinner, we had them with a lovely bottle of red, and talked. Probably the most in depth conversation we’d had since Peanut was born; we looked back, looked forward, made plans and laughed. Apologies for the photo, we’d gone to bed before we’d remembered we didn’t have a photo of us. Apologies too if this is a bit disjointed, I’m typing one-handed as the boy has finally gone to sleep this afternoon, but on me!

Sentimental Saturday – Cross Stitch

This cross-stitch was completed by our Dutch friends for my grandparents, over twenty years ago. The frame was made by my Grandad, its fragile, delicate and can’t be hung up any longer. My husband repaired the frame, so it is now secure and stable, provided it is only stood up, although I’ve been asked why don’t I just get it reframed; which would rather defeat the object of it being made by Grandad!

My grandparents did a house-swap with the Haring family for the first time back in the 1950s, three generations of the two families have kept in contact since then. This little cross-stitch says so much, made in Hoorn in Holland, hung in Eastbourne, then in various military houses across the South of England through my first marriage, now it sits amongst photos on a dressing table in Melbourne.

Next month, in two short weeks, my best friend is arriving from the UK to meet her Godson, take care of me for a bit and we’re going to drive on The Great Ocean Road for a mini-break. I know when I meet her at the airport we’ll be talking like we’ve never been apart. Just like I hope I do with everyone I’ve had to leave behind in the UK when I followed my heart to live with my husband Down Under. True friendship absorbs miles, trials and tribulations. You don’t need to see each other all the time, you just need to let each other know you love each other.

Aged Ps, Poo-Shit, Wiz, Jimbly, Mon Bears, Doomy, Sonic, GAD, Bec, Sara, Bitch-Troll and beloved Helen & Jenny. This one’s for you.


Sentimental Saturday – Board Games

These board games belonged to my grandparents. The Monopoly game is the set that my Dad and his cousin broke over a long, cold winter. When I say broke, they had to make new money as they were going round and round the board in a deadlock.
When I had my appendix out, I wanted some distraction while I recuperated, I set up Cluedo, and tried to play it on my own. I figured I could work it somehow, let’s just day I did shortly realise I couldn’t not ‘see’ the other cards, I blame some heavy-duty painkillers!
I love playing both games, I was the dog when we played Monopoly with my parents and brother. We’d also play endless games of cards and dominos. Now I’m waiting patiently for my son to grow up so we can play board games together. They’ll be even older by then, will probably be viewed as archaic. But one thing Hubs and I want Peanut is not be plugged into a games console all the time. Board games may be old fashioned, but you can have a conversation playing them.
PS if I’m ever Banker? I cheat.