Not only is this visit home turning into a trip down memory lane*, it has also become a bit of a history project. Since I extended my stay here my Grandma asked me to help empty out her shed. Yesterday the two of us spent hours clambering over piles of precariously balanced junk, brushing off cobwebs to open dusty boxes which haven’t seen daylight for at least twenty years and rearranging gardening tools to access musty, damp filing cabinets. I loved every second of it. Partly because I got to spend some quality time with my Nan, but also this is one of my absolute favourite activites to do. A history lesson that you’re part of - you can see, feel and smell the results of an art project (a vase?) that your mother did when she as six. Or coursework your grandfather completed some 50 years ago.
Whilst digging through this absolute treasure trove of debris, collected from at least three generations we came across several cool things (or at least I think they're awesome). My new favourite pair of sunglasses - Willson round eye protectors, complete with leather sides to stop dust/sunlight, pre-1920s. This brought back some lovely memories for my Gran - she suspects they belonged to 'Uncle Ernie' who was apparently 'a right character'. He used to be very into cycling - hence the glasses. She told me that on a weekend he would cycle from his house in Essex all the way to a family house in Knutsford on a tandem bike, with his daughter - some 200+ miles!!
I think my Grandma enjoys reliving these memories - I certainly love hearing them, especially when they're told with an artefact that you can handle. I've never seen a picture of Uncle Ernie, but I know from the glasses that he must have had a slim face and been fairly eccentric to wear them.
What else was in there? My favourite stash - in an old leather travelling case there was a huge stack of magazines, dating from 1937 to 1961. I briefly skimmed through them - it's so interesting to see the development of ideas through the pages, for example the front cover illustrations and adverts. Even the stories told within are a fantastic glimpse into life in London during the WWII era.
Who wants more? Well I won’t spoil anything. If anyone’s interested in hearing more about Rose and Bill I am planning to start a separate blog to record their story for future generations.
Talking with my Grandma about history and her family has made me realise how little I actually know about her past. This has prompted me to start another project – our family tree! It’s been very interesting so far, learning about my ancestors. For example, discovering that there are two capped rugby players in our family. So far, anyway – I haven’t gone back very far!
To conclude then - everyone should always write in fountain pen, for the historians of the future it is much more romantic and secondly everyone should write. A letter, a postcard or even a poem. That is your homework, until next time!
*sometimes I seem to have a worrying lack of memories, considering I've only been away for two years. I've started to feel like an amnesia patient - people remembering things that I used to which I have no recollection of ever doing! Of course, I was expected to not remember where things are, like kitchen utensils because I was always fairly rubbish at that. I was trying to get somewhere, in the car a few days ago. It is, at most, two miles from my house and I couldn't remember how to get there!! I drove around in circles a few times then gave up.