“Memory…is the diary that we all carry about with us” Oscar Wilde

Brightly coloured crocuses and tulips and cold, crisp mornings are very welcome given the miserable weather we’ve had recently, and over the weekend, I’ve felt the sense of Spring being in the air…time for a bit of reflection methinks.

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Over the last month or so, it feels like I’ve been so busy, that I haven’t had the opportunity to step back and take stock of things. Life has been chaotic, moving from the school run, to cooking, to house cleaning, to ferrying the children around to various activities, to running my business…I feel as though I can’t function without my iPad (that is completely true…my business depends on it) and my brain is full to bursting with designs, colour combinations and types of fabric. Now I have to admit, my work is a lovely thing to be consumed by, simply because, I absolutely love it. It’s an enormous sense of satisfaction when I hand over a truly bespoke gift to a happy customer…I wouldn’t have it any other way. But this morning, whilst drinking my first cup of tea of the day and watching the children causing their usual chaos, I thought to myself “What kind of memories am I creating for my children?”

I have lovely childhood memories. I remember being taken on day trips, going on holiday, spending time with my grandparents, spontaneous weekends away to London when we were originally heading to Cardiff (this really did happen and we didn’t have a toothbrush between us)! I feel so guilty when I realise that I’ve spent the last two hours berating PFB (Perfect First Born) for whingeing and whining and I feel awful when it dawns on me that I’ve spent the majority of the day saying “No” to PSB (Perfect Second Born). It makes me think to myself that my children are going to have awful childhood memories. But then I think back to when I was as young as PFB…I don’t remember being given rows or being in my parents’ bad books…ever. Now, this means that I was either a perfect child (very much doubt it) or that the good stuff outweighed the bad (far more likely).

I took the children to the park over the weekend…the same park that I use to be taken to as a child. It evoked some great memories of playing on the long since removed roundabout (why don’t you see roundabouts anymore? Is it another sign of Health and Safety gone mad?) and the absolutely massive slide, which I’m sure wouldn’t look quite so big anymore. It was nice to think that my children will have the same memories of this park that I have. In fact, the swings that I’ve photographed (of course I had my iPad with me) are one feature of the park that hasn’t changed in 25 years…although I’m assuming that they have been replaced many times since I played on them as there were no “condemned” signs and they looked in quite good condition on Saturday.

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I do remember being looked after by both sets of grandparents as a young child and these memories are quite vivid. Perhaps it’s because I’ve since lost my Dadcu (my paternal grandfather passed away in 1988) and my Mam (my maternal grandmother, who we lost in 2005) that I now remember spending time with them so clearly. I remember having sleepovers with Mamgu and Dadcu; I’d sleep on a little daybed that they slotted onto the end of their double bed (even though they had spare bedrooms!) but come the morning, my Dadcu would get up and make us breakfast in bed. It would be the same breakfast every time: my favourite, thickly buttered cracker-bread with grapes…bizarre, I know, but I was five, this is what I wanted and my grandparents catered for my every whim. Another distinctive memory is my Dadcu’s hair. It was completely silvery white, which was a stark contrast to his dark framed glasses and I remember how he used to stand in front of the mirror in the hallway looking at his hair, inspecting it almost. I used to stand and watch him and I’d ask him what he was looking for. He’d say “I’m looking for black hairs” and if he were to find one, he’d quickly pull it out, not to blemish the whiteness! My Mamgu would often berate him for driving too fast, calling him “Stirling Moss” at every opportunity…so there we go, those of you who call me “Penelope Pitstop” now know where I get it from!

I spent a great deal of time with my Mam and Dat as a child as they looked after my brother and I whilst my mother worked. Dat was a local Councillor and Mam would complain that the landline was like a hotline because it rang so often (I secretly think she enjoyed being his PA!). She would cook us proper chips in the shed, so as not to let the house smell of chip fat, and she’d make me cawl…without onions…and parsley…and meat…let’s just say that it was a very sanitised cawl and she’d put the ingredients that I didn’t like into little muslin bags to make sure that my cawl didn’t get “contaminated” as I used to tell her!

Mam and Dat had one of those half sized fridges that was veneered with a mock Walnut front and of course, “half-sized” meant “me sized” to my four year old self which meant that I was able to reach everything. For some time, every time I entered my grandparents’ house, I would make a beeline for the fridge and casually drop every egg that was neatly placed in the in-built egg rack, onto the floor. I wouldn’t have thought that this would have been met with praise, but do I remember being given a row for it? I honestly don’t. Neither do I remember being told off for scooping up the small pebbles used for the base of the flower arrangements in a local cafe and piling them up in the middle of my Mam’s ham salad whilst she wasn’t looking (you see, I told you that it was extremely doubtful that I was a perfect child).

Speaking of eggs, yesterday, I was lucky enough to be given some fresh eggs from the inhabitants of the chicken coop at Little Black Hen HQ. They looked so pretty, it was a shame to crack them, but it had to be done. With a little help from some lovely ingredients and a muffin tin, I fashioned the eggs into these little “Egg Muffins” as I like to call them. And the left over eggs were just screaming out to be made into pikelets. Needless to say, lunch was good…

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My Mam used to sew…a lot. I remember sitting by her side whilst she fashioned scraps of fabric into tea cosies and pretty little drawstring bags with her wheel handled Singer sewing machine. I’d sit there for hours happily watching her…unlike my cousin, who once got bored of watching and took it upon himself to use a ball of wool to tie my grandmother to the chair. She was totally oblivious to it until there was a knock at the door (it was the “egg man”…you don’t get egg delivery men anymore) and she tried, in vain, to get up (my cousin had actually used an entire ball of wall to tie her to the back of the chair and so, she was going nowhere). She had to call the egg delivery man into the house to cut her free! Now I DO remember the row that my cousin was given for doing this…funny that!

So, whereas I inherited my speed-demon tendencies from my grandfather, my love of sewing undoubtedly comes from my Mam. It most definitely doesn’t come from my mother, I can assure you; my mother tells the story of how, in her school sewing class, she completed a beautiful piece of embroidery, only to discover that she’d actually managed to embroider the fabric onto her skirt and it had to be cut apart to remove it. I still have some of the fabric from my Mam’s stash. Some of it still smells of her; it’s a combination of Imperial Leather soap and lavender.

I’ve now decided that I’m not going to fret too much about the memories that I’m helping to create for my children…I’m banking on them only remembering the good stuff!

Over and out…

4 thoughts on ““Memory…is the diary that we all carry about with us” Oscar Wilde

  1. You’re right, dad’s hair was a striking white colour. Fond memories for me too. Mamgu still has crackers and grapes for breakfast!

  2. I hope you’re right about kids only remembering the good stuff. I’ve made my share of mistakes along the way, so my fingers are crossed that they will look at the overall picture.

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