Sunday, 6 January 2013

Grandma: Photographs & Memories

Grandma and Mum, enjoying a picnic in the early 1960's. Notice the tea pot!


When I was in my early twenties I inherited Grandma's car. It was perfect in every way but for two things: the driver's headrest was sticky with hairspray (no amount of scrubbing ever really removed it) and there was a cigarette burn in the back seat from a time when she'd  once tried to flick her cigarette butt out of the window but it blew back in.

She would apply lipstick and adjust her scarf before leaving the house and took tremendous pride in her appearance. Her dressing table (a huge, three mirrored affair) was a source of endless fascination to me as a child, as was the drawer containing what seemed to be hundreds and hundreds of bottles of nail varnish. She had her hair done weekly in immovable curls (think more like The Queen than a blue rinse). She kept a small can of Elnett hairspray in the glove compartment of her car, for emergencies. As a young woman she belonged to the Women's League of Healthy and Beauty and had one of those fabulous 1950's figures, all pointed boobs and tiny waist.

She smoked, the only person in my family who did so. She blamed her addiction on the war; she grew up in London and was sixteen when war broke out. She said everyone started to smoke during the blitz, it was just what you did. She was very fond of a gin and tonic, it was her tipple of choice. Her fridge always smelt of lemon as she kept cut wedges in the fridge at all times, ready for a drink. If I keep a cut lemon in the fridge, when I open the door, that smell takes me straight back to her kitchen.

We often went to my Grandparent's house for Sunday lunch or to stay the night. Their home was large and full of Narnia wardrobes and excellent hiding places. She loathed cooking, but loved having us round. There is a particular smell I can recall with total clarity, a mixture of roast dinner, perfume and cigarettes that would envelop me with her hug when she opened the front door, saying "Darlings!" Lunch would always be followed by a walk, straight out of the gate at the bottom of their garden into the fields, then back to their house for a Sunday tea of sandwiches and ginger cake with the Antiques Roadshow on the television in the background. My sisters and I used to giggle over what we called her "Duchess voice" - she was very well spoken but would always put on a more exaggerated tone when she answered the phone or spoke to others outside the family.

She, and my Grandpa, had such abundant and indulgent love for my sisters and I, their only grandchildren. We felt cherished and special with them. They were cherished and special to us.

Matching Knitwear: My Grandparents and me as a baby.



42 comments:

Morten and Me said...

Beautiful post Gillian, really lovely. That last picture is amazing...how proud do they look?! Love the new banner too :) xx

Rainbow Vintage Home said...

Oh Gillian that brought tears to my eyes! She sounds like an amazing Grandma and a very classy lady. xx

thriftwood said...

What lovely memories Gillan ... A beautiful tribute to your grandparents, they'd be very proud if you.

Love the new header ... A reminder that spring's not too far away!

Love Claire xxx

Suzie Williams said...

I had such a smile on my face reading this post, it's so lovely to hear about your grandma who sounds like a wonderfully cool lady, I reckon I'd quite like to have spent a Sunday or two with her as well!

A Normandy kitchen said...

Hello Gillian,
Such a touching post, she looks so happy in the photos. It must be so very hard for you all still. Thank you for showing us your precious memories, she sounds like such a fun person, God bless her...
Ivan x

Julie said...

Thank you for sharing your memories - your Grandmother sounds like a real character and great fun. I didn't get a chance to comment on your last post but had wanted to say that I wear my Nanna's engagement ring almost every day and every time I look at it I think of her. I'm sure your pearls will bring you the same comfort and memories. x

June said...

A very touching post which rings of love for your grandmother. I have my grandmother's wedding ring - she never had an engagement ring. I keep it safe in a pill box to look at and reminisce from time to time.
June

Donna said...

Hello Gillian, What a lovely post thanks for sharing your memories.

my little red suitcase said...

what a lovely post, and what a classic she was! great memories, Heather x

Jacquie said...

What a touching tribute to your Grandma, Gillian. Sounds like she had a long and interesting life, and a great love of her family.
Thank you for sharing your memories with us.
Jacquie x

Anna @ green tea n toast said...

What a lovely lovely post Gillian. So touching indeed. Thanks for sharing x

just Gai said...

A valuable reminder that it's the little details that remind us of those we love.

Karen said...

Such a lovely post. Love her duchess voice, my granny had one of those and my mum still does! That last photo is beautiful - makes me want to become a granny myself! X

Angel Jem said...

Thank you for sharing such a lovely post. Memories are so precious and what lovely memories you have!

dolly mixtures said...

Such a dapper and stylish pair - love these retro snaps and memories xo

Anna said...

A lovely post Gill. You have described Grandma perfectly. xxx

Chrissie's Crafty Corner said...

Oh, that made me cry! What wonderful treasured memories. Hugs Cxx

Donna said...

What a lovely post Gillian- it's brought a lump to my throat. There was a certain style and finesse to women from that era wasn't there?
A fitting tribute to your grandma xx

Jennifer said...

Such a beautiful tribute to your grandmother, Gillian! Thank you for sharing. She sounds like a wonderful lady. I have a grandma who sounds a bit like her. I love the final photo of your grandparents holding you as a baby; they both look so young to be grandparents, bless them. I so enjoyed this post.

the linen cloud said...

Oh Gillian ... what a wonderful post ... your Grandma sounds likes an amazing lady and all the photos are lovely ... Bee xx

trishie said...

What a beautiful post. Your grandmother sounds like an amazing person, and I love reading all about her.

Nelli said...

Loved reading your post! I can so relate to the part about the fragrances evoking so many memories... I have that same experience with things from my childhood and my sweet, sweet grandparents. Such a gift! Thanks for sharing :)

Vintage Sheet Addict said...

She would feel so proud to be remembered with such love! :) x

Gaby said...

So sweet. My grandma smokes as well, actually my other grandma used to smoke but quit in her 40's. I think most people did back then. Anyway, how wonderful to have such lovely photos!

Rachel said...

What fabulous memories of your Grandma xx

Renee said...

Loved it...thats all I can say.
Renee

Jo Shedden said...

I loved this Gillian. Its such a beautiful post. My Nana was quite similar to yours, that unconditional love,and in her looks and mannerisms too. I fact I think its safe to say our Gran's would have got on. Thanks for posting this, Love Jxx

Jo said...

Such lovely memories, they're something which will last a lifetime. A touching post.

Elisa said...

What a lovely post, I have recently discovered your blog...we are but a stone's throw from each other, I am just up the road in York. I look forward to keeping up with your posts...please head over to my blog to say hello! Elisa xx

Col | Hello Olive said...

This is a lovely post Gillian! Your gran sounds like she was amazing woman! x

Elle Sees said...

I absolutely loved reading this!!

Jenny said...

wonderful! I can almost feel the sticky headrest and imagine those women (all pointy-boobed) :)

...Tabiboo... said...

This is so beautiful Gillian and such lovely memories. I simply adore the first and last person.

To Grandma's and 2013 - a Happy New Year to you.

Nina x

Trudy said...

Beautiful memories, Gillian.
That top photo is brilliant!

Jen Walshaw said...

What a beautiful tribute to your Grandma. Just remember you are her echo and welcome to 2013

Julia said...

Just lovely, Gillian! Your grandmother was a beautiful and special lady! I love the photo of her having a picnic with your mom. Thanks for sharing!

Angela said...

A lovely tribute to your grandmother. I think to be loved and cherished by your grandparents is a wonderful gift.

Annie @ knitsofacto said...

What a beautiful post. And a lovely tribute. The relationship between grandmothers and grandchildren is one of the most special isn't it. Unconditional love without the angst of parental responsibility.

Scarily your grandmother can only have been born a few years before my mother, although my mother came late to motherhood herself so that may account for that to some degree. But it does make me realise how lucky I am to still have my Mum, who is now in her mid 80s.

Coal Valley View said...

A beautiful Post, which has brought tears to my eyes. The weekly hairdresser appointment, lemons, and special bond you shared with her brings back fond memories of my Grandma. I just love all the old photos, Thanks for sharing this. Mel x

Andrea @ little buckles said...

This is so wonderful. Memories to cherish forever. She sounded such a lovely lady xxx

Greer said...

Oh, Gillian, how beautiful. I bet you miss her x

Gerry 'The Rose Gold Engagement Rings Guy' said...

Nice story, remember her always...