Where did it come from

My mother and her sister were twins. Fraternal not identical. Two eggs producing two sisters who were so very different. One blonde – one dark. One out going, talkative, loving life to the full, an extrovert – the other quiet and retiring very much the introvert. One definitely liking the drink – the other very much the teetotaller.

Children of the 1920s when money was a bit hard to come by. I love these photos of the two of them in their homemade shifts, with my grandma standing to one side, smiling at them getting to know the parrot in the big cage. Mum (the dizzy blonde with the curly hair and her drawers hanging down) is trying to open the cage, Aunty Madge (the dark haired quiet one) is obviously not that interested.

That’s the way they were all their lives.  Aunty Madge (below L) quietly and politely waiting  her  turn.   Alice (my mum) ‘quick’ impatient, impulsive, outspoken, always wanting to lead, never wanting to be left behind.  Sometimes known to bite her tongue when she saw things she didn’t like but decided that wasn’t the time to let people know.   Not quite sure what it was the photographer was doing she didn’t like but her tongue was obviously being bitten lol

They grew up ‘motherless’……my grandma died when they were just 7 so an aunt helped raise them as well as their two brothers.  All mum ever said was ‘it was was fun when her father was around, not so the aunt’.  
So come the time of WW2 what does a very high spirited young woman do when advised by her father (a career soldier mentioned in dispatches for bravery during WW1) that women do not go to war but take the overnight boat from Belfast to Heysham and enlist in the WAAFs.  Yes she ran away from home to join the Air Force.  

Aunty Madge bided her time and was ‘allowed’ to work in a munitions factory where she found a husband and lost the tip of a finger.  Mum spent her time dodging bombs on an airforce camp, packing parachutes and dancing.  She ‘reacquainted’ herself with Dad (who she had known in Belfast) and the rest is history.  

Alice and James 1985

During this time of lockdowns and restrictions I’ve been trying to do something different for a change – I gave up on ‘teach yourself crochet’ because I just couldn’t get a grip on manipulating the wool in my left hand – so dug out some cross stitch that’s been on the go for a fair while.    
A little something for The Golfer, ( a sampler of historic buildings in Colchester which is where he was born and bred) supposed to have been a surprise birthday gift a couple of years ago it never got finished in time and has been 
loitering  waiting patiently for me to rediscover it.  Yes I know I should have rolled it……..I’ll have to wash it so hopefully the crease will come out when it’s ironed/blocked before framing.

I know my love of song and family was passed down from my father, the thrill of dance came from both parents, my delight in knitting was given to me by my mother who ‘was a whizz with the needles’ but I’ve often struggled wondering where did my interest in needlework come from.  

I certainly didn’t inherit the sewing machine gene – that delight was passed on to my next sister and I don’t ever recall mum with an embroidery needle in her hand.

But see this lovely embroidery hoop and floor stand – it was given to me years and years ago – by Aunty Madge!  Unbeknown to me my quiet patient retiring aunt shared the same interest and thought I might like it.  It’s great for large pieces, I can adjust the height and angle of the hoop or remove the hoop and use it on my lap.  Perhaps as she had no children of her own she had silently (Invisibly) gifted me with her passion for threads of all sorts.

Linking to Monday Musings 


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24 thoughts on “Where did it come from

  1. What a fascinating family story – and thought.
    My parents were multi talented. Talents which I did not inherit.
    Growing up we were told that ‘everyone has a special talent’. Mine is taking its time to emerge.


    1. Hello Debbie. Lovely to see you.
      If the truth be told I’d forgotten all about this sampler – it came to light when I had a bit of a clear out the other week. Even with a day glo lamp it’s only now with the brighter days I enjoy stitching so maybe…just maybe…it might get finished.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. love the hoop/stand – and would be a good for you to have – and that’s great you are going to finish that “loiterer”

    I haven’t inherited anything from my parents unless you start thinking that of late I’ve got into using the oven a little more, but as far as I can see Mother wasn’t especially great with it, other than collecting recipes… the only “cake” I ever recall from her, was when she got an electric frypan and managed to work out how to create a tea-cake in it…but can I find the recipe in her recipe book – NO!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh what a shame Cathy. It’s sounds a bit like being all dressed up and nowhere to go. You’re prepared to cook something special but don’t have the instructions.
      Maybe try out one recipe that’s there that you do remember eating.


    1. Andrew sometimes thoughts just appear and I just need to get them down, whether anyone is interested or not is often beside the point. It’s good if they are.
      She didn’t give you the lavatory brush did she??😊


  3. Oh! I love this story about your mother and her sister, Cathy. And how I would have loved to have know your Mum. Her brave, adventurous spirit…her joie de vivre …would have been both captivating and contagious.

    Wonderful memories…thanks for sharing them, Cathy. Take good care. ::)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes Lee she was a live wire alright.
      Restrictions are easing a little now down here so life will become less stressful for some. I’m still going to be taking lots of care though 😊


  4. I was here in Greece when my Mum took ill in NZ last year (on what we knew would be her final journey). Unable to join the rest of the family I had to communicate with her by phone and messages. It forced me to say things that might have gone unsaid if I was sitting by her bed -“I love you because….” “I thank you for…” among other things sewing (I’ve still got the first piece of needlework she taught me on from before I started school. It was done on an old hessian sugar bag.) I still make most of my own clothes (and only buy what I do when I get it from charity shops), not because I’m poor, but because Mum taught us not to abide waste. She was years ahead of ‘recycle, reuse, repurpose’ etc – we just didn’t call it that then.


    1. No it was make do and/or mend!
      How good was that, that you were able to say your special goodbyes to your Mum even though you were so far away – sad that they had to be done over the phone rather than in person.


    1. Thank ‘you’ Cathy….sometimes I start talking and posts seem to grow. I wish I’d taken more notice when they reminisced about things that had happened to them. Going by the name of The Terrible Thompson Twins I bet there was lots they could have told us😊


    1. It’s funny how some things are sent to try us……try as hard as I did I just couldn’t manipulate the thread in my left hand.
      I’m sure one of my crafty friends would help – if we were allowed to meet. Perhaps in the new year when all this is….I was going to say behind us but I don’t think it will be gone anytime soon.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Cathy, A beautiful and touching history – thank you for sharing. It reminds me of some my family’s stories from the different wars and how grateful I am that I haven’t experienced these things but also how so much goodness and greatness can still come out of them. #MondayMusings


  6. So wonderful to look back on these lovely memories, Cathy and hear the lovely stories of your mom and aunt! I think Black and White photos have a charm of their own…isn’t it nostalgic how the stories come rolling out, on their own, whenever old photographs resurface?


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