Monday, June 8, 2009

Days Gone By

This was my parents home which I lived in from the age of 15 to 25 when I met Gregg and moved to America. It had a front room, two bedrooms, a kitchen, a bathroom (a bath and sink) and a separate 'loo'. My sister and I shared a bedroom for a while before she married and moved up north, and Dad made us a floor-to-ceiling built-in closet the length of the longest wall.

Their house also had a very nice garden back and front, with the back garden being twice as large as the front. Dad loved gardening and he partitioned the back with a trellis and because Mum loved sweet peas he planted those which eventually covered the trellis. They looked beautiful when blooming. On one side were his vegetables and a couple of fruit trees, along with a garden shed, and on the other was a nice grassy area surrounded by flowers. Mum and he would occasionally bring home a new rose tree and several were planted in a border surrounding the lawn. Mum usually chose the color and she loved roses as much as Dad did.

In one corner of the lawn was a birdhouse which he built himself. Besides his hobby of gardening he loved working with wood and was a very good carpenter. When family and friends admired his birdhouse, the next thing they knew he had built them one too. He enjoyed making them and giving them as gifts, especially if they genuinely showed a liking for them. He also added a closed in porch on the front and side of the house, and made loads of other things over the years.
Funny things you remember, but we had a party line that we shared with a neighbor behind us. Mum used to get a bit upset because this neighbor often listened in on our conversations. How did we know? When our neighbors picked up their phone and vice versa, the other's phone would ring faintly just once, and another clue was that we occasionally could hear her breathing in the background and once her husband's recognizable voice was heard, immediately followed with a resounding "shush". When we finally got our own line my dear Mother was so very happy. It makes me smile now as the neighbor wasn't a bad person, just a little nosey and also a bit of a gossip. One time my Mother got so miffed she told a friend in one particular phone conversation that her boyfriendwas coming over at six that evening. Our nosey neighbor must have been a bit dissapointmented when it turned out to be my Dad.

Another memory? They loved wildlife and enjoyed it when that wildlife came into the garden. Loved the birds but got upset when the seagulls descended in a swarm and stole all the food that was meant for the smaller birds, and Mum would send Dad out to shoo them away because she was a bit timid where seagulls were concerned. They also fed a family of hedgehogs that returned year after year.

Also one morning we awoke to find several cows trampling down Dad's precious rose bushes in the front garden. The nearby farmer had forgotten to lock the gate to his field. After that Dad put up a gate of his own to prevent it from ever happening again. Good news was that he had plenty of free manure after he called the farmer who eventually herded them out of the garden. The smell was horrible but his roses bloomed magnificently that summer. And it was much more preferable than the smell of the chicken manure he sometimes bought from that same farmer. We would go around with our fingers pinching our noses when the old chicken manure was spread. Mom would say "Oh Stan!" when Dad looked at our expressions of utter disgust and with that twinkle in his eye would say, "Lovely stuff!." He knew the reaction he would get and laughed even more at our wrinkled noses. On the inside he was happy because he knew his garden would benefit from all that 'lovely stuff'. Dad loved to tease us all the time but we knew it was all in good fun and never taken to heart.

To get back to the photo above, you can see Dad with son Brad who must have been about seven at the time. I see a suitcase packed on the top of Dad's car. We were probably off to visit my sister who lived in a small village near Worcester. My sister and brother-in-law actually had homes in two villages when they lived in Worcestershire, the first one in Bishampton and a few years later they moved to Naunton Beachamp. Both were beautiful villages and typical of what you find in the English countryside. It was about 300 miles north of us and those visits hold many happy memories. Their daughter was born in Sweden years later.
My Mom and Dad in the kitchen with son Brad in the middle. Their home was built on a hill and in the valley you could see our village. It was a beautiful view. The church Gregg and I were married in is behind Brad's head. I used to love to listen to the church bells ring on a Sunday morning. I love this photo of them as I do the one of Mum and Brad below. Mum loved to sit in the kitchen and she had a small stool in the corner that was 'her spot'. I love all these photos. The older you get the more treasured your old family photos become don't they?
Mum loved her newspapers and word puzzles. Sunday Morning she always had a bumper crop of them and while Dad worked in the garden she would be in her corner with pencil in hand working on her crosswords and other word puzzles, all this in between making the Sunday dinner which was always a slap-up meal. Mum was a great cook. She enjoyed the garden but not as much as Dad. He loved working in it and it received lots of tender loving care. There was this one huge pink rhodedendron bush which you could see as you looked out the front window. It was a sight to behold.

Brad is checking out those roses in the photo below, probably at the direction of his mother who wanted yet another photograph. I liked taking photos back then as you can see, and I am so glad I did. When you are taking photos of people and occasionally you see them roll their eyes because you're taking yet another photo, just keep taking those photos. With any luck they will learn to understand. Their children will be very grateful you did in the years ahead, for eventually it is not for us but for them. These photos are for our son Brad who as he gets older is learning to love seeing them.
Another favorite of Brad in his Nandad's cap. He was fascinated by that cap and with Nandad's pipe which I see is stuck in his mouth. Nandad eventually quit smoking his pipe a few years later but I remember the smell of that pipe tobacco and I have to say I loved it. Yes I know it's bad to smoke but whenever I smell tobacco smoke, which isn't too often these days and to think of it it's been years since I saw someone smoke a pipe, I think of my Dad. His brother, my Uncle Tom, used to smoke one also.
I was asked once why was my Dad called Nandad. Mum was called Nanny. To tell you the truth up until I was asked that question I never gave it a second thought. I had a Nandad as his Nandad before him, and Brad's Nandad had that designated title his whole life. I don't know where it came from but it's been in our family for as long as I can remember and each grandpa in our family was called Nandad, even my Mum's Dad whom I never met. We were brought up in the Midlands (England) and maybe it's a Midland term, I'm really not sure. If anyone else has a Nandad or an unusual name for 'grandfather', I would be very interested to hear it.


  1. What great memories and your old photos are wonderful. Nandad ia a new one for me. Sounds a little like a name a very young child might come up with.

  2. Denise, I love yur walk down memory lane, it gives aush a n impression of a loving family with plenty of humour. Thank you for sharing this insight into your private life.

  3. Lol, your manure story reminds me of living in rural Wales - the smell during muck spreading was unbelievable. The first time it happened I thought the sewage works had exploded!
    I've never heard of nandad either, but it definitely sounds midlands-y.

  4. It sounds like you've had a very idyllic childhood. Your parents really gave you beautiful memories to carry with you for your whole life. Thank you for sharing a part of it with us. I love the idea of the sweet peas on the trellis. Lovely.

  5. Lovely memories and you're so right about photographs - they're more evocative than almost anything else.
    Nandad is an interesting name. In Denmark (I think . . . )the mother's mother and father are called 'MumMum' and 'MumDad' and the father's parents are called 'DadMum' and 'DadDad' - (in Danish, of course!)
    Maybe your sister in Sweden can throw some light on the origins of NanDad.

  6. What wonderful memories you have shared with us Denise.
    Funny stories, amd oooh those pictures look so familiar. My dad had three different Ford Capri's we still have his Capri from 1970 it's a "classic" now in pristine condition.
    Well, I've never heard of the term Nandad and ao wondering if it was something specifically in your area.
    Yes, there is nothing more pungent than fresh manure, but it's "country" and one of the things I hold onto.
    You sound like you had a wonderful childhood, and treasure your memories.

  7. I'm checking out those flowers from picture 1 wow ..sandy

  8. Hi Denise.
    Lovely post. Wonderful memories.

  9. Just thought I would say hello from the UK, I have thoroughly enjoyed looking through your blog and it was so interesting to read of your family memories. You have some lovely wildlife photos, the ones of the Beaver among the Lily pads are beautiful.

  10. Tricia, it does doesn't it?

    Arija, thank you. I remember my parents with a great deal of love.

    J, that's funny. Another memory I have is when the horses came through and how people used to rush out with a bucket!!! Lots of people had gorgeous flowers, maybe that's why :))) I'm beginning to think more and ore that Nandad is a Midland thing.

    Kay, they certainly did.

    Jabblog, I am so interested in your names for grandparents, they do sound very similar don't they.

    Jo, my Dad just loved his Ford Capri. How lovely that you still have your Dad's car.

    Sandy, yes, Dad was pretty proud of his flowers.

    Regina, thank you.

    ShySongbird, so nice to meet you.

    I do appreciate all of your nice comments and thank you so much for taking the time to stop by and make them.

  11. Haha!, I remember the party line. When I was growing up, we had one too!

  12. Ebie, that's interesting. I suppose that's how it was when we were children. Not so long ago really.