Monday 27 April 2015

A Day At The Edge

WOWEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  What a wonderful day I had at the Much Wenlock Poetry Festival on Saturday.  Ma, Dad and I went to three events, all different styles and each one fascinating.
Firstly there was Michael Rosen who is not just a poet but a very physical performer.  He was very funny and kept a theatre full of children and adults entertained for an hour, telling stories of growing up with parents who were both teachers, sharing a bedroom with his brother and how he was encouraged to begin writing poetry.  If you ever get the chance to go and see him, grab it.  If you are a primary school teacher, try and get him to come to your school and talk to the children.   
Then we had a break.  Ma had brought some rolls, tomatoes, grapes and chocolate biscuits and we had a flask of coffee and a bottle of water.  We are willing to spend money on tickets but we don't buy food when we're out!  It's a small but significant saving. 
Our next event was a reading by David Whyte.  This was the one I was really looking forward to because we saw him last year and he was mesmerising, so we bought his book then, Pilgrim, and I bought another, Fire in the Earth, from Oxfam online and I have dipped into them many times over the last twelve months.  I say "a reading" and he did read two short essays but he recites his poems and tells the stories behind them.  As my mother remarked, he has the extraordinary ability to make you feel that he is speaking directly to you and nobody else in the room.  Sometimes you come across a piece of art or writing or music which touches you immediately because of the emotional or psychological place you are in, it fits your situation and seems to give you an answer or encouragement, and I think that is why David's reading affects me so profoundly.  I found him at the right time.

Our third event was an hour with Jonathan Edwards, whose first collection won the Costa Poetry Prize last year.  He read for about thirty minutes and for the rest of the hour he answered questions from the audience led by Anna Dreda, the marvellous woman who owns a bookshop called Wenlock Books which is so much more than a bookshop, founded the festival in 2010 and was one of the judges for the Costa Poetry Prize last year.  At the end, I was just thinking, "What an engaging young man," when a woman sitting behind me turned to whoever she was with and said, "What an engaging young man!"  So it must be true - he is an engaging young man.  He signed my book afterwards with "lots of love" and there's another proof.

This is the fourth time I have been to this festival, which is always held just after Easter, and I have never been to any other literary festival so I can't make any comparisons.  I can simply tell you that I have enjoyed it every year.  The difference between this and a music festival is that you have to buy separate tickets for each event you attend, and we try to attend three or four each time, so the cost can mount up, but I think our most expensive event this year was £11 each and the others were £6 each, which may put it in perspective.  We usually plan a day and there is such variety available that there is something for everyone; Dad planned it this year and did a top job (thanks, Dad).

So thanks Ma and Dad, I had a terrific time.  And thanks for buying this year's Festival Anthology for me.  And thanks for the amazing dinner afterwards at The Raven Hotel.   And thank you to Anna Dreda for creating this festival and ensuring that it is so accessible.  And thank you, gentle readers, for calling in and allowing me to share all this with you today.

See you soon.

Love, Mrs Tiggywinkle x


Friday 24 April 2015

Five On Friday

Hello, thank you for calling in, you are all welcome.  Today I am again joining in with Amy's Five On Friday so do pop over there and see who else is joining in.  This week my Five are a bit different: they are poets.  The small town of Much Wenlock has an annual poetry festival this weekend and I am going tomorrow with my parents.  The town will be full of poetry – to listen to, to read and to write, some serious and some great fun, some both!  I know that some people are not interested in poetry, but most of us like songs, which are simply poems set to music, and I reckon most of us can remember a few nursery rhymes, which are simple poems.  I can’t say that I like or understand all poems, but here are five poets whose work I do like.


Andrew Motion
I have to begin with Sir Andrew Motion: the first time I went to one of his readings, four years ago, he said that poetry shouldn’t be reserved for special occasions, it should be part of everyday life, “like breathing”.  That was a revelation to me, the fact that poetry isn’t necessarily about grand things, that it can be about the ordinary, the domestic, the everyday things, and since that time, I have sought out poetry to read.  One of the wonderful things about it is that if you don’t have enough time to read a whole chapter of a novel, you have time to read a whole poem.  That day, Sir Andrew read “The Death of Harry Patch” and moved me to tears – if you don’t know who Harry Patch was, he died in 2009 at the age of 111 and was the last surviving soldier who fought in the First World War.  You can read the poem here or better still, listen to Sir Andrew's mellifluous voice reading it here.

 A.A. Milne
Apart from nursery rhymes, I think Milne’s poems are the first I can remember being aware of – they must certainly have been the first I actually read - and I treasure my old copies of When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six.  What is the matter with Mary Jane?

Andrew Marvell
I studied the Metaphysical poets, a group of English poets who lived in the 17th century, for A-Level English and the poem I liked best was Marvell’s To His Coy Mistress.  The protagonist is attempting to seduce a woman on the basis that “we should get on with it now because we might be run over by a bus tomorrow” (ok, I know that they didn’t have buses then – I am paraphrasing) and as a hormonal seventeen year-old I found it a bit shocking, but now I think it’s really quite sexy.  You can read it here if you want to, don't be put off by the fact that the poem is 350 years old, there's no difficult language. 
A.E. Housman
Well, I had to include Housman, didn’t I?  His most famous work, A Shropshire Lad, is not one poem but a series of 63 poems and I have only read a few of them.  The theme is mortality and, like Marvell, the need to seize the day because we don’t know how long we have left, and it became a bestseller during the years of the Second Boer War (1899-1902), young men going off to war and possible death, and was again popular during the First World War (1914-1918).  I like the references to the places I know, and I find some of the poems very moving.  Here is The Lads In Their Hundreds, read by Imelda Staunton and set to music by Show of Hands.  (If you would prefer a shorter, simpler Housman poem, have a look at my previous post.)  It's so poignant. 
Image result for the lads in their hundreds show of hands

David Whyte
I had never heard of David Whyte until I saw him at last year's Poetry Festival, when he asked for his fee to be partially paid in bacon from the renowned local butcher, and I found him absolutely mesmerising.  He is my poetry crush and I am really looking forward to attending his reading tomorrow.  You can find him on Facebook here where he posts some of his poems and beautiful photographs.  I wonder if he'll go for bacon again this year?

So there you are, five poets to get me in the mood for tomorrow, when I shall be listening to Michael Rosen, David Whyte and Jonathan Edwards with my lovely Ma and Dad. 
Don't forget to pop over to Love Made My Home to see who else is sharing Five On Friday, and THANK YOU Amy for hosting this party.

See you soon.

Love, Mrs Tiggywinkle x














Tuesday 21 April 2015

Loveliest of trees

Hello, thank you for calling in.  We are enjoying lovely warm, sunny weather here and I am getting a bit excited about the weekend as I am off to the annual Poetry Festival in Much Wenlock on Saturday - I'll tell you more about it on Friday.  In the meantime, to get us in the mood, here is a short poem which was published by A.E. Housman in 1896 in A Shropshire Lad and is accompanied by two photographs taken by me this morning. 

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.
Now, of my threescore years and ten,       
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.
And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,        
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.


Now, I may appear to be too late for Eastertide, but apparently the season of Easter lasts until Pentecost, which is in May, so I reckon I can get away with it and anyway, this tree was not in flower on Easter Sunday.  I should also confess that this particular cherry tree stands not in any woodland but in my street, and very welcome she is, too.  She is certainly the loveliest tree in the street.
See you on Friday for a bit more poetry.
Love, Mrs Tiggywinkle x

Sunday 19 April 2015

The Only Two Left In The World

Hello, thank you for dropping in and thanks especially to those of you who left comments on my last post, I value every one of them (and actually, we did have pasta for dinner again on Friday!).  Today I would like to take you on a little outing.  The Shrewsbury Canal was completed in 1797 and intended to link our county town with the coal mines and ironworks in East Shropshire, in the area now known as Telford.  It's a funny little canal because it was not designed to be used by narrowboats or barges but instead, the freight was transported on tub-boats which were about 20 feet long and no more than 6 feet 4 inches wide, little oblong boxes which were linked together in trains of up to twenty and pulled by horses on the towpath. So, the canal didn't need to be very wide and in fact its eleven locks are the narrowest of any canal locks in the country at only 6 feet 7 inches wide.  Special lock gates were designed for this canal by Thomas Telford, who later became the first President of the Institution of Civil Engineers, unique guillotine lock gates which lifted up and down on chains from a gantry rather than swinging open and closed conventionally.  The canal closed in 1944 and very little of it remains.  You have to go searching for the evidence, so I did, because I do enjoy a bit of industrial archaeology, poking around and putting the clues together to work out how things used to happen.  Would you like to have a look?

See what I mean?  Unless you know what you are looking for, you wouldn't really guess that there is a water course here, although the bulrushes are a clue.  But if you peer through the trees which have been planted on this side of the fence...

Aha!  A wooden gantry.  This is Hadley Park Lock.  Let's go and have a closer look...

There is a bridge behind the lock and if you stand on it you can look down the length of the lock chamber.  If you look down, you can see what remains of the gate -

The gate was raised and lowered on chains using a pulley system, here are the wheels at the top of the gantry -

 and here is the very overgrown mechanism beside it -
This gate is so overgrown and dilapidated that it's quite hard to see how it worked, but one furlong away (I'm a metric baby so I don't really know how far that is, but it's very close) -

Here is Turnip Lock.  (Goodness knows where the name comes from!)  On the left you can see the mechanism for the counterweight.  Shall we look closer? 
The hole was where the counterweight lived.  Let's look at the old gate itself -
Are you getting the hang of all this now?  The gate was lifted up and down on chains which ran over  the wheels at the top of the gantry, counterbalanced by a weight which sank into a hole in the ground beside the lock gate.  Fancy a look at the lock chamber before we turn back to Hadley Park Lock? -
There is a drop of about 4 metres here and I am scared of heights so my heart was in my mouth when I took this, clinging on to the rickety old gantry!  Let's go back to Hadley Park Bridge and look in the other direction, away from the lock -

Water!  It's looks very serene, let's clamber down through the trees for a closer look at the bridge we're standing on -

Hmm, close but not a very good view, let's go back up and over the bridge and try the other side -

Ooh, that's better.  See how the tree has taken root in the wall and is growing straight out of it?  That can't be right, can it? -

It is pleasant down here in the sunshine, it could be so pretty if it were cared for.  Mr and Mrs Peacock Butterfly are flirting as are Mr and Mrs Mallard -
Now here's the bit I don't understand: these lock gates are unique, the only two left in the world and they are Grade 2 listed, as is the bridge, so why on earth have they been allowed to fall into such a state of disrepair?  It's all very picturesque and romantic to let the ivy grow over it, but surely it's damaging the structure?  Doesn't anyone care about them?  There are signs all around this place which say "Hadley, Rich in Heritage" so why aren't they looking after their heritage if they are apparently so proud of it?  It saddens me to see the locks like this, especially when you look at these photographs taken less than forty years ago, but that's why I wanted to take these photos and share them with you - the view won't always look like this.  Ho hum.
See you soon, I hope. 
 Love, Mrs Tiggywinkle x  

Friday 17 April 2015

Five On Friday

Hello, thank you for calling in, especially if you have come via Amy at Love Made My Home, and thank you to all of you who left comments on my last post; you made my day.  I didn't mean to be away for a week but it's been a bit busy here.  Today I am again joining in with Five On Friday.

This week's Five are...pasta dishes we have eaten this week.  I know.  A friend of a friend ordered some pasta online and when it arrived she realised that she had ordered far too much - fourteen packets too much!  Yes, seven kilogrammes more than she needed.  So, being a friendly and generous person who has a very small kitchen, she gave these fourteen packets to my friend who, also being a friendly and generous person, gave six of them to me.  Now, I am not in a financial position to refuse good food, even though I also have a small kitchen, so this week we have eaten pasta five times! 

Number One is Delia Smith's recipe for baked macaroni pie, which you can find here although I found it in my battered old copy of her Complete Cookery Course (the most useful 18th birthday present ever, in my opinion).  It's an excellent way of stretching a small amount of leftover Bolognese sauce: I had enough for two people but there were three of us, so I cooked 240g of pasta, made a white sauce using 15fl oz milk (sorry for mixing imperial and metric, but I always make my white sauce using imperial measurements) and flavoured it with nutmeg, then mixed the Bolognese, pasta and white sauce together with 40g strong cheddar, turned it all into a dish and sprinkled some more cheddar on top.  I put it into the oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes while I did the washing up and when it was done, it looked like this.  What's not to like?

Number Two is Sarah Randell's recipe for pasta with sausage, fennel and spinach which you can find here although again, I found it my copy of Martin Dorey's Camper Van Cookbook.  I don't have a camper van but I do have a tent and I LOVE this book, which is as much about a camping lifestyle as it is about recipes.  Again, this is a good way of stretching meat - I use 2 sausages per person and even the Best Beloved doesn't complain.  It's yummy and I think it's probably my favourite of these five.

Number Three doesn't have a name because I sort of made it up.  The Best Beloved usually cooks a chicken at the weekend and I chop up the leftovers and mix them with cooked rice and vegetables for another dinner later in the week - I suppose it's a stir-fried rice.  There is always chicken, onion and rice, smoked bacon lardons if we have any and whatever vegetables we have - red or green pepper, mushrooms, peas, sweetcorn, that sort of thing.   We laughingly call it "Rice and Stuff".  Today's dish is, I suppose, "Pasta and Stuff": onion and lardons sweated off in the pan, then chicken and sweetcorn added to heat through while pasta and broccoli boiled.  When all was cooked, it was mixed together with the crème fraiche left in the tub I bought for yesterday's dinner.  I would really have liked some cherry tomatoes with this, but we didn't have any and the whole point is to use what we already have.  

Number Four is cauliflower and macaroni cheese, heavy on the cauli and light on the pasta.  You can just mix the pasta and cauli with cheese sauce and serve straight away but I put the dish in the oven to brown it because the baking time transforms the flavour of the cauli.  I ate mine with some (dressed) salad leaves which were lurking in the fridge and needed to be used up but the Best Beloved and The Mathematician ate theirs "au naturel".  Yummy and cheap. 

Number Five is one of my staples, pasta with tomato sauce and tuna.  I always have onions, tinned tomatoes and tinned tuna in my cupboard so this is my standby dish.  I put a pan of water on to boil for the pasta and begin the sauce then so I can cook the whole thing in less than 25 minutes.  It's quick, cheap, healthy and very tasty.

So there you are, five pasta dishes.  I think the Best Beloved is looking forward to not eating pasta tonight...but I still have another 3 bags of it in the cupboard!  Hope you have a good weekend - and don't forget to hop over to Amy's blog and have a look at the other Five On Friday posts.

Love, Mrs Tiggywinkle x 

Friday 10 April 2015

Five On Friday

Hello and welcome to my Shropshire patch, especially if you are here for the first time.  Today I am again joining in with Amy at Love Made My Home  with Five On Friday so you might like to pop over there and see who else is joining in this week.

We have had glorious weather here this week, blue skies and warm sun, and it has set me hankering for the seaside.  If you have called in here before you may already know that although I live a long way inland, I love the coast, so while I am here today weeding the garden I shall be thinking about these beaches, any one of which I would visit again in a heartbeat.
1. Kippford
When The Mathematician was 12 years old we rented a house in the southwest of Scotland for a holiday and by the time we left, a week later, we were all a bit smitten with Dumfries and Galloway.  One warm, sunny day we drove the car to the seaside village of Rockcliffe, parked it there and then walked along the Jubilee Path to Kippford.  This is what we saw when we got there -
Would you like a closer look at the beach? -
Yes, the beach was entirely comprised of shells!  I didn't want to walk on it for fear of crushing them, but there was nowhere else to walk.  We were not the only people enjoying the view that day -
 2. Vik
A few years ago I inherited a modest legacy from a dear aunt.  I decided to spend some of it on a special holiday, something we would always remember and say, "God Bless Auntie Peggie," so that her memory wouldn't fade, so we went to...Iceland.  There was method in our madness: as the Best Beloved is a teacher we could only go in August and neither The Mathematician nor I can cope with very hot weather, so our options were more limited than most people's.  It turned out to be a spectacular holiday, and this beach is one of the reasons why.  Vik is the southernmost village in Iceland and its beach has been voted one of the ten most beautiful on earth.  Shall I show you? -

White waves crashing onto black, basalt sand.  As I said, spectacular.  I have a tiny glass jar full of that sand on the dresser in my kitchen. 

3. Aberffraw
I had been feeling very low for several months so during the October half term that year, the Best Beloved and I took advantage of the fact that our children were elsewhere and booked a cottage in north west Wales for a long weekend.  On the Saturday we drove over the Menai Straits to Anglesey, to Aberffraw in the west.  We parked in the village, by the old bridge, and walked along the estuary to the beach.  This is the very special thing about Aberffraw: you can't drive to the beach and you can't see it until you are on it, either walking along the estuary or over the dunes.  This particular day in October was very sunny and windy and when we arrived, it took my breath away.  The sun was sparkling on the water, there were kite-surfers performing great stunts and there was a big, wide, curving, golden, sandy beach held between two green headlands.  It was amazing.  My spirits lifted that day, and Aberffraw has become a place we go to whenever we can.  It is very special and I find it healing and restorative, even in February when it's cloudy and cold.  Oh, and there are great finds there for beachcombers, especially after storms.  (Heart sea urchins, anyone?  Dead porpoise? - I wasn't even tempted to bring that home.)

4. Cayton Bay
Cayton Bay is on the North Yorkshire coast, a few miles south of Scarborough, which is unusual for us because we usually head west rather than east.  It is very popular with surfers,  of which I am not one, but I am a beachcomber and there are fossils here - it's a Jurassic coast, like Dorset.  There is also lovely golden sand.  We spent a lovely, lazy afternoon here a few years ago while camping nearby and confronted my unfounded prejudices about the North Sea - I had no idea it could be so blue.

5. Ogmore-by-Sea
Ogmore is in south Wales and we sometimes go there when we visit my family in Cardiff.  It is a fascinating place for geologists, there are fossils to be seen in the carboniferous limestone rocks (on my mantelpiece I have an ammonite which I found there) and, when the tide is out, a vast expanse of golden sand.  It's also where we first showed The Teacher hermit crabs scuttling across the rocks.  In October 2012 I thought I had found a piece of ambergris there, ambergris being biological matter which comes out of one end or the other of a sperm whale and being very valuable to the perfume industry.  The Best Beloved, never having heard of it, didn't believe me and was most anxious that none of us should touch it because he thought it was a petrochemical product washed up from the oil refinery along the coast at Milford Haven, so we left it on the beach.  Three months later we saw in the news that a man and his dog found a large piece of ambergris on Morcambe Beach which was estimated to be worth £100,000 and seeing it, the Best Beloved realised that I was right (ha!).  It's the one that got away...  

That's The Mathematician, doing her little dance of joy in October 2010.
Just looking at these pictures gives me so much pleasure.  I do hope you like them too.  Thank you, Amy, for giving me this opportunity to share them.
Love, Mrs Tiggywinkle x

Monday 6 April 2015

Easter Blessings

Hello, thank you for popping in.  It's 7pm and the Best Beloved and I have just come indoors from the garden!  It's been a beautiful afternoon, warm and sunny, so we began the post-winter tidy up.  He has given the lawns their first cut and I have done a lot of pruning.  As the sun was going down I couldn't resist capturing these glorious bursts of colour -

(I am sorry the forsythia is a bit blurry - she was dancing in a gentle breeze and this was the best I could do.)
See you soon.
Love, Mrs Tiggywinkle x

Saturday 4 April 2015

A Walk Around Colemere

Hello, thank you for calling in.  We are at the end of the first week of the Easter holidays here and it's been a funny old week.  We have brought The Mathematician home from university and spent 3 days helping The Teacher and Flashman with the garden in their new house and today I was itching to get out somewhere so the Best Beloved, The Mathematician, her friend and I drove here -
It looks like a lake but it's not a lake, it's a mere, because it has no infall or outfall of water: it's a hole created at the end of the Ice Age when a glacier retreated and it's fed by rainwater.  So there.  It looks like this -
We started off on the boardwalk across the meadow -
which was entirely necessary because the ground was this wet -
The water in the mere is beautifully clear -
Then we entered the woodland which surrounds the rest of the mere.  It was absolutely full of lovely birdsong but arborially speaking, there was very little sign that spring has sprung.  There was no green leafage to speak of, but there were catkins among the cones on this alder -
The walk around the mere is flat and easy but at one point you can go up steps at the back of the woods and arrive on the towpath of the Shropshire Union Canal.  Obviously, we couldn't resist that -
I just saw a narrowboat rounding the bend, too late to photograph it.  Grrr!  In the other direction was a bridge, number 54 -
Then it was back down into the woods.  There were lots of wood anemones -
and lesser celandine -
It took us two hours to complete our circuit of the mere.  We saw mallards, a pair of geese and a swan but none of the more "exotic" birds which are apparently seen here, eg. great crested grebes.  However, we all enjoyed ourselves very much and the only money spent was on petrol.  It felt SO GOOD to be in the great outdoors, not too cold, in good company, stretching our legs, enjoying our cameras (three between four of us!) and feeling the fresh air on my face.  I do love living in Shropshire.
On the way home we stopped the car to allow a daft partridge to cross the road.  I have never seen one before.  Well, not a live one, anyway. 
Love, Mrs Tiggywinkle x

Wednesday 1 April 2015

Back to the 1860s

Hello and thank you for calling in.  Thanks, too, to those of you who left comments on my last post - it is so nice to know that I am not the only grown-up in the world who loves shells!  I do have some more, collected on Sanibel Island in Florida in 1999 and still carefully wrapped in newspaper and stored away.  Maybe I should give them an airing?
One of my hobbies is researching my family history and I would like to share some of that with you here occasionally.  There is nobody famous or grand in my family tree, I come from a long line of what my mother calls "good peasant stock", labourers both agricultural and industrial, but to me they are all interesting.  What were their lives like?  Why did they move from country to town?  How much of them can I find in myself?

Alice Stapleton was born in March 1861 at 5 Brady’s Place, Greycoat Street in Westminster, right in the heart of London.  She had an elder sister, Mary Ann, named after their mother, and it seems that her parents, Mary and Benjamin, a stonemason's labourer, had trouble choosing another girl’s name because when the national census was taken eleven days later, the space for her name was left blank and she is simply recorded as a Daughter, aged 2 weeks!  She was eventually registered as Alice on 29th April. 

A younger sister, Caroline, was born four years later and in 1866, when Alice was 5 years old, her father died, leaving 28 year-old Mary Ann to bring up their three daughters alone.  Mary Ann got a job as a “Charwoman”, a cleaner.  Her life must have been hard – but there must also have been some fun because four years later, she gave birth to a baby boy!
On Christmas Eve 1879, Alice married a young waiter named Thomas Edward Green at St Margaret’s Church in Westminster, a church which crops up on both sides of my family tree.  I have an old postcard of the church –

 Can you see Big Ben?  Yep, this church is right next to the Houses of Parliament.  Alice was 18 years old but lied about her age as the marriage certificate states that she was 21 – perhaps she lied to get round the requirement for parental consent, necessary for under-21s at that time?  The 1881 census records that Tom was working as a “Liftman (Domestic)” – presumably that means that he operated a lift?  (The last time I went to Liberty’s in London there was a man whose job was to operate the lift.  It’s a sort of obsolete occupation now, I suppose.)  Soon after that, the couple settled down to the business of having children: Thomas, Albert, Arthur and Caroline in the next ten years, by which time Tom’s widowed mother was also living with them.  This family of seven people lived in 4 rooms in a property in Walthamstow, supported only by Tom’s wage as a labourer.  Life must have been very hard – no housing benefit, tax credits or child benefit then!  Then two more daughters came along, Mary and Jane (known as Cissy), before Tom died in 1896.  So, there was Alice, widowed at the age of 35 with 6 children to feed.  Life had got considerably harder.

So what did a woman do in the days before the welfare state if she was widowed and had dependent children?  She found another husband, that’s what she did!  Three years later she married 46-year-old James Huckle and you know what comes after a marriage...a baby.  Jim was named for his father.  A year later, Alice reached her 40th birthday.  And sadly, a year after that, Alice was widowed for the second time.  But she wasn’t done yet: a year later, at the age of 42, Alice had another baby, Evelyn.  Goodness knows who her father was. 

The 1911 census records Alice living with 6 of her children in 6 rooms in a property in Hackney in East London.  Arthur was working as a bricklayer and Carrie, Mary and Cissy were working in a laundry so there were 4 wages coming in.

Alice didn’t marry again.  In the days when a woman supposedly needed a man to “look after” her she had been left by her father and two husbands.  She must have been tough.  A woman born in 1861 had a life expectancy of about 40 years but Alice died in November 1941 at the age of 80.  See what I mean?  Tough.  She was buried in Abney Park Cemetery in Stoke Newington, where her daughter Caroline had been buried two years earlier. 
This photo was taken in about 1930.  There’s Alice on the left, the woman in the middle is her daughter Caroline, next to her is Evelyn and finally, on the right, is Caroline’s daughter Julie, my Nanny.  What fabulous hats!

So there you are.  An ordinary life, nothing spectacular, the kind of life that millions of women born in the Victorian era must have had.  Her father died when she was 5 years old, she was widowed twice before she was forty, she was poor and she brought up eight children in circumstances we can’t really imagine, but that’s what life was like.  She lived through the reigns of five British kings and queens, the discovery of the South Pole, the first aeroplane flight, the sinking of RMS Titanic, the First World War,  the first two years of the Second World War and incredible social and industrial change. 

She was my great, great grandmother.  I carry her genes.
Love, Mrs Tiggywinkle x