Sitting here reminiscing makes me feel quite ancient actually! My daughter was asking me about my grandparents for a project at college. Suddenly all those lovely memories came flooding back and I remember asking my mum exactly the same question when I was young. My grandmother on my mother's side came from Ireland, my grandfather from a place near Liverpool -- they met at the docks. My grandmother was on her way back to Ireland -- funny, I can't remember her having an Irish accent. She was a tiny framed woman with a huge smile whilst my grandfather was tall and very imposing.
He was a farmer and had a small holding quite close to where we now live. He kept pigs, grew stuff and had hundreds of chickens. He bought this place in 1919 after he left the army as a cook in the 1st World War. In fact that was when he met my grandma, on the docks coming home from France. My grandma hated farm life. There was no electricity or proper sanitation here in those days and when the animals went to slaughter, she cried for weeks.
I remember as a child, visiting my grandparents. The smell of burning wood, new mown hay and manure still sticks in my mind. My granddad used to take me in his greenhouses. They were warm and full of greenery. And when the cows came down for their feed I was off like a shot. Those big thunderous animals with tails swishing and slimy noses, headed straight for the farmyard whilst I was somewhere up field. I remember being chased by a cockerel and then falling in a patch of stinging nettles wearing hot pants and a strappy T Shirt. Well it was the 60's!
My grandparents on my fathe'rs side, lived in a Lancashire Mill town. My grandmother's mother originally from Durham and granddad's parents -- somewhere in Scotland/ I could never remember him having a Scottish accent either! They were both born in the town where they spent their entire lives. My great grandma was head cook in a large house -- in service as it was called. My great granddad was a manual worker in a rubber production factory. My gran was a large lady, white hair, red face and lovely smile. My granddad was small, thin, black hair, quite Italian looking and walked with a stick -- no he wasn't Charlie Chaplin, but I could see the resemblance! Both were retired!
My grandparents looked after me during the week when my parents worked long hours in the cotton mills. I went to school from their little terraced house in the centre of town. There were rows of shops across the street and you hardly ever saw a car. My grandma cooked real dinners, made bread and cakes and the smell was just awesome. I remember a coal store in the middle of the house -- coal hole they called it. The coal man used to deliver each week. He used to scare me with his blackened face with only the whites of his eyes visible. If I was naughty my gran used to say, "If you don't behave --- the coal man will come and get you!" I was absolutely terrified but it worked and I was as good as gold.
I had the most wonderful childhood! Never short of anything. Okay there wasn't much in those days, but I reckon we did just fine. The farm stands in a sad state. One day I hope it will return to its former glory. It's a long time coming but we'll get there eventually -- Fingers crossed!