Thursday, 2 November 2017


Good Afternoon to you,

I am so sorry that I did not write to you last week, but I really did not have the time to let you know, that I travelled south to visit my mother, Phyllis.

Phyllis is well, if a little shaken, as sadly a member of our family suffered a severe heart attack at the age of 59 years.  As you can imagine, on receiving the phone call, we were shocked and our immediate thought was to be with Phyllis. George, in his military fashion, decided the best approach would be to organise ourselves and decide what we needed to take. So we sprang into action and started making lists for what we needed to take to Phyllis to make the visit easier for her.

I did not want Phyllis fretting about cooking and buying extra food, so before I left, I did some grocery shopping. I also cooked some meals to take with me, because at times like these, cooking and shopping is the last thing we want to think about. So I loaded my rice cooker, slow cooker, my cooked meals and 3 bags of food, into the car and at 5.00 am, we left Newcastle to travel to the south of England.

We made good time, but if you have ever travelled the M1 and M25, then you know how horrendous it can be.  Traffic can be bumper to bumper, especially during rush hour and there can be many holdups along the motorways.  But because we had left Newcastle so early, apart from a couple of small holdups on the M25, we sailed through to the south of England.

Once there, as you can imagine there was a lot of running around to do.  We visited our family member and I was so relieved to discover, the operation he underwent, had been a success and for that I say a huge thank you to our National Health Service.  

There was a lot of driving around to do, but during quieter moments, Phyllis talked to me about her sister, my Aunt Molly, who had recently passed away  at the grand old age of 101 years.

Phyllis said, for her, the loss was immense as Aunt Molly had played such an important role in her life. Aunt Molly was born on 6th January 1916 and was the eldest of all the daughters, with Phyllis being the youngest daughter.

Phyllis then opened an envelope and showed me a birthday card which Aunt Molly had received from our Queen, Elizabeth II. The card read,

You will notice in the bottom left hand corner the name Mrs Frances Farmer.  Francis was Aunt Molly's first name, but Phyllis had only known her sister as Molly.  I really did not know that Aunt Molly's real name was Francis, until quite recently, when my cousin Sue told me and she didn't have a clue as to the origin of Molly. It was one of those questions I kept meaning to ask, but never got around to.

Molly is usually a nick name for Margaret or Mary, but Aunt Molly was neither a Margaret or a Mary.  It is curious that we don't know why she was called Molly, if only we had asked.

Like me, one of Aunt Molly's passions was gardening and I like to think this is where my love of gardening came from.  Aunt Molly's garden was huge, with the top half being planted with flowers, as you can see from this photograph, taken during Spring time. The garden was a riot of Daffodils, Stocks and Grape Hyacinths, with a beautiful flowering Cherry tree in the centre of the oval flower bed.

This was just the centre of the garden, as the boarders,

were filled to bursting point.  Aunt Molly tended the flower garden whilst Uncle Reg looked after the huge vegetable plot and neither interfered with the other, although I do remember Uncle Reg telling me that Aunt Molly would try to give him advice, but he was such a seasoned gardener, he really did not need any advice..... but that did not stop Aunt Molly from trying.

Talking of vegetables, I remember Phyllis and I went to a family wedding and we visited Aunt Molly, who  at the time, owned and ran a fruit and vegetable shop. She loved working in the shop as she enjoyed meeting and talking to people. She would greet everyone with 'How are you today Me Duck'. 'Me Duck' is a term of affection in Worcester, as 'Pet or Hinny' is here in Newcastle.

Now when you own a shop, you expect to turn a profit, but the problem was, Aunt Molly was not making any money and the family could not understand why. There didn't appear to be any reason, as the shop was in a good location with lots of passing shoppers. Later the family discovered that  when the older generation came to buy their fruit and vegetables, Aunt Molly would not charge them.  She felt, at the time, that the vast majority of senior citizens, were living on small pensions and could do with a little extra help, which of course, she provided.  Consequently, after a few years, Aunt Molly had to close the shop, because it was running at a loss. Even so, she continued to refuse to charge the senior citizens and gave them free produce up until the shop closed.... what a kind heart she had.

Then from another envelope, Phyllis showed me a sheet a paper showing me the cost of living in 1916.

I was fascinated to discover.

A loaf of bread cost  cost 3 1/2d

Remember, this was when there were 12d to the shilling.

By comparison a pound of butter cost 2s 8d which was a lot of money when you consider the working wage was £2 6d a week. No wonder when my Nan Ivy was a child, she could have a slice of bread, with either butter or jam spread on the bread, but certainly not both.

A 3 bedroom house cost £330, which seems cheap by today's standards, but when an average wage was £2 6d a week, £330 must have seemed like a vast amount of money.

The price of a newspaper was 1 1/2d

Whilst a new car would cost £200

The reigning Monarch was King George V

and the

President of the United States was Woodrow Wilson

Our Prime Minister was David Lloyd George

and the most popular song was,

Ireland Must be Heaven, For my Mother Came From There 
by Charles Harrison.

I was so pleased to discover this song on YouTube.... it is a little crackly, but then it is over 100 years old.

I was thinking also about the vast changes which occurred during Aunt Molly's life.  I really think it is time I started to record the changes which have occurred since I have been alive. I think I will be surprised when I make my list.

For instance, I never imagined I would be able to speak to my daughters via Skype.  I remember seeing a similar thing happening in a 1990s film,  thinking, it would be amazing to be able to speak to each other, face to face, rather than via the telephone.

.... and here we are doing it.... who would have thought it.

So after a few more visits to our family member, it was time to say goodbye and return home to Newcastle.

We left Phyllis stocked with food, so that she did not need to worry about shopping for a while. I popped food I had made into her freezer, again to make things a little easier for her.

I am pleased to say, although she seemed very tired when we arrived, by the time we were due to leave, her spirits had lifted.  This was mainly due to our family member recovering from his operation.... but also, because Danielle drove over to visit us.... and she is just like George, she always makes Phyllis laugh.

.... and as we all know, laughter is the best medicine.

Take care and I will catch up with you next Thursday.

As Always,

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