Thursday, October 20, 2011

Memories - more about Granny....

That unforgettable flight my grandmother made with my mother, was Granny's first international flight. I seem to remember her flying to Johannesburg with my great aunt before then. But my grandparents loved travelling. They made the sea trip to the UK and Europe every two years until Grandpa died in 1967. Grandpa bought his cars here and shipped them back home. Those were the days of the mail boats - the weekly arrival and departure of the old liners from Table Bay is something I remember so well from my childhood. Holding on to the end of paper streamers until they either snapped as the ship moved from the quayside, or until we let them go.

In 1966, when my parents brought us to Europe for the Grand Tour, we were the ones standing at the railing, holding on to those streamers, and the very last trip I made on one of those ships - the RMS Windsor Castle, was when Geoff and I went back to SA to live when I was expecting Andrew. Just as well it was a great huge liner. I had luggage.

My grandmother's family came from Norfolk - her father was a miller and I have seen the homes she lived in - the Mill House too. Granny had the opportunity to buy her family home a couple of years before I met Geoff, but could think of no reason why she should. When I tell you that the asking price at the time for ACRES of land, the Mill House with all its multitude of rooms, outbuildings, the mill and all was £48,000 you will know why this family still feels a little ill at the thought that it could still have been in the family.

But obviously there were other plans afoot in the heavenly realms.

So when my grandmother was in the UK, she had family to visit. Cousins. They were the ones we were off to visit when we ended up going in the opposite direction and wound up at Windsor. We did get there eventually, and all cousins were delighted to see us. . You have to understand that my Grandmother was used to getting her own way. She was the light of Grandpa's life, and he adored her. When she was 89, she was still Skip of her Bowls Club. She had always played competitive bowls. She also had weekly bridge parties with her friends. It always completely fascinated me that she and my Dad's mother addressed each other as Mrs G*** and Mrs W***. Never ever by christian name. Even though they shared grandchildren.

Things were different back then.

Granny loved shops. Mum and I preferred sightseeing. For example, Granny absolutely would not go up on to Dartmoor with us. The moors were not her sort of place. There were sheep and ponies and lots of greenery on the moors. Granny was a city gal.  I gave her strict instructions re keeping her bag close at her side, and did she listen??? Of course not. Off she went swinging it gaily. The bag containing her passport, traveller's cheques and all vital papers.  And her string shopping bag too. I had visions of muggers. Mind you, she would probably have felled them in a single stroke. Outspoken. Hmmm. She is sounding suspiciously like her granddaughter all of a sudden.

Mum and I had planned on staying at bed and breakfast places - touring on a budget. Granny was born to grace large hotels. Actually, so were we, only the budget was a little restrictive. So, I told suggested that Granny pay the difference. And while Mum and I were planning takeaways, Granny needed restaurants. Groan. So, under the guise of  "sharing" costs, we took turns filling the car with petrol. Mum and I "filled" it up every day (when it was 3/4 full) and Granny filled it up in turn - when it was SO empty I was running the risk of having to push it into the petrol station. It sounds evil, but at least we managed to survive! And to keep moving. I did not want to bankrupt my new husband weeks after the wedding!

And Granny was still sitting in the back of the 2 door car (plenty of room for you, Granny!) and couldn't see the petrol gauge. She had not driven ever since her car ran away down the hill when she got out to shut the gate when my mother was little, and after she went head over heels in the road while chasing it. She refused to drive after that one. And I don't think she would have known a petrol gauge if she came face to face with one. The stock market - that was different. She definitely knew the stock market. And a great deal more. She was a teacher before she married.

We used to go to her house for Sunday lunch, and there was always a leg of mutton roasted. I loved helping her put some of the left over meat through the old mincer attached to the side of her kitchen table - and then pushing the bread through to clean it out. Do you remember that? Mum says Granny's menu planning was set in stone. Roast mutton on Sunday, cold on Monday, cottage pie on Tuesday, meat rissoles on Wednesday, and then, hallelujah, the 5lb roast was finished, so on Thursday it was probably liver and onions, Friday was fish, and Saturday was chicken. There was the occasional pot roast or meat loaf, depending on how many people had the Sunday lunch, which dictated the amount of left overs.

And my uncle LOVED cold cherry jelly with hot custard. I remember that so well. Delicious.

So how did I start on the food thing again? Not what I intended. But now I need to go and cook. I will be back tomorrow.....


MotherT said...

I'm loving your memories of your Granny. My Granny was quite outspoken, also, and she definitely was the ruler of the family. However, she was the ultimate in country girl and she didn't tolerate her city-girl granddaughters well. Life was quite interesting.

Vee said...

Your grandmother sounds like a real pip. Ha! I'm sure that your grandfather adored her for a reason. Otherwise, you've painted an interesting picture!

Needled Mom said...

These memories are such a delight to read. She sounds like a real character.

I love the petrol story!!!

Hey...I still love to use my meat grinder. It is beyond an antique at this point, but works great with so many things. I just attach mine to the kitchen table.

Olson Family said...

I love these stories - and laughed out loud about Granny turning off the stairway lights at Windsor Castle.

Love trips (some) down memory lane.

MelD said...

Enjoying your stories very much! My granny is wonderful and still going strong at 95, a strong character in a different sort of way ;)
Shame about the Mill House - but that was a lot of money. When we left England in 1973 my parents felt really rich because our house sold for over £5000... and Granny still lives in her house that cost them around £800 in 1937!
The other thing that made me smile were Mrs G and Mrs W... my parents and in-laws are also still on formal terms - we've been together 27 years :o But my in-laws like to be formal altogether so it will never change (all four of the people involved are only 65-70!) and Mr & Mrs S. and Mr & Mrs D it remains!