Monthly Archives: October 2015

Multiracial Family. Childhood Memories (continued) – artefacts varied. .

The thing that spurred me on to ask our children for memories of their childhood, was something our third granddaughter said. She and her brother had been living abroad for over two years. When they were last in our house, she was four years old. When the children next visited us, she ran round the house saying “I remember that… I missed it. Oh. And I remember that… I missed it.”

She even “missed” the stool I used to have for her to reach the sink in the bathroom. Children can melt your heart sometimes!

It was she who plays with one item I remember from my childhood. It is a beautifully knitted woollen dress. It was probably made nearly 70 years ago.

 Doll's dress

Our other grandchildren have not been interested in dolls, but this little one loves playing with them at our house. She loves dressing up – herself – and dressing all the dolls. She always puts this particular dress on any doll that it can fit. In the picture below, the doll is a bit small for the dress, but I think the photo shows the dress off to advantage. The colour has not faded. It almost looks as good as new!

In my own childhood I did not have a Chinese doll. We bought this one in Malaysia for Lucy and Anna.

Interestingly enough I did have a black doll. Here is the proof.

O and doll

Something I remember from my own childhood is an artefact from Poland. My father visited there before World War 2. He brought back an oval piece of wood. It was stained very dark brown and the outline of a cathedral had been etched, thus shown in a light colour. Underneath were the words Krakow. As Poland was behind the Iron Curtain during my childhood, the name Krakow seemed very exotic to me. I no longer have the artefact, so cannot show the actual artwork.

Krakow - Cathedral 2

Krakow Cathedral







Anna mentioned as a memory one item that I would quote – not of my own childhood, but something that has been with me all through our children’s childhood and is with me every day today. The artist was called Mabel, Lucy Atwell. It is something that must have ‘saved’ the planet of many many pieces of paper. It is a shopping list that one can wipe clean every time the article has been bought.

Recycled shopping list

Instead of paper lists, I use it about twice a week, rub out what has been bought and start again. It has been in use for about 53 years so far. . . . It was this shopping list that started me off on the Memory project.

When something or someone strikes a chord with you and you can feel “proud” + Black History Month.

In today’s blog post I have jumped forward to thinking about today – 2015. I have been reflecting on the various interesting events during Black History Month and wondered what to write.

I know that some people think Black History Month is a bit artificial and it would be better if we could celebrate achievements of black people all the year round. However, I think many of the events planned will be informative, inspirational and enjoyable for all. A specific month ensures that talented black people can be celebrated at least once a year – clearly not enough but better than not at all.

When we were bringing up our boys we tried to expose them to all kinds of literature and artistic events. When they were very young we were delighted to find “Mother Goose Comes to Cable Street”. It was a book of Nursery Rhymes chosen by Rosemary Stones and Andrew Mann and illustrated by Dan Jones. It featured children with a variety of skin tones – something quite rare in those days.

Mother Goose Cable St.



Tommy T
















We also read to our boys poems by John Agard and James Berry.   We felt that they would be interested in the fact that they are black poets. I think they were, although as black British boys they were not familiar with patois, or settings that were 100% Caribbean.

I was certainly impressed when Sam’s school invited Benjamin Zephaniah to talk to the students. He was already a big star and a great success with the teenagers and staff.

Wicked World

Jah’s favourite book for many years was about Black Footballers. Fair enough! Football is one of his great interests.

Black Footballers

I was interested today when the grown-up Jah sounded so pleased that the Jamaican writer Marlon James has won the Man Booker Prize. Something evidently struck a chord with him.

Marlon James     (from Wikipedia)      Novelist

Marlon James is a Jamaican novelist. He has published three novels: The Book of Night Women, John Crow’s Devil and A Brief History of Seven Killings, winner of the 2015 Man Booker Prize.

 Jamaican author Marlon James has won the Man Booker Prize for his novel inspired by the attempted assassination of Bob Marley in the 1970s.

Michael Wood, chair of the judges, described A Brief History of Seven Killings as the “most exciting” book on the shortlist.

The 680-page epic was “full of surprises” as well as being “very violent” and “full of swearing”.

James was announced as the winner of the £50,000 prize in London on Tuesday.

He is the first Jamaican author to win the Man Booker Prize. Receiving the award, he said a huge part of the novel had been inspired by reggae music.

Even if they don’t read the book “A Brief History of Seven Killings” by Marlon James, I imagine that many people will feel “proud” that a Jamaican writer has won such a prestigious prize.


Camping abroad. Meeting people from different countries.

Camping was the only way we could afford to take our children abroad. But camping can be wonderful! You wake up and walk straight onto grass. You might hear birds sing in the early morning and you feel that you are right in the middle of the beauty of nature.

Our first tent

We have relatives in the south of Brittanny and we camped near them.

lookout            on beach

On one occasion they joined us and I remember the amazing clarity of the stars on one particular night – a sight that I shall never forget.

In France children often take their bikes onto campsites. We did not have room to carry bikes, but usually within a matter of a few moments, we would look up and see little Sam cycling round on someone’s bike and he would be in the midst of much jollity and the centre of attention. The response was much less friendly on a Cornish campsite but maybe we were just unlucky on that one occasion.

In France we visited the castles of the Loire,

Rog at Sully  Silhouette of Sam looking out from a window in a castle at Sully overlooking the river Loire.






We went down caves, went to the South and bathed in the warm waters of the Mediterranean. When Jah joined us he took part in running races around the campsites. He was a good runner and enjoyed winning!

He also enjoyed fishing and Sam joined in.

boys 2

I remember that once we visited friends in Finland and he was able to fish really late into the night, as it was still light.

Jah ready for fishing

In Northern Italy we visited an ecumenical centre high in the Alps. We also camped on the shore of Lake Garda. That was a much more international site and Sam took part in a winning basketball team – a moment of great triumph!

Once, when the boys were a bit older, on our way back home we camped in Northern France and met many young Muslims. They lived in a crowded Paris suburb and had been brought to the countryside by youth leaders. Interestingly they felt drawn to our boys and even though there was a language problem, they spent a long time together.

I am pleased that on our holidays we met people from many different countries and cultures.