Thursday, 14 February 2013

Ta-dah! Tuesday - A Love Story

Hi - I know it's not Tuesday, but you also know I'm not entirely brilliant when it comes to a posting schedule.  I was writing a book review, and then went out to see the fantastic Mr Bill Bailey doing a pre-tour warm up gig. But better late than never. 

I'm aware that Valentine's day has basically become an excuse for the supermarkets to sell us horsemeat lasagne and a bottle of plonk for two, but suck it up - you're getting a romance related post anyway. These are my late Grandparents, Grandad Phil and Granny Babs - Phil being the son of GGG, who you may remember featured in posts here and here - pictured below on their wedding day in 1949.

Babs was 19, Phil 26 I think. 
[Cary Grant reportedly wildly jealous of Phil's insane quiff]

I was born and grew up in South Wales, and remember clearly the 7 hours or so it used to take to get to their small house in Kent. Long car journeys punctuated by bouts of car-sickness, ensuring my sister's stuff didn't encroach onto my side of the backseat, and being informed we were breathing too much and steaming up the car by my dad. Every 90 miles or so my Mum would dole out a single Murray Mint to each of us, and if we were exceedingly lucky, there might be a stop for an all-day breakfast - and free lolly -  at the Little Chef. [Does anyone else remember the placemats featuring antique photos of locations where now stood a Little Chef? I always wanted the Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch one*]. Finally we would pull up, to be greeted in a haze of Chanel no 5 and demands that Phil put the kettle on; my Gran's suddenly blonde hair less of a shock than realising that I was bigger and stronger than her at the age of ten.

From as far back as I can remember, Granny Babs had 'bad hands'. The slow degenerative disorder from which she suffered didn't affect her as a young woman - she was healthy when she married and had her children - but she was a young Grandmother, only in her mid-forties when I was born. Her fingers were bent and locked towards her palm, and she had little dexterity, which gradually lessened even more over the years, along with her balance and stamina. She needed help getting up from her chair, her food cutting, bathing - and of course she hated it.  Despite hardly being able to pick up a pen it was only at the very last that she finally delegated the writing of birthday cards to my taciturn Grandad, doubtless dictating exactly what he should say, and supervising the licking of the envelope, in case he didn't do it properly. There was some occasional eye rolling from Phil, but only when she wouldn't spot it. He was her tireless carer - and the living embodiment of a stoic, stiff-upper-lip ex-airforce Englishman -  but oh, how he adored her as a husband too.

When he retired he took up woodworking - or was banished to the garage, possibly - and their house was filled with tokens he'd made for her. I remember a couple of carved plaques - one of their garden, with the birds it was her pleasure to watch from the window, one of a galleon in full sail, titled 'The Lady Babs' - an owl, her favourite bird, and a traditional Welsh love spoon, with their initials and a heart. He also found ingenious ways to make things easier for her - such as building wooden holders for her perfume, with a lever she could bang with a wrist, as her fingers would not allow her to pick up the bottles or depress the tops in the usual way. They were married nearly 60 years, and everything that made my Grandad who he was went out of him when she died. He was always short on words, but remembering his simple 'Goodbye Babs' at her funeral still makes me cry, and he was buried with her last year.

But I wanted to show you something else. My sister and I have joint custody of Babs' charm bracelet, and whilst it's not some valuable 'named' jewellery piece - it would make more from the scrap price of 9k gold than anything else - we love it for the story it tells of their earlier married life [She stopped wearing it as her hands got worse, the clasp is fiddly for me so I doubt Grandad would have attempted it too often]. He bought her charms for birthdays and anniversaries, and to celebrate significant events in their lives.



 The '1' is an old pound note, folded up small, so she'd always have cash for an emergency.


The '21' charm was bought to celebrate their 21st wedding anniversary, he wouldn't have had the money to buy it for Babs' 21st birthday, but he didn't see why she should miss out. They didn't have as many children as the old woman who lived in the shoe - just my mum and aunt - but I love the way the charm opens up to show the figures inside. The telephone is because when they first met Babs was working at the exchange as an operator. [She always had a very correct telephone voice, giving their town and full number. My auntie still does. The rest of us are commoners and just say 'hello?']



The donkey and cart was purchased after a trip to Spain, and the heart with a keyhole is the clasp. The bracelet itself is tiny, and just about fits around my wrist.


The stork with baby swinging from its beak probably dates from when I was born, rather than my Mum, so would have been to celebrate their first Grandchild. The tiny ringing bells may have been a Christmas gift, or perhaps related to a wedding. The cuckoo clock also has moving parts, touch the pendulum and the bird pops out. The sails on the windmill go round, and there is a spinning disc, which when flicked with a nail will spell out 'I love you'. 


The cheque book charm contains tiny pieces of paper...


...which he had painstakingly drawn on and turned into cheques in her name. You can't tell quite how tiny the writing is from the photograph, but the letters saying 'B J Kinnersley' are only a millimetre high.  He's filled in all five, not just the one at the front, and must have used the tiniest of fine nibbed pens.

I am wearing it today, and smiling. I hope you have a happy Valentine's Day.

Lakota x

Please link up your posts below.


*This is a real place and has the longest place name in Britain. It means 'St Mary's church in the hollow of the white hazel near to the rapid whirlpool and the church of St Tysilio of the red cave'.

57 comments:

  1. I had quite forgotten the Little Chef placemats! I owner if someone is selling them on eBay??!!

    The charm bracelet is a real treasure.

    What a lovely romantic Valentine post- full of love and affection - thank you xx

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  2. Blimey don't you look like your Gran!

    Lovely post - truly poignant - and what a great bracelet. Such a cool memento of two obviously special peeps.

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  3. this reminds me of my charm braclet (i have the old woman in the shoe) and my mums. my daughter also has one (a christening gift) but i haven't managed to find a dinosaur charm for her yet! enjoy it, they have fantastic memories. x

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  4. What a lovely post, I have tears in my eyes. Beautifully written, funny as well as sweet and sad. And now I want a charm bracelet of my own. xx

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  5. What a sweet sweet story--thank you so much for sharing it with us!!

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  6. You look so much like your Grandma, she was gorgeous, too.
    What a lovely tale of love, I might not be a romantic but the thought of your Grandad losing his beloved and speaking at her funeral brought a tear to my eye, too.
    I love that charm bracelet, what a beautiful thing to own. I always wanted one when I was a little girl. xxx

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  7. this is a truly touching story
    That charm bracelet is a beauty
    I remember when my Dad lost his wife and spoke of her at her funeral, i cried for 2 days i think...

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  8. Such a lovely post! I have a very similar (silver) charm bracelet of my Mam's - her parents bought her the bracelet for her 21st and everyone else bought a charm to go on it, it's chockablock full of them, they used to fascinate me as a child. I think my fave was the woman who lived in a shoe - same as yours :) xx

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  9. What a lovely post! I'm getting a little weepy as I read it, it's so sweet. Happy Valentine's Day to you!

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  10. Adore the charm bracelet and all the little stories behind the charms! Fantastic!
    Liz @ Shortbread & Ginger

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  11. Despite the fact that you have reduced me to tears, I loved every word of that post. What an amazing love story. Your grandparents sound and look wonderful.

    As for the telephone etiquette, that is my ex-mother-in-law to a T, and now I must remember to ring her. I love those old school manners. And how the voice changes once they recognise their caller.

    The charm bracelet is so full of thought and meaning, which makes it priceless. The little cheque book, oh! xx

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  12. Its so lovely that you have a piece of family history to wear and love. I wish I had my mama's (grandmother) but my mother the stingy one has it. It's so beautiful and a lovely reminder of the past. XXX

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  13. What a wonderful story. They sound like very special people and it's so nice that you have the bracelet to remember her with. x

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  14. What a lovely romantic story. There were tears in my eyes when I was reading it. Thanks for sharing it with us all.

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  15. what a touching love story. The charm bracelet is so beautiful.

    Happy Valentine's Day!

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  16. What a touching Valentine's story. Thank you for sharing it. That is The most beautiful charm bracelet I have ever seen. And it speaks volumes of the love that your Grandad had for your Granny. It's a treasure. I would love if you could show us some of your Grandad's wood carvings one day. They sound exquisite.

    Thanks for hosting Ta Da Tuesday. I've got two to share today!

    Happy Valentine's Day.

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  17. Oh - do I remember those days in a car! We only ever had to go about two hours but it would be punctuated by extra strong mints, dad letting big brother out to walk alongside the car when he started turning green, and large ice cream tubs and kitchen towel to mop up the inevitable sick! Lovely story about the bracelet - I wrote a similar one about some beads recently that you might want to take a peek at x Jane

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  18. Such a lovely treasure and a great post/story. I love how personal the bracelet is and that you know the story behind most of the charms.

    x

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  19. This was a lovely post to read. Such lovely memories of your grandparents. The bracelet is beautiful, a real treasure and a keepsake. I love how each charm represents a memory.

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  20. That's such a lovely story. My mum has a similar silver charm bracelet from the 70s, she has some of the same charms as you!

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  21. such a beautiful, touching love story, told with so much affection. I can just imagine how special the charm bracelet must be to you and your sister. All the charms are lovely, but got a bit of a lump in my throat when I saw the tiny careful writing in the little cheque book x

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  22. Great story Lakota, thanks for sharing it with us. Such a beautiful charm bracelet too. I love charm bracelets. I have my very own which my mum bought me and I have hers too. xx

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  23. What a beautiful love story.
    Love from Mum
    xx

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  24. Oh my wow, you have me crying! That bracelet and the significance of every little charm is just so amazing. And what a couple - we could all hope and pray to find a love like that.

    I love this: "Finally we would pull up, to be greeted in a haze of Chanel no 5 and demands that Phil put the kettle on; my Gran's suddenly blonde hair less of a shock than realising that I was bigger and stronger than her at the age of ten."

    Happy Valentine's Day, hon!

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  25. I love, love your granparents love, and the gorgeous charm bracelet.
    Happy to have you on board, so happy valentine´s day.
    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

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  26. I love charm braclets. I inherited 2 in the last 5 years from 2 aunts that past away. they always bring me luck. lucyx

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  27. What a beautiful read, so touching and haunting...the charm bracelet

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    1. Is a treasure. Happy Valentine's!
      Love xxxxxxx

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  28. Oh the memories! My Grandma had many of the same charms. I fondly remember a church, with the roof lifting to reveal a bride & groom and wedding guests, all so tiny and perfect.

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  29. Seriously I really adore the bracelet and the story.
    That bracelet is full of so many cute charms I would want it on my wrist too.
    =D
    Happy Valentines day!

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  30. A wonderful story for Valentine's Day! They look so perfect for each other, and no doubt their love just grew and grew. We celebrate 10 years married this year, and just might make it to 60 if we live to be 98!

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    1. We're ten years this year too, hoping to celebrate our diamond anniversary when we're 86!

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  31. What a sweet love story and that bracelet is just incredible. I hate that things never really get passed down in my family as often as they get tossed or donated. Hold onto it forever!

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  32. What a lovely story! And the charm bracelet is such a treasure, so full of meaning. You do look just like your gran-happy valentines x

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  33. What a beautiful story! Your grandparents sound wonderful :) And what a fantastic way to remember the milestones of their lives! xxx

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  34. thank you for sharing your loving grandparents with us.

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  35. What a beautiful story, and what a fantastic legacy and idea they had with the charm bracelet. We have never done valentines day but I do love hearing others romantic stories xx

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  36. Oh how lovely! I adored reading this. This is true love and not soppy but heartfelt and honest! What a gorgeous charm bracelet! Thank you for sharing! x

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  37. What a devoted and kind husband Babs had in your grandad. And don't you look like Babs!
    The charm bracelet is a wonderful heirloom, and clearly represents so much about your grandparents's relationship and their life together. I'm sure you treasure it. The tiny cheques made me smile! xxxx

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  38. How wonderful to have something like that in the family, to tie everyone's stories to. Perfect.

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  39. aw lovely!! so cute. my mum recently gave me her charm bracelet....
    your trips to your grandparents reminded me of our our ones to my grandparents when me and my sister were little - west wales to sussex -which also took around 7 hours...

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  40. This is the most beautiful St Val's post I have read. It has bought a tear to my eye x

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  41. I love the story of your grandparents and the charm bracelet. It brought tears to my eyes!

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  42. This is beautiful, what a lovely story. You're so lucky to have such a lovely memory of them

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  43. Such a lovely story, I love how each charm means something so special

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  44. A beautifully written tribute to your grandparents. I've missed your more nostalgic posts I must admit. Why don't you link up to Sepia Saturday? We haven't seen you on there for ages and I know the Sepians would really enjoy this post.

    Do I also detect a family resemblance between you and Babs? She was certainly also a very pretty lady.

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  45. Hey dear I really like your blog! What about following each other? Also on bloglovin, facebook and even lookbook if you want...just let me know :3 <3


    NEW POST UP!


    www.OntoMyWardrobe.com

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  46. Hellooooo. I like your blog. Nice shoes. Lets follow each other?

    This is such a sweet story, thanks so much for sharing it. I can really relate to your childhood long distance journey experiences. It's lovely to have that charm bracelet which has so many memories.

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  47. Ooooh I like your blog too. Can I have a bit? Only if it's orange flavoured though. You can follow me if you like. I'm mint flavour.

    Just lovely. I love seeing wedding photos from that era. That's how to do it...pure class. They look so happy and I'm actually jealous of that mighty quiff meseslf.
    Beautiful heirloom too.
    I do remember the Little Chef placemats...I used to love their pancakes! We used to have to recite Llanfair.....at primary school to 'help our memory'. I can still do it but forget why I walked into a room.
    xx

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  48. A lovely story, and beautifully told. How poignant these things become as we grow older ourselves...

    The mention of good telephone manners reminds me how we were taught to answer the phone well, as my dad was GP - I still remember our phone number today: Aintree 8543, can I help you?

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  49. I really enjoyed reading this Lakota, your grandad really seems to have adored your gran, it always makes me sad seeing couples who've grown old together then one of them is left on their own, the one left behind always seems so lost without their other half. I remember sitting looking at lots of those charms in my mum's catalogue when I was little and wishing I had them to play with. It's lovely to read the story of your gran's charm bracelet. xx

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  50. Well after reading that beautiful story, I've got nothing. Just tears. Thank you for taking the time to retell your grandparent's story and each photo of that beautiful bracelet:). xoxoox

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  51. My mum has a very similar charm bracelet that "started off" in the early 70's and got added to very carefully and selectively throughout my childhood. I am in no hurry for her to pass it on to me, but I know it will be a treasured family heirloom one day xxx

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  52. That is so bloody beautiful. Your telling of their story is lovely, the bracelet is gorgeous and almost magical, and their love for each other is so clear. Such a treasure. X

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  53. Oh I LOVE this post so much. SHUT UP - I AM NOT A SENTIMENTAL FOOL. Babs and Phil were so beautiful. I love the charm bracelet (I have my Mama's and it has a very similar birdcage) and I do love a good true love story. but don't tell anyone. I have a reputation to maintain.

    Sarah xxx

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  54. Oooh I have the old woman who lived I a shoe charm however I can't even remember where my charm bracelet is oops!

    Lovely story and I adore the charms, especially the cheque book, that much detail shows devotion :)

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  55. Gorgeous story Lakota. My eldest daughter would love that charm bracelet. Have just bought her a tacky* (way over-priced!) Tiffany's one for her birthday.

    *of course she doesn't think it's tacky, and it was her birthday, not mine!

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