Monday, 28 February 2011

Memories of a special grandmother

I have been interested in history from a young age, but it was the death of my grandmother (gran to me) that sparked my interest in my own family history. She used to tell me bits about her past and how she met my grandfather, often saying it would be nice to know more about our ancestors and if the same characteristics and interests carried on from one generation to the next. I was very close to my gran and still miss her a lot, and it was during one of these times of remembering the special times we had together that I decided to start doing my family tree....I didn't realise at the time how addicting it would become...It is now 11 years later, 2,800 ancestors later and being referred to by my children as " the one who collects dead people" thought I would share a bit about the special lady who was the inspiration behind doing grandmother :)

Helen Dixon, was born 11th December 1908 in a small town in England called Barrow-in-Furness. She was the youngest of 3 children and her parents had moved there as children so their father's could find work in the shipyards that opened. Her own father was a boilermaker in the Vicker's shipyard, her brothers going on to follow in his footsteps.

Steamer Street, where Helen was born.

 Her family were not well off but she had a happy childhood, and had fond memories of accompanying her grandmother to sell her herbal beer at the shipyard gates. ( her grandmother had been widowed at a young age and made herbal brew at home to make a living). She recalled playing in the street, tagging along with her older brothers, Thomas and John (known as Jack) who did always want their little sister in tow...but she said they were happy times. Tragedy then struck the family when Helen was 24, her brother, Jack, died from Meningitis in 1932 at the age of 29 and she recalled this as being a very unhappy time in all her family's lives, with things "never quite being the same again"
Helen with her brothers, Thomas and Jack abt 1911
Helen's life was to change forever in 1938, when a Scottish man, called Thomas Flucker, arrived in Barrow to work for a few months in the shipyards. He became good friends with Helen's brother and became a frequent visitor to their house...and Helen and Thomas fell in love and became engaged to get married. Thomas came from a little fishing village called Newhaven, which is now part of Edinburgh. It was a very close knit community and it was very unusual for men to marry someone from without the village, never mind from across the border! In July 1938, they became married in Helen's home town  and then they set off for their life in Scotland. Thomas always loved cycling, and my gran used to make me laugh telling me that her honeymoon was a cycling holiday in Scotland and that there was a tandem waiting for them at the station.

Newhaven , Edinburgh, as it is today

When Helen arrived in Newhaven, she found it very hard to settle in and to become accepted, but Thomas's sister took her under her wing and they led a very happy life together, having three daughter's, including my mother. When I was 7, my grandfather died after an accident at work. He was a carpenter in the ship yards, and fell off a ladder, suffering a brain hemorrhage, never regaining consciousness. The whole family took it hard, but Helen had her strong christian beliefs and always said they would meet again one day in a better life. She stayed independent and busy, knitting, making wedding dresses, visiting the elderly for the church ( she was 80 at the time and a lot older than some of the people she visited!) and even went for swimming lessons when she was 82, successfully learning to swim.

During her last few years she lost her sight, which hit her very hard, but she insisted on being independent...firing the home-help my mother had employed to help her around the house and refusing to use her white stick...however at the age of 92 she became unable to look after herself, refusing to move into my mother's ( " I don't want to be a burden") and moved into an old people's home near my parents. Her character and personality totally changed with the move, it was like she had just given up, something she was never known for and a year later she passed away peacefully in her sleep after a bad chest infection.

So thank you gran for all the memories and for being such a special mother, grandmother and great are sadly missed and always will be xx

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Mother daughter time

I have always made an effort to spend time individually with my children and yesterday it was a day out going round the shops in Manchester with my 16 year old daughter, L. We had a good catch up...catch up sounds strange seen as we live in the same house..but sometimes its like ships that pass in the night with us, she is either at college, doing course work or chatting to her friends online upstairs or out at her friends houses, so a day out together gives us a chance to talk properly with no interruptions...and of course have a good look round the shops :).

Yesterday she took me to Afflecks..its lots of shops in an old warehouse, that sell everything from antiques to body piercing...must admit there were some strange things on sale but I loved it, cant believe that I have lived here 10 years now and never been in!...and yes, being the typical teenager she succeeded in getting me to get my purse out lol.

The weather was pretty cold and windy, but the sun did come out and we sat in Piccadilly Garden's for a while, listening to buskers and watching people go by...people watching is another one on my favourite pastimes.

L in Piccadilly Gardens
As usual, I didnt get much for myself ( I need lessons in how to spend on myself and not the rest of the family..anyone know of any?) but did get a new baking book with 200 recipes for Muffins and Cupcakes, so that should keep my mid-life crisis, (as my daughter calls it) going for a while.

Now its off to recover, my feet feel like they have been on a week's hike, not a walk round the shops... while looking forward to the next one :)

Friday, 25 February 2011

Mid-life crisis??

This last few weeks I have got fed up of cooking the same meals week in week out so decided to make more an effort and try something new. I am really enjoying cooking again and thought the family would appreciate it too...which they seem to be doing, not many compliments, but then again not many complaints that is a good sign in this mad

Then today my 16 year old daughter told me she had been discussing me with her boyfriend, and they have come to the conclusion I am having a mid-life crisis (ok I am 48 this year, but no way do I feel middle aged), so maybe I should go back to things with chips, lasagne, bolognese etc etc so that I can look young again in her eyes...sure the complaints would come in when I stopped all the home baking I have been doing lately lol.

My first attempt at lemon drizzle cake..took the picture quick before it was all eaten!

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Family album

Here are just a few family pics, still looking for one of my eldest daughter, Nicola...she is even better than me at hiding from cameras!
Just little old me and my daughter,L, on a trip to London.
My son , C, on a day out at the lake district.
My daughter, L, getting ready to go to her prom.
My Grandson, J, just arrived in this world.
J, aged 2, with his mum, E

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Well here we go!

Well here we go, my first post in my new blog. This is a place where I can write down my thoughts and feelings about everyday life, which for me mainly means family life, genealogy and all the usual highs and lows of life.

I am also hoping to include some of my discoveries from doing my family tree. I have always been interested in family history but it was when my grandmother died that I got into it seriously, I realised I had missed out on the chance to ask her more about her life and what she could remember about her family, so the journey began. I have not found anyone famous, or discovered a lost family fortune, but I have found out a lot about my ancestors lives and how they lived, along with a few skeletons in the cupboard (my favourite part!)

Along with all the family research, or as my kids call it "collecting dead people"..most of my time is spent with youngest child ( well he is a teenager now, not allowed to call him a child lol), has high functioning autism/aspergers syndrome and it has been a long , sometimes hard, journey...but he is an amazing person who has made us all very proud and we wouldnt have him any other way. I also have a 2 year old grandson, J, who is just adorable, he lives with my daughter a few hours away, so dont get to see him as often as I would like, but my daughter either comes here or I go there for a few days most months.

My grandmother  (age 4), Helen Dixon, who started my interest in family history.
Well thats all for now, off to design my blog layout etc and hopefully make it look I have some idea of what I am doing.