Saturday, June 28, 2014

A handful of photos

This morning I have been cooking, gooseberry tart is on the menu as we found some at a farm shop on the way back from a walk, also Essex honey, though to be honest it tastes as if the bees have feasted on sugar as well.  A fruitcake cooks in the oven, LS is always mooching around in the evening for more food and demanding impossible things to eat and then there is a vegetarian gravy bubbling away, which has been a strong favourite over the years. I reckon it is because of the marmite in it.
Brings back memories of my first mother-in-law, Lotta in Switzerland, as she made supper soup every day, standing in front of the oven stirring, usually the leftovers from the day before.  This we would have with a selection of cold meats, (and you had to eat them, because they would turn up every day, even if they had gone green).  Gooseberry tart brings back memories of the cherry tart grandpa bought from the patisserie on Sunday lunch time, the cherries snuggling in its custard base.
So I looked up a few old photos, the sun always seemed to shine at the house in Blonay, people coming and going 'grandpa/Con' going off to his church in Territet in the morning, he was a churchwarden and was eventually buried there followed by Lotta a few years later.
Vevey the town below the village of Blonay was home to Nestle headquarters, so there was quite a few English people around, and Annabel, my sister-in-law worked at shop selling fine embroidered tableware and blouses.  The English ex-pats consisted of people from Nestles, and  British colonial service people, Con had worked for Unesco for many years in education, ending up as a director in America, so there was a diverse set of people coming to the house.  Lotta loved bridge, so she went to her weekly bridge meetings, Sylvia her daughter, has also become an avid bridge player.  Sylvia was the clever one, married to an American, they both taught in Hong Kong, tall like her father I was always envious of her sophistication. Annabel was the quiet one after an unhappy marriage to a German (family joke Herman the German) who worked out in the oil fields of Persia/Iran, had left her stranded on a camp out in the desert, she was helped by a french family out there and later married Jeannot their son.  Marc her son was a lively youngster growing up, and teased Karen piteously when she was young, is now miles away from the slim youngster who toted a knife and a gun out in the desert, runs a sushi factory.
This summer the family are going out to spend a couple of weeks with them, Karen's children are the only grandchildren that my ex-sister-laws have so they are cherished.  Though that is not quite true, there is an Opper contigency out in Canada, Mike the oldest of the four children (the fourth, and youngest, being Nick who was Karen's father and who died when she was about three) Mike,  emigrated when he was about 16 years old following a career of boxing and then working in the forests.

Karen's baptism with her godmothers, we would call this photo 'the three witches'
Florine to the left, Lotta in the middle and her best friend Leni, though they were always falling out.
I see she has a silver bracelet digging into her chubby little arm, I  also had one at the same age, which they had to cut off in the end.

Tom my oldest grandchild staying with his Aunt Annabel and Jeannot down in Montreux
now a strapping 19 year old

Tom again tucking into goodness knows what

Con, Sylvia, Lotta, Florine and Eugene

I owned a polaroid camera at the time, Annabel and Jeannot at Avebury on a visit

A party? Marc is teasing Karen probably, you can see me in the background - had a hair problem like the 'witch of Fleet Street'!

Love this old photo of Kim at the cottage in Fyfield, he was not obedient but lived to a ripe old age of 15

Elegant couple, dressed for a party

Capturing my in laws in their retirement period gives a somewhat untrue picture of how their lives had been lived.  Con, short for Conrad, was an exceptionally good person, he worked in Africa, Thailand, Iran and many other countries, bringing education to far out places.  He would often talk of making the bricks to build a school, or whilst out in the jungle in an old Morris estate, peeing on the wooden tyres because they had overheated and were on fire... Lotta on the other hand had to deal with bringing up four children in outlandish places where perhaps you would find a snake under the cot, she kept a gun under her pillow to keep away any marauders.

Looking at the photo of Kim, anarchic labrador that he was, and I realise he was very similar to my old collie Moss, in the role he played in my life at the time.  He came with me on my marriage, couldn't stand my stepmother I think, and as I moved through his 15 years of life, he was like an anchor of sanity. Holidays of course he went into kennels but never seemed the worse for wear  when he came out. My cat Maxi who also lived to a ripe old age, would migrate down to a friend in the road who would feed him every day, but would often be seen sitting on the front doorstep waiting for our return from long holidays and was always there when we got back.  He was a shy cat but very affectionate, and on what was to be a final move to Bath, climbed into the car as I packed ; - don't leave me behind was the message!


  1. I am fascinated by family group photos--don't know why--a glimpse, however brief, into other lives--like opening a good novel.
    Have had a good few moments rambling through your recent posts--I doubt I could ever become comfortable with front doors which open directly onto the street. Flowery walks--with or without attendant cows--are more my thing.

    1. The problem with living in the country is that many houses are very expensive if they are attractive, so town living is considered a good option with the shops just down the street.
      Family history; LS said of the blog - 'that explains a lot' and it is true picking bits out of the history tells the tale to one's children and grandchildren.