I love old photos. A while back I made a montage of the women in my family. Six generations of women starting with my Great Grandmother, my Nan, my Mum, Me, my Daughter and my Granddaughter.
My Great Grandparents (on my Mum's side) were from East London. She was from a well to do family and she worked for members of the Royal family as a nanny. He was a cheeky cockney working as Grenadier Guard (you know the ones who guard the palace with the big black furry hats). From opposite sides of the track they fell in love and married against her Mothers wishes.
During the 2nd world war my Great Grandmother was killed during the Blitz, protecting her children in an air raid shelter. She was only 56 years old. My Nan (age 13) and her older Sisters were all rescued, but along with their Mum they lost all their neighbours and Friends. The blitz haunted my Nan for the rest of her life.
These old photos are so precious and they make it possible for me and my children to feel some kind of connection to the family who walked before us. The family we never met.
This next photo is my ultimate favourite 'old' photo. I even have it as a large canvas on my wall. It is my Grandad (Mums Dad) and he was the greatest person in the whole world, ever. Grandad was a big, rosy cheeked Irish greengrocer who lived for his family, especially his tribe of Grandchildren. This photo was taken in one of his East End shops and as I am the eldest I'm lucky enough to remember it well.
I loved being at the shop, it was such a wonderful place to be. The smell of the fresh fruit & veg, the dusty potatoes, the immaculate rows of tinned beans, sardines and sweetcorn. Nan polishing apples, making tea, weighing out veg while Grandad chatted & laughed with his many loyal customers, (over) filling brown paper bags of veg. The memories of Granddad's shop are so bright and vivid and this old photo transports me back in time.
Grandad was raised in a big old house (below) on a farm in Southern Ireland. Being the eldest Son, Grandad was all set to inherit the farm from his father. However, he fell in love with my Londoner Nan and was disinherited. Why? Because she was Catholic and he protestant. Back then mixing the two religions was almost unheard of.
The house is still very much in the family and my Great Uncle raised his own family there. Grandad was very fond of his time on the farm and growing up in this house. He would tell me stories of his time there and how much he loved the old place. Its fascinating to look at this house and imagine my Great Grandparents living & working there and Granddad as a child running around its big old rooms. My favourite old story that he would often tell me, still with his very strong Irish accent, is how he would catch salmon from the river with his bare hands. I would sit in awe of him, my Grandad was the original Bear Grylls and I adored him.