Monday, 29 March 2010

For my Dad

My dad was born on 12th June 1926 in Walthamstow, later moving to the North Circular in Edmonton. He attended Latymer School in Edmonton, a notoriously difficult school to get into. He was an only child and his parents were very proud of him. He joined the army and served two tours in Cairo towards the end of WWII in the Royal Medical Corps as a clerical officer
He met my mum and they were married on 5th March 1955 at Christchurch, Southgate. They made a beautiful couple.They set up home together in a bungalow in Potters Bar, Hertfordshire.

Dad was initially employed as an insurance clerk, later moving to the Civil Service to work in the Treasury Solicitor's Department. Over the years he studied and attained the position of Higher Executive Officer where he remained until his retirement in the 1980s. This was obviously in the days when a "job for life" still existed.

In 1959 my brother was born
And in 1961 I came along. I love this pic! On the very day I was born, my Dad passed his driving test.

Dad was not a "touchy feely" sort of person, but I was always secure in the knowledge that I was loved by both my parents. Dad was always there for you, he was always willing to advise without forcing his views on you. Growing up, my brother and I had a really good childhood and we never wanted for anything, although we weren't well off by any means. We always had a summer holiday, mostly camping or staying on a farm in Cornwall, and also a weeks holiday on a boat on the Norfolk Broads or canals.

Christmastime and some of the boating holidays were spent with the family of Dad's "best man" and I have many wonderful memories as a result of this happy time.Mum and Dad enjoyed rambling and I remember lots of jaunts into the countryside with Dad striding ahead with his Ordnance Survey map at the ready.

When I was ten or eleven we moved to a bigger house in Potters Bar which had an enormous garden, backing onto fields. (Later they built the M25 two fields away!). The size of the garden meant it required many hours to keep it in good shape. There were plenty of opportunities for a bonfire to burn the cut down bushes and brambles. I loved those bonfires and spent ages poking a long stick into the white hot centre to watch it burn - strange child!

(It was at this time that I was allowed to start horseriding, but much to my frustration Dad would never entertain the idea of a pony of my own, grrr!)

Dad was an old fashioned type of guy who took the role of head of the household seriously, liking to keep a firm hand on the finances. Mum studied at the Royal College of Music and became a piano teacher and an Associate of the Royal College of Music and earned her own money which she paid into her own bank account - much to Dad's chagrin!.

He had a great interest in classical music and over the years built up a huge collection of records which he later had to replace with CDs, giving in to "modern technology" very reluctantly.

His handwriting was incredibly neat and when he retired he took classes in Calligraphy and produced some lovely decorated pieces. Mum tried to get him to have some framed and put them on the walls but, ever the perfectionist, he always maintained they weren't good enough.

Through the years Mum and Dad belonged to a social club which originated from a youth club which members were required to leave when they were considered too old (ie. about 20). The members who left the youth club formed this new club so that they could continue to meet and do various activities together (and think up new excuses to have a party).

This club is still going today, albeit slightly less energetically, with some of the original founder members still attending. The club was a very big part of Dad's life, with some of its members becoming very close, lifelong friends. How amazing to have so many friends for this length of time.

An early photo of the club members all dolled up in their glad rags. Dad is about eighth from the left in the back row and Mum is second from left of the ladies seated.

In 2002 after about five years of trying, I managed to persuade Dad that it would be a good idea to move to Bedfordshire to live closer to our family. I mentioned in passing, a few times, that houses would be much cheaper and they could have a similar size house and have money to spare from the sale of the Potters Bar house. Eventually this argument won out and they moved to Shefford, only 15 minutes drive from us. They never regretted it and, in fact, wished they'd moved years previously. Stubborn old Dad, didn't like the idea of change.

A happy holiday in the 1970s
and 1980s

working in the garden at Potters Bar.

My wedding day

Mum and Dad
Dad's funeral was on 25th March 2010. My 15 year old daughter, Jasmine, read Life Goes On by Joyce Grenfell and my 20 year old son, Alex, read All is Well by Henry Scott Holland. It was extremely emotional but my children did their grandfather proud. We sang Praise my Soul the King of Heaven and Lord of all Hopefulness, Lord of All Joy. The music played was Chanson de Matin, Elgar, Nimrod, Elgar and Air from Suite 3 in D, Bach. The service was taken by the daughter of my Dad's Best Man who has obviously known him since she was a child and made it a lovely, personal, service.

I loved my Dad very much indeed. I only hope that he knew how much he was loved. Not being a very demonstrative person himself we, as a family were, similarly, not demonstrative generally.

I am so sad that he has gone, but I know now that he is at peace. May God rest his soul.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Rest in Peace Daddy

My dear dad died at 3am on the morning of 9th March 2010 in Papworth Hospital, Cambridge. He was 83 years old.

He had been in hospital since November, initially in Bedford, then transferred to Papworth to undergo a heart valve replacement procedure. One thing after another prevented the procedure going ahead and eventually he was bedridden and in dreadful pain from gout which had resulted from kidney failure. I am thankful that he is no longer suffering. We, the family are grateful to all the staff at Papworth Hospital for their thorough and sensitive care of my dad whilst he was in Varrier Jones Ward. They helped to make my mum and dad's 55th wedding anniversary on 5th March 2010 a lovely day for both of them, as far as it was possible in the circumstances.

Despite dad's age and heart condition, we always expected that he would come home and have a little more time to enjoy his last days so it has come as a shock to us all and I still can't believe that he will never come home.

The funeral is Thursday 25th March. I do not know how I will get through this day. My children will both be doing a reading for their grandad. I will reproduce them here in a future post.

Rest in peace daddy.
I love you.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Another Wet Weekend

Almost, but not quite, a washout. Went to the farm on Saturday. It was lovely sunshine when we were driving there. Of course this disappeared as soon as we had tacked up! Anyway, it was so wet and muddy on the farm that we decided to ride around the roads. I wasn't entirely happy because it was out of my comfort zone - I would have preferred to stay in the relative safety of the 'Pit'.

I needn't have worried because Santana was like his old unflappable self and, other than a little prancing and fidgeting when we came back through the gate onto the farm track, he was fab. I think he is unsettled there because that was the spot where he bolted and I fell off last time. I must be transmitting my feelings of trepidation to him. He soon got over it though when we moved off again after Jasmine had latched the gate.

It rained on us while we rode back up the track to the farm.

Back in the yard, we untacked and I felt GOOD! We had a lovely uneventful ride and I was feeling confident. The sun came back out again!

I was looking forward to repeating this on Sunday but when we got to the farm Sunday morning it was tipping down with rain and the front fields were almost completely underwater.

Jasmine brought Mouse in, got straight on with just a cooler rug on to soak up the rain from Mouse's coat and rode through the lakes that had formed. I'll post some video when I get round to downloading it from Jasmine's camera.

Back at work today and the sun has shone all day so far. Typical!