A Family Affair

A recent weekend escape in the country turned into a journey through time and ancestry.

I was visiting special family friends in Gloucestershire and on Saturday we drove to Malvern to enjoy the Royal Horticultural Society Spring Festival. The event was packed with stalls, music, food, vintage cars, champagne and so many incredible gardens and flowers.
Loads to see
Admiring the incredible and varied displays in the floral marquee I overheard a group of women discussing a photo one of them had just taken. 

“I only have half of you” – said the first woman standing almost right in between me and a display. “Oh, with him” replied her friend. A third woman then commented “Half of Monty is better than no Monty at all!”

I couldn’t help but disappear around a corner and laugh out loud not understanding the context. Making our way out the massive marquee we passed an enclosure where Monty Don, television presenter and gardening guru, was answering audience questions. I was relieved to have a ‘full Monty’ explanation.
Stunning varieties
Leaving the gardens we drove into the magical black hills as the dramatic sky cleared. We followed the small winding roads and right angle turns into West Malvern. My mother had spent some of her early years in the town and recalls enjoying long walks and picnics in the hills we had just travelled through. She attended Sunday school with her brother at St James Church where her father had celebrated mass. Both also both attended the St James Primary School just across the road.

Mum is researching and in the process of writing a book about her parents daring and adventurous lives as missionaries in rural Southern Africa. Since we were in the neighbourhood we thought we’d visit to get some photos for the book and for family posterity.

The outside of the church was an interesting site. A blue faced clock on the tower felt traditional, the widely spaced cow grate on the approaching driveway felt antiquated and the lamppost near the drive entrance covered in guerilla knitting was oddly hilarious.
Unexpected accessory
Luckily the building was open, although unattended. It was silent and the air was still and calm. It reminded me more of a chapel than a church per say. It was well maintained and felt like a cherished space for the parishioners. It seemed a little strange and wonderful to contemplate my grandfather, who passed away before I was born, standing at the altar and behind the pulpit in what I imagine a cream or green coloured cassock.
Down the nave to the altar
Leaving a message in the guestbook to mark the occasion and a donation for maintenance I felt a strange small tug of a sentimental sort of nostalgia, even though I don’t recall visiting this church before. I was standing in a piece of my family’s fascinating history.
Documenting the visit
I felt pride for my grandparents’ bravery and determination. Both of whom are examples in my life of love, joy in the simple things, courage and the importance of maintaining a healthy sense of humour.

I am so excited to see mum’s book develop and discover more about where I come from as a result. Watch this space 


3 thoughts on “A Family Affair

  1. Awesome to hear this response from my niece about my Dad who she never met. To know that these things are not forgotten and, indeed, are part of who we are.


  2. Pingback: Funny Bones | Redhead Ramblings

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