Friday, 31 July 2015

Sawley, Our Village

The old English name for Sawley was Sallé, meaning "hill where willow trees grow". This ancient parish on the borders of Leicestershire is situated near the junction of the Rivers Derwent and Trent. It is clear that the early development of the village of Sawley was due to its command of a river crossing. A search of the National Archives by one of our website visitors, found this little snippet of information: "Subject: the continued provision of a stoop or landing place on the south bank of the River Trent at Sawley for the ferry boat which crossed from the plaintiff's land to the defendant's." The date of this item was in the year 1690, and the case was between Stanhope, Earl of Chesterfield versus De la Fontaine. For many years however, travellers on the road to Birmingham had to cross the River Trent either by ferry or by ford, and it was not until 1790 that the Harrington Bridge was built. This was a toll bridge, and charges were levied on all except the Lord of the Manor, his servants and the inhabitants of Sawley and Hemington. The bridge continues to be an important river crossing and still retains part of the original 18th century structure.

Inside Sawley All Saints Church

The first settlement of Sawley around the church of All Saints was built on rising ground above the normal flood plain of the River Trent. A ford across the river shallows to the west of the Harrington Bridge was lost following the creation of the weir near Redhill in 1792. The basic layout of the village, including its twitchells, still exists today.

The church, All Saints, dates from the 13th century, with Saxon and possibly Norman work. The embattled stone screen behind the altar is exceptional, and probably enclosed a vestry. The most notable features of the church are the restored mediaeval stalls in the chancel, monuments to the Bothe family, and a fine pulpit dating from 1636. Many of the Rectors of Sawley became famous. Among those were two Cardinals, a Bishop of Hereford, and a Bishop of Winchester. It is believed there was a place of worship in this position since 850AD

Sadly, this lovely thatched roof cottage was demolished

Opposite the church is Bothe Hall, which stands in its own grounds. The building was probably built between 1660 and 1680, and has an interior that contains some exposed ceiling beams and a regency staircase. Other buildings of interest in the area include Church Farm, which stands on its ancient site, and the Sawley Baptist Church, which was built in 1800.

Up until the 19th century, Sawley was the most important village in the area; it commanded the first river crossing of the River Trent above Nottingham, and it had an extensive ecclesiastical parish, which included Breaston, Draycott, Hopwell, Long Eaton, Risley, Wilne and Wilsthorpe. The tithes of this large parish, the third most valuable in Derbyshire, became the entitlement of the Prebend of Sawley (a method of paying a member of a Cathedral chapter) during the early 12th century and it is known that some of the Prebends, including the important Bothe family, were resident in Sawley during the 15th century.

On June 2nd 1259, a charter was granted to Roger, Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield, to hold a market on Tuesday (changed to a Thursday in 1301) and a 3-day fair at Michaelmas. Originally associated with the Annual Parochial Feast of Dedication of the Church of All Saints, the fair was held sometime between November 12th and 18th. Stalls were set up in what is now the junction of Wilne Road and Tamworth Road (Sawley Cross). Publicans supplied free bread and cheese with the ale they sold. At this time, the Wilsthorpe area was administered by Sawley and grain grown by the villages was milled at the windmill situated in the middle of Hawthorne Avenue.

Until the expansion of Long Eaton, the district was mainly agricultural and although there was stocking-making in the village before 1680, it never became an extensive occupation. Many people from Sawley worked in the mills at Wilne, which were spinning cotton by water power towards the end of the 18th century and people from both Long Eaton and Sawley worked on the waterways.

In 1787, the Sawley Enclosure Award apportioned land to 35 people while just over a quarter of the 800 acres in total was held by the Lord of the Manor, the Earl of Harrington. By 1827, only two families involved in the land share were farming in Long Eaton. At that time Sawley had 14 farms. The population was higher than that of Long Eaton until around 1850 when Long Eaton grew at an amazing rate.

The Harrington Hunt, on what is now Wilne Road, Sawley

Families with long farming records in the village were: Bowmer, Grammer, Harriman, Ironmonger and the Smiths, of which there were three branches. Agriculture was the chief occupation of most people in Sawley around 1851, but there was also a wide range of other skilled workers, including blacksmiths, shoemakers, a miller, joiners and carpenters, dressmakers, tailors, basket-makers, machine fitters, a bricklayer, an engineer, a wheelwright, and a rope-maker. There were many tradesfolk, but few were professional people. Sawley had a perpetual Curate, a general practitioner, two schoolmasters and three schoolmistresses.

The first survey of Sawley was made in 1879-80, but several revisions were made between then and 1921, when the village was expanding into New Sawley. The first new development in Hey Street and north of the railway station near the lace factories off Wilsthorpe Road, linked the old village with neighbouring Long Eaton at the Royal Oak public house. The surviving network of footpaths and tracks to nearby villages can be seen on an Ordnance Survey map of the time. Also visible on the map would be the newer network of canals and railways, serving local industry. The county border between Derbyshire and Leicestershire still follows the old course of the Trent around the ox-bow lake to the west of Sawley.

Sawley Marina, close to the Leicestershire border

In 1894 along with changes to the administrative bodies, Sawley was grouped with other local villages to form the Shardlow Rural District Council. After parts of Sawley were merged with Long Eaton, in 1934 the rest was split up between Breaston and Long Eaton.

The national census returns for 1901 gives the population of Sawley as 1,751, mainly living around the then new housing area known as "Monkey Park", near Sawley Junction. In the old village, there were about 200 houses, nearly all brick-built, but 30 or so had thatched roofs, one of which survived until the mid-1950's.

Sawley village had a well and a pump, which were still evident at the beginning of the 20th century. The well was fitted in about 1930, and was situated in Towle's Close (now Towle Street), and the pump was near the entrance to the Manor Yard in the Cross Place (Market Place). Stocks and a whipping post had survived, and these stood in what is now Tamworth Road, just opposite the White Lion Inn. There was even a pen, where stray animals were kept, until being claimed by their owners. Next to this was the fire station, a stone building housing the village fire engine. It is not known as to whether this was hand or horse drawn, but it was apparently sold in 1929, and the village then had to pay for the services of the Long Eaton brigade. Bate's Farm in Wilne Lane boasted a fire plaque, which indicated that they were covered by fire insurance.

The village pump, at the far end of the row of houses on the right

Over the years, a lot of occupations have disappeared in Sawley. No one hires out horses and carts, or breeds donkeys. There are no thatchers or blacksmiths; there is nobody to make rope or twine. Two blacksmiths used to be situated in Sawley. During the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Sawley was the centre for boat-building, and there were many warehouses for this purpose, situated around Trent Lock. Sawley Cut was made before 1793. You can still see the importance of boats in Sawley when visiting Sawley Marina, just over the Harrington Bridge. The toll charges were valid for 24 hours, but evasion of paying brought about a fine of 20/-, which was considerably more than the actual toll. There was a story of a man, not having the money to pay the charge, attempting to swim across the river, and was drowned.

Harrington Bridge

The waterways brought boatmen and boatwrights from further afield. The furthest travelled inhabitant was Gaetino Amabilino, a victualler, who was born in Palermo, Sicily. The village is on the main route from Birmingham to Nottingham and there are three long-established public houses: the Nags Head, The White Lion, and the Harrington Arms. These were first developed as hostelries to serve coaches travelling through the village.

Nag's Head public house

Sawley was well provided with public houses - there were five within a distance of about 200 yards, as well as a shop selling beer and spirits. In addition, various homemade wines were produced. The Railway Inn began life as a cottage in Wilne Lane. The Harrington Arms was a turnaround for coaches on the Lenton to Sawley turnpike road. The New Inn on Cross Street gave up its licence many years ago. The proprietor of the Nags Head around the turn of last century operated a horse cab from stables behind the inn. Bicycles were not normally ridden on Sunday, but men would cycle for three miles to buy a drink, because on Sunday the pubs could only provide refreshment for travellers!

In the 19th century Sawley boasted four or five factories. There is a report of a lace factory being next to the White Lion pub, which was burnt down when an adjoining cottage caught fire. It is also believed there was a hosiery factory adjoining a Mr. Shaw's house behind the White Lion Inn. There was also a factory opposite the Baptist Chapel on Wilne Lane, and some remains of a stocking factory can be found in the Little or Middle Twitchell area.

East End Sawley, now the end of Fairfield Crescent

Throughout the whole of the 19th century, there were two principle land owners. The Earl of Harrington and William Bennett. In 1879, it was recorded that the fields near the River Trent were not to be ploughed, but kept for pasture, because it was thought that better cheese was produced from natural rather than cultivated grass. These fields are still used for grazing today. It is also recorded that the farms in Sawley had pigeon houses, and the pigeons were kept for meat. A feature of village life at this time was the way in which peculiar names were give to people and places. Pantile Row, Golden Row, The Brooke, Staple's Row, Finney's Row, and Blood's Row were some of the names used for houses. Dr. Clifford was born in one of four houses known as "Bugle Bunch". Some people were known by nicknames associated with their occupations, such as "Lamplighter Peggo", and others had curious names like "Humming Jimmy", "Long Jack", "Roacher Smith" and "Billy No-neck".

Bridge over Sawley Cut

On what is now Chantry Close, there was the site of the jail yard. This yard opened out into a square containing some houses, a few of which were derelict, with the old jail or detention house in one corner. This was just a one-room structure, with a single window high in the wall. Any offenders were detained there overnight before being taken, often on foot, to Derby. By 1900 the jail at Long Eaton had superseded the one used in Sawley. The village had its own policeman, but prior to this local men had to be employed to patrol the streets at night for a small fee.

Parents in the village had the choice of sending their children to either the Baptist School, or the Church of England National School. Most children began school at the age of three and left at 13. They had a month's holiday in the summer, and a few days at other times. The Baptist School is no longer used, and the Church of England School was later converted into a garage.

Sawley School, now a car showroom

It is not known what happened to the stone cross which used to stand in the Cross Place. When gas lighting was installed in the village an ornamental lamp, often referred to as the "Big Lamp" took its place. A three-storey building known as the "Manor House" stood next to the Nag's Head pub facing the Cross Place until about 1940. In the fields to the east of the village centre the site of a Roman camp provides further historical interest. Sawley and its surrounding fields were designated a Conservation Area on 1st July 1982.

This was built in the early 1950s and opened by Richard Attenborough, Later Sir Richard Attenborough

Sawley Marina, looking towards the Ratcliffe Power Station

I hope you've enjoyed this little tour of our village and local town. Next time, some more members of my family and their pets.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Long Eaton

The town's recorded history began with its entry in the Domesday Book as "Aitone", an Anglo-Saxon name, probably meaning "farm between streams". In 1228, Aitone gained the suffix "Long", which was a reference to the length of the village. In the early days it consisted of little more than a few farms and cottages strung out between the parish church and what is now Main Street. It made up part of the parish of Sawley, which during the Middle Ages became a village of some importance, with Long Eaton under its jurisdiction.

High Street, pedestrianised in recent years

Long Eaton in 1801 was a Parish in the Hundred of Morleston and Litchurch, Derbyshire; nine miles from Derby, and 119 miles from London; containing 125 houses and 505 inhabitants. Until about the middle of the century, it remained very much the same, its handful of population occupied chiefly in boating and farming. An area with the beginnings of industry, where things moved slowly. The Church of St. Laurence, near the Market Place, can boast a history going back at least nine centuries. It began to keep registers independent of its mother church at Sawley and in 1860, the Reverend Frederic Atkinson M.A. lost no time in getting the Parish made independent of Sawley. It was created as a separate Ecclesiastical Parish in 1864 and was restored and enlarged in 1868.

Long Eaton Green, Nottingham to the left, Derby to the right

Developments in transport opened Long Eaton up and in the 18th century the main route from Nottingham to Birmingham passed through Long Eaton and Sawley. A turnpike road from Lenton to Sawley was built. Canals too were an important means of transporting goods – particularly coal. With coal came the chimney revolution. Coal was the driving force of the steam age and with the steam engine came the railways, industry, factories and foundries. Lace making had started before 1830 and by 1842 a steam-powered factory was built.
Tamworth Road, looking towards Sawley

The early lace factories were small, but in 1852, Mr. Joseph Austin built a large four-storey building on land near the market place. Beside the Erewash Canal, where it passes under Derby Road, stands a group of tenement lace factories of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These buildings are the dominant features of the Long Eaton Mills Conservation Area, which was designated on 17th February 1983. An imposing physical relic of the lace industry, at its peak it employed half of Long Eaton’s working population. The four large, four-storey mills, West End Mill (1882), Whiteleys Mill (1883), Harrington Mill (1885) and Bridge Mills (1902) are typical of the form of factory that was built for the lace industry. The buildings were designed to provide rented space for a number of separate firms, the lace trade being traditionally one of relatively small concerns. The system of tenement factories enabled many people to set up as lace manufacturers with the minimum of capital, sharing the cost of power and other overheads.

Leopold Street Mills, now a heritage site

The factories are entirely functional in design with closely spaced cast-iron windows to provide light for the lace makers, and projecting brick turret staircases to leave each floor entirely clear for the long lace machines. The turrets of turnpike staircases are the only embellishments. Although the factories have gradually lost their lace-manufacturing tenants, they continue in their original role of providing rented space for industry. Other buildings of interest are the lace factories on Stanhope Street and Milner Road. These factories were built between 1905 and 1909, and their single-storey structure is typical of the later stage of the factory development.

Bridge Mills, overlooking the Erewash canal

The railways became the prime means of transport and 1,000 men were engaged in the construction of the line between Derby and Nottingham. This line was opened on 4th June 1839, the Long Eaton station being at Meadow Lane, and the following year the line was extended to Leicester, Rugby, and London. In 1847 the Erewash Valley line, which passed close to the village centre, was opened and another station was built at Nottingham Road.

In 1862 the junctions were rearranged to form two curves, which brought trains round to a new junction with the London and Leicester lines. A new station – Trent Station – was opened here. On Goose Fair night, October 9th 1869, there was a collision at Long Eaton Junction between the mail train and two trains travelling from Nottingham. Nine people were killed and eleven seriously injured. In 1863 a new Long Eaton Station was opened on Station Street. This and Trent Station were both closed in the 1960s, and now Long Eaton is served by just one railway station. Situated at the junction of Tamworth Road and Wilsthorpe Road in New Sawley, this station was originally Sawley Junction.

The arrival of the railway brought the first major industry to Long Eaton. S.J. Claye's Wagon Works was established by 1851. Within 20 years, the company employed 300 men. The railway sidings at Toton also expanded during the period around the turn of the century. Even before that, as many as 120 trains were dealt with each day by up to 70 horses that were used for shunting. The census returns of 1871 show that 62% of the working population was employed in the lace and railway industries. In the early 1900s, it was proposed to construct a tramway (light railway) link between Nottingham and Derby, passing through Long Eaton and surrounding areas. This plan came to nothing because of a lack of funds to construct a bridge crossing over the existing Erewash Valley Line on Nottingham Road.

The cemetery was opened on Saturday 2nd April 1884. The land for this and West Park, was purchased from the Harrington family in 1883. Long Eaton's first police constable, Mr. John Parker, took up residence, and in the same year, a wooden shed was bought to keep the town fire engine in. Three years later, the shoulder of Mutton Close, a field next to the Erewash Canal, was purchased for use by the fire service, which is still on the same site today. The first national school was built in 1862 on a site presented by Mr. Claye of the Wagon Works. The first Council school was opened on the High Street in 1867. The Long Eaton Gas Company, which had been started as a private concern by William Bush in 1853, became a public company in 1864 and street lighting began in the town in 1872. The town's Andrew Carnegie Library was opened in 1906, and the Grammar School in 1910, both built on a piece of land called "Gorse Holmes", which was bought for £1,150. The first headmaster, Samuel Clegg – grandfather to Sir David Attenborough and Lord Richard Attenborough – remained there until his death in 1930. The school is now a listed building and part of the Long Eaton School.

Long Eaton School, now the Mohan Business Centre

Until 1875, its own freeholders who elected, at an annual vestry meeting, the various parish officers, administered Long Eaton. The Long Eaton Local Board of Health, along with the Local Board of Education (1873) then functioned as the administrative bodies until superseded in 1894. The Urban Council's first meeting took place in January 1895 at the Blue Bell Inn. Later meetings took place regularly at the Zion Hall, until the Town Hall on Nottingham Road was acquired in 1938. The local government reorganisation of that date created the Long Eaton District Council and Sawley was grouped with other local villages to form the Shardlow Rural District Council. The boundaries of Long Eaton were extended in 1921 by taking in the whole of Wilsthorpe, along with parts of Sawley and Sandiacre. In 1934 the rest of Sawley was split up, part being attached to Breaston and the remainder, which included the old village, to Long Eaton.

In 1875, the local boards of health were created; a separate board was allocated to Long Eaton. This was the forerunner of the District Council, which took over in 1895. Its first act during its 20 years was the acquisition of an area of land in the centre of Long Eaton, which for centuries had been used as a grazing common. This area is what we now called the Market Place, and a regular weekly market was later instigated. Long Eaton was thus recognised as a market town and shopping centre.



The Co-op, the building now houses Argos and several other shops

Today, Ilkeston and Long Eaton are the two principle towns in the Borough of Erewash, and the two have nearly 70% of the total Erewash inhabitants. Long Eaton Station had trains departing for Derby, Leicester, London, Nottingham and Lincoln. These, along with the nearby M1, are just some of the examples of transport links in the town.

Long Eaton is twinned with two European towns: Romorantin in the Loire Valley of France and Langen, near Frankfurt in Germany. The Long Eaton Twinning Association was established in 1961, its aims being "to promote good relations and exchanges of all types". Each year, organised visits take place, with one town acting as a host for the other two in rotation. Long Eaton School, Trent College and Wilsthorpe School have regular pupil exchange visits and various other organisations in the town have visited or been host to their counterparts in Romorantin and Langen.

Peter Thein outside his traditional cafe

This gorgeous building was the Rendezvous Cafe, now up for sale

Rowells, a traditional family run haberdashery and general household store

As well as promoting itself abroad, Long Eaton does much to improve its status in Britain. Long Eaton participates in Tidy Britain Group's Britain in Bloom competition. The town has three times been a regional finalist, and has represented the East Midlands in the All-England Finals. One of Long Eaton's main attractions is West Park, and its Leisure Centre. Swimming, saunas, solariums, sunbeds, sports halls, weight training, activity rooms and a licenced bar feature.

The gates of West Park

Dating from 1778, Long Eaton Hall was designed in the late Palladian Style by Joseph Pickford of Derby. A red brick three-storey house with sandstone dressings and a roof of graduated Swithland slates, it is a Grade II Listed Building of special architectural interest, which was taken into consideration when a new block was added to the west side of the Hall in 1990/91.

Originally built for the Howitt family, the Hall was purchased by the Reverend Francis Gawthorne in 1839 and passed to Joseph and Thomas Fletcher in 1873. The Long Eaton District Council purchased it in 1921. In 1918 Mr. Charles Sydney Howitt left his collection of painting to the L.E.U.D.C. These oils and watercolours dating from the 18th and 19th centuries hang in the Hall and the new building. Several works have been added to the original collection, which comprises of around 45 items.

Town Hall with new extension to the left

The new extension is mainly a steel framed construction with reinforced floors on the upper levels. The brickwork is Butterley Thurcroft Lindrick Red Rustics and the roof of Burlington blue slates matches the Swithland slates of the original building, which are no longer available. The façade of curved aluminium members glazed with tinted reflective glass give the building a more modern look. The formal opening of the building took place on April 25th 1991, by Michael Portillo M.P. who was at the time the Minister of State for Local Government and Inner Cities.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Long Eaton and Sawley, Derbyshire

The following blog pages are a nostalgic look back at two villages and their development into a thriving town. I hope to give a flavour of life in Long Eaton and Sawley through the years. Like most towns, Long Eaton is continually growing and changing, as new developments are introduced, such as the pedestrianisation of the High Street and Market Place. I hope you find the information interesting, and that the photos I've chosen enhance this.

First an overview.

Long Eaton Market Place

Long Eaton is a market town, and was once a thriving industrial town, with the lace making factories and the industries related to that, such as lace machine manufacture. The canals and later railways facilitating this. The town's recorded history began with its entry in the Domesday Book as "Aitone", an Anglo-Saxon name, probably meaning "farm between streams"

Long Eaton Parish Church and War Memorial

Long Eaton library

One of the library windows

The band stand on West Park, Long Eaton

Sawley was a poorer community of tenant farmers, but its early development was due mainly to its command of a river crossing. The old English name for Sawley was Sallé, meaning "hill where willow trees grow".

Old Sawley Manor House, no longer exists

Bothe Hall, Old Sawley

Sawley Community Centre and Memorial Hall

Sawley War Memorial

Sawley All Saints Parish Church

Next time I will concentrate on Long Eaton

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Pet's Corner

They say we Brits are animal lovers. I love wild animals and birds, but not too keen on pets as they take too much looking after. That said, I have had pets in the past. When I asked my family and friends for pet stories and photos, I was hoping for a bit more response, but here we go.


I was about 12 in this photo with my then best friend Diana (yes, that is an outside lavvy behind us). My cat Smutty, who I was given when I was about two years old, is sitting on top of the rabbit cage which contains Goldie, although you can't see her. Sadly Smutty died shortly after this photo. Mum though he might have been poisoned by someone. 

A few years after this photo we moved to a larger house with a bigger garden, and Goldie - always an adventurous bunny, escaped. Dad and I spent a happy, damp afternoon chasing her through the neighbours gardens. A veritable paradise for a rabbit. All those salad veggies to nibble through. In spite of dad having a fishing net on a long handle (I wish I had a photo of that) he never managed to catch her. Most of the neighbours stood up in their bedroom windows watching and wondering what these two loons were up to. Embarrassing for a 15 year old, which I was at the time.

Mum, dad and Tara

This delightful, but rather tatty photo is of mum and dad at the seaside, with my sister's Afghan Tara. In spite of the exotic female name, Tara was male. He adored my dad, who broke his heart when Tara died of liver disease. They did eventually get another dog, a spaniel/Jack Russell cross called Sam. Sadly I have no photos of Sam, who I always thought looked like a black and white Basset Hound. He should have been called Hoover, as when they took him to their caravan in Ingoldmells,used to hoover up all the chips people had dropped.

Emily's cat, also called Miss Pond

Miss Pond (Emily has a Dr Who fixation) is the grumpiest cat ever, according to Emily

Campbell's cat Bertie

Bertie looking confused

Bertie, according to Emily, is the most stupid cat ever. I think he looks a bit like my Smutty, but thinner. I'm not surprised he looks confused living with two Miss Ponds.


Probably the cutest dog in the world

Mr Marley is my sister Anita's 15 month old Shih Tzu. She got him as a puppy from a local lady who has Marley's parents. When I was in hospital, Anita took some of my washing home - no, ALL of my washing home. After it was all clean and smelling nice Marley pinched a pair of my socks from the top of the basket and ran around the house with them in his mouth. They were still intact when I got them back again. 

RA Famous Mobsters are my RA friends. We are 10 crazy ladies who all have Rheumatoid Arthritis. We stay in contact through Facebook and support each other when we are feeling ill. Don't know what we would do without each other. Most have a dog, but I only managed to get these two photos. 


Freddie, an 18 month old blonde labrador. He is being trained by Carole for the "Dogs Do"  the disabled/assistance dogs based in Banbury. Oxford. He is a  soft mouthed dog, chosen for intelligence and diligence. He is sociable, eager to please, friendly and good around all ages. Born in Cumbria, Freddie has a brother called Frankie. Also a disabled assistance dog. Dogs do is a great Charity. They get no funding from the government. All through fundraising. Carole says it is great to be part of a team.


Debbie's Max, is a much loved family pet. He has a glossy black coat and very perky ears which make him look alert and intelligent - which I'm sure he is.

Next time, our town Long Eaton, and our village, Old Sawley, Derbyshire.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Wives, Lovers, Significant Others and Grandchildren

I'm going to do this section in reverse order and begin with Jonathan and Rachel. 

Signing the register

They married at Cleve Lodge, which is the local Masonic Hall. A beautiful Edwardian building. Nobody but our group were there - except staff of course, and we had it for the whole day. It was wonderful and I read out one of my poems written especially for the occasion.

A Celebration

Let's have a celebration
for the marriage here today
of Jonathan and Rachel,
for their love and harmony.

We've heard them make their promises,
full of joy and pride,
we see them look so happy,
our son and his new bride.

Welcome, Rachel, to our family.
Welcome to our hearts.
Take our best wishes with you
as your life together starts.

You've made plans for your future,
a lifetime filled with laughter.
Today we share your pleasure,
and wish you 'Happy Ever After'.

Rachel at home, Christmas 2013

Jonathan at home, Christmas 2013

Miss Pond and her two boys next. 

Emily and Alex

I'm including Alex on here, as she is Emily's best friend, confidante, seamstress, furniture restorer, painter, decorator - and chauffeur. Alex is married to claude, not only is she his wife, she is his carer as he has Cerebral Palsy and uses a wheelchair. Their van, which is adapted to take Claude in his wheelchair to his various appointments, also doubles as a removal van for various large items Emily buys from Vintage Fairs and/or Ebay. 

Emily was married, but is now very happily divorced. She wouldn't be able to indulge in her new vintage lifestyle if she was still married, but she is free to do so now. Here are her two gorgeous boys.

Chester aged 15 with the typical mean and moody look of a young man of that age

Campbell aged 13 looking super intelligent in his non vintage specs

On to Richard and Nicola, and their two grown up children, Oakley and Willow. Willow is the only girl among my grandchildren.

Nicola and Richard 2014


Oakley with Willow

Willow aged 15

Nicola and Willow are both into handicrafts and Willow is holding a teddy and a cushion she made for me. She has a few learning difficulties, but has done very well at her mainstream school. She now attends a local college which supports young people with problems. She loves it there.

Helen and Emma

Helen got married to Lee's dad when she was 16. It didn't last long. Next she had a relationship with Reece's dad - probably equally short. The next relationship lasted a few years, that's with Shay's dad. They are still very good friends, but no longer together. So, meet Helen's new partner Emma. They have been together for just over one year, and are very happy. All three of Helen's boys adore Emma and would like them to get married or at least have a Civil Ceremony. 

My other gingernut Lee



The special cake Emma made for Helen's 44th birthday

Well, that's your lot for now. I'll have a little rest before the next one. I'll be talking about pets. Friends pets, family pets.