My grandfather was nothing if not an accountant and we are lucky enough to have a couple of cash books of his recording all their expenses from their wedding day up to the birth of their first child…As I am moving home shortly it’s going to be interesting to do a comparison! Here are the 1939 sums…(very faint because they’re in pencil! Sorry.)
And here is a picture of my grandparents on their wedding day (19th August 1939). They first moved into their house on 23rd September 1939.
I was going to write a blog about the technology side of things, but that seems to be the main theme already. For my part I miss record players and tape recorders!
So how about the talent of building beautiful buildings going obsolete? We have such beautiful churches, villages, thatched cottages, castles and country houses in the UK and yet when you pass a building site it’s normally a multi-storey car park or identikit houses on a soulless complex. Do you think people will marvel over these in 200 years time? Probably not because they will have blown down or been washed away within 50.
On that note here is a marvellous building which has lived through its fair share of war, fire, rebuilding etc so it must be worth investing in beautiful buildings! St Paul’s Cathedral, London built by the fantastic Sir Christopher Wren who obviously agreed. He rebuilt over 50 churches after the Great Fire of London in 1666, many of which you can still admire today.
There is an air of mystery that surrounds the Azores. When you mention them, people tend to say “Where’s that?” There seems to be an air of mystery around them and once you have been there you kind of hope it stays that way. Often surrounded by mist and rolling waves you can imagine what sailors in ancient times must have thought as they stumbled across them. From the sea they must have looked like unapproachable lumps of black volcanic rock. But for those who persevered, a paradise awaited them.
The Azores archipelago (including the islands of Flores, Corvo, Terceira, Graciosa, São Jorge, Pico, Faial, Santa Maria and São Miguel). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The nine Portuguese islands are located in the middle of the Atlantic ocean between Portugal and America. Discovered during the 15th century, it’s hard to imagine what those first sailors saw. Black cliff faces, the crashing Atlantic seas and untamed vegetation. Even now the vegetation grows so densely that I can’t imagine what it was like if it was untamed – it would have represented a jungle. The first settlers must have had a battle on their hands hacking their way through to create habitable areas to grow crops. On Pico for example (not visited on this trip but have previously seen) the vines grow out of the volcanic rock in very little soil.
Strategically, the islands were a perfect stopping point for sailors and traders travelling between Europe and the New World and the main towns were well defended against pirates. In more recent times the Azores became a lifeline for the Allies in the First World War who used Horta and Ponta Delgada as safe harbours. In World War Two the Azores joined the Allies late in the conflict but built small airstrips on several of the islands for the British and American troops. The Azores proved vital in protecting trans-Atlantic crossings from German U-boats. And although the loss of ships was large the arrival of the airstrips evened out the numbers and then turned those numbers into the Allies’ favour. Post war Santa Maria’s airstrip became a stopping point for transatlantic flights until planes were able to do the journey non stop.
The small and unassuming islands have an incredible history and so few people have heard of them. They don’t lend themselves to being shouted about – they are relaxed, quiet and an explorer’s paradise. The natural beauty is outstanding and you can feel like the first person to discover a crater/lake/rocky inlet. Imagine what those first settlers felt when they saw these things…
Everyone is full of plans and ideas today of all days, but I wonder how many of them will actually come to fruition? Is it possible to harness the hope and strength that people have today and allow it to empower them for the whole year? I hope so…I have two projects to do this year – one of which is dependent on someone finishing their play, which I will then produce! Yes me a theatre impresario…Cameron Mackintosh eat your heart out.
The second came to light only yesterday, but is so obvious! One of my past times is researching into my family history. I find it fascinating to know where I come from; who did what career; who did they marry – how did some of them get to meet in the 18th century living hundreds of miles apart? Maybe I’m just nosy. I also love looking at old photos – you get a real feel for who your grandparents were and what they did. The photos I have attached below were ones that I inherited for the records.
Tea party on the Wey
The ladies having tea in their boat is fantastic – one of the ladies was Aunt Win who was a bit of a photographer herself; tiny lady who lived to a very old age and was bright as a button until the end. My grandfather is the one at the tennis party in sunglasses. There is a whole series of photos at this tennis party and they show everyone is such high spirits – flirting, enjoying themselves and generally being silly. Lovely!
I have some stories to tell, but I think that every family has its own adventures. So my plan is to offer my services to anyone who wants to look back into their own history. It will be my own little part time business! I will do the research, scan the photos in and create keepsakes and memories for everyone. So there is my idea – let’s see if I can keep the inspiration going?