Saturday, 4 March 2017

Blasts from the past

White rabbits! We're already into March, and my head is having a hard time comprehending that we're now already one sixth of the way through 2017.  Only eight months until the Christmas decorations go up again, folks!  In many ways this year is flying by, and I'm finding that time only seems to quicken as I age.  I assume this isn't just me?!

I'm now in what many would call 'the prime of my life' - you know, the point in your existence just before you begin the slippery slope towards true middle age, and then onwards towards the dreaded and feared old age.  I find it hard to comprehend that I am the age I am - I assumed naively when I was young that by this age I would have the answers to everything and be totally confident and comfortable in myself and my abilities.  That I would feel the age I am.  And in many ways I do - ask my knees, both of which crack as I walk up a flight of stairs…  And yet in many ways I feel no different to the way I did in my early 20s.

The Husband and I were watching repeats of 1980s editions of Top of the Pops (a much missed music TV programme in the UK, for those joining us from foreign climes) over the Christmas period, and marvelling at the imaginative music, awful fashion and even-more-awful miming.  As we gawped at an episode from 1982, when I was 9 years old, and reminisced about the various songs on display, the Husband remarked: "You know, these songs are nearly 35 years old…".  And you could have knocked me off the sofa.  I remembered them, not exactly as if they were yesterday, but certainly not as if they were significantly over a quarter of a century ago!

My father still lives in the house we grew up in - for many years it was a homage to the late 1960s and early 1970s; it remained that way pretty much throughout my childhood.  But over time he has redecorated and refreshed his home décor and it now boasts many mod-cons and current pieces of furniture and the like, albeit alongside some items from the past that he rightly cherishes.

He is somewhat of a hoarder (as I am), and over the years numerous treasures and artefacts that I assumed had been lost forever have been discovered squirreled away in his cupboards and attic.  Items that went so far out of fashion in the 1980s and 1990s as to be laughable, but which have now made a retro comeback.  My sister prefers an all-modern approach to homemaking, although will entertain the odd piece of antiquity.  I, on the other hand, seem hell-bent on filling my home with treasures from the past, and as such I've snaffled many of the items from Dad's home, with his blessing, and brought them here to shine on display once again…

I think this is one of my all-time favourite items that I stole from Dad's house.  I believe it's known as a ball tree, and up until recently I'd never seen another one of them.

A Ball Tree, apparently...

Apparently they're quite collectable, but this one is going nowhere… It was on display in Dad's house for years and years, and I always liked its random, atomic qualities - the wire 'branches' move ever so slightly in a passing breeze (and also get caught in curly hair, as my mop-topped Husband found out to his chagrin on a couple of occasions!).  It sits pride of place on our living room mantlepiece, alongside a couple of felt and wire birds that I made years ago.

This little beauty appeared in an early Comfy Marmalade post, when it proved itself a perfect accompaniment to a retro-inspired tin from my ridiculously extensive stationery collection.  It's a 1970s (or 1960s) wood and melamine recipe book holder.

Ironically I don't use this in the kitchen, for fear of getting some staining foodstuff on it!  Instead, I have it in the attic, in my craft room, and it does a great job holding craft books or the iPad, or generally just being on display, looking lovely.

Look at that amazing floral pattern!

This is a photo from an earlier post but I love it (and the tin)
so much that I thought it was worth including here

I do remember Dad using it regularly in my youth to prop up his recipes, and I love both its style and function and the memories it evokes.

Dad has always been a dab hand at wood-work, even as a teenager and a young man, and we have a couple of pieces of his early work in our home.  Monetary-wise I'm sure they're not worth a huge amount, but to me they are priceless.  I'm pretty sure he designed and made this table as a teenager, as part of his school coursework, as a present for his own parents.

The table that Dad made as a young man

Table: father of Comfy Marmalade.  Melamine tray: Mary Kilvert
Apple: no idea. Lampshade: Louise Brainwood.  Stool at side: B&M Bargains.

It sat in their house for decades, then transferred to Dad's house when they downsized.  Now it sits on our landing, playing host to the lamp we keep on throughout the night to give the kids some comfort (and to make sure that they don't trip over the dog sleeping on the landing on the way to the loo!).

He also made this slipper box in his youth, and again it has made its journey from my grandparents house, to Dad's house, to our house.

Dad's slipper box - the detail and carving amazes me

It also sits on the landing, next to the table, in fact.  It now houses my collection (another collection…) of scarves.  I don't wear scarves as much as I used to, not the kind housed in this box anyway.  Winter ones I wear all the time for around six months of the year - I hate drafts around my neck and our house, being the age it is, is particularly susceptible to drafts.  But the chiffon-y, highly patterned, daytime scarves I wear less and less.  And yet I can't bear to part with them.  So the kids currently get more use out of them than me, using them as bandages for dolls, reins for imaginary horses, and paths around their bedrooms.

A-top of the slipper box is a red spotty blanket that I've had for years and years.  It's a bugger for catching dog hairs as it's fluffy, but it's also incredibly warm and has comforted the children (and us) many a time when we've been feeling rough - the kind of rough when only a lie down on the sofa with a warm blanket and a good film will make you feel better.  On top of the blanket sits Mr Fox, which was the first '3-D' item I ever crocheted.  I was (and am) so proud of him, so much so that I won't let the kids play with him!

Mr Fox, and his phallic-if-you're-not-careful tail

I've also discovered that you have to be careful how you place Mr Fox when he's sitting - if his tail is between his legs it causes some hilarity for visitors…!

And there are items of my own from my past that are peppered around the house.  I've introduced you to Mr Penguin before, but I think he's worth showing you again as he's so sweet…

Mr Penguin at his haughty best

He splits into small pieces, a bit like a vertical jigsaw, and I used to have hours of fun when I was little re-mixing him into a Picasso-esque bird, trying out what order of pieces looked the most bizarre.  Now he sits, complete and in proper piece order, on our bedroom fireplace, watching over us as we sleep with his somewhat haughty expression, beak in the air.

I also thank my lucky stars that Dad decided to keep a lot of our most treasured books from our younger days.  They take pride of place in an antique bureau-come-bookcase in our living room.  The Husband found it on eBay a couple of years ago and it's a beautiful piece, with stained glass in the upper section.  The Girl and Boy use the bottom section to store their plentiful arts and crafts utensils and materials.

Our amazing bookcase-bureau sourced by The Husband

Some of the books are of their time, shall we say, and some have their spines broken and their pages close to falling out, but I see these as signs that they have been well loved and well thumbed. 

Childhood books.  Ah, the memories...

Amongst my favourites are a selection of Ladybird hardbacks, some classic Enid Blyton, and a set of Paddington Bear books illustrated by Fred Banbery.  Some of the books gather dust on the shelf, but many are now treasured and coveted by my own children, which gives me endless pleasure.

Of course, you can't keep everything from your child's early days, but do consider keeping back a box of favourite toys and books - I guarantee you that your adult child will thank you for it.

Finally, I should apologise for the slight hiatus in posts from Comfy Marmalade land.  We've had some unexpected and unwelcome health developments in our wider family circle, none of which are appropriate to delve into here; suffice it to say that times are a-changing and our family will need to do some shuffling and long thinking for a while.  I'll do my very best to post regularly but if things slip a little, do forgive me.

Bye for now xxx

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