In memory of my Grandmother

Wheathampstead (Photo: Westlodge-Porters End)

I’ve been thinking for a week now how to write this post, or even if I should write a post on this at all? In the end I decided that as this blog has always been a personal one, one where I don’t just talk about recipes I have cooked or food’s I have tried; it’s also a place where I talk about things which have been going on in my life. I have talked about starting out in my internship and then my freelance career and this is another life changing moment, one far more close to home and more emotional than others I have looked at before.

I have talked quite a lot about my Grandmother since I started this blog. She has been the inspiration behind so many of the techniques which I use when cooking and in the kitchen. She was the reason why I don’t have a microwave, have very few ready meals and why I still insist on whisking things like cake batter by hand when I can. She was where my love of cooking started and I talked about this recently in my post on her 90th birthday cake (a lovely Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake).

I have been away from the blog for a few days as she passed away last weekend, an event in my life which marks the end of an era. Apart from my younger brother my immediate family has gone with my Grandmother passing. I grew up at her apron strings watching her bake cakes and make delicious roast dinners with proper Yorkshire puddings! (not Aunt Bessies from the freezer).


Wheathampstead Station circa 1930’s (Photo: disused-stations)

I know that this could come across as a bit of a downer of a post but if there was one thing she loved it was life! And at 90 years old she had lived a full one leaving behind my uncle, 5 grandchildren (including me and my brother)  and 5 great-grandchildren! She was born between the wars in Wheathampstead, a small village in Hertfordshire; though in her adult life she moved down the road to Harpenden she always belonged in Wheathampstead. Back in World War II, as a young woman she worked for the railway in her small village and organised the shipping of goods across the Atlantic in convoys. She told me often about how she ran an office of people at just 16. Later whilst working for the Commonwealth Agricultural Bureau she was one of the first people in the UK to use a computer at work, and the very early days of email, when most people didn’t know it existed or what you did with is she was there at the cutting edge. 

Day trips and holidays

If that wasn’t enough she later when she retired, she and my grandfather were landed with two young children of 9 and 3 to raise (me and my brother). As with everything in life she just took it on and didn’t complain for a minute. She made sure we grew up going to the galleries and museums of London and enjoying day’s by the seaside in Brighton. We spent many day’s out at the Science or Natural history museums in Kensington or seeing the latest exhibition at the Royal Academy of Art, one of her favourite places in London. 

I have so many happy memories of her, holidays on the Isle of White through my childhood and into early adulthood. She loved that tiny island just off the English coast and it’s easy to see why.

Yarmouth harbour, Isle of Wight

Yarmouth harbour, Isle of Wight (Photo: Visit Isle of Wight)

Throughout her retirement she stayed active and fiercely independent, till the last couple of years. She still went to church on a Sunday and her womens groups, worked as a greater at St Albans Abbey a couple of times a year and above all keeping busy, never letting age or ill-health get the better of her. How many of us will still be going out on the bus and doing our own shopping in our late 80’s? Even at the end when things were quite difficult she still had that same good spirit.  

I am sure I will talk a bit more about her over the next few months and I will be digging out the old cook books as I go through things. Somewhere in her house is also my Great-Grandmothers cook book with many of her own recipes which I hope to find and try out sometime.

Thanks for reading this and sharing a little of her memory with me.


8 responses to “In memory of my Grandmother

  1. Pingback: 2013: A year in food | russellskitchen·

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