Who could we have been (life changing moments)

In the movie Sliding Doors, we see the parallel lives that could have played out for the main character, depending on whether she catches the train or not. I sometimes catch myself thinking about the alternative lives I could have lived, had I not changed my course.

In these photos, my life path felt pretty set, I was a teacher. It wasn't just my career choice, or job, it really felt like it formed part of who I really was. It suited my personality perfectly, and I enjoyed it. Although it is no doubt an extremely challenging and demanding job, I didn't find it stressful as such. It felt right for me, and the path ahead was clear.

Then, slowly, slowly, I started to feel it wasn't, and I jumped ship. The certainty that I'd initially loved about teaching as a career suddenly felt claustrophobic and limiting.

I think about the alternative me, still teaching, and who she would have been.

Similarly, I often wonder who I would have become had my Dad not died suddenly when I was 15.

If he'd been alive, he would have been 59 today. He was a mere 42 when he died. That feels so young now that I'm just ten years younger than that. 

8 months after he died, I wrote in my diary that I would now never fulfil my potential. The grief was too heavy, and I started missing school to wander about on my own. My exams were happening, and I just had no focus. If he hadn't had died, would the alternative me have achieved more academically? That sounds like I did badly at school, I didn't, and I eventually did A levels and university, but what potential was lost along the way? 

Would I have been a lesser or weaker person if I hadn't survived grief? I'd even be known by a different name had my Dad lived, as I changed my name my deed poll a few months after he died. Would the alternative me, with a father be very different to the one I became?


Happy Birthday Dad

What did you want to be when you were younger?

It was my Dad's birthday this month (he sadly died when I was a teenager) and my Mother commented that he would have been surprised to see me running my own business now. She said that he'd thought he was raising a poet!

It got me thinking about our childhood dreams about our future selves.


I know that when I was about 6-8 years I wanted to a pig farmer. As a city girl, perhaps this great unknown country life style seemed more exotic to me?!

From about 10-13 years I wanted to be an author. I wrote stories and poems, and would endlessly read them to my Dad over the telephone when he called each night. Even as I aged, and stopped writing (as seems to be the case with many teens) I would read poetry books to him from books we'd buy together for that very purpose. I think poetry offered a confused teen a way of knowing I wasn't alone; all of these feelings and emotions had been felt before, throughout the history of time.

As a teenager, I was pretty directionless. I had little ambition past getting a boyfriend (!) and organising drinks for the weekend (sshhhhhh). I did well at school, but didn't want to go to college or university. My ambition (of which I now have by the bucket load) developed later, and I remind myself of this when I hear of other young people struggling with direction. There's no rush.


Gift ideas for bloggers

For Fathers' Day I wanted to get my step Dad a mug about being a blogger. Yup, he's a blogger, and perhaps just as dedicated to it as I am to mine! He blogs about the French Resistance in French (but Google translate does work!). I actually found it tricky to find, but eventually I tracked one down!

The 'Go Away I'm Blogging' mug is from The Literary Gift Company. I was surprised I couldn't find more of them to be honest, so here are some of the other blogger gifts I stumbled across, just in case you have a blogger in your life.

You could buy this Blogger's Planner, which you download and print off from Etsy.

Don't like the blogger enough to get a gift? How about just a card? ;-)

How about a 'never read the comments' necklace? 

A blogger's tshirt? This one could warn potential businesses of online reviews!

I was actually really surprised at how few gifts I could find - a potential niche market for someone to tap into I think!

Do let me know if you sell/make anything suitable!

Did the Victorians have more fun than us? - Inventing the Victorians (Book Review)

Yesterday I started reading a new book, Inventing the Victorians by Matthew Sweet, and I tweeted some facts as I read. Lots of people wanted to know more, so I thought I'd share here!


The blurb:

'Was Queen Victoria amused? Did Victorian ladies really ''lie back and think of England'' In Inventing the Victorians, Matthew Sweet argues that our nineteenth-century forebears were more liberated and radical than we believed.''

Delving into such Victorian passions as advertising, interior decoration, sex scandals and serial killers, Matthew Sweet shows us that we are not so far removed from the Victorians as we would like to think.

The introduction opens with, 'Suppose that everything we think we know about the Victorians is wrong.' Instantly I was hooked!

The book aims to challenge the stereotypes we have of the Victorians. We may presume they were racist, but they elected Britain's first Asian Members of Parliament. We believe that they were strictly religious, but the numbers that attended church fell just as sharply as they do today. We remember the graphic Victorian violence, but apparently their crime figures were lower (I would imagine this to be perhaps be linked to reporting figures?) and we think of them as purists, yet we have tons of evidence proving this false.

I am only up to chapter two, but here are some factoids that tickled my fancy so far:

Victorians are responsible for: Fax machine, junk mail (via telegram), mass-produced porn, DIY, feminism, plastic, fish and chips, sex ads, spin-doctoring, heated curling tongs and much much more. 

Much of what we believe to be widespread common belief during the Victorian era has come from books published at the time. It would be like taking The Rules, and and saying that everyone alive during this period viewed relationships in this way. Can we really use self help books and sex manuals to judge a whole society?

Chapter One is titled 'The Sensation Seekers' and focuses on the Victorians love of excitement, risk and spectacle. It delves into the life and career of Blondin (born 1824) who infamously walked across a wire over Niagra Falls. He didn't just cross it.....he went onto crossing it with a wheelbarrow, with a man over on his back, blindfolded, on a bicycle and dressed in costume. Oh and he also put a lion into the barrow once too.

Chapter Two is 'The First Picture Show' which talks about the birth of film. Modern myth tells us that when the first film of a steam train in 1895 it resulted in fainting, screaming and a mass fleeing of the cinema. Matthew Sweet challenges this with some pretty rational arguments against it! The Victorians were used to 'magic', surprises and excitement in much the way we are. We didn't scream when the first 3D film came out did we?

Between 1896 and 1915 there were 56 film adaption of Dickens, 21 based on novels of Edward Bulwer-Lytton, 17of Rip Van Winkle, 6 Jane Eyres, 10 Uncle Tom Cabins........

In the chapter he includes some directions to find nudges to our Victorian film past on the buildings that surround us....a film buff would love to follow his little tour!

My final factoid for the day.......apparently Oscar Wilde was (sexually) a fairly typical Victorian man.

Can't wait to keep reading! Do let me know if you buy the book and read it too!



My Little Retro Home


I have a little flat, so space is quie tight. You have to be a bit creative in making it look nice when you are limited in your display space.

This little random shelf is in my kitchen, and is above the fridge. It now is a little vintage display space, which makes my little kitchen feel like mine!


My bathroom is also quite compact, and I have used bright turquoise and pink to make it bright (Vegas Flamingo is my inspiration). As there isn't much space, I decided to use the actual toilet as display space. I actually love having these vintage cats there! They are super kitsch.


The cats are actually my Grandad's (you can see photos of my grandad in the 1940s here). I chose them from his house after he died. I believe I was ten years old. I'm quite impressed by my taste as a young child! They used to live on his gas fire.

My final little glimpse of my flat isn't retro or vintage, but has been something I've wanted to do for ages! I'm an ex-librarian, and in my library I used colour coding regularly when arranging and displaying books. Now I finally have colour coded book shelves! Yey!


My Grandma in the 1930s, and other vintage women and weddings

This is my Grandma Kay, in 1943, during the war, at Kew Gardens. I love her jacket. She was aged about 26.

 This is a wedding, where my Grandma is a bridesmaid (she is the main bridesmaid you can see). Date unknown.





These must have been close friends, but we don't know who they are. No date either.


This lovely lady on the right is also an unknown, but was fixed in the album, so obviously was well-thought of by my Grandad. Her poodle hair is awesome.









Here is another one, stuck in the album, but don't know who she is.


There are lots of other photos of my Grandparents in the 1930s and 1940s in my previous posts.

My Grandparents in 1930s/40s - fabulous vintage photos of my family

I have previously posted about my collection of vintage photos of my family and my Grandad's experience of World War II but had to rely on using a camera to take photos of photos.

I have just fixed the scanner, and so have been scanning some photos in. Most are different from the previous photos I posted, but some may well overlap. The quality is much better though.

Here are a selection I have scanned tonight.

 This is my Grandad Doug and his mother Harriet. I guess this is about 1918. He was born in 1917.

 We think this is my Grandad Doug in the boat. It has a lovely message on back but no date.

This photo is from 1932, making my Grandma about 19 (in the middle) and my Grandad about 15 (on the right). It was a church camp they regularly attended, and many of the pictures are of them mucking about and dressing up.


Here is Doug aged 15, and his older brother Harry (on the right).


This is one of my favourites of my Grandma Kay - she is in the white beret and the cup. This is at the camp in 1933. A group of teenagers hanging out having a laugh. My Grandad is hidden behind hhe front girl.





I so wish this picture had survived in better quality. It is both my Grandad Doug and his Brother Harry striding down a 1930s street. There is no exact date.




Going through these albums, now I have no Grandparents to ask, really creates a feeling of connection to the past. Fascinating.