An interesting week having my sister Anne-louise around - no kids, other family or dogs - been years since we have spent time together like that. Didn't manage all the things we had planned but..
Unpacking her bags - yes I mean bags (vegetables from her greenhouse all the way from Plymouth) - first up was her photos. Looking at the pictures of my daughter Jaycee who died wasn't a bad as I expected - sort of mentally tuned myself so I didn't get upset. Then the photos of us when we were growing up brought back so many memories. Our mother had written the dates on them all, without I wouldn't have guessed our ages. One of us, myself, Anne-louise and Jean all dressed up for our ballet classes - couldn't stop laughing. Can still remember the etiquette lessons and those classes - the 5 basic positions, first position, second position and all that - arabesques, plies, learning to stand on the blocks and the pointe work - toes hurt for days. Another - Rose Queen day, what a plonker I looked with the crown thing stuck on my head - can still remember dancing round the May pole.
One thing I have to say about our mother be we were all impeccably dressed. She knitted and sewed everything. I was about 5 when I got my first sewing machine - all my dolls were dressed in mini copies of what we wore. Learning to knit was easy - knit one purl one and drop stitch etc - must admit I haven't knitted a thing since 1973 though I've always had a sewing machine and more recently an over-locker.
Two unexpected photos of me on my first birthday - don't know why Anne-louise had them. Wouldn't have recognised myself - the only identifiable marking is they say Kensington on the back so they have to be me. They called it being chubby back then, I call it just plain fat.
Tuesday the scaffolding in this property came down - Anne-louise was a bit taken back by seeing men walking passed the window while she was half dressed. Her first reaction when they had gone was to look at the sad looking front window flower boxes.
Tuesday also was a visit to our cousin's son Rod from Australia who lives not far from here - the one who works in the TV industry ( photo above). Had a fantastic time - not all relations one takes to but he is an exception - such a witty young man - surprisingly he seemed to enjoy the visit as much as we did - well when you are young, to have two oldies around for hours can be tiresome. All the family tree stuff he finds as fascinating as well. Asked how out of all the places in London he ended up in Islington he just said when he arrive it felt like home - thinks it's so odd that his great grandfather Claude Wooldridge was born just down the road from where he lives (Liverpool Road) 1891 and his great, great, gran Blanche Young1866 walked the same streets. Suppose the same thing applies to me I can't really explain how from Africa I ended up in Islington either.
As expected he has a huge collection of photos on his high tech computer system. Found so many old family photos - was difficult to decide which ones we wanted. He has since zapped the whole lot over to me - isn't technology marvelous.
From his house of course Anne-louise wanted to see the house grandfather was born and the family church. Coming out of the church on the Holloway Road side noticed Ronalds Road where grandfathers brother was born - we just had to have a look. Have to agree with her when you think of the area back then it was horse-drawn carriages and tram lines not busy roads full of cars. On the return journey showed her the pillars which used to be the entrance to the old Tufnell Park estate. The manor (now demolished) stood on the site of the Holloway Odeon.
All that walking we were shattered so Wednesday after a rainy night we decided to cut the front hedge and tidy up the flower area. Usually takes me ages - the cutting is simple but the clearing up is so tiring - need to rest more these days as I'm doing it so takes me much longer than it used to. With two people it was so much quicker. She is more experienced than me in knowing what is what, which plants should grow where and how to treat them.
Almost finished when the visitors to the flat downstairs arrived with their children. I've never told her anything about the problems I have with them. It is so difficult to explain - it's so meaningless and she is a worrier. The smallest thing can trigger off a verbal onslaught - I'm so used to it now I just mentally switch off - goes in one ear and out the other. She couldn't get over what she called their aggressive behaviour as if other people don't have small children - she was quite put out by it all.
Don't know how we managed it but later we went to Kentish Town - she can't handle the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street. A family with all kind of allergies she found what she was looking for at the orgnanic shop. Couldn't get her out of the Garden Centre - thought I was bad enough - least we bought some pansies for the window boxes and a proper fancy tall pot for the indoor plants now on the stairs. Back home before she even had a cup of tea the window boxes were sorted and the two indoor plants were professionally repotted.
Thursday was just chilling - I had an appointment. She spent time scanning all the photos for me. Evening was a visit to my son Sule - a long journey now they have moved into their new house - spent hours just chin wagging. He sent us home in a taxi becasue we brought back some of their empty packing boxes for her to take back to Plymouth - would never have thought about it myself but they cost a bomb and she hates waste so everybody obliged.
Friday it was a day in the garden - she was quite determined to sort it out. Least I have all the correct soil for each type of plant and plant food. She had me dizzy the way she set about refreshing all the pots and cutting back the shrubs that have disease on them. Had my hand on my heart with way she cut them back so small. She gave me some pointers so the tree bushes don't grow so big.
Saturday she was off in a taxi - was going to go with her but the tube line was down for weekend maintence. Several hours later she phoned - back home safe boxes and all.