Sunday, October 14, 2007

This weekend probably wasn't what I'd have chosen for myself, but I had a surprisingly good time. I spent most of it in Blackpool, doing a combination of wedding preparation stuff and grandparent visiting.

First the wedding. In my defence, I haven't been to a wedding since 1995, I've never been a bridesmaid, and I've never paid much attention to such matters. This kind of led me to underestimate the degree to which I'd be dragged into the planning of the wedding. Annette phoned on Friday saying she wanted to make an appointment at a dress shop, and wanted to know what time I'd be over on Saturday. I asked whether it was so she could make sure she was finished, or so I could go with her. Silly question... But it was quite fun in the end, although I didn't get to play with the big dressing up box. I was amazed that she actually made a decision in the first shop, having tried on a mere three dresses (this is a girl who'd drag us round towns for hours before deciding what she wanted to buy when she was younger), and put a deposit down on the spot. Admittedly it might have been because the timescales involved (as it is, it will only be delivered a month before the wedding and then needs to be altered), but I am feeling the strain - what if the rest of the family don't like it and blame it on me!!! Actually, it's fairly inoffensive and more traditional than I thought she'd go for, so it should be OK.

The second part of wedding preparations was the bridal fair visit this morning. Again, it's pretty much my idea of hell but it was actually lovely to spend some time with her doing girly stuff, and she's clearly so excited about it all that it's rubbing off a bit. For so long I've only really seen her when I've been visiting with my parents, rather than just us, it was surprisingly bearable. Not that I'm planning making it my Sunday morning activity of choice (and I did feel a pang of jealousy for the people running in a race as we drove up to the hotel where the fair was...)

The other part of the weekend was visiting my grandmother. I can't believe how much better she is than before she went into hospital, how cheerful she is, and how matter of fact she is about the whole dying thing. I had more fun visiting her than I have had for a long time, now she actually has the energy to hold a conversation, and isn't constantly complaining about how ill she feels.

And boy can she talk. Recently I've noticed a theme in my visits to both sets of grandparents. I don't know whether it's age, or impending weddings, but everyone seems to be really opening up and trying to pass on long-forgotten family history. We've been going through wedding albums with both sets of grandparents, and other long forgotten photographs, and I've been finding out things I never knew before.

On my dad's side there was a fantastic set of photos from India at around the time of the first world war, there some interesting snippets about people I've never met, and a sense of place from seeing the photos of my grandparents wedding reception in the garden of the house they still live in. On my mum's side, I found out more about her dad's family than I had ever known, and of course there were plenty of stories from grandma about her multitude of brothers and sisters.

But one thing that I hadn't realised is that not only did her mother come from Yorkshire originally, but I actually run past her birthplace from time to time. Apparently she was born in a cottage on the towpath in Shipley, which is somewhere I often run through, along the canal, on my long runs. It's funny that I have run past it without a clue that my great grandmother was born there. I'm sure the cottage is long gone, but next time I run out that way I'll keep an eye out for it.

My grandma's side of the family was very much based round the canal. I knew that her father had a dockyard, and transported coal along the canals. I knew that there had been a falling out about the business when he died, and that one of the boats is in the Boat Museum at Ellesmere Port (which I must get round to visiting soon). I remember when I was little, having the canal to Leeds pointed out to me, connecting the two halves of my family as effectively as the M62. This photograph is one of the family's boats.

But I hadn't realised that her mum must already have been connected to boats and canals before marrying her dad, or presumably so anyway if she was born in a towpath cottage. Maybe something to dig into a bit deeper.

I've never been one for family history, but I suppose you get to a stage where you realise that if you don't do it now, all those stories might be lost forever. So there may well be more visits to find out about the past, while she's in the mood to do it.

It's also given me an idea for something I'd like to do next summer. A while ago at work, some people did a charity bike ride from Liverpool back to Leeds along the canal. Given that the canal seems so ingrained into who I am, from the family heritage to where I do a lot of my running today, I'm getting quite taken with the idea of doing the same, and trying to explore where my family came from in the process.


I realise that I haven't written for a while, so by means of a brief update on what I've been up to - my boss is (finally) back at work after a year on maternity leave, and I'm feeling a bit funny about it. I enjoy working with her, it's just I have been working quite happily on my own and find myself getting surprisingly defensive when she asks to look at stuff I've been doing, or suggests arranging a meeting with clients I've come to think of as my own.

I haven't heard anything about the promotion application, but it can't be far off now.

I've got rid of my car and joined Whizzgo. I was always going to get rid of it at the end of the month, but Annette's plans changed so I got rid of it this weekend instead. I've actually bought a bus pass for this week because I'm meant to be tapering for Amsterdam, but I'm hoping that most of my transport round Leeds will be self-propelled, either running or on the bike, and the car club is more for emergencies and when I need to move something bulky, but we'll see how it goes.

I'm running a marathon next week. Eek! With all the family stuff that's been going on it's been hard to fit in decent long runs, and I haven't raced properly for an age so I'm not making any predictions or targets about what's going to happen. I'll turn up and see how I feel on the day, and then I've got two weeks to recover for New York. Double eek!


Blogger K said...

Good luck with the marathon!

And if you ever need any information on family history resources or whatnot... I know lots (although "Family history" is apparently in the top five searches on Google, so probably you don't need help!)

10:20 AM  

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