Spring was confirmed

Spring is definitely springing, despite the snow last week. I was very disappointed by the snow, it came down, it settled, it sat there wet and indifferent, then disappeared into slushy pools. I felt the spring the other day, the quality of the air had changed, and even though cold, it was subtly different, not a winter cold. Spring was confirmed today when I went to hang the washing on the line, went out without my shoes on and the paving slabs were warm beneath my feet. When I brought in the washing it too felt different, dried in a different way from winter dried clothes.

We have been so good and careful with trying to be economical with everything, especially our use of energy. We’ve hardly had the central heating on at all, even before Christmas when it was jolly chilly, and we sat swathed in blankets and I bought finger-less gloves so I could carry on writing. I even went back to bed, and sat up against the headboard, laptop on my knee to write.  We’ve become more hardy, much more hardy although the one thing we have relented on is warm water, although we only switch it on sufficient to shower and wash and if I need to do the laundry.

Staying in bed to keep warm reminded me of my great-grandparents, because I realise now that they must have done that too. Tom was born in early 1864, Thomas William Allen, and was an engine driver and what is known as ‘a character’. His wife Anne, was a year younger and despite the hard life they had led, lived to be 91 and 90, dying within a month or so of each other in  late winter, 1956.

I remember them in a fuzzy indistinct way, apart from one clear memory.  I had been taken to visit them and dad knocked on the door of their small terraced house. Granny Anne opened it and looked down at me, smiling in welcome.  Even though I was a tiny child I could tell that she was a little lady. I must have looked surprised because she said “You didn’t know I had feet, did you?” I must have been looking at her feet, because probably she was right, I had never seen her feet because she and Tom were always in bed when we visited. They would have been in bed to keep warm of course, no central heating of course and they probably only had a fire in the living room, and only lit it when they had enough coal to make it.

Tom and Anne had seven children, Fanny, and Maud my grandma, Walter, Sidney, Olive, little Blanche who died soon after she was born, and Grace, known as Gracie who lived until she was 95. It’s quite strange to think I knew Tom and Anne who were born  nearly 160 years ago!


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