Monday, January 10, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History:
Week 2 - Winter Memories

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History by Amy Coffin is a series of weekly blogging prompts (one for each week of 2011) that invite genealogists and others to record memories and insights about their own lives for future descendants. You do not have to be a blogger to participate. If you do not have a genealogy blog, write down your memories on your computer, or simply record them on paper and keep them with your files.

A new challenge will be listed each Saturday which should be completed by the following Friday. This week's challenge:

Week #2 – Winter Memories

What was winter like where and when you grew up? Describe not only the climate, but how the season influenced your activities, food choices, etc.
I lived in a variety of different places growing up. My father was in the Royal Navy, then later, the New Zealand Navy, and we went with him as a family whenever he went anywhere.

I’m not sure I have many winter memories as such. I am a “summer” person, and I suspect I block winters out as I dislike them so much! Give me trips to the beach over ski trips anytime!

I remember being miserably cold in Gosport, England, when I was about eight. It was a snowy winter, and I had not long been there from New Zealand.

The school I went to, “Peel Common,” wouldn’t allow pupils to stay indoors during break times. I remember being discovered hiding under a desk at lunchtime, and getting kicked outside into a snow covered playground.

I was gloved up, scarved, with a thick winter coat and hat. But still freezing. I remember sneaking into the bathroom to run my hands under the hot tap (wrong thing to do, I was told later – but nice at the time!).

When I got to about 10, we lived a more settled life, as Dad was stationed on shore in New Zealand, pretty much from the mid-1970s on.

Winters growing up in Wellington, were mainly cold, wet and windy.  Different type of cold: the type of damp cold that gets into the bones.

Nice memories from then though, were going to Petone Beach and collecting driftwood for our open fire. Dad, myself, and my siblings would make quite an outing of it, and I remember enjoying the peacefulness of beach-combing.

I loved our open fire, not so much for the physical warmth it radiated (although I do like being warm), but also the visual warmth it gave you when snuggled up in front of the telly.

I was gutted when the fireplace came out to make room for necessary walk-in pantry in the kitchen. Although we really did need the extra cupboard space – and the pantry was quickly my mother’s pride and joy.

In my late 20s, I made the trip back to the UK to do my belated-OE. My friend Jude came over to visit me at Christmas time, and we had two weeks travelling around the south of England – mainly Devon and Cornwall.

Memories filled with English-pubs with roaring fires. Another memory of climbing over the fence to Old Sarum – we’d gone to sight-see and couldn’t believe they were closed, so we decided to have a look anyway.

On that trip, I also remember visiting Tintagel Castle, and walking over the bridge in the wind. Right on the coast, and quite exposed, it was cold. But so worth the effort. Medieval history, tales of King Arthur and Merlin . . . all good stuff!

English pub grub was the best. Really basic good fare. Sunday roasts that cost next to nothing. Yorkshire puddings the size of dinner plates, with your roast dinner inside it. Toad in the Hole. Lasagne and chips (in England, you can get everything with chips if you like – having chips with lasagne sounded gross to start off with, but you got used to it!)

I lived mainly in London, while I was in the UK, although I did spend a couple of years living in Hertford, Hertfordshire. We had heavy snow one year, so bad that I couldn’t get into work. I lived on a hill, and we couldn’t even drive the car down the hill. No trains running from the train station.

Winters in London, were drab and grey. It got light late and dark early, so days were incredibly short. We used to take advantage of the deals on Teletext, to go get some winter sun. The UK was great for that . . .  you could book really cheap, late last minute deals somewhere warmer. We holidayed in places like Lanzarote, Cyprus, and Egypt (Cairo and Sharm el Sheikh).

Today's winters, I associate with the beach . . . New Zealand's winter beach. We live near some of NZ's best beaches, and walk the dog there - summer and winter. The kids look in the rock pools to see what's been turfed up in the last storm.

We eat soup, casseroles from the crockpot, and roast dinners.


  1. Welcome to the Geneabloggers family. Hope you find the association fruitful; I sure do. I have found it most stimulating, especially some of the Daily Themes.

    May you keep sharing your ancestor stories!

    Dr. Bill ;-)
    Author of "Back to the Homeplace"
    and "13 Ways to Tell Your Ancestor Stories"

  2. Your blog was fun to read - you've lived in some interesting places ---- envy you living down under tho....thanks for sharing

  3. I love your stories and descriptions. I, too, have happy memories of Tintagel Castle - although my visit was not in winter!