Wednesday, 28 November 2012

My Mother-in-Law (MiL)

More tales about MiL; some of you may recall that I have written about her previously
H's parents lived on a farm, because of this they did not travel very far and holidays were few and far between. Farming is a daily commitment, the animals have to be fed and watered, and the crops and fields attended to. Their view of the world was limited to what they knew around them. Twentyfour hour news from all over the globe did not exist, and people's lives were very localised.
If the truth be known, MiL would have loved her son to marry a local girl and live nearby in Surrey, not hitch up with someone from the middle of the country - the Industrial Midlands, and known to them from their school days as the 'Black Country'.
via wikipedia
Thorpe Cloud - Dovedale
Travelling to Derbyshire for our wedding was the longest journey they had ever made from Surrey. How surprised they were to find that the countryside was actually green and very beautiful.
Not only did H marry a girl from away, but following our wedding and honeymoon we moved to live in Glasgow, Scotland where H had been accepted at the university to do a PhD. MiL could not imagine anyone wanting to live so far away from Surrey and in such a distant cold place. Every Christmas my gift from them was a large mohair stole to keep me warm during the winter months.
Living in Scotland, it was necessary for them to visit us at some stage, and particularly after our son was born. This would prove to be a marathon undertaking involving a journey that took them 3/4 days. They travelled up in the month of June and arrived armed with their woolly jumpers and heavy sheepskin coats. Scotland was hit by a heatwave, and we spent most of our time at Loch Lomond, where MiL sheltered from the sun under the trees.
via wikipedia
Loch Lomond
MiL became very anxious and worried about the plants in their Surrey garden. If it was this hot in Scotland, whatever would the weather be like in Surrey!!! It was no use explaining that just because it was hot in Scotland it was probably raining and chilly in Surrey. To her it was black and white - the north was cold and the south was hot.
When H was just a young boy, his mother was repairing his father's working trousers. She picked them up and shook them into the open fire to get rid of the bits of straw. His father had been out shooting on the farm and had left live cartridges in his pockets. All of the family had to make a quick dive under the table to shelter from the firework display of sparks and bangs until it was all over.
MiL learnt to drive when she was in her fifties. She had  a profoundly handicapped road sense, everybody else was in the wrong but her. She took her driving test at least 8 times, finally passing much to the chagrin of the family.
When they retired, H gave his parents our VW Beetle. He wanted them to have trouble free motoring and hoped it would see them through their twilight years, which it did.  It was baby powder blue, and had not done a very big mileage. Poor old Beetle was really put through the mill, karate chops on the wings, scratches and bumps all over the place. The trouble was MiL had spent 40 years riding her bicycle in accordance with her own anarchic rules. Riding on the right instead of left, she believed that everyone else should make way for her. She was used to traffic free quiet country lanes. She took our eldest son for a walk in his pram and when I went to meet up with them I discovered her walking along the centre of the road!!! It was fortunate that she never had a serious accident. Eventually the car was returned back to us for our son's to use after H's father died and she became too ill to drive.
The VW resprayed and revamped following the removal of the scratches etc - (straw hats courtesy picmonkey) 

47 comments:

  1. What a wonderful character... but possibly sometimes a little difficult to live with, I suspect. The photos are beautiful Rosemary, and what tales that gorgeous baby blue VW could tell from its' various lives. This post has me starting my day with a big smile, thanks. Jx

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    1. Dear Janice - what could be better than to put a smile on your face - so pleased.
      She was not the easiest person to deal with, but in retrospect a real character, the kind that are forever memorable.

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  2. What a great story, Rosemary! It must have been very difficult for your 'MIL' to venture into new territories after living a fairly isolated life on the farm. Just as well her son married a girl from a different county, or she may never have had those new and enlightening experiences to ponder when she returned to normal life.

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    1. Dear Betty - I think that you are right - she certainly saw more of the country by travelling to visit her children than she did previously. We tried to take her abroad for a holiday but it was a step too far.

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  3. Hallo Rosemary!What a lovely story!I enloyed reading it!So nice memories my friend!My dad had a WV too!And all those places looking amazing!!Thanks for sharing!!Wishing you a lovely day!
    Dimi..

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    1. Dear Dimi - VW Beetles were great little cars. We still have a VW now - they are so reliable and economical on fuel too.

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  4. What a wonderful description Rosemary. It had me laughing. Love that last picture! I noticed the cross on the right in it. Are these typical English crosses? Or Scottish maybe? There's just one like it standing behind St Martins Cathedral in Ypres. I pass it often but never took a picture or even had the time to go and have a closer look.
    Bye,
    Marian

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    1. The cross is a war memorial - this one was not in Scotland but it is of a celtic design so could have been. Crosses like that are in very little village and town across the country. Also you often see crosses within churchyards too, these are usually very ancient crosses which were used as a meeting place for villagers to meet and pray before churches were built.

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    2. Thank you for the information Rosemary. Those are beautiful crosses with the celtic design.
      Bye,
      Marian

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  5. Dear Rosemary,
    A great story about Mil. I know you have posted about her before.
    I understand the lifestyle that they used to live! Except for mobile phones and some mod cons of course .life here where I am is not far from how she lived.. some of our farmers still work very hard hours. When we had our cattle work never ended.
    Love the VW.. Manel has an original one too.
    I think secretly that Mil would be very proud of you today.! I think for a lot of mom's, daughter in law's are never good enough and vice a versa.
    Fatastic photos of the area Rosemary.
    Have a great day
    val

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    1. Dear Val - you are quite right many country areas across the world still retain a very quiet rural life that seems to be untouched by modern life.
      MiL was a character, we remember these people, they put some colour into the world.

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  6. A very entertaining post. My father says that you can always tell if my mum is in town - all you need to do is stand on top of the hill that looks down onto the town and the car that's badly parked will be hers! Most of the time it will be double parked as she can't reverse! Other drivers just have to wait! My grandma went one better, she couldn't drive at all but would get lifts into town from my mum who would leave the car door unlocked so that my gran could go back to the car when she had finished her shopping - one day she only went and sat in the wrong car!
    June

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    1. Its ladies like this that give we women drivers a bad name!!!
      If I see one of my neighbours parked in the town, then I make sure that I avoid parking next to her.
      She has always got the paint touch up man working on her car!!!

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  7. Your mother-in-law sounds like the Gracie Allen type, very lovable but slightly dizzy. Her driving experiences remind me of my grandmother in Canton, Ohio who also started to drive later in life. The out-of-the-way part of Canton she lived in was characterized by wide, empty streets, and a few local shopping centers with huge parking lots, perfect for an inexperienced driver.

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    1. MiL was a character but in small doses only. I wonder how they would cope with the traffic today, back then driving was idyllic in comparison.

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  8. Dear Rosemary,
    I enjoyed reading about MiL. It made me smile and as a Surrey native myself I am well familiar with the expression 'north of the river' which was almost akin to saying foreign parts start at Calais.

    That lovely photo of Dovedale brought back many happy memories. AGA and I had a wonderful holiday up there and walked the along the valley, by the river, one lovely summer's day...
    Kirk

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    1. Dear Kirk - I think perhaps the demarcation line is a little wider today than it was back then, people are more enlightened.
      Dovedale is a lovely valley to walk. I remember when my father used to drive us there when I was young and we would have it all to ourselves.

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  9. What interesting memories of your MIL. They had a different way of life then. We think nothing of travelling huge distances to visit relatives and go on holidays.

    Your photos that illustrate your story are wonderful.
    Sarah x

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    1. Dear Sarah - you are so right - life was completely different then. They were caught on the cusp of what was happening as the world moved on, but stuck in the old ways of doing things.
      We think nothing of popping over to Norway for a long weekend to see our grandchildren.

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  10. Dear Rosemary,

    Your entertaining story of MiL reminded me of driving with my father's stepmother, in her VW. She had the scary habit of turning her head to chat with you while she was driving, then slowly veering into the wrong lane. I remember consciously deciding not to yell for fear that it would make matters even worse. One time when I was with her, my grandmother veered once again into the wrong lane, and a car drove by on the shoulder of the road, horn blasting away. My grandmother turned to me and said, "Have you noticed, dear, that EVERYBODY hates Volkswagons?"

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    1. Dear Mark - she sounds as if she would have hit it off with MiL, they would probably have got on like a house on fire.
      Do they still make characters like that today?
      H's sisters family all have lots and lots of memories and stories of her too and the various antics that she got up to.

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  11. Dear Rosemary, a wonderful story! It made me smile! I like unconventional people like your MiL was! When I was a child my dad also had a VW Beatle. We were three children and used to go on skiing holidays with it - we had the skis tied on the boot, on top we had our skiing clothes and bedlinen for 5 people. I do not know how my parents managed but I remember how exciting it was! My dad even used to travel to Sweden for business in that car (he was a woodman buying wood for paper factories and when wood in Switzerland and Germany was short he travelled to Sweden)- I do not know how long it took him but I remember him being away for a long time. It seemed normal in those days. Thanks for bringing back good memories with my wonderful dad. Christa

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    1. Dear Christa - lovely to hear from you.
      Delighted that this post has brought back so many different memories for you of your Dad's VW Beetle, and the family going skiing etc.
      It is good to reflect on times past from time to time.

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  12. I wonder why our mothers-in-law are such "characters" - at least in their dealings with we daughters-in-law? I'm not sure our husbands have similar feelings about our mothers. Whatever the answer, I say "Long live eccentrics!" The more the merrier.

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    1. The world would be a dull place without our eccentrics, and we can certainly account for quite a number of them in this country. Someone like MiL leaves a lasting impression on those that they meet which cannot be said for everyone.

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  13. It's funny but most often its the things that drive us crazy about someone that provide the fuel for the best stories about them :) I wonder what my children will say about me? (And I have no doubt, they will have plenty to say!) Thank you Rosemary for sharing some of your family's adventures with us.

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    1. As usual Rosemary you have put your perceptive finger right on the spot - sometimes she would drive us to distraction but has also given us all so many chuckles. I have tried to keep her unique spirit and personality alive, and it may be that the grandchildren will enjoy reading about her in the years to come.

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  14. I enjoy reading about your MIL - such an interesting character. I'm sure she's secretly very proud of you. Whatever her eccentricities, she has done a good job raising a son who must have turned out to be a wonderful husband and dad.

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    1. She was a very intelligent women who sadly did not get the education she deserved as happened to so many of that generation.

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  15. Dear Rosemary,
    What a pleasure it's been to read about MiL!!! I can imagine it must have been difficult to deal with her, but reading about her here, she sounds so wonderfully eccentric--perfectly suited for a P.G. Wodehouse story... Without knowing it, you've been such a help in preparing me for the many upcoming family holiday gatherings. Now, rather than being simply frustrated as usual, I'll be concentrating on being more flexible with my own difficult and eccentric family members... I have at least four who would have been great companions for MiL!!! Thank you, Rosemary--wish me luck!
    Warm regards,
    Erika

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    1. Dear Erika - Four!!! what a handful to cope with, the mind boggles. Perhaps one day you will find time to introduce us to some of them. These are the characters, however, that make the world a more colourful place for the rest of us.
      Thank you for your visit and hope that all your plans are going well for the coming season.

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  16. Dear Rosemary, growing up in a small farming community of East Germany I met many characters similar to your Mother-in-law. Oh, how they made life miserable for their Daughter-in-laws. However, only one generation later, it was their turn and life repeated itself again and again.
    Thank you for the little glimpses into your life. It is what makes you who you are.

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    1. Dear Gina - the world was a much smaller place then and life more confined. Now the whole world is at our fingertips and we have to be more open to different ideas and ways of doing things.
      Hope all is well with you.

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  17. Oh Rosemary, your MIL sounds an absolute doll. I popped back to read your other post about her, wonderful stuff. But education or not she was successful, she lived her life her way and you still have fond memories of her because of that.

    Jean xx

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    1. Dear Jean - I am glad that you read the previous post too - both of them together give a pretty good gamut of MiL and the things that she got up to. Some of course nearly drove us crazy others were just things that we would have a good laugh about. However, she had lots of good points, and it is sad that she never had the opportunity of a decent education that may be could have taken her far.

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  18. A classic mom who wonder about his boy !!! I catch it because I feel like your mother -in law . But it seems that you loved her very much.Our parents live like this ,in a small town and now that they grew up ,they are unhappy that we live far from them !
    But this is life ! Lovely memories ,my dear!
    Olympia

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    1. That is right Olympia - everything has moved on now. Village communities used to be the same year after year, but now the world has become a smaller place. Mums used to like to have their sons living around the corner, but that doesn't happen now. Most of my friends have at least one child, if not two living in a different country. When H and I moved to live in Scotland we were pioneers at that time as most of our generation stayed in the town where they were born and went to school.

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  19. I really enjoyed this post, Rosemary. Something different from what I normally read :)

    Reminds me of my mom, who is a bit like MiL.....set in her ways. I would have never guessed MiL took on driving in her 50s. Bravo!

    Cheers,
    Loi

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    1. Dear Loi - I expect that your mother is a bit set in her ways because I think you said you are one of 12 children. She must have led a hectic life caring for you all when you were growing up and that would limit the time she would have to expand her own horizons.
      A lot of the problems probably occur due to the generation gap.

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  20. Your Mother-in-law was quite a character. I imagine that she had a hard time overcoming her aversion to travel, but the draw of a son and grandson must have been too hard to resist. I loved my time in Derbyshire in September and found it quite beautiful - both the rugged side and the charming village side.

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    1. I am pleased that you enjoyed your visit to Derbyshire, as a child I expect I took it all for granted and appreciate it more now that I am older and live away.
      Yes, I think that you are right. That generation were caught on the cusp of things changing rapidly - transport, communications and peoples accessibility in travelling to other countries. I think that they probably found it difficult to adapt to such big changes.

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  21. Dear Rosemary
    We heard at TV that the weather is very bad there .I hope that you are well and do not affect this fact !
    Olympia

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    1. Thank you very much for your concern Olympia - there was flooding in the country last week, but not where I am living. I live 750 feet high, but there was some flooding in the valley below where I live, some cottages were flooded by a stream. Now the weather is very bright and sunny but chilly.

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  22. What a lively and affectionate portrait of your characterful mother-in-law, Rosemary. The world was very small and circumscribed for many people back then. Indeed almost all my childhood was lived within a 5 mile radius of home and it sounds like life was very similar for H's parents. I chuckled at the picture of them bringing winter clothes on a summer holiday to Scotland. :-)

    Incidentally my mother (very much of the same generation) also learned to drive in her 50s and took 7 or 8 attempts before passing her test. They would probably have got on well together. :-)

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    1. It is quite something to realise how much life has changed in just one generation. How many people now live down the road from their parents, or in the same village as their grandparents? - not many I should imagine, and yet that is how it used to be.
      Parents did try to dominate and control what happened - not any more. That is as it should be, young people need to go out into the world and find their own feet but knowing that their parents are there in the background supporting them if the need arises.

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  23. Hello Rosemary

    You told the story of MIL so well, I could visualize her and found myself laughing several times, following the fireworks and her wheeling the pram in the middle of the road. I shall miss this age group when they pass on. One finds individuals like MIL in rural Ireland and they highly amuse. One local farmer was transferring cattle from one field to another and requested the assistance of a neighbouring batchelor. When I asked how it went he said: "Ah that fella is a useless helper; sure I'd be better off with a photograph of him". Their thoughts and ways are so original.

    Thank for the story

    Helen xx

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    1. Lovely tale Helen - I am not surprised that in rural Ireland these characters can still be found. What a huge generational change has taken place over the last 30/40 years. I love the colourful language of your kith and kin - I am sure you know that the average ordinary Irish person has a far bigger vocabulary than the average English person.

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“You can't stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you - you have to go to them too.”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh