A handmade cottage_ my real life heroes + my mothers remarkable story and the liverpool blitz

Mothers Day is almost upon us, and with the recent celebration of International Women’s Day I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the incredible women who are responsible for my being here on this earth. The best sloe gin recipe One of these women (my mother) I’ve been blessed enough to know, while the others, who are still very much a part of my tapestry, passed away long before my time. Gordons sloe gin recipe These women have an incredible story to tell which I’d like to share with you today.


Simple sloe gin recipe It is a sad but uplifting story which features three women from three generations, and whenever I find myself struggling to cope with whatever it is that life is throwing at me, I think of these women and I always find courage. Make sloe gin recipe The story begins in Liverpool in 1941 ….

My mother Valerie May was born during World War II on Valentines day, in 1941. Sloe gin recipe gordons Her mother Selina worked in the local ammunition factory making shells. Dried sloe gin recipe Selina was only 18 when she gave birth to my mother. Kilner sloe gin recipe She had no husband to speak of, so my mother was deemed ‘illegitimate’. Sloe gin fizz cocktail recipe In those days such circumstances were severely frowned upon, and were simply brushed under the carpet never to be spoken of again. Sloe gin recipe sipsmith As a result my mother never knew her father and no one ever mentioned him. Sloe gin recipe almond I would love to have known more. Sloe gin and tonic recipe Was it love? or just a brief affair? The closest my mother ever got to him (unbeknown to her) was when she was a little older … Quick sloe gin recipe she was scolded for playing in a particular road – and it was only years later she discovered the reason being was that her father lived there, along with his family.

Selina lived in a small terraced house on Peter Road, in Walton, along with with her siblings and parents; May and Fredrick. Sloe gin recipe uk On May 4th, 1941, as the family were settling down for the evening the air raid sirens began. Sloe gin recipe river cottage Selina’s mother was in hospital at the time with fractured legs, so Selina gathered up 3 month old Valerie in her arms, and together with her father Fredrick they made their way to the nearby shelter. How to make sloe gin recipe But as they were leaving the house the adjacent road was bombed by a parachute mine, and my mother was thrown from her mothers arms. Sloe gin recipe hugh fearnley whittingstall She was later discovered amongst the rubble, a good distance away from the house … Sloe gin recipe jamie oliver alive. Recipe for sloe gin river cottage But Fredrick, and her mother Selina, with whom she had only spent three months of her life, never survived the impact.

After the bombing, chaos ensued. Sloe gin recipe bbc May, Selina’s mother heard the news that her husband and child had been killed whilst lying in her hospital bed. Sloe gin fizz drink recipe I still can’t imagine what that woman must have gone through in her hospital bed, as this was not her first loss. Sloe gin fizz recipe egg white May had bore 13 Children, and had been married twice. Recipe for sloe gin jamie oliver She was no stranger to hardship having endured two husbands who had been heavy handed to say the least. Sloe gin jam recipe Sadly it wasn’t unheard of in those days for men to keep their wives in line with the use of physical violence. Jamie oliver sloe gin recipe It was tolerated, and people turned a blind eye. Best sloe gin recipe ever But May had also already lost 7 of her children to childhood diseases and some of her older children from her first marriage to the war. Sloe gin ice cream recipe And now she had lost her husband, her daughter, and as far as she was aware – her granddaughter. Bbc sloe gin recipe After a couple of days in hospital May was approached by one of the nurses. Sloe gin jelly recipe The nurse said “I thought you should know May, some babies have just been brought it … Sloe gin hugh fearnley whittingstall recipe you never know, might be worth a look just in case one of them is your Valerie?” May did look, and as luck would have it my miracle of a mother was staring right back at her.

My mother was incredibly blessed that day. Recipe for sloe gin fizz drink Not only had she miraculously survived a bombing but she had been found by someone who loved her dearly. Recipe for a sloe gin fizz Perhaps May was blessed too, for now she had a reason to live. Recipe for sloe gin or vodka All the other babies that hadn’t been claimed were put into foster care or sent to orphanages, and my mother could easily have been one of them. Sloe berry recipes So May, a then 56 year old woman who had endured as much loss as one woman could – took my mother home, and brought her up as her own.

So my mum grew up in Liverpool under the loving, watchful eye of May. How to make sloe gin fizz recipe She never searched for her father because she never felt like she needed too. Damson gin recipe hugh fearnley whittingstall She did search much later in life but all leads soon went cold. Best sloe gin cocktail recipe She was curious about him but wasn’t particularly desperate to know him, as she never felt like there was hole that needed filling. Dried sloe berries gin recipe May never spoke about Valerie’s father and she didn’t speak of Selina much either, possibly because it was simply too painful for her to bear. Sloe gin jelly dessert recipe My mum grew up with family around her as May’s remaining children also lived nearby and they were all close. Blackcurrant and sloe gin jam recipe My mum saw through the swinging sixties in her prime as a teenager. Mary berry sloe gin recipe Mods and rockers dominated the streets (she was a mod!) and she partied regularly at the now-famous Cavern Club, chatting away to the cloakroom girl Cilla Black (then Priscilla White of course). Sloe gin fizz recipe uk She’d dance the night away to some up and coming band called The Beatles who were only a few years away from world domination … Damson gin recipe river cottage in fact later she was once proposed to once by a fella who looked just like Paul McCartney, but thankfully she turned him down, and married my dad.

Although my mum was very lucky to have been taken in by my May, life wasn’t easy for her. Sloe gin fizz recipe grenadine They didn’t have much money, and while her friends were acting like normal youngsters, my mum needed to earn enough money to support them both as May was an older woman by then. Recipe for sloe gin using dried sloes May had worked and cared for my mum all her life which can’t have been an easy task for a woman her age but my mum didn’t want for anything. Recipe for sloe gin delia May was a keen crafter too … Recipe damson gin although crafting was more about necessity in those days rather than pleasure – my mum remembers May making rag rugs in the front of the parlour fire when winter was drawing in. Recipe sloe gin collins I still have grandma’s old crochet shawl in the cupboard, it’s close to tatters, but it’s hers and I love it. Recipe sloe gin jamie oliver Now May was older and her health was in decline, so it was my mums turns to find strength enough to carry them both, which she did, willingly.

May didn’t like any of my my mums boyfriends. Damson gin recipe delia smith Not a single one … Damson gin recipe waitrose not until my dad came along (who was a motorbike riding rocker!). Sloe gin cocktail recipes uk They met on a dance floor in Belgium where they were both on holiday at the time. Sloe gin recipe waitrose My dad had a few too many drinks and all he could remember was a lovely woman in a white dress, and once he arrived back in London he discovered her details on a beer mat inside his pocket. Damson gin recipe bbc He contacted my mother and went to visit her in Liverpool. Kilner sloe gin recipe card After three visits, they were engaged, and they’ve been happily married and the best of friends ever since. Damson gin recipe uk After the birth of their first child, my parents, together with May, moved to the South of England to a riverside village called Roydon. Recipe for making sloe gin They lived there in a large static caravan while my dad earned enough money to buy their first home, which he did soon after. Sloe gin recipe 70cl bottle One of my favourite stories about May happened there. Best recipe for sloe gin May was an elderly lady then, she didn’t go out much, preferring to sit by the window and watch the world pass by. Recipe for sloe gin My parents returned one day to find her sitting by the window crying – when my mum asked her what was the matter she said she had spent the whole day watching a a single flower open and bloom and it was the most beautiful thing she’d ever seen – she never had a garden in Liverpool.

More than anything I wish I known these women. Sloe gin fizz recipe I looked just like Selina as a child (that’s her pictured below) and my brother looks just like her as an adult. Recipe sloe gin I consider myself immensely lucky to have had such women in my life, and even though they’re no longer here they still inspire me; with their courage and strength, but also with their capacity to show tenderness, compassion and unconditional love. Best sloe gin recipe I made this pillow for my mother (top right) on mothers day a few years back. Recipe for sloe gin fizz It was inspired by my late cousin Rita – who also made a pillow for my mum (top left) several years before, on which she embroidered a picture of Selina, the year she died, along with the words ‘A mothers love is always with you.’ Rita was the daughter of Selina’s Brother Arthur (pictured below) but Rita deserves a whole blog post to herself, so I’ll tell you all about her another day.

Well I hope you found that story as inspiring as I always do. Sloe gin recipe 70cl We often read about incredible women achieving incredible things, but it’s always worth recognising and celebrating the remarkable stories that transpire from the everyday lives of our own loved ones. Sloe berry gin recipe You’ll be surprised how many heroes you already know … Easy sloe gin recipe these women are certainly mine.

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