It was always an event when my nan came to visit, all the way from London on the coach to the sunny new town of Skelmersdale near Liverpool. We all looked forward to seeing her but we knew we had to be on our best behaviour. Tidy the house, clean the bedrooms, even make sure the drawers were neat. Sometimes she was accompanied by my Aunty Phyl. Then we always knew we would have some fun. Aunty Phyl was my great aunt, my Nan's sister. She was different to her sister as it was possible to be, joyful mischievous and never disapproving, encouraging our childish daftness even if others were frowning. She had never married, my mum tells me that she once 'had a young man' but that he died during the war.
One summer when they were visited us, we sat in the garden, crying with laughter at the ridiculous conversation we were having. It had something to do with the fact that her name was Felecia Ivy which started it. We must have thought this was a joke but years later when looking at family history stuff I found out it was true. Another time we were at Nan's house and she as she always enjoyed dancing she decided to teach us the Charleston. It was a while before I realised she wasn't crossing her knees over when she danced, just moving her hands. That afternoon she also tried to teach me to crochet, but that unfortunately failed miserably.
She was a skilled seamstress and maker of many things including sherry trifle and Christmas pudding. She helped my mum make her wedding dress and, she and my mum encouraged us as teenagers to make our own clothes. I am sure we made some fabulous creations and I blame her for my tendency to hoard beautiful fabrics.........just in case.
At the age of 107 she still lived in her own home, went out with friends and sometimes to see the football at Milwall. I think of her now as this year as I made my first Christmas pudding and finally conquered my fear of crochet, although I still can't find a use for that.