Family tree

Sapper Holland – Lest we forget #RemembranceSunday2018

Thinking of my great grandfather Frederick Arthur Holland from #Weymouth who died during #WW1 #RemembranceDay2018 when my wonderful Nannie Elsie Leah Reynolds was just 4 years old 😭❤️😭

My great grandfather Sapper Holland died aged 32, the same age as my sons are now, my grandmother Elsie was 4, almost the same age as my grandson Felix is now. It just doesn’t bear thinking about😱

My grandmother grew up in very reduced circumstances with her mother working 3 jobs just to provide enough food to eat.

And despite being a fun loving and funny person always carried sadness in her heart from her father being taken away from her at such a young age 😭❤️😭 #WW1 #RemembranceSunday2018

Turning pain into joy, 8 years on from the day our brother left us

Awesome trip to Hampshire for our brother Stephen's memorial day yesterday. Can't believe it's 8 years already since my little bro went. Glad that we can now celebrate his life and our own lives now ❤️ Thanks to my awesome sister Sarah, Daisy, Leah and Lesley and family for making it such a special day. Special mention for amazing great aunt Molly now 97 years old ❤️

Loved visiting our gorgeous Nan Elsie Leah Reynold's grave, gravestone finally now in place and leaving some flowers 🌺 Also loved visiting the church where Sarah, Stephen and I were christened inthe 1960s and having a good chat with the vicar who kindly took a pic of us 🙏🏼 #turningpainintojoy ❤️

“Raymondos” – an exercise in writing dialogue – Arvon non-fiction course 2017 at Totleigh Barton

“Raymondo’s” – original version

My nan was great fun to be around. When my brother and sister were small she used to pretend that they were top hairdressers in their salon called “Raymondos” she would get all of her hairdressing accoutrements out of the cupboard and Sarah and Stephen would do her hair for hours on end. Or so it seemed. I would be sitting on the sofa watching and chatting and reading a book. Probably something by Enid Blyton.

Nan had loads of hairdressing paraphernalia: grips, clips, Vitapointe cream (which I can smell now as I write about it), curlers, pins, brushes, combs, setting lotion and papers. I must have joined in too sometimes as I can remember putting Vitapointe on my nan’s hair and then brushing her hair with a bristle brush. It makes me smile to think of those times.

*****

“Raymondo’s” – dialogue version

I was at my nan’s flat with my brother and sister, Sarah and Stephen who were around 5 years old, playing hairdresser’s with my nan.

“Now Raymondo, I’d like a shampoo and set. Please give me a lovely hairstyle, I’m off to a ball tonight in my best frock and I want to look beautiful.”

“Yes, nannie. I’ve got the brush, I’m going to brush your hair and make you look lovely.”

“Now Cynthia, can you please help Raymondo with the setting lotion and papers”

“Yes nannie. Raymondo here you are.”

Sarah picks up the packet of papers and the setting lotion ready to pass them to Stephen.

“Can I have the lotion please Cynthia” Stephen said with a giggle, delighted to be calling his twin sister by a made up name.

“Here you are Raymondo” Sarah replied and handed over the lotion, accidentally squirting some of it over nannie’s dress.

“Oh no! Raymondo, Cynthia, you are such naughty hairdressers!”

I looked up from the sofa and we all burst into laughter.

*****

Many thanks to Arvon Totleigh Barton, Lois Pryce and Sukhdev Sandhu for a wonderful week.

 

Sydney Ambury – Royal Northumberland Fusilliers – WW1 and WW2 military service 

I’ve found this letter about my great grandfather Sydney Ambury’s (1885-1944) army service record and his obituary. 

 I’d love to understand more about what he did and what it meant. If you can help at all please comment below. 

  

I only discovered a few years ago that Sydney was born Solomon Benjamin Hamburg in Spitalfields the 8th child of Dutch Jewish parents Benjamin Hamburg and Flora Salomon Rina. Previous to then I and the rest of my family had no idea that he was Jewish or that he came from London. 

At 17 Sydney enlisted in the army in Hounslow and at 18 started serving in the British Army in Newcastle. 

I would love to know anything that anyone can shed light on in terms of my family history and his military service. 

Thanks for any information you can share 😀👍

Finding my ancestors via DNA testing

I’ve been interested in my family tree for as long as I can remember. I grew up with a small family and always longed for more relatives, some cousins to play with. 

When I was pregnant with my youngest daughter 12 years ago I started looking into my family tree, and got stuck on one great grandfather Sydney Ambury. I couldn’t find where he was born. 

Fast forward a few years to 2011. I found an article linking Sydney Ambury to Solomon Hamburg, son of Benjamin and Flora Hamburg. Benjamin and Flora had come to London from Amsterdam in the 1800s, lived in Spitalfields, got married in the Great Synagogue in London and had 10 children. I found out that I’m one eighth Jewish. I’d had absolutely no idea about that, and I have probably hundreds of Jewish cousins 😃  

Here’s the blogpost I wrote about meeting up with the first of many of my Jewish cousins Jon and Phil Marx. Jon has put together a massive chart detailing all of our relatives going back for generations He also organised a wonderful reunion at Sandy’s Row synagogue in Spitalfields where 3 of our ancestors were married. 

Today I thanks to my friend Kristie Wells I received a DNA testing kit from Ancestry.com.  

I spat in the plastic tube added the stabilising fluid, sealed and packaged it up ready to send for analysis.   

I’m very excited to find out what the results are. Just 2 weeks and I’ll find out where my ancestors lived 500 to 1200 years ago and get connected to lots of 1st to 5th cousins. I’m so excited! Watch this space for the results…  

Osteo arthritis – can I stop it from getting worse? 

I’ve had stiffness in my fingers, hands and feet for some time now, and my right index finger has a swollen joint. My doctor diagnosed osteo arthritis and said there’s nothing I can do to stop it, it is caused by “over-use”. Looking at my fingers I can see that my right index finger is the worst and my right middle finger looks like it is starting to swell.

My left hand

 

My right hand

 

I find this very depressing. I’m 52, healthy, if slightly overweight, is there really nothing I can do? 

I don’t like the way it looks but much worse than that is the thought that I will gradually lose the use of my hands for typing, knitting and everything else. 

I’m interested in anything that might stop or at least slow down what appears to be a slow degenerative process. Does diet have an effect? I would love to hear from anyone who has an opinion or any ideas on anything I can do about this. Please tell me your experience and stories. Thanks 😃

Happy Mother’s Day

When I was twelve my mother died suddenly. I can’t remember if it was a Saturday or a Sunday, but I remember it was at the weekend. My mum had complained of a headache around late morning and had gone to bed to lie down. After a bit I went in to see if she wanted anything and saw that she was obviously in a lot of pain. She either couldn’t hear or couldn’t respond to whatever it was that I said to her when I went in to see her. I went downstairs and said to my dad

“I think mum’s had a brain haemorrhage”

I’m not really sure how I knew that, but I had spent many hours reading my parents medical textbooks (my parents were both nurses). We had a chat about it and my dad decided to call an ambulance.

Being a weekend it took a while for the ambulance to arrive. When it did my dad took the two ambulance men upstairs to my mum. They examined her and then told us that they couldn’t take her into hospital as they thought my mum just had a migraine, it wasn’t anything more serious than that. My dad told them that he thought it was a brain haemorrhage, but they disagreed. They told us that we would need to call our doctor to get the sanction for them to take my mum into hospital. They were not allowed to take someone with a migraine to hospital. The ambulance men left and my dad called the doctor. As it was a weekend it took some time for a doctor to arrive. In the meantime I sat on a chair by my parents bed keeping an eye on my mum while my dad looked after my brother and sister downstairs. My mum was quiet most of the time, but now and again she would say

“My head hurts so much, please let me die, please god let me die”

I sat there, deeply traumatised, saying nothing until after some time the doctor arrived, a locum named Dr Patel.

Dr Patel tried speaking to my mum, I don’t remember exactly what she did or said, but she concluded that my mum had had a migraine and shouldn’t be taken into hospital.

I carried on sitting by my mum’s bed after the doctor had gone. It was now probably early afternoon. My dad went to fetch my mum’s best friend Jean Banks from up the road. Jean came and sat in the bedroom with me, she sat next to the bed and I sat on a chair a few feet away. We both sat mainly in silence, staring at my mum.

My dad came in from time to time to see how everything was.

My mum was gradually getting less restless and quieter, only occasionally saying that she wanted to die. I remember thinking to myself that in my opinion she was slipping into unconsciousness and that as she had had a brain haemorrhage that probably meant that it was too late for any intervention, and that she was going to die. I was horrified at that realisation and spent the time sitting there in silence trying to persuade myself that I was actually incorrect, and that of course she would be fine.

My dad came in again to see how my mum was. When he saw that her condition was deteriorating he called the doctor again. We waited another couple of hours for the doctor to come back. When Dr Patel finally did return, she examined my mum and said that she was going to call an ambulance. I knew that it was too late. My mum was unconscious.

Finally an ambulance did arrive to take mum away to hospital. The ambulance men carried her downstairs and out of the front door. I walked down the garden path following the ambulance men and my mum on a stretcher, holding hands with my sister Sarah who was seven. We watched mum being put into the ambulance, the doors shutting and the ambulance driving away down the road, it was just starting to get dark. My mum had been laying in bed for probably 6 hours in excruciating physical pain. I had been sitting in the bedroom with her for 6 hours in dreadful mental pain. That day, that long and traumatic afternoon is indelibly etched on my memory forever. As we held hands at the end of the garden path we looked down the road towards the ambulance which got smaller and smaller and then disappeared out of sight.

“Will she be coming back?” my little sister Sarah asked me.

“No, I don’t think so.” I replied.

We slowly walked back into the house together, and there my memory fades.

My mum never regained consciousness, we agreed for her life support machine to be switched off a couple of days after she was taken to hospital, on 11th February 1975. I was just twelve years old and my twin brother Stephen and sister Sarah were seven.

Mum

My Mum – Sally Valerie Diane Ambury 1940-1975

40 years on, I’m ashamed to say that I don’t remember much of my mum, especially considering that we were together for 12 whole years. I just have a few fragments of conscious memory. The day she died is my largest memory of her.

What I do have however, inside me, is a feeling of strength and love that has kept me going through some times of dreadful adversity. It has enabled me to love my children and give them everything I can. It has meant that despite all the difficulties I have faced, I’ve had a happy life full of so many fun and interesting times. I cannot put into words how grateful I am for that. That strength, that happiness and relentlessness in the face of adversity, that, to me, is my mum, inside of me. My mum may have died very young, but she made me the strong and happy person I am today. Thanks Mum.

Mum, Sue, Sarah, Stephen

Massive thanks also to the many people who have mothered me when I needed it over the years:

Elsie Leah Reynolds, Kate Deans, Joyce Leforgeais, Denise Bell, Ha Thi Minh Tam, Hazel Lapierre, Sarah Pearson, Emma Black, Leah Black, and Paul Boca. I cannot thank you enough.

This mothers’ day I give grateful thanks to my mum, my surrogate mothers and to all mothers across the world who are doing their best to raise the next generation, the future success of our planet depends on you. Mothering, loving and nurturing someone is the most important gift you can give another person.

Happy Mothers’ Day! 🙂

** This morning I decided to start writing my autobiography, working title “If I can do it, so can you” based on my blogpost and talk of the same name. This post is what came out first…..

mum2