Legacy Gwendoline Creak 1922-2006

Mum would have been 95 today. Born on August 2nd 1922 she wrote her own story back in 1999  after her mother died in April of that year and after the arrival of her first great grandchild in September. I attempted to write the rest in my eulogy for the celebration of her life in 2006. Now, nearly 11 years after her death and on her 95th birthday it is time to just remember her legacy. In 2008 I illustrated her story with all the photos I had of Gwen and copied it 6 times one for each grandchild but silly me forgot to get a digital version.

As I look over her life again it is incredibly hard to be brief.  My mum was one big bundle of energy and dynamite wrapped in quite a small frame. As I read through her words again I see she frequently had to say ‘but that’s their story’. This is because she gave herself ‘hook line and sinker’ to her family; so her story morphs into what they did where they went and so on…….add to that more than 150 photos over 84 years. My eulogy is in the photographs below. This still does not capture the legacy.




The photos do start to tell the story except for the desire to be a runner 1936 county championships and the dream of playing hockey for England.

Six years of war and staying with in laws and saving every penny meant that at 25 she was seriously into family. At times she said it was all she ever wanted.

About the age of 33 she woke up and realised she would never play hockey for England and by 1957 was back working in the shop alongside her husband.

My brothers took the micky of mum ‘make do and mend’ her ability to use a lard box to make a baby box for me and cheese boxes up ended with curtains for bedside tables. They never realised what rationing did to their mum’s generation. How she made trousers for them out of the mens old trousers and dresses for me out of old dresses. I remember visiting her one afternoon at her retirement bungalow to find the threadbare curtains that she had replaced were now chopped up as place mats. Loved you mum.

Nothing was ever wasted we lived on dlo (old) food from the shop….if it was going out of date we ate it.


With us all married Mum and dad took up dancing and had 10 long years alone in their 6 bedroom flat. Soon enough the kids were home with there kids and Gwen loved the entertaining

Finally at age 68 Gwen was able to retire ha  to care for Mother in Law Mother and husband she cared the nursed them all.


We love you and miss you




2017 Southwark, Rochester, Canterbury

The idea of pilgrimage has been on my mind for several years and I started by visiting cathedrals; Winchester, York and Lincoln then last year I visited Christchurch Oxford and Coventry.

At Coventry I found a cathedral that was alive and this persuaded me that my pilgrimage involved cathedrals.

This year Open Doors*  http://www.opendoorsuk.org/events/fundraise/pilgrimage.php had a plan to raise money by walking the Winchester- Canterbury Pilgrims Way following a new book published in February.   https://www.cicerone.co.uk/product/detail.cfm/book/777/title/the-pilgrims–way#.WT5IvZLyvIU

I thought I might first try Southwark to Canterbury but soon found I could not carry my backpack and do the walking. I had a brilliant day in London and loved Southwark Cathedral which was alive and welcoming. The refectory provided good food and a comfortable place to rest my feet. It was here I saw two real life pilgrims with their khaki outfits wide brim hats and the pilgrims shell hanging from their backs. The cathedral, next to Borough Markets, is in the heart of community. One lovely lady, with a sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, seeing my distress in the Harvard Chapel came and prayed with me. This was a lovely pilgrim moment for me because, as I read that Harvard had been christened in Southwark Cathedral and went on to found the American University that carries his name, I realised the needs of all men who, in this world seem to have everything, yet don’t know Jesus.




Harvard Chapel very moving place

So to a night in ladies only backpackers and then a rail trip from London Bridge to Rochester. I did not have a place to stay in Rochester. I had been trying online for weeks but I was fairly confident that once I got into the Tourist Information Office all would be well.  Times have changed; they could offer a list but after 2 expensive phone calls I gave up deciding to ask at the cathedral and if that failed to hop on the train to Canterbury. The cathedral was alive with a flower show but alas the tea room was closed because, they said, of little demand. People in the cathedral had no idea of any accommodation not even for pilgrims

I waved goodbye to Rochester from the train.



I arrived at Canterbury East Station walked up the Dane John and eventually arrived at the Cathedral.  Those I asked knew of no ‘pilgrim accommodation’ so, knowing my ticket would give me access to the cathedral every day, I rushed out  to The Beaney House of Art; once again the visitor information centre could not help except direct me to Premier and Travel Lodge on the outside of town. Long walk with back pack and a sad return to town centre realising there was no room at the Inn.

There followed a brilliant night on the streets with all the students marching in bands up and down the cobbled streets, an unusual meeting with some lovely people outside the cathedral gates and times with the street sleepers bedding down for the night. Eventually, about 3.30am, tired of walking round I came up behind the street pastors saying,

“Hey know someone who needs £20 for a few hours on their sofa?”

They told me that there was nowhere in Canterbury where I could lay my head but McDonald’s was open all night and the manager was very kind. He was very kind and I spent the rest of the night chatting with students and local young people who were more interested in God than those I meet in the daylight.

I was excited I had another 6 days and nights in Canterbury I just knew I was going to love every minute.

Kipps Canterbury

The lovely guy on reception took one look at me and said “I find you different bed”. Apparently I don’t look the type to fit on a top bunk! I did not argue; nights on the top bunk in St Christopher’s were not the best! So for 4 lovely nights I had the bed by the window in a six bed room.

The garden was a wonderful extra, the lounge comfortable, the kitchen fabulously equipped and a place in the fridge. Great place to stay and it cost less for 6 nights than my one night in the Cathedral Lodge.


Although I know I am on a pilgrimage not just a holiday but Holy days I still don’t know where and why. A sacred place a holy relic who knows. All I know is that it hangs around Cathedrals as being the place in England where God has been worshipped the longest.

Seems that although pilgrims were offered hospitality in times gone by they were often a nuisance. Canterbury was extended and an Ambulatory built round the place of worship so that dratted pilgrims could walk in and round without disturbing the service. There is a sense in which modern tourists with their lack of respect for holy ground are resented by the clergy and one clergy person nearly bit my head off but others had nothing but love and compassion. Takes all sorts.

I was in Canterbury for 8 days and  I had intended to travel out and walk on some of the Pilgrim’s Way but instead found myself immersed in the City and Cathedral. I was interested in finding out where modern day pilgrims would be welcome.



Legacy Uncle John and Auntie Joyce

I must record a tribute to this couple who were so important in my early childhood. Until 1959 we all lived in Hayes and had business in Greenford  where Joyce came from. I don’t remember Joyce working at the market even though I spent much of my time going there from school and being there during the school holidays. I just recall she was delivering orders although I remember my mum doing this as well.

Yet the most amazing thing happened just in time John and Joyce got married and let me be bridesmaid!!

The memories I have started way before that time. Although not as far back as these photos. Alf (John Hiett’s father) and Ethel were brother and sister and very close always out together and John and Eric were inseparable too.

I was the first grandchild to Ethel and Jim and the first girl in the family to Ethel Jim Elsie and Alf; consequently my first few years I was taken  every where by all of them. John a nineteen year old, who yes loved cards, became my Godfather.

Whenever we had Christmas celebrations at Chalfont Road or at West Drayton the men would stay up all night playing cards. Christmas was very important to Ethel and Jim and everyone had to be there.

Joyce and John were very faithful to my family and I will always be grateful for their support. Whenever I visited Ethel at Rowledge, Joyce had always just been round or was on her way with shopping and helps. They were there, not only for Ethel’s passing but also for Olive’s passing too. I cherish this photo as my two Godfathers supported me


Even when my dad died and John was crocked up after his hip ‘op….Joyce was there to make the family photo


This was in 2001 and after Gwen’s passing in 2006 Jim John and I became top of the heap.

We will always have happy memories of John and Joyce. Thank you Auntie Joyce for letting me be bridesmaid…Thank you Uncle John for letting me ride on your motorbike!



So I visited Aldershot for the last goodbye found our Uncle John was John Alfred Andrew and Auntie Joyce was Joyce Margaret It was also good to remember Uncle Alf and Auntie Elsie’s address. I had spent ages pouring over a google map as I knew my way there..could see the house, even knew the number and the fact that the road began with the letter L but the lovely eulogy revealed 6 Lannock Road. Thanks so much to Auntie Joyce’s family for the way they have supported them and given me an opportunity to say farewell.

Are you a plot holder’? June 2015

Are you a ‘plot holder’?

by angeangel

I was reading an article where a council issued an eviction notice to an allotment holder. It has come to the attention of the committee …..your behaviour towards ‘plot holders’. I thought someone who worked an allotment should be call an allotmenteer. I googled it (other search engines are available) and found it is used http://thephysicblog.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/why-i-allotmenteer.html

Feeling better about my powers of the English language I turned to the photos of the two allotments I have visited and wondered ,’what is a good age to have an allotment’?

I can only conclude that any age is good and that the earlier you start the better. You don’t need to have been born into allotments as you can be adopted into the family. True you may have to put up with the occasional ribaldry but you will also glean wisdom if you ask the right questions and have patience to listen. In my last post on allotments I gave details of where and who to contact to find an allotment. If you got one now it could be wonderful by this time next year.

There is a special allotment owned by my two friends a twenty something and a thirty something. they have a vine surrounding their shed and like to have things standing up and ship shape

Looking good for a May photo

Looking good for a May photo

The other allotment managed by an octogenarian on his own. He is potato crazy with 5 varieties

You can just see Michael working away

You can just see Michael working away

How do you know which variety is which? "I know because I planted them" says Michael

How do you know which variety is which? “I know because I planted them” says Michael

Below are some links but I do hope, especially if you don’t have a garden and have children, that you consider an allotment. The children will love it



If you want to find out just Google How do I get an allotment in (Town Name) (other search engines are available)


around the Gardens 2015

A walk around the gardens

by angeangel

I am currently on day three of #Livebelowtheline and trying to take my mind of tea coffee and food. I decided to walk round the gardens wow all sparkly in the wet003 (2)

The daffodils are finished and the tulips nearly over but the violas are on a new lease of life

The daffodils are finished and the tulips nearly over but the violas are on a new lease of life

Sparkly Forget me nots as far as the eye can see

Sparkly Forget me nots as far as the eye can see

intense red of the new leaves brightens up this area

intense red of the new leaves brightens up this area

the boring laurel which also has poisonous berries but they fill a space

the boring laurel which also has poisonous berries but they fill a space

Shady border and you can just pick out the deep burgundy tulips

Shady border and you can just pick out the deep burgundy tulips

Cherry blossom finishes the tour

Cherry blossom finishes the tour


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/gardening/article-2092255/Avoid-poisonous-aggressively-invasive-cherry-laurel-beautiful-Portuguese-variety.html#ixzz3YhpDUtn1

The Legacy of Ethel Amelia Creak nee Hiett 17.10.1895-23.10.1994

I have no photos of Ethel as a baby; the first one is probably from about 1916. By that time she was in the Salvation Army. She was the oldest of ten and spent a lot of time caring for brothers and sisters.She was deaf just enough to spoil her education and cause her to think she was not bright. She went into service when not needed at home and dreamed of being a missionary, until she met Jim the love of her life. I know she met Jim on March 11th 1914 because Jim gave her a Bible inscribed to Miss Ethel Hiett on the first anniversary of our friendship. Jim survived the war and they married on December 29th 2018.


I have her first passport which she needed to join Jim in France in 1919 and amazingly enough when Jim was posted back to UK Ethel had to stay in France until she could get passage home.

Their son Walter was born in 1921 and then Eric in 1928 I have photos of Walter and Eric as children but none of Ethel during this time.


By 1938 her husband left the Home and Colonial and went into business with his own stall. Ethel tried to help but preferred be the  homemaker  while Olive or Gwen helped Jim at Greenford market

She must have been so worried to see her son go off to war but she had the companionship of Olive for a while and then Gwen lived with her. Gwen and Walter got a house across the road so she was very involved with the children and often took me on trips with her.

Ethel always entertained a house full at Chalfont Road Hayes and when she moved to West Drayton continued to entertain all the family.


New arrivals were adored and great grandchildren loved very much


Ethel has nine great grandchildren she lost her beloved Jim in 1973 and often said that the weddings and christenings were tough without Jim at her side. However Olive could always be found next to Ethel.


Ethel and Jim had many holidays together Switzerland in the 50’s Jim loved to travel and in 1968 they went on a cruise and after 50 years married Ethel learnt to swim



By 1985 her 90th year she had been widowed 12 years cared for her brother Alf and lived alone in a large house but since her husband died she had taken up knitting again (Jim hated clacking needles) and returned to church making lots of friends at Rowledge. Once again she filled her house with the church house-group.




Tristan had two great grandmothers at his wedding and Ethel loved to stay with Gwen Walter and Olive…Ethel would go home to Rowledge to be escorted to church by a nice young man until the last visit….in October 1994 when we said farewell to the most lovely of ladies…love you Grandma and miss you





Legacy of Olive Barnes part two

I wrote about the first 50 years of my grandma’s life in part one and wanted to finish with a photo from every decade that followed. I am not sure which part of her life she cherished most I suspect it might have been in the early 30’s when as the wife of a well off factory manager she played tennis with friends while Gwen was at school and husband at work.


The first great grandchild was quite an event too


And so were the weddings of grandchildren


She enjoyed meeting up with Ethel life long friend, one time neighbour and her daughter’s mother-in-law


After her second  husband died she came to live with daughter Gwen


Olive enjoyed nearly 10 of her daughter’s retirement years


Happy times gave way to frailty  and a horrible last year so sad. Miss you grandma you did a grand job

My Legacy from Olive Barnes



Olive middle row left with the rest of the Baxter bugs as they called themselves

Olive Barnes nee Baxter 14.10.1901 -14.4.1999

My grandma did not get to see the new millennium but she was a wonderful example of the twentieth century. I don’t have photos of her as a baby. Her mother had 5 children in quick succession followed by another 5 and Olive or ‘Ob’ was the oldest. She always said she had enough of babies before she had one of her own.

My mum wrote quite a lot about her in her little autobiography but omitted the two miracles which Grandma always related to me.

The first miracle was the conversion of grandma’s father. It would have been about 1910 when she was one of 5 children and things were tough in the Baxter home. Mum was tired trying to manage the children and dad was prone to disappear for a ‘jar’ to avoid troubles. One night they reached breaking point and her mum said if Joe went off to drink he was not to bother to return. Joe went off but as he passed the little Wesleyan Chapel he heard singing and slipped into the back row instead of going to the pub. He came out a changed man and returned home rejoicing and grandma said  that from that day on the home was happy. She would always end this story by relating how on a Sunday night her mum and dad would sing hymns and the children already in bed would join in from upstairs…wow would love to have seen that.

The second miracle was on one teatime. It was a Friday and before Joe came home with his wages. All the children were round the table and grandma’s mum spread the cloth on the table saying ‘Here is our emptiness God where is Your fullness’ at that moment there was a tap on the door and the baker’s boy came saying that the baker had told him to bring these buns round to the Baxter’s as the children will eat them up. To grandma that was a sign of God’s providence.

Olive Barnes had to leave school early because her mum needed her and when her mum was not ‘confined’ Olive was loaned to neighbours to help out. Olive resented this but it led to her finding her first husband who’s wife was dying of tuberculosis and Olive was needed to look after their 3 year old son. Olive became Olive Turvey in 1921 and gave birth to her one and only child a daughter in 1922.




By 1928 Olive was step-mum to a 12 year old and mum to to Gwen a 6 year old


Then in 1936 she became a young widow












She had never had proper employment she always said her smart navy suit got her and her 14 year old daughter work at J Lyons



In 1944 she married Bill



And in the 50’s was a smashing grandma


We won!

Best Sheltered Scheme Garden

This is our entry for the 2016 Competition. Last year we submitted 132 photos showing how we have transformed the gardens from overgrown borders and fence lines to an inviting interesting space with something to catch the eye throughout the year.

Although we cut back for winter we are are careful to heap leaves under hedges and large shrubs to give wildlife including hedgehogs a refuge and hunting ground.

The first flowers appear in late Autumn with Cyclamen and Hellebores  this is quickly followed by Crocus and Daffodils …the old Forsythia and Japonica made a better show as two.years of cutting at the right time encouraged healthy blooms



New for this year.

One gardener decided he did not want to plant his daffodils and tulips as they slowed up his summer planting so we dug three bays that a resident could see from her 1st floor window and she was able to look out on spring colour.


Spring is when we really put on a show for the pollinators and the 90 meter back fence holds hundreds of foxgloves and a mass of forget-me -nots. These help to keep the weeds, brambles and ivy at bay from the jungle next door.



May saw masses of Lilly of the Valley in a bed which one resident holds dear to her heart.


Our formal bed gardener had already planted rows of Sweet Williams (Dianthus barbatus), Irises (Reticulata) Lillies and Dianthus. The perfume was wonderful in the hot days of July.


In the less formal beds as the foxgloves ended so the Aquilegia took over followed by Alliums, Penstemon and Veronica which made a cheerful show. Some of the roses have benefited from proper care and feeding and the first flush was very enjoyable.


Meanwhile in the Grow Wild bed  planted last year we had a surprise because the annuals which flowered last year made way for masses of perennials and bi annuals with Pink Campion ruling the roost. This together with our ‘nettle patch’  and planting eight Buddleia is an important part of helping pollinators including bees and butterflies. A first this year was to see the Goldfinches feeding on the flower heads of the Knapweed and Centaurea Montana


We have maintained the herb garden which was planted for an ex-resident who was a chef. This year we let the thyme,marjoram, hyssop flower but kept the Rosemary clipped. By July the lavender had started to show which gave this border a Mediterranean look.

We have now planted 120 french marigolds throughout the Scheme to give us more colour through August September and until the first frost. We grow much from seed and cutting. The tomatoes are a bit behind but we have already had two pickings of runner beans and will hopefully have courgettes soon.

New for 2016

The gardeners (residents) cut down two diseased trees and one gardener purchased a plum and a pear tree so hopefully we will have fruit next year.

The gardeners respect the wishes of the none participant residents and work hard to provide them with planting that they want and also endeavour not to encroach on their space. Some of them enjoy the idea of being able to ‘forage’ in their own grounds.

This is just a flavour of our year; we are struggling with the climate  and will be experimenting with drought resistant plants in some beds. We are also still restrained by some planting and fencing which is beyond our control but grateful that we have an understanding Landlord who recognises the fantastic value to health ( including mental health) of being able to garden in our scheme.

We have many more photos and would love to share them with you….

I forgot the last new for 2016

A close up of a couple of the lillies and our tribute for the Queen’s birthday a patriotic place to sit