32. Rocking chair
My parents often called me, 'Last Minute Liz' and I'll willing admit that time keeping has never been a strong point. I wake each morning confident that the list in my head will be completed by the day's end. It never is. Why do I have such a poor grasp of time? I am eternally optimistic that it will stretch to meet my expectations.
Glennis, my college friend, was one of my bridemaids. I confidently stated that I would make her dress. The pattern was labour intensive with rows of small frills all down the front of the bodice. I was still stitching the night before the wedding and only too happy to hand the task over to my Aunt Nancy the following morning when she arrived from Scotland. Luckily the marriage ceremony wasn't held until late afternoon.
When it was my turn to be matron-of-honour for Glennis we took the precaution of choosing a very simple pattern for my dress and I finished it in good time. The wedding was to be held near Manchester and we drove there in our first car, a second-hand Morris Minor. We set off early and traveled along streets of Victorian buildings, relics of the Industrial Revolution.
As we drove past a junk shop I spotted this lovely wooden rocking chair on the pavement. Four pounds, ten shillings and it was ours! We didn't have a roof rack and it was too large to fit inside the car. It took a long time to tie the rocker safely to the roof . We continued our journey at a much slower pace.
When we duly arrived at the bride's home we found her mother in an absolute panic, she had thought that I was not going to appear.
Glennis said, "I told her not to worry. You always turn up, but not until the very last minute!"
The rocker was the perfect place to sing to our small babies and lull them to sleep.
33. Victorian infants' dresses.
In the early seventies England was still awash with Victoriana and it was of no interest to the majority of people. They had discovered Scandinavian design, drip-dry and non-iron shirts, crimplene dresses and Bri-nylon sheets and there was no going back. Good news for me, I could search out the furniture and clothing in natural fibres that I most appreciated and purchase them for very little. These cotton infant dresses are one example.
They were not practical for my small children to wear, but I bought them because they were so beautifully made, in fine, soft cotton with dainty hand stitching and decorative details that were a nightmare to iron. They spoke of servants and an altogether more leisured lifestyle. My healthy infants quickly became too large to fit into them and the dresses and bonnets were handed down to be worn by dolls, before being packed away for another generation.
34. Ladies rocking chair.
At Bolton Hall in Wensley there was a catalogue sale of unwanted household items. It was held over several days and the bric-a-brac was set out on the lawns at the front of the hall. I did not study the goods inside as I knew that the only things I could afford were on the grass! I bid for this chair, and bought it for five pounds. It was upholstered in peacock blue silk, the fabric shredded with age and use. The wood was wormed but I hoped that it was not too far gone to be treatable.
Our other purchase was a Victorian playpen with a built-in abacus of porcelain beads. When we got home we stripped the chair to treat it and had it reupholstered in mustard velvet.
We erected the playpen in our sitting room. It was enormous! It took up virtually the whole space and we were able to sit all together inside it's solid structure to play. It was really suitable only for a vast house such as Bolton Hall and not for a small home such as ours.
We had very little furniture when we bought these items and now we have far too much. The playpen is long gone and the little rocking chair languishes in a spare bedroom.