Tuesday, 21 February 2017

How I found my brother - Part 1


I said I would tell you about how we found our brother and here it is - true to my word. How my brother found us (Part 2) will follow soon.
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One Friday evening in February 2013, my OH and I were on our way to Kettering to meet up with my brothers. We were stopping at the eldest brother's to pick him up and then go on to the the youngest brother's for a drink and a catch up. My mum and eldest brother had moved to Kettering from London in 1999, and my youngest brother moved to Kettering in 2006. My mum died in 2009 and my dad died, aged only 47, in 1980.

When we got to the eldest brother's house he told me that someone had come to the door earlier in the day; spoken to him and had left him a card. He said the person - a man - said that he used to work with my mum. This immediately rang alarm bells because I knew my mum had for most of her working life, worked predominantly with women.

When I read the card (I still have it), I literally went weak at the knees and had to sit down, but I knew at once that what it said was inescapably true. On 13th February, 1953; thirteen months before I was born in March 1954, and before my mum married my dad; my mum gave birth to a baby boy whom she called 'Julian Jerome Flynn' - (her maiden name was Flynn). She gave birth to Julian in St. Pelagia's Home for Penitent Girls (I kid you not) which was  in Highgate, North London. It's since been demolished and is now a gated development.

All three of us were very close to our mum. We all loved her deeply. She was our rock, we knew she loved us unconditionally and she was always there for us. She was great fun to be with; we loved her company and spending time with her. Yet, none of us knew about this other brother. On that night I could only feel shock at the not knowing as we set off to the younger brother's house.
Image result for St Pelagias Home for Penitent Girls image
 St. Pelagia's Home
LOST HOSPITALS OF LONDON

St Pelagia's Home
St Joseph's Maternity Home
34 Highgate West Hill, N6 6NJ
Medical dates:

Medical character:
1889 - 1972

Maternity
St Pelagia's Home for Destitute Girls at No. 25 Bickerton Road in Upper Holloway was founded in 1889 by the Roman Catholic order of the Sisters Servants of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.It provided  accommodation for unmarried mothers and their first-born babies, who were allowed to enter the Home when the child was a fortnight old.
The girls were admitted free of charge on condition that they contributed to the earning power of the Home by working in its laundry.
The Home later occupied the neighouring house at No. 27 Bickerton Road.

In 1934 it moved to West Hill Place, a large house on Highgate West Hill, where it re-opened in 1936 after the Convent of Sacred Hearts had been built adjoining the original mansion.

In March 1948 Mayfield, an adjoining 2-storey Victorian house, was bought and equipped as an antenatal and maternity home.  It had 18 beds and was named St Joseph's Maternity Home.

The Labour Ward was on the first floor, while the ground floor contained 6 antenatal beds, and 12 postnatal beds in 3- or 5-bedded wards, with 12 cots for the babies.  An isolation room was added later.

The patients, who stayed for an average of 12 weeks,  were cared for by three nurses.

The LCC paid a guinea (21 shillings - £1.05) a weeks to the Home for expectant mothers and 25 shillings (£1.25) for mothers and babies (this was later increased to £2 10s (£2.50) a week).

In 1954 the Homes had 70 beds for mothers and their babies.  Both properties had extensive gardens of 2 acres, but the buildings were in much need of repair, with damaged ceilings in St Joseph's and a leaking flat roof.

The Homes closed in 1972.


Present status (February 2009)
The Homes and the convent were demolished in 1970.  Their site now contains Hill Court and the West Hill Park estate.



Source: Google (for both photos)

This is an article about St. Pelagia's from the Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/10932969/Convent-that-forced-young-mothers-to-give-up-their-babies.html

It is certainly worth reading although I don't believe my mum was forced to give Julian up by the nuns, but it would have been extremely difficult to have kept him. One, it would have got back to her parents in Ireland and the shame of having an unmarried daughter with a child could have led to ostracism by their community. Secondly,  in England there wasn't much in the way of good affordable childcare in the 1950s and mum would have to have worked to support herself and her child. There was a lot of stigma and shame attached to being an unmarried mother at that time.

When we got to the youngest brother's house I told him get himself a glass of wine and sit down as we had some news for him! We spent the rest of the night on the computer trying to find out more information. The one thing we did know was that our dad wasn't Julian's dad. 

I rang Ireland and spoke to two of our surviving aunts - my mother's sister's - they were totally unaware of Julian. One of the aunt's told me they had only been made aware of my existence (and my mum's marriage) when my mum turned up in Ireland with me aged 11 months! I was left  with my grandparent's and my aunt's, who were only young teenagers at the time, for about 3 months whilst she returned to England and work - of which more later.

Our searches on the computer kept taking us to an agent who represented Brian May (of Queen) and eventually brought us to a picture of someone called 'Julian Littman. This person looked exactly like one of our first cousins; the eldest son of my mum's older and closest sister, Aunty Betty.  Unfortunately, this aunt had died in the late 1980s.

The card that had been left had telephone contact numbers on it and we agreed that in the morning I would call the numbers. I didn't sleep a wink that night and got up really early to search on my own computer for any information. This is what I found:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aH_1j-JxftU

Unfortunately; the youtube link does not work. but this one will give a sound clip:
http://www.soundhound.com/?t=100946292571723461

On the album entitled 'Life's Rich Bloody Tapestry' - Track 7 was called: 'The Ballad of Kathy Flynn'. My mum's name was Kathleen and she was known as Kathy Flynn. As soon as I saw this and then listened to a clip of the song; I knew Julian was my brother. I rang my brothers in tears and told them to listen to the song clip.

To be continued...

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Half term and some more pattern!


I managed to get out for a walk on Sunday, but I just did road and street walking - 6 miles. It was bitterly cold and very damp.


I was in a monochrome mood on Sunday - I'm sure it's the weather. Everything is charity shopped except the brogues which were bought from a Tesco outlet store about 2 years ago, and the black jeans from Lidl. I had to put a cardigan over the tunic for extra warmth. This short sleeved M&S cardigan has proved very useful. It reminds me that I saw a navy blue short, short sleeved cardigan on Saturday, in Cancer Research for £1.00 and I didn't buy it! What on earth was I thinking?


All jewellery charity shopped, too.

It was half term this week. I do enjoy the break from the school run. I still went into the Red Cross on Monday. I picked up a blue homemade waistcoat from the Ragbag and will probably wear that on Friday when I go to see my son. It was a really cold day but it was bright and sunny; my spirits were immediately lifted by the sunshine. Unfortunately, I still had the lurgy.


 This is the tunic I bought on Saturday - it's by Influence and it's made of knitted material, so it's warm. Jeans; Next, also charity  shopped  on Saturday. Boots: DDB.


I added the trusty short sleeved cardi for added warmth.


Earrings, Bedford market; turquoise ring, Sainsbury's; all other jewellery, charity shopped.

I didn't go to the food bank on Tuesday; I didn't think it was fair to spread my germs to everyone. It was okay yesterday in the Red Cross as I was the only person at the back of the shop.

I went for a 6.6 mile walk on Tuesday instead. I retraced the walk I led last Wednesday but in reverse. It turned out to be a lovely day and the wild life and birds were abundant. I disturbed a Muntjac deer drinking at a stream. I also disturbed a buzzard and 4 pheasants; all of whom flew off in a panic making very annoyed noises. I saw a sparrowhawk;  dunnocks, meadow pipits, blackbirds, chaffinches, blue tits, wood pigeons, a wren and several gulls, rooks and crows in a field - splashing about in the huge puddles left by all the rain we've had.


Look what my Valentine bought me! I'm so lucky to have such a good man...


On Wednesday I felt really rough and decided to chill out. I only went out to pick up the grandchildren both of whom were staying on Wednesday night.


Everything is charity shopped. The skirt is from M and Co; boots from Tesco; jacket from Next. It's a bit like my Country Casuals mustard jacket - it goes with lots of things. I used to wear it a lot when I was teaching; I've had it about 7 or 8 years.


This necklace was bought on Saturday in Age UK Northampton,  for £1.99. Earrings from Sainsbury's and bangles, watch and ring charity shopped.


I went to see my son on Friday. Everything charity shopped except boots and earrings - both from Sainsbury's.


The black maxi dress is by Item, which is a part of Tesco's; I think. I can't remember where I bought this dress. The long jacket is by Primarni and I bought it in the Barnardo's in Great Denham for £1.99. I love the colours. I have lightweight green trousers and a similar coloured green top that will look fab with this jacket when the weather gets warmer!.


My necklace, rings and bangles are all charity shopped.

I've been playing a lot of Monopoly with the grandsons this half term. They have both beaten me. The youngest grandson gets really excited with all the money  - even if if he has to give me rent and I give him change! We are playing the adult version so the idea of millions is quite intoxicating...

It was my eldest brother's birthday on Monday; he's 13 months older than me but we only met him in 2013! I will write a post about how he found us - we didn't know of his existence until February 2013. So, my three brothers, my OH and I went out to celebrate Julian's birthday on Saturday.


Only my jacket and jewellery is charity shopped. The jacket, which is a favourite of mine, was bought on the £1.00 rail in Wellingborough Age UK.


The white top was bought in the La Redoute sale in 2015 and the trousers were bought this year in the sale. I nearly always buy something in the La Redoute sale. I also bought a coat  in the same sale this year - see below. The boots were DDB.




We had a lovely Thai meal, caught up with each other's news and had lots of laughs - all in all a really good night. My birthday is next and I've proposed we go to London for the day. Julian lives in London and always travels to us for birthday celebrations so it would make a change for him and us.

I'll keep you posted!

Saturday, 11 February 2017

February is flying by


Hello to everyone and I hope you are all keeping warm! February seems to be flying by; we're almost half way through. January dragged.

I went out on Sunday morning to recce Wednesday's walk. It was cold, damp and very foggy. After about three miles I realised that I couldn't see any landmarks and that the fog was getting thicker; I had to turn back. I walked 6.8 miles and was glad to get home. It stayed cloudy, cold and foggy all day.


This is what I changed into when I got back. Everything is charity shopped. The animal print top is a 50 p rail bargain. I'm still looking for the perfect animal print shirt with long sleeves...

I woke up on Monday with the lurgy.  Middle grandson had it last week and he'd given it to me. I have had a drippy nose, cough, aches and pains all week; I felt yucky but I went in to the Red Cross on Monday. I'm still sorting and pricing clothes; as I'm waiting for a PIN number to arrive in the post that I need to work the till. I've been allocated a special area in the shop for attention and it's the jewellery. Hooray!  I enjoy untangling necklaces and sorting out the wheat from the chaff...

On my way home from the Red Cross, I passed the Salvation Army charity shop and on the 50 p rail outside spotted the grey checked shirt below. It was washed and ironed and I wore it on Tuesday.

I went to the Guildhouse on Tuesday morning. More sorting and pricing of clothes and I did an hour's ironing! I don't think I've ironed for so long since my children were small and I used to do the Sunday evening marathon iron of everybody's clothes for the week...I bought an emerald green cardigan in the sale there for £1.25, but it's a little bit too big. I really wanted an emerald green cardigan so I might try and wash it on a hotter than usual wash and even tumble dry it and see if it shrinks a bit


Everything charity shopped except the boots which were donated by my daughter (DDB).
Red jeans and grey knitted top both by Oasis. All jewellery charity shopped. I didn't realise how bobbly the top had got....


 I went to recce the walk again on Tuesday afternoon. It was the most glorious day. The sun shone and it was so warm I had to take my jacket off; although it was very muddy, boggy and even waterlogged in places. The air was full of bird song, cheeps, calls and trills and the hum of insects. You could feel Spring in the air.

On Wednesday, I did my walk leader's bit and for the first time decided to use my walking poles which were a birthday present from my daughter last year. I found the poles quite easy to use and they do work your upper arms and shoulders. I'm still aching days later - or is that the lurgy? 

 There were 22 of us walkers in total and all was going well. Then one of my poles decided to extend itself and I fell flat on my face! My pride was hurt but I was fine. I had mud on my scarf, mud on my jacket and mud on my trousers. My hands were covered in thick mud where I had put them out to break my fall. It's a good job I hadn't put my wrists through the loops on the poles otherwise I may have fallen more awkwardly and hurt myself. Luckily, one of the walker's had wet wipes (a woman of course - I just couldn't see any of our male walkers carrying wet wipes with them) and I was able to get most of the mud off my hands. As for the other stuff it was all put in the machine when I got home and washed.

Everyone said they enjoyed the walk; one person said they wanted to re-walk it another day which I take as a compliment. We were lucky with the weather as the sun came out. Since last Sunday, I've walked more than 20 miles and I hope to do another 7 mile walk next Sunday if the weather holds.


This is what I wore on Wednesday.
The necklace was recently bought in a Devon Age UK charity shop for £2.00. The earrings were bought from Debenhams about eight years ago when they had a 'two for a fiver' offer on their costume jewellery.


The shirt is by Punt Roma; the jeans are Laura Ashley - both charity shopped and the cardigan was a Christmas 2015 present from OH. Bangles charity shopped.


Boots are DDB.


On Thursday I went to spend the day with my friend Natalie in Cambridge. We had planned to look around the charity shops and go somewhere for a meal. Natalie is extremely talented at up cycling furniture and she has been up cycling my bureau which I left with her the last time I visited. When I got to her house this time it was finished!


Isn't it lovely? She had also up cycled a very small table in the same colour and pattern which I'll put my printer on - and she recovered an upright chair in similar patterned material. My study is now a haven for me to read, crochet, listen to the radio and write my blog. I just need a very small armchair to complete it... 


Everything is charity shopped except the boots which were a Christmas 2016 present from my daughter. The jacket is by Boden and was charity shopped in the Red Cross a few months back for £1.99. I like the pleated collar. The tunic is by Fat Face and was from the Red Cross for £1.99. For warmth,  I layered a camisole from  Lidl underneath. The jeans are from Next but can't remember which charity shop.


All jewellery charity shopped.

It was bitterly cold in Cambridge.
I bought three green Virago books in the RSPCA bookshop; a picture for the spare bedroom; some glasses - we keep breaking glasses at the moment -  a pair of earrings, a necklace and a pair of ear phones for grandson all in the Salvation Army.  Note, I didn't buy any clothes! 
Natalie picked up a three cornered children's chair and a side table on wheels; both to be up cycled.

On Saturday, OH and I went rummaging in Northampton.  OH hadn't been rummaging for a while and was missing it; so ever obliging as I am, I went with him... We hadn't been to Northampton for more than a year. The only things I really wanted were: 1) A brown animal print shirt. 2) Another yellow cardigan - my present one is not very warm.


Saturday was a horrible day. Grey, cold and very misty/foggy. Northampton was relatively quiet as a result of the weather. We visited 10 charity shops in total and I found nothing on my list.


Everything charity shopped except the boots which were a Christmas present from my daughter in 2016. Knitted tunic from Esmara (Lidl), M&S jeans, top; Dorothy Perkins.


All jewellery charity shopped.

I bought some clothes (oh dear!); a pair of Next jeans from the £1.00 rail in the Sue Ryder shop -  and a lovely tunic which I paid £6.00 in Age UK for; as I really liked it. I also bought a necklace (£1.99) in the Heart Foundation shop and two pairs of earrings at £1.00 each in Age UK. It will be back to no rummaging next week as I'm trying to go only once a month now. It won't be too long before I go to Ireland again... I've had a blip this month because of going to Cambridge as well as Northampton, but in March, probably around my birthday I'll have another rummage in a different town. You never know I might even get taken away for the weekend somewhere!

I believe the weather will be getting milder in the week to come so let's hope it does and that we see even more signs of Spring. I'm also hoping that the lurgy will have gone and I'll be back to my normal self - whatever that is!

Saturday, 4 February 2017

I've been wearing prints all week

Mondays are always busy for me. Often the youngest grandson stays on Sunday night and I have to get him ready, breakfast and then do the school run. Then it's back to get ready and off to the Red Cross from 9.30 to 1pm. I usually have a few things to pick up in town when I've finished there then I go home and have some lunch and do some chores. Before I know it, it's time to pick the children up from school. I didn't get to sit down on Monday until 5 pm!


All jewellery charity shopped except watch, Christmas present 2016 and earrings which are from Sainsburys.


This is the coral cardigan I bought from the Red Cross last week for £1.99. It's from Monsoon.


Jeans, M&S; Top, George. All bought at the Red Cross. Boots; Christmas present 2015 or 2014.

Tuesday was foodbank in the morning. I worked so hard I was actually sweating - although I did have a jumper, a thick cardigan and gloves on! After the foodbank I spent much of the afternoon sorting out kitchen stuff for eldest grandson who has moved to a new place in London. I went into town to look for a few extra bits for him and managed to get them in Poundland and in a couple of charity shops. I was very good and bought nothing in the way of clothes for me! I now have three bags of kitchen stuff waiting to be collected...

I have finished 'A Harp in Lowndes Square' by Rachel Ferguson. It was quite a strange novel but really enjoyable; I do like this author and have another two books of hers waiting to be read; one of which is a Persephone book. I've only managed three books this month as I've been crocheting. If I want to achieve more books read this year than last I need to get on with it. I should save the crocheting for when I'm watching TV.


I've been wearing animal prints quite a lot this week. In the picture above which was Wednesday's outfit I'm wearing an M&S blue animal print cardigan over black cords and a denim shirt. All charity shopped. I'm all crumpled because these photos were taken just before bed.


The boots are also charity shopped.


All jewellery charity shopped. The earrings were bought in Devon last weekend for a £1.00.

I went walking on Wednesday as well as walking around town doing errands like renewing my parking permit. I walked about 7 miles in total. I'm also walking on Friday  - as bus walk from Milton Ernest back to Bedford. I just hope it doesn't rain!


This coat is vintage - I think. There is no label; not even a care label. It is so reminiscent of coats from the 1960s; they sometimes also had a detachable fur collar and often the buttons were huge. My mum had one. I bought this in Devon at the weekend for £3.00.

It has  a very musty smell unfortunately which I'm trying to eradicate. I had it hanging on the line all day and I sprayed it with what I thought was Febreze - only it wasn't. It was Febreze air freshener! The next thing to try is to steam it with my hand held steamer.


On Thursday I took the youngest grandson for his UV treatment at the hospital. He suffers from eczema and the treatment is really helping his skin. I took him to school and then went and did the food shopping. I didn't need to go Sainsbury's this week just Lidl. I used to do my main shop at Sainsbury's and top up at Lidl. Over the years (since 2002) the balance has now shifted, so I do the bulk of the shopping at Lidl and top up with certain things at Sainsbury's.

I'm wearing a dress from New Look and an animal print shirt from Per Una at M&S. Both charity shopped in Devon at the weekend. Boots from Sainsbury's; Christmas 2017 present from OH.

All the jewellery is charity shopped. I bought this necklace in Oxfam in Newport Pagnell early in 2016.


 I did a bus walk on Friday with the Ramblers and walked 7 miles. It is so much more enjoyable walking across fields and through woods and by rivers rather than just road and street walking which is what I've been doing lately. It was muddy but that's only to be expected with all the rain we've had.  I saw a buzzard showing off  its lovely plumage and saw and heard skylarks. I always associate skylarks with Spring but they're here all year  round, I think.

 More animal print today; a tunic from M&S; gilet from  Mc and Co;  both charity shopped. Leggings M&S retail and OTK boots bought on line.

All jewellery charity shopped.

I have been so good this week. I've bought no clothes at all and have put the following in the charity shop bag; 3 cardigans, 2 dresses, 2 pairs of trousers and 2 tunics. I've sorted out one of my coat/jackets to take to Ireland at Easter as I have a replacement one now.

I also had a brainwave this week, so I'll share it with you although you may have been doing it already! I ruin a lot of my tights as my big toes frequently poke holes in the foot (this is despite me cutting my toenails regularly!) There is nothing as uncomfortable as tights with holes in the feet. As I tossed yet another pair of tights in the bin this week, I suddenly thought why not cut the feet off and add socks to cover the missing feet? It works but only if you're wearing boots!


We went to see my son  on Saturday. It's his 37th birthday on Monday. We all gave him money and a few little extras from me.


Everything is charity shopped except the OTK boots - online retail. The dress was BNWT and came out of the 49p box at the RSPCA in Sandy earlier this year. They were obviously trying to get rid of their winter dresses. Yes, I'm wearing the mustard jacket again - it goes with lots of my clothes; it's by Country Casuals and was 1.99 at the Red Cross.


Earrings are old and from Sainsburys about 8 years ago - tiered necklace 50p from Red Cross charity shop. Bangles, ring and brooch all charity shopped.

I've got tomorrow and next Tuesday afternoon to recce my walk for the Ramblers on Wednesday. I just hope the rain keeps off. Keep your fingers crossed for me!