I’ve just finished reading Venetia Road by Patricia Putt Nicoll. Pat lives in Colehill, Dorset and contributed some of her stories and articles to the local Community Library project Life on the Hill, which was published last year. Pat writes of her first impressions of the house her parents bought during the war, no. 9 Venetia Road, returning home after time as an evacuee – the first time – and her subsequent childhood memories. The rest of the book consists of contributions from various other members of her family with a final story from Pat. They share their memories of staying at nan’s during the summer holidays – hiding in the cupboard under the stairs, trips to the corner shop and all the fun times they had there. What a woman Pat’s mum, Violet, was. I’m not sure I could cope with so many grandchildren at one time but she took them on trips to London Zoo and a variety of other outings that they still recall with happiness. What a wonderful gift.
It resonated with me at the moment because we are once again in the throes of moving house. I am either packing or discarding various items, each one imbued with a memory of when it was bought or given. I’m finding it quite a draining and, at times an emotional task. Packing away family photos, some containing those loved ones who are no longer with us brings memories flooding back. The little mementos that we barely glance at as we go about our day-to-day and yet packing them gives us time to reflect and make decisions as to where they will fit in our new home.
I love Pat’s idea. So simple and charming and something that the whole family could get involved with. Pat has self-published on Amazon. Gone are the days when publishing your book would be prohibitive, you can publish one or many; print on demand means we no longer have a store cupboard full of unsold copies.
Why not start a similar project of your own. Don’t expect to sell thousands of copies – or even a hundred – but what a lovely way to keep those family stories in one place for future generations to savour.