Monday, 31 March 2014

We are family

Despite being a relatively small family, it is a rare occurrence that we are all together.

Our little clan gathered in Buckinghamshire at the weekend to celebrate my mum's 90th birthday

Friday; the journey.

 No, of course they weren't really asleep, they were far too excited.

The weather was beautiful, the kids took Bobbin the dog for a walk, and Boston the cat strolled around the garden with us.

Don't worry, that's a toy pheasant in Bobbin's mouth, although we did see a couple of real ones strutting through the garden too.

Belinda (my eldest sister) and Alan's house is beautiful, the kids consider it a holiday to go and stay there.

Nice views, no?

Sabena (middle sis) and me, snapped by Nina (Littlest).

The candles on the birthday cake were a potential fire risk...

but the smoke eventually cleared!

She does like butter.

1960s California maxi dress - vintage shop
Necklace and bangles - charity shopped
Boots - retail

Old Amersham is a very pretty little town nearby, where we went out for Sunday lunch.

Many of the buildings are made from the local flint.

The white cottages were the homes of some of the Lollards who were burned at the stake in 1521 for their religious non-conformism. There is a memorial to them up on a hill just outside the town. The burning took place there so that the flames and smoke would be visible to many in the surrounding area, and the daughter of one of the martyrs was made to light the fire.

Atrocious cruelty in the name of faith is nothing new, is it?

The River Misbourne often dries up, but the exceptionally wet winter means it is flowing beautifully at the moment.

Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged in this country in 1955, was reburied somewhere in the extended churchyard of St Mary's in the early 1970s, although her grave is unmarked since her son destroyed the headstone in 1982. He went on to commit suicide.  No happy endings anywhere in that tragic story.

 The rounded stone graves (body stones) are an unusual feature and may have been designed as a deterrent to 19th century grave robbers. There is cast iron version too.

Hmmm... there a lot of death in this post, isn't there?

You could be forgiven for feeling it is a little inappropriate...

However, my mother adores churches and graveyards, and local history, and Old Amersham is a town she knows well. She told me about the Lollards' houses, Ruth Ellis' grave, and she recalled going for a picnic up at the Martyrs' Memorial after it was erected in 1931; she also went to grammar school here, so all of this is very much up her street!

This building, Badminton Court, used to be a brewery before becoming a factory producing and packing Goya perfumes and cosmetics from 1946 to 1985.

Those you who grew up in the UK in the 1970s probably remember Aqua Manda, I certainly do; apparently the fragrance has recently been relaunched.


Birthday Girl.

My mum cuts through all the crap that's talked about age.

She lives alone, drives her car, maintains her home and garden (she has just planted the plum tree I bought for her birthday), has plenty of friends and interests, goes out more than I do, and is completely independent. She's lucky to be healthy, it's true, but her curiosity about the world and the interest she takes in life and the people around her help to keep her that way, I'm sure.

While some people whine about getting old (when they are merely in their 40s or 50s), I want to point to my mum and say, look, she's 90 and she's not moaning; now bloody well get on with it!

The boys in their white shirts (Alan, Owen and Gary);
the girls looking gorgeous (Mum, Claudia, Nina and Samara);
and some fabulous food at Gilbey's restaurant.

My lovely niece, Samara. Supermodel.

I thought I should add a photo (pinched from her Facebook page) of my other beautiful niece, Leala, who couldn't be there (having had a better offer of a trip to St. Lucia - I know, tough choice, but she had to go!)

(Clockwise, from the left)
Me, Alan, Belinda, Samara, Simon, Sabena, Gary, Owen, Rhonie, Nina, Claudia.

I got all my sisters with me. 

The restaurant asked us all to sign the personalised menu sheet and then laminated it for Mum; we're laughing because Gary said it looked as though she was showing off a swimming certificate.

So that was my weekend.

How was yours?
I'm going to catch up with all of you now and find out the gossip!



PinkCheetahVintage said...

What a beautiful weekend with your family! Your mom is gorgeous--I can tell she def enjoys living her life the way she wants :)

Jane and Lance Hattatt said...


What a fabulous time you all look to have had. This was certainly an occasion to remember for all time and how lovely that so many generations of your family could all be present to share in the festivities together.

And, what style and elegance. Your mother looks tremendous not only in terms of what she is wearing but also in terms of her sunny disposition which absolutely shines through in these images of her. She clearly has a zest for life which is infectious. Bravo!

Sheila said...

So great to have a reunion with your family for your very-young mum! All looking lovely - good genes!

Shawna McComber said...

It looks like such a lovely weekend in a beautiful place with a beautiful family! Your mum is quite radiant and you, my dear, are gorgeous when laughing. In my opinion that is quite enviable. There were so many impressive things here I know I am going to forget to mention some so I"m going to take the easy way and say everything looks so lovely and thank you for sharing all the pictures.

Sue @ A Colourful Canvas said...

Happy Birthday Rhonie, if I may address you so personally!

Curtise, I'm feeling nostalgic for the region, if that's even possible. The path lined with daffodils, the buildings, the views! It's all heavenly.

Your Mum looks so vibrant and youthful...not a line on her face. You and sisters must have been well behaved teenagers. {wink}

Carina Rosenholm said...

All of looks so amazing ! Such gorgeous pics ! You can really tell that you are sisters !

Vix said...

What a lovely, lovely post from your excited faces on the train down South to your mum's and sisters', your supermodel neices (both of them), Belinda's magazine-worthy home to old Amersham and the memory of Aqua Manda.
Your mum is a proper inspiration, single and getting on with things, no need for a man to to whinge about age (unlike many people half her age).
Your California dress is gorgeous and I'll have Claud's Stones tee when she's tired of it, ta!
Thanks for sharing such a fab post, its made my Monday, honestly!
Love you! xxxxxxxxx

Anonymous said...

Wow - your Mum truly is amazing for 90 years young. My Mum is coming up to 81 and she is pretty good for her age too. Again, she lives independently, has lots of interests and is much better on the old t'internet than I am. Sadly, I'm one of those in their fifties who moans and groans about getting older!!

Natalia Lialina said...

Curtise, this is all just amazing! Such a heartfelt post! I loooved all the family photographs. Your Mom is beautiful, she truly is! I am going to admire her forever. I love seeing you with your sisters and see resemblance in you. I love seeing you laughing! Belinda's home is worth showing. I see she is into mid-century, from home furnishings to her dress. I also admired your Mom's outfit. You are such a stylish bunch!

It's always interesting to read about the history of places, thank you for that. And kids and you and Simon in a train - how fun and romantic.

Great post! Hugs! Natasha

Connie said...

Oh Curtise. Your mom must be so proud to have such a beautiful family. What a wonderful weekend. Thank you for sharing.

Patti said...

Beautiful views, beautiful faces, and what a wonderful event! Thanks for sharing it all, Curtise. xox

Forest City Fashionista said...

That looks like a wonderful family gathering - your sister's house is quite lovely. I do hope I am like your Mom if I live to be her age - I admire her independence and engagement with life, and she has beautiful skin to boot!

Asparagus Pea said...

Nice happy family shots - your Mum had bold taste in naming her children. I feel qualified (as a Bernice), to comment on this. My father chose my name, my mum named my brother, he is called John. It was also my Dad's idea to emigrate to NZ. I love my Mum dearly but I hope that I have a big dollop of my Dad's adventuring gene's x

freckleface said...

Wow, look what a lovely happy family you have! Your mum looks an absolute treasure. How wonderful for all of you that she is in such great health at 90. That really is a blessing. I'm not surprised the kids think of it as a holiday when you go down to your sister's, the accommodation is deserving of several stars! That's not a garden, it's an estate! The pyrotechnic in me loves the cake, which looks like it might be setting off an alarm and requiring a fire marshall!! Hope it tasted as good as it looks. xxxxxx

Laurie said...

Happy Birthday to your mom! My mom lived to be 91! Looks like you had a beautiful spring weekend. My family went to a flower show and we had a blast! :)

peaches mcginty said...

What a fab weekend! your Mum is brilliant! gorgeous, wise woman who is clearly having a ball! and quite right too - all pics are just amazing, you and your sisters are a beautiful bunch and your glam nieces, you are a gorgeous family! your sisters home is fabulous btw! x x x

Autumn said...

What a beautiful family! Your mum must be so proud!

Mother of Reinvention said...

What a beautiful family and such a beautiful location. I liked your stripey dress. My Mum is almost the same age as yours and she too is very independent. She always says that she hates "bloody moaning old people" :) xx

Mrs Bertimus said...

Now I know where you get your fab sense of style from!
Thanks for sharing such a special time with us x

Val S said...

What a lovely day, and lovely family pictures!

Helga! said...

Your Mama obviously ROCKS! What a babe, and quite the poster girl for being elderly with class!
Littlest is a dead ringer for Sabena, I reckon.
It's all rather splendid, and looks to have been such a great time. Wonderful pictures; pictures like this make me long for a big, loving family!
Your frock is a dream frock.
Loving YOU!

Goody said...

What a lovely family you have. So wonderful you were all able to be together for your mother's milestone birthday.

Kylie said...

Gorgeous photos of you and your lovely family Curtise.
Your Mum looks beautiful (I love her birthday outfit. Such a stylish well coiffed woman) and she sounds amazing.
The apple doesn't fall far from the tree eh?!

p.s. please give that littlest munchkin of yours a big kiss from me. I'll be in touch soon Nina x

Tamera Wolfe said...

What a beautiful family!!! Your mom is ADORABLE!!!!
Such a gorgeous location!

silvergirl said...

Happy Birthday to your mom
She looks to be quite spry for 90!!

Angels have Red Hair said...

Love that last photo of all the girls. What a great get together ... and how lucky you are to still have your Mum ... and so healthy too. I can certainly see the family resemblance between you all.

Brooke F said...

What brilliant weekend! Your mum is an inspiration for all of us ( I admit I do my fair share of moaning about age!) and you all look like you had a wonderful stay with the family. BTW- your mum did a good job of blowing out all those candles! XXX

Sue said...

Wow, good genes there love. your mother is looking very good for 90. I sometimes forget that I am in my 50's and certainly looking forward to hitting my 90s! I am one of three sisters, chances of a family photo like yours is extremely slim. Thank you for the tour via your photos and your history, I totally love it all.

two squirrels said...

Oh oh such happiness.......many many happy returns and birthday wishes to your gorgeous mother. She us such an inspiration.......yay to being happy to live life to the full and even more happy to have celebrated 90 years here.
Thank you for sharing such a wonderful milestone in all your lives........everyone looks fantastic.
Miss Curtise you do look so very pretty in that wonderful maxi with the trees behide you. Daffodils too......hello spring.
Sending much love V

beate grigutsch said...

my weekend was´t nearly so fab like yours!

to have such a cute family! your mother is a stunner! gorgeous lady!
thank you for sharing this happy images. and the beautiful british landscape. ahhh......


Melanie said...

What lovely photos! I really like the 'swimming certificate' one! Your family obviously has good genes.
That's your sisters house? Goodness, the interior looks like something out of a magazine!
There's a churchyard round this way with a metal grate over the grave to stop grave robbers.

Vintage Bird Girl said...

I so enjoyed your post's lovely to see photos of the special people in your life. Looks like a marvelous way to spend a weekend. Xx

Sacramento Amate said...

Congratulations to your mother, she should be on Advanced Style. And congratulations to you for such a wonderful family.
I lost my mother 32 years ago and I always miss her.
Lots of love, dear Curtise.

Fiona said...

What a lovely happy post Curtise. What an amazing Mum you have, I think her generation are/were an inspiration to us her outfit too. Your history lesson on Amersham was very informative, I had no idea where Ruth Ellis was or that her son also had a tragic young end. Superb snaps as ever.

señora Allnut said...

fabulous family meeting, love your fabulous mom's attitude and love you had a so great time together. I remember Goya perfumes, my grandma used it!!.
Fabulous landscapes indeed!

Suzanne Carillo Style Files said...

Wow! You are super lucky to have such great healthy genes. You Mom looks brilliant! You will do extremely well to age as beautifully as her.

I definately think health is #1 when it comes to aging well. When I look to my parents I don't have much hope there. Probably one of the reasons you hear me moaning so much!

I did love visiting graveyards in the UK.


Diane said...

I hope that I look as sprightly at 90!! She looks wonderful. Aqua Manda was one of my teenage faves (along with Yardley Sea Jade!!). Yes, that house looks great for a holiday - can I book 2 weeks? xxxxx

Miss Magpie said...

What a lovely post and what an inspiration your Mum is. I hope and pray I can still maintain my garden when I'm that old. x

Caroline said...

I know the area well, I used to lived own the road and briefly worked at Amersham Hospital when it was there.

I love all your family pictures. I didn't realise until the last one that I have never seen you smile!

Melanie said...

Oh yes, get on with it! What a great family get-together, everyone looking their best but also looking so part of it all. Happy Birthday to your wonderful Mum. She is still a beauty.

Emma Kate at Painted Style said...

Happy birthday to your lovely mum. She sounds like a very special lady. What a wonderful weekend. Your sisters house is truly beautiful! How lovely that you even get on with your sisters.
Your maxi dress is divine. xxxx

CityScape Skybaby said...

Happy 90th birthday to your mum Curtise, it looks like you all had a wonderful time together. I hope I can be as enthusiastic and interested in life as your mum is as I get older, it's true we do tend to start moaning about feeling old when we've still got so much life to look forward to. I didn't know that about the son of Ruth Ellis, such a sad story, he must have felt so much anger and sadness at what was done to his mother. But it is lovely to see you and your family all together, and such a beautiful place too. xx

Olga Rani said...

What a wonderful post, Curtise! So many beautiful photos of the town, I enjoyed them. And of course it was interesting to see other members of your family. Even without your description of your mom's character one could guess from her photos that this lady enjoys life and doesn't moan. What a beautiful woman!

Winter Moon said...

I'm quite behind with my blog messages, but was sure I'd already commented this, or maybe I just read it and got sidetracked. I'm good at that.

Your family are all gorgeous, your mother certainly doesn't look her age. She seems to have had a lovely time too.

I've enjoyed seeing all your gorgeous pictures :)

The Style Crone said...

Your mum is stunning and radiantly alive. An inspiration as to how to move through the years with health and curiosity. Love the photos too. Your family really knows how to celebrate!

Lesley Extance said...

Your Mum looks just Wonderful, She looks great for her age, and what a great happy family you all look.
Great pictures and a great dress, Best Wishes xxx

Kezzie said...

Whoa, she's snazzy for 90!!!!! What a lovely day and so nice that you all got together for it!x

Krista Gassib said...

I'm so later to this party but so happy to be here. Your family is lovely all together celebrating your beautiful independent bad ass Mum! That photo of her just melts my heart she exudes bliss! I just love all of this. From your sis's beautiful house and both all three of your happy smiles to the stories about the Lollards you are taking it all in and that is so wonderful.
Thanks for sharing these happy moments with us, it feels good seeing all the love here.
You are pretty dam hot in that rocking maxi!

shah said...

Thumbs up guys you are really carrying out a great bubblegum casting legitimate

Jane said...

What an awesome post! Your mum looks not a day over 70! Happy birthday to her! :)

Jan Graham-McMillen said...

Handsome men, beautiful women all. What a small but lovely family. (We're a tiny lot, too.) Please extend a belated Happy Birthday to your mother from across the Pond. She produced one of my favorite people in the whole world! I love your sister's taste in decorating!
You, of course, look spectacular in your golden maxi.
Had to go look up the Lollards. Ew. But I really look forward to your local travelogues, so please don't stop doing them!

Pull Your Socks Up! said...

What an absolutely gorgeous family you have Curtise, your Mum looks very beautiful in her luncheon outfit, she really suits that lovely raspberry colour. Happy birthday to her, may she enjoy many more years of joy in her own home, making her own decisions, enjoying life's gifts! Your hubby is a dish I tell you! Such a lovely smile, he looks like he laughs a lot :). I'm stunned by your spectacular frock, especially those insanely gorgeous sleeves! Fits like a dream, you have a divoooooon figure darlin'!!!! Thank you so much for sharing the pics and background of some of the fascinating historical spots in Old Amersham, I've never been there and would love to visit one day! Dear wee Nina with the buttercup - I'm melting. I enjoyed seeing the new spring growth at your sister's (palace) grounds. It's such a delicate transition isn't it? How is it possible such beauty can follow a long, fallow period of time? Big hugs to you dear. xoxoxoxoxo

Mrs. D said...

beautiful photos.
Makes me miss my family, it's so important!!!

Veshoevius said...

What a wonderful post and happy happy birthday to your mother. What an amazing woman and what a milestone to have reached! My grandmother turns 90 this year and although her memory is going a bit and she does need looking after she is still spritely, good humoured, funny and interested in life and everyone around her. It is always inspiring to see woman who show that life at 90 can still be a very rich experience.

Janey G said...

OMG you kidding me! Your mum is 90!!! she is an inspiration what an attitude to living! I see where you get your spirit from! wonderful post xxxxx