#NABLOPOMO Day 1 Childhood Memories – Grandparents

It is National Blog Post Month and I have decided to take the challenge.  This means I have to do a blog post every day of the month of November.  NABLOPOMO  So join me or not as I waffle about whatever comes into my head each day this month.

Perhaps this is a sign of old age but I have found myself dreaming of the good old days and I mean the really old days of my distant childhood!   It’s fortunately the good memories that have resurfaced and the love I feel for those who have gone before me have come flooding back.

There is a place I like to return to in my memory.  A place that if I think about it played a huge part in shaping who I am today.   My grandparents had a home on an acre plot in Ophir Road, Plumstead, Cape Town.   It was called Quintella – I never thought to ask why it was called this but I always loved the name.  Today I googled it and found that it a girls’ name meaning First Rose.  This is what else I found about the name. “Quintella are lively, imaginative, enthusiastic and optimistic. Quintella are expressive and inspire others wherever they go. Quintella possess great verbal skills which make them good comedian, artist or writer.” And that is a perfect description of the home I remember so well!  It was indeed a lively place with plenty of opportunity to use your imagination. There was plenty of optimism and enthusiasm and inspiration coming from both of our grandparents,our parents and our aunts and uncles.  There was lots of talking, lots of laughing and lots and lots of creating.

The house was a simple one made in parts of brick, tin and clapboard.  Well the internal walls were of clapboard and you could knock on them which when we were kids was so much fun.

A long unpaved driveway led all the way to the shed at the end of the property but there was a clearing under the pine trees near the gate where visitors parked their vehicles and then walked to the kitchen door which was where everyone entered. There was no front door as such.  The door from the dining room led to the front garden.   The property boasted the most beautiful and enormous pine trees – we called them Denneball trees as the Afrikaans word for pine is denne.  The ‘denneballs’ would fall to the ground and the nuts from them scatter on the drive way.  I grew up on those nuts;  sitting on the back step smashing them open with a rock was the best way to enjoy them.   We even fed them to the fox terrier, Atom who just gobbled them as eagerly as we did.

Now Atom – he brings back some good memories. There was Sparky his wire-haired mother too – She produced litter after litter of pups much to our delight as there is nothing like a warm puppy to love.  But how sad we were when they were sent off to new homes at six weeks of age.   Atom was a lively, smooth haired black and white bundle of energy.  He romped with us and we never tired of throwing a ball for him while Sparky was gentler and quieter and guarded us with her life. When my baby brother was still in a pram she never left its side and growled at whatever stranger wanted to peep in at him.

The kitchen was large a the hub of the home.  Granny presided and there was a big wooden table in the middle.  Everything happened at that table – it was the work surface, the breakfast nook, the place where the horse meat was cut up into chunks for the pets who knew exactly what time to come and catch the pieces as they were thrown to the kitchen floor.

Granny was a proper granny.  They broke the mould after she was born.  She had white hair and wore glasses. She was plump and soft and warm and cuddly.  She had a wide lap and loving arms.  She never got cross and had endless patience and a million stories.  Granny recited the most delightful poems and sang the sweetest songs.   She smelt  powdery and flowery and she was beautiful.   We all adored her and wanted to spend every spare minute with her.   We loved our grandpa too. He was bald and bony and jovial and fun.  When he sneezed we all jumped out of our skin it was so loud.   His hands were like sandpaper and he could scratch your back without using his nails!  “These are working hands,” he boasted. “Not the hands of a nancy boy!”  O how we loved those hands!   Grandpa could do anything.  He could make anything. He always had a plan.   “I could have become an engineer,” he told us. “But I was poor and my mother couldn’t afford high school let alone university.”  Because grandpa was a very clever man – an inventor – he always had bright ideas for doing something better.  Gramps was never still – he was always hammering, fixing, making creating –  gadgets for the home – (the toilet roll was a musical box) go carts for us to ride and kites for us to fly.   He was a real hands of grandpa!   When he was sitting still, it was at his workbench in the clock room – he would sit with magnifying monocle squeezed on one eye mending an endless number of watches and clocks.   It was his hobby and a way of making extra cash.   The clock room was where we as children slept when we stayed over.   The walls were lined with a variety of different loudly ticking clocks,  waiting to be returned to their owners and these cuckooed and chimed through the night as well.  But these friendly, comforting noises did not disturb us at all. Nor did Grandpa’s own Grandfather’s clock in the dining room.  How I loved watching him winding and setting it.  It kept perfect time and I loved that old clock chiming the quarter hour and gonging out the hours.

There are many more memories which I think I’d better save for future posts.  My grandparents set a very high grandparenting standard. And so did my parents – what hope have I with such an example to follow!

I have been a granny for 18 years now and I realise that I’m a 21st century model. They don’t make them like they used to!


My amazing grandmother – an original


Gramps at a celebration of one of his anniversaries – always smiling and joking

But when I look at my wonderful hubby, I realise – omigosh – I’ve married my Grandpa!


11 thoughts on “#NABLOPOMO Day 1 Childhood Memories – Grandparents

  1. What a wonderful story Helen I cannot wait to read more. Gee what wonderful times you must have had staying with them. Was your grandfather living at some stage in Fish Hoek I am sure I have seen him here, know that face. Looking forward to the next story.


  2. I love this story. I was raised by my great-Grandmother and when I think of her life, the stories she told me that I wish I had listened to better, I miss her like crazy. Thank you for bringing this to your readers! I love the pictures!!


  3. What wonderful memories. I love the name Quintella. I had never heard it before. I love how you describe your Granny and your description of her conjures up images of my Great-Grandmother, whom I actually never met, but my Mother speaks of much in the way you speak of your Granny. She was a proper Granny, too, by all accounts. Nowadays, quite a lot of my friends kids call their grandparents by their first name. My Mom is “Nanny” to my kids. It would make me sad if the word Granny, Grandad, Nanny, Gramps etc were to become obsolete. Glad to have found your blog through #NaBloPoMo


  4. What a nice post! I came here by way of Blogher, and I’m so glad I did. I’m not quite 50, but I have found myself lately thinking a lot about my childhood and family who are no longer with us. Really enjoyed this post and the pictures of your grandparents. I hope you don’t mind if I bookmark you and stop by again!

    Liked by 1 person

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