Monthly Archives: June 2018

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A Birthday Spent In A Welsh Cemetery

Sad Reading, Burial Plot For Four,Rocking Dog

Sad Reading, Burial Plot For Four

No, I really didn’t mind spending part of my birthday in a cemetery… honest! I was so pleased to be laying my last poppy for “The Remember Me Project”. Of course I could decide that I want to head to Basra, Baku, Beersheba, The Gaza Strip, and Gallipoli… but that’s perhaps for another day.

My brain has been pretty tangled trying to seek out Driver John Noble Winters grave. Born in Winterbourne, Gloucestershire on 12th April 1881 he was one of a large family born to Frank and Eleanor Winter. In the 1901 Census he is 19 and living in Wales. He is boarding with the Britton family. William Britton, originally from Frampton Cotterell, Gloucestershire is an underground colliery haulier and I suspect may have secured John Winter his job at the mine as a coal hewer (miner).

By the 1911 census John, 29 is married to local Ystrad girl Louisa (nee Parsons) 33. From the census he has been married for 8 years. The household consists of John, Louisa and three children, Charles Henry 7, Emily Eva 4 and Elizabeth Mary 1. They were living in Ystrad, Glamorganshire. John was still working as a coal miner hewer.

As a miner John would have been in a reserved occupation, however mining was incredibly tough and many miners relished the prospect of enlisting. I know that John Winter enlisted at Pentre but at present I do not know when this occurred. He served with the Royal Field Artillery (Service No W5046). At some point he was wounded in France and was shipped back to the UK. Again, it requires more investigation as to how long he was back in the UK before he died.

He died on 17th April 1916 at the Woolwich Military Hospital (Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects (Entry 275813) and was transported back to Wales for burial. He was buried on the 21st April 1916 in Trealaw Cemetery. The plot had already been purchased when John was interred. His son Francis (Oct 1910-Oct 1910) and daughter Ann Ellen (Apr 1914-Apr 1914) had already been buried in the plot (Plot 0387) Later, another daughter Emily Eva would join her father and siblings in the same plot (July 1906- Dec 1921)

With a rough outline of John Winters family life and somewhat sketchy military details it was time to seek out his grave. Somehow I managed to arrive at a different cemetery (Glyntaff) but  the mistake proved to be a godsend! The cemetery has an office which holds all the records for all the cemeteries in the area. The lovely Nadine was really helpful and bought out huge burial registers and I was able to see the Winter entries. She also then very kindly printed out plans of Trealaw cemetery and warned me that it was huge!

We travelled a few miles and we arrived in Trealaw the longest town in the Rhonnda. Nadine you were right – the cemetery was enormous and we needed your plans. In fact the cemetery is roughly a mile long end to end. A real whistle stop tour, the headstones in the cemetery tell the story of mining disasters, lung disease, child mortality, Italian ice cream and war. There are 158 WW1 and WW2 Commonwealth graves in the cemetery, John Winters grave being one of them.

Using the plan I was able to locate Driver Winters’ grave on a steep grassy hillside in the right hand corner of the cemetery. His grave (Plot 0387) had views over to an opposing hillside dotted with sheep and scars of quarrying and mining. It was somehow reminiscent of “How Green Was My Valley”. Behind the headstone the hillside continued and interrupted by a Scots pine which seemed stunted by harsh winters and chill winds blowing through the valley.

I laid my 45th poppy and thought about John Winter lying there in his adopted homeland with three of his children. We seem to think a war grave is just that, but in this case it tells a story of the harsh realities of fleeting fatherhood and child mortality. A life beyond the battlefield.

It was now time to find Johns wife Louisa and a grown up son who are buried in the same cemetery. According to Nadines’ plans they were to be found at the opposite end of the cemetery (yes literally a mile away!) On this one I had to use my best orienteering skills to locate the grave. I somehow wished that the numbers of the plot areas were clearly marked. You had to judge the areas by the shape and tiers of graves whilst comparing the plan. I think I found Louisa’s burial place (Plot D1314), an unmarked grassy “bed”. Louisa died in December 1949 at the age of 72 years (buried 29th December 1949). Her son Charles Henry Winter who died in Chipping Sodbury is also interred there and died in January 1946 (buried 11 January 1946). I felt so sad stood thinking of Louisa, two wars, widowhood, the grime of mining, and more than anything the loss of her children. Apart from the four offspring in the two graves another child Elizabeth Ann died aged 2 days in 1909 and is in an unmarked plot in the cemetery. I wonder how Louisa felt about her “lot”, a very hard life. I laid a poppy for Louisa and family, she was so near and yet so far from the grave of her husband and infant children. It was very poignant.

I am hopeful that this giant jigsaw of piecing together census’s, military records, local archives (Parish magazine reporting John Nobles death) etc… is accurate. Little discrepancy’s with age and records with no mention of his middle name have made this a difficult search.

Please contact me if you know different.

Plots and plans continue for my creation of a WW1 Flower Show table which will be “unveiled” at Frenchay Flower Show on 14th July. I’ll be there with the lovely Sally Stanley and her Parcels of Comfort exhibit.

 

 

John's Wife & Son,Rocking Dog

John’s Wife & Son

Burial Tome,Rocking Dog

Burial Tome

Cross Of Sacrifice,Rocking Dog

Cross Of Sacrifice

On Home Soil,Rocking Dog

On Home Soil

Cross For John,Rocking Dog

Cross For John

Green Valley,Rocking Dog

Green Valley

Scots Pine,Rocking Dog

Scots Pine

So Near..Yet So Far,Rocking Dog

So Near..Yet So Far

Welcome Colour,Rocking Dog

Welcome Colour

The Week That Was, Life’s Rich Tapestry

Kaffe Fassett's Rich Tapestry,Rocking Dog

Kaffe Fassett’s Rich Tapestry

Life has been a rich tapestry of differing threads since my last post. There has been a trip to Bath and a lovely meet up with son, daughter in law and sparkling new little Freddie. Apart from the delight of a new baby to cuddle, how rewarding it is to watch your children parent. After coffee and cake and a well meaning mother in law .. “you need to rest”, (I really wasn’t asking for a Victorian six week lying in period…honest!) I took my leave. “Makery” Roman blind instructions picked up, I chanced upon Kaffe Fassett and Candace Bahouth’s exhibition “A Celebration of Flowers” at the Victoria Art Gallery. It was spectacularly colourful and temptingly tactile. There was patchwork, mad mosaic, needlepoint and painting. Eye poppingly inspirational.

I finished my second Rocking Dog patchwork quilt of the year earlier in the week and it will be shortly leaving the kennel to grace and warm another bed. The blind is indeed next in the queue and then a back up of other makes ranging from quilts, a certain wedding coat and Rocking Dog prototypes. The unused overlocker is looking forlorn and needs some dedicated time to make it feel loved and needed. It really is the elephant in the workroom!

The weekend was glorious so with Andyman away playing his flaming bagpipes on the Isle of Man a friend and I spontaneously took ourselves to The Pig near Bath. We had a relaxing afternoon in the garden eating wood fired flatbread and posh choc ice. It was one of those blissful English summer days and was completed by the inevitable meander around the delightful kitchen garden.

A large mountain of ironing, admin’ and a half hearted attempt at cleaning were the more mundane bits of the week, a domestic tapestry!

Flowers were picked for a bright 88 year old neighbour and somehow we ended up reading snake poems by DH Lawrence and Sylvia Plath. We also talked about the frustrations of age related failing faculties. Unfortunately I know you won’t be reading this Molly, but you are AMAZING! Interested and Interesting, together with being a fount of knowledge on “Time-Team”!

Stem ginger scones were baked and given. How delicious they are served with apricot conserve and clotted cream. Not much else to report on the cooking front.

I have been trying to tie up my WW1 Flower Show table for 14th July. My brain is rather full. I know i’m slightly barking as i’m signing present day forms etc.. with a 1918 date. Oops! This week I have been researching eggs and how they were collected for wounded soldiers. There was a National Campaign set up by Frederick Carl, editor of “Poultry World” who classed eggs as as a superfood for the wounded. Even pre-war many families kept a few hens, but now the campaign encouraged hen owners to donate an egg or two for ailing soldiers. Children in particular were encouraged to get involved with the egg campaign and the eggs were often collected together on school premises. In November 1914 a target of 20,000 eggs a week was set to send to the wounded in Boulogne. By August 1915 over a million eggs were received for overseas. This figure didn’t include those eggs that had been sent directly to local hospitals. In the course of the war 32 million eggs had been sent to hospitals in France and Belgium.

Many of the eggs arrived with the soldiers complete with decoration, patriotic messages and names & addresses. This sometimes led to pen pal correspondence and even a wedding! I started researching eggs because in the local parish magazines of the Great War period there were poultry husbandry meetings held at the village hall. I wanted to ascertain the relevance and importance of such meetings.

So indeed there will be a display of WW1 inspired decorated eggs on my Flower Show table.

Today I am visiting my last soldiers grave in Trealaw Cemetery the Rhondda, Wales. Driver John Noble Winter of the Royal Field Artillery died from wounds 17th April 1916. Born in Winterbourne, Gloucestershire by the 1901 census he is 19 years old and working as a coal hewer. Untangling a short life is a brain boggling investigative tapestry. Later today The Remember Me Project will have laid the last poppy on British soil and number 45 of the 53 Whiteshill Memorial names. We Will Remember Them.

I hope your weekend is filled with threads of wonderful things, creating your own rich and diverse life tapestry.

Love Rocking Dog x

PS. Our bath, yes that old chestnut, is on its way! Currently it is out in the ocean after a port of call in Kuwait. Rather like Parcel Force you can track its movements using Vessel Finder, very exotic! It will eventually head up the Suez Canal, it’s taking provenance to the extreme… but then I always love a good story!

Mad Mosaic,Rocking Dog

Mad Mosaic

Kaffe's Patches,Rocking Dog

Kaffe’s Patches

My Patches,Rocking Dog

My Patches

Food Tapestry,Rocking Dog

Food Tapestry

Posh Choc' Ice,Rocking Dog

Posh Choc’ Ice

On Its Way!,Rocking Dog

On Its Way!

Flower Gift,Rocking Dog

Flower Gift

Bakers Dozen,Rocking Dog

Bakers Dozen

Baked Gift,Rocking Dog

Baked Gift

Flower Show,Rocking Dog

Flower Show

Egg Research,Rocking Dog

Egg Research

Brain Space,Rocking Dog

Brain Space

Out With May, In With June!

A New Baby In The Ferguson Fold,Rocking Dog

A New Baby In The Ferguson Fold

May came and went in the wink of an eye! It’s been busy. We are joyous to have welcomed another little Ferguson into the family last week. Another sweet little grandson has bounced into our lives. Newborn babies are scrunched up balls of scrumminess! Thank you to all the wonderful staff at the Royal United Hospital, Bath. The care was inspiring.

There have been spring bunnies aplenty this May. A bunny blind waits to be sewn on my work bench for the scrunched up little ball. I have lost my “Makery” instructions and feel rather lost. Like a well used recipe (Nigella’s Chocolate Brownie for instance) I somehow still feel I need the printed instructions in front of me, a metaphorical comfort blanket! Another bunny came in the form of Eric, a therapy pet who came along to Young Carer’s together with his three Chihuahua “siblings”. I loved the session, what could be more relaxing than stroking a super huge rabbit! As for the bunny field it is full of sweet smelling clover, buttercups, wild sorrel, moon daisies and grasses. Truly beautiful, and enhanced by the pair of swallows that arrive late afternoon which dart so expertly over the sun baked flora.

There was another rabbit to spot in Montpelier when Andyman and I ventured to Geo Jones for bathroom fittings (yawn!) Nearby Picton Street is vibrant and buzzy with some jazzy murals, cafes and one or two nice little shops. It’s an area of Bristol i’d like to spend more time discovering.

There have been great seasonal eats during May with the arrival of British asparagus and continued crops of rhubarb in the garden. How wonderful to see Jersey Royals in the shops again… what could be more delicious!

There has been a quilt that has left the kennel, one that is underway and another which waits for another day. When I was waiting for news of the new babe I tried to distract myself with cutting patchwork squares… it turns out rather badly. The truth be known i’d have rather been in that delivery room knowing what was going on. Once a midwife, always a midwife! I’ll somehow try to cobble and make good my ragged patchwork squares when the time comes… at least it’s the quilt i’m planning for our bed!

Thank you to the lovely electrician who arrived on the same day as the baby. Phew! he didn’t run a mile when he saw the copper lights made by an eccentric Italian chef. We have light in parts of the house that hasn’t seen the light of day for a long time. Yay! progress in our crumbly home.

A considerable amount of my time has been taken up with my “Remember Me Project”. There have been the Gloucestershire graves visited, tidied, poppy laid and photographed. There has been ongoing online research, a visit to Frenchay Museum and a recording done for a radio programme. I am now trying to focus on getting my WW1 Flower Show table organised and created. I have been researching fruit cakes which were especially popular to send out to soldiers in the trenches. There was an official recipe released by the government so that families could bake an economical cake for their loved ones. The recipe contained no eggs and relied on the reaction between vinegar and baking soda to make it rise. It’s been fascinating especially all the facts i’ve learnt about the home front in my local area. More information about the Rocking Dog Flower Show Table will turn up in a future post.

So with May now away.. what does June hold? Perhaps our bath will arrive after its long sea voyage from India, the sun may shine all month, there’ll be gooseberries to pick, babies to cuddle, a soldiers grave to visit in Wales and hopefully guests eating around our table. Oh yes….. there’s the small matter of a concert to go to. My girls are taking me to see Beyonce and Jayzee…..now that wasn’t on my 60 by 60 list! I’m sure it will be great fun.

I hope the month of June brings you many very happy and sunny moments.

Love Rocking Dog x

One Quilt Done,Rocking Dog

One Quilt Done

Another Underway,Rocking Dog

Another Underway

One For Another Day,Rocking Dog

One For Another Day

Bunny Blind,Rocking Dog

Bunny Blind

 Therapeutic Bunny,Rocking Dog

Therapeutic Bunny

& Bunny Field,Rocking Dog

& Bunny Field

Regal Rabbit,Rocking Dog

Regal Rabbit

Whizzy Mural,Rocking Dog

Whizzy Mural

& A Batty One!,Rocking Dog

& A Batty One!

Asparagus Season!,Rocking Dog

Asparagus Season!

Rhubarb Anyone?,Rocking Dog

Rhubarb Anyone?

A Good Tart,Rocking Dog

A Good Tart

Research Of The Brave,Rocking Dog

Research Of The Brave

Not Trench Cake,Rocking Dog

Not Trench Cake

Remember Me,Rocking Dog

Remember Me