Tag Archives: Trousseau

Midwifery, Monograms And Mishaps

Written In Red, Rocking Dog

Written In Red

It feels as if I have always loved monograms. Perhaps my earliest memories of monograms were my Dad’s monogramed handkerchiefs in the early sixties. This was an age before the advent of paper tissues. Boxed handkerchiefs were a somewhat boring Christmas present staple for both women and men.

Much later when I was training to be a midwife in Cardiff I had an introduction to Italian monogram’d linens. I was doing a community placement with an experienced midwife, Rina. In her fifties, she was a glamorous, vivacious and busty Italian. One lunch time she took me to see a little Italian family and that’s when I was taken to see drawerful’s of truly beautiful monogramed linens. I was told that all the Italian villagers had come together to embroider household linens and nightwear for the couple as they started their married life together.

In many countries a monogrammed trousseau represented a display of wealth. The intricacy and elaborateness of the stitching and cloth denoted a families standing in society. In the 14th century 7 year old Isabelle of France received a trousseau when she became betrothed to Richard II. In the 19th century a Parisian department store advocated a trousseau should include 6 pairs of sheets, 2 dozen pillowcases, 3 dozen napkins, 3 tablecloths, hand towels, dishcloths and aprons.

For a long time I have loved collecting the odd piece of monogram’d textile to add colour and texture to the kennel. Perugia market on a Saturday is a good place to feed my monogram habit. Some linens I reconfigure into cushions, whilst others I simply covet!

I am no embroiderer myself, but really appreciate the handiwork of others. My lovely friend Stephanie M does amazing work with needle and thread. She loves using historic alphabets, wonderful linens and threads. If there are items to be filled, she stuffs them with the most amazing aromatic concoctions. Moth’s be very afraid!

Now for the mishap bit of the post! Dear Rina and I went to do a post- natal visit at a house in central Cardiff. We knocked on the door and were let in by two very smiley Bangladeshi ladies. We set our bags down on the coffee table, took off our coats and put on our aprons. We washed our hands and were kindly provided with soap and towel. We then asked the ladies to fetch the baby. Presently we heard them come down the stairs and re-enter the room. The “baby” was a seven year old trousered boy. We were in the wrong house! Laughter crosses any language barrier.

I find it somewhat disconcerting that some of the babes I delivered will now be in their early thirties. Sorry couldn’t resist a George link, I remember playing it on my Sony Walkman as I walked between community visits.

Characterful Curls, Rocking Dog

Characterful Curls

Love This, Rocking Dog

Love This

Book Inspiration, Rocking Dog

Book Inspiration

Wooden Letters, Rocking Dog

Wooden Letters

All In White, Rocking Dog

All In White

Block Capitals, Rocking Dog

Block Capitals

Matrimonial Nightwear, Rocking Dog

Matrimonial Nightwear

Beautiful Embroidery, Rocking Dog

Beautiful Embroidery

M&S Monogram, Rocking Dog

M&S Monogram

Heavenly Diamond Anniversary.

Newly Wed, Rocking Dog

Newly Wed

Today would have been my parents Diamond Wedding Anniversary. Alas, they barely made their 30th wedding anniversary on earth, but nevertheless I am thinking of them today.

I’d like to think that they are in orbit somewhere enjoying a Dubonnet and a neat Scotch together. Mum will be entertaining other heavenly friends and relatives. Athenian Mince, Beef Stroganoff or a home made Chicken Pie could feature on the menu together with a sweet trolley laden with Apple pie, Black Forest Gateaux, Scandinavian Peasant Girl with Veil and a Cheese board (naturally featuring Cambazola). Dad will take charge of the drinks, but woe betide anyone wanting anything non alcoholic, soft drinks really do not enter Dad’s vocabulary! I expect Mum will have insisted on a no gift invitation- not for her any crystal paperweights, cut glass champagne flutes etc…There will undoubtedly be the usual arguments about my Dad’s mismatched garments and the cross firing of whether something is beige or grey, clean or grubby! Reluctantly he will climb heaven’s staircase to change into a further something greige! There will be an eclectic musical background “fuzz” on a pretty awful record deck. Dad in musical meistro control will select Mantovani or Glenn Miller, and my Mum A-ha (Take on me), Dawn (Tie a yellow Ribbon), Charles Aznavour (She) and The Manhattan Transfer (Chanson D’amour). Though she loved Leonard Cohen even she will draw the line at playing any of his tracks for an upbeat party. Mum was a great host and Dad very convivial and cheery whilst serving extra large measures of everything. So, I expect this heavenly party will be no different. I’m also certain that Mum will want to get the dishes and glasses washed before retiring to bed!

Their wedding day is assigned to a large brown paper envelope and their honeymoon snaps stuck into a thick sugar paper album. A newspaper article beautifully describes Bab’s and Doug’s wedding day and gives a real flavour of a 1950’s wedding.The description of the dress tells us that it was made of nylon tulle over taffeta, with lace flower and bolero detail. The article also describes the going away outfit, flowers, bridesmaids gifts, and hymns sung during the service. I know that my mum later dyed her wedding dress and wore it as an evening dress. I love the fact that my oldest girl, Sorrel was delighted to don her grandmother’s wedding ring when she got married in 2011.

As for the honeymoon they went to Austria and it was the first time my mum had ever flown. I remember her talking about her wedding trousseau (French- meaning bundle), pretty full skirted cotton sundresses and the like. After the honeymoon there were several years of hard graft and penury doing up a house before we little lot (me and two siblings) came along. They loved Seefeld and returned a few years before my Mum died in 1985. I wonder if my Mum smoked a pipe on that holiday and whether dad packed his kilt!

I wish we were celebrating this anniversary on earth with them. Instead we’ll raise a glass to them and hope that their heavenly celebration is simply raucous!

Wedding Day, Rocking Dog

Wedding Day

Pipe Smoking Mama!, Rocking Dog

Pipe Smoking Mama!

Kilt & Cows, Rocking Dog

Kilt & Cows

After The Honeymoon!, Rocking Dog

After The Honeymoon!