Welcome to the second blog post on the theme of Special Times, following on from a lively face-to-face meeting between fifteen members of the group.  I wish I’d been able to be there! Jolene said so many interesting stories were shared on the day, and people were so engrossed that it was hard to bring the meeting to an end. 

In this post, you can read Jean’s account of a very special story Esther shared with her about her son, his wife and their children.  You can see the art work Kathryn created after she and Anne were amazed to discover that they had lived in the exact same place in Crete at different points in time.  Finally, you can read Tony’s special memories of a happy “Blue-moon” day at Wembley stadium.    

A conversation with Esther by Jean Thompson

It was lovely to share the session today with Esther.  We found we had had similar “red letter” days which mainly focused around our respective children.   Esther’s special memories were particularly heart-warming, and she said she would be happy for me to share what she had said for this blog post.

When she had her 60th birthday celebrations in 1996 her son asked her who he should bring as his companion.  She said he should bring the person he thought he could share the rest of his life with, and who he thought would be the mother of his children.  That was how Esther met her future daughter-in-law.

Her son and daughter-in-law had not been able to have children and were on the point of planning to adopt a child.  At this point, her son was 53 and his wife 43, so they maybe thought it would not happen.  On Christmas Day 2015, Esther was out with them for their traditional Christmas Lunch. When it got to the dessert stage, her son asked her “and what would Nana like?”. Esther said it took her a moment or two to realise that she was being told that her son and daughter-in-law were going to have their first baby! Such joy and excitement on such a day.  Esther said she still felt emotional when she remembered it.  Her granddaughter Amber was born the following August and gives Esther such pleasure.  That announcement was even more poignant as Esther’s mother had also always been known as Nana and it was continuing the circle.

Still more excitement was to come though, as in 2019, her son waved a scan under her nose to let her know another baby was on its way.  Actually two babies, as the scan was of twins. Sadly, one of them did not make the journey to birth but the remaining twin girl was born healthy in 2020, and is called Piper.  Esther feels very blessed to have these little girls in her life now after such a long time thinking there would be no grandchildren.

Kathryn Walls

Kathryn has drawn a map of Crete showing the location of her house in Amari village near the Prassinos gorge.  An arrow points to a small drawing of the flat roofed single story house on a street with trees.  Along the top of the island the words "Red Letter Days" are drawn stylishly in red with a black background, and along the bottom of the island, the words "On Crete" are written in white with a blue background.   Above the island, there is a drawing of griffen vultures flying and nesting in the gorge.  A blue wavy sea surrounds the island.

Tony Goulding

The match ticket

Returning to the theme of Red-Letter days / memorable moments, we recently had a very enjoyable meet-up in Chorlton-cum-Hardy library.  On this occasion, I could not resist reliving a football memory and what might, perhaps, be more aptly described as a “Blue-Moon Day”.  It was my team Manchester City’s return to Wembley Stadium for the first time in more than a decade, and their first appearance in a major match there since 1981.

A picture of the white twin towers of Wembley stadium on a sunny day, with blue sky and clouds in the background
Merv Payne, CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

 This would have been sweet enough, but what made the experience extra special was that the game, an F.A. Cup Semi-Final, was against local rivals Manchester United and resulted in a “City” victory.  Again, it is one very particular moment which is etched in my memory.  

A photograph of Tony's ticket for the Manchester City v Manchester United match at Wembley, which took place on Saturday 16th April 2011 with a 5.15pm kick off. The ticket shows Tony's block, row and seat number and a coloured photograph of the shiny silver Football Association Challenge Cup, with a red background showing the sponsors name, e-on.  The ticket cost  fifty pounds.

Oddly it was not the winning goal, or the later celebrations, I vividly remember, but the moment I saw the referee head to the centre circle, as this indicated to me that the final whistle was imminent.

City, of course, went on to beat Stoke City 1-0 in the Final and win the club’s first major silverware since 1976.  A final I missed, which meant that for me there was a gap of 41 years between seeing my team win a cup at Wembley stadium!

Tony's  ticket for "The Football League Cup Final" in the West Standing Enclosure, on Saturday, March 7th, 1970 with a kick off at 3.30pm.  The ticket cost ten shillings.

However, it is that victory over our local rivals and particularly the relief when the referee signalled the end of the game which remains my stand out footballing memory.

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