Memorable Winter Walks

This session took place on the 18th of December at Chorlton Library where we were joined by special guests from The Migrant Destitution Fund.  We shared some mince pies and brews as we got to know each other, then swapped memories of times spent walking in the wintertime. In this post, you can hear recordings of some of what was said during the session, read the reflections written after it, as well as see some contributions from some members of the Stories of our lives group who were not able to attend on the day.  This blog contains a wide scope of tales from the poignant, inspiring, funny, personal and evocation that will likely get you thinking and remembering your own recollections of strolls in the cold.  I recommend you get comfortable and cosy with a warm drink before you start to get the maximum benefit!

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Christmas Memories

This festive-themed post includes writing from an online session where I encouraged everyone to think about Christmases past then bring back some details to share with the group.  We communicated in laughter, relaxed chat and moments of contemplation, and all felt a little bit more festive afterwards. Merry Christmas to you from all of us at The Stories Of Our Lives group!

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Special Times Part Two

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.    

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Special Times Part One 

At the request of the group, today’s topic for our online meeting was “Red Letter” days and holidays.  Reflecting on special moments that were physically warmer or emotionally bright for us, turned out to be the perfect choice to lift all our spirits during this transition into darker nights and chillier mornings.  

I started by reading the beginning of a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: 

"The holiest of all holidays are those
kept by ourselves in silence and apart;
the secret anniversaries of the heart."

and then guided the group to think about the moments that have most stood out for them and why. 

The conversation afterwards was incredibly rich and moving, with lots of laughter and memories shared. As always, it was so lovely to notice how others’ memories had a contagious effect on mine like yawning or laughter do!

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“I had one of those!” A community-building event at Chorlton Library.

Do you have objects around your house that act as a portal to a place filled with memories and stories? Our participants certainly do! We had lots of fun sharing our old items and their associations during this session which we co-hosted with Sophie Woodward, Professor of Sociology at Manchester University. The event was supported by the ESRC Festival of Social Science, which is an annual, UK-wide, free celebration of the social sciences. 

Objects shared by local people as well as members of the group were displayed around the room as a way to explore a range of issues, including things like interview methods, memory work and building connection and community.  It was a great success, with lots of fabulous stories shared and several new connections sparked.

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Clothes and fashion

Treasured memories came tumbling out of the wardrobes Jolene invited us to picture in our minds.  We shared stories of clothes worn on special occasions, in our school days, of clothes made for us with love, as rebellious teenagers, and more.  Some of us met online, some face to face a fortnight later, but we all enjoyed the rich theme (or should I say seam!) of the clothes we wore in the past and the lives we lived then. 

Here are a few of the stories and photographs some of us chose to write up afterwards. Coincidentally, the stories all have warm memories of our mothers stitched into them.

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Coincidences and Consequences

We had a choice of two themes for our meeting on 14th August, either “coincidences – truth can be stranger than fiction” or “unexpected happenings with good results”.    These led to a fascinating discussion of the strange experiences we’d all had in our lives.   Maybe the longer we live the more likely we are to gather such amazing stories.  Maybe like the dreams we don’t remember, there are many more coincidences we simply don’t notice.   Maybe it would be an even stranger world if coincidences or the unpredictable never happened.  It would certainly be a duller one! 

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Audio-biography recordings

Recently, we had a very friendly and talented guest in the form of Gillian Torres. Gillian is a writer who also helps people connect to their own voices and tell their own tales, through therapeutic writing and cathartic conversations. She also has her own website called http://audioautobio.com/ where she offers an audio memoir service that is very much in keeping with our values at The Stories of Our Lives. When I chatted to her about our group and this blog, she wanted to come along and offer her services to our members so we could get a taste of what she does.

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Summer Memories

Celebrating times gone by, as we simultaneously enjoy what is currently happening, is the fine balance that this group is often blessed to find during our discussions and reflections.  The current brighter, warmer days have admittedly helped create this balance as we ponder on past summer memories and associations!

I was certainly left feeling uplifted by hearing the sunny memories the group shared.  What stood out for me was the mention of adventures in mountains, laughter shared with friends and family, the rituals of regular holidays, cricket games, sunburn stories, ice creams under endless blue skies and simple but delicious picnics.  I hope you enjoy these stories too. Please comment below with memories of your own! 

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Intergenerational Penpals

Recently, our group has reached out to the wider community and formed new connections across the generations.  Part of this has involved a joyful exchange. We shared our blog post on our much-loved toys and games with a class of Year 5 pupils at Chorlton Primary School and then, after reading our memories, the children wrote back to thank us and tell us about their favourite toys and activities.  Read on to see what they shared.

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