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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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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An Intergenerational Music Exchange

Photographs of the event by Rachel Bywater

On Monday 19th July, under the bright sky of an extraordinarily warm day, a group of excited people gathered at the West Didsbury and Chorlton Football Club.  We weren’t there to watch a match, though in its own way, it was a game of two sides.  One side was a collection of young people from Chorlton High School and the other local people who ranged in age.  Instead of football, we played music.  The results of the match were fantastic for both teams.  Read on to find out more!

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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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Great Storytellers We Have Known

When I heard this topic suggested by Anne and Alberto, I was intrigued and also not sure how I might go about presenting it to the group.  Where to start?  Storytelling has come to mean such a lot of things!  

My first thoughts had me reflecting on the heritage of oral storytelling, particularly the variety of traditional stories we grow up with.  I also started thinking about people I know who are great at the skill of telling a spoken story.  Then my mind jumped to how all modern entertainment, including films, games, t.v. and adverts all use storytelling to deliver a message or way of seeing the world.  Finally, I found myself pondering the many ways that psychologically, spiritually and culturally, we tell ourselves stories all the time, about who we are, where we come from and what the meaning of this often confusing thing called life is.  

I had no clue how to weave these thoughts and more into a brief intro. Instead I chose to start the session with the beginning of a poem called The Storyteller by Mike Jones. I followed this with a couple of simple questions, trusting that the group would perform its usual magic and inspire each other and me into deeper reflections which we could then connect through. The following blog is a testament to the group’s magic which I was right to trust, what great storytellers they all are and how yes, I am truly grateful to know them.

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Spring and Easter

We had such a joyful time sharing our thoughts and memories about spring at our Zoom meeting on Easter Saturday morning.  We hope you enjoy seeing our photographs and reading our writing inspired by the session. If so, we’d love to read comments and reflections from you too.

I love the spring, the feelings and the memories it brings.  My partner and I have shared some wonderful early holidays in Crete, Cyprus and Spain: walking in places we’d find too hot later in the year, along coasts and on hillsides, seeing orchards of apple and almond trees in blossom and cyclamen growing wild. 

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Winter

This week’s winter and Christmas themed session, led by Lucy, revealed so many similarities between different people’s experience, despite any variations in geography or date of birth.

Other people’s recollections helped me recall many things I had entirely forgotten about.  Most of them were food related! Christmas “treats” I didn’t enjoy but didn’t want to miss out on, like Turkish delight.  The special hostess trolley that was wheeled out heavily laden with a Christmas tea in front of festive TV specials at my Nanna and Grandad’s house.  I also was reminded of some more recent winter holidays involving lots of snow, and in the breakout room during the meeting, had a lovely laugh with my friend Sue. We giggled about how, one winter 10 years ago, our tiny little cars managed to somehow get us to work up two separate, very icy hills.  We both remembered the surrealism of the moment, seeing much larger, newer cars abandoned roadside due to their ABS literally putting the breaks on their trip! Both of us ended up being sent home again once we got there, but it was worth it for the memories.

There are some rich and scrumptious pieces of writing in here for you to savour, suggested accompaniment – cup of tea (or even something mulled!). We hope you enjoy reading this lovely blog and it helps you remember times you have enjoyed and remember.  Let us know in the comments what memories came up for you!

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Getting around

Joe led us in a second great session on journeys and transport, this time concentrating on the ways in which we regularly got around, whether on foot, by bike, train or in the cars we owned.  There was so much to talk about!   We shared stories of travelling to school, holiday outings, regular commutes to and from work, some within Manchester and some far away.  As well as vividly re-living those frequent journeys, the people we were with, or were on our way to, featured strongly in our fond memories.   

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Memorable journeys

Our topic of journeys was such a hit that we could have chatted all day!  We decided that we would meet again to carry on the conversation, so this blog post is the first of two on the same theme.  In this one, our stories centre around journeys that especially stand out in our memories, including those in which we felt exhilaration when travelling that way for the first time, or under our own steam. 

Come on our journeys with us, hear our laughter as we recall those adventures and thrills, and listen to our reflections on the past, and regrets about what might have been.  If our stories trigger memories of your own, we’d love to hear them too.  

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