Tuesday, 9 April 2013

H is for Holmes Family

My family are awesome. Barmy, quirky and, at times, somewhat annoying, but awesome all the same.

My Mum and Dad met in the summer of '69 and married on my Dad's 20th Birthday, in August 1970.
Mum & Dad on their Wedding Day - 1st August 1970
Mum and the bridesmaids all wore cute hand-made mini-dresses and the bouquets consisted of sweet-pea flowers from a friend's garden. The stories of the day are oft-repeated and, whilst my brother and I roll our eyes when they come around again, the story of the cold beef sandwich-filled reception in my Grandma's garden is very sweet. This simplicity and shared joy of the happy event with friends and family gathered around, tucking into home-made food with so many people giving their time, talents and contributions to make it happen, is very touching. I've enjoyed many lovely wedding celebrations in recent years but often, when I hear of the thousands of pounds that go into such a day, I wonder whether it can really beat a buffet in the back-garden and flowers from friends.

Mum and Dad renewed their vows in 2000 to mark their 30th Wedding Anniversary in a lovely event, which was a little more lavish than their earlier wedding, but very moving. To see your own parents restate the vows that, for them, hold religious significance, as well as personal import, was a lovely experience. In 2010, on Dad's 60th birthday, and their 40th Wedding Anniversary, they held a big party for all their friends and family on a friend's farm. A local band played, we danced to some of their favourite music and everyone bought picnics to enjoy together, sat on hay bales. It seemed a very appropriate reflection of their original day.

Mum & Dad dancing
at their 40th
Wedding Anniversary Party
My Mum trained as a teacher and worked within primary and nursery education throughout my childhood and early teenage years, taking a short career break to be a full time Mum when my brother and I were very little. Mum managed to be a very busy person, often dashing off to village committees, church events or meetings surrounding the charities and organisations she was part of, but she always made lots of time to spend with us, too. Whether it was hiding away from the thunder and lightning with us when we were scared, reading us endless stories, patiently appearing in my self-penned 'plays' or helping me learn readings or speeches for school - with me stood at the top of the stairs 'projecting' down to her in the living room - there was always time for us. I don't know how she did it all. One of Mum's many roles in the village of Carleton, where they now live, is running the village archive, cataloguing artefacts and images that record its long history. They are currently preparing for their next exhibition.

Dad worked as a photographer and film-maker for many years during my childhood, before retraining as a lecturer and working in Further Education for most of my teenage years. He was a very caring and calm figure in my childhood, always keen to encourage us, always finding time for our stories and activities and mediating very well in disagreements. I spent many happy Saturdays 'helping' him with his wedding photography business - his own business that he managed to run alongside working full-time. Teaching full-time myself now, and without even having any children to consider, I know I couldn't manage it. Again, I don't know how he did it. He now runs his own production company and works for an Examination Board, training other teachers in the delivery of courses and monitoring the marking and grading of a number of qualifications. He is in charge of checking the quality of the same course I currently teach and I've done work for the same exam board, which makes for lots of in-depth discussions that bore everyone else when we have family get-togethers. Dad is currently enjoying the fact that a lot of his work is taking him all over the world - to India, Africa, America and all over Europe. He has written a number of textbooks and teacher guides for qualifications he has worked on and, in 2008 we co-wrote a book for students of a new Diploma qualification. 

Tom and I (AKA Tweedledee & Tweedledum)
My brother Tom, is an amazing photographer, who takes great advantage of living in beautiful North Yorkshire by capturing stunning shots of the landscapes, people and events of the region. Like me, he followed Dad's lead and studied Media at University before beginning his own business designing websites and hosting, before focussing more on his photography. I'm so proud of his talent and he is currently undertaking a new venture, selling his work as part of a craft co-operative in Skipton, the
town he lives in. He has such an eye for a shot, influenced, no doubt, by the training behind the lens we both had from Dad in our childhood. We spent a lot of our younger years bickering, despite the fact that I was overwhelmingly excited at his arrival - suggesting the name 'Escalator' as an ideal moniker for my new brother and 'helping' a lot when he arrived. However, I was the model of a bossy big sister and my adventurous, and slightly naughtier, little brother had to endure years of being 'told on' by a goody-two-shoes. We get on really well now, we've plenty of shared interests and I love spending time with him, but I'm sad to think of the years I wasted being petty and irritating.

Tom and I in the
Christmas Card
Very surprisingly, given that we have two amazing photographers in the family, when it comes to having a photo of all four of us together, we fail
Mum's accidental hat is the charm in this one.
miserably. My Dad took endless, wonderful photographs of us as children (and then sent them to everyone as Christmas cards - yes, we were that family). However, when looking for a shot of us all together I find many where some of us look good, but in most someone is not looking at the camera / grimacing / looking drugged / talking / in some way looking a bit odd. Perhaps, like the adage of a builder's home being full of half-finished renovation projects, a photographer is doomed to never be effectively captured on film.

A shot only Tom really comes out of well. 
Overall, we are a family of hugs, laughter, love and support. That isn't to say that there isn't friction - we all grate on each other at times, and in our own distinct ways.  That isn't unusual in families, though, and, frankly, I think it would be dull any other way. I'm lucky to have been brought up in such a caring and encouraging environment and I am continually reminded of how much time, care and sacrifice must have gone into raising my brother and I as I see friends with their own little ones. We are lucky, but, sadly, we are not photogenic!

To be fair, this one was all my fault...

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful post and tribute to your family. I too grew up in a family that was wonderful. My parents are married over 30 years now and when I tell people stories of my childhood, some have a hard time believing it isn't overly sentimental or fictionalized in some way. Like you we have our idiosyncracies. Sometimes my parents being parents can drive me crazy, but you said it best when you said that's what makes it interesting. I loved hearing this story of your history and your parents relationship. Good luck in the A to Z. Jennifer a.k.a. Urban Gypsy Girl